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It may be just a local phenomena. Mormon’s don’t drink coffee.  The story for years was that it was because of the caffeine. I understand that recently the reason has been reestablished as no “hot drinks”, which was how it was originally written. Although for years folk in Utah eschewed the Cola’s and other caffeine laden drinks despite them not being hot. Not because of the sugar content but, specifically, due to their caffeine.  Whatever…this is not a theological discussion but maybe a reason for fewer customers in Starbucks.

About two years ago, a new Starbucks was built, opening near me.  That was good because the one I had been going to kept weird hours. For awhile, they used to close randomly (maybe they were told they could close up if it was slow). I went there many evenings only to find they had closed earlier than the hour posted.  Later they just admitted defeat and started posting their close as an hour before all the other Starbucks in the area. Frustrating.

So, cool, a new Starbucks and even closer.  Except that many times I would go in and ask for a Venti coffee and they would not have any made. Typically this meant I’d have to wait while they brewed some.  Sometimes this was cool. Sometimes they would forget all about me after starting the brew and so I’d have to go chase down the elusive coffee, asking if it was done brewing yet?  I chalked this up as a new store getting their act together.  Annoying but not fatal since the wait is not usually a big deal.

Finally, the woman that I take to be the Manager, announced as she was getting my Venti, that going forward they would no longer brew coffee in the evenings. If I came in the evening they would make me a pour-over, which I can do at home just fine. Or they could make me an Americano, which always tastes watery to me and I have never liked.So i it is evening in Salt Lake and you want a coffee, you can save time by just going elsewhere.

I do like espresso and could probably do that once in awhile but I prefer brewed coffee.  I don’t like any of the flavor additives that Starbucks adds. They taste chemically to me. I don’t want all the calories from the other stuff they add, skim milk or sugar free caramel, etc.. I think people ask for them because they do not really like coffee, they just want the caffeine. I like the coffee just fine, black.

So I started going back to the store I previously visited. They were seldom out of coffee but I’d have to arrive by 7pm, since they close at 8pm (on Sundays they close at 7pm), if I want to drink my cup and read a bit before feeling like I am getting chased out because they want to close.  Sundays are usually Starbucks free since I have a hard time getting there before 7pm.

My preference is to have a cup or two after dinner.  It is additional after-dinner relaxation.  Sometimes I have time during the day to drink coffee, I am typically busy, so having more than a cuppa at breakfast just ain’t gonna happen, except rarely. If Starbucks were always open, I’d probably average 7 days a week.  As it is, I can only get there four or five days per week or less.

At this point, I think I will just switch to 7-11.  They have decent coffee and its cheaper, although they have nowhere to sit and read. At least I never have to worry about showing up and finding out they have closed early (all of my nearby 7-11’s are 24 hours a day).

It’s funny, when I was living in California, I lived a block away from Starbucks. I used to go in every morning and get a tray of four Venti’s. I would take them back home and nuke one every couple or three hours, so I could have coffee all day long.  I am old fashioned and like my coffee black. I guess I am just not able to change with the times. Although calling Starbucks a coffee store is probably a bit behind the times anyway. They seem to have updated into a Frappuccino store.  Nothing lasts forever.

For quite awhile, I have been thinking that Google’s Play Store is broken. It is the same for Amazon’s app store as well. The basic model for acquiring apps for android is broken. I imagine it is for Apple products as well but I have zero experience that model.

Every time I download an app to install, it gives me a list of “needs”. I have the option of installing the app or not.  I do not get detailed information about why the App “needs” these things.  I receive zero information about the use to which this permissions will be put.  I get no option to select some and not all of its needs.

A few days back, I had an app saying it required access to all of my GMail addresses.  I suspect that it wants access to identify “friends”. It probably did not want to sell them to spammers. However, I have no idea since it does not state a rationale. It would not allow me to exit. I’d try and it would pop right back up again. I finally killed it with another app. Needless to say, I uninstalled that app.

The app stores permissions need better descriptions or lists of bounding parameters. If I download the fubar app and choose not to let it access my camera, then I should be able to un-check that item. If it says it needs to access to my contacts list, then I should be presented with a rationale or list of uses. It would be perfectly fine if the App wants to squawk when I deny access and tell me what features I would lose without that permission. However, so far this is not an option. It is all or nothing. I find this an obnoxious, though quite not toxic, form of extortion Especially if the need is not an initial requirement but then is required for subsequent installs.  Funny how often upgrades come along not long after the app is initially installed.  I’ve seen where if the update with new permission requests is not granted, the older version ceases to work (because there is an upgrade available).

If you were unaware…I read a lot.  This has led me into an ethical quandary of sorts. The quandary derives with the request to rate everything. How many stars it should get.  The problem? I feel forced into developing two scales: one for Professionals and one for Amateurs.

If you have read an E-Book lately (I assume it holds for all of them), you will find a plea from the author to give them 5-stars so that they get good placement from the book-seller (Amazon, …). This will enable them to keep writing (and, hopefully, improving). I’d love to help them out. I may have really enjoyed their book. The dichotomy comes from using the same scale to rate books of brilliance and books that are entertaining.

If I give the master a 5, where does it leave an amateur? A 1?  That would be sheer death.  Even giving them a 4 could tank them, submerging them under even lesser works that happen to get one more 5. I suppose I could rate everything 5 that did not completely suck.

I’m still flummoxed over this mess. If you have an interesting solution, feel free to respond.

News Apps

My phone and tablet are Android devices.  My interests include reading a lot of News. Despite the dwindling number of foreign correspondents, I like to stay up on events all around the world and not just local. So I have had a number of News apps on both devices to keep me in touch with events.

There appears to be a trend in these apps toward prettifying.  The process includes adding a lot of white space and plopping in a lot of over-sized and different sized photos, Making the News apps more like Pinterest.  They are also hiding the sections (US, Local, World, Business, Politics, etc), eliminating them entirely or placing them off into a sub-menu.  This sucks.

ABC News was the first to become less than functional.  From a simple functional list, they introduced a tone of white space and buried their sections.

NBC  was my favorite app because it would come up in the section I had last visited, so I always exited out from the World News section.  Now it is a Pinterest looking app with sections all jumbled and not even findable (so far) on a sub-menu.

BBC News is usable. Not quite as accessible as the old versions of NBC and ABC which were originally tight lists of headlines under sections. Similarly Pulse.

CNN is the last bastion of functional News apps. I expect it will also disintegrate.

CBS is not too bad other than they keep popping-up annoying video adverts and moving the close button to unlikely places so I must watch at least the first 400 milliseconds.  Their Breaking News service is pretty good, although this wire-feed includes many topics I could care less about.

Hey News folks!  Pretty is fine but on a small screen, limited time and bandwidth, functional wins hands down. If I want to look at pretty pictures, I’ll go to Pinterest.

Cougar Dating

Spam is fascinating. It is so often way off the mark. It seems like spammers really ought to learn about Market Research and target their markets more effectively.

I keep getting weird spam. Tonight was another one offering me Cougar Dating.  So just what does this mean to me?  I am 60 years old (or nearly). So are the Cougars 80+ and looking for a younger man? Or is this the 30 to 40 year-old that is willing to relinquish their quest for 18 to 28 year-olds? Or what?  I wonder….

Radio

Several years ago, the radio station I listened to here in Salt Lake was devoted to 24 hours of BBC News.  Although they repeated frequently, that was a far better station than most. They under went a format change and disappeared. Whatever the case, BBC News ceased to be 24 hours and appears to only be on from midnight to five am via KCPW and KUER.

24/7 News Radio suits me perfectly. I will gladly even endure them repeating the same half hour cycles over and over, although it would be far better if they were live and non-repeating.

My idea of radio is one of immediacy.  Turn on the radio…Bam! You know exactly what is going on in the world.  I appreciate in-depth, informed analysis by experts or pundits. I realize the economics of that may require some repetition. That is fine.  I can live with that.  Just don’t take call-in questions. Concisely formulated questions by experienced interviewers are far better than those random questions phoned in by random listeners. I think Radio is best when it gives me up to the minute news and very current analysis from all sides of whatever equation.

News radio appears to be dead. That is a sad state. My option to stay informed is via my phone. I read news when I have Wi-Fi access. Radio has a wasted opportunity. I sincerely doubt that I am unique in my interest. For some reason, this market is overlooked or ignored. That seems really odd to me.  I presume I must purchase digital radio in order to get some semblance of what I desire. There appears to be no way to get it here otherwise.

I could listen to a music station. But I really do not care for commercial radio.  I mostly listen to radio in my automobile. I tend to listen to independent artists via my computer when I am not in my car.  I could listen to talk shows but I find it difficult to not think of the host as a complete idiot after a few minutes.  I have converging-on-zero interest in people that call in to talk shows. Their only qualification is that they appear to like calling in and hearing themselves on talk radio.  Blech.

Put the talk shows with callers on another channel. It isn’t news. It is reaction to news. Let them talk and listen (or not) to their hearts content.
Game shows should be on their own station or on a podcast. There is no urgency in a game show.
Humor really needs to be separate. It is not particularly immediate even when it is current.  If I need cheering up, I can easily hit a button on the radio to go to some other station that specializes in humor.
Story programs (or drama) should be on some other channel or in podcasts. These are perfectly suited to an audio book format but not on my radio.

As for news, I am far more interested in National and International News than I am in listening to local politician’s harangues about how many liquor licenses are being added to this years quota.  I also do not consider Canadian News to be all that relevant, although one of the local public radio stations buys many Canadian programs. Listening to things relevant in Canada just does not seem as relevant in Utah.  If I lived in Canada I would be far more interested but I do not. Colorado news would be more relevant. The other public radio station broadcasts only Jazz (music, not the team) from 8pm to midnight.  That works out just fine if I am in the mood for jazz but that does not happen all that often and, again, it has the same problems as my comment above above music stations. Recently, I was listening to news about a senator but didn’t recognize his name at all. Suddenly it occurs to me this was some Canadian Senator. Oops.

Weekends on public radio are by far the worst. News, apparently, does not happen on the weekends. That is when they air the most non-immediate shows (as listed above). Weekends, I feel deprived. Radio becomes an information vacuum. There is stuff to know, facts to learn, debates to be had but they are not on the radio on the weekend,  I find tonight’s fare intolerable. So I’ll forgo the facts and listen to music. But not on the radio.

Facebook Part Two

So Facebook sent me a message asking me to check my stats.

Ok. So I clicked on the included link. It said I should respond to the same Pop Quiz that it had given me the other day when I was trying to like a band page. I had copied the quiz to my clipboard so I could include it here but my computer crashed, leaving the clipboard empty.  (You’d think that by 2013, Windows would have a persistent clipboard, no?) The three choices presented to me were to toss outstanding Friend invites, toss those that Facebook deemed scurrilous and to do nothing.  I picked the third option (do nothing) earlier because I thought it had something to do with the Like I was trying to click. So this time, I picked the first choice: toss them all.  Then Facebook asked why I had requested those Friends from people who did not accept.  This may be out of order. They may have asked me why I had requested Friends prior to the three choice quiz.  With this question, Facebook gave me five possible answers. Of the five choices available, only Other (the 5th choice) seemed to fit.  I was hoping Other would also give me a chance to explain. Of course it did not. That would be too meaningful.

I am still thinking that the primary reason people do not accept my Friend requests is because they do not associate Bob Pope with Higher Than Pope. Had Facebook not forced me into using Bob Pope instead of Higher Than Pope, the people would have accepted the requests.  For the most part, I tend to mostly request Friends with bands with whom I have some interaction with at other sites (reverbnation.com primarily but also soundclick.com and soundcloud.com).  I do not just go randomly through Facebook people, clicking on bands. So many of those pending requests were with Bands or musos of some sort or another.

Facebook informed me that I was not to add any friends for seven days.  That was that.  I will not add any friends period but will still accept friend requests from those asking for such (assuming I have some inkling of who they are). I will ignore all friend recommendations going forward.

I will probably spend even less time on Facebook.  Each time they kick me off, I have lost more and more interest in participating with anything Facebook.  At this point, I am more interested in being able to login to sites that require a facebook login. I vote on artistsignal.com for friends (and I’ve only seen a FB login on that site). Clicking links in email about friends posting stuff to fandalism.com also requires facebook.  The latter is excruciatingly annoying because the links contain a login via facebook and a destination into Fandalism that is hashed and therefore not easily human readable.  Getting there without facebook is painful.

Personally, I think FB died back before their IPO and that they are basically a headless chicken.

I have spent more time on +Google these past several days and it seems far more amenable, although I really dislike GMail. Myspace is a fairly strong contender since I spend a lot of time nose buried in music up to my ears. However, it is severely limited in several ways that hamper its utility. Last.fm used to be sort of cool before they started requiring a fee.  Reverbnation spent a lot of time reconfiguring their software so that it was almost nearly useless. Soundclick expended the least effort and it pretty much looks like it was when it first released, except for one big revision that happened back around 2006 or 2007.

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