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Poll: What will the GOP do about Trump?

To use his oven, he has to accept the terms and conditions.

There's a new Uber commercial playing on TV in NYC. First they take you to various neighborhoods, esp Hispanic, black or Asian neighborhoods. Outlying neighborhoods. This is the real NY, they say, or imply (I don't remember which). Try to get a fucking cab to take you to one of these places. Or pick you up. At Uber, we love your stupid neighborhood. So fuck DiBlasio, the fucker, and the cab companies. They're just out to fuck you. But Uber loves you. Uber. Of course they don't say all that, but the message is unmistakable.

Poll: What will we witness tomorrow when Trump and Putin hold their joint press conference?

Happy to report that an SQLite test app took about ten minutes to write and install. They make it sound like installing the native portion is some huge deal. It's not. I would share what I have so far, but I just followed the instructions on this page. They work, and the demo app works. I have an interesting project in mind, but first I have to learn more about SQLite to see if it's feasible. Still diggin. ??

If youíre a developer who works inside a news org, hereís a plan for how to create a great set of whitelists of news thatís trying to get it right. This is based on what I learned bootstrapping blogging and podcasting. The same ideas should work for journalism, at least as starting points. We have to work together, and not wait for the tech industry to do it, imho. We can do it. Programmers can save the world. (Not really exaggerating.)

Buster Keaton's philosophy: "I always want the audience to out-guess me, and then I double-cross them."

New personal description on Twitter profile page. "American software developer, blogger, inventor of new media types."

Have you ever had a thought "Geez this person just needs to read the article," so you say so, and they reply with something like "Thanks. I did need to read it." ??

Try a new form of protest. Block Trump on Twitter.

Braintrust query: I'm thinking about using an SQL database in an Electron app. I want to bake the database software into the app. Looks like SQLite is the best option. Any other ideas?

Humiliated. That's the word for how the United States is.

It seems to me AWS, with the combination of S3, Route 53 and the fact they have your credit card and shipping address, could turn HTTPS support into a checkbox.

Listening when it's especially hard

As I wrote earlier this week, listening is hard. It's even more difficult when someone wants to report a problem. This comes up in all kinds of relationships, it even models software bug reporting.

Here's a scenario. A person with a missing leg says "When you push me, I fall over and that hurts." Here's a list of possible responses, from best to worst.

  1. If you understand what they're saying, just say that, literally: "I understand what you're saying." If you don't understand, then say that, but only if you really don't understand.
  2. Don't defend yourself. For example "I didn't know you only had one leg," or "I didn't know if I push you you'll fall over." The person just wants to know you heard them. You're changing the topic to something about yourself. This leaves the question of whether you understood out there, unanswered.
  3. Don't argue. "The leg you say is missing is really just shorter than the other one, it's not actually missing." We're getting very far away from "I understand what you're saying."
  4. Even worse. "It never happened" or "I didn't push you over."
  5. Worst. "What about the time you said I was stupid."

I'm sure you see the analogy to software bug reporting. We want to know that something went wrong, so we can fix it, and make the product work properly. Same thing in personal relationships. If you care about the other person, you want to know that something you're doing is trouble for them, so you can stop doing it. There really is no better way to show that you care for them than listening when it's especially hard to.

Finally, why keep the response focused on the problem?

  1. It builds trust.
  2. It encourages the other person to report other problems, so the relationship can be further optimized.
  3. It makes for a happy family!

The hideous entity that walks among us as ďPaul ManafortĒ slips on its human skin-suit for a quick mugshot.

Follow-up to yesterday's addition. Here's why it's interesting to put the RSS in the GitHub repo. You can see what changed. Of course that's what River5 is for. But it's interesting to see it in GitHub. Like many things on the net, both GitHub and RSS are about "what changed."

What we need from news orgs re fake news

Here's a timeline.

  1. Each news org should produce a list of news orgs they feel produce news that's not fake. Each should use whatever criteria they feel is right. Publish the list.
  2. Evolve the lists over time. This problem is not going to be solved overnight. The process will take years to sort out. In the process we will learn a lot. If it works, it will transform news to make it much more useful because it's online and not print.
  3. Techies, both companies and individuals, will build news products based on the feeds. For example, Facebook might offer a choice of news selected by different news orgs. An open source group could create software that flows Twitter-like news feeds from the lists.
  4. This will become competitive. Some pubs' lists will fall out, others will rise to the top. There will be surprises.
  5. Include blogs in the list, blogs that cover territory that you cover. For example, the NYT would include bloggers who cover neighborhoods. Tech pubs would include tech bloggers.
  6. Include your entire news flow in your list. Amazingly some news orgs do not have a comprehensive list of every news article they publish in reverse-chronologic order.
  7. You may choose to make your list a feature of your news site. You may also use other organizations lists as a feature on your news site.
  8. Let's discuss our experiences at a future-of-news conference. After a few months' experience we should be ready to learn from each other.
  9. This is not something tech companies can do for you. People whose work is producing news should come up with ideas for figuring out what is and isn't reliable news.
  10. The canonical "fake news" site, Infowars, will of course produce their own list of reliable feeds. Totally valid. People who want to be informed by them may choose to do so.

Notes on xrefs

One year ago today I introduced a feature that allowed me to include a post from Scripting News within another post. Here's the example, and the video demo. I wondered if I would use the feature. I haven't. But I forgot it was there, and forgot how it works. There's a CSS problem that's shown up, when I increased the size of the titles on the story pages. I'll fix that now.

This is a test. Breakage fixed. I changed the way permalinks to stories work. If an item has subs it's rendered on its own page. The URL will be different, so it has to be parsed differently when setting up the xref node. So this points to a story on its own page, and I'm going to work on the code to detect this and properly compute the location of its corresponding JSON file.

For the test above, the xref value is http://scripting.com/2018/07/09/143533.html

The JSON derived from that URL should be http://scripting.com/items/2018/07/09/a143533.json

This node is an xref. That means that in the OPML, it has an xref attribute, which is a link to a story on this blog. It's converted to the URL of a JSON file, which is then read, and included under this headline when it's expanded.

Google isn't going to like this

After forcing a change to HTTPS, there are going to be other requirements. They'll try to eliminate fake news from the web as Facebook is trying (and failing) to eliminate it from their silo. That's the slippery slope they are starting down. They may not feel they have a lot to lose, but we do. Last year I wrote a piece about why I like to develop on the open web. If I get an idea for a feature, I can just do it. I could wait forever for Facebook, they don't listen to me (neither does Google) but I listen to me. I can do it without getting the approval of a big company -- that's the magic of an open platform. I will never give that up. I'd rather retire to Italy and make pottery and drink espresso and bubbly water. Grazie!

Brits want to know why Donald Trump is such a.. you should listen.

Silent Movie GIFs is great. They show you tiny scenes from a silent movie, and then another and another, spaced out over hours. Here's a scene from the Buster Keaton movie One Week.

I did a bit more development work today on a project that stores stuff on GitHub as if it were a long-term place, a place to create a historic record. Of course I question that, I did when they were an independent company. Now that GitHub is owned by Microsoft, I still question it. Not sure if it's more or less likely to survive as-is for the indefinite future. Made me wonder what Microsoft could do to reassure developers, so we'd feel comfortable treating it as a permanent resource. Clearly that's in their interest. Microsoft has embraced open source, now I wonder if they have what it takes to be a leader.

I wonder why more American congresspeople donít have blogs and podcasts. It seems they would want to communicate regularly with their constituents. Twitter has severe limits, as everyone knows.

I'm now archiving the RSS file for Scripting News in the GitHub repo, every night, along with the content of the blog for the day (in JSON, OPML and HTML). It'll be interesting to be able to track the changes to the file over (knock wood) long periods of time. Here's the source of the app that does the uploading. It's proven to be very reliable. ??

Real ideas yesterday on MSNBC

Most of the time I spend watching MSNBC is a waste, but yesterday there were two items that were important.

  1. On MTP Daily, an interview with Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD, carefully explaining how Trump still has the support of his constituents, but they don't like what he's doing with tariffs. I think this is a must-listen, a real milestone, imho.
  2. On The Beat, author Tony Schwartz, interviewed about the angry Trump baby blimp in London, said it's funny (it is!) but is far from where we should be focused. He says getting non-voters to vote is where our attention should be. Couldn't agree more. I want a system, where voters have buddies, like sponsors in a 12-step program, who they commit to voting, and they engage on Election Day and make sure they do. They escort them to the poll if necessary. We should have drills. What an incredible demonstration that would be. Far more powerful than a march. Think about it.

A mutual defense pact against racism

A Twitter account called Black and Proud addresses white people:

  • Please stop saying 'I don't see color.' Instead -- I see you and your struggle, because of your skin color. I will stand with you to end racism.

I agree. Race is visible, and the statement that you don't see it is ludicrous. We see it. To say otherwise is to push it aside. I've written about this a few times before, once in an explainer about Black Lives Matter, and what it means, from a white person's perspective.

I want to do more. I feel compelled, not just to make life safer and simpler for people of color, but also to put up a roadblock to racism, to let it know that it will encounter resistance. Some things are better kept under cover. Racism for sure is one of them.

In the past I've proposed that we all wear Martin Luther King buttons. I felt his image was perfect because he's a black man, he preached non-violence, and was active, not passive, in his quest for equality and fairness. A white person wearing a MLK button makes a statement of equivalence. Treat me as you would treat a black person. If a majority of whites wore these buttons it would make a promise to our fellow citizens, that if there's trouble, we're standing with you. When there's trouble.

It would be like Article 5 in NATO. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. As a white person I can't become black. But I can make a statement that I stand with people of color.

Development of the RSS format didnít peter out, it was frozen, so there could be as much interop as possible.

The problem for Jim Jordan, as far as I'm concerned, is I saw him cross-examine Rod Rosenstein. Just a couple of weeks ago. I know how corrupt his mind is. So matter how sincere he sounds I know his word means nothing. There is no honor in that man.

Trump is appalling. On behalf of my country, apologies to Canada, China, Germany and whoever he attacks next. Spread the word.

Small change to the Art Show app. We now only keep the 1000 most recent works of art. The array was starting to get big.

The other day I was looking for the canonical states.opml file, the one that I use to test structures of outlines with. I found what appears to be the original copy, dated 12/2/2000. It's now accessible through this.how, which is served by PagePark, using its built-in ability to render OPML files. I'm rebooting the worldoutline capabilities but with an open source scalable stack. ??

Re winning in November. In 2008, Obama had a social network of voters who met, knocked on doors, arranged a buddy system for people to vote. We should reboot that, only do it better. It's 2018, and the technology and our know-how have improved a lot.

As we get accustomed to a Putin-run American government, where are our Russian counterparts -- the protestors, the democracy advocates, to school us on how to really resist the dawning nightmare. It seems there are voices missing from our conversation

Parallels betw Russia and Germany

I haven't heard this mentioned elsewhere, but there are parallels to where we're at now and at the beginning of World War II.

Russia, like Germany had been defeated and humiliated. Out of that rose a strongman, who has territorial ambitions in Europe.

As in the 1930s, the US is isolationist. This time we have a defense pact, but it seems like we're going to withdraw from that.

What it means for Europe is that they're heading for government like that in Russia, and without a strong adversary, an unchecked Russia won't stop before it runs over all of Europe.

Here are the relevant dates.

  • The Treaty of Versailles was in 1919 and the first territory grab by Germany was the annexation of Austria in 1938. 19 years.
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union was in 1991, and the annexation of Crimea was in 2014. 23 years.


One of the things we learned in massage school, many years ago, was how to listen. There was an exercise I always try to remember when it's time to listen.

The group separates into pairs. Seated on mats on the floor. Spines straight, head straight, not tilted in or out or to a side. One person speaks and the other listens. The speaker just talks, no rules there. Share whatever you want. Anything. The listener says nothing. Your body doesn't move in or out. No hugging, touching, no words. Your eyes stay neutral. No facial expressions. No empathy, no approval or disapproval, just hear what the other person is saying. Understand that they are this person's words. No response is allowed.

These days, when it's time to listen, I allow myself to put a hand across my mouth as a signal to my subconscious that it's time to listen.

What made me think of this today? I listened to the latest This American Life podcast, the second segment was a couple's therapy session. One was speaking, the other wasn't listening. If you're in a troubled relationship, I highly recommend the podcast. And if you can find someone who will pair with you on the listening exercise, above, I recommend that as well. You may be surprised how hard it is to stay centered, neutral, just listen, not go in or out.

Listening is hard. If more people learned how to do it, we'd be better off. There would more love. People would understand that their friends and partners are real people, not just screens for projecting their movies on.

How to fix the Supreme Court

Five easy steps.

  1. New Democratic president with majority in Senate.
  2. Alito, Thomas, Roberts, Gorsuch die.
  3. Replace with liberals.
  4. Repubs howl.
  5. Ignore.

One of my favorite Twitter feeds to follow.

It might just be dawning on Steven Miller that his life will suck after Trump fires him.

We need a political party that spans international boundaries. I want to read a blog written by a Brit that explains what's going on. Who is their Lindsey Graham? Nancy Pelosi? Al Sharpton? I want to know who I should be reading from Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia, Italy, etc.

For years I was really confused about what blogging is, after Twitter and Facebook. In May last year I decided I wanted my old blog back, the one I started in 1997. Now, a year later, I realize it really works. The 280 char limit in Twitter helps because I can cross-post shorter posts there. Here's a screen shot.

Just did a little shopping. Went to Whole Foods to pick up fruit, bread, Italian sparkling water (a habit I developed on my recent trip). I used the newly installed Whole Foods app using my Amazon ID to get a discount. I used Apple Pay to pay for it. On my way out the store I used the Starbuck's app to buy an iced coffee and breakfast sandwich, which was there when I arrived two minutes later. I remarked to the checkout guy at Whole Foods that this is the future. He asked if I was a robot. I thought a bit, smiled, and said yeah almost. ??

How Twitter displays threads

I tried an experiment to see how Twitter displays thread structures.

I entered a subset of the standard states outline. United States is at the root. It has one sub, Far West. And from there I list the six states, and provide detail under Nevada.

I'm wondering what the algorithm is. Because sometimes it shows nodes at multiple levels, and how they choose them isn't clear.

If JavaScript had the equivalent of WaitNextEvent from the original Mac OS, you could turn it into a decent scripting language. And btw, I love callback hell. I really do. But sometimes you just need to be synchronous, for everything. Including network requests.

One of the things I liked about Fleabag, which I just finished, is that all the characters are trying so hard, but the punchline of the six-part series, which I won't spoil, is given to a middle-aged man. So often men are portrayed as childish, clueless and mean. It's nice to see a story, one that centers on women, but lets men have dignity and wisdom while being vulnerable and wanting to be happy. ??

We're complicit

Back in the 90s, when Microsoft was doing horrible things to the web and hoping to get away with it, I had friends who worked there. I often wondered how they explained it to themselves. They must know that what Microsoft is doing is wrong, and those of us outside of the company don't make a distinction they would probably like us to make. I didn't see a difference between the company and the people who worked there. It was hard to reconcile the affection I felt for them personally with the actions of the company.

I mention this now, long after the events are past, because of an image and a tweet that showed that thousands of people in Brussels are marching against our president. I thought, that's cool, but soon they will be marching against the United States. They won't and shouldn't make a distinction between the country and our president, for the same reason we didn't make a distinction between Bill Gates and the people who worked at Microsoft.

When you go to Europe, there isn't a change in attitude that you can perceive. I went there when we invaded Iraq, creating the refugee crisis that is now causing so many problems there. No one seemed to blame me for what our government was doing. Same thing in June when I visited Italy. People seem to understand that Americans who travel outside the United States aren't to blame for Trump. But in fact, we are.

We could do more to stop Trump. We're all hoping to continue with our lives and careers, that somehow we'll get through this without having to give up anything as individuals. That someone else will make the sacrifice. I don't think that's how it works. We're missing chance after chance to stop this. We all have to work for each other, not just for ourselves. This is a change that Americans are not yet ready to make. I hope when and if it happens it isn't too late.

Restoring posts from 2012-13

Here's a list of all the deliverables for the restoration.

  1. A list of all the stories, on scripting.com. Hopefully this will get the search engines to index the stories in their new locations.
  2. An OPML file containing the newly restored stories. There are a bunch more that weren't restored because they're already present, but we didn't have the OPML for them before. Note, it takes a long time to load, the file is quite large.
  3. I also uploaded the OPML file to the GitHub repository. It also has trouble with the size of the file.
  4. I uploaded the folder containing the newly restored pages in HTML.

Restoring posts from 2012-13

I'm going to take notes here as I do this work.

  • Finding the OPML source for the stories
    • In doing the restoration of threads2 yesterday I got distracted, because the stories were in a special place not in scripting.com, which is a bucket on Amazon S3.
    • I used a special dynamic server then. Now I want to archive them like all the other posts. Some features are not preserved, such as comments and paragraph-level permalinks. However it is an improvement over what was here previously, i.e. nothing.
    • First, I wanted to see if I could find the OPML for each of the stories. That took a bit of detective work, because they were in a worldoutline structure, but they were safe, in another S3 bucket, fargo.io. Long story how they came to be there. But I had left a crumb trail, deliberately, so that if someone wanted to find the source, not only would it likely still be there, but it would be relatively easy to find.
    • Next step is to generate pages for each of the stories in preparation for putting them in a logical place, as HTML and OPML, in the scripting.com bucket.
  • Working on a template and build script
    • I have one working locally, now have to set it up so it iterates over all the stories. Taking a break for a bit. Back soon.
  • Should finish tomorrow
    • It was too nice a day in NYC to spend the day indoors. I did do a bit more work, and here's the outline for what I have left to do, tomorrow.
    • At about 8PM I have all the pages building and have a script that uploads them. Tomorrow I want to generate the redirects from the old threads website, and do some testing. I'll also release the OPML source code through the Scripting-News repository. This post will be linked to from every page that was part of the restoration.

Something changed somewhere and the blogging I was doing in 2012 and 2013 stopped working. Turns out that files without extensions were previously interpreted as text/html even if the returned Content-Type was text/plain. So I added a feature to PagePark that lets you set the default type for a site. That was what was needed. Here's a list of the posts from March 2013 that now should work properly, again. When you have as much web history as I do, keeping things running is a lot of work.

I'm reading some of the pieces that have just come back online. For example this one -- good software design is ageless. It talks about removing features from software, and how that breaks users. I think I understood why that happens when I wrote the piece, but disclaimed it. It's because the people who do the breaking weren't the ones who fought for the users, who made the product successful. They don't have a feel for how much they had to do to get them to commit. We're having the same argument over and over, when a new generation comes of age and wants to throw out the accomplishments previous generations made. I don't know why software is particularly afflicted by this. I read an article today about a pair of 100-plus-year-old tunnels under the Hudson River, and now if they fail it will do severe damage to the country's economy. We have similar technology in software. But we wreck the tunnels, willfully, every generation. This is why progress is so elusive, and also imho why people don't trust tech.

William Gibson: The GOP senators in Moscow, promised a briefing video, are all shown the pee tape, while being taped watching it, together. Their subsequent silence about this constitutes brutally powerful group kompromat leverage.

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