[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
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.

Zeitgeist: 27 September 2013
Updates erratically
Recipes: 3 October 2014
Updates sometime around some weekends
Mobile Computing - An Extended Metaphor
27 September 2013
[Smashy, again]

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
Cold Noodles, Asian Style
3 October 2014
[Cold Noodle Salad]

I suspect that many of us of the cookish persuasion have similar habits in grocery stores. Come on now, be honest, how many of you have found some unfamiliar ingredient tucked away on a shelf somewhere and bought it thinking, "I have no idea what this is or what to do without, but it looks interesting and I'll figure it out later." Or maybe that's just me. In any case, I was meandering through the local Asian market looking for noodles, when I found a package of fern root noodles. They were black, thin, and interesting looking, so naturally I bought them.

Now, noodles are noodles, at least to a first approximation, so I wasn't too worried about finding something to do with them. In fact, they went into a quick noodle soup within a day or two, and were perfectly adequate.

It was a conversation with our pseudodaughter Bruce (long story) that sent me haring off after cold noodle recipes. Admittedly, I didn't require much prompting. She said something like, "What about cold noodles?" to which I replied, "That's a good idea!" Then I began to rummage through my cupboard ...

[Lots of pictures]

Cold Noodles, Asian Style

  • 1/4 or 1/3 of a green cabbage
  • a cup or two of butterbeans
  • a carrot
  • a couple of scallions
  • a good handful of fern root noodles
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 Tbs miso paste
  • 1 Tbs chili oil
Shred the cabbage, or cut it small, as suits your fancy. Blanch it and let it cool. For 'blanch' in this context, I simply put it in water, brought it to a boil, and then removed it. You want the cabbage to still have some crunch to it, so don't overcook it.

If you're using dried butterbeans, soak and cook them. If using canned, drain them. Grate the carrot. Cut the scallions into small pieces.

Cook the noodles, and, honestly, you don't have to use the fern noodles, but it makes the colors work out nicely. Drain them and let them cool.

Make the dressing by mixing the soy sauce, malt vinegar, miso paste, and chili oil. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and serve room temperature or chilled.

This recipe, of course, admits of many variations. Use different beans or noodles. Make a dressing with tahini, as I did on a subsequent occasion. The things to aim for, I think, are a nice mix of colors and textures.

© 2014 Jeff Berry

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