Count to ten when a plane goes down

This is an incredible story. It’s not long and I urge you to read it. A great story and even better reminder to stop. Stop and think before you react. Information is not immediate. When something happens, it takes time to find what exactly has happened and the first information is not necessarily the best or even true.

On this day, I highlighted her workstation and hit the F6 key to reset. But my screen went temporarily black and then seemed to be starting again. I realized that I had mistakenly hit F7 and reset all the workstations in the embassy. This realization didn’t bother me much, because no one except the Agriculture section secretary was usually on the computer system this early in the morning.

But then all hell broke lose.

A single keystroke can change the course of international events.

So today, in the face of a Malaysian Airline crash in the Ukraine—and with all the associated speculation of 24-hour news organizations and the Tweetosphere, my advice is to take a deep breath, count to ten, and know that there is a very good chance that truth in the matter will be forthcoming very soon. And let’s hope that there is no stupid 23-year-old with his finger on an important keyboard in this information chain.

Watch Dogs

Let’s Play – Watch Dogs

I enjoy watching guys play various games. I thoroughly enjoyed their video for Watch Dogs. When I learned they could stand on top of cars and not only drive them around, but jump them, was incredible.

This is something I’ve tried in various games through the years. And failed every time. I’ve tried in Halo, Saints Row, and Grand Theft Auto. None of it works. Each time the rider falls off, even when the passenger is in the bed of a truck or somewhere a person could be.

I’m happy to see this mechanic built into the game, or maybe it’s a lack of mechanic to throw people from the moving vehicle. Either way, it excited me. Is it worth buying the game for that alone? Certainly not. But it would be hours of laughs.

Deconstructing Twitter

Does Twitter confound you? David Pogue has written an excellent primer explaining the gibberish squeezed into 140 characters.

This single example contains four examples of Twitter conventions:

• @SFGate. The @ symbol indicates a Twitter member’s name. I’m @pogue, for example. This tweet also mentions Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors. His Twitter name is, of course, @elonmusk.

• RT @SFGate. RT stands for retweet. So Debbie here is repeating (that is, retweeting)somebody else’s tweet—in this case, she’s retweeting something @SFGate said. (SFGate is the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.)

People use RT as a courtesy; it’s giving credit to the original author.

• sfg.l/1t4EIEd. That’s a URL—a link to a Web page. URLs are super common in tweets, since one key use of Twitter is sharing things found on the Web. Here, if you clicked the link, you’d go to the SFGate article that’s being quoted here.

• #Tesla. The # is a hashtag. It’s a label for your tweet. Other people can search for these hashtags—or click them—to see more tweets on the same subject. If you click on #Tesla, you’ll see a whole list of tweets, all pertaining to the Tesla company and its cars. (You can also go to and type the hashtag into the Search box.)

This has been the first Dispatch from the Trenches. Part of what will (hopefully) be an ongoing series of things I find interesting enough to share and comment on.