Website scores kill our success, waste our time

Many websites score us. They measure our reputation or activity.

Do you want to be successful? Don’t focus on these website scores. Focus on outcomes.

Example scores

Website scores are really gamification. With these scores, site owners induce you to do things that benefit them.

Here’s scores from some nerdy sites I use:

Github scores my contributions:

Aren Cambre’s Github score

Stack Overflow scores the judgment of others on my activity:

Aren Cambre’s Stack Overflow score

Hacker News scores the upvotes of my submissions or comments:

Aren Cambre’s Hacker News score

None of these scores meaningfully measure anything important about me.

Scores don’t matter…

Your time is your most precious asset. When you focus on these website scores, you’re giving away your most precious asset, just to enrichen company owners.

These scores don’t matter. These websites don’t even know your goals!

…unless you made the score

The scores that matter will be the ones you’ve created, that measure your progress to your own goals.

For example, I ran a Cub Scout day camp for four years. Wanting to have maximum positive effect on the community, I have a “go big or go home” approach to Scouting. I rated myself in part on how well the camp recruited participants. That is a score I made for myself. It helped us set new records.

Participant registration trends at a Cub Scout day camp I ran.

Focus for success

If website scores end up being good, that’s fine! But make sure those great scores are merely incidental. They should not be your goal.

Focus on scores that matter. They will be the ones you created. They will help you know your path to your goals.

You can ignore pro-Trump witness accounts of the capitol insurrection

What do you do when someone whitewashes the January 6 rally/insurrection with eyewitness accounts? Normally, respectful debate traditions have you listen and objectively evaluate the points.

Fun fact: Attendees to the January 6 Trump rally/insurrection are not credible. It is each attendee’s responsibility to regain their personal credibility. Until that happens, you don’t need to engage in a loathsome, soul-sucking discussion. You can freely dismiss their entire witness accounts and move on.

NOTE: This article is about establishing facts about the rally/insurrection. You generally don’t establish credible facts using the accounts of non-credible witnesses. There are other reasons why you may wish to discuss the rally/insurrection with someone, such as a conversation of understanding. That is a different matter and is touched on when I discuss redemption below.

Isn’t this fallacious? No.

That may sound like attacking the person instead of the argument. Indeed, that is normally a genetic fallacy or an ad hominem fallacy.

However, the credibility of witness accounts hinge on credibility of the observer. Establishing the credibility of the observer is a necessary part of establishing reliability of any witness testimony.

Affirming non-credibility of attendees

Simply attending the Trump rally/insurrection shows astoundingly bad moral and intellectual discernment. Here’s why:

It is evil to attempt to steal a fair election. That point stands on its own.

For months, Trump and his friends justified their evil with the big lie, a Nazi propaganda tactic. They promulgated repeated, colossally false claims.

The January 6 rally/insurrection was to celebrate evil and a big lie. People who attend an event that celebrates evil and a big lie are broadcasting profoundly faulty judgment and moral corruption.

Confirmation bias makes it worse. That happens when people bias their words to reinforce their own choices. For example, product reviews are more favorable when the reviewer purchased the reviewed product. A positive review is likely; otherwise, the reviewer would be repudiating his or her own choice.

Confirmation bias will encourage witnesses to portray their involvement, and the rally/insurrection itself, in the best light. This helps attendees avoid troubling questions about their own moral discernment and intellect. That’s why you see so many false stores of Antifa involvement, blame-shifting to unrelated events or actors, sanitizing of the rally/insurrection’s causes, and more. “I would never choose to attend an evil rally/insurrection. It was those outsiders!”

Attending the rally/insurrection is a large commitment. That amplifies the confirmation bias.

All the above eliminates the credibility of attendees. In addition to showing horrible judgment, they have powerful reasons to lie about the rally/insurrection.

A path to redemption

Why does all this matter? I’ve seen some of these witness accounts, where they whitewash the rally/insurrection. While the verifiable parts of their accounts do not contradict the truthful narrative, these truth-ish parts are enveloped in lies.

Since the rally/insurrection attendee is who starts from the position of lacking credibility, it is that attendee’s responsibility to regain credibility. That may happen by the attendee providing credible verification for every fact, even if plainly obvious. For example, if the attendee says “the sky is blue”, the attendee must also provide credible information to substantiate that.

Nothing the attendee says can escape this verification. Even if, say, the attendee shared three verified facts in a row, that in no way prejudges the next fact. Every fact the attendee alleges may be dismissed out of hand until corroborated with reliable information.

Providing verification of individual facts will get tedious for the attendee. I get it. But it is necessary given the attendee’s non-credibility. If the attendee wishes to regain credibility as a person, step one is to cleanly and irrevocably repudiate the big lie. This is a starting point–just a starting point–for the attendee’s redemption. If this repudiation is genuine, the attendee will unhesitantly share deeply negative sentiment on Trump’s election-steal agenda.

Here’s the funny thing about the above redemption paths: neither of them makes the attendee’s account worth anything! If facts are verified, then they are simply matching voluminous, reliable information. In other words, they are simply affirming what conscientious people already know! These facts did not meaningfully expand the body of knowledge. (I acknowledge a chance of me being wrong, but the record of the Trump apparatus suggests that chance is vanishingly small.)

Concluding remarks

An important exception: None of this applies to those who attended for sound reasons, such as journalists, the opposition, and more. While verification of their words remains important, they do not start from a position of immense non-credibility.

To summarize, the witness accounts of those attending the January 6 Trump rally/insurrection are not credible. Simply by showing up, attendees demonstrated severe personal flaws, destroying their credibility. Also, attendees have powerful incentives to lie. It is up to the attendees to establish credibility of their words. Until then, rally/insurrection witness accounts are trash and can be summarily disregarded.

Android is better than iPhone

UPDATE (the next day): I scored each of the 17 reasons why Android is better than iPhone (and four areas where iPhone is better), and the net score tells me to keep the iPhone.

I don’t understand why people like the iPhone so much. After 10 days, I am unimpressed. I wrote about my experience at iPhone is inferior to Android.

I’ve switched back to my Pixel 4 XL. If I don’t miss the iPhone in a couple of days, I’ll return it.

Installing R on Raspberry Pi 4 with Ubuntu 20.10 (64-bit)

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a great incremental improvement of the RPi platform. It handles Ubuntu 20.10 64-bit decently.

I mainly use R for my data-science practice, and I wanted to try R on this RPi. As of November 29, 2020, there are no pre-built packages I can use to install R. At a minimum, no r-base-core package is available for the arm64 platform at the R package repository. You have to compile R yourself.

Here’s a way to do it. AndrĂ©s Castro Socolich provided most of this, and I edited a couple of steps. Open a terminal window (Ctrl-Alt-T) and run the below lines, one at a time. Be advised: I have an RPi 4 with 8 GB RAM, and it used almost half the RAM at one point. Also, the first make command will take a long time.

  1. sudo apt update
  2. sudo apt upgrade
  3. sudo apt-get install -y gfortran libreadline6-dev libx11-dev libxt-dev libpng-dev libjpeg-dev libcairo2-dev xvfb libzstd-dev texinfo texlive texlive-fonts-extra screen wget zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev liblzma-dev libpcre2-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev openjdk-11-jdk
  4. cd /usr/local/src
  5. sudo wget
  6. sudo su
  7. tar zxvf R-4.0.3.tar.gz
  8. cd R-4.0.3
  9. ./configure --enable-R-shlib
  10. make
  11. make install
  12. cd ..
  13. rm -rf R-4.0.3*
  14. exit
  15. cd

You’re done! To run R, type R (yes, capital R) at the command prompt.

DISD’s busing is a clown show

Dallas ISD’s Student Transportation Services (STS) is a clown show.

Violations of DISD’s pandemic practices: too-small bus and no temperature readings.

This school year starts my eighth year of enduring poor busing service. This year started with a comedy of failures, and STS slashed its bus-stop count.

STS had the whole summer to get everything right. They also had a full week of route-running under their belt: the first grade of each school was in session a week before all other grades.

As is DISD STS’s custom, school-year start is a series of failures:

  • On days 1 and 2, the bus driver declined to check student temperatures, even denying that it’s her responsibility. (See above video. It may not be fully intelligible in the video due to other noise, but the driver both says 1. she has no temperature sensor and 2. it is someone else’s responsibility to check student temperatures.)
  • On day 1, five kids on the route were abandoned at their school. DISD sent a too-small bus. It had less capacity than the number of students who entered the bus that morning at just one stop!
  • On day 2, despite a promise made to me late on day 1 by a director at the Lawnview Service Center, DISD continued sending a too-small bus. Bus was overloaded per one-student-per-seat rules, and had wrong number on placard.
  • On days 1-3, the bus was missing from the My Stop app.
  • While STS finally added a way for parents to contact them in writing, the feature has a confusing interface, so it will block many parents from submitting concerns.
  • STS continues to direct parents to school staff for matters that are STS’s responsibility, including but not limited to questions about routes.

It gets worse.

Last year, in Dallas ISD to worsen bus service and fix no problems, I predicted DISD STS was going to turn the screws on parents. They exceeded my cynical expectation: they are now twisting the knife!

DISD STS deleted almost a third of all choice-school bus stops!

This is how you completely screw over parents: delete a third of bus stops.

DISD STS’s “make things better by making it much, much worse” bus-hub proposal is now our reality.

Transportation is a crucial service. It should not be a clown show. Check out my Improvement plan for DISD Student Transportation Services (busing).