Category Archives: Tech

R.I.P. FilmStruck

Very disappointed to see news yesterday that FilmStruck is shutting down as of 29 November. Bummer. Really, bummer. I was just getting ready to re-subscribe. Now who’s going to pick up the slack of all those classic movies?


Two cogent articles on the demise of FilmStruck have me revisiting one of the principles I’ve put to work in the last few years. Partly in anticipation of retiring and cutting expenses, I decided it was prudent to purchase in physical form (i.e., DVD or Blu-ray) the movies and TV shows that I really enjoy and want to watch again. But along with the goal of future expense-cutting was distrust of streaming services. For exactly the reasons that FilmStruck’s demise illustrate: I can’t count on streaming services to provide quality content. I can count on streaming services to provide  90% crap (Sturgeon’s Law at work), and to pull the good content for no good reason.

Cf., for example: Washington Post and New Yorker articles that validate my choices. Ergo, I want to own physical versions of the videos and books that I want to experience again. And to own a region-free DVD/Blu-ray player, which is on my wish-list for the apartment I’ll acquire some time next year for the long term.

Meanwhile, Amazon via Roku tells me that most of the content on my wishlist is “not available in your current location.” Which means, apparently, I’ll have to watch on the iPad via VPN, at least until the end of the year (that is, end of my US Amazon Prime subscription), and then see what’s included with Prime on Of course, I’ll keep you informed.

C’mon Amazon!

Are algorithms getting dumber? Maybe we don’t need to worry about them so much, after all.

Seriously, Amazon’s recommendations have gotten worse over the years. Why are you trying to sell me another phone nearly identical to the one I just bought? Really? Why do you try to sell me — on Facebook! — the same phone I just bought. Really? You know I already bought it! And Facebook recommends “friends” with whom I have no known connection. They must be desperate!



In the process of packing up my office (at IBM, not home) pre-move (to another building), I tossed out a number of ancient historical trinkets that really only qualify as clutter at this point,  including a stash of conference badges that would impress no one. But I’m glad I opened up one little box, curious what it held, and found my long-lost iPod Shuffle! This one was a gift from ACM in recognition of. . . something. I assumed I’d left it in a  pocket somewhere, or a bag or backpack. Nope, cleverly squirreled away with a little speaker.

Now, of course, I don’t know where the charging dock is, so I ordered up a charging cable from Amazon. Two for $7.99, delivered Sunday.

(Much much later, I did find the Shuffle charging dock.)

Camping out

I’m spending the day at Mission College in Santa Clara, right near Levi Stadium, for  TC Camp, an Unconference for technical communicators.

First item on the agenda: WordPress tips & tricks + SEO. More to come. . .

Unexpected bonus: Keynote address from Dan Rosenberg, ex of Oracle and SAP, now consulting and teaching at SJSU. I’ve known Dan since I started hanging around UX events, and have friends who worked for him in years past. He gave a great, densely-packed talk about language and usability, including numerous references to facts of human cognition I hadn’t heard before. Must remember to email him and request his slides!

After that I made my escape. The former colleague I had hoped to see there didn’t show, so I was less motivated to talk with a bunch of strangers about things I soon won’t care about.

Adventures in digitizing

For the third — fourth? — winter break in a row, I am making time to digitize my collection of LPs. Why? Mostly because I expect to move some day, and I’m not going to move three big boxes of 400-500 vinyl records. They weigh a lot, and it’s not going to happen. So I’m turning them into ones and zeroes on some big hard drives, and backing up to the cloud.

This time around, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that there are not as many albums left to record as I thought. Right now, it’s Ali Akbar Khân’s Ragas of India (Book of the Month Club edition).

Once I’ve finished with the LPs I’m willing to part with, I’ll deliver them either to Streetlight Records or Metavinyl in downtown Santa Cruz. Then get back to ripping the remaining CDs; I sold perhaps 200 to Streetlight last weekend.

P.S. Recording Clear Spot from Captain Beefheart, and it’s really good!