Heh. Well, the morning I wrote that last entry, my order for a desktop WAS in at Staples. Then I looked at the laptop right next to it in the ad – same i5 chip, same amt. of memory, pretty much the same specs – but a laptop!
So I went there that day and got the order stopped and … well, first I was going to try a Lenovo Ultrabook that was about the same price on clearance, but they couldn’t even get the screen to turn on right. So I went with the Z580 IdeaPad (like that name – sorta inspiring!)
And it’s really nice, and while I’m still chained to the news, so to speak, at least I’m on a longer leash – already have had several nights where I’ve been downstairs with Deb instead of cloistered (trapped!) in my home office. (I just have to turn the police scanner up and … it’s another reason to mute the commercials.)
And it takes like 10 seconds to plug or unplug the USB, monitor, keyboard, power and audio hookups and free as a bird. Battery lasts, oh, probably 4-5 hours. Nice big 16-inch bright screen. Lovely!
Just one problem, and having read the otherwise glowing reviews, I saw that coming — the touchpad and its Win8 issues – mainly that when I’m on the desktop side of things, sudden mouse movements quite often bring up the Charms (settings, search etc.) on right side – and even drop me back to TileWorld (that’s what David Pogue of NY Times in his great ‘Missing Manual’ book on Win8 calls the colorful live-tile interface formerly known as Metro or Modern). Only one keystroke to get back to what I was doing but … grr. Thinking about grabbing Start8, software from Stardock – not that I need the Start menu back, but because other efforts to change the touchpad settings haven’t resolved it for me any better than many others venting and kvetching.
So nothing’s perfect. But I do like my new traveling companion.
Oh, and here’s weird – other day I woke up with a very painful pinky finger on my right hand (shades of when I broke my little toe bashing it into a doorframe going to the bathroom 25 or so years ago). Fortunately, it wasn’t broken, just a minor strain that after a day and a half or so was feeling much better.
(As my UPI boss told me on that long-ago injury after a few days off to hobble around – ‘You don’t type with your toes!” But the pinky? It’s sorta nice to have working;-)
Heh. Well, the morning I wrote that last entry, my order for a desktop WAS in at Staples. Then I looked at the laptop right next to it in the ad – same i5 chip, same amt. of memory, pretty much the same specs – but a laptop!
They used to be beige, now they’re black. All the ports were in back, now some are in front. And by my reckoning, they are still the best ‘bang for the buck,’ in terms of the fastest chip, most memory etc. you can get for a sub-$1,000 price.
I speak of the lowly desktop computer, which if you step into any tech-related store now, like Staples (a personal favorite), you know has quickly become the Rodney Dangerfield no-respect former star of the computing world, now far more attracted to tablets and smartphones and big-for-pocket hybrid “phablets” and desktop all-in-one big-screen wonders.
So it’s with mixed emotions that I am replacing, at a fairly average point, my 3.5-year-old, almost-Windows 7 when I bought it (free upgrade when it came out a month or so later) HP desktop with a Lenovo (have one at work, all-in-one that is, and like it a lot) Intel latest (but not greatest, who can afford that?) Intel Core I5 speedier roomier (huh? A terabyte? I still have 450 of my 600-gig HD free anyway!) black box tower.
To find the formerly starring tower boxes at our friendly neighborhood Staples, look down – below the latest Windows 8 still-too-pricey touchscreen all-in-ones (that have cheaper chips, less memory etc.) — they have at most three black boxes on display, and they are … close to the floor. In fact, the Lenovo H430 I’m getting got primarily nice reviews at their and Best Buy’s site by purchasers – no actual ‘reviews’ out there in Webland, I’ve looked – that’s OK, the trusty PC I’m saying farewell to got bleh reviews in 2009.
I spend so much time kicking out the news in my home office, my wife and I have come to refer to it as the Vortex – a time-suck of the first degree. Escaping it takes some doing.
But things are changing. A lot fewer programs need to move from old PC to new these days, since so much work goes on via browsers, in ‘the cloud,’ as opposed to discrete programs on the PC. Data, sure – when your phone is a good camera, the amount of images grows.
So the computer I got because the power button broke on my last PC – seriously — is one of the first to go when it’s still trundling along. I’ll at least recycle it, though it’d be nice to find someone who wants to make use of it after the hard drive is wiped clean. I bet it’d have a few years of good use left in it.
It’s done me well, and I believe the new one will as well. They are just a tool, but for someone like me, oh so important. I don’t name them or anything. But they connect me the world, in ways unimaginable a few years or decades ago.
Which reminds me – does it ever feel really, really weird to say that we’re in 2013? I mean, shouldn’t we have our Jetson cars-that-fold-into-briefcases by now? And when you can work anywhere at any time, how hard is it for you to stop working? As for me… don’t ask;-)
A rally on climate change was held in Bend Sunday.
For a moment, I’d like you to step back from your personal views on the topic and consider this perspective: You are the reporter, or the editor who assigned such a story.
In some cases, such a rally brings out counter-demonstrators with a different perspective.
In this case, however, there was none. Turnout was … well, we said “dozens,” so let’s say about 50 folks.
So … as reporter/editor, do you go seeking out people with other perspectives to “balance” the story? And if you do, do you include a line or two from them, or scrupulously make the story 50-5o? (On a holiday-weekend Sunday when you are unlikely to be able to reach many of the experts on the other side? Not that anyone at the rally claimed to be an expert.)
Or do you just tell of the rally, how many were there, and some of their views?
(Or say the rally was for or against … new immigration policies. For or against new gun regulations, or abortion, or any other incendiary, one side-never-will-convince-the-other-side issue.)
Or do you not cover the rally at all, because it’s inherently one-sided?
I personally think you report what happened, and it’s as high or low in your lineup of stories as the rest of the day’s news suggests. Then, when people on the other side hold their rally or gathering, you strive to give it similar treatment. Not “equal.” That’s too precise a measurement for messy humans.
We’re not robots. We don’t count words or syllables. If one side in one of these seemingly never-ending disputes is better organized, it’s not our job to help the other side organize – but it could be our job to note, factually, that lack of organization. Right? The loudest voice shouldn’t always win, but neither should the quietest, just because we consider them “right.”
Someone who’s a regular on our Website’s comments threw out the line, “Whatever happened to real journalism”?
I argued that there’s just as much of it out there as there ever was — even more so, perhaps, in the world of the Internet.
What has changed, far more, is for many, is the partisan nature of the prism through which they view journalism.
If a story doesn’t include their perspective, or their favorite caustic stat or antidote to hurl at the other side, it’s not “objective.”
Talk-show hosts get more hours per week than anyone else to rail against the “mainstream,” “lamestream” media — as if they aren’t part of it. Oh no, they are the “balance” against it.
We get complaints, like all media these days, of being on the president’s side. Others, meanwhile, claim some large corporations dictate what we cover and how, and what to ignore.
It seems there’s barely any room for civil debate and discussion any more — in a world of walking on eggshells and avoiding landmines.
Perhaps Congress and the president are so sharply split only as a reflection of a sharply divided nation, with everyone frustrated but the partisans dug deep into their foxholes, ready to fire at anything that moves. (With words, not bullets, of course.)
But I should hasten to add that our goal is to not let the relatively small number of fierce partisans on both/all sides of these tough, complex issues mislead us into thinking that the majority of our viewers and readers agree with them and disdain our work. Because thankfully, there are glorious occasional glimpses of just what the (Nixon phrase warning) silent majority think, and it’s frustration, for sure – but as much with the discussion-hijackers and the flamethrowers as the policymakers and the govt. bureaucrats who are just trying to do their jobs and help folks.
I’ve been at this gig for a long time, and I know how the blossoming of social media has given folks who used to write occasional pithy letters to the editor or complain loudly over the phone a new megaphone in which to try to take over the discussion and verbally beat the other side into submission … as everyone else walks away, frustrated and disgusted.
I just hope and pray that the signal of democracy — messy but vital — isn’t drowned out permanently by the noise of the haters. (I may do a bumper sticker one day: ‘To BLAME is to B-LAME.” That’s my Blame Society slogan of the day;-) Because if all we care about is “winning” and proving the ones on the other side of this or that incendiary issue are not just wrong or misled, but evil incarnate… we’ll all lose. Big-time.
Some would say that ship has sailed, that we’re already lost. I hope and pray they’re wrong.
My employer was kind enough to provide me with an iPad – something I hadn’t exactly drooled over, but had been mighty curious about. (I’d probably have gotten an Android tablet if it were my dollars, since they are tight in the situation of my wife’s unemployment, but even that wasn’t an option, so I’m very grateful).
As I count it, that means I have eight screens I deal with regularly – my smartphone, an HTC Inspire that I still feel closest to, literally, the iPad, my year-old trusty fun Nook Tablet, my home and work PCs, my still-neat Toshiba Netbook , our living room TV and my upstairs home-office TV – oh, and add the 4 TVs on the newsroom wall and we’re up to 12 (though I’m usually more zoned into my work PC there than any of the various channels we tune in at various times – except ours of course;-)
So in this World of Doing More with Less, just how thin can one spread one’s self, screen-wise?
I have to admit, the iPad is one smooth gadget – to use the phrase I prefer to appliance, or even tablet. Gadget is closer to toy, as in fun, and unless I can see that the Website’s content management system really can work on it — so far, I doubt it – it’s more like my phone with a bigger screen, or my PC with a smaller one and no keyboard except the one that has no tactile feedback, something I’ve grown accustomed to.
But it sure feels like a smooth-running high-end device, not the bushel of compromises some other gadgets or toys or tools of my past have felt like. I get why Apple has its ‘walled garden’ – to control quality (and make many dollars in the process) — in nearly 30 years of owning a PC, when asked why I didn’t have anything Apple, I usually said something on the order of, “If I were rich enough I’d have both.” And I would have, if only to, as they say in college, “compare and contrast,” and use each for its strengths.
But technology is a friend that has tested so many friends’ patience of late. Big “upgrades” at the station lately, and for months that has meant a high-wire act for those far more responsible than I am for getting the shows on the air each night. Things work, except when they don’t. We miss features or work flows (or shortcuts) we had and wonder why some new ones exist.
These days, every upgrade, however well-intentioned, feels like 2 steps forward, 3 steps back, 2 steps sideways and twirl until you’re dizzy (or read the manual, or visit the support forum). Know what I mean?
There are those who’d say we’re just resistant to change. I say the world is getting very tired of upgrades that mess with our well-established work paths and habits, and take away or mess up features we depend on in order to add gee-whiz things we never said we wanted.
It often feels like in this Doing More with Less World, everyone is a beta tester, and everyone is a proofreader (magazines and books with typos? Because most likely of fewer editors tasked with doing more — tweet this, Facebook that and proofread this article! — in a shorter period of time. Something has to give, and quite often, alas, it’s a feeling of quality. Every typo – and I make my share, for sure – is a little pebble in the shoe of a reader, a sign that we’re all Doing More with Less and suffering in the end for it.
So as I deck out my new iPad with the right bookmarks (Safari’s not bad!) and apps (free of course, mostly news of course), I definitely feel I’ve reached my Screen Limit. I often have to fight The Vortex, as my wife and I have called my all-consuming job, to stop doing it one place (home or work) so I can take a break before doing some more of it (at work or home).
This year is Deb and my 30th anniversary (she’s put up with me for that long? Is there a Nobel Prize for that?) and while we dream of Hawaii, we will make it to the coast, or to visit some relatives. And yes, 2-3 of those screens will come along, but I will be more relaxed, not less, knowing I can check in when I want to. And then put it away. Deb’s orders.
Some things never change. Decades ago, Deb waited for me to do “one more thing” after “one more thing” at the UPI bureau in Portland so we could head home. But at home – before cell phones (and long before we gave up our land line) – I still was able to turn off work for the most part. Now, there’s always more to do. Always.
Some things never change. I hope I can, just enough to make it to 40 years (or gasp, 50!) with the woman I love.
That’s one reason I call them toys, or gadgets. To put them in their rightful place, at least for the moment – as servants, not masters of my hours and days and life.
Call it a rationalization. We all have them, to get by and stave off insanity, depression etc.
Screening the world on so many screens can screen out life. I have to keep reminding myself of that.
Happy 2013, everybody!
If Friday wasn’t an emotional day for you and those close to you, you weren’t paying attention. And that just might have been a better path to take, all things considered.
There’s no way anyone was indifferent about the awful events in Newton, Conn. The very idea, the mental image of innocent children felled by a madman’s bullets in their rural classroom, less than 2 weeks before Christmas, stokes every type of negative emotion known to man.
As moderator, ringleader, babysitter and bite-my-tongue occasional commenter on KTVZ.COM’s online comments, years of experience gave me a good sense where the comments would go — human nature being what it is.
But as the guy who sometimes castigates those who seem to champion one extreme or the other in the Blame Society of today (2 bumper sticker slogans of mine: ‘To BLAME is to B-LAME,’ or ‘Blame the Blamers — Hate the Haters’) — the rekindled gun control debate, I can understand.
The notion that it’s ‘the media’s fault’ for paying too much attention to the event or for ‘glorifying’ the perpetrator, thus ensuring more such incidents, isn’t just a simple answer — but a simplistic one that fails to hold water when one examines the options as expressed.
So of course I had to ask someone who voiced that view what he would have us media folks do? Ignore such a mass tragedy? Report everything but who did it and his or her background? Really?
The response was a suggestion of leaving that part of the story blank, as the Tour de France list of winners will be forever more for the races won by Lance Armstrong before he was stripped of his titles in that doping scandal.
But talk about apples and oranges! Armstrong is still a household name – rightly famous to his stalwart fans, now infamous to those not so close to the matter who figure where there’s so much smoke…
That’s not the same as “un-covering” (censoring?) a key part of a tremendously awful story that grips the nation’s attention. We search for clues in the madman’s past, in hopes that there will be a clue that can prevent future tragedies (knowing the odds of finding such magical clues are slim at best). And yes, for some, the details satisfy some morbid curiosity in the celeb-fame world of today. Just try putting THAT genie back in the bottle!
Madmen (and women) have existed since practically when we stepped out of the Garden of Eden. Long before guns, many died on the battlefields, and elsewhere. We have no corner on insanity, but for some reason we have cloaked the Five Stages of Grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — in the dubious twin cloaks of ‘who can we blame?’ and its corollary, ‘how can we prevent it from ever happening again (or so much)?”
And if we can’t solve/fix it, today, then we must blame … the gun, the reporter (don’t shoot the messenger?), somebody! I really, truly believe that most of us know better, but lashing out or trying to “fix” the problem, striking when the iron’s hot, feels too good to resist.
I spent much of my younger life trying to “fix” a broken family, foolishly (hey, born on April Fool’s Day). I’m lucky I don’t have an ulcer to show for it (though my older brother did;-/
The answers, I’m afraid, are, there’s really only one person to blame — and he’s dead — and there’s only so much society can do to prevent such tragedies. (Metal detectors in every school? Police in every hallway? Schools turned into what airports have become? Really?)
I do fear today’s more-connected, yet less-connected at the same time society leaves more people feeling alone than in the days of nuclear families and neighbors you knew. But again, to look for some sweeping movement, law, policy or groupthink that could reverse that trend is a fool’s game — and again, wouldn’t ‘fix’ the problem, prevent the tragedies.
The extremes and those who live there play us, the truth-, solution- and peace-seeking folks in the middle, and all too often we go along and get spun (or just simply disengage, give up on the debate out of frustration).
Anyone who dares suggest that maybe it should be a bit harder to get a gun is quickly branded by some as an unpatriotic rube who wants to rip every firearm out of Americans’ hands so the jack-booted thugs can have their way with us.
And those who believe, for example, that the answer is more people with guns in public places, or having every youngster learn responsible use of a firearm — again, those would seem to be simple, even simplistic answers that seem at best unworkable, at worst ludicrous. If only because a sizable chunk of parents would rebel at the very notion. But the notion of “doing away with the NRA”) (or unions, or the party you don’t like) also feels like spleen-venting rather than actual workable proposals or a starting point for rational discussion.
I think those who believe we don’t direct enough attention and dollars toward mental health treatment are on a far more promising tack — though again, there’s no such thing as a 100 percent “solution” to the mind that can snap, without any signs of it before to the outside world. (Not unless we enter a world of “Minority Report” pre-cognition and enlist folks to prevent crimes before they happen. A horror film come to life.)
I bet most reporters involved in covering Friday’s awful events were conflicted — the adrenaline pumps over “the big story,” but I seriously doubt any of the people involved ever expected to be interviewing children — at their parents’ sides, of course — about “bullets whizzing by.” No mind can insulate itself fully from the sick feeling at the pit of one’s stomach over not just the awful events, but how familiar — even, ugh, routine — they have become.
We take daily routines and life for granted because we are a resilient species and most of us don’t, thank God, spend every day of our lives fighting for survival — though with my wife still seeking work, at what’s supposed to be a joyous time of year, I also know how the economic woes we have fallen into remove much of the … lubrication from the gears of society, causing them to grind, spark and occasionally burst into flame.
(Speaking of the economy and tight, tough times, the fiscal cliff — now there’s something to “fix” that shows just how hard it can be to “fix” obvious problems, when the best “solution” to those directly involved is to never give in and blame the other side for being childish, stubborn and 100 percent wrong. Sigh.)
So the “how many children have to die before we…(fill in the blank)” crowd can be seen as using an awful tragedy to make their point, in a way that frustrates all but probably sways few if any minds troubled by the horrifying events.
In my job as a reporter, I often tell people I rarely if ever have the answers — I just try very hard to come up with the right questions — and to know who to ask. (I also tell folks I have no memory, only Google and archives – and they only go so far. But that’s a topic for a different, happier day.)
But on days like this, I believe we should excuse each other for asking the chief unanswerable question — why?? — because that’s what we imperfect humans do.
And when we watch and read the heart-wrenching tales of heroes and lives cut short, not to mention reams of analysis that are no doubt coming our way in coming days about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, it seems to me the best way we can honor, respect and salute the innocent children lost, and the bereaved parents, families and friends, is to think before we vent or blame, to resist those who would use this tragedy for their own political ends, to better balance the pain in our hearts with the logic in our heads that says grasping at simple answers in the frustration-born, all too human desire to “do something!” is a shortcoming that really, deep down inside … we know is never, ever that simple.
We got new desks in the newsroom this week.
Big whoop you say? Well, they are a grand step up from what we had, let me tell ya.
We’ve had one of our periodic waves of staff turnover this year in the newsroom — not unusual for small-market TV stations. But it also scrubs the “institutional memory” of just how far we’ve come in a few short years.
When I started at KTVZ back in early 2005, we had a half-hour 6pm news. The newsroom was cramped and in dire need of updating. We had a few cameras, a few cars, a few reporters and no full-time photographers.
That was early in News-Press and Gazette Co.’s ownership of the station, just after we moved on from Z-21 (boy does that stick) to NewsChannel 21.
We have come a long, long way. I wish my somewhat aging home computer was as good as the newer all-in-one now on my new desk at work. We have 2 full-time photographers, a brand-new master control system, a brand-new editing system, a really full-of-fine-folks newsroom and much to be proud of.
Of course, much of the behind-the-scenes stuff isn’t noticed — or is only noticed during the inevitable hiccups that happen with any big technical upgrade these days. Many companies wrestle behind the scenes with such matters. Ours is just more … public than others.
We’ve had fleets of engineers and techs flown in from afar, working to do what so many companies face challenges with – getting stuff from different vendors to work together as well as they should. (Heck, sometimes it’s hard enough to get one company’s products working right with each other.)
So… all of this came to mind today as I read Bulletin Editor-in-Chief John Costa’s column on changes happening at the paper and more to come to deal with its struggle in today’s economy — and with the changing tastes of readers and viewers. For example, I’m reading more great, fun, interesting magazines than ever – but all on my Nook Tablet. Change happens, and we all struggle mightily to keep up.
Newspapers, like other media,were blessed with the traditional every 2 (or 4) year bump in political advertising (like it or, well…). But those kinds of fairly dependable things (like the Olympics) are factored into corporate budgets. What we really all need is a sustained recovery, and, one must hope, some leadership among our leaders to actually get tough problems solved and give businesses a reason to confidently invest in the future.
I’ve never been prouder of where I work or the people I work with. We’ve seen some great people move on to bigger and better things (one of the more visible – Chris Warren on The Weather Channel! Now owned by NBC, who’da thunk. And what’s with TWC deciding that all big storms need names? Sheesh. But I digress, as usual.;-)
As we await a whole new graphics look on the station and more improvements (and more getting stuff to work right — THANKS for the many long days and nights, to our stalwart engineers!) – I just wanted to offer a reminder that much happens behind the scenes – and when it works right, you’ll never notice the improvements that will, for example, make more of our syndicated shows come to you in crisp, clear HD.
If that sounds like puffy corporate-PR-speak, oh well, please forgive a bit of chest-thumping. Just wanted you to know.
I don’t care as much about Election Day as the day after, and the four years after.
I have blogged quite a bit about the Blame Society over the years. And yes, presidential politics have been a nasty, brutish sport since men wore wigs and stockings.
But if we come out of this nasty election with a nation split down the middle, and a government seemingly paralyzed as a result, Lord help us.
Will whoever wins find a Magic Key to get people on Capitol Hill working with the White House? Will the opposing party in general try to prevent the new (or re-elected) president from getting anything done, or try to find room for compromise?
So many folks are angry at The Evil Other Side that many others are scared to death of continued paralysis and inability to tackle serious problems, from the deficit to … well one of my last dead-trees editions of Bloomberg Businessweek has a black-and-red cover shouting ‘IT’S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID” over a picture of flooded Manhattan.
We’re so busy trying to blame that we can’t seem to remember how to give-and-take, compromise and deal with issues that stare us in the proverbial face.
Just about every time I lay that out to folks, I’m looked at by some as some naive pathetic Kumbaya-singing wishy-washy flip-flopper.
I know better. I’m as damned angry as they are. But I’m angry at THEM, both sides, for letting it get to this point. To believe that Your Side is the Chosen Good Guys and anyone who doesn’t agree is evil — that is a new low we seem to have come to, in that we now all have, through the Internet, ady access to the carefully spun “facts” that buttress our biases and rain evil motives on those who dare disagree.
Imagine if the Founding Fathers had Facebook and anonymous comment systems to fling THEIR mud. Would we still have a functioning country today?
Do we now? And who do you blame for that? More importantly, what are you willing to do to make it better?
I don’t believe people are turned off to politics because they believe all of them are lying, cheating scoundrels — well, some are, of course — as much as they’ve thrown up their hands at all involved for being childish clenched-fist whiners who see political (and probably financial) advantage in doing more blaming than solving, more chest-beating than sitting down at a table with the Other Side and seeing if there’s room for … gasp … COMPROMISE!
That there are huge lines in Florida and Ohio, hours-long waits for folks wanting to vote is a TRAVESTY, whether you believe it’s Your Side or The Other Side behind it. It’s one thing to struggle with a massive storm’s aftermath and its impact on the voting process, but playing politics with people’s right to vote should be unconscionable, no matter what way your personal political weathervane spins.
So. Day after the election. Win or lose. What will YOU be saying, in person or at your keyboard?
If that depends on who wins, than I daresay that mindset is as much the problem as … who wins.
IMHO (In My Not-So-Humble Opinion;-)