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.

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.

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.