Month / January, 2014

Things that bother me right now

I can’t really think of a good idea to write about. So I’m just gonna ramble. Please forgive me, this is likely to be short. Maybe. (Note: this post was originally written on 1/7/2013, so it isn’t necessarily reflective of the day it is posted).
Continue Reading

Social media thoughts

Everyone uses it. Everyone loves it. Everyone needs it. But, I am tired of at least the biggest one.

Facebook

Show of hands, who is has a Facebook account? Nice, that’s a good number. Oh, I see you back there hiding. You might as well move to the front of the class.

Good now that we are all settled in, let’s talk Facebook. It is probably my least favorite website that I visit. There is little about it that I like. Let’s discuss those:

  • no privacy. When I first joined Facebook (back then “the Facebook”) privacy was pretty much all there was. You used to be able to only friend class mates after you confirmed you were in a class at a given university. And also, not all schools were part of Facebook. It was glorious.
  • too much spam. I feel that all I see on my “news feed” is spam. Game requests and links to random joke lists. And the ones I like the least are the check ins. Seriously, I just don’t care about them.
  • too many people. There is a level of “wow, haven’t thought of that person in forever” that is nice to experience. But, really, overall I don’t need or want all of those extra connections. I have so many “friends” on there that I haven’t even spoken to in ever. Seems kind of pointless.
  • too many things to post. The original Facebook did seem a little boring and empty since there were no options to post pictures or news feed. But, now that I look back, it was wonderful. It was the polar opposite of MySpace, and that was awesome. Facebook stalking people was actually a challenge and felt more like being an explorer as opposed to being a, well, stalker.
  • not enough filters. The W and I have commiserated on the missing ability to filter everything. Sure there is the new search function that supposedly lets you build all kinds of awesome searches, but that isn’t what I want. I don’t want to think about the filtering, I want it done automagically. For example, if someone uses a service that posts pictures one at a time (like Instagram) I want Facebook to aggregate those all into one single post. Or to offer filters for me to group political posts into a single news feed item. So that I can then delete them all. Or to allow me to mute any posts that have specific words or links from specific websites. That would be great.

Now, I get the irony of all this — you probably got here from a post I made on Facebook. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t much like Facebook. In the past year my wife and I both have removed the Facebook app from our phones. And it has been great. I don’t check it nearly as often as I used to. In fact, pretty much the only time I go on Facebook is when I get an email saying there is some new notification for me to approve. And there have been days where I have strongly considered deleting my Facebook profile. Dark, I know.

While Facebook isn’t life, it would be a non-trivial decision. That is (sadly) the only way I communicate with some people in my life. So I have to weigh the trade off of losing contact and missing out on some at times big news. So far, my distaste and disdain for Facebook hasn’t reached that level, but I have withdrawn from it quite a bit.

Twitter

I actually like twitter. Or more accurately I like the news service generally referred to as twitter.

As twitter stands now, the privacy settings are strong enough while also flexible. I feel I accurately control who sees what and can prevent people I don’t want from getting to my content.

Also, I am really in control of what appears in my feed. That is a wonderful feature. I only see tweets from the accounts I care about. By doing so I have effectively reduced my follows to friends and coworkers, and tech blogs. There are a couple celebrities I follow, but for the most part, every tweet is one I am interested in reading.

EXCEPT the ads. They are terrible. The are never correctly targeted towards me. And worst of all, the primary way I consume twitter — the official app — no longer provides the option of dismissing the ads. Which really blows because that was a wonderful feature.

What is your favorite and most loathed social media outlet and feature? Hit up the comments to fill me in!

reactions to a startup weekend

Ever had a really good business idea? Did you come up with it in your own or was it suggested to you? How was it discovered (either way)? In the end, what have you done about it?

There is a sort of entrepreneurial rennesiance happening all around us. It is happening in most every major metropolitan area and in every industry. Every day people are changing the way everyone else works and plays. One of the leading drivers of this movement is the Startup Weekend (SUW) events.

SUW promotes itself as the place to meet others with the same exciting and clever business bent as yourself and make a mad dash for a successful business. In 54 hours. And it is a competition. Does it work and is it really for you?

I’ve been to two SUWs, and though I won’t claim exhaustive knowledge, I do feel I can help enlighten my readers on these two questions.

Continue Reading

Midproject Crisis

So I’ve been on only two projects the whole time at my new job. Which is pretty much par for the course with the size of work we do. However, in that time I feel like I have dramatically improved my skill set (iOS just tried to correct that to skillet because I forgot a space 🙂 ). Knowing and feeling that are wonderful at a job — truly getting better at what you do.

Continue Reading

Movie review: Elysium

So, on the same night my wife and I watched Behind the Candelabra we also watched Elysium. Kind of a Matt Damon night. Could have done much worse, like a Keanu Reeves night (excluding The Matrix and Speed of course).

I hadn’t really heard much about this movie before seeing it other than watching the preview on the Redbox website. I like scifi and think Damon and Foster ply their trade well, therefore I was on board. Convincing my wife took less effort than I expected (thank you Mr. Damon).

One word for this movie review: Halo. Neill Blomkamp, the director and screenwriter also directed District 9 and both are clearly linked in two ways.

The first is the heavy handed approach to the topic of class inequality and segregation. Both are obviously great topics for movie content and close to someone from South Africa. I could do with a little more subtlety to the handling, but hey, he got the movies made and both are entertaining.

The second link is the fact both movies draw HEAVILY on the preproduction work done on a now canceled Halo movie. Why is this? Well likely because Blomkamp was slated to direct that almost guaranteed money printer. But it was canceled and lots of work was likely shelved. Now though, he has had the opportunity to use pretty much everything from that movie. In District 9 he was able to repurpose weapons and some character design along with a few vehicles. In Elysium the big guns really came out — he actually made a movie with a ring based satellite with life on it. Frankly, it is so blatant I am surprised there weren’t law suits over the design. Though maybe you can’t trademark or copyright the concept of a ring world. And the Pelican ship made another appearance. And most importantly we got some glimpses at how he might have approached large set pieces with super humans fighting aliens (in this case it was augmented Damon fighting a humanoid robot). I even at one point looked over at my wife and mentioned how the action scene looked and felt like it came straight out of a video game.

The story was a little thin though. Like I mentioned previously, it is very heavy handed with its treatment of the subject matter. That does hammer the point home at least. Though there are some serious holes in it. Like, really, you are going to shut down an entire space based ring world that doesn’t seem to have any separation between itself and space for a mainframe reboot? Or that the company that built the ring world is now almost out of money? Ever heard of rent? Or that they still have the keys to castle and can rebooting the thing will make everything right? All of this is easy enough to forgive though with the acting, visuals, and set pieces.

Movie review: Behind the Candelabra

A few nights ago, the wife and I decided to do a movie night. As in pretty much the whole night was devoted to watching movies. And an episode of Dexter, because Netflix. One of the movies (out of two total) was Behind the Candelabra and the following are my musings on it.

One thing I kept saying during the movie was: creepy. So much of the movie gives off the creepy vibe. And I believe that was intentional. Michael Douglas plays his part amazingly well. Granted I never met the real Liberace, but I imagine it was a pretty spot on performance. From the way he delivered his lines to the mannerisms, it was creepy. And great.

Then of course there was Matt Damon. Quite a performance. He hit the “star struck out of my league” bit on the head. It was easy to believe his portrayal of Scott and understand the point of view of that character.

One of my least favorite parts was Dan Akroyd’s character because Dan Akroyd needs more screen time. Especially with that awesome hair piece. Oh, and also the way the movie skips years. I get that you gotta make the cuts somewhere, but I’ve never really liked the heavy handed approach of a black screen who a date on it. Oh well, small price to pay. Also, the script seemed to really gloss over the toll the separation takes on Scott in the finally 20 minutes.

Overall, Behind the Candelabra is a movie well worth watching. The acting is spot on, the sets and costumes beautiful, score fantastic, and the cars sweet (as little of them as there is). It definitely deserved the awards it received.