Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Wikipedia is NOT neutral, even on technical topics. 

Content is moderated by a relatively small group of editors, using esoteric and sometimes ridiculous policies known only to them. 

Content is not decided by expertise on the subject, but rather by expertise in wikipedia's policies. Dissenting views are not tolerated, and usually promptly deleted, even when posted by subject matter experts. 

Prudence would caution against using wikipedia for any serious research. 

It's OK for casual reading about mainstream culture, movies etc. Always remember that wikipedia conveys popular opinion, and not necessarily fact.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Intellectuals and the Dunning–Kruger effect

It's interesting that most people who call themselves "intellectuals" rarely come from a scientific/science-based background.

One would think that an academically proven aversion/inability for logical thought from a young age would be proof enough of one's disqualification for the title.

But then, as the Dunning–Kruger effect demonstrated, it's probably only natural that those who are poorer at reasoning are also incapable of realizing it.

My own personal theory is that this constant need to "be different" and go against any conventional thought - no matter how well supported by the facts - is born simply out of a deep rooted need to appear intelligent.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Everyone talks of having principles. Most people even believe they have them. They will follow them as much as they can, and compromise on them when they must.

In my mind, the only true people of principle are those who will stand by their principles even when it causes them significant inconvenience or discomfort.

Such people are very very rare.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The 12 best interactive Google Doodles

1. Les Paul's 96th Birthday

2. Robert Moog's 78th Birthday

3. 30th Anniversary of PAC-MAN

4. Alan Turing's 100th Birthday

5. Google Instant Launch

6. Hurdles 2012

7. Basketball 2012

8. Jules Verne's 183rd Birthday

9. Eadweard J. Muybridge's 182nd Birthday

10. Art Clokey's 90th Birthday

11. 25th Anniversary of the Buckyball

11. Total Lunar Eclipse. Live imagery provided by Slooh.

12. John Lennon's 70th Birthday

And two animated ones:

1. Mother's Day 2012

2. Martha Graham's 117th Birthday

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression is an absolute necessity to be able to criticize regressive dogmas. So it naturally has to include the right to offend.

But exhortation to violence serves no such purpose. Large groups of people are also prone to irrational, herd-like behavior. That's the reason even stock markets have circuit breakers.

Then there are things such as slander and libel to consider. If I'm accusing someone of something that can potentially be damaging to them, I need to be able to prove it in court if necessary.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Free to Choose: Some Key Points

"Free to Choose" is Nobel prize winning Economist Milton Friedman's 10-part documentary on why Free Markets are the best system for everyone - especially for improving the lot of the poor.

Some key points:

1. Free Markets provide people with the best and most economical goods because of competing Manufacturers, and the best Jobs because of competing Employers.

2. Consumer protection laws lead to fewer new products and producers, and monopolies by existing producers. Consumers would benefit more from open competition between Producers.

3. Similarly, Minimum Wage and Employee protection laws make it harder for workers to find new Employers. Employees would benefit more from open competition among Employers.

4. Union laws make it harder for non-union workers to secure employment. Union and Immigration Laws make it difficult for Industries to hire the best labor and be competent.

5. Till the great depression - which was caused by Government monetary mismanagement - the United States did not have Income Tax or Support Programs. Before the Support Programs, there was no need for Immigration Laws since everyone supported themselves.

6. Trade and Import Tariffs benefit existing businesses unfairly. They prevent upcoming new industries from getting competitive raw materials from abroad, and prevent ordinary people from having a better quality of life.

7. Societies that try to establish greater equality by restricting freedom usually do more harm than good to the poor. Government support programs and subsidies - though well intentioned - stifle the economy, reduce opportunity, create wastage and dis-incentivize Industry.

8. Public educational systems lack incentive to compete and improve. Competition among private schools and colleges would result in more and better education for everyone.

9. Inflation erodes society. Government has exclusive control of the money supply and the only real cure for inflation is to slow the printing presses. This produces the painful - but temporary - side effects of a increase in unemployment and reduced economic growth. But in the long run, stopping inflation benefits everyone.

10. Environmental concerns should be addressed constitutionally as a part of private property disputes, without hindering Free Enterprise.

11. Governments should be restricted to providing Security (Internal and External) and Dispute Resolution, thus also ensuring the efficient functioning of Free Markets.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A more reliable interview process for computer programmers

One of the first things I noticed in the software industry, was that verbal technical interviews tended to highly unreliable. On many occasions, I had observed average performers at work clear interviews that top performers had not. The former didn’t know much about programming computers, but were very good at clearing interviews. They had the confidence and knew the answers to all the usual interview questions, which they usually brushed up on the previous day.

As an interviewer from Google once remarked, some candidates were often extremely knowledgeable in interviews, but in practice, could not code the most basic programs in any language.

The problem is that verbal technical interviews rely largely on communication and confidence. Confidence is normally considered a sign of ability but the two are not actually correlated. Studies have shown that mildly capable people often tend to be more confident than extremely capable people (Dunning–Kruger effect). But as the average performer’s abilities improved, so did his awareness of his own shortcomings, thus bringing his confidence down to more realistic levels.

The problem can be much more acute in a field as abstract as computer programming, and it was made worse by the fact that most technical interviews were usually conducted by engineers who were not able to get development work. So not only were the interviewers less skilled, they would select candidates more like themselves; consciously or subconsciously asking the ones they liked the wrong questions.

My solution as an interviewer was to eliminate the verbal technical interview altogether. Instead, all potential candidates were given a simple programming problem to solve on paper - using any algorithm and any language they liked. Syntax was not checked and there was no specific time limit. The result was edifying. A person would either solve the problem in 15 minutes, or not at all.

Typically, out of a group 30 candidates, 25 could be eliminated this way in 15 minutes. The Team Leads and HR were then free to interview the others at their leisure. The technical ability of the remaining candidates was no longer in doubt, just their fit. Most rejected candidates would not even contest the results. A few disagreed, but with a laptop, could quickly be shown the flaws in their code.

Suddenly, the technical interview had become a lot more open, fair, faster and reliable. Instead of testing what someone can memorize, the interview now checked how a person thought and worked on a day to day basis. The same abstractness and peculiarity of programming that had made verbal technical interviews so subjective, now made it far easier to find the best candidates.

In fact, computer programming is probably one of the few fields in which such a direct test of aptitude is possible and yields such accurate results.

A Simple JavaScript Redirect Timer

<p class="lead">If this page does not redirect automatically, please <a href="/congratulations">click here</a>.</p> <p class="lead">Redirecting in <span id="DispSec">5</span> seconds.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> TimerSeconds = 5; var TimerVar = setInterval(startTimer, 1000); function startTimer() { if (TimerSeconds < 1) { clearInterval(TimerVar); location.href = "congratulations"; } document.getElementById("DispSec").innerHTML = TimerSeconds; TimerSeconds--; } </script>

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Add meta tags to a Drupal 7 view without adding or writing a module

Add the following PHP code to a new Header or Footer element in the View.

$element = array(
  '#tag' => 'meta',
  '#attributes' => array( // Set up an array of attributes inside the tag
    'name' => 'description',
    'content' => 'Your view description.',
drupal_add_html_head($element, 'yourviewname_meta_desc');

Friday, May 23, 2014

routerlogin.net not found

When confirguring your Netgear router, if you're not able to access the router settings at routerlogin.net, try directly using the IP address in your browser

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Opening email links in gmail on Mac OSX

Just set the default email reader on OSX Mail to the Chrome browser.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Open Source Software is more secure

It's amusing how even "Architects" in MS Product Companies think Open Source Software is less secure.

That's like saying a bank is safer if it's in a remote location.
Or locks from unknown companies are safer than locks from known ones.

Proprietary Software relies on loopholes not being found.
Open Source Software relies on not having loopholes.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Adding PECL Uploadprogress to 1and1 shared hosting for Drupal

Drupal status page message:
"Upload progress Not enabled 
Your server is capable of displaying file upload progress, but does not have the required libraries. It is recommended to install the PECL uploadprogress library (prefered) or to install APC."
Solution From http://jheslop.com/2009/05/27/adding-pecl-uploadprogress-to-11-shared-hosting-for-drupal-filefield/
  • Download PECL uploadaccess to your 1&1 account
  • Extract the package
    tar xvzf uploadprogress-1.0.0.tgz
  • Go into the directory
    cd uploadprogress-1.0.0
  • Run phpize5
  • Change php-config to php-config5 in configure script
    sed -i 's/=php-config/=php-config5/g' configure
  • Run Configure
  • Change include directives in Makefile
    sed -i 's#-I/usr/local/include/php#-I/usr/include/php5#g' Makefile
  • Run make and make test
    make test
  • Make new extensions folder for new extension to go in
    mkdir ~/extensions
  • Copy uploadprogress extension to new folder
    cp .libs/uploadprogress.so ~/extensions/
  • Create new php.ini under your main folder (or under a single subfolder for just that application) to add new extension_dir then add this code to the file
That should be it. You should now be able to see the “Upload progress Enabled (PECL uploadprogress)” on the admin/reports/status page in Drupal.

1. The php.ini file needs to be in the application root folder, not the hosting root.
2. Use "pwd" to find exact 1and1 server path.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

MySql Drop All Tables

One line command:

mysqldump -u[user] -p[ssht...] --add-drop-table --no-data [DATABASE] | grep ^DROP | mysql -u[user] -p[sshht...] [DATABASE]

Can also be used with the -h option in both places.
If you use the empty -p options, you'll have to enter the password twice after running the command. The 2nd time, the password will show in clear text while typing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fixing an MBP OSX Superdrive that's rejecting DVDs

A lot of discussions online give this solution for fixing an MBP Superdrive that's acting out or rejecting DVDs.

1. Switch off Mac
2. Wrap the thin screen wiping cloth around a thin visiting card
3. Insert gently in Superdrive for about 2cm and clean side-to-side (the lens is supposedly a little to the left).

Unbelievable as it sounds, it worked for me too!
Try it at your own risk, of course.