Friday, January 26, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: How to Make a Casa Cabeza App

Happy Friday, everybody!
From MTV's Celebrity Death Match
I remember when Instagram and Facebook were chronological. You followed people to see their content, and that content was shown to you in the order that it was meant to be seen. Strategies were less complicated, control was with the user, and all was good within the social world. Then BOOM! The infamous ‘algorithm’ of late 2016 hit. Facebook and Instagram limited your reach to 30% of your total follower count on average, allowed the algorithm to decide what content should be displayed in your feed, and Social Media was forever changed. Free flowing content turned into regulated content, and the reach of business profiles were reduced, causing them to pay for ads just so their content could be seen.
I think the intent of FB’s the new algorithm ought to help this blog generate traffic from friends and acquaintances in theory, but actual experience hasn’t exactly borne this out.  Quite the reverse, in fact.  I’ve mentioned before that FB has a tendency to consider this blog #FakeNews.  Well, the new algorithm doubles down.  By prioritizing comments above mere likes or readership history, the effect has been to substantially reduce my visibility to casual acquaintances and passive readers.  This has caused a dramatic drop in overall readership in just the past two weeks.
It’s frustrating.  I’ve never been of the mind that this thing is your Most Important Source of News.  In fact, I don’t consider any of this to be “news” at all.  It’s just supposed to be light-hearted fun.  And really, how hard is it to ignore the blog if you don’t care about it?  It’s not a condition of our friendship that you read my work.  I would, in fact, vastly prefer an audience of strangers who comes solely because they enjoy what I have to say.  If that’s not you, then you can Unfollow me, and that’s fine.
I promise, I won’t mind at all.
However, my experience suggests that most people do enjoy the blog--when and if they remember to read it.  
That may be you, and it may not be.  But if you enjoy this blog, well, you may soon have to take some action, unfortunately.  First, you can comment on the bits you like.  That ensures that those bits show up in our mutual friends’ feeds, which is a big part of how this experiment survives--at least on FB.  Or, if you really DO NOT want folks to know what you’re reading1, you can add the blog to your phone’s home screen as an app.  Then you just have to remember to click on it at whatever time interval seems appropriate, and you never have to worry about FB forgetting to remind you about this thing ever again.
How to Make a Casa Cabeza App
Step 1: Open Safari and surf to
Step 2: Request Desktop Site.  This is not strictly necessary, but the blog itself is designed for desktop viewing, and it looks much better when viewed as designed.

This button first.
Then this one.
Step 3: Add to Home Screen.  This adds an app-like shortcut right onto your homescreen. If you do it in Desktop view, then you’ll get the full version permanently rather than the default Mobile view.  That is they way I did it.

This is the critical step.
Step 4: Use Reader View where appropriate.  Reader View displays the blog similarly to the way it would appear via the Kindle app.  It makes the text more readable but won’t display graphics or videos associated with embedded Tweets.  I typically use Twitter embeds to illustrate my work because they are open-source by default and automatically annotate sources, so Reader View might not be ideal for every article.  However, I personally use it all the time.

The upper left button switches to Reader View and back.
In Reader View.
Or you can hope let FB tell you what you want to read and when.  Nothing I can do about that if that’s the way you choose to play it.
The Patriots hate isn’t confined to any single team or conference. It’s widespread and the inevitable result of a team so dominant that it makes eight Super Bowls in 18 years. You may wish that we had any matchup other than Patriots-Eagles (again) or that that asteroid would hit Earth before we’re subjected to a smug-looking Robert Kraft clutching another Lombardi Trophy.
But just because the Patriots are there again doesn’t mean you have to skip the game and rewatch the Puppy Bowl. This year’s Super Bowl, even if it feels like the Patriots are as played out as “Dilly Dilly,” can still be enjoyable.
Can it?  Are we sure about that?
Netflix added 24 million new subscribers last year, the company said after the close of trading Monday, up 26% from 2016 to take its worldwide total to 117.6 million, less than half of which are in the United States. Revenue for the three months ending in December, the company's fiscal fourth quarter, was pegged at $3.29 billion while earnings 41 cents a share. Both figures were largely in-line with analysts' forecasts. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based group also said it would increase its spending on content -- including original productions -- to $8 billion this year, a move that lifts its total commitment to around $18 billion. Netflix will also increase its marketing budget to around $2 billion…
"One does have to wonder, though, to what degree Disney's plans factor into Netflix's budgeting. Over the last five months, the media giant has unveiled plans to pull its films from Netflix at decade's end, launch a Disney-branded streaming service in 2019 that will be the exclusive home of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films and inked a deal to buy most of Fox's assets for $52.4 billion. All of that gives Netflix fresh incentives to spend more on both content and customer acquisition ahead of the Disney service's launch."
It’s amazing to say it, but the Netflix originals are really driving the marketplace.  Stranger Things is the most popular show on TV—on any platform—and the Marvel shows are serious drivers as well.  And there’s lots more good stuff at the next rung, including my new personal favorites GLOW and Ozark.
Netflix's Ozark has become an unexpected favorite.
Disney may very well succeed in offering a compelling back-catalogue of movies, but their ability to put out quality television on an ongoing basis hasn’t been as well-proven as they might prefer (unless you like ABC’s primetime slate), and I’m not convinced that a network that has just movies is going to make a real run at Netflix.  Of course, Disney might just price their stuff so cheaply that everyone can afford it.  That, at least, would get them off to a decent start as a kind of “second” streaming service in many households.
Bortles is under contract for $19.053 million in 2018 because the team picked up his fifth-year option, and that contract would become guaranteed on the first day of the league year (4 p.m. ET March 14). However, the Jaguars have not given him any indication of whether they want him to return…
Bortles did just have the best season of his career, which he capped off by throwing for 293 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots. He completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions during the regular season and led the Jaguars to a 10-6 record and the AFC South title.
Yeah, y’know, I don’t think this is all that hard to predict.  I mean, the Jags had the best running game in the NFL and the second-best defense.  But they couldn’t consistently move the ball over the course of the season, particularly in the second half of the AFC Championship Game, even though there were some plays there that a better quarterback could have made.
So the Jags would clearly like to move on from Bortles.  His play in the playoffs was far from terrible, however, so they may not have an obviously better option, and I doubt they want to do anything drastic when the team’s playoff window looks to be opening rather than closing.
But yeah.  A better quarterback would give them a lot more options this past week.
Part of why books like Left Hand and the one I consider her greatest masterpiece, The Dispossessed, work so well is that they’re also compulsively readable. Le Guin knew her way around plot, and how to keep you turning the pages relentlessly. Her Earthsea novels take the mechanisms of high fantasy—magic objects, wizard schools, quests—and reconfigure them as local, and deeply personal. In the first book of this series, A Wizard of Earthsea, an aspiring magic user named Ged must solve the ultimate problem: himself. If you love Harry Potter, or His Dark Materials, or The Chronicles of Prydain, it’s absolutely the place to start.
Of these, the only one I’ve read is The Left Hand of Darkness.  I thought it started a little slow but became truly fascinating once you got to about the halfway point.  
As is all too common, everyone points out the obvious with Hand, that it’s a story about gender fluidity.  What was more interesting—to me—was the way in which it was also a story about societal expectations, turned on its head via the lens of genderlessness.  
The point definitely was not that the aliens were perfect because they didn’t have genders.  *Spoiler Alert*: The aliens are far from perfect.  Rather, they are distinctly imperfect because they prove no better at dealing with violations of their own societal expectations than anyone else is.  Or, to put that another way, our viewpoint character gets in trouble because he is a man.
And here you were thinking that this story was feminist tripe, irrelevant to our times, am I right?  
I know I am.
Anyway, the Earthsea books have been on my list for a while.  I haven’t made the time up until now, but I certainly should.
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That’s all I’ve got, everyone.  Enjoy the weekend!

1. A surprising number of people have come up to me privately to express admiration for my writing while noting simultaneously that they don’t want to “have” to comment or whatever because they read my blog on the sly.  I get that, and I am absolutely here for you.

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