$#*&6′ prebuilt computers

So Froydtech bought a Lenovo the other day. It was a good price for a processor, ram, mobo, and dvd player. I figured I’d be upgrading it as I went on. Good thoughts, right?

It reinforced my disgust with pre-built computers. The past few computers I’ve built myself. This one? The last one I’ll buy pre-built.

Between the integrated graphics card drivers not working (and not being able to update them through the download FROM LENOVO’S SITE), to the proprietary motherboard power connector, it was a pain in the butt.

You can read all about it Upgrading a Lenovo H50 at Solvetechproblems.com

Thwarting the crusader complex

I made the decision today to step back from an organization that needed some help. I have too much going on right now, and too many pans in the fire to watch and tend to tackle yet another one, especially if it’s another one that I’m ambivalent about right at the moment.

Basically, there had been some drama and I had stepped up with some information and some financial help…and the opportunity was to get even more deeply involved. To really help get it going again from the ground up, and to be integrated. To make some real changes to help the organization survive if the current troubles ever happened again. It appeals to me, to be honest, to be helping out when I can. However, as I’ve gotten older, I realize that this type of activity isn’t the best application of my time nor my talents.

First before we go any further, I’m not saying that my talents are all-that and a bag of chips. They aren’t. However, sometimes talents such as an extra pair of hands go a long way when necessary. So, just to clear that out. However, I’ve got to start being more selfish. It sounds horrible when it’s put that way, but that’s the long and short of it: I need to start investing time and energy into me and my pursuits rather than jumping whenever I see a fire that I can help put out.

I’ve had too many of my ideas kind of fade away in the last 10 years due to what I call the “crusader complex.” It’s something where there’s a cause that needs help, well I can help! It has gotten me involved sometimes where I had no right to be involved, or no time to be involved. It’s something that I’ve grown weary of in the last year or so: always wanting to help when asked, always crusading to help when I see a problem. Enough’s enough, y’know? Helping others is all well and good, but there comes a time when you need to help your self first and get things settled there.

That time is now for me. I’ve put into practice a few solid ideas to run with, and I need to focus in on making those ideas happen and those ideas work. I need to get these plans brought to fruition here and now, not let them languish on the back burners and eventually fade away. Time is limited on this planet, and sinking it into situations that burn me out is not something I can do any longer.

Part of me feels really guilty because I stepped back, because I feel responsible for the problems that people ask me to help solve. But it’s to the point where that guilt needs to be slapped down.

Half way through, shut off.

Rarely will I shut off a movie halfway through, I think I’ve done it only once or twice before. This evening I had to do it when watching “God Bless America.”

A quick rundown of the plot: a guy’s sick of how rude and abrasive modern culture is, how spoiled the kids are, and how no one seems to care any longer. He’s fired from his job for sending flowers to a coworker who was having a bad day, and is told by his doctor that he’s got a brain tumor that’s in essence inoperative. So while watching TV he sees one of the spoiled reality TV stars and goes off to kill her, thus starting a murder spree.

I’m a little ashamed that it too me half the movie to realize that it’s basically an excuse for the writer to complain about all the peoples’ quirks that irritate him. He tries to mix it up by giving the girl in the movie different quirks to complain about but there are segments that are 5-10 minutes that are litanies about these quirks. This entire movie was a way for Bobcat Goldthwaite to get off his chest all the little things that made him angry.

That’s all the movie was, and one would think there’d be some visceral pleasure in seeing people who deserve it get what’s coming to them, there really wasn’t. It’s not because of the guns or the murders or anything…it just seemed to be a vehicle to get more complaining about the culture in without really adding anything to fix it.

I realize that what I do here on the blog tends to be complaining a fair amount of the time (though no where near as bad as it once was) and sometimes I focus on the negative too much, but man. Make a constructive effort to break away from the things that bring you down…don’t write a 2 hour movie about it.

After shutting down the movie (it was free on Amazon Prime, so I didn’t spend any money), I went to read the synopsis to find out what happened. And it was just as inane (in the specific sense of the word of being empty) as was evident halfway through.

When a comedy starts depressing me, it’s time to do something else.

So, final say: don’t watch this movie.

I’m out *flips hands over and waves*

This morning I downloaded the archives from both google+ and facebook. Then I deactivated the accounts. I’ve got to say that I’m very disappointed in the way facebook “archives” their stuff…about 90% of the posts I’d made were missing, and all of last year’s content was not included in the archive. Oh well.

A lot of it has to do with the time I’ve spent on both networks. I read a lot of what people post, respond to them, and carry on several conversations at a time. Multi-tasking is all well and good, but Facebook was starting to feel like a networking meeting, stop in for a word or two here, get an appetizer with that person there, nod politely at this other person. There were very few meaningful conversations, and when I’m spending that much time, I’d prefer to get a little deeper when conversing with folks. Besides, if I want to share links, I’ve got this ‘ere blog.

That was the main reason. The other reason is the commodification of my conversations. By that I mean that they are using the space that I speak with my friends, and the subject of what I speak to my friends about, and then serving up advertising based on that. It’s a savvy business practice, but I don’t have to be party to it. I know all free services do the same thing, but that’s why I have my own website and my own email. It’s a small principled stand, but in essence I’m saying “This space is mine, I pay for the privilege, and if you discuss anything with me, it will not be sold to the highest bidder for cash money.” Obviously the blog here is open to the public, but I’m not making money off of it. The last few months I’ve been considering that issue: why am I spending so much time making other people rich? By the simple act of conversing with people through facebook, facebook makes money. Yes, they provide the service through which that communication happens but that trade off was no longer worth it for me.

Also, I have to consider what social networking is doing to my growth as a human being in society. In the past, people have moved on from their relationships (friend/family/love) because of time/distance. People change. Facebook provides a space where people don’t HAVE to change. They will always post the same things, becoming entrenched further in their opinions, becoming angry with anyone who challenges what they have built. The adjustments we make due to growing up and out are crystallized and frozen in time because facebook provides a space where we don’t need to grow or adjust. We can continue stalking those crushes from high school, those famous people we want to emulate, those old enemies. Letting go of these things is made nigh impossible when we can see their activity in two clicks. Society will adjust, sure, but I worry that constant contact with those around us is retarding the adjustment or the growth of humans as individuals. Also, what fun is catching up when people have facebook showing us what everyone is doing constantly?

I know that a lot of people say they’re junking their account and never coming back, but that’s not my style. I may be back (maybe on weekends?), but for now I’m done. I’ve been slowly extricating myself from facebook for the last month or so, trying to cut back on posting to my board, keeping my comments made to other people’s posts. I still found I put in too much time. Much as there are people on there that I want to stay in contact with, my concerns with what facebook has done/is doing overshadowed that. Besides, there’s always email.

Leaving Twitter


I’m leaving. First, I don’t use twitter very much (if at all anymore). Second, because they won’t stop emailing me telling me about what people I follow are doing. “This person did this! HOLY COW, HE RETWEETED THIS!” “Come back to us please!” “He posted this image!” “Don’t leave us in the cold!’ “She said this about this celebrity!” “WE WANT YOUR CLICKZ!”

And, yeah. Enough’s enough. G’bye, twitter.

Custom contact forms and spam

What consistently confuses me about sites that require Captcha (other than why they’d want to put their customers through that BS) is that a simple if/then check can usually cut out 99% of the spam in any of these fields. The customer doesn’t even know it’s happening, it’ll stop robots from bothering your inbox, and make everyone’s day that much brighter.

All it takes is taking more than a cursory glance at the spam emails received to figure out what they all have in common, and then latch onto that. Because they all operate on similar tactics. Eventually that won’t be true, but then eventually things like akismet will be available for wide deployment even for very simple things.

Until then, though, I want to reiterate my point: quit being lazy web programmers, drop the captcha, and do things correctly.