Ironies Of The 21st

Lately, my city suffered service disruptions from the power company. Throughout the night, my lights were flickering like a rave. In my finite wisdom, I turned down the lights and continued to surf the net and charge my phone. After a good hour of playing video games, I went to scour the internet for services that would be useless without power or cellphone reception. Here’s a short list of things I found for my locale.

Bus Schedule

In a large city, you are bound to encounter public transit at least once. Most of the time, the system does keep all neat and efficient and have boards to tell you approximate bus times and the routes where the stop is located.

Assume you are ever connected to the internet and you look up everything on an app and public transit decides to knock off the paper schedules lined on each stop. If the wi-fi kicks out, you stuck with a pretty useless app to do anything at all, neat waste of space on your phone. If the power goes out, there is a likelihood (If you are on a data plan) the cell tower will be knocked out of power or service would be dodge since a small crisis.

Good luck standing out there in the winter wondering when the bus will arrive as you stare as you search for service.

“Keep updated at…”

A lot of businesses and services are using social media these days to link back to their website or link toward social media itself for additional information. Though I agree, businesses should be transparent and allow the clients and customers to view current shakeups and hiccups. However I found there are some are not really that important. On my Twitter account, I don’t usually follow services and business around my area. When I do, it’s usually on a appreciative level. If I go there often and I like what they do, they get a follow eventually.

I don’t need to be in the know of a new product or a pre-order I will likely never want to purchase. If it’s really good, I will follow until I have to throw you overboard because this ship only has so much cargo room before you are no longer needed.

Back to services like say your power, phone or ISP; this makes me giggle a little bit. If the power goes out, you can’t check for the latest information on the power company’s website on a desktop. If you’re experiencing a service disruption from your ISP, you’re boned because you don’t have access to the net to find out what’s going on; and don’t bother calling the phone company either if you own a cellphone.

By then you are literally stuck in the dark. That is enough information you will need for the time being.

All the money in the world

This goes closer to the new technology to remove plastic cards out of our lives by having phones you can tap to transfer funds.

You do realize how much power you have on a phone right? On idle, you get about 12-24. Once that screen is active you are looking at 2-6 hours. This is all assuming certain setting are in play and you do not own a battery pack to carry more power.

Indeed convenient to have a all you plastics and accounts on your phone in a “super high tech encryption that is 100% hacker proof”. But what if you suddenly need to go on a shopping spree? There are days where I personally made purchases about 12-15 hours apart. As a person who doesn’t obsess on charging my phone, I keep her on sleep until I need her. In reality, the only benefit you get our of a consolidated electronic payment method is really just convenience while sacrifice availability. Better to have it on you than there but your cellphone is dead.

One last thing…

In the end, the best conveyance of funds and communication is just what we already have and not the electrical gizmos they’re trying to sell. People say I’m a bit nuts to have cash on me. You never know when you enter a place that’s “cash only”. I lived in the digital age before the digital age; we used coins on payphones, paid by either credit, debit or cash and we still have them around because of it’s popularity and ease of use (Probably not as much as payphones).

Regardless how emerging technology makes everything convenient, there will be some that would complicate your life when you rely on them the most. Call me old school all you want; but I want to be flexible so when one thing fails, the other will have my back.

Before my laptop dies and until next time, paper and plastics will always be more reliable than photons and electrons.

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Can This Be A Thing?

I personally own a wireless mouse because the trackpad on my laptop feels uncomfortable (also the mouse was given to me awhile back and I finally have a use for it). Though it does provide more fluid movies on a 15 inch screen, there is a flaw I dislike about wireless products. This being the fact I need to recharge the batteries. I must admit, I use my mouse frequently so I usually recharge the batteries once a week. However as routine sets in, sometimes the mouse won’t last through the entire week and I would have to recharge them more frequently. I have considered a wired option for my laptop but wires would hinder the time I would need to set up my mouse and usually the cable is long and can get tangled. From my point of view having two variants of the same product is kind of out of the way for mobile technology, so why not have both?

I would like to see a wireless mouse designed to be more flexible whether it would be for desktop or laptop. Built primarily as a wireless mouse, it will be small with the ability to use a USB interface just like a traditional wired mouse. I don’t have anything designed; but it would be an interesting concept to pursue. For starters the device would need a transmitter and receiver like a normal wireless device. Second would be it’s ability to be wired as well. I think the USB cable should be able to plug into the mouse and the desktop without a need for a second port. Perhaps the dongle receiver would have a USB port onto itself to relay power and data to the mouse. Now comes the tricky part, I’ve read about USB hardware and someplace has said some devices now won’t allow certain devices to charge through a USB power. I am quite unsure if this is on the computer end or the peripheral end but it would be an extraordinary feature if the mouse can act as a universal charge for the batteries it’s using. So it can draw power from a power source without the need of replacing the batteries and the charging process won’t damage the batteries. With these 3 features, I think the wireless mouse would be great improved in terms of it’s versatility and minimize the need of buying additional peripherals for a computer platform. It doesn’t even have to end at mice, a keyboard which can be wireless and wired with the capability of recharging it’s own batteries would be an interesting step in allowing these peripherals to interface more easily on laptops and desktops.

Has anyone really thought about this besides me? If it was cheap, I wouldn’t mind have a wireless mouse like that. Any hardware designers out there, I offer you that challenge if there is no product out there like it build a wireless mouse which can:

  1. Be wired and wireless.
  2. Able to switch between devices through it’s own means. As in if I have my receiver on my laptop and I have the USB cable plugged into my desktop, I have the function to switch between wired and wireless modes without a need of a KVM switch.
  3. Able to recharge its own batteries. You cannot design the battery and the batteries are from large battery manufacturers which can be easily replaced. As in if I have Energizer brand rechargeable batteries, I should be able to use and recharge them through the mouse. If I chose to use Duracell brand of rechargeable batteries, then I would able to change them out and the Duracell batteries should be able to recharge.
  4. Optionally be able able to hold it charge for a longer period of time. A month at the most before charge. Though I would like to see a mouse that can be as power efficient as possible.

Until next time I leave this to you, geniuses of the world. It’s up to you to make what we have now and make them better.

Week 3: Mo’ Gear, Mo’ Problems

Week number three, still no internet at home. I’ve played about 20 hours of Minecraft in week 2, planning to cut back in week 3. This week, I wrote this blog post day by day so some of the grammar may be off since I was writing in the moment.

Sunday, early in the morning I couldn’t put myself asleep. So I went to Sobeys near my house which is open 24/7. Bought myself some junk food and a tub of peanuts, BBQ flavoured to be exact. I felt pretty terrible for a guy who popped in at four in the morning. Tired but unable to sleep, I shambled my way home. As I walked, I looked off to side of street; trashmen tossing and dumping bags into the trucks, a dull silver shimer off the streetlight shine. Flat under a mound ofplastics and yesterday’s machinery, laid a laptop. Unfolding it, I found it to be in mint condition. To my excitement, I snatched it from the trash and held carried it, backpack full of food and junk in both hands. Quickly, I rushed to plug it in as though I found someone clinging to life just breaths away from death. As I turned it on, the silent rev of the optical disk chimed to me a sign. Then another, the BIOS lit up. Then nothingness, in the eerie black glow of the screen; nothing. The muffled hum of the fan embedded inside the chassis. As from the darkness, a spark appeared; not from twithin the room, but from the recesses of my mind. The hard drive is wiped, install an operating system to fix. I scrounge my box of CD’s for Windows and Ubuntu on USB. Popped in the Windows and circumnavigated the device for the USB port, I switched boot priority to boot up the drive first before the USB and before the hard drive. Time to finish and repartition windows, under one hour. Ubuntu, to be continued.

The goal and intent for my new device will be focused on experimenting with Linux more closely. I’ve used Windows all my life and I really want to see how Linux fares with my digital lifestyle sans video games. I kind of want it to be a hub for most of my online stuff like blogging and chatting. Also I always though purple is a neat colour for a background. Of course Windows will be there with my full array of utilities to keep it clean and running (once I get my stuff installed).

I must admit aside from the aesthetic damage and missing F8 key, it works fine (F8 even works too!) I know, who throws away a perfectly working laptop? All I know is, I own a laptop now so I’m pretty happy despite not having Internet at home.

In the late Sunday sun, I tried to remain as productive with the laptop. Still without Ubuntu, it’s safe my copy on the USB is a dud. I focused on finding the software I need plus some replacement parts. The battery is dead so it won’t keep a charge. The charger is taped up somewhat with electrical tape and seems to have been bitten by a small animal. I forgot during Sunday, the part shops are closed until Monday or at least closes early at 5 or 6. I spent my time then just looking around for adapters and getting to a wi-fi access point. I did reach a Starbucks and spent a good three hours bring my computer up to speed Window-side. Updates, utilities and an antivirus suite (which I have to register and update). I still have to load onto it an office suite. My default choice is OpenOffice, if anyone knows some others leave a comment! Then I have put in some file compression software, either it will be WinRAR or 7Zip. Optionally, Live Writer for WordPress but I kind of want something else. Let me know if there are other free alternative out there, thanks!

Ubuntu’s a different territory. I don’t know what’s good and what’s not. But as an overview, it seems Ubuntu comes with everything I need besides a firewall and antivirus. I’ll trust my gut somewhere, there are apps I can read reviews and such. Maybe run some blogging gear on there too to try her out. Maybe some games too, but I think it’s more of a workstation than my desktop. My desktop is a graphics gorilla, tablet’s my table tabby cat, so my laptop is my Linux lynx? For those who might want to know, Linux installation is a two to four step process. I did it once and fudged my pen drive version so take it from a newbie, take it slow and follow the instructions to the letter. This time, I downloaded the USB installer they recommended on the site and the image file will be the first job Monday.

I think the second computer will help me understand the networking bits of Windows. Especially how to transfer system to system through a local network as well as setting up a hub to allow a home sharing network. Though it might not help much, I would want to apply what I know from home networking to connect a few computers together to make a neat module workstation or entertainment system. Imagine the knowledge I gain to hook up a TV to a computer relaying the games from another computer. That would be kind of sweet especially turning a PC into a console or a PVR-like device.

Monday, I finally had Ubuntu on here but had some difficulties. At first it was nothing but as I added updates to her, she seemed a bit more sluggish. The ordeal resulted into backstepping my decision over Ubuntu, so now sticking with Ubuntu on a Live USB in case I ever want to enjoy the purple loading screen and maybe try my hand at Ubuntu. For now as more experience into Linux, I must say I’m starting to understand where certain things are in the system. The one thing I can only complain about is the hard drive partitioning when it tells you to move a slider to increase the space where you want to install. There is no definition of which side is for Windows and which is for Ubuntu. Looks like I have a quarter terabyte to Windows 7.

Guess now is to add the goodies like Live Writer and some cleaning solution to the screen and covers. After looking at my power adapter, it’s safe to say I might need another one in case ghis thing starts to be more of a fire and health hazard. Though the battery is dead, I can deem it secondary since I won’t be getting a lot of power for mobility. Who knows, maybe I salvage those two from two dead laptops someday?

I know decals might be a bit cliche and might be expensive for a 4 year old banged up and salvaged laptop but I think they might look cool. Maybe get a large WordPress logo or some dorky phrase. I like things that could represent me or my lifestyle.

March is going to be a project heavy month even if it’s halfway done. After the laptop situation is done, I have to drag my butt to the library to get a lot of writing done. I’m considering on submitting to this writting contest. From what I remember, first prize is $2000 and second place is a laptop (I know I salvaged one, but I could give it away or sell it; I need the money anyways or at least a better laptop). It a small amount of money but for the time and effort, it does seem reasonable. I’ve written short stories and bits of lyrics, as long there is no limit and no topic; there is no stopping the imagination. Writing project, commence!

Tuesday rolled by fairly quick. I spent the majority holed up in a cafe for 6 hours with hardly much to show for it. I had to make a lot more updates and upgrade to Service Pack 1. That took some doing since I had connection problems with the shop’s wi-fi. Spent a good hour and a half restarting my computer because of how the updates work. Spending no time on story writing, after and between shenanigans I tried to write a story. Turned out when finished it was about 350 words. Tried another, still was hovering around 350. I think spending so much time trying to summarize work and writing my blog has put me into a subconscious mentality. Wednesday if I can, we’re breaking the that mold; 400 words! We must and shall break barriers and do crazy things like how I play Grand Theft Auto; jump off bridges, push pedestrians in front of trains, sex with prostitutes then “getting a refund”! Okay, not doing that in real life; but you know what I mean, crazy off the wall stuff. Before I sat down at the coffee shop, I got around to looking for power adapters. Seems like I can only buy generic for a low price of 30-40 dollars for an adapter that may or may not fit in terms of the input and output power. Which sucks considering all the laptops that are potentionally thrown out, then the probability of those laptops which has an original mint condition power adapter for this Toshiba. Then again, it would be a small business if you have a supply of trashed laptops and computer parts. Clean then up and put at the working parts together, boom! Bob’s your uncle a new (ish) computer. Huh, maybe find some small computer store and offer a business proposition and get a small cut.

Wednesday rolled by being less productive than Tuesday. I had to trek downtown to grab a bus ticket to the States, meeting up with someone special in May. Apparently Greyhound does not offer early bird discounts anymore, but a lot of online discounts though. Without a secure internet connection and a credit card, I’m stuck with the option of a one way trip costing up to 100 bucks with a couple stops in New York. With such a lost, I spent the day at a local Starbucks with a hot chocolate and a tea that I got from 7-11. Surfed the internet and began writing story #3, hopefully this writing contest accepts multiple submissions. I could write a poem but it would seem kind of cheesy or short for a writing piece. At least I’m diversifying my writing portfolio. On the laptop side of things, I’m thinking of hiding the scratches on my laptop cover. Probably with some stickers or something, I kind of want to freely personalize it so people know who’s behind the that laptop. You guy know who might have free stickers or decals? Maybe customizable sticks and decals? Comment below and let me know, I live in the Toronto area so send me addresses too; thanks in advance.

Interesting news, I might get a home connection after almost a month. My family called up a small ISP and they’re having a cable on Friday; same day this post is published. I hope it goes smoothly since I need the Internet back. I miss Star Trek Online, I miss the experience of Steam, I miss porn (okay; not really). This pass few weeks I learned a lot of things about stuff and myself, stuff school would not necessarily teach. Like for one thing, intercity bus tickets are wicked expensive especially going over the border. What about stupid people toss out computer stuff since they can’t fix it? And the most important lesson of all; in a digital culture, Wi-fi is easy to come by whether it’s a McDonald’s, Starbucks or your local library! But for now on a Thursday, I got to get back to my 400 word story goal and maybe start a few poems.

The library I’m at is kind enough to let me use the study room a bit close to closing so the Micky’s about a 10 minute walk away should help me finish this story. The more I spend inside the green study room, the more I think about my past and how much I messed it up. I know I can’t go back and change it but I sometimes get this weird feeling gnawing at me that this isn’t right. Anyways, moving to the Micky’s with 100 words remaining.

Aha! Achievement Unlocked: Pathetic Accomplishment! I got myself a hefty meal and sat myself down and started to hammer away at the keys. After a solid 30 minutes, I got in only 30 words. To be fair, I deleted a couple paragraphs because it didn’t go anywhere. After an hour since I arrived, I was 10 short. Ten words! So I decided to push in some words here and there. There we go, 417 words. Now time to sit and celebrate with some fries and a burger, maybe think of some themes for poems.

Almost midnight, still nothing on poems so I decided to write up a travel brief for my family and let them know my itinerary for this trip in May and information in case they ask. My family is weird since I seem to be the only person that’s treated like a child. Like I need my butt wiped after every bowel movement. So best to avoid my family on this subject and subjects pertaining to this trip. I’m going because I’m going and that’s enough information. Also just got the word, congrats Pope Francis. I’m not religious or Catholic, but good job.

So here’s what happened since 12 am. I got home and just played Minecraft for 6 hours. No serious projects in there, just goofing around and accumulating vast amounts of materials. Also I started to brew some potions since my new save file has a building already up. It’s big; its got a big bedroom, a kitchen, storage room, a patio (still in construction) and an enchanting library (under construction). So I built this safe room down inside a local abandoned mineshaft, which happens to be in walking distance to a zombie spawner. I’m thinking of turning a zombie villager so I can have access to emeralds or at least a guy who can sell me stuff. I’ll probably fence him off in my safe room so I have that entire area pretty much set to service the Nether room and my “big bang” project. Oh right, the Nether room! So in the labyrinth of tunnels from those who were here before, I found a neat spot to set up another safe room and a Nether portal. It’s kind of Stargate-y but it works. I have the safe rooms set up to hold supplies and grow food and the portal is located far away from everything I’ve built. However not too far away that I would spent too much time walking. Also I just phased out coal as a fuel considering lava is damn plentiful in the Nether. Pick it up with a bucket and cook or smelt 64 of anything easy. Lots of things to do in Minecraft, so much so that I’m considering on abandoning my old world. Though it has an epic library, a tavern and the highest thing I have built; I think I feel comfortable being out in this tundra biome surrounded by plains and frozen rivers. Though resources are drying up slowly, I’ve found a lot of caves and caverns full of minerals, all I need to do is make a bunch of torch and light them up. I found some lava pools when I started playing, maybe it’s time to empty them by cooking a lot of food and smelting cobblestone to make some stone blocks. Maybe start a new town here.

Well, cable guy showed up. Did his thing while I got myself out of bed. I was brushing my teeth when I realized something sucky about the situation. There is one ethernet cable connection from the modem that is not wireless capable and I have 2 wireless devices. I guess my Playbook’s got the short stick for being totally wireless. I can always bend over and pull the cord from one to another. Lot of work but at least my crap-ular laptop can get some digital loving. I’m not much of a techie, but the word network comes into mind. Maybe scavenge for a network router like how I stumbled on a good laptop.

That’s all for this week. Next week, I get internet back? (Well, I just spoiled it) Feel free to comment and help me out with suggestions on stickers, decals, networking and stuff. See you all next week!

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