Three Thoughts

Dear J-

I think it might be time to introduce her to Sound of Music; partly because she’s probably ready, and partly because I’m starting to understand the lyrics to some of the songs in Chitty, and they’re starting to make me … er, suspiciously sentimental. That’s enough for musicals for now except to note that we broke open Hello Dolly (“It Only Takes a Moment” is pretty impressive) in order to watch the sequences that were featured in WALL-E. Maybe we do watch too much on the weekends. The ambition on Sundays has a short half-life.

I’m wondering if the BP platform explosion doesn’t have a more simple explanation. Unknown. Mysterious. I don’t think so. If a machine — oil extraction platform — fails, there are three likely explanations: incorrect design, incorrect operation, or incorrect maintenance. And especially if that machine has operated correctly in the past, that eliminates the design; Chernobyl lost its core because they wanted to conduct an unanalyzed test. We all have a tendency to compensate for slight changes (when was the last time you thought about your shocks? Be honest) and deferred maintenance (I’m way past due on my oil change), and I’m thinking there are a few maintenance and operation managers at BP that won’t be for much longer.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a perfect remote control, but the one that comes with TiVo boxes I suspect is at least as responsible for reeling in customers as the software itself. When I think back to the wretched remotes that I’ve used before — all buttons the same shape and size, or slick surfaces with no feedback (this is the primary complaint I have with touch interfaces like the Kameleon — if it’s something I have to use blind, it better be distinctive without forcing me to memorize finger positions like frets) — the TiVo remote is a paragon of useability, distinctive buttons available without fumbling or repeated repositioning.

Mike

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