Thank you.

I’m proud of my race. I built a great campaign, had tons of volunteer support and amazing people joining me, I out-raised everyone, unless you foolishly count self-funding as raising support, and I met and connected with a ton of people. I know my insights and experience would be great on the PSC, but the results are in and sometimes you just don’t win.

I respect the choice of the voters, I congratulate John on winning the nomination and hope he continues to connect with enough voters to beat whichever lunatic the GOP ends up foisting on the public.

Thank you for all your support, and we’ll be seeing each other again.

An Amendment

Should a Governor, elected member of the Montana House of Representatives or Montana Senate have voted for, in the legislature, and signed, in the executive, a bill that becomes law that is found to be unconstitutional by the Montana State Supreme Court, their term in office expires at Noon the next day, and their seat will be filled by a special election that takes place in no less than 45 and no more than 55 days from the termination of their service in office, and they shall not be allowed to hold any elected office for four years. Should the law arise from an override of a veto by the legislature, the legislators that voted for the override shall also be barred for eight years from holding any elected office, while the governor is not affected by this amendment.

If, after the proscribed period has passed, a person is once again elected and then found to have supported unconstitutional bills becoming laws a second time, the person forfeits their right to hold elected office in the state of Montana.

Should the elected officials who voted for and signed laws found unconstitutional already be out of office, no new election is needed, but the termination of service for any other elected office they hold still occurs, as well as the restriction on holding elected office as described above. This includes as representatives to any elected federal office representing any part or the whole of Montana.



This feels right to me. I’m so tired of people who think they can change everything by being evil can get away with it because we have no punishment that really stops them. This would be one. Of course, I can see a bazillion ways this could backfire, but for Montana, it would be awesome.

AT&Teabaggers

It’s once again time to realize that creating monopolies is a bad thing, and we’ve had several weird ones that we broke up in the past. Railroads. Movie studios and their theaters. The Bell system.

Today we’ve got a new one, Amazon, which is both publisher and distributor for many books and because they don’t like libraries (socialist institutions that they are) Amazon doesn’t sell audio books from its own publishers to libraries. This is classic anti-trust behavior and must be broken up. 

We’ve also got AT&T. Now some of you are old enough to remember that AT&T was the Bell System, and are wondering if it was already broken up. It was. But, as evidenced by it’s ridiculous blog post today about zero-rating their own studios, it seems that AT&T didn’t learn its lesson and has instead decided that it will become a studio and a distributor, and that is a problem. It’s, in fact, the same problem that movie studios had in the 1930s, where it appeared that they had colluded together (they did) to control the distribution (which they owned) and the exhibition (which they also owned) so they could extract more money by removing competition. Currently AT&T owns Warner Brothers, and they were attempting to leverage their network to improve their profits by making their stuff “free” andd charging data rates on everything else. That’s illegal.

These are the clear cut cases. The Department of Justice should file and end these immediately. AT&T should divest of any production studio. Comcast should divest of NBC-Universal. It’s the same gig.

And Amazon should be forced to divest of their publishing houses. End of discussion.

Some of you out there are now wondering why I haven’t brought up Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, and they deserve to be investigated for their activities, but to make sure they aren’t leveraging what they do to undercut and destroy others.

Facebook just buys everyone, which is problematic and should result in some divestiture for sure. They should also just be broken up because they actually violate Section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act because they don’t just let someone publish something, they analyze it and apply algorithms to it, causing it to have its best engagement. That’s the key. The algorithms that Facebook, and Twitter and YouTube et al, use to increase engagement actually change the content, and exposes them to legal ramifications for it. That’s the thing. They should be fined under that, because no content exists in a vacuum, and their systems actively make it dangerous. That’s on them, and is outside the protections of Section 230.

Apple seems to know that its services need to cost money and they do charge you a clear amount for them, and it’s generally the same or more as others. That’s fair. The App Store is another beast entirely, and I honestly think that the biggest and fairest investigation should be in on in-app purchases and limiting the addiction of those systems so that they aren’t just basically free money that takes from those who don’t know or can’t stop themselves. But for the rest? I’ve heard a bunch of people complaining about the 70/30 split, which I definitely think is too much to Apple, but I would point out that Apple, when they introduced that split, inverted what was going on at Amazon who did a 30/70 split, which was industry standard. So it’s not like Apple left it where it was. Now it just needs to be revisited, because the systems are still a bit unfair for the small teams and individuals, but does it rise to the level of anti-trust? No.  And for the bullshit cases trying to force Apple to let someone else onto their devices through a side-load or back-door? Nope. You want to have a device you get to control, build one. That’s simple. And yes, that means you use the payment processor that you choose, too. (I would point out that Apple could instead just force everyone to move their transactions through Apple Pay, and offer it everywhere they do business, and probably make the same amount overall, but that’s another discussion entirely.)

Google deserves to be fined a whole bunch for their previous anti-competitive behavior and have a consent decree that stops them from building their services by offering them for free and not keeping them in perpetuity at that level. From email to photo storage to RSS readers, Google has used their size to leverage themselves into new businesses and then gets bored with them and either shuts them down or just ups the pricing to levels that are incongruous with their previous stance, and force people to find new ways to do things. They killed RSS when they killed Google Reader, and that’s a death we’ve not yet come back from. They deserve to have billions wiped from their bottom line for this behavior, and to be restricted from doing anything near it again.

We need to fix how companies continue to manipulate the free market to their own nefarious gains. It’s not hard to see or understand, but damn, it’s tough to do it seems.

The Ridiculous HB 492

Today I had to give testimony at the Montana Legislature because, once again, someone with all the technical know-how of a mushroom decided they know how to operate my business. What a mess.

Here’s my testimony:

Testimony on HB 492

You may want to send testimony as well, because this bill is the absolute worst. To find your legislator, click here. And they need to hear from you.

Transcript

The transcript is below, but it’s just of my testimony. If you want to see the rest of the testimony, it’s online here.

Kev Hamm 0:07
Chairman Skees, members of the committee, my name is Kevin Hamm, and I’m the acting CEO of Treasure State Internet and Telegraph and I rise today in opposition to this incredibly terrible bill. It

Chair Derek Skees 0:15
Mr. Hamm, hold on, please spell your name and then go a little slower. I’m on the old side here.

Kev Hamm 0:21
Kevin Hamm. H-A-M-M, like the cheap beer we’ve all enjoyed.

Chair Derek Skees 0:25
Thank you, sir.

Kev Hamm 0:26
I am the CEO of treasure, treasure state internet and Telegraph and I rise today in opposition to this incredibly terrible bill. Let’s start with the fact that this bill puts restrictions on everyone from consumer to provider that are nearly impossible to do, and that when analyzed invade the privacy of every Montana and in a way that frankly, disgusts me and should discuss to you too. It is the epitome of nanny state interference in citizens lives. From a technical standpoint, we have many concerns about how this could be implemented and where the responsibility lies for blocking this traffic. Let’s start with who is responsible. As it’s putting it on everyone who provides internet in the state. This means that there are multiple layers of checking what you’re doing online, and conflicts that will arise from this, because reasonable people will have different definitions of what is pornography. Famously, the Supreme Court, as Mr. Baker said, has been unable to give a definitive definition of pornography. So I’m not sure how you can expect the ISP to do much better. It’s not like non porn data comes over as ones and zeros. But pornography shows up at sixes and nines, we have to look at every bit in all the packets of all the transmissions of every user, assemble it and make a judgment call. This would require us to look at everything that you do everything. And anything that we blocked or as the bill is written, everything we let through to would have to be documented and detailed and filed. Because we’d be held responsible for what you do. Are you really willing to live in a place like this, you will have no Electronic Privacy at all, not even the very slim bits you have now. And don’t get me wrong, the invasion of privacy that’s possible via electronic means is incredibly deep. The fact is that you agree to a gross violation of privacy when you sign up for a service willy nilly, and give them access to all of your contacts and your phone. But this is far more invasive than that. worse. Given the internet traffic goes over several networks to arrive at your home or office or cell phone or whatever else you have on the internet, your traffic will be analyzed by every ISP, it crosses. So in Montana, you’re looking at something like a minimum of three. And it could easily swell to 10 or more. And we end they would know your entire browsing history. Every app you use all your time online, every link you’ve clicked every video, you’ve watched every bit of text you downloaded, every weird moment, you’ve looked up something you didn’t believe existed or couldn’t conceive of, and we’d have it tied to you. And as close to real time as possible. Think of all the things you’ve had to look up in the last two weeks, plus all the things you did in your leisure time by using your phone, I’m quite sure you don’t really want me to have that information. But this bill doesn’t just give it to me, it requires me to have it and review it and pass judgment on it. Then look, I’m gay, I’m good at judging, but it’s one of our superpowers, I already judged you enough for things I can see without reviewing your internet life. Furthermore, you’re asking for us to do this in real time, without slowing things down for those who choose to be filtered versus those who want unrestricted access. on this front, I have some good news. Because it wouldn’t be slower than an unfiltered internet. Because the way this bill is written, we have to check everything. So everyone’s internet is going to be slowed to a ridiculously low levels in Montana. so slow that we might might as well never bother with broadband because you won’t see those speeds again, we’ll have to hire a team to review everything our customers asked for, again, everything. And that means that you will get it as you get it and you will get it slow. Nothing I can do about that our customers average over an hour of streaming to each service endpoint on a slow day. We’re a very small company, and we’d be overwhelmed with having to watch all of that. But this law would require it, all of it. Remember the last time someone else got a gander at your browser history? That’s the least of it. Worse, how would zoom work? I’m required to make sure that’s not porn, which means I have to watch it in real time. That means your conversations are my conversations. Now some of you might think, oh, they can just encrypt the data and then it can go through just fine. No, they can’t. The way this bill is written, it would require me to be able to identify every bit of traffic on my network. And so because I can’t see encrypted traffic, well, I can see the traffic, but I can’t see what it is. I can’t guarantee it’s not porn, therefore I can’t let it through. So I’m left with only one choice I blocked. So many sites are going to stop working right off the bat because banking is encrypted. But if I can’t identify the traffic, and you’re going to find me for traffic that violates this law, I’ll just stop it can’t even process credit card charges, or use Venmo or the cash app because it couldn’t be porn. And given the results of the results of breaking this law, I’m not taking any chances. So that’s it.

And while there is in the law, the restriction that the information is just for the company, you know for sure that something will come up, and we’ll need to put it in the legal system and the court will review it. And how long do we have to keep it? Where do we keep it? How do we keep it? And does mention of pornography become itself pornography? That sounds like a dumb question. But when you have to describe what’s in the scene, to say why you blocked it or not, you describe it specifically. And then it’s porn text. And that’s a problem as well. My company is the smallest ISP in Helena. And we have data throughput in the hundreds of terabytes each week, and it’s growing every day. This bill would require us to keep copies of everything that goes over our network, incurring millions of dollars in storage costs and untold costs, review and analyze it. And at the end of the day, some of it is still going to get through because we’re human. And perfection isn’t possible. I get that you want to protect children. But the best protection comes from being involved in their lives, and teaching them about respect, the dangers that are available on the internet and the fantasy fallacy. The internet is amazing. But yes, some content can give you. That’s

Chair Derek Skees 6:00
the beginning of your testimony had some good stuff. You’re starting to branch off on to your opinion, please. We’re running out of time. We have a lot to do. So can you eat narrowband your bill or abridge your comments?

Kev Hamm 6:12
Yes, sir. The freedoms that come from an enter an unrestricted internet give us new ways of educating. They allowed this session to happen. So no one I mean, absolutely. No one needs to review your internet usage and question your searches for recipes, cat videos, or whatever else you might be looking for. And I certainly hope you’d understand why. Thank you for your time and please say no to this bill.

Chair Derek Skees 6:31
Thank you, sir. Any other opponents?

Just plus it up

Jason Snell at Six Colors has an interesting question, and while I think he already answered it in a podcast, I have thoughts.

First, the key ingredients for the next AppleTV should be:

  • The new M1 chip
  • An Airport Extreme
  • Two game controllers
  • A reasonable price tag

Now if you take the last two at their most recent prices,$199, $140 (2@$70 for controllers), you have a nice $339 with profits built in, and lots of parts you don’t need. So take those out, and then remix the rest into a new device that looks like the last Airport Extreme but has an M1 and price it at $500. Yes, that’s more than it costs now, but hang with me, this will all make good sense, I promise.

A Good Game Console.

We all know that the AppleTV can function as a game console, and honestly, Apple Arcade is pretty fun. I’m not a gamer, but I went and bought a controller to play on the off chance that I might – and it’s now a fave of mine1. Imagine how much more intense and satisfying the games could be if they were played on a device powered by the M12. But those M1 chips blow the A8 out of the water worse than they do the Intel chips they are replacing in the Macs. They scream. Yet the M1 is the first generation and while yes, it’s awesome, but we all know that the M2 is going to come out this year and power past it.

The pattern that Apple has taken with new products since 2007 is to start with a tock. It’s then onto a tick that has an outside look and new innards, but the innards will change again in a year, while the outsides will not. With the M1 Macs, they started with a tock – same outsides and not every Mac was swapped over. In 2021 I’m betting we see the entire Mac line-up go to the M2, in a couple of variants. Slower for the MacBook Air. Midrange bump for the 13″ MacBook Pro and the Mac mini. Insanely faster for the 16″ MacBook Pro, and straight to plaid for the iMac.

Which leaves them with a still stunningly fast M1 not doing much and ready to be something else. With a market that’s been growing for years, but needs a leader and some marked disruption to improve it.

The M1 has the graphics to drive a 4K screen easily, and it can run Metal really well, and it’s got a massive amount of people building games already for it, so make it easier and more accessible for your customers to play those games. Include the controllers, too, because, damn, the current remote is a dumpster fire in your hand.

Good game consoles, with controllers, cost in the 300-600 range, when all is said and done with them.

A Privacy-First Router.

Let’s be honest, we need a router that actually works, that meshes well3 and actually can be programmed by humans with just their phones. I know that Apple announced partnerships with Eero and Linksys and while Eero makes great routers, they are owned by Amazon and that’s not great, and Linksys’ routers have been meh at best.

Once any router is actually set up they tend to work fine, but the setup is awful and fails often, and I’ve seen them randomly lose their settings because-it’s-Tuesday-and-why-bother-keeping-those-around seems to be how they are programmed. But even once they are set up I don’t know if they are selling my browsing history to some company. Google’s WiFi system and Nest Home systems definitely give them data I don’t really want to be sent anywhere, and while I know that my ISP really does know all my darkest secrets (who uses a VPN at home?) there doesn’t need to be another company with that info just because I go out there4.

My current router is from 2013 and while it’s still chugging along it is going to die—especially after the use we’ve put it through during the pandemic. They usually only last 3-5 years anyway, and while mine was very pricey when I bought it, it’s definitely not WiFi6 ready, and honestly I think it might be missing one of the 80211.whatevers, too. Again, it’s still serviceable, but not what I want to buy to replace it when it dies, and the newer version of it starts at $389, so it’s not exactly cheap either.

I know it’s hard for Apple to justify getting back into the game, but the pandemic changed a lot. We were ok with routers that worked ok, but that’s not true anymore. My company‘s majority of customer service calls turn out to be router failures, and it’s ugly. I recommend a few because they are good (Eero, Audience) and some that are serviceable and will get you through (Linksys, but I’m not linking to them) but none that are great.

We need great routers. Just like we need great monitors. Apple has made both in the past, and it’d be really nice for them to do so again.

A good home router can be cheap, $40 or $80, but won’t cover a house and won’t deal with high-end use all the time. Several Zooms and a bit of Netflix and your going to burn that thing out. So get a reasonable mesh system and again, you’re looking at $200-$400 when all is said and done.

An HomeKit Hub

HomeKit still needs a hub. I think it’s the one thing that my AppleTV actually excels at, and it’s getting better all the time. New lights and switches integrate faster and respond nearly instantly, and Siri has managed to improve its understanding of what the labels and groups and scenes mean, and sets them when asked almost 90% of the time.

Adding new devices and rooms and setting them up with scenes and automations is now relatively easy, and it’s all handled in app, but managed in my AppleTV. I honestly keep forgetting that the AppleTV is the hub because it doesn’t talk to me, my HomePods do, but still, it could have that functionality, and all it really needs are the mic arrays to make it work out of the box. After all, it’s going to be connected to the TV and can speak through it.

Right now, the only HomeKit hubs are the AppleTV and iPad, and the iPad requires you to leave it there to be the hub. And on. Which means plugged in, because otherwise you’ll be on Day 3 and your lights won’t dim because you forgot about it and iPad died. And if it’s plugged in the time the battery will be impacted and it’s a mess. And you’re still talking $140 to $400 for this.

A 3-in-1 Disruptor

The thing that Apple has always exceeded at is owning the whole thing, and the internet service in your house is absolutely part of that whole thing. I want my entertainment and my automated smart home things to be connected and working all the time. We should be able to connect it all and the thing that controls it be from a company that fights for our privacy and shows its work. It needs to just work.

And it could be priced at $400 and it would sell. Just make it.

And let us be entertained and play.

Insurrection and the 14th

First off, this is compiled from my tweetstorm, but it’s probably easier to read here.

Just a couple quick ideas for how the next meeting of the US Senate should go, once our two new Georgia senators @ossoff and @ReverendWarnock are sworn in because it seems that this could be fun. (also hat tip to @gnrosenberg for solidifying the ideas in my head.)

The formality of the new Majority leader is accomplished and we have a 51/50 Dem lead. This is key, and will be necessary first, but is expected and could be as early as January 15th (which would be awesome!) or as late as January 22nd due to Georgia certifying votes. But!

Second order of business: Censure the Seditious 13. This would be everyone who had told the press that they were going to fight the certification of Biden’s win because they wanted to kiss Trump’s ass. Censure takes a simple majority, and “insurrection” is key, because doing this specifically marks them with the word “insurrection” which appears in the lovely 14th Amendment, which you can read in its entirety here.

It’s a thing of beauty!

Why? I’ll tell you!

It’s a thing of beauty because it doesn’t say “convicted of” or “accused of” it simply says “engaged”. And what happens with the censure process? Well, as long as the censure says “Ted Cruz engaged in insurrection” then he did. And the censure says he did. What more do you need? There hasn’t been a ton of case law on this because it’s rare for a sitting elected official to be so fucking stupid, but it’s this timeline so here we are. Insurrection. What next?

Oh let me tell you! 🤗

Back to the 14th Amendment where it has this lovely bit, called Section 3: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

That’s a lot.

Maybe read it again.

Now notice what it does not say? Nowhere in it does it ever say “convicted of” or “tried for” it simply says “engaged” and having the censure from the Senate or the House saying they “engaged in insurrection” is a simple thing. How simple? Censures take…

wait for it…

Censures takes a simple majority to be done. In the Senate that’s 51 votes (which we have) and in the House that’s 218 (which we also have). So they get censured saying they engaged in insurrection and what then? Let’s go to Section 3 again, specifically final line of Section 3: “But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

That’s fancy language for “a supermajority vote can reinstate their ability to hold office”. Guess what neither chamber of Congress has right now?

THAT’S RIGHT! Neither chamber has a supermajority who would vote to let Ted Cruz hold any office again. The Dems wouldn’t do it anyway, but I wouldn’t bet big money that if the GOP even could that they would. But they can’t, so that’s perfect. BOOM. Ted’s career be ded.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

They then do the other 12 Senators and the 130ish Representatives, and guess what?

And then they do Don Jr., Eric, Melania, Ivanka, Giuliani, Wood, et al, and then not one of them can hold office, either. Is it harsh AF? Yes. But it’s justice.

Now, some of you might be saying “Oh, once we go down this path, it’ll be weaponized.” And that’s definitely a concern. But guess what? The GOP has facilitated fascists and we must fight back with every weapon and by removing these people from holding any office we’re removing a cancerous tumor that’s been growing for decades. And go ahead, red states, elect more crazies. The moment they pull this shit again, we fire back. We can’t act like this is easy or fun but it’s necessary and correct.

Every single person who supported the lies put forth by Donald Trump in his brazen attempt to stage a coup and destroy this republic must be removed from office and never allowed to hold one again. There is a clear way to do it.

Make it so.

AVFE

An acronym for Anti-Vaxxer/Flat-Earther, and it’s pronounced as if you are about to energetically argue against ignorance and idiocy only to quickly realize that you cannot fix stupid, so you end up merely sighing heavily as you realize the world is going to just burn to the ground anyway because of the morons around us. “aaaahhhhhhffffffvvvvehhhhhhh”.

You shared “Plandemic” because you believe that shit? Do you want AVFEs? Because that’s how you get AVFEs.

A Nice Tan?

He’s tall. She didn’t jump. She could hear herself breathing, but she wasn’t startled. She didn’t understand why she wasn’t startled. She had locked the door. She clearly remembered locking the door. He’s blond, too. She opened her mouth to ask something, but nothing emerged. He smiled, slightly, a curve to his lips and a spark in his eyes. What beautiful amber, golden eyes. Kate stared into his eyes, losing everything in them.

He didn’t move. Perfect stillness, like a painting that seems real until the stillness takes away the illusion of life, and you’re left wondering how it was created. He looked like that, artistic perfection by tricks of tints and shades and brushstrokes. She could hear his breathing, but his eyes kept her from seeing him move. The light shown around his eyes, sparks of sunlight burst into miniature flickering flowers surrounded him. She stared.

He slowly blinked, a languorous release from an encompassing event. Kate inhaled deeply, holding her breath as she savored that moment.

“Who are you?” escaped before she realized what she was asking. She lurched back to the room, standing still, and finally seeing all of him again. He’s very tall, taller than James. “How did you get in here?”

“I walked through the door,” he gestured to the open door beside her. She blinked, several times, remembering clearly closing the door. She looked from him to the door and back, confusion visibly building in her eyes. It happened quite a lot. This constant memory game of what was real and what wasn’t real, and she was wrong more often than right. Maybe. She really couldn’t recall being right, or feeling right, in so long. James was there, he was perfect, they were in love. He was gone, she was broken, alone, and lost. She’d wake up knowing that he was asleep beside her, and then really wake up to the nightmare where she drowned in their bedding, alone. She’d ripped sheets to shreds. She’d slept at friend’s, on the couch, in her car, in the office. She wandered alone in a crowd for hours, wondering if she’d ever feel again. She’d feel something, somewhere, and then remember that she couldn’t share it with James and would break.

“Kate?” Jules bounded through the doorway, in full mother-hen mode. “What’s up?”

Kate started and gasped, falling backwards to the wall and then sideways into a chair. Jules quickly caught her arm and stopped her from planting her forehead into the carpet.

“That would not be cute.” He smoothed her sleeves and held her shoulders, forcing her to look him in the eye. “You can’t explain away rug-burn on your forehead. The nuns never buy your story.” Kate laughed, slightly, and some of the life returned to her eye, only to fade, as quick as it came.

“Where did he go?” She searched the room, but there was no where for him to hide.

“Dennis? With Miss Hates-his-guts to try to salvage the shit work he did for her. Why?”

Kate kept looking around the room. Jules didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Conference table, chairs, the easel, the windows, the world outside. Nothing to see here.

“Not Dennis. He…” she stumbled over the memory, searching for his name. “I think he said Elijah or something.”

“You think who said ‘Elijah’?”

“The man. In here.”

“There’s been no man in here. Just me and Dennis,” Jules’s right eyebrow shot up, “neither of whom qualify.”

“Queen, I’m being serious. There was a man in here,” Kate’s hands were moving as she talked, helping her to describe what she could remember of him. “A tall man. Big. Gold.”

“Gold? Like the metal?”

“You know what I mean.”

“A nice tan?”

“No.” She stopped, crossing her arms, then twirling a strand of her hair. “Maybe. I don’t know. But he was here.” She pointed to where he’d been standing, right at Jules’s feet.

(I found this in my odds and ends, and I really should probably write the rest of this story, but I have no clue what it is. How delightful.)

Tumblr-dry

or The Case For Verizon to Support Net Neutrality

One of the most fascinating self-destructions lately has got to be Tumblr’s change to not let “explicit material”, or as we adults call it, “porn”, be viewed on the site. Or in the app.

In case you missed the reasoning, Apple did the right thing in pulling the Tumblr app from the App Store when it became clear that Tumblr had child porn out in the open for all to see. For those of you who still support Woody Allen, let me spell it out: child porn is bad. And there was apparently a lot of it being flung about the internet via posts on Tumblr. Who could’ve guessed?

When I heard about this I was both not surprised by Apple’s move and completely flabberghasted by Tumblr’s apparent disregard for what’s on their site. I had thought there was a database of known images that sites could check against to make sure that images or clips from known child porn would be hidden, and the users reported. That something like this exists is, in 2018, completely reasonable. That Tumblr wasn’t using it is completely insane. After all, Net Neutrality doesn’t really apply to content on your own site, no matter who created it, so Tumblr should’ve known and should’ve worked to combat it.

Apple got proof that Tumblr wasn’t fighting child porn, and rightly banned the iOS app, and everyone lost their godsbedamned minds. Apple did the right thing, and in doing the right thing, Apple forced Tumblr to do something, too.

(Here’s where I point out that Tumblr is owned by Verizon, so that you won’t be shocked by WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.)

Instead of doing the right thing, Tumblr did the easy thing: ban anything that might look like porn, up to and included “female-presenting nipples”. In the annals of idiot corporatisms, this is very high on the list. Perhaps peaking out, just a bit, near the top. Unlike Miley’s.

ANYWAY.

Verizon is dumb. Tumblr is dumb. Just dumb. The policy is dumb, the implimentation is dumb, the explanation is dumb, the whole thing, as once said by a great cartoonist, is a “buncha dumbs”. And Verizon owns Tumblr.

Did you know that Verizon owns Tumblr? Yeah, they do. It’s a weird thing, and it sets them up for a nasty set of lawsuits at some point, but Verizon decided that they couldn’t just be a telecom, they needed to own the content as well, that way they can direct people to their content faster, and make more money. Unless there’s Net Neutrality. And that’s the reason that Verizon hates Net Neutrality: Money.

Owning the content is supposed to make Verizon more profitable, and profits make shareholders happy. At least that’s the theory. It’s been the theory since the Bell System was broken up, and it’ll be a theory forever, because, again, buncha dumbs.

Did you know that USWest/Qwest once owned Time/Warner? Did you know that AT&T now owns Time/Warner and also owns DirecTV? And do you know why this stupidity happens? BECAUSE BUNCHA DUMBS.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a 5th Generation Bell Baby. My great-great-grandfather owned a local telecom in Stamps, Arkansas, and that was eventually bought up by Southern Bell, which was part of, and then not part of, AT&T back in the day. My family has, in some way, in every generation, worked in telecom. I own a small ISP in Helena, MT, and I cannot even begin to explain the twisted road that lead me here, and it’s a story for another time. That all being said, I know this business pretty well.

Back to the stupidity. It is toxic and it happens. It’s also cyclic. Here’s how it goes:

  1. The Telecom builds out a bunch of last-mile connections1 in areas where another company will never build because last-mile connections are expensive.
  2.  The Telecom expands pretty rapidly owning all those last-mile connections, because no one else will bring service to those locations.
  3. The Telecom stops building out last-mile connections because some bean-counter ran the numbers and realized that the costs to build don’t create a return in the current quarter, and
  4. The Telecom is publicly-traded and must serve the unending maw of stockholders, and so must find new growth revenue
  5. The Telecom sees the data going over its network, which it stupidly refers to as ‘dumb pipes’2, and thinks it should own that data.
  6. The Telecom buys Content properties, leveraging it’s current worth for some fantastical foolishness thought up by an investment banker. Telecom then owns business it knows nothing about, but now is legally responsible for.
  7. The Telecom is overwhelmed with the crazy at Content property, and gets called out for some shady goings on over there.
  8. The Telecom overreacts and effectively shuts down Content company and loses billions.
  9. The Telecom either figures out an area where it can begin to build out last-mile connections again, or it acquires a smaller, growing telecom, that build last-mile connections.

This happens every time.

That is The Telecom Cycle and it’s been going on since Ma Bell3 was broken up and all the RBOCs4 were forced to compete with other companies along the same terms as any other publicly-traded business.

Now, I’ve already written about why the current standard for publicly-traded businesses is ridiculous, and this cycle is just one more bit of proof. But this has also been a diversion from the main point of this article, which is how Net Neutrality is something that Verizon should be all for, but because it keeps thinking it needs to own content, it cannot have.

You see, when you are just a telecom, what goes over your wire is immaterial to you. You aren’t responsible for content, you can ignore it. And that’s critical. “Why?” you ask. Well, think about the last movie you saw where someone set off a bomb by calling a cell phone and using the ringer as a detonator. If telecoms were responsible for the content, that becomes the telecoms’ bomb.

No, I’m not kidding. Yes, that’s also dumb. But hey, we aren’t here to pick on the law, just to point out where it gets a bit wonky. No one in their right mind would want the telecom to be responsible for the content that is carried over the wire. Hell, look at most of my posts. If your ISP is responsible for the things I’ve said, you better hope you’re on my ISP. (Shameless plug, if you can be on my ISP, you should be. We’re pretty great.)

Mostly you wouldn’t want the telecom to be in charge of the content because they will, as they’ve proven time and again, overreact to any bad actions, and destroy content to absolve themselves from something they should have never put into their portfolio. They are, due to regulations and some history, very afraid of what they can and cannot do, and when they try to appease the stock market, they get into areas that put them afoul of some freedoms they cannot risk. This is that moment for Verizon.

Verizon made today inevitable the day they bought Tumblr. Anyone who’d spent more than 20 minutes on the site could see it was closer to PornHub than Twitter, and at least PornHub is upfront and honest about what it is, and works to keep the skeevies off the site (which, really, Tumblr, how dumb can you be?). There’s no excuse for Verizon doing this, but there’s also no hope for Tumblr now. It’s core as an outlet for the indiscreet and sexual is over, and that’s going to cost it more than the indiscreet and sexual. It’s already damaged the site to the point that many are gone for good. Don’t be surprised when it’s a has-been like geocities.

In all of this, Verizon is the problem. They refuse to enjoy the many advantages they have just being, as they say, ‘dumb pipes’. Being the best at delivering everything on the internet is a lofty goal, and one worth pursuing. Yes, it’s expensive to get fiber-optics to everyone’s home and office, but no one else is going to do it, and you get to be a monopoly simply because everyone else chooses to leave you as a monopoly.5 That’s a very powerful place to be. So never mind, I’m glad that Verizon hasn’t figured that out.

Another Opening Night

Time to fix a thing, my friends! Please copy the bit below and please send an email to mayorandcommission@helenamt.gov with your name on it. Thanks!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHEREAS the current downtown has vibrant pockets of evening events that bring business to the area in the hours leading up to 10pm, and,

WHEREAS the events such as the Art Walk bring people who want to move between the various venues and locations to enjoy the varied multiplicity showcased in our city, and,

WHEREAS on those event nights, people walk between the businesses with their drinks disregarding the current ordinance prohibiting open-containers, and,

WHEREAS those events prove the nature of having an open-container area in the downtown gulch and walking mall is beneficial to the businesses that exist there, therefore,

WE PROPOSE, that the city create an open-container space that is inclusive of the following areas;

•Last Chance Gulch from Lawrence thru the Walking mall and up to Pioneer Park, extending west to include the parking lot on park and the crossings and sidewalks of park from the Library back down to Broadway;
•the parking lot and street west of the Helena Hotel (née Park Plaza Hotel) and the alley behind the Rialto and PowerBlock;
•6th Avenue from the PowerBlock to the Walking Mall;
•Great Northern Boulevard from the Cinemark to the Carousel;
•Front Street from 14th street to Neill;
•Neill crossing from Front Street to the Gulch;
•Fuller Ave from Neill to 6th Ave; Lawrence from Grandstreet Theatre to Holter Museum,

and WE PROPOSE, that the city offer this open-container space during the following hours
•Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 4pm-10pm.
•Saturday, Sunday, and any city recognized holiday: 12 noon – 10pm.

Apple & Accessibility & FCPX – Forgotten Again

Today Apple have released some amazing videos about the great work they do with accessibility. And it is great work, don’t get me wrong. The fact that these abilities are built into the systems of Mac and iOS is perhaps the best sign that Apple is interested in more than just profits, they truly do see their goal of a strong bottom line as being enhanced by being a good corporate citizen. For that I applaud them.

I own a small business, and in that business I made videos for my clients. From commercials to industrials to little fun weird projects, I get to let my creativity flow and madness revel in ideas and explorations. It’s amazing fun, and I really do enjoy it.

Until I have to deliver a final project to a client.

Not because I’m unhappy with the work I’ve done, or because I think it could be better – it could always be better, but then it would never be done – or because I don’t want to leave the project. It’s because I have to deal with Closed Captions.

Actually, I don’t have to, I want to. I have several friends who are deaf or hearing impaired in some way, and while those who can use hearing aids in some format don’t need captions to understand what I’ve created, the deaf do. Badly.

Final Cut Pro is where I produce my video work. I’ve been using FCP since 2003, and FCPX since it was released in 2011. I made the switch to FCPX completely in 2013, and I love it. Except for captions, but  then, no version of FCP has been good with captions at all. Now that we’re in 2017 it’s disheartening to say the least. Way back in 2010 I wrote about how I create and manage captions and not much has changed, except I don’t ever produce a DVD and instead just deliver the .scc file with the MP4 and let the broadcast station deal with the mess on their ingest cycle. It’s pathetic and gross. And in many cases, it means that local production doesn’t get captioned because while I think it’s important, the FCC gives companies at my level and out, and most use it.

Captions can be just text at timecode, which is simple. In their most complex, they are styled, located text at timecode. That’s it. Nothing more. I work in text and titles and timecode every day in every video I do, so there is no reason that this simple function isn’t baked in at this point. Words at timecode. That’s all it is.

That Apple is making their systems and products accessible is great. Xcode grants programmers the ability to build accessible apps, and has from the beginning, which is even better as it makes a massive part of the ecosystem accessible.

That Final Cut Pro hasn’t ever and still doesn’t create closed captions is a smudge on that image.

Updating the phones

Because Ubiquiti can’t put these someplace easy to find:

SipService.apk

UnifiPhone.apk

The ridiculous thing is that I had to type this in because the page it’s on, the links they built, and the dumb involved in that has caused me to lose my mind. But whatever, the links go to their static servers, so it’s not like you’re downloading from me if you come here.

 

 

Things You’ve Said

It seems that with the beginning of school we’ve been given the task of educating a sniveling little trash fire named Robert Saunders who wants really badly to be a member of the Montana House of Representatives. His desire is so strong that he’s given up driving his Mercedes out of the garage of his McMansion and instead has taken to driving a rusted out old truck because he needs to appear authentic – which he obviously struggles with, immensely.

While claiming to be for a woman’s right to choose her healthcare, claiming to be for public education, claiming to be for expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, when he stops at the door of an obvious Democrat, he clearly is not. If you display anything GOP he’ll gladly rail against them all, just as he rails against over-reaching government and regulations that are strangling small businesses. And don’t get him started on taxes, you don’t have that kind of time. No one has that kind of time.

But what’s the worst of it? The worst is Mr. Saunders’ outlook on people he thinks are beneath him, and that’s everyone else.

You see, his mommy and daddy raised him and pay him well, and have enough money to have kept him from ever attending public schools. That’s right, he was home-schooled, so just imagine all the good and wondrous things that have been crammed into his skull, like birtherism and Ark History, along with a sense of entitlement and ego that are bigger than our skies, and comes attached to a set of wits duller than a David Spade movie.

saundersrobert-3But wait, there’s more! Mr. Saunder’s ego is so unbelievable that when his opponent rightfully pointed out his own words, self-written online, well, sad, weak-minded little Robert Saunders had to throw a temper tantrum and call up his daddy’s lawyer to get a very mean letter written and sent to the very mean woman who pointed out the exceedingly shitty things that Robert Saunders has said. When he was asked “Is it a desirable condition that between 40-50% of the members of the US Congress have more than $1 million dollars in assets, when less than 1% of the population of the USA has that level of wealth?” he answered, and I quote:

The Founding Fathers thought so. Our form of government was designed so that only people with a stake in the country’s future could vote.

In the early days, this meant that only people who owned property could vote – just like today, in business, only shareholders in the company can vote.

Likewise, only people who owned property could run for public office. Know why?

Because the Founders (rightly) believed that the people with the most to lose would be the least likely to screw up. People with money have the time and opportunity to educate themselves and a vested interest in doing so. Transients, college kids, and others without a dollar to their name have nothing to lose and are thus extremely unsafe custodians of power, being more likely to “experiment”, often with catastrophic results.

He goes on, you can follow the link here to see it.

This really isn’t that out of range for the GOP as some very strict originalists have taken to calling the GOP home, but this is slightly more to the right than Scalia ever was, and that’s saying something.

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-2-44-30-pmMore to the point, it’s very easy to point out that he did say this. Here’s an image of the profile of the person on Quora and it matches his bio. This is him, and he thinks that only the wealthy should have a say in the governing of the country because, somehow, in his head, he thinks that they are the only ones with something to lose.

And when his opponent pointed this out to a person while out knocking doors, this person reported it back to Robert Saunders the Crybaby of Billings. Then Robert Saunders, the Silver-spoon-fed man-child, cried to his mommy and daddy and they hired a lawyer by the name of Emily Jones, who appears to understand several areas of the law but must have missed the days they covered the concept of Defamation, at least as it applies to public figures.

Let’s remember that because the dimwitted Robert Saunders is running for public office, he has voluntarily made himself a public figure. You’ve noticed, no doubt, that I’ve been using some very fun, colorful descriptions along with his name, and that’s because it’s my legal right to do so. But since it appears his lawyer has slightly less legal insight than I do in this matter, let’s go to the wonderful folks at FindLaw and see how they summarize it:

When an official is criticized in a false and injurious way for something that relates to their behavior in office, the official must prove all of the above elements associated with normal defamation, and must also show that the statement was made with “actual malice.”

You see, it’s that “actual malice” part that’s going to be really hard to prove. In court or even the court of public opinion.

But here’s the best part: Ms. Jones included in her rather nasty letter crying about how mean and unconscionable it was to say these things about the untrustworthy snotbucket Robert Saunders, included a link to the very page on Quora where the maniac said exactly what was quoted above.

Look, you can dislike your opponent, you can want to win at all costs, and you can go hire a lawyer and one of them may write for you what has to be the stupidest letter outside of the idiocy written by the Bundy boy in Oregon. I’ve included that PDF here, so you can read it, and see the legal brilliance shining through.

To the odious Robert Saunders, you can cry and scream and shout and whine all you want, but at the end of the day you have two things against you: 1) you wrote the answer on Quora and will have to stand by what you wrote and how ugly those statements really are; and 2) nothing I’ve written here rises to the level of slander or defamation, as the descriptives are my opinion of you, and the rest are demonstrably things you’ve said, I’m just illuminating them. If you can’t stand having people know what you think, you’d do well to shut up.

And Ms. Jones, to you I say, I hope you reconsider working as the legal equivalent of a mercenary. This letter is atrocious.

These are my thoughts, and this I freely share with you all: I firmly believe you should stand by what you say. And I do.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

slack_rgbIf you don’t know what Slack is, well, let’s see if I can explain it:

  • It’s a communication tool, allowing for group communications (rooms) and private communications (direct messages) and everything in-between.
  • Communication can be text, emoji, gifs, urls, and files.
  • Everything is searchable and, if you’re on a  paid account, that means EVERYTHING from ANYTIME for FOREVER. This has come in handy a few times, which I’ll detail in a minute.
  • It works on computers, both Mac & Windows, as well iOS, Android and the various phones and tablets they power.
  • Notifications are customizable and easily turned off.
  • It’s easy to use, and does some pretty amazing things.

At TSI&T we’ve been using it basically since the beginning of the company. We tried other solutions but they just didn’t work for us. Nothing was simpler, nothing was liked more, and in the end, nothing worked better. And while that seem damning with faint praise, the truth is we put everything through the ringer of dealing with us, and nothing else even survived, while Slack shone like a beacon of happiness in the darkest of nights.

But lately, we’ve evolved and found a new way to use Slack that doesn’t require one of many Slack Apps, this is built in from the get-go, and it’s just two parts

  1. Custom name a room: something like #install-new-client
  2. Add a single-channel guest.

That’s it. Now, when we are doing a massive installation that involves our SuperFiâ„¢ internet service, VoIP Phone Service, Security Cameras, and internal networking with public access, well, we like to have the customer contact involved every step of the way. This is important because in many cases we’re installing service to buildings that have been around for decades, have intricate or interesting access issues, have multiple issues with construction that might have been up to code at some point in the past but is surely not that way now, and could just have unexpected surprises or timing issues. By having a client inside our Slack we can discuss all of this, in real-time, and get answers to questions, adjust scheduling, buy materials, etc., and we don’t have to chase down clients via phone, or email or actually stopping by their desk because they’re at least as busy as we are and haven’t gotten to the 40 bazillion emails sitting in their inbox yet and why isn’t there hot coffee who the hell drank it all and where did my pen go andwhyisthisthefontwe’reusingonthisaddidsomeonegoblind?!

*ahem*

Anyway, we’ve started this practice and already it’s sped us up on projects. If you’re still using email and phone and text and smoke signals and postcards and ponies to communicate, it might be time to cut yourself some Slack.

And if you like what we’re doing at TSI&T, you might consider investing.