Emotional for Electronics

At work I was having a discussion about old electronics and if you can have an emotional attachment to them. My coworker’s wife says she is emotionally attached to her old tv. Now this isn’t some retro 60’s or even 80’s tv. It’s a run of the mill plasma tv from a decade ago. The type of tv that can be upgraded to a larger screen and higher hd quality for a couple hundred dollars. But she wants to keep the tv and my coworker doesn’t understand the emotional attachment she has for it. But I can *almost* relate.

I asked my coworker what about an old Nintendo or an N64? He said those are okay to have sentimental attachments to because they bring back nostalgic memories. But an iPhone 5 that you played Angry Birds on for hours- that’s a throw away electronic device like a tv.

So at what point does something generate a value or desire to be kept if it’s no longer used or obsolete?

I feel it is more what the owner associates with the item. I went through numerous cassette players and CD players in my life- yet I have grown a fondness to my daughter’s record player. I sometimes think about an old telephone alarm clock my parents had back in the 80’s and the sound of it ringing- but I would never want it now. But I still have memories of it. I have an upright arcade machine that only goes on four or five days a year, but I’m not ready to part with it.

In the end I figure if you like your device and can’t part with it- keep it and don’t let someone tell you that you’re wrong. Sometimes an emotional bond is created and is tough to severe.

Elite Achievement Unlocked

Yesterday I hit another milestone on WordPress. I’m really proud of myself and also can’t believe it. I hit 1337 days in a row of writing!

Amazing! When I first started, I didn’t imagine that I’d have three and a half years of daily writing in me. But here we are. A bunch of thoughts and stories out there in the interwebs as I try and navigate this universe. Hence the title of my blog, Making It Up As I Go.

Maybe I’m inspirational at times. Sometimes I’m sharing how I parent with the accomplishments and challenges the three kids of ours bring forth. I try and be positive as often as possible. Sometimes my baggage gets shared, but I find it a great way to work through emotional turmoil. It makes me a better person to get it out rather than having a pit inside me fester and rot.

1337

I hope everyone who reads and follows along has enjoyed my musings over the past 1337 posts. I feel ELITE having made is this far. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Internet Rabbit Hole

When the Internet first took off in my life it was… slow. With emails and text based websites being all that was available. By my mid twenties it was getting faster. This brought on FLASH animation and a genre of uselessness. As animation got better and the Internet expanded, actual videos were beginning to surface along with YouTube.

Yearning for faster download speeds and better quality images also happened. Upgrading computer video and sound cards became a frequent habit. With these upgrades came “The Void.” The bad habit of viewing anything and everything sucking you into a Rabbit Hole which was hard to break free from.

Long nights and obsessive behaviors took over. Mouse clicks and search engines. Wasted time. Sharing links in order to have your friends follow suit. Then came Smart Phones. Take the addiction with you…

Maybe I’m a bit cynical looking back on the advancements. Some of it is uselessness showcasing as “informative”. I’ve found that if there’s something you want to search out, chances are it’s in the World Wide Web. From bits of song lyrics to the benefits of eating dirt, or building an oversized Nerf Gun to buying a deed to some land on the moon. There’s is a vast uselessness available to be consumed.

Uselessness is one way to describe it all. But it’s also entertaining. Going online sparks the imagination and encourages us to travel, eat healthier, and exercise more. I can’t imagine a world without the Internet. Nor can I imagine an Internet world that is heavily policed and controlled- but I know it is. Someone, somewhere is saving us from ourselves while still manipulating what we purchase.

I think this blog post spiraled out of control. Time to end it. Until tomorrow when I’ll likely discuss my life again.

Scrolled Life

Sometimes I scroll through the photos on my phone to find a great image or two for my blog. My days off or vacations are filled with tons of pictures. As I slide the bar along the bottom of my pictures, I see the images forming a film strip “Stop Motion” of my memories.

I must’ve spent a good hour last night “Rewinding” through my memories. When I got my first video iPod back in 2006 it did the same thing but with the click wheel. Back in 2006 this feature reminded me of a scene from The Last Starfighter. I love how life imitates art in many ways.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was using tablet computers back in the early 90’s. Nowadays everyone has one- even kids. I love how humanity keeps moving forward in their tech. Even back in the late 80’s I remember news reports of electric cars and the constraints that came with them. Now these types of cars are everywhere.

I’m waiting for VR and augmented reality to be more prevalent in our lives. Perhaps one day I’ll be scrolling through my memories by waving my hand in the air.

Or the chip implanted in my brain will project from my mechanical eye and show my memories in a hologram form.

Whatever the future tech holds- I’m sure I’ll be happy with it and it’ll all be the new normal.

Unassuming Funday

My day yesterday was filled with meeting up with friends while in Calgary. It was fun and magical in many ways.

First was a lunch with a friend of ours we originally met at the Calgary Expo eight years ago. He and I shared stories of our kids, work and caught up on life. It was different this time around because we weren’t at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo having a weekend of laughs in between sales. It was a condensed, pleasurable, laugh riot meal.

Before dinner, we went to the Skyline Luge again. This time we brought my wife and met up with some other Speed Skaters from Langley. It was a laugh riot, again! My wife really enjoyed it and in the end was upset that I had already done this earlier in the week without her.

Afterwards, we went to visit our other friends again (these were the ones we met up with earlier in the week at Gorilla Whale). This time we met up at the their home. We were introduced to a large stuffed shark that tried the devour two of my kids. Later we fooled around with the Occulus Quest. The first quality VR to not need a big computer or extra wiring. It has a life span of 2hrs, which we fully used up.

It was also great to see my wife immerse herself into the game system. My wife hadn’t tried any VR like the rest of us did three years ago when we went to Silcon Valley (read about it here: Button Mashing). Unfortunately, now she wants one. We’ll see what happens in the future- maybe the excitement will wear off.

Or maybe she’ll be escaping into a whole new environment.

Record Breaking Sound

As I mentioned previously in my blog posts, we listen to a lot of music. We also listen to it in a variety of means. Online streaming to the radio; mp3 to CDs; cassettes and records. All of which have a variance in their quality and enjoyment. My favorite as of late is listening to our daughter’s record player.

First, we started listening to some of my wife’s and my old record collection. Rick Astley, Michael Jackson, ABBA, Village People, etc… Then we moved on to listening to some of our classical music and collections of dance songs. Lots of great stuff.

We have discovered that old records are readily available at our local thrift shops and music stores. Many of these used albums price between $2 and $5. I was happy to pick up an original Star Wars album for cheap. The record was in great shape even if the cover was not. For the price of a couple songs on iTunes- we are now branching out to hear a variety of very interesting renditions of some classic songs.

The current album of choice on rotation at this time is the Mexicali Brass. A truly wonderful style that feels like it belongs on a record. I could not imagine it played through iTunes. Hearing a record pop and hiss adds to the auditory sensations. There’s a certain randomness to the sound you can’t recreate digitally. Every spin of the record is slightly different from the last.

What form of music to you enjoy? Are you an audiophile with some tips?

Let me know in the comments.

Honda Element Keyless Entry Install

We’ve had our Honda Element since 2003 when the first model came out. We picked up a mid price range Element EX in five speed manual transmission. A fantastic crossover suv with hardly any issues. The only thing that became bothersome over the years was the door locks.

Having the key stop working to unlock the doors began within the first couple years. Twice the dealership repaired the locks at no charge. I guess it’s a known issue for Hondas. Eventually we just became accustomed to not locking the car or restoring to crawling in through the trunk. I’m too old for that. Time to see about a keyless entry for the vehicle.

Last week I went to one of those car audio places to see about getting a keyless entry installed. Cheapest unit and time was going to cost me $500. Ugh. Time to search the interwebs. I found a couple of videos on YouTube of people who had figured out how to install the keyless entry. I picked up a genuine Honda part on Amazon and had it arrive at my home two days later.

I came home from work yesterday and picked up the mail to discover the package. Alright, Amazon is pretty awesome. After watching videos of other people installing this part, I figured I could hammer it out before dinner.

Reading online and watching videos saying that it can be installed in five minutes meant the challenge was on. I hit my stopwatch from the moment I opened the car door to the time it took to install the part and put everything back.

2 Minutes 23 Seconds.

We can now lock and unlock our door. Best $140 I have spent in a long time. The part had a spot all ready for it. Now I see why people love owning Hondas. Our Element is essentially the same as a CRV with many of the same parts interchangeable. Keeping costs way down on repairs.

I’m happy again with the car. Now to possibly upgrade the stereo!

Check out last year’s Camperizing a Honda Element or a couple of years ago where we couldn’t decide if we should Repair it or Replace it.

A Day Off Together

My wife took a day off work today to spend time with me. She’s going out of town this weekend. (Our son has a Speed Skating competition in Northern BC.) I figured we’d have some nice quality time together.

First, she woke up and helped the kids get ready for school. I then drove them to school. When I returned home, I made us a lovely breakfast of bacon wrapped asparagus with poached eggs. So far our day was off to a great start.

Outside, the sun was shining brightly. Best avoid it and play video games. My wife and I played on the Nintendo Switch in our dark theater room for about three and a half hours.

It was a ton of fun lounging on the couch in our pajamas until one in the afternoon. Ya, I drive my kids to school in my pjs. Not like I have to get out of the car. In fact, sometimes I go shopping in my pjs. I’ve even gone to work like that in the past. Comfort wins out over fashion sense.

My wife gets very animated when playing video games. After an intense round, match or level- she usually flails her arms. She tries to grab at me, pinch or punch my arms in frustration if she loses. Today I earned quite a few bruises.

It’s all in good fun mind you. I’m often laughing at her failures in the games. So I do kind of deserve her little attacks.

I’m going to miss her this weekend. But at least it will give me time to heal. And practice at our games.

Retro Gaming Feel

Over the weekend, I set up a little area near our front door in order to play video games.

Over Christmas we received the NES and the SNES Minis. We had an old 20″ RCA tv that we were using for a computer monitor. I decided to mount it on the wall and connect the game systems.

The tiny alcove reminds me of the look on a basement from the 1970’s/early 1980’s. The perfect little spot to enjoy some retro gaming. It may sound odd, but it works. It’s also a good little spot to hideout, but still be central in the home.

Now when one of our kids are ready to go out before anyone else, they can occupy their time playing a game. It’ll help keep them out of the way and out of trouble.

Hopefully.

Not Socializing on Social Media

Last night as I lay in bed watching Netflix I was also browsing for nothing in particular on my smartphone (or should we just call it a phone now since most of us have one?). I don’t know what I was looking for. But it started and ended with Facebook.

First was a rabbit hole of videos. Everything from Fail Compilations to Wood Carving. Many of which I have seen before on these late night journeys of nothingness. Then I decided to try looking up former coworkers and schoolmates that I am not “Friends” with currently. Why? I have no idea.

Credit:Bizarro Comics

Do I need to pad my online self worth with people I once knew? Was it a deeper connection I desired with these strangers? I stopped myself before I began sending “Friend Requests”. I’ve come to realize that I have some great friends on Facebook. Ones who do share with me quite often even though we don’t see each other outside of social media.

I have also turned into the type of person that rarely comments on posts because I don’t want to offend. So my opinion remains curtailed and I lay dormant and quiet. Which is probably why I watch those videos. There is no interaction required. Just mind numbing useless videos that make me feel inadequate (I cannot turn wood into beautiful works of art) or I feel righteous (because of watching people fail at life doing stupid stunts).

The Fear of missing out prevents me from just abandoning social media all together. Maybe it’s time to reassess my reasons for staying on board. I’ve stopped using Twitter and Pinterest. I was never into Reddit. I enjoy Instagram because I love seeing the beauty in the world. But Facebook? No idea why I’m still going back. Sometimes I see a success story from a friend’s feed that makes me smile. Is it those moments that I crave?

I have a buddy that I have been friends with since kindergarten in the early 80’s. He has zero social media presence. He never did either. He and I are still in contact through text messages and calls on a regular basis. We meet up every few months and it feels like we never separated. I have a couple other friends like this. But I need more of those types of friends.

As I flip flop through deciding to abandon the social networking all together, I have to look at what’s important to me. Seeing success stories makes me happy. Using social media to keep up with technology and entertainment is also useful. Seeing hatred and misinformation spread is not.

Maybe it’s time for me to take my Month Long Break again.

Screen Time Stats

My iPhone updates me every week about my “Screen Time”. I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning. Curiosity had me examining it more closely.

These are my stats for this week. 29+ hours staring at my phone. More than one entire day this week. “Social Networking” took half of this. Granted, I’d like to think that it’s because of Christmas and New Year’s and my desire to see how friends are doing. But I fear that number may be closer to reality than I want to admit. I spend more time watching videos and reading memes than seeing how my friends are really doing. On average I spent two hours per day on various social media.

Four and a half hours were spent on “Productivity”. WordPress took up a little over two hours. While calculator, email, and banking took up the rest. What surprised me was “Creativity” was so low. Meaning I wasn’t taking or editing photos very much this week.

Since I have now seen some of these stats and paid more attention to them, I think it’s time to adjust my focus. The iPhone allows me to set daily limits on everything. For now, I am slashing my social media time in half. Perhaps this will make me focus more on “Creativity”.

Putting down the phone is something my wife would like us to do as a family more often. We tend to eat meals without the phone, but once that’s done- out come the devices. Same when we are watching tv or movies. Not a lot of interaction with one another. I’d like to see what my wife’s and daughter’s stats are this week. Maybe as a family we can work together to knock down our screen time usage.

Have you ever looked at your device stats? Does it make you want to change?

Computer Calculus

Back in October, our oldest had saved up money and bought herself a New Computer. She has been very proud of it and has taken extra care with it. Over the past few weeks, she has been using it for a school project.

The project was for her Pre-Calculus class. She had to enter formulas to plot out lines and curves on a graph to make a symbol. While many students chose much easier symbols, our daughter (who loves the tv show Supernatural) chose a much more intricate design. After weeks and hours of working on perfecting the equations, she is finally done. She also finished before her deadline which is the end of January. I am impressed because of her passion in the project, and mostly because she had to explain something to me that I didn’t have a clue about.

She has demonstrated that she is capable of a great many things throughout her life. Now that she has finished this project, she has been wanting us to pay for Adobe Photoshop for her. Part of the deal was to make sure she doesn’t fall behind in school work for a hobby. I think this Calculus assignment has proven to us that she can be committed to her word.

We look forward to seeing what she can do with Photoshop and her photography. My wife would like her to clean up some of our photos as well. Our daughter has also hinted at writing more music, only time will tell. But I’m glad to see she is far exceeding my abilities in computing.

Package Deal

Today, we had to pick up a couple of parcels. The one we picked up in the USA was quick and easy. There was even free shipping for it. We have a PO Box with a small fee for them to hold the parcel until we pick it up. Just like many Canadians who live near the border. Crossing the border between Canada and America is usually smooth.

The other package was delivered up the road from our home to the Post Office. Even though our local post office line is relatively short these days, it doesn’t mean that other locations aren’t busy. A part of me wishes we lived in the USA- their postal system is more convenient, inexpensive and reliable.

Canada Post is finally moving packages. After much frustration while the workers fought for better wages and work hours- it seems that many packages sent out now won’t make the Christmas deadline. Adding to the frustration of Canadians.

In a world of electronic billing, free Amazon deliveries, and instant communication it makes Canada Post quite the dinosaur when it comes to the world these days.

Old Tech Memories

Every night I plug my iPhone into the charging cord beside my bed. The cord often falls to the floor so I have to pick it up in order to place my iPhone on my bedside table. The other night I grabbed the wrong cord. A cord I didn’t know I still had.

We haven’t had a landline in about four years. Ever since our oldest finished grade seven. At that time, we had a set of four cordless phones that all connected at one location- our bedroom. When we ditched the landline, I simply unplugged the phone. Over the past few days, I’ve been pulling stuff out from under our bed for Christmas. I guess the cord got caught and came out and I hadn’t noticed it.

There are plenty of images out there along the lines of “Remember corded phones?” I remember. When I was little, we had a rotary phone. I remember them in other people’s homes as well. Then push button ones. And really long cords to reach from one room to another.

In the mid 80’s we got our first cordless phone. I thought it was the greatest thing ever! It had one of those telescopic antennas that you could push down when you were finished the call. Except for the antenna- which eventually got bent and snapped off- the phone was extremely durable and aerodynamic! It flew across the room at my younger sister a couple of times.

Phones have come a long way since they were first invented. I’m using my phone to write this blog post. I listen to music, take photos and watch videos every day as well on my iPhone. Crazy.

The coolest thing a kid/teen could have in the 80’s was a Ghetto Blaster with a black and white tv built in. Man, did I ever want one of those. I guess I have to settle with having the world at my fingertips as an adult instead. I wonder what inventions my kids would wish they owned when they grow up?

Did you have any memories like this, or did you own one of those Blasters? Please share.

Cyber Bully Monday

Maybe I just have a weak point in my brain and ego. But I got sucked into purchasing on Cyber Monday again this year. I feel as if society has bullied me into being a consumer whore. Buying up stuff on sale whether I need it or not.

Of course I couldn’t help but check out the deals on Amazon. Honestly, there’s always something I could buy. I think the Internet gods are watching over me a bit too closely and catering to my desires. Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, YouTube, etc… all show me things I want. I think they are watching me closely. One day I think Cyberdyne will be real. Wait, what? Moving right along…

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who took a shot at how wonderfully awful warehouse shipping centers can be. Even in the future where robots deliver packages the same day, there’s something both alarming and intriguing about this. For now I have to suffer with free two day shipping. No instant gratification quite yet like going to a store and braving a sea of people.

So ya.

I bought something online first thing this morning. A part of me is excited about it. And a part of me loathes myself for it. Too late now. I clicked on the check out and my item is being processed!

KERBLAM!

What To Give?

This is the first year that my wife and I are having a tough time figuring out Christmas gifts for our kids. It’s rather unusual for us.

We usually buy gifts throughout the year and stockpile a pretty good haul for the family. But this year we did more spending on experiences for the family. So our usual Christmas stockpile is lacking.

The kids are too old for toys. So we’ve cut that out. Of course LEGO is still popular, so there may be a box or two under the tree. We also used to buy movies- DVDs then Blu-Ray films. But with streaming on Netflix or any other device doesn’t require a physical disc. It’s the same with video games. Just download onto a device and play. Nothing to unwrap.

Maybe we need to focus on more experiences. The ones that create memories that last a lifetime. Our kids love our vacations. But travel can be expensive for a family of five.

But how do you wrap an experience for under the tree? They also love creating art and sharing art. Just over a month for my wife to figure this out.

August Break

A couple of years ago, I took the month of August off from social media. I did it last March as well. I just randomly choose a month and avoid Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I usually end up “going dark” when I realize that I’m checking my iPhone far too frequently. Or if I notice my family and friends are obsessing over their phones as well. Sure, we all take a moment when on the toilet to watch a video… but in a social setting- it should be time to interact with those around you. (Using a public washroom doesn’t count as a social setting- just saying.)

I’m also choosing August as a time for a break from social media because for the second half of the month I will be enjoying the great outdoors. I’m taking a couple of my kids to a cabin with a friend of mine for a week, followed by a week of camping in one of my favorite spots in BC- Twenty Mile Bay.

You can’t tell me that relaxing with your feet up on an inflatable raft in the middle of a peaceful lake staring off into the mountains isn’t good for the soul.

The same way our electronics need a recharge- so do our minds. A chance to unplug is good for everyone.

Le Sigh

I know most of my friends won’t care that I am not on social media for the month. In fact they may be relieved because I tend to share, like, and comment quite frequently. Of course, during the month of August I still have to do work, pay bills, etc… I’m not disappearing from the Internet all together- I am still going to be writing everyday.

My blog automatically shares on social media. But while I’m out doing things with the family- I may not have internet access. Which is totally fine with me. It just means when my blogs do get posted, they may be a few days later.

So if you follow along, please bear with my posts as they may not come everyday. But you may get bombarded with a couple each day when I return to the technological era.

Data Hogs

A few days ago, my cellular provider informed me that we were about to reach our data limit. Actually, I was notified on July 20th and our data cycle resets August 3rd… I could not figure out how this was possible, since for months we barely hit our allotment. Between four iPhones, we share 12GB.

I checked our usage and found the culprits. Our youngest daughter had gone through over 5GB on her own in under three weeks. While our oldest had only used about 800MB. My wife had used 1GB. I had used over 4.5GB.

A story of two sisters who are very different data users:

Our oldest keeps her phone on airplane mode most of the time. She also has it set up to connect to WiFi all the time. She has conditioned herself to only go on social media when on WiFi as well which keeps her data usage low. She’s been doing this for a few years now- since her first phone.

Our youngest daughter has no concept of how much she uses her phone. She also doesn’t pay attention to whether she is on WiFi or not. This summer, she hasn’t been anywhere that requires her to be online. Turns out, while she was in our backyard sharing Instagram pictures and watching YouTube, she was never connected to our WiFi. She had been using data the entire time. And watching videos in full HD. I had to have a little talk with her about this and hopefully she will correct her behavior.

My wife works from home and hardly uses data. She likes to do comparison shopping in real-time when we are out. She does still play Pokémon Go and only checks social media when bored. I tend to use data far more frequently. I’ve always hovered around the 4GB range. But I use my phone for work quite often. Checking email, looking at maps, connecting with coworkers, that sort of thing. I also use social media a lot. That’s my crutch.

So for the past few days, I have shut off all data access to everyone. The biggest results I have found is that iMessage only works on WiFi now and Siri can’t figure out how to make a handsfree call when I drive. These are things I can live without for a couple more days. As we discuss as a family how to move forward with our shared data plan.

This could be interesting…

Please feel free to share any tips or advice on limiting our data consumption. I’m sure there are ways to still enjoy the cyber world…

Sound Off

Today I was going through my iPhone and changing up some ringtones and sounds. Life is too dull with only having the default sound effects set up. I would like to say that I often change up my ringtones, but it’s more like once a year. Usually my phone is on silent/vibrate. But lately I’ve been wanting to hear it again.

I realized that the ringtones I have are from movies, video games, and some of my favorite songs. After years of using these themes, I still like to hear them. Pretty sure that subconsciously, when others hear my ringtones, it brings up feelings and memories. I know that a couple of weeks ago, when I was using the ringtone from “Episodes” it caught people’s attention. Mostly because it is a very irritating theme. Also, I was getting a lot of phone calls, so even I was getting irate.

I guess that this is what makes life a bit more interesting. Sound effects are everywhere. But we become so accustomed to them that they get filtered out. I sometimes add my own from my mouth just for fun. Nothing like singing a line from a song before answering the phone. “Who can it be now?” Or yelling out “Boom” as you hit enter on on email.

These are my current sounds. I love the Disney Turnstile beep. It’s one of those sounds that you hear in Disneyland all the time, but ignore.

I’m always on the hunt for new sounds/songs. What do you have set for your phone?

Passwords

All this computer security stuff irks me. Especially PASSWORDS. Seriously- who would want to hack me?

Today I was trying to log into an online account and I could not remember the password. Then it dawned on me- I was using the wrong email address! That was dumb.

Yesterday at work, I needed to access a program that I hadn’t used in months. Because of this- it locked me out and I had to reset my password to gain access again. It didn’t take very long to fix.

Even worse at work is that they make us reset our passwords every so often. I have also had to reset my password on other sites/apps and I always forget what it is. Especially when I only log in every so often or rarely at all. Then I’ll request an email to get a reset my password, only to discover that I can’t use the same password! Holy hell.

But you can’t make the password simple. It should be different for every site/app/program. Or so they say. I have a couple of “Go To” passwords. But with variations such as capitals, numbers, symbols… I often forget which variation I used.

If I didn’t have my WordPress app set up to log on, I have no idea if I could remember my password. Same with most of my social media apps. As long as my phone doesn’t die, get lost or stolen- you’ll continue to hear from me.

No, that doesn’t mean I want you to steal my phone!

Enjoying Fallout

Last night my son and I began playing Fallout 4 on PS4. Ya I know the game is already 3 years old, but it’s new to us. As I mentioned back in January in Father/son Video Game Day, we finally got a PlayStation 4 for Christmas. We have been slowly adding to our library of games. A game such as Fallout 4 that has been around for a few years is generally inexpensive to purchase. So, we now own it.

Since we only just began playing the game and it is a one player, first person shooter, my son has taken most of the control of the character. I have sat on the sidelines offering advice and asking questions. It surprised my son that I know so much about the game. I had to explain to him that most games like this are formulaic. They follow a set style which makes it more natural to pick up and begin playing.

What sets apart each game are a few key features. Storyline, characters, settings, graphics (these increase in quality over the years), sound effects, and music. Fallout 4 surprised me in this last area. Where most games of this style (shooters) usually boast either no music or go heavy metal/industrial, Fallout 4 does not. Instead, because it is a post-apocalyptic theme, the soundtrack is rockabilly/ bluesy songs from the 1930’s-1960’s. It comes through their mock radio station- Diamond City Radio.

This music playlist really sets the tone of the game for me. I have already fallen in love with it after only playing for about an hour. The use of music in the storyline really sets the narrative. I am looking forward to many more hours of gameplay. With my son at the controls of course… because I suck at gaming nowadays. I miss my blocky running dude from the early 80’s.

My Technology Is Listening to Me… And Getting It Wrong.

Last night I tried to tell my son Theory that I loved him. Because that’s what you do when it’s time to say goodnight. I just tried to say it all cool like. You know, just kind of throw it out there.

“Hey Theory.”

“I love you.”

Aww. Easy Dad speak to a 12 year old son, right? Not according to the phone in my pocket. She answered me suddenly after a beep:

Aw man. What should’ve been a simple response from my son, “love you too” turned into a mean statement from my iPhone. I then began to ask Siri if she could pronounce “Theory”. Then I asked her to pronounce “Siri”. Then I asked her to find my son. So she did:

You see, my technology listens to me. Even when I don’t want it to.

Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes it doesn’t.

3D Printer- Part 1: The Obsession

I’ve been wanting to buy a 3D Printer for a few years now. I even became convinced that I could justify its existence in my life. Hey honey- Looks like I’ll need to reprint more flower pots! I’ll have that ready in about a week. But why don’t I just hit the Home Depot and spend $2 on some?

Once I almost spent some money on a pancake printer! What the heck is wrong with me? I know- it’s the excitement of making something out of almost nothing is kinda cool. Just an image in a program, some heated plastic and a few hours later- there it is: a plastic replica of something.

3D Printers have gotten better lately. After years of obsessing, studying and watching every video review- I think it may be time to get one. The model I want is the CR-10. It looks like a good printer with good reviews and a decent price point. My only worries- I’ll get bored and have an expensive paperweight or it will end up as annoying as a regular printer.

You know what I’m talking about. The paper printer at work that randomly stops working. Or the printer at home that refuses to print in black and white because one of the ink toners is low. I imagine that it could get frustrating partway through a 3D print only to have it flake out towards the end. Troubleshooting things like that are the part that makes me leery about going too cheap.

But hey, maybe I could print off my own 3D money in the end!

Treat Yo’ Self

On Friday I decided to buy a new iPhone for myself. I was really bad with my last phone. The 6+ was too big. I broke the screen 3 times (four if you count the pixel lines that appeared down the side). It pissed me off one time that I had to write about how stupid I was: Aw Dang. I never broke my iPhone 4! I treated that thing like gold. I took some Parks & Rec advice:

Since we are going on a trip I don’t want a piece of poop iPhone with a broken screen or dying battery to try and make memories with. I wanted something that works. Convincing my wife was easy… I had to buy her one as well.

This time around I bought the phone in white. Last year I mentioned how I associate white cars with Luxury so I figured, maybe I should do the same with my iPhone. I should be able to treat it better now. It’s smaller and easier to see. It feels slick and clean as I type today’s blog post. I had to spoil myself for my birthday…

I’m also excited to utilize some of the new features available for video and photos. I’m going to force my children to participate in some fun while we are gone!

I love my new phone.

WiFi

I can’t live without technology. Over the past 15+ years, I also can’t live without access to the internet!

Ya I know I could “live” without it. But it has become an integral part of my daily life. In fact, once I got a smartphone- I have been unable to remain offline for extended periods. I’ve come to terms with this. I do however know when not to go online or use my smartphone; for example- driving.

Since the world is connected and Google is everywhere- I figured that our trip out of the country to Japan would require some sort of access to the World Wide Web. After speaking to some people at work who have been to Japan recently, I came to the conclusion that access to Google would be a necessity.

I’ve been using Google Maps on my computer and my iPhone for the past few months studying up on Tokyo. I’ve been trying to get my bearings of where we are staying in relation to the various sights. I’ve already printed directions and train times for each day. But I know that I will also need access to a live map periodically.

Having access to “Google Translate” also seems like a great idea. Since none of us speak Japanese- nor can we read it- having quick translations both written and in speech will be handy. Knowing my personal limitations when it comes to other languages and cultures is humbling to say the least.

It all comes down to the question, “How am I going to access the Internet abroad while on the go?” I had a couple of options:

The first was to fork over $12/day on my personal cellphone to “Roam Like Home“. The second option was to get a SIM card or a “Burner Phone” and pay as I go for the twelve days we are there. But the option I liked best was “Pocket WiFi“. This is $7/day and I can connect up to 10 devices. This will also allow my wife and children unlimited access to the internet as we travel around Tokyo.

This option seemed like a no-brainer. I pre-ordered the Pocket WiFi from Econnect and it will be delivered to our hotel the day we arrive. I had the option to pick up at the airport, but it was on the far side of the airport at the Domestic Terminal. I have decided that we will try and manage a 15 minute train ride from the airport to our hotel without use of technology. This may end up being the longest 15 minutes of my life as I stress about what stop we are getting off at and which way to walk afterwards.

The benefits of having WiFi in a foreign country won’t make me feel so nervous. It’s a common ground that most of the civilized world understands. Who knows, after this trip I may try and venture further out of my comfort zone.