Friday assorted links

by on November 10, 2017 at 11:33 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. North Korean snacks.

2. Why non-complacency is hard, Trump and Native Americans edition.

3. Ways in which computers are getting worse.

4. “You Can Rent a (Grounded) Private Jet Just to Take Instagram Photos In.

5. Helen Dale’s libertarian novel about Christ and Roman law.

6. “…there’s nothing more offshore than a yacht.”  And then: “Otherwise, the Paradise Papers seem to be “dull reading,” and they describe plans that are “mostly, if not totally, legal” — “Some are not even questionable from a legitimacy point of view.””

1 Sam Haysom November 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

Everything is a snack if all you have is an empty stomach.

2 Ray Lopez November 10, 2017 at 3:01 pm

It taste better with Nutella spread on it. is that what you tell schoolkids, Sam Fulsome?

3 Sam Haysom November 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Not into jail bait like you Ray Low Net Worth.

4 dan1111 November 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

#3 – great rant, I wholeheartedly agree. It’s very disappointing that UI design seems to be going backwards despite the advances in computing. Google is a particular disappointment, as many of their apps seem to be getting worse, not better, over time.

5 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

Android Auto tells me “a new text has arrived from Nan, would you like me to read it?” I say “yes” and it does, etc.

How do you even compare that to a five minute boot and another five minutes for AOL to say “you’ve got mail!”

6 wait November 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

The subject of the twitter rant is ways in which computers are getting worse, not reasons the computing experience as a whole is worse now than it was then.

7 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Did I anchor too much on the opening statement?

“almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983”

8 wait November 10, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I would think what I said is what he meant but you may be right, in which case he is terribly wrong.

9 Ted Craig November 10, 2017 at 3:55 pm

I think the key word is “perceptually.”

10 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm

If I remember a rule from 1980s human interface guidelines correctly, anything taking longer than a quarter second is “not interactive.”

So, that is a steep bar.

We keep pushing the envelope on what we want to do with a mouse click, and we keep wanting to do more than a quarter second of work with the technology of the day.

And so we suffer, complain.

11 FYI November 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Well but the whole article is incredibly naïve. You cannot compare the complexity and scope of current Apps with their 1983 equivalent. Doing a search on a local file system is not comparable to doing a search on a highly available, geographically dispersed data center. It like comparing the fuel efficiency of a single prop to a fighter jet.

12 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm

The first available internet search for home users was WIAS. As I recall it was pretty slow. Maybe 30 seconds for a simple keyword search?

Blasts from the past, Brewster Kahle and “Gopher Space.”

13 Zach November 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Yes, but you’re working with, what, a billion times more computing power than the 1983 equivalent? More, if you count the data center.

The Apple IIE had a clock cycle of a few thousand hertz. We kids would put our hands over our ears when it was booting up, because it was an audible shriek — within the range of human hearing.

14 Tony November 10, 2017 at 1:42 pm

A few thousand hertz? 1,023 thousand, to be specific. More commonly known as 1.023 megahertz, well outside the range of human hearing.

15 Zach November 10, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Little kids go up to about a hundred kilohertz. Plus, there are harmonics of the fundamental frequency to deal with.

It might not have been the CPU, but there was an audible shriek when the thing was booting up. I’ve joked that this might be the most esoteric “you were born in the ’80s if you remember…” reference ever — if you were born a few years early, you couldn’t hear it, if you were born a few years late, computers had gotten too fast.

16 Zach November 10, 2017 at 2:15 pm

By “audible,” I mean the sound you get if you push a signal generator above the range where you can distinguish a tone.

17 FYI November 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Sure but the complaints here are all about user experience, which is hard to scale. To compare a “F3 and search” experience with cross referencing data in a map interface is a very misleading thing. A map interface has to account for a variety of inputs, mix and match of graphical and text data, access to a huge amount of different data sources, etc. I actually agree that many of our current experiences are not optimal, but you have to understand how complex these scenarios really are. Most users do not have enough insights to understand this difference.

18 Ray Lopez November 10, 2017 at 3:05 pm

The Twitter author was right, but he also probably has a older machine with fewer cores. If you have a modern (this year’s version) of a quadcore with a 64 bit OS and lots of RAM, then surfing the net is “not so bad” but the Twitter author is right, it’s gotten worse for most users.

19 derek November 10, 2017 at 4:37 pm

The users understand that a task that took them half an hour now takes them 1.5 hours. That is the experience of the sales people at one of the vendors I deal with. There was an ‘upgrade’, and their jobs got more complicated and less productive. This seems to be almost universal. Instead of having some low paid clerks doing this stuff, the most expensive and valuable people are being used for busywork.

It isn’t a technology problem per se, these things are written this way. All the computing power and access to enormous amounts of data seem to be consuming the available development resources, and the end result is the purpose for which it is written is on the bottom of the list.

20 IVV November 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm

The greatest irony is that he’s ranting on twitter, and has to type his rant out over a hundred messages. How many times do we have to display his icon to get his message?

That’s UI inefficiency.

21 Miles Jacob November 11, 2017 at 1:26 am

Alan Kay is a good person to pay attention about these issues, a sample:

22 Deek November 11, 2017 at 7:09 am

I think he’s trying a bit too hard to prove his point by making it over a screed of twitter posts rather than publishing it in a readable format.

23 derek November 10, 2017 at 11:48 am

3. In the mid 80’s at the local Credit Union. I was doing my banking with a teller, and behind was a woman using an IBM PC with 5 1/4 floppy disk updating records. She would type something in, hit enter, crank crank, then enter again, crank crank and the next would come up.

This describes exactly almost every application that does something today. Type something, crank crank, type something else, crank crank then go to the next task.

24 A Truth Seeker November 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

“Jesus went in armed (with a whip) and trashed the place, stampeding animals, destroying property and assaulting people. He also did it during or just before Passover, when the Temple precinct would have been packed to capacity with tourists, pilgrims, and religious officials.”

Thinking better, it reflects rather poorly on Rome and the Jews. I mean, I doubt a lone protester armed with a whip would be able to cast out the moneychangers from the New York Stock Exchange. They would make a stand, and the NYPD would be on the case faster than one can say “partial return reverse swaps”.

25 GoneWithTheWind November 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

Read “Caeser and Christ” by Will Durant

26 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 11:52 am

3. I had been running Debian on SSD. Connected to a 50 mbps internet, it was certainly faster than anything in the world in 1984. I have lately noticed a bit of a regression, switched to SUSE for faster boots. (I just counted 40 seconds to login prompt.)

But dudes, in 1984 I was booting off floppies, and using my weight bench to fill the time.

If you are Windows on HD, at least boot a Chromebook as Best Buy, for comparison. SSD and a light OS is another world.

27 TMC November 10, 2017 at 2:13 pm

40 seconds is pretty long. I have windows on ssd and it’s like 7 or 8 seconds.

28 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Maybe I should debug.

29 clockwork_prior November 11, 2017 at 1:17 am

Possibly – my openSuse laptop takes somewhere around a dozen seconds to boot. One thing to note is that SUSE likes to preload things which may not be relevant to how you use it.

30 Komori November 11, 2017 at 9:50 am

Linux and Windows boot up differently. Linux doesn’t give you a login prompt until everything is up and ready. Windows does most of the “up and ready” work after you login. Correct comparison times are from power-on to useable-system, not to login-prompt.

31 TMC November 11, 2017 at 2:33 pm

I can open a browser right away and load a the home page after the 8 seconds.

32 Gabe Atthouse November 10, 2017 at 11:54 am

#2 Throw in Trump dropping that he’s a billionaire, and that’s how I imagine literally all of his meetings going.

33 chuck martel November 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

“Trump interjected again: “Guys, I feel like you’re not hearing me right now. We’ve just got to do it. I feel like we’ve got no choice; other countries are just doing it. China is not asking questions about all of this stuff. They’re just doing it. And guys, we’ve just got to do it.”

So is he going to be there when the BLM cops with AR-15s show up to arrest the cat skinners and truck drivers?

34 MichaelG November 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Yes, I was amazed that no one talked back to him. “We’re going to get sued, and we’re going to lose because ‘the president told me to’ isn’t going to work in court.”

35 Belisarius November 10, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Under federal law possession of marijuana is still illegal. Colorado legalizing it means nothing if the federals choose to enforce it. Obama didn’t enforce half the laws. Trump will just be changing which ones it is he chooses to ignore.

36 BHO November 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm


37 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

2. “Non-complacency is hard” where “complacency” is rule of law?

I guess at first reading we are supposed to believe nothing happened, and no one went home to violate federal law at the president’s request.

But at second reading .. is that the future you want, Tyler?

38 Borjigid November 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Yeah, I dunno if that’s an example I’d want to use to illustrate my thesis.

39 P Burgos November 10, 2017 at 3:39 pm

I thought the point was the fear of everyone in the room except Trump. Which I think is totally understandable from the point of view of the Native Americans, you know, given American history. But to paraphrase Dick Cheney, sometimes you have to make your own reality. It worked for Uber (or at least it has worked for their founders).

40 TMC November 10, 2017 at 2:16 pm

How’s that different than O’s illegal orders? I guess at least Obama put them in writing to give whoever better cover.

41 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Obama took defined positions on things, some of which were corrected by the courts. He took a lawyer’s adversarial view of law.

That is certainly different that telling people to just go do whatever. And then what? A defense for whatever by his Justice Department? Pardons?

42 Just Another MR Commentor November 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I don’t know about the rest but “people shouldn’t be upset because something is legal” is a super weak argument.

43 widmerpool November 10, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Why? When it comes to taxes, this seems to me an extremely powerful argument. There is no moral component to paying taxes. Just man-made laws to be complied with.

44 Just Another MR Commentor November 10, 2017 at 12:28 pm

It’s super weak, if anything one would expect to be more upset that it’s legal and the laws have been structured to allow evasion by the kind of people buying yatchs.

45 widmerpool November 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Well, “evasion” is a loaded term. You buy the yacht this way, you pay the tax, you buy the yacht that way, you don’t. That’s the case with just about all tax laws – they influence behavior. Your fix would have the same result, I’m sure.
The question for policymakers is whether taxing it this way raises sufficient revenue (or too much revenue) or it the law should be tinkered with to raise more.

46 Harun November 10, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Its because yachts are mobile things.

Real estate is harder to evade.

Stick with real estate and stop worrying about yachts.

47 Chip Daniels November 11, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Its misleading to use the passive voices.
The laws aren’t structured. Yacht owners write the laws which apply yacht owners.

Its more illuminating to think of a counter example.
How about we allow all the regulations of Section 8 housing or disability assistance, be written by Section 8 residents or disability recipients?

48 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm

On the one hand legal tax avoidance is acting at the direction of the law. And so if you don’t like the “direction” sent, change the law.

But I’m not sure you should say “no moral component.” We all benefit from the common weal, and so it would be both self-interested and morally responsible for us to support it.

49 mike November 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

That’s almost identical to the reasoning used by Jefferson Davis when lecturing his field hands after breakfast in the morning.

50 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

How droll. Citizenship as slavery.

51 David B November 10, 2017 at 2:52 pm

What should be taxed (and therefore what should be legal) is absolutely a moral question. If the tax laws are structured such that legal arcana enable one to avoid the intent of the law then I should be (and am) upset at the laws/their enforcement.

52 Jpe788 November 10, 2017 at 10:10 pm

That’s not what’s happening with offshore stuff. Congress made a conscious and deliberate choice not to tax offshore earnings until repatriated. Keeping those earnings offshore is fully compliant with both the letter and the spirit.

53 chuck martel November 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

2. The only reason the tribes were allowed to squat on the property was because the feds thought it was valueless. When it turns out to be of some worth the big shots in Washington want to tell them how it’s all supposed to work. It’s easier now than it was during King Phillip’s War in 1675 because there aren’t as many natives.

54 Raj Patel November 10, 2017 at 12:18 pm

#2 reads like satire.

55 msgkings November 10, 2017 at 1:17 pm

The whole Trump phenomenon reads like satire. Elect a clown, get a clown show.

56 ladderff November 10, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Cry! Cry! Cry! Cry!

57 msgkings November 10, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Laugh laugh laugh laugh at the Clown in Chief.

58 The Other Jim November 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Guess what? He Won! Get over it.

59 The Other Jim, the real one November 10, 2017 at 2:32 pm

I came back just this once to say this is an imposter, and also Trump is our God Emperor and the winner of The Most Important Election in History (TM) and you sorry liberals better get in line.

60 The Cuckmeister-General November 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm

You realize you’re letting this sock puppet cuck you right?

61 msgkings November 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Lol! What would Trump think?

62 TMC November 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm

After the past decade, you’d think we’d be used to it.

63 Dick the Biutcher November 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm

The eight years, horrid Obama years was a clown show. And, what’s not go like? Under Obama, Democrats suffered losses in state legislatures, state houses and congressional seats: 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 14 governorships. President Trump will fill at least 100 Federal judicial, and two or three more, SCOTUS vacancies.

It’s going to be a difficult seven-plus years for deplorables. We won’t have Hillary winning down-slate elections for the GOP.

64 Dick the Bitcher November 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm

OK , even I don’t believe that last post.

65 rayward November 10, 2017 at 12:29 pm

5. Jeepers! The author knows very little about the New Testament, and what she knows she learned from Mel Gibson. Not to put to fine a point on it, but Ms. Dale is writing about Jesus in the way many libertarians approach the world, based on what she believes Jesus was rather than what He was according to the scholars who, you know, actually studied Jesus and His time and place. She chose an interesting subject (Jesus and Roman law), buy, unfortunately, she knows about as much about Jesus as I know about string theory. She is a fiction writer, and it would help if she acknowledged what she writes about Jesus is fiction.

66 JWatts November 10, 2017 at 12:34 pm

“She is a fiction writer, and it would help if she acknowledged what she writes about Jesus is fiction.”

Whooo thanks for clarifying that rayward. I thought the Romans really did have air travel and modern technology. If you hadn’t told me it was fiction, I would have thought it was a documentary.

67 Faze November 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Jesus is the most obsessively studied figure in history, yet when it all comes down to it, we have nothing to go on but the world of the four Gospels — and Helen Dale’s interpretation of Jesus is good as most other peoples. There’s nothing in what she says that is contradicted in any of the synoptic gospels. Studying Jesus in the light of even the most informed scholarship only gives you thin marginal gainsover what is right there in Matthew, Mark, Luke and sometimes John. There is no final word on the subject. No conclusion — we’re all still waiting.

68 FYI November 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm

#2 – You can read this as an indictment of Trump (or at least of his lack of abilities as a politician) OR you can read this as an insight of why he was elected and why he might even be good for the country after all. No, this is not the right way to do things and it might not even help these folks in this situation but at least you see an attitude that is diametrically opposed to “traditional” politicians in which there is a lot of talk and nothing gets done most of the times. Changing attitudes sometimes is important.

69 JWatts November 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

I could easily imagine Obama taking this approach and the glowing articles that would be written about it. And the conservatives would ridicule and condemn him for sidestepping the process and the progressives would applaud him for making government work.

70 FYI November 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Fair point. However, even conservatives need to recognize that sometimes “the system” is indeed broken.

71 A Truth Seeker November 10, 2017 at 12:56 pm

“And the conservatives would ridicule and condemn him for sidestepping the process and the progressives would applaud him for making government work.”

So it is working, like, right now? I mean, the Indians can just get the sweet, sweet Texas tea or whatever it is they want without further ado.

72 Erik November 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Yeah, fundamentally whether it’s a good or bad thing depends on whether or not something is changing/being done. Of course, fundamentally it seems to be a legislative issue.

73 amaxen November 10, 2017 at 6:32 pm

Question: Could presidential powers stretch to a ‘What has been done, has been done in my Name and I Pardon and hold free of guilt the holder of this note of all crimes and fines pertaining to extraction of coal on such and such Indian reservation’ note to give to the Indians?

Somehow I doubt it, but if it’s true that would be something very novel to watch.

74 Rafael R November 10, 2017 at 12:59 pm

3. I think the peak of computers was Windows 98. Those were the days. I remember my PC had windows 98 and it run smooth. The people started using XP and then Vista and everything went to hell. Now Windows 10 is even worse so that I mainly use my tablet and phone now instead of the PC to do stuff.

75 Anonymous November 10, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Really? In my experience Windows 10 is the pinnacle. It just works, flawlessly, all the time. Couldn’t say that about Win 98.

76 HL November 10, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Back in 98 days I used to reinstall Windows periodically to make my PC run better. Win 2000 was an improvement on that and xp was when I stopped having to do that. Win7 was the best Windows I ever had. Once MS tried to tabletize their is with 8 things went back downhill

77 TMC November 10, 2017 at 2:27 pm

I find 10 to be the best so far, followed by 7.

I had a process one time run on a windows 98 box that had to run 24×7. Win 98 had a flaw where it froze after 49 days, the time register was not sized to go beyond that. I scheduled a monthly reboot and all was fine. It ran the process every 5 min for 12 years until it got upgraded.

78 rayward November 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

6. Of course, the reason offshore bank accounts and such work is because one political party, the Republican Party, supports tax avoidance schemes (some might say they support tax evasion schemes), once greeting the worst evaders as heroes when they appeared before Congress. What they ignore, what Republican voters ignore, is that somebody has to pay the taxes that are avoided by these schemes; and that somebody is you and me and that fellow behind the tree.

79 TMC November 10, 2017 at 2:33 pm

So the rule here is everything rayward says ‘of course’ everything that follow is complete bs?

80 msgkings November 10, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Actually the rule is much simpler. All the words following the handle ‘rayward’ are complete bs.

81 Dick the Biutcher November 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Hey! rayward and I are two of the few commenters older that 27 years.

Show some respect.

It would be helpful if you pointed to and addressed whatever errors detected. For example, tax avoidance is legal in that it utilizes (accountants and lawyers) the IRC (passed by Congress – not only GOP members) to legally minimize tax liabilities. Tax evasion is a crime.

82 rayward November 10, 2017 at 3:14 pm

And I used the term “avoidance” (rather than “evasion”) for the reason you state. As I have commented before, I studied international tax under one of the best known experts. I considered international tax, but the entire subject seemed fraught with ethical challenges. Using subpart F to move income to a CFC and avoid U.S. tax seemed a temptation too great, so I didn’t go in that direction. That was 40 years ago. Today, I am amazed and appalled that companies and their tax planners get away with what would have been considered tax “evasion” back then. They can for the reason indicated in my first comment.

83 Jpe788 November 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm

“Using subpart F to move income to a CFC and avoid U.S. tax”

Subpart F is how offshore income is subject to tax in the US. You don’t “use subpart f to avoid tax”; you avoid US tax by steering clear of subpart f.

84 A Truth Seeker November 11, 2017 at 12:34 am

I am older than 27. Much older, indeed.

85 jseliger November 10, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Speaking of computers getting worse, this discussion: of keyboard latency is interesting.

86 slowpoke November 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Relevant text from the linked post:

I had this feeling that some old computers feel much more responsive than modern machines. For example, an iMac G4 running macOS 9 or an Apple 2 both feel quicker than my 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake system. I never trust feelings like this because there’s decades of research showing that users often have feelings that are the literal opposite of reality, so got a high-speed camera and started measuring actual keypress-to-screen-update latency as well as mouse-move-to-screen-update latency. It turns out the machines that feel quick are actually quick, much quicker than my modern computer – computers from the 70s and 80s commonly have keypress-to-screen-update latencies in the 30ms to 50ms range out of the box, whereas modern computers are often in the 100ms to 200ms range when you press a key in a terminal. It’s possible to get down to the 50ms range in well optimized games with a fancy gaming setup, and there’s one extraordinary consumer device that can easily get below 50ms, but the default experience is much slower. Modern computers have much better throughput, but their latency isn’t so great.

87 rayward November 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

3. The ranter unintentionally identifies the greatest flaw in the computer: it’s intended to be all things to all people, in the ranter’s case, someone who relies on his computer to find his refrigerator. I suspect that most users use, maybe, 10% of a computer’s capacity, no, 5%, no, 1%. I’ve never used a computer (smart phone) to pick a restaurant for me, but many do. Why don’t they make computers for those people. I’ve never used a computer to pick the place I will go on vacation, but many do. Why don’t they make computers for those people. I’ve never used a computer to go on social media, but many do. Why don’t they make computers for those people. I’ve never used a computer to develop algorithms that will discern market anomalies so I can generate millions in trading stocks and other assets before anyone else discerns the anomalies. Why don’t they make computers for those people. And so on.

88 William November 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

#3 Christ, is this what the Internet is turning into? A series of 27 tweets makes for a shitty read when it could be a single, well formatted article instead.

89 Borjigid November 10, 2017 at 6:03 pm

A good example of the medium being the message. I like it.

90 Butler T. Reynolds November 10, 2017 at 1:56 pm

3. It’s the web browser. The more tasks that move to the browser, the more it feels like we’ve regressed. That’s true for programmers as well as users. Programming for the web seems like it should be better by now.

91 David B November 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Agreed and it imo is really the impact of designing simultaneously for mobile and desktop.

92 Thomas Swift November 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm

3 Years ago, in a class on operating systems generally, I wrote a last minute term paper on the failure of Moore’s law to materialize as improved user experience because of the concurrent exponential growth of software bloat. The whole paper was an exercise in avoiding real technicality while tangentially relating to the course. Now I feel slightly better.

93 November 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

#1 Macau snack: sawdust pudding

94 Ricardo November 12, 2017 at 2:17 am

“Otherwise, the Paradise Papers seem to be “dull reading,” and they describe plans that are “mostly, if not totally, legal” — “Some are not even questionable from a legitimacy point of view.””

Another phrase for “mostly, if not totally, legal” is “illegal.” The Paradise Papers have revealed enough information about the activities of Lewis Hamilton to perhaps trigger an investigation.

One of the enduring problems with taxation when people have accounts and interests of various sorts in multiple countries is the lack of data sharing between countries (see Gabriel Zucman’s work, for instance). U.S. citizens are supposed to do things like declare all income and capital gains earned on overseas investments or business activities and declare any foreign trusts for which they are the beneficiary. Are they and people of other countries with similar obligations actually doing all of these things? Nobody knows because of the lack of data sharing. Leaks are actually the only time it is possible to check on whether people are complying with the law or not.

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