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PotD 20 February 2017



PotD 19 February 2017



Steve Jobs would never let this happen Part II

While some decisions make some sort of sense, these are a bit crazy-making:

  • The power brick doesn’t come with the Appropriate Cable to charge the device.
  • Despite all the posturing about USB-C being the all-singing, all-dancing wave of the future get-on-the-train-now (cough firewire thunderbolt cough), the Appropriate Cable isn’t really USB-C and can’t be used as one in a pinch, even though it looks like one and takes up a USB-C port.
  • The retractable ears that you used to use to wrap the Appropriate Cable around the power brick are gone. Because the Appropriate Cable is a separate SKU and why would you want to keep the two together? Especially since you can’t use the AC for anything else useful.
  • The power cord that let the power brick connect to something Far Away, or to the overloaded power strip with the outlets too close or inappropriately oriented – is now a separate purchase. Like the Appropriate Cable.
  • Also like the USB-C/Lightning cable you need for your phone.

Yeah, I’m thinking SJ would not have let these things happen.

How do they still even get the now-three-year-old parts for the Mac Pro, assuming anyone was stupid enough to buy one at this point? Three years is forever in computer land.

Damn you autocorrect

TIL autocorrect will change the entirely correct “pin number” (referring to which pin on a connector to which a particular wire goes) to the entirely incorrect and redundant “PIN number”.

Every time.

Five minutes later, autocorrect was disabled.

Here might be the place to note that My Benevolent Employer’s new OS imaging and MDM policy breaks the wonderful Migration Assistant. Meaning that when the new MBP finally arrived (12 weeks after I paid an additional 25% to get it sooner), I had to set it up from scratch. Which took something that usually takes (an annoying to be sure) four hours and turned it into something that’s still got me frustrated two weeks later, and paying daily charges to keep the now-overdue old computer so I can figure out which settings I had.

Thanks, MBE!

Also damn-your-eyes, developers who don’t use the defaults of where preferences ought to be so they can just be copied from ~/Library/Preferences or ~/Library/Application Support.

Of course the time spent doing this comes out of project money, not some mythical I&T account for me doing bullshit work that I shouldn’t have to do. In other words, they’ve externalized the costs of breaking shit and pushing their job onto the end user. What do they care that it then costs days of productivity, since it costs their cost center nothing?

MBE also mandated that all gasoline-powered carts be converted to electric, but didn’t provide the funds to put in accessible outlets to charge them. Again, that money comes out of the account that ought to be used to pay for, you know, doing actual science.


I might have been in my fourth decade before I figured out that I had been taught to tie my shoes incorrectly. Pro-tip: It’s a square knot, not a granny knot.

It’s still a bit of a mental catch to tie the laces correctly, even though I’ve been doing it right for all of this millennium.

It’s one of the blessings of the modern age that shoelaces don’t break anymore (except Five Ten). However, one would have thought that shoemakers would not use the laces that won’t hold a knot. You know the ones, the slick 2.5 or 3mm accessory cord that is just too smooth to hold a regular shoelace knot, granny or square.

But I’ve purchased three pairs of shoes in the last couple of months that have the laces that won’t hold a regular knot.

You’d think that someone at La Sportive, Arcteryx, or Merrel would walk around in the greater-than-a-c-note shoes that they are selling to climbers – people who are pretty serious about their shoes – and figure out that smooth accessory cord shoelaces are not the way to go. Yeah, they might not break. But most shoelaces don’t break. I have shoes that go through multiple resoles yet the I pull the laces out when they are done and throw them in a drawer just-in-case but they’ll never come out again. Because shoelaces don’t break.

They will, however, get replaced because they won’t hold a damn knot. That’ll drive me to this real quick.

Of course, I know how to tie a shoelace knot that will never come undone. But I shouldn’t have to.

I never got in a race with Danielle to see who could tie their laces faster. Nor a typing race on either phone or computer – I’m fast, but a man’s got to know his limitations. I can’t beat a child who’s never known an IBM Selectric, or, the modern equivalent of rulers-across-knuckles, a manual Remington. Damn the teacher who thought we should do a semester on the manual typewriters “because I had to.” Damn her eyes. It should have been obvious to her even then that manual typewriters were buggy whips. It was just mean, and it slowed my typing for years.

I’d argue that the most useful thing I learnt in high school was how to touchtype, followed by algebra, and being suspicious of anyone being nice to me.

PotD 4 January 2017



PotD 3 January 2017



PotD 2 January 2017



PotD 1 January 2017



PotD 31 December 2016



PotD 30 December 2016



The Big Read

It amuses me no end, that the people behind The Big Read of Moby Dick, predominately chose mostly people with English accents to read The Great American Novel.

Invasive species

Driving down the autobahn at 200 kph on a frosty wet morning, I was a bit nonplussed to get passed by a Porsche GT3 – for me, Porsche 911s are a car for sunny California roads.

Of course, the autobahn is the native ecology for 911s – wet, cold, icy, and no speed limits. It’s California where they are an invasive species, out of their environment on dry warm pavement with 105 kph speed limits.

Using the L(whatever)S

About a year ago, while I was gallivanting around, and paying someone about three times too much to stay at my house and dogsit while they were renting their place out via AirBNB, my thermostat failed. In December. The day after Xmas.

Now this isn’t Buffalo. It’s not life-threatening. But having spent a cold winter shivering without a heater (Dirtbag climber dude thought process: “Ah, 52 F. That’s not that cold. I’ve been way colder than that lots of nights! I can make it through to spring!”), hanging out in a 55 F house wears on you. Especially if you are a skinny little actress. I would imagine. It was a long winter for me, and I am a big warm slab of beef, aside from my frost-nipped toes.

After that miserable winter, I had the 100 year old floor heater ripped out and a modern central air system put in, forthwith. I don’t get use it much, but it’s very nice to have. When you want it, you want it.

With the nine hour time difference, and the basic incompetence of a $75/night housesitter, I spent a lot of nights in Spain standing in the dark or the rain where my phone had reception (cause the climber bungalow didn’t, but the clearing across the road did). After climbing, after dinner, and instead of sleeping, or hanging out, or having a drink on a cold night. Trying to mediate between a flaky person’s schedule and the HVAC company that just didn’t give a shit. Plus holidays. I should have been living it up with the other climbers over warm sangria and sleeping late, and instead I was lying awake at night wondering if my dogs were being taken care of by someone who was clearly not that together.

Eventually the HVAC people made it out to everyone’s maximal inconvenience, and I sat in a hotel room in Gandia looking up thermostat prices on Amazon (because they couldn’t tell me via email, or in advance (“gotta look at your system first”. “You installed it, why don’t you just look it up?” “Oh, we don’t keep records.”).

They wanted close to a grand to install a Nest or Ecobee – $500 for the $250-everywhere-else thermostat, and $400 or $450 to install it.

Clearly that was bullshit and not gonna happen.

So I went with the $67 el cheapo thermostat that they charged $250 for (believe me, I argued with them about this), and only $250 for installation that took less than an hour. I know because I was on the phone the whole time.

Truly a blue light special, this thermostat was lit by a blue LCD screen that I had to cover with a cardboard flap, as it lit up the whole house at night otherwise.

A few days ago, I saw that the Ecobee was on sale, and right next to it was a button that said “Amazon installation: $77”. Really?!? I pulled the trigger and said goodbye to the blue light special even though it had cost me $$$ and worked well enough.

It would have been easy enough to install the new thermostat myself, but there’s a lot to be said for someone coming in and doing in 30 minutes what would take me a couple of hours of reading instructions and looking at videos.

The Amazon contractor showed up at the beginning of the window, was polite and friendly, called and told me what time he would be there, then was!, and came in and got it done. $77 for 30 minutes work, $169 for the thermostat. Which seems about right. For what Air-Tro would have charged close to $1000.

Like the LBS and LHS, I would like for the local HVAC to stay in business. I want to use them to install a new system and do maintenance (for which they have jacked up the biannual price to $200/visit, for 45 minutes work, and for which they never show up on time, even though I arrange for the first appointment of the day). I want to be able to call them and get shit done. But for a reasonable price.

But I don’t see how, when the basic mode is rip-off everything you can get your hands on for all you are worth.

So good riddance, LHVAC. Go join the LBS and LHS in local business graveyard. I’ll be a bit sorry. But like the LBS and LHS (and taxis!), the grave you are digging is your own.


I have to give Apple credit for one thing in iOS 10 – they finally made the Maps “End” button bigger than one pixel, to either see, or hit.

They still haven’t figured out how to tell Siri to pronounce “LAX”, or the interchange between the 5/10 to get to the east side of DTLA (where only about a million hipsters live), or that I’m not going to take Orange Grove to the 110 no matter how many times I ignore it, or that sometimes it’s better to take the 405/134 even if it’s way more miles, or that there’s construction and no way for me to take the entrance Siri wants, so stop telling me to go back to it.

I’ll believe that we’ll have self-driving cars and AI when AI finally figures out how to get from one place to another. It ain’t happened yet.