GoToMeeting fail

Things I am thank­ful for: con­fer­ence calls with slideshows. Because I love hav­ing to infect my com­put­er with your shit­ty cor­po­rate soft­ware that can’t even upgrade itself like it’s 2014.

December 19, 2014 December 20, 2014 rants by Scott No Comments

I saw some dis­turb­ing head­lines in the tech news today:

“Ves­syl, a smart cup designed by Yves Behar, is designed to mea­sure and track any drink poured into it in real-time.”

“This Amaz­ing New ‘Smart Cup’ Can Tell What Kind Of Drink Is Inside It”

“Ever wished you could keep track of what you’re con­sum­ing with­out keep­ing a detailed list? Meet Ves­syl, a cup that can cal­cu­late detailed infor­ma­tion about what you’re drink­ing.”

Some­one please tell me this is just a joke.

June 13, 2014 June 13, 2014 rants by Scott No Comments

I’m tired of hear­ing about “smart homes.” Tech­nol­o­gists pre­sume that the forth­com­ing wave of gad­gets will final­ly solve all my prob­lems sim­ply by con­nect­ing every­thing. I like net­works as much as the next nerd, but let’s be hon­est for a minute.

The prob­lem with smart home tech­nol­o­gy as it is envi­sioned today is that it exists to solve prob­lems that nor­mal peo­ple shouldn’t have in the first place. Exam­ples:

  • “My house is so damn big that the liv­ing room light switch is 1/8 mile away. How can I turn off the lights with­out stand­ing up and walk­ing?”
  • “My home the­ater has 8 remote con­trols and a bewil­der­ing array of knobs. How do I turn down the vol­ume?”
  • “How can I water the plants with­out going out­side?”
  • “How can I check my back hall­way smoke detec­tor bat­tery from an Inter­net café in Por­tu­gal?”
  • “How can I final­ly use this $500 phone to unlock my door so I don’t have to use a $5 key instead?”

You know what makes a smart home? A mod­est home with stuff that works for you, and not too much of it.

June 8, 2014 June 8, 2014 rants by Scott No Comments

I don’t know who R. Brock Olson is, but his recent blog post, “We are not #Boston­Strong,” is pret­ty well aligned with my feel­ings on the marathon sit­u­a­tion.

His point about the ease of treat­ing vio­lence with an “us vs. them” men­tal­i­ty is pret­ty salient. He doesn’t get into it, but the fact that the attack was bombs, rather than for exam­ple gun vio­lence, means it was far too easy to label the per­pe­tra­tors as “ter­ror­ists” rather than just “crim­i­nals” or even “men­tal­ly unstable”–and for most peo­ple that changes the whole sto­ry.

Have you read an account of the 2013 marathon in which the bomb­ings were just the work of deranged local ass­hole kids with bags of New Hamp­shire fire­works and nails? Of course not. The offi­cial nar­ra­tive says that it was a high­ly orga­nized attack against our com­mu­ni­ty. It was a sophis­ti­cat­ed ene­my. That’s why we deployed hun­dreds of para­mil­i­tary defense forces to guard us in the after­math. That’s why we installed the cam­eras. That’s why we can’t enjoy our Esplanade on July 4 any­more. That’s why we will turn the 2014 marathon into a show­case of point­less secu­ri­ty and a giant made-for-TV pity par­ty.

(But, you ask, how do I real­ly feel?)

April 17, 2014 April 17, 2014 rants by Scott No Comments

This whole arti­cle is unset­tling: Res­i­dents Suing to Stop ‘Fortresslike’ Plan for World Trade Cen­ter.

Sum­ma­ry: A small group of New York­ers are suing the NYPD in what will prob­a­bly be a vain attempt to keep them from turn­ing the streets near their new World Trade Cen­ter into a mil­i­ta­rized ring of secu­ri­ty check­points and bar­ri­ers. The report indi­cates that cyclists may even be required to dis­mount just to pass through.

Boston is get­ting a dose of secu­ri­ty fever these days, includ­ing the sud­den and rapid pro­lif­er­a­tion of state-oper­at­ed video cam­eras on streets and in parks–stuff I strong­ly dis­ap­prove of. But sto­ries like this one make me glad I don’t live in New York.

November 13, 2013 November 13, 2013 rants by Scott No Comments

Jaguar, Pan­ther, Tiger, Leop­ard, Snow Leop­ard, Lion, Moun­tain Lion, Mav­er­icks? Eclair, Froyo, Gin­ger­bread, Hon­ey­comb, Ice Cream Sand­wich, Jel­ly Bean, Kit Kat?

A polite request: can we please agree to refer to soft­ware ver­sions by num­ber and not by code name? Seri­ous­ly, who can remem­ber these ran­dom sequences? Code names are for devel­op­ers.

November 7, 2013 November 7, 2013 rants by Scott 4 Comments

If you thought Boston would respond to the April bomb­ings in a sen­si­ble, mea­sured way–did you hear they caught the guys?–think again.

The Esplanade is done up like a prison yard this morn­ing. There are mul­ti­ple sur­veil­lance cam­eras attached to near­ly every light­post east of Mass Ave. Tree branch­es low­er than 15 feet from the ground have been sawn off at the trunks. A bomb squad appa­ra­tus and rows of mat­te-black police trucks are lined up behind the Hatch shell. Police and FBI agents with bul­let­proof vests and guns in thigh hol­sters are pac­ing the paths. State troop­ers were clos­ing off the foot­paths with met­al gates just as I fin­ished my morn­ing run.

There are large signs every­where out­lin­ing PROHIBITED ITEMS and what is CLOSED and where RE-ENTRY WITHOUT CREDENTIALS IS PROHIBITED. And none to wel­come peo­ple, or to say “have fun!”

It is a choice to live this way. It’s amaz­ing that so many peo­ple respond with atti­tudes like, “I guess we have to?”

Wel­come to the new Boston.

July 3, 2013 July 3, 2013 rants by Scott No Comments

Dear phar­ma­cies,

You have way too many prod­ucts on the shelf. It’s very con­fus­ing. Here’s how I’d fix it:

  1. Elim­i­nate every­thing with phenyle­phrine as the active ingre­di­ent. This shit doesn’t do any­thing. Buy­ing pseu­doephedrine today is about as easy as get­ting an abor­tion in Mis­sis­sip­pi, but at least it works!
  2. Don’t allow dif­fer­ent for­mu­la­tions of one brand to employ dif­fer­ent active ingre­di­ents. Imag­ine if Advil was some­times made of aspirin! Some­how this is accept­able for cold med­i­cine.
  3. Stop sell­ing so many 3- and 4-drug com­bos with ambigu­ous dif­fer­ences. For those peo­ple who get all 12 list­ed symp­toms simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, maybe these are a con­ve­nience. I’d pre­fer to take a decon­ges­tant when I’m con­gest­ed. I’ll take a cough sup­pres­sant if I have a cough. Thanks.
  4. Seri­ous­ly, why does every­thing have aceta­minophen in it? If peo­ple have pain, let them take a painkiller. Pret­ty soon, mul­ti-vit­a­mins and sham­poo are going to come with 1000 mg of aceta­minophen. I’d rather keep my liv­er.

By my esti­ma­tion, these changes would leave about 5 prod­ucts on the shelf. Much bet­ter.

November 26, 2012 November 26, 2012 rants by Scott 3 Comments