Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Friday 2 October 2015

Welcome to the Shining Beacon on a Hill, the example to the rest of the world, where we've had 294 mass shootings in 274 days so far this year:

We've gone no more than eight days without one of these incidents this year. On six days in September, there were 3 mass shootings or more. If the initial casualty figures in Oregon hold up, that would bring the total of deaths by mass shooting this year to 380 so far, with well over one thousand injured.

And of course, there's the broader universe of nearly 10,000 people killed and 20,000 wounded in nearly 40,000 gun violence incidents so far this year.

This is the United States, where a group dedicated to selling guns has successfully captured firearms regulations, subverted a Constitutional protection for states (not individuals) against central government over-reach, and shut down rational argument on the merits of having this much firepower available to this many people for this long.

Friday 2 October 2015 09:30:19 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#

Canadian Julia Cordray created an app described as a "Yelp for people," and apparently failed to predict the future:

Except of course it took the rest of the world about two seconds to figure out that filtering the world to only include those with positive feelings was not exactly realistic, and all the app was likely to do was invite an endless stream of abuse, bullying, and stalking.

It wasn't long before people were posting Cordray's personal details online – seemingly culled from the Whois information for domain names she owns. Just to highlight how out of control these things can get, one heavily quoted tweet providing her phone number and home address actually provided the wrong information.

Meanwhile, the company's website at ForThePeeple.com has fallen over.

We'll have this app, of course. I'm interested to see how U.S. and U.K. libel laws deal with it. Or not.

Update: Just looking at their Facebook page, I can't help but wonder if this is just a parody. But no, these women are delusional, and their app is not a new idea—just one that no one before them has ever had the immorality to produce.

Sadly, I think it will be a success.

Friday 2 October 2015 09:11:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Software | Security#
Thursday 1 October 2015

I noted earlier that this code base I'm working with assumes all file stores look like a disk-based file system. This has forced me to do something totally ugly.

All requests for files get pre-pended with a hard-coded string somewhere in the base classes—i.e., the crap I didn't write. So when I want to use the Azure storage container "myfiles", some (but not all) requests for files will use ~/App_Data/files/myfiles (or whatever is configured) as the container name. Therefore, the Azure provider has to sniff every incoming request and remove ~/App_Data/files/ or the calls fail.

Don't even get me started on how the code assumes HttpContext.Current will exist. That has made unit testing a whole new brand of FFS.

Thursday 1 October 2015 15:48:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Blogs#

I've been playing around with BlogEngine.NET, and I've hit a snag making it work with Microsoft Azure.

BlogEngine.NET was built to store files inside the application's own file system. So if you install the engine in, say, c:\inetpub\wwwroot\blogEngine, by default the files will be in ~/App_Data/files, which maps to c:\inetpub\wwwroot\blogEngine\App_Data\files. All of the file-handling code, even the abstractions, assume that your files will have some kind of file name that looks like that.

You must never store files locally in an Azure cloud service, because at any moment your virtual machine could blow up and be reconstituted from its image. Boom. There go your files.

You really want to use Azure storage. In its purest form, Azure storage organizes files in containers. A container can't have sub-containers. You access a container by its name only; paths are meaningless.

But because BlogEngine.NET assumes that all file stores use path names (which even works for the database file store plug-in, for reasons I don't want to go into), creating an Azure Storage provider for this thing has been really annoying. I've even had to modify some of the core files because I discovered that it applied a default path to any file request no matter what storage provider you used.

Don't even get me started on the bit of BlogEngine.NET's architecture that pulls all files around through the UI instead of allowing them to live in a CDN...

Thursday 1 October 2015 12:04:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Blogs#
Wednesday 30 September 2015

The Firefly alumnus (and Joss Whedon favorite) and Nathan Fillion have released the first four episodes of a Web series that can't be entirely fictional:

I look forward to watching it.

Wednesday 30 September 2015 13:42:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Cool links#

Daily WTF editor Remy Porter has a (rare) rant up today about software development processes. I'd like all my project management friends to read it:

[L]et’s just say the actual truth: Process is important, and it doesn’t have to suck. And let’s add onto that: process is never a cure for a problem, but it might be a treatment.

Let’s be honest, managing developers is like herding cats, and you need to point them all in the same direction by giving them some sort of guidance and organizing principle. Processes are a way to scale up an organization, a way to build towards consistent results, and a way to simplify the daily job of your developers. With that in mind, I want to talk about development processes and how organizations can make process work for them, with the following guidelines.

It's a rant, to be sure, but a good one.

Wednesday 30 September 2015 11:45:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Business | Work#
Tuesday 29 September 2015

Given my priority on eating (and drinking) at Chicago Gourmet on Saturday, I didn't bring my real camera. I'm quite pleased with my phone, though. And the weather really was this gorgeous:

Tuesday 29 September 2015 14:14:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Weather#

Local-news organization DNAinfo asked people to draw their neighborhood boundaries a while back. They now have results:

After getting thousands of drawings from DNAinfo readers, we wanted to show where there was broad agreement (and disagreement) about where each begins and ends.

On first glance, both Boystown and Wrigleyville residents make clear where they think their neighborhoods are.

The core of Wrigleyville — appropriately around Wrigley Field — is between Grace, Racine, Sheffield and Newport, readers say.

Boystown's core is Halsted, Addison, Broadway and Belmont.

But look at both maps and you'll see how people in both neighborhoods are staking claim to the other's territory. A large number of readers think Boystown goes right up to Wrigley Field and several Wrigleyville residents think their neighborhood goes right up to Halsted.

I love stuff like this.

Tuesday 29 September 2015 14:03:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography#
Monday 28 September 2015

The weather in Chicago cleared up enough that we got a great view of the total lunar eclipse last night:

For comparison, here is the full moon when Earth doesn't get in the way:

Note that it's a lot harder to photograph the moon when it's eclipsed. The full moon reflects 9% of the light falling on it, or about half as much as a standard gray card or green grass. So when shooting the moon, the correct exposure is surprisingly fast: about 1/250 at f/5.6 at ISO 100. Shooting the eclipse last night, I used 1/10 at f/5.6 at ISO-25600. And a tripod.

Monday 28 September 2015 13:48:25 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Astronomy#

OK, so, astronomers predicted tonight's lunar eclipse about 6,000 years ago, but it was still bloody cool. I'll have photos tomorrow. Meanwhile, I am happy the clouds over Chicago parted long enough that I could see one great rock cast a shadow on another. It happens every six months, I realize, but it won't be visible again in Chicago for many years.

Sunday 27 September 2015 21:57:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Astronomy#
Sunday 27 September 2015

Yesterday I ate a quantity of food that I think only Ribfest has ever surpassed, but it was spread out over six very sunny hours. Today I'm recovering. Probably more interesting blog entries and a photo or two tomorrow.

Sunday 27 September 2015 14:54:15 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 25 September 2015

In the last 48 hours, I've upgraded my laptop and surface to Office 2016 and my phone to Android 5.0 and 5.1. Apparently T-Mobile wants to make sure the Lollipop update works before giving you all the bug fixes, which seems strange to me.

All four update events went swimmingly, except that one of my Outlook add-ins doesn't work anymore. Pity. I mean, it's not like Outlook 2016 was in previews for six months or anything...

Friday 25 September 2015 15:48:32 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Business | Security#

New York Times science correspondent Carl Zimmer explains how Penicillium molds have given us yummy cheeses:

By comparing the genomes of different species of molds, Dr. Rodríguez de la Vega and his colleagues have reconstructed their history. On Thursday in the journal Current Biology, the scientists reported that cheese makers unwittingly have thrown their molds into evolutionary overdrive.

They haven’t simply gained new genetic mutations to help them grow better in cheese. Over the past few centuries, these molds also have picked up large chunks of DNA from other species in order to thrive in their new culinary habitat.

The first cheese makers had no idea that they were collecting particular species of mold. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that scientists discovered the identities. Only then did it become possible for industrial cheese makers to select certain strains of mold grown in laboratories in order to produce cheese in factories.

The article has photos of blue and Camembert cheeses at the top, and I am now craving some. When's lunch?

Friday 25 September 2015 09:20:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Thursday 24 September 2015

First, Bruce Schneier warns about living in a Code Yellow world:

The psychological term for this is hypervigilance. Hypervigilance in the face of imagined danger causes stress and anxiety. This, in turn, alters how your hippocampus functions, and causes an excess of cortisol in your body. Now cortisol is great in small and infrequent doses, and helps you run away from tigers. But it destroys your brain and body if you marinate in it for extended periods of time.

Most of us...are complete amateurs at knowing the difference between something benign and something that's actually dangerous. Combine this with the rarity of attacks, and you end up with an overwhelming number of false alarms. This is the ultimate problem with programs like "see something, say something." They waste an enormous amount of time and money.

You also need to see these satellite photos.

And I need to do more work.

Thursday 24 September 2015 15:42:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Security#
On this page....
1.07 mass shootings per day
The Internet self-corrects (sort of)
So kludgy
Assumptions in your code may cause annoyance (wonky)
Alan Tudyk's Cri de Coeur
Process doesn't have to suck
Pritzker Pavilion
Where is your neighborhood?
Total eclipse of the moon
Moon disappears; film at 11
Chicago Gourmet
Stinky Daily Parker bait
Two must-see posts
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Whiskey Fest 25d 15h 20m
My next birthday 335d 04h 44m
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
All content Copyright ©2015 David Braverman.
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The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
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