Karl Fogel kfogel@identi.ca

Chicago, United States

see http://red-bean.com/kfogel

  • 2020-09-16T19:52:03Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    The most common problem in science journalism, in a nutshell:

    The article: "This is ... the strongest magnetic field conclusively detected in the universe."

    The headline? "Astrophysicists detect the strongest magnetic field in the universe"

  • 2020-09-16T16:18:15Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Hey everyone, there's a "Director of Engineering" opening at Permanent.org.  If you have leadership ability, technical ability, and open source experience, this could be a great opportunity.  My company has been working with Permanent.org a lot recently and have really enjoyed the experience: good people, good organizational culture, good mission.

  • 2020-09-14T16:39:22Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Obviously, this is a warning. The phosphine detected in the atmosphere of Venus is all that remains of the once-mighty civilization whose pollution caused the runaway greenhouse effect that led to the hellish surface conditions on the planet today. No other traces remain.

  • 2020-09-13T18:05:56Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    More evidence that deleting Uber long ago was a good call:

    Their marketing email unsubscription is not "one click". You click and that takes you to a page *where you have to manually re-enter the email address* (which, of course, they already know because it was a unique link).

    AJ Jordan likes this.

  • 2020-09-11T21:34:57Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    I can't believe that I just now noticed that the word "Incandescent" can be divided into "Incan descent" (for someone whose ancestors were members of the ruling class of the empire that once dominated the West Coast of South America).

    /me looks suspiciously at every other word

    What does the OED say in the matter?

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-09-12T17:35:29Z

    My guess is that they do not offer this as a candidate etymology :-).

    Karl Fogel at 2020-09-14T22:36:44Z

    » Karl Fogel:

    “My guess is that they do not offer this as a candidate etymology :-).”

    I don't have as much easy access to it as I once did.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-09-16T15:13:40Z

  • 2020-09-10T23:14:38Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Today I replaced the knob on the top of my shifter with a featureless wooden ball.

    Everything is going to be much better now.

  • 2020-09-10T23:04:46Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    All week I've been seeing huge spiders & webs. Then today a recall for my 2010 Suzuki Kizashi: "The reason for the safety and emissions recall was that a spider could enter the evaporative emissions canister air vent line and weave a web, causing a restriction in the vent line."
  • 2020-09-10T17:37:33Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    What's next? Someone will implement a text editor in Emacs?

  • 2020-09-09T16:26:16Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    This tale in today's @NYTimes is genuinely shocking. Grading in schools is problematic to begin with, but all defensible uses involve evaluating new information not remixing old information. IB and Ofqual were fundamentally confused about their task.

    It's an excellent Op-Ed, but one quibble: the problem wasn't the use of "algorithms". All grading involves algorithms, even when it doesn't involve computers. The problem was the *inputs* to the algorithm. What was being "graded" was others' expectations about the student.

    Karl Fogel at 2020-09-09T16:26:33Z

  • 2020-09-04T23:03:42Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Notably, the title of this paper, "Grounded Language Learning Fast and Slow", doesn't even bother to say that the learner in question is a computer not a human. I guess we know who the default subject is now :-).


    ("Grounded" can go either way.)

  • 2020-08-13T22:06:03Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Unfortunate juxtaposition on @WBEZ @NPR just now (paraphrasing):

    "...blah blah Trump said USPS can't do mail-in ballots if he deprives them of funding blah blah..."

    "...And now the big question we've all been wondering about: will there be college football this year?"


    Football will really, really be “murderball” this year?

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-08-13T22:21:06Z

  • 2020-08-13T22:01:49Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Wait -- does this mean the person sitting across from you on the subway can now read all your email backwards?

    I suppose...

    liame (email backwards) is a bit of a cross between "leia-me" (Portuguese) and "leame" (Spanish), both meaning "read me"

    sounds about right

    Alexandre Oliva at 2020-08-14T00:00:17Z

  • 2020-08-13T19:07:27Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers


    When you're a minority party only able to win at the national level due to structural imbalances in how the electorate is divided up geographically, then voting rights and ballot access become a partisan issue for you.

    Preventing voting is now part of the GOP platform.

    My county is very weird then.  We have more registered Republicans than registered Democrats but except for 2016 it almost always votes solidly Democrat.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-08-13T22:06:39Z

  • 2020-08-13T15:35:07Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Trump's strategy is clearer by the day:

    Convince as many Trump voters as possible that COVID-19 is not as dangerous as the libs say and that in-person voting is safe, while impeding (via court challenges and USPS slowdown) the mail-in ballots that non-Trump voters prefer.

    If I am to return to being a poll judge I gotta vote absentee as I can be assigned anywhere in the county.  Poll workers cannot run back to their assigned precincts to vote during the day.  Folks from both sides have to abide by that rule.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-08-13T18:52:55Z

  • 2020-08-10T14:15:56Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Heard on @WBEZ / @NPR this morning, re U.S. crossing 5 million cases:

    "To put that in perspective, Brazil has 3 million and India has 2 million."

    Aaaaaargh. No, sigh, that puts nothing in perspective. Dear journalists: *only per-capita statistics matter*.

    AJ Jordan likes this.

    When you’ve gone so far past the top that you’ve lost sight of the top you might be in a wee bit of trouble.  Those journalists need to take a stats class.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-08-10T15:07:20Z

    AJ Jordan, Karl Fogel likes this.

  • 2020-08-07T21:15:19Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Repeating because every now and then it's needed:

    The number of open bug tickets in a project's bug tracker correlates to the number of *users* not the number of *defects*.  This is regarding this post:


    (My original rant: https://rants.org/2010/01/bugs-users-and-tech-debt/)

  • 2020-07-23T19:57:09Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers


    Facebook's stock structure famously gives Zuckerberg decisive power (i.e., voting > ownership), so Board can't fire him. Meanwhile, a judge excoriated Facebook for its behavior, in approving a huge FTC fine.

    Couldn't FTC demand structure change instead of a fine?

  • 2020-07-23T14:28:29Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    The Trump administration is reportedly considering (somehow) banning TikTok.

    Serious question: is this a Free Software issue?

    The app itself isn't FOSS, but the government telling people what bits -- proprietary or otherwise -- they can run on their own devices seems bad...

    (Substitute "software freedom" for "Free Software" in the above if that makes the question clearer.)

    Karl Fogel at 2020-07-23T14:31:05Z

    The US and Australian militaries banned it on their networks and devices over security concerns.  The National Defense Authorization Act 2021 provision being moved states in operative part: “In General.--Except as provided in subsection (b), no employee of the United States, officer of the United States, Member of Congress, congressional employee, or officer or employee of a government corporation may download or use TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation.”  The exception allows for research, law enforcement, and intelligence activity usage notwithstanding.
    This means no civil servants or troopers will be able to use the SaaS on their official devices and official networks.  Off-duty they can do what they want.  Private individuals are not covered by this.  There is no software freedom issue as an employer is regulating its employees.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-07-23T18:36:02Z

    I'll play devil's advocate a bit to figure out what you're getting at:

    if the government were to forbid everyone from running any non-free software whatsoever, would that be a bad thing, a software freedom issue?

    would the rationale that the goal is to stop people from being victims of malware not be a good one?

    one could argue, as we often have in public tenders that demanded software freedom, that no software has the restrictions that render it non-free built into it; any piece of software could be made available in a freedom-respecting, thus no software is really excluded, it's only the abuse that comes with it when it's non-free that would be excluded

    Alexandre Oliva at 2020-07-25T17:34:01Z

  • 2020-07-10T15:57:20Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Another reason to love @LWNnet: This excellent article about recent developments in @LibreOffice. TL;DR: the project is trying an interesting tactic for getting development paid for while remaining true (with delay?) to #freesoftware principles. Fascinating & worth watching.

    Would help if I included the article link:

    Karl Fogel at 2020-07-10T15:57:55Z

    nukem likes this.

  • 2020-07-08T17:28:55Z via Identi.ca Web To: Public CC: Followers

    Whoo-whee! This is a trip down memory lane (re CVS and Subversion) and is also some really fine technical storytelling from @jimblandy, interviewed by @AdamGordonBell on the excellent @CoRecursive Podcast: