5 March 2014

Great moments in US intelligence

« U.S. intelligence estimates conclude that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine. […] A senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that the timing of the military exercise, coming only days after the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was suspicious. But nonetheless, U.S. intelligence agencies have collected no information suggesting the training exercises were preparation for an invasion. » — 2014-02-27 « Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials are preparing a series of possible battle plans for a potential economic assault on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, an administration source close to the issue told The Daily Beast. ... Read more

4 March 2014

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim recently. I was late to this particular party for a couple of reasons. One is that I hate DLC; or more precisely, I hate how DLC has effectively doubled the price of games, so I was waiting for the Skyrim: Game of the Year Edition (aka the “Legendary Edition”) to come out, with the entire game on the disc. But the other reason is that I really hated the previous game in the series, Oblivion, so buying Skyrim was a bit of a risk, and hence I waited until I happened to see it for $30. ... Read more

17 February 2014

Harry who?

I’ve often thought that in a way, it must have been easier to be a great world-famous philosopher, artist, scientist or whatever back in the distant past, because there was so much less competition. Sure, Aristotle was a great philosopher, but his ideas about the laws of motion were crackpot stuff. Plus, there were fewer than 200m people in the world at that time. So that’s like being one of the smartest guys posting on LinkedIn. ... Read more

13 February 2014

The terrible cost of free doughnuts

During the Second World War, the Red Cross provided free doughnuts to US troops fighting in Europe. Then they started charging 2¢ for a doughnut and coffee. 70 years later, veterans still haven’t gotten over that betrayal. NPR Planet Money explain why: basically, it comes down to the special nature of “free”, and the fact that the change altered the perceived relationship between the Red Cross and the veterans, from “friendly charity” to “money-making business”. ... Read more

4 February 2014

Running a web site in 2014

I recently did some work on the back end of my web sites. I consolidated all the individual WordPress installs into a single multi-user one, cleaned up the database to free up disk space, and slimmed down the number of plugins. I’m taking advantage of Automattic’s Jetpack plugin to provide functionality that previously required a bunch of third party plugins, including: Markdown support (including in comments) “Like” buttons for social network sharing Mobile device support Push notifications when someone comments Comment login via social networks E-mail subscriptions It wasn’t long before I got some mild negative feedback: My changing the login system meant that some comments got flagged as spam which shouldn’t have been, so I had to go in and unflag them. ... Read more

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