Monthly Archives: December 2013

Collected Quotes November-December 2013

My main page on quotes is Quotes to Make You Think. Additional ones can be found under the Quotes tag.

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world. — Michael Crichton

The men who cannot laugh at themselves frighten me even more than those who laugh at everything. — Anne Perry

It always seems impossible until it’s done. — Nelson Mandela

Anyone can be a barbarian; it requires a terrible effort to remain a civilized man. — Leonard Woolf

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t. — Bill Nye

Two is company, four is a party, three is a crowd. One is a wanderer. — James Thurber

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2013 Reading List

By author with links to reviews where they were.

  1. DONE — Adams, Richard — Watership Down
  2. DONE — Aesop — Aesop’s Fables; a new translation
  3. DONE — Ariely, Dan — Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
  4. DONE — Ariely, Dan — The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
  5. DONE — Ariely, Dan — The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves
  6. DONE — Atwood, Margaret  — The Handmaid’s Tale
  7. DONE — Baum, L. Frank — The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1)
  8. DONE — Baum, L. Frank — The Marvelous Land of Oz
  9. DONE — Baum, L. Frank — Ozma of Oz
  10. DONE (review) — Baum, L. Frank — Dorothy And the Wizard in Oz (Oz, #4)
  11. DONE (review) — Booth, Martin — The American: A Special Edition of A Very Private Gentleman
  12. DONE — Brown, Dan — Angels & Demons
  13. DONE — Conrad, Joseph — Heart of Darkness
  14. DONE (review) — Du Bois, W.E.B. — The Souls of Black Folk
  15. DONE — Dumas, Alexandre — Twenty Years After
  16. DONE (review) — Dweck, Carol S. — Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  17. DONE — Eliot, T.S. — The Waste Land
  18. DONE — Erikson, Steven — Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #7)
  19. DONE — Erikson, Steven — Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8)
  20. DONE — Erikson, Steven — Dust of Dreams (The Malazan Book Of The Fallen #9)
  21. DONE — Erikson, Steven — The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10)
  22. DONE — Feynman, Richard P. — Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman
  23. DONE — Fitzgerald, F. Scott  — The Great Gatsby
  24. DONE — Gibbons, Stella — Cold Comfort Farm
  25. DONE (review) — Gladwell, Malcolm — What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures
  26. DONE — Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Karl and Grimm, Wilhelm Karl — Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales
  27. DONE — Johnson, James Weldon — The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  28. DONE (review) — Jones, Diana Wynne — Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1)
  29. DONE — Harris, Sam — Lying
  30. DONE — Hosseini, Khaled — The Kite Runner
  31. DONE — Howard, Robert E. — The Conquering Sword of Conan
  32. DONE — Howard, Robert E. — The Bloody Crown of Conan
  33. DONE (review) — Howarth, Patrick — Attila: King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth
  34. DONE — Kingsley, Charles — The Heroes, or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children
  35. DONE (review) — Kingsolver, Barbara — The Poisonwood Bible
  36. DONE — Knowles, James — The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights
  37. DONE (review) — Kosiński, Jerzy — The Painted Bird
  38. DONE — Leiber, Fritz — Swords Against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #2)
  39. DONE — Leonard, Elmore — Pronto (Raylan Givens, #1)
  40. DONE — Leonard, Elmore — Riding the Rap (Raylan Givens, #2)
  41. DONE — Leonard, Elmore — Rum Punch
  42. DONE — Levitt, Steven D. — SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  43. DONE — Matthews, David — Ace of Spades: A Memoir
  44. DONE (review) — Northup, Solomon — Twelve Years a Slave
  45. DONE (review) — Pálsson, Hermann — Seven Viking Romances
  46. DONE (review) — Pink, Daniel H. — Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  47. DONE — Prasad, Chandra — Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience
  48. DONE (review) — Roth, Veronica — Divergent (Divergent, #1)
  49. DONE — Rudgley, Richard — The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age
  50. DONE — Sagan, Carl — The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
  51. DONE (review) — Sanders, J. Victoria — Single & Happy: The Party of Ones
  52. DONE (review) — Schmier, Louis — Chant of Ages; Cry of Cotton: The Biography of a South Georgia Jewish Community’s Beginnings 1865-1908
  53. DONE (review) — Semple, Maria — Where’d You Go, Bernadette
  54. DONE — Shelley, Mary — Frankenstein
  55. DONE — Simpson, David — Sub-Human
  56. DONE — Simpson, David — Post-Human
  57. DONE — Simpson, David — Trans-Human
  58. DONE (review) — Singh, Simon — Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
  59. DONE (review) — Steinhardt, Paul J. — Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang
  60. DONE — Stoker, Bram — Dracula
  61. DONE (review) — Stowe, Harriet Beecher — Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  62. DONE — Swift, Jonathan — Gulliver’s Travels
  63. DONE — Tippett, Krista — Einstein’s God
  64. DONE — Verne, Jules — Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
  65. IN PROGRESS — Washington, Booker T. — Up from Slavery: an autobiography
  66. DONE — Webb, Amy — Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match
  67. DONE — Wein, Elizabeth — Code Name Verity 

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Netflix Content Expiring Jan 1st

Yesterday a friend pointed out Netflix is dropping some content on January 1st. This was in relation to the movie of a book we read for a book club earlier this month. So last night, while watching the movie, I noted through the web site all the movies in my list set to expire by the note “Available until <date>” under the thumbnail. They were:

  • Alice in Wonderland (Jan 4th)
  • Battle for Britain
  • Biloxi Blues
  • Stargate Continuum
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth
  • Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Netflix dropped Stargate SG-1 a while ago, and I am not far enough into the series to warrant watching either of those movies, so that meant just three more movies to watch by the 1st. That seemed doable, so I planned to this weekend watch the other 3.


The indicator upon which I depended is inaccurate. I use an app on my Bluray player to watch on my television and going through my list to find these, I found more movies are expiring. “Clue” for instance according to the Bluray app expires on the first but lacks such an indication on the web at all. There are another 13 who I was able to identify this way.

So it is more like 16 to watch. Ugh. Guess I will have to prioritize.


from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Review: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to learn more about how to use the growth mindset. I personally tend to fall too much into the fixed mindset. Only this book fell too much into the Self-Help traps:

  • “This is how I am. What worked for me.” Or other individuals Carol advised. Only, the readers are not Carol and are not the benefitting from mistakes. I am doubtful of magical cases where a single sentence or paragraph magically changed everything.
  • Testimonials in a book are like an author on Amazon writing his own reviews. Only the positive results are indicated. Which, is funny given the growth mindset being advocated in this book is about learning from mistakes. Yet the author’s mistakes in this work are hidden.

I spent too long frustrated by the Self-Help nature of the first 300 pages to enjoy it. Read the first chapter of [b:Nutureshock] instead and the last chapter of this book.

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Amazon Cloud Player Confusion

When I hit the play/pause button the keyboard, a completely different song starts playing while the one I wanted to stop pauses. I kept hitting the button and listening to them alternate back and forth. Very odd behavior until I figured it out.

Apparently both my normal MP3 player software and Amazon Cloud Player (ACP) are aware of the play/pause button on my keyboard which I use to start or stop the music. Probably I was playing my normal MP3 player and hit pause, which paused it and started ACP.

Amazon had a $5 album sale, so I bought a few. They push their Cloud Player software as the method to download the MP3 files to my computer. I’ve given up trying to fight it.

But maybe that was mistake.

Amazon really wants me to use their software for my player. But I really do not want to use it. I only ever have it running when it launches to download songs. I usually immediately close it after that.

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Review: Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An autobiography about a mixed race free man kidnapped into slavery hit a little too close to home. His experience being free made acclimating to the difficult masters more challenging. More amazing me is he did not break under the weight of the life and give up on ever finding a way home.

Some of the quotes I highlighted:

Suffice it to say, during the whole long day I came not to the conclusion, even once, that the southern slave, fed, clothed, whipped and protected by his master, is happier than the free colored citizen of the North.

There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones—there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there are surely those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust and barbarous one.

Ten years I toiled for that man without reward. Ten years of my incessant labor has contributed to increase the bulk of his possessions. Ten years I was compelled to address him with down-cast eyes and uncovered head—in the attitude and language of a slave. I am indebted to him for nothing, save undeserved abuse and stripes.

They are deceived who flatter themselves that the ignorant and debased slave has no conception of the magnitude of his wrongs. They are deceived who imagine that he arises from his knees, with back lacerated and bleeding, cherishing only a spirit of meekness and forgiveness. A day may come—it will come, if his prayer is heard—a terrible day of vengeance, when the master in his turn will cry in vain for mercy.

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Counting Folders

Back in June, after a whole seven months in our system, one of our clients hit Microsoft’s limit in the max number of folders within a folder. They are on track to do it again a year later.

I lost the first script I wrote to figure out which directories were affected, so I wrote a new one yesterday. The problem directories are all in the same path with the schoolcode\courses as the name. A configuration for the name of the folder to use for the school has the application create new folders for each new course at this location. When this folder fills up, the solution is to add a number to that name so a new folder is created and subsequent courses put there. So I looked for all directories fitting this pattern. Then I loop through the list and count the number of objects in each directory and post to the output this count.

$logdate = Get-Date -uformat "%Y%m%d%H%M"
$sites = 'nas1 nas2'
# Loop through each NAS
foreach ($site in $sites)

# Compile the list of directories for NAS
$dirlist = Get-ChildItem \\$site\share\path\to\client_stuff\*\courses*
# Loop through found directories
foreach ($diritem in $dirlist)

# Count
$getcount = (Get-ChildItem $diritem).Count
# Post to output
Add-Content \\nas1\share\to\scripts\LOGS\count_directories_$logdate.log "$diritem  ==  $getcount"



Obviously, I do not really want to run this script every term or even six months. So I really need to design a check for our monitor service. It might report any who cross over 50,000. That would give us a 15,533 cushion to have configuration changed to start using a new folder. The correct threshold is hard to choose. As is, it is slightly bigger than the largest term for our largest client. It would ensure no surprises. With something like 5,000 it is possible for us to get no warning one day, then the start of a new term hit the limit when the client sent 14,795 courses for the Fall 2013 term. But really only that one school has this problem. The next two largest clients had 8,246 and 6,364 courses for Fall 2013. (Combined almost the same as the biggest.)

Really, though, the problem with a check is Powershell takes 2 hours to count this amount of stuff. So probably I need to record this data to a database and have the monitor check this database.

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10.2 Upgrade

Later this week both of our production systems will get upgraded from Desire2Learn 9.4.1 to 10.2. This will be an epic effort. Over several days a few dozen people will work on various aspect of the databases, application servers, and testing. Good ‘ole clean IT fun just in time for Christmas. Finding the magical gap between classes and end of term was hard enough when our upgrades took a day. These multi-day ones are much tougher.

Back at FUSION a coworker and I attended a presentation by the team lead for D2L’s Automation group. Thankfully the excellent work from there will be used as part of the upgrade to identify problems earlier. Also, our client testing appears to take a leap forward to automating testing. (We need to take a light year leap forward with application level monitoring.)

Six months of work will be complete.

Then we get to turn around and do it again for May.

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Hands on Their Hips

Over the past couple months during football or football[1] games, I noticed announcers refer to defensive players already having hands on their hips. They mean the defensive players are already tired and out of breath, so breathing more heavily than they should. Also, the players are ready to be broken by the offensive players.

So, I was curious. Is this a universal behavior? The lazy person that I am, instead of running a bunch and seeing whether or not I did it over and over, I queried Google. An interesting answer to, “When we get out of breath, why do we put our hands on our hips?” kind of made sense:

When you do so, it takes the weight of your arms off your lungs, which allows them to get more air into them and increase the oxygen to your body.

[1] For United States readers: soccer or American Football.

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Review: The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was originally Glasgow University Gifford Lectures for the theme The Search for Who We Are in 1985. Sagan does a great job explaining difficult concepts clearly and with compelling evidence. Unfortunately, in several places I also knew about the contrary evidence which undermines his position. That they were not addressed very much disappointed me.

I mentioned this book in my Evidence blog post a few days ago. The search for proof is never ending because new information leads to new questions not satisfactory answers. So why do we continue to search? Because we want to know. Maybe we even feel entitled to know. (I also mentioned it in my Missing Hydrocarbons when I learned the point methane condenses is way out near Saturn not Earth, so why does Earth have life?)

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