Archive for September, 2011

First, let me get something out-of-the-way. I put the word “Gestapo” up in the title, and that kind of thing tends to make people cranky. Any comparison between what a couple of immature, power-mad security guards can get up to, and the evils perpetrated by that noxious stain on human history would be demented at best, insensitive and ignorant at worst. But I’m not being hyperbolic, I promise.

The idea of Gestapo, the Platonic ideal (if something that horrific can be said to have such a thing) has become synonymous in our culture with a kind of institutionalized corruption. The word defines (in our current context and removed by decades from the men who birthed the term) any person who, with a measure of authority granted to them by a higher body, uses that power to impose their will on those who have none. Kids think of their parents and teachers in these terms; adults their employers. One day, the memory of where the word comes from will be purely academic, but the use of it will mean, fundamentally, the exact same thing; Gestapo are those who prey on the weak and whom the weak are afforded no protection from.

I’m not, in general, stupid. I understand that bus stations aren’t the most savory places to spend one’s time, free or otherwise. Especially not at midnight, in the murder capital of Canada. I can see how working there might incline one to a bit of terseness perhaps; a certain degree of tension.

What I can’t understand, ever, is the idea that working in a bus station could ever translate in a person’s mind into a justification for abusing the people they’re meant to protect. (more…)

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With great power comes great responsibility-Spiderman (Or Possibly Stan Lee)

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain-Harvey Dent

Today, I evangelized for Google.

I don’t approve, in general, of selling products for companies for free. I’ve made a career out of doing the opposite, in fact. But today, without even thinking about the fact that I wasn’t getting paid, I did the following:

  1. I posted multiple links on my soon (within the next few hours) to be defunct Facebook page to my Google+ account, and encouraged all of my friends to join, as they will no longer be able to interact with me on their favorite social network.
  2. I walked a friend through the features and benefits of Google Docs over Microsoft Office and converted him to its use.
  3. I walked a complete stranger through the same process; even going so far as to create a shared doc so she could see the value of the collaboration tools.
  4. I talked to no fewer than four people, in real life, about the advantages (when they finally arrive in Canada) of buying a Chromebook.

This was all in the span of about 9 hours.

I’m passionate about what Google is doing; with social, with the cloud, and with productivity in general. I think that this whole concept of everything being rolled into a browser, making work, life, and everything in between utterly seamless and essentially without thought, is the natural maturation of the Internet. I believe in these concepts so strongly that I will soon be making some very large bets regarding them, at possible detriment to my financial security. (more on this later) (more…)

Print is dying.

We’ve all seen headlines screaming that message. (There’s irony in those two sentences. Real irony, not the Alanis Morissette kind.)

Such and such magazine’s subscriptions are plummeting. It’s horrible; they’re a cultural institution; society is crumbling. Etc.

Newspaper X is resurrecting itself as a tablet app. Newspaper X only sold 8 installations of its app and is now sharing afterlife space with Hansen and the political career of Ross Perot.

I’ve seen articles in favor of revamping long form journalism as a digest service. I’ve seen articles calling for its destruction in the face of the rapidly diminishing attention span of a populace that no longer cares about writing as art. I’ve seen micro-theses written on the self-indulgent notion that there will always be a place for print and that traditional news channels simply have to weather the storm.

The truth is, no one knows what’s going to happen. But things are certainly going to change. (more…)

An Open Break-Up Letter*

It’s no secret, to the five people who occasionally land on this site before moving on to better things (like The Oatmeal) that I don’t like you, Facebook.

In the beginning, I wanted you, but couldn’t have you. You made me your bitch by staying exclusive; exclusive to everyone but me, it seemed. Then the invites began. I opened my email one day and there you were:

Oh thou deadly beast! What hast thou started-eth-eth?

Ah, youth. How innocent we all were back then. See profiles? I don’t know what that means**, but it sure sounds nice. Share photos? Hey that’ll give me an excuse to use that digital camera I bought last year.^ Connect with friends? You know, I’m awfully busy and, for the most part, if I’ve lost connection with someone, there’s probably a good rea…ah, what the hell. Could be fun.

Do you notice what’s not in that description? HEY! Don’t you walk away from me! I’m not done. What’s missing? (more…)

The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash (WSOGMM) is the sum total of all the different ways that exists of looking at things, or more specifically, all the different probabilities that exist through which you could look at things.

The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash is a metaphor created to help people better understand a part of the complex concepts presented by the complicated web of probabilities and possibilities (parallel universes, one could say) presented by creation.

The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash, one could say, should be viewed as a plate of pie, or as a large tank of water. You could slice it and divide it up any way you’d like, and you’ll almost always find a way of looking at things somewhere in probability (a parallel universe) that somebody will find familiar.

-Douglas Adams*

The Internet is a really big, imaginary village.

Wait. Village is the wrong word. It’s a quaint little digital giant megatropolis. It started off as a village though, and that’s still how a whole lot of us perceive it.

And that’s a problem. Because Megatropolisses (megatropoli?) need different…I want to say rules, but really it’s just conventions, than villages do.

I want to get something out-of-the-way up front. I am, in general, a big believer in privacy and our rights to it. For example, the only reason that I’m not as famous as I should be, is that I don’t want to expose myself or my family to the prying metaphorical eyes of you lot. (heh) I believe that we should all be afforded as much protection from outside examination as is possible; no one should be allowed to peek in our windows.

But that’s when we stay indoors. When we’re out in public it’s another story altogether. People will look, and we have to be prepared to accept that. The alternative is to never go outside. (more…)

The following is a four part series originally posted at http://www.dearthey.tumblr.com.

Part One: On Cloud Computing And Why I Was Wrong    

I laughed when Chrome OS was announced; A great big hearty mwah ha ha.

Why, I pondered (as I choked on the effervescent bubbles of funny rolling up from my belly), would anyone spend hundreds of dollars on a machine with little (or no) storage, just so they could work entirely in a web browser all day?

I’m not laughing anymore.

When Apple announced the launch of iCloud I was sorely tempted to smack myself in the face. When shopping for a new computer a few months earlier, I had laughed my ass off (this always gets me in trouble, I see this now) at the MacBook Airs on display. Sure, they’re thin, and pretty and, unlike my iPad, run a full OS, but 64GB as a storage starting point? For a thousand bucks? In 2011? Ha!

But then, like I said, iCloud was announced and it all made sense.

I don’t need to carry my music collection with me? Or my documents? And I get to carry around a laptop that weighs less than a burrito at my favorite Mexican joint? Sold.

Not so fast.

You see, while I had been laughing at the MacBook Air that day, I talked myself into buying an iMac instead. A sexy beast to be sure, but looking more than a little chunky for my day to day purposes once I’d made the decision to go thin*. And it cost $1700. So, yeah, three months later, I was not going to win the fight to give another thirteen or fourteen hundred bucks to my Apple overlords (Hail Hydra) with my lovely but financially conservative wife.

So I grumbled, and I toyed with the idea of putting my iMac on Kijiji (not met with positive reception by my family) to finance my craving for Air, and then, as I often do, I sulked in front of a computer. (more…)