nawkcire

Games, Tech and Blogging…I can't guarantee in that order.

Tag Archives: misc

Google Map Reviews

It’s been awhile that I signed up as a Google Guide, a service that allows you to participate in editing and reviewing locations on Google Maps. Recently (though I don’t want to brag) I reached by 100th review and I’ve seen some good and bad reviews.

Full disclosure of how I rate and review, Google uses a 5 star system. With it, I base all ratings on the following:

  1. Does the place physically exist? Kind of mandatory for most of the places I’ve been.
  2. How’s the customer service? How was my personal experience?
  3. How was the services and products offered? Were they everything I expected?
  4. How does the physical location look? Optionally, how’s the washrooms?

I don’t usually offer a 5 star rating which means from me, 4 stars is the most. However 5 stars just indicates I’ve had an exemplary time and experience. Meaning 2 through 4 were exceptionally greater than the places I’ve been. This is fairly hard since a lot of restaurants and shops provide the same amount of service and usually meets a pseudo-standard which seems professional but accommodating.

In terms of a written review, it follows a personal standard. First beginning with a preamble about the general location, nothing bias here. Then I move on to atmosphere of the place, products and services, then customer service. Along with it, I put down anything I’ve observed to be interesting to me and the last paragraph is for if I want to recommend this place or if I would visit again.

It’s likely not the best way to be labelled as a useful review however I’ve seen some really ridiculous reviews on there with a bunch of users saying they found it useful. On Steam it’s the same thing but that’s another story. Usually these reviews have no content besides from a star rating and the phrase “not bad”, “great”, or “would visit again”. If I was a stranger, I would like to know why people enjoy this place and something to really be convinced on going. The idea of a review is not to just let people know what’s going on here but to provide people a reason to go there or should not even bother. I know some people can be extremely critical (some of my reviews sound like that as well) but the idea is to be honest to provide feedback to a place while giving something a potential customer needs to go there.

Regardless I found a lot of places over Google Maps because reviewers have provided some good feedback. Then there are places with those 2 word reviews that turn me away because I don’t feel like going there. With a lot of users, I think Google should extend this Guide program to products. Perhaps a joint product review with Amazon but the Guide program does offer a somewhat credible system for folks.

Four out of five, will review again.

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A selfie is not a self portrait…

Sure this topic isn’t hip any more but when the term “selfie” came around to pop culture, there were a lot of opinion writers.

At the gallery there is a fantastic painting of an artist painting themselves as they’re painting themselves. It’s kind of interesting to step closer and seeing the detail into the scene within the painting. Even with their back turned, it’s a very interesting self-portrait. Fast forward to the digital age of the late 2000’s and 2010’s, the “selfie” is a self portraiture; usually associated with a cell phone and a mirror. I have to admit looking at the comparison between this piece in the gallery and everyone’s Instagram (I don’t have one but I like to peak at others), we’ve come so far that I feel the concept of a self-portrait has degenerated. It’s one thing to make the “I was here” statement when you want to selfie  in the moment but when people stage selfies, I do feel it’s a bit self-absorbed.

In a recent walk to witness the Sakura blooms, I saw a lot of selfie sticks. A lot. Enough to really conclude people are really selfish to really equate to those people who take chunks of the tree for themselves or those who disobey signs to get the right selfie. I really don’t think a jpeg from a cellphone could really out compete with a RAW file from a DSLR or even a png/tiff image from a point and shoot. I regardless, a $100 point and shoot will have a timer function. Meanwhile I’ve seen people reaching out to a stranger for a photo. I, for a few times, was the stranger. I usually do my best to take the photo. I quite understand to entrust someone of your phone when you’re so shy to ask. That’s obvious but there are some very outgoing people that apparent don’t have time to get a photographer as a friend.

I do find in modernity, the self-portrait has become more abuse of an artistic craft to a social media eye sore. And for those who rarely take them; rare being once in many month, then I think you are more observant of the world than looking for a narcissistic reward.

Pretty Beat

Recently I’ve been struggling keeping up with the hobbies. I’ve been partially working or been on my feet. It’s summer or what it feel like it here, but it’s a good time for photography. This year I’m hoping the summer will be more productive for photos. At the same time I’m excited to finish Fallout 4, however another game is slowly taking over my life.

Yes, after a couple years…I finally downloaded Pokemon Go. Just this past Friday and since then, I realize how dangerous this ago because I almost got hit by two cars and bumping right into a wall. Luckily I’m not so mindless that I would run full steam. However walking distracted is dangerous, especially in a large city involving many sharp objects. It’s like being a child again and your parents forgot to make the entire house child safe. Anyways, I’ll be trying to stay away from playing while moving. Though I kind of understand most of the good stuff in the game is found on avenues. So if anyone is still curious, please look and bee aware of your surroundings; this is not a drill.

With photography, I would like to push out and use my tripod more often. However at the same time, I want to travel and shoot something different. Seeing my city kind of loses it’s appeal. I like landscapes here and I think this year I’m blooming into street photography. I usually stayed from taking pictures of people in this shots. So shyness from snapping people, it’s diminishing and I’m getting comfortable with finding the shot with people in the scene.

Anyways, that’s where I am now. After the crazy stuff happening in the world and restraining to spout all the problems around me, I’ll try and write down the topic and hopefully I will remember it later.

Mental Health

This is one thing I have to be mindful of when I live my life. I take pills, apply therapy techniques and do my best to live my life. With the recent going-on’s in Toronto, I feel like underlying issue is left ignored.

During times like this when an incident on this scale happens, people get immediately angry and resentful. Myself included when I first heard the news, I was shocked and wanted nothing more for the suspect to serve his life behind bars. It is unfortunate knowing I walk the same streets and at any time, someone like this person would get behind the wheel and commit murder on this scale. Knowing one of those pedestrians can be anyone regardless of age, race and gender, it disturbs me to think I could be one of those unnamed and soon forgotten by the public.

Life – a fragile thing. Not only in preservation, but in keeping all the smaller things in perspective. Things like emotion, stability and clarity. To feel without overstepping while taking a stride with meaning without being led by emotions. Which is kind of why I’m brought to write this week’s post (though it feels I do this more bi-weekly).

The real question when crimes like this occur, I ask myself “What’s really going on here?” A lot of people focus solely on a person then blame a niche outside the norm. It’s equivocal if a hipster committed genocide because carnivores are destroying the Earth and veganism is the way to go. The way I see it, crime is a social issue. The question from “What this person has done?” to “Where did we go wrong?” Channelling the proverb “it takes a village” does reflect what happened and what has changed. From the restraint for the officer ending the situation non-violently to the tolerance to not accuse the suspect for terrorism right off the bat. We’re changing but there is niche groups that are still victimized because of radicalized individuals. It is sad people died because we live in a society still dictated by a toxic masculine point of view which objectifies men as much as it does for women. In a sense the recent pro-female movement has weaponized feminism into hating men than raising an equal society. This mirrors much of the recent movements started with good intentions and lead by those radicalized by them. Dissidence is important for a democratic society but the values we pass on must be of those of tolerance and critical thinking. To be objective and to ask questions beyond what we know to get a bigger picture.

If we can at least achieve this, perhaps things like this wouldn’t necessarily happen.

NIMBY

First time I ever heard of this acronym was in Cities: Skylines. In the game, this is a policy you can enact to prevent loud noise at night. In reality this is much more as a phrase for anyone who opposes a service within their neighbourhood.

Living in the big city, whether people say it or not, has become a bit of an oxymoron. Here homelessness and public transit are the top two people like to address but don’t necessarily want to physically change.

The transit system here is fairly archaic, most of the system was developed in the 60’s. With a sprawling city without an upgraded transit system, it has been crowded. So now with old stations being updated, a lot of people are really against the stations from expanding to accommodate more routes or making it more accessible. With a lot of people throwing opinions and hate for every plan, I doubt any meaningful progress so far.

The homeless issue is a bunch of sociological problems; drugs, shelter, food, safety. A lot of local NGO’s  try to keep these people alive while the city tries to find ways to bring these people back into society. The biggest problem especially in winter is shelter. Recently, my local city wants to open a new shelter near my neighbourhood. However Once that hit the news, everyone went ape about not wanting it near them. That goes the same with safe injection sites. I understand both sides of the stories and I honestly don’t know who’s in the right because both arguments are valid.

“No In My BackYard” has become something I want to avoid personally. It’s a phrase that doesn’t progress an issue and usually throws an issue to someone else.

Local Resturants

After a week of eating at small dining establishments, I’ve learned a bit about my area.

In terms of variety and styles there is not much of I like or enjoy and when there is “variety” it’s only by presentation. It kind of bums me out that no matter where I go I find an Asian eatery or a cafe. The only thing that really changes is the scene that occupies inside the restaurant but not much else in terms of the taste.

Sadly wandering around the city I found the same monotonous cafe. As much as I like the hipster vibes, it lacks in a community feel.  I only say that because I want to drop my business card on bulletin boards. I still like a humbling place with the smell of roasted beans wafting, but it feels a bit empty without interesting or interactive wall decor.

I think for now, I can say my week long experiment to see this city in it’s culinary glory is successful but I wish I could’ve seen more. I might keep trying to visit more but for now, I’ll get close to what I know.

Followers

I was really compelled with one of the recent episodes of The X-Files; I’m still surprised this show is back on TV and feels like it was never gone.

After looking on Wikipedia to decode the episode title, “Followers”. The episode is a shocking hour of how technology and the drive for automation changes the social dynamic. The first and last scene does mirror they two view points people are growing in this day in age.

I grew up in the 90’s as a child and it was an interesting time compared to now. I too fight between balancing using my phone and enjoying what most people would consider as analog. I’ve noticed the splitting phenomenon in a lot of people. People who want to engage in a slab of silicon and glass rather than see the beauty of the surrounding reality. In the first world, we have so much to give but we give in all the wrong ways. We get bored and seek the shortest of thrills and the quickest of problems. We have in many ways devalued hindsight and creativity to forge a better future.

Surely we live in an age where we entrust strangers, but isn’t technology more capable to be as strange? We live in likely the last era before computer learning evolves into sentience. As the show asks, what are we really teaching if we all teach our computer about our society. Giving it borderless freedom equal to ours, what will this computer teach us? I know the answer but I’m afraid of how it would shape our future.

For me, I will do my best to minimize what I can do for a smart phone and rely on a vetted human being. I don’t preach on destroying technology but I do embrace the human interaction and community. However I do think people should be growing to interacting face-to-face than face-to-Facetime.

The world shrinks as computers grow in our world, but what else shrinks is our ability to see others as people as well.

Exploring Home: One Restaurant At A Time

For me, I love to find a spot and stick to it. I never explore too far from what I know and like. However in the shadow of my footsteps along the Niagara, I think I should try to be a local tourist.

At home in the downtown metropolis, there are a lot of interesting smells, fowl or food. In this case I’m talking about the latter. You can’t go a block without a coffee shop or restaurant. Even amidst this diversity of food, I’m always crawling into the same places for my cultural food. Yesterday I was hurting for some pasta and then it hit me, I know nothing about this city enough to find expand my palette. Which brings me to here in this blog post, I know nothing about the food scene in this city.

I know I don’t have the money to dish for a high end, fine dining restaurant. I’m more into the rustic and street fair, homely and tastes soulful. From what I’ve learned from writing reviews as a Google Guide, it’s something the atmosphere and the smells that really draws me in and the taste to really sell me. I’ve really reached the end of what I can review from my small circle, I still want to expand my horizons and try all the food in this city.

Trying to avoid restaurant chains and places I’ve previous reviewed, I’m going to be daring and try some new places. I don’t know where I’ll go and how good the food is, but I’m willing to try the usuals and even some odd food choices in this city.

I promise I won’t get food poisoning.

A Short Vacation

So last week I finally made my vacation plans. However with some set backs once I arrived.

I decided to go for a couple days to Niagara Falls. Nearing spring, I was hoping to catch the thaw and a bit of the freeze while devoting my time to photography. I didn’t sink myself into the attractions but I took the time to just explore a new town.

Upon arriving, it was different. Only once in my life have I been greeted to a small downtown neighbourhood by intercity travel. I like how calm and quiet their downtown is in contrast to time. No suits, no rush hour; felt like a small town.

When I finally found a place to stay, it was incredibly different from the dark street lights. The accommodations I stayed was located near the casinos and the flashy rides and oddities. Being there felt like being in the US with every American chain sitting on every corner.

The next day after unpacking and settling in, I was greeted by fog. Most people who see rain and fog would avoid it. But I was a bit inspired and in awe on how much this blanketed the neighbourhood. I couldn’t see the tops of these tall casinos nor the falls  when I began taking photos. Utmost eerie and surreal moment but I took advantage to look around. By midday, things cleared up a bit and decided to head up to the town proper. Checking out their Main Street and areas beyond what a tourist would venture. The farther I went out, it was a bit more humbling than the grandiose facade of the gambling cliff face. Things moved at a small town pace. It was kind of nice to watch people go about their day, living their lives. I did visit the local museum but forgot to make a stop at the war museum as well. However they did offer some exhibits that are educational. I later hiked the good 2 km  back to the bus station. There, I took a few more shots with my camera. Watching the clouds roll in and out as the sunset was almost romantic. The stores were closing up as I made a small stop at a coffee and just sat back to watch the news. Of course, my town makes it in the news. Kind of reminding me the stay here was temporary. After hiking 4 km back, I decided to shift into a bit of night photography. I did bring my tripod in case I wanted to make some long exposure compositions. As I scrambled for my gear, I realized I left my tripod mounting bracket in my other camera bag. So what was going to be a long night turned into a night to just grab some food and catch up what I’ve missed in the past day.

The last day was absolutely sublime. I made another trek out to the Falls. I left my room while it was still foggy out but as I neared the river, the fog had absolutely clear. Perfect time to catch as many landscape photos as I can. I even got into the mood into shelling out money to get into a few places to snap a few shots. I spent the entire afternoon and morning forgetting to eat while I took every opportunity to take a photo. By the time I sat down to eat, my back was in a lot of pain from lugging my camera back around. Perhaps I should’ve taken some advice and gotten a backpack for my camera.

After eating a feast, I finally felt it. Sitting at a bar in a odd little town right in the middle of the hotels and casinos, I miss home. Being there was great but something gnawed at me to return. I brought everything I can for the week knowing I would stay for half. Now I wanted to head home.

Sitting on the train ridding back in the dark of night. Watching each town back until I come to mine, it felt oddly strange coming home. Felt like I spent a month, it wasn’t much of a vacation. At least the excursion has taken my away from my life just for a little while.

Perhaps I should travel more. Perhaps someday.

Love Is Strange

On the week of Valentine’s Day, I started to play the new prequel to Life Is Strange. I was completely blown away at what they’ve done with the old characters while introducing new characters.

As someone who played the first game, there are a bunch of references. While I know what happens in the first game, I did my best to think about this as the “first” game in the series. I’m not completely done but it is so far really entertaining. There are a lot twists and lots of moments where it’s fun and sad. Life Is Strange played with my heart but Before The Storm really feels like a heartbreaking game.

Chloe and Max are probably the two characters in any video game yet that reflects how I perceive the concept of love. It’s a difficult subject to grasp and no one would every get it right, but we all understand it in out own way. What it means to us and what it matters to be with and without.

The game feels so much shorter than the first but I can’t wait to finish the 3rd episode and wait for the bonus episode.