Year2016

World Cup of Hockey

I got a call late yesterday afternoon from my wife. She asked if I wanted to see a hockey game. Her sister had two extra tickets to the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game between Team Europe and Team Sweden. I jumped at the chance because hockey is a blast to watch, and even better live. I’m a late convert to hockey for sure, but I’ve fallen in love. The seats were great, three rows back from the ice, almost behind the net. We had a blast watching the high-scoring affair. Both teams played a good game, but Europe was too much for Sweden and won 6-2.


Halak at the ready.


Team Europe after the game.

Dispatch from the Trenches #15

Dear Mark. I am writing this to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture. – Aftenposten

I follow you on Facebook, but you don’t know me. I am editor-in-chief of the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten. I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut.

Facebook is the world’s largest media outlet. And they’re ill-equipped to handle this responsibility.

Facebook has responded.

“While we recognize that this photo is iconic, it’s difficult to create a distinction between allowing a photograph of a nude child in one instance and not others,” a spokesman for Facebook said in response to queries from the Guardian.

What they mean is “it’s hard for a computer to understand this.” A human could. Facebook fired its human editors and a fake news story started trending Not everything is solvable with software.


An Amish Approach to Technology

Upgrading to the SE would mean a change of phone plans and additional cost. You see, when the carriers dropped the subsidized payment model — where you got the phone for “free” with contract — it actually allowed them to raise the price. Now, you either buy the phone outright or make monthly no-interest payments but you still pay the same monthly price for most plans as you used to when you got the phone for free. I’ve priced this out and, basically, what it means for me and my family if we take the monthly no-interest payments route is we will me paying about $40 more per month if both my wife and I upgrade. Kind of a big hike.

My last upgrade was from an iPhone 6+ to a Google Nexus 5x on Project Fi. The phone cost a quarter of a new iPhone and my monthly phone bill is less than half.


The Black Queen

Found from Rob Sheridan’s post about the opening to Altered States, Stranger Things and the opening of one of their videos that Rob directed, Ice to Never


D.C. will hide once-banned books throughout the city this month

The D.C. public library system is hiding several hundred copies of books — which were once banned or challenged — in private businesses throughout all eight wards to celebrate Banned Books Week. The “UNCENSORED banned books” scavenger hunt kicked off Sept. 6 and will run through the month.
Each book is wrapped in a cover that explains why that book was banned or challenged. For example, J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” will say “Anti-White” because in 1963, parents of high school students in Columbus, Ohio, asked the school board to ban the novel for being “anti-white.”

What a fun idea! I wish I still worked downtown.


Understanding how Hillary Clinton would govern

“Hillary Clinton’s gift is to shut up and not talk and really listen to you.”

This 15 minutes is enlightening to how someone who has been attacked by the media so many times, she’s stopped listening to them. She wants to make policy and improve people’s lives. Not provide the media sound bites.


Humans of New York

If you’re not familiar with Humans of New York it’s an amazing series of vignettes on the lives of all kinds of people. Recently, they’re posted two posts with Hillary Clinton.

In the first, she addresses controlling her emotions as a requirement for women.

But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’ And sometimes I think I come across more in the ‘walled off’ arena. And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can’t blame people for thinking that.”

This is not something limited to her. I’ve seen and heard this from woman of different backgrounds. It’s a requirement for a woman, especially one under scrutiny of the public eye to wall off to a degree.

In the second, she addresses the double-standard of speaking styles.

Women are seen through a different lens. It’s not bad. It’s just a fact. It’s really quite funny. I’ll go to these events and there will be men speaking before me, and they’ll be pounding the message, and screaming about how we need to win the election. And people will love it. And I want to do the same thing. Because I care about this stuff. But I’ve learned that I can’t be quite so passionate in my presentation. I love to wave my arms, but apparently that’s a little bit scary to people. And I can’t yell too much. It comes across as ‘too loud’ or ‘too shrill’ or ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’ Which is funny, because I’m always convinced that the people in the front row are loving it.”

What’s OK for a man is not OK for a woman.

Dispatch from the Trenches #14

First, a story that turned me into a puddle of tears this morning. I love stories of people going above and beyond to serve others. It’s something I try to embody in my work and I love seeing others not only take notice, but share their stories.

To the usher at the Cardinals game who spent two innings finding my son a bottle of milk

What you didn’t know is that beneath my son’s Yadi t-shirt there’s a central line and a feeding tube. You didn’t know that the unusual form and function of his little body mean that he dehydrates easily, but also that drinking too much water could ultimately land us in the hospital, and for whatever reason, against most logic, right now milk is the thing he tolerates best.


NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is religious, not athletic (at least in prime time). No, seriously:

As has been discussed in endless numbers of places, NBC doesn’t do this for its prime time Olympics coverage. It doesn’t emphasize the sport, or even the athletes’ struggles to excel in their sport. Rather, it emphasizes the athletes’ individual struggles with themselves. The point isn’t how to be good at sport X. The point is to overcome the disadvantages of injury or poverty or gender or race or whatever. The competition is moral, not physical.

This makes a lot of sense and I see it the longer I watch the Primetime Olympics coverage especially. I also can’t tell you how many times I heard the entire story, complete with security video of Ryan Lochte and the other three swimmers last night. Every time the official NBC program changed, we were given the entire story. Again.

The Olympics are treated closer to the Real Athletes of America more than Olympians competing in their chosen sports for medals. The sports are secondary to the drama.


✉ Fwd: the heart is a lonely Pokéhunter

This is absolutely worth the read. It’s about dogs, love, loss and Pokémon Go. It was a beautiful story. I saw a lot of myself in the author. I recently worked from home for a week and, if I wasn’t married, would not have left the house. I am a hermit at heart and I’ve also fallen in love with Pokémon Go and had wonderful experiences playing it.

Patience

People have been taught to get off the line as quickly as possible. This comes from a toxic help desk culture of tracking the seconds of each call and keeping agents to strict quotas.

I work in a place where we are not bombarded with hundreds of calls per hours even though we serve a user community of over 20,000 people. Everyday once I’ve unlocked an account or reset a password, the caller says please wait with me while I try that or please don’t go! And I reassure them I am here for as long as they need me.

I am not held to a time limit for calls. My metric is customer satisfaction. Did I solve the problem? Did I give the customer an avenue for support if I’m not able to offer it? I want my customers to be happy and I work in an environment where that is not only expected but encouraged.

When you work in a place that respects the customer’s time and success, you’re still fighting against those in the industry who do not.

Fi

AT&Tata

I am fed up with AT&T. We’ve been with them for a long time. My wife has been an AT&T customer since she had a smartphone. She started with a Windows phone well before the iPhone was invented.

I’ve been with AT&T since we combined our plans into a family plan when we became family 6 years ago. And we’ve been iPhone users ever since. Upgrading every 3 years as our phones wore out.

Recently, I was trying to cut my bill by removing some of the data allowance which we weren’t using any way. There’s no way to have less minutes which I would have happily done. We’re still heavy text users because not everyone uses iMessage. But that’s not expensive either.

I made a change which the AT&T’s site said would save us $30 a month on our plan. That was a relief.

Until the next billing cycle started and I saw my bill would not be $1 more than it was before. So I called AT&T and spoke to billing. The woman there basically said changing the plans only saved me about $5 a month. Which I said wasn’t even true based on what I was seeing.

We’re paying our phone off through AT&T Next 24 so that adds about $50 to our plan each month just for the phones since they no longer offer phones on contract. (Well, they do offer it, but it’s more expensive than using their Next program.)

At the end of the day, I was still paying almost $175 for two phones with data plans. There had to be a better way.

After Billing, I spoke to Colton in cancellation to ask what fees we would be charged if we canceled our plan.

Since we’re not under contract, there is no early termination fee. We’d need to pay off the balance of our phones or return them to AT&T. (We’ll see if this is true when we visit the store this week.)

Major Carriers

I looked at Verizon. Their plans are very similar to AT&T and we’d need new phones so we’d be right back where we started.

I debated T-Mobile but I worry about their coverage area. The same with Sprint. Even through they’re running a great deal now. They’re slicing AT&T’s fees in half and offering a second iPhone for free after you have one on the plan. So we’d be back paying for phones over time, but we’d get one of them for free.

I worry about the coverage areas of Sprint and T-Mobile. We’re in the DC area but we often venture out to see family in the middle of nowhere and drive through the country. I need a data signal that will guide my GPS everywhere I need to be. Not just in the middle of downtown.

My wife and I were weighing our options last night and neither of us are married to our iPhones. It’s a fine device. I’ve owned the 4, 5 and now 6 Plus. But they’re not magic. They serve no greater purpose than being pocket computers.

There’s very few apps native to iOS I rely on. And even fewer I can’t use on the iPad instead. So there’s nothing keeping us from Android. There’s no synergy with our old Mac laptops to take advantage of. iCloud is a necessary evil but not a joy to use.

Fi-nally

We are diving headlong into Android with Google’s Project Fi. As of last night, we have two 32GB Nexus 5X phones headed our way. We are leaving Apple for Google and traditional carriers for Project Fi which uses WiFi and a trifecta of cellular carriers to mesh together coverage.

Between Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular, they’ve created a network that cover most of the country and blankets the east coast in signal. We’ll see how it works this summer when we travel to San Francisco, Las Vegas and rural Virginia to see if the network holds up.

This will be our grand experiment and will save us money. We don’t use a ton of data each month and Fi’s pricing is a simple $10 per 1GB. If we don’t use what we’ve allotted we’ll get that money back. It’s not billed in round 1GB increments. If we use 1.2GB more, then we pay for 1.2GB, not 2GB. It truly is a pay what you use plan.

The phones should be here this weekend. We’ll be canceling AT&T once they arrive and we port our numbers over. I’m excited to try this out and see how far Android has come since the Motorola Droid.