My management tool of choice is public flogging.
August 27, 2015
[I work with some really fun guys. They are my kind of people.—Joe]
My management tool of choice is public flogging.
August 27, 2015
[I work with some really fun guys. They are my kind of people.—Joe]
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.
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:
A scan of the paper is here (click on each to get a readable version):
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.
We aren’t going to be breaking glass and using flash-bangs.
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]
My lead and I went to lunch with three representatives from a vendor today. One had spent many years in law enforcement and the other two really enjoy hunting. At lunch we spent a lot of time talking about the outdoors, shooting, hiking, hunting, and climbing mountains.
While returning from lunch and walking through the parking garage:
Vendor Rep: Nice Kydex holster for your flashlight. I suppose <company name> has a policy against fully loaded magazines to put in the slot next to it.
Joe: They just might.
Vendor Rep: But it’s the only holster you have for the flashlight, right?
Joe: That’s right.
It was the law enforcement guy.
I love this job and the people I work with.
At a group meeting at work today they asked for “Two truths and one lie”. I used these:
After some discussion they pretty much unanimously agreed it was the chess item. Good job guys!
One of the guys in the group said, “I’m glad he is working on our side.” The director (who found out about Boomershoot during my interview for the job and signed up to attend Boomershoot with her husband) of our group responded with, “That’s why we hired him.”
I’m writing this after just getting off the phone with Great Big Gun Accessory Company That Everyone Knows. I’m not pissed, just a little disgusted. I got a 130 dollar tool made by that company, from an Idaho retailer, and the tool is defective.
I called the retailer about it immediately. After some vacillation (first fail) and some obvious back-and-forth amongst the person who took my call and someone else (second fail) they referred me to the manufacturer (third fail).
I then called Great Big Gun Accessory Company That Everyone Knows and got put on hold by a robot. OK; that’s sort of tolerable, as it’s a busy time of day for a busy company in a very busy industry. After only two or three minutes I got a person. I got directly to the point; I had ordered this tool and it has some bad threads.
She actually muttered under her breath at me, as though she’d been robbed few minutes ago and I had just threatened her for her wallet; “Oh, good God…” (fourth fail). She then had to put me on hold (fifth fail) to talk to someone else (sixth fail) after which she went on and on in her Eeyore/Marvin the Paranoid Android tone, (seventh fail) about oh, woe is us; we’re juuust swamped with customer service… (eighth fail) and that she’d take my name and number and someone would call me back, maybe today but probably tomorrow (ninth fail).
There’s a point to all of this, mind you. This isn’t so I can vent my frustration– I’m not frustrated. I got this tool on a lark, because I thought it would be something fun to try. Well, all the fun has been drained right out, but it’s not frustrating in any way because I really have no “need” for this item than can’t be served with tools I already have.
The point is; if you’re in business and you have a customer who has a problem, AND you’re capable of solving said problem, then DO IT, RIGHT NOW. Your customers will absolutely love you for it, and your service will have been so unusually simple and easy that they’ll tell everyone they know about you. That two or three dollars, to fifty or 60 dollars it actually cost you to SOLE THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM STRAIGHT AWAY will have been your cheapest and most effective advertizing ever!
The retailer could have solved my problem immediately, without even thinking about it, if they’d simply send me a new part. “No problem, Mister Keeney; we’ll get you another part out to you right now, and you’ll have it tomorrow. Sorry about the inconvenience.”
That is our goal, but we don’t always reach it (for one thing, there is internal disagreement on its merits, if you can believe that). It is an ideal, which will rarely be met in all cases, but it is none the less THE ideal.
This is so very simple, and so very obvious, that practically all businesses fail to consider it. The few who do will rule the retail world. All the rest will have every excuse in the book why they don’t do it, and they’ll all be very reasonable and thoroughly justifiable excuses.
If you HAVE THE ABILITY to solve the customer’s problem RIGHT NOW, that is an OPPORTUNUTY for you and your company. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Meanwhile, after talking to two people, at two companies, each of whom had the ability to solve my problem right then and there, each of whom had to talk to at least one other person who also had the ability to solve my problem right then and there, I’ll be waiting for a phone call (not a replacement part, mind you, not even a promise of a replacement part, but a phone call) that may or may not come in the next 24 hours.
The time it took either one of the two people I spoke with to hum and haw and consult with peers and finally get around to telling me to call somewhere else or to take my name and number for someone else to get back to me, THEY COULD HAVE SOLVED MY PROBLEM RIGHT THEN AND THERE, and so you see, it would be far MORE EFFICIENT just for them, which would free up more customer service representatives to help more customers.
This isn’t rocket surgery.
I’ve updated the post Two truths and a lie with the answer and further explanation of a bunch of the truths. The short version is that I got second place instead first place in the chess tournament.
Yesterday at work they told me to prepare for a group meeting where I will be introduced to everyone. I’m supposed to tell them three things about myself. Two of which are true and one which is a lie. The group is to guess which is the lie.
This sounds like so much fun I’m going to prepare for it here. But since the readers of this blog know so much about me already or could easily search the blog for many of the answers I’m going to give you a bunch more truths to better hide the lie.
I’ll update this post with the answer in week or so. In the meantime post your guess in the comments.
I think there are only two people in the world who I currently know that can identify with certainty which one is the lie.
Update: The lie is:
I won first place while playing for the University of Idaho chess team in the Association of College Unions Intercollegiate Tournaments in Region 14 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).
The truth is it was second place:
The reason only two people I currently know who, “can identify with certainty which one is the lie” are Barb L. and Barb S. Barb S. because she was around when I played in the tournament. Barb L. because she could have looked in the trophy case to confirm or deny my claim. My kids never paid much attention to my trophy case and I have lost contact with all the other people in that tournament.
The comments to this post were some of the most fun I have had on this blog.
In answer to Ubu52 who doubted I had built the electronic alarm for my locker here is a picture of the remnants of it I found in one of my recently unpacked boxes:
It has a single silicon controlled rectifier so it is electronic. The magnetic reed switch is for turning it off. There was another reed switch for triggering the alarm after a delay created by the resistors and capacitors. But I replaced the reed switch with just a couple of bare wires after someone used a huge (something like 25 pound) horseshoe magnetic on the outside of the locker to trigger it. The Sonalert was a new product on the market then and I used one of those for the sound producing device. It was eventually used in a different project of mine and I don’t know if I even have it any more.
And repeating for completeness this is the picture of the girl, Mary Ann, with the locker next to mine which I “borrowed” the porn from when I had the alarm in my locker:
As far as the consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs all the things I said are true. I’m even pretty sure that Barb switching the glasses on me was an accident.
The one glass of beer I had when I was 17 was my first day of college when I fell to the peer pressure, felt bad about it during and after, and didn’t do that again.
It was interesting the response my kids had to this post. Xenia hasn’t said anything about reading it but James and Kim both had the chess story and the three girls in Montana story on their short list. Kim correctly suspected that one of the women was the much older half sister of one James’ best friends in high school who was, eventually, the first girl I ever kissed (she is now college literature and women’s studies professor in a long term lesbian relationship–just so you know the sort of damage kissing me can inflict). Either I never told James about that or he forgot it. When I started to tell him about last week he cut me off as it being just too weird.
I no longer work in downtown Seattle near Mugme Street. Today was my first day on the job on the Eastside of Lake Washington.
One of the most interesting things was that at various times during the day my boss would introduce me to someone. This included people as high as the “Senior Director” and maybe a V.P. Nearly everyone said something to the effect of, “You’re the guy that likes to blow stuff up!” The director and her husband are
probably going to participate in signed up for Boomershoot this year.
Oh. Word got around ahead of me.
Just as interesting are the people I’m working with.
My boss was former military and law enforcement and during the interview a few weeks ago mentioned something about explosives. Taking a chance I said, “I have a license to make high explosives.” I presume this is how word got around ahead of me. Although Bruce (see also here) could have contributed to this some too, since he works at the same place. This sidetracked the interview quite a bit and he told stories about he and some of his cop buddies doing some things with explosives that were more “interesting” (but harmless) than one would normally admit too.
While showing me around today my boss also told me a first hand story of what Black Talon ammo (in 9mm) did to human targets. Because of the over penetration his police department went to Federal Hydra-Shok’s after that.
One of the guys I’ll be working closely with and whose desk is closest to mine is a former special forces guy. He and my boss were telling me stories from survival school when they were in the military.
I’m working on security stuff with some very interesting people. Security Theater is not tolerated in our environment. This should be fun.
In processing a customer order today, we got a “Service Not Allowed” message from our credit card merchant services bank. They’re the ones who handle all of our credit and debit card transactions. We called them to find out what this message means, because we’d not seen it before. Well, they were by this time quite familiar with the “problem”. The problem is MBNA, in this case, who issued the card to our customer, DOES NOT ALLOW TRANSACTIONS WITH GUN RELATED BUSINESSES.
If you’re doing any business with MBNA, you’d best give them a jingle, and DO NOT FORGET this. This sort of thing seems to be on the rise, and it will get worse unless we push back, soon.
Update, Jan. 7, 2015; The customer called his bank, assuming the “Service Not Allowed” was due to a late payment on his part. As I explained to him several times; we were told by our Merchant Services bank that it was due to MBNA policy, and that our Merchant Services people were quite familiar with said policy as they’d had to deal with such denials many times previous. The customer only repeated what he’d said about a possible late payment. In any case, the transaction, on the same card, was approved today. All I can make of it, given what we were told by Merchant Services, is that MBNA will cave without comment or discussion once they’re called on it. From what commenters are saying, the practice of denying transactions may be random, or it may be targeted toward individual customers or vendors. Without more information I have no way of knowing. This would all seem quite unbelievable, except for what we already know about the recent IRS targeting, Fast & Furious, the attempted intimidation of Sharyl Attkisson and others, and other insidious pranks aimed at the perceived enemies of Progressivism.
My heart is a little heavy because the city that I love, the city in which I grew up, the city where I’ve chosen to raise a family and make my livelihood, it’s just done. I’m finished with Seattle.
Two weeks ago, we were talking to Seattle police about the area around Westlake Center. It’s an area that has gotten completely out of control. There is rampant open weed smoking everywhere you look between Westlake and Pike Place. There’s open drug dealing going on down there. There is all kinds of crime.
There is no way I would bring a family into downtown Seattle right now. The criminals have won. The gangs have won. The protesters are out of control.
Seattle police, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Kshama Sawant, they’ve all lost. But they refuse to do anything about it because it’s the rabble-rousers that comprise their base. They don’t dare stand up to the criminals and protesters who have taken over downtown Seattle because that is the element that got our politicians elected.
Yup. I didn’t care for what I saw here over three years ago when I first started working here. There have been ups and downs since then but the culture I see and hear (literally, many floors up from the street I can hear them chatting nearly everyday) is that of looters (in the Ayn Rand sense). I don’t see it getting better any time soon.
I was at Ry’s desk this afternoon when he got an message from Barron. He looked up at me and said, “It’s time for us to leave now.” “The verdict is out?”, I asked. “Yup”, was his reply and he offered to give me a ride because my bus wasn’t running for another hour or two. The protest was planned to start in Westlake Park which is directly across the street from where we work.
As we drove past the end of Westlake Park Ry saw “a wall of police” at the park where the Ferguson protest was planned to start. Here is part of what was being planned by the “protestors” (via Gay_Cynic):
The group’s Facebook page, which has a picture of an AK47 and the statement “the workers must be armed and organized” as its background, indicates this protest could take on a more aggressive tone.
“‘Diversity of tactics’ and ‘be your own bodyguard,’ will be in FULL EFFECT,” the site reads. “Remember where you’re at, who is present, why they are present, and what time it is. This is NOT a game. This is NOT the usual ‘activism.'”
As we drove home across the lake he talked about how many rounds of .223 ammo he had and, “Should we stop by Wade’s to get more?” I declined. I think a 1000 rounds is more than adequate. If an individual has more hostiles than what they can take care of with 1000 rounds someone on the other side is going to get lucky no matter how disparate your skills and equipment. What’s the point of giving them more ammo after they overrun your position?
I get a lot of spam. First thing in the morning, and right before I shut down in the evening, I empty the spam bucket. I also empty it during the work day, so this evening I only had three messages in the bucket. I’ve gotten so I can filter out the rare legitimate message amongst all the chaff pretty efficiently. This time I did a quick glance at the first word of each title;
Harmonic convergence. There are two kinds of dog senators. The attack dog Democrats, and the Republican dogs that only know how to heel, sit, stay, roll over and beg. Mostly beg. Republicans seem to think that they need my money to win elections, which is bizarre because in reality all they have to do is stand up for a few basic, simple principles. Doing that, they’d get so much attention from the hysterical media and the community organizers (but I repeat myself) that they’d never need to spend another dime on campaigning. We’d just see who’s getting attacked the most for starving children, making children fat, kicking old people out into the streets with no food or medicine, making war for oil, creating bad weather, handing free assault rifles out to kids in school playgrounds, destroying everything the left has worked for in the last hundred years and so on, and vote for them. Totally free advertizing, 24/7/365 on 100 TV channels, all the sports networks, and all radio channels at once. All the money in the world could scarcely buy that kind of promotion.
And for you in the NRSC; you’re pathetic. I can spot your ridiculous attempts to appear chummy, with your e-mail titles, in under 6.5 milliseconds, which means I can ignore a thousand of your pleas-for-money in six and a half seconds or less.
I designed the UltiMAK optic mount for the Kalashnikov to align itself with the barrel (fancy that). There is a radius on the underside, which engages the barrel (something like. V-block, but we’ll call it an “interrupted radius”) so as the clamp screws are tightened, it simply WILL align with the barrel unless something interferes with that process. The “something” that can interfere is the gas block or the rear sight block, or more specifically, a radical misalignment of the gas block with the rear sight block.
The mount has several features that allow it to accommodate a slight to moderate misalignment of those two parts, and so there is a fraction of one percent of AKs (usually Romanian) that cannot properly accept the UltiMAK mount, but I digress.
If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, right? Not necessarily.
Yesterday I got a letter in the mail, clearly and properly addressed to my company, from one of our out-of-state distributors. Inside was a copy of one of our invoices to that distributor.
This is all perfectly normal as far as it goes (it is common enough to send a copy of an invoice along with the check in the amount of that invoice) except that the check was missing.
I showed it to Stephanie, our bookkeeper, with a chuckle; “Oops, it seems they made a bit of a mistake there. No check. I guess I’ll have to call them…”
But since Steph is the one who prints the invoices and posts the payments, she looked at the invoice date and number, because each distributor and account status is familiar to her.
It turns out that it was not our distributor’s mistake, but our own.
It was a VERY recent invoice, you see. We had mailed ourselves one of our own invoices, by simply reversing the positions of the two address labels. The post mark being from a nearby town and dated one or two days earlier was another clue, only noticed after Steph had identified the problem, but who studies post marks before opening mail from regular associates?
Fortunately I didn’t get so far as calling the distributor to tell them about “their mistake”.
Spending time reacting to complete misinterpretations of reality. How much of our lives are spent doing that? That’s a much deeper, broader point, see.
Hm; now if we would take to sending ourselves the checks along with the invoices, maybe we could cut out the distributors and customers altogether. Then we could call ourselves The Federal Reserve or something.
I’m hearing it more and more; some version of “I don’t want rails all around my (AR or AK) forend because they’re so rough on the hands”. I’ve had people tell me that over the phone, and when I suggest rail covers they pretend they didn’t hear me and continue on as though I’d said nothing. Key-Mod and other slick-sided forends, or even wrap-around fabric jackets, are the proposed answer. I don’t understand it fully. Those who are now in their 20s were of single-digit age when we first started selling rail covers, and rail covers of several types, materials and sizes were a well-established and readily available item before we started selling them. Apparently no one is doing enough marketing to even make people aware of the existence of the rail cover. I had always figured they were an obviously necessary component to any multi-railed system. Maybe we’ll have to start marketing rail covers as a “New Product!” in order to get people aware of them all over again. Next I suppose someone will come out with a “New!” insert for the Key-Mod forend that will fill the un-used slots, protect them from dings, and provide a nice gripping surface.
A man saw our ad in a magazine, got onto our commercial web site, had the wherewithal to find and click on “send us mail” at our web site, and then wrote the following;
“I saw your Ad in a recent issue of Shotgun News Mag. Please…let me know where I can purchase your products.”
Avoiding the urge to launch into scathing, blistering sarcasm requires patience and understanding. I’ve not always been patient or understanding. In fact I’ve actually taken pride in NOT being patient or understanding, if that makes any sense, and have often taken pride in my ability to express sarcasm in the most eloquent, mean ways with maximum insult, puffing myself up at someone else’s expense. The first step is recognizing the urge for what it is, and then realizing that my job is customer service, that I’ve been contacted by a perspective customer, which is the only reason why I am here. I’ve often said that we should be heartened by the fact that we are inspiring people to get onto the internet for their very first time (and yet even in that statement there is a twinge of sarcasm, no?).
Hello. My name is Lyle and I am a sarcasmoholic…
One day at a time.
Our culture (root word being “cult”) is insane. Our government types apparently believe it is in their power to re-order the very rising and setting of the sun. They’re gods, and we’re insane enough to go along with it.
My brother sent me a text from Kalifornia on Sunday, asking me if I was saving any daylight at that very moment. I told him that it was beyond my power to do so, that I had called the bank asking to open a daylight savings account and they just laughed at me. That sparked quite the conversation.
I eventually told him that I could in fact save daylight using PV panels and storage batteries. He then told me that that wouldn’t do, because using stored electricity to make artificial light wasn’t saving “actual daylight”. I then said that we could, in theory, with the right technology, reproduce the same spectral content of the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface, that energy, like currency, is fungible, that conversion to stored energy in batteries and subsequent re-conversion to artificial sunlight is in fact “saving daylight”, and that since this is daylight savings time, this then is officially the time to be working on such technology.
Regardless; if you want to get up and go to work or school at a particular time, that’s entirely between you and your associates. Government certainly has no business getting involved.
As it is, when a business says its hours are such and such, you don’t know what that means until you have their address, get out your time zone map, and then call the governor’s office in their state to see of they participate in “daylight savings time”.
We’d all be better off it it was the same “time” everywhere. You already know when the sun rises and sets during certain times of the year where you live, and that isn’t going to change significantly in your lifetime. If you’re unsure, look out of a freaking window.
Maybe I should start posting my business hours in UTC and leave it at that, but how many people even know what that means? As often as not, when I tell someone during a phone conversation that we’re on Pacific Time, their reaction is one of incredulity; “Oh…Really?!” (surely I must be mistaken). I’ve only lived here my whole life, but then the particular time zone I’m in is purely a matter of legislation and as I said; we’re all batshit insane, so my time zone status could have been changed without my noticing.