Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Counterfeit Amazon

More than 90% of ‘genuine’ Apple chargers & cables sold on Amazon are fake, says Apple. Finally. Sold “Direct from Amazon” mind you.

Apple is suing the manufacturer but, curiously, not Amazon. I wonder if that settlement will be out of court — and not necessarily monetary. This has been going on for a long time…

I do hope Amazon will pay for this — one way or another. They ripped off a lot of people.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to give believers an exit from a cause gone bad

How do you give someone who has committed themselves to a bad cause a way out? You don’t do it by beating on how stupid they are …

From How to Build an Exit Ramp for Trump Supporters (Deepak Malhotra)

  1. Don’t force them to defend their beliefs … you will be much more effective if you encourage people to reconsider their perspective without saying that this requires them to adopt yours.
  2. Provide information, and then give them time … change doesn’t tend to happen during a heated argument.  It doesn’t happen immediately.
  3. Don’t fight bias with bias … the one thing you can’t afford to lose if you want to one day change their mind: their belief about your integrity.  They will not acknowledge or thank you for your even-handedness at the time they’re arguing with you, but they will remember and appreciate it later, behind closed doors.  And that’s where change happens.
  4. Don’t force them to choose between their idea and yours. … you will be much more effective if you encourage people to reconsider their perspective without saying that this requires them to adopt yours.  
  5. Help them save face…. have we made it safe for them to change course?  How will they change their mind without looking like they have been foolish or naïve?  
  6. Give them the cover they need. Often what’s required is some change in the situation—however small or symbolic—that allows them to say, “That’s why I changed my mind.” … For most people, these events are just “one more thing” that happened, but don’t underestimate the powerful role they can play in helping people who, while finally mentally ready to change their position, are worried about how to take the last, decisive step.
  7. Let them in. If they fear you will punish them the moment they change their mind, they will stick to their guns until the bitter end.  This punishment takes many forms, from taunts of “I told you so” to being labeled “a flip-flopper” to still being treated like an outsider or lesser member of the team by those who were “on the right side all along.” This is a grave mistake.  If you want someone to stop clinging to a failing course of action or a bad idea, you will do yourself a huge favor if you reward rather than punish them for admitting they were wrong…You have to let them in and give them the respect they want and need just as much as you.

If you’re a Vikings fan feuding with your brother-in-law from Green Bay feel free the break all these rules. If you’re worried about the future of civilization you might try this instead.

For #5, saving face, look for something they could have been right about. To a climate changer denier, agree that solar output varies. To a Trump follower, agree that the bleak future of the non-college adult wouldn’t have gotten attention without his focus.

I’m adding this recipe to the Notes collection I carry on my phone.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cumberland Wisconsin is peculiar

On a meandering drive home from a northern Wisconsin bike race I passed through the town of Cumberland Wisconsin.

It’s in the middle of nowhere.

Screen Shot 2016 10 10 at 10 33 20 AM

It’s a pretty town. Too pretty. Like something out of a Stepford Town movie. What’s going on with Cumberland?

The wikipedia article is what a small town (2,300 people) article should be — it reads as though it were put together by a local school. There are a few items that stood out for me…

… 34.2% German, 24.7% Norwegian, 14.1% Italian, 10.3% Irish, 9.6% Swedish and 8.2% English …

… 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals …

… median income for a household in the city was $32,661, and the median income for a family was $41,612… 

They have a fancy Carnegie library. From the history …

 … After the railroad began to operate, settlers quickly arrived in the area and by 1884 there were 24 saloons located in the area … In February 1893, the state board of health sent a representative to set up a quarantine on the Italian settlement due to unsanitary conditions … In April [1895], telephone lines were also erected in the city limits…  On March 15, 1905 a $10,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie established a Carnegie Library in Cumberland …

How common were telephone lines in 1895? Why did they gets such a big Carnegie donation in 1905? Does all this have anything to do with the what lives at the bottom on the lake?

Thursday, October 06, 2016

iPad High School: 1 out of 3 students return their iPad agreement

My daughter attends an urban high school. I think it is minority white (she’s not white).

Her school has a mixed reputation. It’s effectively segregated into an intensely academic non-black cohort and a low achievement largely black cohort. Students assaulted teachers at least twice last year.

The school distributes iPads to students. They are supposedly essential but half-way through the first semester they have yet to appear. The digital textbooks [1] the students use are designed for laptop use, they are not optimized for iPad use.

My daughter gets a lot of homework. It’s really too much, but the parents of the elite students are tigerish. Much of her homework requires an internet connection. Even assignments that could, for example, be done on a TI Calculator are better done using Desmos or Wolfram Alpha. Since the iPads haven’t been distributed yet her homework also requires a computer and thus WiFi service. And, of course, that internet connection with working WiFi.

At this school only 1/3 of the student body have bothered to return a signed document required to bring an iPad home. An iPad that, if one lacks WiFi service, is basically an expensive, fragile, and easily stolen doorstop.

This is not going well.

We need free universal urban net access. We can’t make this educational effort work without it. It doesn’t have to be high bandwidth. It doesn’t have to support high resolution video or allow YouTube access. It does have to be universal and free.

For now students would be better served by spending the iPad money on used older edition paper textbooks.

- fn -

[1] Want to give your child a large academic advantage? Order the low cost used paper textbooks from Amazon. Immensely better usability.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Why Trump? Blame the Vermont Teddy Bear company.

Why Trump rather than, say, Rubio?

To a first approximation, the globalization and technology driven collapse of the white non-college male, channeled by AM talk radio.

AM Talk radio which exists so advertisers can sell things to its audience. 

So who advertises for, say, Sean Hannity?

Which advertisers do business with Sean Hannity? |

Advertisers who do business with Sean Hannity include the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, Mozy, Tax Defense Partners, Legal Zoom and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

There you go. It’s all the fault of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

(Seriously, who really funds Sean Hannity?)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Amazon Household and Audible account sharing: these can't both be right

What is Family Library Sharing?

Family Library Sharing allows you to share your Amazon and Audible audiobooks with the other members of your Amazon Household. As an Audible member, this means you will be able to share any audiobooks in your library with the other member of your Amazon Household.


What is Amazon Household?

Amazon Household is a feature that allows you to share your Amazon/Audible content and your payment methods with another Amazon account, while still maintaining your own account’s security and privacy….

Note: At this time, you cannot share your Audible Membership Benefits in a Amazon Household. In addition, you cannot share audiobooks with child profiles.

“a Amazon”. 

Revenge of RSS: Google returns to blogs and feeds.

Remember when Google killed Google Reader Shares? October 31, 2011. RSS had been ailing for years by then. Google Reader shut down a couple of years later, by June of 2013 I’d settled on my still current favorite - Feedbin.

Google killed Google Reader in favor of the horribly named G+ (did they learn nothing from Prince’s glyph?). G+ and its proprietary subscription/notification protocol lasted about two years. Twitter dropped its RSS support. Now Twitter is dying. Only Facebook was able to make a proprietary subscription-notification system work. Quietly Google’s core blogs continued to operate in the background.

Today Google fully returned to the RSS blog. Yes, that little box in the top right says “RSS Feed” (not, incidentally, “Atom” feed).

Screen Shot 2016 09 30 at 10 17 27 AM

I’m looking forward to seeing their new feed reader.

See also:

How does the world look to Trump's core supporters?

Set aside the neo-Klan-Nazi minority. Set aside the truly despicable - Coulter, Hannity, Falwell and the like. Forget the hell-spawn who think only of their personal wealth.

Think about the white non-college male voter:

… Trump’s fortunes rest on his core supporters, white men who lack a four-year college degree … He leads Clinton among them by 76-17 percent, an enormous 59-point advantage. That’s widened from 40 points early this month; it’s a group Mitt Romney won by 31 points -- half Trump’s current margin -- in 2012.

Whatever happens with this election, that 60% gap is a staggering fact.

How does the world look like to these non-college white men of the 4th quintile?

I have limited exposure to this cohort. A few Facebook friends — but they don’t post much about Trump. A family member with a cognitive disability claims to like Trump. That’s about it.

I need a journalist-anthropologist to falsify my story. I can’t help imagining a story though. It goes like this …

  • I have no hope of a secure economic future with savings, stable employment, good healthcare benefits and a pension.
  • I have limited marriage opportunities. I really miss the patriarchy. I feel that in my bones.
  • I watch Fox. I can understand it. Fox approves of me. Nobody else cares what happens to me.
  • I don’t understand economics, but I’ve lived through the past ten years. I’ve heard a lot of broken promises. Maybe nobody understands economics. Maybe the people who understand economics are lying to me. I definitely don’t understand borrowing from a wealthier future.
  • I don’t like academics.
  • I don’t care about the damned polar bears. I like warm weather. I don’t like bugs. I like motors and pavement. I don’t care about CO emissions.
  • I watch reality cop shows, where every criminal is a black man. I directly encounter crime and it’s always black men. I am afraid of black men. [1]
  • I don’t have a lot to lose.

None of this is going to go away. If we want to keep civilization going we need to give this cohort hope.

See also:

- fn -

[1] As a pedestrian and cyclist I am far more likely to be injured or killed by a white woman on a phone than a black man. FWIW.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Apple is planning to eliminate many iOS parental controls over next year?

This sound like quite bad if true (emphases mine) …

SimpleMDM | iOS 10 MDM Enhancements To Expect

… Apple plans to deprecate some non-supervised restrictions at some point, though not immediately, in the iOS 10 series. The restrictions slated for deprecation are:

Disable App installation and removal
Disable FaceTime
Disable Siri
Disable Safari
Disable iTunes
Prohibit explicit content
Disable iCloud documents and data
Disable multiplayer gaming
Disable adding GameCenter friends

These restrictions will become available only for supervised devices.

The result would be to make iOS devices like Android devices — restrictions require a mobile device management solution (schools and businesses, also packaged for home use).

The only way this could be a net positive for parents (and those who care for special needs and vulnerable adults) would be if Apple were to add supervision capabilities to iCloud.

I’m going to look for more information on this.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Maciej's Pinboard is a contender for longest lived microblog platform.

Twitter is racing to the grave. Google social is almost as forgotten as Apple’s flails.

Maciej Cegłowski's Pinboard though, that continues.

Title, Link, Comment, Tag — all editable forever. RSS everywhere. No comments (no trolls), no images, no ads. Cash supported - $11 a year [1]. No obvious string length limit. Common API and bookmarklet support. XML, JSON, and Netscape Bookmark export formats and API for programmatic transfer. Minimalistic mobile support because that's for apps.

Almost a perfect microblog foundation — save that it requires a unique link for each post. [2]

Privately held by a brilliant iconoclast (eccentric?) with atypical values. Maciej has a regular cash stream, seems uninterested in further growth, does no marketing, and his ongoing costs decrease as storage and processing costs fall. He is unlikely to sell or terminate prematurely. Pinboard’s longevity is largely bounded by the health of a male born in 1976 who enjoys travel, is probably a non-smoker, and knows the bus will be fine.  Another 30 years seems achievable. Even Wordpress is unlikely to last that long.

Pinboard may become the world’s longest lived microblog platform.

- fn -

[1] I had to go incognito mode to find pricing. Turns out I paid when he had some kind of lifetime fee. A yearly fee is better.

[2] Pinboard has (editable) Notes which have Title, tags, and description (markdown formatted text). They are a handy way to create a text string with URL and RSS feed, but their native display omits the description portion and I don’t know of any app support ( does not show Notes). I also don’t know if there’s API support for Notes or how export works. Notes are basically incomplete, but could be extended to create a complete (spartan) microblog framework. One could create a root “Note” and then, using Pinner, author posts as linked-lists of bookmark referencing prior bookmark … (hence unique url for each) …

Sunday, September 18, 2016

On being a non-contender in a regional mountain bike race

I’m not a competitive athlete, but over the past 3 years I’ve been doing a lot of exercise. This is relatively new for me. I’ve always been active but I scaled up the exercise when I went from middle-aged to old. (Whatever the dictionary may say, 55+ is different from 50- for most of us.)

Yesterday I played at being a competitive athlete. It was the first official race I’ve competed in since I was a member of short-live swim team [1]. I’d been in timed events previously, but they were either not official races or I was keeping a slow child company. This time it was the real thing — a regional mountain biking race known as the Chequamagon Fat Tire Festival

Since then I’ve been ruminating about the race more than I expected. Enough rumination that I’m compelled to write it out.

There are two distances at this race, the 40 mile and the 16 mile. Neither is technically demanding; the 16 has a slightly higher technical and single track percentage. Although the trails aren’t technical it would be hard to do the race without a fat tire; the often steep trails are grassy, sandy and usually muddy. There are minimal prizes but the race still attracts some amazing regional athletes. Even the 16 has some elite riders who for various reasons didn’t want to do the 40 or couldn’t get a slot. 

I started near the front of wave (gate) 6 for the 16 mile race, the last and largest wave. I finished at 1:29:46, 42 of 85 in the 55-59 men’s group [3]. That means next year I’d start in wave 5.

I did some things right. I switched my obsolete 26” [2] Cannondale Team Scalpel from 2.1” dry surface XC tires to 2.2” climbing tires. I went easy on my CrossFit class the day before the ride. I’d done a good amount of trail riding with skilled people so I was much better on downhills and shifting than most of my cohort. I carried and used “goo”, small pouches of high glucose paste. My bike was in good mechanical shape. Some recent straight leg raise work seemed to help my arthritic knees. [4]

I make some mistakes. I should have skipped CrossFit for a week before the ride — my inner quads started out sore and sluggish and improved slowly. I wore a long sleeved undershirt because the start was cold and drizzly — I had to stop and remove it. I should have brought a waterproof heavy warmup jacket and put it in the “checked post-race” bag just before the bike-ready deadline [6]. I forgot to take the goo 5 minutes before start — I was amazed how well it worked during the race. I didn’t drink as much as I thought I had, that would have been a problem in a longer race. I carried a hydration pack but for this distance I might have been better with water bottles. I didn’t have a race plan or a timer/speedometer so it was hard to adjust my effort. I didn’t realize there’d be no AT&T coverage; I could have left my phone behind [7]. I also didn’t train for the race, but that was by choice [5].

When I was done I felt like I’d had a big CrossFit workout — the kind of thing I do every 1-2 weeks. I’ll clearly never be a contender — I don’t have the genetics. It was fun though. 

Were I to repeat the 16 next year, starting in wave 5 with fewer mistakes, some race planning, and a watch (or speedometer), I think I could get to wave 4 (3% faster). To get to wave 3 (13% faster) I’d definitely need to train. I suspect wave 3 would be my limit. 

I’m more likely to try the 40 — if my knees allowed. I would want to train though. 

This business of competing but not contending isn’t so different from everyday life …

 - fn -

[1] At a High School that didn’t have swim team practices. It did not go well.

[2] Obsolete because after decades of using 26” wheels inherited from trick bikes of the 70s manufacturers realized that bigger wheels were faster. The transition happened around 2010; new materials and designs enabled stronger wheels and bigger profit margins. Thanks to information asymmetry in 2014 I purchased a lovely but obsolete 2010 racing machine that has been both educational and costly. On this particular race however my bike wasn’t in any way a limiting factor; I didn’t spin out on climbs.

The 29” transition was followed by a 27.5” option for shorter riders and the fat bike option. Lots of real tech improvement has created an explosion of good bikes. Which means a crash is sure to come… 

[3] I was 376/702 for all men, 445/946 overall. Pretty much the median rider — at my level there’s not as much drop off with age as one might think. The winning time as 51:53 —  an average of 18 mph for 16 miles. The winner of the 40 mile race averaged 19.2 mph for 40 miles. Different course profiles, but rain and timing meant the 40 had even more mud …

[4] Inherited slow-mo knee-hand-foot thing. I bought some cheap ankle weights and I do straight leg raises while sitting (work) and driving (commute, nobody around, cruise control, no obvious problems when I test braking response.) The only way to do something as boring as weighted leg raise.

[5] I didn’t want to give up my CrossFit (CFSP, yeah) time, and my mountain bike time is focused on being with #2 son who is even less athletic than I am.

[6] The post-race bag was a nice feature, it was transported to the finish were there were showers with bath gel post-race! Bag should hold a warmup jacket, a light but big backpack for carrying things (so don’t need to keep bag), a towel and wash cloth, shoes, clothing, etc.

[7] So weird to be in an AT&T coverage hole. I missed meeting up with a friend because we didn’t set up an old-school rendezvous point.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Americans like television commercials ... and other quick notes

I’ve eliminated every other possibility. The unlikely remnant is that Americans who watch television secretly like television commercials. Why else would my Samsung TV ship with a OTA (antenna input) USB record feature that’s disabled for the US market?

Yes, patents and legal annihilation, but if there were demand they would be overcome.

I miss my VCR.

In other news the best thing I ever bought my 94yo father is his LTE iPad. All it does is show family photos and enable our weekly FaceTime calls. He doesn’t do anything with it, an aide manages call answering and his nurses know to tap on the iCloud based slideshow. During the calls we talk, but I also do an iPhone narrated visit of home, office, mountain bike trail, etc. Gerbils, dog, bicycles, tools, whatever. Fifteen to twenty minutes once a week and he loves it.

Lastly, I’m still doing the exercise gig, despite being a zillion years old and enjoying a slow-mo familial auto-immune arthritis. Over 3 years now. You too can manage weight without harsh diets; you just need to do an insane amount of exercise.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Last days at the best of social networks: (aka Alpha, ADN).

My (@johngordon) services are beginning to fail - including PourOver. Post counts are gone. I still find some great discussions; the community will outlast the infrastructure.

I joined ADN/ Alpha in 8/2012, I’ve paid yearly since. I was a fan in 2013, still am. filled the void left when Google Reader Shares died. It was better than Posterous, Tumblr or Twitter.

Four years isn’t a bad run. I’m not sure Twitter will be here in four years. On the other hand, “the Well” is 31 years old now (and funded by memberships). The Well is private, so I’ve no idea how active it is, but that’s probably a record.

There’s no obvious replacement for on the horizon but I’m keeping my eyes open …

Trumpism: a transition function to the world of mass disability.

We know the shape of the socioeconomic future for the bottom 40% in the post globalization post AI  mass disability world.

But how do we get there? How does a culture transition from memes of independence and southern Christian-capitalist marketarianism to a world where government deeply biases the economy towards low-education employment?

There needs to be a transition function. A transform that is applied to a culture. With the anthropology perspective I’ve long sought Arlie Hochschild makes the case that Trump is, among other things, a transition function that erases Tea Party Marketarianism and embraces the heresy of government support (albeit for the “deserving”).

In a complex adaptive system we get the transition function we need rather than the one we want. No guarantee we survive it though.

See also:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What socioeconomic support will look like in 20 years

This is what I think socioeconomic support will look like in 2040 based on cognitive [2] quintiles.

The bottom quintile (0-20%, non-voters) will have supported work environments and direct income subsidies; an improved version of what most [1] wealthy nations do for the 0-5% of adults currently considered cognitively “disabled” [1].

The second quintile (20-40%, Trump base if white) will have subsidized employment (direct or indirect).

The fifth quintile (80-100%) will live much as they do now.

I don’t know what happens to the 3rd and 4th quintile.

- fn -

[1] The US is currently “mainstreaming” the cognitively disabled into relatively unsupported work, a well intentioned and evidence-free project by (my) Team Liberal that is going to end in tears.

[2]  In US male euros (avoid racism/sexism effects) maps to academic achievement which tests learning, social skills, temperament and the like.