Posts tagged “technology

It’s alive! It’s ALIVE!

The hot topic of the moment is the death of Osama Bin Laden. I despise posting about politics, world events and current news because everyone and their mother does nowadays but I find it mildly amusing that I first heard about it via social media (ie Facebook) rather than press media. I’ve often thought social media would be the death knell of journalism. While many news outlets have embraced social media, I don’t they they fully realize the ramifications. I think the term “Breaking News” will become kind of forgotten in the near future. Journalists will have to start protecting their sources and leads with an unprecedented level of security if they ever hope to have an exclusive. The way things can go viral on the Internet is baffling. Information spreads like wildfire – much quicker than television so if journalism ever hopes to survive it has to adapt accordingly. For the most part it has. Much better than the music industry did, that’s for sure.

I think back to the late 90’s when MP3 technology got mixed together with the World Wide Web. It was the greatest combination since chocolate and peanut butter. MP3 downloads rocked the music industry. They weren’t ready for it and never anticipated its impact in the long run. Some musicians saw it as a Godsend having their previously unreleasable(?) work suddenly opened up to a global audience. It opened doors and put people’s names out there. Unfortunately there were those whose names we do not speak lest we be hit with a lawsuit for speaking the truth  that  saw it as a gross violation of their sovereignty. I can understand their point of view to an extent but when an artist puts out a 17 track CD – 15 of which are garbage songs – who’s getting robbed? Who was paying $20 bucks for one or two songs? Who was being treated unfairly? Thankfully in the mid 2000’s pay-per-song became a resolution that both sides could gladly agree with. The music industry is still licking its wounds from their gross underestimation of the power of the Internet.

I’m not a hippie. I’m a fan of technology and make a living off it like millions of others. My bone of contention lies in our utter dependence on it right now. It already killed the classic library experience. Those of you who are old enough to remember, think back to when you were in grade school and had to do reports or research something. There wasn’t a one-click information sewer that you could extract what you needed from. You had to actually go to a building that stored many books that you could either read there or “rent” for a while. It saddens me that many children don’t even know the true purpose of a library. They see it as a place for free WiFi and that’s what’s scary. I’ve said it time and time again, one day everything will crash. It doesn’t even have to be a permanent thing. Just a week. A day. Heck, even an hour. Imagine an hour where global Internet communication and access is unavailable. Imagine all of the businesses, services and telecommunications that would crumble.  It’s not as outlandish as you may think and it’s a concept that many choose to brush to the wayside rather than give it a second thought.

Between the 17th and the 19th of April hackers broke into the Playstation and Qriocity Networks and stole the account information of literally millions of people. Passwords, account names, personal data and even rumored credit card information were all exposed and assumed stolen. The intrusion disrupted service for the past couple of weeks, caused a public relations nightmare for Sony and is probably costing them millions in damage control. This was just a gaming and a media network affected. Imagine if something far more expansive were to happen to vital network. What then? I don’t mean to come off like CNN with a Fear and Propaganda campaign, but it is food for thought.

No one ever thinks about anything until it happens.

That’s why I’m stoked for when we go post-apocalyptic. I’ve been planning for that for a long time now. 😀

Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working.

It’s been a while, eh?

I’ve actually been posting regularly… just not here. Most have my ramblings have come from the inexhaustible source of being in a new land. It’s still Canada but seems so foreign at times. Of course I can just babble on and on about the sights I see, people I meet and delicacies I try but in the end my life comes right back to where I dread – this bloody computer. It’s not even my work station. It’s Suzanne’s manic depressive Dell laptop. I’d like to say I’m a victim of my own choices but the term victim implies circumstances that are beyond one’s control. I’m just a guy who’s stuck in an inescapable rut.

It’s a sickening feeling for a creative person to not feel creative. I used to draw a lot. Constantly even. It didn’t matter what the content was, I sketched, inked and colored any kind of content. Lately however I’ve been losing that urge more and more. Last month I forced myself to draw something for Halloween. Something for myself. A project for my own delight and to see if I still “had it”. It was somewhat difficult to get back into the driver’s seat. Doing creative work for others for the past decade or so almost made me forget how to be creative for myself. I produced a piece of digi-art that I (of course) wasn’t all that impressed with despite many compliments from those who saw them. Yes. I’m one of those temperamental artists who is never satisfied with anything I make and always strives for perfection. Since perfection is an unobtainable goal, I’m forever overly critical of myself and bust my hump harping on even the slightest details. Some say that’s a good thing because it always forces you to put out quality work. I say it drains the very life out of me.

You see that perfectionist attitude transcended into my job as well. While many of you may think web design and graphic illustration are a natural fit for my skill set, let me make something very clear – I can’t stand it. In the beginning I did it because it was an easy way to earn a buck . I wasn’t making as much as the talentless hacks that slap a blotch of dog shit on canvas and call it art so I made a game time decision to make the transition. Back in the early days of web & graphic design just applying some aesthetic cohesion to a site amidst the sea of animated .gifs and scrolling marquees made a huge difference. All it took was just learning how HTML code and brushing up on some JavaScripting. Flash forward twelve years or so and now we have dozens of web programming languages, more browsers than you can shake a stick at and all kinds of web elements you have to be aware of as a designer. Not to mention the fact that we’re a mobile dominated society all of a sudden so you have to design for that platform as well. There are so many nuances to web design now that it takes more time making sure what you put out is compatible than it takes to design it. I for the life of me can’t understand why programming, scripting and web languages aren’t placed in the same echelon as linguistic languages. I’m multi-lingual by those standards. I’ve learned so many different electronic languages that I can’t even speak or write English too well at times. It’s far more knowledge than I ever anticipated I’d have to learn and at times I regret knowing what I know.

I guess I lost my motivation with the advent of Flash. Flash and I have always been at odds with one another. I’ve been using it casually since about 2000 or so. I remember I was on a long train ride to Buffalo, NY sitting next to an older gentleman who had his laptop out. I couldn’t help but glance over at his screen. He knew I was looking and casually introduced me to Flash animation. It was smooth. It was fancy. It’s was flashy… hence the name. It was unlike anything on the web at the time. I remember him saying to me “this is going to change the web in less than 5 years”. I didn’t think much of it at the time but in hindsight he couldn’t have been any more correct. It did change the internet. How? It gave number nerds and people with otherwise no ability to create anything from scratch the ability to dazzle and delight simply by learning how to use the scripting language the program used (called Actionscript). Yes, all those tech-heads who were stagnated doing back-end coding for e-commerce websites and such suddenly had an outlet for their uncanny ability to program and crunch numbers. That lead to the second coming of the ghastly .GIF Nightmare of ’98 which I so aptly dubbed the Flash Abuse Agenda. Traditional web programming was cast to the wayside in favor of the new hip and happening Flash-heavy websites. I like Flash. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very useful and powerful web element that has it’s place. Unfortunately when any yokel can bust out some awesomeness simply by being good at math, it kind of took the passion out of it for me.

Who needs creativity when you can program, right?

And so I sit here, in front of this crappy laptop, learning new things in order to keep pace with the ever-changing Net world. I complain, bitch, moan and vent but I get the job done. I made my bed and I’m sleeping in it. It’s when people stop working expect the world to stop and hear them whine where I draw the line. I criticize and vent towards the faceless masses because if I didn’t, I’d be on the front page of some local newspaper with my jacket covering my head as I’m lead away in handcuffs. Everyone bitches to someone about their job. I just do it here so I can get it off my chest and move on. I guess my animosity can be construed as jealously or resentment towards those who simply adapted to the changing times and took advantage of what was in front of them but it’s not about that. I harbor no ill feelings towards anyone who can earn a dollar by doing some work. How can you? I’m more pissed with myself for falling into this inescapable pit of net advancement. Sometimes I just wish I didn’t get so dejected when I got turned down by Marvel at the tender age of 16 for being too young. I couldn’t process it at the time that they only said I was too young, not untalented or unworthy. I just took it as plain ole’ rejection and got it into my mind that I’d never be able to do what I love to do and get paid for it.

If only I knew then what I know now. Isn’t that the story of life?

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

Everybody on here has something to say about Facebook whether it’s positive or derogatory. It’s been a bone of contention with me ever since my wife lured me onto it a few years ago. I am a very isolated person. I’m not this way because I’m a socially devoid uber-nerd with no way of expressing myself. Believe it or not I choose to not have many friends. Friend is a term people use far to loosely these days. It takes quite a resume for me to consider a person a friend. My guideline is typically a simple one. Anyone can be a fair-weather friend when things are going well. If you’ve been with me through the bad times you’re either bad luck or a good friend. People think that if you’ve had a single conversation with an individual that you’re instantaneously considered a friend.

I was making the usual “social media” rounds the other day when I made my usual stop on Facebook. The geniuses behind the scenes there feel that because I listed Thomas A. Edison Technical and Vocational High School Class of ’93 as my high school that I should be “friends” with everyone and anyone who graduated that year. Seriously? Are you kidding me? Let’s be real here. I was no angel in high school nor was I the most popular. Check that, I was sorta popular but with people other than the popular people.

Does that make sense?

For four years I rolled with a clique of people that I considered friends. For privacy’s sake I won’t name names but more than likely if you come sauntering over to this post from Facebook you know who you are. In high school you vow to be friends forever because for many, at that point in time, high school life is your life. Unfortunately life determines your friends and I unfortunately lost contact with many, if not all, of the chaps I used to hang out with on a daily basis. This is where I sing the praises of Facebook (for at least a sentence or two). The last couple of years has allowed me to reunite with a bunch of the old guys. It’s cool to see how they’ve aged and developed as individuals. While things can never be as they once were I thank Facebook for being the tool that made finding them possible. That’s all Facebook is. A tool. Status updates, witty comments, shared links and picture posts don’t make people friends.

I sat there and went over the 80 something people I have on my list. The majority are family. While there are a handfulA small portion are clients. The few that remain are what I do or have considered friends at some point in life. Friends – real friends – will always find you at some point in your life one way or another. Technology these days just makes it easier to track them down now. We managed to keep in touch with our buddies somehow prior to the Internet so why should you be tethered to it now?

To my massive graduating class at good ole Thomas Edison, if I hung out with you then then you’re probably on my list. If we didn’t then why in the hell would I want to have you as a “friend” now? Because we share a commonality in the place we graduated? I give Facebook credit for allowing you to group your associates now. Next time you’re there see how many people you can actually put into a legitimate friends group. You might be shocked at the result.

Thank you and have a pleasant tomorrow!

All in all this has really not been a very pleasant day.

Something must be afoot. It’s been days since my last post. I know, I know… all of my millions and millions of fans must be waiting with bated breath wondering what new and incredible insights I’m going to grace WordPress with. Okay so there’s nothing true about anything in that statement other than “I’m” and the only thing I have to say is in regards to the lovely men and women at the United Parcel Service.

So I  had a discussion with my father last week. Years ago, when I was last in NY I had started building a computer. It was a great system (at the time). It was going to be my new weapon to inflict massive amounts of graphic design damage upon the world. But as life would have it, certain circumstances arose where the construction of that computer had to be put on hold. Pressing real life matters forced me abandon my project in mid construction. Flash forward to present day my father and I came up with the idea of him shipping the partially constructed monster beast to us before we leave for Nunavut. It made sense. I could put it together and have it shipped up to our new frozen home with all out other belongings. Who could handle such a task? Certainly not the conventional mail systems. We’ve had nightmare encounters with the United States Postal Service and inviting Canada Post into the mix is a recipe for disaster. Who then, dammit? Who?

What can brown do for you?

Of course! UPS! I’ve used their postal service for years and have always had good results. They’re quick and reliable. It seemed like the logical choice.


My father brought everything down to the UPS Store and did the right thing – or least what we thought was the right thing – and had them pack up the components. He explicitly told the dedicated worker that it was a computer and needed to be marked fragile and handled with care. He was met with a warm smile and the classic reassurance of “No problem.”

The packages arrived very quickly. Heck I don’t even think it took more than 3 days (and that wasn’t express shipping or anything). When I heard the knock at my door I was jazzed. I was finally going to be reunited with my Frankenstein. When the driver handed me the packages I saw that they were a little dinged but that’s expected with long distance travel. Lo and behold when I opened the box containing my hard drives and case I was horrified…

Yeah… my case was wrecked. The entire front panel had snapped off  from the case itself and the top portion was completely shattered. With the aid of some Krazy glue and a bungee chord (yeah I MacGuyver with the best of them) I managed to glue the pieces back together. My hard drives were in an sorry state as well. I had three mounted in it… securely mounted I might add. The one in the drive bay was totally jarred from it’s spot and was inside the case acting like a battering ram to the motherboard. Apparently one of the mounting brackets was bent so severely during transit that it quite literally fell out of its spot. Whatever volleyball game they were playing with my rig must have been a good one because the hits that rattled the first drive loose must have been so violent that they broke 2 of the 4 screws that had one of my other drives mounts. It dangled precariously as if holding on for dear life.

So the what’s final prognosis? Well my monitor works at least. I have to wait on my CPU cooler to arrive before I can assemble everything and test out my board and drives. So it’s the waiting game once again. I should be livid at this point in time but the move has me properly distracted enough. There’s a disturbing annual trend that’s starting to develop every October now. I seem to be destined to have something screw up in the spooky month. Last year I had tried to get some custom t-shirts ordered for my wedding but that fell through right at crunch time. Long story short, I was out $350 four weeks before the wedding and had no shirts. Ironically I’m four weeks away from another big day so I’m hoping that this counts as my bad October event so that we can get to where we’re going without any major mishaps.

What can brown do for you?

Put the kibosh on your property apparently. Welcome to my shit list UPS.