The U.S. Mail delivers intrigue

On the Postal Service website just now is an advertizement for their “Informed Delivery” tool, that emails you scanned images of mail pieces that are going to end up at your address.

From: USPS / To: Jane / Informed Delivery Daily Digest 7:52 a.m. / COMING TO YOUR MAILBOX SOON / MAIL / picture of letter with return address “John Doe / 123 Any Street / Anytown USA 55555”, canceled stamp, and address “Jane Smith 123 Any Street / Anytown USA 5555”.

Aside from the maybe incorrect address formatting (The USPS seems to want you to use abbreviations for road names, so 123 Any ST) and notable lack of a state or territory for Anytown, why is John Doe sending a letter to Jane Smith at the same address?

Continue reading The U.S. Mail delivers intrigue

Milk jug colorization

I noticed a while ago that, in the area of the world that I am familiar with, which is to say 2 or 3 of States in the “northeast” of the United States, of the 4 types of retail cow milk (skim or 0% milkfat, 1%, 2%, and “whole” or 3.25%) only “whole” milk is consistently sold with a red cap and label. The others are totally unstandardized and different colors are used for them and some times the same-ish color is used by two different bottlers for different types/grades (cyan is skim milk at 1 retailer and 1% at another one, both with stores around here).

Does any one have more information on this, preferably stories not published but experienced or known? Legal or other citations OK too.

3-eyed electric meter

A quick one: this simplified graphic of an electric power meter, as seen on common residential and light commercial services, looks like it has 3 eyes and is unimpressed:

NYSEG meter is unimpressed with your power profile.

Unicode calls this a “neutral face” but to me it’s unimpressed with what it sees, or what it is registering.

Against pictures in charitable organizations and appeals

I got, out of nowhere, a magazine for a well known, audited, and considered-legitimate charitable organization that applies itself to assisting poor people in many countries. Aside from the annoyance at their having no obvious way to unsubscribe on their website, something else:

This, and other organizations I know of, have photographs of people and groups they have helped by their work in their publications and on their websites. Since I have no experience with their work, I can’t speak for the people in the pictures. They should have been asked if they wanted to be photographed, though that itself is risky.

For me as recipient of their appeal, I have this objection: how am I supposed to know these pictures are representative (and not staged)? What about them proves the people in them are what they are presented as?

Names and places aren’t given – rightly so, poverty doesn’t abolish privacy (or shouldn’t). I have to take in clues in the pictures (which are also manipulatable), and sadly a highly obvious one is race. This could make perception that the only really poor people (or the only ones they help) are Black.

The best way to be sure of their legitimacy is by independent conduct and publishing of audits on their work regularly. Catalogs do not have to be text only, but pictures can be of the works of charity themselves, and if people are needed for scale or demonstration (such as for a water pump), where and how they appear should be carefully considered.

If the people who would appear in these pictures do not fit an obvious pattern, for example being of an entire range of skin colors, there is still such a risk of pattern recognition in the unknowable readership picking up something unobvious to the designers (all poor people are left handed? have blue eyes? something else?).

FEMA subversiveness

In the United States, emergency management/civil protection (what used to be called civil defense) is coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA (read as “FEE-mah”). The justly respected Florida COVID Action site recently linked to a page of FEMA’s on how to prepare for hurricanes (which Florida is the constant target of) with COVID-19 in mind. Looking closer…

Continue reading FEMA subversiveness

Entertaining PDF errors in old (“legacy”) Edge

My opinion on Microsoft’s newest idea of their web browser, Edge, being taken from Google’s “Chrome” engine is based on surface impressions only. I still don’t use it for anything, but in earlier days noticed it had some really neat error messages. Firefox got rid of their “This might void your warranty!” warning on about:config, after (more understandably) removing the description of web cookies as “delicious delicacies”.

On December 19, 2019 (I’ve been planning this blog post since then), I tried to open a 0 byte PDF file in Edge and got this:

OldEdgePDFerror.png
Scroll with lines of text blowing off the paper. Message: This PDF is corrupted / We won’t be able to open this one. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The information becoming mixed-up-ness, “blowing in the wind”, is a powerful one to me. There is some reference I am missing remembering, but I think it is close to Weir’s “Silent Conversation” ex-Flash game.

Around April 3, 2020, I made the same mistake and got this instead:

NewerOldEdgePDFerror.png
Folder standing up partially open with flying bug (looks like bumble bee) circling out of it. Message: Nothing to see here / Oops! Looks like this PDF is empty. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The bug-flying-out-of-container is symbolic of emptyness, and is usually seen in reference to an empty wallet. The explosm people (one of them) used this to advantage in their #1654, where two moths (?) were exchangeable for a gigantic horsefly (?) at a bank.

Sadly, to me, all that is gone now and we have this uninspired looks-modal-but-isn’t error:

NewestEdgePDFerror.png
We can’t open this file / Something went wrong. / Button: Refresh

Boring, less useful than the revised “legacy” message, and a useless option. I call this a loss. (Am filing it under “Interface Hall of Shame” because they went backward in usefulness of the message.)

Nieuuu Dzherseyyy!

I’ve finally turned up enough matter from official New Jersey websites to warrant flooding my blog with them all at once. (There is an animated GIF at the end.)

Continue reading Nieuuu Dzherseyyy!