mtbc: maze L (green-white)
The more I delve into the new 1040 instructions the more cans of worms I open. So far I think I've provisionally pulled out schedules 1, 3, 6, B, C, D but I am losing track of all the interactions so it is time to stop for now. This is so much worse than last year! I've now spent enough hours on it all today, maybe next weekend I'll manage another burst of hours to work through the child tax credit worksheet, the qualified dividends and capital gains worksheet, etc.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
I did file my FBAR this morning but our regular taxes will have to wait. I decided that we probably do need to file Schedule C (which Form 2555 then renders irrelevant) but to prove exemption from Schedule SE we must get a written statement from the Pensions and Overseas Benefit Directorate at the UK's Department for Work and Pensions. In the meantime I shall continue working on Schedule B.
mtbc: maze M (white-blue)
I had mentioned needing IRS Form 8949 for a short-term capital gain on a real estate sale. It relates to a property in England but of course the IRS require conversion to dollars. Fortunately, the pound fell against the dollar so much over the relevant period that the 1.85% profit in GBP that I made on the asset turns into a 5.89% loss in USD.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
Separately from my FBAR, in a review of forms to prepare for filing my US taxes I now have together:

  • Form 1040, the overall return.

  • Form 1040 schedule B, on which I report my savings interest and my 1099-DIV and 1099-INT.

  • Form 1040 schedule D, on which I report my Form 8949 short-term capital gain on a real estate sale.

  • Form 2555-EZ × 2 to exclude my regular salary and [personal profile] mst3kmoxie's consulting income from Federal taxes.

  • Form 8965 to explain why we didn't have health insurance.

Fortunately, beyond what the UK already takes through Pay As You Earn, even despite the large cut in the dividend allowance for 2018/2019 our other taxable income falls within the free allowances over here so I shan't have to file with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs also.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
This month I haven't done well so far: I haven't achieved much and my workouts have become infrequent. After work I find myself feeling tired and cold so I just stay in the house. )

In particular, I wonder if my recent slowness has arisen partly from work. I have not been much of a fan of enterprise software frameworks. Recently I have been battling an upgrade of popular Java ones: Hibernate and Spring, with Hibernate Search atop Lucene. These frameworks are fine when they behave as expected but this month they haven't. ) I have pored through source code, documentation, framework reference guides, release notes, bug reports, etc. looking for clues.

Yesterday afternoon at work I reached a good enough point to allow us to move forward. I finally found workarounds for a couple of strange issues. ) Over the rest of the month I hope that things will work more easily so that I can frequently make tangible progress instead of puzzling over new stubborn mysteries. If one doesn't know if a code change will work without trying it, that's a bad sign.

I need to get back to writing in languages like Haskell. With that it is a lot easier to write code that clearly helps to solve the problem at hand without depending on complex frameworks so ) my paid use of mainstream approaches throws into sharp relief why, where I have a choice, I do things differently.

At work the indexer problems were but just one of several matters to which I should attend. )

My domestic to-do's are in a similar state. I have computer operating system overhaul work postponed from last year. However, as at work, urgent tasks are displace the important backlog. The end of winter brings gardening to-do's like pruning the crab-apple tree. I still need to file my FBAR with the US Treasury and ) I can now get my 2018 taxes done. Further, another time-sensitive issue is that of managing our investments as this year I expect ) to rebalance much further into corporate bonds or somesuch. In the meantime I shall pay more attention to relevant indicators. It is nice being in the UK: I consider only the NYSE and NASDAQ so after work once I have settled in the evening the trading day is still open. On a more urgent matter, in computing I also have server-side certificates to renew and install before the end of the month.

Some of my time has gone into helping my children with their math and science homework and revision. Just as I enjoy programming, I had forgotten how very much I enjoy those subjects. )

I had made slow progress at home in reading non-fiction but have continued to make easy progress with fiction: I am now moving on from Tom Baker's Scratchman to the Strugatskys' Roadside Picnic which I don't recall having read before. I also watched and enjoyed Predestination (2014): I do appreciate a movie to which the creators gave careful thought and that requires some attention from the viewer; it was a surprise bonus to see among its cast the guy who plays Hitler in Preacher (2016).

A month ago we had largely recovered from our holiday colds and I had mentioned needing to file my FBAR and having enjoyed some programming (these days, coding) at work. I was also noting that I should be able to fit into my life all I want and need to do. The stressors of last year are past and I hope that as work improves so will my ability to perform domestic tasks over coming weeks. I prefer not to take time off work to catch up on them: small but positive net progress will suffice and the opposite would require further time off as backlog reaccumulated.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
I am intentionally not very firm and ambitious about my exercise: I do not have the spare willpower to face it like an onerous chore. After some mildly irritating events earlier in the day, on Monday I didn't work out at all: I allow myself to skip the occasional day on a whim. Today, I felt like slacking off a bit so I did: most days I am on the cross-trainer for around half an hour and today I took a minute longer for the same number of strides. The less effort my workouts are, the more likely I will continue them.

My heart rate when I had finished today was in the 140s. That is already enough by normal standards. Though I do less than I used to, even my usual workouts these days still push me toward 170bpm which, though I feel okay at the time, is still high enough to make me cautious even without having any heart or blood pressure issues. Averaging 150bpm would be just fine: there is no need to push it even higher. What I take from this is that I should indeed feel free to take things a bit easy as I am still getting a good workout.

The caveat is that being gentler on the cross-trainer, not pushing harder against the resistance, is largely aerobic exercise. Cardiovascular fitness is my weak point anyway but perhaps a little bit of strength training would be better than none. I still use some resistance though: in my current workouts I average around 60% of the machine's maximum. Originally I had slowly worked up from an average of 40% to around 75% resistance. I also used to average nearly 60rpm but today was not much over 50rpm.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
Last Fall I'd mentioned that for external backup drives I would be shifting the relevant computer to NetBSD. What I have not yet mentioned is how needlessly irritating the disk encryption setup was. With LUKS or bioctl -c C or their ilk I would specify the underlying raw disk partition and a keyfile and whatever and be handed a mountable virtual disk bearing the plaintext.

NetBSD's cgdconfig is quite different. I must provide it a file that says which underlying device corresponds to which virtual device then I am supposed to use a command to generate another file that tells the system how to provide me a decrypted volume from the raw. Both the file-generation command and the file format are incompletely documented and not set up for my just providing a binary key in a file for ad hoc choice of device du jour. Whatever use case was in mind, it wasn't mine: I feel as if I actually want whatever the offered interface is a veneer over.

In the end I did get things working, mostly by creating the generated file by hand and being guided by the error messsages along the way then testing empirically that it appeared to do what I expected: e.g., it is actually reading the key I provided because if I change it for a different one then I can no longer mount the volume.

I am grateful that disk encryption is offered at all, I was just unprepared for the hoops NetBSD seemed to put in the way of, Somehow keyed against this random binary file, let me now use the given device as an encrypted volume. At least having figured it out once I have been able to reuse the recipe since.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Today I notice that champagne and orange juice are similarly calorific. That is convenient for being careless with the ratio when making mimosas. Last weekend when we had either ham or sausage to put on muffins, those disks of processed meat had the same calorie count so that simplified my food log. That the muffin I had on Monday happened to have the same number of calories as the potato I ate yesterday evening reminds me of the birthday paradox. (Well, tatties rather than potato, given Burns Night.)
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
Today I worked on a problem where Thing happens but if I do a Prevention before what triggers Thing then all is fine. I did a successful Prevention in place X then it was suggested to me that it would be better if I did Prevention in place Y instead, a method of a Java class from a different JAR. I thought that this would be fine but it failed to prevent the Thing.

I spent a fair bit of time today verifying that Prevention at Y still happens before Thing, learning all about the background of what goes on with Thing, looking for other causes of Thing, other ways to prevent it, etc. Perhaps more promptly I should have attended to the simpler question: If Prevention at X works yet Prevention at Y does not then, regardless of that they both happen before Thing, what about at other places between X and Y?

I realized that an automated bisection tool would have been very helpful: even across JARs, move the Prevention to different parts of the code path from which X first reaches Y to find Z, the intermediate point before which the Prevention must happen. The nature of that Z could be most revealing. It being Java one can easily instrument the virtual machine to discover what that code path is.

Fortunately I had a thought about what might stop Prevention from working then found one in between X and Y that experimentation strongly suggests is indeed such a Z. That discovery was a nice way to end the week.

Update: For those who are interested: Thing was an SSL exception, Prevention adjusted the TLS configuration affecting SSLEngine, Z was the location of a non-TLS web interaction with an http://… URL.
mtbc: maze D (yellow-black)
Even in our mild part of the carse it has been below freezing. I noticed that this triggered an old habit for me: in the US, where winter weather was rather more severe for us, I developed the habit of keeping the gas tank reasonably topped up: I did not want to be stopped in a tailback behind an collision on the freeway choosing between staying warm and having enough fuel to continue. This morning I caught myself trying to remember if the car has plenty of fuel. (It has a half tank for sure.) I suppose that it makes sense to still have those thoughts seeing as I look forward to returning to the US once our children are fledged.

In Dundee, forty minutes before sunrise I passed a bicyclist without lights. Perhaps they were balanced by the car sitting in the lot at work with its headlamps on. I sometimes wonder what people are thinking.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
I sometimes get headaches. My chosen painkiller depends somewhat on what we have abundant stock of. [personal profile] mst3kmoxie keeps acetaminophen and ibuprofen in stock; at the moment we also have naproxen. Living in the UK I like being able to buy codeine-combination drugs over the counter but I avoid them if I expect to drive. What actually works for me is not consistent. Perhaps I have neglected aspirin: in trying it a little lately I am often finding it to be helpful so I am starting to include it more often among my sources of relief.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
I occasionally wonder about a simple but strange machine that was in my childhood home. I am probably quite wrong about the dimensions but the machine took the form of a hollow metal tube maybe a foot long, a couple of inches in diameter and plated with chromium or somesuch. It had a metal plate closing each end and stood horizontally on those plates, maybe an inch above the tabletop. Along the top of the tube but toward one end of it was a button atop a short lever: one could press the button down some; the lever would move a short distance perhaps around a hinge I barely recall. In the center of the bottom of the tube was a small, shallow, conical protrusion with a tiny hole in its tip: pushing the top button made a small metal spike protude maybe but a couple of millimeters downward out of that hole. There must have been a spring somewhere inside the tube: releasing the button returned the machine to its prior state. I have no idea what the use of this device was.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
In my household I overheard an amusing, I can't keep up with all the Netflix things. Yeah. It's true. I actually have a Sky Arts show on in the background at the moment: they have a pleasant series in which Daniel Barenboim plays piano concertos. I was briefly confused by that he was both conducting and playing but he keeps his hands busy one way or the other.

With the New Year I had mentioned hoping to do better at making time for progress on my tasks outside paid employment. Last Sunday went quite well: I resecured the television antenna. )

Today I did a couple of minor things like shredding some papers (why must credit card payment slips include one's full card number?) and changing a smoke alarm battery. Tomorrow I plan to file my Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) with the Department of the Treasury, the government shutdown permitting; I've already pulled the papers I'll need to work through in compiling the summary.

I estimate that on weekdays by around 19h I have gotten home, worked out, showered and eaten. That should give me time to do something useful then watch a couple of shows to wind down before bed. I do love to spend time with my family but I probably also watch more than necessary each evening: such is a risk of on-demand streaming. I've been watching a handful of shows. ) Hardly the basis of a demanding schedule, fortunately.

I do need to plan my time better. At least writing this entry helped me to see that it should be quite possible to fit everything in; I just need to adjust my habits. Some evenings I already feel worn out, especially if I hadn't slept well, and I figure it is okay to just rest on those but that leaves many other evenings when I can take an hour after the meal to focus on something. Perhaps not imminently: our colds seem to be worsening again.
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
I like excuses to have to think about the code I am writing. Last week I spent a couple of days working on a script for deleting the data of users of our demo server. Their data is but temporary. ) In deciding which users' data to delete I wondered if I could at least construe the question multi-criterially and have the script make Pareto-optimal choices.

As for what those multiple criteria might be: for a user they could be how long it is since they last used their demo account, how much disk space their data takes and how many inodes it takes. Another criterion for a deletion plan might be how many users the plan affects. For such plans, if a user is to have their data deleted then the plan could target all the users they Pareto-dominate: where that other user logged in even longer ago or uses even more resources without being better on any count. Once I worked on what could be a plan-choosing interface. )

The cleanup of accounts on the demo server was just one of the side projects I looked at and I kept it a bit simpler than above. )

I greatly appreciate opportunities to think mathematically about my work. I also value others' ability to bring such thinking to bear. )
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
After Christmas I was the last of our family to present with the upper respiratory congestion, sore throat and cough that we had been sharing over the holidays. For me there were not many bad days but many mild ones. Even now I still have mild symptoms: I do hope that I am no longer infectious. Taking an acetaminophen and phenylephrine each morning seems to suffice: later in the day I feel better anyway. I also take one at bedtime because the symptoms disturb my sleep. I wonder for how much longer they will linger. I am glad of the combination of symptoms: were it just a cough then at this point I would be worrying about lung cancer and its ilk. And, being mild, they don't affect my life: I still go to work then work out at home, etc. After straining my back on Thanksgiving I am starting to wonder which ailment the next holiday will bring.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
When I lived in England my medical cards always bore my patient ID of 5 letters, 3 numbers. That numbering system is now obsolete. [personal profile] mst3kmoxie and I, previously having used the NHS in England, have our Scottish medical cards bearing both a 10 digit NHS number and a 6-4 digit CHI number; our children's show both a 3-2-4 NHS number and a 6-4 CHI number. I am surprised by the 3-2-4 format of my children's: I wonder if it is just an oddly spaced NHS number without its check digit.
mtbc: maze J (red-white)
While intentionally slacking off over the holidays I gained half a stone which is not too bad: it pushed me just over 75kg. I have decided to adjust my diet to be a little more generous, allowing me to eat 8MJ per day with some rollover of unused allowance. I expect to have few days off my diet over coming months and I hope that my weight slowly drifts downward again, recovering the margin I used last month.
mtbc: maze K (white-green)
Dundee's city center has a multi-level indoor mall at each end of the pedestrianized shopping area. One of those malls is the Wellgate Centre: three levels of stores with some vacant units then a couple more floors of car parking and the library from which I have now borrowed more science fiction: Sawyer's Calculating God and Watts' Echopraxia. The librarians are busy handling the intake of their books returned to other library branches over the holiday then transferred.

After British Home Stores collapsed the resulting department store vacancy at Wellgate was filled by T. J. Hughes who fit in well being a little more downmarket. Wellgate typically has at least an escalator or elevator out of service; the smaller Overgate Centre at the other end of the shopping area was greatly redeveloped and is correspondingly shinier.

Near the Wellgate Centre's main entrance is Dundee's remaining branch of the Bank of Scotland where I have my checking account, not to be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland who have a branch just a little further down. In Boston I would typically deposit funds at the Belmont Center branch of Cambridge Savings: their automated machine would read amounts off checks and saved me the hassle of filling out a deposit slip then putting everything in an envelope. Since moving back to Britain I had not seen such machines until I switched from Clydesdale: the Bank of Scotland deposit machines are equally convenient, on the receipt printing cash counts by denomination along with images of any checks.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
I start this year with a considerable backlog of personal projects and deferred maintenance. Once settled back into my routine I hope to do better at making time for progress on my tasks outside paid employment. I will have more to say on the larger picture but this entry is about a recent promising change.

For much of my life I have read a lot but in recent years hardly at all. Last Saturday I borrowed a couple of science fiction novels from the library, Carey's The Boy on the Bridge and Lostetter's Noumenon and over the following couple of days read them both which is most heartening. I am minded to go back today and borrow a couple more. If I can get back to reading then maybe I can also get back to other activities.

In pencil somebody had briefly annotated the first book with critical comments on its writing: I was amused to find myself agreeing. I reflected on how greatly I value editors: while I write reasonably I am in no doubt that guidance from a half-decent editor would much improve my work. I like clever people providing useful help.

A couple of days ago I recalled a scene from a recent story and tried to remember what it was from; it turned out to be from that first book. The memory may have confused me because it was so visual: I suppose that I must have been imagining the story as I read it and I simply remembered what I had invented. I also have a good memory of a handgun from a dream this morning but I suspect that I appropriated its appearance from one of the movies I saw over the holidays.
mtbc: maze I (white-red)
While chatting with one of my children as they played on the Nintendo Switch, talk of sprites reminded me of raster interrupts and I wondered if modern hardware makes them obsolete. Apparently so: Wikipedia's page about them mentions system support approximately through the 1980s. It is nice to see the two Commodore systems listed there: despite the company's series of poor business decisions I recall finding their hardware a rewarding pleasure to program for.

Some simple background: Raster interrupts offer a workaround for graphics hardware limitations. )

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mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Mark T. B. Carroll

February 2019

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