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Scripting News

Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Published: Wed, 21 Feb 2018 02:28:40 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2018 02:28:57 GMT

Copyright: © 1994-2017 Dave Winer.

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 02:26:37 GMT

I don't drive often. Today I was driving in the Bay Area, noticed when near a school, the speed limit goes down to 25. Speed bumps. Lights flash if you're going too fast. We protect children from licensed drivers. I don't feel my liberties have been infringed. Common sense.

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 02:28:40 GMT

People act as if "liberty" is an absolute. It isn't. We're prohibited from behavior that unnecessarily risks other people's well-being. Gun users know this. The gun industry spreads lies.

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:52:41 GMT

I am pleased to report that Berkeley has not changed. A baseball discussion at Starbucks reveals that I hate the Yankees. I am wearing a Mets hat of course. A patron says Ah ah don't hate. How Berkeley. Baseball is about strong opinion. We hate the Yankees, I say. He says I guess you're right, we hate the Red Sox, right? I say no. Mets fans like the Red Sox. All you have to do is smile. Since then, and for the foreseeable future, the Mets really like the Red Sox.

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 00:06:47 GMT

We did something bad in TechLand. We knew all about trolls 15 years ago. And we didn't carry forward that knowledge in subsequent generations of our systems. It's as if smallpox were allowed to return because a new generation of biologists didn't study the work of prior generations.

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 05:23:55 GMT

I'm visiting California, and it's good to be back. But it's freaking cold. Can't you guys turn on the heat or something??

America's greatness

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:16:39 GMT

I was riding the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan on Friday night listening to a quick podcast from NPR about the indictments announced earlier in the day, and I had a goosebumps feeling. It was easy to figure where it came from. Finally someone in charge in my country was fighting back against the Russians. The president wouldn't do it, the Republican-dominated Congress wouldn't. So a Republican Deputy Attorney General did. What Russia did was an act of war. We have their names. Now the government of the United States is going to fight back. I was proud of America in a way I had thought was gone. A few hours later Rachel Maddow described the same feeling. She was on her way out of town for the weekend, but turned around because she had something to say. Pride in America is what she wanted to say. Me too!

It happened again yesterday, watching the speeches of the high school students in Florida declaring war on the weapons that had killed their classmates and teachers earlier in the week. Such power and determination. They weren't saving anyone's pride. The adults are full of shit. We're not going to take it. We will be famous, not a footnote. This will be the last mass-killing in a school in the United States. Well it may not be, but what an idea. We can get there. Eventually there will be a last mass-killing, but first we have to get rid of the NRA. They are an infestation. Vermin. A disease. They must be eradicated.

We don't deserve these kids, but there they are anyway. The spirit of the USA is alive, though some of them had to die. This is where our greatness lives. Not too far under the surface. When enough is enough, out it comes.

So twice in one weekend the enraged spirit of America re-emerged and is kicking ass, from suprising places. Surprisingly, it ain't over yet! 💥

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 00:02:01 GMT

In 1992, my company, UserLand Software, shipped Frontier, a scripting environment and object database for the Mac. I came across a Frontier box the other day and took a picture of the front and back of the box, and saved it as a PDF. Hopefully we'll be able to find it in search engines in the future.

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 15:51:40 GMT

This talk by Bruce Sterling at the Reboot conference in 2009 has new relevance for me, given the big event at the beginning of the month. All of a sudden change seems very possible, as Sterling's theory predicts. It's remarkable to me how fixed-in-place you get until a big tree falls, and now there's new light shining on new life. Not surprising that I wrote that blog post a couple of weeks after Father's Day in 2009. And it's pretty cool that my mind took me back to it at this moment, the bookend for Father's Day (which for some reason I'm not calling Mother's Day, probably because that doesn't do it justice, no matter how influential fathers are, mothers are where we came from).

A little free mentoring

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 13:39:24 GMT

Check out this piece in Quartz, which is ostensibly about encouraging men to mentor women, even though we might be afraid to be alone with women. Like many stories about #metoo, it's condescending, threatening, disrespectful even humiliating to men.

This is one reason men are scared to be alone with women. I feel it, when I'm alone in an elevator with a woman I don't know. I move as far away as I can, and shrink my body to be as small as possible. I'm wary of making smalltalk with women I don't know. I have no idea how they'll interpret it. Or when I called the front desk of the hotel to ask for help with the TV and a woman shows up. You're trusting this person with your reputation, every time. Yes I know, you want me to experience it. You got it, I'm experiencing it. But the taunting? Taking about me masturbating and locking women in my office? That is exactly the problem. We're afraid you're giving every wrong deed done by all men to each of us, no matter how we, as individuals, actually relate to women. That's why it feels safer to follow Mike Pence's rule.

Humiliating us isn't going to make us more comfortable, and as long as we have a choice, many will choose to stay safe. I get how this is unfair to women, so let's work together to lower the tension and to make a safe environment for everyone. A win-win doesn't begin by deliberately disadvantaging one group of people.

So here's some free mentoring. The Golden Rule is a good place to start. You catch more flies with honey, is another good one. And a new one that might not have occurred to you -- men are people too, and we're not all that different from you. Treat us like people you care about and you might be surprised at the result.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:36:55 GMT

I'm going through stuff from my mom's house. For example, here's an invitation to my parents' wedding on Christmas Day 1953 at the Park Lane Hotel in NYC. Interestingly it's not far from where I live today. Of course I wasn't even a twinkle in my father's eye at the time (I was born in 1955). By posting it here I hope to be able to find it in the future. BTW, my grandfather's name is listed on the invite as "Rubin" but no one called him that. He was Rudy and was the superstar celebrity of the family. My grandmother, Lucy, was the real power. I bought a domain to commemorate him, appropriately named

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:42:37 GMT

BTW, I think of it as "my mom's house" but in fact it's the house I grew up in. Weird how perceptions change. Until 2009 it was "my parents' house" and until 1976 it was "my house."

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:10:01 GMT

A ThinkTank ad that ran full page in PC Week some time in 1985. There's no date on the ad, or on the article on the other side of the page. The ad looks a lot better than the scan. And the fine print didn't make it on the scan, so I did another scan with just that info. My signature, in 1985, had a lot of detail that's since been lost. Back then I did a lot more writing, so my handwriting was more important than it is now, where all my writing is done on a keyboard, and has been for decades. Also years of being a CEO and having to sign stacks of things did a number on my signature too.

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:18:57 GMT

Stop. It's not about specific gun laws. The problem is the NRA. Make it unacceptable for a politician to take money from the NRA. Then, and only then, can the political discussion of mass-killing guns start to become rational.

BYTE piece on laptops

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:19:39 GMT

In 1984, I wrote an article for BYTE about "laptop" computers, and the software you'd want to use on such a machine. Note that laptops didn't exist yet, but they were about to, and btw, I knew. I was non-disclosed and had a prototype of the Data General One which was more or less the first.

I got credit in William Safire's NYT column for coining the term laptop, even though I didn't. It was already in use at the time. Friends said I shouldn't have been so honest, Safire's column on language was authoritative. But wtf, I have a hard time taking credit for other people's innovation. Go figure.

Also here's a scan of the cover of the magazine.

Update: They have a scan of the whole issue on, in PDF format.

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 22:14:06 GMT

I'm not sure I ever knew this but the Library of Congress archived a bunch of blogs that covered 9/11, including Scripting News.

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:48:51 GMT

I'm coming around to the idea of publishing certain ideas and news only, exclusively on my blog. If you don't read the blog you don't get the benefit. That might be a good way to help the open web. It certainly is consistent with "living my values."

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 16:03:36 GMT

Meanwhile here's another thread I just posted on Twitter. Again, I apologize. I need to do this stuff here. Something about Twitter keeps sucking me in.

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 04:16:39 GMT

I sat next to someone on the subway today who was reading a paper NY Times. I glanced over it and couldn't stop reading. The smell of the paper evoked memories. A nostalgic experience.

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:04:02 GMT

We should have a list of the features Chrome is deleting from the web. Kind of like the list @Amy_Siskind keeps for the norms Trump is destroying.

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:35:16 GMT

It's not good enough to invent something great and have it be adopted in the culture. You have to conserve it against a big company squeezing the life out of it for a few quarters of PE growth.

Steve Kerr's breakthrough idea

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:22:56 GMT

I wrote off the Warriors, too boring, what are they going to do, win another title? Seen that show. But Steve Kerr found a way to turn in a different direction, and it is brilliant, and makes me want to watch the Warriors again. Remarkable.

It's the same theory I have for conferences. When I tried out what Kerr is doing the result was BloggerCon. It was amazing what happens when you turn the audience into speakers. But it only works with certain people. When they imported me into a conference in Nashville to do a session, it blew up. A bunch of Limbaughs showed up. Eventually I sat down and let the room go crazy.

You need a strong respected central guy like Kerr to make it work. So it probably won't work for teams like the Pelicans or Kings, for example, and certainly not the Knicks! 💥

And you need players like Andre Iguodala and David West and Draymond Green and on and on. Look at the intellectual talent they have. Unparalleled. And their minds will just get better as their bodies age.

They're really onto something.

Thread links

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:01:58 GMT

I got on a roll this morning on Twitter. Sorry. I should put all my best thinking on the blog. In the meantime here are links to the threads with summaries.

About the art of linking and how we're letting it go. It's not good enough to invent something, and drive adoption, you have to conserve it against monetization by private companies.

Steven Sinofski wrote a thread about Apple, and the realities of supersize tech companies. He has experience as product lead at Microsoft through the 90s. I observed that it might be nice if a leading web pub, with permission of course, adapted such threads to a more readable format, and added links.

Also while Steven was leading Microsoft, the web was booming and they were cross-purposes. MS denied it then, but they lost an antitrust case about it, so I think we know they were. Thing is we need both open and proprietary, or we'd all still be using Unix command lines (I do, but wouldn't want to force it on anyone). We also need rules to keep the behemoths from trying to ingest the commons.

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 20:09:36 GMT

The point of an open platform is to have choice. You believe in one way forward, I believe in another. We can both use the same web. Along comes Google and slashes it down the middle like a Berlin Wall. All of a sudden only they matter.

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 18:06:09 GMT

Back in the day (a phrase I seem to write a lot) I would encourage people to send real mail to their politicians instead of email, because email requires no effort, therefore doesn't carry much weight. These days that's the difference between posting something on Twitter or Facebook, or your blog. If you put it on your blog, you know fewer people will likely see it, but they are people who care enough that they either came to your site or subscribed to it in a feed reader. It's why I didn't post the piece about my mom on Facebook, or link to it from Twitter. I don't want to mass-communicate something like that, I want to share it with people to want to know.

Beating hearts

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:29:15 GMT

I wrote this on this day in 2014 on Facebook.

There's a chain of beating hearts connecting back in time from you to a fish that crawled onto land, one of your many ancestors (assuming you believe in evolution, I guess).

Actually, even if you don't believe. :-)

Except for you, maybe, they were all women.

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:17:28 GMT

Good morning sports fans!

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 01:44:53 GMT

Must-watch video with George Lakoff on Republican framing.

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 17:43:53 GMT

I'm glad Isaiah Thomas is on the Lakers and no longer with the Cavs. For him where's the upside. With Kyrie Irving as the point guard the Cavs made it to the finals three times and won one title. So if Thomas gets the Cavs to the finals, so what. Where's the upside. With the Celtics, they had a goal. Rise to new glory. A newly reborn franchise. A worthy cause. Now he's on a reboot, where he belongs, with tons of upside and a chance to shine as a team leader instead of LeBron's sidekick. Everyone who plays alongside LeBron will have the same problem. Makes you wonder what LeBron's next move will be after this season with Cleveland, win or lose.

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:21:47 GMT

Added a small feature to my CMS. Now story pages like this one, have the publication date and time at the top of the page, just above the title. Screen shot. It's one of my pet peeves, that it's hard to tell when a story was published. The info was on my story pages, but it was in the footer, and it was the last time the page was built. Not good enough. Now you can tell when a story was written, and it's up front where it belongs.

A personal note

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:25:45 GMT

Something happened -- my mom died on Monday.

I wish I never had to write those words.

I wish I didn't have to click Publish.

To personal friends who are just finding out about this now, apologies. I got in touch with a few people personally in a very scattered way, this week. Her death was unexpected, a shock, but in a way not unexpected. She was 85, her health was in decline. She wanted to be in control of her death, and in the end she was. It didn't happen exactly the way she wanted, she died in a hospital, but it was quick, decisive, she didn't linger in decline. This was very important to her.

My mom read this blog, probably every word, and I was always aware of it, so I stayed away from taboo subjects in my family. Now that my parents and uncles and grandparents are gone, it may free me up a bit. How will I use that freedom? Maybe not at all. But I can become a broader kind of writer. There are stories to tell! ❤️

I loved my mom, deeply. I'm finding that out now in new ways. We are very much the same kind of person, and we clashed often. She was a Mets fan too (of course). We came up with the idea of Shea Stadium Rules, to remind us that we were mostly on the same side, at least for what was important.

I got my righteous indignation from her. You never wondered what her opinion was. My mom was a natural born blogger. Before there were blogs she wrote Letters to the Editor of the New York Times.

She made her city better. She made childrens' lives better. She lived her values.

Anyway, we're still here, for now. Let's make the most of it!

PS: I thought about it more, my mom was't just an NBB, she was the NBB, as far as I was concerned. When I imagined a blogger, she was who I thought of. When I said Julia Child would have been a great blogger, I was really thinking that my mom would be. I didn't want to make this stuff personal, and people already make condescending analogies about moms and tech, so I let Julia be the stand-in.

PPS: My mom was a blogger, but she was terrible at technology. She had a Mac early-on. She insisted her psychology interns and students use a computer. If they didn't she didn't want them. "Too stupid," she said. But still she never wanted to actually learn how to do it. I wanted her to take a class. Please learn how to use these tools, I said. Never happened.

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 14:29:01 GMT

Read this blog post about the insane amount of backward compatibility in Google Maps. Now ask the question of Chrome. How in god's name do you rationalize cutting off all of the open web? Go talk with the Google Maps people and tell them what you're doing. Backward compatibility isn't just a nice idea to do when you can, it's something you have to bend over backwards to do. It's respectful of your place in the world. Companies come and go, but the human race, we hope is constant. One company doesn't get to decide when we walk away from our past. That's one of the responsibilities that comes with having a market-dominant product.

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 14:32:37 GMT

Back in the day, people complained about Microsoft, but I marveled that Windows NT and XP could run the outlining software I shipped in 1984. For all I know the version of Windows they ship today still can. I don't know why they did it, but I respect that they did. And for all the evil that Microsoft heaped on the web in the early days, how they tried to cut off its air supply, and turn it into a feature of Office, deep inside there was still the heart of responsible developer. That's universal, it isn't something that becoming the biggest baddest mofo on the planet absolves you of. You still have a heart, and your shit still stinks, and you're still going to die. So let's try, all of us, to leave something behind. If we keep destroying our archives, none of the good we do can last.

McAfee security theater

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:18:42 GMT

In 2010 people who read my blog told me all of a sudden McAfee corporate anti-virus software was saying my site was evil and wouldn't let people read it. I was curious why. It's just a blog. As far as I know, there never has been software on this site that justified such a label. Here's the story. One day, I had the whole site in a folder on a local disk, and thought, why not zip this up and make it a download on the site. Maybe someday in case there's a failure on my server, in the 23rd Century perhaps, it might be nice to have a few spare copies out there. Or someone might think of something neat to do with it today. I figured there weren't too many archives that linked-out as much as mine does, that go back as far as it does. There were actually a few of these files, and a DLL for Frontier and a zip file containing Frontier 4.2.3, a long-lived release for the Mac from the mid-90s. Widely deployed. Curiously Frontier and the DLL are the files I would have been most concerned about, but they gave them a low "annoyance level." The others, which really freaked them out, were zip files containing HTML and OPML files. Obviously harmless, but you'd have to look inside the archive to see that, I guess. Here's the writeup. McAfee, on crawling my site, saw a zip file, and without looking inside, figured I was doing something bad, and kept their customers out of the whole site. When I contacted them, they said basically what Google says about HTTPS, you can get rid of the problem by getting rid of the file. I said no no thanks. I am not going to let a mindless bot tell me what I can and can't write. What comes next? Will it be considered malware to criticize the government? And will Google, next year, consider criticism of Google to be "not secure?" I'd rather not even take the first step down that slippery slope. We know how this goes. Feeling empowered, Google will want to exercise more control. AMP is a good example. I don't support that either. They took over RSS readers, and then dumped the users. Was that benign or malicious? It doesn't matter, the net-effect is the same. They are royalty and we are subjects. I know programmers get that way. I've seen it over and over. They know, without looking, better than everyone else, what's best for us. They don't. But that doesn't stop them from acting on the belief that they do. My policy: When in doubt, basic 1990s web functionality is fine for me. If they don't want to let their users read my site, that's okay. The workaround is easy. Get a different browser. 🚀 PS: McAfee apparently fixed the problem. They now say looks safe. That's right. They could have even said "It's even worse than it appears" and I would have been okay with that. Just don't say I'm malicious unless you can prove it (and you can't, I'm not). [...]

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:53:12 GMT

If HTTPS is a such great idea, there's no need to force anyone to use it, it should sell itself.

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:54:29 GMT

I chose to write software and create content for the web because there was no platform vendor who could break my software or writing. Even if HTTPS was a great idea, and worth the investment, if there was a company trying to force me to use it, I would resist. I'd rather let my software and writing disappear than submit to another corporate platform vendor. I was finished with that a long time ago. So as long as you can read Scripting News you know that the web is still basically an open and uncontrolled platform. The day you can't, you know it isn't (or Amazon S3 might be down, that's always a possibility).

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:58:01 GMT

I can even show you the moment I made the choice to write software and content for the open web. And it's also a demo of the power of the web. I can show you something I was thinking in 1994. It's going to be there as long as I pay the bills, no matter what Google does to cripple its browser. Clearly my work has no value to Google, Mozilla and the EFF. But that's not the same as it having no value. 💥

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:52:50 GMT

The openness of the open web is as important to free speech as the First Amendment. But we don't have the legal protection of the Constitution to keep the web open.

A fake news problem Facebook should address

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 03:36:35 GMT

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted a screen shot of a fake tweet. It made it appear as if Trump had said something that he had not. It had been debunked by Snopes. So I immediately posted a link to the Snopes piece, and asked my friend to remove the post. A few hours go by, another commenter says it's fake, and another says it's funny. It's already been shared a few times. I posted another comment. Please let's get this off Facebook. After a few days it's been shared more and it's still there.

It seems there ought to be a button that says this has been debunked on Snopes, and that ought to be enough to put the post in quarantine until the author shows up. And if they don't show up after a couple of days, just delete it (and all the shares please).

BTW, it's actually very easy to use a browser debugger to change the words of any tweet. For example, I can make it appear that Trump is a deadhead. I think we know for sure Trump has never sang Uncle John's Band in a tweet. 🚀

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 03:13:23 GMT

Jeff Sessions is concerned that cannabis is bad for us, but I have to say never have I seen someone so much in need of a buzz. Chill out, maybe with a vape, munchies, a Netflix movie, maybe Big Lebowski. Comfortable shoes. Takeout Chinese.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 23:07:19 GMT

I often complain about podcasts that hide their RSS feed. It's only fair to call out one for doing it well. Here's a new podcast from WNYC. Over on the left, impossible to miss, is a Subscribe button. Click it, and see a list of choices, one of which is via RSS. It links to the podcast feed, ready to subscribe to, which I have done in

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 23:01:20 GMT

One of the things I've learned is that contrary to popular belief you can make (some) people change -- if they were depending on you not changing. You have to change first. Then, too bad, they have to change too.

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:40:17 GMT

We need a name for a shiny new toy Trump gives us to take attention away from the serious damage. The military parade is just such a toy.

A massive bit-burning

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:41:20 GMT

Let's put this in stark but realistic terms. The cost of what Mozilla et al are planning is that we will lose almost all of the archives of the web. A massive bit-burning, which is just as awful as it sounds.

It's as if the pharma industry decided to delete all their records going back to the beginning of drug research. Except it isn't the industry doing it, it's a few large companies.

And the web doesn't even belong to the industry. It belongs to no one.

There's an implicit public trust with having the dominant web browser. Except the public hasn't yet understood how important and valuable that trust is. And of course the companies will take whatever they can.

My friend blogdiva calls this colonialism and I think she's right.

PS: What alerted to me how crazy this has gotten, they're talking about how to break JavaScript on non-HTTPS connections. I use JS for plenty of stuff that never touches the net.

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 17:22:31 GMT

I love how Google tells me an archive page from 2004 is not mobile-friendly. There was very little mobile in 2004.

Dries tries cross-posting

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:02:16 GMT

Dries Buytaert wrote about how he wants to cross-post from his Drupal blog to Facebook. My experience with cross-posting to silos is that it doesn't work. I wrote a comment on his post relating my experience. (No fancy tech, just copy/paste.)

  • Hi Dries -- I use Facebook and Twitter, and have no plans to stop either, but the primary place I write is my blog. I tried to make cross-posting work, for years, and finally realized it cant work, unless each of the silos want it to, and of course none of them do.
  • I also included Medium in my attempt to set up a cross-posting system.
  • I wrote this blog post when I gave up.
  • I do however mirror my linkblog to both Twitter and Facebook, and the Links tab on my blog, and its own RSS feed. I guess that's a POSSE approach. I use my own linkblogging software, Radio3.
  • That's about as good as you can get. Cross-posting blog posts imho doesn't and can't work. Links? That works.

The meaning of The Memo

Sun, 04 Feb 2018 20:10:36 GMT

Someone important in Trumpland worried about news that might make The Base worry about Trump. The purpose of The Memo was to send a huge blast of love to The Base. Everything else -- no matter.

PS: Being lied to brazenly is one of the features of Trump that The Base finds most appealing, which seems counterintuitive to non-basers.

Sun, 04 Feb 2018 01:33:35 GMT

She would make a good president.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:35:52 GMT

Read the Wirecutter review of Amazon Echo. They dismiss the privacy concerns based on its current behavior. But things are changing in the US and around the world. Democracy is on the decline. They say Alexa isn't listening until you say the code word. How do they know? And if it isn't listening today, what about tomorrow? I'd rather not have an always-on networked microphone in my house.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:38:12 GMT

Speaking of Wirecutter, how about a review of online banking systems. I use a very mediocre system, one of the biggest banks. I would happily switch, but I have no idea if any of them are better. My biggest peeve is they throw away records of transactions after six months. Why? Why shouldn't they be able to give me a year-to-year report on what I spend on various things. Isn't money one of the easiest things to improve using computers? The current system is better than it was when we paid bills with handwritten mailed checks, but it hasn't improved in ten years. That's ridiculous.

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:41:01 GMT

That said, I love Wirecutter. I buy so many things they recommend and they're all good. Next time I move I'm going to buy a new TV based on their recommendation. I also love it because a few years ago if you told the NYT that they could support journalism by making money off the things they write about that you buy they would have said Tut tut you don't understand our ethics would not permit it. Now they own Wirecutter. Haha. It's a clear signal that creative thinking is all that stands in the way of news making a good living. (Wirecutter's business model is affiliate links to the products they recommend.)