Long time no post... I wonder why? (Music, Politics and More)

Hello everybody,

It's been quite a while since I last posted on the blog. Why? Well, it's a number of things:

Everyone's going nuts over politics, and has polarized. I'd post about political stuff, but I just don't have the heart for it. Partly this is because I've recently found that I lose friends when I talk politics (I don't automatically slew in the direction of my friends on every issue even though I'm a bleeding-hearty lefty - I prefer nuance, and right now there's none). I'm not willing to compromise my principles or ignore facts or skip analysis, so away from politics I go.

Work has been busy. I've been doing new and interesting things, some of which may or may not pan out... But as a result, I've been trying not to blog. I discovered many years ago that writing kind of shifts a gear in my head - and I don't want to get stuck in that gear. It can take weeks for me to shift back, so I've been avoiding it. Instead, I've been working on music.

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Lessons Learned from Camping

Pooping is easier without pants, especially when you had to dig a hole first.

Try to poop before sunset. It's way scarier in the dark.

Bring a real shovel. Emergency snow shovels don't do a great job of digging poop holes. (I had a hunch.... so I brought a real shovel).

Ants will mostly leave you alone, even if they have a massive 15-foot across anthill, if you dump a small amount of food on the hill as a ritual offering.

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Leaving Quora

Quora recently changed the site in some heinous ways. They removed the details from all questions, because they're trying to make sure that there's only one "canonical question" you can search for an answer to.

Quora Logo

Unfortunately this destroys nuance - after all, there's only so much detail you can put into 250 characters.

So in response, I'm going to start migrating all of my question answers on Quora to my blog. It's going to take a while, but hey, more content for the blog.

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The Paradox of Empathy

The problem with empathy is that too much of it is bad, and too little of it is bad.

Too little empathy, and you're an uncaring sociopath who doesn't care about others' wellbeing.

Empathy is great when it comes to doing nice things for nice people when everything's going well. That's the easy scenario.

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Tips for New Programmers

A few minor things they might not cover in whatever book or class you're using (and way more important than ancient maxims like Keep It Simple Stupid)...

Writing Comments in your Code

Documenting intent in code comments is important. Some programmers believe that the source code is the documentation - they've never had to maintain someone else's code.

Documenting what each line of code does, however, isn't desirable, unless it's not obvious. So comments like "This implements a piecewise-linear approximation of a sin() function" - awesome.

Comments like "This adds 1 to the count" - terrible, unless it's some ungodly mess of functions to do that thing - in which case, there's probably something horribly wrong with the code, and the reason for that mess is worth documenting, not what it does.

Write Readable Code

Write readable code. Readable is more important than optimal - because code always has bugs. (And you in 6 months time will thank you).

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