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Portland, OR

(503) 272-1842

Brian Ryer's Personal Blog





Brian Ryer is Saying Things


I made a lot of money

Brian Ryer

Donald Trump's ascendency puts to rest the notion that successful business people are, by definition, smart people, knowledgeable people, capable people. We recognize now that "I made a lot of money." is on the same plane of intellectual achievement as "I can belch the alphabet."

Oh no, we might die. Please, after you.

Brian Ryer

Does danger make people more polite?

I’ve been lucky enough to get to work by walking, bicycling, or take public transportation for practically my entire working life. This changed a few weeks ago when I started a gig across a river, and a state line, that I must get to by car. It’s a typical commute, about 25 minutes, the bulk of which is on the highway.

I’ve never been a fan of driving exactly, but I don’t mind it either, especially when the weather is pleasant and the road mostly unoccupied. Atypically for October in Portland, the weather has been pleasant these last weeks for my daily motoring adventure. The road, however, has been ram-a-jam full, both up I205 in the morning and down it again in the evening.

The morning strategy, get all the way left and stay there until the middle of the Glen L. Jackson bridge, works reliably well. Everyone is going to wherever they need to, to do all the things they must do, so they are somehow more resigned than aggresive. In the evening, however, there is no reliable strategy. The freedom of going to wherever they want to go, to do whatever they like to do, is obviously being restricted by every other driver, especially, apparently, me. This has folks riding bumpers, jumping lanes sans signal, deciding the emergency lane is for lessening a possible reduction, however small, in their right to leisure time. Which results more often than not in a slow crawl from right after the airport exits to right before my exit, and sometimes beyond.

But not the last two nights. On the last two nights the traffic flowed like craft brewed beer, smooth and bubbly from door to door. Why?

A storm off the Alaskan coast has created the opportunity for the polar vortex to have a spin through the northern mid-west again. The effect here in western Oregon has been a sudden drop in temperature and, importantly, very gusty winds. Semi-trailers, and little weebly minivans like mine, get buffeted around pretty well -- especially on the highway, especially on a highway bridge over a river.

So everyone slows down a bit, everyone leaves a little more room between themselves and the next guy, everyone remembers that they have more entertainment available instantly, on-demand, than most of civilization has ever had, ever, so 10 minutes either way is really not that important is it? Now that there’s a little danger in the air, everyone is a bit more civil. All they have to do is not die before they get home.

Please, after you.

Dumb Ads

Brian Ryer

Just experienced, again, a concrete example of why I really despise advertising on the Internet. I know, I know, "We's gots to get payyyed!" I've got no problem with anyone making any money. It's not the advertising per se, it's the dumbness surrounding it.

The problem is, I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy, if you are the lazy CIO, Development VP, Media Manager, Implementation Group Coordinator or Code Serf slinging the JavaScript which shows me your little sliver of income generating nonsense right before the content—which is the reason I came to your site—doesn't fucking show up, or doesn't play, or is hidden by an interstitial the size of a pool cover.

So I came to your site this once and I'll never be back. If this affront to user experience happened in your app, I've now deleted it. 

The content must be, well, the content. It must appear, reliably, flawlessly. The ad—c'mon, it's what, a thousandth of a penny? Let it go and show me the content I came for. Or don't and I'll go somewhere else.

18th century privacy with 21st century tools

Brian Ryer

Apple recently announced an update to their mobile operating system, iOS 8, which includes two very important privacy features: encryption of the content stored on your device by default and the removal of backdoor access, i.e. third party access to that content without your consent.

Why is this important?

Two and a half centuries ago personal information was stored in journals, under candlesticks, in piles of correspondence, behind hidden panels in desk drawers and in many other places. Today it is stored in one place: your mobile device.

Backdoor access to this single device can be likened to an 18th century writ of assistance, subjecting your home to a general search for anything which might be there. Removing this type of access to our modern papers and effects re-affirms the strong disdain for general searches codified in the Fourth Amendment.

Encryption by default re-establishes an expectation of privacy, which has deteriorated over the last 30 years. This deterioration is due mostly to a cultural preference for economic expediency over personal privacy. This preference is now proving to be politically untenable. 

Encryption, by default, with no backdoors, is the re-actualization of basic privacy rights originally conceived in the 18th century using 21st century tools.

Apple has effectively placed the contents of your mobile devices, no matter where they are, in the same informational safe zone as the contents of your home. We should thank them for it and reward other companies that do the same.