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Nobody pees but you

By Fjodor on Apr. 23, 2016.

So, it would seem that going to the bathroom has become an issue somewhere, provided that the person in need was born with a biological gender that doesn’t quite fit the psychological self-image.

This would, by rough estimations, give rise to the following four characteristics, the first labeling genetic gender, and the second labeling self-identification. Do note that I leave out “ambiguous gender” such as genetically intersex people, but they are used to being ignored or abused already, and the hysterical hypocrites are unlikely to have the mental fortitude to deal with this concept altogether, so let’s keep it as simple as possible:

Male – Male
Female – Female
Male – Female
Female – Male

Now, no matter how esoteric it may sound that someone was born with one gender, but identify as the opposite, this does occur, so let’s just look at the simple logistics of using a public restroom. The options are:

Gender-neutral (usually single rooms)
Male (usually pissoirs and stalls)
Female (usually stalls-only)

Quite obviously, a male restroom with pissoirs provide the benefit for male patrons to relieve their respective bladders in short order, usually with very little in the way of queues, since the main duration of occupancy is less than a minute. For defecation, we are relegated to the stalls, which are, usually, unqueued as well, since the pissoir takes care of the usual order of business.

Female restrooms, on the other hand, are usually characterised single stalls only, since both urination and defecation is, traditionally, performed in a sitting position. For the sake of space, fewer woman can usually be accommodated by a public restroom for females, than the male equivalent, since more pissoirs can be fitted in the same space.

Now, for a male seeking to urinate, the male restroom is the venue of choice, since he can either use the pissoir, or, if shy, he can use one of the usually unoccupied stalls. A female does not have the same choice, but at least privacy, by the way of a stall, is guaranteed.

As a non-transgendered, straight, male, it would seem to me, that the utilitarian choice would be to make use of the male-oriented facilities if one holds a Y-chromosome, but that being said, utilitarianism is hardly a goal to strive for, and if I am to imagine a life where I would be constantly be reminded of my masculinity, by the very fact that, for the sake of argument, I were to self-identify as a woman, this seemingly trivial matter of using a public restroom could, very likely, become a very great deal.

Atop of the above, we then, apparently, have a number of Male – Male politicians who seem to believe that female restrooms, like pissoirs, consist of numerous toilets in a row with no shields between you and your fellow woman, since they argue that it would, somehow, be a problem for a transgendered woman to make use of a stall that might or might not be adjacent to a stall used by someone’s wife or child.

To be quite honest, if said politicians are so afraid of what Y-chromosome-bearing people might be doing in a public restroom, I think I shall opt for the stall if I ever chance upon one of them while preparing to go about my natural business…

Customer Relations Done Right

By Fjodor on Apr. 30, 2013.

Customer relations, especially of the support kind, is an area fraught with peril for any company, especially since:

  1. People will tend to contact customer support only in times of trouble
  2. On those occasions, most answers can lead to some sort of disappointment, but the customer is especially primed towards negativity

Much as negative blogging in cases of severe Customer Relations deficiencies are both warranted and needed, I am happy to be writing this post as an example of what I believe to be one of the best experiences I have ever had with any support department of any company ever. There were some initial misgivings on my part, but as you shall see, those were either unfounded or of no importance in the end.

Now, on a whim of wanting to get my system upgraded to some SSD lovin’, I recently bought a HighPoint Technologies RocketRAID 620 dual-port SATA 3.0 controller. I didn’t want anything to do with the actual RAID capabilities, but wanted it to control a 120GB Intel SSD and a 3Tb regular HDD as two different and independent drives.

Buying hardware, especially on a lean budget, can be somewhat of a challenge if you, as I, exclusively run Linux as your OS. I was thus disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that I would need an out-of-kernel driver, which I,though, had no trouble finding instructions for installing under DKMS.

Shortly afterwards, I began to notice some seemingly ominous warnings in the system log about I/O errors to the effect that a SCSI command, WRITE_SAME, had failed on the HDD connected to the board. Since no errors where reported for the SSD, I decided to swap out the HDD with another, dissimilar disk. The problem, however, manifested itself again, pointing towards a problem with either the board or its driver.

At this point, I had had to patch the driver with an unofficial patch in order to support Linux 3.6+, had had to DKMS-enable the driver in order to use it at all, and was presented with a, quite frankly, shoddy looking support page design, so my hopes were modest, to say the least.

On the plus side, though, they actually did have provisions for me to accurately state that I was using Linux (not a given, sadly), so I made a reasonable effort to describe the problem and hoped for the best.

Now, writing bug reports for software that you haven’t reported bugs for earlier is not always easy – you don’t know what information is the most relevant, and you don’t even know if the developers prefer to have any and all info dumped on them, or if they prefer to engage and ask specifically for what they need, based on a more sparse, initial, report. I would prefer the latter myself, so that’s what I normally do.

Here is when the magic seemed to happen. Obviously, the responding developer or technician needed more info in order to find the root cause of the problem, and whereas I was initially dismayed to read that “The driver does not support WRITE_SAME”, I was obviously too negatively biased in my assessment of that answer, since the reply to my subsequent question as to whether that meant that I should just make a habit of disregarding log messages to the effect of I/O errors, which came in on a Friday, was that they would send me an updated driver during the course of the following week.

Imagine that!

On Wednesday that following week, well within the promised time frame, my support ticket was updated with an upload of the next version of the driver (subsequently offered on their product page as well), and as far as I can tell, no further problems regarding this board present themselves in the logs.

To recap:

  1. I notice a problem and misdiagnose it
  2. Upon later, correct, diagnosis, I report the problem with a Linux driver to the manufacturer
  3. Even though the driver is external to the Linux kernel, I get extremely swift response in order to pinpoint the problem
  4. Within less than a week, the manufacturer releases a new version of the driver to address the problem and also sends me a copy of that release in the actual bug report
  5. I hereby endorse http://highpoint-tech.com whole-heartedly, not least to show that stellar customer support is in the actions of your company’s developers and technicians and not in how fancy your bug reporting interface might look

HighPoint, you have my highest appraisals for how you handled this issue!

Category: Main, Other

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On religion and its significance

By Fjodor on Feb. 29, 2012.

It may not have been entirely clear to you, my very limited audience, that I live in a country that, while insignificant in size, does both differ and adhere to more general, international, standards in general, and raise questions about others specifically.

What I refer to here, is a discussion that I have been having in Facebook, regarding the US’ separation of church and state (or lack thereof), and what I think that I have learned from engaging in such conversations.

First of all, I shall state that I am not a US citizen, but since the US, in general, seems to be very keen on promoting its ideas abroad, and since my own country, while small, is generally praised as a valuable ally in more respects than just the normal, military, sense of the word, I do tend to take an interest in US politics. In this regard, I am a huge fan of the, seemingly constitutional, separation of church and state, but it would seem that at least some of my American acquaintances oppose this quite fervently.

Apart from stating that however you, US citizen, look at the constitutional separation from a purely “this piece of paper says this” stance, there is this neat little thing called the Supreme Court, which has consistently ruled that Church and State are, indeed, entities that should be separated in any and all respects as a matter of law. To advertise for divergence from this would not only be to undermine the authority of the courts, but also, and thus, to undermine any aspiration to adhere to the normal standards for a democracy.

I shall contrast this with the situation here in Denmark. We have a state church, to which every newborn child is automatically a member, until their parent or guardian says otherwise, or until the person, at a legal age, says otherwise. While member of the state church, one pays a 1% income tax in addition to the highest tax rate that I know of.

It is permitted, of course, to adhere to other belief systems than the state one, and you can be exempt from paying the church tax by “opting out”, but the state church still gets some of the tax money through other arrangements.

I am a very staunch atheist myself, but of any of you, who have religious beliefs, I ask if you would be comfortable having a bona fide State Church, that even if you were religious, but just didn’t subscribe to that specific branch, had a privileged position, set down in a constitution, that is actually involved in all aspects of registering child births and name giving.

As always, see things from the other perspective before you hold yourself righteously privileged…

Swatikas, common sense, and the lack hereof…

By Fjodor on Jun. 6, 2011.

While this might not be the most visited blogs of all times (especially since some of my previous posts were in Danish), I do happen to think that if I have reached just one person with any one post, it’s worth it, so here goes;

The swastika has been around as a cultural piece of imagery for something like 5,000 years or so, and has been seen across a multitude of locales during that period. For a short while – my memory is not one I would buy if offered, the German Nazi party made it’s headway in 1935 and convinced a nation that I still believe – and believe you me that they are now, weren’t aware that they were enabling a raging dictator.

However, the misappropriation of an ancient symbol was our collective fault, inasmuch as we let it be their coat of arms. For all the different uses that the proper swastika has served for so many years, they are but dust.

Hence, my suggestion is to front neo-nazis by regaining the swastika, as it, by all means, is just a way of wishing another person good luck…

Do you think that the neo-nazis could hold on to the swastika, if we took its old meaning back?

A very bad idea

By Fjodor on Mar. 22, 2011.

This might be one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard of.

Basically, it’s a system to measure the stress level in the voice of whomever happens to call for help – in the present case case for military emergency response but with the possibility to expand into civil emergency services, to determine which calls should get priority if there is a back-log.

Now, for a military purpose, I can almost be persuaded to believe that military training for stressful situations might make this a useful metric, but for civil use, not so much.

I have had the distinct displeasure of calling ambulances for others a number of times, and as I have been taught that speaking calmly and responding to questions about details in a coherent manner, I usually make it a point to do just that – stay calm, leveled and objective, not letting the specific “badness” of the situation interfere with my attempt to convey the precise scope and nature of the emergency.

Now, the article says that the system has a very low error margin when tested on previous calls, where the prioritization of the operator in question is known. I take that to mean that it would make the same choice that the operator did. What is not mentioned is if said operator relied more on the apparent stress level of the caller or on the specifics of what was reported to make the choice of priority for the dispatch. I could, given data, easily be persuaded that the operator used the same metric as the system, and that said metric might not be the best.

A case would be an incident that took place when my oldest younger sister worked as a tourist guide in Turkey and I was there to visit. During the pick-up for departure, and elderly lady had a heart attack, and some other people in the bus stated that they were proficient in CPR, so we agreed that my sister would keep the other guests calm and alert her colleagues to the fact that the bus might be delayed, so they would have a chance to inform the airport of a number of delayed passengers, they would administer CPR, and I would call for an ambulance.

In the case of a heart attack, immediate first aid, in the form of CPR is paramount, so I had to work out this division of tasks quickly and then go on with my own. I found a local who could give me a number for the nearest hospital, called them, explained the situation and had the local describe where we were.

During all this, I made a conscious effort to keep as calm as possible, in order to understand and be understood by the local and the hospital. Furthermore, I had delegated the actual act of CPR to others who said that they were proficient in it (sadly, it turned out that they were not), so to my own mind, I think I came off as rather collected and coherent to both the local and the hospital – hardly with any significant stress level apparent, since I didn’t know the woman, but was aware that it was serious, so I should stay calm.

If a system as the one mentioned had been in place, and if the priority of the call would be set by the stress level, I rather doubt that it would have been given a sufficient level of priority, whereas a hysterical parent to a child with a minor cut on a finger or some such would probably score much higher.

In summary, I might be able to understand an argument that this could be useful in military situations, where one would expect every caller to have at least some experience and/or training in/for emergency situations, but for the civil populace, this idea is about as bad as they come…

Taxation of the rich vs. the poor

By Fjodor on Sep. 3, 2009.

I saw this comment on a slashdot.org article tonight.

In essence, it’s an explanation of the US tax system, explained in the setting of “beer for 10 people” by a professor in economics.

While one may (rightfully) question the quality of a great many slashdot comments, I find this one rather profound.

I’d say it could be adapted to many other countries’ tax schemes with an equivalent conclusion – perhaps because politicians worldwide seem to be more eager to please the readers of daily newspapers, than to listen to sensible science…

Update 11:12 – link fixed. Thank you Thode :-$

Svar på uopfordret snail-mail-reklame

By Fjodor on Apr. 14, 2009.

Hejsa,

Jeg har netop modtaget et tilbud om at købe Danmarks sidste polarmønt, hvilket fører til to modsatrettede spørgsmål:

1) Kan jeg, såfremt jeg køber denne mønt, være sikker på, at I opsporer og destruerer alle andre eksemplarer?

og

2) Hvis ikke, vil I sÃ¥ venligst undlade at sende uopfordrede og løgnagtige “tilbud” til min adresse?

Med venlig hilsen,

Sune Mølgaard
XXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXX

Category: Danish, Other

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Lost posts

By Fjodor on Nov. 29, 2008.

Presumably due to a DNS foul-up on my part, my last few posts weren’t moved from a now defunct server onto the new one. Bummer 🙁

All is not lost, however, since there was a constructive comment to one article by my good friend Therese, who happens to have a more informative post than my usual ramblings on her blog, so if you can read Danish, do yourself a favour and sample her blog at http://www.version2.dk/blogs/theresehansen

A challenge!

By Fjodor on Sep. 9, 2008.

Let’s say that when they begin doing real experiments with the Large Hadron Collider (as opposed to just circulating some protons as they will begin doing tomorrow), the world actually does come to an end…

In that case, I am willing to buy a round of beer for every sensation- and conflict-worshipping pseudoscience journalist out there. If it doesn’t, however, I shall expect such an apologetical beer from every sorry one of them.

Request the address of my favourite bar in the comments section of this article guys!

Category: Other

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Going telemagenta for a while

By Fjodor on Apr. 3, 2008.

As you may or may not be aware, http://www.engadget.com was recently asked to discontinue their use of the colour magenta, which is apparently trademarked by Deutsche Telekom AG in connections with its services and products.

Trying to extend this copyright to cover the services and products of Engadget.com seems like a long shot at best, and to show support, I have chosen to go with the html equivalent (#bf1773, found here) of the RAL4010 colour “Telemagenta”, which Engadget has identified as the one covered by Deutsche Telekom’s copyright in this previous post.

Oh, and in case anyone wants to place a phone call from my mobile, please mail me, and we’ll work out a small fee. How’s that for similar products and services? 😉

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