Why Doesn’t Google Fix Its Obvious Flaw?

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, February 5, 2016

Yesterday I searched Google for a book review of All the Birds in the Sky  by Charlie Jane Anders. I carefully created a search request that would give me exactly what I wanted.

           “all the birds in the sky” review anders

Yesterday it returned 37,500 links. Today it returns 38,900. If I take out the quotes around the book’s title it returns 461,000. If I add “book” to the search request and keep the quotes it returns 41,100. This is absolutely ridiculous.

Google_-G-_Logo.svg

If Google was as smart as it should be, the returns should be something like 78 or 123, or if there’s really a lot of book reviewers in this world, maybe 478. I can’t imagine that a book released two weeks ago should have garnered that many significant reviews, even counting bloggers, and I was wanting good blog reviews.

I’m reading All the Birds in the Sky and wanted to know what other people thought of it. I wanted significant reviews where readers pondered the implications of the story. Some of the returns on the first pages gave me what I wanted, but even those pages were cluttered with links to sites that weren’t book reviews. And I discovered that some review sites only give a minimum description of the book, as if the book hadn’t been read, but merely summarized by an overworked journalist, or composed by one of those new AI content creators that can crank out narrative that looks like it was written by a human.

Many of the returns were like this one “Babe of the Day – Penelope Cruz…” that had no information about the book. But there is a mention of the book in this guy’s blog links column.

Google’s AI should have been smart enough to know this site wasn’t a book review. Google’s AI should be smart enough to know that most of those 38,900 links aren’t book reviews either. Hell, I gave it a helpful hint by putting in the world “review” in the search query. Any half-ass AI should know that the words in the quotes is a book title, and the last word is the author’s last name.

I have to assume that offering me 38,850 links I don’t need helps Google make money. Google, the reason I gave up cable TV is because it made me pay for hundreds of channels I never watched. I don’t think I can cut the cord with Google. Bing gave me 5,600,000 results on the same query. Duck Duck Go doesn’t tell me how many returns it finds, but it does check mark some of its returns, as if “hint hint” these are the ones you really want. Their results come in a continuous scroll, so there’s no telling how many results there are.

Here is the search query I’d like to use with Google:

       “all the birds in the sky” review anders words>600 –notbuying

Google would know I wanted book reviews containing more than 600 words. Also, it would know I didn’t want to see any sites selling the book, so don’t bother sending me sites trying to sell the book. Of course if their AI was really sharp, I should be able to ask for:

       Give me significant reviews of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.

And it would.

JWH

Living in the Cloud: Going Google with iGoogle

I’ve been using Google for years.  Then Google gave us Gmail.  It’s not my main email client, but I use it.  Then Google gave us Picasa, Chrome, YouTube, Music, Picnik, Maps, Earth, Reader, Google+, and over time I’ve become Googlefied.

I started storing content on the net with Gopher and began developing web pages when Mosaic came out.  I’ve always kept my favorite bookmarks on a file I coded in HTML and used it as my home page in all my browsers.  I had set up iGoogle years ago but never really committed to it because I loved my own homely home page.

This morning I started playing iGoogle again and decided to make it my home page for Chrome.  Chrome is my default browser at home, but I also use IE 9, FireFox and on rare occasions Safari.

We’re all moving to the cloud.  Some people might not know it yet, but we’re all moving to the cloud.  Any device with a IP address is on the Internet.  Programs and content stored on devices you own are local.  If you store you primary copy of data off your local device you’re living in the cloud.  Most people find that scary.  I do too, although I’m willing to give it a try, so I’m moving my data to the cloud but I’m keeping backups local.  Think of me as a belt and suspenders man, at least for now.

I’m going to write a series of posts about living in the cloud and review programs and services that I find worthwhile.  My first step is exploring Google’s cloud offerings.  I’ve already put my songs in Google Music.  I can play them on my PCs, Mac and Linux boxes at work and home, and on my iPod touch and iPad.  I’ve also started uploading my photos to Picasa’s online storage.

The thing about moving to the cloud is committing to a company that hosts the servers.  The big choices now are Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.  The first three also have their own browsers.  (Maybe Amazon should align itself with FireFox.)  I have content with all four companies, and moving to the cloud implies I expect these companies to stay in business for the rest of my life.  I’m not sure which company will become my primary cloud home, but I’m going to test them all.

I’m starting with Google, and to show my commitment I’m setting iGoogle as my default home page.  It allows me to customize my home page extensively with a variety of widgets.  Here’s my first effort.

iGoogle

Because Google is pushing Google+, it’s revamped it’s many separate tools into a toolbar that Googlifies everything. 

From this home page I can search Google and Wikipedia, click on links to my favorite sites, see Gmail, RSS feeds, weather info, do math, get driving directions, search YouTube, and every thirty seconds be visually reminded of a different moment of the past.  Plus, I have a pull-down menu to a vast array of other Google features.  If I click on the photo it takes me to Picasa web, where I can click on a photo edit button that brings up the wonders of Picnik photo editing.   All the companies that Google has bought over the years is finally coming together in one command center. 

Oddly enough, there’s no widget for Google Music.  Google needs to add a Google Music Player widget.  If I kept my Chrome window opened to full-screen I could even use 4 columns of widgets.  iGoogle provides very flexible screen layout options and colorful themes. 

iGoogle is a cloud portal tool, a feature that Microsoft, Amazon and Apple don’t have, and puts them at a disadvantage.  This matters a lot if you’re using multiple computers, and too a lesser degree if you’re using smartphones and tablets.  I have a PC, HTPC and Linux workstation at home, and a PC, Mac and Linux workstation at work, plus I have two mobile devices, an iPod touch and iPad.  This provides a tremendous incentive to put my digital possessions  in the cloud.  My photos and music are available to all my devices at any location.

I have Microsoft Office on my PCs and Mac, and have a nice Outlook client on my iPod and iPad, and hope to have Office apps on my iPad soon.  I’m very Microsoft centric when it comes to productivity programs, and Microsoft offers various Live apps that are starting to compete with Google’s cloud tools, but it doesn’t have a portal like iGoogle.  I can store photos on SkyDrive but it’s not the same.  Microsoft has no cloud music like Amazon and Apple does.  But it is obvious that Microsoft is getting serious about the cloud.

Amazon and Apple are really lacking when it comes to furnishing a cloud home base.  They are more like mini-storage rental sites, where they will keep all my junk.  Amazon’s portal is it’s front page, and Apple’s portal is iCloud, but it’s home page is very limited compared to iGoogle.  (How did Apple let Google have the i-name?)  Apple assumes people live on their iPhone, iPad and iMac, and everything else doesn’t matter, but I’m not ready to ditch Windows, Linux and Android.

iGoogle isn’t slick like Apple products.  It’s not even as slick as Microsoft programming.  I’m hoping some of the technology they bought with Picnik might jazz up Google’s cloud apps in the future.  iGoogle is good for people who want to work over the widest range of platforms.  If you’re a Apple true believer, it won’t matter.  If you’re totally devoted to Amazon and Kindle, it might not matter.  But if you live in a world of PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, then it’s well worth a look.

Not only does living in the cloud offer cross-platform sharing of data, it also backs up data.  If your house burns down, your digital belongings are in the cloud.  Eventually I want to replicate my data across two or more cloud servers to have even more protection, in case one company goes out of business or suffers a prolong outage.  Switching to iGoogle is just the start.

JWH – 1/22/12

Google+ versus Facebook

Having two competing social networks is a problem.  Logically, you’d like everyone to be at one location for convenience.  Until recently, it looked liked Facebook was going to be the universal social network.  I’m not much of a Facebook user, but I can’t quit it either.  Too many friends, old acquaintances and relatives are on Facebook, so it’s easy to keep an eye on everybody.  Facebook is actually much better than snail-mail letters, postcards and Christmas cards at keeping track of people.  In fact I often wish all my relatives would use Facebook.  Facebook actually makes me feel closer to people.  Then came Google+.

google-plus-logo

Google+ has a few nifty new features, some a touch better than Facebook, but to make Google+ practical I’d need all my Facebook friends to move over to Google+ and that would be rude to ask.  Many people I know on Facebook are computer phobic, and it took them a long time to learn Facebook.  Getting them to switch would be cruel.

What to do?  What if Google+ is a superior tool?  What if we all move over to Google+ and Apple or Microsoft came out with an even better product?  Do hundreds of millions of people then move again to another new system?  Given time wouldn’t Facebook add the features we all want anyway?

Mike Elgan is fanatically campaigning for Google+  and currently 374,958 people have him in one of their circles.  Google+ definitely has more geek cred than Facebook, which makes me think I should use Facebook for people I know in real life and use Google+ as a geeky hangout for people I met over the Ethernet.

There are many things to consider.  Is social networking a fad?  Many pundits and friends have already abandon Facebook.  On the other hand, I can only imagine Facebook becoming better and more valuable over time.  Does that mean we should all stick with Facebook because of its initial momentum?  Are we already stuck with Facebook forever?

Mike Elgan claims Google+ can replace our email systems too and that Google+ can become a central hub for all kinds of communications Facebook doesn’t do and the average user doesn’t understand yet.  At least I don’t.

Which is more secure?  Which is more natural at organizing levels of relationships?  Which offers the most features I’d actually use?  Which is easier to use?  Which can be customized more?  And most important, which has fewer ads?  I hate ads.  I don’t have the answers, but I’m trying to find out.

And one last interesting tidbit.  Facebook isn’t indexed on search engines, whereas Google+ is indexed on Google, Bing and others.  Facebook is a closed system, and that’s appealing, I think.  Then again, should you ever put anything private and personal on any computer system?

JWH – 1/10/12

Ad Pollution

In these bad economic times, it might be heresy to attack marketing, but advertising is starting to crush my innate cheery disposition.  The web is being choked with ads, reducing the signal-to-noise ratio so low that many sites and searches are worthless.  Google, the darling of weberati, whose motto is “don’t be evil,” has become corrupted by advertising revenue.  Slashdot.org should stop making Borg allusions about Microsoft, and start making them about Google.  Too often a search on Google leads to page after page of links to sites wanting to sell me something directly, or links that take me to honey-pot pages, with tiny bits of info nestled in large screen acreage of ads.  For the most part, I’ve replaced the World Wide Web with Wikipedia when I’m searching for knowledge.

I stopped listening to the radio decades ago because of advertising and annoying disc jockeys.  I can only watch TV because of PBS, HBO and DVRs.  I know people who have stopped watching television altogether because of the advertisements.  I’m quickly approaching the decision to stop going to movies because of advertisements.  The only place I don’t mind advertising is the Sunday newspaper, but I feel guilty about all that wasted paper.  Shouldn’t there be a better way?

There are sites on the web that will reward or pay you for looking at ads.  What we need are systems to bring ads to us when we need and want them.  There are times when I’m shopping that I would be open to sales pitches, and I wouldn’t even mind an AI shopping companion.  Marketing really should be on the basis of don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Are ads really effective?  Sure, sometimes.  Those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” TV mini-dramas from Apple are effective at making me hate them for selling misinformation and promoting style. I’ve never bought a Mac.  Microsoft is miserable at creating ads, and I always buy their products?  Neither decision has anything to do with advertising.  When I want to buy something, I research it, and then look for the most convenient place to shop with the lowest prices.  And how often do you see ads on TV selling on the basis of price?  I suppose if Apple ran ads that said, “Buy the latest Mac Book with the hi-tech aluminum cases for $899,” I might rush out and buy one.  Instead they sell comedy on TV, without mentioning the details of their products, or the price of the one I want.  Me to Apple, if you want “me” to be a Mac, then sell that $1299 Mac Book for $899, and I’ll come visit your store.

My point is I’ll buy something I’ve studied if the price is right.  The rest of the time I’m just avoiding ads like I avoid mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, germs and viruses.  Of course, the real test of reality is whether or not the various forms of mass communication could exist without advertising.

If there were no advertising, how many television channels would we have?  How many TV shows would exist?  How many college sports programs would exist?  How many professional sports teams would exist?  Can you imagine racing cars without their advertising paint jobs?  HBO and PBS exist without advertising and have outstanding programs.

I’m not alone in my aversion to advertising.  It’s obvious some big economic bubbles have burst this year, and I’m wondering if the advertising bubble will not burst soon too?  As we move into a world-wide recession we’re going to see a lot of companies cut their advertising budgets.  Unless there is real proof that ads bring in dollars, companies will start seeing how naked their marketing programs really are, and close them down.  Recession has a way of cutting out the fat, and mean vicious recessions, like I’m guessing we’re moving into, trims away every gram of grease.

I would like to see more marketing along the HBO model.  I’d rather pay $5 or $10 a month per channel for a handful of quality channels, and abandon all the rest.  I’d rather pay a subscription fee to an online digital magazine if they could provide me the content without the advertising.  Theater owners and movie distributors need to cut the ads before people give up on going to the movies.  And that’s for three reasons.  One I hate seeing the ads.  Two I hate people trying to find seats at the last moment trying to avoid the ads.  And three, I hate that they waste my Saturday afternoon time.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are occasions when I want ads.  I’ve been meaning to buy some new shirts, and have wished I could get some stylish ones that fit better.  My wife complains about the constant boring shirts I wear now.  I wouldn’t mind going to a web site and telling it I’m in the mood to buy shirts and then see some healthy competition to market me new styles, especially if I had more choice in sizing and material.

I don’t know what to do about the web.  I can’t believe that all those web pages with Google ads really make enough money to pay their bills.  I was just researching on optical astronomical interferometers and I couldn’t believe the “Ads by Google” signs I was seeing on pages with links to scientific papers.  The reality is we have too many web sites trying to direct us to too few places with real content by paying for their useless help with web ads.  Go away.  Please, turn of your servers, and go away.  If you try to make money on the web by solely linking to other sites, you are worthless.  Google and other top level search engines can do all that work.

Comment to Microsoft, if you want to beat Google, offer a search engine that is based on subscription income and only provides links to 100% content.  I can’t guarantee it will work, but if you offered such a service for $19.95 a year, and you filtered out all commercial web pages, you might have an alternative to Google.  If I’m sick enough of Google’s commercial results and willing to pay, there might be others like me.

This recession is going to shake up how we earn money and how we spend money.  Inflationary bubbles will be bursting everywhere.  I think the advertising world will be one big bubble that’s going to pop big time.  In all the various mass market venues, we’re going to see disappearing players, fewer networks on TV, fewer magazines and newspapers, and fewer web sites.  I’m an ordinary guy, so if I’m reaching the tipping point of running away from advertising, I imagine there are lots of other ordinary folk feeling the same way.

JWH – 10-25-08

Roping A Wayward Mind

In the excellent essay, “The Myth of Multitasking,” Christine Rosen opens up with this 1740s quote from a Lord Chesterfield to his son that I can’t stop thinking about:

There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.

I wished my kindergarten teacher had started every day of class with that lesson because it’s obvious that I have never accomplished anything significant in my fifty-six years because I’ve always been trying to do two things at once.  I’m a jack of all trades, master of none kind of guy, and it annoys the hell out of me.

This morning’s activities will well illustrate my need for focus and the pitfalls of multitasking.  After my shower I started ripping CDs with my second computer, rolled out my exercise mat and started doing my yoga-like back exercises while daydreaming the opening scene of a novel I’d like to write, while another part of my mind kept reminding me to work on the short story I had been fleshing out in my imagination yesterday while exercising, and thoughts of three or four blog ideas buzzed like bees around these main ideas hoping to get more bio-CPU cycles themselves, while I was also trying to remember who I wanted to see today, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do with my Saturday.

If I followed Lord Chesterfield’s advice I would have had a single-minded Zen-like focus on my exercises and my back would be much better for it. (I just jumped over to put a new CD into the burner and ran to the kitchen to feed our cats.)

After my exercises I got up and checked my email and stats on this blog page and followed a link to a web site that mentions John Scalzi’s comments on fame, followed the link to Scalzi’s site and then found a link to Wil Weaton’s site where he discusses fame and then I found a link to Stephen Fry’s site, also about fame, but a very long well thought out essay.  This gave me an idea to write a blog post about how it’s more rewarding to read a famous person’s blog than to actual meet them for a few minutes.

(Next CD to rip, which requires getting up and using the computer on the opposite side of the room.)  Before I could start writing that blog, while doing a previous CD change, I got the idea I wanted to reinstall my Roku SoundBridge, so I could play MP3s on my computer through my stereo in living room, and got up and went looking for it.  While tearing through two closets trying to remember where I put the Roku, I got ideas for several projects dealing with organization.  I have boxes and boxes of wires for stereos, computers, televisions, DVD players, etc. that I really must organize one day.  I was slightly distracted by the tight squeeze of clothes hanging in the closet, making it hard to get to all the boxes and remembering my promise to my wife to throw some worn clothes out, when I finally found the Roku.

(Next CD)  I was surprised by how easy it was to put the Roku back into service but I discovered something interesting.  The Roku was listing the music from both my computers, iTunes on the main machine, Windows Media on two machines, and FireFly media server on the second machine.  This revelation inspired me to write a blog about the most efficient way to serve up MP3 files in a home network.  (Next CD)  I wondered if I booted up the laptop if it would see that machine too.  (A pause to go pet a sick cat and think about a blog about the pet healthcare crisis.)

As you can see my mind is very far from Kwai Chang Caine’s focused mind in the old Kung Fu TV series.  (I’ll stop the annoying interruptions about the CD changes and other diversions while writing, but you get the idea about how I’m constantly trying to multitask.)  If I was a Kung Fu master, I wouldn’t own a wall of CDs and be trying to convert them to my computer library because I wouldn’t be into owning things.

If I was a real writer, with a focused mind, I would get up each morning, work on my novel and not think about about a dozen blog ideas, or another dozen short story ideas, or even worry about organizing a CD collection, or care about my clothes closet or boxes of wires.  I never finished a novel because, like Lord Chesterfield says, I’m trying to do more than one thing and there’s not enough time in a lifetime to do all that.

On the other paw, I am pretty good at multitasking if I’m willing to accept that I do so many things in a half-ass way.  I have four clunky websites (not counting several I manage at work).  I read about fifty books a year, and see a hundred movies on DVD and at the theater, and watch several hundred TV shows and documentaries.  I have a big collection of computers, books, magazines, CDs, gadgets, and other crap that I maintain and help do my part to keep the economy going.  I read a zillion web pages every year, and my Karma level is excellent on Slashdot.

Task Switching

Now over at 43 Folders, Merlin Mann offers his opinion in a podcast also called The Myth of Multitasking.  Mann’s take is multitasking is impossible for humans, that people aren’t parallel processing machines like supercomputers, and the best we can do is be very good at task switching.  Furthermore, it’s his belief that some people are good at task switching and others are not.  The implication being that some people can easily bookmark their place when they switch tasks.  Mann also believes once you discover you can’t multitask, you will lose the anxiety over getting so much done and focus on getting the job at hand accomplished.

My theory is the human brain is a fantastic bio-computer that parallel processes on vast scales, but the conscious mind is just one thread that runs on top of everything else that can’t really multitask, but like Mann suggests, can task switch.  Whether this is a good feature of Human 4.0 is yet to be proved.  Maybe multitasking will be a prominent feature of Homo Superior 1.0, but for now we have to decide what’s the optimal operating expectations for who we are now.

Attention Span

Should I trade all that fun chaotic juggling to be just a guy focused on writing a novel?  Is it even possible for me to be Mr. Zen Lit Man?  This brings up the second lighthouse beacon of an article I read this week,  “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr in The Atlantic Monthly, that only fuels the fire of my desire to seek a simpler focused life.  Mr. Carr confesses that Google and the Internet living has reduced his ability to read long works.

If we could multitask, the length of any working process could be infinite, but if we can only task switch, then the critical factor is the time segment devoted to each task.  What Mr. Carr is suggesting is the Internet is making us used to living with short task segments and we’re losing our ability to process longer tasks.  This is an interesting idea, but I have to ask:  Did people have the knack for focusing on longer tasks before the Internet?

Long before Google, magazines and newspapers were featuring shorter articles with lots of side-bars, and short attention getting blips of information.  Television, with sitcoms and more and more commercials started dividing up our attentions starting back in the 1950s.  The car radio has long had buttons to quickly switch between shows for those weak of attention.  Imagine what the television clicker has done to our minds?

I too have found that I can no longer read hours at a time on a single book or long essay.  I had a different theory as to the cause of this, and assumed I had been corrupted by audio books which allows me to listen to other people read long books.  I justified my laziness by pointing out that those people are much better readers than I am, and that I learn so much more when I can concentrate on their readings.

So now I have two theories to test.  There might be many reasons why I can no longer read books hours at a stretch.  One that comes to mind is comfort.  I get back and neck strains, and my eyes weary quickly.  Large print helps, but to be honest, I genuinely prefer audio books.  After reading Carr’s article I will strongly consider my continual effort to multitask or task switch as a cause of attention deficit.  I will admit that when I read too long on anything I get antsy for new input.  The Internet might support my addiction for keeping multiple threads of thought going.

Conversely, if I’m going to be a real writer, as opposed to a blogger, I’d need to focus on one piece of writing at a time, and keep focused on that piece, draft after draft until it’s perfect and I could sell it.  In other words, I’d be forced to do ONE thing for weeks at a time.  I don’t know if I could handle that.  Task switching might be natural, and the ability to focus on a single task may be a special talent.  My friend Mike who is also a programmer says when he programs he feels like he’s in a deep well and all distractions are far away.  I truly envy him for that gift.

I can’t take a crap without reading a magazine while thinking through a handful of ideas about what I’ll do when I pull up my pants.  What if I got up this morning and just worked on writing that short story I’ve been meaning to finish for years.  The one I come back to the most often?  And what if when I needed to consume or evacuate I’d continue to think on that one story.  It certainly would help if I lived in a studio apartment with little beyond a bed, desk, writing equipment and four white walls.  No wonder Pride and Prejudice was so great, there just wasn’t that many distractions back in Jane Austen’s time.

I guess the real question is whether or not I could do the focused thing just one hour a day?  It’s an obvious compromise of where to start.  However, I think real writers probably sacrifice a giant pile of fun diversions to get a quality book finished.  Maybe I just don’t have that kind of mental makeup.  If I found a magic lantern and the Genie granted my wish to concentrate, would I be happy trading in a year’s worth of active diversions to produce one science fiction novel?  That scares me.  It sounds boring and lonely.

Dedication to Details

Last night I saw an episode of Nova about making Japanese samurai swords, and Friday night I saw a documentary that included a piece about a Chinese guy making traditional bows and arrows.  In each case, these were complicated skills handed down from the past and required the artisan to devote his life to his work.  Both documentaries pointed out that these acts of devotion to extreme details were being destroyed by modern culture.  Few people in our society dedicate as much of their time to a single-minded objective, but there are some.  Olympic athletes, classical musicians, and other successful people in any discipline.

There is always the chance that multitasking and Googling is common in society because that’s how the brains of most people work.  If I had a brain for single minded focusing I would be a person pursuing something very focused.  We see all those enchanting martial arts fables, like Kung Fu Panda where a slob of a mind can be polished into a diamond-point jewel of focused attention.  Is that really possible?  Maybe such training is possible if we start as children, but I doubt it for middle-aged adults.  Can I and others improve our minds with incremental improvements, especially late in life, well I think there’s plenty of evidence for that.

We know that doing the crossword puzzle or the sudoku will exercise our brain, so I would imagine reading long articles from The New Yorker and The Atlantic will condition our mental focus towards longer attention spans.  I would also assume we could follow Lord Chesterfields’ advice by starting the day by making a short list of things we want to do, and then work on them one at a time.  My closet is still a mess, but if I stuck with it, focused my mind, and only worked on my closet, it would be finished with an hour’s effort.

A New Theory of Multitasking

I think some kinds of multitasking are possible and aren’t bad.  I wouldn’t want to sit and burn CDs until I had finished all 1500 of them.  I think I could safely work on cleaning out my closet, listen to an audio book and burn CDs and be a success if I finished the closet in a reasonable amount of time and did a perfect job.  Actually, this may be a form of true multitasking, because my mind would be focused on the audio book story, and my body would be working to organize the closet and rip CDs.

People can do two things at once physically, but it’s uncommon – like rubbing your abdomen in a circle with your right hand and patting your head with your left.  I can’t sort speaker wire and switch out CDs, so that would be task switching.  But is it task switching or multitasking to listen to a book and do something physical that doesn’t require much mental processing like walking, doing the dishes, sorting wire or swapping out CDs?

The Good Old Days

I think many people would like to return to the good old days of a less hectic life.  They feel that life would be better if they didn’t have so many programming events demanding time slices.  Makes me wonder what my Main() loop looks like.  The belief is we’d be happier with fewer function calls and more time where our CPU usage falls to 0%.  Personally, I’d be philosophically happier if my log files showed more completed jobs, and fulfilled if I routinely shipped some fine 1.0 products.  I have learned that achieving a zero email inbox is very satisfying.  I don’t think we need to become Amish or Tibetan to find happiness.  I do think that learning to tame the mind is a worthy goal and all these mental lessons that are a byproduct of computer usage and Jetsons-fast living is helping us evolve.

I am reminded of some odd advice.  A modern day guru, or maybe it was a comedian, suggested getting up every morning and pistol whipping yourself if you had crippling fears of being mugged.  I wonder if I got up every morning and focused my mind intently on any kind of mental exercise, if I wouldn’t build up some focusing muscles?  If my flitting attention ever settles down to allow me to pursue such an experiment, I’ll let you know the results.

Jim