Our oldest child is about to finish her first year of post secondary education. Because she is attending British Columbia Institute of Technology, there has been a good variety of in-class and remote learning happening. Her area of study is in film.
She has been enjoying all the different aspects of being behind the camera. She has had an introduction to filming, editing, sound, directing, and everything else involved. I love hearing about it all and how excited she is when she successfully accomplishes one of the tasks or projects. She has been putting in long hours and determination.
Yesterday she was learning how to use drones to create professional images and movies. Using drones may not be exciting to some, but these aren’t the little ones you buy at Walmart. Her class had a good day to test them out and these are a few photos she took.
Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, our daughter will be unable to take on any apprenticeships this summer. She is hoping that after next year things open up and she can utilize her skills in a more hands-on approach. BCIT has been good to her and her skill sets. I’m proud of what she has been doing so far and love to see her sense of accomplishment as her projects get completed.
Sometimes an event or day drags on. Some of us have work meetings that last forever. It feels like there is no escaping it.
Some meetings feel like lectures. Where one person speaks and everyone else just sits there listening. Like a classroom setting with a teacher. Everyone having to listen and pay attention in hopes that you don’t get called on to answer a question that you weren’t even paying attention to.
Now with online meetings, it’s worse. There are video conferences that have people just blankly following along. We can all see it. And we can all feel it. To break up the doldrums of the topic, subtle side messaging begins. Jokes and insults and off topic subjects start to come out. Anything at all to keep your sanity as watching the paint dry and dreaming of a place that doesn’t quite resemble hell enters your mind.
Then a sigh of relief when it ends. A renewed energy comes back into you as you realize the last five hours are time you cannot get back. Time that, even though you are paid to be there, feels wasted.
Back in the early 80’s my father had a wrist watch. I don’t remember what brand it was- either a Casio or Timex. I do remember the watch being digital with faux gold. He was really happy when he got it, showing it off to my mother and I. I was maybe five years old at the time, but I remember the feel of the metal strap and how it flexed.
Forty Years Later…
My wife bought me a Timex T80 for my birthday. But not just any Timex T80- the Fortieth Anniversary Pac-Man wrist watch T-80.
Timex came out with this watch last year to celebrate Pac-Man’s 40th Anniversary. This Timex T80 is a great combination of style and class. When I unboxed the gold watch and placed it on my wrist- I felt like my father did forty years ago.
I’m not a watch person. But the watch looks great and feels fantastic. I always wanted a Timex like this one. It was the perfect gift for me. My wife also remembered that I loved Pac-Man.
Besides a great retro look… my favorite bit of this watch is that it plays the Pac-Man theme when you press the top button!
Looking for a new house has me realizing that technology has come a long way. Especially when walking through brand new builds.
Many of us just accept the fact that TV’s have moved from a large cabinet piece on the floor to a picture frame on the wall. And that the image has grown exponentially in size and the sound is immersive. This is in every house.
But now we can buy a fridge with a touchscreen and camera built in. That way one can connect to see what groceries they may need while out shopping. Or there’s a stove you can turn on remotely as well. Plus a number of other small appliances with similar features.
We are one step closer to living like The Jetson’s. Essentially we are on the cusp- minus the flying cars and buildings in the sky. Everything else is becoming commonplace in a similar fashion.
Is it making life easier or making us lazier? I think it’s a bit of both. But it allows for us to find the free time to explore more about the world. We can enjoy the arts more, create more, and just live in the moment more often.
Technology has come a long way for how we live. At least we aren’t on the Oregon Trail dying from dysentery.
Today NASA is sharing a live feed of the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars. It has taken a decade of planning to get to this point. And there is no guarantee that it will go smoothly.
Approximately 60% of the trips to Mars have failed. That’s huge considering this next trip has cost $2.7 Billion. It is set to touch down at 12:55pm Pacific Time (15:55 Eastern). NASA is providing a live feed on their YouTube Channel starting at 11:15 Pacific Time (14:15 Eastern).
The information I read online about the final few minutes, dubbed “Seven Minutes of Terror” is:
“The Perseverance will plow into the Martian atmosphere at speeds reaching 12,100 mph (19,500 km/h) at 3:48 p.m. EST (12:48 p.m. PST). The ensuing Seven Minutes of Terror will involve extreme heat, the deployment of a supersonic parachute, and the rover’s separation from the heat shield and back shell. By the time it hits the dirt—with the assistance of retrorockets and tethers—Perseverance will have slowed down to a walking pace.”
So we could be witnessing a historical landing or absolute destruction involving billions of dollars of research. Either way- I’m excited to watch it. If the rover is successful in its landing- it will share images with us within moments of landing.
NASA has a live feed on YouTube leading up to these events: NASA if you wish to watch.
So you are probably reading my blog on your phone. Perhaps you were endlessly swiping up on your Facebook or Twitter feed and discovered the first line and an image of today’s post. Or maybe you subscribe via email and the little icon showed the inbox has a new message.
But are you going to read just a line or two before just scanning to the next thing? Probably. I do that it too. And I’ll scan through my feeds endlessly until I hit something that I recognized from the last visit to the social media app.
The I close my app. Just to open a different one. Until that gets boring also. The phone then goes away. Not for hours or days. But rather minutes. Until my brain thirsts for more “Social” sensations. And the cycle continues throughout my day. An endless consumption of stuff I don’t think I need to eat.
Thus the day ends. Unproductive except for all the useless fodder that fills a void that I somehow created. My social media fridge is filled with junk food that I gobble up. Leaving me feeling mentally bloated and lazy.
But that’s the way my life works. Holding my phone, keeping a keen eye on the battery level, all while using my pinky to balance my phone. With sound turned off and subtitles on- so as not to appear rude with my family in the same room as me.
Because they are doing the exact same thing. Consuming media content. Time to clean out the fridge.
2020 may be a lot of things to a lot of people. It has certainly been a unique journey. For my family and I- it has meant skyrocketing into the future.
My wife was already working for Shopify for a while before Covid restrictions came into play. She was working remotely and had a good handle on things like Zoom meetings and Google Docs. She was able to help out teenagers get used to the “new normal.”
This summer I got my first 3D printer. I have enjoyed printing a bunch of plastic stuff. All it takes is a file and a spool of filament to create something from almost nothing. It’s not just doing the printing, I’ve also enjoyed painting the items and adding mechanisms to create movement. Robotics and electronics have been brought back into my world after a near three decade hiatus.
This past weekend we entered a new level of futuristic lifestyles. For my wife’s birthday, I picked up an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset for her. Immersing oneself into the virtual worlds is mind boggling to say the least. From active games like Beat Saber to simply painting in a 3D world- this is possibly one of the greatest escapisms I have ever seen.
As the winter arrives and 2020 draws nearer to the end, I for one have enjoyed more of this year in captivity than I expected. We even adopted another dog- Maki who entered our lives right when we needed her to.
How do you feel about technology these days? Are we moving too fast, or too slow? Let me know in the comments.
Spotify released their regular update of what you have been listening to for the year. Since this was my first year of using Spotify- it was interesting to see what my style was.
Even though I knew my choice in music is eclectic- having it backed up with evidence proves my musical taste is odd.
I knew before this Spotify list came out what my number one song was. “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” is a great dance/disco/pop style of song. It ended up being one of my top five songs of the summer.
Even though that song was my number one song, I ended up having Gorillaz as my number one artist. I was also the top 1% of their listeners this year. One of my favorite songs was inductive of the feelings of coping through 2020:
“Calling the world from isolation ‘Cause right now, that’s the ball where we be chained And if you’re coming back to find me You’d better have good aim Shoot it true I need you in the picture That’s why I’m calling you (calling you)”
Watch the video here: Humility on YouTube. It’s a great song with vibrancy throughout. It also made me miss our yearly trip to California. Soon this Covid life will be in the past. But in the meantime, I’m going to see if I can keep enjoying 500 or more genres well into the next year.
What was your 2020 Wrapped? Share your playlist in the comments- I’d love to hear what you hear.
Today I am starting my 11 day vacation. I booked this time off in January as a “back-up” trip to Disneyland when I realized that July’s trip may get affected. And July’s trip did get affected. But so did my back-up dates. So now I am having a Staycation.
Today will be an ever increasing lazy day of sleeping and napping. Over the next few days the rest of my family still has school, online courses and work. I will have the freedom to do whatever I want. You know what that means…
That means time to get really invested in my 3D printing! Download files, prepare the files, print the files, curse that there is a failure, reprint the files, sand the print, paint the print, sand the print, paint, assemble the print, print another file, fail at that and reprint it… the list goes on. But I will have all the time in the world (or at least daylight hours) to work on my prints.
Since I am a Star Wars fan- I actually intend to print a life size droid. This week will give me a good jumpstart on my first one. I suspect it will take me the better half of the year to really get an R2 unit put together. So I may start with something smaller or easier. Yes- I plan on having a few droids built. Don’t tell my wife.
Having time for me is going to be nice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve really focused on what I want. Usually I put the family first and enjoy the ride. We will still hang out this weekend together, but during the week- that will be my time. Or rather, my 3D printer’s time.
My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.
For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.
It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?
I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.
I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.
You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.
Today it seemed that our wifi suddenly went spotty. No reason at all. It just decided to crap out and reconnect. I love being connected to the world, so those three minutes were really tough. There were also tough because they happened a few times.
Since getting Google Nest wifi we have rarely had issues. We also upgraded our internet plan a couple of weeks back in order to get us faster speeds and connect more devices. So it was strange that our wifi was choosing not to connect.
Restarts all around! All devices and routers. Seems like our problem was just as simple as Turning it off and on again.
Back in May 2018, I wrote about wanting a 3D Printer. 3D Printer Part 1: The Obsession It really did become an obsession. Where I joined numerous Facebook groups, watched tons of videos reviewing 3D printers, even got so far as putting one in my Amazon Cart. But I could never get myself to own one.
A few weeks back I was talking with my friend, Matt Harding about how I still want a 3D printer. Turned out he has a coworker that was also enjoying 3D printing. So much so that he owns numerous printers. His coworker also had one that he was kind enough to donate to me in order to fulfill my obsession.
I cannot thank my friend enough for his help in getting me a 3D Printer. I look forward to getting it running and attempting my first 3D Printing of… pretty much anything. Which will probably be a test print to level the bed.
But who cares? I now possess a 3D printer! Let’s get this thing making stuff!
Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.
It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.
I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.
Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.
My wife had Google Nest Wifi delivered to our home today. I thought for sure it would take a long time to set up. I was wrong. It took under 15 minutes including unboxing.
As usual, I was excited to have new tech in the house. My kids are stoked as well to have Google Assistant at their fingertips from almost anywhere in the house. We can also play music through the speakers in the WiFi Points.
We don’t have a Spotify, Youtube Music or Google Music account. So there wasn’t any option to really “skip” or choose songs. But I was able to choose a genre or style. I started by requesting Queen. Then moved on to Ska. And wow, I really enjoy Ska, who knew?
I’d be more excited about the idea that instead of saying “Ok Google” I could say “COMPUTER” like I am living in the Star Trek universe. But at least there’s some music to enjoy, and I love tech, maybe one day we will be closer to the Star Trek life.
Doing internet searches can have an unwanted side effect. The bots track what you search and cater “Ad Preferences” online. These bots are supposed to be clever and track your ip. I’ve run into something unique though on our home internet.
My wife works from home for an online company called Shopify. She is what they call a “Customer Success Guru”. She is often looking at people’s sites in order to assist them. This has created an adverse effect to our home internet. We are getting ads “catered” to us that have nothing to do with what we are really interested in. It also happens on our phones/ iPads when we connect to our house WiFi.
Now instead of just scrolling and ignoring regular ads, we have ads popping up in Facebook or Instagram that are completely whacky. I never knew there was so many plush toy, jewelry and led lights that people could buy. But the sex toys and lawn furniture had me worried that I was spending too much time looking at porn.
In the end, it’s kind of interesting that the online computer world doesn’t know what my interests are. Just some strange logarithm trying to cater sales to customers but failing miserably.
I’ve always loved computer animation. Back in 1982 “Tron” came out and changed the film industry. Shortly after was “The Last Starfighter” in 1984.
Then in the 1990’s, one of my favorite artsy styles of the animation came out with a mix of music and creativity- “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” showcased the future of computer animation. Shortly after- some of the scenes were used in “The Lawnmower Man”. This was a couple of years before “Toy Story”.
The late 90’s had “The Matrix” making people question reality. Side note: In 2003 I picked up a metallic holographic style poster for the sequel and had it framed.
Back in 2010, we enjoyed Flynn’s Arcade in Disneyland. A throwback of the arcade from the 80’s film “Tron” and a segue into the sequel.
The art style of computer animation has come a long way in four decades. Seeing some of the older shows proves how far film has gotten.
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.
Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.
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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
“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.
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!
I have always loved Dystopian Future stories, shows, and movies. Books such as “1984” and “A Handmaid’s Tale” were great reads and I wrote a bit about it here: Dystopian Life.
Movies like “The Matrix” , “Brazil” , “Blade Runner” and even “The Fifth Element” show a technological gritty society. Always gloomy and wet with momentary rays of sunshine that bring forth a quick smile on one of the characters. I’m currently in the process of watching “Altered Carbon” on Netflix. Darker than most dystopian shows, but still very riveting.
Here we are, on the cusp of the new millennium, and I feel we are already in a Dystopian world. I drive into Vancouver for work and home again- a dreary wet world stuck in traffic. My vehicle’s dashboard has a screen showing me the radio station I am listening to or I can switch to navigation or many other options. My cellphone connects through my car as well. I can use voice commands to send and read messages or actually talk to people. My car warns me if I’m too close to another car or if one is in my blind spot.
That’s just my drive home. At home, my phone controls the music and media I play in three different areas around the house. Music from anywhere in the world can pump through my home. Nearly every electronic device can be connected. My wife has a Fitbit and it watches her heart rate and counts her steps. It connects to her cellphone and connects with other people as well.
So yes, I think we live in a Dystopian world. The future is now. Rain and technology- that’s my daily life.