Why I Game

Nothing I'm about to write here is a sob story. With perspective and a better look back, the problems I had as a kid were very typical and very minor. Gaming, though, during some of my rougher years was very important to me as a way to escape my real life. It was not an alternative reality I lived in because I felt anyone owed me anything. I did it on my terms.

The first computer game I can remember playing was Little Brickout on my grandmother's Apple II in 1982 or 1983. I was not exposed to games like Pong and we couldn't afford gaming consoles when I was young, so I would have to grab a flash of a game here and there. At the same time, I was transfixed by computers and the idea of programming. I've known I wanted to be a programmer since I was a kid. Little Brickout was what got me started.

From there, I would sometimes spend a few minutes here and there playing on friends consoles. One time, I got to play the first King's Quest on a friend's PC Jr.

438955-king-s-quest-pc-booter-screenshot-the-king-s-castle-original.png ^1

This was a whole new ballgame for me. I never got to fully play the game but I was hooked even more. I loved playing computer games, but I just never got a chance to play them much.

Finally in 1987, my parents put together enough money to buy a Tandy 1000 HX, our first real home computer. One of the biggest turning points in my life was learning there was a GW-BASIC interpreter built in along with a manual. I could now program. But I also could now game. The first two games we had were "Earl Weaver's Baseball" and "Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Simulator". EWB is considered one of of the greatest games of all time, and Chuck Yeager is also remembered fondly. My grandparents then bought us Starflight, which if you know that game, you know it as one of the greatest games of all time. In fact, Starflight still competes well with modern games in my opinion.

8902-starflight-dos-screenshot-hyperspace-travelling-ega-tandy-s.gif ^2

28583-earl-weaver-baseball-dos-screenshot-overhead-view-of-the-field.gif ^3

18410-chuck-yeager-s-advanced-flight-simulator-dos-screenshot-preparing.gif^4

From there I played a ton of games. I eventually got into the rest of the King's Quest series, the Police Quest series, and the Space Quest series. I got into games like Populous, a sneakily amazing game. SimCity, Civilization, & Jones in the Fast Lane were huge for me. I also spent many, many hours playing all sorts of TSR Gold Box D&D games, starting with Pool of Radiance. I'm probably forgetting some games here and there, but that's what dominated a lot of my time in high school.

High school for me, like so many people, wasn't a whole lot of fun. I was shy, awkward, and unable to ever break out of the stereotype of being a nerd. Even when I spent time with friends I was still not really included. Parties and girlfriends were all out of reach. However, unlike most of my friends, I already knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a computer programmer. There was never a doubt in my mind. So while the people around me were often acting like they had it figured out, I actually did. I knew I basically had to wait it out, and get to college where I could really explore computers and meet a different set of people. College came with its own sort of challenges, mainly learning all the social cues and interactions I missed in high school, but I was essentially right.

So for me, gaming was a great way to pass the time during the four worse years of my life (it's all relative though). It's probably a total cliche, but when my friends were sometimes at parties, I was at home trying to figure out how to kill Tyranthraxus or how to tax my city without killing jobs.

When I see gaming attacked for being something nefarious, I have a natural inclination to get pissed and tell that person to fuck off. I can't say that all of the games I played back then are games that didn't contain issues of racism and/or sexism. I'm sure many of them did. But I was playing games like the Perils of Rosella and Space Quest II, not Custer's Revenge. I could separate what's fantasy and what's real, and I don't remember any of it affecting how I viewed women. In fact, during high school, while girlfriends were out of the question, girl friends were not, and I was one of the few of my friends who could be just friends with a girl without it being a big deal. I don't think whether or not my characters in the Secret of the Silver Blades were saving a female character meant I was unable to just have a normal conversation with a girl in the real world.

For a while, I did let gaming slip out of my life, but in the last ten years or so I've returned to gaming a lot. I prefer games like Civilization and Fallout. Large open worlds where I have to make moral choices. I admit, I often play male characters because I'm trying to put myself in the games, but I do play female characters now and then to change it up. In fact, my current character in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a female Dalish elf, in a world where elves are looked down upon.

I don't have drudgery in my life now and I've long stopped worrying about being one of the "cool kids" (for god sakes, I'm almost 40!). I play games now because they are entertaining and challenging. I like having to make tough decisions, to plan, to strategize. The graphics are so good these days, it's like being in a 50-60 hour movie. The worlds are detailed, have their own character, and if I play enough, become as familiar to me as the city I buy groceries in.

I find that if I play a couple hours of video games at night, the next day I'm more productive and relaxed at work. The fact that you have to do so much thinking, I think keeps my mind sharp. From the creative side, you do have to think about how you want your character to be. You have to give it personality and morality.

I can't imagine not playing games now, even when I'm 70. I can't imagine not having played games during my high school years. My only regrets are that I missed out on some games during my mid to late 20's while I was working so much. I think the future of gaming holds a lot of promise for so many things, I can't wait until I'm 70 to see what kind of games there are.

So that's why I game.

Examining a Political Blindspot

I tweeted today "#skeptics are really no better getting past their own political biases then anyone else. Except me of course." I was inspired to tweet this after reading David Gorski's piece titled "Chris Christie and Rand Paul’s pandering to antivaccinationists: Is the Republican Party becoming the antivaccine party?". It's a provocative title, and even Gorski mentions that in the post: "Wait, maybe that’s a little too strong, but certainly it has become the party supporting antivaccine viewpoints more strongly than the Democrats". After reading it, and going over the quotes, I couldn't help feel the entire article was created out of a political blind spot on Gorski's part. Let me explain.

Gorski quotes a couple statements from President Obama:

"I understand that there are families that in some cases are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We've looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren't reasons to not,” the president explained.

And:

"You should get your kids vaccinated. It’s good for them, but we should be able to get back to the point where measles effectively is not existing in this country."

Quoting Gorski, "You can’t expect a much more unequivocal statement of support for vaccination than that from a politician."

I'm not sure if Gorski is a big Obama supporter or what, but I think he was getting a bit carried away, because I heard an even more unequivocal statement of support from Marco Rubio^1:

"Absolutely," Rubio said in response to a reporter's question after the Florida Republican convened a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Cuba.

"Unless they are immune suppressed, obviously, for medical exceptions," added the father of four.

"This is the most advanced country in the world. We have eradicated diseases that in the past killed and permanently disabled people. My own grandfather was disabled by polio as a young child. There is absolutely no medical science or data whatsoever that links those vaccinations to onset of autism or anything of that nature. And by the way, if enough people are not vaccinated, you put at risk infants that are three months of age or younger and have not been vaccinated and you put at risk immune-suppressed children that are not able to get those vaccinations. So absolutely, all children in American should be vaccinated."

Which sounds more supportive and direct on the need for vaccination?

Then Gorski talks about recent comments from Governor Christie and Senator Paul, both who stumbled into controversy over parental choice. Both of them think kids should be vaccinated and both say vaccines work. Paul went one step further, either claiming vaccines cause mental disorders or recounting stories that scared parents away from vaccines, justifying that as a reason for parental choice. In both cases, mentioning choice put Christie and Paul on the defensive, and they subsequently walked it back. Christie seemed to be doing typical political pandering, while Paul went into more dangerous territory.

"Choice" has become a dirty word because for the diseases making headlines, choosing not to vaccinate puts others at risk and can cause needless suffering. When it comes to things like the chicken pox or hepatitis vaccine, things are less clear for me personally. I had chicken pox as a kid, along with all my other classmates and it doesn't seem like there is a public health crisis there. I'm not in any risk group for Hepatitis A (and I'm not sure if I've ever had the vaccine). Then we have flu vaccines, which are almost entirely voluntary despite the many thousands of people who die every year from the flu. We already have elements of choice in our society.

But back to Paul, Christie, and Obama.

The main practical difference in my opinion (bias alert) between Paul, Christie, and Obama is not whether you should get vaccinated, but whether or not parents have a choice. As Obama has said on the record about parental choice....oh, wait, he hasn't said anything. So how does Gorski conclude that "You can’t expect a much more unequivocal statement of support for vaccination than that from a politician."? Honestly, I'm not sure. Obama has a history (bias alert) of saying things that sound good to the ear, but lack actual substance. I think this is one of those cases, and Gorski's political blindspot made him think Obama said more than he did.

In fact, today, Obama's press secretary was asked nine times for a statement of where the Presidents comes down on mandates. Nine times the press secretary deftly avoided a straight answer. You can look at the whole thing here but I think the President's position was summed up here:

"Use common sense. Follow the science. Vaccinate your kids."

What do parents need to use common sense for? Oh, right, to decide whether or not to vaccinate. Would I be wrong to write it this way (bias alert): The President believes parents should use common sense when it comes to deciding whether or not to vaccinate their kids. When put like this, I think we get away from an "unequivocal statement of support for vaccination". We move closer to Paul and Christie, and farther from Rubio.[^2]

Do Republicans have an issue with vaccines? Well, unlike with climate change, most Republican leaders and all possible presidential candidates accept the science. No one, aside from a fringe member here or there, is fighting against the science. I don't think that makes the Republicans an "anti-vaccine party". I'm actually surprised to be writing that.

So no, Obama did not make the most unequivocal statement for vaccine support you could expect out of a politician. There is not as much difference between the President, Christie and Paul as you would expect. And it seems Republicans are pro-get-vaccinated. Since I don't a big push for federal mandates for vaccines coming from anyone, it seems for the most part, Democrats and Republicans are on the same page with vaccines.

And while I think Gorski was a little off on this post, you should still read his blog at ScienceBlogs and Science Based Medicine.

What are my views as a libertarian? I will never vote for Paul or Christie. Everyone should get vaccinated when entering public and private schools, along with child care facilities. No non-medical exemptions. Adults need to be better about getting vaccinated themselves. And it's time for some public shaming for those who don't.^3

[^2]: I do expect Obama to make a more definitive statement soon in support of mandates for schools and health care facilities.

January 2015 Health Redux

I'm now one month in working through burning out at the end of last year. I have set monthly goals for this year in terms of health and exercise achievement, and this is my first look back at what worked, what kinda worked, what didn't, and changes for the future.

What Did Work

  • DDP Yoga - I've been able to stick with it and work around whatever pops up in life to stay on track.
  • Food Diary - Nothing worked better to get my overeating under control than religiously maintaining a food diary.
  • Sleeping on a Schedule - I've stuck to the plan that any time I feel tired after 10 pm, that I go to bed. Doesn't matter what I'm in the middle of.

What Kinda Worked

  • Stress induced snacking - While I'm not snacking on junk food, the habit has shifted to carrots. I think I've eaten way too many carrots some days. Really, way too many carrots.
  • No extra sugar - I've not been able to break the habit of using sugar free flavors in my water. While I'm not ingesting any calories, I really should be drinking water

What Hasn't Worked

  • Varied Meals - While I have read that eating the same kind of meals over and over is good for weight loss, I need to get more varied veggies into my diet.

Changes/Plans for the Future

  • More veggies in meals
  • Taper down the number of sugar free drinks I consume
  • Increase average yoga workout length by 10 minutes
  • Add in light walking on "rest days"

So that is this months recap. Overall, I'm happy with my progress in January, and look forward to doing this again at the end of February.

A Return From Burnout

Back in October, I deactivated my Facebook account, narrowed the number of people I see in my Twitter client, focused on tech people on Google+ and stopped commenting pretty much anywhere on the web. It could be considered a minor huff. Nearly four months later I can look back and see that what was happening back in October was the beginning of an intense period of burnout.

While I was clearly burning myself out all through October and November, it wasn't until the end of December that it really started to hit me between the eyes. Months of working too long, eating too much, and sleeping too little had taken a big toll on me. I was feeling as unhealthy as I'd ever felt, and it was obvious enough that my wife Kelly emphatically pointed it out to me.

By then, I knew I was in a rut, and struggling to get out of it. I was having a hard time taking time off from work, not because I wasn't allowed to by someone else, but because I wasn't allowing myself. I was so exhausted, I could feel it everwhere. My mind, my bones, my stomach, my lungs. It was hard not too lash out at times over things that weren't a big deal.

Starting on December 27th, though, almost one month to the day at the time of this writing, I forced myself to work out daily. I started out doing elliptical, then some DDP Yoga before I finally settled on DDP Yoga. The daily stretches and exertion have become, once again, my thirty to forty minutes of me time. I put anything that is bothering me into the stretches, pushing myself harder now for exercise than I can ever remember doing before. I've reformed my diet, cut down the snacking. I started limiting the number of hours I work per day on specific projects. I'm not actually working a ton less, but the time I am working is now more focused and productive, relieving a lot of stress.

There is still a lot of work to do to undo the damage, but there is no sense in "hiding". I was burning out and I reacted by trying to cut out the things I thought were wasting my time and hurting me. It turned out I was wrong with what the problems were. It's easy to see that now, but it wasn't four months ago. And I dare say that part of this is a continuation of the worst month of my life in 2013. Ever since May 2013, it's been harder to stay on track, to keep myself healthy. I started a podcast that kind of documents my weight loss travels. I'll probably do an episode tonight after I do my yoga. That's how I'm trying to roll these days.

There will always be some level of stress in my life. I was letting it rule my life and not the other way around. Stress should be viewed as a challenge and an opportunity to grow, not something that wears you down to a nub.

I feel a lot better now than I have in quite some time, and I plan to keep this up. By being more open about it, I believe I will expand my support network of friends. My wife, though, has been awesome about this. She's been great about encouraging me to work out each day, understanding that we can't always eat the same meal, and been great in how we each schedule time to workout in our home gym.

So, I'm back for good this time and looking forward to reconnecting with friends. I hope everyone is having and will continue to have a great 2015.

Why I Social Network

I grew up feeling isolated from most everyone around me. I had friends, but there was always something that kept me on the outside of everything. I didn’t live close to many people so I wasn’t invited to birthday parties when I was really young. I didn’t have the kind of friends I could invite to a birthday party, so I never had a birthday party for myself. When I got older this manifested itself in different ways, like when a big party that was thrown at the end of eighth grade. I didn’t even know it was happening until a few days before, I found that all my friends were going. That was when I knew that my high school social future was pretty much set. My friends would get invited to parties in front of me, and I never went to one.

For the next four years, I felt extremely isolated and sometimes I was rather lonely, but I also was one of the few people who knew exactly what he/she wanted to do. It seems odd now, but wanting to be a computer programmer would draw laughs from some of my friends and few of my friends understood. Knowing what I wanted to do and having such clarity on the issue somewhat made up for the loner lifestyle I had. Still, I lost a lot of development time with social interactions that I had to make up in college, and some things never really got better.

The Internet offered me a way to communicate with people without having to deal with the social interaction problems I have. First, I started with IRC which was a revelation for me. I could communicate with lots of tech people and various topics. My main form of social networking for years was IRC.

And then came Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all. I think we all know how those work. We all spend a lot of time on these networks sometimes sharing the banal, sometimes sharing the important, but mostly in between. This is not criticism, because most people live ordinary lives. For me it has been somewhat a struggle for the last two years as to what I want to do with social networking and is it good for me.

I have a feeling I tend to spend too much time on social networking to make up for lost time I had to develop social skills and connections. Sometimes I just want as many people to read what I say because “I’m right”. Neither of these reasons are particularly good reasons. I’ve already scaled back my social networking by deactivating my Facebook account. I’m not on Twitter so much, and my Google+ usage is limited to interest based socializing. I’ve even considered shutting down this blog because I think sometimes I write for the wrong reasons. I want people to hear me, I want adulation, etc.

In the last few days I’ve realized I have a bunch of projects and idea to work on that I should have close to 100% focus on. I also realized that social networking is not a good use of my time. I’m turning 40 next year which means I’ve reached the halfway point in my life. No more days wasted worrying about if I’m doing better than all the people who disliked me in high school. No more worrying if RW and PZ are ruining skepticism or atheism. No more worrying if I’m missing out on something, that probably doesn’t matter anyway. From now on social networking to the extent that I use it, will be used only to worry to further these projects I’m working on. Every tweet, and every G+ post will have a purpose. Every blog post will be about something I created. Every email or instant message I send will be a sincere effort to connect. That is my resolution for 2014-2055.

A #Skeptic Winter Booklist

We've entered the holiday season now here in the US. I've already started listening to the Christmas music that I enjoy, even though I'm an atheist. My enjoyment of the music stems from so many years of playing saxaphone growing up and the many concerts I played. The nights are slightly shorter, and while we rarey have snow here, the weather isn't quite as nice as the rest of the year. So I'm settling in for a few month stretch of being indoors, but what to do?

In a recent email exchange with a friend, we were talking about the skeptic movement in the US, and it was clear to her that I was pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. She's right, too. I am. It seems the power of the internet has mainly been used to further political agendas versus skepticism and since the internet is my main conduit into the movement it looks like a mess. Too many white nights, Twitter only activitists, politics, lies, faux outrage, bad astronomers, etc. You get the point.

So, in order to take a step back and refresh the skeptic batteries, I'm putting together a list of books I want to re-read, to remind myself why I got into skepticism to begin with. What got me interested in skepticism in the first place was debunking myths, challenging the common wisdom, and saving people from scams. Some of that shaped my politics where I ended up as a libertarian. It also helped shaped my career as a computer programmer where logic is king.

Skepticism used to be a lot more fun, frankly. Or rather, I've gotten away from the fun stuff as all the politics took over. It isn't a matter of wanting things the way they were. Rarely is any thing or any movement the way it should be, but instead you're in a constant state of trying to achieve those ideals. That's what I remember in the skeptic movement from my early days.

So with that in mind, here are the list of books I plan to re-read this winter:

  • The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
  • UFOs — Identified by Philip Klass
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Carol Tavris
  • The Faith Healers by James Randi.

This is a very personal list I've put together. The books may seem like curious choices, perhaps outdated (why read a 1968 book on UFO's for example). The point for me though is to do a kind of reset, and come out of the winter more enthusiastic and inspired than I went into winter. This is like listening to a favorite song that reminds you of good times in the past. That's what I'm doing here. Just reminding myself of the good times of the past so I can make more good times in the future.

Well, TAM, We Had a Good Run, Part Deux

This week the JREF announced dates for #TAM2015 or (#TAM13 as they’re calling it). No venue is announced, and really, nothing else has been announced either. So now that I’m confronted with actual dates will I change my mind from my previous statement? The answer is a surprisingly solid, no. I have gone to my last TAM. I might have gone to the last TAM for all I know. So why, after writing so many positive articles over the years did I switch so easily?

The last TAM was amazing, and it will probably never be better. So many of my friends were there and I finally got into this amazing comfort zone where I wasn’t nervous talking to people and I thought I could talk to anyone. It was great and will absolutely never be repeated again. Too many things fell into perfect place. I kind of like leaving on top.

Since then, though, the JREF has made changes but it’s not apparent or transparent as to what is happening. The addition of Adam Savage to the JREF board has seemingly fallen thru. There still isn’t a real acting president. The last two times there was a change there was an immediate announcement. DJ Grothe has been gone for three months now and there is still no one. Randi, who I will still always admire and respect, is obviously not running the show. They don’t list any full time staff. The website remake was obviously a weekend rush job. The JREF Forums, where the idea for TAM originated, were almost shut down, before they were spun off. There has been a lot of churn without a lot of vision.

It may not be fair to expect everything to be done in three months, but that’s not what I’m expecting. Teardowns and rebuilds can take time. I’ve been part of tearing apart products and building them back up, and it always required leadership. I’m paying a yearly membership for….what I’m not sure. Maybe I’m still annoyed at how poorly they treated DJ on his way out, or maybe, I’ve heard so much recently that I’ve come to realize that the JREF has probably been broken for quite a while and TAM2014 was the last great hurrah. Randi probably only has a handful of years left, and after he passes away, poof goes the JREF.

So I’ve moved on. I’ll be at DragonCon in 2015 for sure, and I may look around for something local. Though maybe I’ll just take a very, very long break from anything to do with the skeptic community. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate if I even want to remain part of it. Even if you don’t participate in the drama, you still can’t avoid it. It just wears you out, and that’s how I feel right now. Worn out and disillusioned.

Not to end on a down note, there are some things that have kept me in the skeptic community and I think you should check them out. For podcasts, Strange Frequencies and MonsterTalk are the ones that I listen to the most. Insight at Skeptic.com is awesome, and Doubtful news is still a good source. For video, Virtual Skeptics is a weekly fixture. Enjoy!

And People Wonder Why #Atheists Are So Unliked....

I started following Michael Nugent's blog due to my atheism and my Irish-ness. One problem I've mentioned before about the American atheist movement is its American only perspective. This has caused confusion between atheism and secularism, not to mention mixing up atheism with "social justice" issues. Sure, in the US there is a connection between religiosity and being anti-abortion for eg, but religion doesn't by its nature have to be socially conservative (as define in the US). Wicca comes to mind.

Lately Nugent has been involved in a series of what I could call smears vy alleged leaders in the atheist movement. Just read a few of these:

While Michael has maintained a civil and respectful approach and demeanor, his sudden detractors have done nothing but pile on with baseless accusations and, well, smears. I don't know if it's a complete lack of empathy or an addiction to the adulation the receieve when the attack people, but it's terrible, immature behavior.

Months ago I wrote that PZ Myers was Ron Paul. I dunno, does that make Ophelia Benson the Peggy Noonan, and Zvan Michelle Bachmann of the atheist movement? In all cases it makes the atheist community look toxic and clueless if this has become the public face of the movement.

Quick Thoughts on #Gamergate

I have not paid a whole lot of attention to #Gamergate from any perspective other than an outsider. I loosely consider myself a gamer, but I have a lot going on so I don't always get as much time to play as I would like. Though I'm close to 40, I am of the generation that grew up alongside computer games. I played Breakout when I was five, and by the time I was 18 I was playing Civilization. I will never outgrow gaming in the same way I won't outgrow good hard rock music, computers, or sci-fe. I was formed with computer games as a legit form of expression and entertainment. I have to say though, growing up, there weren't many if any girls who played computer games. Part of this is due to my unfailing unpopularity with girls growing up, but even on the messages boards I would occasionally frequent, dudes dominated. Back when I was a Tribes master of the disc launcher, our online battles were dominated by dudes. This is perhaps why the Quake clan "Crackwhores" were so well known. They were, for most gamers, the most public women out there. My wife loves horror, zombie, and post-apocalyptic movies, but I've yet to convince her to play something like Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas.

Times have changed, and by most surveys, women are now a significant percentage of the gaming culture. While I wouldn't include Candy Crush players as "gamers", even the games I play, Fallout, Civilization, Dragon Age, etc, there are a lot of women players. This is of course, a great thing. It couldn't only be a bad thing if half the population felt cut out from one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever created. And yes, there are issues with a myriad of -ism's in gaming, as they are a reflection of people.

Early in the 80's, the barriers to entry with publishing games was perhaps low, but with such a tiny market and even tinier population of game developers, it's fair to say that games were a very poor reflection of the breadth of cultures and viewpoints in society. Later, we went through a consolidation, where the barriers to entry became much higher. I think though, we're back to a lower entry, with indie games plentiful, toolsets more available than ever, and funding sources like Kickstarter. Games are poised to explode and cater to more tastes than ever before.

That's kind of what makes me sad about #gamergate. I can't say the concern over gaming journalism rings true to me as the main cause, considering gaming journalism has always been corrupt. That much was obvious when I would buy gaming magazines in the 80's. No, #gamergate has largely been co-opted by horrible people on Twitter. I don't even think this has that much to do with gaming culture, but it's all about Twitter culture. Twitter has a real problem, in that their platform can be abused by such a small number of people. I've seen this in skepticism and atheism drama battles on Twitter, where it's usually less than twenty people who ruin it for everyone. There are millions of gamers out there, and majority of them have nothing to do with #gamergate, or gaming journalism. They just want to play good games.

I hope they want everyone included, too.

Thoughts on Android Wear

IMG_20140910_101422

A few weeks ago I checked out the LG G-Watch running Android Wear. I was curious to checkout the platform. Ten days later, I sent it back. What happened in between?

The G-Watch as a device is ok. The strap was bad, so I had to replace that with a nice metal one, that was bigger and more comfortable. The watch part is a little thick and chunky but since I have thick and chunky wrists it was fine for me.

The software itself was pretty good. I think Google has the interface right. I was able to swipe through different cards and actions no problem, and it made a lot of sense on a device that size. Getting notifications on my wrist was pretty cool. I can see the future of Android Wear and I like it better than using a digital crown to move through 60 different icons on a small screen. The battery life was incredible.

Still, the present isn't quite as good. The G-Watch is completely unreadable in sunlight, and not enough apps (at the time I had it) fully integrated with Android Wear. Better hardware and apps will happen in time, which is why I'm bullish long term, but still returned my G-Watch after ten days.

The Moto 360 though seems to have great battery life now....hmm.

Don't Tell Me How to Social Network

The timing of this post might suggest it's partly in response to my Facebook account deactivation, but no, the genesis of this post is Ello. No one told me I was doing social networking wrong, so there is nothing to comment on about that. However, the rise of Ello and the reaction I've read and heard bothers me. I've stopped using Ello because it doesn't seem the uptake for my friends has been strong enough for me to continue. If other people find a community on there and they like it, that's awesome. If you like Twitter (and I like Twitter for a lot of things), go nuts. If you have fun on Facebook, keep doing it. I personally wish the Facebook website design would die in a fire but a lot of people like it. If you're on Google+, like I am now, and you find it engaging and interesting, great! If you're on one service, and you're telling other people they should dislike another service, you're wrong. Be quiet.

A couple months ago, when Chuq Von Rospach decided to leave Facebook for Google+, social media gadfly Robert Scoble posted everywhere (but I'm linking to the Google+ post) that contained the words "I almost want to argue with him and get him not to leave...". The question that popped into my mind, is simply why would you ever want to argue with him? If Von Rospach thinks Google+ will do more for him than Facebook, as have I, then you should support him. To his credit, Robert didn't end up arguing with him, but made his case of why he used Facebook so much. He also did a Triangulation with Leo Laporte where he describes how to make Facebook work better for you, which I think was pretty comprehensive. But he has not, to my knowledge, ever answered the bigger question: Why does any of this matter so much?

Truthfully, Facebook isn't that important. There is nothing on Facebook you can't get elsewhere. Want news? There are hundreds of ways and sources to get news. Want to keep in touch with family? We have email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and phones. In fact, I stated my case three years ago that Facebook isn't all that social. You really don't need it. I have lots of friends who have rich, fulfilling lives that are barely on social media period.

If I have told anyone in the past how to do social networking I was wrong. This post is not about telling you how to do it, but instead I'm saying I support you in whatever you do. I have been talking so much about my issues with social networking that people are probably sick of reading me, but I think about this so much, because I want to understand why I started getting on Myspace, then Twitter, then Facebook, etc. I don't like it when I don't understand why I do something. For me, I think I will dip my toe into Twitter a little, push a lot of content to G+ where I seek to connect with other tech minded people, and lastly, this blog which will remain the centerpiece of my public persona.

My Response to John Rael's JREF Salon Video Is...You Should Watch It!

John had mentioned to me he was working on a video about the JREF, but he didn't mention a blog post of mine would be featured. I'm flattered that he used something I did in his video. I still stand by what I wrote, but John's video did make me think about it again. While on the surface, my post about TAM reads hasty, it was really the release of feelings that had been building up for a month, ever since TAM2014. Coming out of TAM, I had two feelings. One, that I was just at the best TAM I'd ever been at. Second, that with the behind the scenes information I had, I'd just seen the last good TAM. That was actually how I felt as I pulled into my driveway after TAM.

Then, right after I get home from the amazing DragonCon 2014, on a holiday, the JREF board drops a stink bomb in the world of skepticism. When companies want to release bad news they don't want part of the news cycle, they do it at 5:50PM on a Friday. Was the JREF board trying to do something similar by releasing on a holiday? I don't know, but it's one more thing that rubbed me the wrong way with the whole thing.

I just don't know what the JREF is doing now with little to no staff, only a fuzzy description of the future, and baggage upon baggage piled high.

In any case, enough about my rant, you should definitely check out John's video. It's funny, interesting, and John closes it with advice he calls trite but advice that I think everyone should be taking right now. Seriously, watch it right now!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2WYkx6finA&list=UUgxhhTH3efNnmre4RzPYzcQ]

I Have No Idea What Nadella Was Thinking

via Microsoft CEO Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot On Gender Pay Gap [Updated] | TechCrunch. Satya Nadella has been riding a wave of good will, but I wonder if that is over now. I am unable to figure out what Nadella was trying to say with his claim that women who don't ask for raises should wait for karma to kick in and give them a raise down the line.

The wage and earnings gap is a real thing, but it's causes and solutions are both varied. One of those solutions will never be women waiting for raises. In respect to Nadella's comments, women should not wait for a raise. Women should ask for what they are worth. Period. I don't understand how he could get it so wrong, especially at the Grace Hopper celebration!