I often view myself as a connected individual. I have a smartphone, Internet access, and various social media and communications accounts. I respond to emails, chats, messages on Facebook… the works. I buy things online, and pay most of my bills online. And, occasionally, I take a break from it all. But sometimes I imagine a time before the Internet and how things used to get done.
Paul Miller of The Verge has done exactly that. For a year, he cannot use the Internet, or any feature of the Internet, and his journal entries give us a peek into his experience with this. It’s an intriguing thing he’s doing, considering he has grown with and relies heavily upon the Internet, even more so than myself. He has to find alternate sources for news, entertainment, and knowledge, not to mention having to pay bills and contact people using “old fashioned” methods.
Some of the things he mentions having issues with, like figuring out a news paper, breaking the habit of checking his phone, being unable to find answers quickly, and paying bills via phone and mail, I noticed something about myself – while highly connected, using some of the latest technology, I tend to be old-fashioned at times. I read the news paper, despite it having an online digital copy. I pay some of my bills via mail, and up until recently, in person (I’ve since bothered to pay my utilities and Internet online). I prefer to make phone calls at work rather than send emails. These are things that I find normal that Paul, on his journey, finds difficult or frightful.
And yet, I fall into the same pitfalls he does. He talks about some of the old habits he has regarding his devices (as he’s allowed to have them, just not online). Even when there is nothing to do on them, he will pull out his phone and push buttons. He will have his iPad and laptop out, looking at apps, not really doing anything. And honestly, I do the same things sometimes. I’ll pull my phone out when everybody else does, and even if my social networks have nothing new, and twitter bores me, I’ll look at those things, because everybody else is. That’s one habit I’m trying to kill, trying not to pull it out in social situations or just out of habit.
I can waste hours online, doing up the social media sites, checking the news, and doing things. But sometimes, I find comfort that newspaper, prefer to write that check, love hear and see people, and would rather not be distracted by electronics in social situations. As the world moves forward, we can’t forget why these technologies exist, and the people on the other side of that Facebook post or tweet.31 May, 2012
Windows 8 is making the rounds as both the best new thing and worst new thing coming from Redmond. It features a revamped user interface, authentication using a Microsoft account to access cloud services, Xbox LIVE integration, and many, many new features, built from the ground-up. It’s a brand new Windows through and through. However, is it really what people want?
The first thing you will notice when you use Windows 8 – the Metro UI. It’s a series of blocks with icons, text, or images that you can click or tap on to access your files, media, and applications. It’s not too much different than what Microsoft has had on their Xbox 360 for quite a while. It’s a beautiful interface, and in the consumer preview, works very smoothly.
And yet, despite the looks and smooth animations, the Metro UI is not initially intuitive, and doesn’t really fit into typical computing. It’s a touch interface first, and after some complaints with the developer preview, a standard desktop interface second. This means that the majority of Windows users are now second-class citizens in this new OS. That’s a massive no-no. Not to mention that it will be highly confusing for non-power users.
But why did Microsoft do this? Why subject the typical user to such a terrible desktop interface? One word – tablets. Microsoft has been loosing out to Google and Apple in the tablet market, offering only a mobile phone OS and completely missing out on tablets. Yes, there are tablet PC’s, but those require styluses and are quite expensive. Microsoft wanted to create a powerful OS that was simple to use. On a tablet. And that they did, at the cost of the typical PC user. Yes, the standard desktop is still there, but to do anything that the old start menu did, you have to subject yourself to oversized blocks and hovering over certain areas. Very awkward to use.
Besides the tablet market, the Metro UI is also great for a media center PC. Big text, simple UI, and something already familiar to many Xbox owners, Windows 8 should be a great media center OS, right? If you want to pay extra for it. Windows Media Center won’t be included with Windows 8, but will be an addon. The article isn’t clear if it’s just the Pro version not having, or the same across the board, but if the announcement of DVD playback being an addon is any indication, it’s across the board. So it’s doable, but more expensive to do.
Back to the tablet, Windows 8 will have a version (called Windows 8 RT) that will run on those processors used in tablets, as Intel and AMD processors are still too power-hungry and hot to play nicely in an iPad-like tablet. But, the ARM version of Windows has third-party browser developers up in arms. Microsoft has denied access the APIs that IE 10 uses to third-party developers of browsers, blocking integration of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox into the Metro UI. Hopefully, Microsoft can another antitrust case related to IE.
Windows 8. I’m not quite sure if I really want to upgrade to it. It doesn’t quite appeal to me, as a desktop user, and it has glaring problems, as a consumer, and will be giving me headaches, as a technician. Unless Microsoft can bring back the desktop-first approach, bring back the start menu, and make the Metro interface optional, I might consider it. But, for now, Windows 7 will have to do, just like Windows XP when Windows Vista came out.10 May, 2012
This is a (short) list of books I hope to eventually get around to this year.
UPDATE: I’ve had more time to add to this list, and modify it, so I’ve republished this post.
A Game of Thrones
The God Delusion
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The Extraordinary Tale of Nicholas Pierce
Ok, I’ve brought back the photo section of the site after much work. I apologize ahead of time for anybody using Internet Explorer 8 or earlier. The page will break for you. Well, break in the sense that the image will not re-size for your window. I figure that very few visitors actually use IE8, in favor of non-IE browsers and IE9.
For those of you who get to enjoy the neat feature, enjoy. This should be an improvement over the old design as in the photo is the focus of the page. I’m also excited to get to use a feature of the site that’ll let me directly link to a photo from the front page!
If you haven’t figured out how to get to the photos page by now, click here!31 March, 2012
For the year that I had an Android device, I fairly regularly updated my location on Google Latitude. It was great, since my location data (and how often I check into a place) helped Google recommend places to me, and is usually good about it. An on the Android platform, Google Latitude is very good. It ties in with Google+ (allowing you to make a post rather than just a check-in), Places, and Maps. If your location didn’t exist, you can make one. And there was a little feature that kept track of how many times you went to a place, meaning you could become a “regular” at a place via Latitude.
That’s great an all, and while Android garners more than 50% of the smartphone market, iPhones are not devices to be ignored if Google really wants your location data, as that’s another 25% of the market. Since I switched to the iPhone, I’ve noticed how much Google has neglected the platform. The iPhone version is more true to the old “location on map only” model that was once Latitude. You can only share you location with Latitude friends (which I have very few of), you can’t create new locations, and there’s no real incentive to bother using it. I am highly disappointed, Google. I’m going to stop using Latitude because of how terrible your iPhone app is. Good job.14 March, 2012
Non-believers of the South, I’m sure some of you may have heard of SAUCE FOR ALL. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on an awesome organization that has recently started to take off. It’s notable enough, in fact, that the friendly atheist wrote a small bit about it.
Why did I type the name of the organization in all caps? Because SAUCE FOR ALL is actually an acronym. A bit forced, but an acronym never-the-less. It stands for “Southern Atheists United for Candid Expression, Freethought, Openmindedness, Reason, And Living Life”. A bit long-winded, but cleaver.
“The goals of SAUCE is to united the godless of the South, promote tabula rasa atheism and atheism as consequence, and mitigate the deleterious effects of religion through education via the methods of online discussion, collegate discussion, and conferences.” – SAUCE FOR ALL
So why am I blabbering on and on about this? For one, I want anybody who actually reads what I write to know about the existence of the organization, since most live in the South. For two, I helped modernize the site, making it more streamline on the back-end and look far better on the front-end. The site relaunched today, providing some dynamic features that were missing from the old site, like multi-user editing and an events calendar.
There are more developments in the future for the site, but those are still going to be under wraps until they are launched.
So, check out the site, find a local organization in your area, and meet some other people like you (if you’re an Atheist).10 March, 2012
A few long days, domain and host transfer, and several fixes later, I have a new site. I still need to finish one little part of it, the part with photos, but for now, enjoy the new site.
This change in design and location also speaks to a new direction for the site. If you notice, much of the backlog of posts are no more. This is because I’m going to embrace the social networks on my random finds, ideas, etc, and leave the blog as a platform for my ideas and things I have to say that require a bit more than 140 characters. This means more original articles and less re-posted things.
Another new features is that the comments are now integrated into Facebook. A neat feature about this is that it’s not limited to Facebook, but accounts from Yahoo!, Hotmail, or AOL may also be used. After ragging on Facebook, why would I do this? It makes it easier on both you and I regarding comments. I can moderate the comments, but don’t have to deal with as much spam (and spam registrations). Likewise, as a reader, you don’t have to create an account on my page (adding to the number of things you have to remember), but can use an existing one. Better yet, if you’re already logged into Facebook, you’re already logged into my comments. It saves you time. And you get notifications on replies to your comment.
I’m excited for this new look, something fresh for 2012. It isn’t quite perfect yet (and I’ll still do tweaks here and there), but for the most part, it’s done. I intended on using more of the color of the year, tango tangerine, but I feel it may not have been needed as much as I was expecting it to. It may find its way back, though.21 January, 2012
This will be the year I will remember for a while. 2011, overall, was a great year. I got a salaried job with benefits, went to the hospital for the first time not as a visitor, got both Apple and Dell certifications, was one of the first people to root and install a launcher on the nook Simple Touch Reader, and other things. It will also be remembered as the year that politics, related to youth voters, has significantly changed, both locally and nationally.
1. Semester GPA 3.0+.
I’m not going to set the goal too high, but not lower it too much.
2. Get myself back on good footing financially.
Hospital bills didn’t help. Everything that was going towards saving up a small amount and paying the balance on one of my cards to clear it went out the window when I had to pay for a bunch of medical supplies and a hospital bill. I need to restructure my budget (it’s been an ongoing process) to get myself back somewhere a bit more stable. Some things can’t be changed, but others can. But it will happen, sooner or later.
3. Finish something regarding writing.
I have this desire to write that, on previous years, I’ve promised myself I would do, and fail. I’m going to do it again, but hopefully, actually do it.
4. Read through my reading list for 2012.
I don’t have a reading list set yet, and I need to create it. I’ll do it by early January. It’ll be a short, 10 book list, but that’s somewhere to start.
5. Go on a road trip.
Not a trip somewhere that I drive on the interstate the entire time. A trip where I take the back roads and explore some of the little towns on the way to a destination. A weekend to be reasonable.
Less this year than last year, but less to fail on.31 December, 2011
On my way to Jacksonville, AL (home of the JSU Gamecocks!), one of the Alabama NPR stations, which, by the way, aren’t synced up like they are in Mississippi, nor have nearly the same continuous coverage, was playing This American Life. The topic this week was on our love affair with cars. Love it or hate it, cars are here, and here to stay. Some of us love them, some of us love to hate them, and the rest of us think nothing about them.
For some, a car is just a means to get from A to B, and no more. It’s a convenience that is taken for granted. Some even think that cars are of no use at all, can be best replaced by public transportation, and if can be eliminated, all the better.
I agree that public transportation can alleviate the energy crisis, traffic, and several other impending doom situations that cars create. If I had a good way to use public transportation to go to work (which might actually happen in the next two years in Starkville), I would use it.
So why do I like the car? A car gives me independence from the need to rely on somebody else or a schedule that is no my own. It gives me the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want. I can take a road trip, go to the market, or just drive around for driving sake. A car is more than transportation. A road trip is more than getting to the destination.
The act of driving a car is thrilling for some, terrifying for others. You’re in control of a beast bigger, more powerful, and faster than you. Like a horse. And like horses, some stay away from them like the plague, and others seek not only every opportunity to be in control of these beasts, but look for the biggest, most powerful, and fastest ones out there.
Continuing with the horse analogy, some people even develop a sort of relationship with their cars. The sort of relationship a trainer develops with their horse. After a while, a person is able to really master a car, get to know its qwerks and how to really make it run the way the person wants it to run.
A road trip is about those hours between your home and destination. It’s about spending time with people you like, don’t like, or yourself. It’s also about taking those long ribbons of pavement we’ve strewn across the country. It’s about seeing those cities between here and Atlanta. It’s about going over the river and through the woods. And the best part of a road trip – no TSA to deal with.
Cars will continue to get better, no doubt. Safety features, smarter cars, easier to drive cars, and cars that use electricity will become more common in the future. I’m excited about this, and for the most part, fully support it. But even as my daily driver gets replaced by these better, faster, smarter, more fuel-efficient things, I will strive to keep a good, old-fashioned gas-powered car in my stable. Nothing feels as good, sounds as good, or looks as good as a powerful engine. Yes, they waste gas. But as the car saved the horse for leisure, the electric car will do the same for the old beasts. While less gas is used on a daily basis, there will be less of a crisis for gasoline as demand for it goes down, and the car will be saved.
As I sit in my hotel room, watching a zombie movie, typing this post out, I am not thinking about the training I have to attend tomorrow. I’m thinking about Sir Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia drive in 1955. I have this imagery of a silver bullet rocketing across the Italian country side, Moss at the wheel and Jenkinson trying to hold on for dear life, navigation notes in hand. The imagery is beautiful to me. That is what motoring, at its purist, is to me.12 October, 2011