→ Stop hating everything new

David Chartier, writing for Finer Things in Tech:

But frankly I’m sick of it. Why was the old new stuff any better or more amazing than the new new stuff? I can’t find a legitimate reason for it. Snapchat isn’t terrible and you aren’t old. There are a thousand guides out there to explain how Snapchat works. It won’t kill you to look one up. I’ve seen all ages of people have to teach each other. You’re not inherent old, and no I don’t care what your age is.

Know what makes you old? Getting so insistently stuck in your ways that you shit on everything new just because it might not make immediate sense to you, or it might require effort or a change of habit.

Computers were originally dubbed a fad. So was the internet. Get some fucking perspective and join us. This stuff is fun and amazing and the world is still changing for the better. Otherwise get out of the way.

Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

→ Do not buy or keep a Vizio TV

Federal Trade Commission:

Starting in 2014, Vizio made TVs that automatically tracked what consumers were watching and transmitted that data back to its servers. Vizio even retrofitted older models by installing its tracking software remotely. All of this, the FTC and AG allege, was done without clearly telling consumers or getting their consent.

What did Vizio know about what was going on in the privacy of consumers’ homes? On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content. What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.

Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and others. And let’s be clear: We’re not talking about summary information about national viewing trends. According to the complaint, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers’ IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household. Vizio’s contracts with third parties prohibited the re-identification of consumers and households by name, but allowed a host of other personal details – for example, sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership. And Vizio permitted these companies to track and target its consumers across devices.

And here I thought it was bad enough that ultrasonic ad tracking was a thing.

→ On hiding vs encapsulating complexity

John Gruber discussing Twitter’s experimental reply interface.

The fundamental problem with most designers of complex systems intended for mass market use is that they decide to hide complexity. They won’t admit it — they’ll deny it even — but it’s because they’re disdainful of their users. They think their users are stupid, so they need to present them with a design for stupid people. If they weren’t stupid they wouldn’t be confused, right?

That’s fundamentally wrong. If people are confused with a design, the problem is with the design, not with the users. It’s Twitter’s designers who aren’t smart enough, not Twitter’s users, because if Twitter’s designers were smart enough, they’d come up with a design that wasn’t confusing by encapsulating rather than merely hiding complexity. It’s the difference between actually cleaning up a mess versus just sweeping the mess under a rug. This new Twitter reply interface is a “sweep it under the rug” design.

A good “simple” design will help users to understand what is actually going on, how a thing actually works. A bad “simple” design will leave users just as confused as ever with even less chance of figuring it out, because what they need to see to understand it is hidden.

→ The PowerPoint slide that brought down a space shuttle

Looked this up after seeing it mentioned in The Sizzle, a newsletter I highly recommend signing up for.

Tufte’s point is that PowerPoint mimics the hierarchical structure of big business organisations, which is a bad way to communicate. Information is sliced into logical bits and truncated to the point of unclarity; as the information is passed up through an org structure, slides are deleted until only a brief summary remains. Context is lost; key points disappear; the narrative is destroyed. Or in this case, the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia died.

What does Tufte recommend? Give people in meetings a short written report, that they digest as the meeting begins. Then talk, talk, about the real issues.



→ Print parts first

The first thing you should print after purchasing a 3D printer is replacement parts for said printer

That way if one piece breaks, you can easily swap it out without having to order a part. Most 3D printers have at least a half dozen parts built from 3D printed parts. Also, make sure that the first thing you print after replacing a part is another one of those parts.

Woah, what a concept.

I’m not a bigot, but…

On March 18 the Australian Government Liberal party withdrew support for the Safe Schools Program it established in 2014, following criticism from backbencher Cory Bernadi.

23 days earlier, the leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, labelled Bernadi a homophobe.

Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, then said that Shorten and others should choose their words carefully:

The way that he has sought to describe any critic of the Safe Schools program as being an extremist or an ideologue, or worse, is utterly unworthy and he should recognise that inflaming this debate is unworthy. I address this to every member of this House: all members expressing views on this program should choose their words carefully and remember the impact their statements can have on young people and their families.

The other day I saw Lindy West reporting on Donald Trump for the New York Times:

It’s an odd construction. Once you say, “He says what I’m afraid to say,” and point to a man who is essentially a 24/7 fire hose of unequivocal bigotry, you’ve said what you’re afraid to say, so how afraid could you have been in the first place? The phrase is a dodge, a way to acknowledge that you’re aware it’s a little naughty to be a misogynist xenophobe in 2016, while letting like-minded people know, with a conspiratorial wink, that you’re only pretending to care. It’s a wild grab for plausible deniability — how can I be a white supremacist when I’m just your nice grandpa? — an artifact of a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist.

I recalled how two years ago the Australian Attorney General, himself a Liberal, was in the press for the following infamous quote:

People do have a right to be bigots you know

John Gruber of Daring Fireball had some really interesting reflection on the above Lindsy West op-ed:

That phrase at the end — that we have “a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist” — is something I started noticing years ago. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it, and it explains much about our current discourse on racism.

What’s happened is that all but a small fringe of American society has agreed that “racism”, in the abstract, is deeply wrong. But there are many people who agree that “racism” is deeply wrong who themselves hold racist views. One way they square this cognitive dissonance is by redefining “racism” as applying only to grossly overt racism — using racial slurs, refusing to hire people of color, belonging to whites-only clubs, etc.

It’s the difference between seeing racism as a problem on which we’ve made tremendous progress but still have far to go, versus seeing it as a problem which we have largely eliminated.

I think not only do we have a societal attitude where people have racist views but refuse to consider theirselves racist. I think we also have a societal attitude today where people think homophobic views, but refuse to consider theirselves homophobes.

All the way up to the leader of our country himself.

→ Terminator 2 is deeper than you think

Sarah Connor is one of the most compelling female characters in cinema. I am reluctant to use the term “female character.” It is an apt description, but her gender isn’t what is so compelling, it’s the fact that it’s never addressed. She isn’t the ass-kicking Alice from the Resident Evil films, who receives her own slow-mo fight sequences as the men around her stare open-mouthed. Sarah Connor is a soldier. She is the mother of the human race, tasked with instilling in her son the skills he will need to lead and survive.

James Cameron earns his paycheck bypassing this convention, as is evident in how he wrote Ellen Ripley in Aliens. There is no scene where a slack-jawed male character has to say, “I don’t take orders from girls,” only to eat his words when the woman has proven her chops. Ripley just does what needs to be done. Like Connor, she is capable without needing to evoke male characteristics. They do this without sacrificing their femininity, and both have their moments of maternal ferocity. Ripley with Newt, and Connor with her son. Cameron is the godfather of the “strong female character,” although I feel that term is overused. Ripley and Connor were “strong female characters” before it was a buzzword, and they never drew attention to the fact.