Archive for the ‘Reflection’ Category

Keeping The Problem Stack Small

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

To grapple effectually with even purely material problems requires more serenity of mind and more lofty courage than people generally imagine.

-Joseph Conrad, An Outpost of Progress

Having followed the logs for a few years with a computer science degree from the "premier engineering and science institution in the world", writing your own version of V should be a simple task, no? You've already escaped the clutches of society, having left the US and all its bureaucratic pantsuitness behind as you arrived in your new home in a new world. You can read the blogs of men to learn about the first time in history when text was deliberately structured with due consideration given not only to its meaning, but also to its source, and to its context. No one is there to look over your shoulder and ask you why you are not on one of the Approved Websites. You have all the time in the world!

But before you open emacs or vim and get started on your ~371 line program, there's a few tasks that your new environment demands you take care of. You'll have to figure out the issue. The cheap apartment you found came with a beautiful view, but some of its inner functioning is out of order. And while you're fixing the plumbing you may want to consider removing the electrical cables sticking out of the heating device on the shower head.

First things first though - you need to get yourself a good meal. There's not exactly a deli right on the corner nor a seamless service where you can just click click click and food appears - you have to cook yourself. I mean you could walk in the hot sun to the local soda1 20 minutes each way and order a casado,2 but the whole point of moving to a new country was to build up some goddamn independence!

Well now that that's done - and you're slightly sustained although the food wasn't really the greatest and there's a mess to cleanup because when you washed the pan you left water droplets that later evaporated blasting hot olive oil on you and nearby surfaces - you can get to handling the plumbing issues. So you reach for the wrench you realize you don't have. You've never needed one since you could always make a phone call to some magician - the super - to deal with these kind of issues. So you decide okay you can live with the plumbing problem for now.

The next morning would provide a great window of time to handle the V task, but there were a few disturbances that prevented a good night's sleep. You learned your apartment's membrane is rather permeable. Some mosquitoes found their way in through the tears in the screens or the cracks in the wood or the gaps in the doorway. So you had to fall asleep to the buzzing of a flying syringe that probably did wind up stabbing you after you gave up spending time trying to kill it.

Despite the lack of sleep you should get started on that task, but the morning came with all the previous problems and more. There's the basic chores: take out the trash, sweep the house, do the laundry, wash the dishes. There's a cut you got on your foot you absolutely must clean thoroughly. There's a trip to the store you need to make because you managed to forget salt on the extensive shopping list you wrote for the previous trip. And worst of all, there's an ant invasion to deal with; you tried your best to clean up all the food but you live in a ~jungle and billions of years of evolution made the little guys energy efficient. That one crumb and the moist sink was all they needed.

Annoyed by these overhanging problems, which also includes un hongo3 that has found refuge in the sweat of your labor, you to decide to put your troubles aside for a minute and go surf. It's what you call a hobby and maybe sometimes it is that but right now it is an escape. An escape from dealing with the aforementioned problems but also from thinking about the ones surely to come.

Society has always taken care of these problems for you - not from any tenderness, but because of its strange needs.4 But society did not teach you how to solve problems for yourself. Instead all it did was give temporary solutions or solutions that make you dependant. For example, society stocks its stores with Raid, a chemical that kills the ants in front of you but not the queen that hides in a cavity respawning those ants you just killed. Society will sell a call to pop() on the stack of your problems, but it has no incentive to help you stop the processes that push() shit onto that same stack.

Effort spent manually popping the stack is almost always effort wasted. Fixing a surface level problem - such as killing male ants - may temporarily ameliorate your situation but it is not the type of action that will improve your standard of living. If you only spend your time fixing what's right in front of you, you'll either arrive at some push() pop() equilibrium point or become overwhelmed.

The serene mind must reason to find and remove the sources of problems. They are always hidden from sight. Because if the evil processes were out in the open, one would already have killed them. And as the mind meditates on how to find long term solutions, it's okay to temporarily let the stack of problems grow. The mind needs to have confidence that the patient search for larger, longer term solutions will yield results. And once those results have been realized one can finally pop the stack down and use the time freed to create beautiful things such as a working V.

  1. A soda is a small home-cooked style restaurant (sometimes w/ only 1 table) that serves typical Costa Rican food. []
  2. A casado is the typical dish served in sodas. The specific ingredients vary, but the template is rice & beans + a salad + a choice of meat or fish. []
  3. The Spanish word for mushroom is also used for the general term fungus. Costa Rica has a few hongos that can cultivate themselves in the creases in your elbow / behind your knees. It looks like an eczema and is easily treatable with anti-fungal cream. []
  4. The full quote:

    To grapple effectually with even purely material problems requires more serenity of mind and more lofty courage than people generally imagine. No two beings could have been more unfitted for such a struggle. Society - not from any tenderness, but because of its strange needs, had taken care of those two men, forbidding them all independent thought, all initiative, all departure from routine; and forbidding it under pain of death. They could only live on condition of being machines. And now, released from the fostering care of men with pens behind the ears, or of men with gold lace on the sleeves, they were like those lifelong prisoners who, liberated after many years, do not know what use to make of their freedom. They did not know what use to make of their faculties, being both, through want of practice, incapable of independent thought.


Final Selected Parts For My First Computer

Friday, November 29th, 2019

After previously picking parts for my computer I discovered bestcomputersa's list of items on their website was completely incosistent with their actual stock. diana_coman decided the best option for me was to follow my original plan of ordering parts from the states. But the day before I gave up sourcing from Costa Rican stores, the rep from pcgamingcr responded to messages I had sent him a few days prior. After that initial delayed reply, he was constitently responsive through Whatsapp. Pcgamingcr had the coveted AMD FX-8350 with compatible motherboards and video cards. I managed to order everything I needed1 from them and cococo. The guts of the computer cost $1,123. The I/O devices and accessories totaled $1,259 bringing the final cost to $2,382. The items I bought are listed below.2

I. Guts

CPU AMD FX-8350 (CPU/MB/VC combo = 273mil, $486)
Motherboard GA-970A-UD3P (rev 2) (see CPU)
Graphics Card Radeon RX-550 Sapphire (see CPU)
RAM 2x Corsaair vengeance 8GB ddr memory 1600 MHz (89mil, $158)
PSU Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 850 (95mil, $169)
Primary SSD 1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD ($140)
Backup Mechnical Drive 64MB 1TB Seagate Barracuda (30mil, $53)
Case Corsair Carbide Spec 06 (58mil, $103)
SD Card Reader Lector de Memoria Interno Xtech3 (8mil, $14)

II. I/O + Accessories

Monitor Dell 24 Monitor: P2419H (166.5mil, $292)
Keyboard Ergodox. ($325)4
Mouse Marvo Scorpion5 (24mil, $43)
UPS UPS APC SMT15006 (319.5 mil, $569)
Thermal Paste 4x 2g Arctic MX-4 Thermal Paste ($30)

  1. Save the Samsung SSD and thermal paste that thimbronion graciously offered to bring from the states + the ergodox keyboard. []
  2. Prices are listed as (colones, usd) with an exchange rate of 562 colones to the usd. If I bought the item with usd directly then I list only the usd price. []
  3. I could not find a link to the spec details on xtech's website. It can read USB, SD, Micro SD, XD, MMC. I am not quite sure what an XD or MMC is. []
  4. In addition I expect to pay a yet unknown import tax. []
  5. Pcgamingcr did not tell me the exact model of mouse, I was looking only for a cheap option. The mouse came with a keyboard I can use while I wait for my fancy Ergodox to get here from Taiwan. []
  6. Recommended Replacement Batteries - Optima Batteries 8052-161 D31M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Battery []

Candidate components for whaack's first build

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Below is the prospective parts list for the machine I intend to use as my work station. To produce this list I first read through kitchentablecomputer's "Computer Parts" section. After reading the various buying guides, I started picking components based around the processor from the machine on which diana_coman installed cuntoo. The parts also had to be available on bestcomputersa. Once I made my list I checked the other store recommended by handbot,, for better options for the various parts. I only made one change: I replaced my ₡147,500.00 480GB Kingston SSD with a $140 1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD + a ₡36,500.00 1TB Seagate Barracuda mechnical backup hard drive1 The price for all the guts (not including S+H, taxes, etc.) comes out to ₡623,500.00 + $140 , ~ $1215.

Further work includes making a buy list for I/O devices,2 miscellaneous parts,3 and building tools.4


₡ 142,500.00

Amd Am3 Fx8350, spec


₡ 64,500.00

Gigabyte Ga-970A-Ds3P, spec


₡ 44,000.00 x2

Corsaair vengeance 8GB ddr memory 1600 MHz x2, spec

Graphics Card

₡ 120,500.00

GTX 750ti ddr5 4GB, spec

Hard Drive

$ 139.99

1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD

Backup Internal Mechanical Hard Drive:

₡ 36.500,00
DD 1TB Seagate Barracuda SATA 64MB 3.5 7200RPM


₡ 115,000.00

Corsair RM850x plus gold, spec

Cooling 7

₡ 12,500.00

Corsaair-fan-air-series-af120, spec

Case 8

₡ 44,000.00

Corsair RED LED Mid Tower Gaming Case, spec

  1. It was coincidence that the best SSD option I found for myself is the same SSD diana_coman used in her machine. The Seagate Barracuda is a mechnical drive, which should have been obvious given the specs I listed. []
  2. Most notably the monitor []
  3. Such as an ethernet cable []
  4. Such as a screwdriver set and an anti-static device. []
  5. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 21.5cm.

    Note: I have to confirm with bestcomputersa the version of the BIOS is from post 2013, otherwise the motherboard will not support the FX-8350. []

  6. I need to check this fully modular PSU comes with a sufficient number of the correct cables to connect to every power drawing component I have. []
  7. I still need to find thermal paste. []
  8. 447mm x 200mm x 428mm []

Verifying My Understanding

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

I have spent the past few days pondering why I tried to create links conforming to the new the html selection method before investigating their proper format. The first reason I came up with was I had thought it best to forgo investing time on understanding the new mechanism in order to get my work done quickly. But I discarded this dubious explanation because I am quite aware of the importance of learning before doing.1 The cause of my error comes from a deeper problem: I trick myself into believing I understand that which I don't.

When I read mp's comment

"Please use the ?b&e=#select selection mechanism instead."

I thought "huh, mp must have a new way to avoid having to use javascript for selecting text by passing in the flags b&e as query params."2 I "confirmed" my theory by verifying my malformed links selected their intended text.3 My bullshit experiment gave evidence to support my hallucination that I knew how to create urls for the new selection tool. Having falsely convinced myself that I understood what I was doing, I thought it okay to move forward and thus proceeded to produce the broken links.

There are two bad habits I've identified from this fiasco. One of them is inferring what tools do/how to use them. Instead of guessing their operation, I must RTFM. The other bad habit is duping myself with faulty experiments that are just the mind's way to convince itself what it already believes is truth.4 I need to find the rest of these bad habits, kill all of them, and be suspicious of my understanding when I learn something new.

  1. The explanation is also dubious because a mind's first answer to self exploration questions is often a trap. []
  2. I was correct in guessing the new selection mechanism did not require javascript, but I could have just as likely been wrong. []
  3. I viewed the links on a javascript enabled browser, so my test gave me no reason to think I was using a new selection mechanism. []
  4. This process of minds duping themselves into believing what they want to believe is easy to see on a macro scale in America with all the "A new study shows __" articles that get printed everyday. But it is harder to catch when looking into the mirror. []