Thursday, December 18, 2014

Interview with John Hunter - on Meet the Blogger Series

I was interviewed for the Meet the Blogger Series, read my interview: Meet John Hunter of
At that time (2004) I had my Curious Cat Management Improvement website. I decided to start with a science and engineering blog (I worked for an engineering association) and one for management improvement. I wasn’t really sure I would have that much to say about science and engineering so I wanted to give both a try to see if blogging would be a good fit for me. I started on blogger to get a quick and easy feel for how it would go and if I wanted to continue.

After a few months I decided I liked it and launched self hosted blogs using WordPress: Curious Cat Management blog and Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog.

As part of the launch of the self hosted blogs I also decided to also launch a 3rd blog: Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog. I have been active with those blogs for 10 years now.
Over time the topics of those first 3 blogs, and one new one topic (travel), have remained the main topics that I have an interest in blogging about; still I have launched several new blogs in niches under those topics, and a couple outside them. The Curious Cat Blog Network has grown to 18 blogs.
I started this blog a bit after those first 3 self-hosted blogs; to post stuff that didn't fit well in another blog. And as you can see I am still publishing it 10 years later. I left all the old blogs in place - I believe strongly in the concept that web pages should live forever. I repurposed my blogger management blog to post some of the management improvement related comments I make on other blogs.

John Hunter at Candi Sewu in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. See more on my travels in my newest blog: Curious Cat Travel Destinations.

Read the entire interview.

Related: Interviews with John Hunter related to blogging, digital nomad life - Escaping to Greener Pastures - Living Abroad - Quick Thoughts on the Risks of Violence while Traveling

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Deleting Apps on iOS When the "x" is Missing

I recently bought an iPad mini. Unlike many people that say they interface is wonderful I find it to be annoying and lacking and not up to what I expected from computer applications 15 years ago, forget what I expect today. But I guess I am in the minority.

Well I couldn't delete an app. I followed the instructions

  1. "click" an icon and keep holding it down until all the icons "vibrate"
  2. "click" the x to delete what you want (note Apple doesn't let you delete the apps they don't want deleted - their default apps - I guess the same idea as them forcing some music streaming junk in the next version of extremely bloated iTunes, that seems to be verging on becoming unremovable crap-ware)
Anyway not only Apple's favorites but all apps didn't have the x. I couldn't find anything online explaining what to do.

I went to a Apple reseller store and they were able to figure out that in settings there were restrictions set. Why the Ux doesn't have the x and then when you use it gives a challenge to prove you can override the restriction is beyond me. But lots of the Ux decisions they make in iOS are beyond me.

Anyway what you have to do is go into settings and then restrictions then type in your passcode then you can delete it. You also then can see the restrictions and turn some off if you want. I am sure I got some advice on making things more secure (the security setup seems horrible to me - the Ux makes being secure a real pain so encourages bad security). And stuff like fingerprint "password" is lame. "fingerprint" is username not password. But whatever, that should let you delete stuff.

Related: Bad iTunes Ux and How to Submit a Podcast to iTunes - Use Urls – Don’t Use Click x, Then Click y, Then Click z Instructions - Poor Web Site User Experience (Ux) for Stock Market Data (post is from over a year ago but the problem remains) - Gobbledygook (bad password usability)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

How to Turn Off Google Hangouts on iPad Mini?

How do I turn off Google Hangouts on my iPad Mini?

I don't understand how smart phone and tablet apps seem to miss super basic functions and that people actually find using such apps acceptable. Either there is some UI feature that lets you deal with super basic stuff (like turning off something you don't want bothering you) that I can't see or I think people are crazy to accept such broken software as acceptable.

As far as I can see the only way to turn Hangouts off is to uninstall it. So their model seems to be, if I wanted to turn my car off I had to sell it. Then when I want to use it again I have to buy it, reregister it, reset… What kind of idiocy is this? I would say this is impossibly stupid and I must be missing some setting somewhere, but there are not that many buttons to push, it seems like I have tried looking everywhere numerous times and uninstalling is the only way to turn it off. But maybe I am wrong, please tell me how to do so, if I am?

Also having used several apps now for awhile, missing super basic things seems common. It seems like apps have reverted to failing to do super basic stuff that even bad software has done for a couple decades so having to un-install in order to turn something off, while amazingly lame, may actually the true level of service provided by the app.

Also how the bleep to you stop nagware idiocy on items you purchase asking you to do their marketing for them by posting app reviews? It is extremely common in the few apps I use to have this nagware that hasn't been seen in a decade in the software I use (I used to get nagware for freeware software over a decade ago).

Related: Complicating Simplicity - If Tech Companies Made Sudoku - Bad Visual Controls in Software

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Talking Out Decisions

I am someone who is much more comfortable working, thinking, deciding, traveling etc. alone. I rarely feel lonely or the need to talk things out with someone or get advice. But, that still doesn't mean, never. And some of those times when I seem to have trouble just acting don't seem very complicated or something that logically I need assistance to decide. I think it is just an emotional reaction that occasionally hits me (and I guess hits others much more). I am getting ready to start a nomadic existence (I am talking about such an existence at BarCampJB this weekend). I am delaying buying my tickets for no good reason I can think of. The people I would talk to are not going to give me any insight that is going to change my choices. Yet, I feel that lack of talking it out with others is contributing to my delay. I am sure glad I don't have this indecisiveness often. That would really be annoying. People are weird. There is also a somewhat related situation of motivation on a trip. I enjoy traveling alone. There are advantages to traveling with friends or by yourself. For me the advantages of being alone are far greater, most of the time. There are some times when I wish someone were with me when I don't feel motivated to get up and go do what I wanted to do when I planned on the trip. But that is fairly rare. I find meeting up with people for a bit, lets me get the advantages of traveling together, but lets me retain the freedom to spend most of time and energy the way that I want. Actually part of the reason I am going into nomadic mode is my plans to travel from my base in Malaysia ended up resulting in less travel than I wanted. So this is my new strategy to get in more travel. We will see how it works.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Letting Mom Enjoy the Results of Her Work

I wasn't the easiest child to raise. I was pretty good as far as avoiding any real trouble. But I was quite a stubborn and argumentative kid. I still am really, but when in control of my own life, I can avoid much of what would annoy me (which sometimes wasn't so easy as a kid) - thus I am able to avoid situations where my behavior might not be so enjoyable for others.

I think I turned out pretty well. Most of that credit goes to my Mother and Father. Once parents can no longer stick drawing and report cards (I don't think my parents ever did the report card one - that would be too crass I think) on the refrigerator they don't have many options to get good feedback on their kids. I guess if you lived in the same town that might be a bit different, but for me that isn't the case.

I suppose there are some instance where parents can bask in the glow of their efforts: at their child's wedding, if they design the iPhone, become a doctor, etc.. That is fine, but nothing that really works for me, sadly. Having grandkids is the gift that keeps on giving in this realm, but again I am lacking.

One of the things I do is forward some emails to my Mom that I know she would appreciate. I feel a bit funny about it because what she is going to appreciate is people saying good things about me. And sharing people saying good things about you is considered a bit gauche isn't it (it sure feels that way). Still I know it really does make her happy to read such things.

I have had several such instances recently, which is what made me think of writing this. It is a bit funny, and can feel a bit odd, reverting to behavior that seems reminiscent of when you were about 8 years old. But I really do think it is a way that can make parents appreciate all the effort they put into making you successful.

Related: Kittens Reminding You to Thank Your Mother - Mother Polar Bear Giving Her Cub a Helping Paw - Encouraging Curiosity in Kids

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Hootsuite Scheduled Posts Fails When urls include /@

When adding Tweet via Hootsuite schedule posts the Tweet was schedule without the url. I was trying to add a Medium url (Twitter also used to have /@ in some urls). I guessed the @ symbol was likely the cause of the failure. I did just tiny bit of experimenting and it seems as though Hootsuite removes the link if /@ are included in that order (but more experimenting - or looking at the code used by Hootsuite should be done - I spent less than a minute on it).

Given how popular Medium is I am amazed Hootsuite allows this problem to slip through software testing and use. Maybe Medium recently switched the url or Hootsuite just pushed some new code that broke it.

Luckily you can just remove the @ from the url and then it works (Medium just redirects to the url with the @ in front of the username).

But this is a lame error by Hootsuite. I would imagine it will be fixed quickly - so this post won't make sense anymore (but occasionally big sites fail to do obvious stuff - for example Google still fails to use human readable urls or have even mildly acceptable help).

Related: Coping With Bad Web Page Layouts - Use Urls Not "Click x, Then Click y, Then Click z" Instructions - Bad iTunes Ux and How to Submit a Podcast to iTunes - Poor Web Site User Experience (Ux)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Banks Continue to Push for Insane Special Favors (and Sadly Get Them)

The lack of rules that allowed the banks to gamble and go bankrupt but for the taxpayer (and saver) bailout and created the great recession was a huge failure. Caused mainly by our electing people that don't comprehend the issues they need to make decisions about. And also those same politicians selling out to those giving them lots of cash, investment banks for example.

The banks have been extremely successful at having government tilt the economy to push billions into the banks pockets every year (also deducting billions from savers with artificially low interest rates). The banks have also managed to buy or trick those we elect into doing very little to stop bankers from doing exactly what they did in the first place.

Of course if you are those bankers, why would you change. Get billions in bonus with government granted welfare. Then gamble and take billions in profits for winning gambles. Go get a bailout again when your gambles eventually fail.

They fight against each tiny step to return to a more capitalist economy (which these enormous banks are the antithesis of). They argue with every attempt to have banks be safe and split of speculation to entities that won't get taxpayer bailouts as soon as their gambles fail.

Banks say funding rules will make key equities trades more expensive
The banks are making a last-ditch effort to modify the Net Stable Funding Ratio, seen as the final plank of the "Basel III" banking reforms that seek to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. … "By unnecessarily increasing the funding cost for banking organisations' equity market intermediation activities, the revised NSFR would also potentially force such activities into the largely unregulated shadow banking system, increasing systemic risk."
They have already won so many efforts to eliminate any meaningful reform. But they keep pushing for even more. Look you immoral cretins, you don't have the right to ruin tens of millions of people's economic life and get even more favors. Granted it is hard for you to believe that when you just pay the politicians a few tens of millions in cash to get billions showered upon you while others pay. But you don't. Now will you manage to buy the right to do so and have your cronies (politicians or their co-opted regulators) sell out country? Probably. We will re-elect those that you bought? Probably.

Just because you can do these things, doesn't mean it isn't immoral. We learned that a century ago, when the robber barons attempted to convince people business didn't related to morality. As if somehow actions people took to ruin an economy so a few cronies can split of the proceeds are any less immoral than some small time crook stealing cash directly from windows and orphans.

Unless you pay those we elect to sellout the country to allow an "unregulated shadow banking system, increasing systemic risk" it won't happen. Having banks have to be banks is what should happen. Those funding speculation have to have adequate resources and be willing to lose what they loan speculators. They obviously should not be allowed to come anywhere close to actions that "increase systemic risk." If that means speculators can't leverage themselves as much and banks can't gamble as much (knowing any big losses will be covered by the government) too bad.

If the cost of speculation without socialized failure and individualized gains that has been the hallmark of the crony investment banks the last 30-40 years then too bad. Less speculation will have to happen. I don't think speculation is bad. It is part of the market. But speculation doesn't have to be subsidized by society as you bankers seem to think is your right.

Stop trying to increase the amount you can gamble and leverage with threats that not allowing you to gamble the global economy means others will be allowed to do so. The idea is not to continue to allow the cronyism you all use to create massive speculation and leverage that threatens the global economy.

Related: Continuing to Nurture the Too-Big-To-Fail Eco-system - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren - Financial Transactions Tax to Pay Off Wall Street Welfare Debt