No, I don't want an iPhone. But thanks for asking!
So there's this huge buzz around about Twitter, the latest web2.0-esque invention designed to... well, noone can really pinpoint it. It's like iRC for the new set, if you ask me. I can't remember where I first saw it discussed, but I dutifully signed up right away and then did nothing with it until a Discrete Cosine post reminded me of its existence. And now... laurie and dan and I are wondering what the big deal is. Maybe we're just getting old? (Well, me anyway.)
And I'll be perfectly honest: discovering that it was a brainchild of Evan Williams sort of sours it for me. (Here's where I puff out my oldschool chest a bit and brag about being on the cutting edge back before that edge dulled with my advancing years.) I'm oldschool Blogger (May 2000!) back when Meg and the gang were still running things, back before Pyra went down the tubes and Ev made off with the glory (so the story goes). I've therefore kind of got a bad association with the guy, so his direct involvement with this project doesn't make me look all that kindly upon it no matter how cool/revolutionary/whatever it may be. It's unfair, but I suppose in a way I associate him with the corporatization of all those hip funky cool underground things people were doing with the web back in the early 00's.
So... anyway, I still don't get Twitter. But I don't get WoW either, so take that as you will.
On Web2.0 and how it's changing the way the internet works... how we work... how we use the internet... how the.. yeah. Just watch.
I'm putting this entry in the 'gaming' category even though the gaming geeks out there will probably turn up their noses with an audible sniff. That's fine; it's no WoW, but the same addictive qualities apply.
I was inspired to write about The Sims after espying an entry on the UThink RSS feed by the author of the Pensive thoughts of a Rock Star blog; she gives a great overview of the game, but what I've found most intriguing about the game is its latent effects on the psyche of the player. This broaches into suspect territory and I don't profess to have any academic background in gaming psychology, but I do know that after building home after home and outfitting it with the requisite goods desired by my Sim families, it's made me much more interested not only in interior design but architecture as well. And, of course, human nature and interpersonal relationships, but that's probably more voyeuristic than anything else.
It also appeals to the control freak that quietly (or not so quietly) resides within all of us, and I've found that one of the game's major appeals to me personally is its inherent requirement that the player be comfortable multitasking and juggling things about. If Kenny Bugsome isn't taking showers and Pim Bugsome has been skipping school and Lou Bugsome is flirting with Biff Dillweed down the street, and I sit on my laurels and let them free-will their way about, there's going to be strife. The Bugsome household does not cope well with strife. (However, the Newbie household sure seems to!)
The amusing thing is that I often catch myself muttering angrily at them when they don't do something I tell them to do, when their natural clean-freak habits cause them to miss the carpool or ignore a guest at the door. It's a wonderful escape from reality, if you're into that sort of thing, but it's kind of disturbing at the same time because before you know it, three hours have ticked by and you've barely moved an inch from your chair. But boy does the Bugsome house look impressive. I guess until I actually own a house of my own, these SimHomes will have to do.
There's a whole other can of worms called The Sims 2 that I've steered clear of for the time being, satsified as I am at the moment with The Sims Deluxe. Also, expansion packs seem to be the work of the devil himself. In particular, the Sim Pets expansion pack beckons beguilingly to me from the Target shelves everytime I walk past the gaming section, but luckily I think that requires Sims 2. See what a bonus it is to my real life that my main computer's still running W2K on a painfully slow processor with just a smidgen of RAM?
I have to call bullsh** on this one. The demand for wifi is undeniable. Coffee shops, conferences, hotels, training sessions, whatever, wireless is always in demand and when you are trying to connect to it and cannot for whatever reason, well, that's just damned frustrating.
I'd have to say that Scobelizer's comment about cost being the prohibitive factor makes the ONLY sense in this story. Any other rationale they try to wing at you just doesn't fly!
Those who know me or have worked with me in some capacity probably know I am quite an aficionado of flash drives (or keydrives or USB drives or USB keys or whatever permutation of name you prefer). At last count, I think I have 11 of varying capacities, most unique in design and manufacturer as well. With this so-called addiction, however, comes a growing appreciation (or disgust, as the case may be) for the wide swath of flash drive encasement designs available -- and not just the decals or coloration thereof, but the overall unit design.
With that in mind, I ran across this PNY All-Terrain drive that seems to have bridged the divide between good architecture and the all-too-common design mishap of "What to do with the drive cap?" With this particular PNY unit, you remove the cap from the USB plug end and attach it to the keychain nub which is fastened to the other side. That way you don't lose your drive's cap in the absentmindedness of yanking the drive out of the port and running to another meeting or to catch the bus or whatever appointment you're already late for (grammar class, perhaps?).
Ideally, the cap should be an unremovable part of the entire unit, as with the Lexar JumpDrive Expression, the PNY Mini Attache, or the imation Swivel Pro Flash Drive, or even uniquely encasing the unit such as with the SanDisk Cruzer Titanium. Ultimately I think those are better overall designs than the PNY All-Terrain drive simply because even with the unique cap-attachment-nub feature, you can still lose the cap, or perhaps the nub falls off when the chain breaks.
Designs I really don't like include the just-try-to-pry-the-rubberized-encasement-off enclosure as evidenced with the Lexar JumpDrive Sport -- a rubberized encasement you're likely to want to just leave off the unit entirely, as we have often done around the office. One of my latest purchases was the imation USB Clip Flash Drive (in orange, if you must know) and though its design is unique, I find it annoyingly bulky overall and found myself wistfully placing the cap of my silver Lexar drive on the imation drive to see if it fit, as it made for a sleeker product. You could get totally crazy and unfashionable by using the imation Flash Wristband, but I daresay the days of black rubber bracelets being the key to fashion are long past us.
However, I've been pleased with the latest addition to my collection: the SanDisk Cruzer Freedom, a couple of which I nabbed on sale recently. The cap is interestingly designed and almost looks like a t-shirt or something, and I find it handy for a fidgety person such as myself in that I can whip it around my finger like a six-shooter without worry that it will fly off and hit someone.
And being the purist that I am, I picked up a few of the original Lexar JumpDrives in clear and in purple, because for some reason I get a bang out of seeing the workings of my machinery. Again, the caps would be easily misplaced, but I like how there is a nice allotment at the end of the unit for attachment of a ball chain or cording of some sort.
Speaking of which, I also have two Dane Elec flash drives -- both received as gifts, mind you -- whose attachment is flimsy and worthless. One broke not too long after I started using it, and I'm not even that harsh with pulling the drives out of the port... but when the CPU is on the floor and you need to root around on the floor just to plug the flash drive in, you're not necessarily going to be in the mood to be gentle with it when it comes time to remove it. Anyway, I've investigated bead shops and the like for jewelry accoutrements that might be helpful in fashioning some sort of ring upon which I can string a cord once more, but the hole through which I'd have to thread the ring is simply too small to accommodate anything of substance. At least the ring thing is attached to the body of the unit, though, which is more than I can say for my Sony Ultra Mini Micro flash drive, which has the cording attachment attached to the cap. Completely useless, that.
The newest thing on the market is the Memorex FlashDisc, and though I'm a complete nut for a cool flash drive, I don't think I'll be adding one of these to my collection. I had a hard enough time justifying picking up a 32mb flash drive (it was clear! it was purple! it was clear purple!), so there's no way I can properly justify blowing cash on a 16mb drive. Even if it is a very unique and retro design...
Imagine you are a huge software manufacturer and you're looking for a foolproof way to get people to stop using the old versions of your software. Rather than just cut off support for the product, which wouldn't really convince the majority of users to convert to your new version of the software, why not unleash a virus that would threaten to render the users' machines useless unless they convert to the new version of the software? I mean, after all, most virus-creators are never caught anyway, so where's the risk?
The copy for the advisory would write itself: Those using older versions of the software are extremely vulnerable to this new virus, which we cannot issue a patch for because
we essentially wrote it and we want people to get infected it would likely mess up all your other applications to do so and we don't want to waste our programmers' time on something we don't want to fix anyway it is just a more efficient, productive solution for you to upgrade your software. However, if you insist on using this outdated software, there is a temporary port-blocking workaround that will protect you but rest assured new strains of our virus will find ways around this.
I know it's best to upgrade software as much as possible, but when the upgrades start costing around $200, that can get more than a little cost-prohibitive and irritating. And these are the people who said open source software makes systems more vulnerable to attack? Why not try converting your own to open source so maybe you can put out a more solid, reliable product from the get-go instead of issuing patches every month and getting users accustomed to that being an acceptable business practice?
There are some days when the advent of technology is too much to bear and one feels like sinking into the darkened abyss of Luddite-dom, never to emerge to email another day.
This is not one of those days.
I am so continually blown away by how things have evolved and changed during my unwitting 2-year sabbatical from proper tech geekiness. Case in point: Wikipedia, as you all know, is a veritable font of information. It's not the existence of an online encyclopedia that boggles my mind but the collaborative effort behind it. I know that's the foundation of the wiki technology anyway, but after idly perusing some of the discussions and history behind some articles on Wikipedia, the seriousness with which so many attend to this entity is so thrilling as to be emotionally moving.
It seems we're all playing a bit of a racing game, or at least it feels like it to me, trying to stay on top of the newest and best by following RSS feeds, webpage after webpage, blog after blog, doing whatever we can to make sure we're hyperaware of the surroundings around us. I use the example of RSS specifically because in toying around with Bloglines, I find myself checking my feeds to see if there is any news, any snippet of news that I missed... it's okay to keep it for later, but god forbid I miss a news item! And I'm only at 28 feeds right now, so who knows what life would be like if I had twice as many feeds to follow. I told y'all I was new to this RSS junk, having only really gotten into it when I started messing with Bloglines. I hadn't found an aggregator I liked as much before, but now I'm rather hooked.
How do people do it? Do you set aside an hour each day devoted specifically to feed-following, and then another hour devoted specifically to email? How do you get any projects done? I read a fascinating article on this topic in the NYTimes a few months back, and was inspired to add a second monitor to my setup in my office specifically to house my email inbox and calendar. I feel -- perhaps mistakenly -- that it provides for more efficiency so that I'm not constantly alt-tabbing over to email to see who wrote next, but can instead just simply glance, or ignore if necessary.
But I also find myself sending emails to myself at home with reminders of things to do, or things not to forget, and then later often finding that I ignore the emails anyway, considering them slightly naggy of myself. No, I'm not schizophrenic. If I add a PDA to the mix to "help" with such little notes, I think it would only make things worse. I'm tempted to go back to the olden days of writing myself notes on an actual piece of paper and sticking it in my pocket, but I remember what I did with those too -- they get tossed on the counter along with the keys/change/Chapstick once you walk in the house anyway. I tried the PDA route back in grad school, and while it was helpful for keeping track of what readings I had to accomplish, it was also more cumbersome and time-consuming to type all those things in (never did get the hand of the graffiti-entry). Then the battery died and I lost everything anyway.
So I don't know what the solution is right now. Dual monitors help in the workplace... or are they just a crutch to enable us to try to multi-task even more? As an avowed and dedicated multi-tasker, this works well for me, but it might also be making my 'problem' worse. The more projects I have going on at one time, the more productive I feel, but if I get so bogged down in following feeds or checking email or learning technologies, I'll never finish any of the projects. The learning of new technologies in and of itself has been an issue for me (RSS being one, podcasting another), and only serves to heighten the sense of the spinning hamster wheel I find myself on, as I race to catch up with the rest of the world which somehow kept on spinning technologically while I was preoccupied only with Word for writing papers, SPSS for statistics, and ArcView for crime-mapping. How on earth did blogs enter the mainstream when I wasn't looking? Last time I checked, they were a mildly pesky phenomenon for the otherwise journalistically-inclined world. Now they're everywhere. It's utterly astounding how far the world has progressed in the last few years from a technological standpoint, and I am grateful in some way for having been incommunicado with that world for that timespan as I am better able to appreciate the difference, which would be otherwise transparent to the rest of the geeks.
I am completely addicted to two tools this week, having just started to scratch the surface of all that they provide:
(I know I'm late to the del.icio.us game, like reallllllllly late, but better late than never.)
I don't quite know what to say.