Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In which we satisfy some tech lust

I saw today that tabroom will be going down for maintenance the middle of next week. This means that they’ll be changing the oil, checking the tires for wear, and doing a 10-point inspection that will discover cooties in the fuel line, necessitating a $464 repair in addition to the can of new oil they put in. It happens every time. Nothing that needs fixing is ever under warranty.

Speaking of warranties, I went out and got myself one of them thar fancy big new iPhones. It’s been way too long since I purchased something bright and shiny, and while I conceivably could have lived without it, the virtually simultaneous deaths of both my old Classic iPod and my original Nano necessitated some rethinking about the tech landscape. I may have mentioned that already. Anyhow, first impressions. The bigger size is no great problem for a person who always wears a shirt with a breast pocket. As I favor the Steve Bannon how-many-shirts-can-you-wear-at-once look, the XS Max is a piece of cake. Face recognition, which I predicted would be a disaster, works better than my old thumb recognition. That’s really surprising. And I really like it. Of course, all the cops have to do is shine the phone on my face and they’ll have access to all my WhatsApp messages to Kaz about how long it’s going to take her to drive from Lexington to Hudville, but still… Since I now either wear reading glasses or no glasses, thanks to successful cataract surgery, the idea that I can blow up the type a little bit on the phone and read it easily on the expanded real estate without having to find a pair of glasses is very satisfying. What I haven’t done yet is explore the camera, which is one of the main reasons I didn’t wait to get the cheaper phone. I’m looking forward to giving that a workout soon enough.

BTW, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’ve officially put in for retirement from the DJ. My last day, so to speak, is 1/1/19. I will talk more about this when the time comes, but you’re probably more interested in debate stuff than how I fill my empty hours, and I have no intention of letting up on debate stuff any time soon. And speaking of debate stuff, I got nuthin’. I’ve filled up the halls of the Tiggers as much as possible, and now it’s mostly waiting. Next up is judge hires, always fun. This coming weekend is my last one off for a while. And then it’s one damned tournament after the other. I can’t wait.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In which time and tech march on

Everyone at the DJ is going into conniptions over having to update to the latest version of Word. Given that we were using the 2011 version, I would say it’s about time to upgrade. After all, all our freelancers are living in 2018. So are my iPad and mini, for when I work at home. The thing is, no matter how forward-looking a company might be, and the DJ is very much that, very into keeping our brand relevant in the digital age, it doesn’t mean that their IT department isn’t mostly populated with dinosaurs who want to keep everything as is because, at the moment, it all mostly works. Upgrade to a version of Word that’s only a few years old? To them, anything short of just announced as obsolete is still beta. I can understand that. While an IT department’s job seems to be to provide the technical infrastructure for a company to run its business, it’s secret real job is to keep users from bugging them. Old software that runs perfectly fine is way better for that than newer software where the buttons are some place they weren’t before. To say that all IT people hate users is to overstate things. Hate is reserved for human-to-human interactions. IT people do not consider users to be human. To hate them would be to elevate them beyond their station.

This is not to say that I have bad relations with my IT department. Far from it. To be honest, I’m mostly on their side. Since I’ve actually spent a number of years managing a systems group, I know how it is. I especially understand change management. It’s difficult. Managing not changing is a lot easier. But if change is in aid of improvement, it has to be done.

Meanwhile, we keep changing things at tournaments. The latest thing is partial obligations in PF. It took me a while to get my head around partial obligations. Obviously it’s a lot easier for coaches simply to dump judges into the pool and for tab rooms simply to fish them out. I also originally (and erroneously) thought the math wasn’t as favorable with partials as with full obligations. But as Kaz pointed out, on top of all that, partial obligations in LD were so much better at allowing teams to do their prefs at an optimal level, since they could factor in if someone were there for 1 round or 6 rounds. Obviously, with PF not having MJP, the issue is slightly different, but there are still strikes. It would be nice to know that The Parent From Hell is only judging 2 rounds. Why waste a strike, when The Idiot Coach from North South Dogpatch is in for 6?

The thing is, we are slowly introducing these changes. Just as we started e-ballots in LD and then spread out to PF (and even speech), we started partial obs in LD and Policy. That allows at least some coaches to get used to them, and it puts them out into the atmosphere. Applying things after that to PF is just natural. While, as the Vast Coachean Army knows, I am a strong supporter of Keeping PF Accessible, that doesn’t mean it has to run on index cards.

This morning we swept out the TBAs at the Tiggers. There weren’t too many, as people know enough to put in names that they can change, but it does usually eliminate a bit of ballast. The remaining slots then go to people with names. And the tournament is one step closer to reality.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Arts

On TV, we’re halfway through the latest season of “Endeavour.” Always thumbs up for all the various Morse shows. No movies, alas, but I’ll be catching up come the new year. On the audio front, listening to More Tales of the City. I thought I liked the books (and the old TV show from the 90s), but listening to Cynthia Nixon read this, and the first volume, is even more pure joy. I’ve got the whole series queued up in my Audible account. And if you’re looking for a freebie, John Waters was recently on Fresh Air. If you don’t like John Waters, please stop reading my blog. That’s almost worse than liking Donald Trump.

On to music. Spotify has a “Discover” page that theoretically points you to music you don’t know and will probably like, based on your previous listening. Needless to say, it’s hit and miss. Occasionally it’s listed nothing but pop-ish country albums that I wouldn’t cross the street for. Other times, if I’ve been listening to, say, Haydn string quartets, it thinks that I’ve never heard of Mozart and recommends a lot of him (whoever he was). Ditto jazz, very hit and miss. Most of the recommendations in any genre are either obvious or unwarranted, but occasionally something interesting pops us. Like Blondie Chaplin.

Who, you may ask, as I did, is Blondie Chaplin? Essentially he’s a perennial sideman. Most famously he sang lead on the Beach Boys’ “Sail on Sailor.” I know this because after listening to his album, I looked him up on Wikipedia. My friend Peter, who knows every obscure thing imaginable about old rock (except what’s good as background for a poker game), knew him immediately. His album (there’s only one on Spotify) is quite polished, and stands out as a result. This time out I grabbed one song, but then I put it back into the rotation for more listening. I might continue to grow on me.

Be My Love, Blondie Chaplin, Blondie Chapman — If he has any other albums, they aren’t there.

Nothing by the Dave Clark 5 — This group, which was phenomenally popular in the 60s, was plagued by rights bickering in the following years, and because their albums were no longer available in new media, and because their songs weren’t even on various compilations of British hits and the like, they faded into obscurity. It’s a shame. Fortunately I do have a good Greatest Hits CD. But come on, Spotify. This is a really big gap.

In the Sun, Blondie, Blondie – Obviously, Blondie Chaplin inspired me to seek out Blondie. I grabbed two versions of this song, which I already knew from a summer song compilation. (The better of the two is the Original Private Stock Single, whatever that means.) Otherwise the music left me cold. I’ve never actually listened to one of their albums all the way through before. The only musician in the group worth a damn seems to be the drummer. I’ll try a greatest hits album next, because I know that they have a couple of hits I wouldn’t mind adding to the playlist, but otherwise I’m not terribly sanguine.

1941, Cuddly Toy, You Can’t Do That, Sleep Late My Lady Friend, Without Her, River Deep Mountain High, from Pandemonium Shadow Show, Nilsson — As I said earlier, I’m amazed that there was no Nilsson in the playlist. We begin to correct that oversight.

Stranded in the Jungle by the Jayhawks, Cinnamon Cinder (It’s a Very Nice Dance) — A couple of novelty items from some random collection, Ace’s Golden Age of American Hits Vol 1. There seems to be no Volume 2. Nor should there be. How many times do you need to hear “Percolator”? Then again, “She’s Neat” is a nice find, but I’d already found it.

Nothing from a collection called Doo Wop Heaven — These weren’t big hits, and I wasn’t surprised that any of them didn’t make it. What made a good popular hit in the 50s and 60s? Who knows?