Book on Programming

In a more serious vein, I’m slowly writing a book on how to program. I’ve noticed that too many of the students struggle with the process rather than the details. This is sort of a digressive way to say they can write a loop, but don’t know how do decide when to do it.

Programming for the Lazy

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts,engineering,pedagogy |

draft for your perusal

another manuscript of a fiction book. Since GSU lets us keep the royalties from fiction (though not real products), I’ll post it here.

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts |

Stella’s Cabbage

My mother in law, a sweet, gracious and intelligent woman, died about 5 years ago. With her went the secret to “polish cabbage” which was something of a signature dish.  I think I’ve finally reverse engineered it.

  1. Clean, cut up and salt the cabbage. Discard the outer leaves if they’re damaged and remove the inner core. The cabbage should be cut into 5mm or so pieces (just a little too coarse for coleslaw). Put into a bowl, add salt and allow to sit for 1-2 hours or more.
  2. (1-2 hours later). Cut up an onion and fry in a little oil in a large covered frying pan. Stella undoubtedly used butter, but olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and butter work well. Don’t over cook, brown or burn the onion.
  3. While the onion is wilting. Rinse the salt off of the cabbage and set it to drain.
  4. Add the cabbage to the onion and fry in a covered pan for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir as necessary and add water if it begins to dry out, stick or brown.  The cabbage will decrease to about 1/4 the original volume. With green cabbage it will eventually turn a light brown and be very tender.

Enjoy.  This works equally well with both the red and green cabbages.

Written by Rob in: recipe |

The Death of Publishing

I had the chance to try self-publishing with Amazon’s create space and KDP. The book itself, while readable is a bit of fluff. What was impressive was the quality of the automated setup and publishing tools. There may have been one manual step, other than mine, a last review before generating proofs, but that was all.

So the cost of assembling a professional-looking book is almost zero.

This strongly suggests that page charges and all of those sorts of things are a bit of a con-job. It also suggests that textbooks are highly over-priced.

On a pedagogical note, this means that writing a low-copy-number course specific text book would be feasible.

Written by Rob in: engineering,pedagogy,rant,science |

Neat piece of gear

I’ve been using an REI windshirt for the last few months. There’s nothing particularly special about it (cheap, decent quality). It’s a permeable wind-resistant outer layer that’s not quite water proof.

The beauty is that it combines well with almost any layering system for most more or less temperate conditions. (We don’t get winter in Georgia, really, but it does get into the 20′s (-2 to -3)). So I can wear it with a sweater or fleece when it’s not too cold, on it’s own when it’s just barely chilly and over a primaloft jacket for the rare days when it is sort of like winter.

It’s also really great for biking – the “ipod” pocket is fantastic for car keys. Of course our conservative neighbors don’t like anything that can go as fast as a recumbent trike and doesn’t use gasoline – but that’s another story.

Written by Rob in: backpacking,outdoors,scouting |

spambot script

For your delectation, a script that somehow (I wonder if they learned to program at GSU) didn’t quite work. However it shows the non-deterministic finite state machine used to generate spam.

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{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a loot
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I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
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{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!|
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{and the|and also the|plus the} rest of the {site is|website is}
{also very|extremely|very|also really|really} good.|
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{blog|website|web site|site}. I stumbledupon it ;) {I will|I amm gong to|I’m going to|I may} {come back|return|revisit} {once again|yet again} {since
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Money and freedom {is the best|is the greatest} way to change, may you
be rich and continue to {help|guide} {other people|others}.|
Woah! I’m really {loving|enjoying|digging}the template/theme
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A lot of times it’s {very hard|very difficult|challenging|tough|difficult|hard} too get that “perfect balance” betwesn {superb usability|user friendliness|usability} and {visual
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{In addition|Additionally|Also}, the blog loazds {very|extremely|super} {fast|quick}
for me on {Safari|Internet explorer|Chrome|Opera|Firefox}.
{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
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Any way keep up wrinting.|
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{This sort of|This type of|Such|This kind of} clever work and {exposure|coverage|reporting}!
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{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you
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{tough|difficult|hard} time {making a decision|selecting|choosing|deciding} between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
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P.S {My apologies|Apologies|Sorry} for {getting|being}
off-topic buut I had to ask!|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would you mind letting me
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I’ve loaded your blog iin 3 {completely different|different} {internet browsers|web browsers|browsers} and I must say ths blog loads a lot
{quicker|faster} then most. Can youu {suggest|recommend} a good {internet hosting|web hosting|hosting} profider at a {honest|reasonable|fair} price?
{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come together|get
together} and share {opinions|thoughts|views|ideas}. Great {blog|website|site},
{keep it up|continue the good work|stick with it}!|
Thak youu for the {auspicious|good} writeup. It in fact was a amusement
account it. Look advanced to {far|more} added
agreeable from you! {By tthe way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give you a quick
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I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something
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compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let you know.
The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look
great though! Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon.
{Kudos|Cheers|Manny thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my
heart… {Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}!
{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out any {topic|matter} on {net|web} as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this {article|post|piece of
writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web page}.|
Does your {site|website|blog} have a contact page?
I’m having {a tough time|problems|trouble} locating it but, I’d like to {send|shoot} you an {e-mail|email}.
I’ve got some {creative ideas|recommendations|suggestions|ideas} for your blog you might
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{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} ffor {a long
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Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!|
Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles|California}!
I’m {bored to tears|bored to death|bored} at work so I decided to {check out|browse} your {site|website|blog} on
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{A great|An excellent|A fantastic} read. {I’ll|I will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog {occasionally|from
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If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against} it, any plugin or anything you can {advise|suggest|recommend}?
I get so much lately it’s driving me {mad|insane|crazy}
so any {assistance|help|support} is very much appreciated.|
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greatest|the most important|the most significant} changes.
{Thanks a lot|Thanks|Many thanks} for sharing!|
{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your
blog|your site|your website}.. {Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme.
Did you {create|develop|make|build} {this website|this site|this web
site|this amazing site} yourself? Please reply back
as I’m {looking to|trying to|planning to|wanting to|hoping to|attempting to}
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{Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate it|Kudos}!|
{Hi there|Hello there|Howdy}! This {post|article|blog post} {couldn’t|could not} be written
{any better|much better}! {Reading through|Looking at|Going through|Looking through} this {post|article} reminds me of my
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{I will|I’ll|I am going to|I most certainly will} {forward|send} {this article|this information|this post} to him.
{Pretty sure|Fairly certain} {he will|he’ll|he’s going to} {have a good|have a very good|have a great}
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{Excellent|Wonderful|Great|Outstanding|Superb} choice of
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I {looked|checked} {on the internet|on the web|on the net}
{for more info|for more information|to find out more|to learn more|for additional information} about the issue and found {most
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{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, I {log on to|check|read} your {new stuff|blogs|blog} {regularly|like
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{I have|I’ve got|I have got} you {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved
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{mention|say|tell you}, I {enjoyed|liked|loved} this {article|post|blog post}.
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{read|looked at|browsed}. And {on|after} this {post|article} care
and feeding of graduate students (life as a professor)Okefenokee Trip | care and feeding of graduate students (life as a professor).
I {{was|was actually} moved|{was|was actually} excited} enough to
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My {coder|programmer|developer} is trying to {persuade|convince} me to move
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But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using {Movable-type|WordPress} on {a number of|a
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{nervous|anxious|worried|concerned} about switching
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{Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day}!
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capable of} {easily|without difficulty|effortlessly|simply} {understand|know|be aware of} it, Thanks a lot.|
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site|site} {by means of|via|by the use of|by way of} Google
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of|alert to} your {blog|weblog} {thru|through|via} Google, {and found|and located} that {it is|it’s} {really|truly} informative.
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be|shall be|might be|will probably be|can be|will likely be} benefited
{from your|out of your} writing. Cheers!|
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happen to be|you are|you’re} {working with|utilizing|using}?

I’m {experiencing|having} some {minor|small} security {problems|issues}
with my latest {site|website|blog} and {I would|I’d}
like to find something more {safe|risk-free|safeguarded|secure}.

Do you have any {solutions|suggestions|recommendations}?|
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your {blog|weblog}. Is this a paid theme or did you {customize|modify} it yourself?
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{Either way|Anyway} {stay|keep} up the {nice|excellent} {quality|high quality}
writing, {it’s|it is} {rare|uncommon} {to peer|to see|to look}
a {nice|great} {blog|weblog} like this one {these days|nowadays|today}..|
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your|together with your|along with your} {site|web site|website} in {internet|web}
explorer, {may|might|could|would} {check|test} this?

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Written by Rob in: engineering,pedagogy,security |

Windows 7 usb mouse and keyboard disappear.

My son built a new gaming PC for his birthday. Ended up with a pretty nice box – which I insisted he make dual boot (he’ll need linux at college, really).

The windows 7 kept losing the keyboard and mouse. Looking on line, we saw this was a common enough occurance. The canned answers from microsoft ranged from “use your mouse to click” to “reinstall windows”. Neither is exactly helpful.

It turns out, though, that there is a solution (at least on the 64 bit version and probably everywhere else). The default windows 7 install does not know about USB 2.0 or various advanced motherboard features. We found this out by trial and error (my errors, my son’s trials). We checked the USB connection to the mother board – which was OK, and then looked at the bios setup. Enabling only the “legacy usb support” on the motherboard USB support cleared up the problem. We were then able to install the manufacturers drivers and everything, so far, is working fine.

Written by Rob in: engineering |

Standing Indian Hike

Just back from a hike with troop 77 on the Appalachian trail.  Troop 77 is quite large and has a good number of dedicated, skilled and trained leaders so we were able to hold three simultaneous outings: a base camp for the youngest scouts, a relatively easy backpacking trip for the intermediate scouts, and a more difficult trip for the older scouts. That’s the one I’m reporting.

The troop booked the kimsey creek group campsite from the national forest service.  We were then shuttled to the Beech Gap trail and walked via the mountain back to the group site. The GPX track is here .

Snapshot from google earch

Snapshot from google earch

The profile is shown here.

The view from the top is spectacular:view from the top

Written by Rob in: backpacking,outdoors,scouting,trail map |

What are they after?

Just called by another helpful “windows central” software specialist, Pauline from India.  I tried to string her along a bit better to see what they were up to, but eventually she got frustrated and hung up on me.

The conversation went something like:

“is this <my name>?”


“I’m Pauline from windows central and your computer has been sending error messages”

“Is that microsoft?”


There were a few other choice lines like “40% of the programs on your machine weren’t working”

She wanted me to bring the phone next to the computer and follow her instructions, I wanted her to let me right them down. The call ended when I said that my son had installed this program called linux and <click>.

This seems to be an awful lot of work for to simply compromise a machine – rooted windows machines are a dime a dozen.  It’s likely she wanted to install a keystroke capture program and capture my banking details or credit card details – which would be worth the work.

Written by Rob in: engineering,security |

Daniel, from Microsoft

I just had an amusing phone call.  “Daniel, from microsoft” , Well really “Daniel” from India or Pakistan or some such place.

He informed me that for the last ten days my computer was sending error messages to microsoft. I asked for more details, and he wanted me to bring up an account on the machine.  There was this software, the sort that hackers use, installed. There is, it’s called Linux, it’s been installed for much longer than 10 days, but that’s an aside. “Daniel” (who had a bit of trouble remembering his name), couldn’t give me any information about the machine – which isn’t surprising as he didn’t have any.

Anyway, it being dinner time here and my catfish getting cold, I told him, rather rudely, to do something anatomically impossible (literally, they wouldn’t understand American slang).

The basic scam/attack was rather neat. It was a social attack – an abuse of trust attack. Undoubtedly I’d have been directed to download some program that would clean up the “hacking software”. They wouldn’t have to work hard to break into whatever security I had, because I’d have done it for them.  Then the faeces would have been in the means of air propulsion. It wouldn’t have taken long for my machine to be converted into an attack engine or downloaded all of my passwords or whatever. Since it would be likely that I was a doddering old idiot for accepting this “system enhancement” I’d probably never think to get it fixed.  (I can still tell when a long deceased ex-scouter bully has his computer turned on because I get sent an email suggesting I buy things that are the latest and greatest things – and no it isn’t a voice from the dead).

Written by Rob in: engineering,security |

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