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I'm even older than Aaron Sorkin, and I can't believe he said that. The "young people" he's talking about is of course AOC who should keep doing exactly what she's doing. So brilliant and clear-thinking and joyful. Exactly what we need now. And of course she has the answer.

At DLD, an annual tech conference in Munich, the week before Davos, Sheryl Sandberg asks What Kind of Internet Do We Want? Her company is suffocating the open web, so itís really not her question to ask. Imho, ultimately we'll think of the big tech companies the way we think of any powerful dominant industry. Imagine the CEO of Exxon on stage asking What Kind of Environment Do We Want? The pundits would say "see there's nothing to worry about, Exxon wants the best for us." And of course they don't. Not their job.

Also I see what she did there. Sandberg asks what kind of internet do we want. Hah. As if what we want has anything to do with it. They hire good PR consultants and speech writers at Facebook. The best. Remember, never automatically accept the premise of a question.

It's not a project I could undertake personally, but I would love a version of Frontier that runs on Ubuntu. Then I could move my whole act there. It's the only reason I have to use a Mac for my dev work.

James Ball writing in the Columbia Journalism Review says tech companies should not fund journalism, for the same reasons I've been giving for decades. But he misses one. Tech has created a level playing field where you and I have equal chance to write the news as any comfortable Church of The Savvy pundit. Journalism wants money from tech so they can keep pretending they are the source of truth for the masses, when their lazyness and corruption have made our lives worse. We need an Indivisible for journalism. Journalism should compete with tech, as distasteful as it may be for them to create a level playing field where all of us can report the news. Tech had the guts to give all of us an equal voice. Journalism must match that.

This is a placeholder

I'm going to write about something new here.

Two podcasts

I took a longish walk this morning up to Zabar's and back, and listened to two podcasts on the way, Friday's Daily and last week's Radio Open Source. The Daily was about the splintering of the Women's March along racial lines. They discussed the issues that the march stood for, all of them women's issues, but they didn't get my perspective, and I marched, so I feel I'm entitled to an opinion. I didn't mind that they called it the Women's March, but I felt it was a march by everyone who was opposed to Trump. I was unhappy when they didn't let people who are anti-abortion speak (I am pro-choice btw). And it was totally predictable, based on experience in the antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, that they would splinter and drift into irrelevance, taking our hopes of organizing against Trump with them.

The Radio Open Source episode was about the Green New Deal and our hero AOC. I am a huge fan of the podcast, and I have the same comment about this episode as I do about every one. What people want is meaning in their lives. That's why it's brilliant that AOC included the idea that any American can get a public service job helping America transition to the new energy system. Why is it so exciting? Because people want to make a difference, we all want our lives to mean something. Otherwise everything in the show was illuminating, as always, lots of new facts about solar and wind energy, and a general optimism which is what I enjoy most about the show.

Good morning sports fans!

Thanks to all the people who Like my posts here. I always look to see who's checking in. True story. A friend was talking, face-to-face, about one of my podcasts. I asked why he didn't Like it. He said he did. I checked later, and sure enough he had Liked it. Ever since I've been checking them every day, sometimes more than once. ??

A bunch of people are using Electric Pork these days. Somehow it caught on??

Climate change is going to create many millions of refugees. So the elite in the US want to get good at building walls. I doubt if they care about the southern border of the US though. They're all building estates in New Zealand, as far away from the fallout as they can get.

The 100 most important technologies according to Gizmodo. I think anesthesia is much more important than #85, for example. An interesting conversation-starter.

Today I have some work to do in Amazon S3. I'm just deleting a folder and creating a new one. Every time I go into edit mode on S3 I realize how much time we spend there and how crude the tools are. There must be a million people who maintain data on S3. Why not invest in some great tools for us Amazon? And just think if they were user-level tools, how many more people could benefit from reliable, inexpensive, app-accessible cloud storage. What an advantage they have, and what an opportunity for a competitor.

Good morning sports fans! The year 2019 is rushing by. We're approaching February, then before you know it it'll be March, and you know what comes next -- April. After that we start getting ready for summer, and then Halloween and The Holidays, and another year in the bag. That's life folks.

And it's around this time every year that I fix the copyright notice at the bottom of every page on my blog.

My friend Blogdiva is back. She loves the new Congress. Me too. They're the Beatles, I say. Hard Day's Night she said. Yes! ??

The best line in a great movie: "Everyone wants that dear. It doesn't exist."

The Gillette commercial

A bunch of comments...

  • When I heard about the commercial my first reaction was why are they doing this. If their products mostly sell to men this will hurt them in sales. It's hard for men (and women too) to defend the gender without invoking the ire of others, so mostly people stay silent and let the myth that men are responsible for the problems in our society go unchallenged. But you can push back via private acts, like choosing another brand, or voting. In private contexts you can be very vocal without fear of retribution. So even if you don't hear the pushback, it could come at the cash register.
  • Or maybe there's something I don't understand. Even if Gillette is a brand for men, maybe it's women who most often make the purchasing decision. Or maybe Gillette is struggling and they can use the controversy to help rekindle brand awareness?
  • I searched on Amazon for other brands of shaving razors for men, and wow, Gillette appears to own the category. All the ads are for Gillette products. They are the Google of men's shaving.
  • Ironically there are men who take this opportunity to abuse other men if they object. The assumption is if you don't like the Gillette message, for any reason, you must be an abuser. Of course this makes no sense. Today my Twitter timeline has had quite a few male-abusive tantrums from accounts that appear to be authored by men. Of course any account could be written by a troll of any gender.
  • I've written this many times, women have better PR than men.
  • Women can be awful. Is it toxic? I won't go there. I don't like that word applied to men, so I also wouldn't like it applied to women. However I have seen women do unspeakably awful things.
  • With all those disclaimers, I was moved to tears in watching the Gillette commercial because I am moved when I see people of any gender standing up for people who are being ganged up on, or taken advantage of. I just wish they had taken a balanced approach. Boys have to learn to deal with girls too.
  • I'll tell you a story about that. I once witnessed my two nieces who of course I love, taunt a boy the same age. The boy was helpless. After it was over, I took him aside and told him I saw what happened, and I thought it was wrong. It's important to watch out for this, and help kids, no matter what their gender. All kids start out innocent.
  • If you're still listening here's the closer. Every boy had a mother. We create each other. If you want kids to be good, be good to them. Set an example. Try to see things from their point of view. Help them. Listen. Share your values, but don't try to change them. Even kids have the right to decide who they are.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was demolished today.

A friend who's about 10 years younger than me wrote a blog post a while back saying that he was going to stop writing software in about 10 years because he'd be too old to do it at that time. I'm sure he didn't say it to offend me, but it did. He has no idea. And btw that was about five years ago, and he's still going strong. Heh. Also, the other day I wrote a tweet saying that I strive for simplicity in my programming work. I've been doing that ever since I read the source code to a famous OS and saw how clean and sparse it was. I wanted to do that too. That was 40-plus years ago. Today I write cleaner code than I could have at any other point in my career. The younger version of myself could imagine what I do today, but couldn't do it. So the myth that programming is something you forget how to do, or can't do, as you get older is a lie. It's not like basketball or skiing. It's a discipline. And as you get older, you get better. I'm not saying that because I want it to be true (as many people probably think) rather because it is true.

I had a change in perspective on the shutdown. It isn't a sign of ineptness, it's an attack on the country. Connect the dots. Who's in the White House and where does he get his orders. Thought I would share that, of course no one listens. ;-)

I watched a bit of MSNBC last night, and had another shift in perspective. There's nothing more for them to say. They're repeating things, aghast, that we knew two years ago, that they were aghast at then, when they were fresh. The shift was this. They feel as helpless as I do. Might as well enjoy ourselves. We're stuck. The only ones with any power are the useful idiot in the White House and AOC of course and Nancy Pelosi.

I'm shopping for a car, and at this point if it doesn't have Apple CarPlay, that's a deal-stopper.

Look at how AOC links reform in politics with reform in journalism. You don't see this kind of certainty coming out of Tow or Shorenstein. But she's right, and people are listening. Journalism must respond. I want to be part of that response. Think about how an Indivisible for journalism might work. We have the tools, we just need the will.

I was at the Knicks game today. We lost but came close at the end. In NY we call this a moral victory.

Journalism and politics must both be reformed around reality, you can't have one without the other. We need an Indivisible for journalism. We already have the tech, we just need the will.

In the late 90s I got a call from Bill Gates's office saying they wanted to discuss Internet identity. Until then I hadn't thought about it much, because the web was barely used for commerce; there were no massive social networks. This was before all that. Now many years later, I understand the problem well, I've lived it, so far without much cost. There's a huge societal vulnerability because we don't have control of identity for many important things, like banking, loans, all kinds of property ownership, as well as the social risks. But because money is so central to identity, it's surprising that there isn't a Google or Amazon of identity. Seems there's money to be made here. An organization with physical branches everywhere, with people in them who can help with indentity problems. Starbucks would have a good start. Amazon, Google and Apple probably have plans for it.

Starbucks also seems well-positioned to be a cannabis retailer. It's the perfect environment to buy and consume.

Oy the horse race is so boring. Bernie or Biden or Warren or whatever. Whoever the Dems nominate we'd better all vote for them. That's why it's all such bullshit. It doesn't matter who gets nominated. Whoever it is, they will be infinitely more suited than the Repub.

Trump is a Putin-loyal oligarch. Look at this picture to see where he fits in. He's comfortable with these guys. He's probably a bit more senior than they, but not much. And he's thought to be an idiot by them, but a powerful idiot. (Goes beyond the usual useful idiot.)

Yesterday I reported on what you get when you download your archive from Flickr. Later I remembered I was archiving my Flickr site in an S3 bucket and this morning I figured out where it was. And now I'm looking through old pictures, that are already saved. For example, in January 2007 I went to CES and (apparently) was moving into my new house in Berkeley. In June I was in Rome, and also was waiting in line with the Scobles for the very first iPhone. A picture I took with my new iPhone at my favorite sushi takeout place in Berkeley.

Photos from two previous living rooms, one in Woodside and one in Berkeley (both in California).

Imagine that American politics since 2015 was a series like Game of Thrones or The Sopranos. The Helsinki Summit would have been the big reveal, in the second to last episode of the season, when we now know with certainty that Trump is a Russian mafia oligarch working for Putin.

Time for a demonstration?

Maybe now's a good time for a protest?

Remember how we marched on Inauguration Day in 2017. Maybe a big push right now would have an even bigger effect.

An idea: Cancel all trips that involve air travel until the shutdown is over.

Listened to the Daily podcast interview a sheriff from an Arizona border county. The border wall story was used to stoke hatred of non-white, non-Christian Americans during the campaign. That's what it means. The "humanitarian crisis" the president calls for is a fig leaf for people like the sheriff. It's a loud obvious dog whistle. Can't budge an inch or we're supporting hate.

Michael Cohen's open, under-oath testimony before Congress will be important because it's probably going to be the first truthful and somewhat complete testimony the public has seen. Impeachment is driven by public sentiment. It can't and shouldn't happen until a substantial majority of the people demand it, not just favor it. You don't casually impeach and remove a president, you can't do it only on principle. It has to be driven by the public determination.

More on the dual-major journalism and computer science program. Yesterday I wrote how that could be great for journalism, now I want to talk about the flip side, how it's great for the software journalists use, i.e. publishing software. In my experience the best software is that which is designed by people who use the product. They bump against the limits as users do, think of shortcuts and simplifications (called factoring in software). If you don't use the software your ideas about how it should work are theoretical. The closer you are to the user experience, the better you understand the tradeoffs from the user's perspective. And that ultimately is the most important one. So applied to this dual-major concept when the students learn their comp sci, it can be in the context of how journalists use computer systems. And with better understanding of users on the part of the students, after all they are users, the better the publishing software can be.

HBO has been playing all the Sopranos episodes back to back for a few days. Yesterday by luck I hit on the very last episode. Earlier in the day I read a debate on what happened at the end. I am of the school that yeah of course he died, but the person who took the opposite position was convincing. We don't know what happened at the end so leave it there. But I got to see all the scenes that were discussed, the same day. Intense, and fun.

We can't budge on the so-called wall

First, I am not a Democrat. I'm an independent but these days I vote straight Democrat because what the Republicans have become is so abhorrent to me. We're at the very baseline of governance in the US. Do you or do you not stand for the Constitution? Today only the Dems do. The Repubs do not.

Anyway, if Pelosi and Schumer give the president "the wall" which I put in quotes because we have no clue what it means, we are giving into the idea that a majority of the American electorate have no say in how the country is run.

We've been pushed to the limit by the Repubs. They wouldn't confirm Merrick Garland. They have installed a majority on the court even though they don't represent a majority in the country. The latest appointee slandered the court during his confirmation hearings. It's going to get worse. They gerrymandered Congressional districts so that in order to control the House the Dems have to win a landslide, which they did, in 2018, and even so, according to the Repubs, have no say in governance.

Enough. We have a system of government. Respect it. Trump's "wall" is an imaginary thing. It's an example of the emperor with no clothes. If we can't stand against this and say no, and have it stick, then we have given up any hope of ever having self-government in the US.

What I got from Flickr

I requested to download all the info Flickr has about me on Tuesday, got the data on Wednesday, and yesterday I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out what I got.

  • There were 14 zip files, each containing one folder.
  • Total of 6.59GB. 12,729 files
  • 13 of the folders contain JPG images.
  • One folder, named 72157704082859561_da410b4a23fb_part1, contained only JSON files, 36.8MB, 6366 files. The vast majority of the JSON files have names like photo_6594805.json. I've uploaded one of the files to the Scripting News repo, so you can see what kind of data you get about each image.
  • Each of the 13 folders contains files with names like dsc02455jpg_76330356_o.jpg. The dates on the files unfortunately are all the same, they don't say when the photos were taken. This would be helpful in piecing things together. It appears the first part of the name, before the underscore, is derived from the name of the file. Then following the first underscore and before the second is a number, which appears to be the identifier of the picture. This I believe is the connection between the image and the JSON file, above.

I loaded the JSON files into a section of a Frontier object database, and the names of the JPG files into another section. I wrote a script that looped over all the data from the JSON files, got the ID and then checked if there were images to go with that ID. 5816 image files existed and 533 didn't. Not bad, but far from perfect. Here's a list of IDs for which there were no images.

I haven't tried to generate a static site using this info, but it seems you could. It would be missing some images, about 9 percent. Even so, it would have been really nice if Flickr delivered it in that format. It's nice to have the JSON files, but most users won't be able to use them unless software is written, and they find it.

I just skimmed the Vice article about RSS. Up front they make it sound like something dramatic happened. That gravestone image was pretty bad. Someday it'll come back to them. ;-) Anyway there was, momentarily, some drama. The two groups wanted to do very different things. Netscape, as far as I'm concerned, wanted to bootstrap syndication of web content, and that was validated by the enormous popularity of RSS for that application. They had a vision that was right. And yes, they did one day just disappear. I wanted to preserve the progress we had made and build on it. I loved the idea since feeds provided exactly the level playing field I wanted for bloggers and pros. Look at all the good that came from that. Ask TechCrunch or Daring Fireball, Daily Kos or Talking Points Memo. And podcasting. These things all got their start because there was that level playing field. That vision was what was driving me. Ultimately the two forks went their separate ways, as they should have, because we were going different places. It's unfortunate both were called RSS, but if you study the history of tech standards these kinds of tales of woe are more the rule than the exception. It's a good story. I guess, for me it's the ancient past.

Apparently several American universities are starting a new double-major, Journalism and Computer Science. I've been asked for input to one of the programs, and have started to think about it. One immediate idea is that the students will be able to write about technical topics without obfuscation. Examples: Hillary's emails. Facebook's API. They sound like scandals when the NYT writes about them, but what are the actual facts. Believe it or not, they don't say. The business and political press will do what they do, write shallow and inflammatory versions of the story that cast the Hillary and Zuck (and of course others) in the worst possible light. But some of us want facts. At the beginning, so we know if there's anything to the allegations or are they just smears. There are millions of people today who understand what a mail server is, to them it's not a mystery. There should be some news that's written for people with that basic knowledge. The students in this program will be learning how to communicate about technology with a sense that the answers are knowable, and not mysterious. So there should be an immediate benefit to all of us, not just the students, from these programs.

Another benefit of the new double-major -- journalism will be able to closely examine the behavior of other tech giants, not just Facebook. For example, Google has been trying to take control of the networking standard of the web, HTTP. This is not in the public interest, yet there has been no discussion of it in the press. That's wrong.

Here's a scriptingNews format feed example. They can be hard to find. Hopefully now at least this one will show up in searches.

A podcast can be much more than a radio program. Since so many podcasters come from journalism, they miss this opportunity. They have no sense that there's value in the people who hear them.

Because our POTUS is wildly insane, the United States itself is wildly insane. For example, the big controversy over $5 billion for an imaginary thing is overshadowing a real existential crisis, climate change. OK climate change is hard to grasp. What about all the Americans shooting other Americans. Most are American citizens born and bred in the USA. White Christians. As Trump would say, not our best people.

I had a thought that Radio Open Source, probably the longest-running and super excellent podcast that was born out of the Berkman Thursday group and BloggerCon, could be the centerpiece of a blogging and podcasting network. The people who contribute to ROS, their rolodex of interviewees, are incredible people, but here's something that we haven't begun to tap into -- I bet the people who listen to it are equally incredible. Imagine tapping into their intellect, energy, expertise and vision. Could be very powerful.

I just downloaded all my Flickr data. There's a lot of it.

Do you like intelligent and irreverent political commentary? Then you must subscribe to the Radio Open Source podcast.

Angus King on MSNBC said the thing I wished someone would say. 1. There already is a wall. 2. If you want to build something new, first tell us WTF it is because no one knows. I learned this from Leo McGarry on The West Wing. Don't accept the premise of the question.

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