A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Side Notes’ Category

Nothing To See Here

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I’ve spent the last two days on a trip for work. I ended up on the red eye flight back home so I didn’t have the energy to get anything posted for today. To entertain yourselves I’ll leave you with a son off of Perturbator’s new album (not everything I listen to is metal, I also enjoy retro-style electronic music):

Written by Christopher Burg

May 11th, 2016 at 10:00 am

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Notoj Por Esperanto

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Duolingo havas notojn por esperanto sed vi ne povas vidi ilin en la softvaro por poŝtelefonoj. Bonŝance, iu kolektis la notojn kaj metis ilin en unu dokumento. Vi povas elŝuti ilin ĉi tie.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 11th, 2016 at 10:00 am

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Codes Of Conduct

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It’s a day ending in “y”, which means somebody in the technology community has to be butthurt over all the mean nasty things the big evil social justice warriors are saying. Today’s outrage is brought to us by an anonymous developer who is really unhappy with pushes to include codes of conduct as part of open source projects:

Religious wars in software used to be about a fat bearded man named He-macs wrestling a pencil-neck named Vimmy over what text editor to use, but now FOSS devs are concerned about making sure marginalized human beings feel “welcome,” as if someone was trying to physically block newcomers. That opens the door to social justice and other buzzwords that prigs use to feel better about themselves, and utopian visions documented in “Codes of Conduct,” or CoC.

The sentiment behind a CoC is that there is no excuse for being an ass, which sounds great until you realize that only a select few people get to decide who’s an ass. So when open source leaders want to stop you from doing free work they can pretend that its your fault for violating their code instead of admitting they never really wanted to include just anybody. They’ve managed to make exclusivity look inclusive, and it makes me crazy that so few people see that.

To read the developer’s screed you’d think the concept of codes of conduct is something new cooked up by social justice activists to marginalize the old hats in the open source community. But codes of conduct are nothing new, in fact we all live with them every day. And pushing for codes of conduct that forward your interests is also nothing new.

For example, do you wear pants when you go out in public? I’m guessing, unfortunately, most people reading this will answer yes. Wearing pants in public is the norm. Why is that? Because it’s a code of conduct that most people have decided to abide by.

Here’s another example, when you walk into a lecture do you immediately start screaming obscenities at the speaker? Most people reading this will probably answer no. When you attend a lecture it’s the norm to shut the fuck up until the speaker is ready to take questions. This is another code of conduct that most people have decided to abide by.

Getting more specific than that, most employees sign an agreement when they take on a job that includes, amongst other things, a code of conduct. Such novel ideas that are commonly included in these agreements are prohibitions against sexually harassing co-workers, showing up on time, and expectations that you won’t be a raging asshole when caught in a disagreement with co-workers.

None of the above mentioned codes of conduct are set in stone either. They’re constantly subject to change based on the desires of a vocal subgroup within the overall community. I know a lot of programmers that have spent countless hours bitching about companies that require employees to dress business casual. These programmers want to show up in their jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. By and large they have succeeded as the generally acceptable attire for working in the field of software development has become more lax.

Codes of conduct within societies have also changed (and do so about once per generation). The attire most men and women wear today would have been considered almost entirely unacceptable merely a generation or two ago. Our grandparents probably think men today dress like slobs and women dress like whores. Today less than a suit and tie is generally considered acceptable attire for a man in public just as a dress that doesn’t come down to the ankles is considered acceptable attire for a woman in public.

Another societal code of conduct that has changed over the last generation or two is the acceptable use of force. Not too long ago it was considered somewhat acceptable to deck a guy who was acting like a complete asshole. If the person who was hit complained response they would have received would have been some variation of, “You asked for it.” Today almost any use of force can result in assault charges and/or civil lawsuits.

Now people are trying to introduce certain codes of conduct into open source projects. This shouldn’t be surprising to anybody since the number of software developers is increasing and that increase is carrying a lot of diversity that didn’t previously exist. As is common in such situations the old guard and the new guard aren’t seeing eye to eye. Both sides want things to be a certain way and they’re arguing passionately over their differences. In all likelihood things will end up shaking out somewhere in the middle.

So what can you do if you don’t want to be effected by these changes? The same thing people throughout history have done when they didn’t want to be effected by changes, break off and do your own thing. If you work on your own project or for your own business you can set whatever rules you like. What’s that you say? You don’t want to? Tough shit. When you work for somebody, whether it’s for free on an open source project or for pay at a business, you have to play by the rules set down by the higher ups. The only way you can truly play by your own rules is to be your own boss.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 26th, 2016 at 11:00 am

I’ll Be Off For A Few Days

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Grandma Burg passed away at 8:45 on Christmas Day. She made it 90 years on this rock and although it is certainly hard on those of us still cruising on this spaceship her final years weren’t easy ones and it’s comforting knowing her suffering is over. And a more appropriate day than Christmas could not be had for a person as dedicated to Christ as herself.

In her 90 years she managed to raise five kids and keep my grandfather in line (no easy feat). Not only that but she managed those accomplishments while maintaining the most positive attitude I’ve every witnessed. She was a great person and this spaceship is diminished by her loss.

I’ll be away from this blog for a few days. Between the funeral and other matters that must be attended to my focus will be very much elsewhere.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am

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Have A Good Christmas

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Have a good Christmas, everybody.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Government: Where Customer Service Is Nonexistent

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Here in Minnesota we’re required to renew our driver’s license every four years. What should, at most, involve submitting a simple online form requires one to physically go to a licensing center, wait in line, fill out a form, and receive an absurdly large piece of paper that you have to carry around for the next month until your new license arrives by snail mail. What makes this process even more miserable is that the only criteria that seems to be on a licensing center’s application is “Are you a miserable fuck who will take out your misery on our customers?”

I had to visit two licensing centers. The first one I visited is a licensing center I had visiting a few years ago to get a passport. While its website claimed it did passports when I finally got to talk to an employee, after waiting for half an hour in line, I was told that the center no longer does passports. This time I decided I would ask the information desk before waiting in line. Instead of answering my simple question the lady working the information desk simply kept repeating, “Sir, you’ll have to take a number.” It would have taken no time to say either “Yes” or “No”. But she’s a government employee and has no motivation to provide customer service since I am legally required to do business with her employer. Needless to say I wasn’t going to wait for half an hour to ask a question just so I could wait for another half an hour to get my stupid license so I went elsewhere.

The second licensing center wasn’t a whole lot better. Fortunately the lady working at the information desk wasn’t a total dipshit and handed me a driver’s license renewal form to fill out. Why I have to fill out a physical form when they could simply pull up my information and ask if there are any changes that need to be made is beyond me. But I filled it out and was given a number. From there I proceeded to wait… and wait… and wait. When my number was finally called I had the fun of forking over the renewal fee (licenses only exist to extract wealth from people so there’s always a fee attached), waiting for five minutes while the clerk entered the information I wrote on the form into the computer, doing an absurd vision test, and getting my picture taken all so I could receive my new license in two to four weeks.

Licensing centers are perfect examples of government idiocy. Customer service is nonexistent and their technology is never updated to improve the process. Any sane place would have simply brought up the data that’s already in the database, asked if anything has changed, made any needed changes, and printed out a new license on the spot. Instead you’re subjected to the same process that has been used since driver’s licenses became a thing, which doesn’t scale with population growth. Physical forms have to be filled out, even though your data is already in their database, only so a clerk can reenter that data into their database. Instead of receiving your new license on the spot you have to carry around a giant carbon copy of the form you filled out, complete with your social security number printed on it, for a few weeks while somebody somewhere prints your license and mail it to you. But the worst part is the rude employees who seem to enjoy their tiny bit of power far too much. If you’re lucky you might find a licensing center that employs a decent human being or two. However, since you’re required to do business with them, there’s no motivation by the State to reprimand or fire rude employees so they become the norm.

Licensing centers truly are some of the vilest places on Earth.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 15th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Work Of Art

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When it comes to watches my taste tend to be more on the simple and practical sides. I like simple watch faces and cases and prefer a watch that can take a bit of a beating without breaking down. Adoring a case with a bunch of fancy designs doesn’t usually sit well with me. But sometimes somebody engraves a watch that turns out stunning even to my simple tastes.

Art like this isn’t something I’d ever spend $16,000.00 on. But I do appreciate somebody spending the $16,000 so I can admire it.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 11th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Mi Finis La Esperantan Arbon En Duolingo

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Nun la reala lernado komencas!

finished-the-esperanto-tree

It’s taken me nearly 100 days but I have finally completed the Esperanto tree on Duolingo. Between Duolingo’s course, Lernu’s dictionary, and Memrise’s various Esperanto courses I feel I’ve obtained a good enough understanding of the language to call myself a beginner. I say I only qualify as a beginner because I now have a fairly solid understanding of the grammar and a large enough vocabulary to write somewhat complex sentences. That doesn’t mean I can write sentences without making numerous grammatical mistakes and I don’t always select the correct word to accurately translate my thoughts. But I’m not at a point where I can start holding simple conversations and understand a lot of written material I come across.

What is truly remarkable about this is that I have gotten this far using only free online tools. The true value of the Internet, in my opinion, is the commodification of information. A free (to you) education on almost any subject is available to anybody with an Internet connection. While it’s true not everybody has an Internet connection the current availability of information is far greater than it was before the Internet. In time Internet connectivity will likely become commodified to such a point that almost everybody who wants to be connected will be connected. The future is looking to be pretty fucking awesome.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 9th, 2015 at 10:30 am

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Sick Leave

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I’m sick as hell and don’t feel like writing anything. See you again when I get better.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am

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This Thanksgiving

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Today is Thanksgiving. Regardless of your views on what the holiday actually means it is commonly used as an excuse for family members to come together. Politicos therefore see this as another excuse to push their personal agenda. Just as they did last year and the year before the politicos are telling people “This Thanksgiving talk to your family about gun control,” “This Thanksgiving talk to your family about the minimum wage,” “This Thanksgiving talk to your family about health insurance.”

Traditionally there have been two topics considered off limits in polite company: religion and politics. This Thanksgiving treat your family like polite company. It’ll ensure your family remains a family and not a bunch of people who hate each other even though they share the same last name.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am

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