Thursday, November 28, 2013

Software's Unfinished Songs

How would you like it if you bought your favorite bands new album, and although it cost you $400 you paid it because you love them and need this album to keep your life meaningful in this tech-filled world. But, when you go listen to the album you find that some of the songs are incomplete. Upon further listening you discover that there's sudden interruptions in the middle of songs, in-which you can hear the band talking about what they should play there. They fiddle with a few guitar riffs then say "Awe. F**k it. Let's just move on! We have to get this out by next month." They continue, and the record company releases it like that anyway.

That's what new software releases have been like for some time now. Unfinished songs from an album that you paid $400 or more for.

How do we deal with these "unfinished songs"? Well, for me, most of the time when I have problems with my computer or cell phone, I search the internet for a solution only to find other people who are lost in the forest of internet forums, asking questions, not exactly like mine, but similar to mine. And there's nobody answering them, or the answers are basic, like "Try restarting it." Or, the answers can be ridiculous "My cell-phone was doing almost the same thing as yours but I put it in a zip-lock bag then stuck it in the freezer for a couple of hours. It fixed mine right up!"

I wouldn't stick a $400 piece of technology in a freezer. And if that's what fixes it, then I have a disproportionately engineered four hundred dollar piece of shit.

Anyhow, I think part of the reason there are so few answers to peoples technical questions is because even the people who work for the software/hardware companies know that the complaints they're getting are for the current version of things, which will be obsolete in a year or less. So, why waste time becoming an expert at it and trying to fix it, right? Soon they're just going to release a new version to sell to you. And, you'll probably buy it because you need the upgrade that fixes all the shit that is wrong with the version that you purchased and have now.

Is this how it's going to be from now on?

Because, if so, I'm going open source, because then at least the software problems that I have will be from software that is free.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Going to the Record Store

What it was like going to the record store?

OK, imagine some guy or girl sitting at their computer wearing sweat-pants and a t-shirt and clicking-and-clicking on stuff to listen to in their living room. It wasn't like that. 

Going to the record store was planning it the previous day, or even the previous week, or the week before that! "Man, let's go to the record store this week. What? You can't? OK, then let's go next week. I need to get that song I heard yesterday and explore some new music."

So you would pick out something cool to wear (even if the look you were going for was the 'I don't care what I look like' look), comb your hair, and get excited about going to the place where all the bands hard labored crystallizations were collected for you to brows through. Sometimes, you would want to go solo if it was time for a deep and personal introspection into the music scene, which sometimes could be used as a delightful escape. Or, you'd go with a friend and show each other the things you'd find while hunting for new artists. Regardless, you would walk out of the record store feeling a similar catharsis to watching a great movie in a cinema.

And, it was likely that you'd make a new friend or have an interesting conversation with someone. Since, they were obviously browsing the same genre that you were, you most likely admired each others style.

Anyhow, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, there you were. You got to the record shop dressed appropriately and feeling excited because you were about to absorb the album artwork, the fonts, the smells, the song titles, the album producers, the record companies, the guest artists. You analysed, meditated, and weighed every one of these details. There was a whole experience that went along with merely finding new music, and many of your music purchases were largely intuitive. (My best intuitive purchase was Surfer Rosa by The Pixies - I'd never heard of this band, but judging from the album art, their name, the font, song titles, I could almost hear the sound of a band I liked.)

How long you'd spend at a record store? Well, like I said, it wasn't like you could sit in your living room and just click away. It was a place most people went to about once a week. So, hours could go by in the record store, you got there a little after Noon and when it was time to leave the sky was threatening dusk. After spending all that time contemplating your new music, you felt pretty good about your choice.

Also, Record stores were like the coffee shops and bars of today. They were one of the coolest places to work (if not thee coolest) and the line of hardcore music enthusiasts who wanted to work at one, and who were cooler than you was long. Admittedly, I was a fairly awkward Chicano kid so I didn't fantasize about working at a record store too much.

Maybe you drove to the record store, maybe you took the bus, maybe someone drove you. Whatever the case, what you had in your bag was a very personal and even spiritual thing. So, sometimes you didn't want to listen to it right away. You wanted to wait till the moment was right. - When the moment was right, you were excited to open your new cassette, CD, or LP. And, you'd read every single thing on it, from the title on the cover to the copyright date on the back page.

When you bought this new music. What you had done is you made a commitment to listen to the whole thing from beginning to end (It's not like you were able to just move on to the next anyhow) you gave the artist at least that amount of "respect", if you will. And, if a particular artist's sonic landscape that you found pumping through your headphones or speakers didn't appeal to you right away, you worked to try and understand what the artist was going for; What they were trying to say.

It would be at least a week before you decided that you didn't like the album. Remarkably, you wound up liking and appreciating almost everything you got. 

Can you believe all this rich experience existed in merely finding new music?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Watching Movies At Home

I don't know what's going on in the rest of the world concerning video rentals and watching movies, but here in the U.S. video rental places are basically extinct. Streaming movies through sites like Netflix and Youtube is how people watch movies now.

Technology is changing things so rapidly, that kids who are 3 or 4 years old now may not even know that places like Blockbuster existed. (Much like what's happened with 'record stores' which sold not only records, but cassettes and CD's, and even 8-Track tapes for a while, but I'll write about record stores in another post) Video rental places have been phased out.

What was it like to watch a movie at home back in the good-'ol-days?

Imagine it was a few years ago, and that me and my girlfriend were at home and not wanting to go out on a Friday night. And, we decide that we were both in the mood to watch a movie. We didn't just pick up a remote control, hit a few buttons and like wizardry, voila! there was a vast selection of movies available to us. We had to get up, get dressed, and drive to the video rental place. It was an involved process that was closer to going to the movies than it is to watching TV the way Netflix is.

We'd  get to the video rental place and hunt for a movie in real life. The things that went into choosing a movie were more involved. We would read into the meaning of the title more and notice the font even, we'd study the cover artwork and read the synopsis of the film on the back. All of these things were important, because if we didn't like it we couldn't just hit a button, stop the movie, and move on to another selection. There was much more care, thought, experience, and intuition that went into renting a movie, and sometimes I kind of miss it.

Even if you got a movie and you though it was somewhere between pretty bad and horrible, most of the time you'd stick with it to the end. Because that movie, and maybe one other movie was all you had (Unless you were the person that would rent like 4 or 6 movies at once.). So, you'd give the movie more of a chance. If you loved the movie you would just fall into the normal and delightful catharsis you experience while watching an enthralling movie, but if you didn't like it you'd try to empathize with what the director was going for more than you would while watching something on Netflix. On Netflix you can judge quickly and harshly without consequence.

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Vegan, Vegetarian, Organics, and Food

  • A vegan is someone who refrains from consuming animals and their excretions, and some vegans refrain from using any animal products in anything or wearing clothing made from animals. 
  • Vegetarians consume dairy, but don't eat meat. 
  • Organic food is food in its more natural state. 
  • Food is defined by the individual, and what one person calls food isn't what another may call food. 

Whenever the topic of food quality and food choices comes up in my daily life I always remember how privileged I am that I can entertain such choosiness when it comes to food. The vast majority of the world doesn't have enough to eat, or has meager choices of food readily available to them. The latter is also true for the society I live in.

One time while standing behind a lady at the grocery store checkout I noticed the difference between her food choices, and what I had on my side of the divider. My side had mostly produce, and her side had mostly boxes and packages. I felt slightly sad for her, and I felt slightly at-a-loss, for myself. I felt sad because she's probably never considered the massive amounts of marketing that caused her to buy this food enough. I felt at-a-loss (and borderline pompous) because I think my vegetables are better than her boxed food, yet I don't know how to spread the word to her, individually, and to others about "critical thinking" when it comes to food.

Now, "Spreading the word" about something. Getting others "on board" with you has a simultaneous positive and negative effect, because of the way our modern societies success model works (i.e. dominate the world!). Things tend to grow and spread. And, if they catch on beyond a certain growth point, they can become a bad thing.
Take something non-edible for example. Gasoline. Most of us are expected to have a car in our society, this notion turned reality is causing us to pay a high price at the pump due to the increasing scarcity of oil as we pillage the earth for the Black Gold.
So, I can't help but wonder... Pretend at one point in the near future the majority of people in the U.S. become vegan. Would that have a similar detrimental effect, the way it has a detrimental effect in the dominating oil industry, but in this case it's vegetation? Similar to the way that gasoline use has given rise to pillaging the earth, pollution, wars, and exploitation of Third World nations?

One of the reasons life exists on earth is due to the diversity of life and environment. Which counters the idea that we should all be one way.

Organic Food

So there's this "latest craze" called Organic food. But, my grandparents are laughing at this. Because, when they ate and grew food, all food was just food, there was no distinguishing between the Organic section and the non-organic. And, all animals were grass fed and more-or-less "free roaming".

So, what happened? It's a logical question. I have an answer that may address an aspect of how we got here.

Sixty years ago, back in 1953, you could ride a horse over a hillside in parts of California and see empty land for miles and miles. It was the 1950's, WWII was over, and there was plenty for everybody. Everyone gets a house, and everyone gets a car, etc. And, it worked, and people were happy (except minorities). But, this mentality became the norm, and as the population grew this mentality of "everyone gets/can have one of everything"  was heading for a disaster that few to none foresaw.

So, everyone wanted to achieve getting some "meat on the table" at every dinner possible, and companies wanted to give the masses meat. But, automation increased in workplaces, and it put people/consumers out of work, gasoline prices gradually rose due to depletion of oil reserves, and the population boomed to boot.
So, car companies decided to make more cars that used less fuel, and food companies decided to make food in more economical and profitable ways. Meat companies began housing their animals differently, feeding them cheaper stuff, and pumping them up with hormones so they'll grow faster, or so the animals would produce more dairy (Albeit, at one point the dairy industry was producing so much cheese that they had to store the surplus in caves. I kid you not).

And, throughout all this time... The 50's, 60's, 70's, 80, 90's, and we're now in the 21st century. The mentality that everyone can and should have (if they want it) one of everything. - A TV, a car, a kid, a microwave, phone, each person living in the same building and paying for their own individual internet connection (evil laugh from the Internet Service Providers)...

... So, this (mentality) has continued, and it's still going. And, it's had some interesting effects. For example, we have Communism via Capitalism, because everyone (at one point) wanted a house with a lawn. They made housing developments cheaply in-which all the houses look alike.

And, car designs increasingly look the same (probably due to learning of aerodynamics though). Also, coffee shops were once individually owned and unique, but all Starbucks look basically the same inside as all other Starbucks. McDonald's has these qualities, and all "Jiffy" stores sell the same items no matter which one you walk into.
Examples of Communism via Capitalism are many. One last one in the form of a question... Where did you buy your broom from? Walmart or Target? Because, I don't even know where else to buy a broom. We must all have the same brooms.

The Contraction

Now we're witnessing a contraction from this way of living I briefly described as an "Everyone can have one of everything" mentality. And, I'm participating in this contraction. I gave up driving a few years ago. I still have a car, but I drive an average of one hour per week. I ride my bicycle instead. I had mostly given up eating meat already for some time, but now I'm largely giving up eating dairy as I find ways to make delicious alternatives for my "cheese" enchilada's. - Food is partly cultural too, we can't forget that it has deep sentimental value.
Now I jump to the selling of "Organic" food...

Organic: A New Way To Separate You From Your Money

So, you see an avocado that's 75cents at the Mexican Grocery store, but then you go to the "Organic" Food store and the Avocado is $2. I'm not putting up with that sh*t! I don't care if it says Organic all over it.

I went to a local Natural Food store and saw this Cinnamon pictured below. It was like four or five cinnamon sticks for $4.


Then I saw this bunch of cinnamon at a Mexican Grocery store for less than $4.

I'm just lookin' out for you

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I Don't Like Facebook

Things I don’t like about facebook. 

Some months ago, I uninstalled the facebook application on my phone. At first I found myself going through a type of withdrawal, for I didn’t know what to do with myself while standing in line after having deleted the app. I haven’t been using facebook that long, so I found myself working on lyrics instead before too long, or just thinking or humming things to myself, and engaging in conversation. People try to claim that facebook is no big deal, but that sh*t is addictive yo! And it isn’t as innocuous as some people make it out to be.

There are many things I don't understand about facebook. One being that it's against facebook TOS to friend people you don’t know (Strangers)? If everyone on there is supposed to be someone you know, why would you post your work history, where you currently work, your birthday, your schooling, your relationships, if people you know already know these things about you? Hmm? (Conspiracy theorists, go!) 

Without further ado, here’s my list:

1. Everyone is in everyones business. 

2. It can effectively make everyone a fascist on a small scale, because even someone who is anti-censorship, if they don’t like what someone else wrote or posted, they can block or delete them. i.e. censor them. 

3. People aren’t real. And, they have their best representative of themselves on there, which seems like a natural thing to do. But, the representation of life is largely false on there. (This is the internet, I for one am not trying to be ‘real’. I’m trying to use the internet). This perpetuates the "Keeping up with the Jones'es" but, the cyber version.

4. It causes unnecessary social stress. Tagged, mentioned, liked, and can cause completely unnecessary problems in relationships of all types. 

5. It’s a very lonely way to socialize. 

6. People mainly use facebook to display their values to their peers. (This one bothers me to no end)

7. When you post, you’re posting to an algorithm, and the news feed doesn’t show you everything, but what it thinks you want to see. So it isn’t neutral.

8. It’s like an internet, except you have to sign into it to see any of it. I predict that governments love this aspect.

9. My overall thought on news feeds is that I don’t like what they're doing to my brain/attention span. News-feeds like reddit (and I like reddit), facebook, and Google+, are dominating the internet market. But, I find them to be a constant derailment of thought, especially since I find myself wanting to interact, either negatively or positively depending on what I see. But, the fact that they constantly derail thought makes them detrimental to working on larger concepts. 

10. Facebook, especially, turns everyone who uses it into a voyeur, and a stalker (lite). 

11. It can make people feel insecure. For example. If I went posting and showing how awesome my life really is :-) to all the people sitting there in their humdrum worlds, it would make them feel sad and insecure about their life. And, that is totally unnecessary.

In closing I’d like to point out that if you were famous, the last thing you’d want is more pictures of your personal life floating around. But, people have been taught that being a self paparazzi is good, via all the tabloid magazines we’ve been exposed to at the grocery store checkout lines over the years.  

Furthermore, people act like they won't know how to get a hold of you without a facebook, like they can't email you, or google you. - If you have a business you ask people to go to your facebook page and "Like" it, but they still have to type in the name of your business. So, for me, I find it equally easy to just guide them to my website. :-)

Monday, January 07, 2013

Martial Arts training at Pak's Karate

I recently discovered a Martial Arts dojo, which I joined and is in my neighborhood. Turns out the dojo has been here for a while.

Pak's Karate in Springfield, FL.