Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Lot Can Happen in Two Years

...and quite a bit has.

The takeaway from these experiences is the universal currency of entertainment; the story.

My story has changed. The story for a lot of people who look like me has changed.

I'm almost in a place to relay those stories.

I look forward to being able to do so.

Watch this space.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Glossary, "Taking the Local", "Choose Your Own Adventure"

It's time for another Glossary installment; this week, we'll tackle "Taking the Local" and "Choose Your Own Adventure".


  • "Taking the local" - Have you ever said something that was witty, yet obscure enough that it takes people some time to get it? When the comprehension dawns in their eyes, I tend to refer to that time it takes slow people to catch up as "taking the local", as opposed to the time it generally takes to connect the dots on slang or meta-slang.

    PosDnuos from De La Soul as an emcee kicks a lot of rhymes that make people take the local. To quote a couple of lines from the fantastic single "Stakes Is High"...
    "I be a piece of the East Coast, so give a toast to Plug Wonder Why / Back in the day who soaked his words in ginger / So when I ran a phrase in June, you didn't catch it 'til December (emphasis added)".

    I'd venture that there are people who are still trying to figure out some of his lyrics 20 years later.
  • "Choose Your Own Adventure" - Sometimes your friends will ask you your opinion on a matter where they have made up their own mind already and are seeking validation. Sometimes, it's not possible to agree with said opinion, especially if said opinion is something like "if someone isn't clear on whether they like me, I should make a grand display to show them how I feel","We haven't talked about expectations for this sex party, but I'm sure it'll work out", "They've got some problems, but I'm sure my love will help them get to a better place", or "driving my car with just my feet is fun!". At that point, if someone seems determined to defend their bad decision to the end, I realize that I cannot change their mind, and I also don't want to participate in their rebellion verification session. So, the best response that comes to my mind is "Choose your own adventure". It's a reminder that the decision you made was yours, and yours alone, so I hope it works out.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Hacking Away The Weekend; It's Personal

The title of this post is based upon the post on my tech blog about the hackathon I attended this past weekend. Here I have some more observations and thoughts not directly related to codebases, business propositions, or competition. Here goes:

  1. The XO Group had a pretty nice space, overall. The retro arcade room was good both for breaks and for nostalgia. I played Moon Patrol and Gauntlet and remembered how much fun simple games can be.
  2. The hackathon that brought people together to have people work upon projects to help with mentoring, dating abuse, development and conservation efforts was made possible by an organization that makes software for weddings.
  3. It's fascinating to observe bickering amongst language, framework or tool acolytes. While I think it's helpful to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of code that falls into any of those categories, the tunnel vision I encounter from those acolytes reminds me that Computer Science can be as much of a trendy fashion show as anything else.
  4. The Hackathon went overnight Saturday night until Sunday afternoon at 1. Red Bull was available as well as coffee. These all point to the image/idea that a coder (or anyone who works in tech, or new media) as an overstimulated geek who will work until exhausted. Unfortunately, there are folk who maintain that kind of work habit even in the absence of a particular deadline. I'd rather have a life-work balance than a work-life balance.
  5. There is a general happiness that people have when working upon something that means more to them than winning a contest. Everyone I talked to was very passionate about what they put together, and was looking forward to doing more. I'm already trying to figure out my next hackathon.
  6. There was a pretty wide & diverse spectrum of types of people working on their hacks, which was also encouraging to see. The tech field can be monochromatic sometimes, so seeing that balance is encouraging.
  7. Finally, not only did I have a lot of fun this past weekend, I feel very good about what I took away from it, which was primarily this app.
Although I have more to speak upon about this experience, I should try to get some shuteye and get ready for the day. Until the next time...



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Richard Sherman & Intersectionality; Race, Class & Money Questions & Answers

A word that comes to my mind is intersectionality, in this case, race, class & money. By now, everyone has heard about the Sherman interview, the negative & positive feedback from it, and not much of it is surprising. Some thoughts, questions and answers flow through my mind, however.

Did Sherman get undue haranguing from White folks, sports fans, people who claim there's no prejudice involved for calling him a "thug", acting in a "classless" manner? Likely so. Many who deny privilege would say no, despite the evidence to the contrary (Start with a search on "thug code for n word" and take it from there).

Has he responded in a manner that is out of step with the "classless" designation bestowed upon him since? I believe so, but that's up for debate (not by me. I think the post interview interviews speak for themselves).

Is the fine he received outrageous? It is if your income is closer to the national median income ($52,513 in 2012) than Sherman's income in 2012 ($510,606 in 2012). It is likely not if you are in a profession that allows you to claim the fine as a writeoff on your tax returns and you have enough cash flow due to current endorsements that effectively doubles that salary to about $1.2 million.

Would a Black male who was a salutatorian in his high school, graduated from Stanford and is currently pursuing a Masters in Communication from said institution have an awareness of the impact of his words on multiple levels? I believe so.

Would he also be aware that an outburst like that, while likely incurring a fine and the ire of "fans" from across the country, would also get the attention of advertisers, who could raise his endorsement income from ~$600,000 to $5,000,000 in the next year, especially with a good performance in the Superbowl, whether he wins or not? Perhaps or perhaps not, but his agent definitely is.

Do I think that he made those statements with full awareness of that? I don't know. While there are reasons why it could be considered a shrewd move regardless of how the fans react, there's also the emotional impact of competition. If you've just made a play which in one fell stroke defeated your opponent, sent your team to the Super Bowl and made a receiver with which you've had issues eat shoe and crow in the offseason, you might just be emotional about it, just a lot a bit.

Have there been worse NFL interviews than that one? Well, here are five which may or or may not be worse. I don't think that Dennis Green got fined for his speech with profanity, while Richard Sherman's did (please correct me if I'm wrong on this in the comments).

Do I think that I've spent enough time on this one incident, especially when the end on Net Neutrality could have some very adverse reactions on the digital divide? Yes, at least for now. Peace, y'all.



Sunday, January 05, 2014

Watch out for those Craigslist scammers!

A quickie from the department of HA! Earlier today, I posted about purging my apartment, giving away items and selling others.  Shortly after the ad was posted up, I got a response:



Now, having read about the penchant for scammers to give vague references to the listing in their requests, once I saw this, I responded with the following:


I'm not blurring out the number so that if anyone ever gets an email asking them to respond to 9179810975, they'll know better.


It's Purge O'Clock! Selling or Giving Away, It's Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go!

My apartment has had its share of experiences and memories. Many of those memories are in the form of things that should have been tossed a long time ago, but still take up space. I come from a family of hoarders, and while I've shed some of that particular habit, the apple has not fallen as far from the tree as I'd like. As a result, I'm:

If you have a moment, take a look and if there's anything that captures your interest, send me an email at n y on mar k at g mai l period com (remove the spaces between the quotes, turn the 'at' into an '@", and change the period to a '.' to get the email address. Damn you, spam!)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glossary List, "Shrug Life" and "Creative Commons"


One of the additions to the List of Useful Lists is the Glossary; a list of terms that help form my speech. 
  • "Shrug Life" - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (emoticon by Stewart McKinney) - This term came about as an extension of the "Kanye Shrug", a term used in hip-hop circles to indicate that there was no more that could be said on a topic, or there is no reply. It can be used almost interchangeably with Kanye Shrug, but has the advantage of being not as well known initially, and a meta-like slangification of an existing slang term. 

    Usage: 


    Person A: "I can't believe it!"
    Person B: "What?"
    Person A: "Duck Dynasty starts aren't even real rednecks, they've made the show up!"
    Person B: "Sorry to say, but most of what's on Reality TV ain't real."
    Person A: "But I was #teamduckdynasty! How could they do this to me?"
    Person B: "#shruglife  (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)"
  • "Creative Commons" - I came up with this term to indicate in response to "Can I use that?", which is part praise, part request which comes after something particularly witty is said. This refers to the Creative Commons set of licenses which allows one, to paraphrase from the Creative Commons page, "want to encourage readers to re-publish your slang, as long as they give you credit".

    Usage:

    Person B: "#shruglife  (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)"
    Person A: "Oh man, mind if I rock that?"
    Person B: "It's Creative Commons, man, just spell my name right."

Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Curate My Web

Here's a list of sites that I no longer feel comfortable checking out. Perusing their articles can be bothersome for a bunch of reasons, whether:

  • They find content originally discovered from other sources, make some slight alteration (sometimes crediting the source, but often not). I'd rather use my internet skills to trace an article to either the source itself, or the first site that aggregated it (which in many cases, is Reddit).
  • They mask the actual content in warm, vague, smarmy, pseudo-altruistic titles that are intended to make people feel good about themselves by clicking on the title. Link-bait titles are a pet peeve in and of itself (I especially hate when tech or science sites, which should ostensibly not be biased, use these tactics, but supersize that with some teenage-boyfriend-trying-to-get-some cheap emotional manipulation, and Houston, we've got a problem. Unfortunately, Upworthy, the grandaddy of such sites has been declared the Fastest Growing Media Site of All Time by Fast Company. This means the Upworthy clones are coming; the newest one I've seen; SharePowered.
  • They distract me from checking out sites where I could be learning something or read about something that really matters. For an eye opening experience about how much time is involved, I use an extension called Time Tracker. For better or for worse, 15% of my browser's time is spent open on Facebook. I've got to lower that.
So, a week ago, I used two Google Chrome extensions in order to close the door on these sites:
  • Block Site - This extension will keep your browser from going to certain sites. You can configure it to redirect you to another site of your choosing. In my case, I'm redirecting to Feedly, where I've got RSS on tap.
  • Personal Blocklist - This keeps sites from showing up in your Google search results.
I don't miss them, and I don't even know that I miss them. As a result I can focus on finding & exploring better sources of information. More on how to do that in a future post.

P.S., I've got a List of Blocked Sites that shows what's getting curated out of my Web experience.