Memories Misused

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  • In Ragged Column Toward the Sea

    Posted on February 1st, 2014 schell No comments

    Today a kaleidoscope of seagulls swirled overhead
    Climbing, spiraling as they flew, ever upward:
        Golden, sunlined wings
        A halo of heavenly motion
    Then, on winds of change that ebb and turn
    (Transparent, roiling currents mountain sent),
    Headed west in ragged column toward the sea.

    26 Feb 1989

  • Ashton Kutcher? Keanu Reeves should play Steve Jobs

    Posted on April 4th, 2012 schell No comments

    Why Keanu Reeves should play Steve Jobs

  • Fast Video Download for Firefox delivers surprise payload

    Posted on November 6th, 2009 schell No comments

    surprisewareI’m not a huge fan of surpriseware.

    If you recently updated the Firefox add-on, Fast Video Download from Applian Technologies, you may have noticed a little cartoon bubble now appears wherever you highlight online text. And perhaps like me you’ve become desensitized to all the little thingies that proliferate in the wiggly, wacky world of Web 2.0 and/or you didn’t detect a connection between the new icon and FVD.

    I, for one, do not appreciate being excluded entirely from the decision to install software on my system.

    In case you haven’t had a chance to investigate, the icon in question calls up a context menu for another (we’ll call it) add-on you won’t find in your add-on list: SearchMenu.

    SearchMenu, which apparently was named KallOut at one time, is among other things  —  you guessed it  —  a menu of search engines. What distinguishes it from the native Firefox search box is its ability to grab selected text and search with it, using one of many customizable choices of search engines listed in a convenient, right-click menu.

    The Add-on-Formerly-Known-As-KallOut appears to have been around for awhile (v1.0 in April 2008, according to the company website) and gets high marks from reviewers.

    I guess the developers weren’t seeing the number of installations they would’ve liked and decided to ‘partner’ with Applian to take matters into their own hands: SearchMenu silently installs right along with Fast Video Download.

    A quick scan reveals that SearchMenu is much more than just another handy Firefox tool  —  in fact, it’s adware.

    Now I, for one, do not appreciate being excluded entirely from the decision to install software on my system. It may even be a great tool, but sneaking software onto my PC irreversibly taints the experience and is just bad form. It also makes me inquisitive, so I decided to take a closer look.

    The trail leads back through a privacy policy link to the KallOut website [where, BTW, the name of the product is still in transition so things can get a bit confusing]. A quick scan reveals that SearchMenu is much more than just another handy Firefox tool  —  in fact, it’s adware. Among the disclosed uses for its proposed infoharvest: ‘to obtain relevant advertising content’ and ‘to provide anonymous reporting for internal and external clients’. I’ve seen enough.

    As for removing SearchMenu  —  since it’s not listed as an add-on, uninstalling Fast Video Download appears to be the only option and, to that end, does work. So at least until the developers regain their senses, a replacement for FVD will need to be found. Coincidentally, reviews of the current version indicate that FVD itself has slipped. I welcome any recommendations.

    Disturbing Sidebar: It looks like SearchMenu aka KallOut also takes the form of a Windows application, ‘seamlessly integrating…to deliver results in the context of any e-mail, document, presentation, spreadsheet or web page’.

    So if unfamiliar icons start showing up in your slideshows and Word documents, now you’ll know why.   §§§

  • Sign of the times

    Posted on September 24th, 2009 schell No comments

    CSI Permit Required

    Apparently, the Wells Fargo branch around the corner from my home gets robbed so often that police investigators have their own permanently reserved parking space out front.

    Clearly the robbers are thinking green while the bank is not.

    Clearly the robbers are thinking green while the bank is not. When there’s a Clarion right next door, why expend fossil fuels and increase response times by making the cops drive? Why not rent them a room instead? Then they could walk or bike to work.

  • Yurman’s First Law of Economics

    Posted on April 28th, 2009 schell 4 comments

    Okay, our topic today might more correctly be named ‘Yurman’s First Law of Nanoeconomics’ or ‘Yurman’s Proposition re Personal Finance’ or ‘Yurman’s Identity’, but none of those sing, and the last is just plain confusing. So with full deference to greater minds, I’m taking license and going with the original title.

    Yurman’s First Law exposes an underlying predictability in an otherwise unpredictable and unavoidable component of personal finance: cash flow.

    If you assimilate only one theorem, this one will serve you well. It was first proposed in the mid 70s by my dear friend, artist, artisan, ascetic, musician and thinker, Bruce Yurman. Through the years since, it’s proven itself to me often enough that I felt it deserved to be formalized, with credit to Bruce for his insight.

    Now more than ever, the last thing any of us needs is another financial surprise. Yurman’s First Law exposes an underlying predictability in an otherwise unpredictable and unavoidable component of personal finance: cash flow.

    Yurman’s First Law of Economics states simply that expenses equal income [-$ = +$].

    eulertv1

    Bruce’s example was his transportation — a VW bus which must surely have been the prototype for all those that followed. He observed that, for any given sum of cash which might find its way into his hands, a repair to his bus costing an exactly equal amount would become immediately necessary: Earn $60 for playing a wedding = brakes fail on the way home = brake job @ $60; Sell a piece of handmade jewelry @ $150 = second gear stops engaging = transmission work @ $150, and so on.

    This law is so reliable that, once familiar with it, one begins to see it occurs naturally in a wide range of scenarios. Here’s a more contemporary example: $100 for freelance coding = swine flu pandemic = antiviral meds @ $100.

    I hope you find Yurman’s First Law of Economics as useful in projecting personal cash flow as I have, and that you benefit in these challenging times from the heightened state of awareness.   §§§

  • Outsourcing an Arizona icon

    Posted on April 22nd, 2009 schell No comments

    There are any number of reasons for migrating to (that part of Mexico’s vast and mysterious Sonoran desert which we now call) Arizona.

    But if there was ever a single, compelling argument for staying, it used to be Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer — handcrafted at the wild edge of metro Phoenix by Crazy Ed Chileen since 1989.

    With the first taste, you’re immediately quenched and refreshed by the beer, then lit up by the chili infusion which leads to a glowing sensation accompanied by an intense desire to have another swig.

    If you’ve never tasted a chili beer, imagine a cold, crisp lager of Corona’s caliber, in which a fresh hot serrano pepper has been marinating since it was bottled. With the first taste, you’re immediately quenched and refreshed by the beer, then lit up by the chili infusion, leading to a glowing sensation accompanied by an intense desire to have another swig. Maybe it’s the desert heat or maybe it’s the chili but, in some of our tests, we have found that this cycle of consumption can continue for quite some time without a measurable reduction in the level of enjoyment.

    hot serranoAdding to the allure is its scarcity: Cave Creek Chili Beer has always been underdistributed. The connoisseur learns to snatch it up whenever it makes one of its rare appearances, as few retailers routinely stock it.

    Sadly, Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer has been outsourced. It’s now called simply Chili Beer and brewed in Tecate, Mexico. This might have been good news given the town’s reputation for producing Tecate beer, hugely popular in the southwest.

    Way back when, we used to buy Tecate at Gemco in North Hollywood and often remarked at the condition of the containers — speculating that each can must be individually imported by rolling it across the border. I mention this only because it appears that a similarly heavy hand is applied in Tecate to the making of Chili Beer: The lager seems less crisp, the chili doesn’t seem so bright on the tongue, and the glow fades quickly to Maybe-I’ll-have-another-in-awhile, instead of a craving for the next cold one.

    The upside may be a Chili Beer that finally gets the distribution it deserves. Unfortunately, it’s not Crazy Ed’s Chili Beer anymore.   §§§