Blog at andreas.com

Posted: 8 Jun 2018

I started blogging in 1995 before there was a word for it. At first; I wrote HTML from 1995 to 2002, then I used Blogger and then Wordpress but in June 2018; I deleted Wordpress because it was too hackable. I've moved back to HTML because it works. I coded all of this website by hand.

I also use Twitter as a micro-blog. I post quick stuff to Twitter and longer items to my blog.

Read my Tweets from Today to 2008

Rebuilding My andreas.com Website

Posted: July 10th, 2018

I started andreas.com in 1995. For many years, I wrote the code by hand. A few years ago, I switched to Wordpress, mostly because everyone uses it and I wanted to learn how to use it. But I got tired of the endless hacking and dozens, if not hundreds, of daily spam comments. Wordpress was a great idea, but had lousy security and was very hackable (there were over 5,000 spammer pages on the server). You spend lots of money on security upgrades, security tools, and constantly upgrading to stay ahead of spammers and hackers. Wordpress is good for low-level staffers who only want to add text to a page, but to make significant changes to the website, you need to hire a Wordpress consultant.

In 2016, Google began to notify that it will give priority to mobile-first websites. If Laura is using her mobile phone to search in Google, then Google will show mobile-friendly websites at the top of the list. By 2018, 70-80% of searches at Google are done on mobile phones. In early 2018, Google said, "okay, that's it, if you want your site to show up in mobile searches, your site must be mobile-friendly".

So I stripped Wordpress out of my website and I've gone back to HTML. My website is now HTML5, mobile-first, with responsive design (it resizes automatically to any screen), and uses HTTPS for security. I wrote a simple template that has a light design, works on all devices, and the code is easy to maintain by hand. What you see is a hand-written, artisanal website where I write all code by hand.

I also deleted many pages. My website had grown to over 500 pages. Google Analytics shows the traffic for every page at my site, so I sorted by traffic and keep the 100 most popular pages. That's okay; many pages were obsolete because technology changed so much or the sites didn't exist anymore.

If you see a broken link, please let me know.

Hands-on Review: Samsung Gear S3 Smart Watch

Posted: July 5th, 2018

I tried a Samsung Gear S3 Smart Watch for ten days. Here's my experience:

  • I've always worn a watch. I was curious about digital watches; so I tried the Samsung Gear S3 digital watch. I chose this one because I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 phone. However; I think my experience with this watch applies generally to all digital watches.
  • The watch face is a screen; so it's illuminated. That works well indoors; but it's impossible to see the screen in bright sunlight. The watch is intended for active outdoors; but it's useless in sunlight. A mechanical watch with glow can be seen in any light (or darkness) in any weather condition.
  • It's clumsy to use the watch. I tried the timer when I boiled a 4' 30" egg. It takes seven clicks to set the timer. Spin the bezel to select the timer; etc. But the timer only has minutes; I can't set it to four minutes and thirty seconds. It's possible this can be done; but it's not obvious.
  • When you take off the watch; it's only use is to hold down paper on your desk. I can set my mechanical watch on my desk so the watch face shows the time. When you take off the smart watch; it conserves battery... by turning off the screen which means you can't see the time.
  • The rotating bezel. In high school; I started scuba diving so I've always had diver watches. These have a rotating bezel (a ring around the watch face) that you can turn to keep track of time. On smart watches; you turn the bezel to select apps and settings; which means you can't keep track of time.
  • You can receive and make phone calls with the watch by holding your wrist up to your ear. In your other hand; you hold your cell phone. That's... silly. The same for email and text messages on your watch: why not just look at your phone?
  • The watch has settings. No; it has lots of settings. It's a bit of a challenge to navigate dozens of screens on a one-inch display.
  • Too much pre-loaded junk. I deleted all sorts of useless apps and games.
  • I assume these watches have yet more tracking and reporting capabilities. I don't want hundreds of companies to know my pulse; oxygen level; body temperature; motion; location; and so on.
  • The watch face can't be configured. It'd be easy for Samsung to add this; but they don't. You can use dozens of apps at app stores to configure your watch face; but I strongly recommend that you avoid apps unless they are a) absolutely necessary and b) come from known companies. There is too much spammer / tracking / spyware / virus on free apps.
  • The watch  battery will last about three days. This is fine if you stay in town; but we often go on week-long outdoors trips. After three days; a digital watch will be useless.
  • My mechanical watch (Citizen diver's watch in a titanium case) has lasted fifteen years so far and will likely last 50 years. Any good watch; such as Rolex; Citizen; Breitling; Tag Heuer; Seiko; etc. will last 50 years. But we all know digital devices rarely last longer than three years: either they stop working; the battery dies; or they become obsolete. If you spend $300 every three years; why not just pay $1,000 and get a watch that will last decades?

Digital watches are a nice idea; but so far; not better than mechanical watches. To justify its use; a digital watch has to be substantially better than a mechanical watch in all conditions.

After ten days; I returned the smart watch.

Facebook vs Congress

Posted: Wed; 11 Apr 2018 17:13:13

As you may have read; the Congress critters were clueless and Mark Zuckerberg gave..., well..., sort-of-answers, but not really answers. Okay; here's the real story.

FB; Google; Youtube; Instagram; Twitter; etc. (BTW; there are at least 61 social media sites) all make their income via advertising. Google made $100B in 2017 (about 85% came through advertising; per Bloomberg). FB made $40B in 2017.

To make money; they give demographic information to advertisers. This lets advertisers show ads to (e.g.) women; age 18-24; living in Dallas; college-educated; like jogging; etc. There are around 1,500 criteria that allow advertisers to precisely define their audience so ads can be targeted specifically those people.

This is also why FB/Google/etc. are more successful than any newspaper or magazine. No newspaper could possibly create 250,000 personalized versions of their newspaper to reach every reader. Web-based ad-driven companies can easily do that. There is not "one Amazon"; Amazon has 310m customers; every customer gets her own personalized Amazon page that shows only the products that appeal to her. There are 310m Amazons.

How many Facebooks are there? 2B; or one for each user with ads targeted just for that user.

How BIG is Facebook? FB itself has about 2.13B members and growing at about 3% per quarter (64m new members per quarter). FB also owns Instagram (800m and growing +12% per quarter; or about 100m new members per quarter); WhatsApp (1.5B users; +13% per quarter; which is 200m new members per quarter); Messenger (1.2B; growing 17% yearly; or about 200m users per year) all numbers for Q4/17). There's overlap in many of these users: Many Facebook users also use Messenger and Instagram. So the total is perhaps 3B? No; it's more than that. If a webpage has a Facebook button on it; the button is collecting data and sending it back to Facebook. Hundreds of millions of page have these buttons and they're tracking you; even if you aren't a member of any of Facebook's tools. Both FB and Google (and many other social sites) are collecting vast amounts of data.

The NYT's total revenues for 2017 are a pitiful $1.7B. Their profits were a measly $100m. I have friends who earn more than that. To put it bluntly; the NYT could disappear next week and FB/Gooogle wouldn't even notice.

So there weren't "hacks" or "breaches" at FB. This precisely what FB/Google/etc. was designed to do: collect user information and offer it to advertisers. Or; to say it correctly; offer the tools to allow advertisers to pick the relevant audience. Ford doesn't "get" the user information: Ford creates an ideal user and FB delivers the Ford ad to those users (BTW; this is what I do in digital marketing for my clients.)

If G/FB continue to sell ads; they MUST offer detailed user information. That's what makes it useful to advertisers.

Solution? No more ads. G+FB+etc switch to freemium. Free baby version to users who won't pay; Subscriber version with extra features to subscribers; and Corporate version for business users. Thus very little need to collect 1,500 criteria on the users and no need whatsoever to share user information with advertisers because there would be no ads.

Many Silicon Valley companies use the freemium model. On average; about 5% of users pay for service.

Let's say FB charges $5/mo for subscriptions. Of 2B users; only 100m (5%) may pay. $5/month X 100m = $6B. FB's $40B revenues would drop 85% and revenue growth would be low single digits. Their stock valuation would collapse from $480B to... well; way less. Investors would flee. (The actual numbers will be much lower in India; Southeast Asia; Africa; where many users are unable to pay $100 per year).

The same for Google. How many would actually pay to use Google/Gmaps/Gmail etc.? 5%? Less?

The switch to non-ads could be done. But it'd shatter the Silicon Valley billion-dollar companies.

Will this Actually Happen?

Who else depends on FB/Google data? The US Government and politicians. The government uses this data for surveillance. Politicians all use FB/Google for election campaigns. They are not going to shoot the Golden Goose.

More Blog Postings: The Archives

  • From 1995 to 2003, I created pages in HTML and posted them as an ongoing chronicle. I started doing this in 1996; long before anyone called it a "blog." I turned many of those blog postings into pages, which you can read at Stuff.
  • From 2003 to 2010, I used Blogger to write my blog.
  • Google bought Blogger but they messed it up; so I switched to Wordpress in 2011.
  • In mid-2018; I gave up on Wordpress: it is easily hacked so I had to constantly upgrade, etc.
  • From July 2018 onwards; I'm using plain HTML for the blog. That's right: I'm blogging by hand. No more CMS.

Go to my blog postings for 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018.

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