RexBlog.com http://www.rexblog.com Rex Hammock's RexBlog.com Sun, 06 May 2018 23:32:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Bicycle Commuting Calculator http://www.rexblog.com/2018/05/06/52453 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/05/06/52453#respond Sun, 06 May 2018 23:31:39 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52453

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For the past five or so years, the phrase “transportation and fun (but not exercise*)” has been my standard answer to the question, “Why do you commute to work on your bike”?
 
After checking out this Kiplinger “bike commuting calculator,”** I’ve decided to add, “to save $2,000 a year” to the list.
 
*I’ve found that calling something “exercise” sucks all the joy out of it.
 
**While their methodology for calculating upkeep and bike depreciation seems accurate, they don’t include the cost of the baseball (or playing) cards you’ll need to motorize the back wheel spokes of your bike. Confused? See: “spokecard” (https://goo.gl/MdLc1y) Gallery of 500+ spoke cards: (https://www.flickr.com/groups/spokecards/)
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YouTube’s Video Pickers http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/24/52445 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/24/52445#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:22:56 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52445

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If you’ve seen any of the early episodes of the TV series Babylon Berlin, you might understand why I thought of the character Charlotte Ritter’s temp job as a photo reviewer at the Berlin police station when I first saw this article about YouTube’s AI helping the company pull down 6.5 million videos in Q1 2018.

YouTube said the videos were “mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content.” (Another 1.5 videos were removed, but not before they had been seen by a few YouTube viewers.)

Before introducing AI into the review process, YouTube said it would take 10,000 people to review and remove such a volume of videos.

Why did this make me think of the character on Babylon Berlin?

Even though the series is set in 1929, Ritter has the exact same job as YouTube’s Artificial Intelligence.

(via recode)

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HQ-2 Miss Congeniality http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/20/52436 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/20/52436#respond Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:26:09 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52436

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Conference Board research suggests Boston and Washington, D.C. metro areas are the “most likely candidates” to win Amazon’s proposed second headquarters (HQ2).

They based their prediction on “real-time labor demand and advertised online job vacancies among the 20 cities vying to land.”

Quote from MassLive.com:

Communities on the 20-city shortlist that ultimately do not win the $5 billion economic-development prize can still market themselves as tech-friendly cities, The Conference Board report states.

“All cities on the shortlist likely possess many of the key attributes Amazon seeks,” the report concludes. “Win or lose, they are able to promote and advertise themselves as a good location for start-ups and technology companies looking to expand or relocate.”

Also called, “the participation award.”

My prediction is Northern Virginia.

I don’t predict Nashville.

However, I do think Nashville is a good location for start-ups and technology companies looking to expand or relocate. (See quotation #2.)

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It’s a Big World, Afterall: Earth View from Google (Chrome, Firefox Extention) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/17/52428 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/17/52428#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:26:12 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52428

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Via Lifehacker | Visit New Places Every Day in Your Browser with This Google Earth Extension.

“Not every Chrome or Firefox extension you use has to be one-hundred-percent dedicated to productivity or utility. Sometimes, it’s just nice to look at something pretty. And in the case of Earth View from Google Earth (Chrome, Firefox), I don’t really care if it eats up my browser’s memory or otherwise impacts its performance in any way. It makes me happy, and it’ll make you happy too—exactly why this is our Extension of the Week.”

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National Geographic’s Most Significant Redesign in Two Decades http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/16/52422 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/16/52422#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 02:46:24 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52422

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Quote | via Folio:

National Geographic’s May issue (on newsstands April 24) will mark the unveiling of its most significant redesign in nearly two decades, increasing the quality of its paper stock, introducing a brand new front-of-book section, and creating even more room for the photography and visual storytelling that have long made up the brand’s DNA. Far from being born out of a desperate desire to survive in print—newsstand sales are actually up 16 percent this year, bucking industry trends—creative director Emmet Smith prefers to view the changes as a “proper evolution,” rather than a full-scale redesign.

More | Foliomag.com, National Geographic Unveils Redesigned Print Edition

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Looks like Facebook is cutting back on my user profile data http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/12/52417 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/12/52417#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 14:58:30 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52417

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Looks like Facebook is cutting back on my user profile data. 

However, I’d like to attend that session on the fundamentals of vacuum physics.

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Tale of Two First-time Senate Testimonies (and One More) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/10/52409 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/10/52409#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 21:41:35 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52409

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Today (April 10, 2018), Mark Zuckerberg testified before a Senate committee for the first time. “His performance will be critical to the company’s future,” writes Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times

Twenty years ago last month — on March 3, 1988 — Bill Gates made a similar first-time appearance before a Senate committee, described by the Times’ Steve Lohr as “a spirited defense of his company’s business practices…and portrayed Microsoft as the standard bearer of the nation’s high-technology economy.”

Unlike Zuckerberg, Gates, who was 42 at the time, left any corporate remorse in Seattle.

If you can recall that era, it was during the time when Microsoft was defending itself against an antitrust suit by the Justice Department and a rising chorus of criticism that it was abusing its considerable power in the marketplace.

Quote from Gates to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“Will the United States continue its breathtaking technological advances? I believe the answer is yes — if innovation is not restricted by the government.”

Compare that quote to Zuckerberg: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg said. But pressed on whether Facebook should be regulated more, Zuckerberg said only the “right regulations.”

A lot has changed since March 3, 1998.

For one thing, Gates became a full-time philanthropist and seems to have become a more likable guy. And the specific sins of Microsoft that brought about that hearing — and a later settlement — seem less important considering that Microsoft wasn’t a very good creator of browser software.

But history doesn’t seem to recall all the startups Microsoft killed on its journey to becoming, well, Microsoft. Those companies could have taken us in all different kinds of journeys. Or who knows?

Zuckerberg says that regulations will be okay as long as they are the right regulations.

That’s sort of what Gates said, but without that part about regulations being okay.

And how about this for an absolutely irrelevant sidebar

It’s easy for me to recall the day Gates first testified before a congressional committee. That’s because it was my first time to testify before a congressional committee, also. And it was the same day in the same building. And yes, I wanted to leave the hearing I was in to go see the hearing that was getting the same kind of coverage Zuckerberg is getting today. There was no line waiting to get in our hearing room.

I testified before the Senate Banking Committee. (See photo below.)

I was speaking as a small business owner who couldn’t understand why a small business couldn’t earn interest on money in a checking account. At the time, banks could pay interest on individual checking accounts, but not on a business checking account.

I don’t think Bill Gates had ever heard of my issue. Frankly, not too many small business owners had either.

I’m holding that stack of papers — nice touch, huh? — to show that it was easy to “sweep” money back and forth from checking and business accounts, but the accompanying mailing and paperwork was ridiculous.

I don’t recall exactly how that issue was ever resolved but I think it had something to do with Microsoft software.

March 3, 1998, Senate Banking Committee

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Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? (Spoiler Alert: No) http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/06/52392 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/04/06/52392#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 17:01:31 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52392

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If you are reading this sometime in the future (say, anytime more recent than April 4, 2018), you may recall a week in 2018 when, as described by NYTimes.com reporter Nick Wingfield, “President Trump has pointed his Twitter arrows at Amazon over what he insists is a bad deal for the United States Postal Service.”

Trump, who, granted, is never a stickler for facts, has been blasting the U.S. Postal Service for the way they charge Amazon, “(that costs) the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

While the details about the Amazon-USPS deal are not public, some of the available evidence suggests that Amazon has been a boon to the Postal Service.

As Hammock Inc. has managed, on behalf of our clients, the mailing of millions of individual magazines and other material during the past 27 years, I have been an interested observer of the challenges and woes the USPS has faced across that era.

Ten years ago, the USPS handled the shipment of 212 billion pieces of mail. Last year, that number had dropped to 149 billion. (Look in your email inbox or text message client and you’ll understand why.)

The reality is that the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service. Bloomberg has one of many articles that explain why.

The short version is this: While email has crushed snail mail, the business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008.

Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages. Do you think the USPS loses money on this? No way.

But there is no doubt that the USPS loses money — like $2.7 billion on revenues of $69.6 in revenues in its last fiscal year.

Moreover — and dating back as far as I can recall — the USPS faces mind-boggling obligations related to its retirement pension. In effect, it is bankrupt.

Most analysts view Amazon’s use of the USPS to ship its products as a boon for the service.

Quote from NYTimes.com:

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

The Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Where did Trump’s claim come from (other than his hatred of the Washington Post and, thus, its owner, Jeff Bezos.)? See Snopes.com.

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Scientists Prove Cyclists Are More Awesome Than Those Who Don’t Bike http://www.rexblog.com/2018/03/12/52378 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/03/12/52378#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 22:00:14 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52378

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Okay. Perhaps that headline is a bit hyperbolic.

However, it does turn out that according to 100% factual news from NPR that Ponce de Leon was looking in the wrong place for the fountain of youth. He should have checked out a bike shop. That way, he would have lived about 400 more years for bicycles to be invented.

Listen to this if you don’t believe me. (Except the article doesn’t mention Ponce de Leon.)

Quote

“What we found in the cyclists was that they had as many of these new T cells just coming out of their thymus as a 20-year-old, which means they should be better protected from all sorts of infections.”

Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
The University of Birmingham (England)

While it’s a great article, there’s one thing wrong with it:

Reporter Allison Aubrey makes it sound like the word “exercise” and the word “bicycling” are synonyms.

I ride a bike around 2,500 miles a year. (Unless it’s a good year and I ride more.)

Of those 2,500 miles, I ride exactly 0 miles for exercise.

Not even one.

In fact, I only have one rule for bicycling: Never do it for exercise.

For exercise, go to the Y and take a spin class. Maybe throw in a hot yoga session while you’re at it. I once did those two things back-to-back and immediately threw up.

For exercise, maybe you should buy one of those $2,000 Peolotons and then pay $40 a month to have some guy whose muscles have muscles make you ride so hard, you immediately throw up. I did that once, also.

That’s exercise.

There are only two reasons to ride a bike.

1. Transportation.
2. Fun.

When you say you are riding for transportation, it makes you sound like you are doing something productive.

You can say things like, “I can get four bags of groceries in my Ortlieb panniers.”

Or, “I can commute to and from Jeni’s ice cream and eat a large cone with two scoops of milk chocolate and salted caramel ice cream.”

Once I tried riding a bike for exercise, but I soon quit because I’m not a fan of exercising…or spandex.

I have not yet found a reason to quit something as fun as riding a bike.

And since I’m not aging, I’ll probably not quit for a long time.

 

Photo: Some bike-share bicycles in Milan. Note the cobblestones. They aren’t fun to ride on.

Warning: Earworm ahead:

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Tweetdecking is Either a New Buzzword or a Doomed One http://www.rexblog.com/2018/03/12/52374 http://www.rexblog.com/2018/03/12/52374#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:42:23 +0000 http://www.rexblog.com/?p=52374

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I’ve often said that if you try to game Google for SEO purposes, you are going up against the best engineers in the world. And since the Goose that lays the Golden Google eggs is the quality of search results, anything that is done outside the parameters of what Google approves of is like asking Google to turn you into invisibility.

Twitter seems to be understanding that approach…finally. Seems like they started crushing something called “tweetdecking” over the weekend.

via BuzzFeed:

Tweetdecking, as it’s called, is an explicit violation of Twitter’s spam policy, which does not allow users to “sell, purchase, or attempt to artificially inflate account interactions.”

Still, Twitter has previously struggled to crack down on these accounts.

After a BuzzFeed News story uncovered the practice of tweetdecking in January, Twitter announced new spam-fighting changes to Tweetdeck, including removing the ability to simultaneously retweet a tweet across multiple accounts.

Tweetdecking is over. Our follower gains are gonna diminish,” Andrew Guerrero, a 23-year-old tweetdecker in New Mexico, told BuzzFeed News after Twitter announced the changes in February.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

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