Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)


I just got my first failwhale! Now I feel like a true Twitter user 🙂



October 10, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Personal, Tech | , | Leave a comment

Life Lessons With Brian: In Which I Teach China About The Internet

Alright China, we need to talk. No, not that talk. Judging by your population, you already know plenty about the birds and the bees. We need to have the internet talk.

You’ve been restricting my access to the internet since I got here on February 23rd. WordPress was blocked, for starters. Then a few weeks later, YouTube is inexplicably unavailable. It’s been that way for four months, China. How am I supposed to watch videos of ninja kitties or waterskiing squirrels if I can’t use YouTube? Then there was Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and briefly, Google. Then the most recent batch was unblocked, only for you to block Twitter again yesterday, and Facebook today. What gives? ***Update: The recent Twitter and Facebook blocks are due to riots in the Xinjiang region; current counts indicate at least 156 killed, 800 injured, and over 1,400 arrested.***

Facebook is currently blocked.

Facebook is currently blocked...

...and so is Twitter

...and so is Twitter

Continue reading

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Phone-Luddite Is Me

Confession: I hate phones.

That’s not quite accurate. I hate talking on the phone. Texting is awesome, playing mobile games can be great, instant-messaging is cool, taking written and voice-notes has proved invaluable to my writing, and having an always available list of contacts is great. It’s just the whole talking thing that I’m not in love with.

I’m not even entirely sure why this is. I don’t mind using Skype; I suppose the talking is offset by getting to see video of the other person and being able to use my computer while I talk. When I’m on my cell phone, I’m just holding it to my ear. I can’t play games or write or organize things. I get bored; it’s like sensory deprivation or something. Just sitting there talking doesn’t cut it for me. Argh.

If I could get a phone and only sign up for data and texting, I would. If I could stage a successful marketing campaign that convinced everyone that talking is lame, I would do it in a heartbeat. I don’t like the auditory navigation systems, or waiting in dread whenever I have to call someone important (or waiting in rage if I’m calling tech support, God forbid). I just don’t like it. Make my communication visual, please. Text is awesome in in and every form. I love it. I eat that stuff up. Text messages? Fantastically efficient. Twitter? Witty, short and sweet. IM? Great way to debate, disparage your friends, and generally wreak havoc.

Take this as something of a warning, or perhaps a preemptive apology. When you’re on the phone with me, know that I’m not enjoying it. Know that I’m counting down the seconds until I can say goodbye. Know that if you go on and on and on, I start shaking a little and my eyes glaze over. Nobody wants that, right?

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Personal, Tech | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

…Only To Be Dragged Out And Placed In Internet Quarantine

That’s not a perfect metaphor from my previous Twitter post, but bear with me. It’s been a long past twelve hours, involving a nine-hour bus ride and three police checkpoints. That’s China for you, or rather, this is:

They recently made the unnecessary and completely idiotic decision to block Twitter, because forget all the spammy crap on Myspace or the hours wasted on Facebook – it’s the 140-character tweets that’ll really bring this nation to its knees. My usage of the service is temporarily suspended for a period not to exceed two months (when I get back to the US), though hopefully sooner than that. Also: it seems as though China has two levels of internet censorship they employ. The regular one just prohibits the average person’s access and can be easily circumvented by using a proxy server. The second, more nefarious level just flat-out keeps the service from being accessed from any computer ever under any circumstances, and is responsible for the lack of access to things like YouTube and Twitter.

I loathe the CCP. One week after I got on Twitter, they kicked me off of it.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Down, Down, Down the Slippery Slope of Internet Addiction

After much fidgeting, general agitation and doing my best ostrich-impression (head firmly buried under two pillows while mumbling, “it’s not real if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist if I never sign up for it), I’ve given in to the silent seductress that is Twitter. I’ve managed to stay away from it since the service started, rationalizing that it wasn’t so different from the status updates I use on Facebook. My logic was doomed to fail; all it took was a wink here, a smile there, a subtle toss of the hair… how could I resist?

Fail Whale

Fail Whale

Twitter is like a streamlined version of Facebook’s stalker feed, developed solely for the purpose of learning things about other people that you never necessarily wanted to know. Getting updates from somebody every five minutes about the traffic, the food they just ate, and debates as to what the best method is for trimming nose hairs isn’t exactly fun. Correction: it isn’t exactly fun if it’s someone you know personally. If it’s a celebrity? Absolutely fascinating.

I’m bound and determined to not be like that. Don’t get me wrong – every new social service I use is like an exciting new drug, and I get a bit more addicted with each one that I use. Twitter is the (insert addictive substance #1)  to my previous favorite (insert addictive substance #2). I’m trying to maintain a maximum posting frequency of five twits per day, and hopefully that will typically be closer to one. Promise to tranquilize me and ship me off to the nearest rehab center if I get out of hand, mkay?

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , | 1 Comment

Micro-Branding: How To Do It

Let’s say that like me, you’re an aspiring writer (or blogger/painter/webcomic artist/web page designer/photographer). You know, something creative. Anyway, whatever your skill set right now, it’s probably a hobby or side pursuit; you’ve yet to make some serious cash from it. The web looks good, right? It’s friendly, and inviting, and tons of people out there make their money by doing online… things. With people and stuff.

It’s a great place to do what you do, right? It would be, except for one problem: everyone else has the exact same idea that you and I do. We all have this vague goal of becoming well-known online and either selling a product or generating enough ad revenue off of a really popular site that we don’t have to get a real 9-to-5 job in some generic corporate hellhole. You don’t want to become a nameless suit, right? You want to be successful online so some other poor schmuck has to be the suit. How do you set yourself apart from everyone else? It’s actually not all that hard: use micro-branding. Continue reading

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Personal, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s The Future Of Blogging?

Zach (from Akinotsuki) and I were discussing various blogging concepts earlier tonight. You’d be surprised how much of our interaction concerns blogs, in one form or another (I promise we actually know each other outside of the internet). Anyway, we were talking about different sorts of blogging formats, the benefits multiple-writer blogs versus those of single-writer sites, and it got me thinking about the future of blogging. Admittedly, it’s still a relatively new phenomenon, and really didn’t get going until perhaps ten years ago – technically, I’m sure someone out there was blogging prior to that, but it probably wasn’t known as such. Besides, ten years ago would the average member of the public have any clue what a blog was? I doubt it, but I digress.

There’s been great growth already, going from simple text to adding photos, video, audio, etc. You’ve got open-ended posts that ask a simple question and rely on readers to create responses (and hence, meaningful content), angry rants about everything under the sun, commentary on any form of news imaginable, traditional “dear diary” type posts, and base attempts at gossip and/or journalism. Beyond that, there are media-only posts, from video blogs, to podcasts, to photographer and artist-oriented formats that feature a single photograph as a post. Continue reading

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments