Provider

She was half-heartedly poking at the keyboard when the car started to move. Oh. “I guess I’m rolling. Coverage is sketch here so I might cut out.”

“Oh my God. You’re still shielding her? I thought we paid you better than that.” His voice lifted when he disapproved. She rolled her eyes. “Her husband gives me six bucks a mile. She probably just wants ice cream or fries or something.”

She didn’t mention the time when it wasn’t just ice cream or fries, but shopping down in the Long Beach Autonomous Zone. That had covered her rent for two months. There aren’t good drugs in Little Utah, though, and she had been bored out of her mind, barely leaving the car. He was still pissy that she’d left without telling him first. She didn’t care. They chose her more often because she was willing to roll on a moment’s notice.

“I worry, you know.” His tone softened. He probably did worry. “I know. You shouldn’t. Nothing ever happens. As long as a rock doesn’t fall on the highway or something, it’s free money.” If it did, well, that would be different. As coordinated with the AIs steering the cars around them, her own would wedge its way between the road hazard and the cargo she was protecting, absorbing the damage so that her employer’s car didn’t have to. US West law didn’t allow hiring unoccupied vehicles, so she hung out and napped her way through riding shotgun. Lots of shields walked away from events. Sometimes they didn’t. For six bucks a mile, she was ready to take that chance.

“Look, I’ve gotta go. I need more insulin and they pay up hourly. I wanna top off my playlist while I still have data. I’ll hit you up when I get back.”

“If. If you get back.”

“When,” her voice shaking. She didn’t have time for this.

America’s military versus the world

I am pro-military. I think having a strong military means we’re unlikely to have to use it to protect ourselves. But how strong does it actually need to be?

For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that spending corresponds to strength. That is, America spending $1 million gives us roughly as much military power as China or Russia spending $1 million. If this is not true, then we’re spending money poorly and should re-evaluate our budget before increasing it. But that whole line of argument frankly disrespects our world’s finest soldiers and sailors, so let’s agree to set that aside for now.

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Search-proof your devices when traveling

Over-eager airport security has recently taken to making travelers unlock their phones and tables for examination. This is both unforgivably invasive and trivially easy to defeat. Here’s how to protect your data1 on your iPhone or iPad2 when traveling.

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Rebooting

I started this blog twelve years ago. I always meant to update it regularly, but… life intervenes. After recently coming back to it, I decided it was due for a good cleaning. There were lots of old articles about things I no longer care about but that people on the Internet keep visiting and linking to. I kept them. But there were also a lot of opinion pieces that I no longer agree with. Their disposition was a harder decision. The possibility of deleting them felt dishonest, like I was denying ever holding those beliefs. Conversely, this blog isn’t a diary (I have a separate one of those) or a public record (I just write stuff every now and then).

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Migrating off Evernote

In late 2016, Evernote updated their privacy policy to explicitly grant their employees the right to view your personal information. In their own words:

And please note that you cannot opt out of employees looking at your content for other reasons stated in our Privacy Policy (under the section, “Does Evernote Share My Personal Information or Content?”).

This is unacceptable for most of the things you’d want to use a note taking application for, and I believe that makes it wholly unfit for any kind of business or private use. The good news is that there are viable alternatives now. These are the options I particularly like:

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Electronics Kit for my Kids

Cory Doctorow mentioned that Elenco makes a perfect copy of the Radio Shack 200-in-One electronics kit. I hadn’t read to the end of his article before I’d placed an order.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this kit pushed me into my career. I got the original Radio Shack version for Christmas one year when I was a kid, and on rainy days I’d work my way through the book of kid-friendly projects. Even though I usually didn’t understand how they worked, I got brave enough to test ideas like “I wonder if I could wire a light bulb into this section and have it still work?” and “what happens if I replace this with a smaller resistor?” I didn’t know what ohms or farads were, but got an intuitive feel for which parts did what. I lost any fear of experimenting and that willingness to try new things has served me well.

I don’t know if my kids will love this little kit as much as I did. I’m not going to push it – that’s for them to decide. However, a part of me hopes they have even half the fun I got from it.