Video of the 2018 Harold Hotelling Lecture

Lawrence Tech’s 2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture is up on YouTube:

Dad was on board with school choice, and it turns out that he and Dr. Harris discussed this when Dr. Harris was dad’s student. I enjoyed the nuance that Dr. Harris brought to the topic as well – something deeper than “markets are good” or “government is good.” Around the 22:00 mark he goes into the challenges in getting benefits of an free market in education:

As always, the stories at the start of the lecture are a highlight for my family and I, and I’m grateful to all the people at Lawrence Tech for organizing it each year.

The Downside of a Spotify’s Free Google Home

Spotify is giving away a free Google Home Mini to any account with the family plan. That’s pretty neat. And they are doing it for new and existing users, which is great because it doesn’t make the mistake of punishing existing customers in the pursuit of acquisition.

It makes sense for Spotify – get folks to upgrade from the $10 personal plan to the $15 family plan. It makes sense for Google – they are throwing tons of money to be the smart speaker/display platform in your home. (Aside: I have a half-written blog post about why I switched from Alexa to Google Home, but the tl;dr is that being able to Chromecast Spotify was the deciding factor)

There’s no catch – a Google Home Mini ostensibly costs $50 and you get it for $0. So what’s the downside?

A person at my coworking space just posted this in Slack:

Last night someone got into my Spotify account to upgrade it to a Family Plan to take advantage of a promotion for a free Google Home Mini. I was able to cancel that upgrade (and got the free Home Mini too!), but definitely keep your eyes peeled for any unauthorized access

That brought up other stories about Spotify getting hacked, something that seems to happen with anecdotal regularity. Now there’s a financial incentive for the hacker: they can score a free Google Home that they can turn around and re-sell. You start paying $5 more per month so that hacker can re-sell your smart speaker.

As always, there are 2 things you should be doing to keep all your accounts safe:

  1. Use a unique password for every site, which means using a password manager. If you are all-in on Apple, iCloud Keychain does a decent job too. Mozilla is making inroads here too.
    Yes it’s a pain to start and change your passwords, but you absolutely need to be doing this. Hackers have databases of passwords from so, so many sites. Seriously, click that link and look at all the sites that have been hacked. I guarantee you use at least one of those sites. The hackers will try your password from those sites on other sites and if you reuse your passwords, you will get hacked. How sure are you that you don’t reuse that hacked password?
  2. Use 2 factor authentication wherever you can. Preferably with an app instead of SMS. Sadly, Spotify doesn’t support 2FA, which probably is why lots of folks have stories about them getting hacked.

If you do these 2 things, you will be miles ahead of most people.

Visualize California Wildfires

Map of the 2018 Camp Fire size over Detroit

I really appreciate journalism that helps me empathize with people affected by tragedy. That’s what caught me when I saw this map from NBC News:

Overlay of the California Camp Fire on a map of Detroit.

I can read “200 square miles” in a news article and that sort of washes over me. But the map makes me stop and consider that this is going from Redford to Grosse Pointe. From Dearborn to Warren. People in the area know that is a huge swath of land. I can’t imagine being stuck in evacuation gridlock, trying to get from Hamtramck to Livonia with wildfires all around me.

Then I saw the drop down and realized there are more fires.

Election Day Should Not Be A National Holiday

One of the nice things about importing decades-old blog posts is you can see how wrong you were how much you’ve grown. Take this post from April 2004: Why isn’t Election Day a national holiday?

On the surface it seems like a decent idea. Democracy is good, holidays are good, what’s not to like? More voters because you can’t use work as an excuse!

Here’s the thing though – do you get Columbus Day off work? Veterans’ Day? Washington’s Birthday? Those are all federal holidays but if you still have to work, does it help voter turnout?

There are some things that actually make voting better. Mailing everyone a ballot makes it actually easier to vote. Automatic voter registration makes it easier to vote. When you make it easier to vote, you hear more voices at the polls and get better outcomes.

So let’s put the holiday thing on the back burner and focus on something that matters more than celebrating democracy: sharing democracy with every citizen.

Talking Gutenberg at West Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup

I will be speaking at the November meeting of the West Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 to talk about the Gutenberg block editor.

WordPress 5.0 is scheduled to ship on November 19th, and will have the Gutenberg editor as the default. I’ll be leading demoing Gutenberg, leading an informal discussion, and answering questions. If you use or manage a WordPress site, you need to know about Gutenberg.

The meetup will be at 6:30pm at the Canton Public Library. Seats are limited, you’ll need to pre-register for free at Eventbrite if you’d like to come. Hope to see you there!

🎃🤖

Two WiFi pumpkin robots from friends: Ryan’s Pumpkin Pi shoots flames:
Les’s makes faces:
View this post on Instagram

Also the wifi pumpkin is gibbering away again

A post shared by Les Orchard (@l.m.orchard) on

   

Continuity Camera on macOS is Magic

This is “it just works” territory stuff, in a way that hasn’t just worked in the past. Continuity Camera is a feature in macOS Whatevercodename2018 that lets you use your iPhone as a camera for your Mac. Preview uses this to let you quickly scan documents.

When you open Preview and choose the “Import from iPhone” option, your phone instantly opens up with a scanner that automatically recognizes documents:

The only tap I made on my phone was to hit the Save button at the end. After you hit Save on your phone, a PDF opens on your Mac with your scanned docs.

Screenshot of Preview with the scanned documents.

This works for pretty much anything I would want to digitize in a given month. I posted a shorter version to my coworking Slack and heard back

Whoa. That’s the first handoff-like feature that just worked, first time, without any trouble. Amazing.

I know you can scan documents with Notes and other apps, but this has so much less friction for me.

Arbitrary Stupid Goal

I got an email from my library that Arbitrary Stupid Goal was ready to be picked up. I didn’t remember reserving it. I couldn’t even remember hearing about this book.

I’m glad that me-from-the-past gave me this surprise homework assignment.

Cover of Arbitrary Stupid Goal

After reading the first pages, I realized I had reserved it after seeing those same pages on Kottke.org. Like Jason, I tore through the book.

I don’t have any particular fondness for Shopsin’s. Outside of Ken’s recent passing, I had never heard of it. As an outsider, the book still drew me in. I wanted to know everything about Shopsin’s, starting with the menu.

Arbitrary Stupid Goal is part memoir of her father’s restaurant, part eulogy to family friend Willoughby, and part exploration of life. It reads a bit like the real-life counterpart to one of the Bob’s Burgers kids. Underneath it all is a love letter to New York City and Greenwich Village.

Rustic Campsites in Michigan

MLive’s 25 of Michigan’s must-visit rustic campgrounds is great, except for one thing. In a state as big as ours, location matters. So I mapped the campsites on that list.

It’s pretty clear that almost all the rustic campsites are within a few hours of the Mackinac Bridge (the bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas). It would be nice to find some more rustic camping options closer to home. Still, a good bucket list to have around for inspiration.

Colophon: This post was proudly created in Gutenberg, however the map embedding was done with a Custom HTML block and the iframe from Google. There are a couple plugins that allow for embedding maps, but I chose not to fiddle with them.