Where is my future?

As a kid I never expected to see the year 2000. Especially just before the end of the Cold War, when it seemed like the stalemate with the U.S.S.R. would continue for millennia, and knowing that the missile base just miles from our house was a prime target for a nuclear strike.*

My lack of expectations for the new century were so low, particularly when you add in the vague but ominous threat posed by Y2K, that I remember saying goodbye before going to bed early on December 31, 1999. I fully expected that whatever came next would be in a new, different world. I woke up in the dark of the early morning on January 1, 2000, surprised that death didn’t look much different than life had, and then further surprised that the world hadn’t ended, that Chinese and old Soviet missiles had not struck Japan, where I was living at the time, when their controller computers failed (an event that appears to never have happened – maybe the old communist programmers were smart enough to avoid the kinds of programming shortcuts that resulted in the whole Y2K disaster).

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Thank You, Microsoft For Giving Me a Reason (Minecraft) to Teach My Children to Hate You

If you haven’t heard, Microsoft is buying Mojang, the creators of the insanely popular Minecraft open-world creation game.  My children love Minecraft.  They fight over who gets what device, and then when settled spend hours playing with each other an an enormous creative world.  These are children who will not get along for anything.  They love Minecraft.  Sometimes all they talk about is Minecraft.  But it gets them talking.  To each other.  For that reason, if for no other, I love Minecraft.  And yet the game itself is a ton of fun (which I discovered for myself during my annual vacation this last summer).

So the news that Microsoft is buying Mojang?  Horrible.  I come from the generation that couldn’t spell the name without dollar signs.  Micro$oft was my generation’s Babylon the Great, Whore of All the Earth.  The Enemy.  The Man.  The primary justification for the existence of Linux.  And then, about the time my kids came along, Microsoft just wasn’t that important anymore.  They had much more competition, and were even struggling to keep relevant in a new age.  I thought that the undying hate might actually die with me, and my children would grow up in a world of peace.  But today that all ends.  Children, meet the enemy from Redmond.

Disclaimer Note: I have grown up some since my youth, and in spite the tone of my comments above (which carries more of the anger of my children than of my own), am not an outright opponent of Microsoft.  I use Windows (reluctantly) at work, and even have a Windows partition somewhere on my laptop for those few things (Adobe Illustrator) that just won’t run in Linux.  If I had to say, these days I am rather ambivalent about the whole thing.  But Mr. Satya Nadella is making quite a statement buying Mojang, and has the opportunity to absolutely piss off an entire generation of children if Microsoft gets this wrong (like they seem to have largely done with acquisitions in the past).

Copyright Note: The featured image is posted all around as a Creative Commons image, but I have not yet been able to find an original source or author.  If you know where it came from, please point me in the right direction.  Thanks.

Today is the Last Day to Tell the FCC How You Feel About Net Neutrality

Today is the last day to submit online comments to the FCC on Net neutrality!  I have intended for a couple of weeks to submit comments to the FCC on how I feel about Net neutrality, and its upcoming rule-making upholding the ability of Internet Service Providers to slow down access to services that don’t pay extra fees to stay fast.  What does this mean?  It means that without a ruling in favor of Net neutrality, even though I pay a lot every month for high-speed internet access that is an order of magnitude or two faster than the national average, if I site I like doesn’t pay the V*****n [name of big-name ISP censored because my legal defense fund is small] tax, my access to it will be slow.  Even if they are paying their ISP for high-speed access as well.  Make sure you submit comments.

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Become More Awesome Through Constant Learning

As a nerd, learning what I can about just about anything is just an inherent part of who and what I am.  Continuous self-upgrading through daily learning is so important to me that I made it one of the foundational principles of the get-badass-slowly approach I am using in my Awesomeness Upgrade Project.   I was delighted this morning to read a great article by Paul Jun over on 99u titled Never Stop Learning: How Self-Education Creates a Bullet-Proof Career.   The points that Jun makes are right in line with the process that I have gone through with the AUP.

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Speed Reading and Staples’ Reading Speed Test

Reading is the foundation of my professional and private life. If you can read you can learn anything. It makes sense that if you can read (with comprehension) faster, you can learn faster. This is the part where the cheesy theme music starts, and speed reading steps out onto the stage wearing a cape.

Long the realm of graduate students and competition readers, speed reading has been all over the news recently (e.g. here and here) and a big clump of apps (like this, this, this, and this) and Web sites (e.g. here, here, and here) promising to teach you how to speed read have been showing up all over the Web.  I have been speed reading for much of my life – one of the tools that helped me survive grad school.  I just took a speed reading test on the Staples Web site. The content wasn’t very challenging, but I read 3,235 words a minute. Can you beat me?

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was younger, I had no problem finding new authors to like. I suppose it had something to do with having all the time in the world and that feeling of invincibility that only the young have. I read everything I got my hands on. Historical fiction? Bring it on. Translation from Arabic? Sure. Fifth book in a series I’ve never heard of by an unknown author? No problem (this happened many more times than you would imagine – especially as I got closer to finishing reading all the novels in our small branch library. Staying up all night reading every night wasn’t a problem – I had the energy of youth and healed fast. I had time to waste.

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Susan Cain on Networking for Introverts

Just a quick share.  I’m still in the depths of Nanowrimo and don’t expect to be surfacing at least until the end of the month, but this interview of Susan Cain, author of Quiet, by Marie TV (via Lifehacker).  Was interesting.  I like the idea of setting a quota for the number of social/networking events I have to participate in during a specific time period.  It helps me, though, to think of it as a budget.  There is a certain amount of networking that I have to do, but by setting this budget or quota, I don’t have to spend more of my personal energy and putting myself out there than I have budgeted for.

Happy November, everyone.

The Nerd’s Burden by McClellen

This is not part of my Nerd’s Burden series (see part 1 from earlier this evening), but I thought this English class parody of Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden (which you can read here) by McClellen of Not So Realistic Fake Apple is pretty good.  Read one of the verses:

Take up the Nerd’s burden.
The savage wars of stars.
Don’t let others be fooled
The original trilogy is best.
When your goal is near
Someone won’t have seen it.
And punish heathen blasphemy
About the special effects.

Now go and read the rest of the poem.  While you are there, read McClellen’s self-introduction – I don’t know much about her, but her introduction paragraph is hilarious.

The Nerd’s Burden (Part 1) – Information is Cool

I have referenced a lot of information about being a nerd.  If you have been following along, by now you know that nerdiness is ever so much more than pocket protectors and taped glasses.  The randsinrepose Nerd Handbook talks about “the amazing nerd appetite for knowledge.”  While this can result in amazing stores of useful information, skills, abilities, and trivia, it is also an incredible burden.  I am drawn to new knowledge like Mothra to Burning Man.  I deal with this all the time.  Today I had an experience that is typical of the nerd relationship to information.

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Wired’s Geekster Handbook

I just came across Wired Magazine’s Geekster Handbook (Subtitled  a Field Guide to the Nerd Underground) from 2008.  The post is more of a list than a handbook, the descriptions are offensively myopic stereotypes, and the whole thing describes caricatures of various geek subgroups, in spite of the use of the label nerd in the subtitle.  In spite of all that, the descriptions are pretty funny, and the illustration is entertaining.  I especially love the look the hacker is giving to the otaku girl.  I can’t tell whether it is a leer or a sneer.  An example from the list:

5. The Hacker
Disposition: Chronically crabby — then again, having such a superior intellect is a heavy burden. Paranoid tendencies.
Beliefs: One shall stand, one shall fall. Sun allergy is a real condition. Cybersex: not utterly disgusting. Cory Doctorow is too soft on DRM. 2600 magazine has gotten too commercial.
Turn-Ons: Trinity. l33t fluency. Narc-spotting at DefCon.

I’m not entirely sure whether this should be offensive or funny.  We live in an age where even a geek or nerd is supposed to be able to live free from ridicule.  So what if the otaku loves Japanese comics?  Some women obsessively love shoes.  Which passion is more stupid?  So what if the hacker loves computers?  Some men are so passionate about sports that they aren’t able to talk about, watch, or think about anything else (YouTube).  Which passion is more stupid?  If shoe lovers and sports fanatics deserve a life free from ridicule and scorn, don’t hackers, otaku, gadget geeks, fanboys, music geeks, and gamers?  Just to be up front, I thought that the post was humorous in spite of what it means.  But being funny doesn’t make it right.  [I didn’t actually intend this to be a rant.  Oh well – rant served.]

 

Image Credit: Photo in the Wired post attributed to James Chiang

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