Blogging about blogging. SO META.

Blogging is a tricky business. Now, when I use the word “business” there, don’t think I’m making any money from posting once a month. If you are making money from posting once a month, be a pal and tell me how that works. But I digress. So yeah, blogging is kind of weird. There are SO many places you can blog, each one with a different audience. I know from personal experience that if I post something in one place it might not see any activity, but if I post it somewhere else I get tens of views! That sounds sarcastic, and while it was clearly intended to be, it’s like most sarcasm… said with just the slightest hint of truth. If I post something and anyone responds to it or interacts with me in the slightest because of it, that’s a win. That’s a victory for me. If one person reads my stuff or likes my photo or whatever, then I’ve just used this amazing thing called the internet to share a little part of myself with a complete stranger.

That’s why I don’t do it that often.

The truth is, I’m terrified. Sharing something you’ve created with the world means that it’s no longer safe. It’s out there. Anyone can attack it, can pick it apart, can spit on it and belittle it. That little piece of yourself that you gave away is going to get hurt, and by extension, so are you. You’ve got two options. One, you do what I’ve always done, and you quit. That’s the easiest thing to do. Just quit, stop any creative juice you might have flowing, and run. Cut your losses, because that’s the safest thing to do, right? Option two is harder. You suck it up, use the negativity to see if there are things you could do better while still creating what you want, and let the positivity prop you up. In the upcoming new year, that’s my plan.

I need to create, and for some reason, I need to share it with people. Maybe I’m a sadist. Maybe I’m just a guy that thinks he’s got something to offer. Maybe I think I’m way better at this than I really am. At any rate, I’m here to stay, and this is probably going to be my last “wall-o-text” post. You’re welcome! For now, I’m going to sleep. Technically it’s Christmas Eve Day (…what?) and I need to get my beauty rest so I can look like a boss for Santa Claus.

 

app.net: why it sucks.

I recently decided to try App.net, which is a new-ish micro-blogging service. Here’s a brief summary of my experience with it.

First, a little nuts and bolts info. It’s basically Twitter. There’s a larger character limit, and all sorts of access to their API, and… well, that’s about it. It costs a minimum of $5 per month to use it, or $36 per year. The (only?) benefit is that there are no ads. Also, the name is a complete misfire. “App.net” doesn’t lend itself well to anything.

I used an iphone app called Netbot to actually interact with people. Netbot is made by Tapbots, the same people who make Tweetbot, and for all intents and purposes, it’s the same app. I immediately knew what I was doing, since again, it’s basically Twitter. There are far, far fewer users than you’ll find on Twitter, and the conversations are of a decidedly tech-based nature.

That sounded pretty good to me at the outset — after all, I am of a decidedly tech-based nature — but since I’m not someone who writes code, I found myself quickly at a loss as to what I was supposed to do with app.net. I decided to ask if there were any gamers about, being careful to hashtag “gamers” to make my query more visible. I decided to search for that hashtag in attempt to find some gaming buddies, and I was shock to find three results, one of which was mine

I was a bit taken aback by this. Surely that was a mistake, just poor word choice on my part. I decided to try a different search, going with #Warcraft, since I love playing World of Warcraft. Surely in this haven of geekery there would be a few MMO fans, right?

Nope.

There were 2 posts containing the hashtag #Warcraft, with the most recent one being over a week old. At that point, it really crystallized in my mind that this service is not for me. Unless you’re in one of the very narrow bands of geekdom that App.net seems to cater to, you won’t find anything there to keep you around. I’ve already canceled my account, which, to their credit, was very easy.

All in all, that’s really the best thing I can say about App.net… canceling my account was quick and easy.

Why we love social media.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook’s popularity and the entire social media experience in general, trying to figure out what it is that causes us to become legitimately addicted to it. My own journey through the pitfalls of social media has been fraught with… indecision, to put it kindly. I’ve jumped from one thing to another and back again more times that I can count, and my poor wife — who has suffered through my indecision — can attest to it. Wherever it seemed that there might be more people I could connect with, that’s where I went. That, to me, is the essence of social media and why we’re so attached to it

In one way or another, we are all alone.

Social media outlets have made it extremely simple to connect with people from around the world that have similar interests. Maybe you live in a fairly remote area, or maybe you live in a place that doesn’t quite line up with your view of the world. No problem, there are thousands of people online that think exactly like you do, and all you have to do is find them. That’s the lure of it all. The hope for commonality, the promise that we’re not alone in how we feel; that there are others out there just like us. The prospect of finding a group of people who like the same stuff we do and that wants to talk about it. That’s what it’s about, really.

We just want someone to listen to us.

We want someone to read the comments we leave, read the mundane status updates we offer, look at the pictures we take, and watch the videos we record. We want someone to look at all of this stuff that we share, and we want them to appreciate it. We want them to interact with us, even if it’s nothing more than clicking a “like” button. We want these things so we’ll feel like we are in fact not alone, and that people really do notice us. We’re looking for approval. We’re reaching out to the internet in search of validation. We want someone, anyone, to tell us that we’re worth liking.

Well… at least that’s why I do it. 😉

Instagram

Instagram

Instagram, if you’re unfamiliar, is an iPhone app that lets you take pictures, apply effects, and share. It’s a dead simple concept, but Instagram has the benefit of having its own social network baked right in, so it’s become extremely popular, despite the fact that version 2 of the app basically destroyed the coolness of the filters.

I like using Instagram, but I rarely do anymore… I got tired of people doing what I feel is cheating. “What are you talking about, you moron? How can you cheat at taking pictures?”, I hear you asking. Let me explain.

In Instagram you’re given the ability to import pictures, filter them or not, and share them. I don’t think that should be an option, honestly. To me, the point of the app is to take the pictures with your iPhone. That showcases your creativity both in composition as well as the filter you use serving the shot. If you can set up your $3,000 camera and take an absolutely stunning photograph, that’s awesome… but it doesn’t belong on Instagram. That’s not to discount the hundreds of beautiful photos that I’ve seen on Instagram that were taken exactly like that, but I don’t think it’s really following the spirit of the app. In my mind, anyway.

There’s something to be said for having a photographic eye. There’s also something to be said for being able to take a great picture with nothing but your iPhone. When I started messing around with Instagram, the photos that I liked weren’t breathtaking or anything, they were just cool. They were photos that someone took with their iPhone because that was what they had with them to capture a moment. There was a certain level of candidness to them, and I enjoy that. I like photos of life as it happens as much if not more than photos that are set up.

What do you think? Is Instagram an app that lets you share photos, or an app that lets you take them? If you use it, what do you find yourself doing with it most often?

I Officially Love Pinterest.

English: Red Pinterest logo

Sorry ladies, the secret is out!

 

I arrived a stranger in a strange land. Was I the only male, adrift in a sea of estrogen? Possibly. I knew, though… I knew there had to be more to this than pictures of shoes and manicures, and I was determined to find it.

About 15 minutes later, I was hooked.

Pinterest, if you’ve never heard of it, is a lot like Tumblr but without the stupid teenage hipster bullshit. (Sorry to be blunt, but… I mean, it is what it is.) I had never heard of it myself until I saw my wife using it, and I didn’t think much of it at first. It’s a site that functions as a virtual pin board… any picture you see online can be “pinned”, and in doing so you create a link back to the site you found the image at. At the very core of it all, Pinterest is really nothing more than visual social bookmarking, but that makes it sound like it’s a lot less fun than it really is.

If you’re a visual person like me, there’s a lot to like about Pinterest. Even just looking through other people’s pins can be a rewarding experience. Art, architecture, photography… if it can be presented in a visual format, you’ll find it there, often times neatly categorized and begging to be looked through. That’s right, folks… it’s not all hair braids and outfits. Ideas and inspiration flow freely, and while it’s true there’s a bit of an emphasis on cooking and crafts, the site certainly isn’t limited to just those things. Yes, the site is primarily used by women, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s not more universally accepted. There’s something there for everyone, and if you’re not finding material to suit you, all you have to do is pin your own images and see if anyone responds in kind. People can also repin your pins, which is the equivalent of Tumblr’s “reblog”. Want to see more pictures of torn down Dodge Charger engines? Pin ’em!

I keep comparing Pinterest to Tumblr, but it’s important to note that they’re not interchangeable. Unlike Tumblr, Pinterest is for visual media only, which means that pure text posts aren’t possible, and as such it can’t be used as a true blog. One thing that I find somewhat refreshing however is the fact that Pinterest doesn’t allow nudity. There are times when I’m at work or just sitting around killing time with Small Boy in my lap, and at those times I don’t feel that Tumblr is a place I can go. You never know what might show up there. Pinterest is pretty family friendly, and that’s cool to me.

At first, I didn’t “get” Pinterest. I didn’t see the point, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That’s changed, however, and I absolutely love it now. If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please feel free. I don’t have much up as I just got started, but I’m sure once I get going it’ll be hard for me to stop! I’m thinking about abandoning my Tumblr in favor of this more mature and refined option. Do you or anyone you know use Pinterest? Do you like it, or do you just not see the point? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It's all about carrying spoons.

I’ve been what I would consider a gamer for about 28 years now. Considering that I’m 33, that’s… well, that’s a lifetime of gaming. I’ve played all genres, enjoying something from all of them. I’m beginning to think I might be losing my patience for some games, though… and Skyrim is a prime example.

I rented Skyrim instead of buying it, because most games are at least $60 and it was no exception. I have far too many games that I’ve purchased, played for an hour, and then shelved. I don’t necessarily have a collection as much as I have a bunch of regrets that will fit neatly into green DVD cases. Skyrim is the reason I reactivated my GameFly account, too. See, I knew I wanted to play it, but I didn’t know if I’d want to keep playing it. I’ve never played Oblivion, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

I popped the disc in, giddy that I got it so quickly after release. I first became bored as I was making a character. I honestly don’t remember a single thing about that section of the game, because I wanted to get right to the action. Loaded up, looked around, and I have to say — the game is amazingly beautiful. This is one stunningly gorgeous game.

That’s… pretty much the nicest thing I can say.

I played for about an hour that first time, until I finally quit out of boredom. I’d read to expect a somewhat slow start, and I did, but that didn’t help to soothe the pain I was feeling. An hour into the game, and I was not a hero. I wasn’t much of anything. I had passed my time in the game picking up everything that I could find. It’s a problem I have, I’ll admit… I never know when I might need something, you see. I did the same thing in Fallout 3 and apparently it’s just one of those OCD things that I do. I’ve never actually be diagnosed with OCD, but… come on, who else picked up everything they could? If you did, please let me know… we might need to start a support group.

I resolved after that first hour that I was done. No more Skyrim for me. It just wasn’t my kind of game. The internet had other plans, though; everything I read had something to do with what a great game everyone thought it was. If it wasn’t a legit news story it was a meme about getting an arrow to the knee. Skyrim was inescapable. I thought to myself that maybe I just didn’t give it enough time. I decided to try it again… to give it one more try.

It was no use.

I was no badass… I was running around with the contents of a pantry.

 Fear the mighty warrior, armed with a massive array of vegetables, spoons, and  bowls!

I never even killed a dragon, which I’m given to understand at some point becomes such a regular occurrence that it’s not even a big deal anymore, it’s just a thing you do – the Skyrim equivalent of checking your Twitter feed.

As bad as it sounds, I’m thinking that I might have to turn in my gamer card. I seem to be the person that didn’t think that the game was a shred of fun. I keep reading and being told “You have to wait! It gets really good!” Hmm. How can I put this? Fuck that. I play games to have entertaining experiences, and as a husband and father, I don’t have all weekend to play Skyrim and eat pizza rolls. I gots shit to do, you know? I can stand for a movie to take a little while to get started; we’re talking about a 2-3 hour experience, there. I played Skyrim for a total of just over 2 hours and managed to A) kill a chicken and have an entire village come down on me with the wrath of Old Testament God, and B) not give a single shit about anything they wanted me to do in the game.

Am I doing it wrong? I feel like I must have been. It seems to me that if every other gamer in the world is enamored with this game to the point that it must be something that I didn’t get. I’ve since returned the game and have been send Portal 2, which is — I’ll just ballpark this figure here — roughly 6,000 times more enjoyable. I still have that nagging feeling that I didn’t give it enough time. That I should have cheerfully waded through the boring as hell beginning, somehow earning the right to access content that was fun. I thought about it so much that I’ve considered ordering the game from Amazon, so that I’d force myself to play it.

So what am I missing here? If you’ve played Skyrim and enjoyed it, please feel free to key me in on what it is that you found fun about the game, and how long you had to play it to reach that point. If you’re like me and didn’t think it was fun in the slightest, let me know… because I think I’m the only person on Earth that feels that way!

Maybe It’s Not a Numbers Game After All

WordPress

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve been gone for a bit. I’ve tried different things, and now I’m back. Can we just leave it at that?

I suppose we could, but that would make for a very short post indeed.

I ventured forth into the world of social media sure that there were adventures to be had. People to meet, connections to make, interests to share… you know the deal. I decided that I would check out what Facebook was all about, and I’d stake my ground at Google+ as well. Neither of those things were proving to be very effective at putting me in contact with like-minded people, and as I contemplated my Klout score (which is bullshit, and I’ll explain why momentarily) I came across the following Infographic:

Let’s look at that, because it’s good information. 82% of people who are friends on Facebook know one another in their real lives. 60% have a person in common. Those were some pretty staggering numbers in the face of my “stay anonymous but try to make some friends” idea.

So, I decided… fuck it.

I closed my Facebook account that I had amassed an army of three friends on, and I closed my Google+ account as well. I told you that Klout was bullshit before… let me explain why. Like I said before, I didn’t really do anything with either of those accounts; the just kind of were. Keep in mind that on Facebook, I had three friends. It’s not like I was at the center of a flurry of activity. Simply closing my Facebook account caused my Klout score to drop over ten points. Nevermind that I didn’t do anything with it. That leaves me with one thought… maybe I shouldn’t look at numbers. Maybe I shouldn’t look at Google Analytics on my Tumblr site, or how many followers I have on Twitter, or even how many pageviews I get here. Maybe I should just do what makes me happy, and take comfort in the fact that I’m doing this for myself.

So that’s it. A new year starts soon, and I’m sticking to WordPress (for lengthy shit like this), Tumblr (for funny and artsy shit), and Twitter (for pretty much everything… I’m pretty active on Twitter) for all of my “social life on the internet” needs. This is also the only blog post I’ll be doing about social networking, because that subject is tired. I’ve blogged about it enough. For now, I have to say… I’ve missed WordPress somewhat.

It’s nice to be back.