Antisocial software – calendars

Did some conversational noodling about why group calendar software is so bad. The trouble is, it doesn’t support the social processes that people use to schedule events.
First of all, the negotiation required to schedule a meeting. Today, this is done with the brute force method of giving the meeting-ee access to your whole calendar. All free time looks equivalently free. And, exposing one’s whole calendar is “too much information” unless one manages nuances of calendar entry types. It would be nicer to be able to do an automated version of the “pick the best option” drill — you publish some candidate times and the meeting-ee chooses from among them.
Second and worse, the affordances needed to quasi-schedule and unschedule a meeting. How do you set up a request for a casual lunch sometime that a few busy people happen to be free? How do you politely defer a meeting? Scheduling software is a clumsy, second-best replacement for the refined and obsolete skills of personal secretary or traditional wife.

Commuter bike

So, in my first full day in California, I returned the rental car and got a rental commuter bike. My house is 2 flat miles from work on a lightly-trafficked bike route. Cycling is the sanest form of commuting when it isn’t pouring rain.
Palo Alto has a passive-aggressive downtown street parking system. You can park for 2-3 hours at a time with no charge in a several-block zone marked with colored signs. Then, you need to move your car to avoid a $25 fine. So a workday in downtown Palo Alto involves getting up and moving your car every few hours.
They don’t make it impossible to park by making sure there are fewer parking spots than people who want to park, like they do in Cambridge. They don’t have pirhana towing, like they do in the Boston area, where predatory towtrucks circle timed parking areas and abduct your car to a distant lot where it must be ransomed for an exhorbitant fine. They just make it really annoying.
So far the transportation scheme is working. I’ve done the hour-long drive to San Francisco and Berkeley twice for fun things, and otherwise had a short and healthy daily commute.