Tag Archives: technology

Meet my friends.

Some of my new online friends

We tire of the wholesome appearances we make on the internet. The tally on Facebook of quiches baked, bottles of wine savored, sunsets appreciated. All opinions are positive, likes only, not even a pixel laid down that we would be ashamed of if our great-grandmother Googled and found it.

So can you blame me that in the late nights lately I’ve run with a new, rougher crowd of internet friends? I met them where all shady characters gather — in the suspect folder of my email box.

Elijah Pierre was the first. He approached me one night, looking like an elegant French biblical prophet in the flickering street light. “Use VicodinES to get rid of pain,” he said, clasping his hand to my shoulder.

We walked on. Elijah introduced me to Ahmad Roberts, whose calling card read, “Home delivery ViagraXanax Ambien.” Ervin Bower was next. We found him in a busy chat room. “Get Phentermine online!” he shouted in my direction, fighting to be heard above the noise.

Just then a young woman caught my eye.  She was like all young women — even better in my imagination. “This is Elba Sheridan,” Elijah said.

“How do you know Elijah? I asked her. She smiled coyly. “Get PercocetToday!” she replied, and shook my hand. We were joined by Elba’s roommate, Dianna C. Prince, who caught me by the arm and whispered in my ear, warm and damp, “Buy Hydrocodone online today.”

The chatroom wasn’t happening, so we caught a cab. “Let’s go to Kendall’s party,” Elba said. A wiry, goateed guy answered our knock. It was Kendall Byrne. “Need Ritalin?” he asked.  “In Need of Percocet?” a tall guy behind him said almost in response.  Everyone laughed. That was Marcelo M. Donovan, Kendall Bryne’s boyfriend of long standing.

We partied until the tail end of night. It was the first of many such jaunts to this secret place in my secret life. Each visit ends with a word of advice from Valentin Ledbetter, a Romanian descendant of the folksinger Leadbelly:  “Get a good nights rest with Ambien.”

Coming soon: “The Comic Torah”

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A good shellacking.

ShellacPresident Obama said he took  “a shellacking”  from voters in last week’s elections. I’ve never used the term myself and, except for possibly one woodworking project at Roeper day camp in 1965 , I don’t think I’ve ever given anything a good shellacking.

But all that is changing. From now on,  I’m going to pepper my conversation with “a good shellacking.”  It seems enormously fun to say.

Shellacking, meaning to take a beating,  apparently grew out of 1920s slang. And shellac, that liquid finish I brushed onto my wood project in the 1960s, “is a kind of resin made from the secretions of a tropical insect known as the lac,” Ben Zimmer writes in “The Story Behind Obama’s ‘Shellacking’ “

If that isn’t creepy enough, according to “What is the wood sealer shellac made from and where does it come from?” those secretions are flaky.

You might be thinking that this is too much information, but there really is so much more to know. You can make your own shellac. And apparently those shellac 78 rpm records were not made entirely of shellac.

You can learn about shellac from a 2nd Amendment point of view at “The C&R Riflestock Cleaning and Preservation Forum,” where you’ll also become acquainted with the community’s lingo through comments like, “That would beat the heck out of the monkey tails the Ruskies are using to shellac some of those Albanian stocks I’ve seen lately!”

Finally, there is Shellac the noise rock, or maybe math rock, band.

And if you’ve read this far, chances are you feel like you’ve taken a good shellacking.

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A present for Jack.

Gotta be something better than a gift card.Jack’s 11th birthday party is in a couple weeks. And as with every birthday party my son is invited to, we’re wondering what to get Jack for a present.

When the kids were younger, it was easy to pick out a good book to give, or at the least some kind of interesting toy. But now it’s harder to be guided by what led our decisions in the past: what we think is good for them. And what do you give to kids who have more electronics than you do?

As the years passed, gift giving devolved into gift-card giving. They’ll do in a pinch. They’re shiny and plastic and branded. But they leave you with an awareness that they aren’t personal enough to give to a someone you actually know. Gift cards lack the creativity and the rip-off-the-wrapping-paperness of a real present. And with a brand comes limits.

Cash comes without some of those drawbacks, of course.  But it also conjures up those checks from Grandma, or some dirty, crumpled bills stuffed into an envelope. What the world needs now is something that combines the glitz of plastic with the perfect liquidity of cash.

To do that, we need to rebrand cash.

It’s time for: The Cash Card.

Each credit card-sized Cash Card would come stamped with an easily recognizable logo on one side and, on the other, the following ad copy targeted especially at children:

This cash can be used at Target, Barnes and Noble, Borders or wherever gift cards are accepted. You can also use it anywhere American money is welcome. You can break into smaller amounts (change). You can even give it to a charity. This cash will not expire. And if you put it into a bank account, it will pay interest. That’s right! This gift can make you money!

The card would be inserted into its own branded sleeve, with enough room for the giver to slide in a sizable wad of cash.

Wrapping paper is optional.

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Woodstock was not Woodstock.

Jimi_Hendrix_on_stage_fender_stratocaster

Would it be uncool if Jimi Hendrix, 66, joined Facebook?

If you remember the 1960s and ’70s, chances are you view(ed) it as a time of tectonic upheaval, as forces of peace and love sought to displace the power of The Man, squareness, conformity, bigotry, oppression, Nixon, LBJ, J. Edgar Hoover, those who couldn’t dig it, and all music recorded by or under the influence of Frank Sinatra.

With the passage of time and the Baby Boomers now staking their place toward the end of the generational queue, we’ve come to realize that a generation gap is not a near-mythic abyss, but merely a socio-biological phenomenon, as predictable and benign as the phases of the moon.

So the criticisms of us from the other side of the generational divide rankle less: Boomers are selfish, Boomers are Social Security hogs, Boomers are conspicuously environmental. And the latest, asked almost redundantly: “Are Baby Boomers Killing Facebook and Twitter?

“When the Baby Boomers … arrive, they tend to do so en masse. And when they set up camp, they invariably change the dynamic of the social network itself,” Robert Shrohmeyer writes in PC World, and goes on to blame the horde-over-50 for bringing with them “everything from increased political activity to a proliferation of spam.”

I don’t know what fits between those two extremes. But as extreme as it sounds, remember that this is not a replay of Woodstock — the young seeking to push aside the old — because Woodstock was not Woodstock.  This is merely about social demographics. Plus, they’re not going to push us aside.

Instead, these Millennials might run away, abandoning the current social media mainstream for the next hot young thing.

(I’ll just note there’s a new Woodstock website, which I found out about from a blog called The Sixties. The Woodstock festival took place 40 years ago in August. When I clicked on the Woodstock site, there were two ads for the Ford Fusion hybrid.)

My own Facebook friend list is multi-generational, and I admit that I communicate with my younger friends differently than those who are my age. Then again, I don’t treat my close friends the same way I treat those who know me nominally, no matter what their age.

I’m curious — how do you handle generational differences on Facebook, Twitter and other social media?  And “you” is anyone of any age or generation.

Wired has some juicy comments that address my question, including this one:

“Once older people began to like something we like, it just loses its luster. It happens with everything. Before you know it, we will have to ditch facebook and crete another site and that will be invaded. Please just stop. Why doesn’t someone create a social site just for baby boomers so you’ll leave us the hell alone.”

You can hear the basement door slam, can’t you?

Lets discuss this soon, before the tide goes out. A blog and BizReport suggest that Boomers are abandoning Facebook. Even if true, we can be sure that the generational struggle will continue someplace else.

(Just to clarify, Jimi Hendrix, born in 1942, was not a Baby Boomer. Only 7 percent of Jimi’s generation “have online social-networking profiles,” according to this informative article on CNN.com.)

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Which technology would you like to disappear?

2484112082_cf4b78d9abThere’s both good and bad news in the realm of communications.

This week, voice mail came in for castigation from Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. Everyone should enjoy this one. He succinctly summarized voice mail’s every shortcoming and held out hope for a better, saner world —

“If the voice-mail leavers in your life are anything like those in mine, there’s often no great reward for getting through your messages, either. ‘Guess you’re not there. Call me back.’ That message might have made sense in the days of home answering machines, when the main function of voice mail was to let someone know who you were and that you’d called—both things our phones now tell automatically. On the rare chance that you do get an important voice mail, your first move is to transfer the information to some more permanent medium—say, ink and paper. Unlike just about every other mode of electronic communication today, after all, voice mail can’t be searched.”

Voice mail may get no mourners, but people are crowding around the issue of ailing newspapers like the guys who always gathered around the film projector trying to get the movie to work.

Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post weighs in, arguing that newspapers have been killing themselves and, like a stricken patient ordering that he be bled, are intensifying the hemorrhaging by firing more  journalists.

“The missed opportunities were endless. For the first time in half a century, newspapers could compete against television with real-time reporting, but didn’t. The Globe’s previous owners turned down a 1995 offer from the founder of Monster.com to put Globe classifieds online, before his site became a smash hit. Why did no establishment media company create a Craigslist, a Huffington Post, a Google News, a Twitter, or other sites that have altered the boundaries of news and information?”

Finally, Doonesbury gives us some Tweet with meat in today’s “Tweets of Roland Hedley,” which I read in my Washington Post. This is the content against which all Twitterers should be judged:

“Woke up in strange apartment, so running late. Thank God for iPhone GPS.”

“Bumped into an old stalker of mine at Borders…”

Follow him.

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When video was young.

From “Moments Not to Remember,” by David Owen

“The popularity of video cameras arises from a simple but potent misunderstanding. Somehow people have gotten the idea that they won’t mind being old so much if they can turn on the TV and see what they were like when they were young. This is not true.

“The best memories — the ones that actually do comfort people in their later years — are ones that have been allowed to evolve unhindered by documentary proof.

“Memory is better than a video camera, because, in addition to being free, it doesn’t work very well.”

Atlantic Monthly, June 1995

Project1

Friends School in Detroit, 1974

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Just tried the new Colgate Wisp. Anyone want a kiss?

colgate_wisp

Is Twitter on the way out? I’m asking because I’m still on the fence about it (see my thoughts about cell phones) and this post quoted another post that raised the question.

” ‘Early adopters like a product as long as they are the early adopters for it. Once it reaches that majority status, early adopters start looking for something else to adopt . . . early.’  This is an interesting thought. Is Twitter getting too big? Is it starting to grow too much?” one or both of them wrote.

There’s so much pro and con about Twitter out there. Like here and here. Here. Here. Even here. Here’s a video called “Real Life Twitter.” And here’s a post that argues Twitter has jumped the shark. (And let me point out that the phrase “jumped the shark” itself jumped the shark long before Twitter was invented.)

The people who seem to be abandoning Twitter are the so-called early adopters. They’re the folks who, when you find out about the party and show up early, are there and already sloshed.

Early adopters are the people who dropped their gas lighting service and wired their house for electricity before anyone else. They’re the ones who decided they didn’t have to walk to the next farm to borrow an egg because they could buy a car and get there faster. And after being the first on the street with a telephone, decided there would be some worth in not depending on people calling back, and bought an answering machine so they’d never miss a call.

You see what I’m getting at? There’s still no reason they installed 8-Track players in their cars.

But the deeper questions are: how do you early adopter types see what I don’t see, and what are you seeing right now?

Cindi suggested time travel might be next, but she was joshing. I suppose. I’m curious, what’s the next big thing? What are you the first person doing? What gets you “early adopter” written all over your face?

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