10.31.2010

Happy Halloween (a real holiday)


Carved this today...  Better late than never.

10.20.2010

Twitter is better than Facebook

I have a Twitter account. I also have a Facebook account. Facebook is dumb. Before I continue with a blog that hates Facebook, understand that I am not living in a fantasy world where I think my blog is gonna take down Facebook. Facebook is pure business genius, and isn't going away anytime soon. Plus if Facebook went away, I'd have to build my own comment boxes for my blogs. I'm simply trying to convey to you how much simpler and easier life is on Twitter, and how obnoxious Facebook is. If I get even one reader to use Twitter on a regular basis, my life is fulfilled. Yeah, it doesn't take much for me.

The problem is, I can't quit Facebook because I've realized it's a good way to see what my friends and family (who I'm far to lazy to call) are up to or talking about, and very few of them are on Twitter. When I say friends, I don't mean Facebook "friends", I mean actual literal real-world friends over my entire lifetime. I have about 50-ish people who I'm either friends with now, or considered a friend at one time in my life. I don't need more than that. I don't need over 1000. In fact, I've stopped accepting new friend requests on Facebook and will continue to post offensive Tweets that auto-forward to Facebook until all my current friends have deleted me and I can finally quit. Then people can get back to talking to me via the proper channels. Facebook is NOT a replacement for e-mail, texting and party invitations, so don't contact me there for important things.

Back to the issue at hand. Twitter is better. But to understand why, you need a fundamental understanding of how Twitter works. Twitter is like a simpler Facebook, but it's missing all the elements of Facebook that piss me off. The most notable difference between the two is the 140 character limit on Twitter. This is an absolutely necessary element of a social network. If you can't say it in 140 characters, you need to either get a blog or shut the hell up. I got a blog. The 140 character limit was originally designed so it could be used via text messaging on a mobile phone without breaking into multiple messages. Some people say that Twitter’s simplicity makes it an annoying stream of consciousness; but it’s really all in how people use it, just like Facebook! Just don’t follow Ashton Kutcher or John Mayer on Twitter and it’ll be fine.

Beyond that, you don't have "Friends" on Twitter, you have "Followers". There isn't that awkward friend request system where you have to suffer through that moment of ignoring someone possibly close to you who you just don't want as a friend. On Twitter it's all been simplified. There are two settings, "Public" and "Private". If you're Public, people can automatically follow you and you can follow them. No requests. If you're Private, you have to approve requests, AND your posts don't appear on the public timeline. THAT'S IT. Those are the TWO settings. Facebook on the other hand has provided you with so many options for sharing all different types of information, that it's become an obnoxious clusterfuck.

And while we're on the subject, let's look at the different types of information Facebook wants you to share. Your birthday, your anniversary, your family's names, your employer (with address because you're automatically linked to the group for your employer), your hometown, your current city, your high school, your likes and dislikes. So I'm a criminal, and I want to steal your identity. What's one of the dumb security questions on any website? "What's your mother's maiden name?" "In what city were you born?" "Where did you graduate high school?" Well, all I have to do is find out who your grandmother is and your hometown, and bang, I'm you. Thanks Facebook! Luckily I don't want to be you, I'd rather not get into why.

Here's the Twitter profile page: Name, URL, Location, Bio. And you're not penalized and given warnings if you leave information blank on Twitter. Facebook seems to be in the business of collecting information, which is beyond baffling to me in the day and age of identity theft (which has happened to me, but not because of Facebook [that I'm aware of]).

So let's get back to the part where I was talking about the "Public" and "Private" settings on Twitter. You might be saying, "Well Radd, if I join Twitter, and set my profile to 'Public' then ANYONE can automatically read my tweets! I don't like that, I like friend requests!" Well, my poor idiot, you're living in Candy Land if you think your Facebook posts are truly private. They're on the fucking INTERNET! Nothing is private on the INTERNET. And on top of that, people love to tell secrets. Chances are someone who has "friended" that person you don't want to friend has shown them your Facebook page and tells them what you're saying. But failing that, IT'S ON THE INTERNET!! Now, if you're simply interested in personal privacy on Twitter then "Private" is the setting for you. Because most of Twitter is public, there's been nowhere near the privacy scandals that Facebook's been involved in. I believe Facebook is up to a scandal a month now. Just remember, the only way to be truly "private" is to not join a social network. But if you're like me and like to talk, then that's not really an option.

Moving on to the Terms of Service. An interesting read. Let's compare:  Facebook - Split into multiple pages of subcategories, last updated a couple weeks ago. Give that a read sometime and keep up with its changes... I know I won't.   Twitter - One page, updated 9/18/09

Twitter has NO ADS or "suggestions", and most importantly, NO STUPID GAMES, and no one inviting you to play stupid games like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. I've been playing video games since I was four, and I was even an EGM editor. If there was ever an authority on the subject, it's me. Facebook games are STUPID. I'd give them a 4, except my editor would just change it to a 7, but that's beside the point.  However, I will say I'd be a fool not to understand why Facebook games exist. It's business genius. In fact, Facebook as a whole is designed to keep you there, clicking away. Games keep people on the site. More visibility equals more revenue for Facebook. This is also why you see only certain updates from certain people in your News and Recent. Facebook has a carefully guarded secret algorithm in place to determine which posts will be interesting to you and keep you on board clicking away, all the while viewing more ads and generating more revenue for them. I can hate Facebook while still recognizing it's brilliance as a business platform. On Twitter, you see EVERYONE'S posts. If that gets too overwhelming, then you need to follow fewer people or set up favorites. Point is, Twitter leaves the decision-making in YOUR hands.

Speaking of following people on Twitter, since it's public, you can follow your favorite celebrities and find out what they're up to as well. You're not just limited to your boring old friends and family. Go to my Twitter page to see who I'm currently following, you don't have to be my friend or anything! And you won't find out any of my personal info!

There are no links on Twitter that require you to take a quiz before you can look at them, and there are no annoying GROUPS. "Bob Bemis has joined 'I HEART VARIOUS THINGS'"... Feck off Bob. I wouldn't be surprised if "I fell out of my bed and bumped my head" and "My balls itch" were actual Facebook groups. On Twitter there's "Trends" which are automatically generated based on keywords that people are talking about. For instance "Paranormal Activity" is trending as I write this. Since it's America, the trends are usually stupid things. "Justin Bieber" is another popular trend. But you can find out what's being talked about in your town, your state, your country, or the planet. In fact, news travels faster on Twitter than any other platform.  If you decide to talk about a trend on Twitter, you're not automatically added to a group with others who like the same thing. As if I want to talk to strangers about our common interests. I understand it's called a "social" network, but it's ironic that although I like to talk, I'm not social. I generally hate people. Maybe none of this is for me. In fact, forget everything you've just read...

This pretty much sums it up.

Press my hypocritical Tweet and Like buttons below!

10.16.2010

Happy Sweetest Day!

Yep you're seeing right, an unprecedented back-to-back blog post. I've been meaning to write about fake holidays for a while, today just reminded me.

So yeah Sweetest Day. Yep, I'm complaining about this. It's a day of reflection for me, on just how fake a holiday it is. Seriously. Are people are still buying into this? I can assure you with 100% certainty that my wife is not expecting a box of candy and a card today. We're practical people. We don't even exchange gifts on Christmas, let alone Valentine's Day, so the prospect of Sweetest Day to us is taken about as seriously as Boxing Day, Friendship Day, Ninja Day and 4/20. Let's not forget First Contact Day on April 5th. Yeah, it celebrates our first contact with the Vulcans in 2063. People really celebrate it. Apparently I'm not the biggest Star Trek fan.

While my wife and I do celebrate our wedding anniversary, I don't need a fake holiday to remind me it's time to do something nice for her. In fact, let's take a look at the origins of Sweetest Day. According to Wikipedia (which is never, EVER wrong), Sweetest Day (The "sweetest" day of the year) was created in the 1920's by candy makers to boost sales. Assuming this information is accurate (which it is, because it's from WIKIPEDIA), we see that it's by very definition a manufactured holiday. IT'S FAKE! AND, it's only celebrated in the Great Lakes region! It's so lame the rest of the country has decided not to bother with it!

Here's a list of REAL holidays in order of importance:

Christmas
My Birthday (or yours I guess)
Thanksgiving
Halloween
Easter

All others are fake. It's my blog, these facts are irrefutable.

Groundhog Day? In which we watch a marathon of the 1993 Bill Murray Film.
Valentine's Day? A celebration of the martyrdom of a bunch of people in the Middle Ages
St. Patricks Day? I think I have some Irish in me, but I'm not sure why should I still celebrate a Patron Saint of Ireland whose original associated color was blue, by wearing green.
April Fools Day is fun I'll admit, but it's not real.
Columbus Day? He didn't DISCOVER America, his boat crashed into it, and then he looked at it. Celebrate his journey, not where he stopped to take over.
Black Friday? This is where we celebrate women murdering each other in Wal-Mart.
Winter Solstice? Hooray! The Earth is still rotating!
Kwanzaa... Let's just move on.
New Years Eve? Or as I call it, "Alcohol Day".
Don't forget New Years Day, also known as "Hangover Day because you're a moron - seriously, you're in your 30's for God's sake!" I'm working on a shorter version of that one.
A lot of these holidays are just superstitious hokum, or have dubious origins.

Even the real holidays I mentioned have completely lost their original meanings. I just call them "real" because they're actual celebrations more than holidays. Even their names reflect their lost origins. Thanksgiving is now Turkey Day, and Christmas is now X-Mas.

Getting back to the point at hand, sweetest day is fake. I'm not even bothering to capitalize it anymore. Save a $20 today and walk in empty-handed. If you're spouse is practical, they'll understand. If you get the cold shoulder and stink eye, well then good luck with that relationship pal!

HAPPY SWEETEST DAY IDIOTS!

10.15.2010

Suck it Lexmark.

So here's the deal. I own a Lexmark X5650 multifunction printer. I originally purchased it because I needed to receive faxes every morning from my job. Now I don't use the fax anymore, but I still use the printing function quite a bit. I print out a lot of postal labels for eBay. This uses a lot of black ink. And never in my computing life have I been witness to a bigger scam. For the remainder of this blog, I shall refer to it as the "Lexmark Printer Cartridge Scam", or LPCS™ for short. Nah, actually I take that back, I'll probably refer to it that way for the remainder of my life.

Here's how the LPCS™ works: You purchase a Lexmark printer for super cheap at Wal-Mart. So cheap in fact, that you leave the store feeling like you just scammed the corporate machine. But what you didn't realize was that it is you, my poor idiot, who has been scammed. You get the printer home, hook it up, and start printing. What you soon realize is that the printer cartridges are being used up at the rate of 35 sheets per cartridge. Which using a little math, my wife's area I know, but I'll give it another go, is a FUCKING DOLLAR PER SHEET. I could hand write everything, then drive to the library and photocopy it and still come out ahead.

Here's where the LPCS™ really shines as a brilliant scam. The printer hardware, as well as the driver software on the computer DO NOT ALLOW you to use the cartridge once it determines it's "empty". It refuses to print and gives you a link to the Lexmark website to purchase another cartridge. This feature really comes in handy when you need to print a time sensitive boarding pass for your flight the next day, or you're late for a job interview and need to print a résumé. Sorry, you can't print, but here's a link to our website, you'll get your replacement cartridge in 4-6 days and we'll hit you with shipping charges. You missed your flight and didn't get the job, but hey you'll always have quality printouts.

Now I've NEVER seen a printer that didn't allow you to print after the cartridge is empty. Usually they'll warn you that it's low, then eventually empty, but you can still get another 20 pages out of it before the colors start banding. Another brilliant part of the scam is that you can't refill the cartridges either. There's no way to reset the ink level. Once it's empty, the printer ALWAYS registers that cartridge as "empty" even if refilled.

Never fear, this blog has a happy ending. I'm a problem solver, and a bit of a scam artist myself. Nowhere near the caliber of Lexmark, but I get by. Enter the ultimate defense against LPCS™:


Yep, ordinary tape.  It doesn't have to be Scotch, or satin, or gift wrap.  Just some damn tape, this isn't a commercial!  So you tear off a strip and place it here:


If it's hard to see, you can click to enlarge, but I've placed the strip so it covers the five vertical dots on the edge of my black ink cartridge. Now, the printer can no longer read the ink level in the cartridge. I'm able to print again! When I do, the black ink level now looks like this: (note the question mark)


So there you have it.  By doing this I'm cutting my ink cost in half.  Yep, that's DOUBLE the amount of pages out of the ink cartridge.  Now that you know the dangers of LPCS™, I hope you'll act responsibly when buying your next printer.  It's quite simple, just don't buy a Lexmark.  Walk right on by to the other brands. Additionally you can knock all the existing Lexmark printers off the shelf and kick them down the aisle till they break to protect your fellow consumer.  Although I don't know how that would fly with the Wal-Mart night manager. 

So why am I wasting my life with such minutiae?  Hey, what you call waste of life, I call saving money.  Who are you to judge me anyway, dick? It's my hope that the keywords "Lexmark" "printer" "X5650" and "reset ink level" will be picked up by Google and distributed to all the other poor bastards who have also been scammed by Lexmark.  If successful I'll save a lot of people a lot of money.  Or be forced to remove this blog by a Lexmark court order.  Either way, it's nice to be noticed.

10.09.2010

It's a CONSPIRACY!

Drove my wife to the airport last night so she could meet her brother in FL for some Halloween festivities. Drove her car (an automatic) so I wouldn't burn out the clutch on my Jeep driving home in rush hour traffic.

Made it all the way to Channahon, and was quickly pulled over on the side of Rt. 6. I was going probably 5 or 6 mph over the speed limit, so I assumed that was the reason he pulled me over. I've been pulled over before, so I grabbed the old license, reg and insurance card. He comes to the window and asks the usual question, "Do you know why I pulled you over?" I immediately respond, "Well, I might've been goin' a little fast, that's the only reason I can think of." Everyone always says you should do or say certain things when you get pulled over, like don't volunteer any information, but I don't usually listen to the advice of others because if life's taught me anything, it's that other people are stupid.

He says, "No, it's not that. You've got a cover over your license plate." I'm like, "Oh, that's not allowed?" He says "No, you didn't know that?" I reply "No, I didn't, it's been on there for years, had no idea!" He says, "Well they can glare and make it hard for us to read the plates." I say "Ok, well no prob, I'm like a minute from home, I'll grab a screwdriver and pop it off as soon as I get in the garage." He checks my license, I sit and read the latest Twitters. A few minutes later he sends me on my way with a warning. I go home and remove the cover.

I'm writing about this because I'd first like to warn anyone else that may use one of these. Also, I'd like to submit a few thoughts for consideration.

I submit: "Do you know why I pulled you over?" Again, people would say to me "You just reply, 'No I don't.'" But I'm not the type to try and scam my way out of trouble, if I've done something wrong I want to correct it. But given a million guesses I would've never said "Is it my license plate cover?" How would I know that? I would guess things like "Do I have a busted taillight?" or "A potato in my tailpipe?" or "A deployed airbag?" before I guessed that.

Also, this cover has been on the car since The switchover to the red and blue license plates. How long ago was that? How many years? And no one anywhere has noticed and pulled over my wife? Oh sure, they wait till I'M driving the car. Yeah, I can say whatever I want on here. My wife's in Florida!

Another thing to consider. These new license plates suck and rust, which necessitated the cover in the first place. The old license plates didn't rust. How do I know? The proof is on my garage wall.

Finally, why are these covers even sold in Illinois if they're not legal? It'd be like selling fireworks in Illinois. Or crack.

So my conclusion is the state of Illinois has a scam going where they make these license plates that rust, then sell protective covers to keep them from rusting, THEN make the covers illegal and give out tickets to generate revenue for the state. You might say, "But Radd, the cop didn't even give you a ticket! How can you say it's a conspiracy to generate revenue?" thereby rendering the entire blog I just typed irrelevant. To you I say, "Well played."

If you have one of these, I suggest you turn yourself in. Or throw it out.

10.06.2010

I like when cool stuff happens.

So there's this guy named Tim Langdell who founded a gaming company called EDGE GAMES a LONG time ago.  The last time Edge Games published a video game, the year was 1994.  Since then, Tim has made a meager living suing every game company that used the word "Edge" in their releases.  He can do this because he's supposedly trademarked the word "Edge".  Ever heard of the Game "Soul Edge"? Very popular arcade fighting game by Namco.  Guess what the home version is called?  It's not "Soul Edge", it's "Soul BLADE". Guess who's responsible for that change? Yep Tim Langdell. Getting the picture here?

Recently, he sued EA over "Mirror's Edge" (of course).  Probably extremely happy such a large company produced a release with "Edge" in the title.  Since it's been 10 years since his case against Namco, he was probably short on cash. He stood to make a killing on this case!  Unfortunately for Tim, he may have bullied the wrong kid on the playground.  The court believes he lied to the US Patent and Trademark Office.  In addition, the court brought a charge against him, citing that he's been "trolling" the industry for opportunities to license his "trademark". This could lead to "penalties" against him.

Needless to say, the case against EA has been dropped, putting an end to the ridiculous industry ban on the word "Edge". In addition, now this guy is in legal trouble.  The moral of the story is that I love when people get what they deserve.