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:
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Also the wifi pumpkin is gibbering away again

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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.

2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture

The 2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture is coming up on October 15th. This year is the first time one of dad’s former students will be giving the lecture. Douglas Harris will be giving a lecture titled “Charter School City: What Detroit Can Learn From New Orleans”:

The changes in New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina represent the most radical school reform in the nation’s history. The state took over almost all schools and turned them over to private charter school operators working under performance-based contracts. Teachers no longer worked under union contracts or with tenure protections. School attendance zones were eliminated. These market-based school reforms increased accountability, school autonomy, and parental choice in ways not seen in more than a century of American public schooling. Harris will show that the reforms led to considerable improvement in a wide range of student outcomes. He will also explain how the lessons for other cities, and for the role of markets and governments, are more complicated than these results might suggest.

Dad supported of school of choice in the 90’s. He was an economist, and economists believe in markets. I think even published an op-ed in the newspaper pushing for school of choice.

I wish I could get his take on the intersection of school of choice and privatization. Now that I have kids, the state of education is suddenly a much more pressing matter for me.

Come by the Mary E Marburger Science and Engineering Auditorium at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, at 7pm on October 15th. The lectures are always interesting and, if you’re on the fence, there’s a dessert reception after. The anecdotes at the start always get me, but it’s nice to hear new stories 9 years later.

I love this story from rachelbythebay about hosting in the late 90’s:

Then there was this little company. They were selling dedicated Linux servers for $99 per month, and promised to put them online within an hour of you ordering them, 24 hours a day. Also, they had “the best support in the industry”, according to them.

It seems like nobody else could crack this particular nut. They couldn’t figure out how they were managing to stay in business. How could they possibly be making money selling all of this stuff for just $99/month? How could they possibly hang a new server in a rack in under an hour, and then install the OS on it, and all of this?

As the story goes, this was the “moat” protecting their business. Nobody else could get into the space since they couldn’t make the math work. This one company kept going and kept raking in the customers.

Then, one day, it changed. Another company figured it out, and suddenly there was competition at the “bottom” — the bare-bones super cheap dedicated server market. What happened?

Well, according to my friends, what happened was either a single full-page color photo ad in an industry magazine, or perhaps a large photo accompanying an article. Basically, someone from the company is shown standing there in front of the actual servers, looking proud. I guess they wanted to show off the fact they used certain chips, or something like that. The picture itself contains enough details to show that there is no magic involved.

What did it show? It seems like it gave away the entire “secret”

Giving away the company’s secret sauce

I worked for a dial-up ISP at the turn of the century. Heady times for the internet.

We had a Sun SPARC server running Solaris that handled Apache web hosting and that thing was a beast. We also had a Debian server running RADIUS (greedo) that never had the right time, and some sort of mail server with POP3 access (no IMAP4). For $100/mo we would sell you 100 MB of shared hosting space (with 1 GB of transfer per month).

You could easily run that entire ISP stack off of a single Raspberry Pi these days.