Tag Archives: tech

Daily Discussion with BQB – Pride in Work is Dead

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

Not to get into specifics because you never know when the Yeti might be listening, but recently, I upgraded BQB HQ and that required the purchase of a number of new appliances.

You take them out of the box, set them up, everything is right as rain, right?

Wrong.  You have no idea how much time I’ve spent on the phone with tech support and customer assistance the past few months.

I got a vacuum cleaner that wouldn’t suck and ironically, its inability to suck made it suck.  It was cheap so I thought I got a bargain but apparently it was cheap for a reason.  After multiple go arounds with customer service, I junked it and forked out the cash for a Dyson.  The Dyson works great and ironically, had I just bought a Dyson in the first place I could have afforded a better Dyson.

I bought a desk.  It came in a box.  I had to screw all the parts together.  It was missing parts.  I consulted with others who looked at it just to make sure I wasn’t crazy.  I wasn’t.  It was missing parts.  After a long tango with customer service I, you guessed it, junked it.  It was 100 bucks, which I guess is cheap for a desk but that was all I needed.  I gave up and just got a 20 dollar folding card table.  That’s my desk now.  WTF.

Yeah, in hindsight had I not spent so much on book covers for books I’ll never get published I probably could have bought a really fabulous desk but anyway….the lesson seems to be don’t buy cheap things because they are cheap for a reason.  I’ll buy a top of the line desk when I can afford it.  Until then, I might as well have saved the 100 and gotten the 20 dollar card table up front.

Except the buy top of the line doesn’t work either.  I treated myself to a fantastic TV.  TV is my life so I might as well have a good one.  I take it out of the box and…WTF…there’s a base that screws into the television but the screw holes in the back of the TV are nowhere close to where the screw holes in the base are.

After an hour of having a physics and engineering discussion with tech support, the guy said he’d send me a new part and I told him up front please like actually work on this because I already know you’re just going to grab the same part and mail it to me and I’m going to have a meltdown, not an angry meltdown but just an utter collapse of hope in the overall abilities of society and mankind.

Seriously, if I get the wrong part in the mail, that will be it.  It will be a sign that we have turned a corner in the world, pride in work is dead, and I will retreat to a corner and rock back and forth in the fetal position until it is my time to go.

Also, I hear they don’t make blogs as good as they used to.  I wouldn’t know.  This blog is superior to all blogs.  You laugh, but you’ve never logged on here, found the wrong post, and had me be all like, “Oh sorry, I’ll send you the right post in 7-10 business days but it will probably still be the wrong post.”

By the way, did I mention that earlier this year, I got a new laptop?  It was great and still as laptops go it is fine, but occasionally it overheats to the point where it is hotter than the surface of the sun.  It got so hot that rubber pieces attached to it melted off.  After many tangos with customer service I finally decided that it only overheats once in awhile and a laptop that occasionally burns me that I can’t leave plugged in while I’m gone for fear it will burn down BQB HQ is, as the quality of most products go, a freaking win, because at least it is, more or less, operational, and somewhere there is a guy whose laptop grows a leg and kicks him in the balls who would love an occasionally hot laptop.

Do you have a customer service nightmare you’d like to share?  Discuss in the comments.

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#FridayswithBQB – Interview #4 – Amy Engle – Future Technology in Fiction (Or, When Are the Robots Coming for Us?)

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Author Website

When I search the deep recesses of my mind to access the proverbial “Hall of Famous Amies,” i.e. women named Amy I can remember, two come to mind. First, there was that woman who was in all the Kevin Smith movies in the 1990s who played “Chasing Amy.” She sounded like Jennifer Tilly and looked like Renee Zellweger and I’m not about to look up her name now because for the past twenty years I have referred to her as “that actress who sounds like Jennifer Tilly and looks like Renee Zellweger” and by God, I’m not about to stop now. OK, fine, she’s Joey Lauren Adams. Where were you in the 90s, IMDB?

The second famous Amy that pops into my mind is the one from “Gone Girl” who (SPOILER ALERT – LOOK AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE OR READ THE BOOK) totally fakes her own death just to get revenge on Ben Affleck. Since seeing that movie, I have avoided all relationships as I mean, holy crap, you just never know when a woman is going to get a little uppity over something and fake her own death and send you to jail. “What? You want me to pass the salt? That’s it! I’m faking my own death!” Thanks Hollywood. Thanks a lot.

Now, there’s a new Amy, author Amy Engle, and I don’t believe she would fake her own death (without a good reason) and I remember her name because she’s always in my Twitter feed, promoting her latest masterpiece.

As I am one of the Internet’s foremost nerds, she’s piqued my interest because she writes social science fiction which examines up and coming technologies and how they will affect mankind. Alteration of humans to make them more powerful and time travel are just some of the topics she explores.

Forget time travel. Just give me an edit button on my Twitter posts and I’ll be a happy camper. Anyway, 3.5 readers, please put all seven your hands together to welcome Amy Engle to this exceptional blog.

BQB=BOLD; AMY=ITALICS

QUESTION #1 – Amy, welcome to my blog. I hope you only have to stay here until a \kindhearted motorist sees your thumb sticking out and gives you a ride to a better interview. Until then, let’s talk about the future of technology. One concern that I have is that I’m going to be dead. I mean, I’m adding a lot of fiber to my diet to put that inevitability off for as long as possible, but if what happened to my cat, goldfish and grandma are any indication, I’m not going to get out of life alive.

So, to get to the point, my concern is that there will be a lot of awesome technologies that will be invented in the future. Cures for diseases that have long plagued humanity, devices that turn difficult chores into a quick and easy task. Solutions to poverty and war and all of society’s ills. And honestly, I fear it’s all going to happen in a way that will spite me. Like one minute before I die, someone’s going to come up to me and tell me, “Hey BQB, they just patented a drug that will cure what’s killing you and also, they just invented robot women!” Just my luck.

Enough from me. What’s the future look like? Will technology turn the world into the utopia I just described or will it make the world worse? While cures and solved problems are nice to think about, I suppose it is also entirely possible that technological advances could lead to more efficient war machines, more ways to pollute the environment and let’s just face it, we’re all going to be bowing down to our robot masters someday, aren’t we?

All the rambling above distilled into a simpler question – technology! Will it make the future better or worse?

ANSWER #1—Technology brings both the helpful as well as some kind of nasty side-effect. Diseases might all be eradicated someday, but then the resulting population boost will consume all the remaining resources at a swifter rate than normal. We might invent robots that do every little thing for us, letting us have easier lives and yet leaving us incapable of surviving on our own. (All I see in my mind now is the helpless, fat people in the floating chairs in “WALL-E.”) The frightening list goes on and on. Although I love technology, I also have a healthy level of fear. I’ve recently gotten into Netflix’s “Black Mirror” series. Although I’m relieved to know that there are other people whose brains think similar to mine, I’m also left absolutely frightened at the future implications of burgeoning tech. Now that I’ve revealed to the internet one of my deepest fears, I’ll just caution that we need to be aware that it can be used for immoral purposes as well as positive. But I really do hope  to see more and more advancements before I die as well.

QUESTION #2 – What’s a specific piece of technology coming down the road that you think will benefit humanity? In contrast, what tech will make life worse? Alternatively, is there technology that might have positive and negative ramifications?

ANSWER #2—I love seeing videos of people in third-world countries finding simple solutions to deal with a big problem. As someone who writes speculative science fiction, I’m always interested in how a technology affects society. I hope there will be newer forms of social media that could further spread knowledge and awareness of moral injustices and allow the human race to unite as a positive force. With that said, I have absolutely no idea what kind of technology that would be.

QUESTION #3 – Your book, “Undoing Life” is about Sal Chancellor, a man who obtains a time travelling watch he uses in the hopes of turning his lousy life around for the better, but as it turns out, he’s being observed by people from four hundred years in the future. You describe it as “The Truman Show” meets “The Butterfly Effect” meets “Groundhog Day.”

The description alone speaks to me. I’d love to have Sal’s watch and change my past. Ex-girlfriends I messed things up with. Opportunities I wish I’d taken. Hell, even if I could talk my past self into working out more and hitting the drive-thru less.

When it comes to time travel, there seems to be two schools of thought. The most popular is that we should never change the slightest thing about the past because we never know how it will change the future. So for example, I could turn my past self into a model boyfriend and keep that girl I lost but you never know, maybe we were supposed to break up because our son would have become the next Hitler.

Alternatively, when we’re young we’re handed a myriad of important choices to make. We have little life experience so we make the best choice we can with the limited knowledge we have at the time. When we’re older, we get all the spoilers, i.e. we figure out how our past decisions turn out. Would it be that bad to whisper a few tidbits of advice to our former selves?

Tinker with the past or leave it alone. Which course of action do you think is best and why?

ANSWER #3—Ha! You have touched on a number of things I explore in “Undoing Life.” Sal uses his time-travel watch to fix a romantic relationship and undo several life-mistakes. However, it corrupts and mangles his mind as the power consumes him. And I believe that this would happen to anyone who tried to play God and alter time. There are just too many unknown variables to really say for certain if time-travel would be a “good” thing. And it certainly wouldn’t be advisable to let the masses all manipulate time at once. It would need to remain in the hands of a couple over-seers. But my short answer would have to be to leave time alone and just let it do its thing.

QUESTION #4 – Perhaps one sign of progress is that every generation envies the technology that the new generation has full access to. My grandma marveled at my Nintendo games as if they were dropped off by a space alien. Conversely, I’m a little miffed that today’s 20-year olds can start their own YouTube shows, start their own blogs, write their own e-books and have years ahead of them to build a following on social media.

Personally, I would have loved to have had all of this self-publishing technology when I was 20 and able to stay up all night and write for three days straight fueled on nothing but Cheetos, energy drinks and unearned confidence, but at my age, I think about self-publishing a lot but then I just take a nap.

In my own twisted way, that leads me to ask if self-publishing is worth it. Consider all the time and effort you put in. Are you getting satisfactory results? If my 3.5 readers ask you if they should start self-publishing, would you advise them to get into it or to run away, kicking and screaming?

ANSWER #4—It’s a little too early to say for sure if self-publishing is “worth it.” This is technically my second attempt at self-publishing. I was exclusively on Kindle for almost two years and made approximately $60 in that time-span. I’m now publishing through Ingram Spark, which means that my stories will supposedly be available in every other format except for Kindle. (I can’t publish through them for at least a year after I am no longer exclusively with them.)

Yes, I’m putting a lot of effort and money into getting all my stories self-published, I’m still in the hopeful stage that this will all be worth it someday. I’ve got quite a few books I need to sell to break-even, but I’m learning enough about marketing to allow me to keep expanding my influence and find new readers to buy my books.

I would like to pass on one little tip: do your research! Google is full of information about both indie-publishing as well as traditional publishing. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes—as long as you learn from them and try again if/when you fail for the first time.

QUESTION #5 – Your book, “Iris” talks about alteration of humans. Should humans be altered? I mean, I’d love to be altered so that I could run really fast, lift cars, and fly, but I’d settle for more hair and the ability to eat fast food burgers without going up a pant size. Human altering – will it save mankind or ruin us all?

ANSWER #5—Oh, Bookshelf Q. Battler! You keep asking me questions with only two options. I’m not a “black-and-white” sort of person. I don’t think things are either one way or another. There are so many different variables to consider and evaluate. I think human alterations are inevitable. And yet, I don’t think it will happen quite in our lifetimes. It very well might solve a handful of problems while also adding a new set we hadn’t anticipated. In “Iris,” many of these Alterations died due to the radical changes that were forced upon their bodies. Several of those who survived are now hiding from their creators, hoping not to live the rest of their lives as weapons.

QUESTION #6 – “Reps and Royals” features space colonization. Just gonna throw it out there. Does alien life exist? If so, should we try to contact the aliens to see if they have any solutions for our toughest problems, or will that just let them know we are here so they can send their ships to conquer us all?

ANSWER #6— I grew up on “Star Wars,” so I love the thought of meeting aliens someday. I hope we can learn from them and maybe pass along some wisdom as well. I don’t think they will solve all our problems. And of course, there’s the possibility that they might try to enslave us. Sadly, though, there aren’t any aliens in “Reps and Royals”—just humans living on a different planet. I haven’t finished my “alien” story quite yet!

QUESTION #7 – You’re a middle school English teacher and a drama club director. Please put on a production of “Chicago” immediately. “They had it coming! They had it coming! They only had themselves to blame!” Sorry. I digress. I love showtunes.

My 3.5 readers and I talk a big game about self-publishing. We’ll list out all the goals we want to achieve, but then we just sit around and eat cookies and watch Netflix. You seem to be hitting all your marks even while teaching and drama directing. Are there any time management techniques you could share?

ANSWER #7—I’m guilty of wasting hours binge-watching Netflix after a long day of teaching and directing. But I’ve realized that life-style makes me even more tired than when I’m writing all night long. I’ve only recently been able to chip away at my movie addiction. It’s been a few years that I’ve been trying to be more disciplined with my writing time. I just keep telling myself that I’ll never be able to write full-time if I don’t WRITE. So I set aside about an hour every night to revise, with a couple hours on weekends and holidays. I don’t write EVERYDAY, but I fit a good 10+ hours in every week. As far as actual management techniques, I don’t have any great trick that helps me. You’ve got to figure out what works for you and your schedule. Prioritize and figure out what you can really do without in order to find time to work on what matters the most to you.

QUESTION #8 – As a self-publisher, what’s one lesson you learned the hard way? Can you share it with my 3.5 readers to help them avoid the trouble?

ANSWER #8—I learned that writing takes time. I remember being in college and thinking that I was going to squeeze out a best-seller in a few months and that would cover the cost of tuition and living expenses. When that didn’t work out, I still misjudged the amount of time it took to fix up a decent manuscript. I’ve been writing for about ten years now, and I’m still struggling to “make it” in this business; it will likely also take me a few more years as well. Don’t get discouraged when things don’t go according to your plan. That wastes precious time. Instead, set another goal when the previous plan fails. Repeat that direction as much as needed until you figure it out. Remember: no two authors have the same journey to publication!

QUESTION #9 – If time travel ever is invented, what is one time period you’d like to visit, even if it’s just as a casual observer who doesn’t interfere?

ANSWER #9—As a woman, traveling far back into time doesn’t appeal to me. I like living in a period where females have rights and can do about anything they set their minds to. But I think I’d like to visit the early 1900’s during the Women’s Suffrage Movement. I’d want to give the ladies encouragement in their endeavor to allow women to vote.

QUESTION #10 – You are a student of karate and as far as I know, because I know very little about Arizona, you may very well be one of the greatest karate masters in all of Arizona, punching tumbleweeds and cacti with reckless abandon and showing them who’s boss.

First sub-question, is it possible to kill a man with your pinky finger and if so, can you share that information with my 3.5 readers, who I assume are all good people and would not use that knowledge for evil?

Second sub-question, do those karate skills come in handy as a writer? Maybe they help you relax and focus. Maybe you know how to write better fight scenes?

ANSWER #10—I can’t help but be humble and explain that there are many who have trained a lot harder than I have and could easily take me on. Although, I do have my fair-share of strengths to overcome my many weaknesses. I’ve been studying American Kenpo on and off for a dozen years now; however, I only have about six and half years on cumulative training.

As far as the pinky goes, I don’t know how to kill someone with it. There very likely is a way to do it, but I know dozens of other ways that would be more effective and less-likely to break that finger. And yet as I’m writing this, I’m having a flashback to an old lesson when my instructor barely touched his pinky into a pressure point in my foot. I’ll just say that it was exceedingly painful and left a vivid memory that I can still recall years later. And, yes, I will definitely agree that my martial art training comes in handy. Not only is it an outlet for my stress, it has also allowed me to write some pretty awesome fight scenes.

QUESTION #11 – Time travel has been invented! You meant to travel to the 1980s to party with Menudo, but alas, the dial on your machine got stuck and you end up in the Jurassic age. When you step out of your machine, you find yourself surrounded by vicious, hungry raptors, you know, the really smart dinosaurs who are so intelligent they can break off into teams and chase little kids around a kitchen if Stephen Spielberg’s beliefs about dinosaurs are accurate.

As luck would have it, a technician at the time travel lab left his briefcase inside the time machine. You open it in the hopes there will be a weapon, but alas, you only find a rubber band ball, a rotten tomato, and a box set of bubblegum cards featuring the 1972 lineup of the Oakland Athletics, with the bubblegum stick still intact, though whether or not it is still chewable is beyond my grasp of medical science. I probably wouldn’t chew it myself.

How would you use these items to avoid becoming raptor lunch?

ANSWER #11—This touches on so many themes of one of my WIPs (Works in Progress). But I’ll gloss over that, as well as the fact that I don’t know who Menudo is.  So I only have a rubber band ball, a rotten tomato, and a box set of bubblegum cards with bubblegum? Oh, and I have the briefcase, too! I don’t have much of a chance, do I?

Sadly, engineering isn’t one of my strong suits—unless it’s LEGOS. Using my teacher experiences, I’ll keep calm so as not to rile up the raptors. I’ll then have to rely on my martial art training to dodge their teeth while using the briefcase as a shield. See, this is hard to hypothesize over since I have no idea how many dinosaurs there are. I’ll plan on three then. I will expertly shoot the rotten tomato into the eyes of one of the raptors, using a slingshot I made out of the rubber bands. As the other two move in, I’ll toss some gum into the open maw of one. While he is confused by its sweetness, I’ll confront the last raptor. Making Wolverine claws with the bubblegum cards, I’ll slice at the dinosaur. At this point, hopefully he realizes I won’t be an easy meal, so he goes on his way to find a less troublesome breakfast.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: My supercomputer at BQB HQ calculates this response to have a 94.7 percent chance of working in an actual author vs. raptor combat scenario.  Bravo!  Also, Menudo was the latino version of “New Kids on the Block.”  Either that, or NKOTB was the white version of Menudo.  Sigh.  Time to get that retirement home brochure.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – KodakCoin

Hey 3.5 readers.

Kodak’s stock tripled today based on news that it is launching a new product, “KodakCoin,” getting in on the cryptocurrency phenomenon.

Gotta be honest, I’m surprised Kodak is still in business.  I dabble in the stock market, but I never would have thought to buy shares in Kodak because, I mean, their main claim to fame was built on physical camera film, which is basically like producing Model T fords or dinosaur pants.

Millennials, there was a time when you had to load film into your camera and the little gremlins inside your camera would etch a rough sketch of what you were pointing your camera at.  I’m pretty sure how that works.

Amazingly, Kodak remained in business over the years.  I believe if you ever go to a store and get physical prints of your digital photos, its usual a Kodak machine, so they showed some conversion to modern tech power.  Still, it’s got to be hard on a company when the product they were known for, i.e. Kodak film, becomes obsolete.

Not sure what KodakCoin is but it sounds like they’re devising a way for photographers to get paid when hteir images are used.  If you know more about it, tell me and also will you use it?

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Things that Really Frost My Ass – I Wish Cell Phones Had Never Been Invented

By: Uncle Hardass, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Grumpy Old Man Correspondent

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Hello degenerate 3.5 readers.  Your old Uncle Hardass here.  Happy New Year.  None of you have resolved to get jobs, I see.  Everyone’s resolved to try even harder to be writers, I take it.  “Oh, look at me!  Fiddle dee dee!  I want to be a writer because my thoughts are so important they must be shared with the world!”

Oh, screw it, write away.  See if I care.  I don’t want to complain about that.  I feel like complaining about cell phones instead, because I’m telling you, the cell phone is truly the worst contraption ever invented.  I rue that day that Sir Isaac Cellington figured out how to make them.  Screw that guy and the horse he rode in on.

3.5 readers, when I was a kid, if you needed to get in touch with someone when they were not in your presence…well, you basically didn’t.  99% of the shit you had to say to this person could wait until said individual returned home.

For that 1%, you might have to track that person down.  So like, if a family member is dying (and only the person can save them), or you just found out a hit man is trying to kill this person imminently, I mean, even then it was considered pretty rude, but you might be able to slide on the etiquette rules and get away with calling the restaurant or the store or the place you thought that person was going to be and asking the employee who answers, “Hey, I need to talk to this schmuck that’s there.  He’s tall and has black hair and is kinda ugly and has crooked teeth and dresses like an asshole.  Oh, you see him?  Great, put him on the phone please.”

So let’s recap.  Prior to like, oh, I want to say maybe 2006, if you contacted someone who wasn’t in your general vicinity, the reasons had to be:

  1. A family member is dying imminently and this person is the ONLY one who can save him/her.  Couldn’t be a friend, had to be a family member (and really, nuclear family only) and the death had to be within, say, an hour at best.  Like you couldn’t bother someone while they’re out shopping to help save your third cousin twice-removed who was advised by doctors that he’d be dying six hours from now.
  2. You had to have credible evidence that a hit man was hired to murder this person and you wanted to warn him/her.  “Credible” meaning corroborated by witnesses or physical evidence (i.e. testimony from two responsible citizens or barring that, a copy of the signed murder contract.) Even then, you had to be aware that the hit was going to happen within the hour.

That’s literally it.  Otherwise, you DID NOT bother people while they were out and about.  And honestly, cell phones starting getting pretty popular and affordable by the late 1990s/early 2000s, but even then, most responsible adults used them sparingly.  I just had one I kept in my glove compartment in case my car broke down but otherwise I never used it because I never knew anyone whose dying family member I could save within the hour and no one ever tried to be a hit on me.  Well, at least no one ever heard of a plot that was going to go down against me within an hour anyway.

Today, it’s all different.  Now, everyone has a damn cell phone and my phone is constantly ringing off the hook (phones used to be kept on hooks, 3.5 readers) and there’s no limit, no limit at all as to what people will call you with:

  • Hi, I want to call you to tell you my ass hurts.  No, there’s nothing you can do while you are at work but I just want to tell you that my ass hurts.  You should be aware I have a broken ass.
  • Please pick up ten things for me on the way home.
  • Hello, I need to call and tell you a bunch of shit while you are operating a car i.e. a ten ton machine of death that could easily mow down a small child if you aren’t giving the operation of this gigantic contraption YOUR COMPLETE AND FULL ATTENTION, but anyway, please listen to this trivial story of how someone offended me.
  • I had tacos for lunch.
  • Hi, this is your boss.  I’m calling you at midnight to remind you to do that thing I don’t remember you did last week and you have already told me you did it but I don’t remember.
  • Hi, this is some jackass.  Your number is one digit off of a friend of mine and I’m calling you twenty times until I figure it out.
  • Hi, my ass still hurts.
  • Hi this is your doctor.  You have penis warts and though it could have waited I’m telling you now.
  • Hi, I’m a telemarketer and I’d like to sell you a time share.  Wouldn’t you like to spend your life’s savings on 1/1000th of a shitty condo in Tahiti?

I can’t stand it.  I just can’t.  You know what?  Can we just go back to the early 2000s?  I’m going to shut my cell phone off, throw it in the glove box, and then I’ll just have it in the event that I get into an accident.  That’s it.  Nothing else.

And I know you’ll all be like, “Well, BQB what if someone needs to call you while you’re out?”  No, screw that.  I’d like to remind you that from the time the phone was invented until like, ten years ago, the only acceptable reasons to call someone while they weren’t home were a) if a family member was going to die within the hour and this person was the only one able to save him/her and/or b) you had credible knowledge that a hit man was hired to murder this person within the hour, ergo the person needed to be warned.

That’s it!  Those are the TWO AND ONLY TWO reasons why anyone would ever, EVER need to be called while they aren’t home and I say we should all go back to that.

By the way, did you know that before the invention of the phone, people just…didn’t even talk to people unless they were seeing them face to face?  If you needed to tell the person something, you had to either rip a feather off of a duck’s ass and use it as a quill to write a note on a piece of parchment that you’d then give to a neighborhood boy to walk ten miles to deliver the message in exchange for a six pence, or b, if it was really important, you’d rustle up a horse and go tell the person.

Honestly people, before you call me or anyone else, think to yourself, “Is this message so important that if we were in the 1800s, would I steal a fucking horse and gallop thirty miles just to inform the person about it?”

If yes, call away.  If no, shut your cake hole and go have a cookie.

Bah!  Cell phones are the worst.

 

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Net Neutrality

What do you think, 3.5 readers?

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Will You Buy Bitcoin?

Bitcoin has shot up ridiculously in value.  Will you buy it?

I have no idea if you should or not so don’t ask me.  I’m just wondering what you think, 3.5 readers.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – The Infamous Google Memo

Hey 3.5 readers.

So…here’s something that happened that sounds like it could be an Onion article.  A Google employee wrote a memo that essentially says Google suppresses different opinions and could benefit from allowing different opinions.

For offering a different opinion, the dude was fired.

I’m worried to even dip my toe in this fray.  God knows it’s never good to get on the wrong side of the PC police.

But it’s just…if you actually read the guy’s memo, he’s actually a) recognizing that lack of women working in tech is a problem and b) offering possible solutions to help bring more women into the tech sector.

For example, he notes that more part-time jobs might help women get into tech.  Women often find themselves torn between career and family.  Part-time jobs could help mothers keep a foothold in the tech industry but still leave them with enough time to be with their children.  When their kids are older, women who worked part-time will have a much easier finding full time employment.

OK this is where you breathe fire on me and tell me “Blah blah blah why should women have to stay home with the kids?”  You know what?  If they don’t want to, then they shouldn’t.  I’m talking about women who actually, legit WANT to spend time with their children but still also work part time and also have a full time job when their kids are older and don’t need as much help anymore.

OK this is where you breathe fire on me and say, “Well why don’t the men stay home with the kids?”  Well, if they want to, they should be able to.  Problem is this.  The women’s rights movement has gone a long way into bringing more fairness as to what society “expects” from women.

If you’re a woman and you want to work, there are more people than ever who will not give you shit for that.  Also, if you’re a woman and you would rather stay home with your children because you think hugging those babies is what life is all about, people won’t give you shit either.  You’ve got options.

There has not been a corresponding shift in societal expectations of men.  If you are a man, you’d better work and be a good provider if you want a woman.  Your ability to attract a woman corresponds to how much money you make, as if you are a human ATM machine and your personality, your mind, etc matters little.  If you stay home with the kids, you’ll be considered a pussy.

But you know what?  More part time jobs might help men too.  Dads could take a part time job and keep their toe in tech while they take care of kids.  Maybe they could do that while their wives work part time.

And then the memo goes on to suggest that some, note, some women prefer cooperative over competitive environments.  Thus, the memo suggests there should be more group projects where workers help one another rather than solo projects where everyone climbs over each other to be number one.

Sounds like a nice environment, doesn’t it?  I’d rather work with someone than against someone.

Keep in mind the memo doesn’t say ALL women want to work part time, that they ALL want to choose kids over careers, that they ALL prefer cooperation over competition…what he’s saying is enough women do that a significant number stay out of tech and if they could receive some reasonable assistance, the number of women in tech would increase.

But all the PC police see is, “OMG!  He said men and women are different!  Get him!”

It just seems crazy to me.  So contradictory.

PC FOLKS:  We’re mad there aren’t more women in tech!

MEMO GUY:  Here are some ideas that might help get more women into tech.

PC FOLKS:  Rot in hell scumbag!

MEMO GUY:  OK I’ve been fired so I can’t suggest more ideas to help get more women into tech.

PC FOLKS:  Boo!  Why aren’t there more women in tech?

What say you 3.5 readers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Start a Podcast

Hey 3.5 readers.  Alas, my podcasting career was short lived, but I was so surprised that I was able to figure out how to get a podcast recorded and posted, that I’ll share the info with you:

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#1 – What Is Your Podcast About?

That’s really up to you, but I’ve listened to good podcasts and lousy ones.  The good ones have a theme, a point, a structure.  If it’s just you and your musings, make it clear that’s what the listener will get.  If it’s about your love of ancient paintings of toucan beaks, be clear about that too.

You may not have professional experience, but you’ve listened to enough radio to wing it.  My biggest pet peeve is podcasts where there are multiple hosts and they giggle and laugh and tell inside jokes and then someone says something like, “Should we tell the audience what that means?” and the response is “No, tee hee hee.  Well, sorry, but eff you dummies.  You came to entertain me, so either do it or shut off the recorder and have your own private conversation.  Don’t make your audience feel like an unwanted third wheel.

I keep wondering if I was too hard on myself.  My voice sucks, there’s no way around it.  I sort of hope that with more practice I could at least work on diction, pronunciation, pacing, timing, getting rid of stuttering, stammering, lost train of thought and so on.

So practice does make perfect but at the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself.  While the little errors should be removed from your book, I just don’t think it is possible for even the most professional talker to get through a broadcast without an “Uhh” or an “umm.”  It’s when they come every five seconds then it becomes a problem.

#2 – Get a Mic

I’m no expert here, but I know at least enough to tell you that the mic built into your laptop will not do.  You’ll need an actual mic to connect to your computer.  What’s the best one?  You’ll have to search around for that information.  Best for me was what I was able to afford and until you’re raking in the big bucks, you might want to stick with that too.  Don’t shell out your life savings on a fancy microphone, record one podcast, decide it sucks and you’re done.  That will just lead to embarrassment in a few decades when you tell your grandkids the story of that dusty old microphone in the corner with cobwebs all over it.

#3 – Train on the Software

I used Garageband for Mac, though I hear Audacity is preferred for PC.  My advice will be geared toward Garageband as I never used Audacity.

I am a complete novice, but here are some things I was able to pick up that got me from, “I could never do this” to “this is hypothetically possible.

  • “When I click record the recording picks up me hitting buttons on my computer and breathing.”

Yup.  You’re not an idiot.  That happens.  Just keep talking.  Record what you want to say.  Your recording will look like a big long running graph of your voice.  Find the parts where you hit buttons, breathed too hard, burped, farted or whatever.  I’m not sure what the marker that you move around the screen is called so I’ll just call it, “the marker.”  Put the marker between what you want to keep and what you want to delete.  Press Command + T at the same time and voila!  Snippy snippy!  Just like taking a pair of scissors to a piece of tape.  (That’s how people edited sound back in the day, millennials.)

  • “How do I string sounds together?”

You should have a cool intro, maybe some music, some kind of lead in, maybe a prerecorded interview or some soundbites you want to play.  You’ll have to study it more than I am able to explain here, but the short version is Garageband allows you to load up all your sounds, then drag and drop them next to where you want them to be in your recording.

  • “How do I fade out music?”

Yes, you’ll want awesome music but you don’t want it to end abruptly and then start speaking.  But you don’t want it blaring over your voice either.  You want it to build up and then start going down so the listener’s ears transition from the song to the words coming out of your cake hole.  I hate to be lazy, but I’m lazy.  I’ll confirm it is possible and it is just a matter of bringing up a line that goes over the voice of your music, plotting out points where you want the music to decline, then recording your voice and dragging underneath where the music fades out.

I don’t know how Howard Stern does it when he’s talking live.  I assume Fred has a fader button.

#4 – YouTube Videos

I literally obtained my limited podcasting knowledge by watching YouTube videos.  There’s a YouTube video about how to do almost anything.  I was utterly confounded by Garageband until I found a good video that told me how to use it.

#5 – How Do I Get My Fabulous Podcast Onto iTunes?

Ah, iTunes.  It’s the place to be for podcasts.  But you can’t just start there.  Steve Jobs didn’t get super rich by offering free hosting space, you know.

You need another site to host your podcast and generate an RSS feed for you.  You might be able to do it on your own website, but don’t look to me to tell you how, for my name is not Bookshelf Q. Einstein.

Soundcloud and Podbean will both allow you a small amount of free space where you can upload your podcast file.  However, if you decide that you’re going to be a regular podcaster, you’ll need to dole out some cash to get more hosting space.  Your choice of site.  I went with Soundcloud because it looks hipper to me.

There may be completely free sites but I’m not smart enough to know about them.

Once you’ve got a site to host your podcast, you can log on to iTunes podcast connect and link up your RSS feed.  iTunes will review your podcast and assuming they don’t have any problems with it, it will appear in iTunes podcasts once they approve it.  I don’t know how long it will take them to approve.  I don’t work for Apple, so stop bugging me, nerd.

#6 – Is There Anything I Should Be Worried About?

Lots, probably.  Just off the top of my head, don’t hijack copyrighted material.  You might like a popular song, but you can’t just lift it and make it your intro, for example.  Just as there are stock photo sites for blogs, there are stock sounds/songs sites for podcasts.  Also, you might think you’re a nobody and no one’s listening but even so, nobodies can be sued for slander and defamation, so mind your p’s and q’s, buster.

Conclusions

Done well, it can probably be a great marketing tool and if you get enough subscribers, you might be able to sell some advertising in order to fund your nerdy empire.  My fear is that it isn’t something you roll out of bed being able to do and even if you master the tech, you, sigh, still have to be someone that people want to listen to and provide a show that people will want to listen to.

Thus, for me, the fear is I don’t want to do it until I’m able to provide something that doesn’t make me sound like a dope.  I’ve listened to podcasts that sound like they came from people who half-assed it and I was left with the impression that they are dopes.  Remember, people are less likely to buy your book, read your blog, partake of your content if you come across as a dope, so if you’re going to do it, do it well.

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BQB Reviews a Go Pro Hero 5 Black

Why did I buy this?  Someone please confiscate my wallet.

After seeing these things for years, but without a reason to justify buying one, I finally went for it.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons.

PRO:

  • It’s got voice control, so that can help you take pictures of yourself with your friends, family, dog, cat, llama and so on.
  • The Go Pro website has a whole host of mounts that you can use to capture action shots.  There’s a mount for your helmet, a mount to wear on a strap that goes around your head, a mount to put on your car, your bike.  There is a mount you can put ON YOUR DOG (Bookshelf Q. Battledog videos would include a lot of sniffing and pooping).  There is even a mount you can put on your GUN so you can take videos of yourself shooting at (well, I hope targets.  My attorney advises me to remind you that you shouldn’t be shooting at anything but targets).  #Merica!
  • It’s a good buy if you’re like some kind of highly active social media video blogger.
  • I got a little handle to attach to mind so it makes it easier to walk around.  It doesn’t have a screen on the front that can show you a picture of yourself which I think is a flaw they need to fix because otherwise, the handle makes it so that if you were some kind of fancy video blogger, you could record yourself easily while you are walking.

CONS:

  • I’m not an active social media video blogger.
  • I couldn’t strap a camera to my head without feeling like an asshole.
  • I couldn’t strap a camera to my dog without feeling like an asshole.
  • I’m not an athlete so my camera will never capture any stunts, back flips, white water rafting trips, parasailing, parachuting or any of that bullshit.
  • So yes, I basically gave Go Pro a donation.

CONCLUSIONS:

All that being said, it is a decent camera.  I’m a tech nerd.  I enjoy this stuff so I find it fun to play with.  If you’re active and you want to record your athletic abilities for the masses, this gadget is for you.  If you’re a couch potato who wants to record video, you’d probably be better off just getting a standard hard drive video camcorder.

Or hell, just take videos with your phone like everyone else does.

Fun fact: Go Pro’s stock took a dive in 2016, the explanation being that pretty much every one who wants a Go Pro has one and the market for future Go Pro purchases is small.  After all, there aren’t that many assholes who want to jump out of a plane and record their parachute free fall.

However, word has it that Go Pro is working on virtual reality and so on so who knows.  Hopefully they have some surprises in the years to come.

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