I’m gonna try Medium For A Bit

You reading this? Ok – I haven’t updated in a while, but sometimes I think I should.

You know, maintaining an entire website for a seldom updated blog these days isn’t so fun. This is the site that got me dipping my toes into websites…back so long ago – maybe 10 years ago. Back when there were such things as iPod Minis. It’s how I learned how to set up a hosting account, install plugins, and break things. My friends would email me saying “Hey, I saw that thing you wrote.” They don’t need to do that so much anymore because there are better ways.

And are there better writing tools now? This is what I thought of while reading this piece about Signal Vs. Noise moving to Medium. Why should we maintaing our own system when others do it fine and oftentimes better?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. Should I maintain this science project or “sunset” it? Sunset is a word that people and companies use when they don’t want to say “shoot it in the back of the head while telling it about bunnies because it’s outlived its usefulness and might be causing us more problems and distractions than it’s worth.” Instead, they say sunset because, hey, who doesn’t like a good sunset, sitting on a hill, while looking over the horizon on the ocean?

Medium supposedly makes it easy to write and maintain content, so I started a profile there. I have nothing there yet besides something I’ve already posted here. I do like the idea of not having to maintain a site. I like the idea of my stuff getting discovered better. I dislike the idea of a site shutting down and having to export all my stuff.

But I also thing, so what? Is the stuff here really that great that it must be preserved for all eternity?

Maybe some of it. Most of it no.

That’s what’s weird about Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. It gives me an opportunity every morning to look at something I said a year or more ago…and delete it.

If I had the same thing here I’d probably delete a lot of stuff.

Anyway, I’m going to try Medium for a little bit. I won’t have a regular posting schedule, but I do want to see how it goes the next time I have an idea for a post.

Give up and use the first-party Twitter App

I did, or at least am trying to. You have to get over some weird bugs (like seemingly random per-user notifications), but afterwards you may come to like it.

I’ve been a Twitterrific user for years on Mac and iOS, but the writing is on the wall. All the newest features like multiple photos, cards, photo tagging, archive search, and per-user notifications are all only on Twitter’s apps.

You know exactly what’s going on: they want to shut down all traditional apps that aren’t their own. Rather than reeling them in they’re going to restrict new features on their own apps until everybody switches.

And frankly, I feel like using Twitter’s own apps reveals the true Twitter, whatever that is. It’s like surfing the web without ad-blocker. It’s the true web, even if it is ad-ridden (although, I haven’t found the ads to be that bad).

There are only a couple of features I miss from Twitterrific: dark/night mode and timeline syncing between devices. Third party apps don’t give you animated gifs (which are actually video files on twitter’s servers), they don’t give you activities…they can’t. There’s no public API for it. But once new features outweigh what you like in your current client, you may never open a third-party client again.

Further reading: Twitter California Knife

When The Earth Stopped Moving and the Sun Wouldn’t Rise

One summer as a teenager, I think when I was 13, my brother and I went to a summer camp for a week. It was our first time away away from home without our parents for longer than a few days. We slept in a cabin in bunk beds nearby other kids we just met. There were public bathrooms. You’d have to wait in line for showers. You’d have to wait in line for showers at 7 in the morning. That sort of thing.

As a kid who spent his summers playing Nintendo, I hated the first couple of days.

One morning the camp counselors woke us all up – a siren blared on the campgrounds. It was still dark. We were told to meet by the flagpole on the grounds for an important announcement, where we were told by counselors that overnight the planet had stopped moving and the sun wouldn’t rise.

Top scientists were working on understanding what had happened. Although it felt like it was about 3 in the morning, clocks were set to our usual wake-up time of 7 AM. We were told we would start the day as we normally would. We all got ready for the day, went to the camp mess hall for breakfast, and did our standard morning activities and games outside in the dark.

Hours later we were told that scientists had discovered that nothing alarming had occurred, that they had figured everything out, but we were to all go back to sleep and get back in sync with the rotation of the Earth. We were all sent back to our bunks and slept for a few hours.

That summer I looked at that morning as some fun silliness that camp counselors had concocted to mess with kids. Then, years later, somebody had asked if I had ever seen an albino – someone with a pigmentation problem.

I have – there was one at that summer camp. I remember the feeling of seeing something like this for the first time, his skin bright white, hair bright blond. This kid had to be careful of sunlight – he had an umbrella, he hung out by the trees. Why his parents sent him to a summer camp I’ll never understand. Maybe for him to learn some social skills.

But then it hit me – maybe the Earth stopped moving and the sun didn’t shine for just a few hours so he could have some kind of normalcy and play kick the can.

Why Are The X-Men Outcasts?

Every super hero with a super ability is welcomed into society. Mankind sees Superman’s abilities as a force for good in the world. Batman was a little scary before the people of Gotham understood him, but he is the protector of the city.

But, in the X-Men world, mutants are treated as second-class citizens, despite their super abilities.

Why?

Is it because X-Men have free will? Superman often saves Metropolis because it’s his duty. Batman protects Gotham because he wants to save it from the kinds of criminals that murdered his parents.

Do X-Men have any duty?

X-Men are often compared to minority groups as though X-Men are outcast because they’re minorities. The bigotry held against them is what unites them. But X-Men have clearly superior abilities compared to normal humans – abilities that could be used for good.

The conflict between mutants and normal humans is often compared to real-world conflicts experienced by minority groups in America such as African Americans, Jews, atheists, Communists, the LGBT community, etc. It has been remarked that attitudes towards mutants do not make sense in the context of the Marvel Universe, since non-mutants with similar powers are rarely regarded with fear.1

Are we really to believe that X-Men are not accepted by humanity simply because they’re mutants? Humanity wouldn’t put aside any bigotry once it saw the benefit of mutant powers, similar to the way they highly regard Superman and Batman’s powers?

Which world is more realistic, the world of Batman and Superman, or the world of X-Men?

Finally, A Razor With Balls

NYMag states that Gillette’s new ProGlide Flex Ball razor is “everything wrong with American Innovation.”

A new razor is now a testament to the state of American manufacturing and business. The article leads you to believe that people are going to be willfully swindled into buying it – that we solved the shaving problem decades ago.

I’m not so sure. Between electric razors, r/wicked_edge,1 and razors with balls, there are still people out there doing everything “right” and dealing with irritation from shaving.

Sure, Gillette is cashing in on a market still looking for a solution to their problems short of laser hair removal, but I thought that’s what the point of innovation was anyway. People are asking where the flying cars are – like it’s going to be less expensive and get us where we need to go any faster.


  1. r/wicked_edge has its own feeling of commercialism – people selling books on how to shave (which I bought, read, and still had isuses), people recommending razor packs to sample, creams and lotions to put on your face…yet people still have problems, cuts, and irritated necks. This is not a solved problem and there are plenty of threads (warm water didn’t work? I guess try cold water) and product recommendations to prove it. 

“Incarceration Society”

Related to the post about the Upstate NY tourism economy: North Country Public Radio has recently reported on how prison closings will affect communities upstate.

It’s a messy conflict. State government wants nothing that could look like a for-profit prison industry and incarceration society, but people in rural communities have depended on those opportunities to support themselves and their families. For those that don’t depend on those jobs, the phrase Nimby comes to mind.

“Why I Love Spotify and Think You Should Too”

Why I Love Spotify and Think You Should Too | Pansentient League

“Well, there’s a lot of misconceptions and rumours about Spotify,” I started. “And most folk like us, who grew up with vinyl, don’t seem to ‘get’ it. It’s a harder sell if you’re used to owning music instead of renting it.”

Rusty looked at me quizzically.

“But what do you write about?” he asked. “Why do you think Spotify is so great?”

So this is what I told him:

The writing for the music download market is on the wall. Articles like this by Jer White make me think of jumping in head first to Spotify and getting started now.

In the past few months Spotify added the collection model, which helps if you’re like me and are against the idea of having a playlist for everything. Where Spotify falls short for me is in the organization of a collection. I like having smart playlists and viewing things by genre. Spotify would rather you give that all up and just let them take care of it through their radio and playlist/mixtape curation.

Sometimes I wonder maybe that is a better model so I can stop maintaining tags and playlists and start listening to music.

The other rub is that if you have music from independent services, like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, how does that fit into the streaming model? It can’t, not unless you’re allowed to add it to your own collection and treat it as if it’s part of the music service. The closest anybody has gotten to that is iTunes Match and Google Music (but, imo, if your desktop app is a web app, you blew it).

Until that’s resolved my use of Spotify will be a free account I use for first listens.

It’s not lost on me that a lot of what keeps me using iTunes is that I have a lot of care and energy into my current library. However, if I were 11 years old and didn’t have the baggage of a collection I’ve built for over 20 years, I’d probably be ok with streaming music.

Soundcloud doesn’t play well with others

The creators of Soundflake, a third-party Soundcloud app, write about the demise of their Soundcloud app at the hands of Soundcloud.

I’m starting to wonder how SoundCloud defines “best interest”? We wanted their service to be simple, beautiful and easy to use, we did everything to be in compliance with their TOS and we were willing to give it away for free— if that isn’t in the “best interest” for SoundCloud and their users, then I don’t know just what the fuck “best interest” means.

The only thing good out of this is that there’s hope that Soundcloud has a better player coming out.

Soundcloud has the richest community of music fans and music creators, but I’ve never been a fan of the web and iOS apps. You can’t listen to anything offline. You can’t huffduff anything from Soundcloud without downloading it and hosting it yourself. You can’t get an RSS feed out of it.

That’s really my main problem with Soundcloud. I have to constantly check their site and apps for anything new. The model for the past 10 years from RSS readers and podcasts has been that new content comes to YOU, not the other way around. It feels like Soundcloud has been trying to reverse that in order to get people going to their site – which is strange if true, because they make money by selling services to publishers, not listeners.

Soundcloud is making this big push to overtake podcasting, but that means changing the definition of podcasting from “you automatically get audio when there’s something new” to “go to our site and live on our site and listen to stuff with our players that aren’t as good as even Apple’s podcast app that everyone seems to hate.”

To their credit, publishers love Soundcloud for its ease of use. They upload an audio file and the hard part is done. Soundcloud even tracks unique downloads for them across web and RSS downloads, if they’ve set it up.1 But in its current state, Soundcloud isn’t for podcasting. It’s for making audio widgets that everybody can use.2

The ironic thing is Soundcloud COULD be the dominant platform for audio on the web. They have an advantage over Libsyn with the widgets and audio tracking, but publishers also need listeners. Widgets work ok for audio that’s 3 minutes long. But for an hour-long podcast? I don’t think it’s the right model.


  1. One of my friends claims he’s submitted a request to Soundcloud to get in on the experimental podcasting features that Soundcloud has been running for a few years. He says he didn’t hear anything back. If you search the internet a bit the advice is “try again.” 

  2. I’m of the belief that, despite all the advances in web technology, web browsers are still crappy media players. They don’t accept feedback from media keys. They don’t save your playback position. They don’t have (good) keyboard shortcuts. 

iOS’s Storage Problem

This article is helpful and will hopefully at some point be unnecessary.

The problem, fellow nerds and geeks, is that we already know all this stuff. But the people in my family with tons of photos and videos on their phones don’t, and you can’t really explain it to them.

They don’t use iTunes – they synced music they like one time years ago (probably from someone else’s library) and then go to Pandora (but the idea of deleting all that music they never listen to? You may as well suggest they eat their kids if they’re starving.) iTunes Match? I love it. They have no idea what it is. And for $25 a year they’ll just stick with Pandora.1

Offload the camera roll? Where to? Some computer running Windows Vista that they never turn on anymore?

I use iPhoto and still think it’s weird that even though I have Photo Stream enabled I need to manage and delete duplicate photos on my camera roll.

Delete iMessages? They don’t even know what an iMessage is. They don’t have to delete messages from any of the other messaging apps they use.

I consider myself a pretty savvy Mac and iOS user and after seven generations some of this stuff still feels wonky. I know how to work around it…they don’t.

I’m surprised at the adoption rates Apple touts in their keynotes. Getting people in my family, non techies, to update their apps and iOS software is like pulling teeth…because it is. Delete all these memories and moments from my life for some bug fixes? Never. Besides, they like having this stuff on their phones so they can look at them.


  1. And why still use Pandora after iTunes Radio? Because they don’t understand iTunes Radio. They understand Pandora’s thumbs-up and thumbs-down model. 

Campus Politics and Free Speech

There’s been a lot of press about commencement speakers facing protests. This Washington Post article about International Money Fund’s Christine Lagard is one of the latest examples.

This passage explains why it won’t get better any time soon.

“I have been surprised at the number of recent bailouts by speakers themselves instead of standing their ground,” said Cary Nelson, a professor of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and former president of the American Association of University Professors. “When a speaker backs out, it does somewhat compromise academic freedom.”

Why stand their ground? It’s clear that they’re not wanted. Why go through all this bullshit?

There was a time when Bill Maher was on Dennis Miller’s HBO show and they talked about this same thing:

[3:08]

Maher: You were mentioning the college campus situation. You’re totally right. I guarantee you there is less free speech at Berklee than there is in the Whitehouse…I play colleges, I don’t know if you do—
Miller: Yeah, they’re very close-minded. I don’t even like playing them anymore. Kids are just such pains in the ass nowadays.
Maher: Well, they’re pampered little pricks – is the problem. Not only do they not get half of what we’re saying, but they think it’s our fault…if you take an issue that is controversial – to support affirmative action or not support it is controversial, but on many campuses…they say “if that’s your opinion you can’t be heard” — who did not slap these little assholes when they were young? And who are these irresponsible, despicable professors, and the people who run this campus, who let this go on, and, as you say, the place where ideas should be MOST alive, not most shunted down?
Miller: …there are a lot of things in this country that are never gonna get solved now, because you can’t even get near it without all the alarms going off.

That was over 10 years ago.

To invite a speaker, and they accept your invitation, and then then they decline it after they see the reaction from your campus…it’s not the speaker compromising academic freedom. It’s the campus students and faculty not being open to hear a different point of view and wanting to live in their worldview.

Of course – there are some special cases…like when the Ultimate Warrior did those conservative speaking tours.

Identity Through Links

The Shallow Selfishness of Social Media Sharing:

Maybe you and everyone in your social network or Twitter feed are engaged in a deep and enriching exchange of ideas. But collectively the dissemination of information through social media fuels what is really only an illusion of that process — a solipsistic and ultimately unedifying one.

That’s because at bottom, social sharing of information is often not actually about sharing information. It’s about the sharer letting everyone know that they are knowledgeable or right-thinking or caring.

I feel guilty of this all the time. What do I get out of posting things on social networks other than trying to show people how smart I am?

This is an area where I think friendships vs interests come into play. I may not be friends with people who (still) read this site, but we share the same interests – otherwise they wouldn’t keep reading. But if I post things on Facebook I accomplish almost nothing – in fact people get annoyed when others post too much in “their” news feed.

I’ve also felt this way, often unfollowing friends who post nothing other than political garbage or links to things I may find low-value or distasteful. And forget about offering an opposing view on the links they share. You’re asking for an argument. Whoever posted it will feel like it’s an attack on their world views and it will strain the friendship, if it can even be considered a friendship.

I LOVE getting into arguments with friends. It’s sometimes the most lively and enlightening thing that can happen, but for that to happen you need friends to see it as a debate of ideas, not of us vs them.

Journalism’s Freemium Model

Reading this article about anonymous sources creating lazy, unreliable journalism makes me think a lot of the freemium business models everybody creating content is struggling with.

When the source of income is based upon ad impressions and page views, journalism is reliant upon being a breaking story – getting it first before getting it right. As much as we can say we dislike that model, it’s functional. Even with ‘low-value’ stories – I’ve fallen victim to it too. I’ve clicked on Buzzfeed links. Yesterday I clicked on an article about some celebrity I’ve never heard of. I’m not sure why.

The simplistic view is that we should just change the income source from ad-supported business models to subscriber-supported business models. If we compensate journalism (and musicians, and artists, and anybody else who deals in creative work) directly then maybe these problems could go away. But it doesn’t appear that journalism, or any other medium, can be realistically sustained on that. Think of how often people crab about New York Times paywalls.

Also consider app stores – paid apps often struggle to even get looked at because most mobile phone users simply don’t pay for apps. To get their apps onto phones developers often resort to in-app advertising or in-app purchases.

There’s no easy answer. I think we’re stuck between choosing imperfect but accessible content, or nothing – because premium articles and apps won’t get created unless there’s monetization at the end of the rainbow.

Uncharted 3 Bug I Found

Found this wild bug in Uncharted 3.

There’s this part in Uncharted 3 where you’re running up some stairs in a tower, you jump over this big rock, and you get ambushed by thugs on the other side. A grenade tosses you out a tower window and you need to work your way back up by climbing the tower.

That almost happened. Instead it looks like I went to the console view and typed “idclip”

I’m In A Thing: The Foreigner

Opening this Friday. This is a very different role for me.