Facebook – Epic FAIL

fakebookWhen it happened, I didn’t know I was part of a movement or that I was protesting anything. I just quit Facebook because it was an epic fail for me.

Reactions varied. When I told people that I had gotten rid of my social media account, the responses ranged from incredulous (“But everyone has Facebook!”) to simply curious (“How do you stay in touch with people?”). One of my co-workers, though, told me that he was thinking of quitting, too, and he pointed me to some website where tons of people were pledging to quit Facebook with the same zeal and determination that drivers pledge to quit texting and driving. Huh.

Without knowing it, I had done something that’s a bit of a trend.

As a computer game developer and someone who cares about the environment, I don’t care much about trends. I leave that to the teenagers and hipsters who seem to inhabit every café in Oakland. I’m not even sure how I feel about being trendy. If that’s the price I need to pay, though, I’m still going through with it. Since getting away from Facebook, I’ve discovered too many benefits:

  1. Time is no longer a black hole. If anyone had asked me a year ago how much time I spent on Facebook, I would honestly have said “not much.” Well, call me Pinocchio because it must have been a lot more than I had thought. Without Facebook, I suddenly have more time to hit the gym, get a little creative on date night, or even catch a few extra hours of sleep.
  2. I’m suddenly doing real stuff. And it turns out that checking my iPhone for updates is not as much fun as hiking along the ocean, picking up a guitar, or going for a jog. Who would have guessed it?
  3. My friends are suddenly real. There’s a reason they call it FAKEBOOK. Once I quit, I never heard from some of my online friends again. Last week, though, some of my real friends showed up with wine and food for a cookout.  Sharing stories over food and guitar? Yes, please.
  4. I don’t feel like crap. Ok, my life is pretty good, but Facebook sure is not designed to make you feel better. Looking at all those photos of everybody having an amazing, perfect life online makes me compare my life to theirs, and that’s not something I need.  Facebook is about as realistic as glossy tabloids. And I don’t read them, either.
  5. I worry less about social media fallout. Whenever I hear about someone who accidentally posted pants-less pictures of themselves online or lost a job because their Facebook was filled with pictures of them smoking up and giving the one-finger salute, I roll my eyes. It’s 2014, how do we not know how to use social media without posting way too much information about ourselves? Still, with Facebook posts ending marriages, wrecking lawsuits, and losing people jobs, I don’t want to take the risk. Now, I don’t have to.

I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon and quit all social media – or live in a cabin in the woods to get away from technology. I’m not penning a Luddite manifesto with a pen crafted from twigs. I’m just bringing a breath of fresh air into my life by getting rid of something that was a fail for me anyway. No more annoying updates, inane comments, or trying to get a picture just to post it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a life to go lead.


Sisyphus – The Modern Computer Game Developer

computer-developerThere is no question that the computer gaming industry has become an amazing one, producing products that literally allow people and players to immerse themselves for hours and hours in imagination. Unfortunately, the industry is also very fickle, demanding new products almost immediately after a current one is released. Ergo the life of the game developer is a bitter one, never producing enough of a product to gain a proper amount of rest or relief.

Constant Upgrading

Just release a video game is not enough. Particularly with online games, regular updates and changes are needed. Fixes need to be implemented to deal with new bugs and fixes, closing down loopholes that some players are taking advantage of, hacks that compromise customers’ accounts, and general improvement of the game with periodic changes. Boredom is the biggest enemy of any company that relies on video gamers to keep coming back, so change is the best way to keep things interesting. Continue reading

Turning over a new LEAF

myleafGiven my concerns with our environment, I have always entertained the idea of owning a purely electric vehicle. Despite my noble intentions, I was always put off by the practical limitations of the technology. The way I saw it was that these vehicles seemed to have problems with range and speed, or had the prospect of repair bills that would eat my bank balance alive.

Still, the Universe conspired and I stumbled upon the Nissan Leaf. Suddenly everything had changed. Here was something that seemed to have moved technology on enough to address my reservations. So now, after having become the proud owner of the latest in planet saving automobile technology, what are my first impressions of the car?

A lot of the information below was written by my good friend Chris, who helps write for one of the larger printed auto magazines as well as Garage Tool Advisor. When I first sat behind the wheel of the Leaf I was immediately struck by its high-tech layout, it ‘felt’ like something entirely new. Of course it is still a car with most of the important controls in the place where you would expect to find them. I still have a steering wheel to turn and pedals to move and stop. The gear shift lever is a bit strange though and takes some getting used to, more like a roller ball that you use to select forward and reverse. There is no motor and transmission in the traditional sense, instead an electric motor drives the front axle directly. This configuration is powered by a large battery pack, the same lithium ion type you will find in your laptop computer only much, much bigger… but I digress.

After orientating myself with characteristics of the Leaf’s unconventional drive arrangement, it was time to get out on the highway. The first thing I notice is the lack of noise, there really isn’t any. Gone are the sounds of the motor revving or the whining and clunking of the transmission.

The electric motors provide the car with instant power and torque on demand. No lag here or jerky gear changes to disturb what feels like extremely potent acceleration. Later I consult the blurb and discover the Leaf has an impressive 0-60 mph figure of around 9 seconds. Because of the 3-ton floor jack I was hauling to my dad’s, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be hitting that figure. This environmentalist is impressed, now I can be both fast and eco-friendly at the same time.

Out on the open road, the Leaf has handling to match its performance. The ride is smooth and comfortable and cornering is stable and precise. This is all good news as bends and I have history, and the relationship has not always been an amicable one.

Most of my driving involves the commute to work, add on a few extra local miles, and I will do maybe 25 miles a day. The average range of the leaf is around 80 miles, so in theory I could manage 3 days on a single charge. Still with that said, recharging is a breeze; I just pop open the flap at the front and plug it into the charger overnight. In 8 hours I am good to go with a full battery… Yeah I know, just like a cell phone.

hahaOwning a Nissan Leaf is not just all about peace and love either, there is plenty of attitude when required. At the mall parking lot yesterday, the Leaf’s compact size and awesome turning circle meant I was easily able to snatch the last bay from under a competitor before they could even find reverse. This is payback time you petrol heads!

Solar Tech

solar-panelsI’ve always had a weird fascination with solar technology. Solar panels have become increasingly more popular these days as an option to conventional electricity generation approaches. By utilizing solar panels, we are able to harness the power from the sun and use it to produce power for everything from a 12 volt refrigerator to pool liners for inground pools used for heating the water. Have you ever noticed solar panel covered rooftops or school zone signs with solar power panels on top and asked yourself exactly how these solar panels do the job and what’s happening “behind the panels?”

Let us examine precisely what solar panels are made up of and just how the solar panel concept works…

Solar panel engineering is dependent on two types of solar heat collection: solar energy collectors and solar cells. Because practically all home and diy solar panel projects make use of solar cells, we will give attention to the solar cell technology. Solar cells, also referred to as photovoltaic cells, are what make up a photovoltaic panel, more commonly known as a solar panel. Don’t allow the word photovoltaic scare you. Let us break it down: photo=light and voltaic=electricity (consider volt or voltage). In simple terms, it’s symbolizing the thought of transforming light into electricity. Continue reading

What you need to know about Green Energy

If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to introduce green energy into your life, you’re missing out. Green energy is less expensive, more safe, and cleaner compared to typical sources of energy, and it may in addition save you money after some time. Below are a few really smart methods to start employing green energy to your advantage. Continue reading