Is the underlying principle of debate the intent to change the mind of those who disagree with you? And if so, what happens if one gives up wanting to change others minds? It sounds to me to be the difference between dictating decisions and making decisions based on consensus. It's also the difference between arguing and shouting. Let's not forget, democracy was never intended to be efficient, and in fact not all efficiency is good. 

The Chicago Cubs are on the air. Spring is surely here! 

I've seen it written about how personal computing has changed from "speeds and feeds" to things like battery life and portability. Up until now I have not really observed this first hand, but that has changed now that I have a new work computer.

The new EliteBook 745G3 has an AMD processor with four cores but scores lower using Geekbench than the HP ProBook 6460b that it is replacing, which is five years older! From a performance perspective, it would be better to keep the ProBook, but it is much larger and heavier than the 745G and that makes it desirable.

The 745G3 benchmarks slightly better than my 2010 Macbook Air. Note that both older computers have faster (> 2 Ghz) CPUs and fewer cores.

I find the comparison between the 745G3 and the Surface 3 fascinating. Both have 1.6 GHz, 4 core CPUs, the Surface 3 having an Atom processor, the EliteBook having an AMD. The multicore score is nearly the same, while the 745G3 has a much better single core score. 

The Surface 3 is the highest scoring of the computers that I own, while the new Mintbox is in second place.

It is absolutely gorgeous outside today, 65 degrees on February 18 in Michigan.  The average high this time of the year is 33 degrees, the record high, set in 1997, was 57 degrees and we are well past that. 

So nice out that I went for an extended walk this afternoon. 

Setting up a new work computer is giving me the opportunity to try Docker for Windows. I've made more progress this time in that at least I have it install and running with Hyper-V. However, I am having a problem with disk access, which prevents me from working with storage volumes. I keep getting a message saying that a firewall is preventing the ability to access the C drive, even though it appears all firewall rules are in place. I've seen other reports, speculating about network configuration. 

I write the content for this site on one server and copy the rendered versions to another site hosted on Amazon S3 and that process works well for all the content created using 1999. However this is not the case for content being created using Little Outliner.

I have Little Outliner pointed to my own instance of nodestorage. All of the OPML files I create in LO are being written to my S3 bucket with the proper text/xml content type but HTML LO generates for Status Center is being written as text/plain rather than text/html and I can't figure out why. 

The statuscenters and listicle folders are under /user/screenname like all other publicFiles, so I am not sure why it is not work as it should.

My current theory is that the type global is being set to text/plain from the LO code. 

Earlier today I restarted storage.js while logged in to my server as root, and now I am having all sorts of problems publishing posts to this site.

Ok, I had to do a lot of file permission and ownership clean up. I hope I have that fixed! 

Dave has added the Status Center / Live Outline functionality to Little Outliner. It means that I can publish this outline live.

As you might know, will cease to function as a writing and publishing platfom this summer when Dropbox shuts down its API. One thing I did in Fargo was to take notes in what I called my Work Notes outline. I published those notes to a blog for ease of access and public visibility, in case anyone could benefit or cares.

When Dave added the Notes feature to Little Outliner, I created a new work notes outliner but I have not had an easy way to make to available outside of Little Outliner. With Status Center I now have a way to make my work notes outline more broadly accessible.

As a test, here is a direct link to my notes on tracking Trump

In preparation for a podcast that I will participate in this weekend, I am thinking about my experience with Google Home

I am early adopter of the Amazon Echo, which I use to control my Hue lights, SmartThings, and Harmony Hub. We have an Echo in my home office (the basement), and a Dot in our living room. 

Google Home does not have much that is better than Echo, which isn't too surprising given Amazon's year+ lead over Google. Home excels in Internet search, as you would expect, so it is a bit better for finding general information. 

Another way that Home is better than Echo is its ability to control Google Chromecast. First, Home automatically finds Chromecast devices on your home network, whereas you need to explicitly set up other home automation devices like Hue and SmartThings.

Once you get Home connected on your network, you can say things like, "Ok Google, show pictures on basement TV" and Home will start a slideshow of your Google Photos on the Chromecast called basement TV. You do need to have the Chromecast running on a TV before seeing the pictures, Home will not turn on your TV unless you have it integrated with other home automation devices.

The speaker built-in to Google Home is slightly better than the one in Echo, but both are pretty good. Neither are as good as the Yamaha soundbar I have connected to my Samsung TV, so I enjoy telling Google to play my favorite music on my Basement TV Chromecast, which of course sends audio to the soundbar. 

I have Google Home and Echo connected to my Spotify account. Of course Echo plays music from Amazon Prime as well as any music that you own and associated to your account. Google Home also plays music from Google Play, where I happen to have uploaded all of my personal music that I ripped from CDs over the years.

Home also is integrated with Netflix, so you can say "Hey Google, play Supergirl on basement TV" and it will start streaming via Chromecast to your TV. I can configure Echo to turn on Netflix via the Harmony hub, but I cannot direct it to a specific show, although I can tell Harmony to turn on specific cable TV channels via Harmony.

Alexa, which is the brains behind Echo, has a ton of skills that add functions, ranging from the silly, like telling jokes, to requesting an Uber. Amazon has a pretty good developer network and seems to be releasing new skills for Alexa every week.

Home has services that add functions, but only a few are currently available. Most services are basically a form of a web search but there are services like Uber, Todoist, and Kayak that provide specific functions. 

Echo and Home both work with If This Then That, so you can use them to trigger applets that work with other smart home devices or web services. I am surprised that there is no real integration between Android and Google Home, but you can add it with Tasker and AutoVoice, which are automation tools for Android.

Google Assistant is the brains behind Home in the same way that Alexa is the brains of the Echo and Dot. Assistant is also available on the Google Pixel phones, while Google Now is a similar, but not the same, assistant on all other Android devices. 

Google Home ought to be able to recognize Android devices just like it does Chromecast, and likewise Android should know about Home. Here is a an example of where the lack of integration causes a problem.

I have Google Now configured on my Nexus 6 P to wake up whenever I say "Ok Google" even while I have the phone turned off.  When I am in my basement and say "Ok Google" both Home and my phone acknowledge the wake word. The phone should recognize there is a Home nearby and defer to it, just as it does with Android Wear, but it does not. 

Even more maddening is the integration with Keep, Google's notetaking and list making app. Home/Google Assistant creates a item in Keep called Google Assistant shopping list, and you call say "Ok Google, add milk to shopping list" and Home will add milk to that shopping list note. 

Say "Ok Google, add bread to shopping list" to your Android phone and it will add bread as an item to another entry in Keep called Shopping List, which means you end up with two shopping list areas in Google Keep, one controlled by Assistant/Home and the other controlled by Google Now. How hard would it be for Assistant to add items to the Shopping List entry that Google Now uses? 

Oh, and by the way, Echo also has a shopping list that is of course directly connected to Amazon so Alexa can automatically order stuff on that list, where as the Google's shopping list is more traditional.

The duplicate shopping list scenario is the type of thing we see with first generation products like Google Home. I expect Google Home to get much better as Google improves Assistant, which I think will ultimately replace the Google Search web page. In the mean time we will have to wait and see whether Google Home will surpass Amazon Echo. 

CloudAtCost servers not accessible again. 

Sib Mahapatra: "America can’t be destroyed from the outside. Extremists will never be powerful enough to destroy the pillars of our democracy. But we are powerful enough to destroy them ourselves."

Amazon has enabled "computer" as a wake word for Echo. Feeling very Trekkie

I've installed the latest version of Docker Engine, v1.13 on my MintBox. So far, so good. One of the first containers I have installed is web UI for Docker called Portainer, which I think is very nice. I am running DockerUI on my RaspberryPi and I think Portainer is better.

The Containerizers provides a nice set of tutorial videos on YouTube that you can watch to learn Docker. You can also use an online site at to run docker in a web browser sandbox without having to install it on your computer.

Dave has added the ability to create Listicles to Little Outliner. Here is my first one

I can't imagine going from literally having the weight of the world on your shoulders, to flying off in to the sunset. 

Got a new toy in the cave, and this is my first post using it. The MintBox Mini Pro is a version of the Compulab fitlet with Linux Mint pre-installed. I am surprised by it's weight, it is pretty heavy, and how hot it gets. There is no fan inside and the metal case dissipates heat from the processor.

After experienced repeated issues with the virtual server I've been using to host my River5 site, I decided to delete and rebuild it. I am about to start the rebuild process. 

First step, log and update the server software.

All updates are done,  installing node

Install git

Create my user account

Clone River5 from github

Point to the new IP address

Start river5.js

Clone my RSS Subscriptions lists

Start river5.js

Edit config.json to implement configurations settings

Final testing, and done! If I were not multitasking while the steps above execute, I think I could have rebuilt the server in about 15 minutes. The longest running tasks where the OS software updates.

One thing I did different this time is that I decided to not run River5 in a docker container. I originally built my River4 site in a container as an exercise to learn Docker. Given that I am not running mutiple applications, I have come to the conclusion that using Docker was an additional layer that was not adding value. 

The process above has reminded me of one thing, which is that I need clone my RSS Subscriptions lists to the server I have running nodestorage/Little Outliner so that edits to my subsriptions have way back to my River5 site. I know the subscriptions lists that I just put on my River5 site are not current.

Another week, another outage of my server at CloudAtCost.

I still don't understand why Android WiFi Assist doesn't work at Starbucks.

Google will have "official" Android Wear 2.0 watches launching early next year, but they will not have Google branding, unlike the Pixel C. I am just happy my Huawei watch will get the upgrade. Hopefully the update will fix the ability to work with Google Now reminders that is currently broke with Android Wear. 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has made a version of the PIXEL desktop shell, which is the version included in Raspbarian, for X86, so you can run it on Windows PCs and Macs. 

The prime reason why I bought the Surface 3 shortly after it became available is the Surface Pen. The stylus support in OneNote on the Surface is one of the best that I have ever used.

I am among the minority of people who like using a stylus, and so my increase use of the iPad Mini 4 sent me on a search for a stylus that I can use with the Mini. Today received the Wacom Bamboo Fineline

Regular iPads do not have a built-in digitizer, so you cannot use the same type of stylus as with the Surface. (I am not sure whether the iPad Pro has a digitizer.) Instead, iPad styluses come in two type, one that has a wide tip that mimics a finger, and the other that has a fine tip, like a pen, that uses Bluetooth, and the Fineline falls in this later category.

Wacom's set up instructions tell you to enable Bluetooth on your iPad, which is expected, and to disable multitask gestures, which may not be expected. You need to turn of multitask gestures so that apps can implement palm rejection to not create stray marks from the palm of your hand touching the screen while you write. 

Another unique step is that you don't actually pair the stylus with your iPad, rather, you pair the stylus with the apps that use the stylus, and that means you need to use apps that specifically support the Fineline. Wacom lists nine apps that have support for their stylus, but unfortunately that does not include Evernote or OneNote. Evernote only supports a stylus made by Adonit while OneNote doesn't really support a stylus on the iPad, it seems to expect writing with a finger.

I decided to buy GoodNotes, which had good reviews and includes the ability to import PDFs for annotation. I've only tried the app briefly, but it has the ability to backup notes to cloud services like Google Drive and I can export note pages to Evernote. I wish Evernote directly supported the Wacom stylus, but I don't expect to write copious notes on the Mini, so I think being able to export PDFs or images of my notes will be good enough.

I am noodling over what is the best way to write new blog articles, outside of this site that I create using I have been using to write, but that is going away in June so I have to find another tool. 

I really like using an outliner to write long articles, so I wish that I could use Little Outliner, but there is no way to get stuff out of it. Little Outliner creates OPML files that I need converted to HTML to use with Wordpress. 

When I use Fargo, I run a script that exports an outline to HTML with paragraphs. Unfortunately, Little Outliner does not support scripts in the same manner as Fargo so I cannot simply re-use that one.

An option is to go back to Evernote. Many years ago, when I was writing for money, I used Evernote to write all my articles that were ultimately pubished in WordPress. I came up with a notation to use to handle formatting and hyperlinks, but unfortunately the process required some manual re-editing after I copied and pasted the article content from Evernote to Wordpress. 

The advantage of using Evernote is that it provides a repository for all my writing and there are apps available for it on every platform I use. 

One way I could simplify the process is to use markdown as I am writing in Evernote. I have found that I can enable markdown in Wordpress and it looks it will accept most formatting directly with out any post paste editing. 

Now, if only the 1999 editor supported markdown directly. I think there is a way to add alternative editors, I need to do more search about that.

The ASUS 10.1” Transformer Mini T102HA-D4-GR looks like a complete replacement of the Surface 3. However, it is much cheaper because the keyboard and pen are included in the $379 price, and it has 128 GB of storage. It is embarrassing how much more I spent on my Surface 3. I do wonder whether the pen performs as well.

Marty Baron, Editor, Washington Post:

"After the release of the movie Spotlight, I was often asked how we at The Boston Globe were willing to take on the most powerful institution in New England and among the most powerful in the world, the Catholic Church.
The question really mystifies me—especially when it comes from journalists or those who hope to enter the profession. Because holding the most powerful to account is what we are supposed to do." (emphasis mine)

Before the election lots of people where saying it was a choice between two bad candidates. The problem is that now, after having made their choice, people do not want to accept the consequences of that choice. You cannot say you just voted for the "change" part of what Trump offers without accepting that you also did not vote against all of the other parts of what Trump offers. 

There is no line item veto in Presidential elections. A vote for Trump was a vote for all of Trump, particularly when you take in to consideration that also means an entire Congress and half of the Supreme Court with party affiliation with Trump. 

People who voted for Trump, AND voted for third party candidates that had the same affect as voting in Trump, have to own the consequences of their decision.  

I think there are a lot of good points made by Dave Pell in this article: What the Hell Just Happened

During lunch I was listening to This Week in Tech, which debates whether Facebook influenced the election and/or what is Facebook's responsibilities. The issues are two fold, one is how citizens use information to make decisions and the other is how media companies use information to make money. Fundamental economic issues of scarcity and motivation are very much at play. 

I think there is a more fundamental question of economics as it applies to the press and its obligations under the first amendment, and Facebook and all other information services are involved to the extent that citizens use them to gain information.

The economic perspective is one of motivation, Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are all corporations that exist to make profits. 

In my opinion in terms of the Trump use of media, he is very smart in exploiting the motivations of media corporations. Media companies make money from attention to advertising. Trump's outrageous comments draw attention, and therefore media is motivated to cover as much Trump as possible. 

You are probably familiar with the phrase, "the end justifies the means." Some, particularly Christians, will argue that is the choice they made during this past election. They don't agree with all the things Trump has said or claims he will do, but the end, of making "America Great Again," justifies overlooking the means. 

The problem is that the above assumes a common definition for what makes America Great, and I think that is problematic because I expect each of Trump's constituencies has a different definition for a Great America based on their world view. 

For many Christians, the end they desire is the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, which they hope at a minimum decreases abortions if not completely eliminating it. In other words a Great America is a country in which there are no abortions, and that end justifies tolerating all of the issues they may otherwise have with Trump. Note this doesn't mean they agree with everything that Trump does, it means for the sake of the possibility that Trump will end abortions, they will tolerate everything else he does. 

There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." 

I listened to the MSNBC Morning Joe podcast this morning in which Joe Scarborough says (paraphrasing): "Don't worry, it isn't as bad as you are fearing, our constitutional republic will survive." 

First, I don't think we should take anything for granted. There are things our constitutional republic cannot overcome, there is nothing written in stone that guarantees the republic will stand. 

For example, if the people in our government chose to not live to the spirit of their oath to uphold and defend the constitution, I  believe the republic can fall.

And here in lies my problem. Scarborough is asking me to trust Congress and trust the Supreme Court to fulfill their obligations as the checks and balances against the Executive Branch. 

The key word here is trust. Trust is something earned, and frankly nothing that Congress and the Supreme Court has done in the last four years has earned my trust. 

In my eyes, time and again over the last four years the Republican-led Congress has put party over country. They refused to govern, passed hardly any legislation, and would not compromise on anything. From being willing to default on our loans to refusing to even have hearings on the next Supreme Court justice. 

Time and again during Trump's campaign, Ryan and McConnell have had opportunities to stand up to their party's nominee and put country before party, and time and again they refused. Are we to believe now, with a Republican in the White House, they are suddenly going to stand up to him when he proposes something unconstitutional or not consistent with our values? 

Frankly, my worry is less with Trump and more with Congress. I want to believe that the checks and balances instituted by the Constitution will in fact protect us, but I am honestly afraid they will not. 

And here in lies the threat to the republic. When citizens lose faith in the very fundamentals of our government they begin to think it might as well be replaced, it simply represents business as usual that is causing them pain. 

It is not enough to simply tell people to not worry. It's not enough to tell people you will be faithful to your oath. You must walk the talk. You must demonstrate that there is in fact a line no one, no matter which party, can cross. 

I don't know Congress' line. I don't know the Supreme Court's line, I thought it was non-partisan but that is demonstrably false. My hope is that I know the military's line. 

For compromise to occur, all parties must be invested in finding common ground upon which all can agree. You cannot have compromise if you go in to a situation convinced that everyone else is entirely wrong, and therefore it isn't worth even considering whether they have common ground with you. 

I think there is a big story relating to this election, on the scale of the run up to the Iraq War, that I fear the press will again miss. Three questions:

1. What the heck is going in the FBI? Depending on whether you are Republican or Democrat you probably think either the FBI is not doing their job in pursuing an obviously guilty person (Hillary), OR you think the FBI attempted, and perhaps succeeded, in influencing the election. Either way, the integrity of the FBI is now in doubt.

2. The facts are someone or some entity hacked into the DNC and the GOP and the DNC emails were published on the Internet. Why? If Russia is hacking in to the political parties I doubt it is just for the LOLs. If Russia favored Trump, why? Who stands to gain?  And why does it seem as though Trump won't even consider Russia is behind the hacking? If you truly are concerned about corruption in government, you want to know the answer, which brings me to...

3. Why should we trust the FBI, which is the only investigative arm of the federal government, to actually get to  and expose the truth? Who is going to investigate the investigators? 

A functioning press, fulfilling its role in our government would provide part of the answer. Unfortunately, the press has too often demonstrated, such as during the run up to the Iraq War, the ability to be distracted by the sensational that increases profits rather in truth telling. Oh, and keep in mind how the government actively pursues whistleblowers, no doubt to protect against the likes of Deep Throat.

The story here could be on the scale of Watergate. Heck, it is a repeat of Watergate in that back then DNC offices were broken in to and the Nixon administration attempted to cover up their role in the break in. Hacking is the modern day form of breaking and entering. Back then the press exposed corruption in government, could today's press even notice such a thing were happening? 

New York Times: "Mr. Trump ostensibly ran as a Republican, but he was effectively a third-party candidate who happened to campaign under the banner of one of the two major parties. Casting himself as an outsider, he not only savaged leaders in both parties but he made a mockery of nearly all the pieties of the American political system."

As disturbing as Trump's behavior has been, it did clearly show that he was very different than the "normal" politicians. The question remains to be seen whether those who say we should not have taken him so literally are correct. I hope they are. 

I think it should be obvious that Hillary lost because people who voted for Obama did not vote for her, whether they did not vote, voted for a third party candidate, or voted for Trump. She needed to win the votes of people who voted for a democrat the last two presidential election cycles and she was not successful. You cannot blame Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. At the end of the day Hillary lost on the merits of her candidacy in contrast to her opponents. Too much baggage.