I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

What can I do for Brown?

For the service of telling UPS that I'm not in today and so they can save a whole bunch of time and money by not failing to deliver a package they want to charge me $5? This is UPS My Choice.

I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

Updated on Thursday, May 3, 2018

I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click

910 days ago I vented my frustration at Windows 10 notifications.

Well someone in Redmond must be listening. They 'fixed' it.

The problem was that dismissing a notification did not actually get rid of it. Clicking the little x in the corner just sent it to the Action Center where you could enjoy reading it and dismissing it again.

Like some kind of cargo cult Toyota, Microsoft asked the one why, and changed the little x to an arrow. Now it's more obvious that you're just shuffling the notification around the desktop. Ticket closed. But I still have to handle every fucking notification twice.

Which makes the announcement of the April 2018 Update especially ironic:

"With this update, available as a free download today, you get new experiences that help minimize distractions and make the most of every moment by saving you time. Our hope is that you’ll have more time to do what matters most to you whether that’s to create, play, work, or simply do what you love."

I'm guessing they're all on Macs?

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.

Die PDF Die

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC needs a reboot after updating

If I need to reboot to view a PDF then you must be doing something very badly wrong Adobe.

Important to you

Important to you

Facebook, I spotted a typo. I think you might have meant to say important to us.

Why Microsoft is Likely Doomed Based on one Email Folder

Close up of the useless Junk folder in Microsoft Outlook

When you get a piece of spam in Outlook you move it to Junk or block the sender. And then, even if that junk mail is marked as read, the Junk folder has a BOLD MESSAGE COUNT. It's the only folder that does this. I cannot do any other work while I have a bold message count and so I have to switch to the Junk folder and delete the message to get rid of it.

Regular email: read, file, done.

Junk email: recognize as spam, click block sender, confirm that I really want to block the sender, switch to Junk folder, mark as read, delete.

Something is really wrong with this workflow. It's a lens through which you can view the ultimate demise of the company. Sure, Office isn't going away soon and Azure is growing like crazy and SQL Server runs on Linux. But somewhere in Redmond 5,000 people designed a Junk email folder that is the MOST IMPORTANT folder in Outlook. The rest were presumably too busy making Windows Update worse to stop this.

My Google experience is that I really don't get much spam. The spam that I do get is hidden from me unless I actually need to rifle through it for some reason. On the occasion I actually get legitimate junk I just flag it as such and never have to touch it or it's ilk again.

As a courtesy

As a courtesy to the next passenger

I'm on a recently built A340-600. This sign is about as useful as the ashtrays. This must be a weird tradition that gets handed down from airplane to airplane from one sign author who got grossed out by the thought of a moist sink but has never squelched around in piss on the lower deck stink fest that is installed on this particularly strange airbus.

It's like someone loved the whole elegant spiral staircase up to a bar motif of the 747 and thought wouldn't it be a giggle to do the exact opposite.

Real Time

Updated on Sunday, June 25, 2017

Real Time

Real Time with Bill Maher is the most excruciatingly awkward show on TV.

The typical setup is that Bill has a first important guest, then three panelists and finally a second important guest. So it kind of sucks to be a panelist. Just by being there you're signalling that you're not important enough to negotiate the first or last slot.

It's not great for anyone though. After the first interview slot Bill is going to jump up and walk over to his desk for the panel session. And you have a horrible choice. Either you follow the stage directions and sit still, somehow emasculated, while Bill leaves you behind. Or you stand up too, asserting yourself but looking somehow awkward and presumably you don't get invited back in a hurry.

Next the panel gets to argue for a while before the second important guest is wheeled in. At this point Bill interviews the newcomer for a long time leaving the panel hanging. Just sat there.

Right when you're wondering if the panel has left the building Bill brings them back into the conversation and at this point they are so desperate to get a few points home that the second important guest is often frozen out.

It doesn't last long though because Bill then cuts to New Rules and ignores the second important guest and the three panelists for a few over-written jokes followed by a variable five minute diatribe.

I cannot believe how many politicians, journalists, comedians, commentators and authors are desperate enough for HBO sized chunks of publicity that they'd put themselves through this social wringer.

I love it.

(Image credit: screenshot from Real Time with Bill Maher opening credits)

The Harvard Business Review Fallacy

A typical Harvard Business Review two by two grid where it's easy to guess the good quadrant

Every Harvard Business Review article worth it’s salt boils some complex problem down to a two by two grid. Usually something like awesomeness and profitability:

Being non-profitable and not awesome is no fun. Awesomeness without profitability might work for some organizations. Being profitable but not awesome for others. But the place to be is awesome and profitable!

With this bracing insight the authors will cherry pick some companies that match the upper-right hand quadrant and tediously stretch their turpid insight out to book length.

In reality this is a false dilemma (or technically a false tetralemma, but that’s an awkward phrase so I prefer the HBR fallacy instead).

My favorite example is Pascal’s Wager. This is a typical HBR two by two grid based on belief in God and the existence of God.

  1. Don’t believe / No God, you’re fine (meh).

  2. Don’t believe / God, go to Hell (infinite punishment).

  3. Believe / No God, you’re fine (meh).

  4. Believe / God, go to Heaven (infinite reward).

You only have one rational choice here says Pascal.

There is a lot wrong with this argument, but the wrongest thing is the HBR fallacy. There are infinitely many possible Gods with infinitely many good and bad outcomes. You might be living in a universe where the only God is the God of the Thargoids. The one real God might send you to Heaven only if you kill a gopher every Wednesday.

Nobody is going to open any doors and show you any goats.

Risky

Risky

The World Economic Forum has published a risk/reward matrix for 12 key "emerging" technologies. You'd think this would be pretty good, because:

"The report’s conclusions on risk are heavily based on its Global Risks Perception Survey, which gathers the opinions of the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder communities of leaders from business, government, academia and nongovernmental and international organizations. Members of the Institute of Risk Management are also consulted."

For some reason IoT devices are the second highest risk. Ahead of biotechnology (we're all dead from an engineered virus), nanomaterials (we're all dead because we're now gray goo) and space technologies (we're all dead because we provoked a violent alien civilization).

The least benefit comes from Geoengineering. Because with Trump in power I'm sure we're going to solve Global Warming via emission cuts. There is apparently more benefit in Virtual Reality and even more in 3D Printing.

(Image from World Economic Forum)