Monday, May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend confuses the MLB? (Major League Baseball):

It's Memorial Day Weekend. No work Monday, for many of us, so we can afford to stay up late Sunday night. And what does the MLB do? It schedules day games on Sunday, and night games (as usual) on Monday. They ought to schedule the other way 'round.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I didn’t know ...

Now that I have an Ipad2, I have entered Apple’s world of Gestures. At my age, it’s not easy to learn lots of new gestures that do cool things, but from reading the manual, I know that there are some great time-saving two-finger and three-finger salutes gestures. I’ve been through this before with a gesture-enabled fingerpad, and my approach, which doesn’t work very well, is to try to learn one just new gesture at a time.

I feel a lot less frustrated today, because I found a fine essay by Donald A. Norman and Jakob Nielsen that rips this new gesture world to pieces. To whet your appetite, they point out that there’s no consistency across apps to help you learn gestures; and that there’s no way to SEE when the capability of gestures is present. Please read the essay itself for its many memorable points. Here’s a quote:

Whenever we discus these examples with others, we invariably get two reactions. One is "gee, I didn't know that." The other is, "did you know that if you [do] this (followed by some exotic swipe, multi-fingered tap, or prolonged touch) that the following happens?" Usually it is then our turn to look surprised and say "no we didn't know that." This is no way to have people learn how to use a system.

You know, I think I would prefer a gesture-based system that uses the Microsoft Kinect technology. Then we could we could replace [alt+F4] with the most common one-finger salute.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WPRB Playlists for my programs at 6:00 A.M. on Tuesdays, etc....

The WPRB playlists are back where they belong, at WPRB.COM. Click on one of the Playlist alternatives. You can even use the playlist SEARCH feature to find specific pieces, recordings and (often) playtimes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dropped calls: iPhone and Verizon:

Do you remember, when we heard that there was going to be a Verizon-enabled iPhone, we heard stories all from over the press about how Verizon would probably drop just as many calls as AT&T? The jist of this claim was that the dropped calls were mostly Apple’s fault, not AT&T’s so there was no way for Verizon to do any better. There were supposed to be bugs in Apple’s call software, or maybe hardware, that AT&T had taken the blame for, all these years.

I never believed this story for a minute. (And to their credit, neither did many people who were covering the iPhone story.) I made a note to wait a few months and blog about it, when the evidence was in, although I was sure I knew what the evidence would be. Here’s what I expected: Verizon besting AT&T in dropped calls.

Common sense argued that if Apple’s software was causing lots of dropped calls, they had plenty of time, and loads of incentive, to do something about it. I had only two questions about this story:
  • Who planted it?
  • Why were the news people so gullible about it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playlist for May 17, 2011, 2011 at 6 a.m. to 8:30, Music on WPRB princeton, 103.3 fm and WPRB.COM (streaming around the world):

This is the playlist for my radio program of May 17, 2011, 6:00 A.M..
My first such Classical Playlist (with an explanation) is here.

The actual list will get filled in as I broadcast, from 6:00 A.M.
Playlist for Tobias on WPRB, 103.3 FM and WPRB.COM, for May 17, 2011
Composer TitleEnsembleConductorSoloistsAlbum IDStarting time
Rachmaninov, Sergei Symphonic Dances for two pianos, Op. 45n/an/aEmanuel Ax (pno #2), Yefim Bronfman (pno #1)Sony SK 617676:03
Debussy, ClaudeEn Blanc et Noirn/an/aUrsula Oppens (pno #1), Jerome Lowenthal (piano #2)Cedille cdr 900006:37
Anweiler, AndrzejDiversions for two clarinetsChicago Clarinet Trion/aLarry Combs (cl) & Julie DeRoche (cl)Albany TROY12116:56
Saint-Saëns, CamillePiano Concerto #4 in c, Op. 44Orchestre de ParisSerge Baudo (cond)Aldo Ciccolini (pno)EMI 694437:06
Duparc, HenriSongs: L'invitation au Voyage (Baudelaire), Extase (lahor), La vie antérieure (Baudelaire)n/an/aSarah Walker (mezzo), Roger Vignoles (pno)Hyperion CDA 663237:36
Lansky, PaulComposition Project for SeniorsComputer-generatedn/an/aBridge 92107:54
Ginastera, AlbertoPopol Vuh: The Mayan Creation, Op.44BBC National Orchestra of WalesGisele Ben-Dorn/aNaxos 8.5709998:03

Monday, May 16, 2011

Locked Keys:

In 1994 I had a consulting job that required me to commute east, all across New Jersey, an hour each way every day. After an accident that totaled my then current car (a woman returning from her chemo appointment made an injudicious left turn), we got a brand new Honda Accord for me to commute in. The car was a few weeks old and I was coming home on a Friday afternoon. On Fridays, I always left early enough to get home well before the start of the Sabbath, at which time I could no longer drive. I was always hyper about making sure I got home early on Fridays.

I stopped halfway, at my favorite gas station, an indie place that sold off-brand gas at low prices. I pulled up at the pump, got out of the car and closed the door, locking my keys inside. The motor was still running.

That’s a nightmare scenario, except for one thing. The gas station employees were not the least bit worried. One of them reached up and felt along the low roof of the gas station office. He pulled out a long tool designed for one thing: to unlock card doors. He shoved it down between the driver’s seat window and the outside of the door, fished round a bit and .... he dropped it. The tool disappeared inside my car door. The motor was still running.

I stood there with my heart in my mouth while the gas station owner made a few phone calls. Soon he announced there was nothing to worry about. Fifteen minutes later, a guy drove up, looking very much like the same sort of foreigner as the gas station employees. He unlocked my car with a similar tool, got the other tool out of my door, teased us all, and drove off. I got home about thirty minutes later than expected, feeling very lucky.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trade Beltran (the Mets):

Carlos Beltran recently hit three home runs in one game. He’s healthy and he’s batting well, a great asset to the Mets.

The Conventional Wisdom about the Mets is stark and simple. They are not good enough to win their division. They are not good enough to win the Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Teams in their situation trade off good players during the pennant race. In July, as the trading deadline approaches, some team that is in a pennant race will give up a lot for Beltran. The Mets are expected to wait for a summer auction and trade Beltran away to the most desperate bidder.

I disagree. Trade Beltran now! It’s too much to hope that he will play like this all the way through July; he's at risk to get injured again. The time to trade him is now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When you leave a phone message, remember: You are Acting!

When you leave a phone message, or when you record your own OGM, it's time to get dramatic. Emphasize, and be clear and to the point, or else you'll mumble the most important part, or even a digit.

It makes me so sad to hear a message, or an OGM, that just cannot be understood. I once needed to reach a doctor's emergency line. The emergency number played a message about how to call the doctor's weekend number. That number was just thrown away in a rapid soft voice at the end of the message, and I think I was lucky to be able to hear eight of the nine digits. I reached the doctor by calling almost all ten of the possible numbers, in the course of which I got to talk to some very nice people, but that wasn't important then.

If your message includes a phone number, speak it twice! It doesn't matter how clearly you enunciate your digits; what matters is that a moment of noise can obliterate one of them. Give your listener a second chance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Wedding Ring is off my finger, and my skin is recuperating, but...

I hadn't really thought about it, but I have a nervous habit of rapping out interesting rhythms with my wedding ring. I tap it on staircase railings and lots of other reverberant surfaces. Currently, I'm not wearing it. I haven't lost the rapping habit, but it's really silly right now: I tap the side of my ring finger on hard surfaces, and nothing happens.

Playlist for May 10, 2011 , 2011 at 6 a.m., Music on WPRB Princeton, 103.3 fm and WPRB.COM (streaming around the world):

My first such Classical Playlist (with an explanation) is here.

The actual list will get filled in as I broadcast, from 6:00.
Playlist for Tobias on WPRB, 103.3 FM and WPRB.COM, for May 10, 2011
Composer TitleEnsembleConductorSoloistsAlbum IDStarting time
Asrael Symphony, Op. 27Suk, JosefRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic OrchestraLibor Pesek n/aVC 912216:04
Schumann, RobertLiederkreis, op. 39 (Eichendorff)n/an/aElisabeth Schwartzkopf (sopr), Geoffrey Parsons (pno)lp: angel 370437:10
Rachmaninov, Sergei Suite #1 for two pianos, op. 5, fantasie-tableauxn/an/aEmanuel Ax (pno), Yefim Bronfman (pno)Sony SK 61767~7:37
Ravel, MauriceConcerto for the Left Hand in DSaint Louis Symphony OrchestraLeonard SlatkinAlicia de Larrocha (pno)RCA BMG 609858:02

Friday, May 06, 2011

Trauma, and Shredded Wheat:

Shredded Wheat – and my father – caused one of the most traumatic experiences in my entire, long life. It happened when I was fifteen, during my first full summer at sleep-away camp.

About two weeks into the season, the camp served shredded wheat for breakfast. I’m talking about those, big, fist-sized logs, not the bite-sized shredded wheat that did not exist in the nineteen-fifties. I and my friends all happily took a log or two of the shredded wheat for our bowls and headed to our table, where there were big pitchers of milk.

I did what my father always did. I picked up my log of shredded wheat and crumbled it inside my hands, so that the shreds fell, milk-ready, into the bowl. Everyone at the table burst into laughter. I looked up: they were all doing something different that was, to me, incomprehensible. They had poured milk over their uncrumbled shredded wheat, and they were cutting into it with their spoons.

It mattered not that I knew they were eating their breakfasts the wrong, wrong way. I was the odd boy out, laughed away from the table.

I never ate shredded wheat at camp again.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Playlist for May 3, 2011 at 6 a.m: Music I would never play on WPRB!

Playlist for May 3, 2011 at 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M, EDT, WPRB princeton, 103.3 fm and WPRB.COM (streaming around the world):
My first such Classical Playlist (with an explanation) is here.

This is a special program: Music I would never play on WPRB.
You can read an explanation in the WPRB blog, Right here.

The actual list will get filled in as I broadcast, from 6:00 A.M..
Playlist for Tobias on WPRB, 103.3 FM and WPRB.COM, for May 3, 2011
Composer TitleEnsembleConductorSoloistsAlbum IDStarting time
RachmaninoffPiano Concerto #2 Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal Charles Dutoit Jorge Bolet (pno) Decca 430 7366:03
Dutilleux, HenriString Quartet, 'Ansi la nuit'Juillard String Quartetn/aRobert Mann (vln), Joel Smirnoff (vln), Samuel Rhodes (vla), Joel Krosnick (vc)Sony SK 525546:42
Sibelius, JeanSymphony #2 in D, Op. 43Concertgebouw Orchestra, AmsterdamGeorge Szelln/aPhilips 420 7717:00
Chopin, Frederic Polonaises Op. 26, #1 and #2n/an/aArthur Rubinstein (pno)AR 090267:45
Pachelbel, JohannKanon & GigueMusica Antiqua KölnReinhard Goebeln/aArchiv 410 5028:02
Beethoven, Ludwig vanFantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in c, Op. 80New York Philharmonic, Westminster ChoirLeonard BernsteinRudolf Serkin (pno)Sony SM2K 475228:07
Brahms, JohannesVariations and Fugue on a Theme of handel, Op.24n/an/aOlga Kern (pno)HMU 9073928:28
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr I.Piano Concerto #2 in G, Op. 44Vienna Symphony OrchestraGennadi RozhdestvenskyVictoria Postnikova (pno)London 410 1139:03
Khachaturian, AramSabre Dancen/an/aJohn Ogdon (pno) & Brenda Lucas (pno)D Classics DC 7034629:55
Schubert, Franz Lied: Mio ben Ricrodati, D. 688 (Metastasio)n/an/aLucia Popp (sopr), Georg Fischer (pno)GL 366 ADD10:01
Hummel, Johann Nepomuk (cadenza by Oubradous)Trumpet Concerto in EflatBerlin Philharmonicvon KarajanMaurice André (trpt)EMI 6696110:04
Telemann, Georg PhilippConcerto in D for three trumpets, two oboes, timpani, strings and continuoThe Esterhazy Orchestran/aDavid BlumLP: The Bach Guild XSV 12387010:26
Debussy, ClaudePrélude à l'Après-midi d'un FauneBoston Symphony OrchestraMichael Tilson Thomasn/aDG 469 13010:34
Schikele, Peter, as PDQ BachThe Musical Sacrifice (Fuga Meshuga)Members of the New York Pickup EnsembleSchikele, (I think)n/aTelarc 8052010:44
Gould, MortonAmerican Symphonette No. 2Albany Symphony OrchestraDavid Allan Miller[The trumpet playr is not credited!]Albany TROY117410:49 (I really like this composition!)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Verizon: Outrageous? Where's the outcry?

Verizon has just notified me about a few changes in their terms of service. One change is a doozy. I quote:

Home Router Password Changes. Section 10.4 was updated to clarify that Verizon may in limited instances modify administrative passwords for home routers in order to safeguard Internet security and our network, the security and privacy of subscriber information, to comply with the law, and/or to provide, upgrade and maintain service.

I would be only slightly more outraged if Verizon told me they had decided they had the right to change the passwords on my computer. I OWN my router. How dare they claim the right to override how I wish to administer it?

I can imagine situations in which Verizon's new 'right' will enable them to smoothly upgrade my service, or disable me if I am an unrepentant hacker. Or if I download too much data. Or if I upload something they feel is awful.

Now, perhaps you're thinking: Don't be silly; for FIOS, Verizon owns the router, and so they have the right to control it. I wonder if that's the case, but if it is: I prefer to own my router thank you, and to pick the DNS of my choice, even if that means never 'upgrading' to FIOS.