Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Termites and the Coming Nuclear Holocaust

Once upon a time in the American West lived some pioneers, the Hooper family.  They lived in a comfortable log cabin with a lovely straw roof on the edge of the forest.  Let's listen in as the Hoopers have dinner:

Sallie:  We learned today in school about how termites can destroy a house.
Mr. Hooper:  Yep, that's the reason every Friday night we take our kerosene lanterns and spend a few hours searching through the roof thatch to look for those pesky pests.Brother Jed coming in the door:  I just chopped down the Christmas tree - it's a bute!
Sallie:  It is beautiful Jed! Let's check it for termites now - I'll run get a candle.
Mrs. Hooper:  Jed, just put the tree down next to the bale of hay on the other side of the fireplace - next to the barrel of kerosene.
Jed: Ok, Mom.
Mrs. Hooper: Hey, let's decorate the tree now!  Here's a bunch of small candles.  Let's tie them on the tree and light up this room.
[Later that night]
Sallie:  The tree is so beautiful with all the candles burning bright!  Can we let them burn all night to  keep the termites away?
Mrs. Hooper:  Of course!

The Hoopers are obsessed with termites destroying their home, yet are oblivious to the real threat to their lives.
In the same way the media and politicians today are obsessed with Global Warming Climate Change, but devote little attention to the real existential threat to all life on earth - a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia.

We have had many close calls when due to equipment malfunction or human error, the missiles almost launched - seriously.  Sometimes the launch was prevented by a lone individual who just refused to push the button.

Our leaders need to be obsessing on ways to reduce the likelihood of an accidental launch of missiles that could destroy all human life on earth.

Oh, yeah, the Hoopers?  Thanks to Jed's quick thinking later that night, they all escaped the inferno that was their home with only minor injuries.

And for your viewing pleasure, a related video from the 80s at no charge:

Monday, November 02, 2015

FTP through proxies, Filezilla, AdWare, and WinSCP

While trying to ftp some files through a proxy, I reached for my old friend Filezilla and downloaded a copy to my new windows 7 box.
Afterwards my browsers' home pages and search engines changed - arrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!!! - unanticipated adware choking my machine.
After an hour or so of trying to remove the adware - scanning, rebooting, scanning, rebooting - it was almost gone.  That was an expensive "free" program.  Oddly enough it loaded the Adware but not Filezilla.

After a wee bit of research, I downloaded WinSCP  to ftp through a proxy.  WinSCP read my putty settings and automagically loaded ftp sites.  It works like a charm without the AdWare bloat.
Thanks WinSCP!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

9 Amazing Facts About the Osage Orange Tree

The Osage Orange is a beautiful tree with a  fascinating story.

1.  The seeds of the Osage Orange tree are designed to be spread by an extinct North American Megafauna.  No living animal can fully digest the fruit of the Osage Orange.  Scientists think an extinct North American camel or ground sloth digested the fruit 10,000 years ago and spread the seeds.
Once common throughout the Southeast United States, its range had shrunk to just a stretch of land around Texas and neighboring states when Europeans arrived due to the extinction of its primary seed disperser.

2.  The Native Americans highly prized the wood for making bows.  Meriwether Lewis said the Osage Indians, who gave their name to the tree, traveled hundreds of miles to find it.

3.  Its wood is the densest of all the trees, which is not surprising since it must support its numerous 3-5" two pound fruit.

4.  In the age before barbed wire, the trees were planted to create living fences .  The thorny limbs of the trees, planted in a row, would be weaved together to form an implementable wall to keep livestock in and predators out.

5.  Since the wood is amazingly resistance to pests and rotting, it was popular for barbed wire fence posts.

6. Its distinctive yellow-orange colored wood can be used to make a dye.

7.  The wood burns at the highest temperature of all trees.

8.  Although its botanical name is Maclura pomifera, it is also called bois d'arc (French for "wood of the  bow"), or a corruption of that, bowdark or bodark.  Its fruit is also called a horse apple or hedge apple.

9.  The trees are male or female.  Only the female trees produce fruit.

Squirrels eat the seeds, but are not ideal seed dispersers
Bonus Fact:  The Osage Orange tree can live to be 400 years old.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Every Drone Strike is Another Boston Massacre

File:Boston Massacre.jpg
Paul Revere's slanted depiction of events

On March 5, 1770, Boston colonists attacked British soldiers with snowballs, stones, and sticks.  The overwhelmed soldiers fired into the crowd, killing five.
The Colonial patriots used what they christened the "Boston Massacre" to fan the flames of resentment against the British.

Today, US Drone strikes in the Middle East are fanning the flames of resentment against the United States.  Instead of weakening our enemies by removing leadership, the indiscriminate killings of civilians are making our enemies stronger and more numerous.

Newly released secret documents show that 90% of the deaths from drone attacks in Yemen from 2011 to 2013 were civilians.

To kill Ayman Zawahiri, drones had to kill 128 innocent people, including 13 children.

Every drone strike killing innocent people is another Boston Massacre to that community, rallying the people against the US. We are making enemies faster than we can kill them.

It's time to stop the drone attacks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Photos from Austin .Net Users Group October 12, 2015 - What's New in C# 6.0

Jimmy Bogard addressed 35 people at the Austin .Net Users Group on C# 6.0 and the new C# compiler.  The original C# compiler was written in 2000 in C++.  Roslyn, a completely rewritten compiler coded in C# is currently available.
Roslyn is only usable from VS 2015.

Roslyn being developed in the open at github.com by Microsoft.

It is multi-threaded.

Roslyn makes implementing new language features much easier.
Jimmy showed how C# 6.0 is used in his project AutoMapper.

Here are my unedited random notes on new features in C# 6.0:

0. private setter:
public Type SourceType {get; } //implies setting only in constructor

1. auto-initialize
public string FirstName { get; set; } = "Joe";
public string CreationDate {get;set;} = DateTime.Now;

field or property?  if using variable outside a class use property

2. Expression Body Function Members:
public string FullName { get { return FirstName + " " + LastName; }
replaced with 
public string FullName => FirstName + " " + LastName;
Can be used for methods as well:
public string GetFullName() => FirstName + " " + LastName;

3. Using Static - pulls in all possible methods from class to be used in class
using static System.Console;
 using static system.math;
using System.Linq.Enumerable

4. Null Propagating Operator (The Elvis Operator) ?.
var x = source?.GetType() ?? sourceType;

5. String Interpolation - use instead of string.Format()
return $"Trying to map {SourceType.Name} to {DestinationType.Name}";

6. nameof()
throw new ArgumentNulException(nameof(context));

7. Index Initializer
static Customer() {
Dictionary customers = new {
[0] = new Customer(),
[10] = new Customer()

8. Exception Filter

catch(Exception ex) when System.Threading.Thread.CurrentPrincipal.Indent.Name != "asdf"

9. await/catch/finally