[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: 26 January 2015
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
Best Ham Sandwich Ever
26 January 2015
[Christmas Dinner]

Ironically, it's harder to find a Christmas goose in England than one would expect. We've been having goose for either Christmas or Thanksgiving for quite a few years now, but, Dickens notwithstanding, geese are thin on the ground - metaphorically speaking. Turkey is quite common, though. However, I've not made a turkey for the winter holidays for quite a few years (we've had goose), and I wasn't interested in starting, or re-starting, now. So we debated. We hemmed. We got tired of hemming, so we hawed for a while. Then a germ of an idea occured to me, sparked by the fact that I had a freezer full of beautiful local pork. I would do a twist on ham sandwiches. When that idea came to me, the rest of the menu fell into place. We'd do a weird take on a picnic.

Now, when I say picnic, I mean something utterly unlike a picnic in almost every respect. We ate inside, at a table, with hot foods hot and cold foods cold. What we did do, was riff on the idea of picnic foods. We'd have potato salad, in this case, warm German potato salad. We thought about corn on the cob, but it's the wrong season for sweetcorn. Instead, we opted for brussels sprouts on the stalk, because you can eat them like you would eat corn on the cob, if you want. And we wanted.

The centerpiece was the ham sandwich, which, in keeping with this rather tortured concept piece, was not a sandwich and did not feature ham. Rather it featured pork, stuffed with cheese, smeared with mustard, breaded and baked. To be fair, it would work quite well with ham, I suspect. [Lots of pictures]

Best Ham Sandwich Ever

  • a large pork roast (or ham)
  • salt
  • cloves
  • black peppercorns
  • an onion
  • juniper berries
  • grated cheese
  • mustard
  • bread crumbs
Make a medium brine, and add juniper berries, cloves, and peppercorns in whatever quantity seems appropriate to you - a teaspoon to a tablespoon of each is probably in the right ballpark. Split an onion almost through and add it to the pot. Submerge your roast and simmer gently for a couple of hours; it needs to be just cooked through, since the final step in the oven is not really a cooking step as far as the meat is concerned. Remove the pork and let it cool. Save the cooking liquid for soup stock, sauce base, or other uses later on.

As an aside, whenever I'm doing this sort of cover-with-water-and-simmer process, I tend to stick the meat in the pot, cover with water to the right level, remove the meat, and then make the brine in the pot. That way you don't cause the liquid to overflow when the meat goes in, and you don't have extra cooking liquid going to waste.

When the meat has cooled, cut large, thick slices. Then split the slices open to create a pocket. Stuff the pocket with grated cheese. Tie your little packets closed with kitchen twine. Smear them all over with good mustard, then roll them in seasoned bread crumbs. You see! It is fresh ham, mustard, and cheese inside of bread, so that's a sandwich, right? Pop them into a medium-hot oven for fifteen minutes, to melt the cheese and brown the crumbs. (I put them in for the last fifteen minutes that the sprouts were roasting. The sprouts themselves were just washed, rubbed lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and roasted for about forty-five minutes.)

We served it with bit of cranberry-onion relish on the side, and it was delicious. You could make this with actual ham, of course, and good thick chops would also probably work well - although with the latter, getting the cooking times right might be tricky.

© 2014 Jeff Berry

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