News Is Not Something We Should Consume Every Hour: A Modest Proposal

You know what I think would massively improve everyone’s life?

Restrict Facebook and Twitter to something you can only interact with for about 45 minutes in one chunk in the morning, and another one hour chunk in the evening, per day.

That’s it. You can go balls-deep on the same nonsense you do today, but only in those two chunks.

Why those two chunks?

Well… think about how we used to consume news. You read the morning paper and/or flipped on the morning news show while you got dressed, or threw on your AM station of choice while you commuted to work.

Then… you generally did not consume any more news for the rest of the day until you got home, in which case you’d watch the evening news over dinner or the 10 o’clock news before bed.

There were occasional changes in this routine; say you were going out for drinks with friends after work. This generally meant that you would NOT RECEIVE ANY NEW NEWS INPUT WHILE YOU WERE OUT. Like, AT ALL. And nobody gave a shit. You’d catch up with the world tomorrow.

So, if I were allowed to do what was proper and nationalize Facebook and Twitter and regulate how they operated, my very first mandate to them would be: hard account time usage locks. You could start your first 45 minute chunk whenever you want, but, once it starts, it runs out in 45 minutes, whether you use it or not. You cannot pause it, it does not roll-over. When it is done, there will be a mandatory one hour minimum gap before you can start your second “evening” chunk of usage. And, again, once you start that one hour, it runs out 60 minutes later, no matter what.

Kid started whining about something and you had to step away and lost your evening hour? Oh well, start fresh tomorrow, you’ll live.

Had to work a late night and never got to start your evening news dump? That’s fine, there will be more news to suffer through tomorrow.

Running late in the morning, didn’t have time to pop open Twitter and catch up and which women they’ve banned most recently for daring to tell someone who said they wanted to rape their mouths to fuck off, while simultaneously also allowing 127 different Nazi accounts to demand you get in an oven? Guess what? That’s right: you’ll live. Catch up during your evening hour. Or even tomorrow.

Get the gist here? It’s not healthy to be tied to the news 24×7. The news media has zero interest in telling you “today’s basically fine, there’s nothing you need to be concerned with, go on with your day, citizen”, even though that is often the case.

Even when it’s NOT the case, such as now since we live in a Trumpian Geohell Late Capitalist Dystopia That Will Not End Until We Are All Gig Economy Serfs Or Dead, the human spirit simply cannot survive a diet of constant news refreshing throughout all waking hours. Yes, the President probably did or said something absolutely awful within the last hour. No, there’s nothing you can do about it, so there’s absolutely no benefit to knowing about that thing RIGHT NOW as opposed to in your next morning or evening News Time Allotment Chunk.

I really think this would be one of those social goods the government needs to get on top of, like banning smoking or cracking down on dads driving kids unseatbelted in the back of the wagon after six-seven scotches at a family dinner party. Nobody benefits from letting the media make us feel terrible all of the time, always. They just know they can wire our brains to want constant stoking of fear and/or pleasure, and they’re increasingly effective at that since we can now all be reached by them all of the time always, which, in retrospect, was a TERRIBLE fucking idea that I wish I had not spent my entire career trying to make possible šŸ˜¦

Peter Thiel Is A Modern-Day Mengele

Peter Thiel Argues That The Poor Should Be Fodder For His Risky, Careless Quality-of-Life Medical Experimentation

We are rightfully horrified today that the US government used to do this to minorities (think the Syphillis tests on black guys in Alabama, among countless others). Thiel and these other Valley fuckheads think those days were fine, and are actually angry that they’re not allowed to just toss some cash at some poor people and then run hilariously under-secured vaccine trials on them, because who cares if a few browns suffer and/or die if the end result is a safe vaccine for rich white people, right?

This is why the wealthy should be imprisoned and their wealth appropriated and redistributed. It has taken ages to get our government to where it even somewhat-responsibly regulates health and food procedures, and it fails at that, often, not due to some inherent evil or caprice of “gubbmint workers”, but because greedy, capable shitheads like Thiel see the profit in doing it unsafely, and are willing and have the capital to influence media and elections to make sure the people exercise their “free will” and only elect their hand-picked mandarins who will gut protections and regulations as they see fit.

Of course, people are egregiously stupid, so they blame the government for this instead of the actually-evil wealthy fuckers who have the ability and means to to bend the government to their will to the detriment of the rest of us.

People. Please wake up. What you hate, what is ruining your life, is NOT the government. It’s rich people. And a government fully funded and empowered by the people to prevent rich people from fucking with your life is your only hope you have of things ever getting better.

Things I Like: Next.app for iOS (A Simple Spending Tracking App)

There are a million budgeting apps available for iOS. Most of them are way over-designed for my purposes. I basically gave up on finding one for the phone after testing out Mint, Quicken, YNAB, etc… they were all just too much.

What I wanted was simply this: when I spend some money, I want to be able to, VERY quickly, punch in how much and roughly on what. And I want to be able to view those entries grouped by day, week, and, most importantly, monthly.

I don’t want to have to view and then cross-tabulate the five different accounts spending can occur in.

I don’t want pie charts, graphs, or to be flooded with data.

I want to be able to input a spending event VERY VERY QUICKLY. This is the most important part.

None of the apps out there did all of this well, if at all. So I gave up on it entirely for a while until I happened across this article by Federico Viticci, a hardcore iOS nerd whose work and reviews I’ve respected for years. In it, he explains why he loves and how he uses Next, a simple iOS budgeting app. His review sounded like exactly what I was looking for, so I grabbed the app.

It is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

fullsizeoutput_3685

This is the screen that greets you when you open the app. It’s a bunch of easy-to-parse icons defining categories. The ones in blue are ones you’ve added spending for before. The darker the blue, the more money you’ve spent on that type of thing.

Simply tap an icon, punch in the amount and tap the checkmark key and you’re done. Takes two seconds.

Wanna see how much you’ve spent in the last day/week/month/year? Swipe right and choose:

fullsizeoutput_3688

Tap on any category to see a trend line over the time period chosen (so, day over day, week over week, etc.):

fullsizeoutput_3689

Swipe to the rightmost screen to see a daily breakdown of every charge you’ve entered grouped by day instead of by kind (like the other screen does):

fullsizeoutput_3686

None of this is like “awesome new exciting!” but I’ve been surprised at how hard it’s been to find an app that does this well. The key need for me here is quickness; if there’s any friction at all in using an app like this, I know I’ll stop using it in short order. And that sucks. But Next just gets out of the way. I can order coffee and quickly enter how much that run cost without pissing off the person behind me in line in the drive-thru. It takes literally about 3 seconds from grabbing my phone to having entered the data and done.

I don’t use this feature because it would slow me down too much, but if you want to enter a note on any entry to describe what it was or whatever, you can. I find that just tapping a category icon for each entry gives me all of the detail I need.

So, bravo to the fine Germans at “no identity gmbh” for making Next, which does everything I want it to and does it exactly how I want it done.

 

 

Things That Suck: ADP, Again

I had zero intentions of beating this dead horse into a finer consistency until ADP’s support team actually reached out to me after I published the first post in this series, basically intimating that it was my own company’s fault that the emails their system sends do not contain useful info:

adp_03

Upon reading this, I realized that, yes, systems like this often allow the end-user to customize what info goes into emails automatically generated by said system. And, given my years of experience with my company’s HR team, I can completely accept that the lack of any actionable info in those emails would be their fault, not ADP’s.

So, I replied back to “ADP helps” that a) I’m certainly not going to offer up my company name because that isn’t tied to my blog here and I get into enough trouble with HR b) but yes, if they’d like to confirm that those email details are entirely up to the end-user, I’d publish a retraction. I suspect that an email footer with a link to the main ADP page is or should be a default, like it is with every other platform I’ve ever dealt with, but maybe I’m high.

Since they care more, presumably, about looking helpful than being helpful, they have not replied to my response so fuck ’em; here’s more stupid, unhelpful shit their garbage system does that I am bloody sure aren’t the fault of the end company’s choices.

So: I get useless email basically stating “hey, you’ve got something to do in ADP”. I go to the site and login:

adp_01

This is the popover you get when you click on the Messaging Icon in the main ADP view. Let’s click on Tasks:

adp_02

This is where Shit Gets Dumb. The system is telling me I have two tasks to deal with. Neither are “Urgent”, apparently, though I have no idea what criteria the system uses to decide that something is Urgent vs. not.

Can I click on either of the two visible, available tasks to be taken directly to it so I can act on it?

No.

Does this dumbshit system offer the option to APPROVE/DENY/REVIEW right in this screen, on the task itself, which would be efficient and sensible?

Also no.

So. Clicking on the Green Tasks button, which is what the first picture implies one should do, does not get the user any fucking closer to being able to ACT on the task than NOT clicking on anything.

THE ONLY USEFUL THING ONE CAN DO IN THIS SCREEN AT ALL IS CLICK THE “VIEW ALL MESSAGES” LINK.

So why even fucking bother with all of this other clickable shit that takes the user fucking nowhere? It actively SLOWS YOU DOWN from achieving the goal of processing the waiting task.

It’s a prime rule of UI/UX that, if clicking something only takes you to a new screen where you can also only usefully click one thing, SKIP THE INTERVENING SCREEN AND JUST TAKE THE USER TO WHERE THEY CAN PERFORM ACTIONS. This isn’t rocket science. Even Microsoft goddamned Outlook, NO ONE’s idea of a well-executed user experience, gets this right.

ADP does not.

This infuriates me just because it’s so easily fixable. Just ditch that stupid popover entirely and, when I click on the Message Icon, just take me to the full Message Center page. With, preferably, a list of of messages that I can act on either in the list itself or by clicking any entry to go to a full, single-item view of it.

Now, I will sit over by here and wait for ADP’s support drones to uselessly imply that it’s our fault that their system is designed this way.

 

Things That Suck: ADP

If you’ve ever spent any time in corporate America, you’re familiar with ADP. Your paycheck comes out of their system, your time off is managed by them… they’re ubiquitous, the McDonald’s of corporate HR.

Unlike McDonald’s, which, however you feel about their food, are goddamned Olympian when it comes to efficiency throughout their entire operation, ADP is terrible, hateful garbage.Ā Outside of open-source garage projects, I’m hard-pressed to think of software that’s less interested in helping you accomplish anything with it than ADP.

Let’s take just one example here, focusing on one of the most common things a manager will do in ADP: review time-off requests. When one of my guys requests time off, they do it via ADP’s website. I get an email from ADP alerting me to this fact. This is the entirety of the email I receive:

adp-01

Notice what’s missing? Say, ANY way to act on this request whatsoever? Every other goddamned service out there would typically include:

  • To Approve this request: CLICK HERE
  • To Deny this request: CLICK HERE
  • To Review/Edit this request: CLICK HERE

ADP gives you NONE of this. Not even a goddamned link to the website so you can dig through it yourself to find the request.

Now, I can hear you thinking to yourself “uh, this is pretty small beer, Ritchie. First World Problem much?” and you’re absolutely right, but one of my personal pet peeves is very expensive software that actively hates the user.

Like; how difficult would it be to just include a link at least to the fucking site here? It’s not like the URL is even custom for each company; every one of the millions of people who have ADP accounts logs in through the exact same goddamned URL as everyone else. There’s zero reason, save active hatred of their users, that ADP could not at least include that link in these fucking emails.

I’m not sure why this bothers me so much beyond the simple waste and disdain for their fellow man that has to be involved with the thousands of ADP employees over the years collectively either never thinking about this issue or having thought of it and just not bothered to address it. It’s an infuriating mindset to deal with, and there are many more examples of this combination of incompetence and outright loathing of their paying customers that permeate the entire goddamned platform.

So, yeah, I’m super-glad I get to be in this system dozens of times a week. I’m even managing to feel a twinge of sympathy for our HR people (not a group I normally view with anything other than suspicion if not actual anger) given that they LIVE in this thing.

 

iTunes: FUCK Your Albums, Son

Lord have mercy, am I ever tired of this malevolent piece of shit software… (and spare me any thoughts about replacing it with a hand-crafted lossless FLAC archive or fucking Spotify or whatever floats YOUR particular boat; I’ve been ripping my own music into and buying music through iTunes since it came out 16 fucking years ago, I’m not spending the time and money that would be necessary to recreate my library anywhere else right now. iTunes is my goddamned wife, and we’re married in a country that doesn’t recognize divorce. So be it).

I was checking the iTunes Store this week for a rare track by Clutch (pronounced: FUCKING. CLUTCH.) that I saw on YouTube and that I wished, if it were available, to purchase for my own library. It wasn’t, but I saw that there was a Deluxe Edition of their last studio album, which I already own, that features three bonus tracks, which I do not.

So I bought just those three tracks, to complete the whole album.

iTunes, in its infinite retardation, loaded them up into the library as so:

iTunes_Album_Splitting_01
Yes, iTunes. These are DEFINITELY two unrelated albums. For certain.

Okay, fine. One set of tracks is called THING and the other is THING (Deluxe). And maybe there’s some colossal sperglord out there who would want these two things kept separate. I, however, being a normal goddamned human being, do not.

I mean, fuck’s sake, it even knows that the track #s on the latter three tracks proceed directly from the first twelve. THIS IS ALL ONE GODDAMNED ALBUM, ITUNES.

So, in any other music managing app in the world, to correct this one would simply:

  • select all tracks
  • edit their info
  • force one album title onto all fifteen tracks, which:
  • will make any non-mongoloid music app understand that “oh hey, duder wants these to all be considered one album. Done”

iTunes, being a special snowflake, considered my request to lump these into one album and gave me this:

iTunes_Album_Splitting
wut

How in the actual fuck it decided that tracks 9-15 are an album by a band called Clutch named Psychic Warfare that is completely different and separate from the album by a band called Clutch named Psychic Warfare that contains tracks 1-8 is a mystery that I will never solved short of kidnapping the entire iTunes development team from the last 20 years and locking them into a torture-filled Skinner Box of my own devising until they spit out the truth.

Now, I’ve been wrestling in the mud with iTunes for a looooong fucking time at this point. Even after the Great Purge of 2006 (am I mildly ashamed at the number of live U2 bootlegs and Cleopatra Records “re-recordings” of 80’s cock rock greats by the middle-aged current versions of same that I had? Yes), or the Lesser Purge of 2012 (when I, and millions of other people, quietly deleted that Gotye albumĀ that, aside from that one tune, really, really sucked), I’m still sitting at about 17,000 songs and 140GB of music. So, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make it behave. Sometimes.

One thing you can do is right-click and GET INFO and change not just the album name, but go into the SORTING OPTIONS and try applying the album name to the SORT AS field, which is usually blank. I did that here and…

iTunes_Album_Splitting_04
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK

This has NEVER been reproducible or reliable, so sometimes you just have to do it a few times and see if it ever gets it right. Which is fucking infuriating, but what are you gonna do?

iTunes_Album_Splitting_02

There. Was that so fucking hard? Yes. Yes it was.

As an aside, I do use Google Music just as a last-ditch backup dump for all of my music. I use their Music Manager to automatically upload anything new that shows up in my iTunes to Google Music. On a whim, I decided to see how it treated this same scenario:

gmusic_01
Oh, bother.

So, Google Music, too, thinks these are two separate albums. Great. Let’s try fixing that. Click the little … icon and change the album name from “Psychic Warfare (Deluxe)” to just “Psychic Warfare” and click enter…

gmusic_02
et voila.

Well. THAT WAS FUCKING EASY. SURE WISH APPLE COULD FIGURE OUT WHAT THEIR PRIMARY COMPETITOR HAS.

Not that Google Music doesn’t have a ton of other problems (playlists capped at 1000 songs is the biggie for me), but this kind of simple shit should automatically work in any app that purports to be a music library manager or player.

Maybe just switching to the new-ish Apple Music would be easiHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAican’tevenfinishthatsentenceAppleMusicisadumpsterfire.

Steve Would’ve Never Let This Happen

I don’t understand the iPad Pro line from Apple. A few months ago they release the biggest, fastest iPad ever, with the most RAM and new accessories that only it can use, the regular iPads need not apply. Then, more recently, they release what everybody would consider the mainstream version, which has a lot of the bad-assed stuff of its older brother, but not all of it, and it’s a bit smaller.

So far, so good.

Until one realizes that this smaller, supposedly NOT the top of the iPad line has a better, if smaller, screen than its big brother. And some fancy light detection technology that will change the color warmth of the screen automatically to match its surroundings. AND it has a way better camera.

So, like.. what the fuck?

Yeah, first world problems and all that, but if you want the absolute best iPad today to future proof yourself, there isn’t a clear answer. Best iPhone? 6S or 6S+, the only difference is the size, pick accordingly. Best Mac laptop? Macbook Pro Retina 15, loaded. Best iMac? The big one, loaded. Best iPad? Uhhhh… depends.

I like Apple’s willingness to have top-tier internals across a wide variety of sizes; the iPhone SE is a great example of this, providing first-rate hardware in a form factor the market has otherwise abandoned or consigned to shitty performance due to gimped parts from the bin bucket. But I cannot understand why they did this weird separation of high-end features across their top two iPads.

So, I’ll just stick with my iPad Air 2 for now. Fuckin’ thing works fine, anyways.