The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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.

How is it 6:30?

With tomorrow night having the earliest sunset of the year, it got dark at 4:20 pm—two hours ago. One loses time, you see. Especially with a demo tomorrow. So I'll just read these while devops pipelines run:

Finally, John Seabrook takes a few pages to explain how to become a TikTok star. Hint: do it before you turn 22.

Winter is here

Meteorological winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere today. In Chicago right now we have sunny skies and a normal-for-December 2°C. And any day above freezing between December 1st and March 1st works for me.

Meanwhile:

Finally, on a whim I looked back at my posts from 10 years ago, and I came across this painful memory of debugging an Azure 1.8 deployment. And 15 years ago we got our first snowfall of the season. Ah, memories.

Three photos

Photo number 1: Cassie, from above. (My office is in a loft over the master bedroom, where Cassie has a bed.)

Photo number 2: can anyone give this 1½-meter (5'3") scratching post a good home? I'm keeping it for a friend who went back home to Spain "for 6 weeks" in August 2020. He will come back to Chicago eventually—for a visit.

Photo number 3: a Tweet that made me laugh out loud.

I know that the super-rich in previous eras also had more narcissism than good sense, but watching Musk destroy Twitter in real time makes me wonder if our super-rich are massively stupider than the Gettys and Carnegies, or only significantly stupider.

Self-parody?

The new boss of Twitter, who laid off half his workforce and watched as half the remaining employees quit last night, found the silver lining:

And yes, I linked to the Tweet, because I cite my sources. Kind of like putting a bookmark in a scroll in Alexandria as the fire spreads to the next room, I suppose...

While the site still keeps going, check out the #RIPTwitter memes.

Will Twitter last longer than this head of lettuce?

And as I'm typing this, the BBC News Hour presenter just said they'll have a former Twitter vice president on who says Elon Musk has told everyone to "hold his beer," which sounded perfect in RP.

Scary deployment today

I'm just finishing up a very large push to our dev/test environment, with 38 commits (including 2 commits fixing unrelated bugs) going back to last Tuesday. I do not like large pushes like this, because they tend to be exciting. So, to mitigate that, I'm running all 546 unit tests locally before the CI service does the same. This happens when you change the basic architecture of an entire feature set. (And I just marked 6 tests with "Ignore: broken by story X, to be rewritten in story Y." Not the best solution but story Y won't work if I don't push this code up.)

So while I'm waiting for all these unit tests to run, I've queued all this up:

Finally, one of Chicago's last vinyl record stores, Dave's in Lincoln Park, will close at the end of this month. The building's owner wants to tear it down, no doubt to build more condos, so Dave has decided to "go out in a blaze of glory."

All right...all my tests passed locally. Here we go...