Saturday, December 29, 2012
I view this as an example of (presumably) liberal good intentions, not anchored in solid science, that are likely to lead to waste, disillusionment and cynicism. Deeply flawed data is much more harmful than no data. #Innumeracy
- Text is an "immediate priority" email (more than ordinary "high priority" like in Outlook). Optionally, your client or email service can let you require a PIN or white-list relationship to accept incoming as immediate priority.
- IM is exchanged in real-time, and optionally saved as email.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
"It's a concept being invented and mastered by speakers, conference organizers and business consultants in order to provide them with a short-lived burst of success," said Dr. Bogost, who last year wrote an essay that, in its off-color title, bluntly dismissed gamification.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Online books arrived too late for the above use case to apply to me, but I have been enjoying a small version of that. When reading a novel, sometimes I will forget some detail--most often, who the heck some minor character is. In such cases, it is very nice to be able to search, and usually go back to the first mention of said character.
My son, however, just encountered a glitch with that approach--his search inadvertently revealed key upcoming plot information. So I think the Kindle, etc, need a "no spoiler" option: a checkbox "don't show me any search results beyond my current place in the book".
(In general, I think everything about content needs to give thought to the "no spoiler" factor...)
Where this can become a problem is when, like me, you rely on alarms for reminders. For instance, I might set twice-daily alarms to remind me to take a dosage of an antibiotic. The problem arises when I silence my phone, as at a movie or, worse yet, a NYC Philharmonic concert, you go to silence , and don't realize I still have that reminder alarm set to go off mid-way through.
So what's the solution? I think it lies with an extension of the functionality of an un-silencer app (e.g., SilenceModeTimer). When you set your phone to silent, this app triggers a dialog that asks you how long to keep your phone silent. The app will then automatically un-silence your phone at the end of that period.
So the extension of that functionality would be:
- Un-silencer app looks to see if there are any alarms scheduled for the silent period you have selected.
- If there are any, it warns you.
Friday, November 23, 2012
The NFL commissioner says that HDTV is hurting live attendance. Maybe it is, but I have an alternate candidate for the biggest problem: excessive ticket prices. Make it cheaper to attend live games, more people will attend, including me. How to make it cheaper? So many ways, but let's start by not throwing away perfectly good, multi-100-million dollar investments that are barely two decades old.
- The program is objectionable on pragmatic grounds, for the very strong fear that the program will amount to an expensive subsidy for those who choose to live (or choose to rebuild and continue living) in flood-prone areas.
- It is objectionable as a matter a principle, because there is no reason the government should be stepping into an arena that political economists expect should be appropriately and adequately served by private industry.
- It is un-ethical, because misguided government incentives actively encourage people to undertake a course of action that may well be dangerous.
because they can't reconcile the beliefs and attitudes of this person they know very well, with the beliefs and attitudes they see widely advertised by the overwhelming majority of prominent "movement" conservatives.
Other examples I hope to explore in the future: farm aid, and special economic zones.
Hi. I use the no-ad version of Alarm Clock Plus. I've tried a number of Android alarm clock apps, this is my favorite. I do have some feature suggestions, though. Thanks for listening, thanks for a good app, and best of luck.1.Allow setting an alarm for an arbitrary date. If I make a critical early-morning appointment on Dec 1, for Dec 16, I want to be able to set the early morning alarm right then and there, for that date 16 days in the future.2.Suppress all pop-ups. I'm not completely sure if this is technically do-able, but I my SMS app has the pop-up notification option. This causes the nice, dim display to get all bright, to the point it occasionally wakes me up.3.Speaking of dim display--I would like to make it dimmer. Again, not sure, maybe this is beyond your control. With my Vibrant, it was super-dim when using hardware dimming. With my Galaxy S3, it is only moderately dim.4.In addition to "skip next" have a "skip until" option. Use case: I have a weekday alarm. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I want to skip it both Thursday and Friday. Same principle would apply on vacation.5.I think it would be more useful for the landing screen to be the alarms screen, not the desk clock screen. Most often this is where you want to go. (I know there is a widget for this, and that's what I use. But it took me a while to discover that--it would be better, IMO, for that to be the default behavior.)
Sunday, November 18, 2012
- One: the case is solved, but still have the perpetrator go free. NOT as Act 1 of a to be continued, but as the end-state.
- Two: Let the audience see the solution to the case, but the detective never is able to solve it.
Friday, November 02, 2012
If you have a URL copied to your clipboard, and activate Pocket, Pocket will sense this immediately and offer you a one-click option of saving for alter. Very nice, especially since Android Chrome browser doesn't support long-click to Share.
The swipe to scroll feature is very nice on phones (Kindle tap margin is still better).
Pocket has better interaction for standard usages. I hate how Instapaper starts by showing you the folders, whereas Pocket starts where you want to be--your reading list. I also really dislike the fact that it is two clicks to archive in Instapaper.
Pocket's download best view seems to result in a higher success rate than Instapaper.
Pocket's built in, floating rotation lock control is a very nice touch.
Pocket has the TTL Listen option built in. Surprisingly tolerable form of roll-your-own audio magazine.
Pocket implements long-press in list view, to let you mark or share an article. Minor, but a very elegant touch. As is the batch actions option.
Pocket's list view is single column, much cleaner than Instapaper's dual column.
How is Instapaper better?
I really can't find much in Instapaper that I find superior. That being said, it is still an excellent app, which I could be perfectly happy with. It's just that Pocket is even better.
- It might be a smidge snappier.
- It has the labels option--I don't use it, but some people seem to like it.
- Oh here is one--I am clear on Instapaper's business model. I have no idea what Pocket's is, and that does worry me.
- 3 regular laptops
- 1 netbook
- 1 old desktop that works but never gets used
- 1.5 tablets (Kindle Fire counts as 1/2)
- 5 Android phones
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Of course I could not resist truth-squadding the movie afterwards. After a little Googling, I found this very apropos Slate article. It seems like it was somewhere in the C+/B- range for fidelity. But not all transgressions are equal--even a reductive apologist for realism such as myself will admit the need for dramatic license.
To me, the damning offense was the climacitc getaway sequence. The Slate article confirms its substantial falsity, while drawing the wrong conclusion [my italics]:
Affleck’s version involves every conceivable complication—each one of them, as it happens, invented purely to make the movie more exciting. (And it works! The finale is thrilling.)I didn't think it worked, at all. The whole down-to-the-wire finish got worse for me by the minute, and collapsed under its own weight with the utterly ridiculous runway chase. I kept whispering to Beth about my doubts that the whole getaway was nearly so fraught as portrayed, but the runway scene triggered an insta-fail on my built-in realism-O-meter.
I can, reluctantly, accept that a smooth-as-silk final sequence in the airport just would not cut it for a fictional movie. So it would have been fine to have the revolutionary guards sweat the escapees for a while in the airport, in the service of dramatic interest. Heck, I could rationalize that, even if said sweating did not actually happen, to the escapees it might have felt that way.
But the action-movie climax undid some of the great storytelling. When you have a story that unbelievable yet true, it doesn't need embellishment. But I suppose if a dollop of excessive drama at the end of a very good movie is an acceptable price, for a high-grade movie to enjoy commerical success.
Full disclosure on the realism-O-meter....at one point, I leaned over and whispered to Beth "I don't believe they were putting together the shredded photos". But apparently they were--sort of. They did have people re-assembling shredded documents--but there doesn't seem to be any indication that they were focused on any particular photos or had an inkling that there were unaccounted-for staff.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
I really didn't like that ending. Phil is waiting in pre-op, having finally ginned up his courage, only for Claire to waltz in and talk him out of it--because she's "not sure" she doesn't want any more children! This is Claire, mother of three, one college-aged, who is herself--how old? In the show, she looks like an extremely attractive 34 or so. But let's do the math. If she were 22 when Haley was born, she'd be at least 40. That's probably the best case, she could be older. Sure, not out of the question for conceiving, but really, she is not in the "just in case we change our mind in a few years" camp. If there were ANY QUESTION of having another baby--which, to be clear, I think is a ridiculous proposition--she should have already been on it.
Then there is the question of Phil's age. He looks even older, pushing 50. Yes, I'm aware that plenty of men don't have children till well into their forties and beyond. But that is usually men who have no kids, or are on their second family. Very few American men of 45 with three kids are raring to have a baby. The reason it usually happens is carelessness! Which brings me full circle...men foolishly avoid vasectomies enough as it is, without any encouragement from pop culture. The show could have handled it so much better.
In researching this blog post, I came across this NYT article, which I think covers the term quite nicely (though in the non-judgmental approach common to both journalism and descriptive dictionaries). I do think the military usage, with a different meaning, is likely the origin of the term.
Final note...like many edgy terms, it may be acceptable in certain situations, especially when used between in-group members...I think the perfect situation would be for one buddy to exhort another to "Man up and get a vasectomy!".
Monday, October 15, 2012
I am aware, of course, of the primary motivation for running their practice that way--the doc's time is infinitely precious, the patient's utterly expendable. Could the situation be improved? I think so.
Even if we accept the proposition that the scale will be heavily tilted toward optimizing physician time, I bet there is a lot of room for improvement--if only there were a will.
First of all, I wonder how much of the backlog is non-optimized, sheer waste? Could the backlog be halved, and still achieve the same level of physician utilization?
Following close after that is the question of sharply diminishing benefits. What is a reasonable tradeoff between wasting patient time and doctor time? 10-to-1? 50-to-1?
Okay so those considerations are the low hanging fruit. Next comes simple process improvement. Could the practice take a page from appliance delivery
Of course, the cynic in me has to wonder--is part of it image? Does a long wait at a specialist's office serve as a signal that their time is hard to come by, and you are lucky to get an appointment at all?
All I can say is--thank goodness for smartphones. Wait time == reading time.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Francis Wilkinson, a journalist who became a Democratic campaign consultant and is now a member of the editorial board of Bloomberg News, says, "You don't have a jury decide a court case when it's just three-quarters of the way through. New information arrives every day."The big difference is that serving as a juror is an inherently closed-ended process. There is a most definite end. The date of an election is rather arbitrary. There is no process or science behind the length of the campaign. So 3 weeks more campaign exposure might randomly change a few minds either way, but there is no particular reason to identify those 3 weeks as crucial.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Then there was the time I upgraded 2 lines to unlimited minutes, but they put it on the wrong 2 lines, resulting in the classic shock-inducing $2000 phone bill (of course they fixed it, but another call, another story to the CSR). Or screwing with my grandfathered data plan when I upgraded the line...they switched it back when I complained, so now that I think about it, that is probably deliberate corporate evilness (let's see if customer notices), rather than CSR mess-up.
Here's the latest...just received a new Galaxy S3 for Beth. But it takes the new micro-SIM, so I can't just swap her old SIM into this phone. I have to call to activate the SIM they sent. Okay, that's a bit inconvenient, but reasonable and no alternative. I call, get through quickly, rep understands my request, and after the perfunctory attempt to up-sell my data plan, he puts it through. Except...
Except what he did was transfer my line to the new SIM card. Doh! I assume this happened just because my line is primary. He saw that we had a Family Plan, wouldn't it have been a good idea to be sure he know which line to move?!
Okay, so that's annoying, but I figured a call back should solve it. After explaining the situation about 3 times to the polite but somewhat clueless rep, and waiting on hold while she asked her supervisor, they asked if it would be okay if I went to a Tmo retail store to get a free replacement micro SIM. Well actually, no, it's not okay. Of course, that was just CSR-speak for "I can't help you you're gonna have to go pick up that micro-SIM". Not happy.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
I like playing Words with Friends a lot, but I have an idea to improve it: There should be a scoring rule, per turn, of a maximum of 8 times the number of letters used (e.g, 2 letters max 16, 5 letters max 40).
This would have the following benefits:
- Generally encourage longer words that open up the board, versus defensive play that can be tactically very advantageous, but often makes for a cramped, boring game
- Eliminate very high-scoring turns that are the result of very little skill (dropping the X on a double to spell "XI" both ways, for 38 points).
- Eliminate super-high-scoring turns that are somewhat lucky but can create an insurmountable lead
- Helps equalize the playing field between veterans and newer players (who won't have memorized all the silly 2-letter words)
Various institutions make this mistake. I am thinking at the moment of a church I know. Every week they devote the first 3 minutes of the service to repeating the same dull reminders:
- Fill out the Communications Card. Even if you attend every week. (Which nobody feels like doing.)
- Explaining the service.
- Explaining how they love kids, but yes sometimes kids get restless, so if they do, here are the various options you have to accomodate them (padded cell, kids program, etc).
- (I will give them a little credit--lately they have been omitting the silence your cell phone PSA.)
I think I do understand, the church wants to be friendly to newcomers. But there is probably a better balance to strike that doesn't involve wasting the prime minutes of the service. A few ideas:
- Rotate the PSAs--don't try to cram them all in every single week.
- Use the video to deliver the PSAs. Run them continuously before the service begins and devote one screen to them during the opening music.
- Let the PSAs wait till a little later in the service. (This may or may not work, depending on the arrangement of the service.)
Thursday, September 20, 2012
From Apple's own website: Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to find the most precise match for every single iPhone.
It does sound ingenious (though if they really had their tolerances down, there wouldn't be any upside to painstakingly searching out mating parts with optimally compatible dimensional variation). It also sounds like it might e marketing BS. I bet they did this just to have something to talk about. People always fall for this kind of impressive, great-cocktail-party chatter that they don't necessarily understand, or know the importance of.
It wouldn't surprise me if this has minimal benefit, and Apple quits even doing it, after a decent interval has passed.
Is it worth devoting the first 750 or so words of this piece to the iPhone 5’s surface appeal? I don’t know how else to convey the niceness of this thing. This iPhone 5 review unit is the single nicest object in my possession. I own things that cost and remain worth more (e.g. my car). But I own nothing this nice. It sounds hyperbolic to put it that way, but I offer this observation with no exaggeration.
To an extent, though, the idea that a non-voice-user could save a lot of money with a data-only plan may be wishful thinking. The carriers have fixed costs and need a certain ARPU. They are going to try to get it one way or the other.
It is sort of analogous to how everybody wants cable TV stations to be un-bundled. Their reasonsing is that they only use 4 out of 50 channels. If they could just pick the 4 they want, then their monthly bill should plummet (ideally, to 4/50s of its current level). It's not gonna work this way. If it ever comes, it will be something like: (1) channel costs 1/2 of the full-fare, and each additional channel costs another 1/10. So (5) would be break-even.
Oh, and if they do that, most likely the cost of the bundle will go up.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
In purely clinical terms, I think the United States is so homogeneous that there is negligible justification for variation. What is going to be different--cover frostbite in Minnesota? Sunburn in Florida? Our diseases are not very particular to geographic regions. So any justification for variation is likely to be based not on local idiosyncrasies and "facts on the ground", but rather on local politics.
One oft-repeated justification for delegating power, and incurring the variation that comes with it, is that the states serve as "the laboratories of democracy". I think I get that, and generally I support anything that leads to rational experimentation and improvement. But I can't help wondering if "the juice is worth the squeeze" here.
I have an idea for a compromise. Instead of a free-for-all, where every state has great latitude to alter the baseline, require that 5 states band together to define a common variant. One advantage is that it reduces the max number of variants from 50 to 10. But a much more important effect is that by requiring some broad consensus, this arrangement (hopefully) eliminates meaningless variation and catering to special interests.
I've tried this at work a couple of times, it has worked okay. In those cases, I have been in the position of supplicant--not decider--and have assured the powers-that-be that in no way would my request be construed as precedent.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Likewise, we all know that writing is better with editing...why bypass this process?
I think it is all false excitement...there aren't that many stories that we need to read about in actual real-time.
There are some interesting possibilities if every book you ever read was an eBook. Imagine your child is reading Moby Dick...you could look up your copy and see what you highlighted. I know, that is a long long way off and probably mostly a dream, but it speaks to the possibilities of digital, which I think in many ways are so much greater than dead-tree.
Mostly, though, the words are what is important. I always used this thought experiment to frame the problem...suppose you have a hypothetical choice. You can preserve all of Shakespeare's works, in accurate but completely plain printed volumes. Or, you could have half of Shakespeare's works in their original versions (Folios or whatever), but the other half would be completely lost. Seems like an easy choice for the former, right? So what that tells me is the format is of secondary importance, at best. So why fuss over it so much?
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The irony of this kind of a deal, of course, is that one second after the transaction, the people who overpaid you now become your stakeholders. In this way, CFO Ebersman finds himself in a tricky, uncomfortable position. But still, he totally did the right thing and got outstanding results.
Reminds me of the brilliant move Steve Case made, well over a decade ago, locking in much of AOLs excessive valuation by selling to the Washing Post company. I'm pretty sure he knew they were grossly over-paying, but that was hardly his fault or problem.
Like I said, many of the readers seem to get this quite clearly, unlike the author of the article.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
I can't believe they put up with it. But if they seemingly can't solve it with sticks, then I think they should consider some carrots. How about a contingent $0.25 raise for 1 month without calling in, another $0.25 the next 2 months, up to 3 months. Reward those who don't call in.
I would like to be able to create an event, set a reminder type of alarm, and have that result in my Alarm app ringing for the set time. My main use case is for unusually early meetings; the current work-around is to set the alarm manually.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Two--the labels on street names are too small. This even after invoking the Labs option to make them bigger. This is just another example of the larger, long-standing theme that smartphones need to be more farsighted-friendly.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Back in the days of vinyl LPs, you could easily discern who was serious about good sound. A vinyl LP, if not handled very carefully and played on good equipment, degraded steadily. So most people's LPs, if played often, were somewhere between moderately degraded to horribly scratched.
Only if you carefully handled your LPs, cleaned them every time before playing with an expensive brush like this, and maintained a high-quality turntable--only then would you have good sound. Then CDs hit, and every slob who didn't even put the media back in its container could enjoy the same fine sound that you, the audiophile, felt is your birthright.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
(So what is the best bet? They should buy LinkedIn.)
Sunday, August 19, 2012
The don't get part is--what is unique about Twitter? And, assuming that the vast majority of the issues are negative, why encourage a medium that is public? My point is that Twitter doesn't really allow companies to do anything that they couldn't have been doing all along via email, if they had wanted to make the same kind of investment. I.e., rather than responding to emails with robot-generated messages, if they had actually taken the same time to field emails as they do Twitter, the result would be the same.
So how to explain the difference? I think it is the sum of a few things. One, the fact that Twitter is public cuts two ways. First, it increases a company's motivation to respond. The second way the public nature of Twitter differentiates it from email is that it may, just may, temper the extent to which people complain irrationally and unreasonably, as compared to email. This is probably a sustainable difference, even though people could, if they catch on, create a different Twitter account for their corporate complaints.
Two, the way Twitter has grown is relatively fast but somewhat linear. So the volume of Tweets has probably been much more manageable than email might be. I am curious to see how long that lasts, because as more people catch on to the fact that the way to get a company's attention it to call them out on Twitter, the volume may become overwhelming, just like email would be.
Three, the Twitter audience may be a self-selecting audience worth paying special attention to. Higher-income, which is important for obvious reasons. More sophisticated, which is important because: one, the feedback may be more discerning and useful; two, because they may be influencers.
Okay, so as I assess what I have written so far, I think that I have answered my own question. Clearly the question that follows is--how long will Twitter remain a privileged avenue for customer service? My prediction is 2-5 years. Either it will become clogged, or it will decline in popularity.
These digital scores, known broadly as consumer valuation or buying-power scores, measure our potential value as customers. What's your e-score? You'll probably never know. That's because they are largely invisible to the public. But they are highly valuable to companies that want - or in some cases, don't want - to have you as their customer.Very interesting stuff. I have long been intrigued by the thought that companies should be better at knowing who the profitable customers are, and aren't. Banks in particular I think have been going in this direction for over a decade.
Lately, Tires Plus has quit trying to upsell me on unnecessary maintenance...I wonder if their system has figured out is a waste of time?
Likewise, the last time I bought a cheap laptop at Best Buy, they didn't try to upsell me on anything--no extended warranty, no performance optimiazation, nothing.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Another idea would be to take a page from the airlines' playbook, and overbook on a statistically-driven basis, and start bumping the no-shows. This would require selling some of the late standby seats on a non-reserved basis.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Marco is writing about the Apple App store, but the core point--that capturing the
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
If all male elk could decide to, say, halve the size of their antlers it would benefit the species as a whole. Those with the largest antlers would still maintain their advantage in fighting for mates, but the species as a whole would be less vulnerable to predators. Of course, Frank realises that elk are not in a position to make such decisions, but he believes humans can learn from the paradox. For instance, Americans often feel obliged to organise expensive and lavish wedding celebrations as a result of social pressure. If everyone agreed to scale down their weddings then the whole
Sunday, July 15, 2012
So anyway I decided to see what I could find on the internet. I didn't put a whole lot of time into it, but I didn't readily find any authoritative sources. I did, however, find this article from The Guardian, where he goes into more detail about his criminal youth. And I find it even more unconvincing.
He talks about robbing jewelry stores and getting away with it as easily as pick-pocketing might be (and I'm not sure how easy that is). And then the topper: "I never been to prison. I never been caught". Just. Too. Improbable.
 I loathe this term, but I'll use it here because it seems to fit.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Definition: Too early in an undertaking to make a definitive judgment.
Example: The breakaway has an 8 minute lead, but of course it's early days in this 200 km stage, and the Peleton will almost surely overtake them before the finsish.
Assessment: A nice, colorful expression with clear meaning. Fine for occasional use, but it will quickly become tiresome with frequent use.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
Sleets grew up in Campbellsburg, KY and starred on the basketball team at Eminence High School. When he was young, his father, Lamont Sleets, Sr. would frequently entertain visits from his old army buddies. Sleets Sr. served in Vietnam, in the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry regiment. "It was the Bobcat division," Mont said, "but my dad and his friends always called it 'The Five.'" Sleets Sr. and his army friends started an informal greeting between them while serving in Vietnam. It consisted of extending their arm straight up in the air with all five fingers parted and saying the name of their division: "Five." Sleets thinks that when he was around 2 or three years old, it was only natural to want to emulate the old army men that gathered in his house. Since it was tough for a youngster to keep track of all the different names of the visitors, the saying of "Five" became young Mont Sleets' universal salutation for his fathers friends. Sleets recalls the story with the weariness of anybody recounting the family stories they heard over and over while growing up, but not without telltale signs of enthusiasm throughout: "They'd walk in the door, and a three year old kid, he doesn't know the difference between all these grown-ups. But they're all sayin' 'Five' with their hand up like this, so I just start saying to them, 'Hi, Five!' like it was their name."
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Saturday, June 30, 2012
: "Hunter had such a brilliantly flashy narrative style that a lot of people were fooled into thinking that’s all he was—a wacky, drug-addled literary party animal with a gift for memorable insults and profanity-laden one-liners. The people who understood him the least (and a lot of these sorry individuals came out of the woodwork, bleating their complaints on right-wing talk shows and websites, when Thompson died) had this idea that he was just the journalistic version of a rock star, an abject hedonist with a gift for the catchy tune who was popular with kids because he stood for Letting Loose and Getting Off without consequence."
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
And during that decade, almost every such developer I knew switched to the Mac if they weren’t already there, partly because it was better for developing web apps.That’s one of the biggest reasons there was so much pent-up developer interest in the iPhone before the App Store opened: these consumer-product developers were all using Macs already. As the dominant consumer platform shifted from the web to apps over the last four years, most talented consumer-product developers built products for their app platform of choice during that time: the Apple ecosystem.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
To add to the fun, Samsung have some strange ideas about my willingness to buy into their hardware ecosystem. Apple's products use the now-familiar dock connector instead of regular micro-USB. This is annoying, but (a) you can buy a tiny dock connector to micro-USB dongle for about £5 if it irritates you sufficiently, and (b) there are lots of cheap third-party cables. Lots of third party kit out there uses the dock connector, which has been stable for about 8 years: the evidence is in the shape of all those alarm clock radios and speaker docks. Samsung, in contrast, invented a wholly new and incompatible dock connector for the Galaxy S II tablet. One that is not compatible with earlier Galaxy tablets released as recently as late 2010. The cable sells separately for $20 (so if you lose the cable for your tablet you're stiffed paying nearly 10% of the total price for a replacement wire to the wall wart).
Friday, June 22, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
- Offering to call you back
- Advice about best time to call
- Friendly, on-shore CSRs
- Making it very hard to break out to a rep
1. Webex meeting occupies your attention
2. Meeting winds down
3. Jump over to whatever you urgently need to do
4. Webex grabs the scope
Solution...Windows should have some kind of notification bar/window, where an app can tell you if it is doing stuff and maybe you want to check it out.
In fact, the whole notification metaphor is a problem. A lot of people live and die by their Outlook calendar reminders. But if your reminder happens to activate while you are away from your desk, it is very easy to not see it. Contrast this with the Android notification bar, which is low-key but nicely persistent.
These are old, crufty problems. Perhaps they could be solved in legacy UIs, but there is so much resistance to doing so. Then a fresh, new UI paradigm comes along, simpler, cleaner and without these problems, and it feels so good.
(While we are on the subject of the Android Notification Bar, it is not perfect...it gets way too cluttered with unimportant notifications. It seems like more and more apps want to put their icon into the notification bar. That is more analogous to the Windows system tray (status) than a true notification (something happened, pay attention).)
One thing we know is that if employers were willing to do a little more training, and maybe there was some way the government could give them an incentive to do that, they might be able to take people who are capable of doing jobs but don't have exactly the right skills. And the thing is, the software needs to be redone so it's not so picky and it flags, for consideration, by a human being - an applicant who doesn't quite fit the bill but could do the jobI do not believe HR is very data-driven. For instance, do they track data that tells them how good their screening is?
Severely Broken Multi-TaskingAs has been more publicized for the HTC One X, the memory management is so aggressive that you can barely multi-task at all. It's like the Generation 1 iPhone. Especially a killer, since one of my main uses cases is to listen to streaming NPR.
Signal Fluctuation IssuesI think the signal fluctuation issue was largely fixed by the recent update. Pre-update, sometimes I would spontaneously have no signal at all. Post-update, sometimes the signal drops precipitously for no reason at all, but hasn't gotten to the point of "X for no signal".
Bluetooth Spontaneously Disconnecting/CrashingThe bluetooth would spontaneously disconnect, pretty frequently--probably once every 2-3 hours of use. A couple of times I think it even caused the phone to re-boot. Again, since my #1 use case for my phone is voice calls for work (I know, who would have though, voice a primary usage for a smartphone! :) ), and my #2 is streaming NPR, this is a big problem.
Screen SizeI knew what I was getting, but I had really wanted a 4.6" widescreen (like GS2). I was willing to compromise on this, but it was a factor. Had I known T-Mobile would get the GS3 so promptly, I probably would have held out from Day 1.
App Association (Probably Intentional) BugIn Android, you can set a default app association for various "Intents", such as Contacts, Messages, Home Button. The first time the Intent occurs, it will list all the available "Intent Receivers" (Apps), and let you choose if you want one to be the default. From then on, you don't have to choose, you get the default. In HTC ICS, it seems like this is broken--I set the default, but it is never remembered. This gets very, very annoying. Especially for a Launcher app that replaces the Home Screen.
Menu ButtonFor the many apps not updated to ICS, you lose quite a bit of space in portrait mode, due to the on-screen menu button. I know this isn't HTC's fault, they are following the Google spec, but it was a real bummer (and compounds the screen size compromise). I am thinking Samsung made a much better choice with the GS3 by going against Google's intent and including the menu button. Surprised this hasn't been discussed more, it is a real bummer.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Stipulated that I am an eBay newb, but I can think of an approach that seems like it would fend off such scammers. Have an option--recommended for all newb sellers--to require the bidder to have a PayPal account with a $20 balance. Upon winning the bid, PayPal places a hold on that balance, until the full payment is received. If a scam, the $20 is forfeited, of course. Not likely that will happen, scammers won't leave a money trail with real money in the first place. The point is deterrence.
The money doesn't have to go to the seller, it can go to eBay. Don't want to create any incentive for sellers to invent scammers for their own profit.
Sunday, June 03, 2012
I will say something to my kids, notice they are absorbed with the screen, and ask them to pay attention. They will claim that they are paying attention, and will offer as evidence the ability to "play back", verbatim, what I have just said.
The problem is that they played back from "cache". Very analogous to the small amount of cache memory on a CPU. Information can be quickly stored and accessed there, but it is very volatile. It only becomes data when it is actively processed and stored to a less volatile location. So, if I hadn't said anything, the cache would have either been over-written by the next small stream of information, or decayed quickly within a few minutes, and the info would never have been absorbed.
 Multi-tasking means actively processing more than one activity, concurrently. It should not be confused with "context-switching", which means being able to juggle and switch between multiple activities. I think humans have fewer absolute biological limitations on the ability to context-switch, though it is still problematic. One, it imposes the overhead necessary to manage the contexts. Two, there is risk of contexts over-writing each other's memory. It seems possible, though not proven, that today's youth will be better context-switchers.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
So with the help of my son, who has more eBay experience by far than I do, I listed it with a $375 minimum bid and a $450 Buy It Now. Based on other selling prices, I was pretty confident of clearing $400.
The phone was only listed 1 day, when I got an email that it had been purchased via Buy It Now. Shortly after that, I got an email from the buyer, who was in the U,K., asking for my email address so that he could pay me via PayPal.
That seemed fishy to me, I know you can pay someone, for anything, if you have their PayPal email, but I didn't see why he couldn't just click "Pay" within eBay. It also didn't help that he had been an eBay member since...earlier the same day. So I called eBay Customer Service.
I got a bad vibe right away. The person on the other end seemed possibly competent, but tired and uninterested. But they assured me that the request for an email address seemed valid, and in any event, I would be protected as a seller. Somewhat skeptically, I sent the buyer my email address.
My skepticism was rewarded. Hours later, I received an email from the buyer's PayPal account, telling me the payment had been made, but couldn't be released until I provided a shipping number. Oh, and would I mind shipping it to his son in Lagos, Nigeria?--it was to be a birthday present. At that point, the tell-tale fractured English wasn't even necessary to convince me that this was a scam, and a closer inspection revealed that it was a phishing email with a spoofed, pay-pal-like email address.
So now I have to go through the whole eBay complaint process, who knows how long that will take. Basically, this has supported my skepticism about whether eBay is worth the hassle. (Oh, did I mention the phone was actually listed before this, and eBay sent me an email telling me it had been won by a fraudulent buyer, and canceled the transaction?)
I know it is hard for eBay to eliminate scammers, but the inattentiveness of the Customer Service person is inexcusable. There were so many clues.
Also, it seems like eBay's defaults leave a lot to be desired. After about 10 minutes research, I concluded I should have only accepted domestic shipments and, much more importantly, should have required immediate payment, which would require the person have an existing PayPal account. So my point is, with all the Big Data that eBay has, can't they connect the dots:
- I'm a newb seller
- Selling a pricey electronics item
...and advise me as to the safest defaults to use? I'm not sure if they fail in this way because they are lazy, or because they don't want to scare people.
 As spoofed emails go, it was somewhat realistic, until you got to the actual content. If they would hire a competent Enligh-language writer, they might actually fool a few people.
P.S. I feel really, really sorry for anyone who lives in Nigeria and actually wants to buy stuff off of eBay! :(
Sunday, May 27, 2012
In last night's game 7 Celtics vs Sixers, Rajon Rondo committed a foul on the offensive player who had a pretty open path to the basket, early in the first quarter. By late first quarter, he found himself benched to avoid foul trouble. Then later in the game, he again was flirting with foul trouble and spent some extra time sitting down.
Rondo is a key starter on the Celtics. Losing his services is a big deal. He traded an important early foul to save, on average, about 0.5 pts. Seems like a bad deal to me.
How does the math on that work? Here's how...an ordinary field goal is worth 2 points. NBA players shoot 75% on average, meaning the "expected value" of a trip to the line is 1.5 pts. 2.0 minus 1.5 = 0.5. Seems like a pretty poor return to me, and that is the best-case. Most significantly, it doesn't quantify the risk of putting the opposition into the bonus earlier.
 Whether you should bench a key player for being in foul trouble, so readily, is the subject for another blog post.
 It also assumes a 100% chance the offensive player would have scored. Even with breakaway dunks, you do see a few misses. And this wasn't a breakaway--it was just an open lane to the basket. I would guesstimate an 85-90% chance it would have been converted.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
I think a great theme for a novel would be the bankruptcy of the notion of the suffering artist. While I might concede that some great artists have suffered quite a bit, and perhaps their suffering was to some extent related to their greatness as artists, I have two observations:
- My belief is that they would have suffered no matter what, due to problems of temperament or mental conditions. I reject the idea that it was a choice they made, as a sacrifice for their art.
- In the meantime, that mythology of suffering misleads so many young, talented but insufficiently gifted, would-be artists, at a substantial cost in lost happiness.
One can see why the cursed poets believed they had been chosen for so terrible and sublime a fate. Their mythology of genius born in suffering helped make their hard lot endurable, as countless adolescents who have read J. D. Salinger can testify. But it also drove them deeper into misery—drove them to seek out misery, to cherish drunkenness, madness, ordeal, as a source of poetic inspiration. That wisdom comes of suffering, at least for prophets and tragic heroes, is an ancient truth; but is it wisdom to chase after suffering, as though the evil of the day were insufficient?
There is something perverse about these poets and their view of their calling. Their loneliness, drunkenness, disease, the early deaths of or abandonment by their fathers, the tauntings and beatings they took from their schoolmates: These and other blows became the fundamental truths about the world and the stuff of their poetry. They did not imitate Christ’s selfless suffering. Instead, with a poet’s vanity, each relished in his own way his martyrdom, championed it, flaunted it.
Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud: They were remarkable artists, yes, among the greatest of their time. But the perversity of unhappiness cherished and cultivated constricts their excellence: The pursuit of unhappiness assumed too large a place in their souls.
Friday, May 25, 2012
For the first 12 years of my career, I worked in the elevator industry. A very small, insular industry. My lack of obviously transferable industry experience was a real handicap in trying to change jobs.
(Eventually I did make the change, and it was no problem at all. The sad truth is that most recruiters and even hiring managers are terrible at being able to evaluate talent . So they way overrate nominal industry experience, and way underrate aptitude.)
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Mostly this occurs in the games world, which means nothing to me since I don't
Like I say, I recognize that app developers need to make a living, and don't always find that easy on Android. I hated the advertising in WWF, so I happily sprung for the paid version. I think it was $2.99. Maybe the publisher would argue that $5 or more is a fair price, so I'm still getting a good deal even if I pay $2 for the in-app feature. Could be, but like I said, I instinctively resist getting nickeled-and-dimed. Too much of a slippery slope.
Monday, May 21, 2012
The perfect price for an initial offering is very, very near the end-of-day equilibrium price. Anything less is leaving money on the table. That's what the brokerage house managing the offering, and their favorite customers, want, but there is no reason for the company going public to do them any special favors. The price needs to go up, just a little, to ensure that the offering is fully subscribed. But that's all.
Then today the stock was down 12%, on a day the overall market was up. My interpretation--the lack of an obvious bubble was enough to torpedo the stock. It reminds me of the sadly funny Onion headline from a few years back: "Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In".
Friday, May 11, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Sunday, May 06, 2012
I'm sure nobody who uses it knows the origin. That would have included me, until I looked it up:
Jockeys need to keep a tight rein in order to encourage their horse to run. Anyone who is so far ahead that he can afford to slacken off and still win he can drop his hands and loosen the reins - hence winning 'hands down'. This is recorded from the mid 19th century; for example, 'Pips' Lyrics & Lays, 1867:
"There were good horses in those days, as he can well recall, But Barker upon Elepoo, hands down, shot by them all."
It began to be used in a figurative sense, to denote an easy win in other contexts, from the early 20th century.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Many people see politics as I see sports. There are two teams, and my team is going to beat yours, and nothing else matters. Winning is everything. And that's a bad mistake. Because as we noted yesterday, while sports is a simulation of war -- it's harmless to project tribalism on the symbols of basketball or baseball -- it's not harmless to do that with politics. We're not manipuating symbols there. There are real armies and economies at stake. Nuclear weapons. The viability of the planet. The future of our species. If we see this as war, then it is war. How much do you know about war, and do you really want to usher it in so quickly, without thinking.
Like so many, I did almost all of my NPR-listening in the car. Morning + afternoon commutes, that added up to an hour each weekday. But now I telecommute. Time-in-car is drastically reduced--some days to zero. But streaming allows me to listen even more than before. Basically, when performing any mundane chore--kitchen cleanup, laundry, yardwork--I walk around with my wireless headset and consume the news. Not only do I listen more, I listen better--I get to skip the long hour of Minnesota news, and all the music stories.
I am actually trying to find a way to donate directly to NPR, and bypass my local station, which I have little use for. (Now if only they would clean up the buggy-as-heck Android app.)