Tech Bleg


Hey, all.  Here’s a post that substitutes fecklessness for anything even remotely resembling politics.

The sprout, a gamer, just came in to ask if we could upgrade to 330 mbps internet from RCN, from our current 155 mbps.

We got the latter on a 12 month intro price that has just expired, and we’d get the new service on a renewed promotional price, so the all-in price is only about eight bucks more per month.

What I’m wondering is if the increase in download/upload speed will make any noticeable difference to our actual web life. We use our home connection to do very conventional things:  email and the kind of online work that grown ups do (I spend a lot of time mousing around digital archives, for example, and a lot looking at online art galleries); gaming (my son) and streaming TV:  Netflix and Amazon Prime right now.

We’re getting artifacts and annoying skips and resolution loss in the latter, and it would probably be worth a few bucks a month to smooth that out.  But I have no real idea if our bottleneck lies with the download speed or if there are other bottlenecks to blame.

Any thoughts, oh more technically capable folks?

Also, any reason I shouldn’t by a DOCSIS 3.0 modem instead of renting one from RCN? Any insight on how malicious the cable companies are about obsolete-ing home gear?

Thanks to any and all.

Image:  J.W.M. Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed — The Great Western Railroad, 1844.

Programming bleg and open thread

Hi folks, this is a straight up call for a small programming job. In my laboratory we have two pieces of equipment that communicate through an improbably complex relay which includes a few obsolete pieces of expensive equipment from companies that no longer exist and a Mac desktop that only exists to receive a trigger signal and pass on a macro command to a PC. Yesterday the relay failed somewhere, and rather than troubleshoot that crap I would rather replace the whole relay with a Raspberry Pi. I need a short program, probably in Python, that can receive an analog hi/lo signal through the RasPi’s TTL input (I believe it’s 3.3v; I can do the wiring) and send a macro command to a PC through an ethernet cable. If you think you can knock this off fast for a reasonable rate, contact me at portusjacksonii at yahoo. First response takes it.

Chat about whatever!

Medical Bleg

Asking for a friend: Anybody got advice on picking a competent hernia surgeon?

And/or tips on good elective surgical programs in the Boston area, or the Northeast generally?

Stay away from Cleveland

Folks, I know how tempting it is to go to the snakes’ den and tell them what you think to their face. I have done it. It’s cathartic. It feels great. Please don’t.

From a tactical perspective the convention does not need our help to be be a complete dumpster fire. Half the people in that convention hall hate the other half with the heat of a hundred suns, while a huge faction of delegates are openly scheming to unseat the nominee, i.e., destroy the party in order to save it. We should give them space to express all these feelings at each other. A common enemy outside would just give them a reason to rally together. Trump wants chaos. He feeds on it. The crazier things get outside the more Republicans will support him. Someone else once gained (siezed) power the exact same way.

Second and more important, Cleveland will be a security nightmare. Cleveland cops are a long way from role models on a good day. Next week the Cleveland PD will be overwhelmed, scared and dressed like an invading army. They will have divisions of staties and National Guard who will almost certainly follow their lead, open carry lunatics dressed like commandos will wander around giving them heartburn, and they will have an especially short fuse for anything that might be connected with Black Lives Matter. I recognize that is not fair. They have the badges and that is the mood right now, at least among departments with a history of racial problems. Does that sound like Cleveland to you? Best case scenario, expect aggressive crowd control and ‘free speech zones’ a good mile from the convention. I would not be surprised to see kettling, violent arrests for little or no reason and a whole lot of mace. It would not surprise me to see LRADs and possibly even microwave-based active denial systems deployed. I know the last one sounds crazy, but microwave torture (“crowd control”) beams have developed to the point where police departments could theoretically deploy them, if the DoD completely lost its mind. Given the circumstances I would not 100% write it off.

Finally, I know you know this already, but Trump’s hard core are fucking nuts. They are armed, racist, angry and they don’t believe in non-violence. Ohio’s laws let people open carry any guns they want right up to whatever line the Secret Service draws on the pavement. You legally have to retreat before using deadly force in Ohio, but don’t count on Florida Man knowing that. The RSVP list already includes those neo-Nazis who had the rally in Sacramento with all the stabbings. Inside the convention horrible people will be whipping up hate and fear like a soufflé cook on a meth bender.

I understand that dissent is the beating heart of a free society, and I would never tell anyone that they can’t go and speak their mind at jerks who richly deserve it. All I am suggesting is, for this occasion anyway, maybe live tweet it instead.

Event Bleg: NYC Meet-Up?

Commentors RedDirtGirl and PsiFighter37 have separately indicated a wish for another NYC meet-up, even without a visiting fireman convenient.

Date and place to be determined. I’d suggest the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, which is not so soon that people won’t be able to rearrange their plans nor so distant that people won’t be able to commit. But unfortunately I won’t be attending, so leave a comment below with your more pertinent ideas!

Bleg Re-Post: School for Authentic Journalism

Or, to tie it to last night’s Oscars: If you approved Spotlight‘s Best Picture win, here’s a small concrete way to support the hard work of genuine journalism.

Kickstarter Bleg: The School of Authentic Journalism

If you’ve read anything about left-wing political journalism over the past decade, you already know Al Giordano’s name. Longtime commentor Watergirl reminds me: Everybody who bemoans the parlous state of actual political reporting has a chance to help train a new class of activists to find real stories (not just press releases) and to share them effectively:

Fifteen years ago – after Narco News and its journalists won press freedom rights for the entire Internet in the New York Supreme Court – we created the School of Authentic Journalism to train new generations in the skills and strategies of communicating to change the world. If you’ve already pledged to make the 2016 school happen, thank you.

If you haven’t yet made a pledge we’re running out of time and I plead with you to do so right now at this link:

Last year hundreds of readers, graduates and supporters did rally in the last week to get us to the $25,000 goal. We held a great school in November, the best yet (every new school has been better than the previous ones). But it turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had budgeted which is why we’re forced to seek $30,000 for the 2016 school.

One need only look at how the news media has elevated Donald Trump to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the United States to be reminded how urgent it is to train better journalists. Commercial media’s constant search for “ratings” to be able to charge more money for advertising has been what made a monster out of Trump, a man who calls Mexicans “rapists” and promises to build a wall around the country. They’ve given the man hundreds of millions of dollars in free airtime because he brings them those ratings. Yet of more than 500 graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism not one that I know of has participated in that charade. Instead, they’re out there doing the work that reporters are supposed to do, bringing attention to corruption and voice to the voiceless…

If we don’t make the goal by March 4, not only will that kill the 2016 school but could cripple it for years to come (remember we were unable to hold the school from 2005 to 2009: objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We’ll have to also seriously assess whether the project of Narco News and the other important projects of the authentic journalism renaissance will be able to continue at all.

I know you’re busy, that your time and resources are valuable. But I also know that you don’t want to wake up on March 5 to hear that this wonderful school – the most important and vital project of my lifetime and that of my colleagues – has ceased to exist because not enough of us made any pledge at all. Even if you have only a very small amount to spare the Kickstarter page lists the number of pledges and as that number grows it creates momentum and encourages others to do the same…

I’ve kicked in a bit. Even if you can’t contribute yourself right now, please share the link on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) wherever your proud progressive associates bemoan the lack of actual news in our news media.