Hello, is this mike on?

While I seem to have moved my blogging to a micro.blog site, I think I still prefer to keep my long form writing on the site that I edit using 1999.io, which I call Let’s Be Frank.

Let’s Be Frank is hosted as a static web site in a S3 bucket. I created a CNAME that points to the bucket name and it all works well and accessible via HTTP. The problem is that I do not have the site set up with SSL and therefore it is not accessible via HTTPS, and that might become a problem in the near future.

From my POV I ought to be able to simply get a cert for writing.frankmcpherson.org and put the cert in the S3 bucket, enable port 443 in the AWS firewall and be done, but enabling SSL for a S3 bucket doesn’t appear to be that easy.

So, what to do? To be honest, I am annoyed that I have to suss through any of this for a static web site / blog that does NOT need to be protected by HTTPS but Google seems to want to drive everyone down this path. 

It's hard to argue against tax cuts, if we are honest nobody really likes the idea of money they earn being taken out of their paycheck. Consequently, it's not surprising that the Republican's tax reform is well received, but I fear it is mostly putting lipstick on a pig. 

Paying taxes is made more painful when one's wages are stagnant. Republicans like to claim tax cuts provide incentives to corporations to hire more people or increase wages, but reality does not bear this out. (Oh, and by the way, the job market is much different now than in the 1980s. Back then it was somewhat reasonable to think that for companies to sell more they need to hire more employees, but in today's digital economy fewer companies need to hire more employees to sell more product because they just increase their orders from Chinese suppliers.)

Republicans will point to the stock market as the measurement of how their policies are working. The problem is, at best the stock market measures profits, while in reality it is just a measurement of how people "feel" about a particular company. Most important, the stock market is not a measurement of how many new jobs a company offers, in fact it is just the opposite, with stock prices increasing when companies announce job cuts.

My point in all of this is that tax reform is a misdirection from our real problems. One such problem, as this Politico Magazine article describes, is that our entire social safety net (health care and retirement) is based on full time employment that is increasingly non-existent. 

Worse, the root of the problem is the high cost of health care that nobody talks about. Does anyone wonder why nobody questions the $6500 charge for a 10 minute CT Scan, for example? 

So, at some point in the next year you might get about $30 more in your paycheck thanks to the tax cut, but that is likely much less than how much more you will pay this coming year for health insurance. You will not get a raise and your job will remain at risk of being eliminated. Sure, nobody will force you to buy health insurance, so you will be less irritated about that until that day when you double over in pain, end up in ER, and get a cancer diagnosis.  

Google has stopped selling the Pixel C, which is not too surprising, the writing has been on the wall for some time.

I've personally used Android for tablets for pretty much for as long as there has been Android for tablets, and I've personally not considered it to be any worse than iOS on tablets (read iPad). 

All this being said, I currently own a Nexus 9, which is now long in the tooth. I was not persuaded to replace the Nexus 9 with the Pixel C, now demised, due to price, more than anything.

Two things, however, have moved my primary tablet usage from Android to iOS/iPad. First off, due to a need at work for a device running a current version of iOS, I bought a refurbed iPad Mini 4 and frankly find it to be the best piece of tablet hardware available. Actually, prior to iOS 11, I would say that Android is the best tablet OS while iPad is the best tablet hardware.

This year I bought the iPad Pro 10.5 and Apple Pencil, which for me is the ultimate work tool. The Apple Pencil is the second reason why I moved from Android tablets to the iPad.

One area where Google failed with tablets, in my opinion, is in the lack of stylus support. Despite what Steve Jobs, among others, may have said, it turns out a stylus/active pen is a very useful accessory for tablets. Please note there is an important difference between a stylus as an accessory, as is the case for the Pro models of the iPad, and requiring a stylus to use a device, as was the case for all Personal Digital Assistants and smartphones prior to the iPhone.

I am a long user of styli as mobile device accessories while fully recognizing the importance of the touch user interface introduced by Apple.

I find it interesting that the new Pixelbook has support for an active pen, however because the Chromebook Pixel will not be used primarily in "tablet" mode, I doubt many people will buy the Pixelbook Pen for the limited functionality it provides.

Despite the predictable hand wringing that will go on about Android and tablets, I personally think the lack of a tablet from Google speaks more about tablets in general and less about Android. 

Keep in mind, iPad sales were dropping until this year when Apple dropped the price significantly. I suspect the lower priced iPads sold very well this holiday season. At the previous high prices, iPads were bought either by people with plenty of cash or who saw a real use for them that justified the expense. At lower prices, the iPad moves more to "why not" purchases, and that alone might spure the iPad toward fulfilling the dream of it replacing notebook computers.

With the flagship brand having difficulty selling its own tablet, is there really a market for tablets? Most likely not, particularly when you throw large screen smartphones into the mix. 

So, at this point, I don't expect Google to ever release another tablet. Given the work they have been doing in combining Chrome OS and Android, I think any device with a 7-inch screen or larger will run Chrome OS. The question is, will Google simply stand pat with a $650 phone and a $999 laptop, or do they need another in-between priced, larger screen device? 

If Google releases another Pixel brand product, I think it most likely to be be a 2-in-1 detachable akin to the Microsoft Surface Pro. Two reasons make this the likely approach, in my opinion.

First despite how nice it is, I doubt Google is going to sell a lot of Pixelbooks, for nothing more than Google cannot overcome the stigma of ChromeOS on an expensive notebook. People are programmed into thinking ChromeOS is not a full operating system, and seem to think that a $1000 notebook must have a full operating system akin to Windows 10.

Second, a detachable 2-in-1 enables Google to kill two birds with one stone. A detachable provides a real tablet (in my opinion fold behinds are not real tablets) when you don't use a keyboard, and such a product could be priced from $600 to $800 to provide a lower price alternative to the Pixelbook. 

The tell for all this will be Google I/O 2018. If Google does not announce something to replace the Pixel C then, I doubt they will ever release a Pixel slate/tablet, which means they cede that particular niche of hardware to other companies. 

I got a Raspberry Pi Zero W as a Christmas gift and I have spent yesterday and today getting it set up, which for the most part means installing the operating system.

First off, now that I have one in hand, I am really surprised by the size of the Pi Zero, it is 2.5 inches long by 1.25 inches tall. For some reason I thought the Pi Zero was larger.

The kit that I received comes with everything you need to get going. It includes the Pi Zero W board, a case with three different tops, a mini HDMI to full HDMI dongle, a micro USB to USB A dongle, a micro SD card, and power supply.

The micro SD card is the primary storage device for the Raspberry Pi and one of the first things that you need to do is configure it with an operating system. The card is pre-configured for a New Out Of Box (NOOB) experience, meaning that it comes configured to guide you through installing a variety of different operating systems.

Raspbian is a customized distribution of Debian tailored for the Raspberry Pi, and is what is recommended for new users. There are other OS images configured to set up a Raspberry Pi as a media server, for example, while Raspbian is configured to function like a standard Linux desktop.

I am not really a new user, I first bought a Raspberry Pi 2 a couple of years ago, and therefore I knew that the version of Raspbian that came with the Pi Zero is based on Debian “Jessie” that is not the most current version, that is based on Debian “Stretch” and available for download from raspberrypi.org.

It has taken me several attempts but I have finally got Debian “Stretch” installed and current on my Pi Zero.

First, I did the default install, but when so fast through the menus that I failed to configure the Pi Zero to connect to my WiFi network, consequently the installed failed in its attempts to obtain the latest version of files resulting in being half complete.

The good thing about Raspberry Pi is that it is intended for experimentation and failures, which leads to learning, and the Raspberry Pi was developed first and foremost as a learning tool. To start over all I need to do is press the Shift key while starting up to put the Pi in Recovery mode from which I can start the install process over.

This time, I paid more attention and configured NOOB to connect to my WiFi network, and that resulted in seeing more options, including one for installing Debian Stretch, which was labeled as Recommended, and so that is what I selected.

Alas, the computer gods were not being cooperative and while downloading the install files my home network lost connection to the Internet. After fixing the Internet connection I attempted to restart the installation, but ended up in the end with kernel panics and other errors that lead me to believe I had another bad installation. Strike 2.

Next, I thought I would revert back to the Jessie version of Raspbian that is on the SD card and then do a dist-upgrade. I seemed to make more progress, succeeding in getting Jessie installed but then the attempt to do the dist-upgrade was taking too long and I grew impatient and cancelled it.

At this point I decided to download the version of Raspbian Stretch to my MacBook and flash it on to the storage card using Etcher.io. I noted earlier that the kit that I got came with a case, and I installed the Pi Zero into that case that has cutouts for the HDMI, USB, and power ports, but oddly it does not have a cutout for the SD card. To remove the SD card you have to remove the Pi Zero from the case, which at least is easy to do by gently pushing the board up from the bottom via an exposed slot.

The recommendation I would make to others is to get the Pi Zero all configured before installing it in the case, just to make life a little easier if you end up having to remove the SD card several times.

After downloading the OS image, flashing it with Etcher, inserting it in the Pi Zero and booting it up, I ended up at the Pixel desktop in which I could then customize how I want the Pi Zero to boot. In my case I changed the default password, configured it for access via SSH, and set it to boot to the command line rather than the full desktop.

After rebooting so that the SSH settings could take affect, I was ready for the final pass at upgrading (apt-get upgrade) which I did, but ended up with another kernel panic when it attempted to upgrade openssh. Another reboot later, I did another apt-get upgrade and was instructed to run dpkg –configure -a to finish the upgrade that was interrupted and finally ended up with a complete install.

For the moment I am not sure exactly how I will be using the Pi Zero, but there are many projects available on the Internet. I have a Pi 2 and Pi 3 running nearly full time in my home office.

My Pi 2, which is mounted to a seven inch display, is serving as a desk clock that displays my diary for the next three days, the local weather and four day forecast, and CNN newsfeed over pictures that rotate every couple of minutes. The display power cord is connected to a smart plug controlled by a motion sensor that turns it and a light off when there is no movement near my desk for ten minutes.

The Pi 3 is running an in-house instance of River5, which I use to follow my RSS subscriptions. I also use it to test a variety of Nodejs apps, and I have even experimented with running Mac OS 7 in emulation. 

One of my goals for the holiday break is to complete a course on Nodejs, and because I am a bit crazy, I want to do this using my iPad Pro, which I am trying to use as my primary personal computer.

Unfortunately, there is no app/container for Nodejs on iOS, so the only way I can run the code I am writing is to use another computer. In this case I am using a server running Ubuntu, which I access using an ssh client on my iPad.

To write the code I could use any text editor, but a code editor, or IDE, is more useful. Since I am accessing a server via ssh, I could simply use vim or nano on that server, but that requires a persistent connection to the server and I want to first try writing the code in an app on my iPad.

I did some research about apps for programming on an iPad and found Coda to be the most recommended, but relative to most iOS apps, the $25 price of Coda is really expensive. However, I justified the purchase to myself by noting that Coda also has an SSH client, so it is basically two apps in one making the price tag more palatable.

I am using Git/Github to move the code I am writing on the iPad to the Ubuntu server. First, I created a repository under my Github account. Next, I set up remote access to that repository using WorkingCopy, which most consider the best Git app for iOS.

First, I set up a terminal session to the Ubuntu server in Coda. Next, I created a folder in Coda to store the JavaScript files that I am writing. To test my apps, I export the JavaScript file from Coda to WorkingCopy, commit and then push the changes in WorkingCopy, and finally go back to the SSH terminal in Coda to run the script.

Obviously, while I can write scripts while disconnected, I cannot check them into Github nor run them without a connection to the Internet. However, the reality is that I am hardly ever not connected, so I think this workflow will work pretty well. 

A few weeks ago I received an invite to Micro.blog, having requested one earlier in the year. It has now opened up to everyone, so if you are interested in it, here is what I have learned about it so far.

Micro.blog, developed by Manton Reece, is a cross between Twitter and blogs. Reece started the project on Kickstarter. The idea is to provide a way for users to own short forms of web content. Overall I like the service and plan to continue to use it, although the one thing I think it is missing as a blogging platform is the idea of archives. (Or at least I haven't discovered it if it exists.)

Like Twitter, Micro.blog has a timeline, where you see items posted by other Micro.blog users that you are following. You can favorite items, see mentions, and discover other users on separate tabs. 

New posts are published to a timeline (like Twitter), a profile page, and a blog. Items that you share into Micro.blog are only published to the timeline, you have to explicitly create new blog posts via the app. You can configure RSS and JSON feeds to automatically post to the timeline, but those items are not published to your blog.

The app is available on the web, and for OS X and iOS. An API exists so that anyone can write an app for other platforms, and I believe an Android app is in development. To grow, Micro.blog needs at a minimum an Android app, in my opinion. If you use a Mac and use MarsEdit, you can use it to post items to micro.blog.

Blogs are hosted and cost $5 per month. It is a little unclear to me whether you can use the timeline (Twitter) features and not host a micro.blog. The URL for blogs are [username].micro.blog by default, which is pretty nice, but you can map a domain name you own pretty easily. 

There are six default styles for your blog, but you can create your own style via CSS. You also have the ability to mirror your blog to a Github site, as a backup. 

I find the hosted aspect of Micro.blog a bit inconsistent with my understanding of Indieweb. As far as I can tell, the only way to get your data out of micro.blog is to mirror it to Github, which is better than nothing, but to me not the same as publishing directly to a web server under one's control. 

What I like about micro.blog is the clean layout and lack of advertising, although you are paying $5 per month. The iOS app is simple to use, and makes creating new blog posts on an iPhone and iPad easier than with Wordpress. Frankly, I like having both web and tablet apps, unlike just one or the other as is the case with 1999.io that I use for this site.

Another aspect of interest to me, but which I have not looked into, is the plan for SSL of hosted sites. Given the push to SSL, the value of which for blogs is debatable, I like the idea of an easy way to set up SSL. 

My one nit with micro.blog at this time is that I think the blogging component needs to support archives. Right now the blog is one continual thread you page through, which means things you write will be harder to find over time. I would like micro.blog to provide a way to consolidate a month's worth of posts to an index page, such as you find on my site here. Most users appear to be using their micro.blog as an index to other blog sites that has archival features.

Now that micro.blog has opened up, I expect to see more people checking it out. Whether they decide to pay the money to stay around after the first month, only time will tell. The question is, will people stick to it for the network that will form around the timeline, or because it is an easy to use blogging platform? 

I found a service called Skeddly that provides an easy way to automate and schedule administrative tasks in AWS, including creating Lightsail snapshots. Skeddly has a free usage tier that provides creating 20 snapshots per month, which should cover me. Each additional snapshot beyond the 20 costs $0.15. I've signed up for the 30 day free trial.

Yesterday I did more research about backing up or exporting the data that I put in to Monica. Monica does have an Export Data function that exports to SQL. From what I can tell, it creates an extract or copy of the MySQL database. 

The problem is that Monica doesn't have an easy way for importing data back in. The Import Data function exports the vCard format to provide a way to move data from Google and Outlook to Monica. The export function is intended for moving from the hosted version of Monica to your own instance and the developers assume that if you ware going to host Monica then you will know enough about MySQL to figure out how to import the data, but I don't, yet. I've entered a feature request to provide a way to backup data.

Another option is to backup the server, and for that I can use Lightsail's instance snapshots. It is pretty easy to create a snapshot, either using the portal of the AWS CLI, but if I were to go this route and I wanted regular backups I would need to do scripting to create a snapshot on a nightly basis. 

The other concern I have with snapshots is that I can't tell how much I am going to be billed for them. Amazon says it will charge $0.05 per GB month for storage, and if you only have one snapshot then you pay for the entire disk. Subsequent snapshots are only charged for deltas. Consequently, the baseline snapshot of the 20 GB disk cost me $1.00 per month, subsequent deltas may cost pennies.

For the moment, creating Lightsail instance snapshots appears to be the simplest approach to backing up data. I have found an AWS Lambda script that automates the creation of snapshots.

I've created a server in Amazon Lightsail to host Monica. Lightsail is a user-friendly version of AWS, with easier to understand pricing. I've provisioned the lowest cost virtual server using Debian Jessie.

I initially tried to implement the instructions for hosting on Debian Stretch but the instructions didn't translate backward to Jessie perfectly, so I aborted that attempt. My next attempt using the Docker instructions was successful. When I installed Monica earlier this year on my Mintbox I used Docker. I got the instructions up and running pretty quickly. Before I go further with entering data I want to understand how to backup data given that it is being stored in a container running mysql.

This is my second go with Monica, when I first learned of it I installed the Dockerized version on a PC in my home office. I stopped using after a while, mostly because since it was hosted on a computer on my home network it wasn't accessible to me outside the home. 

My interest in personal relationship management comes from my need to store information about people with whom I work with that goes beyond what you normally store in an address book. The question at hand is, do I need structured data such as you put in a database like Monica, or do I need unstructured data like you put in Evernote?

My first instinct is unstructured, built in to my electronic notebooks that I use for capturing information. The ideal for me is something like a Wiki where I can create pages for each person with whom I interact that contains their information, and then when I write notes and enter that person's name, a link is automatically created to that information page. I know VoodooPad can do this, but it only runs on OS X and I need something that runs in Windows and iOS.

Evernote and OneNote both provide ways to link to pages, but they aren't automatic and therefore take too much time to create the network of links. The other challenge is that I am writing most of my notes in digital ink in OneNote so doing what I want would require OCR and linking, which is not something I hold out hope in finding any time soon. 

Getting some technical items cleared out today. I've set up a backup of my micro.blog and now I am playing a bit more with the viewport setting here, let's see if this helps. Changed the template to just set the initial view, removing device width. Changing to .5 went in the wrong direction. Let's double and see what happens. Now, back a little bit. And a little more. Now with a personal copy of the CSS. 

I am getting closer. Now it is rendering nice on my iPad mini, but not so on the iPad Pro. 

And boom! Success after bumping up mastuck_out_tongue_closed_eyesevice-width to 1024px. Now this site should be rendering correctly on all size tablets.

Do I need to republish all pages? Going to anyway. 

From November 27 thru December 7, 2017, I was in Bermuda for a business trip. Here are what I will remember most from this trip.

Narrow, winding roads. The taxi ride from the airport to hotel was my first introduction to why one cannot rent a car in Bermuda. Not only do the taxi cabs want to retain their business, but the roads require experience driving. Scooters are the predominant mode of transportation. Driving is on the left side of the road, steering wheel on the right.

Beautiful weather. Sunshine was prominent with some clouds in the morning, usually clearing during the day. It was noticeably hot and humid the first couple of days, but the humidity gave way to warm breezes during the rest of my stay. I spent time most evenings sitting on the patio of my hotel room, overlooking the harbor.

Walking. The offices in which I was working was a mile away from the hotel, and we walked there and back and every where else. On Saturday I walked 20,000 steps.

Hills. For some reason I was not expecting as many hills as there are in Bermuda. I should have known given the island was formed by volcanoes.

Expensive. It is easy to spend $20 on lunch and double that or more on dinner. Just about everything is imported, which contributes to the higher prices.

While the reason why I was there was business, I did spend a weekend and got to do some sightseeing. We took a ferry to the Royal Navy Dockyard, and spent about three hours walking around. November/December is “off peak” travel time to Bermuda, so there weren’t as many tourists as one might expect. The Dockyard was not crowded, which made for comfortable walking but probably dampened the energy.

The trip was very satisfying for some obvious and not so obvious reasons, and I hope to be able to go back again some day.

I am back home in Michigan after spending the last ten days in Bermuda. Yesterday my day started with sunshine and 65 degrees and ended in the dark with 26 degrees.

As we look ahead toward the second year of the Trump presidency, we need to start asking more why questions. Why will the tax cut improve lives? Why will limitations on immigration make us safer? And, we have to patiently continue to ask until the questions are answered.

I am trying Firefox Quantum across my devices to see whether I will like it better than Chrome. One thing I find appealing is its integrated Reader View that makes it easier to read content on my iPad. I have Safari on my iPad configured to automatically display all pages in Reader mode. So far Google refuses to provide such a mode, which is an example of how their advertising-based revenue model conflicts with users.

If anyone who reads this blog can help me, I would like to figure out how to center the body of this site when it is rendered in portrait orientation on iOS devices. Right now when you load this page in portrait the left side of the middle portion of this page aligns to the FrankNet drop down menu, but when you rotate the device to landscape view the left side shifts left, lining up basically under the "r" of the "Let's Be Frank" at the top of the display.

Much talk about lowering the corporate tax rate to 25% with common thinking that corporations like it and it hurts regular people. Except many corporations won't like like because right now they pay nearly no tax thanks to all the loopholes. 

I am reading articles about Compuserve, which has me wonder when I closed my account. I still remember my ID: 73217,351

Wikipedia has a good article about Compuserve, and here is an episode on Compuserve of the Internet History Podcast.

I've been using the Pixel 2 for a couple weeks now, enough time to get a feel for battery life. I use AccuBattery Pro to monitor battery life, particularly paying attention to the percentage of screen off time in deep sleep and correspondingly the percentage decrease in battery while the screen is off. 

Generally, I am finding battery life on the Pixel 2 to be no better or worse than the Nexus 6P. When all is right I see nearly 75% of screen of time in deep sleep and about 1.5% battery decrease while the screen is off. AccuBattery estimates 5h 18m of screen on time, 36h 22m of screen off time, and 25h 39m of combined use time.  All these numbers align to my use case.

I have found that for some reason Google's automatic wallpaper change prevents the phone from going in to deep sleep and therefore battery consumption jumps to around 5% of screen off time. Consequently, I don't let Android automatically change the wallpaper. Clearly there is some bad programming with that feature because I don't understand why such a thing should prevent the phone from going into deep sleep. In fact, I thought Android O came with a feature that better managed such bad behavior by forcing apps to allow deep sleep. 

Apparently the Compuserve forums have been open and are just being shut down. 

The 2016 Democratic Party primary only looks rigged to those who either don't know or don't want to admit how party politics works. Vox has a good article summarizing how the party coalesced around Clinton and how her path to nomination was cleared, and there is nothing abnormal about it.  

Vox concludes that there should have been more candidates in the Democratic primary, but I think that is convenient thinking that overlooks primary history. Jimmy Carter's re-election bid was thwarted part by a internal party struggle between he and Ted Kennedy. It is generally believed that a party should quickly fall in to line behind an incumbent president seeking re-election because that demonstrates unity and more importantly consolidates money. 

Another important point that Bernie supporters refuse to accept is that he is not a Democrat. Two people attempted to hijack party nominations, one succeeded and became president while the other failed against a long-time Democrat. I just don't understand why anyone would think the Democrat elites, who really run the party, would ever blindly accept Bernie with open arms. 

Those with a beef with the fact that Bernie didn't get a "fair shot" really have a beef with our overall political party process, and that is not really just a Democrat or Republican thing. 

Microsoft has changed the inking in OneNote for iOS. First they changed ink colors and I now cannot use the blue I had been using. When I select More Ink Colors, select a color and select apply, the color does not stick, instead it defaults to black!

Another problem I am having is with ink thickness. I am pretty sure the medium thickness is thicker than I have been using, while the next level down seems too think. I've been used to the ink looking like writing with a marker, but if it is too thick letters get blurred together and can become hard to read.

God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” -Genesis 4:6–7, The Message

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. - Matthew 5:21–22, The Message

Emphasis mine.

A year ago tonight (or really early tomorrow morning ET) the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. Watching the Astros celebrate caused me to remember the euphoria I felt a year ago. 

Just wrote a 380 word blog post using the Brydge 10.5-inch keyboard attached to my iPad Pro 10.5 while sitting in our Lazy-Boy recliner. I am warming up to this keyboard.

Monday evening my wife informed me of a noticeable loss of water pressure in our house. After a couple years of flooding due to sump pump failures and a crack in our foundation, my first reaction was “what now?” A quick look at the water valve into our condo and the remainder of the basement found nothing obviously wrong.

My wife later found on Twitter a report of a water main break just a couple of miles from our house. The break in the 48-inch water main caused about a dozen metropolitan Detroit communities to be under a boil water advisory for the rest of the week. One community had no water while some had lower than usual pressure.

In light of the suffering in Puerto Rico, Houston, and Flint, our water “issue” was really a first-world inconvenience. Just the weekend before several members of our church ran in the Detroit Marathon to raise funds for World Vision, which is a charitable organization that focuses on providing clean water in third world countries.

It’s trite, I know, to say that you don’t truly appreciate something until you don’t have it. We boiled water to use for making coffee and brushing teeth. I spoiled two toothbrushes by thoughtlessly rinsing them after brushing, demonstrating how slow my mind functions in the morning.

Now that the boil water advisory has lifted, and we have flushed our water pipes, drained our hot water heater, and replaced the water filter in the fridge, it will likely take little more than a few days for this episode to be behind. Yet every day there are people who walk tens of miles just to retrieve clean water. Those of us who live in countries with treated and running water tend to take for granted our good fortune.

I've installed Android 8.1 on my Nexus 6P but not yet had the time to take a hard look for any new features.

I am not sure that people like Jeff Flake not returning to the Senate is a good thing. The current situation can become much worse if more people with Trump's ideology are elected to office. 

On the other hand, if deciding to not seek re-election frees people up to actually govern, wouldn't that make a case for term limits? 

Connoisseurs of American sports consider football to be the ultimate team sport because no one player can directly impact the outcome of a game. Even the best quarterback cannot succeed if there is not a good offensive line blocking to provide time to throw the ball and receivers capable of catching the ball. A good offense can score lots of points but if the defense does not prevent the opposing team from scoring, the team can still lose the game.

Last night we learned the degree to which baseball is a team sport. The Los Angeles Dodgers are clearly the better team than the Chicago Cubs, which is why the Dodgers will be playing the World Series this year. We also learned how difficult it is for aebaseball team to repeat its prior year performance.

The final analysis of the Cub’s play during the League Championship series will likely point the finger at their anemic hitting. What might be overlooked is how their poor bullpen affected the hitting and how the poor hitting affected starting pitching.

The poor Cubs bullpen, exacerbated more by the Dodger’s excellent bullpen, shortened the game. Cubs hitters knew they had to hit and score runs in the early innings to have a chance to win. Success in baseball comes primarily in how the players handle pressure.

Pressure on the hitters causes them to do things they otherwise don’t, and that provides a huge advantage to opposing pitchers.

Cub’s starting pitching went into the games thinking they had to pitch a shutout to win because they weren’t getting any run support. Further, the starting pitchers knew the bullpen was not doing their job and therefore felt they not only had to pitch a shutout, but do so for at least six, if not seven, innings.

Pressure on pitchers tends to cause them to not throw through the ball where they want, resulting in walks or lots of hits and home runs. Cubs pitching gave up too much of all these in this series.

In contrast, Dodger hitters had no pressure to do anything more than they did all season. Relaxed hitters can do unexpected things like Enrique Hernandez’s three home runs last night. Dodger pitching enabled the hitters to relax and their bullpen and hitting enabled the starting pitching to not have to worry if they gave up runs early in the game, hitting and relieving always gave the Dodgers a chance to win.

In other words, even though an individual pitcher or hitter can influence the outcome of a game, baseball is still very much a team sport and a balanced team is necessary for winning championships. The 2017 National League Championship Series proved the Los Angelas Dodgers to be the better team than the Chicago Cubs, and that is why they are playing in the World Series.

On July 25, 2016 the Chicago Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the New York Yankees. The trade for Chapman proved to be the pinnacle moment for the Cubs’s quest to play in the 2016 World Series and ultimately become World Champions.

In my opinion Chapman was the the World Series MVP. The shutdown inning he pitched in the bottom of the nineth inning after giving up the game tying home run in the eighth inning was incredible when you consider the emotions of blowing the save that would have won the championship. Without the shutdown inning Zobrist would not have the opportunity to make the big game winning hit.

Now, a day after the Cubs have lost to Dodgers in the 2017 National League Championship Series, you can more clearly see the importance of that trade in July, 2016. Even though Chapman was a rental, the Cubs did not really pursue signing him, he was definitely the final piece of the puzzle of a surprising 2016 season.

The Chicago Cubs went in to 2016 having lost in the 2015 League Championship series with expectations of another division championship, but doubts of whether the team had matured enough to make a first appearance in the World Series in more than 100 years.

The biggest question was what impact Kris Bryant’s pending call up from the minors would have on the team. Everyone new Bryant was good, but nobody expected him to be named league MVP in his rookie season.

2016 was not expected to be the year for the Cub’s first World Series appearance, most thought 2017, this year, would be that year. Yet still, the Cubs exceeded expectations, and by July of 2016 Cubs management rightly recognized the timeline had accelerated and they had to seize the moment.

In other words, what we have learned this year is how the opportunities for championships rarely go as planned and the importance for seizing the moment when it arrives. To state what may be obvious, changes made between seasons impact the upcoming season’s performance, but mid-season changes make or break post-season performance.

How much more crushing would the defeat last night had been if Jed and Theo had not made that trade for Chapman? So, while last year I proclaimed Chapman my 2016 World Series MVP, in hindsight that award really belonged to the front office.

I am surprised to find that last year I only wrote two posts about the Chicago Cubs playoff run through the World Series. One post was the day after they won the World Series, the other was a few days later.

While the Cubs did win the NL Central this year and have made it to the League Championship Series, they are not playing as good as they did last year. Not getting timely or big hits, not doing the little things, and inconsistent bullpen pitching. Maddon is being out managed by Roberts.

The real problem is that the Cubs are not hitting. Tonight is game three of the series and the first game of the series at Wrigley Field. If they win tonight, they are right in the series with still a chance to win, but if they lose I think ultimately they will not win the series even if they win the game tomorrow night.

So far the Cubs have not had much energy nor excitement in this series and that has to change tonight. Hopefully they follow the Yankees lead who is on the verge of evening the ALCS after losing the first two games in Houston. Can the Cubs be as good as the Yankees?

Several weeks ago I ordered the Brydge 10.5 keyboard to use with my iPad Pro. The keyboard is aluminum and when you close the iPad onto the keyboard it is a little larger than a MacBook.

You slide the iPad into a pair of hinges that holds it so security that you can lift up the iPad and the keyboard does not fall off. To remove the iPad you have to hold down on the base and pull the iPad up, and while snug, it is relatively easy to remove.

The keyboard is the same size as the iPad Pro 10.5 in landscape, so the keyboard is large enough for touch type but it is smaller than most notebook keyboards and feels cramped. While the letter and number keys appear to be “standard” size, all other keys like shift are slightly smaller. Bottom line is that the keyboard takes getting used to, is serviceable, but if you want to type for hours you might want to use a larger keyboard.

A definite advantage to the keyboard being aluminum is that it is lapable, so if you are the type who frequently types with a notebook on your lap you will like the Brydge. I imagine that the the 12.9 inch version of this keyboard, which is designed for the “original” iPad Pro 12.9 is nearly perfect.

The Brydge keyboards are not the cheapest, but I think if you travel and seriously need a keyboard, this is the one to have as it is likely very usable in an airplane.

It was definitely a short morning after being up to 1 AM watching the Cubs survive over the Nationals. I can't believe they won; they shouldn't have given the circumstances. The Nats aggressiveness in the bottom of the nineth helped Wade Davis. 

Chicago definitely has a bullpen problem, Justin Wilson's ineffectiveness wrecked Jed and Theo's plan. 

When I go to this Internet History podcast page, audio starts playing, but I can't find anything on the web page to control the audio playback. Very annoying! 

For some reason, I am not getting a menu bar when loading the 1999.io editor. It appears the 1999.io code is trying to load scripts from fargo.io that it is no longer has access to. The problem is also visible at my.1999.io, you will notice there is no sign on option. Fortunately, for now the menu bar does appear on rendered blog sites, the problem is just appearing with the 1999 editor. Also, obviously, I am still able to write new stories, I just don't have a menu bar. Update: Problem fixed! 

Google's Event

Google had their Pixel event today, during which they announced new Pixel phones. After checking out the store, I am leaning towards a Pixel 2 mostly because I see that Google will give me $150 back for a trade-in of my Nexus 6P. It's disappointing that the white version of the phone will not ship until the end of November. I hope the trade-in offer will continue through that time.

I think it is interesting that Google still has the original Pixel in the store.

The Pixelbook is pretty, and I get the reaction to the idea of spending $999 for a Chromebook. The storage sizes are interesting (128 GB minimum SSD up to 512 GB) What if there was a real easy way also run a Linux distro? Does that make the $999 more palatable? I've been reading some interesting ideas relating to virtualization and containerization and the Pixelbook.

All the other hardware announcements are meh! What's up with those cameras? 

I think it is a telling sign that more people get upset by football players not "standing at attention" than millions of people suffering as a result of a hurricane and our government's indifference to their fellow citizen's plight. 

Of the new Echo devices announced by Amazon yesterday, I find the Echo Plus the most attractive. My interest lies in the smarthome hub claim, but I am a little skeptical. 

The claim is that you can use the Echo Plus as hub for IoT devices like Philips Hue light bulbs. What I should be able to conclude from this is that you don't need to buy a Hue Hub to control the light bulbs because the Echo Plus provides that functionality. 

The problem is that other IoT applications that I have seen, like SmartThings tell you that you control other devices like Hue light bulbs, but what they mean is that the app talks via the SmartThings hub to the Hue hub. You need both hubs connected to your network to control all of the devices, and Alexa also expects to see the hubs on the network in order to control the devices.

So, if it is true that the $150 Echo Plus can replace the Hue hub and the SmartThings hub so that you can directly control the associated devices, then this is a great deal. However, I need to find out whether you can truly get rid of these IoT-specific hubs. 

As a citizen in Michigan, and watching how the state and local government screwed up the water situation in Flint, I can't help but be skeptical of the Republican mantra that state and local governments always make better decisions.

Why should we think that simply giving money to states via block grants is going to improve health care? 

Peter Drucker:

..an organization in which everybody meets all the time is an organization in which no one gets anything done.

I am looking at this map of the U.S. economy, and in particular wondering to myself how it will be addressed. Clearly, folks in the south are convinced that illegal immigrants are the cause of their problems, but if that is the case and all those people were deported would those jobs really be filled by citizens or robots? 

When I look at the map for the part of the Michigan were I was raised, the Upper Peninsula, I don't see any solution proposed by the President that will improve employment there.