Mélange

8 11 2008

Regarding this most recent absence which has been my longest hiatus since starting this blog, I don’t have much to say. For expressing my opinion on issues, sharing neat finds from the web, and sharing quick anecdotes from my day, Twitter has taken over thanks to its higher efficiency at all those things. Twitter is no replacement for blogging as a whole, as a controversial Wired article written by Valleywag author Paul Boutin recently suggested. If nothing else, blogging is and will remain an oyster for writers. Do I still consider myself a writer? I suppose, but I’m casual enough that writing school papers here and there and composing 140 character quips is all it takes to satisfy my appetite these days. The common saying, “eats like a bird” just came to mind, and how ironic that Twitter, whose imagery is little birds, is the champion of “writing like a bird”. (I bet Jack Dorsey didn’t think of that. How English studenty of me.)

The other major deterrent from posting here is my ongoing struggle with subject matter and an unstable stance on public identity. Do I post for myself or my audience? How much do I want to share? Do I focus on personal newsy posts or try to write periodic articles about things I think are important? These are the questions I’ve wrestled with since the beginning and, thanks to my tendency to be a perfectionist, they end up immobilizing me.

Self-reflexivity aside, what actually moved me to put on my blogging cap again was a momentary crescendo of frustration about the Brandon Crisp story. Despite having cooled off while thoughtfully plunking out the last two paragraphs, I still feel strongly about this issue. Here’s what you’ve been hearing on the news lately: Xbox-addicted teen from Barrie, Ontario has fight with father regarding excessive Call of Duty 4 playage; father takes console away, teen leaves home and vanishes. Parents suspect he’s been abducted or lured away by blood-drinking miscreants he met playing the game. A few weeks later, his body is found in the wilderness.

I was about to go off on a big rant about this: about how I suspect the parents are the main factor at fault here, and how I think it’s sad that the media turns this into a story about the dangers of gaming when it should be raising questions about parenting. But I’ve mostly lost the fire for anything long and in-depth. Suffice it to say that, despite how many times I’ve seen it now, the mainstream media’s propensity to spin things a certain way – for ratings, or simplicity’s sake, or a combination of both – never ceases to amaze me. Adding salt to the wound was FutureShop’s decision to cancel midnight launch events planned for Gears of War 2 out of respect for Brandon Crisp, despite this game having nothing to do with the game that Crisp played. And I respect the spirit of decency behind the decision, (although I suspect it’s more about playing it safe) but unfortunately it only does more to feed the public perception that video games brought about the untimely death of a fifteen year-old.

Update: Autopsy says: Brandon fell out of a tree and sustained mortal injuries. Rest easy, kid.

Exhibit two: CNN’s “holograms” on election night, which they led audiences to believe were Star Wars-like in that a projection was physically visible on the studio floor. Wolf Blitzer mechanically gushes, “Oh wow, yeah, I can totally see you standing right there, as if you’re really in the room with me! Wow! That is really amazing!” as if he’s hiding something. The Discovery Channel’s interview with a CNN rep revealed that, no, in fact, what they were doing was really just green screen, more or less. Projecting a hologram-like image of the correspondants onto screens, but not into the studio. While it may not seem like a big deal if CNN wants to pretend they have sci-fi tech on a really big night, I question what other illusions they’re willing to spin as the truth. Note that a fair amount of effort went into this little publicity stunt. At first I thought they avoided calling the hologram anything specifically and that’s how they were able to get away with being dishonest. However, Wikipedia explains that “Calling this technique ‘holography’ was just an ‘artistic license’.” World, beware: “the most trusted name in news” is dabbling in the arts.

Also note how in this article from CNN themselves, this “Chris Welch” character lies through his teeth about what he saw on the studio floor. Nice journalistic integrity you have there, Chris.

It’s misrepresentations like these, and more importantly, the bigger things that have been misrepresented and more carefully covered up, that I see as a serious problem in democratic communities. When I say I want to “go into media studies” when I’m finished my English degree, this is one of the main issues I have in mind and I think deserves looking into.

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Dead Blog is Not Dead

10 07 2008

It’s not. I’m just busy these days. Well, sort of.

I’m excited because my next and final assignment for CIS 1000 is to create and publish a simple webpage. I’ve been wanting to learn CSS for a looong time, but haven’t had the motivation to sit down and teach myself. Well, now I have to learn. Awesome. I expect this will be hands down the most helpful thing I get out of the course.

So apparently there was a BarCamp in Guelph today and I missed it. Didn’t find out until it was too late. However, apparently there’s another one happening in September, (upstairs in the Albion – I love it) and I am so there. Perhaps, what with my impending CSS mastery and all, I’ll be able to, y’know, demo something myself.  HAHAHA YEAH RIGHT MANG It could totally happen! Totally.

So I rented Bioshock. Didn’t get much time to play it, but I didn’t make much time either. I really respect their hard work, but ultimately the game didn’t really grab me. Kind of unimpressed on the whole, but I will definitely give it another whirl sometime.

So I was away camping last weekend. I got burned, hard. On the night of said burning I got all feverish and that lasted until the next morning. I’m cool now. Get it? Cool?

So I’m on Twitter – a lot. Follow me at twitter.com/dbeatty. It’s probably one of the main reasons I’m not doing much blogging anymore. Between Twitter, Facebook, Twitter integration into Facebook, del.icio.us links, and my other blog, there’s barely any need for this one.

So I bought these new cargo shorts. They’re awesome. I also love Metric these days. I listen to them and The Whitest Boy Alive quite a bit in the car. Like earlier, when I drove to Wendy’s to buy my parents dinner – a plain cheeseburger for dad and a chili for mum – at which time I had one of those encounters where you see someone you knew years ago, but were never really friends with, and neither of you acknowledges that you knew each other; but you think they must remember you, because you remember them. Then again, I have an absurd talent for remembering people.

So yeah, anyways.





I Love FF3

25 06 2008

Firefox 3 has been out for several days now. Mozilla got themselves into the Guinness Book of Records with FF3 exceeding 8 million downloads in the first 24 hours of release. That number has since climbed to nearly 21 million. While it’s not perfect, I’m really loving it so far. Very fast, efficient, and pretty. I’m sporting a banner for it now on my sidebar. I think the pink adds flair.

I don’t post much these days, but something exciting is in the works for this blog. Stay tuned.





Bwuh, Belated Birthday

15 06 2008

I forgot my blog’s birthday!

Ceci n’est pas une Blog has now been going for two years and ten days.

Last summer I requested some tall orders in terms of feedback and got no response, so this time I’ll just remind my tiny readership that I really care about people’s suggestions, and am grateful for any and all feedback. What can I do to make this blog better? More interesting? Better organized? Easier on the eyes? You name it. I do maintain this blog primarily for my own enjoyment, which I suppose makes me kind of weird, but I definitely like it a lot better when I know others are getting something out of it too. Your comments on this and all posts are more than welcome, or if you’re shy you can always drop me a line at thebeatts[at]gmail[dot]com. This same sentiment goes for my research blog too, of course.

As always, thanks for reading. See you on the flipside.

-Dave





Swing and a Miss. And a Hit.

15 06 2008

Times are frustrating.

My summer distance ed course, CIS 1000, requests assignments completely based around Windows software which I know I’ve mentioned. I can get away with using my Mac versions of most Office suite software like Word and Excel, but no such alternative exists for Access. So I was like, ok whatever, I’ll just partition my drive with a Windows XP section and use Access on that. Hard drive partitioning has traditionally been, well, not for the technophobic – but Leopard comes with Boot Camp: a simple wizard to walk even the most timid user through the process, step by step.

My luck being what it is, though, I actually got a kernel panic after completing the first step, which is telling Boot Camp I wanted 10 gigs of my little Seagate drive to be partitioned off, just for Windows XP. A kernel panic is a scary thing the first time you see one, because you’re suddenly hit with this screen that says SOMETHING JUST WENT SERIOUSLY WRONG AND YOU MIGHT BE ROYALLY SCREWED in several languages. Fortunately, thanks to my experiences with Azureus, (the popular bittorrent client that throws hissy fits when asked to play with Leopard on Core Duo machines like mine) I’d seen this screen before and knew what to search for. Turns out this problem isn’t too uncommon, although I’d never heard of it before today. So be warned: multi-OS-geeks, Windows switchers, etc…getting your pretty new Mac to dual boot with Windows is not all sunshine and rainbows.

Now, according to what I’ve read, the kernel panic occurring in the middle of the partition process has a nasty after-effect: it takes whatever space you set aside, (10g in my case) and renders it unusable. That is, until you use the Disk Utility combined with your re-install discs to repair the damage. Too bad I was never given re-install discs when I acquired the new Leopard-ladden hard drive from my local Apple retailer. But it’s cool, because I can just borrow somebody else’s re-install discs, right? Nope! Versions of Leopard that shipped with Core 2 Duo Macbooks and the like aren’t actually compatible with slightly older hardware. Does Apple carry any disc, any disc at all, that would remedy my problems? Apparently not.

In conclusion, (of this topic anyhow) Steve Jobs: you owe me 10 gigabytes. At least.

The “hit” in this entry’s title refers to the fact that Office 2007 is actually available for a free 60-day trial, which is of course substantial time to use it for my school needs. So yeah, pretty solid.

Things otherwise are pretty good I suppose, although I haven’t found another job yet. Doing so isn’t exactly easy, unless you’re willing to lie through your teeth and tell potential employers that yes, you were going to school in another city but, heck, you decided to give that up and spend some quality time at home and work at T-Ho’s. (That’s Hortons, for the uninitiated.) But, to be fair, I haven’t been working as hard at regaining employment as I could, partly due to pessimism about the prospects and partly to do with the fact that I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. Last night the gang celebrated Peter’s 20th birthday at Dundas’s Thirsty Cactus, and ended the night in classic fashion by pummeling one another’s avatars on Peter’s new Wii. A couple nights before that I attended the monthly swing night at The Pepperjack Cafe, (which we call “Pepperjack’s”, a name I like better because I imagine a saucy owner named Jack who is fond of my group of friends, but pretends not to be.) Our lessons have been at a standstill for a while, so social dancing now basically degrades to me loafing awkwardly around trying to remember something besides step, step, triple-step. Nonetheless, I’m still enjoying it, and super-excited to resume regular lessons this week.

And tomorrow the gang and the whole Rockwell clan are heading to the Toronto Zoo of all places. I’ve never been. Can’t wait to see some polar bears or whatever.





Diplomacy

6 06 2008

So I got let go from Sears today.

Yeah, you read that right. Kind of a shocker. Long story short, they say it’s because they’re having real problems in my department (this is true) and need to make drastic changes…they brought me in for summer hoping it would turn around, and it hasn’t, so they decided to go back on that decision. I was promised glowing references whenever I need them, and left on pleasant terms.

So yeah. Back on the hunt. Oddly enough, the first and foremost concern that keeps coming to mind isn’t so much to do with not having money, but more dreading the incoming stress that comes with being unemployed. Because, before I got my job at Sears back in the first place, I couldn’t enjoy anything I was doing in my spare time because I was always thinking, “I should/could be doing more toward finding a job.” And about an hour after I got the call asking me when I could start working, I was able to sit down and write a long overdue letter to a friend that had been on the back burner for a month. It was at that point I realized what a strain it is to be worrying constantly about finding work, and I definitely don’t want to go back to that.

Anyhoo, worrying aside, at least I can sleep in a little tomorrow.





Random Things that are Good:

5 06 2008

  • I now own a copy of Convergence Culture and can’t wait to get further into it. My copy of Grand Theft Childhood is on its way.
  • Tomorrow night I’m going to hear the Count Basie orchestra (I know he’s dead, but the band plays on apparently) at the Dundas square in TO. A whole posse of my friends are hitting that up. Seriously excited about this.
  • Yesterday I bought a new pair of jeans and a shirt that I love. They are sexy.
  • I rented Mass Effect for my 360 and think it’s great. I’m still surprised at the extent to which I’m not driven to play too much, though. It’s amazing how much PC gaming is a breed apart from console gaming. At first I definitely wanted to buy it, but now I’m having second thoughts.
  • Might be going camping with the crew on an upcoming weekend, but on the not-so-good side, I may have to sit this one out because of work.
  • My course, CIS 1000, continues to be really on-target in some ways, but pretty bizarre in others. For example, the textbook prophetizes (<<why is WordPress insisting this isn’t a real word?) the rise of ubiquitous computing, with items like cars that drive places for you and have highly-adaptive AI. I like this because it’s what I’m writing about. The course in general also promotes awareness of open-source options, but then absolutely insists that students be running Windows to participate and execute assignments. My upcoming assignment involves creating Excel spreadsheets. The next one has us create a database in Microsoft Access. Like, what? Does anyone even use these apps anymore in real life? If we’re going to be doing databases, I wish they’d teach us MySQL or something. That would be so useful, not to mention, you know, free. Oh well.
  • In short measure I’m becoming a Twitterholic. I’ve been talking about this a lot in my research notes lately, and I’m starting to get ideas about replacing my caller ID-less, clunky old Audiovox phone with something I’d be less reluctant to carry around and update from. Hurry up and get released in Canada, iPhone! Yeah, I’m seriously thinking about it. Time to go check the ol’ bank balance.