Erik I

My public writing. You can reach me at

Filed under #advertising and #marketing

This happens, people get fooled into traveling halfway across the globe to stand in line and finally take a photo of what turns out to be a mirror, or something mirror-like:

It really isn't news anymore that marketing has been abused to drive demand for products that aren't what people need, or even want.

I've seen several people argue that advertising is generally evil but I don't agree. I'd argue that there's even great potential for doing advertising that does good for both humans and the environment.

As an example I would like to mention the shuttle bus that used to pass 100 meters from my house and pass right next to my workplace at that time – and that I wasn't aware of until the local newspaper told it was shutting down. It could have been a good idea if more people was aware of it and could have used it instead of either driving to the train station like I did or even driving all the way as some people do.

Another example would be those who sell spare parts or repair services, or to advertise for reduce, reuse, repair like the (otherwise very commercial) marketplace does:

The only thing that is better for the environment than buying used is to buy nothing at all.

Above: An ad saying: The only thing that is better for the environment than buying used is to buy nothing at all.

And just last day I saw an ad for walking as a solution to mental health problems. Nothing to buy, nobody to vote for, paid for by our politicians or probably bureaucrats , doing what they are supposed to do: figuring out good solutions to hard problems, in this case mental health and health generally.

If you wonder when I'll get around ro the catch, there isn't one as far as I can see: it is pure win-win:

As peoples health increases, people become more happy which is good for them. They probably become more productive at work and spend less time away from work which means companies wins as well. Society at large wins as well when everyone wins.

Now media, can you please take back a bit of control and prioritize these kinds of ads? Until then I'll mostly keep my ad blockers on and updated for everyone.

Because I'm seriously fed up with seing “personalized” ads that seems to be health scams, clickbait farms and dating site scams, ads that are insults to me personally, my wife and my family, all men generally and to a certain degree: all of mankind.

Filed under #lifeInNorway and #seasons

Caught myself wishing people merry Christmas today and also caught another reasonable person doing the same.

The 10. of December feels way too early for that, but to our defence, in both cases it was people we likely won't see again before next year.

Filed under #rants and #ux

I have an iPad that I like a lot. It is like 4 times quicker than even my flagship Android phones, and it mostly works.

There's one thing I notice however almost every time I use it:

Lack of consistency seems to be considered an UX guideline for iOS apps, and back when I used Mac it was the same there:

In every app that is produced or featured by Apple something is wildly different. Let's take a couple of examples:

Keyboard and tool layout in Notes.

Keyboard and tool layout in Pages.

Can you spot the differences? Here are some starting points: – Undo has moved (next to the keyboard and easy to reach in Notes, top of the page, jammed in next to Table of Contents in Pages.) – Paste doesn't exist in pages, you have to use the “tap the cursor” trick.

iOS/iPad OS is so full of these small annoyances that it seems like there is a UX guideline for it saying that every app should be ever so slightly different.

For the record:

Windows is well on its way in the same direction with the mess that is Control Panel these days.

There are actually a number of things I think were better before, and consistent UX is one of those things that had its peak somewhere around Windows XP and Office 2003. I do not want to go back, but I really wish UX designers would go back and learn to undo the mess that is Metro, Ribbon or in the iOS case the whole mess.

That said: I love my iPad as much as the best PC I had. It is – quick, somewhat predictable: – with the latest patch release I reboot it twice a week every time it jams my keyboard or something – most of the quirks are documented somewhere

I actually like it so much I'm seriously considering getting an iPhone next time I have to get a new phone which is really soon ™ as I'm so extremely fed up with having to wait for Android to switch apps, finding back the state after the other app got killed in the background etc.

Filed under #tumblelog, #warstories and #consulting.

Came across this:

I refactored the code from untested and untestable, to testable with 40% test coverage. The senior architect is refusing to merge because the test coverage is to low.

The whole post contains more examples but is still short and might be well worth reading as well if you are or have been frustrated with people or companies that seems unable to receive help, even when the solution is straightforward.

Here's my (not so) favorite a few years ago: a small, struggling company having on average 3 – 4 people stuck with manually copy/pasting into customer Excel reports at any time. I point out that the data is already available in a central location and suggest they ask one of their in own developers to add CSV output or something at that point.

Their answer: I hear you guys are busy, should we hire one more? (A few months later they fired a bunch of people as the market dried up somewhat.)

Filed under #lifeInNorway, #friendlyBanter and #photos

The bus arrives exactly on time. Me: you stick to the schedule? Bus driver from Northern Norway: no reason to do anything else as long as there isn't a bunch of local people clogging the road.

Car approaching in intersection as seen from the bus.

Snowy bridge as seen from the bus.

Train arrives in snowy weather.

Conversations like above is pretty common in parts of Norway, and considered OK. (And BTW, while I'm Norwegian I'm not one of the locals, but it is OK when people poke at us from the west coast as well as long as they stick to the facts ;–)

Filed under #lifeInNorway

First snow of the season falling on the flowers in the garden.

Today the first snow of the season arrived.

A friend of mine had asked me to help him with the drive belt on his snow blower and today we fixed it.

It turned out to be really simple: the fan attachment was held in place by four 13mm bolts. I took out four and loosened the fourth, pulled the attachment slightly away from the motor and then I could pull out the old belt and insert the new.

Filed under #reactions

Mikka Luster who is a reasonable person and writes interesting stuff as far as I know also writes this:

because the testing we did said nothing about the fitness of our candidates and more about their psychopathic subtendencies, which supported remaining calm in such environments.

as well as this:

But while learning to deal with the stress of a psychological torture scenario like a classroom test might be beneficial to a career as a psychopathic suspect, it won't help and might actually be detrimental, to a future as a physician.

and this:

LEO around the world are now trained on how to defuse these situations by using words, gestures, facial expressions, and poses. The result are less tense citizen and much less open confrontations. Confrontations which are triggered due to a reduced frontal lobe involvement in spontaneous actions and utterances. University test masters do not receive this training, yet their behavior and the environment they create is at least as damaging to some people's future as a random traffic stop.

From this I take that Mikka Luster has had a totally different experience with exams than I've had.

I totally don't think that he wants to paint everyone who does well on exams as psychopats but for someone knowing nothing about the subject it would be easy to make a partial (and wrong) inference from that.

So I'm going to write down some other observations about the typical exam situation as experienced by someone who grew up in Norway. Hopefully I'll be able to convince everyone that it is OK to do well on exams, and maybe someone can an idea or two on how to improve their own exam experience:

First, a bit that might not be easy to do something about as a student:

Mikka writes:

University test masters do not receive this training, yet their behavior and the environment they create is at least as damaging to some people's future as a random traffic stop.

I remember exams as calm, those sitting there with us would go out of their way to help (as far as allowed, they would of course not answer any questions) and generally nice. They would sit silently reading a book or something, usually in front, sometimes also in the back of the exam room. Once anyone waved a hand they'd be there either you needed paper to write on, or to go out for some air or something.

The feeling of the exam: there is nothing else I ought to do right now

I'm easily distracted. Except when I'm working focused on something that matters. That might be a hard bug, an interesting game, playing with my kids – or doing an exam.

When I sit down on the exam I have blocked off the day. My phone is off and out of reach anyway, my family and friends know I'm busy and for a good reason. As mentioned above there used to be a few people around that would help with anything practical. In short, in my mind it was the perfect opportunity to perform as well as possible.

Actually, when I lived alone that feeling would set in a few days earlier. At that time I used to work/be involved extremely much outside of school.

The good feeling of the exam approaching

Prior to exams I would typically read for days straight, at least when I lived alone and studied for my engineering degree. The last day before the exam I'd say to myself – or rather just observe as I got tired – that “there's nothing more I can do now, either this works or it doesn't but from now on until the exam starts all I'll focus on is getting a good nights sleep, getting up, getting breakfast, show up on time and in the correct place.”

Getting a chance to be judged for what I can and not for how well my teacher liked me

My exam results was often better than the grades my teacher assigned me. This is a general problem. Recently national tests in Norway has shown that while a large subset of the population (about half of them, say no more as that is a topic for another time) does better on average on national standardized test, the other half of the population get better grades on assignments etc.

I belong to the subset of the population that does better on exams. Lessons can be really boring, and especially when I was younger I'd went my frustration. That doesn't help your grades. (And to be fair, some of what I said in class wasn't too insightful either: “Why do I have to learn English? I'm going to be a farmer!)

Finishing up

I think the posts were interesting and well written. I just didn't think people should link psychopathy with doing well on exams.

Our current exams are not ideal, but they at least around here they are are a compromise between getting things fair and equal for everyone while simultaneously keeping costs down.

Peoples perceptions about exams might differ for a lot of reasons and I guess some of it comes from early experiences with exams. I know a couple of people who had terrible dentists as kids and the stories that especially one of them can tell about how far they are willing to go to avoid dentists even after they are adults is pure madness in my opinion, but obviously real for them considering they can for days with pretty bad teeth before finally admitting that it wasn't a headache after all and they need to go to the dentist.

Finally: one more personal observation. Airports. Airports are way more scary to me than exams. On exams I can walk out, get my phone back and the only thing that happens is I don't pass the exam this time. Airports on the other hand where officers can stop you for no good reason after you have traveled for 24 hours straight, asking invasive questions seemingly to catch you for something you don't know what is, ransack your belongings for half an hour or more – even force you to unlock your personal devices – that is way more scary than exams – in my opinion.

Or rather: adjusting the plan

Filed under #risingEarly

Yesterday I decided to sleep an hour extra tonight.

The result: I'm waking up tired and confused.

Hopefully I'll also be less tired during the day though.

BTW: Sleep as Android is how I get up. That alarm clock is amazing and I think it has followed me since shortly after I got my first or second Android phone. Itis customizable so I can decide for example how much I am allowed to snooze and more importantly it just doesn't give up. (Not affiliated in any way, just a happy user.)

Filed under #lifeInNorway

People who receive work assessment allowance (AAP), sickness benefit or attendance allowance no longer need to apply to NAV to be able to travel to another EU or EEA country in connection with temporary stays.

This above is probably close to the nicest way it is possible to describe the scandal that has unraveled this week:

It seems bureaucrats have sent a good number of people to jail and/or fined them heavily on accusations of fraud because they traveled abroad while receiving allowance or benefits from NAV.

What was the problem? According to our agreement with EU they are not allowed to restrict peoples movement within the EU that way as long as recipients adhere to the rest of the rules, things like filling in necessary forms etc.

To make matters worse, it now seems NAV has been made aware of this a few times already after being defeated in court, but has continued anyway.

The government is also receiving some deserved criticism for not acting after they were warned last year. Some of the worst criticism has died down though as it turns out some of the parties that was loudest in their criticism was in charge when this started. Ooops.

When I was younger and more stupid than I am now I would probably have said something more: maybe I would have said that “bureaucrats and politicians should have gone to jail over this” or something to that effect.

That option is not in our laws as far as I am aware and I have also become more careful to stop judging others and leave it to those qualified, but I do wonder what will come out of this.

Filed under #web and #linking

Daniel Janus has written a really interesting post about the current state of the web: Web of Documents

While I don't necessarily agree with everything I agree with most of it and found it very clear and well-written. I'll try to get back with another post that describes where our views differ, but for now, if you are interested in the state of the web read Web of Documents.

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