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Assembled in the USA from 100% Chinese parts.

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27th February 2018

12:55am: Eggy Bread Emergency.
Here in New England we're familiar with the term French Toast Emergency. When a snowstorm is predicted, people rush to the grocers and buy up all the bread, milk, and eggs.

Apparently this happens in the UK and Ireland as well. (They're expecting some snowy weather over the next few days.)

I don't see anyone calling it an Eggy Bread Emergency, however.

15th February 2018

10:20pm: 新年快乐!
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!


Google's doodle for this Year of the Dog

6th February 2018

6:57am: FTAlphaville's Markets Live is always fun the morning after a "correction".
https://ftalphaville.ft.com/marketslive*

Wonderfully snide! Unlike the idiots on cable business channels with their mindless market-pumping, FTAlphaville are all for mocking financial folly. Of which there's always quite a lot. But a down market exposes what's been hidden during a boom, so it inspires more entertaining commentary.

As Warren Buffett said, “It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked.”

Yesterday the ocean receded a bit.

(*bikergeek notes that the page is behind a wall. It's not a paywall but it does require registration, as does all of FTAlphaville.)

5th February 2018

6:08pm: Nice send-off for Chair Yellen today.
And an interesting first day on the job for Chair Powell.

S&P 500 Index
2,648.94
INDEXCBOE: .INX - 4:41 PM EST
−113.19 (4.10%)

Dow Jones Industrial Average
24,345.75
INDEXDJX: .DJI - 4:41 PM EST
−1,175.21 (4.60%)

Nasdaq Composite
6,967.53
INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC - 5:15 PM EST
−273.42 (3.78%)

Russell 2000 Index
1,491.09
INDEXRUSSELL: RUT - 4:30 PM EST
−56.18 (3.63%)

NYSE Composite Index
12,572.93
INDEXNYSEGIS: NYA - 4:15 PM EST
−512.42 (3.92%)

(via Google)

2nd February 2018

4:45am: 2018春运
It begins.


Passengers wait to board trains at Shanghai's Hongqiao Railway Station as the annual Spring Festival travel rush begins ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Shanghai, China. REUTERS/Aly Song

See the rest of the slideshow of day one from Reuters at: https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/travel-chaos-in-china-idUSRTX4MZUC

This year, Chunyun's first day just happens to be the first day of February. The travel crush goes on until March 12th. Chinese authorities estimate that just under three billion trips will be made during those forty days.

My personal journey home to the family is only a little over 400km. By Chinese standards this is relatively short. Most importantly, no part of it takes place in China.

24th January 2018

1:28am: Hoisted from a private post written early this morning about some ancient history.
But if I didn't say it, well I'd still have felt it
Where's the sense in that?
(2003)
12:58am: Stuck in my head. I think I blame The Friendly Toast.
Inside you the time moves
And she don't fade
(1984)

18th January 2018

1:50pm: Dishwashers rock. :)

6th January 2018

3:54pm: Not a bubble.
From https://uetoken.com:

"The world's first 100% honest Ethereum ICO.

"You're going to give some random person on the internet money, and they're going to take it and go buy stuff with it. Probably electronics, to be honest. Maybe even a big-screen television.

"Seriously, don't buy these tokens."

Useless Ethereum Token raised $300,000.

"The UET crowdsale has finished. Thanks to everyone who contributed!
(Regardless of the fact that none of you read any of the warnings on this page.)"

19th December 2017

8:12pm: Matt Levine, writing today about block.one, "which 'has raised about $700 million and counting' by selling EOS tokens that it says 'do not have any rights, uses, purpose, attributes, functionalities or features.'":
It is hard to believe that anyone commits securities fraud anymore. Right now you can design an electronic token, say in big bold letters that the token is utterly useless, and raise $700 million selling it to people who "don't think it's fair reading into that language too tightly." Why bother to scam anyone?

4th December 2017

7:55pm: CryptoKitties!

Cute kitties, easier to store than Beanie Babies, and more profitable (at least until the bubble bursts)!

They are really bogging down the Etherium blockchain, though.

21st November 2017

10:19pm: Matt Levine, on Skedaddle and blockchain survivalists.
Matt Levine had a short but funny piece on two different blockchain related follies yesterday.

From https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-20/the-blockchain-might-scare-the-gig-economy-to-death:
One day 20 years from now we'll wake up and all of our interactions and performance will be tracked on the blockchain and will directly determine our income and socioeconomic status, and on the one hand we'll get pretty good customer service, but on the other hand we'll be terrified all the time. It is the logical endpoint of the "gig economy."

The thing is that this omniscient blockchain of terror will be run by Facebook, not Skedaddle. If you just come out and say that your mission is to build a dystopia of economic precarity and constant surveillance, then you do not have the soft skills to actually carry out that mission. (Never mind if you say that your mission is "to completely take down Yelp and Facebook reviews, while completely eliminating tipping.") If you say that your mission is "to make the world more open and connected," then you have the ruthlessness, and the facility with euphemism, to actually do it.
Actually, the Chinese are actually implementing a national reputation system, but without the whole distributed ledger part, because why would the Chinese Communist Party ever want something that wasn't directly under their control?

In the second part of the post he makes fun of blockchain survivalists:
Elsewhere in dystopian blockchain fiction, here is a story about doomsday preppers who are hoarding bitcoins against the apocalypse. Doomsday prepping and bitcoin enthusiasm go well together psychologically: Both involve distrust of modern social systems, and both tap into deep libertarian and self-sufficiency themes. But they don't go at all well together logically: If modern society is wiped out in some massive catastrophe, it seems unlikely that the electric grid and global internet infrastructure will survive to run an energy-hungry blockchain for a currency with no physical form that even now basically can't be used to buy anything.

16th November 2017

1:40am: From https://www.newsday.co.zw/2017/11/the-end-of-an-era/:

"When you see a man in military fatigues reading news on national television, you know the military has taken over."

15th November 2017

4:58am: From https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/keurig-papa-johns-and-the-politicization-of-american-junk:
There is something grotesque, demoralizing, and entirely fitting, in the Trump era, about seeing Americans act out political grievances through the quotidian and joyless consumer products that populate our lives, of seeing quick coffee and takeout pizza become the emblems by which we are left to define ourselves and the hills on which we die for our imagined ideals.

11th November 2017

5:17pm: 光棍节 (Singles' Day) 11/11.
Man, Singles Day is such a big deal Alibaba even sent me an ad.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singles%27_Day has more info. It's the biggest single shopping day on earth. The Verge says today's sales were double last year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.

The First World War has essentially no resonance in China which is why 11/11 was available. Some European retailers have been trying it on but my guess is there will be resistance anywhere Armistice Day is a thing.

I bought nothing today.

13th September 2017

2:51pm: Wanted: Android data recovery service.
My phone is still in boot loop. I posted about this problem in passing on August 21. Nothing about the phone has changed.

I still have many images and some text messages I would like to recover from it. I am willing to pay someone to get them back for me.

If you have had good experiences with a service and you would like to recommend them, please let me know.

20th May 2017

3:03pm: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' last weekend.
The final show will be streamed at 7PM Sunday on YouTube and Facebook. Details are at https://www.ringling.com/

We're driving down for one of Sunday's earlier shows because returning from Nassau Coliseum after the last show means a long drive back home through the night.

There are still tickets available for shows today and tomorrow, if you want to catch them before they close forever.

8th April 2017

1:17am: A-Z Poly Guides for only $3.97!
A-Z Poly Guides, $3.97.

This seems an excellent price for a product I had no idea existed!
Current Mood: amused

6th April 2017

11:29pm: Tech question for everyone leaving LJ.
I'm watching a mass move of my flist from LJ to dw.

Could I ask those of you who have made the move and backed-up/downloaded your data from LJ what you used to do this?

I have been using dw since 2009, crossposting all the while. One thing that has stopped me from making a clean break with LJ is that I haven't downloaded all my old posts and comments.

If you have useful suggestions on how I might do this, I'd really appreciate it if you shared them with me.

Thanks!

4th April 2017

9:30pm: As I drove out of vehicle inspection this afternoon, I thought, "Do something interesting today." A good general affirmation, actually.

Even if it is a little hard to carry out starting at about 5PM on a cold, rainy Boston weekday.

29th March 2017

8:54am: A modest proposal regarding Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and continued EU membership.
I have a very modest proposal which immediately occurred to me on reading this piece in the Belfast Telegraph:
Colum Eastwood has welcomed confirmation from Brexit Secretary David Davis that Northern Ireland would have an "automatic route" back into the EU if it were part of a united Ireland.

Unlike Scotland, which has been told it could be forced to join a queue for membership of the bloc if the country votes for independence, the province would not have to reapply for EU membership, as the Republic is already one of the existing member states, Tory minister said.

In a letter to SDLP MP Mark Durkan, David Davis wrote: “If a majority of the people of Northern Ireland were ever to vote to become part of a united Ireland the UK Government will honour its commitment to enable that to happen.”

He added: “In that event, Northern Ireland would be in a position of becoming part of an existing EU member state, rather than seeking to join the EU as a new independent state.

"It would of course be for the EU Commission to respond to any specific questions about the procedural requirements for that to happen."
It occurs to me immediately that there is a possible route for Scotland here, which probably only works if Ireland unites. Possibly not even then, depending on how Brussels looks on this particular plan.

If it is the case that becoming part of an existing EU member state means a country does not have to reapply for EU membership, clearly that's the preferred route. So after a united Ireland--possibly within hours of unification--Ireland and Scotland can then form the Celtic Union, and the whole Union would remain an EU member state.

Obviously, one would want to know whether the EU would be willing to accept this before embarking on this course of action.

Disclaimer: I am not either an Irish or UK citizen, or a citizen of any EU member state.

I have found two letters to the Irish Times advocating Celtic Union, but neither of them directly addresses the EU membership issue.

I have also found a letter to the Belfast Telegraph which does explicitly address the issue of EU membership.

I'm glad people are thinking along these lines. One hopes they can get organized in the next two years, as the clock is now ticking.

26th March 2017

11:47am: The external storage on my Android phone is more or less working again. Hooray.
If you're following me on Instagram or on Twitter, you'll have noticed that I've started posting again on both sites. (If you're not, and you'd like to, let me know who you are over there and if I know you I'll be glad to give you access.)

If you're following me here you'll know that I've been having frustrating problems with storage on my Android phone. I'm happy to report that my immediate problems have more or less been solved, though my actions didn't have much to do with it. Last time I mentioned that I thought it was a software problem and that one suggested solution was to move apps from external to internal storage and see if one of the apps resident on the SD card was causing the OS to dismount the card.

After a couple of rounds of this annoying tedium I realized one first step I could take was to reboot the phone into safe mode to see if any of the downloaded apps were causing the problem, or if the actual source of the issue lay elsewhere.

I rebooted the phone into safe mode and waited a few minutes. Sure enough, the phone dismounted its SD card, right on schedule.

It didn't seem to matter whether I had any apps on the phone at all. The problem was apparently either preinstalled software or hardware. I was, without any particular evidence, leaning towards hardware. I thought about buying a new SD card, but that seemed like it might be throwing good money after bad.

One evening after I had mostly given up on the problem and was researching new phones, I got a notification of a system update. I was kind of surprised that my phone manufacturer had even gotten around to updating the OS, but happily so. I figured updating the system couldn't make things much worse than they already were.

Well, what do you know? Updating the OS changed my problem from "the phone dismounts its SD card three to five minutes after reboot" to "the phone intermittently dismounts its SD card a few days after reboot". That is more or less acceptable, where five minutes of uptime is not. I'm now reasonably pleased with the current behavior of the phone. I mean, I reboot the thing every couple of days on average because something gets wedged anyway.

Nonetheless I continue to be peeved at the way Android handles external storage. Over lunch last week, as we were both grumbling about our phones, a friend compared the way Android deals with external storage to the bad old days of the 640k RAM limit on the PC. It's not directly analogous--storage, not memory, for one thing--but it does require some irritating workarounds of its own.

For example, I have a fair amount of space remaining on my SD card: about 9GB. This does not help me with my internal storage crunch, however, as I have less than 720MB left there. And that's what matters to the Google App Store: if I don't have sufficient space in internal storage to download and uncompress an app, I can't install it on the SD card. More irritating is that when the App Store discovers this, it throws up a menu helpfully listing the amount of storage you're short of, and then deeply unhelpfully lists apps you might delete from the phone, without regard to where those apps are stored. This is dumb, because you can delete apps off the SD card all day without making the least difference to the App Store, which will unhelpfully continue to suggest more apps to delete.

Since all my large apps are now on the SD card, the apps the App Store will list first are invariably the ones on the SD card, and thus useless in resolving the internal storage space problem.

This design makes access to the SD card subject to the bottleneck of one's internal storage limit. I feel for my friend: his phone has 4GB of internal storage and it's manufactured by Samsung, which I understand to be one of the bigger offenders when it comes to manufacturer-imposed software bloat. At least I have 8GB of internal storage to start with, because Android takes up over 3GB of that. He's left with less than a GB of internal storage after Google and Samsung are done with his phone.

Moreover, the App Store doesn't tell you whether a particular app can be moved to the SD card. You have to install it and then go into settings to see where the OS put it. I've been doing a lot of this: download, check, delete if installed in internal storage. It is tedious.

For most apps, I suspect there's no very compelling reason to require that it be stored internally but it does require an active effort by the developer to allow the app to be moved to external storage. In any case, a vast number of apps have to be installed in internal storage.

There are a couple of fixes, none of which are immediately appealing. First, I could root my existing phone and then shove all the apps onto the SD card. Seeing which ones then broke would be entertaining, if not entirely useful.

Alternately I can buy a phone with lots of internal storage and/or no SD card slot whatsoever. This is the iPhone solution, and there are a number of Android phones with the same philosophy: no external storage equals no problem with a distinction between internal and external storage.

The downside of this, of course, is that no external expansion means you pay over the odds for storage and are stuck with your decision after purchase, because internal storage is fixed and invariably more expensive than that on an SD card. It does eliminate an entire class of issues with regard to storage--for example, if I'd bought a phone with plenty of internal storage this problem would never have happened to me at all--but the web is full of griping about the markups phone manufacturers get away with on internal storage.

One final note is that in copying over the 9000+ images I have taken on my phone I noticed two were corrupt, and caused my phone to dismount the SD card when I tried copying them. So it's possible my actual problem is that SD card has bad sectors and the OS was coping with this problem ungracefully by dismounting the SD card instead of just locking out the bad sectors. In any case I've already copied those particular images on a previous backup so the data is fine. Everything else on the SD card is an app, and so easily replaceable as well.

Really what I need is a new camera because I shot nearly all of those 9000+ images during the time I've been without a camera. I much, much prefer having a standalone camera to shooting with a phone, but that is a rant for another day.

2nd March 2017

5:24pm: Elon Musk has already demonstrated that he's much shrewder about business ownership than D. D. Harriman.

(context: http://www.spacex.com/news/2017/02/27/spacex-send-privately-crewed-dragon-spacecraft-beyond-moon-next-year and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delos_D._Harriman)
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