Man vs Tech: 27th Time’s a Charm

I haven’t spent enough time in other cities besides Chicago and I don’t remember them in that city, but here in Southern California we have the little button you press to let it be known that a pedestrian would like to cross at an intersection with a traffic light and they’d like to do it without being killed. That’s not the subject of the blog, that’s its own. This blog was inspired by my observation yesterday that people press it a gazillion times hoping that will make the light change sooner.

button

Ok, not really a gazillion but it’s a funny word. Not even 27 like the title says, but again that’s a funnier number than say 8, which is in fact the real amount. People will also press the button after they’ve seen you press it, as if their fingerprint had the magic touch. I’ve had hispanic women press it after me and think to myself, “maybe they think it’s a language thing and they are more powerful in Los Angeles after all?”

Kids do press it a gazillion times, but they’re kids and I excuse them because they’re kids. But we don’t give it up as adults. And it’s not just these buttons. We used to do it with the old landline phones that hung on the wall, clicking repeatedly in the hopes that would get the dial tone faster. We press return again and again when our computers don’t respond quick enough for our needs. And we use it endless in the attempt to “send, send, SEND.”

We have at our disposal the most amazing, fastest, farthest reaching technology and we’re still not satisfied. The other day when I walked to the post office a compact bodybuilder slammed at the traffic light button with such force, at least five times, to get it to change quicker. I thought maybe I’d actually see someone accomplish what so many try be sheer power but man’s muscles can’t overcome technology. Neither can his brain. We need to work with it. They’ll get the text in time.

 

The Battle of the Brains

brains

It’s midnight, I want to go to sleep, but I also want to file my blog. I am a man of two minds, not only in this dilemma but the one that’s going on between the two hemispheres in the control of my functions: Left Brain vs. Right Brain.

I’ve found that my current personal and professional goals do battle in my noodle on a regular basis. There is the part of me that wants to be a full time writer and there’s the part of me that likes food and must still continue to do web design. And even though the second can be creative as well, the mathematical part necessary to code a web site puts it often more heavily into the left hemisphere and that side wants to dominate and tell the flaky artistic part to go get a burrito.

So I find myself here, laptop poised, fingers lightly on the a, s, d, f,j k, l and ; keys ready to type and I can’t get the brain to switch over. I slam the heel of my hand against the side of my skull trying to force the synapses to fire that way the way you might try to make water come out your ear. Nothing.

I watch a comedy clip of my favorite stand-up of the moment Louis CK. Nothing.

I wish to run nude and free through the unlimited universe of thought, imagination and creativity but there’s something unfinished on one of my website projects and the stubborn part of me that doesn’t like loose ends still has his pocket protector on.

The Battle of my Brains, or more appropriately, the sides of my brain, are like the battle waged every day in high school cafeterias, the cool kids versus the nerds. Each thinks they are better, each is a little jealous of the other’s capabilities, and neither wants to sit together. And the funny part is they need each other. Like the jock needs the nerd to copy off on test day, I need the left brain to manage websites and social media in order to increase my blogging audience. And like the geek needs the artist to introduce him to the art of talking to girls or at least procure beer so it won’t matter, I need the writer to help with all of the design parts and to keep me inspired on a day to day basis.

So why can’t they all just get along? Why is it that the logical side won’t make room for the creative side and vice-versa? Why do they have to have their “me” time? I suppose it’s like having twins, they both want more attention and will scream louder in an attempt to get it. But just like parents that can be exhausted by all the work until they see the twins dressed up for some special occasion, I should just be thankful that I’ve been blessed with both and keep doing my work.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

 

 

A Conversation Between Angels XXXVI

“Morning.”

“Oh, hi, good morning.”

“Mind if I join you.”

“No, not at all.”

“Ted.”

“Hi, I’m Mr., I mean I’m Scott.”

“What are you doing?”
“Just looking, thinking about my life down there. It’s all so simple.”

“What is?”

“Well. I am…was…a CEO of a major corporation. 23 different companies underneath us. We would always say that we couldn’t change anything, it was all in the system. But we made the system.”

“I hear ya.”

“We set it up so customer service was automated, we set it up so billing was automated. And then when someone wanted something different done, we blamed the machines and there was nothing we could do about it. But we created those machines and we could have changed them. Instead we let them take the blame and got caught up in the ease of it.”

“Ain’t it the truth.”

“And the worst part is we did it to our employees, the people that made us grow. Let the computers control their vacations, their pensions, their benefits. Sickening. Jeez I’m so sorry, I’m babbling on an on. What did you do?”

“I worked for you.”

Computers Taking Over the World…Not Yet

Don’t Be Afraid Yet
Courtesy of http://www.clipart.com

 

Science fiction has been predicting for many years that computers will eventually learn to “think” and will take over the world. I saw War Games in the 80s. I was there for the Y2K rumors. So far we’re safe, and if my phone and laptop are any indication, we’re not in any danger.

I don’t really think they stand a chance when they don’t know where they are and they don’t know what the weather is going to be like. I spent a lot of time on the bus this summer and was constantly amused by my GPS. There is a function in it that can map out the public transportation routes with times and directions. I just had to laugh when the map would say “…has arrived” and there I was, still sitting on the bus listening to someone talking too loud on their cell phone next to me. This system is built on satellites or they wouldn’t even know when the bus could possibly arrive, so how are the computers going to take over the world when they’ll miss their target? They’ll be shooting for the UN and end up at McD’s. After hours. Talking to the box.

And the change in the weather. I was talking to my mom and she was asking about the weather, we’re supposed to get some of those 90s for the next few days. So I went to look at the weather site and it said it was 77 degrees. Ok. But. It also said that it would be 90. In fourteen minutes! So I says to mom how can someone not know to change this, she says dad says they’re all on computers, so why couldn’t the computer just interpret the change and adjust accordingly? To my first-hand knowledge, spilling coffee on your laptop keyboard fries it; so how are the computers going to take over the world if they decide to attack…and it rains? They’re all not R2D2 that could whip out an umbrella ala a light saber. They’ll all just be laying there out in the street, like a bunch of beer cans after a big concert.

So rest assured good humans we are safe. But they are getting smarter, more useful and a bigger part of our daily lives every day. So while they’re still our “pets” let’s take care of them. And eat breakfast somewhere else. And stop talking to them. They might be listening.

 

Return of the Geek

He’s back. He doesn’t wear glasses anymore, he’s not overweight, and he can talk to girls…but there’s not doubting it: The Geek is Back.

I learned how to program computers in high school when computers didn’t have screens. They were just keyboards attached to giant machines attached to even bigger printers. You typed out programs and things printed out on the big tractor style printer. It wasn’t quite like the movie War Games but it was cool.

I was really good at math. I was the king of memorizing equations and getting A+’s on tests with that memory. I got a 35 out of 36 on my ACT tests for math and science. Which is why I became a magician.

I ignored all the counselors that said I should go into computers and go to college. I did very well for over twenty years. But now I’m starting to design websites. And the little nerd in me is popping out.

I missed the geek revolution. The Big Bang Theory, The Apple Store Genius Bar and Comic Con has elevated geeks to a new level. But I’m old and wise and self-confident so I don’t need to be accepted.

I’m sorry, give me a moment. I can’t believe I just typed that line. You can become thin and gorgeous, but if you were a nerd in school that always lives in you. So I retract that statement. If cute girls think it’s cool I design and write things on my laptop, I am still going to be shy and not know how to ask them out.

But that’s not why this blog topic came to me. What I realized as I struggled this morning to figure out a couple of hurdles understanding how to get a site to work in WordPress is that I love figuring stuff out. That’s what makes a geek. It’s not the clothes, it’s not the toys, it’s the need to figure out a problem. And the great feeling when you do.

So that’s why geeks become geeks. Because you ignore your hygiene, you ignore social interaction, you ignore other obligations, because your mind is focused on fixing the problem. And it can’t be distracted until it “gets it.”

And then you move on to another one. Keep on geeking baby!

Big Brother is Here and “Boy Do I Have A Deal For You”

The future is here! George Orwell and the great science fiction writers were correct. The age of Big Brother Is Watching has arrived. And it wants to sell you some shoes.

I was browsing on the Internet last night and suddenly noticed all these sidebar ads for gym shoes. Then I realized that they were the same make and model as the ones I had been searching for earlier! They’re in my computer, they’re in my head. Who are they? Can they be stopped?

From what I understand, no. My friend in the e-commerce business told me data is the future and he recounted a story about a young girl who was bombarded by ads for baby clothes and supplies by a major chain. Her father was furious and went to complain. It turns out the girl was pregnant and they knew because she had looked for pregnancy tests. But she didn’t even know for sure yet and her parents had no clue!

I’m sure it’s a bit dramatized and she knew but just didn’t tell her parents, but still we are being watched, and now targeted.

For me it started small and subtly. They would know I lived in Long Beach. Ok with Google maps and wireless and such, I had to accept that. I couldn’t disconnect it.

But then it got more specific. Ads for dating sites popping up. First on Facebook, that made sense since my profile said single. But then more often on random sites I browsed. Who knew? Ah, probably all the job applications I filled out. And all those darn surveys to see if I qualified for a lousy $150 for two hours of my opinions. They didn’t care what I thought, just how to get under my skin. Make me realize how lonely I was and how long it had been since I had a date. Can’t go on a date if you don’t have any money! Ha, Jeff 1.

I don’t know how all the ads for porn sites kept coming up either.  I ONCE went on one of those sites and it was totally by accident. I was surfing for the best price on chicken breasts and it popped up. But now they won’t stop and even the ads show women scantily clad or often topless. It’s shameful. I close those browsers within, like, 3 minutes.

And thank you very much but I don’t need a penis enlargement or Viagra! I think that all my exes can testify to everything being alright down there. They left me for other reasons.

But my problems aside, how far will they go? How deep will they infiltrate to try and sell us something. Right now it’s through spam email and advertising on websites, but could it go further. If you were in the middle of a text with someone and wrote OMG, would a banner ad for the Catholic church appear on your iPhone? And the way that phones are syncing with your computers, is that all just a ruse to make you think it’s simplifying your life. Could you be talking to your grandmother and Hallmark ads appear on your computer, or worse, funeral parlors?!!!

It’s only going to get worse. At one time, we were simply subjected to the local penny saver or obnoxious advertising in our mailboxes, the kind on the street. But now, through the use of subliminal messaging and fast pop ups, we’re in trouble. They’re going to know we need dentures before we do. They’re going to know when it’s time for the colonoscopy. They’re going to know, when we should make sure our affairs are in order. Good luck.

Me, I’m going to find out who owns that site for Mackeeper and tell them to bite me. If anyone can help, please leave a comment.