Old Man Evans Bitches About Facebook

Have you noticed that a lot of people have been changing their Facebook photos to pictures of themselves when they were little kids?  I don’t know what the hell is up with that.  It probably has to do with some sort of half ass organized thing that a lot of Facebook users are doing.  Probably something getting nostalgic for the past because of the holidays.

These are generally people in their twenties doing this.  Childhood is not some long forgotten time for a lot of these people.  It was like ten years ago.

I guess bitching about stuff like this on Facebook is pretty pointless because it’s all going to change in a few months anyway.  I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go on that site, and I have to say I really don’t like Facebook.

I don’t think anyone does.  I’ve never met anyone in the last few years that’s admitted to liking Facebook.  It’s just a place that you have to maintain your contact information and check in on the relatives.  I remember when social media used to be about blowing off steam and having a laugh with your friends.  Now, I have to be so damn careful about what I post because some long lost aunt might come out of woodwork and tell me about how I’ve offended her and the human race.

Before you call what I’ve just written a straw man argument, I want to let you know that that’s actually happened to me.  So yes, I do watch what I say very carefully.

Which kind of defeats the point of sites like Facebook.  If I’m not acutely representing myself then what is the point of having a digital avatar of me.  There isn’t really because Facebook Josh is not like real Josh.  It’s a Josh fit for public consumption, which is something no one has ever been able to say about me before.

Or any human if you really think about it.  Everyone has a part of themselves that other would find offensive.  And I think that’s a good thing.  We all could stand to be a little more offended.  It’s good for you.  Puts piss in your vains.

You may be asking, “If you don’t like it,” why don’t you stop using it?  Because Facebook has replaced email for a lot of social interactions.  If I plan a party, I have to send out invites on Facebook or no one shows up.

So does that mean Facebook is here to say?  Yes, it’s probably got about ten more years left.  But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be as popular as it is now.  People are waiting for the next big thing.  Facebook, for all it does, is still just a website and people are always looking for the next cool website.  Hell, they even know this that’s why Facebook has been snapping up other social sites as they get popular.  They paid a billion dollars for Instagram, and tried to pay three billion for Snapchat.  These are not complex web apps.  Facebook isn’t trying to get these things because it wants the technology.  It’s the users, and they are already moving on to other sites for their social interaction.  Because that’s what social interaction is, an ever changing conversation.

Someone once said that, “the media is the message.”  The web has made this true.  That means Facebook is the topic of conversation as much as it is the facilitator of the conversation.  This means that at some point soon, the topic is going to change.

It’s a healthy thing.

Fashions change.  We’ll soon be looking at our Facebook profiles much like the old photos we put on them.  “What the hell was I wearing?”

The Bat and Me: My Thoughts on Batman

It’s Thanksgiving and it is a time to say what it is that you’re thankful for, and do you know what I’m thankful for? Batman.  I’m not kidding.

Batman is one of those concepts that as I get older, still seems to grow with me.  While the story of a man who become vengeance is an adolescent power fantasy, the story of a man who could have the conviction to do so is something transcendent. That’s something for the ages that will stay with me forever.

That’s a pretty concise review of Batman, let me tell you how I got into him.

When I was about six, PBS in my area had the rights to show the old Adam West Batman over and over again.  The great part was that while ever Batman episode was a two parter, PBS would show them back to back.  That was great if you were like me and just learning how the passage of time worked.  I.e. you didn’t have to wait around for the next episode because it was always important to me how Batman and Robin would get out of that pit of sharks.  And it was always sharks.

That is the farthest back I can go for memories of Batman.  After that was the 1989 Batman.  I didn’t see it until home video, so that would have to be 1990, which would make me about eight at the time.  I remember loving it but being so scared of Jack Nicolson’s Joker that I hid behind the couch every time he would come on screen.  In fact, I still kind of have that impulse even now.
Not that I’ve ever done that as an adult.  Much.

And my other early exposure to the bat would be 1992’s Batman The Animated Series, which is probably one of the greatest cartoon shows the world has ever seen.

This is complicated way of saying that me and the bat go a long way.  It’s a strange thing to be thankful for, but I like to think if I was ever mugged, Batman would show up and save the day.  It isn’t that much crazier than those fuckers who still think Santa Claus is real.

Staycations Keep You Sane

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m not going to be traveling this year.  I’ll be spending it with some friends.  However, I’m still taking today, Friday, and Monday off.  While I’m not going anywhere, I am partaking in that newest of traditions: the staycation.  It’s pretty much what it sounds like.  You take time off like you would with a vacation but you don’t go anywhere.

I think this concept started around the time when the economy really tanked.  No one could afford to go anywhere but everyone still had all this time off, so the staycation was bourn.  It’s kind of sad when you think about it, but I have to say that I love them.  Planing and then going on tradition vacations can be really stressful.  I don’t like being force into travel just because I have time off.

This will be my second one of these and I find the trick to them is to wake up at normal time (about an a hour after you would for work), and have at least one project.  Something fun that you wouldn’t normally have time for. Me, I’m finally going to build that media server that I’ve always been saying I would.

I got a computer that I can use from work. (I didn’t steal it.  They were throwing them out.) It’s an old laptop with an 80Gig harddrive but I have a terabyte drive I can connect to it.

So my list of things to do to it are as follows:

  • Format the laptop and install Ubuntu.  (Just the desktop version.  The Server version is going to go over my head.)
  • Install Plex media server.  This is a grate program that works with my Ruku box and the PS3.
  • Install Samba for file sharing.  I don’t really know much about this so that’s going to be a research project.
  • Finally fix the tags for my MP3’s.  My god some of these have been messed up for years.
  • Start ripping movies to the server.  I don’t think I’ll have this done by the end of the staycation or even the year, but it’s something that’s worth the shot.

So those are the main things.  I also set up some other services on the server, but this is going to be the first generation of my media server.  Of course, I’ll also be doing some posting on here and some other writing projects.

But not today.  That’s the other pro-tip to staycations, the first day is your detox day where you don’t do anything.  Sleep in and keep putting things off.  It’s a break.  You’ve earned it.

The Power of Lying

I remember the first time I realized that I had to move out of my home town.  While my home town of Fort Pierce is a back water town in Florida that no one has ever heard of, that wasn’t the reason.

One day when I was in high school, during one of the may busy work hours where we were given some pointless work sheet to do, I started to sketch out what I would do if I own a comic book store.  I drew up the floor plan, and laid out where each aisle would go and what would be there.  You wouldn’t want the RPG books and tables to be near the comics because RPG players would bother the comic readers.  And you would want to put the Pokemon cards way in the back because fuck those guys.

I put a lot of work into this.

I even started to write down what our customer loyalty program would be: ten dollars of store credit for every hundred you spend. After class, I took my plans to show some of my friends that were hanging around in the hall.  Upon seeing what I’d done one of my friends immediately said, “you’ll never have that.”

That’s the moment I knew that I had to get the fuck out of Fort Piece.  We both knew that I wasn’t going to go out and apply for a business loan, scout a location, and dedicate ten years of my life to getting this store off the ground, but it important to him that I know it wasn’t going to happen.  There were lots of people like that in my home town.  People who lived by the ethos “life is shitty and everyone better be having just as bad a time as I am.”

Now I fully understand that those kinds of people are everywhere, but I knew these people.  I had been to their houses.  I had talked with them at length about all sorts of things.  And I knew that if I didn’t get the hell out of dodge as soon I could that they were going to create an environment to ensure that I never could. Because that’s where the power is.  Reality is the lie we tell each other, and I knew that if I bought into their lie of “you can’t,” instead of my lie of “I can” then they would be making my choices for me.  That’s power.

So I don’t own my own comic shop.  I also don’t work at Walmart, staring down the barrel of shift on Thanksgiving.  It’s a trade off.

30 Day Blogging Challange: Week 3

Three weeks in and the 30 day blogging challenge is going pretty good.  I guess I’ve started the home stretch, and it’s starting to strain my stamina. The everyday grind is something that I was both under and over estimate.  Coming up with concepts for each night is becoming more difficult, but it’s becoming easier to sit down each night and start writing.  That is the exact opposite of how I thought all this was going to go.

The hardest part of writing for me has always been sitting down to write.  Once I get in the chair I’m usually okay, but starting writing has always been a problem.  But not for the last two weeks.  It’s been getting easy and easier to just start writing.  I guess that’s because I have a separate desktop that I use only for writing.  (On Macs you can have more than one desktop and switch between them.  It’s a great productivity tool.)  That way I can just sit down and start writing because I’m in my “writing space.”  That I and I give myself permission to just write anything and throw out what I don’t like.  I do that with fiction writing as well, but it seems more real to me when I’m blogging.  Not sure what that is.

I also write a hell of lot faster when I’m blogging.  Normally I’m so slow when I’m writing fiction, but I just fly on a blog post.  Sometimes about four times as fast.

So this week presented itself with a unique challenge that I was wondering when it would show up: I was at a party and drunk when it came time to post.  I was actually going to let myself slip past my deadline by a few hours but my friend were very supportive and convinced me to write the post on my iPhone.  Something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now.  The post turned out okay, even if it was a little raw.  Strictly speaking I was a few words under my minimum of 300 words, but since I didn’t have a word counter on the phone and I’ve been a few words over my maximum of 600 on some other posts, I’m going to count it.

I only have week and two days left until the end of the challenge.  Luckily the holidays are coming up and I’ve taken a few days off which should give me more than enough time to work on some really good ending posts.

Stay tuned.

The Penguin and Me: My Year on Linux

About a year ago, I installed Linux for the first time.  It was something that I always said I was going to do but I never found the time.  However, it has just so happened that I had been laid off so I finally had the time to dig into a new operating system.  Of course, it also didn’t hurt that my then nine year old computer was acting really weird so it need a change too.

Linux is was always both fascinating and intimidating because there are so many different versions – or distributions – of it.  The one I settled on was Ubuntu, which is really good for beginners and if you are thinking of making the jump from Windows to Linux that would be the distribution I would suggest.  It’s very stable and the user interface look really good.  (I know this is a point of much argument but I like.)

While I did duel boot my system, Ubuntu was my primary OS for about a year.  The main reason that I wanted to do this was to learn more about how computers actually worked.  I’ve mentioned before that my background is mainly in web programing, and I didn’t have a lot of system administration experience, so I wanted to move to Linux because I knew it would force me out of my comfort zone.

And it did.  In spades.

One thing being on a Linux system will do is force you into the command line.  It’s true that you don’t have to use it to do basic computing, but if you like to customize things or even just try out a lot of different programs, then you have to use it at least a little bit.  The command line skills that I got from my time with Linux are probably the most valuable thing I got out of it.  Knowing the command line does two things for you: it makes you able to do a lot of things quickly, and it teaches you how a computer actually works.  You wind up learning what a program is accessing when you run it because you found its files all over the folder structure.

And if you like to customize the look and feel of your computer, it is the only  OS you can run.  Period.  Sure Windows and OSX let you customize a lot, but you can control absolutely everything on Linux.  This comes a price of course.  You have to know what you’re doing or you will break your system.

That’s what happened to me.  I installed so many different desktop environments that I made my system unstable and my Linux partition wouldn’t even boot.  This was fine because I had all my files on my Windows partition, but it was sad to see it go.

A few months later I got a job and a new Mac.  I went with a Mac because while I love Linux, I also like using a lot of brand name software like Photoshop and Word.  These won’t run in Linux and I don’t like their open source alternatives.  So that left me with a choice between Windows and Mac, and I don’t really like the direction that Microsoft is going in right now so I moved to a Mac.

And I really love it.  It runs almost all the software I want while still having a Unix style command line.  That means that everything I learned from my year on Linux still applies to my current environment.  I think my main computer is always going to be a Mac from now on, but that doesn’t mean I’m tuning my back on Linux.  Not by a long shot.

I have a few Ubuntu computers that I made from some scraps that my company was getting rid of.  They are great project computers and if I completely destroy them, it’s no matter because everything I need is backed up on my main machine.

Right now I’m working on a command line script that will install and customize a linux computer for me from a fresh install.  That way I can try out new installations and not have to go through the multiple hours of setting everything up how I like.

If the script turns out good, I might make it a post on here.  Stay tuned.

Apocalypse Fiction: Is This How The Story Ends?

Have you noticed that in the last ten years or so there are a lot more pieces of fiction dealing with the apocalypse?  While it is true that these kinds of stories have been produced en mass since the 50’s, they haven’t been a bigger part of pop culture as they are now.  One of the highest rated TV shows on right now is The Walking Dead about the zombie apocalypse, and a few years ago, The Road won the Pulitzer.  Why have these stories captured the minds of so may people?

In the 1950’s, when a lot of this kind of fiction got started, it made sense.  We’d just created the bomb and were trying to use stories to explain to ourselves what that meant.  But the cold war is over, sure there’s still a mild treat that one of these things is going to go off, but it doesn’t seem like the entire world is going to get vaporized at the drop of a hat.  I don’t think the current fiction about the end of the world has much to do with nuclear war scares.

In the 50’s the world ending was a scary thing and the stories had a horror edge to them.  Our current crop of apocalypse fiction serve as a kind of empowerment fantasy.  Yes, scary things are still going on but I think the stories are hitting a different nerve in the reader or viewer.

One thing you’ll notice about shows like The Walking Dead is that there are a lot of people still alive.  Thus increasing the likely hood that you the viewer would actually survive something that would end civilization.  The world is not empty. Sure the government is gone, but a lot of people would say that’s a good thing.  Now the characters are free from any legislation or person telling them what to do.  Also, all that technology that no one understands is gone.  Now things can get back to “good old days,” where people had to do hard work for their dinner and we as a people understood where things came from.

Spoiler alert: none of that is true.  If even the power grid went out, no one, including you, would be able to figure out how to keep themselves alive long enough to even survive the rampant looting that would happen.  If you look at a lot of the characters in stories like this, they just so happen to have every skill they need to look after themselves or others.  They can hunt, shoot, fix electronics, fight, bater effectively, build tools, hide in the woods, or anything else that happens to come up.  Even if you know some of those things, your not going to know the one thing that is going to save your life.  If society falls apart you’re going to be sold as food just like everyone else.  That’s assuming you even make it past the initial event.

Another reason the end of the world is such a sexy concept is that if it were to happen, it would forgive the debt record.  No need to pay some who is already dead.  Your student loads are now gone.  Enjoy the five seconds you have left to live.

Finally, I think people like the apocalypse because it’s an ending.  If you talk to any historian, they’ll tell you that all human history is, is a collection of stories.  If all of human history is one serial story then the apocalypse would be an end.  Sure, it’s “and then they all died,” but it’s still an ending.  Humans love narratives and any good story ends.  It doesn’t keep going into infinity which is the much more likely outcome to the human race.

Because if we where going to end the world, we would have done it in the 1940’s when we made the bombs in the first place.