microsoft news

REDMOND, Wash., Oct 8, 2018 /PRNoisewire/ — On Monday, Microsoft Corp. announced new in-field promotions for users of the Windows 10 operating system. In a news brief, Microsoft CEO Natya Sadella says the company will replace existing STEs (Software Test Engineers) at the company with the product users themselves, removing the unnecessary positions at Microsoft. “By promoting our own users to in-field STEs, we’re streamlining the process of identifying and eventually dealing with the bugs in our operating system…, not that there are many.”

“Understandably, these are of course unpaid intern positions being offered to each user of Windows 10 but just think how great that will look on their resumes”, Sadella continued. “Who doesn’t want to work at Microsoft?”

MICROSOFT CORP- LOGO Logo

“We’ll be allowing Windows 10 users to include this position on their resumes for free for a period of twelve months. Afterwards, they may continue to do so by signing up with Microsoft ResumeFodder 365 on a month-by-month basis”, Sadella explained.

Nasdaq:MSFT responded favorably to the news, up $3.52 at market close.

one-line edit, no more google $$$

In reading articles today entitled “You can’t boycott Google” and “They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They failed.” I would suggest that neither Adrianne Jeffries nor Jack Nicas, respectively, understand the power of activism. People do have personal power but only if they’re willing to accept this fact.

Case in point, today I made a one-line edit to my laptop’s hosts file. It’s so easy that it only took a moment of my time. And what great thing, you might ask, did I accomplish doing so? In a one-line edit, I just removed Google’s revenue stream for their search engine.

In a one-line edit, I just removed Google’s revenue stream for their search engine.

2jjzsp

Remove Google’s adSense from Websites You Visit

The beauty in all this is the simplicity. Even the mighty Achilles had his weakness in the form of a vulnerable heal. Much of Google’s ongoing stream of income relies upon those ad impressions. Remove the impressions and you remove their revenue.

Remove the [Google ad] impressions and you remove their revenue.

And let’s face it, we didn’t really want to see those ads in the first place. They’re annoying, they vie for your attention in ever-newer distracting ways and they use your paid-for bandwidth all the while and without your permission.

  • OSX:  Open a Terminal and enter the command: sudo nano /private/etc/hosts
  • Windows:  Start -> Run -> cmd -> Choose the option to Run As Administrator, notepad c:\windows\system\drivers\etc\hosts

In either case, add the following line and save/exit: 127.0.0.1     *.googlesyndication.com

Let’s See the Difference

Going now to the website which apparently ranks the highest in Google adSense revenue, I show what their website looks like without those ads.

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See all those empty regions? Yep, those were the ads. The page loads faster. The page doesn’t now try to update the ads while I’m trying to simply read the content. It’s now a lot quieter and easier to take in the information.

Less Impressions -> Now You Have Google’s Attention

This is all it will take to make a difference in the world. If others follow suit and take my advice, this revelation of personal power as seen in the aggregate might just change the way these big players operate.

It’s all up to you, though. What do you really have to lose (other than those unwanted advertisements)?

logistics

A while back and for an entire year, I did logistics for a third-of-a-million-square-foot plastic manufacturing plant in Tennessee. It looks like I may be returning soon to this field but in a decidedly-cooler sort of way.

Then

For that plant, I managed nearly every aspect of the company’s business: accounting, inventory, carriers, shipping/receiving, purchasing, documentation and labeling, systems design and management, website design and implementation, processes to improve productivity, you-name-it. Basically, I took over every aspect of my manager’s job except for welding and aluminum mold fabrication.

Daily, I drove a forklift and a pallet jack. I unloaded and loaded shipments. I climbed 60′ racks without any safety gear holding a clipboard in my teeth to do inventories. I mixed more tons of plastic by hand than I can remember, lifting each 30# bucket over and over again. With a forklift, I pulled replacement molds for the crew from inventory.

I ran a CNC machine to cut both plastic and wooden parts. I assembled pallets of parts, always optimizing so that the customer would pay the least for their order.

I drove a scissor-lift to 70′ to replace industrial-sized lightbulbs. I wired 120/240VAC circuits, sometimes three-phase. I repaired a CNC machine, the joystick control on the scissor-lift and the half-million dollar robotic ovens by Rotoline.

I swept the floors, I picked up and recycled parts dropped by the day crew, always being careful to remove anything from the floor which could puncture a tire. I drained water from the air lines. I both figuratively and literally put out fires.

I did color studies to make sure that the plastic was to specifications. I staged multi-truckload orders so that the correct several hundred pallets made it onto those trucks.

I maintained inventory levels for everything that went into these parts whether it was shrink-wrap, tape, labels, bolts, screws, raw plastic, colorants or the large cylinders of material which go into making foam. And yes, I manned a foam station at times.

I designed a layout and colors for the showroom floor and then stained its concrete to look like a beach. It turned out beautifully, btw. I could throw a roll of labels to the line crew at at distance of 40 yards and right into the hands of the intended receiver, saving all those steps and time.

I did cost accounting, determining that they were losing $6 each on their best-selling item. Across-the-board, I adjusted their prices and shipping quantities which actually resulted in happier customers.

In the span of just one year there, I doubled their sales, doubled the pallets shipped and most importantly, doubled their profits. Sixty thousand parts went out the door in 12 months.

Now

Today, it looks like I might be returning to this world in order to automate this same industry with technology. As a software developer in the IoT space, I’ll be challenged to deliver logistics solutions. Fortunately, I have the unique cross-experience of developer and logistics manager in one. I think I’ve got this one.

Academia

When I imagine the average college graduate tackling this same assignment, I have to just shake my head. How could the average college-trained engineer or MBA ever truly understand what it’s like to manage a warehouse and to manage supply chains?

In fact, I can’t even imagine the curriculum that could be crafted to take someone in a classroom setting alone and adequately prepare them for a task like this. Frankly, only back-breaking labor can prepare you for a task like this. Only existing in a warehouse day after day could prepare you for this.

Frankly, only back-breaking labor can prepare you for a task like this.

In my humble opinion, labor is missing from the academic path to success. And hard labor—the kind that can’t be accomplished in a business shirt—is the difference between success and failure in life.

Anyone with true experience in life, having personally sweated at a job is much less likely to create a business model which includes the exploitation of the labor of others. Could I ever expect someone in prison to make my products all day long for pennies? No, because I’ve actually worked for a living and I can empathize.

If you asked an MBA what it takes to maintain a plastic manufacturing plant, you can imagine that he/she wouldn’t know 1% of what I know about the same topic. And yet, as a society these people are highly-paid. Academia has lied by suggesting that you don’t need to know the details in order to succeed. And the only way to really know the details is to do the job itself.

Stepping back from all this

Every day we trust these big corporations to know what they’re doing, to behave in ways which are moral and to succeed without causing harm to others. The problem I see is that we are programmed to believe that only college graduates can and should run companies. As I hope to have demonstrated here, I don’t think there will ever be a way of teaching real-world skills in a classroom alone.

Assuming for a moment then that corporations are run by unprepared people, there are bound to be problems as a result of this. What I usually see in a college graduate is someone who sees the profitability and success from a perspective colored by their own optimism and ignorance of the actual world around them. They see the business through rose-colored glasses, in other words.

Perhaps it’s time that we stop putting so much faith in corporations and universities and more into the value of simple, hard work experience on the job somewhere. The only way to really know something is to live it.

boycott google

We reasonably expect that our service providers are not secretively working against its consumers/users and reporting search results to governments. In this case, if a Chinese citizen did a Google search which included marked keywords their name, GPS location and phone number were forwarded to their government. It is well-known that this then would eventually result in imprisonment and they will now be forced into slave labor to make consumer goods so that Wal-Mart can sell a toaster for $6.

When Google executives worried that the memo would somehow break out to the media, they then attempted to suppress the story by threatening emails, using technology to know who complied internally.

I think this needs to stop. And by “stop”, I’d suggest an all-out boycott of Google.

I think this needs to stop. And by “stop”, I’d suggest an all-out boycott of Google.

Google employees are reportedly resigning over China search efforts

Closer to Home

In a similar troubling story, Google employees are also protesting and resigning over its involvement with the DoD.

Project Maven: Nearly a dozen Google employees have reportedly quit in protest

DuckDuckGo Steps Up

I see that today the plucky DuckDuckGo.com search engine alternative has obviously read the news as well.

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The Corbett Report

Please watch this video. If you’re familiar with the character from the popular television show The Colbert Report, you might accidentally think that these are the same people (they’re not). Note the slight difference in spelling.

https://www.corbettreport.com/?powerpress_embed=24412-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-video

Suppression of alternate media

As described in the video and demonstrated by the search engine comparison, Google has been caught manipulating the results in such a way that they are manufacturing public opinion. The days of valuing Google as an objective provider of search results are over; they’re no longer the “good guy”.

If you specifically depend upon independent media as opposed to the national media, GoodGopher.com has that option.

Change your search provider

Follow my lead and change your search provider today. Don’t wait for things to get worse.

meetup tonight

I’ll be giving another lightning talk this evening downtown at the San Diego JS meetup. I get to talk about the Autonomous Tank project and the code behind that.

SDJS

Since I no longer have a corporate-sponsored license of Microsoft PowerPoint, I had to improvise for my overhead slideshow this time. So I did what most coders would do in this scenario: I coded something for the task.

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autonomous tank

I managed to snag some great track data today at the venue. It was necessary to write a service to take snapshots every second while I manually drove around the track a few times.

With data in hand now at home, I was able to do some data processing now with the images from my own webcam.

A New Perspective

I thought I’d compensate for the lines-of-perspective effect so that the trending portion of the software could have accurate data. Since Jimp didn’t have a skew function and since its convolute() method didn’t work as expected with the right matrix for this, I ended up writing my own prototype which now works as shown below.

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file management for 3d printers

I use the software OctoPrint to control my 3D printer. It’s an excellent web service with a rich collection of methods in its REST API. The software was designed, coded and is maintained by Gina Häußge.

I’ve just created my first plugin for OctoPrint. It should allow those who need version control to pull their sliced files from a github repository as selected. The interface and concepts are simple enough: identify the repository and press the button to pull the latest from that repository.

settings

 

buttonfiles

Update:

My new plugin is now listed and published on plugins.octoprint.org. Yay, me.

plugins.octoprint.org

tanks a lot

I decided to build a very cool-looking robotic tank kit which is made by OSEPP. They have a variety of grown-up toys like this in the geekspace.

I guess I’ve been inspired lately by some of the local meetups which involve races with autonomously-driven cars.

To build this, I find that a surprising amount of hardware is going into this project as well as several programming languages all at once. I’ve had to bounce back and forth between Python and C as I interface the Raspberry Pi Zero W computer with the Arduino Mega 2560 R3 Plus board. This Arduino doesn’t come with Bluetooth, wi-fi or even an Ethernet jack so I opted to add in the Pi since it’s inexpensive and comes with a full operative system. The Pi of course includes a webcam for initially allowing the remote control features to be easy. Later, that same camera will be used to generate images to be processed for autonomous driving.

DSC_0072

Repository

Update:

I decided to design some plastic parts for the tank. It’s now looking awesome, has some quick-release pins and I’ve purchased a 12-battery AA charger and batteries for the project since it seems to be hungry for power.

DSC_0073

DSC_0074

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The first three attempts at managing the tracks for steering didn’t seem accurate enough for my own driving-related expectations at least. I finally had to resort to trigonometry in the last set of calculations; this appears to be a more natural steerage interface.

It looks like the first two phases of the project are now complete and I’m well into the third (autonomous) phase now.

Autonomous (Self-Driving) Mode

Next up is the part where a service is taking snapshots from the camera and then using this to make steering decisions. The strategy here is to use data image processing to find the road, so to speak, our position relative to the path ahead as well as any competitors also on the track.

The first interesting piece of the data processing involves some linear algebra and a variety of matrices which perform distinct functions, if you will. You basically multiply a particular matrix for a 3×3 array of pixels to replace the center pixel’s color in each case. The first and most useful matrix is named findEdgesKernel and looks like this:

-1 -1 -1
-1  8 -1
-1 -1 -1

This will allow a new, simpler image which should highlight only the track (masking tape) for the path ahead. This part is working quite well so the next step is to process this resulting path image to determine how the tank should steer both now and in the near future.

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who pays for spammers?

Granted, we’re well aware of the spammers out there who send us unwanted emails. And anyone who’s visited a support forum has likely read a slightly newer version of “content spam”. It will appear as what could possibly be a legitimate user’s comment but it usually comes across as a little vague/unspecific. A typical content spam these days might look like:

“your information is really very helpful. I get some interesting knowledge from this article. you may also get important updates from mcafee customer service. keep sharing these type of important suggestions.”

Corporations who pay spammers

  • McAfee
  • Netgear
  • babasupport.org

A call to arms, dear Internet

Do me a favor. Visit https://chathelp.org/mcafee-support/ and chat with McAfee. Let them know that you don’t appreciate their paying for spammers. Let them know that this link was part of some unwanted content spam.

microsoft wants open source extinguished

On June 9th when Microsoft had just purchased github.com, I wrote about how I thought this was something tragic for the world of open source. This morning I awoke to several new security notifications from my repositories there (requiring about an hour of my time to adjust my code):

“We found a potential security vulnerability in a repository for which you have been granted security alert access. Known low severity security vulnerability detected in debug < 2.6.9 defined in package.json.”

On the surface, one might think that Microsoft is trying to make the world a better place. You might think this if you’re an optimist or a friend of them, perhaps. Maybe Microsoft cares about security so much that—having just purchased github—they now want to ratchet up the quality of the collection of software as stored there by most people who don’t like them…?

But if you’re a pessimist or if you’re someone who doesn’t like Microsoft, could there be another reason behind this new diligence they’re trying to bring to code security? It’s not like Microsoft has a great track record in writing bug-free or network-safe code themselves.

“It’s not like Microsoft has a great track record in writing bug-free or network-safe code themselves.”

Strategic sabotage

Richard Nixon was known to do something termed ratfucking in the political world. Wiki even has a page on the subject. It means “political sabotage or dirty tricks”. It would eventually result in his impeachment. In some college circles, a mean-spirited prank is part of the playing field. To me, it feels like many of the players inside Microsoft are the same type of people, those who have no qualms destroying the competition, tripping them up and generally exercising a “whatever it takes” attitude toward their so-called success.

Microsoft’s internal methods:

Steal their air

In a lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice turned up an internal tactic used inside Microsoft which describes what they do when they feel that a competitor needs to be removed: “embrace, extend and extinguish”. In other words, 1) embrace open source by buying the main storehouse for its code, 2) create products such as Visual Studio Code which replaces similar free editors and 3) gradually remove the competition by getting rid of it now that you’re in a controlling position.

Appeal to fear

Another tactic they use in the market space is to promote fear with respect to anything the competition could provide. We’re seeing this now in the pseudo-warnings being auto-generated by github.

What this is

What we’re seeing is a direct and strategic beginning to Microsoft’s move to embrace, extend and extinguish github and yet it’s open source itself who is their ultimate target.

The future of gihub and open source

Expect more of the same: dirty politics related to the leading repository site of what Microsoft views as their competition.