Author: Ollie

Stop tax cheats: pay bounties

Back in the 1970s, the US government paid bounties to citizens who identified big polluters and helped bring them to justice. Some of those bounties helped found the Riverkeeper organization that keeps watch on the Hudson River to this day. Those bounties helped make water and air much cleaner. In the twenty-teens we have another situation where government needs help:… Read more →

Plant UML

Software designers sometimes need to present UML sequence diagrams like this one. This kind of thing is absurdly fiddly to draw with most graphics packages. But there’s a language called PlantUML that allows us to write them as text and render them in various software tools, including WordPress with the plugin called PlantUML Renderer. The text for this example is… Read more →

Jupyter on Raspberry pi

Jupyter is an excellent free open source package for literate programming, especially in Python. It’s nice because it keeps a good record of what you try in experimental programming. And it’s easy to tidy up your work when you figure out what you’ve done, and store or publish it. It’s also sweet because it’s a web app. You can program… Read more →

Avoiding Amazon

It’s hard to avoid the Amazon behemoth even if you prefer to send your business to other companies. And, there’s not a whole lot an individual householder can do to spread the wealth around because, not much wealth. But here are a few things you can do. Most importantly: try to think of yourself as a householder or citizen, not… Read more →

Flagging “bad” content cannot make social media safer

Social media platforms get in public hot water these days for they way they recommend material to their users. Ysabel Gerrard and Tarleton Gillespie wrote an an article in Wired called When Algorithms Think You Want to Die.  They described how Pinterest and other platforms, by their recommendations, amplify peoples’ exposure to potentially dangerous material. The mechanism is straightforward. When… Read more →

Super simple Javascript Queue class

It’s tempting, when in a hurry, to create a queue object in Javascript with an array. To enqueue something, push() it onto the array. To dequeue it, shift() it off. It works. But it’s slow, because shift() takes O(n) time where n is the length of the queue. Kate Morely cooked up an almost-as-simple but much faster queue implementation. She… Read more →

Grid-interactive power? When?

National Grid, the company selling electricity here in eastern Massachusetts, ran a Smart Energy Solutions pilot program in Worcester from 2015-2018. Serving about 15,000 customers, this program gave discounts when customers used energy off-peak.  Here’s how it worked. As of November 2018, they sold energy at three rates: Off-peak: $0.10697 per kWh On-peak: $0.13100 per kWh Peak-event (brownout conditions): $0.66997… Read more →