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Kenton Varda
Works at Sandstorm.io
Lives in Palo Alto, CA
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Kenton Varda

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Google feature request: When I click on a location in a Google Calendar event -- leading to Google Maps -- and then click "directions", it should automatically fill in "arrive by" from the calendar event time.

Choosing the correct arrive-by time is actually really laborious.
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(Also please be sure this information is transmitted by some URL parameters so that third-party calendars can use it too.)
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Kenton Varda

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I just stuttered while using an Android voice command and it didn't even flinch.

Me: "Set alarm for eight fit---- eight fifteen PM."

Android: "OK, setting alarm for 8:15PM"

Nice work, whomever works on this.
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/cc +Naomi Bancroft 
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Kenton Varda

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Tried to play games over the long weekend, with varying success.

Bioshock

I've heard for years that Bioshock is one of the best shooters ever but hadn't gotten around to playing it. So I tried it out.

Did not like:

1. I am not a fan of 1950's as a motif. Honestly I'm not a fan of the 20th century in general, but 1950's especially.

2. I didn't enjoy the combat. I felt like I had to be excessively conservative with my ammo or else I'd run out immediately. Every time I missed with a single bullet I wanted to load from the last save. Often my desire to make sure I hit meant I would stand still aiming and then get shot and die.

Gave up after an hour and a half.

The Witness

Was excited for this game, being from the guy who made Braid, which was excellent.

Apparently, all the puzzles are... uh... mazes. Like, children's puzzle book mazes; draw a line from start to end. Admittedly with lots of additional constraints (e.g., your path must separate the black squares from the white squares), but... really? This isn't what I signed up for.

Honestly I suspect I would enjoy this game more if it were just about exploring the scenery, with the puzzles removed.

I gave up 20 minutes in.

Playdead's INSIDE

OK, here we go. Great game. Basically Limbo (same developer) except better. Excellent side-scrolling puzzle platformer. Only like 3 hours long but that's cool with me.

Also, regarding the last bit... wat.

Ico

Shadow of the Colossus (the "spiritual successor" to Ico) is one of my favorite games of all time, but I hadn't actually played Ico. Or, I tried playing it once, got about an hour in, and got distracted.

This time I completed the whole thing (7:20 by the in-game timer).

This is basically a pretty great 3D puzzle-platformer, with a few pretty big flaws. The camera is painful. The battles are not very fun (but get less utterly annoying once you have a sword). The color scheme -- gray, dull brown, dull green -- makes the world not very fun to look at; I sort of feel like Ico with The Witness's graphics would be a much better game.

One thing I do very much appreciate is that it's impossible to "miss" anything in the game. If you make it through the game, you did not miss any secrets nor fail to gather any hidden items. I kind of wish more games were like that -- so that I don't feel the compulsion to pick up every damned rock checking for secrets. Like Zelda with the tedious parts removed. Shadow of the Colossus was similar in eliminating everything superfluous to focus on the meat of the game (the boss battles, in its case), which was one of the great things about it.

In any case, Ico was good, but there's a lot of games that are pretty strictly better: Shadow of the Colossus, Mario 64/Sunshine/Galaxy, Portal 1/2, The Talos Principle, ...
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ICO's one of the only games where you get to run around with the person you're rescuing though. Besides the new Prince of Persia franchise. I thought that was a nice touch.
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Have you been wishing there were some easy way for you to give us money? Well, now you can!
Take control of your web by running your own personal cloud server with Sandstorm.
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This is an excellent Vine.
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It felt weird to see this from Gawker, which shut down yesterday. I wonder what will happen to these social media accounts.
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Kenton Varda

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I wrote a thing, about the most important reason for decentralization of the web (it's not privacy): https://sandstorm.io/news/2016-08-17-decentralization-is-about-diversity
Take control of your web by running your own personal cloud server with Sandstorm.
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Indeed, it is the main way by which I've become familiar with Moodle. -_-
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Hmm, AFAICT, Google+ search no longer lets you choose to see the most recent results rather than the most relevant. That's sad because one of the most useful reasons to search a social network is to see what people are saying about the thing right now.
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Google+ has never been about what the users want. It's been about what Google wants and they must tolerate (as a part of everything from chat to YouTube).
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Kenton Varda

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OMGWTF if you pass a timeout value larger than 2^31 to Javascript's setTimeout() it executes the callback immediately. Same behavior on all browsers. It's even documented by MDN.
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Consistency wins a few points for the Principle of Least Astonishment, but that doesn't mean the behavior is proper. Everyone knows you've always needed to click START to shut down a Windows box. :-)
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I just sent an e-mail to several thousand people with a link at the top pointing to my localhost staging server rather than the real site.

I tested the link! It worked for me! :(
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Wait, I thought this was 2016?
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Kenton Varda

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Seen on a perfectly legit message to sandstorm-dev which landed in my gmail spam folder...
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I mean, in some sense you have to give them credit for not just adding a special case and moving on with their day.
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Kenton Varda

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Wait Colin Powell used an AOL account for state department e-mail?

AOL!?!

"He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department," the statement reads.

OK I think basically what's going on here is that these people are all technologically clueless, which is understandable because it was never expected to be their area of expertise. They can only see the UX, not the back-end, and they make decisions based on that. For Powell, he apparently liked AOL (uhh???). For Clinton, she liked the private email server that she had presumably hired someone to set up, located in her house, that worked with her Blackberry. Neither really understood the implications of data storage location. In all likelihood, the state department internal systems have awful UX (as all big crusty organizations' e-mail systems do) and they didn't want to waste time learning a new thing, so...

To be perfectly frank, though, Hillary was probably far closer to being in compliance with FISMA/ITAR/etc. than Powell was. Admittedly, perhaps, by accident. But consider how easy it would be for a foreign spy to get a job at an AOL datacenter, vs. how easy it would be for them to get a job being the person who maintains Hillary's literally-in-house email server.

(The following is the magic word that prevents Google from promoting me on Google News or What's Hot or whatever: fuck)
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+Scott Hess +Kenton Varda Thanks guys. I'm checking out Pete's earlier verdicts to see what I think about his decisions on previous props (so far, I've agreed with everything I've checked).

And that's an interesting default position: agree with legislation, disagree with ballot/signatures, except ballot/signatures that regulate the legislation themselves. That'll be a helpful perspective when looking at each prop.
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Headline: Trump says Obama is the founder of ISIS.

Me: Meh. That sounds like something any Republican might say, metaphorically obviously. I rate it 2/10 on the Trump-o-meter.

Headline: Trump clarifies that he "meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally."

Me: There we go. 7/10.
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Perhaps he doesn't know what "founded" actually means, which would explain his insistence that he did mean it literally.
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The Cap'n Proto Guy (formerly The Protobuf Guy)
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