Your smart home

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Amazon Wants Alexa to Take Control of Your Smart Home

I was thinking, “Good thing I have a dumb home.” Then I realized that my
sous vide talks to my phone, and my phone talks to Alexa, so probably
Alexa and my phone gossip about the sous vide. Never mind the horror
stories about the smart houses taking over and killing us. I expect that
the Internet of Things will form cliques, unfriend each other on
Facebook, ditch each other right before prom, cry a lot, and refuse to
cooperate on group projects.

Oh, and my phone answers the doorbell, so who knows who they’re letting
in for parties while I’m out?

Totebaggers, how smart is your house? How smart do you want it to be?

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251 thoughts on “Your smart home

  1. I expect I will go full smart home, whatever that is at the time, if I find myself an elderly widow. But since my beloved companion is still using a flip phone, has crank windows on his car, and an aol email address, it is prudent to keep things as simple as possible for now.

  2. The only “smart” thing in the house is the thermostat. Yes, I get hot at night and love that I can adjust it on my phone from bed! I’d like the house to be smarter, but with four different personalities in our household, I’d need to bribe Alexa to stay friends with me.

  3. Our home would be on the dumber side. I never understood the appeal of the Nest thermostat. We’ve had a programmable thermostat for 20 years and it works just fine. But our workday and weekend schedules are pretty predictable in terms of when we wake up and when we go to bed – so it’s easy to know when we want the heat to come on in the morning or cool down in the evening.

    Anyone else see this article about the downside of internet connected devices – the company could go out of business or if there’s a hitch in the cloud, the devices may not work.

    http://www.wired.com/2016/04/nests-hub-shutdown-proves-youre-crazy-buy-internet-things/

  4. A couple years ago, my kids were in a car with crank windows. They thought it was the coolest thing ever since they’d never experienced crank windows before. I however do not miss crank windows at all.

  5. Our house is dumb. We like it that way. I might get Alexa for the kids for Christmas–but mainly to amuse them, not for functionality. We do use our programmable thermostats, though, which rock.

  6. I have gotten Alexa to turn on/off my kitchen TV which is set for morning news and tune the main radio with nice speakers on to NPR station , I have a Redlink Honeywell thermostat , my doorbell now works, otherwise my house is rather inert.

  7. Our house is pretty dumb. DH put in smart light switches with remotes when we moved in, but the sensors broke within a year and we haven’t replaced them. Also, we have one thermostat for heating and another for cooling (only one zone in this house), and neither is programmed very well – they are just set at a certain temp.

    When we move, the new house has 7 zones, so I am looking forward to getting a Nest and having it work. We may also get a roomba since the house is so big!

  8. +1 to everything SSM said. I had read that article and it gives me pause for going too far down the smart path.

    The programmable thermostat is a good thing. Maybe when (if) we redo the kitchen I’ll upgrade to some smart(er) elements.

  9. Back in the 90’s. when I was doing a lot of collaborative work with some architecture faculty, I was invited to a “kitchen of the future” presentation at RISD. They were showing off some joint projects they had done with Microsoft. It was all smart devices – particularly fridges that used the internet to order things or remind you of what you need. These ideas are not new.

  10. We live in a dumb home and like it! I used to have a Roomba and like it before its battery died out. I will get a new one hopefully soon. It gives me the heebijeebies to think about Alexa listening to everything being said around her.

  11. Ah, Rocky, you are so my people. I have an innate suspicion of constant electronic surveillance of any variety — it’s the tool that is begging to be abused. When my firm went to a real-time-tracking software, they had to ask me to stop calling it our HAL-9000 system.

    More practically, I am just not an early adopter of anything, because I have to re-learn how to do something that works perfectly fine as is, usually for no or minimal perceived benefit. E.g., every universal remote known to man — sure, it’s easier to keep track of one item instead of 3-4, but the tradeoff is extra keystrokes every single time I use it to get to the device I want. I’d rather just pick up the remote and push one button. Or why do I need a “home lighting system” that can create 15 different “moods,” when I’d need to spend hours re-learning how to turn on a light switch for something I will use once every three months when I throw a party? Etc. And then of course half of the things you buy go out of business, or change their pricing approach in ways I don’t like, or whatever.

    So I will wait until everything is integrated into one single system, and the market has decided whether that system shall be Betamax or VHS. Then I will buy Alexa v.173.48.c, which I assume by that time will be programmed to have dinner waiting for me when I get home.

  12. We have a programmable thermostat. When its battery dies, we can’t turn on the heat, which is bad. I think we need a new model – this one came with the house. We also stream most TV viewing. Aside from that, our house is not very smart.

  13. Oh, and it takes 5 remotes to watch something on TV. Seriously. And DD is constantly burying one of the remotes inside blankets or a stack of pillows so it can’t be found. Good thing that we don’t watch too much TV. My DH tried to find a universal remote that would work with our setup, but at the time, most of them did not play right with our combination of Roku and cable (which we have only for hockey at DH’s insistence)

  14. spend hours re-learning

    That’s what keeps the dementia at bay. I think giving into that desire not to learn new things and getting set in your ways is what accelerates cognitive decline.

  15. I’m really enjoying the new X1 DVRs that are linked so that, unlike our old pair, anything recorded on one is available on both. We can watch half a show downstairs and finish it in bed. And it’s kind of cool that the piano plays from the iPad.

    But other than that, nothing special. I don’t care for programmable thermostats; I’d rather just adjust them slightly as necessary. I also think people grossly overestimate how much energy they save (heat that you don’t generate at 3 am is just that much more heat that you have to generate at 6 am).

  16. (heat that you don’t generate at 3 am is just that much more heat that you have to generate at 6 am).

    I don’t believe it works that way. IIRC heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference among other reasons.

  17. For us, I think we should install solar panels before anything else. For those who have solar, how is it working out ? Finn – has solar I think.
    I presume some regions of the country do but I don’t know why we don’t have it here.

  18. @Rhett: True. But (a) issue at this point in my life is overload, not understimulation. And (b) I prefer to spend my few remaining “learn new things” brain cells on something that will measurably improve my daily life. This kind of stuff feels like churn, not progress — it’s hours to relearn how to do exactly the same thing I’ve always done just fine. I totally get it if it’s your thing — it’s certainly DH’s. But, wow is it not mine. I’d infinitely rather do a crossword puzzle.

  19. The Echo I bought around Christmas is still sitting in its unopened package so, no, our house is not smart. I still manually turn on the radio when I enter the kitchen, and use the remote for the TV. And I still haven’t figured out how to change the time on my car, so after my fiddling with it the screen display shows an image of the undercarriage (completely useless) and the time is off by one hour. I don’t like to spend time learning this stuff. It’s not intuitive to me and I’d rather learn other stuff.

    However, now my priority is to change out my smoke/CO alarms throughout my house and my son mentioned that Nest is an option. I’m going to have to research. Any ideas/recommendations?

    BTW, Wired is the only website that requires me to turn off my ad blocker before I can read anything there. Other sites just politely ask me to turn it off but they still let me in.

  20. CoC, I can’t change the time in my car either. In the winter, I just remember the time on the car clock is off by one hour

  21. “That’s what keeps the dementia at bay.”

    I’m with LfB, plenty of other stuff currently to help with this without adding needless things

  22. We don’t have any of the smart products for our home. We do use programmable thermostats for the heat/AC. I want to switch to the Nest, but HVAC guy doesn’t recommend it for a schedule like our family. Also, he told me that he still sees some problems with them. DH knows how to set up days of week, seasons etc. I just use the up/down and run program if I have to go off the default settings. I had HVAC guy here earlier today to clean our Acs since it is FINALLY warm enough to need air conditioning. I put away the down vest that was still near my front entrance.

    The one device that we use a lot that isn’t smart is a DVR from Optimum. I used to love Tivo, but DH convinced me to get the Optimum DVR because our power goes out and then Tivo was getting messed up. I do like the ability to program the DVR from any location.

    I planned to have one of the grandparents get DD an Echo as a bday gift, but she said that she doesn’t want one because her friends have already stopped using them in their rooms.

  23. Our house is a dumb as we are and I like it.

    I’ve seen too many CSI episodes (and now Hawaii 5-0) where someone hacks into a home and controls it. Not for me thank you very much. And the real-life case of people hacking into baby monitors to spy… yuck.

    We have a sound-only baby monitor, a programmable thermostat that is not wi-fi enabled, and dumb appliances. The only things that talk in our house are the Apple devices to each other and the printer. The laptop also talks to the printer, but not to the apple devices. I’m pretty confident the printer is a Decepticon.

    I think the scariest thing is the Hyundai commercials where they control the phone/watch to control the car.

    Probably in ~10-15 years a smart house/car will be just a common as having a set of house/car keys. But if you lose those, the people who find them have to know where you live or where you parked your car for them to work…

  24. The real issue here is poor user interface design. Working with these devices should not be so hard. There are well known design priniciples for human interaction design, and even people who are specialists (user experience engineers – that is what one of my local friends does for a living in fact). Sadly, I think a lot of companies do not want to invest in the level of user testing that is required to make something easy to use. Even companies, like Apple, that used to get it right have really gone downhill in recent years. My original iPod, which I bought in 2005 or so, was a paragon of good user interaction design. I didn’t have to puzzle at all – it was so intuitive to use. It finally broke last year, and they don’t make that style any more, so I downgraded to a Nano – and I hate it. I can’t figure out how to do ANYTHING with it. And don’t get me started on how much worse iTunes is to use now than 10 years ago.

    Bad user interfaces can lead to serious consequences. There has been research done on the effects of poor interfaces in electronic medical records – it is scary stuff. You don’t want your ED doctors struggling with the interface when trying to check for drug interactions in a critical situation, but this kind of thing has happened.

  25. Our DVR is remotely programmable… and we think that the cable box can be controlled by the app as well (which means the whole system is because the tv and cable box are attached to the same FIOS remote). DH was going to mess with my mom while we were away. I think he still will one day.

    I still have no apps that control external things on my phone.

  26. I like the programmable thermostat – I don’t have it linked to any device. In winter I lower the temperature in the middle of the day when we are usually out and the place is sunny, and also at night for more comfortable sleeping, and raise it up just before we get up. It is not to save money, just for comfort. This is our first summer with it, so far I left it on factory setting 75 all day and night – the house is still cool today, tomorrow it should kick in for the first time this season. I have light timers for a lamp on each floor, and the programmable cat feeder, but none of that is “smart”. I am thinking of getting a kitty cam at the feeding station for when we go away on weekends, but that is just to check in.

    Rhett – I agree that learning new stuff is good to keep the mind sharp, but eventually it gets too hard. When my mom moved up from DC to Boston at 91, she could not learn the new cable channel numbers for her favorite stations. And at the time Cablevision required two remotes instead of one as she had in her condo. And she had obtained her first IMac at the age of 85 and used it to exchange email with DD2 as she traveled overseas, so she was no slouch.

  27. “I’m pretty confident the printer is a Decepticon.”

    Yes! It all makes sense now!!!

    @Mooshi: ITA about user interface. I don’t think it’s lack of know-how — I think poor interface is one of those things that “real” techies consider to be a feature, not a bug. I think historically, computer/electronic design was driven by geeks who just thought the tech was cool. So knowing how to make the system work — the commands, the prompts, the unwritten rules — was a marker to separate those who got it. Like a secret password to the clubhouse.

    And of course the stuff that these guys was inventing was awesome, so they took that ethos into their multi-billion-dollar businesses (yes, I’m looking at you, Bill Gates). Sure, they were forced to make their products reasonably useful, but they didn’t *want* them easy to use, because (a) we typical consumers are peons, a necessary evil to support their continued tech development, but not worth watering down the purity of the tech for unless absolutely necessary; and (b) they make a buttload of money out of people needing help diagnosing/fixing problems.

    The only time these companies have broken from that mold is when competition forced them to. E.g., Steve Jobs and the original Macbooks (a/k/a “Windows” a decade before MS deigned to move away from c:\\); the first iPods and the ensuing revolution in personal devices.

    But the people who are developing the Next Big Thing are still the techies, so they are naturally going to gravitate to the coolness of the tech instead of the smoothness of the user experience. And with Jobs gone, I don’t really see anyone out there stepping in as a counterbalance — “design” now focuses on how sleek it looks, not how easy it is to use, and user interface is back to a necessary evil, a “make it pretty” that is given lip service but still viewed with disdain by the people who are in the position to make those decisions.

  28. Mooshi, I had a baby the day our hospital switched to a different electronic medical records system.

    The epidural was placed wrong and my blood pressure cratered, but the nurse was so absorbed trying to figure out the new records system that even though I was calling to her, she didn’t notice until I passed out.

  29. “I don’t believe it works that way. IIRC heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference among other reasons.”

    Right. You have to replace lost heat, and rate of heat loss is linearly proportional to temperature differential.

    So yes, if you allow the indoor temp to drop from 70 to 64 for the eight hours while you’re sleeping, and it’s 30 degrees outside, then instead of losing heat at a rate proportional to a 40 degree gradient, you’re losing it at a 34 degree gradient (once it actually drops, which takes a couple hours). Averaged out, maybe it’s a 36 degree average gradient throughout the night. 36 is 90% of 40. So using a programmable thermostat to drop the temp at night saves 10% on heat losses for the 33% of the day, so about 3% cost savings.

    Personally, I’d rather it just hold my desired temperature.

    And if it’s colder outside, the savings percentage drops.

  30. A family member works for Sonos, and they are having an identity and sales crisis. It is clearly the highest sound quality wireless audio system, but they overestimated the degree to which folks wanted high quality for streaming content. It is exactly the techie designer issue, although in this case it is audiophile techies. And they don’t have voice command directly to the speakers, not even voice control for the app on the smart phone or tablet. So you have to have a smart device in hand to pick your entertainment. In the kitchen when you are cooking you can’t just say “skip” or “red sox game” or “play The Weavers”, you have to stop and touch the phone. I still love it, but the new Google device, if it maintains quality, will likely dominate the market. (if Alexa’s future development is anything like Kindle Fire, there will come a point at which lowering the price point makes the product not worth buying at all for adults, at least).

  31. “If you’re LfB that’s $27/month.”

    Awesome! Then it should only take about 20 years for the Nest to pay for itself in her house.

    In my case, 3% is about $6.

  32. Laurafrombaltimore, the Unix based GUI (XWindows) dates to 1984 – it was contemporary witht the first Mac GUI. Both were based on research done at Xerox PARC in the 70s. The really cool thing about XWindows was that it worked across a network. So you could (and still can) display windows for applications running on remote machines. When I was working in Germany, I could run my graphical solid modeler system back on my server in the US, and have it display to the computer in front of me in Germany. That is one of the reasons that Sun’s slogan was “The network is the computer” (Sun made powerful Unix based workstations in the 80’s and 90’s).

    Windows came later and was much clunkier for a long time.

  33. Wait, months, not years, sorry.

    20 winter months of shivering under your blankets just to break even.

  34. Then it should only take about 20 years for the Nest to pay for itself in her house.

    9.2 months.

  35. @Rhett: not at 70 degrees! My last bill few bills have been well under $300 (the only benefit of months of 50-60 and rainy). We have a huge delta at the extremes — house putters along just fine between about 30 and 80, but above and below that the curve shoots basically straight up, especially when you add humidity in summer and winds in winter (the former seems to settle on the house like a hot weight; the latter seems to just suck all heat right out). The storm this year that was like 10 degrees and blowing like an SOB for several days just killed us.

    Of course, we have a programmable thermostat. :-) So maybe we’re already taking advantage of the cost savings during temperate days, and part of the delta in extreme weather is that the system never gets to take that overnight/daytime break because it’s still trying to catch up.

  36. 20 winter months of shivering under your blankets just to break even.

    You need thicker blankets.

  37. Our house isn’t smart at all. We just zoned the upstairs heat/ac but you still have to go to the thermostat to change the temperature. We have a Roku and that’s it.

  38. Milo: I love our programmable thermostat because it’s really useful to set the temperature higher during the day so the AC isn’t running as frequently. We transition the temps an hour before we get home so the house has time to cool down. No shivering, no sweating, no effort, but it does save us a lot of money as summer here are always 100 degrees +. For 4 months.

    Our thermostat was $35 from Home Depot.

  39. I am all for cool new tech if it is actually useful. Solving a problem that I have or maybe even one that I didn’t know I had. I like my internet-enabled DVR. I like Siri. I like my old school programmable thermostat. I think Alexa would be fun, but not worth the cost or the set up (e.g., switching the apps that I already use across devices to be compatible).

    A relative with a vacation home swears by the smart locks and wifi cameras in her place because it gives her piece of mind about access when she is halfway across the country for months at a time. But that’s not really an issue for me.

    Really, I love watching all this stuff come out & I’m perfectly willing to be an early adopter. I was with TiVo and the iPod and iPhone. But some things I need to be convinced. And I’m not sure that I will ever need an internet-enabled fridge.

  40. Ada – His equations and calculations are fine, and he correctly determines that, using those figures (which were remarkably similar to mine), you save 18% in the overnight hours.

    Unfortunately, he just leaves it at that, hoping his readers’ eyes have glazed over and will just take his word for it that there are 18% savings. What he ignores is the fact that if you want to go back to 70 degrees in the morning, you have a lot of extra work to do to get your 63 degree house back up to 70 (‘work’ in the truest sense of the word, if it’s a heat pump). That roughly cuts the 18% in half to 9%. And since this only applies for about a third of the day, voila, 3% savings (in the winter only).

  41. “We transition the temps an hour before we get home so the house has time to cool down.”

    That’s fine, but that’s a hard hour in the late afternoon Houston sunshine. You’re saving some money based on the fact that it’s allowed to drift higher when unoccupied and not running as frequently, but then it has to work continuously for about an hour to get all the way back down.

  42. “I also think people grossly overestimate how much energy they save (heat that you don’t generate at 3 am is just that much more heat that you have to generate at 6 am).”

    That’s only if you have no heat loss. The amount of heat loss you have will depend on how well your house is insulated, which was missing from your calculations.

  43. It pretty much is continuously on anyways during the summer. Also, I don’t turn it off during the day–it just goes up 5 degrees.

  44. “it gives her piece of mind about access when she is halfway across the country”

    ‘Peace of mind’ and ‘piece of mind’ having two entirely different meanings, this made me chuckle.

  45. “That’s only if you have no heat loss. The amount of heat loss you have will depend on how well your house is insulated, which was missing from your calculations.”

    No, that’s totally incorrect. Heat loss is the whole point. If you have no heat loss, if somehow your house is a perfect thermos, set the temperature for whatever the heck you want and you’ll never have to run the heat again.

    As I clearly stated, my calculations were based on the fact that rate of heat loss is linearly proportional to temperature gradient, which is true regardless of insulation factor. Q = UAdT

    Yes, different levels of insulation will change the U coefficient, but we’re not talking about insulation.

  46. Our house is not smart. We have a programmable thermostat and I like it because Mr WCE likes it cool at night (which I tolerate) but I don’t like getting up to a cool house, and so I set the programmable thermostat to start warming the house about 30 min before I get up on the days I get up early. He has a timer for the front lights that loses its mind during each of our frequent power outages. I ignore this problem, because I don’t think we need a front light on anyway- that’s why we have a light switch. I think he got a replacement but hasn’t installed it.

    I would like a white board that I could see remotely, for when I forget to write down the grocery list and wind up at the grocery store, and I’d like to be able to preheat the oven remotely, but it’s not really a big deal to wait 10 min for it to preheat.

  47. “That’s fine, but that’s a hard hour in the late afternoon Houston sunshine. You’re saving some money based on the fact that it’s allowed to drift higher when unoccupied and not running as frequently, but then it has to work continuously for about an hour to get all the way back down.”

    Again, it depends on how well the house is insulated.

    Our solar guy pitched us a new product, which combines AC and PV panels. The AC is powered by PV when the sun is shining, but switches to power from the utility when it’s not. We ran an experiment to see if it would save us anything on week days, running our AC for a several hours in the afternoon, then shutting it off and seeing how long the room would stay cool, and came to the conclusion that most of the cooling powered by the PV would be lost by the time we got home.

  48. “Also, I don’t turn it off during the day–it just goes up 5 degrees.”

    You might actually be doing more harm than good, since we’re talking about AC and you therefore have to factor *when* you’re demanding this 5-degree reduction. In the prior explanations, I was talking about heat and assuming natural gas, where if you burn a standard cubic foot of natural gas (or heating oil), you get X joules of heat, regardless of ambient temperature.

    With AC (or for anyone with a heat pump in the winter), you can’t assume that. They lose efficiency as their heat sink–the outdoor air–becomes more extreme. So while you’re saving a little bit throughout the day letting it drift five degrees warmer, when you demand your set temperature at 4 pm, the absolute hottest part of the day, you’re shifting a large portion of its work to the time when it operates with the lowest efficiency.

    And the same is true of using a heat pump to warm your house back up at 6 am.

  49. Finn, do you already have low-e windows and/or shades? I was at a lecture that mentioned low-e windows and the physics behind them is cool.

  50. “Again, it depends on how well the house is insulated. ”

    Again, it does not. We’re talking in terms of percentages.

  51. Milo– OK, got it. In %age, insulation cancels out, but the amount of $ the setback thermostat will save depends hugely on insulation.

  52. “but the amount of $ the setback thermostat will save depends hugely on insulation.”

    Yes. There’s a sweet spot. If it’s extremely well insulated, there’s not much spending to cut down. If it’s very poorly insulated (like LfB claims), it’s going to be running just about all the time anyway.

  53. WCE, we put shades over a couple of large glass doors a few years ago, and the room with those doors has gotten a lot more use since, which we attribute to its becoming noticeably more comfortable. So I’m trying to figure out how to mount them over some windows, whose configurations make mounting less straightforward.

    Window tints have been controversial here lately, with some high-rise condos getting fined for their windows being too reflective. But that’s on my list of home projects too.

  54. “If it’s very poorly insulated (like LfB claims), it’s going to be running just about all the time anyway.”

    That depends on the setback temperature setting. Set it low enough when you’re in heating mode, or high enough when you’re in cooling mode (which includes winter in some locales), and it won’t run all the time. That’s how we used ours.

  55. “I am just not an early adopter of anything, because I have to re-learn how to do something that works perfectly fine as is, usually for no or minimal perceived benefit.”

    I’m not an early adopter because I like to let others discover the bugs, and also to wait for the prices to drop.

  56. A simple programmable thermostat is inexpensive. People use them for various reasons, not all of them to feel uncomfortable but virtuous or as you claim in an illusion of thrift. Similarly, There is no particular reason to record entire seasons of shows or pay for multiroom DVR. You can certainly go through the DVR every day to make your selection and sit in the same chair for an hour at a time. It is simply more convenient to automate the process.

  57. “fined for their windows being too reflective”

    That’s a problem for whom?

    My brother had a company do window film on all their south-facing windows in their old house, including the giant palladium window through which the sun heated the big foyer and all its tile throughout the afternoon. He said the film made a huge difference on their A/C usage, and I agreed that you couldn’t really tell the difference visually.

  58. One of the things that amazes me is that I was just as hyper connected in the 90’s as I am now. In contrast, to me it seemed like there was a huge jump from the 80’s to the 90’s. OK, now I can get Facebook and email on my phone, but it doesn’t change my feelings of connectedness. In the 90’s, I could get all the information I needed on a web browser, my entire family used email in preference to phones, we sent photos back and forth via email or early photo sharing sites, Amazon had already appeared, and I could do most of my shopping online. In fact, when my first kid was born in 2000, I bought almost all the baby gear online. Does anyone remember babies.com? They were awesome. The only thing we bought in a store was the carseat.

    So technology really changed the way I did things beween about 1988 AND 1998, but since then, not so much.

  59. meme – if you read my original comment, all I said was that I think people overestimate how much energy they save.

  60. “For those who have solar, how is it working out ?”

    It’s been working well for us, although the amount of savings has gone down, since the price of electricity from our utility has a correlation to the price of oil.

    Not sure about your locale, but here, if you want to take advantage of solar energy, the first thing to do, at least if you have your own roof, is to install solar water heating, which has a much shorter payback time than PV and does not require approval from the local utility. For those without a roof, a heat pump for water heating and room cooling is an option to consider.

  61. One of the things that amazes me is that I was just as hyper connected in the 90’s as I am now.

    You were txting back in the 90s? And you had high speed internet at home?

  62. We don’t have a thermostat as we don’t have any form of climate control, apart from some fans. I am considering putting window film up in our living room as we have some left over from my son’s programmable LED infinity mirror that he made for his STEM class. It’s very reflective, though, as he got the one-way-mirror kind, so I might be happier just buying a different kind.

    We have lots of Echoes. One in each kid bedroom — older son favors a playlist full of Native American flute music and harp music at night, daughter has a playlist full of rain and ocean sounds, younger son listens to audiobooks; they also use it for alarms, checking the time, listening to music during the day, and so on. One in the kitchen, for weather, news, radio, music while cooking, and so on. And an Echo Dot connected to the good speakers, for voice controlled music from the good speakers. I do have to take a few extra steps to yell at it if I’m in the kitchen and want to skip a track, but it works. We also have Hue lights in the living room, so we use the Echoes to turn them on and off. My daughter wants to add Hue lights in her bedroom too.

    This video is apropos:

  63. We don’t have a thermostat as we don’t have any form of climate control, apart from some fans.

    #humblebrag :-)

  64. I think programmable thermostats are great, but I don’t even think of ours as a smart home item so much as a glorified timer. It suits our needs. I’m all for automating certain things to make my life easier. I saw an ad the other day attempting, yet again, to sell us all on the internet connected fridge and I just don’t see the allure. All I can think of is the added list of things to break, the cost for something that will occasionally crash and glitch, for the small issues of grocery list making. (And even if I could see the inside of my refrigerator on my phone at the store, I don’t really want to walk through a store with my nose pressed into my phone trying to zoom in on the produce drawer!)

    I will admit to still being really skeptical of the “smart” locks. I know my current locks are far from foolproof, but they are also not hackable. I’m happier to let other people work out the glitches and safety risks for those before I consider it.

    LfB– I was listening to a TED talk podcast about Design the other day, and one of the people they talked to was a founder of Air BnB. He said, effectively, design was really important to getting people to figure out how to trust others, and that was behind a whole host of the design choices that they made. I thought it was interesting. I don’t think of design much except when it doesn’t work.

  65. Meme – we use Sonos at my house. I love it. They need to do a jv with Sirius to generate a regular income stream.

  66. “I don’t think of design much except when it doesn’t work.”

    Yes — exactly! To me, good design doesn’t shout “design” — you just know how it should be used, and it should be easy to learn/remember. I will always remember the heavens-parting moment when I opened up my first Macbook (laptop), and I saw a thing that looked like my desk, and you could put things on the desk that looked like folders, and you could put things that looked like a piece of paper into those folders. No magical incantations to recite, no weird combinations of letters and punctuation marks that no one ever used to memorize. Just a desk with files on it.

    I think too many people have focused in on and are trying to emulate the “cool”/”pretty” part of the Apple “design,” and are paying no attention to how freaking easy it was to learn to use. If I am noticing the design, it is either because it is a thing of beauty, or because it doesn’t work. And the former category is limited to things like Maseratis — electronic gizmos need not apply.

  67. The biggest change I have made is keeping a ruining to do/grocery list on my phone instead of on a sticky note. I also like how neatly I can delete stuff that has been done.
    I would like a fridge that sends the grocery list to my phone. I wouldn’t like the fridge to automatically order from the store because I would want check the order first.
    My kids have Alexa too and love it. It was a good Christmas present.

  68. Louise, if you have the Alexa app on your phone, you can check your Alexa shopping list on that even when you’re away from home. (You know, when you tell her “Add X to my shopping list.”)

    Of course my “shopping list” is full of weird stuff either because she misheard something as a request to add something to the shopping list, or because a kid added it. What is vanilla almond mood and why is it on my shopping list? The to-do list has mostly real items, even though (a) I never think to check it, (b) most of the ones on there seem to be kid items, and (c) there’s still one really weird one — who added “twinkle blood of a hundred fagen’s”?

  69. Rhett, I had high speed internet at work, where I spent much of my time in those days. And by the early 90’s I had dial up at home,which was fine even for running X based applications from my work server onto my home Linux box. We didn’t have phones for texting, sure, but that doesn’t add much. And we had IRC chat which kind of filled that texting gap.

  70. We didn’t have phones for texting, sure, but that doesn’t add much.

    You don’t think txting add much? Interesting. I’d say it’s a huge change as it now makes up maybe as much as 2/3 or my electronic personal communications.

  71. MM, most of us who are not IT profs did not do hose things until iPhones were invented, and you likely do them on the go more now than you used to.

  72. WTF does a programmable thermostat have to do with shivering? The point is that you can set it to be the different temps you want at different times of day. If you’re shivering under your cover, follow the example here and reset it from your phone under your covers, [implied term]!

  73. “You don’t think txting add much? ”

    I think that’s varies person to person.

    I primarily communicate via text or email because I can’t be bothered to talk on the phone (unless at work where I call before I email). But that’s because I really don’t like the decorum that goes with phone calls – I feel compelled to stay on the phone longer than necessary and discuss the weather or some other small talk.

    My BFF is the same – she’s on the phone for her entire workday, so the thought of talking to another human destroys her. Texting is far easier.

    My cousin is the exact opposite – she will not, under any circumstances, answer a text. You must call her. Even if she asks for an RSVP to a party – she expects the phone call rather than a simple text of “Hey, the Rhodes are coming to the party.” One action takes me a minute, the other closer to 15.

    PS – I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I love that you write “txting” instead of “texting”.

  74. Yeah, probably more on the go now than in those days, but it doesn’t *feel* any different. As for IT pro – my whole family was connected by the mid 90s’s. My family consisted of an art teacher and a librarian as well as me and a scientist parent. My friends were all connected, even my non tech friends. We used mailing lists a lot, and Usenet – remember Usenet? It was kind of the 4chan of its day.

    To me, the format doesn’t matter – SMS, IRC, BBs, Usenet, Reddit, email, IM, Mozilla, Chrome – the look and feel of the app changes, but not the content or the connections.

  75. I pretty much stopped using the phone in the late 90’s. Hated those things. I guess I would call important relatives on their birthdays, and service people to make appointments.

  76. My first real home computer was a Gateway, tricked out with an early version of Linux, which I acquired in 1993 or 94. I did own one of those Sinclairs that you put together yourself, in the mid 80’s. That truly marks me as an elder geek.

  77. Tee hee. Totally off topic, but I thought you all might enjoy this.

    You all know I have to leave Coral Gables to move to North Warehouseville Beach (20 minutes from water) for Junior’s high school. I was out with my real estate agent (who I really can’t stand) looking at houses today.

    We came to one. My real estate agent and the landlord’s gal were marveling at the spacious (tiny) living room and how good it was going to be for guests.

    Looking at the front door, I asked innocently if the bullet hole in the door came from the inside or the outside.

    When both agents professed ignorance and shock, I asked if they could find out. Ask either the owner or the estate. It makes a difference.

    I am so looking forward to this move!

  78. My cousin is the exact opposite – she will not, under any circumstances, answer a text.

    That’s just obnoxious. She would be dead to me.

  79. Anon – are you the same Anon from yesterday’s thread? It’s too bad that conversation is over, because I really wanted to explore more your statement about how on the frugal/early retirement websites Money shows up a lot, because it interferes with that life, but it really isn’t the object the way it is for people here.

    You seem to be kind to be kind of frustrated with the conversation. Perhaps you could choose a username? And share some information about yourself?

    [pleasepleaseplease let it be the real MMM]

  80. It is still early days, but Alzheimer’s experts not associated with the work are captivated by the idea that infections, including ones that are too mild to elicit symptoms, may produce a fierce reaction that leaves debris in the brain, causing Alzheimer’s. The idea is surprising, but it makes sense, and the Harvard group’s data, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, supports it. If it holds up, the hypothesis has major implications for preventing and treating this degenerative brain disease.

    Well, that’s good news.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/health/alzheimers-disease-infection.html

  81. I agree with Mooshi on the huge change from 1988 to 1998 compared to the continued evolution of internet connectivity and streaming since then. Being able to contact people all over the world with an email turnaround time instead of a letter turnaround time, get information about whatever was on your mind without going to a library (which might not have what you were looking for anyway), search for and order specialty items without having picked up the appropriate flyer or catalog at an early music festival or boat show or Ren Faire, ordering obscure books without having to ask to look through your local bookstore’s copy of Books in Print and then do a special order — it was so revolutionary to have your horizons jump open beyond your local community like that. And then since that time, we’ve added things that the bandwidth of the earlier internet wouldn’t support, like streaming music and streaming video and for that matter streaming games and e-book readers, and those are great additions, but they do feel more evolutionary than revolutionary to me.

  82. “WTF does a programmable thermostat have to do with shivering?”

    I would think that the cause and effect would be readily apparent.

    Look, (to borrow a favorite phrase of the President’s), I’ve got nothing against programmable thermostats. The only point I’ve ever made is that, from a thermodynamics/physics/heat transfer perspective, the potential energy savings are quite often overstated or overestimated. You like yours? Awesome. God bless you.

  83. I’ve got nothing against programmable thermostats.

    It sure seems like you do :-)

  84. Money shows up a lot, because it interferes with that life, but it really isn’t the object the way it is for people here.

    Yeah, I disagreed with that as well, but also figured the conversation is over. I think for most people here also money is the tool to obtaining the life you want to live — we’re just not so unhappy about working for the man to get it, and thus are more satisfied with a conventional working-professional life.

  85. Theory on PTM’s bullet hole: Milo rented it at some point and missed his shot when aiming at the programmable thermostat.

  86. “I pretty much stopped using the phone in the late 90’s. Hated those things. I guess I would call important relatives on their birthdays, and service people to make appointments.”

    I have decided in my recent curmudgeonly days (like over the last 5 years, maybe longer) that the phone is a wonderful outgoing device. I might answer your call if I have you in my phone as a contact and I have time to talk with you now, or if I am expecting your call, or if you’re one of about 10 specific people in the world whose calls I will always answer.

    And, please, if you do call me and I do not answer, text (or txt) or email me what you want if it’s important we ‘discuss’ (whatever method) something right now; those I’ll see quickly. Otherwise, I’ll get to your voicemail soon enough on my schedule (unless you are one of the above 10, then I’ll make a point of checking). About 1/2 of my 10, all guys including my kids, fully embrace this approach to voice communications.

  87. “twinkle blood of a hundred fagen’s”

    Somehow that manages to seem both supernatural and antisemitic.

  88. Speaking of antisemitic. What’s up with The Donald’s tweet about Jon Stewart?

  89. “It sure seems like you do :-)”

    bah.
    I wanted to find a .gif of Livia Soprano giving that exasperated brush off gesture, but no dice.

    I see HM and Mooshi’s point about the initial internet being more revolutionary, and I agree that while texting is nice, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. However, I would say that the evolution of greater bandwidth is important for more than just eliminating the video rental store. I think it helped revolutionize (and really created a whole new level of) the serial television drama (e.g. Sopranos, although this was before Netflix Streaming, but it was helped by DVD box sets and cable on demand). Of course most Totebaggers watch very little TV (if any), but I love it. Freed from the previous constraints of 21 minutes of content of a story that should generally stand independent of the preceding episode, television has become a higher art form than movies, imo.

  90. PTM, the side of the door the bullet entered will be indented and the side of the door that it exited will slightly stick out. Run your finger over both sides and the rough side is the exit side.

  91. “Looking at the front door, I asked innocently if the bullet hole in the door came from the inside or the outside.”

    I’m no forensic scientist, but you could probably just look at it and determine that for yourself, no? :)

  92. Speaking of Trump, it appears that earlier reports of the Speaker’s endorsement were premature. Maybe John Miller called the press. But I enjoyed this analysis of the matter:

    As Fox News’ Capitol Hill maven, Chad Pergram, reported, Ryan will almost certainly cave, but would like a few more weeks of dignified distance before he bows.

    Ryan ought to just get it over with.

    If the speaker is looking for a comfortable day on which to endorse Trump – or, in the parlance of our times, “support his party’s nominee” – it surely would not be this one.

    Current discussions around Trump include the Republican nominee trafficking in discredited conspiracy theories about the suicide of a White House aide, Trump attacking a female, Hispanic, Republican governor in her home state and Trump under steady fire for refusing to release his tax returns, as Ryan’s 2012 running mate was forced to do.

    Those are all the kinds of things that Ryan asked Trump to temper in exchange for the speaker’s backing. Not going to happen.

    But there is not likely to be a great day for Ryan to go from being Trump curious to publicly identifying as pro-Trump. Trump’s strategy, after all, is to keep the media maelstrom roiling, and you don’t do that by having sobersided conversations about tax policy and school choice.

    It’s better now for Ryan to accept the truth: No terms offered, no quarter given. He and others are being frog-marched to the endorsement podium. One can rationalize, as Sen. Marco Rubio tried to do, to argue that Trump’s victory was some sort of freak occurrence beyond the boundaries of normal politics. But we know the truth: This is the new normal and the party and its leaders were defeated.

    Ryan’s anguish is understandable since he has envisioned himself as the conservative intellectual’s speaker. As he reads the withering words of perhaps the most influential thinker on the right today, Charles Murray, it no doubt pains Ryan to know that as a politician, his choices are not his own.

    I’d say that if Paul is looking for a way to get the endorsement over with and save face, he could do it now and claim that the report released today by the State Department Inspector General was the tipping point.

  93. Trump’s own words–the last part is political genius:

    “She had a little bad news today, as you know from some reports that came down. Not so good,” Trump told supporters. “Inspector general’s report — not good! But I want to run against Hillary. I just want to run against her.”

    Trump then said that he wasn’t sure if he would ultimately be able to, noting that he might have to run against Sen. Bernie Sanders, who he’s deemed “crazy.” He also floated that the Democrats might try to “slip” Vice President Joe Biden into the race and into a general election contest instead of Sanders if something happens to Clinton.

    “Look, I don’t know if you’re going to be able to. It could be that we’re going to run against crazy Bernie. That could be. He’s a crazy man, but that’s okay. We like crazy people,” Trump said. “I hear they want to put Biden in. I hear they’re actually going to slip Joe Biden in, and he’s going to take Bernie’s place.”

    Trump then argued again that “the system is rigged against Bernie — 100 percent.”

  94. Rhett – I read that this morning, and agreed with the incredulous commenters who pointed out that he makes no mention of the constant Clinton scandals perpetuated by half truths and the way that they always seem to operate outside of the law, even when there’s no apparent good reason to do so.

    It’s a weak theory. And what hobbies did Obama ever have?

  95. Of course, if the repeated attacks on Sen Clinton (or from the opposing point of view, one or more of her faults – venality/ criminality, wooden personality, party baggage, wall st ties, hawkishness. elitism) lead to the election of a complete loose cannon beholden to no one, we will be in extremely uncharted territory as a nation. The last time a nativist movement had real political clout, the Know Nothings of the 1850s. they took control of several states, most notably Massachusetts, and many cities. The “American Party” arose out of the demise of the Whig party where the rank and file white Protestants were equally disgusted with the merchants and bankers running the whig party and the Catholic immigrants taking their jobs and rising to power in the Democratic party.

    The party foundered, oddly enough, on the issue of slavery. Massachusetts zealots were anti slavery, in favor of the rights of women, and mostly dry, all while firing all immigrant Catholics from state government and replacing them with native born Protestants and passing legislation requiring Catholic immigrant children to read the Protestant Bible in school. Southern Know Nothings had a different agenda. In many places where they came to power, all immigrants were barred from public sector jobs.

    Abraham Lincoln wrote privately to a friend.

    I am not a Know-Nothing — that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

  96. And what hobbies did Obama ever have?

    Basketball and golf it said it right in the article.

  97. “WTF does a programmable thermostat have to do with shivering?”

    I would think that the cause and effect would be readily apparent.

    It’s becoming apparent that you can’t figure out how to program one.

  98. “becoming apparent that you can’t figure out how to program one.”

    Well that goes without saying.

  99. “report released today by the State Department Inspector General was the tipping point.”
    You mean the one that says lack of security has been a problem with the last few Secretaries of State, not just Clinton? This is relatively new technology; some people were using it in the early 90s, most of us a few years later, and protocols for accepted use are much more recent than that. If they want to haul Clinton onto the carpet, they have to go back at least as far as Powell.

  100. And of course, the copious research that finds that assertive women are judged harshly compared to me wouldn’t be relevant to people’s perceptions of Clinton? I was suprised that David Brooks totally missed that one.
    http://fortune.com/2014/08/26/performance-review-gender-bias/
    http://thecareerist.typepad.com/thecareerist/2011/10/women-associates-get-lower-scores-on-reviews.html
    https://psmag.com/beyond-bossy-or-brilliant-gender-bias-in-student-evaluations-of-teaching-97cc72b0a621#.xi4ih9352

    Just as Obama has constantly battled coded racism, I think Clinton is dealing with a lot of subconscious sexism

  101. Here is my pet theory. We are on the cusp
    of a party realignment. Due to Trump, the republicans will become the party of populism and the democrats being the party of elitism.

  102. I can’t even repost it because it says it is a duplicate post. But it isn’t here. Aargh

  103. MM, change something (like, add “trying again” at beginning) and then try posting again.

  104. “My cousin is the exact opposite – she will not, under any circumstances, answer a text.
    That’s just obnoxious. She would be dead to me.”

    My kids’ phone plans do not include unlimited texting. When we got them phones, we made it clear that they were primarily for communicating with DW and me. We provided them well over enough minutes/texts for that, so if they ran out of minutes, they’d need to pay to add more.

    Some of their friends apparently had a hard time understanding the concept of a phone plan without unlimited texting, and they had to work pretty hard to train their friends. DD in particular had friends who liked to do things like take four texts to send one sentence, and to text random nonsense.

  105. Powell didn’t operate exclusively from a private server.

    But it matters little at this point. One thing I’ve noticed lately, and I’ve been addicted to political news from all sides, is that just like in the GOP primary, Trump is controlling every story. It’s his attack, and then whether the Clintons want to respond or not. Are you a rapist? Well, people can decide that for themselves. Hillary can’t figure out how to get off defense, and when she tries, even the liberal news sources preface or qualify the reports of her attack with an explanation that it’s a “new line of attack that Hillary is trying in order to find something that sticks.” That essentially neuters the attack.

    Trump is controlling the terms.

  106. I think PTM was trying to get maximum negotiating leverage by forcing the agents to acknowledge a defect. Or he was being a smart-ass, by asking a question to which he knew the answer.

  107. “Due to Trump, the republicans will become the party of populism and the democrats being the party of elitism.”

    It was already going that way; Trump just turbocharged it.

  108. When we got them phones, we made it clear that they were primarily for communicating with DW and me. We provided them well over enough minutes/texts for that, so if they ran out of minutes, they’d need to pay to add more.

    #dumpstertunics

  109. “Here is my pet theory. We are on the cusp of a party realignment. ”

    Yes. DS and I were discussing this last week, that one good thing Trump might do is to cause the R party to blow up and isolate some of the recalcitrants like the tea partiers and extreme conservatives.

    Not so sure that the Dems implode even if Trump wins. They screwed up by trying to coronate Hillary, but correcting that won’t require a party implosion.

  110. Finn: Why not get unlimited texting and calling? It’s not that much, especially under a family plan. This seems like a telecom version of “half a cookie”.

  111. Milo, what would I know with bullet holes?! I am the only one in Florida that doesn’t have a gun and hopes to go his entire lifetime (I have a good “shot” at it) without ever shooting a gun.

    WCE, that is useful information. It looks like the shot came from the inside. I should have asked, “Um, is there a back door here?”

  112. I see MM and HM’s point about the 90’s vs the 80’s. But I disagree that smartphones are just an evolution. Having a computer this powerful in the pockets of the majority of people is more than just an evolution. Used almost anywhere and anytime. The way it has changed the way people behave, travel, socialize, etc – I think it’s more than just an evolution from Usenet boards and Gopher. (and I think it is something like 2/3rd of adults who have a smartphone)

  113. Powell didn’t operate exclusively from a private server

    I believe the inspetor’s report said he did use personal email exclusively.

  114. “Due to Trump, the republicans will become the party of populism and the democrats being the party of elitism.”

    If that happens, the establishment Rs may well take their campaign donor lists and create another party.

  115. Mad Dog, I was entirely serious. If a wife were killing her husband, it would be one thing. If it were a drive by shooting it would be another. I don’t want to knowingly move into a war zone.

  116. http://wonkette.com/602246/confirmed-hillary-is-sleaziest-email-criminal-since-colin-powell

    Indeed, the report’s conclusion cites “longstanding, systemic weaknesses” in electronic record-keeping “that go well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state.”

    In a statement, the State Department said the agency “could have done a better job preserving emails and records of Secretaries of State and their senior staff going back several administrations.”

    “We also acknowledge the report’s finding that compliance with email and records management guidance has been inconsistent across several administrations,” it said.

  117. PTM: Negotiating leverage. Very wily. Your innocent, clueless façade does not fool me. Besides, didn’t you live in NYC in the late 80s/early 90s?

  118. With What’s App and iMessage, do you even need unlimited texts anymore? Although unlimited text plans are pretty cheap. We have unlimited text & talk because those two items have gotten cheaper & cheaper to the point that it doesn’t make sense to get anything else since it’s part of the most overall economical package for our needs. It’s data that’s expensive now.

  119. “Why not get unlimited texting and calling?”

    Mainly being cheap, and not wanting to spoil the kids. We also wanted to get prepaid plans to limit our risk to the prepaid amounts.

    “It’s not that much, especially under a family plan.”

    What’s the cheapest unlimited plan you know of? We will probably move DS to an unlimited plan before he leaves; we don’t want him to use limited minutes/texts as a reason for not keeping in contact with us. OTOH, if he goes somewhere with good wifi, and he’ll be spending most of his time on campus, we may get him a plan that has unlimited talk and text over wifi, and a limit on cell minutes/texts.

  120. Finn: Why not get unlimited texting and calling? It’s not that much, especially under a family plan. This seems like a telecom version of “half a cookie”.

    The fiscal/budgetary version of a dessert tomato is a dumpster tunic.

  121. “With What’s App and iMessage, do you even need unlimited texts anymore? ”

    My kids use iMessage with their iPods over wifi, and have trained their friends to text them that way instead of using up their cell minutes.

  122. MM — I cleared your comment. More than 2 links goes to the spam bucket.

    I agree that smartphones have been revolutionary.

    Giving John Stewart’s original name is antisemitic? Or just suggesting he’s more of an entertainer/showman/comedian than a smart thought leader that should be trusted?

  123. At ATT, unlimited text was $15 and regular limited text was $5 per line (per month). At 3 lines (at the time) there was no financial difference in selecting unlimited text. Now that bundled family packages are offered, I haven’t done the math.

  124. Rhett – I have not seen an indication that Powell brazenly transmitted information that was classified or should have been marked classified other than in a very few, presumably accidental exceptions.

    And again, look what we’re talking about: more Clinton weaseling. Note that we’re not talking about minimum wage or equal pay legislation or abortion college affordability or any of the topics Democrats want to talk about. If Trump continues like this for the next six months, and he is going to attack “bigly,” he’ll have fired up the base and either convinced enough of the middle that they want no part of Crooked Hillary that they’ll either vote for Trump to shake up Washington, or just stay home. And that includes many of Sanders’ Independents.

  125. Tee, hee, Mad Dog. Yeah, I was in NYC in the late 70s, 80s and most of the 90s. Some parts of it were dicey. Rudy and Michael turned all that around, but stupidly I wouldn’t have voted for them. But it is, and always has been, the only place in the world. Every other place is a poor substitute.

    We do get more cautious as we get older don’t we? I also worry about Junior more than myself.

    For myself, I think it would be great for my obituary to read, “PTM, formerly prominent attorney, died this morning in a hail of gunfire as he imbibed first Coors Light of the day.”

  126. “Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz on November 28, 1962,[10][11] in New York City, to Marian (née Laskin), a teacher and later educational consultant,[10] and Donald Leibowitz (died June 8, 2013), a professor of physics at The College of New Jersey and Thomas Edison State College.[12][13] Stewart’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus (thus also making him a Litvak Jew); one of his grandfathers was born in Manzhouli (now part of Inner Mongolia).[14] Stewart is the second of four sons, with older brother Lawrence[15] and younger brothers Dan and Matthew.[13]

    Stewart’s parents divorced when Stewart was eleven years old, and Stewart was apparently largely estranged from his father.[10] Because of his strained relationship with his father, which in 2015 he described as “still ‘complicated'”, he dropped his surname and began using his middle name, Stuart. Stewart stated, “There was a thought of using my mother’s maiden name, but I thought that would be just too big a fuck you to my dad…Did I have some problems with my father? Yes. Yet people always view [changing my surname] through the prism of ethnic identity.”[16] He had his surname legally changed to Stewart in 2001.[17] Stewart and his brother Lawrence, who was previously the Chief Operating Officer of NYSE Euronext (parent company of the New York Stock Exchange),[15][18] grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where they attended Lawrence High School.[10] According to Stewart, he was subjected to anti-Semitic bullying as a child.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Stewart

  127. “At ATT, unlimited text was $15 and regular limited text was $5 per line (per month). At 3 lines (at the time) there was no financial difference in selecting unlimited text. Now that bundled family packages are offered, I haven’t done the math.”

    Exactly. Whatever the specifics were the last time checked (usually once a year or so), the unlimited plan shared across lines was cheaper than the limited plan with a suitable amount of data included in the bundle.

    But I don’t send many actual text messages – most of mine are iMessages because most people that I text with use iMessage. Or What’s App which I use to keep group chats going with friends from all over. Some also use Facebook Messenger like my monthly brunch group.

    PTM – I love your descriptions. I think that would be a fabulous epitaph.

  128. No, CoC you are correct. His given name according to Wikipedia is Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. However, if you don’t understand why the Trump twitter feed’s comment is not innocuous I can’t explain it to you.

  129. Giving John Stewart’s original name is antisemitic?

    Certainly. There have been movies made where the main character was outed as a Jew by the reveling of his ancestral name.

  130. brazenly

    Oh, yes
    That woman made brazen overtures
    With a gilt-edged guarantee
    She had a golden glint in her eye
    And a silver voice with a counterfeit ring

    Just melt her down and you’ll reveal
    A lump of lead as cold as steel
    Here, where a woman’s heart should be!

  131. “At ATT, unlimited text was $15 and regular limited text was $5 per line (per month)”

    Is that a marginal cost, above a base cost to have service in the first place?

    The plan we got them was $100/year for 1000 minutes/texts.

  132. Apparently one problem Hillary ran into with using her own server and non-government email address was that a lot of the email she sent to state department employees was considered spam by their filters.

  133. I can’t help but chuckle at the electronic half cookie. I am all for giving DS a phone but DH is holding out and wants to give DS an old phone (#dumpstertunics). I remember Houston saying that she gave her DS the latest phone and he turned out just fine. I am for giving people the whole cookie.

  134. Good old John Stewart, the darling of smug progressives who characterized Hillary as a “bright woman without the courage of her convictions.”

  135. He’s not my darling. And he’s not that progressive. Smug, yes.

  136. Because you’re not smug.

    Oh, I think you’re wrong about that, she said with a complacent smile.

  137. Maybe we should have an Election 2016 tab so that those who want to argue politics can keep up a running conversation without turning the main post into political squabbling for the next 5 months. We could still have the occasional political post for the main daily post, but other times when someone wants to talk about the political development du jour, it would go in the Election thread.

    What do you think?

  138. I like HM’s idea too.
    But till the tab is created…. my question is why were any government employees allowed to use personal email for official communication ?
    In my private jobs we were not allowed to use personal email way back when. The main issue at the time apart from data security were computer viruses.
    So, I would say starting in 2001 with the Bush Administration the rules should have very clear. I am amazed at the use of private email.

  139. E.g., every universal remote known to man — sure, it’s easier to keep track of one item instead of 3-4, but the tradeoff is extra keystrokes every single time I use it to get to the device I want. I’d rather just pick up the remote and push one button.

    You haven’t bought a good one because that’s exactly how mine works. I push the TV button on mine and it turns on everything you need to watch TV with the correct settings. Another button sets up the DVD player. Another does the xbox.

  140. I think the idea that Tulip mentions – that good design engenders trust – is really interesting. Last year I bought a mattress from Casper and a couch from Joybird – large internet purchases with companies I only knew through their websites. However, good design (not the product, but the presentation) totally sold me both times.

  141. I was thinking about the Frugalwoods today. They have a lot of land but it need not be a farm. For example – lotions/soap/bath gel business would sound great with a marketing pitch like “Hand made in Vermont”. And with a small snippet of how they are pursuring the idyllic life while making soap.

  142. “Maybe we should have an Election 2016 tab ”

    Are you thinking of a page that can be anchored to the blog header? Or a separate post? Or simply a tag? (Without going into boring detail, in WordPress terminology a “post” is different from a “page”. But page comments do not show up in the sidebar.) I also like the general idea and will set it up if you explain a little more.

    “However, if you don’t understand why the Trump twitter feed’s comment is not innocuous I can’t explain it to you.”

    I didn’t say or did not mean to suggest that comment is innocuous, and I understand why some consider it anti-Semitic. Trump is certainly cagey and offensive, breaking the rules but apparently continuing to win supporters. Part of his appeal is the oversized reaction to the idea that our “smart” progressive politicians know what’s best for the country because ordinary people lack the understanding to know what’s good for them. And also the view that our “smart” politicians are every bit as dastardly as Trump is believed to be. So voters more than ever feel they’re choosing the lesser of two evils. What a crazy campaign!

  143. “Part of his appeal is the oversized reaction to the idea that our “smart” progressive politicians know what’s best for the country because ordinary people lack the understanding to know what’s good for them.”

    Yep. And now we’re going to have a debate between Trump and Sanders before CA. For a worthy charity, of course.

    Watch how warm and nice Trump is to Sanders, and sympathetic to how the DNC rigged the game against him. Clinton is going to be fuming. This is enough to turn Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s hair straight!

    What a fun election.

  144. Milo – it’s like a movie script on both sides – underdog hero battles evil empire !

  145. Can I just go crawl under a rock for the next 4 years or whatever? I am beyond sad and depressed. I am honestly starting to think that the Great American Experiment is over.

  146. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years, we’re past the typical “shelf life”

  147. Mooshi – he’s unconventional as a politician, but in practice, he’s certainly no ideologue. He’s a modern day Andrew Jackson.

  148. but I did think I heard the 200 year thing from a reputable source before

  149. I am sorry, but I don’t get why everyone is debating the ins and outs of proper email protocol in the State Department, when Trump has so many ethical issues. Past problems are being dug up every day, only to be ignored while we worry about email servers. Today’s dirt – Trump used fake names when doing business deals. Last week, there was a lengthy article in Politico about his Mafia ties. And then there was the NY Daily News article that discussed how he had inappropriately taken 9/11 relief money and turned a profit on it. I agree that Hillary Clinton didn’t handle email very well, but when are people going to turn the same level of attention to Trump’s MANY lapses in ethics? He isn’t getting held to the same standard.

  150. Andrew Jackson was one of the most evil presidents we ever had, so you aren’t giving me much comfort.

  151. didn’t know this
    During the election, Jackson’s opponents referred to him as a “jackass”. Jackson liked the name and used the jackass as a symbol for a while, but it died out. However, it later became the symbol for the Democratic Party when cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized it.[38]

  152. Mooshi – because trump’s don’t even begin to compare to Hillary selling State Department influence to foreign entities in exchange for Clinton “charity” donations.

    That’s a lot more scary than someone using a fake name in a private real estate deal.

  153. “He isn’t getting held to the same standard.”

    He wasn’t Secretary of State.

  154. MM – it is because Trump supporters don’t care. They don’t care that he says bigoted things. They don’t care that he is a misogynist. They don’t care that he is a shady person. I find the Trump supporters far more dangerous than Trump himself. He will eventually blow himself up. But Trump supporters are here to stay.

  155. I like the tab idea. CoC – is there a way to make a tab on the main page of the totebag so that the politics/election page is next to the 30 day challenge one?

  156. I am really really judging Trump supporters and defenders. Even more so than Trump. It certainly says more about his supporters who are lapping up what Trump is purportedly offering. I find them all distasteful. You might support Trump on certain issues, but if your support is on wide ranging issues so as to defend him, then something is wrong there. All of them are unashamedly perpetuating weird and false conspiracy theories.

  157. “I am really really judging Trump supporters and defenders.”

    For what, specifically?

    As one commenter put it trying to explain his success, many of his supporters have a feeling of “yeah, Trump is a jerk, but he’s *our* jerk.”

    And the Clintons deserve every bit of it.

  158. Yeah, I don’t find this fun. The only way this election is fun is if you believe you have nothing to lose no matter who wins. That assumption rests on a lot of privilege. (And I have plenty of privilege myself to rest on. I’ll likely be fine if Trump wins, but lots of people I care about are already not fine with what he’s stirring up, and that’s appalling to me.)

  159. And the Clintons deserve every bit of it.

    For what specifically? I remember Bill’s second term… it was a golden age of peace and prosperity.

  160. WCE – interesting Atlantic article link. I’ve been reading Jean Auel’s Earth mother series and the current book is all about spiritual caves and the drawings in them.

  161. Hilary and Trump are both unethical and distasteful to me but I do understand Trump supporters (they want change) and so they’re willing to look paste the unethical/distasteful part.

  162. “For what specifically?”

    Oh, where to even begin…. The worst, lately, is the selling of influence and favor for personal enrichment.

    Tulip – What do you see going wrong, and for whom, if Trump wins?

  163. The worst, lately, is the selling of influence and favor for personal enrichment.

    And? It’s not like it lead to war or economic collapse.

  164. I haven’t seen anything about the “selling of influence and favor for personal enrichment” beyond slanted press insinuations. (I also think every single politician we know “sells influence” and the context matters a lot there.)

    Muslim friends are seeing increasing amounts of bias and animus. My US-Citizen (family in Mexico) babysitter has seen the same. Many, many others. His rhetoric has already emboldened a lot of people who seem to think it’s now acceptable to let their racism show.

  165. I see a lot of things going wrong with a President Trump because he doesn’t understand the basics of government, is quick to anger and takes everything personally. He is like a mean middle school bully who hasn’t grown up.

    One thing I would actually really like is when he abandons all of his base supporters and nothing changes for them. Because you know he doesn’t believe most of what he says.

  166. “It’s not like it lead to war or economic collapse.”

    The thing is that some of us are fed up with the idea that the laws governing the rest of us don’t apply to those at the top. And more than anyone else, the Clintons embody the belief that the laws don’t apply to them.

  167. Milo,

    Honest question putting aside your obvious loathing – who would you think would be a more able administrator for the next four years: Hillary or Donald?

  168. Milo, for starters, Trump is fomenting hate and people are lapping it up. Even if there is personal gain, Clintons are out to make money for themselves not creating hate among people. Trump may or may not care about illegal immigrants, but he is enabling all those who simply hate and were waiting for someone to open the door and embolden them. SO yes, I judge.

  169. “’I am really really judging Trump supporters and defenders.’

    For what, specifically?”

    Because his primary qualification for office is that he has zero qualifications whatsoever.

    In the eternal words of H.L. Mencken:

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    I’m surprised that you’d be surprised at this response, given our audience here — Trump is fundamentally the anti-Totebag candidate. He is all about bluster and show and power and self-aggrandizement; he’s the 6th grader who calls another kid “retard” and sniggers at how hysterical he is. We talk about dessert tomatoes and whether the economics have now shifted to the point that it makes sense to (gasp) buy a new car — and we try to do it civilly, without namecalling or personal attacks.

    I get the appeal of the outsider; I get the turnoff that some people feel about the so-called “liberal elite,” that sense of we-know-better-than-you condescension (I don’t personally feel it, as I’m part of that group, but I can hear the words and see the expressions and understand how it could be taken that way). What I don’t get is how this guy has managed to sell himself as the voice of the common man — he’s not exactly Mr. Smith heading off to Washington with a head full of ideals. I get the message, but not the chosen messenger.

  170. Milo, can you point me to where you’re getting that from?

  171. “who would you think would be a more able administrator for the next four years: Hillary or Donald?”

    unknown. And I really don’t see the President doing a lot of administering. Furthermore, on what grounds has Hillary proven herself a capable administrator?

  172. “I get the appeal of the outsider; I get the turnoff that some people feel about the so-called “liberal elite,” that sense of we-know-better-than-you condescension ”

    Then that’s really all there is. You don’t feel it because, like you said, you consider yourself part of it.

    Rocky – I don’t mean this sarcastically, but were you asking for an example like the NYT article?

  173. What also gets me is that Trump supporters say it is a reaction against Hillary. No! You guys had a full slate of potential nominees. Some of whom are actually qualified and probably know how a bill becomes a law and are not assholes. You could have picked Kasich. Or Jeb! Or even Rubio. But you didn’t. You came out full force for Trump and defend his actions. It doesn’t speak well of the group.

  174. “Milo – you think Trump thinks the laws governing the rest of us apply to him? Please.”

    I’m sure there are examples where he doesn’t, maybe, but that’s different as a private citizen. In any case, 1) it can’t be possibly be worse than the Clintons; 2) at least he’s a fresh face.

  175. “No! You guys had a full slate of potential nominees.”

    Well, I voted for Kasich. But if Trump’s the nominee, Trump’s my guy.

    You could have voted for O’Malley.

  176. “And I really don’t see the President doing a lot of administering.”

    The incumbent is doing a lot of administering by fiat. Clinton would certainly continue in that “I know what’s good for you” mode — not sure whether Trump would do the same. He certainly comes across as someone who thinks he knows best on many topics, but he has also repeatedly claimed that he is willing to negotiate.

  177. “Clintons are out to make money for themselves not creating hate among people.”

    There’s no high ground for the Clintons here. In our polarized politics, both sides are absolutely about creating hate. Anyone who questions any progressive initiative could not possibly have a legitimate disagreement, but must be a backwards bigot homophobic misogynistic jingoistic hick. Even holding the same position that Obama was elected on (twice) makes that person a homophobic bigot.

    So get off your high horse about Trump creating hate.

  178. things have changed a lot since 2008, gay marriage is legal in all 50 states now

    I agree that Trump creates hate

  179. Do you really not see a difference in what Trump does re: hate v what others do? Seriously?! My mind is blown.

  180. We may have to define what we’re referring to. Are we talking about the obviously hateful promises to more strictly enforce existing immigration laws?

  181. I am super comfy here on my high horse thank you very much!

    One is creating hate for people and the other for their thoughts and actions that may harm other people. Apples and Oranges. I know there is no changing minds of Trump supporters.

  182. “One is creating hate for people and the other for their thoughts and actions that may harm other people.”

    So it’s perfectly acceptable to create hate against a group of people if you disagree with their beliefs?

  183. The thing is that some of us are fed up with the idea that the laws governing the rest of us don’t apply to those at the top.

    What other examples are you thinking of?

  184. “What other examples are you thinking of?”

    Sexual assault and subsequent cover-up, multiple times spanning decades. Sexual relationships with a workplace subordinate that would get any lesser leader or executive fired.

  185. “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    Said another way “No one will go broke underestimating the wisdom of the American public.” (PTBarnum)

  186. “Sexual relationships with a workplace subordinate that would get any lesser leader or executive fired.”

    You are talking about Trump right?

  187. This is why we need to have a separate feed. I want to engage Milo in discussions about programmable thermostats with a friendly poke back and forth. Not politics.

    I don’t discuss this extraordinary election with my local acquaintances at all. It is just too fraught. For those who live in MA, the Democrat will likely get the electoral votes, so I don’t really have any reason to use up social capital or tarnish friendships because of someone’s political choices – whether on the left/populist side they have decided that Clinton is the greater evil and they assume Trump’s election will lead to the demise of our current system of government in favor of a new dawn or whether on the right/ populist side they don’t mind that Trump has whipped up nativist frenzy either because they figure the hurt will not reach their families and friends or because they think he doesn’t mean what he says.

  188. People like Trump because he doesn’t have to apologize, or pretend-he is who he is, without a lot of make believe posturing to appease the masses. Refreshing to be who you are with no apologies -instead of the fake-ass politicians who say what people want to hear, not what they really feel

  189. meme – I want the tab, too, just to discuss the day-to-day updates. I’ve never been this obsessed with an election, although 2000 was a distant second.

    Until then, at least we’re on the day-after thread.

    For the most part, I don’t take discussions personally. Trump is a boorish loudmouth, so I’m not emotionally invested in him. While I loathe the Clintons, I certainly wouldn’t claim to “judge” their supporters. Both candidates are flawed, and people arrive at their political preferences for all sorts of reasons, and I don’t think we can fully understand why we, ourselves, choose one over the other. We justify it with various arguments, but I think there’s something more visceral that often dictates it.

  190. Rhett, that was funny, but I wish they hadn’t posted my picture from the Trump rally on March 13.

  191. Sexual assault and subsequent cover-up, multiple times spanning decades. Sexual relationships with a workplace subordinate that would get any lesser leader or executive fired.

    No, you said people were fed up with folks at the top thinking laws don’t apply to them. Other than the Clintons, what examples were you thinking of.

  192. “No, you said people were fed up with folks at the top thinking laws don’t apply to them. Other than the Clintons, what examples were you thinking of.”

    Let me jump in….

    I have to pay worker’s comp, minimum wage, unemployment, social security on all our employees. If you have the right story, e.g. Joel Salatin, you can call your unpaid workers, “interns” and all employment law fall away because you are one of the right people.

    OSHA regulations do not apply to state governments.

    The California legislature has its very own DMW office only for the legislators and their staff.

    The IRS can target conservative groups with no consequences.

  193. The IRS can target conservative groups with no consequences.

    What?

    Barack Obama fired the most senior tax official in the US on Wednesday in an effort to bring a speedy end to a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party organisations and other conservative groups for special scrutiny.

  194. ” It’s not like it lead to war or economic collapse.”

    Didn’t the Clintons push for increased home ownership lead to lowering of lending standards? I suppose what that led to wasn’t total economic collapse.

  195. “Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the Department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges,” he continued.

    So, you think that’s false?

  196. Didn’t the Clintons push for increased home ownership lead to lowering of lending standards?

    Not on their watch, no.

  197. “Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the Department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges,” he continued.

    So, you think that’s false?

    Yes,

    And I’m not a Trump supporter.

  198. Rhett – On the Republican side, Bob McDonnell comes to mind. There was also the story–barely noticed because it’s just so commonplace–of John Warner promising lucrative job opportunities to a state senator’s daughter if he decided not to resign:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2555303

    Now our governor is under investigation based on donations he solicited during his time working at–big surprise here–the Clintons’ foundation.

  199. “Didn’t the Clintons push for increased home ownership lead to lowering of lending standards?

    Not on their watch, no.”

    Hmmm…

    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.html

    Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

  200. also…

    In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

  201. So let’s see, your two examples, the economic collapse and the war in Iraq. One she helped initiate (and has recently promised to put Bill “in charge of the economy, because you know he’s really good at that sort of thing”) and the other she voted for.

    Now she can’t even figure out how to comply with email rules, and that’s the most charitable explanation instead of something far more sinister.

    Forgive me for not being blown away by her legendary administrative expertise.

  202. “What also gets me is that Trump supporters say it is a reaction against Hillary. No! You guys had a full slate of potential nominees.”

    As opposed to the Dems, who opened the door for Bernie by not putting out a full slate of potential nominees.

    I think if the Dems had a stronger field of candidates, they would’ve gobbled up a lot of the media attention that ended up going to the Rs, and Trump wouldn’t have gotten as much attention.

  203. “I think if the Dems had a stronger field of candidates”

    Why wasn’t O’Malley a strong candidate? He was running for President for a long time. I remember going to a graduation at my alma mater that he attended and I thought that it was rare for the governor of Maryland to be there, but Obama was the speaker so he was sucking up. (not saying that’s the only thing he did to run, just an observation)

  204. Milo,

    I mean the crisis didn’t occur on their watch, it occurred after 8 years of republican economic mismanagement.

  205. “As opposed to the Dems, who opened the door for Bernie by not putting out a full slate of potential nominees. ”

    Bernie and Trump are feeding off of the same anti-Establishment resentment. I think the media, and even we Totebaggers, pay way too much attention to candidates’ positions on specific issues and ignore the more crucial messaging, imaging and personality. So the two of them are really the same sort of candidate. Trump beat 17 potential nominees. Therefore, I don’t see how the Dems offering 10 more Martin O’Malleys or Lincoln Chaffes would have closed the door to Sanders. If anything, it might have caused him to win the nomination, like Trump, because it would have cost Hillary votes.

  206. “it occurred after 8 years of republican economic mismanagement.”

    By economic mismanagement, you mean continuing the policies of the Clinton Administration?

  207. “I don’t see how the Dems offering 10 more Martin O’Malleys or Lincoln Chaffes would have closed the door to Sanders. If anything, it might have caused him to win the nomination, like Trump, because it would have cost Hillary votes.”

    Milo, every once in a while on a non-technical matter (where you are an expert) you hit the nail straight on.

  208. By economic mismanagement, you mean continuing the policies of the Clinton Administration?

    Yup. At least the democrats saw the error of their ways.

  209. “Milo, every once in a while on a non-technical matter (where you are an expert) you hit the nail straight on.”

    Like they say about a broken clock…

    And I was totally blindsided by Trump. Like everyone else, I thought he was a joke. And my math was that he would never be any voter’s second choice, so it was just a matter of time. I also figured that in 2012 we’d gone through frontrunners of Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and probably a few more; there was a long history of early frontrunners getting nowhere. Wesley Clark, Pat Buchannan, Paul Tsongas, Howard Dean. On the other hand, John Kerry and John McCain were both longshots.

    Of course, you were certain it would be Jeb! all along, so I’m in good company.

    And then Trump just kept on winning and never lost the frontrunner status. He’s inspiring.

  210. “you were certain it would be Jeb! all along, so I’m in good company.”

    Yes. I didn’t give the republicans enough credit. (Mind you, I am a registered republican.) I did think Jeb! would win because it was simply inconceivable that he would not. I’m sure the Bush family and the donors to his $120M campaign fund thought that too. He is astoundingly bad!

    But then we had that little twit Marco hanging around! Truly a man who has never had a thought that makes any sense whatsoever. He thinks the earth is 6000 years old and thinks the answer to climate change is more storm sewers. (Look, dummy. The sea water in Florida is rising from the porous (sp?) limestone foundation upon which we sit. The water is coming up through the storm drains, not going down them!)

    So, of course, I voted for Trump in the primary. Junior and I treasure our Trump t-shirts.

    Hillary, who I have always liked, I thought would trounce Trump. I think I’m wrong again.

  211. I guess a good corollary to Yogi Berra’s famous line about predictions is that it’s easy to predict something after it’s already happened.

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