Archive for September, 2012

Bad Night

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Yesterday I took some time in the morning to get a flu shot and, for the first time, a pneumonia shot. My arm has swelled up and I can’t make a fist. It is more than 24 hours and I still feel like crap. Each year the flu shot makes me feel like I have the flu, even though I am assured by many who know that it is not possible. My arm is very painful.

I am suffering today from allergies. Last night I kept waking up sneezing and dripping. The Zyrtec did nothing to help me. My nose, throat and eyes are burning.

Since I was tossing and turning last night, my arthritic hip and knee caused b great pain and woke me up even when my nose wasn’t running.

Last night, sometime around 3AM, someone hit a pole down the street and the power went out. The noise machine stopped and as a result, I could not get back to sleep after I woke up. The police and the utility company made a racket. The power came back around 5AM, but by then it was too late to get any sleep.

I feel like death warmed over.

I am sitting here, thinking of things that I’d like to do, but I can’t even get the car out of the driveway.

I am also worried about the chickens. Yesterday afternoon, a raccoon, got into the shed. It was a young one and did no damage, but it upset the chickens. I have to hang around and try to convince it to stay away from them. Last night I set a have-a-heart trap with cheese, but caught an opossum. Opossums won’t bother the chickens, although they will go for eggs and chicks, if there are any.

It is unusual for a raccoon to be up and around in the daytime, so I am worried that it might be rabid. It is very young and might be newly kicked out by his mother, and very hungry. The recycling was knocked over last night, so I think it was him.

Fall Cat

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Larry took this picture

What I need for Christmas

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I am a a believer, as is Author Ray Kurzweil, that the singularity is coming. You may know Kurzweil as an electronics engineer who revolutionized electronic synthesis of sound and music. You might know him as the guru who has a blueprint for living forever through diet and exercise. You might know him from his Maker talks, website, or intriguing articles in major magazines.

He’s written some pretty fascinating articles and books.

His latest book will be out soon. I am looking forward to it. If you buy through the link you get a T-shirt, an autograph and other cools stuff.

Kurzweil is basically a cool nerd and I, for one, get him. The book is a great present for any cool nerds that you know.

How To Create A Mind – PreOrder

My Hosting Account Hacked

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I received an email from 1and1 that my website has been hacked. This is strange. They were able to access my FTP account. The FTP account password has not been changed in many years and was a very simple one.

I have long since started including Upper Case, numbers and punctuation in the password. Some accounts won’t take the punctuation, but a mixture of lower, upper, numbers and punctuation is very hard to crack and most hack attempts will fail with these.

I have deleted all the existing FTP accounts and reestablished them with new passwords.

My sites were down for a few hours this morning. Since I am writing this email, I assume that they are all back up.

My financial accounts have hard passwords, but I am going to change them today, anyway.

It is interesting that they did not do anything bad. They hacked a package that does statistics, which is strange. They changed only one file that might have been damaging to anyone. I will tighten up some of the controls that I have and I hope that they don’t get back in.


Is it true that “not everyone can be a programmer”?

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Is it true that “not everyone can be a programmer”?.

I taught programming from around 1980 to just a few years ago. I have to agree with the assessment of some of the studies. There are those who learn programming and those who don’t. I taught the class as through there were two kinds of students, those who understood how to program and those who could learn the rules and syntax of a language but not write a program. The first type were hackers and the second types, just good students.

Later on, I found that students were not interested in programming or studying, just passing the course, and the last few classes that I taught were frustrating in that the majority of the students would cheat if given the chance. Only one or two out of 20 would do the homework.

Strangely enough, I found COBOL easier to teach than things like PHP or Visual Basic. It is, perhaps, because COBOL was wordy and the sentences seemed to make some kind of sense as English language statements. Database, which did not require complex programming -just scripts to run against the database, was easier for the non-programmer. Students who could do things like create scripts for spreadsheet programs, were not as successful at writing a program, but could write an SQL query or procedure.

Some people never could figure out what was going on in a loop. Loops seemed to be the mountain that students could not climb.

When I taught loops I found that students did not like to follow the line by line procedural process that makes the look work. They tried to look at the shape of the loop, with the conditions and infer from that the outcome. If there was an if statement in the loop that could give a different value for each iteration, they were lost.

The students were too smart for the loop. I could not get them dumb down and follow the loop’s progress, step by step. The wanted to understand the “whole” and missed the granular activities that changed each time the loop executed. Hacker’s usually grasped this the first time through.

Programmers are not any smarter than those who can’t program. Programming works for a detailed, procedurally aware person. Programming does not work for those who want to understand a the higher principle of a program, usually because there is none.