I picked up one of those assorted fried chicken dinners you find in grocery stores and found this. I have no idea what the hell those crisped claw-like strings are hanging out the back, but I am not eating any of it.
This one is for my Wilkes-Barre Facebook group chums of which I suspect nearly 100 percent of them are tuned into police scanners.
I stumbled across the following Wilkes-Barre Sunday Independent newspaper article from August 2, 1936. Note the headline Radio Gives Away an Illegal Police Call (the link loads a large image, be sure to zoom in if your browser shrinks it) in which the role of the community is called out as having uncovered an "illegal police call" to a Republican hosted beer brawl which took place on the city's outskirts. The radio call, having been intercepted by hoards of ordinary citizens tuning in, got the Wilkes-Barre police department into a little hot water because things that go on in the outskirts of the city are not Wilkes-Barre business. They had some 'splainin to do.
With as much chatter, cross-comparing of scanner traffic in the local Wilkes-Barre area Facebook groups, and the utility of all that so well appreciated today, I wonder what they in 1936 would think about Wilkes-Barre scanner nerds now.
Clip of article calling out impact of curious public. Full article can be read here.
I found this in the archives of the old Wilkes-Barre Sunday Indpendent newspaper which, by the way, can be found here. You can spend hours with a cup of coffee reading up on all sorts of things between 1913 and 1954 or so. It's really downright kind of neat.
There's an interesting part of my blogging process I'm not sure how smart it is. Hours, days, even weeks after I've posted an entry I find myself continually going back to edit and re-edit, over and over. Like, after I've written something I have no real qualm about continually tightening up a piece. It really isn't a problem because near quite literally, nobody reads my blogs. I have the data that tells me so. Only the lone oddball checks in from time to time which is actually less in volume than overnight bots from China stil trying to poke at Battle Blog vulnerabilities I patched years ago. When you get right down to it, I write a blog for bots.
To detour through that point for a moment, dismal readership doesn't bother me because I tend to look at myself as a blogging beginner working toward some grand outcome; someone who wants to write important things but doesn't yet have anything really important to write about to an expert level besides me, me, me, and I, I, I. I'm early in the process, content to exercise my throwing arm for the big whatever ultimate future when lo and behold I have something really interesting to say that draws clicks.
Even though I've been blogging for years I don't equate my entire life of blogging with the balanced formula of relevance, expertise of content, or spirit and/or competency of writing quality, that needs to occur all at once. Stages of my blogging life tend to have one or the other going for it, but never all of them which to me validates the title and craft of blogger. Since I explicitly walked away from a taxing job to concentrate on this sort of thing not too long ago, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about and executing real-world action to achieve this balance, thus making me a beginner with room to grow.
But getting back to the edit thing it really begs the question which I'm sure all writers have contemplated. Could there be so much live editing over such a long period of time that an article which was initially posted making one point morph into making a different one? I for one keep my editing limited to punctuation, typos, flow, and clarity cracks, which seem fine piecemeal and in limited play. But how close have I come to completely changing my entire point or shifting my position unwittingly or perhaps even subconsciously, in order to make a more politcally or palletable read?
I'm going to poke around to see what others are doing, and raise my findings in a future post.
I've come across two articles about tablets I think make great sense. As a gadget-lover who has owned as many as three tablets at once (the original Kindle Fire, an ASUS 10 inch model, and my current Google Nexus 7 2012 version), I have found my ultimate adoption of any of them falling woefully short.
At the time, I had the budget, or foolhardiness, to make such redundant purchases one after another hoping the next tablet model would be different enough in some way from the former such that I'd wind up using it as propitiously as people on TV did, or 100 percent of the people I saw carrying them around me during my daily commute were (or actually weren't).
Dominos or Pizza Hut have better use for tablets dedicated to ordering pizzas.
It's hard to cite any one reason any of them failed to live up to whatever ideal I had in my head but near the top of the list is the fact that anytime I'm interacting digitally with the world, I want absolute responsiveness. My tablets tend to stutter at key moments, confuse my intent with pop-up keyboards, or fail to precisely interpret my screen-dabbing whenever I close or move windows. Switching between apps causes delays and mini-freezes, as does the act of coming out any sleep mode. Sometimes videos don't start for lack of compatibility with Flash or some other underlying issue. All in all the speed I want to operate at is intermittently thwarted by some mundane corrective action I need to make every X interaction event.
In time, there came to be a "groan" factor involved whenever I wanted to do something that involved interaction (which could be something as simple as a tweet). Those reasons might not have been enough to give up and declare two years of tableting a failure, but combined with having a Chromebook or a regular Windows desktop around at my disposal, did. After awhile I just skipped going for the tablet and straight to either to get my "whatever it be" done.
Like most people on the tablet deprecation trajectory, I then figured my nearly abandoned tablets would better serve me as regular carry around instruments, except that my new and larger smartphone which I already carried everyplace as a matter of habit, allowed me to do anything in the time and space a tablet might, without being any worse an experience. So, as the pattern of these stories go, all of my tablets wound up severely under used, began missing charging cycles, and sooner or later collected dust.
Tablet Articles that Accent My Points
But even so, tablets, if not their form, flat and keyboardless (bear in mind, smartphones are increasingly curved which is a pain for flat mobile computing times such as when you're snacking and want to peck at your e-mail on the side), all while perpetually connected to the global internet, naggingly struck me as things that should be useful. The following two articles finally resolved that nagging feeling although none of them mean I'm likely to return to my tablets. They both explain why they are useful, even if not for me and the way people like me who tried using them. They involve approaches to the issue that involve re-thinking how our digital lives actually operate.
The first, Rethinking the iPad: A formula to make it useful if you're already savvy on a laptop and smartphone unwittingly speaks to the second article in that the author talks about converting one's tablet into a dedicated content machine for things like e-book reading, or movie streaming. It might seem a given that tablets are already these things because there are apps for reading and watching movies, but it's more than just firing those apps up and calling it a day. Rather, it's about a complete conversion to make a tablet a dedicated device for these things. You remove anything with a notification component (like messenger or e-mail apps) and configure the tablet to more directly fire up content-only apps like Netflix or You Tube. That way, when you pick up the tablet, you know and trust that you are picking up a content device that will be ready to go to work doing what it does best for you by design. If I did not want to wind up weened back to a tablet, this is exactly what I would do with my Nexus 7. Problem is I know that my long-term digital life will never support a desktop PC, laptop, smartphone, *and* a tablet, ever again, so I just as soon not enjoy luxuries that are not sustainable.
The next article goes a step further by suggesting the concept of "micro-uses". In the article The One Huge Thing Everybody Gets Wrong About Tablets the author makes an astute observation that tablets legitimtately exist for dedicated "micro-applications" (my interpretative turn of phrase, not the article's author), which is why they will continue to thrive even after people like me stop buying them for use as internet communication tools. The closest example of this for a regular user might be as a dedicated content device suggested by the first article above, but in a pointed application world, really means for users in specific areas like in marketing or industry venues where a tablet's flat form in combination with custom apps make great sense.
Why Dominos May One Day Give You a Side Order of Tablet, Free
To the latter article's point I actually envision "dedicated" tablets that work like refrigerator magnets in marketing. The example I once explained to someone would involve Pizza Hut or Dominos. When tablets get really cheap, Dominos could build dedicated tablets that they handed out with pizza orders. They might be really small so they could fit on a keychain or, quite literally, stick to the fridge. Some way to keep them powered all the time would be necessary, but assuming that problem gets worked out, they would be pre-programmed to run a dedicated app that allowed people to order a pizza, similar to the way they do using a smartphone app or online from a desktop PC. You see the device, you know it's connected to Dominos, you know it will do the job you have in mind without fuss or muss. That's an example of both articles mentioned above, in combined play.
The poisonous cortisol caused by having a job has begun to finally drain from my body and just as I had hoped there is increasing evidence that I can once again think creatively and express myself. What better example of that evidence, for better or worse, is my first long form post via Medium.
Long form reading is actually as tough as long form writing these days, so ain't nobody gonna read it. But for me to spill out anything longer than a blurb like this on my blog, is a mechanical achievement.
It involves my thoughts on Snowden, the leaker, which I've been notably reserved about making comments on until now. Why should be evident in the piece.
Aw man. I was so close to doing this myself. I even imagined the very press I'd get that this guy is actually getting. In the New York Daily news of all places! I imagined all the actual dates that would roll in, not just because the idea is funny, but also because of the people talking about it. Press cred. Dates with gals who love the joke, that's what's going to happen to him.
Guy Creates Dating Website Where He's the Only Guy
Literally one reason I hadn't done it was that I wasn't positive it wouldn't be more misconstrued as sleazy than funny (the actually sleazy things I've done, well, never mind - topic of a future blog post). I shelved the idea thinking with no real concrete plans to actually do so, that once my role as a comedian were more established to assist the appropriate context, I'd get to work and do it. The fact that this guy is also a comedian is just an extra kick. The fact I'm lumbering around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania looking for a way to pay my bills, and not going through with open mic practice like this guy is probably doing faitfully, is another extra kick, this time in the groin.
Fist bump bro. Brandon Scott is the bomb for having actually followed through with the plan - the thing that makes an idea count so one does not wind up a "waaah-waaah" guy posting like this - and for putting together a sharp You Tube component (I'd have not done that, just don't have the skill or equipment).
Looking over his execution the only differences I see to my own plan are in the domain name and overall tone of the site. I would not haved used my name in the domain, just something like "blahblahblahdating.com". It would look totally normal and run straight, and then I'd campaign it in social media to let the "ah that's so clevers" and related media storm roll in. By running it straight-faced, the idea would be to elevate it to Onion level seriousness. Seeing what he has done, however, I see how being a little campy works to stave off charges that he's just being a creep. He's also a real dude, not a 48-year-old creeper with a pot belly like me, which helps to keep the context going.
My Clean Conscience Hindered by a Guilty One?
I think one reason I took the consequences of the idea so seriously is that I did something close to this that really was kind of eldritch in flavoring. Back in the day, I created what you could call a "dating portal" for myself. It included questions on a form women I drew in from various places around the then much-more-social-web (*cough* Craigslist, for example) would then fill out, all in response to my expressed desire to have certain information before we started talking further. Similar to Scott's site at this point, it included information about me and included pictures.
The messages I used to draw in prospects were built using a back-end form that allowed me to select themes based on the target demographic I wanted to reach at a given moment, and set parameters that delivered that information back to my system if/when they visited, so that questions of a certain nature would be presented in a pre-date questionaire in favor of others. More extroverted candidates might get a racier set than conservative-minded ones, for example. I was, and with just a tint of more maturity these years later, still am, a cross-spectrum dater.
To frustrate circulation of the web page so they couldn't just pass around the URL to their friends or my co-workers for a good laugh (there wasn't much of a social media in those days, but it was still possible) I created a unique "key and expiration" system so that once an invited party viewed it and had the opportunity to answer my questions, they couldn't re-visit. They had one chance to look and respond before the key expired and any return visit just took them to my home page with a polite message to e-mail me if they wanted.
The portal was like a serious dating tool, not a joke (and yes, it worked ... as much as it needed to, anyway). So well, a charming woman I met through it wanted to partner with me in developing it as an app to allow people to officially file application to "know" someone else, a subscriber to the hypothetical service, so that before folks had their friend requests accepted on MySpace and similar services of the day, they would have to visit something like what I had created to "request consideration". The idea being, high value social targets (attractive women in particular), were so inundated by random requests for friendship on MySpace, this system would efficiently sort out who was genuine and who was just maybe looking to stalk.
As a result of all that maybe, I suppose I paid way too much in overhead thinking about how to make sure I was not seen as equally pathetic, or re-building a serious tool, in doing the "It's Only Me Dave" dating site like Scott. All in all something which goes back to a lesson my comedy teacher was keen on imparting: "Check your ego at the door!". Basic comedianship demands it and Scott figured out how to do it.
On that service of mine I just described, by the way, work fell through. I submitted a white paper but was so busy at the time I turned over rights in writing to the woman who wanted to see the idea developed. She registered the domain "applytoknowme.com" in anticipation we were on our way, but I guess she got socked with other things too, as it just never happened.
This will break your heart. This happened yesterday (Thursday) and I whipped together an edited video showing the whole thing. It happened after a police chase where the suspect, a man wanted for pistol-whipping another man, grimly took his own life with a hand gun. The real problem? He had a dog in his cab, and the rest will just break your heart.
Note: Happy (or as good as it can get given the circumstances) ending.
Update: The dog's name may be "Mr. Wiggles" according to comments left at the LAPD Instagram site. The LAPD later tweeted out about the incident.
I want to recharge one of my old websites but don't want to use my Battle Blog because for the most part I don't want it to be a blog. I want it to be static and build an editorial viewpoint through the slow accumulation of content rather than a parade of commentary I probably won't have time for. However, the website concept does have a dynamic component (a national listing of data) and it crossed my mind that maybe I want to make the site collaborative. After all, if I get enough people interested it shouldn't be a problem to count on visitors participating in content upkeep, and what better platform to build the site on then, than a Wiki.
In a process that was insultingly easy since I'm now using shared hosting and things like installing Wikis are a one-click effort offered by my host, I "installed" MediaWiki, the foundation of the Wikipedia that everyone knows and loves already. Immediately I went to task building a few pages, reminding myself how to work with its funky syntax along the way.
The mockup wound up looking pretty good -- I could see the vision coming into focus. But it dawned on me as I started building out a template page for people to use in the event they initiate an (American) state entry on their own, that the entire process was, well, clumsy. It took a lot of deeper configuration for the site to behave the way I needed it to. And the Wiki syntax, well, I found it as tricky as I had ever known it to be. It got me thinking further. The website's niche audience will probably be small at the outset and smaller still considering that I won't be putting up a lot of content at first. So, in the end, how many left over from an already dim slice of pie would want or be able to tinker with Wiki syntax? Safe bet is no one. Hence, why employ a "collaborative" tool like Wiki if it was a sure bet there would never in fact be collaboration?
On that sentiment I was about to begrudgingly tear the Wiki down in favor of something like Joomla or Drupal, if not Battle Blog, when it dawned on me that despite the likely fact I'll never reap the signature benefits of a Wiki system for this project -- the collaborative aspect -- my work in setting it up that far did reveal another compelling value point. It is still a quick and dirty universally accessible method of direct edit which means that from any seat that I, as even a sole editor, could point and click edits and add new pages to at any time. No HTML editor, no FTP client, nothing except a Starbucks Wi-Fi connection and a laptop. Just going through the mockup exercise proved it to be fluid and enjoyable. In very short order I created a fairly decent and official front page to greet users with and a system for presenting my national state data uniformly.
Wikis are not encouraged as content management systems if there is no evidence or likelihood of an engergized collboration effort, but clearly I found myself appreciating a completely different angle. I haven't peeled back the lid on Joomla or Drupal yet, but I'm close, or at least tempted, to taking the Wiki approach after all. Oiled up with practice I am fluent in the syntax and greatly enjoy the prospect of correcting typos by simply clicking a mouse with one hand while stuffing a doughnut in my face with the other.
The "snowpocalypse" predicted to end life in New York City and other regions of the northeast didn't wind up much. Today people are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong with the predictions. Here's a thought, maybe it was hopeful selfishness all around the table!
A Facebook friend wrote:
Supermarkets were probably the ones who hyped up the storm...
I agree but I would expand that list. Grocery stores for sales, gas stations for sales, the media for viewers and clicks, the mayor for pomp and circumstance, workers for days off and "work at home" hours, and city workers for overtime. Even the kids got the day off.
The storm did have a massive impact, just not so much in the shut-down zone of NYC. Apolgies and blame abound!
My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public.
In a previous post I talked about my activities in the mid-90s to encourage open police radio traffic that people could easily tune in on. It's interesting to find that to this day the struggle continues although for a variety of technical reasons I won't get into unless there are questions, citizens being shut out never became the dire reality I imagined. The controversy where it still does exist however turns up some interesting You Tube stuff that better explains to my vanilla pals of the 15s what I'm talking about.
You Tube video exemplifies one agency's switch to digitally encrypted communication
The video embed above summarizes the problem as it loomed in Hillsborough County back in 1997, although HCSO was not going "digital" and certainly not "encrypted". The real beef with listening to HCSO was that the lowest grade implementation of new technology left parts of each conversation scattered across different frequencies. If one person said something, you weren't guaranteed to hear a reply because said reply might pop up on another frequency. The police scanners sold at the time had no way of isolating and tracking full conversations which was, for then, tantamount to encryption.
The problem as I and many others in Tampa knew it evaporated almost overnight when scanners that could in fact exclusively follow agencies and conversations were introduced to market. I still have mine -- the BC245-XLT TrunkTracker II. First of its breed. The system being discussed in the video is much worse from a scannist's point of view, it's digital (also no longer a problem for scanners on the market today), and encrypted (a big problem for scanners on the market today and likely forever).
How Local Press Concluded It
While I'm on the subject, here's another artifact from the effort. It's the Tampa Tribune blurb that appeared in the February 1, 1997 print run. The slant they went with was kind of tongue in cheek (they were making fun of me but yes I was making that easy), an attitude I maintained later in my messaging was in fact part and parcel of the bigger problem when you consider that only mainstream news organizations could afford the $3,000 radios. While everyone else was losing access, newspaper and TV stations would be left a-okay (thus securing their relevance). One could argue me and my ideas being comically dismissed was pretty good for them and their "exclusive access dependent" industry.
Nyaaa! Whatever. To this day I think that's a great point and in fact I think it's now an excellent point given that with today's evolved Internet, newspapers are no different than regular people. Fact is regular people do news better in some ways. Fourteen years later and I subscribe to Facebook groups that provide more relevant real-time news than the Tampa Tribune or any media business ever did.