Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003
One of the more interesting ideas to come down the internet pipeline is that of micropayments, whereas you can easily make very small payments (down to a penny!) for goods or (more likely) services that are very low-ticket. My first micropayment was made to view Scott McCloud's new web comic The Right Number for just a quarter. Was it worth the money? Well, how much entertainment can you realistically expect to get out of a quarter now-a-days? The subject wasn't really my cup of tea, but the idea of it has me very entertained. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend that can save the ever-declining market for comic book artists. To start making micropayments of your own, head over to BitPass and buy a pre-paid card. There's not much on the menu to buy now, but it's an idea too good to stay small for very long.
Posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2003
For the past year, I've kind of made a ritual of visiting Exploding Dog a couple of times a month to catch up on what Sam has been drawing lately. If you have never been there, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Every week or so, this guy draws a fews pictures using titles and concepts that people e-mail to him. The amazing thing about his work is that, despite the fact they are all illustrated with stick figures, Sam manages to capture some pretty powerful emotions.
The above piece is titled i'm listening to sad songs, and is about as touching a work as I've ever seen in any museum.
Posted on Monday, January 10th, 2005
Hello and welcome to Blogography's Forgotten Domains Week!! Each day I plan on picking one of the dozens of domain names I own and explaining why I bought it, what I had planned for it, and what eventually happened to cause it being forgotten. So I'm sorry if you find this kind of self-indulgence boring but, what can I say, with the exception of MacWorld (which I am unable to attend) this is a pretty slow week for activities.
DAY ONE: DAVETOPIA.COM
Ah yes, to understand the story behind Davetopia, we must travel back in time to 1984... the year I graduated, and the year a film titled The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension was released. The film itself has many impressionable moments (including my favorite quote line from a movie ever: "No matter where you go, there you are"), but one thing about this bizarre alien invasion flick really stuck with me...
All of the aliens were named John.
John Little John, John Bigboote, John Parker, John Whorfin, John Ya Ya, etc. For some reason I just found it hysterically funny. So much so that I decided to name everybody, everything, and every place "Dave." Eventually I got over it, but I annoyed all my friends, co-workers, and family for weeks. I was so obsessed that I wrote a computer program called "DaveWorld" on my Atari 800 computer. This "killer app" was a random fake news generator for an imaginary place I called "DaveWorld."
The DaveWorld Times would generate stories like this: 15 Davember, 1984. Today in Daveburg, Dave Davidson won the Davenia Cup as his prized Daverian Husky took top honors in all categories. "I'm thrilled!" said Davidson as he headed off to spend his winnings on a vacation in Davapulco." or some such nonsense like that. Then, for no good reason at all, when the internet started exploding ten years later, I was bored and moved DaveWorld to the web.
The web-based "DaveWorld" was constantly evolving, and dozens of people ended up working on improving it at one time or another. Eventually, it was a fairly complex "living world" that had everything from weather patterns and politics to geographical data and road maps...
At one point, DaveWorld was a popular geeky place to hang out... but it ended up eating up so much of my free time that I eventually decided to close it down. But, over the years, I'd occasionally get an email from somebody asking me "whatever happened to DaveWorld" and "are you that DaveWorld guy?" Fast forward to the year 2000, and I had the idea to resurrect DaveWorld again with the latest web technologies and have some fun with it. Problem was, "DaveWorld.com" had already been taken. So I decided to use "Davetopia.com" instead.
Problem was, I never had time to work on Davetopia, so the idea kind of died off. I still keep paying on the domain in case I change my mind or have some extra time on my hands, but it's been pretty much forgotten for a few years now. That's more than a little bit sad to me, because back when the internet was young, it sure was a lot of fun.
Posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2005
And here we are at Day 2 of Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. Today we're going to get a bit philosophical...
DAY TWO: DAVEISM.ORG
Once upon a time, there was a remarkable forum where people could go to discuss philosophy and religion in a safe and sane environment that was free from prosecution and hatred. The name of this magical place was "Infinity Dialoguers" and it was good. I had many an enlightening conversation debating the nature of the universe with some amazing people, and such dialogue helped to form the principles on which I live my life even today. But all good things come to an end, and the forum was shut down in May of 2004.
After a few months, I decided that I wanted to collect all the writings and philosophizing I had put up over at Infinity, and form a cult around a new religion which I dubbed "Daveism" (just joking, there was no plans for a cult, but I'm sure that's how some people would have looked at it). One weekend I put the site together and began to post my writings...
Unfortuantely, while Infinity had folded, the founder had not. I eventually received a notice telling me that all materials uploaded to the Infinity Dialoguers forum became property of the collective, and I was forbidden to re-publish my writings without permission (though, fortunately, it works both ways). I guess we should have read the fine print on that membership agreement. Anyway, I could no longer post my previous stuff verbatim, and would have to rewrite everything. Naturally, I didn't have that kind of time, and the domain was taken down.
For the curious among you, Daveism is a simple philosophy for living that was based on the fallacy of fear, hate, and worry. I strongly believe all problems boil down to those three things, and finding a way to minimize them leads to happiness. One day, I really do hope to work on the site again, because I honestly think that I've got something to say there.
Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2005
Onward to Day 3 of Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. For today, shall we play a game?...
DAY THREE: SIMDAVE.COM/DAVESIM.COM
One of the things I loved about the early days of the internet was the challenge in doing something new, different, and cool. There was no CSS, no Flash, not a lot of anything really. About the only funky tool that designers had was animated GIF graphics (my how things have changed). And, since I loved being on the cutting edge of technology, I wanted to exploit animated GIFs in a way that I hadn't seen before. But what would that be?
Turns out is was a mini-game based on the "Sim" series of simulation games (SimCity, SimEarth, SimFarm, SimIsle, etc.). Only this time I decided to simulate myself!
"SimDave" (as I called it) was a very crude "game" that allowed you to change the environment around a simulated "me" to see how I would react. For instance... you could choose to turn on the radio and watch me dance. You could change the channel on the radio to a country-western station and watch attempt to hang myself. You could make me change clothes or run around naked. You could feed me pizza, ice cream, or give me a present. You could put me to bed or have me exercise by doing jumping-jacks. All in all, there were about 40 separate things you could do to poor little SimDave, including electrocuting me with the toaster, flushing me down the toilet, or having me mauled by a bear. It was a tough life (albeit simulated) for me.
Anyway, for a while SimDave was a big draw for "Dave's Web" and I got a lot of nice compliments on it, which encouraged me to keep improving the graphics and giving people more things to do with me. The biggest compliments I got was when people would send me new scenarios for SimDave (including one pornographic simulation which involved whip cream and a hooker). But, alas, it was not to last. When I redesigned my site in 1997, I renamed it "DaveWeb" and purchased a domain and hosting package to go with it. Tragedy struck when I lost the entirety of SimDave... all 80-or-so animated GIFs and hundreds upon hundreds of hours work was gone. I am not a very emotional person, but I was pretty choked up about it. I dare say that, retro as it would be, it would still be a cool thing that people would like.
Zip forward to the year 2000 when Flash animations started really taking over the web. Suddenly the possibilities for user-interaction were greatly expanded. One day while working on an animation project for a client, it suddenly occurred to me that I could resurrect SimDave, this time as a cool Flash-based game! With the intention of doing exactly that, I immediately went out and registered SimDave.com and DaveSim.com (just in case Maxis, makers of SimCity and The Sims, would sue). Unfortunately, all I managed to complete was the "Sim Dave" animation sprites (which are the basis for all the DaveToons I draw for Blogography). Just as with dozens of other ambitious projects I've started over the years, I never had the time to finish it.
This is one of those times that I really, really wish I had more free time. The nostalgia involved in getting a new SimDave game on the internet is something I dream about often.
Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2005
We're cresting over the half-way point of Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. Today? Before Blogography, there was Dave Spot...
DAY FOUR: DAVESPOT.COM
Back in the day (that would be the mid 90's), having a web site was expensive. Having your own domain name was expensive. Bandwidth was expensive. Server space was really expensive. Of course, everybody was using really slow modems, so it wasn't like you could have a lot of stuff on your site anyway. But eventually, as prices fell and bandwidth increased, I began putting a lot of stuff online. Personal stuff. Work stuff. Nonsense stuff I collected. Just about anything really. After a while "Dave's World" was a mishmash of junk, and I decided that I really should have separate sites for my work and personal stuff.
Problem was, "dave.com" was taken and I couldn't think of another domain name for my personal spot on the web. Wait a second... "personal spot?" There we go, DaveSpot.com!!
It started out as you see above... just a simple FAQ, a set of my favorite links, some photos, and a list of sites I maintained. Eventually, a fifth button was added. A magical fifth button titled "journal" where I wrote about the stuff that was going on in my life. Yep, it was a blog before there were blogs! Of course, back then, any "blog" you had was hand-coded, so it didn't get updated very often.
Then Movable Type happened and DaveSpot was radically changed into an actual blog. Problem was, I didn't have the discipline to keep it going, and I killed it off after just three months (and reinstated the old site in its place, sans journal).
Come April 2003, I decided to try blogging again, but the "curse" of two failed blogs at DaveSpot made me want to start fresh (besides, "DaveSpot" can easily be translated as "Dave's Pot" which isn't exactly what I had in mind). Thus Blogography was born and DaveSpot was no more. Of all my "forgotten domains" this is one that I probably won't renew. Surely somebody else out there can put it to better use.
Posted on Friday, January 14th, 2005
We're sliding toward home on Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. This time we're going to work...
DAY FIVE: CRITICALDUCK.COM
I was an early fan of digital video back in the days when "digital video" meant you needed a $3000 digitizing card, a high-end Mac, and a "massive" hard disk array with a pricey high-speed SCSI interface. Even then, the results were unpredictable and problematic. Skipped video frames and audio-sync issues were the norm, not the exception. Of course, now even a $500 Mac Mini can easily edit video with no additional hardware, and then burn a DVD of the project once you're done (assuming you have a SuperDrive).
Anyway, sometime between then and now, when the DV format was just starting to make things half-way affordable, a friend and I decided to invest in an expensive DV camera and start a video production company. He would shoot the footage, and I would edit it and design the visuals. In order to get some practice, I shot some tape of a rubber duck to edit with. That footage set the tone for the company, and gave us a name...
Off-and-on for two years, we made instructional videos, promotional videos, educational videos, and even a music video! But it never ended up being enough income to quit our day-jobs, and eventually we wanted out. So we sold the camera, he took the software, I took the name, and it was over.
I still love digital video, and every once in a while I find myself wanting to get back into the game. Maybe one day Critical Duck will ride again?
Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2005
We've just arrived at the penultimate episode of Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. This time we're going to work...
DAY SIX: ARTIFICIALDUCK.COM
Yesterday I told the riveting tale of my venture into the digital video business but, before there was Critical Duck Films, there was Artificial Duck Company. And before there was Artificial Duck, there was Wind-Up Duck Screen Printing. And before there was Wind-Up Duck, there was Big Duck Studio... as you might have guessed, I've got kind of a "duck" thing going on here. I honestly don't know why, but it probably has to do with the fact that I find ducks to be funny. Make of it what you will.
Anyway, if you've read my FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) you might know that I am a graphic designer by trade. But my career path to becoming a graphic designer was not without complexity. So here, for your reading pleasure, are the duck-related bits from my wild work history.
THE EARLY YEARS: I've always loved to draw and paint, but I never thought it could be an actual job. So when "Personal Computers" were introduced to my school, I knew where my future lay. By the time I was a high-school senior I had already started accepting programming work for local businesses, orchardists, farmers, and even computerized the attendance records for my own high school. Programming a computer was something I was good at, seemed to pay okay, and was in demand, so I naturally thought I had found my vocation. Big Duck Studio was born...
For better part of my senior year I was a student by day and Big Duck programmer-for-hire at night (though most of my friends called it "Big Dick Studio" - ha ha). I was learning a lot, having fun, and making a little spending money. It was all good. At least it was good until one Saturday night I suddenly realized that I was hunched over a computer debugging code while all my friends were out partying. At that moment I decided I did not want to spend the rest of my life glued to a computer monitor, and Big Duck was dead.
GETTING ARTISTIC: After graduation I had no idea what I wanted to do (though getting work so I could afford to go to college the next year was a high priority). I found a part-time job as a janitor but always in the back of my head was the desire to have my own business again (though something not involving computers). Then one day a friend asked me to design a T-Shirt for his family reunion, and everything just clicked. I would partner with a screen printer and do T-Shirt designs in my spare time! For reasons I can't recall, the name I chose for my new endeavor was Wind-Up Duck Screen Printing...
I think the name came from an old toy frog I found that would hop around if you wind him up (by turning a key that stuck out his butt). Since I found ducks to be hysterical, the wind-up frog became a wind-up duck. It was a good idea, but the guy I was working with kept raising his prices until pretty soon I couldn't make any money at it. I had thought about shopping around for another printer, but I was getting ready for college and decided I'd just quit the business altogether.
SEMI-RECENT HISTORY: After wasting a few years of my life in a drunken stupor while attending college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. Eventually I accidentally stumbled into graphic design work (which neatly combined my love of computers and art), but it was still part-time and I needed a way to make some extra money. Screen printing, which used to involve spending hours hand-cutting stencils, had become high-tech and much faster, so I thought perhaps I'd resurrect "Wind-Up Duck" and get into the biz again. Only problem was that the name sometimes confused people (they thought "wind" was like "gusting wind"), so it was time for an entirely new duck. Artificial Duck Company had a nice ring to it...
But eventually my job went from part-time to full-time, and there was never any space in my schedule to do any work for Artificial Duck. I bought the domain name with the intention of hiring partners and putting up a web site to get business, but it never happened. So, while I do some work under the "Artificial Duck" banner from time to time, the domain itself has been all but forgotten (why advertise something you never have time to do?).
Even so, I love my "Artificial Duck" logo, and it makes for a popular T-Shirt design that I can hand out to people.
Posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2005
And here we've come to the final episode of Forgotten Domains Week, where I review domains I own but have forgotten over the years. Last up? A domain that may actually get used one day...
DAY SEVEN: HARDROCKRUN.COM
I've long had a site devoted to my obsession with the Hard Rock Cafe called DaveCafe. But that site is pretty much just another blog, and I've always wanted to do something more interactive with my fellow Hard Rock fanatics. One thing we all have in common is our desire to maximize the number of properties we visit in a given trip. But it's a bit trickier than you might think to calculate driving times, hotels, and what-not... and it would be nice if there was a resource to assist with such planning.
At least that's what fellow Hard Rocker Perry and I thought as we were planning a run through England, Wales, Germany, and The Netherlands...
So we set to work creating such a site. A place where people could plan Hard Rock visits and share their experiences, with the hope of having it ready before the Europe trip took place.
Unfortunately, in order to take two weeks away from work for the run, I pretty much had to work non-stop for two months in order to get caught up enough to leave. There just wasn't time to put the required hours in to get the graphics completed, and Hard Rock Run never quite came together.
Still, of all the forgotten domains I've blathered on about this week, this is the one that I would most like to have happen one day. If only I could find the time to work on it.
Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005
Not two minutes after I've sat down at my desk, I am told I have a phone call from "Rosetta." I don't know anyone named Rosetta, but heaven only knows that's something that's been missing in my life, so I accept the call. It went something like this...
Rosetta: I am calling because I visited your web site and really enjoyed it, but I am seeing that you don't have very good placement on search engines like AOL, MSN, and Google... am I right about that?
Me: WHAT?!? What are you talking about? What web site?
Rosetta: Oh let me see here... I've got the name right here...
Me: So you like my web site but you don't know the name of it?!?
Rosetta: It's DaveWeb.com... yes, DaveWeb.com!
Me: Well, there's nothing going on at DaveWeb.com... I'm not putting anything there right now. What did you like so much about a site that has nothing on it?
Rosetta: Oh, if there's nothing there, then that's probably why it's not showing up on search engines then.
Me: Tell me, don't you find it embarrassing that you've told me you like my site when you've never even seen it? Don't you feel incredibly stupid about being such a bad liar?
Rosetta: You have a nice day. =click=
When it comes to telemarketing calls, this is about as moronic as it gets. First of all, even though DaveWeb is not being updated right now, it's the #1 hit on Google, MSN and AOL when you actually type in "DaveWeb" so I can only guess that in addition to not bothering to even look at my site, they didn't bother to see how it's actually ranked in search engines either. Does this type of scam ever work for anybody?
Oh, and this just in... VERIZON DSL SUCKS ASS!!
After Verizon canceled and then reinstating my DSL order twice, I finally got everything straightened out after having spent nearly two hours on the phone. Third time's a charm, right? Uhhh... no. I am now getting emails telling my that my DSL install is scheduled for March 8th... but the name, address, and phone number referenced in the email are not mine.
So, if your name is "Angela" and you live in "Stafford, Virginia" - then, congratulations, your DSL installation is underway!
Naturally, the email says that it "was sent from a notification-only e-mail address that cannot accept incoming e-mail messages" so my only choice is to call the idiots.
After yet another hour on the phone this morning trying to get everything straightened out AGAIN, I am still not sure if or when I am ever going to get a DSL line installed. Which begs the question: does Verizon ever use their own customer service line to see how absurd it is? Nobody has the capability to do anything. All they do is take your name, then pass you on to another department. This morning I've been through Tech Support, Billing, Sales, Equipment, and was then transferred back to Tech Support where I started in the first place. Nobody knows anything.
How does Verizon make any money when they keep their departments tied up on the phones all day not doing anything but passing people around? Why don't they have a SINGLE department you can call with people there who can actually DO SOMETHING when there is a problem? The ridiculous system they have now does nothing but waste everybody's time and money. If I were a Verizon stockholder, I'd be absolutely furious to know that my investment was being pissed away on paying employees for stupid shit like this.
Verizon's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is Ivan G. Seidenberg. And Ivan, may I call you Ivan? You desperately need to reorganize your support system for DSL customers. You might want to start out by FIRING the INCOMPETENT DUMBASSES of everybody responsible for the "pass-the-buck" policy that's currently in place. Then tell whoever you hire to replace them that the very meaning of "Customer Service" is to SERVE THE CUSTOMER!! You are not SERVING THE CUSTOMER when you waste hours of their time and provide them no answers and no way to solve their problems. The only thing I was served today was my own ass.
I'm beginning to wonder if saving $20 a month was worth my time in Verizon purgatory?
Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2005
Usually, it takes liters of alcohol and a really good party for me to strip down and do the funky chicken.
Well, either that or Wang Chung is playing on the radio.
But now, thanks to The Gap, you can watch me "gettin' jiggy with it" whilst fully sober...
Kind of freaky how it actually kind of looks like me, albeit with better hair. If you want to see the whole sordid display, just click here.
Posted on Friday, September 16th, 2005
Greatest Fark headline ever: "Secrets of Delphi found in ancient text. Science no closer to discovering terrible secret of Turbo Pascal." (of course, not very many people will "get" that, but for those of us who were computer programers in the 80's, it's pretty darn funny).
Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2006
Most everything I buy now-a-days is purchased online. And one of my most favorite places to shop is Buy.com.
They're a solid, reliable company with a huge selection at very good prices. I like that they make it easy to manage my orders. Their shopping cart is great. They accept PayPal for payment. They ship quickly. Their policies are fair, and most of the time I can count on everything going smoothly when I place an order.
All-in-all, Buy.com is a great place to buy stuff.
Unless something goes wrong.
Because if something goes wrong, you will inevitably have to contact Customer Service. And Buy.com Customer Service sucks ass. Every single time I have had to deal with them, I end up so enraged that I want to kill somebody. If you ever hear in the news that I've gone on a murderous rampage and then locked myself in a donut shop somewhere, it's Buy.com Customer Service that's probably the cause of it.
And the reason for this is because the only thing they ever seem to do to service their customers is to send out piece-of-shit generic responses that usually have nothing to do with the question you asked. I've come to the conclusion that there can be two reasons for this...
A) They don't have actual people in their Customer Service Department, but instead have a big machine that automatically generates these stupid generic responses to your emails...
B) Their entire Customer Service Department is staffed by monkeys with PCs...
Because, seriously, there is no way that real-live people could be responsible for the shitty service you get. Real-dead people maybe, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal to employ the deceased.
Take for example my efforts to pre-order a copy of Pauly's new book: The Lost Blogs.
The book is offered for pre-order at Buy.com for the bargain-basement price of $10.04. They tell you to "place your order today and be one of the first to receive this product when it arrives!" I just love being first, and so I did. I placed my pre-order, then marked May 1st on my calendar with a happy face, because that's the day my book would ship.
Except Buy.com cancels my order after a week with some generic email telling me that they can't get the item from the publisher in a timely manner. Well no shit! It says right on the site that it's not available for three months! I knew this when I placed the order!
I send an email asking why they would ask me to place a pre-order, then cancel because the item isn't available.
They write back with another dumbass generic response that just tells me the exact same thing they told me in the cancellation notice email. I respond with my question re-phrased to make it clear what I am asking, but never get a response.
Thinking perhaps there was a release date change and it's some kind of error, I place ANOTHER ORDER.
Only to have it cancelled AGAIN.
And so AGAIN I write to Buy.com Customer Service asking why the f#@% they even bother to accept pre-orders if they are going to f#@%ing cancel them before the release date even arrives.
Another idiotic generic response about the item not being available. WELL NO SHIT YOU MORON!! THAT'S WHAT A PRE-ORDER IS FOR!!
So I finally take a difference approach and fire off a fresh email asking if the reason my order keeps getting cancelled is because I am paying with PayPal. I theorize that there is probably a time-frame that companies are obligated to ship the product when they take your money, and perhaps this is the reason? Is that why? Can they just delay processing the payment until the item is available... just like they don't charge your credit card until something ships?
Same f#@%ing generic response that in NO WAY even comes CLOSE to answering my question.
Ergo, nobody reads any emails that you send to Buy.com Customer Service. It's either a machine or monkeys. And it's not that I have a problem with companies using generic responses... IF THEY ANSWER THE F#@%ING QUESTION, but how the f#@% can you possible call this kind of treatment "Customer Service?" It's more like "Customer Torture".
And so now every time I need to buy something, I have to ask myself if Buy.com is someplace I really want to shop. Sure it's great when everything works out, but heaven-help you if it doesn't. If this is the price of saving money on things I want, I'd rather pay the extra and know that I'll be taken care of when things go wrong.
Posted on Friday, June 30th, 2006
I have a bit of a confession.
While I was working these past weeks, I had a friend approving my comments. Oh sure, I took time out of my busy schedule to read each and every one (because I love me the comments that much), but I just didn't have time to weed through the spam and haters every time a comment needed to be approved. Rather than let them stack up for a month, I had somebody lend a hand. It was as close to my dream "COMMENT-A-TRON 3000" as I'm likely to ever get.
Well, now that I'm back, I'm looking through the comments that were held for some reason or another. Surprisingly, only two were outright nasty (deleted it!). The remaining three were positively reprehensible...
Somebody with a vendetta against Elizabeth Hurley decided to inform me of their insanity on three separate entries.
It's not the first time, and I just don't get it. Do these people honestly feel that I give a crap about trolls who have to say inflammatory trash to get attention? Do they believe in any possible way that I'm going to approve comments with such vile, hateful, filth even if it weren't about the utter perfection that is Elizabeth Hurley? Let's review REALITY here...
For the benefit of the learning impaired, I've constructed the above chart to illustrate How Things Are... with the sublime hotness of Elizabeth Hurley at the top, and decreasing levels of hotness following below.
Now, given my understanding of REALITY, the level of stupidity it would take for somebody to think that any ludicrous comment could possibly change my mind about Liz is truly distrubing.
And kind of sad.
These people have nothing better to do with their life?
And speaking of "disturbing hotness" I ran across this image while doing a Google search for something I now forget...
It's a latex nun. With a cat-o-nine-tails. When I look at it I don't know whether to become aroused, hide under my bed, or start crying. All I do know is that latex is some freaky-cool stuff. For some big fun, you can see other wacky creations at The Latex Lounge. I had thought of ordering me some latex biker shorts to wear while running errands around town, but $130 is a bit steep for a half-pair of pants. A thong is only $37.50, but I would probably get arrested for wearing that in the conservative wilds of Central Washington.
But the minute I have $485 burning a hole in my pocket... that Captain's Jacket is smokin'!
Of course, then I'd have to get the $450 pants to go with it.
And a sash. It's just not complete without a sash.
Posted on Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
Would Microsoft Windows sufferers who are still using Internet Explorer please just stop it? Go download Firefox or Opera or whatever, and start using a real web browser instead. I am tired of spending hours and hours tracking down the crap-load of bugs and quirks unique to Internet Explorer so that web pages display properly. It seems that every time I get to the end of a project, I find stuff that renders beautifully in regular browsers, but end up looking like crap in IE...
It's a real pain in the ass, so if everybody on the internets could just stop using it, that would be great.
Oh, and since the new Windows Vista version of Outlook f#@%s up HTML emails, if you would switch to Thunderbird or some other email client while you're at it, I'd appreciate it.
This sucks ass. Blogography has been fragged with a scrolling bug in IE for ages, and I've got no time to fix it because I'm too busy fixing everything else.
Why does Microsoft hate us so much?
Posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2007
Can I just say that Criss Angel kicked total ass in his guest spot on the episode CSI New York from last night? The guy is a decent magician to begin with, but who knew he could act as well? His emotionally disturbed character of Luke Blade was no easy role to play, and he managed it beautifully. Good episode. Perfect casting.
As more and more of our lives ends up on the internet, there's more and more ways to put yourself there. I've always thought that a daily update on my blog is enough, but then a service called "Twitter" comes along that allows you to put continuous updates about your life on the internet all day long. Despite an occasional trip somewhere, most of my life is pretty boring, and would end up looking something like this...
I don't know why anybody would want to read something like that, so my Twitter account goes unused. Since you can update from your mobile phone, I keep thinking that maybe I'll Twitter one of my trips or something. Travel is mostly mundane torture for me, but maybe somebody would find it interesting?
Another internet invention is a service called "Facebook" which is a kind of social-networking site. It started out for college students to maintain contacts and stuff, but eventually opened up to everybody. Once you join up, you can invite others to join and be on your friends list. Karl from Secondhand Tryptophan invited me to be his friend, and now he appears when I login...
Today I logged into Facebook for some reason, and noticed that I'm being asked how I know Karl. I click on him to answer, and a box comes up with a list of options. When I read through the list, I don't see an option for "Blogging Buddies" so I thought I'd select "Through Facebook" instead. After I checked the box, a little menu popped up asking me what kind of Facebook friend Karl was to me...
POKE BUDDIES?!? What the hell kind of stuff is going on at FaceBook? I mean, I like Karl and all... and look forward to meeting him in person and stuff... but this is a bit more intimate of a relationship than I'm ready for. I decided to go for something less dramatic and select "We hooked up" instead, but figured Karl would probably delete me for something like that. Ultimately, I just selected "Met randomly" and was able to hand-type "Blogging Buddies" which is what I was looking for all along...
Interestingly enough, Facebook won't take my word for it that Karl and I are Blogging Buddies. Instead, they are going to ask Karl for confirmation. Am I really so untrusting?
Even more interesting... I now have an option to "Poke Karl!" (with exclamation point!). WTF? I must be missing something here, so I go to the Help Center to try and figure out what all this poking is about. Here is what I found out...
What is a poke?
We have about as much of an idea as you do. We thought it would be fun to make a feature that had no real purpose and to see what happens from there. So mess around with it, because you're not getting an explanation from us.
Holy crap! If the people who created the poking don't know and won't tell... what the heck are Facebook users supposed to think? "Mess around with it?" What if I poke Karl and he explodes? And what the heck is going to happen when somebody pokes ME?!?
If you don't hear anything from me tomorrow, it's probably because Karl poked me and I exploded.
Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Wow. The reaction to my April Fool's condom ad was so favorable that I almost wish I was able to manufacture them! I should start experimenting with latex, chocolate pudding, and banana molds... how difficult can it be to make a condom?
And speaking of experimentation...
Ever since I found out that I'm 20% gay, I've been trying to find a way to put it to good use. I was going to find a pride parade to march in so that I could show support for my 100% gay brothers and sisters, but I just can't pull off the dress code...
Fortunately, Jestertunes has come to the rescue and is having me on as Very Special guest-host for a Very Special episode of The Jester Show tonight (Wednesday) at 7:00 Pacific (10:00 Eastern)...
The topic for the last half of the show is going to be "Your Favorite Television Shows of The 80's" so it ought to be big fun!
As for the first half of the program, heaven only knows what trouble we'll get into. Since his show description says that we'll be "waxing hysterical on gay sex," perhaps I'll have a chance to ask him about those burning gay questions that have come up over the years...
So tune into The Jester Show tonight for "Long time friends and blog acquaintances waxing hysterical on gay sex, politics, tv, movies, music, and generally trashing people we come into contact with on a regular basis." I'm sure it will be fierce and fabulous!*
* Well, I'm sure Jester will be fierce and fabulous... I'm just going to embarrass myself as usual.
Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
As you are probably aware from my ceaseless whining, I live a busy and complex life.
This would explain my obsession when it comes to finding ways of making common tasks easier and more efficient. Because the more time I'm able to save throughout the day, the more time I'm able to set aside for luxury activities like sleeping and going to the bathroom.
A couple weeks ago, I happened upon something new to me in the freezer case at my local grocery store: UNCRUSTABLES!!
These are tiny frozen sandwiches from Smuckers that you thaw out and eat without all that mucking about with a loaf of bread and making a mess. I tried the peanut butter and jellies first... both strawberry and grape were yummy. I then found grilled cheese... totally delicious. Sure they are horrible for your health, but they are just so darn convenient that I can't get enough of them...
Then the other day I ran across a NEW Uncrustables variety... peanut butter and honey. I like honey, so I bought a box to try.
Holy crap! I believe that this is what "suck" would taste like if you could distill the essence of suckage to a food product. On top of tasting horrible, I was shocked to discover that the "honey spread" contained any honey, because it tasted more like toxic waste. Sandwich FAIL!
Oh well. I guess you can't win them all... but did anybody at Smuckers bother to TASTE these things before selling them? When your motto is "With a name like Smuckers, it's got to be good," you'd think that they'd have to be a little more careful with the crap they actually put their name on.
And in other, more expected news...
I keep hoping my pet Webkinz monkey will calm down after having been ripped off by the Webkinz eStore, but it just hasn't happened. If anything, the little psychopath has escalated his game... getting more creative with his senseless killings. I think he's always resented the cat who works at the employment office, and saw him heading that way...
The remainder of this entry NOT appropriate for children or those who are traumatized by cartoon violence!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2008
While watching one of the most awesome episodes of Survivor ever made tonight, I suddenly needed to know what the original line-up of the Kota Tribe was on the show. My laptop was handy, but I had been dying to try out the new "Google App" on my iPhone because it's been new and improved with "voice search functionality." The idea is that you start up the app, then speak the search term you want to look for, and Google will interpret your words and display the search results. Simple, right?
Not so much.
After a couple of failed searches, I started writing down the results I was getting. Despite being in a quiet room with no ambient noise, Google simply could not understand me... no matter how many times I tried or how many ways I tried pronouncing it. Heaven only knows how much worse it would be if you tried using it on a busy street or something.
Google Voice Search: "Kota Tribe"
Google Voice Search: "Survivor Kota Tribe"
Survivor Hotel Triton
Survivor Cook A Tri
Survivor Cook Islands Tribe
Google Voice Search: "Survivor Tribe Kota"
Survivor Tribe Hotel
Google Voice Search: "Survivor Gabon Kota"
Survivor Gabon Coachella
Survivor Gabon Code 10
Survivor Gabon Code
Survivor Gabon Costco
Survivor Gabon Cocktail
Google Voice Search: "Charlie Herschel"
Google Voice Search: "Survivor Randy"
Google Voice Search: "Sugar Voted Randy"
Sugar Coated Candy
Google Voice Search: "Sugar Voted for Randy"
Sugar Coated for Randy
Sugar Voted for Tent
Google Voice Search: "Pushing Daisies Cancelled"
PUSHING DAISIES CANCELLED!
Google Voice Search: "Blogography"
Result: ULTIMATE FAIL!
We've got a while to go before machines are smart enough to interpret voice commands with an acceptable rate of accuracy. Until then, it's just a novelty that wastes more time than it saves... at least it is in this case. Still, it's a very good idea, and I hope Google improves it over time. If they can get it to work better, it would sure beat having to type on a phone.
Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
This morning I had still more problems with my DSL. It seems every time I turn around my internet is either busted or unbelievably slow. And, of course, Verizon doesn't give a shit. Oh they put on a good show of wanting to provide good service, but it's all a time-wasting sham. I tried calling this morning and got disconnected. I called again and somehow ended up in the mobile wireless department. After 30 minutes of trying to talk to anybody, I had to give up so I could go to work.
I get home tonight and, SURPRISE, internet is still down. So once again I have to call and, basically, waste an hour of my life with my service provider to get things straightened out... kind of... while paying them for the privilege!
It's things like this that drive me insane when the whole "Net Neutrality" debate rears its ugly head...
Not content to merely overcharge their customers for shitty service, ISPs also want to screw them over by controlling what and how they get to experience the internet...
Net Neutrality opponents consider the very idea an affront to free enterprise. I consider it an essential to maintaining my presence on the internet. Because I complain about most everything here on Blogography, and am sure to have pissed off enough corporations that have the money and/or influence to get my blog dumped in the slow lane or banned altogether.
So no more complaining about important net-influential companies, such as major Internet Service Providers like Verizon.
Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Who knew I'd be adding one more thing to my Anarchy List after just one day!Earlier this week, Verizon's internet email server suddenly stopped allowing me to send emails. I called "tech support" and was told my password was probably wrong. I doubted it, since the same password has been stored on my computer and working for the past five years, but I played along. Eventually it started working again, but I surmised it was probably a temporary problem with Verizon's SMTP server rather than anything on my end.
Then this morning, after sending a dozen emails just fine, Verizon stopped accepting my emails once again. First I tried using the "Automated Customer Support Agent" because the thought of calling Verizon Support made me want to slam my head in a door. He's kind of stupid-robot-plastic-looking-creepy... especially when he blinks... but I didn't want to judge "his" intelligence by appearances...
Obviously getting nowhere, I called up "tech support." I wish I would have recorded the conversation. Not just because it was incredibly stupid... but because I'm screaming like a two-year-old at the end. A much abbreviated approximation of the call went something like this...
I see that you called two days ago...
You reset your password?
Yes. I had to because your SMTP server stopped accepting my emails. They said I probably has a bad password even though it is saved on my computer and has worked for the past five years.
If we have confirmed that the password is working, then it is a Mac problem.
I sincerely doubt that, but hey... whatever. What do you want me to do?
I'm trying to tell you that it is a Mac problem.
If you can login to Verizon, then it is not a Verizon problem.
Then you are obviously insane. All logging on to the Verizon website does is verify that my password is working. It does nothing to verify that your SMTP server is working properly.
They are the same server.
A web server doesn't run SMTP services. They are two different things.
I'm telling you they are the same server.
You're telling me that a web service sending HTML pages is the exact same thing as an SMTP service relaying emails? Even though they use different protocols over different ports?
That is what I am telling you.
Then you obviously don't know what you are talking about. Can I speak to somebody that does?
They will have the same information I am giving you.
You are driving me crazy here. My account has worked fine for FIVE YEARS. I entered a new password and things worked again for a day and a half. Now you're telling me this is MY problem? Well I guess I have to cancel ANOTHER Verizon account. Thanks for nothing.
As you can see, I got better support from the "Automated Virtual Assistant."
Verizon "tech support" is apparently staffed with people who have no initiative to look past the script on their screen or investigate anything that has to do with THEM having the problem.
And here's the deal... twenty minutes later, AFTER CHANGING NOTHING, my emails were being mysteriously accepted again. So yes, this is MY fault. It is a MACINTOSH problem. It was my MACINTOSH that suddenly decided to fake an SMTP error from Verizon out of the blue. No way that Verizon's flakey SMTP server could be having problems... BECAUSE THE WEB SERVER IS WORKING. And, as you know, THE WEB SERVER AND THE SMTP SERVER ARE THE EXACT SAME THING. Which is surprising, because EVERY COMPUTER I'VE EVER SEEN has them as two separate services. Unless you consider webmail, but even then the email is undoubtedly passed off to another service to actually be sent. Yes, it is possible to run both servers on the same computer, BUT THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!
It's like saying your busted-ass toaster isn't broken because your microwave is working and they're both in the same kitchen.
Maybe I should send Verizon "tech support" a link to WikiAnswers. Or maybe EVERYBODY ELSE IS WRONG TOO! Maybe Verizon has some super-service that serves web, email, and video porn from the same app! ZOMG! THEY'RE JUST THAT SMERT!! That way when ONE fails, EVERYTHING FAILS! Genius!
Now, I realize the general population is stupid and you have to assume that they've fucked up somewhere because 99% of the time it's probably true. Or they're running Windows. But give me a break. I'm not some random idiot who doesn't know how to turn on a computer, so treating my like I'm the moron who doesn't know the difference between a website and email is only going to piss me off.
I hate Verizon. I hate them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Nothing is ever their problem. EVER. It's always YOUR fault or your MAC'S fault. YOU'VE changed something. YOU'VE done something wrong. Which is why it's no wonder I finally cancelled Verizon DSL at home. Hey, my cable internet may slow to a craw for a few minutes at random intervals, but at least I am not having to deal with Verizon "tech support" any more.
In other news, I am totally hiring that "Verizon Automated Virtual Assistant" to write for my blog. That guy is GENIUS!
Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
It seems that the one thing which hasn't been hurt by the economic recession is lawsuits. If anything, they've been escalating as lawyer-happy assholes try to exploit frivolous lawsuits as source of new revenue. At first I found it funny, but lately I've been increasingly outraged by the bullshit that is clogging up our courts.
Case in point: Hollywood's favorite drunken drug-addicted publicity whore, Lindsay Lohan, is suing E*Trade because she feels that people associate the name "Lindsay" with her the same way that people associate Oprah and Madonna's first names with them, and this commercial reflects badly on her...
Except I have news for Ms. Lohan: YOU ARE NOT OPRAH OR MADONNA!
This is fucking bullshit because I have never seen or heard of any show or publication ever referring to Ms. Lohan as simply "Lindsay." If anything, she should be filing lawsuits against people using "Blowhan" or "Firecrotch" or "HoHan" in a derogatory manner, because those those single-word names people do associate with her.
Currently, there are two things that Lindsay Lohan is most famous for, neither of which is her "music" or her "acting" or her "fashion."
#1 Flashing her cootchie everywhere...
#2 Partying like a drunken drug addict in-between trips to rehab...
That's it. That's what everybody knows her for. That's what she's good at. For her to imply otherwise is just the epitome of denial and self-delusion.
Whether or not E*Trade intended to mock Ms. Lohan in their commercial by using the generic name "Lindsay" is subjective.
But the fact that everybody on earth automatically links the name "Lindsay Lohan" to a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher is nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. By extension, people making the connection between a milkoholic baby named "Lindsay" and Lindsay Lohan is also nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. You can sue people all you want, but it's not going to change the image you've worked so hard to cultivate.
So now the legal wranglings begin as our courts will decide whether Lindsay Lohan should profit ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS for being a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher.
It's times like this I am so very proud to be an American. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! GOOOOO AMERICA!!
Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
I have a blog entry I'm working on, but my "Betty White" Google News Alert* brought some most excellent news to my attention, so I'll post it tomorrow.
TV Land PRIME's new original production of Hot in Cleveland starring BETTY WHITE will start airing in June on TV Land!
Frickin' amazing as always.
First she gets a Saturday Night Live hosting gig on May 8th, then a guest-spot on the season finale of The Middle, and now she's in a new television series. Sweet!
So glad Ms. White is showing no signs of slowing down, because everything's better with Betty!
I sure wish Chelsea Lately would book Betty as a guest. Now THAT... would be an awesome interview.
UPDATE: In even more Betty news... Betty White will be a guest on Larry King Live tomorrow night on CNN (6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern). I positively loathe Larry King. I think he's about the shittiest "professional" interviewer working in television (yes, that includes Tyra Banks)... but you can bet I'll be tuning in for this one!
* For those curious about "Google News Alerts"... any time you do a search for something at Google News you can scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for "email alerts" for whatever you just searched for (or anything else, for that matter). Then, at intervals you determine, Google will email you a report of things that show up in their news feed. Easy! And customizable...
I have alerts for people like Betty White, Elizabeth Hurley, and Steve Jobs... and things like ACTA, Macintosh, and Chocolate Pudding. Very handy... and free!
Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010
Roger Ebert, one of the very few movie critics I respect, a writer I admire, and one of the most fascinating people on the planet, recently wrote a column on his blog stating Video Games Can Never Be Art. Since I've made artistic contributions to a couple of video games, I was tempted to dismiss the article outright. But it's Ebert, so I am compelled to consider his premise. Then Livvy Collette wrote a nice rebuttal that touched on why I can't agree with Ebert's conclusion: there's such a huge amount of creativity involved in crafting a good video game that they can't help but be art.
Which brings us to this immutable fact:
I love my Weighted Companion Cube from the video game Portal more than most people I meet.
Sure it's wacky, improbable, and borderline psychotic... but it's also inexplicably true.
Because not only is my Weighted Companion Cube just a "character" from a video game... it's also an inanimate object from a video game. Yet, the artists at Valve have created a fully realized environment so involving that it causes an emotional response from me towards it. And while I'll be the first to admit that this feeling is not as powerful as the one I get from looking at a painting like Starry Night or watching a film like Cinema Paradiso or reading a book like Jonathan Livingston Seagull or standing in a structure like St. Peter's Basilica... it's still the kind of reaction I get when exposed to a work of all-encompassing art.
Portal is also a lot of fun, which is just a bonus.
The thing that makes art so fascinating is that it is ever-changing and cannot be easily defined. Many of the things we know as "art" today would have been inconceivable a century ago. Or, if not inconceivable, certainly not defined as "art." I once went to a gallery installation where a room was fitted with video screens on the walls and electronic sensors in the floor. The sensors calculated the combined weight of all the people standing in the room, ran the data through a mathematical formula, then displayed beautiful graphics on the wall accordingly. If there were few people in the room, the graphics would be serene. As more people entered, the displays became more chaotic. I accepted the room as artistic expression, even though I had reservations as to the premise (the number of people is easily skewed... twenty small children register as fewer people, three NFL linebackers register as more). Everything in the room was created (albeit dynamically) to affect the senses, perhaps even provoke a reaction. Just like a video game.
Just like art.
And if technology keeps progressing, eventually virtual reality will involve people within the simulation creating art that only exists inside a computer. Thus making a video game out of life. The ultimate artistic expression.
In the end, no one person can define what is... or is not... art. That's because art is subjective and not quantifiable. Art is something you feel. Art is something you sense. Art is something you believe.
Art is in the eye of the beholder.
And lest you think that my opinion is flawed because of my admitted video game psychosis, I would be remiss not to disclose that my Weighted Companion Cube agrees with me completely.
Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
For a company that makes millions of dollars off the advertising you serve up on every page of your site, I would have thought that you would be smarter about how you do your business. I mean, sure you don't know dick about privacy concerns for your users, but I'd think you'd have a clue when it came to your bread and butter. Anything less would make you fucking stupid.
Apparently you're fucking stupid.
When you sign up for Facebook, one of the first things you have to do is tell Facebook whether you are a man or a woman, whether you're interested in men or women (sexually, I'd imagine), and why the hell you're stupid enough to sign up for Facebook in the first place. My profile looks like this...
And there you have it. I am a man who is interested in women and looking for friendship on Facebook.
I'm "looking for friendship" because you forced me to pick something, and you don't have a checkbox for "I'm not looking for a damn thing, I'm only here because I want to keep in touch with people I know are here on Facebook."
I am not looking for "dating" or a "relationship" because I have no interest in online dating. None. I am not looking for "networking" because I think that's a stupid buzzword that basically means "I'm looking for people I can exploit for personal gain" (and while this may be true, it's not something I want to announce to the entire internet).
NOW... since I have made it very clear that I am NOT interested in dating or finding a relationship through Facebook, would you mind explaining why I see these skanky whores plastered on every fucking page?
WTF? I've told you why I'm here. Or, more to the point, why I'm not here for. Do you think I'm going to change my mind? That I'm going to take a look at some tongue-thrusting piece of eye candy and suddenly decide I want to start a relationship with her? Really? I mean... maybe I'd change my mind if there were additional options as to why I'm here...
But since there's not an option for "I'm looking for a piece of skanky ass to have a one-night-stand with"... what's your excuse? I'm putting my money on "BECAUSE YOU'RE FUCKING STUPID!"
After finally getting tired of being distracted by skanky whores on Facebook, I've started to mark all those ads as OFFENSIVE because I'm OFFENDED that Facebook is so fucking stupid as to serve up personalized ads that I've specifically stated I'm not interested in...
I figure if I mark enough of these things as OFFENSIVE they will eventually get the hint and stop pestering me with them.
So what did I get today? This...
Apparently, the reason those ads for skanky whores are "offending" to me is because they're in English. Switch them over to Spanish, and everything's all good.
That's a whole new level of dumbass right there.
I just don't know how much longer I can patronize a website where the people running it are so fucking stupid that they can't target advertising properly... despite knowing everything there is to know about people from when they fill out their profiles. It's like trying to sell a T-bone steak to a vegetarian when they've fucking told you that they don't eat meat and are wearing a T-shirt that says "MEAT IS MURDER!" How much of a fucking clue do you need?
Anyway, in return for telling you how to improve your revenue by serving ads to your users they might actually respond to, I'll just say YOU ARE WELCOME!
Dave2 from Blogography
UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that you don't have to check anything at all. It actually works! I'm now a non-sexual who is looking for nothing! Which, given the current state of my love-life, is about right.
Though I still think it's incredibly stupid that Facebook can't manage to use the information it has readily available to serve relevant ads. That's online marketing 101.
Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Hey! What the heck happened to the Bullet Sunday I posted yesterday? Blech. I'm back one day and am already having blog problems. Oh goody. A mystery to solve tomorrow morning! But enough about yesterday...
I've stopped measuring the length of my flights in hours, and instead measure them by how many episodes of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show I can watch before I land. Oh how I love this podcast. Kevin Pollak's interviews are 100% pure gold, and better entertainment than most anything you'll find anywhere. I am insanely addicted to the show, and more thankful than I can express that the internet allows true talent to have a forum where they can do what they do without interference from television networks, ad execs, and all the bullshit that fucks up "regular" television.
I have to work very hard to restrain myself not to watch the shows live, and instead download them to my iPhone so I have something to watch while I travel. This has made me go from "HOLY CRAP! HOW MUCH LONGER BEFORE WE FRICKIN' LAND?!?" to "WHAT? WE'RE LANDING ALREADY? NOOOOO! I HAVE TWO MORE EPISODES OF KEVIN POLLAK TO WATCH!!"
I swear... the quality of guests he gets... the amazing information he gets out of them... the hilarious way he keeps things moving... THIS is the job he was born to have. I managed to see eight episodes on my way from Barcelona to Amsterdam to Seattle. It was a who's who of fascinating people that couldn't have been better picked if Kevin Pollak had asked me who he should interview...
Paul Rudd. One of my favorite people, he is consistently one of the funniest actors working today and has turned in dramatic performances that rival the best you'll ever see (not only that... he was a guest-star on Veronica Mars!). He's just as amazing off-screen as on, making this an interview you don't want to end.
Rob Riggle. I've mentioned a couple times here how big a fan I am of Rob Riggle and the many places he seems to pop up (The Daily Show, Gary Unmarried, The Hangover, etc. etc.). I knew from his banter with Jon Stewart that he was in the Marines, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. What an amazing, heroic, fascinating guy. Hearing what he's been through and what he gave up for his love of comedy and performing is nothing short of amazing. This is a MUST-SEE interview.
Craig Ferguson. Pretty much the best late-night host since Carson, this interview adds yet another level to a very funny and complex guy.
Maggie Lawson and James Roday. As if Psych being one of my favorite television shows wasn't enough to get me to watch this interview, these co-stars (and real-life couple) were an interesting interview in their own right.
Cheri Oteri. A Saturday Night Live alum with a great story and a fascinating look behind the show. After being entirely too ignored by the superficial "main-stream press," it's about time that Cheri got the interview she deserved. Thank you Kevin Pollak!
Steven Weber. The guy has a wide assortment of terrific roles (including Brian on Wings!) and seems to be fearless in his acting choices. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of who he is. His comedy and political writings are genius... just like this interview.
Neil Patrick Harris. Yet another interview that was so good it could have gone on for four hours and you'd never notice the time passing by. Everything from working as a child actor to adopting twins with his partner... it's all here and it's all good.
Adam Scott. This is one of those actors that keeps popping up so often (Veronica Mars!) that you can't help but notice him. Eventually he landed on Party Down and has joined the cast of Parks and Recreation. Out of all the interviews I watched, I can honestly say that this frank, honest look at "making it" in Hollywood was easily my second-favorite after Rob Riggle's interview.
Next up in my queue... Greg Proops, J.K. Simmons, the Sklar Brothers, Bryan Cranston, and Fred Willard. As if that wasn't awesome enough, there's still the first 22 episodes which I haven't seen yet. I honestly don't know if I can wait until my next trip.
If you haven't checked out Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. The main website is here. The iTunes video podcast link is here. The iTunes audio podcast link is here. Highest possible recommendation.
Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010
I love creativity. I love art. I love art museums. I love traveling to art museums around the world and experiencing the amazing creatings of beauty and imagination I find there.
And yet... even though I travel quite a lot, it would be impossible for me to see all the museums and works of art that I'd like to see. That's why I'm thrilled that more and more museums are starting to put their collections online. Sure it's not the same as seeing them in person, but it's certainly better than nothing. Especially when you look at the amazing quality of the digital representations they're giving us.
First up is Haltadefinizione, with their astounding hi-res scans of some famous works. You can zoom in so close as to see the actual brushstrokes and cracks in the plaster. Like this breathtaking view of Jesus from The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci...
Or this stunning zoom of Bacco by Caravaggio...
Amazing. Just amazing. And they also offer gallery prints of the various works and selected zoom prints as well. I wish I could afford them.
In equally amazing news, The Vatican has graciously put a virtual "window" into the Sistine Chapel on their site so you can explore Michelangelo's master works of the cieling and Last Judgement (along with the works by other geniuses such as Raphael, Bernini, and Botticelli)...
Even though I've seen these works in person, I've never seen them like this. To be able to zoom in and study great masters in such detail is just too good to be true.
Art deserves to be enjoyed by everybody. Museums who choose to share their treasures over the internet are enriching the world for us all, and I couldn't be more grateful for their efforts.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get lost in some art for a while...
Posted on Saturday, October 16th, 2010
The harsh reality of the Computer Age is that your life is in constant danger. Well, the life that you store on your computer anyway. Your music, your photos, your movies, your work, your writing... it can all disappear in an instant. All it takes is a hard drive crash or theft or fire or an errant sledge hammer and it's all gone.
Thus, we develop backup strategies to keep our digital lives safe. For me this involves several levels of protection.
My first line of defence is Apple's Time Capsule device, which is constantly and wirelessly backing up all the data from my desktop and laptop Macs...
It's a great system, and has saved my bacon more times than I can count. Not just with lost data, but with recovering old versions of documents I need. The problem is that my first Time Capsule died, taking all my backups with it. Apple promptly replaced it, but the paranoia of losing everything AND losing my backup has caused me to go to extraordinary measures.
So now I am using a couple of old external LaCie Porsche drives I had collecting dust on a shelf to make a backup of my backup...
Except the drives are old. Reliable, but old. So I'm using a couple of newer Western Digital"MyBook" drives to backup the backup of my backup and store them off-site...
It's a good strategy, but still doesn't seem sufficient. So now I'm storing my most critical files in The Cloud on Amazon's S3 Internet Storage System. Unlike other online backup strategies like "Mozy" or "Carbonite" where your "unlimited" storage is tied to a single computer, Amazon lets you put any files from anywhere on their servers. Sure it costs more, but at least it's backup on my own terms.
And yet... I am still paranoid.
Posted on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
If you'd rather read a much more literate, intelligent, and less profanity-laden missive about net neutrality than you'll even find here... I urge you to read an open letter written by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in The Atlantic.
Otherwise? You've been warned.
And so... the FCC's "net neutrality" proposal has been passed.
Except it's not true net neutrality at all. It's a loophole-ridden pile of crap that's woefully inept and incomplete. I'd go so far as to call it "useless" but a bunch of Republican politicians are losing their shit over the mere suggestion of a free and open internet, so I guess it's not entirely useless. Though I must admit to being shocked that these same politicians stopped sucking special-interest penis long enough to notice. You'd think that fellating all those telco/cable/wireless company heads and stockholders would occupy all their attention.
In the meanwhile, internet freedom takes a hit and we all get fucked...
I am sick and tired of these bullshit fantasies that consumers will somehow ultimately steer the internet regardless of any restrictions that are put upon it. I keep reading things like "Well, if an Internet Service Provider (ISP) adds restrictions their customers don't like, then those customers will get a new ISP. And if ISPs don't provide what their customers want, they'll go out of business. The internet is self-regulating, and doesn't need any 'net neutrality' forced upon it! All that will do is inhibit ISPs from investing in services they provide but don't control. The internet is already" neutral without government intervention, let's keep it that way!"
It's such a laughable load of crap that I could barely bring myself to type it, but that's the argument anti-net-neutrality proponents keep pushing, so there you have it.
Except REALITY teaches us that this simply is not the case. History is replete with examples of big business fucking over people to make a buck. In fact, it's so commonplace that anybody who believes companies will be net-neutral of their own accord when there are billions of dollars to be made as internet services continue to convergence must be insane or clinically stupid.
Look, I understand that companies want to make money. That's the American Way, and the reason anybody goes into business in the first place. I get that. I support that. And if Internet Service Providers want to have tiered data plans so that heavy users pay more than infrequent users, then I would probably be fine with it. "Pay for what you use" and all that.
But this is not what we're talking about. It's about ISPs controlling access to information. It's about ISPs giving preferential access to their networks for wealthy companies willing to pay for it. It's about back-door partnerships and secret agreements which define how we live our lives. So yes... if a SINGLE Internet Service Provider started restricting access to say... Google Maps... and instead redirected you to MapQuest against your will... that ONE provider probably would go out of business as everybody moved to providers with unrestricted access. But we know that's not how it will happen. One company will start doing it. Then another. Then another. Then another. Soon, you may find all your internet options restricted because there won't be any net-neutral ISPs available. Or maybe there will be, but they won't be available where you live.
Remember when checking a piece of luggage used to be included in the cost of an airline ticket? But then one airline started charging for checked luggage. And before you knew it ALL airlines were doing it? Sure there are exceptions... Southwest, I believe, still hasn't given in to temptation... but does Southwest fly to my local airport? No. It's the same way with ISPs. Inevitably there may be some independent ISPs that choose to remain neutral and say no to the massive amount of cash they could make... but do you want to risk that they'll be one of the choices servicing your community?
Do I trust our government? Not really. Do I want our government running our lives? Definitely not. But there are roles the government was built for... like promoting the general welfare... by making sure companies don't sell things containing toxic substances... by making sure companies aren't polluting the environment... by making sure companies conduct business fairly... by making sure companies don't exploit their workers... and so on. Not that I'm saying the government does any of those things exceedingly well (ha!) but many of the more protective regulations we have in place serve a purpose and, generally speaking, we seem to be better off because of them. The internet has become such a critical, intricate part of our lives (both directly and indirectly) that it deserves the same attention. Not promoting the general welfare by protecting the internet's very existence through net neutrality could have horrific consequences for the citizens of this country and the world.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Net neutrality is freedom.
Allowing companies the option to take away this freedom under the banner of "freedom" is a mockery of the very foundation this country was built upon.
Not that this is anything new now-a-days, but I'd rather things not disintegrate completely right this minute.
Fight for net neutrality.
While you still can.
Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011
Most days, I don't really have time to goof around the internet because I've got work piled up to the rafters. I do try to keep Twitter running in a corner of my desktop, however. That way when I'm on the phone or have a minute between tasks I can catch up with everybody and see if anything is trending in the world that I should know about. Today was particularly heinous, work-wise, so I pretty much ignored the outside world altogether.
Then all of a sudden I noticed that people were going nuts on Twitter. Apparently, news broke that Astrologists had the constellations all wrong, and an Astronomer was trying to set things straight. In doing so, the dates for the Zodiac had shifted considerably, and a NEW constellation had even been added! Madness!
When I went to bed last night I was an Aries... THE RAM...
But now all of a sudden I was a Pisces... THE FISHES...
That totally sucks! I don't even like fish! If my Zodiac sign simply had to change, why couldn't I get something cool like the new sign, Ophiuchus?!? I mean, seriously, just look at this magnificent bastard...
Bitchin' drawing by Johannes Kepler!
Wrestling a giant snake with your dick hanging out while crushing a massive pubic louse under your foot... all while fending off an attack by some guy with a club in a bear hat?
How bad-ass is that?
So totally me right there.
Alas, a while later it was all revealed to be a boatload of crap and a lot of gross exaggeration by the media (big surprise).
And then I remembered that I don't believe in horoscopes and Zodiac stuff anyway, and was able to move on with my life.
I mean, I was a frickin' FISH there for a few hours!
Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Seven years ago, I received an email from a young man because he had nobody else he could turn to. It saddened me that somebody so young had such an unnecessarily difficult life... but it broke my heart that a stranger on the internet was the only place he felt he could turn to for a friendly word. Hurting and alone, his entire existence was that of suffering and hatred just because he happened to be gay. Through no fault of his own, for something he could not change even if he wanted to, he was mercilessly teased and bullied day in and day out.
His story changed me in a way I can never explain. But hearing somebody's hopes and dreams revolve entirely around escaping their miserable life is a soul-crushing experience that should change you.
Sadly, since that time, things have not gotten better. The rash of suicides among gay youth making the headlines these past years is a constant reminder how even being perceived as gay can have tragic results. At a time when just being a kid can be confusing and painful enough a burden, being bullied can be that final straw that removes all hope from a young life... maybe even one you know. And, sadly, it doesn't end there. Even if they manage to survive their youth, the violence, intolerance, and hatred never disappears.
This has to change.
And it will change if we want it to. And a big piece of the puzzle that's been missing is to change the attitudes of those that often end up doing the bullying: young straight men.
Enter Straight But Not Narrow...
It's wonderful that there are organizations like The Trevor Project available to assist after the damage is done, but it's organizations like Straight But Not Narrow which will (hopefully) start to change the way society views our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and neighbors. And it's about fucking time...
Some of the bravest, kindest, most decent and honorable men I know happen to be gay. Who they date or who they fall in love with makes no difference in their moral character. None. But anybody who would persecute them for who the are has serious character deficiencies regardless of what justification they try to use to back-up their hate...
Everybody has their own beliefs. Everybody has their own opinions. And that's fine. That's America. But if what you say fosters hatred towards somebody so vicious that it can lead to their death... then you have no place in a society which was built specifically to insure the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.
I can only hope that the voices of those in the Straight But Not Narrow project (and other organizations like it) can eventually drown out the voices from hateful pieces of shit whose only goal is to tear us apart because of our differences. It's these difference... and the right to be who we are... which should be binding us together.
Make a difference. Make your voice be heard.
Posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2012
At some point, we became a society that embraces a world where facts are no longer indisputable truth.
I know this, because every time I look at Facebook or Twitter I see loads of bullshit and lies being presented as "facts." And nobody seems to care. Not the people posting them. And certainly not the people blindly reposting them.
For the longest time, I really didn't give a crap because the people who believe the bullshit and lies are the people who need the bullshit and lies to create whatever reality it is they're living in.
But lately I've come to realize that there is a rapidly growing number of people so damn stupid that they believe the bullshit and lies because they're too lazy to bother verifying what they see. And they're being encouraged to vote based on this information.
And suddenly I realize that Depeche Mode had it right all along with the song New Dress on their brilliant album Black Celebration...
You can't change the world,
But you can change the facts.
And when you change the facts,
You change points of view.
If you change points of view,
You may change a vote.
And when you change a vote,
You may change the world.
We have better, faster, and easier access to information right now than at any time in history. And yet a Google search is apparently too much effort to verify that the "facts" people are reposting to Facebook and Twitter aren't actually bullshit and lies.
Oh well. I guess we get the world we deserve then.
And that's a fact.
Posted on Monday, December 24th, 2012
Every year NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) tries to diffuse their scary image as the harbinger of a nuclear attack by tracking Santa as he travels the world delivering toys to all the good boys and girls. Well, those who still believe anyway.
I'm guessing that Microsoft paid for the endorsement... one way or another. Just like they do when they buy air time in popular shows like Hawaii Five-0 and Elementary for product placement. Hell, in the case of Hawaii Five-0, they go further than just placement... they pay for actual fucking demos of their products to be injected into the show (I can't imagine how humiliating that must be for the writers and actors).
Anyway, Google, not one to miss out on an opportunity, game up with their own Santa Tracker. But they made it all cute with animations, games, and colorful graphics. I admit it was a pleasant change from the same old cheesy video renders you get from NORAD...
I wish Giant Santa luck on his big ride tonight. Hopefully he has some bottles of 5-Hour Energy to get him through.
Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
And so the Monopoly people selected the winning and losing tokens for their latest game sets.
The loser? My favorite token, of course. The iron is no more.
The winner? It's the cat...
It's a pretty cool token, really, though I was hoping the robot would win. But why couldn't they have dumped the stupid wheelbarrow or the stupid shoe instead of the iron?
Oh well. Guess I'll be the top hat from here on out. Who has a favorite token?
Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013
So this is where "society" is at now...
Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013
I'd like to think I'm respectful of people's opinions, even when they differ from my own. Especially when they differ from my own. I'm not saying it can't be frustrating, or I'm above poking fun at opinions I don't agree with... but I think it keeps life interesting to listen to what others think. Sure it might be easier if everybody thought the same way as me about things... but it would also be boring.
Where I have a problem is when people make opinions while being unintentionally uninformed or after having been misinformed (either intentionally or unintentionally).
I try harder than most to make sure my facts are correct so I won't be guilty of these crimes of ignorance. But, hey, mistakes happen to the best of us, and so I try to be tolerant even then.
There are those who make opinions while being intentionally uninformed, and that's what drives me bat-shit insane.
It's only gotten worse on the internet, because people feel less accountable for their opinions when they're bashing them out at a computer. I see it most every day.
For the sake of not being dragged into a fight involving faith or politics, I'll leave those piles of shit out of this, but that's where the most grievous offenses lay. People become so completely absorbed by a religion or political party that they refuse to listen to anything that even hints at a contrary viewpoint. Even cold, hard facts.
Though I may be over-exaggerating here, because I've seen the same kind of ignorant behavior over comic book characters.
The thing that got me thinking about intentional ignorance tonight is product reviews.
Whether it's book reviews on Amazon... or game reviews on the iTunes App Store... or movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes... or wherever you find people spewing their opinions, intentional ignorance abounds.
Which all basically boils down to this...
Which inevitably has me screaming at my computer display... SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU ASSHOLE! Not that that really helps anything, but at least I get the rage out of my system.
Sadly, there can be no end in sight. Intentional ignorance is here to stay, and there's nothing we can do about it. Except to accept that it's inevitable and too many people on this earth are too stupid to want to change it.
Feel free to disagree with my opinion, I don't mind. Really I don't.
Unless you didn't bother to actually read this, in which case... SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU ASSHOLE!
Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
And so Google Reader is dead.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.
As in I opened up my feed reader this morning and it returned no new articles.
Now, before I jump into things, I should probably talk a little bit about why I even give a crap seeing as how blogs are dying and most everything ends up on Facebook anyway. The short answer is "clutter." Yes, many blogs and news sources post their articles (or, more likely, a link to their articles) on Facebook. The problem is that my Facebook newsfeed is also jammed up with tons of other stuff. And that's fine... I actually enjoy keeping up with my friends by all the crazy crap they post... but I don't want to have to go digging through all that to find the blog and news posts I'm looking for. I want them in a separate place so I can quickly get to the material I'm seeking. And that material generally breaks down like this...
And so... where am I at now that Google Reader has gone the way of the dodo?
Well, I can't very well give up having a central service to keep track of my feeds so I can make sure things are synced between all my computers and iDevices, so I went looking for another service. At first I hopped on the Feedly bandwagon as most my friend have because, hey, it's free. But what happens when they too realize there's no money to be made in free webfeeds? And so I bailed from Feedly and signed up with Feed Wrangler. Unlike other "free" services with no business model for actually staying in business, Feed Wrangler is charging $19.95 a year to manage your feeds. A relatively small amount that I am happy to pay so I won't have to go through the Google Reader crap again.
And how am I accessing Feed Wrangler?
Well... their web interface is really good. Very clean. They have smart feeds there which is a spiffy feature. But I prefer to use an offline app so I can have a more feature-rich experience and a cache of my feeds so I can read where I don't have internet.
My first "real" feed reader was NetNewsWire. Brent Simmons clearly new what he was doing when he created it, as the thing Just Made Perfect Sense. It worked like a dream. Everything was so smart in implementation. But then Simmons sold it to NewsGator who in turn sold it to an app house called Black Pixel back in 2011. Black Pixel was more like a Black Hole from which information never escapes, so I finally ditched NetNewsWire for a new app called Reeder.
Reeder was slick looking, but pretty much brain-dead. When you "mark all as read" in NetNewsWire, it assumed you didn't want to read any more from that feed and popped you to the next one. Reeder just sat there like a turd after choosing "mark all as read," which made me hate the fucking app every time I had to manually step through shit I wasn't interested in.... WHICH IS WHY I MARKED IT ALL AS READ!!! Even worse, you could only navigate backwards to the previous post IF IT WAS IN THE SAME FEED! If the previous post was in a different feed, too fucking bad, you can't see it. Dumb stuff like that permitted Reeder, but I used it most of the time anyway because the alternatives were worse. Reeder for Mac doesn't work with Feed Wrangler (yet) even though the iPhone version does, so I was forced to dump it at long last.
The app recommended for connecting to Feed Wrangler that works right now is ReadKit. Unfortunately, ReadKit is even more mind-bogglingly brain-dead than Reeder. Not only does it have BOTH the "mark all as read" stupidity AND the navigation failure... it also has stupid keyboard shortcuts that ARE NOT USER DEFINABLE! With NetNewsWire, Brent Simmons picked the biggest fucking key on the keyboard to go to the next article... THE SPACE BAR! With ReadKit, it's the "J" key or something like that. A key you have to hunt for rather than lazily smashing the bottom of your keyboard. Not that it makes any difference... ReadKit doesn't even have a "Next Unread" button. It has a "show only unread" option, but it doesn't work until after you leave the current feed. Insanity.
Meanwhile, Black Pixel finally released NetNewsWire4 Beta. Desperate for a feed reader that actually made it easy to read my fucking webfeeds, I downloaded it. Even though it doesn't sync with any feed service. The good news is that after you "mark all as read," you actually jump past all the stuff you don't want to read to get to the next unread article (would be nice if it popped you to the next feed automatically but hey, it's beta). So far so good. Does it manage to navigate to the previous feed when you hit the back button to navigate back through the stuff you've read? Oh... this is new... there's no back button. NO FUCKING BACK BUTTON!! I know this is beta software, but how in the hell do you justify releasing a feed reader without a fucking back button? There may be a key for that, but I couldn't find it. And there's no documentation to speak of, so whatever.
I give up.
The only person I trust to write a feed reader that makes fucking sense is Brent Simons, but he's out of that game. I suppose I could cross my fingers and hope that on of the many alternative reader developers take a minute to truly understand what makes a good user experience, but I'm beginning to doubt that will ever happen. Everybody seems to be releasing the same reader with the same failings... they just look a little different and have a different name.
And so I'm back to reading my feed bank by using Feed Wrangler's website.
Maybe one day I'll spend the time to develop my own feed reader. One that will remember what articles you've read regard of which feed they're in and let you backtrack through them. One that will actually MARK SHIT AS READ AND THEN MOVE PAST IT SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ANY MORE. One that has keyboard shortcuts that make fucking sense. One that syncs with Feed Wrangler. One that doesn't make me start dropping F-bombs every time I go to talk about it.
But probably not.
Perhaps I should just follow Google's lead after all and give it all up.
Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013
"GET BACK HERE, TACO BOY!"
I'm pretty sure I was already kinda awake, but it was those words reverberating through the hallway of my hotel after hearing a door slam that finally managed to really wake me up.
Or, in this case, more like parents not minding their kids at 5:30am.
Not the best way to start my day, but it did start my imagination running as to how some kid would end up with "Taco Boy" as a nickname. At least I hope it's a nickname.
After that minor incident, I really have no complaints about my day. None. Checkout at the hotel was painless. The shuttle to the airport was on time. The people at the Sixt desk were awesome. My rental car ended up being a Prius that I really enjoy driving. The trip down to my job site was completely uneventful. The day's work started early and went well. I had Dr. Pepper, Pretzels, and GIANT Kit-Kat for lunch. A nice breeze took the edge off the afternoon heat. I caught up on my emails. I had a terrific dinner with a friend from work. Now I'm laying in bed listening to cicadas (or some other noisy bugs) screech into the night.
Well, okay, I really could do without the screeching bugs, but it sure beats screeching kids at 5:30 in the morning, so there's that.
And now I just don't know what to do with myself since I have nothing to complain about.
A few more days like this and I may have to give up blogging.
Oh... speaking of kids... this video was shared on Facebook by Certifiable Princess and is must-watch material...
Just one more good thing to come out of my day.
Dayamn! These videos are like popcorn. You just can't stop reaching for another handful.
Except I have an early call to work, so no more for me.
Posted on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
So there I am working while Modern Family is playing on TV for background noise.
Suddenly I hear a voice that sounds familiar. I look up and Claire is trapped in her bathroom with a plumber. I'm thinking the plumber actor played some kind of wiseguy character in a 1980's comedy movie... and it's driving me nuts that I can't figure out who it is.
So I replay the scene.
Yes, the plumber is definitely familiar. But I can't remember from where.
Finally I can't take it any more, so I IMDB the Earthquake episode of Modern Family .
This happens to me all the time.
I see or hear an actor... have a vague recollection of seeing them in something else... can't remember what it was... and end up scouring IMDB for the answer.
And every time I feel the sweet victory of KNOWING... I can't help but think "What in the heck did I do before the internet and IMDB came along?"
I honestly can't remember.
And, unfortunately, there's no spot on the internet to help me figure that out.
Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
If there were ever any doubts that our American politicians and courts are in the pocket of lobbyists and corporations, you can pretty much shove them aside now that the FCC has struck a blow to net neutrality.
I don't think I'm understating things when I say that the internet... the one true outlet for freedom and equality left in this country... is now totally fucked.
Unless this gets overturned or revised, you are no longer in control of the internet content available to you. Your Internet Service Provider is in control. Which, odds are, is a mega-corporation like Comcast, Time-Warner, Charter, Verizon, Cox, Frontier... and their confederates and owners. This is horrendously bad for many, many reasons, but your government just doesn't give a flying fuck. They're bought and paid for just like everything else in this country...
And so on. And so on. And so on.
There are people, of course, who feel that the free market will sort all this out. And I feel sorry for those who cling to this delusion, because there is no free market any more. The people who own everything will be deciding how you access the internet, and there's nothing "free" about that. Especially if you're in a rural area where you don't have any options for which company you can use to even get access to the internet in the first place.
When I think of all the tax dollars... OUR tax dollars... that went into building the internet only to have it fall into the hands of corporations, I'm shocked and disgusted. I know I shouldn't be, because that's the way everything else has gone, but I am. I always thought that the outcry against unfettered access to the internet would be so huge that there was no way it could ever happen.
Yet here we are.
Or maybe it's just me. For all I know, your ISP could decide that Blogography is an undesirable risk to their revenue stream, and my blog will no longer be accessible.
In that case, it's been nice knowing you.
Posted on Friday, January 17th, 2014
My "not-my-day-job" job requires a lot of patience, perseverance, humility, dedication and, above all... flexibility. Most every appointment I make involves my being "squeezed in" to somebody's calnedar, and things often change with only a moment's notice. Most times I will fly into a city a day early and leave two days late because I just don't know when I can get in the door. Often times, the trip itself happens without warning because an opportunity arises. Once I got a call as I was driving home from the airport telling me I had to turn around, go back to the airport, and be on the next flight to Orlando (which left in 90 minutes). Good thing I had a clean pair of underwear left over.
Needless to say, making personal plans while on the job is not easy. Often times it's impossible. Not that this stops me from trying. Fortunately, most of my friends in far away places are very understanding and forgiving when it comes to my having to change or cancel plans. They know it's not my choice that I can't make it to dinner or show up for a movie... it's just part of the game.
But it's not something everybody can handle.
Next week I have to be in San Francisco. Last time I was in the city for work, it was very last-minute, but my appointments were pretty well nailed-down to the daytime. So I made plans to get a tattoo and attend a farewell party during my free evenings... knowing full well that either could be canceled without notice. Lucky for me they weren't, and everything worked out fine. Until I got an email from a friend who was upset that I didn't contact them for a meet-up while I was there. I explained that the trip was a last-minute thing and all my time was booked, but promised I'd let them know the next time I was in San Francisco.
Except when I went to message them on Facebook once my schedule had been tightened up, I found out that I had been unfriended.
Like I said, my wildly erratic work and travel schedule is not something everybody can handle.
Which makes me really appreciate those friends who can put up with me.
Because sometimes it's all I can do to put up with myself.
Posted on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
It seems so very simple. If you have a penis, you're male. If you have a vagina, you're female. Yes, there are people who are born with/without sexual organs that challenge this two-party system, but it's a rare event and shouldn't change established conventions, right?
Unless you happen to be one of those precious few people who aren't born 100% male or 100% female, in which case being forced to check a box on a form that doesn't address your sexual identity seems unfair. Society treats your existence like some kind of a mistake, when you're just living your life the way God or biology made you. And that IS unfair.
But it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Because a person's sex... even if defined 100%... doesn't necessarily match your intrinsic sexual being. Which is where gender enters the picture.
I was once working with a team on a massive project that consumed our lives. As the days flew by, all our waking moments were spent in each other's company and we became quite close. As we were eating dinner one evening, one of the guys was lamenting how tough the gay dating scene had become. He thought that "Straight World" had more opportunities for finding someone than "Planet Gay," and he had resigned himself to dying alone. I didn't know if it's true that straights have more opportunities, but I assured him that it was no easier for dorky straight guys like myself to find somebody. One of the ladies chimed in with horror stories of being a woman in dating hell, and the competition for who had it worse was on. Until...
"You all have it easy. Try being trans and finding somebody to date!"
Turns out Margot had started out in life as Mark.
This was a bit confusing to me. Trans? Meaning transexual? What does that even mean? The extent of my knowledge on the subject was a joke about "chicks with dicks," which meant I knew absolutely nothing. And since I hate wallowing around in ignorance... especially when it comes to somebody as great as Margot... I did the only thing I knew how.
I asked her.
A part of me worried that asking about something so personal would be offensive, but Margot wasn't offended at all. I guess she would rather somebody care enough to ask than to speculate, which is true for all of us, I suppose. And so I found out how being born with a penis is not necessarily the defining attribute of a person's sexuality. Yes, young Mark liked boys, but his feelings went beyond identifying as "gay." He was never comfortable as a boy, never felt like a boy, didn't fit in as a boy, and felt trapped pretending to be a boy. It's not that he didn't want to BE a boy... penis notwithstanding, he simply WASN'T a boy. Not on the inside. So when it came time for the boy to become a man, Mark decided his sanity and survival depended on giving up on pretending and finally embracing who he was always meant to be... which turned out to be a woman.
Which is why I just don't get the continuing drama over Facebook adding a bunch of gender identity options for people's profile page. Apparently it makes some people "uncomfortable" to be exposed to the idea that humans exist who are not decisively male or female. And because they are "uncomfortable," these humans should be forced to conform to somebody else's personal standards as to what constitutes "gender."
And how fucked up is that?
Somebody telling you how to define who you are?
I mean, seriously, how does somebody wanting to identify as "trans" affect you? It makes you "uncomfortable?" Welcome to LIFE. If it makes them happy, makes their life bearable, makes them feel true to themselves, why would you give a fuck? It's their life. They are the one who has to live with it. Just be happy they're happy and live your own life for a change.
I don't understand how anybody thinks this world would be better off if everybody conformed to the exact specifications they have in their head as "normal." I have even a harder time understanding why people who feel this way decide to force their "normal" on others. Because, hey, everybody is abnormal to somebody.
Margot went through a fucking gauntlet to get to where she needed to be. Her entire childhood was a battle that most people wouldn't survive. She faces challenges in day-to-day life that would humble most people. And yet she made it through. She's figured out what makes her happy, and is content being who she is.
I think she's fucking earned the right to define her gender however the heck she wants to.
Anybody who disagrees doesn't have the strength to put themselves in her shoes for even ten minutes.
Which is a shame, because she always wore such nice ones.
Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 2014
This morning I woke up in a panic because I could no longer recall my CompuServe ID number. I don't know why it bothered me so much... I haven't used CompuServe in decades and there is no earthly reason I'd ever need to know it... but it did.
After thinking about it all day, I'm sure it's something like 74724.1609 — but that's not it. Darnit.
There was a time I was more familiar with my CompuServe ID than my own birthday. For those too young or not geeky enough to know what "CompuServe" was, Wikipedia to the rescue...
CompuServe (CompuServe Information Service, also known by its acronym CIS) was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates.
While nowhere near as magical as the modern-day internet, CompuServe certainly felt more magical back in the day. Despite the fact it was glacially slow and massively expensive, it was 200% wonderful, and I would have spent all day using it if I had the time and money to do so. Finding new friends... joining common interest groups... exchanging information... downloading programs... doing research... even accessing a rudimentary internet gateway... CompuServe had it all. For a big fat price.
Luckily we all had Bulletin Board Systems to fill the gap. They were every bit as entertaining in their own way and, most importantly, free... assuming you could get past a busy signal.
Until AOL came along.
Cheaper, faster, prettier, more expansive, and a lot easier to use... AOL bested CompuServe in almost every way.
Just like the internet would eventually best AOL.
And everything else.
Still, nostalgia for the good ol' days dictates that I should still remember my CompuServe ID...
Nope. I got nuthin'.
Posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014
Odds are, this post isn't going to be of any interest to you.
But the math geek in me feels that it should, so I am pushing onward.
Wolfram Research is a company that's been evolving the language of mathematics for over 25 years now. Initially, this was via a program called Mathematica, which I used back in the late 90's to map out data for a shareholder newsletter I was responsible for. It's an elegant and easy solution to creating visuals out of complex sets of information. Eventually Mathematica lead to Wolfram Alpha, a "computational knowledge engine." It's a really cool tool that anybody can use for free on the Wolfram Alpha website (click on the "examples" link to get some idea of the amazing things it can do). If you have an iPhone and ask Siri something which requires calculation, you're already familiar with Wolfram Alpha, because that's where Siri goes for answers.
Fast forward to today, and we get the Wolfram Language... a programming language leveraging the power of Mathematica. Mind-blowing stuff.
Galileo Galilei is noted for saying "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." If this is true, here's your chance to play God...
I think of myself as a kid learning how to program code using crude computer languages like BASIC and PASCAL, and I can't help but wonder what I might have created if tools like the Wolfram Language were around.
Oh the interesting times we live in.
Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Veronica Mars is my second favorite television show of all time. Coincidentally enough, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas (not the singer) is also responsible for my first favorite television show of all time, Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original, not the shitty remake). Given my adoration of all things Rob Thomas, I had zero hesitation in joining 91,584 other fans in supporting his highly successful Kickstarter campaign to bring Veronica Mars to the big screen.
As part of my "reward" for being a backer, I get a digital copy of the film so I can watch it on the day of release. Which is today. Much to my horror, the code to access the film wasn't through iTunes, but instead via UltraViolet, which is one of the single biggest technological pieces of shit of all time. But I'll get into that in an extended entry. Meanwhile, back to the movie...
I'm just going to come out and say it. The central "whodunit mystery" around which the story revolves is pretty lame. A few red herrings, but none of the twists and turns or shocking revelations that made the television show so compelling. This is hardly surprising. The movie has the rather daunting disadvantage of having to educate viewers new to the franchise plus showcasing enough insider goodies to satisfy die-hard fans as well as having to catch up with an entire cast of characters people haven't seen for seven years.
To be honest, I'm surprised they managed to fit a mystery in there at all.
But squeeze it in they did, and the result is a love-letter to everybody who put up their hard-earned money to get the film made. Which is to say it's a total success story, and I don't think anybody who's a fan of the show is going to be disappointed.
The plot is fairly straight-forward. Veronica's bad-boy ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls, has been framed for murder, which results in Veronica dropping her new life in New York City so she can return home to help him out after nine long years away. Once back in Neptune, which is even more deadly, ruthless, and corrupt than ever, we catch up with all her old friends and enemies. Well, not all of them... but most of them. The laundry list of cameo appearances is shockingly long.
Where the movie shines is in the way the Rob Thomas manages to get everybody on that list involved in the story. Yes, a few of the cameos are just quick distractions (hey, Corny!), but the bulk of them are carefully interwoven into events so they are appearing for a reason. Not many writers could pull that off without everything degenerating into a pile of crap, but Thomas seems to excel at it. And that's the fun. That's what makes the movie so darn good. Yes, your appreciation of the murder mystery is deeper if you know that Carrie Bishop put herself in the firing line to seek revenge for her best friend Susan Knight getting seduced and knocked up by their history professor. Yes, Piz's familiarity with Wallace and Mac makes more sense if you knew that Piz was Wallace's roommate in college. Yes, Veronica's relationship with her father is more meaningful if you know that she destroyed his chance at a career, but he still loves her unconditionally anyway. Yes, there are scads of moments in the film that only pay-off fully if you're intimately familiar with the Veronica Mars universe. But, much to my surprise, it's still perfectly watchable even if you've never seen a minute of the television show.
But totally watch all three seasons of the television show if you plan on seeing the movie. It's so much sweeter if you do, and the original show is required viewing anyway.
So two thumbs way up and no spoilers from me!
And my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and everybody else who worked so hard to get the movie made. It was worth the wait. And if there's a Kickstarter campaign for a sequel... TAKE ALL MY MONEY, PLEASE! Heaven only knows the ending to the movie leaves that door wide open (perfect for the forthcoming line of books).
BONUS FEATURE! I was very happy to hear that one of my favorite bands, Mackintosh Braun, has a great new song on the Veronica Mars soundtrack. Here's their lyrics video for Don't Give In for your listening pleasure...
And now, for anybody who wants to read a rant about my efforts to plow though the pile of shit that is the "UltraViolet" digital video service, that's in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
This morning I needed to dig out a software manual from storage (remember when software came with printed manuals?) and had a small blue pressboard binder fall on my head. It looked familiar, but I didn't know why.
Remember when I was lamenting that I couldn't remember my CompuServe ID Number? Well, yeah, the small blue pressboard binder had all my CompuServe stuff in it... including my ID...
Now that I see it... 70717,3107... I can't imagine how I ever forgot it. Those digits flow through my mind like my own name, because it was my name for a number of years. When I typed it just then, I didn't even need to take a second look, my fingers automatically keyed it in. Just like old times.
Somehow, I feel more complete than I did yesterday.
ALSO in the small blue pressboard binder... COMPUSERVE INFORMATION SERVICE RATES: 1984!"
A few things...
All told, I'm currently on the internet for one thing or another at least 5 hours a day. That's minimum 35 hours a week... probably much more. Putting two hours of that in the daytime and three hours of that in the evening, in 2014 dollars I'd be spending $58.76 per day... $411.32 per week... just to get online.
And "being online" then sure ain't what it is now.
How in the hell did we ever make it out of the dark ages of technology?
Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
I'm going to just come right out and say it... I love McDonalds.
And that's no hyperbole, it's the truth. Sure I wish that they would take the McVeggie Deluxe national so I had a burger I could eat there but, even without a veggie option, I still like the chain. I love their fries. I like their egg & cheese breakfast biscuits. I like their side salads. I like their shakes. I like their McFlurries. I like their hot caramel sundaes. I like their fruit-n-yogurt parfaits. I even like their apple pies (just not as much as when they were fried). They've got food I like that's served fast at decent prices. What's not to love?*
But heaven forbid I ever mention liking McDonalds. Even hinting at having eaten there brings out all the people who think it's their mission in life to tell people what they can and cannot like...
"McDONALD'S IS TOXIC GARBAGE! I WOULDN'T FEED THEIR 'FOOD' TO MY DOG!"
"McDONALD'S IS DESTROYING THE PLANET! WHEN YOU EAT THERE, YOU'RE HELPING THEM!"
"ARE YOU STUPID? WHY NOT JUST EAT RAT POISON IF YOU'RE INTENT ON BEING SO UNHEALTHY?"
"WHAT KIND OF IDIOT RUINS THEIR BODY WITH FAT, SUGAR, AND CHEMICALS BY EATING AT McDONALDS?"
"McDONALD'S TARGETS CHILDREN FOR UNHEALTHY EATING HABITS WITH TOYS!"
"SO GROSS! THEIR CRAP ISN'T EVEN REAL FOOD!"
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Well, whatever. I honestly don't give a fuck. You don't like it? DON'T EAT THERE! You think it's unhealthy? DON'T EAT THERE! You have a problem with the food? DON'T EAT THERE! As for me? There's nothing wrong with an occasional bag of fries and a chocolate shake at McDonalds... AND I enjoy it, so just leave me the hell alone. I mean, thanks, but I am fully aware of the nutritional content (or lack thereof) of what I'm eating.
And then today a McDonalds post pops up in my Facebook feed.
The number of hateful comments shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.
For reasons completely unknown, there are people who hate McDonald's so much that they spend their valuable time ripping McDonald's to shit IN FACEBOOK COMMENTS! Which probably ranks right up there with "screaming into a pillow" when it comes to effectiveness, but whatever. At least when people feel the need to rip into me personally for my food choices, they think they're helping me out (or something) so they can feel good about doing me a solid. What possible benefit is there to leaving nasty comments for McDonalds on Facebook? Could there be a bigger waste of time?
Like blogging about it, I suppose.
* Well, okay, I DON'T love McDonald's clown figurehead, Ronald McDonald, who is terrifying...
Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
This has been the single most frustrating and anger-inducing experience I've had in years. I have spent more time screaming at my computer in two days than I have in all previous days since the dawn of computing. It would be nice if I could lay the blame for my rage on a single doorstep, but the reason this has been such a horrible ordeal is that just about everybody is responsible...
Too many websites make it too fucking difficult to change your password. Not only because they've hidden the option to make the change, but because they have absurdly stupid requirements as to what is acceptable for a password...
SORRY! Password must not be similar to your old password!
SORRY! Password must have at least one capital letter!
SORRY! Password must contain at least one number!
SORRY! Password must contain at least one non-alphanumeric character!
SORRY! Password must not contain two of the same characters in a row!
SORRY! Password must be a minimum of fifty-six characters in length!
The list goes on and on, and it drives me insane. It's MY password. If somebody guesses it because I don't have a number in it, that's MY fucking problem. All your efforts to force me into some absurdly random string of characters only ensures that I will never be able to remember it for those times I am forced to enter it by hand.
But here's the even worse part. Some websites force you to create some abstract password you'll never remember... THEN NOT ALLOW APPLE'S SAFARI BROWSER TO REMEMBER IT FOR YOU! Every time Safari pops up with a note that says "Safari cannot remember this password because the website has requested it not be stored" I want to put my fist through the screen and burn down the company who would make such a stupid fucking decision.
And don't get me started on websites which don't allow you to paste a password from your clipboard, but instead require that it be typed in manually. That should be punishable by death.
APPLETo their credit, Apple at least attempted to make password management easy by allowing you to have Safari suggest new passwords and then remember the password you enter. Safari then syncs that password across all your Apple devices (including iPhones, iPads, other Macs, etc.), which is astoundingly useful and cool. When it works, it's great. But, as mentioned above, it doesn't always work. Some sites disallow it. Sometimes Safari just doesn't save the hideously complex password it just suggested. Sometimes the login is not associated with the right website. There's all kinds of problems that can happen, and I'm guessing Safari's "remember password" feature only manages to work 50% of the time.
But it gets better.
Apple doesn't allow the stored password in Safari to be applied to other Apple apps! It goes something like this: 1) Go to change my AppleID password. 2) Safari suggests a randomly generated password that you'll never remember. 3) Safari saves your new AppleID password, then kindly asks if you want to apply the password for other Apple Services like iMessage, iCloud, and Facetime... which is so nice! 4) You go to buy a new song in the iTunes Store and APPLE FUCKING ASKS YOU FOR YOUR APPLEID PASSWORD! AND, YOU GUESSED IT, THE ONLY WAY TO ENTER THE PASSWORD INTO ITUNES IS TO TYPE IT IN MANUALLY! And since you can't fucking remember something like "RJ%P-TK3sO-#cD9yp*o-Ibn" you have to switch to Safari, go to the password manageer, locate your AppleID, enter your login password, copy the AppleID password, go back to iTunes, paste the password... then hope that you don't have to copy something else to the clipboard before iTunes asks for the password again since it asks for your password every five minutes (especially if you use iTunes Match, it would seem).
This is MIND-BOGGLINGLY FUCKING STUPID, APPLE! You have to allow iTunes to have access to your AppleID password when a user is logged in. Otherwise, people aren't going to use complex passwords. Which means that when it comes to people choosing shitty, easily-cracked passwords... YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!
UPDATE: BWAH HA HA HAAAA! How fucking embarrassing. I get to work expecting my work computer will have synced my keychain with all the changed passwords... NOPE! I had to enter everything all over again! In order to get the NEW passwords to sync, I have to disable iCloud Keychain Syncing... THEN REACTIVATE iCLOUD KEYCHAIN SYNCING. Apple: It Just Works!
UPDATE UPDATE: And, my iPhone required me to log back into all my Apple apps... like "Find My Friends" because it is ALSO too fucking stupid to use the damn keychain with my AppleID and password THAT IT IS ALREADY SYNCING TO! What a fucking joke. I thought that with iCloud, Apple would FINALLY get syncing done right since they botched it so badly in .Mac and MobileMe... NOPE! Still a horrendous pile of shit. And don't get me started how every time I do fucking ANYTHING with my password on my iPhone, it broadcasts an announcement to all my other Apple devices that it's using FaceTime now... AS IT HAS BEEN SINCE FACETIME WAS AVAILABLE!! Heaven only knows how many years it will be until Apple finally gets this crap all figured out. At this rate, probably never.
Long before Apple built a password manager into Safari, I was already using a nifty password managing app called 1Password by AgileBits. I've had a few minor problems with it over the years but, for the most part, it's a terrific piece of software. It does a greatjob of creating, storing, managing, and filling-in all kinds of passwords, credit cards, bank accounts, identities, encrypted notes, and such.
When I started changing all my passwords, I discovered that the version of 1Password I'm using was outdated, and I needed to upgrade to version 4. Well, they don't offer an upgrade, so you have to purchase an all-new copy... but it was on sale for half-price ($24.99) thanks to the Heartbleed bug, so I just went ahead and paid for the shit.
Only to have one of the most frustrating upgrade experiences ever. Seriously... upgrading from 1Password v3 to v4 was worse than getting punched in the fucking face.
First of all, they warn you to sync your Safari Plugin data with your main data store. This is done by creating a new fake login, which they don't really explain how to do. Eventually I just went to a shopping site and created a real login so I could force 1Password to add it to my main data store and be sure everything was synced. But it never worked. Each time I'd create a login, I'd go to the main 1Password app, but the login never showed up. After 20 minutes of this stupid crap, I finally didn't give a fuck, and just uninstalled the 1Password Safari Plugin. Who knows what data I lost.
Then it came time to install the v4 Safari Plugin. I couldn't find a separate link on their download page, so I Googled their site to find it. But after installing the plugin found at the link, Safari reported it was v3. So I uninstalled again and Googled for instructions, only to find that I could choose "Install Browser Extensions" from the 1Password app. Well that's easy, right?
Not so much. I then spent a half hour trying to get it to install. First of all, it kept installing version 3.9.20 even though I was double-clicking on the version 4 plugin. Don't ask me why. I had to reboot my MacBook before it would finally install the new version. But then the real battle began.
The problem being that 1Password must be running for the Safari install to work, but it keeps quitting before the install happens. It was a game of Catch-22 over and over and over again...
Start 1Password, press "Try again," 1Password quits. Repeat. TIMES INFINITY!
Even a complete re-install didn't work. Eventually I had to uninstall the entire app plus its support files... then start all over again with a backup data store synced on DropBox. What a fucking joke. I just paid $25 to waste nearly and hour of my precious time... for an upgrade. Thanks, AgileBits!
P.S. Why in the hell does AgileBits feel the need to install 1Password 4 inside of a FOLDER? Especially when the app is the ONLY item in the fucking folder. I'm guessing it has to do with problems writing to the Apps folder if the old 1Password is in place... but wouldn't a better solution be to rename the app with the new version number added?
And now, after TWO DAYS wasted, I finally have most all my passwords changed. Whether or not I'll actually be able to retrieve them to log in anywhere remains to be seen.
Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Time for a YouTube time-suck!
Good luck getting out alive.
I. Am. So. Old...
"I feel bad for people in the 90's, I really do."
Reason No. 765,236 why I love Betty White...
Nice to know that Larry King is still alive... and as creepy as ever.
And now for something completely different...
Lastly, one of many lists telling you what to see before you die (even if they put Santorini in Italy and don't know how to pronounce "buttes"...
I've barely been to a third of them...
Guess I'd better pack a suitcase...
Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Well, today didn't go as planned.
Not that this is in any way surprising.
In other news?
Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Today it reached 84° F
Tomorrow it's supposed to hit 86° F
And so I'm guessing this means Spring is over. Which is upsetting since it never really started until three weeks ago. So much for my favorite season.
As if that weren't horrible enough, THIS pretty much sums up my day...
The good news is that not all the links I needed were broken.
Most of them were just linking to the wrong page.
I'm not sure whether this is the case of us spending too many tax dollars... or too little. But it would be nice if Secretary of State John Kerry could get his shit fixed.
Posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2014
I loathe shopping.
I've never enjoyed it. If given the choice between going to the mall or getting water-boarded, I'd probably take the water-boarding. Especially during the holidays (at least the first time... as I've read that being water-boarded is seriously no fun at all). Now-a-days I rarely go to a mall or physical store to shop, I buy everything on the internet. And while I still loathe shopping, at least with online shopping I don't have to put pants on.
But that's not the only difference.
The biggest difference to me is that online shopping comes with customer reviews. When shopping at Amazon (my online store of choice) I have immediate access to the opinions of other people who have purchased the item I'm looking at. This can be a big plus. Except sometimes the reviews are paid or planted to make a product sound better than it is, in which case it's a huge detriment. They can also be sabotaged by people with nothing better to do than trash perfectly good products for petty reasons. But, overall, I trust reviews to even out and paint an accurate picture of what you'll be getting.
And, for the most part, this trust is not misplaced.
But what happens when it does?
I really like my current camera bag, a Tamrac Velocity 7x, but it's now too small to hold all my equipment and it screams "I'M A CAMERA BAG!!!" which probably acts like a beacon to thieves looking for an easy score. So I decided to buy something new. Which isn't an easy feat because no photographer I know has found the perfect bag. But this doesn't stop them from battling to the death in promoting the bag they prefer while brutally cutting up bags they don't. As you can imagine, this makes researching which bag to buy incredibly difficult. But I put in the time anyway and eventually landed on one which looked perfect for me.
Enter "The Brixton" by Ona Bags...
First of all, it's one of the best-looking camera bags I've ever seen. It looks like a high-end messenger bag and doesn't say "I'm a camera bag" at all. Sure, for the sake of the cows that died to make it, I wish it didn't have leather accents, but at least those poor animals can rest in peace knowing that their hide was used to make something so beautiful.
But, when it comes to baggage, I'll take functionality over beauty any day, so how well does it work as a camera bag?
Well, according to all the reviews I read, it was the most amazing thing since sliced bread. Honestly, I had a hard time finding anything bad that was said about it. Photographers loved the thing. So I did my best to ignore the TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLAR PRICE TAG, and placed my order with B&H Photo.
I was so thrilled to have finally found the most perfect camera bag ever made that I was walking on air for days.
And then it arrived.
Yes, it is indeed beautiful... but holy shit is it a cluster-fuck of disasters...
That last bullet requires some explanation...
As you can see, instead of pointing down, the buckle prong faces upwards. This means the damn thing is pointing out ALL THE TIME! The first time I noticed this, it was because I squeezed by a $1000 wood filing cabinet only to see that The Brixton left an ugly gash in the finish. The next time I noticed it, I dropped my arm to my side where the bag was resting and got punctured (no blood, but it left a mark and hurt like a m#th@f#c%er).
This is a huge, major, massive design flaw.
BUT IT WAS NOT MENTIONED ONCE IN ANY REVIEW I READ! NOT ONCE! What the fuck?!?
Did I perhaps get a defective product or something? I jumped to Ona's own website to see if I could find out. Sure enough, right there in their own marketing photos, the little buckle prong is sticking out all over the place!
Did nobody at any point during product testing notice this problem? Nobody?! I'm the only one who has been poked and left gashes in furniture? Seriously?!
I just don't get it.
There's a lot of things to like about this bag, but it's so deeply flawed that I just can't comprehend the universal praise it's getting. In order to make it work for me, I'm going to have to...
My regret is not that I have to modify this bag so that I can use it effectively. That's bound to happen with something as varied and subjective as photography gear. It's that I paid TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS for something that didn't have a lot of thought put into it. Or maybe it did, and the designers made bad choices. I dunno. It's just maddening that no reviewer mentioned any of the shortcomings that come with owning Ona's "The Brixton."
Oh well. Eventually, with modification, it should be a good bag for me. I sure like the way it looks. And it could have been worse.
I could have paid $430 for the all-leather version.
I hate shopping.
Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
For years now, all my email has been forwarded to a webmail account at SpamCop, a spam filtering service. While not a perfect solution, this drastically reduced the amount of spam I had to deal with, so I accepted it as a necessary evil.
But then SpamCop announced that they were discontinuing all their webmail accounts come September.
Since I had paid $30 for a year of service back in May, I was understandably upset. I had only received 1/3 of what I paid for. Under the terms I signed up with, I was entitled to a refund...
So I wrote to SpamCop Support and requested I get $20 of my payment returned.
Their reply? "I'm sorry but there are no refunds."
I've written back twice explaining that they shouldn't have promised refunds if there were no refunds, and I want my money back, but they've been ignoring me. None of my emails have been replied to.
Look, this is not about the $20.
This is entirely about living up to your promises... something that is increasingly rare now-a-days, and I'm just sick of it. Nobody seems to give a shit about living up to their word anymore. Integrity? Honesty? Ethics? Responsibility? Meh. Who cares? Yeah, I took your money with the promise of providing a service, but I don't feel like providing that service any more, so too bad! And no, I won't be giving you an explanation, And yes, I'm keeping your money.
My life would be so much easier if I could just abandon any sense of integrity, honesty, ethics, and responsibility. Sadly, I was raised better than that, so now I'm stuck in a world where possessing such qualities... and expecting such qualities in others... is a detriment.
To the tune of $20.
And my trust.
Posted on Saturday, November 15th, 2014
Back in the olden days there was an activity called blogging. This was where people wanting to share their experiences, knowledge, and observations would create a website and, using a content management system, would post such experiences, knowledge, and observations for all the world to see.
Blogging was not always easy. Especially if you were a blogger that blogged every day. Because, unless you're an astronaut or Hugh Hefner, eventually you run out of blog-worthy things to blog about.
In order to generate ideas for blog content, bloggers started developing quizzes, challenges, questionnaires, and all kinds of other idea-generating material to blog about. Not everybody appreciated memes... many people downright abhorred them... but when it's 11:55pm and you're desperate for something to blog about, memes could be your best friend.
One of the most popular meme generators on the internet back in the day was The Friday 5. Every Friday they would post five questions for you to answer in a blog post, which was an easy way to get it over with and move on to your weekend. Unfortunately The Friday Five was eventually discontinued, and there were many sad pandas across the blogosphere.
And so I decided to do something about it.
I created a new Friday meme generator and called it FridayQ.
It ran a little over a year from June 4th, 2004 until I got tired of doing it and shut it down on July 22, 2005.
For years after it died, the FridayQ lived on as hand-coded pages here at Blogography. I never deleted them because I had a lot of blog posts that referenced FridayQ and I didn't want to go back and have to change 52+ entries. Alas, when I converted my blog to WordPress back in February all the FridayQ pages were lost and, for reasons unknown, were never backed up. After 8 years, 6 months, and 22 days, the FridayQ was finally dead for good.
Yesterday I was updating the web code for my blog stats and noticed that somebody was trying to reach FridayQ. This got me curious as to how many other searches it was getting, so I checked. Turns out there were dozens of them throughout the year. Mostly from my own blog, but there were other surviving blogs out there still linking to the site as well.
Maybe I should look into restoring FridayQ then?
And so this morning I did just that.
I visited the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to see what I could recover. None of the graphics were there, but all of the pages had been saved. Sure, the archives were out of date by a few months, but that was an easy fix. All I had to do was go through my Blogography archives and copy the original questions. Easy.
But what about the missing graphics?
Time to pull all my old hard drives out of storage.
Surprisingly, every drive I tried actually worked. And I found a backup of the FridayQ images on my fifth drive...
Good thing I'm a packrat who doesn't throw old tech away, huh?
I uploaded the pages to Blogography, updated all the links, and voilà... FridayQ is served!
You can visit them for yourself by clicking here.
And now I just need to decide what to do with this box of old hard drives. They're probably not going to stay working forever. Hell, half of them require a FireWire port which doesn't even exist anymore (thankfully I have a FireWire to Thunderbolt converter!). Two of them are SCSI drives that would require pulling one of my old Macs with a SCSI interface out of storage to read. Hmmm... perhaps I should back them up to the cloud or transfer them to modern hard drives or something? They're all ridiculously small by today's storage standards... I could probably fit all of them on a single terabyte external drive no problem.
Blergh. One more thing added to my list that I don't have time for.
Like blogging every day. =sigh=
Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014
A couple years ago, I pledged $58 to a Kickstarter project by Peter Molyneux's "22 Cans" so they could complete a new game called Godus. It was to be inspired by the game Populous, which is one of my favorite computer games of all time. In it, you are playing a "god" who uses their ever-escalating abilities to control the lives of your in-game "followers."
At first, things were good. 22 Cans provided regular updates, often videos with Peter Molyneux himself. As the weeks turned into months, I was quite pleased to follow along with their progress, and thought everything was coming along beautifully. When the beta was released, I played around with it for a while... but didn't have time to devote to something that was still pretty rough. Eventually I deleted the game and thought I'd wait until it was finished.
But it hasn;t been finished. They're still working on it.
Nevertheless, I wanted to see what was happening with the $58 I paid, so I downloaded the Mac and iPhone versions to see what was happening.
As expected, the game looks beautiful. I love the design aesthetic, and am very impressed with how things are working...
The game is also kind of touching, as using your god powers can have terrible consequences for your followers... like when you destroy somebody's home so you can clear the land for bigger and better things...
Things eventually turn to shit.
Because Peter Molyneux and 22 Cans aren't creating a complete game. They're building a half-baked piece of shit that contains "in-game purchases." Yes, the game is free to download (thanks to the money I and a lot of other people donated) but, in order to get the most out of it, you have to pay real money to get ahead. Dubbed "freemium" games, these horrendous blights on gamers are fucking awful because you don't own the whole game. In order to play the way it was meant to be played, you have to keep paying for it. And paying and paying and paying...
In Godus you're buying gems. The gems can then be exchanged for things like "follower flags" that increase the happiness of your followers. Because if your followers aren't happy, they'll leave. You can also buy things you need to keep the game moving... like wheat. Because if you don't buy it, you'll be waiting days to make progress and keep playing.
I'm sure Molyneux will argue that you don't have to keep paying extra money... but he'd be full of shit. Because any time you try to do anything where you don't have enough power, Godus will literally keep wagging an invitation for you to buy more gems in the corner of the screen...
And it's annoying as shit, as you might imagine.
So how do I feel after paying $58 for a complete game and getting this bullshit?
Betrayed. Lied to. And very, very angry.
I don't buy "freemium" games. They're moronic crap and I have no interest in being jerked around like this. If 22 Cans had been honest from the beginning with their intent to nickel-and-dime their supporters, I would have never donated the money.
So lesson learned. Guess I won't be Kickstarting games any more.
Jesus, what assholes.
UPDATE: And it just keeps getting better. Godus requires you to be online while playing. If you don't have internet access, you don't play. If you do have internet access, but Godus servers are down, you don't play either...
It's almost comical just how shitty this app is. I've reset my iPhone more times since installing Godus than I have in all the years since I bought my first iPhone. So much for Apple's Editor Choice awards meaning a damn thing.
Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
I would have bet one million dollars that the special interest lobbyist pig-fuckers representing AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and all the other internet provider assholes buying off our corrupt politicians would have killed net neutrality by now.
So imagine my surprise...
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Of course, this is not to say that internet freedom has been won... I'm sure pig-fucking lobbyists representing internet conglomerate assholes haven't even begun to explore new ways to buy control of the internet from our corrupt politicians.
Where there's billions of dollars, there's a way, after all.
In the meanwhile, however... surprisingly good news on the net neutrality front. A public utility it is. For now
Not surprisingly, there's still a bunch of politicians with their lips firmly planted on Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner/Cox cock that have escalated their hand-wringing about how net-neutrality is bad for the internet. Remedial Senator and All-Around Dumbass Ted Cruz went so far as to label it "ObamaCare for the Internet." I have no idea what the hell that's supposed to mean... but apparently it's bad.
Well... the arguments seem to go like this...
And now we come to the NET NEUTRALITY DOESN'T LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD... JUST THE OPPOSITE... IT MAKES IT MORE EXPENSIVE FOR SMALLER COMPANIES USING LESS BANDWIDTH THAN BIG COMPANIES LIKE NETFLIX AND FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE! part of our blog entry...
I saved this for last, because it's just so outrageously stupid. It costs me $12.70 a month to have this blog hosted on the internet. If I wanted to turn it into a business website, it would still cost me $12.70 a month to get it hosted. Yes, if it became a hugely successful business website that got tons of traffic, I'd have to pay more than $12.70 a month to get it hosted because a successful business costs more to run... such is the price of success, but still... $12.70 a month to start.
I assure you that Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube cost more than $12.70 a month to get hosted. But back to the point...
For $12.70 a month, I have a blog that's every bit as accessible to people on the internet as Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube.
And no matter how many billions of dollars Facebook has, net neutrality ensures that they can't use that money to shut me out. They can't pay to have Facebook load faster than Blogography. They can't pay to have Blogography be unaccessible. It doesn't matter how big of a threat to their bottom line Blogography is, Facebook can't use their massive bankroll to manipulate the internet to make me go away*.
If that's not a level playing field, I don't know what is.
Thanks to the internet and net neutrality, a small startup company can take on companies millions of times their size... starting out at $12.70 a month. And there's nothing those massive companies can do to stop them from being on the internet.
Seriously... if that's not a level playing field, what the fuck is?
I can't for the life of me understand how people like Iris Somberg can sit there with a straight face telling me that it's the opposite of a level playing field. Something tells me her lips must be firmly planted on Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner/Cox cock, because this is so obvious as to be painful.
Yet net neutrality became a reality anyway.
I know. It shocked the hell out of me too.
*Of course, if Facebook wanted to pay me millions of dollars directly to make Blogography go away... well... my email address is at the top of the sidebar on every page here.
Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2015
Oh the things you stumble upon on these here internets...
DO MY BIDDING, HUMAN!
Posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2015
You can stop being depressed that the end of Daylight Saving Time stole an hour of your life... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Saturday Night! How refreshing to watch an episode of SNL that doesn't have you fast-forwarding through the whole thing! The highlight of the episode, of course, was guest host Chris Hemsworth as Thor celebrating The Avengers' triumph over Ultron...
"Victory Party at Dave & Busters" is probably one of the best things to appear on Saturday Night Live in over a decade.
• Heroic! And speaking of Marvel comic book movie heroes named "Chris" doing amazing things... even though Chris Evans won his Super Bowl bet with Chris Pratt, he appeared at Seattle Children's Hospital in costume as Captain America anyway...
This is after he appeared with Pratt (who was in costume as Star Lord) at Boston's Christopher's Haven after winning the bet...
What a decent couple of guys. It would have been so easy to skip the effort involved in doing something so amazing... on top of raising $27,000 for these terrific children's charities... but they're using their fame and fortune exactly how it should be used, and that's the best kind of hero you can be.
• Super! Well, it's not as hideous as I feared... a little dark maybe... but the suit for the upcoming Supergirl television show has been revealed...
Costume designer Colleen Atwood has a pretty darn good track record with the costumes for Arrow and The Flash, and it looks like she's got another home run on her hands. Melissa Benoist is certainly looking super enough for the part, that's for sure.
• Presidential? HE'S offended?!? I don't know what offends ME more... that Rand Paul is a bigoted piece of shit... or that he's propagating anti-vax idiocy... or that his concept of foreign policy is so far removed from reality that he might as well live in Narnia... or that some of his domestic policy ideas are so impossibly naive that you have to wonder if he's switched bodies with his younger 13-year-old self like what happened in that Jennifer Garner movie 13 Going on 30... or... or... or... holy crap... he's probably going to run for president, isn't he?
She's just the absolute worst.
• Lonny! I have no clue how Next Time on Lonny escaped my notice... for two seasons... but catching up on the web series while working at work this fine Sunday was definitely the best part of my day. WARNING: Contains all matter of profanity, depravity, and violence... definitely NSFW...
Sure thing, Dog Moon! You can't just watch just one, because the insanity escalates with each new episode.
• Sausage! If Lonny wasn't enough to satisfy your comedy craving this fine Sunday, the guys at Nacho Punch have created a porn film "by Wes Anderson" that's beyond dead-accurate...
You know you're getting tired of the repetitive wackiness of Wes Anderson films when you can't tell the parodies from the real thing any more.
The end. I'd post more bullets, but with only 23 hours in the day, I haven't got the time.
Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2015
I'm going to leave this bit of awesomeness right here...
Not enough for you? Whitney Avalon has you covered...
Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Most years I do a round-up of my favorite April Fools jokes running online.
This year everybody was eclipsed by the greatest prank of them all... Pac Man Mode on Google Maps! Now you can play Pac Man next to your house or on famous streets around the world!
Like Times Square...
Heaven only knows how long this will last, so get it while you can.
UPDATE: Though, I have to say, this was pretty darn amazing too...
LOVE YOU, BOB BARKER!
Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2015
Back in the good ol' days where blogging actually mattered, I refused many an offer to host ads on Blogography (I still do... on those rare occasions somebody actually bothers to ask now-a-days). Not that I was turning down any massive dollar amounts or anything... I would have earned well under $100 a month... but the money wasn't the point. I simply did not want to have my entire blogging life revolve around driving clicks to my website.
Which is what you have to do in order to make ads worth it. Just ask the fine folks at TVBlend...
In order to find out the answer to their burning question, you have to click through to their website.
Whereas Super Hero Hype has a different, arguably less douchey approach...
Super Hero Hype doesn't make you click through to get the answer, they try to create a post that will have you wanting to click through to get more than just "the answer." Kind of a big difference, though the end result is the same... if you're a fan of Constantine, you'll be clicking through to the site in order to get the deets about the fate of the show.
And while I prefer the Super Hero Hype approach which doesn't hold a gun to my head for a click-through, TV Blend's tactics don't bother me enough to stop following their newsfeed... I just don't click through as much as I would if they were a bit more creative in how they go about initiating it.
But lest you think Super Hero Hype isn't above allowing others to put douchey clickbait ads on their site. Well...
ZOMFG! WHAT DID SANDRA BULLOCK LIE ABOUT?!??
Who the hell cares?
A lot of people, apparently. Because this kind of clickbait is rampant on the internet. You can't escape it. Everywhere you look there's something UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING that will LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS... but it requires a click-through to reveal what it is.
In some cases it's more than figurative... you literally can't escape it. Because an increasing number of websites... "ZergNet" for example... spawn infinite new windows with every click so you never leave their site. You're trapped in a maze of clickbait from which few break free.
Until you fall asleep at the computer.
Or close your browser window.
Which is the only true escape from clickbait once you're on the internet.
Which reminds me... DID YOU KNOW THAT THESE COMMON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS COULD KILL YOU?!?
Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2015
If you've ever bought a new camera, this video from Norway really puts things in perspective...
The video is for a classified ads site, Finn.no, and is one of a series of hysterical spots for people who buy new stuff with grand ambitions only to end up... err... falling a bit short...
The cat mascot for the site is ten buckets of awesome, and appears in videos of his own...
And, yes, SexyPus.no is a real site, but not so interactive as we were led to believe.
Posted on Saturday, June 6th, 2015
Last year The New York Times ran an article about mapping out team loyalty when it comes to baseball. It looked pretty much as you'd expect. So I kinda glanced through it, nodded my head a few times, then moved on.
Which, as it turns out, was a mistake.
I was reading an article this morning where they were discussing how Facebook can be data-mined to ferret out all kinds of cool information. And the first example they gave? The NYT baseball borders map from last year...
And here is what I did not know... the Facebook data that's been mapped out is highly specific. The further you zoom in, the more it gets broken down. Here's a zoom into the county level where I live. And, guess what, THERE I AM...
But that's not all. If you zoom in even further, you can search out your zip code...
For all I know, all eight of those percents is me!
The interactive map is pretty great if you have any interest in baseball... take a look!
Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2015
I'd write something today, but I'm entirely too obsessed with this video that was sent to me...
This is what the internet was made for.
Posted on Friday, August 7th, 2015
My obsession with monitoring the two pregnant cats over at Tiny Kittens has been pretty overwhelming. For over a week I've had their live camera feeds floating in the corner of my monitor all day... and displayed on my laptop all night so when I wake up I can check in on them.
Well, the kittens finally came.
The first to deliver was Tip. She was an abandoned kitty who "turned to a life of crime" when she started breaking into homes to find food. Having been around people, she was an easy cat for Shelly Roche to monitor and keep happy. She was sponsored by some nice people at Dreamworks Animation, and ended up with five babies. She's a fantastic mom...
I didn't get to see Tip give birth, but I did get to see Sisko deliver her kittens.
Sisko is feral, so she's been pretty stressed being trapped indoors. Her wild nature also makes it impossible for Shelly to help out much, but everything seemed to work out okay.
The poor thing ended up having a litter of eight kittens. And they pretty much came one right after the other, so she didn't get a break between them. Now the little cat is doing the best she can to stay sane while caring for entirely too many mouths to feed. She looks kind of overwhelmed and a little scared, but she's hanging in there...
Hopefully she'll relax a bit and get into the groove of motherhood.
If you want to help out Shelly and the amazing, amazing work she does at Tiny Kittens, I encourage you to donate to the cause.
The live cams are still up, so you can check in on the babies any time here...
Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015
NOTE: To start the audio on a Vine video, you have to click on the little icon in the lower-right corner to turn mute off...
To stop a video from repeating after you've watched it... just click on it.
I won't be blogging today. I haven't got time because I had a day of power outage followed by a day of driving to Spokane and back followed by whatever the hell this shit is that I've got going on today.
Oh... and also because I'm catching up on the funniest damn thing I've seen on the internet in ages.
It all started when "How British People Shower" popped up on my Tumblr last weekend...
I've been laughing off and on all week just thinking about it.
Turns out the guy's name is Arthur, and he has a Vine channel that's comprised of screaming at traffic and hanging out with his daughter. Among other things. All of it hilariously funny. And usually hugely offensive.
And here's a follow-up to "How British People Shower"...
Arthur had a daughter a while ago, and she turns up in a lot of his more recent stuff...
Life lessons need to start early.
Arthur is an expert at childcare...
Arthur is a lorry driver (truck driver) and a lot of his earlier Vines involve being very cross about London traffic...
Very cross indeed...
Everyday life with Arthur is always interesting too...
And Arthur does love his fans...
But not as much as he loves his girlfriend...
And his mum, of course...
So... if you're not easily offended, be sure to check out the rest of Arthur's Vine feed.
Posted on Saturday, October 10th, 2015
I'm not opposed to advertising on the web. Stuff has to get paid for somehow, and ads are a part of the game.
The problem is that they have quickly become an obstruction to content. No longer are they satisfied with being a minor nuisance... instead they beat the shit out of you and have become a major problem.
Take YouTube for example.
At first the ads were dismissive. Click here to skip.
Then they became delayed-dismissive. You can skip this ad in 15 seconds.
Then ads became mandatory and non-dismissive... but mercifully short. 20 seconds or so.
But now? Mandatory. Non-dismissive. And pushing three minutes long...
Needless to say, this fucking sucks.
Not only do I find myself hating YouTube... but also the advertisers that are subjecting me to this insane amount of obstruction. I don't care how cool of a product you're pushing... if you spend three minutes keeping me from content that lasts four minutes, I hate your guts and am not buying your shit.
Many times YouTube doesn't even tell you that you're watching an ad any more. The time-bar turns yellow instead of red and that's all the notice you get.
It's worse than television ads.
And I'm watching a fraction of the YouTube videos I used to because of it.
Congratulations, Google. You've fucked over and ruined yet another part of the internet.
Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2016
Yes. Yes indeed...
Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2016
You know how when you're little and magic is real and the world is ripe with possibilities?
Even impossible possibilities?
But then you grow older and more cynical and the magic dies and you'd give anything to go back to a time when you could believe again?
The look on the monkey's face is priceless. That's what happens when you can believe that anything is possible.
Even the impossible.
Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016
Once I was hanging out at a bar with friends that featured live music. The band, which wasn't bad at all, was being badly heckled by a couple tables. For the first couple of songs, the band ignored the chants of "FREEBIRD!" and "NOW PLAY SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T SUCK!" But eventually the lead singer stopped the show and said something like "Hey, I get it. You don't like our music and that's fine. But, believe it or not, there are people who DO like our music and they've come here tonight so they can listen to us play. And you're ruining that for them. There are plenty of other bands out there and some of them probably play music you will enjoy, and you should probably go see them instead of us. But if you're going to stick around, be quiet and let us play. We'd do the same for you and your band... if you had a band. Which you obviously don't. If you did, you'd know how tough it is to get up in front of a room full of people to perform for them, and show us some fucking respect."
And it worked. One of the tables finished their drinks and left. The other stopped being assholes. And the reason it worked was because the band was able to confront the hecklers face to face. The hecklers couldn't hide from the consequences of their actions.
And then we get to the internet, where most of the people most of the time are hidden from the consequences of their actions. Why should they be quiet and respectful when their online "identity" is "BigLukeThe Exploder?" (or whatever... my apologies to BigLukeTheExploder if you actually exist).
Well, I want in on that.
Removing consequences from my actions sounds like a lot more fun than what I'm doing now.
So the next time you see an anonymous troll being a total fucking asshole on the internet... be kind.
It might be me.
Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2017
I've been online since... well... before the internet was a thing, really. Back when it was all bulletin boards and CompuServe and modem-to-modem and stuff like that. In oh so many ways, things have changed radically from those early days. But not everything. Some things haven't changed one damn bit.
Here is how online forums have worked since the dawn of time...
Poster: I am a bit confused about something and would appreciate people's experiences and opinions on this matter.
Me: Here is my opinion and my experience from having this opinion.
Commenter: YOU ARE WRONG! YOU HAVE BAD INFORMATION! GO FUCK YOURSELF!
For a goodly chunk of people, it's never about presenting their own opinions and experiences... it's all about attacking people who have opinions and experiences that differ from theirs.
Responding to some topics is more likely to invite an attack than others... like... say... "What's the best brand of mobile phone, iPhone or Android?"
Another example? As I found out last night, coming out against declawing cats is a topic that invites all kinds of attacks...
My opinion on declawing cats is pretty cut and dry... you just don't fucking do it. It's not like cutting your nails, it's like removing the entire tip of your finger down to the first knuckle. And if you're okay with doing that to a kitten, then you probably shouldn't have a cat. I would let my cats scratch the shit out of everything I own and still never consider maiming them like that.
I'd buy a shitload of scratching posts and cardboard scratchers, put them next to everyplace that my cats want to scratch so they have a more pleasing alternative, cover them with catnip to make them more attractive, put sheets of double-stick shelf-paper on things I want scratch-free to make them less attractive, then slowly remove half of the scratching alternatives once I figure out the ones they prefer.
Time consuming and expensive? Yes.
But it worked. My cats have their claws and me and my furniture are still in one piece.
Though some of my IKEA is sporting scratch marks from the training period. Oh well. Small price to pay.
Of course, there are people who have different opinions. And they are not afraid to attack you because of it. They call you names. They tell you that you're attributing human feelings to an animal. Provide "evidence" that declawing is not inhumane. Berate you for trying to make everybody hate them because they support declawing. Etc. Etc. Etc.
All I did was provide my opinion and relate my experience, as requested. I don't really give a shit if people want to attack me for it. That's the risk you take.
I'm used to it. I have a blog.
Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
If you're not familiar with sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and IndieGoGo, they are fundraising sites where individuals and companies can bring a product or service to market without having to find investors. Essentially, the people backing their fundraising campaign become the investors and are repaid with "rewards" that often include the product/service itself. Most famous of these would be something like the Veronica Mars movie, where fans of the awesome TV show pitched in $5,700,000 to help get a film sequel made.
I've backed around 35 projects from these sites, and most of the time end up regretting it.
But I keep buying into the idea because every once in a while it's worth it.
As I pledged to yet another project this morning, I thought I'd run through ten of my most memorable campaigns from the past six years...
And... that's a wrap. Looks to be a mix of hits and misses I can live with. If nothing else, it's been a learning experience that has me being a lot more cautious now than I used to be.
Posted on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
Well, as expected, the bought-and-paid-for representatives in The House have voted with the bought-and-paid-for senators in The Senate to strip away privacy protections for internet access. Now the legislation will be passed to President Trump so he can sign off on it.
Everything you are online will soon be in the hands of your Internet Service Provider.
Who will sell everything from your browser history to your location data to whomever will pay for it. And, believe me folks, they will.
The Republican spin about how this is a Good Thing is total bullshit. There is nothing more important than your privacy when it comes to the internet. There cannot be enough protections to ensure your privacy on the internet. Any claims to the contrary can be nothing but bullshit.
So... be sure to look into a VPN if you plan on browsing the internet in the future.
Also... please pardon the mess at Blogography for a while. I'm switching the entire site over to an SSL security certificate, so images, videos, and such will probably be messed up until I get everything sorted. If you check the URL in your browser address bar, you'll see that Blogography is now HTTPS secure. You can hover over the badge at the bottom of my sidebar to verify it.
Next up? Killing off net neutrality, I'm sure.
UPDATE: Here's a handy list of how much your senators and representatives were paid to sell out your privacy. Pig fuckers, every one of them. But especially The Right Dishonorable Cathy McMorris-Rogers and the Right Dishonorable Daniel Newhouse, Representatives from my Great State of Washington. Enjoy the tens of thousands of dollars you took in betrayal of your fellow Washingtonians and their privacy, assholes.
Posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2017
You know when you try to be all edgy and cool by using the slang phrases that you hear the kids using now-a-days, but it backfires horribly?
Like that time "Netflix and Chill" doesn't mean what you think it means...
I mean, seriously, Google That Shit.
UPDATE! Thanks to Canadia's Favorite Blogger (who is apparently no longer blogging?), I found out that they've updated their ad...
Apparently they're dead-set on watching Netflix... sex or no sex.
Posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Everybody have a nice Earth Day?
Good! Because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Sikh! Essential viewing...
The more you know...
Sikhism is a fascinating faith that I haven't studied nearly enough.
• Kingsman! Holy shit! Going back to insert this in Bullet Sunday because it's just too good. I loved the first film, and it looks like the second is going to be more of the same!
Very cool that the American version of "The Kingsmen" makes their debut... " The Statesmen!" I wonder if a spin-off franchise is at hand? So long as Matthew Vaughn is involved, that's fine by me!
• Krypton! Ooh a TV show based on Superman's home planet... Krypton. This could be interesting! Wonder how faithful they'll be to the source material? Will we get to see the Scarlet Jungle? The Gold Volcano? How about Vathlo Island? The Jewel Mountains? Or even the Red Ocean? Can't wait to find out. The series is being developed at SyFy but, for reasons too fucking stupid to comprehend, they're killing the trailer everywhere it pops up. So I can't share the trailer. I can only share this hilarious reaction video from Double Toasted, which only shows parts of it (NSFW)...
The trailer is getting pretty good buzz. God only knows why SyFy is keeping people from sharing it.
• Mountains? When your CAPTCHA tells you to select all the mountain images, so you do... only to find out that they must live in Nebraska and think hills are mountains, which they most certainly are not...
#1 and #8 qualify as "mountains"... alrighty then.
• These Days! "Take That!" is a band that didn't get huge success here in the US when compared to their home in the UK, where they are massively popular. Even so, I've always liked the band, and was surprised to find out that they released an album back in 2014 that I missed entirely called III. The lead single is a track filled with poppy fun that I can't seem to get out of my head...
Kind of cool how Take That! keeps chugging along even after losing two of their bandmates.
• Puppy! And, lastly, your weekly dose of "Awwwww... cute!" is right here...
Amazing how Mother Nature works.
And now... I could really use another day of my weekend.
Posted on Sunday, May 7th, 2017
It's good to be home, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Travel Day! Last night I was going to head into Denver for some dinner and bumming around after Howard's birthday party, but made the mistake of "laying down for a minute" and decided I'd rather order out pizza and watch TV. After pizza, I decided to pack up my crap, iron tomorrow's clothes, and get everything ready to go for today. Always a smart move, because I just love being able to roll out of bed, shower, and head out on a travel day. Why I don't do this more often I will never know. I guess that deep down I prefer the mad dash of getting ready in the ten minutes before my ride arrives? Who can say?
• Home! When I arrived back home today, the first thing I did was start unpacking. Jenny felt threatened by dirty clothes flying and retreated to her basket...
Jake kept trying to crawl all over me, so I grabbed his favorite blanket and finally gave in while I was sorting laundry...
Laying down was a mistake, as I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up, Jenny had joined in and I was covered in kittens. There are certainly worse homecomings.
• Things to do in Denver. Side-by-side on the Denver "Things to Do" rack at my hotel...
But which to do first? Hmmmm...
• Hope! As a huge fan of Greek mythology for as long as I could read, I've always had a soft spot for Wonder Woman. When George Pérez reinvented the character in 1987 by jettisoning decades of bad choices so she could be tied even stronger to her Greek mythological origins, Wonder Woman quickly became one of my favorite super-heroes. Which is why I've been awaiting her big-screen debut with absolute dread given the horrendously shitty movies DC has been churning out lately. And yet... there's hope...
Not bad. Not bad at all. I guess we'll know for sure on June 2.
• Spidey! And lest we forget that Marvel has a super-hero film of their own coming out this summer...
I mean, holy shit. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire films okay, but this... THIS... is Spider-Man! He moves like you'd expect Spider-Man to move, and it's a glorious thing to see. Cannot wait for July 5th!
• Neutrality 2. I have said pretty much all I have to say about the pig-fuckers in our government wanting to sell-out the internet to big media companies. But now that our corrupt asshole of a president is mounting a new assault, all I want to do is explode with rage. Here's a more rational response...
How the American people can be SO FUCKING STUPID as to put up with this FUCKING BULLSHIT is beyond me. But, hey... the American people elected a pussy-grabbing Cheeto Jesus as president, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
And I'm fucking done.
Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
The plan was simple.
Work until around 1:00am, then hash out a blistering post in support of Net Neutrality Day, then get some much-needed sleep...
Except my internet went down as I was in the middle of work. Everything went to shit. And now I'm not only unable to finish my work, I also can't do much blogging.
So... pretty much a metaphor for the internet without net neutrality, ironically enough.
I am so tired of this bullshit. And yet here we go again...
Posted on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017
Today is Net Neutrality Day. Which you'd think would be redundant since we have it, but apparently that may not be for long.
Pig fucker assholes like Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai are once gain trying kill net neutrality so that big business can control the internet. Never mind that they have to tell lie after lie after lie to sell it to the American people... the money involved is massive, the people involved are all-powerful, and telling lies is not something they really give a fuck about.
I have written about how crucial net neutrality is to a free and open internet many, many times (like here, for example).
And I'm just one voice of many, because the American people have backed net neutrality many, many times.
But it never seems to matter, because the people trying to kill it have an endless supply of money to throw at the pig-fucking assholes who keep assaulting it.
It's at times like this that I sincerely feel we should burn this fucking shithole of a corrupt piece of shit country to the ground and fucking start over. What The United States of America is supposed to be all about is lost when its citizens no longer have a say. People with money are ultimately the only ones allowed to have a voice now. Because they are the only ones with the means of buying off the politicians who make the decisions for all of us...
If Pai and his bought-and-paid-for pig-fucking asshole confederates actually manage to kill net neutrality, I might as well take down Blogography. Because it's only a matter of time before Very Important People decide they don't like me calling them pig-fucking assholes and shut it down for me.
The pig-fucking assholes.
UPDATE: And... Mr. Trae Crowder, everybody...
Holy shit what a cluster-fuck.
Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
I've come to the conclusion that he internet is an incredibly useful thing... in addition to being a blight on all humanity from time to time, of course.
Like when you hear a song you really like and have no idea what it is, so you Shazam it and, as if by magic, the name and artist appears on your phone. That is the kind of thing that makes having the internet totally worth the crap you have to suffer through.
As an example, I kept hearing a Culligan Water commercial called "Drinks" that has a fantastic track thumping in the background...
Mere seconds after rewinding the DVR and calling up Shazam, I learn that the song is Pumper by Mai Lan...
And then... then there are the times where Shazam comes up empty.
Like when I was watching a video on using Plex with Alexa and this cool track pops up that I've never heard. I totally dig it, so I Shazam and get a completely different song (Across the Universe by Akira?).
I tried searching for the artist and song said in the video, but I couldn't understand it fully, so Google wasn't helping. I then tried Googling lyrics, but that also failed. So I kept hammering away with different variations of what I was hearing and finally arrived at this...
Castaway by Dunez. There we go! That's it!
Except when I go to buy the song from iTunes, it's not there. When I go to play it from Amazon Music Unlimited, it's not there. The only place it exists is on SoundCloud.
With no way of buying it, I finally rip the song and make a note of yet another track I need to buy in order to keep my music collection legal.
Which begs the question... how can a band exist... create a track... and there be no trace of it or them? I found their Facebook page, but the last thing they mention about any music is a promise for "new tunes coming soon" on August 13th, 2015.
Tunes that never came. At least from what I can tell.
And so I'm left hanging... wondering whatever happened to Dunez, if I'll ever be able to buy their song, and if we'll ever get anything new out of them. Because, from the sound of it, this is a band I'd really like.
The internet... sometimes creating more mysteries than it solves.
In addition to being a blight on all humanity from time to time, of course.
Posted on Friday, September 7th, 2018
Last night as I was hanging up my laundry to dry, I slipped on a patch of wet floor and fell. Hard. No idea where the water came from. Twisted my ankle... ripped the toenail off my big toe... blood everywhere... scraped up my leg... slammed my elbow into the door frame. It was a mess. And as I was laying there in agony, I called my cats to please help. They just sat there on the cat tree and stared at me.
The peril of living alone, I guess. I'll probably end up dying while Jake and Jenny watch. I really need to find out if Alexa can call 9-1-1 for me so I can call an ambulance before I pass out and my cats eat me.
But, when it comes to bad news, that's not all!
I really don't have any extra money to spend right now because I bought a bunch of stuff I shouldn't have. New clothes and camera gear for my upcoming trip. New books and movies that were on sale. New kitchenware. A couple new tools. It's a non-stop parade of extravagance up in here. The good news is that I'll have it all paid off by mid-October and can end the year back on track.
At least that was the plan until my router died on Wednesday.
Since I don't exist without the internet, I rushed to Amazon to see if there were any cheap deals on a decent router. There were. Sweet.
But then...As I was browsing I ran across the Google Wifi Mesh Router...
The reviews were stellar so I decided to research it a little bit. After a half-hour of fun-times Googling reviews on Google WiFi I had a 3-Pack in my shopping cart. $257 later* and it was ordered.
And let me tell you why.
The average US home is 2,687 square feet. Mine is smaller... around 1500 square feet. That's twice as much as I really need now that my mom is gone, but I have a room for guests and plenty of space for the cats, so it's all good. You would think that since my home is smaller and two-story that a single WiFi router would cover everything just fine.
You would think.
And to a certain extent it does.
But a reliable signal cant seem to make it from the fiber box at the back of my house all the way through my main floor and garage to the security cameras at the front of my house. This causes occasional drop-outs which can be annoying when I get an alert from the security system that motion has been detected and I can't use my cameras to see what's going on.
Also... my Ring Pro doorbell drops its signal way too often despite there being a straight-shot from the back of my house to the front door. That never happened with the original Ring doorbell, so I have no idea what's happening. Ring probably just used cheaper components to make the newer models and it requires a stronger signal.
I tried a WiFi extender, but could never get it to work very well. I was having to reboot it once a week.
And so... mesh WiFi.
Instead of one router with WiFi serving the entire house, mesh networks spread the signal out to nodes throughout your home, eliminating dead zones. I've got the node with the fiber connection at the back of my house... another node above the stairwell in the middle of my house... and a final node in the garage at the front of my house. They all work together to blanket my entire home with sweet, sweet WiFi goodness. Kinda like this...
Not my house, but you get the idea.
But wait, there's more!
Google has done some very smart engineering to make WiFi setup and management so much easier. First of all, you have just one network name to worry about. This has always been true for mesh networks because the system switches you to the node with the best signal automatically... just like a cell phone does as you drive around. But where Google takes it further is that your 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks also have the same name! If a device is getting good signal from the faster, but less powerful 5GHz band, it will use that. If a device needs the stronger signal on the slower 2.4GHz band, it will use that. And it's all 100% automatic. This right here was where I decided that Google Mesh WiFi was for me. You don't have to decide anything. You let the nodes and your devices figure it all out.
Setup was laughably easy.** It's literally a matter of plugging it in, scanning QR codes on your nodes, and naming your network (I used the same name as my old one so I wouldn't have to go around reconfiguring all my devices). I had the extra step of authenticating the new router with my ISP, but it was no big deal. The only irritating part was that I have fiber which doesn't have a modem, but the setup assumes there's a modem and made me wait around for a modem reboot that I never had. What a waste of time.
Turns out all the reviews were right. Google's Mesh WiFi system is amazing. Speed tests shows that I'm getting better speed than I ever got with my old router. What's really strange is that a single node with no antennas sticking out had pretty much the same range as my old router which had ugly antennas sticking out everywhere! And once all three nodes were set up, I get full bars on signal absolutely everywhere. Even in my driveway and to the edges of my yard!
And this makes for some intriguing possibilities when it comes to my home automation obsession, because Google WiFi has IFTTT (If This Then That) integration and can trigger IFTTT actions or be triggered by them. I just added two actions in minutes... one to prioritize bandwidth on my Ring doorbell when it senses motion... and another notifies me when my iPhone connects to my Google Wifi. This second one is just a test right now. What would be cool would be if Nest allowed IFTTT actions to adjust image quality on Nest Cams. That way I could have all my cameras use max bandwidth and best image quality whenever I'm out of the house, then go back to normal quality when I'm home so I can use my bandwidth for other things...
Another thing I absolutely love about Google Mesh WiFi? The cool tools it has built in! Before I had fiber internet, it was a real struggle to balance device bandwidth... especially since I had no idea how much bandwidth each device was using. This became less of an issue when I got fiber, but it's still nice to know how much bandwidth my cameras are using so I know what quality picture to broadcast. With Google, this is a piece of cake. Open the app, find the device you're curious about, click on it, and the upload/download bandwidth is displayed. Simple. After a few hours of poking around, I found that I could increase the picture quality on some cameras without causing problems for any other devices.
Many of the "standard" toys for a router are also included. Like a firewall, NAT, DNS, WAN, PPoE, and device prioritization. But there are a few things missing for advanced network configuration. Things like being able to decide what IP block to use. Out of necessity, my non-cloud security cameras all have static IP addresses at the back-end of the 192.168.0.X block (instead of getting IPs dynamically like my cloud cams do). But Google WiFi uses the 192.168.86.X block and I found no way to change this. Which meant I had to reconfigure all six cameras in an IP reservation I made in the .86 range. Such a pain in the ass. Another pain in the ass? There's no web interface. You have to use a phone app. Which would be fine if the app were stellar, but it's really not. It's "serviceable," and that's about the best thing you can say about it. At the very least they should have an option to display IP addresses instead of just MAC addresses on your device list. It's rage-inducing to have to open every device just so you can see its IP and try to figure out what all the "Unknown Devices"*** are so you can name them.
And speaking of devices... when you run a speed test on all your devices, or click on an individual device to get more information... you can see which node the device is connecting to...
For the most part, each device is connected to the node closest to it. But not always. My Harmony Television hub is connected to the hub upstairs... instead of the primary hub that's right next to it. No clue why that is, but I'm guessing Google WiFi has its reasons. So long as everything works, I'll choose not to worry about it.
So far the only thing that's given me pause over the whole Google Mesh WiFi experience is being forced to tie everything to Google. Believe it or not, the main node has to be connected 24/7 to your Google Account to even function. What the hell? I'm guessing the excuse is that your settings are stored in your Google Account in case you ever need to replace or upgrade your system. Which is bullshit, of course... why not just be able to download a backup? I have no idea if this means Google is tracking all my online activity, but it wouldn't surprise me. I haven't investigated migrating my Nord VPN account to run from Google WiFi, but I should probably do that.
In the end? Very happy with Google's mesh router system. It's weird to me that Google is now occupying problem-solving space that Apple used to, but the system is priced very well, is easy to set up, works automatically to give you the best possible WiFi, and seems to have solved some nagging problems I was having.
Can't help get me up off the floor when I fall, but it can't do everything.
UPDATE: Welp. All of a sudden my iPhone could not connect to the internet but my MacBook could. I called up the Google WiFi app but couldn't connect to the Google WiFi router, which was odd because my MacBook still had internet. Just as I was ready to start screaming, my MacBook also lost internet. Then the Google WiFi router restarted on its own and everything began working again. I hope this isn't a regular occurrence, because that will drive me batshit crazy. Also? Here is where only allowing connection via an app can really screw you. It would have been nice if I could have logged into a web interface while my laptop was still able to get internet so I could try and figure out what was going wrong. Also? WHERE IN THE HELL ARE THE LOG FILES?!? I have no idea what happened, and without log files I'll probably never know.
*Regular price is $300, but Amazon had the three-pack on sale for $257 plus tax as of this writing. SCORE!
**The only hiccup was that my "smart outlet" lost its internet connection during the transition, which caused it to power-cycle the Google WiFi router as I was adding nodes. Oops. Had to force-quit the Google WiFi app because it got stuck in a loop so I could start over...
This was my fault for not making sure my outlet was plugged into internet after I got the primary node set up... but Google needs to fix their app so it doesn't get stuck like this. You can't escape the error dialgue no matter how many times you press "OK" because it just pops back up again.
***It drives me insane when device manufacturers don't put the name of their devices... or, at the very least, their company name... in the networking table along with the MAC address. How in the hell am I supposed to know what all these "mystery" devices are on my network? Sometimes you can get a clue by looking up the MAC address owner, but not always. This results in my having to pause the device's internet access so I can try to figure things out that way. Doesn't always help, which means I'm running around the house turning devices on and off in an attempt to figure out which devices are what.
Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2018
Every time I mention my various home automation projects, I get emails with questions. After mentioning "IFTTT" while talking about my new Google WiFi router system, there were people asking about it. So I thought I'd go through ways that I use IFTTT so I can explain better.
Let's start with smart lightbulbs.
There are a lot of programmable LED multi-color lightbulbs out there. Probably the most famous brand is Philips "Hue" bulbs. They are very cool lights with a lot of capabilities and incredible flexibility. But they require a "Hue Hub" in order to operate. This is just silly in 2018, so I ignore them.* Maybe if I start changing all my lights out, I'll switch to Hue where having to buy a hub makes more economic sense.
In the meanwhile I buy GoSund "Smart Life" bulbs which do not requite a hub. They connect to WiFi directly. There are quite a few bulbs that connect directly, but the Smart Life bulbs are cheaper than most. Also? I have a half-dozen other Smart Life products, and find them reliable and easy to use.
But most important? Smart Life products support IFTTT.**
For those unfamiliar with it, IFTTT (If This Then That) is a free service which allows you to create all kinds of triggers to control IFTTT-enabled devices. There are scads of triggers. Scads upon scads. And the number of things you can do with the triggers is vast. Want to get a text every time the International Space Station flies over your house? NASA has a trigger you can connect to a Text Service to do that. Depending on which IFTTT-enabled devices you have, you could have just about anything happen every time the International Space Station flies over your house!
Where I live they pick up your garbage every Thursday morning. But EVERY-OTHER Thursday, they also pick up your recycle bin. I can never remember which Thursday is which when I set my garbage out on Wednesdays, so I decided to have my driveway light turn blue on days before recycle days using IFTTT.
It sounds simple, but the cheaper Smart Life bulbs don't have a lot of capabilities within their own app (which I use to turn outside lights on at sunset and off at sunrise). To do what I want to do, I have to use IFTTT and get creative to makes sure that things work reliably the way I want them to.
Every day at 11:00am, I have IFTTT set the Driveway Light to 100% Green at 100% Brightness (but leave the light itself off). This is the default color I choose because I support the Greenlight a Vet Project. I do this to be absolutely sure that my light is set to default every day in case I have to manually mess with the color for some reason. This also puts my light back to default the day after it goes Blue for Recycle Day...
I don't use my Google Calendar for anything EXCEPT a reoccurring event every-other-Wednesday at 1:00pm called "Recycle." Every time that event happens, I have IFTTT set the Driveway Light to 100% Blue at 100% Brightness, then turn it on. So when I come home from work I will have a reminder that I need to set out my recycle bin (in addition to my regular garbage). And when my neighbors see my blue light they know to set their bin out too...
And that's that. It really is this simple, and creating your own "recipes" for triggers and action is easy. If you want some tips on how to do all that, then a YouTube search will result in a lot of videos showing you how.
And another thing I've done with IFTTT?
I have my television on 90% of the time I'm home. Even when I'm not watching it, I like the background noise while I work. The first thing I usually do when I get home? Tell Alexa to turn on the television. But now I don't have to. When I come home and my iPhone connects to Google WiFi, the router automatically triggers IFTTT to have my Harmony Hub turn on my television. It's on when I walk in the door***...
Yet another thing I've done with IFTTT?
I have a "Ring" smart doorbell. Thanks to Ring, I can answer my doorbell and see/talk to anybody who rings it no matter where I am. Problem is? I made the mistake of replacing my awesome Ring doorbell with a Ring Pro, which is a pile of shit. It disconnects from WiFi at random times for no reason at all. Even now that my Google WiFi Mesh provides plenty of signal, it's still disconnecting. And of course the piece of shit doesn't reconnect automatically. I have to remove the cover with a special screwdriver, press a button, then run through setup again. And the problem with that? How do I know when the doorbell drops WiFi?
Well, thanks to IFTTT, I have my Google WiFi router text me when my Ring doorbell goes offline...
I used to use my iPhone's location services to create a "fence" around my home. That way when I arrive or leave home, I can trigger events. But location services, while more accurate than ever, are still not entirely reliable. What is accurate and reliable? My iPhone connecting to my Google WiFi mesh network when I arrive home.*** Which is why I now use that to tell my house that's I'm coming or going. IFTTT then triggers things like setting my smart thermostat to either "Home" or "Away"...
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination... and how many IFTTT-enabled devices you own... and what IFTTT services are available. The numbers are growing every day. Heck, even Dominoes Pizza has linked their Pizza Tracker technology to IFTTT! Have your garbage disposal turn on when your pizza goes in the oven... then have your garage door open when it's out for delivery...
Regardless of how much home automation you have, there's still a lot of useful stuff you can o with IFTTT. For the longest time the only action I had was triggering Alexa to call my iPhone when I couldn't find it so I could follow the ring. That's magic right there.
*Also? There's some wacky hoops to jump through to get them connected to Alexa I think? I dunno. Whenever I "discover devices" with Alexa, I get some kind of warning for Hue stuff.
**Well, kinda. The ability to change bulb colors with the GoSund bulbs is kinda messed up right now... but I'm assured they are working on it!
*** I also have an IFTTT trigger to set my SONOS to a low volume so I don't give my cats a heart attack on days I was blasting music the night before.
**** Speaking of my Google WiFi mesh network... the sucker got range. When I was walking home from work today I had my phone out so I could see when I first started getting signal... it was here...
Pretty great, right? My old router had 1/3 the range.
Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2018
My cats do adorably insane things every day. Most of the time all I can do is say "Why?!?"... then laugh about it.
This morning Jenny woke me up at 4:30am. She jumped on the bed. Meowed in my face. Then ran out of the room. "Why?!?" I'm assuming that she's still pissed about Daylight Saving Time ending, but that was a week-and-a-half ago, so who knows? Maybe she was just upset because President Trump said some stupid shit on Twitter (again) and wants everybody to be upset about it because she's upset about it. Heaven only knows that's how I feel daily.
Fortunately, I have the internet to keep me distracted from stupid shit with even stupider shit. Like a young cat named Ulla from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland (Friends of the Animals in Greenland) who underwent an ultrasound to verify she was pregnant...
Photo from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland
Photo from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland
Photo from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland
Photo from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland
Photo from Dyrenes Venner i Grønland
As you can tell by Ulla's reaction, she was indeed pregnant... with four to five kittens!
My guess is her shock is because her boyfriend told her that he had been fixed. All men are liars!
Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
Today I went looking for some old, old, very old files that I knew I had backed up on CD somewhere. Turns out they were even older than I thought, because they weren't on CD after all. They were on magneto-optical discs.
This poses a problem, as I have no way of reading them.
Well, I think there's a way... but it's far from an easy way.
It will involve my dragging one of my old computers with a SCSI interface out of storage, wiring up the optical drive, copying the files to a hard disk, then taking apart the computer so I can remove the hard drive and put it in another Mac which has ethernet (but no SCSI). Or something like that. Maybe I've got a SCSI CD burner around somewhere.
My guess is that CDs and DVDs will be next to die off. Just like in Back to the Future...
At some point Real Soon Now, I need to transfer all my older files to Amazon's online storage. Then it doesn't matter if I can't read CDs or magneto-optical, or ZIP, or JAZ, or SyQuest... all I have to worry about is whether or not I can read the format that the files are in.
Years ago any time a new version of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign came out, I immediately read in all my older files, then saved them out in the new file format. That way even my oldest files would still be accessible if I ever needed them. But eventually, as the number of files I have archived skyrocketed, this became impractical.
Now I just cross my fingers that new versions of the programs will be backwards compatible enough that I don't have to worry about it.
Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
Ask any blogger what the bane of their existence is, and they are certain to answer "Broken links." Well... not really... if you were to ask me what the bane of my blogging existence is, I'd answer "Hate comments and death threats," but I blog about politics and cats and stuff, so I bring that on myself.
But a close second would absolutely be "Broken links," and it's such a massively annoying problem for long-term bloggers such as myself that I'm tempted to never link to anything ever again. NEVER EVER EVARRRRR!
Some of it is understandable. Fellow bloggers shut down their blogs... companies go out of business... websites are lost... that kind of thing. So when I find a broken link on an entry I wrote fifteen years ago, I'm honestly not surprised. The internet is ever growing and changing.
But when I find a busted YouTube link in an entry I wrote TWENTY-THREE DAYS AGO?!?
THAT'S LESS THAN A MONTH!!!
This was from a Bullet Sunday entry where I was talking about one of the best new shows on television: Alternatino with Arturo Castro. I absolutely love this sketch comedy series, and want as many of my readers as possible to know about it.* And so I linked to the premiere episode that Comedy Central posted on YouTube.
And now Comedy Central has decided to take down the video for some reason. Which is pretty fucking stupid no matter how you cut it... YouTube is a massive platform for exposure of the show... but what makes it go BEYOND fucking stupid is that they left a broken link. Okay... you don't want to have the entire first episode available for people to watch. Whatever. But why not just overwrite the episode with an advertisement or a promo piece or something so people who shared your stuff don't end up with a broken link from your deleted video?
Some "social media consultant" making six figures probably doesn't understand how social media works and came up with this brilliant decision.
And when I scroll through my archives, I see tons of busted YouTube links. Even for advertisements! Why would you delete an advertisement for your product? I guess I can understand it if the product no longer exists or was canceled or was discontinued... but the vast majority of the time, that's not the case.
I'm not really sure how to deal with this.
For links, there's not much to do except delete the link and try to have my entry make sense without it.
For YouTube, there's not much I can do there either. I suppose I could scrape the video, re-upload it to my own YouTube account, then stream from that... but there's two problems there. ONE is that I'd probably get hit with a copyright violation. TWO is that I feel bad denying valuable clicks to the original content creator.
So I dunno.
Perhaps I just find ways of talking about the things I like without linking to them. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of The World Wide Web... but short of spending my entire life monitoring links on my blog, what else is there?
*Seriously. You have no idea. The fourth episode just aired and it is epic. If you are not watching Alternatino with Arturo Castro, you absolutely should be!
Posted on Friday, August 9th, 2019
This morning while I was waiting for my laptop to render out the project I had been working on for an hour-and-a-half, I grabbed my iPhone to take a look at what's going on in the world. Granted in this day and age that's most always a mistake, but I'm a glutton for punishment.
After glossing over the "news" tab I clicked on the "entertainment" tab because that's always a much happier place to be. One of the first stories was The Movies Directed By Quentin Tarantino, Ranked. I'm a big Tarantino fan, so I had clicked through without even thinking about it. The list (over at Film School Rejects) was an interesting one. They put Inglourious Basterds at the top, not Pulp Fiction, which is usually not how these lists go. Most times I never know if the person making the list puts Pulp Fiction as #1 because they honestly feel that way... or because it's expected of them to have it there. Then I noticed that the Film School Rejects list was a composite list by a group of people, and suddenly everything made sense. Since the list wasn't being attributed to a single person's name, people could vote how they wanted to with no pressure to vote as they feel people expected them to.
While I prefer lists that I can attribute to a single person, I do like the idea of lists that are voted on by multiple people. If, for no other reason, because it feels as though it gives a better barometric of truthiness due to the anonymity of it all.
Then I discovered the website Ranker and fell down a rabbit hole.
Ranker is a site where any visitor can vote on lists of things (and also has regular news stories). Clicking on the "entertainment" tab and I see Every Song in Cats, Ranked by Singability and The Best TV Shows Streaming on Hulu and The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made and Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With.
Then I see the list that compels me to start ranking... The Best Hallmark Channel Original Movies of 2019. ON THIS SUBJECT I HAVE VERY STRONG OPINIONS!
...my rendering finished ages ago and I'm running in danger of being late to work. That's what happens when you feel compelled to vote on things like Funny Names to Give a Chicken (before you judge me, 4,300+ other people were in on this)...
I mean, come on... "Tyrannosaurus Pecks?" "Mother Clucker?" "CLUCK NORRIS?!?!?" Personally, I give the edges to "Sir Clucks-A-Lot" for a boy and "Margaret Hatcher" for a girl, but that's just me.
Also just me? Ranking The Very Best Pop-Tart Flavors... so, if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.
Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020
For years now... a decade really... I've been experimenting with setting up a personal NAS (Network Attached Storage) media server that's connected to the internet. There are a lot of reasons I'd like to have such a thing, but the big one is that I want to be able to access my vast photo library from anywhere on earth. If I'm in Germany and want to show a friend a photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Yokohama (something that actually happened) it would be great if I could do that. Sure I have the option of paying for a photo service, but then I have to convert all my images from RAW format and lose the ability to access/edit the original photo remotely if I want to.
So I purchased a 1 Terabyte single-drive, internet-enabled "WD My Book Studio" NAS back in 2010 with that in mind. Everything ended up being a total mess and didn't work at all like I was hoping. It's been sitting in a drawer ever since.
Fast forward to 2019 and I decided to try again. I used money I had saved in 2014 for a trip to Norway's fjords with my mom (that we never got around to taking) and purchased a QNAP TS415+ NAS and two Western Digital 8 Terabyte RED drives to put in it. The drives are mirrored in a RAID configuration so I don't lose any data if one of them dies. Note that there's a television remote. That's because this model has an HDMI port so it can hook up directly to a television...
Today I finally set it all up. It was fairly straightforward, though not the most user-friendly thing to do. It spent hours doing a "RAID resync" (whatever the hell that is), which makes zero sense. The drives were empty and freshly formatted. How can it take over 24 hours to "resync" NOTHING? Note that QNAP doesn't bother with beta testing their apps. If they did, somebody might have noticed that the displayed percentage overwrites the text label, making it tough to read its progress...
Before you can do anything, you have to set up a "Storage Pool" from your drives. I maxed my pool out at 100% of my available drive space, because why only use part of your drives? QNAP is pretty brain-dead when you choose to do this... it will endlessly pester you with alerts because it defaults to a threshold of 80% usage. Insanity. If somebody sets their pool to 100% of drive space, why not ask if you want to disable the threshold alerts? I had to do it manually. Sadly, after setting things up, my 8TB mirrored drive resulted in only 7.1TB of space available. No idea what happened to nearly a FULL TERABYTE of storage (this seems high for overhead), but whatever.
Rather than have to install a third-party app, I decided to give the QNAP "Qmedia" app a try on my AppleTV since it's the "native" application from QNAP. It is complete and total shit. Despite "pretending" to remember where you left off when viewing videos, it doesn't. You can't even fast-forward the video you're watching, which is mind-blowing. I have no fucking idea why they even bothered. Qmedia is useless.
I'd rather not have to switch television video input sources from my AppleTV every time I want to watch something off the NAS, but apparently that's going to be how this goes. So I grabbed the QNAP remote and went for it. First I had to install an app (of course) but no big deal. Then I actually tried to use the thing and it's a total clusterfuck. The "VideoStation" app is just a fucking web browser interface. It's difficult to read because it's not sized for a television. It's impossible to use with the included remote because the remote doesn't do anything. You have to plug in a mouse and keyboard to make it work.
There's an "HD Player" app that looks like it's geared more towards television displays and using the remote control but it's fucking useless too, having many of the same problems as Qmedia. It goes non-responsive constantly, doesn't allow fast-forwarding (pressing the up arrow to skip forward is not the same thing), starts at the beginning of a video even if you tell it to resume from where you stopped, has a shitty interface that makes sorting through a large number of videos a nightmare, has crap video quality that you can't adjust for brightness or anything else, and is an overall steaming pile of fail.
I swear, QNAP is the most ridiculous fucking company. Why bother to make claims of being a multimedia center that can connect directly to your television if it does THIS shitty of a job of it? The whole thing is a fucking joke.
Fortunately there's plenty of options for serving your media from a NAS if it has a computer onboard like the TS451+ does. The "big two" are Kodi and Plex. Kodi is open source and free. Plex is free, but you can support the project by paying to subscribe to "Plex Pass" for additional features (like being able to download media on your phone for local playback instead of streaming it). Most people I know who started on Kodi ended up with Plex, so I just skipped a step and installed Plex Server on my NAS.
For what it is, Plex Server is pretty sweet. It transcodes just about anything you throw at it. Including the RAW Digital Negative photo format from Adobe (DNG) that I use. Which means I don't have to save out JPEGs in order to access my photo library remotely. Nice! I need to work on settings for this, however, because Plex compresses things pretty heavily for transmission. This results in some ugly visual artifacts, banding, and color shifts...
Video works brilliantly from Plex BECAUSE YOU CAN ACTUALLY FUCKING FAST FORWARD THROUGH IT ON APPLE TV! Plex does a really good job of cataloging it as well. Thank heavens, because I'd light my QNAP NAS on fire if I had to suffer through their shitty apps. The only problem I've run across is having the video stop and tell me that my connection isn't fast enough, which is absurd because AppleTV is literally plugged into the same high-speed hub as the NAS! There must be some kind of setting for that I'm missing. Fortunately, it's a rare event.
I don't steal media. All the movies and television shows I have are on DVD/Blu-Ray or purchased on Digital. Well, with two exceptions... Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original) and Oh Grow Up! (one of my favorite shows of all time)... are not available to purchase. Lord only knows I wish they were, because my digitized versions of VHS tapes are really poor quality. I've used Vudu's Disc-To-Digital service to convert the bulk of my DVD/Blu-Ray collection to Digital legally. But not all of my stuff is available for conversion. Now I have the option of ripping them to the NAS and viewing them digitally no matter where I am via Plex Server. Technically, any time you break the protection on a DVD you are breaking the law, but that's a bullshit law. I would happily pay to convert them to digital if the studio who owns them would allow them to be converted. What I'm not going to do is buy the same movie all over again. Fuck that. I already paid for it, I should get to pay a small fee for a new format, not have to buy it all over again. And so... I have a small collection of DVDs ripped to my NAS temporarily until the studio allows them to be converted and I can pay for that. Plex does a great job of streaming from my living room to remote locations in HD. No, the video quality is not as good as what comes off of iTunes... especially if the iTunes version is 4K... but it's plenty good enough for my iPad or iPhone. I'm sure if I didn't have tons of security cameras flooding my bandwidth I could set the quality higher, but it's really not necessary.
Music streaming (local and remote) is handled quite well through Plex, and my SONOS system can address Plex directly. This means I can download all my music from iTunes, put it on the NAS, then drop iTunes Music Match and iTunes itself with no problem.
And so... bravo Plex.
I'm going to try out "Plex Pass" for a month and see if I want to upgrade to the lifetime membership for $120. Something tells me that's a purchase I will end up making. I certainly can't do without Plex if my alternative is the QNAP crap.
UPDATE: Yeah. Easiest decision to make to get the Plex Pass... the apps for streaming are included and you're helping the team behind it to keep developing the app.
So okay... the QNAP multimedia is bullshit. What about the NAS itself? Well, I'd love to report on that, but the minute I login, it either immediately disconnects me...
...or it allows me in but gives me a shitload of error messages. My favorite? Telling me it's running out of memory. If 2GB is not enough memory to do even the most basic tasks, then why ship with just 2GB memory? QNAP has their own version of Microsoft "Clippy" to break the bad news, which is a weird choice...
Even better? If you choose "optimize" he does a happy dance when he recovers 0MB of memory! Once I can log in again, I'll turn off and uninstall absolutely everything except the bare minimum I need (which includes Plex Server, of course), so I'm hoping that will fix these problems.
My NAS can act as a Time Machine backup for my Mac, but I really don't need that any more. All my data is stored in the cloud, so the only thing that would need to be replaced on my MacBook if it were destroyed are the apps, which I can just download from the developer again.
QNAP provides Apple File Services so I can access my NAS over my local network easily. Weirdly enough, you are required to install Windows File Services in order to install Apple File Services, but (luckily) you can kill the Windows File Services after installation to save precious memory and everything seems to work fine.
Speaking of memory... QNAP is happy to sell you more, but they charge outrageous pricing for the stuff. I mean laughably outrageous pricing. Far better to buy it yourself (which I'm guessing I'll have to do sometime soon if killing apps don't work).
Remote management and access to my files is a breeze thanks to QNAP's tools and a service they call CloudLink. The NAS talks with QNAP so even though its IP address may change, you can still reach it with no trouble.
I am still relatively new to the QNAP TS451+ NAS and the Western Digital RED drives, so I can't comment much about them. I can say that Western Digital are the only brand of hard drive that hasn't disappointed me so I'm hoping that trend continues. Also, despite the shitty media center aspects and overly-difficult controls, QNAP is highly respected in the IT industry. I just wouldn't bother paying extra for an HDMI port and remote that you will probably never use because their software is shit. Put that money towards a Plex Pass where it will do some good.
Posted on Sunday, April 5th, 2020
The world may be at a standstill, but the blog keeps turning... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free-Fitty-Free! For the month of April, HBO is streaming some of their most acclaimed content for free, no subscription required. A full list of shows and instructions can be found here and, if you need a recommendation, I'd take a look at Bill Hader's Barry which is a pretty great show. It starts off a little slow... but snowballs into insanity in short order.
• Nice! I love projects like this one...
The world is smaller than we realize. Given current events, it's good to remember that.
• Upload! You know when you see a trailer and it's so good that all you can think is how the actual show couldn't possibly live up to what you're watching... but you are hopeful anyway? That's me watching this...
Greg Daniels is running the show, so I have reason to be hopeful. But still... fingers crossed.
• Disney At Home! A Disney animator is teaming up with Josh Gad to create some Frozen shorts while quarantined at home. The result is pretty great...
The tools make things easier and easier for animators... but they don't mean a lot if the person doing the animating can't tell a story.
• Buttholes! I said a while back that this is the only way I would ever watch Cats. And here's why...
This is the only way I'd ever watch Batman vs. Superman again too.
• One?! So laughable that an abhorrent network devoted to far-right presidential dick-sucking can in any way claim to be serving "One America," but here it is...
Thank heavens that John Oliver is still doing his show while under quarantine at home.
• Munneh! I had $90 in PayPal that wasn't doing anything, so I signed up for a Robinhood account and got their app so I can play the stock market. I'm now worth $108.23, so my market savvy has me well on my way towards becoming a billionaire, I can feel it! — I will try not to forget you, the little people, once I am a part of the 1% and above your petty existence.
And that's all the bullets we have for today.