A few months ago I migrated my websites to a new hosting arrangement. I had been doing so through my personal IIS, MS SQL and MySQL efforts through a virtual private network offered by Go Daddy. It turned out that Go Daddy began offering a shared hosting solution with as much, if not more, capability and traffic capacity as the plan I was on, for much, much, less. I miss the direct control of logging into a separate Windows desktop to manage my services like a pro, but money is important to me these days, so I made the decision to give that kind of control up for lots less dough.
Example of marking something for Check That ID tracking
The migration took quite a bit, as they always do. Inevitably something always gets broken that I don't hear about or spot for a long time. In this case it was Check that ID, my prototype "Twitter for everything" service that provides a way for people to label anything with a unique ID, log it, then track it via an informal grafitti style reporting system. Say you mark a microwave oven, log an initial entry with a unique code at Check That ID, mark said code on the microwave, then sell it. As the microwave gets passed from new owner to new owner, there's a chance you can follow it in periodically checking back to review your Check That ID code, provided at least some of the owners take the time to update. Why they would is anybody's guess but that's part of the fun if not the utility.
I found Check That ID dead in the water this morning and spent part of my Sunday restoring it. Turns out my migrated version of MySQL was case sensitive with respect to the tables it used, while on my last server it was not. Probably something I overlooked, but in any case, it's up and running again. If you're curious about the service, click the links below.
Recall in this posting how I theorize tablets might one day be dedicated to task-specific stuff that, say, the Dominos Pizzas of the world might find useful. Cheap tablets loaded with pizza-ordering software and branded by the company could be passed out to people, much in the same way those refrigerator magnets currently are.
Well, it turns out that while the complex ordering process of a pizza might be one best suited to the wide input capabilities a tablet affords for sure, there is a process even more direct being developed by Amazon called Amazon Dash. You don't even have the tablet because the only input is a single press of your finger.
With job worries abated (for the moment), a personal issue with my ex-girlfriend at peace (as much as it will be - I have a lot of work to do on myself), I've been able to mentally, emotionally and tangibly begin dabbling in my projects with a fresh mind. It's always telling when I hit a free creative cycle because the first thing I do is set up a personal webcam. You can't always pick your friends but with me you can always watch your friend pick his nose. But seriously, I'm working on it. And in any event, isn't "eating" whatever comes out the real issue anyway? I'm working on that by working on the former.
For that matter, here's a current snapshot straight from the source. By the time you read this I'm probably not sitting in the chair.
It's not just getting back to a more carefree mindset that makes this iteration of the webcam possible, but the fact that I have a large infrastructure to run it from. Living in New York City studios and "one rooms" it's been hard to set up a webcam of me at my workstation without also setting up one that has me toweling off naked after a shower. Having an entire house at my disposal like I do now, this is a breeze of concern-free exhibitionism. Enjoy it my friends! Try to pretend like it's not a 1990s thing that nobody finds interesting anymore.
Well it's good to be working once again. The new job entails working with end users on their wide variety of company IT needs in a "Level One" support role, which I'm happy about because it re-saddles me professionally closer to the IT sector, helping people and resolving their various issues, which I love. The company is a complex structure and I don't want to draw them into my blog posts, but suffice to say they are involved in the pharmaceutical industry.
Standing outside my new office gig in a secret location....(let me fantasize!)
Getting hired and being able to say that I actually have a job that lasts are two different things, of course, and I'll only be at ease when training is complete and I'm taking control of the processes I'm expected to execute, proving that I can do them. There is explicit training, which is refreshing, but the reality is that the job itself is "sink or swim" which means thinking fast on your feet (or in your seat as this case may be) is pivotal. I am fast on my feet, but maybe not so much getting on my feet. I've just never considered myself that "bright". I have to imagine this one and other companies providing services like it over-hire new prospects because they know all too well not everyone makes it.
Also, and perhaps like any workplace environment (duh), I'm getting the feeling that success at the new gig, in addition to raw smarts, involves more whether people are willing to talk to you or not when you're under the gun. As many of my friends know, I tend to be the oddball out in any group and work support cliques tend to form over and around me. I'm just one of those people. I really can't tell if I'm just pissing people off with my arrogant strain of optimism or I'm that un-relatable in a general sense, but I do. It's what I've done for over forty years and I've long since gotten adept at accepting it even though I oft dream of an easier life where I'm "just one of the guys". Knowing that I am a good person and a (relatively) intelligent one at that, I wouldn't change me in this respect for a minute just for a paycheck, as new jobs or aspirations are always just around the corner, if not in the mind's making.
But in any event all this is why I'm still holding my breath. If I'm on my own too much with my trademark anti-charisma yet cannot make up for it with self-reliance and resilience (as I often do, by the way), I'm not "yet" out of the unemployment woods. We'll just need to check in in six months or so to see!
I picked up one of those assorted fried chicken dinners you find in grocery stores and found this. I have no idea what the hell those crisped claw-like strings are hanging out the back, but I am not eating any of it.
This one is for my Wilkes-Barre Facebook group chums of which I suspect nearly 100 percent of them are tuned into police scanners.
I stumbled across the following Wilkes-Barre Sunday Independent newspaper article from August 2, 1936. Note the headline Radio Gives Away an Illegal Police Call (the link loads a large image, be sure to zoom in if your browser shrinks it) in which the role of the community is called out as having uncovered an "illegal police call" to a Republican hosted beer brawl which took place on the city's outskirts. The radio call, having been intercepted by hoards of ordinary citizens tuning in, got the Wilkes-Barre police department into a little hot water because things that go on in the outskirts of the city are not Wilkes-Barre business. They had some 'splainin to do.
With as much chatter, cross-comparing of scanner traffic in the local Wilkes-Barre area Facebook groups, and the utility of all that so well appreciated today, I wonder what they in 1936 would think about Wilkes-Barre scanner nerds now.
Clip of article calling out impact of curious public. Full article can be read here.
I found this in the archives of the old Wilkes-Barre Sunday Indpendent newspaper which, by the way, can be found here. You can spend hours with a cup of coffee reading up on all sorts of things between 1913 and 1954 or so. It's really downright kind of neat.
There's an interesting part of my blogging process I'm not sure how smart it is. Hours, days, even weeks after I've posted an entry I find myself continually going back to edit and re-edit, over and over. Like, after I've written something I have no real qualm about continually tightening up a piece. It really isn't a problem because near quite literally, nobody reads my blogs. I have the data that tells me so. Only the lone oddball checks in from time to time which is actually less in volume than overnight bots from China stil trying to poke at Battle Blog vulnerabilities I patched years ago. When you get right down to it, I write a blog for bots.
To detour through that point for a moment, dismal readership doesn't bother me because I tend to look at myself as a blogging beginner working toward some grand outcome; someone who wants to write important things but doesn't yet have anything really important to write about to an expert level besides me, me, me, and I, I, I. I'm early in the process, content to exercise my throwing arm for the big whatever ultimate future when lo and behold I have something really interesting to say that draws clicks.
Even though I've been blogging for years I don't equate my entire life of blogging with the balanced formula of relevance, expertise of content, or spirit and/or competency of writing quality, that needs to occur all at once. Stages of my blogging life tend to have one or the other going for it, but never all of them which to me validates the title and craft of blogger. Since I explicitly walked away from a taxing job to concentrate on this sort of thing not too long ago, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about and executing real-world action to achieve this balance, thus making me a beginner with room to grow.
But getting back to the edit thing it really begs the question which I'm sure all writers have contemplated. Could there be so much live editing over such a long period of time that an article which was initially posted making one point morph into making a different one? I for one keep my editing limited to punctuation, typos, flow, and clarity cracks, which seem fine piecemeal and in limited play. But how close have I come to completely changing my entire point or shifting my position unwittingly or perhaps even subconsciously, in order to make a more politcally or palletable read?
I'm going to poke around to see what others are doing, and raise my findings in a future post.
I've come across two articles about tablets I think make great sense. As a gadget-lover who has owned as many as three tablets at once (the original Kindle Fire, an ASUS 10 inch model, and my current Google Nexus 7 2012 version), I have found my ultimate adoption of any of them falling woefully short.
At the time, I had the budget, or foolhardiness, to make such redundant purchases one after another hoping the next tablet model would be different enough in some way from the former such that I'd wind up using it as propitiously as people on TV did, or 100 percent of the people I saw carrying them around me during my daily commute were (or actually weren't).
Dominos or Pizza Hut have better use for tablets dedicated to ordering pizzas.
It's hard to cite any one reason any of them failed to live up to whatever ideal I had in my head but near the top of the list is the fact that anytime I'm interacting digitally with the world, I want absolute responsiveness. My tablets tend to stutter at key moments, confuse my intent with pop-up keyboards, or fail to precisely interpret my screen-dabbing whenever I close or move windows. Switching between apps causes delays and mini-freezes, as does the act of coming out any sleep mode. Sometimes videos don't start for lack of compatibility with Flash or some other underlying issue. All in all the speed I want to operate at is intermittently thwarted by some mundane corrective action I need to make every X interaction event.
In time, there came to be a "groan" factor involved whenever I wanted to do something that involved interaction (which could be something as simple as a tweet). Those reasons might not have been enough to give up and declare two years of tableting a failure, but combined with having a Chromebook or a regular Windows desktop around at my disposal, did. After awhile I just skipped going for the tablet and straight to either to get my "whatever it be" done.
Like most people on the tablet deprecation trajectory, I then figured my nearly abandoned tablets would better serve me as regular carry around instruments, except that my new and larger smartphone which I already carried everyplace as a matter of habit, allowed me to do anything in the time and space a tablet might, without being any worse an experience. So, as the pattern of these stories go, all of my tablets wound up severely under used, began missing charging cycles, and sooner or later collected dust.
Tablet Articles that Accent My Points
But even so, tablets, if not their form, flat and keyboardless (bear in mind, smartphones are increasingly curved which is a pain for flat mobile computing times such as when you're snacking and want to peck at your e-mail on the side), all while perpetually connected to the global internet, naggingly struck me as things that should be useful. The following two articles finally resolved that nagging feeling although none of them mean I'm likely to return to my tablets. They both explain why they are useful, even if not for me and the way people like me who tried using them. They involve approaches to the issue that involve re-thinking how our digital lives actually operate.
The first, Rethinking the iPad: A formula to make it useful if you're already savvy on a laptop and smartphone unwittingly speaks to the second article in that the author talks about converting one's tablet into a dedicated content machine for things like e-book reading, or movie streaming. It might seem a given that tablets are already these things because there are apps for reading and watching movies, but it's more than just firing those apps up and calling it a day. Rather, it's about a complete conversion to make a tablet a dedicated device for these things. You remove anything with a notification component (like messenger or e-mail apps) and configure the tablet to more directly fire up content-only apps like Netflix or You Tube. That way, when you pick up the tablet, you know and trust that you are picking up a content device that will be ready to go to work doing what it does best for you by design. If I did not want to wind up weened back to a tablet, this is exactly what I would do with my Nexus 7. Problem is I know that my long-term digital life will never support a desktop PC, laptop, smartphone, *and* a tablet, ever again, so I just as soon not enjoy luxuries that are not sustainable.
The next article goes a step further by suggesting the concept of "micro-uses". In the article The One Huge Thing Everybody Gets Wrong About Tablets the author makes an astute observation that tablets legitimtately exist for dedicated "micro-applications" (my interpretative turn of phrase, not the article's author), which is why they will continue to thrive even after people like me stop buying them for use as internet communication tools. The closest example of this for a regular user might be as a dedicated content device suggested by the first article above, but in a pointed application world, really means for users in specific areas like in marketing or industry venues where a tablet's flat form in combination with custom apps make great sense.
Why Dominos May One Day Give You a Side Order of Tablet, Free
To the latter article's point I actually envision "dedicated" tablets that work like refrigerator magnets in marketing. The example I once explained to someone would involve Pizza Hut or Dominos. When tablets get really cheap, Dominos could build dedicated tablets that they handed out with pizza orders. They might be really small so they could fit on a keychain or, quite literally, stick to the fridge. Some way to keep them powered all the time would be necessary, but assuming that problem gets worked out, they would be pre-programmed to run a dedicated app that allowed people to order a pizza, similar to the way they do using a smartphone app or online from a desktop PC. You see the device, you know it's connected to Dominos, you know it will do the job you have in mind without fuss or muss. That's an example of both articles mentioned above, in combined play.
The poisonous cortisol caused by having a job has begun to finally drain from my body and just as I had hoped there is increasing evidence that I can once again think creatively and express myself. What better example of that evidence, for better or worse, is my first long form post via Medium.
Long form reading is actually as tough as long form writing these days, so ain't nobody gonna read it. But for me to spill out anything longer than a blurb like this on my blog, is a mechanical achievement.
It involves my thoughts on Snowden, the leaker, which I've been notably reserved about making comments on until now. Why should be evident in the piece.
Aw man. I was so close to doing this myself. I even imagined the very press I'd get that this guy is actually getting. In the New York Daily news of all places! I imagined all the actual dates that would roll in, not just because the idea is funny, but also because of the people talking about it. Press cred. Dates with gals who love the joke, that's what's going to happen to him.
Guy Creates Dating Website Where He's the Only Guy
Literally one reason I hadn't done it was that I wasn't positive it wouldn't be more misconstrued as sleazy than funny (the actually sleazy things I've done, well, never mind - topic of a future blog post). I shelved the idea thinking with no real concrete plans to actually do so, that once my role as a comedian were more established to assist the appropriate context, I'd get to work and do it. The fact that this guy is also a comedian is just an extra kick. The fact I'm lumbering around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania looking for a way to pay my bills, and not going through with open mic practice like this guy is probably doing faitfully, is another extra kick, this time in the groin.
Fist bump bro. Brandon Scott is the bomb for having actually followed through with the plan - the thing that makes an idea count so one does not wind up a "waaah-waaah" guy posting like this - and for putting together a sharp You Tube component (I'd have not done that, just don't have the skill or equipment).
Looking over his execution the only differences I see to my own plan are in the domain name and overall tone of the site. I would not haved used my name in the domain, just something like "blahblahblahdating.com". It would look totally normal and run straight, and then I'd campaign it in social media to let the "ah that's so clevers" and related media storm roll in. By running it straight-faced, the idea would be to elevate it to Onion level seriousness. Seeing what he has done, however, I see how being a little campy works to stave off charges that he's just being a creep. He's also a real dude, not a 48-year-old creeper with a pot belly like me, which helps to keep the context going.
My Clean Conscience Hindered by a Guilty One?
I think one reason I took the consequences of the idea so seriously is that I did something close to this that really was kind of eldritch in flavoring. Back in the day, I created what you could call a "dating portal" for myself. It included questions on a form women I drew in from various places around the then much-more-social-web (*cough* Craigslist, for example) would then fill out, all in response to my expressed desire to have certain information before we started talking further. Similar to Scott's site at this point, it included information about me and included pictures.
The messages I used to draw in prospects were built using a back-end form that allowed me to select themes based on the target demographic I wanted to reach at a given moment, and set parameters that delivered that information back to my system if/when they visited, so that questions of a certain nature would be presented in a pre-date questionaire in favor of others. More extroverted candidates might get a racier set than conservative-minded ones, for example. I was, and with just a tint of more maturity these years later, still am, a cross-spectrum dater.
To frustrate circulation of the web page so they couldn't just pass around the URL to their friends or my co-workers for a good laugh (there wasn't much of a social media in those days, but it was still possible) I created a unique "key and expiration" system so that once an invited party viewed it and had the opportunity to answer my questions, they couldn't re-visit. They had one chance to look and respond before the key expired and any return visit just took them to my home page with a polite message to e-mail me if they wanted.
The portal was like a serious dating tool, not a joke (and yes, it worked ... as much as it needed to, anyway). So well, a charming woman I met through it wanted to partner with me in developing it as an app to allow people to officially file application to "know" someone else, a subscriber to the hypothetical service, so that before folks had their friend requests accepted on MySpace and similar services of the day, they would have to visit something like what I had created to "request consideration". The idea being, high value social targets (attractive women in particular), were so inundated by random requests for friendship on MySpace, this system would efficiently sort out who was genuine and who was just maybe looking to stalk.
As a result of all that maybe, I suppose I paid way too much in overhead thinking about how to make sure I was not seen as equally pathetic, or re-building a serious tool, in doing the "It's Only Me Dave" dating site like Scott. All in all something which goes back to a lesson my comedy teacher was keen on imparting: "Check your ego at the door!". Basic comedianship demands it and Scott figured out how to do it.
On that service of mine I just described, by the way, work fell through. I submitted a white paper but was so busy at the time I turned over rights in writing to the woman who wanted to see the idea developed. She registered the domain "applytoknowme.com" in anticipation we were on our way, but I guess she got socked with other things too, as it just never happened.