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Blackjack Limits

Blackjack. It’s one of the most even odds game you’ll find in a casino short of flipping a coin. Assuming the house rules are favorable, the house edge when playing perfect blackjack strategy is as low as 0.5% (you’ll lose ½ cents for every dollar you bet).

Not the best National Lampoon Vacation movie…

Not the best National Lampoon Vacation movie…

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Displaying a Big HTML Table

tl;dr - To speed up loading a large HTML table on the client, start with the table CSS set to display: none;. Once the document is ready, set it back to display: table;. This reduced my client-side render time from 60 seconds to 6 seconds on a table with ~400,000 cells.

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Libre Graphics Meeting 2019 Website

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Libre Graphics Meeting in Saarbrücken, Germany next year! For those unfamiliar with the meeting, it’s an annual gathering of Free/Libre software projects and artists. There’s an amazing community of users, developers, and hackers that attend every year to talk about all sorts of cool topics like fonts, photography, painting, performance, and many other things that start with the letter “p” (printing? pontificating? pixls?).
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Tact Filters

Being a part of a community of smart folks means that inevitably there will be personality clashes. I was reminded of this recently, and found myself needing to remember to be empathetic.

Thomas Watson Sr, discussing the early IBM motto, "THINK". (wiki)

darix was kind enough to link me this wonderful post from Jeff Bigler over twenty years ago that is still quite relevant today:

Tact Filters

Jeff Bigler

All people have a “tact filter”, which applies tact in one direction to everything that passes through it. Most “normal people” have the tact filter positioned to apply tact in the outgoing direction. Thus whatever normal people say gets the appropriate amount of tact applied to it before they say it. This is because when they were growing up, their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”

“Nerds,” on the other hand, have their tact filter positioned to apply tact in the incoming direction. Thus, whatever anyone says to them gets the appropriate amount of tact added when they hear it. This is because when nerds were growing up, they continually got picked on, and their parents continually drilled into their heads statements like, “They’re just saying those mean things because they’re jealous. They don’t really mean it.”

When normal people talk to each other, both people usually apply the appropriate amount of tact to everything they say, and no one’s feelings get hurt. When nerds talk to each other, both people usually apply the appropriate amount of tact to everything they hear, and no one’s feelings get hurt. However, when normal people talk to nerds, the nerds often get frustrated because the normal people seem to be dodging the real issues and not saying what they really mean. Worse yet, when nerds talk to normal people, the normal people’s feelings often get hurt because the nerds don’t apply tact, assuming the normal person will take their blunt statements and apply whatever tact is necessary.

So, nerds need to understand that normal people have to apply tact to everything they say; they become really uncomfortable if they can’t do this. Normal people need to understand that despite the fact that nerds are usually tactless, things they say are almost never meant personally and shouldn’t be taken that way. Both types of people need to be extra patient when dealing with someone whose tact filter is backwards relative to their own.

Copyright © 1996, 2006 by Jeff Bigler.
Permission is granted to redistribute this text in its entirety, provided that this copyright notice and either the URL for the page (http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/tact.html) or a link to it is included. All other rights reserved.


The Exorcist

Demon: What an excellent day for an exorcism.

Fr Karras: You would like that?

Demon: Intensely.

Fr Karras: But wouldn’t that drive you out of Regan?

Demon: It would bring us together.

Fr Karras: You and Regan?

Demon: You and us.

The most chilling exchange in the movie. Particularly if you’re familiar with how it ends.

The lede image to this post is the inspiration for the scene of Fr. Merrin arriving at the house, René Magritte - The Empire of Light, II:


Smee

Unless you know me well personally, you may not realize that I’m a nerd for ghost stories. Big time.

That particular topic is for another time, though. This post is to celebrate the spooky season with one of my favorite ghost stories, Smee by A.M. Burrage.

Set during a Christmas Eve, it’s a delightful look at an innocent game of hide-and-seek called “Smee” (a portmanteau of “It’s” and “Me”) that includes an unexpected player for the evening. As with the best short ghost stories, the supernatural is casual and softly haunting; not as vulgar jump scares or “gotcha!” moments of cheap thrills. (The best of this post-facto type of uneasiness is likely Afterward by Edith Wharton.)

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Good Design

With deference to Dieter Rams (and courtesy of Vitsoe), his 10 principles for good design. This list is worth revisiting every now and then. Good design is innovative The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself. Good design makes a product useful A product is bought to be used.
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Ubuntu SSH Ads (motd)

Much to the chagrin of my friend darix, I run an Ubuntu server at home for various things like Nextcloud and Plex. (Chagrin because it’s not openSUSE… yet.) I had installed the previous Long Term Support (LTS) version, 16.04 because I just need the thing to run and be solid. The time had come for a new LTS release and I figured I might as well sit down and get upgraded to 18.
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Goodbye Google Analytics

I was outlining some ideas for an article I want to write concerning online privacy and connections to the recent Facebook fiasco. Part of the outline had me talking about the “middleman” layer that many big services like Facebook and Google created through their free offerings like ads, webfonts, comments, and social sharing options. I started mentioning this in a post from last year. I won’t go into that detail here (yet), but something that really struck home for me was the use of Google Analytics.
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Switching Themes

I got the bug recently to finally do something that’s been annoying me for some time: set up a dark theme for this website that is user selectable and that will persist. Normally I prefer the white background (default) that I originally designed but I understand that some prefer a dark background. When it’s in the evening and I want to write/edit a new post (like I’m doing right now) so do I.
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