w Boris Johnson
to look him up at Wikipedia, or
m Wilmot ON
to see Google's map, or
to see Wiktionary's definition for this Chinese word.
Doesn't that just brighten your day? 🔆
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(Hi, porsupah! Thanks for stopping by again! You are the only person who has commented on my journal this year. In previous years, xolo was often the only commenter, but he seems to have left LJ now.)I decided in April that my Dell D620 laptop needed an OS upgrade. The major issues were:
Now it’s time to say So long! to Linux Mint Debian Edition with Cinnamon 201303 (“Jessie”) and say Hello! to Linux Mint 17.3 with Cinnamon (“Rosa”). I’ve been down this road before, so my hard drive is already partitioned into “/home” for files that should survive an OS upgrade, “/” for the OS, plus “/windows” for my dual-boot Windows 7.
April 28th: Finally get around to it: repartition /home to be 13 GB smaller, download Linux Mint 17, write it to a USB stick, boot it up, then let it install itself onto the new partition. Then reboot back to the familiar old system.
June 5th: Boot up the new “Rosa” system for the first time, after first saving copies of all the dot-files in my home directory (since Rosa will upgrade them and then Jessie won’t understand them anymore). Install some of my favourite Linux packages (emacs, wget, etc) and remove a few I don’t need (hplip, cups, bluez, etc). Then back to the old “Jessie” system, which still has those three problems forcing me to upgrade.
June 23rd: Time to get serious. The laptop’s ＦＮ keys for controlling volume and backlight do not work when logged in to Rosa/Cinnamon as ‘root’ (which I always do but it’s been deprecated for years). I futz around with it for a bit, but eventually decide to “act normal” and log in as an unprivileged user (this means that I can’t use my main Emacs session to edit system files). Firefox 47.0 works better with Reditr, although memory leakage is still excessive. Thunderbird cannot see my mail archives and Opera has lost my RSS feeds, but I decide that Rosa is good enough to use for now.
June 26th: Opera 38.0 is not very good. It has a wacky multi-level
menu system that can no longer be turned off, making bookmarks much less
accessible than they used to be. Also it seems that all support for RSS
feeds has been removed. Looks like Opera will need to be demoted to my
“backup browser”, even though Firefox does not have good support for search
accelerators (with Opera I could type in the address “w Boris_Johnson” and
instantly get a Wikipedia bio on this famous person, or type “e ProScan” to
get eBay listings for matching products).
I can’t figure out how to pull the list of RSS feeds from Opera’s data files, so I boot up Jessie (after switching my home directory to the saved dot-files) and start Opera to export the feeds as an OPML file. Back in Rosa (switching dot-files again), I start manually adding feeds from the OPML file to Thunderbird, then discover a poorly-documented feature Edit → Account Settings → Feeds → Manage Subscriptions → Import, which just happens to accept an OPML list of feeds to add. Those manually-added feeds are now duplicates, so I delete them.
Firefox has a tool called “Subscribe” (it’s hidden by default). It strongly promotes the use of Live Bookmarks for RSS feeds, but once you tell it to use /usr/bin/thunderbird instead then it Just Works™. Clicking on a link in Thunderbird opens the web page in Firefox, so these programs seem adequately integrated for my needs.
June 27th: Merge the old email archives into Thunderbird 38.8.0. This is a royal pain because disk space is now very tight on /home and so I can move only a few emails at a time. I delete the saved dot-files, which frees up a lot of space, but means I can no longer go back to Jessie. While I’m at it, I clean up the email archives for my seven years at Company 𝔾. It feels good to put that thing to bed, although it would be better if I had managed to find a replacement job by now.
June 28th: Java no longer works in the browser. This has been
deprecated for months, but I have IcedTea installed and it clearly
does start, but then a blank screen appears instead of the Java app. Same
behaviour in both Firefox and Opera. This is a problem. I use
to put trailing-stop protection on my stock trades, but it’s written in Java
and is now obsolete. I can still use
which is mostly plain HTML, but that is for “investors” rather than “traders”
and doesn’t offer trailing-stop orders. I could use
which is a .net app, but then I would have to reboot into Windows any
time I want to do something with the stock market.
But wait! One of the advanced new features of Linux Mint 17 is supposed to be improved support for VirtualBox. Maybe I could run StreetSmart Edge inside a paravirtualized Windows system inside a GUI window under Linux, just like all the cool kids do nowadays! It’s never worked for me before, but I try installing VirtualBox. It needs a Windows installation disk, so I download the Windows 8.1 evaluation as an .iso file, then write it to a USB stick. VirtualBox cannot reuse my /windows partition and needs several GB to create a simulated hard drive for windows, so I delete the .iso file to make room. Then it turns out that VirtualBox cannot use the USB stick and wants to simulate the installation disk using the .iso file, so I download it again. But Windows 8.1 refuses to boot inside VirtualBox, because my CPU is an old Centrino Duo which doesn’t have the VT-x instructions that Windows 8.1 requires when running in paravirtualized mode.
So I download the Windows 7 Starter .iso from this slightly-shady site, figuring that I’ll reuse the product key from my dual-boot Windows. But my officially-licenced product key is not accepted because it’s for Windows 7 Home Premium rather than Windows 7 Starter. So I get a key from this rather-shady site, which is accepted. But Windows 7 won’t install itself because it insists that the simulated hard drive needs at least 6 GB of space. (I remember when operating systems would fit on a single floppy disk! I used to use a computer whose entire hard-drive capacity was only 0.005 GB! So get off my lawn!) I decide to free up some space by deleting old Company 𝔾 stuff. The most useless stuff is non-final versions of slideshows for conference sessions, which surely I will never look at again (nor will anyone else). I try using an Emacs keyboard macro to select the non-final versions from a list of all conference-data files, but the list is long and the macro runs slowly. So I write a Lisp function to prune the list, which runs in an instant. It occurs to me that this is the first “computer program” I have written in many months.
June 29th: Windows 7 installs successfully inside the simulated computer, but it cannot access the
Internet. Google finds many people with similar problems, but most of their
“solutions” don’t work. It turns out that the default networking settings
for VirtualBox are not compatible with Windows 7, even though
there’s a drop-down menu with “Windows 7 (32-bit)” selected
so VirtualBox will know what kind of OS it’s supposed to be
supporting. The correct answer is to tell VirtualBox to use the
”Bridged Adapter” methodology and simulate the ”Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop
(82540EM)” type of networking device, which is so old that even Windows 7 knows
how to deal with it.
StreetSmart Edge installs successfully and runs well. The “Live Chart” function correctly updates once per second to show the latest prices on Wall St. But the rest of my system lags a lot while VirtualBox is running. I improve this some by telling VirtualBox to simulate a computer with only 0.75 GB of RAM. (I spent most of my career writing software for computers with only 0.00003 GB of RAM, although those programs couldn’t do any fancy graphics.) I only have enough hard-drive space to store one “snapshot”, so I set it to resume to the moment when StreetSmart Edge asks for my username and password. I’m getting warnings that there’s *only* 1 GB of space available, so I invoke the wizard command “tune2fs -m 2” (kids, don’t try this at home), which reduces the /home partition’s safety margin from 5% to 2% and frees up another 2 GB of space.
June 30th: Begin writing up this document, which requires examining the log-files from the old Jessie partition. Some of the ”facts” documented above might be inaccurate because I didn’t keep careful records as I went along; sorry.
July 1st: Time to get rid of the old Jessie partition to free up 12
GB. To move partitions around on a hard drive you must boot from someplace
else, but my usual USB stick was overwritten with Windows 8.1, so I download
Linux Mint 17.3 again (meanwhile, Linux Mint has released version 18.0).
Write it to the stick and boot it up. Remember that I haven’t set up Rosa
to act as its own web-server yet, so save a copy of Jessie’s /etc
to Rosa in case I need it. Then use gparted to delete Jessie,
make /windows be 1 GB bigger, and put the rest of the released space
into /home. This requires moving 21 GB from one spot on the hard
drive to another, which takes half an hour. Despite all the warnings that
this could make my hard drive unbootable, Rosa boots up just fine. Windows
also boots correctly, after first spending a lot of time on chkdsk
which finds no problems.
So now all that’s left is to remove Jessie from the boot menu, since that menu item no longer points anywhere. I use the wizard command “grub-mkconfig” for that. All done! Happy Canada Day!
Herkimer Motel (Herkimer NY). A receipt for $124.49 for one night’s stay is slipped under our door in the wee hours of the morning, but the credit-card charge slip says it was run through at 9:54pm last night. This will be our last stay at the Herkimer, which will be changing its name to “Red Roof Inn” as of November 1st. The owner assures all guests that nothing will change because he is merely “affiliating” with Red Roof, not selling out to them. We decide to give this hotel another chance on our next trip, whenever that will be. We always stay here because the rooms are huge and “60% of the total trip” is just about right for one day’s travel.
Advance Auto Parts (Herkimer NY, 11:03am). I look in my car’s
owner’s manual and determine that it needs a type 9007 headlight bulb.
Replacement requires removal of three screws, a retaining ring, and the
electrical connector. Installation requires not getting any oily substance
(such as human sweat) onto the glass bulb. The store offers multiple models
of 9007 headlights at different prices, but I have no idea which one to get
so I pay $11.90 for the mid-range. My tools are all at home, so the store
lets me borrow a screwdriver — but the screws are all torqued too tight, so
they loan me a hex
ratchet, which is effective. Kid #2 helps with the repair.
While Kid #2 and I are at it, I am reminded of the phrase “working together on the car”, which was used by ozarque (Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin, b. 1936, fl. 1965‒2011, frontotemporal dementia) to invoke a scene where boys are working together towards an intellectual goal, rather than belittling each other or fist-fighting. You see, the car actually matters, so the boys actually think about how to make it work. But cars nowadays are too difficult for most boys. In my life it has usually been “working together on the computer program” but few kids today write their own software. So I don’t know what the modern version of this scene would be. Perhaps “working together on their MMORPG character stats”?
So anyway, I take the new bulb out of its packaging and place it next to the old one to demonstrate that it is in fact an identical replacement. Then I put it back in the package and place it on the engine while attempting to disconnect the old bulb, pontificating all the while about how getting any oil on the new bulb will drastically shorten its life. But while wrestling with the old bulb and its connector, I manage to jostle the wire-harness. This causes the new bulb to fall into the depths of the engine, which of course is covered everywhere with oily grime. Oops! Kid #2 is a polite fellow and does not laugh. But the day is saved because the bulb did not fall out of its opened package and remains untouched by oils. I make some comment about how important it is to keep the bulb in its package until use, then insert the bulb into the lens-assembly while thinking of the kids’ game Operation. Touch nothing on the way in!
Success! The new headlight works great!
New York Thruway. Pay toll; no receipt.
Massachusetts Turnpike. Massive traffic jam! As we near an exit, there is a sign announcing “bridge work ahead; seek alternate route”. We are unable to determine whether the jam will end soon when we reach a bridge or whether it will go on for many more miles, so we take the exit and pay the toll. We do not have a roadmap of Massachusetts in the glove compartment. The only relevant map is for “Eastern USA”. It suggests that we can take some minor-league state and national highways to get to MA route 9, which Wifey and I remember from our student days at UMass. The detour is only an inch on the map, but each map-inch represents 1,385,000 inches in real life. Two hours later, we finally locate Route 9. It would almost certainly have been faster to just crawl along with the traffic jam.
McDonald’s (Belchertown MA, 3:48pm). After finding Route 9, we stop at a CVS to buy a map — but they don’t have any. We try a gas station, but they don’t sell maps anymore because everyone has a smartphone these days. This causes Kid #1 to gripe yet again about how far behind the times our family is, with one crappy “feature phone” shared by the entire household. But she could just buy her own smartphone if she *really* wanted one. Anyway, we stop at McDonald’s to access Google Maps on our laptops. $10.67 for snacks. I get a chocolate shake, which gives me a brain freeze and then later I have flatus. Apparently I’m starting to get lactose-intolerant in my old age.
MA route 9. In Eastern Mass., this highway is a fairly straight East-West route, but in Central Mass. it is a winding road. I vaguely remember that I avoided this route when driving to my parents’ house from UMass because it took four hours (vs. three hours for MA route 2 further north, or only 1½ hours for the Mass. Pike on a good day). Anyway, we eventually get to Interstate 495 and return to our pre-printed directions from Google.
99 Restaurant & Pub (Franklin MA, 8:11pm). The girls get chicken broccoli penne (but hold the broccoli for Kid #1, add house chardonnay for Mommy), while the boys get the 9oz top sirloin (medium rare for Kid #2, medium for Daddy). This restaurant chain is named for the address of its original location at 99 State St. in Boston. Only $68.72 with taxes and tip!
Stop & Shop (Franklin MA, 8:20pm). $47.25 for 15.651 gallons of gasoline at $3.01⁹/gal. This was the only gas-pump during the entire trip that didn’t refuse my business due to lack of a zipcode!
Isn't it cute? The data-set is a bit of a mongrel, though: the yellow and blue show how many seconds my program took to run (seven times a day, five days this week), while the red and green show how many mistakes the program made (corrected once each day).
As you can see, VPSville is much better than HostMDS! I recommend them for all your Canadian web-hosting needs. One caveat, though: you do need to be comfortable with the Linux command-line. VPSville doesn't put a lot of effort into fancy graphical interfaces, they won't act as your registrar, their DNS support is minimal, their replies to customer emails are slow — all they offer is screaming-fast compute and network performance and lots of it, for no more than the others charge for a crappier product.
When I look at this chart, I see green logs in front of red tents, in front of a frozen tidal wave, in front of yellow mountains. What do you see?
I had a drawdown a few weeks back, for which the standard response is “stop trading and start analyzing”. So I wrote an analyzer program, because — unlike stock-trading — that’s something I actually know how to do. My program looks at weekly historical data for a stock and uses rules to calculate what the buy and sell prices would have been; from those it computes, for each week, how long the stock would have been held if bought then and what the profit would have been. That was the easy part.
Then I added calculations for various technical indicators such as MACD. Doing this required that I learn how those indicators really work. MACD is especially difficult because it is the difference between two exponential moving averages, and EMAs are very sensitive to round-off error. I don’t know how people managed to calculate these things back in the olden days of pencil and paper: if you make an arithmetic mistake in your EMA, it will continue to screw up your results for more than a year afterward.
To avoid having to write a graphing module for my program, I tried to make my indicators produce the same values as the indicators at StockCharts.com so I can use their free charts to display my results. This was mostly successul except that I think their values for Parabolic SAR are bogus and I refuse to match them; whenever a stock has a wide-ranging week following by several narrow-range weeks, from then until the next stop-out the pSAR values shown on their charts are just way too low in my opinion. But I got everything else to match, down to at least one decimal place and usually two.
Now the creative part: I assigned limit values for each indicator. If the indicator was on the wrong side of its limit, that meant the stock should not be bought. For each week, if none of the indicators said “do not buy”, then my program would pretend to buy the stock and see how it would have done. Then I used a technique much like simulated annealing to adjust the limit values for maximum gain. Result: only 1% of weeks were selected for purchase and those weeks yielded a 6% gain on average. Then I doubled the number of stocks being analyzed (from 50 to 100). Result: average purchase yielded a loss! So I tweaked the limit values some more and got the average gain up to 4% per purchase.( additional boring verbiage )