2017-11-17

Olympic Sports

Olympic Sports

Walk racing? - as I understand it, this is a race where the participants must always have one foot touching the ground. Is there actually a reason to determine who can travel a distance the fastest while always touching the ground? Seriously?

There is a classic joke about running. Let's see how it translates into walking. Two hikers are walking through the woods and stumble upon a large bear looking hungrily back at them. Already well shod in walking shoes, the first starts walking away. The second says "Why bother? You can't out-walk that bear." The first replies "I don't have to out-walk the bear, I just have to out-walk you."

Swimming - I understand why you might have a race to see who can travel a certain distance in the water in the shortest time. But why is the stroke that you use important? The freestyle races, as I understand it, do not limit the stroke, and the result is that everyone uses the front crawl. To me, these are the only races that matter.

Shot put - again why is it important how you throw the thing? Throw it any way you like and see who can throw it the farthest.

Veledrome one on one bicycle races - I haven't watched them in a long time because they are so stupid, so maybe this has changed. Aerodynamics are so important that it is much preferred to be behind the leader so that you can "slingshot" ahead just before the end. So the cyclists stand around doing nothing or moving very slowly at the start until one thinks they have an advantage. Why not start on opposite sides of the track?

Table Tennis - I loved playing table tennis when I could do it without pain. I was terrible at it - poor hand/eye coordination, slow reaction time. And I was worse in tournaments - I fall apart in competition. Starting around 1970, I think, the game changed due to innovative paddle surfaces - tacky for incredible spin, slick to not impart spin, everything in between, and long pips for unpredictable spin. It became a game of deception that I couldn't even begin to handle. In tennis, facing a pro's serves, I would be lucky to not end up in the hospital, being unable to get my racket up in time to protect my body. But at least I could predict the trajectory of the ball after I had watched it get to the net. Table tennis, the ball gets to the net then hits the table, I have no idea where it's going, and if I manage to get my paddle on it, I have no idea where the ball is going next. I don't know how, but it needs to be fixed.

High jump - these athletes amaze me. Clearing a bar eight feet high. That's one or two feet above the top your head. Incredible. At my peak physical condition, I could probably have cleared four feet. But of also of interest, no one tells you how to jump. Why don't they have separate events for belly up or back up? Because that would be stupid.

Other track and field athletes are amazing too. For example, the pole vault adds a pole and balance skill. Long jumping is good, but just doesn't impress me like high jumping. Running is a great sport but most of the running events take a while to watch - I have a pretty short attention span. (Why doesn't each running event have four different running styles, freestyle, running backward, one legged, and sideways?)

Judged sports - gymnastics, figure skating, diving, a lot more that I can't think of, can be beautiful and fun to watch. But the winner is chosen by the judges, not by a true technical measurement. I know that the judges have technical points to score. But the fact that they end up with different scores means that the score is not accurate. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

How many different kinds of wrestling and one on one fighting are there at the Olympics - a lot, as I recall. If you have to limit how you can fight, it's not a real fight. Put two people in a ring and let it go until one gives up (or can't get up).

Of course most of the participants are impressive athletes. But if you want to show me that you are a world class athlete, then participate in a sport that has the best athletes. Basketball or track, not race walking, ice skate racing, diving. Well, I still won't really care, it's just entertainment and advertising.

The opening and closing ceremonies - is there anything more boring than these ceremonies? Perhaps they could score each country's participation for boredom and give out three more medals.

2017-11-09

Yahoo and Facebook

Yahoo and Facebook

YAHOO

I am stunned. Every weekday for many years, I would go to Yahoo Finance, bring up a list of investments, export the end of day quotes to a CSV file (spreadsheet), copy it into a personal spreadsheet and display the current value of my assets.

But now Yahoo has deleted the export function. Why? Because people used it - "It has come to our attention that this service is being used in violation of the Yahoo Terms of Service. As such, the service is being discontinued." I thought I would explain to them that this is a unique and useful service. I have found no other company that offers this function. But I cannot find any feedback mechanism to explain this to Yahoo (I don't think this blog counts).

Incidentally, Yahoo, if you are wondering why business is bad, "Yahoo" is the dumbest web name that I have ever encountered. Look up the definition - "a boorish, crass, or stupid person".

FACEBOOK

Facebook for the desktop is an ergonomic nightmare.

"Return" ("Enter") is almost universally used for "new line" in editing text. But when writing a note on Facebook, it immediately sends the note. Facebook, are you trying to get me to embarrass myself by sending unfinished notes? Could you give me the option to turn this absurdity off.

Why can't I easily view hidden comments on discussions? You tell me how many new comments there are, but there is no way to view them without carefully showing every hidden section. Give me a button that displays an entire thread.

Hover windows - I'm reading a comment and the cursor happens to be on a name or picture. A couple of seconds later a window opens with information about that person. ON TOP of what I'm reading. This is ANNOYING. Why can't I turn it off?

Why can't I move the desktop messenger window? It covers things that I'm trying to read.

For a public group, why is a pinned post not displayed on a phone? If you need a post pinned to the top of a group, it needs to be there for everyone, not just the people on desktop computers.

Facebook sent me this notification not long ago - "Your new notifications are now sorted to help you see what's most important to you." Upon clicking on "Learn more" - "These notifications are listed by how relevant we think they are to you, so they may appear to be out of order." You think you know more about what is relevant to me than I do?

What is the difference between a Page and a Group? I don't know. I don't care. Why don't you have a "Organization" page that people can configure to their needs?

Why does Facebook block me from getting Facebook messages on my phone via my browser? And why does it no longer include the message text in the email notification. The Facebook Messenger app is ANNOYING - I will not keep it on my phone.

"Good afternoon, Cary!" - why do I care if Facebook wishes me a good afternoon? Why can't I turn this off?

AT LAST (October 2017) - instead of "Works at Retired", it says "Retired". "Works at Retired" had annoyed me for a year and a half.

Upon proofreading the above, I noticed a trend. I seem to be easily annoyed. Or maybe Facebook's software really is awful. Do the software engineers use this software? Perhaps they have their own special version and like to inflict pain on the rest of the world.

2017-11-03

Sports

Some of the rules of various mainstream sports are just dumb.

Free throws in basketball. So you get fouled - why are you forced to take a free throw? Why not give the fouled team the option to just keep the ball? This would cut out all of the ridiculous end of game stop the clock and force a free throw nonsense.

Golf - why do you get to have a different club for every situation. Let the golfers show their skill by being limited to five clubs. Or maybe use all the clubs you want but you have to carry (not cart) them yourself.

Tennis - the serve is an overwhelming advantage. Why do you get two chances at each serve? If the server only had one chance then much of the advantage would go away.

Soccer - how is it a contest if no one can score? Increase the goal size until scoring becomes a regular event. Then you will see who is consistently better at scoring. It's not about boredom, although this would help. It's about measuring skill. How have you measured skill if the vast majority of the drives end with nothing? One team could get 10 good shots at the goal, the other never able to cross midfield - score 0 to 0, a tie - huh? Same game but the goal is two feet wider - score maybe 5 to 0 - now the score reflects the game.

Hockey - I'm pretty sure that hockey is just soccer on ice with sticks. Same fix applies.

American football - if you throw the ball down the field and don't catch it, why should you get to keep the ball? Seems to me that a pass should be the same as a fumble. Go ahead and throw the ball - if no one catches it, it is up for grabs. That gets rid of a lot of judgment calls by the refs and it makes a lot more sense to me.

Baseball - I haven't figured out how to make baseball any less boring. But reducing the number of games in a season would make each game much more of an event.

Tie games - choosing winners in a tie game - what a mess. Long overtimes, endless overtimes, changes to the concept of the game. Two soccer teams play to a tie. Then the winner is chosen by kickoff? What does that have to do with the game?

My suggestion is that you start the game with the tiebreaker, integrated into the game.

For timed games (basketball, football, etc.), if you score first in a game, and that game ends with a tie score, you win. No overtime. Not only is it simple, the team that is behind knows exactly what it needs to do to win.

Golf - the first person to take the lead at the end of any hole owns the tie breaker.

This might even be interesting in chess - the first person to take a piece that is not followed on the next move by the opponent taking a piece owns the stalemate breaker (a new strategy would be to take the first piece even if it gives you a disadvantage, then play for the stalemate).

Baseball, the first team that has a lead at the end of an inning owns the tie breaker.

Maybe a lot of this wouldn't help anything, but to me, at least it would help the rules make sense.

2017-10-27

Cars

I want a car with all of the modern safety features - pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning. And luxury features - adaptive cruise control, automatic bright lights, electric seat adjustment, heated seats, leather wrapped steering wheel.

BUT -

I will not buy a car with a sunroof/moonroof. Every sunroof that I have owned has either leaked or rattled (Volvo, Acura, BMW, Honda). They take up an inch or more of headroom and add, as I recall, about fifty pounds at the worst possible location (for center of gravity). Yours doesn't leak? - wait until the drain clogs. Then they will need to remove the carpet to dry it out or risk permanent mildew. Then they will have to avoid oil spots on the carpet and get it back in correctly. Good luck. I won't be taking that chance.

Leather seats? - no thanks. They are hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and slippery. You can add a seat heater which does NOT solve the cold problem because it turns on after you sit down. You can add a seat ventilator which does NOT solve the heat problem because it turns on after you sit down. And worse, if the manufacturer decides to save money by heating the seats via the ventilator, the heating becomes useless - slow to turn on and not hot. I will not buy a car with leather seats. (Of course vinyl is essentially bad quality leather.)

Cars need ground clearance. I will not buy a car that scrapes speed bumps and driveway ramps and bottoms out on common potholes. Five inches minimum - six inches if I can get it.

A touch screen is a TERRIBLE user interface in a car. There is no tactile feedback. And with the typical small touchscreen buttons and vibration induced positional error, they take way too much visual attention and are way too easy to miss.

I hate gas stations. Give me a BIG gas tank.

Why can't you cool the car when it's parked in the sun. Heat rejecting glass might help, but it doesn't fix the problem. Why not have a fan to keep the interior cool?

I want a bumper on the front of the car. Don't give me an ugly grill that has no protective value.

When are we going to get a U-TURN signal on cars? More and more roads require u-turns to get where you want to go. And the u-turner has the right of way over a right turn on red across the street. But you can't signal a u-turn so you often get cut off from your turn.

And stop with the UGLY styling. I don't care how "bold" the styling is. I have to look at my car several times every day as I approach it to get in. I don't want to think "God that's ugly" every time - it puts me in a bad mood. And I don't care if all of your cars look the same or distinct. I want pretty. I want to think "that's a nice design" and get in feeling happy.

And NEW CAR STINK is NOT good. It is noxious and offensive. (I leave my new cars in the sun to heat the interior and bake out the new car smell as quickly as possible.)

What is the point of fog lights? I have never found them useful, even in fog. What a waste.

What happened to door ding strips? I don't like door dings - give me some protection.

I don't know if this is a common issue - it is on my 2012 Camry. When it's cold outside, the ventilation pipe, underneath the center cup holders and storage bin, heats anything above, ruining cold drinks and cooking anything in the bin. How about some insulation?

Again with my 2012 Camry - random mode for a collection of songs should not mean choose a song at random from the folder. It should mean sort the songs in a random order. There is a big difference. After I've heard half the songs, over half the time I'm getting a repeat song.

I have now given up on Volkswagen, Honda, Acura, Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo because, after buying one or two cars that were okay, they decided to stop making anything that I want (this covers 38 years of owning cars). Volkswagen - no more Scirocco, terrible reliability. Honda - no more CRX. Acura - no more Integra, horrible option choices. BMW - rain leaks, no ground clearance, attractive cars replaced with ugly. Volvo - no more S40, limited options.

I understand that I'm outside of the mainstream. Some companies used to market to niches. Why no more?

Does ANYONE want my business?

2017-10-20

About Me

For information about me see

www.ravitz.us
www.facebook.com/cary.ravitz

Cary Ravitz

Smartphones

Dear smartphone makers - DO YOU USE YOUR PHONES? They are getting worse and worse with every new model.

I use my phone, a Google Nexus 5X, for, in order of usage -
  • ebooks
  • portable music player - organized by folders, MP3s from CDs and Amazon, always with Apple wired earphones
  • phone calls - almost always with Apple wired earphones
  • calendar - synced to my Google calendar
  • portable email
  • text messaging
  • navigation
  • camera, calculator, news, stock market, etc.
HOW ARE THEY GETTING WORSE?

"Bezel-less" screens - How am I supposed to hold the phone without touching the screen if the screen goes all the way to the edge of the phone, or worse, curves around the edge? I need a border that is not an active part of the user interface - bottom and both sides.

Curved screen - Rounded edge screens do not handle screen covers well and screen covers have saved my screen many times.

No headphone jack - I prefer a headphone jack, but if you don't have one I can use the USB port - IF it is offset to the side so that I can plug in the headphones while the phone is in my (horizontal) belt case. If the USB port is centered, the phone won't sit in the case.

Voice assistants - The first thing I do when I get a new phone is turn off the voice assistant. I don't mind if you include them, but don't think they are a selling point, and don't make it hard to shut them off.

Odd interfaces such as squeeze - I don't want more interface mechanisms - buttons work. By button, I mean touch screen and physical. I don't want gestures - buttons work. I don't want phone motion moves - buttons work. I don't want pressure sensitive buttons - ordinary buttons work. Finger sliding scrolling is useful. Pinch/spread zoom is useful, especially when the web page hasn't disabled it. That's it.

Backlit LCD screens - these do not allow "always on" display of time, date. While they handle normal duties well enough, an always on display is a step forward. So don't think you're at the forefront of smartphones with a backlit LCD screen.

Android - why can't you set a mode where the notification line and bottom menu line are always shown and the apps must fit in the rest of the screen. (This would be a very good use of the new 2:1 ratio displays.)

Split screen, Android 8 insets - useless and annoying.

THEN YOU FAIL TO FIX PROBLEMS.

Volume - Some phone calls are too loud even when the volume is at minimum. Why is the volume range so limited?

White backgrounds are often too bright. Why can't I set a reasonable brightness level without turning off automatic brightness control?

Glossy screens have a terrible reflection problem. After market matte screen covers, in my experience, destroy the screen resolution. Why won't you spend a bit of effort to fix this with an anti-reflective coating or a high resolution matte surface. Matte screen colors aren't as saturated as glossy screens? That's true IF there is no reflection from overhead light - when does that happen?

Android 7+ - You killed all of the apps that turn off the display. The screen turns off but the fingerprint restart fails. It's still not working right in Android 8.

Android - why does Android preload useless apps. If you think it's useful to preload apps - ask me which apps are useful.

Every alarm clock and countdown timer app should have options to ramp up the alarm volume and automatically shut off the alarm after a specified time.

We need to be able to back off to a previous version of an app. All too often new versions of apps and operating systems break important function. But we are stuck with the new version.

Google Maps - the window size when navigating needs to be adjustable. It's so small that you have no clue where in the trip you are. How hard can it be to let the user specify a default size - miles, or percent of trip, or the rest of the trip would be useful.

Google Maps - alternate routes on the phone app are useless. On the desktop they can be adjusted. On the phone you just choose between bad alternates.

Google Maps - how about letting me optimize routes by: prefer interstate highways; prefer four (or more) lane roads; minimize stoplights; minimize turns. This would be a much better use of "artificial intelligence" than voice assistants.

Google Maps - how about letting me pause when I want to take a small break - gas, food, rest?

iPhone music - the last time I used iTunes, 2013 I think, it was on Windows and it was a horrible experience. But I only needed it for one thing - transfer MP3 music to my phone. Now that I use Linux, as I understand it, there is no iTunes, so an iPhone is not even an option for me. Why can't you fix this trivial issue? Let me download a file to the music folder.

Music players - music levels between songs don't always match. Why can't I set a volume bump for each song? I'm constantly adjusting the volume when listening to tune collections. Why is something so fundamental to music ignored while gimmicky features such as album covers and light shows are included?

SO WHY SHOULD I BUY A NEW PHONE? WHAT HAS IMPROVED?