Using my smartphone for good, not evil

Actually it would be more fair to say I’ve been using my smartphone (currently an iPhone 8) for harmless nonsense, which is still better than using it for evil.

I’ve made a few recent posts to the blog during my morning commute, using the Ulysses app to slowly tap out a post and then upload it directly to my blog. I marvel at the technology, even as I lament how few will see my carefully-considered nonsense. I even just recently had a two-day stretch of zero visits on June 21 and 22. This is bad even by my own sad standards. I clearly need to work on the SEO and other acronyms to boost hits. More clickbait! More gossip! More whatever it is people want. Maybe just a redirect to Facebook.

It feels like the writing muscles are finally starting to halt their atrophy, as I am using more little blocks of time to write errant thoughts down, moving ever-so-slightly closer to perhaps engaging in some fiction writing again.

Mainly, though, I am not using my phone for social media, except for using Slack at work, which is not really in any way fun, so doesn’t count. There’s hardly any clickbait.

What do I use my phone for? Here’s a list. I like lists.

What I use my smartphone for, in order of most to least

  1. Listening to music
  2. Sending and receiving text messages with my partner. A lot of this includes Bitmoji nonsense, which I love and adore.
  3. Logging food/water in the MyFitnessPal app
  4. Adding or removing stuff in the Reminders app
  5. Checking stats in the Activity app
  6. Occasionally checking email, either personal (Gmail) or work (Outlook)
  7. Checking calendar appointments (almost exclusively work-related)
  8. Adding errant thoughts using the Drafts 4 app
  9. Adding errant and less-errant thoughts using the OneNote app
  10. Sometimes checking the weather or news
  11. Using the flashlight function
  12. Making or receiving an actual phone call
  13. Playing a game
  14. Writing a blog post (this one may move up the list over time)

What I never use my smartphone for

  1. Making the world a worse place (to my knowledge)
  2. To smash open walnuts
  3. As a level
  4. To play music without earbuds or earphones. Seriously, why do people do this? Do you do this? Don’t do this.
  5. To plug in a nice set of headphones (zing!)

May 2019: The Good and Bad list

  • Good: Body fat down slightly
  • Bad: Weight up for the month
  • Good: Actually went jogging
  • Bad: Run featured cramps, a sore foot and a bear
  • Good: Weather much nicer than April
  • Bad: Haze from Alberta wild fires
  • Good: Recovered from Worst Cold Ever
  • Bad: Worst Cold Ever
  • I’d rather not talk about it: The amount of writing I did over the past 31 days

Collected technology opinions from the internet, Volume 1

Yes, this is shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes you have a barrel of fish and a loaded gun and you just can’t resist.

There is a larger meta-commentary here about literacy or something, but I’m just amused by glaring typos and people making wildly wrong guesses about how something is spelled, and more generally what people are willing to commit to virtual paper.

On Apple being boring:
“Not boring, rediculuslly gready!”

A browser less likely to be charged with sexual assault:
“it’s like Chrome, but doesn’t rape your privacy”

Sony’s upcoming console, with rows of cartridges in golden fields:
“If Sony goes cartridge for the plantation 5 than those Blu-ray’s will be obsolete.”

On WoW wooing back players and the need for departments:
“You need to fix the class system for those people who quit to come back. Classes need more dept and more abilities that define the class.”

Good advice for your next system build:
“For the graphics card to work, you need to plug it into the mobo.”

On wearing costumes?
“i keep hearing this, it seems that many people only cares about share holders, that’s very nice but what about costumers, i am a costumer that’s why i care about the costumer side”

Fixing MacBook keyboards with insects:
“In real life users are very happy with this keyboard, without even saying that 2016-2017 keyboard “issue” is just fixable blowing air with your moth lol”

Windows 10:
“Windows 10 is nice if you don’t actually have to use it for anything in my experience.”

Samsung vs. Google or The Goggles Do Nothing:
“The Samsung UI is better then Goggles and has a USD storage”

March 11, 2019: Zero day

I’m still kind of impressed when the site reports no hits at all, like it did yesterday, March 11, 2019. Sometimes, in a remote and distant way, it bothers me that it can happen, that absolutely no one, not even by accident, will happen upon the site.

But then I remember there’s nothing specific to draw people to the site, there’s no hook, no “omg this site has the best listicles/photos/articles/kitten pics ever” and I’m okay with that, because I never intended for this site to have a big audience. In fact, having virtually no audience is kind of nice in a way. Traffic is low, expectations are similar, it’s more a place for me to exercise my writing discipline (certainly not the quality of my writing) without worry. A journal of miscellany mostly relevant to only me.

Or am I actually crying tears of anguish as I type these words, crushed at being left all alone on the web, which is now 30 years old. Also, how do people put so many links in their posts and articles? That stuff takes serious time.

I am way too lazy to have a good website.

But I’m still posting something every day.

And a random list to complete this post:

  • Apparently bananas are in danger of going extinct again. This makes me sad, as I like bananas.
  • I still think it’s weird no one has gone to the moon in 40+ years. It’s right there!
  • The amount of plastic in the ocean is gross. I had a soda at a restaurant the other day and it came with a paper straw. I could have eaten it, if I’d wanted to, a small step to saving our world.
  • Even weirder than not going to the moon: I’m actually starting to kind of like the horribly flat keyboard on my MacBook Pro. This would be about the point that it starts failing, so that I may hate it again.
  • Speaking of Apple, its March 25th event, presumably to reveal its streaming service, excites me in the same way as putting on my socks. To clarify, I find minimal excitement in donning socks.
  • I hope my efforts to reduce the soreness and discomfort in my knees work, because I can’t afford bionic replacements. Also, I don’t think they exist.

Clickbait secrets revealed #1

The world is a busy place and the internet is part of the world, so it’s also a busy place. I’m here to help.

Instead of having to click on a clickbait link and then read an actual article and junk to glean the valuable pearls of wisdom within, just read below for the actual clickbait content*. Save time, save money!

Clickbait title: Self-Made Billionaires Like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk Prove If You Don’t Make Time for These 6 Little Things Every Day, You’ll Never Be Successful

Clickbait secrets revealed:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Breathing
  • Pooping
  • Not getting run over by a bus
  • Dumb luck

* not actual clickbait content

The MacRumors drinking game

MacRumors has a large and active forum and each news post on the main site also gets automagically turned into a forum thread in the news discussion subforum. Certain people will use some of these threads—well, really, nearly all of them—to dunk on Apple and the various things the company is or isn’t doing (or is perceived to be doing or not doing). The actual topic of the thread is often irrelevant.

Here’s a fun (?) drinking game. Take a drink any time someone mentions the following in a MacRumors news post discussion thread. NOTE: I am not responsible for any blood alcohol poisoning that may result.

  • Refers to Tim Cook as:
      • Timmy
      • Tim Crook
      • Tim Apple
      • Tim Hollywood
      • A bean counter
  • Fire Tim Cook
  • iSheep
  • iToy
  • Crapple
  • Emojis
  • Animojis
  • Memojis
  • Watch bands
  • iWatch
  • Touch bar/Emoji bar
  • Butterfly keyboard
  • Headphone jack
  • Form over function
  • Too thin
  • Bending
  • “You’re holding it/using it/[something] it wrong”
  • Apple is now just a fashion brand
  • Overpriced
  • Steve Jobs
  • Where is the new Mac Pro? (Update: Announced for Fall 2019, so not so much this one anymore–see next item)
  • New Mac Pro is too expensive
  • More to come…

Cold weather writing prompts

Apparently Vancouver set a record for low temperatures in February and I can vouch that it was pretty chilly for this particular patch of the planet. What better way to celebrate (?) than a bunch of questionable cold weather writing prompts.

  • It’s said there are 500 ways to say “snow.” Come up with another 500.
  • Write an action adventure about a snowman caught in a hothouse. Throw in some vampires, too.
  • Imagine you were caught up in the mountains during a raging blizzard. That would really suck. You’d probably die or lose all your hands and feet or something. So write a romantic comedy featuring anthropomorphized raccoons instead.
  • List 10 things to do with snow and hard liquor
  • Write a story where one night a magical frost gnome appears and grants you anything you want, as long as it rhymes with frost
  • The first time Betty went ice skating she fell and fell and fell. She just couldn’t skate. Everyone laughed! But Betty wouldn’t let others get her down. She practised and practised and got better and better. Then she got got run over by a Zamboni on the night of her Olympics competition. Write the story as a safety brochure on Zamboni driving.

Important preferences

Here they are. All very important.

  • Salt over pepper
  • Chocolate over vanilla
  • Strawberry over vanilla
  • Vanilla over maple
  • Pie over cake
  • Cake over bad pie
  • Bigfoot over Loch Ness Monster
  • Blue over red
  • Red over yellow
  • Green over red
  • Pizza over anything else
  • Fudge over not-fudge
  • UFOs over cryptids
  • Playing over working
  • Working over starving
  • Good shoes over cheap shoes
  • Underwear that’s fun to wear over other underwear. That can be read two different ways, figure it out.
  • Hot tub over steam room
  • Kiddie pool over diving board
  • Running over elliptical
  • Sun over moon
  • Stories over poems
  • Pencils over pens
  • Life over death

2019 Bestseller instant success template

Easy steps:

  1. Write a book about something. Whatever, it doesn’t matter.
  2. Include f*ck in the title, in the manner of “not caring/don’t care”, not in the manner of the carnal act
  3. Include girl in the title, in the manner of a female human
  4. OK, just use this title: The Girl Who Didn’t Give a F*ck
  5. Market it as both a thriller and self-help
  6. Rake in $$$

Tune in next year for the next word/phrase to add to sell even more copies.

Random thoughts, February 2019 edition

  • After three days of non-use, my AirPods have died a mysterious death and will not charge, pair or play. This has forced me to go back to wired earbuds and it makes me realize how nice it was to not have to untangle the spaghetti of wires every time I listened to music. I will probably look for an alternative for now, rather than paying what would likely be a ludicrous repair bill from Apple.
  • We had a more traditional Vancouver snow this week. It started out like recent years, with it staying cold and several days of snow piling up. Then it warmed up past freezing and started raining. Fortunately there was a gap between the snow and rain, so we have not seen a slushpocalypse. Also, the rain stopped and the snow is just melting on its own. Yay.
  • The Lego Movie 2 was all right, but not as good as the original. Several of the new songs are catchy, but “Everything is Awesome” is still the one that got stuck in my head after.
  • Nic did not want to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, despite never having seen it. He is now DEAD to me. Or mostly dead.
  • It seems like people have mostly and finally stopped quoting from Monty Python now. I’ve watched some of the original episodes on Netflix recently (Nic will watch those) and it’s very stream of conscious, clever, funny, but also uneven, with some sketches not really going anywhere.
  • Speaking of watching things on Netflix with Nic, the Star Trek animated series is not bad at all, but the animation is terrible. Too bad there isn’t money in redoing the episodes with modern (good) animation, while keeping the original voice work and music.
  • Let’s keep talking about Netflix. Jaws just turned up and I must watch it again. Nic also won’t watch this because he doesn’t like movies about sharks eating people or something. I loved sharks as a kid (after seeing Jaws). I would draw sharks all the time. And dinosaurs. And roller coasters. But never all three at once (which I would totally do now).
  • I broke my rule of not snacking in the evening tonight and feel bad. And full.
  • I have been weirdly and correctly predicting little things lately, like I’m a low wattage psychic.
  • I have actually started working on Road Closed again. One might say Road Opened, ho ho.
  • Somehow my iTunes folder has bloated to around 50 GB. That is a lot of “onion on the belt” (old guy) pop music.
  • As always, I like lists

Six super powers that might not be so super: A short list

  • Flight: What if you had a fear of heights? Also, flying into electrical wires would be a constant hazard.
  • Super strength: Almost everything you could do (and pretty much anything fun) would get you charged/arrested or kicked out of some place.
  • Invisibility: A lot of stuff could suck if you’re invisible. You could have the type where only your body is invisible, so you’d have to run around naked to be unseen. Would not work well in the winter. Or if everything you touch also turns invisible, you’d never be able to check your watch for the time or use your smartphone. That could be an upside, too…
  • Telekinesis: Assuming you didn’t go full Carrie, the utility of this seems limited. You’d be a sort of living smart home device, able to turn on the stove or adjust the lights without having to touch anything.
  • Manipulating fire: You’d be a hit at barbecues and beach bonfires. Anywhere else, not so much. Also, probably really easy to accidentally burn down your house.
  • Super speed: Running into something would probably hurt a lot. Like, hurt you to death.

Things I may or may not believe in, 2019 edition

Who really knows?

  • God: Maybe?
  • Bigfoot: Seems plausible, but probably not
  • Loch Ness Monster: Got to say no here. We’d have found some tangible evidence by now.
  • UFOs: By definition, these exist, because people do see objects flying in the sky that can’t be identified. I’ve seen them, though they were probably meteors or distant planes, rather than spaceships piloted by grey-skinned aliens.
  • The innate goodness of people: Sometimes
  • The soul: Yes, I think there is some part of us that exists outside of the physical body. There is some scientific evidence to suggest this. Think of it as being a kind of energy that persists after the body has kicked off.
  • Ghosts: Although I can’t say they’d exist as the traditional ghosts we think of in the western world, I can see them being some form of the soul (see above). So…maybe!
  • Aliens: Absolutely. It seems silly (and arrogant) to think the only life in the universe could exist on one planet. Ancient Aliens? Not so much.
  • Alien abductions: Maybe? There is some physical evidence and I believe a lot of alleged victims are sincere, but the mind is a strange place and isn’t always trustworthy.
  • Reincarnation: Maybe. Again, this has some evidence behind it.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: No. Ships and planes crash or vanish in equal numbers all over the world’s oceans.
  • Fate or destiny: No.
  • Global warming: I’m not a right wing politician who rejects science and logic, so yes.
  • World peace: Maybe, eventually. Odds seem low right now, but the optimist in me hasn’t been completely snuffed out.