I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook or Livejournal. (Although he did succumb to the lure of Google+.) He hates cell-phones.
27 September 2013
22 November 2013
Updates on Fridays
27 September 2013
The problem with the phrase, "The future of computing is mobile," isn't "mobile," it's "computing."
You see, most people don't want a computer. What they want is a web-browser, an email client, a GPS, maybe a few games, a camera, and really, that's about it. (Oh, and maybe a phone.) In a general sense, they don't want to do computing. And there's nothing wrong with that, and I don't mean to imply that there is. There is nothing inherently virtuous in wanting to do computing.
The easiest way to give people the stuff that they want, however, is to take a computer, which is what a smart-phone is, and cripple it.
A computer is a multi-purpose tool. It is a Swiss pocketknife with an infinite number of attachments, even though almost everyone really just wants a knife blade or two, a bottle opener, a screwdriver, and sometimes a toothpick or pair of scissors. Vanishingly few people want that little spiky thing that's used to remove stones from horses' hooves or a flint for starting fires. Just as very few people want to actually run a web-server, or host an email list.
So, metaphorically speaking, the mobile computing companies sell you a Swiss Army Knife with all but a few of the attachments disabled - perhaps they break them off, or maybe they glue them down with a bit of not-particularly-strong glue. They know that it's cheaper to make a single model of Swiss Army Knife, glue down or break off a bunch of bits and charge you less than they would for the unbroken version. Which sounds backwards, at first glance. Until you realize that what they can then do is sell you each attachment individually.
So if I bought the knife, and decided I needed the horse hoof thingie I might be tempted to unglue it. Or if it was broken off, make my own and attach it - after all the basic structure of the knife is there and I paid for it, right?
Which brings us to jailbreaking various mobile devices. If the company has sold me a computer, why shouldn't I be able to use it as much or as little like a computer as I want? The answer, of course, is the EULA. Or rather, the answer is the revenue stream which the EULA is intended to ensure. Because in this day and age, consumables are where the money is. If you don't believe me price out printers - a few years back, we got a nice laser printer with a full load of toner ... for essentially the price of a full load of toner. That's right, the printer was more-or-less free, because they knew, as long as it kept working, I'd be buying toner. And they were always sure to remind me to use Their Genuine Brand. (The same is true of most single serving coffee-makers - the money is in the cartridges. But that's a bit off topic.)
All of which leads us, in turn, to a joke that was au courant in the late '80s in certain circles, which went like this: The Macintosh is proof that you can work on a computer all day, and still know nothing about computers. That's even more true today than it was then. These days you can spend every waking minute glued to some sort of computing device and still know nothing about computers.
Which is why there will always be technicians and engineers.
And all of that is just fine.
© 2013 Jeff Berry
22 November 2013
Consider the humble flour tortilla. It is a requirement for the burrito, the soft taco, and, of late, the 'wrap.' It is an excellent holder of stuff for the purpose of delivering it to the mouth, and if that stuff is sometimes a 'chicken Caesar salad,' then who are we to judge? Let he who is without tortilla-sin cast the first tortilla-stone! And I am far from sinless on this subject.
As far as the now-ubuiqitous 'wrap' is concerned, the ubiquity has had one remarkably useful effect. Although I sometimes have trouble finding the spices and peppers I want to make my salsa or seasonings for chorizo or other Mexican and Southwestern dishes, flour tortillas are available in every supermarket where I've looked for them, often with a house brand.
But let me return to my transgressions against the sacred purity of the flour tortilla ...
Huevos Rancheros, many claim, is served on corn tortillas. I agree, which is why my first offering today is not called Huevos Rancheros.
My second offering is even more heretical and may very well offend both tortilla purists and pizza purists. To deflect some of their righteous ire, I shall not call it a pizza, but something else. (Although not, 'Something Else,' even though I considered it.)
Put a pan over fairly low heat. Add a bit of oil, and crack your egg into it. Spoon some black beans on and around the egg, cover and let cook gently for a few minutes. Some claim that the true Huevos Strensalleros must be made with duck eggs, but any egg will do.
When the egg whites are beginning to set, replace the cover with a tortilla to heat it. When the egg is at your desired level of doneness - I like the yolk a bit runny, myself - either ease it gently on to the tortilla, or, if the geometry works, just flip it over onto the tortilla. Top with salsa and eat. Homemade salsa is encouraged, naturally, but not required, and additional hot-sauce might be desired.
Heat the oven to medium hot, 190C/275F. Take your tortilla and put on sauce and toppings. I used onion, home-made Italian sausage, mozzarella and Romano cheese. There are a few things to remember: tortillas are not structurally terribly strong, so do not overload them with toppings, this applies to sauce as well; thin layers cook faster; and put the cheese on top, regardless of your usual layering strategy - trust me on this. Then stick it into the oven for around fifteen minutes. Keep an eye on it, though, it will go from 'done' to 'a bit black' fairly quickly.
Take it out of the oven and let it rest for a minute. This is important. You see, the tortilla doesn't really absorb the sauce or anything, so there is a tendency for the toppings to slide off. By putting the cheese on top and then letting it rest for a minute so the cheese sets just a touch, this problem is ameliorated. Or, of course, you can just roll the whole thing up like a pizza burrito and eat it that way. Not that I have ever done that, you understand. Cut the tortilla into slices, quarters is usually sufficient, and eat them.
I don't really think of this as a pizza. What it is is a pizza-like object that delivers much the same flavor profile and which is significantly faster and easier to make. Sometimes, especially if you're living alone and feeling lazy, that is enough. Or if you really want a pizza and don't have time to make dough. As a bonus, you can eat one, and if you are still hungry, have another ready in fifteen minutes. Repeat as needed.
© 2013 Jeff Berry