Monday, June 20, 2011

The Nose On Your Facebook

We are still in the midst of a computer revolution. But I sense a curious inertia among the computer-using public, unwilling to keep learning. One hopes we are not weary of progress. Here are a few things I do which improve my life or finances or convenience which others seem unwilling to do, and I'm unsure why.

Skype. Free telephoning on the internet. It requires a trip to a consumer electronics store, a computer with little input-output jacks, the internet, and the microphone and or speakers you buy at the store, which you likely will be surprised to find very inexpensive. Like under $16 for both if you are lucky. Peanuts in most cases. You find Skype, log in, they test your little rig, and you are on. It's free. You talk to other people like you are on the phone. They are on Skype. For free.

Besides Skype, there is something completely different: emailing to your friends' text messaging phone. That's right, if you are at your computer, there is an email address you can use and send them a text message on their phone. It's usually something like If you are determined to find it you can. Obviously you explain to your friend when you do this. They might be interested in this ability. You can check the Google on "how to email text to Sproink customers" or "Dingdong customers," or "Mojorizen customers." You'll find it. That way you can text them without using your minutes.

By the way, those texting maniacs can also send texts to your email inbox from their phones. Instead of a phone number, usually they can send it directly to your email address. And note that's true even if they don't pay for internet access on their phone plans. If they pay for texting, they have this option. Hey, it might cost them a dime but it's better than both of you paying it. I think text maniacs have a certain number of texts they can use anyway.

Of course you can also send free homemade audio files via email just like leaving a voice mail message if you prefer to talk. You have to download a free audio file program and use your microphone to speak a message. Attach it to the email. I've done it, and it's been appreciated, but I have other options such as Skype. My minutes are so over the limit now, I might do that with a friend who prefers voice contact.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sesame Seed Bun

The sesame seed bun, it is becoming clear, is not well understood. So I will illuminate the arcane nature of its greatness.

Many hamburger lovers don't get it. The tasteless and meaningless things seen on certain fast food hamburgers do nothing for anybody. Check out the Big Mac, in the first photo. Why they actually brag about the sesame seeds on this thing, I have no idea. They are functionally useless. This is the source of the confusion.

The second photo is of my favorite hamburger buns. They have lots of sesame seeds.

(For this article, I realized I didn't know much about the sesame seed plant or its cultivation. Wikipedia's article on sesame seeds informs me that the seeds, African in origin, grow in pods, seen on another site. )

The problem is, the sesame seeds, stuck to the top of the bun prior to baking, never get toasted. I'm not sure why; I suggest it's the moisture in the baking bread which might have something to do with it, but I'm only guessing. Even if the bun is perfectly browned, the seeds remain a bland white, or at best very light yellow. But once you toast the seeds, their wonderful taste reveals itself. Mind you, I have been promised nutty goodness from all sorts of foods, but in this case it's true.

Many will argue the grilled burger is the best burger, and I won't argue. And it's not too hard with a little practice to toast the tops of the buns, and so the sesame seeds, perfectly, on the grill right before serving the burger. But in truth this method sometimes fails, and some parts are too dark, or the seeds are too light. But they do pick up some smoky goodness.

I suggest at least use a toaster oven for grilled burgers' buns. The buns' tops will toast pretty uniformly, as seen in the third photo.

I often cook my burgers, though, in an iron frying pan. A griddle is usually used in a restaurant without an actual grill. Here is where the sesame seed bun can really reach greatness. After the burger is done, I take the buns and toast them top side down in some of the burger fat. This unleashes the wonderful nutty taste of the sesame seeds, and also adds deliciousness to the bread. I recommend this method highly.

The last photo is not pretty, but it was delicious. It was a jalapeƱo cheeseburger, with a thick slice of raw onion, lettuce and mayonnaise. I split and cooked the peppers in the skillet with the burgers. The buns were toasted in the skillet after the burgers were cooked in it.

(What's the best way to assemble a hamburger?)

Monday, June 13, 2011


The superheroes of the comic books are known for flying. Yet upon reflection I find the list of those who fly is curiously short. I will try to compile a list here, and hope for some help to fill it out.

Superman. The premier of flight. We will include all Kryptonians such as Supergirl, Superman's dog Krypto, etc.
The Human Torch.
Green Lantern, with a magic ring. Or technological ring. See Arthur C. Clarke. Anyway.
A few simply have wings: The Angel of X-Men, and Hawkman, (and Hawkgirl, etc.) fly with wings.

I will get out of the way the pseudo-qualifiers:
Wonder Woman has an invisible airplane.
The Hulk "flies" by enormously strong leaps.
Iron Man has jets on his feet.
Thor "flies" by hurling his hammer, then catching the strap at the last second. Yes, it is sort of absurd.
The Atom is so small he is carried on wisps of air, or is subject to, and maneuvers around in, even subtler microscopic forces.
Dr. Strange seems to hover around lots. Usually in odd dimensions, but he can keep his feet off the ground. Using magic.

I am completely out of the loop on the more modern comix heroes. Sorry.
edit March 2016
I realize I quit reading comics in 1968, and have become more aware lately of my laughable incomplete survey.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mechanical Resistance to Esthetics of Intelligence

Progress along the long and difficult road to correctly designing a reading machine such as the Kindle has been beset by a continuous onslaught of negative paradigms. That ballast, that small percentage of critical mass that causes the ship to sink, is the general new-product-developers' ethos that includes this meme: they don't like to read.

As long as my devices are designed by teams which include people who don't like to read, they will not manage to design a device that satisfies me. Because I like to read. And significant percentages of their design teams possess an anti-intellectual ethos. Who'd have thought it?

They seem to be convinced that at every instant of my reading experience, somehow I would be happier watching cartoons, playing a mindless game, or listening to music or watching a TV show. Perhaps Twittering. The usual stuff marginally literate people do with the Internet. And when I occasionally have the advantage of easily identifying these people, they usually react like cockroaches exposed to the light, and begin scurrying. They scurry and hurl insults at me. They will shovel out a mass of implication, implying I am the oddball, I am the square peg, I am the loser.

This is from people who have insinuated themselves professionally into an industry, into designing a product based on reading, which they themselves don't really like. In short, illiterates run the boardroom.

So I still await the $45 portable reading tablet. It was basically invented 15 years ago, but you are not allowed to buy it.