More on Groupon

OK, Groupon has me flummoxed.
I didn’t understand how they could walk away from a $6B payday from Google, a bumbled deal that led to the ouster of their CEO.
You might think that, with fresh leadership and a renewed direction, they’ might have a clue about revitalizing their once mighty revenue stream.
Here, instead, is what they think might interest me, starting with a mysterious burn on their nephew, Steve



Which was preceded by a skull massage:

Which was preceded by, well, this:


One of an occasional series.
A bunch of years ago, I worked for a software company. It was hard work for long hours. At one point, senior management made the pronouncement that the development team needed to focus more on a particular aspect of the product. The QA manager and I agreed that we’d be Focused More-ons.

The Five Easy Pieces model for newspaper subscriptions

We have the New York Times delivered to us on Sunday morning. It’s a nice tradition, letting us pick at the major sections, including the magazine, book reviews, and opinion pages. With that subscription, I also get All Digital Access that includes web, tablet, and phone access for the whole week.
Increasingly, though, I find that I’m reading the stuff online a day or two before the paper arrives. The Times online editions start showing on Thursday. Something might be posted on Twitter or someone else’s blog includes a link to a story that’s destined for print on Sunday.
As a result, there are weeks when I’ve already read the pieces of interest and the paper goes straight to the recycling bin.
Maybe, I thought, I could save a tree and just get the digital editions.
The digital editions cost $8.75 per week. Home delivery of the Sunday paper, which includes the digital access, costs $8.10 per week.
I save 65ยข by throwing the paper away.


Full disclosure: I am a contracted employee of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, a company formerly owned by the New York Times. A most wonderful benefactor, John Henry, recently purchased the T&G along with the Boston Globe. The Globe has a more sensible policy, allowing me to pay a lower price for digital-only.

Rethinking school size

In our efforts to reduce class sizes in schools, we are missing a more important metric.
Son Adam noted years ago in his school safety findings that there’s correlation between school size and school safety. A smaller school is more likely to be a safer school, irrespective of other factors in the community.
Researchers have published a working paper that shows this and other benefits of smaller schools in New York City.
Regionalization has been in use in Massachusetts for nearly 60 years. The goals was to save on administrative costs and make programs available to students who would not have had access in small-town schools. We’re now seeing that the benefits of this consolidation weren’t quite as grand as we’d hoped.

h/t Freakonomics

Lysistrata in the modern age

The Aristophanes play, Lysistrata, noted how women ended the Peloponnesian War by denying intimacy to their husbands and/or lovers until the war was ended.
Now, however, it’s getting really serious. Global Post reports that a group of women in Colombia are refusing to have sex until the roads near their homes are repaired.


More on WiFi passwords

Last week, I wrote a piece for The Mobility Hub about the challenges of managing WiFi passwords on various mobile devices. In brief, because of arcane guest WiFi policies, users must learn how to change the WiFi password on their devices. Setting aside the problem of entering passwords in the first place, most devices don’t have a direct way to change the password on a saved network connection. Generally, you must tell your gadget to forget about the connection, connect anew, and enter the new password. It is one of the most unfriendly aspect of mobile computing.
We’ve found a new variant of this exquisite defliction. At Hilton hotels, you can get free WiFi if you are a) staying at the hotel or b) visiting the lobby, provided that you ask for the password at the desk. The lobby password is a 14-alphanumeric-character string. The hotel guest password is your room number and last name; it’s only enabled when you are registered at the hotel.
This means that if you log in with the lobby password while you’re waiting to check in and/or waiting to have your in-room account to come alive, you have to change the password when you get to your room (which is beyond the range of the lobby connection).
It’s good to know that, Mordac, Preventer of Information Services from the Dilbert comic strip, has found regular employment with Hilton.

April 6, 1998

One of an occasional series.
A bunch of years ago, I worked for a software company. It was hard work for long hours. At one point, senior management made the pronouncement that the development team needed to focus more on a particular aspect of the product. The QA manager and I agreed that we’d be Focused More-ons.

Dear Charter, trading a bad ZIP code error for a stack dump isn’t progress

I’ve been having a go-round with Charter support for several months. They have an iOS app that offers channel information and a bunch of other stuff. Each time I enter the ZIP code of my home, however, I’m not that it’s not a valid address. (We’ve had Charter service and Greater Media before than for 20 years.)

iOS error

Through Twitter, I learned that there is a problem with the iOS app and that the Android one works OK.

So, I installed the Android version on my phone. I was able to enter my ZIP code and get my channel listings. That it needed to fetch the channel listings anew each time I changed from portrait to landscape mode, requiring about seven seconds on each turn, was bearable.

Then I checked out the other features of the app, such as the listing of products and services.

I then checked out their newsletter:

And, if I wanted to find a nearby service location, such as in Worcester, well, …

Computing with light

Decades ago, Grace Hopper, aka Queen of Software, championed light as a communication medium that could be used to build fast, secure computers. The boffins have pushed through another limit, this time silicon photonics. 

Here’s David Letterman’s interview of Admiral Hopper shortly after she retired from the Navy and joined DEC. “How do you get a pair of pantyhose that fit?” wonders one of the greatest minds of our time. (via Scripting News).