Category Archives: hmmm

vampires vs zombies

A few years ago I wrote about why I like good vampire and zombie stories.

I had an epiphany this week related to that, that I thought you’d all find interesting.

If vampires exist, zombies can not exist [long] in the same universe. Why? Because they’d be eliminating the only source of food for the vampires. And since vampires are, more or less, indestructible (at least to the wiles of marauding zombies), when they eliminated zombie outbreaks, they’d do it quickly and efficiently – and, most likely, quietly.

ssa, meet irs; irs, meet ssa

As you know, we adopted our second son last year (which finalized in Dec – woohoo!).

A couple weeks ago, we received Zeb’s birth certificate (which needs to be processed after an adoption), and applied for his SSN.

Earlier this week his brand spankin’ new SSN  card arrived – so I got down to finishing our tax return for 2015. Problem:

Rule Number: R0000-504-02
Rule Number Description: The SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN or ITIN) and LAST NAME for Dependent 2 do not match the IRS e-File database. You will need to REVIEW AND MAKE CHANGES to the Dependent 2’s information before resubmitting your return.

Whahuh?

So I got on the phone to the IRS after some scary FAQ pages, it turns out that the IRS only gets data updates from the SSA every few weeks.

The very helpful lady who answered my call and helped me out told me to try again in a couple weeks, and it should go through with no issues.

At least there’s a reason for it to have rejected.

electric power at every wheel

It seems odd to me that most, if not all, electric vehicles don’t put individual drive motors at each wheel.

It’d seem like doing so would be a more efficient transfer of energy from the electrical generation / storage system to propelling the vehicle than having centralized drives like IC-based cars.

Or maybe they do, and it just isn’t obvious?

sap bapis and hp oo

Couple quick notes:

  • SAP is not designed for automated / programmatic access – their “BAPI”, or binary application programming interface, requires additional licensing beyond just the product to use
    • I made the naive assumption that a “BAPI” was like a WSDL – and it is, but it’s proprietary, not open (and it’s binary, not plaintext XML)
  • HP Operations Orchestration requires an additional, ie not out-of-the-box, content pack and wizard to import SAP BAPIs to make operations

That said, the power of OO can be brought to bear with SAP and imported BAPIs – with the following gotchas:

  • You can only have one BAPI call in a given flow
  • If you want to call more than one BAPI for a given task, you need to have them split into their own subflows, and call the subflows

Hopefully you won’t need to know this. But if you do, I’m happy to save you some of the headaches I have experienced interoperating with SAP & OO.

facebook is aol

Facebook is AOL.

Yes, that AOL.

America Online.

The one that advertised 20 years ago in conjunction with companies things like, “search AOL keyword ‘ford'”.

That’s what Facebook is now. It’s AOL – but without the ISP aspect.

Check that – Facebook is (or “has”) an ISP: just look at internet.org.

So we’ve come full circle.

The ISP that millions of Americans used to get online, send email, chat, read news, keep up with friends, follow/participate in chat rooms, and see “the web” (through an extremely walled garden, mind you) has been replaced wth a website that hundreds of millions of people around the world use to send messages, chat, read news, keep up with friends, participate in groups, and, apparently, get online (if you’re in a part of the world Facebook is targeting with its ISP, of course).

apps on the network

{This started as a Disqus reply to Eric’s post. Then I realized blog comments shouldn’t be longer than the original post 🙂 }

The app-on-network concept is fascinating: and one I think I’ve thought about previously, too.

Hypothetically, all “social networks” should have the same connections: yet there’s dozens upon dozens (I use at least 4 – probably more, but I don’t realize it). And some folks push the same content to all of them, while others (including, generally, myself) try to target our shares and such to specific locations (perhaps driving some items to multiple places with tools like IFTTT).

Google’s mistake with Google+ was thinking they needed to “beat” Facebook: that’s not going to happen. As Paul Graham notes:

“If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I’ve discussed, don’t make a direct frontal attack on it. Don’t say, for example, that you’re going to replace email. If you do that you raise too many expectations…Maybe it’s a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it’s going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you’ll get it wrong…the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary.”

That’s where folks who get called things like The Idea Guy™ go awry: instead of asking questions, you try to come up with ideas – like these 999. And if you can’t/don’t, you think you’ve failed.

Social networks should be places where our actual social interactions can be modeled effectively. Yet they turn into popularity contests. And bitch fests. And rant centers. Since they tend towards the asymmetric end of communication, they become fire-and-forget locales, or places where we feel the incessant need to be right. All the time. (Add services like Klout and Kred, and it gets even worse.)

I would love to see a universal, portable, open network like the one Eric describes. All the applications we think run on social networks (like Farmville) don’t. They run on top of another app which runs on “the network”.

Layers on layers leads to the age-old problem of too many standards, and crazy amounts of abstraction. Peeling-back the layers of the apps atop the network could instead give us the chance to have a singular network where types of connections could be tagged (work, fun, school, family, etc, etc – the aspect of G+ that everyone likes most: “circles”). Then the app takes you to the right subset of your network.

Of course – this all leads to a massive problem: security.

If there is only One True Social Network, we all end up entrusting everything we put there to be “safe”. And while some of still follow the old internet mantra, “if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on a website,” the vast majority of people – seemingly especially those raised coincident to technology’s ubiquitization – think that if they put it somewhere “safe” (like Facebook), that it should be “private”.

After all, the One True Social Network would also be a social engineer’s or identity thief’s Holy Grail – the subversive access to all  of someone’s personal information would be their nirvana.

And that, I think, is the crux of the matter: regardless of what network (or, to use Eric’s terminology, what app-atop-the-network) we use, privacy, safety, and security are all forefront problems.

Solve THAT, and you solve everything.

Or maybe you just decide privacy/security doesn’t matter, and make it all public.

check your home, auto, and plp insurance policies

Every few months to year I take a look around to see if anyone can give me a better rate on my auto & renters’ (home) insurance. This month, after 3 years, I found a carrier who could knock about $60 a month off my payment *and* give me more coverage.

Interesting things I learned in this process:

  • you want a Personal Liability Protection – “umbrella” – policy
    • provides coverage over-and-above the limits on other policies you hold
    • follows you world-wide (at least with my carrier)
  • individually-scheduled items on a renters’ (or home) policy are covered even if something happens away from home
    • say you have your wife’s engagement ring individually-scheduled
      • if she loses it at the beach, it’s still covered
      • if it’s stolen from home, it’s still covered
    • the cost of adding individually-scheduled items is a fraction of their cost to you if something goes awry
  • max-out your auto policy’s limits – you’ll get better rates
    • if you carry state minimums (25k/50k in KY), you will have a higher rate than if you increase your coverage levels (it was a $300/year difference for me (not that I’d ever take minimums, but it was still interesting)
    • the insurance companies factor-in your “insurance intelligence” when giving a quote
      • if you pay for more coverage, you’re “smarter” about insurance, and less likely to have a claim
  • the company you’ve been using for years takes all the factors in your driving, credit, and other relevant histories and calculates your risk to them differently
    • so shop around!

I was with my last carrier since moving to KY in 2010. I don’t know how long I’ll have my new one, but for now, increasing my coverage, expanding its scope, and reducing my payments are all great.

I went from 2 to 3 policies (including the new PLP), and am pretty excited (though, of course, I also hope to never need them).