Thursday, April 05, 2018

Character, content, Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we should all be judged by the content of our character.  Unfortunately, President Donald Trump is a character without content.

Shame on Wisconsin stay-aways

In the election for a Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge, Rebecca Dallet, a Democrat, beat Michael Screnock, a Republican, 56 to 44 percent.

No matter what your party affiliation is, this is very  bad news.  The turnout was 22 percent!!  This means that just over 12 percent of the voters supported Dallet with their time.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Invasion of Iraq

Comment to Sinan Antoon’s New York Times article “Fifteen Years Ago, America Destroyed My Country”, posted at http://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/opinion/iraq-war-anniversary-.html?comments#permid=26407775.

“The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.”

Over 200 years ago a certain people were very upset that its laws were being made by a distant country.  They rebelled and successfully fought a revolution to govern themselves.

Now many of the political descendants of that people celebrate that revolution but think nothing of dictating the laws and policies of other countries without the consent of the governed.

“The more things change the more they stay the same.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

“Free-range parenting”, what’s the fuss

Utah has passed a “free-range parenting” bill that frees parents from hovering over their children.  Some people thinks this is terrible and irresponsible.

See https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/controversial-free-range-parenting-now-legal-utah-heres-means-203114763.html.

Thanks goodness I was a free-range kid from the time I was six (1944).  I walked to school by myself.  I walked to playgrounds myself.  I went to the movies with my younger brother.  And when I had a bicycle I rode many places far from home.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

More on erratic behavior of online newspapers

I’m sitting in a coffee shop, using a MacBook Air, early 2015, macOS Sierra, version 10.12.6.
I was able to access and sign in to startribune.com.  I then clicked on e Access or whatever and asked to log in.  I didn’t keep track of the details but was told my account didn’t have access to that version.  I went back to the web version and clicked on eEdition.  Voila! and no intrusive overlay ads.  And I have access to the “Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee”.

Now the question is would I get the same result using my iPhone as a hot spot to my AT&T account.

I don’t feel like checking right now.  I would rather read the funnies.

And I read the Star Tribune and after that I accessed the Duluth News Tribune.  I forget the details on what I did, but I am almost done reading the opinion page.  Strange that I couldn’t access the DNT at all from home but I can from a coffee shop.

The hubris of automation

A woman walking her bike in Tempe AZ was struck and killed by a driverless Uber car.

Uber and others should consider the old joke about automated airplanes.

“Ladies and gentle, welcome to the world’s first completely automated flight.  Although there are no pilots in the cockpit, we would like to assure you that every detail has been worked out.  Please sit back and enjoy your flight, flight, flight,…”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Greatest Deliberative Body?

Whatever happened to "The Greatest Deliberating Body in the World", aka the U.S. Senate?

If it were a true deliberating body, it would have 100 opinions to begin with before settling into one or two.  Instead we start with two lock-step opinions arguing over a foregone conclusion reached by a small majority.

Comment to Maureen Dowd’s column “Trump, Flush With Power”  seems to think that Trump will be crashing soon after firing some competent people and replacing them with Fox News people.  But some commenters thought Trump would get away with a lot as long as the Senate enables him.




Posted at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/opinion/sunday/trump-fox-news-dowd.html?comments#permid=26368531.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Erratic behavior of online newspapers

I sent the following email to the publishers and editors of the Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune.

Good afternoon,

If this email is upsetting the end of your day, I’m sorry.  But the erratic behavior of the online versions of your newspapers has been upsetting my month and many months before.

In the case of the Star Tribune, it has unwanted pop-up ads that are difficult, if not impossible to delete. Several days earlier in the week it occurred almost every day and I was ready to cancel my subscription.  The telephone chain to do so was ridiculous.  Yesterday, the eEdition worked fine, and I relented on cancelling my subscription.  Today the pop-up ads were back.

Jon of Feedback was very patient and supportive, but one piece of advice I should never have followed: resetting my iPad.  That wound up clearing all my saved passwords.  Now I have to look these up for my next visit to any of a number of password-protected sites.  And the problem of unwanted pop-ups is back.

In the case of the Duluth News Tribune, it may or may not come up with the eEdition.  On my iPad it was going in a circle of getting halfway to the eEdition and then wanting me to put in my password again.

At the moment, the eEditions are working on my MacBook Air, but I would rather eat breakfast with an iPad by my side: it takes up much less space on the table.

See my blog entry: "A newspaper’s takeover of subscribers’ computers"

I am not alone in enduring these, but I wonder how many of your users have the knowledge and patience to work through this annoyance.  I know my wife who has over twenty years of computer experience wouldn’t and she is growing very impatient with my repeated complaints.  I know that I no longer wish to be an unpaid debugger of your software.

So, please cancel my subscriptions to the Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune.  I’ll renew them when you have fixed this problem.

Oh, yes!  I will post this email to my blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A newspaper’s takeover of subscribers’ computers

Given the increasing complexity of software and its decreasing user-friendliness, I think 1984 has arrived.  We are supposed to follow robotically through the latest commands of the software designer, aka Big Brother.  And like in 1984, we have no idea what we are doing or should be doing.

I have almost 59 years of computer experience.  I started with a summer job in which I used a textbook to learn to program an IBM 650.  That was a set of large refrigerator size boxes with punched cards in and punched cards out.

Over the next twenty-plus years I went on to program and debug larger and larger computers.  I was often an advocate of newer techniques, like using compilers instead of machine code or using email instead of typed memos.

Then personal computers appeared on the scene.  Some of them easy to use, some of them opaque to use.  In 1984, the Macintosh appeared.  It was a real break-through in ease of use.  Many laughed at WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pictures).  They preferred the complex set of coding that had to be done for the simplest tasks.

I was hooked and became a Certified Macintosh Developer.  I was eager to get the latest Mac with many great features: color, faster and smaller storage devices, and more.

Then OS-X (operating system 10) appeared.  It had many nifty features except ease of transferring older programs to it.  I never got around to rewriting my genealogy program and have lost all that data (except that which I had printed out).  On the other hand, there were many new features that were a delight to use.

But as one OS X after another followed, the Mac started being persnickety.  Printers that were easy to use became a nightmare.  Where is the setting to print an envelope.  Why does the scanner work well with an old OS but gives dark blobs on a newer OS?

Then sin of sins, without asking me, Apple decided I should install the latest operating system just because I was using wi-fi at a coffee shop.  Not only did Apple decide that I should upgrade, it decided that all my files in the Document folder should go to iCloud.  But that was more data than my free 5GB.  It asked me to upgrade my account to 50GB.  The extra $0.99 a month was no big deal, but I still haven’t completely reorganized my Document file so that I don’t need be hooked up to the web to use those files.

The same increasing difficulty has struck many web-sites.  I now subscribe to four newspapers.  Most of them generally work well with only a few quirks that take awhile to figure out.  Just like the print versions, the newspapers are filled with ads.  Generally you can just scroll past them.

But sometime last year, the Star Tribune began to have intrusive ads.  They would take over the computer with no obvious way out.  Not only would the ad page take over the tab slot on a browser, there was no way to get out of it except close the tab or follow it on to other pages in the ad chain.

A similar annoyance is a side-bar ad with a misleading message: “Log In”.  It is not a log in to the newspaper, but an ad for using a Google product for signing in to web sites.

A friendly guy at Star Tribune’s support department helped me try to clear things up.  But it was drastic, including resetting my iPad.  Guess what that did?  It wiped out all my cookies so that I had to enter saved passwords all over again.  Good thing I have the passwords stored in an obscure place.

Rather than making my life simple by easily accessing my bank accounts, reading the latest news, and sending email to friends, I seem to have gone into standby debug mode.

Unfortunately, one of those pop-ups appeared again this morning.  That’s it.  I asked the Star Tribune to cancel my subscription.  Bye to “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee” and many other comics that are not in the Duluth News Tribune.  Good-bye to many in-depth state stories and editorials.

I do have relatives who spend a small fortune calling Geek Squad every time time they need to make some software change.  Do you think the Star Tribune would pay me for all my efforts?  Do you think your phone will run forever without re-charging?

P.S.  Well, maybe I'll keep the Star Tribune subscription for a few more days.  It worked fine this morning.