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Let's all wear MLK buttons to stand in solidarity with our fellow Americans. They're as easy to make as masks, and really make a statement.

Here's the news experience I want. As I read Twitter or my river, and I see an article I want to read, I click the link. I get a preview and a price. Click the button and I pay the price, read the article. No spyware, no ads, nice big font. It's in my story list so I can go back and re-read it any time. This requires a centralized payment system, it could be Scroll or something similar to it. The tech is not a problem, the problem is the news orgs giving users what they want. Now questions come up -- what's the price? The news orgs set the price. They have to experiment. They could run specials. They could drop the price to $0 after a story has reached a certain threshold, giving readers a further incentive, to help a story they think is important to circulate. Lots of possibilities. We should get on this train asap.

What is an outliner? It's a "a text editor that organizes information in a hierarchy, allowing users to control the level of detail and to reorganize according to structure."

A pair of pictures

Interesting juxtaposition.

Protester yells at cop in Minnesota.

Protester yells at cop in Michigan.

Bug fix release of LO2. For a new user, one who has never logged onto LO2 before, there was a problem with the initialization code that creates your first outline. It's possible that you would get a blank screen instead of a new outline. Not a very good user experience. It should be fixed now. If you had previously tried to create an account and failed, it might be a good time to try again. If it works. please let me know.

Who could blame Twitter now if they deleted Trump's account.

I got lots of good suggestions for yesterday's prior art search, but no one had advice on getting iPhone to update. And then the problem got even worse. As I was about to go out for my afternoon ride, my iPhone informed me that it had disabled Bluetooth for everything but my AppleWatch. No explanation of why it decided to do this. On my way out, with no music or podcasts to fill my mind, I thought how ridiculous it was that I had spent over $1000 on this device and I still don't own it. Apple says "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." They should change the name of the company to Hal.

Journalism has to take chances

I was an entrepreneur in my youth.

I've never stopped thinking like one.

Journalism needs to be entrepreneurial. And that means taking risks. And challenging your assumptions.

There seems to be a resolution that "micropayments" don't work.

I don't like the term either, because I was thinking of giving them large amounts of money. I like to splurge. I like making impulse purchases. I like voting with dollars, but...

As a user, I don't trust subscriptions. It's incredibly hard to change your mind. How many times have you found out that you have to jump through endless hoops to cancel a subscription.

A subscription is a commitment.

I want to date before we get married.

Anyway, every time I try to start a discussion about this, the users agree, and the journalists that show up tell me why they don't have to to listen to scum like me. It really feels like that.

They have to take chances. That's the way of business. And money and business are kind of the same thing.

The biggest chance they have to take is recognizing that their users are sentient and smart and are good people who they are not treating very well.

PS: This started as an email to my friend Jeff Jarvis, but I could hear myself saying -- why are you saying this just to him, say it to the world.

Twitter's market cap is approx $26 billion, so one could buy a controlling interest for $13 billion.

Prior art search: I'm writing a command line tool to talk with PagePark, a web server running on the same machine. The question is what should the URLs look like.

I get this cryptic dialog when I try to update my iPhone XS/Max using iTunes. I've tried all the things the recommend, to no avail. Do you know what it means? I really don't want to reformat the phone.

I picked a good time to leave the city for the country -- March 2019. Just enough time to get established. I don't think I would have done very well in a 1-bedroom apartment in the middle of Manhattan.

I think it's going to turn out the virus isn't as infectious in the summer than in the cold months because it doesn't transmit well outdoors, and people spend more time outdoors in summer than winter.

Old TV shows had a laugh track that simulated audience applause and laughter. This was before they started recorded sitcoms in front of a live audience. As a little kid, I thought they must have little microphones in the TVs, maybe only some of them (not mine of course) and they could pick up the sounds made by people at home. The laugh track and other audience sounds were real, little Dave imagined. So you gotta wonder why they don't do actually that for live sports events in the upcoming seasons for basketball, baseball, hockey, football, etc -- when there won't be any fans in the stadiums and arenas. You could even pipe the audience sounds into the venue so the players can experience them. The technology is totally up to it. Why not have some fun with it?

BTW, what do you think the odds are that one of the sports players contracts Covid-19 during these new experimental seasons. I figure it's a near-certainty. And what happens then? Do they keep playing?

Where did RSS come from?

On Twitter, Joe Pezillo says he's pretty sure Dave Winer (me) got the idea for RSS from Newton. He's also pretty sure I won't admit it. He's wrong on the first count, and right on the second. ??

I wrote a tweet that was too long to fit in 280 chars that lists the steps that led to what we think of as RSS today. It wasn't an invention as most people think of invention, it was more of a synthesis, one idea leading to another and then another.

  • It started with seeing Pointcast, being blown away by the idea.
  • Then a guy from Microsoft wanted me to do something with XML, so I turned my blog into a feed.
  • Then Netscape reinvented what I did.
  • Then I said OK let's do it your way.
  • Then someone leaked the XML feeds for the NYT to me.
  • Then I repurposed them and published them so people could use them from Radio UserLand.
  • Then they shut me down (they were nice about it).
  • Then they let me have them for free.
  • Then we turned them into RSS feeds.
  • Then RSS took off like a bat out of hell! ??

And thus was born what we now think of as RSS.

My development platforms

Main development platforms over time.

  • 1974: Fortran
  • 1976: BASIC
  • 1977: Simula
  • 1978: C/Unix
  • 1979: UCSD Pascal
  • 1981: Microsoft Pascal
  • 1987: Lightspeed C
  • 1989: UserTalk/Frontier
  • 2013: JavaScript

Forgive the Karen

Anyone who lives in Manhattan and has made it through the last few months without going completely crazy deserves a prize.

The Karen story with the off-leash dog in the Ramble, an area I am familiar with, imho deserves a second chance. Wouldn't that be great if out of the virus we learned to forgive. Give her the dog and the job back and accept her apology.

As someone who used Central Park when I lived in the city, the rules are broken a lot, my peeves were no smoking and no bike riding on the walking paths. Two rules I felt strongly about, as the man did about off-leash dogs interfering with birding in the Brambles.

A lot of NYers, even when they aren't stressed by isolation, act in a way that might look insane to someone not from NY, when you say they've violated the rules governing use of space.

And NYers are sensitive to those rules being broken because there is so little space. It's kind of a powder keg that way, even in normal times.

She did something awful, but it doesn't rise to the level that requires her life to be destroyed. I think it would be good for all of us if we perhaps just this once practiced forgiveness.

The user experience of news sucks. I remember how software exploded when we put the focus on ease-of-use. News people underestimate the power of happy users.

Laurie Garrett, one of the most knowledgeable journalists about pandemics, who is frequently interviewed on TV and speaks science clearly, has an awful video setup in her apartment in Brooklyn. The video and audio quality should be great, so everyone can hear what she's saying. She asked for help on Twitter, I jumped on it, putting out an appeal for help and Logitech, the company who makes the webcam she uses, just closed the loop. Tech helping journalism in the new media age. I love it. Perfect.

Why is the only way news orgs will accept money from readers subscriptions? Before the net I could buy a single edition of a newspaper or magazine without a long term commitment.

The idea of a self-contained news product you subscribe to is a vestige of the way news used to be distributed. Now, in my Twitter timeline, or RSS river, I see links to stories all over the place. This is the way I want it. I want a mix, my choice.

GitHub, platform for time capsules

An idea..

Microsoft owns GitHub.

When I post a project to GH, I'm hoping I'm preserving that work for a long time. As long as MS exists? Would be cool.

This is something MS could market. Think of the repos at GH as time capsules.

Tech can be imaginative. Like this. ;-)

PS: Chad Tolkien says they are planning on it, but it's only for some projects. So it's going to have a Microsoft bias. Oy. I want to send my stuff into the future so they can use it as prior art for the software they'll be doing then.

Bug reports, not pull requests

Basic philosophy: If you spot a mistake, I want to know about it so I can fix it. Always.

Now here's the background: I share most of the software I write as open source on GitHub. Sometimes people report bugs by submitting pull requests. That doesn't work out very well because I write my code in an outliner, and it generates the JavaScript code from the outline. So what you see as source on GitHub actually isn't what I edit. I couldn't accept a pull request to the generated code. It would just be wiped out the next time I made a change to the outline and re-generated.

So the best thing to do when you spot a mistake is flag it as an issue in the repo, point to the code in question if that's helpful, and I'll thank you and make the fix myself.

Davey RTseed

I'm like Johnny Appleseed of RTs.

I like to just swoop in and RT something and share a sexy idea from someone else with the people who follow me.

It's like opening up a worm hole in the universe.

We get a peek of someone else's reality.

New Biden ad. It's true. Trump is a deer caught in the headlights. A president who can't handle a crisis is no president at all.

As I wrote yesterday I really liked Season 2 of Homecoming. I noted that it's based on a podcast from Gimlet of the same name. I've started to listen to that. It's also very good. I like the whole thing. I think finally I'm going to have to re-watch Season 1 on Amazon, to complete the experience.

So what a nice feeling that a podcast started all that. I can't recall any pundit saying Podcasting is really great. It's made my life so much better. Hooray for podcasting, or something like that. All they write about is how it's going to die, as if they have a clue.

Podcasting: An always-renewing and expanding explosion of creativity and utility. Because people have something to say.

In The Atlantic Tom Nichols writes that Trump is not a manly president. I don't particularly care for that approach, I think honor and modesty are traits that should apply regardless of gender. We have the president we deserve. We're the country that went to war without a draft, whose citizens got tax cuts while at war, whose citizens expect more of that, to us it's never enough. We expect to be able to inflict chaos around the world and somehow never to be touched by it ourselves. That's why people are out partying with abandon this weekend. They can't imagine they can pay a price. There's a reason Vietnam is responding to the virus so incredibly well and we're responding so poorly. They remember fighting for their independence. To us, independence is a birth right. A distant memory that's become perverted. We have to fight for it again. The virus is giving us that chance. We can't get out of the pandemic until we grow up as individuals and collectively. Trump is the right president for who we are. We won't get a better one until we deserve a better one.

Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president? Admitting that, and incorporating it into public discourse, is on the road to moving beyond Trump.

Taking it easy today, not much writing or programming. The weather has turned gorgeous, real upstate NY summer weather. After a long winter and an even longer almost-spring, including snow on May 9, and a pandemic, it's pretty ecstatic weather, luxurious, great-to-be-alive type weather. It's the contrasts that make the eastern part of the US so much more livable than the west, say I, a native son of the east who spent many years in the west.

I'm always looking for a good binge, and I found one. The second season of Homecoming is out, on Amazon. I started it the other night instead of watching the news. I had forgotten most of the plot of the first season, I remember liking it, but it didn't leave much of an impression. The second season is nicely done, has a Mr Robotish feel, there's a constant stream of twists and surprises, it's fun and so far intellectually gratifying, and it reviews the plot of season 1 as it goes. We have an inkling of how it will end because the first episode is about how it ends, or so we are led to believe. I don't know otherwise because I still have a few episodes to go. But nothing in this show is a straight line, and as I said it's well done. I especially like the end of each episode. They end with a twist, but they stay wtih the scene as the credits roll. I had not seen this technique before.

Thread: A friend tells me that Node does breaking releases regularly. I've been working in Node for seven years so far and it hasn't affected me yet. So they must not be heavy earth-shaking things.

I have been trained not to click on links to most news sites because the experience is so unpleasant.

Horserace journalism has never seemed less relevant.

Anybody thinking how we can lobby the Senate to support local governments so we continue to have police, fire, sanitation, health care, teachers, etc.

Opening churches could flush out the last of Trump's supporters who'd be ok if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. The key assumption was that he was shooting someone else, not them. Maybe George Soros or Al Sharpton. I don't think they stick with him if shoots their neighbor from church.

Read this quote from the Republican governor of North Dakota about masks. A silver lining to the pandemic is the only way out of it is to cut the level of insanity to zero and start acting according to science. There is no other way out of it, assuming you don't want to bet exclusively on a miracle. Either we stay collectively insane, we'll all get the virus, sooner than later, and a shitload of us will die, and the survivors will have a new Dark Ages. If we could only apply the objective brainpower to this problem that we do to a sports game like football or basketball. There is a winning strategy but it requires teamwork.

When you hear someone you love and think is smart and literate say Oh it's no big deal if I catch the virus, say "I love you and you're smart and literate, and please read this story, because you're wrong about it not being a big deal." Perfect example of save my life story-telling.

I've heard reports of people having trouble unsubscribing from the nightly email. If you've been having trouble, please let me know by respoinding to the email.

Listening to the virus

The latest save my life story (must-read) makes me wonder how to listen to people we support. People who are suffering. What conclusions to draw from what they say?

This is part of the "we're going to have to learn to live with it" approach, which is another part of save my life. It's not only about medicine, math, politics, money and power -- it's also about individual people who need -- what? How can we help? How to listen? How can we help? What to say? And how can we help?

The author wasn't able to convey her condition to the first doctor over the phone. I wanted to know how the doctor could do better. Also how the doctor could have made a difference when there was no treatment, at the time -- not sure if there's treatment possible now, even.

It's about more than science. It's about us.

Node deprecates request

This is a technical post.

The three words in the title of the post are noun, verb and subject.

Let's go through them one by one.

  • Node is a popular developer platform with set of common libraries called packages. It's based on JavaScript which is a very popular language. And its power comes from the very deep set of freely usable code you can build on. That part is the reason why I switched to JavaScript in 2013. I wanted to tap into the work of all the other developers using Node. That it was JavaScript was incidental, and honestly the Node platform had nothing to do with it, because at the time I switched I had little idea what it was.
  • deprecates is a word that platform vendors use when they are going to break the implicit promise that the platform you're developing on is stable. The word platform implies stability. The fact that platform vendors can do this is one main reason we like to work with open source software, because if we don't agree with what they're doing, we don't have to go with them, which hopefully means they'll be less willing to break us.
  • request is possibly the most used package in Node. I'm not sure. But since Node is used to make servers and one thing servers do a lot of is call other servers to get information, and request is pretty much the only way to do that, you'd have to say even if it isn't the most popular package, it certainly is one of the most important. If you were to remove request almost all Node apps would break. And that is exactly what they're doing. It won't work. I'm sure of it. And they don't know it yet. But they'll find out.

A couple of stories to go with this.

  • Back in the late 90s when we were working on a new version of Frontier, we were generating a lot of new routines for developers to call. We had packages of routines called suites, and as we were generating them we didn't know which package an individual routine would go in when the new version was finalized. So we created a temporary package called toys, disclaimed it would be deprecated before we shipped. We gave it a silly name so people would remember it was doomed. I said to devs, don't depend on anything in toys being there after we ship. Well, as promised, when it came time to ship, we sorted all the routines in toys to their permanent homes and deleted toys. Everything broke. Everything. The outcry was so loud and angry that we put toys back. The lesson is this, when you ship something to developers you're stuck with it, so be sure you can live with it when you ship. You have to live with your mistakes too. Clearly the Node developers think request is a mistake. Well tough shit, you have to live with it. Sorry I didn't make the rules. ??
  • Dave Gandy's company makes a product called Font Awesome. It's great. When it came out I knew I was going to use it. I had even been asking someone to do what it does. Anyway, when they came out with a new version, they broke lots of stuff. The conventional wisdom was if the new version is a "full point release," like you're going from version 4 to 5, you can break whatever you want. Well it was a huge setback for Font Awesome and it got users (like me) to fear upgrading to new versions. If they want to improve their product, Dave and his company learned, they would have to add functionality, they can never take functionality out. I wrote it up in February of this year, which feels like a decade ago! :-)

At UserLand we came up with the fundamental rule, so fundamental that we called it Rule 1. It was this: Don't break users. There's nothing more sacred in the relationship between platform vendors and the devs.

So with all that background, I wonder what the Node platform vendor thinks we should use in place of request? To make it as smooth as possible it should just be request, of course. ??

Me, as a kid

My brother found this picture of me as a kid in my father's photos.

New version of publicFolder, a Node app that runs on your desktop and keeps an Amazon S3 location in sync with a folder on a local disk. It's available as an NPM package and an Electron app. I use it to publish this.how, and am starting to use it in place of Dropbox. Much lighter weight, and I have all the source (and so do you).

I have a Subaru Forester. Nice car. But every so often the rear door refuses to open. Three beeps. So I search, have trouble finding an answer. So confusing, they talk about buttons my car doesn't seem to have. Anyway it turns out if you hold the touch point for six seconds it'll open the rear door. Software glitch of some kind. From then on it works as normal. Wonder what the logic is. If it has the means to reset itself why doesn't it just reset itself without me having to jump through hoops?

On Maddow last night an interesting observation as to why meat packing plants are even worse than we thought. Recall that enclosed spaces with lots of humans present for long periods of time are bad. The virus has plenty of time to become dense, which it needs to be infectious. But meat packing plants are also loud, lots of machinery, so people have to yell to be heard. And when an infected person yells they emit more virus, contributing to greater density, therefore more transmission.

Virus in summertime?

My longtime friend Matt Ocko says it's hot in Brazil and they have a lot of virus there, so the virus must do okay in heat, so therefore no reprieve during the summer in the US.

I don't know whether the virus does better or worse in summer months, but saying it's doing fine in Brazil doesn't add much data about how it will do in the US in the summer.

Maybe the virus doesn't care about the heat, but humans behave differently when it's warm. We spend more time outdoors, and the virus isn't as infectious outdoors, because it's the virus load that determines how infectious it is. At least that's what we currently think.

Human bodies are generally in better shape in the summer. That might make us better able to fight the virus.

Brazil is a different place from the US and is responding socially to the virus differently, so it's hard to conclude anything about what happens in the US based on what happens in Brazil.

And of course the US is a very varied country, so what happens in NYC is different from what happens in Calif, is different from other parts of New York State for that matter.

Pretty remarkable. Is the common cold a vaccine for Covid-19?

Or a drug that prevents the virus that is not a vaccine?

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