I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography, time lapse and the occasional well deserved rant. Follow along with a monthly email, RSS or on Facebook. About 7,250,102,900 people have not visited yet so it might be your first time here. Suggested reading: Got It, or roll the dice.

How does the Nest Learning Thermostat work?

Nest learning thermostat, learning

Not only does it know when you're home but the Nest Learning Thermostat also knows when you're nearby. Here's how it works.

You crank up the heat to 70 and walk away. Nest then immediately returns to 62 degrees.

Thinking there must be something screwy with the algorithm you turn it back up to 70. Nest knows that it's in trouble so it displays a comforting message like 'Heat set until 10pm', waits for you to leave and then sets the temperature back to 62 degrees.

Giving up on the learning part you use the app to manually program it to keep the heat on. Nest now uses its WiFi connection to phone the gas company and disconnect your service.

Privacy Policy Update and Comment Notifications

The ITHCWY privacy policy has been updated to reflect changes in the blog comment system. Previously email addresses submitted with comments were only used to display a Gravatar. Starting today they will also be used for notifications and newsletter signup.

The first notification is when a comment is approved. You'll always be notified in this case if you enter an email address.

When you leave a comment you can opt in to receiving notifications when another comment is added to the same post.

Finally, you can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter when leaving a comment.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

San Francisco Botanical Garden

San Francisco Botanical Garden

San Francisco Botanical Garden

Bay Bridge Approach

Bay Bridge Approach

Book reviews for March 2018

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

3/5

 

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3) by N.K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3) by N.K. Jemisin

3/5

 

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) by N.K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) by N.K. Jemisin

3/5

 

San Francisco

San Francisco

Vernal (Spring) Equinox 2018

The moment that Spring starts in 2018 rendered in Catfood Earth

Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn starts south of the Equator. Rendered in Catfood Earth.

(Previously, Previously, Previously, Previously)

Facebook shouldn't own your social graph

Facebook shouldn't own your social graph

"Get News. Not too quickly. Avoid social. — Farhad Manjoo"

It's time to break up the Facebook social media monopoly.

There has been a shift in attitude towards regulation of tech companies recently, according to Axios:

"A majority of Americans are now concerned that the government won't do enough to regulate how U.S. technology companies operate, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll. Across the board, concern about government inaction is up significantly — 15 percentage points — in the past three months."

Roger McNamee recently suggested a subscription model in a Washington Post OpEd:

"Despite a firestorm of criticism, Facebook refuses to make material changes to its business practices. It has also refused to provide substantive data about Russian interference to congressional committees, despite several requests. As a result, we can expect interference in the upcoming midterm elections. Anyone can follow the Russian playbook; many are likely to do so."

I've made the same argument myself:

"I tried Diaspora and App.net but they make Google Plus look lively. Facebook, I would pay you for an ad-free, brand-free experience. Also a ban on text on images."

Facebook is unlikely to switch to an ad-free subscription model without being forced to do it. And if we're going to force them to do something why not make them open up the social graph?

Your social network should be your property and you should be able to move it between providers at will. All social network providers should push your content out to your network regardless of where your friends live and accept content back in the same way. Content may be blocked or altered based on community standards on import but never on export. We should mandate this portability and interoperability via legislation.

This means you can 'live' on Facebook or Google or somewhere new. Social media can become competitive again. You might choose to pay a subscription fee to have a friends only feed (maybe in the order that it was published). You might choose censorship, or you might prefer a platform that can handle breastfeeding. There will be plenty of room for innovation on top of the core network. Facebook will probably be a smaller company. Democracy might last a little longer.

This doesn't solve all the problems with Facebook (and social media in general) but it could be an important first step.

(Photo by Shripal Daphtary on Unsplash)

Book reviews for February 2018

The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2) by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2) by Michael Shaara

4/5

 

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

4/5

I just wish each short story was a whole book.

 

Dark State (Empire Games #2) by Charles Stross

Dark State (Empire Games #2) by Charles Stross

4/5

It's going to be a long, long wait for the third book...

 

Gun Insurance could pay for Buybacks

Gun Insurance could pay for Buybacks

Gun buybacks are not a new idea, in fact a mandatory buyback scheme was a big success in Australia. Gun insurance as a means of reducing gun violence isn't either. But what if you combined the two?

Set up a mandatory government run insurance program for all new firearms sales. If you are a 40 year old farmer with a shotgun stored in a gun safe then insurance is pretty cheap. If you are a 19 year old with an assault rifle then it is eyewateringly expensive. The risk that you will do something harmful with the gun is priced into the cost of ownership.

One of the criticisms of gun insurance (and of any gun control measure in general) is that there are so many firearms already in circulation in the US. So take the proceeds of the insurance scheme and use them to buy back guns.

Responsible gun owners are not inconvenienced, we reduce risky firearms sales and slowly draw down the number of uninsured guns in circulation.

(Previously)