Happy Thanksgiving, 2016

In the spirit of saying "Fuck You" to 2016 — which by many aspects was a fucking terrible year — I'd like to end 2016 with a bang.

So according to a friend, the opposite of "thanks" is "shanks." Without further ado, here is my Shanks and Thanks list for 2016.

Shanks

Shanks for American cancelling round trip mistake fare from San Francisco to Rio de Jeanaro in First for <$600. Big shanks to the DOT who totally rolled over to their corporate lobbyists by suspending enforcement of their fare mistake guidelines. Shanks for protecting industry leaders and not your citizens.

Shanks for T-Mobile's new user-hostile, anti-net neutrality data plans. Shanks for making Verizon and AT&T the good guys.

Shanks for the corporate funded, corrupted, unfair election process where my vote counted for a third of those in Wyoming.

Shanks for a poisonous 20+ months of campaigning that made me dislike John Oliver a little bit. How dare you? John is all I have on Sunday nights. Don't do that to us.

Shanks for shitty wifi. It's back and it's worse than ever.

Shanks for Dropbox's shitty service and for lying about being hacked for FOUR years. Shanks Apple, Google, Box, Microsoft and Dropbox making a solved problem unsolved again. You fixed something that was working just fine.

Shanks to Anthem healthcare plans that make Kevorkian say "don't put my name on that figuratively dumpster fire of a policy."

Shanks to those who stole my personal devices and smashed my Zipcar window last week. You're making me not want to go back to Target. I love Target. You should be ashamed. It's not like we don't know who you are. We have you on tape. What on earth are you going to do with aluminum bricks.

Shanks again to iCloud and Apple ID for continuing to prove that nearly anyone can pull off contacts syncing except Apple. Who thought a rotating cast of 200 external contracts would make such shitty software?

Shanks to Uber and Squarespace who thought that if they just sent back canned responses for each email I'd just give up. Good luck with that.

Shanks to Allegiant Airlines and the FAA who colluded to ensure that the airline could get away with 4x the in air emergencies and forced landings than any other airlines.

Shanks to those who mention how many illegal immigrants are in this country. Guess what?

Shanks to those who say my homosexuality is a lifestyle. Hot air ballooning is a lifestyle. Being really into jazz music is a lifestyle. Keeping your cell phone on silent is a lifestyle. Following the paleo diet is a lifestyle. I'm just gay. I like guys. It's not a choice and it sure as shit isn't a lifestyle.

Shanks to Apple Music who lost my music twice this year. Shanks to Spotify who still haven't figured out how to even close to properly sync local music. Some of us like Taylor Swift for what it's worth.

Shanks to politicians who think disenfranchising others is something that should be moral and legal to do. How do you sleep at night knowing that you are making it harder for others to access their rights as citizens?

Shanks to inarticulate people who think that living and breathing give them the right to hurt others and make people feel bad about themselves. Shanks you to hell.

Shanks to rolls of clear packing tape that can't keep the end from getting impossibly reattached to the roll.

Shanks to drivers who don't use turn signals. Still.

Shanks to people who choose to not empathize with others. Who never try to put themselves in another person's situation.

Shanks to corporate heads who invent policies that push American Airlines employees to provide shitty service for the sake of quantified performance improvements.

Shanks to those who say that my free lunch at work is something I cannot complain about. This is literally part of my compensation plan. I get paid less to be given a mandatory thing.

Shanks to gate agents who don't clear upgrade lists. Shanks to passengers who say "Do you know who I am."

Shanks to Florida for still being a state.

Shanks to those who take up the escalator step and get upset when you ask them to step to the side. Also shanks for the groups of people who walk 3+ people abreast on the sidewalks.

Last and probably worst: Shanks to Alaska Air Group for buying and trying to merge Virgin America into Alaska. No one wants this. Enjoy my constant emails, calls, and complaints to the DOJ and DOT.

 

Thanks

Despite being cathartic, it might have been a bit of a downer to read a bunch of complaints all in a row. I've complied a slightly less terrible list of things that I am grateful for, despite the current circumstances:

Thanks to my new team at Flexport for making me feel at home, making upward professional mobility feel real, and for letting my annoy you all with airline centric facts and stories.

Thanks to Quizlet for introducing me to many of my best friends.

Thanks to Webpass for 3 years of awesome service. Good luck as the new Google Fiber. I can't wait for gigabit wireless internet everywhere.

Thanks to Homar at American Airlines's Eagle Nest in LAX for coming onboard to process my upgrade. You're the best of American.

Thanks to my mentors and friends outside work, you make me feel capable and remind me that I have worth. Thank you Meg and Fang and Christy.

Thanks to Virgin America for being one of the best flight experiences in the industry, and always giving me an invisible microphone to lip-sing your safety dance video. I'm sorry to see you fly into the sunset (not if I and my letters to the DOT/DOJ have anything to do with it!).

Thanks to those who were there to lift me up last week when I went through the election, a breakup, a break-in, and other terribleness.

Thanks to Twitter account bots that post photos of dogs. You have made Twitter tolerable for me.

Thanks to Vice News Tonight, John Oliver, and Gale King for making me want to be part an informed part of this country's future.

Thanks to Jason Levine for giving us the best designer moment in a long time. (Gather the crowd! Shout it aloud! Creative Cloud!)[https://youtu.be/VBP2LPy-eKU?t=15m48s]

Thanks to Iliza Shlesinger for making me laugh uncontrollably in the darkness.

Thanks to McMansion Hell for make me laugh uncontrollably in public.

Thanks to Hillary Duff and the Lizzie McGuire Movie for the trip down memory lane.

Thanks to friends who like to build products and dream up companies with me.

Thanks to Zipcar for giving me that suburban fix I need each week – Cheesecake Factory, Target, Panera, small town mainstreams, large malls, dog parks, and airfield overlooks here I come.

Thanks to Justin Trudeau for being a symbol of greatness. I'm so glad Canada is providing a guiding light to where we will be in 5-7 years.

Thanks to Final Cut Pro X for bringing back to my TV Production roots in a flash.

Thanks for the extended family members that moved to San Francisco and for my sister for providing some sanity on the east coast.

Thanks to everyone for living through my terrible airline anecdotes and nonsense.

Thanks to my favorite authors, podcast makers, and artists who bring beautiful light into world on a regular basis.

Thanks to my grandmother who has brought me so much joy. You are the heart of our family.

Thanks to American, Virgin America, JetBlue, and Delta for helping me experience the miracle of flight this year.

Lastly, but certainly not least, thanks my new housemates for helping me build a home here in San Francisco.

 

In Conclusion

I'm (kinda) bitter.
I'm (mostly) exhausted.
I'm (entirely) ready for 2017.

 

2016, Fuck You. Here's some optimism and a hopeful selfie for 2017.

"Whose Job is it Anyway"

Really wish I could have made it to SDN Global Conference. This talk by Katie Kock of Spotify talked about integrating service design thinking into a product organization. This really resonated with me and my work at Flexport. A lot of what we do is product design and product oriented – with agile working styles. As a designer in a product org, it can become challenging to think long and wide in this constantly shipping climate. However, for me, just knowing others feel the same way was validating and motivating.

A description of Katie's talk is available on the Design for Service blog.

I Believe In Us

As much as we reject the rhetoric that has poisoned our political environment these past 20 months, we cannot simply blacklist those who supported Trump. There were clearly many, many people who quietly (or loudly) supported Trump. They have opinions, feelings, and perspectives that we have negated. Continuing to ignore the voices that dissent from our own views will not haste long term progress.

You might ask why we have to acknowledge their feelings – after all, they are the ones who are supported a candidate who crosses our personal bright lines regrinding our belief in the basics of what the United States stands for? It’s because we have more to give. We have more empathy to give to those who feel like the world is changing too fast, those who cannot empathize with being different, or those who feel (probably for the very first time) that they are the outsiders in their own country.

We can open our hearts a bit more. We can take a deep breath before shutting someone down. We can listen, empathetically, and provide safe spaces to openly talk about these dissenting – to us – views. 

“When they go low, you go high.” — Our fearless leader, Michelle Obama.

When they insult us, discriminate against us, hate us, we can open our hearts, arms, and welcome them to our America. Together. Moving forward. 

We’ve got this. We can do this. I believe in us.


When in doubt, find GIFs of Leslie Knope.

When in doubt, find GIFs of Leslie Knope.

T-Mobile Un-Carrier 11.5

T-Mobile launched the next version of their Un-Carrier Movement today.

Is it more free stuff? 
No.
Is it something bright pink?
No.
Is it worth millions of dollars?
You betcha.

As part of a settlement with the FCC, T-Mobile paid a $48 million dollar fine for misleading consumers with opaque data prioritization policies. Particularly with customers who have "Unlimited" plans.

Yes, you agree with the FCC so much that you're paying $48 million dollars in fines.
 

If you're happy to help schools, why did it take you getting caught doing shady, misleading stuff to do it? 


T-Mobile has consistently tried to hide behind a wall of profanity and magenta to mislead consumers into thinking that Net Neutrality isn't important, that everyone needs throttled Unlimited data, and more sinisterly, that they are different than other wireless providers.

In fact, they aren't. They hide behind complex legal contracts and policies to promise Unlimited data without having to following through on it.

I've talked ad nauseam about T-Mobile's less than perfect Net Neutrality track record and their bad marketing choices. I've confronted T-Mobile's CTO on Twitter, where he lied publicly and contradicted his own Open Internet policy. I've filed several FCC complaints against the firm – so much so that I now have a regular contact at T-Mobile's Executive Response team. 

This recent "Un-carrier" move shows how much T-Mobile has in common with other wireless carriers. Paying fines, spinning said fines as a good thing, having to backtrack marketing efforts, adding disclaimers, having to apologize publicly and provide extra data for those affected. 

T-Mobile's Customer Benefit page required by the FCC as part of the recent settlement

T-Mobile's Customer Benefit page required by the FCC as part of the recent settlement

The entire marketing and brand backbone for T-Mobile has been being a different carrier than AT&T and Verizon. I hope we can all start waking up to this shell game. All data plans are shell games in effect. With their billing practices changing every 3 months. 

I'm happy that I've been able to be part of forcing their hand a bit. I hope my continued complaints about data throttling, misleading marketing policies, and incorrect comments from executives will force them to honor their word – and the bright line rules from the federal government.

A Pod of Whales

En route back from a research trip to Los Angles, I was able to snap a few photos from a live pod of whales. Specifically a British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Singapore, Korean, and Emirates Airbus A380s. Even was able to see a Qatar A350 poking beyond the Tom Bradly terminal.

One of the many benefits of flying out of American Airline's remote terminal, aka, "The Eagles Nest" at KLAX.

A Grand Plan for the Future

There is a specific video of my younger self Mom likes to show me; recorded on a camcorder back in the 90’s, later transferred to a VHS. The tape shows the wear of living its life an oversized Tupperware container for years: it is worn, and scratched and features the hallmark rolling effect of media from decades past. Previously, finding these memories required splunking and clambering over dozens of dusty VHS tapes, all bearing the same, now off-white labels and black sharpie scrawl: Quinn's 3rd Birthday. Meeting Mickey Mouse. Kindergarten Play. The tapes are no longer hidden away in a closet at my parent home; they have long since been transposed into a digital form, where they found everlasting life. Just one cloud and three taps away. Oddly closer to me in a large windowless datacenter than they had been for their entire previous existence. 

With instant access to my entire childhood, I find myself turning back to those videos in odd moments. From any connected device I can sit miles and years away, from a former self. 

I can’t remember these filmed moments all that clearly – the years of distance trimming the memory into the form of repeatable loops of senses. Visions of birthdays and Christmases and homes from decades ago. Smells of houses, textures of blankets and pets. Despite my memory's shortfalls, I can summon documentation of the past from anywhere. Three taps and my blueish, brownish, greenish eyes appear and momentarily lock at my parents holding the camera during when I was 5 or 6. On some stage, I’m making small hand moves to represents clouds. Singing about “Big Big Dreams,” all while standing in front of parents, family, and friends, suited up in the uniform of the job I wanted. A performance ripped straight from the pages of a Richard Scary book. Heads above other, I’m dressed in a pressed white shirt and black slacks; a fancy waiter ready to serve. 

I think about all the futures I have wanted since I first learned what careers and futures really were. 

  • Garbage truck diver (who doesn’t want to drive around in an awesome truck and pull levers to crush things)
  • Fancy waiter
  • Flight attendant
  • Writer
  • IT consultant
  • CEO
  • Filmaker
  • Technical director
  • Software developer
  • User Experience designer
  • Service designer

Each refinement seems completely natural to me, following my interests as they swayed from the creative (writing) to the service oriented (IT) and then nestling somewhere in the middle (service designer). 

Each step makes sense when living under the assumption that my job is directly, or even solely, needed to help attain the larger goals in my life. In fact, much of my goals are my jobs. Removing that and my future goals lay out like a stream of consciousness:

Daydreaming about a big colonial house in the suburbs up north, fall leaves landing in the yard. Friendly neighbors. A partner to share it with. A dog and maybe a kid. A fun car and a serious car. Red sweaters and coffee and crisp mornings to share. Monday nights with friends and football games. Road trips to small towns with neat shops and boutique hotels. A Local restaurant where we’re regulars. Framed photos of trips abroad. A cozy room that’s just full of books, comfy, overstuffed chairs, and a big fireplace. A back porch that is host to fun evenings with loved ones. Community board meetings and block parties. Big thanksgiving dinners, easter egg hunts in the backyard, and a close-nit circle of people I can share my life with. 

It’s this collage of memories that I haven’t had yet – essentially a series of aspirations. An amalgamation of what’s expected from society, pitched as happiness in the media, and architected out of the depths of my insecurities and quietest hopes. 

 

It’s my grand plan for the future. 

However the path to those goals is nearly completely obfuscated. It’s not that I can’t see myself there – I clearly can – it’s more about the when. The timing of this plan. The middle steps that lead to this life.

Recently I found myself sitting in seat 2D on an short flight from southern California. I picked up the “Celebrated Living” magazine peeking out from the seat back pocket. Its pages filled with beautiful photos of exotic destinations and opulent hotels. Stories from “movers and shakers”: men and woman who are making a name for themselves. Striving for what they want most. I was engrossed, reading slowly- thinking if I just pictured myself in their shoes maybe I’d find the personal drive and passion that I beg my checklists, my self-help books, and my therapist for. 

In the backseat of a hired car, winding, towards the city after landing, I listened to Rebecca Solnit read her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost. The collection of essays feature various philosophical positions spurred by moments in her past. Listening to her speak as I traveled rhythmically towards my current definition of home spurred a reanalysis of the stream-of-consciousness set of goals printed above. 

Solnit’s breathy reference of Vladimir Nabokov’s quote: “The lost glove is happy” resonated and caused my thoughts to pause. Who had exactly derived this block of life directions? I was certainly a willing editor – taking fragments of moments and drawing on cultural exceptions to architect a path. A path that pushed few boundaries. But was I truly forging a life of meaning and happiness or working more to choreographing an environment I hoped upon hope would grow happiness organically? Could I not rethink this whole process and accept the dearth of a clear path forward? More questions hounded me.

Would I be happier in a different career, or different city? Would I be happy solving IT problems in a small southern town? Maybe I’d be happy jet setting to faraway lands as a purser for an international airline. I could find happiness writing and researching? Or producing television? Dropping in to guide teams towards better software design? Ultimately, would I have to find another series of careers, or better yet, a focus beyond careers to find happiness? 

Perhaps I could find meaning while drinking tea in a strange land. Or, at least, find some peace or space. The thoughts raced in my head, stopped only when the hired driver flagged my attention for navigational assistance. 

I’m reminded of the many times I treasured disappearing. Extracurricular stories I wrote focused on kidnappings and my disappearances to obscure cities around the country: Bismark ND, outside Chicago, IL, Portland, ME. I saved a post from the infamous PostSecret blog post which featured this image that resonated deeply. 

Late in high school, as the tormenting (both internal and external) progressed I would recite a secret Plan B: When I got really, truly tired of the bullying and accepted that I was not going to ever fit in here, when the tensions at home or the stress of academics became too great, I’d run away. I would drive to the airport and buy a one way ticket to second-tier city and find a way to start working as an Apple Store Genius. I’d remake my life out there. 

To be honest, I still occasionally dream of this. When I’m feeling particularly apathetic – disconnected from my goals or disillusioned with “my grand plans” to finding joy – the notion of burning my current identity becomes immensely alluring. (In the same way that throwing away responsibilities and disregarding consequences is.) I would give myself the gift of a new soul. One that wasn’t tainted or scarred from past injuries. No longer bound by painful experiences and self-inflected introspection. Instead, I would be transformed into what I desired but haven’t found a way to successfully evolve into. 

Losing myself to be able to find what’s really there. Giving space to quieter voices in my head that don’t speak often or loudly, but speak with clarity. The quieter thoughts that center me and guide me to step back and experience true, uncomplicated pleasure: otherwise known as joy.

Looking back, I notice how the few moments true joy stand apart so different than the moments of simply happiness. Every day has happy moments, but they are inherently tied to additional complicated emotions. Noticeably these moments of joy were removed from the constant expectations of a career, the responsibilities of the next day or even the next moment. They were rare but uncomplicated and unexpected:

  1. I experienced joy as a child when I built a fort of out blankets and pillows during a large, distinctly southern thunderstorm. My imagination took me and a best friend to an African safari campsite, complete with lanterns, tents, and a movie featuring Steve Irwin. Thunder crashed and lightning spiked as we conceived of adventures in an far-flung, exotic world. 
  2. I experienced joy on my sixteenth birthday, standing in a long line outside the Apple Store in the St. Johns Town Center awaiting the first iPhone. I cheered as the clock struck six o’clock, stepping inside the store and was met with cheers and high-fives floating on either side. Running through a stream of Apple-logo cheerleaders and getting to be part of realizing the future together.
  3. I experienced joy when I was 19 and walked towards the low bridge on a golf course near my childhood house. Dark purple storm clouds murmured beyond the treetops, miles away. The wind was strong, oscillating between cool, dry gusts and the heavy, warm air that was ever-present in a Florida summer. The complimentary winds swirled through the nearby willow tree, across the lake, and into man-made hills of the golf course. It felt metaphoric, and fleeting, as all ‘moments before the storm’ are.
  4. I experienced joy last year when I wave to Jenny while walking out the Admirals Club and settle into seat 7A on American Airlines flight 276. Champagne was served and I toasted the San Francisco International Airport as my overnight, transcontinental flight pushes back. After takeoff, I settle into my first class bed, spending time reading a favorite essay, watching a favorite show, and later drifting into a deep sleep under the soft glow of map of our flight. Engines purr and the aircraft rocks gently back and forth as I sleep more peacefully than I had in months. I cherished each moment of that voyage. 
  5. I experienced joy last week as I walked down Burlingame Ave outside San Francisco. The quintessential fall beverage, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, clasped in one hand. The bright blue autumn skies above. Cool breezes pushed golden leaves to dance in my periphery. Well dressed shoppers bustle from boutique to boutique, pausing – like me – to listen to the ringing in of the next season. 

My most cherished, joyful memories were not moments were I was accepted into university or offered a job. Those were fun, thrilling acts in my life. I didn't really cherish the feelings when I achieved good grades, high scores, or received diplomas. Instead, these moments of joy are when I feel wholly unburdened. Exceptionally aware of the present. Not frozen with anxiety towards tomorrow or moored in concern while reliving the past. I so rarely feel joy this completely.

I focus so much of my mental energy into figuring out what’s next. Filling my head with thoughts towards a future of expectations and plans. It’s why I fantasize becoming lost in dreams of leaving everything behind. All in a pursuit of finding everlasting (or even long lasting) joy. Which is clearly something I cannot seek out. I certainly haven’t been successful in my attempts to accurately anticipate or conjure it’s arrival. 

Deep down, I doubt my ability to cope well in a situations where I am not anchored by jobs or relationships. So instead, I stand here. Balancing a comforting picture of one future and allure of renewal. Possibly they will offset and stabilize the turbulent inner monologue I singlehandedly write, perform, and critique. 

Perhaps this entire exercise in formalizing these thoughts was a waste. I hope not. 

It's Total Bullshit

”If you're not pissed off already, you should be." — John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

John Legere once again took to social media and video to announce the latest “#Uncarrier" move. T-Mobile in the US have begun branding their shakeups and new announcements to the wireless industry through their branded events. Each filled with magenta, Ledger's cursing, and giant text screaming the big statements. The fine print appearing briefly as he speaks.

John Legere and Net Neutrality

When John Legere unexpectedly posted the latest uncarrier move last week – normally these events are filled with members of the media — I was intrigued. I’m one of his new customers (as of 2015). He had previously introduced a practice of "zero-rating" [^1] certain types of media. For instance, their "Music Freedom" initiative doesn't charge your data plan for any consumed data while streaming music from a large set of music streaming services. With Binge On, he allowed customers to opt-in to a standard definition version of streaming video (from a wide set of sources) which would also not be deducted from a customer's data plan.

Music Freedom did get the net neutrality pundits (including me) a bit nervous. Net neutrality is an important part of keeping the internet a free, open, and level playing field. By allowing certain services to be "free" against a data plan, T-Mobile is endorsing certain products and providing an unfair advantage against services who aren’t partnered with the carrier. While FCC's wireless regulations, including how "unlimited" data works with T-Mobile’s soft-caps, is still pitiful in my opinion, it's pretty clear you can't treat data differently. So much for bright line regulations.

Doubling Down

Worse was the nervous chatter when T-Mobile announced Binge On. This new feature (which would be enabled by default starting a few days after the announcement) would use "proprietary technology" to force video streams to 480p of maximum resolution. Plus, for a number of streaming partners, which is now in the dozens, the video streams (while Binge On was enabled) would be zero rated.

It’s saying something that mobile internet service providers, like T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon should just be dumb internet pipes. They shouldn’t be sniffing through packets and tracking data sources to determine billing costs. All that being said, for most users, getting 1080p or 720p High Definition video on their phones isn't an ideal experience. If their cell phone service is working well, HD video can stream just fine, yet much of the time, the cellular service isn't strong enough for smooth, uninterrupted playback. Also, streaming HD video will definitely eat into your data plan. Even highly compressed HD video runs at 1GB / hour. Watch a few episodes of The Daily Show or stream some YouTube enough, and your 5GB data plan will be toast. Ultimately, in my opinion, that should just be left for the video apps and customers to determine. Not for the carrier to step in and manage automatically.

T-Mobile did adjust their service after hearing (and responding to) the backlash from pro-net neutrality groups, like the EFF. They introduced a simple phone option code, option on their website, and an toggle in their iOS and Android apps. Toggling this feature would let users adjust if they were using Binge On’s technology or if they wanted uninterrupted video.

Personally, I enabled and disabled Binge On many times during the first few weeks of the service being available. Twitter, YouTube, and other video services weren’t integrated as partners yet. Basically, T-Mobile provided some technicals ways to determine Binge On customers for these video services, so they could tell if they should only send 480p versions of the video. If the servers weren’t integrated with T-Mobile, Binge On would attempt to throttle speeds down on the videos to force them into 480p. Often, this left non-optimized players stuttering and struggling to provide smooth playback.

Lately, I have not noticed any significant playback difference between Binge On and standard video playback. In fact, now that either T-Mobile’s systems are smarter or that more video providers are aware of the throttling, playback is far smoother than it was before the zero-rating was introduced.

Interestingly, after launching Binge On, T-Mobile became a bit more clear about how their 97th percentile group of users who would be “deprioritized" on their network. In this system, T-Mobile would stop considering them to be heavy data users, and put them into a bucket into a user group that would be provided data in a lower priority that customers who had not consumed as much of their data plan. Every billing cycle, it would reset. Is it lowering your speed because of how you consume on the internet? Yes. Is it throttling? Yes. Do they want to use the term throttling? No.

T-Mobile uses the same euphemism as every ISP: network management. Every month the average total on-network data is tallied up and the threshold is updated. Currently its enabled for customers who use more than 26GB of data in a single billing cycle. Interestingly, this soft cap does count zero rated music and video streaming. It also counts the 14GB of LTE hotspot data that is included on my line. Now, under your data usage for the month, there is a meter for “Total On-Network data.”

So while it might not be the usage data you’re worried about for your monthly bill, it is the usage data that impacts your ability to use your phone.

Let’s unleash complexity on your bill

My undying hatred of companies who set expectations high, only to purposely design gauntlets that ensures they don’t meet them, burns bright. T-Mobile, following in step with this design, decided that they would forgo straightforward options for their customers. Their current Simple Choice branded offerings, where every line included unlimited calling, SMS, asks customer to chose how much data you would like. This is being phased out. Replaced, instead, with T-Mobile One.

This new plan would give every customer “unlimited data.” The big headlines all read “The Data Bucket is Dead.” Not shown as big was how the entry price jumped, from $50/mo for an individual line to $70/mo.

On top of that, the fine print just tripled. Your data would be unlimited, but the ability to stream HD video requires adding on an HD video feature, which costs $25/line. If you liked that hotspot data that was included with your plan, get ready to shell out $15 per 5GB per line, or deal with dial-up speeds. If you want to not have to use their silly auto-billing feature, add $5/line. All of this fine print also obscures how they still throttle, ahem, reprioritize customers who use data heavier than most.

Read that last paragraph again. It’s filled with exceptions to the rules, and contexts where the phrase “Unlimited Data” doesn’t apply.

T-Mobile’s “cellular revolution” ruse has come to light. We all, deep down, knew it was just a marketing plan. These announcements make it abundantly clear. All the benefits and changes are just cost-shifting measures. T-Mobile United States is hemorrhaging money for their German parent company and is looking back longingly at the levels of bullshit the big carriers have to generate cash.

It’s just a shell game

Every few months, the way T-Mobile and other carriers bill for usage changes. Then way we use our phones, unsurprisingly, doesn’t. These “carriers” are just big dumb pipes to provide us internet access wirelessly. Internet service is a utility– but only wireline seems to be treated so.

Imagine if your local utility changed their entire cost structure and way you’re being billed every quarter. Imagine if they ran around talking about their new billing plan for electricity and water. Every few months, you stare at your bill quizzically. Tallying the amount of discounts, and zero-rating you get and the new way your being billed. Making sure you’re not paying more for less.

This confusing jargon is going convince a majority of cellphone users to upgrade needlessly. This is the entire system T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have set up is meant to confuse and get users to make choices that are not in their best interests.

We can hope that the FCC finally steps in and starts to regulate this scattered, confusing, and user hostile industry.

[^1]: Zero Rating is a term used meaning that the cost per GB or per MB is rated to nothing. Essentially it means flagging as free on a carrier's billing system.

Radar #2757209

Dear Apple Developer Relations,

Please don't contact me asking for additional diagnostics from a crash that prevented my Mac from being even a bit operational. It has been multiple days. I'm pleased you followed up, but I doubt anyone would just leave their Mac in an "unable to log in" state until you deigned to reply with additional questions. 

Sincerely,
Quintin Carlson

Flash Has Been Disabled for Your Security

As masochistic people like myself are prone to do, I upgraded my Mac to the latest beta operating system, macOS Sierra. Four hours into my new "Life Sierra," I attempted to watch my favorite television program, Last Week Tonight. HBO GO's website mentioned that I did not have Adobe Flash installed. (Odd, since it worked yesterday.) Clicking through to Adobe's Flash player installation page, Safari announced that it has disabled Flash on all sites for security purposes. 

Apparently, in the latest preview of macOS Sierra, enabling Flash is hidden away in Safari's Preferences, under Security and then Plug-In Settings.

Security-pluginsettings-flash

While some developers might cheer that we are finally saying goodbye to Flash, it's important to remember the long arc of platform dependence. Flash is a prerequisite for using more services than you would image. Entertainment services, HBO GO and Hulu included, still require it before content can be played. Many older online uploading services require Flash to manage file submissions. There are government, banking, and enterprise websites that will still require Flash for years to come.

We as product developers and designers can push technologies we dislike to the side. Erecting purposeful barriers to entry, following a Neilson-Normal design heuristic known as Error Prevention. This is why deleting files requires often requires multiple steps and confirmations. Same for navigating to risky websites or changing privacy settings.

As tech-savvy people, we opt-out of services, file formats, platforms, and even cut out physical utilities without hesitation. Apple's Flash whitelisting is, deep down, admirable. Users experience worse battery life and are exposed to far more security venerabilities when using Flash. The Safari team's move will undoubtably push companies to changes to Flass-less experiences.

However, it's still really important to remember that for many end-users, having to dig around in security preferences to whitelist Flash, one site at at time, could be truly frustrating. As users navigate in Sierra, Safari will occasionally pop up and mention that 'This site is requesting Flash' and users can approve Flash usage for one-time or on a permanent basis. This sea-change in how Flash is treated in Safari might cause users to just get fatigued by Flash approval prompts. Where users will become worn down and stop reading any warning before approving Flash permanently could be problematic. See Window's User Access Control.

I'm by no means advocating for keeping insecure, user-hostile software around for any longer than absolutely necessary. Personally, I'm ecstatic to have "Click-to-Flash" integrating directly into Safari.

After watching Microsoft's dark pattern upgrade dumpter-fire extravaganza to push users, unwittingly, into new new operating systems, I'm probably being overly cautious with forcing behavioral changes. I don't want our technological zealousness to overtake the 90% of humans out there who don't give a damn if Flash is or isn't disabled. They don't care about the video streaming technology, as long as House of Cards, The Blacklist or NCIS play for them on their computer. This stands as a reminder that we need to continue being mindful about designing these changes.

Still, I'm going to sit here and smile while staring into the sunset as Adobe Flash continues to fade away. Slowly. Very Slowly.

“You'll stay with me?'
'Until the very end'"
J.K. Rowling.

Dial Zero to Speak with a Representative

Breathing in, the green ‘Call’ button is tapped, followed by a brief moment of silence.

[Branded chimes, tone, and a bit of static flavor]
Thank you for contacting Corporate Customer Relations.
Para español oprima siete.
Please listen closely as our options have changed.
If you are looking to purchase new service, press one.
For the status of an order, press two.
For support with an existing service or product, press three.
For billing and bill-related questions, press four.

Shifting uncomfortably, I adjust my phone, no longer cradling it between my shoulder and my awkwardly angled ear.

I think: None of these make sense. I just need to talk to someone. I dial Zero.

I understand you want to speak with someone, but before I can connect you, please tell me in just a few words what you’re calling about.

I open my mouth, “My order for t—”. The voice cuts in:

For instance you can say something like “technical support, sales, or billing”

We both pause. A misplaced human moment. We have talked over each other. Hurried, like two friends trying to suggest restaurants for a overdue lunch date…

Did you say: Order Status?

My head shakes, “No ”

My mistake. Please use a few words to describe the nature of your call.

A small sigh escapes my mouth, followed by “Representative. ” The guilty feeling of pulling the phone tree escape hatch dissipates quickly.

I understand you would like to speak to somone. To get you to the right department, please select from the following four options.

For fucks sake.

For new orders, press 1.
For existing orders and order status, press 2.
For technical support, press 3.
For billing, press 4.

I dial zero hard. I press it four times.

0.0.0.0.

Thinking if I press zero on my phone for a long two seconds it will give the robot on the other end a better idea of who its dealing with.

Please stay on the line. A representative will be with your shortly.

Music begins to fade in and out of phone line's trademark soft static.

We are experiencing a higher than usual call volume. Your estimated hold time is 14 minutes or less.

My eyes close as my head tilts back. Big breath. In and out.

SFO > LAX > LAS > LAX > SFO

The boyfriend wanted to hit the skies last weekend. He found a steal of a trip from San Francisco, SFO, to Las Vegas via Los Angles, LAX. 

We got to spend about 4 hours in LA on the outbound, enjoying the sun at Venice Beach.

Since we exited the airport in both LA and Las Vegas, I had the distinct pleasure of three TSA screenings. While in LA, I was reminded of the time my class visited Anaheim, CA. After spending a number of days competing in television production competitions, we were headed back to Jacksonville, FL. The TSA decided that with half our class through the checkpoint, it was a perfect time to do a "Code Blue." (This is when they close the checkpoint for a bomb drill.) It wasn't great timing for our chaperones scrambling to corral 25 students through the backscatter machines. 

Our trip this weekend was far less exciting. I was randomly selected one out of three times, and after passing the millimeter wave screen without issues, I was on my way. However, it did remind me a bit of this awesome music video about the TSA. (Did you know TSA officers in Las Vegas wear shorts? Learning something new every day.)

International security checkpoint at Tom Bradley International Terminal at KLAX.