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Scripting News

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

Published: Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:29:19 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2016 17:19:48 GMT


Email fantasies

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:29:19 GMT

Nowadays when I write an email I think what will that look like if the person I'm writing to ends up running for President someday and Wikileaks gets their greedy little hands on their email. 

Never mind. Let's get back to work.

Spread the recognition

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 13:07:02 GMT

If you have a couple of hours to listen to the last two episodes of the Run-up podcast, I highly recommend it. I wrote my review in an earlier post. It's all about Trump's personality, based on audio interviews conducted two years ago, before he was running for president. No surprises, exactly, but some blank areas filled in. 

Many people, not everyone, feel as Trump does. Not enough recognition for my contributions. The key is to realize other people feel this way, not just you. And you can be their source of recognition. Spread a little happiness. Just recognize someone. "I see you," or some variant of that.

I know that many people feel too miserable to do that. "I can't recognize someone else until I myself am recognized." But it doesn't actually work that way. The surprise you'll feel when you say something kind, at random, is actually a great form of recognition.

Remember, each of us is a community of voices inside. The place we're searching for love is in that community, basically inside ourselves. But you can ease those voices into self-acceptance, by simply accepting others, and in doing so help your set an example for your internal voices.

Once, when I was picking discussion leaders for a conference my boss asked if I knew that I would be helping people's careers by giving them such an honor. I remember being surprised at this. It had never occurred to me that I had that power. I imagined then that there were many times I had the power, but just didn't realize it. 

When I wrote the You Are Many Voices piece, a correspondent wrote back (link is long-gone, sorry) that he has that too, but the voices all get together when he plays music. I get that! Music is amazing that way

Trump, in his own words

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 19:45:10 GMT

Michael Barbaro at the New York Times got access to a set of audio interviews in 2014 with Donald Trump, his ex-wife Ivana and his kids. 

It was presented in a two-part Run-up podcast. 

It's totally worth a listen with the caveat that some of it is cringe-worthy. 

In some ways Trump seems normal to me, for a guy raised in Queens in the 50s. But not all guys from Queens end up running for President after hosting a hit reality TV show, and all the other things Trump has done. 

Some of the judgements by the commentators are pretty harsh and condescending. But some, especially near the end of the second part, are insightful. 

There hasn't been anything else like this. I wonder if they're going to make the source audio available. It seems like a good idea. 

About the new story pages

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:13:22 GMT

I have been working on my blog, Scripting News, since its inception.

There's always a hole being dug somewhere, and I whip through the home page and the stories on the home page, really quickly and move on to the next thing. I return to the home page a few years later, again very fast before jumping off to the other thing that's on my list. The many other things on my list. ;-)

But for the last couple of years, when I'd get back to the blog after digging other holes, I've been moving more slowly, and lingering longer. As a result the tools I have for editing the site are ideal. Really nice for the writer. I owe some of the inspiration to Facebook, which has a great JavaScript-based editor in their web interface. I think I've gone a number of steps beyond that. 

Anyway I got a nice bit of feedback from Vitor Miranda da Conceição on my Facebook page about the design work on Scripting News and thought it would be a good time to ask for any other comments or feedback on the new interface. I'm not stopping here, but I'm also not sure exactly where I'm going next. 

The constant motto of this site is and will be as long as I'm working..

Still diggin!

Obama on the warpath, now?

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 15:18:34 GMT

It's nice to see President Obama take the gloves off and tell the truth about what's been going on in Washington in very stark terms. 

But why did he wait so long?

What exactly did he have to lose?

I came across a video from the 2012 election yesterday where he did spell it out, he didn't name the right-wing pundits, Limbaugh et al, who control the Repubs, but he did show their faces in a cartoon.

Anyway, this raises the next question.

Did he negotiate with them? Did he try? Did he invite them to a meeting at the White House to discuss policy? If not, why? Afraid to go over the heads of the Republican leaders in Congress? I think they made it pretty clear early-on there was nothing to lose in doing that. 

One of the things he said in the video which is still true today is that there is a remarkable confluence of economics that pretty much solves all the problems that Trump has taken advantage of in this election.

1. Unemployment in manufacturing jobs in the US.

2. Low interest rates.

3. Need for infrastructure investment.

If you laid it out to Limbaugh et al, sought their opinions, as galling as it might be to do so, perhaps that would help break the logjam? Offer them jobs consulting with the new Department of Infrastructure. It's a sort of bribery of course, but relative to the benefit for the economy the price is small. (I can't imagine Al Sharpton would like it though.)

Anyway, assuming this never happened, perhaps Hillary Clinton, if she is elected, can reach out to them. Also the Koch's and Shelley Adelson too. And the billionaire hedge fund guy who's backing Trump. The worst they can do is say no.

To the purists who say you can't do business with these guys, you're wrong. You have to. They have power. If you want to get something done, they can help or hurt. We've had plenty of presidents come to Washington saying they're going to "drain the swamp." This is not a new idea. They always fail. You can pretend that it was possible they wouldn't but it's not.

Why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:58:46 GMT

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I was driving on Santa Cruz Ave in Menlo Park. Listening to NPR. They were interviewing a woman. She was talking about education, health care, national politics. Deeply intelligent. She spoke clearly, and it wasn't the usual spin, she was telling the truth. A very rare commodity in my experience. 

I wondered who it was. 

I got to my destination, a supermarket on University Drive, and waited in the parking lot until they identified her. It was Hillary Clinton. I was surprised.

Until that point I had a negative opinion of her, as many people do today. I don't want to say what I thought, it's a case study in snap judgement, coming to conclusions based on appearance, gender, the voices in my head acting out a movie for my entertainment and distraction. 

This isn't just about Clinton, or politics, it's a reminder to fact-check your impressions. Why do you feel that way about someone? How connected is the way you feel to who they really are?

The value of listening. Really hearing what someone is saying. Quieting the voices in my head rushing to judgement. Shhh. I'm busy listening. 

There was a flaw in my process. I remembered that years later when I supported her opponent in 2008. Don't underestimate Hillary Clinton. She's not what she seems to be. 

Why am I voting for Hillary Clinton on November 8? 

I want that person I was listening to on the radio in 1995 to be thinking about what we can do better in the US and around the world, and empowered to lead us there.

She has my support. Even if her opponent weren't so grossly inadequate, I still would be supporting Hillary Clinton. 

A quick note about ObamaCare

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 15:24:40 GMT

ObamaCare needs tweaks and updates, it is an ambitious program, but the Dems had two years to get it designed and passed through Congress, all while getting a stimulus through Congress to try to reboot the economy.

As soon as the Repubs took control of the House, it all came to a halt.

ObamaCare needs updates. Nothing has happened. It has remained frozen for six years. As soon as Congress and the president get together to update it, it'll be working better. It still works well. 

I am an ObamaCare user, who was very hard to insure before it. I pay my premiums, unsubsidized. I need health insurance. 

I don't like that Repubs have turned this into a political game. My health is my life. That's fucked up, and the more people understand that, the more real our elections will be.

Please help spread the message. As citizens we have no upside in throwing out ObamaCare, and it needs to be worked on. Thanks.

Journalism in 2016

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:44:49 GMT

I'm as surprised as anyone at how powerful journalism has been in this election season. They seem to control how the mood swings in the country. I think they could probably make it so one candidate wins and the other loses. Is that rigging? Yes, I think it is. 

I agree with many of the things they say about rigged elections. But I don't think it was a secret, so if you entered the race in 2015, thinking you'd run for president, you don't get to call a do-over just because it is what it obviously was. That's bad sportsmanship. We wouldn't tolerate it in the NFL or NBA, why should we put up with it in politics?

Social media mirrors what's said on TV

On social media, a lot of what you see are just rehashes of what's said on the cable news talk shows. And they just rehash the same talking points over and over. Someone should make a list of them. Basic common-sense ideas that people say to fill the time. It feels at times like its an opera, with each singer asked to sing a part at various times by the conductor, Chris Matthews or John Dickerson or Rachel Maddow.

I guess that's journalism? Seems it fits the basic definition. It's not imho good journalism, but that isn't the point. (It's not good because questions that concern voters often don't get asked, just questions that concern insiders. Which causes all discourse, even among voters, to center on insider issues.)

What is journalism?

Then you have to ask the obvious question -- what is journalism? Here goes..

You can look at journalism as a process that yields a result. It begins with an interest or a question. Are young blacks voting for Hillary? Find young black people, ask them. Get expert opinions -- talk to pollsters and sociologists. All the time you're doing searches, read what people say on Twitter or their blogs. Write it all up, edit it, add pictures, maybe a video, give it a title, hit Publish. Feedback. Corrections. A process that yields a result, the mechanics of journalism.

Of course journalism is also a set of ethical rules. If you have an interest in the topic you're writing about, disclose it. Include context so you reflect not only what the person said, but also their intent. Never include something you know to be false without saying so. 

PS: This piece was inspired by a passionate essay in New York Mag about "citizen journalism." I think the author is correct, but the amateurs are doing it the way the pros do it. 

Black Jeopardy on SNL

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:26:24 GMT

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Wirecutter + NYT is a good idea

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:12:16 GMT

Good for the NYT buying Wirecutter instead of making their own.

I am a big fan of Wirecutter. When they say this is the best keyboard or router, I very often buy it, sight-unseen. The Bluetooth headphones they recommended are my favorite. I've bought a second pair (the first was spoiled in a rainstorm) and get them as gifts for friends. They really are that good and are also a good deal

I view Wirecutter as my gadget-savvy friend. I have one in real-life, David Jacobs, who started the Fetish column in the early days of Wired. When you know someone who knows what's good and can tell you why, just do what they say. It's a way of benefiting from their know-how without having to attain it yourself. 

I feel the same way about NYT reviews. If a movie gets a Critic's Choice from the Times, I go see it. Even if I end up not liking the movie, and that does happen, I still feel it's interesting to see how my point of view differed from theirs. 

If they got a cut from the sale of a movie ticket, I have no problem with that. I am pretty confident that their recommendation would be the same, either way -- as I am confident in Wirecutter. And it's good because it helps flow cash through the NYT and the readers know that, but as long as they're finding you good products, this is exactly the kind of stuff you like to pay for.

And maybe along the line, their editors will discover niches where there should be products, but aren't. It's good to write those things up too, and some of them could be projects the NYT Co could invest in. 

If you're gathering the best information first, that can have a lot of benefits, beyond getting people to pay for subscriptions. 

It's good to see the Times find other businesses that make more sense online than they did in print. Wirecutter and the things that follow from it are certainly one example of such a business.

Dave The Blogger

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:25:29 GMT

A few days ago I realized I could change my name on Twitter without blowing anything up. I had sort of been aware of this feature, but had too many other things swirling through my mind to consider changing it.

My first change was simple: Dave The Blogger. It was an instant hit. 

Then the next day: Dave the Bad Hombre. 

But then I liked Dave The Blogger again, and so it is now. 

I like it because:

It's simple and friendly.

I am a blogger, and have been for a long time!

What blogging is has been muddied-up by reporters who decided they were bloggers. Then they decided blogging was over, which really means they realized they were journalists, and not bloggers, even though they never properly asked the question of what a blogger actually is. (It's never too late, and it's important.)

Since no one else wants it, I decided to claim it myself.

Which could result in the Tom Sawyer effect, which imho would be a Good Thing for blogging. Win-win!

No guarantees I won't be something else soon. Halloween is coming up after all! :-)

PS: The big controversy is going to be is the word the in the title capitalized or not? To confuse you I have done it both ways in this post! Haha.

The photos are back

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:07:20 GMT

I love photos on blog posts, but the content management side of it is vexing. It has to be something I'll use. And the pictures have to show up in the preview of the story on Twitter and Facebook, and other places that pull the metadata we embed in our stories for those two services.

A few weeks ago, I made the metadata for each story user-editable, and to my surprise, I actually keep up with it.  So now it was disappointing when you see this clever or snarky or beautiful picture in Facebook but it doesn't appear on the story when you view it on my site. 

So I decided it was time to fix that. 

Now they show up at the top of the page. 

Let's see if people like it as much as I do. ;-)

Thoughts of a Mets fan

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 03:31:44 GMT

Mets fans aren't dicks, so congrats to the Cubs. Okay I said it.

And there is the consolation of knowing the Dodgers lost. That was the silver lining of this year's NLCS. Either the Cubs lost or the Dodgers lost. Either way that's pretty good you know.

So while everyone else is saying how cool it is that the Cubs won, and the curse is over etc, as a Mets fan, well if the Cubs win the World Series the one team we have looked down on for the entire existence of our team, up till now, well, I guess it'll be hard to do that. But Mets fans are resourceful. We'll probably figure out a way to do it anyway.

Our motto used to be that the Mets only really need two other teams. The Cubs so we have someone to beat in the regular season and the Red Sox so we have someone to beat in the World Series. Well, we know what happened with the Red Sox and the Curse of their Whatever, geez so much drama, and now we have to suffer the humiliation of seeing the fucking Cubs in the World Series. Honestly, I enjoyed last year's postseason more. 

I'll watch the World Series, and it's hard to imagine that I'll root for the Indians, they are after all an American League team and we all know the American League is not a real league. But I don't really think I'll be able to root for the Cubs. I think they'll understand, and they probably won't even give a shit. I wouldn't if I were them. 


Thiel buying Twitter?

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 15:26:29 GMT

There's a story out there that Peter Thiel is forming a group to buy Twitter, making their offer as early as next week. 

Bid for Twitter by a new coalition backed by Peter Thiel won't come before Q3'16 earnings results on Oct 27, sources say.

That's astonishing

Thiel sued Gawker out of existence.

Spoke in support of Trump at the RNC.

Gave $1.25 million to the Trump campaign.

This could be part of Trump's post-election network strategy. Buying Twitter would be a brilliant move. In this context you shouldn't value Twitter as tech properties are generally valued. It's like CNN before the first Gulf War. It's where news makers go to make news. It has no peer, and with network effects, it could be a monopoly for quite some time. To have Thiel in control of that is a very bad deal for everyone who doesn't share his politics. The Gawker suit is all the evidence you need of that. 


I don't know who Kontra is, but he has a fair number of followers.

DHH takes the rumor seriously. 

Here's what I wrote about Thiel being on Facebook's board. 

Obviously Thiel owning Twitter is even more serious. 

PS: Ville Vainio observes "He could just do it as a revenge, again."

Imagine if we designed the ads the net shows to us

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 14:21:23 GMT

My longtime friend Doc Searls has a vision, one that I fully endorse, of turning the tables on vendors, in an interesting way.They talk about Customer Relationship Management, which views the world from the vendor's perspective. Doc proposes Vendor Relationship Management, which is a similar idea, but designed from the customer's point of view.In the CRM view, the vendor creates the products and then sells them to targeted customers. You end up being pitched on things you already have or things you don't want. Occasionally they hit the bulls eye and offer you something you really want. But that doesn't happen often. 3D printing is an example of Doc's VRM idea. The vendor provides the means of manufacturing, you specify exactly what you want. The product is created, sent to you, and theoretically you're happy and the vendor makes a profit. But it depends on the customer becoming a product designer. I might not want to do that. I might just want the perfect product and am willing to pay for someone else, an expert, to design it for me. Responsive advertisingA more satisfying version of VRM goes like this.I am watching a lot of TV these days, with the election and World Series, and the NBA season starting on Tuesday. I like my couch, but since I'm spending so much time on it, maybe it could be optimized. Or maybe I could add a new piece of furniture specifically for TV watching. How this works in the post-VRM world: I find a way to express the desire, and make it available to vendors, either making it public or putting it somewhere the vendors I've authorized can access. Their bots scan all the requests as they come online, decide if they have a product that might fit the bill. If so, they send me a proposal, otherwise known as an ad. But it's different from the ads we have today, it's responsive, to borrow a term from web design. They know what I'm looking for, because I told them, and it can present itself to me in that context.ExamplesOther things I would put in my VRM outbox --I'm always thinking about a new place to live, here's what I'm dreaming about now. A place where I can afford a house with a hot tub and a pool, reasonably close to a major airport and at least one good university. Good bike riding. Nearby friends. Also if you find any AirBnB-type rentals in such a place, let me know, because it'd be great to try it out before doing something more permanent. I'm tired of the usual computer conferences. I don't want to pick up a new skill, or meet programmers, or venture capitalists. I'm interested in academic-style conferences about the convergence of news and technology. Or a conference about creating online spaces for reasonable people in red states and blue states to discuss the issues of the day in a civilized manner. I don't mind meeting other programmers and investors in that context, btw. I am tall, but my legs are average size. I have a very large torso. I have trouble finding a good fall or spring jacket that fits. No problem in summer (no jacket needed) or winter, (bulky jackets are fine). It's that inbetween season that's awkward. Send me a catalog of choices. I have newly configured vision. I have yet to find reading glasses that work well for computer use. I know there are people with experience with this, are there any vendors who specialize in such products?These are just examples meant to illustrate the idea. I think when this idea is fully realized it'll feel something like a search engine combined with email-based alerts. And because it's centered on commerce, on money changing hands, there should be plenty of investor money available. Yet I don't see any evidence that investm[...]

Planning for post-war America

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:23:51 GMT

Let's figure out how to use online systems to create some kind of useful collegial communication across red-state/blue-state lines. 

Citizen-to-citizen. No professional politicians, no media, no campaigners. People who have different views about issues like abortion, the deficit, jobs, culture, even race and gender. The thing we have in common is the ability to listen, and appreciate that there are many valid points of view, and we are willing to compromise. We know that in a country that's so large and diverse, no one gets everything they feel they're entitled to. None of us are trying to get everything for ourselves. 

Maybe something like the UN after World War II. Right after you fight a war, plant the seeds to help lessen the chance of a new one at least for a few years. Learn the lessons of war. Take steps to foster discussion and listening. 

There are people in red states and blue states who aren't trying to make a point, to prove something, to achieve total victory -- people who see a bigger picture, that we're one country, and that you have to practice to be one.

SYO update

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 14:47:52 GMT

A status report on the rebooted Share Your OPML project. 

I updated the feedlist.json file, but this is the last time that file will be updated, if you've built something that depends on it, you should transition to the next version, see below.

New file -- syo.json includes stats, when the file was generated, how many feeds are in the feed list, and a version number, so this file can be updated without breakage. 

BTW, I'm doing this work in Frontier, which is faster than JavaScript for this kind of work.

At this point the flow of new OPML files has slowed to a trickle. I'm going to leave this here for a while and see what happens.

When people show you who they are, believe them

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 03:05:27 GMT

If Trump doesn't respect the voters before he's in office, what's the chance he'd let an election vote him out.

What's wrong with Hinderaker?

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:14:15 GMT

I had dinner with John Hinderaker at a Harvard blogging conference in 2005. He seemed like a nice guy, and even though our politics at that time were opposite, I thought it was nice that we got along.

Over the years however he has gone more and more off the deep end. If he has any knowledge or intelligence, he's suppressing it. I guess it's a business model?

I let it slide, there are a lot of jerks in right wing blogging. But this howler on his site got me thinking. Like a lot of others in right wing media, he's comparing the recount in Florida in the 2000 election with the 2016 election.

There is no comparison. Gore didn't contest the results of the election, everyone did. I can say that with some authority because I voted Republican in that election. I wanted Bush to win. And I remember the torture leading up to the Supreme Court decision, which we all felt, not just Gore. And I applauded him when he conceded, saying he took one for the country.

That race hinged on which way Florida went, and it was a virtual tie. A few hundred votes either way made the difference. And there were enough voting irregularities in that election so that the outcome was in question.

Nothing like that has happened in this election. For crying out loud we haven't even had the election yet! 

Where Gore showed grace, Trump is putting his own greed ahead of our democracy. He is the opposite of grace. He's not taking one for the country, he's forcing the country to take one for him. So what if we have a 240-year tradition of peaceful transfers of power. Anything to keep himself in the news. Even shitting on the continuity of our government. 

I wonder what it will take to get the Hinderakers of the world to sober up. Do they get that Trump is a puppet for the Russian govt? If he wins we will be a toy for Putin to play with? We're the greater country John, by far. Why do you support such a midget of a man for president in his hour of maximum despair? What makes you so desperate?

Look I'm not saying you should support Clinton, but how can you support someone in his undermining of our democratic legacy? Is it really his to trash? Is that what you really want? Why?

A VR computer monitor?

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:30:39 GMT

Is there such a thing as a VR computer monitor?

If so it might solve a real problem for me.

It's a long story, but because one of my eyes has an artificial lens, I now have to wear a contact lens in the other eye. 

I know there are progressive lenses but I haven't gotten a prescription that works for me.

As a result I have to wear glasses while I use the computer and to read.

But my vision when reading the computer screen is awful. Blurry, I see double at times. No matter how I turn my head I can't get a good look at what's on the screen. It's demoralizing. Makes writing harder. Reading is much harder.

On the other hand, my normal not-reading vision is much better.

I don't know if I'm ever going to get the right reading glasses or get a progressive contact lens that works.

All of this is preamble for the question.

Can I get a pair of goggles that can be hooked up to my Mac's video, and give me a clear, adjustable view of my computer screen? Adjustable in the sense that I can vary the correction, like switching between 1-strength reading glasses, to 2 or 2.5 or whatever.

If they weren't too cumbersome, I would use it to read on my iPad too.

Hopefully this question makes sense.

What does FiveThirtyEight's number mean?

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:40:02 GMT

I've been following the FiveThirtyEight  polls-plus number through the summer and into the fall. My mood goes up and down with the percentage chance that Hillary Clinton will win. 

I've always wondered what exactly does the number mean?

Look at it this way. If the polls accurately measure people's votes, then there is zero probability that she will lose, because the votes add up to enough electoral votes to win the election. 

So why is there a non-zero chance of her winning? What could happen that would cause her to lose if the chance of winning is accurate at approx 84 percent?

I gave this some thought and listened to Tuesday's edition of the Run-up podcast and came up with this way of expressing it.

The polls do not accurately measure people's votes. 

Here are some ways errors are introduced.

  • Pollsters don't weigh demographics accurately. They make assumptions about what percentage of voters will be white or black; Hispanic or Asian; college-educated or not; rural, urban or suburban; rich, middle-class or poor, etc. Those assumptions are wrong. That's a fact. How wrong? That's part of the uncertainty.
  • People don't always tell the truth. The Bradley Effect. They tell the pollster something that makes them feel good about themselves (I'm voting for Mother Teresa) but in the end they vote for someone bad (Adolf Hitler).
  • People change their minds. Something happens, a new leaked email shows that Hillary has a nasty habit that we think is awful and disqualifies her. Or Trump turns out to be a sexual predator (oops that's already factored in). 
  • Who is likely to vote? A poll respondent who isn't going to vote won't be part of the result, but they might be counted in the polling. You can't simply take them at their word. How should you weigh that?

The statisticians at FiveThirtyEight know about these errors, based on past experience with polling vs actual elections, and have theories about how much they affect the outcome. And that's weighed against how close it is. If 9 of every 10 respondents say they are going to vote for Clinton, no matter how big the errors are, they're going to say she's got a near-lock on the election. Not much chance the errors could be so big as to turn that kind of polling into a losing result. On the other hand if it's just 6 of 10 then the errors matter a lot and the election becomes a tossup, "within the margin of error," a pollster might say.

So when they say it's an 84 percent likely Clinton win, that means the numbers overwhelmingly say she's going to win, enough to give the statistician a lot of confidence in the prediction. How much? 84 percent. Heh.

David Bunnell

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:05:16 GMT

Today, sad news that David Bunnell died yesterday at 69.

My thoughts.. When when he ran the PC and Mac news mags he was accessible. And he helped small developers like my company, Living Videotext. I got to know him better, personally, when I lived in Berkeley a few years back. He was of my generation in the tech industry. The milestones in his career correspond to milestones in mine. When the PC was new we read his PC Mag and PC World. The day the Mac came out there were copies of his MacWorld Magazine on every seat. It's a very sad day for those of us who knew Dave.

A personal space invasion

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 19:48:53 GMT

I have a small inkling of what it must be like to be a woman in a world of grabby entitled men, because of a near-miss I had on my bike last summer.

I was riding downhill on the west side of Manhattan, toward the Hudson River, which is one of my regular rides. A car weaves in and out of the bike lane in front of me and forces me to hit the brakes to avoid getting hit by him. This is a dangerous move, if you brake too hard you go over the handlebars. Not a good thing, it happened to me a couple of years ago and I was in bed for a week. Lots of blood. 

But I didn't go down, and continued west till I came to a red light and I could see the car that cut me off waiting for the light. As I passed I tapped his window and said he cut me off, very loudly so he and everyone else could hear. This is the kind of loop-close you dream of. Usually the cars just speed away and you're left with all that anger and adrenaline in your blood and nothing to do with it.

So I pull up about four car lengths in front of him and wait for the light to change. I hear him getting out of the car, and I think oh shit what if he's a big guy, but I see he's not. He's a little creepy dude. 

As he approaches, he pulls a familiar west coast passive-hostile line. 

"Why all the aggression?" 

Deep breath. I said firmly "Because you almost killed me." 

"Oh I get it. I have all this metal around me, and your bumper is your skeleton, so I'm sorry I almost killed you." He gets back in the car and we're all okay.

But that isn't what happened.


He said "I want to give you a hug." 

To which I thought, my god a hug is the absolute last thing I want from this piece of shit. I want him to implode and disappear from the face of the earth, or at least get back in his fucking car. But he comes and hugs me. What can I do? Strangle him? I'd go to jail. So I had to let this piece of shit do his thing. And the whole ride and the rest of the day I couldn't get this ugly feeling of having been invaded by something vile and corrupt. 

And that was just an unwanted hug. 

I don't want to even think what it would be like if it was more than that. And yes, I had the option at any time of snapping his neck, an option most women don't have. 

So I have a small idea, a very small idea of how awful it can be.

How I feel about Google re RSS

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:17:19 GMT

Imagine that a big banking firm has a corporate event in Central Park. They not only trash the place, but they leave behind such a mess that the park isn't usable again for at least ten years. It's possible it may never recover.

Now no one told the bank they had to have their outing in the common space. They could have bought their own land and trashed that instead. 

That's how Google used and then walked away from RSS. We're trying, slowly, to clean up after them, the best we can. And they keep digging out the foundation underneath us. 

To create such a mess and then just leave as if it has no responsibility to clean up after itself, I think eventually we will understand that that is corporate narcissism in the spirit of Exxon and Enron. Goldman Sachs and AIG.

It seems so crazy for Google of all companies to trash open infrastructure on the net. It seems their whole business depends on it.

Small versions of Facebook or Twitter

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:10:58 GMT

In the old days Steve Jobs used to talk about personal computers being like fractional horsepower motors. 

The kind of thing you'd use to create an air conditioner or lawn mower, for example. A Mac was like that, but for computers.

We had much success a few years back with the idea of a fractional horsepower HTTP server.

And we can do the same for social media server.

They're interesting things!

I'm playing around with one such community at Join us there at 9PM Eastern tonight to watch the final presidential debate, share your observations in real time.

The technology is nothing revolutionary, but it is easy, both to use and to set up as a server. It may not be the final toolkit, but it's on the path. If there's a next one it will be even easier. 

Facebook doesn't have an exclusive on easy-to-author content management. And the cool thing is, if I create my own we don't need to accept their limits on what we can do with it. I'm thinking of the basics of the web -- linking, styles, titles and podcasts. Essential features that Facebook refuses to support for users. Unacceptable.

And Twitter? Well the 140-char limit is, for me, also unacceptable. There are so many things I can't post to Twitter because I won't hack up my writing to fit into such a small space. You may be a better writer than I am, but I am me, and ideas coming out of my head have to flow through my writing interface. So I'm experiencing a long-term inability to communicate, thanks to Twitter. Again, unacceptable. Finally it's time to do something about it. 

As I like to say..

Still diggin!



PS: Summary: 9PM Eastern,, debate watch party.