RL310 - Quiet Moments

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: John doesn’t need to talk to his toaster, referring to the Internet of things that John maybe wants to install in his potential new house.

The show title refers to the name of the color Merlin’s wife painted their bedroom with. Merlin would describe it as light blue.

During the show Merlin asked for a 10 minute break because he thought there was a delivery attempt, but it was not. He has various means to monitor those.

They start the show singing each other’s names. Merlin sings O-o-h Child by Five Stairsteps and they agree that it is a good song. Merlin powered through this weekend and has a lot going on.

Merlin is not entirely sure that the abundance of information we receive in our lives is always wholesome, especially the Internet of Things things that have a bad signal and noise ratio.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Merlin's wife painting their bedroom (RL310)

Merlin's wife decided for them to paint the bedroom, but you have to move a lot of stuff to paint the bedroom. The color is called Quiet Moments, but Merlin would describe it as light blue. It is nice and soothing and the room lights up really well when you open the blinds. They did two coats of it. Merlin was not involved in any of those decisions, he didn’t even know they were going to paint, but he just got a text that she had a wish for this weekend. She did most of the job, but Merlin did a lot of the moving.

Merlin feeling less bad (RL310)

This is such an old-man thing, Merlin gets a malady once or twice a year, a nerve thing called Pyriphormis Syndrom or at least a Sciatica where he gets big pain in his buttal and legal area. It has been bad because it has distracted him and he has a hard time to sleep. He was off his game the whole weekend, but he powered through it. They had the Walkathon on Sunday, there was lots of stuff to do, and he also got a flu-shot. For whatever reason it is not gone yet but way less bad today. Few things are better for a man of Merlin’s age than waking up and feeling less bad.

The first voice in the morning (RL310)

No matter how good or bad John feels, the first voice he hears speak to him in the morning from inside the house is ”You are a loser!” or ”There is so much to do today! I’m never going to get it all done.” The number one reason why he would like a personal assistant or a butler would be that someone would come in in the morning, open the blinds and say ”Good morning Mr. Rodrick [sic]!” (without the ”e”, in a British voice) It would be the opposite of Memento Mori, where the guy would whisper to the king ”You are mortal!” Merlin and John wished they had somebody who whispered to them ”You are going to be fine!”

The last voice John heard yesterday was at about 3:30am: ”It is 3:30am and you have to get up at 7:30am!” so when he got up at 7:30am the first voice said ”See! You went to bed at 3:30am and now how do you feel?”, meaning that the first voice was already lecturing him about the day. He rolled out of bed, tumbled to the kitchen, poured himself a cup of ambition, yawned and stretched and tried to come to life (lyrics from Nine To Five by Dolly Parton), jumped in (out of) a cab like a stuntman dummy, little did he know he was still doing twenty, nearly broke his neck but he thought it was funny, because he made it uptown and didn’t spend any money. (lyrics from You Ain’t Fresh by Boogie Boys) Merlin thought this was a Will Smith rap, but having depressing Will Smith raps in your head would be so catchy and you would be so fucked. Merlin had Running on Empty (by Jackson Browne) in his head for a few days and that is a good song to have in your head.

The Eagles (RL310)

The other day John was in a restaurant and they had some kind of playlist where he heard four Eagles songs during the course of a meal. What kind of Spotify could you put on that would have four Eagles songs in the course of a normal meal? If that was Smooth Sounds of the 1970s, you would have had 700 songs to chose from. Merlin likes the Eagles although it is not popular to like them, but four songs during a normal meal is too much Eagles for a pseudo-random situation. Those songs were not any deep cuts and the question is if there even are any deep cuts because there were so many singles.

Lyin’ Eyes, Best of my Love, I can’t tell you Why were all big songs. They look up ”Eagles Deep Cuts” and came up with this page that mentions Train Leaves Here This Morning, Out of Control, The Last Resort, Good Day in Hell, Journey of the Sorcerer, and The Disco Strangler, which is from the album The Long Run that is described as slick mishmash of funk, glam pop and club-tailored Robo-Rock. Merlin makes a DJ Radio Voice which sounds the same as being really angry, they have talked about this before. Merlin’s radio voice sounds like Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler from the movie Predator. His lifestyle is his death style.

John painting the back porch (RL310)

John and his mom painted the back porch and she just came in a minute ago with her finger out like she was offering him some cookie dough, but it was covered with white paint and she was telling him that they had painted that porch 5 days ago and the paint is still not dry, something is wrong! She hopes it is not something with the paint because the whole house is painted with that paint. She painted it on a sunny day and there is no reason the paint should be milky like that. Her last suggestion was to put some carpet over it, but John didn’t want to put carpet over wet paint. He didn’t know what her goal with that carpet was.

John painting his dad’s wall sunshine yellow (RL310)

One time back when John was in his ”drug years”, he and a friend were in John’s dad’s apartment down at the ski resort. It was a railroad style or shotgun style apartment with one wall going the entire length of the apartment all the way from the front door to the back door and all the rooms went off from this one hall, a continuous uninterrupted wall without a door. Maybe they were doing drugs, but John suggested to paint that wall yellow. They moved everything, they taped it, because John is very meticulous, and over the course of this weekend they painted it sunshine yellow, let it dry and pulled all the tape off and it looked like a professional job with the exception that it was sunshine yellow which no professional painter would have chosen.

At the end of the weekend, they woke up or shook off their fog, they had put all the paintings back on the wall, it looked amazing. John’s dad came home, walked into his house and there was a sunshine yellow wall that was 150 feet (45 m) long that was the main wall of the house and he lived with it for 5 or 6 years. John was really proud of it every time he walked in. His dad might not even have remarked upon it, but he was never mad about it. One day John showed up and the wall was painted back to normal white and again, no remark was made. It was one of those transactions that happened between John and his dad between 1987 and 1992, which was a 5-year period where they were living in the sunshine.

The Internet of Things at John’s potential new house (RL310)

This morning as he was driving John was daydreaming about the Internet of Things. He is thinking a lot about a new house and if he maybe is going to have the Internet of Things. There is a fantasy in which John has perfect knowledge. He will have locks on the doors that all respond to his phone, that he can lock and unlock remotely from deep inside his underground bunker. There could be a squirrel on his back porch and he could lock and unlock the door frantically with his phone to scare the squirrel away.

There would be outdoor cameras for him to see all around the property, there would be a split-screen scenario with between 6 and 9 different views, like a Bond super-villain, maybe he would be able to see infrared as well for nighttime viewing. There would be some outdoor lights that could be triggered remotely. If someone was sneaking in the bushes, John would be able to turn a light on that was concealed in the bushes or he might have speakers around the yard so that he could speak to them quietly through a speaker in the bushes, like ”What do you think you are doing?” That would be some fucking spooky shit!

John is not that worried to change the temperature in his house remotely from his phone and thermostats do not need to be connected to the Internet of Things. John doesn’t want his refrigerator to have a TV in it, he doesn’t need to talk to his toaster, but he is getting better talking to Siri.

He would like to be able to have the split screen view in his house and access it from his laptop or his phone, but he also likes a master computer somewhere in the house that would be connected to a switch box with 10 buttons on it and he could push button number 2 to bring up camera number 2, like a personal panopticon. He could also ask Siri to bring up camera number 5, but he would probably have his own proprietary assistant like Bernadette or Brenda and he could say ”Brenda, bring up camera 4!”, but that would be too much alliteration.

John does not want to talk to Alexa though, because he is not sure if he trusts her. He couldn’t do that kind of compound shit here at this house because it was aesthetically inappropriate. This is a farm house and it would be reverse anachronism, because his house would be vintage and all this gear would be un-vintage. This is the type of house that you protect with a sword and tiger traps, but the new house would be more consistent with having these Bond-villain upgrades.

John built a fort inside a giant rhododendron in his daughter’s mother’s backyard by hollowing out all the dead branches inside the rhododendron. From the outside it just looks like a giant rhododendron, but from the inside it is a cathedral. His daughter started calling it Fort Rhodi and her other fort under the really big Japanese maple is Fort Maple. John doesn’t want his Siri be called Rhoda, because that could get confused.

John wants a full-on Matt Haughey situation where he can lie in bed, ask himself if he locked the back door and lock it from his phone. According to Merlin we are not quite ready to make John’s panopticon work in a way that would be satisfying to him. The current stuff is working well, but doesn’t feel like much of a development. The single largest thing that is not there yet is that all the stuff is not really well integrated.

Apple Homekit works with some things, but it is not plug-and-play and there is no standard for this stuff working together, especially when it comes to personal assistants. Merlin continues to talk about home automation. A lot of people say that if you are a target, everything is hackable. If John and Merlin and Marco Arment decided that they were going to make it 110 degrees (43 °C) inside of Matt Haughey’s living room, there are probably various exploits that could be caused to do that.

They made it real hot somewhere in Mr. Robot. He is in Queen now (Rami Malek is in the Queen biopic ”Bohemian Rhapsody”), but while he is amazing, the movie is ”Meh”. They put out a couple new tracks, like Don’t Stop Me Now Revisited with new Brian May guitar tracks on it that are pretty damn good.

The question is also how much John trusts the companies that are doing this stuff, but John doesn’t trust any companies. Merlin recommends smart switches instead of smart lightbulbs. In the movie Weird Science the character was waking up in the morning and a Rube Goldberg machine was making his toast. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure definitely had that as well. Merlin has never seen Weird Science or Real Genius, but it sounds like it could be in a movie like that.

Back in the 1970s Merlin had a bespoke stick of his own design that would let him change the channels on the TV from a distance. John rigged up his room with a series of pulleys to accomplish that. He was trying to get it to make him Ice Tea in the morning back when he drank 14 glasses of Liption Instant Ice Tea a day because he thought it was the most amazing thing. He had it all figured out, but he couldn’t get the right combination of strings and pulleys to actually pour the water into the tea. There was no architecture of switches, though!

1980s Intercom systems (RL310)

Merlin starts talking about Intercoms, like they recently mentioned on ATP (Episode 295). John’s mom had an Intercom like that in her house in the 1980s with a master control panel in the kitchen and an AM/FM Radio. She loved it! It seemed pretty swanky for the time, but you realized quickly that you could simply shout after your mom without using it. She also had central vacuum where she would put the hose in the little slot. In the late 1990s / early 2000s you got houses wired with Ethernet. When John and his mom rebuilt her house they wired it with Ethernet and HiFi-wire so you could put a HiFi-stereo somewhere and run the speakers to different rooms. It was pretty hot!

Fan Death (RL310)

They talk about the Fan Death superstition in Korea where all fans sold have timers on them. It would be even cooler if it would cause death remotely, like Spooky Action at a distance. John was going to put this in The Omnibus!. John could get an Internet of Things switch to turn the fan off. Merlin reads about Culture-Bound Syndrome and they mention some examples.

John got an Apple Watch (RL310)

John needs to talk to Merlin about the Internet of things, because a lot of the time he is 3-4 years ahead of what he wants his technology to do compared to what it can actually do. Every day he is wondering if that is really the best his Apple Watch can do. There are at least 7 ways to track how many times he pees every day, but he doesn’t want any of that. The other day the watch decided that he was on a walk while he was driving 40 mph (65 km/h) and it thought he ran 12 miles (20 km).

Adam Pranica asked John if he would Walkie Talkie with him and when John looked down on his watch, all of a sudden Adam Pranica’s little page was on there, it said Walkie Talkie on the top and a ”+”-symbol. John is not sure whether that means that Adam wants to talk to him or if he accidentally went onto that page and he doesn't know what happens if he presses that ”+”-button. Merlin requests to talk to John over Walkie Talkie during the show and they are playing around with that thing for a while until it stopped working. Sometimes it is difficult to know why things are happening or not happening. John apparently also invited his mom to Walkie Talkie, but she ghosted him. Merlin finds all that a terrible idea.

There was a brand of phone in the late 1990s / early 2000s that had a Walkie Talkie functionality built in. Merlin wonders when we stopped learning how to hold a phone to our ear to talk and started doing speaker phone for everything! For John that is zero times except now he has this stupid watch which won’t allow him to do things without talking to it. They both play with Siri, sending texts to each other saying that the other one is a dingeling, like ”Hej Siri, tell Merlin he is a dingeling” and the other way around. John likes the thing where you can draw letters on it.

John started talking about getting an Apple Watch in RL306 because he wanted to leave his phone at home, which has proven to be ambitious because John has been a zero amount of Siri user before. The initial challenge has been that John wears his watch on his inside left wrist, which he learned from his dad, because when you are a pilot you can have both hands at your yoke and still look down at your watch.

John thought that airplanes probably had a clock in the dash. You also had a picture of your best gal pinned to the dash, a map of Iwo Jima, your watch on your inside wrist and a 45 in your shoulder holster to shoot a Zero (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) out of the sky. John put his Apple Watch on his inside left wrist to start with, but the watch couldn’t figure it out. Every time he turned his wrist and lifted it up, the watch turned itself off.

John looked into it and read some message boards. The Apple engineers had thought about the fact that people would want it on different wrists and there are two configurations where you can have left wrist/right wrist, but it doesn’t work. Apple has calibrated the little radars, the hot links in the back that zap your precious bodily fluids, for outside wrist, but the inside wrist is where all your veins are and it should be way easier. The message boards said that if the watch is on the inside wrist, it can’t figure it out and will tell you that your heart is beating 700 beats a minute.

It seems like a thing where the Apple engineers have a prejudice. Not enough people have Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome for the medicine people to invest the money to find a cure and who wears their watch on their inside wrist? Not enough people that the Apple engineers feel like they have to worry about it. Apple doesn’t support the troops! What about the troops and the first responders? What about a C47 pilot flying over Iwo Jima who doesn’t want to take their hand off the yoke!

All of a sudden John had to wear his watch on the outside of his wrist, which he had never done and it makes him feel like going outside without his glasses on, because everywhere he goes, his watch is facing out into the world. Everybody can see it and it is going to get scraped if John has to go over a fence. That was the first thing he had to accept and couldn’t fight, which is normally what he would do. For a week and a half he kept it on his inside wrist and thought he was going to stick it to the man, but he bought an expensive thing that he cannot wear the way he wants.

John put the watch on the outside where the snorks wear it and where the man makes him wear it, but he didn’t flip back around from when he had told it that he was wearing it at his right wrist, which meant that his little dongle button was on the bottom left corner of the watch because it is flipped around, which is great because he can control the button dongle with his thumb, which is the digit he prefers wheels and buttons with.

John went online and asked if this is a thing and he found a whole sub-community of people who think that this is the hack, the flip-around thumb button hack. At least he feels like he is in some subculture here that is not the snork-culture. There have been some people asking why his button is on the wrong side, but John just replied ”Why don’t you go to your regular job, snork?”

One of the things John uses his phone for is maps. He likes maps and he likes to see what is going on, but he doesn’t like directions. He will put in the destination, look at the map and then close it out. He doesn’t want the phone telling him where to go and he doesn’t want Google knowing where he went. If you go onto the Google, it has an option of telling where you have been all the last year, which seemed cool, but according to Google John hasn’t been anywhere in the last year, but he has been at his house and a couple of different locations in Seattle, which was disappointing, but maybe that was just another hack.

Merlin suspects that it is gathering that information from different sources, like when John is using his browser, which he mostly does at home. He is mostly looking on eBay at some of the heroism medals from the Austro-Hungarian empire and it doesn’t know how to market to John yet. John wanted to see the map where he is going on the watch and it will allow him to put in a destination, but then it just wants to take over and John can’t get it to turn off and get back to the map. John just wants to look down at a map and pinch it and move it and spread it and slap it and give it a little swat, and then he wants it to sit on his lap and tell him that it has been a good girl, which sounded weird, but it was not meant to.

The watch has freed John somewhat from his phone during the day, but it still feels a little bit unsafe. He can communicate with people, he is tethered to the world, but it still feels like it might fail in an emergency situation. Merlin says that having a mobile phone is not reliable either and one of the three times a year he actually wants to make a phone call it will not work. John is so ready for it to do things, he crossed the membrane and is on the other side now, he is one of the people who has one of these, but he now just wants it to do the things that he wants, which seems like not that much.

John doesn’t turn Matt Haughey’s thermostat up, he doesn’t want it to shut off the ignition of his car, he doesn’t want it to cause Korean Fan Death, he just wants it to show him maps, send texts reliably, sometimes make phone calls, although not really. Merlin says that the watch has come a very long way in terms of the quality of the microphone and the speaker. You have to learn how it wants to be talked to or interacted with, which is not so different from learning the command line of DOS.

They continue to talk about the problems with voice control and with the limited watch functionality. One of the problems is that you cannot get to a specific date on the calendar, but John managed to tell Siri to add his dentist appointment at 2pm on the 26th. There are 42 different ways to take his underarm temperature, but all he wants to do is use the calendar app. Also: There is no Notes app!

Suffice to say, the technology is a long way from John being able to look at the 9 security cameras he has in the backyard of his new house that he hasn’t bought yet, but that is what he really wants, like ”Delilah, bring up camera 5!”, because you have the resolution there to look at a camera image. ”Delilah, eliminate the squirrel with laser canons!”

Merlin still has the Amazon lady in his office and talks to her all the time. He asks her who the mother of dragons is. The lady in the tube is way better at understanding what you said and giving you what you want. Merlin makes her play Carparts by The Long Winters on Spotify, but at first she understood Car Parts and Linens by Goodnight Texas.

The watch and the Internet of Things are a transition for John from Web 2.0. Merlin doesn’t want to take over-credit for introducing John to Web 2.0 or other things, but the only reason he can feel any credit or blame for John’s interest in a lot of computer things is that John was really actively not interested in a lot of it. He didn’t have a scratch of curiosity and part of his early objection was that he didn’t want to be over-exposed as a Rock guy. He also didn’t know why he would do this. John didn’t want to be on some Internet where people could say things to him. Just send a letter to his label and they will send you some stickers and that is the level of interaction John wanted to have. Did Christopher ever answer John’s email? No, John still has an email that he composed to Christopher that was 15 pages long and it was the end of their friendship.

John told Merlin a few times that he understood what was happening, but why would he want to be there? He saw almost all downside to it. John remembers that Merlin stood in front of one of those easels with a big notepad of paper on it, he flipped the old page over the top and he drew two little triangles with the letters BR in the middle, which was an HTML joke, back when he was Merlin Mann, and he assured John that it was super-funny if you know what that is.

Merlin also had some really funny jokes about Web 2.0. Flickr is a really good example of this. They made it really fun to put photos on the Internet, they made it easy to do, they made it easy to share, they encouraged a certain amount of editorial thinking and they had a great community. It was before there was a vocabulary, taxonomy, and culture around how we try to make other people envious about our life.

John taking Twitter off his phone again (RL310)

Last night John took Twitter off his phone again because somehow he sank back into it and every time he turns on Twitter it made him sad. For a while he used it as a broadcast-only medium and he went on there to say some funny things, but not very often. If people want to contact him it is easy to tweet things at him. His favorite phenomenon is people making a comment about a thing that happened 9 months ago, but without any preface, like ”That doesn’t make any sense!” - ”What?”

For a while John was just reading those things, having a good time on the Internet, but then he started to read Twitter again and it turned into a freaking head nightmare so he turned it off and he will instead go on the computer at the end of the day if he wants to read anybody’s messages, but he does not ever want to sit for 5 minutes while he is waiting in a parking lot for somebody and look at Twitter, because it does not help and it makes things worse, not better.

John doesn’t have Facebook on his phone, which means Instagram is the only thing he has, but Instagram is Facebook! It is like when Blogger turned into Google and Flickr turned into Yahoo! John wondered what Instagram gives him. He likes to look at what is going on in Busy Philipps’ life who lives a very dynamic life and John is very happy for her. What John is concerned about is: Does he really have fun over there or does it just feel like fun because he has lost a good sense of what actual fun is? John didn’t take Instagram off, because he cannot interact with it on his watch or on his computer at home because Instagram is specifically a mobile app and they are pot-committed to John having it on his phone.

John’s neighbor’s dogs are gone (RL310)

John’s neighbor’s dogs, the giant Pit Bulls are now gone! John used to go out, stand at the other side of the fence, the dogs would bark like crazy and John would go like ”Ssshhhh!” One time a guy came out from behind the fence and said ”Can I help you?” - ”Well, you can help me by having your dog not bark all night!” - ”Are you the one who wrote the letter to my dad?” - ”Yes!” - ”This is what dogs do!” - ”Yes, but not in cities at 3am, it is just not how neighbors behave to one another” - ”I’m moving and I’m taking the dogs with me!” - ”How exciting for your new neighbors! Vaya Con Dios, dogs! I hope that wherever you live, you will have more grass than you are having now!”

John sold his GMC RV (RL310)

John sold his GMC RV. He took a video of it driving away which was melancholic. Somebody commented:

honeyfears: "*That* is the neighborhood you patrol at night?! I was imagining empty wooded streets & houses tucked back quietly every few hundred feet”

John wished he lived in that neighborhood that they thought he lived in, but he lives in that other neighborhood where there are houses around and that accounts for the people. In their imagination John inhabited a world with a 7-sided lighthouse made of dreams way up on a hill, still in Seattle, but 14 acres (60.000 sqkm). They would sometimes go out and shoot guns at each other, but they were so far away that the bullets wouldn’t reach all that way and they would laugh and laugh. But that is not the world John lives in. He lives in a world where his neighbor’s fucking dogs drive him crazy.

The RV went into the hands of some new people, it drove off under its own power, and it has now begun a new life with its new family. John is one step closer to having that house. Thanks to Merlin and all the influencers who listen to this show, which is a big part of the popularity of it, the house is going to end up in Wired Magazine. This show never became one of those big shows like MBMBAM who sell out 10.000 seats every night and people sit and shoot money at them with a T-shirt canon, but Merlin and John have a lot of influencers.

John is going to detail the construction of his house made of Internet of Things and all the influencers will be like: ”Finally! We never thought it would be Roderick who did this, but somebody else like Matt Haughey!” The 25th anniversary of ”Home of the Future!” featuring John Morgan Roderick, morganridesfree. Morgan will ride free again in the new house. (in a Yoda-voice) ”Question my Internet of Things you won’t! Move your dog! A problem to the Home Owners Association you are!”

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