The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Notes to self

The sun finally came out around 3:30 this afternoon, as a high overcast layer slid slowly southeast. Of course, the temperature has fallen to -11°C and will keep sliding to -18°C overnight, but at least the gloom has receded! January will still end as the gloomiest ever, however, with around 18% of possible sunshine all month, plus whatever we get tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I want to come back to these articles later:

Finally, looking back a little farther (about 13 billion years), the James Webb Space Telescope has picked out some of the oldest galaxies in the universe. And they're really weird.

San Francisco photos

First, on the flight from Dallas to San Francisco, this handsome boi slept peacefully on the floor four rows ahead of me:

Bane is a malamute mix, 11 years old, and here in the SFO baggage claim area, very tired.

Monday morning, I walked over to the Ferry Terminal on my way to the Caltrain terminal at 4th and King. This guy posed long enough for me to compose and take a shot:

I don't know his name, or even whether he's male. Sorry.

Later, in Palo Alto, I stumbled upon this historic site:

That's the garage at Dave Packard's house where he and Bill Hewlett created their company in 1939.

I didn't bring my real camera to San Francisco this time because I thought it would rain throughout the trip. Next time, though.

Catching up at home

New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Arden, just resigned unexpectedly, which is a much more surprising story than any of these I queued up:

Finally, I'm glad to discover that ibuprofen may be more effective than acetaminophen for treating tension headaches, so I will now take one.

Waiting for customer service

I'm on hold with my bank trying to sort out a transaction they seem to have deleted. I've also just sorted through a hundred or so stories in our project backlog, so while I'm mulling over the next 6 months of product development, I will read these:

And my bank's customer service finally got back to me with the sad news that the thing I wanted them to fix was, and we are so sorry, it turns out, your fault. Fie.

Unfortunate computer issues this morning

The Federal Aviation Administration halted all takeoffs from US airports for about an hour this morning after the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system failed. Planes have resumed flying, but the ripples from this morning's ground stop could take a day or two to resolve. Good thing I'm not flying until Saturday.

Also this morning, Chicago's transit agencies released a new real-time train tracker that finally allows commuters to see where (many) of Metra's trains actually think they are. I tested the site on the Metra line I use most frequently only to find that it appeared stuck—until I discovered that, no, the trains had stopped, because one of them hit a pedestrian in Lakeview, just south of me.

I'm glad Metra finally discovered the Global Positioning System just in time for the service's 45th birthday. If only we funded our transit systems the way we fund highways...if only...

The news doesn't pause

Speaking of loathsome, misogynist creeps, former Bishop of Rome Joseph Ratzinger died this morning, as groundbreaking journalist Barbara Walters did yesterday.

In other news showing that 2022 refuses to go quietly:

And just a couple of blocks from me, Uncharted Books will reopen next week after the state closed it down for failing to file a required sales-tax form. For months. They might want to fire their accountants for this, as the state requires every business that has taxable sales to file the "quarterly sales tax report" every 3 months. I hope their soon-to-be-former accountants also filed their income taxes...

Outside the vortex

The world continues to turn outside the Chicago icebox:

Finally, dog biologist (?) Alexandra Horowitz explains how dogs tell time with their noses.

Brace yourselves: winter is coming

We get one or two every year. The National Weather Service predicts that by Friday morning, Chicago will have heavy snowfall and gale-force winds, just what everyone wants two days before Christmas. By Saturday afternoon we'll have clear skies—and -15°C temperatures with 400 mm of snow on the ground. Whee!

We get to share our misery with a sizeable portion of the country as the bomb cyclone develops over the next three days. At least, once its gone and we have a clear evening Saturday or Sunday, we can see all five of the naked-eye planets just after sunset.

Meanwhile, I'm about to start my team's Sprint 75 Review, the last one of 2022, which contains a few goodies we put off because we spent most of our time on client requests. We have a strange habit of doing what paying customers know they want before we add the things they don't know they want.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world:

Finally, director James Cameron ended all debate about whether Jack and Rose could both have survived in Titanic: "Cameron maintains that Jack simply had to die, telling The Sun that 'if I had to make the raft smaller, it would have been smaller.'" Because the story, you see, required it.

Maps and trees

New York City has a huge online map of every tree they manage, and they just updated their UI:

Near the Tennis House in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park grows a magnificent white oak that stands out for its impressive stature, with a trunk that’s nearly four feet wide. But the massive tree does more than leave visitors in awe. It also provides a slew of ecological benefits, absorbing some 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide and intercepting nearly 9,000 gallons of stormwater each year, according to city data. It also removes pollutants from the air and help the the city conserve enough energy to power a one- or two-bedroom apartment for roughly two months.

In economic terms, just that one tree contributes more than $550 each year.

Such fine-grained information is now available for more than 150,000 trees in parks managed by NYC Parks and Recreation via a new living tree guide from the agency. The New York City Tree Map, launched Thursday, is an expansion of the city’s existing street tree map, which since 2016 has enabled New Yorkers to get up close and personal with the 650,000-some trees that line their neighborhood sidewalks.

Hey, Chicago: when do we get one of these?

Finally turning in

We've got a big demo at 8am that we've just put to bed, which means I get to go to bed. While the pipelines ran I came across Cory Doctorow's latest post on how DRM ruins everything:

[In 2002,] we warned that giving manufacturers the power to restrict how you configured your own digital products would lead them to abuse that power – not to prevent copyright infringement, but to shift value from you to them. The temptation would be too great to resist, especially if the companies knew they could use the law to destroy any company that fixed the anti-features in their products.

For brain-wormed market trufans, the digital media dream was our nightmare. It was something I called "the urinary tract infection business model." With non-DRM media, all the value flowed in a healthy gush: you could buy a CD, rip it to your computer, use it as a ringtone or as an alarmtone, play it in any country on any day forever.

Everywhere we find DRM, we find fuckery. Even if your cable box could be redesigned to stop spying on you, you'd still have to root out spyware on your TV. Companies like Vizio have crammed so much spyware into your "smart" TV that they now make more money spying on you than they do selling you the set.

Remember that the next time someone spouts the lazy maxim that "If you're not paying for the product, you're the product." The problem with Vizio's TVs isn't that they're "smart." The problem isn't that you're not paying enough for them.

The problem is that it's illegal to unfuck them, because Vizio includes the mandatory DRM that rightsholders insist on, and then hide surveillance behind its legal minefield.

This all starts with the idea that the problem with "content" is that Congress gave us, the public, too many rights under copyright, and that nickel-and-diming us to buy those rights a la carte would fix this problem. 20 years later, the benefits of this system are thin gruel indeed, and the costs keep mounting.

At least you can still read The Daily Parker for free.

And now, I'm off until the demo.