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A bunch of new products on the OPML apps list.

What would you do right now if you were CEO of Twitter?

Om Malik, who like me is an OG of the web, on music software: "All music apps at present suck. From Spotify to Tidal to Qobuz to Apple. Do a comparison ó all shit." I wrote in response: "Iím a newcomer to music apps, but got a free six months with Amazon Music, and it works pretty well, just wish I had more control over offline mode because where I live thereís no cell coverage. Havenít tried the others." Here's what I want in case anyone knows how to do it. They have a station that just plays music they think I'll like. And after six months, they have a pretty good idea, and the stuff they recommend often is stuff I really want to hear. I want to tell it to download a couple of hours of this stuff. Or maybe always have a couple of hours downloaded. So when I'm out and about, maybe on my bike or driving around, I can listen to music uninterrupted. My iPhone has huge amounts of available memory, can't think of a better use of that space than music that's just for me. I hope there's a setting for this. It could just be a checkbox. Or even better, a preference that says how much memory it can use to cache stuff.

I finished How the South Won the Civil War, and it was somewhat of a disappointment. Obviously it's a college textbook, because it recites facts, names and dates, ad nauseum, things that are probably required by curricula (just guessing)m., and there isn't much in the book that I didn't already know. I was expecting something that truly lived up to the title, that explained why were still living with slavery today, but that isn't what the book is about. I think it's a provocative title for a pretty ordinary American history book. My next book is Caste (*) and so far am getting a lot out of it. Will report.

In the previous post the (*) is where I knocked over a large full glass of ice coffee on my desk, the one with all my hard disks. I did something like this a few weeks ago with a glass of ice water. When this happens I quickly mobilize, moving everything of value away from the puddle. There were no towels nearby so I ran to the bedroom and got an old t-shirt that I could sacrifice, ran back and quickly sopped up the puddle and all the random bits of coffee and ice I could find. Now there's dried coffee on my keyboard and my mouse. But everything still seems to work. I went downstairs and made another tall glass of ice coffee, and hopefully this one will end up not on computer hardware and my desk, but rather fueling a day of creativity. This is a blog, therefore I am obligated to tell you, dear reader, about these events.

One more thing, I had a bad reaction to one of the vaccines I had yesterday, and last night, all through the night, it was as if I had a mild cold. And two sore arms. But the worst seems to be over. Knock wood.

No one needs a gun that can kill 19 children.

I am irony-deficient.

What if they had guns?

I remember wondering if somewhere in the Capitol, Congress was being slaughtered, the way the 19 kids were yesterday.

January 6, 2021

Republican vision for America

Guns, guns and back alley abortions.

When you ask someone who's running late when they plan to get there and they say "Should be there any minute" what do you think that means? Oy.

JavaScript question. Why can't we have the require verb work in browser apps as it does in Node. It would take a URL as a param. It would be so much simpler if I could use exactly the same modules in both places, with no fuss, no new software to install.

I just got three vaccines: Shingles, pneumonia and the second Covid booster. I usually don't get negative reactions to vaccines, but with three in my system at the same time, who knows. Wish me luck! ??

Ken Hall is keeping a Drummer blog and asks about archiving.

We now have a list of OPML-compatible apps. It's a beginning, there are a bunch of apps that are not on the list. It's not just for editors, you can use OPML to pass outlines to apps that render outlines, for example, as a blog (that's Old School). There will be more of those. BTW, of course the list is an outline, and the OPML version is public, so you should be able to open it in any of the apps on the list.

Ending Roe v Wade will end the United States. The world is built around reproductive freedom, led by the United States. A country that repeals such a fundamental right no longer is, imho, the United States. Where we go from there I don't know. But if we're going to have a civil war, reproductive freedom would be a good cause.

"Web3" is as if there was a new band called Beatles 3, and they didn't play music or write songs, they just held up instruments and said "It would be great if we knew what these were."

Davos is happening now, the first one since Covid started. The message at this year's Davos seems to be "You didn't understand the web and it made mega billions. So here's a new web, called "Web3" -- you don't understand it, of course (frankly neither do we) but this time you must invest so you make the billions!" They will love it.

BTW, if "Web3" turns out to live up to its name, I will take all this back. I've been wrong before. But so far I've not gotten an idea of how this thing is a new version of the web, and I believe I fully understand what the web is. I'd love to see a one-page description of how you develop apps for this supposed successor to the web.

Georges Seurat

Horse and cart, 1884.

Poll: If you own a Tesla and you're American, how do you vote?

All of Musk's Trumpy bullshit comes at a time when a flood of competition is coming for Tesla and it looks like they're copying the basic design. This is giving them a chance to rip out a lot of old crap, and turn their cars into computers with big batteries and wheels. I think Tesla has a huge problem in front of them, no Carplay or Android Auto support, therefore no app ecosystem. There are a few apps that I miss not having on my Tesla that I can use on my Subaru (which I never drive because I love the Tesla so much). So Musk is playing Trump. How stupid and dull. I thought he was smart. I thought I was being smart buy buying his product. Ech. What a stupid waste of energy.

Amazing, they're still skiing at Killington.

I bought a Tesla and I love the car, but I never thought it would become a MyPillow type thing.

I am a JavaScript programmer. I've learned to stack my code via indentation when it could all be done more simply the way you do it in most other languages. It's provable. I can never understand why developers who have worked on the language itself aren't as bothered by this as I am. I realized there might be one difference, something that's been a foundation for all my programming work -- before I was a programmer, I was a math major. In math, you're always looking for broader and simpler statements that you can derive from more narrower and more complicated truths. In a sense that's what math is. So perhaps the language designers of JavaScript didn't study math? This has been a vexing puzzle for me ever since I moved into JavaScript. Not how to simplify JS, that's clear -- rather why don't other people see it, or if they do why don't they fix it?

I'm always telling people who think about products to learn about positioning. Unless you understand how the human mind works, how can you market something to humans? It's like becoming a driver, you have to learn what all the controls do. And how products fit into people's minds is one of the biggest controls, and you'd be surprised how not-different people's minds are when it comes to positioning. An example. An ad I saw on Facebook recently for T-shirts of all things. How many brands of T-shirts can you think of? Probably not too many, but you know there are a lot of them. None have any particular meaning. But what about a T-shirt that Looks Good On You? That's a position. A ladder that no one, so far, is positioned on. Maybe the ladder doesn't exist? Positioning has lots of examples of those. But sometimes it does, and it's huge. Think of all the brands that defined new ladders. Like Starbucks. Tesla. Nike. Coca Cola. There was coffee before Starbucks and cars, shoes and cold drinks before these brands carved out new segments of these markets and because they were first in the prospects' minds, they own them, until they throw away their positioning, which many products do, foolishly, through line extension. Heinz is a company that does not understand positioning and is as a result destroying their #1 brand. Think about Heinz. What does the name mean to you? Ketchup, right? Then, recently they decided there are lots of different ketchups, look at all of them! And they named them all Heinz. Oy. I bet when you add the sales of all the different Heinz ketchups, it's less than standard good old Heinz ketchup. Go to the grocery store, look for ketchup and try to find the Heinz ketchup you grew up with. Good luck! Line extension is a bad idea. If you own the top spot on a ladder, don't do line extension. You'll lose out to someone who specializes in what you used to own. So much to say about this.

One my favorite things to tweet is that there are No Nets fans, and wait for a Nets fan to show up and flame me. It never happens. I think even the Clippers must have some fans in NYC, or the Expos, but I can honestly say I've never met a Nets fan.

It's amazing that senators like Susan Collins expect an extrordinary level of service when they have given their (necessary!) approval to four SC justices who they had to know were part of the open-but-deniable plot to dismantle the Constitution, starting with voting rights, and foreign money in our elections, and the latest offense the overturn of Roe. Collins plays on our assumption that grandmothers who appear kindly are more likely to be fooled than shifty. She milks that for all it's worth. Obviously if someone rises to her level of the Republican Party, a multi-term senator from a blue state, her reliable vote for Republican atrocities gets her a lot of deference, and we know it.

One of the most important principles in programming is that you want to expose problems in code when you're working on it. The more time between when you did the work and when you find the problem, the more impossible it's going to be to implement a good fix. It's analogous to finding a flaw in the design of something buried under the foundation of a skyscraper, long after the whole building has been constructed.

An example, after shipping Drummer in October of last year, immediately a design flaw in Old School popped up. It was written in 2017. The fix required raising the structure and building in another layer below a previously middle layer of the onion, without breaking anything. The job got done, but it was incredibly stressful. Required the moral support of a few users spread all over the world (that was the nature of the problem).

I'm seeing this principle today because I'm adapting an app I wrote in 2020 to a new environment. I'm getting to fix problems in this code that would have been very difficult to fix if I weren't doing a complete from-the-ground-up rebuild. And there are no users of this stuff, so no compatibility to preserve. It's one of the reasons that an app doesn't really get done right until you fully implement it for the third or fourth time.

Is this why Musk got cold feet?

Why is Musk trying to pull out of the Twitter deal?

I don't think it has much to do with how many bots are using Twitter, or whether Democrats are assholes, or even that Musk did or didn't show his dick to a stewardess. I think what really matters is what's happening to Tesla stock, and with it, Musk's wealth.

Here are some facts.

  • Musk sent his acquisition offer to Twitter on April 13.
  • On that day Tesla stock was trading at $1022.37 per share.
  • Today Tesla is selling for $645. That's about a 37% drop.

I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that Musk and his partners are all borrowing to buy Twitter. They certainly don't want to sell stock to raise the money to buy Twitter because that would be a taxable event. And if you take out a loan with your stock as collateral, you don't have to sell the stock, so -- no taxes. It's how rich people buy things. Even not-so-rich people do it. A moderately wealthy person who could afford to pay cash for a house, probably would just take out a loan, to avoid paying taxes.

But the huge drop in Tesla stock, and whatever stocks Larry Ellison is borrowing against to raise the money for his part of the deal, means that the bankers who are lending against that stock as collateral will want more stock. No problem you say, they all have lots of stock. But maybe he's already used that stock as collateral on other loans? Who knows how much of a stretch this is for Musk. He might not have enough stock to do the deal now. But he signed the deal, so..

$TSLA before and after April 13.

Musk and his partners are squeezed in a hard-to-have-foreseen way. The deal has become more expensive and harder to do. And maybe the market "correction" isn't done yet. Maybe Tesla will be worth half what it was, or less?

BTW, if you want to get an idea of what this is like, season one of Succession has the young Kendall Roy in a similar bind. ??

Unless the market and $TSLA recover quickly this downturn is hitting Musk a lot harder than it would have if he had not done the Twitter deal. But he did, so he's kind of fucked, or so it seems.

Listen to your enemies

I find sometimes my mind isn't open to learning, much to my detriment, I've learned.

Suppose there was a public figure you loathed, say their name was X, and one day you see in a book entitled "X's plan for world domination."

I would buy the book right away, without a second thought, and read it cover to cover. I would want to know exactly what's on this person's mind. At least I hope I would!

But I find that often I turn away from gifts like this.

This is a note to remind myself not to do that. ;-)

I'll give you an example. I was telling a friend about a girlfriend who I had just broken up with. They said it sounds like she's playing The Rules. He explained it was a book that was the rage, I had never heard of it. I got the book, it was a quick read, and I think my friend was right. In the future I knew what to watch out for.

I don't get where people who are selling their stock are putting the proceeds. Anything that's "safe" will be subject to inflation.

Repubs and world domination

If no one had ever climbed the tallest mountain in the world, you can be sure there would be people whose life goal is to be the first to climb it.

No one person has ever dominated the entire world economy. And there have always been people who wanted to be the first. And in no time in human history has it been more possible, and the resulting power been more awesome. And the people who want it, will soon have it.

Probably some of them aren't actually trying to dominate the world, some probably just want to kill a lot of people. And that sure is happening. Covid.

But here's the really scary part. When Hitler tried to achieve world domination in the 1940s, he controlled a very small country, and even though he managed to grow it significantly through war, he never got close to dominating the world.

I think if he had come before FDR, there's a fair chance the US would've sided with Germany, not the allies. Why do I say that? Slavery. It was a very Nazi-like thing we did there. Hitler learned a lot from slavery in the US. America's philosophy with its big ideas was a lie. Our corrections have been big, but short-lived, the post Civil War reconstruction, the New Deal, and the period after WW II when the Repubs foolishly bet too much too early with Goldwater, yielding a huge Democratic majority and a president (Johnson) was knew how to use the power. But it quickly snapped back with Nixon's Silent Majority. And Reagan. And the Bushes. And Trump and who knows what comes next, but it's going in the wrong direction, obviously.

World domination is definitely at stake in the fight between the Repubs and everyone else. Remember, this isn't a small country like Germany in the 30s, we're the military behemoth with the reserve currency for the world. The Repubs won't have to fight a world war to get further than any world dominator has ever gotten. They will have that from Day 1. No need to fight anyone. Putin and Xi will be at the inaugural. NATO will not be invited.

I've read a lot of American history in the last two years when it dawned on me how big the lie was we were told in school. It seems in the last few years we've been starting to tell more truth to the kids, and the Repubs are putting a stop to that.

Anyway, lots of destruction if we don't get in the way of the Republican Party's assumption of power.

Yesterday I wrote about a utility that takes an OPML list of RSS feeds and validates them. Only feeds that can be read and are parseable are added to the OPML file it creates. It's what I use to clean up old lists before putting them in a database. I can see from where I'm going next that I won't be swinging back this way for a bit, so I thought it was better to point to it now, in case people could use it. Important: It's a programmer's utility and meant to be example code. You have to be a JavaScript programmer to use it. If you have questions, post a comment in this issue thread.

Thread: There's a new Mac outliner which is designed to interop with Drummer. Gotta love that.

The Bose speaker review

I've been buying smart battery-powered Bluetooth speakers almost since they first came out, starting with the Beats Pill, which I had mounted on the handlebars of the bike I rode in Manhattan. Lots of people asked what it was, and where could they get one. Since then I've bought speakers from JBL, Tribit, Ultimate Ears, and others. None of them cost more than $100. My favorite so far is the Tribit, it's tiny, has a huge sound, and it's got a great feel in the hand.

Then the other day I figured out what I wanted for summer outdoor lounging -- a battery-powered speaker that had Alexa built in. So I did a little shopping, found there aren't many, and they're all really expensive. I asked for advice on Twitter, and decided to blow some money, ordering a $400 Bose speaker. The reviews were stunning. I had a hard time imagining how the sound could be that great, compared to how great the much cheaper models were, but I had to find out. They offered free returns. So all I was risking was a little time.

Here's the top line. It was a huge disappointment in every way.

  • I had to download their app just to turn it on, and then I had to create an account on their service. I also had to check off their agreement, which of course I didn't read. So right off the bat, before it even says anything to me, I hate it.
  • Then it takes ten minutes to download the updated system software.
  • To use Alexa, I had to go through another signon process which required me to remember the password I used for their system, which very luckily I did (I didn't try, I never plan on using that service again).
  • Okay now finally, I say "Alexa WNYC," our local NPR station. Nothing happens. Then the speaker upstairs starts playing WNYC. I yell ALEXA STOP upstairs. No good. So I go upstairs and tell it again to stop, and again it doesn't. So I pull the plug. Then I hear the Alexa in the bedroom is doing the same thing. I go in there and pull the plug. Go back downstairs. The Bose speaker is doing nothing. Okay I take a deep breath and try it again. "Alexa WNYC." Exactly the same thing happens. So I go upstairs again, pull the plugs on the speakers, this time, leave them unplugged, go back downstairs and try again. "Alexa WNYC." Nothing. I figure I'll try it again later.
  • I'm not done with the flaws of the product, but I want to pause here for a moment. I'm accustomed to setting up Alexas by plugging them in, waiting a few seconds while it boots up, then it looks around and somehow finds one of the other Alexas and asks if it's okay if it uses the data on it to configure this one. I always smile at this point, man that's good design, and I say YES of course, and in a few seconds I'm listening to NPR. The process involves no work beyond plugging it in and giving my consent. I imagine it needs to download updated system software, but wisely waits until late at night to do it. Why make the human wait while the robot does its housekeeping?
  • Okay the next day I figure enough with Alexa, let's see how this is as a speaker. So I press the Bluetooth button on top of the speaker, and I connect my iPhone in the normal way for Bluetooth. Then I play an old McCartney song. It sounds like any of the other speakers I have. I hit pause and start playing another song, and it never plays. I hit pause and play again, and it plays for a few seconds then freezes. I repeat the pause-play thing again and again, that's it -- it never plays another bit of music.

Conclusion: This is a piece of shit product. Maybe the Alexa problems are really Amazon problems, but if so, I can't believe they shipped the thing in this condition. But Bluetooth is mature technology. I've never had a problem with Bluetooth on any of the other speakers.

And there's no way this product is worth $400. Even if it worked it wouldn't be worth any more than $100, and probably a lot less because the idea is this is supposed to be a portable product and it's much less portable than the $43 Tribit, and honestly -- if it sounds better, I couldn't tell the difference.

Today I wrote a Node app that reads an OPML subscription list, loops over all the feeds and only passes on the ones that are reachable and parseable. Yes, I plan to share the code, because it's useful and also good example code for reading and writing lists, and reading feeds.

I've stopped doing Wordle. I start, and then I get to the third guess and think of something I'd rather do.

One of the coolest things about the web is that people do tutorials with videos showing how they do things like install a new antenna on your roof, or put together an Adirondack chair. When people bad mouth the web, they forget about miracles like that.

Making Twitter quieter

A thread from Twitter converted to a post. Someday I'm going to have to write a script to do this automatically.

If Twitter had a Steve Jobs type leader he'd come up with a brilliant idea, akin to noise-cancelling headphones (and call it that), and explain how satisfying it can be to tell the trolls to shut the fuck up. Ahhhh nice and quiet.

I used to live on noisy streets in Palo Alto and Berkeley. I moved to NYC, even worse (I lived in the West Village, then the East Village) until I moved uptown and then ahhh nice and quiet. Moved to the mountains, even better! There's something to be said for a little peace.

Here's how I made my twtr quiet. At the first sign of trollish behavior, I mute or block. Works great.

The trollish behavior is basically anyone who wants to argue with you. People who say unfair things and you want to point out how unfair they are. If you find yourself protesting, the chances you're communicating with a troll approach 100 percent.

To determine if the person conversing with you is a troll, look at your own feelings. If you feel they misunderstand you and want to correct them -- it's a troll.

We've learned so much about trolls. Trolls aren't nearly as frustrating as newbies who refuse to turn them off and insist on setting them straight for all to see. Ohhh, that's exactly what they want. It's like having a cat who brings home dead birds. I'm sure the cat meant well, but..

And btw, in 2022, the entire Republican Party platform is trolling.

Whoever runs Twitter needs the sass of Steve Jobs with his incredible ability to make simple ideas simple. Noise-cancelling headphones for Twitter. Instead of focusing on trying to diminish the brightness of the sun, give everyone sunglasses.

A Repub is someone who likes to troll Libs.

A Lib is someone who thinks Repubs want to know why they're wrong.

One of the coolest things about the web is that people do tutorials with videos showing how they do things like install a new antenna on your roof, or put together an Adirondack chair. When people bad mouth the web, they forget about miracles like that. That said, there must be videos that demo how to shut down the trolls yourself.

The more you make a certain upstate NY congressperson famous for pissing off libs, the more popular you make her with her constituents. Sometimes it's better to just stifle.

Interesting results from yesterday's poll about when life begins. Clearly the poll got spammed by right-to-lifers, many hours after the poll went up, the proportion who said life begins at conception shot up from 10 percent to over 35. A poll like this of course only means what you personally take from it, it has no mathematical significance. It's as if I asked a group of people in a subway car what they think, but the car was only going to my neighborhood.

I've been using Hover.com for years, and have a lot of domains parked there, and I wish I could get the list of domains into my outliner easily. I don't need a full API, just a page that lists all my domains in an OPML file. Access it through the browser and save it locally. Read it into my outliner as a file. And then I can do whatever I want. It seems like an easy thing to implement. Not sure how many other people would use it right away, but I bet a bunch would use it once it was available. ??

BTW, speaking of Hover, they took out the killer feature I wrote up in 2019. I read their explanation (sorry can't find it now), it has to do with DNS tech of course, it's why the other guys don't do it either. But it really seemed to work and made my setup a little more flexible, which is something we really look for from DNS. Helps keep our sites working.

Twitch did an amazing job, turning off the livestream of the Buffalo shooter in two minutes. The current governor of NY, Kathy Hochul, says that isn't good enough. As usual, NPR completely mangled the story. They should get reporters who have some idea of what livestreaming is before reporting on it.

For the Knicks, we set our expectations low, and therefore are not disappointed. This is the equivalent of winning the championship. It's just as gratifying.

Poll: When does life begin?

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