Lawn Mowing Simulator’s new expansion gets medieval on your grass

Source: Lawn Mowing Simulator’s new expansion gets medieval on your grass

Lawn mowing — I prefer to call it “LARPing Qix” — has its own video game.

I was going to post some super-snarky comment about how much I hate  yard work, and therefore not being able to imagine either the desire to make a game about it, or the desire to play it, but then I remembered that I’ve been doing some fishing in ESO, despite hating it in real life, and I guess that would make me a hypocrite. In my defense, fishing in ESO is the only way to farm one of the most valuable commodities in the game, and, done in particular ways, can get you achievements, and any time there’s a two-for-one deal in a video game, I’m in.

When the traffic firehose is pointed at you – by Ryan Broderick – Garbage Day

The one mystery we weren’t able to figure out is why any sane person working at Facebook would feel comfortable publishing a content report that admitted that the most viral publisher on its platform this year was a barely active drop-shipping scam page full of stolen video content run by an LLC that doesn’t even exist anymore.

Source: When the traffic firehose is pointed at you – by Ryan Broderick – Garbage Day

I’ve seen several of these posts on my own feed, because my connections will comment on them.

This is the mechanism that’s leading society by the nose now. It’s well understood. Cambridge Analytica revealed it, and this lever is now longer, more unstable, and more susceptible to error and money than ever. And, instead dismantling Facebook, or muzzling the influence of the algorithm that can direct the attention of the entire country, Meta was allowed to be created in order to further insulate Zuckerberg and Facebook board from further journalistic scrutiny and legal oversight.

Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

We used to think the Big Bang meant the universe began from a singularity. Nearly 100 years later, we’re not so sure.

Source: Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

Well, well, well. How the turntables…

“Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we can no longer speak with any sort of knowledge or confidence as to how — or even whether — the universe itself began.”

People who write about science are just certain that they know everything except what they don’t know. What I mean is that they will say we “know” this and that, but we don’t “know” this other. Right? The problem is that “this other” isn’t really in a different league of uncertainty than “this” and “that.” I’ve watched very carefully for this in articles about science for 30 years.

The truth is that “science” has many, gaping holes in various theories about the nature of the universe, but few people acknowledge them. For instance, scientists conclude not only that “dark matter” — a substance which they cannot observe or measure — not only exists, but must make up 95% of the known universe to make their current models work mathematically. The whole concept is just a total “handwave,” and the “scientific community” just pretends that it’s not a problem.

In this article, the writer lays out everything we “know” about the early origins of the universe, and then concludes that we “know” nothing about how it started. Which, coincidentally, is something I’ve been pointing out for decades. The so-called Big Bang Theory actually does nothing to explain our existence here, and this article admits it.

Scientists are forced to conclude that conditions must have been exactly perfect for the expansion of the universe to have occurred in the way we now see it, and there’s no natural explanation for that to have been the case. Just like with evolution, everything supposedly lined up perfectly, but nothing that we can observe or experience about our physical laws tells us that this would happen. (In fact, quite the opposite.) In effect, this article, while purporting to explain in better detail the origins of the universe, argues for at least a guiding hand from a higher intelligence in establishing our reality.

SQL Is Obnoxious

I find SQL obnoxious, due to its brevity. Getting complicated desired behavior from it sometimes requires clever understanding and combinations of very simple primitives. Because it’s taken me about 2 weeks (off and on) to work it out, I present, with no explanation, this code:

WITH vars (var) AS (
  SELECT UNNEST(string_to_array(ancestry, '/')::integer[]) FROM calibrations AS a
)
SELECT c.id AS cal_id, p.id AS param_id, t.id AS tuning_id, o.* FROM tunings t
  LEFT JOIN LATERAL json_array_elements(t.data::json) WITH ORDINALITY AS o ON TRUE
  JOIN variables v ON v.tuning_id = t.id
  JOIN calibrations c ON v.calibration_id = c.id
  JOIN parameters p ON p.label = t.label
WHERE c.id NOT IN (SELECT var FROM vars)
  AND t.data_type = 'Z_Axis'
  AND p.label = 'C_PME_GainFactor_Table'

Ping. Ding. Chirp. Notifications Are Driving Us Crazy.

With workplace tools multiplying and personal messages creeping in, it can be hard to get anything done.

Source: Ping. Ding. Chirp. Notifications Are Driving Us Crazy.

Ha ha.

No.

I am ruthless about silencing all notifications from almost all applications, and then I tailor the notifications from the remaining apps which I allow to bug me. I am also vigilant to either unsubscribe or make mail rules for any email I don’t want. I auto-silence any call from unknown people, and use RoboKiller to automatically redirect spammers. You can make these things work for you, but it is work. The upshot is that, if there is a red bubble somewhere in my field of view, then I work on it.

Apple’s $64 billion-a-year App Store isn’t catching the most egregious scams – The Verge

While it’s impossible for us to tell how many of the horoscope app’s 32,000 star-only ratings are fake, Eleftheriou says Apple should have no problem with that. “When you consider refund request rates, app usage, and other associated info that only Apple has, you could imagine a totally revamped discovery system that does away with the current crude star-rating system that hasn’t seen any innovation since Bezos pioneered it 20 years ago,” he suggests.

Eleftheriou tells me that Apple has removed over 100 apps due to his reports — and if you’re wondering whether his online crusade is personal, the answer is most definitely yes. He began digging for scams after his own app FlickType, a keyboard for Apple Watch, was overtaken by scam apps that didn’t work and charged ludicrous fees, yet prospered due to fake reviews.

By the way: you know that app that John Gruber helped draw attention to in 2019, the one that reportedly charged $10 every week for wallpaper you could find free online? It’s still on the App Store. The app never got permanently removed. It currently has a 4.1 rating, despite countless negative reviews, and SensorTower estimates the app still makes its developer $10,000 a month.

Source: Apple’s $64 billion-a-year App Store isn’t catching the most egregious scams – The Verge

There are several things that are becoming apparent to the world after 20 years of “Web 2.0.” One of those things is that the ubiquitous 5-star review system is dead on the table. Every one is being gamed to the point of unusability. I don’t even look at the review scores on Amazon or the App Store any more, as those scores are actually worse than having no score at all. Netflix got rid of their scoring system awhile ago, and I find their recommendations actually improved. The rest of the world must follow suit. The only internal review system I trust is Steam, and I wonder how long I can continue to do so.

Every time you think you can trust a rating or a ranking on the internet, remember that this is what you’re up against.

Speaking of which, maybe I should buy some Twitter followers, or some engagement on this web site…

OKAY | Why the status quo is so hard to change in engineering teams

Before we talk about how to prevent it, let’s see how learned helplessness can happen in a development team. There are 2 main patterns:

Pattern #1: Process-related Learned Helplessness

In this case, the team needs to follow processes that have either been externally imposed, or internally imposed but no-one remembers exactly why.

Pattern #2: Complexity-related Learned Helplessness

In this other case, the source of powerlessness is sheer scale and/or complexity. There is truly no-one who understands the emergent behavior of the system.

Source: OKAY | Why the status quo is so hard to change in engineering teams

So I’m currently reading the book Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman, which just so happens to be the seminal psychological work which teaches people how to combat learned helplessness. I’ll skip trying to give a primer on the process, but the one key that I need to talk about here is that you have to be objective in finding explanations for negative things in your life. Pessimists generally blame themselves for everything, and we all know that’s not fair. Even pessimists wouldn’t blame other people for their own problems when it’s obvious that they aren’t, but they will happily continue to blame themselves for problems that they know they are not responsible for.

People often think I’m a pessimist, but I’m not. I’m objective. I’m so objective that it’s almost a superpower. In that objectivity, I often realize that I am the source of the problem. That may appear to others that I’m a pessimist. However, I’m not afraid of calling a spade a spade, and pointing out that a problem is someone else’s fault, either. And I’m about to explain how this whole topic of discussion is, in fact, someone else’s fault, it’s systemic, and it’s not going to change.

The quoted article found its way to “Hacker” “News,” but you have to understand that this is a blog post from a company which sells software that purports to solve these problems for teams of programmers. I say, “hogwash.”

Every one of the problems listed in the article is the result of bad management.

Period. There’s no getting around it, and there’s no sugar coating it. In the vein of the article, “there are 2 main patterns” why.

First, in our modern feudalism of corporations, the low-level managers are like barons, the middle managers are like earls, upper managers are like dukes, and the C-levels are like princes. Everything flows from the top down. Everyone is playing political intrigue for more power, in the only terms that the corporate structure can understand and deal with: budget and headcount. No one will deal with fixing a problem if it doesn’t directly contribute to their standing with their peers or superiors, and problems with software build systems, infrastructure, or technical debt are simply invisible to anyone not dealing with it directly.

Second, the days of building a company to last 100+ years is gone. J. Irwin Miller built Cummins into a world-spanning empire, and then retired. Then the company started implementing all the trendy business-school ideas, and was getting run into the ground. Miller came out of retirement and righted the ship, and then retired again. Those days of people caring about a company like this are gone. Everyone is out to “get theirs,” and then hit the brcks. Everyone knows this, but we still like to pretend that anyone in the bridge cares if the company actually survives in its efforts to make the next $100M.

From HR systems to compensation to benefits, companies are deeply, deeply afflicted with myopic vision. It’s driven from the very top, where every decision of significance is made in view of the almighty stock price. Corporate boards encourage this behavior by tying executive pay to stock options. For decades now, we’ve watched big companies sacrifice long-term performance for short-term gains, because it will net the corporate officers tens of millions of dollars in stock grants. If there’s any hope in this situation, it’s that most of the excess capacity in corporate America has already been wrung out (q.v., the recent supply chain issues), and there’s nothing left to pillage, either internally, or by corporate raiding. (The play now is to merge to form effective monopolies and duopolies, and extract all the profit from your market, but that’s another topic.)

When you combine a lack of visibility with a lack of vision, you get an appalling lack of concern for issues that the rank-and-file serfs deal with.

The fact that issues that programming teams deal with are highly-technical doesn’t matter at all. In fact, it works against them, because fixes are more expensive than in other teams. Say, like buying yet another web service, on top of all the others you already subscribe to, in order to apply metrics to problems that management will never fix, because they neither understand nor care.

There are a lot of examples I could write about here, but one stands out. I know of a person who was briefly involved with an effort to quantify the development process for his Fortune 150-sized company, much like the linked article. When he talked with a knowledgable insider about the system, it was one shocking revelation after another. The system was down more often than it was up. There was no way to estimate how long a build would take. There was no way to check on the current load of the system. There was no way to check on jobs, other than to log into a remote machine and tail a log file. The system wouldn’t even send out an email at the end of the build to indicate success or failure, because it would show how badly the whole thing performed.

So a “baron” in another group got the bright idea that they would oversee the writing of a dashboard to overlay metrics on the process, so that the “earl” who was responsible for it could “see what parts to focus on.” Let that sink in… Do you see the problem here? This manager thought that he would be allowed access to the various running processes of the system, to quantify, graph, and display them — like, on the shared screens in common spaces — when the owner of the system wouldn’t even allow emails about the success or failures of builds to be sent out, which is the most basic of all metrics, and which would have required only a single checkbox to be ticked. The mere idea of this project was so hopeless as to border on insanity.

The people responsible for the system already knew about its problems. They didn’t need metrics. They didn’t care! Whether that was from a lack of budget or a lack of headcount or a lack of technical ability or a lack of communication with other teams… none of that mattered. The people responsible for the system weren’t willing to spend their political capital to fix the problems of the system. And whether that lack of will came from their own political ambitions or a lack of understanding or a lack of vision… none of that mattered either.

The article talks about why developers get frustrated, and proposes that metrics will fix it. Their system won’t help, because, in most companies, it’s not about a lack of metrics. It’s a lack of will, motivated by personal ambition, gamed by incentivizing short-term productivity. As a developer in a group like this, you can blame yourself, or you can look for opportunities internally, or you can take your show to a different stage. All of those responses are in the HN thread about the article. We all have to find our own balance points between our predilections and our companies’.

As a developer, you can alter your internal “explanatory style” to move the blame for the problems you have to deal with to systems or software or people, but all of that misses the real point.

In post-modern, Fortune-sized, American corporations, the problem is management, and all management starts from the top. The corporate officers set the leadership paradigm the rest of the company will adopt, and they are being strongly incentivized against long-term investment in tooling and process. This mindset trickles all the way down to the bottom. If there are problems with “getting stuff out the door,” they will almost always hire more people, because that’s almost always the easier and cheaper solution than retooling an entire department with new software and process. And then, every 5-10 years or so, they will bury their failure to address actual productivity problems with yet another “reorg” or sweeping IT platform change.

I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End

I have a simple question for every ‘expert’ who thinks they understand the root causes of the shipping crisis:

Why is there only one crane for every 50–100 trucks at every port in America?

No ‘expert’ will answer this question.

I’m a Class A truck driver with experience in nearly every aspect of freight. My experience in the trucking industry of 20 years tells me that nothing is going to change in the shipping industry.

Source: I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End

This is the other half of the port problem itself.

Both of these stories talk all around the issue, but if you read between the lines, you can see the root problem, which I’ve been trying to explain for awhile now.

It is the business plan of every VC-funded startup today to buy their way into a market, use their funding to underprice everyone else out of it, come to monopolize it, and then extract all the profit from it going forward. (Or dualopolize, and collude with another heavy weight. Looking at you Verizon and AT&T.) Everyone else has learned the new playbook, and the US is experiencing runaway consolidation and monopolization in every market sector.

You can see the after-effects of this approach right now in New York. Uber has “won,” and the cab business is now in the toilet. The incumbent hegemony has been overthrown, and medallions (cab “licenses”) are now worth 1/5th what they were a couple years ago. Naturally, the state is proposing relief for cab companies, but it doesn’t give much relief to individual owners, and many of them are on hunger strike for more help.

We say that the United States has a capitalist economic system, but every business since the Reagan 80’s has concentrated its efforts to accrete as much power as possible, and use it to bully current competitors, and prevent new entrants into the market. This has resulted in our current situation where 2 or 3 companies control virtually everything about any particular market you can point to. The classic examples are food and entertainment/news. And when any large-enough business gets in trouble, the government is Johnny-on-the-spot to come rushing in with a bailout. So much for taking risks being the operative balance to getting to enjoy the profits.

The excess capacity of every link of every supply chain in the country has been liquidated for short-term profit over the past decade, and then COVID happened. And, very naturally, as predicted perfectly by the corporate model, the companies which have their respective leash on the various parts of this problem are yanking on them, to try to extract more profit from “the market.” Except that we, the average citizen, are “the market” here, and that’s why we’re seeing people start talking about inflation. It’s coming, and it’s inevitable, because the US has “free market capitalism” in name only now. Between the bailouts, and with as much involvement as Congress has “regulating” every market and industry now, it’s hard not to call our system a planned economy, which, of course, is the classic euphemism for Communism.

M1 Max Chip May Have More Raw GPU Performance Than a PlayStation 5

Source: M1 Max Chip May Have More Raw GPU Performance Than a PlayStation 5

So what?

Back in 2019, I was starting to think about an upgrade to my 2014 MBP, which is a darn-near perfect machine. (My son has it now.) However, I didn’t want a TouchBar, nor to put up with a lack of a physical ESC key. There was never a “killer app” for the TB to make it interesting, and I use ESC extensively when running vim. So I thought I’d just wait, and see what the next generation would bring.

But then my wife started saying that we probably had the money for me to upgrade, and I don’t need to be told twice. When your wife is open to you making a major purchase, you do it, even if you’re not quite ready. So I bought a 2019 with an i9, 32 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD, and a Vega 20, hoping beyond hope that it would play some AAA games passably well. The total was $4,000.

The only thing I was really playing on the PC at the time was Civilization V. It played it about as well as my old PC, so I just kept playing it on there, to keep the heat load off the MBP.

Then I started playing Elder Scrolls Online, so I tried it on my Mac. It stutters every few seconds, like it’s texture thrashing, and I thought, well, Bethesda just didn’t optimize it for the Vega, and that’s too bad. But then I saw it running on a friend’s 2020 MBP, with only integrated graphics, and it runs… pretty well, actually! So I spent an extra $750 upgrading to the best GPU I could get, and it actually made gaming on the Mac worse for me. So I continue to play ESO on a twelve-year-old PC with an Athlon64 and a nVidia 9xx-series GPU. The fact that this rig plays the game pretty well only adds salt to the wound that my expensive MBP basically can’t play it at all.

The new MacBook Pro’s look perfect, and base models start out about half the price of this one. Ouch. If I had just waited a couple of years, and given up on the stupid idea that gaming on a Mac is ever going to be a thing, I’d be in computing nirvana now.

Whatever “power” they may put in the thing, I just don’t see gaming companies supporting it. Bethesda has already said that will not be porting ESO to M1. This isn’t surprising. I mean, there were only a handful of AAA titles ported to Mac when they were running Intel CPU’s and AMD GPU’s. Now that both halves of the whole are completely different architectures than their PC brethren, I don’t see any gaming companies making the effort.

Mac for programming. Playstation for gaming. Windows for ESO. God, I wish I could cut Windows completely out of my life. I’ve been tempted to move to PS for ESO, but I can’t give up my investment, and I couldn’t live without a whole slew of mods I rely on. I started playing ESO again because I’ve been shut in with health problems for a long time. Once I get better, if I would stop playing ESO again, I could put the PC back in the closet.

P.S. It’s so great to see Apple responding to clamorous and sustained criticisms of their MBP hardware from power users in places like Hacker News. (Including last night’s update to the Monterey public beta, which restores proper tabs in Safari.) It gives me hope that the platform will continue to be a good one for developers, and not be morphed into a mobile-like experience.

P.P.S. World of Warcraft has been ported to native M1. Maybe I should just switch MMO’s. I wonder what New Worlds’ situation is… Oh. Bootcamp. Nevermind. I didn’t buy a Mac to run Windows. I dual booted my PC’s between Linux for work and Windows for gaming for decades. No more. I think you should just buy a PC laptop if you’re going to do that.

Netflix can’t shake Chappelle controversy | TheHill

Netflix can’t seem to close the door on “The Closer,” with the streaming giant only further inflaming controversy with its defense of Dave Chappelle’s mocking of the transgender community in his latest comedy special.

Source: Netflix can’t shake Chappelle controversy | TheHill

This article is a pristine example of what’s wrong with “internet” “news,” and why we, as a society, are so fractured and antagonistic towards each other.

  1. A Netflix co-CEO has responded to the backlash, and, frankly, was unequivocal about their position. The only reason they could be described as not being able to “shake” the controversy is because someone with an axe to grind at The Hill says so in an article designed to… incite more controversy. All links in the article refer back to… more articles at The Hill, and this article adds no new developments to the story.
  2. I watched the special. I worked through the language, and watched it till the end. There are some pointed opinions about gender expressed, which I can understand some people would take umbrage with, in particular. However, what cannot be misconstrued — unless you are specifically trying to misconstrue it — is that the overall message of the special — the entire point of it, in fact — is one of unequivocal support for human beings, no matter what social tribe they identify with. (Except if they’re white, which I actually appreciate in the context of his oeuvre.)

Towards the end, Chappelle makes one of the most compelling and compassionate statements about the modern human condition that I’ve ever heard anyone make, and I have a real problem with people who can’t see past their own prejudices to hear it. Anyone coming away from watching the show with any message other than love towards any minority is purposely trying to leverage selected quotes to gin up hatred towards Chappelle, and cash in on the resulting clicks. In my opinion, this sort of behavior is literally strangling society as we have known it up till now.

UPDATE: Hold up.

“I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting,” Ted Sarandos said in an interview.

Source: Netflix Co-CEO Says He ‘Screwed Up’ When Defending Dave Chappelle Special

$10 says they pull the special within a month. Now that the people decrying the program have seen that they can draw blood in the form of an apology for the reaction to the reaction, they will double down on getting the episode removed from the service.