Monthly Archives: January 2014

Soft Pages, Not Cold Metal

nonookOnce I was excited for the advent of HTML and the web, complimenting text with images.  I didn’t foresee ads.  Even worse is the use of video on supposed news sites.  With many it is no longer possible to even scan  and chose an article before video begins blasting.  One doesn’t need eidetic memory to gather the gist of written material in seconds.  With video am obligated to waste at least a minute  before determining whether the piece contains useful information.  Equally frustrating is searching for instruction and only finding a YouTube tutorial for something that could be explained in a few sentences.

Until recently the only alternative to the dumbed-down web was a third party browser, which sacrificed features, or semi-permanently adjusting multimedia settings with unpredictable results. Thankfully Google has come to the rescue with a “text mode” toggle in a free ad on.  It can be left on normally, but is useful before visiting a “news” site like USA Today, CNN or Huffington Post, which anticipate visitors have child-like attention spans.

Somewhat related, and admit this may be a generational handicap, I may never adapt to the e-book readers.  Quoting Harper Lee, “soft pages, not cold metal” are required to fuel my imagination.


“Sherlock” vs. “Elementary”

Benedict Cumberpatch vs Johnny Lee Miller“Sherlock” wins.

My point is I wanted to like “Elementary” more.  Seeing the later first, the Americanized Sherlock seemed to have all the elements (pardon) of the classic in modern times.  I appreciated Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson, a feminist achievement and more interesting relationship dynamic, I believed.  The CBS Sherlock’s disdain for recovery and 12 step meetings while conceding the necessity would be an amusing subplot.  Finally, I was not fan of the BBC’s  producer and writer Steven Moffat.  For reasons beyond the scope of this rant, am convinced his contribution to the reboot of “Doctor Who” hurt more than helped.

Then I saw the BBC’s “Sherlock,” which proves the idiom “God is in the Detail”.  Since its introduction in 2010 there have been only 10 episodes produced.  “Elementary” has had 48 episodes since its debut in 2011, and is constrained by the hour format with commercial breaks, along with a requirement to appeal to a mass audience for ratings.  It is surprising “Elementary” is even as good as it is.

After watching the first two seasons of “Sherlock” had to concede it is comparable to a main course, whereas “Elementary” is, at its best, an  appetizer or dessert.  More often it is a popcorn snack.

Specialization is for Insects

antfarmI’m frequently astounded by headhunters searching for a so-called expert with some obscure software package.  The reality is packages in any given industry have more in common than not.  Similarly programming languages have more in common than not.  Asking for a person who can only work with a specific set of technology is limiting.  It like asking for a driver whose only driven a certain model car, say a Honda, Accord 2003.  If you’ve only driven version 2002 that’s a problem.  Don’t even apply if your only experience is with Acura.

It isn’t always true that those who can’t do, teach, however it follows that those who can’t do OR teach become corporate recruiters.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” -Robert A. Heinlein

Late Night Slackers

I recall New Year’s eves switching between Dick Clark and a fresh Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Now not only are the late night shows not fresh on New Year’s eve, they’re on full holiday hiatus. Letterman, Leno, Kimmel and even the later late shows shut down. Is there less to laugh about during the holidays? Time was when the hardest working would stand out with current material. No more. Carson, in his day, was notorious for being on vacation. Still he had capable guest hosts holding down the fort. Certainly there are candidates today who’d appreciate the opportunity.

Wal-mart can staff their stores through Christmas, why can’t NBC, CBS and ABC?  An entire generation of students out of school, a prime target audience, is tuning out. The writers and crew need time off too, but certainly some are willing to work with incentive. Perhaps it would be difficult finding guests during the season. Again, please convince me there are no celebrities in L.A. or New York who wouldn’t refuse the opportunity. In the mornings even “Kelly & Michael” manage to appear current, though with a skeleton crew and repeat guest segments. At least that shows a little dedication. Thank you, Michael Gelman.

The networks have this wonderful, amazing gift, being capable of broadcasting into millions of homes, and they’re content dishing out seconds. I wouldn’t regret if Netflix, Hulu and similar do eventually replace them. If we’re watching second hand television there should at least be a better selection.

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Program Manager on the .NET team at Microsoft


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