Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Song of the Day - "Walk"

I don't want to write, but I'm overdue for a post. This video is an accurate description of how I feel. (But don't tase me, bro.)

A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return

I'm learning to walk again
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I'm learning to talk again
Can't you see I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?

Do you remember the days
We built these paper mountains
And sat and watched them burn
I think I found my place
Can't you feel it growing stronger
Little conquerors

I'm learning to walk again
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I'm learning to talk again
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?

For the very first time
Don't you pay no mind
Set me free again
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/foo-fighters-walk-lyrics.html ]
To keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside a whisper to a riot
To sacrifice but knowing to survive
The first to climb another state of mind
I'm on my knees, I'm praying for a sign
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I'm on my knees
I never wanna die
I'm dancing on my grave
I'm running through the fire
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna leave
I never say goodbye
Forever, whenever, forever, whenever

I'm learning to walk again
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I'm learning to talk again
Can't you see I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?

I'm learning to walk again
I believe I've waited long enough
I'm learning to talk again
Can't you see I've waited long enough

Monday, January 23, 2012

Attention Bay Area Sports Fans

Shut up. Get a grip. Seriously. That's a killer loss, and I understand that. Any one of us who has ever been a fan of anyone or anything knows that feeling. It sucks. I get it. However, there is no excuse for ever issuing a death threat or wishing someone or someone's family physical harm over the outcome of a sporting event. Seriously, someone (@javpasquel) tweeted "I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it."

No, sir. You deserve to be taken to task and to have every media outlet from here to Siberia post your Twitter handle, so reasonable human beings can tee off on you and make it crystal clear to you what a piece of shit you actually are. (And what do you know? Looks like it happened, since you no longer have an active Twitter account.) Do us all a favor, and don't come back to social media until you grow up. Also, mix in some research because Kyle Williams is single and has no kids. He might even know the difference between "your" and "you're." Though, to be fair, you used neither. You made one up. Combine that with the impressive comma splice and the aforementioned factual inaccuracy, and you have done an unprecedented job of branding yourself an ignorant fuck. Nicely done!

Kyle Williams is the son of White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Kyle's older brother Kenny Jr. played for the Duluth Huskies, and from what I understand, the fact that he couldn't catch up to Northwoods League fastballs didn't deter him from being a total douche. Good to see he's lighting it up in double-A for daddy's organization. I would be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for the Giants and shouting "Kenny Williams' brother" whenever Kyle showed up on screen. Put those two things together, and it was kind of funny at the how his mistakes had such a central role in the outcome of the game. Call it a guilty pleasure.

But clearly my sense of perspective is all wrong! How dare he rob those poor, suffering SF sports fans of a trip to the Super Bowl that they so richly deserve for doing...oh wait...absolutely nothing! I never played at the professional level, and I don't claim to have a particularly good idea of what professional athletes do in the way of training and work, but I was close enough to big time NCAA athletics to realize that athletes aren't circus animals. We're very well aware of the stakes during games, and have always had (and WILL always have) more invested in the outcome. Period. So, "dear" Bay Area sports fans, save the histrionics because, to quote the immortal Bull Durham, "You don't know shit, meat."

Disclaimer: I have facetiously mused in private conversations to a couple of my friends and family members who are 49ers fans that I hoped Jim Harbaugh got hit by a Muni train. It was a joke. Everyone knows a Muni train would simply break down and never hurt anyone anyway. He didn't know what I said. He wouldn't care anyway. And anyone who knows me, knows that I don't wish death on anyone--even someone as douchey as Jim Harbaugh.

Furthermore, as much as I can't stand him, Harbaugh does deserve a ton of credit for his ability to coach and get his team to buy into the true team concept and culture--no small feat with a bunch of guys getting paid millions of dollars. The way Williams' teammates jumped to his defense and picked him up in the face of it all says way more than all the tears currently filling up the bay. But I guess it's easy to keep perspective when you're not the victim.

Friday, January 20, 2012

US Government is Dropping the SOPA

Stories have flown in from all over the Interwebz, and as you would expect with that particular medium, most of it universally positive about how the evil SOPA is no more, and the Internet triumphs over evil corporate agenda-driven Hollywood. That's all well and good, and I do believe that on the aggregate, this is a huge win for numerous reasons. Here are a couple links to stories about it:

Mashable: SOPA Is Dead: Smith Pulls Bill
Techcrunch: SOPA Scorecard: Internet 1, Lobbyists 0

However, (and there is always a however), one of the better articles I read in response to the whole ordeal came from one of the trade pubs I work with for my job, Digiday. Here are a few highlights from the article:

"In reality, the only thing worse than the potential damage that SOPA might inflict is the wave of misplaced earnestness and hypocrisy displayed by much of the tech industry of late."

"In fact, however misguided some of the safeguards built into SOPA and PIPA are, it’s fundamentally about catching bad guys, not destroying free speech. And you should care about that more than you do.

"It’s striking still to this day how naive some in Silicon Valley can be when it comes to the media industry. Many in the business still parrot the libertarian thinking from the Napster era — information yearns to be free, you can’t cut off ideas, the Internet is a utopia, etc.

"Aren’t those days over? Google and Facebook are billion-dollar companies. This is about business, not philosophy or sociology. It’s time for some folks to ditch the bottle and start drinking from a big-kid cup."

I would encourage you to read the whole article to get it all in context, but the point about the Internet being a huge business is spot on. Just because we use it and don't pay a monetary fee to Google doesn't mean that it's not a business that is looking at ways to make money. The difference is that we don't understand how it works, so it's not "real" to us. We understand the transactional nature of paying for a movie. That's our money. We grasp that concept.

Yes, the Internet is a whole new world that plays by different rules, and yes, SOPA and PIPA amounted to Hollywood lobbying Congress to swing at a piñata. But Hollywood wasn't wrong to want to protect its investment any more than Internet companies are wrong wanting to protect theirs.

The fact that the MPAA has the balls to come out and say that SOPA protests are "a gimmick" and that they turn people into "corporate pawns" is patently ridiculous. Do you know of any person or group of people more ridiculous and myopic than movie/entertainment fanboys? Oh wait, maybe tech Apple fanboys....nevermind...

The overriding point is this: whichever side of this debate you fall on, you need to have a good reason for it, and "not having Wikipedia for a day pissed me off" is not any more valid than any argument the MPAA, RIAA or whomever hell else has made. Read articles. Form your own opinion. Educate yourself, so you're not part of the faceless masses who bitched and squawked because you didn't have Wikipedia for a day.

SOPA and PIPA are dead for the time being, but that, in and of itself, is not cause for celebration. As great as the response was across the country and as inspiring as it is that people found a voice, the reality of the situation is that it's like the rest of life--not a black and white issue in which one side is right and one side is wrong. Read up kids. This is just the beginning.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fighting Back by Going Black

So as anyone who hasn't lived under a rock the last month knows, there are a couple pieces of legislation circulating in Congress that are aimed at targeting pirates rogue sites that infringe on copyright. They are called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Across the Internet publishers and companies protested this in various ways--the most extreme of which were blacking out their sites for the day. It has become so hotly contested between Silicon Valley and Hollywood that it is (rightfully) being framed as an incredibly divisive issue, but I have a different take on the entire situation. This SOPA madness is exactly what this country needs.

Let's start with where we all agree. Pirating is bad. For our own selfish reasons, at times we like pirated copies of things because it's a benefit to us, but we also recognize that this has a negative impact on those who produce and copyright the work that is pirated--namely movies and songs (which is why Hollywood is understandably pissed). Clearly, the fundamental problem with the whole SOPA deal is not the idea behind it. That's fairly sound, and there really isn't much debate around that.

The true root of the issue is that the rogues who are collectively wiping their ass with the whole concept of intellectual property are outside the US. How, then, is Congress going to change any of that by enforcing laws on US companies? Furthermore, how qualified is Congress to even discuss the Internet, let alone regulate it? Anyone who has paid attention to any portion of the Net Neutrality debate knows that the answer is "not a lot."

To their credit, though, some members of Congress seem to be treating this differently. Assuming motivations are pure (which they never are in politics) and not financially-driven (which they always are in politics), it's admirable that they want to do something to protect the copyrighted work of artists in this country. We want to foster that type of creativity and innovation within our own borders. It's part of what makes this country great.

But SOPA isn't just a shot into the dark. It's a firestorm, and the collateral damage could be catastrophic.

Remember the part about fostering innovation and promoting creativity? There's this thing called the Internet that has led to a lot of that, and it's the innocent bystander that gets slaughtered if this legislation passes. How is a search engine supposed to continue to drive innovation when the government is telling it to waste its time picking through its index for something that may link to something from a rogue? How is a blog supposed to purge all images/references to brands because it hasn't gotten the "expressed written consent" of the people in charge of it? Am I getting shut down and arrested for using this image? What about this one?

The Internet age has completely obliterated the old model and restructured way people receive information. That's a good thing. Since when are options for alternative viewpoints bad?  Yes, I realize print journalism is "dying," but aggregated media is a huge opportunity, and the pubs that are smart enough to innovate can capitalize on the new distribution--and monetization--models that are emerging.

There are plenty of phenomenal resources that discuss the bits and bytes and the legal arguments for why this whole thing is a complete mess. I won't rehash all that, and if you really want to talk about the viability of endpoint security solutions and packet flow evaluation, I would be happy to discuss (before informing you that you need serious help). But I would encourage all three five seven of my readers to read every last one of them. Here are a couple links to get you started: Ars Technica, Google, and the New York Times. (There's a reason Ars is first. If you read no others, read that one.)  

We all have that one "friend" who is just sure that he/she is always right and will argue and argue until everyone else gives up, which of course will only continue to feed that person's self delusion that he/she was, in fact, right. Everyone silently hates that guy/girl and just brushes the whole deal off, knowing that nothing will really change and, for the most part, arguing is futile. That's usually how Congress works. But this SOPA thing is a whole different animal, and the results have been astounding.

Creative: To further drive its point, Google locked this image. Had to take a screenshot of a screenshot to get this image.

Some members of Congress are realizing they're way out over their skis and  are backing off their stances, accordingly. The most vicious competitors in Silicon Valley and beyond are on the same side of an issue, are pissed and rallying supporters to let the government know about it. Household brand names all went dark for a day purely to protest. We got fun things like this. And this. And, of course, this.

Some of it was done in silly ways, but the fact of the matter is that it's all serious. The reaction from a generally complacent demographic in a generally complacent nation has been strong, unified and heard at the highest level. To me, that's the most impressive thing of all. I love this SOPA deal.

UPDATE: Looks like I'm not the only person who feels this way. PC World does too. Take a look.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Random Stuff

Knowing full well that it's been too long since I posted and needing inspiration, I sought the advice of a friend, who said she had no inspiration for me...and then proceeded to give me inspiration. "There's nothing going on...nothing to read about other than Golden Globes coverage. Also Madonna looks terrible." Win. Thanks, Nicole!

Let's start with Golden Globes coverage. I don't even know what the Golden Globes actually are. Seriously. I grew up in LA, and I have no clue. As far as I'm concerned it's just another of the anonymous Hollywood awards shows, which are generally full of the toolish douchebaggery that viewers fawn over. I know what the Emmy's and the Oscar's are, and I know what the Grammy's are. (I know what the CMA's are because their name is self-explanatory. Other awards shows should look into this naming convention.)  Here are two headlines from the LA Times that jumped out at me.

"Golden Globes Irrelevant? Maybe. But not the speeches"

"Censors have no problem with penis jokes"

Seriously. This is what the only largest newspaper in this massive media market has to say about this awards show. Good to know that I'm on par with the rest of the population, and I'm not missing anything relevant. Frightening to know that, as a former Crespi student, I am qualified to be a censor for said awards show that I know dick nothing about. Print news may be dying, but I wish there was a way to see the pass along rate because I can pretty much guarantee people ate those stories up. 

(Nicole is now telling me how Meryl Streep said "shit" because she forgot her glasses and couldn't read her speech. Clearly, that is frowned upon, but you can decide if it's frowned upon because you're not supposed to say that or because any moment of authenticity is verboten in the context of an entertainment event.) 

So what I'm surmising is that this is one of the many screen-focused awards shows. But then there is this Madonna thing that I was informed about. And now we're back to being confused.

However, my confusion surrounding the awards show pales in comparison to my confusion about the Super Bowl halftime show. (I'm not making money off this blog. Fewer than 10 people will read it. It is not the "Big Game." It is the Super Bowl.) Who in their right mind thought that Madonna would be a good idea for that? Seriously, after Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson Nipplegate, the whole concept of the halftime show has floundered and just been a directionless mess (kind of like my blog but MUCH more expensive and MUCH more visible). 

Though I'm not a Springsteen guy, he makes sense. Prince didn't really make all that much sense to me, but I thought it was good. But then there are the Stones (who are awesome but what the hell are we doing putting a British band on stage at the freakin' Super Bowl?) and the Black Eyed Peas and whoever the hell else has been on there. It's all over the map and seems to be more miss than hit. Yes, Madonna is a legend. I get that. But does anyone really want to hear "Like a Virgin" or "Vogue" at halftime of the Super Bowl? If you do, I refuse to watch the game with you.

I may refuse to watch the game altogether if it's going to be LSU and Alabama Part 3 the 49ers and the Ravens. Unless Ray Lewis tackles Jim Harbaugh. That I would watch. But since that's unlikely, please, for the love of God offense something watchable, we need a Giants-Patriots rematch.

So there you go. Huge thanks to Nicole (whose bosses are apparently racist and whose former coworkers think I'm racist), who had to work today and hit me on gchat when I logged in to check mail. Goes to show...you never know who you might inspire (or "inspire").

Sunday, January 8, 2012

National "Championship" Game Tomorrow Night

Who's pumped up and ready to watch what will, undoubtedly, be an absolute shootout?! Yeah...me neither. And at the end of it, one team will hoist a crystal football and celebrate an NCAA title...except that there is no NCAA title in Division IA the Bowl Subdivision. Just take a look at how many of these were awarded by the NCAA. Yet, at the most critical juncture of the season, it delegates the "championship" of its prized product to multiple third parties. Clearly I'm no expert, but to me, that is the very definition of a lack of institutional control.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Geography, New Resolve

Ah, a new year. A time to reflect on the previous year and to look forward to what lies ahead. This time, it's 2012. I need to say this because, it was damn near 2010 the last time I posted anything on this blog, so I need to remind my legions handful of readers that we have, in fact, skipped 2011. Seriously. DL blog years are like anti-dog years. They're not uniform, and they're often comparable to 2x one calendar year...or the time it takes a page to load on Internet Explorer. I hereby resolve to reverse that trend in 2012...keeping in mind that resolutions are always a work in progress.

Speaking of New Year's resolutions, I ran across this great article, which was posted by one of the folks I follow on the intense time suck known as Twitter. I pass along to you 20 New Year's Resolutions For 20-Somethings. I'll leave it to you to read, but it basically is supposed to give you a positive outlook and, right off the top, warn you not to post things to social media platforms unless you absolutely have to share them. Well, I absolutely had to share this article. I, along with 17 thousand other people have shared this on my Facebook page already, but I've shared zero commentary about it. Until now.

Some of these are no-brainers. Some of these are borderline revolutionary. Some are easy. Some are difficult. They're all worthwhile. It's a good blend of reminders and suggestions--all written in a witty, conversational tone that speaks directly to the audience. Great read. And it made me think of my own resolutions.

Clearly, one of them is to get back on the horse with this blogging thing. There are days when I come home from staring at a computer screen at work, and the last thing I want to do is to stare at a computer screen at home and write. This is obviously not one of those days. In evaluating why I fell off the blogging horse to begin with, I came to the conclusion that I had spread myself too thin in a lot of ways, and the personal writing is what I sacrificed. It's a matter of prioritizing differently, and my goal is to update more regularly. Stay tuned. (You'll know in a month if you can change the channel.)

Another thing I have been working on but need to continue to push myself to keep working on is reducing my reaction to negativity. Things happen. Sometimes those things suck. Sometimes they suck a LOT. A lot of the time, we can't do a thing about it. Most of the time, though, they go away and we realize that they weren't all that big of a deal in the first place.

That said, how stupid is it to fight it? We drive ourselves crazy trying to control things that we can't control and lose control of the things we can, thereby driving everyone else around us crazy. To some extent, we are all guilty of this. I firmly believe that it's impossible to completely eliminate this because it's partially human nature. But there's always room for improvement. I resolve to help others and myself trend in that direction.

Speaking of room for improvement, I got my first piece of mail since I've lived here! Yay! I've been here two months. I don't know what the eff the US Postal Service has been doing with my mail, other than returning it to people who put the correct name and address on it. It's an annoyance when it's Christmas cards. (Sorry Grandma, Uncle Greg and Aunt Linda, Dave and Erin and Mr. and Mrs. Caton...don't know what to tell you, but Merry Christmas anyway!)

However, when I set up my utilities for this apartment, I wanted to set things up to manage them online. Save paper, not deal with the lag time of snail mail, etc. I was told that to do so, I would need the account number that would be at the top of my first statement. They obviously have my address and my name right. There is power in my apartment, but for how long? At some point, they're going to get pissed that I haven't paid my bill.

So I spent my evening filling out yet another change of address request online before I was assaulted by ads for magazine subscriptions and coupons for that racist home "improvement" wasteland Lowe's. I'm really glad that the postal service can't figure out my address, but they can strike a number of ad deals and use them to piss off the very people they're supposed to serve! America! No wonder they're going broke. So anyway, I did what any reasonable person would do. I filled out their survey and blistered them. I'm pretty sure no one will ever read that (kind of like my blog).  Then I sat down to write this blog and talked about how I'm working toward eliminating negativity. Whoops. I guess this resolution thing really is a work in progress.