Tales from the Technoverse

Commentary on social networking, technology, movies, society, and random musings

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Ruby Sparks plus a Discovery

October 30th, 2014 · movies

I finished watching Ruby Sparks this morning.

Ruby Sparks is a ‘cute’ rom-com (romantic comedy) about a lonely author with writer’s block who writes about his perfect, albeit imaginary girl friend, Ruby Sparks. After doing so, suddenly she is there in his apartment.

What seems like a perfect situation, perfect only because of the limited male imagination I guess, turns out not to be so much. Buried somewhere in the film are life lessons about opening yourself up and learning to care about people for what they are not what you might imagine them to be, blah-blah-blah.

As usual, Holly wood ensures that the character’s back story is sufficiently like the viewers so we can identify with those lessons. Or at least that would be true if you wrote a novel in your teens that caused everyone to compare you to J.D. Salinger and had Annette Bening as your mother and Antonio Banderas as her current lover who live on a palatial estate in Big Sur. I was going to remark that at least the film illustrated that not-particularly attractive male Hollywood movie characters were able to have relationships with really cute female Hollywood movie characters until I read that the female lead, Zoe Kazan, and the male lead, Paul Dano (great in Little Miss Sunshine), are in fact girlfriend and boyfriend in real life. How great is that for Paul Dano, not only does he have a cute girlfriend, but since she also wrote the script for Ruby Sparks, she writes stuff for him to star in; almost like he made that situation all up …

I would give the film a B-. I thought the film was fun to watch but no great shakes, and the ending was a bit too ‘neat’.

Now for my minor discovery, it turns out that Netflix has a limit to the size of its queue, 500 films, which I reached last week. Based on my current rate of going through movies/TV shows I should get to the end of the queue in about nine years, unless of course at some point during that nine-year period I decide to add to the queue.


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The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espiritu de la Colmena)

October 28th, 2014 · Entertainment, movies

This morning I finished watching the Spanish movie, The Spirit of the Beehive.

Made in 1973 and directed by Victor Erice, the film is set in 1940 in a small Spanish village. It tells of a girl Ana, and her sister, Isabel. The two girls go to a mobile cinema which plays Frankenstein. Ana for the rest of the film is fascinated with the creature in the film. When she meets an escaped Republican solider, Franco has just won the Spanish civil war, who is shot by the police.

She also lives with her older father who tends bees, thus the name of the movie, and her younger mother, who writes letters to a former lover.

This is one of those films that I know has lots of levels that I just completely miss, after all it had a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating and according to the write-ups of it, is considered one of the truly great Spanish films. After the film finished, I thought back to when in college I saw Fellini’s Satyricon, where I understood little of the implications, assuming there were implications, but found some of the scenes interesting; here too, I found the film entertaining and beautifully done, but suspect I missed the point, assuming there was a point.

The two sisters, especially the younger Ana, were remarkable. The actress Ana, played by Ana Torrent, has gone on to a lengthy film and acting career; the younger sister Isabel, played by Isabel Telleria, seems to have been only in this one film.

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My Top Three Articles Relating to the Federal Government From Last Friday

October 27th, 2014 · big data, cloud computing, current events, cyber-security, data, government, sensors, technology

On Friday, October 24, I was on the Federal News Countdown, hosted by Francis Rose, along with Jenny Mattingley, director of government affairs for Shaw, Bransford and Roth. You can hear the show, and see a picture of an old, bald guy standing next to Jenny, here.

The format of the show is each guest talks about their third most important article, then their second and finally their most important article of the week. Both guests will comment on each other’s second and top articles.

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A Reminder That My Father-in-Law is a Very Smart Guy

October 26th, 2014 · family

Ellen’s parents, David and Bobbie Elow, visited us this weekend.

I am very lucky to have had such great people enter into my life when Ellen and I were married. In addition to important personal and business advice I received at times when I needed such advice, I have learned much about being a good parent and a good person from each.

The fact that my kids have such alert, loving, and special grandparents in their lives is truly a blessing.

Having said that, I was told by Ellen (confirmed by her parents) of a birthday for Ellen’s sister Jane when they were both very young and lived in a house in New Rochelle. My father-in-law, to entertain the children, decided to play some games. The first one was a contest to see which child could pick the most yellow flowers. After the party, he was able to admire his dandelion free yard.

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An Example of Why I Enjoy Teaching

October 24th, 2014 · education, technology

In one of my graduate classes I teach at the University of Maryland University College, we had a question thread this week relating to the Internet of Every/Any Thing  asking students to imagine new ideas that they hadn’t read about.

This resulted in the following on-line exchange:

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Counting Down

October 22nd, 2014 · government, technology

I’ll be on the Francis Rose hosted Federal News Countdown this coming Friday at 4pm, on WFED, 1500 on your AM (yes, they still broadcast on AM) dial.

The format of the show is two people “select three news stories they think are most important in the world of government.”

So my next step is to pick three important stories. If you have any suggestions post a comment or send me an email, dmintz@esemconsulting.com.

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Sharing Is Not Always An Easy Thing – Federal-Commercial Spectrum Data Workshop

October 20th, 2014 · technology

I have been asked to facilitate a workshop which will attempt to move the dialog along about spectrum sharing.  The workshop will be all day October 21st at the National Science Foundation

It is one of the action steps that resulted from President Obama’s Memorandum on “Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution”, further discussed in a report produced by the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in July, 2012.

Over the last few months I have been meeting with members of the Wireless Spectrum Research & Development Senior Steering Group (WSRD SSG) to help plan the workshop. It has been a pretty exciting opportunity for me to work with such a talented and smart group of people. In addition I have learned much about the issues that need to be dealt with to make more spectrum available.

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The Buck Stops Here

October 14th, 2014 · movies

There are, at least, two things that my daughters mention that I never did for them. I never took them fishing (of course I have almost never fished) and I never took them horseback riding (I guess I did that a little bit myself but it violated my ‘feet-are-on-the-ground happy place’ approach.

The movie I just finished, Buck, deals with horses.

Buck Brannaman, is the prototypical what-we-think-a-cowboy-should-be cowboy (I guess I am overusing hyphens this morning). He travels around the country teaching people how to ride horses better. In fact he is really teaching them about how to treat horses better. As he says in the movie (paraphrased), “People do not have a horse problem, horses have a people problem.” And what he really is teaching is much about the riders themselves about themselves.

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Rent Seeking, Teeth Whitening, and Grapes

October 12th, 2014 · economics, government, law

George Will has an interesting column today about rent seeking as it applies to teeth whitening.

Rent seeking is an economics term used when someone attempts to achieve additional profits without creating actual value. It often is used to describe situations when someone uses the government to implement policies that reduce competition to allow this incremental profit to occur.

The situation described in George Will’s column discusses the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners. The NC Board has said that only licensed dentists can perform teeth whitening and, in fact, has also asked the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners (I wonder if Maryland has such a thing) to forbid licensed cosmetologists from performing teeth whitening also.

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Life’s Little Annoyances

October 10th, 2014 · movies

When one represents that shrinking number of people who actually still rent actual DVD’s to watch (my Netflix queue is up to around 490), some things end up being a mild irritant that others would not even notice.

It is normal that when a DVD starts there are a series of previews of films that had just come out, or at least just came out in let us say 2006 when the DVD was made, plus coming attractions for films that will be coming out in the future, late-2006.

After pressing the menu key on my DVD clicker usually I am allowed to skip to the movie, every now and then it will not. This is only a mild problem EXCEPT when the power surges and the DVD player in the basement locks up until I turn it off and then back on. This forces me to go through the previews and coming attractions again.

This morning I returned to my watching the documentary Buck, more about that later, which is a Sundance Select film. It turns out that Sundance Select DVD’s or at least THIS Sundance Select DVD forces you to wade through all this preliminary stuff.

My immediate reaction was that perhaps here was a political metaphor, those on the Hollywood liberal left (but I repeat myself) forcing viewers to be under their control. However, Ellen tells me I over-generalize about such things so I shall not think that, at least when she is looking. But just between you and me …

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