Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mormons and Blogging 2

So there is a lot of discussion about why Mormons blog so much. I think I have a bit of a rambling answer. From the very beginning of the LDS church, members have been encouraged to keep journals. Some of these have been instrumental in documenting the early days of the church, the migration West, and the growth or the church after settling in the Salt Lake valley. Intimate details, faith promoting stories and documentation of significant events are all liberally covered.

As I have researched my ancestors, I have read several journals and been flabbergasted at the sacrifice and faith that so many of them exhibited. Some of the things they had to live through, and things they were asked to do were astonishing and humbling. They also have become real people through these recorded events and thoughts.

 From a young age I was encouraged to keep my own journal. I never really did except for my mission, and even that was almost accidental. Writing in a book, however well intentioned I was, was never going to happen with any regularity.

 I think that the pervasive nature of technology, and the ease of blogging software have allowed this latent desire to fulfill a mandate to be more easily realized. And let's face it, right now Mormons are the national freak show, and people are fascinated to read about people who not only espouse values, but actually try to live them.

Honestly, I doubt there will be a soul read my blog. I haven't even told my family I have it. If they aren't reading it who will? I think in my case it is as much a place to put thoughts as, like my title says, a place to scream into my virtual pillow. By that I mean to extricate the frustrations and perhaps provide a catharsis or at least some relief from frustration by working it out in print. If someone happens upon it sometime, well... that is almost inconsequential.

So if I write as though I am talking to the whole world, realize that in fact I am mentally sending this to an empty room to work through my own issues. There are a lot of those, so it may be a while.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I added TED to my video channels on my Plex media server, and have begun spending an inordinate amount of time watching these really nifty videos.

If you don't know what TED is, it stands for Technology, Education and Design.  Speakers who are influential within their respective spheres are asked to speak, and they are given a notoriously short 20 minutes to opine on their topic.  What ensues is like the modern day Cliff's Notes of just about any topic you care to mention.

For instance, one video is Neil MacGregor: 2600 years of history in one object, a fascinating look at the Cyrus Cylinder and how it's influence has come down through the past 2600 years, and will continue doing so well into the future.  It is something I never would have known about, but it was really interesting to stumble upon it.

Another interesting video is Susan Cain: The power of introverts.  This is a very interesting and insightful look into the value and marginalization of the introvert in modern society.  It made me want to go and unashamedly curl up with a book.

I guess that is what is great about TED.  You can stumble upon all kinds of interesting things from the humorous to the truly jaw-dropping.  No really.  They are actually classified that way.  Need a laugh, look it up.  In the mood to think, click on a fascinating one.  There really is something for everyone.

The best part is that TED doesn't take itself too seriously.  If you think it does, watch Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks).  I love when people use statistics in unexpected ways!



OSs and Going Forward

Despite my art background I have been a Windows guy most of the past 20 years. It has its shortcomings, but I know it and work well with it. I have been, due to work mostly, stuck in an XP world, and it is getting to be time to move forward. The problem with me moving forward is that I have to bring my extended family along, kicking and screaming.

I have found myself becoming somewhat computer agnostic over the past few years. First I started running my own web server, and settled on CentOS. I started with the GUI, but have become quite comfortable in VI and Pico. I now understand all the uber-geeks saying you have to command line if you REALLY want to run Linux. Even in my brief dabbling in Ubuntu, you need some familiarity with command line functions or you will be very limited and frustrated.

And there is the rub with Linux. No matter how ready for prime time it gets, it will always be, at it's core, command line centric. That means you either have to be a geek, have an IT department to support the deployment, or be cheap enough you are willing to mow your way though it. This is not the OS for family based tech support.

I have an iPad (on which I am writing this post), an iPhone, and two iPods. I love them all, and thought it was time to revisit OSX. I bought an old Mac Mini with the latest Snow Leopard installed and set it up as a media server with Plex.

I've been endlessly tinkering, and have come to some conclusions there and I am horribly frustrated with it. Really. A modern OS you can't change the OS font size? OK, there is a hack, but it doesn't work well because it isn't uniformly manifest, and the header bars don't resize, so anything over a couple of points bigger and it is a mess. This means as your resolution increases, your font size decreases to the point that on a 55" hd screen you have to be within 6 feet of the screen to have any hope of knowing what you are doing. You can go to a lower resolution, but that defeats the beautiful interface.

I also find myself having to click multiple times to do simple tasks that take one click in Windows such as closing a program. Why does clicking the red X not kill the program? Why do I have to control-click the item in the task bar and click "quit".   Doesn't it believe me? And why are the eject buttons right next to the network folders so that when you finally manage to add one it causes you to disconnect drives if you even stutter your finger on the trackpad while going over to select it?

I love Apple hardware. I genuinely believe they have the best hardware in the business, but OSX is a frustrating mess. If you don't think so, it is because you don't know any better or just have very different priorities than me in an OS.

So, it is back to Windows. I am eying Windows 8 very carefully and, while I have some significant concerns, I think it is the only real option going forward. Actually I can see me on a MacBook Air or Pro with Win 8 in the next 6 months or so. That has its own issues of an incompatible keyboard, but I think you may end up with the best of all worlds that way. I just hope Apple does a better job with their Windows drivers because I really don't like virtual machines. Dual boot is the only option, and too many things break when going down that road.

Here is hoping the next six months are good to both Apple and Microsoft.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


Hyphenated last names are an idiotic, self indulgent farce.

I will not go into all of the gender politics of this, as it is not worth the effort.  Instead, I would like to point out one simple line of logic that shows how ludicrous it is, and why society has defaulted to using just one name.

What about your kids and grandchildren?

If this is a principle you truly espouse, then your children should carry the hyphenated last name.  Now, obviously you will have been teaching your children that this is an important issue, and thus they will be indoctrinated to do likewise with their spouses.  So now child Smith-Jones becomes Smith-Jones-Whittaker.  Their child becomes Smith-Jones-Whittaker-Rommelwitz.

Now if they become lawyers this may be of benefit, but otherwise, where does it end?  What is monogram going to look like on their shirts?

The reason a family takes on one name is that it provides unity and simplicity over the generations.  Remove the gender politics and look at it from a practical view.  I don't care if your family takes on the husband or wife's name, pick one and stick with it.  Your posterity will be grateful.

Sometimes, surprisingly, traditional conventions actually have logical reason behind them.