My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thomas's Story

Some time ago, I sent a comment to the Whitehouse via their feedback form on the website. I'm cynical enough to doubt Obama ever saw it. But I let them put me on their mailing list, so I get to see their efforts to play our emotions.

The latest one is about Thomas, who was born with Hemophilia and, his family burned through the insurance before he turned eight. And how the national insurance fiasco helps people like Thomas.

Huge, huge questions begging. I responded as follows:
Thomas's story is so sweet.

But the problem is not the lack of government programs.

The problem is deeper, and government programs don't solve the deeper problems. They only make the deeper problems worse.

There will soon be dozens of ways to cheat the national insurance, and then they will have to tighten all the rules and send people around to make sure the Thomases are all legitimate and this particular Thomas may or may not get overlooked in the mess.

Giving the people more ways to depend on the government only makes them less willing to help each other.

Stop it.

Start preaching individuals helping individuals, and when necessary, individuals getting together to help individuals.

That is the solution, and because it is too weak, too simple, too unenforceable, people with the money don't want to hear it. Not enough hidden ways to cheat.

But if the law really is one person one vote, the people with the money are in the minority.
Now, if you read this and are inclined to call me grinch, or worse, let me explain what happens to these government programs.

It's exactly what happened to the insurance in the first place.

Too many people fudging a little, making a little more use of the insurance than they should. But that's not the real problem.

We are supposed to be somewhat forgiving of each other, you see.

But there are these people who go to college and learn how to count beans. And there are these people who are not willing to forgive each other. And these people who are not willing to forgive each other sick the bean counters and the lawyers on anyone and everyone, trying to make the rest of us not forgive each other. And then while the dust is flying, these people cheat huge on insurance, investment, tax, and other rules. And they get all the good stuff and we get all the crud and they walk away with all our money.

The rich should only have one vote. They should not have the privilege of running lobbying machines.

And that is the reason why the Thomases in this world can't get the money they need. In a few years, the bean counters and the rich-in-their-own-minds will tighten the screws on the national insurance, and Thomas will once again have nowhere to turn.

If you're so rich, just give Thomas's parents the money. Set up a trust. Quietly. Don't make a fuss. And Thomas's problem is solved.

If you aren't quite that rich, get together with some of your friends.

And make sure Thomas's parents have work they can do that gives them time to take care of Thomas.

That's the way to solve these problems.

It may not raise your bottom line tomorrow, but it keeps value inflation down, so you don't have to run so hard keeping your bottom line on the steep rise.

In the end, giving from your own pocket is the better value proposition.

Way better than more government programs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grabbag - 福袋

Or, you might call it a pig-in-a-poke.


I let Docomo sell me their Cross-i mobile internet plan. About JPY 1,500/month if you don't use it, steep slope from 300 MB to 2 GB, where it tops out at JPY 5,000 or so. Until you exceed 7G, at which point, it hits the steep slope again.

ドコモにその「クロッシ」携帯インターネットプランを売られてしまった。使わなかったら月におよそ 1,800円。300メガバイトから急な率で上がって、2ギガバイトまで行くと大体5千円になる。そこから7ギガバイトまではフラット。つまり、2ギガバイト使ってしまったら、もう使い放題と考えてほしい。7ギガバイト越えたら、またその率で上がっていくけど。

Don't dare test the limits yet until I get some work that justifies using it on the road.


Okay, it's not bad for current wireless internet connection. I'd have preferred a jailbreakable Android phone with tethering. But they got me on the freebies.


The wireless router was one freebie. I'm not satisfied with it, at all, but it was part of the bundle.


Downer, the router requires (Seriously, in this day and age!) an MSWindows box (gag) to update the thing. No INTEL Macs, definitely no Linux boxen. (Although, if I nose around, who knows about the Linux boxen? I'd better nose around.)


But that partly explains the other freebie, a Lenovo S100 Ideapad. Gotta have something to update the router with.


Single core Atom N455. 1GB RAM. 250G or so HD. SD interface. 3 USB ports, no built-in DVD.

単コアアトム N455 に、RAMは1ギガ、ハードディスクはおよそ 250ギガバイト、SD記憶装置取り付け可能。USB ポートは3基、組み込み DVD ドライブ無し。

Three power buttons. One is for normal MSWindows. One is for something called "QuickStart", a browser-dedicated Linux pseudo-distro that boots quickly and doesn't really let you do anything but browse the web. Present condition, it seems you can't even update it. (Haven't seen an offer to provide the source code, yet, either.)

And the other power button is for emergency booting straight to a special program that is supposed to "restore" your hard disk to a (hopefully safe) saved state. (Emphasis on "supposed to". Yeah, I'm sure you're thinking what I'm thinking, that's Microsoft for you. Don't make it work right, just provide a button to sort of fix it every time it breaks.)

電源のボタンは3つ。一つは普通の MSウィンドーズを起動する。もう一つはクイックスタートという閲覧専用の即急起動でき、ウェブを閲覧する以外の機能のほとんど無いリナックスの ディストリビューションです。現状は更新さえできないようです。(おまけに、そのソースコードを提供するような話はこれまで見つけられない。)


Well, the BIOS expects the disks partitioned the old DOS way, which means you're limited to four (count 'em, four) primary partitions.

では、入出力用基盤形態(ええっ、と BIOS)の既定によって、ディスクの切り分けは昔のDOS型ではないとダメです。つまり、基本パーティションは数えて4つに限られる。

So, indeed, let's count them:

  • Partition 1: Boot partition. Maybe it handles switching between QuickStart, recover, and normal boot. I'm not sure. Since I don't use MSWindows very much these days, for all I know it could be standard practice for MSWindows 7 Starter to require a separate boot partition.
  • Partition 2: MSWindows C: drive. The usual stuff. Also contains the QuickStart image. (On NTFS? Who's going to care? You have to play serious games to get at the disk drives in the QuickStart. No shell, no file manager.)
  • Partition 3: MSWindows D: drive. Backup copies of some of the pre-loaded half-apps.
  • Partition 4: Restore image partition. 

  • 区切り1~起動パーティションです。もしかして、クイックスタート、復帰、及び通常の起動の切り替えがここに制御されるように気がするけど、よくわかりません。現在はMSウィンドーズをさほど使うことの無いので、MSウィンドーズ7スターターには別の起動パーティションが通常仕様になってもビビってもしようがないのですが。
  •  区切り2~MSウィンドーズの C: ドライブです。決まりの物々が入っている。クイックスタートのイメージもこの中にある。(NTFS上?まあ、誰が気にするでしょう。クイックスタートからディスクに触れるのが結構本物の遊びなのだ。シェル無し。ファイル管理も無い。)
  • 区切り3~MSウィンドーズ D: ドライブです。組み込みのアプリケーション擬のバックアップコピーぐらいです。
  • 区切り4~復帰イメージのパーティションです。

So, I tried  the restore function, and it wouldn't restore because I had changed my partitions a little. While I was at it, I looked around the restore function to see if I could find dialogs for re-partitioning and doing a fresh install. Could not find any.


Getting rid of any of those partitions so I can install Linux is going to risk making the MSWindows OS unavailable to me for updating the router. So this box is effectively hobbled.


And, since most of the work I do is in Linux, if I can't install Linux on it, this pig-in-a-poke is pretty much useless to me.


Well, okay, here are the simple options for installing Linux:

  • Live USB works. Not really install, but it works.
  • Regular install on SD or USB should work. But don't forget to use noatime on the file system to help the flash life. The SD card pokes out a bit, so it has a physical disadvantage similar to the USB drive.
  • ライブ USB は機能します。本当はインストールではないのですが、確認しています。
  • SD もしくは USB に通常インストールは可能なはずです。フラッシュの寿命のため、 noatime を忘れないでください。 SD カードは完全に中に隠せなく、5ミリぐらい突き出るので、 USB に似た不便がある。
These are not really good options for regular use, so what I did was use a live USB (Fedora's Security Spin) to dump (dd) an image of the restore partition to the MSWindows C: drive. Now, I should be able to reconstruct the restore partition if I need to.

普通の利用には以上の選択肢は役に立ちません。したがって、ぼくがフェドラセキュリティスピンライブ USB を使って、 dd を使って復帰パーティションのイメージをMSウィンドーズの C: ドライブのファイルに写して保存しました。これで、必要があれば、復帰パーティションを再構築できるはずです。

When I have a little more money and time to work with, maybe I'll get a 16G USB drive and write the image to it, to see if I can boot and use the restore image from the USB drive.

もうちょっと経済と時間の余裕がある時、16ギガバイトの USB を買って、そのイメージを書き込んでみたい。復帰イメージが USB から起動して使えるか見てみたい。

Needless to say, the hidden third power button does not do what it used to.


That frees up a 15 GB primary partition for installing the OS to, but I still need a swap partition.

これで OS インストールのために 15 ギガバイトの基本パーティションを開放しましたが、スワップパーティションがまだできていません。

With some work, I could get Linux to use a swap file instead of a partition, but there's another way.


The D: drive is actually on an extended partition. No fragmentation yet. (I checked.) Just for good measure, I tar-red all the files on it over to the C: drive. Then I shrank the D: drive. Not as intellectually satisfying as LVM, but it gives room for swap (2G) and /home (4G) and a little for later on.

D: ドライブは拡張パーティションの中に在る。見ておいたら、断片化は全然進んでいなかった。万一の場合に備えて、tar を使って D: ドライブにあったファイルをすべて C: ドライブにコピーしてから D: ドライブを縮小しました。 LVM 程の理想感覚ではないのですが、スワップの2ギガバイト及び /home の4ギガバイト、また予備の場所を儲けることができました。

Then I just installed the Security Spin from the live USB. It's compact, so it fits just fine for now.

そのままセキュリティスピンをそのライブ USB からインストールしました。小容量なのでゆったりに入ってしまった。

I shrank the C: drive by half, as well, thinking ahead for when I want to remove the extended partition and make a much larger one, to get more room for stuff I haven't loaded yet.

先を考えて、 C: ドライブをも半分に縮小しておいた。いつか、拡張パーティションを抜いて、まだインストールしていない色んなもののためにもっと大きいパーティションを切れるようにしておいたのです。

Okay, so what should Docomo do? They should apply a little pressure to LG to get them to build the router update tool in Linux and Mac OS X versions. It's not that hard. And, Presto! No more reason for me to keep MSWindows around, no reason for playing stupid games with the partitions.

さて、ドコモに何やってほしい? LG に少しの圧力を掛けて、リナックス版及びマック版のルーター更新ツールを作ってもらってほしい。それほど難しいものではありません。それと、見てほら! MSウィンドーズを残す必要もなく、パーティション切り直しバカ遊びの必要もない。

If they want their Cross-i to compete with WiMax, they'd better do things like this.

Cross-i が WiMax との競争にのってほしいなら、こんなことを怠るのは賢明だはないでしょう。

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Need a good pocket calculator?

Wayne Madsen linked to Cory Doctorow's post on pi day, and I, like the fool I am, posted a bc session calculating pi to 1999 good digits. It goes like this:

$ bc -l
bc 1.06.95
Copyright 1991-1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details type `warranty'.
pi=a(1)*4; pi

You don't have to store pi in an intermediate variable, of course.

Doctorow's blog had a lot of feedback, and some of that inspired me to calculate the pi moment:

scale = 31
pi = a(1) * 4
date = (pi - 3) * 100
hour = (date - 14) * 24
minute = (hour - 3) * 60
second = (minnute - 49) * 60
second = (minute - 49) * 60

(Notice the woops with minnute, there. Also, notice that I have changed the evaluation between the date and the hour.)

March 14, 3:49:20.53 in the morning. FWIW.

bc allows defining functions, so you could write a general function that takes any decimal fraction and turn it into a moment.

Well, maybe not any. e, 2.7182818284590452353602874713526..., for instance.

There is, of course, no February 71st. Proof that it's easy to attempt to apply a system out of context. (I'm looking at you, Bill Gates. Take that abomination you call MS Office back off the market.)

Well, so bc is a pretty neat little calculator. (And so are Ruby and Python, among other full-blown languages.)

How do you get bc into your pocket?

Jailbreak your Android.

Don't try it on your iPhone, because you have to pay Apple something like a hundred dollars a year just to do things like this. And you have to have a stupid Intel processor Mac to do the development, last I heard. (I could almost forgive Intel the 8086 if they would just quit trying to kill the market for other processors and other companies, and if they would quit trying to take over the internet. Almost. That 8086 is never, ever, going to be power efficient, and we need power efficiency now. Intel, it's time to move over, get out of the way.)

Jailbreak your Android device, and if Android is too limiting, install Linux on it.