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This teacher had to tell her deaf students that people can hear farts. Their reaction was hilarious.

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Anna Trupiano is a first-grade teacher at a school that serves deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students from birth through eighth grade.

In addition to teaching the usual subjects, Trupiano is charged with helping her students thrive in a society that doesn’t do enough to cater to the needs of the hard-of-hearing.

Recently, Trupiano had to teach her students about a rather personal topic: passing gas in public.

A six-year-old child farted so loud in class that some of their classmates began to laugh. The child was surprised by their reaction because they didn’t know farts make a sound. This created a wonderful and funny teaching moment for Trupiano.

Trupiano shared the conversation on Facebook.

Puzzle Montage Art by Tim Klein

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Iron Horse, by Tim Klein

Jigsaw puzzle companies tend to use the same cut patterns for multiple puzzles. This makes the pieces interchangeable, and I sometimes find that I can combine portions from two or more puzzles to make a surreal picture that the publisher never imagined. I take great pleasure in “discovering” such bizarre images lying latent, sometimes for decades, within the pieces of ordinary mass-produced puzzles.

How My Stupid Bloody Name Finally Paid For Itself

Since changing my surname 11½ years ago to the frankly-silly (albeit very “me”) Q, I’ve faced all kinds of problems, from computer systems that don’t accept my name to a mocking from the Passport Office to getting banned from Facebook. I soon learned to work-around systems that insisted that surnames were at least two characters in length. This is a problem which exists mostly because programmers don’t understand how names work in the real world (or titles, for that matter, as I’ve also discovered).

It’s always been a bit of an inconvenience to have to do these things, but it’s never been a terrible burden: even when I fly internationally – which is probably the hardest part of having my name – I’ve learned the tricks I need to minimise how often I’m selected for an excessive amount of unwanted “special treatment”.

Airport
I plan to make my first trip to the USA since my name change, next year. Place bets now on how that’ll go.

This year, though, for the very first time, my (stupid bloody) unusual name paid for itself. And not just in the trivial ways I’m used to, like being able to spot my badge instantly on the registration table at conferences I go to or being able to fill out paper forms way faster than normal people. I mean in a concrete, financially-measurable way. Wanna hear?

So: I’ve a routine of checking my credit report with the major credit reference agencies every few years. I’ve been doing so since long before doing so became free (thanks GDPR); long even before I changed my name: it just feels like good personal data housekeeping, and it’s interesting to see what shows up.

Message to Equifax asking them to correct the details on my Credit Report.
It started out with the electoral roll. How did it end up like this? It was only the electoral roll. It was only the electoral roll.

And so I noticed that my credit report with Equifax said that I wasn’t on the electoral roll. Which I clearly am. Given that my credit report’s pretty glowing, I wasn’t too worried, but I thought I’d drop them an email and ask them to get it fixed: after all, sometimes lenders take this kind of thing into account. I wasn’t in any hurry, but then, it seems: neither were they –

  • 2 February 2016 – I originally contacted them
  • 18 February 2016 – they emailed to say that they were looking into it and that it was taking a while
  • 22 February 2016 – they emailed to say that they were still looking into it
  • 13 July 2016 – they emailed to say that they were still looking into it (which was a bit of a surprise, because after so long I’d almost forgotten that I’d even asked)
  • 14 July 2016 – they marked the issue as “closed”… wait, what?
Equifax close my request
Given that all they’d done for six months was email me occasionally to say that it was taking a while, it was a little insulting to then be told they’d solved it.

I wasn’t in a hurry, and 2017 was a bit of a crazy year for me (for Equifax too, as it happens), so I ignored it for a bit, and then picked up the trail right after the GDPR came into force. After all, they were storing personal information about me which was demonstrably incorrect and, continued to store and process it even after they’d been told that it was incorrect (it’d have been a violation of principle 4 of the DPA 1998, too, but the GDPR‘s got bigger teeth: if you’re going to sick the law on somebody, it’s better that it has bark and bite).

My message instructing Equifax to fix their damn data about me.
Throwing the book tip-of-the-day: don’t threaten, just explain what you require and under what legal basis you’re able to do so. Let lawyers do the tough stuff.

My anticipation was that my message of 13 July 2018 would get them to sit up and fix the issue. I’d assumed that it was probably related to my unusual name and that bugs in their software were preventing them from joining-the-dots between my credit report and the Electoral Roll. I’d also assumed that this nudge would have them either fix their software… or failing that, manually fix my data: that can’t be too hard, can it?

Apparently it can:

Equifax suggest that I change my name ON THE ELECTORAL ROLL to match my credit report, rather than the other way around.
You want me to make it my problem, Equifax, and you want me to change my name on the Electoral Roll to match the incorrect name you use to refer to me in your systems?

Equifax’s suggested solution to the problem on my credit report? Change my name on the Electoral Roll to match the (incorrect) name they store in their systems (to work around a limitation that prevents them from entering single-character surnames)!

At this point, they turned my send-a-complaint-once-every-few-years project into a a full blown rage. It’s one thing if you need me to be understanding of the time it can take to fix the problems in your computer systems – I routinely develop software for large and bureaucratic organisations, I know the drill! – but telling me that your bugs are my problems and telling me that I should lie to the government to work around them definitely isn’t okay.

Actually, Equifax: no. No no no no no. No.
Dear Equifax: No. No no no. No. Also, no. Now try again. Love Dan.

At this point, I was still expecting them to just fix the problem: if not the underlying technical issue then instead just hack a correction into my report. But clearly they considered this, worked out what it’d cost them to do so, and decided that it was probably cheaper to negotiate with me to pay me to go away.

Which it was.

This week, I accepted a three-figure sum from Equifax as compensation for the inconvenience of the problem with my credit report (which now also has a note of correction, not that my alleged absence from the Electoral Roll has ever caused my otherwise-fine report any trouble in the past anyway). Curiously, they didn’t attach any strings to the deal, such as not courting publicity, so it’s perfectly okay for me to tell you about the experience. Maybe you know somebody who’s similarly afflicted: that their “unusual” name means that a credit reference company can’t accurately report on all of their data. If so, perhaps you’d like to suggest that they take a look at their credit report too… just saying.

Cash!
You can pay for me to go away, but it takes more for me to shut up. (A lesson my parents learned early on.)

Apparently Equifax think it’s cheaper to pay each individual they annoy than it is to fix their database problems. I’ll bet that, in the long run, that isn’t true. But in the meantime, if they want to fund my recent trip to Cornwall, that’s fine by me.

The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”

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A few nights ago I saw Jack White in concert. It was a wonderful night, and a big part of that was due to a new rule he has imposed on all his tour dates: no phones.

When you arrive, you have to put your phone into a neoprene pouch, supplied by a company called Yondr, which they lock and give back to you. If you want to use your phone during the show, you can go into the concourse and unlock it by touching it to one of several unlocking bases. The concert area itself remains screen-free.

The effect was immediately noticeable upon entering the concert bowl. Aside from the time-travel-like strangeness of seeing a crowd devoid of blue screens, there was a palpable sense of engagement, as though—and it sounds so strange to say it—everyone came just so they could be there.

The most-significant observation in this article, in my mind, was that even putting a 20-second delay to people using their phones – that is, having to walk out to the concourse to unlock their bags – was sufficient to dramatically remove the temptation for their use. That’s amazing, but unsurprising: Veritasium recently did a video about boredom and how the desire to avoid ever feeling bored (despite its scientifically-demonstrable benefits), coupled with the easy access of instant stimulation from our smart devices, leads us into the well-known check phone, replace, check again cycle (or else “zombie smartphoning”).

I’ve been trying to be better about paying less-attention to my phone, this year, and it’s gone well… except that (as David also observes in the linked article) I’ve become more acutely aware of the feeling of the conversational/interpersonal “void” created when somebody else chances a “quick check” of their phone under the table. I used to blame social media mostly for this – and I still think that it’s an issue, and it’s certainly true that my Facebook/Twitter/Reddit-heavier-using friends are the biggest culprits for getting lost in their devices – but I’ve come to see it as a bigger, more-human issue, coupled with the availability of the new technologies around us.

Similar to how we eat too much fat, and sugar, and meat… simply because it’s available, we crave the stimulation that we can easily get from the device in our pocket to such an extent that we’ve become unhealthy in our habits.

Dan Q found GC1TYZW Gordano services Motorway Mayhem M5 J19

This checkin to GC1TYZW Gordano services Motorway Mayhem M5 J19 reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Stopped on the way back from Penzance to Oxford after a weekend in geocaching and geocaching-like activities, including introducing my partner’s brother to the sport while putting him through an adventure weekend I called Challenge Robin II. After the interminable A30 and a miserably rainy M5 I was pleased for the excuse to stop she stretch my legs, and doubly pleased when I discovered that there was a geocache in the vicinity.

No litter on the path, which was nice. Close to the GZ I soon spotted a geotrail and quickly had the container in my hand. TFTC!

Map of 51.478623,-2.705319

Push without notifications

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On the first day of Indie Web Camp Berlin, I led a session on going offline with service workers. This covered all the usual use-cases: pre-caching; custom offline pages; saving pages for offline reading.

But on the second day, Sebastiaan spent a fair bit of time investigating a more complex use of service workers with the Push API.

While I’m very unwilling to grant permission to be interrupted by intrusive notifications, I’d be more than willing to grant permission to allow a website to silently cache timely content in the background. It would be a more calm technology.

Then when I’m on a plane, or in the subway, or in any other situation without a network connection, I could still visit these websites and get content that’s fresh to me. It’s kind of like background sync in reverse.

Yes, yes, yes.The Push API’s got incredible potential for precaching, or even re-caching existing content. How about if you could always instantly open my web site, whether you were on or off-line, and know that you’d always be able to read the front page and most-recent articles. You should be able to opt-in to “hot” push notifications if that’s what you really want, but there should be no requirement to do so.

By the time you’re using the Push API for things like this, why not go a step further? How about PWA feed readers or email clients that use web-pushes to keep your Inbox full? What about social network clients that always load instantly with the latest content? Or even analytics packages to push your latest stats to your device? Or turn-based online games that push the latest game state, ready for you to make your next move (which can be cached offline and pushed back when online)?

There are so many potential uses for “quiet” pushing, and now I’m itching for an opportunity to have a play with them.

Dan Q found GC43B3D HR1 – Mr Rusty

This checkin to GC43B3D HR1 - Mr Rusty reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Between the coordinates and the title we were very soon hunting in the right location, but it took the combination of my sharp eyes and my geobuddy Robin’s hardy fingers to extract this cache from its tight and thorny home. Good location, and a fabulous hide.

Thanks for sharing this great series with us; we may not have done the whole thing (and didn’t do ANY of it in the approved order) but we enjoyed it very much. TFTCes!

Map of 50.126383,-5.411217

Dan Q found GC43B36 HR2 – Round the Bend

This checkin to GC43B36 HR2 - Round the Bend reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Funny: I’ve manufactured a cache container similar to this once, too, but for a very-different (and distinctly more-urban) environment (GC54F7V): seems like a bit of a strange design for a rural setting! My geo-sense spotted the hiding place right away but Robin struggled for a bit with this unusual container: he was determined to get “inside” it in some other way than the correct way, e.g. by poking, swinging, bashing, or blowing. It’s my fault, really: some of the Challenge Robin puzzle boxes were pretty devious and involved exactly that kind of manipulation to get at their contents, yesterday.

Soon, I suggested the correct way to open the container and all was well. Great location; TFTC.

Map of 50.12605,-5.407217

Dan Q found GC4N9P4 HR4 – On the Road Again

This checkin to GC4N9P4 HR4 - On the Road Again reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Again, we found ourselves reminded that we were doing this series backwards when we briefly puzzled over the title of this cache… before remembering that for others, taking the series in the expected order, they would be getting onto (rather than off, like us) the road at this point. We briefly overshot the GZ but Robin – his geo-sense really coming into its own now and flushed with success after his good showing at GC4HW6W – quickly spotted the “obvious” hiding place for this cache and retreived it.

Done heading East, we were glad to be able to turn to the North-West and start heading back to our accomodation, where snacks and a hot tub awaited.

Map of 50.123567,-5.401433

Dan Q found GC4HW6W HR5 – Vandervalk

This checkin to GC4HW6W HR5 - Vandervalk reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Robin’s first experience of a container like this one (combined with my GPSr, which for a little while couldn’t decide which side of the road we belonged on) slowed him down here: I found the cache quickly but let him find it for himself with as few clues as I could bare to provide. Log in spectacularly-good condition, but a little challenging to retreive without the preferred tool to-hand (I’d not brought out my usual geokit bag). TFTC.

Map of 50.123583,-5.406167

Dan Q found GC43B2Z HR6 – Vamoose

This checkin to GC43B2Z HR6 - Vamoose reflects a geocaching.com log entry. See more of Dan's cache logs.

Despite having used the facilities in the pub we’d just left, Robin had needed to stop and relieve himself no less than twice during this stretch of the journey: somehow the three pints he’d enjoyed at The Packet had gone right through him. Meanwhile, I powered ahead for this, another quick find.

Despite the warnings in the cache description, we found the path here to be less wet than we had in the vicinity of GC1EA55, earlier: now that had gotten swampy underfoot!

Map of 50.120833,-5.408433