Amazon’s kindle-direct now has Canadian manufacturing

December 14, 2019 Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers No comments , ,

As a “kdp” author, I got an email about new Canadian manufacturing for kindle-direct orders (i.e. my Geometric Algebra book and various UofT physics and engineering class notes compilations.)

Here’s a fragment of that email:

“We’re excited to announce paperback manufacturing in Canada! This enables new features for KDP authors, including:

    • Faster shipping to your readers in Canada. Manufacturing in Canada enables FREE Two-Day Shipping for Prime Members.

Please note that, as of today, proof copies and author orders for authors in Canada will still be printed and shipped from the US.”

With the low price that I set my book prices at, paying just the US shipping for an “author proof” has been about the same as ordering a normal copy, so now there will really be no point to ordering proofs anymore.

Interesting z/OS (clang based) compiler release notes.

December 13, 2019 C/C++ development and debugging. No comments , , , ,

The release notes for the latest z/OS C/C++ compiler are interesting.  When I was at IBM they were working on “clangtana”, a clang frontend melded with the legacy TOBY backend.  This really surprised me, but was consistent with the fact that the IBM compiler guys kept saying that they were continually losing their internal funding — that project was a clever way to do more with less resources.  I think they’d made the clangtana switch for zLinux by the time I left, with AIX to follow once they had resolved some ABI incompatibility issues.  At the time, I didn’t know (nor care) about the status of that project on z/OS.

Well, years later, it looks like they’ve now switched to a clang based compiler frontend on z/OS too.  This major change appears to have a number of side effects that I can imagine will be undesirable to existing mainframe customers:

  • Compiler now requires POSIX(ON) and Unix System Services.  No more compilation using JCL.
  • Compiler support for 31-bit applications appears to be dropped (64-bit only!)
  • Support for C, FASTLINK, and OS linkage conventions has been dropped (XPLINK only.)
  • Only ibm-1047 is supported for both source and runtime character set encoding.
  • C89 support appears to have been dropped.
  • Hex floating support has been dropped.
  • No decimal floating point support.
  • SIMD support isn’t implemented.
  • Metal C support has been dropped.

i.e. if you want C++14, you have to be willing to give up a lot to get it.  They must be using an older clang, because this “new” compiler doesn’t include C++17 support.  I’m surprised that they didn’t even manage multiple character set support for this first compiler release.

It is interesting that they’ve also dropped IPA and PDF support, and that the optimization options have changed.  Does that mean that they’ve actually not only dropped the old Montana frontend, but also gutted the whole backend, switching to clang exclusively?

weird match.com identity theft?

November 29, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , ,

My gmail inbox was filled with “Like” emails from various guys this morning, and it appeared that somebody had created a new match.com profile using my gmail address:

Weirder still, the identity using my email address, was that of a woman:

I don’t understand the motivation of using my email address, since I was able to use that email address to submit a password change.  At that point, I was able to see that the profile was for somebody purporting to be an Australian.

In the time between changing that passsword to lock out the originator of this profile, and switching it to ‘not visible’, the password appears to be reset again.  I’m not sure how that would be possible given that the password change confirmation emails were going to my gmail account.

This made me wonder if match.com is populating itself with fake profiles, and they’ve now switched this one to use a different email address?  That theory seems to be substantiated by the following article about an FTC law suite against match.com for the use of fake profiles.  Looks like their angle is getting people to purchase paid subscriptions after seeing that there was interest in the fake profiles they generated:

“According to the FTC’s complaint, Match sent emails to nonsubscribers stating that someone had expressed an interest in that consumer. Specifically, when nonsubscribers with free accounts received likes, favorites, emails, and instant messages on Match.com, they also received emailed ads from Match encouraging them to subscribe to Match.com to view the identity of the sender and the content of the communication.”

Assuming that this case is not yet resolved, it’s pretty clumsy of match.com to continue to play the same scam.  It’s also pretty clumsy of them to use a female identity for me, but I guess my name is non-standard enough that they didn’t know what to do with it (either that, or they just take a lazy 50/50 chance when creating their fake profiles.)

 

EDIT: managed to re-reset the password, long enough to figure out how to shut down the identity.   Before I did so, I grabbed a screen shot of “my” profile:

I see that the “Profile Hidden” that I selected the first time I logged in was still selected.  I also tried changing the email address associated with this profile to one that I use only for spam, but match.com won’t allow that without also knowing the birthday that they used to create the fake profile.

Clocker: A nice world clock app for the mac

November 14, 2019 mac No comments , ,

Our company is scattered to the wind around the world, and I’m often left wondering “what time is it there, right now?”

There’s lots of world clock apps and websites available, but I’m really liking clocker for this at the moment.  Here’s my current view of the local times for my colleagues

( I often work with people in Brussels, Paris, and the UK too, but that’s all in the Zurich timezone. )

 

My first “nigerian scammer” email in German

November 13, 2019 Just for fun 2 comments

Is this any more believable auf Deutsch?

Guten Tag,

Es tut mir leid, Sie in dieser Angelegenheit ohne Ihre vorherige Zustimmung zu kontaktieren. Es war wegen der Dringlichkeit der Angelegenheit.

Ich bin Desmond OGEGEREGE, ein Rechtsanwalt, und der persönliche Anwalt von ein verstorbener Kunde aus Ihrem Land. Ich würde gerne wissen, ob wir zusammenarbeiten können in diese Transaktion?

Seit dem Tod meines Mandanten, sein Fonds im Wert Millionen in Dollar, in der Bank meines Landes ruhend gewesen. Die Bank hat mir eine Mitteilung gemacht, um die nächsten Angehörigen für die Forderung der Fonds zu präsentieren, andernfalls werden die Gelder beschlagnahmt.

Der Verstorbene starb bei einem Autounfall mit seiner ganzen Familie. Ich schreibe Ihnen in dieser Angelegenheit, weil Sie den gleichen Familiennamen wie der Verstorbene haben, daher können Sie an die Bank als mein verstorbener Kunde nächsten Angehörigen vorgestellt werden. Mit meiner Unterstützung als der verstorbene persönliche Anwalt, können Sie von der Bank genehmigt werden und das Geld wird Ihnen freigegeben werden.

Ich freue mich auf Ihre Antwort, wenn Sie interessiert sind und ich werde Ihnen weitere Details senden.

Google translate says this is:

Good day,

I am sorry to contact you in this matter without your prior consent. It was because of the urgency of the matter.

I am Desmond OGEGEREGE, a lawyer, and the personal advocate of a deceased customer from your country. I would like to know if we can work together in this transaction?

Since the death of my client, his fund worth millions in dollars, has been resting in the bank of my country. The bank has sent me a message to present the next of kin for claiming the funds, otherwise the funds will be confiscated.

The deceased died in a car accident with his entire family. I am writing to you on this matter because you have the same surname as the deceased, therefore you can be introduced to the bank as my deceased customer next of kin. With my support as the late personal attorney, you can be approved by the bank and the money will be released to you.

I look forward to your answer, if you are interested and I will send you further details.

The little bit of German that I learned to read Euler’s books at the math library 25 years ago, aren’t enough for me to reply, but let’s see if they also speak english.

Issues with macOS catalina

November 12, 2019 mac 2 comments

This is one upgrade I really wished I hadn’t done.  The system has been pestering me for a month to do it, and I made the mistake of letting the upgrade go ahead a few days ago.

  • It turns out that this “upgrade” is a massive feature breaker and removes support for all 32-bit applications.  For myself, this means I’ll probably have to pay to buy a new version of Mathematica, as Mathematica 11.2 used a 32-bit front end, that is now useless.  I suspect that this is going to cost me $150 or so, which is pretty crappy given that I’m not actively writing any Mathematica code at the moment, but would still like to be able to run my old notebooks.
  • If I try to use Microsoft Word, it seems to crash my entire system within about 1 minute (2 out of 2 times so far.)
  • Since the upgrade, my keyboard was behaving like crazy, repeating things that I’d typed.  For example, typing macbook might give me “macacbookok”.  Uninstalling the wacom drivers for my old bamboo pen, turning off system preferences->keyboard->repeat, and then installing the newest wacom drivers appear to have solved this, but now I have to press space 30 times if I want 30 spaces, so it doesn’t seem like a good nor permanent solution.
  • I had to reinstall a few other applications to get them to work, in particular, the vpn client that I need for my work.  I’d lost my notes on where to install the vpn client from, so I had to try to access our support site using firefox+x-windows+linux-ovpn to figure that out, and it cost me a 1/2 hour just to get up and running again.
  • Shell is noisy about bash being replaced by zsh.  Fix is here.  When I did this it inhibited the sourcing of my .profile, but I fixed that by adding the line to my .profile, and then move that .profile to .bash_profile

I suspect that I’ll be finding out what else is broken as I continue to use the new OS.

Celebration of “killing in the name of” day.

November 11, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

November 11th, known as “Remembrance Day” in Canada, is pretty much intolerable on social media.  We are inundated with flags and blind patriotism, pictures of veterans posing in the formations of their original invasion pictures, inane comments like “he died so I could live”, “the price for freedom” and other similar obfuscated war propaganda.

This is the day for the inhuman celebration of the killing of the unnamed enemy, forgetting that that enemy had a face.  This is a day for forgetting that the enemy was also coerced into fighting in the name of their worthless governments or country, just as the veterans of North America were.  This is a day for forgetting to do causal analysis for why the wars were fought.  This is a day for forgetting that war is actively sought for profit, and how evil political puppets of war profiteers lie their way into wars on behalf of their countries again and again, regardless of what side they are nominally on.

We’ve all been touched by the wars of the 20th centuries in many ways.  My VanaEma (grandmother) and my dad effectively lost most of their family, their homes and their heritage, and were refugees in Finland and Sweden.   Having lost his real father, my dad ended up abused and damaged by his first step father, a drunken beast who thankfully died in a fishing accident.  If there had been no world war, he would have had a home, his real father, his country and family.  Dad lived a lot of his life seeming displaced, and not fitting in.  VanaEma’s final husband was stuck mentally in his WWII experience, and talked of nothing else, reliving that trauma again and again by inflicting it on anybody around.  I think that is why my VanaEma ended up needing a hearing aid — so she could shut off her husband.  I don’t celebrate the war that led to all this trauma and displacement.

I don’t think that I personally know any North American veterans of the war, but know of three in my family circle that were made to fight on the German side of the war, all damaged mentally.  Two of those men went on to damage their family as they lived out their PTSD, initiating a cycle of abuse that still has an impact today.  The thing that we should remember is not the valor and the glory of war, but the evil of war.  This should not be a day of triumph and celebration of victory over the enemy, or flag waving, or the mindless propagation of the fable of the “Good war”.  We should remember that we had two times in the last century where millions of people fell for the propaganda and coercive conscription imposed by their governments that had them fight and die for wars that should never have been fought at all.

There is no good side in the mass mobilization of men for war, only death.

 

A mostly useless Jeffrey Epstein document from the FBI

October 18, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments ,

The FBI appears to have made a mostly useless document release about Epstein.  The only non-trivial, non-redacted content that I could find in the first 16/21 of these documents was a black ink purchase order and letter describing it.

The three last documents appear to have some interview notes that might be of investigatory interest, but it appears that, in the interest of protecting a dead pedophile, the FBI has redacted almost anything that could possibly be incriminating.

Jeffrey Epstein Part 17 of 21:

pg 91

went upstairs
stayed downstairs
introduced herself
Jeffrey came down in robe introduced himself
paid 200.00
paid 300.00
paid 200.00
and told her

pg 167:

A friend
do you want to make 200.00

go to million or billion
house

pg 169:
JE said that he knew models
that was the reason
he was going to

pg 170:

times each friend
told then
They went on it

171:
want to go back
won’t do it again
w/ a week or two
called
Gave # to JE

172:
JE provided advice about
– What to eat – salad
not ????/or drink
drink lots of water
exercise

173:
JE paid 200.00

174:
He asked her to

175:
they would want me to
didn’t like

176:
went to JE
given to me from cell
anymore

==============================
Jeffrey Epstein Part 18 of 21:

pg: 10
Help him
Holiday break – X mas
JE purchased ticket
tickets to
Picked her up
Inverviewing?
Bottle of champagne
casual asking @ schools
new … about it
talked @ traveling to help w/ school
bathroom in residence later
office
limo

pg 11:
have … for dinner
limit
went home to
JE
JE
unconfortable
left
don’t worry about school
Theought that meant he would pay
talked to

pg 12:

Got to know you better
finalize plans for summer
bought ticket -> ? paid for it
someone picket her up she did not know
Friday -> Sunday
little drive
Some discussion about where she was going to be staying
JE said she will be staying with US
thought JE

pg 14:
Bought popcorn/cokes
seeing them again -> doign the trip etc
did not want to mess up things for
herself and/or
before x-mas > Months prior to flying to NM
JE called once
$4000.00
+ few hundred dollars

[there is more in this particular pdf to review — more notes from interviews.]

==============================
Jeffrey Epstein Part 19 of 21:

– a bunch of photos (recieved 2011), scanned in black and white instead of grey scale. What isn’t redacted is pretty much impossible to see.

 

Are mandatory #AmberAlert messages less than useless?

October 2, 2019 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

I received two supremely annoying Amber alerts on my phone yesterday.  They appear to be specifically designed to maximize intrusiveness, which is quite counterproductive, as the natural response is to shut down the incessant pinging as quick as you can. I’ll elaborate on why I consider that these alerts have no value (actually negative value) below.

The thought and action process to deal with the alert is modeled by the following internal dialogue: “Gaghg … what the hell is that noise!?   Grab, swipe, clear.  Thank god I wasn’t wearing my headphones!”  I got a passing glance at the message in the process, enough to see that it was an Amber alert, but no more.

This was pretty much the same process as dealing with an accidental press of that stupid red panic button on a car key fob — you know the one, it’s always triggered because you are trying to hold your keys, phone, and two dribbling travel mugs in one hand, and a backpack, garbage from the car, and a bag of groceries in the other.  Like the Amber alert, the panic button just triggers more city noise that is ignored by everybody.  It’s been 30 years since car alarms have had any value, but for some reason, instead of just getting rid of them, the manufacturers have supplied an easy way to trigger then accidentally — but I digress.

When yesterday’s second Amber alert triggered, I knew the drill and was able to silence it quickly without even having to look at it.  It was time to turn to google and see if there was a way to avoid these.  It appears there’s a way to do that on an android, but for the ancient discarded iPhone-6s that I bought for $50 USD (and probably even newer models), I appear to be out of luck.  There’s a CRTC ruling that mandates these messages, and phone providers are not allowed to provide a mechanism to disable it. They are also sent with a priority so high that their intrusiveness is off the charts.

Ironically, making the message so intrusive, means that the rush to shut it off means that you loose any chance to actually look at the message.  This is a classic example of a government policy backfire, as the policy has the exact opposite effect than the intention.

Later in the day, having struck out with google, I noticed a an #AmberAlert hash tag beside my twitter stream.  My thought was, “Perfect, there’s got to be people who know how to deal with this there”, and I posted

There were a couple helpful responses, and the rest basically conformed to expectations that one has for the worst Jon-Ronson “So You’ve Been Publically Shamed” style twitter responses:

Reading those reactions, you’d think that I’m an advocate for kidnapping and abduction, perhaps child sex trafficking, and pedophilia too.  How could I be such a piece of shit heartless fucking bastard?  Why would I want to avoid a tiny inconvenience when kids lives are at stake? Sigh.

It is striking to observe first hand how easily people are willing to take up arms to shame somebody for a cause, despite not knowing anything about their thought process, or any possible nuances that underlie the perceived offense. It’s truly thoughtless mob mentality.

Understanding that so many people are unfortunate victims of media stranger-danger fear-porn, the vitriolic reactions of the people above make some sense.  Like useless car alarms, we’ve had 30+ years of the media pumping it’s danger is everywhere story.  Fear sells exceptionally.  However, all the worry that’s been drummed into us about the black van at the school taking off with the kids has been shown again and again to be unsubstantiated.  Most kidnappings are by family members, largely related to custody issues.  Kidnapping is the conflict resolution strategy for desperate white trash trailer park inhabitants who aren’t smart nor sober enough to realize that a split second decision of that nature will only backfire and result in no access to your kids, plus considerable jail time.

Unlike car alarms, media stranger danger carping is not just an annoyance, but has massive social consequences.  I’ve now lived in three Markham subdivisions in the last 20 years, where walking the streets would make you think that you are living in a retirement community.  There are no kids playing.  The parks and the streets are empty on weekends and after school.  Kids are kept corralled in their houses, or only let out for carefully supervised play.  This fear has also become institutionalized.  I know one mother who was afraid to let her 10 year old son out to play at the park alone or try to recruit friends for unsupervised park play, because she was worried that she would be vulnerable to a child protective services induced confiscation of her son.

I know that the media and fear of CPS aren’t the only factors that are keeping kids from outdoor play.  Video games, TV, and phones now also compound the problem.  We have a couple generations of effectively lost kids, who are all experts on the characters in the 10 Netflix or YouTube series that they’ve binge watched, in countless video games, or other useless knowledge sets.  They aren’t kids who know how to  play with each other, start conversations, get into fights and make up, or even look each other in the eyes.

The AmberAlert, in my eyes, is just another conduit for media related fear porn.  It is also useless.  I’ll never know anybody who’s name flashes by in an AmberAlert, not on my phone, on media, or one one of those highway signs.  I’ll never know anybody who knows somebody related to an AmberAlert.  The chances of one of these messages being relevant is effectively zero.  I probably have a better chance of winning the lottery.  If I look at 50 Amber alerts, there will be a 50x times more chance that it is relevant: 50 x 0.00000000001 = 0 — just like buying 50 lottery tickets.

You can find plenty of Amber alert advocates that claim they are effective, but it’s not hard to find research that shows the opposite.  One such example is this “After 20 years of AMBER Alerts… Are They Worth It?” research gate interview with Timothy Griffin, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Asked about the success rate of the program, he states: “However, in my reading of the data, the number of children whose lives have been saved by AMBER Alert ranges from zero to something very close to zero.”, and as expected “These cases do not appear to typically involve apparently life-threatening abductors. Rather, they are far more often deployed in familial/custodial disputes and other cases not suggestive of life-threatening peril to the abducted child(ren).” I defer to that interview for other interesting facts, none of which were surprising to me.

The truth of the effectiveness of Amber alerts probably lies in between the glowing stats of the Amber alert advocates, and the more data driven conclusions of Prof. Griffin — but I’d guess the facts are much more strongly skewed towards the conclusions of Prof. Griffin.

Regardless of the effectiveness of the program, not allowing an opt out mechanism for these messages, nor any way to regulate priority, is a strategic mistake by the CRTC, who appears to be pushing the value of this program. Setting inappropriate priorities gets you ignored. In a corporate environment, think of the pencil pusher who sends all his ISO-9001 process conformance emails with urgent priority.  You set up a rule in short order to put all emails from that person directly in the trash.

Even if you believed that these alerts were helpful, Amber alerts depend upon an “everybody sees it” strategy that is actually crippled by making these messages mandatory and in your face. The end result is that people will delete without reading, just to silence the offending noise. The probability of even the limited possible success of the alert program is thus sabotaged. The small subset of people who will actually read the Amber alert text, and feel that it is important to do so, is made even smaller by the CRTC policy that enforces “can’t be ignored” and “can’t be prioritized”.

4800 pages of basic physics notes for $88 USD

September 29, 2019 math and physics play No comments , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the last 8 years I took most of the interesting 4th year undergraduate physics courses, and some graduate physics and engineering courses.

Well, my notes for much of that work are now available on amazon.com (or .ca), or for free as PDF.  For the bargain price of $88, leveraging the time and money that I spent, you can get very comprehensive paperback notes for these subjects.  These notes aren’t textbook quality, but generally contain detailed expositions of the subjects and many worked problems.

Here’s what’s available:

Title Professor Year of study Format Price (USD) Pages
Quantum Mechanics I: Notes and problems for UofT PHY356 2010 Prof. Vatche Deyirmenjian Fall 2010 PDF $0.00 263
Quantum Mechanics II: Notes and problems for UofT PHY456 2011 Prof. John E. Sipe Fall 2011 PDF $0.00 320
Relativistic Electrodynamics: Notes and problems from 2011 PHY450H1S Prof. Erich Poppitz Winter  2011 Black and white $11.00 387
Classical Mechanics Prof. Erich Poppitz, + self-study Winter 2012 PDF $0.00 475
Advanced Classical Optics: Notes and problems from UofT PHY485H1F 2012 Prof. Joseph H. Thywissen Fall 2012 Black and white $11.00 382
Continuum Mechanics: Notes and problems from UofT PHY454H1S 2012 Prof. Kausik S. Das Winter 2012 Black and white $10.00 358
Basic Statistical Mechanics: Notes and problems from 2013 UofT PHY452H1S Prof. Arun Paramekanti Winter 2013 Black and white $11.00 399
Condensed Matter Physics: Notes and problems from UofT PHY487H1F 2013 Prof. Stephen Julian Fall 2013 Black and white $10.00 329
Modelling of Multiphysics Systems.  Notes and problems for UofT ECE1254 Prof. Piero Triverio Fall 2014 PDF $0.00 300
Graduate Quantum Mechanics: Notes and problems from 2015 UofT PHY1520H Prof. Arun Paramekanti Winter 2015 Black and white $12.00 435
Antenna Theory: Notes and problems for UofT ECE1229 Prof G. V. Eleftheriades Winter 2015 PDF $0.00 207
Electromagnetic Theory: Notes and problems for UofT ECE1228 Prof. M. Mojahedi Fall 2016 PDF $0.00 256
Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers: Multivector electromagnetism self-study 2016,2017 Colour $40.00 280
Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers: Multivector electromagnetism self-study 2016,2017 Black and white $12.00 280
Quantum Field Theory I: Notes and problems from UofT PHY2403 2018 Prof. Erich Poppitz Fall 2018 Black and white $11.00 423

 

That’s 4814 pages of notes for 0-$USD 88, depending on whether you want a PDF or paper copy (if available).  My cost per page is about $4.7 CAD, factoring in total tuition costs of ~$23000 CAD (most of which was for my M.Eng), but does not factor in the opportunity cost associated with the 20% paycut (w/ a switch to 80% hours) that I also took to find the time to fit in the study.

If you compare my cost of $4.7/page for these notes to FREE – $0.024/page, then I think you would agree that my offering is a pretty good deal!  While I have built in a $1 (+/- $0.50) royalty for the book formats, the chances of me recovering my costs are infinitesimal.

A few of the courses and/or collections of notes are not worth the effort of making print ready copies, and those notes are available only in PDF form.  An exception are my notes for Multiphyiscs Modelling, which was an excellent course, and I have excellent notes for, but I’ve been asked not to make those notes available for purchase in any form (even w/ $0 royalty.)