Marilyn Monroe on Projection

“They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was.”

Photo © David H. Enzel, All Rights Reserved
Photo © David H. Enzel, All Rights Reserved

The truth is I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them and fooling them.

– Marilyn Monroe

Podcast Review: ‘Join Us In France’

An enjoyable way to learn about France.

Join Us In France Podcast

If you want to travel in France and learn about French history, the Join Us in France podcast is a superb resource. The podcast is hosted by two American women named Elyse and Annie. They don’t give their last names but they live in France and know it well. Annie was born in France but has lived in the United States. Elyse grew up in the United States and knows a lot about French history. Elyse, the native American, often seems more French than Annie who was born in France. Go figure. Elyse loves to share what she knows about France. And she knows a lot.

They each explain France and its culture to Americans in plain English. I especially enjoyed the episodes about driving in Francecheese and Le Marais. There are other resources to help travelers to France select hotels and restaurants. But this podcast will help you to understand France.

The podcast has an active community of followers on Facebook and its website includes French movie and music recommendations.

The hosts of the podcast were interviewed for Amateur Traveler episode 428 about Paris. The Amateur Traveler is a great podcast but if your destination is France, Join Us in France is the podcast for you. The podcast was also recommended by the Secrets of Paris blog written by Heather Stimmler-Hall.

The Join Us In France podcast, which is now two years old, has just published its 100th episode about the city of Lourdes, a small market town in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Lourdes is the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land and hosts around six million visitors every year. As a result, this small town of under 16,000 inhabitants is the second most important center of tourism in France, second only to Paris.

Congratulations Annie et Elyse! Your hard work has paid off. Je vous remercie.

The Commercialization of Podcasts

Podcast ads affect podcast content.

I’ve been listening to podcasts for several years. From the outset, I thought of podcasts mainly as a community of people helping people. There wasn’t much in the way of advertising. I didn’t think anyone was in it for the money. I thought podcasters were there to share and connect. However, podcasts have grown in number and popularity. Today, some formerly small podcasts are now commercial for-profit enterprises. There are more ads and the ads are longer. I no longer trust the recommendations the way I once did. Often, if a product is touted, competing products are never even mentioned.

Frequent advertisers on the podcasts I listen to include Squarespace, Backblaze, Gazelle and 1Password. To be sure, these are all fine products. But they each face stiff competition. By trying each of these products or services and their competitors, I found that WordPress was a better solution for this blog, the Amazon Trade-In program paid me more for my used devices than Gazelle, Arq turned out to be a better backup solution for me than Backblaze and Lastpass for my money is a better password manager than 1Password.

For example, WordPress, which is used by more than 25% of all websites,[1] allows me to draft posts in Markdown on apps on my Mac in Byword or MarsEdit and then post directly from within Byword or MarsEdit to my WordPress blog. With Squarespace, I had to cut and paste the Markdown into a little box on the Squarespace website. The Squarespace solution is far less convenient for me than the WordPress solution.

I also found my Squarespace site would sometimes go down. Squarespace responded that they were the subject of a Denial of Service attack. Although I understand such attacks happen, I have never heard one negative comment about Squarespace on any of the podcasts I listen to even when these podcasts discuss website creation. To be sure, WordPress isn’t perfect; it has its own security issues. Every platform has advantages and disadvantages. A fair discussion needs to include the major competitors along with their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, podcast ads affect podcast content.

Blackblaze is another good example. Although Backblaze backs up external drives, it deletes the backup unless the drive is connected to the computer being backed up at least every 30 days. That’s an issue for me because I have a drive that I don’t connect every month. A backup solution ought to be as automatic as possible. With Arq, I don’t have to connect my external drive to prevent the backup from being lost. I store my backups on Amazon Cloud Drive and they just stay there until I delete them.

In retrospect, I was probably naïve because of the sense of community I felt within the podcast world. In any event, from now on when I hear a discussion of product or service category on a podcast that is sponsored by one of the competitors in the marketplace, I will take the recommendation with a grain of salt. Buyer beware. Having said this, I’ll continue to listen to my favorite podcasts despite the ads. I have learned a lot from these podcasts.

  1. In contrast, Squarespace is used by 0.4% of all websites. Squarespace seems to be expanding its horizons beyond the podcast community. It now advertises on the Washington Metro and has created a commercial to air during Super Bowl 50.  ↩

Movie Review: ‘The Intern’

DeNiro and Hathaway work well together and have lessons for us all.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures –

During winter storm Jonas – the fourth-largest blizzard to hit the northeast U.S. – I rented The Intern on iTunes and loved it.

Robert De Niro plays a healthy but lonely 70-year-old retired widower named Ben Whittaker. Ben worked as an accomplished executive who ran a company selling telephone books. Ben wants to connect and be useful to other people. He starts by going to Starbucks each day but that doesn’t get him the human interaction he craves. One day, Ben sees an ad from an online women’s clothing vendor seeking to hire “senior interns.” The firm is loosely based on Google. Ben applies by uploading a video and gets the job. He’s assigned to work directly for the CEO Jules Ostin played by Anne Hathaway. The interaction between the two characters is charming.

The film was written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who also wrote and directed Something’s Gotta Give, a 2003 film starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. That film is about a man (Jack Nicholson) approaching senior citizen status who has a taste for younger women. I also enjoyed that film so I guess I have a taste for Ms. Meyers’s work.

Manolhla Dargis, writing for The New York Times explains in magnificent prose that:

The director Nancy Meyers doesn’t just make movies, she makes the kind of lifestyle fantasies you sink into like eiderdown. Her movies are frothy, playful, homogeneous, routinely maddening and generally pretty irresistible even when they’re not all that good. Her most notable visual signature is the immaculate, luxuriously appointed interiors she’s known to fuss over personally — they inevitably feature throw pillows that look as if they’ve been arranged with a measuring tape. These interiors are fetishized by moviegoers and Architectural Digest alike, ready-made for Pinterest and comment threads peppered with questions like, “Where do I get that hat?”

Although I wish I could write the way Ms. Dargis writes, I think the film has more to offer than she suggests. The film opened my mind about the way older and younger people can relate to one another in the workplace and elsewhere. This is especially important as the population in the United States and elsewhere ages.

It seems that the film was a hit in South Korea for just this reason (WSJ). South Korean viewers appreciated the healthy and positive energy emanating from Ben, the character ably played by Robert DeNiro. I did too. And besides, what’s wrong with some eiderdown in one’s life?

Chrome Now Supports the iPad Pro

The biggest single update since the iOS version of Chrome was first released back in 2012.

Google today updated Chrome for the iPad. The new version uses WKWebView, which Google says should be faster and more stable, with 70% fewer crashes. Chrome now uses the on-screen keyboard specifically designed for the iPad Pro. Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica calls this update of Chrome “the biggest single update since the iOS version was first released back in 2012 . . . .” One of the reasons I like Chrome on iOS is the ability to close all tabs at once. I haven’t found a way to do this in mobile Safari. This is also the first Google iOS app to support the iPad Pro. I hope Google will also update its other apps to support the iPad Pro, especially InBox by Google, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides.