Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why corporate controlled social media is teh debil

Oh blogging I love you so.  Not really my own blogging attempts because those have been sporadic and unsatisfying.  I love blogging because in my mind it is one of the only true social medias.  Early entrants into the category of true social media are chat channels, mostly thinking of irc here, and message boards.
This is a post I've actually started many times.  I have had trouble putting it into words. To be blunt I hate corporate controlled "social media". In the past whenever someone would mention Facebook my standard comment was "Facebook is teh debil".  Hey I was chatting in irc.  Twitter started off nicely but has recently taken a wrong turn.

So what is real social media.  It can be directly related to the old irc and message board concept.  It's the internet version of a group of people with a common interest getting together.  Imagine having some people over to you house for a get together.  You talk about your life, share pictures of the kids, get everyone caught up on what is going on your life.  Maybe you sit around the tv and watch a show. There is inherently no difference between that and what is happening on facebook or in the comment section of a blog.

So along comes a man. Let us call  him Mack Zinkerburg. So Mr. Zinkerburg builds his own living room.  It rather poorly built and kinda confusing, but he invites everybody over to carry on their conversations.  For reasons inexplicable to me, loads of people stop by.  No Mr. Zinkerburg has not done this out of the goodness of his heart. He wants money. As much money as he can possibly get and he isn't to scrupulous about how he gets it.

So in this poorly living room he has placed a billion microphones and cameras to capture every piece of information about you he can.  He learns every single thing he can about you and all your friends.  He then sells that information to someone how then uses that information to try and sell you things. Oh but Mach doesn't stop there.  He lets some people pay him money so they can force their way into your conversation.  There you are discussing the latest episode of The Walking Dead and up pops some random stranger trying to sell their walking dead fan fiction.  They get to do this because they've paid Mack a shiny dollar per person they wish to interrupt.

Surely Mack is done being greedy and controlling.  Nope there is more. He decides you don't really need to hear all that your friends are saying.  He starts filtering out your communication.  Only half of what you are saying is getting to your friends.

To be serious as a wrap up.  I find for profit social media to be offensive and completely unnecessary. I find it offensive because fundamentally I don't see them as having the right to profit off of information about me. I've long thought that personal information(phone number, online searches, etc) should be considered the property of that person. For every dollar google makes of the info they have about me I should get 95 cents.  Secondly it is unnecessary.  The internet is filled with open free alternatives that foster communication and community without the profit motive or incursions into private information. At its best the internet fosters openness and sharing. It contains the promise to be the democratizer of information and culture, but greed is turning it into a series of the closed gardens were people spend all day trying to figure out how to shove the maximum amount of adds in your face. I guess you can say I am a kinda techno hippie.




Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Life Worth Blogging

I sit on my couch with my netbook in my lap.  My cat keeps trying to sit in my lap and seems confused by this plastic thing in the way. I have tried to think of something to blog about so I am resorting to the worst sort of blog post, a post about blogging.

I think there are four main types of blog. You have the corporate blog. These exist for the synergising of brand awareness... or something else made up.  I avoid these like the plague. There is the pro bloggers. People who are an expert in a field and tend to write on that subject.  A couple of examples from my own blog feeds, a blog on woodworking by a professional woodworker, and a blog by a tech writer about laptops.  Thirdly are the theme blogs. Blogs about politics or discussing a specific type of news story. Think of blogs with an agenda. And finally my favorite type of blog, the personal blog.  I read a lot of personal blogs. Most of them are about expats living outside their home country.  This provides them with a nice exciting hook.

As I have returned to blogging I often wonder if my life is worthy of being written about. Seeing as I spend most of my time at a sports bar, probably not :).  Don't worry I plan to keep blogging. It's not really that I don't have topics to blog.  Mostly I need to find the will to do it.  I can easily find the time. And perhaps the desire to blog will help me do something more interesting than just watching every single Blackhawks game.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Bar - a flash fiction


I slowly pull the sticker off my bottle. It slips off the wet surface easily. The bartender had just pulled it out of a large bucket of ice.I lined the sticker up below the previous one. I’ve done this for years. I always have told myself that I do this so I can keep track of how many beers I should be charged for. You see my buddy owns this bar and would often only charge me for half what I drank. In truth I did it to keep track of how many I had drunk in any night. Once the number reaches upward of eight to ten I found it easy to lose track.

I am sitting in the farthest corner of the cramped bar with my back to a wall. I glance around the dimly lit room and my distaste grows. Like usual on a Friday, the drunks have packed the place. A sneer crosses my lips. A bunch of thirty something drunks trying to party like they are still twenty-five. The music is too loud. The DJ calls up the latest victim to attempt to sign karaoke. Two drunken women stumble forward and and begin bellowing off key. Several couples slobber over each other awkwardly.

My buddy next to me, even older than I am, tries in desperation to impress the almost passed out twenty year old college student next to him. She leans into him and stumbles through a slurred sentence. He looks at me with a big smile on his face. I just shake my head sadly. The place smells of desperation and sad dreams.

The bartender, Al, walks over with a shot glass in his hand. Depending on the day Al looks between fifty and eighty years old. Tonight he looks eighty. It’s been a long busy day of helping to drown out these peoples regrets.

He puts the glass filled with an unknown liquid in front of me. Without a word he points across bar to an old drinking buddy of mine. He raises his glass and I waggle my bottle back at him.

I hand the shot glass to my friend next to me. He passes it on to the drunk girl. I can’t help but think I am facilitating a future crime.

My head pounds as there is a break in the karaoke. I squeeze the bridge of my nose hoping to push away the pain. I drink the last of what is in my bottle and place it on the counter.

Al reaches into the cooler asking me with his eyes if I want another. I shake my head no and make a gesture to indicate my bill. He shakes his head and waves me away. I place a twenty on the bar under the bottle and stand up. I look down at the three labels that are on the counter in front of me. Non alcoholic, non alcoholic, non alcoholic, they all say. Al still doesn't understand the reason I come here is to support him.

I weave my way through the mass of sweating bodies trying not to touch them. The heat is oppressive. Near the door I pass by a couple making out like teenagers. I shake my head again and walk out. The cool air hits me and begins to clear my headache up. They say no one hates smokers as much as an ex smoker. I guess no one hates drunks as much as an ex drunk.

Monday, April 15, 2013

More and honest thoughts about my life as I turn 40

I think I am going to start a policy of trying to have the longest post titles in blogonia.

I realized there was more I wanted to say about turning forty. Am I who I thought I would be and doing what I thought I would be doing at forty? I don't think so.  But honestly I really never had much impression of what my life would be like. The only thing that I have been sure of from a young age was the desire to be a writer. I've never really wanted a career, though I fell into one. I remember sometime in college, after I changed my major, again, what I planned to do with my life.  In answer I quoted the great American bard, Bruce Springsteen, "I want to sleep beneath Peaceful skies in my lover's bed With a wide open country in my eyes And these romantic dreams in my head". I meant it seriously. If at twenty you had asked me what three things I'd hope would be true of me by the time I was forty, I would have answered: be a writer, having fallen crazy in love, had adventures. Except for a year or so in the early 2000s I've never seriously tried to write.  I fell crazy in love once and it didn't end well. And most of my adventures where the video game kind. On a side note, knowing how to use punctuation correctly would probably help with that whole writing thing. 

I like to get all zen and describe myself as flowing water. Translated that means I am lazy and do whatever is the easiest most of the time. These are not new self revelations brought on by turning forty. About four years ago I realized the same thing.  I decided to start living with intentionality.  Having goals and trying to reach them sums up the idea. I called it the slackers guide to life. To call it a great success would be a lie, but I did learn some important points. Having goals is good. If you aim for nothing that is what you will hit. I also learned I can't change who I am fundamentally. I tend to do whatever I've formed as a habit. I can always find an excuse as to why change has to be delayed to later. On of the self-help books I read said it takes one to two months to form a new habit.  As part of turning forty I've come up with some habits I would like to form. So I am going to take them one at a time and spend a couple of months concentrating on that one habit.  Up first is writing six days a week.  Whether a blog post, personal journal, or working on a book, I have to put words on paper (screen) six days a week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On turning the big 4 0

Old Man Take A Look At My Life... (Sri Lanka)
From flickr user departing(YYZ) licensed under creative commons

Yes internets, today I turned forty years old. Somehow I never thought it would happen.  I remember being twenty five.   I remember being thirty seven.  Each time forty seemed so far away but here I am. I celebrated by dyeing the grey out of my hair and doing laundry.  My life is exciting.  What do I think about turning forty.  I don't think this is how I imagined my life when I was forty.  But frankly I never have really had a plan or ambitions for my life.  My only ambition has been to be a writer. Which hasn't   happened.  It's a complete mystery to me as to why I am not a famous novelist.  Oh yeah I have never finished a novel.   

So I  spent today coming up with a "bucket list".  Things I want to do and places I want to go.

So in no particular order:

  • Finish a novel
  • Live in a different town (I've been living in the same town since I was eighteen)
  • Live in another country (I am not sure how long it takes for it to be considered living in another country)
  • Write a piece of open source software that people actually use
  • Visit:
    • Iceland
    • Papua New Guinea/Borneo ( I joke that I think these place are fictitious and are just made up on maps)
    • Fiji
    • Galapagos Islands
    • Spain
    • Brazil
    • I want to go back to Paris and London
    • Poland (The Homeland )
    • Spain
    • Alaska

Update: I forgot to mention that I broke my string of celebrating my birthday in another country. The streak ended at one year.

Monday, April 08, 2013

You wanted nonsensical musings

This time last year I was in London as part of my London/Paris trip.  In honor of the promised blog posts about the trip, which may never happen, I give you the following.  I don't want to give to much preface. I want to save the whole story for a real post.  Lets just say what you are about to read was written in an extreme state of sleep deprivation and lack of eating.  My overnight plane landed at six am and I couldn't get into my hotel room until two pm. I had to have my luggage with me all the time so I decided to try and write about my first day experience.  This was the unedited result:




From front door to hotel.  Two days that merged into one long tiring one. 
The day of the trip begins with about 5 hours of solid sleep followed by desperately seeking sleep by lying in bed for several hours only catching fitful bits of slumber as my cat sat on top of me and purred. This made my start time later than I wanted.  I rushed over to the office to do a couple  of things before I could leave town.  cruise the boring corn field filled three hour drive to my appointed Taxi pick-up spot at a friends place. I cut it really close and only arrive about 20 minutes before the cab pulls up.  




  A slight geography lesson is needed at this point.  

And I left my ipod loaded with podcasts back in my car.  
It’s like I’m not even real anymore.  I am floating across the tops of the images of the London that are passing by.  They mingle in a poetic managerie with the talk show hosts that are discussing teacher pensions in the UK and the argument the Indian bus driver is having with is wife over bluetooth.  It seems he mentioned Paris to Gua but not that he wants to go to Paris and that’s it’s hard to explain.  The bus, which wouuld be tiny in the US feels huge at it dances and darts around the narrow streets.  I am not a afraid though, in my current state my conscience would just float away if I died. It would linger above London like a sleep deprived feeling but not thinking mass.

Now I sit in the lobby of my hotel which what seems to be the entire population of eastern Europe, letting slavic languages cascade across my sleep deprived addled mind. It’s with dull and unseeing eyes I look around and see the petulant children and excited students.  I haven’t slept in 24 hours or eaten in 12.  I’m not hungry and I am not sleepy.  I’ve moved beyond the point where I can feel such things.  Perhaps sleep deprivation is the ultimate drug. It’s fun to sit here and try to determine someones nationality from just what you can see.  How some dressses, awalks and interacts with other expressed a great deal.  I don’t even need to hear them talk over the weird lounge music playing through my headphones.  The Russians begin drinking before noon.
Bravely stupidly I fought on and decided to do the one thing I had planned for my first day.  The British Museum. 

Don’t watch the original willi wonkas chocolate factory on sleep deprivation.  Those Oompahs are freaky man.
28 hours without sleep and 13 hours without eating... weirdness.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Follow Friday: Robin Ellis

I know. I know. It is Saturday and not Friday and it is a twitter thing.  If you look down the left side column of my blog you will see the newly added Blogs I Follow section.  I plan on populating it with some of the blogs I follow.  Instead of just dumping a bunch of them on there at once, I decided to add them one at a time and do a little post about each.

First up is Robin Ellis of robin-ellis.net. Robin Ellis is an English actor who now lives in the country in France.  I have only ever seen him in an episode of Fawlty Towers. Robin has been diagnosed with diabetes.  It runs in his family.  A large number of his posts are recipes fit for a diabetic.  He calls his method of cooking a "Mediterranean style of cooking".

My style of cooking in usually Mediterranean—based on olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. This cuisine–with a little tweaking–suits the slightly different way of eating that I adopted once the diabetes showed up.
 The flavor in these dishes and comes from spices and not from salt and fat. This makes for delicious and healthy meals. I have made several of the recipes he has featured.

Two of my favorites:


So if you are ready  for some really delicious healthy meals he is your man.  He also has a cook book.  You can find the details on his blog.

Food isn't the only thing Robin blogs about.  He also give us entertaining snippets of his life in France. Robin places special emphasis on the animals that live with them.    

Again two of my favorites:
So I can highly recommend giving Robin's blog a follow.  You are guaranteed (note this guarantee will not be honored anywhere in the known universe) a tasty recipe or a fun story.  Also, you might learn some info about diabetes.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Fried Potatoes scrambled egg thingy

I am not really a foodie. I like my meals fairly plain. In stereotypical American fashion I eat lots of cheeseburgers and pizza. But one thing I am a huge fan of is a big breakfast.  Give me a giant plate of scrambled eggs and some biscuits and gravy, and I am a happy wonky. So with that in mind here is a simple and cheap hearty breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 red potatoes
  • Half a green pepper
  • Half a yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

ingredients for scramble potato thing

Clean the potatoes and then chop them into about 1/2 inch chunks. Try to keep the potato pieces about the same size so they cook evenly.

Heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, and add the olive oil and potatoes. A pro tip, make sure you cook the potatoes enough.  A few times I've not browned them thoroughly and it ruins the dish.  Stir the potatoes while they brown.

Dice half the onion and half the green pepper.

Once the potatoes are starting to brown add the onions, and some salt and pepper.

Just cook this mixture until the onions start to get a little color.  You aren't going for french onion soup here. Add those diced green pepper bits. Give it a couple more minutes with some stirring.  During this time whisk up the three eggs.

Make a space in the middle of the pan to add the eggs.


hole for eggs

Pour in the eggs.  Let them just sit and cook for about a minute, then stir the whole mess together.  It won't take long for the eggs to cook with all the heat in the pan.

This makes enough for two people I would say.  I ate the whole thing myself. I like it because you can add almost anything handy.  Sausage, cheese, ham, tomatoes all add nice flavor and color.

Cost:$4.35  <- I had the receipt