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Friendship Dynamics

Something that I always find fascinating is the process of exploring the motivations, thoughts, and feelings of people in my life. I’m not interested in this for any nefarious purpose–I really just want to understand them better, so I can be a good friend, partner, or otherwise. But what’s the point of having friends, really? Different people no doubt create and maintain friendships for different reasons. The common factor is that our motives are always ultimately selfish.

Healthy Creativity

I am creative, though I am reluctant to call myself an artist. “Writer” might be OK but it seems pretentious to even use that. The point is, I’m going to talk about having a healthy creative life, as if I know something about it. In popular culture, artists–be they painters, sculptors, photographers, actors, musicians, writers, poets, you-name-it–are supposed to be tortured. They’re supposed to be dark, despairing, even suicidal. Nothing means anything except their work, and their work is a reflection of this nothingness.

Nobody Sets the Evil Bit

In case you didn’t know, many of the rules that built the Internet started as RFCs–requests for comments. These were online discussions in which proposals were made, discussed, and (sometimes) adopted as official rules. Each one has a number, and many Internet technologies you’ve heard about (or at least use every day) have their origins in one RFC or another. For example, the original email protocol was defined in RFC 196; the original hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which all websites use some version of, was first officialized with RFC 1945; and version of the Internet protocol (IPv4), which specifies a network addressing system that essentially every network-connected device uses, came out of RFC 791.

(Digital) Footprints

With all due apologies to the original author, whoever that may be… One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with Tim Cook. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints. Other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints.

Organizational Dysfunction: Cause and Effect

Entropy–the tendency of systems to become more disorderly–is a law of nature. That it occurs just as readily in human-designed constructs is, if not a reflection of the laws of physics, at least an amusing coincidence. Any organization will decay into disorder–or remain disordered if it began that way–without constant effort and vigilance against such chaos. One of the consistent themes of my career has been to reshape chaos into order.

Take Cybersecurity Seriously!

This week seems to be all about my ranting. Oh well. Here’s another one. I was notified today that a human resources employee at the company where I work unintentionally gave personally identifiable information to a phishing scammer. The scammer impersonated the company CEO via email, and the HR staffer didn’t check the address to ensure it was legitimate. Upon the scammer’s request, she handed over information from employee W-2s for 2015: names, Social Security numbers, and wage and salary information.

Child Support Debit Card Nightmares

Normally, I would avoid going on a personal rant, but it turns out my issues are only the tip of the iceberg. Synopsis: EPPICard, a debit card program used for unemployment, child support, alimony, and other cash payment programs by 23 states, is a terrible system rife with problems, and is incredibly customer-hostile. Back in 2009, I had an EPPICard for unemployment. I lived in Indiana at the time and I’d just lost my job.

A Primary Primer

What better day to talk about US Presidential primaries than Super Tuesday? “Literally any day before Super Tuesday,” the crowd shouts back. Too bad; I’m doing it today. In truth, I’m writing this because somebody asked for it. How primaries work is like second nature to me at this point, but it is probably a bizarre, senseless rituals to others. This is a good opportunity to demystify it. What is a primary, anyway?

Build Your Own Computer!

Never built a computer before? It’s not as hard as you think! This guide is not meant to be comprehensive, but to answer some of the most common questions I get with regard to computer building. First off, this is not about laptops, but desktops and other essentially stationary machines. Laptops are very limited in terms of their customizability so there’s not much to discuss there. That said, a new desktop computer will generally consist of the following parts:

In Software, Laziness is a Virtue

I have mentioned a time or two that I work in software. I write code. I am given projects or problems to solve, and I produce computer programs (or fix existing ones) that fulfill the request. Sounds easy enough, right? Though I’ve been writing code since before I could actually read, my first job in software didn’t come until I was 20. I was not hired as a developer, but rather as a process analyst intern.