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Minutes spent so far this year waiting for Excel to talk to a printer: about 290.

Lifetime Excel print jobs: maybe 2?

Book reviews for November 2020

The Saints of Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

The Saints of Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

4/5

 

Dead Lies Dreaming (The Laundry Files, #10) by Charles Stross

Dead Lies Dreaming (The Laundry Files, #10) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

Poseidon's Wake (Poseidon's Children) by Alastair Reynolds

Poseidon's Wake (Poseidon's Children) by Alastair Reynolds

3/5

 

The Sentinel (Jack Reacher, #25) by Lee Child

The Sentinel (Jack Reacher, #25) by Lee Child

4/5

 

Mariposa Loop

Mariposa Loop

Mariposa Loop

Mariposa Loop

Mariposa Loop in Briones Regional Park near Lafayette. Park near Happy Valley Elementary School and then head up Panorama Drive to the top to get the trailhead. It's just over three miles. The first mile goes up 600 feet without stopping and the views are fantastic in every direction. This is the first time we've visited Briones, will be back soon as it looks like it has a lot of decent loops.

Hike starts at: 37.905312, -122.142265. View in Google Earth.

2020 Results

46

There is going to be a grown-up in charge. Maybe a little too grown up, and maybe not in charge of the legislature but what a relief.

This is a historic election for me. It's the first time the party I voted for (either in the UK or the US) has ended up in power. After a lot of shopping I rather fear I finally bought something.

It's more than a little shocking to me that more than 70 million Americans looked at this choice and voted for Trump. It's also shocking that out of a couple of hundred million possibilities that this is the choice we ended up needing to make. Biden was pretty far down my list in January but I held my nose and voted for him. I have to be charitable and assume that the same is true for many Trump voters. But still. FFS. He's literally killing you.

A decade ago I compared US politics to daisyworld and it's still true. We have guaranteed two party rule and neither party is particularly attractive. This forces people to pick a team and it's why we got the tribalistic result that we did. You're going to keep rooting for your side even if you don't particularly like the team this year. We need more like twenty parties and some genuine choice and some power sharing that results in compromise rather than deadlock.

On the subject of deadlock in practically every other democracy when the government can no longer govern then it falls. I do not understand why we go years with an imponent leader. I know that there are many people who think that this is a feature rather than a bug. That having Biden in the White House but Mitch McConnell saying no in the Senate is the kind of checks and balances that gave the hallowed Founders wet dreams. But I'm sick and tired of minority rule or near rule. Obama at least got two years to legislate, Biden might be facing zero and that's a crazy outcome for a majority of four million and counting. We need a National Popular Vote and we need to do something to fix the Senate.

$14 billion was spent on the 2020 election which is eye-watering. We're on track to spend $6.6 trillion this year though so we can afford to word on getting the money out of politics. It's crazy that Congresspeople face election every two years and are basically just fundraising the whole time. Let's have longer terms and Federally funded campaigns and term limits. Let's have independent redistricting that allows voters to choose their candidates and not candidates to choose their voters.

I'm not holding my breath.

Digital Services Act

DSA

Looks like the Digital Services Act is going to be interesting. Vice reports:

"Furthermore, if the European Commission listens to the Parliament's recommendations, large tech companies may find it harder to actually keep users on their platforms in the first place. That’s because at least in the discussions so far, there’s been an emphasis on looking into interoperability between different platforms, meaning that users could move and communicate between them using open protocols."

I have repeatedly called for this, it's the best way to break apart Facebook and get people back to talking to friends and not being manipulated by algorithms. But also:

"They also wrote that “User-targeted amplification of content based on the views in such content is one of the most detrimental practices in the digital society, especially when such content is amplified on the basis of previous user interaction with other amplified content and with the purpose of optimising user profiles for targeted advertisements.”"

Being the EU, I worry that we still get the ads and maybe some additional cruft to dismiss or not at the bottom of the screen. Instead they'll focus on the content and there will be more banned speech, or platforms will be responsible for truth which I don't think is the way forward.

Book reviews for October 2020

Thunderbird (Miriam Black, #4) by Chuck Wendig

Thunderbird (Miriam Black, #4) by Chuck Wendig

4/5

 

Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon's Children, #1) by Alastair Reynolds

Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidon's Children, #1) by Alastair Reynolds

3/5

 

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

4/5

 

Hella by David Gerrold

Hella by David Gerrold

3/5

 

ITHCWY Newsletter for October 2020

Endorsements: Biden, California Propositions, San Francisco Ballot Measures.

What is up with Android 11?

Hikes: Coastal/Julian loop in the Marin Headlands, Richards Fire Loop in San Mateo (with Hyperlapse!), the end of coronavirus (hikes).

Previously:

Leaving the Nest

NOPE

I migrated from Nest to Google Home today to save a few bucks and while eventually inevitable it was a really dumb move.

The first thing is that it doesn't work with your Google Workspace / G Suite account because of course it doesn't. So you need an unpaid Google account to move to. Luckily I already have one from that time that G Suite didn't support Google Fi. Interestingly while Google Home won't work with your paid account it has no problem reaching over to grab credit card information from it.

The next thing is goodbye Works with Nest, hello Works with Hey Google. So there goes my IFTTT integration. Because I can't use my main Google account it's kind of useless to me that this might work with Google Assistant. There is still Alexa integration though so I can play my Nest stream on the Echo Show once a year or so as a connected home party trick.

Having not read the changed terms of service I downloaded the Google Home app which a few minutes in I've take to calling Google Nope.

Nest Protect is not supported! This is my favorite smart home device just because when the battery runs out it can tell you which one to change. It's worth almost any amount of money to not spend several hours figuring out where in the house the omnidirectional smoke detector chirp is coming from. But for some reason Google Home doesn't integrate with Google Nest Protect so you need to keep the Nest app as well. Understandable, they only have several tens of thousands of engineers.

So they nailed the camera experience at least, right? Nope. In Nest there are about a hundred settings to play with. In Google Home you can change the name of the camera. In Nest you can scroll through all of your recorded history. In Google Home, despite specifically paying for the plan with 10 days of history you can't. It has a pre-Alpha feel to it. Good for a 'hey, we got the skeleton of an app thrown together' kind of internal demo but it feels like they probably should have added the things you've paid for before shipping it to anyone, let alone bribing them to go through a feature shredding 'migration' process.

My smart home ambitions are not that great. I had a nice little setup that switched some lights on and off around dawn and dusk, but Philips end-of-lifed the bridge and I'm not about to buy a new one. I had some fun making dropcam timelapses but Google broke the public cam URL. And thank goodness I didn't get the alarm system.

Lesson (eventually) learned. The only new smart home devices I'll install are the ones that I build myself.

Stumpoceros

Stumpoceros

I Voted!

I Voted!

This is the first time I have voted by mail. In San Francisco there are clear instructions, a postage paid reply envelope and no need to get your ballot notarized or witnessed or other painful admin. The only real dilemma is the I Voted! sticker. When voting in person you just slap it on and wear it for the rest of the day. But when is the appropriate time for a postal vote? The instructions say:

"Show other San Franciscans you've voted to help encourage them to vote too!"

I get that, but it doesn't really speak to timing.

Is it a November 3rd thing to help with a final turnout push? When you actually fill it out? When you get round to dropping it in a mailbox?

Actually it's even more complex because there is a fancy ballot tracking system. So I get SMS notifications for when USPS has picked up the ballot, when San Francisco County has received it and finally when the ballot is accepted.

I'm just going to wear it today.