Dispatch from the Trenches #16

Photive HF1 Bluetooth Headphones

Feel is important to me. I wear my headphones all day — every day. When they are not on my ears, they are wrapped around my neck. My wife thinks I am anti-social. I can’t hear her.

This is how I want products to be reviewed. Real world use. Explaining why they’re good or bad for his use. I got price, if they folded, how they charged, and how they fit.

It wasn’t full of gushing hyperbole. It wasn’t proclaiming they were saviors of the world. It was a real-world experience about a product and his views of it. That’s what I miss about reviews.


Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Were to Aid New Yorkers. An Unsavory Side Has Spurred a Retreat.

Users were expected to make short stops at the kiosks. But the sites quickly attracted homeless people and other idle users who took full advantage of the unlimited access to the internet to turn the kiosks into al fresco living rooms, watching movies and playing music for hours.

I could have told you in a moment this would be the result. I used to work for the City of Richmond, VA’s help desk and we would receive calls from irritated people who could not watch porn on the public library computers. If there is access, people will use the access how they see fit.

I am surprised at least simple internet filtering wasn’t in place for the tablets on the kiosks. The media streaming could be limited by site, or by bandwidth or time usage. I’m happy to see the developers of the kiosks see this as an iterative process so they’re aware there will be challenges and are working to make the experience better for everyone.


The Falling Man

Most images of 9/11 depict destruction on a massive scale. But Richard Drew’s quiet picture of one man falling from the towers conveys the tragedy of every life lost that day.

While never officially confirmed, the man is believed to be Jonathan Briley. You can learn more about Jonathan Eric Briley.


Here’s How Obama’s Female Staffers Made Their Voices Heard

Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

I’ve seen men take credit for the work of their female colleagues time and time again. In some cases, the people getting the work knew where it really came from. But there have been many more times where the man was given credit for work he didn’t produce.


Saul Williams: Tiny Desk Concert

In terms of sheer intensity, Saul Williams’ Tiny Desk concert may be the most potent in our eight-year history.

Saul Williams is passionate and brings fire to his words. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him live twice in support of Nine Inch Nails and as the headliner. His intensity is infectuous and his words penetrate.

Question your authority, genocide and poverty
Treaties don’t negate the fact you’re dealing stolen property
Hacker, I’m a hacker, I’m a hacker in your hard drive
Hundred thousand dollar Tesla ripping through your hard drive

— Saul Williams, Burundi

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.