Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?
I don’t need to agree to at least witness the art. If money is going to change hands then the rules are different. If I’m going to pay someone for their artwork then either we should be compatible or they should remain as much a mystery to me as possible. I don’t like gun-toting crazy-eyed conservatives who wear three-point hats and kvetch about government tyranny. Looking is free or covered by a door charge for the event, but buying requires more.
Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?
There is two distinct levels of cringe. The first is rather quite pleasant and that is Schadenfreude. When someone gets what they have coming to them, usually in spades, it’s actually a delight. Few things are finer than being witness to a hearty comeuppance.
The second form, which I’ve witnessed in romantic comedies and certain other dark-humor comedies tends to trot out the agony and the awkwardness and projects it in full fidelity right into you. It’s unpleasant and usually breaks the comedic force that it was trying to carry. Movies like Bridesmaids and anything starring Will Ferrell pretty much fall into this category. At first it comes across as foolish and sophomoric and then quickly dissolves into cringe squick. If I can avoid witnessing this second form, I’ll take the opportunity.
If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?
I can’t really see how this could end well. The pill would have to be one hell of a complicated mess in order to stuff everything you need into it. This doesn’t even go on with the notion that you’d be losing an incredible amount of pleasure – why stay alive if you can’t enjoy all the varied textures and flavors that food has to offer? I can’t see people salivating over a pill, yearning for the taste which probably is nil and the aftertaste or burp-up which has got to be rather nasty.
On a quite other level, it does put shame to your teeth. Why have them if all you need to do is swallow a pill? I suppose this would be good for people who have ALS and are trapped in their bodies, it would make nutrition at least possible if they’ve lost the ability to chew. For anyone else though, it seems a terrible waste of life’s fleeting pleasures.
Every once in a while I run across something I’ve seen before but ignored accidentally until I see it in great big headlines and neon and stop to pay attention to it and discover that it does something I really really want. This particular afternoon it was the product Slogger from Brett Terpstra. The software is a Ruby script, and Ruby is a delightful programming language that I’ve had the pleasure of dabbling in. Nowhere near the level of Brett and the people who help him, but here and there, little things.
The need came from a simple Google query, IFTTT and Day One. Looking for some way to bridge that divide between the automatic web service that I’ve fallen in love with, IFTTT and Day One, the journaling software that works quite well and renders DropBox a “Killer App”. Dropbox is the glue that keeps my Day One system together, on my laptop, my desktop, and all my mobile devices. When I found Slogger it was a definite Eureka moment, the answer all in one place. I downloaded the code as the author describes and tried to set it up.
Monumental fail. Pieces everywhere, error codes puking on the screen faster than I could read, pages and pages of interpreter and compiler errors, all surrounding one “Ruby Gem” module called hpricot. I knew why this was fail-town for me, it was because I had installed XCode CLI tools in order to get the mac_google_authenticator PAM module built. That CLI package rendered my system retarded when it came to processing gem requests. In the Ruby world there is a system established for distributing software written in Ruby, it’s called ‘gem’ and you run it much like apt-get in Ubuntu, it’s really quite straightforward and never has given me fits – until. Everything was complicated by the fact that I couldn’t really find where XCode was on my machine, all the likely targets to search didn’t have anything relevant and my find command returned pages of errors and I didn’t have the patience to pick through a thousand lines of “Permission Denied” to find the one spot where the file was hidden.
Didn’t need to complain, as I knew the solution. Download XCode for real. So off to Apple, download the monster and install it. That satisfied hpricot, and everything else installed quite nicely. I set Slogger up, pointed it at my Dropbox and configured the plugins that I wanted. The initial run crashed and burned but I figured out why, it was an errant space in the line that points to the Day One folder, a symbolic link fixed that and I was again off to the races. Of all the plugins that I configured these were successful:
Then there were the plugins I tried to configure but couldn’t:
The primary problem with the fitbit plugin was that fitgem, the Ruby assistant program that you have to install is a phantom. You install it, it’s successful, and then it’s gone. No trace of it exists. You try again, poof, nowhere. Plus for the plugin setup there are API codes, User codes, and oAuth codes. I get the reasoning behind all of them and getting most of them was not an issue. I felt a little awkward creating an “Application” for just myself, it seems kind of a waste of effort to ferret all these bits and peices into a semiformal request procedure, but doing it wasn’t hard or cost anything, so what the hell. The part where it all falls apart for fitbit is where you have to get the oAuth token, since fitgem never worked and it’s invocation from slogger should have opened a web browser and asked for my approval, all of that never happened. I tried to be sporting and do the heavy lifting myself but all I did was irritate the API for fitbit and I figured, what the hell, I got most of what I was after and moved the fitbit plugin into the “unused” folder and forgot all about it. Abandon ship, y’arrrr!
Flickr is a pain in the ass. It’s Yahoo and as such, it’s kind of an Internet leper. You need your Flickr number, there’s a site that makes that easy, except it doesn’t work. Flickr username? Feh, either the one in Flickr or your linked Yahoo ID is meaningless. I half figured it was in the URL anyways, but then I thought about it and I don’t really use Flickr all that much beyond a solitary IFTTT rule and that’s precarious as it is. The only attractive part of Flickr is they gave out 1TB of storage. Still lepers tho. So, abandon ship! Y’arrrrr!
GetGlue was the last great effort. Much like Klout, it’s a site that makes sense sort of, but the name is utterly silly. GetGlue. What the hell? Why? Glue has nothing to do with TV or Movies. The only connection I could think of was celluloid and horses-processed-into-glue sort of connection. They give away stickers, what a wonderful bit of pollution that is, and as a gimmick seems dumb. The plugin needs an RSS feed for the GetGlue Activity Stream. It appears as though the GetGlue folks have moved away from RSS and towards “widgets” which seems stupid as in this application RSS is the answer and widgets are worthless. Alas, Google searching for the RSS feed method was fruitless. I was half hoping for something like http://getglue.com/user/bluedepth/feed.rss, where I could just craft it up and be on my merry way. No. You have to “View Source” to find it, which is stupid because that is so full of CSS flotsam and jetsam as to be utterly incomprehensible. Again, my ardor for that particular service was fog on a hot day. I don’t need it. I don’t use it. Whatever! Abandon ship! y’arrrrr!
So I tried the slogger script, it failed, tore out fitbit goop and then it worked. Then I went into my Day One app and mopped up all the mess that testing had made. The only oddity I noticed was the BlogLogger completely missed out on the text on my WordPress site that was between pre tags. Meh. Not really a reason to kick the entire thing to the curb, just something to honestly stop using. HTML is a right bastard, almost all of the time. CSS is a filthy abomination, but we won’t go there.
I would say that tonight everything will work as it should for Slogger, but I have to race to work tonight to turn everything off because work is going to exit-stage-left when it comes to the Internet. They are turning the entire thing off, at least for a few hours. I can’t wait for tomorrow, there will be lulz.
So, to Mr. Terpstra, thank you for slogger. I’m sorry the plugins didn’t work, that fitgem was a phantom, but at least most of what I wanted worked. So we sound a victory cheer, sort of. Yaaay!
Byword, one of my favorite apps for the Mac and for my iOS devices just upgraded to version 2.0. They have included publishing to blog platforms as a Premium feature and used the Mac App Store or iOS to distribute the added functionality for $4.99. So far I love this app and this was one of those features that I’ve been dying for, so I’m quite pleased. I can do all my writing using Byword and not have to worry about distractions or anything on the screen getting in the way of my writing. It’s all clear, clean, and simple.
The last post to my WordPress blog about Invention was written using Byword 2.0 and I’m quite impressed with it. I could suggest some other enhancements like enumerating the Category list and suggesting possible tags in WordPress posting, but I will take what I can get from the get-go. One thing that was a little dismaying, but not a show stopper was that the purchase of the Premium add-on only works for the App Store that matches the platform you are buying it for. The Premium add-on for Mac App Store is separate from the one for the iOS App Store. Their support was very clear and I pretty much assumed so even before I wrote to support, I just wanted to be sure. Frankly I could give or take the extra features on my iPad or my iPhone as Drafts works brilliantly there along with Poster app on those devices. Drafts hands off to Poster well enough without having to worry about buying Byword 2.0 Premium again for the iOS App Store. I bought the add-on for the Mac App Store because that’s where, when I blog on my Laptop or on my iMac, this will be the app that I’ll use to blog.
The only irking thing, and it’s not really anything really overwrought is the lack of pick lists and tag suggestions for WordPress, but I have faith that eventually they might take their software in that direction. Only time will tell, and developers.
To what extent is your blog a place for your own self-expression and creativity vs. a site designed to attract readers? How do you balance that? If sticking to certain topics and types of posts meant your readership would triple, would you do it?
My blog serves my own interests, as I use it as a soapbox to express myself to anyone who cares to read. I don’t actively seek out readers, as I blog principally to journal my travel through this lifetime. If I pick up readers, and they enjoy reading what I have to write, that’s a value added extra, a happy touch of serendipity but that is where it starts and ends. I refuse to pander to the hated phrase “SEO” which I find distasteful and repugnant. Who cares if the search engines find my drivel, I’m the last person who wants to game the system. I’m just here to talk into the darkness. I find that very comforting, as the darkness is a great listener.
I don’t and I won’t “monetize” my blog because that, along with the general notion of advertising makes me feel like my work is being turned into bait for a trap than worth anything on it’s own. There is a difference between a pat of cheese and something really worth pursuing. One of those is just there laying on a trigger in a trap. No ads, no money, just my drivel standing on it’s own with all the attendant misuses of grammar, spelling, and general gleeful disrespect for English. As I have said before, English is a whore, screw her, then push her down the MC Escher staircase.
If you enjoy reading this drivel, thanks, for what it’s worth.
Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content its users post, or should users have complete freedom? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?
Ever since I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum I have been absolutely absorbed by his wonderful multicultural work in regards to the Golden Rule. I’ve given it frequent and long consideration and I firmly believe that the wisdom of the Golden Rule is really the only one single rule that any conscious sentient being needs for proper conduct in life. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This wisdom occurs in other phrases from other cultures and they all share this core comparison dynamic. This is the central pillar on which a service like Facebook would be best organized with.
If a user posts a “Rape Picture” glorifying or lampooning violence against women for example, the central consideration should be how this particular bit of imagery lies on the balance scale of the Golden Rule. Violating the rule doesn’t have to end in a lot of histrionics, instead it can simply be marked to be not shared. Don’t tear it down, as that would upset people about their First Amendment Rights, but rather instead just fail to share it. Mark the failed share as “Golden Rule Violation” and be done with it. It’ll appear on the persons own wall as if it was shared, but nobody else sees it.
If someone wants to fight a violation based on the Golden Rule, then they can certainly try to assert why sharing such things are important. It’s been my experience that when you try to justify breaking the Rule, the raw level of absurdity that you run into (nee hypocrisy) makes any argument worthless to pursue.
What will the next must-have technological innovation be? Jetpacks? Hoverboards? Wind-powered calculators?
The next great technological innovation will be synthetic emotional personalities that will be embedded in our mobile devices. Right now for iOS and Android (the two real competing smartphone operating systems) there are “personal assistants”, like Siri for iOS. I only use iOS so I can only speak to my experience of using Siri. Siri is a great start, but it is pretty much a simple voice-based macro interpreter. She picks up only syntactical chunks and tries her best to interpret what the user wants, and appears to be “neat” because she’s arranged in a way where if we speak “plainly” she “gets what we want”. The problem with Siri is she has no emotional life on her own. She’s a personality that is brand new each time a human being engages with it. Even when describing Siri you feel it’s more appropriate to use it than her – and that’s where the next innovation is going to address.
How can you change an “It” to a “Her” or “Him”? It takes memory, appropriate emotional responses, and in many ways, almost all the way to a synthetic consciousness. Humans are creatures of wild exception, that is what we excel at. Humans are clever, imaginative, we have memories and motives and we have knacks and talents that let us handle wild exceptions that drive technology bonkers. We can do things that technology cannot, like contemplate the nature of existence, ask “What is the purpose of life?” and so on and so forth. These abilities we have allow us to handle exceptions that technology just fails to address directly and often times simply. Humans just “get it” and “get what we mean”. There isn’t any battle over context, no agreement/gender problems as we can consume signal and noise and handle them both gracefully. This is going to be the central pillar that these new synthetic systems have to master. You hit a button and your personalized assistant, whom you’ve named, remembers all the previous things you’ve discussed with them and have access to a gigantic index of human experience to draw from in order to understand something like “Open a new file for the saint louis file company. Also, remind me sometime later about my dry cleaning and around 7ish, call my husband and find out when we are heading to Missouri.” In many ways, we have an already existent mockup of what this is all about, and that is Marvel’s Jarvis. For these advanced synthetic personalities requests like these, the requests of lists, rambling, verbal noise like “oops, no not that…” do not end up with failure but are accepted in stride. With these synthetic personalities it may also serve as an entryway to automated education and even elder companionship. You have a relationship with Jarvis and he helps you do things, you live longer because you have a relationship with a machine that is nearly indistinguishable from another person and so there is a reason to live to see another day.
It’s a collision between human ingenuity, laziness, creativity, and our drive to be social creatures. We’ll create these synthetics because the rewards will be worth the costs of development. Imagine having a durable piece of technology with you (or inside you) that you can talk to, that can assist you in times of trouble. Nobody would kidnap a child with one of these synthetics attached to them. The synthetic would find a way to connect to the Internet and know exactly where the child is and what state they are in. It would eliminate a lot of these sorts of crimes and could possibly also banish loneliness as a complaint in our world. You won’t ever have to be alone again with Jarvis in your life.
Tell us about a time where everything you’d hoped would happen actually did.
The most recent moment where this came true was when I had a problem at work with my primary file server. It had been giving everyone fits for a while and I suspected there might be something wrong with the storage system. My system support specialist ran a check and found that indeed there was a deep logic problem in the storage system. It wasn’t earth-shattering but it did require a fair bit of white-knuckle “file system check” routines that had me on edge for about two hours. I was of course hoping that the deep repairs that I had started would end up all for the best with the corrected file system in a functional and error-free state. Thankfully the “file system check” did exactly that. It took a while, a bit of white-knuckle, but I landed squarely on my feet and I was very thankful to the Gods of Technology for blessing me with an easy fix. It wasn’t that the check was going to blow up in my face, but if it didn’t go well, it would have eaten a week of my life. Thankfully that didn’t happen. It all worked out for the best.