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WEB, GEEK, FRIENDS (permalink) 04.07.2010
6 friends, 15 enemies, and 23 haters.
i need to make a clarification about yesterday's post. while i did receive an email about it, the email i received was sent from facebook because grammar-dave posted the message on something called "my wall". i'm not entirely certain what my wall is. i've been told by more than one person that if i'm going to have a wall, i should at least know what it is. i told them that having or not having a wall was never a choice i was asked to make and it was only emails like this one that even made me aware of my wall-ownership.

and speaking of facebook, i bet you cash-money i can summarize my facebook thoughts and experiences in seven sentences or less:
  1. in april of 2006 i created a facebook account after i was hired by a university because i was told that everyone at the university had a one and it was the proper thing to do.
  2. in 2008 i used my facebook account for the first time to look up 40 students i was teaching and then told them in class there were five of them i wouldn't hire for a job based solely upon what i found on their facebook pages.
  3. i've never seen more blood leave more faces more quickly, like ever.
  4. i log onto face book every three to four months and accept every friend request that has been made of me whether i know the person or not.
  5. when asked by someone why i friended everyone, i said because it just didn't matter enough not to.
  6. a female student at my school had a job with facebook where she received the questionable material reports and had to make decisions about if the material was questionable enough to be stricken from the record.
  7. it's very possible the questionable material job is the only job i might enjoy more than the job i presently have.
  8. the last time i looked in on my page a woman i know asked a question about my photo contest and when i didn't answer after a few weeks, another friend, who knew me but not the woman, answered the question for me after saying he was pretty sure i never looked at the page.
  9. when i saw that that exchange had occurred, i experienced my first ever warm feeling towards facebook.
ok. so i couldn't swing it in less than seven sentences. de-friend me. and if you're wondering what this might have looked like for myspace, i'm reasonably confident i could have wrapped that up in one sentence.

COMPUTER, GEEK (permalink) 04.02.2010
under-respected & under-appreciated no more!
my childhood home's first computer was one called a TRS-80. i was twelve or thirteen at the time. of the early home PCs this one made by radio shack was one of the lesser coveted models, but for someone who thought the nascent computer revolution would pass him by completely, i was seven kinds of thrilled to be part of the history. little did i know how much this foreword thinking purchase on my parents part would affect me then (and for unpredictable decades to come). much of my understanding of logic and process stemmed from the early poking and hacking and noodling i did on this unheralded footnote in the early PC landscape.

the computer, and the television it was connected to, sat on an old wooden card table in my home's basement. my dad expressed little curiosity in the contraption as he passed my hunched over frame while he moved to and from the garage. one time something on the screen stopped him. after a few minutes, he asked what i was doing. i told him playing a game. he asked what the point of the game was. i said to eat all of the dots without running into a bad guy. he asked if he could try. i said sure. i stood and he took the seat. i remember him looking uneasy and out of place at the helm of something that was so connected to me and so not connected to him. i handed him the joystick and showed him how to start a new game by pressing the space bar. his first-ever gaming experience lasted less than a minute. instead of handing the controller back to me for my turn, he reached forward and pressed the space bar starting another game. he died again in short order. this time he turned to me and commented how it wasn't as easy as it looked. i nodded in understanding. space bar again. death again. spacebar. death. spacebar. death. he became so rapt on the objective he didn't even notice when i walked away.

my mom spotted me upstairs looking sullen. she asked what was wrong. i said nothing. she asked why i wasn't on the computer (it was still new enough that it was pretty much all i had done for weeks). i told her dad was using it. surprised she asked if she heard me right. i told her she had. i went to my room and read a book.

the next time i sat down at the computer, on a tablet of paper was written a number with an emphatic underline beneath it. it was in my father's handwriting and it took me a moment to realize it was a score, his high score, to the game. it was also higher than my highest score to date. i was duly impressed. i fired up the game and sat down convicted to best my father's mark. when i did, i enjoyably scratched his number out and wrote mine below it. several nights later when i sat down, i saw that my number was scratched out and replaced with one of his. and like that my father and i for several months engaged in a wordless form of togetherness that to this day stands as one of my warmer, more special childhood memories.

i was at a lunch the other day when the topic of early computer experiences came up. it made me remember the above story. i pulled my pen from my shirt pocket and wrote the words MEGA-BUG on my hand. later that night i set out in search of the game and as usual the interwebs delivered. should you like to experience the game that brought a young awkward boy and an old-school father closer, i invite you to do so. it also doesn't hurt that to this day i consider this to be one of the most quaint and thoughtful computer games ever devised.

to play:
  1. go to this link (link will open in new window so you don't loose the instructions).
  2. if prompted to trust the site, trust the site.
  3. click the SETUP button.
  4. click the MEGABUG button from the list (12th one down).
  5. after returning to the green screen type CLOADM and hit enter.
  6. wait a minute or so while the game loads.
  7. when given an OK prompt, type EXEC and hit enter.
  8. as the story says, press the space bar to play.
  9. use the arrow keys to move.
  10. as in the real world, you only get one life, so make it count.

i challenge you to clear a board in less than 100 attempts. surviving more than a minute is even a bit of a feat. if you clear two boards, both my father and i bow to you in great homage and respect.

GEEK, FRIENDS, COMPUTER, QUOTES (permalink) 01.29.2010
there's a large contingent of folks who have me pegged as this apple zealot when in actuality among my circle of folks there are many more ravenous mac consumers than myself. fact is, i'm probably one of the most technology skeptical people around, although given my profession, it is a detail about myself i'm reasonable good at chesting. but this skepticism, ironically, also makes me reasonably good at what i do.

still, every time apple releases a new morsel, all sorts of folks i've known come out of the woodwork to pick fights, debate nuances, compare thoughts, and consider implications. this is a role i typically don't mind, even enjoy to a degree, but for some reason this last round about the iPad got me gassy by day's end. i think my angst comes from the fact that many people act like we've been wallowing in our own urine for centuries waiting for such groundbreaking technologies so we as a people can advance to some higher plane when in fact this iPad device and others like it will actually do much to undermine the act and art of reading.

my cumulative sentiment can probably be satisfactorily gleaned through this email excerpt from an exchange i had with bookguy yesterday (and in the name of full disclosure, i contacted him given a surprising post made on his web site)

our office was immensely non-plussed by the announcement. for andrew to not be first in line for a new apple technology is wholly unprecedented and says quite a lot about the offering.

i find it to be a totally uninspired and non-compelling bauble. but i also feel it is an absolutely necessary step to get these eReaders and tablet devices to a place where like technologies need to be. you could liken it to the mac cube which was commercially a flop but instrumental to subsequent innovations.

the kindle is a way more thoughtful and practical eReader device, and even it is still not where it needs to be and has many game-ending shortcomings. the touted 10 hours of battery on the iPad is laughable. first off, you probably only get that 10 hours if you have all functions and features turned off, the screen dimmed out and are just looking at it. if you're actually using it (with its features in play) i reckon you get less than half that advertised duration and this in something designed to be a mobile/portable object.

and people talk about it being smaller and a more compact technology solution. this would be true if you could dump all of your other machines and devices but you can't and since you can't you're actually broadening your tech footprint and adding exponential complexity to your tech dependencies and cost.

for that same money you could fund a close friend to travel to your city, play a round or two of tennis, and treat him to a fine steak dinner which i feel would, in the end, be a more enriching and satisfying use of your finances. especially when that friend is me.

why i haven't been invited to do technology reviews for numerous publications yet is well beyond me.

GEEK, HOW-TO, COMPUTER, QUOTES (permalink) 01.28.2010
i was kicked off AOL 32 hours after opening the account
when my boss interviews technology people, there is a question he likes to ask towards the end of an interview. if the conversation is going well and he's liking the candidate, he will ask them, "what is the most fun you've ever had with a computer?" then after a pregnant pause and gauging their initial reaction to the question, he adds, "that you can talk about in a job interview."

one of my personal hobbies is collecting thoughtful thoughts. i don't care what the focus or the nature of the thought is, only that it was born out of thoughtfulness. this interview question is one of my collection favorites.

GEEK (permalink) 04.10.2009
riddle me this
you're in a room with two doors. if you walk through one, you'll die. if you walk through the other, you'll live. there's a man in front of each. one of them always lies. one of them always tells the truth.

you can ask one question.

what question can you ask to figure out which is the safe door to walk through?

i.e. what color is your shirt would work to figure out which one is honest if you could ask two questions. but since you can only ask one, you need a question that is more encompassing/revealing.

and, don't bother asking me for the answer. i don't know the answer. this morsel dances into my head for a few minutes every few months to tantalize the workers in my brain. while it's there they all lean on their shovels and push back from their desks and look at the show until they get headaches. then they resume the ditch-digging and paperwork causing it to leave the room. now i pass it on so your brain's workers can be occasionally distracted (and annoyed) too. no need to thank me. i can see it in your eyes.

GEEK (permalink) 12.16.2008
i'm wearing boxers and a half-shirt. what are you wearing?
no the nipples are there and they look fine.

these are the scintillating words i got to say to a strange woman last night. over the phone. while sitting alone in my office. why i got to talk nipples with a lady i've never met is because earlier in the day anthony pulled the spacebar off my laptop's keyboard. that would be my $3,000 laptop's keyboard. most of anthony's life is about nipples so i don't know where he finds the time to break my shit. and while initially i get to say naughty words to some raspy-voiced christmas help at the apple store, i'll next have to say those same naughty words to some pale and skinny apple fanboy at the genius bar when i take my computer in for repair. why couldn't he have taken the shift key? i never use that one.

GEEK (permalink) 12.10.2008
attention all newlyweds and geeks
the advice i give to young technologists who work with me.

there are two things you never want to be exciting: your marriage and your technology. if either of those ever get exciting, bad times are ahead.

GEEK (permalink) 07.24.2008
some geekanese for those fluent

this phenomenally witty and entertaining short video about a font conference where the font's are personified is gold. this runs the risk of only being interesting to people who deal in design and formatting, but for those who do it's a must see.

WEB, GEEK, TELEVISION, FILM (permalink) 03.14.2008
the juice
sunday the everyman had 324 visitors. thanks to a link from a site called stumbleupon, monday saw a slight increase in interest to over 7,000 daily visitors.

and speaking of the power of the web, check this site out which went public wednesday.

this was one of my more entertaining finds so far:

and in the event you also live in a home without cable or television and haven't yet discovered this, it's brought many laughs to my house:

GEEK (permalink) 03.07.2008
and then there were three; titantic, walgreens and circumcision

it's official. as of 12:20pm CST yesterday, i'm on the grid. one with mankind. connected. i now have a cellphone. well, that's not entirely right. it would be more accurate to say i now have the cellphone.

the first time i saw the iPhone i remember sitting back in my chair and thinking how i really wanted one. and, this is not to say i wanted a cellphone, what i wanted was an iPhone. and the art of selling something to someone who doesn't even want the core function of what you are selling is by my estimation an impressive piece of salesmanship. and like all apple technology, it only gets more and more impressive as you touch it, feel it, and use it. i'm certain the apple-effect is compounded by the fact that most other products in the marketplace suffer from an inverse reaction. that is, they suck. and they do so massively. typical devices look great on tv, in print, and via concept but when you touch it, feel it, and use it, they just plain suck the pipe. and seem to do so more with each day of use.

case in point. a few years ago i saw a superbowl ad for something called the motorolla pebble (although i don't think that's how they spelled it). in the commercial this thing looked spectacular. it looked most like a polished and shaped orb of marble, naturally forged in the bowels of the earth. days later i stepped into a store asked to see one and the salesman went to a display cabinet and then handed me a piece of molded plastic that had the same heft and substance of a common corded mouse. i corrected the gentleman saying i wanted to the see the phone that was advertised during the superbowl. he said that was it. wordlessly i handed it back to him and left the store. after several hours of poking and prodding the iPhone, i've yet to reach the bottom of the enchantment well. you can so easily tell the difference between people who do what they do because they are passionate about it and people who do what they do because they want to turn a profit.

and for as much as i've been dying to be able to say to people 'hit me on my burner', you probably have an equal chance at scoring jessica simpson's digits (or rob lowe for the ladies) as you do mine.

GEEK (permalink) 11.13.2007
get a room
i received a shiny new apple laptop today so am slightly distracted. you should feel fortunate i looked away from it long enough to type even this paltry note.

for those who aren't part of the apple nation, this may help expose some of the zealotry. years back a friend, who i'll politely keep anonymous, likened his first experience opening an apple product to that of undressing a beautiful woman.

while i never voiced it so, i knew exactly what he meant. and few would argue that their offerings don't become all the more fetching every year. it's quite ridiculous really.

GEEK (permalink) 06.13.2007
you gotta fight through the pain, searing as it may be
i stay up quite late. i do this most nights, going to bed between one and three in the morning. it is in these wee hours i get all sorts of stuff done; writing for this site, other web work, my macrame and latch-hook pieces, reading, etc, etc and etc. when people learn about my nocturnal routine, some try to convert me to being a morning guy (what they inevitably are). they argue that sleeping first allows you to approach things with a rested and crisp mind. to that i say it's obvious they've never seen me first thing in the morning. this also raises the point that i don't think this is something you choose, it is simply something your are or are not. i've always been this way and would wager they have always leaned their way.

secondly i would say that the greatest perk of working through the night hours is that you get to stop playing when you're ready or physically required to (the chiming noise a depressed key ultimately makes when your face is flat against a keyboard was designed specifically for me). in the morning your production is stalled not because you are necessarily done but because you have to take the kids to school or yourself to work. for me there isn't anything restful about racing to beat an early-morning clock (because the clock always wins). and i can't think of a suckier way to start each day than loosing to that never-ceasing ticking sound each and every morning. how demoralizing.

so put that in your morning cup of joe, joe.

GEEK (permalink) 06.15.2006
please don't touch the exhibit
it's been more than ten years since i've had better hardware at work than at home. since i invested heavily in apple some five years ago, many who see my home workspace, which is cozily nestled into a french-doored closet, remark at what a neat set-up it is. i humbly agree.

there are few people who walk into my new work office and see the equipment on my desk without gasping "HOLY DAMN!". the only other office you hear such reverent exclamations out of belongs to my boss. i hope to share photos of my new saliva-inducing work digs but i still have a couple upgrades en route and want to hold off until i can flash you with the full monty.

and before you get too down on me for bragging so, also know that i've worked until 5am more nights in the last month than i have in the last five years. and no, it's simply not because the hardware is so sexy. i'm too old for those sorts of juvenile affairs.

GEEK (permalink) 02.17.2006
at our shop we call it being in the barrel
i'm thankful to work in an industry that does not include the following phrases.
  • second shift
  • third shift
  • or night shift
i'm unthankful that the advent of the pager is what made the removal of those terms possible.

PERSONAL, GEEK (permalink) 01.28.2005
it's just poorly applied rouge
i had a meeting with some potential web customers last night. wanting to appear deceptively alert, i took a quick power nap before rushing out the door to meet them. upon getting home marty asked me why i had marker all over the side of my face. further inspection found that alex scrawled his first red-permanent marker mural on the right half of my head while i was dozing. on the good side, the kid shows promise. on the better side, even with my face all marked up, i got the gig. i'm thankful to be in an industry where the talent is expected to be more on the bent side than not.

WEB, COMPUTER, GEEK, HOW-TO (permalink) 09.21.2004
securing your windows machine is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... 37, 38
i read the following over on kottke. i wanted to share it with people at work but given our company's policy against allowing us to access any sites of interest, kottke's a no-go. and since my site has surprisingly eluded their 'things people might like to read' index, i thought i'd share it up on my own unnoticed web site.

for those of us relegated to use the wonderfully porous windoze environment, what follows is a list of steps to help protect you from them.

8 steps to better windows security
  1. Run Windows Update regularly.

  2. Install ZoneAlarm (Firewall)

  3. Buy and install NOD32 (Anti-Virus)

  4. Install WinPatrol (Anti-Hijack)

  5. Buy and install AdMuncher (Ad and Popup Blocker)

  6. Install and run AdAware (Anti-Spyware)

  7. Replace Internet Explorer and Outlook Express with Firefox & Thunderbird

  8. Disable Autorun.

i haven't tried this yet, but am planning to in the very near future. and i also thank the guy who took the time to put this invaluable list together. anyone who makes me work less is top notch in my world.

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