Bottled Water

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bottled Water

A company called Evive launched this week to battle the evil of bottled water with reusable RFID equipped bottles that need a special filling station that plays advertising to you while you refill. Sort of like a water fountain but worse in every way possible. 

Concord Massachusetts just started to ban the sale of bottled water, joining several other towns and cities around the world. They've actually just banned small bottles, you can still buy a large one. 

Wouldn't it be better to leave the water on the shelf and ban Coke? 

Photo credit: Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden cc

Pelicans

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pelicans

Reviews and Links for April 2012

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

APIs: A Strategy Guide by Dan Woods

3/5

Works as a good checklist of the various business, legal, technical, marketing and strategic considerations you should think of when launching an API. Not a huge amount of depth in any one area though.

 

Pharmacology by Christopher Herz

4/5

A tale of legal and illegal drugs in San Francisco from the perspective of Sarah, a transplant from the mid-west in town to make money to send back to her sick father and expose the evils of the pharmaceutical industry. Reads like Sarah sat down next to you in a cafe and poured out her entire life story before you even knew what hit you.

 

Links

Interesting, but the first book I tried was wrong: http://t.co/gUPyhpjM (The Interpreter in Look to Windward)

ITHCWY: Go-arounds: LEGO and Legislative Service: LEGO: I wrote in January about LEGO's[1] misogynistic latest LEGO… http://t.co/s2PlMzGn

ITHCWY: Kindle: Figure out sorting!: I love my Kindle. Loved it since seeing the screen for the first time after… http://t.co/zimbDLpz

ITHCWY: Catfood: Cleat 1.10: I've just released an updated version of Cleat that supports geolocation and… http://t.co/SESV9VH7

4 of 5 stars to Pharmacology by Christopher Herz http://t.co/SgGZR4Lz

I still don't like the Oxford Comma, but... http://t.co/oJB50wGw

ITHCWY: Prophylactic: Absolutely no chance of scurvy tonight. http://t.co/RpX1z78M

Artist Captures Dog vs. Gopher Confrontation on Bernal Hill http://t.co/OlUgGHOG - It could be Rudy...

Graffiti - Public - Other_enter_additional_details_below/101 Elsie St San Francisco, CA 94110, USA http://t.co/c9P7xkjx #bernal-heights!

Lego tries to get less sexist http://t.co/WD9lmRuK - and previously: http://t.co/Psc5ZNua

"It’s the product development version of the Hunger Games" - http://t.co/wNA0DHWy via @uservoice

SciFi in HiFi! - Sean Young's video of the making of Dune - Boing Boing http://t.co/BXTACFpj via @BoingBoing

Shocking, but need to distinguish between standardized tests and shit standardized tests: Florida standardized... http://t.co/c8488XDw

+1: Introducing the Innovator's Patent Agreement http://t.co/naK9hYxw via @twitter

Extraordinary: The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case http://t.co/GOqxgIJ2

They are deadly serious about not taking photos at @#spamalotsf http://t.co/5di7viuy

JSON Formatter & Validator: http://t.co/L220TCHf

ITHCWY: California Slender Salamander http://t.co/EvNlFOnS

Patent Law 101: What’s Wrong And Ways To Make It Right http://t.co/6QnLLHL7 via @techcrunch

ITHCWY: Even Shitier - Citibank Remortgage Scam: Citibank contacted us in December offering to remortgage our house… http://t.co/mxGi3j6K

ITHCWY: Baby Yellow Spiders: A chair in our garden has produced a bumper crop of baby Cross Orbweaver spiders. Very… http://t.co/0VBjSvPq

Wow: http://t.co/N4tbm77Y Rear Window loop via @jwz

Final Plan for Bernal Hill Trail Restoration Unveiled: http://t.co/bp3uFOZu - from @bernalwood

RT @Pearldotcom: Our new site is coming soon! Get on the list to be notified about launch details: http://t.co/75ddUi63

ITHCWY: Sod Searle And Sod His Sodding Room: Marcus du Sautoy, writing on BBC News, brings up Searle's Chinese Room… http://t.co/FmcVPbzC

ITHCWY: California, I can save you billions with a small and reasonably priced computer program...: California just… http://t.co/Ro96lk3J

California, I can save you billions with a small and reasonably priced computer program... http://t.co/iDZEbAQ9 -> @JerryBrownGov

Go-arounds: LEGO and Legislative Service

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Go-arounds: LEGO and Legislative Service

LEGO: I wrote in January about LEGO's[1] misogynistic latest LEGO for Girls campaign. Earlier this month I was excited to read Mary Elizabeth Williams reporting that 'Lego tires to get less sexist' on Salon but it turned out that rather than reversing course LEGO had just agreed to meet with SPARK. SPARK reports back on the meeting today with the news that LEGO has been conducting 'an internal audit of their minifigure count' and will generally be looking at their gender based marketing. Looking forward to seeing some actual results.

Legislative Service: I've been bothering people at parties about legislative service for around 20 years. Most people nod politely and back away. So I was pretty excited to read 'Fewer Voters, Better Elections' by Joshua Davis in the May 2012 issue of Wired. The thrust of the article is very similar to legislative service and highlight research from James Fishkin at Stanford (Deliberative Democracy, it looks like he's been bothering people at cocktail parties for longer than me) and David Chaum (Random-Sample Elections). Something like this has to be the solution to getting past the two-body problem of our current democracy.

Colophon: I pinched the title from the excellent Patrick Smith, although my aviation blogging is limited to bitching about British Airways. The picture comes from the Wikipedia article on go-arounds because it's hilarious in a Douglas Adamsian way - like you just couldn't understand the concept of not landing a plane without the illustration.

[1] Why do Americans go for LEGOS and math while the British use LEGO and maths?

Kindle: Figure out sorting!

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I love my Kindle. Loved it since seeing the screen for the first time after bothering a Judge I shouldn't have at an arbitration hearing. These days I mostly read using the Kindle app on my phone. And there's one thing that drives me nuts.

You can sort by author and you can sort by title but you can't sort by the date you purchased a book. When I finish a book and can't quite remember what's next in the queue this makes it impossible to search for it and curse Bezos for being off hunting rocket engines while he could be knocking heads together to fix this.

I'm sure there is a brain dead reason for this. Maybe it's not exposed with the book data and fixing this is festering on someone's backlog. Maybe the fact that some items may not have a purchase date is too hard a problem to deal with (hints: put these at the top, or the bottom, or make the feature only list purchased items). Come on Amazon, I'm sure you can figure this out.

What I really want is a queue. The same way I used to stack books to read on my bedside table I want to manage my to-read list at Amazon.com and then just have a button to load the next book. But I'd settle for sorting that works.

Catfood: Cleat 1.10

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I've just released an updated version of Cleat that supports geolocation and timestamps. Cleat is my Windows command line client for Twitter.

Prophylactic

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Prophylactic

Absolutely no chance of scurvy tonight.

California Slender Salamander

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

California Slender Salamander

Even Shitier - Citibank Remortgage Scam

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Even Shitier - Citibank Remortgage Scam

Citibank contacted us in December offering to remortgage our house. There was a reasonably steep application fee but I was promised a refund in the event that the remortgage failed. Specifically this email:

"Hi Rob,

Unfortunately we cannot waive the application/appraisal fee, however I can refund it back to you in your loan is not approved.

What do you think?

xxxxxx xxxx
Citibank
Senior Lending Consultant"

So we paid the fee, filled in the paperwork and waited for the appraisal.

The appraiser came and did a lousy job. His report mixed up photos, missed salient features of the house and worst of all used ridiculous comps with what must have been distressed sales of crack dens next to the freeway instead of similar nice houses on the west slope of Bernal Hill. Apparently this isn't unusual. Chris Arnold from a recent NPR News story:

"Right. It used to be too easy. The appraisers were part of the problem, so Congress changed the law. And that's had some unintended consequences. And to make a long story short, what sometimes happens now is the lender says, OK, we need an appraiser for Robert's house. And an email goes out, blasted out to a hundred different appraisers across the entire state. And the email says something like: Hey, who wants to do this for a hundred bucks. You know, so the guy you get might be driving in from 50 miles away and really have no idea what the homes in your neighborhood are worth."

So long story short the appraisal valued our house at about $5 and the remortgage application was declined. There was an appeal process for the appraisal but it wasn't possible to complete unless a few of our neighbors happened to have sold their houses in the same week. 

Given that we've never missed a mortgage payment it seems bizarre to suppose that making it lower would represent an increased risk. But it's Citibank's decision and I wouldn't be whinging about it in public if they'd refunded the application fee in January. Despite repeated emails the didn't refund it in February or March either. In fact, after declining the transaction we never heard from our friendly Senior Lending Consultant again. 

I've just got off the phone with the credit card company as in the end I had to resort to challenging the transaction and getting it charged back to Citibank. I'm not sure if it's incompetence on the part of a few employees or a new scheme to defraud customers but be careful if Citibank make the same offer to you. And make sure you get the refund promise in writing.

Previously

Photo credit: Roblawol cc

Baby Yellow Spiders

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Baby Yellow Spiders

A chair in our garden has produced a bumper crop of baby Cross Orbweaver spiders. Very cute.