Spring has gone on spring break this week, so while I find the weather pleasant and enjoyable, it still feels like mid-March. That makes it more palatable to remain indoors for lunch and catch up on these stories:
And finally, via Bruce Schneier, Australia has proposed starting cyber-security training in Kindergartens.
May 5th has some history, and not just about a relatively minor battle in Mexico that most Mexicans don't even remember.
For example, two hundred years ago today, Napoleon died and The Guardian was born. I never knew about that coincidence. TIL.
And this morning, Facebook's Oversight Board upheld the social-media company's ban on the XPOTUS, at least for the next six months.
Also TIL that my main programming language, C#, commands 7% of the Internet's mind-share, making it the 4th most-popular programming language. Python, at 30%, is the most popular, because its ease of use (and ease of writing the most godawful spaghetti code imaginable) makes it the preferred language of non-programmers.
I'm glad to see that one of my most-hated languages, Scala, continues its plummet, now even less popular than Visual Basic and and VBA, two languages that should have died during the GWB presidency.
We have gloomy, misty weather today, keeping us mostly inside. Cassie has let me know how bored she is, so in the next few minutes we'll brave the spitting fog and see if anyone else has made it to the dog park.
All right, off to the damp dog park.
On my horizontal monitor, I'm watching Apollo After Hours 2021, our chorus's annual benefit. Last year we deployed the 7pm video about now. This year we deployed it yesterday.
I've spent the last six years working very hard to spread the gospel of boring software deployments. I'm overjoyed that we had one this year with Apollo After Hours.
Today is not only the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, it's also the 84th anniversary of the Nazi bombing of Guernica. Happy days, happy days.
In today's news, however:
I will now get lunch. And since it's 17°C right now (as opposed to yesterday's 5°C), I may eat it outside.
I've just made a change to the side project I'm working on that will reduce my database costs about 94%. Maybe 96%. This is only in the dev/test environment, so it may make less of a difference in production, but still... Sometimes taking something out of your code can make an enormous difference.
I promise I'll write a lot about what I've been working on once it launches.
Happy 51st Earth Day! In honor of that, today's first story has nothing to do with Earth:
Finally, it looks like I'll have some really cool news to share about my own software in just a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
The United States Postal Service has a surveillance program that tracks social media posts for law enforcement, and no one can say why:
The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.
“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”
When contacted by Yahoo News, civil liberties experts expressed alarm at the post office’s surveillance program. “It’s a mystery,” said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, whom President Barack Obama appointed to review the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.”
I mean, scraping social media takes only a modicum of technical skills. In the last year I've written software that can scan Twitter and run detailed sentiment analysis on keyword-based searches. But I'm not a government agency with arrest powers. Or, you know, a constitutional mandate to deliver the mail.
Just a quick note: I'm halfway to the "20 years from now" I mentioned in this post from 13 April 2011. And as I'm engaged in two software projects right now—one for work, one for me—that have me re-thinking all of the application design skills I learned in the 10 years leading up to that 2011 post, I can only hope that I'm not walking down a technological cul-de-sac the way Data General did in 1978.
Bit of a frustrating day, today. I spent 2½ hours trying to deploy an Azure function using the Az package in PowerShell, before giving up and going back to the AzureCLI. All of this to confirm a massive performance issue that I suspected but needed to see in a setting that eliminated network throughput as a possible factor. Yep: running everything completely within Azure sped it up by 11%, meaning an architecture choice I made a long time ago is definitely the problem. I factored the code well enough that I can replace the offending structure with a faster one in a couple of hours, but it's a springtime Sunday, so I don't really feel totally motivated right now to do so.
Lest you worry I have neglected other responsibilities, Cassie already got over an hour of walks and dog park time today, bringing her up to 10½ hours for the week. I plan to take her on another 45-minute walk in an hour or so. Last week she got almost 14 hours of walks, however. I blame the mid-week rain we got.
I also have a 30-minute task that will involve 15 minutes of setup, 10 minutes of tear-down, and 5 minutes of video recording. I will be so relieved next fall when all of our chorus work happens in person again.
Before I do that, however, I'm going to go hug my dog.