Just a few kilometers from where I was having dinner in Washington, the Cubs beat the Nationals 9-8 in a game I'm sure the four members of my team who went will be talking about all. Damn. Day. But hey: go, Cubs, go!
Since this was at Nationals Park, though, one has to wonder: did they let Teddy win?
Imagine the largest office building (in land area) you've ever been in, add a small shopping mall, four food courts, and the security that demonstrates exactly how silly and ineffectual airport security is, and that's the Pentagon.
I'm in a little island that's like an anti-SCIF (Secure Compartmented Information Facility). We're in the one unclassified office in the ring, complete with unclassified Internet service, and because of that, behind two steel doors and in a Faraday cage. And it's literally the only place we're allowed to take pictures, which is sad because every hallway in the building is a museum exhibit. It's weird.
That, and we can't go to the bathroom without an escort, makes this a very strange day indeed.
Also, it's like an ongoing pop quiz in uniform insignia recognition. And I'm still having problems with upper enlisted ranks.
Home tomorrow, after a visit to a military facility outside Baltimore.
I'm in Northern Virginia for a project meeting tomorrow, so not much to post today except that I'm here. Tomorrow, though, should be very interesting. I hope to have photos. But it will soon become clear why I might not actually have any photos.
Team meeting at 8am Eastern, and it's midnight, so off I go for now.
The Sears death watch continues. Eddie Lampert's combination of incompetence and narcissism has now officially destroyed Sears Canada:
Sears Canada plans to liquidate its remaining stores with the loss of about 12,000 jobs, unable to fend off the march to online shopping after operating in malls and towns across the country for 65 years.
The Toronto-based chain will seek court approval for the filing on Friday and begin liquidation sales at its remaining 150 stores on Oct. 19 at the earliest, according to a statement Tuesday. The move follows a last-minute attempt by Executive Chairman Brandon Stranzl, backed by Blackstone Group, to put together an offer to save the retailer.
But the company said it didn't receive a viable bid to keep the stores operating as a going concern. Sears Canada filed for creditor protection in June with liabilities of $880 million in U.S. currency and had been gradually closing its 225 stores.
This comes just five days after Lampert invested $100m more of his own money in keeping Sears Holdings afloat. Good luck with that.
I think the only justifiable outcome here is for Lampert to become destitute, and then not die or become homeless because of government aid.
I've got a lot going on today, with a final rehearsal tonight before Saturday's dress for Carmina Burana (get tickets here) and two business trips in the next 10 days. But there are a few articles to note in today's media:
Back to work now.
Yesterday and today I've been in meetings all day starting a new project at work. Unusually for my career, the project is not only a matter of public record, but the work will be in the public domain. That's right: I'm doing a project for the largest organization in the world, the United States Government.
Some parts of the project touch on confidential information, and I'm going to remain professionally discrete about the project details. But the project itself is unclassified, and we have permission from the sponsor to discuss it openly.
I'll have more about it tomorrow, including a photo or two I never thought I'd be able to take, let alone share publicly. Stay tuned.
The Atlantic worries that there's a "coming software apocalypse:"
There will be more bad days for software. It's important that we get better at making it, because if we don't, and as software becomes more sophisticated and connected—as it takes control of more critical functions—those days could get worse.
The problem is that programmers are having a hard time keeping up with their own creations. Since the 1980s, the way programmers work and the tools they use have changed remarkably little. There is a small but growing chorus that worries the status quo is unsustainable. “Even very good programmers are struggling to make sense of the systems that they are working with,” says Chris Granger, a software developer who worked as a lead at Microsoft on Visual Studio, an IDE that costs $1,199 a year and is used by nearly a third of all professional programmers. He told me that while he was at Microsoft, he arranged an end-to-end study of Visual Studio, the only one that had ever been done. For a month and a half, he watched behind a one-way mirror as people wrote code. “How do they use tools? How do they think?” he said. “How do they sit at the computer, do they touch the mouse, do they not touch the mouse? All these things that we have dogma around that we haven’t actually tested empirically.”
The findings surprised him. “Visual Studio is one of the single largest pieces of software in the world,” he said. “It’s over 55 million lines of code. And one of the things that I found out in this study is more than 98 percent of it is completely irrelevant. All this work had been put into this thing, but it missed the fundamental problems that people faced. And the biggest one that I took away from it was that basically people are playing computer inside their head.”
I'm not sure that there's a coming apocalypse. Things get more complex; we have adapted pretty well as a species. I imagine taking any of today's top technologists forward 1000 or 2000 years (or even 100 or 200) and watching their heads explode. A bronze-age Egyptian wouldn't understand a telescope. An iron-age Roman wouldn't understand movable type. And Guttenberg himself wouldn't understand a light bulb, let alone the 1920x1200 LED monitors I have in front of me.
So I'm not too worried about an apocalypse. But as a programmer, I'm very worried about crappy software.
Also, it's interesting that the author singled out Visual Studio, which is the tool I use most often to write software. (I wrote all this blog's customizations with it, for example.)
Via Bruce Schneier, a British reporter requested her data dossier from Tinder. As with so many other things in life, she was shocked, but not surprised:
The dating app has 800 pages of information on me, and probably on you too if you are also one of its 50 million users. In March I asked Tinder to grant me access to my personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under EU data protection law, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder.
With the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye from personaldata.io and human rights lawyer Ravi Naik, I emailed Tinder requesting my personal data and got back way more than I bargained for.
Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes”, my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on.
What will happen if this treasure trove of data gets hacked, is made public or simply bought by another company? I can almost feel the shame I would experience. The thought that, before sending me these 800 pages, someone at Tinder might have read them already makes me cringe.
But as Schneier points out, "It's not [just] Tinder. Surveillance is the business model of the Internet. Everyone does this."
Republican Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, the best governor we have right now, vetoed a bill that would have required companies to get affirmative consent from consumers before selling their geolocation data:
“The bill is not overreaching,” said Chris McCloud, a spokesman for the Digital Privacy Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit advocating for state-level privacy legislation. “It is merely saying, ‘If you’re going to sell my personal geolocation data, then just tell me upfront that’s what you are going to do so I can make a decision as to whether I want to download this app or not.’ ”
The Federal Trade Commission has issued general guidance, and there are a variety of industry self-regulatory codes of conduct, from automakers to online advertisers, but federal law does not provide clear geolocation privacy protection.
The online advertising industry increasingly depends on tracking consumers to serve up lucrative and effective targeted ads. Data collection enables advertisers to learn everything from your search habits and recent purchases to where you travel, often in real time.
Remember: you're the product, not the customer. And that's how Republicans like it.
The January release of Google Chrome will prevent videos from auto-playing:
Starting in Chrome 64, which is currently earmarked for a January 2018 release, auto-play will only be allowed when the video in question is muted or when a "user has indicated an interest in the media."
The latter applies if the site has been added to the home screen on mobile or if the user has frequently played media on the site on desktop. Google also says auto-play will be allowed if the user has "tapped or clicked somewhere on the site during the browsing session."
"Chrome will be making auto-play more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio," writes Google in a blog post. "These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers."
I mean, really. The more advertisers annoy the shit out of us, the less effective it will be effective.