Female Softball Player Comes Out as Straight – The Daily Currant

In an emotional press conference this morning, Jennifer Ryan, 23, announced that she was a “proud member” of the opposite-sex community. The senior shortstop is believed to be the first and only openly straight women’s softball player in the history of NCAA athletics.

via Female Softball Player Comes Out as Straight – The Daily Currant.

This whole thing is nothing short of pure brilliance.

The Pile of SUCK that is Installing SQL Server

This is a long story, but I want to get it down to remember it all.

At work, I have a Core i5-based laptop and a Xeon-based “workstation.” They are both many years old. (To be fair, we’re getting new equipment, but that’s 4 months off.) The laptop is so slow, I don’t even bother to use it for anything other than Lotus Notes. I would run that on the workstation, but Notes apparently can’t be installed in two places at once, like some sort of 25-year-old technology or something.

Already, we’re off to a flying start.

So, to enable working from home, I’ve configured my home machine to have most of the software I use at work, like Visual Studio and SQL Server. Now, at home, I just installed the “Express” version of SQL Server, thinking I wouldn’t need anything else. However, this has caused some consternation as I have to continually switch the database connection string back and forth as I work from the source code in the two different places.

Today, I discovered that SQL Server Express apparently can’t make database changes that require lifting the requirement of foreign key restraints. I mean, that sort of thing worked just fine at work on the “Pro” version, and I didn’t try to investigate it. I just removed the Express version, and went to download the Pro version I had saved in Dropbox. Only, it wasn’t there. That download was too big, and I never put it in Dropbox.

No problem, I’ll just download it from Microsoft.

Wrong.

Now they’re up to version “2014.” You can’t download 2012. Secondly, there’s no way to just download the thing; you have to use their Akamai download widget. So I do. Only, on the forty-second click of the install-and-download process, I clicked the wrong thing, and cancelled the download. All I knew to do was restart the installer of this utility, so I did. And then it said that I still had a version running. So I installed again anyway. Nothing happened. So I tried again, killed the PID, and installed again. Nothing happened. So I ran the program from the Programs list, and… nothing happened. So I finally figured out that I needed to reload the Microsoft download web page, and the download started again.

No one wins any usability points for any part of this process.

I got so frustrated with this process, and how stupid it is for a bunch of really smart people to have created, that I got up and walked away from the computer. While I was calming down, before the restart and retry, Microsoft sent me an email, thanking me for trying software I hadn’t even been able to download as yet. Brilliant. Just… brilliant.

I was keeping my phone on me because my water heater went out today, and I’m waiting on a call from a plumber, so this whole thing is not helping.

So now, after forty-seven more clicks to start the installation of SQL Server Professional 2014, I’m letting it spend 15 minutes installing a fairly-minimal set of options. Options that are going to take 4.5 GB of hard drive space, 2.2 of which, I note, are the “administrative” tools. Are you serious!? Whatever. And so I go on my web site and rant.

While I’m typing this, about 3 dialog boxes popped up and disappeared, apparently cleared by typing normal letters. I have no idea what they were about, but the installation has just finished, and presented me with a system-modal error message saying that it failed. Looking at the summary, I see that the “Database Engine Services” — the one piece I really need — is the part that didn’t install. The reason? “An error occurred during the setup process.” Oh, thanks, Microsoft. That was helpful.

“But, David,” you’ll say to me, “Microsoft provides an error code, and even a hyperlink to the real problem, right there in the installer!” Yes, it does, and it goes to a dead link and a 404 page. Thanks for playing.

The bottom line here is that I’m tired. After 20 years of putting up with this sort of thing, I’m tired of this behavior. Things are NOT LIKE THIS on Linux or Macs. They have their own frustrations, to be sure, but it’s not like this. We all put up with the Windows ecosystem, with its free-versus-pro distinctions of software, its endless clicks to get through installers, its ridiculous and random error message handling, and the disastrous amount of cruft that these sorts of exercises make on our systems. We all accept it as normal. We’ve become habituated to it, and hardly even notice it any more. Well I’m sick of it.

I went into this chapter of my life — of programming on Windows — with great hope. I let my Macbook go back to the company I left, thinking I would jump with both feet back into the Microsoft world again. I’ve made jokes to the effect of “what was I thinking” on various social media sites, but this is sort of the last straw. My patience is completely exhausted at the moment. I know things will be better when my company starts rolling out new hardware, and I’ll have a decent laptop that I can bring home to work on, but it’s still going to be all-Windows-all-the-time, and I just don’t know what to think about that at the moment.

UPDATE

I uninstalled everything related to SQL Server, and started over. The database service wouldn’t start. There was a lot of goose-chasing about SSL certificates, and I got thoroughly confused and mystified with how Windows deals with them. In the end, this blog post fixed my problem.

UPDATE

Spoke too soon. Still doesn’t work. I’m about to give up and do this stupid project on MySQL. Or… Oracle?…

College Sports Stars Going Hungry?!

Shabazz Napier, point guard for The University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, recently told reporters he understands why athletes at Northwestern need a union, as he sometimes has to go to bed “starving” because he cannot afford food.

“We as student athletes get utilized for what we do so well. We are definitely blessed to get a scholarship to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food and sometimes money is needed,” the senior told reporters. “I think, you know, Northwestern has an idea, and we’ll see where it goes.”

via UConn’s Napier: ‘We do have hungry nights’ | The CT Mirror.

It’s crystal clear that universities are making megabucks from their sports programs. They hire pro-level coaches and trainers, build larger stadiums than the pros play in, and build extensive and lavish practice facilities at the expense of other campus facilities. It is therefore crystal clear that they could spend more on the people making them all of this money, regardless of how well they may be treated compared with the rest of the student body. I’m not saying they should unionize, but that’s an obvious solution to the disparity, and that’s why unions were instituted. If universities want to protect this wage slavery, they better up the ante.

The fundamental problem here is that there’s an extraordinary gap in the sports world centered around the idea of an “amateur.” That distinction existed in my youth as the primary differentiator for the Olympics, but the entire concept is gone. The last bastion of willing disbelief fell when the US fielded the “Dream Team” in the ’92 Olympics. It’s time the rest of the world throw away such a quaint idea. If the “amateur” world is going to make as much, or more, with their programs as the “professional” world, they can pay their players similarly.

The question, at this point, is why aren’t liberals screaming about disparity and equality here? No, seriously. It would seem to me that the people most affected by this situation are underprivileged kids who otherwise wouldn’t be going to school. Where are the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton on this? Seems like a made-for-aggrievance opportunity here. And perhaps rightly so.

Comparison Time

Imagine the ridicule and derision that would be directed at someone who still wanted to have RedHat support version 7.1. Or Mozilla support Netscape 6.

It’s Superman III, For Real

It only took a tiny fraction of a second for Brad’s trade to reach the next exchanges on the network, but the high-speed traders were able to jump in front of him, buy the same stock and drive the price up before his order arrived, producing a small profit of just one or two pennies. But it was happening to everyone’s trades millions of times a day.

via Is the U.S. stock market rigged? – CBS News.

I’ve long thought that the “rich are getting richer” off the backs of ignorant investors, fueled by massive, continual “quantitative easing” and a 401K law that has just recently reached saturation. This is how it’s done. Unless news outlets get their collective dander up such that the government is embarrassed to do something about it, it’s going to continue, and deepen.

And I don’t call ordinary investors, “ignorant,” because of anything other than the truth. I’m not wise to the market. My brother-in-law has worked in stocks and bonds for years (in both) and doesn’t day-trade. If he doesn’t think he can make money at it, who can?

There was a time that you could buy shares in a company, and have a tiny slice of ownership. For your investment, you could vote (collectively) on matters before the board, and you got paid a dividend when things went well. Now, a few banks get together, fund an IPO for non-voting stock, then sell those shares to investment houses, who sell them to suckers hoping that the price goes up. The company doesn’t have any responsibility to these shareholders, because there’s no way for the shareholders to hold them accountable. And the notion of dividends is… quaint. It’s just a pure gamble, based on some shared hallucination that “company performance” should somehow be related to share price. With voting and dividends out of the equation, there is nothing to tie these things together. Nothing!

And thus the entire concept of a public company, instituted for the benefit of society, has snowballed into the American stock market to become the biggest ponzi scheme in the history of the world.

Kickstarter’s Oculus Black Eye

I take Oculus’ sale to Facebook as a black eye for Kickstarter. Why? Because it’s another failure mode to estimate and hedge against when choosing to back a project. If I help fund a project that promises an “open” hardware platform to develop against, and they sell out to a multi-billion dollar corporation with their own agenda, and they take the product in a different direction, close the SDK, encumber the development process with fees, and create an app store with a centrally-controlled approval process, it’s not — in fact — the product that I had intended to back. I’m not getting the result I was trying to fund. So now I have to worry that there can be “too much” success in a Kickstarter project.

It also seems that potentially-explosive products need to offer some sort of reward to Kickstarter backers if they get bought for zillions of dollars. I know, I know, I know. I’ve heard it repeated many times already: “backers” are not “investors,” and don’t get the same ownership benefits. However, that being said, if I had backed a project that becomes a miraculous success, so much so that it nets the owner his own island in the South Pacific, I’d feel a little slighted with the sticker I got. It just seems that there’s a disconnect there. I suppose it’s with the premise itself. Kickstarter was started to provide a way for people with limited capital requirements to get a niche product to market — the long tail — not as a way to fund a demo of a world-impacting product with the intention of finding “real” investment, or selling off before even making their product. Used in this way, it feels more like a poor man’s version of Shark Tank.

Down the Rabbit Hole

You don’t have to think very hard to work out that the PostSecret crowd leans liberal, but there’s an underlying assumption in this card that reveals just how liberal some can be. I mean, really. How deep does it have to run when not being a fan of Hil becomes a secret you don’t think you can reveal to your friends? Perhaps it’s just a function of being terse in the format, but the brevity here forces the presumption of a complete lack of awareness, or just a nonchalance about it. Either way, it’s disturbing.

Yegge: The Emacs Problem

And what about, oh, web pages? Or word-processor documents? Well, you figure it out. Web pages use HTML, which isn’t even powerful enough to represent text styles, let alone something like an event handler. So Web pages have CSS, and JavaScript, and all this other hooey. It’s become so ugly that people don’t really write web pages anymore, not for production stuff. Nowadays people treat the morass of ancient, crufty Web technologies as a sort of assembly language. You write code to assemble your pages piecewise using PHP or XML/XSLT or Perl/Mason or Java/JSP or perhaps all of them in a giant ugly pipeline, which “compiles” down to an unreadable Web page format. Talk about fun!

via the-emacs-problem – steveyegge2.

All of that cruft to solve one problem: the entire model is stateless. And I’m rapidly getting over it. Someday, someone’s going to implement an elegant way to keep state in a web app between clicks — the kind of thing you just take for granted in a native, compiled app — and it’ll start a whole new revolution in programming.