Education and Rewarding the Wrong Things

02/02/22 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A]

I find education... frustrating. It feels like two things are very common:

  • Taking identified concerns and going into territory far beyond fair or reasonable to address them
  • Putting undue emphasis on proxy measurements for good education and causing corruption of the system to achieve those measurements

There is research to be had, but it seems as though educational management either listens to just what they want to hear, or go with what's fashionable, or go with something that pays mere lip service to the problem.

Take no-fail policies - there has been research available for a couple of decades now.


Anti-Transgender Dogwhistles

05/05/21 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Ethics, People, Science, Transgender

Like just any other conspiracy-minded movement, anti-transgender activists have come up over time with a plethora of insider phrases, jokes, symbols, images and even colour schemes to talk about their ideology and the subjects of their bigotry in public channels with plenty of winks to each other.

Many of these "dogwhistles" (the term for something that the public can't detect but members of the movement can) exist in profiles, and like bumper stickers are anywhere from subtle to garish, and many of them show up in posts and images.

Anti-transgender activists are relentless online, often posting links for each other to massively comment on, or "brigade", especially if any public body or celebrity or domestic violence shelter comes out in support of transgender people.

This is an incomplete collection of them, and this will likely be a work in progress, since they pop up with new ones over time, and explanations of their origins may take a while to source.

Some of them are highly indicative of anti-transgender ideology, some overlap with phrases and practices used commonly elsewhere but may merit a second look.

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What month is it again?

05/21/20 | by Adam | Categories: Calgary

Well, I'm now into week, er, 12 or so of the lockdown. I ended up in seclusion a little earlier than most; my spouse had been visiting Rome just before Italy's outbreak became serious and my office decided that I'd better work from home just to be safe rather than potentially infect them. When the two weeks were up, I returned to the office just in time for it to shut down entirely as by that point the US was heating up as a major COVID hotspot. Shortly thereafter, the schools all shut which mean my K and Grade 2 kids became a major focus of the day. It took a while to figure out a workable scheme that allowed me to work while they "studied" but we got there.

So, what have I learned in those months?

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Ten year hiatus, over

01/12/20 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

About 10 years ago, I wrote a post here saying that my focus was elsewhere and I didn't really think I would continue blogging. So, now I've done the Twitter. I've done the Facebook. I've done the LinkedIn and the other social media aggregating sites. To be fair, each had their own benefits and attractions, but each also had limitations and drawbacks.

And so I've come to a conclusion: I like being on my own site. While technically it's Ritchie's site, the important bit is that it's not part of a giant conglomerate which passes around intellectual property like Monopoly street cards, casually discarding the bits that they could care less about, regardless of how important they felt they were six months earlier.

So, I'm back here, in my own quiet little corner of the internet where I can write for my own enjoyment and periodically whack the spambots who want to keep me company. It's an audience of about none, but that's enough. I should probably remind Ritchie to upgrade the software to something a bit newer though...


Farewell to Facebook

01/12/20 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

A year ago (roughly) I withdrew from Facebook. After repeatedly hearing from all the nonsense that they were up to their eyeballs in, whether it be using micro targeting on minorities or for political aims, leaving wide swaths of private personal data up for grabs for anyone who cared to write up a questionnaire, amongst other things, I figured that I really didn't need to give them my implicit support. They certainly weren't getting any money.

I say "withdrew" since I didn't delete the account; it's still there but deactivated. I didn't want to delete it in case a namesquatter opted to move in; is that likely? Dunno -- there's a lot of odd people out there who do utterly bizarre things for the LULs, or perhaps just an opportunity to make a buck or go phishing.

So, in the last year, what's been the general feeling of going Facebookless, having used it for years prior to that point. Well, apparently a bunch of my family and friends don't realize I've been gone so a lot of conversations and events happen without my knowledge or participation. I suppose that could be a blow to the ego. There was definitely a period of about a month where I wanted to log back in, and, y'know, just check in (every few minutes) so there is a degree of addictiveness there; fortunately it passes. Other than that, there's been so much going on that it's hard to say whether the stress levels are lower or not, whether I'm more focused on the things that matter. To a certain degree, it's a bit like quitting Ingress; you're definitely no longer spending a lot of time worrying about it but have you managed to reclaim all that time and put it to good use? Probably not; there's always something else to soak up those spare cycles.

Will I go back and reactivate the account after de-toxing? I did pop in briefly as there was a friend I needed to get in contact with several months ago and Facebook was, ironically, the only way I knew how to contact him. And, then, after dealing with that, I deactivated it again. I guess the answer to that question is "Yeah, if I need to" but I won't be making it a regular hangout again.


A Litany Of Fun Aliases

02/22/18 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A]

In our youth, when LANs were things you pretty much had to go to an office to get, when signing in after hours, we would often leave plausible-sounding spoof names instead of our real names.

So I'm just going to keep this post around as a spot I can just add silly names to as I think of them :)

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Defiance: The Game

06/14/13 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Games

(I'll see if I can work at getting some screen captures in here, because it needs some dang screen captures! :) )

I got to be a minor fan of the Defiance TV show in the first couple of episodes because of some of the characters and twists they threw in, but I'm woefully behind; we switched PVRs and are stuck trying to find a time to hook up the old one just to watch some older leftovers.

I will admit that I only tried the game because of being slightly partial to the show and it being a free weekend to try. I had every intention of just letting it go when the free weekend was up... but I didn't.

It's just a lot of fun, despite not being particularly ground-breaking. It's like someone came along and just decided to make sure there was some good solid world-building backstory, and then just write a game that they would really like.

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Elle Grand Prix 2012 Beauty Products

08/05/12 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Journal

I enter all kinds of contests. As a Canadian, my two favourite sites for contest listings are Contest Canada with its good listings and amusing taglines, and Contestgirl, with some good tools to keep track of contests.

My wins are fairly sparse, but one recent surprise was winning the "Elle Grand Prix 2012 Beauty Product Contest". Products competed for Best Of titles, and the prize here was the best of and runners-up in quite a few categories. We opened up the box and found all manner of cleansers, makeup, moisturizers, hand products, shampoo and other hair products - some of which we found out definitely cost a pretty penny off the shelf!

No shaving products or anything, but hey, Dena can't use all that moisturizer herself, so here are our thoughts on some of these products so far:

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Creationist on a Thread: Part I

04/17/12 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

This article in TechnicianOnline stirred up a lot of controversy. You could follow the Facebook responses to that for days and hardly come to the end of it.

Where I chose to chime in was where someone had rebuffed that original author, a creationist popped up to oppose them, and folks started piling on. The conversation gets rather long, but it's a fascinating study in how just about every creationist argument can get pulled out of the sack in sequence. My favourite bit: agreeing to disagree, then proceeding to get a dig in! Enjoy.

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JavaScript Script Tags Violate Normal Tag Rules

03/08/12 | by Nimble | Categories: Programming

You know how you can - for just about every HTML tag - combine the start and end tags, XML-style, into just one node?

For example, you need not go <img src="mypig.jpg"></img> - you can simply go <img src="mypig.jpg"/>.

It turns out that this is not the case for <script> tags at all, at least not without special treatment.

I had a fairly simple page to which I was trying to add a JavaScript include, a snippet of which went like this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../js/dialogs.js" />
<script type="text/javascript">
function initPage() {
.. rest of function ..

Then, later on in the page, I tell the body to run initPage when it loads:

<body onload="initPage()" ...

When I showed the web page, I got the error:

SCRIPT5007: The value of the property 'initPage' is null or undefined, not a Function object

How could that possibly be?

As it turned out, that JavaScript inclusion did not seem to consider the script block finished... or something. Everything worked again when I changed that line to this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../js/dialogs.js" ></script>

Now there's a twist. Apparently, this is the case when the web page gets sent back with the 'normal' HTTP header Content-Type: text/html. If it is sent back with application/xhtml+xml instead, then the start and end script tags no longer have to be broken up. See here.


Parenthood, Part II

03/03/12 | by Nimble | Categories: Journal, Thoughts, People

One thing I would recommend in particular for the little one is a bassinet right by the side of your bed, particularly if mom is breastfeeding. The baby is going to be wanting to feed about every two hours for a period of about two months, and during this period, it is really good to be able to roll over, pluck the baby out, feed the baby and be half-asleep at the time. There really is something a little more refreshing about not having to fully wake up for things.

Alternately, if you are set up for it, get a chair comfy enough to sleep in with wide, soft arms on it for the nursery. This is great for later, but may also be necessary if one parent is not taking any or much parental leave and needs sleep to be able to function at work.

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Scammers: The Nerve!

02/28/12 | by Nimble | Categories: Common Sense, Spamming

Hey, there are scammers out there! If you got taken by one, then you're obviously someone we want to talk to:

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Running Out Of Memory Without Using Much Memory In C#

12/16/11 | by Nimble | Categories: Programming

Few things are more dreadful for an application than a recurring "out of memory" error.

You ask for memory graphs for the past hours or days and scan them... and you don't find anything untoward. Now, you're really confused.

One thing about the memory management in .NET - you do not actually have to be using all the memory to get a System.OutOfMemoryException.

We had a server application blowing up with just around 1 Gb of memory used, when we have seen much more than that with load testing with no issues.

In our particular case, the culprit was AppDomains. We create them to safely host external libraries written for .NET. AppDomains are finalized, and it seemed reasonable - based on that and the fact that they do not figure prominently in memory tools - to let .NET take care of them as they go out of scope.

The out of memory exceptions were happening inside CreateDomain almost exclusively. This might be due to the memory being "reserved" somehow, or it could just be that CreateDomain looks for some other resource - or space on a list for a resource - that the .NET runtime can no longer provide.

We cannot easily tell which, since the error occurs inside nCreateDomain. It's a [MethodImpl(MethodImplOptions.InternalCall)] - meaning part of the CLR itself.

So, we used AppDomain.Unload(...) with those application domains when the sessions ended, and the out of memory issue - fingers crossed - has seemingly disappeared.


Offense-Taking In The Skeptical Community

11/29/11 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Internet, People

I've had it - I've just had it.

The skeptical community has always had its ups and downs, but of late, many corners of the skeptical community have turned taking offense into an art form.

One phrase that is often lauded by skeptics, including me, is "nobody has the right not to be offended". It is at the heart of fighting things like blasphemy laws and cutting at peoples' sacred cows and superstitions.

Now, this is not to say you cannot rip into people for dumb, ignorant or vicious crap. If you blame rape victims or dehumanize any group through racist slurs or violent fantasies, you deserve to get your gonads ripped off. Skeptics' responses vary from high road to Road Warrior.

...but these days, in some of the most brazen displays of claiming "the right not to be offended", the reactions even to things read in to what people say is completely hair-trigger and not only sidetracks everyone into taking sides for and against whoever is reacting, it puts people even more on edge in what appears to be some sort of cycle.

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A Slight Twist on the 419 Scam

11/21/11 | by Nimble | Categories: Internet, Spamming

You know those lovely scam e-mails promising you some great portion of millions of dollars from some dying or dismissed general or administrator if only you would help get it out of the country... just by providing one more payment for this and that?

Here's their "amusing" twist on it all - hey, I'm calling to tell you that whole thing was a scam and I'm just trying to prevent you from being arrested for it so won't you send $98 to this private attorney for paperwork?

Man alive, I think Nigeria's biggest export is balls.

Message below the fold:

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