Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 11:14 15-year-old TV show on the NYC subway system

This morning, it took me about 90 minutes to get to work.

I used to have a relatively long commute growing up, so I know that doesn’t sound too awful in the ears of a lot of people. But you might change your tune upon learning that this was how long it took for me to get four miles. 3.25 as the crow flies.

This means that, in a city with one of the largest and supposedly best transit systems in the world, I would have arrived roughly 30 minutes earlier if I had gotten out and walked.

In my state of frustration, I went looking for a gif of my favorite line from Black Books, in which Bernard screams “Lies! Subterfuge! Seething Corruption!” This was in response to the fact that mta.info specifically said the 7 was borked due to mechanical problems with a train at 33rd Street – the exact train I was sitting on, with a conductor telling us we weren’t moving because of smoke in the tunnel.

This was followed by a transfer to the N, which I was immediately informed was also not running, due to both a sick passenger and a power failure. This forced me to exit the station entirely, walk to another one, and catch an E, which did run, but with infuriatingly vague ‘train traffic’ delays.

I could not find the gif in question and had not the patience remaining to make it myself.

Yet, paging through the images that did exist, it became clear that the modern MTA has a lot in common with a show about a surly, filthy, alcoholic shopkeeper. Allow me to illuminate.

The all-purpose comment:

nope_train

Everyone off, please. This train has suddenly forgotten how to train:

time_wasting_bastards

No matter what time I get up or leave the house, there is some nonsense that will make me late to work:

betrayal

Just about anything that ever gets said over the intercom, even on those magical occasions when you can actually understand the words being said:

what_what

The entire city, for the last decade or so:

up_with_this

Come to think of it, we’d all be a lot happier if they just gave us a damn sausage before boarding.

That idea right there is free. You’re welcome, MTA.

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Wednesday August 9th, 2017 13:03 Stop the presses: changing thing changes

It’s an unholy rite of passage for a New Yorker. Once you’ve been around for 20 years, you’re obligated to blather on about how the city is changing for the worse.

Gentrification. My favorite store closed. Younger people have different expectations from restaurants or retail outlets. The rent is too damn high.

THINGS THAT EXISTED DECADES AGO ARE NOW DIFFERENT. CALL IN THE NATIONAL GUARD.

garth_change

Myself, I’m only around the 10-year mark here in the city*. I too have noticed that things have changed. But what I’ve noticed most is that things always change. Constantly. It’s a feature, not a bug.

So, when I read something like this [from the venerable LongReads, no less], I can’t help but think the author an imbecile for not realizing they’re penning the exact same swan-song bullshit that every single era before them has written. If they take the time to look around (or possibly stop shoegazing for a minute and listen to the constant stream of complaining all around – which is our right as New Yorkers), they’ll find their story not as original as it may feel.

Because here’s a fun fact: the neighborhood you’re whinging about, the very buildings and stores and restaurants you strive to keep around – were all, at one time, instruments of gentrification themselves.

New York City was founded in 1624. That ‘indispensable’ neighborhood locale that’s been around for 50, 75 or even 100 years only ended up there after 300 years of change. There’s an excellent chance it used to be the location of someone’s home or another much-beloved neighborhood staple that the New Yorkers of the time were thoroughly pissed off to see replaced.

Now, gentrification is a very real thing and certainly no laughing matter. A lot of these chain businesses are vastly inferior and are unfairly supplanting their predecessors, to the detriment of all. That said, gentrification is a complex situation and not every Starbucks (pronounced ‘The Devil’s Failing Kidney Piss Dispensary’) that replaces a bodega is a pure travesty that sucks the ephemeral ‘soul’ out of the neighborhood.

Change is the soul of New York. Your favorite deli, no matter its fascinating backstory, is not.

*If I try to pull this crap next decade, feel free to force-feed me a printout of this little ditty.

In: OtherNo Comments

Monday July 31st, 2017 15:02 A preparatory ponderance on Mooch’s next CV

mooch

Might also want to warn the next guy not to trip over the bar he set for performance.

In: Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Friday January 20th, 2017 16:12 Post-inauguration soother

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

fox-jumping-over-dog
In: OtherNo Comments

Thursday September 15th, 2016 12:32 Apple is everything I hate about brand worship

iphone-7-and-iphone-7-plus

One of the most annoying questions/comments one gets as an IT person is some iteration of ‘Bet you have all Mac at home’ or ‘What kind of systems do you use? [insert shock at anything not made by Apple here].’

Putting aside the fact that most IT people don’t go for anything Apple besides their phone and maybe a tablet because their desktop OS is a walled garden where the wall is 75 feet high and lined with armed guards…

Or that the question suggests that they don’t know the difference between IT and design or dev, who are the ones more likely to go Apple in hardware, nor that all three groups hate being mistaken for each other…

It’s annoying because that question makes it abundantly clear that they don’t give a flying fuck about the actual operation of the product. All that matters is that it has a logo.

Motorola put out a new ad about these kinds of users. Whether the people in the ad are actors or not, I can confirm from experience that they are perfectly representative of real people. People who just buy whatever the hell is new from Apple, which is a huge segment of their customer base.

Proof of concept: Google “complaints about” followed by any iPhone model or iOS version. The hardware is savaged by the “fans” the instant it’s announced and the software is similarly panned the instant it’s pushed out to the hardware.

This is entirely normal.

The nerds and the geeks and the freaks do that with absolutely every company’s products. It’s practically a Constitutional requirement for anyone with a keyboard, internet connection and entirely too much spare time. Nothing can ever be seen as perfect because there are simply too many people to please.

The difference for Apple is the percentage of people who are directly opposed to a feature (or lack thereof, in the Case of the Missing Headphone Jack) will just buy the damn thing anyway.

It’s like a pizza joint that forces you to have anchovies on every pie, no matter what you ask for, and that store doesn’t just avoid immediate business collapse, but has incredible sales, thousands of franchisees and an army of rabid followers that will instantly attack you for the mere suggestion that maybe some people just don’t like a bunch of weird tiny fish dribbled on their damn pizza.

That Motorola ad should be quite powerful. Showing that, hey, there is already a product that does these things that you really want it to do. You just have to look up from your Apple Bottle Feeder® for half a second.

That stuff is located just next to that group of people whose tech suggestions you typically ignore despite the fact that they have far fewer complaints about the things they decide to buy.

In: Computers, OtherNo Comments

Friday June 3rd, 2016 09:33 Cyberpunk posterity

Inspirational quotes should be purged from the intertubes, lined up and shot, then have their bodies lain in a field of constantly-renewed Amaterasu.

Quotations that actually inspire should be kept for posterity’s sake:

It just occurred to me that one of the most basic, prosaic, everyday things I have to protect my (nanotribomechanical test equipment manufacturing) company’s network against is stateless hackers using semi-autonomous swarms of zombie computers to launch distributed attacks via an underground, anonymous alternative to the web with a goal of encrypting and holding users’ files hostage in exchange for untraceable cryptocurrency which will then be used in money laundering operations for the benefit of obscure terrorist groups.

When you break it down, most of our jobs can be seen as pretty fucking cyberpunk.

Just another day over at /r/sysadmin.

In: Computers, OtherNo Comments

Tuesday May 19th, 2015 11:31 The rules of breaking the rules

Reading this article on the problems with school dress codes and their enforcement landed me in one of those ‘I thought one thing and after reading think another, but have gone the direction opposite what the author intended’ situations.

Of course these arbitrary, often overly-conservative school dress codes are stupid. But I also see them as serving a completely unintended function that is increasingly critical for children, especially considering the state of the nation’s education system.

2000px-Gonzo.svgConsider for a moment that so many of us that have already gone through the ‘growing up’ process faced similar types of arbitrary rules as children. In many cases, that involved a dress code.

That forced us to do two different things:

1) Question the rule. Is this fair? Is this just? Does it serve a purpose? Someone told me to do something and, instead of just doing it, I am going to try to evaluate whether or not it is something I should do or should have to do.

Admittedly, the conclusions at which the adolescent brain will arrive are not necessarily correct, but it is the process that matters.

Terrifically useful life skills: To actively decide which rules are worth following. To frame the existence of rules in context of those who issue them. To consider the ramifications of not following those rules. To learn how to subvert rules even when their violation is obvious to the enforcer.

2) Construct an argument. Okay, you’ve got your reasons for making this rule, and here are my counterpoints to your argument (hopefully with evidentiary backup).

This particular example is a wonderful opportunity to hone such abilities, as neither the pro nor the con has any particular advantage by way of available studies or statistics on the matter. Much of the research leans towards dress codes and uniforms being a positive thing, but studies are thin and sometimes the results go in a different direction.

Terrifically useful life skills: Find and use evidence to support a position. Argue a point that cannot be definitively proven. See something wrong with your situation in life and do something about it.

There is, additionally, an important life lesson to learn: sometimes you gotta do shit you don’t wanna do. It’s part of being human.

In: OtherNo Comments

Thursday August 21st, 2014 02:10 I will say one thing about Michael Brown

I have heard a number of Very Serious People and seen innumerable internet bloviators repeat a particular thing about the Michael Brown case that really deserves a response. It’s all some derivation of:

‘I’ll bet that, when all the facts come in, we’ll see a much different picture of what happened than what the [insert racist code word or direct epithet, depending on commentator’s current forum (also accepted: Librul Media)] say happened.’

98929-oh-well-allow-me-to-retort-gif-jLE0

I’ll take your wager if you take mine: that when all the facts are presented, they will show that a police officer shot and killed an unarmed person.

Double or nothing that another cop will do the same thing, somewhere in this country, within a week of that incident.

I understand if you won’t accept the second part because, in fairness, I already won: Andrew Gaynier, August 10; Dillon Taylor, August 11; John Winkler, August 11; Ezell Ford, August 11; Armand Bennet, August 11 (technically, he didn’t die, but he was shot in the head, so A for effort).

Double or nothing again if you can resist the urge to comment on race and stick to the fact that it took me 2 minutes on Google to find the names of 5 unarmed people that were shot dead by the police in a matter of 48 hours, and perhaps we should be focusing on the systemic problem of cops using disproportionate deadly force – not the details of what happened minutes before the latest body dropped.

In: News, Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday July 28th, 2014 19:56 Mars Mission Now! (because I need to get outta here)

I try to avoid consecutive ‘minor thing that annoyed me’ posts, but I’ve been left with little choice today.

All you have to Google is the phrase “education system” in order to get a healthy helping of articles and studies about how ours sucks or other nations’ are better – quite true by the way. Thus, they say, the youth of today will be very noticeably dumber when they come of age.

But there is one thing missing in the discussion. I do believe this a cultural omission, as we are among those taught that our elders deserve respect and that they are imbued with the inherent wisdom of age (note: it is apparently fine and dandy to shit upon them financially, despite all that).

That missing piece is that old people can also be really stupid. The education system was supposedly better, but it’s not as if dumbasses magically sprang forth from the ground sometime around the mid-70s and started going at it like rabbits.

For example:

I stood in line for 10 full minutes at the drug store today. Why? Because the two twits at the counter took that long to return some dude’s money after he was overcharged for a bottle of Sparkling Ice.

While I was supremely impressed that anyone would wait that long to get back whatever pocket change might have been lost in this transaction – especially given that it required him to very publicly disclose that he’s the kind of incredible douchebag that drinks Sparkling Ice – it did little to calm my annoyance.

The brains of the outfit, stage right, stopped after each customer to spend an equal amount of time failing to help the brainiac on the left, eventually taking over after 4 attempts. Four.

Guess who I got when it was my turn.

Yes, the prodigy of purchases, scholar of scanning and bluestocking of buys: twit on the left.

In my hands, I held two boxes of popcorn. I placed them on the counter. They were scanned. Things were progressing nicely. But I was also there to buy smokes.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t be smoking. That’s not the fucking point. Contain yourself.

Before she read off the total, I said the following words: “I also need two Salem gold hundreds.”

The first thing out of her pie hole was “Marlboro?”

Things had taken a nasty turn.

I repeated the exact same phrase, but this time more slowly and as clearly as I can muster.

She repied “Salem?” and I believed that progress had been made. I began to get excited when movement was made and she arrived at the correct area of the wall behind the counter.

The immediate, pathetic, horrifically confused look that I then received, crushed that hope once again.

Still, at this point, we’ve only done slightly worse than other cashiers. Most of them force you to guide them to the thing you want because remembering what you just said three seconds ago and then reading the words printed on the front of the boxes to see if we can possibly find a matching set is too much to ask for.

I’m already pretty pissed off at this point, so something I knew would insult her intelligence just came flying out before I could censor myself: “It’s the light green box. The one in the middle.”

Aha. There was naught to insult.

She grabs the dark green box. I’m handicapping the odds that I can hop the counter and flay her before anyone has time to react.

I make it as absofuckinglutely simple as I can: “There are three light green boxes in that row. I want the one in the middle.”

I realized immediately that I hadn’t said it quite that much simpler. Then realized that it’s because that’s impossible at this point. She should have already stopped what she was doing and come over to slap me for treating her like a moron.

Then she grabs a silver box and I stop giving a shit altogether.

I reached into my pocket and retrieved the one I already had as a visual aid, saying: “This is light green.”

Fuck a duck, she figured it out without me having to draw even a single chart.

After first grabbing at one of the two light green boxes that were not in the middle.

trolledhard

The idea that our school system was better way back when is a myth. This person was probably in their mid-50s. Maybe a bit older. That puts schooling time somewhere around the late 60s. The education that one got back then is pretty much the same as a kid gets now. Unless they’re in Texas.

I’m just going to keep getting older, and that same idiot is always, always going to be there waiting for me.

And you.

So, who’s up for Mars?

In: OtherNo Comments

Whois

IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org