Saturday, February 9, 2019

What the Lumen5 text to video service taught me about...text

Last month, Sheila Scarborough wrote about repurposing content. One of her suggestions was to use Lumen5 to convert a blog post to video.

Lumen5 crawls the blog posts and makes a short draft video with key phrases and matching stock imagery. All we have to do is tweak the draft, maybe change some of the phrases or images (machines are not THAT smart!) and boom – we have a new video.

Good old artificial intelligence, or A.I., is supposed to make this process easy.

So I thought I'd try it.

I selected one of my more popular Empoprise-BI posts from 2018: Before Blogger is sunsetted, I'd better write this post on Google's customers.

When I loaded it into Lumen5, the A.I. went haywire.

And I can understand why.

My blog post writing style is notoriously dense. So Lumen5 had trouble automatically selecting portions of text to highlight in a video. When I tried to select text manually, even I had trouble.

Just for fun, take a couple of minutes to read my original post.

Now watch the video.

If I am going to convert text posts to video...

...they need more streamlined writing.

(Let's see if I did it.)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Why you shouldn't be pro-choice when it comes to product feature prioritization

I spent a decade as a product manager back in the day (way back - it was waterfall time), and I've interacted with product managers ever since. I think I can safely say that every single product manager has to deal with feature prioritization - namely, that there are more features that need to be added to the product than developer hours available to implement them all.

Once you get past the bad methods of prioritizing features (for example, prioritizing feature X because the development engineer thinks it's really cool and reminds her of The Matrix), you realize that you need to engage in some type of market analysis. Now I've worked with very small markets, where the total number of customers for my products can be counted in the hundreds. The snack chip makers who will be advertising in this Sunday's Super Bowl (there, I said it) deal with a somewhat larger number of customers.

But how do you get meaningful data from customers? After all, customers are focused upon their own needs, which in some respects resemble a 1960s protest rally.

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1106-405 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Link

What features do we want?
When do we want them?

In a universe with unlimited choices, people will choose all the things.

There are other issues with such surveys, as Jared Boyer of Price Intelligently notes:

Asking respondents to “check all the features that are important to you” can generate bias since respondents can easily be swayed by the concept that “more is better.”

But what if people are REALLY forced to choose? Here's how Boyer recommends that this be done:

[F]orcing respondents to simply choose a favorite feature and least favorite feature gives you a better opportunity to hone in on the aspects of your offering that are most attractive to customers.

Yes, Boyer advocates that you choose a SINGLE favorite feature and a SINGLE least favorite feature. In the first case, choose the ONE feature that you're not willing to give up, bearing in mind that you'll give up everything else. In the second case, choose the feature that you may NEVER EVER get.

Now THAT will make you think.

Even if you're not a product manager, or don't associate with those types of people, you can play this game for yourself. Choose your favorite application - Microsoft Word, Facebook, Angry Birds, whatever. Think about your favorite and least favorite features. Really think. Now imagine that 41 million 18-24 year olds in the United States are doing the same thing.

You can get a lot of data from that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Can artificial intelligence correct the problems of artificial intelligence?

First, let me start off by saying that the views in this post are my own and not necessarily the views of my employer.

Why the caveat?

Because my employer, like many, is doing things in the artificial intelligence arena.

By Grafiker61 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Because of this, I make a point of monitoring discussions of artificial intelligence - especially recent discussions regarding possible bias in artificial intelligence algorithms. And while I'm not going to touch [REDACTED] topic, I'll take a moment to highlight this discussion from the MIT Technology Review:

Risk assessment tools are designed to do one thing: take in the details of a defendant’s profile and spit out a recidivism score—a single number estimating the likelihood that he or she will reoffend. A judge then factors that score into a myriad of decisions that can determine what type of rehabilitation services particular defendants should receive, whether they should be held in jail before trial, and how severe their sentences should be. A low score paves the way for a kinder fate. A high score does precisely the opposite.

By RoyHalzenski - Taken by RoyHalzenski (Myself), Public Domain, Link

Obviously an important tool - as author Karen Hao notes, the scores can dramatically impact your life. But Hao has one concern.

Modern-day risk assessment tools are often driven by algorithms trained on historical crime data.

If the potential problem with this isn't immediately apparent to you, let me share an example from outside the criminal world - in fact, it's from the hiring world. And this involves a company that's known for its involvement in AI - the company's named for a river or sumfin.

The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent...

“Everyone wanted this holy grail,” one of the people said. “They literally wanted it to be an engine where I’m going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we’ll hire those.”

Sounds great, doesn't it! So what data was used to power that engine?

[The] computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period.

So what happens when you use such data to train algorithms? Because the company was based in the Pacific Northwest, presumably the algorithm favored applicants that liked coffee, wore flannel, and didn't have strong suntans. Those issues in and of themselves were not problems. However, the fact that the source data had a lot of successful candidates who were males - something that led the algorithm to prefer candidates who were male - WAS a problem that caused the company to scrap the effort.

The "garbage in, garbage out" issue isn't limited to AI, but it's something that AI needs to address if algorithms are going to work properly. So if you have garbage data, how do you make it ungarbage?

Another part of MIT proposes to solve the AI data bias problem with...AI.

A team from MIT CSAIL is working on a solution, with an algorithm that can automatically “de-bias” data by resampling it to be more balanced.

The algorithm can learn both a specific well as the underlying structure of the training data, which allows it to identify and minimize any hidden biases. In tests the algorithm decreased "categorical bias" by over 60 percent...while simultaneously maintaining the overall precision of these systems.

Now I don't have the scientific smarts to determine if this other MIT group is blowing smoke. And I should mention in passing that I am more concerned about facial recognition rather than face detection, if you get my drift.

But if we truly can develop algorithms that look at a set of data and normalize it, then the science will take a great step forward.

Assuming, of course, that the bias reduction algorithms are not themselves biased...

By Love Krittaya - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Awful, Incompetent, Malfeasant, Terrible-Boss...CEO?

As I write this, portions of the U.S. federal government have been shut down for over a month. And while there are a variety of views regarding the blame for the government shutdown, one fairly popular view places the fault at the feet of the President of the United States.

On Google Plus (note: this link won't work in a few months), Dave Hill describes one of the consequences of this. His post is entitled "The Awful, Incompetent, Malfeasant, Terrible-Boss President."

By Shealah Craighead - White House, Public Domain, Link

The President of the United States is many things, but one huge one is that he is the CEO and, well, President of the biggest organization in the US. A million federal workers work for him. And he is not just letting them down, he is actively screwing them.

Hill then describes the plight of many unpaid essential workers, including employees of the Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and various parts of the Department of Homeland Security.

So, if President Trump has truly let these federal workers down, why is that? One possible reason is Trump's priority on loyalty. In the Trump Organization, he could insist that every employee be personally loyal to him. The federal government hasn't worked that way since the days of President Arthur. Trump can say "you're fired" to the political appointees, such as Jeff Sessions and Jim Mattis, but he can't terminate civil service workers.

The image, depending upon whom you talk to, is of a heroic President battling against millions of agents of the Deep State, or or a buffoon President wrecking a functioning government.

Either way, you have a head of an organization who is battling against his employees - something that would NEVER EVER EVER happen in the corporate world.

Um...think again. And look at the history of one of the most valuable companies in the known universe. Say, around 1980.

That's the year that the company then known as Apple Computer completed its Initial Public Offering. Steve Jobs was Chairman of Apple Computer, but not its Chief Executive Officer (at the time, that position was held by Michael Scott). Because CEOs rather than Chairmen ran Apple at the time, Steve Jobs was bored:

With the initial public offering of Apple Computers in December 1980, Steve Jobs became a multimillionaire – however, he possessed neither enough stock to lead Apple Computers alone nor to determine his own position within Apple. By the beginning of 1981, he actually found himself to be without management responsibility over any specific project.

Now perhaps for some board chairs, this would be fine. Let the professionals run the company, and just provide a bit of guidance. But this didn't sit well with Jobs, and wouldn't sit well with anyone who thought of himself as a (using 21st century terminology) stable genius. So he found something to do.

To Jef Raskin’s discomfort, [Jobs] threw himself into the Macintosh project, which had not been taken really seriously by the Apple board of management at that time.

As a consequence of throwing himself behind the Mac, Jobs not only considered the Apple II as the enemy (despite the fact that the bulk of Apple Computer's revenues would continue to be from the Apple II for years to come), but also considered the Lisa as the enemy. The fact that these were Apple products themselves didn't matter - Jobs would get what he wanted, regardless of how it affected the overall company.

Steve Jobs kind of came bopping by my [Andy Hertzfeld's] cubicle saying OK you’re working on the Mac now. And I said well I have to finish up this Apple 2 stuff I’m doing here. No you don’t that stinks that’s not going to amount to anything you gotta start now. And I said well just give me a few days to finish and he said no and what he did was he pulled the plug on my Apple 2 that I was programming just losing, losing the code I’m working on and start taking my computer and walking away with it and what could I do but follow him out to his car cause he had my machine he plopped it down in the trunk and drove me over to this remote building, took the computer out, walked upstairs, plopped it down on a desk, well you’re working on the Mac now.

Everyone knows how that turned out - the pirate flag, the name-calling of nearly everyone as bozos, the grandiose introduction of a revolutionary product that changed computer history...followed by lackluster sales. After a boardroom struggle between Jobs and his hand-picked CEO John Sculley, Jobs was impeached and convicted - whoops, I mean he was fired and/or resigned, and left Apple to start a new company, cherry-picking a few of Apple's key employees along the way.

Now I'm not the only one to compare the management styles of Steve Jobs and Donald Trump. Take a guy that we all know as Woz.

Asked whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk is similar to Jobs, the Apple co-founder replied: "Having been close to Steve Jobs, and not that close to Elon Musk, I'd say Steve Jobs is more like (President) Trump."

I fear I hear gasps of horror. Was Woz suggesting that he was the Mike Pence of his day?

Woz, however, justified his comparison by saying this of Jobs: "A lot of shocking things you would never hear about, but you would never want your own child to be that way. You'd just be shocked that a human being would do those things."

Some would claim that Woz may still bear a grudge because Jobs cheated him in an early business deal. But that early business deal is reminiscent of something our President would do.

But because this is my blog, I'll give myself the last word. This is something that I wrote two years ago, in January 2017.

We try to make pirates into beloved cuddly creatures, but pirates can be cut-throat and not nice at all. There are a bunch of victims of Donald Trump, just as there are a bunch of victims of Steve Jobs. The talent, or curse, of pirates is that they have the vision and temperament to look at a society and its rules and decide to do something better while breaking a number of rules along the way. For each pirate, we have to decide if piracy is worth it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

When the fine print destroys your image - the Burke Williams surcharge

Burke Williams, using the slogan "beyond the spa," provides massage and other services throughout California. The company's marketing emphasizes a refined, high-class image.

But if you look at the company's FAQs, you'll find something curious.

Why is there a surcharge on my invoice?

Beginning July 1st, 2018, in response to state and local minimum wage increase and to assure that our valued employees continue to receive the compensation and benefits they deserve, a 3% surcharge will be added to all services. 100% of this surcharge goes directly to the compensation of our employees.

Obviously this is a pricing presentation tactic, and in one sense could be compared to other pricing presentation tactics. Gas stations that price in tenths of a cent. Automobile sticker prices that exclude a bunch of things. Companies that charge extra for shipping and handling.

But as Megan Lynch notes, this pricing presentation tactic does not reflect well on Burke Williams' overall message.

You say the “surcharge” is due to minimum wage, but you want to make sure your employees get what they deserve. Which, apparently, is the least amount the law will allow you to pay despite your high prices & tony surrounding.

Think about it. Customers are going to, in Lynch's words, a "tony" place, and probably have above average income themselves - Burke Williams' listed prices (excluding surcharges) for simple massage are around $100 and up, and are higher in San Jose and San Francisco. The company's "transformative journeys" (which sound very Goop-y) are north of $500, and are again higher in San Jose and San Francisco.

Yet the existence of the surcharge suggests that these prices alone are insufficient for the cost of doing business, which (as of July 1, 2018) included wages somewhere between $10.50 per hour and $15 per hour.

Of course, this assumes that Burke Williams classifies its workers as employees and not independent contractors.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Top Ways People Could Prank A Fully Driver-Attended Vehicle

Phoenix New Times ran an article entitled "Top 12 Ways People Could Prank a Fully Driverless Vehicle." While taking great care to explicitly NOT advocate that people do these things (I guess they have lawyers on retainer), Phoenix New Times makes the point that the driverless car algorithms are fairly new, and that if you throw something at them that they don't expect, the algorithms could be fooled to act incorrectly. (Of course, these are examples in which society agrees what the correct activity should be.)

By Grendelkhan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

So I read the 12 ways, and it hit me that while these could fool driverless cars, many of them could fool driver-attended cars also.


Get in, but not out. Autonomous vehicles at intersections presumably have their doors locked, but when an autonomous taxi is changing passengers, that's an opportunity for an intruder to get inside. Maybe the person is a rude prankster, or maybe just drunk. Maybe the person tries to take over driving operations. What happens next?

This can easily be shown to be something that isn't unique to autonomous vehicles - especially in South Africa.

A Toyota Corolla Quest, belonging to a Pakistan national who was hijacked at Jambila on the R38 between Barberton and Badplaas on Wednesday afternoon, was rediscovered in Johannesburg later that afternoon.

Unfortunately the R27 500 that was stolen from Ridwane Patel (30) has not yet been recovered and the suspects are still at large.

According to Capt Jabu Ndubane, police spokesman, Patel was hijacked by five men on Wednesday at around 10:00.

And Patel didn't have the benefit of a camera in his car and a Waymo employee waiting to assist.

Back to Phoenix New Times.

Getting punked. If no driver or riders are around, who will take the banana out of the tailpipe or help catch a prankster?

And what if a driver is around, and doesn't know what is going on? The car could still stall.

OK, here's another one.

Alter road signs to fool computers, but not humans. University of Washington computer-security researcher Yoshi Kohno showed in 2017 that if you know the algorithms that help the computers in driverless cars process their detection data, the computers can be easily fooled. In a spooky demonstration of the potential weakness in self-driving cars, strips of black-and-white tape on a stop sign caused a lab-based autonomous system to see it as a 45-mph speed-limit sign.

Yes, this is a wonderful, ingenious method that specifically targets the car's algorithms. But there's a lot easier way to do this that will not only fool autonomous cars, but every car.

A vigilante has secretly been protecting parking spaces by creating fake road signs - for a zone that doesn't exist.

Around 18 of the realistic "Zone F" signs have been placed on lampposts in Bath, Somerset.

They are professionally made and put up on lamp posts but the local council has confirmed there is no Zone F.

And if the vigilante doesn't want to park, she could just as easily replace a real stop sign with a fake 45 mph sign and watch the fun begin.

And if you go through the entire list, many of the autonomous tricks could easily be applied to all cars.

Well, except one:

Hack them.

While you can hack computer software, you can't hack an actual driver.

Or can you?

What if the driver is instructed by a bozo instructor?

One spring afternoon, my daughter was scheduled for her second in-car lesson. Just as school let out, the driving instructor pulled up in a bus lane to collect her. He insisted that she get behind the wheel and directed her to proceed through the bus lanes.

Luckily, no one was killed (although the daughter was shaken). But if the girl hadn't been subsequently instructed by someone with a brain (her parent), what could have happened?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Canine Biometric Access to Secure Cloud Infrastructures (Using Gluten-Free Blockchain)

(While many of you are participating in the "Help Facebook Improve Its Facial Recognition Algorithm Age Comparison" challenge, I'm participating in a challenge of my own.)

Canine Biometric Access to Secure Cloud Infrastructures (Using Gluten-Free Blockchain)
John E. Bredehoft[1][2]

Paradigm-shifting, self-actualizing firms are undoubtedly the wave[3] of the future, because they will get bigly[4] press just by being mentioned. Let's face it - you aren't going to get ahead in life by talking[5] about Sears.

I recently received[6] a very important communication from a senior representative of a paradigm-shifting, self-actualizing firm[7]. As I investigated the revolutionary nature of this particular business, I ran across a picture[8] of the staff of said company. Now I don't know if they were employees, or if 90% of them were gig workers who earned non-tradeable credits (rather than cash) for showing up on picture day. But the picture clearly indicates that the firm is like cool and stuff - primarily because two of the staff are holding dogs.

Those who claim that this is merely a picture of tech workers holding dogs are clinging to antiquated views of society which are no longer relevant in the post-Bitcoin world. Outmoded views of canine "ownership" are an antiquated[9] way of thinking that should be consigned to the scrap heap. Obviously these canines are employees of the company, just like people are, and the only reason that they are being held is to comply with ADA[10] regulations.

While I am not in any way whatsoever implying that being a working canine is a disability, that's what the law says, and tech companies obviously must accommodate their canine workers. But how can this be done when businesses abandon password-based authentication for biometric models[11]? While most[12] animals are unable to communicate to enter a password, most modern biometric systems are unable to accommodate horses, canines, or other species. Right?


To prove this, let me quote two excerpts from a REAL academic paper[13]:

The zebra is the most obvious example for an animal with minutiae based markings. The minutiae are easily recognized by human inspection....[T]here is some evidence that the pattern of the Zebra's fur has randotypic parts....

The line structures of the Acanthurus lineatus ... contain a few minutiae which seem to behave different for different fishes.

While the paper focuses on skin patterns, there are other biometric methods in use in the animal kingdom. Facial recognition is actually quite common[14]. Facial recognition is being used for salmon, cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, lions, tigers, birds, elephants, lemurs, whales, cats, ...and dogs[15].

PiP was developed from scratch by 15-year facial recognition technology veteran Daesik Jang, and Rooyakkers claims it’s actually more sophisticated than systems used for humans. “Humans have very standard faces,” he says. “For the most part, we know where the eyes, nose, and mouth should be. With pets, you have a huge variation–anything from the shape of nose to the overall shape of the skull.”

That makes the basic task more difficult, but PiP makes an effort. Using algorithms to classify characteristics and look for patterns, it weights each animal on a scale, and keeps learning as new pets are added by users. Rooyakkers claims a 98% identification accuracy rate during trials.

As anyone who is involved in facial recognition knows, 98% accuracy is not exactly a ringing endorsement.[16] But it's not bad.

However, I have not yet gotten to the meat (sorry vegans) of this paper - specifically, how can canine access be granted using gluten-free blockchain? After all, any solution that does not use gluten-free blockchain[17][18] is by definition oppressive and fascist. The following two references will not answer this important question, but they add a couple of additional references to my paper that should help me achieve my objective - more research funding.

In December 2017, Hacker Noon published a post[19] entitled "Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain." But that obviously is fake news, so the very next month Hacker Noon published another post[20] entitled "10+ Uses for Blockchain that will Change the World."

And there you have it. I have successfully written a post with the title "Canine Biometric Access to Secure Cloud Infrastructures (Using Gluten-Free Blockchain)."

I never claimed that the post had to make sense.

Or that GSX 2019 would actually accept this[21] as a presentation[6].

[1] Empoprises, 1 Empire Way Suite 2525, Guasti, CA 91743.
[2] Graduate of California State University, Fullerton, California. Not that they care about this.
[16] The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology is adversely impacted by the current U.S. federal government shutdown. Or something else is going on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Presidents and the fast food industry

As I write this, portions of the federal government are shut down, our country is engaged in various tariff wars, and...we're talking about fast food.

This scene shows U.S. President Donald Trump serving Clemson football players a variety of fast foods during the team's White House visit.

As if that's unusual in any way.

Actually, there is a long history of Presidents and fast food - as long as the existence of fast foods itself. Senator Lyndon Johnson had a hamburger for lunch every day. Bush 43 ate cheeseburger pizzas.

But there are two Presidents who had a special relation to fast food.

You've probably already thought of Bill Clinton, whose own love of burgers was so well-known that Saturday Night Live incorporated it into a sketch.

But President Clinton's love of fast food would have Constitutional implications, when - during a government shutdown - the President asked one of his interns to get him some pizza.

After a few minutes, in Ms. Lewinsky's recollection, she told [the President] that she needed to get back to her desk. The President suggested that she bring him some slices of pizza. A few minutes later, she returned to the Oval Office area with pizza. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she and the President had a sexual encounter during this visit. They kissed, and the President touched Ms. Lewinsky's bare breasts with his hands and mouth. At some point, Betty Currie (Clinton's secretary) approached the door leading to the hallway, which was ajar, and said that the President had a telephone call. Ms. Lewinsky recalled that the caller was a Member of Congress with a nickname.While the President was on the telephone, according to Ms. Lewinsky, "he unzipped his pants and exposed himself," and she performed oral sex. Again, he stopped her before he ejaculated.

By Clinton White House -, Public Domain, Link

But Clinton's pizza-fueled encounter with Monica Lewinsky was not the only Presidential, flirtation with Constitutional implications. For this we have to go back into the past - so far back, as a matter of fact, that the McDonald brothers still owned McDonald's, and Ray Kroc was merely working for them. Yep, we're going back to another President that golfed a lot:

It was a crisp Saturday afternoon in September 1955. The U.S. economy was booming, there were no major crises in the world and the president of the United States, enjoying an approval rating of 79 percent, was on vacation. Then, on the eighth hole of the Cherry Hills Country Club golf course, just outside Denver, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 64, started complaining of indigestion, which he attributed to the hamburger with Bermuda onions he had wolfed down between his morning and afternoon games.

Those pesky burgers. But the focus on indigestion was a near-fatal mistake.

That night, after experiencing indigestion, Eisenhower awoke to chest pains around 2 a.m. His personal physician, Maj. Gen. Howard Snyder, was called to the scene and administered an injection of morphine. Amazingly, it would be almost 12 hours before the president was taken to the hospital. At 8 o’clock the following morning, the White House announced that Eisenhower had suffered “digestive upset” in the night; four hours later, it was again claimed that the president’s “indigestion” was not serious.

But as Eisenhower’s chest pains persisted into the afternoon, an electrocardiograph was brought in and recorded an acute myocardial infarction, and at around 2 p.m. the president was finally rushed to the hospital. From his research into the delay, Lasby concludes that “Snyder mistook a coronary thrombosis for a gastrointestinal problem, waited for 10 hours before he recognized his mistake and called for help, and conducted an unremitting cover-up of his error for the rest of his life.”

But all worked out well in the end. Vice President Nixon (in those days before the 25th Amendment) helped to keep things running until Ike came back, and as he prepared to run for Governor of California in 1962, Nixon released a book called Six Crises. If it hadn't been for the heart attack, I guess it would have been Five Crises.

Despite the botched diagnosis, President Eisenhower never turned to Major General Snyder and said, "You're fired." Snyder continued to serve as Eisenhower's physician until 1961. And he presumably didn't assume that hamburgers were always evil.

Friday, January 11, 2019

IFTTT test

If this works, a link to this Empoprise-BI post on Blogger will also appear on my Empoprises Twitter account, my Empoprise-BI Facebook page, and my Empoprises Tumblr account.

If this doesn't work, then perhaps the world will explode. My apologies if that happens.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Worry about the government - how the government affects the economy, the #TSA edition

If we've learned nothing else from the current U.S. government shutdown - and we probably haven't - we've learned that government spending, or a lack thereof, clearly affects the economy.

First, the macro view. Trading Economics has published information on government spending vs. gross domestic product (GDP) from 1970 to 2016.

Government spending in the United States was last recorded at 37.7 percent of GDP in 2016 . Government Spending To GDP in the United States averaged 36.63 percent from 1970 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 42.90 percent in 2009 and a record low of 33.10 percent in 1973.

The chart above illustrates periods when the percentage increased sharply - for example, right after Reagan took office (evil empire and all that), Desert Shield/Desert Storm, post 9/11, and (most notably) the bailouts during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

But over the last couple of weeks, the absence of government spending shows just how much our economy depends upon it.

I'll confine myself to a single example. A couple of months ago, none of us were giving much thought to the health of employees of the Transportation Security Administration. If we did, we probably assumed that they were about as healthy as the rest of us.

Well, that's changed in the last few days, as some number of TSA workers have reportedly fallen sick. Did some foreign traveler bring a bug into the United States that rapidly spread through TSA workers at all airports? Actually, the cause of this illness is reputed to be financial. TSA workers, who have to work but are not currently being paid to do so, are looking for income in other ways:

Some employees have tried driving on the side for Uber or Lyft on top of their TSA work schedule....Additionally, some employees have been reportedly calling in sick to find other gigs where they can make cash to better take care of these bills.

Wow, TSA employees working in ridesharing. Wonder if they make their customers remove everything from their pockets before getting in the car.

But reportedly the gig economy isn't helping enough, because some TSA employees, giving up hope of getting a paycheck this week, are quitting. The prospect of no pay raises isn't exactly encouraging people to stay.

And no, this didn't start when Trump was inaugurated. The TSA has had problems keeping employees for years.

The statistics paint a clear picture: TSA Officer attrition more than doubled between 2010 and 2014. In 2010, 373 people joined the agency while 4,644 left – an all-time high for the already resource-strapped agency. Last year wasn’t much better, with barely any improvement in employees retained. TSA is now 6,000 officers below its 2011 peak, and there are no signs of the losses slowing down.

It’s no mystery why TSA cannot hold onto the employees it already has. Many Transportation Security Officers earn less than $15 an hour. They are subject either to constant forced overtime or else denied full-time schedules when they want them. Worst of all, they lack most of the basic rights granted to all other federal employees. These burdens are borne while they’re asked to work in a fast-paced, stressful environment where the cost of failure could be life or death. New hires in recent years have been limited overwhelmingly to part-time schedules, and almost all of these workers leave at the prospect of full-time work elsewhere. With all of these disadvantages, it’s no wonder TSA Officers can’t leave the agency fast enough.

And that was written in 2016, back when TSA workers WERE getting paychecks. It seems likely that this week's paycheck will be missed - and then all Christian Bale will break loose.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

About that "creating" part

As I was getting ready to reshare - I mean curate - my previous post, I happened to glance at the widgets on the leftmost column of this very blog - specifically, the widget that allows you the reader to access the previous posts on this blog.

Uh, I think there's a trend here.

Looks like I have to up the "creating" part in 2019.

Just as a point of reference, for me to equal my 2009 output, I would need to create about two posts a day.

OK, that fails "SMART" goals, since it's not achievable these days. (Although I could potentially get a bonus if I did achieve it.)

But hey, I just increased my 2019 post count by one.

Consuming, curating, and creating (or, I see what @garrytan @krynsky and @empoprises did there)

So there are three posts out there, all with the same theme. Let's start with Garry Tan's post from January 2:

My one professional resolution for the year is to actually write more. The written word is the one way we can leave something behind - it’s a signpost for others, in distilled form.

We'll get to that "distilled" part later, which involves the words edited, reduced, and great.

Tan mentions two things that are keeping him from writing more - vulnerability, and (lack of) novelty. These particular writer's blocks are not universal - some people have no problem stating unpleasant truths, and some people don't worry about saying something that may have already been said. (And yes, I'm pointing at myself, even though I know it's rude to point.) But these possible barriers may need to be addressed by writers, along with others.

Which brings us to Mark Krynsky and his post of January 3, appearing both at and on Medium. Krynsky mentions another possible block.

Perfectionism is something that often stops me cold. I’ll review and edit my posts ad nauseum (I even had to Google this to make sure I used it correctly as WordPress flagged it as wrong. God help me.)

I’ll often do lots of research with links and quote pulls from posts and images and embedded videos…and, and, and. In other words I do lots of things that detract from the words and take me forever to complete a post.

Remember those words distilled, edited, reduced, and great? Obviously you need to perform these activities at some level - Krynsky isn't advocating that we just start typing and hit publish after a text explosion - but the key is to strike a balance. For certain topics, timeliness is also important.

Krynsky touched upon other topics in his post, including one reason why there's a move toward self-publishing in the first place. Hint: many people started "blogging" back when Blogger and Wordpress were new, and Facebook was non-existent.

    (From here - fair use - and I won't throw stones, because it looked better than my site at the time)

One of those people was Jason Koebler. He writes about his first steps in self-publishing, from "Jason's Site" (very 2002, yet also very forward-looking) to Xanga to LiveJournal to MySpace. And then, a few weeks before high school graduation, Koebler received his university email account, which meant one thing - HE COULD SET UP A FACEBOOK PROFILE. (Some of you will recall that Facebook was initially limited to universities.)

But what was the difference between Facebook and all of those other platforms - other than the fact that Facebook solved the monetization issue? The other difference was that it was so EASY to post to Facebook - and, as a consequence, to NOT post to MySpace or LiveJournal or Xanga or your version of "Jason's Site."

But if it's easy to post on Facebook, it's even easier to reshare on Facebook (or on other services - remember FriendFeed?). Resharing even has a newfangled word - curation. And hey, everybody's doing it.

But we all know something that's even easier than resharing/curating. And that, of course, is consuming. Sit back, relax, and let the feed entertain you.

And if you let Facebook's defaults determine how you will be entertained, you'll see things like this.

Now you may see different things, if you're not interested in Amazon and Walmart like I am. That's because Facebook solved the monetization issue by taking money from advertisers and serving up ads to make you click, and non-ad content to make you consume, all based upon algorithms and data mining.

Jason's Site was never like this.

But at least on Jason's Site, you were 100% guaranteed to see Jason's content. On Facebook, the algorithms may bury some of the feeds that interest you. For example, I can't remember when I last saw Mark Krynsky's content in my Facebook feed.

Perhaps that's why Jason Koebler is musing about the GOOD features of Jason's Site, and three people have intentionally written posts about writing more. Garry Tan, Mark Krynsky - and one other person.

(That person needs to update some of his online bios, though - he works for IDEMIA today, not MorphoTrak.)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Before Blogger is sunsetted, I'd better write this post on Google's customers

I've talked about Google's customers several times in the past, and about Google's need to keep its customers happy.

Google's customers are heavily influenced by the data that Google can provide to them. But lately, there has been less data.

What do Google Search Appliance, Google News & Weather, Reply, Tez, Google Goggles, Save to Google Chrome Extension, Encrypted Search, qpx-express-API, and Google Site Search have in common? All of these were services that Google killed (or will kill) in 2018 alone. The complete list of services that Google has or will kill include several services that I have used, including Google+, Google URL Shortener, Google Now, Picasa, Google Flu Trends, iGoogle, Google Reader, Google SMS, AdSense for Feeds, and Google Buzz. And, of course, a bunch of other services that I haven't used.

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

So as the data dries up, Google's customers are looking to places other than Google. And it's not just anecdotal:

In some cases, specific consumer-packaged brands have reportedly shifted half of their search ad budget from Google to Amazon.

Now, to be fair, Lauren Weinstein has noted that Google can't rely on its current customers forever, and is therefore looking for new sources of revenue.

Google knows that as time goes on their traditional advertising revenue model will become decreasingly effective. This is obviously one reason why they’ve been pivoting toward paid service models aimed at businesses and other organizations.

However, with Google's track record of sunsetting services, will corporate customers want to make the investment to switch to some Google service that may not be around a year or two from now?

Friday, December 7, 2018

The gig is up - GrungeBeanie meets FeldGrau Burger

Dave Riley was sitting at his cubicle late one morning, and he was getting hungry.

By Asa Wilson - CubeSpace, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Dave was the Chief Enterprise Independent Experiential Innovation Officer at GrungeBeanie. Not to be confused with the clothing style, GrungeBeanie was a Generation BB paradigm-shifting firm using actionable analytics and post-blockchain-based seventh-generation hyper-reality to revolutionize the gig transit market.

Unlike the stodgy Ubers and Lyfts of the world, GrungeBeanie was revolutionizing the transportation ecosystem - or would be doing so, once its beta app was approved by the various app stores.

Well, once the app had actually been coded.

And once the coders had been contracted.

Well, once the first sprint of the overall requirements had been finalized.

But things would be happening Real Soon Now.

Despite having a half billion dollars in venture capital funding, GrungeBeanie only had three full-time employees, although GrungeBeanie's presence would change dramatically once the app was out and people were selected to work with GrungeBeanie.

But all of that paradigm-shifting can work up an appetite, so despite the heavy workload, Dave decided to step outside GrungeBeanie's coworking space and go to the FeldGrau Burger franchise across the street for a quick bite.

Dave stepped into FeldGrau and was immediately greeted by a robot that buzzed up to him.

By Photo by Gnsin - Gnsin, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

"Are you registered?" the robot asked.

"What?" Dave replied.

The robot immediately went stationary and said, "Please wait for a human."

Seeing no human, Dave wandered around the restaurant and finally found a woman in a uniform sitting at a table. Her badge read "Emily, Independent Experience Consultant."

"Where can I order lunch?" Dave asked.

Emily barely looked at Dave. "What do you want?"

"Just a simple burger," Dave replied.

By Super Rabbit One from UK - MmmmmmmmmUploaded by , CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Emily sat there for a moment. "Oh," she said, and then said nothing else.

After a few moments of silence, Dave finally spoke up. "Well?"

Emily looked up. "You don't want a full meal?"

"No, just a burger."

Emily said and did nothing.

Dave was getting impatient. "You do work here, don't you?"

Emily pointed to her Independent Experience Consultant badge. "Duh!"

Dave had finally had it. "Listen, I have a business of my own - I'm the CEIEIO there - and the way that business works is that a customer asks for a product or service, and the business provides it. I have half a mind to contact FeldGrau and let them know that Emily does absolutely nothing!"

Emily did not seem frightened in the least. "I don't work for FeldGrau."

Dave rolled his eyes. "OK, the FRANCHISE, then. I'll contact them, and I can assure you that you won't be an employee of the franchise any more."

Emily started laughing. "I'm not an employee of the franchise. Surely you know that, if you're a CEIEIO. I'm an independent contractor, and my compensation is maximized when people order actual MEALS, not just burgers. I don't have time to bother with burger orderers. Now there's a new contractor who's desperate, and when she shows up later today - if she shows - maybe she'll sell you-"

Emily's watch rang.

By Orangeboxes2 - Own work, CC0, Link

"I have to take this call. It's my parole officer." After a moment, Emily started speaking. "Yes, you got my geolocation right. Yup, I'm gigging at a burger place." After hearing excited comments on the other end of the phone, Emily continued. "No, the owner didn't really care about my embezzlement convictions. We don't interact with the payments anyways. And we don't take cash or plastic, so I couldn't rip off this place if I wanted to. And I don't want to get my third strike."

Dave couldn't help himself. "You're a two-time felon and you're working here? How did they hire you? Didn't they do an employment check?"

Emily walked away from Dave, throwing her "Independent Experience Consultant" badge in the trash as she continued to talk on her watch. "Hey, do you know anyone in computer security who's looking for people?"

Dave watched in silence as the robot followed Emily out the door.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The difference between "with" and "for," and why it matters for Uber, Google, and other workers

Precision in written communications is crucial, but sometimes we gloss over the ramifications of the precision.

Case in point - in almost all cases, drivers never work FOR a company such as Uber.

So what's the difference between "with" and "for"? If you work for someone, then you are an employee of the company, and the company is obligated to follow laws regarding employees - minimum wage, health benefits, and the like.

But that magical word "with" makes all the difference:

Uber considers drivers to be independent contractors. Two recent class-action suits challenging this have since been settled, and Uber won both.

But hey, that doesn't affect some of the older tech companies, does it? Google certainly has a whole bunch of employees.


Google has been increasingly hiring TVCs rather than full-time employees for all types of roles, resulting in a majority TVC workforce. We do essential work, from marketing, to running engineering teams, to feeding you and the rest of the Google staff — all without fair benefits or recognition.

In the quote above, "TVC" stands for "temporary, vendor, and contract" - the second class of people who work for/with Google. Examples:

Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives. When the tragic shooting occurred at YouTube in April of this year, the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire. TVCs were then excluded from a town hall discussion the following day. And when 20,000 full-time and TVC Google employees walked out to demand equal treatment for all workers, TVCs were again excluded from the company-wide discussion held a week later....

Even when we’re doing the same work as full-time employees, these jobs routinely fail to provide living wages and often offer minimal benefits. This affects not only us, but also our families and communities.

So earlier today, the "Google Walkout for Real Change" posted a piece on Medium entitled "Invisible no longer: Google’s shadow workforce speaks up." Their point is that Google workers are Google workers, regardless of employment status, and they should get equal pay and equal access to information.

This is not unique to Google, or to Silicon Valley, or to tech in general. A lot of companies are using contract workers rather than employees. And it's not always a bad deal for the contract workers, either:

For just as there are many who are used by the system, there are just as many who are using it to their advantage. There are a growing number of workers who remain independent because they choose to. For the most in-demand skills, such as data scientists, there can even be bidding wars. Contract workers in these in-demand areas can take their pick of projects, command high rates and then take time off or move on to another project.

"There are six-month CFOs or two-year CEOs who do what they need to do. Then the person goes on and starts new projects," said Chris Dwyer, vice president of research at Ardent Partners, a research and consulting firm.

Ten years ago contractors were often used to fill in for employees on leave. Now it's more likely that companies are hiring temporary workers in very sought-after fields, such as certain "hot" computer-programming languages or data scientists to develop artificial intelligence or machine-learning programs because they have no other choice. "That means for companies to gain access to them, they have to use contractors," said Brian Hoffmeyer, senior vice president at Beeline, a tech company that helps companies manage their contingent workforce.

But knowing that some contractors are doing well is of little comfort to those who are not - especially when they are excluded from the processes at the company "with" which they work.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Unintended consequences - automobile insurance for nonbinary people (and binary people)

This is a prime example of how changes in one system can affect other systems.

Ever since driver's licenses were first created, there was an underlying assumption that the holder of the driver's license was either male or female. Because state driver's licenses are the de facto national ID in the United States (or will be once REAL ID is implemented everywhere), the licenses not only verify your ability to operate a motor vehicle, but are used for a whole slew of other purposes, including determinations of rates for automobile insurance. Since California requires that all drivers have insurance, this is a very big deal.

Enter California's Gender Recognition Act (some other states have similar acts).

The Gender Recognition Act simplifies the process for transgender, nonbinary and intersex Californians to obtain a gender or conforming name change on state-issued identity documents. The Name and Gender Act provides incarcerated individuals the ability to change their gender or name in a California court under existing court processes....

Under the simplified processes created by the new laws, individuals may change their gender markers to nonbinary, in addition to male or female, on state-issued identity documents by petitioning a gender and/or conforming name change through a judicial process or revising their birth records. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, individuals may change their gender markers on their state driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Now this act has all sorts of ramifications at the state, federal, and international level, but I'm going to concentrate on just one of them - the effect on the automobile insurance industry.

In California, it is legal for automobile insurance companies to base your insurance rate on your sex. So, a male might pay a particular insurance premium based upon relevant data derived from historical records, and a female may pay a different insurance premium based upon other relevant data derived from historical records.

Starting on January 1, the appearance on the nonbinary gender will affect this:

The CDI’s public notice indicates that The Gender Recognition Act which permits California driver license applicants to select “nonbinary” to appear on their driver license instead of “male” or “female” beginning on January 1, 2019, has brought forward the problems with using gender as an optional rating factor since there is no historical experience upon which to establish an actuarially justified nonbinary rate. Given the small population size of nonbinary drivers, it is likely that there will never be sufficiently credible data upon which to base such a rate.

So, what's the proposed solution to this problem? Get rid of insurance rates by sex.

Eliminating gender as a rating factor ensures that nonbinary individuals are treated fairly under Proposition 103’s mandate to avoid unfairly discriminatory rates.

However, this is only in the public hearing stage, with a hearing scheduled for December 3. And it is quite possible that those whose insurance rates will go up because of the change will object to the proposal.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Bezos is right; every company will fail; why is this news?

So Amazon had an all-hands meeting in Seattle over a week ago, and while my professional interests were concentrated on Amazon's answers to one particular question, there's another answer to a question that has gotten a lot of press.

At an all-hands meeting last Thursday in Seattle, an employee asked Bezos about Amazon's future. Specifically, the questioner wanted to know what lessons Bezos has learned from the recent bankruptcies of Sears and other big retailers.

"Amazon is not too big to fail," Bezos said, in a recording of the meeting that CNBC has heard. "In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years."

The key to prolonging that demise, Bezos continued, is for the company to "obsess over customers" and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself.

"If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of focusing on our customers, that will be the beginning of the end," he said. "We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible."

And now everyone is reporting this like if it's news or something.

It's not.

Sure, it's easy to name companies that have been around for hundreds of years. But most companies haven't.

And in tech, even Bezos' 30 year timeline is somewhat generous. Go back 30 years - incidentally before Amazon, Google, or even Yahoo existed - and look at the Fortune 500. Here are a few of the tech and tech-ish names on that 1988 list.

8 AT&T
25 Eastman Kodak
38 Digital Equipment
61 TRW
62 Motorola
79 Martin Marietta
127 Grumman
208 Polaroid
272 Norton
282 Compaq Computer
318 Tandem Computers
463 Sun Microsystems
483 Atari

I should note that the historical Fortune 500 list is difficult to read because it sometimes uses the companies' current names, rather than the names they were using at the time. (For example, both ExxonMobil and Mobil appear on the list.)

And yes, I intentionally included both AT&T and Motorola on this list. The 1988 AT&T was acquired by a Baby Bell that subsequently renamed itself AT&T, and the 1988 Motorola split in two, with one half going through several subsequent owners.

But these were big companies in 1988. My current employer was around at the time (itself under a different corporate ownership), and it was busily putting systems on Digital Equipment Corporation computers. (A decade later, by the time I joined, we were using more Compaq computers, and we had just bought a company using the Tandem platform.) There were proud workers at Martin Marietta and Grumman, taking on competitors such as Lockheed and Northrop. Come to think of it, the 1988 De La Rue Printrak was taking on North American Morpho Systems, Identix, Digital Biometrics, and other firms. We're all one happy family today, as part of IDEMIA.

(I can't show it to you, but several years ago I created a chart that traced the formation of the company that eventually became MorphoTrust. My chart documented the lawsuit between Identix and Digital Biometrics, and listed an investor's opinions on the merits and demerits of three separate finger and face biometrics companies. All of them became part of MorphoTrust, which de facto merged with MorphoTrak when Oberthur bought Safran Morpho to create IDEMIA. And that, my friends, is why one of my new favorite acronyms is "MVA.")

But enough about the 1988 view of biometrics, or of photography (you only had 36 shots; use them wisely!).

My list of tech companies that are no more may be anecdotal, but the American Enterprise Institute assembled statistical evidence of the transitory nature of companies.

Comparing the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 to the Fortune 500 in 2014, there are only 61 companies that appear in both lists. In other words, only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still on the list 59 years later in 2014, and almost 88% of the companies from 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged, or still exist but have fallen from the top Fortune 500 companies (ranked by total revenues). Most of the companies on the list in 1955 are unrecognizable, forgotten companies today (e.g. Armstrong Rubber, Cone Mills, Hines Lumber, Pacific Vegetable Oil, and Riegel Textile).

Back in the day, no one could picture a time when Montgomery Ward, Kodak, Polaroid, or Sears would hit financial hard times. And even a few years ago, General Electric was a model corporation.

And those with long memories will realize that there were times when (then-named) Apple Computer's continued existence was in doubt.

So Bezos is right. Someone's going to come along at some point and make Amazon look like a stodgy has-been that hasn't done enough to cut costs.

It's only a matter of time.

Friday, November 16, 2018

This is a test.

IDEMIA Empoprise-BI

When cost-cutting goes awry - no coffee for the NRA

In the United States, the major goal of public companies, most private companies, and even private non-profits is to maximize short-term earnings. And the best way to maximize short-term earnings is to cut costs. The theory is that cutting costs by "capping" expenses and "right-sizing" employee counts may cause temporary pain, but won't hurt the organization in any big way and will lead to a healthier organization in the future.

Well, except when the cost-cutting blows up in your face and scalds you.

By Consumer Reports, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Take the National Rifle Association. Ignore the political stance of the organization for the moment, and just look at the NRA as just another non-profit that has encountered a decline in revenue.

(OK, allow me one political aside; the reason that the NRA is getting less revenue is because its supporters are in power. When NRA opponents were in power, the NRA could conduct effective fundraising to get donors to counter the Obama threat. It's harder to scare people into donations when the White House and Congress are friendly to your cause. Similarly, abortion rights groups are presumably seeing an uptick in donations now that pro-lifers are in power.)

So, when you encounter a decline in revenue, you cut costs.

And everyone's talking about the NRA's latest cost cutting move.

The National Rifle Association is doing away with free coffee and water coolers for employees at its Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters — a cost-cutting move that has NRA insiders “freaking out"....

“The whole building was freaking out,” said one former employee who remains in contact with current staffers. Three other sources familiar with the gun group’s operations confirmed the story to The Trace.

So what will happen to the NRA because of this negative publicity? One of two things.

Perhaps this will energize NRA supporters to substantially increase their donations to ensure that the NRA's positions are communicated to politicians and the public, and to ensure that NRA employees don't end up sleeping on the job.

Alternatively, this may de-energize NRA supporters. "If the organization's failing anyway," they might reason, "why should I throw in more money to an organization that might go the way of Sears?"

Now some cost-cutting can be good. If you recall, the Wounded Warrior Project was publicly criticized for lavish over-spending by its former executives. While there was a drop in funding after the exposure, the whole episode was necessary to ensure the long term success of the organization.

But even the biggest anti-gun advocate isn't going to argue that coffee and water are wasteful expenses.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Empoprise-BI 2018 tip for those getting faulty "remove probe" messages on ovens

Because it's Thanksgiving, it's time for the Empoprise-BI business blog to provide its public service, yet again.

By Photo by M. Rehemtulla -, CC BY 2.0, Link

This question was posted regarding a Whirlpool Electric Control Board:

The display screen for the oven will not work. It beeps when you touch any function. You can not set a temperature or any of the oven functions. The clock works but the rest of the screen reads enter probe temp or remove probe. We do not have the probe plugged in. ?????

Hey, that sounds like a serious control board problem, and the person who answered the question treated it as such.

Joe, In most cases this issue will be caused by a faulty control board. In some instances it is the harness to the jack causing the problem but will most likely be the control that needs replaced.

But before you replace that faulty control board, consider this similar question that I wrote about in 2016.

Dacor Oven model ECS2275 PRB - probe is flashing and beeping. I was wiping down the oven with a damp (not wet) sponge and PRB started flashing and beeping on the display. How do I turn this off?

The respondent didn't talk about replacing any control boards.

Power the unit off and take and airduster can and blow out the probe port really good and then power the oven back on it should clear.

Blow out the probe port? C'mon, that's silly. How could something like that fix a serious sounding error message?

Well, in some cases (2013), it's not moisture, but...past moisture.

The jacks will tend to corrode and create resistance between terminals after many years causing just the symptoms you are seeing. The correct way to solve the problem would be to replace the probe jack part#8186589 , or you can try and unplug the jack from the harness.

Similar advice was given in 2012:

Our oven had problems right out of the box. The temperature probe messed up the entire cooking selections. Every setting wanted the probe inserted, so we had the repairman fix the probe connection.

And I can go on and on - 2011, earlier in 2011, 2010, and by now you may be wondering how the Empoprise-BI business blog got to be the expert on remove probe messages on ovens.

Well, it wasn't easy. I ran into the same problem myself in 2009.

On Friday morning, something started beeping in the kitchen. Since there are several items in the kitchen with beep capability, it took me a while to isolate the beep. It turned out that our KitchenAid oven was telling us to either enter a temperature, or remove the temperature probe.

Unfortunately, we had not inserted a temperature probe into our oven.

Using my well-honed customer support skills, I proceeded to press every "stop" or "off" button on the oven control panel. This only caused it to beep more. Reluctantly, I realized that I would have to reboot the oven...but since the oven plug was inaccessible, I would have to reboot the house (via the fuse box).

But before I did this, I figured I'd look at the KitchenAid manual to see what help it offered for this situation. It offered none.

As I was waiting for the dishwasher to finish so that I could reboot the house, the problem cleared itself up.

Then I started reading a thread.

We had the repairman out...of course, our oven started working before he made it out. But he said the probe hole can get moisture in it and cause the oven to not work until it evaporates. Which sorta explains why several of us had it start working again. It looks like several people also had it happen Christmas, probably with lots of stuff in the oven for a long time, creating lots of moisture.

In that same thread.

I took my blow dryer and blew air toward the probe for a few minutes then tried the oven again. It turned on but the icon on the front changed to 'push probe in'. I did then re-pushed the start button to 450 and it worked!

So there you have it. Your problem may just be moisture.

See you in 2019 (if Blogger still exists next year).