Category Archives: Online Media

Not Deceased

So I’m currently contemplating leaving iOS (at least for my phone usage; I’ll keep my iPad), and moving over to Android again. The motivator? I want to give Google’s Project Fi a try. Of course that means my cellphone options are limited since Fi only works with a few phones. So of course, I want the best of the options available, which means a Pixel.

Out of the gate, cash up front, those buggers are expensive. However, Google has a 0% interest financing plan available that divides the cost up into monthly payments over 2 years that alongside my Google Fi bill would still be less, according to my calculations, than I pay for AT&T currently. Cool. No problem. My credit score is awesome. Easy.

So I went online to apply and it said it would take 10 days to process. Yesterday, in the mail (like physical paper mail. Not email.), I received a letter from the bank Google has handling their financing and I’m told that the other entity that they use to run credit was denying my application because “The applicant is deceased.”

I’m not actually deceased (I think; I may be a hologram, but not deceased yet), so my best guess to what happened is this lazy bank confused me, being a III, with my deceased father, the II. Not sure how this happens, given that we don’t have the same birth date or social security number, but it looks like that’s what happened. So I call the only number or point of contact available on the form to straighten everything out and all there is is an automated system where the only options available are to request a free copy of your credit report or pay extra to also get your credit score included.

So anyway, I could simply finance the purchase myself now, but I’m sour on the whole idea and decided to wait until there is a waterproof Pixel on the market. Also, I’m concerned that this clerical error by this one stupid service that offers no recourse to correct the problem will have some sort of odd ripple effect through all the similar services out there.

In any case, despite digital and fiscal rumors to the contrary, I am still alive and kicking.

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Unsubscribing from all the things

I really miss the heyday of RSS feeds. After running my own installation of Fever for years (which would periodically get bloated and I’d have to nuke it and start over) and then ultimately moving away from Fever after Shaun Inman discontinued support sometime last year, I’ve been using FeedWrangler, which I’m relatively pleased with.

Remember when you could actually find tons of useful options for locally hosted RSS feed readers back before we really cared about mobile phone support and reading the same feeds everywhere and Google Reader spoiled us all and then Google ruined our lives by shit-canning Google Reader? *sigh* Those were the good ole days of RSS. Amirite, Dave?

Anyhoot, my point is: RSS is great and I wish it were still as popular as it used to be with all the appropriate tools to support it. It allows you to subscribe to and be notified by all the things that you’d like to know about and you can easily skim through items you don’t care about in feeds.

This is extremely unlike the recent trend of email lists and subscriptions to emails… Where you have to open each one to mark it read. Where you have to click delete to make it actually go away. Where you have to religiously click UNSUBSCRIBE if you don’t want the emails reproducing like wet Mogwai who you fed after midnight.

Signal to noise ratio. That’s the problem.

There’s too much noise in modern society and not enough signal. Also, the plethora of signals available thanks to the commoditization of the internet mean that too often everyone is surrounded by microcosms of opinions that are just like their own. Everyone is stuck in their own little personally-nuanced echo chambers that distort our reality and make us think things like there is no way that guy could ever be President and tell themselves lies like “Oh he’ll never get sworn in. They’ll realize something illegal about him,” or “He didn’t even want to win. He’ll probably quit,” or “You know, he used to vote Democrat. Maybe this is all a ruse to get the Presidency and then he’ll get in office and actually be very liberal.” Yeah. Right.

So, yes, what I’ve veered into now is beyond just emails, and is actually inclusive of RSS feeds (if one doesn’t diligently subscribe to a variety of different voices to avoid the echo chamber effect), BUT emails are a key part of the commoditization of the internet. When we all first started blogging, it wasn’t about money. It was about having a voice in what was then a wild west of information. Now, it’s become a sea of advertisements. And they are all targeting you and tracking you and the majority of the emails that you receive (that aren’t from grandma or one of your coworkers who can’t convey what they want to in a text) are actually tied to the commoditized internet and are either trying to sell you something or pull you back in to read more things that they already know you like reading specifically so that your eyeballs will continue to see the advertisements they’ve sold alongside that content, which are also now presented based on things that they know that you’ve bought in the past.

And because of that: I highly recommend that we all unsubscribe from as many of the things as you can. Start with email lists. Start with deal sites. Start with Product Hunt. Start with Facebook. Start with your podcasts. Remove everything that reads or sounds too much like the thoughts you already have in your head.

Do that, and then start looking for other voices that are different. Don’t pick a lot of the same sort of different. Choose a variety. Read those for a week. Then add in a few of the ones that are more in line with what you already think. Have a healthy cornucopia of opinions and thoughts coming in. Then start your own blog. Or your own Twitter feed. Or however you think you can best broadcast what new thoughts you’re thinking from all that input and let’s start having some effective discourse again. Like we used to before we let ourselves be commoditized.

TUAW and Engadget #tuaw4ever

The saddest news about Aol. shutting down TUAW today is that TUAW has finally lost the battle against Engadget.

Don’t get me wrong. Engadget is great. Weblogs, Inc. was built upon the success of Engadget. Engadget was a blogging machine built by Brian Alvey, Jason Calacanis, and Peter Rojas after Jason successfully persuaded Peter to jump ship from Gizmodo and build a better Gizmodo. The audience followed Peter’s star power as an established gadget and technology blogger, Engadget started out-scooping Gizmodo, and it was a success. Weblogs, Inc was a machine of blogs built to feed off and grow the traffic that was contained by Engadget. Engadget linking to all the other sites legitimized those sites in Google’s eyes at the time and those sites all linking back to Engadget made Engadget even more relevant to Google and it started regularly beating Gizmodo and other tech sites in searches for keywords. “Sony released a new Vaio, let me research buying it before I go to Circuit City and pick it up.” User goes to Google, searches for “new Sony Vaio” and Engadget started becoming the first result. That structure, combined with a pack of some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known, is a very brief summary of what made Weblogs, Inc a success and an acquisition target in AOL’s eyes.

TUAW (and Joystiq, in a different way) was different. It was a site that at any moment could become irrelevant and absorbed into Engadget because it was another tech blog and a percentage of its posts were duplicative of posts on Engadget. However, (like Joystiq), TUAW was differentiated by a separate audience. A fanatical audience. People who liked to not think differently, but to think different. It was also not a professional blogging machine. It wasn’t just another tech blog. It was attitude. It was it’s own voice.

It was also farm league for Engadget. Barb was leaving TUAW in 2005 and on her way out, Jason, Judith, and Barb brought me in. As all of you know who know me: I am all attitude. I am opinionated. I am blunt. I am also playful. And so was TUAW. We weren’t chasing the pro-blogger thing. We were the other, slightly less loved kid, who often acted out.

That was unique. That’s what Aol. is killing today. #tuaw4ever

At least that’s my take. Take it for what it’s worth.

No more advertisements

I’ve had advertisements on this site forever. I just removed them. There’s no point. In any case, if you like the things I tend to write and do and you want to motivate me to keep doing these things / do them more often, I set up a Patreon page where you can become a patron.

Although, I must say, although I like the idea behind Patreon, I don’t like the execution much. It’s very inflexible. Why can’t I set up different types of patronage for different endeavors at different price points? Why is everything either recurring by month or recurring by thing created? Why is there no one-time tip jar option? Why is there no commission option? Why is the wizard to create your page soooo annoying that it makes me want to create my own version of Patreon in competition to it?

 

UPDATE: Added them back in 2017.

I haven’t given up on blogging and neither should you

I’ve just been really, really, incredibly busy. I see other people giving up on blogging. Like Scoble today, who is most likely doing it for a stunt, like he’s done before with Google+ and Posterous (or as I like to call them, dying and dead). It’s a stupid move.

The only reason I post as much to twitter as I do is because I have a backup of all that data here on this blog. This is my space. It’s my corner of the Internet that I have full control over. It’s not some other company owning everything I post. That’s important. Since we all first started blogging in the last part of the last century, this has been one of the most important parts of what we’re doing here. This is a new frontier. We’re trailblazing it. We have our own voices and no one can silence us.

Giving that freedom over entirely to Twitter or Facebook or any social network is relinquishing that freedom, even if these social networks don’t abuse their power.

“Did you see the blog I wrote on Facebook today?” <--Statements like this make me gag a little. But that's how popularized blogging has become as a decentralizing form of communication. It was the wild west, and it was powerful, and now it's popularized and being consumed by large social networks that will eventually die, fade away, or morph into something new that the original users didn't want (like what Facebook underwent when it first separated itself from Universities, and what FourSquare has recently been through by separating their check-ins from their primary app). I see tons of discussion about news media and the way it's all changing and how newspapers are dying and how they're all trying to become this new form of blogging. Just losing a bit of the editorial overhead you've had for years doesn't make your news source a blog. Being an individual voice, opinionated, speaking in your own space out here on the digital frontier, screaming, whispering, and sometimes being heard and sometimes not with the full freedom to be as right or as wrong as you end up being. That is being a free speaking human. That is blogging. Everyone should do it. Return to it.