Back to the Mojo

About a year ago I got a burr up my butt to learn something about FPGAs. I bought a Mojo board, and some accessories, and did some of the beginner tutorials. Really cool stuff, but I was using this well aged (read: shitty) windows PC that was pretty underpowered, and an AIO (all-in-one like an iMac). Since that computer was camped out on our kitchen table, it was inconvenient as hell. But the toolchain, ISE from Xilinx doesn’t run on the mac (and while I could have setup a virtualbox and ubuntu VM, that was a drag.) Continue reading →

Waking up in a Libertarian US of A

Tossing and turning in a fever induced dream state, I dreamt that the US had become the Libertarian Utopia that I have read about. This is the summary:

Joe Conservative wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom. He flushes his toilet and brushes his teeth, mindful that each flush & brush costs him about 43 cents to his privatized water provider. His wacky, liberal neighbor keeps badgering the company to disclose how clean and safe their water is, but no one ever finds out. Just to be safe, Joe Conservative boils his drinking water.

Joe steps outside and coughs–the pollution is especially bad today, but the smokiest cars are the cheapest ones, so everyone buys ‘em. Joe Conservative checks to make sure he has enough toll money for the 3 different private roads he must drive to work. There is no public transportation, so traffic is backed up and his 10 mile commute takes an hour.

On the way, he drops his 12 year old daughter off at the clothing factory she works at. Paying for kids to go to private school until they’re 18 is a luxury, and Joe needs the extra income coming in. Times are hard and there’re no social safety nets.

He gets to work 5 minutes late and misses the call for Christian prayer, and is immediately docked by his employer. He is not feeling well today, but has no health insurance, since neither his employer nor his government provide it, and paying for it himself is really expensive, since he has a precondition. He just hopes for the best.

Joe’s workday is 12 hours long, because there is no regulation over working hours, and Joe will lose his job if he complains or unionizes. Today is an especially bad day. Joe’s manager demands that he work until midnight, a 16 hour day. Joe does, knowing that he’ll lose his job if he does not.

Finally, after midnight, Joe gets to pick up his daughter and go home. His daughter shows him the deep cut she got on the industrial sewing machine today. Joe is outraged and asks why she doesn’t have metal mesh gloves or other protection. She says the company will not provide it and she’ll have to pay for it out of her own pocket. Joe looks at the wound and decides they’ll use an over the counter disinfectant and bandages until it heals. She’ll have a scar, but getting stitches at the emergency room is expensive.

His daughter also complains that the manager made suggestive overtures towards her. Joe counsels her to be a “good girl” and not rock the boat, or she’ll get fired and they’ll be out the income.

His daughter says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can vote for change or go to the Iraq War.

They get home and there’s a message from his elderly father who can’t afford to pay his medical or heating bills. Joe can hear him coughing and shivering.

Joe turns on the radio and the top story is a proposal in Congress to raise the voting age to 25. A rare liberal opinionator states that it’s an attempt to keep power out of the hands of working class Americans. The conservative host immediately quashes him, calling him “a utopian idealist,” and agreeing that people aren’t mature enough to make good choices until they’re at least 25.

Joe chuckles at the wine-swilling, cheese eating liberal egghead and thinks, “Thank God I live in America where I have freedom!”

Fortunately, I awoke and the world was normal.

Going SSL/TLS

Recent announcements by Google that they would begin to de-emphasize search results to sites that aren’t protected by SSL/TLS encryption (that green lock you see to the left of your browser URL bar) weren’t surprising, but it was a eye opener.

This site (tralfaz.com), its sister site (tralfaz.org), and the Greytbros, as well as Barbara’s wordsbybarbara were all at risk of going essentially invisible. Continue reading →

Water Heater Blues

Last Sunday, I returned from a business trip, and on Monday, I went out to the garage to do the bags of dirty laundry. What did I see? Alas, the water heater was doing a steady drip-drip-drip from the bottom. Damn, it was dying. Continue reading →

Vera – itv series

I have been on a British police procedural show binge lately, with shows like Hinterland, Shetland, DCI Banks, and Wallander, all extremely well produced, and very entertaining.

A couple of weeks ago, Hulu recommended a new show, “Vera” based on characters by Ann Cleeves, and some fantastic acting by the cast. Based on cases, murders, and well developed stories. 4 episodes per season, and 3 seasons on Hulu (out of 8, BOO!) Continue reading →

Benefits of leaving Facebook

It has been a week since I began the process of deleting my Facebook account, and I have a couple of observations that I can share:

  1. I do have more time. Yes, when I have a spare moment and grab my phone, I have the muscle memory that tries to load the Facebook app. But, then I go to the NY Times, or Twitter and life goes on
  2. My iPhone 6s battery lasts a lot longer. I knew that Facebook was a battery hog, but seriously, I can get to the end of the day, and still have 40% of my battery remaining. Prior to deleting the app (and messenger, and whatsapp) I was topping up the battery by 1:00PM every day.

I do miss my posse on Facebook, and many/most of them aren’t on Twitter, so I had to say goodbye probably forever, but I haven’t been tempted to cancel the deletion process.

This time, it seems permanent.

Ditching Chrome

Facebook is currently in deletion process. In 14 days, unless I have a moment of weakness, my account will be irrecoverably removed1. While this will be painful, it is for the better.

However, there is one more goliath that I need to wean myself from. One that is infinitely more entrenched, and intertwined in my online life. One that will probably be impossible to completely cut out. Continue reading →

The breakup – Ditching Facebook, permanently

This isn’t about me, it is about you. Seriously. I knew that you were abhorrent in your privacy practices. That you encourage people to over share, and that in the guise of creating a community, you have built walled silos and self reinforcing echo chambers. I knew that, and I continued to ritualistically log in, to swipe and share funny memes, to shake my head at obvious fake news (oh, when The Onion and The Borowitz report are the rational seeming posts), to make like minded friends (again, with the reinforcing of my biases), and to laugh and bond with my virtual friends. Continue reading →

Maintenance Day

I have been busy this weekend. Some changes, some consolidation, and more to come.

First, I have exported all the posts from the sister site, tralfaz.org. That was my original home (and my original domain, as the .com variant was being hogged for a long time). All those posts are here now, and searchable. Almost 800 posts in total added. All the images and formatting should be good. Some spot checking of posts look A-OK.

Originally begun in 2009, there were very few posts from that time. However, I really picked up the pace of posts in 2011, through the wee hours of the start of 2017, when I really created the tralfaz-dot-com site. Those 7 years, tralfaz-dot-org was my main property. It will remain up for some time (and there are plenty of people who have posted trackbacks to that site) but it will eventually disappear. Continue reading →

More notes on Music

When we last checked in, we had come to the conclusion that the two “winners,” Spotify and Amazon, were the two services I kept subscriptions to. Both offered excellent coverage, deep catalogs (more on this later), and quality apps for computers and my iPhone (presumably for Android too).

I will admit that I have been listening more to Spotify. Their “Daily Mix,” personalized for my tastes, are outstanding. 6 playlists, that are fresh, and quite appropriate to my preferences. Spot on. Continue reading →