[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2014-03-03

Ruminations on web design and system administration

Filed under: Programming,Work — bblackmoor @ 10:18

Now that the Kickstarter is over, I can go back to talking about other things. For example, how happy I am that I am no longer working in web design. The work I would like to do, in decreasing order of preference, is:

  • system administration
  • database administration
  • back-end programming (i.e., not Javascript)
  • project management
  • front end programming (i.e., Javascript)
  • web design

There are reasons why web design is at the bottom of the list. The biggest one is that the people who pay to have that done are too often operating under the false assumption that they know how to do it, and that they just need someone else to do the grunt work of actually using the software. Oatmeal has a pretty funny cartoon on what that’s like for a web designer.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. I am lucky that back when I did web design as my primary profession, I very rarely had clients quite that clueless. A more frequent occurrence was the “we need to Do Something” problem. Smashing Magazine has a pretty decent article on that, but if you have been a user of YahooGroups or FaceBook for any length of time, you have seen that phenomenon in action.

System administration is at the top of the list for even better reasons. For one thing, I simply enjoy it. I like making things work. It’s like working on a car and getting it to run smoothly, but you don’t bang your knuckles or get your hands dirty. Also, success is generally objective: if the system works, that’s success. None of the “that color is too aggressive” type feedback you get when doing web design (I actually had a client say that phrase to me). Of course, there are some subjective measurements of success, even in system administration. For example, you can continue throwing time and money at a database server to increase performance, and the point at which the performance is good enough is a subjective call. Even so, generally speaking, the line between “working” and “not working” is pretty clear. I like that.

Monday, 2014-02-17

Happy Epicurus’ Birthday!

Filed under: Fine Living — bblackmoor @ 22:42
Bust of Epicurus

I celebrate Epicurus’ Birthday on the third Monday of February, in honor of the philosopher Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. His school was the first of the ancient Greek philosophical schools to admit women as a rule rather than an exception.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and evil; death is the end of both body and soul and should therefore not be feared; the gods do not reward or punish humans; the universe is infinite and eternal; and events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.

(From Epicurus, Wikipedia)

Friday, 2014-02-07

Sympathy for the devil

Filed under: Mythology,Science — bblackmoor @ 12:53

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition)

I feel sorry for Ken Ham, because it seems to me, from listening to him, that he has “faithed” himself into a corner. He has convinced himself that his life only has meaning if a specific set of “facts” are never contradicted. He’s set up this construct in his head where his life only has value if his god exists, and his god only exists if his interpretation of a book he has read is infallible and factual. Therefore, he has to struggle to find more and more outlandish explanations for why his interpretation of a book is not contradicted by the real world around him. Because if he’s wrong about that book, or that book is in error, then he concludes that his god does not exist, and therefore his life has no meaning.

“My understanding of [anything] must be absolutely correct, or else my life has no meaning. I must therefore oppose anything which contradicts my understanding of [anything].”

The vanity of such a position is staggering. It would be funny if it were not so tragic, and so avoidable.

Bill Nye vs Ken Ham by bblackmoor on GoAnimate

Wednesday, 2014-01-22

Alien Trespass

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 19:14
Alien Trespass

Just watched “Alien Trespass“. I almost didn’t, because the cover art and the title made me think it was probably yet another of those execrable Asylum ripoffs. (If that makes you think the Asylum films are terrible, you are mistaken: they are much, much worse than that. Seriously, do not ever watch one. They aren’t “bad” in an entertaining way. They are just plain bad.)

However, to my surprise, it wasn’t. It’s more in the vein of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, although it’s played completely seriously, without even the deadpan humour of Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. I confess I enjoyed Skeleton more, but I recommend Alien Trespass to anyone who has an affection for 1950s science fiction movies.

Wednesday, 2014-01-08

Pay attention, this is your life you are missing

Filed under: Fine Living,Friends — bblackmoor @ 18:57

Pay attention to the people around you. Your life is ticking away, minute by minute, and when they’re gone, you’re gone. Don’t waste your life staring at an object in your hand.

For myself, I am going to attempt to spend my time more wisely, with a greater awareness of who and what I am paying attention to.

Tuesday, 2013-12-24

The true meaning of Christmas

Filed under: Family,Friends,Television — bblackmoor @ 20:07

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasIf I had to pick one Christmas special that sums up what I consider the “true meaning of Christmas”, it would be Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos, far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

Sunday, 2013-12-01

ProFantasy Cartographer’s Annual: December

Filed under: Art,Gaming,Software — bblackmoor @ 10:41
ProFantasy Cartographer's Annual: December

I still haven’t taught myself to use Campaign Cartographer 3, but I really enjoy ProFantasy’s monthly special maps. Check out the December Annual issue for 1930s travel guide-style maps.

Grabbers and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 01:14

We celebrated the third day of our four-day weekend by watching a number of shows on Netflix. The best of these were from across the water: Grabbers (an Irish film in the tradition of Tremors and Shawn Of The Dead), and the first episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. These were both great fun. Grabbers, in particular, deserves to have wider recognition. As much as I enjoy the work of Simon Pegg, Grabbers was much more fun than The World’s End.

As for Miss Fisher, it reminds me a great deal of another mystery genre import, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I wish they had made more episodes of that. It was a delightful show, and quite likely the first time I had ever seen Africa being portrayed as a place where people could actually live and be happy.

Saturday, 2013-11-23

Accounting for Kickstarter

Filed under: Gaming,The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 19:47

When it comes to accounting for the money raised through Kickstarter etc., most people seem aware of the 5% Kickstarter fee, the ~4% Amazon fee, the 1%-5% billing failure, and the potential for as much as 10% to be lost in chargebacks. What I don’t see many people mentioning is the amount of income tax the IRS is going to take of the amount raised (if you are a US citizen). In Europe, you may have VAT, which is even more complicated. Established businesses already know about this, of course, but since many people who start a Kickstarter campaign are hobbyists and startups, I thought this was a worthwhile thing to point out: keep taxes in mind when you are estimating how much you will need to raise to complete your project.

Wednesday, 2013-11-20

My opinion on the “minimum wage”

Filed under: Politics — bblackmoor @ 22:02
Monopoly money

Would a “minimum wage” be necessary in a libertarian society? No, it wouldn’t. But we do not live in a libertarian society. We live in a society where corporate interests are capable of distorting the market at the expense of human beings who wish to support themselves by earning an honest living.

Many, many people have erroneous beliefs concerning a “minimum wage”. It is true that a higher minimum wage would raise the cost of some items — but only those items which are currently manufactured or provided by people who are currently being paid less-than-subsistence wages, and only as much as the cost of that labor contributes to the cost of those items or services.

In reality, raising the minimum wage to a level that would actually permit a human being to survive through honest work would be a very small net loss to people who are currently paid more than the proposed “minimum wage” (whatever wage that may be), and a significant net gain to those those are currently being paid less than that amount. Yes, it is a transfer of wealth, but it is a countermeasure to the existing transfer of wealth that permits large corporations (not people, not small businesses — corporations, large ones) to use their economic power to artificially suppress wages.

No, a “minimum wage” would not be necessary in a libertarian society, but while we work toward that goal, let’s make sure that people suffering under the current far-from-libertarian regime can trade their honest labor to support themselves. When we do have a libertarian society, and a minimum wage is a quaint historical curiosity, then we can (and should) get rid of it. Until then, we have much larger problems.

Personally, I think the minimum wage should be raised to $15/hour.

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