All posts by ebaleytherogue

YouTube TV vs. Hulu Live TV – I opted for YTTV

I was asked to post a synopsis, once the dust settled, so here goes.

YouTube TV is not YouTube Red, which is a different service, although YouTube Red content is included within YouTube TV..Unlimited Cloud DVR, six accounts per house, 3 screens simultaneously, AMC included

Hulu Live TV is not Hulu (the service everyone thinks about), although their classic service is included if you subscribe to Hulu Live TV – 50 hours cloud DVR, but most shows are already available, on the other Hulu service, as part of that season of shows, so DVR space consideration is mostly moot, 2 screens simultaneously, CNN, HGTV, and Bravo included.

Synopsis: Both services are $40/month with no obligation, cancel-anytime agreements.

End game: I’m a big fan of the unlimited DVR, so I chose YouTube TV. However, because my wife enjoys Bravo and HGTV (not currently on YouTube TV), I added Hulu’s classic package ($8/mo) with the no-commercial upgrade ($4/mo). Thus, YouTube TV ($40) + Hulu ($12) = $52/month for AMAZING TV, all of which is available in at least 1080P and much of it available in 4K.

I changed internet service from $50/mo for 24 Mbps (U-verse) to $45/mo for 100 Mbps (Spectrum). Speed tests at the modem are a solid 121-126 Mbps download. From my laptop via wireless I get consistently 105 Mbps even when someone else is streaming a 4K show via the Roku. I could probably squeeze a few more Mbps out, for the wireless devices, were I to upgrade my router, but at these speeds this won’t be necessary. My wired devices, via network switches, are getting nearly the same speeds as experienced at the modem itself.

On both services all family members have their own user profiles. E.g., I can watch YouTube TV, on the living room Roku, get done, hand the remote to my wife, who can then switch to her profile, and she sees all her shows and can continue where she left off, etc.

I can play both services sitting in my car 50 miles south of my zip code, although they state one has to be in one’s area — most of the time — so as not to incur account issues.

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“So Which is it, Liberals?” – A Meme Analyzed

Memes are useful to incite instant opinion making. Instant judging. I am interested in going deeper than that, looking for the core of motivations. Let’s take a look at one meme currently in high circulation.

So which is it liberals

Upon initial reaction this meme makes a kind of sense. The reader is forced to pick a button, and they cannot, so the presumption is a paradox exists, and it must be solved.

Let’s break this down.

Button #1: “You Don’t Need A Gun Because You Have the Police”

This button perpetuates the myth that the majority of non-conservatives believe this is true. While I am not a liberal, being more of a centrist, I believe the premise of the statement to be false. If a gang of thugs plans to accost me, no super-cop on the planet will stop them before they get to me. To think otherwise is naive. The only time this statement might be true is at a police convention. Maybe. Regardless, the button’s presence in a “Which is it, Liberals?” mean directly targets the question to liberals, and I am not hearing many, if any, realistic liberals voicing this opinion.

Button #2: Cops are Evil and Racist

Every cop I have personally known has seemingly been a good person. However, it is impossible and inaccurate to state NO cops are evil and/or racist. We all know of examples where some cop beats his wife or girlfriend or kid or suspect to death, or is simply dirty. It’s rare, but it happens. The point of the button is to get the reader to believe that the ABSOLUTE STATEMENT is believed by a majority of liberals. This is not true. Most liberals, centrists, and conservatives that I know say that “dirty cops exist, but they aren’t the norm”. The differences among the aforementioned groups seems to be how much this is acknowledged, and how much vigil one must hold against the bad. I believe reasonable people can agree that all human groups, at least groups of large numbers, contain bad members. Priests. Teachers. Doctors. And yes, cops.

The point of button #1 is to get the reader to assume at least two things.

Button One, Assumption One: It is illogical to NOT have a firearm if one cannot trust the police.

Analysis:
While there may be logical merit to this stance, the level of mistrust of the police is both a) exaggerated in the GENERAL population, and b) demographic (meaning there is likely more substance to this idea in heavily dirty-cop neighborhoods/precincts of the country, where dirtiness occurs at a higher rate than in other areas. But don’t take my word for it. Just look at the amount of people who do NOT own firearms and have NEVER been attacked by ANYONE. Yep. It’s a numbers game, an illusion of danger, or at least an illusion of a PROBABILITY level of danger. The number of firearms we are being told are necessary to “ensure” our safety does not bear out in the numbers, especially understanding how many armed people still end up getting shot, or shooting themselves, or letting their toddlers shoot themselves with their weapons. Again, this is a numbers thing. [Of course, with the CDC being prohibited from studying this, the numbers are intentionally fuzzy, to be sure.]

Button One, Assumption 2: The cultural implication is that someone is arguing that no one should have firearms.

Analysis:
While some do argue that fact, I personally know only a few people who do…and I know a lot of liberals. Most of my liberal or left leaning friends agree with most of my conservative or right-leaning friends that people should be allowed to own firearms. Where they differ is in having various levels of opinion regarding minimum ages, mental health related restrictions, classes of weapon (assault rifle vs. shotgun, semi-automatic versus single shot), accessories (quick-loaders, larger clips), that sort of thing.

The Conceit of the Meme
The point of the meme is to force one into BINARY THINKING, to trap the reader into believing they are viewing a paradox. To solve the paradox they are then forced to BELIEVE ONE BUTTON AND NOT THE OTHER…which they cannot do, so they believe NEITHER. Because both buttons are ridiculous, at their cores, the “choice” the reader has to make is meaningless. There is no paradox, any more than stating “5 = 3 so how can “5 = 7?” makes any sense.

But choosing to disbelieve either of these, in their entirety, is also missing the point. What the reader should instead do is RE-WRITE THE BUTTONS to more closely resemble reality. Then compare them. So let’s do this.

Button One (Revised):

“In the majority of neighborhoods in the United States, owning a firearm will not statistically improve the majority of citizen’s personal safety. However, because there is a statistical danger, for any INDIVIDUAL, of coming to harm via a personal attack, then owning a firearm, and being well trained with it, might work out well for that specific individual. The problem is there is no way to KNOW which individual is going to be attacked (for more on this thought, look for the term ‘awareness’ later in this post). It is just as possible they, or someone they love, or a stranger near by, might be injured by the very firearm initially purchased for personal safety. While it is true that, at a primal and libertarian level, every human has the same right to live as any other, it is also true that the strongest or most tactically advantaged person, in a confrontation, will be the likely victor. E.g., a slasher of only moderate physical prowess could leap out from behind a dumpster and kill a totally ripped Kung Fu master if they take them unawares. There is a certain level of luck (bad luck, certainly, for the Kung Fu master in this example). So, although the likelihood of being attacked is low, medium, or high, depending on one’s environment — and pure chance — one must maintain vigilance, as one moves through life. One must understand that the police will likely not be there to protect one; they will likely only be there to clean up the mess afterward. So, one’s personal safety is a matter of one’s own responsibility. A mix of a realistic awareness of one’s environment (threat assessment) and preparedness (self defense training, physical fitness, weapon possession) is recommended to increase one’s chances of survival. True ‘Fight or Flight’ choices, where ‘flight’ is advised.”

and

Button Two (Revised):

“Interviews with police, over many years, as well as anecdotal evidence reported by friends of individual police officers, indicates a high rate of honor and civic responsibility across all agencies of police, on the local, county/parish, state, and federal levels. Police work has long been considered a calling, for many, as well as a family tradition for generations of police. As with any brotherhood/sisterhood/clan/club, traditions and habits grow and harden over time. Inevitably, as with all large groups, individuals arise who, for whatever reasons in their personal psyche, are vulnerable to succumbing to stereo-typing, which can lead to rationalization that what they are doing is for the greater good, no matter what the actions. As such, there exist racist cops. Dirty cops. Too-aggressive cops. This is normal and expected (gasp!), but they must be rooted out, controlled, and removed, like weeds in any garden.

Revised Buttons Compared:

So, with the above two buttons rewritten, we see they are not really at odds at all. They are different things all together. Related, sure, but not antithetical.

But who in the hell wants to read paragraph-long buttons, much less think about them? Not me, and I’m the one who re-wrote them. It’s easier to have simple choices which allow one to move on to the next big thing. This too is human nature. Let’s just hope human reason, and some amount of existential awareness, can insert itself from time to time.

From my own perspective, I see systemic demonization of “the other” as something humanity evolved, brought along for the ride from our ancient roaming days, when one’s immediate tribe could be endangered by outsiders. We are not really evolved for large groups, groups beyond the size where one can easily know everyone’s name, by their nature, force us to categorize and make assumptions to allow us to make quick decisions…or any decisions…in the absence of real information. This is a slippery slope, which on the one hand makes life easier, simpler, but on the other leads to misunderstandings of others’ motivations and agendas, leading to systemic racism, sexism…all the ‘isms.

Me. I’m more of an ‘asm guy. More of those, methinks, and there’d be less ‘isms.

– Dan Reams, 2018-03-19

Tips for New or Returning Motorcyclists

A Return to Motorcycling

In 2013 I bought a motorcycle. I hadn’t owned one since 1991, but with my kids growing up, I wanted to get back into riding. I had enjoyed riding when I was a kid, and as a young man and it had been a great source of social activity for me. I would ride with friend biker owners. I would ride with a friend as a passenger. I would ride alone to meet up with friends. I would shop for bikes with friends who were looking to get into riding. It was fantastic. We would spend long summer days and nights riding the country highways of southeast and south central Wisconsin. We would ride smaller bikes through farm fields and up wild hills. We would pull over and drink coffee or Mountain Dew until the sun came up, and then we’d ride some more. Motorcycles provided both  transportation and something common about which to converse.

Motorcycle Safety Class, Licensing, and Learning to Ride

Because it had been 22 years since I’d ridden, I did not want to release on decades old muscle memory to convince me I knew how to ride. I took a safety class at the local technical college (Waukesha County Technical College) here in southeast Wisconsin. Held over the course of four days (M, T, M, W), in three hour increments, the class covered classroom and riding lessons. At the successful conclusion of the class I received a certificate that exempted me from the state riding test, so all I had to do was take the state written test, on a kiosk at the DMV, after which I received my motorcycle license. All those years ago I had only had my temporary license, and when I let it lapse I rode without being licensed, which was fairly common in the 1980’s.

I don’t care how skilled a rider you are. Take a class like this. Get licensed. Be a life-long learner.

In the safety course I learned far more than I had ever learned from teaching myself or via tips from friends, valuable skills I would not have otherwise learned. For example, I knew about the concept of counter-steering, but I’d never really thought about how it worked. Learning this made me a far better turner, curve taker, and overall “pilot”. Other valuable skills included how to safely traverse objects (such as boards in the road) — if they absolutely could not be avoided — and maybe most importantly, to S[earch], e[valuate], and e[xcecute] during every riding moment. The SEE acronym is a very useful mnemonic, instilling foresight into my every day riding as both instinct and ever-present conscious thought. Internalizing the acronym, along with most everything else learned in the class, have made me both a better rider and a better automobile driver.

Choosing A Motorcycle

I chose my bike based on the type of riding I wanted to do. Because I work 50 miles from home, traversed via both major interstate and state highways (one route) and via back country county highways (another route), I wanted something heavy enough to withstand the shearing power of interstate highways as well as be maneuverable enough to handle the back roads I wanted to ride on weekends.

Because my evil plot to return to motorcycling began six years prior to my actually doing so, I had a pretty good idea that I wanted a cruiser this time around, versus just a street bike that I’d had before. I also knew I wanted to buy pre-owned versus new. When it got time to purchase I haunted the local bike shops for a couple months, asking numerous questions. I frequented reddit and other forums. I read magazines. I chose a Honda VTX 1300cc, both for its size and reported reliability. Ultimately though, the a 2006 Yamaha Road Star Silverado 1700cc stole my heart. It was sitting next to the VTX I was trying on for size, and something about it…hooked me. I ran to a nearby cafe, hopped online, researched the Star line, and then talked to a few folks I trusted at various shops.

“Honda is more popular in the U.S. because of their car sales,” said one bike mechanic and shop owner, “so a pre-owned Honda will always be more expensive than a pre-owned Yamaha or Kawasaki, cubic centimeter/each for cubic centimeter/inch, even though Kawasaki is the most popular motorcycle brand in the world. As a mechanic, I’m telling you the Yamaha is easily as reliable as the Honda. You should be able to get a good deal on a Yamaha, Kawasaki, or Suzuki, that suits your needs. The Road Star, maintenance wise, is a dream.” And so forth.

He was right. I bought my Yamaha for over a thousand dollars less than I would have bought the same year Honda, of comparable features and size, at the same shop.

This past fall I enacted some performance maintenance upon my engine, bought new tires this spring, and had a cracked sub-frame replaced. My bike now runs better than ever, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. [Edit: A year later, the summer of ’18, I replaced the spark plugs and it’s running even better still.]

Although I live near Milwaukee, the home of Harley Davidson, and have numerous friends and neighbors who work at Harley and/or own Harley’s, I expected to be shunned for choosing a metric bike. That did happen. I’m not going to lie. People would compliment me, “Is that beautiful hog out there yours?”, and I’d reply, “Yes, but it’s a Yamaha.” The light would leave their faces, and mumble an, “Oh…”, and they’d wander off, like when a zombie smells another zombie in “The Walking Dead”. This didn’t bother me much. I soon learned there are entire communities of agnostic riders who do not care what brand of bike their fellow riders ride, so that they are riding something. To be fair, many Harley Davidson riders like and appreciate non-Harley motorcycles. Many of these folks are those I ride with often. I was speaking only to the brand-centric snobs, and those exist across all brands. So eff ’em. Ride.

The best tip for purchasing a bike is to go to as many dealers as possible and sit on bikes. Imagine yourself riding them. Set your homepage for cycletrader.com or craigslist, with bike-type, price-range, and location filters, and immerse yourself in motorcycle forums. You’ll soon find yourself gravitating toward one style or other.

Oh yeah. Try not to fall in love with the motorcycle you ride in your safety class. Like a newborn goose imprinting on its human savior, you will find yourself biased. Try to stay objective and focus on the kind of riding you want to do, and pick a ride that will facilitate both that and your personal style.

For an introductory list of motorcycle types, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_motorcycles <- Will open in a new tab in your browser

Buying A Motorcycle

Is it best to be an experienced, licensed rider prior to buying your first bike? Certainly. But it’s not a requirement. As mentioned above, sometimes the bike will sweep you off your feet at the shop, and you’ll just have to buy it. You’ll have to own that bike! That’s cool. Worry about getting it home as a secondary concern. Have a friend ride it home. Offer one of the employee’s some cash. See if they deliver for free or a minimal charge. It’s no big deal.

Research similar models at various sites (again, cycletrader.com is a great source for this). Create a Google sheet, Notes file, hell, a paper document…whatever works for you..of models you like, with their prices and main features and shop/seller locations and links to where you found the information. This should take an hour or so. By the time you’re bored you will have a good idea if the sticker at the bike shop is potentially going to screw you or is a fairly good deal.

Ideally you will obtain access to accident/damage information on your target bike. Be bold and ask the seller for it, and/or use the various online tools for finding things out. Ideally we’d all have a mechanic buddy to look the bike over before purchase. I didn’t. I used my gut. It was mostly correct, but I’m pretty sure the bike I bought had a cracked sub-frame, when I bought it, and I just didn’t know. That shop is now out of business…and four years later I’d really have no recourse anyway…but lessons learned.

Offer the shop less…hundreds less…than sticker price. You can usually talk them down something at least, or perhaps they’ll throw in a helmet or saddlebags or a windshield, SOMETHING. Just be prepared to either walk away from the bike, or to say, “Fine,” and pay them their asking price. No harm in asking.

When I bought my bike I talked the owner down a bit…and then my wife swooped in and talked him down even MORE. Awesome!

Meet-Ups

I joined a local/regional meet-up group, on Meetup.com, because as I like to say, “All my rowdy friends have settled down”. Of my high school friends, who had bikes, only one or two still do, and because I live over an hour away, from my old home town, and because those folks and I no longer have much of a friendship, I had to look elsewhere for riding companionship and camaradarie. A couple coworkers have bikes, but that hasn’t panned out as a riding group” Parents of my kids’ friends…the ones with whom I’m friendly…do not own bikes, and those that do own bikes…we don’t really have a connection. The old saying that grown men don’t make new friends is true, at least for me. It’s an effort.

Meet-ups are the solution. A ready-made group of like-minded folk all pursuing the same goal. In this case it’s riding. The meet-up events I’ve attended thus far have all been anywhere from fun to amazing, depending on the ride.

The basic organization of these things is to meet in some central location, greet each other for a few minutes, after which reviewing the general techniques of staggered group riding and hand-signals (object in the road, I need a break, slow down, turn around, etc.), which takes no more than five minutes. Then it’s off for a riding! Great fun.

Meetup.com allows for discussion groups for each posted ride, RSVP’ing, etc. A fellow rider recommended another couple of sites that I’ve not yet tried, and I may give them a shot at some point. Feel free to post comments and suggestions about how you meet fellow riders, or about any other related points, in the comments below.

Dan Reams is a riding enthusiast and Quality Assurance Manager living in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He can be found on Twitter @ebsewi

Backing up my Google Data

Preface

After 10 years of heavy-lifting, my Gmail and other Google services combined to fill up my free Google storage. Primarily, I am addressing Gmail, Drive, and Photos.

I looked into third-party solutions to back up the data, to my own storage (which is in turn redundant, as I need multiple drives and media to ensure backups are retained).

Email

In the old days I would have just installed Thunderbird, let it download my mail, and archive that store locally. However, I have way too many messages, and trying that, Thunderbird could not handle it. It would download 25 messages and crap out.

Sure, I could use Outlook, but then I am constrained to using Outlook should I ever need to access the data.

Fetchmail seems like a great option for a guy like me. But then, I understand how to run a Linux instance, on my Windows PC, and go all command(0) line…. The resulting text file it creates is usable by a variety of email client applications, including Thunderbird, so that would be one way to go.

However, those options only address email. It does not address my Google Drive files or Google Photos files.

Everything Else

Enter…Google itself.

Visiting https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout, I discovered that I could choose from any of the listed Google services there, asking the system to compile the items into a zip file, and await an inbound email, from Google, announcing the archive is ready. This is similar to Facebook’s method.

Last night I requested Gmail and photos, so I will see what happens and report back to the blog regarding the results.

It is worthy to note that Google Photos consumes no space at all if one allows Google to shrink the photos to smaller sizes. These smaller sizes are not all that small. The free-storage size of videos is 1080P, for example. I got myself into trouble by insisting on the real files syncing up there, which quickly consumed 7 GB of my total 17 GB of space. Drive files consume zero space if they are Google docs; other “real” files consume all the space. Thus, if you write something, in MS Word, and upload it, that consumes space, but if you write the document, as a Google doc, it consumes zero space. Same thing with Excel files vs. sheets, etc. Once I bring all this data down I will change my settings to store only the dumbed down pics, out on Google, since I sync the files directly from my phone or camera outside the Google channels anyway. I have already changed to constructing most documents within Google’s suite of offerings.

Results

I will let you know how all this turns out. Bookmark this page, set an alert, etc. As soon as the data download is ready and I get a chance to look at the data I will update this section of the post.

Useful links

Manage your account preferences: https://myaccount.google.com/preferences

Interesting post on Lifehacker regarding Fetchmail: http://lifehacker.com/235207/geek-to-live–back-up-gmail-with-fetchmail

Merging Two Phone Numbers into One Phone (device) Courtesy of Google Voice

I found myself in the position of having both a work phone and a personal phone. Aside from being the butt of many a meme, it was a pain in the arse lugging them both around, and the redundancy of the substantial added expense irked me. My company allows us to use our work phones, for personal use, if we limit our data usage and do not exceed our allotted minutes. Since I almost never talk on personal calls, and because the vast majority of my data usage is via WiFi, I felt it was time to look into making the move.

What had held me back was I did not want to part with my personal phone number. I’ve had it for years and it is linked to numerous account-recovery routines, where an SMS message will generate, if asked, to convey a code that allows one back into their account. In addition, should I ever change jobs, and lose access to the work phone — and the phone number it has, which belongs to my company — I did not want to have to go through the process all over again, of logging into every account linked to one phone number, changing it, sending messages to my contacts, letting them know my new number, etc.

Then I got to thinking. Back in 2006 or so I switched over to Google for my mail, tired of switching my email provider every time I switched cable TV services. In this way I got a single email address FOR LIFE. Why not do the same kind of thing for my PHONE NUMBER. A telephony provider or similar service seemed perfect.

Enter Google Voice.

I’d had a Google Voice account for years. I’d primarily used it when working or playing, in my basement, where cell coverage is spotty. Prior to Google Hangouts I would also use it as an alternate means of voice contact while playing old school PC games that did not contain their own voice engines. I hadn’t really utilized its features, but Google Voice always has held a dear place in my heart.

Long story short, here are the steps I followed to save my beloved phone number AND not screw with my work phone and its phone number:

  1. Obtain a free Google Voice account [In my case, this was done years ago].
  2. If multiple phones exist on your personal phone plan, change the primary phone number on the account. Because my family had more than just my [personal] phone on our account, I contacted my provider (Verizon) to disassociate my phone number as the account’s primary phone number. [This action is only possible via a phone call to Customer Service and is not available via their account tools online]. After doing so, I re-enrolled, on the provider’s web site, and associated my wife’s phone number as the account’s primary number. I did this so we would not lose access to our online account after I removed my [personal phone] from the account.
  3. Via Google Voice’s settings I ported my personal number into Google Voice. I PAID $20 for this, a ONE-TIME fee. The number is then forever — until I port it out, which I hope never to need to do — associated with my Google Voice account. [This action will wipe out my previous Google Voice number after a 90 day grace period. I do not care about that number, as no one really had it anyway, but if I wanted to keep it I could shell out another $20 and keep that one on the Google Voice account too.]
  4. Also in my Google Voice account, I added my work phone’s phone number as a ‘Forward calls to…’ destination. I opted to still be able to take calls on my other devices too (PC, for example).
  5. On my work phone I installed Google Voice and Google Hangouts (Hangouts is optional).
  6. In Google Hangouts’ preferences I turned on messaging, because I like Hangouts’ messaging over Google Voice’s messaging. It’s SMS and MMS. All good.

I can now:

  • Receive both work and personal numbers’ phone calls on my work phone.
  • Receive personal calls on my PC.
  • Work-text messages function normally on my work phone.
  • Personal-text messages function via Google Hangouts, on my work phone, Google Hangouts, on my PC…or any PC/Mac into which I am logged onto and upon which I want this to happen.
  • Voicemail messages to my personal number can be received in any of these same places.
  • Work-voicemails arrive on my phone in the usual fashion.

Bottom line: For $20, it was a no-brainer to save my personal phone number, as it will save me about $60/month, getting rid of my old personal phone (which I will sell), and I didn’t have to change everything that is associated to my personal phone number.

If you found this post useful please share it, and thank you for reading.

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Switching from Android to iOS for Phone

I’m switching over to having just the one phone versus having a personal phone and a work phone. When I go my new work phone (iPhone SE), a month or so ago, I realized its capabilities are sufficient enough to warrant saving the $60/month from maintaining my aging, but still lovely, Samsung Galaxy s5.

Because my s5 contract had a bit over a month until expiring, I had the luxury of being able to take my time moving accounts and finding analogous apps.

Android to iOS:

  • Google Inbox – Essentially the same experience on both devices
  • Chrome – Essentially the same experience on both devices
  • Podcasts – Podcast Addict -> iPhone Podcast app – The stock iPhone app is not as feature robust in its feature set. I’d like to tailor how many episodes I keep, by default, and also to customize each ‘cast’s settings. I’ll likely switch to another app when I get the time. Please comment below if you have suggestions.
  • Authenticators
    • Google – Essentially the same experience on both devices
    • LastPass – Essentially the same experience on both devices
    • Glympse – Mostly the same but I think I prefer the Android version. It’s probably just experiential bias at this point.
  • Google Cast – Better on Android, but I’d expect that.
  • Google Maps – Haven’t played with it yet.

Summary:

There is definitely no reason to spend the $60/month for the tiny nuances that make me favor a few Android features. The smaller screen is annoying, but that’s not a function of the OS; it’s the model of the phone. Perhaps I’d feel different if I had a larger iPhone.

I am interested in revisiting these thoughts after I’ve been solely iOS for six months when Android will seem like more of a distant memory.

A shift in my sociality

I’ve been active on Facebook since 2006. Super active. Addicted active. I think that’s run its course.

A month or so ago, just prior to the holidays, the deluge of knee-jerk negativity, manifested by manifesto-length, all-caps tirades, hit me like they’d not done so before. I like discussion, not binary good versus evil, sister against brother, yer either wid me or agin me ultimatums.

Also, for Christmas I received a Sony Playstation 4 (PS4), so I’ve been socializing in-game now as much or more than I did in the late 90’s and early 00’s. It’s been a blast.

I kept Facebook Messenger on my phone, and I do find myself checking the site when I’m on my personal laptop or desktop, but I deinstalled the app from my phone.

I’ve come to realize Facebook is like being a member of a sub-reddit I accidentally joined. The trick will be to make sure I still expose myself to alternative opinions. Among podcasts, radio, reddit, and my RL friends, I think I’ve got that covered. But I’m watching myself, be assured. The moment I get certain of something I’ll seek out another opinion.

I’ve laid off FB before, but this time it feels the romance is truly over.

We shall see.

The Jury is still out…wait…it’s not.

The phrase “The jury is still out on [insert subject here]…” is silly if used by inattentive court spectators who have not noticed the jury has indeed entered the room. So let us be clear.

The jury is in on global warming. The jury is composed of scientists. The scientists have ruled. This does not precluded the concept of long-term natural changes. This is not a binary topic, with either ‘this’ or ‘that’ being ‘true’.

The jury is in on evolution. Same thing. Scientists agree. This does not preclude the possibility of divine intervention. This is not a binary topic, with either ‘this’ or ‘that’ being ‘true’. The one can be said to be scientifically proved, the other can scientifically said to be non-provable. All is thus good. Those who value science, above superstition, have a bit of closure with still more questions to wet their appetites. Those who seek the solace of divinity can remain there, knowing no one will ever prove they’re wrong. These two camps can then have a hearty meal together and discuss common interests, like football and Adele.

Jury composition
Out of hundreds of thousands of scientists, will there be individual examples of nay-sayers? Sure. I hope there always will be dissent and improvements on any scientific discoveries. There should always be tweaking and refining, using the scientific method. Details will come to light. This thing will have been found to be 10 million years old versus 125,000 years old (example: the peach). That thing will be found to impact such and such more, or less dramatically than previously calculated, etc. However, the general gist of things pretty much remains once the group consensus has been reached.

So, if you say “The jury is still out on…”, regarding scientific matters, ask yourself how you came to utter that phrase. Did you arrive at it via an examination of the body of scientific evidence, or are you basing your opinion on the sound bites of pundits who are basing their own opinions on their beliefs and biases versus an examination of the data. Have you heard the same thing uttered, so many times, by do many people (possibly with the same employer), that it simply must be true?

You owe it to yourselves, and the rest of us, to at least make an effort to fact check.

It is with this in mind that I post very little regarding my views. I know a lot, and have read a lot, about some things, while other things, about which I may have strong FEELINGS, I do not have strong DATA — because I’ve not put in the time — and thus I consider myself unqualified to make pseudo fact-based proclamations. This is not to say I will not voice my opinions, but I will state them as opinions and not as facts.

Thoughts on the tendency toward thinking of issues in binary terms

The idea of a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, an ‘on’ or ‘off’, the ‘this is the answer, and not this other thing’ also disturbs me. Ideas and opinions are being based on a game show-like mentality, with people reaching for the big red buzzer like they’re on a timer, vomiting forth opinions before exerting much thought. Usually…hopefully…issues are more complex than that.

For me, this single tendency is, more than anything else, and explanation for the grid-lock we see in congress, much less our own holiday tables. If one takes an absolute stance — a binary choice — one cannot compromise. Without compromise we get some winners, but mostly everyone ends up losing, in the end.

What next?

All I ask is you consider what you positions you support and whether your stance is fact-based or opinion-based. Both are fine, but one should know oneself, and one’s motivations. Embrace them. Modify them as needed. More forward. Rinse. Repeat. Grow. Evolve.

But that’s just my opinion…with no facts to back any of it up.

I guess it’s time to go do some research.

Update:

If you are still reading this, some part of you is still thinking. Don’t waste those neurons. Go check out this interesting piece by Dr. John Duffy (pointed out to me today by my friend Lisa), about the importance of being available. When you are done reading it…go be available to someone.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-duffy-psyd/to-an-available-december-_b_8734384.html

Podcast Apps for Android – Podcast Addict Yay, Stitcher a Reluctant Nay

For podcast listening, I’ve been running both ‘Podcast Addict’ and ‘Stitcher Radion for Podcasts’ alongside each other, for a few months now, and this morning I disabled Stitcher’s offline downloading, relegating the app to a live-streaming app, for my phone, versus a file-player. Its lack of settings to restrict the number of downloads, at all, much less for specific podcasts, was the clincher for me.

Stitcher’s interface is prettier, with a tiled, smooth scroll, featuring a nice graphic sampling of the content. Note however that choosing the setting to ‘limit downloads to WiFi only’ had no effect, in my testing, in preventing a live-stream/live-play of a show. The distinction of a ‘download’ being limited to an off-line file listening session, versus a live-stream, is an important one. I consider any download — file or live stream — to be a download, because a download costs bandwidth allocations on my Verizon account. The app only considers a download to be a file. For my test I streamed a cast, disabled my WiFi, and the feed continued uninterrupted. I let it continue for one minute, just in case it had cached the audio, while connected, but it appeared to still be streaming using my mobile data connection. I will return to this and try it again the next time I’m able. I.e., do not take my word for it, that the app behaves this way, but be wary until you know for sure, lest you spend your mobile data unintentionally.

Podcast Addict’s interface is a bit clutzy. One needs to click the upper left corner and navigate among the primary areas via clicks. I would rather have an active drag interface where I can navigate where I wish, without raising my finger, and release on what I want. This would make the 30 traffic-light time stop more useful. Nonetheless, the app provides sophisticated storage features allowing both an app-wide and ‘cast-specific settings for the number of downloads to initiate, the number of downloads to keep, and auto-cleaning/purging. It also offers many sorting options.

I come at this with some bias. 99% of my podcast listening is off-line (non-streaming), in my car, during my commute. I am stingy with my phone data usage. For those of you who prefer live-streaming your radio and podcasts, Stitcher is wonderful and a good choice.

Test Rode an Indian Chief Vintage

2015-06-13

A year later, and I’m still eyeing up the Indian. See TwoWheelObsession’s ride review of the 2015 Scout here. He did a really fantastic job of describing the nuances of his ride.

2014-06-29
A friend of mine and I trekked to Madison, Wisconsin yesterday and test rode a couple of Indians. I took out the Chief Vintage while my friend rode the Chief Classic.

Upon mounting the bike, its amazing balance was immediately apparent and striking. Swaying it side to side made this 111 ci bike (roughly 1820 cc) feel like a 350 cc, making me feel my ’06 102 cu Roadstar is a bit top heavy. The balance must have been designed by a master Katana sword-maker’s gentle yet oh so precise hand.

Indian_2014 Chief Vintage

[Pictured: 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, and me, with my shirt over my left thumb making it look like I’m cramming my hands down my pants. Picture by Anthony Sadowski.]

The acceleration was electric smooth with each gear stage instantly responsive. It actually seemed to gain torque as the revs and gears increased upwardly. Changing gears seemed a teeny bit clunky at first, but that may have just been me getting used to the difference between it and my own bike. By the end of the ride that too was smooth.

Slowing down, for a roundabout, to a momentary stop, inspired no wobbling feeling; the bike wanted to stay upright. I turned the fork and proceeded on with the turning-ease of a scooter. Later, coming to a full stop for a moment prior to going through a stop sign, I repeated the process, not putting my foot down nor feeling the need to do so.

We journeyed out in the country and really throttled them up, to higher RPM’s. I never ran out of oomph. The bike just wanted to keep giving. It was a phenomenal experience. Even the slow city driving was fun.

Will I be getting one? Not any time soon. I am still loving my 1700 Road Star Silverado and I do not need two cruisers, but if it’s ever time for me to replace her, one of these will be at the top of my list. The bar has just been set awfully high.