[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: 11 November 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
Beet and Feta Tart
11 November 2015
[Beet and Feta Tart]

When we lived in NYC, we were members of a CSA, and each Thursday during the season we'd get a selection of whatever the farm had harvested that week. Our job was to figure out what to do with the items - it was like a cross between Christmas and Iron Chef. I've not found CSAs here in Blighty, but there do seem to be quite a few places that do something similar - weekly veg boxes. Like the CSA, it's a selection of what the farm or farms have ready to go, rather than what you picked out at the market. Beets are one of those things that I rarely go out of my way to buy, but when they show up in our box we enjoy them.

Often we roast them, sometimes I pickle them, I've used them in gratins, and I think there are nearly half-a-dozen recipes on this site that feature them. This time, however, we tried something new. It's dead simple to make a quiche or quiche-like-object and fill it with whatever random bits of stuff you have lying about, and my usual filling is heavy cream and cheddar cheese. That didn't seem quite right for beets, though; for some reason, cheddar and beets did not sing to me. Feta and beets, on the other hand, had a nice ring to it. I also had some yoghurt that wasn't getting any younger ...

[Lots of pictures]

Beet and Feta Tart

  • 4 smallish beets, roasted
  • the beet greens, if you have them
  • a good handful of sturdy greens - kale, spinach, or something similar
  • 175 gm feta cheese
  • a few Tbs of yoghurt (optional)
  • 5 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pie crust (these days, I use an oil crust recipe), blind baked
If you are roasting your own beets, give them a wash and then stick them in a medium oven for an hour or two until they are easily pierced by a skewer. Let them cool, top-and-tail them, and the rest of the skin should slide right off. Cut them into cubes perhaps 1/2" square. Chop the greens fairly small.

If your feta is in brine, drain it pretty well - and the weight is after draining, of course. (Well, technically, that's mass if you're using grams. Weight would be in newtons. But unless you're making this somewhere with gravity which isn't pretty close to Earth normal, it should be close enough. But I digress.) Crumple it or cut it into cubes about the same size as the beets, as you like.

Beat the eggs and the yoghurt together with a bit of black pepper. If you don't have (or like) yoghurt, use milk or cream. If you really like salt, or if your feta is not very salty, you might add a bit of salt, too. Add the beets, the greens, and the feta, mix well, and pour into the pie shell. Pop it into a 190C/375F oven for twenty minutes, then turn the heat down to 160C/320F and let it cook for another forty minutes.

Let cool slightly and serve warm. (Although, to be honest, it's also good at room temperature.)

© 2015 Jeff Berry

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