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boilermaker, software enthusiast, skilled raconteur, power user, general man-about-town.
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Pilch

"Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" Is Playing At Our House

2 min read

Being a parent is scary. Starting from essentially a blank slate, you are required to take a new human life, keep it alive, and teach it to function in society. Before , I never considered the now-daunting concept of teaching someone with a 50-75 word vocabulary how to use a toilet.

But there is a reason people do it, outside of Darwinian survival. That fear and self-doubt is the entry fee for some of the most rewarding experiences I can think of. Kids pick up things you don't, or that you demonstrate unintentionally. And they know what they like, and form these opinions far earlier than I initially expected.

So when our toddler asked unprompted to play "my house" during dinner, my heart exploded with joy. Usually, song requests in our house involve wheels on buses, or rain going away, or some variation on a standard that stars Elmo. But during our drive-time commute dance parties, I control the radio. And I understood immediately that this request was for Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, the first track from the eponymous debut of LCD Soundsystem. The seed is now taking root.

So I want to thank James Murphy for teaching my son how to say the following words and phrases:

  • huh-OW-OW! (the open)
  • my house
  • ropes
  • cases
  • garage
  • set them up (ooo ooo ye-ah)
  • SOLO!
  • let them go!
  • DOWN-TOWN

If you would like to celebrate with me, here is a link to the album version:

I risk a todder fit if I switch it up, but I prefer the live cut:

Pilch

Year-in-Review 2016, or The Last Thing Anyone Wants To Read Right Now

3 min read

What a year it has been. Personally, 2016 was pretty good. Our child is now walking and talking constantly, mostly about Thomas the Tank Engine1. Some of my brothers got married (one literal, two figurative). I developed a fairly consistent note-taking habit, first with Workflowy and then with some Field Notes. Probably worth its own post at a later date.

Having a toddler means I don’t get out as much as I used to, so my Official Dad Best-Of–2016 awards go to Deadpool, the new Ghostbusters, and the newest season of The Venture Brothers. Rogue One was also pretty good.

The Rest Of The World

Professionally, and for the world in general, it has been a goddamn nightmare.

Here’s my list of (mostly terrible) things that happened, month by month, with some good tweets for flavor. I’ll try to avoid the elephant in the room.2

And I’m pretty sure nothing else happened. May we all take these lessons into the next year, lest history repeats.


  1. There is no fairer tyrannical ruler than Sir Topham Hatt. Also, how is the Man In The Yellow Hat not broke? Ten seasons and 4 movies later, Curious George should have put him in the poor house.  ↩

  2. via GIPHY

     ↩

Pilch

First draft of concession speech, Nov 9 2016

2 min read

Congratulations, President-Elect, and best of luck in your two (2) court dates before your inauguration.

Congratulations to white people. You have proven your point, and we must all live with the consequences. I believe it was Maya Angelou that said "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

Condolences to Secretary Clinton on a hard fought campaign. I have never respected the cost of wanting to use a single phone for personal and work emails until now.

Shout out to the electoral college for exposing our expertly rigged system, identified by the GOP president-elect. I bet this is one of the first things he addresses when taking office.

Shout out to Antonin Scalia for gutting the Voting Rights Act and then dying, steering the boat towards and then tripling the size of the iceberg. I'm sure the Honorable Peter Thiel will keep your legacy alive for the next 275 years before dying of vampire-related causes.

(Related: Shout out to the 46.9% of the electorate that could not find a way to show up to the polls.)

Congratulations to our future presidential cabinet. Chris "Bridges" Christie. Newt "Moon Base" Gingrich. Rudy "I forgot 9/11 even though it's kind of my thing" Guiliani. I am sure you all will have our best interests in mind.

Apologies to folks who are not straight white men, whom this will affect disproportionately, as it always has. I will try to be here for you, but if it is too much, I hear Vancouver is lovely.

Shout out to the Chicago Cubs, for siphoning off the extremely limited supply of karma for the year 2016, and taking an advance on the next 4 years.

As always, all glory to Mother Russia.

Let the self-fulfilling prophecy be fulfilled. America has signaled to itself and the entire world that we are not exceptional, and are no longer great. Time to get to work.

Pilch

Crypto and You

3 min read

So you want to learn more about the encryption debate.1 Well, take a knee, gang, its .

Flash back 10 years ago. No one gave a shit about cybersecurity unless you were in China or a ghostwritten Tom Clancy novel. Then, as people started using networked services in more places, the information leaks began. It was still not an issue for the government (particularly, law enforcement), because useful data was just as accessible to them as it was to nefarious agents, like hackers or Facebook.

In 2013, the Snowden leaks began to paint a picture of just how much our own security agencies relied on cybersecurity weakness in their day-to-day operations. Snowden had trouble finding a journalist who could figure out how to use PGP to read his heavily encrypted messages to disseminate this information.

The leaked information made Silicon Valley companies very angry. So they began to encrypt transmissions between their data centers, as well as building it into their email, messaging, and mobile operating systems.

Now, encryption is just lots of math. Ever watch a movie about code breakers in WWII? Encryption. The only difference now is that common computers can do a lot more math in a short amount of time. But before this point, it was never viewed as particularly important to consumer software.

Think of it this way. In the same way that a gun is an offensive weapon, encryption is a defensive weapon. It protects your information from prying eyes, whomever that may be.

So now law enforcement has a problem. This technology is widely available, even to enemies of the state. Their proposed solution is to break it. Or to put it in their words, make it work for some and not for others. Kind of like how if you point a gun at something or someone you like, it will not fire. Because it only works in certain situations.

This is obviously a farce. As the old argument goes, if we outlaw guns, only law breakers will have guns. Since enemies of the state are not likely to stop using encrypted communication if it is outlawed, the only people without it will be law-abiding citizens. Effectively the exact opposite of the stated goal.

Remember this when some idiot presidential candidate2 tries to tell you how encryption is bad because terrorists are bad. The only benefit of outlawing encryption is to spy on you.


  1. I know there is a new John Oliver monologue about this. I haven't seen it. I hope he makes some of these points better than me.

  2.  

    via GIPHY

     

Pilch

Year In Review 2015 and Week In Review 2016

2 min read

 

I am a dad and have no time for non-dad-related things anymore. So my year in review, which I produce purely for my own leisure and amusement, is several weeks later than usual (see previous years). As such, it includes one week from 2016, which will then be excluded from next year’s review, if I remember.1

From what I heard of the outside world, 2015 was mostly a shitshow. But Dad Land has been good to me. So in the spirit of Chris Lacy’s …Of The Year posts, I present 2015 Of The Year.

Spoiler Of The Year

There is a new Star War. All the are talking about it! The review that most reflected my reactions is here.

Depressing Summary Of Social Issues Of The Year

America Has Lost The War Against Guns, by Greg Howard

Donald Trump Of The Year

In a surprising upset, it is John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

Shithead Of The Year

This is a nod to the consolation prize on Doug Loves Movies, where Doug calls who/whatever the audience member wants “a shithead.” The winner here is bats. Runner up is, again, Donald Trump.

Crippling Realization Of The Year

Having a child in a hospital NICU costs more than fully-loaded late-model Honda CR-V.2 There is probably a joke there about having one implying getting the other, but it makes me too depressed.[3]

Resolution Of The (New) Year

Always check your privilege.

Also, visit Clickhole more often, for insightful social commentary and Hodor information.

2016 Week In Review

I was locked out of my work laptop for the first 3 days and the biggest news story is these Oregon jamokes. Also, my son needed surgery to remove a dermoid cyst (he is fine). At this point I’ll take 2015.


  1. I won’t remember.  ↩

  2. Sure, insurance covers most of it, but they don’t give you 36 months to pay off the difference.  ↩

  3. Fine print: does not include the hospital bills for the mother.  ↩

Pilch

Open source cars

2 min read

(This was meant to be a brief reply to this post, but it ballooned into a post all its own.)

 

Open source automotive software makes sense on paper. I am all for it, even though it would obviate my employment as a test engineer for an automotive supplier. So let me tell you why it won’t happen.

  1. Automotive manufacturers do not understand open source. They only see the liability, not the potential. If anything happens in the field requiring a recall, they are on the hook anyway. So they assume they should control the whole process and develop everything themselves from scratch. I’m not entirely sure some of them understand software itself, as evidenced by John Deere presuming ownership over the software in their tractors.

  2. Who would test this open source software (besides the manufacturer)? With web software, you can spin up a remote server on a cheap laptop and you are off and running, in relatively little time, at low cost. With automotive software, the platform costs are at least 5 figures, not to mention the specialized tools to upgrade the software of the various components. It is a much larger barrier to entry for third-party testing.

Again, I agree in principle that it would be a good idea. But it will never happen unless lawmakers force it to, and they do not have a great sense of open source software either. Of course, it will be interesting to see if traditional software companies (Google and Apple) will bring this mentality whey they enter the space in a few years time.

Pilch

Ad-block-alypse

2 min read

Dear Cheryl1 (my NSA angel),

Hi there. I have been reading (but you knew that) about the latest cycle of ad blocking, and how it will be the end of advertising/journalism/the internet as we know it2. It is fun to remember how pop-up blocking was also the end of internet advertising as we knew it!

Anyways, my favorite piece to come out of all this is a talk transcript by the head of Pinboard.3 I encourage you to read it yourself, but here are some choice pull-quotes.

On ad morals:

The ad networks’ name for this robotic deception is ‘ad fraud’ or ‘click fraud’. (Advertisers like to use moralizing language when their money starts to flow in the wrong direction. Tricking people into watching ads is good; being tricked into showing ads to automated traffic is evil.)

On regulation:

When I flew over to give this talk, I wasn’t worried about my plane falling out of the sky. Eighty years of effective technical regulation (and massive penalties for fraud) have made commercial aviation the safest form of transportation in the world.

On smart refrigerators:

Samsung recently got in hot water with their smart refrigerator. Because it failed to validate SSL certificates, the fridge would leak your Gmail credentials (used by its little calendar) to anyone who asked it. All I wanted was some ice, and instead my email got hacked.

On living in San Francisco:

You wouldn’t hire a gardener whose houseplants were all dead. But we expect that people will trust us to reinvent their world with software even though we can’t make our own city livable.

Seriously, it is ten minutes of reading well spent.

Have a great day,
Craig


  1. The NSA is an equal oportunity employer.
  2. Here is the same guy from that editorial (he is EIC, btw), two months earlier, lamenting the terrible mobile web user experience, which is almost entirely caused by ads and trackers.
  3. My least favorite piece was Marco Arment’s, who, after proclaiming ad blockers the future and creating the most popular one on iOS, probably found out it was blocking ads on his own site.

Pilch

Spygate and Ballghazi

1 min read

Dear Ernesto (my NSA angel),

We haven’t chatted (directly) in a while. How are things? Last I heard, you had the director of the FBI complaining about encryption making his job harder. Have you guys found the abominable Snowden1 yet?

Anyways, I am writing you today about the NSA’s Foxboro branch. I did enjoy the shitting the bed in court last week over Ballghazi2, but this lends the internal power struggle some context. But what do I know, I am probably just a “butthurt Colts fan.”

Also, it is hilarious that even after all this comes to light, they are still jamming signals in opposing teams’ headsets. Did you guys give them the tip to use their own game broadcast? I bet your style is more classic-rock-Van-Halen-Not-Van-Haggar signal interference.

Take it sleazy,

Craig

 


  1. HBO found him. Maybe you should talk to them.  ↩

  2. This is not Deflategate. That is a terrible name. It is Ballghazi.  ↩

Pilch

The Bat-Man

3 min read

I have been trying to not write about our house while it is on the market1, but I need to record this for posterity.

We have an old house, and last night, for the second time this year, a bat has made its way in while the house is locked up at night. Play-by-play:

Jessie (hereafter referred to as “My Wife“, in a Borat voice) goes to the kitchen for a glass of water around 2:30am, and sees a bat (hereafter referred to as Benoit) hanging on a window shade. I prepare for bat battle, and Benoit flies up and down our staircase for a bit. Benoit returns to the bathroom where we believe he entered, where he is promptly shut in, and My Wife and I return to our bedroom to regroup. Animal control is called, but “they don’t deal with that kind of thing2.” They end up getting a police man dispatched to our house (Officer Tinslow, who was really cool about it all). Benoit is now nowhere to be found (obvs), and we assume it has gone back into the wall or wherever. Flash forward to morning diaper change for Jack, when Benoit is found hanging on the drapes right next to the changing table in the nursery. He is not-very-quickly dispatched out that window, and is terrible at gaining altitude when flying in circles.

Some stray observations:

  • Bats are ten million percent easier to deal with in daylight. They do pretty much the same things, but you can see it. They seem smaller.
  • As I said, this is the second time this happened. The first time, My Wife was pregnant, and this time is right before trying to sell/rent out our house.
  • I kept thinking about the Louis CK bit from his last special about calling animal control, where they say they have a guy for that but they go to extraordinary lengths not to call him “the bat man.”


  1. If you are interested, it has new windows and one less bat.
  2. This is the second time I have heard this from them. The last time was in college, and I was in a dilapidated rental house that had a racoon the size of a labrador retriever living in the ceiling. They had a guy for that too, and when he caught him in a trap and we asked what he was going to do with it, he said he “was not at liberty to discuss it.” Conspiracy theories included moving the racoon to another of our terrible landlord’s properties, or the bad Chinese restaurant down the street (which was shut down later that year).

Pilch

The Elusive Private Cloud

3 min read

It is the DMZ week between the two major developer conferences of the year, I/O and Appple's WWDC. Shots were fired by Google in the form of free and unlimited photo storage and an omnipresent search assistant for its upcoming OS update. fans have already begun reflexively asserting that "Google ain't no thing":

Everything has a price. With Apple, you typically pay them money, and they sell you premium products and services in return. That type of cost and relationship is easy to understand.
With Google, you typically pay them attention and data, and they give you free or cheap products and services in return. That cost and relationship is harder to understand.

First of all, no, it is not hard to understand. For decades if not longer, services have used advertising to mitigate cost to the user. Ever listened to a radio, or read a newspaper, or received junk mail?

Second (and more nitpicky), you would be hard pressed to find anyone else making the argument for Apple offering users more choice. I am running a custom launcher, a third-party SMS client, and readily switch between three different browsers depending on my use cases. Ever tried that on iOS? */android-troll*

Apple CEO Tim Cook even joined in:

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

The first takeaway from this is that the Apple camp is placing a priority on while at the same time knocking "so-called free services" down a peg. This implies that privacy is only available to those who can afford it. This sentiment is much larger moral hazard than allowing tailored advertising to subsidize service.

The most important takeaway, however, is that this sentiment could turn into Apple's Waterloo if they don't make some major improvements to their services. Google Photos has long been superior to iPhoto, only to be hamstrung by its dependence on Google's misunderstood social network. Google solved that problem this year by separating them. Apple needs to give people a reason to pay out the nose for their competing product besides "hey, we won't check out your pictures."

Google offers value in exchange for information, which is why they are seen as a pinnacle of innovation. Apple offers value in exchange for cold hard cash, which is why they are seen as a walled garden surrounding a mountain of cash. Hopefully Apple's private will open up and rain some new ideas on WWDC this year, instead of nude photos of celebrities. */terrible-apple-troll-pun*

Pilch

An Open Letter to the Governor of Indiana

3 min read

Dear Governor Pence,

has not been doing great in the media lately. First Pawnee had to merge with Eagleton1, then the Mole Women emerged from Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne’s bunker.

In all seriousness, I would be glad to have those issues. They are preferable to the reality of transitioning from an HIV outbreak to legalizing discrimination by religious organizations.

There is no getting around it - this is about discrimination. No matter how many times you tell us it is not, you also won’t just say you are against the discrimination of LGBT people. Pretty sure Stephanopolous is not known for hard-hitting journalism, Mike. He was putting a softball on a tee for you, and you struck out.

Can you think of another reason a business would need “free exercise of religion”? Or that it would need to use that new-found religion as a defense in civil litigation? You have had several months to think of some examples. I’ve tried for a few days, and I am coming up empty. Maybe if it actually was the same as the federal RFRA, which has been falsely claimed by several conservative news outlets, this would be easier.

I have been an Indiana resident since I was in elementary school. It makes me glad that this kind of skulduggery2 is coming to light, because there is always the small hope that the attention will help the problem. Now the CEO of the richest company in America, Parks and Rec’s own Nick Offerman (and Jeff Tweedy), and your predecessor are all throwing you under the bus. I know if there is one thing you guys like more than religion, it is capitalism.

But if the past is any indicator, things probably won’t change. I’m not sure if it is the cause or the effect, but smart, (even mildly) progressive people have been leaving the state for decades. Little, trying-to-be-subtle moves like this are the reason. This policy is only driving more people out of the economic ghost town that is (northern) Indiana.

Please don’t make us form a religion3 and sue you, which we are now allowed to do under your law, which does not define what a religion is.

Good luck with reelection,
Your constituency


  1. It was honestly hard to find something negative that happened to Indiana in that show. Which makes this even more disappointing - it is like you are correcting the show, saying “No, it’s ok, we’re actually assholes.”
  2. Awesome word. Should be used more often.
  3. Our first commandment is “don’t be an asshole.” To inject some of the founder’s personal bias into it, our second commandment is “Notre Dame sucks.”

Pilch

Beginning the move to Known

2 min read

Moving the blog to Known has been in the back of my mind for a while now, so I finally pulled the trigger. This has been a fun weekend project, now spilling into Tuesday. Wordpress maintenance has become too cumbersome for my needs, and Known has been a breath of fresh air. Some notes from my experience:

  • Invaluable installation instructions in the Known documentation, as well as here. The only issue I kept having was where to place the uploads directory, and how to point to it.
  • Really, reeealy looking forward to importing my old blog content here. I know that Wordpress import is on the horizon, and I forsee it bringing a large influx of personal sites to their hosted service.
  • I love that the functionality works out of the box.
  • Chrome handles it very well on Android, but I need to play around with it more to figure out how to reply. Almost needs to be its own app...
  • Facebook thinks I am a robot when I try to setup POSSE here, even after I answer a captcha and verify my mobile phone. So they don't get to see any of these posts.

I have not written many posts lately, as evidenced by my Wordpress page (currently at pilchernet.com). Hopefully this refresh will kickstart some creativity.

Pilch

Pilch

City sadness

1 min read

Is it sadder if your city has to share a spot with another smaller city?

http://bit.ly/1Fc5CfN
via IFTTT

Pilch

Snow cars

1 min read

All dug out, except for our car mohawks - with Jessamine

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