Support SaysBrad
  • (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    (Most Compact 20000mAh Portable Charger) Anker PowerCore 20100 - Ultra High Capacity Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology
    Anker

    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

  • Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen iKlear Cleaning Kit for iPad, iPhone, Galaxy, LCD, Plasma TV, Computer Monitor and Keyboard (Cloth, Wipes and Spray)
    Klear Screen

    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5 Grams
    Artic Silver

    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

  • Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint pressure sensitive stylus for iPad - Black
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot with Pixelpoint, works with a lot of new drawing apps on iPad.

  • Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen's iKlear 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle 7351-IKHP, Others, Electronics & Computers
    Klear Screen

    The stuff I use to keep my iPad screen nice and clean!

  • Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus for Capacitive Touch Screens
    Studio Neat

    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

  • Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit Jot Pro Stylus for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Other Touch Screens (ADJPG)
    Adonit

    Adonit Jot Pro is an awesome capacitive touch stylus for iPad & other tablets.

  • Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 - Walnut
    FiftyThree

    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

  • Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Bicycle Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
    Sportsman Supply Inc.

    Playing Cards for your password creation or poker game!

My Amazon.com Wish List
If you’re looking for an app, need personal or corporate branding, marketing material, an illustration, logo, sketch or design — there’s a Brad for that!

Entries in Black Friday (4)

Wednesday
Nov182015

Why anti-gambling laws are stupid.

DFS players say that daily fantasy sports isn’t gambling because it’s a game of skill. Unfortunately, that argument sucks.

It is gambling. Of course it is. The typical DFS player will argue that if DFS is gambling, then the stock market is, too. They’re right. Both are gambling. But so is just about everything in life.

The argument is used primarily to try and dodge America’s ridiculous gambling laws. It goes, “if it’s a game of skill, it’s not gambling.” Wrong. Online Poker was banned in most states; it’s also a game of skill, but it’s definitely gambling.

However, (and though I’m not a fan) I appreciate Chris Christie’s line (regarding DFS): “Let people play, who cares?!”

It’s hypocritical for the government to allow gambling in most other areas of life but restrict it when bets are made on games. Yes, our government does tons of other hypocritical things… but why are we letting it?

Some may argue that gambling is a destructive, addictive habit — that the government should step up and protect people from themselves. I’m in the libertarian camp on this; I don’t believe that the government — especially Federal — should be stepping in to control and define morality whenever they feel like it.

Anti-gambling laws are stupid; it’s all about control and money. “I know better than you, so I’m going to force you to live the way I think is best.” DFS was just banned in Nevada. Why? Because DraftKings and FanDuel aren’t licensed by the state. No other reason other than “give us money.” It’s not like you can’t bet on sports here… in a sportsbook.

How everything in life is a gamble.

Gambling can be broken into three categories: pure chance, skill and chance, and pure skill. It’s all gambling.

Most people play “slot machines.” This is a pure luck-based game. A random number generator sets odds on the machine to pay out a certain amount a certain amount of the time (over a theoretically infinite number of bets). There is no set schedule, no hot or cold machines. Playing craps? Odds of rolling 12 is 1/36. Can it be thrown three times in a row? Of course. That’s variance. You could also roll 200 times and never throw 12. But over hundreds of thousands and millions of rolls, it will average out to approximately once every 36 throws. Slot machines run on similar math.

Other examples of slot machines: keno, bingo, lotteries, scratchers and roulette.

Most people gamble on everything else like they’re playing a slot machine.

Blackjack, Video Poker, Texas Hold’em, sports… games of skill that people just take a shot at without skill or much thought. These are games where there’s a mathematically correct thing to do; if you know this math and act on the knowledge (making a correct decision), you will have an edge (over acting randomly or making a suboptimal choice). But most people don’t care to make correct decisions — they just want the action. People do this with other life decisions, too.

But… so what?

Gambling, for most people, is entertainment. Like TV, an amusement park or a movie. All of those things cost money with close to a 0% chance you’ll make money while enjoying those activities. Looking at most gambling like other entertaining things makes sense; you pay money (place a bet) and some action happens (reels spin, numbers appear, cards are dealt).

Some people don’t see it that way. Those people are wrong.

I don’t tell you what shows you can or cannot watch — what business is it of yours to tell me or anyone else (adults) how we can spend our money? If you choose not to gamble on games, good for you, that’s probably a good decision. If you do gamble, good for you, too.

Yes, some people get addicted, and it’s very damaging. Some people skydive and plummet to their deaths. A better analogy; some people spend all day in front of the TV and slowly kill themselves in the process. Some people drink themselves to death. That doesn’t mean that we should ban any of those things. Individuals make choices and those choices have consequences. That’s why there are some things children can’t do — as a society, we don’t believe that they’re fully aware of the rammifications of their actions, so we protect them. Either being an adult means something or it doesn’t.

Games of skill with chance.

In contrast to “slot machines” of various sorts, there are games where good decision-making leads to victory. This most closely resembles everyday life.

Daily Fantasy Sports and Poker are both games where, if you make better choices than your opponents, you’ll win over time. However, both are incomplete information games filled with uncertainty and randomness.

As a first example, football: a star player could get the flu or have a migraine that hinders his performance. You’re not likely to know about it beforehand, or to what degree his performance will be affected. Likewise, a player in your lineup could suffer a devastating injury removing him from the game. You can’t know with certainty that this will or won’t happen. That’s just chance. Bad luck. However, a skilled DFS player will still pick the best lineup, hope for the best, and win more than lose.

In Texas Hold’em: the best hand you can be dealt preflop is two Aces. The odds of this? 1/221. Very rarely your opponent will be dealt two Kings in the same hand — the second best hand, but very unlucky for him. Heads-up (one-on-one against two Kings), if all five community cards are dealt, your Aces will win about 81% of the time. However, it’s not a surefire win: about 19% of the time, your opponent will catch a King (or two) for three or four-of-a-kind, a King-high straight or perhaps a King-high flush.

Still, if I have Aces, I will stick in as much money as I can because I’m a big favorite to win, and most of the time, I do.

Then there’s complete information games of skill with practically no luck. Most things in life aren’t like this.

Chess is probably the best example. All the pieces are in full view 100% of the time. Every move can be seen and is recorded. The most skilled player will win practically always. There’s no random element that could remove a piece from the board, switch sides mid-game or reconfigure the pieces. If you play Chess for money, and you’re highly skilled, it’s a fairly safe bet.

But you’re still gambling, because you’re betting on whether or not you’re more skilled than your opponent.

If you risk money on something, you’re gambling.

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a new business, buying a house, or getting some Chinese take-out. Your business could fail, your house could end up underwater (figuratively or literally) and your food could make you sick.

Everything else in life is also a gamble.

If you leave your house, you’re gambling. You could be hit by a car or get attacked by a rabid animal. If you stay in your house, you’re gambling. It could catch fire or a robber could break in and shoot you. You can’t know with 100% certainty that these things won’t happen.

You can mitigate these risks by gambling intelligently — gambling with an edge.

You can make a business plan and make sure you have proper capital (a bankroll). You can choose to buy a house in a good area and actively maintain it. You can prepare your own food, and select restaurants carefully (even inspect them first). You can avoid the likelihood of getting hit by a car by watching traffic and by not walking in the street. You can keep your distance from wild animals when you see them. You can make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home, and purposefully live in a safer neighborhood where home invasions are rare.

DFS and poker players make these kinds of intelligent, deliberate choices every day. You can do everything right to set yourself up to win, but sometimes you won’t. It’s a gamble, but if you make good decisions, one you’re likely to win.

Adults are free to make all sorts of decisions, good and bad. All carry consequences.

Do you go to college? Do you drive in the rain? Do you apply for a new job? Do you stay out too late on a worknight? Do you have another drink? Do you bet it all on red? Do you sit down at the poker table or play $5 DFS game online?

All of these carry risks and rewards, and adults should be free to make these choices without government interference. If you decide that the bad outweighs the good, don’t partake — but don’t make that decision for me or your neighbor. I highly doubt you want me telling you how to live and spend your money — even if I’m right. And I’m almost certain that you don’t want people like me using government force to make you do what we like.

So just let people play.

You play the odds, take risks, take chances — with your money and your life. Just like everyone else. Sometimes, these decisions are made intelligently; other times, it’s a slot machine. Let others make good and bad choices with their own lives.


Next: how poker teaches life skills; why it’s not just a gambling game, and why everyone should learn it. (But obviously, I don’t believe that they should have to.)

Wednesday
Jan152014

Mac and More, "Quick" Update!

Hey, everyone. Things have been hectic and stressful around here, but I’m hoping to get some writing finished today and tomorrow. I was going to write about markdown and apps straightaway, but I want to address recent revelations about the theft of customer information at Target — the 2013 Black Friday hacks. I don’t like the way Target is handling it, and I’ll explain why in detail. I found out about the severity of the issue because of an email target sent! but almost didn’t trust it because their email is super-sketchy and looks like phishing spam!

 

I hope that you aren’t affected by Target’s negligence and the data thieves. Everything about identity theft is stressful.

 

Also, I want to share more Mac OS X (Mavericks) tips that I’ve come across, in particular:

 

  • How to get rid of (disable) the pesky, nigh-useless (redundant, slow) OSX Dashboard… and how to get it back again later if you change your mind.
  • How to access the iCloud Photo stream without opening iPhoto.

 

Sort of like my post about removing apps from Launchpad, these are a few things that I wanted, and believe that it may be of interest to other Mac users.


 

Last, if you like strategic cards games and anime, check out Tanto Cuore.

 

Superb gameplay that really doesn’t have much to do with anime or maids. I’ve been a bit obsessed with Crunchyroll recently.


If you’d like a 48-hour all access pass, leave a comment about your favorite anime or drama, and send me an email!

I need some way to send you the code :-) I only have a few, and it’s first come, first served!


Well, if you get Tanto Cuore and want to play it with me, you’re at the top of the list. ;-)

 

Sunday
Dec152013

23andMe, SaysBrad 2013, and screw the FDA

 

Dealing with medical problems and disability, I missed out on a lot of things this year. It's easy to just get upset about that — and everything else going on in the world — it's extremely easy to forget how amazing life is and how much technology has changed everything, for almost everyone.

Sometimes, it seems like the Internet is just full of complaints. And cats. Much of it is superfluous, and I've spent some time on this blog trying to point that out to people. But some complaints are valid, and the Internet has given a voice to many who would otherwise remain silent.

I mention this, because the FDA has blocked 23andMe, a DNA analysis company, from releasing medical information related to DNA as part of their $99 mail-order test kit.

Personally, this genetic information could be very valuable; it could tell me if I'm a carrier for the condition that killed my two brothers, why my nervous system responds the way it does and how best to treat my chronic pain, muscle spasms and disability.

I found out about 23andMe because of their Black Friday sale and ordered a kit, only to find out the day the kits arrived, that 23andMe would only be able to supply ancestry related information.

Basically, the FDA is stopping me from seeking affordable advice about my own DNA.

And I'm upset about that.

I've tried to distract myself with technology and blogging, and even managed to figure out how to stop the spam problem that I was having for quite awhile here at Says Brad. I was contacted by a few blog readers, which is super, as well as an app developer (so I'll be reviewing a new note taking app soon).

I found out that the new iPad Air might have some problems detecting and interacting with pressure-sensitive styluses, and read a bit more about the new iPad mini. I'm now reconsidering it as the superior (personal) choice for all-around use, despite the color accuracy/range issue.

I was going to write about testing blogging platforms such as Roon and Postagon, questions and thoughts that I have about pure blogging options Posthaven and Ghost, as well as testing — and my likely move to — Squarespace 6, but it's been hard to focus on with all of the issues I'm having and becoming aware of concerning the Federal government. I want to make Says Brad purely about design and technology (mostly apps and mobile products), but I haven't had the motivation to do anything about it yet.

Perhaps getting this rant out of the way will help. I know that lack of interest and general depression is a byproduct of chronic pain and the medicines used to treat it, and that awareness is usually accompanied by a resolve to push past it and try to do something — anything...

I really put a lot of hope and faith in my DNA results that now, at least anytime soon, won't be able to get... unless I can find some reliable, affordable expert to help me interpret the raw genetic data that I can still get from 23andMe.

Maybe if enough people out pressure on their Congressman (and women), something can be done about the ridiculously backward, prohibitive, abusive and dictatorial federal government and FDA. I don't think that that will happen, however, unless things get much, much worse. Congress is part of the problem — it's systemic, and it's affecting people. Small businesses, individuals, people with medical problems. I don't want government handouts and help. I want them to get the fuck out of the way.

Well.

Hopefully now I can get back to graphic design and the fun stuff. That is, after I stretch and take a few hour's nap. Word of warning: if your health is good and your body works (at least somewhat) as it should, take care of it and don't take it for granted. Chronic pain and disability is a neverending nightmare.


Before Christmas. Happy holidays. Oh, and don't be offended if you don't like or celebrate Christmas, but someone says Merry Christmas or whatever. Just say thanks. Don't be miserable.

Sunday
Dec082013

Black Friday Thoughts

Note: began this entry last week. Been exhausted. :-(

Thanksgiving was the day after dinner with my parents, so I was pretty tired. We started to say what we were all thankful for but the conversation sidetracked, and never refocused. With the FLOTUS' suggestion in mind, we spoke about ObamaCare and politics... but I won't get into that here and now. I'm truly thankful for two wonderfully supportive parents and the relationship I have with my family now. Also, although we give each other a hard time, Stephanie does a good job taking care of me and reminding me to eat. I forget about that sometimes when I get involved in a project or, well, sleep.

It hasn't always been easy or fun, but I don't think I could get by without them and their support. Disability really sucks like that. Thank you. And a shoutout and thanks to all of the wonderful internet people — hopefully you know who you are. Your generosity, kindness and encouragement, thoughts and prayers are cherished and appreciated. I hope you have a great, merry Christmas! (...and a happy New Year!)

Now to Mainstream Sheeple Consumer (yes, very bleak—err, black) Friday thoughts.

I really miss Steve Jobs.

Mostly in an abstract way; it's not like I knew him personally, but insofar as a man (or woman) can be known by their great works and contributions, it pains me greatly that his direction and insight is no longer a constant.

Although Apple might honor and carry his legacy through their refinements and further developments of his breakthrough products, they've lost their prodigal navigator and are thusly adrift. It's impossible for me to know whether or not Steve would've allowed the iPad mini to exist, but I cannot fathom his acceptance of iOS7 on it.

Some people claim to run iOS7 just fine on first-gen minis. Many others, myself clearly included, believe that the tablet is just too slow for it. It's clunky. Glitchy. It crashes and lags.

It's ruined the mini experience for me. The mini was my favorite tablet, one of my favorite things, even with the iPad2-like specs and unimpressive screen. It gave me the iPad experience that I love on a device that I could use all day — the iPad 3 is just too heavy to hold up for hours. With iOS6, the mini was quick and stable.

It allowed me to create.

iOS7 was deliberately designed to be sleek and minimal — two qualities I don't have an issue with — however, it feels like style over substance. Over-engineered, unavoidable. Apple won't let dissatisfied users go back to 6, and even pushed the update install to devices. It seems like a marketing tactic to throw out at keynote speeches. Almost all of our users are on the latest version of iOS, while Android devices are split between...

Compounding my tablet frustrations are blogging woes.

Squarespace 5 has started getting hit with referral-link spam. At first it was maybe a few a week, then a few a day, now maybe a dozen per day. This nuisance isn't easy to take care of on an iPad, and has obscured legitimate comments, emails, questions... I've got to do something about it.

Sorry for the trouble here but I'll be happy to assist you. We will continue to maintain Squarespace 5 for customers. However, updates and apps that are released in the future will be geared toward the Squarespace 6 platform. – Squarespace Customer Care response

So it looks like I'm blogging on an obsolete platform. Simply move to their Squarespace 6? And perhaps in a few years, they'll grow tired of that, release version 7, and cut support/updates for 6.

I get that things progress and change is necessary for business, but because the systems are incompatible and there's no automatic 5 to 6 conversion tool, it's extra stress that I don't want.

So I've been looking into alternatives. I found two articles particularly informative.

I'd like to focus more on long form content and less on blog design; unfortunately, so many "blogging platforms" (CMS) are setup for full-site management and treat the blog as a secondary item and focus.

Perhaps more importantly (at minimum, of equal importance) is sustainability — Internet immortality. Permanent links. Link rot sucks. Importing and exporting content sucks — there's always loss and errors. That makes something like Posthaven — at least at face-value — very attractive. Their promise, for $5/month is a service that will last forever. I blogged at Vox, played with Pownce, tweeted at Jaiku, shared with Posterous — all gone.

I think my only real reservation with Posthaven at the moment is that I don't like the look, and it seems like there's no choice with that. No templates or themes, or CSS or whatever. Just pure, simple blog — take it or leave it. I don't think it's attractive or very usable. On their site, they indicate that custom design is something that they're working on implementing, so I'll have to keep an eye on it. If you use Posthaven, I'd love to know what you think of it, and how it compares to similar blog only services (like Medium, Ghost, Postagon, Roon, etc).

And then there's this: Web Design is 95% Typography – Information Architects — thoughts from the genius Oliver Reichenstein. I've read his thoughts on typography (I love typography and handwriting), and agree with most of it. It's particularly true for this blog, since I tend to post fewer, write longer (instead of many/short). This theme just looks bad with big type. If only I could work on it from my iPad.

I'm not good with code. I know a bit — enough to understand it when I see it, but I can't use code like I use a pencil (or stylus). I can't wield CSS as a design weapon, and that limits what I can customize on my own. If only I had more time, more years of life.

Squarespace (like many other visually fancy UIs) is difficult to modify on a tablet. There are a lot of JavaScript effects and overlays, menus and some drag-and-drop. Stuff mobile Safari doesn't do well (at least as Squarespace has coded it — I've seen some neat interactive HTML5 stuff on iPad, like FiftyThree's site). I really think that they could do away with all that or offer an in-app option, but alas, the limitations of small company. And they're based out of New York — not my first pick for a business.

My goal, of I can ever manage it, is to write about the tech, games and design that I love, disability and pain management, and politics (local, national, international). I believe that it's important to our first amendment and culture to express controversial and perhaps unpopular opinions, always remaining truthful and forthright. I don't like political correctness and white lies, and I don't want to live in a world where government tells me what I can buy, where I can go, whether or not I can own a gun, airplane or anything else. I don't want to live in a world where creativity and ingenuity is stifled and suffocated under the burdens of taxes, regulations, penalties, local, state and federal ordinances requiring prior authorization and approval, etc...

...but I really, really don't like all the public insults, flame wars, death threats, obscenities and personal attacks hurled at strangers online and elsewhere in our society today. There's an awful tension and hostility and a lot of hate — so I plan on contributing to debates without attacking others or responding to personal insults. I won't instigate persecution and I will report threats (and hate speech, where applicable), because it isn't right or productive. We do not have the right to never be offended, but we do have protection against battery, libel and slander. I encourage debates where people vigorously defend their positions and say "you're wrong," but I condemn the "you're an idiot and you should die" that seems to occur online with alarming frequency. Liberal or conservative, it doesn't matter who's saying it — this type of attack is wrong, and if I see or hear it in the mainstream media or popular blogs, I'll flag it — because I think character is important and people need to be aware of it.

In my experience, the racism, discrimination and flaming comes from:

  • people with an intellectually, factually indefensible position — perhaps thusly, they believe that their only option is to end discussion entirely or redirect it from information and ideology to personal attacks,

people so arrogant and/or narrow-minded that they believe that there's no possible way that they can be wrong; thus they are unwilling to even hear or entertain the opposing argument or view — and often in anger, shut down civilized discourse with disdain, using statements ranging from cynicism and snide remarks to outright vile hostility and threats of violence.

Sometimes it's difficult to contain anger, I understand that. But even if someone is wrong — stubbornly so — it would be far better to simply withdraw from dialogue than resort to conversational (or actual) thuggery.

So in the spirit of American Christmas, those are my stresses, wishes and cold-weather! winter worries. And now that I've shared them,

I can get back to blogging about fun stuff like iPad styluses and the joys of iPhone 5S. PLUS: why I won't ever switch from iOS to Android, and why I simultaneously want Android to always be awesome!

Happy December!