Stamp out B2B spam with an evil calendar


I could build this in about the same amount of time it's going to take to describe it (love you Google Apps Script) but I'm not quite evil enough.

A good chunk of my work day is deleting endless B2B spam from aggressive salespeople who are certain that I should check out their SAAS whatever and pay $25/user/month for something I could do with a wiki page. Outlook for some reason doesn't recognize this stuff as spam even if you block it. LinkedIn is built to distribute this. It would be great to make it more expensive, painful and humiliating for these people to spray and pray.

My idea: it's Calendly only evil.

You reply saying how excited you are and provide a link to schedule an appointment. This allows them to book a slot and sends them a meeting request and a Zoom link. When they join they're just connected to some number of other salespeople who booked that slot.

Extra credit: record the meetings and auto-post to YouTube and use the ad revenue to pay for hosting costs.

As usual any of my billionaire readers who want to back this should get in touch.

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BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

Updated on Friday, June 10, 2022

BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

I just want to listen to Friday Night Comedy on Radio 4.

It used to be the case that this was safely subscribed in my podcast app (I use Podkicker Pro) and so each new episode would download to my feed when released.

The BBC has decided to fix the problem of me getting the program I want to listen to automatically and conveniently. If I want my comedy I have to install My Sounds. When Spotify tried this with Science Vs I just stopped listening. I have plenty of other science podcasts but The Now Show and the News Quiz are irreplaceable. So maybe I could cope with one walled garden.

My Sounds says it will notify you when new episodes are available. It does not.

My Sounds has a My Sounds tab which lists Latest programs. I'm writing this on April 2 and the most recent episode of Friday Night Comedy is from March 25.

BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

Only if I go into Subscribed, and then the program page for Friday Night Comedy does it finally admit that there is an episode from April 1.

BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

So I'm forced to install an app that not only fails to notify me of new episodes of subscribed programs but actively hides them in the basement behind a beware of the leopard sign. BBC, maybe get the app working before forcing me into it? I would rather pay to subscribe to an RSS feed than deal with My Sounds.

I'd take the time to leave a one star review, but in its infinite wisdom Google doesn't allow paying customers to leave app reviews.

Updated 2022-05-06 11:32:

BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

Having been forced into the excreable BBC My Sounds at least it supports downloading an episode to listen to on the plane right?

Updated 2022-05-06 11:33:

BBC My Sounds, hiding podcasts behind a 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

Does it fuck. BBC, please fix this and then try asking nicely?

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Windows 11 Broken Notifications

Updated on Saturday, December 4, 2021


I'm lucky enough to have the right sort of TPM so Windows 11 installed smoothly on my laptop through Windows Update. It's got some nice fit and finish improvements and round corners and generally seems well put together. Except for anything I actually use and care about on a regular basis.

It is still impossible to get rid of notifications with one click. This has actually regressed from Windows 10 as we're back to a little x to dismiss which actually sends the notification off to the action center for when you have some spare time to dismiss it a second time. Microsoft, spend less time on focus assist and more time on this!

The taskbar wants your icons in the center. If I wanted a Mac I would have bought one. Luckily there is a setting to move them back to the left. But one thing you can't do is have small taskbar icons. There is a registry hack, but it breaks the system icons so until that's fixed the main impact of Windows 11 for me is missing out on about one row of a spreadsheet. I would like those pixels back!

Maybe the start menu is better, but I stopped using that with Windows 10 and now just pin apps or search for them so I'd never know.

(Previously: I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click)

Updated 2021-12-04 10:35:

A few weeks into my Windows 11 adventure and I think they handed this one off to the designers and forgot the adult supervision.

Alt-Tab you have one job and it's switching between applications. Why then is the selection now indicated by a hair thin black border? It's pretty, but I now have to squint to figure out where I'm going.

Worse still you can no longer drag and drop to the taskbar. I don't do this every day, but it's a big time saver when I need it. Now I have to go through a re-org of windows to drag things between them.

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New Podcast Business Model: Less Content

Peak Podcast

I have been listening to podcasts for over 20 years.

That shouldn't be possible as the format only really started in 2003. In late 2000 I was commuting from San Francisco to Sunnyvale and wanted to listen to Radio 4 while driving. I cobbled together a solution that involved some dodgy software that saved a RealPlayer stream to MP3, one of the first (pre-iPod) hard drive MP3 players and a headphone jack to FM dongle. I'm pretty sure I was the only person listening to the Today Program on I280 back then.

These days it's Podkicker Pro and Bluetooth and my problem is too many podcasts. For some reason I can't sit down and listen to a podcast. I'll immediately start reading some news or doing something else. The only times I can listen are while I'm occupied with something else - cooking, walking, commuting (and I haven't been doing much commuting recently).

I can't be alone in this but for some reason most podcasts are monetizing with extra content. Pay $5/month on substack and get the extra subscriber episodes or extended interviews or something extra. What I actually want to pay for is less content. Give away the three hour meandering version and charge for a tightly edited hour. Please.

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Did anyone tell Material Design about Gesture Navigation?

Did anyone tell Material Design about Gesture Navigation?

The screen shot above is from Google Fit. Which icon is active? I can't tell any more. Is it the blue one or the underlined one which is a much stronger cue?

Of course none of the icons are underlined. This is a bottom navigation bar on top of the Android navigation bar on Android 10 with gesture navigation enabled. My brain knows this but my finger still tries to click on Home. Journal just looks so much more active I can't help it. This friction is also in Google Photos and Google Maps and presumably Google everything before too long.

Maybe the Google app developers don't have access to recent Pixels, or maybe the Material Design team all have iPhones?

(Previously: Material Design 3)

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Do you want me to use Edge, Microsoft?

Updated on Saturday, May 22, 2021

Do you want me to use Edge, Microsoft?

If you're going to ask for something be direct, don't beat around the bush.

So I'm confused, Microsoft. Do you want me to use Edge? After installing updates Edge wants to 'Get started', on a nice modal with no cancel button or even any little x to close it. Must be some mistake right, not quite ready for prime time if they forgot the 'Don't get started' button. Maybe I'll try it when the kinks are worked out.

Ah, right clicking the icon and choosing close would work, right? Nope. Feels more and more like malware.

You can kill it from task manager so at least someone was paying some attention to usability.

Don't I remember some settlement with the DOJ after an antitrust judgement for forcing browsers on someone? That was a while back, must be remembering a different company.

(Related: Got It; I Love Email; I just want to get rid of Windows 10 Notifications with one click)

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Google search-for-your-own-verified-sites Console

Google Search Console

I don't know about you, but when it comes to Google Search Console I spend about 0.01% of the time adding sites and 99.99% analyzing existing ones. And yet when signing into Search Console with many verified sites the interface is ALL about adding a new one. Maybe 10% of the UX would be reasonable but it looks for all the world like I have nothing added.

To get to my sites I need to click the hamburger. Come on Google, being mobile first doesn't have to mean being desktop hostile.

Clicking the hamburger isn't even enough. This just brings up a practically blank sidebar. I then need to expand the 'Search property' drop down. Finally I get a needlessly scrolling list of my sites.

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Firmware update warning

"Please be careful not to update while in riding on vehicles, such as trains, or in environments where 2.4 GHz band radio waves such as Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, cordless phones and many other radio waves are intermingled."

It looks like I need to travel to the United States National Radio Quiet Zone in West Virginia to update the firmware in my headphones, and I don't think that's on the cards for several months so I hope the update isn't important.

Nice touch that they gave an example of a vehicle though, that really helps.

Maybe use a checksum Sony?

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Please fix phone spam Google!

95% of my incoming calls are now spam. Most of them are some strange pre-recorded Chinese voice with music playing in the background but I occasionally get a free hotel stay as well.

So far Google has rolled out Call Screen. This means I can waste my time watching Google Assistant talk to the spammer. It's way faster not to bother, hang up all calls and delete the voicemails later.

It seems like instead of Call Screen there could be a better way to deal with this.

Firstly, send any call not from someone in my contacts directly to voice mail. This would actually solve a lot of the problem.

Next, for extra credit, run spam detection on the voice mail before sending it to me. If it's two seconds long and blank then just bin it. If it's Chinese with music bin it. Only if it passes the smell test should it appear in my actual voice mail. Google is very good at this for Gmail.


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Facebook Interoperability

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

In TechCrunch today Josh Constine gets friend portability for Facebook almost right:

"In other words, the government should pass regulations forcing Facebook to let you export your friend list to other social networks in a privacy-safe way. This would allow you to connect with or follow those people elsewhere so you could leave Facebook without losing touch with your friends. The increased threat of people ditching Facebook for competitors would create a much stronger incentive to protect users and society."

The problem is having a list of friends does me no good at all when none of them are on Google Plus, Diaspora or whatever.

What we need is legislation that forces interoperability. I can share with my friends via an open protocol, and Facebook is forced to both send and receive posts from other networks. This would actually create an opportunity for plausible competition in a way that a friend export could never do. Social networking should work like email, not CompuServe.

(Related: Fight Facebook with Email; Facebook shouldn't own your social graph; Circles)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.