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Scripting News - 2019-10-13T17:17:29Z

- 2019-10-13T13:36:01Z
A very nice piece about the 25th anniversary of blogging from John Naughton at the Guardian.

- 2019-10-13T17:17:29Z
Pro tip for podcasters. In your RSS feed, each <item> should set the <link> element to point at the landing page for the episode. Otherwise the only way to share your podcast is with a link to the MP3 which isn't good for you or them. You can see dozens of these items in my podc account on Twitter.

- 2019-10-13T13:58:27Z
A lot of other people, including Republicans, have picked up on Elizabeth Warren's unfortunate putdown of people who think that marriage is between one woman and one man. We have to have a serious talk about this, because it reveals a side of Warren that is divisive and unacceptable. I'm sick of electing presidents who divide us into evil and not-evil. It's the sickness of our country. Honestly I don't care about marriage, anyone's marriage. I think marriage is an awful institution. It wrecked the family I grew up in. So no one has the high ground here as far as I'm concerned. And while I think Warren is the best candidate we have now, I think she needs to do some soul searching on this. If she is elected, it would be tragic if she does the same kind of BS that the Republicans do, and tries to make some Americans outcasts. After all, the question she was asked was about other people's beliefs, not their actions. And as president, her job would be to safeguard their rights, along with those of people she agrees with. As faculty at Harvard Law School I would think she would be steeped in that understanding, that it would run in her blood. The Constitution isn't just for people we agree with.

- 2019-10-13T15:53:46Z
I saw a casual comment somewhere (sorry I forgot where) that creating and editing a template in Wordpress still requires PHP skills. I wondered if this was true. Editing a site template should be a matter of editing HTML only. It can and should be easy. (Update: Apparently it is still that hard.)

- 2019-10-13T13:37:45Z
Here's the Yovanovich statement, not behind a paywall, free to download.

- 2019-10-13T13:40:12Z
You know how we worried what would happen when Trump's incompetence resulted in an international disaster. I think we've arrived at that point with the Turks and the Kurds.

- 2019-10-13T13:40:54Z
I had a dream last night I was forming a new tech startup with Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google. At one point I explained to a government clerk that Schmidt is a billionaire so it seems likely we’ll get funded. She was saying maybe we should recruit a better CEO and CTO.

Politics has a long way to go - 2019-10-13T15:07:53Z

If I put the name of a company in a tweet with a problem with their product, in 2019 there's a pretty good chance a support rep will respond and try to help. The quality of the help varies, but they do try.

But in all the years I've been blogging, or tweeting, or whatever, the only response I've gotten from a political campaign was to add me to their donor list.

It happened with Obama, Hillary Clinton. It was really humiliating because in both cases, I passionately wanted them to win, but not just the way Obama did, rather in a way that would lead to effective permanent organization of the electorate using networks. Every emailed request for money reminded me of what they thought of me. Give us money. And shut up.

So far Warren has just ignored what I've said, even though imho it's been good advice. I think today's piece, especially, is make-or-break for her campaign. To be doing so well up to this point and have the problem show up this early, is scary. I'm not sure that even if she wins, it'll be any better than Trump. That's how serious it is.

Politics is like public radio. They say they're doing it for the people but in the end what they want is donations. At some point we'll have a campaign that embraces the people, and learns how to use networks to organize us. But it hasn't happened yet.

It's Trump v the Constitution - 2019-10-13T13:43:09Z

News reports everything as Democrats vs Republicans. This makes me angry, because some things, like the president ignoring the Constitution, are not partisan issues. Yes, the Democrats are on the right side of this one, but so are honorable Republicans.

I used to call for tech boot camps for reporters, to help them get the basic facts right, and avoiding But Her Emails type tragedies. It seems they need legal boot camps too, so they can understand (and report) better on how our constitutional government works.

As an experiment this story is archived on GitHub.

- 2019-10-12T12:57:44Z
I didn’t like Elizabeth Warren's bit about marriage, even though I agree with the idea behind it, I don’t think presidents can put down people like that and not have it blow back on them, and us. Remember Obama’s roast of Trump. I felt the same way about that. It was both funny and infuriating. And the blowback has been epic.

- 2019-10-12T19:45:09Z
New header graphic, autumn in the mountains. Previous was a scene from King Kong.

Status of State and Justice - 2019-10-12T16:28:18Z

Not only can Barr and Pompeo be impeached, they can also be indicted, tried, convicted and imprisoned. It has happened before to Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell.

It's worth noting this because they know it too.

Both are doubling-down on the obstruction.

And they have a lot of power.

However the SDNY investigation of Giuliani says Barr isn't in complete control of DoJ yet.

And people from State are giving public testimony.

Running Unix apps in background - 2019-10-12T14:02:57Z

For an application I'm developing I need to run it in the background, yet easily stop and relaunch it. So this is what I do.

  1. At the command line type nohup node app.js & and press Return.
  2. You can see the output of the app by pressing Ctl-C then tail -f nohup.out. It creates this file in the directory the app was run from.
  3. To kill the node process and any other node processes it might have launched, enter killall -i node. The -i flag means that it will confirm before killing each process.

I put these notes in my blog so I can find them again, easily, and don't have to figure it out ever time. Also so people who know more than I do about this topic can tell me better ways to do this. :orange:

As an experiment, I'm mirroring this post over on GitHub.

El Camino was unnecessary - 2019-10-12T12:28:44Z

Of course I watched El Camino, the new Breaking Bad movie on Netflix. It wasn't really a movie or an episode of Breaking Bad. It was more like a few scenes from a Breaking Bad episode with brief appearances by many of the characters from the series, looking much older than they did at the end of the last episode (which aired six years ago).

It was a lot like the Deadwood movie, a series that was cut short and should have been allowed to finish. The real town of Deadwood had a climax that was never part of the TV series. The movie was basically plotless, it was a series of cameos by the stars of the original series, the actors looking much older, in some cases not recognizable, saying a few things, not to be seen again. For a show that had such gravitas, was so daring and unprecedented, it was a kind of humiliation. Yet it got good reviews. I don't understand why.

Spoiler alert -- yes there are spoilers below.

Nothing much happens in El Camino. As we know from the end of the series, the protagonist, Jesse Pinkman, survives and escapes. He hooks up with his old friends, remembers some scenes from the past, has to solve a problem, kills a few people and rides off into the sunset.

Okay it was fun to watch, but I hoped for much more. If you loved Breaking Bad as I did, you should watch it. But all this show does, imho, is set the stage for yet another pointless encore. There's a lot to be said for an edgy show like Breaking Bad leaving you at the edge without telling you what happens next.

- 2019-10-11T13:02:42Z
We're righteously upset about the Chinese government interfering with the NBA and speech in the US. But what about the NFL? They're here at home, and are punishing Colin Kaepernick, and his fans, for speech. Football is a luxury, it's optional. Would you give up a week of NFL games to support Kaepernick?

Amazon Fire Cube :-1: - 2019-10-11T14:12:48Z

I was excited to get the Fire Cube, but after a short installation and exploration, I realized it was nowhere near as good as it has to be to earn a place in my living room. I'm going to return it and instead buy a current Apple TV. I'll report on that later.

Re the Cube, it has to compete with the Roku user interface that's baked into my TCL screen. It clearly has this ambition, when it sets itself up, it remarkably figures out how to turn on and off the TV and my Onkyo receiver. I think this is a combination of better standards and testing. Impressive.

But when their desktop appears, it's a confusing mess, and in every way assumes what you want is Amazon Prime Video, even though it has Netflix and other apps. They clearly are biased. Understandable, but not functional. I come to them from a world where they don't control me, so it's a turnoff. I'm just as likely to watch something on HBO Go or Netflix as on Prime. Their desktop should be more agnostic. It's okay to put your app first in the list, but really that's as far as it should go.

I wanted to see if the Spectrum app for Fire worked better than the Roku one, but I couldn't figure out through their app store interface how to search for an app by name. That's ridiculous. They understand the importance of search in other places, but not here? I couldn't figure out which class of app a cable provider would fall under.

Then I tried the Alexa functionality. It's weird that it must have talked to the other two Alexas in my house to figure out how to connect over my wifi. I never had to enter a password. This spooked me. This Alexa works differently and it's hard of hearing! I couldn't figure out how to get it to stop without unplugging it.

I think they must have special problems with an environment where other speakers are present, but they weren't making any sound when I was trying to communicate with it. And the Alexa in the kitchen sometimes heard and responded to my queries, so it's pretty clear that having two Alexas in adjacent rooms isn't going to work.

I then went back to Roku's desktop and breathed a sigh of relief, and decided the Fire Cube sucks. I don't want it.

Blogs are little things - 2019-10-11T13:05:45Z

I've had a long-term problem with comments on Scripting News. If I have open comments then I have to moderate them. It helps to have clearly published guidelines, which I do, that eliminates most of the emotional reactions, but some still get through, and people can hold grudges for a long time. I don't like editing other people. I already do more of this kind of work than I want to. My goal is to get rid of all of it.

When I first started out I had a pretty optimal system. The posts went out via email to small groups of subscribers. You could respond, and I would see your response and so would the others in your group. Sometimes interesting discussions would take place. For some reason very little flaming. I lurked. When someone wrote a piece I thought should get on the record, I'd forward it to an email address that was monitored by a script I wrote, which would then add it to the current mail page. It wouldn't publish until I had a chance to hand-edit the text. It was work, and I remember not liking it, but there were some real classics among the mail page posts, so I did the work, for a couple of years.

I could re-implement the Mail Pages, but it's not something I want to do, and it would be harder today, given the way email worked then and now. It's gotten more complex. I also had a scriptable email app, Eurdora, so I was able to write the whole thing in Frontier which was really good at driving scriptable Mac apps.

Okay so now here we are in 2019, and I have an excellent use-case. I wrote a short piece about Medicare, asking for input, and have gotten back some wonderful responses. One in particular was beautifully written, long, detailed and obviously based on a lot of experience. As I read such an email I ache a little. "This should be on the web," I think to myself. Finally when I get to the end I respond with praise, and a request that they post it to their blog. I put it that way because 1. maybe they have a blog or 2. maybe this will get them to start one. But the most likely response is a story about how they have a blog, but haven't posted to it in a long time and they feel guilty, so presumably they don't want to go there for some reason? I don't really get it, because I know what a blog is, behind the scenes. It isn't a place. It's just a few files on a server, very small files, and a few database entries perhaps. The reason companies like Automattic and Google host blogs for free is that's how much it costs to host one a blog. It really is of no consequence.

You imagine that your blog is lonely and angry that you're not visiting, but that's purely a figment of your imagination. The blog doesn't exist in any corporeal sense. It has no thoughts or feelings. I doesn't give a shit if you live or die, because it doesn't have an ego, it doesn't care about anything.

Think of creating a blog as you would think of writing on a page in a notepad. Or scribbling on the back of an envelope and handing it to someone. It takes two minutes at most to create a blog at And from then on, you have a "place" to post emails you that are post-worthy (I will tell you if they are). Then you can send me a link and I can put it on my linkblog page, and send it to my Twitter followers, and people who read me on RSS, and in the nightly email. It might be more flow than you'd get from posting it on Medium, for example. And if I asked you to post it, that's almost a guarantee that I will circulate the link.

I have created lots of one-off blogs and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, esp if it meant we could make the world a better place, or at least more informed.

- 2019-10-10T19:05:16Z
This is what "America First" really means.

- 2019-10-10T19:06:48Z
Should we think of Twitter as part of the open web for the purpose of linking? I ask because I found that something I pointed to, and embedded in my blog, that I felt was historic, was on an account that Twitter suspended. The tweet was no longer available. I understand why Twitter needs to suspend accounts, but do they have to get rid of all the previous posts? Does Twitter care about the web? Do they want to be part of it?

- 2019-10-10T17:29:34Z
I never liked the term "pioneer" because it doesn't imply an ongoing contribution. I've settled on "founder," the term we use for people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. It's a term of greater respect, imho. I'm not finished contributing, that's why I care. 💥

- 2019-10-10T18:26:22Z
Former White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said it’s not appropriate for Trump to solicit foreign election interference, but that it’s up to the American people to decide whether he did so with Ukraine. That seems fair to me. I vote yes, he did.

- 2019-10-10T17:09:53Z
I had to do a lot of driving today and listened to two Daily podcasts back to back, which should be listened to together, imho. The first was a profile of the Republican strategist who managed the Kavanaugh confirmation and who is now leading the impeachment defense for Repubs. It was infuriating, esp the way the Times reported it. In the second podcast they followed one of the pivotal Democratic reps, from Michigan, as she met with constituents at two town halls. The hot topic was impeachment. What was so fascinating is that you can hear, quite clearly, the result of the propoganda from the subject of the first podcast that is informing enraging the anti-impeachment voters. The rep was admirable, made me proud to be an American, a contrast to the first, who made me feel there's no hope for our country.

- 2019-10-10T12:31:42Z
NPR did it again. They repeated Trump's claim that the Kurds didn't help in World War II as if it were news, but it's not true.

- 2019-10-10T12:49:15Z
I'm learning a lot about Medicare, and I'm beginning to realize that like everything that's a product of the US government, it's a corrupt ratfucking motherfucking fucker. 💩

- 2019-10-09T13:33:26Z
When the Repubs say that impeachment is just a way to undo the 2016 election, they overlook the 2018 election, which was most definitely an attempt, by the voters, to undo the mistake of 2016. The only reason the House can contemplate impeaching Trump is that there is a Democratic majority. That happened in 2018.

- 2019-10-09T18:07:23Z
Maybe old Lindsey Graham was playing a funny game, becoming Trump's little buddy, visibly, so when the time came to kick Trump under the bus he could play the Barry Goldwater role.

- 2019-10-09T14:55:16Z
I just re-read George Orwell's Animal Farm. I had read it when I was in grade school. It's worth reading again in the age of Trump, because he's using the propoganda techniques of Animal Farm.

- 2019-10-09T15:29:05Z
Tutorial for the latest protest hairstyle in Hong Kong.

- 2019-10-09T14:00:38Z
I hadn't thought about the implications of the Brooklyn Nets being owned by a co-founder of Alibaba who has to get along with the Chinese government more than most NBA owners. I wonder how KD and Kyrie will feel about that.

- 2019-10-09T14:09:32Z
If you love Succession and are all caught up, I highly recommend going back and watching season 1 again. So much of what happens and what's said went over my head the first time. And there are forward references you couldn't have caught the first time through. Watch it with captioning on, that helps too. Also it's a comedy with the skeleton of a tragedy. I found myself laughing out loud at times as if it were Monty Python. 😆

Rambling about search - 2019-10-09T14:39:57Z

I wonder if anyone has Wikipedia as their default search page. It just occurred to me, with Google searches getting more cluttered with garbage all the time, if Wikipedia might not be a better choice.

For example, here's a Google search for Brooklyn Nets, and here's the Wikipedia page. Which gets you a better set of links to topics related to the team? I guess the problem is there are no news, video or images options on Wikipedia.

I probably should just start using DuckDuckGo. It's very similar to Google, but not as insane, and they claim to not share your search habits with any other companies.

You know what would really get me to switch? Customization. If I could tell it where my blog is, so it will default to showing me what I had written about a topic at the top of the search, or offer a tab that allowed me to quickly review my own writing. I could see that changing the nature of everything I do on the web, it would also be an incentive to people to leave the silos.

I'd also like a pref that lets me ask it to always show me the Wikipedia page first. Other people might prefer a Twitter account first, or news about the topic. Google makes all these choices for you. But I'm a sentient user, I was using computers for decades before Google even existed. I know how to program, and yet, I can't use that skill on the most extensive information source ever produced by humans -- the web.

- 2019-10-08T13:03:48Z
Welcome to the 26th year of Scripting News.

- 2019-10-08T13:59:20Z
I ordered a new Amazon Fire Cube. I have a relatively old Apple TV, and was looking to upgrade because of a problem I'm having with the Roku version of the Spectrum app. I'm 99% sure the problem is with Spectrum, whose support people point the finger at Roku, which I think is BS. I considered buying a new Apple TV, but I've been using Alexa more and more, and I find I miss it on my TV-watching system in the living room. This tells you something about how Amazon is moving to dominate TV. People think Trump is the new boss, but I'm pretty sure it's Bezos. Imagine if they bought Roku, which is the OS of my TCL television. Imagine if the OS goes down another level and takes Spectrum out of the software-development business (and I assume Verizon et al) which would be a blessing. They really don't do this very well. The wild card, the one company that could redefine news is Twitter, as I wrote yesterday. I wonder if anyone in the future-of-news world has comments?

- 2019-10-08T20:40:28Z
A long thread on Hacker News about yesterday's anniversary. One commenter said "I feel bad for Dave. He was so early to the table on so many occasions yet he was left behind and never really made it big monetarily. He is the definition of missing the boat." I replied "Please don't feel bad. I was never trying to make a lot of money from the web. I had lots of opportunities to sell out. I did that once, in the 80s, and that has funded my creative work ever since. Money isn't that useful, I learned, pretty early-on. Here's a piece I wrote about that recently." I'd add that I was disappointed that when the VCs started RSS companies and then podcast companies, they did it with other people, with imho predictably bad results. That was disappointing, but what the hell, no one made any money from those things, and I get to enjoy the podcasts and feeds as much as anyone. And for that I'm grateful. I also wish people like Zuckerberg cared more about the ecosystem, but he and I look at the world differently.

- 2019-10-08T14:06:51Z
I started Scripting News in 1994, which I'm sure if you read this blog, you now know and wish I'd stop mentioning. Heh. One more time. I was 39 years old then, an age that to me now seems impossibly young, but to me at the time, felt really really old. I'm 25 years older now, 64, and in the US a lot of shit happens at 65, most important to me, Medicare. Apparently at that point, the cost of my health insurance will go down dramatically, and the coverage will go up dramatically. Not that I feel I'm wanting any medical care now that I can't get, and I can certainly afford the payments. Anyway this an awkard moment because I have no idea what the fuck Medicare actually is. I go to the websites and they tell me how much I have to learn, but they don't teach it. I am highly motivated to learn, but I'd love to have a user interface that was like GEICO's website for buying auto insurance, or the Digital Ocean page for sizing your applet. I'd like to just check off some boxes, and see the numbers change. If I want to spend $500 per month I could have this coverage, or that, or something else. It seems enough people go through this that it's worth a little investment?

- 2019-10-08T13:29:55Z
Fascinating video overlays a fastball and curveball. You can clearly see why it's so hard to hit a major league pitch.

- 2019-10-08T13:53:09Z
If I ever get it together to write a book, I think this piece will be the preface. Maybe its title will be the title of the book?

Feed-less podcast-like things - 2019-10-08T20:38:09Z

We need a new name for podcast-like things that have no feeds, are locked behind a paywall, can't be archived, cited or shared, and don't create any kind of record.

Something like "Dead-end-cast."

Or "Business-model-cast."

Or "VC-friendsly-cast."

- 2019-10-07T13:17:54Z
I started blogging 25 years ago today. I write every day and publish it myself. Today I've done the same. And hopefully encouraged more people to speak for themselves.

- 2019-10-07T15:46:07Z
Here's the countdown page where we keep track of how long it has been since this blog was started. If you keep this page open you can say you were here at the moment it had been running for 25 years! If you think it's just a number (and there's good reason to believe that) you can continue with your life. 🍎

- 2019-10-07T21:02:11Z
I wasn't paying attention when the clock struck 25 years.

- 2019-10-07T21:24:01Z
2015: Why I've never run ads on Scripting News.

- 2019-10-07T17:47:41Z
Here's a brief editorial on Trump as president. I brought out the big font, btw. Hope that's okay.

- 2019-10-07T17:49:45Z
On the Brian Lehrer Show this morning the question came up of why Trump released the "transcript" of his talk with the Ukranian president. I have a theory about that which I tweeted to the show. It goes like this. Trump approved of its release without reading the transcript, or listening to his advisors. They wanted it released because it prevents Trump from throwing them under the bus. It's the new reality of a president who has the attention span of a gnat. Sometimes that works against him more than it works against us.

- 2019-10-07T17:56:46Z
Theory why Repubs don't stand up to Trump. After the 2016 election, the Russian active measures campaign turned to building kompromat on every Republican member of Congress. It didn't take long to get each one of them in a position where they had to listen to Russia and Trump. This is one of those Occam's News things. Like black holes in space, you can't see them, but you can infer their presence by the way bodies behave around them

- 2019-10-07T16:56:16Z
Repubs want no politics when it suits them, but will make Supreme Court nominations, tax cuts, debt-limit lunacy, war, immigration, Obama's birth certificate, ie anything they want, political.

Dear Jack, installment 2 - 2019-10-07T16:56:41Z

Jack Dorsey subscribes to the email version of this blog, so I've started writing directly to him in an open format. I'd do the same for the CEOs of any other tech firm whose products I use. Free consulting. :-)

Anyway, I find myself hooking into videos on Twitter more and more. Like this ridiculous annoying exasperating interview with a Bush-era Republican, shilling for Trump while trying to sound reasonable.

More and more, news orgs are posting short bits of video to Twitter. It's growing, and that's imho good. Further, Twitter has a good API and it's relatively stable and liberal. I've thought for a long time that their API is their big advantage. As a developer I'd like to see them do more with it.

Twitter is a new kind of TV news looking for the right user interface. I don't think Moments is the answer. I think Checkbox News is.

Here's the idea of Checkbox News in an image.

I did this around the time Boris Yeltsin died and the Virginia Tech massacre. I want to watch the news while I work, or tweet while I watch the news, basically news isn't the only thing I'm doing. I want a bit of control over what flows through the video window. I got it, Yeltsin died. All the reports are starting to sound the same, so I uncheck it. No more news of Yeltsin.

As media has progressed, we've learned that sometimes it's best to turn things on, and in other contexts that's too much work, I want others to do it for me, and then I need the ability to turn things off. TV news is most definitely in the latter category.

With the flow that Twitter already has, if trusted news sources (a super important concept that should also be developed, not by Twitter) would add keywords to their video uploads, we could have Checkbox News running pretty quickly, maybe as early as next year.

Introducing myself to Woodstock - 2019-10-07T16:11:06Z

I just posted this to the private Woodstockers Say Anything group on Facebook. I've been living here since March, but mostly have been posting pictures and questions about what's going on here. This is the first time I've talked about what I do. I thought this was a good day to do it.

I haven't really introduced myself to the Woodstock group, today is a good day to do that.

I am a software developer and one of the very first bloggers, starting back in 1994, on October 7.

25 years ago today.

These days I'm writing at my house in Woodstock.

I am lucky that the work I do can be done anywhere there's a net connection. So I've moved around quite a bit in the last 25 years. I started writing on the web in Silicon Valley in 1994. In 2003 I moved to Cambridge, MA, then tried Seattle and the beach in northeast Florida (I had family there). I spent a few years in Berkeley, and then when my father died in 2009, I moved back to NYC (where I was born and raised) to be near my rapidly shrinking family. When my mom passed away in 2018, I started looking for the next place, and this is where I landed.

I've always felt that my software development was an artistic endeavor. My materials are unusual, they're almost all virtual. But I've built quite a castle out of all that imagination. :-)

The next software product I ship will come from Woodstock. And I'm celebrating 25 years of blogging right here in the woods, with the sound of rain and the smell of nature all around me.

One of my mottos of blogging is this --

Still diggin! ;-)

PS: My blog is at

- 2019-10-06T13:44:38Z
How to win with a troll, 2016: "Imagine if he never got any self-generated press ever again? That would be the end of Trump. You can report on polls. You can report on FBI investigations of him. Or his trial with Trump U. Or that HRC calls for him not to get security briefings, all that's fair. But you can't report any Trump-generated news. If it came from him, it's trolling. If it's news about him that he didn't control, it's fair game." That's why the whistleblowers, witnesses and congressional committees are helping us win the battle with Trump. For the first time in a long time, Trump has lost control. We're in new territory.

- 2019-10-06T14:57:28Z
Ginger Baker, drummer for Cream, one of rock's seminal bands, died at 80. Here's one of their hits, Sunshine of Your Love.


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