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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Research by Princeton and Northwestern Professors Shows USA Political System Very Focused on Doing What Rich Want Done

I have become (over the last 10 to 15 years) very frustrated with how corrupt the USA political system is. Petty corruption exists in the USA and is annoying but doesn't do much harm and is not that troublesome (it is lower than most places - other than in Scandinavia and a few other places). But the extent to which we elect people who then do the bidding of those giving them lots of cash (directly to their campaign, indirectly, in post career cushy high paying gigs if you do them favors while in office and in cushy high paying gigs for staff) the corruption is endemic and does great damage to the USA.

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by Martin Gilens Princeton University and Benjamin Page Northwestern University.
The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
Bolding added by me.

In some ways politicians make it even worse than just direct bribery that at least ends when the briber gets what they paid for. The current system encourages legislators to maintain a state of constant threat to economic interests in order to bleed them for more donations. Rather than address issues that are important for the country they leave open wounds festering in order to get interested parties to pay more cash to get the needed changes made.

In legislation there are going to have to choices made and interested parties will win or lose. That people who don't get what they want will be frustrated I understand. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that
  1. politicians create legislation (or pressure for regulation and enforcement) that is clearly against the interests of the country (no matter what political frame you have in mind). This is a subset of what is done but this is horrible and widespread and only supported by corrupt parties.
  2. that we elect these corrupt people and parties after decades of clear evidence they are corrupt.
Given that we continue to elect them the blame falls heavily on the voters, in my view. Yes, the corrupt people selling out the country and their fellow citizens for their personal well being are unethical, unpatriotic and despicable. But we could throw out the corrupt people and parties if we chose to, and we don't.

More quotes from the paper:
Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.

By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy. This does not mean that theories of Economic Elite Domination are wholly upheld, since our results indicate that individual elites must share their policy influence with organized interest groups. Still, economic elites stand out as quite influential – more so than any other set of actors studied here – in the making of U.S. public policy.

Similarly, organized interest groups (all taken together, for now) are found to have substantial independent influence on policy. Again, the predictions of pure theories of interest group pluralism are not wholly upheld, since organized interest groups must share influence with economically elite individuals. But interest group alignments are estimated to have a large, positive, highly significant impact upon public policy.

These results suggest that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.
As with most economic research there is plenty of room to argue with their conclusion (the data is often somewhat subjective and appropriateness of proxy measures can be argued). But I agree with some of the big conclusions they draw. They don't then tie the cash payments to politicians as the reason for why the most wealthy and most organized interest groups get their way but it lays out part of the story that exposes the corrupt system in place now.

Related: Why Congress Won’t Investigate Wall Street - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren - TPP Transparency Confirms the Worst Fears: USA Government Still Trying to Strip Away Rights of Citizens in USA and Elsewhere - Monopolies and Oligopolies do not a Free Market Make - Society is being shaped for us while we are busy making other plans - Good Journalism Aids Society by Shining the Light on Corruption - Failure to Regulate Financial Markets Leads to Predictable Consequences - Bad Behavior Shining the light on the actions of those in power
An important feature of interest group influence is that it is often deployed against proposed policy changes. On the 1,357 proposed policy changes for which at least one interest group was coded as favoring or opposing change, in only 36% of the cases did most groups favor change, while in 55% of the cases most groups opposed change. (The remaining cases involved equal numbers for and against.)
The Cash for Votes subreddit collects links to examples of political corruption in the USA and elsewhere.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Moz Page Authority for Various Sites - Updated August 2014

Google used to update published page rank every 3 months. Now they have only updated it 2 times in 18 months. I am glad Moz stepped up with a frequently updated page link ranking measure (Moz Page Authority). I just find it interesting to watch what happens over time as I have done in previous posts here.

Since Google no longer finds it in their interest to share the even very old data with us (the current data is over 8 months old), I demote Google Page Rank to the lessor measure - and don't include it for Aug 2014 since it hasn't been updated).
SiteAug 2014 (MozRank)Dec 2013
Feb 2013Oct 2011 Dec 2010
MozPA > 5
Curious Cat Management Blog5.9 (6.0)6.1 [5]6.3 [5] 5.5 [5] [4]
@CuriousCat_com5.8 (4.6)
My Kiva page5.6 (4.7)5.8 [-]6.2 [-]4.0 [-][3]
Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog5.5 (6.1)4 [5.7]5.9 [4]5.3 [4][3]
Curious Cat Engineering and Science Blog5.5 (6.0)5.8 [5]6.1 55.3 [6]4
The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog5.2 (6.0)5.5 [5]5.2 [4]--
Curiouscat.com5.0 (6.0)**5.4 [4]5.6 [4][3]
Curious Cat Travel Photo Blog5.0 (5.9)4 [5.0]4 [5.1]3 [4.9]-

MozPA > 4
John Hunter4.8 (6.1)5.0 [5]5.3 [5]5.4 [4][4]
Public Sector Continuous Improvement Site*4.8 (5.4)5.0 [**]5.1 [4]5.0 [5][4]
Six Sigma Management Resources*4.7 (5.6)4.9 [**]5.0 [4][4]
Deming's Management Method*4.7 (5.3)4.9 [**]5.0 [3]4.5 [4][4]
Investment Dictionary*4.6 (5.9)4.8 [**]5.0 [4]5.2 [4]
Curious Cat Management Improvement Connections*4.6 (5.6)3.3 [**]5.4 [4]5.5 [5][4]
CSS 4 Free4.4 (5.4)4.7 [5]4.9 [4]5.4 [4][4]
The Future is Engineering*4.3 (5.7)4.3 [4]4.6 [4]
Good Process Improvement Practices*4.2 (5.2)4.0 [3]4.1 [3]4.1 [3]
Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership4.1 [5.8]4.2 [-]4.5 [-]4.7 [4][4]
Management Articles*4.1 (5.5)3.9 [3]4.3 [4]
Curious Cat Management Comments4.1 (5.0)3.9 [3]4.3 [4]4.5 [3]
Multi Site PageRank Checker4.1 (4.9)4.1 [4]4.1 [3]4.7 [3][2]
Living in Singapore4.0 (5.7)4 [4.1]4 [4.3]3 [4.0]
Management Dictionary*4.0 (5.4)2.6 [**]5.2 [5]5.4 [5][4]
SiteAug 2014 (MozRank)Dec 2013
Feb 2013Oct 2011 Dec 2010

MozPA > 3.5
Living in Malaysia3.9 (5.8)4.0 [4]4.2 [4]4.1 [3]
The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer*3.9 (5.7)4.1 [3]4.4 [4]4.7 [4][4]
Curious Cat Gadgets3.9 (5.5)4.1 [4]4 [4.3]
Architecture and home design inspiration3.9 (5.5)4.0 [3]4.2 [4]--
Curious Cat Code (programming)3.8 (5.5)4.1 [4]4.3 [4]4.2 [4]--
Management Matters (my book)*3.8 (5.4)3.8 [4]3.5 [4]---
Curious Cat Comments (this blog)3.8 (5.1)3.9 [3]4.0 [3]3.8 [-][3]
Statistics for Experimenters3.7 (5.7)3.9 [4]3.9 [4]4.5 [3][3]
Life and Legacy of William Hunter3.7 (5.5)4.0 [4]4.1 [4]4.5 [4][4] - internship directory3.7 (5.3)4.0 [4]4.4 [4]5.2 [4][4]
Management and Leadership Quotes3.6 (5.7)3.7 [4]4.0 [4]5.2 [2][2]
Hexawise Software Testing Blog3.6 (4.9)3.8 [4]4.0 [3]

MozRank > 3
Curious Cat Travel Destinations3.4 (5.7)3.4 [3]3.2 [3]-
CuriousCat Wordpress3.4 (3.8)3.5 [1]3.6 [-][-]
Justin Hunter (my brother)3.3 (4.8)3.4 [-]3.4 [-]2.9 [2][2]
Curious Cat Web Directory3.1 (5.0)3.3 [2]3.6 [4]4.7 [4][3]
Improving Your Search Engine Ranking Blog3.1 (5.0) New
Management Improvement Resources3.0 (4.7)3.1 [3]3.4 [3]3.8 [3][3]

MozRank < 3
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)2.9 (5.3)2.9 [2]3.0 [2]--
Johor Bahru Real Estate2.8 (5.3)3.0 [2]3.2 [2]-
Hexawise.tv2.8 (4.9)2.8 [2]2.9 [2]-
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: Australia1.5 (4.9)1.3 [-]1.8 [-][-]
Curious Cat Travel Destinations: France1.4 (5.1)1.3 [-]1.9 [-][-]
Curious Cat Travel BlogNew

* internal pages
** new url or old url forwarded (so Google losses track of the page rank for awhile)
- didn't exist yet or google didn't rank it for some reason
[blank] I don't know what the pagerank was, sometimes the site didn't exist yet.

Moz Page Authority is the measure that is equivalent to Google PageRank. So in the chart below the MozRank is shown inside ( ) for Aug 2014. [] indicate Google PageRank measures. Those without parenthesis are Moz Page Authority divided by 10 (because SEO Moz also decided to scale MozPA up to 100 while Google PageRank caps out at ten and I already been listing the data listed in the 10 scale the last few years). Related:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Around Bad Web Page Layouts

The page layouts of some sites seem to be designed by people only viewing sites on huge monitors. Google also seems to test some of their stuff only with super fast and super low latency connections. It isn't so surprising companies that don't have much customer focus just do what looks good in their office (which often isn't what the customer experiences).

Zillow and Trulia offer real estate information and provide maps. Unfortunately they don't bother to design the page layouts for the needs of people without huge monitors. For example, Zillow has 20% of the top of my screen used and then 50% of the right of the screen taken so you have this pretty small window for the content I want to see - the map.

I super easy design that would be done if customer focus was a concern is just allow the right column to be closed by users that don't want that waster their screen. But Zillow doesn't do that.

Given this I found another way to get back your view even if the page is designed to prevent it. Make the browser window very large (much more than your screen). Have the useless right column that you don't have any use for moved off the screen. This is obviously awkward but it works.

Sadly they then center the content for specific housing result so you have a huge amount of white space on the left and the page results scroll off the screen on the right. If they just didn't center it, things would be fine. If you right-click open the link in a new window it works (because the window opens as a normal sized window instead of the super large window created to cope with the badly designed web page).

These are the kind of solutions that only make sense for badly designed sites that are worth your time working around their bad designs. Most of the time I just abandoned such sites. But in those rare cases I actually find the site worth dealing with even with the poor design choices you can sometimes find work arounds in case you are not sitting in the exact conditions of their office (no large monitor, perhaps less awesome eyesight - which goes as people age…).

Another common failing of sites is thinking they can (or should even try) to treat web pages like magazines. So when you use larger fonts (very common for older users - very uncommon for web designers) the display falls apart - Trulia has this failing in the vary bad way of having content fall behind other content so you can't even see it).

Zillow and Trulia are actually pretty useful sites if you are interested in USA real estate. Supposedly Zillow is trying to buy Trulia. In a capitalist society this wouldn't be allowed. I hope it is not. But in a corrupt political society where cash buys votes and regulatory decisions it would be allowed. My guess is it will be allowed.

Related: Poor Web Site User Experience (Ux) for stock market data - Customer Focus and Internet Travel Search - Political and Corporate Cronyism are not Capitalism - 6 years Later Goolge Acts To Let Me Block Sites I don't want to see - snd then Google re-polluted the results :-(

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blocking Bad Actor Web sites

I followed a link to a site that forced download of 2 files before Chrome finally stopped it and opened up 2 extra tabs and put a blocking popup that wouldn't even allow Chrome to shut down without saying ok to their crap (force shutdown via Apple was the only option).

I wish I could subscribe to a curated list of such sites to block my browser from going there. And I had the ability to submit my candidates (like the jack ass site today). I also wish browsers didn't allow that type of crap (the popup window, files and extra tabs) to get by and mess with me. Popups should not be allowed without my explicit approval. Downloads shouldn't be either (at least for most files - .jpg etc probably should). I wish the curated list would also deal with this and block more from bad actor sites and allow more from good actor sites…

Are there solutions that are addressing this now? What are they?

Trip Advisor is the only legitimate site I know that frequently abuses popup tabs etc.. Other sites I guess do it in a standard way that honors browser preferences. In my experience on bad actors, spammers, etc. and Trip Advisor (who I guess many would put in the bad actor category but I excuse or at least see as a useful actor that behaves badly so I see a bit differently than all the other bad actors that offer nothing of value to offset their bad behavior) - the only site that I use which abuses users but is useful otherwise is Trip Advisor. There are probably a couple other sites in the Trip Advisor bad actor category but I just don't bother using them. Well actually Google can come close sometimes but really I rarely see them do this type of thing (notification icon is one example of such bad behavior by Google).

Related: Practicing Mistake-Promoting Instead of Mistake-Proofing at Apple - AT&T's Attempt to Take Away Consumer's Rights Denied - Incredibly Bad Customer Service from Discover Card - More Bad Customer Service Examples :-(