Fresh Daily – Week of 3/30/20

Covered this week; Back from hiatus, spurred by a global pandemic… The life, and sad loss of William Helmreich… On the horizon, the authorized biography of The Ox… Regarding Amazon’s mistreatment of its workers… Bill Withers, dies at 81… When the buggiest of software is also the most popular… What would we do without the internet right now?

March 30, 2020

I’ve been away for a while, a year in fact… back in March of 2019 it was only supposed to be a week or two for Spring Break… but it turned into a year away from Fresh Daily, which makes me sad, but wat’cha gonna do?

So as I sit and type this, it’s basically Day 21 of being ‘sheltered-in-place’ (quarantined) with my family here in the Chicagoland area as a result of the Coronavirus, or Covid-19 as it has come to be called. At this point, approximately 3,000 people have died in the United States as a result of Covid-19 with much greater numbers being forecasted as we model forward… so scary times to say the least.

One way or another, it felt like a good time to rev up the Fresh Daily again and that comes down to multiple reasons… most notably, I’m finally, actively working on the build-out of the website proper at optiflux.com, I’m spending training hours every day learning Bootstrap & WordPress in greater depth… and last but not least, I’ve got a lot more time on my hands of late. This would typically be the time of year I’d be ratcheting up baseball activity with my two teenage boys… but this year, nothing’s going on… nothing at all… so here we stand.

Great to be back. Hope you’ve all been well. Let’s go…

March 31, 2020

Honestly, I had never heard of William Helmreich until he died, of Covid-19 no less… how sad is that? Very sad as his story, or at least a small part of his story… is that sort that really gets my attention. One of those people that after falling under the trance of some source of inspiration, has a really great idea that then gets executed… and it’s the actual ‘doing’ that makes all the difference, because how many people have random great ideas? So check out Mr. Helmreich’s obit, it’s quite a story.

When William B. Helmreich was 9 years old, his father, a Polish-Jewish refugee from the Nazis who was curious about his latest haven, New York City, started taking him on weekend outings that he playfully called “Last Stop.” Father and son would choose a subway line at random, take it to the end and spend a few hours exploring the novelties of neighborhoods they had never seen.

April 1, 2020

In the ‘gone way before their time’ department… John Entwistle is a name that comes to mind when considering the pantheon of recorded music. Entwistle was not only a technically phenomenal bass player, he was one of the true rock stars the 1970’s produced, living the credo until his premature death at 57 due to a cocaine induced heart attack the night before the Who were to kick off an American tour back in 2002.

The story today is that British writer Paul Rees has started work on his new book, The Ox: The Authorized Biography of John Entwistle. From Entwistle’s son Christopher, Rees received a lock-box that contained many notebooks of Entwistle’s own writings along with word processor documents that amounted to 4 chapters of an autobiography that the bass player had begun on his own but didn’t come close to finishing. As both Rees and Christopher Entwistle promise the true tale, warts and all, this has become a book I can’t wait to read, may it come quick.

The idea of writing a book about Entwistle first came to Rees about five years ago when he attended a literary festival for music writers in Manchester, England. He bumped into a colleague at the hotel bar who regaled him with insane stories about visiting Entwistle at Quarwood, his Victorian mansion in Gloucestershire, England. “He told me he had his entire bass rig setup in his living room,” says Rees. “It made me realize he was one of the last great rock stars. He just embodied everything you imagine a Seventies rock star would be like, from the way he lived to the way he passed.”

I had many choices for a video to include… I chose this performance of My Wife mostly because it was one of the handful of Who songs that Entwistle wrote, but also because it was recorded while crazy ass Keith Moon was still alive. Watching him play drums… also makes me happy.

April 2, 2020

When contemplating the losses to bricks and mortar and the idea that all these Mom & Pop shops that have served America so well over the decades going away is just the price of progress… so important in that equation is the human toll. As more and more of how Amazon does business is exposed to sunlight, is this really a company worthy of our support? What can we as consumers do when so much of life’s daily needs can now only be acquired through Amazon, old retail outlets since put out of business. Amazon’s response to their workers in light of the Coronavirus scenario is appalling, and it’s a quandary for sure… but despite Trump’s hatred of Jeff Bezos, I don’t see his ‘administration’ being the ones that figure things out.

That gives customers a choice: stand with workers trying to do their jobs without risking death or unemployment, or continue to accept the cut-rate politics of a company owned by the richest man in the world.

April 3, 2020

Such an unorthodox rise for Bill Withers in the music game. Started out with 9 years in the Navy before getting inspired by a Lou Rawls show that caused him to self-teach himself the guitar before releasing several of the most enduring hits in music history in the 70’s… and then early on in a career that started late, he grew disenchanted with the music biz and left… never to return. Just to leave the world with ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ is saying quite a bit… Godspeed Bill Withers.

Years later he liked to tell stories about not being recognized in public. One such incident occurred at a Los Angeles restaurant. “Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles up on Pico,” he told NPR’s “Morning Edition” in 2015, “and these ladies looked like they had just come from church or something, and they were talking about this Bill Withers song. So I was going to have some fun with them. I said, ‘I’m Bill Withers,’ and this lady said: ‘You ain’t no Bill Withers. You too light-skinned to be Bill Withers.’”

April 4, 2020

Regarding Zoom Video Software, two things seem true at this point… first, it’s truly some speckled code, vulnerable to intrusion and all sorts of unsavory security flaws… and second, it’s the #1 contender for most popular emerging technology in the times of pandemics… so many people are using it… about as many as are binge watching Netflix Joe Exotic Tiger King show… what sad times we live in.

Anyway, if Zoom has been, and may continue to be part of your quarantine arsenal of go-to software… this article may be of use to you if you have the patience for extinguishing all those little ghosts in the machine. I mean hit this link… holy shit, that’s a looonng list of stuff that can go wrong with this software… just goes to show, you don’t always need to be the best to rise to the top of the heap. As Betamax about that.

Of all the tech companies that have benefitted from the massive shift to telecommuting that the global pandemic has forced, Zoom stands at the top. The company’s multi-platform videoconferencing software was well known before, being a frequently used, market-leading choice mentioned in the same breath as Adobe Connect, Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and Skype. But now Zoom has become a verb among businesses, schools, and people making social connections.

April 5, 2020

An interesting concept here I guess. The author argues that for all the bitching and moaning we do regarding the internet, what would we do without it at a time like this? There’s clearly elements of this observation that hold water… but how dependent have we become on not just the internet, but the ‘connected’ world… and how would we react as a global community if it went away… overnight… because if the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that things can change 180 degrees, overnight.

We spend a lot of time talking about and thinking about how bad the internet is for us. How much it’s wrecked our self-esteem, our ability to be private, the way our kids are raised, the way our data is used, the negative effects it has on our political process and our elections. We love our technology, but we’re not in love with it. We’re usually disappointed by it, scared of it, mad at it.

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Nic Rotondo

Nic Rotondo

Nic Rotondo - is the lead designer for the Optiflux|MediaTribe. Optiflux is a nocturnal design shop focused on identities, branding and one-of-a-kind, custom-coded websites for clients all across North America. Our small tribe of freelance artists can also handle your 3d rendering or animation needs as well as any sound and video work... Small projects or big... come one, come all. We'll get it done.

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