[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: 22 December 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
Tomato Oat Cobbler
22 December 2014

My lovely wife recently clipped a recipe for me from a magazine - the AARP magazine, I believe. It was Mark Bittman writing about "Summer Cobblers," and the one that caught her eye was for a tomato cobbler. The recipe itself is pretty good, and well worth tracking down. However, I can rarely leave well enough alone, and decided to adapt, alter, adulterate, and other verbs-beginning-with-a it.

I'd been messing about with a variety of oatcake recipes (and I use recipe here in the loosest possible sense), and this seemed like yet another place to use oats. The result is good, although to be honest, I don't know if I should call it a cobbler anymore. I use oats with an egg binder to make a fairly sturdy top. You could omit the egg, of course, and the result will be crumblier - I make oatcakes with and without egg and that textural change is the main difference. I've since made it with just egg whites, since I needed egg yolks for Flathonys. That works pretty well, too. [Lots of pictures]

Tomato Oat Cobbler (or Tomato Oatcake or Tomatoats)

Per serving:

  • tomatoes, one large, a couple medium, three smallish, six cherry, or thereabouts
  • a splash of olive oil
  • an egg
  • a Tbs or so of milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oats, 1/2 cup or more
Cut the tomatoes into smallish bits. Halved cherry tomatoes are about the right size. Put them in a bowl or ramekin, add a bit of olive oil, and toss. If you'd like, you could add some herbs - basil would be lovely, if you have some to hand.

Light beat the egg with the milk and more salt and pepper than you think you'll need. Add the oats and mix until you have a stiff batter-like consistency. The amount you need will vary a bit depending on your oats, the humidity, phase of the moon, and so on. It should be at least 1/2 cup and probably more. Oats just suck the liquid right up.

Spoon the batter on top of the tomatoes and spread it around. Pop it into a medium oven, 180C/350F or so, for twenty minutes. Check it, it should be browned a bit on top. Remove from the oven and eat carefully - the tomatoes are essentially little bombs of flavored water near the boiling point. Which is a good thing.

© 2014 Jeff Berry

html on this site has been lovingly crafted by hand. You just don't get craftsmanship like this anymore, in this age of mass-produced, pre-fab websites.
Now virtually co-located on panix.com, as of 11 Jan 2011