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Joe Philipps
Just another curmudgeon wandering the Internet
Just another curmudgeon wandering the Internet

Joe's posts

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Ever since G+ had the ability to pin a post to the top of the list of posts displayed when somebody views my profile, I've been meaning to consolidate some ideas from various places about how I use G+, to explain some things.  I have finally decided to take a stab at it.

First, I'd like to say that I will try to use the most appropriate medium for posting.  I really like the style of +Eric Raymond , where for longer form stuff, he posts some introductory thoughts on G+ and then links to his blog post.  So for some fuzzy idea of what constitutes a post "too long for G+" I will instead post over to and "cross link them" (a post here links to Blogspot, and the end of the Blogspot post links back to the G+ post).  Since Google doesn't have an easy way to do this (that I know of), there will usually be some time when one isn't linked to the other, most likely because I'm in the process of editing one or the other (can't get a link to the G+ post until a G+ post is made, so then I have to go back to the blog post and edit the embedded URI).

This post in particular is an exception to the general rule that I use.  It's longer than I'd like for a G+ post, but here is where it belongs.

Please keep in mind, a plus-one can mean a lot of things.  The Google folks even made a post about that when G+ was just getting started, and they listed (I think) 50 things.  As an example of something where I think that can be easily misunderstood, I have Fox News in my Circles, and I plus-one a lot of their posts.  It doesn't necessarily mean I agree with the subject matter of the post, in many cases for them specifically, it means, "Thank you for reporting on that."  As a hypothetical example, if they report, "ISIL beheads more Christians," I don't want ISIL to kill Christians just for being Christians, but I'm am glad Fox News reported that.

I extremely rarely delete posts/comments.  For example, there was one case that the person about whom I posted did not like that I brought up an issue which had been vexing them for over a year.  I mistakenly irritatied them by posting some suggested solutions, not seeing the year part of the posting date, and they expressed some annoyance at me.  I asked them if they'd prefer I deleted the whole thread, they said "yes," so I did out of respect for them and because I intended no harm or irritation whatsoever.

Similarly, it is very rare indeed, but there have been comments made on some of my posts which have no relevance to the post's topic.  Believe me, in one example, I like the commenting person just fine, it's just that I didn't want anything not really related to that post in the comments, so I deleted the off-topic comment.  So if you commented on something I put up there only to find later your comment deleted, I probably couldn't find any direct or possibly even indirect relevance, and I'm sorry if this annoys you or something, but if it doesn't seem to serve any direct purpose, I will likely delete it.  Really, even though I am not any government entity, I believe in the principles stated in US Constitution Amendment I, and very rarely see the need for what amounts to censorship, and if what I argue can't stand up to a little debated scrutiny, maybe I'd better rethink my position.

Almost everything I post is to "Public," and I do not think I have any settings which inhibit anything (reshares, comments, etc.).  But every once in a GREAT while, I see no futher productive discussion happening, and I will disable comments for some posts, and perhaps even delete some.  Again, I admit that's kind of a weak thing to  do, instead of seeking ways to strengthen my argument, but every once in a long while, I see nothing particularly productive going on and shut it down.  If anyone sees a need to comment further, I don't think I've ever disabled a reshare (which is kind of just a convenience thing anyway, it's not particularly tough to post while copying the text of another post or a link to it), so they can put in their $0.02 that way on whatever topic.  I do that all the time with one particular person in my Circles who apparently restricts commenting on their posts (I'll just say they're one of the higher profile early Internet people).  Hey, that's their prerogative, and why the setting's there, even though I wish they wouldn't do that.

Disabling comments happens to apply to this specific post.  Its sole intent is a broadcast for anyone to read, it is not meant as a conversation starter.

I know Google probably want to focus only on the positive, hence there is only a plus-one button on G+, but I sure wish sometimes there were a -1, like there is on YouTube.  As an example, of particular utility for that  is when Fox News posts about some feature of some product (usualy vehicles) and mentions exactly what product it is.  It looks more like they're passing off an ad as a news article, and I always wonder if they get paid to do that by the company getting "reported on."  Ditto with curt posts with a link only to  I don't want to wade through minutes of my time watching a video to get at the heart of the story, I just want to get a quick idea of what the story is about, and be able to skim a Web page.

I'm also terribly sorry if you Circle me and my response is to block you.  Every now and again, I see folks, usually Pages (specific G+ meaning, not generic meaning), which Circle me.  A number of times in the past, not too, too long after I saw the message about so-and-so has Circled you, I would receive a message which is in essence spam.  I would guess that a lot of these folks Circle me with the expectation of me Circling them back.  I get enough posts in my Stream without Circling every random person back, it's already a bit overwhelming.  And Google do not do me any favors by showing me "so and so plus-one'd this here post."  I haven't yet been irritated enough by the latter to write some Stylish or Scriptish Greasemonkey* so I never have to see those (although I have for the stupid "you may know" or "trending" or other similar useless-to-me blocks in my Stream).  So I guess that's a long way of saying, if you deduce that I've blocked someone, I just really didn't see the point in the act of Circling, and as a preemptive/proactive move of not receiving spam posts, I applied a block.  For example,  I just don't see any point of "Boomer Benefits" or "Indian Arts" following what I have to say, and I really would rather not receive posts from them.

Don't get me wrong, I would regret if I block somebody for such arbitrary reasons, and they really had something to say that I would find interesting, but alas, dems da breaks.  I also do have some folks blocked who seem to have no valid point whatsoever and are objectionable to me for one reason or another (they write in all caps all the time, their English is just incomprehensible to me, or all they can seem to do is troll).  Life is just a whole lot simpler when I am pretty much blissfully unaware that these folks have written/said anything.  And as one DSLReports user says in his .sig block (paraphrasing), keep things simple, they'll get complicated all on their own.

Oh, well...I think that's about enough for now, I'll edit/add on to this if I think of any more relevant stuff.

* Scriptish (for Firefox) unfortuantely went "splat" and does not really work with the latest FF releases.  So I had to revert to Greasemonkey, which isn't as convenient.  A lot of the pages I want to fix are JavaScript abominations, and the things I want to fix are constructed with JS.  Scriptish has a script mode which delays execution until the page is idle, whereas I have to add an onload event listener to do that myself in Greasemonkey.

I would like to know who thinks someone can be an mechanical engineer and not be a scientist. In order to complete a mechanical engineering degree, or really any engineering degree, science courses are required. Not only that, but I would think the principles learned in those science classes (probably physics, right?) are applied every day on the job.

So why is it so many in opposition to "Bill Nye the Science Guy" say he's not a scientist? From the things I have read, he has at least a bachelors in mechanical engineering, and worked at Boeing. If you want to attack his stances on scientific subjects, like AGW, why do you have to insist he's not a scientist? He most certainly IS a scientist. It's just I can't agree with his beliefs like AGW.

This morning, Glenn Beck is no exception. Once again, he shouts Bill Nye isn't a scientist.

I picked a spot at random within this video:

The host says that unequivocally using an ad blocker is stealing. Using that logic, he ought to be forced to read every single piece of mail he receives, beginning to end. This includes all the pieces most of us commonly refer to as junk mail. What...skipping all those ads and just tossing them into the recycling bin is not stealing? Yeah...thought so. As Morpheus said, free your mind. You could, if you wanted, take on sponsors...which YOU EXPLICITLY MENTION THAT YOU DON'T DO. (duh.) You don't even need to do (full) ads for them, sometimes all you need to do is mention them, like Flight Chops does. Then there's Patreon. There's YouTube Red exclusives. There's iTunes. All these folks who cry about how their ad revenue stream is drying up need to adapt instead of crying about it. Other folks are doing many different things, there's no reason I know why you can't too.

I did not understand spreadsheets well.

As many people know, it's income tax reporting time in the US. As I was filling out my tax forms (fill-in PDFs primarly), there are some simple calculations that, in the past, I used a calculator (either a discrete device or a computer "desktop accessory" equivalent) to do these simple maths problems. I don't trust myself to get all the digits exactly correct. The thing about fill-in tax forms is, the dollars and cents are separate form in order to facilitate copying/pasting (to eliminate keying errors), the amounts must be "decomposed" into the integer part and the decimal part. Having started programming way back in the '80s in BASIC, I wanted to use INT(), figuring regardless, it just chops off any decimal part. Not so fast, boss. It turns out the documented behavior is always to "round" down, meaning INT(-8.2) is -9, not -8. (Yes, I did have negative numbers, after a subtraction.) Thus, I have found out the most correct incantation for let's say cell A22 seems to be something like =FLOOR(A22, SIGN(A22), 1). A little refresher for the unfamiliar: it's FLOOR(the number, rounding multiple, a "mode" which is basically "rounding direction"). This was a real eye-opener. The second value has to be adjusted for whether the first value is positive or negative (hence the SIGN()), and could be something like "5" to round to the nearest multiple of 5. If the signum of the first argument does not match the signum of the second, an error is indicated. Not only this, but there are some notes in the LibreOffice documentation which caution about exporting to different versions of Microsoft Excel, whether they'll properly have this function, and suggesting different functions depending on the target Excel version ( or ).

So, taking our "A22" example, I came up with an A23 of "=FLOOR(A22, SIGN(A22), 1)" and an A24 of "=(A22-A23)*100" (because I knew I'd always have exactly 2 decimal places, because it's US money). It's got me wondering why this is so complicated that this is the documented behavior. I would think FLOOR() would always go down, as well as CEILING() always going up, regardless of signum, and INT() would just chop off the decimal part.

Mr. Limbaugh: You've been saying all day today that an employee pays the entirety of taxes. The employee has no money to pay these taxes, that's why the person is working. You occasionally throw in some sort of language that the employer is paying, but I disagree with you; the employer is paying it all. It's not like it's handed to the employee, and then the employee is responsible for paying it all. The employer pays 100% of it. You always tell us "follow the money," so I see money flowing from employer to government(s), not touching employee "hands" at all.

The new Google signin

As promised for a few weeks, Google has changed its signin pages. Of course, it really didn't need a redesign, it was fine as it was. Now it's more chock full of slidey, zoomey, flippy "goodness." (Yech!)

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This pair of jokes is great. I have to wonder, for the joke writers, at least as presented, why the pilots are both women. Must be that men are prototypical for getting lost and refusing to ask ANYONE for directions (except for MAYBE Siri :-) ).

The first one I think I first heard Tom read on "Car Talk."

The second one is somewhat intriguing. It mentions searching with Google. The hits I visited variously insisted the balloon pilot is the Democrat or is the Replublican, and some mention Obama specifically. For anyone who knows me fairly well, they would know that I would more likely tell it like at this link, although it looks like slightly more of them have the sailor as the Democrat.

Note to self: never be drinking anything while Rush Limbaugh is commenting on tech. I nearly sent myself into a coughing fit because I was drinking some iced tea. He says because the new Samsung phone has Android, it (paraphrasing) has no ecosystem, doesn't get updates, doesn't look modern, and a whole bunch of like stuff. (I now see an exact transcript from the program on his site, here: ) "...and the problem with Android is there’s no eco-system. It’s not… It’s fragmented. There aren’t any software updates. There’s no way to keep the operating system modern."

He needs to dig the fruit out of his eyes so he can see clearly.

The market share for Android vs Apple is not even close, at ~ 66% Android to ~ 30% iOS in Feb. ( I found another article comparing to just Samsung, and it's much the same story for sales, at least for Aug of last year, ~13% Apple to ~22% Samsung ( ).

If "there was no ecosystem," there's no way Android would be as popular as it is...period. Not having software updates is only partially a myth. It gets updates, but of course there are more steps in the chain, from Google to Samsung to the carriers, so they might arrive more slowly, but there are updates.

If you change what you're looking for, you'll change what you see.

--Riaz Patel

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Oh, how technology marches on. 20 megs is "nothing" these days, more like 20 gigs would be above average. 1.2 gigs in a HDD most likely wouldn't even hold the OS these days. 35 inches for a monitor is still fairly large, although 27 is somewhat common.
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