The Trouble with Rollerbags

Rollerbags are evil. They are loud and obnoxious as people drag them along sidewalks. They are terrible in airports when people forget they have 4′ extension attached to themselves and drag it across your shins. They are at their absolute worst boarding a plane of course – everyone has seen the person with the over-sized bag desperately trying to lift the thing into the bin, failing, clunking it down on some poor seated soul, and then needing to walk it all the way back up the aisle and “gate check” it.

When did we start needing rollerbags? I remember flying in the 70s and people carried their luggage. It was brown, hard-sided, and usually made by Samsonite. And it worked just fine. Wikipedia tells me that rollerbags (or rollaboards) were patented in 1970 but they didn’t see widespread use until much later.

Today backpacks are very comfortable and come in a million different styles and sizes. And honestly – shouldn’t you be able to lift your own stuff? Isn’t being mobile one of humanity’s greatest traits (granted, folks with health issues or injuries and such are exempted from this). If you can’t lift it… should you even be taking it with you? Why? Why do you need that many outfits for an overnight business trip? I chuckle when I see all the people with Fitbits and other step counters dragging a bag around; here’s an idea for you – pick up the bag and double the workout!

As I was writing this humorous rant on Facebook it hit me just how unsanitary these bags are too. I’m not a germaphobe by any stretch but think about all the crud you drag your rollerbag through. Now think about putting that bag on your hotel bed or pushing that thing into an airplane bin with someone’s coat. Ewwww… perhaps a self-sanitizing rollerbag is the next step in the evolution of these things.

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The Tao of Louis CK

I am not a big Louis CK fan. Sure, I’ve seen a few blurbs here and there and some are funny, some are more crass than I like (and you know what, that’s okay, I change the web page!). But this one hit me just right today.

And you know what, there is a lot of truth here. I got up this morning, went to the gym, did some work from my fancy laptop, used an app to get an Uber to come get me, went to the airport (people in the 70s and 80s… with unreliable cabs, expensive black cars… could not have even imagined Uber) and flew to California. I’m on a damned flying machine and will arrive safely in two hours, see my sister, and get to work the next day and it’s all just magic!

Chin up folks, the world is a wonderful place (and for those for whom it isn’t I’m truly sorry, I know it’s awful out there for some but the cold comforting truth is that it’s overall getting better).

The Tao of Louis CK


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Wonderful post from Brain Pickings – 10 Learnings

Brain Pickings turned 10 years old, congratulations to a site that has brought me so much wonderful, interesting, educational content over the years. This article is a list of 10 learnings over the years. I encourage you to read this but just in case here is the simplified version (along with my take):

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. (hold strong to your beliefs until the data changes – it’s okay)
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. (Money and status are nice, but do you believe in what you are doing)
  3. Be generous (I listened to a great podcast in which a very successful agent always asks the question “how can I be of service”? I’ve started doing that and it’s a lot nicer than always driving)
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life; sleep (turn off your phone)
  5. When people tell you who they are, believe them (believe in people until you have a reason not to)
  6. Presence is more rewarding than productivity (one of the items that didn’t resonate as much with me)
  7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time (I struggle with this, I get bored easily and early)
  8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit (I heard something similar “you are the average of the five people you hang out with”)
  9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist (why compromise early? It’s like negotiating against yourself)
  10. Don’t just resist cynicism – fight it (hard in this modern world, but remember that the world is a better place than it was and it’s getting better for most people)

Thanks again to Brain Pickings for these ten years.

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You know what would be a good idea for an app…

I am working on converting an old WordPress site/idea I had (Sports Brief Daily) to a new installation (Flukeslap). It’s tedious. I’m not doing anything magical or particularly difficult but it’s just not turnkey enough.

So here’s an idea – make a simple wizard to get this all running:

  1. Install WordPress on a reasonably-priced host.
  2. Configure you + a backup admin
  3. Connect to Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Instagram (if you don’t have a Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. then create these things)
  4. Connect to MailChimp and get your mailing list widget installed in WordPress
  5. Pick one of the many app shops that turns your WordPress blog into an app and submit the apps to the iOS and Android app stores.

Be done. If you could do this it would help small businesses everywhere with what is otherwise difficult at worst or tedious at best.

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Strength begins with unwavering resilience, not brittle aggression

As usual a clever post from Seth Godin. He starts with a laundry list of supposedly “strong” attributes (albeit some are clearly straw-men). Each individually isn’t bad but when you see the list together it’s pretty clear that loud, brash, fast-talking, etc. aren’t the qualities you see in true strength.

True strength is the ability to change and adapt. To have strong opinions weakly held as they say. To be absolutely certain about things until the facts change, then be certain about the new thing. To always get up one more time than you fell down (although strength is also understanding why it is that you fell down in the first place, try not to repeat the same stumble).

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Another music service, Milk, shuts down

Milk Music is a service provided by Samsung. Today they announced they are closing the service If you wonder why music services get shut down:

  1. The cost of running a service – it takes a team of engineers to run these things. It seems like it should be less but a) the catalogs from the music labels are poorly done, b) there are service and payment issues, c) you need to keep the UI fresh, and d) running servers is not as simple as it should be (ask Apple about iCloud if you are curious).
  2. The return rate is low – labels are still charging as if we are in the land of the album whereas the overall wholesale price of music has plummeted. This means you you either of very deep pockets (Apple) or VC money (Spotify) or are running this because you forgot to turn off the lights (Microsoft).
  3. There are too many “free” choices out there – YouTube is okay and kids like it, Spotify has a free version and many people like that. Apple’s service is bizarre and weird and poorly designed but hey, it comes with my iPhone! People will pay for music but it needs to be a good deal and right now the deal is suspect for most people.

We will see more services like this go under. Pandora is on the block for example. I wonder when the “white label” music provider will make a comeback. For every Tier 2 player out there (e.g. Samsung, Microsoft, Google even) that wants a service as “table stakes” doing a white label business that handles the music ingestion, service, subscription, and allows the front company to design the UX would make a lot of sense. Not a great ROI but enough to stay in business (ironically Microsoft bought such a company years ago and got out of that very business).

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Bad user experience – devices that talk

Example of bad user experience: 5 am, voice says “recharge battery soon” loudly enough to wake me up. Repeats at random intervals.
I spent 5 minutes in the garage trying to find *which* device was doing this (and smash it with a hammer). There are all sorts of devices (drills, saws, welder, etc) and it could come from anywhere and I cannot *quite* locate the stupid voice. But nor could I easily get back to sleep as I would be reminded every few minutes with *bzzzzz* “recharge battery soon”.
  1. Who thinks we want non-essential rechargeable devices to speak to us? Sure, the smoke detector is a good candidate for a voice telling me to change the batteries.
  2. Why wouldn’t it say “Hey, it’s the drill, recharge me”
  3. 5am? Smart enough to talk to me but not smart enough to wait to a decent hour?

This is the kind of thing that assures me that the makers of whichever device woke me up have *never* in fact had the device in their own homes.

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Seth’s Blog: The flip is elusive

Source: Seth’s Blog: The flip is elusive

The flip is elusive or why don’t we do smarter things in the face of evidence. Look… your Gucci t-shirt isn’t better than a $10 Hanes from Costco. But you buy it anyway. And I paid $800 for an iPhone 6 when I knew that a $300 Android is 90% as good. Things change and people don’t.

Don’t believe me? Try working in tech. Emailing Excel files and Word docs around for collaboration is still the king even though everyone knows this is a terrible, time-wasting idea. There are better tools out there and yet inevitably on the eve of some deadline someone emails (ugh!) a Word doc (ew!) around “with change-tracking on and I will take care of the revisions”. You know it’s broken as you do it… but you do it anyway.

It’s like smoking – you know it causes cancer and it will kill you but what the heck, it’s what you know how to do. Trust me, put the email/Excel/Word down and go find the better tool; your sanity and productivity will thank you.

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The disco hypothesis and social jet lag

I recommend reading the full article on sleep at It has some fascinating points to make among them:

  1. We know everyone has different genetics but we assume everyone needs the same amount of sleep *and* that some specific time is the right time to wake up.
  2. “there is a great disconnect between teenagers’ biological abilities and our social expectations of them, encapsulated in what is known as the disco hypothesis — the notion that if only teens would go to bed earlier, meaning not party until late, they’d be better able to wake up clear-headed and ready for school at the expected time” whereas the data shows otherwise.
  3. Daylight Savings Time sucks… well at least doing a time change sucks… it can take up to four weeks for the body to truly adjust.

There is also mention of a Danish school prototype in which the school was assumed to be a service for the students; the students could show up when they wanted to. The results from the study weren’t shared but how fascinating – let kids learn on their own. This has echos with the #remote-work movement in which people work where they want to and to some extent on relaxed schedules.

Don’t let the streams cross

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We did what???

How many Brits woke up this morning with a nasty hangover and are puzzled asking “we did what again?”

No one knows what will happen of course. Will Scotland leave? Will Ireland unite? Will this cause votes in other EU countries like France to exit as well? No idea, this is something fairly new under the sun. But England is in for a bit of a bumpy ride.