Monday, August 31, 2009

forward progress

Just do something every day.

Its working so far...

Lets see if I can get this thesis thing over with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the phone with Social Security

I had to call the social security administration today because my earnings record was incorrect. (updated, I think it was correct, see below)

The IRS and the SSA don't talk too well, so I had to find all of my tax returns and report my income. They had incorrect values for my taxed earnings, I only noticed because I was calculating the income required to qualify for benefits and it was only 43600. Let me repeat that. 43600 over your lifetime of working gets you some sort of social security benefits. WOW.

Anyway. I have been on the phone for 35 minutes already. The lady on the end of the line does not know what she is doing it seems. She keeps putting me on hold. Its kind of sad, but this sort of thing can be done by a computer cheaper and faster. First, the IRS and the SSA should be able to share information, and know that it is wrong. Second, it was four numbers that I needed to tell them, which could be done with a web form. Authentication is the hard part, I guess?

In the end, I think that some of my income did not have to pay social security taxes and did not count toward my benefits. I of course, had to figure that out by finding an old W-2 from one of my employers that doesn't do the social security thing. Now I have to waste some time finding out if the IRS is ok with that or not.

Ok, thanks to Drexel University it turns out that some of my wages were exempt from FICA because I was enrolled at least 1/2 time at a university. (the wikipedia article also mentions it).

I wonder how many people actually read that earnings report and take the time to figure that out. Maybe normal people just read their W-2's or other statements more carefully and already know that they weren't paying social security/medicare taxes.

Now the real question, do I trust Drexel and wikipedia, or do I waste more time checking it out with the IRS?

I am all for open carry but...

I think this is a bit much...

Man carrying gun attends Obama protest
(edited headline to be more accurate).

Not the best place to be promoting open carry rights, me thinks. I understand that he was not in the convention hall, but it still sends the wrong message.

ha, now we have conspiracy theories about people like that dude...

seems I shouldn't have started this post, it just gets weirder and more silly the more you read.
Although, both sides have been planting people at these "town hall" meetings lately, to make the other side look stupid and also people to make their side look good.

Coming soon, a town hall meeting consisting solely of plants from both sides...! ha.

Personally, I would be more afraid of Squeeky Fromme than some of these guys. If you go back and look at some of the stuff that the Mason crew believed, I doubt they are very happy with this President. And she has precedent on attacking a President.

update: Murdoc sort of summarized my feelings, I don't know exactly how I feel, but in general it has the ability to get out of hand.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things I don't miss about home


My neighbors are not the cleanest. Cockroaches could be coming in from the woods, which can happen, but we only find them near the wall that we share.

Its not an infestation or anything, its more like, one grown cockroach per quarter or so. Still gives me the hibbie jibbies.

I want to shotgun their faces.

Busy week next week

Next week will be busy.

I have quite a few things to blog, but won't be able to get to them for a bit.

Moving is stressful and now I am on someone else's clock that doesn't respect that I like do other things and tells me that something needs to be done about an hour before it is due.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How the web should look, DPRK style (which happens to be sort of right)

So the Korean Central News Agency has a interesting website. I actually like how they do news. Very webless like. For example, probably best Clinton saves Reporters news of the day.

Arrival of Clinton
Meets with Clinton
Dinner with Clinton
Clinton Leaves
The summary

Just the news, no javascript, no ads.


Ha, and it has more information than I could get from other sources, which just wanted to talk about opinions about what it all meant.

Monday, August 03, 2009

First class functions

First class functions are very useful.

In some code I wrote, the graphs needed to be plotted with linear scaling on both axes and also with the abscissa linear and the ordinate log. Neat thing is, I can pass in the plotting function to use to the code, then have it use that function. I can test which function was passed in and change some settings that are used to generate ideal case lines that look right in each graph.

Anyway, it makes your life easier some times, so give it a try!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Decline of racial profiling

I originally heard about this research at a talk at work. It was sort of cool how they did the analysis, because you can't really setup an experiment to test a hypothesis. You have to create one later from the existing dataset that can stand up to analysis.

So to make it the same time of day, they used a time that was dark part of the year and light during the other part. Daylight savings time helped out alot with that. Assuming that when it is dark you can't tell the difference between people (which you can't), then you can compare when they can tell race and when they can't.

I prefer this sort of data analysis to the anecdotes like in the comments. I am sure that some racial profiling exists, but it is shown to not be a rampant epidemic from the numbers. Some people suggest it is everywhere from a gut feeling which turns out to be false. (Calling you out, Obama!)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Coding styles

So, on the shower time thoughts, I figured out what I was going to blog about today.

I was contemplating on some code that I wrote/am writing for work. I started out doing a good job with creating new functions to do stuff that I do over and over and planning out how it will look. As I got into the phase where I was just implementing it, and not really doing design, I got sloppy and made these huge functions that were a whole heck of spaghetti.

So, I was remembering factor and other concatenative languages. Neat thing is, if you want to take something and make it a function/word, a good editor can let you just highlight it and hit some sort of "make function/word with name ___".

Seems like something I could have used. No good plotting library that I could find quickly though, so factor will have to wait. Going to give Common Lisp a fair shake first. (though now I am seeing why some people like LISP-1 (ala Scheme with the unified namespace), keeping track of types for something, even if that something is a function isn't completely necessary). I don't know about plotting for it either, I might just start using gnuplot and have my code create outputs that I pipe to gnuplot.

Anyway, the main thought was that its easy to get sloppy as you go along developing code. My computations are pretty clean (or so I think), but the graphing part is a bunch of ugly. Some of that is because I am learning the nuances of the matplotlib api, but eh. I ended up embedding calculation/transformation code in with the plotting, which is sometimes hard to keep straight. Not going to really fix it, I don't have time, but I'll try and keep it in mind next time. Keep stuff separate if you can!

I realize this post makes no sense and doesn't have any real content.

sorry about slacking

I keep coming up with interesting things to put in the blog, but I am normally in the shower.

By the time I get out, I have changed topics in my head and forget it.