Senior Applications Architect. Husband and father of two daughters living in DC. All views my own.
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Watch out for “everyone” or “no one”

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Years ago I was in a meeting when this one person broke into the conversation and declared “Don’t say everyone or no one. It doesn’t mean anything.”

We all do this. We try to justify our position by saying “No one knows…” or “Everyone knows…” or some derivative thereof. When you throw around these extremes you weaken your point. There is no such thing as everyone or no one. Don’t justify your position by putting an unjustifiable abstraction at the core.

Even “Most people” is a bad one. “Many people” isn’t as bad, but it’s still loaded. I find myself saying it all the time. “Some people” is better. A clear “these people” is best.

So when you’re making a point or taking a position, watch out everyone or no one — they aren’t really there.


Watch out for “everyone” or “no one” was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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samfarmer
2865 days ago
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Yup. Good advice.
Washington, DC
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Texas Grand Jury Clears Planned Parenthood, Indicts Pair Who Made Video

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Brian M. Rosenthal and Brian Rogers, reporting for the Houston Chronicle:

A Harris County grand jury investigating allegations that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston illegally sold the tissue of aborted fetuses has cleared the organization of wrongdoing and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists behind the undercover videos that sparked the probe.

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

I’m celebrating this schadenfreude-tastic moment with a contribution to Planned Parenthood.

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samfarmer
3093 days ago
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Wow.
Washington, DC
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3 public comments
ashtonbt1
3093 days ago
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And the conspiracy theorists everywhere say, "See? The gov'ment is protecting them!" But nice to see this result.
skittone
3093 days ago
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Finally stepping up, Texas. Good.
wmorrell
3093 days ago
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Good job, Texas!

Apple Actually Wants You to Read and Understand Its Privacy Policies

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Matthew Panzarino on Apple’s new Privacy Policy:

This is the template for all other tech companies when it comes to informing users about their privacy. Not a page of dense jargon, and not a page of cutesy simplified language that doesn’t actually communicate the nuance of the thing. Instead, it’s a true product. A product whose aims are to inform and educate, just as Apple says its other products do.

An example:

Here’s a tidbit with regards to Apple Maps. When you query Maps for a trip, Apple generates a generic device identifier and pulls the info using that, rather than an Apple ID. Halfway through your trip, it generates another random ID and associates the second half with that. Then, for good measure, it truncates the trip data so the information about exact origin and destination are not kept. That data is retained for 2 years to improve Maps and then deleted.

Pretty sure Google Maps doesn’t work that way.

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samfarmer
3210 days ago
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How?
Washington, DC
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2 public comments
sirshannon
3210 days ago
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Not sure why I always share when trying to reply :/
aaronwe
3210 days ago
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Pretty sure Google Maps works better because it doesn't work that way. Knowing my habits and history makes Google Maps more useful for commuting.
Denver
gazuga
3210 days ago
Yeah, Apple's in a bind if server-side integration of private activity across multiple apps becomes necessary to compete with Google services. To most, Google's advantages in these areas are small and subtle. (Lots of people make fun of Siri, for example, but they're not running in droves to Google Now because in absolute terms both services are mediocre.) Once enough users notice and care about the quality differences, watch how fast Apple abandons their current post in the privacy wars.
Halffull
3210 days ago
Yes, so the question is do you prefer personalization or privacy. It's not a clear winner, it's a tradeoff.
sirshannon
3210 days ago
How does Google use your history and habits to make their map data more useful for commuting?
aaronwe
3210 days ago
Google Now preemptively tells me when there are accidents on my usual route or unusually heavy traffic. It lets me know when I have to leave to make it to an appointment on time, based on current traffic, not theoretical drive times. The convenience and personalization is absolutely worth the privacy tradeoff to me.
sirshannon
3210 days ago
Other than accidents, Apple Maps does that so I'm not sure that the privacy trade off has anything to do with it?
aaronwe
3210 days ago
If Apple Maps knows your daily commute and helps you leave the house early to get there, then I'm not seeing the privacy benefit either.
gazuga
3210 days ago
Say you have an appointment in Mail, Messages, or Calendar with a machine-readable time and location. Without violating its data policy, would Apple be able to push notify you to leave for your appointment earlier if you haven't already programmed your trip into Maps?
sirshannon
3209 days ago
Yes. When I set an appointment in Calendar, the "Alert" option defaults to "Time to leave" which is explained as "Calendar uses your location, this event's location, and traffic conditions to tell you when you need to leave."
gazuga
3209 days ago
That's impressive, given most of the magic is happening on device. The Google scheme pulls more data from more sources (eg. I could get a flight confirmation email and have it baked into potential alerts without even opening the message, let alone creating a calendar event – and said alert would dynamically adjust to both flight delays and traffic delays without my having to ask it to), but like I said, the advantages of the server side approach are mostly small and subtle for now.

Yahoo Finance: ‘Apple Pay Sides With Credit Card Industry Over Consumer Interests’

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Aaron Pressman, writing for Yahoo Finance:

Apple has regularly delighted its customers with cool products on its way to becoming the most valuable company in the United States. But it hasn’t always stood up for its customers’ best economic interests.

Take the case of Apple Pay. Apple partnered with the three major credit card networks, Visa, Mastercard and American Express and the big bank card issuers such as JP Morgan Chase. That is likely a smart move from a business perspective, because so many Apple customers are frequent credit card users and prior mobile payment services have had trouble gaining much traction.

But the partnership decision also meant Apple was taking sides in a long running war between the credit card industry on one side and retailers and consumer advocates on the other.

Retailers typically pay 2% or more on every credit card purchase, costs that cut into their margins and raise prices for all shoppers.

First, the headline. I think it’s clear that Apple Pay is siding with the credit companies and banks — but they’re not pitted against consumers, they’re pitted against retailers. It’s retailers who want to reduce the use of credit cards (and the resulting fees). Not consumers. Any consumer who doesn’t want to use a credit card can simply not use a credit card. (They can still use Apple Pay with debit cards.) Apple Pay is only allowing us to more easily and securely use the credit/debit cards we already have. For consumers, nothing is worse post-Apple Pay (transaction fees are not higher — the banks pay Apple’s 0.15 percent cut), and much is better (security, privacy, and convenience).

I understand the argument that the 2-3 percent processing fees that retailers pay for credit cards are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but for consumers that can be offset by cash back and reward programs from their card providers.

I don’t understand how this article amounts to anything more than “Apple should have used magic” hand-waving. What could Apple have done differently that would have actually worked, without involving credit card processors? Remember, Apple Pay doesn’t require retailers to install Apple Pay-specific POS terminal hardware. It famously works with the standard NFC hardware that’s been out for years. Building atop the existing credit card infrastructure is fundamental to people’s willingness to try Apple Pay and to retailers’ ability to accept it. Pressman is implicitly arguing that Apple should have somehow reinvented the entire retail electronic payments industry, without the help of the banks or credit card companies, and presumably with the cooperation of retailers. But we see with CurrentC/MCX the sort of things the retailers would have demanded of Apple in such a hypothetical systems.

Update: Another point. Who is to say that Apple Pay won’t add additional non-credit-card payment options going forward? This is just the start. But the start needs to be something that gets the whole thing off the ground.

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samfarmer
3546 days ago
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Retailers have a cost of processing money that consumers use to pay for items with.

Cash received in a store needs to get to a bank. I don't know what that cost is but its not free.
Washington, DC
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UCJT
3545 days ago
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Commercial banker here. Cash handling has a cost to the merchant. And with rates at 0%, there is no earnings credit to offset this cash handling charge. It's a hard charge to the client. Article detailing is dated but conceptually accurate.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/18/business/la-fi-lazarus-20111118

In addition, the effects of the Bank Secrecy Act combined with the Patriot Act, are getting to where banks would rather not deal with a lot of cash, as any lapse in providing the Feds with appropriate reporting regarding big cash deposits are extremely punitive.

The push to plastic - or more importantly, trackable purchasing habits - comes from all sides.
US: 26.585346,-81.741754
npiasecki
3546 days ago
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Working in e-commerce for some time, I can see this Apple Pay/CurrentC debate from both sides. Stay with me.

The credit card system is insecure, and it is expensive. Merchants are tired of getting blamed for breaches when the only reason the PCI DSS came into existence was that an ever-connected world revealed the network's fundamental security problem, namely that there is no security. If you know the number, you can charge it. The banks issuing the cards needed to do something to fix this or face government regulation in the 2000s when retailers were getting hacked left and right the first time around. The card networks "fixed" the system by asking every merchant on the planet to keep a number embossed in plastic a secret for all time, and they issued a set of guidelines (which has since ballooned to hundreds of requirements) for every merchant to follow. This was all they could do because the card networks like Visa are not all that advanced, at the end of the day they are shuffling balances and account numbers back and forth. They are the minimum of information exchange needed between banks to keep the charade going.

Think about it. Isn't it absurd that a merchant who is paying 2-3% just to accept your plastic is also the one who is blamed when something goes wrong? Better yet, if it's card-not-present, it's the merchant who is the one paying for your zero liability, which is why your favorite e-commerce site flips their shit when your billing address is wrong. The merchants didn't build the network, so they can't fix the network. All they can do is either (A) bend over, which they're sick of or (B) try to create their own network and hope that ends up doing something -- either by succeeding, or at least getting the banks to step their game up. Hence CurrentC. Some of them made this decision over a year before Apple Pay, and now their hands are tied.

The only people who can really fix the credit card network are the people who created it and issue the cards used in it. Those are the banks and their orchestrating interbank entities like Visa and MasterCard. Since they haven't really been footing the bill for card-not-present fraud and have been blaming merchants for the breaches, there's not much incentive for them to fix the broken system that they created. AVS has always worked poorly, heaven forbid you live in an apartment. CVV2 is a joke. These are the tools they give us, and it doesn't matter, because the merchants are the bad guys in the court of public opinion.

I think this will go down as one of Apple's master plays. They looked at Visa, said "look at these idiots," and got Visa to make changes to their system so that Apple could create a new secure payment platform that just happened to leverage Visa for acceptance and market share, positioning it as a win-win. Hook, line, and sinker: a few years from now, Apple offers an ACH-based balance option, and it's game over. They will have successfully created their own secure payment platform with a physical world acceptance rate that PayPal can only dream of, and the card networks will wonder when exactly they started being replaced.
gazuga
3546 days ago
Great backgrounder, npiasecki. Thanks for taking the time to write it. As we were discussing a few posts down, the thing to really keep an eye on is how Apply Pay makes the credit card a swappable element of the payment stack. In theory.
Spuzzy
3546 days ago
Wow, thanks for this insight.
anthonylatta
3546 days ago
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Retail e-payment are dominated by two types: swipe and EVM (chip) cards. That's it. The only exception that's caught on in any scale is mobile money, eg, M-Pesa in Kenya, but that's the only MM system that's truly at scale, though Philippines, Ghana, and Tanzania could follow. NFC is the only technology in developed countries that has a wide enough base to scale. Apple's entry to this market could actually create a new e-payment ecosystem in developed countries. It's pretty cool for payment systems geeks.
Washington, DC
kenfair
3546 days ago
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Cash is still legal tender, or at least it was last time I checked.
Houston, Texas
steingart
3546 days ago
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grubes grubes grubes:

"I understand the argument that the 2-3 percent processing fees that retailers pay for credit cards are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but for consumers that can be offset by cash back and reward programs from their card providers."

what a shilly statement in an otherwise well reasoned piece.
Princeton, NJ
satadru
3546 days ago
But it is true, no? Consumers with a good CC do get a kickback from the issuing bank. By siding with banks vs retailers, they assume few of the fraud-related downside risks, passing that along to the banks. I would be shocked if Apple doesn't ask for a bigger cut than .15% in several years.
gazuga
3546 days ago
Interested in the empirics of the kickbacks claim as well, but I'm making a note to start all my comments under Daring Fireball posts with "grubes grubes grubes".
steingart
3545 days ago
kickbacks are the OG loc-kin. If cash is king, not spending it iin the first place is godliness

My Favourite Ways to Visualize Ideas

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We write a lot in the Edge of Chaos blog about visualization, and how helpful it is for project management, problem-solving, strategic thinking and learning. No matter if you’re an executive who wants to contemplate a business challenge from various perspectives, a software developer, or a strategizer, nothing can be as handy a tool as a pen and paper (or, in some cases, a digital screen) to hone your ideas and give them a finished touch. Visualizing ideas helps to drive the point home not only with yourself, but with the others, if you want to make sure that they understand what you mean.

Let me share some of my favourite ways to visualize ideas.

#1. An XYZ Coordinate System

I like this way of visualizing as it helps to build mental models that show how 3 factors might influence one another. Yes, they have 2D coordinate systems, X and Y, and I do use them, too, but in the complexity of today’s world where more than two factors often have to be taken into account, 3 D visualization might work out better. Here’s the image that I used in one of my articles to explain how backlog management can be done with 3D thinking, as opposed  to 2D (backlog and work in progress).  X-axis is work, Y-axis is progress, the X-Y plane is any work in progress AND Z-axis is any other 3d dimension, or a lens, through which one can filter the backlog or work in progress. The red lines in the Z-plane against the X-Y plane represent those various influences, or filtering criteria. The artistic execution might be far from perfect, but this image did help me express my idea better and pass it on to the readers:

3D-backlog-environment

#2. 4 Quadrants

I used this visualization to explain a decision-making technique. While the XYZ coordinate system provides some kind of 3D space to a concept, making it concrete, the 4 quadrants can be used to break abstract concepts into pieces.  It might be helpful, for example, to write out 4 major areas of concern about a problem or a challenge, look at them and drill them down to smaller resolvable issues. This technique helps to think clearly.

Cartesian 4 Decision-Making Quadrants

 

#3. Overlapping Circles

I somehow feel that this pattern have been overused to visualize a very simple overlap of 2 concepts, e.g. one circle stands for “good”, the other stands for “bad”, and the overlapping area is  the mixture of good and bad, which is kind of obvious without using circles. So, I’m not very fond of this practice, because it looks a bit trite, but I did use it several times, e.g. to show that business meetings are made up of 3 essential components mixed as in a bowl:

People-Problem-Goal

#4. Mind Maps

They work well to connect the idea nodes and summarize the concepts that someone already knows well. I’ve written the Mind Maps in Cognition article which suggests some points on when it makes sense to use mind maps, and when not. Here’s the mind map that I sketched as a summary of knowledge that software product owners need to have:

Product-Owner-Syllabus

#5. Custom Spatial Objects

That’s the visualization that I used to explain the idea of a new paradigm for project management tools. I had a sketch of this idea on paper, but this time someone helped me with a nice image:

the-paradigm-of-project-management-tools

This molecule glues the core paradigm to the other paradigms, rotating and gaining various momentums, depending on where they find themselves in space at any given point of rotation. The rotation is a symbol for changing goals and organizational environments, and the way they influence project management tools.

#6. Sketches in Moleskine notebooks (no grid lines)

I find this especially inviting when a sheet of paper has no grids. This freedom of paper space somehow encourages the freedom of thinking. An A4 sheet of paper does not do this trick for me, because a Moleskine notebook has pages, that can be flipped, and they can be kept for future use as a collection. Also, for some reason I like to start sketching on the right side of the double-page spread, and then continue on the left one, same way they do when they write in Arabic. I do idea sketches for my articles this way sometimes. Here’s the idea sketch for my recent article Visualization: Why the Fusion of Arts and Tech Matters:

an idea sketch

Related articles:

Visualization: Understated or Overrated?

Visualization and 5 Senses

Visualizing Music

Why Visualize?

Mind Maps in Cognition

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samfarmer
3667 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Apple Maps App with Interactive Data Layers Detailed in New Patent

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Apple has filed for a United States patent (via AppleInsider) detailing an interactive mapping program that allows users to view different layers of information based on factors such as location, points of interest, and the context of a current situation. While the concept of various layers of information for digital maps is not new, Apple seeks to enhance layering by drawing upon several types of information based on the user's needs through various "modes".

The patent introduces itself by describing the problem with existing maps applications and the need for a user to rely on multiple ones in order to gain a complete set of information relevant to a current situation. For instance, the patent gives an example of a user who views a weather map and sees that a storm is coming, and then has to switch to another app to locate a shopping mall or nearby building to take refuge while the storm passes.

apple_maps_layers_patent_1
The application described in the patent however, would essentially contain all of the various types of information for quick and unified access. With the application in patent, the user in the first example would be able to reveal the weather layer to note that a storm was coming, and then hide that layer and reveal another one giving the locations of nearby buildings to reach safety.
In another aspect, user input can be directed at specific features displayed on the map, such as clicking a mouse button while a cursor is positioned over a dot representing a city, or touching a highway indicator on a map displayed on a touch screen device. In response to such input, the map displays information that pertains to the feature of interest. For instance, clicking on a city dot might result in the display of information pertaining to the city, such as demographics, hotels, flight schedules, etc. Touching a highway indicator, such as a route number shield, may cause the map to display the locations of fueling stations, hotels and restaurants along the route.
Users would also be able to select different modes in order to emphasize map layers that could be useful to a particular interest, such as a commuting mode that would reveal the locations of nearby trains or bus stops and their specific transit times. Other modes could include a shopping mode that would reveal information while in a mall about special deals and sales, similar in nature to how shopping app Shopkick and Macy's teamed up for the first retail-based iBeacons last month that allowed customers to find location-specific deals, discounts and recommendations while looking at items in the store.

This would also be relevant to search results, as searching the word "food" in tourist mode would give results for locations such as restaurants and cafes, while searching the same term in the outdoor recreation mode would give the locations of camping supply stores.

apple_maps_layers_patent_2
Another application would be the ability to create routes by touching two points on a map with distance calculations, which would also give the best possible route to select based on context. For instance, if a person is deciding what route to take across a certain area, the mapping application would show the best possible route in terms of traffic density, possible restaurants, weather, and so forth.

Finally, the application would also include geospatial capabilities that can be integrated to provide information based on a specific location. For instance, if a user had a tourism mode toggled and walked through a location of historical significance, then information about facts related to the area could pop up to compliment an experience.

While it is unknown as to whether Apple will actually integrate the technology detailed in the patent into its existing Maps application, the company clearly continues to look to improve its mapping services, as evidenced by a number of recent acquisitions.

For instance, Apple's purchases of companies such as Embark, HopStop, and Locationary would allow it to pursue some of the mapping capabilities discussed in the patent, and could also be bolstered by the technology provided by PrimeSense, another recent acquisition. With Apple Maps now the clear-cut favorite among iOS users, it would only make sense that Apple look to improve the app beyond any other effort from its competitors.


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samfarmer
3860 days ago
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The map is of Washington, DC and the surrounding areas of Alexandria and Arlington. The patent office is in Alexandria. All street names have been changed.
Washington, DC
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