Overheard at the office

From the office today:

Greg: A woman asked me to kill a spider. I told her no. It was here first. She told me it was her or the spider.

Josh: The spider is still in his house. It has taken over the bathroom. The entire bathroom is filled with webs and it lives in the skylight.

Greg: I don’t respond well to ultimatums.

This story has been told more than once. Caitlin’s version is:

Josh: So, Greg was dating a woman. She found a spider in the bathroom and asked that Greg kill it. He said no.  She said, it’s me or the spider.


Greg:
Well, the spider was there first.


Josh:
Yea, I’ve met the spider. It lives in the skylight.


Greg:
I don’t do well with ultimatums.

Brett’s version involves a discussion of the hotness of the woman and the attitude of the spider versus the attitude of woman. It turns out that the woman was “hot” but the attitude of the spider won out overall.

Overheard at the office

From yesterday:

Joe: Actually, I always thought it would be more fun to be a girl scout.

Caitlin: Because of the cookies? (She knows about my sweet tooth).

Joe: No. Because of the girls.

Today our building was evacuated for some unknown reason for a few minutes. Via text messages:

Josh: I got coffee, is the building still quarantined?

Joe: Only for you. The rest of us are at our desks.

Brett: Greg decontaminated your workstation. Land mines have been removed. You can come in now.

New shooter report

Nearly everyone I work with is a shooter. I have two peers. One was in the army for several years then helped build targets for Boomershoot this year as well as participate. The other has more NFA toys than he is willing to tell me about. My lead is former special forces. My boss is a former cop. His boss, our director, and her husband have helped make the targets for Boomershoot for the last three years as well as participate.

There was one exception. The intern. Caitlin’s last day as an intern will be next week. After a break she will return as a full time employee in August. She did well as an intern but there was a flaw. She hasn’t done any shooting since she was 10 or 12 years old. And it wasn’t that much.

Today, we set out to fix that flaw.

I started her out with some dry fire and she was rock solid. No jerking the trigger, excellent follow-through, and she picked up the mechanics almost instantly.

I put her on a suppressed .22 pistol with slow fire at about eight feet. She was nailing it with about a 1” group. Okay, 12 feet. The group size increased some but still well within the black of the target. Okay, 20 feet. Still in the black.

Okay, let’s try something else.

I removed the suppressor to reduce the inertia and put the target at about eight feet. I had her starting at low ready and then put one shot on each of the four bull’s-eyes. Her splits were probably 1.5 seconds and she was still nailing the targets. She shot magazine after magazine and kept the shots all in the black with the splits decreasing into the sub one second range:

WP_20170616_12_32_49_Pro

Okay.

I got out my powder puff loads for the .40. She couldn’t hold the gun firm enough to get reliable cycling but said the recoil wasn’t a problem so we tried a couple rounds of major power factor. She shot those just fine. No recoil issues. So, I gave her a full magazine.

Start at low ready and put one shot on each target…

Still almost exclusively in the black with the splits again approaching one second:

WP_20170616_12_53_24_Pro

Okay. She’s a keeper for our team.

Quote of the day—Arthur

[Arthur suddenly laughs uproariously]

Gloria: What’s so funny now?

Arthur: Sometimes I just think funny things.

Arthur
1981
Played by Dudley Moore in the movie Arthur.
[Today I was reminded of this by co-worker Josh when he burst into laughter.

Barb does this too, perhaps even more frequently than Josh. And they, unlike Arthur, are not drunk when this happen.

They both spontaneously, without any apparent external input, burst into laughter.

I like that.—Joe]

Marry for money

I heard this at work last week and thought it was hilariously funny:

Marry for money—earn every penny.

It was attributed as a Yiddish proverb but a quick Internet search failed to confirm that claim. No matter.

Besides the direct interpretation it would seem it applies to other areas as well, such as choosing your career and employers.

Mugme street news

Man Arrested After Assaulting Three People With Baseball Bat:

Officers arrested a 38-year-old man Wednesday in downtown Seattle after he attacked three people with a baseball bat.

Around 10 AM, the suspect approached a 39-year-old man at Westlake Park and asked for a cigarette. When the man declined, the suspect brandished his bat and struck the victim in the arm.

The suspect then walked down the street to 5th Avenue and Pine Street and attacked a man and a woman, both 65. The suspect fled, dropping his weapon as he walked off.

SPD bike officers were able to locate suspect and arrest him within seven minutes of the first 911 call about the incident.

Okay this started one block northeast of Mugme Street but it’s close enough.

That’s deadly force he was using on people. The guy is lucky he didn’t get shot.

When I worked downtown I would get off the bus in the morning at Westlake Park and I would frequently walk through a corner of it to go to lunch.

Use cash

I use a credit/debit card online. But when I’m in a physical store, except in rare cases, I use cash. This is one of the reasons why:

Clothing store chain Eddie Bauer said today it has detected and removed malicious software from point-of-sale systems at all of its 350+ stores in North America, and that credit and debit cards used at those stores during the first six months of 2016 may have been compromised in the breach.

I work in security and POS systems are one of the things we watch and worry about a lot.

Quote of the day—Brett

In a modern organizational environment you sometimes feel compelled to telegraph your feelings, but it is important to remember to not put them on broadband.

Brett
March 14, 2016
[I work with Brett. A co-worker of ours unnecessarily consumes a lot of bandwidth. This is a detriment to everyone involved.—Joe]

Oh, auto-correct

I received this customer inquiry today;
“Which of the has tunes would fit a polish style am.”
So I did a little translation;
“Which of the gas tubes would fit a polish style AK.”
And translation of the translation;
“Which of your forward optic mounts would fit a Polish style AK?”
Context. It’s all about context– I’m reasonably sure I wasn’t being asked about the appropriateness of certain music for Polish radio stations on the amplitude-modulation band, for example. And so now I can give an informed answer to the question without asking him to clarify.

More on tightening threads

This is a deep, serious discussion of mechanical esoterica, with implications to life in general, so if you’re not interested in mechanics or in life lessons, go back to doing your nails, watching TV or stressing over your made-up relationship drama.

If you get the clamp screws tight enough, you probably don’t need the Locktite. If you don’t get the screws tight enough, the Locktite won’t help.

Thank you for sticking it out all the way to the end of this post, though if you needed to read it, you probably didn’t, and if you didn’t need to read it, you most likely did. I’m preaching to the choir then. Still it must be said.

Why women should panic?

I don’t think women have any reason to panic. The article was written by a homosexual man. He seems more than a little bitter toward women at times. He makes some interesting and entertaining points, but I disagree with most of them for the most part.

I can only speak for sure for myself, but I’m pretty sure that the drive among men to solve problems is not a result of wanting to impress women. Sure, for a young buck, that may be a big part of it, but he’ll rarely get very far in his problem solving if he’s distracted by an over-active sex drive. Once you’ve been married for decades and your children have gone on to lead their own lives, and you realize that happiness and sex have virtually nothing do to with one another, the desire to “impress women” (which is idiotic in the first place) goes by the wayside.
Continue reading

Mugme street news

This came out just before Boomershoot and I set it aside for when I had more time. That time has come.

I have frequently posted about what Barb named “Mugme street” in downtown Seattle. In case you ever had any doubt as to the validity of claims of this being a “bad part of town” we now have this news:

SPD, FBI Target 3rd and Pine Drug Market In Operation Crosstown Traffic

A four-month operation by the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Taskforce (MCTF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has led authorities to 186 suspected drug dealers and thieves, who turned Seattle’s downtown core into an open-air drug market and street corner swap meet. As of Thursday morning, police have arrested 95 suspects, and local officials are now working to get some of those dealers off the streets by connecting them with a pioneering and promising diversion program, instead of sending them to prison.

Since January, MCTF detectives and West Precinct officers have been working undercover as part of Operation Crosstown Traffic, a partnership with the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and City Attorney’s Office, aimed at identifying criminals involved in a thriving underground economy around 3rd Avenue and Pine Street. Over the last year, police have received 10,000 calls of service in the area surrounding the 1500 block of Pine Street, including frequent reports of drug dealing and property crimes, as well as violent brawls, shootings, and stabbings.

Detectives also got a good look at the area’s underground economy in action, as shoplifters sold armloads of stolen goods—like Seahawks jerseys, sunglasses and even bottles of shampoo—to crowds at bus stops and on street corners. Shoplifters took the cash from those sales, detectives say, and went straight to area drugs dealers, before heading to nearby alleyways to shoot up or smoke narcotics.

Ry and I used to work in the Century Square building. It was a very nice building on the inside and on 4th street, but one side of that building was on 3rd street from Pike to Pine. We are both glad to have escaped from there.

Seattle is extremely hostile to gun ownership and even though you can legally carry a gun on the bus and on the streets company (California based) rules didn’t allow us to carry into the office.

Effectiveness of linear-feedback shift registers in testing digital circuits

In 1984 I wrote a paper for the company I was working for at the time. It was in support of a new test instrument the company was about to release. The paper was published in the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference Proceedings. I was scheduled to go to Long Beach California and present the paper during the conference January 17-18, 1984. But the company cancelled the release of the product and I did not attend the conference.

Before there was the World Wide Web there were online services you could subscribe to, dial up with a modem (1200 baud rocked!) and do searches of periodicals, journals, papers, etc. This is what one of those services, Dialog, had in their records in July of 1984:

EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTestingDialogEntryCropped

A scan of the paper is here (click on each to get a readable version):

EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTesting01 EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTesting02 EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTesting03
EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTesting04 EffectivenessOfLinearFeedbackShiftRegistersInTesting05

Today, over 30 years later, there is probably very little of the paper which is applicable to modern test equipment. But something I learned while writing the paper is something I still occasionally “put people in their place” with.

Unless you know the something about the error statistics of whatever digital system you are trying to test then it almost doesn’t matter which checksum, hash, or CRC you use for error detection. In fact, surprising to nearly everyone, if you assume that all errors are equally likely, then you can just pick the last (or first, whatever) 256 bits of a digital message and have just as good error detection as any other 256-bit hash. Or if you are using a 16-bit checksum then you might as well use the last (or first, whatever) 16 bits of the message.

It all boils down to the assumptions about the types of errors in the message. You, whether you realize it or not, make lots of assumptions about the types of errors in a digital message. For example you assume it is very unlikely, compared to other types of errors, that every 17th bit will be inverted. Or that every DWORD will be XORed with 0xBAADF00D. But the assumption, “every error is equally likely” means the math for detecting those errors will arrive at an interesting conclusion:

For a message N bits long there are 2N-1 possible errors. Any hash, checksum, etc., M bits long can only have 2M different states. One of those states represents a valid hash/checksum/etc. The other 2M – 1 represent detected errors.

If all errors are equally likely then those 2N-1 possible errors are equally mapped into each of the 2M possible states of the hash. It will only detect a fraction of those errors. The fraction will be (2M-1)/(2M). Or stated differently the fraction of errors which map into the valid hash is 1/2M. For a N bit message (2N-1)/2M errors are missed. For 2N >> 1 (all real world cases) this is essentially equal to 2N/2M or 2(N – M).

If you use the last M bits of the message it will detect all 2M-1 errors in the last M bits and miss 2(N-M) errors in the previous part of the message.

Hence it does not matter if you use a M bit hash of the entire message or the last M bits of the message. The same number of errors will be escape detection.

In “real life”, not all errors are equally likely. This is particularly true when you are trying to detect messages which have been altered by an attacker. But there are many situations where people spend way too much effort trying to determine the “best” hash to use when just using the first/last/whatever M bits or a simple checksum of M bits will work just as well as the latest NSA blessed crypto hash and consume far less computational resources.

I find this counter intuitive and very interesting. I suspect it says more about our intuition than anything.

Quote of the day—Bill

We aren’t going to be breaking glass and using flash-bangs.

Bill
May 15, 2015
[Mid morning on Friday (the 15th) my boss poked his head out of his boss’s office and asked me to join them and my lead. The first thing he told me was that I wasn’t in trouble. Next they asked me if I would be able to help out a different group by doing some travel that might extend into the weekend.

About then the V.P. poked his head into the office and gave us the guidance above. This was more than a bit amusing since my lead is former special forces, my boss is former law enforcement and army, and his boss helped make explosives for Boomershoot this year. And of course my guns and explosives experience was also being addressed. The V.P. knew of all of this experience in the room and I’m pretty sure he was speaking metaphorically.

I ended up putting in a 17 hour work day on Friday and 11 hours on Saturday. It was an interesting experience. I drove out into the desert and observed and helped another much more experienced team do their work until the early morning. I was the least experienced person there but in some ways I was better prepared than most of them. I shared my food with them and even used one of my knives to assist. There was only one person other than me who had the recommended ear plugs.

Most of the team left about 1:00 AM. One other guy and I left about 1:30 and went to our motels. We came back at 6:00 AM for a few minutes. He then left and I went back to my motel for more sleep. At 9:00 AM I attended a phone conference call for about 90 minutes and then returned to the site by myself until a little after 4:00 PM. I arrived home about three hours later and went straight to bed.

Who knew the life of a software engineer could be so interesting?

No glass was broken and no flash bangs were used. Mission accomplished.—Joe]