President Obama and the new HealthCare.gov site

This problem pisses me off so much I am writing about it again. Today President Obama made a speech acknowledging many of the problems with the site, but he still did not provide any explanation or adequate solutions.

If I had a direct line to Obama, here is what I would say:

  1. President Obama should have reached out to his friends in Silicon Valley. Just a couple of years ago, he had dinner with all the big shots in the Valley: Facebook, Google, Apple, etc… Those people know a lot about running high traffic websites. He should have reached out to them for help.
  2. They should have stressed test and BETA tested the site. Seriously, how hard would it have been to open the site to BETA testing. One easy way to is just post a link on reddit. You will instantly get thousands if not millions of visits. Let real, internet savvy, people poke around. All of these stupid problems they are having would have been unearthed within seconds.
  3. There should have been a better workflow. They keep complaining that the system was complicated because it has to communicate with so many different services. You know what I do when I have to rely on third-party connections? I run all of that in the background. Away from a live user session. They should have done this. They should have created a SIMPLE registration system to collect user information. That system would not need to be archaic and backward compatible with anything else. It could have been build with the latest and greatest technology, made to scale easily, and independent of all other systems. This system could have, at the very least, registered the user and store their contact information. Then if they can not provide the user with real-time quotes or enrollment, it could tell the user to check back at a later date, or wait for an update. This way, they could have run all of the heavy processing in the background away from the heavy traffic. This is like basic computer architecture!

Google Chromecast vs Apple TV

The other day, after Hulu released support for the Chromecast on their app, I retired my Apple TV in favor of the Google Chromecast.

Google Chromecast is better because you can control the Chromecast from the your mobile devices and tablets without using a remote like the Apple TV.

Google Chromecast is also supported on all platform. You can use it with your Android devices, iPhones, iPad, and even from your computer.

I really liked my Apple TV, and we used it daily to watch Hulu and Netflix. But the Apple TV is more expensive than the Chromecast and has been squarely beaten because of the features I mentioned above.

Good job Google.

iOS7 is so fucking ugly

Apple has a special place in my heart because I really appreciate good design, attention to detail, and usability.

But iOS7 looks like shit, works like shit, and Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave right now because of how bad iOS7 is.

The CoveredCA website sucks

It’s one thing to hear about the government wasting money on something you know little about, but it’s doubly painful when it’s something you are very familiar with.

Today I learned that the state of California paid Accenture $359 million to build coveredca.com – California’s online health exchange.

http://newsroom.accenture.com/news/accenture-chosen-to-implement-california-health-insurance-exchange.htm

The site did not work at all for the first day I tried using it, and it was down about two weeks after, when I tried to use it again.

This is complete bullshit, considering that they only had

987,440 unique visitors
16,311 applications completed
27,305 applications partially completed

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2013/10/08/week-1-for-covered-california-16000-applications-complete/

I looked at some of the front-end HTML of the site and judging by how bad it is, I can only assume that the back-end is equally terrible.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/10/08/230424841/health-exchange-tech-problems-point-to-a-thornier-issue

Why Did The Government Shut Down?

Why Did The Government Shut Down? The government shut down because Republicans in the House of Congress refused to pass a budget unless President Obama stop ObamaCare. Without a budget, people who are paid by the federal government, such as national parks employees, some members of the military, government workers responsible for processing passport applications, etc., will not be paid to work. Which means they will be forced to stay home without pay.

The Government Shut Down is a threat the Republican party uses to force President Obama to remove laws that they do not like. It is similar to an arsonist threatening to set a house on fire if we don’t give him exactly what he wants.

Why did this happen? This happened because the Republican members of our government do not want people to have cheap health care. They do not want people with current health problems like asthma and cancer to get the help they need. They believe people should find money to pay for their own health care otherwise they don’t deserve it.

Even though the cost of medicine will continue to go up, the Republicans do not care. They still think you should somehow find money to pay for it because they don’t care about your illness.

How did fedex know where I live

I had a package sent to my PO BOX. The sender used FedEx. I never gave the sender my physical address. Some how fedex managed to get my physical address and send the package to it instead of the PO BOX. How did they do this. What kind of magic are they using. I thought FedEx SmartPost only go to the post office. Did the post office give them my physical address?

War on Syria

This is too big of a topic for me to not comment on.

It seems that within the last month, I can not visit any of my typical news outlet without hearing a 99.9% rejection of military intervention.

This has happened before. And last time I am on the record for saying that, although I do not like Bush, I support Bush going into Iraq. A couple of months later, I realized I had been lied to, and I withdrew my support.

However, I am not your typical progressive, and again this time I do not agree with people who think that military intervention is out of the question.

 

Remote Desktop Connection Mac and Windows 7 connection problems

I was trying to remote desktop to my Windows machine, but it kept spinning and would not allow me to connect. On the Microsoft website, they said Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5 is not supported by RDC. However, it does work.

After several minutes of frustratingly googling around, here is the answer:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3234768?start=15&tstart=0

  • Close Remote Desktop Connection Mac
  • Open the folder “RDP Connections”
  • Delete Default.rdp and any other files (note this will delete saved passwords and username info from other remote desktop connections you might have setup).
  • Open Remote Desktop Connection program (RDC)
  • Connect to your server IP.
  • Enter username and password, but LEAVE DOMAIN BLANK.

This will make your Remote Desktop Connection Mac not working — working.

Litecoin or Bitcoin: Ubuntu Cgminer install

I just spent a good amount of time trying to get my headless ubuntu litecoin miner to work.

There are several great tutorials out there:

http://decryption.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/mining-litecoin-with-cgminer-ubuntu-12-10/
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Gw7YPYgMgNNU42skibULbJJUx_suP_CpjSEdSi8_z9U

But it would have saved me a lot of time if they were more concise and left out all the unnecessary stuff.

So here is my attempt at a more succinct, “get down to business”, type of tutorial.

Step 1

Install ubuntu, I am using 12.04, but I am sure you can choose any flavor you like.

Step 2

Clean up old drivers. This is important if you are already having issues with your install. If this is a brand new install, you can ignore this step.

sudo sh /usr/share/ati/fglrx-uninstall.sh
sudo apt-get remove --purge fglrx fglrx_* fglrx-amdcccle* fglrx-dev* xorg-driver-fglrx

Step 3

Install dependencies. Honestly, I don’t know which of these are actually important, but they don’t hurt so just install them.

sudo apt-get install build-essential cdbs fakeroot dh-make debhelper debconf libstdc++6 dkms libqtgui4 wget execstack libelfg0 dh-modaliases libcurl4-openssl-dev libncurses5-dev pkg-config automake yasm byobu

Step 4

Install the AMD catalyst driver so your video cards can be recognized. Caution: Using the build-in FGLRX drivers did not work for me, this method is much more fool-proof. Note: The catalyst driver installer requires a GUI, so be sure to turn on X if you are working from SSH.

wget http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.1-linux-x86.x86_64.zip
unzip amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.1-linux-x86.x86_64.zip
chmod +x amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.1-linux-x86.x86_64.run
sudo sh amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.1-linux-x86.x86_64.run

Step 5

After you install the AMD catalyst drivers and come back from rebooting, it is time to see if your GPUs are being detected properly.

First, we run some magic:

export DISPLAY=:0
export GPU_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS=1
export GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT=100

Then we probe aticonfig to see what it has.

This will list all the active devices.

sudo aticonfig --lsa

This will list all the devices and their respective fan speed — basically checking if you can read them.

sudo aticonfig --adapter=all --odgt

If that does not work, you can try one last command

sudo aticonfig --adapter=all --initial

Then reboot and try the first two aticonfig commands (including the magic commands) again to see if you get any results.

If the three commands above does not return to you all the cards you expected, or show any kind of errors, something is wrong. There is no need to go any further. Go back and see if you missed a step, or go try another tutorial.

Step 6

Go get a pre-built copy of cgminer from the author’s website:

http://ck.kolivas.org/apps/cgminer/

You are free to compile it yourself from the github source, but it’s a tedious process, so why bother.

Step 7

See if cgminer pick up all the same cards aticonfig does.

First run the magic (basically you always do this before you run anything that requires the graphic cards):

export DISPLAY=:0
export GPU_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS=1
export GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT=100

Then

./cgminer -ndevs

It should list all your cards.

If it does, then you are ready to mine. Configuring cgminer properly is whole another topic I won’t discuss here.