May 12th, 2009

green leaves

How to help someone use a computer

http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/how-to-help.html
Computer people are fine human beings, but they do a lot of harm in the ways they "help" other people with their computer problems. Now that we're trying to get everyone online, I thought it might be helpful to write down everything I've been taught about helping people use computers.

First you have to tell yourself some things:

Nobody is born knowing this stuff.

You've forgotten what it's like to be a beginner.

If it's not obvious to them, it's not obvious.

A computer is a means to an end. The person you're helping probably cares mostly about the end. This is reasonable.


and so on.

I wish I'd known this earlier. I wish I'd never read anything from BOFH. I think this applies to a lot of teaching generally, and I hope I haven't made too many of the implied errors.

Link thanks to womzilla.
green leaves

Joint stuff

First off, it turns out that I'd been misinforming people about nightshades. There's some evidence (less than I'd thought) that not eating nightshades can help a lot with arthritis. However, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants are nightshades. Contrary to what I'd been saying peppers (hot and sweet) are not nightshades. They do (unless I'm wrong again) have the alkaloids which might make arthritis worse, but less of them.

Tomorrow night (May 14), Global Teleclasses is offering a free class about Secret of Injury & Pain-Free Intelligent Performance: Joint Mobility from Scott Sonnen. I'd done some stuff from his books and liked it enough to consider the class worth trying.

I have some personal experience with joint issues, but not much as such things go. I get some flack from my knees, probably as a result of medium-sized injuries. Glucosamine has helped (I couldn't tell a difference between chondroitin and sulfate). The Five Tibetan Rites, a sort of cross between yoga and calesthenics, have done them a lot of good. I needed <a href="http://www.amazon.com/10-Minute-Rejuvenation-Plan-Revolutionary-Exercise/dp/0307347176>The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan: T5T: The Revolutionary Exercise Program That Restores Your Body and Mind</a> to learn them properly. After I'd been doing them a while, I noticed that the muscles around my knees felt stronger, and going down stairs became generally not a problem. Recently, I'd been getting pain from a joint in my left index finger. I've never injured it and I don't overuse it. I've found that moderate amounts of gentle movement (using my right hand to move the joint a bunch of times) has cleared up the problem. I'm not saying that all arthritis can be cured with alternative methods, but there's a lot of cheap safe stuff that can be worth a try.
green leaves

The Star Trek movie

Mild spoilers follow.......

I seem to be one of the few people who didn't love it. I do think it's one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen-- the frames are well composed (sometimes I got pulled into the story enough to fall out of aesthetic appreciation mode, but mostly I was seeing just how nice it was visually.) Sorry, guys, I can't define good composition, I just know when looking at things makes me feel good. And the colors! I think that movie had the most complex and satisfying use of color I've ever seen.

I can't help wondering if a lot of the "optimistic sf" bounce-bounce is actually an effect of how delightful it was visually, because it wasn't all that optimistic. Maybe it was optimistic compared to most recent sf because everything was well maintained and there wasn't obvious massive corruption, malice, or incompetence among the viewpoint characters.

The music was awful, except for a little which was innocuous.

The fight scenes weren't interesting. Steve Barnes describes them as underrehearsed. Well, he's a movie buff and a martial artist, so he might be right. I think they were underchoreographed and possibly badly directed.

And irritating. Not that I'm in love with modern warfare, but hand-to-hand on the drill? Haven't these people heard of weapons?

I'm going to do another post about different kinds and levels of outrage, so take the following as irritation, not a desire for the world to be remade or for anyone to stop enjoying what they like. Practically the whole movie was men butting heads with each other. I don't get *that* much fun out of watching it.

It was nice that Spock moved with inhuman smoothness. I don't know if it was personal skill or skill amplified with a little CGI.

Kirk was very ornamental, and it's nice to see a somewhat non-standard face as a lead.

If you have black holes, what do you need the drill for? Oh well, at least it looked good. So did the Romulan ship.

I suspect a movie critic could have some fun with when the Enterprise was large on the screen and when it was small.

Can we haz a cube-square law? When the big red monster kept going floomp, it should have taken some damage. Yes, I do realize that the sense of plausibility is personal and somewhat random.

I wish Kirk's mother had somewhat in the way of warrior virtues, and not demanded that her husband be with her when he's in a battle. Poul Anderson would have written her differently.

Has ultrasound been completely forgotten? Don't people normally choose their kid's name before the birth?

I really think Kirk could have quoted the reg about emotional discombobulation to Spock, and if Spock was really Spock, he would have stepped down. There was no need to hammer on Spock to make him show emotions.

Possible button slogans:

I implied

[need to get exact phrasing] I could quote regulations to you, but you'd just ignore them

If you have black holes, why do you need a drill?

Trailers: I want to see the new Terminator movie-- there's considerable sense of visual style, and there might be interesting things happening. 1 BC looks stupid, but possibly somewhat funny.