Older blog entries for etbe (starting at number 1017)

Cheap Android Tablet from Aldi

back of the onix 7 inch tablet front of the onix 7 inch tablet and cover of manual

I’ve just bought a 7″ Onix tablet from Aldi. It runs Android 4.0.4, has a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, 512M of RAM, 16G of flash storage, and a 800*480 display. They are selling rapidly and I don’t know how long they will last – probably you could get a returned one next week if you can’t get one today. But if you like pink then you may be able to get one (the black ones are selling out first).

The tablet seems like a nice piece of hardware, solid construction and it feels nice to hold. Mine has a minor screen defect, but that’s the sort of
thing you expect from a cheap device, apart from that the display is good.

The Wifi doesn’t seem to have as good a range as some other devices (such as my phones and the more expensive 10″ tablet I got from Kogan). This isn’t a
problem for me (the data intensive uses for this device will be in the same room as the AP) but could be a killer for some people. If you have your phone or a dedicated 3G Wifi AP in your pocket while using the tablet then it should be fine, but if you have an AP at the wrong end of your house then you could be in trouble. I found Youtube unusable due to slow downloading even when sitting next to my AP but I can play videos downloaded from iView that are on my local web server (which is more important to me). I expect that I will be able to play local copies of TED talks too.

The camera is bad by phone camera standards, fortunately I have no interest in using a tablet as a camera.

I had no real problems with the Google Play store (something that caused problems for some users of an earlier Aldi Android tablet). Generally the tablet works well.

The people who build Android for modern devices seem remarkably stupid when it comes to partitioning, every device I’ve seen has only a small fraction of the storage usable for apps. This tablet is the worst I’ve ever seen, it has 16G of storage of which there is 512M partitioned for apps of which only 400M is free when you first get the device! It comes pre-installed with outdated versions of the Facebook client and Google Maps (which isn’t very useful on a Wifi device) and some other useless things. If you upgrade them to the latest versions then you’ll probably lose another 100M of the 512M! Fortunately the Android feature to run apps from the VFAT partition works so I haven’t been prevented from doing anything by this problem yet.

In conclusion, it’s not the greatest Android tablet. But you don’t expect a great tablet for $100. What I hoped for was a somewhat low spec tablet that works reasonably well and that’s what I got. I’m happy.

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Syndicated 2012-12-05 07:01:02 from etbe - Russell Coker

Recruiting at a LUG Meeting

I’m at the main meeting of Linux Users of Victoria (my local LUG). A couple of recruiting agents from Interpro [1] are here and have been working the crowd, one of them is on each side of the room and it seems that their plan is to speak to every person at the meeting and ask about whether they are looking for work.

It is apparently difficult for them to find good Linux candidates and they hope to find people here (they are mainly looking for a senior programmer/team leader and an experienced sysadmin). One of my friends is looking for work but he’s got two interviews for arranged for this week so they will have to be quick if they want to get him. I guess this means that the economy must be going well, or at least it’s not too difficult for Linux people to find work (which is what matters the most to me).

Attending the meeting and talking to people is a good business idea for the recruiters and is generally good for members of the group. Before the meeting starts and during the intermission people just hang out and talk, asking them if they are looking for work generally won’t harm anyone and can really help some people. I wouldn’t want to see multiple agencies doing this at every meeting, but I think that having it happen occasionally is a good thing.

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Syndicated 2012-12-04 08:18:53 from etbe - Russell Coker

Links November 2012

Julian Treasure gave an informative TED talk about The 4 Ways Sound Affects US [1]. Among other things he claims that open plan offices reduce productivity by 66%! He suggests that people who work in such offices wear headphones and play bird-songs.

Naked Capitalism has an interesting interview between John Cusack and Jonathan Turley about how the US government policy of killing US citizens without trial demonstrates the failure of their political system [2].

Washington’s blog has an interesting article on the economy in Iceland [3]. Allowing the insolvent banks to go bankrupt was the best thing that they have ever done for their economy.

Clay Shirky wrote an insightful article about the social environment of mailing lists and ways to limit flame-wars [4].

ZRep is an interesting program that mirrors ZFS filesystems via regular snapshots and send/recv operations [5]. It seems that it could offer similar benefits to DRBD but at the file level and with greater reliability.

James Lockyer gave a movingTEDx talk about his work in providing a legal defence for the wrongly convicted [6]. This has included overturning convictions after as much as half a century in which the falsely accused had already served a life sentence.

Nathan Myers wrote an epic polemic about US government policy since 9-11 [7]. It’s good to see that some Americans realise it’s wrong.

There is an insightful TED blog post about TED Fellow Salvatore Iaconesi who has brain cancer [8]. Apparently he had some problems with medical records in proprietary formats which made it difficult to get experts to properly assess his condition. Open document standards can be a matter of life and death and should be mandated by federal law.

Paul Wayper wrote an interesting and amusing post about “Emotional Computing” which compares the strategies of Apple, MS, and the FOSS community among other things [9].

Kevin Allocca of Youtube gave an insightful TED talk about why videos go viral [10].

Jason Fried gave an interesting TED talk “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work” [11]. His main issues are distraction and wasted time in meetings. He gives some good ideas for how to improve productivity. But they can also be used for sabotage. If someone doesn’t like their employer then they could call for meetings, incite managers to call meetings, and book meetings so that they don’t follow each other and thus waste more of the day (EG meetings at 1PM and 3PM instead of having the second meeting when the first finishes).

Shyam Sankar gave an interesting TED talk about human computer cooperation [12]. He describes the success of human-computer partnerships in winning chess tournaments, protein folding, and other computational challenges. It seems that the limit for many types of computation will be the ability to get people and computers to work together efficiently.

Cory Doctorow wrote an interesting and amusing article for Locus Magazine about some of the failings of modern sci-fi movies [13]. He is mainly concerned with pointless movies that get the science and technology aspects wrong and the way that the blockbuster budget process drives the development of such movies. Of course there are many other things wrong with sci-fi movies such as the fact that most of them are totally implausible (EG aliens who look like humans).

The TED blog has an interesting interview with Catarina Mota about hacker spaces and open hardware [14].

Sociological Images has an interesting article about sporting behaviour [15]. They link to a very funny youtube video of a US high school football team who make the other team believe that they aren’t playing – until they win [16]

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Syndicated 2012-11-26 06:01:06 from etbe - Russell Coker

Geeky Jeans

It’s likely that most people make things like comfort, style, and price the main criteria when purchasing clothes. But there are other things that can be more important such as the ability to fit a phone in the pocket.

My last pair of jeans was from Rivers (one of the more affordable Australian clothing stores which also has online sales) [1]. They were the “long leg” version and have front pockets that are 28cm deep (measured from the bottom of the pocket to the lowest part of the lip) and 15cm wide (a 15cm ruler will barely fit sideways in the pocket).

I’ve just got some new jeans from Rivers which are the regular leg length, they have front pockets which are 21cm deep and slightly more than 16cm wide.

The old pair could fit a Nexus 7 tablet in the front pocket. The new pair should more easily fit such a tablet in the pocket but it might be less comfortable to walk with the tablet in the pocket. I don’t plan to try using my front pocket for a tablet (I’d be more likely to use a backpack or my Scott e vest [2]), but a Galaxy Note 2 (which is about the largest device that most people would want in their pocket) would fit nicely.

I find the Rivers jeans to be quite comfortable and I like the way they look. They also only cost $25 online or $30 in the store. When I bought my first pair before I even had a 4″ phone they were good value and they will be even better value early next year when I get a bigger phone. Even though Rivers jeans may wear out faster than more expensive brands, for $30 it’s easy to just buy a few pairs at a time.

During an email discussion of geeky clothing the issue of women’s clothes having fewer and smaller pockets was raised. Unfortunately I didn’t think to measure the pockets in women’s jeans when I was at the Rivers to discover whether they have big pockets too. I’ll do that next time I’m in the area.

Syndicated 2012-11-17 00:09:33 from etbe - Russell Coker

Rape Apology and LCA 2011

After a lecture at LCA 2011 included some inappropriate slides there was a long discussion on several mailing lists about the issues related to this. In February 2011 I wrote a blog post debunking some of the bogus arguments in question [1]. Of course the matter didn’t end there, at LCA 2012 I was drawn into a few debates IRL about the issues, as long as there are more than a few men who want such porny pictures used in LCA talks the issue can’t be properly resolved.

The most serious aspect of the discussion in question is that of rape apology, the bad ideas that were presented have a real impact on the way people behave, merely making public statements saying that something is OK is going to increase the incidence of it happening. The Geek Feminism Wiki has a good page summarising the issue [2].

The Finally Feminism 101 post about Rape Culture is also worth reading in this context [3].

Recently Valeria Aurora wrote a post for the Ada Initiaive blog about the rape apology issue and how the community needs to act to prevent such behavior [4]. This inspired Matthew Garrett to write about the issue and state the position that “In the absence of an apology and explanation from Ted, I’ll be interacting with him to the bare minimum that I’m compelled to as a result of my job” [5]. I agree with Matthew’s article, everything he writes is logical and I believe that it is all for the benefit of the FOSS community as a whole. I think that most guys have quietly defriended guys who are rape-positive in the past (for example when I was 12 I refused to play D&D with boys who were raping NPCs). But blogging about it, explaining the problem, and giving the offender the possibility to reform is a good idea and it’s something that should be done more often.

Sam Varghese has written about the issue for ITWire [6]. He has taken the wrong approach to this, he specifically claims that “Matthew Garrett has kicked off what could be a damaging episode“. I think that Matthew’s approach is necessary and the situation demands it. If Matthew had been on holidays and I had read the TAI post earlier then I would probably have written a blog post which Sam could have described in a similar manner. So I don’t think that Matthew kicked anything off (I think that someone had to do it). I also don’t think that this has to be damaging – it depends on how everyone reacts.

On her personal blog Valerie says “When I first read Ts’o’s comments, I couldn’t sleep for two nights. I wanted to throw up every time I thought about it. I was furious and frightened at the same time. Every time I think about this, even now, I literally have nightmares. I can’t bear the thought of working with him even over email, much less attending the same conferences” [7]. I don’t think that any of us who are seriously involved in the FOSS community have a way of avoiding this issue, allowing Valerie and other women who have the same understanding of the situation to go through that without any support is not a neutral action. I think we need to consider whether someone who gives other delegates and speakers nightmares should be welcome to attend a conference. Valerie’s post makes sense to me and I can understand why she doesn’t want to associated with Ted, my understanding of the issue isn’t important or even required, I merely note this because I’m sure that there are lots of readers who will ignore anything that a woman might say.

ITWire has a follow-up article with Ted’s response, Ted fails to address all the issues and seems to think that the people who disagree with him merely don’t appreciate his “nuance” [8]. The thing is that the issue of the incidence of rape was raised in discussion to consider the probability that rape survivors would have been in the audience for the Mark Pesce talk in question. None of Ted’s claims indicate that rape could be rare enough that a crowd of 500+ random people could be expected not to have multiple rape survivors so his comments weren’t even relevant to the discussion. Ted seems unwilling to try to understand the position of all the people who disagree with him.

Syndicated 2012-11-07 23:46:27 from etbe - Russell Coker

Links October 2012

The F Word has an informative post about men commenting on Feminist blogs [1]. Most of it applies to any situation where a member of a powerful group comments on an issue related to a minority group. Near the end they say: I’ll also paraphrase and flesh out the most useful piece of advice I ever read, when I made the effort to research white privilege: don’t expect the minority to trust you. Trust is earned, and you’re just another commenter who they can’t tell apart from any other commenter. You’re entering someone else’s space, where different rules apply. You get to have the rest of the world for people to assume you’re a wonderful person. Here, you’re just another one of ‘them’, and given the track record of ‘them’, it’s up to you to listen, learn and prove that you’re being thoughtful and honestly trying to examine your privilege.

Sociological Images has an interesting article on people’s perception of the sky colour – it seems that the “blue sky” meme is modern [2].

Charles Stross wrote an interesting article about the possible uses for future low power computers [3]. He gets a bit over-excited about the possibilities for sensing – making a tiny computer that can sense so many things isn’t going to be easy (DSLRs are big for a reason). But having lots of powerful computers everywhere does provide lots of interesting and potentially bad opportunities.

Martin Bekkelund has an interesting article about Amazon wiping DRM infected books that it had sold to a customer without giving a refund or an explanation [4]. If you want to buy ebooks it seems that the sensible thing to do would be to immediately crack them or download them from The Pirate Bay so Amazon can’t steal them back.

Rebecca Saxe gave an interesting talk about trying to develop methods for conflict resolution through neuroscience [5].

Barry Eisler has written an interesting article about the corruption of journalists [6]. It’s really worth reading, some of the methods of corruption apply to even the more casual bloggers.

Krebs on Security has an informative article about the Microsoft Tech Support phone scams [7]

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Syndicated 2012-10-31 13:57:07 from etbe - Russell Coker

Google mod_pagespeed

I’ve just downloaded and installed the Debian AMD64 package of the Google Apache Pagespeed module [1].

To see if it worked I used the Google PageSpeed insights tool which gave my blog a rating of 93% (and 88% for mobile) [2].

After installing mod_pagespeed I received the same scores. So it appears that Pagespeed isn’t doing any good according to Google’s analysis!

etbe.coker.com.au – - [13/Oct/2012:05:22:31 +0000] "GET /wp-content/plugins/openid/f/W.openid.css,qver=519.pagespeed.cf.Bbu1gxRjUE.css HTTP/1.0" 200 2165 "http://etbe.coker.com.au/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/21.0.1180.89 Safari/537.1" 0
etbe.coker.com.au – - [13/Oct/2012:05:22:31 +0000] "GET /wp-content/themes/atahualpa/js/DD_roundies.js,qver=0.0.2a.pagespeed.jm.4gw5yluag0.js HTTP/1.0" 200 3679 "http://etbe.coker.com.au/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/21.0.1180.89 Safari/537.1" 0
etbe.coker.com.au – - [13/Oct/2012:05:22:31 +0000] "GET /wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery.js,qver=1.7.2.pagespeed.jm.XZwfunyK-6.js HTTP/1.0" 200 33587 "http://etbe.coker.com.au/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/21.0.1180.89 Safari/537.1" 0
etbe.coker.com.au – - [13/Oct/2012:05:22:33 +0000] "GET /wp-content/themes/atahualpa/images/xlogo.png.pagespeed.ic.ICWmaHBME5.png HTTP/1.0" 200 2267 "http://etbe.coker.com.au/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/21.0.1180.89 Safari/537.1" 0

The above sample of web logs shows that the string “pagespeed” is appended to some URLs with a hash of the file contents which apparently allows much longer cache times without making it difficult to change content. So Pagespeed is obviously doing something.

Is Google analysis expected to say that there is no change? Note that my speed scores are 93% and 88% so my site is was apparently quite good before mod_pagespeed was installed – maybe the analysis would report a difference on a site that didn’t perform so well. Now even if mod_pagespeed has given a benefit to real users but not Google tests it still means that I won’t get the SEO benefits that Google apparently gives to fast sites.

Also to make things even more exciting the W3.org HTML validator [3] now says that there’s an error in my blog. So not only has mod_pagespeed failed to improve performance in a way that Google notices but it has also broken something!

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Syndicated 2012-10-13 05:50:59 from etbe - Russell Coker

Creating WordPress Packages

deb http://www.coker.com.au wheezy wordpress

I maintain Debian packages of a number of WordPress themes and plugins for my personal use which I am not planning to upload to Debian due to the maintenance and security issues. Generally the way things work with WordPress packages (and apparently most things in PHP) is that new versions are released whenever the author feels like it with little documentation and often now way of determining whether it’s a security issue. When there is a security issue it’s often fixed in a new version that includes new features giving no good option for someone who was happy with the old functionality and just wants a secure system. This isn’t the way we like to do things in Debian.

The result of this is that I maintain a number of packages for my personal use (and for the benefit of any interested people on the Internet) that often get new updates. I’ve written the below script to create a new version of a Debian package. It searches my repository for the most recent .debian.tar.gz file for the package, applies that, runs dch -i to update the changelog, and then builds the package. So far this has only been tested on one package, I expect that I’ll have to put a sed command in there to cover the case where the zip file name doesn’t match what I want as the package name and I’ll probably find other bugs in future, but I think it’s good enough to publish now.

set -e
unzip $1
FILE=$(basename $1)
PACKAGE=$(echo $FILE | sed -e "s/\..*$//")
LEN=$(($(echo $PACKAGE | wc -c)+1))
VER=$(echo $FILE | cut -c ${LEN}-200 | sed -e s/.zip//)
tar czf wordpress-${PACKAGE}_${VER}.orig.tar.gz ${DIRNAME}
tar xzf $(ls -tr ${REPOSITORY}/wordpress-${PACKAGE}_*.debian.tar.gz | tail -1)
dch -i

Any suggestions for improvement will be welcome, I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest shell scripter. But please note that I generally aim to write shell scripts that can be understood by people who aren’t experts. So if you can replace the program with a single line of Perl I will be impressed but I won’t implement your solution.

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Syndicated 2012-10-13 04:01:11 from etbe - Russell Coker

Cheap Bulk Storage

The Problem

Some of my clients need systems that store reasonable amounts of data. This is enough data that we can expect some data corruption on disk such that traditional RAID doesn’t work, that old fashioned filesystems like Ext3/4 will have unreasonable fsck fimes, and that the number of disks in a small server isn’t enough.

NetApp is a really good option for bulk reliable storage, but their products are very expensive. BTRFS has a lot of potential, but the currently released versions (as supported in distributions such as Debian/Wheezy) lack significant features. One significant lack in current BTRFS releases is something equivalent to the ZFS send/receive functionality for remote backups, this was a major factor when I analysed the options for hard drive based backup [1], and you should always think about backup before deploying a new system. Currently ZFS is the best choice for bulk storage which is reliable if you can’t afford NetApp. Any storage system needs a minimum level of reliability if only to protect it’s own metadata and a basic RAID array doesn’t protect against media corruption with current data volumes. The combination of performance, lack of fsck (which is a performance feature), large storage support, backup, and significant real-world use makes ZFS a really good option.

Now I need to get some servers for more than 8.1TiB of storage (the capacity of a RAID-Z array of 4*3TB disks). One of my clients needs significantly more, probably at least 10 disks in a RAID-Z array so none of the cheaper servers will do.

Basically the issue that some of my clients are dealing with (and which I have to solve) is how to provide a relatively cheap ZFS system for storing reasonable amounts of data. For some systems I need to start with about 10 disks and be able to scale to 24 disks or more without excessive expense. Also to make things a little easier and cheaper 24*7 operation is not required, so instead of paying for hot-swap disks we can just schedule down-time outside business hours.

The Problem with Dell

Dell is really good for small systems, the PowerEdge tower servers that support 2*3.5″ or 4*3.5″ disks and which have space for an SSD or two are really affordable and easy to order. But even in the mid-size Dell tower servers (which are small by server standards) you have problems with just getting a few disks operating outside a RAID array [2]. The Dell online store is really great for small servers, any time I’m buying a server for less than $2500 I check the Dell online store first and usually their price is good enough that there is no need to get a quote from another company. Unfortunately all the servers with bigger storage involve disks that are unreasonably expensive (it seems that Dell makes their profit on the parts) and prices are not available online. I gave my email address and phone number to the Dell web site on Wednesday and they haven’t cared to get back to me yet. This is the type of service that makes me avoid IBM and HP for any server deployment where the Dell online store sells something suitable!


For some time BackBlaze have been getting interest by describing how they store lots of data in a small amount of space by tightly stacking SATA disks. They don’t think that ZFS on Linux is ready for production, but their hardware ideas are useful. They have recently described their latest architecture [3]. They describe it as 135TB for $7,384. Of course the 135TB number is based on the idea of getting the full 3TB capacity out of each disk which they can do as they have redundancy over multiple storage pods. But anyone who wants a single fileserver needs some internal redundancy to cover disk failure. One option might be to have three RAID-Z2 arrays of 15 disks which gives a usable capacity of 42*3TB==126TB==113TiB. Note that while the ZFS documentation recommends between 3 and 9 disks per zpool for performance I don’t expect performance problems, when you only have a gigabit Ethernet connection there shouldn’t be a problem with three ZFS zpools making the network the bottleneck.

For this option the way to go would be to start with an array of 15 disks and then buy a second set of 15 disks when the first storage pool becomes full. It seems likely that 4TB disks will become cheap before a 35TiB array is filled so we can get more efficiency by delaying purchases. The BackBlaze pod isn’t cheap, they are sold as a complete system without storage disks for $US5,395 by Protocase [4]. That gives a markup of $US3,411 over the BackBlaze cost which isn’t too bad given that BackBlaze are quoting the insane bulk discount hardware prices that I could never get. Protocase also offer the case on it’s own for anyone who wants to build a system around it. It seems like the better option is to buy the system from Protocase, but that would end up being over $6,000 when Australian import duty is added and probably close to $7,000 when shipping etc is included.


Norco offers a case that takes 24 hot-swap SATA/SAS disks and a regular PC motherboard for $US399 [5]. It’s similar to the BackBlaze pod but smaller, cheaper, and there’s no obvious option to buy a configured and tested system. 24 disks would allow two RAID-Z2 arrays of 12 disks, the first array could provide 27TiB and the second array could provide something bigger when new disks are released.


SuperMicro has a range of storage servers that support from 12 to 36 disks [6]. They seem good, but I’d have to deal with a reseller to buy them which would involve pain at best and at worst they wouldn’t bother getting me a quote because I only want one server at a time.


Does anyone know of any other options for affordable systems suitable for running ZFS on SATA disks? Preferably ones that don’t involve dealing with resellers.

At the moment it seems that the best option is to get a Norco case and build my own system as I don’t think that any of my clients needs the capacity of a BackBlaze pod at the moment. Supermicro seems good but I’d have to deal with a reseller. In my experience the difference between the resellers of such computer systems and used car dealers is that used car dealers are happy to sell one car at a time and that every used car dealer at least knows how to drive.

Also if you are an Australian reader of my blog and you want to build such storage servers to sell to my clients in Melbourne then I’d be interested to see an offer. But please make sure that any such offer includes a reference to your contributions to the Linux community if you think I won’t recognise your name. If you don’t contribute then I probably don’t want to do business with you.

As an aside, I was recently at a camera store helping a client test a new DSLR when one of the store employees started telling me how good ZFS is for storing RAW images. I totally agree that ZFS is the best filesystem for storing large RAW files and this is what I am working on right now. But it’s not the sort of advice I expect to receive at a camera store, not even one that caters to professional photographers.

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Syndicated 2012-10-12 13:41:23 from etbe - Russell Coker

Asperger Syndrome – Disability vs “Over Pathologising”

Is Asperger Syndrome a Disability?

Some people tell me that I’m disabled. Usually it’s an unstated implication such as referring to Asperger Syndrome as a disability with the assumption that I’ll agree. One time I had someone assume that I had never had a paid job because they knew I’m an Aspie, maybe I should boast more about my career successes.

One interesting take on this is represented by Maco’s bost about Disablism/Ablism where she says “Vocab note: A person has an impairment. Society’s treatment of that impairment is what disables the person” [1]. The same concept is presented by BRAINHE in their Social Model of Disability document [2].

The Wikipedia page on Ableism says “The ableist worldview holds that disability is an error, a mistake, or a failing, rather than a simple consequence of human diversity, akin to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender” [3]. This is fairly close to the position that Neurodiversity [4] advocates take on Autism.

Jaarsma P and Welin S wrote an interesting paper titled “Autism as a Natural Human Variation: Reflections on the Claims of the Neurodiversity Movement” [5] which considers these issues in depth and comes to the conclusion that High Functioning Autism (for which Asperger Syndrome is generally regarded as a synonym) is a difference while Low Functioning Autism is a disability.

I think that generally we should accept the opinion of the person in question. Someone who is unable to communicate or is too young to make an informed decision could have their disability status determined by carers. But anyone who is capable of making an informed decision and communicating it should have their opinion respected. I am not going to argue with any of the people who claim that they are disabled due to an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I don’t think that I am disabled and I think that people shouldn’t argue with me about this.

Over Pathologising

Lynne Soraya wrote an interesting article for Psychology Today about one aspect of the supposed over-diagnosis [6]. She responds to Paul Steinberg, a psychiatrist who made a number of claims about Asperger Syndrome which lack evidence. Paul’s main idea seems to be that anyone who has social problems but who seems to be successful regardless shouldn’t have an Autism Spectrum diagnosis and he claims that such people should be regarded as having a “social disability” instead. His main idea seems to be that having a diagnosis is a bad thing, but his idea of having a “social disability” diagnosis instead doesn’t seem so great.

In many other discussions I’ve seen people claim that a large number of diagnosis of anything is a problem. Their idea seems to be that the vast majority of the population shouldn’t have a diagnosis for anything and that whenever a significant number of people are diagnosed with a psychological condition (and 1% of the population seems to be a significant number) then it’s a problem. I don’t think that having a large portion of the population diagnosed is necessarily a problem, I think that it would be OK if the majority of the population was diagnosed with something. The issue is not whether people are diagnosed but what happens after the diagnosis.

When a child is diagnosed their parents can help them deal with whatever the issues are – this may or may not require further involvement with psychologists or special schools. For the milder cases (of Autism, ADHD, and other conditions) merely knowing what areas will cause difficulty and teaching kids how to deal with them will be enough to solve many problems. When someone is diagnosed as a child but doesn’t have obvious symptoms as an adult that is more likely to be an indication that they were taught good coping mechanisms and protected from bad situations as a child – not that the diagnosis was wrong. There are some serious issues with special schools and psychiatric drugs, but diagnosis doesn’t necessarily imply mistreatment and avoiding a diagnosis is not the correct way to avoid such mistreatment.

When someone is diagnosed as an adult they have to learn to deal with it. The general lack of psychologists (waiting times as long as 6 months are common) and the fact that most psychologists won’t do any good for someone on the Autism Spectrum is a real problem. But merely knowing the source of your problems is a major step towards alleviating or solving them.

One of the arguments that is commonly used against so-called over-diagnosis is that adults don’t show apparent symptoms. The issue here is that with some effort and planning adults on the spectrum can act like NTs. Acting like an NT doesn’t imply being an NT, it usually requires a lot of ongoing effort that could be applied to other things if society didn’t expect us to act like NTs all the time.


I wish people would stop telling me that I’m either disabled or too “high functioning” to be on the Autism Spectrum. I will never think like an NT and I don’t want to, so I’ll always be an Aspie. By most objective measures I’m at least as successful as the general population in all things that require social skills, so unless something like always losing at Poker is considered a disability I don’t think that it’s reasonable to consider me to be disabled.

It would be nice if I could lock the people who claim that Autism is always a disability in a room with the people who think it’s over-diagnosed and let them debate it, no matter which side lost the debate the result would be good!

Update: I removed a broken link to a Youtube video, I published this post from a 3G connection and didn’t test that the Youtube link still worked. For some reason the author had marked it private since the last time I visited it.

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Syndicated 2012-10-02 11:22:34 from etbe - Russell Coker

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