daf bit: Sanhedrin 11

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:47 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

Remember that mishna I summarized last week, the first one of this tractate? The g'mara is still discussing it (not surprising, given its length). On today's daf the discussion turns to intercalating of years, the decision by a beit din to add a leap-month to the current year. The g'mara tells a story about a case of this and from it we learn lessons of humility:

The year can be intercalated only by a beit din appointed for that purpose. It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel had called for a court of seven to assemble early in the morning, but when he arrived he found eight people there. He asked the group: who has come without permission? Let him leave. Shmuel the Little said: I'm the extra; I didn't come to sit on the court but to learn the process. But Shmuel the Little wasn't the extra person; he spoke up to save the intruder from humiliation.

The g'mara tells another story of this kind of face-saving, this time about R. Meir. A woman came to his study hall and said: rabbi, one of you here has taken me to wife by cohabitation. R' Meir immediately arose and wrote her a get (a bill of divorce), after which every one of his disciples did likewise. And the g'mara says that he learned this from Shmuel the Little. (11a)

[sci] Q re journal article IP

Jul. 26th, 2017 12:48 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I'm reading this really great journal article in the field of medical anthropology, and it got me thinking, "I wanna quote this whole thing. I bet my readers would really dig this." And then I thought, I wonder if I asked nicely if the author would let me republish it as a guest post in my journal? And then I thought, I wonder if the author even has the authority to do that, once their paper has been published in a journal?

What rights does the author of journal article have in their article once published in a journal? I appreciate this might vary by specific journal (or organization that owns or edits the journal), but are there general trends? Do journals typically require submitting authors forfeit the right to publish the work for free on the internet? Forever? What if an author wants to contribute the paper as a chapter in an anthology (book)? Or write their own book in which the paper is one chapter?

a signage mystery

Jul. 25th, 2017 03:00 pm
cellio: (sleepy-cat)
[personal profile] cellio

I-376, like many other highways, has those overhead digital signs that somebody updates with topical messages like "accident, right lane closed 1 mi" or "stadium parking exit 72A" or, when they've got nothing better to say, "buckle up -- it's the law". There are two of these signs on my commute that, in their default states, say "distance to downtown: N mi, M min". Which, while usually not especially helpful to me (I live five miles from downtown), is still more useful to me than seatbelt nags. (I always use seatbelts.)

This morning, while stopped in traffic near Oakland, I saw one of those signs update from "4 mi, 5 min" to "4 mi, 6 min". That was less inaccurate, but far from accurate -- I reached downtown about 25 minutes later. (This is all very unusual; two of three lanes were closed due to a bad accident. My commute is sometimes slow, but I don't remember the last time I was in stopped morning traffic.)

It got me wondering -- do the indicators on those signs update automatically based on sensor data or are they human-controlled? The fact that an update happened but didn't jump to a more-appropriate number makes me think that we're dealing with an automated system that only bumps one unit at a time. (I would hope that a human would have updated it to warn about the accident.)

Why would it be designed to only increment in single units? Or is it a bug? What are the inputs to these signs, anyway?

siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Every. single. time. my shell hosting company announces a planned outage for an upgrade for something having to do with email, and they assure me that it won't impact me at all and I won't have any email outage, every single time they've wrong.

I'm not going to embarrass them in public because they do try so hard and are quick to fix broken things when I bring them to their attention.

It's just that, by now, I'd hope they'd just email me, "Hey, Siderea, we'll be fucking up your email at this future date and time. We'll be around on Twitter until this subsequent date and time. Please be available during this window to exercise your account and let us know what we've broken this time."

Instead, I email them in response to the planned outage announcement and say, "Hey, what can we do in advance to make this work?" and they're like "nothing, it's all going to go perfectly!" and I'm like, "ooookay, when exactly will you be flipping the switch, (so I know when to check on you, but I don't say this part)?" and they're like, "oh, sometime on that weekend." *throws hands in the air*

(I miss nyip.net so hard.)
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Can somebody update me on the present legal status in the US of graphical user interfaces as intellectual property? Am I correct in believing they can't be patented (though the code can be copyrighted)?

What I really want to know: Can I rip off GVoice's old/retired web interface legally? Or more accurately, can I pay somebody else to do it for me with reasonable ability to assure them they won't go to jail or get sued into oblivion for doing it?

To be clear, there are some nifty functional subtleties I'd want to make off with, which I wouldn't even want to bother pretending I came up with on my own. For instance, there's some interesting algorithm for how texts are batched into threads which I haven't entirely reversed engineered, but make a huge difference in readability.

daf bit: Sanhedrin 2

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:55 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

We begin a new tractate, Sanhedrin, which discusses court cases. Unlike in many secular court systems, the judges are active participants (they're the ones who question witnesses) and the ultimate decisors; there are no lawyers or juries.

A court is made up of some number of judges, depending on the type of case (at least 3, sometimes 23 or 71 or occasionally other numbers). Here are some of the cases listed in the first mishna of the tractate (this is not a complete list):

  • Various types of monetary damages are judged by three.

  • Rape, seduction, and libel require three according to R' Meir, but the sages say libel requires 23 because it could involve a capital charge. (A note suggests this comes up with adultery but doesn't connect the dots. Also, rape and seduction can involve capital charges too, so I don't know why they only call out libel. Perhaps it's addressed later in the g'mara.)

  • Capital cases, as implied in the previous bullet, require 23.

  • Cases for which the punishment is flogging require three, but according to R' Yishmael, 23.

  • Calendar decisions (witnessing the new moon, adding a leap month) are judged by three, though R' Shimon b. Gamaliel describes a more complicated scheme.

  • A tribe charged with idolatry, a false prophet, and a high priest can be tried only by a court of 71.

  • The following require 71: authorizing wars of free choice, adding to the temple courtyards, establishing small sanhedrins (of 23) for the tribes, condemning a city, condemning frontier towns.

Why is a great sanhedrin 71? Because Moshe was commanded to gather 70 (other) men. And why is a small sanhedrin 23? It's complicated. (I don't completely follow their math, sorry.)

This is all from 2a. The mishna continues onto 2b before the g'mara starts there.

(Today's daf is 4.)

almost helpful

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
cellio: (house)
[personal profile] cellio

My (Android) phone alerts me when traffic is bad near me. This can be handy at the end of the day because I work downtown. Except... it's telling me about traffic on roads I don't use to get home. Sure, there's spillover so it's not unhelpful, but it'd be great if I could tell it -- maybe by gesturing on a map -- what paths I care about, so it could tell me about those ones.

Does anybody reading this know of an app that does that, or a way to get Google Maps to do it? It needs to be fire and forget; I don't want to have to open the map app to look for red lines on it.

It feels like all the information is already there, if only my phone were making use of it.

(This would also let me know before I leave in the morning if traffic is still bad at the other end. At that time I don't really need extra information about traffic near my house; I need it 3-5 miles away.)

[tech, domesticity] Oy, Verizon

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:28 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
The one logistical thing that has not gone swimmingly with D's move to assisted living has been moving her landline.

The extent to which Verizon has screwed this up has been epic. [personal profile] tn3270 referred to it as a Russian novel.

Penultimately, I had a conversation with billing that went approximately thus:
Billing: Hello, Verizon Billing, this is [NAME]. How can I help you today?

Me: You can waive this month's bill because Verizon has screwed up two move orders so far, and the 90 year old account holder hasn't had access to her phone line for five days and counting. It's still not on at her new place, but I understand there's an expedited technician order for today. But who knows? You're the seventh Verizon employee I've talked to so far, and I've been told a variety of wrong and contradictory things every step of the way. This has been the worst corporate fiasco I've been involved with in years.

Billing: ...yes, we will totally credit the account for the month.

I had originally thought that we might have trouble because Verizon had security and stuff, and I wasn't the account holder (D) and I wasn't the contact on the account ([personal profile] tn3270). But no. I text chatted with Verizon in advance of putting in the order (CSR #1), and they told me what authentication tokens I needed to authorize the move order, I got them, and they worked fine when I put the order in.

No, everything went to hell apparently due to galloping incompetence on Verizon's (staff's) part(s).

Initially, I was told we didn't need a technician to come out for the line move, unless we wanted help plugging the phone into the wall; they could do it on their end. For the record, this is a good ol' fashioned POTS line, and moving within the same town. Fine. Once we'd nailed down the move date and booked movers – June 30th, to be precise – I got back in touch – btw, I was using the Verizon website realtime customer service chat, because I couldn't find a damn customer service phone number. It's 1800VERIZON, btw. So I fired up the chat thingy, and talked to a customer serv rep (CSR#2), who said they'd be happy to do the move order for me. Somewhere in the middle of the process, he apologized to me and said that the system was saying that a technician is required for that address; that there were no available technicians on the move in date, but could do the day after (7/13) between 1pm and 5pm, and it wouldn't cost anything to have the technician. I said to make it so, so he put the move order in. I asked him to confirm the service and he quotes me a price that I later find out is almost twice D's usual bill. I ask him whether he needs the account contact there to meet the technician, and he doesn't know, so he transfers me to another cust serv rep (CSR#3), who says, no, any adult who can let the tech in is fine, and who confirms the order is all complete, and (he specifically said this) the previous CSR did everything necessary.

Subsequently, [personal profile] tn3270 got a phone call from Verizon confirming the incipient move.

On Thursday, 7/13, 6pm no Verizon tech, and D's landline still has no dial tone at the new place, and is still working at her old place.

I am working until 9pm, so when I get home around 10pm, I get back on the text chat, and ask what happened. I'm informed they can find no move order on the account. The cust serv rep (CSR#4) asks if I have an ID number for the move order, and I don't have one. But they're happy to submit a new move order. Grrrrr. I say, yes, do it. After a long pause, the cust serv rep apologizes and says they can't do the move. Because it's a landline. The text-chat customer serv reps can't do landline moves. For that you have to call in. 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM EST Monday through Friday or 9:00AM to 5:00PM on Saturday. Also, he tells me, I might need to present paperwork in person at a local Verizon office.

It's after 10pm on Thursday, so I have to wait until the phone is staffed again. Why they can have 24/7 text chat CSRs but not 24/7 phone CSRs, I don't know.

Other stuff comes up, that has priority Friday, so I don't get to call Verizon until Saturday, 7/15. The rep I speak to (CSR#5) tells me she sees no record of the move order for Thursday, but she can totally put in a move order for right now immediately. I say the guy I talked to on Thursday said I needed a technician and special documentation; she said she had no idea what he was on about, no technician was needed, and no, they didn't need any special documentation. She said it would be done by "5 today, though maybe really more like by midnight". I make her give me the order number for this move order.

Sunday, 7/16, still no dialtone at her new place, dialtone at the old place. Verizon is closed for phone calls.

Today, Monday, 7/17, I call Verizon and ask WTELF. The CSR (CSR#6) calls up the account and says, "Oh, I see you had a move order for last Thursday." "WAIT. WUT. You can see that order? I was told you guys had no record of that order!" I make him read me the order number; so now I have the order numbers for both move orders that failed to happen. He then apologizes on Verizon's behalf and tells me they over-booked technicians, and that is why no technician came out. "BUT, BUT, WAIT. NOBODY EVER CALLED OR EMAILED. I WAS TOLD THERE WAS NO ORDER. THE LAST PERSON TOLD ME WE DIDN'T NEED A TECHNICIAN AT ALL." The CSR apologized again, and said he'd put the order in, and expedite it, and a technician would be by today.

Then I explained that I wanted the bill credited, and he referred me to billing (CSR#7), who both credited the bill ([personal profile] tn3270 has already got the confirmation email) and confirmed her service level and price, contra CSR#2.

Miraculously, a Verizon technician actually showed up at the assisted living facility today. He did a bunch of stuff, including something in the network closet and sticking some sort of probe in her wall socket, and assured us everything in the building is all set.

She still doesn't have dialtone, though; the technician confidently told [personal profile] tn3270 that the problem was on the pole outside. They'll have a lineman deal with that tomorrow (Tuesday, 7/18).

Next up, contacting the Mass DTC to see about filing an official complaint.

embedded geek

Jul. 13th, 2017 09:58 pm
cellio: (B5)
[personal profile] cellio

A friend shared this with me earlier today and I literally laughed out loud:

(Source)

The second-last column is about a famous Zulu leader. The last one is about walled cities under fire.

"Shaka, when the walls fell" is a key phrase in a rather unusual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, named "Darmok". The famous universal translator doesn't work when the Enterprise encounters these particular aliens, because their language doesn't work at the word level. They speak in what the crew calls metaphor. I've seen discussions of this over the years ("could that really work?" "improbable, because..."). The post about the Jeopardy episode links to this Atlantic article about the episode that argues that we're looking at it all wrong. I found it an interesting read.

Also, Atlantic does in-depth articles about episodes of SF shows? Who knew?

(I don't have a Trek icon. Here, have one from one of my favorite shows instead.)

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