Paco Hope My Random Musings and Rants


Excel Trick: Normalizing MB and KB into numbers

Someone brought me some data yesterday where they wanted to graph some data that included sizes of files. The file size in the data file was a mixture of things like "200MB" or "342KB" and so on. Obviously Excel can't graph that as it is, so I wrote a complex function to convert it to a plain number, which Excel can graph.


UK Recruiters: Pain in the ass

Because Cigital is virtually always hiring people, I get a lot of calls from enterprising recruiters. The problem in the recruiting industry is that there are a lot of bad apples. It colours my view of the whole industry. Let me tell you a story about a recruiter. We'll call him "Luke". Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Setting the stage for the punchline takes some time. But this is worth it.

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There’s no such thing as a free internet

This article (Yes, the media bears some responsibility for the rise of Donald Trump) got me thinking about the American desire for stuff to be free (news, social media, online services). We, as a nation, haven't really reconciled that desire with the fact that stuff has to be paid for.

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On Guns and Waffle Houses

It's a Schrödinger's Cat dilemma. Instead of a cat, we have a legally armed citizen. Instead of a box, we have a Waffle House. All armed people are simultaneously law-abiding and crazy until they pull out their gun and we see which one they are. Call it Schrödinger's Gun.

10 October 2015: A (presumably legally) armed customer shoots a burglar trying to rob a Waffle House.

27 November 2015: A (presumably legally) armed customer shoots a waitress in the head because she asked him to put out his cigarette.

Both stories happened in in America, both in gun-friendly states, nearly within a month of each other. Both shooting victims died shortly after.

The question in my mind, if I am in a Waffle House and I see a gun: "Which one of these guys is it?" So far, there is no way for the non-gun carrying citizen to tell which armed citizens are whack-o nut jobs and which are law-abiding until after the bullets are flying.


On Pharmacists and Roadside Justice

I've seen a few discussions of this story of a licensed, clearly competent pharmacist who shoots and kills a would-be armed robber. I understand that what he did was legal and—to many people—justified. Applying the death penalty at the roadside as punishment for threats is not the society that we want to live in. The guy is not a hero. He was reckless and put others in danger needlessly. He was absurdly lucky. Nobody who has studied how to respond to an armed robber would endorse this course of action, even if they broadly support gun rights.