I’m gonna try Medium For A Bit

You reading this? Ok – I haven’t updated in a while, but sometimes I think I should.

You know, maintaining an entire website for a seldom updated blog these days isn’t so fun. This is the site that got me dipping my toes into websites…back so long ago – maybe 10 years ago. Back when there were such things as iPod Minis. It’s how I learned how to set up a hosting account, install plugins, and break things. My friends would email me saying “Hey, I saw that thing you wrote.” They don’t need to do that so much anymore because there are better ways.

And are there better writing tools now? This is what I thought of while reading this piece about Signal Vs. Noise moving to Medium. Why should we maintaing our own system when others do it fine and oftentimes better?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. Should I maintain this science project or “sunset” it? Sunset is a word that people and companies use when they don’t want to say “shoot it in the back of the head while telling it about bunnies because it’s outlived its usefulness and might be causing us more problems and distractions than it’s worth.” Instead, they say sunset because, hey, who doesn’t like a good sunset, sitting on a hill, while looking over the horizon on the ocean?

Medium supposedly makes it easy to write and maintain content, so I started a profile there. I have nothing there yet besides something I’ve already posted here. I do like the idea of not having to maintain a site. I like the idea of my stuff getting discovered better. I dislike the idea of a site shutting down and having to export all my stuff.

But I also thing, so what? Is the stuff here really that great that it must be preserved for all eternity?

Maybe some of it. Most of it no.

That’s what’s weird about Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. It gives me an opportunity every morning to look at something I said a year or more ago…and delete it.

If I had the same thing here I’d probably delete a lot of stuff.

Anyway, I’m going to try Medium for a little bit. I won’t have a regular posting schedule, but I do want to see how it goes the next time I have an idea for a post.

X-Men Auditions

Int – Professor Xavier’s School for the Gifted and Talented

Professor Xavier: Yes, so what is your name?
Student: Sensei Tekken

Student bows to Professor Xavier and other members of the X-Men judges

Xavier: And what is your special power?
Student 1: I’m really good at Karate and other martial arts.
Wolverine: So? All of us are.
Student 1: Yeah, but I mean really good. I have been practicing martial arts since I was 4 years old. You only get that kind of skill with the dedication I have put into it.
Storm: Is that right?
Student 1: I think so.
Storm: My name is Storm. My special power is that I can change the weather at will. Also, I am insanely good at Karate.
Wolverine: I am Wolverine. I have an adamantium skeleton that is indestructible. I can heal myself whenever I am wounded. Also, I am really good at Karate.
Xavier: As a matter of fact, everyone here is really, really good at karate.
Student 1: I have my own dojo and am internationally recognized for my martial arts abilities.
Xavier: Yeah, well…pffft.
Student 1: How did you all get really good at Karate?
Storm: I…I don’t know.
Wolverine: Me neither. Really, the whole adamantium thing is enough. I don’t even really need to be good at Karate. I can stab people so easily with my claws the Karate thing is really a formality.
Student 1 (to Xavier): Did you teach them?
Xavier: No, you may not have noticed, but I am in a wheel chair. But I can read minds and one time I read the mind of a black belt. I thought I would learn Karate, but instead I learned a really good chili recipe.
Wolverine: …all of us are also really good at making chili.
Xavier: Next!

student 1 leaves as student 2 walks on stage wearing an apron

Xavier: And what is your mutant power?
Student 2 (nervously): I…I am really good at making chili.

Serial is Podcasting’s Harry Potter

In New Podcasting:

And for the first time since Podcasts got included in iTunes something big is happening. Has happened. Of course, I’m talking about Serial, the documentary series produced by the “This American Life” team. Serial has become a phenomenon. It’s literally pop culture. Sesame Street, Saturday Night Life, The Colbert Report. Like always metrics are hard, but it certainly increased the audience of podcast listeners manifold just by itself.

So more people are listening to a radio show on the Internet. What’s the big deal? I think Serial is redefining what Podcast means to people…

I’m not so sure. Serial is like podcasting’s Harry Potter. Over ten years ago, Harry Potter books were so big that people assumed that they were going to carry readers from Harry Potter to other stories? Did they?

You Get What You Pay For

TPB has become an institution that people just expected to be there. Noone willing to take the technology further. The site was ugly, full of bugs, old code and old design. It never changed except for one thing – the ads. More and more ads was filling the site, and somehow when it felt unimaginable to make these ads more distasteful they somehow ended up even worse.

“Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time”

On trying to adopt the new collaboration tools:

Other employers rout out time-wasting email and meetings by training and requiring employees to use project-management applications, which typically store project files in one place online where all employees involved can see, update and comment on them as needed. This reduces the need for email or meetings.

In trying Basecamp,1 I have found that it can be difficult to get people to switch from tools they know to tools that are better that they don’t know. What often happens is teammates will be resistant and start jamming inboxes again and segments all the productive work between email and the new tool.

I often think that it’s an “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” mentality, but maybe it was my fault in assuming that they didn’t need to be trained.

Also, Back To Work recently talked about endless CC’ing, like this:

Those annoying CCs—which often trigger a tsunami of “reply all” responses—are major time-wasters. Senders should avoid use of mass-distribution lists if possible. Seagate coaches employees to omit recipients who don’t need to see an email. “There’s no need for spectators,” Ms. Motsinger says.

I don’t remember a good way to curb that behavior other than not repyling.

  1. Which I quite like. 

“How NBC’s The Voice Sold 20 Million Songs Without a Single Star”

I’ve never watched this show, and that’s why I don’t get the current music culture.

…The Voice isn’t actually designed to discover a new pop star. The show, which pulls in close to 14 million viewers each week and is currently the most watched reality-TV program, works best as a vehicle for the judges’ careers.

…Maybe that’s why shows like Idol and The Voice do so well: People feel like they’re discovering new artists even though they’re listening to the same old tunes.

Give up and use the first-party Twitter App

I did, or at least am trying to. You have to get over some weird bugs (like seemingly random per-user notifications), but afterwards you may come to like it.

I’ve been a Twitterrific user for years on Mac and iOS, but the writing is on the wall. All the newest features like multiple photos, cards, photo tagging, archive search, and per-user notifications are all only on Twitter’s apps.

You know exactly what’s going on: they want to shut down all traditional apps that aren’t their own. Rather than reeling them in they’re going to restrict new features on their own apps until everybody switches.

And frankly, I feel like using Twitter’s own apps reveals the true Twitter, whatever that is. It’s like surfing the web without ad-blocker. It’s the true web, even if it is ad-ridden (although, I haven’t found the ads to be that bad).

There are only a couple of features I miss from Twitterrific: dark/night mode and timeline syncing between devices. Third party apps don’t give you animated gifs (which are actually video files on twitter’s servers), they don’t give you activities…they can’t. There’s no public API for it. But once new features outweigh what you like in your current client, you may never open a third-party client again.

Further reading: Twitter California Knife

When Dictatorship Could Be The Solution

In Defense of Dictatorship:

Imagine a country in crisis. One where major strategic decisions that will cause essential change in direction are needed. A strong, decisive leader who does not allow dissent is needed. Right?

Russia during Boris Yeltsin was in that situation. The country was falling apart. The Soviet Union was disappearing. That enabled Nazarbayev to define the borders that became today’s modern Kazakhstan (the ninth largest land size nation in the world). Russia was in such disarray that no one could stem the different parts of the union from falling away.

The messy situation called for a dictator who could install order, starting with withdrawing from Afghanistan, solving the Chechnya uprising and somehow putting an end to the frenzy of how companies were being “privatized.” Putin was the answer.

Sometimes someone just needs to make decisions:

I would say that the price of democracy in the Middle East is the absence of, and inability to secure, peace. Both Israel and the Palestinians need a dictator.

Democracy is not a panacea for all problems. In this case of the Middle East I believe it is the problem.

70% of Nothing is Nothing

On Spotify payouts:

“Here’s the simple fact that no one wants to talk about. Spotify says it pays out seventy per cent of its revenues to rights holders. Well, that’s very nice, that’s lovely. But if I’m making a shoe, and it costs me a hundred dollars to make it, and the retailer is selling that shoe for ten dollars, then I don’t care if he gives me seventy per cent, I don’t care if he gives me one hundred per cent—I’m going out of business. Dead is dead.”

Shazam’s Hit Detection

While most users think of Shazam as a handy tool for identifying unfamiliar songs, it offers music executives something far more valuable: an early-detection system for hits.

…“We know where a song’s popularity starts, and we can watch it spread,” Titus told me. Take, for example, Lorde, the out-of-nowhere sensation of 2013. Shazam’s engineers can rewind time to trace the international contagion of her first single, “Royals,” watching the pings of Shazam searches spread from New Zealand, her home country, to Nashville (a major music hub, even for noncountry songs), to the American coasts, pinpointing the exact day it peaked in each of nearly 3,000 U.S. cities.

Don’t be so negative

A Facebook engineer on why Facebook doesn’t have a dislike button:

Actions on Facebook tend to focus on positive social interactions. Like is the lightest-weight way to express positive sentiment. I don’t think adding a light-weight way to express negative sentiment would be that valuable. I know there are times when it’d make sense, like when a friend is having a rough day, or got into a car accident like my sister yesterday (she’s okay!). For these times, a nice comment from a friend goes a long way.

Michael Crichton on “It’s Science”

Saw this on Goodreads.

“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

“It’s Science”

When Liberals Use ‘Science’ To Attack Conservatives, They Demean Science

For progressivism, ‘science’ has become a safety blanket in which its adherents can swaddle themselves to avoid confronting alternative beliefs.

Whatever your politics, be wary of this tactic of trying to shut down discussion.

“Science” is an ever-changing body based on what we know or what we think we know. The Earth used to be flat. The Earth used to be the center of the universe. Pluto used to be a planet.

That’s not to say that evidence should be ignored, but I often wonder when you hear something like “95% of scientists agree that X” what it is that the other 5% disagree with. Consensus does not equal truth.

So that’s why you only get 6 skips an hour

We all skip tracks while listening to music — whether on CD, via Pandora, or via our favorite music service like Spotify, Beats, Rdio, Google Play, Deezer, etc.

What most of listeners don’t realize, however, is that royalties are paid for music that we skip. In fact, and in most cases, a full royalty is paid for music that we skip — even if we skip a track in less than a few seconds. Whether you think it is fair or not, in order to get the license, services pay for music even when a track is skipped.