Saturday, August 11, 2018

There Must Be a Winner

You become a lot less disappointed with the human race when you accept that we’re just barely evolved monkeys that won’t properly fund education. - Brianna Wu
When I was doing RA training in college one of my favorite training activities we did was a game from our ethics department that was a variant of The Prisoner’s Dilemma. We were put into groups of four to play a bunch of rounds of the game and each round you could choose to “work together” or “go it alone” and depend how everyone voted each person got a score. The basic idea of prisoner’s dilemma is if everyone chooses “work together” you all get a good score, if everyone chooses “go it alone” you all get a bad score. If some choose “work together” and some choose “go it alone” then the people who choose to “go it alone” get a good score.
In the discussion afterwards there was this one person who had played “go it alone” every single round and said, “I realized that by the rules if I always choose to go it alone, there was no way to lose. If everyone did it, we all get the same low score and if someone doesn’t then I get the highest possible score of my group.” To him, the game was just, how do I convince my fellow players to lose. When we started discussing how the game translates to real world ethics, he held his position. Life was about being a winner to other people’s losers. He said life seemed pointless if we all “won.” He was college-age at the time, I wonder if he has softened? Maybe that Jesuit education drilled a different sense into him by the end.
He may not have. I thought about it recently, because I realized that is the attitude help by our current president. Every message is about his victory over someone else. There is no concept of generally doing good, it is always about defeating an opponent OR doing better than someone else. It’s a totally foreign world view for me, but I think I sort of conceptually understand it.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Right to be Forgotten

We are falling asleep, just as the machines are waking up. - Amy Webb
More and more I’m thinking like an old man, who reminisces how it used to be. I’m nostalgic, not like it was better back in the day, just a different world. When the internet started, it was such a little club. I cared about SEO - trying to figure how I could make sure if you searched for my name you would find information about me. These days? Not so much really - in fact, I do the opposite. How do I make if you search for me you won’t find me. Let me just be an unknown person amid the masses.
At work we recently went through the process of implementing controls for Europe’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) and I am nominally the main privacy officer at the company so it fell under me to figure it all out. I have to say that I used to be annoyed by the “Right to be Forgotten” but under GDPR, that is a pretty inaccurate description of what it is - and I really like what it is.
Under GDPR, when a company is processing/storing a person’s data, it has to justify WHY it has a right to do that. It can be things like the data is publicly available, or needed to meet a contractual obligation, or needed to prevent fraud. Lots of reasons, but probably the most common one for a lot of processing is “consent” - the reason the company is allowed to do it, is because the person has said that the company is allowed.
So the “Right to be Forgotten” is really just the right to withdraw consent. If I told you that you were allowed to process my data - and now I tell you that you are no longer allowed, you need to go and delete my data. Pretty straightforward, right? I love it.
I enabled TweetDelete - goodbye all tweets more than 12 months old. I’ve often considered removing the archive here - like, it’s a nice nostalgia thing for me, but I’m not sure it needs to be forever part of the public record.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

No One Does Mobile

Thank Siri when she helps. It’s only polite. - Dutch Jones
I just passed my six year anniversary at work. I’m the second longest employee there. At my last job I ended up in the top five oldest employees. It’s funny how that happens. The days of working for the same company for decades has never been a thing in high tech, but I’ve always sort of wanted it.
When I joined one of the big pushes was “mobile.” Making sure all of our experiences and everything we did worked wonderfully on iPhones. I was always, “sure sure, we can do that, but no one really uses their mobile phone to do anything serious, right?” Six years ago I was sorta right, but mostly wrong. I think that really shifted my opinion was having kids and being at soccer and gymnastics and the park and all of that stuff. Prior that life shift, I was in front of a computer most of the time - any time I was working I was in front of computer, and any time I was relaxing (watch TV, movies, reading), there was probably a computer right next to me. So the idea that anyone would do “real stuff” on a phone seemed silly.
But now? I’m honestly not sure I’ll even own a “computer” again in the traditional sense. The VAST majority of everything I do in my personal life is on my phone, which is the most powerful computer in house. No, seriously, that one was a little mind boggling to me, but my iPhoneX is definitely the most powerful computing device in my home - event better than my work laptop.
So yeah, I no longer give anyone a hard time about “requiring” we be fully tested on mobile. My life is mobile-first.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Staring at the Ceiling

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. - William Blake
As I raise the little chaos machines, it really does amaze me the things that are apparently learned skills as opposed to instinctual. Like, here’s a good one, if you want to go to sleep, you should close your eyes. Seems like you would just inherently know that that on. Mini-Chaos and Ms.Chaos are great sleepers. Put them to bed, and they will go sleep. If they aren’t tired, no problem, they will play or sing until they are tired and go to sleep. Micro-Chaos? Not so much.
I’ve come to realize, it seems likely that I could be one of the 3% of the population that manage with the 6-hours of sleep a night mark instead of the 8.5 hours that people average. Likely too that I inherited that trait from my dad. Likely too the Micro-Chaos inherited the same thing (sigh). It kind of makes me understand why, when I was trying to sleep for 8-9 hours a night, I always felt like a insomniac unable to fall asleep for a couple of hours. Moving in my current world of chronic sleep deprivation, sleeping 7 hours in a night feels glorious.
Now Micro-Chaos, even when he is extremely tired (fussy, yawning, etc) will not close his eyes. When I tell him he needs to close his eyes to fall asleep, he blinks a couple times and states, “it’s not working!” When I leave his room and look on the monitor I see those little raccoon eyes staring up at the ceiling. Go to sleep kiddo. it’s great.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Beta Season

“It’s not possible.” “No, it’s necessary.” - Cooper (Interstellar)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have been an aggressive beta tester for a long time - my first bigboy beta was in the late 90s when I was using Microsoft Outlook Express aggressively for email and newsgroups and an active participant in Microsoft’s forums on it. MS invited me into their beta program which lead me into betas for Office, Win98, WinNT, and other MS things. At the time those were small private betas and the MS developer teams loved to hate my computer which I had quad-booting between Win98, WinNT, Linux, and OS/2 with a shared HPFS data drive. It was awesome.

These days I’m on the Windows 10 public beta track, but I’m all Apple for the most part so after WWDC each year it’s time to jump onto the beta tracks! I usually put either my iPhone or iPad into the developer beta as soon as it comes out. BAM! Those are non-essential devices, right? Yeah. Totally. If I can’t get any phone calls for a few months, all the better for me. And uh, I was unable to pay the babysitters through Venmo, cause that was crashing, but then started working again on public beta 2.

When the macOS public beta comes out, it’s time to upgrade my work computer and then deal with whatever fallout happens. I’m definitely not going to upgrade my personal computer - that thing is essential! My personal also serves as my temporary backup if my work computer is truly hosed. With basically my entire job being cloud-based, I can use nearly any computer to get work done.
Both this year and last year video conferencing tools had challenges. With High Sierra last year my computer would crash if I launched video conferencing with an external monitor plugged in. Which is rough because I screen share with clients about 50% of my job - so I had to get a good setup with my iPad so I could screen share the computer while, at the same time, Slacking to coworkers.
The problem with the Mojave beta this year is that the audio/video degrade extremely quickly to unusable and the fan starts ramping up. My best guess is that the video conference programs are not using hardware accelerations and the CPU is trying to grind the video and failing. That did not get resolved on public beta 2 - I look forward to when it is. Struggling through the betas keeps me young.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Getting the Pictures Up Here

Move the thing, or the me. They are equivalent - Mathematician (SMBC)
I’ve been mostly exclusively writing on my iPad to get stuff up here these days, which isn’t as easy as it should be.  I am truly contemplating that this might be the end of me needing a “personal laptop” around the house and that I can do everything exclusively by either working on my iPad or using Screens/Prompt to connect to the home server when a I need to do more complex stuff in my person life.
Posting pictures up here though, so much harder than it should be.  All of the main iOS apps I’ve used over the years have gone away for this business - Google no longer has a Blogger app. I used to use and love Blogsy, but retired after some API changes made it not worth upkeep by the developer. Blogo stopped working for silly reasons, it does it’s Google OAuth in a UIWebView and Google now requires OAuth to occur in OSes main browser (or SFVC).
Without a native app, I should just be able to upload directly to Google, right? Wrong. Their web interface allows me to pull in pictures from Google Photos, but not to upload. Oh, should be easy then, right?  Just go into Google Photos an add an image? Wrong.  Google Photos does not allow you to upload a single image, you to “sync/backup.” Anyway, I’ve got the workflow down since I take all these photos on my phone, I just go into iOS Photo’s Photo Stream on the iPad, snatch the ones I want, swap to Google Photos App on the iPad, and it uploads them - without uploading everything. Sounds great - and that’s how I can upload my chalk art pony photos:

Friday, June 8, 2018

You're Not a Mac App Yet

Being bad at everything you try is kind of the definition of being a kid. - David Kestenbaum
Far an away, one of my favorite Podcasts is the Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP).  When it pops up on my Overcast feed (of course), I make sure it jumps above all the other shows I might be listening to. Three hosts, with three different personalities. I often think about which of those hosts is the most like me. The cool indie developer? The hypercritical logical observer? The friends-with-everyone consultant? Yeah, probably that last one. Which is okay, they are all cool.
ATP did a live show at WWDC this year, so I made the pilgrimage down. As we were standing in front, Casey went running by and I asked for a selfie and... well.  I held up my phone and hit the power button (instead of volume to take the picture). I swiped and opened and hit the volume button! But it was on video mode. You know what, here, just accept a picture of me attempting to take a selfie with Casey.