Monthly Archives: April 2014

How do you exercise your dog in bad weather?

With temps over 90 around here, we don’t want to subject Minnie’s paws to hot pavement, which means we’re skipping our one-hour brisk walk in the afternoon. I’m just going solo on that.

What do you do to exercise your dog when it’s too hot for her to walk?

I figure we can just reduce her exercise a few days until the heat breaks, then resume, but I’d like a better option. For one thing, unexercised Minnie is INTENSE in the living room after supper.

AppStorm gives the Notebooks app a thumbs-up review

Notebooks: A Flexible and Powerful Note App in Beta

This is a review of the January 2013 beta, but it looks pretty similar to the final version. Notebooks seems to be developed by one guy, and it’s a complex app, so it’s reasonable for development to be slow. 

I tried the desktop version this morning. It’s nowhere near as sophisticated and polished as the iPad and iPhone version. It’s pretty basic. But basic is good for me for a writing app. Like John Scalzi said: I just want to type. Nearly all my writing is plain text with very light formatting; I don’t need layout tools or complex formatting. To this day I am uncertain how to use stylesheets. 

I get the idea that the desktop version is still in development and features from iOS will make it in there eventually. But my rule is never to commit to an app based on the developer intentions. I decide whether to commit to the app based on what it does now. And what it does now seems OK to me. I’m not in love yet, but I’ll stay with it. 

1991 New York Times article about the discovery of a manuscript for Huckleberry Finn in Mark Twain’s own hand

“The only thing comparable to it I can think of would be an original Shakespeare manuscript,” Paul Needham, head of Sotheby’s books and manuscripts department, told the Times. 

Mr. Needham said the voluminous corrections and changes — many of them lengthy — throughout the manuscript were clues to Twain’s creative process. “What you see is his attempt to move away from pure literary writing to dialect writing,” he said.

Changing the First Sentence

The manuscript shows that Twain changed the opening lines of “Huckleberry Finn” three times. Twain first wrote, “You will not know about me,” which he then changed to, “You do not know about me,” before arriving at the final version: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’; but that ain’t no matter.”

The manuscript was discovered in a trunk in a Los Angeles attic. The trunk belonged to James Fraser Gluck, a Buffalo lawyer and book collector who was a friend of Twain. The manuscript may have been located at a Buffalo library. 

William H. Loos, curator of books at the Buffalo library, said yesterday that the discovery might be described as nothing more or less than the resurfacing “of an overdue book.” He said he suspects Mr. Gluck, a major benefactor of the library who was instrumental in persuading Twain to donate the Huck Finn manuscript, borrowed half of the manuscript and forgot to return it.

“Mr. Gluck must have taken that part of the manuscript home with him, presumably to read, and possibly forgot he had it,” said Mr. Loos. “He died very unexpectedly and tragically at the age of 45 in 1897, 10 years after the manuscript had been presented to the library. Because there was no title page on it, just a pile of handwritten documents, it was probably simply swept up when his estate was settled, put in these trunks and nobody has looked at them all these years. We greatly honor the memory of James Fraser Gluck, the single most generous benefactor of this library. If he forgot to return this overdue book, we are prepared to forgive him.”

It’s a handwritten manuscript. Twain was one of the first authors to work on a typewriter, but apparently not at the time he was writing Huck Finn. 

First Half of ‘Huck Finn,’ in Twain’s Hand, Is Found – New York Times

(Via Will Shetterly – thanks!)

I’m fooling around with the Notebooks app.

It’s a writing app for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It has a Windows version too.

I think it might be the ideal app for me for nearly all my writing. That includes my professional journalism, personal blogging, creative writing, online comments, and random digital scribbles. It might replace a text editor, word processor, scratchpad app, Scrivener, and much of what I use Evernote for.

Or it might be a dog. I’ve only looked at the iPad version, and that for only a few minutes.

Still. Impressed.


Google removes deceptive anti-abortion ads

Ads for “Free Abortion Clinics” directed to anti- abortion counseling services.

Google’s move is “ridiculous,” says Carol Tobias, President of National Right to Life. “Pregnancy resource centers offer free services to women who aren’t sure what kind of help they want or need.”

Also, searches on “Mexican food” should be directed to Italian restaurants . Because people who search for Mexican food aren’t sure what kind of food they want or need.

Google Removes Anti-Abortion Ads Deemed Deceptive – Wall Street Journal Digits

Attorney: Tech advances make courtroom cellphone ban unconstitutional

The pencil and pad of yesterday has been replaced by the iPhone and iPad of today…. By the state court banning the modern tools of the First Amendment, this case would be similar to one where a state court bans all writing instruments. It would be unthinkable, yet here we are

– Michigan attorney Philip Ellison

The present ban on recording devices in courtrooms dates back to 1965, when they were far more obtrusive than today.

Attorney: Tech advances make courtroom cellphone ban unconstitutional |

Archeologists found a 9,000-year-old hunting camp under Lake Huron

At the time, lake levels were 250 feet lower, exposing a narrow bridge of land running from one side of Lake Huron to another. Scuba-diving researchers discovered an elaborate network of hunting blinds and animal-herding structures.

Ancient hunting camp found beneath Lake Huron | Battle Creek Enquirer |

The original Star Wars cast is returning for Episode VII

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.

But what about James Earl Jones? Darth Vader is dead. And Chewbacca? And the guy who appeared onscreen as Vader?

Directed by J.J. Abrams, which does not thrill me. I loved Lost, but was disappointed in the Star Trek movies.

'Star Wars: Episode VII' cast announced – Boing Boing.

New leadership at Google+ suggests it’ll be integrated into other Google services

That’s just my gut feeling based on the background of Dave Besbris, who replaces Vic Gundotra at the top. Besbris has an engineering background, rather than marketing or management, suggesting he’ll be in charge of integrating and building rather than evangelizing.

Network World: As Gundotra departs, Google+ gets a new leader 

This is a good move for Google. It fits a strategy of breaking monolithic social networks into more focused components, as Facebook is doing with Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. It allows successful Google+ products, like Hangouts and Photos, to get free of the problematic Facebook-like Google+ stream. And it will reduce friction between Google+ and other parts of Google. 

Google has kinda-sorta positioned Google+ as a business social network,  like Yammer or Jive. It’s part of the Google Apps suite. That future is unclear now (which isn’t to say it was clear before). 

Network World: Google+ tremors rattle Apps suite

Of course the US is an oligarchy – we keep electing rich people

Why do the rich and business keep getting their way in public policy, even when their views conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want? One reason is because most of our elected officials are rich. 

Millionaires make up just 3 percent of the country, but they have a majority of the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority of the Senate, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. Working-class Americans in manual-labor and service-industry jobs make up more than half the country since the start of the 20th Century, but only a maximum 2 percent of Congress held blue-collar jobs before getting into politics. 

Alexander Hamilton once argued that working-class Americans see wealthier people as “their natural patron[s] and friend[s]” and that workers know “that however great the confidence they may justly feel in their own good sense, their interests can be more effectually promoted by the merchant than by themselves.” The idea has been with us ever since.

Unfortunately, economic policy just isn’t that simple. Americans from different classes don’talways have the same interests or want the same policies. As pollsters have known for decades – and as Gilens, Page, and others have shown – working-class Americans are more likely to support higher minimum wages, more progressive taxes, and a stronger social safety net. Affluent Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to support hobbling labor unions and giving tax breaks to the wealthy….

People who have always had health insurance, who have no worries about funding their retirements, and who can afford private schools and expensive colleges for their children [decide] policies for the vast majority of Americans who live on shakier economic ground.

Link: Of Course The U.S. Is An ‘Oligarchy’ – We Keep Electing The Rich


More on how email makes us unhappier and less productive

But there’s hope.

At Bandwidth, a tech company with 300-plus employees, CEO David Morken grew tired of feeling only half-present when he was at home with his six children, so he started encouraging his staff to unplug during their leisure time and actually prohibited his vacationing employees from checking email at all—anything vital had to be referred to colleagues. Morken has had to sternly warn people who break the vacation rule; he asks his employees to narc on anyone who sends work messages to someone who’s off—as well as those who sneak a peek at their email when they are supposed to be kicking back on a beach. “You have to make it a firm, strict policy,” he says. “I had to impose it because the methlike addiction of connection is so strong.”

Once his people got a taste of totally disconnected off-time, however, they loved it. Morken is convinced that his policy works in the company’s self-interest: Burned-out, neurotic employees who never step away from work are neither productive nor creative.

Are You Checking Work Email in Bed? At the Dinner Table? On Vacation?

Minnie and I are rejected from participating in a highly scientific and prestigious study

While taking our afternoon walk in the park yesterday, Minnie and I were approached by a girl who looked to be about 9 years old and an older man, presumably her father. 

I took my earbuds out of my ears to be able to hear them speak. Here in the 21st Century, living in a city, I’ve become dubious about being approached by strangers. When a stranger approaches me – even a sweet-looking little girl – I start from a position of wariness. I assume they want me to buy something, generally something of questionable value or else why would they be selling it on the street? Or they’re panhandling. Or they want to convert me to something. 

But this little girl said, all in a burst by rote without leaving space between words, that she was doing a school science project in whether dogs are left handed or right handed and did my dog sit and give paw on command?

Well, Minnie sits on command most of the time. Sometimes she sits when she wants something from us, because she’s figured that sometimes sitting is how to get what she wants. Other times she ignores us. And we’ve never tried give-paw on command because we’ve never had to. Minnie was an early and enthusiastic paw-giver and she’s just stayed with it. We’ve never been able to figure out why she seems to enjoy giving paw so much. If giving paw ever becomes an event in the Westminster Dog Show, bet on Minnie. You’ll clean up.  

While I attempted to stammer out this complex explanation the little girl said, no, dogs participating in the study have to be able to give paw on command. 

B-b-b-b-ut, I said. 

No. On command. 

And she hardened her face and she and the man turned away. 


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to the finger-wagging Olympics

Donald Sterling has at least a decade of history discriminating against blacks and Hispanics. But he gets trapped on tape revealing those beliefs to his girlfriend, and suddenly it matters.

What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?

He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?

Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to the Finger-Wagging Olympics

Elon Musk is suing the government to stop awarding no-bid contracts for national security satellite launches.

The Air Force awards lucrative launch contracts to a sole rocket provider, United Launch Alliance (ULA), on a non-competitive basis.

Musk says it’s a continuing monopoly, unfairly blocking SpaceX from competing, and costing taxpayers billions.

ULA is a joing venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that manufactures Delta IV and Atlas V unmanned, expendable rockets that are currently the only boosters certified to launch high value military payloads at issue in the lawsuit. Musk wants his newer and much cheaper Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets certified and includd in competition for launch contracts.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Sues Government to Break US Air Force’s National Security Launch Monopoly.