[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: 21 June 2015
Updates ... sometimes
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
Ratatouille Parmesan (or something)
21 June 2015

Ratatouille sounds, in many ways, like a fairly unpromising dish. I mean, really, vegetables cooked in oil? However, as with many things, the devil is in the details. The right vegetables, cooked slowly in olive oil, can be nearly miraculous. That's the trick, I think - vegetables stewed, not fried, in olive oil, and a mix that includes eggplant, onion, and tomato. Actually, you don't need much else.

That said, I made a valiant attempt to gild the lily. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that I could merge eggplant parmesan with ratatouille and create ... something. Where the egg came from, I have no idea.

Ratatouille Novo

  • an eggplant
  • as many onions as you need
  • as many tomatoes as you need
  • salt
  • pepper
  • probably more olive oil than you think you need
  • as many eggs as you have ramekins
  • cheese, I used cheddar because I'm in England
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F or so. If you've purchased properly, the middle bit of your eggplant is the same size as your ramekin, so cut a few slices out of the middle and put them in the ramekins. Take your onion, ideally the same diameter as your eggplant middle, and make a nice few slices, which you should then place on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you've got nice big tomatoes, good on you, treat them as you did the onion. If not, cut them appropriately and make them fit as best you may. Again with the salt and pepper, and then anoint them liberally with olive oil. Place them reverently in the oven, as befits their station, and let them stew in their juices for forty-five minutes.

At this point, they should smell fantastic. Ignore that, and crack an egg on top of each ramekin. Then garnish with as much cheese as your little heart desires. My heart lusts for cheese insatiably, but yours may not. Back in the oven they go for another fifteen minutes, or a bit less if you prefer your eggs to be a bit more liquidly yielding.

Oh, and throw the leftover bits and bobs of the vegetables into a larger dish, in something resembling layers, with salt, pepper, and olive oil and cook them at the same time - waste not, want not!

You could serve this with other things, but, really, why bother?

© 2015 Jeff Berry

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