Geodashing – RIP

Since I haven’t done many posts lately I failed to mention a very significant (at least for me) event – the end of geodashing (the site is still there, but the game is finished). Now indulge me, Dear Reader, while I explain.

First, for me I discovered geodashing as a fairly dark time in my life and it provided me some significant relief. Even though my very first geodashing trip included my wife for several years it was just my activity that I usually did solo. It was a very valuable excuse to escape my house and some of the events going on there. A day, sometimes more, of driving, to find these totally random spots on the Earth managed to drain away much of the tension and despair I was feeling. So, in many ways, it saved me.

So what is this crazy recreation that only a few thousands of people tried and a much smaller number of diehard enthusiasts continued for years. Well, a computer program written by an unknown person who went by the handle of Scout, set up 32,000 random coordinates (mostly on land, definitely not in big bodies of water, but sometimes in lakes). So, without trespassing, you go out, each month with a new set of points, to find as many as you can. You can claim the location (“dashpoint”) by writing up a description of it that could be independently verified. Then you received a score and your team, if any, received a score and there were winners in each. I personally got the second most individual points ever and the team I started got the second most points ever. Since the individual leader died during the game I was hoping to someday be #1 and our team was slowly eating away at an early lead of the #1 team.

So this activity took me all sorts of interesting places where I would have never gone (as well as provided that much needed relief I described above) and eventually scoring a point in almost every state. I even hold (later learning what I did was illegal) the one and only claimed dashpoint in China. The mantra of the game was “getting there is all the fun” and this usually turned out to be true, as for me, often, the point was just some farmer’s field, but the trip to get there yielded something unexpected.

So like for such much is happening to me as I definitely am feeling the ravages of age, something I valued has ended for me, forever.

Now it’s interesting in a more abstract way to think about this game as a bit of history. When I first began to drive a car I could never have imagined such an activity as this – sure I “went for a drive”, from time to time, just to see what was out there, but it was unimaginable to do something like this. And when the US government invented GPS so it could be used by nuclear missile subs to be able to accurately target their missiles, none of those engineers could have imagined one day their multimillion device would be reduced in size and cost so it could be used for recreation. And even the first civilian GPS creators could not have imagined this (more on this later).

So a new technology gets invented, that few could have even imagined, say in 1957 when the first manmade satellite was launched, that one day would spawn a game, which in turn would mature and be terminated. All that in less than one lifetime and thus it will be a tiny footnote to history. Once those of us enthusiasts are gone no one will even know it ever existed. So literally, from dust to dust, as the saying goes.

GPS, in many ways, is one of those technologies that seems almost like magic. When geodashing started few people had heard of it, yet today it’s commonplace with literally billions of GPS enabled devices, now so much a mundane part of life almost nobody thinks about how amazing it is. Like so many other technologies, astounding in their infancy, they’re just taken for granted in their maturity.

Since the creator of geodashing never revealed his/her identity (her the pronoun thing is not some woke thing, just the gender of the person was never revealed, even though the hometown (Appleton Wisconsin) did leak out), the exact history may not be known but it was spawned by several events: 1) the invention of GPS itself, as a consumer product, spawned a whole family of “games”, 2) one of the earliest “games” was “confluences”, i.e. finding the spots on the earth where the longitude and latitude are integers, i.e. 42N 97W, the only one I ever found (most are easy to find but on private property and I don’t like to ask for permission from some stranger to tromp to one). Of course most of the easy to find confluences were quickly found and reported and so, kinda by definition, that game came to an end, and, 3) geocaching, which kinda (starting before it was called that) was the first GPS game, but as is typical of any human organization had some internal disputes leading to spinoffs, of which geodashing was one. Unlike confluences, geodashing never ran out of new points to find; unlike geocaching, it never became commercial.

So it was good (at least for some of us, again, thank you Scout) while it lasted, but like so many things the novelty wore off and various factors just led to a shrinking community and eventually, after 20 good years, it was time to call it quits. I find this very sad, because the value of geodashing, to me, at least, had little to do with the novelty of GPS and more to do with an activity that was timeless. geodashing could make as much sense, as something fun to do, one hundred years from now as it did in the first two decades of the 21st century. But our world craves novelty and like so many things its time is limited.

Now, just a bit more anecdote about my personal connection to GPS. While I had nothing to do with developing it I believe I had more “proximity” to its development than any other geodasher.

You see, at one point I was working for a failing startup hitech company and my counterpart, the director of hardware had managed to land a job before our company he failed. He told me the name and I promptly filed it in my unsearchable archive and forgot about it. I did recall it was with some other HP guys (we were all HPs alums) which came in handy later. A few years later, I observed every now and then, while riding by bike to work people walking around with large backpacks with a long pole and a pie-plate looking thing on top. I later learned these were developers at Trimble Navigation building a human portable GPS. I then later learned, Trimble was named for an HP guy who started it, and my colleague had gone to work for that company (since it was successful I assume he finally had stock options that were worth something). Anyway, now knowing GPS existed, although not the affordable personal version yet, future mentions would stick in my mind.

Much later as part of my early difficult days in Omaha I took off just heading south, eventually to kinda randomly arrive at Big Bend National Park. It was the first long driving trip I’d ever made alone so navigating while driving was tricky. I do remember a horrible drive, trying to read a map and road signs and drive while avoiding being run over my crazy Texas pickup drivers, in the rain no less, and saying this as impossible. That trip taught me I had to get out of town as part of my malaise was simple cabin fever (in California, going somewhere fun was an hour drive, here in the “heartland” you can drive nearly all day, in any direction, and it’s still just farms).

So 2+2 (have to go camping, remembering GPS) I did discover the very earliest version of the Delorme digital mapping software AND their, then battery-operated, serial-connected (much better when it became USB) GPS receiver. So that was even my first laptop and I soon discovered the then-hard-to-find inverter to run a laptop while driving and thus have GPS navigation. It was a miracle. I do recall, however, having gone to nowhere (and lots of nasty signs threatening to shoot me) northwest of Chadron Nebraska and realizing that perhaps a laptop computer might not like be bounced around by bumps on a terrible road, with lots of dust from the dirt road, while being over 100F outside, and that perhaps it might fail (it had glitched, something that later happened a lot but then I knew how to correct). I realized, except for this device I have no clue where I am (something that later happened on foot geodashing that might have left my bones in nowhere Wyoming) and I have no map and there are no people, so what if something goes wrong. So when I heard the joke that some people, due to errors in the Apple maps (when they, stupidly, got rid of Google maps) drove into a lake, just following their GPS, I understood.

So over the years I’ve replaced both the computer (several times), the inverter (several times), the GPSr (several times) and gotten updates to the maps, UNTIL, BOOM, now Delorme, like geodashing, ceased to exist. Garmin bought them out and prompted killed their product which now means there is NO good mapping product, esp. for a bigger screen, and one is stuck with addon dashboard GPS (or indash builtins, which are awful) or a phone, which, guess what, doesn’t work out in nowhere in the middle of the country (look at that hole in coverage maps, that’s me!). So if I want to drive on interstates, which any idiot with no tech should be able to do, Apple has me covered. That said, btw, at least with Android phone and Google maps real-time traffic data is a different miracle, so these days I drove with: 1) laptop and dying Delorme for the all-day multipoint route, 2) dashboard Garmin to get to next point, and, 3) phone while in traffic (rare out here) or needing to find something commercial since static lists of POIs (Points of Interest) are nearly useless (in Garmin, which gets updates) and completely useless in Delorme (which is stuck in 2011 version forever).

So while I may not have participated in developing GPS I was an active witness to it, and while I may not have had the first driving GPS system, I had the first generation when almost no one knew about it (even before geodashing started). So, IOW, I’ve lived through the entire history of that technology as well, though, fortunately, unlike geodashing it’s unlikely to disappear.

So I’m really sad much of this (all of geodashing) has come to an end as I’m not past the point where I’d like to and still can do it. But things do end, so at least I got to have fun with it while it lasted.

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Time but no energy

So yet another night with a minimal post, this time more due to just being worn out by this week, than starting late like the last couple of nights. I want to get around to some discussion of my experience with various tools for learning Spanish. But maybe I can still, spontaneously, recall some material of interest.

So, first a plug – Why Not Spanish, no YouTube (not sure I can provide a link, just go to YouTube and search for Why Not Spanish). Maria is a fantastic teacher and the whole thing she has going with Cody, using their life as a way to create their free content (they are plugging paid courses) on YouTube with useful lessons. Somehow Maria is the easiest to understand native Spanish speaker I’ve encountered. It’s not that she slows down or over-emphasizes pronunciation, or some other fake audio effect – she is just a clear speaker. Of course I’ve heard that Colombian Spanish has the least accent and that might be part of it (I found the Spain accent, especially when really exaggerated, kinda like the famous Boston accent, the most fun). Of course, my actual (Zoom) Spanish teacher Erika was the best and owns my heart.

There is so much awful stuff on YouTube being used to undermine democracy, not just in the USA, but around the world, it’s hard to “endorse” it by talking about the good stuff. And there is a lot of good stuff (and some fairly bad as well) for language learning, esp. for Spanish, which in my informal polling seems to be the main language people are learning.

While I’m at it I’ll put in two other plugs:

  1. While looking for versions of Canción Del Mariachi, aka the theme song from Desperado, actually sung and played by Banderas, I discovered this amazing guitarista and cantante, Elena Yerevan. She is definitely not Spanish (from somewhere in eastern Europe, her primary language is Russian) but it’s amazing how well she does this.
  2. While this group is from a while back and no longer performing together I really like some of their online videos, Ella Baile Sola, esp. Lo Echamos A Suertes (a bit amusing to try to translate, but approximately Leave it to Luck). The lyrics can be found online, both in Spanish and English and it’s a fun learning exercise to listen in Spanish (the only option for these songs) and look at the lyrics in English. In some ways songs are actually easier to understand than dialog in the many different TV channels.

added later: I was checking if I’d entered the links correctly into WordPress so I listened to both these songs. Now, while I’ve only done that a zillion times before and studied the lyrics, I think I get a little credit, for someone who has never learned another language before, for being able to understand them.

Speaking of this, How about La Casa de Papel? While Netflix certainly brought something to the production level when they acquired the show, the original two seasons were quite a bit better (with less money, less shooting scenes). It’s fun on Netflix to alternate between listening to the audio in either English or Spanish, then with subtitles (English) or closed caption (Spanish), in different combinations.

Closed caption is better for language learning because it’s more literal and more directly maps onto to the actual spoken words. So if you’re getting some of the dialog (either/or audio and captions) but missing a word or two here and there, you can still keep up. OTOH, the subtitles (not always clear whether you’re getting subtitles or closed caption and they are different) tend to only loosely connect to the dialog (esp. fun in Money Heist since there is so much swearing). I have a lot of fun messing with all sorts of TV using this.

So someday, with more energy I’ll describe more of my experience. It is kinda silly, of course, talking about something that about half a billion people can do so naturally, but, OTOH, an old fart, even having some occasional difficulty remembering my native language, trying to learn a new language has at least a few interesting observations.

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Too little time, once again

Where does my time go! For someone who has almost nothing compulsory to do why do I end up at the end of the day seeing it’s almost midnight. It’s not like I’ve been couch potato mindlessly watching tube all day. I’ve been on the go for 15 hours with few breaks.

Oh well, it means I can’t begin a few descriptions of some of the interesting stuff I’m finding by reading newspaper articles in Spanish. I found one source that has human translations so I can compare those with the Google Translations (better in some ways, esp. for studying Spanish, worse in others) with the human. So it means I read a lot of news stories I wouldn’t otherwise read since I also want to see a diversity of vocabulary. Anyways that does take a big chunk of my day.

In this blog I used to whine a lot about politics but today I don’t. It’s simple. I’m a seriously pessimistic person (I’d say realistic who just thinks world sucks) so back when politics was merely awful whining about it didn’t mean much. But now reality has gotten worse than even my negative worst case projections and something bad really happening is a lot worse than merely predicting horrible stuff. So literally I can’t stand the news, too much of the bad guys actually winning. If it’s not Trump, then it’s Vlad and I fear soon it will be Xi (and that will really interfere with my getting a new car when the supply chain disruption that arises after China attacks Taiwan).

Speaking of that I saw a couple of interesting tidbits. One the new law (hurrah!) may actually not provide a tax credit for any EV since there are lots of made-in-USA provisions that currently can’t be met. Europe may have stupidly gotten itself dependent on Russian natural gas but we’ve gotten ourselves totally dependent on China for EVs, either the raw materials (rare earths and lithium) or the actual batteries (mostly from China). While manufacturing, and more importantly recycling, soon to be an issue since oldest EVs might be reaching battery replacement time, is minimal in USA and still dependent on raw materials we don’t even produce at all (and can’t in any short time frame, if even at all). So some 17YO genius kid thinks he’s invented a new motor that doesn’t require the rare earths – we may all soon hope he’s right, but still lithium is a problem.

Then there is solar. Yeah, more, but, oh, wait, where do we source that from? Has China got us by the balls there too? I hear California may bail out one of the old nuclear reactors just to get some domestically produced power generation. Oh joy, I live 30 miles away from one of the oldest (and worst), now slowly being shut down – does this mean next time the Missouri River floods (as happened a few years ago) it shuts down that plant (as happened back then) and so we get glow-in-the-dark emissions here in Omaha.

And I thought just getting a new car was a pain.

Well, enough, cleaning up the kitchen still awaits me.

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Survived my ordeal, but got a surprise

I mentioned yesterday that I had to do my almost most-dreaded activity today, which is to go shopping for a new car. Car salesman can tell when I’m coming miles before I get there and they’re licking their chops at the maximum sucker for their sales pressure they’ll ever see. They’re probably laughing in the back room about what tricks they can pull on me by the time I’m through the door.

This might sound extreme and it might sound like it’s my fault for being such a weakling at negotiation, but come on, are you really going to blame the gazelle when the lion eats it? Yep, I’m a gazelle and all the lions at the car dealership know it. The only good thing is that they’re still fairly nice as they’re eating me.

So to avoid a lot of boring detail, lots of online fiddling and then finally having a plan, I finally went to a dealer today (to protect the “innocent” or maybe avoid getting sued for defamation I won’t mention the brand). And I was instantly pounced upon by a nice and very young, young saleman. I already knew the one and only car, of the model and brand I wanted, in Omaha was at this dealer and already sold, but I just needed a simple fact finding expedition for the one thing I can’t figure out online – can I fit (being fairly large) in the car (it being a compact SUV with specifications smaller than the one I have now).

The car was right there in the showroom, but it took the usual “have to ask my manager” just to get to sit in it. It was surprisingly better legroom and headroom than I expected, although pretty narrow (felt like a cockpit of a fighter jet, yeah, I actually sat in one once).

So that means the same car, but right color, at a different dealer (but not yet delivered) was going to be my choice, but how do I now detach myself from this pleasant young salesman.

Well, it turns out he wasn’t the least bit interested in getting to buy a car (the last time at this same dealer, it was less than two hours before my wife walked to look and I’m driving there with a check to pay for the car she just bought!, cars aren’t usually an impulse purchase, so a shock to me). Why didn’t he want to sell my a car today?

Well, they don’t have any. There isn’t a single car, at least of the model (OK, I’ll at least say it’s a hybrid SUV) on the lot and in fact they have like three unsold cars of any type. So, I can have any color and options I want since I have to order it anyway.

And then wait, a minimal of 7 months!

No wonder the salesguy wasn’t already spending his commission.

Now I haven’t bought a new car in about ten years, so maybe the world has changed, but it now appears there is no such thing as dealer inventory anymore. Gone are the days to go to the dealer and look at all the choices on the lot and maybe drive one away – no, it’s order far in advance. Really! Has that what car buying has become and I just didn’t know it.

I do admit to occasionally being surprised by things I infrequently do. Once I got interested in maybe getting a Prius (back when they weren’t quite so ordinary, or even dated in today’s world) and described I could swap the rental I was just picked up at San Jose Airport for a Prius. So this story shows how silly I was (Note: my last job was a software architect and I pioneered all sorts of things no one else had ever seen, at least once upon a time, and I do claim a couple of MIT degrees so I’m probably not stupid, and this story is from about 20 years ago before I was on my way to dementia, like now).

Anyway, I had absolutely no clue how to even turn on this car. I had to ask the guy washing the cars, who spoke zero English (one of the many times I swore I’d learn Spanish as is my current obsession) how to turn it on. It took a couple of tries, since if you know Prius (maybe a lot of others) merely pushing the power on button just boots up its computer and doesn’t actually activate the car (your foot has to be on brake for that, OR, you do a double tap – neither being obvious to someone who had always put the key in the ignition on the steering wheel).

So at least I finally have the car turned on and now struggled to shift it into gear. No matter what I tried the tiny shift lever wouldn’t stay in the R position. Little did it dawn on me it’s really a joystick and what gear you’re in is shown on the LCD display. Another trip to the guy who didn’t speak English who is now wondering what kind of moron I am.

In case you don’t have a Prius, it doesn’t have a reverse for the engine, only the motors, so fine, while it seemed awfully quiet (zero engine noise) at least I backed it out of the parking space. Now having been taught how to shift, OK, now it is in D, why doesn’t the engine turn on. So yet another question to the hispanohablante and through sign language I learned, push the accelerator pedal. The car started rolling, and, suddenly, the engine starts.

Now in today’s world this is all trivial and to anyone who didn’t over think the problem it was basically trivial way back then, but to me I’d just unlocked the mysteries of the universe.

BTW, in all this ordeal getting the car moving it turns out I’d left my carryon, with all sorts of critical stuff in the original rental car, so an hour later I found myself rushing back to the airport hoping to recover it (this was also when I now had my first job with a whole lot of security stuff, involving multiple gadgets, all in my lost carryon).

So, the point of this, other than demonstrating my silliness, is that things change, and sometimes in non-obvious (at least to most of us) ways.

So has car buying really changed, or is this some temporary thing, partly justified by COVID and Putin’s invasion, triggering all these rather remarkable (but I think mostly panic buying) “shortages”.

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Amazing, no time left to do much of a post

It always amazes me how times flies. One might think someone retired would have all the time in the world to write a few posts, but even as my late owl day comes to an end today I don’t have time to write what I’d planned. My days are almost the same and almost as structured as when I was working, so little disruptions make getting everything done impossible. So I’ll have to defer the post I planned (one of several).

My disruptions today were simple (and totally trivial): 1) yesterday had some unexpected stress which meant poor sleep and thus about 1.5 hour to get up and start my routine, and, 2) my wife’s sister came over and this, also uncommon, is one of the rare times I actually spend a bit of time chatting with someone, but she arrived right when I was about to start something else.

So with such small disruptions some agenda items fell off: 1) worst, I missed my normal daily exercise (machines in the basement), which once upon a time, as much older posts in this blog show was my obsession a few years ago and missing a session was unthinkable, and, 2) I only completed the minimum amount of my multiple daily activities for learning Spanish, only doing the minimum to keep certain low level (compared to much higher a few years ago) going.

And tomorrow, since I have to do something I’ve been putting off, for months, since I dread it so much I have to go look at a car. I hate buying cars, for me it’s worse than a root canal (and I’ve had enough of those to know). My no longer trusty Subaru Forester either needs some seriously expensive repairs or replacement. I’d known this was coming, sometime this year, but now it’s here.

So then here’s my whine and what I think is really stupid on Subaru’s part. They’ve been hit harder by chip shortage (which I think is mostly fake, but a little bit real) than other manufacturers. So they don’t have many cars at any Omaha dealer, but also all the major cities within a day’s drive. So what few cars they have are the most expensive models and loaded up with options and thus, at minimum about 40% (and up to nearly 100%) above the posted prices on their website.

Now I’ve used my Forester as an actual “rugged” vehicle, not a lot of offroading, but on a lot of “roads” you’d never take an ordinary car. Having it be muddy and dirty is a badge of honor that I’m using it for what it’s intended. I always found the the term “yuppie shopping cart” an amusing description of most SUVs in that people never use them except around town hauling groceries and kids. I once used to joke with an office mate who had a really good offroad Toyota, but was always pristine (a speck of mud on it, accidently from a paved road, would be immediately cleaned off, and the leather seats had never had someone sit on them hot and sweaty and dirty from hiking).

Anyway what’s the point of an “outdoor” car loaded up with pricey luxury that would get trashed on my trips to the wilds of Wyoming. Or as another way to look at it, why would I pay a nice sedan (Audi or BMW) price for a compact SUV?

One lesson I learned from marketing people in my career was “never give your customer a reason to think about any other product”, i.e. keeping a loyal customer happy is a lot easier than finding new customers and converting them from what they’re loyal to.

So Subaru blew it for me. With nothing to buy from them (since I hate car buying I would probably tried to buy the new Forester entirely online since I know exactly what I’d be getting and can do my own research about what’s changed (not much) since my previous one) I started looking around. Back when I got the Forester it was the best choice (IMHO) but Subaru hasn’t done much to improve it AND Toyota has. The RAV4, back in 2011, was a lousy choice, but that is what I’ll be looking at tomorrow.

Why, well it has multiple hybrid models and as we already have a Prius (somehow this is almost a cliché, Prius and Forester) I trust Toyota on this. AND, being older, plus my main activity driving in nowhere ended, the next SUV will be more commonly used in town, which of course is where the hybrid shines. RAV4 was too narrow and too high center of gravity 10 years ago and thus a bit on the dangerous (rollover) side, whereas the boxer engine Subaru pioneered allowed both high road clearance AND lower center of gravity.

But now the hybrid version, with a fair number of options (the only one of these for sale in the color I want, in Omaha) I get a lot more for about the cheapest Subaru (both dealers here and in Des Moines) can offer.

I did seriously think about what Toyota calls Prime, which is their plugin-in hybrid. I remember an article Toyota wrote why they thought pure EVs didn’t make sense, so they compromise. The Prime only has 42 mile range (pure battery) but then can use less (in weight and dollars) batteries and the cheaper types. Run your battery down a bit more than you expected (traffic jams, longer trip, whatever) and, turn on the engine. Even as just a hybrid the boxy and thus lousy aerodynamics RAV4 gets good mileage. AND, it charges much faster and you can use you existing wall current (don’t need the supercharging) to charge overnight. If I still lived in California it would have been nobrainer to get that (even after the soon expiring (and not replaced by the new bill) tax credit) the Prime carries about a $8000 extra price.

But, I almost caved, because it also cranks nearly 300 BHP (everything engaged) and so has nearly sports car performance, which would be fun, as an old geezer, to have a “hot” car again (oh my GTO, those were the days).

So maybe I will get back to my planned post tomorrow, but as usual I’ve already written more than I planned, so still have the kitchen to clean up and looking at the clock, well, nearly an hour late getting to bed. Maybe I’m talking about going car shopping so I can avoid doing it.

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No new posts means ….

… I wonder what, but usage stats fall off like crazy so something is causing that. Lately I’ve believe that Google search doesn’t find posts here at wordpress.com since Google doesn’t get to put ads in them. Little by little Google search has evolved to favor sites with lots of Google ads or trackers – big surprise.

I had thought about a post about Curiosity 10th anniversary on Mars. I had just started blogging when it landed and somehow my post was chosen (don’t think they do that anymore) and of course that brings lots of traffic.

But too many people obsess over likes and views and all that does, IMHO, is degrade the quality of posts, at least by those who chase the numbers (fortunately I get ZERO revenue and don’t care, only ego, and I can suppress that).

I would write more but I’ve found other things to do, but I don’t want this blog to die (or wordpress.com) as someday I may wish to be more active.

In my other, far more focused blog, I really tried to create good and useful entries (I still think I have the largest list, anywhere on the net, of Spanish verbs connected with food, eating and restaurants, but all sorts of truly inferior posts of a similar nature are the ones Google chooses, but, of course, those have ads, so everything is about money, not value. That has discouraged me from writing (among other things) but sometimes it’s still worth it just to create something and post it to nowhere with no attention, as the value is not “popularity” but the sense of accomplishing something, which will have to suffice as gratification.

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Damn you, Apple!

Given all the horrible things happening in the world today, the only way I can survive is think about little stuff. And now Apple has ruined that!

I see that they’re dropping the iPod totally. For me, that means when my current one dies (or, as Apple has been trying to do to me anyway, break it) my hundreds of dollars of iTunes music will become useless. Already because of some screwup internal to Apple I can no longer access their store and so the gift card, mostly unused is already gone (I refuse to give Apple a credit card so instead I bought gift cards to cover my store purchases, but they broke that). So I, fortunately, haven’t bought any of their overpriced music in a long time. But I like what I’ve got and it feels like theft to me that now Apple is taking it away from me.

Of course, I’m sure I could buy one of their awful phones and thus keep my music going, but sooner or later they’ll break that too so only streaming would work and previously purchased music turn to digital dust. Of course streaming works really well </sarcasm> where I actually use my iPod now, i.e. out in the middle of nowhere where there is no digital service (yes, people, the entire world is not wired! and you can actually go places where you’re off the grid; and sometimes that is fun).

Every CD I ever bought I still have and still have working players for them, since most computers have not yet abolished them. But even when they do long ago I ripped on those and converted them to MP3s which I copy to my new computer (try that on a phone!). And for a while, until Apple killed that, I could download music I own to my iPod. But I haven’t been able to do that for a while, and so instead fell victim to the fad of the moment and bought songs, even album from the Apple store.

Gosh, given the silliness of 33s coming back, maybe someone will invent a dedicated MP3 player with a USB interface (probably exists, but one thing Apple did right with the iPod was great power management, because guess what else doesn’t exist in the middle of nowhere, charging stations).

So, Dear Reader, you can just declare me to be a dinosaur, but still think about this. These wonderful digital monopolies today mostly can’t grown anymore by more customers, so their only growth path is to squeeze more money out of existing customers. And Apple is a master of that by simply discontinuing something you’ve already paid for, forcing you to buy it again.

So, I ask you, Do YOU want to invest a penny in something Apple sells that they also have the power to break and thus force you to throw away what you’ve already paid for?

The kiddies, so gullible for all the “new” stuff maybe hear of the term ‘planned obsolescence’ (you know, in one of those history books you never read). That mostly applied to the then marketing giants, i.e. Detroit car companies, that figured out a way to make you get rid of the perfectly good (or mostly good, since cars back then died at 50,000 miles) car and buy a new one, just with different colors (sound like somebody in Cupertino today) or different “styling” (sound like somebody in Cupertino today).

Monopolies are always going to screw you.

I once was a die-hard champion of Apple (only after Mac II came out, the original Mac was an expensive room heater). I spent my own money not only to buy the hardware, but more significantly all the developer tools (tons of manuals, developer software, going to conferences to find out how things really worked since the manuals didn’t really tell you). Kicking and screaming I was dragged into Windows land, which now has absolutely wonderful (and free) developer tools and great documentation and computers actually developed in the last decade or so, rather than repackaged old Macs.

Apple almost died due to its arrogance once, and, get this kiddies, was saved by Bill Gates’ critical cash, and now they will do it again.. Of course, they’ll probably just morph into a cosmetics and clothing company anyway, since “trendy” is all they understand.

Don’t buy tech from people who screw their existing customers, because someday it will be you they’re screwing.

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Not a morning person

I’m soon going on a short vacation and that means I have to adjust my daily schedule. My wife is a morning person and bangs around our motel room in the morning making it impossible for me to sleep. She won’t adjust her schedule so that means I have to adjust mine.

Now it does make some sense for me to get up earlier while on vacation. In my normal schedule I’d miss breakfast. And lose several hours of daylight useful for the vacation. So adjusting my schedule is the best answer.

But, oh, it’s hard. When I used to travel for business, my trips to China or Japan meant almost a half day time shift. Yet I didn’t have much trouble with that. Of course I was much younger and higher energy but still that’s a lot of jet lag to deal with.

So I’d think that just a couple of hours of time shifting wouldn’t be that hard. And I’m taking about a week to do it, having learned the hard way that instant adjustment, i.e. the first day on vacation, is brutal. So each day it’s 40 minutes earlier on my alarm so by Friday I’ll be on the schedule I’ll need to have for 8 days of travel.

But I’m so tired now, part of the reason I writing a post (other activities are too difficult for my groggy mind). And even after nearly a pot of coffee I could fall back asleep in a flash. My body just does want to be awake now and I doubt it’s going to feel any better in a few days. In fact it’s getting worse each day I’m getting up earlier, despite crashing much earlier at night.

So it’s good to do a silly post like this rather than something of substance. The world is just so awful now I can hardly stand it so I need something trivial as an alternative.

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Everyone at Twitter should resign now, or lose your soul

To my former geodashing teammate in Bend, I couldn’t find the email you sent to my old Yahoo account, so if you happen to see this, try the same username but now at gmail. I’d enjoy touching bases again and I did respond to your comment and I hope you see that. I do have a little contact with Rogbarn but I haven’t asked him the same question you asked me as he, too, was one of the last.

For everyone else, especially anyone at Twitter, RESIGN NOW! Musk is just fucking around trying to bring a narcistic dictator back to power, undoubtedly to get a bunch of tax breaks and government graft for himself. We are getting close to the end of American democracy and no one can be neutral/balanced any longer. This is an existential war, just as the poor people in Ukraine are dealing with as another dictator destroys them just for ego. For them it’s life or death with the evil Russians, for us, it’s not that bad YET, but it will be when democracy ends in 2024, death in the streets on unprecedented scale. 60% of America is not just going to roll over (maybe 20% will) and allow the jackboot of the Repugs to destroy this country.

But you guys, anyone at Twitter, this isn’t just some normal Silicon Valley buyout scam. Musk can’t even afford this (how will we pay the 1B$ in interest he’ll owe, net worth on paper isn’t the same as having cash, just another gimmick from the Trump playbook, no real money, just illusion). It’s another scam LBO, like some many others before. Months from now you’ll be seeing a play out of the Trump playbook, bankruptcy, to avoid repaying all that debt Elon is piling on. Wow, nominally the world’s richest guy and he has to use borrowed money to buy a minor company, think about how Twitter is going to pay a billion in interest on the junk bond debt Elon is piling on the company. You really think you’re going to get your bonus, or your options are worth diddly, or in fact you’ll even have your job!

Get out now, everyone, leave that piece of crap company whose sole purpose is to put out Russian and Repug and Trump propaganda. You are evil if you stay!

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Really irritating

I can’t find any way to update my blogroll, a widget in the sidebar. I can figure out how to edit some of its properties, but not line-by-line.

I was trying to add a blogroll to my other blog and got strange results. It was easy to add the widget itself to the sidebar, but the contents were some bizarre auto-generated stuff that was nonsense for me (how can a blog I’ve never even visited be one of my favorites).

I suppose I shouldn’t complain, after all I get this blog space for free, but the new editor for wordpress.com SUCKS big time. I’ve hated it since they introduced it but now I can’t even get done what I need to do (not just inconvenient or hard to use, impossible).

More and more, of course, I find this on software. I do date back from pioneering dates of software development and if I may say so I was rather good at it (I have the paychecks to prove that). But I suppose I got too used to having to do thinks “manually”. So this dumbed-down UI in WordPress, for the current kiddies who grew up with phones, is absurdly hard to use – it’s basically their way or the highway. It’s a little bit like people who stick like manual transmission (both my cars are automatic and clever, but there are always so things they don’t do right that I could do with manual override) or like real cameras (to me phones are convenient but they’ll never replace my Nikon).

And so now WordPress is trying to “help” but making it either utterly impossible or bizarrely obscure how to modify my content. Thanks a lot.

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