Two pieces on tackling discrimination

Here are two pieces that deal with tackling racism and anti-semitism:

I’ll let you read and judge as to how effective they are.

Illuminating bad actors on the Internet

The Internet is full of bad actors, though if you lucky, you can easily avoid it, unless you are a celebrity like  Chris Pratt or some poor organization struck by ransomware.

Some bad actors are hard to avoid due to their celebrity, like MTG or Joe Rogan. Sometimes you run into them accidentally, like I did when this toxic individual had his troll like followers harass me on twitter for a spell: Ricky Vaughn.

Bad actors can sometimes be relative. Whether you think the site OnlyFans website is a bad actor depends on your views of pornography/sex work. They must have felt they were, though, because they tried to shed the many individuals using the site who were pornographers/sex workers. It did not go well. You can read about it here, here  and here. I thought this was shabby of them at best, until I heard that a lot of it had to do with the extremely large payment companies, Visa and Mastercard. This  I found especially worrisome because there seemed to be a general censorship being enforced in the dark. This makes the payment companies bad actors, at least in this way. You can read about that here, here  and here. Not to be left out, Stripe even discriminated against witches. It’s one thing for a service like OnlyFans to discriminate again who uses their services: that’s within their rights. It gets to be a big problem when payment companies do this, in my opinion. We all lose when this happens.

As for other bad actors, there are still people like the Proud Boys out there  with their wink wink nudge nudge racism and fascism. That said, this was not great for them:  Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who is behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites. Speaking of things going badly for bad actors, there is this story: A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at RentAHitman.com. Now she‚Äôs going to prison.

I generally focus on sharing positive and useful information on the Internet. But occasionally it is useful to shine a light on some of the darker areas of it and illustrate some of what is going on.

You have some difficult things you need to get done. What you need is a hate day


According to this, a hate day is…

…a day each week when I lump together all the tasks that steal my energy to knock them out in one long, extended punch.

So if you have a pile of things you have putting off, that might be a way to do them. Now not only will you get them done, but you won’t be thinking about them all the time.

Some additional thoughts:

  • if a day seems too much, pick a part of the day you think is best. Even an afternoon can be good.
  • if you don’t get them all done, you still got some done. Remember that.
  • treat yourself afterwards if you can. Hey you did a hard thing!
  • give yourself a lot of credit for getting the hard things done. You should be proud!

P.S. Yes, there is a German word for it. According to the piece, it is called a “Kleinscheiss Tag”—or, “little shit day.”

 

If your small space is feeling…well… too small….

Then check out these ideas from Apartment Therapy: The 8 Best Stylish Small Space Ideas from Apartment Therapy House Tours in 2021 

Sometime the first thing you need to do is get rid of anything that is not a must. After that, get smart about using your space by following those ideas.

(Image from the article.)

 

A modern day root cellar and other zero waste product designs

Nope, that’s not a piece of sculpture: it’s a fridge. Yep! It’s meant to go underground, not unlike a root cellar. It’s part of the various zero waste product designs found here: A sustainable underground fridge + more product designs to help you lead that zero waste lifestyle! – Yanko Design

There’s some really interesting designs there worthy reviewing. Some of them smaller than the fridge above. 🙂

Make art so you can appreciate art and the world around you

I love this from The Art of Noticing: TAoN #28: Make It Art . I encourage you to read it. You will soon be seeing “art” everywhere. Actually take the quotes off art: as Duchamp showed, once you put an object within a certain context, it becomes art.

Of course you can use your skills to make art in practical ways. Here’s 6 Reasons Why Making Art is so Good for You , in case you need encouragement.  If you need more guidance, the great Lynda Barry lectures  are captured here: Making Comics: Lynda Barry and Drawn & Quarterly Bring a Magnificent Lecture on Art to Life.

P.S. Many artists are underappreciated and usually obscure. Rockwell is underappreciated and well known. He needs to be appreciated more. Pieces like this can help: Opinion: Why Norman Rockwell left Thanksgiving Americana behind.

(Image above from here: A ‘Staircase to Heaven’ Installation Ascends into the Sky as a Trippy Optical Illusion)

 

A virtual tour of Hagia Sophia


A few years ago I was fortunate to visit Hagia Sophia and get a tour of it. If you ever can get a chance, I highly recommend it. For those who cannot visit it, this might be the next best thing: 360 Degree Virtual Tours of the Hagia Sophia .

I think Hagia Sophia is one of the wonders of the world. See it if you can.

(Image via Wikipedia)

Amazing Christmas gift ideas: Lego Titanic

Truly for those who are epic Lego model builders, this Lego Titanic Building Set…

… is made up of 9,090 pieces, including interactive details like turning piston engines, a working anchor, and adjustable tension lines. To fully appreciate the level of care taken, the ship divides into three pieces to allow views of the grand staircase, boiler room, and smoking lounge.

For more on this, check out the link at Uncrate. Not for me, but impressive!

Can math prevent gerrymandering? (or what I find interesting in math, Dec 2021)

Here are seven good links to pieces on math I thought were good:

  1. These are cool:  cool alternative numbers.
  2. This is a worthwhile project:  About Project Euler.
  3. For fan of   Godel’s Theorems 
  4. This was somewhat amazing:  Fermat’s Library : Magic : The Gathering is Turing Complete annotated/explained version.
  5. This was a good intro into a form of math I wasn’t aware of:  Maths in a Minute: Category theory
  6. This is fascinating:  The 26 000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight.
  7. Some practical math:  Virginia wants to prevent gerrymandering. Can a mathematician help?.

IT and society (or what I find interesting in tech, December 2021)

This list is different than most, in that there is more of a focus on IT and society vs how to use tech.  For example, here is a recommendation of 14 tactics to use during a ransomware negotiation. I can’t vouch for those, though I can say ransomware continues to be a big problem. On the flip side of IT and crime, the Toronto’s police board is seeking the public’s input on using artificial intelligence for policing. Input is good: I hope they act on it.

Getting back to (alleged) crime, here’s two good pieces on Theranos: Theranos drained $96 million from an experienced investor ‚ plus some blood and How Elizabeth Holmes Soured the Media on Silicon Valley. To be fair to Holmes, she wasn’t alone on the souring of SV.

Big changes at this place recently: Twitter makes big changes for devs as it eyes decentralized future. Plus Jack is gone. It’s an odd company.

Two things on will.i.am: Q&A: will.i.am Talks Masks  and the worst gadgets. He gets a mention in the second piece because he seems to be associated with some of the worst IT. He is successful in music: in technology, less so.

As someone who has given serverless a go from time to time, I agree with this:  The Unfulfilled Promise of Serverless.

Here’s a good piece on K8S:  Introduction Getting started with scalable web application on Kubernetes. Here’s why you should use IBM Cloud: Why IBM Hybrid Cloud for Your Journey to the Cloud?. Here’s why you should use Terraform to Define Custom Views for Your Log Analysis and Activity Tracker Instances.

This is one of the best things I’ve read on COBOL:  Why and how COBOL is still used.

Finally, this is good:  Logitech’s latest device is an all-in-one dock that turns your table full of gadgets into the best WFH setup ever.

 

 

What is healthy? (My fitness and health links for December, 2021)


Here’s some links on fitness and physical health that are not typical. For example, I Did 340 Pushups a Day to Prepare for the TV Version of Prison. Then I Got There. Reading about this:  Emily Ratajkowski‚Äôs New Book Tests The Limits Of Self-Awareness got me thinking about this Dear Younger Me: Lauren Fleshman. Sometimes we push yourselves from the extremes of one form of unhealthiness to another. You may think these  Sample Menus for a 1 200 Calorie Diet can help you lose weight, but if so you should read this: 1 200 Calories a Day Is a Starvation Diet Actually, you may change your mind.

I still think carrying a lot of weight is unhealthy. As did this father: He Struggled to Play With His Daughter So He Turned to the Couch to 5K App to Lose Weight. Find your own level and continually move in the healthier direction.

If you use a fitbit, read this: How Many Steps Do You Really Need Each Day? If you are in the market for one, check this out: Your Fitbit Can Now Let You Know Whether You Snore. If you are looking for new shoes, consider these: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature Running Shoe via Uncrate.

(Image via Uncrate)

Minimal light designs – some inspirational ideas

I love lamps and lighting. I have been known to have too many lamps in a room just because I can’t decide on one. If you are the opposite and in need of some lighting inspiration, I recommend this: Bring your home to life with these minimal 3D-printed Gantri lighting designs! – Yanko Design. That piece features quite a few different lights, including the one above. Simple and beautiful.

You may not be able to find these specific lamps, but they may lead you to some you might, be they at IKEA or some high end lighting place.

 

Good gift ideas: books (courtesy of Five Books)


Books usually make good gift ideas. While there are lots of ways to come up with book ideas, one way I think is good is to go to FiveBooks.com and check out their most recommended books. They have them all listed, here.

You can’t go wrong with any of books on the list. In the worst case, you can refresh a copy of a book the person may already have.

On how to make a cover illustration for the New Yorker

What goes into making a cover illustration for the New Yorker magazine? Well if you are Adrian Tomine, quite a lot. In this piece he breaks down the process he followed to make the above cover, now famous: Making a Cover – by Adrian Tomine – ADRIAN TOMINE. He really puts a lot of thought into making such an image, and a description of the tools and materials that he uses as he works on different versions is interesting, especially to fellow artists, I’m sure.

 

Cool Christmas gifts: the Orba

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For someone in your life that likes to make music, this could be just the gift for them. As the website explains:

Orba is a handheld synth, looper, and MIDI controller that lets anyone make music immediately. With Orba’s integrated looper you can layer Drum, Bass, Chord, and Lead parts to create beats and songs on the fly. Play through the built-in speaker or use the ⅛” jack to connect headphones or amplifiers. Pair wirelessly to the Orba app to customize your instrument and share your creations with friends.

I thought it was cool, especially for people who love to be on the go but also love to make music all the time.

It’s coming up on Christmas. Here’s my pandemic highlights and ramblings for November, 2021(a newsletter, in blog form)

Happy holidays to you! It’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of the 2021.  It’s also hard to believe at times that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, but we are. Let me reflect on that and more in my latest and relatively short blog newsletter for you.

Pandemic: The big pandemic news this month has been the rise of the new variant: Omicron. It’s all very new, as this shows:  WHO discusses new COVID-19 variant with unusual mutations.  As I write this there is still much happening to determine its impact.

Even before the new variant, there were problems. Another Ontario region had reinstated some lockdown restrictions amid surge in cases this month. I don’t know why, other than the cold weather has more people inside and that leads to more cases, perhaps.

To prevent this,  people like me have been getting boosters. If you can, get yours too. Lots of young people have been getting their first shots. When I got mine on Saturday, there were lots of old people like me and lots of kids with their parents.

While there is still so much to be done to vaccine all of the world, people are working hard to do so, as this story shows:  Drones Ferry Pfizer as Precious Deep-Frozen Vaccine to Africa’s Remote Villages.

Meanwhile, there are people in rich countries refusing to get vaccines, like the Chicago police. Fortunately when push came to shove, most people accepted vaccine mandates and got their shots, although some quit. At this point I have zero tolerance for hold outs.

Workwise, The Great Resignation is still ongoing, at least in the US. It will have big ramifications for business going into the new year (and already has is 2021.) Speaking of that, I suspect we will not be going into the office for at least until the first quarter of 2022. Indeed, nearly 80% of downtown Toronto office employees are still working from home . I can’t see that percentage dropping much.

As for me and my work,  I am still engaged on this:  Alberta launches app to read COVID-19 vaccination QR code. It’s good.

This story struck me: Cape Breton woman says CERB will most likely make her bankrupt . I can’t say why she applied for CERB when she was not eligible. I can say the government should not be so harsh in how it claws back the money. The pandemic is hard enough: impoverishing people is not a good way to fix things.

That’s the reality of the pandemic. In fantasy news, Royal Caribbean is offering a 9-month-long ‘World Cruise’ visiting 150 destinations . I think you need your head examined if you signed up for such a thing. Likewise, this call for a New Public Spirit in the US after the failures of the pandemic sounds nice and dreamy and won’t happen.

In other economic news, there are still shortages these days due to the pandemic and the supply chain problems it caused. For example, Ikea won’t be selling Christmas trees in Toronto this year due to shortage . My favorite example of this though is a Santa shortage! Despite all that, I believe the supply chain issues will clear up fairly soon.

Non pandemic: I thought this was a good summary of the bizarre age we live in: The Golden Age of Grift . I think such grift happens in any era when there is an abundance of capital and a spirit that compels people to capture it. In such an era you get things like this happening: A one-ton tungsten cube was just bought by a crypto cabal for $250 000 . And you get decadence like this socially, as well as a desire to punish it: Chrissy Teigen Is Catching A Lot Of Heat For Hosting A Lavish “Squid Game”-Themed Party. Maybe this decade is going to be more like the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century than I thought.

Finally: this video mocking the Metaverse and Mark Zuckerberg made the rounds this month and it was excellent: Introducing the Icelandverse

Last word: I hope the holidays are good to you. If you need help during this time, I wrote a number of posts on Christmas over the years. I think they are hood and helpful. You can find them here.

How I made my bucket list by making a reverse bucket list

bucket list
Have you been thinking of making a bucket list? A few years ago I was thinking the same thing. Do you get stuck when you try to do it? Me too.  I started creating one back then but it seemed blah and untrue.

Since I was stuck,  I started researching what other people put on their lists.  I wrote down the things people listed and then put them into groups. The main groups looked like this:

  • Fitness goals
  • Creative goals
  • Travel goals
  • Material attainment goals
  • Relationship attainment goals
  • Fame goals
  • Spiritual achievement goals

Within these groups there were subgroups:

  • Fitness goals
    • Complete an event (e.g. 5K/10K/marathon)
    • Complete certain fitness challenges (e.g. 100 pushups)
    • Join a gym / join a team
    • Lose / gain weight
    • Change your diet, go on a diet and lose x pounds, become a vegan / vegetarian
  • Creative goals
    • Write a book, play or poem
    • Learn an instrument
    • Learn how to draw, paint, sculpt, take photography
    • Learn a language
    • Act in a play
    • Sing or play in a band
    • Read certain books
  • Travel goals
    • Visit certain countries
    • Visit cities
    • Stay at certain places
    • Go to certain museums
    • Eat at certain places
    • Meet certain people
    • See specific sites
    • Travel in specific ways
  • Material attainment goals
    • Own a certain vehicle
    • Own a certain home/house
    • Live in a particular place
    • Start a business
    • Save X amount of money
    • Have certain investments
  • Personal and Relationship attainment goals
    • Get engaged / married / divorced
    • Disconnect or reconnect with certain people
    • Have kids
    • Have pets
    • Complete college or university
    • Learn a non-creative skill
  • Fame goals
    • Win certain awards
    • Meet certain people
    • Perform in certain venues
    • Appear in certain media
  • Spiritual achievement goals
    • Perform certain pilgrimages
    • Do specific religious activities

I used this as the basis of my reverse bucket list. I went through those categories and listed all the things I had already done. It was surprisingly a lot.

Then I took things not yet done and separated them into three lists:  Want to Do, Maybe Do, Not Interested in Doing.  The first two make up my new Bucket List.

So now I have a Bucket List of things I want to do, plus a Reverse Bucket List of things that would have been on the Bucket List of younger Me.

A Reverse Bucket List is a good thing to have: it can help you come up with a Bucket List and it can give you a sense of accomplishment. I highly recommend you make both.

P.S. I started thinking again about bucket lists after reading this:  One Thing I Don’t Plan to Do Before I Die Is Make a Bucket List. That’s totally understandable.

Another thought I had is there are things I want to do again. Go to Paris and NYC were things I really wanted to do when I was younger and I did. But I want to do them again. You don’t have to always be doing new and unique things. Sometimes enjoy what is have is the best.

(Photo by Tobi Law on Unsplash)

On the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter films

Harry Potter books

So it’s been 20 years since the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’. It’s weird to think it’s been a big part of my life. Not because I was a huge fan but because of my daughter.

My daughter was into her film going age when it came out. It’s hard to believe now, but in the 90s it was hard to find good kids films to watch. Whenever one came out, we went. Naturally we went to this one, and like many excited families afterwards, we went to them all.

I was grateful for a decade of Harry Potter films. Unlike so many kids films, they were well made and well acted. While the three main stars developed their acting skills over time, from the beginning they were surrounded with the cream of British theatre. Not to mention fine direction, great set design…you name it. The stories may have been aimed at kids, but the films welcomed parents.

I was grateful for the books as well. The Harry Potter books contributed to my daughter’s love of reading. She and I would go to special events at the neighborhood Indigo bookstore late at night, waiting for the volumes to go on sale at midnight. Everyone was dressed up, and the store was full of Potter displays, not to mention live  magicians, and all forms of theatricality. Even the media attended and interviewed my daughter once. As parenting gigs go, it was a good one. Finally we’d get the book and she would read it well into the night. It was delightful.

Besides the films, I was happy that as my daughter grew up, the books and the characters in them grew up as well. Starting off as small books for children, the Harry Potter series evolved into novels for young adults. The books and the films dealt with events and emotions that their readers were also dealing with. To steal from Bruno Bettelheim, it was a good use of enchantment.

I was sad to see J.K. Rowling go from being a beloved author to someone who caused a great deal of pain for many people. Daniel Radcliffe responded to that, and I think what he wrote was good and echoes my thinking.

I am still glad of all the times I had with my daughter going to the films and the book launches. I enjoyed the films, and I even read and enjoyed the books. Mainly I am fond of that time in my life with her. It was a good decade that was full of good memories.

P.S. The image above is from this collectable set of the books, found here: Harry Potter Hogwarts Set from the folks at  Uncrate.

P.S. S. If you asked me which book/film I liked the most, it’s no contest: Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban. It was a bold move to choose Alfonso Cuarón to direct it, and he turned in a strong film I thought. Like the book, the film deals metaphorically with chronic illness, mental illness, stigmatism, loneliness, fear, and many more dark ideas. It’s the turning point in the film series, where they go from the light and brightness of Chris Columbus to darker themes and ideas. While I liked to other films and other directors, I liked the films that Cuarón turned in best of all.

Thoughts on getting my booster vaccine

I got my booster shot yesterday. It was different from my other two in several ways. My first two were AZ shots at my local pharmacy: this was Pfizer at the Toronto Metro Convention Center. Getting it at a pharmacy is very low key: at the Center it was a process. That said, it was a well organized and fast process. I went from entering the building to sitting in the waiting area in minutes. There are lots of signs and assistance everywhere and well done.

Like my other two vaccines the side effects occurred. I slept a lot. With this one, my arm was sore longer. Also I had flu like chills at one point. Overall though it was fairly mild.

The pandemic is hard. Get your vaccine booster when you are eligible. Get a flu shot too.

What do Kent Monkman and Christopher Pratt have in common? (or what I find interesting in art, November 2021)

Well besides being Canadian artists, they are both featured in this post! 🙂

In addition to those great artists, here are other things I’ve found interesting in art recently.

Artists: Here’s a strong story: Julie Green Artist Who Memorialized Inmate’s Last Suppers Dies at 60 . I was really struck by this piece about her. She did important art and it’s well worth reading about her and her work. More on that here: Dish by Dish Art of Last Meals.

This was an amazing story: Art Enthusiast Spots Long-Lost Sculpture by Black Folk Artist in Missouri Front Yard. I liked this story:  The Gilded Age painter devoted to scenes of every-day life around him. Also this one was good:  A TikTok Subway Artist Finds His Way to the Lower East Side

This made me sad: Bernini Bust of a Woman He Abused Exhibited Alongside Photographs of Survivors . I have always been a fan of Bernini. That he was brutally cruel to Costanza Buonarelli (the woman who was the victim) is not something I can ever reconcile with how much I love his work.

This is a good little piece on a work by  KENT MONKMAN: “DANDY”. And here is a great study of how Christopher Pratt created one of my favorite works: Pedestrian Tunnel”.

How-to: I’ve been doing some drawing and watercolor these days. I’ve moved on from being a frustrated artists to actually making some basic art. This is a good tool for that: Free Interactive 3D Model for Drawing Figures Dynamic Poses and More Online Drawing Mannequin.

Relatedly, I found these useful. Here’s some good tips so you can get Better at Drawing. This helped: Learn how to draw a face in 8 easy steps: Beginners. So did this:  Draw a Self-Portrait. As did this: Human Anatomy Fundamentals: Basic Body Proportions .

I’ve been interested in multimedia, so I was into this: Using Acrylics in Collage, and this: How to Adhere Paper to Canvas, and also this: The Best Paint To Use For A Beautiful Collage Painting.

Music:  most of my art interest is visual, but I also like these music links:  Guitar Trainer by Acoustro, and The Complete Beginner Saxophone Course, 
and this 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Bach.

Finally: this looks like a good book: Your Art Will Save Your Life

(Image is a link to the piece on Pratt.)

The one problem with moving to Nova Scotia, especially if you are older

Halifax bridge

I must say, the thought of moving back to Nova Scotia appeals to me. I think of it often. I was born and raised there and still consider myself a Nova Scotian (although I will also say I a Cape Bretoner from Glace Bay. I am proud of all three). It’s a beautiful place and I have family there. I love it.

The one big problem, though, is this one: Nova Scotia doctor wait-list hits record high, topping 81,000 | CBC News.

I realize this problem is not unique to Nova Scotia. Finding a doctor in Toronto, never mind rural parts of Ontario or other parts of the country, is not easy. But it has always seemed to be a problem in Nova Scotia. I use to hear it all the time from my parents. They always felt fortunate when they could get a good doctor.

I also realize I am looking at the problem from a distance. People living in Nova Scotia now may disagree. But if you are thinking of moving (back?) to Nova Scotia, consider that.

(Photo by Harjinder on Unsplash)

What is a cloud architect and how to become one


What is a cloud architect? Well, for one, it is me! But for a more general description, I thought this piece was really helpful: What is a cloud architect? A vital role for success in the cloud | CIO

The piece covers:

  • what they do
  • the various types of cloud architect
  • what they get paid
  • what skills they need
  • how to become one

Very thorough.

I’d like to add:

  • as a cloud architect, you are an architect first. By that I mean you need to know the cloud well, but clients and members of your team will look to you to bring your IT architect abilities first and foremost
  • relatedly, there will be times when the architecture decisions you produce and the architectural thinking you do will fall outside cloud technology. This is especially true of hybrid cloud, but true of other things as well (integration, networking, operations, application). A good architect has 2-3 areas they have depth in. Cloud can be one of them, but you should be able to go deep in other areas.

That piece is good for cloud architects, but also for people who want to become cloud architects. It’s also great for people wanting to hire cloud architects. Worth taking a few minutes to go over.

(Image via Pixabay)

13 good links concerning the mind and mental health November, 2021

A sign tha says use your brain
Here’s 13 good links on the mind and mental health I’ve gathered over the last few months. Most of them I’ve read at least twice.

  1. An interesting idea:  Can a short behavioural boot camp really grind anxiety to dust?
  2. A good way to think about feelings, from Austin Kleon:  What to do with your feelings.
  3. I can’t vouch for this, but it is interesting:  How to Microdose Weed for a Super-efficient Subtle High.
  4. On  Loneliness: coping with the gap where friends used to be.
  5. A thoughtful study on loss and grief:  Nothing Could Prepare Me for Watching My Wife Slip Away.
  6. This Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved. Worth reading.
  7. Also worth reading:  Why We Choose to Suffer
  8. I found this really thought provoking:  What if emotions aren’t unniversal but specific to each culture?
  9. I didn’t really agree with this, but it is worth reading:  The Difference Between Hope and Optimism
  10. This was very sad:  LISA LUCAS: All the love in the world couldn’t save our son from drugs.
  11. This is good to read after the one above, I think:   An Artist Describes His Brother’s Struggle.
  12. This is a great way to approach things:  Everything is a Practice 
  13. And finally:  The Empty Brain 

(Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash)

Some consolation for “bad” sleepers

man yawning

Are you worried you are a bad sleeper? Do you wake up in the middle of the night often and think: OMG I will never get back to sleep?? Do you fret daily about what can be done about your sleeping?

If those things apply to you, first of all, read this: Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.

The key take away I took from it is this:

A mindset change may be what’s needed. “People might have this belief that they are a ‘bad sleeper’ and there is nothing that they can do about it. Sometimes it’s about changing people’s perceptions of what good sleep looks like.” Taylor says she “really cannot bear” fitness trackers, which monitor sleep, for focusing people’s minds on often inaccurate data. It is wrong to assume that you must sleep through the night, every night, she says. “We all have blips in our sleep – it’s never going to be that you sleep brilliantly all the time.”

Maybe I am not the good sleeper I wish I was. But maybe it is not as bad as I feared. That might apply to you too.

(Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash )

You cannot learn anything from AI technology that makes moral judgements. Do this instead

books
Apparently…

Researchers at an artificial intelligence lab in Seattle called the Allen Institute for AI unveiled new technology last month that was designed to make moral judgments. They called it Delphi, after the religious oracle consulted by the ancient Greeks. Anyone could visit the Delphi website and ask for an ethical decree.

What can I say? Well, for one thing, I am embarrassed for my profession that anyone takes that system seriously. It’s a joke. Anyone who has done any reading on ethics or morality can tell you very quickly that any moral decision of weight cannot be resolved with a formula. The Delphi system can’t make moral decisions. It’s like ELIZA: it could sound like a doctor but it couldn’t really help you with your mental health problem.

Too often people from IT blunder into a field, reduce the problems in them to something computational, produce a new system, and yell “Eureka!”.  The lack of humility is embarrassing.

What IT people should do is spend time reading and thinking about ethics and morality.. If they did, they’d be better off. If you are one of those people, go to fivebooks.com and search for “ethics” or “moral”. From those books you will learn something. You cannot learn anything from the Delphi system.

P.S. For more on that Delphi system, see: Can a Machine Learn Morality? – The New York Times.

(Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash )

On stopping the next Chelyabinsk Meteor

If you think of meteors hitting the Earth, you might be thinking of ones like the Chicxulub impactor that killed off the dinosaurs. Good news: scientists have been tracking meteors of that size and we are safe for at least the next few centuries.

But what about smaller ones, like the one that hit Chelyabinsk and caused significant damage? Those we may not be so safe from. Indeed, if they hit a major city, the destruction could be catastrophic.

That’s why NASA has launched the DART mission. It’s goal is to see if it could stop an asteroid and prevent an asteroid apocalypse. That piece in Scientific American on what is involved is fascinating. It’s not merely a matter of putting a major explosive on an asteroid and blowing it to bits. Go read the article and you’ll see what I mean.

For more on the. Chelyabinsk Meteor, click here.

It’s Monday. You have a difficult decision to make. Use this approach to make it

a ladder

If you have a difficult decision to make, then the 5-minute ladder rule is a good way to approach it. Essentially the ladder rule allows you ” to climb, one rung at a time, to a resolution. For example, at the first rung, ask yourself:

  • “Will this decision have a measurable or noticeable impact on my people, my company, or society?
  • Is this decision time-sensitive?”

The rest of the rungs and the approach in general can be found here: Stressing Out About a Tough Decision? Make it Easy with the 5-Minute ‘Ladder Rule’ | Inc.com.

Dealing with tough decisions is like falling into a big hole — it can overwhelm us. The ladder rule approach can help you get out of such overwhelming sitations. Give it a try.

(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

Something calming for a Sunday: the Zen Gardens of Yuki Kawae

Over at Colossal they have a good piece on the Zen Gardens by Yuki Kawae. Check it out: it could be just the thing to calm your mind.

For example, practice slow breathing and watch this:

 

Three interiors of New York

Not sure what the purpose of this post is, other than offer up a snapshot of how people live in NYC in all extremes, from this 400-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio  with a weird layout: 

To this somewhat bigger One-Bedroom in Brooklyn with a Smart Layout:

To this lifestyle of the rich and famous home of  director Paul Feig’s on Madison Avenue:

They are all very New York in their own way. Nothing is big though they try to look it. Brooklyn is now the place for the young to live: once affordable Manhattan rarely is. It’s all fascinating, at least to me.

P.S. Not NYC related, but I also found this fascinating: The dingy apartment of my 20s left an indelible mark on me. Many of us start out living not in places like above, but in crappy little dives. It leaves a mark on us and shapes us in a way. Recommended

On Barbara Kruger and her 2021 show

Barbara Kruger

There is a new show of Barbara Kruger’s work called: “THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU.” It’s playing from now through to Jan. 24, 2022 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I had a few thoughts on it. One thought: I believed I had two favorite artists from the 80s (Basquiat and Haring) but it turns out I have three (Kruger).  I had mistakenly not placed her in that era. But as the Times shows:

Since the early 1980s, the engine of her work, and its effectiveness, has been formatting — the candy apple red bar containing white sans serif type, rendered in Futura Bold Oblique, conveying aphorisms that could be taunts or pleas.

also

(her work started) much more humbly, as paste-ups made by hand, an extension of Kruger’s work as a graphic designer at Condé Nast magazines. Twenty of her 1980s originals are displayed in a suboptimally lit walkway. Up against the room-size works, they feel like modest afterthoughts. But up close they are deeply moving, almost innocent. Each juxtaposes a gnomic phrase with a stark black and white image, but at this scale, they scan more as private entreaties than global dictates — rave fliers for young agitators.

Second thought: just like Basquiat and Haring took their art from the street to the galleries and museums, so did Kruger.  And just like the two men, she is now a dominant part of our culture. Back to the Times:

And that underscores the complexity of revisiting Kruger at this moment in image dissemination: Her strict-rule paste-up approach to interrogating groupthink has become so defining, so signature that her innovations are now core grammar. Her art is recombinant. It exists whether or not she’s present.

Which brings me to my final thought. Sure it is easy to use elements of her work to mimic her (waves to the folks at Supreme). But looking at the work on display I can see it has power in a way that those who copy her do not. The scale, the colour, the composition: they all demonstrate the qualities she has as an artist that has made her influential and deserving of such a show.

For more, see the Times piece: Barbara Kruger: Infinitely Copied, Still Unmatched – The New York Times. Better still, go to Chicago and see the show while you can.

A really good workout if you have not exercised in ages: the Standing 7-Minute Workout

athlete
I recently did this 7 minute standing workout from the Times and I found it wasn’t nothing, but it was enough to feel like I did some exercise.

Now you might think I am damning it with faint praise. Sure, if you are in good shape, it’s not for you. But if even the thought of the least bit of exercise fills you with dread, give that a go. It’s enough to make you feel: I got some exercise in.

One thing they could have done is listed out the exercises. Here they are. Do each for 30 seconds, rest for 5 in between.

  1. March in place
  2. Chair assisted squat
  3. Wall push up
  4. Standing bicycle crunch
  5. Stand and box
  6. Chair assist split squat
  7. Chair assist push up (or wall push up)
  8. Wall plank
  9. Stepping jack
  10. Wall sit
  11. Wall push up
  12. Standing side crunch

(Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash )

In praise of the the post-it note (and Clive Thompson)

post it notes
First up, the post it note. Clive has done a great job of taking something we likely all take for granted and making us think about it in a way that we can really appreciate its value. He does it here specifically with the Post-It note: 13 Ways Of Looking At A Post-It Note | by Clive Thompson | Nov, 2021 | Medium

He’s been doing it for many other topics too. Here’s just one example: Tiny Books an Incredibly Long Piano and Why Are Boss Fights So Damn Hard? .

Basically what I am saying is you should subscribe to his newsletter. He’s been on fire with it recently. He says it is a good way to procrastinate. I say it is a good way to learn about all sorts of interesting aspects of the world.

Write down on a post-it note: Subscribe to Clive’s newsletter. Better yet, just go off and do it. You’ll be glad you did.

(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash )

On de Klerk and Hume (and Cromwell too)

Cromwell
FW de Klerk died last week. While there were many reactions to his death, I thought this one was best. His legacy is complicated. But he has a legacy that is complicated and not one that is simply horrible because of the bold actions he took. I had thoughts on de Klerk, but that piece is better than anything I could have written.

I’d argue that almost everyone’s legacy is complicated. I especially thought that after reading about how David Hume’s tower was renamed last year. I suspect that eventually the only things that will be named after people will be for people whose lives we no longer care about. But who knows? As I wrote earlier, the naming of things (and the removal of names) is about power and eventually those newly in power want to name their things so they become their own.

Perhaps we should not erect memorials at all. Perhaps we all need to be iconoclastic. If we do cast new ones, then the memorials we erect of people need to include the “warts and all” aspects of them. Make the memorials a lesson instead of an icon to worship.

One thing I want to add on de Klerk is that when I was younger, I never thought that the Soviet Union, Apartheid, or the Troubles in Ireland would end in my lifetime. For every de Klerk there was a Paisley in Northern Ireland who would fight tooth and nail to prevent change from happening. But it did happen, because of people like Gorbachev, de Klerk and Mandela, Trimble and Hume. They should be acknowledged for the good they did.

(Image from a story on the painter who painted Cromwell, warts and all: Samuel Cooper)

 

It’s Monday. You need some inspirational quotes to perhaps fire you up. Here’s 10

EpictetusMark Dymond, a senior leader in my part of IBM, has put together a good list of leadership quotes that I think can benefit a wide range of people. My favorite of them is from one of my favorite thinkers, Epictetus:

Anyone can hold the tiller when the sea is calm.

Check out his list for the other 9. Worthwhile.

(Image of Epictetus from Wikipedia)

On the flaws of SpaceX’s Starlink technology

I’m not a fan of SpaceX’s Starlink technology. It’s ruining space in a number of ways, like this. I thought its one saving grace would be that it at least provides great Internet service. Yet according to this review in The Verge, it doesn’t even do that! Sad. Garbage in the sky, garbage on the ground.

Here’s hoping it gets better. And that someone finds a way to collect all the garbage circling the earth and do something with it.

On exploring Jupiter’s Red Spot

Despite having telescopes being able to observe it, there’s still much to learn about the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. To do that, NASA sent a space craft to the giant planet to learn more about it. The story of that can be found here: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is Surprisingly Deep in Scientific American. It’s one of the many awesome things NASA has on the go in our solar system and beyond.

 

What do modern day philosophers believe?

What do philosophers think? Is there any ideas they hold in common? Is there any progress in philosophy?

Those are all good questions. If you want some answers to them, you could consult this poll. If you did, you would find what they think and what ideas they have in common. You will even find most agree there is some progress when it comes to philosophy.

I found it interesting that the poll for the Footbridge problem (pushing man off bridge will save five on track below) was  22% for push while 56% said don’t push. Meanwhile, for the trolley problem, 63% said switch while 13.3 said don’t switch. Not sure how to think about that. I also found it interesting that when it comes to time, 38.2% said the B-theory is correct. I tend to believe that as well. Finally, what they thought the aim of philosophy is was fascinating.

(Photo by Giammarco on Unsplash )

If you are writing a bash script to call a curl command and you want to pass variable values to it, read this…

CodingImage
If you are writing a bash script to call a curl command and you want to pass variable values to it, you may find a hard time determining how to go about it. I did!! I consulting with lots of pages, and nothing seemed to tell me what I want.

Here’s what I eventually did.

Take this example. I am using curl to call the sendgrid API, as you can see below. (I don’t have all the variables, but they were all strings like THESUBJECT and THECONTENT.).

The trick is in the use of single and double quotes. For the variables, they are in double quotes. But notice the use of single and double quotes in the curl command:


TOYOU="noone@gmail.com"
THESUBJECT="once again!"
THECONTENT="Looks good!"
curl --request POST --url https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send \
--header 'Authorization: Bearer '$AUTH_TOKEN \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data '{"personalizations": [{"to": [{"email": '\"$TOYOU\"'}]}],"from": {"email": '\"$FROMME\"'}, "subject": '\""$THESUBJECT"\"', "content": [{"type": "text/plain", "value": '\""$THECONTENT"\"' }]}'

Let’s look at the variables in that curl command.

$AUTH_TOKEN has no quotes around it. In fact, it is up against a single quote on its left. That single quote ends the string Authorization: Bearer and let’s the script fill in the value of $AUTH_TOKEN.

Now look at $TOYOU AND $FROMME. Both of those variables have no blanks in them. So there is a single quote-slash-double quote on the left and a slash-double quote-single quote to the right.

that is different than $THESUBJECT and $THECONTENT. Those strings have blanks in them. For them, there is a single quote-slash-double quote-double quote to the left of them and a double quote-slash-double quote-single quote to the right.

It’s crazy but true. Good luck with it!

(Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash )

On the passing of Aaron Beck, developer of Cognitive Therapy

Last week Dr. Aaron T. Beck died. He lived a century. As the Times said, his

brand of pragmatic, thought-monitoring psychotherapy became the centerpiece of a scientific transformation in the treatment of depression, anxiety and many related mental disorders

I’d argue he did as much if not more for the health and well being of people than any doctor or scientist.

I highly recommend reading this: Dr. Aaron T. Beck, Developer of Cognitive Therapy, Dies at 100 – The New York Times. I was fascinated to see the pushback he received over time, and how he fought back against. Truly a great man.

 

IBM Cloud, Terraform and DB2 (or some of what I find interesting in tech, nov 2021)

Wow! I haven’t done one of these posts on things I have found interesting in tech since July! So of course there is a lot here! I need to do these more often.

For this one it is mostly on the cloud and IBM cloud especially. Not so much Kubernetes this time, but lots on Terraform and DB2 in the cloud. A bit of IoT. Some software. I have a section on IT history which I like too.

Grab a coffee or tea or what have you and dig in. Take what you can use.

IBM Cloud: As usual, I’ve been doing work on cloud…mainly IBM Cloud. Here’s some IBM Cloud Docs on using their API. This on the IBM CLI is  a good reference. Here’s a good Alerts Overview on LOGDNA. This is massively helpful: the API Reference for  https : //sldn.softlayer.com/ … it’s very useful on how to use the API to work with IBM cloud. Here’s something on Alerts using sysdig. More on tracking:  IBM Cloud Monitoring Logging and Activity Tracker with Teams ( a good repo).

Other clouds: While I support IBM Cloud, if you are leaning otherwise, this could be helpful: Accelerating your Migration to AWS. Speaking of  AWS: Augmenting VMware Cloud on AWS Workloads with Native AWS services. Here are some pieces on Azure: Microsoft Azure cloud vulnerability is the worst you can imagine. I have no comment. Hey, maybe it’s time to get off Windows and SQL Server 2012 (or run them on Azure). If that’s you, read that.

On cloud in general, in case you were wondering, the answer to this question: Resiliency Is Automatic When I Move to the Cloud Right? is No. Here’s an interesting piece: The love/hate relationship the cloud has with Linux

Time flies! Happy 15th Birthday Amazon EC2. Lastly, here are the 5 Biggest Cloud Computing Trends In 2022 

Terraform: in working on cloud recently, I’ve been using Terraform and gathering links on using it. Lots of them. Here they are in somewhat random order. For example, discover best-practice VPC configuration for application deployment. Another piece on   IBM and Terraform.  Here’s more on it. Need a terraform Template for Monitoring with Sysdig Teams? If you need to plan create and update deployment environments using TF and IBM Cloud. This is a good blog post on Provisioning IBM Cloud Services With Terraform. If you need to deploy a n-Tier Web App in a Virtual Private Cloud using Terraform & Ansible. This piece is essential if you want to create services in IBM Cloud using Terraform IBM Cloud Services Info. Here’s how to give a .tf file as input in Terraform Apply command.  A page on data sources in Terraform resources explained with example. How about how to create Multiple Instances in a VPC Using Terraform. Or how to create reusable infrastructure with Terraform modules. Or a VPC. Or an n-Tier Web App in a Virtual Private Cloud using Terraform & Ansible .Here’s a piece on IBM Cloud Toolchain- Managed Devops for Schematics/Terraform. If you want to create Virtual servers in IBM cloud Terraform with for loop. A good intro: Getting started with IBM Terraform provider.

Still more on getting started with Terraform. Something harder: How to deploy high-availability web app using Terraform.

DB2: I have been doing lots of work on using DB2 on IBM Cloud. Here’s something on querying the IBM Cloud Databases API from the Command Line. Here’s something on using RESTful APIs and Microservices to Work With Db2. Here’s some examples of using the DB2 API: DB2 get about info,  and  Db2 get overall stuff, and Using the DB2 API.

Kubernetes: doing less stuff on Kubernetes this month, but I thought these were good: OpenShift vs. Kubernetes: What is the Difference? Helpful: Enable Rolling updates in Kubernetes with Zero downtime. Also helpful: Configure Liveness Readiness and Startup Probes.

Software (plus AI): for my DB2 work, I was calling the APIs using bash scripts. Here’s the answer to the question: What is the simplest way to dockerize a bash script? from Quora . Here’s something on executing a SHELL script in a docker container. Relatedly, here’s how to run a Bash script in an Alpine Docker container? 

Here’s some Unix pieces: Canonical extends Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04 life cycle to 10 years. Good! Here’s how to do this on Debian 9:upgrade python 3.5 to python 3.7. Relatedly, here’s how to Install Python 3 on Mac – Brew Install Update Tutorial. Also related: Python on MacOS (Big Sur) . More related stuff on this:  How to fix “macOS: xcrun: error: invalid active developer path missing xcrun” error? 

I used to love the language APL. Here are two things on it: Is APL Dead? and Dyalog APL Tutor. I am curious to see how this plays out: Microsoft announces Windows 11 SE a new Chrome OS competitor.

Here’s two random AI links: The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms (bad) and Motorist fined after CCTV confuses his number plate with woman’s T-shirt (funny bad).

IOT: Need to build front panels for your IOT projects? This is good for them. Relatedly the Ultratroninator3000.

Speaking of IOT projects, here’s some worth checking out: Top project ideas for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Then there is this: Simple Raspberry Pi Weather Station. Related: E-Ink Tide and Weather Tracker. This is a cool project for finance folks:  This tiny IoT ticker-meter turns your tabletop into a miniature stock forex and crypto market! Nice: Kobowriter transforms the Kobo Glo HD into an E Ink typewriter. I loved this: The Simpsons TV Made IRL with Raspberry Pi @Raspberry_Pi #PiDay #RaspberryPi.

IT History: here are a few good pieces on IT history. This was a great piece on how the iPod was developed: A Prototype Original iPod. Going back in time, here’s a good article on Sinclair’s amazing 1974 calculator hack. There was lots of talk about Sinclair computers after the great Home computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged recently at 81. Meanwhile in ancient history, IT wise: 50 years ago today the first UNIX Programmers Manual is released.

IBM History: I was reading this piece on  How IBM “lost the cloud” and it got me thinking. First, I don’t think IBM has lost the cloud business. I also think that IBM’s history is never straightforward and it is risky to count it out. For example, after e-business, IBM tried to promote the idea of autonomous computing. Here’s two pieces on it: Autonomic computing and Q&A: IBM sticks to autonomic computing agenda. It was a good idea, and it supported the work IBM was doing in the Tivoli space, but it was not as big a success as e-business IMHO. From there IBM did work on their Smarter Planet campaign and I believe it was more successful. I did some work in this area myself. From there IBM went into cloud. First there was a homegrown service, and then IBM bought Softlayer and went with that to compete with Amazon and then later Microsoft and Azure. For now the history is still being written. No one has won or lost until cloud is over or someone exits the field. Again, my opinion only.

Cool stuff: here’s something on a A LOST 1981 TRS-80 ADVENTURE GAME (SLIGHTLY REMASTERED FOR THIS CENTURY). Do you want to Turn your Android phone into a pocket Mac Plus? .Of course you do! Here’s a cool tool:  Doodle Ipsum. Check this out: This tiny Simpsons TV lets you watch tiny Simpsons TV. Very fun!

Here’s some cool Microsoft stuff:  Microsoft accounts to no longer need passwords and how to use a VBA procedure that deletes the current page in a Word document. Also this: Office Editing for Docs Sheets & Slides.

Here’s some cool Mac stuff: 12 Clever Apple TV 4K Settings Everyone Should Know About and macOS Terminal commands every Mac user should know

Very cool:  Need a new monitor for your computer? You can wear one on your face.

Generally:  here’s how to How to Mass Delete Emails in Gmail. Here’s a PrinCube Mobile Printer. I like it. Another cool device is this gloriously Fixable Laptop.

Speaking of laptops, here is the  Best cheap laptop of 2021. And here is something else cheap: The HP Chromebook 14 is just over $230 at Amazon right now. Relatedly, here’s 9 Reasons You Should Buy a Pixel 5a Over the iPhone SE.

These are some simple free fully responsive one-page sites for pretty much anything. And Elon Musk says Tesla is working on humanoid robots…sure…whatever edgelord.

Finally: document your code.  And remember, no matter how fast your networks get….

… never, never, never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. 🙂

As always: thanks for reading this!

(Top photo from the story on the ipod. Bottom photo by Mostafa tarek on Unsplash)