Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Late Show, with Stephen Colbert

Friday, April 11th, 2014

I couldn’t be more pleased for Stephen Colbert’s being hired to follow David Letterman on the Late Show. Congratulations, sir.

However some people are sad that Stephen Colbert’s character from The Colbert Report will not continue in his new job. I suggest they not worry. Colbert was plenty good on The Daily Show, when he was not playing this character. I think Jon Stewart was telling us the truth when he said Colbert has a lot more “gears” than we have seen. This will be his chance to explore a bunch of them.

But mostly, I think Colbert deserves better. Unlike the very early years on The Colbert Report, he now has a lot of help writing the show, but I still think the man is getting exhausted and needs a break. Maintaining this character all the time has to drain him, and it denies him the refreshment of ever doing anything different.

There is a lot of wonder over what the Late Show will be like “with Stephen Colbert”. I think this is a work-in-progress, but I have some predictions (or, advice):

  • More ensemble. He has already had the ego trip as the headliner of The Colbert Report, he can have more fun (and have less work) if he shares the stage with more talent. Not having to be such an ego-maniac will be a relief for him.
  • More elaborate production values. I admit I am not a regular viewer of the Late Show with David Letterman, but I am under the impression mostly he interviews people. Occasionally they walk outside in Manhattan with a camera, but much beyond that is rare. Colbert’s production budget will go up with this move, and I expect him to produce bigger stuff with it.
  • Stay in New York. I think he likes it there. But that doesn’t mean he won’t travel and take the show with him. His shows from Iraq were a lot of fun. He could travel to more cushy places and make good TV, too.
  • Continue to take plenty of time off. I wish I had his Comedy Central vacation schedule, I suspect he will want to keep it, too. With a bigger ensemble and more elaborate productions, I don’t think the show will fall apart during his absences.

The result will please those of us who wish TV had more Dick Cavett and more Sid Caesar. Luckily we will have move Stephen Colbert.

Stephen: I wish you the best. I hope you enjoy these final months as “Stephen Colbert”, and good luck planning your next gig.

-kb, the Kent who doesn’t even watch much TV.

©2014 Kent Borg

Pebble Watch’s Limitations: They are Key

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Maybe it is supposed to be click-bait, or maybe Jared Newman (@OneJaredNewman) is sincerely confused. In his posting on ( he complains that the Pebble watch is too much work, and “Pebble’s new apps are no easier to reach than the phone in your pocket.”.

He misses the point.

The Pebble watch is not a replacement for his phone, it is an accessory. In fact without a Bluetooth link to a phone it loses most of its value. For anything that your phone is good at, your phone is good at it, and your phone wins!  Use your phone to play games, answer e-mail, read, take pictures, etc.

But there are some things that phones are not so good at. Telling the time, for example. Reaching into my pocket for that is silly. And the temperature: before I had my Pebble watch I found myself looking at my analog watch because I thought the temperature should be there. That was my hint that I should buy one finally.

It is somewhat ironic that phones are not good at telling us who is calling. When I am washing dishes and my Pebble vibrates I and can easily see whether it is my wife calling (dry off my hands and take the call) or not (keep washing dishes).

I mostly don’t like my phone to actually “ring”…you know, make noise when someone is calling. I bring my phone with me when I go places and don’t feel like I have the right to add my ringing to stores, offices, nor movies. I can have the phone vibrate, but I sometimes miss that. A smart watch vibrating, however, is a great way to be alerted that there is a call. Again, ironically, it is better at this than is a phone. Also text messages, breaking news alerts, and the other little alerty things a phone can do, are better suited to a smart watch. It gives me enough information so I know whether it is worth pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Vibrating and caller ID are big features all by themselves. But the phone is still the point. The watch is merely the accessory.

Yes, there are apps for the Pebble, but apply some sense when deciding how to use them!

The Pebblebucks app will let me pay for my coffee, I can pull up the app while waiting in line, and when I get my coffee I can pay with my wrist and use my hands to take my coffee and not be fumbling with my phone or Starbucks card.

I have a stopwatch app that I have used while swimming and I have used it while cooking (“How long have those steaks been on?”). In both cases it is worthwhile to push a few buttons to get to the stopwatch, and then leave it there while I am busy swimming or cooking. These are cases where being on my wrist is key.

There is a nifty looking biking app. I have not tried yet becuase my watch is new and it is winter in Boston, but I expect next summer it will be worth pushing a few buttons to get to it, and then leaving it there as I peddle off. And when I want details about my bike ride at the end of the day? I will pull out my phone, because it is better for focused use, when I have the time, when I have free hands.

Next big election I expect there will be a Pebble app that will give me vote returns. Yes, it will be some effort to find a good app, and some effort to get it working, but then I expect to just leave it there, glancing at it now and then.

For sports fans who can’t watch a big game, putting a sports app on the face–and just leaving it there to sneak peeks at–makes sense. If you can steal a few minutes to get details of the game, don’t use your watch! Grab your phone, or find a TV. (I know a bartender who loves sports, but works at a place with no TV. He might be able to sneak glances if he had a Pebble.)

In each case, the Pebble is good for when I am doing something else. It is a limited little thing that sits on my wrist. That is handy location when I am doing something else and want to be alerted or want to glance at some status, but for anything more involved, it is a cumbersome spot. Better to grab a smartphone.

This is very much like earlier incarnations of a wristwatch, they showed the time. Maybe they had a couple more functions, maybe they could alarm. But that’s it. They occupied very privileged real estate (I have only two wrists), but had limited function suited to that space.

The Pebble watch should be thought of like a traditional watch: it shows status (but many more choices than just time) and can alert (but with many more choices than just an alarm clock). But it is still a wristwatch. It is on my wrist, and it does wrist-suitable stuff. It is not a phone, tablet, nor desktop computer.

The Pebble is a really cool wristwatch. But it is a wristwatch!


P.S. It is also new, has some rough edges that need improvements, and it is getting improvements. Stay tuned.

©2014 Kent Borg.

Deleted (?) Tweet I Like

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

@counternotions tweeted:

I’m not smart enough to know why Windows collapsed, but I know in 2004 you couldn’t do business without it, but in 2014 you absolutely can.

Very interesting. It might not be completely true, but is it semi-true? Or maybe not quite yet.


Flies’ Eye Security Cameras

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Instead of pan and zoom cameras, cameras should be modeled on flies’ eyes. Multiple little fixed cameras with overlapping fields of view. Each camera is reasonable resolution (and cheap), the whole thing has very high resolution.

No need to steer any motors. Stitching together the images in the camera might save data rates, better quality and greater data compression if stitched first.

-kb, the Kent who hasn’t seen such a thing.

©2014 Kent Borg.

Mandela: I’m Honored to Have Been Alive While He Was

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

A man of strength, accomplishment, wisdom, and compassion. He certainly suffered, but he had some fun too, and lived long enough for many to consider him something akin to a living saint.

He was controversial, at the peak of the struggle against apartheid, Ronald Reagan and the United States government considered him more a terrorist than hero. I consider him akin to George Washington.

Wow. I am honored to have been on this earth while he was alive.

Thank you, sir.

Bitcoin “Deflationary Spiral”: Any worse than Berkshire Hathaway?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

When economists say bitcoin is at risk of a deflationary spiral (people hoarding the limited supply, having little incentive to spend today but always waiting until tomorrow), I wonder whether they are missing two key points?

Not a Monopoly Currency

When a country has an isolated economy and single official currency, the model is different from the environment of bitcoin.  (Economists love pure models that they can analyze, but that aren’t realistic, driving the old joke “reality is a special case”.) There will still be inflationary currencies in a world with bitcoin, just as there are still such currencies in a world where gold exists. Yes, gold acts funny when compared with currencies, and yes, people hoard it, but it still has function as just one of many ways to store wealth.

But gold is cumbersome and not very portable. All the bitcoin in existence could easily fit on a tiny micro SD card.

I guess I am saying that economists have a point, but is it a fatal flaw or just one property of bitcoin?

Slices into Very Thin Traunches

There is a feature of bitcoin that is unique in my knowledge of such things: it can be sliced really thinly.  As I write this 1 bitcoin is nearing a thousand dollars US.  This could be a cumbersomely large value for a more physical currency, but bitcoin can be used in really small fractions. The smallest transaction currently possible is 0.00000001 bitcoin (1 satoshi).  At today’s rough value, a thousandth of a US cent. If the value of bitcoin climbs a thousandfold, this is still just 1 penny.

If someday bitcoin gets to valuable that even this is too large, I am told the protocol could be changed to allow smaller fractions.

I know of no currency nor physical asset that has this property. Only artificially defined financial instruments can do this. (Imagine a derivative BRK.ZZ stock.)

What does this property do to the deflationary spiral, if one can always shave off a smaller and smaller slice to, well, maybe buy a shave?

-kb, the Kent who doesn’t own any bitcoin, yet.

© 2013 by Kent Borg

Cleveland Dungeon: What Punishment?

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Assuming he proves to be guilty, what should happen to Ariel Castro?

There are reports that at one point he considered suicide. Ironic. Maybe he felt trapped by his crime and was looking for a way out. But he didn’t have the guts.

He doesn’t deserve the death penalty, it would be doing him the favor that he wouldn’t do himself. Better the man who ran a private dungeon be put in his own cell and left to molder.

If ever there was a punishment that fits the crime, it is prison for this crime. Go ahead and make it a “supermax” prison, but put him in prison.


© 2013 by Kent Borg

Guns: But WHO Loves Them?

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

There is nothing more red-blooded-American than being a gun nut, right?  Patriotic, tyrant opposing, freedom loving, fundamentalist, God fearing, American!

That’s the PR.

Okay, what if brown-skinned men with heavy beards joined in? Show up at rallies. Testify before lawmakers, with thick accents even. Fundamentalists, Muslims fundamentalists! What would that do to gun PR?

Hmmm, it might just get a bunch of brown-skinned men with heavy beards killed. Might also break the spell that guns have over us.

-kb, the Kent who admits he is a troublemaker.

© 2013 by Kent Borg

As the protests spiral out of control across the world, who’s responsible for the lost lives? Filmmakers or those who spread misinformation?

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

My title is a tweet posted by @Ssirgany.

But I don’t think the answer fits in a tweet, so I have moved here.

Deaths are usually the responsibility of those who kill. There are cases of self-defense, probably a “just war”, and certainly a few other exceptions, but mostly killing is wrong and those who kill are in the wrong. That is a truth that cannot be forgotten when asking who is responsible.

So what of the original question? The filmmakers or those who fan their flames? The filmmaker is clearly trying to cause trouble, but maybe can claim some ignorance of the consequences. But the filmmaker can also just get on with life. There is initiative and effort here: this a damming consideration.

Those on the ground who are fanning the flames are really promoting the film, they can see the result of their actions. But maybe are more following their noses and just doing what they always do, they are following a role they have played before, they are caught up in a larger dynamic.

And that is the larger problem: Only a damaged people can be so easily provoked to act so stupidly. The blame for this is centuries of dictators, corruption, and injustice.

This is sensitive territory, so let me get myself in trouble in my own culture, too: In the United States we have had angry people riot and burn their own neighborhoods. They were wrong to do that, it was against their own interests, and it happened because they were a damaged people. In the case of the US, there were centuries of vicious crimes of slavery and discrimination. Recently we have shown some recovery, but we are still working on it.

Responsibility really comes back to those who are so angry: they need to heal, those who are in countries that are seeing new freedoms need to work to build civil society, education, and a sense of justice that has the patience to stop and consider. Rage is a poor guide.

The satirical publication The Onion posted an image this week about which they claimed no one died. It was a pornographic cartoon that insulted Jews, Christians, Bhuddists, and Hindus. It was eagerly tweeted about in the west, and indeed, no one seems to have died. No one got upset. Possibly some still will get upset, but it seems pretty quiet.

In the west this violence looks tragic, but also silly. “Has the Islamic world been quiet for a few weeks? We just have to shake a new religious cartoon at them and watch them kill each other!” Like taunting a frustrated child, cruel and too easy.

Yes, it is wrong to stir up such trouble, but the Islamic world should seek the wisdom and poise to ignore stupidity. I fear it will take many years.

-kb, the Kent who admits he has a limited western perspective.

Nexus Gripes: Very Few

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

I have a new Galaxy Nexus phone and a new Nexus 7 tablet.

The Nexus name is for Android devices that have Google’s version of Android software, without and other add-ons by manufacturers or phone companies.

In the case of these two devices, they did a good job, I recommend them.

My gripes are minor:

  • The power jacks are on the bottom edge of each, but one is flipped from the orientation of the other. The plug should go in the same on both, and it does not.
  • The speaker on the phone is not as loud as on my old Nexus One phone. I sometimes use the phone like a transistor radio of old, but it is too quiet.
  • It would be nice if the battery on phone lasted longer than it does, but the phone is nicely thin and doesn’t weigh too much, so I am getting demanding now.  And, unlike a lot of phones, the battery is replaceable, I can carry a second one.

Very nice gizmos. Very pleased with them.