Those were the words that signified the beginning on the “the new normal.” March 11, 2020 was the day the United States was truly introduced to the novel coronavirus, or as we came to know it, COVID-19. Diseases like this have come and gone around the planet before, but generally the United States has been geographically isolated from the worst of the recent past. With these words spoken by ESPN announcers prior to the NBA Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game scheduled for that Wednesday evening, normal American life began to grind to a halt. And the desperate search for toilet paper was just about to get underway…
When enough time passes, and we, as a society, take a look back on this event (“these interesting times,” “these uncertain times,” “these unprecedented times,” “the new normal,” “massive governmental failure,” and any other phrase you would like to add to this list…) I believe the postponing of this basketball game will be the singular event that got the nation’s attention: This situation is serious, we’ve never seen anything like it in almost a hundred years, and we don’t know what’s happening next.
To almost every extent, this uncertainty remains, over two months later. We’ve become familiar with words and concepts that are new to our modern society. Face masks. “Social distancing.” Pandemic. Wild times, indeed.
There is a lot of we still don’t know. There’s a lot to be sad about, a lot to be mad about, and a lot to be frustrated about. I’ve always tried to create posts on this site that inform, entertain or uplift. Honestly, I haven’t posted since the beginning of March because I don’t know what’s appropriate. But we still have lives to lead, and there are still things to say. And, as John Krasinski showed us for eight episodes during “these unceratin times,” there is still Some Good News…
Just thinking about the early days of the cyber frontier… they were simpler times. Personal computers of the early 1980s were rarely connected one with another. Most likely, your computer sat lonely, by itself. Not serving any functions, except maybe exclusively running any program you’s care to run through it. A word processor, maybe. Spreadsheets? Sure! Games? Yep. Nothing multiplayer, unless your friend happened to be sitting next to you, joystick in hand.
Hacking meant trying to figure out how to get a clean “backup copy” of the latest game with Fast Hack’em. If you had a modem, you might try to dial into some local BBS, which, more often than not, was run out of someone’s home via a second telephone line.
Even video game systems were simple. Atari 2600 “joysticks” consisted of one “stick” and one button, called “fire.” No bumpers, triggers, d-pads, x, o, triangle, square, select, start, etc.
And we had patience. Yie Ar Kung-Fu would take over 20 minutes to load before presenting you with this awesome intro screen and music: (Plenty of time to get some snacks and a cool soft drink prior to a gaming session.)
Now, if YouTube video commercials are over ~10 seconds, I basically decide it’s probably not worth that wait.
Then the lawyers appeared. And whitepapers. And phrases like “life-cycle management,” “total cost of ownership,” and “best practices.” And the fun went away. It was no longer the wild west.
Today, the fun continues to be sucked out of computing in slightly more disturbing ways. Modern society has dictated requirements like the EU’s GDPR legislation. Websites now require you to verify that you are not a robot (…what?…) and that you agree to accept “cookies” from almost every website. And the amount of data Facebook has on you (yes, just you) could fill encyclopedias…
To see “how far we’ve come” (for better or for worse) check out the trailer for Do You Trust This Computer below. The movie is a couple of years old, so some of the discussion around some far-fetched ideas is just that much closer to becoming reality.
So, I have some questions.
Where is the fun now?
I don’t even mean that in a snarky way. Literally. Where is the fun now? Cause I want to go there.
Was it worth it?
Should we have navigated this technological minefield for the last 40 years in order to end up having people die while texting and driving? Or even getting killed while looking at their phones and crossing the street? I’m not blaming the tech itself. More our reliance on it. When the space junk apocalypse occurs in a few years due to the thousands of satellites that are being released to circle the earth, and all GPS is lost, will we be able to get around?
It’s that time of year, once again! Time to give thanks, to gather with friends and family, and time to celebrate the fresh start of a new year. I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a terrific 2020!
It seems like every Christmas season has one holiday song that gets played on repeat, for some odd reason. And I know everybody is talking about how this is the 25th anniversary of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You…But for me it has to be (Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag as sung by Kay Starr. This one just keeps following me around! I don’t get to choose the song…the song chooses me. 😀
Below, I’ve shared a few videos from our recent Florida theme park trips. First up, Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Join Shrek, Fiona, Gru, the Minions, and many other Universal Studios characters as they celebrate the season.
Twitter has some pretty interesting topics that it will randomly recommend for me sometimes. I’m not one of those who believe that Facebook and Twitter eavesdrop or record your conversations. With the information we freely give them, they don’t need to do that. But it is almost scary how both services know the type of thing I might be interested in reading. It’s as if Twitter knows I’ve just binge-watched season 3 of Stranger Things and have super strong feelings of nostalgia for the 1980s right now… For example, just the other day I got this gem of a recommendation under the “For you” section:
Yes, I remember the days of being online in 1987. But I didn’t spill a goldfish bowl, carry my computer under my arm while riding on a motorcycle, or even have to deal with a guitar neck seemingly poking out of a Jeep, behind a girl who is somehow talking on a corded phone?
Instead, I wasted a lot of time goofing around with programs like Perfect Sound and Deluxe Music Construction Set for the Amiga. And once in a while, you get something that looks an awful lot like what you see below:
Some people may ask “Jason, why didn’t you just upload this video to YouTube?” Well, some people, I have an answer. This video has about half a dozen (crap quality) samples from 1980s pop songs, and I didn’t really feel like having YouTube’s “Amazing Content Verificator”™ going beep beep beep all over my upload. Anyway, enjoy this blast from the past. Sorry about the audio quality. I was trying to be quiet. 😁
A couple of highlights:
06:35 – Listen to what happens when bored kids play with answering machines
22:19 – Listen to the long lost hit “Babepulsive.” Don’t ask.
So I’ve finally gotten around to editing some videos from our adventures around central Florida. Episode One is from a day at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. You can check out episode one below. For anyone wondering about the name “Project Orange” — The name comes from the fact that we had been wanting to move to Florida for several years, and by the late-2000’s the concept got a formal name — “Project Orange.” So, now that the move has come to fruition, the name “Project Orange” lives on in the title of our Florida adventures…
On November 10, 2018, my family set out on a quest. A quest to find a nice new television to place on the living room wall. Sure, it seemed like your average, everyday trip to Best Buy… Little did I know it would turn into a series of events of “Samsung Epic Fail” proportions… I know that Samsung has its hand full with another, more popular epic fail at the moment, the horribly designed Galaxy Fold “smart” phone. But the large failure that is the Q7F series of TVs has received little attention apart from the 30,31, 32 pages of complaints on Samsung’s community forum. Read on for a deeper dive into this roller coaster ride, which is still not over.*
On the surface, the Samsung Q7F series of televsions looks like a great, albeit expensive, product line. To this day, the product still rates 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com:
Anyway, the television was delivered in an acceptable time frame. Not the fastest, but acceptable. The picture quality was great. No complaints. It was a pretty smart TV. The story goes downhill after the break…
Leo Laporte and Chris Marquardt discuss some new and interesting uses for technology that deal directly with digital image creation and manipulation. The websites mentioned, This x does not exist, and This person does not exist, provide a creepy insight as to exactly how computers can create realistic images and information using a “GAN” (Generative Adversarial Network). I’m quite interested in the painting application that Chris discusses. I would like to see that in action. The video below starts at 56m25s, at the beginning of their conversation.
Listen to a bit of the video and check out the links for more info.
Just a quick post comparing a photo I took almost nine years ago with one I took this past weekend. We took a stroll from Epcot to the Swan and Dolphin and took a shortcut through Disney’s Boardwalk resort. After sampling a bit of the food from the International Festival of the Arts, we stopped off for a nice bite at the Big River Grille & Brewing Works. My first trip to the Swan and Dolphin was for a conference back in 2010.
The picture/camera quality is quite different between the two pics, with the new picture being much clearer and sharper, but there’s something about the lighting, the stillness and the sunset in the first picture that makes me prefer it.
So, what a year it’s been. My family and I have seen more change this year than ever before. In April of this year we started our trek south to central Florida. There have been so many ups and downs throughout the year, but I wouldn’t change anything.
It’s been a great change of climate! I do not miss the snow! And as of yet, I’m not tired of the heat. The hardest part? Missing our friends and family. However, there are just so many things to see and do around central Florida — and not just Disneyworld and Universal. I’ve had so much good food — and put on a little weight in the process. Here’s a sampling of some of the sights we’ve seen, some of things we’ve experienced, and maybe a few familiar faces from 2018:
(There might be a picture or two of some food in there too!)