Unifi-ed

My old Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite died (well it was the second one that died), so I was out of proper routers. Using a spare/emergency Netgear freebie set as a stand-in just didn’t seem to cut it. I couldn’t reconfigure all my DHCP to my liking, I couldn’t get my routing nice, my VLANs, and I suspect it had some scanning turned on that made everything so laggy. Maybe I should have just turned off the scanning.

Continue reading “Unifi-ed”
Unifi-ed

Recommendation engines

https://threader.app/thread/1094359564559044610

https://youtube.googleblog.com/2019/01/continuing-our-work-to-improve.html

Having been on the Internet for much of the past decade and more, it’s been stunning to see how it has evolved. Yes it has, by a lot. The social media platforms, the YouTubes, the other big platforms, have grown and grown and grown into billions of viewers, billions of contributors, and trillions of pieces of content and even more metadata. 

The feel also changed, the feeds changed. It might seem like it was just the mix of people and the mix of content that has changed, but hey perhaps like the american elections and this guy has said, the recommendation engines are partly to blame. 

It’s crazy, isn’t it, that the recommendation algorithms, optimized for innocuous metrics to up engagement, watch time, retention time, repeatability and many more innocent concepts have and seem to promote undesirable material simply because the human mind just seems to love gossip, wild stories, imaginative news and the lure of tabloid content. There must be a reason tabloids and gossip does so well. Hah. It’s dangeous. 

I hope more people are able to distinguish between the truth and the fake, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal, but like our poor sad little human minds, it might be hard to escape the mental clutches of logical fallacies, dreams vs realities. 

Recommendation engines

QR

The rise/rebirth of QR codes is … surprising.

QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code

The surprising thing is that when the geeks and nerds tried to first introduce QR codes to the world, it was in the form of trying to reduce typing of super long URI paths into browsers and mobile phones. After all, typing is slow and painful when you got h t t p s : / / w w w . e x a m p l e . c o m / r a n d o m / m o r e r a n d o m / m o r e . p h p. Nobody gonna get that right.

But that never really properly took off. Too painful to use, still too much friction.  You never know what you’re scanning. It’s just scary and a bit too slow to scan still.

Then we had link shorteners like bitly, googl etc. Then we had NFC taps. 

But it’s surprising that QR codes came into fashion from a surprisingly unlikely source – China. China and their payment systems. 

What if, this is the death of mastercard and visa, like the deaths of diner and amex. If so much payments bypass them, if people no longer needed credit cards with visa and master on them, if people had new credit cards with other systems (yeah it’s actually different things!), and if people went with less credit, would our banking systems change so much, would shopping data change companies etc. 

What an interesting world.

QR

Can’t Help Falling In Love With You

A heart-aching, heart-wrenching, string-tugger of a song. Surprisingly I never knew it is was an Elvis Presley song, based on Plaisir d’amour [wiki]. 

The other day we heard a superbly slow version of this song, without the background drumset beat. It was, slow. So. heart. achingly. slow. In a good way.

I described it as “when you are hugging someone, in a long hug. and you’re kind of releasing, but the other person keeps on holding you tight. and you’re like ‘oh I guess you want to hug a little longer’. that’s the feeling here when the singer dwells just that bit longer on that note. the very significant small point where it crosses just into that bit of uncomfortably long.”

It’s not easy to describe or understand. But it’s just something you have to know and have felt to understand. 

Not many singers sing it so slow. But it’s quite amazing if you come across one.  YouTube

Can’t Help Falling In Love With You

Free

The World Wide Web / Internet is really actually quite new. Given that I’ve kinda grown up around the growth of the Internet from when it was a new curiosity, to now that it’s entered into all aspects of life and all population. 

It was a fun thing. You wrote a html page, you hosted it somewhere, it worked, people saw it, it was free or low cost, there wasn’t much control, or regulation, or privacy, or security, or discovery. It was just a fun thing that geeky people used to play with, connect with each other, and just use computers for. 

And then it grew. Into more and more useful things that we needed for more and more important things. Health, banking, email, payments, shopping, bookings, etc.

While many of them are extension of normal business models, paid purchases, transactions etc, the core of it, the hosting, the search, has almost always been totally free to the average user. For every paywalled site, there’s been a free open alternative, and it’s difficult to beat free. People will just gravitate towards it – free search, free portals, free social network sites, free email, free videos, free hosting. 

And in that low $0 price, came ads. Ads have been on the internet since forever – stupid old banner ads, silly 1 pixel ad, text ads, picture ads, pop-up ads (near eradicated like measles or something). Ads support so many of the big traditional Internet companies like Geocities, Yahoo, Google, etc. Those who don’t sell hardware or direct services, well it’s really hard to convince people to pay for things online, especially when free stuff works so well. The global state of things also brings challenges in collecting payments, and the intangible software-ness of virtual stuff also is hard to sell, and in tiny bits.

So we’ve had free. And it’s gradually coalesced in a few big companies as things often do, like many corporations and industries, not just online.

People worry whether it is too much, whether they should be broken up. After now the tech giants are really big on paper and financial markets, overlapping the oil&gas giants in market cap and possibly cash holdings.

The single basket risk of so many essential services being provided by a single company also makes it difficult to regulate or ban. 

But I think it will be dramatically problematic if we split them up? All those free ad-supported products will now need to find their own fully sustainable income, their own data streams. If Google were to split up, their top 10 billion user products all need to run their own business models – you would have to pay to use Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Translate, Google Drive, Android, Google Photos, Chrome, and possibly more. Anyway, either they will all run their own ad engines separate from Google Search, or you would need to pay $5-$100 per month for some of these services, each.

If you hesitate to pay the additional $2 or $10 per month for additional Google Drive / Photos / Gmail storage, what’s going to happen if you need to pay for all these separately?

Not to mention, many backend services like cloud storage, account security etc are shared across all these same-company products. Once split-up, they will need to separately reinvent the wheel going forward or pay someone else for the service. Those free 2FA smses might not be free any longer. 

News agencies have had their own battles against this. Free news, paid news, articles scraped by search engines, it’s thrown the traditional news companies into disarray, and I’m not sure they have gotten out of it.

Frankly the bitcoin and cryptocurrency thing runs in the same vein – decentralized ledgers, lower cost, putting control into different hands (preferably no hands), etc. Disruption of traditional models.

It gets harder when the disruption hits your fundamentals that you kinda need to keep constant or have trust in over your lifetime – wealth, purchasing power, identity, career, etc.

This liberation is like almost like going from a big built-up city in skyscraper and ancillary services, to wild free nomadic liberty in the woods. Free, wild, less constant, more crazy.

What will the world balance look like after the Internet is done with it? 

Free

new* maps and where maps is going

https://www.justinobeirne.com/new-apple-maps

Justin O’Berine – this amazing author who does pretty darn incredible comparisons and analysis of Apple Maps vs Google Maps, has just released another monster blog post with a gazillion comparison images and details on how a new version of Apple Maps released alongside iOS 12 (or something, I don’t track Apple numbers), has evolved differently, especially in California, USA. 

[It’s actually rather odd to think of it as a new version of maps because Apple does things in block releases, while Google is more on this eternal evolving single pane of glass, with ever updating Google Maps data, design and features. After all, it’s a product that doesn’t have any hardware release requirement. ]

So Justin O’Beirne remarked how Google Maps is going down a path where user location history, user current location, user preferences, and all that data is used to predict and customize maps displays, suggested places and many other navigational, directional and suggestion features. This is different from Apple’s approach where they are more on the anonymous user end and being more of a navigational tool. It’s amusing to see how Apple has worked so much on fixing greenery, 3D buildings. Probably looks nice but really how useful is that.

The hilarious part is that Justin pointed out one unique strong point of Google Maps over Apple, and that’s Google’s Local Guides program, where volunteers edit and correct map information all over the world. Millions of active volunteer users who are the best information source about their hometown and where they are at presently. The only other major crowdsourced map info is OpenStreetMaps, but that’s a little different in design. So with this, Google has markedly superior updated local information that is not bought from mapping providers, or algorithmically generated from satellite imagery. It might account for more accurate data points compared to Apple in POI data, and info within buildings etc. Maps data has historically depended majorly on buying map info, using satellite imagery, then using streetview(tm) cars. Now that HERE and Apple both have street cars, what else can they not catch up on? – Local Guides. Would Apple ever be able to get this community going? I highly doubt it, it’s just not the right culture and motivation.

He is right that Maps is becoming less of just a navigational tool and more of a destination in itself to discover places, suggest places, and a bigger community in itself. Almost like a different window or gateway to services. It makes great sense as physical location informs many choices, and after that all of Google’s great scope of business, pricing, photography, search, review, metadata, all come together to provide a great business listing. It’s fundamentally quite different from a Facebook page.

It’s nice to know that someone ought there noticed and attributed a strength of Google Maps to the Local Guides program and the other millions of ongoing or potential contributors out there. The Maps team is right to maintain and support this as there is a huge synergistic symbiosis here – better map data draws more users and features. 

Detractors believe that Google Maps is a proprietary database as compared to OpenStreetMap, but while OSM is a great free resource, it just isn’t as well integrated, convenient and well marketed as Google Maps in the eyes of basic end users. It’s like how you see a “rough” map loaded on your car built-in navigation or shopping mall display, and you just know it’s a less complete or detailed map than the Google Maps you are used to in your daily life. Sometimes the map you are very familiar with, is easier to navigate in.

I would not say Google Maps is perfect – it’s got so many darn problems and is weaker in transit than CityMapper, weaker in restaurant listings than websites/blogs/Yelp/Facebook, weaker in community than Facebook/Instagram, and often not catering enough for local markets. StreetView app is also horrendously slow buggy and tedious at submissions. 

But yeah, I still encourage everyone to start putting reviews into Google Maps, and then maybe photos, and before you know it you’ll find contributing addictive and fun.

Useful links:
www.localguidesconnect.com
follow @googlelocalguides on twitter or instagram
search for #localguides, or #singaporelocalguides, or #letsguide

new* maps and where maps is going

Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

[Cross-posting from Local Guides Connect forum as it’s hard to see stuff in there and it’s a bit more permanent here. Original post https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/Local-Guides-Connect-2018-Come-for-the-map-stay-for-the-people/m-p/1124999#M207918]

Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

Oh my, it’s been an exciting week at Local Guides Connect 2018. It’s my second time there, but it’s still super amazing, super exhilarating and really insightful.

Many other attendees have shared numerous joyful photos of the sharing and feedback sessions, vigorous Q&A, deep thoughtful discussions with individual Googlers, outdoor activities to get to know one another, and the incredible number of self organized chillout, partying and supper sessions.

As we look back at all the photos, we are stunned by how much happened within the blink of an eye as the few days sped by, and always wish we could have spoken to more people, attended more events, and taken more selfies.

All the repeat attendees like me try hard to share the same fun experience with the newcomers, organize some extra events to share more of the city, help others to prepare for Connect, and make it more fun for everyone. I hope we have managed to do this. It is part of our gratitude for being able to be here again. It is a family of friends that are a part of our lives now, including literally many families and new babies that have come to say hi.

Many people have also shared on their gratitude and appreciation towards the Googlers – the Local Guides team for organizing Connect and the community in general, and also the Maps product teams for flying out to talk to us (IRL!), share information with us, and taking our feedback. Here’s another +1 from me.

Google Maps and Local Guides are special.

Some things I observed during this year’s Connect made me think deeply about why Google Maps, and Local Guides, are so special.

Firstly, one thing I often hear from the Googlers is how fun the Local Guides Connect event and people are, when in comparison with some other Google events or communities! We are super boisterous and welcoming in all the events, overwhelming in energy, making friends so easily across language and culture differences, sharing stories, language, food, festivals, and spending every single waking minute hanging out with as many people as possible. All the Googlers are also drawn into it as if we are long time friends – you can see photos of many of them at our outside parties.

Secondly, during our small breakout sessions, I realized that fellow Local Guides really care very deeply about our contributions – the reviews, the star ratings, the photos, etc. We want these contributions to be truthful, authentic, and helpful to others. We do this out of an enjoyment in sharing our knowledge with others, and helping make the global maps a more useful tool for everyone. We use and contribute to Google Maps because we realize that we trust the data on it, and we want it to be as accurate as possible. There is an resolute and endearing sense of righteousness and integrity in the community that has never been surfaced or expressed so clearly before. If the Googlers were as surprised as me by this reaction, they sure hid it well.

One world one map

I think these wonderful traits were born out of what we set out to do – helping Google to make the information on maps accessible and useful. We all reach into our Google Map app, seeing the same map as what each other is seeing, the same big database no matter where we are in the world. With a flick of the finger we can be on the other side of the planet, with a search we can find any cafe in the world and see photos of the place. No boundaries or segregation. We cover restaurants, utilities, buildings, shops, markets, bus terminals, religious buildings, hiking trails, gas stations and everything under the sun, crossing all domains from daily living to food, essentials, transport, healthcare.

In Maps and Local Guides, we add our bit of knowledge in, and daily users do not know who has fixed the road or opening hours. Simply it is a better map for everyone and not for a nicer personal profile for us. This culture of sharing, and the interconnectedness of sharing the same map, is why we connect so well with each other. We have always been in this same map, just never face to face before.

It’s the people

After all the (countless) hours in our own phone app, we come to San Francisco and we meet all the other people who has almost unbelievably done the same as us – be equally obsessed about fixing data points and share so many of the same feelings about Maps as we did. They know all the parts of the app, share the frustrations on the same limitations, feel annoyed at getting their edits rejected(!), spend equally long taking photos of places (finally we don’t feel like a crazy person), fix every single place marker, and choose restaurants based on whether it has more than 4.8 stars average. Through this trial of blood, sweat and tears, we still persist.

After two days of making friends, we also suddenly realize that this humble and friendly person beside us has a mind-blowing number of edits, or photo uploads, or video uploads etc. You feel comforted that you’re not crazy for uploading the menu photo of restaurants, and also encouraged that level 10 is possible! None of us worry whether you have level 7, 8, 9 or 10, but my gosh “how did you do that”, and you have a feeling that all these map edits in all countries are done by real life people like you and me. That review describing a delicious milkshake or overpriced burger is written by someone who cared about their experience, and this person is real and standing in front of you.

These new lifelong friends share a strong passion for finding new places to eat, visiting new hiking trails, and travelling to new places. That’s why we are such a fun and immersive group of people, that’s why Local Guides is different from other communities. Connect is fun because of the impressive culture and people, kudos to Google for arranging this. I always tell first time attendees: try to extend your travel and spend more days with the other folks, the golden gate bridge will be still standing next year, but these 150 people will be present together in the same city on the same days for only this one time in your life.

A toast to all you crazy ones out there.

Come for the map, stay for the people. See you all again in streetview* and round the corner.


Local Guides at the top of the world. feat Jens, Pedi and Julien

(*with all the new 360 cameras, I am sure there will be a massive boost in 360 photos, hopefully with not too many of our blurred out hands and faces in it.)

#localguides #letsguide #localguidesconnect #comeforthemapstayforthepeople #allthecrazyones

Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

好心分手

人老了吗?年龄就被歌曲露出了吗?爱上自己的歌。也罢了。

如果有一天,会学上广东语,也只可能会是应为这首歌。可惜现在也很久很久没听了。嗨。

————-
王力宏

好心分手
作词:黄伟文
作曲:雷颂德

(女):是否很惊讶 讲不出说话 没错我是说 你想分手吗
曾给你驯服到 就像绵羊 何解会反咬你一下 你知吗

(男):也许该反省 不应再说话 被放弃的我 应有此报吗
如果我曾是个坏牧羊人 能否再让我 试一下 抱一下

(女):回头望 伴你走 从来未曾幸福过
(男):恨太多 没结果 往事重提是折磨
(女):下半生 陪住你 怀疑快乐也不多
(男):被我伤 让你痛

(女):好心一早放开我 重头努力也坎坷 统统不要好过
(男):为何唱着这首歌 为怨恨而分手 问你是否原谅我
(女):若注定有一点苦楚 不如自己亲手割破
(男):回头吧 不要走 不要这样离开我
恨太多 没结果 往事重提是折磨

(女):下半生 陪住你 怀疑快乐也不多
没有心 别再拖 好心一早放开我 重头努力也坎坷
统统不要再好过
(男):为何唱着这首歌 为怨恨而分手 问你是否原谅我

(女):若勉强也分到不多 不如什么也摔破
(男):好心分手 每天播
(女):可知歌者也奈何

(女):难行就无谓再拖 好心一早放开我 重头努力也坎坷
统统不要好过
(男):为何唱着这首歌 为怨恨而分手 问你是否原谅我
(女):若注定有一点苦楚 不如自己亲手割破

好心分手