Monthly Archives: June 2017

Book Report part 3

Problem: The problem is the sea violin is missing. All of the animals are losing their colors because the violin isn’t played. If the violin isn’t played Aquamarina will disappear.

Conclusion: They found the sea violin.When they were finding the violin it led to different passages. In the end they found the violin.

Favorite part: The wedding of queen Anemone and prince Nautilus. It was beautiful. I loved it.

Next up I’m reading Percy Jackson.

Bye, bye!


My mom heads home on Saturday. We have a few things left to do. This morning, we covered one of the most important ones: some rest and relaxation time over a massage and visit to a nearby spa! It was lovely.

One thing we’ll tackle this afternoon is notifications overload. My mom is way ahead of most of her peers with her use of technology. She has an iPhone 6S and regularly uses it for email, text messaging, Facebook, and Uber. Her least favorite thing about it is all the “messages that keep popping up.” As she describes it, my sisters and I have been regularly sending her messages and suggesting friends for her to connect with on Facebook. Additionally, she says that lots of people she doesn’t know send her messages asking to become Facebook friends.

This is a fine example of an opportunity to improve product design. I see a couple issues:
– First and most obviously, Facebook defaults to way more notifications than she wants to receive. I understand how Facebook’s product team got there: engagement is a key metric, and notifications can pull users into the app. Just like spam eventually ruined email, notifications spam will eventually ruin mobile apps.
– She misreads the friend suggestions that Facebook’s algorithms send her — some because they are friends of friends, some for other reasons — as suggestions from people. I also understand how Facebook’s product team got there: adding personal touches like the name of a mutual friend is powerful. But my mom has completely lost interest in Facebook — and she was sincerely annoyed at me for spamming her — because the Facebook product team was too aggressive.

I see this kind of “crappiness creep” pretty regularly. A team is focused on a metric (engagement! number of friends!). Each person who joins the team tries to make their own improvements. Eventually, their combined efforts cross the invisible line where — regardless of the short-term improvements — they make the product crappier and reduce its long-term appeal.

A big reason this happens is alignment of incentives. A company like Facebook works for advertisers, who provide its revenue, not users. As a result, Facebook’s interests are aligned with and pulled toward the advertising industry and its habits. Those ad industry habits happen to include spamming users (e.g. interrupting a perfectly good TV show every 7-8 minutes with four or five ads) and misleading users (e.g. infinite examples of snake oil sales my latest least favorite is the company Lifelock). So there is an inevitable pull of Facebook’s product decisions into that direction.

They just don’t work for users that well, especially my mom! We’ll clean up her settings this afternoon.

Violin concert

At my violin concert, I  played Simple Square Dance, Hiawatha, Crystal City March, Be Our Guest, and the Star Wars theme song. I sat next to a girl named Addison. My dad, my mom, and my nana  came to my violin concert. My dad’s favorite song is the star wars theme song.

Visit to the coast, take 2

My mom enjoyed her Monday visit to the coast so much we went again! We began with a trip to a local grocer, Robert’s in Woodside, where we picked up sandwiches and drinks for a picnic. Then we drove out along State highway 84 to Highway 1, turned left, and headed toward San Jose.

Our first stop was at Costanoa, a family camping area where we go with the kids each year. We did a quick tour, used the restrooms (or “Comfort stations” as they are called, and took a selfie next to the tents we stayed in a few weeks ago:

Back on the road, where we stopped at a pull off along the coast for this lovely view:

Then it was on to the main event… a picnic! We looked at a few spots along the way and ended up settling on the bench on a little spit of land at the very western end of Cliff Dr in Santa Cruz, right next to Natural Bridges State Park. It was magnificent, with 180+ degree views of Monterey Bay. We sat there for about 90 minutes, enjoying our sandwiches and the views. Mom even did some her daily exercise on the path along the coast!

Finally, we loaded up the car and drove back, staying up in the mountains as long as possible enjoying this magnificent view of the Bay Area from San Francisco all the way down to San Jose:

Book report part 2

Characters:Thea, Paulina, Colette, Violet, Nickey, Pamela, and Will are the characters.

Main Events:The main event is when the Thea sisters are  finding the sea violin.They looked in Aquamarina. After they find the violin they have to find the strings of the violin.       

I’ll finish up tomorrow!                                                                               

Book report: Children of Time

If the girls are going to do book reports this summer, I can do them too! Here’s one on my first book of summer reading, following the same format the girls use.

Title: Children of Time
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pages: 609 pages

Setting: A few thousand years in the future, after humankind has fought itself to the point of destroying the Earth and the remains of the human race have fled to other planets.

Characters: Avrana Kern is a brilliant scientist leading an expedition to create a new planet that can be home for humanity. Portia is a brave warrior and explorer on the planet. Bianca is a wise and courageous scientist. Holsten is a historian trying to help everyone avoid the mistakes of the past. Lain is an engineer who understands the technology better than anyone else.

Main events: Dr. Kern and her team travel far away from earth to try and transform a planet so it can be habitable by humans. A remnant of humanity’s instinct for conflict causes something to go wrong. A few thousand years later, another group of people finds the planet. Meanwhile, on the surface, a new society is forming.

Problem/Conflict: Two groups want to live on this planet, which is the only one any of them could live on. They have great difficulty communicating with each other. Who will survive?

Conclusion/Resolution: The two groups find a way to communicate, but only after fighting, and realize they share the same goals and principles. They set out to live together on the planet.

Favorite part: I most enjoyed all technology and exciting capabilities in the story. Each was a bit fantastical (humans able to hibernate for 1000 years? near light speed travel?), but just credible enough to seem possible. Dreams of new technology are always inspirational to me.