Architechnosecurigeek. Tinkerer. General trouble maker.
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Help! I’m Making A Weirdly Big Deal Out Of A Thing That I Think Is No Big Deal So Why Does It Have To Be Such A Big Deal, It’s Honestly Not That Big Of A Deal, So Everyone Should Just Do What I Say Because Why Do They Care About This So Much Like It’s Some Kind Of Big Deal, It’s Functionally Meaningless, That’s Why I Must Have My Way Or Else, Stop Overreacting!!!!!

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Care And Feeding, Slate, 31 October 2021:

Dear Care and Feeding,

My tween has requested they/them pronouns and a new name. We are changing our habits on the pronouns, but we haven’t gone along with the name change. Though their first name is stereotypically feminine, we more often use the shorter stereotypically masculine form (think Samantha to Sam). Their middle name is gender ambiguous. These names were chosen with much love following a family/cultural naming tradition. While we are supportive of using any version of these given names to reflect our child’s gender, we aren’t on board with a name change. We will not call Sam(antha) Simon, Stevie or Susie. Is this so wrong?

—What’s in a Name?

Dear What’s In A Name?

I can’t think of any family tradition more important than making sure children know that they are beholden to the whims of their parents forever, and that they must never be allowed to assert themselves or self-advocate in any way that does not entirely comport with their parents’ personal preferences. After all, it was your child’s decision to be born to you personally, and now here they come tap-dancing into the world as a full-on independent human as if they didn’t specifically ask Baby Jesus to assign them to you! They had every opportunity to choose to be born to any other family on earth, but they didn’t, and so now they’ve thereby agreed to have every part of their identity dictated by you, indefinitely and without even the mildest opposition.

The last thing you want is your child growing up to be a self-assured, independent human who knows their own mind and can ensure that their needs are met on planet earth! That’s not what parenting is all about! You lovingly gave them a name and you will lovingly use it at them no matter how much they hate it, lovingly!

Anyway, you said it yourself: what’s in a name?? It’s such a tiny, piddly thing — since it doesn’t matter at all, and it’s practically not even worth caring about not even a little bit, and it really is just wholly inconsequential, it’s genuinely just downright silly that anyone cares all that much about what they’re called, like truly, who could even be bothered? Not you, that’s for sure! That’s why you can only call your kid one of two names that you came up with a decade ago and nothing else ever no matter what!

What could be more loving than honoring your child’s name and pronouns? Why, forcing your child to use the name you gave them because your personal preference is more important than your child having the core of their identity respected by the most important people in their life, of course! Nothing wrong with that! Stay strong in your convictions, and you will enjoy many great opportunities to call your child by the name you gave them in the coming years — to their voicemail, to their email “spam” folder, and in text messages to phone numbers they no longer use.

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petrilli
6 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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Claim: Theranos's Elizabeth Holmes duped Betsy DeVos out of $100m

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Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, is on trial charged with fraud related to the company's collapse. But here's something to like about her: she allegedly screwed Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos out of $100m along the way.

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was given false and misleading information before investing $100 million into Theranos, whose founder and former CEO is on trial for allegedly defrauding investors and patients about the company's blood-testing technology, a representative for the DeVos family office said.

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petrilli
35 days ago
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IF true, this certainly improves my opinion of Holmes.
Arlington, VA
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Help! I Am Experiencing The Highly Predictable and Eminently Logical Consequences of My Decision Not To Get Vaccinated And People Are Acting Like It’s All My Fault!

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Ask APW, A Practical Wedding, 20 August 2021:

My best friend is getting married outside of the US. I am her only bridesmaid/maid of honor and we have been best friends for 15+ years. Because of covid, things have been rocky. I have not been vaccinated. She has. The border is only letting vaccinated US citizens in. Therefore I cannot go. She basically hates me because I won’t get vaccinated. I’ve tried to explain my reasoning, but she honestly doesn’t care and has tunnel vision for the pro-vax. I feel like I am losing my best friend because of this. I plan on scheduling a photo shoot for us in her wedding dress and me in my bridesmaid’s dress for when she returns. I’m just not sure what else to do.

Dear (Former) Maid Of Honor,

It’s reportedly been a rough 18 months, hasn’t it? You see just hundreds and thousands of news reports — who knows if you can believe them! — about a “global pandemic” killing “millions” of people, supposedly over 700,000 people in the United States alone, but it’s a little hard to square that with your personal gut feeling that COVID is just not that big of a deal! So it’s really hard to know who to trust right now — on the one hand, we have near-universal agreement from medical experts and professional and governmental entities from around the globe that deadly COVID can largely be prevented with a very safe vaccine that is accessible widely in the United States, but on the other hand, this email forward from your brother-in-law’s buddy says that mainlining a horse dewormer is the only way to protect yourself from the worldwide vaccine cabal! (And by the way, have you invested in the gold standard? Just something to think about, no pressure to buy now!)

Your bestie is honestly being a pretty big baby about not wanting to subject herself or others to a likely carrier of a deadly disease, or at least, that’s probably what doctors and other sheeple would say. Some people, sadly your bestie included, get all het up about “the best medical science and knowledge available,” and totally ignore the grainy meme their best friend saw on Facebook. And to top it off, she’s letting this so-called peer-reviewed research that shows vaccines prevent serious COVID in the vast, vast majority of cases dictate the way she hosts a sizable group gathering of potential carriers and victims and everyone they know or even interact with? Come on! Talk about tunnel vision blocking out what really matters — having a party with you at it!

You made the free and full decision not to get vaccinated and that is simply not your fault, and you should not be held responsible for making this decision just because it’s a decision you made on purpose, based on your own judgment, as a result of something you wanted specifically to do. What’s more, your best friend, of all people, shouldn’t try to make it your fault by having a destination wedding in a country that sounds like it is also going out of its way to oppress you personally by asserting some kind of sovereign right to govern itself. No one here is looking at the big picture, except for you — which means you’re the only one seeing and standing up to the mass global vaccine conspiracy, engineered by hundreds and maybe even thousands of evil masterminds across time and geography and politics. Come to think of it, it sort of sounds like your best friend might be in on it. Why else would she decline to put herself and her loved ones at risk of contracting a dangerous virus? What other reasons could she possibly have to conduct her own fucking wedding on her own fucking terms, if not because she hates you personally for being so smart and free? She’s being manipulated by the jab squad! This has deliberately engineered, decades-old pro-vax scheme written all over it!

Regardless of whether your best friend has been brainwashed by a vast and wide-ranging medical conspiracy, the bottom line is this: choosing not to get vaccinated is your personal choice, and nobody else has the right to make any choices related to your decision, because that would be a violation of your freedoms. Everybody has to like everything you do, and if they don’t cheerily accept and accommodate your refusal to do one easy and free thing to keep yourself and the people around you healthy and safe, they’re selfish, short-sighted assholes who hate you personally. There is literally no other reason not to want to travel internationally with and spend time in close quarters beside a willfully unvaccinated adult in the year 2021. (The photo shoot is a super cute idea, BTW — out of an abundance of caution, you might want to check on your local ICU’s visitation rules before booking the photographer.)

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petrilli
57 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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YKK Zippers

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Josh Centers, writing for The Prepared:

A “pro tip” for evaluating the quality of a piece of gear is to look at the small details, such as zippers and stitching. Cheap-minded manufacturers will skimp on those details because most people just don’t notice, and even a cheap component will often last past a basic warranty period, so it’s an easy way to increase profits without losing sales or returns.

If a designer does bother to invest in quality components, that’s a tried-and-true sign that the overall product is better than the competition. Zippers are a classic example when looking at backpacks, clothing, and similar gear. And although there are a few other fine zipper brands out there, the king is YKK Group — to the point that the first thing some gear reviewers look for is the “YKK” branding on the zipper pull tab.

My dad used to do some work for YKK back in the ‘90s, so I wanted to dig deeper into why they’re the king and what makes their zippers so associated with quality.

Centers quotes a remark from a post by Recycled Firefighter:

YKK Zippers are amazing, because they self-lubricate the more you use them. You’ll notice that other brands of zippers become sticky and gritty over time. Not with YKK… They will feel more smooth, the more you use them.

I have a hoodie from American Giant that’s a few years old now, and the zipper no longer stays up. It’s not a YKK. I also have a slightly newer hoodie from them — same size — and the zipper always stays up, and, I have noticed, just has a better feel. It’s a YKK.

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petrilli
266 days ago
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My dad was a tool and die designer for YKK after he left IBM... they really are the best.
Arlington, VA
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LAMBDA: The ultimate Excel worksheet function

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Post by Andy Gordon and Simon Peyton Jones on LAMBDA giving Excel users the ability to define functions.

Ever since it was released in the 1980s, Microsoft Excel has changed how people organize, analyze, and visualize their data, providing a basis for decision-making for the millions of people who use it each day. It’s also the world’s most widely used programming language. Excel formulas are written by an order of magnitude more users than all the C, C++, C#, Java, and Python programmers in the world combined. Despite its success, considered as a programming language Excel has fundamental weaknesses. Over the years, two particular shortcomings have stood out: (1) the Excel formula language really only supported scalar values—numbers, strings, and Booleans—and (2) it didn’t let users define new functions.

Until now.

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petrilli
310 days ago
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This is pretty huge.
Arlington, VA
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1 public comment
jlvanderzwan
312 days ago
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This is low-key kind of a big deal
Levitz
312 days ago
Wow!
jlvanderzwan
312 days ago
The (elastic) sheet-defined functions that they're working on for the future are even more impressive

Flourish

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Flourish is a visual toy app that draws harmonographs, sinuous curves simulating a multi-pendulum trace:

Front page of Flourish, showing thumbnails of harmonographs

Each harmonograph is determined by a few dozen parameter values, which are chosen randomly. The number of parameters depends on the number of pendulums, which defaults to 3.

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version. The large-image pages have thumbnails of “adjacent” images. Each harmonograph is determined by a few dozen parameter values. For each parameter, four nearby values are substituted, giving four thumbnails for each parameter. Clicking an adjacent thumbnail continues your exploration of the parameter space:

A large harmonograph, with adjacent thumbnails

The settings dialog lets you adjust the number of pendulums (which determines the number of parameters) and the kinds of symmetry you are interested in.

I started this because I wanted to understand how the parameters affected the outcome, but I was also interested to give it a purely visual design. As an engineer, it was tempting to present the values of the parameters quantitatively, but I like the simplicity of just clicking curves you like.

I repeated a trick I’ve used in other mathy visual toys: when you download a PNG file of an image, the parameter values are stored in a data island in the file. You can re-upload the image, and Flourish will extract the parameters and put you back into the parameter-space exploration at that point.

This is one of those side projects that let me use different sorts of things than I usually do: numpy, SVG, sass, Docker, and so on. I had more ideas for things to add (there is color in the code but not the UI). Maybe someday I will build them.

BTW, I am happy that my first post of 2021 is called “Flourish.” I hope it is a harbinger of things to come.

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petrilli
322 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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