Really loving the freedom of my WordPress. But it needs some work to make it more readable and pretty. I also think I am going to do a post on the benefits and ease of using WordPress. I think amidst the facebook exodus people don’t realize there are other compelling options out there.
Ahhh modern technology. It’s amazing how things have changed. I remember at about age 8 or 9 I started asking for a Laptop. Inspired by movies like Hackers and War Games I wanted nothing more than to tinker with technology. Every year like clock work I asked for a Laptop. I never did get one as a gift having no concept of how expensive the damn things are.
Years later buying my first compaq I was just so amazed by how amazing of machines they were. Compact, fast, battery powered, the precursor to the modern smart phone for my generation.
Now with smartphones ubiquitous the Laptop market is kind of lame and the unique and sometimes quirky designs of yesteryear are mostly gone. replaced by clinical looking mostly boring machines. however I want to argue to you that these machines are still vastly superior in so many ways to our phones and tablets.
A Tinkerer’s dream
A phone is like a nearly useless brick to a tinkerer. Sure you can write some apps for it and such. But most of the phone the heart and soul of it are locked down and totally inaccessible. Not to mention even writing apps for it are a total pain in the ass.
A phone is usually 98% of the time sealed. you can barely get to the chipset without destroying the whole phone. It cannot be upgraded or modified in really any useful way. Even though you can tinker with changing the case design and such the real meat and potatoes are beyond your reach.
On screen keyboards are one of the most dastardly developments ever. I have ten fingers but your only allowing me to use my thumbs? and your going to take up half of my screen to type? ugh!
A laptop can (with a little training) be very safely opened and modified in many useful ways. Memory upgrades, chipset upgrades, motherboard replacements are all well within reach. You can do lighting mods and extend all kinds of things. A full and comfortable keyboard and trackpad give you all of your screen real estate.
If you run some varient of GNU/Linux the entire os is open to you. You can modify the operating system right down to it’s heart and actually reprogram your environment if you have the know how. And if your just learning to program you can read the source code that makes up the system you are using. You computer literally because a library of information on how to engineer software.
You can buy a new Iphone X for nearly 1,000$ USD. A really good laptop will run you about 700$ and is way more powerful than an Iphone. It almost makes no sense at all. Why would I spend so much on a device that I am going to get rid of in 2 years when I could by a device that is orders of magnitude more powerful and could last me nearly 5 – 10 years?
What I have done is basically buy a cheap low – mid range smart phone and really refocus my money on my laptop which is where the bulk of my work happens. I can even make calls from my laptop. The phone is only used in situations where a laptop isn’t convenient like a car or walking down the street. don’t be duped! Laptops are getting cheaper all the time. Get one that fits your style and purpose, one that is compact with good battery life. Put it to use and I think you will see that phones are really not all they are cracked up to be… Well unless you drop it then it will be cracked for sure.
as I shoveled this morning I stopped to watch the sun come down through the trees to gently melt the snow. Which fell in tiny snow showers in the sunlight. And I thought. “This world is so beautiful that unless you lived to actually see it, you would never believe such beauty could actually exist.”
I tried some ereaders and platforms. Hopefully this post will save you a lot of time.
an ereader is basically useless without a platform for it to install books from. Without a platform you are essentially side loading books. It becomes very complicated because with DRM you will be signing up for adobe DRM accounts and the like. side loading books from a store that you purchased if very from ideal. So I suggest first of all you pick an ereader that is tied to a ebook store of some kind.
Kobo does a good job with their store layout. It’s very uncluttered. Also a big mark in their favor is that they offer books in multiple formats. Epub, PDF. This will allow you to switch between platforms if you really want without to much fuss at all. If you want to go to a non Kobo reader it’s no problem as long as you use Adobe DRM you can save them to your computer and side load them to any reader that supports PDF or EPub. For me where things fell apart is that they just don’t have the selection of other stores. also if you want magazines/newspapers the selection is fairly limited. It’s a fine store if your primary focus is books. If you want to venture outside of that is where you will start to be limited. However you never have to be tied to just Kobo if you have a non-Kobo reader. Another notch in their belt is they do a good job at providing information about your reading habits. you can find out how long it’s going to take to get to the end of the chapter or the end of the book right in the app. It’s kind of helpful. Do I have enough time on break to get into this next chapter or should I save it for later?
It’s really hard to rate something that is so synonymous with ebooks. I have attempted to not rate things against it but let it sit among it’s peers. I don’t like the layout of this store very much. There is just too much text and menus everywhere for me. However the selection is top notch. One big criticism I have is that all of these books are in proprietary AZW format. No epubs here so you are either stuck with a kindle or a tablet with the kindle app installed.
Barnes and Noble rating:
I really like the layout of the nook store and I like some of their reader tools like Readouts. I have a similar criticism to kindle here. They are using some kind of epub but there is no way to download it. So again you are stuck with either a nook reader or a nook app on a tablet. No side loading on to their party readers.
Tablet VS E-Ink
If all you are going to do is read books then I strongly suggest e-ink. It has unparalleled battery life, readability, and device life. An e-ink device because it is simple and performs a very basic function could be usable for years and years. However if reading beyond the ebooks in the provided library is something you want to do be warned. PDF reading is very clunky, magazine reading is similarly clunky on these devices. page refreshes are slow and pictures are grainy and are drawn poorly. Most e-ink devices suffer from previous images or text being left when the pages are turned. So you have some hazing when reading magazines or PDF files.
If you would like to go beyond books into magazines, multimedia, and PDF files then a tablet is a must. A tablet will have faster page refresh rates, better image reproduction, and can play video and do web browsing. However a tablet will not last as well as the hardware quickly gets antiquated and basic functions become painful.
My favorite tablet
I want to like the kindle fire but it’s such a pain in the neck. It’s slow, I find that it’s slow even when reading a book. I also really don’t like the display for reading. there is just something about how it displays text that I don’t like all that much. I will say I was using the 5th generation so things might have improved. The other thing I didn’t like is that there is no google play store. So you are stuck with Kindle apps unless you hack together google play. Even when I tried the hack some apps just didn’t work from google play.
Nook ereader 7
I have much the same problem with this as I do the kindle fire it’s slow. However it does have google play so I was able to run both nook, kindle and kobo apps on there which allows me to shop around for ebooks a bit. I like this display for reading a bit more than the Kindle fire 5th Gen screen. Although I like it no where near as much as an e-ink for reading.
For my money I like the nook ereader. because to me my ereader doesn’t replace having physical books. I use it for magazines, PDF files some light web browsing and those times where you just cannot wait for a book. The only books I tend to buy are those that are cheap, I am only going to read once, and that I don’t want to wait on. I suggest people leave room in their life for the real books. I don’t think you could get a tablet in the range of these kindle and nook devices that would actually work as good as they do. However if you are more in the market for a tablet spend a bit more and get a real tablet.
Over the past several week there have been stories in the news of children being injured or killed at the hands of their parents. In these cases as in others the parents religious or perceived religious beliefs have been conflated with their actions.
First I will say that in all religions there are people with mental illness. They occasionally do things that are very unfortunate but consistent with their mental illness. Sometimes these things take the shape of seeming religious ritual. However their religion really has nothing to do with it other than it’s an aspect of their life that is also being effected by their mental illness.
However the media likes to sensationalize this idea and so peoples only experience of religions like Vudo is of people getting murdered in “rituals”. This runs totally counter to what is the normal in the Vudo community. You have kind loving people raising their families and taking care of their community. Then every now and then someone with a mental illness hurts someone and suddenly the entire Vudo community gets hamstrung with it.
In the other case the Woman was clearly delusional but reporters have no problem with calling what she was doing as ritual. I take issue with this completely from an anthropological perspective. This was not a devotional act tied to a system of religious belief. This was a desperate act by someone who has a mental illness. Stop mixing the two together. For it to have been a ritual then it would have had to have been a structured or practice act of religious belief.
The problems with these articles is that they breed fear among people of majority faiths against minority faiths that they don’t know much about. They might start thinking that all Vudu practitioners are dangerous or that all Witches are dangerous. These reporters need to make sure they are absolutely clear when dealing with minority faiths. That these kinds of acts are absolutely not consistent with these forms of religions. That this is a fringe case. We should have heard more voices of the people in the Vudo community in the article. In the case of the other women there wasn’t anyone to interview because her ideas were totally imagined.
I would ask people of majority faiths please when you hear stories like this try to keep everything in perspective. Try to do some research if possible or reach out to people from these faiths if you need a better understanding. Then hopefully these incidents will become opportunities for dialog rather than stoking peoples fears.
I downloaded my copy this morning and the CD is on the way. So far really love the music. Stellar producing and a well chosen track list that really highlights Sonya’s voice. Also I liked that a lot of this is not the typical tracks you would see on a Verdi album. So some of this material was really due for a new release like this. I might do a full review after I listen to it a few times.
What facebook was and what it’s become:
I joined facebook about 6 years ago. back then it was a pretty simple site. there was chat and the feed. The primary point of having facebook was to keep up with what your friends were doing, coordinate get togethers, and post the occasional funny video. The only people on facebook were your immediate friends and it was more or less a casual atmosphere.
Over time the advertisers came in. Then all of our parents and employers. Facebook instituted this policy where they were cracking down on making sure profiles were not anonymous. there was a huge drive to monetizing the platform. Along with all this came news outlets and businesses just ready to annoy the hell out of everyone.
Facebook in their wisdom tried experimenting on their users to see if they could manipulate their moods. There was a lot of outrage but few people left. Facebook has also tried several experiments to try and fix their news feeds and to try and get people to interact that would not normally do so.
Where we are at:
At this point my feed is essentially a huge mess of inspiration quotes and complaining. There is post after post of political mumbojumbo from totally disreputable sources. The comments laden with hateful, ignorant arguments that are more shouting than constructive conversations. People who in normal social contexts would get along fine are now total jerks who I can barely stand.
For months I would only log in to check one or two things that I regularly monitor but I would always get dragged into something that annoyed me. The one day I though “why the hell is this site holding me hostage? Why am I on a site that makes me angry and annoyed when there are better ways to talk to my friends? Ways that are more personal and more social then a damn website?”
So just like that out of the blue I left. I have my blog for random musings which I am planning on using more now that I am off facebook. And I also have more time to actually do stuff I care about not to mention not being annoyed multiple times a day by the stuff I was reading.
People do not understand how scary their phones are. I see people doing all kinds of crazy stuff on them. If you are going to use your phone as your every day computer then you should at least know about what it’s doing to you. Take a read of the link below.
If you are not a technologist please just hang on a second because this is important for you too. So what is net neutrality in a nut shell? It’s making sure that all users have an open and consistent access to resources on the internet. The internet is essentially just a platform that delivers data to your computer. Your ISP ( cable company, telco) controls the flow of data to your house because they sit directly between you and the internet.
What net neutrality is proposing is that we make sure that all resources on the internet are treated equally so that nothing is given precedence over anything else. This is really important for start ups and small businesses.
To draw an analogy what would happen if a law was passed allowing power companies to set special prices for certain devices. So a Samsung fridge what cost less per kilowatt hour to run than a GE or something. This would be terrible because it skews the market unfairly. However this is the sort of thing that would happen if net neutrality is lost.
Some of the proposals in the past:
Some of the things that have already either have been tried or proposed are
Internet Fast Lanes: Essentially this means that some resources would be faster to access than others. For instance google search would return quicker and would load faster than other search providers.
Data Content throttling: This is where an ISP will monitor their users and if they see someone streaming video or using other high bandwidth applications they will downgrade their connection to a slower connection. The reasoning is that supposedly they say they are trying to save on bandwidth. The actual reasoning is terrible and convoluted I won’t go into it here but you could read this : FCC can’t stop throttling
Internet Channels: There has been some discussion in the past and proposals to set up the internet in such a way where there would be certain premium websites you would have to subscribe to (almost like cable television channels) and then other sites would just be at a degraded bandwidth.
The current issue:
The problem right now is with the FCC reclassifying the internet as an information service rather than a telecommunication service. The FCC wrote a great article so I will let them tell the story. DEAR FCC: WE SEE THROUGH YOUR PLAN TO ROLL BACK REAL NET NEUTRALITY
They also created a site to contact the FCC about your concerns. I recommend you use it.