Abort Once Around

Unlike my fears from Thursday, yesterday was totally benign and no one made any trouble and it was a fine day in the office.

To day, though, when I tried a new type of remote working, was a disaster. I didn’t get the errands done, the work was dispiriting and unsatisfying, and I withdrew from it between half and completely done. That is nasty but at least someone else can pick it up and do less uninspired work to complete it.

(This post name also comes from another Space Shuttle / STS method of “aborting” a launch that didn’t work.)

Return to Work place – abort?

(The name of this article is taken from the old STS “Space Shuttle” term “Return to Launch Site abort” about a way to land the space craft if it can’t launch fully properly.)

I was at work late on Wednesday and so missed all of the events at Washington, which I am purposely not using any description or adjectives of. Today, Thursday, I was working remotely, which was something of a disaster. I got some work done, minimal compared to what I wanted to and should have in more often times, and was oddly compulsed to look at news articles.

These were all text and still image based, but besides getting annoyed at the new layout and function of the “Microsoft News” app in Windows 10, all I did was give me reason to wonder why I was so … dependent on reading different news about this. It was not the same in different words, but things like teachers’ deciding how to teach tomorrow, editorial boards and editors views, important questions that investigations were being called to answer, and the things that news organizations are supposed to hear about, ask for details on, check out what they get, and summarize along with background information that lets the recipients have the best chance to learn the new things, or previously hidden things.

I am not (so) invincible to slow attracting by things that can make me less aware of what I am doing, and of what I would want to do if I wasn’t.

The title of this post means, do I return to the workplace tomorrow or not? Will that make things better (other people, minds, voices, things to do and look at) or worse (distracting and dangerous co workers or visitors?)

Against pictures in charitable organizations and appeals

I got, out of nowhere, a magazine for a well known, audited, and considered-legitimate charitable organization that applies itself to assisting poor people in many countries. Aside from the annoyance at their having no obvious way to unsubscribe on their website, something else:

This, and other organizations I know of, have photographs of people and groups they have helped by their work in their publications and on their websites. Since I have no experience with their work, I can’t speak for the people in the pictures. They should have been asked if they wanted to be photographed, though that itself is risky.

For me as recipient of their appeal, I have this objection: how am I supposed to know these pictures are representative (and not staged)? What about them proves the people in them are what they are presented as?

Names and places aren’t given – rightly so, poverty doesn’t abolish privacy (or shouldn’t). I have to take in clues in the pictures (which are also manipulatable), and sadly a highly obvious one is race. This could make perception that the only really poor people (or the only ones they help) are Black.

The best way to be sure of their legitimacy is by independent conduct and publishing of audits on their work regularly. Catalogs do not have to be text only, but pictures can be of the works of charity themselves, and if people are needed for scale or demonstration (such as for a water pump), where and how they appear should be carefully considered.

If the people who would appear in these pictures do not fit an obvious pattern, for example being of an entire range of skin colors, there is still such a risk of pattern recognition in the unknowable readership picking up something unobvious to the designers (all poor people are left handed? have blue eyes? something else?).

Manly Song!

I remember running across a reprinted copy of this work, and finally found it again. It is transcribed below the picture.

Black and white scan of a very spotty broadside or handbill showing a 1770s dressed man with a sword under his right arm, and some ships in the distance a-sail. Below are the lyrics.

First, as best I can copy them given WordPress’s newly unfriendly editour. What got improved? I don’t know, but after these, I will redo the words in a more modern friendly format if you are using a screen-reader.

Continue reading Manly Song!

Post-election (United States) proposal

Earlier this year (2020) the Supreme Court determined that the States can require electors for president and vice president (their “members” of the Electoral College) to vote for the candidates chosen by vote of the people. In other words, when the electoral voters (the silliest sounding term I’ve made up) cast their votes at the State Capitols, if any are not what the most people voted for, those votes are void from the beginning and the “faithless” offender can be then pitched out and replaced for wasting everyone’s time.

At this point, I would think a State could do it “by operation of law”: when the final vote count for president and vice president is issued, the votes sent to Congress are determined automatically and sworn out on the day the Electoral College meets. (The Constitution requires this happen on the same day throughout the country, so they can’t be issued early.)

That process may get held up at the Supreme Court, so I suggest a neater way of doing this: random draw of the voters of the State after the vote totals are known. If a State has N votes in the Electoral College, then the unified electoral roll of the entire State would be used as if it were drawing for jurors. N registered voters would be selected by random process and a County or State official sent out to meet them and request they come to the State Capitol on that day. Since this is after the results are known, if someone had a conscience against voting for either winning candidate, they could decline. (They would not have to say why.)

The law would provide their regular pay or instruction (if a student) or life would be totally unaffected by this, and no one could retaliate against them for performing their duty. Probably this means the District Attorney (or equivalent) would be the best one to meet them and tell them all of this. Also, if they did have to report retaliation or such, the DA would know them and be unable to not remember them. Any possibly removable problem would be honestly addressed by assistance, appeals to the duty (if the problem was some other person), or punishment in court for interference with the election (if someone like their boss tried to be nasty about it).

The persons would have a proper escort to the capital city, meet there, get short instruction (this should be published for all to read ahead of time so no one feels like they are only able to do what someone tells them), and then the process is performed. Everyone goes to lunch and then returns to their lives.

Just-in-time for the Election

Political campaigns and supporters and opponents print electioneering right up to the day of the election itself, which is really the last day of the election, where we have early voting.

Election authorities already are required to keep track of who has already voted, so they can prevent double votations. In almost all cases these get published eventually, as part of the final certifyed result.

If the authorities release this information in nearly real time, such as 1-hour batches, the printers could constantly remove persons who already voted from their coming print runs, and so avoid wastes.

Automated security info emails: a word choice request and proposal

You know those emails that a company you have an account with will send if you change things like your password or contact info? Here is one from Microsoft I found online:

The following security info was recently deleted from the Microsoft account [email]@outlook.com: [a phone number]

If this was you, then you can safely ignore this email.

If this wasn’t you, a malicious user has access to your account. Please review your recent activity and we’ll help you secure your account.

Microsoft account team, no date.

My request is that these not use the word “ignore” for two reasons: telling people they can “safely ignore” any security information sounds bad, and it is too late to actually ignore it because you’ve read it.

I suggest “If you made this change, this email confirms it has been processed successfully.”. The second option, if you did not make or authorize this change, can be left as it is.

Fixed an HP LaserJet from 1998

So there was a printer I said I would fix that, besides being old and sitting on a shelf for maybe 5 or 10 years, would print but jam alot. First the old toner cartridge from 10+ years ago that was left in it all this time was replaced, then the duplexer stabilized, but after some time attempted use, it ended up jamming every sheet and was so annoying.

Disassembling it showed that the inside of the fuser roller (the one that actually heats up and burns the toner onto the paper) had a mess of burned toner. Cleaned that up and reassembled the toner. Still would always fold over the top left corner of the paper and jam just as it got to the fuser. Looking along the paper path where this fold would have been made, I noticed a blunt projection – that had been manufactured there – that might be doing it.

HP does not usually misdesign their printers, so I slept on it for about 2 nights and 1 day. Deciding I couldn’t make it less useful for them, I used a makeshift file to wear it down. I cleaned the area up and reassembled it and it has not jammed once for me after printing ~80 sheets from all the different paper sources. I give it back tomorrow in what I think is fully functioning shape.

How does Windows decide a drive’s capacity?

When testing drives of uncertain trustability, on one that was unreadable and disassembled for metal Disk Management on Windows 10 2004 gave me this when playing with it:

Title: Convert Details. Text: The disks that will be converted contain these volumes. Tree list. Root: Disk 0. Branch 1: Simple Volume 78953578496 MB. Branch 2: Simple Volume 1070596096 MB.
Evidently this disk has a cumulative capacity of over 80 billion megabytes. This would be 80 thousand terabytes, or 80 “petabytes” per SI (power of ten) standard definitions of “mega”.

I do wonder what the physical drive passed up the data bus for Windows to display these very bizzare sizes to me. Right now (October 12, 2020), the biggest 3.5 in. hard disk (so electromechanical) on Newegg is 18 TB. This disk was reporting/reported as 4444× larger than that.

Also the numbers were not displayed according to my user account personalization, which specifys decimal separators.