US v. Apple Inc.

Read the complaint here.

Good rid- I mean, here’s my data point.

The whole app store mentality feels like a cartel. As a small(er) business you can try bargaining with the richest publicly traded company on the planet. Arbitrary rules, whatever works for them forget whatever works for you.

DOJ has been working on this for some years so it shouldn’t be a surprise. Certainly not a surprise to me given how Apple App Store worked as a developer who tried to bring new tools and products to market. We had no idea what Apple was doing, it was opaque and generally uncooperative, and treated you like nothing. Rules for them are meant to be just cover, even if you follow all of them they’ll make up new ones and arbitrary nonsense. In retrospect, at least you can bribe the Cartel, so App Store is worse in some ways.

My current employer, years ago, tried to make some new business using our mobile knowhow in-house. Both of them ended up basically dead due to different reasons. One of them died due to the App Store. It couldn’t survive the review process. We literally had the most advanced geofence/tracking child monitoring app at the time (this was around the iPhone 4 era). It didn’t even do anything dangerous, at least no more than very basic geofencing tools did.

There’s a whole bag of bones with that use case which is nowadays kind of a side car to the countless things you can do with a smartphone, as parents to young children. The irony is not lost on me when Apple launched the AirTag, which they’re facing a class action lawsuit on by stalking victims. This is always the societal ill Apple has to balance. I really don’t buy it from people who now have an easier time to track things, especially those people who have medical-grade level of forgetfulness. Like, there are other tools not AirTag long in existence but you couldn’t use those?

These $20-a-pop things are not very loud and it’s only been about a year since they baked in the anti-stalking stuff in there. The two-sided-ness of it all is galling. If there’s no profit they will protect the law and their consumer to death. If there is money to be made, here’s the health and safety of our users on a silver platter.

You can also sign up for the other complaints from the DOJ like the green bubble thing (here is another case where selling more phones is more important than anxiety of teenagers on Android devices). Or the Epic third party app store thing. Or the annoying smart watch lock in thing. Anyways, there are myriad sins for such a major entity in the market, and it’s about time a liberal western government did something.

Pixel 8 Pro + Pixel Watch 2

My life with a smart watch started on the OG Pebble, then the steel Pebble 2 Color, then the Galaxy Watch3 (Titanium), and now I’m driving the Pixel Watch 2 because it came with the phone… In short, it isn’t very good. I know it went much farther than the OG Pixel Watch but it’s just not a great premise.

As a fitness gadget it is pretty good, but the Pixel Watch 2 fails kinda as a watch. It’s a tad on the small side in terms of circumference and display size. It’s not a phone companion and has a lot of on-device features that I don’t use or care much about. The health features are fine, but my needs are pretty basic and the only main thing the PW2 adds is more real-time measuring of my stats.

For utility, I only had it for a few days, so the jury is still out. Having WearOS support means I can probably get more use out of it via Maps or whatever, but is this at all on par with, say, Galaxy Watch5 or whatever new one to be released soon, especially when it has crown again…

It’s just really weird that when I upgraded to the latest and greatest WearOS watch, it felt like a big step backwards from a 3-years-old watch.

As for the Pixel 8 Pro, it’s just a better Pixel 7. The fancy AI features are in the Photo app and I don’t really think about them. I’m sure they’re useful when the time comes. The better hardware however really ties things together. Ditching the curved screen and having a much better screen than most Android phones go a long way. Slight changes to the dimensions and the screen don’t make the phone harder to use or easier to hold, or at least it’s not notable.

The regular Pixel 8 is a great time to get into the Pixel system, pretty confident that they have ironed out enough stuff by this point. It’s $700 now but it has also a great screen and it’s not as big as big phones can be. Wish it was just a tad smaller like the Galaxy S23 or something.

Meanwhile if anyone knows how to reverse/revert the direction on the Pixel Watch crown control please let me know.

PS. I do use the temp sensor, it works…or not. Wish the UX was easier.

NJ to ME with a Trailer on the Lightning

It takes some planning and extra time, but we were able to drive to Acadia National Park with our F-150 Lightning Lariat ER with a travel trailer in tow. Facts at the end of the post, but well, the post will say nothing new here: Charging infrastructure for non-Tesla EVs suck in the USA, even in the relatively-densely populated part of US that is New England.

What might be new is, more specifically, how it is like charging while towing a travel trailer. Also what might be new is what serious advantages you can get out of this rig for those doing the travel trailer life. What might also be new is that you can even do it…without that much difficulty.

So for the longest time I wanted to revisit Acadia National Park, having previously visited 20+ years prior. It’s scenic and a cool place to visit during the summer. The views are great, and so are the seafood. Maine is known for the lobsters but also, I guess, a nice tea time at the Jordan Pond House. For this trip we stayed at the Schoodic side of the park, which is quiet and much less crowded compared to Desert Island and Bar Harbor. It all worked out as I was traveling with two retirees (Mom and Pop) and I was working remotely during the non-travel days anyway. What I am thankful for was that, besides the trip having worked out without much issues, but the great weather also that week. The sun came out and the stars was a nice change from the urban light pollution that I am used to.

After some online battles I was able to score a campsite reservation at the Schoodic Woods Campground, which is one of the few RV parks (well it’s more like a campground) in the Acadia region managed by the National Parks Service. It’s an unbeatable value if you couple it with one of the senior passes that they sell. Anyways, these electric/water RV sites also book out really quick so you have to do the online reservation thing right when they release the sites at 10am every day. The sites offer a lot of space and a lot of privacy (by RV park standards), plus it comes with 20/30/50 electric and water connection. Again, it’s also super cheap.

We were up there for about a week. What we would do for most days was, we get up for breakfast, then my folk would take off in the truck while I worked at the site. Later on we’d go out for meals (or cook in) or go sightseeing. Signals are strong enough with LTE Verizon and T-Mobile (Fi). My Verizon sim died literally the night I got there, so I couldn’t work off of it, and TMO can get congested when the site is crowded (like at night). But it was fast enough to work…fast enough for Zoom but not fast enough for Discord VC. I played multiplayer Gloomhaven one night with some folks back south and other than VC not dong well, it worked fine.

All of that driving fuel after we got to Acadia? Complementary to the camp site because we can plug the truck into the 50 while our 30 amp trailer use up the other plug. Of the two places we plugged in for RV, both had 50/30 (and 20) and neither had an issue drawing power for both the truck, the trailer, and our appliances. That said we didn’t run the AC, but we did run the heater and fridge and microwave etc. We didn’t really use our water boiler in electric though.

Rigging up the camper and the truck power connection can be a little tricky so we just have to plan correctly when we back in or pull through. I guess this is not too unusual, and it does mean we have 30 and 50 extension cables just in case. We didn’t need to use them on this trip though. The truck pulls about 10-12 miles an hour of charge when recharging, which seems about right. It’s so much electricity that we would not be able to drive far enough every day to make a notable dent in the nightly charge back into the tank.


The trip itself took about 2 days for us going up, and also 2 days coming down. We reserved a night going each way at a RV park/resort about half way, both to kick back after traveling each day and to fully charge the truck while we’re at it. I figured with the distance plus charging time, it would be way too hard to be enjoyable with two old timers in tow to do it in one day. I was initially expecting the travel trailer (rated 5000lb ballpark) to about half the total range of the Lightning Lariat ER with Max Tow (so up to 10000lb). That’s about 160ish miles MAX, but practically it’s more like 80% of that or about 130 miles, after taking into account margins and the charging curve. This also means I can probably get away fine without a weight distribution hitch and just rely on the built-in electronic trailer stability feature. In reality that was pretty much the case, but a WDH would have helped somewhat in the driving part. Still, it probably would be kind of a pain when you run into a situation where you have to disconnect the trailer for charging reasons.

The towing experience itself is surprisingly good, most of the time on the highway I almost forget I was towing (which is lol a possible problem too). It’s fast off the line, which was appreciated when I was pulling out of a rest stop in Connecticut that had a stop sign on the merge. Like, you are going to be faster than most cars, let alone the average half-ton towing a trailer.

When handling bumpy roads though, you can definitely feel it. This EV is not magic. The suspension does float some, which is the big drawback with the Lightning in general IMO (software aside). You can also feel the electronic trailer stability going when it gets windy, rainy, and getting passed. That last thing happened a lot, if you want to get good range while towing, which is just a fact of life I guess. Gotta drive 65 in a 70? I think our trailer is right up to about half of the towing capacity, so a WDH will be a tangible benefit, just not a requirement.

Range calculation (or the computer in the truck anyway) is quite conservative while towing. We were pulling about 1 mile per KWh or so on the highway, and up to 1.2 on slower roads. Typically we stop for charge every 90 to 120 miles, depending on where the charging station is. (Also, old people needs to use the restroom.) We stayed, typically, 45-70 minutes at each DC Fast Charging stop. Well, “Fast Charging” because we stayed at a couple technically DCFC places that went up to 62KW, which is quite slow, and I didn’t count that one time. We were suffering from range anxiety when we were going up north around Bangor, and there are basically no good chargers around there. The ones on the map are all at dealerships. So we went to one and got a bit of juice.

Driving it on one pedal worked pretty well, you can definitely feel the regen breaking work differently with a trailer so make sure to set up the electronic trailer break too. There are definitely games you can play to try to capture as much kinetic energy as possible, on longer stopping distances.

I drove about 80% of the time with my dad taking over the other 20%. I used BlueCruise most of the time, which seems to work fine with the trailer. It does enforce hands-on-wheel by torque, and it’s annoying you can’t dismiss it the same way you can do it on a Tesla by changing volume. On a long drive I’m not going to be applying that much force on the wheel all the time you know? I also like to put both hands on the wheel, which counters out the downward force on each hand. For the most part BlueCruise worked well, although sometimes it would nonchalantly disengage which probably is a tad dangerous. The emergency stopping assistant also falsely triggered once on this trip, which is unpleasant every time that it does.

On that note, this truck was running on old software because of the bug with installing the November 2022 update. I contacted Ford once over the online chat who told me to go to the dealership, but I didn’t get to do that until after the trip. FWIW, the dealer didn’t quite fix it, but it made the update prompt go away on the truck (but not on the phone app).

The trip planning side was mostly via ABRP. ABRP was a baseline, rather, which provided a pretty solid list of charging stations and what they were, and what overall routes to use. After pulling up the route, I reviewed the charging stops to make sure they work. I also had to look up some alt charging locations in advance and wrote them down. Given that we needed a lot of space, we erred on the side of Electrify America. A lot of them have parking slots on both sides of the charger, which made it possible to drive up to them from the side, avoiding blocking the roads in the parking lot. There were a few pull-in chargers, like the ChargePoint ones in Maine. There were a few that were installed just this year, so we got lucky in that sense.

The most clutch of them all is the rest stop between 495 and 95 at West Gardiner. It goes up to 250KW and there are 2 of them, plus 3 slower 62KW ones. Too bad I didn’t find out about this station until I got up to Maine. Our trip back down was much smoother thanks to this one stop. What’s really neat as we found out is that none of the charging stops required us to disconnect the trailer.

The Scarborough, Maine Electrify America station is kind of broken, with only 1 out of 4 chargers working. We had arrived there in the morning and was able to beat the weekend crowd, so to speak. We made sure to skip that one on the way back. Massachusetts and Connecticut have plenty of chargers, so it wasn’t until we cross into NH/ME that it becomes a bit dire.

Other than ABRP, we also modified our routes using Google Maps. The built-in EV charger finding feature works okay, it’s better still than the one built into the Ford Lighting’s Sync4, so take that as you will. The only catch here is that while GMaps show more locations, not every one is vetted. The one in the truck didn’t show a lot of them, but I think it erred on the side of “what works.” Well, even then, it didn’t tell me that this one ChargePoint system was out of commission in Bangor, but that’s more a ChargePoint issue.

Here are the list of charging stops we made on the way up:

  • Walmart supercenter 1201 NY-300, Newburgh, NY 12550 (EA)
  • Walmart supercenter 420 Buckland Hills Dr, Manchester, CT 06042 (EA)
  • Pine Lake RV Resort Sturbridge, MA 01566
  • Walmart supercenter 700 Lafayette Rd, Seabrook, NH 03874 (EA)
  • Walmart supercenter 500 Gallery Blvd, Scarborough, ME 04074 (EA)
  • 206 Center Rd, Fairfield, ME (Irving gas station)

On the way down:

  • 392 Lewiston Rd, West Gardiner, ME 04345 (CP)
  • Walmart supercenter 700 Lafayette Rd, Seabrook, NH 03874 (EA)
  • Pine Lake RV Resort Sturbridge, MA 01566
  • RT. 15 New Canaan SB Service Plaza (GreenApple) (There is also DCFS on the NB side)

It feels like we did much better on the way down, also partly because we drove locally through Maine which provides a much better mileage per KW. Time-wise I think we were about 2 hours faster on the way back, and that’s including traffic (about the same both directions). And no I am not listing which dealership we charged in Bangor lol (and because, in retrospect, we did not have to stop there, it was just range anxiety).

F-150 Lightning Software LOL

Sure, I drive a Tesla, so maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt. I did spend a lot more money on the Ford than the Tesla, though, so while my dad and I agree that the Ford build quality is really good (not to say anything about comparing a heavy-duty vehicle with a lower-ish end luxury sedan at almost half the price), we both also agree that the software on the Ford is not that good.

First of all, the Sync navigation just feels like something from 2005. It looks more like a 2005 nav polished with 2015 UI makeover. Last time I checked this truck was model year 2022, a good 7 years too old for the most software-advance Ford. Oh did I tell you how Sync on nav would crash like one out of ten times? Not to mention on basic routing, it’s just outright worse than Google Maps maybe one out of three or four times (as in, give a worse route)? Like many OEM dashes they get a pass as long as it has Android Auto/Apple Carplay, and this is a bad trend of big car companies just not doing their homework because they don’t have to in order to be market-competitive, and the engineering debt comes to bite them in the rear.

But yes, it has wireless AA/Carplay and it’s pretty good when it works. It is definitely kind of finicky. Sometimes I would put my phone on the wireless charger pad and it still wouldn’t connect, maybe one out of 10-20 times. Usually it will connect as long as it’s in a pocket near the console, and not covered up heavily by coats or something. Whatever. Wired does work.

What prompts me to write this post, besides mild procrastination, is that software updates are stuck. Turns out there’s a winter 2022 patch that updates the “Distance To Empty” algo in cold weather to be more accurate. About half of F-150 Lightning owners were able to install it no problem. The other half have to basically resort to Konami Contra cheat codes to fix the issue, and that’s only some of the time. I got as far as manually charging the 12v, because the truck normally isn’t plugged in. And no luck. I think Ford definitely screwed the pooch on the 12v arch design here. This is a heavy duty truck, and if all those subsystems are just going to cross over from the gas F-150, the battery needs to be equally beefy. It is not, in the Lightning.

This software update is cumulative, which means if you can’t get it installed, you can’t get any subsequent installed. I hope they’re looking at their installation base and seeing that dropoff. And good luck getting the dealer to fix it, because they’re even less clueful than most owners.

On the plus side, Bluecruise is excellent when it works. The UX needs work because it’s not always clear when it’s enabled, when it’s partially enabled (eg., hands free versus not), and when you can or cannot enable it. The dash is just cluttered with junk data that I don’t really need, but it’s there due to inertia, so that’s part of the problem. You can see how the Old literally is holding back the New in this case. Compared against the EAP Autopilot, it’s about on par, minus the auto lane change feature which is very sweet, but maybe not $6000 sweet. I think Bluecruise is free for another year? Or something? Then there’s a subscription. Sigh.

I guess I’ll try the cheat code when the weather is warmer. I mean at least this wasn’t a 2021 VW ID4, right? Now that was a hellish software update problem.


Watching Monday Night Football last night, we saw a bright young man of 24-years old gets pounded in the chest while making a tackle go into cardiac arrest. Prime time television! What was more sobering is the collective response at the scene. Imagine a near-murder at your party, and this was one at one of America’s largest type.

I want to just say that this is trauma. It’s definitely for Damar Hamlin, his family, his friends and acquaintances, his teammates, and the people in the organizations affected by his injury during the game. It’s for sure trauma for the audience at the game, having to see it happen that way, having to see the (seemingly excellent) paramedic and medical staff at the game taking care of their business. It’s trauma for the press members covering the game. It’s trauma for the audience at home. Nobody wanted to see this.

So it’s not really about softening of hits or anything. It’s about realizing it takes strength to actually “get smart” about realizing NFL is a time bomb or Russian roulette of injury. I still remember Ryan Shazier, who had his spine contused during also a MNF game in 2017. Thankfully he recovered and was able to live somewhat normally a few years later. Sure he didn’t need CPR, but it occurred to me as strange that the 2017 game still played on 15 minutes later as if things are OK? That’s kind of messed up! The dude just got carted off without any ability to move his lower body. Is football worth this kind of injury?

Hopefully Damar Hamlin will pull through and make a full recovery. But what if he makes a partial one? Is the NFL just going to sweep this yet another negative externality under the table like it did with all the CTE stuff? How about the rest of American society who was traumatized by this? Will we forget and not demand the NFL to do more?

How about, let’s first recognize the trauma? While I was researching on the life of a dead 26-year-old seiyuu a couple weeks ago I realized it’s precisely the same mechanism that we can really truly live and remember, and honor those who paid the price. That mechanism is to research, to rigorously recall and remember, and retell, how these people lived. It might be triggering at times, but it’s also therapeutic.