Scripting News archive for November 2012

Wireless laser printers that work? permalink

A picture named brother.gifI got a Brother printer a few years back on the recommendation of a friend, and it's been a wonderful printer. Fast and trouble-free. As someone who doesn't print very often, it's important to have it be zero effort and the Brother is that.

But it was advertised as having wifi, but when I tried to get it to work, I couldn't make heads or tails of the docs. And the consensus among users on Amazon is that it's unusable.

Thinking about getting a new printer for mom for Christmas, she really needs one. I was just going to order her the same printer I have. But before actually doing it, I wanted to find out if anyone has gotten wifi and laser printers to work in an easy-to-set-up way.


Posted: 11/28/12; 8:44:31 PM.

Why Facebook sucks permalink

I was emailing with a friend and found myself explaining why Facebook is changing the economics for people like Mark Cuban. Here it is.

Facebook has to do what they're doing because their stock is screwed and they're being run by Goldman Sachs now.

I thought it deserved a blog post cause it was so concise.

Posted: 11/27/12; 1:36:44 PM.

Nexus 4 arrives permalink

This picture was taken with my Nexus 4 which arrived today.

A picture named nexus4.jpg

Micro-SIM issue permalink

The first task will be to visit a nearby T-Mobile store to see if I can swap my old big SIM for the smaller one that the Nexus 4 takes. It may be that it doesn't take a T-Mobile SIM at all. I still am fuzzy on all this SIM stuff.

Here's the problem with the SIM illustrated in a picture. The SIM that I have is far too big for the adapter they provide.

A picture named sim.jpg

And here's the answer. It's a matter of converting a full-size SIM to a micro-SIM. CNET has a tutorial that explains all the options, including DIY.

Update: The T-Mobile store on 8th Ave and 54th was able to fix it up in a few minutes. They were pretty impressed with my new phone. The guy said he was going to try to order one for himself later today. :-)

Dispatching pictures permalink

The camera app seems to have a lot of features, but there doesn't appear to be a way to send a photo directly from the camera app to email or Twitter or whatever. I seem to remember that Android could do this. It's the first thing I look for.

Several people recommend using the Gallery, but the best answer for me, so far, is to swipe from right to left. The camera viewfinder is replaced with a browser of past pictures. From there you can dispatch them where ever you want.

Setting the wallpaper permalink

It's really frustrating to set the wallpaper. I have a full-size picture of the Mona Lisa, it makes a great background image for a cell phone. I use it on my iPad, my iPod and I want to use it on my Nexus 4.

But the wall-paper setting function in the Settings only lets me select a very small portion of the picture. Can't figure out how to get it to zoom out. But when I display the picture in the Gallery app it works perfectly. And it works perfectly the first time on Apple's devices.

A picture named wallpaperandroid.jpg

Update: I gave up and just used Google's wallpaper-setter app. It's confusing, but I've had it explained to me, and sort of understand. Turns out the Mona Lisa still looks good if you're just looking at a corner of it. Amazing painting that way. :-)

Video player permalink

A few days ago I wrote how I quit Netflix. Partly because Amazon appears to be offering the same service as part of Amazon Prime, and I'm already a member of that (and it costs less than Netflix and I get free shipping).

Then I got the Nexus 4. And found out to my surprise that Amazon Instant Video isn't available for the Nexus 4. Too bad, because it's a very nice little computer for watching movies. I watched Gangnan Style last night a few times and loved the video quality.

But I can play MP4 movies on the device. So it's possible for some of my entertainment to be viewed there.

Posted: 11/27/12; 10:46:18 AM. permalink

Time for voter suppression trials permalink

Now that some Republicans have confessed that the real purpose of Florida voter suppression was to disenfranchise voters in order to change the outcome of an election, it's time to arrest and prosecute some of the offenders.

That's a bit too conservative. The purpose of voter suppression is to steal an election.

Let's see how well their excuses hold up in court with a jury of their peers (the people whose votes they were trying to suppress).

I've had it with the government looking the other way on political crimes. We have a free system that guarantees every citizen a vote. Screwing with the election is a serious crime.

Update: Thanks to Betsy Devine for suggesting a petition. Please sign it! Now, before you forget. :-)

Posted: 11/26/12; 5:48:54 PM.

Re: Our Twitter archives permalink

When we download our Twitter archives, which is supposed to be possible before the end of the year, what format will it be in?

Update: At least one person seems to think this will enable people to switch to a different service. Not clear until you know what the format is. And what the terms are.

Posted: 11/26/12; 1:37:07 PM.

Bandwidth poverty permalink

Yesterday I wrote a piece about information poverty from one point of view, but there's another -- bandwidth.

In New York, the largest city in the US, the bandwidth available to most residents is pitiful for 2012. There is some FIOS, but very little, and mostly in the outer boroughs. In Manhattan we get Time-Warner asymetric junk.

A picture named speed.png

Google is of course experimenting with gigabit fiber in Kansas City, and now they've bought a wifi service company. Ooops, turns out that was a hoax! :-(

The short term solution to New York's connectivity problem isn't digging up the streets and laying fiber, it's wifi hotspots blanketing the city. Every cell phone, laptop and desktop computer comes with wifi today, world wide. It's the standard for the future. And you can get some pretty great throughput with wifi. Much better than the crap that cable companies offer today. And much much cheaper.

Google is probably going to price it at $0. :-)

I've long argued that the NY Times should solve the city's bandwidth problem and charge us a reasonable price for it. The window of opportunity for that may be closing pretty quickly

Posted: 11/26/12; 11:33:42 AM.

A time of information poverty permalink

It's Sunday night of a Thanksgiving weekend in NY and there are a bunch of movies playing I haven't seen. But in NY it's hard to know, for me at least, when theaters will be crowded. Is this a good time to go to the movies if you like a relatively empty theater and a short popcorn line?

Sometimes the theaters in NY are packed when you'd least expect it.

We live in a time of information poverty. Someday you'll tell your grandchildren there was a time when you couldn't zoom in on the local theater and see how many people had bought tickets for the show that starts in 25 minutes.

It might help fill in the empty spots in theater's calendars.

Related idea: I like to fly when the plane is pretty empty.

Will we still have movie theaters then? Well, we don't really need them now, if it weren't for DRM and licensing we could watch them at home. But it is nice to go out to a movie. But maybe future generations will think that as quaint as the notion that it's nice to hold a paper book or printed news in your hands. Something about the smell of the ink or paper, I think.

A picture named phone.gifIn 1990, I was at my brother's house in Palo Alto. It was about 9PM and we knew the Mets were playing the Dodgers in LA. We decided to try to find the score, using the means available in 1990. We called the stadium. And the newspapers in New York and Los Angeles. Someone somewhere knew the score, but we couldn't find them.

A number of years before that, driving into San Francisco, I wondered how many people I knew there, and thought I probably knew quite a few. No way to find them in 1979. I figured someday I'd have all my contacts in a database and would be able to synch up with a global database with people's addresses. I'm not sure if Facebook can do that today, but they certainly have the data.

Someday we'll have a lot more usable information, if things go as they should, or so it seems.

It might be interesting to think of what we'll need to get there, that we don't currently have. If anything. :-)

Posted: 11/25/12; 9:39:53 PM.

Bullet points on Ev's new startup permalink

I listened to a podcast interview between Evan Williams and Jeffrey Zeldman yesterday. It had a few bits about Medium, which is his new startup. I am interested in know what his thinking is on this -- as we've been exploring the same territory for a number of years, and his ideas are always worth a listen.

Here's the executive summary -- he is exploring a niche that exists. Sometimes you wonder what a designer is thinking, that they're exploring something that no one wants, but not in this case. People will want what Medium does.

Now to the bullet points.

1. It's a hybrid, at the intersection of blogging systems and commenting systems.

2. You don't have to create a blog. This can be a huge barrier for some people. People who have something to say but view creating a blog as making a commitment. Technically they're not right about this. Creating a new blog is no more complex than creating a new word processing document. But there's a psychic overhead that stops a lot of people. I know this because I've been evangelizing blogs for many years. A lot of people feel this commitment and it stops them from contributing.

3. Like Twitter, this product is a simplification of what came before, a narrowing, and a focusing, but it's still wide open. Zeldman kind of got tripped up by this, but Williams was very clear. Users can create new buckets or collections and call them anything they want. A bucket is analogous to a blog post. Then other people can post to it. That's like a comment. But it doesn't look like a comment. It's got a place for a big image at the top. It looks much prettier than a comment, and much bigger. Looks are important here.

4. There's no way for a user to control CSS or provide a template, or even choose a template from a library. This would make the product more complex. Not sure what their plans are here, but whether they offer these features will play a big role in defining the service.

5. It's closest to Tumblr right now -- another product that occupies the space between full-blown blogging like WordPress, and ultra lightweight blogging in Twitter. Clearly Twitter is moving more towards Tumblr. If Medium adds templates and CSS they will be aimed squarely at Tumblr.

A picture named oldFord.gif6. Also not clear is how much portability users will have. At this point they offer beta users a way to download the contents of their site. This doesn't make it possible to use it as an editorial system for other environments, or the other way around, to use other tools to author content for Medium. There's no doubt Ev understands the opportunities here. Blogger had a pretty complete API as did Twitter. But in Twitter, everyone got burned by the API, including the company (though to a much lesser extent than developers) so my guess is that Ev's new company will be more conservative about interfaces than his previous ventures.

7. The editor has some nice touches. The biggest one being that the rendering styles apply in when you're editing, so it delivers a level of WYSIWYG that previously I had not seen in browser-based editors. This will be a highly valued feature. This is the sizzle of Medium, along with the very easy to read template they use.

8. The more I understand about Medium, the more trouble I have seeing how it co-exists with another Williams startup, Branch. It seems like they're both camped out in the same space betw blogging and Twitter. That as the two products evolve they will keep colliding with each other.

9. They just hired a Director of Content, a former agent in the book publishing industry. Very curious. I guess that means famous authors will submit chapters from upcoming books and allow regular folk to attach our own writing to this stuff. Analogous to getting Oprah on Twitter? That could give Medium a very short honeymoon with the early adopters that make these kinds of services grow.

10. This is yet another company that compensates its employees without compensating the content creators. Although clearly there is a class of creators who may receive compensation (see the previous point). Personal comment -- this makes me reluctant to participate. I appreciate getting early access, and I have posted a few items to the service to better understand how it works. But without a fair balance between the valuation of all of our contributions, I can't continue, or recommend that others contribute. I've always been on the outside of Ev's creations, putting creativity in while he and others take the dollars out. It's fun for a while, but then it gets old. The Internet and the web weren't designed this way, and I keep waiting for one of these services to build something that doesn't have this very tilted posture. That would be harder, but much more significant.

11. Maybe the biggest point he makes in the podcast is his view that Medium should be seen as if it were YouTube for writing. We all understand what YouTube is. Is YouTube-for-Writing a niche? Not sure. Video obviously has special needs regarding bandwidth. And those issues don't exist for text. But aggregating them all in one spot has advantages. But it's possible to do that without capturing all of it one company's servers.

Posted: 11/25/12; 1:52:14 PM.

Why I quit Netflix permalink

Last week I turned off my Netflix account.

I have had it for at least a decade, paying between $9 and $21 a month.

I turned it off because I stopped using it. The last thing I watched on Netflix was Ken Burns' series The West. But I found I could get that on Amazon's video service, for no extra money, since I was already an Amazon Prime member.

But even before I was using Amazon, I was hardly ever using Netflix.

A picture named netflixdvd.gifNetflix was a great way for me to fill in a lot of the blanks in my movie-watching career. I missed a lot of great movies in the last couple of decades, while I was busy with other things. And there were all the movies made before I was born that I had of course missed. With Netflix, I pretty much could always find something I hadn't seen that was worth seeing. And I could systematically march through whole genres. It was like TCM on steroids.

But then two things happened: 1. I caught up and 2. They closed the DVD side of the business, or if they didn't close it, they discouraged it. I forget how I came not to be a subscriber to the DVDs. But the on-demand service just wasn't worth it to me. There wasn't enough stuff to watch, or if it was there, I didn't know how to find it.

I think Netflix missed the boat, bigtime. They could have been the place on the net to learn about and watch and share movie experiences. I think they could have started a match.com type service. If you're in a strange city and would like to go to the movies with someone with similar tastes, just click a few buttons. They were gathering all this information about people's movie preferences. But they were reluctant to build systems around it. And reluctant to open it up to app developers. I think we all missed out on something, because movies at least to some of us are such an important form of personal expression.

These days there's hardly any time for catching up on old movies. My life is filled with all kinds of entertainment, I never have a chance to see it all. Netflix played a big role in the early days by giving us access to a huge base of old movies that are worth seeing. Now it's time for something new. Maybe someone else will try to fill the gap that Netflix never wanted to fill.

Posted: 11/24/12; 1:05:12 PM.

Jeremy Lin and the small picture permalink

Of course I watched the Houston Rockets play the New York Knicks last night, and I felt the way I felt on Election Day, that if the result wasn't what I hoped it would be that I wouldn't be able to face life. Luckily, both events had favorable outcomes. Both Obama and the Rockets won, decisively.

A picture named linAndHarding.jpgThe Knicks protested that it was just another game and that they weren't even thinking of Jeremy Lin, the miracle that landed by accident in New York last year, the perfect player for the next decade of basketball. Esp in NYC where the Chinese-American community is rapidly growing. And in China, which loves basketball, they must be wondering why they moved Lin from New York to Houston. I believe we could have found an extra $50 million in an economy that has apartments that sell for $100 million (they are nice apartments).

I grew up in Flushing, which then was a mostly Catholic, Irish and Italian neighborhood. Now it's largely Chinese. I went out to eat with my mom at a restaurant on Main Street a couple of years ago, and they asked if we were tourists (presumably because we were white). We laughed and said no, we're natives. :-)

But the Knicks obviously were focused on Lin last night, at least at the beginning, and unfortunately for New York, Houston had three other players ready to go -- James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik. All of them very young, and they kept their cool, while the veterans on the Knicks melted down. I expected it from Carmelo Anthony, but was surprised to see Tyson Chandler lose his cool (and they should have taken him out of the game after he elbowed Rocket Omer Asik in the throat, in anger).

And there were some dazzling Linsane plays to remind us how good this young man is.

The Houston team is made largely of reallly good young players who were on the benches of their former teams. They are the youngest team in the NBA. It's wonderful to see them playing with such enthusiasm, excellence and composure. In every way they remind one of the Knicks in the brief period of Linsanity. This is the team the Knicks could have had, now they're playing in Houston. I would swap the roster of the Rockets for the Knicks team any day.

I don't think either team is going to win this year -- but I don't go for sports to see my team win. What I love is a group of highly talented people helping each other to create something bigger than any one of them. That's why I despise what the Knicks are, a team that wins or loses based on the performance of a single player.

Watching the Rockets move the ball around the court, kind of daring the Knicks to figure out who was going to take the shot or the layup, was pure poetry. The kind of poetry that the Knicks were doing so well when Lin was our point guard.

I think basketball has changed, and last night's game was a perfect demo. I don't expect many of the sports writers to cover it. I think their assignment was to "prove" that Linsanity either: 1. Didn't happen or 2. Was just a fluke. And 3. That basketball was always and will always be about superstars and individual performances.

It's the same kind of thinking that leads you to believe that politics is about the bosses listening to the people to figure out what to say to get their votes. If that's how politics worked, marijuana and gay marriage would not have been legalized, and Mitt Romney would have won Ohio, if not the Presidency.

A picture named smallpicture.gifWe are riding a sea change in communication technology. It's been going on for 30 to 40 years. The people who grew up in the new world are maturing and taking power. It's not a centralized system any more. The owners and most of the players in the NBA want Linsanity to go away. Jeremy Lin and James Harden are symbols of what can happen if the individual says he or she is not buying into the system. I don't know about most of the fans, but this fan is fed up with the idea of a super-human superstar. I want teamwork and joy, and love enough for everyone. Humility and fun.

In the past it was the big picture that mattered. Today, and more so in the future, it's what individuals choose or want, the small picture, that matters.

Posted: 11/24/12; 12:40:10 PM.

The new Camp David accord permalink

Everything was in balance between Israel and Egypt until Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising early last year. The US continued to give aid to the Egyptian military, but weren't sure if the deal was still in place after the change in government.

The deal, to be clear, was the US gives money to Egypt and the army supports peace with Israel and the people of Egypt are suppressed.

The Israelis desperately wanted to verify that the old deal was still in place. They couldn't test it without some kind of conflict. So they created one. Now we need a cease fire. Secretary Clinton flies to Cairo. Drama. Does the old deal stand? she asks. Morsi asks to have the deal explained. She does. He says sounds good. She asks for proof. What would you like? Announce that you are taking extra-constitutional power. He asks if the money will keep flowing. She says yes. He says OK.

That's what I think happened.

PS: Why would Israel want to know now whether the peace deal with Egypt was still in place? Maybe they're getting ready to attack Iran and want to be sure they don't have to fight Egypt too.

Posted: 11/23/12; 6:50:55 PM.

Two best movies of 2012 permalink

The best movies of the year are slotted-in at the end, but sometimes movies that are released earlier in the year are also great, but sometimes slip under the radar, so a lot of people don't see them.

My two favorite so far for 2012 are like that -- Paranorman and Savages. I knew to see them because both were born of movies that I adored in the past.

Paranorman was created by the same animation studio that did Coraline.

And Savages is classic Oliver Stone. One of my favorite movies of all time, Any Given Sunday, not a famous movie, is an Oliver Stone classic.

I believe both Paranorman and Savages are available in DVD now. They are great movies, the best so far in 2012, according to this reviewer.

Posted: 11/23/12; 11:34:36 AM.

How I ran ThinkTank/1987 in Chrome permalink

A really interesting combination of technologies, old and new...

1. An app written in JavaScript running embedded in a web page, viewed in Chrome.

2. Running on a Mac with 2GB of RAM and four terabytes of disk storage.

3. That emulates an IBM PC running the original ROM BIOS.

All this was put together by Jeff Par, whose blog is hashable.org.

I heard about it from Dan Bricklin, who along with Bob Frankston, wrote Visicalc. I've known both these guys since 1979 believe it or not. Somehow they had gotten Visicalc to run in this emulator. I nearly shit my pants when I saw it.

A picture named oldFord.gifOf course I knew how to use Visicalc then and still do. I was able to put together a simple spreadsheet. It worked.

Then of course I wondered if ThinkTank from that era would work. So I contacted Jeff, asked if he would be interested in trying it. I uploaded a Thinktank disk image to a folder on Amazon S3, then put together a list of files in the outliner I use in 2012, and saved it as a blog post on scripting.com.

He took the files, did something magical with them, and now there's a menu item on his emulator page that offers to load an image of that disk into this virtual PC. So I fiddled with the commands a bit, got it to run. There was a little difficulty in getting the F10 function key to go to the browser, since some Apple system software was grabbing it. That was easily done in the keyboard section of the system settings app on the Mac.

I have a ref card of the commands in ThinkTank, but I didn't need them, because I still remember how it worked. I slaved over this UI many years ago. It would be hard for me to forget how to do this.

Dan asked if I would do a video showing how it works. I will (and will link it in here). I imagine that years from now people will watch the video even if the emulator doesn't still run. Maybe it will. Back then I kind of hoped it would be possible to run this sofware 25 years later. What a thrill that it turns out it does, and in such a widely accessible way.

If you're studying the evolution of user interface, being able to look at this time capsule could be pretty useful. This software running on 1980s hardware, is interesting in the same way it would be interesting to drive a car from the early 20th century. You can see ideas that would later take hold and blossom once machines had more capacity and could be easily networked, and we better understood how people work with the new technology.

Posted: 11/22/12; 6:47:23 PM.

Thanks! permalink

Posted: 11/22/12; 10:59:10 AM.

ThinkTank 2.41NP (1987) permalink

Microsoft's bet-the-cash-cow move permalink

A picture named touchPC.jpgThis piece has an extensive quote from Reed Hastings as a departing Microsoft board member about Microsoft's thinking behind the odd way Windows 8 is organized.

They think there's a transition to touch taking place that's analogous to the transition to the mouse in the 80s and 90s. So they're putting the windows part of Windows into a compatibility box, the way they put DOS inside a window on Windows. You can still get to your Windows apps, but they're betting you will prefer to use the touch-based apps. That don't yet exist. But will soon. That's their bet.

My opinion: Wow. Why bet the company's user base and cash cow on that when they could just switch to Mac, as I'm sure a lot of them already want to, and get a "traditional" desktop.

Apple has been edging up to the same idea, in a much more conservative and rational way, imho. Testing the theory before betting what is not their biggest revenue source (Apple is now a devices company, iPad and iPhones make up most of their revenue). If Apple is being conservative, Ballmer thinks, I'll make the big bet. And hope I'm not wrong.

Problem is this -- desktop computers as touch devices is not a new idea. HP's first PC, in 1983, was touch-based. It failed. Not because there was no software, there was. The reason is that it's really painful to hold up your arm and touch the screen as a way of controlling the computer when the screen is vertical, not horizontal. The keyboard won.

Touch belongs in a tablet interface, for sure. But desktop computers need a pointing device like a mouse. I think Apple realizes that now, and isn't pushing the Mac in that direction. But this appears to be a bet-the-cash-cow move for Microsoft. Let's hope they have a Plan B ready to go!

See also: Jakob Nielsen's report on Windows 8.

Posted: 11/20/12; 5:56:25 PM.

Adjectives for Mitt Romney permalink

1. Sad.

2. Lonely.

3. Loser.

4. White. Traditional.

5. Beleaguered.

6. Republican.

Posted: 11/20/12; 12:27:37 PM.

Who's your BOTY? permalink

Do you have a favorite blogger?

Someone who you tell other people -- You have to read this person they're so interesting/cool/funny/smart/etc?

If you do, who is it?

I want to make a list! :-)

PS: BOTY == Blogger Of The Year.

PPS: Could be a podcaster.

PPPS: Not someone who writes for a conglomerblog like Huffpost and not a pro who writes for a travesty like TechCrunch.

Posted: 11/20/12; 12:24:18 PM.

How to help the open web permalink

The last couple of blog posts were about the open web. Both have gotten some great responses.

An aside, one reason the comments might be more lively is that I went to Fred Wilson's blog and noted that his Disqus threads were much longer and easier to read than mine. I went to the setup page for Disqus and found some prefs I didn't know were there, and found an ability to add styles to their CSS, and voila -- much nicer!

In a comment on the first post, Kristopher Nelson, a PhD student and former software dev, said he didn't disagree with my points, but had trouble turning them into practical actions he can actually do, instead of relying on "installed leaders" to kick it of for him (paraphrasing).

He's right! I said what the problems are, but I didn't offer ways to help. This is equally important. So here's a list of things you can do to help.

1. Don't write mini-essays in Twitter. Instead fully express your idea on your blog and post a link to Twitter. That's the single most constructive thing people can do.

A picture named lego.gif2. If you absolutely can't respond in a post, then respond in a comment. 140 character posts are very often impossible to parse. And are hard to respond to if my answer requires more than 140. That's why I don't do support on Twitter. I think it's impossible. And tweets have limited utility after they scroll off. Comments create a somewhat better record. And instead of concentrating everything on one company's servers, we can spread them around a little.

That said, don't see this rule as requiring you to be long-winded. You still want to get to the point quickly so people read what you're saying. People are very busy these days, so you want to say what you have to say as quickly as possible. And if you have a blogging tool that supports collapsable text like mine, use it to add detail in a way that's optional for the reader.

3. For the installed leaders -- run a river of the blogs you read, and share it with your readers. Link to it prominently from your home page. Talk about it in posts. Get people to read more than just your blog.

Someone asked for an example of a river. Here you go.

A river is the next thing after a blogroll.

A blogroll just has pointers to blogs. A river includes their stories.

It's a way of defining a community. It's one of those wonderful things that empowers the river-owner and the people whose content flows through the river.

Someday not only will every publication have a river, but they will be defined by their river.

We need to get one editorial organization to do it and do it right.

BTW, people note that my river is mostly mainstream pubs. That's because bloggers are publishing so little these days. I subscribe to lots of blogs. But they aren't updating. Let's fix that!

4. Also do the thing that the "big boys" do so well -- reference each other. If I write something that you find interesting, write a blog post about it, and link to my post.

5. Don't wait for a press release to write about something that's new. I find it amazing sometimes all the new stuff I've shipped on Scripting News, whci now is a fairly radical-looking blog with at least a few never-seen-before features, yet, as far as I know -- no one has written about them. Why? They say that news is just regurgitated press releases. This seems to confirm it.

6. Fight conventional wisdom. One of the reasons blogs started in the first place was to fight the CW that there was no new Mac software. All the reporters knew this wasn't true, but they reported the CW that there wasn't. Reporters still do this. So let's route around that. The great Scoop Nisker said -- If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own. A very wise man. :-)

7. Share your ideas and observations. Start new threads that aren't responsive to anyone else. If you have an epiphany or see something you don't think anyone else has seen -- that's a blog post. Write it up!

8. If you're a developer, hook your favorite tweet-like system up to RSS, both ways. I want to be able to hook my linkblog feed up to everything. This is how we bootstrap a network of compatible twitter-like systems. Use an existing standard that's good enough to hook everything up to everything. This way we can have competiing visions for how this stuff works, and still have content flow easily across systems.

One more motto, a variant of something President Kennedy said. Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet. These days so many people look to the Internet to make them rich or famous or powerful. So much so that the poor Internet is exhausted from all those people taking from it. Think about what you can put back that may not help just you, that may help the Internet itself. It's important.

Posted: 11/20/12; 10:45:12 AM.

I hope Mark Cuban reads this permalink

Hey Mark, I read your piece about Facebook, and think you're right about one thing and wrong about another.

1. You're right to be appalled that Facebook does not show your updates to all your followers. They are breaking a trust. You promoted Facebook to your customers for free, and not only don't they reciprocate -- by finding you new followers -- they don't even fulfill their side of the deal, by showing your updates to the people who signed up for them.

Yes, I know Facebook disclaims this. But we all thought that updates went to all followers, before discovering the hard way, that they didn't. Cuban is a smart guy. If he was surprised by this, imagine how surprised the less-savvy execs at other companies are going to be.

2. However, your response, to diversify to other social networks is wrong. Why would you think they would do it any differently than Facebook? What have they agreed to do for you in return? If you're just using their normal TOS, they're agreeing to do nothing for you.

A picture named webIsDead.gifLast night I was watching football on one of the big networks. It was a boring game so my mind drifted. I noticed that when they show the name of someone speaking on camera they also show their Twitter handle. I wondered if their lawyers had reviewed this decision. Had they read Twitter's user agreement? Had they advised their client on how one-sided it is? That made me wonder if Twitter does special deals with big media conglomerates? I wonder what they look like? I follow Twitter pretty closely and I have no idea.

Back to Mark -- hope you're still reading.

You're so smart about tech, why are you so dumb about this!

We need to use the Internet itself as social media. Then you won't have to worry about Facebook putting their finger on the scale. Let's create the software you need to license. You can run it on your own servers, or let's start a company to run the service for media companies like the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA. Being at the mercy of tech startups like this is not smart. They are not your friends, or even good business partners.

Update: Mark Cuban did read this, and responded.

Posted: 11/19/12; 10:07:38 AM.

Our news predicament permalink

Back in the 90s I thought blogs would be the antidote to the bullshit of news, but it didn't turn out that way. Here's what happened.

1. The early bloggers did deals with investors, so they needed revenue.

2. Mostly they become marketing channels for the companies. For example, I like Om Malik, but the only stories GigaOm covers are ones from big companies and startups with VC money. Om is a nice guy and all the people who work for him are nice people. They also have jobs to do. If you look at his conferences they are marketing events for the people who speak. That leads to a certain type of discussion, and ignores a lot of other things that require thought and discourse. Same with O'Reilly, TechCrunch, etc etc. You can't blame a shark for being a meat-eater. But you shouldn't think they're anything other than that.

How do I know how this works? Because as a company CEO I have participated in it, and if I'm ever a CEO again I will once again participate. So obviously I don't think it's bad. But let's not think we're getting our daily dose of tech news this way. What we're getting is marketing.

2a. It's not just tech. TPM, Redstate, Politico, Buzzfeed, Huffington etc, don't stray off the accepted path, or the market won't know what to do with them. The product they sell? Campaigns, the ability to shift public opinion so more government money ends up in your bank account, or your taxes stay low, or you're allowed to warm the earth for free, sell arms to bad govts, keep the UN out of your country, etc. Again, I'm not going to question the value of what they do, only to say what we need to do is much bigger than what they do.

And music journalism supports the music industry.

Sports journalism supports the NBA, NFL, MLB, Olympics, NCAA, etc.

3. Plan B was that user/bloggers would review the companies' products, and we'd at least get non-bullshit product news that way. That worked for a while, then people started using Twitter, and have been reduced to 140-character grunts and snorts. You can tell a little truth in 140-character chunks. Very little ones. Nothing factually interesting. For that you need a little elbow room. If that's really going to happen, more people have to write blog posts.

4. There are a few product-oriented blogs out there. But not enough for critical mass. Some of them make money, some even a lot. But there isn't enough to read to cover most of what I'm interested in, and also the stuff I don't know I'm interested in. If we could do more networking on a more regular and systematic basis, that would create incentives for more people to do it, and would build flow independent of Twitter. But blogs work like everything else. Installed leaders don't generally help upstarts. Might impact the bottom-line. Go back to the sharks analogy. It takes some big thinking and betting to see that we're going to starve outside Twitter soon, and we'd all do better if we invest in each other and in opening doors for newcomers. We're playing out the prisoners dilemma, as we always do.

I still think there's a way out of it. But it means that bloggers have to do more cooperating than they're likely to want to do. Believe me, I'm an expert in how hard it is to get bloggers to cooperate. I always have a bunch of propositions for them. Only a very few of them have even been seriously considered, much less adopted. Usually that happens when I give them my flow to get them to do something.

I'm into level playing fields. There isn't one now. We're in really bad shape in terms of news distribution. And it's going to get worse.

We're always in the predicament Benjamin Franklin described at the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." If we could get past that we could start really reinventing news. Now.

Posted: 11/18/12; 3:46:36 PM.

Where is maps.apple.com? permalink

Apparently there is no way to access an Apple map from a desktop computer.

I'd love to try pointing to an Apple map from a blog post, so we could do a realistic A-B comparison with Google maps, which of course can be accessed from anywhere from a web browser.

Pet peeve: Google Maps may have a serious problem with embedding. When I embed a bit of a map in a blog post it loses its position. For example, if you expand this headline you'll see a map of Bandley Drive in Cupertino. (If you scroll around you'll find it.)

That might seem like a small thing, but I'm kind of a perfectionist. I insist on having my maps actually show the place I'm trying to show you. :-)

Anyway -- it would be great to be able to try Apple Maps on my Mac or even a Google phone!

Update: Turns out that Apple maps redirect to Google on the desktop.

Posted: 11/18/12; 3:24:22 PM.

The Apple of Steve's Eye permalink

Last week I wrote a one-week review of the iPad Mini. And said that I was thinking of selling my Apple stock. Update: I still have both the Mini and the stock.

I got a lot of grief because of the piece. I've come to expect that. Seriously, Apple zealots might want to someday tone it down a little. This has been going on a long time. For such an elegant company, it sure attracts some inelegant fans.

I said what I think, and since it's a blog post, no one will think it's a final judgment, allowing no disagreement. Maybe the judgers are the kinds of people who leave no room for other people's opinions. They must think I am like them. I am not. I thrive on different opinions, because I learn from them. I'm truly interested in knowing what other people think, as long as its respectful.

A picture named jobs.gifFor example, I love talking about movies with my friend NakedJen, because she so totally loves movies, but the ones she loves are different from the ones I love. We've seen a lot of movies together, and I don't recall us ever coming out of the theater both in love. She tends to like movies I that I find boring or trite. But I always look forward to talking with her, because I like viewing things through her eyes. In that way I like almost everyone -- if an idea is well-expressed, it doesn't matter whether I agree or disagree. I love human expression. I really don't care so much about whether they're right or wrong. And in the case of how one person feels about a product or a movie, they just can't be wrong. They can't miss the mark, as long as they try to say what they see and what they think. And don't pretend it's anything more than that. I sure don't think my opinion is more than that.

I love products. I especially love products that hit the mark perfectly. Of course I've never seen one. But some products come pretty close! And I've even had a couple myself that hit the mark squarely, and of course not perfectly. When I make a new product, that's what I try to do.

It's not just products I love, but strategies.

In baseball, you can look at an individual pitch, and see how perfect it is, but then look at it as part of an at-bat, or an inning, a game, a season, career.

Every act can be looked at in a lot of contexts.

It's possible for the iPad Mini to be a perfect product for one person, or everyone -- at one time. But it also exists in a sequence of products.

There are a lot of variables a strategist gets to tweak. And one of them is when to play the hand. You could keep accumulating cards for the perfect moment, and then wham lay them down. As Steve would say -- Boom.

Sports, and theater, hardware and system software. It's all fun to put together and think about in a lot of different ways from all angles.

When I saw my first Mac, it actually spoke to me. No kidding! It wasn't like I walked into a room and knew there would be a Mac there. I saw it in a random office from a hallway on Bandley Drive in 1983, while it was still a secret project. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and instantly and viscerally I knew it was going to consume a big part of my life. I knew it was the machine I wanted to make software for. All in an instant. I'd say that was about as close to "hitting the mark" as any product I've ever seen. Even though it was a famously flawed product.

So when Marco says I was far from the mark with my piece, that made me stop and think. He could be right, but we won't know for a while.

Let's think about it this way, how might Apple have approached this, assuming what so many people think is true, that in a year or two, they won't be limited to the current low resolution screen. Let's assume for the sake of argument that there's an 80 percent probability that in 2015 we'd be able to ship the absolutely killer product, one that makes you scream it's so cool. Never mind what it means to the users, of course that's important to you and me, but that's not how the Apple of Steve's Eye made its decisions. Doc Searls wrote about this in 1997, and talk about hitting the mark. Dead bull's eye for Doc. You want to understand Steve's Apple -- read that piece.

Remember when netbooks were the rage? I kept saying Apple should ship one. And Apple kept saying we'll ship one when we're ready. The ones everyone is selling aren't good enough for us to put Apple's name on it. I think Cook even said they were junk. I thought that was extreme, but I respected the drama of it. That's some kind of confidence. So we waited. And what came? The iPad. I still wish they had shipped something that worked like the netbooks of the day, but they didn't. Apple wouldn't compromise. It took guts and vision and certainty, patience, and an absolute desire to hit the ball out of the park in a historic way. It would have been a lot easier to just ship something like a netbook. Just as it's easier to ship a compromise like the current iPad Mini.

I also mentioned a change in the way I was thinking about my Apple stock. I felt that's part of the deal of writing a blog, when I write about companies I own stock in. If I'm thinking about selling, I have to say that, unless there's a really good reason not to. I put it at the top, at the beginning, so it would stand out. Because when I tell my readers that I bought the stock, and then tell them that I hold it, if one day I tell them I sold it, I'd like to have told them inbetween that I was thinking of selling it. It seems to me the honest thing to do. After all I didn't buy an ad and say this to random people as some kind of great proclamation. I wrote a blog post, on my blog, to people who read my blog, and said "I'm thinking of selling my stock, and here's why."

But the main point was to put a little stake in the ground, so a couple of years from now I could go back and see what I thought about this product when I first got it. My blog has lots of posts like that, and it helps me as a person who is into products and has changing tastes, and makes mistakes, and learns new stuff along the way.


Posted: 11/17/12; 8:08:11 PM.

Google Reader communities permalink

I had a phone conversation today with a reporter doing a story on Google Reader communities.

Apparently there was an active social network built around Google Reader that disbanded when Google tried to switch everyone over to Google Plus. This is something I didn't know about, except peripherally, because I never used Google Reader. I would like to learn more. (But have no interest in using Google Reader or Google Plus.)

Wondering if there are any opportunities for open development to help bring the communities back together, with the understanding that this time they will have to take responsibility for running the servers, and may have to pay for some of the software development.

This is a story that repeats in technology. I'm interested in trying to build sustained communities that don't depend on the continued investment of a single company.

Posted: 11/17/12; 2:59:57 PM.

How tech companies grow permalink

Two really interesting posts esp when juxtaposed.

1. Marco Arment writes about Twitter's limits on developers. "Even though we don't currently have a Windows 8 client, we might have one in the future, so yours isn't allowed," he paraphrases on Twitter's behalf.

2. Bijan Sabet, an early investor in Twitter, posts two pictures. One when the company had 15 employees and a wide-open API. That was just four years ago. And the picture from today, when the company has 1500 employees and doesn't allow developers to compete with them.

A picture named twitterWith15.png

A picture named twitterWith1500.jpg

Now I don't know for sure why Twitter changed their policies, but I can take a guess.

Those 1500 employees have to do something. At least some of them are going to write the clients that the developers used to write.

Which raises the next question. Why does the company need to hire all those people to work for money and stock when the developers are willing to do it for love? When you have the answer, you'll understand why Microsoft has shipped so many new versions of Windows over the last ten years, when the market was perfectly happy with the version they produced ten years ago.

Spoiler: All those employees make decisions that tend to keep them employed. That's how small innovative companies become big incumbent ones.

Posted: 11/16/12; 3:18:47 PM.

What is going on in Gaza? permalink

I saw the initial messages on Twitter from the IDF yesterday and a flutter of other messages from people apparently on the other side.

News reports tell of the action, bombs and rockets, and what may come next.

I read Jessica Roy's excellent piece saying social media companies had no idea what to do. A war is being fought on the networks. This was inevitable, but now it's actually happening.

Maybe that's all there is to say. But it's very much a fog from my desk here in NYC.

If you can shed any light without turning my site into a war zone, please do.

Here are some links I'm finding.

Jeff Gauvin: "Bibi launches a war on Gaza to win an election."

Posted: 11/16/12; 10:25:46 AM.

Linkblog via email permalink

I learned how to use IFTTT today, thanks to a recommendation from Laughing Squid man, Scott Beale. It's quite nice.

Reminds me of a project I did with Betaworks a couple of years ago, that turned into bit.ly. We were trying to create an end-user programming language for Internet apps. They pulled it off. Congrats.

My test project was to create an email version of my linkblog feed. This is the feed that comes out of my linkblogging tool, Radio2. The links flow to Twitter, and to their own site.

My goal is to have them flow everywhere, asap.

I'm learning to be patient as the various environments prove they're not that into freedom for linkbloggers like me. :-)

You can subscribe here.


Enjoy! :-)

PS: Here's a link to the recipe I used.

Posted: 11/15/12; 7:59:55 PM.

Seamless + NYMag reviews permalink

When I'm looking for a restaurant in NY, I often turn to New York Magazine's reviews because they are concise and when they pick a restaurant it's usually pretty good, imho of course.

But, when it's time to order a delivery, and having food delivered is a way of life in NYC, I'm stuck using the reviews at Seamless or Delivery. Let me just say that the tastes of their users and mine are not the same. I'd much rather eat food from NYMag-recommended restaurants.

A picture named coffeeMugWhite.gifSo could we please have a melding of good criticism and a great commerce website? Integration would be fantastic, not only with restaurants but with movie listings. I like to use movies.google.com. Unfortunately the reviewers they link to from each movie are, again, not my favorites. For that I go to the NY Times, mostly. I'm learning to use other sources now that I have a movies river, thanks to NakedJen's recommendations of movie review sites, and an evening I spent browsing around a month ago.

Hey why not hook in Amazon's recommendation engine. That's what Chris Dixon and Caterina Fake were working on at Hunch. "Here are some nearby restaurants we bet you'd like." You gotta know the world is going that way.

I guess the bottom line is there's still a lot of integration to do among the various data sources on the net.

PS: Don't forget OpenTable. :-)

PPS: One more thing -- can we get an RSS feed for Frank Rich's columns. It's a serious omission. Thanks. :-)

Posted: 11/15/12; 9:19:14 PM.

Vivid dreams permalink

Something switched over for me recently, wish I knew what it was -- but I'm not spending as much time writing code. Instead I'm writing blog posts and hanging out, reading and doing a lot of sleeping. And because there's been so much sleep there's been a lot of dreams. And sometimes I remember little bits of dreams that at the time I thought were interesting or profound.

It seems significant when the narrator in my dream is my father. I wonder later if this is just my version of him inside me, or if there's some method of communication between the subconscious and the dead.

Sometimes it freaks me out that people in my dream see things about me that I don't myself see, in the dream. How could this be, I wonder -- because the other people are really me. It's as if my subconscious has written a play that my conscious self knows nothing about.

And lately my dreams have had a long-gone lover in them, and we're re-living the agonizing last days of our relationship. I woke this morning with a real, sad, and unhappy question. What if this was the love of your life, and you didn't know it then.

We say "no regrets" so casuallly, but is life anything but regrets?

And then I had a mathematical dream, wondering if time travel would be so entertaining to us if we hadn't invented awkward language for time that suggests that it could possibly be a two-direction thing.

Stories about time travel are fun, probably because we live with so much with regret. What if there were the possibility of going back and doing it again, knowing what you know now. When you're young you don't even know what that idea means. It's not like life imparts all that much wisdom, no -- it's what you know about yourself that matters. This was the big one Dave. We know that now. Be more loving, more caring -- spend the time to avoid misunderstanding. Don't give up so easy. Or give up easier. Try something else because what you did the first time around didn't work. If only. If only life were like programming, where you could do it three or four times, each time learning from what you did wrong and choosing not to do it again. Or if I could travel back in time and have a talk with those two young people and find out what's really in their hearts. Force them together in an embrace so they can talk love instead of hurt.

It doesn't get any less confusing. But as you go forward things are done, they're finished. Books are closed and life goes on -- until it doesn't.

I can still tell the stories about the people I miss, the loves of my life who are no more. The friends who are gone, the people who are just stories now, just actors in my dreams.

Apparently I have more important work right now that writing new code. :-)

Posted: 11/15/12; 10:54:06 AM.

Jeremy Lin belongs in Brooklyn permalink

A picture named brooklyn.gifFor some reason it just feels right that Jeremy Lin should play for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.

The Knicks were too good for him, I guess -- but the Nets -- Brooklyn? Fugheddaboudit. It's poifect. Like Canarsie and Flatbush. The L train and the Q train. The Lawn Guyland Railroad and Junior's cheesecake. Prospect Park and Jeremy Lin. It works.

Now, I want to say I don't know bupkis about the Nets except like the Knicks they have a couple of stars, and I'm sure the players wouldn't want Lin, but it would be reallllly smart business for the Nets to bring him back to NY where he is admired, and the Knicks are hated for letting him go. They can keep Carmelo and the rest, we want Jeremy Lin on the Nets.

It would be so cool. And you'd get all the folks from Flushing, and we'd come from Manhattan to see the Nets and when the Knicks play at Barclay we could yell in unison FUCK DA KNICKS and you wouldn't have to tell us to scream it louder.

He's the new Jackie Robinson. He should be in Brooklyn. Please someone have the imagination to make this happen!!

Posted: 11/14/12; 6:55:27 PM.

How did Cuban get caught? permalink

Facebook, as far as I know, has never showed all updates to all the people who follow you.

There's always been an assumption that Twitter does show all your updates to all the people who follow you, but how could you know? It's really something only they know. My guess is that they don't either. It certainly would be consistent with all their past policies.

We like to believe that our Internet services are like the Internet itself -- basically fair. But they are run by tech industry insiders, and they are not fair. Not even close.

There was a time, not long ago, when Twitter dramatically inflated the follower counts of their personal friends, or press people they wanted good coverage from. Not by small amounts -- by hundreds of thousands of followers. Up till that point we sort of assumed they were trying to run a level playing field. It was at that point we learned they were not, in any way, trying to.

Here's a nightmare scenario for our friends in the media business, and these days almost everyone is in the media business, including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team.

1. More and more people depend on Twitter to show them the news. Other forms dry up. People stop going to home pages. Stop getting email alerts. Stop subscribing to RSS feeds.

2. Big networks like CNN and NBC direct their viewers to follow them on Twitter. When NBC runs the Olympics, there's a Twitter icon on the screen a large percentage of the time. Twitter has become like a public thing, like the web.

3. Twitter expands beyond the 140 character limit, for certain publications, at first they're liberal about who's included. And the first moves are small. Instead of a 140 character limit, there's now a 200 character limit. You can include a picture or a video, but not both. This is viewed without any ads on the Twitter site. More people don't bother going to the site to read the full story because they just wanted the synopsis anyway, or the picture.

4. Now Twitter expands the limit beyond 200 characters. Full "long form" articles are now viewable directly on the Twitter site. They want to keep everyone on their site as much as possible. Now Mr or Ms Media Exec, what do you do? Do you go with them or not? But wait -- it gets better!

5. Off-site content gets a big warning about viruses and other malware. Be careful clicking on this link.

6. Twitter, Inc, now worth $85 billion, buys the Washington Post, NY Times and NBC News.

7. You're not sure if they're showing your stories to your followers. You start to suspect that when the user clicks on your story they show them their version of the story.

8. You threaten to pull all your content.

9. Twitter says okay. Don't slam the door on your way out.

I know this is just one scenario. It could turn out that Twitter is not a media company at all. They just look like one because I have a vivid imagination. You want to bet on that? Well, you are betting on that.

I think the media industry is as clued in on its future as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were about their chances at becoming the next President and Vice-President. I don't think Twitter is especially clever, they're just acting like a tech company. They're gradually encircling all the media entities and it seems the media guys don't have any idea it's happening.

That's why Cuban's exclamations about Facebook seem so naive. Did he not see this coming? Huh? He's supposed to be such a smart dude. How did he get caught in this trap? How did you?

Other observations:

Twitter is not in any way "democratic" media. They amplify some voices, a lot. Not saying they cut back others, but they could and we wouldn't know.

FYI -- there are no equivs of Mother Jones, Esquire, NY Mag in the tech world. It's all press releases and people gossip.

The political pundits are too occupied with mandates and sex to look around them and see how the media has changed.

Posted: 11/14/12; 11:36:20 AM.

Spielberg's Lincoln permalink

I saw Lincoln this afternoon.

Good acting, esp of course Daniel Day-Lewis.

Famous TV actors from Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Law & Order. Surprising and fun to see them in 19th century costumes.

Basically it's a shallow ho-hum Hollywood movie. No surprises. A plot that could be on any TV show, not even a very good one.

There were a couple of decent jokes in there, esp one about George Washington.

A movie that will be quickly forgotten, though it will probably win a few awards.

Could have almost reviewed it in 140 characters, decided to write just a few more. :-)

Worth seeing, but not with a whole lot of enthusiasm.

Posted: 11/13/12; 6:46:30 PM.

Generals Have Sex! permalink

Executive summary: It's safe to ignore what's happening in the news on TV.

I just tuned into MSNBC while I had lunch and caught the press conference with Jay Carney, White House spokesperson. The reporters want to know how the President feels about a general having sex. The logical, adult answer would be -- I don't really have an opinion about that. And that would be the end of it, because there's lots of sex going on all the time, and it isn't news.

Right about now the press should be having the same soul-search the Repubs are having about why they were so surprised by the election. Why did they waste enormous hours "discussing" absolutely nothing in the time time leading up to the election. Instead, as if to prove they aren't doing anything, the big story is about a general's sex life.

PS: At some point in this "story" I expect Gary Tuchman or John King to get in front of one of those dazzling computer displays with an illustration of a penis and a vagina. They would then proceed to explain how it works. Then Alex Costellanos and David Gurgen could give the Republican view of sex, and Paul Begala could explain the Democratic view. Wolf Blitzer would proclaim it "very interesting."

PPS: Chuck Todd on MSNBC would show some numbers and Karl Rove on Fox would explain that Republicans don't have sex, so STFU.

Posted: 11/13/12; 2:13:34 PM.

My iPad history permalink

I have bought four iPads.

1. The first one was handed down to my mom, who loved it, so we bought her an iPad 3 with LTE. Then I gave the hand-me-down iPad to NakedJen in Salt Lake. I think she likes it too.

2. I bought the iPad 2, which I still have. It's light and holds a charge for a long time, but it doesn't have LTE or a retina display. I keep it charged in the living room, and sometimes use it as a TV iPad.

3. I bought an iPad 3 with LTE, which is getting the lion's share of use. As has been pointed out by many, I didn't like it when I first got it. I still don't like it for the reasons I stated then. It's heavy, runs hot, and doesn't hold a charge very long and takes a long time to charge. Managing its battery is a problem. Yet it's the one I travel with, and the one I read in bed, and often is the living room iPad, because of the beautiful screen and because of the LTE. For me the quality of the screen is important because I have impaired vision. This is not a theoretical thing, not something to brush aside.

4. I have an iPad Mini, which to me seems a lot like the Kindle Fire I bought when it came out. I use it as little as I use the Kindle. Maybe that will change. Maybe not. When I got the iPad Mini, I put the Kindle on the coffee table too, so I could, if I wanted to, pick it up sometimes. I pick up neither. But get this Apple freaks -- the Kindle has a nicer screen. It's heavier. And it's not an iPad so I don't really know how to use it.

Disclaimers: YMMV. IMHO. AANW. (Apple assholes not welcome.)

Posted: 11/12/12; 12:22:04 PM.

The new electorate permalink

It's fascinating to watch the Republican pundits hash it out post-election. I find many of them are saying things I wished they would have said before the election. Particularly this wonderful piece by Wick Allison at The American Conservative. Really nails it. Top to bottom.

This Obama ad came out shortly after Romney's 47 percent video. Something Republicans should think about now. And this one too.

Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker explains how the Republican Party is one state away from no longer being a national party. If they lose Texas, the Democrats will have a lock on the White House. No more "battleground" states.

A picture named johnVLindsay.gifJonathan Chait writes in New York that we just had a class war, and the middle class won. But now that the war is over, "what the people want is all fairly beside the point," he says. It's understandable, given what he does, that he feels that way, but he couldn't be more wrong.

When everything settles down to the new normal, the pundits' view will probably be only slightly different from the old one. But the people, I think, are ready to move faster than the pundits are. I think part of the Democratic Party gets that, but I don't think they'll give up the power they would need to, in order for them to change at the pace the electorate is ready for.

I knew we'd get here. Obama won by making his own excellent Facebook. But we need our own tools, so we can drive the political process even when there isn't a looming national election.

The people have to drive their own policy.

And it's happening -- legalization of marijuana was not a corporate-driven thing. Wasn't done by lobbyists. Same with gay marriage.

So the pundits will stay in the new reality where they are comfortable. And for the first time in a generation, the people get to drive on into the future, and define where we're going next.

Posted: 11/12/12; 11:39:19 AM.

Tech reporting is often nonsense permalink

The horserace school of election coverage has been debunked.

But it's not the only kind of reporting that's based on the gut feel of people who don't know what they're talking about.

Tech reporting is a great case in point.

A picture named mrNatural.gifLook at this article at Business Insider that says because they shuffled the chairs at the top level of management at Apple they can predict that a similar kind of revolution is coming soon in their software. The reporter thinks that Apple's mobile OS is no longer innovative, so the whole thing will be redesigned, deployed, somehow, in as little time as it takes to move one exec out and the other in. Never mind that the new exec isn't even a software developer.

"It's Time For Apple To Unleash A Major Software Overhaul," they say. Sigh.

You don't have to be an engineer to be a reporter, but you do have to pay attention. Unless you want to sound like an idiot.

When was the last time an OS got a total overhaul because an exec thought it needed one? Well, that was a trick question cause it happens all the time, of course. And how often are they disasters? Unfortunately for the companies, the execs and most importantly, the users -- that happens all the time too. So much so, that a smart company never undertakes such an overhaul without lots of process. Years of planning, and then it probably doesn't work. Look at how many times Microsoft tried it. Apple too, but in the last decade, they've been much more conservative. And that's a good thing.

Now here's some more bluntness -- iOS is itself the major retooling.

Reading the tea leaves you can see that they had the idea that gradually they would bring iOS features to the Mac OS. If you quickly traveled to 2015 or 2018 and booted up what they're selling as a desktop then, you'd be booting up iOS, with the old Mac OS in a compatibility box to run your legacy apps. I think this didn't work out as they hoped it would, that the cultures are so dramatically different, that they couldn't make the transition work. As a Mac user who also uses iOS -- I certainly hope so.

Apple would be ill-advised at this point to rip up the UI of iOS and start over. Too many users. Too many braincells already aligned to the way it works. That's why progress happens so slowly in OSes. And in so many other everyday things that billions of people use.

You could complain that iOS and Android are very much alike in UIs. And so are the UIs of Buicks and Toyotas. It has to be that way. It's good that it is that way. It means that our skills are transferable. It keeps lock-in to a minimum.

I guess reporters have to have something to write about, and maybe there isn't enough. But don't expect a major overhaul of Apple's mobile OS. It would be better for everyone if they concentrated in the next few years on fixing bugs and smoothing things out.

Posted: 11/11/12; 2:14:40 PM.

Horserace punditry is over permalink

A picture named horse.gifPolitical reporting, as we've just seen in the cycle completed this week, is 99 percent horserace. But if you read and believed Nate Silver, as the race progressed, polling became more accurate, and it was fascinating to watch the pundits diverge from what the numbers were showing. Silver's model has been tested in two presidential runs, and both times it predicted the outcome in every state, almost perfectly. The 99 percent of political reporting that's about the horserace is over, obviated and unnecessary, now that we've got automated and near-perfect horserace data, thanks to Silver.

Other elements of previously standard politics that were debunked:

1. Negative advertising. Users pretty much figured it out when the ads were lies, and discounted them. Some of the lies even backfired, the candidates basically spending money to slime themselves.

2. Voter suppression didn't work either. The voters tuned in, and just waited in lines that were supposed to make them go home. I don't think the Republicans will try such an open and obvious trick again.

3. The idea that anything any candidate says is off the record. Kind of amazing that after the macaca disaster, that Romney allowed himself to bear such terrible witness against himself. Pretty much have to expect that won't happen again. Not that the candidate will guard better so his off the record statements are not caught on tape, rather it'll be seen as too dangerous to nominate someone who is so thoroughly narcissistic, arrogant and dishonest.

The Obama campaign won basically by creating their own private Facebook, with unique features for political campaigns. You could argue that Obama's network is even more valuable than Zuck's. Maybe this is his Presidential library, or his version of the Carter Center or the Clinton Global Initiative. Only this time you might call it ObamaBook. The ultimate political machine.

But I don't think ObamaBook is the last word. In this campaign the electorate was networked in ways that were not controlled by the media or the parties. That's only going to grow over the years. I hope that we'll eventually take over the political process, and the voters will start driving the discourse, not just during election season, but all the time.

Posted: 11/10/12; 6:01:09 PM.

How to spot an outliner permalink

I went to a basketball game last night with Doc Searls, and after the game we went out for a bite to eat. And we had a long talk, as we always do.

Conversations with Doc are like multi-dimensional tennis. He always hits the ball back over the net. But sometimes he hits two or three. And then I hit two or three. All of a sudden there are all these threads going on, and of course since conversation is mostly linear a lot of them drop on the floor. My mind picks them up later.

One of the things I wanted to say to Doc, who is a long-term outliner guy, is that there's an easy way to spot an outliner. They start sentences like this. There are three reasons for doing this. First, blah blah and second, blah blah and third etc etc. (I heard him doing this several times last night and made note in my mind to come back to this later.)

We tend to put bullet points on our conversations.

I, of course, am an outliner dude myself.

I'm happiest in rattling off lists of things that, together, make up a chain of thought.

My mind just organizes things that way for me.

It's as if it has a secretary that neatens everything up before delivering it to my mouth or fingers (for typing on the keyboard).

If you don't believe me, read the previous piece. :-)

Posted: 11/10/12; 2:12:40 PM.

This is not Steve's Apple permalink

First, I have been an Apple shareholder for about 10 years. I haven't sold my stock, yet -- but for the first time I'm thinking about it. I'm worried that I'll decide to sell after it's too late.

Anyway -- here's the thing. I bought an iPad Mini. It was too cheap not to give in to curiosity, to see if it's more compelling or useful or whatever, than the high-end iPad that I already have. Executive summary: It is not.

Here's the list of problems.

1. I already had a great iPad. It's big and heavy, and hurts my arm to read in bed. It's my primary bed computer, and also the second screen when I'm watching TV. When I read in bed it leaves impressions on my arm where it rests. I can't imagine this is good for the circulation in my arm.

2. I could use the iPad Mini, but I don't. People say they don't mind the grainier screen, but I do. If I have a choice, and I do, I always pick up the bigger iPad with the easy-to-read high resolution screen.

3. What about as a traveling computer? Well, there too I go for the larger iPad, because it has LTE. It's very functional, in my knapsack, when I go out. I swtich it over from wifi to LTE when I go out. And I turn on Bluetooth, so that my iPod (blue, 32GB) has a way to get on the net. The iPad Mini could be a replacement for the iPod, I suppose. But it doesn't fit in the pocket as well. (However it does fit in my pocket, which is cool. Maybe I should try replacing the iPod with the Mini.)

4. But here's the verdict, the reason why I think this product is making Apple's stock dive. Steve never would have shipped it. I know people have been saying that about all kinds of things ever since he died. Steve wouldn't have done this or that. I've stayed away from saying that -- even though the thought has popped into my head -- because I've never felt certain, and I don't think it's fair to say something like that unless you really feel it in your gut. But this one is kind of obvious. Technology has to keep getting better. Once you've shipped an iPad with a super high-resolution "retina" display, you can't ask people to buy a new one that doesn't have it. Steve wouldn't have done it.

5. Some features are just features, like a camera, but the resolution of a display isn't a feature. It's integral to the product. It's like trying to sell a car with a fuzzy windshield. Everything you do with the Mini is a reminder that you could be using a nicer product. Always having the nicest thing is what Steve's Apple stood for.

6. The new Apple is willing to compromise. And what are they compromising for? Well, it looks like they're doing it so they can "compete" with Google and Amazon. But again -- Steve's Apple never deigned to do something as crass as "competing." It was a foreign concept. Steve's Apple was so far in advance of everyone else, it was ridiculous to think of them as competition. But here is the new Apple inviting comparison to something else. But the comparison that's inevitable and damning, is the comparison between the Mini and its predecessor, the iPad 3. And in that comparison the newer product is a dust-catcher. Its battery is always fully charged. It never gets off the night table. It was an obsolete product the day it shipped, and the day before it shipped.

BTW, this is why the orchestrated reviews of products are often worthless. I invite Mossberg, Pogue or Gruber to re-review their iPad Mini now, a week after their initial reviews, and let us know if they're actually using it. And if they still think it's a winner. I believe it's not only not a winner, but it signals a new Apple that's no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on delighting its users to the point of orgasm. This Apple is content to be a competitor. Not my idea of what Apple is, and definitely not Steve's.

Posted: 11/10/12; 2:01:37 PM.

My new blogging platform permalink

A few months ago, I'll have to look up the date, I switched to a new worldoutline-based blogging platform.

I wanted something that would be halfway between a formal blogging tool, and Twitter.

Here's why. Because I found myself with things to say that couldn't fit into 140 characters. I think by now this happens to everyone.

So I wanted an environment that would feel as fluid and as casual as Twitter, but have no limits on length. I wanted to be able to edit as much as I want, and then quickly move on to the next piece.

"Fluid" writing is the big thing. I didn't want to have to think about creating a blog post. I'd just start writing. If I didn't like the way it was coming out, I could just delete it and it would leave no trace behind. I'd never had a platform where the collection of all my posts was nothing more than a document. I've always wanted that, but until recently I hadn't gotten there.

I just wrote two blog posts in about ten minutes.

That's what I'm talking about.

Blog posts that feel like a sequence of tweets.

I've got that working -- and it feels great.

One of the downsides is far more typos and spelling errors.

But -- far more of my ideas make it out of my brain and onto the net.

Whether it means anything to anyone but me remains to be seen. :-)

Posted: 11/9/12; 6:27:36 PM.

The people are never a lame duck permalink

Most of the punditry in Washington isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.

A picture named duck.gifTake this op-ed in the Guardian that say that because of gridlock in Washington it will be impossible for the President do do anything in his second term that matches what he got done in the first. They don't know that, and they like to pretend they do -- but they're just being lazy.

Less than two weeks ago New York City was being flooded by a hurricane of such strength with such a huge surge that it wasn't even considered possible before it happened. That triggered an immediate priority, what are we going to do to protect New York against future flooding? And more important, what are we going to do to protect the other coastal cities in the United States. A huge number of Americans live in danger of the kind of flooding we experienced in New York at the end of October.

And that's just one thing.

Who knows what kind of winter we're going to have in NY?

And where the next drought will hit.

For the Repubs -- where is the next Benghazi.

You think any of those would disrupt the gridlock?

The gridlock isn't some sacred thing. If we push hard, the gridlock will break. Congresspeople are sissies. They really don't have much spine when the people are on their ass.

Life isn't that predictable. You don't know what's going to happen. We shouldn't waste our time thinking in such hum-drum terms. We could have a revolution, a legal revolution. I think it's going to happen one of these years.

What do we have to revolt about? Well, voter suppression for one thing! It's outrageous. And surprise -- the people figured it out, and they were outraged. For once the books balanced. :-)

Some of these diseased people should go to jail.

When you call the President a lame duck you're necessarily saying the People are also a lame duck. And if you read the Constitution, and believe we could be motivated to push back a little more, the People are never a lame duck.

Posted: 11/9/12; 6:21:33 PM.

Thanks President Clinton permalink

I haven't heard anyone talking about the contribution President Bill Clinton made to the re-election of President Obama. So I decided to do something about it...


If you concur, please pass that URL along so everyone can take a moment and pay homage to The Big Dog, who played a big role in this year's victories.

Posted: 11/9/12; 11:41:04 AM.

Why Romney Lost permalink

The meme du jour is Why Romney Lost.

It's really not so hard to figure out.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.These are people who pay no income tax."

You don't have to look any further. Basically this limited the field of possible Republican voters to people who were too stupid to get that he was talking about them.

A picture named fuckYou.gifAside from being insulting, it's clueless.

I have a pre-existing condition, and if for some reason I lost my health insurance, I would not be able to replace it, no matter how much money I spent. I have never not had insurance. The system is terrible. I had to scramble to find insurance when I lost my job a few years back. Ironically, it was the health care law in Massachusetts that saved my ass.

I'm willing to pay for the average cost for a person with my health, I think that's fair. But health care is already highly socialized. I get the same treatment as everyone else with the condition I have. We need to pool our resources.

I don't feel entitled to health care. I am a very productive member of society, and I find it highly insulting that the Republicans think I depend on them to give me a sense of purpose with my life. That's just laughable it's so arrogant and ridiculous.

So if you want an idea of why this approach didn't work, join the human race -- and you'll find out right away.

As another famous Republican said: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

In this case you could only fool 53 percent. And some of them were Democrats.

As President Clinton says -- it's just arithmetic.

PS: I wish President Obama had thanked President Clinton in his victory speech. It would have brought the house down. The Big Dog really earned it.

Posted: 11/9/12; 10:05:30 AM.

"They don't know they're dead" permalink

I find it fascinating that Mitt Romney and his advisors went into election night thinking they were going to win. Reminds me of the famous "I see dead people" scene from The Sixth Sense with Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis.

Posted: 11/8/12; 10:51:07 PM.

Boehner on ObamaCare permalink

Speaker Boehner says that ObamaCare is the law of the land.

1. So there you have it -- a clear mandate from the election. Whether you knew it or not, when you voted for Obama, you were making health reform in the US a reality. But there were other mandates.

2. You were also protecting Roe v Wade, and making a more liberal Supreme Court much more likely.

3. Another sure thing is a tax increase for the wealthy. Taxes may go up for everyone else.

The President has a lot more chips in the upcoming negotiation than the Republicans do, because they can only pass legislation or stop new legislation. The tax increase is already law. All the President has to do is this -- nothing.

Read Chait's piece for the full story.

Also Businessweek: "Obama and the Democrats can gain a huge source of new revenue by doing nothing at all."

Posted: 11/8/12; 8:06:46 PM.

The world is socialist, part II permalink

I try to save big ideas for January 1, every year.

Hard things to write, things that take a while to think about, both as ideas, and how I want to approach it in writing.

On January 1, 2011, I wrote a piece called The world is socialist.

It was intended as a rebuttal to the idea that was going around that our President is a socialist, somehow more radical than all his predecessors, and that was somehow a threat to people who live in the United States.

It was said a lot during the campaign (I'm looking at you Peterffy) and now in the aftermath, they're still trotting it out. We're going off the cliff because the President is socialist. It's so sad to see people so adrift, for a couple of big reasons.

1. The President is no more socialist than any other President.

2. The world is socialist (as I said in the piece I wrote).

Even the wild west, the supposed ideal of individuality, was highly socialist. The government gave people free land. The government moved the Native Americans out of the way when the Europeans wanted to harvest the buffalo or steal their land. Or is "liberty" something that only applies to white folk?

Snowstorms are socialist as are hurricanes. When the city gets dumped on we have the roads cleared by the Department of Sanitation, government workers. You don't get a specific bill for this, it's covered under your taxes.

And taxes. Rich folk pay more, because they get more. The companies they own use more roads, water, education, police. We have to pay for these services. If you don't want to contribute, then you shouldn't take the services. That is, you should move somewhere else. Because just by living you're using the protective services of the government, the police, the military, etc.

And health care. Should your life be ruined because you get a curable disease? We've decided no. Is that socialist? Perhaps. But then disease, like snow and hurricanes, is socialist too.

Well, read the piece. In the follow-up to the election this would be a nice one to get out of the way. We, who voted Democratic this year, are no more or less socialist than you are. If you think otherwise, then tell me how. Do you not drive on roads? Do need to breathe clean air? Do you go to public events that are kept peaceful by the police? Do you like to have clean water running into your house? Do you want your neigbors to flush their toilets into the street? Etc.

Posted: 11/8/12; 3:35:41 PM.

Strange numbers permalink

A picture named cards.gifI don't have a handle on this yet, because it's become virtually impossible to tell how traffic from Twitter arrives. But the hit counts on my short URLs are going way down. I used to get two or three thousand clicks on each one, as recently as a couple of months ago. Now I get two or three hundred clicks. I don't know what to attribute this to.

I recently started supporting the Twitter Cards feature, so you get a 200-character synopsis of each piece on Twitter, without clicking through.

I'm not sure this is such a good deal. :-)

I'm very concerned that we're turning over all our flow to a small number of companies. And we can't tell whether they're passing our tweets along to everyone who follows us. I'm beginning to wonder about that too.

Posted: 11/8/12; 3:22:18 PM.

What Republicans look like, to me permalink

Yesterday: "Romney did something with integrity by saying we need to get behind the President. If Romney had won, Obama's supporters, most of them, would have swallowed hard and gotten behind the new President and hoped for the best."

I got a response from someone who I later blocked, who said that before we got behind the new President, we would riot and loot first.

A picture named archieBunker.gifThen I read this piece by Tom Junod on Esquire where he said: "Though they will be back soon enough with their philosophy of limited government, they will heretofore practice their tried-and-true strategy of demonizing segments of the American population at their peril."

I thought these two go together. I wanted to tell my correspondent that I am a middle-aged white, affluent, educated person, who would never in a million years riot or loot anyone or anything. I realize of course that there's no point in saying that, if his intentions were respectful, he would already know that.

This is how a lot of us see Republicans. I thought people who think of themselves as Republicans who aren't like this should know that.

Posted: 11/8/12; 1:07:05 PM.

As Repubs try to figure it out permalink

A few notes for Republicans trying to figure this election out, and for everyone actually -- because there was some new stuff.

1. The late-breaking ad run by Romney that said Jeep was moving jobs to China blew back in his face. The people figured it out. And they had great communication tools to share the news with each other. The message: "Romney is a dick."

2. When Akin said the awful stuff about women and rape, that presented an A-B choice to the Republican leadership. They seemed to understand that, because they called on Akin to step aside. When he didn't, they stuck with him. I assume Republican strategists figured that while maybe it would be an issue in Missouri, the rest of us would forget about it. We didn't. And then it happened again in Indiana. This time the Republican leadership didn't say anything. What if, instead, Romney had made a big deal about it, like the Obama race speech in 2008. Cut support for Akin, on principle. That would have changed the tone of the campaign. But this isn't the kind of thing a Romney does. And that's a big part of why he isn't President-elect Romney. He isn't willing to take a risk for a big reward. He's a numbers guy. Not a good guy to be Leader of the Free World. (Not that we haven't already had presidents like that, we have.)

He said in his concession speech that he and Ryan had "left everyting on the field." Not true. He didn't take any personal risks other than telling ever-more-bold lies about himself. If he had taken a principled stand on something maybe a few more voters would have looked into his eyes and seen some of the conscience his friends says he has. But if he has it, it never showed up in the campaign. Quite the opposite -- his calculating "I'll say whatever I have to say to get your vote" attitude is what we saw 100 percent of the time.

Akin and Mourdock teed up a perfect opportunity for him to stand for something. How much guts would it have taken to completely withdraw support from these guys? Sure it would have made enemies in the Republican Party. But it would have given him at least one anchor to the human race, for the rest of us to connect with. "At least he's willing to stand up for a woman who was raped." (It sounds terrible to say it that way, but that is what it comes down to.)

3. Romney sealed it with his 47 percent comment at the Florida fundraiser. These were familiar ideas. It sounded authentic, like this is what Romney really thinks. No matter how competent you think a guy is, he has abstracted a huge number of American voters to be sub-human. If that's what it takes to hold his world together, I don't want to live in that world. I was already decided not to vote for him, and I didn't imagine there would have been anything he could say to change my mind, but when the debates came around...

A picture named think.gif4. The mistake Obama appeared to make was to paint Romney as a cretin, incompetent, dumb, rich, inbred jerk. Well, you could see, in the debate, he wasn't that. He could think on his feet. Put a good sentence together. And he had the fire that Obama lacks. If I had been on the fence (again, I wasn't) that debate might have pushed me over. If he hadn't shared the 47 percent bit, that might have made a difference. There was a moment in the first debate when a thought popped into my head that he's the real president. It wasn't something I reasoned my way to, it was a flash of insight. I imagine this is the feeling, that other people had too, that made his poll numbers go up.

5. I think he disqualified himself with the bullshit about Benghazi. People were dying, we didn't know how many. The situation was fluid, and there was Mitt sticking his two cents in. Really some people don't have good intuition for politics. Romney proved that day he was one of them.

6. Don't make jokes about climate change or birth certificates.

7. I think the biggest lesson of 2012 is that the people are much better connected now than they ever have been. That means that bold manipulative lies don't work, because they can be exposed, quickly, by networks of people that voters trust. In the past, politics was totally centralized. Like everything else, it is not centralized anymore. We have fact-checkers, we can listen to them, and now apparently enough people do that we can enforce a certain discipline on our candidates.

8. Given the circumstances of the economy, Romney could have won. That's why Republicans should hear this loud and clear. If you run as the Party of Cretins you're going to keep losing. It might take a few years for the transition to be complete. If the Republicans want to reform, they should reform along the lines of empowered voters with good access to information. And show respect for everyone. Don't nominate patricians like Romney. Nominate people with decent political instincts, who would never say the kinds of trashy things Romney said, no matter how much depends on it.

Posted: 11/8/12; 11:17:12 AM.

Election almanac e-book? permalink

It would be useful to have an e-book you could buy for say $10 put out by a reputable news organization, that gathers, in book form, all the information about the election we have, almanac-style.

It would be updated as new information comes in. Eventually it would stop updating.

Posted: 11/7/12; 7:03:33 PM.

Dear Repubs, we heard you permalink

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell on the top Republican priority, two years ago. It wasn't jobs. Not deficit or ending wars. Not health care.

The United States paid dearly for this.

If you think we forgot, we didn't.

Posted: 11/7/12; 1:00:52 PM.

It's a good day permalink

Lots of good stuff today.

1. Obama won re-election.

2. He gave a great speech.

3. Romney gave a great concession speech.

4. As of today, Romney becomes a punchline to bad jokes. Had he won, he still would have been the punchline to bad jokes, but they would have also been tragic jokes.

5. Obama talked about climate change in his speech.

6. He talked about self-government, implying possibly that he will help organize the people to do things that help our country regain some semblance of grounding. It's very true. In this country the people have all the power. But if you never work with us, if you treat us like mere voters, we can't work together. The President, of all the branches of government, must work with the people. Must like the people. And must lead the people. When the Repubs said the President wasn't leading, they were right. They could push us around because there was no connection betw the President and the people.

A picture named think.gif7. By keeping things as they are, with the Senate and House, we told the government that they have to put the bullshit aside and start working for the good of the country. Some people will say this was a message to both parties, but that would be a mistaken interpretation. The message was to the Republicans. I don't know about you, but I heard them say they were being jackasses and holding the economy hostage to try to make Obama a one-term president. I assumed from that point on all the talk about principles was just smoke, covering for their remarkably honest admission. We all paid a huge price for the vanity of the Republican Party. No more of that or we will punish you with obliteration. And maybe we have a President now who knows how to organize the people.

8. To Republicans, you may not like Obama, and I'm sorry you feel that way, but you have to man-up and deal with it. He not only is the President but he was just re-elected. Stop insulting the majority by saying we elected someone who is not legit. Don't be sore losers. Nothing is more un-American and honestly its disgusting to see grown men and women act like that. Romney did something with integrity by saying we need to get behind the President. If Romney had won, Obama's supporters, most of them, would have swallowed hard and gotten behind the new President and hoped for the best.

9. I think our new President got the message about the Republicans. They will be bastards if they feel they can get away with it. So take Teddy Roosevelt's advice. Speak softly and carry a big stick.

10. The fiscal cliff is no problem. Read Jonathan Chait's excellent piece on this subject. Opened my eyes.

11. If the Repubs want to play a game of chicken on the debt ceiling, again, I have two words for you: 14th Amendment. Dare them to impeach you. Look into the camera and tell the American people that we don't negotiate with terrorists. And mean it. This is where your new cojones come into it. Last time around when you took the 14th Amendment off the table, that's when you sealed our defeat. See #9.

12. ObamaCare FTW! When people see how much it helps they will love it. The law goes into effect in major ways next year, and with an executive branch that owns it, it has a much better chance. The Repubs will still try to starve its funding, but that's much better than having them try to dismantle it, as they would have under a President Romney.

13. Even better, the Supreme Court will not be packed with Alito-Thomas-Scalia clones. More Kagans and Sotomayors, please. And Ginsburgs and Breyers and sheez even another John Roberts wouldn't be so bad.

14. Maybe Netanyahu will stop trying to go behind President Obama's back.

In general, the President Obama we're getting in 2013 is much improved over the one we got in 2009. This one has battle scars. The old one was remarkably naive about the Republicans. We all knew what he didn't seem to know -- they're bastards. They don't like you and they don't want to work with you. But they have to if you use the bully pulpit. You have all the power that Franklin Roosevelt had, if you choose to use it. He had radio. You have even better tools. Use them or become the red meat that the Republican jackals eat for lunch.

Posted: 11/7/12; 12:08:33 PM.

Today we're the Decider-in-Chief permalink

Bush said he was the Decider-in-Chief.

A couple of days ago Bill Clinton picked up the idea and gave it to the President.

But today is a special day. The day when we're The Decider.

We still haven't done enough with it. But one day maybe we will do more.

If we declare our independence from the two parties, and run the next election ourselves, and it's possible -- we have the means to do it -- we can fight a revolution and win. And keep the attention of our leaders long before and after Election Day. And not just on superficial "values" issues, but issues of war and peace, how the economy works, and whether we're serious about saving the planet.

But no matter what, don't pay attention to people who say your vote doesn't matter. They're wrong. It does. The act of voting is like exercise. When you run a mile, you end up at the same spot you started at, and you give up an hour of your life. But you have done something. You've preserved your power to do something tomorrow and the day after. Same with voting. Even if you vote for someone you hate, you've still voted. The act itself still matters. And someday it will have more meaning, I'm sure of it.

Posted: 11/6/12; 12:16:08 PM.

My favorite movies permalink

Posted: 11/5/12; 2:01:13 PM.

If Obama wins permalink

A picture named jets.gifMy wish if Obama wins tomorrow is that he start building a cross-party coalition with his new buds Chris Christie and Bill Clinton. Go to a Jets game maybe. Ask Christie which Repubs are fun to party with. Bring them along too. Start a new informal Cabinet of advisers, people the President hangs with to talk sports or drink a beer or (privately) smoke some reefer. Then they plot out new ways to get the whole country working, not just the tri-state area. We have something much bigger than Sandy to recover from, that is if Obama wins.

If Romney wins, god help us.

Update: If Lindsey Graham keeps saying shit like this he can come to the football game too.

Update: Wouldn't it be fun if Obama named Bill Clinton as Secretary of Getting People to Work Together? I heard Clinton give a speech at the end of his second term where he advised that we all "find a shared vision." This is every bit as much needed today as it was in 2000.

Posted: 11/5/12; 10:06:06 AM.

Pando on corporate platforms permalink

A picture named cowboy.gifA surprising piece by Kevin Kelleher in Pando about lock-in on corporate platforms. It's surprising because none of the California tech blogs have been looking at the possibility that the corporate platforms might not be a permanent fixture. And Pando has been one of the most conservative, imho. It's great to see them look in this direction.

Eventually the lock-in will break. It would be smart for one of the platforms to decide that as a business strategy they'll try to create an open platform with replaceable components. Let people use different editors, browsers, let them hook in their own back-ends. Create a real ecosystem, with freedom, constructed the same way the web is, using formats and protocols that already exist, where ever possible. This really can work.

They would be promising to compete on quality, performance, features and price, not lock-in. It's really the honest way to go, and lots of industries work this way. For example, I can buy a Ford, Toyota, BMW or Smart car -- and drive on the same roads and use the same fuel. Everything is interchangeable about them except the key that gets me in and starts the engine. It's a good model for how our communication systems should work, at all levels.

Products like Twitter or Instagram are providing useful features, they really don't need to lock their users in. They will possibly survive this transition, if they're flexible when it happens. There's lots of examples of past transitions to study for possible strategies.

Posted: 11/5/12; 2:13:09 AM.

How much does the NYT cost? permalink

Here's a story for a reporter at the NY Times.

Find out how much I, a resident of the city of New York, a blogger, would have to pay per month for a digital subscription to the Times.

A picture named nytoffer.gif

Is it like a phone company contract? Do I have to sign up for one year? Two years? I'd much prefer to buy a month at a time like a no-contract cell phone. But sometimes it's hard to get rid of these things, like AOL. I had to talk to them several times, many years ago, to get them to stop billing me $20 a month. Given the deceptive way the NYT markets digital subscriptions, I strongly suspect they're like that when you want to say goodbye.

I don't care how much it costs for the first 12 weeks. That's such an insult. As a reader of the NY Times, I expect you to lay out the information clear unambiguous terms. It's such a contradiction that the Times markets itself this way.

I honestly don't know how much it costs. But if it's not too unreasonable I probably would have bought in a long time ago. To the Times, the way you're marketing this product is totally inconsistent with the values of the product you're trying to sell. I don't care if this gets more people to buy in, you're never going to get my business until you level with me, in a Times-like way.

Posted: 11/4/12; 11:07:45 AM.

What are red state folks saying? permalink

If Romney wins, we won't have to worry about what the red states are saying -- we'll hear it every day in the form of legislation, tax policy, executive orders. But if Obama wins, we have a chance to try to grow the majority through the simple act of listening.

A picture named 2004.gifOn the surface the red state folks say things that we know are not true, and most of them probably do too. The president is American. He is no more a socialist than any Republican president ever was. It's all repetitive talking points given to them by their pundits. Same as the Democrat pundits on MSNBC give their people idiotic talking points. A lot of my friends think there's a difference. If anything the MSNBC dogma is richer than the Fox News bullshit. That kind of crap isn't worth listening to or arguing with. Time-wasters. The people who really believe that are hopeless. They are drugged into a coma.

I also say we should not focus on policy issues, because they are mostly symbols, ways of expressing a more fundamental distrust, dislike, perhaps even in some cases hatred of east and west coast liberals. It's the fundamental things below that, what the symbols are expressing, that we should focus on, because they have validity.

That may sound surprising, that the source of hate is valid, but it is -- and until we listen to it, and try to understand what causes it, we will not grow the majority. What if we can give them what they want? What if they feel the world is moving too fast and leaving them behind? Is that something we can relate to? We all feel that to a certain extent. My guess is that people in flyover territory generalize about people on the coasts, just like we generalize about them. We're all greedy, powerful, ignorant and rich.

But people voting for Obama are not all alike. And middle class people have similar issues whether they live in the Bronx or Jacksonville, Florida.

On the networks we hear from people in Louisiana saying that finally the people up north have a taste of what it's like to be them. That's sad, because that didn't just happen. It's been like that all along. People in Staten Island and Rockaway have always been forgotten. Just like people in Louisiana.

The crazy thing is we all feel forgotten. Every one of us. Even the chairman of Chase or the mayor of New York or the governor of New Jersey feel unheard and unappreciated. I think that's the symbol we're all trying to manipulate, to light a huge flare, to send a message saying very simply -- hey I'm here, don't forget me.

That's why the visual symbols of the people jumping off the WTC holding hands, or standing on roofs in New Orleans waiting for rescue, or lining up for gas in New Jersey, while differing in degree, are all expressing the same idea. I'm lost, we're all lost, we have no idea what we're doing, and what we're doing isn't working. This isn't a new idea with Obama. This has been our problem in America ever since the 60s, the last time we, as a country had a mission.

The way things are, our leaders will never come up with the answer. We have to do that ourselves. It's a game of inches. It's two people communicating and helping each other across the red-blue divide. It's bi-partisanship not in Washington, it's bi-partisanship between us.

Posted: 11/4/12; 10:50:29 AM.

Crowd-sourcing the election permalink

A note for next time, let's not let Shelly Adelson have all the fun. :-)

One thing we've learned in the last few years is that if you have an idea that tickles the imagination of enough people, you can raise a lot of money online to develop the idea.

A picture named uncleSam.gifSo, when a video like this one comes along, that mixes a Republican crowd mocking climate change with scenes of the Sandy disaster, we could put $50 million behind running it where ever we like.

The cool thing about this is that we could decide to run ads that our candidate would never run. We could run them in non-battleground states. Or we could run ads to make sure an issue gets discussed in debates that our favorite candidate is trying to side-step. We can make winning about making politics do for us what we want it to do, instead of settling for the compromises that come from letting individual fatcats do all the pushing. You and I may not have a billion dollars, but if we pool our resources, we can act like we do.

Or we could run ads that shame the big spenders, reveal things about them they don't want revealed, give them an incentive to crawl back into their holes and stop pushing the rest of us around. I'm looking at you Thomas Peterffy.

I believe that Citizens United actually opened a big door that we can all take advantage of, not just Republican dickheads.

And yes, I know the title of this piece is funny. The founders of our country were the original crowd-sourcing guys, and voting is the ultimate form of crowd-sourcing. We've just gotten out of the practice of being proactive with our vote. We only vote on the things the rich guys let us vote on. Well, we have the tools to change that, imho.

Posted: 11/4/12; 9:56:09 AM.

Help Annie help NYC permalink

Annie Feighery is working to get actual physical things to people who are hurting in the aftermath of Sandy. Here's what they need:

Cleaning supplies (especially bleach-based cleansers).


Food that does not need to be cooked (ready-to-eat: PB&J, bagels, prepared meals pre-packaged, etc).

Warm clothes and blankets (socks, long sleeve shirts, warm child PJs, etc).


Please pre-sort your items as much as possible, as volunteers have to do it if you don't.

Don't mix cleaning supplies with clothes in a bag.

Try to separate adult clothes from kid clothes by bag.

They're filling a moving van. :-)

Where and when

Bring supplies to 606 W 116th near Ollie's, 116th and Broadway, Sunday morning betw 8 and 10AM.

The 1-train has a stop at 116th and Broadway. And the 1-train is running! :-)

Tweet her at @AnnieFeighery if you want to drop-off today instead.

Posted: 11/3/12; 11:25:02 AM.

Crane on the move permalink

Remember the crane that blew over in the storm on Monday?

Apparently it still works, and they're solving the problem by turning it, so that the dangling part is touching the building.

A picture named crane.jpg

Presumably from there, they can dismantle it safely, and cart away the broken bits down through the building itself.

It's kind of brilliant. They might do some damage to the building, but the ground below remains safe, and the problem may be solved quickly.

Update: Here's a close-up of the crane. Note the net under the crane bits.

Update #2: Here's a Bloomberg article that explains the plan.

Posted: 11/3/12; 10:41:43 AM.

Most brutal political ad, ever permalink

Posted: 11/2/12; 4:46:38 PM.

The 2001 Marathon permalink

In 2001, the New York Marathon took place 54 days after 9/11. The fires were mostly out by then.

Having the marathon on Sunday is more like having it a few days after the hellacious snowstorm of 2010. You might have been able to clear the streets for the race, but what about the streets you weren't plowing. How much money would be lost by those people not being able to get to work? I think you're looking at a much higher cost than the revenue a sporting event brings into the city. Penny-wise, pound-foolish. It's probably more money to get the bodegas and delis open all over the city. And the barber shops and halal food vendors. And get some more trees off people's houses. Re-open Central Park for the people. So totally like the mayor to focus on opening it for the media and elite runners. The city needs the park. And what about people with no electricity. Give me a break.

Another comparison. The Yankees returned home on 9/25/01 -- two weeks after 9/11. The baseball game involved a small part of the Bronx which was far from the disaster, and all transport systems to and from the Bronx were working at the time. Most of the infrastructure of the city was unaffected by 9/11. Not true in 2012.

More prior art. The Bay Area World Series resumed ten days after the Loma Prieta quake in 1989. As bad as that was, and it was really bad (I was there), this is a much bigger disaster. I don't think that's sunk in with a lot of people yet.

Posted: 11/2/12; 1:25:46 PM.

Occupy Staten Island permalink

Just read this in the Times.

Staten Island Hotel Owners Won't Kick Out Guests to Accommodate Runners. As anger percolates over the the decision to hold the New York City Marathon, at least two hotel owners on Staten Island, where the race starts, said they would not kick out those displaced by Hurricane Sandy to accommodate runners who have reserved a room.

The rest of the piece is on the Times site, without a working permalink. But I'm sure you get the idea.

The Mayor is a smart man, but he's made a very stupid decision, to have the marathon on Sunday. I can see the preparations happening right now in Central Park. It's a massive event that uses a lot of city resources at a time when all those resources should be used to restore power and transit and probably to some degree to save lives of New Yorkers. It's certainly possible that there's damage we don't even know about.

Maybe next year we can have a marathon. But this doesn't look like an ordinary disaster, like a snowstorm, which the mayor kind of blew a couple of winters ago.

It's important to do this rebuild right, and to include all the people of New York. Someone must get that. This is the premier American city not a monarchy. As long as there are New Yorkers suffering this way, we can't have a party.

One person said this is like Mardi Gras after Katrina. Emphatically it is not. I went to New Orleans five weeks after Katrina. There's no way that city could have had any kind of party at that point. And we're a much larger city and this wound is fresh, the bleeding and dying hasn't stopped. New Orleans had its party, seven months after the hurricane. Maybe we'll be ready for a party at that point.

People don't realize how much damage was done to our communities, and even more important to the infrastructure that connect us. It looks like these systems are really damaged. Months before they come online. it's time to sober up and get a clue, all of us. Especially our mayor.

Posted: 11/2/12; 12:54:59 PM.

Nate is great! permalink

I think the public editor at the NYT is just right when she admonished Nate Silver for offering a bet with Joe Scarborough.

Nate made a mistake. Here's my take.

A picture named heyNate.jpg1. I am educated, with a math degree. I've spent decades writing software. To do what I do requires a precise kind of thinking, but there's also an art to it. So when I read Nate's analysis, I recognize and appreciate it. I think Nate is one of a small number of young folk who make me optimistic about the future. I appreciate that he uses statistical methods, and I understand what you can and cannot do with stats. It's possible that Romney will win when there's an 80 percent chance of Obama winning. But, according to Nate's model, four times out of five, Obama wins. He's not 100 percent sure of it. But he's sure enough to put his honor on the line. As a believer in Nate, and a supporter of Obama, I am relieved. But -- if Nate said it was the other way around, 80 percent likely that Romney would win, I wouldn't even think of trying to discredit Nate. Instead, I'd be depressed about the future of the world. A fundamentally different way of processing negative information. :-)

2. Uneducated people probably don't understand the limits of statistical analysis. Probabilities don't come into it for them. I can't imagine that what Nate writes about makes much sense to them.

BTW, self-educated people are just as educated as formally educated people. Not drawing a distinction between people with and without degrees.

3. Making bets with such people accomplishes nothing.

4. I have had to deal with gangs of Internet trolls for years. It happens to everyone who takes a leadership role. The more you accomplish, the more inundated with garbage you get. When I realize all the things I didn't do because I didn't have the stomach for dealing with these people it makes me really angry. If I had it to do over again I would not let them stop me. I've developed new procedures that keep them out of my way. They seem to work. Knock wood.

5. Nate may think it's possible to teach Scarborough something. If he wanted to learn, he would buy Nate's book, or take a course in stats, or listen instead of rejecting strange ideas. But that's not who he is. No matter what you say to him, his mind is not going to change. You can't open the door for him. You can't show him how wonderful your world is. He's not looking for new delights. Sad, isn't it, but there are lots of people like that. They will never become Nate Silver fans. That's life!

6. You have to be satisfied by informing people who understand the process you use, or whose minds are open to new ideas.

7. The trolls will insult you for this. They will say you are not open to new ideas. Maybe they believe it. I don't know why they do it. But you'll never figure it out, no matter how hard you try, because they are truly different from you. So different that you can't communicate. So give up trying.

8. I think the Times has had this problem for generations. Long before there was an Internet.

9. Their isolation, their aloofness, could be functional, might be a response to this reality. I've often wondered why NYT people can be such assholes. Now I have an idea. They only let certain people into their discussion space. There are only certain people they listen to. Nate is to be commended for having a broader circle that influences him. But that doesn't make the Times wrong. They are probably just reacting to the reality that there have always been low-roaders like Scarborough. People who try to stop things they don't like or understand. Tune them out. But I think they go too far, and tune out things they should be listening to, that's not meant to harm them, or stop them. But too much time may have passed for the Times, organizationally, to be able to tell the difference between a troll and someone with strange wonderful ideas.

That's why I agree with the public editor that the bet he offered to Scarborough (which he, predictably, slimed) was a bad idea. Not something to be repeated.

On the other hand, the Times could find ways to open up a bit more and let some strange ideas in. They suffer for being too cloistered. And those of us in their community suffer too.

Posted: 11/2/12; 10:59:52 AM.

No marathon permalink

A picture named wsmall.jpgThere are many New Yorks right now. I am lucky -- I live in one that's coming back to life quickly. I have TV, electricity, Internet, heat. Most of the stores in my neighborhood are open. The only catastrophe that happened nearby is the crane that fell during the storm. But that seems to be taken care of, and its only a concern because it's caused traffic gridlock in my neighborhood. Very small problem.

Last night I took a walk down to 4th St, went cross-town, and came back via Times Square. The contrasts were very heavy.

I wondered how we could get the energy that's flowing through Times Square -- and everything is normal there -- to flow through the parts of the city I had just visited that are dark.

Today for the first time we're getting a picture of what's happening in Staten Island.

What will become apparent tomorrow? And do we really want to use our resources at this time for a huge optional event when citizens and taxpayers in parts of the same city are fighting for their lives? It's more ridiculous because the marathon is a citywide event.

This the Heckuva job Brownie moment for the mayor. Only a billion times worse.

No marathon. Bad business for NY.

Posted: 11/1/12; 10:28:29 PM.

The paywall contradiction permalink

When I heard that the WSJ and NYT were turning off their paywalls for the duration of Hurricane Sandy, I felt sure there was something wrong with this, though I found it hard to put in words.

I'm going to try now and see what happens.

When I write something publicly it's because I want to put the ideas out there and get a response. I want the benefit of other minds interacting with the idea. To limit access is opposite the purpose of writing it publicly. So every person who can't read it subtracts some of the value. If that person had a pivotal insight, one that would make me change my mind -- then all the value of publishing it is gone if I never get to hear the response because of a paywall.

One might argue that it's a matter of extent. If the paywall should come down because there's important potentially life-saving information on the site today, then it should come down tomorrow too, if the news organization is any good -- because that's always true. What difference does it make if they could save one life or one thousand? To the person whose life is saved, it makes none.

In 1995, I called the attempted censorship of the Internet in the CDA a "crime against humanity." Some people questioned the use of that term. I offered two defenses:

I have two answers. First, it's a felony to leave the scene of an accident, and it's a felony to blow up a Federal courthouse in Oklahoma City. Scale has nothing to do with it. If this isn't a crime against humanity, who is it a crime against? Do we hold our politicians accountable for their actions, especially if they're on a global scale? Are just US citizens offended by their attempt to shut down free speech on the Internet? No. The mail has been coming in from all over the planet. And rightly so. This act has global implications.

Writers and publishers have different motivations and missions. A writer's job is to spread ideas far and wide and reap the benefit. That's his art. A publisher's mission is, well I don't understand that one -- because I am a writer. :-)

Posted: 11/1/12; 7:03:37 PM.


© Copyright 1997-2013 Scripting News, Inc. Last build: 8/8/13; 9:27:28 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

Built by workspace.userlandSamples.genMonthlyArchives.genOneMonthArchive on server "larryKing."

RSS feed for <%weblogName%>