Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Katerina and I were riding an elevator on our way home after spending the day at her co-working space.

“Hey, weren’t you the one wearing a Microsoft hoodie and using a Mac upstairs?“ asked a guy that was on the elevator with us.

“Yeah… I was.” I kind of knew what was coming and looking forward to it.

“Well, is that you know, allowed?”

“Sure! At least in some groups. More people than you might expect use Macs at Microsoft. A lot of people in my group have one.“

“But you have to have Windows on it, don’t you?”

“Nope.“ He was confused by that, so I continued. “I do have a Surface laptop which I use for all the things I need Windows for. But I’m in the Azure group, and most of what I do is work with Unix.”

“But,” he said, just not quite processing, “isn’t that kind of weird?”

Yeah, but in a good way. I didn’t have time; otherwise, I would have remembered to mention that some people in my group use straight up Linux, and others even use Chromebooks and have PlayStations hooked up to their televisions.

18:45 UTC
The German Reichstag with Tiergarten in the foreground.

The weather in Berlin isn’t typical for January. Instead, it rather feels like permanent November. The temperature has been between freezing and 5ºC, and the skies have been grey. While it’s easy to get around town, it’s my least favorite weather for January. I’d much rather have the bright blue sunny skies that come when the temperature goes below -10ºC.

(For my American friends, that’s 40ºF and 15ºF.)

14:50 UTC
Monday, January 14, 2019

We’ll know that the iPad is really ready to take over from a laptop when it’s no longer a ridiculous process to get photos from an SD card directly into Lightroom. At least now there’s a Siri Shortcut that can be set up to do it.

It’s slightly less ridiculous, but I really hope we’ll see something better this summer when Apple announces their next set of OS updates.

09:00 UTC

Back in the late 90s when the portal wars were going strong, it seemed apparent that syndication was going to be the future of the web and RSS was going to be key. It didn’t work out that way. Sinclair Target writes about the rise and fall of RSS on Motherboard:

Regular people never felt comfortable using RSS; it hadn’t really been designed as a consumer-facing technology and involved too many hurdles; people jumped ship as soon as something better came along.

That something, for better or worse, was Twitter and Facebook. Their advantage: ease of use for the end user. As we try to imagine a stronger independent web again, we need to keep that in mind.

08:20 UTC
Sunday, January 13, 2019

Some startups are fed up with the growth at all costs mindset and are rejecting the model that’s been tech’s foundation. Essentially, they are telling venture capitalists to get lost, and are asking some profound questions along the way:

Would Facebook’s leadership have ignored warning signs of Russian election meddling or allowed its platform to incite racial violence if it hadn’t, in its early days, prized moving fast and breaking things? Would Uber have engaged in dubious regulatory and legal strategies if it hadn’t prioritized expansion over all else?

It’s hard to know for sure, but the culture a company starts with indeed continues to inform it for years and decades after.

12:50 UTC
Saturday, January 12, 2019

Here’s a plot from the Azure Application Insights dashboard that I’ve set up to monitor my website. It contains ping test results that are run every 5 minutes from 16 data centers around the world:

Since I’m currently using Netlify to serve this site, it’s is really a test of how far away servers on their content delivery network (CDN) are from Azure data centers. Some of the best times (sub 30ms) are from West US, Australia East, Brazil South, and Southeast Asia. The worst is from Japan East, grouped together in that top line.

The data from these ping tests correlate with a separate group of tests that I use, another monitoring service, to run:

Maybe Netlify’s CDN needs a presence in Japan to even things up? Even so, I can’t complain. It’s so very much better than serving this site off a single server somewhere in the world without a content delivery network.

15:01 UTC

Now that the silly season is well done, maybe it’s time to go back and look at the second volume of of the National Climate Assessment (NCA2018)( While buried on Black Friday — presumably to keep it out of the news cycle — it’s endorsed by most of the executive branch’s departments and agencies, including the Defense and State Departments.

Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.

It doesn’t get much more clear cut than that. The real debate isn’t what’s going to happen, but what we’re going to do about it.

14:00 UTC
Thursday, January 10, 2019

I’m not a big fan of the currently fashionable “iPhones are bad, m’kay!” thinking. Yes, there are apps and social networks that are bad, but the technology itself is neutral. After spending a day without my phone while it was in getting a new camera module, however, I will admit that it was really nice spending some time away from it.

Sitting on the train, for example, with no magic device in hand was a treat. I just watched the scenery going by. The people getting on and off. The signs and graffiti. I enjoyed the space to think without somebody else’s thoughts jumping in at any moment.

I might have to do that again. On purpose.

15:00 UTC
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Only in Germany would they need to put a sticker on your dashboard reminding you of your new tires max speed when you switch them out for snow tires in the winter. Because, you know, the autobahn.

For my American friends, 210kph equals 130mph.

21:00 UTC

I took my iPhone into the Apple Store today to get its camera fixed. Somehow, one of the elements in this telephoto lens cracked over the holidays. The service people hadn’t seen anything quite like it, and I’m sure they’ve seen their share of weird stuff. Since there was no external damage and all the diagnostics checked out, however, Apple is fixing it under warranty.

Funny thing: on the way home, I almost got a ticket from a fare inspector on the train. I’d hadn’t thought it through that my monthly fare card was on my phone, which wasn’t with me. Oops. Luckily, the inspector accepted my excuse and let me off with a warning. Whew.

14:00 UTC