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Shared Circles including Trey Harris

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The Google+ Collections of Trey Harris

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 44

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2016-01-28 20:25:29 (44 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

Trump and the Dem's 'electability' question

There was an interesting article on Vox by Yascha Mounk (http://www.vox.com/polyarchy/2016/1/25/10822162/vote-primary-psychological-bias) that observed how cognitive dissonance is playing a role in a lot of Democrats' arguments over Bernie vs. Hillary. The cognitive dissonance comes by way of the oft-unnoticed fact that which candidate's views are the best for the country and which candidate is most likely to win the election are entirely separate questions. But folks who have made up their mind on which candidate they support based on the answer to one of those questions can feel cognitive dissonance when considering the other question's resolution in favor of the other candidate. So they convince themselves that the questions are the same ("if you can't win, your views don't matter anyway") or that the... more »

Most reshares: 13

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2015-08-27 14:59:25 (5 comments; 13 reshares; 23 +1s)Open 

To all my anti-politics, quasi-libertarian friends who want "the stupid politicians" to "stop fighting and start fixing" and who think "centrism" and "moderation" are highly correlated with "rationality": please read this.

Most plusones: 27

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2015-04-30 02:28:09 (14 comments; 1 reshares; 27 +1s)Open 

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".

Latest 50 posts

2016-02-06 19:19:35 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

Is the profile info from "Google+ classic" just gone in the new profiles, or am I just not smart enough to find it in the UX? For instance, I can't tell anymore if someone follows me (back) or not without switching back to the old UX, where it's the left (or two-way) arrow icon.

Is the profile info from "Google+ classic" just gone in the new profiles, or am I just not smart enough to find it in the UX? For instance, I can't tell anymore if someone follows me (back) or not without switching back to the old UX, where it's the left (or two-way) arrow icon.___

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2016-02-05 18:04:12 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

Sorry, Kurtz: Rachel Maddow was a great debate moderator.

Howard Kurtz was a decent news media analyst when I was a kid, back in his early days on CNN's Reliable Sources with Bernard Kalb, which he later took over as host. But he's been steadily losing his grip ever since Obama's election, culminating with his move to Fox News. (He reminds me of Juan Williams in this respect.)

He suggests that including Maddow was unprecedented: "Imagine the reaction on the left if the Fox News moderators at a debate were Bret Baier and Sean Hannity, an unabashed conservative." No, Hannity hasn't hosted a debate (yet), but CNN had radio host Hugh Hewitt, who I think is roughly along the lines of Maddow—definitely conservative, but intelligent, thoughtful, and willing to go after the weaknesses in his party's candidates when he has them on hisp... more »

Sorry, Kurtz: Rachel Maddow was a great debate moderator.

Howard Kurtz was a decent news media analyst when I was a kid, back in his early days on CNN's Reliable Sources with Bernard Kalb, which he later took over as host. But he's been steadily losing his grip ever since Obama's election, culminating with his move to Fox News. (He reminds me of Juan Williams in this respect.)

He suggests that including Maddow was unprecedented: "Imagine the reaction on the left if the Fox News moderators at a debate were Bret Baier and Sean Hannity, an unabashed conservative." No, Hannity hasn't hosted a debate (yet), but CNN had radio host Hugh Hewitt, who I think is roughly along the lines of Maddow—definitely conservative, but intelligent, thoughtful, and willing to go after the weaknesses in his party's candidates when he has them on his program.

And I think he's familiar with—and has even been in discussions on Fox News about—the argument that primary debates should have participation by partisan moderators, because primaries are, first and foremost, party events. The questions of partisans need to be addressed at least as well as those of the theoretically nonpartisan news media.

But whatever the strength of Kurtz's attack, it falls flat in light of the results. Last night's debate was one of the best I can recall seeing ever. Part of this reaction is no doubt because a one-on-one debate is always better and this is the first we've seen in four years, but I don't think my feeling is just due to recency bias.

The argument was substantive, with the few questions about purely campaign-related issues quickly dismissed by the candidates (or, in some of Sanders's responses at least, pivoted into a related substantive issue). For instance, after a question to Sanders on whether the title of one of his campaign commercials was misleading, Maddow asked, "Secretary Clinton, do you want 30 seconds on that issue?" Clinton's answer: "No."

Generally, the moderators, Maddow and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, seemed happy to quickly move on from the kind of petty horserace trivia the news media tends to dwell on. There wasn't a single question of the form, "Candidate B, do you want to take umbrage at something Candidate A said about you unrelated to the issues?" which has gotten to be basically a staple of primary debates. (Clinton's supporters may take issue with this as they seem to think that the moderate/progressive question is not substantive. But the audience reaction to Clinton's "artful smear" comment—spontaneously booing her as Sanders, apparently involuntarily, groaned—suggests that enough voters feel it is substantive to make it fair game.)

I haven't seen this confirmed, but there was a factoid going around Twitter last night that last night's moderators said fewer words than any debate this round. (The fewer number of candidates affects this, but not by much, as the question response and rebuttal times were the same as prior debates.) They didn't spend much time on housekeeping, showmanship, or trying to wrangle the candidates. Some of that was due to the discipline both candidates showed in not continuing to talk and talk and talk despite the lack of a buzzer or timer lights, but mostly it was just the moderators standing back and letting the candidates take over the space.

Afterwards Todd and Maddow discussed their strategy, and Todd said after the first commercial break he joked to Maddow that he could just say the word "lamp" and let them go at it, they were so eager to get into the scrum. "Like improv, just pick a noun and say 'go'," Maddow said.

I think it was clearly a lot harder than that and reflected a great deal of planning. Both moderators asked questions that didn't seem unfair but didn't seem like softballs either. The final block's questions, getting into what could have been the most petty part of the night—about campaign issues—had questions phrased masterfully such that the argument naturally progressed to the bigger issues these campaign squabbles might illuminate rather than being an invitation to squabble some more.

Had the "objective" journalism establishment (and people who think they represent them like Howard Kurtz) not been aware of Maddow's political bent, the only moment of the night that I can see those wags clutching their pearls over was when Maddow, in asking Clinton a question about what departments of the federal government she'd consider dismantling, suggested "the EPA, the Department of Education, the Commerce Department—oops...", making a joke over the most famous response to a similar question in a 2012 Republican primary debate. She made fun of a candidate, [albeit, not one in the current race] Katy, bar the door!

It was a great debate. It may not have changed many minds (it didn't change mine, and I remain—annoyingly, to someone generally of strong opinions!—uncommitted here), but it gave us a lot of clarity about how both candidates approach the issues and the questions of politics in general. The moderators, both of them, deserve nothing but praise.___

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2016-02-02 18:52:35 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

"When I get back home, remind me to..."

Anyone know an Android tool that can do this sort of reminder? I frequently am heading out the door, see something that needs to be done but don't have time, and want to jog my memory when I return. But if I try to set up a location-based reminder for home, it reminds me within a few minutes, or at least as soon as I start walking away from my apartment.

If this is not true for you—and Google Now is smart enough to know a "remind me at the place I'm currently at" means once you go away and then return, this is probably an artifact of my living on a very high floor in NYC; GPS thinks I'm a block or so north-ish from where I am, generally showing me precessing a small curve from a few degrees westerly of true north to a few degrees easterly of true north then suddenly snapping back to the wests... more »

"When I get back home, remind me to..."

Anyone know an Android tool that can do this sort of reminder? I frequently am heading out the door, see something that needs to be done but don't have time, and want to jog my memory when I return. But if I try to set up a location-based reminder for home, it reminds me within a few minutes, or at least as soon as I start walking away from my apartment.

If this is not true for you—and Google Now is smart enough to know a "remind me at the place I'm currently at" means once you go away and then return, this is probably an artifact of my living on a very high floor in NYC; GPS thinks I'm a block or so north-ish from where I am, generally showing me precessing a small curve from a few degrees westerly of true north to a few degrees easterly of true north then suddenly snapping back to the west side. This seems to me like it's not taking into account my vertical distance from the satellites which are south of me and orbiting in and out of view (and I presume either I don't have a good enough signal to enough satellites inside to do the altitude triangulation too, or the GPS chip in my phone doesn't do it).

I have "Home" set to my actual address, rather than to the spot GPS pinpoints me, for what I think are obvious reasons. It may have a narrower geofencing for "the place you're currently at" versus when the notification fires, so for the more common car-driving, near-the-ground person, the notification fires as you're arriving. For me, though, sometimes the precession-and-snapping makes the phone think I've arrived home, and sometimes when I get in the elevator and go down to ground level it decides I've arrived.

So as long as the phone can't understand that the blue pointer, despite being a few dozen yards from "Home", is actually home, I guess I need a "after a minimum distance traveled [or time has elapsed?], once I am home remind me" trigger. Sigh, real life is too complex....
___

2016-01-30 20:14:13 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

Is it possible to tame Facebook notifications?

I (obviously?) don't use Facebook much, and I wasn't using it at all for many years. But then I found out I missed an important message from someone who assumed I did Facebook, so I figured I'd just install it and get just the minimal level of notifications.

But I'm getting inundated with ' Friend updated their status' notifications. I don't see anything either in the Android app or the Facebook website that refers to that. A help thread on Facebook suggests some things that refer to settings that don't exist anymore; the most recent reply (from a Facebooker!) says if you dont want to get status updates from people, unfriend them!

Are these really the only choices? Put up with a dozen or more notifications a day when people post a status update, defriend people (at which... more »

Is it possible to tame Facebook notifications?

I (obviously?) don't use Facebook much, and I wasn't using it at all for many years. But then I found out I missed an important message from someone who assumed I did Facebook, so I figured I'd just install it and get just the minimal level of notifications.

But I'm getting inundated with ' Friend updated their status' notifications. I don't see anything either in the Android app or the Facebook website that refers to that. A help thread on Facebook suggests some things that refer to settings that don't exist anymore; the most recent reply (from a Facebooker!) says if you dont want to get status updates from people, unfriend them!

Are these really the only choices? Put up with a dozen or more notifications a day when people post a status update, defriend people (at which point, why am I bothering—it's not like it's one or two people taking over my feed, it's different people every notification), or turn off all notifications/uninstall the Android Facebook app and go back to being in the dark?___

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2016-01-29 16:40:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Someone needs to make a version of this set to Dead or Alive's 1985 dance-pop anthem "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", preferably after the video where Donald complains about nobody ever turning the camera around.

Someone needs to make a version of this set to Dead or Alive's 1985 dance-pop anthem "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", preferably after the video where Donald complains about nobody ever turning the camera around.___

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2016-01-28 20:25:29 (44 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

Trump and the Dem's 'electability' question

There was an interesting article on Vox by Yascha Mounk (http://www.vox.com/polyarchy/2016/1/25/10822162/vote-primary-psychological-bias) that observed how cognitive dissonance is playing a role in a lot of Democrats' arguments over Bernie vs. Hillary. The cognitive dissonance comes by way of the oft-unnoticed fact that which candidate's views are the best for the country and which candidate is most likely to win the election are entirely separate questions. But folks who have made up their mind on which candidate they support based on the answer to one of those questions can feel cognitive dissonance when considering the other question's resolution in favor of the other candidate. So they convince themselves that the questions are the same ("if you can't win, your views don't matter anyway") or that the... more »

Trump and the Dem's 'electability' question

There was an interesting article on Vox by Yascha Mounk (http://www.vox.com/polyarchy/2016/1/25/10822162/vote-primary-psychological-bias) that observed how cognitive dissonance is playing a role in a lot of Democrats' arguments over Bernie vs. Hillary. The cognitive dissonance comes by way of the oft-unnoticed fact that which candidate's views are the best for the country and which candidate is most likely to win the election are entirely separate questions. But folks who have made up their mind on which candidate they support based on the answer to one of those questions can feel cognitive dissonance when considering the other question's resolution in favor of the other candidate. So they convince themselves that the questions are the same ("if you can't win, your views don't matter anyway") or that the other question must favor their preferred candidate as well.

I personally haven't made up my mind on who my candidate in the Democratic primary is, and it's at least partly because of my recognition of the dissonance between the "best positions" and "most electable" questions. Neither Clinton nor Sanders is a perfect match for my political views. But the "electability" question, I think, is easier to answer. Except for when it's much, much harder to answer—despite popular opinion about Clinton's electability (or Sanders un-electability).

Here's what I mean: early last summer, when both Democratic candidates were officially in the race but Trump's possible entrance was still widely assumed to be an unlikely lark, I would have said that compared to Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton has the edge on electability, against the entire Republican field, by a mile. Her approval ratings (at that time, still very high among both Democrats and independents), her experience (arguably the most comprehensive of any presidential candidate ever), her name recognition (near 100%), her near-win in 2008 and her proven ability to weather attack—these all made her obviously and unquestionably electable. I might have argued that Sanders was more electable than most analysts said at the time, but that wasn't saying much given how low they said his electability was.

Today, I'd give Sanders much higher chances of election than I would have last summer against "the entire Republican field". I'd still give Clinton the edge against "the entire Republican field".

But whichever Democrat is ultimately nominated won't be running against the entire Republican field. They'll be running against the Republican nominee, whoever that turns out to be. And there's a very big monkey-wrench with orange hair who has totally changed the electability analysis.

The way I'd like to frame the electability question is this: what are the Democratic nominee's chances running against Trump, and what are the nominee's chances running against any other GOP nominee. (Which not-Trump the nominee is does matter in the Democrats' relative election chances, of course, but it's irrelevant to my argument here.) Secretary Clinton maintains the same advantages I mentioned earlier over Senator Sanders when the GOP nominee is not-Trump. (At least, apart from the approval ratings.) But against Trump, which Democrat has the best chance is a much murkier picture.

Another Vox article (http://www.vox.com/2016/1/26/10833028/donald-trump-hillary-clinton) by Ezra Klein gets at exactly why. Quoting Klein quoting Mark Schmitt, "It's not what [the candidates] say about the issues, it's what the issues say about [the candidates]." If the GOP chooses Trump, they'll be doing so not because of his policy stances, but because those stances tell voters he's the kind of guy they want. You hear this from many people in line for Trump rallies: they don't really believe Trump can ban Muslims from entering the U.S., but the fact he's willing to suggest it shows he's speaking to their inchoate and inarticulable feelings about the state of the world and America's place in it. You could say they can't take Trump at his word, but that's not a sign of distrust: to the contrary, it shows they trust him implicitly.

Bernie inspires much the same sort of confidence from his supporters. (This is the reason why Clinton surrogates so like to point out times that Sanders has veered off-course from the liberal orthodoxy in areas like gun control and marriage equality, and why Bernie's supporters don't seem to care as much as you might think they would.) In any "normal" (that is, Trump-less) election, Sanders would be getting slammed by the press and the Clinton campaign with demands he flesh out his policy positions, which in many cases are only sketches compared with Clinton's detailed proposals. But Sanders' position statements are practically white papers compared with Trump's "policy positions". So he gets a pass, at least so far.

If Trump were to win the nomination, it might show the electorate is in a place where they're anti-establishment, don't care about the particulars of policy, and most want a president who sees things like they do. And if that were true, Sanders can hit a similar chord from the other side. Call it "I feel like this country doesn't belong to people like me anymore, and Trump just gets it" versus "I feel like this country is rigged against people like me, and Bernie just gets it". If that were the country's mood, Bernie could defeat Trump. And if that were the country's mood, Trump could beat Hillary.

Yet it seems just as plausible that the feelings that got Trump the nomination wouldn't reflect those of the wider electorate. Then Hillary's vast experience, technocratic leanings, and cultural inclusiveness would be the alternative to Trump's know-nothing governing by sheer force of will. In that scenario, Bernie's nomination still wouldn't be bad — his policy positions at least exist — but Hillary would have the advantage.

As if that weren't enough, there's one more variable to consider: if Michael Bloomberg is serious that he will get in the race if the nominees were Trump and Sanders, the polling on a three-man race pretty convincingly suggests that the election would go to Trump.

So you could say this about the Democratic primary field's electability: Hillary has the worst chances against Trump but she's the only Democrat who can beat him, while Bernie has the best chances against Trump but he's the only Democrat who can't.
___

2016-01-27 16:56:38 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

A recruiter (who apparently Googled me before cold-emailing) just offered me some unsolicited advice: my c.v. should say "whose work has appeared in The New York Times" right up in the headlines.

I'm a systems/infrastructure/software guy. I'm not a writer by trade: This is called "extracurricular" and is usually not judged as a good thing by employers. I write because I enjoy it, and because people seem to like reading some of what I write (at least, when I can be bothered to edit down to anything nearing a manageable length).

I write damn good post-mortems, and that tends to be something people in the field know about me (if only because my first and biggest writing success—in the technical areas anyway—was a sort of case study/post-mortem technically defanged to appeal to a wider audience). I think it may be because the desire to scratch the narrativewri... more »

A recruiter (who apparently Googled me before cold-emailing) just offered me some unsolicited advice: my c.v. should say "whose work has appeared in The New York Times" right up in the headlines.

I'm a systems/infrastructure/software guy. I'm not a writer by trade: This is called "extracurricular" and is usually not judged as a good thing by employers. I write because I enjoy it, and because people seem to like reading some of what I write (at least, when I can be bothered to edit down to anything nearing a manageable length).

I write damn good post-mortems, and that tends to be something people in the field know about me (if only because my first and biggest writing success—in the technical areas anyway—was a sort of case study/post-mortem technically defanged to appeal to a wider audience). I think it may be because the desire to scratch the narrative writing itch makes me put the research and communication of the story—which should be the point of a post-mortem—ahead of the ego-sparing and blame-shifting that a lot of bad post-mortems fall into. But technical writing is relevant to my work. Political writing sure the hell ain't.

(Not to mention that the idea of a letter to the editor being recast as "appeared in...", while I suppose is technically true, makes me cringe.)___

2016-01-25 18:31:33 (4 comments; 3 reshares; 19 +1s)Open 

Meteorologists can be pretty justifiably annoyed that politicians and some pundits are complaining they didn't accurately predict the storm when, from the POV of meteorologists, this was a forecasting triumph unimaginable even five years ago.

The triumph: five days or more before the first flake fell, they correctly forecast when the snowfalls would start, when they would end, the winds, and the storm surges. The forecast was inaccurate in just two respects, really: the storm track and the snowfall totals.

First, the track: The predicted track was so close to right that calling it "inaccurate" is almost unfair. The only reason we even noticed it at all is that New York City and Washington, DC roughly bracketed the forecast area of heaviest snows, so a small slip in either direction could affect a much larger population than such slips usually do. So the actual northward... more »

Meteorologists can be pretty justifiably annoyed that politicians and some pundits are complaining they didn't accurately predict the storm when, from the POV of meteorologists, this was a forecasting triumph unimaginable even five years ago.

The triumph: five days or more before the first flake fell, they correctly forecast when the snowfalls would start, when they would end, the winds, and the storm surges. The forecast was inaccurate in just two respects, really: the storm track and the snowfall totals.

First, the track: The predicted track was so close to right that calling it "inaccurate" is almost unfair. The only reason we even noticed it at all is that New York City and Washington, DC roughly bracketed the forecast area of heaviest snows, so a small slip in either direction could affect a much larger population than such slips usually do. So the actual northward slip, causing NYC snowfall to be two feet higher than predicted, seems like a really big error. It isn't.

Despite this storm's immense size, its gradient (the distance between isolines from places with heavy snow to nothing) was incredibly tight—you could drive less than half an hour to get from a place with 30 inches to a place that got not a single flake. (Well, you could if the streets were clear, anyway.) Given those conditions, the prediction that it would bulls-eye DC, when it actually bulls-eyed somewhere just north of Baltimore, isn't a failure. It's literally a triumph.

As for the snowfall totals: Anyone who predicts an all-time-record-breaking-event isn't doing forecasting. Any meteorologist who predicted all-time records would be broken before snow actually began falling would be engaging in quackery—even if they ended up being right—because that's not how "forecasts" work. (This is one of the most noticeable respects in which television meteorologists and television "weather presenters" differ, by the way—good TV meteorologists see themselves as applied scientists who happen to be working in show business. Predicting 28 inches in NYC couldn't be justified by science until mid-morning Saturday.)

Note that one of the snowfall-total models—models are not forecasts!—did pretty accurately predict the totals from DC to New York. It was the outlier, by quite a bit, and so responsible meteorologists threw it out. That was the correct... I hesitate to even call it a "decision", because throwing out outlier models isn't even a decision, it's just how forecasting works, whether you're predicting the weather or a political race.

Meteorologists, train conductors, sysadmins: they only get feedback when something goes wrong. Even when it goes wrong in exactly the way it's supposed to.___

2016-01-23 19:57:27 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

USB Bluetooth dongle w/USB keyboard/mouse HID emulation?

Update, Sat 23 Jan 20:16 UTC: Turns out this is called "HID Proxy Mode", though knowing that hasn't been helpful in finding such a dongle at a reasonable price. See my comment below.

The problem: devices supporting USB keyboards for console use but not Bluetooth (e.g., Raspberry Pi, BIOS of a host PC running multiple VM guests); I have several Bluetooth keyboards, touchpads, mice, etc. and like them

As I mentioned in an earlier post, deskspace is at a premium and so I was hoping to find a KVM solution of some sort, but it just doesn't seem the current state of Thunderbolt/HDMI/DisplayPort video+USB channel support on non-Apple devices is sufficient to just use my monitor as a KVM. (I can use Synergy or remote access for most things, so we're only talking about use as a console or if... more »

USB Bluetooth dongle w/USB keyboard/mouse HID emulation?

Update, Sat 23 Jan 20:16 UTC: Turns out this is called "HID Proxy Mode", though knowing that hasn't been helpful in finding such a dongle at a reasonable price. See my comment below.

The problem: devices supporting USB keyboards for console use but not Bluetooth (e.g., Raspberry Pi, BIOS of a host PC running multiple VM guests); I have several Bluetooth keyboards, touchpads, mice, etc. and like them

As I mentioned in an earlier post, deskspace is at a premium and so I was hoping to find a KVM solution of some sort, but it just doesn't seem the current state of Thunderbolt/HDMI/DisplayPort video+USB channel support on non-Apple devices is sufficient to just use my monitor as a KVM. (I can use Synergy or remote access for most things, so we're only talking about use as a console or if the LAN is down.)

So... when I switch monitor inputs, it seems I'm going to have to switch keyboards (or at least keyboard inputs), too. I could buy a new keyboard, wired or wireless, but again, desk space and messing with moving the cable or dongle from host to host.

But I remember once seeing a Bluetooth → USB dongle that could act as the Bluetooth host itself, pair with keyboard and mouse, and present as a standard USB mouse+keyboard HID to the host the USB dongle was hooked to. That would be perfect for my needs—I actually have a few Bluetooth keyboards and trackpads laying around, and they could hide away in a bin under the desk for the rare times I'd need to use them, so I could just get a dongle for each upstream host and pair a different.

I really swear I saw such a thing a few years back, but I can't figure out how to search it up, assuming it does actually exist....

(If anyone's seen a USB hub with multiple USB-A inputs and a way to switch between them, KVM-style, that would be a fantastic answer too, but outside of expensive AV studio or industrial gear, I haven't found such a thing.)

___

2016-01-16 17:16:44 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Dumb first-time PC builder question: if I get a mobo with Thunderbolt 3 ports, can I drive my display via Thunderbolt? Not with the internal graphics, mind you, but with the graphics card?

Unless I just don't know how to read PC peripheral specs (which is entirely possible), it doesn't seem like any GPU cards have Thunderbolt ports, and my whole multi-PC/laptop system currently is based around the fact that Thunderbolt can switch my monitor's video source and the host for all the USB and Thunderbolt peripherals attached to the monitor (keyboard, mouse, webcam, card reader, etc.) at once.

If I can't use Thunderbolt, then to switch from using my Macs to my new PC I'll have to change inputs to HDMI or DisplayPort and move the USB A-B plug around. Which doesn't sound like a huge deal—I'll probably just use remote graphics from a Mac when I'm doing anythingg... more »

Dumb first-time PC builder question: if I get a mobo with Thunderbolt 3 ports, can I drive my display via Thunderbolt? Not with the internal graphics, mind you, but with the graphics card?

Unless I just don't know how to read PC peripheral specs (which is entirely possible), it doesn't seem like any GPU cards have Thunderbolt ports, and my whole multi-PC/laptop system currently is based around the fact that Thunderbolt can switch my monitor's video source and the host for all the USB and Thunderbolt peripherals attached to the monitor (keyboard, mouse, webcam, card reader, etc.) at once.

If I can't use Thunderbolt, then to switch from using my Macs to my new PC I'll have to change inputs to HDMI or DisplayPort and move the USB A-B plug around. Which doesn't sound like a huge deal—I'll probably just use remote graphics from a Mac when I'm doing anything graphics-intensive anyway—but since I am getting this to do some VR development, the switching back-and-forth cost will get to be a real annoyance after awhile—I already dread messing with other Thunderbolt-less equipment like the Raspberry Pi.

(In case you're wondering, I live in a tiny Manhattan apartment, so small I had to custom-order a workstation desk small enough for the space but big enough for my Thunderbolt monitor, so the multi-head/multi-keyboard setup that most multiplatform folks seem to go with is a total nonstarter here.)___

2016-01-15 19:15:55 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

Anyone have an informed guess (or inside info) on the likely requirements for the HTC Vive? I know we'll have to have an answer in the next 6 weeks for pre-orders, but I need to build a development PC sooner than that and I don't want to get caught by surprise by some spec. Most things just going sufficiently high-end is going to be sufficient, but port requirements, specifically, I haven't seen.

(The VR work I did at the UNC Graphics Lab in the mid-90's was on a rig whose architecture was very like the Vive, so I think I'll be happiest fiddling around with that one as compared to Oculus or the other rigs coming out.)

Anyone have an informed guess (or inside info) on the likely requirements for the HTC Vive? I know we'll have to have an answer in the next 6 weeks for pre-orders, but I need to build a development PC sooner than that and I don't want to get caught by surprise by some spec. Most things just going sufficiently high-end is going to be sufficient, but port requirements, specifically, I haven't seen.

(The VR work I did at the UNC Graphics Lab in the mid-90's was on a rig whose architecture was very like the Vive, so I think I'll be happiest fiddling around with that one as compared to Oculus or the other rigs coming out.)___

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2016-01-12 19:18:48 (20 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

How did a photo from a spam land in my Google Photos?

This is creepy and frankly a little alarming.

I was just taking a couple snaps of some computer equipment with my Nexus 6 camera and when I switched from the Camera app to Photos, I found the newest photo wasn't the one I had just taken, but this one, of a woman I've never seen before. (My two photos were the two previous in the camera roll.)

Doing a search, it appears this photo is used by some entity selling Internet porn—there's a spammy Twitter account with links to sex sites.

Most significantly, this photo appears as one of three attached to an "I'm a lonely girl and want to talk" spam email I received about four hours before it showed up in Photos. But how the heck did it get from an attachment to an email in my Gmail spam to my Android Photos?

I'm seriouslyd... more »

How did a photo from a spam land in my Google Photos?

This is creepy and frankly a little alarming.

I was just taking a couple snaps of some computer equipment with my Nexus 6 camera and when I switched from the Camera app to Photos, I found the newest photo wasn't the one I had just taken, but this one, of a woman I've never seen before. (My two photos were the two previous in the camera roll.)

Doing a search, it appears this photo is used by some entity selling Internet porn—there's a spammy Twitter account with links to sex sites.

Most significantly, this photo appears as one of three attached to an "I'm a lonely girl and want to talk" spam email I received about four hours before it showed up in Photos. But how the heck did it get from an attachment to an email in my Gmail spam to my Android Photos?

I'm seriously disturbed by this—whether it's someone else's photo library bleeding into my own or some exploit to get an email's attachment into the recipient's Google account sync data, it isn't good.

(And now I'm wondering whether posting this photo is liable to get me misidentified by some algorithm as a spammer.)

*Update, Wed 13 Jan 17:23 UTC:* I wanted to add something that makes this seem at least potentially a lot less alarming, found by Googler +Rosa Golijan: at some point I set up an IFTTT (http://ifttt.com) trigger that automatically saved Gmail attachments to a Google Drive folder. I don't remember doing this, and I'm not an IFTTT user now, but I did setup an account and played with it a bit and I guess I added this recipe and forgot to turn it off. (I obviously had hundreds and hundreds of files of attachments in that folder!)

This photo was there as well. So, that shows, at least, that something I set up did copy this exact photo at some point from my Gmail to my Drive. Rosa suggested that this could be the issue: the IFTTT recipe uploaded the image, and some Google delight-increasing process "surfaced" the photo into my Google Photos. The fact that it happened right as I opened the Android Photos app after taking a couple photos that were the first I'd taken since receiving the spam, that it was the frontmost photo ahead of my two camera photos, and that this "surfacing" had never happened to me before appeared to just be a sequence of coincidences that seemed "quite creepy and frankly a little alarming", but that can occasionally be true of lots of properly-working algorithmic syntheses.

Yet... I don't think this explanation solves the mystery, at least not totally. Take a look at screenshots in the album https://goo.gl/photos/RfwNCW4MrZvxvQKB6, which comprise screenshots of my Google Drive web interface, all showing thumbnails of the image in question.

But: the first screenshot shows the image in the IFTTT destination folder, undeniably created by that recipe. The second screenshot is in my Google Photos/2016 folder. They appear to be two different files as far as Drive is concerned. They have two different names. They have two different timestamps (9:29 am for the IFTTT one, which corresponds to the time the spam arrived; 13:51 for the Photos one, which corresponds to the moment I opened Android Photos, and two minutes newer than the two images I snapped at 13:49 and intended to look at in Photos). (The photo names say ".*_1347..[.]jpg", but I just verified that the filenames created by the Camera app lag the system time by a minute or so for some reason. Perhaps they're timestamped at the point the viewfinder is initialized rather than when the picture is snapped, or the HDR+ filter time is taken into account somehow.)

In the latter screenshots, I try changing their Drive metadata. I change one to add a description (including the output of an ls -l I got from the Drive sync app), go back to the other and reload—no description. I change the description on that one, go back to the first and reload—they each maintain their separate descriptions. These are definitely two separate files. Not having seen this "surfacing" in action, I don't know if it makes entirely new copies, but I see enough tips-and-tricks stuff online about avoiding Drive photos from duplicating disk space already that I think someone would have noticed and complained.

I've raised this with Rosa and will follow up here since it appears there's general interest.___

2015-11-23 16:16:07 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

Folks using Slack, have you tried the new Team Groups feature? The question I'm interested in and can't find answered in the docs (and for obvious reasons don't want to just test) is, does notification happen like "@here", or like "@group"? Meaning, do folks get notified whether or not they're active? (Ideally, this would be a configurable setting, but there's no configuration I see.)

Folks using Slack, have you tried the new Team Groups feature? The question I'm interested in and can't find answered in the docs (and for obvious reasons don't want to just test) is, does notification happen like "@here", or like "@group"? Meaning, do folks get notified whether or not they're active? (Ideally, this would be a configurable setting, but there's no configuration I see.)___

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2015-11-18 19:13:01 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Every now and then, I try to actually contribute to Stack sites—which, in general, I find incredibly useful. And I try to do my part for crowdsourcing sites I benefit from—I was a quite active Wikipedian until the politics got to be too much (and I still edit typos and such and revert vandalism when I come upon the need to do so).

But Stack is actively hostile to newbie contributors. And I've been a newbie for years because of things like this—I'm told to use a comment instead, but I don't have enough points to comment, because of stuff like this!

(For context, the page linked to in the text was rewritten and now makes no references whatsoever to the issue at question, so is equivalently unhelpful and passive-aggressive to saying "RTFM" to someone when you're not sure the manual contains the answer prominently and skimmably/searchably.)

Every now and then, I try to actually contribute to Stack sites—which, in general, I find incredibly useful. And I try to do my part for crowdsourcing sites I benefit from—I was a quite active Wikipedian until the politics got to be too much (and I still edit typos and such and revert vandalism when I come upon the need to do so).

But Stack is actively hostile to newbie contributors. And I've been a newbie for years because of things like this—I'm told to use a comment instead, but I don't have enough points to comment, because of stuff like this!

(For context, the page linked to in the text was rewritten and now makes no references whatsoever to the issue at question, so is equivalently unhelpful and passive-aggressive to saying "RTFM" to someone when you're not sure the manual contains the answer prominently and skimmably/searchably.)___

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2015-11-14 19:26:52 (8 comments; 1 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

Nexus 6 compass fix?

I'm on a train, facing forward, which is a great time to show how far off my Nexus 6 compass is—more than 90°! This has been pretty consistent since I got it.

I've done the figure-eight thing and the flip about all axes thing, both to no effect. If you have another suggestion, I'd love to try it.


Nexus 6 compass fix?

I'm on a train, facing forward, which is a great time to show how far off my Nexus 6 compass is—more than 90°! This has been pretty consistent since I got it.

I've done the figure-eight thing and the flip about all axes thing, both to no effect. If you have another suggestion, I'd love to try it.
___

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2015-11-14 18:13:41 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

Last night after the closing of #lisa15, dinner at a crawfish boil seafood place. One of the other guys ordered a lobster for himself. And like most people tend to, he ate the tail and claws and was done. Score!

Learning how to eat the small legs, spinnerets, body and head would be worth it just for how often you get half a lobster for free. But, if you happen to like tomalley and roe, like I do, so much the better... 😀

Last night after the closing of #lisa15, dinner at a crawfish boil seafood place. One of the other guys ordered a lobster for himself. And like most people tend to, he ate the tail and claws and was done. Score!

Learning how to eat the small legs, spinnerets, body and head would be worth it just for how often you get half a lobster for free. But, if you happen to like tomalley and roe, like I do, so much the better... 😀___

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2015-11-04 22:02:13 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

My team at Google has been very big proponents and innovators of USB Type-C. I've worked on two Pixel products now that use the connector and its related technologies (Power Delivery, Alternate Mode, USB 3.1). It really is an amazing little connector.

However, now that there are more and more Type C products rolling out from Nexus, One+, Nokia, and more, this I have found painfully true : USB Type-C will only be as good as its ecosystem, and more specifically, the worst of its ecosystem.

I have started reviewing USB cables on Amazon because I have gotten fed up with the early cables from 3rd party vendors that so blatantly flaunt the specification and I want to hold them to task.

You may not just get weird behavior from your devices with these bad cables... What some these vendors are doing is downright dangerous.

I've been contemplating setting up a blog... more »

My team at Google has been very big proponents and innovators of USB Type-C. I've worked on two Pixel products now that use the connector and its related technologies (Power Delivery, Alternate Mode, USB 3.1). It really is an amazing little connector.

However, now that there are more and more Type C products rolling out from Nexus, One+, Nokia, and more, this I have found painfully true : USB Type-C will only be as good as its ecosystem, and more specifically, the worst of its ecosystem.

I have started reviewing USB cables on Amazon because I have gotten fed up with the early cables from 3rd party vendors that so blatantly flaunt the specification and I want to hold them to task.

You may not just get weird behavior from your devices with these bad cables... What some these vendors are doing is downright dangerous.

I've been contemplating setting up a blog where I document bad cables and perhaps give some insights into USB Type C as well.

#USB   #TypeC ,
#Nexus   #ChromebookPixel   #PixelC  

 Edit : Want to help check your questionable cables, and have a Pixel 2015?
https://plus.google.com/+BensonLeung/posts/jGP5249NppF___

2015-11-04 19:12:53 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

*Emacs daemon: write messages to a log file?*

I use Emacs in daemon mode (added as a startup item, so its load time is all completed before I need to use it). When it works, it works great.

But I'd say about half the time after I reboot my machine, Emacs has a nonfatal startup issue. Most frequently, it's waiting on an interactive response (often some migration message from a newly-updated package), so the only fix (until somebody can come up with a universal way to catch interactive queries when the daemon is running without any clients) is to kill the daemon, start Emacs in the foreground so I can answer whatever prompt it's stuck on, kill Emacs and try again.

The really frustrating part of this, though, is that emacs --daemon writes messages to the Messages buffer and to stderr, neither of which I can see when it runs this way. So I can't get any... more »

*Emacs daemon: write messages to a log file?*

I use Emacs in daemon mode (added as a startup item, so its load time is all completed before I need to use it). When it works, it works great.

But I'd say about half the time after I reboot my machine, Emacs has a nonfatal startup issue. Most frequently, it's waiting on an interactive response (often some migration message from a newly-updated package), so the only fix (until somebody can come up with a universal way to catch interactive queries when the daemon is running without any clients) is to kill the daemon, start Emacs in the foreground so I can answer whatever prompt it's stuck on, kill Emacs and try again.

The really frustrating part of this, though, is that emacs --daemon writes messages to the Messages buffer and to stderr, neither of which I can see when it runs this way. So I can't get any diagnostics out of it without killing it and retrying interactive startup.

Anyone know if there an answer to either:

1. A way to force Emacs startup messages to go to a log file rather than stderr, or
2. A way to make OS X's lauchctl redirect stdout and stderr to a file?___

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2015-11-03 16:56:06 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

The LEGO Dimensions mix-and-match across canons is crazy fun (and I'm looking forward to even more such craziness after the Doctor Who pack releases this week), but it has some balance problems. For instance, Wonder Woman is well-nigh unbeatable after consuming a Scooby Snack. (If that sentence makes you grin uncontrollably, you need to go get LEGO Dimensions, like, now.)

The LEGO Dimensions mix-and-match across canons is crazy fun (and I'm looking forward to even more such craziness after the Doctor Who pack releases this week), but it has some balance problems. For instance, Wonder Woman is well-nigh unbeatable after consuming a Scooby Snack. (If that sentence makes you grin uncontrollably, you need to go get LEGO Dimensions, like, now.)___

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2015-10-31 21:27:58 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

Android shortcut to Hangouts?

I've created a home screen widget for my boyfriend's contact card, which I can use to quickly phone or email him. But I just can't figure out how to initiate a Hangout this way.

The only messaging button is next to his mobile number (in the blue box in the first photo here). Tapping that does open the Hangouts app, but for sending an SMS, which isn't what I want.

Tapping "see all" does show a Hangouts item (second photo). But tapping that item does nothing (except give visual and tactile feedback that I have, in fact, tapped the item).

The third photo shows that by editing I can see the Hangouts is an item in the contact card, correctly labeled. Fiddling with this hasn't changed it.

So: can I do something to make the contact card launch Hangouts (for a text chat, not SMS)? If not, is... more »

Android shortcut to Hangouts?

I've created a home screen widget for my boyfriend's contact card, which I can use to quickly phone or email him. But I just can't figure out how to initiate a Hangout this way.

The only messaging button is next to his mobile number (in the blue box in the first photo here). Tapping that does open the Hangouts app, but for sending an SMS, which isn't what I want.

Tapping "see all" does show a Hangouts item (second photo). But tapping that item does nothing (except give visual and tactile feedback that I have, in fact, tapped the item).

The third photo shows that by editing I can see the Hangouts is an item in the contact card, correctly labeled. Fiddling with this hasn't changed it.

So: can I do something to make the contact card launch Hangouts (for a text chat, not SMS)? If not, is there some other way to put a home screen shortcut to launch a Hangout for a particular person?___

2015-10-29 19:06:33 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Android Pay + Smart Lock + NYC taxis = Pain

Unlike the old Google Wallet app, when you use Android Pay you must unlock when tapping for paying, not when opening the app. This means you can't force an unlock whenever you want.

If you use a PIN unlock alone, the distinction makes no difference. But if you use Smart Lock, your phone can be unlocked by Bluetooth or NFC when you tap but Android Pay can still be locked, requiring entering your PIN.

At most point of sale machines, this is merely an annoyance: you tap, enter your PIN, and tap again. But in taxicabs in New York, the need-unlock message is interpreted as a card declined.

This is a mess. A way to force-PIN-unlock Android Pay is desperately needed.

Android Pay + Smart Lock + NYC taxis = Pain

Unlike the old Google Wallet app, when you use Android Pay you must unlock when tapping for paying, not when opening the app. This means you can't force an unlock whenever you want.

If you use a PIN unlock alone, the distinction makes no difference. But if you use Smart Lock, your phone can be unlocked by Bluetooth or NFC when you tap but Android Pay can still be locked, requiring entering your PIN.

At most point of sale machines, this is merely an annoyance: you tap, enter your PIN, and tap again. But in taxicabs in New York, the need-unlock message is interpreted as a card declined.

This is a mess. A way to force-PIN-unlock Android Pay is desperately needed.___

2015-10-28 17:25:44 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Magit diffs into collapsed org-mode nodes?

I have a lot of org-mode files, and it just plain hurts to visit them from magit diffs. I press RET for "magit-visit-item", but I get the collapsed org header containing the item rather than the actual line in question. There's an "org-reveal" that seems to be what I want, but I'll be darned if I can figure out how to make the two work together. Anyone have a suggestion?

Magit diffs into collapsed org-mode nodes?

I have a lot of org-mode files, and it just plain hurts to visit them from magit diffs. I press RET for "magit-visit-item", but I get the collapsed org header containing the item rather than the actual line in question. There's an "org-reveal" that seems to be what I want, but I'll be darned if I can figure out how to make the two work together. Anyone have a suggestion?___

2015-10-25 18:36:06 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

Poor-boy's streaming?

Travelling and trying to download recorded TV from home... is there a codec/player combo (ideally, one mencoder or HandBrakeCLI is capable of encoding) I can easily use that will let me begin watching the video while it's still being downloaded? The WiFi here is about capable of 80% the speed of a 22.0-quality (minimal HD) H.264 720p file, so if I could get something that VLC or Movist doesn't refuse to open until it's fully transferred, I could start watching a lot earlier.

I don't mind if initial encoding takes awhile, I can automate that on the home end.

Poor-boy's streaming?

Travelling and trying to download recorded TV from home... is there a codec/player combo (ideally, one mencoder or HandBrakeCLI is capable of encoding) I can easily use that will let me begin watching the video while it's still being downloaded? The WiFi here is about capable of 80% the speed of a 22.0-quality (minimal HD) H.264 720p file, so if I could get something that VLC or Movist doesn't refuse to open until it's fully transferred, I could start watching a lot earlier.

I don't mind if initial encoding takes awhile, I can automate that on the home end.___

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2015-10-14 20:03:27 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Android grabbing Bluetooth devices even after being told not to?

Clicking the little ⓧ button next to a connected Bluetooth device should disconnect the Android device from the Bluetooth device. And it does. But clicking the button, to my mind, should also say to Android "don't auto-reconnect to this device; I've manually told you to stop, I'll manually tell you when I want it again."

Unfortunately, that's not how it works. When at home and  surrounded by Bluetooth media devices, I'm frequently annoyed to say "OK, Google" and hearing a loud Google Now chime in the other room (or a squeaky chime coming from a Bluetooth headset charging nearby).

Until I got wise to this behavior, I frequently had the experience of joining a video conference from work and finding I couldn't hear anyone else, and later being told peoplehea... more »

Android grabbing Bluetooth devices even after being told not to?

Clicking the little ⓧ button next to a connected Bluetooth device should disconnect the Android device from the Bluetooth device. And it does. But clicking the button, to my mind, should also say to Android "don't auto-reconnect to this device; I've manually told you to stop, I'll manually tell you when I want it again."

Unfortunately, that's not how it works. When at home and  surrounded by Bluetooth media devices, I'm frequently annoyed to say "OK, Google" and hearing a loud Google Now chime in the other room (or a squeaky chime coming from a Bluetooth headset charging nearby).

Until I got wise to this behavior, I frequently had the experience of joining a video conference from work and finding I couldn't hear anyone else, and later being told people heard me "like from the bottom of a well". Eventually I discovered I had been auto-re-connected to the headset in the other room.

The only sure workaround I've found is to unpair the device and repair when I want to use it again. I hope there's a better way, anyone have enlightenment?___

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2015-10-05 16:26:09 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s)Open 

I've often described the work I do as "system administration from a distance"; I've said the reason I administer machines through code is scalability, repeatability, auditing, testing, etc. But the real reason is, if I can't touch the machine, it can't catch my techno-cooties.

In this xkcd, +Randall Munroe​​ is describing me.


I've often described the work I do as "system administration from a distance"; I've said the reason I administer machines through code is scalability, repeatability, auditing, testing, etc. But the real reason is, if I can't touch the machine, it can't catch my techno-cooties.

In this xkcd, +Randall Munroe​​ is describing me.
___

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2015-10-04 22:44:34 (9 comments; 4 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

This puzzle app isn't a "game" really, but a series (many hundreds at least) of puzzles using a very simple concept: rotate grooved tiles to make unbroken paths until all the tiles are part of a path. (Teglon, anyone?)

It's lovely in its simplicity. It isn't challenging, it isn't exciting. It's just... meditative.

I'm one of those people who need something to do—with my hands and the rote-task-oriented part of my brain—when I need to think about something complicated or pay attention in a long meeting, like doodling or playing with a desk toy; ∞ serves that purpose wonderfully.

I find myself returning to it when listening to a podcast, watching the news, trying to fall asleep. It quiets the mind and—unlike a doodle or modeling putty—has regular completion points when you finish a puzzle, giving a little reminder, something like ameditatio... more »

This puzzle app isn't a "game" really, but a series (many hundreds at least) of puzzles using a very simple concept: rotate grooved tiles to make unbroken paths until all the tiles are part of a path. (Teglon, anyone?)

It's lovely in its simplicity. It isn't challenging, it isn't exciting. It's just... meditative.

I'm one of those people who need something to do—with my hands and the rote-task-oriented part of my brain—when I need to think about something complicated or pay attention in a long meeting, like doodling or playing with a desk toy; ∞ serves that purpose wonderfully.

I find myself returning to it when listening to a podcast, watching the news, trying to fall asleep. It quiets the mind and—unlike a doodle or modeling putty—has regular completion points when you finish a puzzle, giving a little reminder, something like a meditation gong, to keep you in the moment.

It won't be up everyone's alley, but if you fidget and twirl your hair or click your pen sometimes, give this a try.___

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2015-10-04 20:13:21 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

Graphical icons for Chrome bookmark widgets on Android?

On my old phone, when I made Chrome bookmarks and added them to the home screen, I got the favicon for the web page.

However, now I only get these colored block icons with a single letter. Anyone know any way to go back to the old behavior? These are not nearly as easily told apart.

(To be fair, I don't think I had added a new bookmark icon to my home screen in quite a long time; therefore, I don't know whether this was the result of an Android change, my phone hardware, Chrome version, or something else.)

I can't even figure out how to change the color. Some experimentation suggests it uses the predominant nonwhite color of the favicon as the background with a white letter foreground, though it seems to be a bit more sophisticated than that (e.g., a black-on-white favicon results in a... more »

Graphical icons for Chrome bookmark widgets on Android?

On my old phone, when I made Chrome bookmarks and added them to the home screen, I got the favicon for the web page.

However, now I only get these colored block icons with a single letter. Anyone know any way to go back to the old behavior? These are not nearly as easily told apart.

(To be fair, I don't think I had added a new bookmark icon to my home screen in quite a long time; therefore, I don't know whether this was the result of an Android change, my phone hardware, Chrome version, or something else.)

I can't even figure out how to change the color. Some experimentation suggests it uses the predominant nonwhite color of the favicon as the background with a white letter foreground, though it seems to be a bit more sophisticated than that (e.g., a black-on-white favicon results in a white on grey widget icon, while a white-on-black favicon gets white on black). This is clever, but there are a lot of cases where I'd like a way to quickly visually disambiguate between several bookmarks to the same site, and this method ensures they won't be at all visually distinct.

I assume the issue is that favicons are not high resolution, whereas most phones now need very high resolution icons, much more so than desktops. A sprinkling of pixelated icons would look out of place and be unattractive.

Given that even Google's own properties do not have custom bookmark icons for Android, I assume that there is not an easy technical fix. But maybe I'm mistaken, or there's a utility app I haven't found for this?

(Yeah, I could use a kitchen-sink app like Tasker to create a Chrome-launching icon, but that just seems like a heavyweight hack.)___

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2015-09-18 19:25:40 (3 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

Android Google Voice SMS integration on a new phone?

After the Hangouts migration last year, I finally had what I'd wanted for years: my Google Voice account as my default SMS. No more switching back and forth between messaging apps or having to resort to copy/pasting numbers from apps that wanted to send a text message.

But I just got a Nexus 6 after my Nexus 5 started misbehaving, and it seems like whatever magic the migration process did when GV and Hangouts first got upgraded isn't done with a new installation.

Whether I use Google Now ("Send a text message to John Smith") or Contacts (clicking the messaging icon to the right of a mobile number), it tries to SMS via my carrier number, not the Google Voice number

I double-checked the settings mentioned in Google's help document (https://goo.gl/A5FYma); see the screenshots attached... more »

Android Google Voice SMS integration on a new phone?

After the Hangouts migration last year, I finally had what I'd wanted for years: my Google Voice account as my default SMS. No more switching back and forth between messaging apps or having to resort to copy/pasting numbers from apps that wanted to send a text message.

But I just got a Nexus 6 after my Nexus 5 started misbehaving, and it seems like whatever magic the migration process did when GV and Hangouts first got upgraded isn't done with a new installation.

Whether I use Google Now ("Send a text message to John Smith") or Contacts (clicking the messaging icon to the right of a mobile number), it tries to SMS via my carrier number, not the Google Voice number

I double-checked the settings mentioned in Google's help document (https://goo.gl/A5FYma); see the screenshots attached to this post.

I even cleared Hangouts' app data, uninstalled and re-installed the Google Voice app, then set these settings again. No dice.

Anyone have a solution for this?___

2015-09-07 18:56:33 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Android reminder "chains"?

This feels like one of those things I once saw in an Android-app-of-the-week rundown and have since lost track of. Maybe it'll ring a bell for someone.

Suppose I have a chain of tasks (tasks with some sort of dependency or gating/blocking relationship). For instance, to make pizza, first make the dough. Start the notification chain with:
1. +8 hours: notify "punch down and knead dough"
2. +1 hour: "form dough into balls, cover with plastic wrap for final rise"
3. +1 hour: "dough ready for the oven"

I should get a notification eight hours later to punch down and knead. Maybe it takes me another couple hours to get around to it. (This is why ordinary Calendar or Inbox reminder notifications don't cut it, because creating three notifications relative to start time would cause... more »

Android reminder "chains"?

This feels like one of those things I once saw in an Android-app-of-the-week rundown and have since lost track of. Maybe it'll ring a bell for someone.

Suppose I have a chain of tasks (tasks with some sort of dependency or gating/blocking relationship). For instance, to make pizza, first make the dough. Start the notification chain with:
1. +8 hours: notify "punch down and knead dough"
2. +1 hour: "form dough into balls, cover with plastic wrap for final rise"
3. +1 hour: "dough ready for the oven"

I should get a notification eight hours later to punch down and knead. Maybe it takes me another couple hours to get around to it. (This is why ordinary Calendar or Inbox reminder notifications don't cut it, because creating three notifications relative to start time would cause notifications #2 and #3 to fire whether or not I'd completed step #1.)

Whenever I finish kneading the dough, I touch "Done" in the notification, and then an hour after that I get notification #2, and similarly, once I make #2 done, that starts a one-hour clock for notification #3 to fire.

If I had an iPhone, I could use OmniFocus to notify based on a project that had those steps with those relationships. But on Android, I'm not sure how to do it.

(Yes, I could roll-my-own fairly easily, but I'm asking about ready-made tools that can do this sort of thing.)___

2015-09-06 18:11:55 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s)Open 

Best tools for early-stage vacation research & planning?

Do any of you have any tools you'd recommend for keeping track of research and ideas for a potential upcoming vacation? I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for, I just know that Evernote, Pinterest, and Google docs are too unstructured and TripCase et al are too structured.

Basically, if where I'm starting from is "my boyfriend and I would like to take an ~x day vacation in month m, and we'd like to go somewhere warm in the Americas" but beyond that are leaving open possibilities as varied as a cruise, a science-themed programmed tour, a dude ranch, or just flying out to a resort on a beach or renting a cabin in the mountains with no agenda whatsoever, how might I begin to keep track of (and share and collaborate on) this research?

Sounds almost like I want a Basecamp-ish orw... more »

Best tools for early-stage vacation research & planning?

Do any of you have any tools you'd recommend for keeping track of research and ideas for a potential upcoming vacation? I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for, I just know that Evernote, Pinterest, and Google docs are too unstructured and TripCase et al are too structured.

Basically, if where I'm starting from is "my boyfriend and I would like to take an ~x day vacation in month m, and we'd like to go somewhere warm in the Americas" but beyond that are leaving open possibilities as varied as a cruise, a science-themed programmed tour, a dude ranch, or just flying out to a resort on a beach or renting a cabin in the mountains with no agenda whatsoever, how might I begin to keep track of (and share and collaborate on) this research?

Sounds almost like I want a Basecamp-ish or wiki-like thing. Anyone have experience exploring vacation ideas with a friend or significant other they might share?___

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2015-08-28 15:47:35 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

Steve Kornacki deserves better from MSNBC.

Another irksome decision by MSNBC in their deck-clearing to bring back Brian Williams and shed their "liberal alternative" image. (Because, going into 2016 with Donald Trump and the most conservative elements of the GOP in ascendence, having a liberal alternative to Fox and CNN is going to be such a loser.)

+Up with Steve Kornacki is weekend morning appointment viewing for me. Even though they're apparently often mistaken for one another (see https://twitter.com/SteveKornacki/status/625436523794669568 and reply for a couple hilarious examples), he's not the same as Chris Hayes, from whom he inherited Up two and a half years ago. Chris is a policy wonk, Steve is a politics wonk, Chris is an unapologetic liberal, Steve comes from the tradition of journalists who roll up their sleeves and get dirty, but are circumspect... more »

Steve Kornacki deserves better from MSNBC.

Another irksome decision by MSNBC in their deck-clearing to bring back Brian Williams and shed their "liberal alternative" image. (Because, going into 2016 with Donald Trump and the most conservative elements of the GOP in ascendence, having a liberal alternative to Fox and CNN is going to be such a loser.)

+Up with Steve Kornacki is weekend morning appointment viewing for me. Even though they're apparently often mistaken for one another (see https://twitter.com/SteveKornacki/status/625436523794669568 and reply for a couple hilarious examples), he's not the same as Chris Hayes, from whom he inherited Up two and a half years ago. Chris is a policy wonk, Steve is a politics wonk, Chris is an unapologetic liberal, Steve comes from the tradition of journalists who roll up their sleeves and get dirty, but are circumspect about their own views. 

Up has been a different show since Steve took over. And I do sometimes miss the multi-segment panel discussions Up w/Chris Hayes featured that dived really, really deep into policy, demographics, or political science. (He hits the same issues on his weekday primetime show at 8, All In With Chris Hayes, but there's just not as much room in an hour to dive deep.)

But on this incarnation of Up, Steve does Steve, and he does it well—with his encyclopedic knowledge of obscure races from which he can always find a parallel to today's news, his deep knowledge of how transactional and money politics works, and his stellar reporting career. Let's not forget he busted the doors open on Bridgegate, probably singlehandedly destroying Chris Christie's presidential dreams!

Yes, while Chris Hayes does the policy-focused, big-picture reporting we need more of, and Steve does the horse-race,  deal-making, and political-celebrity reporting that we generally need less of, Steve does it well, better than virtually anyone else on TV. And good politics-focused reporting is important. (If you disagree, see my link yesterday about why tech nerds are so often politically stupid.)

Steve Kornacki's lovable goofball persona of the hypochondriac who fears flying, loves cheesy jokes, beer, and football, can't boil water without burning it, and replaced Chris's fancy on-set pastry plate with good honest Dunkin' Donuts is much more suited to weekend mornings. (And, though he doesn't make a big deal out of it, that persona being attached to an openly gay man is, I think, a good public reminder that we come in all stripes.)

Now, I'm not denigrating the Reverend Al. He's done some amazing things in his long career and he's done an incredible job since the turn of the century in distancing himself from most of the controversies of his past. A Sunday morning show seems more right for him than being a weeknight pundit. But with Steve Kornacki, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Alex Witt each having two hours on Sundays before the MSNBC weekly prison documentary marathon re-commences, surely they could have found a way to give him a Sunday slot without taking time from Steve.

There are unattributed rumors that Steve will be getting an "expanded weekday presence" as part of this shake-up. I hope so, though the weekday dayside isn't the time to do the deep-dives and dot-connecting Steve is so good at. He deserves better.___

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2015-08-27 14:59:25 (5 comments; 13 reshares; 23 +1s)Open 

To all my anti-politics, quasi-libertarian friends who want "the stupid politicians" to "stop fighting and start fixing" and who think "centrism" and "moderation" are highly correlated with "rationality": please read this.

To all my anti-politics, quasi-libertarian friends who want "the stupid politicians" to "stop fighting and start fixing" and who think "centrism" and "moderation" are highly correlated with "rationality": please read this.___

2015-08-26 21:37:07 (18 comments; 2 reshares; 11 +1s)Open 

The definition of insanity is... calling customer service and expecting a different result from last time?

I've been noticing a rather frustrating pattern in recent contacts with customer service lines (Amazon, the cable company, the insurance company, my health plan's specialty pharmacy, my FSA medical card provider, and more). It seems to be, quite literally, slightly insane:

1a. I call about an immediate issue (e.g., a shipment returned as undeliverable, a check being cashed but payment not posted to my account, or a previously-covered drug declined without explanation).

1b. The rep takes some rectifying action, often called an "override", and assures me the problem is now "fixed".

2a. Some days or weeks later, the issue recurs. I call customer service again, explaining that this is the second (or third or nth) time. I try to... more »

The definition of insanity is... calling customer service and expecting a different result from last time?

I've been noticing a rather frustrating pattern in recent contacts with customer service lines (Amazon, the cable company, the insurance company, my health plan's specialty pharmacy, my FSA medical card provider, and more). It seems to be, quite literally, slightly insane:

1a. I call about an immediate issue (e.g., a shipment returned as undeliverable, a check being cashed but payment not posted to my account, or a previously-covered drug declined without explanation).

1b. The rep takes some rectifying action, often called an "override", and assures me the problem is now "fixed".

2a. Some days or weeks later, the issue recurs. I call customer service again, explaining that this is the second (or third or nth) time. I try to make as clear as I know how that fixing the immediate problem of the moment isn't my first priority.  I'm more as interested in fixing the problem so it doesn't continue happening.

2b. The rep invariably puts me on hold awhile, comes back, and says they'll "fix" the issue by performing the override or whatever one-off rectifying step they took previously.

3a. I object to this solution on the basis that it doesn't actually solve anything, it just guarantees that whatever's causing the issue won't get looked at, so I will inevitably be calling back again the next time.

3b. I'm asked to "just trust [them]" or something along those lines. I push back, but at some point I need to get on with my life already, and I just let them do the ad-hoc fix.

Today the issue arose when I had another recurrent issue pop up (this one, for the fourth time), and we had an exchange that went like this (Believe me, I am not making this up):

Me: Thank you for expediting the new shipment, but this isn't actually a solution to the underlying issue I've been having repeatedly.
Friendly But Hapless Customer Service Rep [repeating him or herself from moments before]: I have confirmed that your delivery will arrive tomorrow.
Me: I understand, but this isn't any different from how this was handled last time, and the issue obviously happened again. So I'd like to know what you'll do to try to fix the underlying problem.
FBHCSR: The issue shouldn't happen again.
Me: But how do you know that?
FBHCSR: Because I expedited this order; your delivery will arrive tomorrow.
Me: I'm not talking about this order, I'm talking about the next order I place.
FBHCSR: Do you have an order number?
Me: No... I don't have an order number because I haven't placed it yet. That's what I meant by "the next order I place".
FBHCSR: Then how do you know it will be delayed?
Me: I don't know, but the last three orders have been delayed due to this issue and nothing you're done addresses whatever the root cause is.
FBHCSR: In that case, if by chance your next order does not arrive on time, please call us and we'll be happy to address the issue.

See? It's, simple really: there's no reason for me to be asking them to fix anything, because there's nothing to fix. This time was a fluke, one-time incident, as was the last one, as were each of the prior ones. The next one will be fine. How can I say that they need to fix something for next time, when next time hasn't even happened yet? I don't know that next time will be a problem.

"Next time" will always be better, provided you just  keep in mind that "next time" is a relative term, rather than an absolute one, which can never apply to anything that's currently happening or has happened in the past, simply because then, it isn't the "next time" anymore!

Maybe as a sysadmin I'm just more used to thinking about root causes than most people? Still, I really don't think it's that hard to grasp the concept that "your special, one-off override in this case did nothing to fix the underlying issue, and there's no reason to believe anything will be different next time."___

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2015-08-19 14:55:23 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s)Open 

"There were three... Solarized Light, Solarized Dark, and... uh... I can't remember the third one."

I adopted Solarized color themes a long time ago. You could say I adopted them before Solarized itself existed, because from the mid-90's I discovered that—contrary to all the neon/holographic terminal themes that were coming out for the newly democratizing force of Linux—I personally liked low-contrast colors for terminals I needed to scrutinize all day. My preferred terminal colors were, in X11 colors, "OldLace" background and "Gray" foreground; see http://codepen.io/anon/pen/KpjKQp?editors=110 for what that looked like. But my other colors were generally just the ones whatever program I was using chose by default, tweaked only when they clashed or were unreadable with the gray-on-old lace scheme. +Ethan Schoonover did us the great service ofratio... more »

"There were three... Solarized Light, Solarized Dark, and... uh... I can't remember the third one."

I adopted Solarized color themes a long time ago. You could say I adopted them before Solarized itself existed, because from the mid-90's I discovered that—contrary to all the neon/holographic terminal themes that were coming out for the newly democratizing force of Linux—I personally liked low-contrast colors for terminals I needed to scrutinize all day. My preferred terminal colors were, in X11 colors, "OldLace" background and "Gray" foreground; see http://codepen.io/anon/pen/KpjKQp?editors=110 for what that looked like. But my other colors were generally just the ones whatever program I was using chose by default, tweaked only when they clashed or were unreadable with the gray-on-old lace scheme. +Ethan Schoonover did us the great service of rationalizing the other colors for a full usable set of normal low-contrast and highlight colors that didn't clash and were aesthetically pleasing.

So, for years now I've used solarized-dark for my terminals and solarized-light for my editor so I can easily tell overlapping windows apart—my Emacs configuration has zero window chrome, and I use the same font for both, so it's impossible to tell the two apart quickly without the color difference. But lately, I've wanted a third type of visually-distinctive window so I can keep my local-shell windows separate from my remote-shell windows.

Any suggestion, either a third color theme that harmonizes with but is visually distinct from Solarized, or a way to set a tiny bit of chrome on Emacs that won't make my eyeballs hurt but will make it clear which are terminals and which are Emacs? Right now the solution I'm leaning toward is Tomorrow Theme (https://github.com/chriskempson/tomorrow-theme), just because it describes a family of theme variants and it looks like some of them could harmonize, but I'd have to try them. If someone else has already figured this out, I'd love to hear it.___

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2015-08-16 21:27:24 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s)Open 

Last week or so, my Nexus 5's  NFC suddenly stopped working. I used it almost every day for cabs, the drugstore, groceries, and the cheap little RFID tags I've put places in my apartment where going to a certain URL quickly is useful (not unlike those Amazon buttons you're supposed to stick to your washing machine so you can buy detergent right when you're thinking about it, I guess).

But maddeningly, it just stopped completely. Nothing else seems wrong with the phone, I haven't dropped it, etc. Restarting hasn't helped, nor toggling the "NFC" control pictured below.

But something that did happen around that time was my phone's Lollipop update. I haven't seen any reports of it killing NFC, though, and it seems unlikely it would, so probably just coincidence.

It's annoying, though, how quickly I've gotten used to the... more »

Last week or so, my Nexus 5's  NFC suddenly stopped working. I used it almost every day for cabs, the drugstore, groceries, and the cheap little RFID tags I've put places in my apartment where going to a certain URL quickly is useful (not unlike those Amazon buttons you're supposed to stick to your washing machine so you can buy detergent right when you're thinking about it, I guess).

But maddeningly, it just stopped completely. Nothing else seems wrong with the phone, I haven't dropped it, etc. Restarting hasn't helped, nor toggling the "NFC" control pictured below.

But something that did happen around that time was my phone's Lollipop update. I haven't seen any reports of it killing NFC, though, and it seems unlikely it would, so probably just coincidence.

It's annoying, though, how quickly I've gotten used to the convenience, so much so that even the idea of just using my tablet instead seems ludicrous. Carry around that enormous seven-inch behemoth just to pay for my groceries? Hah, I'd rather just swipe a plastic card!   My phone hasn't shown any other signs of wear except for the typical battery aging, and I'd like to get more than 16 months out of a phone. But it's well out of warranty, so it seems like the choice is between just learning to live without NFC (I was alive for a few years before NFC and, somehow, I managed) or buying a new phone.....___

2015-08-16 19:20:05 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

It amuses me so much that after my TiVo got the latest OS update recently, it added 14 "new" episodes of Firefly to my Now Showing list. They were links to the Netflix streams, apparently finally merged with the Season Pass I created on my first TiVo back in 2002 when the show was actually new.

So if my TiVo account still has memory that far back, why does it still keep adding Fox News and WWE Smackdown to my Suggestions? :-)

It amuses me so much that after my TiVo got the latest OS update recently, it added 14 "new" episodes of Firefly to my Now Showing list. They were links to the Netflix streams, apparently finally merged with the Season Pass I created on my first TiVo back in 2002 when the show was actually new.

So if my TiVo account still has memory that far back, why does it still keep adding Fox News and WWE Smackdown to my Suggestions? :-)___

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2015-07-20 20:29:37 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

This has been happening more and more recently it seems: I get a notification about post activity (in this case, from +Jimmy Kaplowitz ) but when I go to look at the post, the event that triggered the notification isn't visible.

Sometimes it appears after awhile, so there's some sort of eventual consistency, but sometimes not. Do others have this issue ever, and if so have you found a way to improve the issue?

(+Jimmy Kaplowitz +Steve S +Crístian Deives — I assume you wouldn't mind my posting your names since it would be public activity anyway, but if I was wrong about that, let me know if you'd like me to delete the image and replace it with a redacted one.)

This has been happening more and more recently it seems: I get a notification about post activity (in this case, from +Jimmy Kaplowitz ) but when I go to look at the post, the event that triggered the notification isn't visible.

Sometimes it appears after awhile, so there's some sort of eventual consistency, but sometimes not. Do others have this issue ever, and if so have you found a way to improve the issue?

(+Jimmy Kaplowitz +Steve S +Crístian Deives — I assume you wouldn't mind my posting your names since it would be public activity anyway, but if I was wrong about that, let me know if you'd like me to delete the image and replace it with a redacted one.)___

2015-07-20 19:27:08 (13 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s)Open 

My rules for reviewing cosmetic changes in patches

(Updated below.) It's not uncommon that I'll get a code review that consists of a mix of changes, some of which are functional (change the semantics of the program or potentially could do so, such as changing the name of a private variable throughout a file), and some are not (like reordering named arguments, or changing whitespace or indention in languages where that isn't significant).

Over the years, I've settled on the following rules, which I share with people whose code I'm reviewing. I have a macro set up for it, but here it is for public consumption for the first time. Do any of you coders have anything to add, or any quibbles?

1. First precedence goes to consistency: even if the coding style says to do X, if the file already does Y more than once¹, you should do Y in changes you... more »

My rules for reviewing cosmetic changes in patches

(Updated below.) It's not uncommon that I'll get a code review that consists of a mix of changes, some of which are functional (change the semantics of the program or potentially could do so, such as changing the name of a private variable throughout a file), and some are not (like reordering named arguments, or changing whitespace or indention in languages where that isn't significant).

Over the years, I've settled on the following rules, which I share with people whose code I'm reviewing. I have a macro set up for it, but here it is for public consumption for the first time. Do any of you coders have anything to add, or any quibbles?

1. First precedence goes to consistency: even if the coding style says to do X, if the file already does Y more than once¹, you should do Y in changes you introduce, unless the patch is entirely devoted to cosmetic changes, in which case it can fix all cases of Y to X.

2. For issues not governed by the coding style (alignment, grouping of parameters, blank lines between stanzas/paragraphs),  any pre-existing lines you change functionally, you're also free to clean up, provided you don't break rule #1.

3. In a functional patch, do not change any lines in a purely nonfunctional way, except for the cases mentioned above in #1 and #2. This applies even for egregious issues like useless line-terminating whitespace or incorrect newline type (for languages that can tolerate that). Your patch should only show lines you changed for functional reasons².

4. Non-functional-only cosmetic patches are always welcome and will be quickly approved (GitHub and most other code-review tools offera word-wise diff highlighting now, so it's easy for a code reviewer to ensure that a patch is, in fact, non-functional). Following up a functional patch with a cosmetic patch is especially good, since your reviewer will be familiar with the context.

¹  "More than once", because once can be written off as a previously-uncaught mistake, and in the diff it will be obvious why there's a single nonfunctional change. I'd still make a note of this in the out-of-band comments in the code review system.

²  If your editor makes such changes automatically, Make It Stop That (for Emacs' whitespace-fixing and reindention functions, for instance, there are versions and/or configurations that will keep the functions for touching otherwise-unchanged lines). Or get to know `git add -p` so you can exclude those changes from your patch before sending a pull request. (Then you can create a new branch and apply those other changes to a purely nonfunctional cosmetic patch, or just `git reset --hard` to clear away the fixes your editor made on lines you otherwise wouldn't have touched.)

Update, 19:32 UTC: Someone asked me about refactoring. Refactoring is a "nonfunctional change" if done correctly, by definition, but a refactoring patch shouldn't be used as a time to fix cosmetic issues, IMO, since the reviewer needs to make absolutely sure you've correctly refactored, and the fewer distractions the better. 

That said, there are things on the bubble, like using defaults or introducing explicit returns for procedures (subroutines that aren't used for their return values), where it's a judgment call. I still wouldn't make any changes like that in the same patch as a functional patch to lines I'm not changing for functional reasons. Depending on the scope, I'd either do a separate refactoring patch (so, yes, you might have three patches, one logic-functional, one cosmetic, and one refactoring), or put it in the cosmetic patch with a special note to the reviewer so they won't be surprised.___

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2015-07-12 17:59:41 (5 comments; 2 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Reputable sources for data about generic drug biosimilarity?

For as long as substitutable generic prescription drugs have been available, there have been people who claim the generics don't work as well, to the point where "none of that knockoff crap, I've got the real name-brand stuff" has become a trope in fiction.

For most of that same time, though, the fact has been that experimental evidence has shown that the vast majority of most generics have been pharmaceutically identical. When production standards are sufficiently high, when the purity of the brand name product and the generic are within similar tolerances, the common complaint "the generic didn't work (as well) for me" has been idiosyncratic: either a psychosomatic effect or an idiosyncratic physiologic effect traceable to differences in the "inactive" ingredients. (For... more »

Reputable sources for data about generic drug biosimilarity?

For as long as substitutable generic prescription drugs have been available, there have been people who claim the generics don't work as well, to the point where "none of that knockoff crap, I've got the real name-brand stuff" has become a trope in fiction.

For most of that same time, though, the fact has been that experimental evidence has shown that the vast majority of most generics have been pharmaceutically identical. When production standards are sufficiently high, when the purity of the brand name product and the generic are within similar tolerances, the common complaint "the generic didn't work (as well) for me" has been idiosyncratic: either a psychosomatic effect or an idiosyncratic physiologic effect traceable to differences in the "inactive" ingredients. (For instance, the name brand uses one bulking agent, the generic another, and some patients are sensitive to the difference even though the "active" ingredients are indistinguishable.)

But there have been cases where generics (often a generic from one particular manufacturer, not all generics for a given drug) have turned out to be quantifiably inferior to the original counterpart, and not just a result of a batch defect. Time-release drugs have been particularly prone to this, as the active ingredient can be exactly the same, exactly as pure, but the mechanism for delaying drug release can be completely different. (One reason is that tablets are generally cheaper to produce than capsules, so are attractive to generic drug makers, but the way a delayed-release capsule is designed is totally different from an extended-release tablet.)

We're about to (in the US as least) start seeing more and more substitutable generics for so-called "large molecule" drugs such as biologics, which are not "manufactured" so much as they are more like "grown", in organisms such as bacteria genetically engineered to produce the biologic drug. In these cases, it is literally impossible for the generic drug maker to produce an identical replica without access to the production line of the original drug maker—they'd have to steal the cell line to do that. So instead, the generic drug manufacturers are producing their own cell lines that make an active drug that (they hope) is pharmacologically identical, but because they're large molecules (like DNA) they may vary arbitrarily from the original drug in the part of the protein chain (or whatever) that isn't believed to be responsible for the therapeutic characteristics of the drug.

In other countries, these "biologic biosimilars" are already on the market. With conventional "small molecule" drugs, it's no different than choosing the store brand of an OTC (over-the-counter non-prescription) drug: the trademarked name of the original doesn't appear, but the active ingredient's chemical name stays the same. Think of one of the earliest examples, where the name-brand pill bottle says "Motrin (ibuprofen)" while the generic simply says "ibuprofen".

There's been a fight going on between the makers of biologics and biosimilars, where, for instance, AbbVie has argued that manufacturers of biosimilars for its arthritis drug Humira (adalimumab), one of the most profitable drugs in history, shouldn't be allowed to put not just the trademarked "Humira" on the label, but "adalimumab" either, because the molecule is not exactly the same, which was the rule for small-molecule generics.

In India, biosimilar adalimumab is already on the market under the name "Exemptia adalimumab". It differs in its packaging, with an innovative self-sealing pre-filled syringe which eliminates the need for a sharps container for disposal. (Humira comes in either a pen auto injector, or a conventional pre-filled syringe with a needle that must be disposed of like any other biohazardous sharps.)

But its slightly different drug molecule, until recently, would have categorically disqualified Exemptia from carrying the name "adalimumab" in the United States. The FDA has now already approved one biosimilar to carry the original's chemical name, and appears poised to do the same for others, including adalimumab.

So here's my question: you could always find anecdotal evidence for a generic's not working as well as the name brand, but if you wanted more scientifically valid information, you either had to wade through PubMed or hope that if the generic doesn't quite compare, the mainstream news would pick up the story (and publish it in a form other than business news or "health scare off the week"). Is there a better way to keep up to date on generics-efficacy news?

This information is going to become even more relevant—but probably even harder to find—as more large-molecule biosimilars make it to market. Given the astronomical expense of many of these drugs (a package of two Humira syringes retails for nearly $3000), it's a safe bet that most insurance companies will demand patients switch (even though, compared to the price differential between small-molecule brand-name drugs and generics, which is often orders of magnitude, the cost of producing a biosimilar biologic is so high that the prices are often 60% or more of the original).

So in the coming years, early—yet still reputable—data on comparative efficacy is going to be very important to patients with the chronic conditions these medicines treat.___

2015-06-28 18:39:04 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 9 +1s)Open 

Bug: "Posted wedding photo. Expected result: congratulations. Actual: fired from job and evicted." Closed: "Won't Fix/Working As Intended""

Bug: "Posted wedding photo. Expected result: congratulations. Actual: fired from job and evicted." Closed: "Won't Fix/Working As Intended""___

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2015-06-20 21:58:55 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s)Open 

The two most striking things about the Charleston shooter's "manifesto" were:

1. The detail he went into about how he would have killed roughly the same number of people had he not had a gun, and

2. The explanation that his motivation was against Christians, not blacks; the second-oldest black church in the South, 150 miles away from his home, was simply the most convenient one to shoot up, entirely coincidentally on the 193rd anniversary of the church founder's thwarted slave rebellion.

...or, wait. No, I must have been reading from a different manifesto. Oops.

The two most striking things about the Charleston shooter's "manifesto" were:

1. The detail he went into about how he would have killed roughly the same number of people had he not had a gun, and

2. The explanation that his motivation was against Christians, not blacks; the second-oldest black church in the South, 150 miles away from his home, was simply the most convenient one to shoot up, entirely coincidentally on the 193rd anniversary of the church founder's thwarted slave rebellion.

...or, wait. No, I must have been reading from a different manifesto. Oops.___

2015-05-30 19:05:19 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

There must be a reason that good saucepans and sauciers with oven-safe metal handles often—even from very reputable and expensive brands—are balanced such that empty or lightly filled, they do not sit flat on the stovetop, instead tipping toward the handle. What is it?

Obviously, once food is in the pot, for something like a sauté pan, a heavy metal handle is likely helpful for handling. But unless you're making popcorn, you don't usually need to handle a small pot often enough for that to make much sense.

(Update 6/31/2015 00:30 UTC: I've posted some photos at https://plus.google.com/photos/116222833568410151476/albums/6154824484752822721 with the pot backlit, so you can see that it isn't making contact with the flat countertop—except all the way over by the handle.)

There must be a reason that good saucepans and sauciers with oven-safe metal handles often—even from very reputable and expensive brands—are balanced such that empty or lightly filled, they do not sit flat on the stovetop, instead tipping toward the handle. What is it?

Obviously, once food is in the pot, for something like a sauté pan, a heavy metal handle is likely helpful for handling. But unless you're making popcorn, you don't usually need to handle a small pot often enough for that to make much sense.

(Update 6/31/2015 00:30 UTC: I've posted some photos at https://plus.google.com/photos/116222833568410151476/albums/6154824484752822721 with the pot backlit, so you can see that it isn't making contact with the flat countertop—except all the way over by the handle.)___

2015-05-12 20:42:58 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 5 +1s)Open 

Why you probably don't want to use Subversion-style $Id$ fields with Git

Almost all version control systems support the ability to have some metadata substituted into a file when it's checked out by replacing some special token. CVS and Subversion were among the VCS's that had such a feature, and the "$Id$" token was among the most used. It was replaced with the version number of the entire source tree at that time.

Git's version, at first blush, looks to be the same and just as useful; it even uses the "$Id$" style for the substitution tokens. But it isn't, and shouldn't be used that way.

To explain why, I've linked a document with sample code I wrote some time ago, but just put on Gist.

Why you probably don't want to use Subversion-style $Id$ fields with Git

Almost all version control systems support the ability to have some metadata substituted into a file when it's checked out by replacing some special token. CVS and Subversion were among the VCS's that had such a feature, and the "$Id$" token was among the most used. It was replaced with the version number of the entire source tree at that time.

Git's version, at first blush, looks to be the same and just as useful; it even uses the "$Id$" style for the substitution tokens. But it isn't, and shouldn't be used that way.

To explain why, I've linked a document with sample code I wrote some time ago, but just put on Gist.___

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2015-05-12 18:52:24 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

Wow, do they make sugar-free fat, too?

(Yes, I know, structural ambiguity: it’s supposed to mean “this contains more protein than it contains sugar”. But I can’t help but read it as “this contains more protein than sugar contains protein.”)

Wow, do they make sugar-free fat, too?

(Yes, I know, structural ambiguity: it’s supposed to mean “this contains more protein than it contains sugar”. But I can’t help but read it as “this contains more protein than sugar contains protein.”)___

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2015-05-09 22:17:03 (12 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

What do you do with good gadgets you don't want anymore?

I've had a Parrot Zik 1.0 for about a  year now, and have liked it very much—I've had a lot of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and adapters over the years, and this is far and away the best.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I want to upgrade to the newer 2.0  model released a few months ago (linked below), because it has a couple new features I like. First, a lower-power noise-cancelling non-Bluetooth mode would be nice for long airline flights, and second, a control in the configuration app lets you  pipe in an adjustable amount of outside noise (since I often use mine on the sidewalk in Manhattan, total noise-cancellation isn't always safe).

But I'm not sure what to do with the old pair. It's new enough and in good enough shape that I don't want to just recycle it. I'dusua... more »

What do you do with good gadgets you don't want anymore?

I've had a Parrot Zik 1.0 for about a  year now, and have liked it very much—I've had a lot of Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and adapters over the years, and this is far and away the best.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I want to upgrade to the newer 2.0  model released a few months ago (linked below), because it has a couple new features I like. First, a lower-power noise-cancelling non-Bluetooth mode would be nice for long airline flights, and second, a control in the configuration app lets you  pipe in an adjustable amount of outside noise (since I often use mine on the sidewalk in Manhattan, total noise-cancellation isn't always safe).

But I'm not sure what to do with the old pair. It's new enough and in good enough shape that I don't want to just recycle it. I'd usually offer it to a friend or coworker, but none of my friends are interested and since I'm telecommuting now, my coworkers are less viable options.

I know I could post a for-sale to Craigslist, or put it on Ebay, or list it on Amazon, or try one of those services (I refuse to call hem "apps", because, really, why is a service suddenly an "app" just because you use a mobile app to request the service? ) where they'll buy old electronics from you.

But in the past I've generally used these things for getting rid of very old stuff; I don't have any experience doing it with a gadget that's still very far from the scrap heap.

What do you do with gadgets like this?___

2015-05-08 17:10:12 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s)Open 

Would you say, 'Okay, Brute?' or 'back at ya, Krzysztofie'?

Random linguistics question of the day....

If you speak a language with a vocative case or other non-nominative form of address (like Russian), and you're speaking English with other speakers of that language in mixed company, do you use the vocative address form when you say someone's name? Or do you follow English and stick with an immutable name?

A Greek acquaintance tells me that Greeks use the vocative even in English sentences. It just feels wrong to call somebody by their nominative name, I suppose something like how in English it would feel wrong to call a family member "Professor Jones", even if that is how he's addressed elsewhere.

Would you say, 'Okay, Brute?' or 'back at ya, Krzysztofie'?

Random linguistics question of the day....

If you speak a language with a vocative case or other non-nominative form of address (like Russian), and you're speaking English with other speakers of that language in mixed company, do you use the vocative address form when you say someone's name? Or do you follow English and stick with an immutable name?

A Greek acquaintance tells me that Greeks use the vocative even in English sentences. It just feels wrong to call somebody by their nominative name, I suppose something like how in English it would feel wrong to call a family member "Professor Jones", even if that is how he's addressed elsewhere.___

2015-05-01 19:40:18 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 24 +1s)Open 

Sorry, families visiting NYC: walk six abreast on the sidewalk with arms interlocked, and I'm not going to walk around you when you head right at me in the intersection. I'm crossing, not playing "Red Rover".

Sorry, families visiting NYC: walk six abreast on the sidewalk with arms interlocked, and I'm not going to walk around you when you head right at me in the intersection. I'm crossing, not playing "Red Rover".___

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2015-04-30 02:28:09 (14 comments; 1 reshares; 27 +1s)Open 

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".

I complained to +Lyft after they couldn't pick me up at the airport because their app said my phone number wasn't "valid".

Their responses are just getting more amusing with every email. The latest says they can't work with my phone number because "at the moment we are focusing on streamlining our app on Android and iPhone operating systems. Other operating systems may be introduced at a later date, however there are currently no immediate plans to roll out any new additional platforms."

Apparently my phone number is an operating system! Who knew?

They suggested that in the future I "have a friend or family member request a Lyft for you on their smartphone".___

2015-04-28 15:02:23 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s)Open 

Nice truncation on this notification: BREAKING NEWS: Chief Justice John Roberts says during same-sex marriage case oral arguments before the Supreme Court that gay and lesbia

I'm just imagining Roberts interrupting a colloquy: “Counselor, if I may: GAY AND LESBIA! That is all."

Nice truncation on this notification: BREAKING NEWS: Chief Justice John Roberts says during same-sex marriage case oral arguments before the Supreme Court that gay and lesbia

I'm just imagining Roberts interrupting a colloquy: “Counselor, if I may: GAY AND LESBIA! That is all."___

2015-04-22 20:09:39 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s)Open 

Firefox on Android: URLs on NFC tags always launch Firefox. You can't fix it short of uninstalling.

This isn't exactly a #lazyweb  question because I can find answers by searching, I just don't believe them....

I was surprised today, when I attempted to launch a browser via an NFC tag that had only an https URL encoded on it, and Firefox loaded. I rarely use Firefox on Android and hadn't selected it as the default for anything. I checked the Apps Settings, where you can usually "clear defaults" so that Android will ask to select an application the next time the URL is triggered, but no defaults were set for Firefox.

I uninstalled Firefox, and the tag launched Chrome, as expected. I re-installed Firefox, and — without asking — Android went back to using Firefox for the URL.

It's an https docs.google.com URL,so n... more »

Firefox on Android: URLs on NFC tags always launch Firefox. You can't fix it short of uninstalling.

This isn't exactly a #lazyweb  question because I can find answers by searching, I just don't believe them....

I was surprised today, when I attempted to launch a browser via an NFC tag that had only an https URL encoded on it, and Firefox loaded. I rarely use Firefox on Android and hadn't selected it as the default for anything. I checked the Apps Settings, where you can usually "clear defaults" so that Android will ask to select an application the next time the URL is triggered, but no defaults were set for Firefox.

I uninstalled Firefox, and the tag launched Chrome, as expected. I re-installed Firefox, and — without asking — Android went back to using Firefox for the URL.

It's an https docs.google.com URL, so nothing I'd expect Firefox to intercept. And in fact that URL isn't sent to Firefox if I invoke it any other way (a link in an email or a notification, for instance).

Searching seems to suggest that a) any Android app is free to respond to any NFC tag URL it wants, b) Firefox asks the OS to give it all NFC URL's while Chrome does not, so c) Android doesn't offer a choice when only one app has asked to respond to a given URL, and d) there's absolutely nothing the phone owner can do about this except for uninstalling Firefox or installing some other app that tries to similarly intercept all NFC URL's (since Chrome does not, installing another app won't help you, if what you want is to launch Chrome).

Is this all correct? I have difficulty believing it, as it suggests unusually anti-user and anti-security decisionmaking by Mozilla and Google.___

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