Sex Disparity in Tech

There have been several articles [1, 2, 3]  in the last several years about the gender, or sex, disparity in what the press refers to as “tech companies” (more accurately, Silicon Valley software companies). There are racial disparities in representation as well, but this post will focus on the gender disparity.

While the US is about 50/50 male/female (48.9% male, 51.1% female in 2016 via Wolfram Alpha), the breakdown of college degrees is not.

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CNN’s 10 Most Filling Foods for Weight Loss

Article on entitled “Where fat goes when you lose weight” by Ruben Meerman and Andrew Brown of New South Wales University has a scroller at the top showcasing “the 10 most filling foods for weight loss.” The list:

  1. Baked potato
  2. Bean soup
  3. Eggs
  4. Greek yogurt
  5. Apples
  6. Popcorn
  7. Figs
  8. Oatmeal
  9. Wheat berries
  10. Smoothies


Their exemplary smoothie recipe is “put ice and fat-free milk or yogurt in a blender, add in fruit and give it a whirl. Sounds great. Skim milk and ice. Yum. Well, it might be a little lower calorie than Rhonda Patrick’s micronutrient smoothie, so I guess it’s got that going for it.

Linux which, Windows where

On Linux command line, the which command will help you find which executable is tied to a shell alias. For example, if you want to know what python executable is being called when you type python on the command line, you can do

$ which python

and it will print out the path to the python executable.

On Windows command line (cmd.exe), the analogous command is where
where python

This doesn’t work for builtin shell commands like dir (Windows) or cd (Linux) because they don’t actually point to an executable anywhere in the file system, they are built in to the shell.

Managing Path Environment Variable from Windows 10 Powershell

Things are a bit different on Windows 10 Powershell compared to the plain old cmd.exe of yore.

In powershell, here is what you do if you want to view the contents of your Path variable. First, open up a powershell terminal. Then, enter the following command:

> echo $env:Path

The contents of your Path variable will be printed to the terminal. You can also just type > $env:Path.

To change the Path variable, you can assign to it using the equals sign:

> $env:Path = "foo"

Don’t worry, doing this will only change your Path for the current Powershell. If you mess something up, you can open a new Powershell and it will have the default Path setting.

If you merely want to append (add) to the existing Path variable, you can do it like so:

> $env:Path = "$env:Path;foo"

This command will append foo to the Path. The semicolon ; is the path separator on Windows systems.

5 Useful Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Shortcuts

5 Useful Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Shortcuts

Here are some super-useful keyboard shortcuts for working with Virtual Desktops on Windows 10:

Ctrl + Win + D: Create a new Virtual Desktop

Ctrl + Win + Right/Left Arrow: Switch to next/previous Virtual Desktop

Win + Tab: Task View, then Tab to highlight your Virtual Desktops, Ctrl + W to close the selected one, or Enter to switch to it.

This one requires some explanation: The Task View shows all your open windows laid out in a tiled fashion, similar to Alt + Tab. However, you can take your fingers off the keys after pressing Win + Tab and the Task View remains active and, furthermore, the open windows are shown across all monitors on your system (so you can see which windows are on which monitors).

From Task View, you can also manage your Virtual Desktops. At the bottom of the screen, you will see all your Virtual Desktops. If you only have one desktop, you will only see a “New Desktop” button in the lower right. By pressing the Tab key, the cursor will move down to the Virtual Desktop area and you can then use the arrow keys to highlight a Virtual Desktop. With a Virtual Desktop highlighted, you can then press Ctrl + W to close it, or press Enter to switch to it.

Why Nations Fail

This book isn’t very good. I will not finish it. The main thesis seems to be that nations with “inclusive” institutions succeed, while those with “extractive” institutions fail. This view seems overly simplistic — obviously, there is a continuous spectrum between wholly inclusive or wholly extractive (side note: I am not sure these terms are ever precisely defined). Perhaps the authors, Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James A. Robinson of Harvard University, seek to classify an institution on the balance of its inclusive and extractive qualities. The authors never seem to form a theory of what causes an institution to become inclusive or extractive.

I am giving away this book because it has sat on my shelf for years. It is surprisingly dust-free.

Here is a direct example of a stupid statement, which I, on a whim, just happened upon by opening to a random page (pp. 318 “The Virtuous Circle – The Slow March of Democracy”):

“The conservative English commentator Edmund Burke, who steadfastly opposed the French Revolution, wrote in 1790, ‘It is with infinite caution that any man should venture upon pulling down an edifice, which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.’ Burke was wrong on the big picture. The French Revolution had replaced a rotten edifice and opened the way for inclusive institutions not only in France, but throughout much of Western Europe. But Burke’s caution was not entirely off the mark. The gradual process of British political reform, which had started in 1688 and would pick up pace three decades after Burke’s death, would be more effective because its gradual nature made it more powerful, harder to resist, and ultimately more durable.”

This whole paragraph is stupid. The French Revolution was a bloodbath. The Reign of Terror was called that for a reason. France eventually recovered. England’s reforms, by the author’s own words, were more effective, powerful and durable because they occurred more gradually. How do these two anecdotes prove Burke wrong about using “infinite caution” when reforming a culture’s longstanding institutions?

Getting autocomplete-python Atom plugin to work on Windows with WinPython

I stumbled around for a little bit with this one. The path to the Python executable must be set in the configuration settings for the Atom autocomplete-python package, and the part of the path with the executable filename must include the .exe filename extension.

For example, the full path to my WinPython executable is C:\Users\UserName\WinPython-64bit-\python-3.5.3.amd64\python.exe. Entering this path exactly as shown here worked.

3D/GPU-related display problems with Atom editor on Xubuntu 16.04 VM

Was having a problem with Atom editor on a new Ubuntu/Xubuntu 16.04 virtual machine. Launching Atom using the --disable-gpu option seems to fix the problem:

$ atom --disable-gpu


Next, need to figure out how to modify the application launch item in the Whisker Menu so that it executes that command instead of the vanilla $ atom command.


Resetting a Brother HL-5250DN printer to factory default settings

I have an old Brother HL-5250DN black and white laser printer that I found via Craigslist. I want to set up the printer as a network printer on my home network — the first step is to factory reset the printer so that I can regain access to the admin control panel!

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