Blog posts related to other, random topics
Shenzhen shows the world how it’s done, electrifies all public transit with massive fleet of 16,000+ electric buses
Blog posts related to other, random topics
I have been watching a little bit of TV lately and noticed two commercials that both dealt with teenage supervision. One was a Volkswagen commercial, showing a dad in his Passat. I didn’t pay attention to the beginning of it, but I think he was picking up his daughter’s boyfriend at an airport. The two teenagers were sitting in the back seats. The dad was watching them through the rear mirror. All the time. So they couldn’t kiss each other. The point here was the traffic jam detection of the car, and that it would automatically slow down and accelerate as the traffic moves. But the interesting thing was that the dad in the driver seat could watch his daughter all the time, without taking his eyes off the rear mirror.
Another commercial I saw had a very similar message. I didn’t even catch the brand that was advertised. But the message was identical. In that spot, the dad used a home automation system to play with the blinds in his daughter’s room and other tricks. Again to prevent her from kissing her boyfriend.
So I am like, what the fuck. Is this behavior becoming the new norm in this country or what? Holy fuck. Whoever did those commercials, or approved them, or has them attached to the brand now, doesn’t realize how sick this is? I mean, come on. The teenagers in those spots were like real people. Young folks who are awakening to the changes in their body. They are alive. They want to experiment. They want to experience pleasure. And ultimately they want to love, and to be loved.
So who are we to show a behavior that is intercepting that. What right do we have to treat teenage kids like that. This is inappropriate and it is stupid. First of all, every person on the planet has the right to free will. If parents don’t get it when their little children move to a new phase in their lives, and that dads are no longer the center of their daughters’ focus – get real, wake up. When my daughter turned into a teenage girl, quite a while before she even had her first boyfriend, I talked to her about the changes I am seeing, and what I predict for the future. I told her that it is ok if she will one day turn her attention to a boyfriend, and that it will of course hurt me. But this is just because our relationship will change in nature. And so something I will have to let go. But our relationship won’t end, it will just change. And I told her that that is perfectly fine, and something I have to deal with it. Something I did not mention but is clear to me today – it is much easier for the daughter who then has something new and exciting to replace the former most important man on the planet (her dad), and so she doesn’t notice as much. Still, both are going through change. And that’s life.
Of course I want to educate my child to pay attention to her well being. Make sure she is always comfortable in how she is being treated etc. But this is then her own responsibility and I’d better done a good job in helping her to learn how to stand up for her needs. And if I have done that, there is nothing I need to fear. Except my emotional reaction to realizing I am no longer the center of the universe in my daughter’s world. But – like I said – that is my problem. Not that of my kid.
In that sense, I hope the subtle message of those commercials remains unnoticed and unheard. No, it is not ok to supervise a teenage girl like it was a little child. No, it is not ok to dictate a daughters’ live like in a prison environment. Those commercials aren’t just stupid. They are dangerous. And they are not even a little bit funny. At least if you dare to get a sense for the emotional pain of the teenagers. It seems to me, the teenagers are behaving a lot more adult (by respecting the expected emotional pain of their dad if they were just kissing their boyfriend in front of his eyes), or maybe they are just protecting themselves from the outrage it might cause. The dads though, are smiling at the success of their technological approach to a very strict supervision. Emotionally inappropriate, because really the motivation behind their action is simply fear of being left behind. And not facing it, and instead forcing separation between those teenage kids upon them, is immature.
And it won’t always work. So it is not even responsible. Instead of an open discussion with their kids, early enough, and making sure they learn how to act responsibly when they fall in love the first time, they are forced to live that in the dark. Stupid. Fucked up commercials.
Over the weekend I read about another airline flight attendant vs. passenger incident. Why would any sane person react that way. I mean, seems the flight attendant was right, but just like in the recent case of a man being violently pulled out of an over-booked United flight, how come flight attendants apply violence to enforce their case? I was thinking about this a bit this morning. What is obvious, when looking around, is that we have very obviously educated a whole generation with the believe that violence is a viable option, to enforce ones rights. In a kind of subtle way, this is happening all over the place. For example I was watching StarWars Rogue One over the weekend. Old story of good vs. bad. Like in the original StarWars movies. Right? Well, watch closely, and you’ll see that both apply violence whenever and however, and no matter how many casuals, if it seems an option to accomplish what they – in the name of a greater good – need to accomplish. Shooting a storm trooper, blowing up a ship… no big deal. This has become such a common trend, are we actually realizing what we are doing here. And let there be no mistake, this is not just about StarWars. I was just picking that movie because I very recently watched it. Pick any of the mainstream entertainment, movies, computer games. I am not saying that watching this makes one violent. But in a much more subtle way, it lead to the now common understanding that violence is ok, if you are right. Well, no. Applying violence, in any situation, no matter what way, how much, inherently makes you equally evil than the person you are dealing with. You lose the moral high ground, if there ever was any. And if you are perceived stronger, there’s an outcry, like in the airline incidents recently. And make no mistake, this isn’t about movies or computer games. This is deeply wired into our societies. Movies and alike are just a mirror of our thinking altogether. A playground, where we can freely live in the illusion of a simple world. A world where physical strength, a weapon, can actually solve any problem.
What is more worrying though, is that the same pattern of good vs. bad, of violence is ok if I need to enforce a greater good, also applies to how Nations handle their conflicts. Take the recent US attack on Syria. Same mechanism, works both ways actually. President Trump sees pictures of hurt or killed children, in turn orders an attack on Syria as a revenge. Someone less powerful, children in Syria, were hurt, big dada jumps in to end it. From another point of view, big evil US attacks Syria. Guess what, lays the foundation for subsequent revenge by IS or other group not big or powerful enough to openly attack the US, so they chose so called terrorist attacks. Well, things get really confusing when you read this article (in German) in the Rubikon „Giftgasmassaker war False-Flag Operation”. Whether it’s been Assad, or the IS, or anybody else, whether it really happened or not, not a topic right now. What is the question is, how come the US can bomb an air base in Syria, and nearly the whole world applauds? Are we fucking insane? Someone, allegedly, kills a few dozen people, and we react to it by killing more people, and the politicians and mainstream media in the world are telling me this is ok? Who is the crazy one. The guy who orders the mass murder of innocent soldiers in Syria over a chocolate cake, or me? Oh, make no mistake, I guess I am not saying Syrian soldiers are per se innocent. But I am saying that the soldiers killed during that attack are definitely not the ones who ordered the gas massacre a couple days prior. Yet they got murdered for it.
We are so fucked. When I was young I was so lucky to live in peaceful times. I thought we had taken the lesson learned in two painful world wars, and there could be peace. Now I am 52 years old, not even a Granddaddy yet, and with every day passing I am feeling less secure about this things that, in my view, is just the illusion of peace by now.
The best about web ad-blocking ever written. By Marco Arment:
People often argue that running ad-blocking software is violating an implied contract between the reader and the publisher: the publisher offers the page content to the reader for free, in exchange for the reader seeing the publisher’s ads. And that’s a nice, simple theory, but it’s a blurry line in reality.
By that implied-contract theory, readers should not only permit their browsers to load the ads, but they should actually read each one, giving themselves a chance to develop an interest for the advertised product or service and maybe even click on it and make a purchase. That’s also a nice theory, but of course, it’s ridiculous to expect anyone to actually do that.
His conclusion, concerning the totally out of control abuse of ad trackers and over-blown web sites:
Those days are over. It won’t be easy for many to move on, and not everyone will make it.
Read the full article. Thoughtful, clean. Makes the whole thing so obvious.
I have been running the Windows 10 Insider Builds for a while now. And getting close to the release date for Windows 10, I was asking myself, what – other than the slightly different look and feel – has actually changed. What are the key new features. Well, Microsoft has setup a page where they detail what’s coming with Windows 10. Microsoft calls this “It’s the Windows you know, only better“. What does that mean?
Well, from that page, I get the following key new features. The stuff that Microsoft puts front and center, the things that make Windows 10 new:
That’s it. I mean this is what they list on the most prominent page, where they explain what’s new in Windows 10. The Start Menu is back. This is the number one feature of Windows 10. It doesn’t look good, by the way. It, very unfortunately, inherits the tile view for Apps and makes the Start Menu blown up and too big. And customizing it is as non-intuitive as it could be. So for users migrating from Windows 7 or earlier, this is not nearly as bad as Windows 8, yet it’s not an improvement either. The fact Microsoft advertises the coming back of the Start Menu as the number one “new feature” is a joke in itself.
The fact “it starts up and resumes fast” and “has more built-in security” as the top 2 new feature. Well, I’d hope that’s a given for any new version of Windows, to some degree. At least security is a strong must-have. Since new versions of Windows take several years, new generations of hardware can mostly take care of making it faster, so I don’t think that’s as critical as having to put it up as number 2, right after the number 1 – it has a Start Menu.
Microsoft Edge is very welcome. Microsoft has made some very unfortunate decisions in the past. Trying to lock users in with IE, by establishing a closed environment with ActiveX and countless other technologies targeted at their Enterprise customers, have made IE so inappropriate that Microsoft now just started from scratch. I think this is a bold move. A very welcome one. Keeping IE in for Enterprise customers, who run custom apps is a requirement, and it underlines how difficult it is to exit from that strategy of trying to lock customers in. Nevertheless, I welcome Edge, and Microsofts attempt at getting better at supporting a more open Web.
Cortana is promising. Yet they don’t really explain what it is. A digital assistant. One that learns. One that’s “best at reminders”. Uh… best at reminders. So, let’s hope this isn’t true really. Because, if it’s “best at reminders”, what else can it do. I certainly hope, for the sake of Windows users, that it’s also very good at other things.
What else? What other key features are there? Why should I upgrade?
Well, Microsoft doesn’t explain on this page. But I’m sure there’s more.
Should you upgrade?
If you’re on Windows 8.x, definitely yes! Getting the Start Menu back is key here. I’ve talked to many people, who were completely puzzled after installing Windows 8. Even on Windows 8.1, the experience was not was a Windows user expected.
If you’re on an earlier release of Windows, I’d still say yes. Windows 10 is a lot closer to what you’re familiar with. And it has more security built-in. Staying current is the first and maybe most important aspect of making sure you’re safe. On Windows that’s more important than on other platforms, because Windows undoubtedly is the number 1 target for Malware. At the same time, it is visibly a much larger step than any previous Windows upgrade. Even if we ignore Windows 8, if you jump up from Windows 7 – or any prior release – to Windows 10 there is a learning curve. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not just visual changes.
Overall, it amazes me how much time it takes Microsoft to build a new version of Windows, and how little they put on the list of key new features. And that much of that is pointing out how familiar it is. Not naming Windows 8 by name, but it’s clear that one of the key drivers for Windows 10 is to revert the worst decisions Microsoft made with Windows 8. And while this took a lot of resources, I think it’s a good move.
Windows 8 was driven by the desire to get cross platform. One Windows, for PC’s and Tablets alike. Obviously driven by the motivation to lock customers into an environment they’re familiar with. Like, customers already have Windows. Let’s put that Windows on Tablets (and Phones), to drive Tablet sales, keep customers in the eco system. So it was driven by Sales. It was driven by financial interest. As a result, Microsoft – to some degree – failed to deliver a great experience on Tablets. And at the same time failed to deliver a great experience on PC’s. Windows 10 is mainly trying to correct that. The features listed on Microsoft’s Windows 10 page speak a clear language. And hopefully, for Windows users, this enables Microsoft to get back to innovating – with users in mind rather than dollars.
On Tuesday last week Apple MUSIC was released. On Wednesday I updated my MacBook Pro to Yosemite 10.10.4 and the new iTunes 12.2. When I launched iTunes after the update it prompted me to enable iCloud Library. And I’m like, hey this sounds like a good idea. Just like with Photos, right? Everything in the cloud, synced to all my devices.
No. Not great. Far from great.
It didn’t take long and what I saw was a completely blown up iTunes Library.
I mean thousands of songs with wrong track names, marked as duplicates, wrong artwork, playlists destroyed or wrong content. iTunes looked like after an atomic war. The work of 10 years – gone.
It turns out, Apple customers who previously had subscribed to iTunes Match, then cancelled it, and had it expired, were affected by this. At scale. There were reports on Apple blogs and publications, and there was at least one long discussion thread on the Apple Support Forums. I have detailed how I finally recovered from this disaster at WARNING: iCloud Music Library just destroyed my Mac’s iTunes Library. Yes, I do think this should have been tested before. Just considering the number of customers who have had iTunes Match and then cancelled, should be quite something. Plus the intern knowledge about a cloud that obviously hasn’t forgotten, just hidden it from customers. But regardless.
If you have had a subscription to iTunes Match anytime in the past, do not upgrade to Apple MUSIC’s iCloud Library yet.
Other observations, during or after my journey to a working iTunes iCloud Library:
iTunes still comes with some pre-defined Playlists, e.g. 90’s Music, Classical Music, and a few more. This is nonsense. Historical. Why is iTunes asking me about my music taste, where I removed that type of music, just to create a playlist for me that I’m always deleting right away. Stupid.
iTunes keeps messing with my Artwork. I have spent a lot of time, anytime I ripped a CD or imported MP3’s I made sure iTunes could download the appropriate Artwork, or I manually searched for it and imported into iTunes. Now much of that is gone.
Deleting tracks from my iCloud Library isn’t all that easy. Just as with the Artwork, this is wide-spread phenomenon. Many users on the Support Forum have seen the same issue. I had better experience with deleting smaller chunks for tracks, not thousands at once. But ultimately, when I delete – and confirm that this will remove the tracks from iCloud and all my devices – shouldn’t it just stay like that? Deleted? Not come back over night? Another stupid bug that should be fixed.
Generally, Apple – or whoever I trust my Music files – DO NOT MESS WITH MY HAND-TUNED META DATA, track/album etc. names, Artwork, etc. Not at least without giving me an option to opt-out of this, or reject a prompt asking me to overwrite data. Good Lord, who are you to touch MY data. Yes, this is an angry complaint.
Along the way, enabling iCloud Library on my iPhone prompted me to merge or replace my Music. I chose replace, thinking that – since I now have all my Music in iCloud – this would make sense. Well, Apple thinks different. I then had both, previously synced tracks from iTunes, plus the content from my iCloud Library. So I had to disable it again, sync with iTunes to disable Music sync from there. Then re-enable it to get to a clean state.
At the end of the day, I now have all my Music in the cloud. Easy access to Music. A very nice family sharing subscription. And like my daughter recently said: “Why do you even think. You’re going to pay until you die. And when that happens, I just take over.”. Good point!
Apple MUSIC. Locked in. Forever.
Headlines of sister publications 9to5mac.com and 9to5google.com, respectively:
I truly enjoy when things turn out the way I predicted all the way.
Worth the read anyway. Once again it turns out that geeks – which literally all of Google senior executives are – just can’t predict the general consumer reception of the latest toy they design. It’s just something else. Google has proven over and over again they just don’t. And will never. Ever.
And it’s a miracle, and fortunate for many, that Steve Jobs was actually capable of having a sense for what his customers really wanted.
Much has been written about the new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. My own review could be summarized in just a very short statement. I love my new iPhone 6 Plus, for its beautiful display, the solid battery life, Touch ID (I was upgrading from an iPhone 5), the camera.
One thing, however, is certainly sub-optimal. The size of it. Well, I do enjoy the large display, I love to watch movies, I love the screen real estate and what developers are doing with it. It’s almost like an iPad mini-mini. And what Apple calls Reachability is actually quite helpful. But no mistake – it’s a workaround. A workaround for Apps that aren’t aware of the bigger device.
But there are Apps updates being released these days where the What’s New section mentions support for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and support for iOS 8. Yet when I use them, most of them just support the higher pixel number, instead of being scaled up. Well, in my opinion, that is NOT “support for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus”. It is just a mandatory first step.
What is missing, but what the developer community has to address, is that people can’t reach certain areas in one-handed-operation. And let’s be honest. One handed is the default for many, and it sometimes – like when carrying or holding something else in one hand – is the only option.
Avoid the top area of the screen. The area you can’t reach with your thumb. Move it down to the bottom, or add (respectively replace with) gestures. But stop putting often used tap targets in areas I can’t reach one-handed. Period.
Too many apps I’m using still have frequently used UI elements where I can’t reach them. My favorite RSS reader (right now I’m back at using Newsify, after using Unread for quite a while) is one of those really bad examples. And there’s many more.
The bottom line, for me at least, is that Reachability should be a feature I rarely have to use, maybe to the point of almost forgetting it exists. If there’s an App forcing me to use it all the time, I start looking for an alternative.
If it wasn’t about my Grandmother, I’d probably not read much about the situation on Crimea at all. But more than before it becomes apparent how old she actually is. I don’t mean that in a negative way, just as it is. You can see how she’s been influenced by a traditional thinking, reaching back – via her parents, and the stories she’s telling about her childhood and youth – to the German empire. She often speaks about her father in the context of his military service under the German emperor. Born in 1920, of course she doesn’t speak any foreign language.
In contrast to that, I remember my teenage days. And I remember, about the time I learned about the Nazi time in school, all the European wars, Vietnam and elsewhere that I was coming to the conclusion that being associated to a State doesn’t really make sense. I mean if all it does is leading people into killing each other, why be a part of it. Vulnerable to being forced into military service (which was still mandatory in Germany at the time). Vulnerable to being associated with Nazi Germany, which I thought I did not want any connection with. So I went to the town hall and asked to return my passport. Just return, as in “I don’t want to be a German. It makes no sense. I’m human, that’s it”. Turns out this wasn’t possible. I was told I could leave the country and apply for citizenship in another country, and if that’s granted I’m free to leave. However, without being a citizen of another country it is not possible to no longer be German.
Not being part of a country, not being citizen of a country is typically seen as one of the worst things that can happen to people. In history there are man examples of people been sent into exile. Historically, exile has been the most extreme punishment. It was considered more serious than death penalty, for the simple reason that people assumed the loss of connection with the State, the loss of being part of a community was so painful. In his book “Das Totenschiff” (the death ship), B. Traven tells the story of an American sailor who loses his passport and then travels the world as a castaway.
I always thought this was a mistake. I mean countries are a mistake. They are a temporary historical phenomenon. Growing from families to clans, to communities, to larger entities and into States. There has always been a lot of movement, annexations, wars, mergers and so on and so forth. What seems obvious is that those forms of building communities of people is related to the forms of communication available. As mankind has moved from the spoken word and intermediate advancements to telegraphs it’s become technically possible to rule larger areas. So far so good. And now we’ve got a world-wide communications network, phone satellites, the Internet. And as a human being I can basically talk to any other human on the planet in near realtime, no matter how far away, or even on the opposite side of the planet. Yet we aren’t seriously thinking about taking the most obvious next step, which is to unite all States on the planet.
This reminds me of reports of astronauts, who had seen the Earth from space. What they observed seems obvious (“there are no borders”), and it touches our hearts. The silence in space, the emptiness plays into it as well. Yet there’s no consequences. Equally animals aren’t considering borders when they move. I’m thinking of the birds who fly over Europe to escape the cold winters in the Northern countries, and come back in spring. They don’t feel like being attached to a State. They do not feel lonely and lost, and they do not consider going to war to declare their winter residence their own country just because they like to live there for a few months each year, or benefit from what nature provides for food and other resources.
So why do we have borders? Why does it matter to a country, who’s president, or chancellor or king or whatever, and in which city he lives?
I see this a lot. It’s the same in relationships. People are so afraid of being left alone, they do so much with the intent to secure the relationship, yet because of the often unconscious fear of losing, the brain is not free to see what’s going on. Fear leads to one of two very basic functions. Run or fight. It’s always run or fight. In our personal relationships. And in the relationships between States. If we could just see that who owns Crimea doesn’t matter at all. Never has. If you look at history, it’s never been anything else but a temporary pain, war maybe, economic weakness, people being forced to leave their homes, or running away. But fundamentally, what has ever changed, other than the label on the passport?
And why can’t we see the next step in evolution is obvious. Why are we even thinking of how to react to the situation on Crimea, while it’s clear the only logical next step is to stop worrying about this intermediate form of organizing people – States – are already a thing of the past. We’re just bound to it, psychologically.
I am still German. I still live in Germany. Yet I consider myself being a human being. Worth no more, no less than any other life form on the planet.
Like a friend of mine once said: 8 Billion friends. Consider it. Very obviously, borders exclude you from most of them. So just get rid of them.