Month: February 2020

Composer Hangs

I don’t use composer often, and it generally just works … so I don’t know much about it beyond “another package manager”. But every once in a while, it just hangs. Nothing happening, nothing instructive in strace. Fortunately, composer has several levels of verbosity on the output. While the default output is minimal and offers absolutely no clue that it’s doing something … adding -vvv is a nicely verbose output that lets me see that the package install isn’t actually hung. It’s just going to take a long time.

Debate Qualification

A day or two ago, Bloomberg had 3 of the 4 required national polls to qualify. While I appreciate how unfair it is for him to be on the debate stage under modified rules that may have allowed other candidates to appear in previous debates. I get that the new rules make it a lot easier for super rich people to buy their way into contention. But, as a voter, I want to see him in a debate. Low-information voters exposure to him is a bunch of TV spots about how awesome he is and how much Obama loves him (at least, that’s what I’m seeing in Ohio). Even voters who put research into it … looking at any of these candidate’s web sites or listing to their stump speeches provides a one-sided view.
It was informative to see Buttigieg side-step questions about policing during his time in office. It was informative to see Sanders explaining his early votes against gun control (and, personally, I’ve always wanted to see a candidate say “I have new information, and I’ve changed my view”). It was informative to have known the whole context of Buttigieg’s “switch to cartoons” comment and how Kobluchar misrepresented his statement — and to see how ineffective he was countering the misrepresentation because I *know* Trump is going to do a lot of misrepresenting in the run up to the general election. It was informative to hear Castro’s position on foreign policy/aid as it impacts immigration policy.
Bloomberg is going to show up on my ballot as an option. The latest average I’ve seen for Ohio has him 5 percent above Warren and 4-5 percent behind Sanders and Biden. It’s not like he’s some random dude expected to get a couple hundred votes. I hope I’m able to hear him respond to questions he’d probably rather *not* have to answer. To hear him respond directly to other candidates. And, honestly, to help highlight why campaign finance reform is such an important topic. It’s not like the process will be made ‘fairer’ by disqualifying self-funded candidates from debates.

Equations: The Card Game

We came up with a new card game today — something to practice adding and subtracting (and mathematical thinking). Deal x cards (we’ve had five and seven to start). The remaining cards are the ‘draw’ pile. Flip one card over. Try to come up with an equation using the cards in your hand that combine with the flipped card to make an equation. Aces are 1, jacks are 11, queens are 12, and kings are 13.

There’s a King up — you’ve got 2, 5, 8, 9, and Q. 12(Q) + 9 – 8 = 13(K). You select one of the cards in your equation to place on the top of the face-up pile. The next person then tries to create an equation using the card you laid down.

Zero is a little special — there’s a some card up, x. If you have two cards of the same value, y. X plus Y minus Y equals X … and you can discard one of the cards you used in your equation.

If you cannot form an equation, you draw a card. The game ends when the face-down pile is exhausted. Add the values of the cards in your hand, and the person with the lowest value hand wins. This means you probably want to discard the highest value card in your equation (unless there’s a strategy to having the card — if I have an equation with 5 and 10, but have another 10 in my hand … I might want to hold on to the ten because the two tens are a 0 and are a guaranteed play).

Excel – Setting a Cell Value Based on Background Color

I need to programmatically parse an Excel file where items are grouped with arbitrary group sizes. We don’t want the person filling out the spreadsheet to need to fill in a group # column … so I’m exploring ways to read cell formatting so something like color can be used to show the groups. Reading the formatting isn’t a straight-forward process, so I wondered if Excel could populate a group number cell based on the cell’s attributes.

While it is possible, it’s not a viable solution. The mechanism to access data about a cell cannot be accessed directly and, unfortunately, requires a macro-enabled workbook. The mechanism also requires the user to remember to update the spreadsheet calculations when they have finished colorizing the rows. While I won’t be using this approach in my current project … I thought I’d record what I did for future reference.

We need to define a ‘name’ for the function. On the “Formulas” tab, select “Name Manager”.

Select ‘New’

Provide a name – I am using getBackgroundColor – and put the following in the “refers to” section: =GET.CELL(63,INDIRECT(“rc”,FALSE))

Now we can use this name within the cell formula:

Select the rows for your first group and change the “fill color” of the row.

Repeat this process to colorize all of your groups – you can re-use a color as long as adjacent groups have different colors. Notice that the “ColorGroup” values do not change when you colorize your groups.

On the “Forumlas” tab, select “Calculate Now”

Now the colorized cells will have a non-zero value.

Insurance, pt 2

We finally got around to calling Progressive about the difference in my quoted price v/s their renewal price … ugh! The first person we spoke to started out with ‘just cancel the old policy & open the new one’. Which, great — except it’s a pain. And we lose the ‘perks’ that come with being a long time customer. Including some 250$ off the deductible. Start a new policy, have the bad luck to get in an accident, and saving 150$ just cost me 250$. Not a great deal, that. Plus our home insurance is tied in with the car insurance. And the only reason I didn’t just buy insurance from GEICO (who had the lowest quoted price) is that I didn’t want to screw with the home insurance right now.

Luckily, she transferred us to an insurance agent for help. He checked and there was no way they could price the policy we had at the price quoted under my name. He was able to move the reduced deductible over to the new policy (although it’s still a pain that they have no provision for just swapping the names … and it’s even more of a pain that the person listed first makes such a difference in pricing!). Final price was 164$ for more coverage than the policy they wanted 321$ !?!?! Only took an hour and a half to get there! And I’ve got a really bad feeling the same thing can be done with the homeowners insurance. 🙁

How much fabric *do* you need for a peppermint swirl dress?

I love the Peppermint Swirl Dress, and I’ve made a few of them for Anya. The 5-year-old size easily fit within four yards of fabric — two yards of each colour. The 8-year-old size fit easily in six yards of fabric — three yards of each color (and about a half-yard of one color was left over, the half-yard from the other was used for the top of the dress). I think the 10-year-old size will be tight with six yards of fabric … but it’ll be a few years before I know for certain 🙂