[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: 27 August 2014
Updates sometime around the weekend
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
Kale Soup
27 August 2014
[Soup]

I like kale, you know. It's robust, has a nice flavour, and looks pretty - all the traits one looks for in a leafy green. Furthermore, you can steam it, sauté it, bake it to make chip-like-objects, cut it up and put it in a stir-fry or in soups, or you can even make it the centerpiece of a soup.

It is a pretty sturdy green, as greens go, so if you want a smooth, creamy soup, it will take a little time to cook it to the proper level of mushiness. It's worth doing every now and then, though, since you get a different experience than you do with larger chunks.

To liven this up a bit, I decided to top it with a poached egg and roasted beets, which makes it a complete meal in one bowl. This does produce a dish which is a bit mono-texture, so croutons or the like might be a good idea, just to add a little crunch. I'm planning on using croutons instead of beets when it comes around again as leftovers tonight. [Lots of pictures]

Kale Soup

  • 3-4 large beets
  • an onion
  • one egg per serving
  • 250 ml/1 cup cream (double, heavy, pouring, what have you)
  • a lot of kale; I had nearly 1 kg, and used all of it except for the center stalk
  • splash of oil
  • salt and lots of pepper
First, roast the beets in your preferred manner to your preferred level of doneness. I cut mine into 1/4" or 1/2" slices, tossed with a bit of olive oil and put them in a hot oven, nearly as hot as it would go, until they got some colour on them. This can be done in advance.

Put a large pot on the stove and add a small splash of oil. Turn on the heat and while it's getting hot, dice an onion. Add the onion to the pot and turn your attention to the kale. Wash it and trim the stems. Cut the stems smallish and add them to the pot with the onions. Then cut the leaves. A rough cut is fine, since there will be additional processing later. Add the leaves to the pot, add a couple of cups of water, a decent amount of salt, and quite a lot of pepper - there's a lot of kale in there. Reduce the heat and let the greens cook down, checking on them now and again to make sure the liquid hasn't boiled away. This will take up to a couple of hours, but when it's done, the greens will have reduced down to about 50% of their original volume, and will be pretty soft.

Prepare the kitchen spattering device, known in some circles as a stick or immersion blender, and liberally spatter the kitchen. Alternatively, you might run the soup through a blender or food processor.

Now, as you approach serving time, dice your beets. Get ready to poach the eggs. I heated some water with just a splash of vinegar in it. When it was simmering, I stirred it to make a bit of a whirlpool and then cracked my egg into that. When the egg goes in, add the cream to the soup, and mix well; you don't need it to cook anymore, just heat thoroughly.

Ladle the soup into a bowl, top with a poached egg, sprinkle with beets, and, if you like, a bit of sea salt. Serve.

To mix things up a bit, you could use croutons instead of or in addition to beets. You could also use eggs cooked in other manners on top, or neglect them entirely. Crispy bacon might be a good topper as well, adding both flavour and crunch.


© 2014 Jeff Berry


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