Thursday, December 29, 2016

More Evangelism


A segue from Kenneth's atoms' rotations, patterns no doubt studied in Group Theory (not a physical science), would be to Quaternions, a mathematical device used to drive spatial transformations by iteration, much as rotation matrices get used.

A rotation matrix, recall, is an XY array of numbers set to "multiply" (__matmul__ in Python) with another matrix after it.  They don't necessarily commute (switched around, you get a different answer).  That "other matrix" may also be a target vector, where the rotation matrix is "pre-loaded" with just the right numbers to re-point it in a different direction.

A quaternion is a vector on steroids with more moving parts.  They'll multiply, much as complex numbers do in a plane (a flat surface), and thereby "spin" or "rotate" all the ways an avatar would need to, in a computer game.  They'll get the same work done as rotation matrices, but perhaps in a more elegant manner, using fewer lines of code?

These were the early days of the World Wide Web (1990s) and I'm chugging along reading about how game engines get built, and I find out some game-makers are using Quaternions to power their physics engines, and claiming to get faster frame rates, smoother performance, as a consequence.  "That's cool", I'm thinking, "as now I'll have running source code versions."

I like to "make math" not just read about it, and coding languages let me do that. Scott Gray, my future boss, had come to a similar conclusion using Mathematica (or Wolfram Language): some people learn better when they get to "make" or do "hands-on".

In this chapter, when the Web was young, the Java applet, embedded in your browser, run by the Java engine you'd have downloaded, was expected to be the king of the hill on the client side.  JavaScript, in contrast, was hardly taken seriously.  People would monkey around with it waiting for Java to assume its throne, but it never did.  JavaScript ended up taking a lot more responsibility.

The technology is still out there and serviceable though.  Java remains very important, even if the applet genre didn't take off.  Ahead of its time?  Remember a "headless browser" is just another thick client on your platform, and many of your smartphones are JVM devices, the ARM architecture having a native mode for its bytecodes.  I'm glad we have lots of talented coders ready to embrace those skills with open arms.  Python and Java are more synergetic than pitted against one another.

This other essay, which I'd tweeted about earlier, embeds the same Java applet, the quaternions cube, but is really more about the Python code I was then developing, to get on with my work in curriculum writing.  I ended up with a four-part series.

Now remember not to confuse "quaternions" with "quadrays" (same "qua" or "kwah" sound). The "quadays" are the four vectors from (0, 0, 0, 0) with the topology of a methane molecule (a central Carbon and four Hydrogens).  Linear combinations of these four vectors reach (span) all surrounding space with unique, canonical, non-negative four-tuple addresses. Rotation matrices apply. A variant addressing scheme balances negatives with positives in "sum to zero" format.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Design Science

from the mind of Kenneth Snelson

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rogue One (movie review)

Spoiler alert:  no spoilers.  I'm not even going to talk about the film, much beyond agreeing with Alexia, who confirmed at the Hanukkah party, that it's certainly worth seeing, especially if already invested, time-wise.  Why not, right?

Instead of talking about the film, a great on-ramp if you're just coming into the series, its intent really, in addition to pleasing die-hard fans, I'm going to mount a soap box and make a point.

The point being:  if you want that ostensibly zero-gravity city you keep making movies about, with all these autonomous vehicles moving in every dimension, please reconsider beneath the ocean surface as the more readily accessible habitat for such cities to happen, versus the empty vacuum of space.

Yes, I know the pressures get high and we would worry about catastrophic ruptures, yet outer space, with its space junk and other mishaps, is likewise hostile.  Implosion and explosion are both violent.

With buoyancy compensating weights, moving around under the ocean as an affordable option to orbiting space-stations.  I'm not saying it's either / or, either, just I think humans have a lot more ahead of them on this planet than these landlubber civilizations of today.  Or could have, if they stick around, don't wimp out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Library Science

My title is partly owing to where I'm posting this from: the Multnomah County Library.  Multnomahns are proud of their library system, much as Muscovites are proud of their subway (not that New Yorkers are not also, and Londoners of their tube).

These centrally located, downtown library facilities border on being grand without going over the line to grandiose.

Portland is a Pacific Rim capital at least (taking "capital" to mean "important terminus" or "destination"), so having carvings and sculptures going on is not "over the top".

Just checking the shelves under Computers (in the same room as Military, Social Issues, Crime, Law and Economics) I notice only a few Python titles, many more on PHP.  However that's not a good test of the extent of the collection.  For that information, one would consult the card catalog.

Finding only a few Python books on the shelves could be a sign that most are checked out, by people learning to code.  That's a good sign, not a cause for concern.

I was here yesterday as well, as the company I'm working for knows booking rooms in a public library facility, for meetings, is accepted use.

I checked out three books then:  two on statistics and probability, and one a history of Russians spying in America, given that's a hot topic in the headlines these days. However it focuses on a different, non-21st Century time frame.

The allegations in the news after the 2016 US presidential election are not so much that Russian spies had to come to the homeland to try tipping the election, meeting surreptitiously in parking lots or anything so surreal.  That kind of operation would have been more characteristic of the Reagan Era, per the popular TV show with that premise.  Rather, given Cyberia, the Russians might have given a green light to some mole within the DNC to release secrets to Wikileaks.

However disaffected party insiders might not need any prompting from a foreign power to serve as whistle blowers, so the accusations impress many as circumstantial to say the least.  Then we had those incidents of phishing, which spread well beyond the DNC.

The book I checked out was about spies a long time ago, though published in 2009. I don't have the title in front of me because I was concerned the library detection equipment might not distinguish between checked in and checked out, but of course it does, as I confirmed with the info desk.

One of the co-authors wrote The Haunted Wood, that much I know.  OK, that's enough info to figure it outSpies, the Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (ISBN-13: 978-0300123906).

Over the years, I've spent a lot of time browsing tomes in this Dewey Decimal section, reading books by or about spies.  I wouldn't say it's an obsession, as it maybe gets to be for some people.  One learns a lot from others' experience, understanding in advance these authors often have an agenda and spin their stories to the advantage of this or that team.  Same with movies.

Speaking of Python, a literal python bit me this morning, though it was entirely my fault.  I was handling the python's food and my finger got between me and it.  When there's no confusion, the python lets me handle it without a fight.  I'm way out of its league as potential prey, it's smart enough to know the difference.  My finger however, appears mouse-like.

Given the DNC is not officially part of the US government, extending any government protections to its servers, extreme vetting its personnel etc., would not be a job for the USG.  The USG needs to stay focused on what's properly its purview.  CBS News says the Pentagon needed to upgrade its secondary communications systems recently, and we learned earlier the CIA director might have been using AOL for something. These deficiencies are of the kind most appropriately addressed.

I don't see off hand why the the FBI needs to protect the DNC and/or GOP in some particular way, any more than it protects the Rotary Club or Boy Scouts of America.  In other words, the FBI should focus on protecting the vital organs of government, and then extend advice and training to the general public as a whole.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016



I poured a lot of hours into my free on-line Oregon Curriculum Network resources over the years.

I learned how to configure CGI scripts to run, meaning an URL like:

...actually runs Python on the server.

In this case, py2html.cgi is something I grabbed for free, on-line, authored by Marc-Andre Lemberg of (Public License) and making use of Just van Rossum's PyFontify (Just is GvR's bro).

All this stopped working awhile back.  I wasn't too worried about it, as anyone wanting to see the source code in whatever target file still could.  py2html.cgi simply colorizes Python code while creating HTML, making it pretty to look at, but not what you'd cut and paste.

However it finally got to me that this feature was broken.  I wanted to fix it!

I think I must've tried fixing it before.  The permissions were off, too liberal.  I needed to chmod 711 *.cgi within the ssh shell.  That fixed some other simpler scripts right away, telling me I was on the right track.

But I'd still get a 500 error code from py2html.cgi.  Why?

Fortunately I could run this script directly, on the server, no CGI mode required and from doing that learned I had some Windows line endings corrupting the code -- plus another typo revealed in vim, a wayward backslash. The Linux shell complained of a python^M in the #! (shebang) line.

After the necessary dos2unix repair, which my provider has on tap, everything worked, I'm happy to say.

I pay money to keep these websites alive.  I was hoping to get more traction with the core essentials of Bucky Fuller's Synergetics as I understood them.  I've been on this track for a long time.

Unfortunately for me (and I'd argue for many others besides me), the ambient culture has not expressed much interest in such projects and the Fuller stuff has mostly fallen by the wayside.

A niche subculture keeps it going.

I mostly leave Synergetics on the Web unchanged (I added to the list of dome vendors last night, another adventure in oiling some rusty joints, dusting off old skills).  I think of it as part of the World Game Museum.

Monday, December 12, 2016

ToonTown Revisited

Oregon Historical Society

By "ToonTown" I mean Portland, Oregon. That's a meme in these blogs, many times visited.

In my futuristic mode, more utopian, the American Transcendentalists scattered about town storyboard their technical animations, around such as A & B, T & E and S modules, drawing from work more like my Heuristics for Teachers on Wikieducator.

However yesterday was past-ward looking.

Glenn and I hopped a 14 to the Oregon Historical Society building.  Admission to the three story museum is currently free to Multnomahns, just show some ID. That's to thank us for voting in a special tax to keep them funded, I forget which measure (not 97 obviously, which was defeated).

Gus Frederick has a full time job, however he's been pouring research hours into studying the life and times of Homer Davenport, as well as curating and republishing many of his cartoons, in annotated form.  In 2016, readers won't remember the contextualizing stories, so Gus provides a narrative.

Homer was a native of Silverton, Oregon, where Gus currently resides; he's from Waldo Hills originally, just four miles away. He's currently on the Silverton planning commission, and has a long track record of civic service.

Gus knows me through Wanderers, a group that's been meeting in Linus Pauling's boyhood home. We've taken in earlier versions of his talk, however an OHS presentation, complete with a splendid Comic Book City exhibit, has got to be the peak in some arc.

We enjoyed Dead Guy (the beer) at Rogue Nation (the brewery) afterwards. Gus introduce Mr. Stockton and I to his friend Jim Whitty (a Celtic name).  There's even an apocryphal story suggesting why Homer might actually be the dead guy referenced.

Homer was a darling of Hearst's, eventually, a media mogul with presidential aspirations whom Gus compared to Steve Jobs for his dynamism and ambition.  Homer came to draw for Hearst's papers by a circuitous route which Gus knows in detail.

He'd started out on the left coast, with San Francisco based papers.  In his old age he'd return to the San Diego area for a more retired life amidst theosophists. He brought the horses with him, over his wife's objections at the time (they had separated, she was contesting title).

Prior to retirement, having made a name for himself, a big one, he was able to travel about in the lecture circuit, a peer of Mark Twain's (they shared the same producer).  People avidly consumed lectures in those days, pre-television, pre-movies. Homer would draw as he lectured.

William McKinley was becoming president in an earlier chapter, and Homer, now based in New York City, satirized him as the smaller of two men in an ongoing melodrama. "Dollar Signs Hanna" represented the Trusts (corporations) in the face of the little guy, a polarizing axis around which US politics still turns to this day. Teddy Roosevelt was McKinley's veep.

However the popularity of those mocking cartoons was short lived as McKinley was assassinated in office.  From
"Uncle Joe" Cannon, later Speaker of the House, once said that McKinley kept his ear so close to the ground that it was full of grasshoppers. When McKinley was undecided what to do about Spanish possessions other than Cuba, he toured the country and detected an imperialist sentiment. Thus the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Teddy Roosevelt took over, and although Homer had somewhat ridiculed him early on, for bringing some hunting trophies into the White House (Hearst was an animal lover and didn't like Teddy's ethics on that score), Homer and Teddy ended up getting along famously.  Both were extremely adventurous, which probably helps account for their affinity.

Homer Davenport was a horse fanatic or at least decided to become one when he finally had the acreage, in Morris Plain, New Jersey, and the means plus connections. He asked his friend Teddy for a favor, an introduction to Syrians who might hook him up with Arabian stallions (Syria was then part of the Ottoman Empire).

Having come highly recommended by the White House, Davenport was well received in Aleppo, and his seriousness about the horses ascertained to be sincere.  A caretaker came along with the deal, another story line.

The Davenport breed is still husbanded to this day, and the part of Mr. Ed, the talking horse of TV fame, was played by Bamboo Harvester, who traces directly back to the Arabians on one side.  Yes, like Steve Jobs, Mr. Ed was part Syrian.

I'm just scratching the surface of all of what Gus covered.  Studying history through the lens of political cartoons is informative.

Gus helped organize a whole floor of the museum in order to feature comic talents from this State.  Matt Groening's material (Simpsons etc.) is conspicuous by its absence -- too busy in this iteration.  Bill Plympton, Callahan, Basil Wolveton, Arthur Craven, Carl Barks and others, fill the vista with their works.  I hope this exhibit sparks many like it.  Lots for kids.  Interactive.

In the gift shop I found the Boilerplate literature, which reminds me of the animated fantasy Code Guardian, except that Boilerplate is retroactively placed in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. He's a robot, and a relatively recently invented character.

I'd like to have see Gus's talk on Youtube sometime.  He deserves a grant to pull together a full-fledged documentary.  I've left so much out of this hyper-abbreviated retelling.  Gus's actual talk was two hours worth of material, and richly insightful into what we today call the Gilded Age.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Sampling Python Tutorials

We're not exactly snowed in here, but it's nevertheless a slow day, with lots of melting ice.  Lots of Portlanders are on Facebook today.

I'm on that, and Youtube as well, plus I'm watching a DVD movie, Varian's War, in the living room in segments.  I'm letting that room run cold, and cocooning in other places.

Given my work as a Python teacher, I like to see what other teachers do when covering the same topics I do.  The collections.namedtuple type for example, I use that a lot, for Elements (as in atoms), within vectors (XYZ and quadray).

I also create Dog and Cat subclasses of Mammal, and use Unicode chess and playing card codepoints. I'm only just now getting around to Emoji. The overloading operators video gave me some clues.

Provided you're not struggling to read small type, neither of these are as uphill as say a David Beazely video.  We want a varied diet, sometimes peanuts, sometimes camel curry (just kidding, never tried it).

Printing Emoji on Mac OSX

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

At Berkeley (movie review)

Campus Life

I wasn't sure what to expect when grabbing this DVD, along with the Okinawa one, at Movie Madness. I thought maybe I'd get a trip down memory lane to scenes of student protests in the face of shows of state authority.  There's little if any archival footage of that variety.  The film is tightly focused on the present.

The central theme is the university's mission, to nurture California's public, which includes people from all walks of life, in the face of where the money is coming from to sustain operations.  The State of California has not kept up with Berkeley's explosive growth and no longer provides upwards of 40% of the funds.  The research side of the business has been fueling more of the budget, but comes with its own set of priorities.

The filmmaker's approach is to have students share directly, to each other, in class, and for the camera, regarding public policy, while having administrators do the same, in meetings.  Lets hear the voices of Berkeley as it figures out, as an institution, how best to roll forward.

From the student point of view, tuition has become an increasing chunk of change, with financial aid yielding student loans and scholarships.  Tuition is no longer free to qualified residents, as it is in some developing countries.

In fairness to the State of California, other outlets exist for spreading opportunity outside of funding a state university system.  Professional development, on the job training, as well as re-training, give people a boost, sometimes in a more focused way than do giant universities.

Students do stage a protest / walkout in this film, taking over the library.  This is one of the ways people make change happen, by staging events showcasing the passion and energy behind some cause or demand.  The general public understands "ceding to demands" and so the narrative moves forward.

Watching this back-to-back with Okinawa: The Afterburn was interesting, as a segment of the film focused on vets coming into the university system from the base system.  They come in with higher rank, further ahead than freshmen, and like some other ethnic minorities find themselves under the gun to perform in ways they've not had to before.  The challenge comes down more to the individual than to one's company or battalion.  Some sense an existential threat, others discover community in other vets.

How to make learning life-long, as well as on-line is the challenge of the 21st Century.  We need to see the base system (the military) as an educational endeavor, competing for public funding and attention with public universities, if we wish to see the greater public policy picture.  None of the discourse in this film is that zoomed out.  Base network military socialism, governed by a top-down command structure, is not intended to be democratic, though may coexist with democracies at least in theory (the USA was such an experiment).

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Radical Islam

Many Islamaphobic types (not what they call themselves necessarily) insist we use the word "radical" to describe the unabomber type terrorism-minded, not understanding our wish to keep the positive spin on "radical" we've always had ("wow, that's rad").

Radical Islam, or  √Islam for short, is more connected with Al Jabr (algebra - الجبر) and mosque design, wherein various roots of things express themselves in geometrical patterns.  √Christianity is also a positive.

Fundamentalist Islam is the type that clings to the false (phony) promises of various Imams regarding their own legitimacy and authority.  Christianity has its fundies too.  They tend to take a violent, extremist line, often involving some kind of End Times.

"Radical" is used by "the middle" (as in Middle Way) not just by extreme polarizers.  Accepting a positive spin on "radical" may seem politically incorrect to some ears.  Get used to it?  Do some homework, even a few math problems maybe?

Store Front

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Wonky Wall Street

The Wall Street Journal got a hold of this ancient Dymaxion Car prototype, and panned it.  So much for all that dymaxion crap right?  Don't forget the map.

Norman Foster, on the other hand, is less a cheapskate and built a brand new one from scratch, according to the original conception.  Believe it or not, it handles much better.

We talked about Dymaxion Cars at Wanderers on Tuesday.  I noticed some at the table had no clue what they were talking about -- not unusual in that setting.

Wall Street / LAWCAP has long disparaged Bucky by various memes, as chronicled in these blogs.  These infantile rants tend to postpone a day of reckoning another day our two.

Shareholders carry the burden of their own misguided ignorance.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

TG 2016

TG 2016

Our Scandinavian branch of the family, which forks back to the Hancocks, historic hosts of our Fourth of July gatherings, wisely switched the main meal for this holiday season to Friday, versus the traditional Thursday, meaning no battling of major traffic, such as we've experienced on previous Thanksgivings.

The Hancocks don't host TG, doing heavy lifting on the 4th. They have a fifth wheel (trailer) and the freedom to visit others, and came down by train with Bill Lightfoot shortly before Carol's shift to southern latitudes. The descendants of my great aunt Elsie tend to run this show, the torch having passed to Elsie's grand daughters through Eveyln: Mary and Alice.

On Thanksgiving itself, I got to see Fantastic Beasts..., the newest JK Rowling movie, with Alexia, already Dawn's daughter when we met.  Carol (mom) and I joined Alexia for Mongolian Grill in Beaverton some days before.  I ended up at Patrick's, per my movie review.

Maybe I just lucked out, but the I-5 / Hwy-302 lane to Port Orchard and back was really easy and smooth, about 150 miles each way. Given I was running early going north, I pulled over and sat in a parking lot, the perfect time to get a call from Maureen.

I was privilege to tour Howard and Wilma's equipment museum, and reconnect with my extended family. Lee was down from Alaska, joining his sister Carol and husband Ken.  Howard is one of Evelyn's boys, now the family patriarch. 

Howard's brother Bill is the historian who wrote about the pre WWI submarine industry that grew up here in the Pacific Northwest. Boeing is big around here too, as I've often mentioned.

This side of my family is very practical and handy with equipment.  These are what we today call "Makers" in a broad sense.  Lots of mining experience.  Rock and gravel.

We were able to summon Tara by "spirit phone" (smartphone) from her faraway digs.

Next I get to meet with Les and Elise again, before they head north.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Work Day

I'm in studio tonight, broadcasting closed circuit.  No this is not OTT with Kaltura, though I am talking about that with a Guild guy (PDX Code Guild, for those just tuning in).

I'm a teacher by night, in a night school, of the Python computer language. Students hussle home, or connect by Bluetooth from their cars, meaning no texting, no staring at the screen.  The audio channel is better than no channel, if I do say so myself.

I've been working all day however, doing marketing for the DSR (design science revolution) as I've been doing for decades, all through the GNU / EFF years, up through OST and USDLA.  Sometimes I tweet, other times I add to Facebook.

Then I served as a chauffeur. Back when I used to write custom computer applications, I designed a county-wide system of ride dispatching, pre-uber, likewise with centralized reimbursement to the drivers, on a mileage basis.

We did a brisk business, Clackamas County and I, with cigarette tax support.  My server-side code faced the dispatchers in their cubicles as no smartphones were yet on the market.  Riders mostly booked routine rides going out a few weeks, adding the occasional doctor trip.

Nowadays I still drive, dispatching myself when I have to.  We did a hospital today, one in the Providence system.  I used to write code for their St. Vincent's operating room theaters, under the supervision of their world class cardiology team.  We served the cath labs too.  CORIS and CLAIR (those were two of the applications I wrote).  Memories...

Tonight in my pep talk portion, I'm going to remind students that programming is hard, meaning it's not something one learns once and for all really quickly, so much as one gains in proficiency.

Computer programming is more like composing music than playing it however, in that real time coordination only need be extended so far, to the clerical level one might say.  Guitar playing, like figure skating and hockey playing, take a different form of concentration, and those take time to learn too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Indian Point (movie review)

Risky Business

The Indian Point reactor issue is really heating up again in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, still unfolding.  Do the good folks in Iran have evacuation plans also?  I'm as interested in plants outside North America, when it comes to making the planet unlivable for some, if not all.  The US has no realistic evacuation plans in many cases.

There's a lot of reducing to soap opera, where the NRC is concerned (NRC = Nuclear Regulatory Commission).  The opening says we're going to need a lot of energy, but little analysis is shared regarding how exactly closing these plants would affect the price and supply of electrical power.  Saying "the price would go up" isn't saying much.

In other words, as viewers, we're not privy to the relevant computations measuring risk versus loss versus benefits.  Would thousands die in the cold of winter owing to lack of heat?  What is the load of space heaters, AC powered?  Where is the SimCity for policy-minded adults?  Not available?  I didn't think so.  Who has the mandate to develop such a thing?  Not the NRC.

The relicensing system is designed to encourage the power plants to keep running.  The public, for its part, is lectured it has no reasonable alternatives.  Is that true?  Who knows.  We're too busy with soap operas and witch hunts to really do much serious engineering.  WDC is about politics, not science, but we knew that.

The filmmakers have really good access, to people and to internals.  The nuclear industry says it's on the side of reducing greenhouse gases.  Solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear all go together as contributing less to global warming than combustion.  What about new designs and why do we never discuss nuclear submarines?

The conversation in the mass media is too dumbed down to really mean much.  Documentaries such as this one certainly help.  We need to go a lot deeper, since as a species we seem committed to this technology, at all costs.  The backup of spent toxic fuels around the country is considerable.  The plan to dispose of same is somewhat broken.  Remember the kitty litter.

The point that these plants were conceived of sixty years ago, and so are far from state of the art, or what the state of the art could be, is more shareable around Oregon, at OSU in particular.  People on that campus freely explore the idea of closing all the plants we have now, without saying no to better designs in the future, when greater intelligence is available.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Protest Street (the game)

Protest Street provides an on-line virtual environment, cloud based, where protestors are free to design their avatars, give them signs, enroll them in teach-ins, and have them chant slogans.

Other players, or those with multiple accounts, will control city functions to accommodate the protestors, and to flag violations, according to whatever rules of the road.  If you want to add tear gas, rubber bullets etc., you may have to pay extra.  The jail module might be outsourced as a whole other game.

Protest Street is vaporware at the moment.  If you get it Kickstarted, you'll likely find yourself reading this as background, and maybe even starting a protest regarding how I was not officially credited sufficiently -- wouldn't be the first time my good ideas fueled a success story.

That the action be authentically crowd-sourced is important, yet the hardest part to verify unless people, celebrities even, come forward with their testimony.  "Yes, that was me at that protest last Friday" -- you can boast to your friends.

For protests to be newsworthy, we won't just want the cartoon, but some of the names and identities behind them.  If everyone plays anonymously, that will to some extent defeat the purpose.

Having a track record, like an athlete has, is what enables you to rise on various totem poles, in various narrative and computed accounts.  Keep at it, and you'll get to be a protest organizer someday.

The difference between an actual Second Life like virtual space and an ordinary ranters list, is the bandwidth and the ability to stage a protest in a choice of Gothams.

The difference between a virtual protest and a real one, in the street, are numerous but boil down to cost, convenience and safety.

Realism may not always be a goal.  Protests may be organized for esoteric reasons, with signs like "Aristotle was right, remember the MITE!" -- what's that all about?

The VR version will be the most immersive of course. Mapping your own gestures to those of your avatar makes your whole body more of a mouse.  Not everyone prefers to puppet their avatar in that mode.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Made in the USA

Looking Back

Memorandum:  advice to importers of Made in the USA goods and services.

I predict a growth in USA studies in schools abroad, following the surprise election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

Children might see something about ISS (the International Space Station) and conclude the US, like Russia and China, is living in some Space Age, with the best minds in aerospace pioneering our lifestyles of tomorrow (ala EPCOT).

That's only partly true.

Children are also facing a young nation that narrowly avoided fragmentation in a bloody Civil War that has continued to have repercussions.

Talk about the Shia and Sunni all you like, in the US you'll find any number of ethnic clashes, as well as synergies, some of which have all but ended the Federation, for better or for worse.

Ongoing Prohibition aka the Drug Wars have gone global as well.  The US fights itself on many levels.  As children find themselves caught up in all this karma, they'll naturally want to know more.

Carol asked me to screen the above award-winning movie, Freedom Riders as a part of the Blue House documentary viewing program, an institution of longstanding.  We screened a bio of Oppenheimer, chief architect of the Manhattan Project, before this.

Does your house, camp ground, or military base offer much history?  What kind of documentaries are you able to access, and from what devices?

I walked in and out of the living room, hearing more than I saw as I cleaned up in the kitchen.  This wasn't my first or last documentary on the topic of seeking a new equilibrium in lifestyles and workflows. Students of GST tend to focus on such struggles, learning from the past, not ignoring it.

I'm not saying the US is the only nation that cannot contain its warring to within its own borders.  Many nations carry out proxy battles overseas, far away from a domestic audience, at least geographically.

However, as the world turns, it gets smaller, with cell phones now penetrating to every corner. The Art of War (ala Sun Tzu) is likewise changing, becoming less outward for those most able to follow the action, on Twitter and so on.

Although I didn't make it to the downtown library today, I was close and thought hard about going, checking my wallet for my card.  I value the access I get from my information sources.

Each one of us is an investigative journalist, not because we're paid to do that in most cases, but because it pays to do homework, research.  Find a diet you like and stick with it.  Fiction has its place for sure.

The conceptual entity known as "the US" does contain many seeds of a positive nature, worth protecting, nurturing, even planting and cultivating, as does the EU and UK, obviously.

Look for ways to escape "strings attached" that might be more than you bargained for.  Keep testing for quality, when it comes to selectively importing, from any vendor really.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trolls (movie review)

Carol (mom, 87) and I (58) thought today was Armistice Day.  I'd already blogged a Vets memo, and knew the 11th was it, but was too lazy to second guess mom.  Pioneer Courthouse Square was getting ready to accept the annual Christmas tree.  No bell ringing today.

We ending up at Yard House for lunch.  We split a "trump tower" of onion rings, though neither of us had voted for the guy.  Onion soup.  Wisconsin cheese curds.  I had a couple IPAs (RPM by Boneyard).

Hey, the Election has been exhausting and I worked hard at my teaching job last night.  The school kids are getting a bunch of days off this week too.  Why not see Trolls?

The film was funnier than I expected it to be, mainly because of the brain-wipe we get as it overdubs old tracks with the new imagery.  Yellow Submarine mixes with Cinderella a bit.

The Blue Meanie Grinches (not what they're called) make the classic mistake of all literalists, especially cannibals, in thinking that literally eating those with the qualities you admire or crave, will endow you with those qualities.  I think some people call it "mass".

In any case, the trolls are like the angels, or the little people of the forest, all glittery and child-like, upbeat about life, whereas the grinches are like ordinary folk, down and miserable, more beaten, like muggles. They're jealous of the glitterati.

The chief cook for Trollstice, the annual partaking of trolls, is the arch villain whereas we develop more empathy for the spoiled Brat King.  The chief cook gets her fate with a traitor troll and minion, one of those slimy self-help guys.  Empathy only goes so far.

That's the plot, but the musical overlay is what gives these bones flesh, along with the subplots and strong characterizations.

Trolls dance, hug and sing in some endless loop anyway, so their breaking into song is hardly as contrived as when Buffy does it.

Sounds of Silence will never be the same.

Monday, November 07, 2016

True Stories

The Multnomah Meeting's Peace & Social Concerns Committee arranged for this event.

We had a potluck downstairs, then adjourned to the upstairs worship room for singing and stories told by Carol Urner, my mom, about her life.

Lew Scholl recorded the whole thing on his cell phone, picking up audio over the meetinghouse sound system.  Rhys sat to Carol's right to help keep her on track.  I took pictures.

Carol is currently preparing for her move south to Whittier where she lives with my sister Julie.  Last night she took me out to Japanese food at Maru.  We had the new biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, a chief topic of conversation.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Cubs Win!

November 2nd

I don't want this momentous sporting milestone to whiz by completely without comment, especially in light of my authentic sports bar experience, at Claudia's, frequented by Cubs fans.

Indeed, Deke and I, at Hair of the Dog a few days earlier, had recommended this place to an out-of-towner, as a major destination sports bar in our neighborhood.

All that being said, I'd planned with my house guest David Koski to go to Tom's, another sports bar I like.  That was mainly to avoid what I expected would be hopelessly crowded conditions, and before I learned Patrick was heading to Claudia's uber-early to save seats.

We let him save us two, and propitiously met up with Diane, a true Chicagoan, heading the same way.

Patrick did a seriously good job saving all those seats as the place was indeed really packed.  I'm sure Tom's was packed too.  The waitress at breakfast that morning had advised us to get there early.

I won't recite the whole game blow by blow, just underline that I appreciated the spirit.

The guy right in front of me would shout for the Indians.  No harm came to him, despite the bar's bias.  This is sports for gosh sakes.  People root for both teams, obviously.  Having fans makes it fun.

Koski of Minnesota was originally lukewarm about either team but we decided to find the Cleveland mascot offensive just to have some more skin in the game.  Of course we knew it'd be momentous, for the Cubs to win, in the face of such a strong belief the team was fated to always lose.

Mark Twain was around to see their last victory (1908) and that seems more than one Haley's comet cycle back.

The game was amazing, with its ups and downs.  The crowd went wild.

Anyway, I said a lot more on Facebook, and even uploaded a short video from my phone, from the event as it happened.

Crowd at Claudia's

Friday, November 04, 2016

From a Vet

Spaceships Earth

[ from my inbox ]

Almost a hundred years ago, the world celebrated peace as a universal principle. The first World War had just ended and nations mourning their dead collectively called for an end to all wars. Armistice Day was born and was designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated."

After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism.

Veterans For Peace has taken the lead in lifting up the original intention of November 11th as a day for peace. As veterans, we know that a day that celebrates peace, not war, is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans. We want generations after us to never know the destruction war has wrought on people and the earth.

Veterans For Peace is calling on everyone to stand up for peace this Armistice Day. More than ever, the world faces a critical moment. Tensions are heightened around the world and the U.S. is engaged militarily in multiple countries, without an end in sight. Here at home we have seen the increasing militarization of our police forces and brutal crackdowns on dissent and people’s uprisings against state power. This year, with a political arena fueled by hate and fear, the conversation of peace was missing from almost every interaction. It is as urgent as ever to ring the bells for peace. We must press our government to end reckless military interventions that endanger the entire world. We must build a culture of peace.

This Armistice Day, Veterans For Peace calls on the U.S. public to say no to more war and to demand justice and peace, at home and abroad. We know Peace is Possible and call for an end to all oppressive and violent policies, and for equality for all people.

S. Jenika
Veterans For Peace Chapter 72
"Promoting a Consciousness of Peace"

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Wanderers 2016.11.1

At Wanderers, November 1, 2016

David Koski is here in town so it makes sense he would be speaking at Wanderers.  We have an established affinity for geometry.  We did the Mt. Tabor thing this morning, ascending to its summit.  That sounds strenuous but remember it's a tall hill.  He's from Minneapolis, not often in Portland, so I'm in tour guide mode, which I enjoy.

Yesterday we visited Cargo, a retail outlet specializing in oriental goods.  There's a large down stairs with lots of floor space.  Then we circled round through the code school (PDX Code Guild) to say hello to the Monday night Flying Circus crowd.  I had Glenn and Deke the Geek in tow, in addition to David.

Speaking of code schools, this coming Monday I'll start teaching again, my course in Python in forty hours.  That's like a radio show in some ways, or closed circuit television.  Small class size.

Glenn and David compared respected mnemonics over lunch.  They both do minimalist diagrams capturing some basic ratios and relationships. I'm talking about pure geometry, extending from surface tiling to space-filling.

For example the golden cuboid or "phi brick" has a good many embedded relationships and serves as a factory for tetrahedrons each using six of the seven edge lengths.  A brick with a 2nd root of phi edge also figures in.  David assembles shapes from an elementary set of tetrahedrons which he scales up and down in size.

I mistakenly thought the Rite, so named by Fuller, was not MITE-composed, whereas it's the 1/4 Rite, a Sommerville space-filling tetrahedron, that is not Mite-composed.  "Aristotle was right, remember the Mite" -- the shoptalk of which all-the-same tetrahedrons fill space (with no gaps).  Check Math World for more information.

David Koski

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ethnic Schools


Here's another science fiction story I likely won't have time to flesh out.  Instead of Gulen charter schools, which are under attack these days, the Gurdjieff lineage has flourished and USers find themselves surrounded by a Fourth Way "cult" or "covert network" as we say today, with its own charter schools.  People who read the Bible and like that.  The volumes I'm reading are intensely Gospel-oriented.

These charters would have self-discipline classes wherein students learned not to identify with their most negative moods, thinking every mood (or mode) was them.  Don't give your "I" to just any jester that happens to come along, in that back alley we call your mind.  Be discriminating.  Pay attention to the company you keep, within the theater of your own psyche.

Parents like it, as junior ends up seeming better adapted after awhile.  Something about a "triad" of forces and their clever resolution.  Some of the teachers espouse a "fourth way" almost like a catechism.

I can hear the phone ringing off the hook already, in the principal's office.  "What nonsense are you telling my child?"  Some anti-Christian no doubt.  Anyway, of course that's not realistic as the schools would have these brochures and other literature.  You'd know what you're getting into.  Charters are like that. Yes, they have ethnicity.

The thing about traditional public schools is they sweep that they have an ethnicity under the rug, as it's those "others" who are "diverse" whereas "we" the traditional white people or whatever, are the mainstream, so of course we're not "ethnic" in any way.  They actually seem to think that, outlandish as that sounds.

Whether or not to send junior to "that Russian school" would indeed be dinner table conversation.  I'm not saying I know what our family choice would have been.  Maybe it's the dad, looking for work as a teacher.  Would he teach math at Ouspensky Academy?  He'd want to do some homework at least, right?  What would the curriculum really look like?  The devil is in the details.

The so-called "traditional" public schools have already made civics walk the plank, along with art and music most likely, and then made off with the building as something they own.  I'm not saying any charters, however well designed, have the ability to rescue these pirates from storms of their own making.  What standards did those standardized tests embody?  We have anthropologists researching that now.  Don't tell me there was no "ethnicity" in the picture, of course there was.

The worst of any imperial legacy is this blindness to one's own subjectivity, as that's the objective world in one's mind.  Remembering oneself is out of the question because "I am the world" i.e. "reality is what I think it is." Questioning authority at that root level is like questioning God or something, simply beyond the pale, not done.  A blind spot, in other words, a mile wide and probably a mile deep (we'll never know for sure).  Some individuals manage to snap out of it.  Others, many others, seem to never escape the vortex.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

VPython Inside Jupyter Notebooks

Vpython in Jupyter Notebook

Getting Vpython working inside of Jupyter Notebooks is not as difficult as I'd surmised.

Check it out on Github.  The rendering machine at Github won't invoke an actual scene.  For that, you'll need to run the notebook locally, with Vpython installed.  I'm using Python 3.5 in this instance.

I'm doing the Oregon Curriculum Network thing (OCN), coding up Vector, Edge, and Polyhedron in the stickworks tradition.  Two tetrahedrons will do.  I haven't gone on to wire the corresponding Cube.

An Edge is defined by two vectors.  The six green cylinders displayed above are edges.  Vectors also draw themselves directly and show up in cyan.

Another Angle

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

JavaScript for Pythonistas

When serving somewhat as Guido's sidekick, for a Shuttleworth Foundation pow wow, I was fortunate to meet with Alan Kay, of Smalltalk fame.

Alan had been having back problems or something that kept him bed ridden for long periods and he'd used the time to tackle JavaScript.  He was pleasantly surprised.  He had some honest admiration for the language, as he did for Python.

He'd implemented turtle graphics as a way of building muscle knowledge.

I've learned more since then, about how LiveScript from Netscape was coming straight from Scheme, or in any case a functional programming background.  That the keyword "function" serves as lambda is clear from the start.

An object is like an instance __dict__ in Python, with methods even at the instance level, where classes never store them.

In JavaScript, a first order of business is to populate some prototype with shared methods, while continuing to isolate instance state.

If you're a Pythonista, you take for granted that the __dict__ of your type holds the methods, be these instance, class or static, while each instance has its __dict__ as well, for state, perhaps immutable state if any changes must go to some __new__ version.

That's more immutability than most OO programmers want.  Keep being the same self, just change your driver's license and bank account numbers from time to time.

That being said, immutability is a source of sanity in code.  I would never scale a vector, make it three times longer, without returning a new vector.  If your code wants to recycle the name, and keep v always pointing to "the same" object in that sense, fine.

Naming conventions signal continuity of identity if that's the best way to think about it.  The underlying object is free to return a new vector instance upon scaling or rotation, keeping vectors more like integers and strings, both immutable object types in JavaScript and Python.

The Pythonista community gives the JavaScript natives that useful second pair of eyes on OO, without requiring as much real estate as Java or C++, both of which are career paths in themselves.

Python is no toy language, just it rewards even a little study more quickly, so the JavaScript user stays busy and productive, while the Python implementation of OO concepts, clarifies the advantages such strategies might bring.

Scientists and those in need of analytic powers more generally appreciate Python for similar reasons.  "Python fits your brain" is the slogan.  For many, that's true.  The language works as expected, once you get the hang of it.  Eric Raymond (The Cathedral and the Bazaar) had found that true for him as well.

Since people in many walks of life are eager to get on with it, whatever "it" is, and not detour too deeply into some side track in computer science, it's gratifying to meet a language that meets them more than half way.

JavaScript programmers will grow into ES2015 / ES6 and ES7 more gracefully perhaps, as they more than double their overall design pattern savvy, in learning from the Pythonista perspective.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Revisiting Lambda Calc

Technical readers may consider my version of the "lambda calculus" watered down, much as the Python "little lambda", in being just the one expression, is but a pale shadow of the Great Lambda worshiped further to the north of Python Nation, were such nations to geographically exist.

OK, I've likely lost the rest of you too, so never mind.

But you've heard of "functional programming" yes?

There's this wish to say

UI = visualization (immutability )


subjectivity = interpretation (objectivity) 

-- or something like that.  The context may be as mundane as "functional CSS".

The goal is to straightforwardly image some model's state.  Take a picture of the world, or some small part of it.  Keep the model and its rendering separate, with the rendering pipeline consisting of deterministic components.

My story, in defending my use of "lambda calculus" is I'm keeping memes that belong together, together, so what's the fuss?  I'm contrasting it with "delta calculus" as a way to get traction with my would be end users.

What end users?

As you'll recall, where I'm taking my "lambda calculus" is in the Sesame Street direction (some might suggest we call it that) towards any-school's interpretation of some "computer math" pre-college.

Even oldsters as old as me, and older, will feel somewhat duty-bound to keep sharing, with other teachers if not directly with their students, about how to maybe summarize what's happening behind the scenes, succinctly and concisely.

This "computer math" includes the basics of Group and Number Theory, with a practical application in RSA, the public key cryptographic algorithm.  That's an outline of your curriculum right there, minus the spatial geometry component, the global data (big data, round data).

No, I've got nothing against Diffie-Hellman (what Ian featured at the Chicago Pycon) and I don't dictate a choice of computer language.  Use Ruby if you prefer. Try a bunch.  JavaScript is improving.

I just so happen to share about the RSA algorithm using Python, making use of the binascii.hexlify() and unhexlify functions to turn a sample phrase into a number ready to raise to a power, then raise again to get it back. My goal is to keep it simple.

In modulo arithmetic, operations tend to be circular and in RSA we keep secret what pairs with some N to make an encrypted message come back around again.  The genius is the secret never needed to leave Alice's computer for Bob to be able to send her encrypted (private) stuff.

I'm not diving into RSA in a spirit of high dudgeon, though I'm plenty aware that governments might have preferred a world wherein "we the people" did not include every little mom & pop shop.

The only reason we have a modicum of transactional security, including to some degree around cyber-monies like bitcoin, is because "computer math" is commercially oriented, not just some military secret, a weapon, as it might have been. I understand the need to protect this civilian heritage.

However I'm coming mainly from a pragmatic impulse to share a "how things work" approach to everyday tech.  If our people are to reason about the world they're in, then understanding about Bob and Alice, and "evil Eve" (to whom we owe so much as a penetration expert) is just a part of the package.

We'll also want to keep talking about tcp / ip more generally, and not just DNS (much in the news lately).  What's the issue with IPv6?  Is there a road block of some kind?

We want the journalism to stay technical, and we want to stay savvy enough to follow it.

Lets start building the necessary reading skills pretty early, using cartoons and puppets if that helps.

In many cases, we simply want to be able to follow our own stories to their logical conclusions, and not get lost in the woods because we've forgotten our lambda calculus.  How can we keep playing glass bead games if we're missing too many marbles?  Keep the puzzle pieces on the table, so that random individuals have a fighting chance of figuring stuff out.

I'm not saying every high school kid needs to tackle the Y-combinator pattern, but why not get to within striking distance?

You may still opt for the usual "delta calculus" of Newton and Leibniz, of Cauchy and Weierstrass, perhaps exclusively, perhaps in addition.  Nowadays we have this other math, this lambda calculus stuff for you too.  We offer choices.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

State of Control (movie review)

About Tibet circa 2008

I grabbed this one, along with Michael Moore's latest for Carol, because of my longstanding fascination with Tibet.  I've been right up to the border, from the Nepal side, but never tried to get in.  Our family lived in Bhutan for some years.  I've met a relative of the Dalai Lama thanks to James Lambert.  There's more.

The movie focuses on the trials and travails of two journalists trying to break into a region under lockdown, at the time of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Not surprisingly, they're harassed, as no one is fooled as to their ulterior motive, to make this documentary.  Some of the story lines stretch into 2014.

I watched this after Carol's night of storytelling at the meeting house, about her time in Southern Africa.  I'd partially overlapped with the Dalai Lama then as well.  My wife had gone to Durban for his workshop.  My family were guests of South Africa's Deputy Minister of Defense and her family.  We were in Cape Town for the Parliament of World Religions.  Long story.  Quakers and all that.

Also apropos:  after a 3rd debate between Hillary and Donald, in which cyber-attacks featured, much of North America was treated to a major Internet outage this morning, though no state was blamed (North Korea was ruled out by some report I read).  "Things" were maybe implicated, as in washing machines and elevators, behaving badly, because of malicious programming.  In the case of the debate, the Russians were implicated, whereas in this film, it's China.

The cyber-war is ongoing, with this DVD now adding its voice against censorship.  I've been wading through some Swedish and Finnish literature on the same question:  how to protect free speech, and also where is the line between free and commercial speech, by which we / they mean highly paid for propaganda?  I'm glad at least some people are focusing on these questions.

Just blacking out what's happening only amplifies the impact.  But sometimes the goal is more realistic:  to defer and provide time to process later, or as some would say "a day in court".  However most cases never come before a court, just as most crimes go unpunished in the legal sense, whereas karma never needed lawyers or judges to roll onward.

I found it telling that a star Tibetan activist and co-producer underlined the Chinese leaders were "engineers".  There's a note of respect for totalitarianism, without any endorsement thereof, but then speaking of engineering, how much is reflex-based and automatic?  To the extent we live according to a shared internalized narrative, it's like we already know our lines.  Top down, bottom up or both?

From a physics and information theory angle, I do think it'd make sense if our need to reduce entropy was getting closer to our actual ability to purge misinformation from the system.  There's an ongoing computation, or call it a puzzle in need of solving.  Stories that don't add up, that lack sense, tend to leak away their credibility more quickly in a world that makes cross-checking fast and easy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Meme Machine

Many amnesiacs are staring at their TVs in perpetual disbelief at the prevalence of genitalia in political discourse.  "When will this stop?" they ask, in a frozen moment of perplexity.

That snapshot of the shocked TV viewer has something of a Norman Rockwell flavor, as decorated by MAD Magazine. Lets remember the long slog through the Monica story on shock TV and radio just a few seasons back.  Horrific right?  A real nightmare for the poor girl.

We do scandal, then war, which is scandalous, then back to scandal, and so on.

What gets old first, the soaps, or the expressions of shocked amazement?  Aren't they but one and the same?  We call it the tabloid press.  There's a reason it sits there at supermarket checkout lanes, and as click bait at the bottom of each newspaper article.

However, lest I fall into my own trap, and register shocked outrage, that my neurons are being so expertly played, let me say again that the meme machine is well-oiled, and with a note of respect.

People get paid by the tweet I'm sure, in some industries.  Entertainment, i.e. show business, is one of those "must go on" kinds of things ("too big to fail").

The danger is less in having an Idiocracy than in allowing these soap operas to get so out of hand that we don't get any work done.

When will the US citizens of Puerto Rico be allowed to vote?  Not this cycle either?  When then?  Snore.  The TV viewers didn't come for that.  They came for more scandal out there in scapegoat land, not the nasty business of thinking through a problem and implementing a solution.

I think a counter to frenetic TV is to change channels.  Not all TV is like that.  You maybe expected I'd say "kill your television", but if you haven't yet, then that's maybe stale advice.

Youtube, which is TV on demand, is the same way. If your goal is to get something done, to get on with your life, then learn to ratchet forward. Challenge yourself with some worthy goals.  Learn. Study.  Don't just get outraged that the world is going to hell.

Don't get carried away by the swill we might call the "mass mind".

Have a mind of your own instead, it's worth the extra effort.

Meanwhile, in Mosul...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shop Talk

Last night I met with my current crop of students for the eighth time, wondering if we might be in for some weather.  Apparently the media were full of rumors of an impending tropical storm, or the tail end of one, and indeed the Pacific coast of Oregon was already taking a pounding.

Two days before, as chronicled below, we'd experienced a significant power outage in Asylum District, causing drivers, pedestrians, cyclists to mutually encounter Chavez & SE Hawthorne with no traffic signals ("the robots were dead" as a South African might put it).

However by the time class rolled around, the valley was still, just getting more rain, not unusual in October, given our rainforest ecosystem.  "Rainforest" is recognized as a single word in Wikipedia, so I'll be adding it to my spellchecker, goodbye red wavy lines.  Speaking of which, I don't like typos in my tweets and will go back and delete some for that reason alone.

What we got to, in this class on Python programming, was a second pass through both decorators and context managers, as topics, first encountered on Tuesday.  Then I ripped back the veil to reveal some of the deep mysteries behind the keyword yield, one of two still giving problems on the quiz, the other being nonlocal.

I needed this running jump to reach my goal in the final segment, before the last lab:  using a decorator from contextlib to wring a decent context manager from a generator function.

Steve Holden covered all this in his O'Reilly School curriculum, meaning I'd iterated through this material for some years.

I'm no stranger to this area, in other words, and so act as a tour guide for those venturing this deeply into the Land of the Pythonistas (sounds like Florida, doesn't it?).

Python is not the only language to sport something called "decorator syntax", basically a way to transform the behavior of callables with other callables, at design time.  It's syntactic sugar really, but really useful syntactic sugar.

I'm working with Jasand Pruski on the quadray stuff a little.  Keeping my remarks on Synergetics to thumbed SMS messages and Tweets is good discipline.  All we're missing are polyhedron emoji.

Regarding the mysteries of yield, the story got deep when the send( ) method came along, and then throw() and close().

I'm grateful to David Beazley for helping me to disentangle and distill the concept of co-routine from what could be a big mess.  That little decorator he does to "prime the pump" i.e. take us to the first (yield) ready to accept a value, is most illuminating and worth passing on.

Today I hacked on, a minimalist web application implemented in Pythonic Flask, a WSGI application.

I made the CSS a little tighter, organized the landing pages (yes, I still hand code HTML tables), and stuck a dashboard of navigation buttons across the top).  I'm deliberately using code cut and pasted from well known teaching sites, such as I'm using the the Mars.2 Release (4.5.2) Build id: 20160218-0600 version of Eclipse in an effort to stay in practice with that capable IDE.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wanderers 2016.10.12

Fall 2016

The Pauling House block and environs were enduring a power outage this morning.  Even the busy intersection twixt Chavez and Hawthorne was without signals.  Drivers and pedestrians had to play the game of round robin.

Our speaker today was Roger Paget, who has appeared previously in my blogs.  He speaks in a Chomsky-like baritone, looking back over a long history of living around the Pacific Rim, including as a translator for Indonesia's Sukarno at one point.

He reminds me of John Taylor quite a bit, another native English speaker who has developed fluency in Indonesian (one of thousands of languages used in that region).

For most of the talk, I attended to his use of the pronoun "we" and possessive "our".  He looks somewhat like a king, the way Santa Claus does, so it was easy to slip into hearing a "royal we" -- a perceptual shift I'm used to making (I focus on pronoun use a lot).

I concluded we were kings of rather different kingdoms in that my use of "we" bears only some resemblance to his.  For the most part, his kingdom sounded rather alien.  We both think of ourselves as US citizens, but differ in the details of what that entails (in terms of how we each use our respective "we").

Nevertheless we may learn from one another, as kings and queens often have.  Better to learn than simply argue.

Elizabeth Furse and Marianne Buchwalter and were among those who joined us.

I didn't participate in the discussion other than to eat some of the donut pieces Marianne brought from Blue Star.  We didn't have coffee thanks to the power outage.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Flying Circus 2016.10.10

Monitoring IP Traffic in Real Time

Tonight was brilliant I thought, with many interesting threads, plus an excellent talk by Charles CosséFlying Circus is taking off.

For those new to this blog, I'm referring to a weekly meetup at PDX Code Guild, for which Neil Raja and I have been serving as co-organizers.  We're not the Portland Python User Group, which meets elsewhere (we're smaller and stray from Python quite liberally).

Charles plugged his Raspberry Pi 2 Model B into the big screen monitor using the HDMI out, and shared both slides and working application, at that time about 75% complete.

He shared a generically useful pattern (see slides), which is to have Django, the Python web framework, talk to a suite of daemons (one or more), each monitoring some data source, and then sharing summary visualizations with a web client running JavaScript, talking to Django over AJAX, using JSON.

Django talks to the Python daemons over xml-rpc (remote procedure calls).  The daemons might monitor IP traffic in various ways.  Think of a patient's vital signs.  The heart rate, oxygenation level and so on go back to d3.js, a 2D visualization library that updates a dashboard in real time.

In this particular application, the Raspberry Pi serves as a hotspot with two Wifi connections, one for random clients, e.g. the smartphones of people there, the other connected to the school's hotspot.

The Pi is acting as a wifi enabled router in other words.  Since d3.js contains maps (as in Mercator Projection), the mere fact of logging in to the service registers as a dot in Portland, Oregon.  Then we can watch who's hogging bandwidth, other stuff.

Electron is to Chromium as XUL is to Firefox, providing a client container capable of hosting a DOM and running client side JavaScript.

Sheri, the school's director, clued me about a free course at Oregon State in permaculture, that starts on Halloween.  I signed up.  I'm interested in Biosphere 2 type experiments, or just maximizing efficiencies -- ala New Alchemy Institute -- in some Bucky dome someplace.  The campus is remote, so best if the fruits and vegetables are grown locally.

As has happened in some previous Flying Circus meetups, crypto-curriences, such as bitcoin, became a topic.  We had some people who'd one their homework.  I'm not claiming any of us were actual bitcoin miners, a technical term, but some of us knew people who are or were.  Neal and I are both working in support of Measure 97.

Pro 97

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Nuclear Summit

Here's one of mom's friends, Alice Slater, yakking with a journalist on Russia Today.

She sounds pretty sensible to me.  She makes the good point that Indian Point, not far from New York City where she lives, is itself a "dirty bomb" once hit by terrorists hell-bent on creating some kind of Fukushima situation.

RT does a good job streaming archival footage on the left panel, not getting into showing the missiles or atmospheric detonations, keeping to the theme of (non-submarine) nuke plant internals.  Slater ventures to talk about WMDs as well.

I'd probably sound more fringe in that I'm still skeptical of the conspiracy theory that Al Qaeda was behind 9-11 (Slater brings this up), which attacks just seem too sophisticated in retrospect, to have been conducted from some cave in Afghanistan.

I'm by no means alone among Friends in finding the official History Channel conspiracy theory somewhat hard to believe.  David Chandler, in our Meeting, is all over Youtube expressing his brand of skepticism. I know many Mormons think the same way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Doing Homework

I've been digesting David Beazley videos this morning, among others, once again tackling the topic of asynchronous multi-tasking in the Python computer language, by means of coroutines.

Coroutines are a new type of object in Python, a "subtype" of generator in that they use much of the same implementation code as generators.

However they're a whole different animal, are not a subclass in the Pythonic sense.  What coroutines do is surrender control back to the awaiting caller.

Coroutines ratchet forward as driven by some whip-cracking task master, cranking forward a notch at a time, perhaps awaiting on other coroutines internally.

Getting a lot of coroutines notching forward "at once" (each inching forward, then surrendering control) is what gives us the multi-tasking flavor, but it's all happening in the one thread.

The trick is knowing when to gracefully say "not ready yet" in a non-blocking manner.  Don't make the waiter stand there while you consider your order.  Let the waiter cycle back again in a few minutes (milliseconds or less).


Tuesday came off without a hitch except Carol left her favorite bright green water bottle at Providence.

Carol chatted with Wanderers about the obsolescence of outward wars.  That doesn't mean all the engineers engaged in "destructive engineering" (aka "anti-civil engineering") have retired yet of course.

Uncle Bill actually used to be a maintenance engineer for the DEW line radomes; I hadn't known that.

Uncle Bill