Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Brief history reminder

Remember the man named

This is basically my response to which I can't help but interpret as hilarious for its framing and sad if there is a shred of sincerity to it. If there is to be another glorious revolution (and we all know what side of the spectrum it will come from) there will be a lot of heads for the block, backs to the wall, and general in-group vs. other in-group killing. And as the bloodlust consumes all not even the ringleaders have a good chance of surviving.

All I'm saying is that if all you have is a paper saying "See?! I endorsed your side!" you in fact have nothing. Make better contingency plans than paper if you're legitimately worried about being a target.

See Full Post and Comments

Nim is a cool language

If you haven't heard of Nim, you're missing out. Just google it -- there are some great blogs about why it's amazing. I found another one the other day, and thought it was an interesting topic to continue for myself. That blog is "Nim is the best programming language!" which I don't agree with, but that post is more about what the author looks for in a new language, and what is totally irrelevant. My views differ and yet we both came to love Nim.

I wrote a comment a while back summarizing what I thought are the "hooks" of Nim. The tldr quoting myself a bit is that Nim is fast (at or faster than hand C), supports all three of optional, tunable, implementation-swappable garbage collecting with access to malloc/free, easily embeds C or asm directly, has easy C interfacing, has static typing (mostly downside or me) but usefully inferred so it's often out of the way but also has useful builtin types like sized ints, plus it has distinct types, there are lots of compiler pragmas (common one being inline), user-defined compiler demands to make optimizations via term-rewriting macros, flexible name and calling semantics so that people can use their style preferences even when using third party libs, and finally Nim has an awareness of and support for many higher level language features enjoyed by other languages plus uses its not-exactly-Haskell-level static typing smartly unlike some languages that begin with g and end with o.

OK, so that's really the things that drew me into Nim, but the blog I linked earlier lays it out in a different manner of explicit non-criteria and criteria for whether he looks into a language or not. Let's do the same.

See Full Post and Comments

There is no victory

With a few, minor successes fighting back against the people who don't want the rest of us to go about our lives without sticking politics (of any sort) into everything, against the people who find the idea of "live and let live" (to any extent) abhorrent, some (like Milo) on the alt-right are encouraged and feel like now is the chance to defeat the crazy extreme left and that if they are defeated at the height of their power they will never come back.


I'm not going to try and argue why this sentiment is obviously silly. Instead I'll just muse about what is to be done, given that victory cannot be achieved.

See Full Post and Comments

No white pride here

I originally had a decent write up on this subject last month, but I lost it due to a PEBKAC issue. Anyway, I've felt the urge to write it up again, at least in part, so let's give it a shot... I'm afraid it's turned out somewhat worse the second time around, so like most of this blog reading will probably be restricted to myself in the future. Loosely structured ideas don't make for great reading by others. :)

First, to the supposed person who feels "proud" to be white (not talking about white supremacy, just ethnic pride in general), what do you mean by "white"? Because "white people" are pretty varied ethnically (just as Africans and Asians and Middle Easterners are). Are Saxons white? Are British white? And Normans white? Are Italians white? Are Greeks white? Are Croatians white? Are Slavs white? Are Russians white? Are Finnish white? Do these divisions make sense, what about others? Where do you stand on Jews? And what about "purity"? According to 23andMe I'm 100% European -- 98.5% of which is Northwestern European, and 63.1% of that "British & Irish". So, pretty white. But if you're only, say, 80% European, but your skin is more fair than dark or olive, are you white enough that you can have no problem feeling white pride?

I read the excellent A Field Guide To White Trash about a week ago and that helped spur me to write this. Just in America, there is a variety of ethnic groups of pretty different white people, who in the past fought each other in what we'd now call race wars. I'd like to go back in time and ask them if they feel "white pride" or something more specific like "Italian pride" sometime, or whether the concept of pride in their race just seems like an absurd idea to them, as it does to me, for reasons on what it means to feel pride. In any case, we must conclude that "white" is this generic ethnic cluster blob correlating with fairer skin. This is sort of okay because we're also clustering other ethnicities (like "blacks") into big ethnic blobs, though there is a caveat that in America, "black" is a much narrower subset of ethnic variation (due to slavery and subsequent mixing) than "African".

See Full Post and Comments

Apple should form its own country

Just watching the shenanigans continue to unfold, my opinion from has changed a bit. Fuck the FBI.

See Full Post and Comments

Apple should bow to the court

Unlike most of the internet, I'm in favor of the Feds compelling Apple to "unlock" the terrorist's iPhone. This is because I'm a proponent of Order and because I'm familiar with the technical details.

On the side of Order, I find myself aligning with Trump. The federal government has given a US company an order, and the US company is fighting it. (Amusingly they weren't planning on doing so until another judge suggested it.) Generally speaking, when the entity in charge gives an order, the subordinates should follow it. This is the Way to keep good order and established hierarchies. There are precious few scenarios where it makes sense to rebel instead, and I don't think this is one of them.

On the side of the technical details: even if Apple does what the feds want, that doesn't necessarily help the feds. This is because all they want Apple to do is disable the wipe-device-after-n-passcode-attempts feature, and maybe to also delay any artificial time limits between attempts that aren't inherently due to the key derivation scheme. All this so that they can have an easier time brute-forcing the device. In theory. Yeah they can hire some kid to try 0000-9999 for super cheap, and if that fails inserting a device under the touchscreen to quickly try 000000-999999, but if the passcode is a lot longer, or text-based, then it can quickly become as difficult as brute-forcing "Zero reverberate business digital work most failure offset!" -- that is to say basically impossible. A strong passphrase is immune to Apple working with the feds or not, because Apple has already done the right thing by not storing the plaintext anywhere.

See Full Post and Comments

Automated anonymous surveying

Jonathan Blow was recently quoted in media as saying: "...piracy rates for PC games are often 85-90 percent. That's true. If 10 percent of people who pirate games would buy the games, that would double profits. Double! That's insane. That's the difference between starving to death and being comfortable enough to make the next game." This bugged me for a few reasons, and this from someone who never pirates games.

First check: does the math make sense? (Skip to the last parenthetical, it sort of does.) If you sell your game for $10, and get 100 customers, you've made $1000. But if the piracy rate means that if you track the count of legit users and track the count of pirate users (assuming none overlap, I'll get to that) you should see around 85-90 pirate users per 100 legit users. In other words, another $850-$900 in missing sales. If just 10 percent of those 85-90, 8.5-9, we'll round to 9, bought the game, that would result in an increase in sales by $90, bringing the total to $1090. This is nowhere near "double" revenue, but can it be double profit? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what he means by his whole remark -- perhaps he means for his game in particular? But he hasn't made a profit yet, so that seems doubtful. The only way the statement could be true is if the game cost $910 to make. If that is true, then at 100 sales, you've made $90. And if 10% of the pirate users paid, you've made another $90, doubling your profits. But this doesn't hold for any further periods of time. If after the game has been around for a while, you have made 1000 sales total (and there are now 900 pirates), you have made $10,000 in total sales, and a total profit of $8,090. Now assume 10% of those pirates now pay, or 90 users, that would net you an additional $900 in profit. This is far short of double profit. So his statement makes no sense mathematically, at least to me. (Okay, let's try one more time... Let's suppose that a 90% piracy rate means that if there are 100 copies of a game out there, 90 of them are pirated, and only 10 of them are legit individual sales. Look at 1000 copies out there, only 100 legit, total sales is thus $1000, let's say the game cost $100 to make, so profit is $900. If 90/900 pirates bought, that's an extra $900, so double profit. As you increase the number of copies, or take the cost-to-create to $0, the limit is actually 1.9 though, not strictly double. I assume this is what was meant.)

Second check: you're ignoring the possibility that 10% of people who pirate games haven't also already bought your game, before or after pirating. If this possibility is true, and if we also assume the remark is true (in whatever way), then if you waved a magic wand to suddenly get rid of piracy, your profits could halve!

See Full Post and Comments