The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

The state of “todo” apps for Android is pathetic

I’ve used Remember the Milk for years, but today I uninstalled it.  While I love the web interface, the Android app had a terrible bug, that I tried to get fixed for over 2 years: about 50% of the time I would add an item to a list, after tapping Save the item would disappear somewhere and not be added to the list.  I made a video of it happening and gave it to their support.  I waited and waited and waited.  Over 2 years.  Finally, I stopped paying my yearly fee (around $24) because I felt foolish giving them my money while this terrible bug went unfixed.

It wasn’t my phone.  It happened across 3 phones and countless Android upgrades.  I told their support people I would run a special version of RTM to help track this down.  From my point of view, all I ever got was “thanks, we’re looking into it.”  Until the video, I don’t thing they really believed me.  I do support for my own products, and I know that sometimes customers lie.

I’ve looked through the Android app reviews, and I don’t see other people with the problem.  Is it just that I’m lucky to see this bug, or do other people that evaluate or use RTM just not report it?  Hard to tell.

So, I used the iCalendar export to get my data out of RTM.  When I look at the download.ics file, the names of my lists in RTM to not appear.  This is RTM’s parting shot at me, which says clearly only one thing: fuck you, if you want to go somewhere else, so we’re making your export completely useless.  Thanks for making me feel better about leaving!

What I’ve done is moved to Google Keep.  It’s a complete piece of crap.  What I hate:

  • UI: wow, just terrible.  If you have a lot of notes, the way they show them (in a linear list, or randomly showing a huge thumbnail of the list) could not be any worse.
  • No import/export function.  Really, just pathetic.  A typical Google product, that completely sucks and gets no updates.  Seriously, I’ve never seen any visible changes to Keep over the years.

I did look at other apps.  I tried to import into other apps (e.g., Todoist, Toodledo), but they were just terrible, or were too expensive (> $50/yr).  It boggles my mind that 1) RTM couldn’t keep me as a customer by fixing that damn bug, and 2) there are literally no decent apps for todo list management.



It’s time to embrace the fat and ditch the carbs

My eating habits are shitty (I crave and eat too much sugar, even binging on it occasionally). I’m a little overweight. My blood sugar was considered pre-diabetic last time I had it checked.  I feel like it’s time for a change.  A small part of it is vanity, if I’m honest, but it is mainly wanting to live longer, feel better and to remain disease free.  Most of the people I’ve known (personally and friends of friends) who died of cancer had pancreatic cancer, and more than anything I’d like to avoid that disease.  It is a nasty one.  There is a lot of evidence that high blood sugar is responsible for a lot of ills, and growing evidence it’s responsible for even more.  For example, there is growing evidence of a link between glucose and pancreatic cancer [1] [2] [3].

Just today I saw this on HNMachine Learning meets ketosis: how to effectively lose weight.  What a great read.  I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you aren’t trying to lose weight.  Be sure to watch the very informative videos in the “More Videos” section at the end.

So, I’m going to try and make a change to a high fat, low carb lifestyle.  Notice I didn’t say diet.  To me, diets are temporary things you do to effect a short-term change.  And I’ll be blunt: the hardest part for me will be giving up ice cream and milk chocolate bars.  Trader Joe’s has this hazelnut milk chocolate bar that is to die for.  I just don’t want to die for it.

The other thing I’m learning about is the glycemic index and load of foods.  I’m currently searching for a comprehensive list of glycemic load for foods.  So far this is the best one.

My plan is to eat much more of the following foods.  The “low GL” means “load glycemic load” in the descriptions.

  • 70% cacao chocolate: this might work as a replacement for my hazelnut milk chocolate bar because it’s very hard for me to binge on it. For whatever reason, perhaps because of the richness of it, I can only eat a relatively small amount of the stuff.  One reason that might be, you can’t eat it fast, you have to let your mouth fully melt it before swallowing, and we know that eating slower is better, because the full signal from your stomach to your brain takes a while.  Notice I listed this first. Obsession recognized!
  • vegetables:
    • non-starchy: artichoke, asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, lettuces, onions, snap beans, snow peas, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes, watercress, zucchini.
    • corn on the cob: this one surprised me that it’s listed as having a low GL.  I have it rarely, but it’s good to know.  More popcorn with butter!
  • fruits that have a low GL:
    • apples, plums and grapes: I don’t eat apples much, but plums and grapes are part of my life.
    • avocado: mmmm, guac, but how to enjoy it without the chips? Anyone have ideas?
    • watermelon: I would never have guessed its GL was so low.
    • bananas: they seem to be on the upper end of the “low” GL scale. Perhaps in moderation.
  • eggs: this much maligned food is making a comeback and I really love them.
  • cheese: it appears that the GL for cheese is low.
  • nuts: I love hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts.
  • dairy: unsweetened plain yogurt, half-and-half and sour cream; all the full-fat versions.

My plan is to record my weight, to track progress, and after a few months to get a blood sugar test, to see how that side is coming along.

How did we get here?

Yesterday there was an opinion piece by Jean Pisani-Ferry that asked “why are voters ignoring experts?” in relation to the recent Brexit vote to leave the EU.  This sparked debate online about how dumb voters are and how dangerous democracy has become.

Why are voters uninformed?  Why do they not trust experts?  Why do voters so often vote against their own interests?  How did we get here?

I think it’s actually pretty simple.  It’s because for the last  30 years we have had leaders who have continuously lied to us, eschewed science and are in politics mainly to enrich themselves and wield power over others.  They have supported policies which are absurd.  The war on drugs, for example.  We are at a place, in 2016, where it has been clear for a long time that locking up more and more people is causing great damage to our society.  We have 4.4% of the world’s population but 22% of the world’s prison population.  That is literally insane.  Oh, and who supports the war on drugs? The Police Officer and Prison Guard unions, of course.

We have regular mass shootings, but no action.  Congress has become a non-working venture.  They do nothing other than bloviate nonsense.  Money has taken over politics, which allows rich individuals to title the system greatly in their favor.  While money buy influence has been around for a while, the Supreme Court handed corporations a gift with Citizens United.

And the #1 accomplice in this charade has been the main stream media (MSM).  They have become pure profit driven infotainment that gives a voice to both sides of an issue, for fairness, even when one side of the issue is batshit insane.  In fact, part of the MSM is a source of the insanity.  Rush Limbaugh.  Fox News.  They spread lies which become accepted truths to many.  Fox News and their ilk (some in the US Congress) have been on a 20+ year campaign to brand the Clinton’s as murderers and criminals.  It boggles the mind to try and understand why all this energy is being put into something so banal and useless.  (Useless to us, the citizenry of the US.  Not useless to the conservatives who seek power.)

Donald Trump and Brexit are merely the product of 3 decades of political shenanigans.

The global corporate business climate is no better.  Corporations have lobbied their respective governments to make globalism the default state of all our economies.  At home, the middle class is been shrinking while corporate profits are at an all-time high. The number of people unemployed might be down, but if you count the people not even trying to find a job, it’s much higher. Abroad, while the exploitation of the 3rd world has raised many out of poverty, it is still exploitation.  Don’t think that once a population has been elevated from abject poverty into a relatively better way of life their corporate overlords won’t pick up and move to the next 3rd world country, once wages rise too much.

Global business, led by US corporations, praise profit over everything.  The side effect of their capital engines has killed uncounted humans and has decimated the world’s environment.  Our oceans are being used as a toilet/garbage dump and overfishing is projected to drive many species to extinction in this century.  Corporate use of tax havens to avoid paying taxes is the norm.  We have multi-billion dollar corporations that pay no taxes and get government handouts.  This has led to income inequality of epic proportions.

So given all of this, is there any doubt why populism is growing?  Why the masses are enthralled by Donald Trump?  Why the UK voted to leave the EU?

There is constant hand wringing over terrorism.

If after 9/11/2011 we had sent Seal Team 6 after OBL, and nothing more, Iraq would not have given rise to ISIL.  Afghanistan would be a cesspool, but it wouldn’t be one that we created and whose sole focus is us and our foreign policy.  Iraq would still be governed by the iron fist of Saddam Hussein, and many people would have lost their lives and been tortured by that regime, but additional millions wouldn’t have lost their lives due to the war we started, and ISIL would not exist.

Our support of Saudi Arabia and the extreme form of Islam there, Wahhabism, along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have created more terrorists than anything else we have ever done.  Of course, we supported Saudi Arabia because of their oil.  We even had two Presidents with the same last name who personally benefited from this relationship.  That isn’t to say that American didn’t benefit from low oil prices, but it certainly meant that we didn’t look for alternatives.  The response to the crisis of oil depletion was delayed for decades, thus putting us behind where we could be in using alternative energy sources.

Everything above sends one loud and clear signal to the masses in the US and UK: you can’t trust anything we say or do and we clearly don’t give a shit about you; we’re here to get ours, so you better get yours, in any way you can.

In the choice between Leave and Remain, many (most?) Leave voters were not actually voting on the Leave/Remain issue, they were sending a signal to the ruling elite: we don’t trust you, we’re sick of this shit, and fuck you.

In November in the US, it could go the same way with Donald Trump.  People are looking at Clinton as the same old shit they’ve been eating for decades.  They literally do not care that Trump is a terrible businessman who cannot tell the truth about anything, they only know that voting for Clinton is more of the same.   They wanted Bernie, but they’ll settle for Trump.

If any of this is confusing or new to you, you have not been paying attention.  And that’s just want they want you to do. Watch your reality TV shows and go to your superhero movies, but don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.


Uber may be the best taxi replacement, but…

They have absolutely no clue about customer service or how to take payments for their service.

I decided to use them to get to and from the airport for a recent vacation. I got an estimate of what it would cost ($100), and got a virtual credit card from Citi for the rides and signed up on the website.

The rides were a convenient and quick way to get to and from the airport, but I didn’t predict the cost well. The ride home went put me over the $100 limit I had set on the virtual CC. They emailed me to fix this, so I immediately went to the website (following the link in their own email).

I couldn’t add a new CC on their website. I kept getting a generic “an error has occurred.”  I contacted support, and after exchanging email with four different people that didn’t read my original email or the previous emails their own support people sent me, I finally got someone that admitted the problem was their end and they were “looking into it.”

I waited 3 days and tried again. Emailed them. Got a response from someone that started the process all over again, ignoring all the history in the support ticket, with them telling me I must have used a prepaid card, or something, and to.. blah blah blah.

So, today, I had the idea, I’ll add a new payment method via the app. I did that. There appears to be no way to pay my outstanding balance via the app, so I went to their website, where it still tells me I have an outstanding balance, but the new payment methods are nowhere to be seen. So, I can’t pay the balance and I can’t use the service because I have an outstanding balance.

So, I added another CC in the app, to see if it was a one-time glitch. Nope, same deal.

Then, I get an alert from my CC company that two charges were just made on the two cards I added above, one charge for $0.88 and the other for $1.50. Note, this is not a temporary charge. I don’t get emails for those. This is an actual charge.

It is pretty incredible that a company with a $62.5B valuation (the value at their last funding), can’t even do something as simple as adding a credit card to my account!  And their customer support style (no continuity between emails to them) means you have to start from scratch with each person.

At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to use the service again.

Racism in America

Since 2008, when Obama became the President of the United States of America, I’ve heard it often cited (TV, online, in person) that “racism is over.”  While some portions of white America wants racism to be over, it’s just not.  Things like affirmative action, they say, should be abolished, because there’s no longer a need.

So, I decided to catalog how racism is not over.  This page will be updated from time to time.

If you have examples for me to add to this list, please make a comment and I’ll consider adding it.

Why I will never, ever again vote for Sen. Dianne Feinstein

The Burr-Feinstein anti-encryption bill is a horrible piece of proposed legislation. This is a bill that will likely criminalize all forms of strong encryption. What the actual fuck?! Either Sen. Feinstein is an idiot or just plain evil. Either way, she’s not fit to draft legislation if this is what happens when she tries.

There are lots of other reasons to really, really dislike her, though:

She behaves more like a conservative than a liberal. She needs to leave the Senate and I will never vote for her again. I’ll vote for anyone else if she runs again.

Curry’s no-look towel toss to prevent Draymond’s splash

So, after the Warrior’s won their 69th game, Steph was giving an interview and he saw Draymond walk by and must’ve figured Dray was up to no good.  Dray walks around and then picks up a cup of water.  It appears Dray is about to splash one of the splash brothers, but then this happens:


It’s even more amazing when you watch it from the other side, while he’s being interviewed.

He has powers in many domains.


My Tracks: The real reason Google is shutting it down

The Android app My Tracks is being killed on April 30, 2016.  It’s not just be abandoned, to never receive another update.  It’s being killed.  It will no longer operate past the above date. This is a rather strong move by Google.  Why are they doing it?  This is their given reason:

After April 30, 2016, My Tracks will no longer be available. We apologize for the inconvenience this might cause My Tracks users. We’ve made the tough decision to invest our efforts into other, more wide-reaching, mapping projects. Below are some resources to help you manage or export your data and find other apps to continue tracking your activities.

This is the bullshit reason.  The real reason might make you angry, if you are a user of My Tracks.

My Tracks lets you record information about walks, runs and other physical activity.  It does so with the GPS on your phone and records it to your phone.  You have the option of uploading that data to your Google account. It’s your data and Google doesn’t have access to it.  There’s no “save to the cloud” or “share with your friends” or anything like that. In other words, there’s no way for Google to monetize (i.e., make money off) your data.

Google has pointed to several applications that are good replacements for My Tracks. Google Fit being one.  The difference between all of them and My Tracks is clear: they all are social applications which store your data in the cloud, so they can do what they want with it.  The Google app, Fit, is clearly designed like this.  The non-Google apps are, too, and many of them, while free, have in-app purchases for sharing features, etc.

My Tracks was killed because it directly competed with Google Fit.  My Tracks was killed because Google cannot make money off you when you use it1, unlike Google Fit.

So why does this matter?  Why am I so sensitive about my data being in the cloud and used by others for monetary gain?  1) They aren’t being honest about what they are doing. Period. 2) We’ve already given up so much privacy by carry smart phones, and I don’t want to give up anymore of it. My walks are my private business. Something stored in the cloud can be accessed or stolen by others. I don’t want my regular activities to be known by people other than my family.

You might say, it’s open source software, so someone else can maintain it, if Google doesn’t want to, right?  Wrong.  Google removed the source code from public view more than a year ago:

We no longer update the open source version of My Tracks, and we will remove these sources after 1/1/15.

They planned well ahead, making people think they were merely abandoning the software, so that when they did kill it, it was less likely someone would have the source code.  Also, the source code, at the time they killed it, would be quite out of date (having been updating it for more than a year from the time the source code went private).

I’ve been a long-time user of My Tracks.  I started using it with my OG Droid, an early Android phone by Motorola.  Through all the upgrades, I’ve used My Tracks to record walks.  It’s a great tool and I really enjoyed using it.  I spent a few hours looking for an alternative app that won’t have access to my data and I failed to find one.  Should a reader of this post know of one, please let me know.

I know what I’ll do on April 30, 2016.  I’ll uninstall My Tracks and not install any of the suggested alternatives.  My phone will be a little less fun to me, and that is the fault of Google.

1Whether Google does now, or will at some point in the future, monetize your Google Fit data is irrelevant. We, as users of Android phones, cannot know what Google monetizes. We know they monetize a lot of our data, and it makes them a lot of money. There’s a saying: If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold. That certainly applies here. I would be happy to pay for a My Tracks app, so I am the customer.

We need to stop the war on drugs

Listen to Judge Jim Gray, a conservative, tell you why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6t1EM4Onao.

The highlights:

The six groups who benefit from drug prohibition:

  1. Drug dealers.
  2. Juvenile gangs.  Illegal drugs are their primary source of funding.
  3. Law enforcement.
  4. Politicians.  It allows them to talk tough about crime and get elected.
  5. Private sector: construction and staffing of prisons.
  6. Terrorists.  The primary source of funding is illegal drug sales.  Repealing drug prohibition would hurt terrorist organizations more than anything else we could do to them.

Who loses?  Everyone else.

What will happen if we stop the war on drugs?

  1. We would save $1B on the war on drugs.
  2. We would tax it and generate revenue.
  3. We would make marijuana less available to children.
  4. The hemp industry would be revitalized.  We currently import hemp from other countries.
  5. The issue of medical marijuana would disappear.
  6. Usage by adults might go down, as it did in Holland and Portugal.





CentOS 7 USB kickstart installation: HOWTO

I believe in repeatable processes, and keeping with that philosophy, I wanted to script the installation of CentOS 7 on a new server I was building.  I’ve used kickstart files booting over the network, but many hours invested in this and I couldn’t get my Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H to boot from my PXE server, which I had used successfully before.  So, the next best thing seemed to have the kickstart file on a USB drive, but the iterative nature of the task wasn’t well suited for this.  A friend reminded me that you can load the kickstart file via HTTP, so that seemed to be the best remaining option.

I found a post from the kickstart mailing list which described most of what I wanted to do.  However, many hours into the task it was clear there were serious typos and mistakes in the recipe.  In #3, the second directory to make is CentOS-7-KS-iso not CentOS-7-iso. In #4, there’s no reason to use compression in the local copy. And, in #8, the the dd if= argument has a typo (CSB instead of KS).

But the mother of all mistakes is in #7. Turns out the volume id of the installer must match the isolinux/isolinux.cfg file used to boot the installer. And since there were no instructions to change the latter file, this meant anyone using these instructions was destined to get this error when booting from the USB drive:

Warning: Could not boot
Warning: /dev/root does not exist

Googling for this error was not that helpful, since most of the replies had wrong or misleading information, some in places that are usually pretty reliable.  I don’t remember where I saw it, but I found a post that said the error was from mismatched volume identifiers. Yep, once I changed genisoimage to use the expected volume id, I was happily executing my kickstart file and installing CentOS 7.

I made a script to create the USB installer. I hope it helps someone else.