Food jail, backups, the death of facebook, etc.

I miss being able to write here on a daily basis on everyday topics that have nothing to do with my writing, in a style not like my writing. It’s caused a problem in that people read stuff here and assume my books are like this writing, and either say I should write more like this in my books (no) or make this blog all absurd stuff like my books (no). I do like when I look back at a random entry from 1997 and see what existential crisis I was having over buying CDs or something.

I’ve been in food jail for the last few weeks. I should be at about 170-175, but I’ve been just north of 200 for most of the year, and need to get past that. So I’m on plan, and I’m hesitant to say which plan, because everyone is a fucking expert, and I don’t need yet another goddamn person telling me I need to intermittently fast. I know what I need to do and what I need to eat, but it’s a slow process. If I could lose a pound a week, there are only 20 weeks left in the year, so that’s almost my goal. But it’s been slow. When I did this ten years ago, I would eat about 1500 calories a day, keep at a good ratio of protein/fat/carbs, and eat clean(ish) and I’d always lose 1-2 pounds a week, without fail. Now, not so much. There’s certainly something metabolic there — higher cortisol from stress, lower testosterone from being ten years older. And when I get too much into reading this junk, diving into various pseudo-science blogs about insulin response and carbohydrate conversion and whatever else, my ultimate response is to say fuck it and start eating again. So I’m going to have to stick with what I’m doing, keep exercising, and slowly carve away at it.

Went to the GP last week, partly because it’s just time for my annual, partly because everyone is dead and dying and there’s some paranoia there. Everything’s fine. All the blood numbers are fine. Blood pressure is borderline, but between the day job and all the caffeine, that’s understandable. I need to lose weight, although this doctor doesn’t hassle me about it that much. I have mixed feelings about fat acceptance – if you’re into it, whatever, but I know I felt better and my numbers were better when I weighed less, so it definitely has health consequences for me, and it’s something I need to work on. Anyway, why am I telling the world all of this?

Spent yesterday burning too many cycles dealing with my backup solution. I have used CrashPlan for years, and they decided to get out of the home game, and told everyone to switch to their pro/small business plan, or go screw. I stuck with it, and then found out my machine hasn’t been backing itself up for weeks. I futzed with their program for a minute, and it said it had to re-upload everything, which would take a week or two. Or maybe it didn’t – their new UI is very opaque and tells you nothing. I spent all day poking around with alternatives. They gave me a “deal” to switch to Carbonite, but the “deal” was roughly twice as expensive. I looked at rolling my own solution, using a tool like Duplicacy to back up my stuff to an Amazon S3 bucket, and then using Wasabi, which is a cheap-o S3 substitute. I couldn’t really get that to work, so I gave up and switched to BackBlaze. I like the UI and the performance of BackBlaze, and the price is right. I am not entirely into the recovery method – instead of just being able to browse the archives remotely, you either request a monster ZIP of your entire archive, or pay to have them ship you a drive. I suppose that is okay for a full-machine failure, but doesn’t address when I need to go back and grab a single file from backup. I do also back up locally, on an external drive and to a NAS, so that’s okay for now I guess.

Facebook keeps removing features. I keep wanting to write some big “the death of Facebook” article but I have no inertia there. The first thing that went – they had this thing, and I can’t remember the name, but it showed you a feed of posts that might interest you, things from feeds friends followed or whatever, just a firehose of things that weren’t in your friends feed. I really liked this idea, because it might show you things out of your orbit that you could then follow. (Instagram does something similar.) So that vanished. Then the news items, which is probably good, because that just raised my blood pressure, but I don’t read news anymore, so that was my only exposure to current events. The “friends activity ticker” also got pulled, which ceased to be useful after I had more than like fifty friends, but still. And now, the concept of friend feeds is gone. I don’t even know that most people knew about this, but you could make lists of friends, like “school friends” and “work friends” and “annoying friends who post too many pictures of their kids” or whatever, and then you could unfollow those people, but go to that feed to see those posts. I found that helpful because when my main feed would get fucked and have a ten-hour gap in posts, I could go to a close friends feed and still read their posts. I think with the combination of news feed fuckery and people just losing interest, FB is going to become MySpace soon. Which is bad, because it’s the only way I sell books (not that I’ve been selling any books lately) and it’s the only way I keep in touch with people, since nobody reads this anymore. And no “what’s next after Facebook” replacement has gained any traction. So, who knows. There was a weird dark ages after college for me, because everyone in college emailed and chatted and was on the computer constantly, and then from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, people just dropped off the map completely. I sort of see that happening again. Maybe I need a new hobby.

I have a book 99% done that I can’t seem to get out the door. It is completely written, has been through like three or four editing passes, and I’m at the point where I can’t even look at it anymore, let alone write a snappy description and tell the world it is the greatest thing ever. I have someone working on a cover for it right now. Maybe that will make me get off my ass and finish it.

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Milwaukee

I had to make an emergency trip to Milwaukee last month – haven’t had time or energy to write about it yet, but I probably should put something here. My wife’s stepmother passed away suddenly, and there was much chaos behind the whole thing. I don’t want to go into too many details here, except to say like 19 things were wrong with this story. And if you smoke, quit.

I’m not sure how I managed to get out of work for an entire week, but I did. (Well, almost — I still got pulled into two or three different problems via email while I was gone.) Sarah left the week before me, and tried to handle the pure chaos of the situation: no will, nothing planned, separate finances, lots of people in limbo, coming in to town and trying to help but it was like throwing ten decks of cards in the air and trying to sort them before they hit the ground. The funeral was gigantic, something like a thousand people, even the mayor of Milwaukee, and the will and the probate and the finances will probably drag on for months. So, don’t smoke, and get a will and write all that stuff down.

It’s unusual that I visit the midwest during the summer. The annual trip usually happens over the holidays, when everything is frozen. I haven’t been to Milwaukee in the summer since I think 2007, when we did a big IL/IN/WI trip. And I was there in the spring of 2008, for our wedding reception. I wrote about this phenomenon when I went to Indiana in 2015, and it still holds true – that change in temperature and sunlight and the ability to be outside for more than ten minutes without losing fingers and toes really changes things, sets off a completely different nostalgia profile.

My only real summertime nostalgia for Wisconsin is from 1993, when me and Ray and John Woods drove out for the Milwaukee Metalfest. That’s a whole other story, which we covered in the episode of the podcast with Ray. The bit that reverberated with me, at least on this trip, wasn’t Ice T or Cannibal Corpse, but was a brief moment in the morning. We drove to Milwaukee the night before, and slept in Ray’s car, on North 24th Street, next to the Eagles Lodge. Or tried to sleep, anyway — I think I got about 90 minutes of fitful rest in the back seat of Ray’s Oldsmobile, crunched between boxes of shirts and tapes and zines and whatever else.

At five or six in the morning, unable to sleep anymore, I got out of the car, left behind an unconscious Ray, and went for a walk in the neighborhood, looking for caffeine. It was oddly quiet, almost vacant, the calm before the storm. And the midwest in summer always has this atmosphere property early in the morning, when the sun hasn’t heated everything up, and the humidity is still dew and not a swamp of unbearable mugginess. There was such a peacefulness and stillness to the air, and I enjoyed that feeling of tranquility in my half-awake state.

For this trip, we stayed in a hotel, one of the only places we could find because of Irish Fest. It was out in this tech center area of Wauwatosa, which I guess used to be filled with old hospitals and asylums which went vacant after new hospitals were built, and during the Y2K-era tech boom, the area was sort of reinvented as a tech hub, with lots of low-slung office parks that looked like the generic office buildings in places like Denver’s tech center, or the east side of Lake Washington in Seattle. The hotel was pretty meh, but I got a place that had a gym, which I usually do. But I usually do that because it’s like zero outside, and I have to treadmill it; this time it was actually nice outside (in the morning at least) and I was able to walk around in the morning. And I got that same feeling of the air, that I had back in 1993. The walks each morning, although they were through an area that looked like a copy of Palo Alto research parks, still was tranquil and enjoyable, a nice break from everything else.

The week of the funeral was chaos. The service and the reception went well, or as well as these things can go. And aside from losing an exceptional person, and having to deal with all the bullshit of the death (or in my case, feeling like I really could not help enough), there was the usual sinking feeling of a major existential crisis, the “what the hell am I doing with my life” trip. And the “what the hell is going to happen to my life.” I have so many family members who have cancer, heart problems, everything else, and I look at that, and start mentally calculating my own glide slope, then start wondering what I’m going to get done, and of course, I don’t even know what I want to do. So that’s a lot to process, and part of me would rather not.

Usual travel junk. They lost my luggage on the way out, and I almost got stuck in Las Vegas. Had to sprint full speed from one terminal to another to make my flight. The way back was uneventful. I spent an hour in Los Angeles, and my old familiar Terminal 1 has been completely re-skinned and redone, so even though I was less than a mile from my old apartment, it wasn’t the same. Spent a lot of time at malls. Did an amazing amount of walking. Ate way too much. Every time I turned around, someone else was bringing over a fresh pie. It was wonderful, and I hope it never happens again, for several reasons.

Anyway, usual thing about how I need to write more here. Trying to get another book out, trying to get healthy and lose weight, trying to not think about this whole life thing too much.

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The Death of IFTTT

I recently wrote in The Death of NetworkedBlogs about how I needed to switch to a new service to post links of new posts on this site over to Facebook. In that post, I mention that I switched to using IFTTT to accomplish the same thing.

So, of course, two months later, and IFTTT has announced they will no longer allow their applets to post to Facebook. Or maybe Facebook won’t allow them. Adding a bit more wall to the walled garden. That’s a whole other conversation, but long story short, I don’t have a way to post new posts from here directly to Facebook.

I could manually paste the URL into a Facebook post, but then it would get zucc’ed down and nobody would see it. Well, nobody sees these anyway. Whatever.

If anyone has any wise ideas on how to do this, let me know. I should probably not worry about this until I start posting more than once a month, though.

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New podcast: Do Better Ep #14

Remember back when I did a podcast? That was fun. Anyway, I’m on another podcast this week, done with Joshua Citrak. It’s called Do Better, and I am on episode 14, which is here:

http://dobetter.libsyn.com/ep014-jon-konrath-authorpublisher-0

We talked for about 90 minutes about censorship, word police, getting doxxed, the stasi, the futility of publishing, AI taking over the world, living in a surveillance state, suicide, mental health, and drugs. Cheery stuff. We also talk about my newest book. Check it out, and check out the rest of the episodes, because there’s some great conversations with other writers and artists.

Also, I haven’t said that the Koncast is done and shuttered. I also haven’t said I have done any new episodes. We’ll see.

 

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People think that pipes grow in their homes. But they sure as hell don’t! Look at my knees! Look at my knees!

If you haven’t bought the new David Lynch book Room to Dream, get off your ass, man. It’s good stuff. The way it works is that one chapter is straight biography by journalist Kristine McKenna, and then the next chapter is autobiography by Lynch, recalling various memories about the period covered in the previous chapter. So you have a good authoritative biography, but you also get the conversational style of DL going off on crazy tangents. 500-some pages, lots of photos, lots of text. I’m not done yet, but it has been great so far.

(I’m going to ignore all the political back-and-forth that came out of an interview he did recently. If you’re into that sort of thing, look it up. I’m not.)

The book makes me think about what films of his I’ve seen in theaters, where I was when they came out, when I discovered them on tape, etc. I’m too young to have seen Eraserhead in the theater, at least in the first run. I was looking back through old journals recently and found the one I wrote when I first saw it on tape – I got so excited about it, I wanted to go buy a film camera and make my own movie. I also remember when Lost Highway came out on video tape, I rented it and watched it over and over. I didn’t get it during most of the first viewing, and then at the very end, it clicked and was a “holy shit!” moment, and I immediately had to rewind and watch it over, and that went on all weekend. Never saw Mulholland Dr. in the theater – it came out right after 9/11, a confusing time when I don’t know what I did. Anyway.

Weird trivia – I am exactly 25 years younger than Lynch, to the day.

I should probably try to re-watch Dune this weekend, while I’m delirious from the heat.

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Solo

I’m in bachelor mode for the week because Sarah is out of town, so I decided to see Solo last night, the latest Star Wars movie. I’ve largely dropped the thread on Star Wars movies as of late. The first trilogy, of course, was a big part of my childhood. The prequels in 00 were largely garbage, and pretty much threw me. I went back and watched The Force Awakens, and it was very exciting to see a Star Wars movie on the big screen and gave a certain nostalgic jolt for me. But ultimately, I did not like it; it was a bunch of stunt casting into what was essentially a remake of the first trilogy for millennials. I didn’t see the one after that, do not care. It was the first Star Wars movie I did not see in the theaters, and I felt bad about that, but whatever.

I like the idea of the anthology films, though; films in the sandbox of the others, but different plot lines, different characters, different directors and styles. I really liked Rogue One, maybe as much as the original trilogy. It had a roughness to it, and was not as associated to the big merchandising arm of the main canon, not as wired into the usual summer blockbuster bullshit tactics. It was like when George Harrison did a solo album that had none of the baggage or bubblegum of a proper Beatles album, none of Paul McCartney’s bullshit involved. It was also more of an “adult” movie and (my own theory) had to do more with modern conflict, ala Syria, than the usual good guys wearing white against bad guys wearing black. (I guess stormtroopers wear white, whatever.)

I really do not like comic book movies, do not like Marvel movies at. all. Every Marvel movie is the same, and has the same mechanics: “we’re rebooting something we just did, and we’re going to spend half of the movie setting up the character origin, just to make the fanboys happy and/or piss off the purists to generate more buzz.” It’s like a magician who spends all their time showing you how they are going to do the trick, as if that makes them cool. It bores me. I don’t really care about comics that much, but I really don’t care about the annual Spider-Man reboot, and how they slightly change the origin story this time, or how it’s tangentially related to all the other Marvel movies written with the same exact template. So I was a little worried about that type of movie when I heard about a Han Solo origin movie.

This movie was directed by Ron Howard, but it wasn’t really “his” movie – he’s just a hired gun that was pulled in when the original co-directors shit the bed. It doesn’t feel like a Ron Howard movie, aside from stunt casting his crazy brother in one small scene. The movie goes into the origin of Han and Chewbacca and Lando and the Millennium Falcon, but there’s absolutely nothing about the Skywalkers or the force or any of that, and I wasn’t that off-put by the mechanics of that. Woody Harrelson plays Han’s smuggler mentor, but doesn’t fuck things up. The kid who played the cowboy actor in Hail Cesar plays Han, and does a decent enough job. The story is pretty straightforward, just a standard three-act adventure burn-through, pretty textbook but enjoyable.

What I liked about the movie was that it’s not overly sentimental, or cartoony, like if Lucas had been involved. It doesn’t have the wooden acting, the incredibly obvious good versus bad, and has a slight bit of the more “adult” feel that Rogue One had. It also isn’t too JJ Abrams-y, with tons of CGI and smash cut editing. I think Lucas had minimal involvement and Abrams had none, which was a big plus for me. I really like the idea of different directors doing completely different things with these films. Like I’d love to see Tarantino or someone do a spaghetti western or mobster-like Boba Fett movie.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the movie. I think the main issue is that the movie just sort of is. No high concept, no camp, no big drama, no big theatrics. It just is. It doesn’t perform well as a standalone blockbuster, and doesn’t have the power of any of the main films. And that would be fine if it was a low-budget thing, or a Showtime original. But it’s the sixth most expensive movie ever made, costing something like $275 million, and there’s no way it’s going to pull a half-billion dollars to break even. So it will have a bad legacy because of that. I’d expect it to drop out of theaters this week or next, and then there will be a hard push for VOD and home release, so maybe the completists will buy all the various box sets and they will break even. At any rate, it was a meh for me. Glad I saw it, glad I didn’t go out of my way to see it.

 

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Bourdain

Usually, these things don’t get to me. But for some reason, this one has.

So Anthony Bourdain is dead. Suicide, hotel room, 61. I feel some need to extrapolate on this, front-loading this with a lede of what he accomplished or why this is so tragic, etc etc. I have no energy for that. You can go to Facebook and see that 50,000 times.

I’m trying to figure out why this bothers me so much, and I think it’s because of when I became connected with his work. I remember exactly when and where I first picked up a copy of Kitchen Confidential. There was a book store called Coliseum Books in Columbus Circle, and I’d go there every Friday after I went to my shrink. (She’s also dead, I found out recently – lymphoma, I think.) I think I read the New Yorker article, so I picked up his book. This was back when I spent hours and hours on the subway, and was single, lived alone, had no cable TV, so I would plow through books, reading a book a day most of the time. But while I read a lot of forgettable work back then, his stuff had a real resonation for me.

My kitchen career was low-level and short-lived. A summer on the Taco Bell drive-through; a couple of months washing dishes at an old-school Italian restaurant; part of a semester doing the same at a dorm, with the very brief and slight promotion of being the dude who stocked the milk and juice bar in the front-of-house. But when Bourdain described the camaraderie, the in-the-trenches slog of working the back half of a restaurant, I immediately related. I’d never aspired to cook or even stay in the business long enough to do anything other than collect a small paycheck, but I’d spent enough Friday nights at war with the dinner rush, completely slammed with a wall of dirty pans and plates, and no way out. I got it, and it pulled me in.

Bourdain had a persona, and I think it grew much more when he became a TV personality, picking fights with other chefs, with vegetarians, with food chains. His work as that persona was good, but it’s easy to forget he was a hell of a writer, and that’s what drilled into my brain. It wasn’t that he was a good brand; he was a guy I knew, someone telling stories and shooting the shit and talking war, a war I briefly fought. There’s something about any writing about a very involved job like that – it’s the reason I probably go back and re-read Bukowski’s Post Office every other year. Bourdain had chops, but he also had the ability to figure out what to write from such a career, and to do it in a different template than all the other stodgy food books up to that point.

I think he’s also a very intertwined part of the early 00s and New York for me. I was not a foodie, and spent far more time at McDonald’s than at any French restaurant. But if I had to make a list of the things that made up the background of my time in New York from 1999 to 2007, he’d be on that short list. I used to walk home down the back alleys of south Manhattan to avoid the tourists and bustle of Broadway, the Broome to Jersey to Mulberry to Prince to Bowery route, the interior of the blocks that were grand and exquisite on the exterior, but I’d be seeing the service entrances and freight elevators. And that’s where I’d see the chefs, always smoking, always preparing for a battle that was about to start when I was heading home from the cubicles. And that always made me think of Bourdain and other chefs, and the underbelly of the city, and those folks who took the long train from Jackson Heights or Hoboken to cut up fish or wash dishes for minimum wage in a city where bankers earned millions of bonuses in the W years.

It’s weird because I feel like I knew Bourdain, although I didn’t. When I stop and think about it, I think, wait, did I know him? Like did I meet him at a signing, or have a friend of a friend that worked with him, or run into him at some point? I didn’t, but it feels like it, because his writing got so in my head. I don’t have a connection to the TV host who jetted to France to eat oysters with someone famous in the food world. I mean, good for him that he got the money and the opportunity, and it’s fun to binge-watch on Netflix, but that’s not what did it for me. He somehow burned into the background of my brain, and that’s why his death bothers me.

There’s also the usual thing I do, where I look at him at 61, and me at 47, and I’ve wasted a lot of time on 401K calculator sites that all tell me I have to keep this optempo going for another twenty years, and I feel like I want to retire in 20 weeks, and who knows when I’ll even get started with this writing thing in earnest. He broke big because he wrote what he knew and he wrote as a person, and I’m so burned out and sick of writing what I write. So I keep thinking, well maybe next week I’ll reinvent myself, and do everything different. But the clock is ticking, and when someone goes, it puts that in perspective.

I’m not going to go into the why of how he did it, or if this is some epidemic, or if prescription drugs played a part, or what 800 number you should call, or any of that shit. You’ve probably seen it a million times already this morning. Just like how I couldn’t think of a snappy paragraph to open this, I don’t have one to close it. Just wanted to get down my thoughts now, because it seems like I never get to do that anymore.

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Oculus Go

I tried out the Oculus Rift last January (see Oculus Rift Impressions) and I was impressed, but not convinced enough to drop the cash on building a two-grand PC to run one. Now, the Oculus Go is out, and I picked up one last Sunday. Now I’m convinced.

The Oculus Go is a free-standing VR headset. It looks similar to the Rift, except it doesn’t hook up to an expensive computer. It is self-contained, with the Qualcomm CPU from a cell phone contained inside the headset. It’s like a cross between those headsets that require you to put a phone in front of your eyes and a Rift. For $200, you get the headset and a single handheld controller, and are ready to go.

I’ve been wanting to write a long article on this, but every time I start, I go back to playing with the Go. So here’s a quick bullet list of impressions.

  • The Go is roughly the same size and weight as a Rift. The fit and finish are not bad; maybe the straps are a bit more cheap-feeling. But it fits well, and once I put in a spacer piece, it worked great with glasses.
  • You can’t change the PD (width between lenses) or focus at all, but they are fine for me. I’ve noticed the focus is really, really finicky depending on the fit and angle. Sometimes it is 100% blurry, and I adjust my glasses or the angle by like less than a percent and it’s completely in focus.
  • The sound is amazing. There are small speakers built into the strap mounts that aim right into your ears, so you can hear perfectly. (There is also a standard headphone jack if you need to be silent to everyone around you.) The spatial sound is also amazing. If you are listening to someone speak in front of you and you turn your head to the right, you will hear them mostly in your left ear.
  • I thought the lenses and graphics would be a big step down from the Rift, but they are very close. I’m not saying it is exact, but it would take a serious A/B test to demonstrate that they are very different.
  • The basic interface — the home room, the control menu, the store — are all fairly identical. I think that’s a big selling point, that someone can start on a Go and then easily transition to a Rift or whatever future model.
  • The Go has 3DOF (degrees of freedom) while the Rift has 6DOF. That means on a Go, the three axes of your head movement are tracked; on a Rift, it additionally tracks your position. Big difference for activity games; not a big deal if you’re sitting around watching 3-D videos.
  • There is a single controller with a touchpad where your thumb is, a trigger at your index finger, and two buttons (back and home) below the touchpad. It will sense the position of that controller inside the Go. It usually looks like a laser pointer, which you use to point at various items in the interface. The Rift has two controllers, one on each hand, which is really amazing, but the Go’s controller is pretty handy, too.
  • I’d say the generated graphics quality is maybe on par with a PS3. I haven’t done the math; that’s just my impression. With pre-rendered items, like 360 videos on YouTube or Facebook, it is phenomenally good, incredibly realistic, and when you turn your head and look at another view, it is instantaneous.
  • Generated graphics vary, though. It just doesn’t have the horsepower a PC with a GTX-1080ti does. The best comparison here: an iPad retina has a screen that is as good or better than a high-end gaming rig. Pixel-for-pixel, it’s going to look better, and watching a movie on either one, the iPad screen will probably win. But the iPad doesn’t have the GPU power to run a AAA game at max settings. It’s for casual gaming, and isn’t going to run Overwatch. But you aren’t going to bring your water-cooled tower computer on a plane to watch movies for a cross-country flight, either.
  • The game situation is at best casual on the Go. Not enough horsepower, and the controls and latency won’t work for a Call of Duty type thing. Where it really shines is media consumption, and “experiences” – moving through 360 environments and looking at things.
  • Battery life sucks. It gets maybe two hours at most. It charges from a USB jack.
  • A phone app is used to initially connect to WiFi and to do basic management of the headset, but you don’t need a phone nearby after that point. The phone app is handy for browsing the store and checking your battery level when it’s plugged in and put away.
  • Oculus is Facebook, so it’s somewhat tied into its ecosystem. It’s very easy to view your FB photos, livestream to FB, etc. It could use better integration, though. I’d love a way to check Messenger without going to a web browser.
  • Yes, there’s a web browser in the interface. It’s really weird to be in a room, looking at a big screen with web pages on it.
  • You also have this concept of having a room where friends can meet you and you can chat, watch videos, and play simple board games. I don’t know anybody else with an Oculus, so I haven’t tried this, except to go in my room and change all the artwork and colors and stuff.
  • My favorite game so far is Ultrawings, which is a sort of cartoonish flight simulator with very good simulation. The graphics and music sort of remind me of Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64, but the flight control is very good, and it works well.
  • I’ve also wasted a lot of time in Viso Places, which is an app that lets you wander around Google Street View data and see everything in 3D. Very strange to be wandering around Bloomington in this, completely immersed.
  • There are two Blade Runner experiences. One has an intro where you are flying in a spinner in downtown LA 2049 at night, when it’s pouring rain. Someone is talking to you on the video phone, the rain is dripping on the windows, and the neon lights are whizzing by next to you, and below you in the windows by your feet. You can look all around the car as it flies, and it is truly incredible.
  • I’ve had no nausea problems, although doing a quick look to the side while doing a barrel roll in a flight game does make me half-dizzy for a second. I’ve also had zero fogging problems with the lenses, a problem I did have on the rift.
  • One strange side effect is you cannot really multitask in VR. If I had a writing program in it, it would be ideal, because I couldn’t open a second window to look at FB, or pull out my phone and start checking stuff. When you’re in it and watching something, that’s all you’re doing.
  • The biggest plus to the Go is that it’s self-contained, and instantly on. No cables, no Windows 10 Updates on the host computer, no power-sucking gaming tower in the corner. If you have a Windows PC, it’s a big ritual to get the computer started, then get the headset plugged in and started. With the Go, you put it on, done. It’s like the comparison between a PC and an iPad. The iPad isn’t going to do everything a PC will, but it’ll be on instantly, and if you just want to mess around, the convenience is amazing. Maybe they could come out with a more expensive model with more horsepower, but they really hit the sweet spot for market penetration here.

Overall, this is the best two hundred bucks I’ve spent on a computer gadget in a long time. Very exciting stuff. I’m not sure if Best Buy is doing demos of the Go, but if they are, check it out. Or go get one on Amazon. And if you have one, drop a line and we can connect inside there, play a game of Boggle or something.

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The Death of NetworkedBlogs

OK, minor annoyance here.  I’ve been using NetworkedBlogs as one of the pieces of duct tape holding together my blogging stuff here. It’s a program that checks an RSS feed, and when it sees a new blog post, it puts it on Facebook. I think Facebook used to do this automatically, if you gave it an RSS feed, and it died around 2010 or so. So I used this service, and now it’s going out of business. Mad scramble to find a new piece of duct tape, etc.

I’m now using IFTTT to do this, which seems to work. If you notice anything weird, let me know. Knock wood that they don’t get bought by Google and shut down.

 

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i like when this didn’t require me to enter a title before i entered a post

1. I was on this stupid thing where I thought I should start carrying a fake phone and wallet in case I was mugged. So I bought an iPhone 3G for $20 on eBay, which is the same exact phone I had nine years ago. It is ridiculously small and uses a different dock connector and has a shit camera and plastic back and is missing about every feature you could imagine. No Siri, no Apple Pay, no Find my Phone, no Facetime, no front camera. The OS is stuck like six or seven versions ago. I think the current Facebook app wouldn’t even fit on this phone. It’s sort of wonderful.

2. My allergies are so insanely bad since I got back from Alaska. I always joke about moving there like the Anthony Edwards character from Northern Exposure, who lived in a geodesic dome to escape his allergies, but I’ll be god damned, that would actually work.

3. My new watch tracks my sleep now with the Sleep++ app, and I don’t have to remember to start the app first – it just figures it out. It’s amazing to see how much I sleep when I take Ambien, and how many times I wake up in the middle of the night when I don’t.

4. For some freak reason, I didn’t drive my car at all this week. When I had to drive somewhere Friday, it was caked with a layer of dirt like I’d left it outside at Mt. St. Helen’s in 1980 or whenever that was.

5. I remember people selling bottles and jars of ashes after M.S.H. blew up. This was all pre-internet, so I’m not sure how I knew about this. Maybe it was in the el-cheapo ads in the very back of Parade magazine, where they normally sold biblical coins that were supposed to be older than Jesus but were actually punched out of sheet metal from Ford Pintos and then artificially aged in vats of Coca-Cola.

6. I’ve been writing the bulk of my next book by hand. No reason, except I write a lot of it in diners. It’s challenging, because I can’t read my own handwriting, and I only get maybe a hundred words per page of these little pocket notebooks.

7. I started reading about the bad effects of cortisol, the stress hormone, and how it stops you from losing fat and makes allergies worse, and now I am convinced that is like the nexus of every problem I have right now. And googling “get rid of cortisol” gives you ten million pages that basically just say to sleep more and be happy about your life, and maybe eat more salad.

8. I subscribed to a Facebook group about people who grew up in my home town, and everyone in the group is functionally illiterate. Like, they don’t know the difference between “to,” “two,” and “too.”

9. I also looked up my home town on TripAdvisor, and the top ten restaurants included Cracker Barrel, Perkin’s, and Texas Roadhouse.

10. I was going to go on a big rant about tenderloin sandwiches and mandala effect, but my dinner is here. (I ordered a salad for some inexplicable reason. Maybe the cortisol thing. I need to stop it with the Joe Rogan Podcast.)

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