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Scripting News - 2018-12-15T16:56:28Z

- 2018-12-15T16:56:28Z
I was looking through an old backup disk and came across a few audio clips from movies I had recorded. I thought maybe it'd be fun to make them podcasts. So here's the first, Neo meets the Oracle in The Matrix. My favorite line is when the Oracle says "I can see why she likes you," and what follows. Sorry the volume is a bit low.

- 2018-12-15T16:13:11Z
Okay I'm going to reveal a little about the new feature. You can get a glimpse of the output by watching #scriptingnews on Twitter. And an upfront caveat, I don't know the final configuration of this feature. I'm just trying ideas out right now. You may see features here that are never released.

- 2018-12-15T14:33:47Z
A new feature is in the works for Scripting News readers. I'm already using it, smoothing off rough edges, thinking about how I want to present it. As far as I know it's a feature that has not been part of a blog yet.

- 2018-12-15T14:33:25Z
Podcasts do keep getting better.

Wondering about journalists - 2018-12-14T16:13:51Z

I wonder if any journalists out there agree it's worth a shot to train a million people in basic journalism in hope that:

  1. They will become better news users. The theory that people who understand how news is created become better news users is analogous to thinking that people who know how to ski get more out of watching ski races.
  2. Some of them will become volunteer news writers, filling in gaps created by the retreating journalism industry.

I made a similar proposal to the Dukakis campaign in 1988. I suggested a national email policy, to introduce email to students at all levels. Email had made me a much better writer. I reasoned it would do the same for young Americans.

Update: Rosental Alves, a professor at the University of Texas reports that the Knight Center has been teaching free courses for journalists, but open to anyone. In 6 years they have reached 164K people from 200 countries, according to Alves.

- 2018-12-13T16:12:45Z
iOS 12 problem. On a phone call, after a few minutes the volume drops until I can't hear the other party. When I call back the volume goes back to normal. Happens with several numbers, so it's on my end not theirs. New iPhone XS. Any help appreciated.

- 2018-12-13T12:58:59Z
Yesterday I asked the braintrust of this blog to help me understand Kubernetes. Turns out I did not understand it. You all are the smartest most generous people I know. Thanks! πŸ’₯

- 2018-12-13T13:01:00Z
Baratunde says that a movement is a β€œgroup of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.” That's a good definition. When I think of a movement I think of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, or the anti-war movement that protested the Vietnam war. I do not think The Correspondent which is a for-profit business deserves to use that term. I certainly do not like them saying that I am a member of such a "movement." As I said in my writeup, "the only movement I would be part of is one that doesn't distinguish between reporters and members, that has a level playing field. I think that's the only way journalism can scale to meet our needs and avoid the kinds of disasters journalism has led us to."

- 2018-12-12T21:24:29Z
What a thrill to see NakedJen in the Likes here. πŸ’₯

- 2018-12-12T17:47:02Z
I just got an email from @baratunde about The Correspondent once again saying I'm part of a movement. No. They haven't done anything to justify that. They are a for-profit company. They make it sound like a charity. Tone it down.

- 2018-12-12T20:50:10Z
Response from Baratunde on Twitter.

- 2018-12-12T17:58:02Z
The tech industry used to have rollouts like the one The Correspondent is doing. A new company wants to enter a market with a few well-known products. So they claim, on rollout, to have some new feature, usually hard to explain or obscured, that made their product revolutionary. The old products are old. Legacy. Roadkill. Since the press didn't care much for facts, and wanted to report on wars, they would run with the hype. A few years later the new technology is known not to be revolutionary. And the new company either gained entry or didn't. The incumbent products are still there. An example was "object oriented" in the early 90s. We now fully grok what it is, it's another way of factoring. Useful for sure, sometimes. But not game-changing.

- 2018-12-12T17:14:49Z
So if Michael Cohen committed crimes that result in a 3 year sentence, I guess Trump should go to jail for 3 years too.

- 2018-12-12T16:23:11Z
Trump's hands are truly offensive. I hate the way he puts his hand in the face of people to hold the floor so he can repeat the same horseshit over and over. You could see it as he tried to talk over Nancy Pelosi. He did it with Hillary Clinton. He does it when an interview isn't going the way he likes. It's nasty. Second point. When he threatens a revolt if he's impeached, that itself is cause to be removed from office. The president swears an oath to uphold the Constitution. Impeachment and removal are in the Constitution. Really it has to be the most impeachable offense there is.

- 2018-12-12T15:18:40Z
Braintrust query: I keep reading about Kubernetes and how it's taking over the world, but every piece also says it's very complicated. Why? Heroku set the initial prior art in this area. It's easy to get started with. Here we are many years later, it seems we are going the wrong way. Or am I missing the point. Isn't Kubernetes trying to solve the same problem as Heroku? In any case an open source user-deployable Heroku would be very welcome. Update: Digital Ocean introduced a simplified Kubernetes service yesterday. I had no idea. Also, Dokku was recommended.

- 2018-12-12T14:44:04Z
I'm making a purchase that requires a credit check, and in the process, the lender said I needed to unfreeze my records at the three credit rating services. At first I didn't remember freezing them, but then on a bit of investigation I recalled that when Experian had their breach they offered to do the freeze and also monitor my credit for free. So now I had to figure out how to unfreeze the accounts. The bank gave me phone numbers. But all they can do is send you a credit report. Some are pretty humiliating about it. After much navigation, searching and puzzling I figured out how to turn off two of the three, but Experian, in trying to validate me, asked "security questions" that I answered correctly but they rejected. In the process I learned that apparently I had taken out an auto loan in 2017, a year that I didn't even own a car and most certainly didn't purchase one. So now I have another problem. But I guess it's their system that's fucked up, because if someone used my credit to buy a car, apparently they are making the payments, so wtf. This system is so broken, it's amazing we haven't yet had a total meltdown. Or maybe we have and we're living in its aftermath.

- 2018-12-12T14:35:43Z
I noted early this morning tweets from Phil Windley and Chris Allen about a conference in Switzerland where they have an easy way of explaining a new "self-sovereign" identity system. At some point I want to ask the question about how we can adapt the code we have working with Twitter as an identity system with this new system. It's important that for application developers it be as easy or easier than the currently available systems.

- 2018-12-11T22:44:35Z
President Covfefe hits the wall.

Followup on The Correspondent - 2018-12-11T13:11:51Z

I asked a bunch of questions about The Correspondent yesterday and got answers from the anonymous account of the company, and from one of the founders, Ernst Pfauth, on Twitter. He posted a link to a Medium piece about how their rolodex feature works. Below are the questions and answers.

  • Is the rolodex up and running yet?
    • Yes.
  • Is it a benefit of membership?
    • Yes
  • Do you have to pay to be in the rolodex?
    • You have to be a member to be in there. But when we invite people to join a discussion, we give them a one month membership.
  • What if a "reader" gets an idea for a story?
    • All our correspondent's email addresses are visible on the site.
  • Can readers enlist the expertise of other members?
    • Not Yet. We really want to introduce this asap.
  • Is it a non-profit?
    • No. But it is limited-profit. [What this means isn't clear. They have said it means that the partners will not draw out more than 5 percent of the revenue for themselves, putting all the remaining profit back into the company. At least one commenter in the thread thinks this is not straight.]
  • Will you have a public editor? If so, will be it be a member of the public or a journalist?
    • As far as I can see this one was not answered.

Since being in the rolodex requires membership, I signed up, giving $25. The next page after signing up offered ways to give more money or help them promote membership. They really sell hard. There was a huge iconic image of Jay Rosen on the page. I found this very disturbing. I actually edited the DOM tree to make his image invisible. Then I gave them the money.

I asked a bunch of other questions, trying to understand where their reporters will come from and how they will assure that these reporters care about members more than most American reporters. I got a vague answer about that, from which I concluded their reporters will be like every other reporter, and the idea that they will be engaged with readers is either hype or snake oil, or good intentions, but they don't have any magic that turns reporters into community-minded people.

I am not part of their "movement," even though they accuse me of that in all their communication. I don't like this company. I like them less than the typical journalistic venture that doesn't pretend to give a shit about readers, because they're using our good nature, and desire to believe in something to get money out of us. The limited role of members is, to me, unacceptable. We certainly don't get a chance to participate at the same level as the paid journalists. Consider the answer to the question as to whether members can start new investigations -- you can pitch an idea to a reporter via email. That is a terrible answer.

The only movement I would be part of is one that doesn't distinguish between reporters and members, that has a level playing field. I think that's the only way journalism can scale to meet our needs and avoid the kinds of disasters journalism has led us to.

Since the rolodex is online, I thought I should try to find it, and enter my information. I tried a search, but it led me to the home page, and a pitch to give money. I went to their FAQ page and searched for the word "rolodex" -- there were no matches. I looked for a Members link on their website, if it was there I didn't see it. The rolodex may be online, but apparently it's not available to members yet.

  • Update: The rolodex exists in Dutch but hasn't been localized yet.

Observation: The rolodex is a good idea, but why shouldn't there be a global index available to all reporters and sources, not just those who give money to Pfauf and company? Why would I want to limit my usefulness to just their reporters?

Net-net: They're doing a great job of raising money. They promise to start a very different journalistic enterprise. When I asked Scripting News readers in the Netherlands what they thought of their Dutch effort there was a generally positive response. That's where we are now.

PS: I forgot to ask if there will be RSS feeds.

PPS: I also forgot to ask if there's a paywall.

- 2018-12-10T17:01:46Z
I had a short podcast here earlier, but decided to take it down. I didn't like how it told the story. Not focused enough. Sorry. Will try again. πŸ’₯

- 2018-12-10T14:58:56Z
Another academic journalist who I respect endorsed The Correspondent this morning, urging others to contribute money to the cause. I don't understand why. I can see studying them, learning from their mistakes, which they are sure to make, but an up front unconditional endorsement? Maybe they know a lot more than the rest of us? I asked a bunch of questions of TheC. To their credit they are trying to answer them. Still I haven't seen any reporting on this effort that isn't a rewrite of their press release. There are serious questions to ask about this. Who else is asking them?

- 2018-12-10T15:19:37Z
Civil was a recent example of an effort to launch a new model for journalism that received a lot of hype and unconditional endorsements. But the journalists who were supposed to be paid say they aren't being paid. And the investors who were hoping to support journalism and were motivated by greed (investor greed is perfectly appropriate) aren't happy either. Tech is never a panacea. If people are hyping a technology as one, they're selling snake oil, and you should keep your hand on your wallet.

- 2018-12-10T15:03:21Z
As more journalism companies launch tech products, they're starting to behave more like tech companies, and that's not good. The transparency is gone. If you're creating a silo, you have an obligation to say so, esp if your product is primarily journalism. I'm not talking about The Correspondent here, it's too early to say how much lock-in there is in their product. But all of them have the same basic defect imho. The paid professionals are over here and the members of the community are over there. There's a clear line of separation. I understand why this is in the interest of the reporters, but I strongly believe it is against the interest of news. And if the mission of a news org isn't news, what is it?

- 2018-12-10T15:09:18Z
I see the danger we're in, politically and physically (climate change) are a result of the corruption of our news system. Really nothing short of corruption. They see fascism as a good business model. Trump is great click-bait. Some of them even have the honesty to say so directly. So if we're going to dig out of the mess, we're going to have to take control of the news. Not simply be bystanders. And any new journalism venture that isn't structured around that idea is not only not the answer, it's in the way of us formulating the answer. That's why I am not an enthusiastic supporter of The Correspondent. If their intentions are good, and I see no reason to assume they're not, they are not moving fast enough to embrace the change we need to happen merely to survive. Good ideas are not what's needed. Change is what's needed. Radical change.

- 2018-12-10T00:16:38Z
Just got home. Amazing connections on arriving. New concourse at Penn Station, very confusing. Followed one of the paths, was hoping to get on the 1 train uptown, but the concourse took me right to the platform for the A train. WTF. So I went upstairs, and as I was reaching the platform an uptown A pulls in. I get on. A seat is waiting for me. I get off the train, walk to my building and an elevator opens, I get in and it takes me right up to my apartment. From the Acela to my living room, about 10 minutes. Couldn't possibly have happened any faster. Sometimes, rarely, NYC "just works" as we say in the software biz.

- 2018-12-09T14:18:27Z
I saw Can You Ever Forgive Me? last night. It was as reviewed, excellent. Melissa McCarthy is a phenomenal actress, you get total suspension of disbelief, except for a few instants scattered throughout where they remind you she is one of the best comics of our day. The theme is self-knowledge. Running away from yourself until you can't, and that's when life begins. Must-see.

- 2018-12-07T18:28:25Z
Following up on yesterday's project. I now have a new app running on each of my servers. Every minute, they find out how much space is free on the system disk, and the result is written to a file on S3. There's a file for each server. A central app, serverMonitor, reads those files and stores the data in a file it generates that's then displayed by a JS app running in the browser. The net result, now I see an up to date report on disk space on all my servers any time I want. So the problem we had with LO2 earlier this week, hopefully should not happen again. In the process I found out that people are using features I had basically forgotten were in the product. Yikes. πŸ’₯

- 2018-12-07T14:21:48Z
Chris Beard at Mozilla wrote a piece that I totally agree with about the problem of Google dominance of the open web. I could have written that piece myself. In fact in a way I did. But Mozilla hasn't listened any better than Google. Maybe if we want to keep the thread of a free web alive, we should listen better, and help each other. That was the original spirit of the web, not the dominance of big companies who don't feel obligated to listen to and work with individuals. To me, Mozilla looks as big as Google looks to them.

- 2018-12-07T15:04:45Z
I think this is the problem everywhere you look, in politics, journalism, tech, education, business -- organizations dominating individuals. That's why AOC is so refreshing. One of us crashed the party. We hope that opens to door for more party-crashing. That, btw, was the great thing about the web when it came along. The tech industry was just as mired in bigco dominance as it is today. But the web paid no respect to their dominance. In come the people. I remember, I was there. I took advantage of the new opportunities.

- 2018-12-07T15:05:29Z
BTW, one of the reasons I find it so easy to remember AOC's initials because it is also the name of a nice French restaurant I like to go to in the West Village.

- 2018-12-07T02:32:19Z
In the great spaces vs tabs debate, as a programmer for over 40 years, I use neither. I program in an outliner, a kind of editor that understands structure. The display of the structure is something the editor does for me. It doesn't use spaces or tabs.

- 2018-12-06T15:17:58Z
You know how Obama says "Don't boo, vote!" Now with what the Repubs are doing in Michigan and Wisconsin, I guess that needs updating. What do we have to do? This requires a new think.

- 2018-12-06T14:43:27Z
People are so critical about how Facebook makes them feel. But that's just one part of it. If you work in a place by yourself, having FB or Twitter around is like having a water cooler to go take a break at. You reach a stopping point, you want to clear your head, so you go do something chatty for a bit. They work. If they didn't exist you'd have to invent them (which of course we did).

- 2018-12-06T14:46:04Z
BTW, back in the old days we'd need a break (using a BBS or CompuServe, then and later AppleLink) because compilations took so long. It could be as much as ten minutes. Then builds got fast, then instantaneous. And of course now we have Dropbox which is sometimes as slow at syncing servers as the old compilers were at building an executable. Same as it ever was.

- 2018-12-06T13:39:57Z
Today I'm going to build a Node app that finds out how much space is available on the system disk and writes the result to a location on S3. This will allow my serverMonitor app to periodically read those files and present them in a tabular form. I have to have an easy way to see if one of my servers has run out of space. Not sure exactly how I'm going to approach it. Update: Here's the code. It only works on Unix. I send a command to the shell asking it to run the DF command, get the result, and write the stats to S3. serverMonitor has been updated to look for the files for the server, and it shows me a table with the percentage free space. Problem solved.

Server outage report - 2018-12-05T18:40:16Z

1:42PM Eastern: I've received several notes from users of LO2 that the app isn't responding. I looked into it and found that the server it's running on has a full disk. Log files overflowing. Still haven't got a systematic way to deal with that. I just removed all the old log files and now the server has a lot of free space. It'll take a few minutes for everything to come back online, hopefully. Will report here.

2:45PM: I think I have the server put back together after the outage. If you have any trouble running LO2 please report it here. If you can, open the JavaScript console and look for error messages in red and include what you see.

- 2018-12-04T18:06:01Z
I hear good things about SRWare Iron.

- 2018-12-04T17:52:02Z
It's interesting to me, as an observer, to see Automattic go through the kinds of pains we went through years ago when releasing major versions of Frontier. It happened in 1998 when we released the first version that ran on Windows in addition to the Mac. And again when we shipped Radio UserLand with integrated blogging and RSS. These should have been times of celebration, and in earlier efforts before we did all our work on the net, they would have. I am impressed with the way the users express their concerns, because (I'm guessing) they have businesses with customers who are going to be confused. And the angst is probably amplified because the leader of the WordPress community is so accessible. That was the conclusion I came to about the trouble we got for shipping. There's always a reaction among users and developers on new platform releases. Imagine if Steve Jobs had been as accessible as Matt Mullenweg when Apple shipped a version of Mac OS that breaks apps. But he wasn't. In general the leaders of these efforts are insulated through layers and layers. It takes guts for Matt to put himself out there. And at the same time, the concerns of his users are legit.

- 2018-12-04T17:31:42Z
I'm spending the day in Woodstock, NY today. I spent a lot of time in the area when I was young. It's cold, but lovely.

- 2018-12-04T00:11:41Z
Unique knife holder/art. πŸ’₯

- 2018-12-03T03:15:34Z
They were playing Dead music in the local Whole Foods today.

- 2018-12-03T03:15:59Z
Netflix should link to the Metacritic page for a show from the show. One click to find out what the reviewers think. Also, Metacritic should have an API that returns the aggregate score for a title.

- 2018-12-03T03:22:35Z
Spend $100 million teaching 100K people the basics of journalism.

- 2018-12-03T03:42:36Z
This link will take you to the JSON version of the posts for today once the nightly backup is done at 12PM Eastern.

- 2018-12-02T18:33:57Z
Reminder to self. I should invest time in keeping Bingeworthy for TV up to date. I'm stuck now looking for something to binge on an upcoming trip. Coming up blank. Might re-watch something I loved.

- 2018-12-02T16:49:37Z
In Michigan and Wisconsin, Republican legislatures are voting to disempower the newly elected governors and attorney generals, a repeat of a trick the NC legislature played in 2016. The Repubs are playing tricks to disempower the people of their states who voted for a change of government. They may succeed but the light should shine brightly on them, and people should not be allowed to forget. This is a party you can't elect without them turning on you. They truly are enemies of the people.

- 2018-12-02T16:58:22Z
Amidst all the glowing eulogies of Bush41, and he deserves a lot of praise, remember his campaign started the era of deplorable Republican politics. His presidential biography must include that legacy too.

- 2018-12-02T05:18:51Z
Week 2. Now at Trump Tower, more self-deprecating jokes, disowns his children, has Al Franken and Doris Kearns Goodwin over for dinner, takes off his fat-suit. "Glad to finally be the real me," he says. Goes out ice skating with son Barron at the Trump rink in Central Park.

New stuff to Like - 2018-12-02T15:40:05Z

Changes to Likes

  1. A new home page to tie all this stuff together and a new domain,
  2. The first demo app is nice, but it was complex. We needed a Hello World app, so now there is one. Source provided, of course.
  3. Now that there are two example apps, the repository needed a new organization. There's now an examples folder at the top level, and the JavaScript API is in its own folder. Code to include it must change as well. This is exemplified in the examples.
  4. New options for the JavaScript API: 1. You can omit the word "likes," as we do on Scripting News, and 2. Have the Like bits appended instead of prepended. Check out code in the Hello World app to see how they're set.
  5. Various CSS edits that allow the environment defaults to rule the rendering of Likes as opposed to having the values hard-coded in the CSS for likes.

There were breaking changes in this release. if you've already deployed, sorry. I haven't heard from anyone who has. If you're depending on this toolkit, great. (No sarcasm.) Please provide feedback on the changes and make suggestions or just say hi.

- 2018-12-02T02:41:14Z
Lots of small changes to the Likes browser API and a new Hello World demo app. More on this tomorrow. Also bought a nice domain for this project. πŸš€


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