On the nature of solitude

I don’t like being by myself as much as I am these days.  It’s something I struggle with quite a bit. I’ve had quite a while to reflect on this topic, and there’s a couple of words that are often used to describe the situation, but they mean quite different things to me.

The first is “alone“. To me, being alone, is to not have physical or mental proximity to other humans. This is relatively rare, and for me is a choice that I make if I decide to isolate myself. I like to be alone at times, and to ride, and to run. They are my favourite things to do alone.

The second is “lonely“. This is a feeling of a lack of connectedness with other humans, and in my case I feel this more strongly without a partner. I’m certainly least lonely at this stage when I have my close buddies over, chilling and talking shit. I feel less lonely when I have George with me.

Those who know me IRL would probably consider me fairly extroverted, and that’s true to some extent. I do enjoy being in groups of humans, and it’s something I’ve become comfortable at. It’s not natural for me by any means, I was taught this by my parents, and something that I’ve worked on in my career. What many people might not understand is that I do like to be alone at times, and to contemplate the vastness during that time. I’ve never really been able to describe it well, but I like to ride (and now run) to the limits of my physical capabilities – and use that so my thoughts become focussed on “the now”.

I’ve done this for years, and really didn’t notice what I was doing until I had a conversation with a Twitter friend about what she gets out of Yoga and the mindfulness aspects of it. I like this alone, it’s active or voluntary alone-ness.

Then I read this;  http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/03/how-to-be-alone-school-of-life/

I was impressed by how it seemed to accurately describe my feelings on the matter. The distinct difference between alone-ness and loneliness was laid bare and what was confusing to me (I like to be alone, I don’t like to be lonely) and how the world reacts to the alone-ness. I must say I’ve not really felt any great society pressure about my need to be alone. Probably because it’s hidden behind my physical activities that are considered normal to be performed solo.

Turning the gaze to loneliness it’s a bit harder to reconcile my thoughts and feelings on the emotion. While I’d like to “not care”, I find it very hard – and it’s almost something that I find defining as a human. I’m unsure what other people in similar situations to myself do, or if they feel the same way. I suspect that at at this point some form of substitution of life occurs, where distraction, numbing or soothing becomes commonplace.

Working long hours? Drinking? Drugs? Religion?

Who knows?

Excuse me while I go for a ride and think about it a bit more…

Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all. “

Seagate Momentus XT 500gb installation

I thought I’d let people know about my current experience with replacing my laptop hard drive, it may well be useful for others.

starting configuration was a Seagate ?? 500gb 7200rpm – pretty standard
laptop hard drive.    I like to replace my hard drives every 12 months
because I find they are one of the largest sources of issue and heat
death with a laptop.  For the princely sum of $100 it’s normally a
pretty good investment.

I really wanted to get a 500gb SSD drive,
but there’s none of those, and if there was, it would be retardedly
expensive.    The next option would be to get a second drive, and use
the SSD for boot + games – needing about 120gb, but laptops have a
limiting factor of only 1 drive.  During my research I found that I
could get a drive bay to replace the DVD, but that would be just messy –
but a possible consideration next time around as I’d put the 128gb SSD
in the primary drive spot, and use the “DVD bay” as my mechanical drive

So, after dicking around for a bit and procrastinating I
ended getting a Seagate Momentus XT 500gb hybrid drive.  It allegedly
has a bunch of SSD cache in the drive which make it perform amazingly. 
(More on that later).  All the reports indicate the startup, seek etc
times are more indicative of a 10k rpm drive than a 7200rpm drive.  One
of the downsides of putting a 7200rpm drive in the laptop is the
additional heat it generates over a 5400rpm drive, but as we all know,
more rpm = faster disk access = faster loading into Dalaran !

rather than my previous upgrade paths which have been a “install new
drive, install current version of windows and then copy everything over”
I really didn’t want to go down that path as my Win7 install is an
upgrade, so I’d have to fuck around with getting Vista on first, then
upgrade etc, etc.  So, I did some research on drive cloning and ended up
using R-Drive Image.  I’d had enormous success in using the R-Drive
recovery software and really liked their stuff, so off I went and cloned
the drive.

Took about 4 hours, but it wouldn’t boot – FUCK YOU.  I
did some searching around and tried the Win7 repair – but still didn’t
work.  Some fuckery with geometry and stuff and I was running late for
work and yeah – found out I probably could have recovered using some
command line bootmgr re-installation.  I might try that next time.

during my searching I found that most HD manufacturers have a cut down
version of HD cloning software with support for their drives, so I
downloaded Seagate DiskWizard.  Installed, ran and off it went and
changed my current drive so it would reboot into the supervisor style
mode for doing to raw disk copy.  As it rebooted it couldn’t find my
original disk.  It’s 11pm, the house is sleeping – choke-a-bitch-index
of 11.   I try repair, I try and be calm, and the Win7 repair disk did a
fine job.  Which was really fortunate for the Seagate team, or I’d be
on a plane right now to stab some fuckers.    I’m starting to think some
of my original issues might have been minor issues with my current
drive that was cloned over.

Restarting the process at about
midnight it takes about 7 hours to copy 100gb of system disk, 42gb of
photos, 150gb of games and 50gb of random crap.  I wake up the next
morning and it’s just finished.    I swap around the drives and have the
new one installed in my laptop.  I rename the partitions so all my
current shortcuts etc are still working fine and boot up WoW to check
things.  The Win7 boot sequence is a lot faster – probably 50% of the
previous time.  I didn’t do any timings (sue me) but I remember
“watching Win7 start up”, and now it’s “hurry up and log in” – so
probably down from 20 seconds to 10 seconds.

First thing I notice
is how quiet the new drive is.  I check the temperature and it’s running
about 15 degrees cooler while WoW is in “normal mode”.  That’s a good
sign (65 degrees down from 80).  The next thing I notice is how much
faster it is.  WoW starts in about 50% of the time.   There’s no
delay/lag on the login screen (which is all local).

So far – so
good, and for the premium of $60 it seems like it may have been a good
investment.  (Standard 500gb was about $100, this was $160)

Privacy depends on who you are

I’ve just had a pretty amazing experience.  We moved house and as a result an error was made and our previously silent number was “unsilented”.  This occurred on Friday.  It wasn’t until 8pm tonight that I was able to remove my number from the electronic white pages after 3-4 hours worth of phone calls to the telecommunications provider and the white pages.

What has made this pretty amazing has been the discussions with the TIO and the Privacy Commission.  As anybody with a pulse in Australia is aware, Google sampled some open frequency networks that people were dumb enough to be publishing, and Senator Conroy labelled this as “the greatest privacy breach in history” (or some such political rubbish).  Now, even ignoring the fact that these people were literally doing the equivalent of digitally shouting all their information to anybody who was interested in hearing it, it’s clear that Conroy has a bone to pick with Google after they basically called him a drooling retard.  I doubt many people in Australia would disagree with that assessment.

Now, compare this with my situation where we pay a fee for a service to keep our information private, and as a result of incompetence within the organisation that organisation has published my own information to the world.  I don’t know about anybody else, but this seems to me to be a bigger breach of privacy than somebody listening in to people screaming their private data to anybody who stands still long enough.

Speaking with the TIO it was clear that they would become involved (and were very happy to take my complaint) should the provider not address the issue.  However, so long as there was some “action” being taken (even if it was ham-fisted and took forever) then they were considered acting appropriately.  Taking 5 days to resolve a privacy issue caused by one of the staff is clearly a “reasonable” response.   Remember this boys and girls, having a shit process with incompetent staff is ok.  Earnestly doing things (clearly a “tries really hard button”) regardless of effacacy is also ok.

The Privacy Commission was very similar.  As I’d spent some time reading the comprehensive website – as well as the 2009 results of complaints I wasn’t really all that hopeful, but I wanted to ensure my understanding of the legislation was correct.  The PC is set up again as a mediator for disputes, it’s not there as an advocate but the great news is that the operator that I spoke to was very knowledgeable, articulate and friendly.  She confirmed my suspicions – that unless a gang of thugs have descended onto our house and proceeded to shave the cats and smother them with butter – there’s fuck all we can do about it.  The most likely outcome from the company is an apology.  “We’re really sorry we fucked up and took 5 days to fix something that exposed your family to risk by giving out your private information – gosh – too bad’.  What’s even more interesting is that it’s really up to me to take it any further which would involve making a complaint in writing and giving the company 30 days to respond.  If I don’t like the response, then the PC will accept the complaint and assess it.   Now, all of this is on my own cost, and I can’t even recoup the many hours I spent on the phone attempting to address the issue.  Amazing.

The legislation doesn’t have a schedule of fines, so unlike me speeding down the freeway – the results of the company breaching the Telecommunications Act of 1997, and the National Privacy Principles – they get away completely unblemished.  Of course, there’s “reputational damage” – but let’s face it, banks, insurance companies and telecommunications companies already have completely shit reputations anyway – so it’s not like they are heading too much further downhill.  Let me repeat that – the company breached the Telecommunications Act of 1997 and the NPP and NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.  Next time you get a parking or speeding fine have a good long think about how fair that is.

I hope it’s been an interesting (if not very uplifting) read, but it also cements in my mind how much of a complete douchebag Conroy is with his political grandstanding.  If he followed the NPP in the same way that I have to – each person who allegedly had their privacy breached would have to contact Google independently, and then Google has a month to respond, which may result in a “sorry about that chaps”.

People (like myself) who have actually had their privacy breached have very, very little recourse, very little ability to reclaim the many hours of lost time and frustration and very little chance of a positive outcome addressing the core issues – unless of course maybe somebody in my family was attacked and injured.  Don’t think about this so much for people like myself, think about single mothers escaping abusive ex-spouses, people in real and immediate danger then think to yourself how much this sucks.

Vista and Windows 7 slow copying

For what ever reason the disk access system on Vista and Windows 7 is completely fucking broken.  Under certain circumstances of driver (and/or hardware) if you copy across a network, or even off a USB connected drive the performance is completely shit.  This is 100% due to the upper layer code, because using lower primitives, the performance is spectacular.

So, why do I care?  We have a Netgear ReadyNAS with 40Gb of photos that have been backed up over time (from XP) and Susi’s laptop died, so we got a new one (nice new Dell for $800) and found that trying to copy them back would have taken longer than the heat death of the universe.

Did all the Googling, did all the “fixes” (which mostly related to networking) but none of it resolved the underlying issue.

I thought – fuck this – time to go down the Unix path.  So, looked at Rsync and found that Windows7 and Vista have a commandline tool called ‘robocopy’.  It’s basically a poor mans copying tool with archiving and/or mirroring capabilities.  It’s pretty cumbersome to use but not a real stretch for me, however I did come across as part of the whole investigation a GUI to use robocopy with – called RichCopy

It works great.  Copied the 40Gb at 150Mb/sec rather than the 3kb/sec I was getting.  This might not work for everybody, but it certainly resolved the issues I was having.

Hazards of change

In the last 2 years things have changed.  I’m no longer spending most of my days writing code, but I spend most of my days understanding organisations.  The bank where I work is big, and has a lot of different (and old) systems that all need to talk to each other.  I have to spend a lot of time trying to wonder why they were built that way in the first place, and also how to sensibly make change to systems so it can be done in a consistent, safe and reliable way.

What I struggle to communicate with people that most of the time I’m producing nothing, other than wiring my brain to understand how things are.  Then there’s a burst of activity where I’ll produce some designs and direction (and maybe a pattern or two) for people to follow.

Some days I feel like I’m only working for 15 minutes, but I go home very tired after thinking and researching like I’ve worked for 10.

Don’t underestimate how hard change can be, and evaluation of that change is very important.