Obsoletification

 

Cursive handwriting is becoming less common these days.  (Cursive speaking on the other hand is alive and well.)  There’s a lot of debate about whether we should make an effort to keep cursive handwriting around or if we should just let it go.  I don’t really have an opinion.  I never use cursive myself because … it just never comes up.  But if people want to keep teaching it in school that’s fine with me.  There’s lots of things they taught me in school that I never used again, what’s one more?

 

What’s interesting to me is the idea that a style of writing that used to be common is potentially fading away and what other things might also fade away in the future?

 

What about typing?  With voice to text systems we might be at the very beginning of speaking to our computers instead of typing to them.  I love talking to Siri on my iPhone.  Every electronic thing is getting a virtual assistants that you can talk to these days.  Dragon Naturally Speaking and other programs have let us compose letters, documents, even books by speaking to the computer.  So will we reach a point in the distant future when we stop typing on keyboards all together?  There’s problems of course with speaking to the computer.  Other people can overhear you for example.  Not ideal for an office environment or working on the train or texting from the toilet in a public bathroom.  But will we overcome those issues in the future?  And if so … will there be a generation of kids who never knew that old fashioned keyboards had the alphabet out of order?

 

Self driving cars look entirely feasible, before I die I might be chauffeured around in a self driving car.  And I don’t mean that I’ll be in a self driving car at the time that I die, just that they might become common in my lifetime.  If they do will people stop learning to drive themselves?  My guess is that not everybody will.  I bet people will drive manually for fun the same way people ride horses for fun.  But driving could be something only enthusiasts learn instead of everybody.  And considering how everybody drives that could be a good thing.

 

Many toilets flush themselves when they sense you’re … finished.  Will we forget how to flush in the future?  Many people seem to have already forgotten.

 

With online shopping we don’t have to go the store much anymore.  And now there’s little buttons you can tap to reorder things.  Or systems you talk to that order things for you.  And systems that detect when they’re low on supplies and order things automatically.  Will we forget how to go shopping in the future?  Is it so bad if we do?

 

There’s all sorts of things that we may stop doing in the future.  But just like making our own butter by hand I bet people who grow up without these things won’t even miss them.

Desktop Versus Laptop

I have thought about the pros and cons of desktops and laptops for decades and the debate rages on.  So today I’d like to discuss the differences here in a completely fair, balanced, and unbiased fashion.

Desktop Pros:

Desktops are generally cheaper than laptops.  Unless you count Chrome Books in the laptops category.  Or look at super high end gaming computers.  Suffice it to say that desktops are cheaper than laptops except for when they’re not.

Desktops are easy to tinker with.  You can open up a desktop computer and swap components or rearrange the interior cabling or store Red Bull’s inside them.  But if you’re the sort of person who likes to take computers apart but can never get them put back together correctly then maybe the ability to dismantle your computer isn’t a good thing.

Desktops are actually very portable.  As a teenager and while I was in my twenties I would regularly take my desktop computer to friends houses to play multiplayer games with them.  That’s not entirely necessary these days with the internet fad being in full swing.  But the point is that it’s entirely possible to put your desktop computer in your car, drive somewhere else, remove it from your car and reassemble it in a new location.  Then play video games on it with your friends until after midnight and do the whole thing in reverse to take it home.  Although I’ll say the whole process was a bit easier when I was younger.  Maybe computers are starting to weigh more?  They sure feel heavier than they did when I was twenty.

Desktop Cons:

There aren’t any cons.  Desktop computers are great.


Laptop Pros:

Portability.  If you want to take your tiny computer into a public restroom and video conference with your mom while you’re on the toilet then a laptop is for you!

A laptop can be placed under the leg of a table to help steady it if one of the legs is shorter than the others.

Laptops are excellent for hitting people upside the head.  That’s risky though as you may damage the laptop.

Laptop Cons:

Laptops are tiny little computers with tiny little screens and tiny little processors and tiny little hard drives that you can’t easily open up to repair or upgrade and they cost too much.

They are dumb.

The Conclusion:

In conclusion I think you’ll find that my data is impeccable, the analysis was fair and based on sound reasoning.  And that the clear winner is the desktop.  Now if you want to buy a laptop because it’s portable then you certainly should do that, but I will not be accepting video conferencing requests from you.

Creativerse

I’ve been playing Creativerse on Steam lately and really enjoying it.  Creativerse is basically a Minecraft clone.  But I feel bad saying that because whenever people call something a “clone” it sounds derogatory and I don’t mean it derogatorily here.  A clone of something you like, if well done, can be a wonderful thing.

I enjoyed building stuff in Creativerse, even if my buildings are all just boxes.

Creativerse has a lot of the things I like about Minecraft but adds nicer graphics, built in recipes, progression in the form of unlocking new recipes, and a great system for playing online.  It just released recently so I think we can expect it to only get better from here.

My first home was, just like when I play MineCraft, a cave I dug into a mountain.

Somebody who’s already played Minecraft will be right at home here.  I played for hours without looking up anything on Wiki’s or YouTube because everything was easy to figure out.  It’s nice to play a new game and not need to go through a tutorial.

Why do I love farming in video games so much?  I have no idea, but I do.

It has crops to plant, animals to care for, and food to cook.  All the basic “digital farming” stuff you’d expect in a game that tries to simulate living in a world.  You don’t starve to death but the foods give various buffs or regenerate health.  The farming system isn’t as robust as I’d like it to be but it’s good enough.  Hopefully they’ll expand it later maybe?

Of course if you dig down deep enough you find a lava level.  Because of course.  I hear there’s a layer below this lava layer but I haven’t gotten deeper than this yet.

There’s a bunch of different Biomes just like in Minecraft, many on the surface and some more straight down under the ground.  For now, while the game is new, I’m very much enjoying wandering around exploring the world.  Finding new things and seeing what I can craft out of them.  And just seeing the sights.  Plus you can Teleport straight back to your home so you never get lost!  That might seem like “easy mode” to some but for me it makes exploring a lot more fun and relaxing.

The animals are totes adorbs.

It’s free to play so you can try it on Steam for nothing.  But they do charge twenty bucks for a “Pro” version that comes with a glider and other perks.  They have an online store so some of the fancy block types cost real life money to unlock the crafting recipe, that part kind of stinks but nothing they sell is necessary (and once you’ve bought the block you can craft it an unlimited number of times from resources found in game freely).  If those microtransactions mean the game will continue to be developed and improved then I’m okay with that.  I haven’t found any mods for it yet, and that’s the one place it may fail compared to MineCraft is it may not be modable (or not modable as easily as MC at least).  But for me these downside don’t stop me from enjoying the game.  If you liked MineCraft I expect you’ll like Creativerse.  And hey, free to play means you can give it a try easy peasy.

I’m Wrong

Nobody is right about all the things all the time.  It’s statistically impossible* to be right all the time.  Which means you have, all of us have, a bunch of beliefs that are probably wrong.  That we’ll probably figure out are wrong at some point in the future.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could just sit down and go through the list of things we believe and figure out which ones are wrong now and just get it all sorted out?
I believe a lot of things.  That NASA is good for humanity.  That shooter games were the better when I was young.  That one day Self Driving Cars will be the norm and the people who want to drive by hand will do it as a fun hobby.  That Picard was the best captain.  That Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition was the best edition.  That we as a people need to be able to disagree and discuss our different points of view without hating each other.  That reality TV is probably not “reality” at all.  That Pepsi is better than Coke.  That The Hobbit trilogy of movies was fun, but the book is better.

I believe a lot of other stuff stuff too that I won’t list here.  Because people listing things they like on the internet is overdone and because the list would be longer than <insert humorously long thing here>.  The interesting thing is that I’m probably wrong about some of these things.  Now this doesn’t apply to things like my liking Pepsi over Coke because that’s just personal preference.  But ‘NASA being good for humanity’ or’ Self Driving Cars will one day be common’, stuff like that I might be wrong about.  I am almost certainly wrong about several things that I believe right now.  And what’s infuriating is … I can’t tell what they are!

Is NASA good for humanity?  I think so.  I think the technological progress we make when exploring space is a very tangible benefit to the world.  And learning is a good thing in general, it advances humanity.  But am I wrong about NASA?  Are there better things we could spend our money on?  It seems like NASA’s budget is usually around one percent of the US budget, that’s a terribly small percentage but it would still be a lot of money for many other programs.  Would another government program be more beneficial to humanity?  I think NASA is a good thing to spend our money on but how can I be certain?

Will Self Driving Cars be common place in the future?  Well this is a prediction, it’s a guess about the future, and predicting the future is always hard.  It seems to me that once people can Tweet, read FaceBook, eat breakfast and take a nap safely while the car drives them to work people will jump all over that.  It’s scary though, people are nervous about Self Driving Cars, it’s entirely possible that fear will prevent the technology from catching on.  Or even being legal, people afraid of self driving cars might lobby for laws against them.  So it’s hard to be certain about this.  Plus there’s the possibility that they won’t work very well, I believe we have the technology and will continue to improve the technology to build very safe self driving cars but it’s at least possible that I’m wrong about that.  I think Self Driving Cars will be awesome, but how can I be certain?

We as a people need to learn how to disagree and discuss our different points of view without hating each other.  That sounds like a great idea to me.  But it presupposes that currently people are hating each other when holding different points of view.  I feel like everything we see in the news media and social media is people hatefully shouting at each other for believing differently.  But what if that perception is faulty?  What if most people can sit down and discuss different points of view with civility and respect for each other?  What if it just seems worse than it is because shouting is entertaining enough to be shown on our various media’s while calm discussion is not?  I’m confident that we should discuss differences politely, but how can I be certain that we aren’t already doing that most of the time and I just don’t see it?

Those are three things I believe that aren’t just personal preferences.  And when I look at each of those three things I think I’m right about each of them.  But I know that I can’t be right about everything, no human is right about all the things all the time, so I might be wrong about one of these things and not even realize it.  I might be staring at something I wrote that is wrong right now and I don’t even see it!

Usually when you change your mind about something it’s because you’ve learned something new.  Or you’ve learned that some fact that you had based your old belief on is wrong.  Or you’ve had an experience that causes you to look at things a new way.  It’s hard to think about things you believe and reevaluate them without any new data.  So the best thing to do is keep learning.  Keep seeking out new information.  Keep listening to people who believe differently and find out why they do.  Then, as you learn and grow, go back and reevaluate things you used to believe to see if they still make sense with what you know now.

Every once in a while I drink a Coke, just to see if I still like Pepsi better.  Go out today and drink a Coke.  Or if you already like Coke best then drink a Pepsi, you know what I mean.

*Is it only statistically improbable or is it close enough to impossible that we can just round it off?

The True Heroes Of The Storm

So I get on Heroes of the Storm the other day and join Quick Match.  That’s the game mode where you play with and against actual humans.  Nobody else is online so it’s just me and my four new best friends chosen by the science of Blizzard Matchmaking.  Blizzard uses the same algorithms as online dating sites to put together teams.  But the algorithms failed us this time.  The five of us had very different personalities.

We had the Solo Yolo player.  They were playing Vala and started the game by running head first into the enemy towers.  Throughout the match this person attempted to solo merc camps, the Boss, and the entire other team at every opportunity.  They never said anything in chat.  I assume they were a small child because that’s funnier than if they were an unskilled adult.  And, from what I saw, entirely plausible.

We had the Cheerleader.  This was a delightful person who continuously provided motivation for the team by saying things in chat like, “Get your head out of your butt and push the lane!” or, “Git gud noobs!”  It was good advice.  I remember thinking, “It would be hard to play this game if my head was in my butt.  I couldn’t even see anything, so removing it would DEFINITELY improve my game.  And yeah, I should get good.  Getting good would be incredibly helpful.  I should do that.”

Then there was the New Guy.  I don’t know if they had ever played Heroes of the Storm before but they admitted they had never played Tracer.  “Tracer sure is squishy!” they informed us after their fifth death in two minutes.  “Does anybody know how to Tracer?  I can’t Tracer?”  I liked that they used Tracer as a verb instead of a Proper Noun because it really drove home the point that they needed help.  Help with Tracer, help with the English language, and probably help with life in general.

The New Guy and the Solo Yolo seemed to be competing for Most Deaths Per Minute.  It was a VERY close race.
Then we had the Historian.  They regaled us with stories of their previous games.  Like one time they played on the same map we were on and there was a Cho’gal and three supports and all that healing made Cho’gal an unstoppable force that marched in and destroyed the enemy core within the first five minutes.  Since nobody in our current game was playing Cho’gal or a support there wasn’t really anything applicable to our current situation, but it was a neat story.  Still I can’t help but feel like we might have done better if the Historian had spent less time telling us about past games and more time playing the one that they were actually in.
I gave the other players nicknames so I guess it’s only fair to give myself one.  If I had to pick something to describe myself it’d be the Almost Guy.  I almost kill an enemy hero but then they escape behind their towers.  Or I almost claim the objective but then I get ganked by the enemy team.  I almost arrive in time to help with a team fight but I’m too late my whole team is dead and then they kill me too.
We lost that game.  But just because you lose the game doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.  I got a hearty laugh at the antics of my teammates and a reasonably interesting blog post out of it.  So all in all not a bad game.

Inevitability Of Time

Every morning that I go to work I say to myself, “Let’s just try to get through another day.”  It’s a ridiculous thing to say though because I’ll “get through another day” regardless of my efforts.  Time will shove me along until it’s lunch time.  Then I’ll relax into the booth of a nearby restaurant and will savoir those moments of sweet freedom.  But of course Time will be there, continuing to push me along until lunchtime is over.  I’ll go back to work and think, “Only four hours left.  Just gotta get through this.”  But I will absolutely get through this, I have no choice but to get through this, because Time is still there dragging me forward until it’s quitting time.  Then I’ll race home to enjoy the evening away from the office.  But here’s the big surprise, Time is still there!  Pushing me forward, forward, always pushing me forward until bedtime, morning time and then another work day.  Which it will mercifully push me through to the end.  The inevitability of time is both a blessing and a curse.  Whatever you’re going through Time will push you through it until it’s over.

Time pushes us along,

Through good times and bad,

If we sing a song,

Or cry and feel sad,

Time is merciless and does not judge,

Whether we run or walk or trudge,

Time carries us through good and bad,

So there’s time enough for both to be had.

 

The Attraction Assumption

 

Happy Revenge Of The Fifth and a belated happy May The Fourth.  In honor of these Star Warsian holidays I’d like to discuss an issue that really bugs me and which is Star Wars related.

I’m on record as loving Rogue One.  It’s my favorite new Star Wars (that is, favorite of all the ones made after the original trilogy).   But there are some people who roll their eyes at me when I tell them that.  And then they accuse me of, “You only like it because of the hot girl.”  That’s pretty upsetting for a bunch of reasons.  Firstly, I do not rave about movies being great just because I’m nuts for the lead actress.  If that was the case I’d be arguing that every Jennifer Aniston film ever made is amazing.  But secondly it’s also dismissive of the actresses talent, I like Jyn Erso because she’s a well written character and the actress who played her did a fantastic job acting the part.  Plus there’s more to a great movie than just one character played by one actress, there’s a whole cast of characters and actors, there’s the films writing and directing and special effects and all those other things.  I do not love a two hour long movie just because it features one attractive person!

It’s a problem I run into a lot actually.  I say I like Arrival and I’m accused of only liking it because of Amy Adams.  When I talk positively about Black Widow I’m dismissed because of how hot Scarlett Johansson is.  When I proclaim Return Of The Jedi to be my favorite Star Wars movie of the original trilogy (and all time) people tell me it’s only because of the Princess Leia in the Metal Bikini scenes.

The super frustrating thing about Rogue One is that I’m not super attracted to Felicity Jones.  I mean she’s beautiful of course but personally I’m just not that into her.   Which is how I know I’m not being unduly influenced by my hormones.  I genuinely like her character for the way she’s written and the way Felicity Jones portrays her.  But I feel uncomfortable using my lack of attraction to her as a rebuttal to people accusing me of overrating the movie.  I shouldn’t need to prove my un-attraction for the actress in order for my love of the character to be valid.  An actress can be both attractive and talented and I can appreciate those two things separately.

I don’t even bother arguing when people say I only like Black Widow because of  Scarlett Johansson anymore.  Because it’s so obvious that I’m super hot for her that nobody listens to my reasons for liking the character anyway.  I can explain that I love that Black Widow doesn’t have any super powers but still  fights side by side with Mech Suited, Super Soldier Serum’d, and Gamma Irradiated super heroes.  She uses her training, conditioning, and her mind be a Super Hero with, technically, no super powers.  In Avengers she outwitted Loki, she tricked the God Of Trickery!  She’s a cool character.  And I think Scarlett Johansson does a great job playing the character, acting the part, she’s a talented actress.  But Johansson is gorgeous and some people don’t seem to see anything past that.

The only movie that I’ve raved about without being eye rolled at is The Force Awakens.  Everybody knows Daisy Ridley is beautiful and everybody agrees Rey is an awesome character.  I’m super glad that we can all agree on that.  I’m curious what it is about Rey that makes people agree she’s great but they roll their eyes at me when I talk about Jyn.  Those are both great characters, they are both played by beautiful actresses, they’re both even Star Wars.  I don’t know what the difference is.

In closing I’d like to say that it’s rude to me to assume I’m so shallow as to only like an entire movie because the lead actress is beautiful and it’s rude to the actress who contributes more to the film than just her physical appearance.

 

The Computer/Harmonica Similarity

I don’t care for the harmonica.  It’s fine if you like it, that’s great.  But the sound it makes doesn’t appeal to me.  So all my life there’s been this group of people learning and playing the harmonica and I’ve felt like they were wasting their time.  When I was a child there were adults who felt the same way about computers, they were not interested in computers AT ALL and they wondered why anybody wasted their time on them.

People who weren’t interested in computers in the 90’s must have felt like the world suddenly decided that playing the harmonica was an important job skill.  Suddenly something they didn’t care about was a big deal.  A lot of young people who thought computers were cool had already amassed all this useful computer knowledge and skill for fun.  And now older workers weren’t being praised for their decades of job experience they were being chastised for not knowing how to email.  It must have been very frustrating for them.  I imagine my boss telling me, “You’re good at your job but if you can’t play Yanky Doodle Dandy on the harmonica I’m going to fire you and hire somebody who can.”

Those people are still around.  These are the people who print out all their important documents and put them in folders and filling cabinets.  And you tell them, “It’s saved on the server.  The server is backed up every night so it’s safe.  Everything there is searchable.  It’s easily shared with anybody in the company you want to share it to.  Or you can protect it so nobody see’s it but you.  You don’t need a filling cabinet.”  And they respond, “I don’t trust the computer.  It might break.”  And you go on to list all the ways the printed out piece of paper might get lost, stolen, spilled on, burned up or become unreadable and they don’t care.  All the things that can go wrong with their sheet of paper are things they understand and have spent a lifetime learning to protect against.  The computer is a mystery, from their point of view literally ANYTHING could happen to it.   A computer virus could turn all their files to jelly.  So that’s scary, the unknown is scary.

Working in I.T. I get frustrated by them sometimes.  They get angry because their boss wants them to use Skype for a meeting and they’d rather drive to the building the meeting is happening at.  And you show up to install Skype and suddenly you’re also teaching it too them and you’re thinking to yourself, “I learned how to use skype, on my own, like ten years ago.  What is even happening right now?  I’m explaining that it’s like a phone but on the computer?  What sin did I commit for which this is my punishment?”  And then they refuse to enable to camera because “Communists might spy on me.” and you tell their boss that you installed it and showed them how to log in.  Whether they enable the dang video mode in the meeting or not is beyond your control.

But then I think, “What if somebody showed up at my desk to teach me how to do something I don’t like, don’t want, and don’t think I need?  What if they showed up to teach me the harmonica.  What if the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying everybody harmonica’s and was forcing me to play it every day?  How would that make me feel?”  Obviously you and I know that there are very good reasons and benefits to using computers over typewriters and filing cabinets while there is no good reason to force an entire company to learn the harmonica.  But from the point of view of people who hate computers it feels the same to them.  They honestly don’t know why or believe that computers offer any benefit.  So I think they feel the same about computers as I feel about harmonicas.  So to empathize with them I imagine company enforced harmonica lessons.

And that helps me relax and to be kind and gentle with the users.  It helps me empathize with them.  It reminds me that while I don’t enjoy teaching somebody how to add an attachment to their email (I was doing that twenty years ago people!) they probably hate it even more than I do.  And that shared unhappiness is a bonding moment between us.