Amazon’s $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Change How Americans See Work – Bloomberg

n 2017, the real median household income in the U.S. was $61,372, which is roughly what two earners with full-time jobs making $15 an hour would make.

I remain totally confused about class as a term to classify people in America. This article is a prime example. While overall this is good news, if $15-per hour helps the middle class, how little do you have to earn to be working class? And why is that term never used?

As far as I’m aware the amazon deal doesn’t include health insurance, which effectively means before taxes, you’ll have to work for nearly 1-week in 4 just to pay for an individual plan, for a family plan, you’ll be working for just over two weeks every month just to pay your health insurance premiums. Then there’s food, rent, transportation etc. and so who knows where you are going to find the average $4,533 deductibles if you do get sick. Rather than working class, you are the working poor.

If two people have to work for a couple to survive they are working class. Telling them they are “Middle class” if they earn more than $22 is just a great example of gaslighting. To be middle class,  surely it means when one of you can chose not to work.

Source: Amazon’s $15 Minimum Wage Will Won’t Change How Americans See Work – Bloomberg

Keeping Notebooks

Last week, those of us paying attention watched the bizarre spectacle of Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh getting emotional about his calendars. I’ve never kept a paper calendar, it alway seemed too much of a constraint. Around the year 2000, I toyed with keeping a planner/calendar online, thanks to the Internet Archive, I can still see my mad travel schedule.

What I have kept, since 1979, are notebooks. I still have most of them(*1), they are both interesting and dull. The changing over to a new notebook is always much more than turning over a new page, it’s more like the start of a new era. The notebook is a fabulous moleskin notebook, courtesy of First Line Software, given to me 3-years ago while I was still at Dell.new notebook

My last notebook was good for a couple of years. It contained notes, to-do lists, project activities and more. Most of this was about my transition from being an executive at Dell, to being a husband and stay at home dad. It also covers some epic projects, which like my prior IT career, didn’t always go well. These included trying to get to grip with the US Medical billing system as my heart attack; also the epic screw-ups made by FRSR llc of Broomfield while landscaping my backyard.

Some of my old notebooks cover key developments in both my career and technology. I have notebooks over the period 1983-1985 as I grappled with learning how the US Banking system worked, the requirements of systems such as the SWIFT banking, interconnect system; virtualization of operating systems on 12Mb memory systems; working on protocols to transfer data between dissimilar architecture an data format systems, which lead to the precursor to the ARC file format, which lead to the Zip file format; later notebooks cover my introduction to X.25 Networks as we built out a worldwide financial services network; and then my whole career at IBM, including the arrival of the World Wide Web, and so much more.

Apart from the recollection and reflection. notebooks, correctly dated and annotated can have real value for technical architects and programmers. During a patent dispute in 1998, I was able to return to a notebook from 1985 and prove that the disputed patent wasn’t unique, even though I no longer had access the system we’d implemented it on, and the system was no longer in existence. While it the patent wasn’t invalidated, it did save us a massive licensing fee.

I look forward to all the events, actions, projects and plans over the next couple of years. Keep a notebook.

*1 It all went wrong for a few years when the Filofax was a thing.

The State of American Immigration

The state of American immigration is misunderstood, misapplied and subject to a lot of hysteria.

To me it continues to amaze that a country where you can drive for hours east and south in Colorado, west in Texas, and pass nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m sure there are other US States where you can do this, I’ve just not driven through them.

America, with a number of Western countries, not least mine, the UK, have created massive disturbances and in some cases, wars persist as a direct result of our actions. Yet we have largely uninhabited geographic areas as big as some of these countries.

TAL covers a number of the key areas of Immigration, how it works, who is doing what, and what has been changing. It’s worth an hour of your life, if you don’t have that, Act 2 is especially worth it.

TAL
Let me count the ways

Data Interchange and Interoperability in Healthcare

I recently had to go for x-rays on my hip. The imaging company called saying they’d received the “order” from my chiropractor for a knee arthrogram without contrast.

Apparently, this was both wrong and confusing. It’s wrong, because the “order” said hip, but they couldn’t read it; also it’s confusing because, well something to do with x-ray and contrast.

After a short discussion, it turned out the imaging company received the order by fax. Yes, real actual paper fax. The US medical profession still seems to run on faxes. My prior cardiology hospital sent my medical records to my new cardiology Dr via, yes, paper fax. Hospital-1 printed the records to a fax based printer driver, which sent them uing a fax protocol to Hospital-2. Apparently Hospital-2 receives as images in a variation of the TIFF file format.

In the case of my PT, no such luck. Handwritten, manually faxed, received by paper. Even if there had been no problem this created a HIPPA privacy and security cost. In this instance, the cost to clear up the confusion likely cost almost as much as the actual hip x-ray, as that was all that was needed.

While I know there are data interchange standards in the USA for medical records, or as they are called PHRs, it seems there still nothing that is universally adopted. When I contacted my new cardiology hospital and offered my PHR in (Epic Systems) Lucy format, they declined and asked for them to be faxed.

There are a growing number of apps for both ios and android that support EHRs (electronic health records) however, for the most part these are tied to a specific hospital and/or medical group. A good example is the Epic Systems MyChart app. It can read the data from my former cardiology provider, including details of my ER/and cardio surgery and the prescriptions I was given. I can export the data using the Hospital groups website, and that’s it.

Unless you choose your medical providers not on their medical excellence, but their ability to import your lucy records, this is no use at all.

The Big Boys are doing data interchange

My interest was sparked by the recent announcement from Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook introducing the open-source Data Transfer Project (DTP). For the more technically interested, you can read the DTP Overview here.

Ultimately it doesn’t look that different from the Enterprise Service Bus implementations we were working on 15-18 years ago. Same core concept, n-n interchange and interoperability. Same basic extensability through adapters and shared protocols.

I have to say, the use cases given for DTP are pretty weak. Conceptually, though there is much potential for this architected “Share…” facility. One of the key failings of DTP is that there is no ability to delete data, sure you can share your data to more sites/services but the DTP as specified doesn’t allow you to leave.

However, the most disappointing thing about this announcement is it’s aimed at allowing you to move your videos/photo’s, social media posts, and hopefully subscription platforms among the services supported.

To become a supported platform there are a few fairly simple architecture docs and then you have to build plugins or adapters to interface to the service to be able to send/receive data.

Ho hum. Boring. There is definitely space for big tech co’s to innovate around data interchange, but who cares about social media. I want to be able to pay for a PHR service, where I can store and control my medical record. Where I can grant access rights and authorise medical providers to retrieve my data, where I can see my medical records from across the providers etc.

I’m hoping that someone will point out this already exists, or that Nigel or Tom, who both now work in Helathcare will tell me why this isn’t a good idea. The USA is in desperate need for data interchange but it isn’t for social media.

FURTHER READING:

  1. Paper on moving from paper to electronic records and the associated problems.
  2. Review of numerous leading healthcare records mobile apps.

 

Why we can’t have nice things

Subtitle: How we get nice things and then they make them too expensive.

Recently contractors for Comcast/Xfinity have been all over Louisville drilling holes along the utility easement to lay conduit for fiber optic cabling for Internet and cable. The city has a brief here on the project which is supposed to be complete by the end of October 2018. Bad news if you are a customer in the service area, the city release says:

Comcast customers will experience an outage from 30 minutes to 6 hours with the typical outage being 2 ½ hours. Any outages for this kind of scheduled work is typically done between 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

The full Comcast Q&A/FAQ is here.

Once the conduit/piping was laid at my house along the outside of back fence, things went quiet. Then today there were literally 15 trucks outside and across the street while they had a team meeting.

If you are stuck with little more than dial-up modem Internet speed, either because of cost, or because a faster service is not available to you, no doubt you’d think this is great. I already have CenturyLink 1Gbps fiber service, and this will likely be very good in the short term as competition drives down prices.

In the long term, this isn’t good news. The only winners will be Comcast.

Happy Mork and Mindy Day!

“Na-Nu Na-Nu”

Today is the 40th anniversary of the screening of the 1st Episode of Mork and Mindy. Tribune medias’ Antenna TV is broadcast a binge watch extravaganza.

Mork and Mindy, at least for me, was my introduction to Robin Williams. He’d appeared on an episode of Happy Days as Mork, but he really became famous from the series. It ran for 4-years between 1978 and 1982, recording an incredible 94-episodes.

Over the past 5-months or so I’ve had my Tablo DVR set to record any episodes of Mork and Mindy. Antenna has been playing them already. I have 53 recorded.

May of the episodes give Robin Williams a vehicle for his amazing timing and humor. Some give him the ability to be ironic, some more thoughtful. Of his many reports home to Orson, he included this one, from Season-3, Episode-14 on “Being famous on earth”. The episode was filmed shorty after John Lennon was assassinated. I can’t help but wonder, is Mork would have included Robin Williams in the list of names he lists and the end of the report.

I had no recollection of the fact the series was based in Boulder, interestingly, the episode this clip was featured in was called Mork meets Robin Williams. Williams was in Boulder to perform at the “Solar Energy Benefit”. Not much has changed, just Boulder being Boulder.

As of July 2016, the Boulder house where Mork and Mindy lived , 1619 Pine Street right by the Perl Street Mall, was valued at $1.9 million, with a last sale date of 1974 for US $80,000 (equivalent to $385,000 in 2015).

It’s never clear how a young Mindy could afford to live there then, she couldn’t now. Just Boulder being Boulder. You can watch almost all the episodes of Mork and Mindy on youtube.

Mork calling Orson, come in Orson

Maternity medical crisis

As we approach this year’s open enrollment period for health insurance, I continue to be shocked and disappointed about almost everything I learn about the US Healthcare system. Before I return to notes about my own experiences and my own health, maternity care is another healthcare topic that doesn’t often get discussed, as the average American prepares to pay more than $10,348, per person, per year on healthcare.

While many argue about the definition of single payer, and if it would lead to socialism (and what that is?), the inefficiency, mistakes, cost and just outright expense of what should be routine treatment, continues to make me despair.

America has healthcare snobs, millions of them, they just don’t realize that while they might have great access to medical facilities and Doctors, that doesn’t mean it’s always good, or that the system acts in their best interest. However, any suggested change is met with claims of death panels, socialism and more. Oft heard is also they ‘don’t want the Government in the healthcare.’

Even I was left speechless as I watched a recent CBS Sunday Morning segment on maternal healthcare. Among the points made were:

  • U.S. “most dangerous” place to give birth in developed world
  • The United States is ranked 46th when it comes to maternal mortality. That’s behind countries like Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan.
  • “Sixty percent of the deaths in the United States are preventable,”
  • At least two women are dying every day

And it’s not about access to healthcare; it’s not about the poor without insurance; yes, there is a racial element, but it’s not what you’d think. Here is the entire segment, well worth watching before you enroll this year.

| Edit: The embedded video doesn’t apparently load in some browsers, so here is a direct link to the CBS This Morning web page. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/maternal-mortality-an-american-crisis/

Can it be true that women giving birth in America are more at risk than women in dozens of other countries?

Kohl’s and Car Oriented Development

Back in July, @_anthonyhahn wrote an article which appeared in both the Daily Camera and the Colorado Hometown Weekly about a potential new Kohl’s store in Lafayette CO, and what that meant for the Louisville CO store.

While pitting the two adjacent cities against each other in a battle for sales tax is valid, it totally misses the point about all the new development around the 287 Corridor, north of Lafayette.

At the time, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Colorado Hometown Weekly and sent it in. I just got to checking, and as far as I can see, it never made publication for either space, or editorial reasons. As always, waste not, want not, here it is. Comments?

FOR PUBLICATION

Re: July 11th Anthony Hahn Kohls move to Lafayette

I’m a Louisville resident, but this isn’t Louisville versus Lafayette, it’s the past vs the future.

How much longer can we continue sleep walking into the future with car oriented development?

The city of Lafayette believes a new Kohl’s on 287 is worth, and will pay off its $2-million subsidy in 2-3 years. Add to that the limited benefit of some extra jobs, and extra sales tax receipts during construction. It still means the Residents will have to shop hard, and drive regularly to make another out of town store pay off.

Louisville development director Dejong says the McCaslin corridor tax receipts are up year on year to $420,000, but that’s from a whole lot of small stores and restaurants that are almost always busier than any of the big box stores. Kohls will need to do much more than it does with it’s Louisville store to make it work. The current store in Louisville often looks like it’s been ransacked by people on a scavenger hunt, and the parking lot is frequently less than 1/4 full.

Kohl’s itself we likely be shielded from a failure, tax write-offs against losses, writing off development and moving expenses. The development company, Hix Snedeker can do the same. It’s not the McCaslin corridor thats in economic crisis, it the whole sector.

It’s always easier to build new development, urban sprawl has funded and driven America for the last 80-years. The real question is, what does this contribute to the community? More driving, more concrete, more parking spaces? The 287 location certainly seems more attractive than the current Louisville location, it has more passing traffic in a superficial way. The question is how many will stop, rather than shop online and have it delivered at home?

Lafayette residents should ask, is this worth the money, the tax breaks, etc. ? What type of development do they want, and is this the right type of development rather than just easy development?

Mark Cathcart

Legislating hacking/data exposure responses

I don’t know enough about the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but at least on basic reading it seems inadequate in meaningful individual action requirements and legislation that benefits the actual user/person whose information has been exposed.

I’ve been signed up for haveibeenpwned an excellent website by Troy Hunt. You enter your email, and it tells you what breaches your personal information has been found in.

I was going to say “if any”. But of course your data will be there, especially after breaches like the River City Media (RCM) “spammer gate” where 1.4 billion peoples’ email accounts, full names, IP addresses, and often physical address, were exposed. Suffice to say, my two primary email addresses have been exposed in more than 20-breaches.

haveibeenpwned was a great start. CapitalOne, at least among my financial providers, has stepped up the game significantly. Their creditwise arm has incorporated Credit & Identity Alerts in to the app and website. Numerous times recently I’ve received alerts, and while initially the alerts didn’t contain enough information to take action, the most recent alerts have had all the detail I needed.

Creditwise Email
Email alert from Creditwise
Creditwise Alert
via website or app

Among the websites my data has been exposed this year include:

  • linkedin.com
  • kickstarter.com
  • ticketfly.com
  • bitly.com
  • myspace.com
  • last.fm
  • zomato.com

Some of these websites did individually send emails disclosing the breach. Of these, only ticketfly had any form of financial data that might have been breached. I have all my emails from them going back to 2012. Not a single word about a data breach or other exposure of my personal data.

The same is true for more sites than not. No notification. When you login to the site to at the very least, change your password to a new unique one, they more often than not also give you no indication. For many of them it’s also nearly impossible to find out how to delete your account. In the case of ticketfly, I submitted a trouble ticket asking how to delete my account but retain tickets for future events, so far nothing but a generic ‘we’ll get back to you’ response.

It’s time for legislation about what websites/businesses are required to do when they find a data breach. They must be held accountable, and not just through financial penalties that mostly just go into government coffers.

I’d like to see at a minimum:

  1. Mandatory requirement to notify by email, and if the business has a real mail address, by mail.
  2. A default opt-out and deletion period. At discovery, if data breached includes significant personal and/or financial data, the account must be deactivated. After notification, if the business has not heard from the user whose data is breached within 14-days, and the account is not already deactivated, it should be deactivated.
  3. Recovery of a deactivated account should NOT depend on any data exposed in the breach.
  4. When the user whose data is breached logs-in to their account following notification or during account recovery, they must be presented with clear information on what data was exposed. Two, they must be given a simple option at this point to permanently delete their account.
  5. If the user opts to delete their account, any consequences of the deletion must be made obvious at that time. For example, in the case of ticketfly, where I’ve already paid for tickets to future events, those tickets must still be available to me, even after my account is deleted.

In the era of “big data” and “everything online” the only way these businesses/websites will really put privacy and security first is not fines. It’s the actual loss of the customer/user and their data. These companies are often over valued, and paying government fines is just moving magic money from one bucket to another. It has a short term impact on their profitability, their quarterly results, not much else.

Google and Voice

You’d think given the proliferation of voice activated home technology like Alexa, Siri, Google Voice Assistant, Cortana etc. we’d be on the home stretch for voice activation in cars, where distraction is a real life threatening problem.

I don’t travel much now, I don’t drive more than 6k miles per year, which is a good thing based on today’s experience with Google. I’ll admit, I didn’t do any scientific research, I’ve no idea what other brands do, but I got stuck in traffic today heading into Boulder. I asked Google Assistant to read a web article from Vox.

My Google Pixel 2 phone is running android pie 9, I’m a Google ProjectFi cellphone network subscriber, and the phone is paired via Bluetooth to my 2013 Mercedes Benz. I switched the car audio via a car hardware button to Bluetooth. And asked Google Assistant to read what was on my screen.

It soon started to read out loud over bluetooth, HTML and CCS. This got pretty pointless, pretty quick. I switched back to FM Radio.

I called my wife using nothing but voice activation on the Mercedes with the paired bluetooth phone. While we were talking another call came in. I ignored it, it went to voicemail. When I’d finished talk to my wife, I pressed a button on the car to end the call.

I asked the Mercedes to “call voicemail” it did. The first thing the Project Fi voicemail system asked was for my voicemail PIN. There is no way around this, I sat there trying to get Fi to recognize the PIN by saying
nine, seven, nine, six, nine, five(*1)
It was pointless… it wasn’t enabled for voice prompts. I pulled over, pressed the phone buttons for the PIN followed by the # key. I went straight to the options key-4, and there was no voice activation option.

Next-up, I tried the Google Assistant to try.

OK Google, call my voicemail

I said in my best English accent, with my best annunciation and trying not to sound “mockney“.

Google Assistant: calling

Project Fi: to access your voicemail, please enter your PIN. followed by the # key

ME: nine, seven, nine, six, nine, five

Suffice to say, it didn’t work.

Even if it had, worryingly, even when you use the keypad to logon and navigate your voicemail, after hearing individual voicemails, the only options are:

mark this message as read press 7
keep this message as new press 9

There is a more options, it’s just message details, and play message again.

If you press 7, you go back to the main menu, where the only option is 4, change your settings. No ability to re-hear messages marked as read.

All in all a pretty disappointing experience. Especially true given it’s a 100% Google experience, add in the heightened requirement to reduce distracted driving and the fact that touching your phone while driving is illegal in my cities, States and Countries.

I know for sure that 10-15 years ago, voicemail could be voice driven.
To listen to your voicemail, press or say 1.

To delete the voicemail, press or say 3

etc.
Android phone app voicemail screenYes, I do know that I can press the voicemail button on the phone app in Android, and that would bring up a screen like this with a voice to text translation of the voicemail, the ability to play the voicemail, and the ability to delete it… but that all requires physical interaction with the phone.

*1 PIN isn’t really this…