Links for April 2021

Updated on Thursday, April 22, 2021
The New York Times: How Brexit Ruined Easter for Britain’s Chocolate Makers

Interesting that there also seems to be a shortage on British supermarket shelves as well then.

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Easter egg hunt: UK shoppers disappointed by shortages | Easter | The Guardian

Here's the Guardian on the shortage. So British chocolate can't be found in Europe or the UK. Where is it going? Eezy Freezy!

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The story behind Kidlapse

Latest update on Kidlapse.

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Search Engine Roundtable: Google: User Generate Content Products Reviews Will Have A Hard Time Ranking Well

And instead we get affiliate link stuffed fluff pieces?

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The Washington Post: We should soon stop catering to the vaccine holdouts

Yes

(All Etc Posts)

ITHCWY Newsletter for March 2021

I Love Email

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021

HELO

Everyone is always trying to kill email, and it's always because it's a supposed productivity villain and life will be so much easier when we can all live happily in some chat based universe. I've spent enough time in Slack and Teams and their predecessors to know that we should go back before it's too late.

Chat brings you infinite inboxes and no great way to tell which of them is important. Having looked away for a few minutes there are dozens of unread conversations. Some of them are people sharing a photo of their cat. One of them is an emergency requiring immediate attention but good luck finding it without wading through everything.

This brings me to a lack of useful state. I handle email in two quick passes - read everything (and discard anything that doesn't need further attention), deal with anything critical and then at some point go back and mop up the rest. In chat though you just blew past something that needs a response eventually and it fades from your mind as you fight the fire elsewhere. I never miss an email, I often miss a chat.

And good luck finding anything. Maybe a market leader or two will establish dominance for long enough but my experience so far has been lurching from one platform to the next, both professionally and personally, and having a hard time finding that one thing I know should be in there from the end of last year. My Gmail has emails going back to 1996, and yes that's almost a decade before Gmail existed. I can find anything.

On the subject of dominance, the real reason for all of the attempted email homicide is that it's one of the last open systems that everyone still uses. If only email would just die you'll be trapped forever in Messenger and Hangouts.

[email protected]

(All Etc Posts)

Out of Office Hours

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021

OOO

Inc has an article based on this blog suggesting that the solution to 'zoom fatigue' is reverse meetings.

I imagined that this was going to be a S03E01 of Red Dwarf type scenario where you get handed some notes and a few action items and then apologize for leaving early. But no, it's office hours.

""In a reverse meeting scenario, by contrast, I might take only 10 minutes from each colleague, taking up 50 minutes total of my time, and 50 minutes total of their time, for an overall demand of 100 minutes of attention, which is 3.6 times less cost," Newport writes. And voilà, he's just given your team back more than four hours of productive time a week."

Assuming that people manage to show up in perfect slots with no conflict and do so in a way that has perfect utilization for the victim and that there is no value in having someone point out that one of those 10 minute slots was full of incorrect information sending you down a two week rabbit hole that could have easily been avoided by having the right people spend some time together.

In a perfect world my ideal meeting situation is the meeting defragmenter. This involves software and cooperation unfortunately so the next best solution is out of office hours. I need focused time to get stuff done and blocking large chunks of meeting repelling time is really the only thing that works.

(All Etc Posts)

Links for March 2021

Solar System Cartogram

Might need revisiting when we get a submarine into Enceladus.

(All Etc Posts)

Deep Fake Rob

Updated on Thursday, April 1, 2021

I deep faked myself! Using that MyHeritage deep nostalgia thing. I'm not convinced.

(All Etc Posts)

etc, ml

One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon)

One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon)

This animation shows a year of tides in San Francisco with the sun and moon:

I was inspired to create this after adding a tide forecast to a personal weather dashboard I have running on an old Surface Pro. I realized I didn't understand tides that much. I still don't, but I know more than I did before.

The animation illustrates four components of the tide. The obvious ones are the position of the sun and moon. When the moon is new or full the Earth, sun and moon are all lined up leading to larger 'spring' tides, which happen twice a month just like spring doesn't. As the moon waxes or wanes and becomes half full the moon and sun are at right angles and partially cancel each other out resulting in lower highs and higher lows. This is the neap tide, almost as unhelpful as 'spring'.

As orbits are not circles the Earth is closer or further away from the sun over the course of a year and the moon behaves the same way. When it's close than usual we get super moons and king tides (finally a type of tide that does what it sounds like). In the animation the sun and moon actually grow and shrink in proportion to their distance from Earth.

Here's how to read the animation. The date and time at the bottom of the screen refers to the tide right in the middle. The full screen shows the forecast running from 12 hours before the current time to 12 hours later. The vertical range is from -4 feet to 10 feet, relative to mean lower low water (MLLW), the average lowest tide over 19 years. The sun and moon are on a different scale - 360 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically.

The tide forecast is pulled from the NOAA Tides and Currents API. I used SunCalc-Net for the position of the sun and moon, and the phase of and distance to the moon. For the distance to the sun I used a formula I found on StackExchange.

I wanted to both fit in a full year and run slowly enough to see what's going on each month so the video is around 20 minutes long. I won't be offended if you don't finish it.

(All Etc Posts)

ITHCWY Newsletter for February 2021

Thingiverse render of 72-58mm adapter

It's been a while since I put out a newsletter after a fairly quiet end to last year. Here are some recent highlights.

How to Save a Planet (with an Infiniti QX55)

Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators

Software: Catfood Earth 4.10 updates to the latest National Weather Service "API" and also 2021a timezones. Photo Sorter 1.10 helps control the scourge of duplicate JPEGs.

Timelapse: Sunset #6, what would happen if you used a style transfer neural network on every frame of a timelapse? This (instructions).

Hikes: Abrigo ValleyGrabtown Gulch and Mariposa Loop.

I'm not sure why during the pandemic I've used way more electricity but the same amount of gas.

Some thoughts on the results of the election, written before the Capitol riot.

Previously:

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How to Save a Planet (with an Infiniti QX55)

QX55

I've been meaning to check out the new Gimlet/Spotify podcast, How to Save a Planet, and finally listened to the first episode about wind power last week.

It was sponsored by the Infiniti QX55.

This is not even a hybrid. It's a 268 horsepower SUV. Consumer Reports says:

"The company cited 26 mpg combined (city and highway) when the QX50 was introduced for 2019. We measured just 22 mpg overall in our tests, putting it on par with larger, more powerful SUVs. And it required premium fuel. Subsequently, the official EPA estimate was downgraded to 25 mpg."

It's not even a particularly efficient SUV. You are really unlikely to be saving a planet this way. I'm not sure I can bear to find out who sponsors the second episode. I'm imagining a subscription panda steak service or bitcoin.

I shouldn't throw stones. I bought into a Volkswagen clean diesel (which came with a green tax credit before they got busted). I currently drive a Land Rover that can only hit it's claimed mpg if the engine stop technology is working. That only happens for about twelve miles after it has been serviced, which feels like the same sort of scam as the Volkswagen frankly.

Or maybe the clue is in the indefinite article and they read my post about extreme environmentalism.

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Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators

Law and Order: FSA

I have just spent hours unfucking my FSA.

My dentist overcharged the FSA debit card by $2.10 due to some mix up between expected and actual insurance payment. Which would have sorted itself out on the next visit, but apparently it's an FSA emergency which needs paperwork now!

There are at least 28 million of these types of FSA/HSA accounts in the US.

Life expectancy at birth has fallen to 681,995 hours. So assuming that on average each account generates two hours of needless admin per year this is the equivalent of killing 68 people.

FSA administrators who won't chill and let the $2.10 go are killing us at a comparable rate to serial killers.

Serial killers are pretty terrifying and justifiably get a lot of TV shows and FBI task forces aimed at them. But we'd save as many lives by giving FSA administrators 25 years to life every time they decide to reconcile to the last cent. And we should be watching Law & Order: FSA where the detectives drink to conceal the pain of uploading a PDF and explaining your situation in 500 characters or less.

Or we could save the time and money and lives and implement single payer healthcare.

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etc, hsa, fsa