Sometimes I Read Things, May 21, 2018 Edition

Your Saddest Desperation Cocktails, Ranked: As usual, Matt Ufford made me laugh.

I Went to a Flat Earth Convention to Meet Flat Earthers Like My Mom

RIP Margo Kidder: She will always be associated with that one big role and truthfully, that’s the only one I really know her from. She deserves as much credit for the success of Superman as Christopher Reeve. Kidder will always be the definitive Lois Lane.

In Siberia in 1908, a huge explosion came out of nowhere: The Tunguska incident has always fascinated me. It leveled everything for miles, but we know almost nothing definitive about how it happened.

The Hutch closes in on a cancer cure: Some groundbreaking work being done at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

How Dangerous Are The Northwest’s Volcanoes?

What is the most sophisticated piece of software/code ever written? I was familiar with the Stuxnet worm, but this piece did a good job of explaining just how sophisticated it really was. A lot here I didn’t know.

Washington’s New Apple Could Be an Industry Game-Changer

Sometimes I Read Things, May 13, 2018 Edition

The Long Way Round: The Plan That Accidentally Circumnavigated The World: This was an incredibly gripping read.

Gammons: Ichiro was never unprepared, and that won’t change now

Study: Seaweed in Cow Feed Reduces Methane Emissions Almost Entirely

The Billion Dollar Bank Job

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he’s related to JFK. At 72, he learned the truth.

Paul Simon vs. The World: This was a well-written examination of Paul Simon and his legacy. I love Graceland (and Simon) as much as anyone, but you can’t ignore the way the album was made.

Essential Apps

This is an ordered list, but it really has no particular order. I use all of these apps every single day and are essential to my productivity.

  1. 1Password: I addressed this app earlier in the week.

  2. Bear: A note-taking and writing tool. I’m using it to compose this post. I use it to take meeting notes, write memos, and blog.

  3. BBEdit: I’ve been using this app since at least 1996, making it the oldest program I use (yes, this dates back to classic Mac OS.) This is just a text editor, but what a text editor it is. I use it for composing HTML, CSS, and editing Python and JavaScript. It handles very large text files with speed that few other editors can match. It has powerful find and replace functions (want to do a find and replace with regular expressions? Want to do it across dozens of text files simultaneously? With BBEdit, you can.)

  4. Soulver: This is the best calculator I have ever used. It allows you to work through math functions just like you would do on paper — building out your functions and calculations, and even giving them text annotations and headers. It fills a niche for me that would be cumbersome with a spreadsheet. I use Soulver dozens of times per day to calculate advertising spends for my clients. I use it on my Mac and on my iPhone.

  5. Things: My second brain. All of my tasks, to-dos, shopping lists, and projects go in here. An email comes in that I need to act upon? It gets forwarded into Things. We need more dish soap? Into the shopping list in Things. I receive a Slack message that requires a follow-up? Thanks to Zapier I can star the message and it will be automatically dumped into Things.

Subscription hell

via TechCrunch:

I’m frustrated that the web’s promise of instant and free access to the world’s information appears to be dying. I’m frustrated that subscription usually means just putting formerly free content behind a paywall. I’m frustrated that the price for subscriptions seems wildly high compared to the ad dollars that the fees substitute for. And I’m frustrated that subscription pricing rarely seems to account for other subscriptions I have, even when content libraries are similar.

This piece is a mess, though I agree with a few of Danny’s points. While he does mention it, I think he loses sight of the fact that these services cost money to operate. This cannot be emphasized enough. There are only two ways to make money in content: ads and/or subscriptions. If you feel that ads are too gross, then you are left with the subscription model. Content costs money. In some cases, very serious money. Netflix could never (at least not in a timeframe that would satisfy investors) recoup their content costs using ads alone.

How do you run world-class newsrooms which are doing real investigative journalism, paid for by advertising alone? Prior to the rise of the web, publishers were able to use revenue from classified ads to fund those operations — subscriptions and commercial advertising were secondary revenue streams in many cases. Classified ads were small and highly profitable. Craigslist took that revenue away from the publishers, leaving them high and dry.

The rise of dedicated streaming services for video are forcing traditional broadcasters to launch their own streaming services compete for viewer eyeballs. Having solid back catalogs of content gives each of them a compelling reason to exist.

The biggest mistake made by publishers on the early web was giving their content away for free, setting the expectation that this would always be the case. Now that they desperately need that subscription revenue, consumers are starting to feel pinched.

This is all a matter of perception though. Subscriptions aren’t new, and people had plenty of them prior to the web. My parents had two daily newspaper subscriptions, 5-6 monthly magazines, and satellite TV service. In our home today, I pay for three news subscriptions, one music, and seven video services. I value the content and I am willing to pay for it, just like my parents did in the 1980s and 90s. If a service is not providing me enough value out of the $5-12 per month, then I will cancel it (and it’s a lot easier to cancel a streaming service than it is to cancel Comcast…)

This is the future, and it’s really not that different from our past.

Passwords

Via: The Verge

Like sunscreen, it can be a hassle to apply, but it’s an easy way to stop yourself from getting burned.

The reasons are simple: you need strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts, otherwise the chances they’ll get hacked by some unscrupulous character are much higher. If your passwords aren’t strong (e.g., if they’re one of these , or if they use information like your spouse’s name and birth year) then hackers can guess them. And if you use the same ones for different sites, when some big company gets hacked ( like they do all the time ) your digital keys are basically available online for anyone to grab.

The Verge needs to pin this article to the top of their site every month as a reminder for everyone: do not use the same password for everything.

I’ve been a user of 1Password for 5 or 6 years. All of my passwords are stored there. If you held a gun to my head, I could not tell you the passwords for any of my email accounts, my Amazon account, or the dozens of others that I might have to use in a week. They are all unique and very secure.

I have a single password that unlocks my 1Password information and then the software does the rest whenever I need to log into something. I can rest easy knowing that if any of those services are compromised that it won’t mean the rest of my accounts are also in peril.

If you are using the same 1 or 2 passwords for everything that you do online, then your information has probably already been compromised. That is no exaggeration. Do yourself a favor and get a password manager, and start living a more secure life.