Archive for Technology and games

Blogging: Everyone’s doing it

I was listening to the latest Bloggercon (IV)'s podcasts on ZDnet, and they had one called "The emotion (sic) life of bloggers", which featured, among many semi-famous bloggers in the US, Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome fame (who'd led another session called The User Complaint session, which turned out to be another mega-software corp bashing session and didn't make any real sense at all in the end, but that's another story).

And it got me to thinking about why people blog, and why it's just so popular.

Was journal-writing and diary-keeping ever this hot? Is putting your thoughts out there for friends and strangers the reason it's hot? If so, why?

Why do I blog?

Revisiting this topic, it's because I was a journalist, and I'd wanted to write about other things in my life, put stuff out there I otherwise would not have the opportunity to write about, use that creative side of my brain a little. Rant a little. Share info, links, opinions. I started blogs for my girls because I'd wanted them to have something to look back at when they grow up, an accessible, searchable archive of their lives as little babies and kids.

Looking back, blogging rounded out my 'public personality' a little. It used to be that I was this geeky writer who was neither here nor there, writing about games, technology, AND relationships (yea, I'm diverse like that). People, friends and strangers, got to know me as a woman who had relationship problems, who found the love of her life, got married and now living out the rest of her life as a muddled-up mom. It was my way of letting the world know that I existed.

You don't have to climb Mount Everest or swim the English Channel or pose naked for Playboy (well, maybe some still do) to become famous these days. All you need is a computer and a blog account, average writing skills, a nose for what people want to read, and you're in the race to be seen and heard. Even if you're not in it for the money (direct or otherwise) or fame, simply putting your life out there will get you enough attention to make friends out of strangers, and enemies of friends and family members.

After three years of partaking in this pleasure, I've observed three things about blogs and bloggers:

1. If you're just coming into this phenomenon, the best kind of blog to have is an anonymous one. This is odd coming from me because I hate anonymous commenters but I think if you want a blog that gives you the freedom to vent and rant and say what you want without getting fired or get any significant backlash from, you will need to stay anonymous. Assume an alter ego because when you can blog in the knowledge that nobody will ever find out who you really are (with the clever omission of certain personal details and the right software), you will be able to say whatever it is you want to say. The downside is, of course, you can't publicise it as much as you like and as twisted as it may sound, the reason TO blog is that other people, complete strangers, perverts, quite possibly your mom, will read it. Otherwise, you'll keep it offline.

2. There are bloggers and there are writers. That is why journalists and writing in the traditional sense is still necessary. Bloggers like Scoble, I find, are famous not for their ability to write, but for their knowledge of the industry they're in, the status they're in and the resources they have. Bloggers like my friend Karli and so many like her, may not blog about much, but man, can they write the hell out of their otherwise mundane lives. Ordinary people who write extraordinarily about what it is to be human. They may not get a lot of hits and hence, make a lot of money, but if the blogosphere ever wants to be considered seriously for its artistic, emotional and intellectual integrity, it is people like these that will carry the legacy of humanities through to the next generation, not the technology.

3. Podcasting and vlogging are quickly coming into their own as popular platforms to be seen and heard, which sends a very simple message: You don't have to know how to write to blog. You don't have to have a recording contract or movie deal to be a star. And as an audience, we don't have to pay to be entertained anymore (well, except your ISP bill). All you need is the right technology, genuine talent (for stupidity or otherwise), and you're set.

So what happens when most of the world put their lives online, in more ways than one? What happens when you have so many outlets to speak up and be heard? What happens when everyone lives so publicly?

I can hear my father's answer to this question.

"Then noone really is."

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A lazy Mother’s Day weekend

So The Hubby is home and I had myself a rather lazy weekend, my Mother's Day gift apparently. For the first time in years, I woke up right before noon. Didn't know I still had it in me to sleep that late, but God, it was good. Except for the few grisly nightmares preceding my waking up and squinting at the bright sunlight squeezing through the blinds and thinking, oh God, I've slept through and am in fact, over and done with the weekend.

Now that's the nightmare.

So I gamed the whole day away, levelling my warlock to 34 and caught up on some news, such as that the Draenei will be WoW's new expansion race. Basic info on the new race here. These guys work fast! No news on when the expansion will be out though. Watch the Draenei gameplay vid here.

Frivolous pastime aside, I did cook though, for my friend Lorie, one of the parent teachers who works at the preschool, who just had a baby last Thursday. We have this meal prep thing going to help her out. She has twins, who go to school with Rae, and now a baby girl. Suffice to say, my cooking skills were put to test, or rather, my knowledge of proper after-birth cuisine that will not put Lorie's system into shock.

And so I made fried rice, and a separate dish of ginger chicken, which my mom and mom-in-law made me everyday after I had the girls. Don't know how a gwaipor will take that but really, I didn't know what else to cook! Let's hope they survived it.

I really have nothing to blog about, except to say I feel much better. Thing is, Lokes is going to be gone again to Europe, Japan and Australia this Sunday for two weeks.

God save me.

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Music for my ears

I've been YEARNING for a gadget such as this for the longest time (well, ever since Bluetooth was launched) because I've refused to buy an iPod no matter how sexy it is because it wasn't a phone and I don't need another expensive gadget in my bag, God knows.

Both my husband and I agree that Windows Mobile's Media Player on any WM device with the appropriately sized storage can be just as good. I don't need a million songs in my pocket. Contrary to what I (and perhaps quite a few women in the world) would like to believe, my life is not a musical.

Plus, if you think WM devices don't LOOK as good, wait til you see HTC's latest clamshell, which is just as slim, if not slimmer, than the Razr.

How do I know? The Husband brought both home yesterday. He strutted out of his office looking all swanky and happy. Basket. 

For now, the Moto HT820 reviews well. Looks good on any head. Works superbly but only if your device is flashed with the latest ROM, if I heard my husband correctly (was too busy smouldering with jealousy). Price isn't too bad, hovering from as low as $55 (dodgy merchants) to $130 (CompUSA).

Think I've got myself a nice birthday request here :).

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Surrender!

About freakin' time!

I like OSX as much as the next Mac admirer but it's_not_Windows. I play a lot of games so there is a valid reason as to why I have, to date, not owned a Mac.

almost bought one last year when I had to give up my notebook to the company I used to work for. Had my credit card out and all at the shop when I thought about paying RM3,000 for a machine that would not be able to run my favourite games, except for WoW.

I am in so much trouble now!

Beeeeeee!

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The less we memorise, the less we remember

That’s the bane of consumer tech, isn’t it?

About eight years ago, I got my first mobile phone. It was an Alcatel, if I remember correctly. Lokes (we weren’t dating then) told me I sorely needed one if we were going to be friends – haha, j/k.

I had like five phone numbers in there. My friend Hazel’s. My mom and dad. Work. My house.

Okay, I had four.

The rest of it, I remembered. I was so good at remembering phone numbers that it made me really good at my job then, which was writing for a small trade magazine, coz I would remember all my clients’ numbers.

Today, I have close to 120 numbers in my handphone. Some of them are to people I’ve met only once, ‘coz I use a Windows Mobile phone (who can guess why?) and can synch it to my Outlook, where all the data pertaining to everyone I’ve ever met is in there since like 2000. It’s good, so if I ever change my phone (to another WM device, of course, or something that can grab the numbers from my Outlook), I can just synch and be done with it.

How many numbers are in my head? Only Lokes’ and my house. Even those took a while to get carved in stone in my increasingly decreasing brain.

Yes, my phone number mojo is all dried up. No thanks to mobile phones and their ability to keep 500 phone numbers.

Why am I talking about this?

Lokes outfitted a GPS device in our car a while ago and now I think I’m losing my already faulty mental compass.

Like my mom, I’m totally unreliable when it comes to roads and routes, so yes, I’ve been truly brave and lucky to have been able to drive around the Puget Sound area without getting a ticket and/or hurting myself/the kids, and/or just get so hopelessly lost I’ve had to have Lokes come get me (touch wood).

Before, I used to Google all my directions. Then I Local.lived them. But more and more now, I’ve been using the app CoPilot on my Smart Phone with our GPS thingie attached to the dashboard. And guess what? I’m slowly, but surely, losing all sense of direction since I don’t have to remember any landmarks or road signs anymore.

Technology. Love it or loathe it, we can’t get rid of it now. The more we rely on tech, the less we use on our own God-given faculties, prefering the man-made wonders. Thing is, these things purportedly allow us to use our brains for more important things.

Thing IS, the less we use our brains for these seemingly unimportant (or rather, not important enough) tasks, the less adept our noodles become, because how else would we exercise them on a daily basis, if not through remembering names or numbers or directions? I mean, what if one day someone makes a device to help us remember faces and names so that we won’t NEED to?

Or is that what THIS is? I mean, imagine having one of these on your phone that transmits by voice any data on a person through your tiny Bluetooth headset furtively. You’ll never have to suffer the embarassment of forgetting someone’s name again!

What’s left for your brain to remember when the day comes when we don’t need to remember phone numbers, appointments, addresses, faces, birthdates, hobbies, a person’s favourite movie, colours, artiste, to buy bread?

Will there come a day when you don’t even need to remember what you ate for lunch? When to eat lunch? To eat?

Maybe I’m being ridiculous. Maybe that’s what my brain does with all the extra space left thanks to all the other unimportant data I’ve now flushed into my phone and computer.

You know what they say about idle minds…

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Origami, for the rest of us

Now I still don’t count myself as a tech savvy enough person even though I did IT journalism for so long but I have a few questions about how a device such as Microsoft’s spanking new Origami, what the company now calls the UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) will mean for one such as me.

Maybe it’s NOT targeted AT my demographic, but aside from the gadget freak slice, I’m really not sure who would NEED such a thing, cool and shiny as it may be. I would LOVE to have it – if it was free – but even if it’s like $500, why?

Since I’m quite the cool, shiny gadget fan, here are some PRACTICAL questions ‘coz I REALLY fail to see how it will “become as as indispensable and ubiquitous as mobile phones are today”, even in the next ten years. I lack vision!

Okay, so…

1. How MORE functional would it be for me, the i’mperfect mom, over my PDA-phone?

2. Sure it’s nice and small, but big enough to say, display good sized videos and online recipes, but why ditch my portable media¬†player (if I had one) for the Origami (other than the fact that I can run XP on it)?

3. Actually the “Star Trek form factor” thing Otto was mentioning the UMPC is moving towards is way more cool. Why not go THERE first? Doesn’t that look Enterprise-y, guys?

4. Battery life: 2-3 hours is WAY too little if this is an “ultra mobile” device. How?

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Hating some RSS feeds

Because they contain little, or nothing, more than just that “Read More” link.

What’s the point of letting people syndicate, when all you’re syndicating are links back to the website?! I know you want eyesballs and all. I don’t care, just gimme more than stand-firsts!

MSNBC feeds suck.

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New York Times feeds suck.

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Washingtonpost feeds (well, a few of them, like Miss Manners) suck more.

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The New Yorker feeds suck the most.

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Am I missing something here?

Do I have to pay for longer excerpts or full stories or what (mind you, I already have a New Yorker print subscription)?

Pfff.

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