iTunes + TED = significant entertainment-–and occasional revelation

I use iTunes on my laptop to scoop up the stuff I want to see and hear. I use it because I can do all this off-line. Here in China, the network throughput is sometimes frustratingly slow, so I just ‘set it and forget it’  as they say. What of it?

I recently found that I could add a subscription from TED to my iTunes library. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and something, I’ll go look it up, ah here it is: Design) is a storehouse of five to twenty-minute videos on everything under the sun, by some of the world’s coolest people. It looks like TED can stream one new episode every day to you if you wish. I have been absorbed in their presentations for some time now. If you need an “Oh, wow!” moment…

Most recently, I happened upon a video from Roger Ebert, the writer, reviewer, philosopher and all-around cool dude who recently almost lost his head to cancer. This is the guy we all watched on TV voting thumbs up or down on our favorite movies. For reasons I never understood, it seemed that whatever he and Gene Siskel (the other guy) didn’t like was sure to please me whenever I got the chance to watch on of the movies they reviewed. Oh, well. Great minds think alike. Which means…OK, skip it.

What kept me watching his TED presentation was the interesting method he used to present his talk. He doesn’t speak any more. Or eat. Or drink. He used the synthesized voice in his Mac notebook to deliver some of his presentation, but had several friends read parts of it as well.

It was fascinating. You have to see this.

Because he is a figure of some notoriety, he’s been featured in magazine articles, notably one about his autobiography, titled Life Itself. Of the several excerpts quoted in the magazine is this one:

On how to write ‘fast’

“[In high school] I was a subscriber to the Great Lead Theory, which teaches that a story must have an opening paragraph so powerful that it leaves few readers still standing. Grantland Rice’s ‘Four Horsemen’ lead was my ideal. [Sportswriter Bill] Lyon watched as I ripped one sheet of copy paper after another out of my typewriter and finally gave me the most useful advice I have ever received as a writer: ‘One, don’t wait for inspiration, just start the damn thing. Two, once you begin, keep on until the end. How do you know how the story should begin until you find out where it’s going?’ These rules saved me half a career’s worth of time and gained me a reputation as the fastest writer in town. I’m not faster. I spend less time not writing.”

So there’s Roger’s advice to bloggers everywhere, and aspiring writers, too.

Don’t wait for inspiration, just start the damned thing.

Thanks for sharing, Mr. Ebert. And thanks for having us over for dinner.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both. –James Michener

500 RMB later, a new disk installed

A quick trip to the local computer mart with my translator friend and I’m all set to go again. Alas, he said, none of my data was salvageable so I have a bit of re-installing and remembering to do. But, the machine is working again, and that means I’m a happy camper. (Except for that part about having to reinstall EVERYTHING) (Oh, and the 500 RMB part, too)

7 Is a Magic Number

So, this guy from has a number puzzle in his email. I’ll give the puzzle details here. It’s kinda cool (which gives you a clue to my expansive skills in mathematics).

Anyway, first thing is to choose any whole number less than 700…doesn’t matter which one except with one case, that being if the number is evenly divisible by seven. Moving along –

Use a calculator – the Windows calculator is fine – to divide your choice by seven. If there is no decimal remainder, you have chosen a number which is evenly divisible by seven. Choose another number; we need a remainder.

Now, inspect the decimal remainder – the digits to the right of the decimal point. Select the first six digits of the remainder and add these digits together to achieve a result. The sum of your division problem’s remainder’s first six digits will always be 27.

Example1 Choice is 467. Divide 467 by 7 to achieve 66.71428571428571 Add 7,1,4,2,8 and 5 to achieve 27.

Example2 Choice is 589. Divide 589 by 7 to achieve 84.14285714285714 Add 1,4,2,8,5 and 7 to achieve 27.

Notice it’s always the same six numerals, although they are in different order.

What’s up with that?


Dude saves skin — not

What’s irritating — most of all — is of course that I haven’t got a recent backup.

Why is it that we never hear stories like: “Dude saves his skin with diligent use of factory furnished computer backup program.”

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