My new years resolution is 1900 x 1200

Welcome to 2018.  My new years resolution is 1900 x 1200.

Isn’t it arbitrary to start the new year on an uninteresting day a few weeks after Christmas?  The exact day that is the first day of the new year is pretty random.  Apparently it was Julius Caesar who came up with it and he was just trying to make January, the month named after himself, more important.  I’d prefer the new year start on Summer or Winter Solstice, the longest or shortest day of the year.   That would make sense to me.  It would also make sense to me to start the new year on my birthday, but that’s probably just me.

So because it’s arbitrarily the beginning of a new year I suppose I should make some resolutions.  So here we go.

1.)  Finish a video game!  I play many video games that I very much enjoy but I never actually finish them.  Zelda BotW, Fallout 4, and X-Com 2 are all great games that I never finished!  Darn my short attention span, I want to play a video game to the end credits!

2.)  Lose weight!  I mean, as long as it doesn’t conflict with resolution number one.

3.)  Play at least my placement matches in ranked play for Heroes of the Storm or Overwatch!  I get nervous at the idea of ranked play but I’d at least like to get ranked one season and see how I do.

4.)  Write more!  But I guess I’m doing that now, so this one’s already done.

5.)  Watch Stargate!  It sounds like a cool show, why have I never watched all of it?

6.)  Clean the toilet more often!  Of course I clean it but it would probably be good to clean it more.

7.)  Diversify my online shopping!  There’s other online stores besides just Amazon.  I’ll still buy from Amazon of course but I could try a few other places from time to time.

8.)  Listen to more podcasts!  This will be hard because I already listen to a bunch.  But I’ve been in a rut listening to the same ones for a while now.  There’s probably new stuff out there I’d enjoy.

Okay, there we go.  That’s some good stuff to work on.  Okay everybody, let’s go make 2018 a good year!

Past and Presents

It’s Christmas and that means shopping for, wrapping, giving and receiving presents.  And that is very different now that it was when I was a child.

Back in my day we had to “go shopping” for gifts.  We’d drive to stores and spend hours looking for things to buy.  As a child I pretty much hated those trips.  Nobody was buying any of that stuff for me (obviously people got me presents but they weren’t buying them when was there with them) and I wasn’t old enough to enjoy buying gifts for other people very much.  So shopping trips were basically no different than going to school or getting a hair cut, it was just time wasted not playing video games at home.

After buying the presents then you had to wrap them.  Which reminds me that you didn’t just shop for gifts, you also shopped for wrapping paper and bows and ribbons and other wrapping related paraphernalia.  Just getting the wrapping supplies was an ordeal.  I was often expected to help wrap gifts and I was always terrible at it.  Every year grown ups would teach me how to wrap presents and every year I, apparently, did an awful job.  Even now as an adult people tell me I’m bad at wrapping gifts.  I don’t understand why.  When you look at a gift I wrapped you can never see the product under the wrapping paper.  That’s the point, right?  To make it impossible to see what the gift is until you unwrap it?  As long as the wrapping paper and tape completely hides and disguises what the gift is then mission accomplished.  People go on and on about neatly folder creases and tidy corners but I don’t see how any of that matters.  Who cares about the wrapping paper and tape on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts.

Then you distributed the presents to people who lived nearby and mailed presents to people who lived far away.  Mailing Christmas gifts was most of my early exposure to the Post-Office.  And that probably explains why I have so much anxiety about going to the Post-Office today.  It was always a miserably experience.  The employees were grumpy.  The other customers were grumpy.  The adults I was with were grumpy.  And I was grumpy, from wasting more time not playing video games at home.  I remember my Dad one time saying as we left the Post-Office, “For the price of shipping those packages we could have bought a lot more presents.”  “Well,”  I said, “let’s cancel those things we shipped and go buy me more presents.”  Apparently Dads comment was rhetorical, but try explaining that to a six year old.

Of course the flip side of mailing presents was that those people usually mailed presents to me.  Those were usually not very good though because they came from people who didn’t actually know me very well.  They were usually clothes, which is no gift at all really.  Or they were generic guesses at what I would like, which were usually way off.  I remember getting a baseball and baseball glove one year and asking my dad why they only got me one glove, don’t I need one for each hand?  The best gift from distant relatives was cash.  When you’re a kid and don’t have any money then you get a twenty dollar bill in the mail that is AMAZING!  You can go to the store and choose for yourself what to buy with it.  I never understood why adults said I couldn’t give money as a gift, because you’re suppose to treat others the way you want to be treated and I wanted people to give me the gift of money!  Maybe giving money is “rude” because if you give somebody else a twenty and they give you a twenty then the ridiculousness of gift giving because too obvious.
Then, after the big day came and went you had to write Thank You letters.  The main motivation for the Thank You letter was the idea that without sending a Thank You letter the relative in question might not send you another present next year.  But since a lot of my relatives didn’t send me very good presents in the first place this was no motivation at all.  I would have preferred they not send me anything, if it was just going to be socks anyway, and then I wouldn’t have the chore of writing the letter in response.  I think one year I said in the Thank You letters, “Next year please send money.” and they went out without my parents realizing what I had said.  Boy was everybody mad at me that year.  From then on, whenever an adult said “honesty is the best policy” I would roll my eyes.

Nowadays you don’t do any of that.  You pick out gifts on Amazon and have them mailed directly to the recipient, just remember to check the “This Item Is A Gift” box.  Then wait for them to text you a thank you Christmas day.  Easy.  And even though sending money is considered rude we’ve, for some reason, all decided that Gift Cards are perfectly fine so that’s great.  And some of my friends just buy me something on Steam from my Wish List, easy peasy.  Technology has really made gift buying better which frees up more time to play video games at home.  Merry Christmas!

What’s In A Name?

What we’ve named computer things is a bit strange sometimes.  Now I like the “keyboard”, in terms of what we call it.  It’s a board with keys on it.  That’s great.  Although if I’m honest I don’t care for calling them keys, they’re buttons.  So I think a keyboard should be called a buttonboard.

 

I understand why we call the computer mouse a “mouse”.  It’s got sort of the right shape and the cord looks a bit like it’s mouse’s tail.  But I don’t like the idea of holding a “mouse” all day.  And cordless mice are like tail-less mice which is also weird.  I’d like to call the mouse something else.  Like the Clicker.  “Move the clicker over the file and then double click the clicker.”  I might say to a user.  I think Clicker is way better.

 

What the actual “computer” is sometimes confuses people.  The monitor is not the computer (well maybe if you’re talking about an iMac that’s acceptable).  The Hard Drive is not the computer.  The CPU is not the computer.  Basically the computer is the sum of all the parts in the “tower” or “case”.  It’s like how the brain isn’t just the amygdala or the … I don’t know the names of other parts of the brain.  At any rate, the brain is all those different pieces put together.  And so is the computer, it’s all those different parts combined.  I don’t know that we need to rename the computer, we just need to educate people so they stop calling monitors computers and computers hard drives.

 

3.5” floppy disk, it doesn’t matter anymore but those were cover by a hard plastic shell.  The media inside was floppy but still, it was silly to call it floppy when you had to break it apart to reach the floppy part.

 

I think it’s silly that we still call the little computers we keep in our pockets “Cell Phones”.  We run a million different applications on them including spreadsheet programs, fitness trackers, music players, games and many more.  They are our calendars and electronic personal assistants.  They are how we check email, both personal and work.  But because one of the billion things they can do is to make and receive phone calls we still call them “phones”.  It’s just that telephone calls aren’t really their main purpose anymore.  We should call them Pocket Computers.  Or Pocke-comps.  Or Pokuters.

Here’s Three Neat Tricks To Achieving Your Dreams

We all have hopes, dreams, and goals.  But many of us struggle to achieve them.  As somebody who accomplished a goal once let me give you some advice.

 

One trick is visualization.  Sit or lay in a comfortable position and visualize the thing you want to achieve.  Visualize yourself getting it and how happy you’ll be.  Maybe visualize a famous celebrity to whom you feel affection being impressed by your achievement and expressing their admiration.  Visualize being rewarded for you achievement with nachos.  After a while you’ll get so good at visualizing your goals that you won’t even have to think about what to visualize.  You’ll get weird, random visualizations popping up in your head without effort or understanding.  I’ve reached a point where I can visualize stuff for hours.  Sometimes I’ll sit on the sofa and visualize my goals and then suddenly BAM, it’s bedtime.  And after all that visualizing I’m not even tired anymore.  I’m so good at visualizing my goals now that they’re bound to come true soon.

 

Write down your hopes and dreams.  This takes more effort than just closing your eyes and visualizing stuff but it’s worth it.   You’ll have to keep your eyes open, and find a pencil or other writing tool.  And paper.  By the time you’ve gathered all your supplies you’ll probably be ready to take a visualization break.  But don’t!  This is worth it because once you’re written down all your hopes and dreams you won’t have to keep remembering them anymore.  Thus freeing up mental space for more practical things like remembering products you might like to purchase.  Keep the paper that your wrote your hopes and dreams on in a safe place where other people can see it.  Maybe, just maybe somebody will see your list of hopes and dreams and they’ll make them come true for you.  It’s a long shot but if it works just one time it’ll be worth it.

 

Invest in your future.  You won’t achieve your goals for free.  Get a bunch of money and instead of buying some new video game or a flashy new toilet brush spend it on achieving your goals.  Go to the park, or enchanted forest, and find a wishing well.  Toss in all your money and make a wish.  If it doesn’t come true then you didn’t throw in enough money.  Or else you’re using an ordinary well in which case you just wasted it all.  But good for you for trying something!

 

These are just a few tricks to get you started.  Remember, you won’t become an achiever of dreams overnight.  You’ll probably have to work hard for days or weeks.  So you might as well get started right away.  Unless Netflix releases a new season of your favorite TV show or something.

Teamwork!

human pyramid

“Teamwork is important!” a former boss of mine was telling us.  “Remember, there’s no, “I” in Information Technology.”  I was never sure if he was joking or not.

 

Back then I was a lowly Tech 1 at a Credit Union.  Me an three other Tech 1’s were responsible for the most basic of jobs.  Your computer doesn’t turn on?  I’ll come by and make sure it’s plugged in.  Your mouse doesn’t work well?  One of us will run over with a new one.  You don’t know how to “do Excel”?  I’ll show you how to sign up for a training because I don’t know that either.  I replace mice and plug in computers, I don’t excel at Excel!

 

The four of us shared the workload.  And because we were such good teammates we shared it equally.  If I saw an easy ticket come in I’d take it right away.  If I saw a hard one come in I’d leave that for somebody else since I had already taken a lot of easy ones.  If I saw a hard ticket sit in the queue for a long time I’d go home early so nobody else felt guilty about taking it.  That’s what I called, “Being a team player”.

 

We were a team the way Congress is a team.  In theory we all worked together towards the same goal but in reality we all had completely different ideas about what that goal should be.  Bobbie believed we should replace all the Windows computers with Macs.  Another guy wanted to replace all the Windows installs with Linux.  I wanted to leave everything exactly the way it was because their ideas sounded like a lot of work.  Willy wasn’t sure everybody even needed a computer at all.

 

I remember one time a user brought in their personal mac laptop.  The whole company was Windows so Bobbie never got to work on Macs during his normal duties, and he spent the whole day “fixing” that mac.  Phones were ringing off the hook because something or other was down and we were all busy as heck but good old team player Bobbie wouldn’t turn away from that Mac.  His idea of helping us was telling us that, “If we used Macs like this instead of Windows that system wouldn’t have gone down.”  He spent the day extolling the virtues of Macs while we did our own work and his.  It did not make us fall in love with Macs.

 

The best example of our teamwork was when somebody had to transfer a ticket they had started to somebody else.  I remember getting one of Willy’s tickets about a user who couldn’t get email.

 

“Let’s reset your password.” I told the user.

 

“Willy already did that, it didn’t help.”  The user said.

 

Now, Willy hadn’t put in any notes so I had no idea what he had or had not done.  I assumed he hadn’t done anything because that’s the sort of employee he was.  Hearing he had done something left me in an awkward position.

 

“Did he have you try using the web mail?  Yes?  Did that work?  Okay.  Do you know if he double checked your account settings?  You don’t know?  I’ll do that, please hold a minute.  Okay those settings all look good, oh now you remember he did do that?  Great.  Just … great.  Do you know what he was going to do next?”

 

I’m sure teamwork is important in every job with two or more employees.  That’s why my dream job is a small company where I can be the whole I.T. department myself.  I work well with myself, and I wouldn’t have to worry about anybody else taking all the easy tickets before I do.

Who Am I Talking Too?

My dog always has to go outside when I play Heroes Of The Storm with my friends.  At first I thought I just noticed it more when playing online because of the inconvenience of telling everybody, “AFK doggy BIO.” in voice chat and then leaving for a while as I take her outside.  But I’m starting to think that she actually wants to go outside more often when I’m playing online.  Or at least I think she really comes over and stares at me more.

 

Action shot of her staring at me while I’m online gaming, doesn’t it look like she wants something?

 

Ordinarily when she needs to go potty she comes over to where I am in the house and just kind of stares at me for a bit.  So when she stares at me as I game I assume she needs out.  But sometimes while I’m gaming she’ll come over and stare at me thirty minutes after she was just out.  That’s statistically unusual for her.  So what gives?

 

Staring at me doesn’t necessarily mean she needs to do her business.  If I’m eating for example it just means she wants some of my food.  And other times she just wants to be petted and then she’ll wander off and go to sleep.  So what if the staring during Heroes of the Storm is something else, besides begging for food or attention or needing to water the lawn?

 

I’m starting to think it’s because I’m on voice chat.  I wonder if she’s just confused about why I’m talking out loud when nobody else is home.  She must think I’m going completely insane!  Maybe she wonders if I’m talking to her, and she’s staring at me trying to figure out what I want her to do.  She’s like, “I’m right here, why are you telling me to ‘push top lane’, whatever that means?”

 

I’m going to continue to take her outside when she stares at me because if I’m wrong and she does need to ‘start streaming’ I want her to do it outside.  But maybe after the third Doggy Bio Break in one gaming session I’ll wait a bit before going again.  I think we’re both just totally confused by the others behavior.

The Fall

A man stands up.  Where was his phone?  His lap, his pocket, his hand?  Now his phone is in the air.  Falling.  The man raises his left foot and moves it forward.  His phone impacts the floor.  Sound vibrates through the air and hits his eardrums.  Electrical impulses shoot form his ears to his brain.  His mind recognizes the sound of his cell phone landing on the ground.  Adrenaline.  Where exactly did the phone land?  His foot falls, completing the step he began a moment before.  His foot is on his phone.  He shifts his weight to the other foot.  He looses balance.  Now he is in the air.  Falling.   Sound vibrates through his bones as he hits the ground.  Electrical impulses shoot from the body parts that hit the floor the hardest.  He’s hurting.  His hands feel the floor.  Searching.  His left hand finds his phone.  Lifting it, bringing it to his face.  His eyes scan it.  Electrical impulses shoot from his eyes to his brain.  His mind is relieved.  The phone is okay.  His body is hurt.  His body will heal.  The phone is fine.  Relief.

Personal Assistants

An important person like myself naturally has a personal assistant.  I couldn’t get through the day without her.  She schedules my appointments and makes sure I’m on time to meetings.  She answers questions I might have and tells me about good places to eat.  And in the middle of the night I can ask her what time it is so I don’t even have to open my eyes.  I just say, “Hey Siri, what time is it?” and she tells me.  She’s great.
Everything has a digital personal assistant built into it these days.  The iPhone obviously has Siri.  All the Not An iPhone phones have assistants too. Windows has Cortona.  Electronic Digital Assistants are like fidget spinners, everybody has to have one nowadays.
Obvy, I like this because I saw people talking to the computer and the computer answering them on Star Trek.  So many things from Star Trek are starting to pop up in real life that a hard core nerd could almost believe Star Trek is real.  You know, late at night when you’re only half awake and asking Siri what time it is.  I can almost see myself on the bridge of the Enterprise and … I mean, a hypothetical other person could forget Star Trek isn’t real….yet.
There are some privacy concerns with phones and TV’s and other devices listening to you all the time.  If you’re phone is listening for you to call it’s name does that mean it’s listening to everything?  Who else can listen to your phone listening to you?  It’s not something I have to worry about too much because nobody cares if I’m asking Siri what time it is in the middle of the night.  And I can’t think of a single conversation I’ve had today that anybody would want to listen in on.  Usually I can’t make people listen to me even when I’m talking right at them.  Plus there’s all kinds of security to prevent people from spying on you through your phone.  But it’s important to point out that this technology isn’t perfect.  Unlike nuclear energy and gun powder this new technology could potentially have negative side effects.
There’s still a long way to go before we maximize this tech.  A robot voice in my phone that can schedule things in my calendar is nice and all.  But until we put that AI in a robotic body that can walk around and play basketball and give hugs we’re only taking advantage of the minimum of what this technology is capable of.  Siri needs a body.  So she can carry my luggage and do stuff.

Gang Wars

There’s a turf war raging in the world today.  Gangs roam the streets doing battle with those who sport enemy colors.  They aren’t limited to one neighborhood or city or country.  It’s a worldwide epidemic.  Coordinating on Facebook and Twitter and … I don’t know SnapChat I guess?  They strike deep into their rivals territory then drive (or bike) away.  There’s a three way battle for the world raging right under your eyes.

 

I’m speaking of course about Pokemon Go.  It’s been out for a while now but it’s still pretty popular in certain circles.  Even though about 75% of the people I know who had played it at launch have stopped the remaining 25% of players are still trying to Catch ‘Em All.  And a subset of that group is hard core.

 

Now I haven’t gotten hard core about Pokemon Go myself because … I’m lazy mostly.  But I hear stories, which I assume are true because life is more exciting that way, of people who coordinate the capture and retention of Pokemon Go Gyms.  Basically places in the world that are Pokemon Go Gyms can be battled over in the game and if you control a gym you get … I don’t know but I guess it’s good.  I’ve never gotten good enough at the game to capture a gym myself.  But these folks will literally call their teammates and all drive out to a gym together to capture it, or to re-capture it if another team grabs it.  So, according to reliable sources (i.e. coworkers)  if you capture one of these gyms and wait there for a few minutes four or five cars will pull up, retake the gym, and then drive off.  It sound awesome and also terrifying.

 

I like Pokemon Go.  I started playing again recently because it’s finally summer in Alaska (Pokemon Go was not much fun in the Alaskan Winter, although that probably didn’t stop the hardcore players)  and it’s a great excuse to get outside and get some much needed exercise and sunshine.   But the idea of coordinating with other people to this level and paying this much attention to it 24/7 … that’s not why I play video games.  I’m casual, in all things I’m casual.  I have a lot of respect for the hardcore and I see the appeal, but if I ever do capture a gym and then later on I lose it I’m probably not getting out of my chair to go reclaim it.  I’ll just say, “Nice while it lasted.” And keep watching my show.

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.