Influence Addictions Measure

220px-Nicoderm

I find myself today thinking that what I really need is a patch that alleviates the painful symptoms of withdrawal from tablet computing devices.   Mere months after getting my ematic Genesis tablet–  which I had been so pleased with–  I regret to say that I have somehow managed to destroy it.    It appears that I somehow managed to shatter the screen,  which shows a web of cracks all over the surface.   When I turn it on,  the screen does not respond to any touch.   I am frankly baffled at how I managed to crack the screen while I was asleep.   Though I’ve long been told that I am an athletic sleeper.

I suppose it is a measure of my addiction to tablets that mere hours after discovering my poor tablet is toast I am already shopping for a replacement.    I recall when my first tablet died,  I ordered another one almost immediately.   I expect I will do so again.   I wasn’t really addicted to Angry Birds.   Though I admit I have been trying over and over again to do the one I was stuck on.   You have a whole bunch of different birds to kill three slugs beneath all kinds of wood and ice.   I can often get two of them,  but the third one is elusive.   Part of me worries that even if I do get a new tablet and it does have Angry Birds installed on it,  who knows how long it may take me to reach the level I had been stuck at.   Starting over is fairly easy,  and is perhaps the one thing that everyone has gotten skilled at these days.   But it is never the same.

It seems to me that measurements are one of the least useful things in social media.   While it is trivially easy to count, say,  how many Likes a status update receives,  these numbers are inevitably quite disconnected from the real exchanges of ideas and emotions and the relationships with other users that are the real meat of social media involvement.   It seems as though every week or so users are bombarded with yet another tool that will analyze their history on some site or another and provide a pretty graphical report about what they are doing right or wrong.    I believe these reports to be usually less than useful and at times dangerous in that they may cause people to mis-direct their energies and efforts away from real interaction with their audience,  in pursuit of numbers which don’t ultimately mean much of anything.

And finally today,  my thanks to Kamal Bennani who suggested today’s words.

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Caliche Ceviche Zinnias

Zinnia_bunch

Many, many moons ago as a freshman at LSU in Baton Rouge I took an introductory geology course.   I remember really struggling to sort out all of the epics and eras,  although the names for all of the various sorts of rocks were no picnic either.   I also took several years of high school Spanish,  but I don’t recall in either of those classes ever coming across the word caliche, which is a type of sedimentary rock formed of calcium carbonate.    I probably never saw any caliche in Louisiana or here in Washington,  though I’m given to understand that it is common in states like Kansas and Wyoming.

Another word borrowed from the Spanish that I have been much more familiar with is ceviche.   Ceviche is a dish with raw fish that is marinated in an acidic juice,  often lime or lemon.    I remember reading about a variation of this called poisson cru,  which a Polynesian woman prepares for a visitor to Tahiti in James Michener’s novel Hawaii.   Tahiti sounded like such a lovely place and I suspect had I been there I probably would have tried the poisson cru.    While I have eaten and enjoyed sushi at times,  I’ve never actually tried ceviche.

I have really been enjoying playing Angry Birds on my new tablet.   I particularly enjoyed the episode with the puffy red birds that bounce.    Somehow that episode seemed easier to me and I have already completed all 63 chapters of it.   And was delighted to find that completing that episode opened up two additional new episodes.    My tablet is also ideal for reading Kindle ebooks and I really like being able to switch between game play and reading modes.     I found myself thinking that I did not pay much more for this  (about $60 including shipping) than my parents did many, many years ago for a calculator sized device that played a sort of version of football which involved manipulating a handful of solid red lines around a tiny screen.    Part of me thinks that we must have brought more imagination to electronic gaming back then when there was nothing but a few red dots.    But I have to say I do like the exploding birds that kill little green slugs.     And finally today,  my thanks to  Harold Gardner,  who suggested today’s words.

PS–zinnias are a flower,  which is pictured in the illustration.   I could not think of anything to write about zinnias.

The Day The Tablet Died

April til November.    That’s how long my 100 dollar Curz Velocity Android tablet lasted.     About a week ago,  it seemed to lose it’s ability to take a battery charge through the 110 volt cord to the electric outlet.    However when I plugged it into my laptop it did take a charge from the lappy.    While re-charging through USB was very slow,  it did get up many times to 80 or 90 %   and I could take my eBook to the bathroom or bedroom and it was all good.    But then yesterday it stopped taking a charge from either of its cords.    And then finally it completely ran out of juice.   and though I still have it plugged in to the lappy,  it will not come on.      I am sorry to say that I have decided that the tablet is dead.   And must be replaced.

So somewhere online Ron found a tablet that sounds like it has decent specs and claims to be running Ice Cream Sandwich  (which is android 4.x  I _think_).    And I wonder frankly if it will have any more power than the (disposable it seems) 100 dollar Cruz,  which was great for eReading but mostly lacked the power to do most of the other things I might have wanted to do with my tablet.    I also find myself thinking that at 59 dollars,  I would feel even less bad than I do at the moment,  if I only got about 7 months of use out of it.     The part of me that is constantly hearing phone users talk about all the amazing things their droid can do,  is very tempted to try the 59 dollar tablet,  which Ron tells me I could afford to order now.   And have it here sometime later this week.

Or,  if I want I can replace it with Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire,  which sells for 159.   But if I need to spend the extra hundred bucks,   it will have to wait until next month.    So I can either buy a cheaper cheap tablet to check it out and see what it can do,  and hopefully have a working eReader  (I read from my eReader pretty much All The Time).     Or wait and spend a bunch more money and try instead Amazon’s severely tweaked version,  to see if it proves to be a better tablet solution.    The fact is,  I read most of the eBooks that I read in Kindle editions,  whether obtained free directly from Amazon– I follow a Facebook page that let’s you know what’s free NOW.     It’s frequently updated and I really do get a lot of free books.    It is also very easy to borrow books from my local public library and get them right into my Kindle app.    But even though I really tried to appreciate other eReading options,  the fact that the Kindle (on my droid)  really suited me,  makes me really wonder why I would want to pay 100 more,   and go a month without my eReader  to get more locked into Amazon,   which I’ve at times criticized for being a bit of a monopolist.     The fact is the Kindle eReader on most any platform or device is the best eReading experience currently available.

If I were more social or more committed to blog promotion,   I would put a poll here and ask you,  my dear readers,   to suggest whether I should go for the cheap tablet NOW or wait a month to buy a much more expensive one from the scary Amazonians.     But honestly,   I don’t think I can bear to be a month without an eReader.   So I will almost certainly ask Ron to go ahead and order my ice cream sandwich.   Real soon now.

You Get What You Pay For

Prices are both funny and fleeting it seems to me.   For example the list price of my Cruz Velocity tablet is about three hundred dollars.   I would be very, very unhappy with this tablet if I had paid that price for it.   The little device simply does not have enough power in it to play videos  such that you can watch them or even to stream audio and play it loud enough for this deaf guy to hear.    I have never been able to download and install any games on this tablet.     If I had paid three hundred dollars expecting it to do all of these things I would be bitterly disappointed and would feel horribly ripped off.    Despite it’s list price, however,   I paid a bit less than one hundred dollars for my tablet.   If I recall correctly it came to $97,  including taxes, shipping and whatever else they charged.

I have a friend who has an Android phone.    It’s pretty top of the line he tells me.    I believe the list price or retail price for the phone is about $900.   And with the monthly 4G contract,  my friend will pay about $3300 over the course of two years to have and use his phone.    Sometimes,  I have to admit I do feel a little annoyed– like when he keeps multi-tasking and does four other things on his phone,   while I am struggling to type him a short message from my tablet.    That he can just play Angry Birds,  stream video and never even slow down.   On the other hand,  I always try to remind myself–  he is spending 33 times more for his phone than I am for this device.

Given that I did not pay much more for the tablet than my spouse did for his bottom of the line Kindle reader,  and given that I can not only buy eBooks both from Kindle and from other online stores–  I just today bought my second paid eBook  through the Kobo app that came pre-loaded on my tablet.    I am enjoying the novel and am thoroughly pleased to be supporting both the novelist and Smashwords while paying a reasonable price.    I know that I myself am never going to pay ten dollars for an eBook of a backlist novel.     And there really isn’t anything that the Apples and Amazons can do to change the price I’m willing to pay from three bucks to ten bucks.     But I think there is a marvelous opportunity there for writers and publishers who embrace  a consumer friendly price point to build a huge audience of fans and devoted readers.    If but we more of us just say no to the monopolists who are trying real hard these days to control eBooks.

Flaky (My new tabby is…)

It’s not entirely unfitting that my two least favorite web services,  Klout and Disqus  both persist in using some ancient Twitter data and showing my name as outofit.    Outofit was a handle I adopted on my first MUD.  It was simply a description of how I felt each time I typed  telnet:quark.gmi.edu 5150 at a Unix prompt to participate in what was just a game,  yet one that would quite change my life.

Change happens.   I’ve said many times that change is the only constant in any online community.   And it does seem to me that most of us learn and grow a bit more, most every day.  My new tablet (a Cruz Velocity T301) arrived today.   I have been both awed at some of the cool new tech on display, as well as as frustrated as I have been with technology since the afternoon I struggled with AmiPro 2.0 soon after receiving my very first computer back in 1990-something and thinking that cool as it is–I do love the way the display switches from landscape to portrait depending on how you hold it– the device seems more than a bit flaky to me.

And much as I have complained about Disqus especially continuing to call me be a very old handle that I updated everywhere that I update things many many moons ago,  the new tabby leaves me feeling darned near as out of it as the Unix prompt and the method for inserting images into a document in a long forgotten also ran word processor once did.   So it is fitting that I had never actually heard of the cartoon character until I did a search for flaky + images.     While I have linked the character to a wiki page that tells a bit about him,  I’m honestly not interested enough to find out more about Flaky or find and view his cartoons.   So perhaps it’s not altogether unfitting that in some places I continue to be known as outofit.   But I must say I am looking forward to taking my tablet on the road and seriously rejoining the mobile connected.

Going Mobile, RSN

It was I believe the year 2000.   I was working for Earthlink,  at the time one of the nation’s biggest dial up Internet Service Providers.   My business cards (no joke) showed my job title as  “Letters And Numbers Guru”.    I had landed in that cushy position after starting as a temp with Sprynet.   SPRY,  a small Seattle software company  was acquired by Compu$erve then reeling from the new competition from 20 dollar a month unlimited service.    SPRY’s ground breaking Internet In A Box for Windows 95 was married to Compu$erve’s nationwide network of local dial up numbers and Sprynet was born.   Before having that utterly ridiculous title at Earthlink I survived AOL’s acquisition of Compu$erve,  and spin-off of the Sprynet division to Mindspring,  which then merged with Earthlink.    I do miss those days when at least once a year I got a huge ‘retention bonus’  and new stock options  in the heady days of dot com  M & A.

The moment I saw it back in 2000 I ordered it.   It was a pager,  at first glance just like any other little pager,  but it flipped open to reveal a four line screen and a keyboard.    My pager was set up to receive all of the e-mails sent to alanj@pipeline.com  which was then my primary personal e-mail address.    My e-mail pager went with me everywhere.   I remember checking my messages at the top of a huge Ferris wheel at the Boise state fair– a message from my friend Ron in New Jersey saying  ‘sheesh,  don’t you two ever stay home?!?’.   I also remember sending a message to Joel while walking down Royal Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans one trip.   The day eventually came when I felt I could no longer afford the twenty five bucks a month and canceled the service.    And somewhere I do still have that old pager tucked away in a drawer.

But today I am excited to have just ordered an Android tablet.  No 3G or 4G,   I will have to use it with wifi.   But my friend who has an iPhone tells me I may be amazed at all the spots where I can pick up wifi these days.   I don’t know when I will get back to Boise next  (though I sure miss my friend Staci who lives there).  And I fear that I may never be able to get wifi at the top of a Ferris wheel.   But I’m very excited that I will real soon now be rejoining the mobile connected.