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Scripting News

It's even worse than it appears.

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Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-19 17:28

Lovely day. The kind of day that makes California living so nice, except this is the Hudson Valley.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-19 14:23

Programming lesson still being re-learned after 46 years of programming: If your program behaves like it has an infinite loop, consider the possibility that it actually has an infinite loop.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-19 14:24

Another programming lesson I haven't forgotten. It's amazing how many bugs that you spend hours not finding at the end of the day are found first thing the next day.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-19 17:29

I love house-shopping on Zillow, like a lot of people do. It's fun to dream about living in one place or another. This house in Great Barrington would be fantastic for a family, as a country home perhaps, or a place to live in the age of telecommuting.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-18 16:09

Added an item to yesterday's list of things Facebook is. "All the content -- video, images, posts, comments, live events, current and past."


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-18 16:34

Frank Mitloehner: "It’s been two decades since British Petroleum and the marketing agency then named Ogilvy & Mather deceived lots and lots of unwitting Americans into believing the hands of fossil fuel companies are clean of contributing to climate change through imaginative messaging. To this day, their marketing campaign continues to be highly effective in getting the public to take on the weighty responsibility of halting climate change. We’ve cut back on meat, upped our recycling game and made the creative campaign’s key phrase – 'carbon footprint' – part of our vernacular. All in an attempt to make a positive difference – and yes, to clear our consciences.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-18 14:40

BTW, if you get Scripting News via email, you are welcome to forward copies to friends. There's a subscribe link at the bottom of every email. And don't worry they can't unsubscribe on your behalf.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 20:01

A bee flew into my mouth while I was riding my bike today. I quickly swatted it out of there, but I got stung anyway. That was 1/2 hour ago, and the swelling went down quickly. Whew good thing I didn't inhale the little fucker.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 20:17

Everything we think is a new low in American governance is far from it. We were taught a lot of crap in school. The people whose egos were being protected are all long-dead. Was it worth it? No, of course not. It would have been much better if they taught the unvarnished truth.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 15:40

I thought this would make an interesting screen shot. Each tab is an outline I have open in Drummer all the time. Every idea can be slotted into each of these. And sometimes they move from one to the other as they get more "done." Most but not all are calendar structured. People often ask how I use outliners, this is at one level, the answer.


Facebook is at least eight things

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 15:31

Here's the list.

  1. Mark Zuckerberg.
  2. A public corporation.
  3. 60K employees.
  4. Servers, software, other tech.
  5. An advertising platform.
  6. A user community.
  7. Connections to the rest of the web.
  8. All the content -- video, images, posts, comments, live events, current and past.

When journalism refers to "Facebook" I don't think they're ever clear on which Facebook they're talking about.

Each of the different Facebooks are limited by the others.

But if you are aware of all the different things "Facebook" is, their stories are usually mush.


What I'm learning from The Wire

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 15:04

I have no idea how many times I've watched The Wire from beginning to end, but it's probably more than five. The last time I remember watching it was in 2010 when I just moved to NYC. I was living in the West Village, and had an active social life, and The Wire was something nice to do calmly, alone, just to get absorbed by a fictitious yet very familiar culture, again. Like coming home in a way.

That's the thing about all good series that achieve suspension of disbelief, you feel like you're in the story, you're part of the family. And The Wire with five seasons of 13 shows each, each show an hour, with all the characters and their stories, and relationships, makes for very absorbing reality-shifting and an emotionally satisfying experience.

Sometimes I know what's coming, and amazingly, sometimes I've forgotten. But some big events, you remember, and experience them in full fidelity now, as you did the first time.

Also if I recall correctly the first seasons were only available in low-rez, they came out before 4K, but somehow they've upgraded the source material and it's all up state of the art, at least to my eyes, which aren't the strongest.

Anyway, I'm toward the end of season 2. Not even close to half way through. Looking forward to the end of the day when I might watch a couple of epsiodes.

And get this, while I'm working through The Wire, I can't watch cable news. It's just too sad, slow, repetitive and just wrong. On one hand you see how great we can be as story-tellers, and the stories told on MSNBC and CNN aren't stories at all. The characters say nothing. Even the ones with reputations for saying a lot. There's absolutely no human connection. And you can see that the things they're saying are repeats, just like watching The Wire for the 5th or 10th time, but there's never a question about what the characters might say or do, it's always exactly the same. Yet it's supposed to be The News which would lead you to believe their intention is to say new things.

I keep asking the question -- does news have to be as bad as it is? Could imagination bet part of it, curiosity, intellect, depth of knowledge about something other than politics or law? Maybe this is just what happens when you become older and more experienced than everyone on the news. They all seem flat and boring, and just plain stupid, bored with their jobs, but keeping the seat warm. But does it have to be this way?


I turned off Maddow last night

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 15:24

I turned off Maddow last night as she was reporting a leak of software for elections. She left out the vital part of the story, was this the first time the software had leaked? If not, all it tells you is the people who are doing the "recount" in Arizona are bad people. This is not news. If they were new leaks, I doubt I'd be hearing about it first on Maddow.

Come to think of it for all their breathess breaking stories, I can't remember Maddow ever cited by another news org as the source of a major story. Yet they often present their work as such.

And the dishonesty when it comes to tech reporting, gives me an idea of how dishonest their other reporting must be.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 01:16

It seems to me if there aren’t enough hospital beds, unvaccinated Covid-19 patients should be the first denied service.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 21:08

Something to think about. While we're debating all kinds of things, so far 4.5 million have killed by Covid in the last two years. In four years, 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 14:12

Frank X Shaw: "Stress dream last night that my old guitar required two factor authentication to use and the only way to turn it on was to accurately play six chords assigned by the app. I kept messing up."


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 14:13

How long after your parents die should they still be in your dreams?


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 16:53

Pet peeve: People who are too frazzled to read an email carefully enough to correctly determine its meaning, even though the words are simple and direct. I've done this myself. And when I realize I've done it, I feel like crap.


CNN could use a constant critic

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 14:32

Saw a report on the news that Facebook is evil because they enhance pictures on Instagram. A really thin story because so many things other than Facebook damage people's self-perception based on ridiculous standards of appearance.

CNN does it, for sure in huge ways. The anchor reporting the story is a beautful woman, but probably not quite as beautiful has her makeup, hair and lighting people make her seem.

I wish they were required to have a constant critic in a window in the upper right corner of the screen, pointing out these hypocrisies.

Brianna Keilar

PS: I will always admire Keilar for how she interviewed Michael Cohen, before he was famous. If you haven't seen it, you might love it. It's very different from the usual TV news fare.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-15 18:47

Thinking about the extent that Boomers are held responsible for where we're at, I still think that's nuts, the more I learn about slavery and how the Civil War is still going on, that's what we are fighting about in the US, that's why we can't get our shit together. We haven't accepted a very large part of our population, people who are fully entitled American citizens. Then I wondered about all the post-boomer generations that blame us. I wonder if they voted in every election they were entitled to vote in. What are the percentages of participation in democracy among the generations. I don't know if the idea of the vote as a sacred right is a Boomer thing, or what. I know my parents had the participation bug. I got it from them, I'm sure. But if you didn't vote, I think it's hard to blame others. My friend NakedJen has a wonderful slogan for this. You can fake caring, but you can't fake showing up. ❤️


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-15 15:30

One reason I want Twitter to get rid of the character limit is so I no longer have to say "I wrote a tweet." I have never liked the idea of writing tweets. Tweeting is weird and joke-like, self-deprecating, which I don't mind, but please not about writing. Writing is a religion, not something I joke about. 😄


Alejandro Prieto

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-15 18:39

Roadrunner at US-Mexico border wall.


Andy Hertzfeld

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-15 18:36

Replicas of Bay Area landmarks at LegoLand in Milpitas.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-14 20:01

Today is one of those rare days where I have very little to say on the blog. I'm still working my way back through the Now & Then podcasts, and The Wire (still in season 1) and of course working every day on Drummer, with the help of the test group.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-13 18:22

Don't assume they wanted advice.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-13 18:04

I'm re-watching The Wire, after the death of Michael K Williams, the actor who played Omar. He was right about type-casting. His one great role was Omar. Once you get a part that good, and play it so well, and everyone else is that good, you just don't get to do that twice.


More web breakage from Google

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-13 13:55

Chrome has done something insidious to break the web a little more. They do this so often, breaking the web seems to be Google's business model.

Here's what they changed.

  • If you type a domain name into the address bar of the browser, the protocol is hidden. This isn't new, or particularly bad, until they made the next change.
  • Now instead of automatically generating http as the protocol in the URL, they generate https.
  • So sites that are running fine appear to be broken.

It happened on a placeholder site to me just now. I was fooled, I immediately thought a server had gone down, and started looking for the outage. Then I was reminded of this trickery Google is doing. I was reminded of how much I hate what Google is doing to the web. They're fighting with me, and weakening the web in a way they have no right to. My site is a perfectly functional web site. It's just a placeholder. No one needs to worry about a "man in the middle" interference. There are no ads on this site. I don't know how else to say it. My choice of protocols is none of Google's business.

That's basically a protection racket. If mobsters were doing it. "Nice little website you have there, be a shame if people couldn't reach it because Google broke the web.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-12 17:12

The other night I was bored and noticed that The Wire was on HBO, so I watched one episode. Then another. And another. Later I started at Episode 1. I don't know how many times I've watched The Wire. I'm almost at a point where I can recite the lines along with the actors. I've yet to see a flaw in this show, there's nothing I don't follow with rapt attention. I can't believe there are people who haven't seen it. It's as I imagine Shakespeare was in his day.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-12 17:11

Public Folder is an app I put together after Dropbox stopped supporting a public folder. It's too important a feature to live without.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-12 14:57

Everyone but silo-builders wins if our products interop.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-12 14:23

Drummer has a feature called the glossary, it's been part of every outliner I have done since the mid-90s. It's a very simple idea. A table that associates terms with text. If I use one of the terms in my writing, when it's published, the term is replaced with the text. We use OPML to represent the glossaries. Here's my personal glossary. I wish every place I type text could be configured to use my glossary, so where ever I go I can use my terms. It would also be great to configure my searches to use these terms too, so Google for example would know what I am referring to when I type the name of one of my own products.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-12 14:09

Braintrust query: I want to understand the extended Markdown some outliners use. If you use one of them, you can help.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-11 13:58

I get Andrew Sullivan's email newsletter. Today's edition was a podcast interview with Michael Wolff, who I've met several times. Wolff is a great conversationalist, his writing is irreverent, and he's also very generous personally. The same people dismiss him who dismiss me. So I started listening and it's great. I did a search for "Andrew Sullivan podcast" on Google and there it is. Another podcast to check out. I'm going to give it a try.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-11 15:18

BTW, I agree with absolutely everything Michael Wolff says to Brian Stelter, about Stelter, CNN and journalism. Stelter asks what he should do differently, Wolff says "listen more" and of course Stelter just laughed at Wolff, pretty sure there wasn't any listening going on. They are in a deep increasingly irrelevant rut. We need a new news.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-11 14:01

Speaking of podcasts, the next Now & Then episode I listened to was great, it was about voting rights in American history. What's happening now is actually fairly typical. There's so much interesting stuff they left out in grade school history, which I used to love, my favorite subject after English. Now I'm wondering where I can take a remedial history class after I go through all the Now & Then episodes, which I'm clearly going to do. I also wonder who's going to do the history of tech with the rigor, curiosity and humor of Richardson and Freeman.


An unpublished post from 2008

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-11 14:45

I was going through some notes and came across this piece I wrote on 5/19/2008 about how my mother uses computers. I guess I didn't publish it because she was a regular reader of my blog, and might be offended. But she won't read it now, and if she did I would tell her this is how I loved you, knowing all about the stubborness and willfull ignorance of how computers work. Which is odd because her children and husband made their careers making these damn things work, in some fashion.

One of my standard disclaimers after I Am Not A Lawyer and Murphy-willing is My Mother Loves Me. I say this to let everyone know that no matter how much you dis me, no matter how much you hurt my feelings or make me feel worthless, I know that as a last resort my mother still thinks I'm great. (I hope she still feels that way after reading this.) And I love my mother, all this is said with the deepest admiration, with a bit of irony and tongue in cheek.

All that said, my mother is one stubborn person. 😉

She's been using a Mac for 20 years -- 20 years! And she still doesn't know what a menu is or a window or the desktop or an icon, or a toolbar. But she does, somehow, know that if you press cmd-shift-4 you get a screen capture of the front window and it creates an icon on the desktop (what she calls this I have no idea). She showed me all her icons. I asked how she knew that, she said "I just know it."

It's as if kids born in Czechoslavakia in the 1930s were somehow taught this in grade school?

We have this clash every so often. I tell her she must go to the local community college or public library and take a class in basic computer usage. That she would get back a ton of time for doing this, and I'd be able to show her a lot more cool things she could do with her Mac. But she won't do it. It's as if one could drive a car without knowing which pedal was the brake and which the gas, or what the gear shift was, or the difference between the steering wheel and the volume control on the radio. If my mother drove her car like she drives her Mac the streets of NYC would not be a safe place to drive.

This came up over the weekend because I was trying to teach her to use WordPress, software that seems fairly straightforward and easy to use -- to me, but when viewed through my mother's eyes was unbelievalby difficult. It's not totally WordPress's fault. There are so many layers to the screen of a Macintosh. First there's the OS, it has menus, a desktop, windows, etc. All of which have controls and their own logic. Then there's the browser. It has an address bar, a search box (hers got stretched somehow so the address bar was tiny and it was huge (why is the search box even resizable?). It has a toolbar, Preferences, bookmarks (oy she totally doesn't get bookmarks). And then there's WordPress, and it has chrome too, just like the browser does! How can you tell the difference? I don't know.

For me this stuff is understandable because each piece came in one at a time. But when I saw how it looked to someone who not only didn't have that perspective, but didn't have the time or patience or spongelike learning brain of a child to grok all the layers of logic at play, it's just something to laugh about and shrug off.

Yet she understands the purpose of the web, viscerally.

All this made me think that now that we have a handful of activities identified, blogging, bookmarking, clicking, chat, email, etc. one could start from scratch and design a computer that just did these things without layers at all.

Or my mom could take a class at the local public library. 😉


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-10 19:42

This page, 20 years ago tomorrow. I was living on Manzanita Way in Woodside, CA. Woke up early as I always did in those days. If you scroll to the bottom, the day started out normally. A link to a friend's blog hosting service, a Wired story about Hollywood, a new book about Microsoft, then at 6:15AM, we get the news of the first plane. Then a reader finds a web cam on the Empire State Building pointing at the WTC. Then a second plane hits. And from there the story develops. There was a personal side to it, my father taught at Pace University, which is across from City Hall, very near ground zero. He was okay, but had to walk, like many thousands of others, from lower Manhattan to Queens. My mother saw the whole thing from a rooftop in Brooklyn.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-10 14:40

Thanks to everyone who pointed me to the Now & Then podcast with Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. I listened to the most recent episode about the history of humans and climate in America. Wow. So much information and perspective, without any extra junk, and with depth that can only come from having spent a lifetime learning. It is exactly what I was looking for, at least so far. There are quite a few podcasts in the library, and they're exactly as long as my bike ride. They were finishing as I was pulling into the garage, literally. Also only one commercial and it was for a new podcast from the same network. Not overbearing. Thrilled.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-10 14:32

Fox News and Rupert Murdoch are to blame.


MAGAs in love

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-10 19:34

Jake Tapper thinks President Biden scolding unvaccinated Americans isn't very nice. Boo hoo. Never mind he might have saved their lives. And more important, mine.

I can just see it. Biden says "Come little MAGAs, let me give you a nice big hug and a mug of hot cocoa. Now let's talk about your vaccination. I would really like you to get one. It would make me feel good."

Cute little MAGAs just love Cousin Joey.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 15:05

I'm loving going through Rick and Morty for the second time. I've promoted it to my friends, but the comments I get back are a lot like the ones about Bojack Horseman. They're turned off by the fact that it's a cartoon. I don't mind it at all, myself, and it has the advantage that they can go places with their imaginations that human actors can't. That's esp important for a show like R&M. Also another thing I like is that there's no fourth wall at weird times. Rick talks like a game show host, about commercial breaks, and then talks about episodes, and seasons of R&M. I love it when writers are free to talk to us through the characters, quite literally, not through manipulation. I think it's a masterpiece, as I did with Bojack. Here's the thing, as kids we loved cartoons right? I know I did. I also loved movies. So now I like movies made for adults, why not cartoons for adults?


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 16:35


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 14:36

Listen. There are plenty of famous delusional loudmouths. Why aren't there any sane loudmouths to balance them? I'll tell you why -- because being confident and outspoken is considered a sin among the sane. But! It's not a sin to communicate in a way more people understand.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 13:23

Liberty doesn't mean you can take a crap in the middle of the supermarket or burn down your own house.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 13:20

I wonder when someone in journalism is going to break the Republican lie that we're all independent of each other, that somehow we don't need the help of others to eat, stay warm, stay alive. We don't live on the prairie in the old times, before railroads and medicine. If your house catches fire, my house will too. Once we establish that foundation, that we depend on each other, we can solve problems, but not as long as our political life is mired in this argument about what liberty means.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-09 13:10

I am very happy with the way Drummer testing is going. There have been some surprising contributions, really good questions, and plenty of people actually using the software. Enough people to keep it moving. And I'm not in a rush. As far as I'm concerned this is the whole game. I have no development plans beyond Drummer and the scriptable apps I've lined up to hook into it. I'm not sure why this time is different, but I'm not arguing. 💥


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-08 19:02

Options for creativity are in the edge cases.


Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-08 15:15

When you recommend a podcast please say a little about what it is and why you recommended it. Typically to find out what a podcast actually is takes hours of listening. and usually they're disappointing or too boring, or have a 1/2 hour commercial at the start.


Worth starring Michael Keaton

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-08 18:09

The Netflix movie Worth got great reviews, and it stars Michael Keaton so I got out the popcorn and sat down to watch with great expectations and came away not liking the movie. That was almost a week ago, and I've had some time to reflect on why it was so bad.

  • Interestingly, the score on Metacritic for Worth has gone down by 20 points since I looked late last week. Now it gets a 66, "generally favorable" which is not great. But I left the first paragraph alone.

First, Keaton is a great actor, and this was an unusual role for him, playing a lawyer whose job it was to save the economy from being sued to oblivion by the families of victims of 9/11 by giving them money.

Now I'm going to spoil the plot, but it's kind of funny -- you might not even realize this was the plot, esp the second part, after you watched the whole movie, that's how poorly done it was. So here goes.

  1. The families wanted their dead relatives' stories told, they cared less about how much money they got, although the money was important to some.
  2. The families of rich people who died scammed the regular people and they took a lot more of the money from the settlement, and there was nothing Michael Keaton could do about it.
  3. But the most important part of the plot was that Keaton started out as a stiff and heartless lawyer and came out the other end as a champion of the people. Only we never saw the process by which this transformation took place.

The conclusion I came to, after giving this enough time, was that it should have been a 6 to 10-part series. Netflix should have done for the families what they wanted Keaton's character to do. Tell their stories. That's where the juice was. If you want to make Keaton the central thread, that's a good way to do it. But we just got tiny little glimpses of the families here and there, and no understanding of who actually died in the 9/11 attack. And that's a shame, because it could be a good story. Maybe a bit like Six Feet Under.

Anyway as a movie it was imho a failure. Michael Keaton, as always, commands your attention in a good way, just to see someone who's a true artist at his craft.


My podcasting habit wanes

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-08 14:41

Editor's note: This started as a thread on Twitter and turned into a ramble here on my blog...

I have to admit the only podcast I listen to these days is Brian Lehrer, and I don't listen to that very often.

If Heather Cox Richardson did one, I would listen. A weekly version of her newsletter. Yes. She's one of those people I never have an argument with, and always learn something from.

In contrast the Daily podcast (which used to be my main daily news fix a year or more ago) sucks so much now because the NYT reporters are either dumbing things down intolerably or (sorry but this is more likely) they're just too young and inexperienced to have a clue. About anything, even what they're supposed to be expert in. I know they hire kids with great degrees from great schools, but I wonder if they aren't all the pre-med-type students who just go for the grade and recommendation.

And then think about all the doctors they keep inviting on to CNN and MSNBC. The same ones all the time and they say the same things. You wouldn't need AI to do what they do!

Also I would listen to a Donald McNeil weekly podcast about what's new with Covid. I wouldn't mind if he also talked about cooking, or great trips he's taken that didn't get him fired from the NYT. I think he should be as popular as that asshole on Spotify who got Covid and is taking oxycloriquin or whatever. How about a rational outspoken person to balance the crazy outspoken people. McNeil with a good sidekick could do that.

They could do a clean sweep of MSNBC while you're at it. Again, clinging to a world that is gone. No patience for that. Get HCR and DM to begin. Offer Brian Lehrer a nightly spot. That's three hours right there. The people they have now are out of ideas. Need a rest, a change of venue. Put them out of their misery.