Friday, February 28, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Kind of Facebook User Are You?

Take This Simple Quiz
to learn what type of Facebook user you are.

What type of Facebook user are you:
Cynical curmudgeon
Gullible ad reader
Addicted game player
Inspirational quote poster
Everything-you-ate-or-did poster
Fan of George Takei
Cat photographer/videographer
Sharer of cat photographs/videos
Quiz taker

Monday, February 24, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Everybody Loves a Loser

It’s widely said that the world loves a winner, but what really gets our juices flowing is failure. We can’t get enough of it. The Olympics coverage was mainly hundreds of hours of extreme close-ups of tearful near winners, or replay after replay, in glorious high-def slow-motion, of skiers wiping out and skaters slamming into the boards.

This is what the whole genre of so-called reality TV is all about. Who survives on Survivor or becomes the next American Idol is anti-climactic. We want to see the ones who get voted off the island, or who get trashed by whoever’s playing the caustic Simon role these days.

But it goes beyond sports and entertainment. Why has MSNBC morphed into the “All Christie, All The Time” channel? They’re circling like vultures, believing the New Jersey Governor’s political demise to be imminent.

Mel Brooks is quoted as saying “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” Sure. What could be more entertaining that watching someone else’s utter defeat?

And this is what unites us most as humans … our mutual complete disregard for each other’s well being. It’s a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Modern Lies

There's a kind of cliché about certain common statements being lies. The classic example is "Your check's in the mail."

Of course, nobody mails checks anymore, but the concept of common lies still applies. Here, in no particular order, are a few examples:

  • There's another train right behind this one.
  • There will be little or no snow accumulation.
  • This plan includes unlimited data.
  • This is a secure Web site.
  • Your call is important to us.
  • The doctor will see you now.

And pretty much anything referring to "Facebook privacy settings."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Post

In honor of Valentine's Day, I want to send all my feelings of love and caring for humanity out into the world.

Ok, so much for that. What part of "curmudgeon" don't you understand? I mean, let's face it, people are jerks. Not all of them, but I'll bet there aren't many who don't at least act like jerks once in a while.

I mean really. We've been at this civilization business for what? Maybe six or eight thousand years? THOUSAND! Yet we still argue about whether or not we can tax the super-rich so we can provide some relief to people who don't have a place to live or enough food to eat. 

I know the counter-argument is that if we tax the wealthy too much, they'll get all sulky and stop creating jobs for the rest of us. Yeah, that's worked out really well. Think about the richest man in the world, Bill Gates. At one point, he was worth $60 billion. BILLION! Then he decided to do some good in the world (maybe to make up for unleashing Windows), and started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, helping cure disease in the third world and improve education everywhere. What a humanitarian! He made such a huge sacrifice, that today, he's only the richest person in the world, worth ... $60 billion. BILLION!

And how about the need to dredge up dead dinosaur guck and schlep it all over the world in boats, trains and pipelines, so everybody can drive his or her SUV to the gym. If the ships and trains and pipelines leak, we spill dinosaur guck and poison the land and kill wildlife. And if they don't leak, we burn the stuff in our cars and poison the air and kill wildlife. And the planet.

I'm sorry. I hadn't had my coffee yet. What I meant to say was Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I subscribe to the philosophy of WTF. It covers all the big questions … WTF are we? WTF are we doing here? And ultimately, WTF is the point of it all?

These questions, perhaps worded a little differently, have plagued humankind since the dawn of … uh, questions. In ancient Greece, Thales of Miletus challenged his pupils by asking ω θ φ?1 Down through Western history, from the ancient Greeks and Latins all the way to modern peoples who don’t speak a second language, these eternal enigmas have been posed again and again. Meanwhile, in the Asian parts of the world, a Zen-like approach has lead to the simplification of these conundrums into the three primary questions: W, T and F?

The beauty of WTF is that it expresses both the questions and the attitude of response. It’s a self-contained dialectic:
You: WTF?
Me2: WTF.
Other philosophies get hung up on truth, but truth is ever-changing. There is a god. There is no god. We have free will. We have no free will. We are all alone as individuals. We are all in a sharing (and liking) community.

And while it may seem that I’m just joking around, I’m really quite serious about this. I’d like to start an organized movement espousing these beliefs but, you know, WTF?

1 Not really the same thing, but it looks kind of cool, doesn’t it?
2 Note: The roles can be reversed for diversity.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The particular area of technology I specialize in is called HCI, an unfortunately unpronounceable acronym for human-computer interaction. This refers to understanding and designing the way people use computers, so that inept users don’t slow the computers down too much.

The Association for Computer Machinery (itself a weirdly named organization!) reversed the first two letters, so that its special interest group on interaction is called CHI. This is usually pronounced simply ki, to rhyme with “pie.” Some prefer to pronounce CHI as if it were a Greek letter, sounding like someone having to greet a colleague while in the middle of gagging. And I suppose others pronounce it like “chai,” the spicy tea.

But even the term “computer” is becoming obsolete. Or, more accurately, redundant. Everything’s a computer these days … phones … GPSes … cameras … come to think of it, everything’s a phone. But seriously, “computer” includes just about every consumer product. So really, it’s HTI … human-technology interaction.

Then the Association for Computing Machinery (and Its Users?) can call it THI.

Monday, February 3, 2014