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15th April 2019

8:54am: People who get in my face when I disagree with them get less feedback from me. They also get less honest feedback.

They may not care. They evidently don't want my feedback. But I think enough of my opinions that I feel that it's their loss.

Also I feel I'm saving my own time by not engaging.

12th April 2019

3:02pm: And now, Jet Airways.
I was never a huge fan of the airline but as is usual with airlines I'm on the side of more competition.

From https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47905089:
Passengers are stranded in India and around the world after Jet Airways suspended all international flights.

Flights from London, Paris and Amsterdam are among those grounded amid fears about the survival of India's largest private airline.

The airline cancelled all international flights until Monday when, according to reports, it will meet its lenders again to try to secure funding.

29th March 2019

11:04am: RIP, Wow Air.
Icelandic low-fare carrier Wow Air just stopped flying, stranding passengers on both sides of the Atlantic. The Washington Post has a story on what to do if you're stuck: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/i-have-a-wow-air-ticket-what-happens-now/2019/03/28/2bda45f0-5182-11e9-8d28-f5149e5a2fda_story.html

I'm sad about this, not because I ever had much intention of flying with them, but because when the transatlantic low-fare airlines like Laker Airways and People Express Airlines stop flying, the network carriers raise their prices.

RIP, Wow. Hope Norwegian stays in the air until the end of the summer.

26th February 2019

3:44pm: From https://www.ft.com/content/b2e56c96-1f32-11e9-a46f-08f9738d6b2b:
Every year, Chapman University in California publishes a fun list called the Survey of American Fears. In 2018, the biggest fear, for all Americans, was corrupt government officials. Money was at number four, but five of the top 10 fears were environmental. This is perhaps surprising, as politicians, especially in the US, often portray the environment as an elite concern. (By way of context, being murdered by a stranger was at number 50, one above sharks.)

“We are beginning to see trends that people tend to fear what they are exposed to in the media,” says Christopher Bader, the survey leader and a professor of sociology at Chapman. Media scare stories are, to an extent, fairly egalitarian and widely consumed. Plutocrats differ from the hoi polloi in that they have the means to do something about these newsworthy worries — which might explain the vogue among the Silicon Valley elite for post-apocalyptic boltholes in faraway places such as New Zealand.

25th February 2019

9:38pm: Nish Kumar, British comedian, on people calling him by some other Indian name.
From https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/03/my-name-is-nish-kumar-so-please-stop-calling-me-nish-patel:

"When you make money off my name, you learn my damn name."
5:58pm: From Adrienne Crew's latest piece, on time travel fiction. Third installment of ten in her Afrofuturism series on Hilobrow.
For an American of African descent, the notion of traveling to the past is a painful one. In no matter which time period a person like me might arrive, if I’m in Europe or a European colony, I might very likely be raped, enslaved, lynched, or all of the above. I’ve asked African American friends about which past time period they’d most like to visit, and they always agree with me that the present is the best. Brandi Brown, a young African American stand-up comedian who formerly worked in advertising, once joked that when she was asked, “Don’t you wish you could go back and work in the time of Mad Men?, her response was: “I would not like that at all! I’m a huge fan of my current rights.” The very idea of time travel, for African Americans, heightens our anxiety about the history of anti-black white supremacy in the world.
#Outlander ,#siemprebruj, #AydreaWalden, #hollybass, #backtothefuture, #sankofaand #Kindred
5:47pm: PSA to anyone who’s thinking about adopting devs.
From http://phantomrose96.tumblr.com/post/182948728452/psa-to-anyone-whos-thinking-about-adopting-devs:
Please spread this. So so so many people are trying to run websites without the slightest idea how to keep a happy, healthy dev. It breaks my heart to see mishandled devs, who should be great additions to any website, instead end up turning on high-contrast mode permanently, removing pictures of sand dunes and babies with a broken p0rn detecting AI, and sometimes just deleting entire users, features, and posts accidentally. This is not cute. Do not get a dev if you cannot care for them properly. This has been a PSA.
4:51pm: "Here's what Trevor Noah's hilarious Oscars Wakanda joke actually means"
I do appreciate a good language joke. South Africans, particularly Xhosa-speakers, really seem to have liked this one too.

From https://www.timeslive.co.za/tshisa-live/tshisa-live/2019-02-25-heres-what-trevor-noahs-hilarious-oscars-wakanda-joke-actually-means:
Trevor Noah may have got applause from the audience at the Oscars on Sunday night for his speech about Wakanda, but local fans were crying with laughter at the shade the comedian was actually throwing in a Xhosa-infused joke.

Trevor took to the Oscar's stage to present Black Panther as one of the Best Picture nominees at this year's award ceremony and mocked those who thought Wakanda may be a real place.

"Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T'Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase. He says 'abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka' - which means 'In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart'."

His "inspirational" story drew applause from those who did not understand Xhosa.
Click through to see the video and get the accurate translation.

22nd February 2019

4:26pm: The MBTA Customer Opinion Panel
Have you seen this or signed up for it? It requires either a CharlieCard or a CharlieTicket number, and your responses are linked to that.

From http://mbtabackontrack.com/performance/index.html#/engagement:
The MBTA Customer Opinion Panel is a group of several thousand customers who have signed up to tell us about their experiences every few months.

Customers fill out an initial signup survey that gives us some basic information, and then receive a satisfaction survey every month which takes about 5-10 minutes to fill out. We use these responses to understand how we’re doing in delivering many aspects of our service, including reliability, cleanliness, maintenance, and more.

Filling out the satisfaction survey allows customers to enter a monthly drawing for a LinkPass.

The Customer Opinion Panel is open to all MBTA riders. Your input will help keep us focused on what matters most to you as we work to improve our service.
12:27am: "My left shoe won't even reboot."
At least the firmware update didn't brick the shoes if you're using the iOS app. Just the Android version of Nike Adapt.

(Why would I pay $350 for shoes that need a mobile app for full functionality?)

From Nike’s self-lacing sneakers turn into bricks after faulty firmware update:
One user writes, "The first software update for the shoe threw an error while updating, bricking the right shoe." Another says, "App will only sync with left shoe and then fails every time. Also, app says left shoe is already connected to another device whenever I try to reinstall and start over."

"My left shoe won't even reboot." writes another. One user offers a possible solution, saying, "You need to do a manual reset of both shoes per the instructions."
12:11am: Giant Chunk of Elevated Subway Crashes Through Windshield of Moving Car
One irrational fear I have when passing under an elevated track is that something will fall on me.

I suppose perhaps it's not that irrational?

65th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, Queens, underneath the 7 train, this afternoon:

Giant Chunk of Elevated Subway Crashes Through Windshield of Moving Car
Gothamist says it's scrap from earlier construction work.
From http://gothamist.com/2019/02/21/final_destination_7_train_queens.php:
Transit reporter Aaron Gordon noted on Twitter, "A source tells me the wood is from the girders that support the tracks, not the track or trackbed itself. The wood was probably scrap not properly secured. The tracks have been determined as safe for use."
Less than a week ago, another sizable piece of wood fell, narrowly missing someone, that time inside the Bedford Avenue station for the L train. From Gothamist again (http://gothamist.com/2019/02/15/what_the_l_falling_plywood_version.php?fbclid=IwAR2rw-dpn6QST8vZwZRctTMaScwYG_XV-RnokyXfo-3WOaJxgBSu00gLFTY#photo-1):
She added, "It looked like a pretty solid piece of plywood. It made a huge bang. We all started running because there was a big dust cloud from the plaster. When the dust settled I was talking to people around me and they said it was maybe five inches from hitting me. I’m pretty sure a piece of rebar hit me but I was wearing a winter jacket."
I'd have thought after that the MTA might be looking to secure things that might fall, but maybe they were just checking inside stations.

It's a big system. But I think maybe my fear isn't that irrational?

16th February 2019

12:00am: Apparently vendors of Smart Home devices are under pressure from Amazon and Google to share their data.

From https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3070965/amazon-google-smart-home-tracking
Given that companies like Logitech Harmony and SmartThings are themselves hubs for smart devices, this could give the two tech giants a huge supply of new data. Smart remotes will tell them what you watch. Turning the light out will tell them what time you go to bed. Smart locks will tell them whether or not they're engaged. And all of it could tell them whether or not you're at home - if the location data doesn't already.

All of this data combined and analysed (probably by AI) could give a disturbingly accurate picture of your entire life, and coupled with your phone, it won't just be limited to your home.

9th February 2019

1:12pm: Transit user data, law enforcement, and fare collection.
As the MBTA makes its plans for AFC 2.0, its new fare collection system, it's important for all of us to keep privacy and due process in mind with a system that as currently proposed will require a one-to-one correspondence between riders and cards.

Certainly the legal framework is different in Massachusetts to what it is in Ontario. I've seen no suggestion that Massachusetts law enforcement intends to use its transit data in this way. Nonetheless, it's always best to get issues like this correct from the start.

From Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing (https://boingboing.net/2019/02/05/doug-ford-is-watching-you.html):
Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant.

Law enforcement requests to Metrolinx have mounted steadily, growing by 47% last year, and in 22% of cases, the agency handed travel history over to police without a warrant.

The Toronto Star first revealed this practice two years ago, but despite public outcry, Metrolinx continues to shun the rule of law, instead relying on what it calls "a balance" between "the commitment to protecting the privacy of Presto card users and maintaining the safety and security of the transit system and its passengers."

From https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/02/01/metrolinx-continues-to-share-presto-users-data-without-requiring-warrants.html:
“Broadly, the concern is that it’s very important that a mass transit system, a public transit system, doesn’t become a system of mass surveillance,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s privacy, technology and surveillance project.
11:06am: National Pizza Day
I always did like Sandra Boynton's work.

And now I know what to do today.



4th February 2019

9:44pm: 新年快乐!

This year's Google Doodle includes a game that uses the front-facing camera of a phone to teach shadow puppetry. (Click through for the story.)

3rd February 2019

3:36pm: The MBTA Green Line is out of service at Arlington. There was a cable fire between Arlington and Copley. Firefighters are on the platform at Arlington.

(This is the first time I have ever seen a "No service" sign on the indicator board.)

28th January 2019

7:47pm: iOS 12 continues to have connectivity issues
From https://www.inquisitr.com/5268477/ios-12-1-3-reportedly-causing-connectivity-issues-for-several-iphone-users/:

"iPhone owners thinking about updating their devices and installing iOS 12.1.3 might want to hold off for the meantime, as a new report suggests that the software isn’t just compromising cellular data support, but also cutting off Wi-Fi for many users."

11th January 2019

6:34pm: There is a car stuck at a level crossing on the Fitchburg Line between Porter Square and Belmont, so services on the line have stopped until the car can be towed off the track.

10th January 2019

4:15pm: My friend Lisa Weber of Better Mass Transit, a public advocacy group here in Boston, has asked me to share her two-question survey about one aspect of the MBTA's new fare collection system.

Here's her post:

"Friends who take the T. They've started switching to their new payment system which eliminates cash payments on board, but will allow you to pay with a smartphone, fare media card, or contactless credit card. You'll still be able to pay cash at fare vending machines to buy the fare media cards before boarding.

"They have announced their plan to charge a $5 mandatory overdraft protection fee for each kind of payment (each new fare card, smartphone app, credit card).

"Would you please take this two-question survey to share your opinion about the required $5 fee. Feel free to share it with anyone who takes the T. I'm happy to answer any questions."


1st January 2019

8:49am: Market Basket is open today: 7AM-6PM. Kind of amazed.

Thanked the checkout staff.

27th December 2018

9:51pm: Street signs.
Temporary construction orange sign, saying Universe Closed Use Rainbow in black block letters.

Some years ago, I went to the relevant San Francisco municipal office that sold "Clothing Optional Beyond This Point" signs. The story was that the signs indicating the limits of their nude beach kept getting stolen, so the City and County of SF decided to make up a bunch of them and sell them at the public works office. I thought it was a useful sign and bought one.

Similarly, I think the Albuquerque Department of Public Works should sell this one. According to Brian Arnold, whose Flickr this is on:

"For reference: Universe and Rainbow are two streets in town that are really close to each other. Universe was closed and people were being redirected to Rainbow. It's quite the amusing sign.

"I had originally written that people were being redirected to Paradise, but that's not quite accurate. Paradise is another street in the area, and I have no idea why I thought it was involved whatsoever. :) Odds are good that the photo was taken on Paseo Del Norte. The intersection of Paseo and Universe is here. (http://maps.google.com/maps…)

"I acquired this photo from a friend who got it from a friend. I don't know who the original photographer was, but was informed that my usage was authorized."


20th December 2018

11:51am: Drone closes Gatwick Airport.
Someone has shut down Gatwick Airport, Britain's second largest airport, by flying a drone around it. Airport operations have been disrupted since last night, and Gatwick is not scheduled to reopen for some hours.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Wishing everyone flying into, out of, or through the best of luck.

Live updates from the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/live/uk-england-sussex-46564814

Live updates from the London Evening Standard: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/gatwick-flights-disruption-live-updates-as-drone-sightings-cause-busy-airports-runway-to-close-a4022201.html

13th December 2018

3:20pm: MBTA fare collection meeting.
I went to the MBTA's public outreach meeting on the new fare collection system Tuesday. There were many details, some of which are being discussed on my earlier post.

One important detail is that cash will no longer be accepted on board any vehicles, either for fare payment or topping up the balance on a CharlieCard. The proposal includes a rollout of more ticket vending machines and more third-party vendors.

They offered a website for suggestions on where new machines should go. That site is: http://gisdev.massdot.state.ma.us/planning/proposedafclocations/

(The URL they gave at the meeting was actually www.mbta.com/AFC2-locations, but it redirects to the above.)

So if you want to tell the T you want a machine near you, this is a chance to say so.

Edit to add: Here is the text from the suggestion website.

"As part of the MBTA’s new Charlie fare collection system rolling out in 2020, we will be installing fare vending machines (kiosks) at some bus stops and partnering with businesses to vastly increase the locations where people can add money to their MBTA transit account. In addition to these locations you can add money online and then tap your new Charlie Card, smartphone or credit card to board. Riders won’t be able to add cash onboard buses and trains in the new system, so we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to reload their account in convenient locations.

This feedback tool allows you to give input directly to the MBTA on where you think it’s most important to have the fare vending machines or retail locations. Zoom into the map to see the locations of our current fare vending machines (yellow flags). The new system will include all of these locations, in addition to hundreds of new locations. Please select “Propose New Fare Vending Location” to add a pin for the locations you propose. You can also agree with locations already proposed by selecting them from the list and clicking “I Agree”. For more information about the project please visit our website https://www.mbta.com/afc2"

11th December 2018

10:22am: https://www.mbta.com/events/2018-12-11/afc-20-public-advisory-meeting

Edit: I had initially posted that the meeting location was not easily reachable by transit. Turns out that the routing I was given by Transit app was incorrect, and there's a stop quite near the meeting location.

(Original post: The MBTA put a public advisory meeting more than 15 minutes walk away from the nearest public transit stop (a bus stop).

Guess they'll be surprised when no one shows up by T.)

I should verify routes with an actual map, as I'm inclined to do, instead of relying on strictly on apps, as I did this time. My bad.

24th November 2018

2:12am: Have a howly Wolfenoot!
Since it is still before midnight Pacific Time, I'd like to take the chance to wish everyone a “howly Wolfenoot”.

From https://www.facebook.com/events/2133001853619644/:

"My son has invented a holiday called Wolfenoot.

It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else.

You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.

A holiday to the spirit of wolves that celebrates people who are kind to dogs? I can 100% get behind this. So we will be celebrating Wolfenoot. It's on the 23rd November if anyone else is moved to celebrate it. ;) If you do, please post pics, so he can see how his idea has spread.

If you're posting publicly about it, use #wolfenoot."

More info at https://wolfenoot.com/wolfenoot-faq/.
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