Larry Hosken: New

The new job starts Monday. The main programming language there is Java. I haven't done much with Java in years. In my remaining free time, I took a few whiles to catch up on how the language has changed.

Some folks claim to know object-oriented programming. I'd confirm this when job-interviewing them. I'd ask something like: Suppose you're writing a system to organize a kitchen. You already know you'll need object classes for: Kitchens, Cupboards, Bowls, Plates. What would the relation between this object class and that object class be? About half of these folks would say that Cupboard was a superclass of Bowl. While aiming for the notion that a cupboard can contain some bowls, they instead came up with the notion that bowls are a kind of cupboard.

I'd chuckle ruefully: It made sense that folks who had cram-learned Java or C++ would make this mistake. They'd probably spent a whole day learning some language's complex rules of type inheritance. You spend that much time learning about something, you think you're probably supposed to use it all the time.

So I've been catching up on Java's new features, for a very loose definition of "new". Java's picked up more type inheritance complexity since I learned it. (Especially if you say that interface/implements is basically more type inheritance, which I do. And then you get into covariance and contravariance and all those whatevervariances that I theoretically learned for Scala but still have to Google every time to remember which is which…) Those kids had so much education tricking them into thinking that bowls are cupboards. Much more than I realized. I thought I was being cruel-but-fair. It turns out, I was being more extra-cruel-but-fair.

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2017-04-20T21:33:56.016130

Book Report: My Dateless Diary

It's a memoir/travelog: An author from India travels in the USA in the 1950s. Although at the time he liked America, with some hindsight, this book reminds us that "the good old days" were not so good after all. At the time, the intelligentsia thought of India as "cool"—but of course it was largely a strange version of India as projected by folks who knew just enough to appear silly. Traveling in the South, his dark skin means he's not supposed to ride in the front of the bus. He goes to a Key station, the old San Francisco commuter train system, and I perked up, ready for a nostalgic tale of a local transit system of yesteryear—but drunken louts try to shake him down for money in the station so…yeah, not so much with the glowing nostalgia. Traveling wasn't so easy back in those days of not-so-advanced communications systems. Folks might say "oh yeah, before the web you couldn't just go online to shop for travel tickets, you had to talk to people." But it wasn't just that; long-distance calls were expensive and complex; talking to far-away people to reserve tickets/whatever wasn't to be taken lightly. And one can't help but wonder if conductors would have kept ignoring his first-class tickets and tossing him into coach if he'd had lighter skin…

It wasn't all miserable times back then. He has fine conversations about literature with Authors You've Heard Of. He has fun conversations about other things. Nice folks welcome him into their homes. He tours movie studios and other things. He liked the Grand Canyon, which shows his good judgement; the Grand Canyon is still pretty good. I'm glad Senthil Kumaran loaned me this book; thanks, Senthil!

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2017-04-16T16:00:26.070025

Job search is done: I accepted an offer at Token, which writes software to help banks do bank-y things on the internet. Many thanks and appreciations to folks who pointed me at places, pointed places at me, feedback-ified my resume, were encouraging, and/or otherwise did good things.

About ten years ago, I watched some talks about "capabilities," a way of keeping track of permissions for computer-y things. When I look at what Token is doing, it reminds me of some good ideas I saw in those lectures. So I'm excited.

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2017-04-07T19:04:05.126820

Help me find a programming job?

[Update:] Job found!

Hello excellent friends, especially local computer nerd friends. I'm looking for work. Specifically, I'm looking for work as a programmer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Behold, a link to my resume:
https://lahosken.san-francisco.ca.us/self/resume/

Spread its fame hither and yon. And tell me about the typos that I'm overlooking because I was editing that dang thing until my eyes went wiggly-waggly. Ideally, you'd tell me about the typos before everybody else spreads its fame hither and yon, but I'll take what I can get.

If you've known me for less than 10 years, that "programmer" part might surprise you. You might know me as that tech writer who's good at coding for a writer. If you've known me roughly-forever, then you might dimly remember that I've had a programmer title on occasion. That might reassure that hiring manager who doesn't know me. Now that I think about it, though, all of my not-obsolete programming has been while I was a tech writer. Lately, I'm a programmer with a kinda weird specialization in documentation systems. I doubt I'll find regular work in that niche, though. I'll probably end up learning something else. That's probably a good thing.

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2017-04-07T21:14:15.939796

Today in 2017 Congress-calling history: I spoke to a live human. Not a voicemail, not a web form, a human. June seemed like a nice lady. She totally didn't make fun of me for hesitating while I waited in vain for a recording to tell me that the mailbox was full.

[Update] And as I write this, I've talked with a SECOND live human, Abigail. Today is weird.

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2017-03-08T21:38:32.681718

Book Report: The People's Platform

The internet was going to be this great thing that returned the voice to the people. That gave power to the people. I thought that. Like, maybe I thought that the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace was kinda overdone/overwrought/oversomething. But I thought it was within the realm of possibility, right? This book points out the ways that the internet hasn't lived up to that ideal.

We thought the internet would route around censorship; that free speech would pop up faster than censors could quash it. But China showed that with cheap labor, a 50ยข party can keep up with censoring everything well enough.

We thought we were giving everyone a voice. But when everyone's yelling, the bozo who can afford the loudest megaphone has the easiest time being heard. So you might legislate some controls to level the megaphone-playing-field-strained-metaphor. But legislating such things without shutting down some voices is tricky. And maybe there aren't so many legislators interested in boosting the voices of those annoying folks who want to call legislators doo-doo-heads anyhow.

We thought…

We thought that better communication technology would get us better free speech "for free" as a byproduct. This book points out many many aspects in which that hasn't panned out. It's a good wake-up call.

Remember back when my website got zapped for a few weeks? The good news is that it was mostly backed up. The bad news is that my draft blog posts weren't backed up. Maybe I had a wordier book report prepped? Anyhow, now it's months since I read this book and I don't remember so much. Sorry!

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2017-03-04T22:20:53.370916

Link: Inside the Recount

Pretty interesting article about the 2016 Presidential Election recount efforts: New Republic | Inside the Recount https://newrepublic.com/article/140254/inside. The story as I understood it before reading the article:
  1. Academic notices oddities in Wisconsin vote numbers, suggests an audit there.
  2. ???
  3. 3rd party candidate Jill Stein asks for full recount in three states
  4. State governments block and/or halt recounts

It's a sad story in which computer security folks point out worth-checking-on numbers in OMG fraught political whirlpools and everything goes to hell. It turns out if a security smartie notices something odd about an election, they can't just raise an alarm to the appropriate Secretary of State or what-have-you. Instead, they have to get a polticial party—presumably the losing party—to complain. But those folks won't decide based on "If someone tampered with election results, we should find out how so that we can guard against it in the figure." Instead, they decide based on "Will this win us an election that we would have lost?" Wisconsin didn't stop its recount, but Democrats were mad: Though we learned about things that went wrong, the vote-count-result change was that Trump gained votes. They weren't glad to know more, not glad that future vote-tamperers will have a harder time… just mad that the "other side" got higher numbers.

It's kind of amazing that democracy survives in spite of politicians.

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2017-03-02T18:11:47.717189

Huh. Neither of my senators' voicemail boxes were full this morning.

Maybe I should start leaving longer messages.

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2017-03-01T18:52:40.407713

Book Report: Homeland

It's a sequel to Little Brother. Much of the action takes place during protests. Uhm, and that's pretty much all I remember.

Remember back when my website got zapped for a few weeks? The good news is that it was mostly backed up. The bad news is that my draft blog posts weren't backed up. Maybe I had a wordier book report prepped? Anyhow, now it's months since I read this book and I don't remember so much. Sorry!

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2017-02-25T15:18:20.440274

Book Report: The Intel Trinity

It's a biography of Robert Noyce, Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, and the early days of Intel.

Though Moore's Law (chip processing power you get from a chip per size per cost doubles every ~18mos.) comes off as an invevitable rule. But that's not how the Intel folks saw it. They saw it as a commitment: chips would get better at that rate, and it was up to Intel to make it happen. Later, when Intel was the local "800 pound gorilla", they could kinda force it to happen: when they set a chip's price, that was the price by golly.

I was reading this back during the Nov 2016 Presidential election. Andy Grove survived the holocaust in Europe, but had a horrible time along the way; it was grim reading while American neo-Nazis cheered their candidate to victory.

Remember back when my website got zapped for a few weeks? The good news is that it was mostly backed up. The bad news is that my draft blog posts weren't backed up. Maybe I had a wordier book report prepped? Anyhow, now it's months since I read this book and I don't remember so much. Sorry!

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2017-02-21T16:10:33.820549

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