Done Editing

I've gotten out of the habit of writing blog posts.

It's actually really hard to write something coherent that doesn't take me an eon to churn out. That's certainly a lesson I learned with my books that I wrote more than a decade ago.

I should have learned that lesson back in 2007. Maybe I did and I forgot, though.

Or maybe I just don't care as much now as I did back then. Maybe I know how to write better and so I need less editing.

Whatever. Now that I have a way to record my thoughts from anywhere and make them available on the Internet pretty easily, why do I need to write anything at all?

But speaking is a lot harder, at least for me. Mostly because you only get one shot at it. At least in person.

When I do a podcast, I've gotten to the point I do one of two things: leave it as is or re-record it. I may occasionally edit something but that is getting rarer and rarer.

Meanwhile, until I hit the "create post" button, the entire stream of consciousness I am typing is here just waiting to be edited.

Or not. Even though I edit a lot in my mind before I type, I'm getting to the point now where I'm done editing. I am who I am. I'm going to say what I'm going to say. You're either going to like it or think I'm full of shit.

Or maybe you'll like it even though I'm full of shit. Whatever floats your boat.

Meet the New Blog, Same As The Old Blog

I kinda did a post earlier today, but now that I have everything hooked into IFTTT (at least until Posthaven adds its own support for posting on Social Networks on new posts), I guess I should "reintroduce" my personal blog to the world.

Of course, now that I think about this, it seems like an awfully douchy thing to do. I mean, who gives a crap? I'm barely going to write here. You're barely going to read it. So I guess we're even 🙂

But since you came here, look at the cool, shiny Posthaven-hosted blog. I can't do much to it right now, but I know that the Posthaven guys are hard at work They at least got a flawless import of my old Posterous sites. That's something.

Anyway, this is my personal blog. For things that don't fit into either phoneboy.com">rel="nofollow">phoneboy.com or phoneboy.net">http://phoneboy.net">phoneboy.net. And a little to long for app.net or Twitter. 🙂

Together Again... Again

I've decided to move this blog over to Posthaven. Who better to "preserve" stuff from an old Posterous blog than the people who originally wrote Posterous in the first place?

This is this blog's 3rd move in the last year. I hope this is the last time I have to do this.

To Be Heard...

There's this text box. A text box that begs to be filled with the internal chattering, giving it a sort of physical manifestation.

What does the chattering say right now? That it's bedtime and I should sleep. It also says I want to be heard.

About what, exactly? I don't know. It really doesn't matter. I just want to be heard. I guess that's why we're online creating content, in the ways we do, right? We just want to be heard.

But the harsh truth is, no one gives a fuck. That and there's too much other shit out there on the Internet for other people to do. Or read. Or listen to.

I'm lucky in that I started on this Internet thing way early–before it hit the mainstream. I have somewhat of a following. Not a big one, mind you, but I have one.

But I also know the likelihood that anyone will say "hey, I like what you do." Or even acknowledge that I'm doing something.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter all that much. What I said. Or that you acknowledged it. I'm either going to continue doing what I do or I won't.

That said, a nice note to someone who created something goes a long way. Its lets them know they've been heard.

Even if you don't do it for my little narcissistic blog posting, do it for someone else. Let them know they have been heard.

I Was Going To Write Something...

But I really don't know what I want to write.

There was a time in my life where I could write for hours on end. Granted, I edited. A lot. But I could do it.

Now I feel like it is a struggle to string words together on a page: real or virtual. Surely, I can put them down on a page, but to string them together in a coherent manner in way that conveys whatever it is I am trying to convey.

What was I trying to convey again? See, that's the other problem: as soon as I try to take the idea out of my mind and put it into a form that others can see, the idea is gone.

Maybe in the dead of night, I can put a few words together on this blog app thingie that a nice chap from app.net put together. Maybe it will make some sort of sense.

Maybe I've spent too much time on Twitter and Facebook, but I actually find character limits to be a useful thing. I can strip away all the nonsense and get to the point. Sometimes it takes a while to craft those 140 characters–255 characters on app.net–but I can usually do it.

Whereas a blog post like this has no limit. Well, I see a character count at the bottom of this blog-app.net thingie I am using to compose this blog, so maybe I can't prattle on forever. But still, there's a huge difference between 140 characters and 5000.

Maybe this is why I've started podcasting. I know my word choice is not perfect. Some cleanup can be done with editing, but I can't obsess over an audio waveform the same way I can obsess over words on a page.

The end result: nearly 70 episodes (to date), one per day. None of them perfect, but they get the ideas across and out there in a way I've always wanted to: on the radio.

Well, it's not terrestrial radio, which I did briefly in 1997, but it's Internet radio. My podcast does appear on the No Agenda Stream. In addition to the fact you can listen to it on phoneboyspeaks.phoneboy.com, subscribe in iTunes, etc.

So maybe it's not so bad. I can still communicate. I can still participate in the conversation going on in the world.

But sometimes, it's nice to not have to communicate. To not be putting ideas into the world. To just listen. Sometimes to others ideas. Sometimes to my inner dialogue. Sometimes, to silence.

That said, I wish I were heard sometimes. Truly heard. Because if I'm not being heard and making an impact on the world around me, why am I bothering to communicate with you all.

I'm very tired. I am finishing this at 2am. I hope it will make sense what I'm trying to say.

Taxes and the Science of Compassion

From The Science of Compassion:

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world's resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, "It's the economy, stupid," Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, "It's the lack compassion, stupid."
I have no problem with Compassion. Aside from the good feeling I get when I choose to be compassionate, I recognize that it is in my rational self-interest to be compassionate for many of the reasons listed in this article.

To be clear, I am not opposed to giving to those less fortunate. I am against being given no choice in the matter about it, which is essentially the way our current welfare and similar aid system works. They are funded by taxpayer dollars, which unless I suddenly develop a desire for orange jumpers, three hots and a cot, and living in a 10x10 cell, I have to pay.

Governments have been proven to be horribly wasteful at spending money. And this is by no means a new phenomenon, either. According to Ronald Reagan's "A Time of Choosing" speech (where he was stumping for Barry Goldwater in 1964):
We are spending $45 billion on welfare. Now, do a little arithmetic, and you will find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families [making less than $3,000 a year], we would be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty! Direct aid to the poor, however, is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
The government is compelling me to give them money, which they are turning around and wasting, depriving me of any joy that I might get from those compassionate actions. Furthermore, they are significantly lessening the resources I have remaining, thus depriving me the resources to make my own independent choice to be compassionate.

Maybe if the rent weren't too damn high, more of us could actually afford to be compassionate, much less make the choice to be compassionate—and have the opportunity to feel good about it, to boot.

Podcasts I Don't Love From People I Don't Trust

I've been a fan of TWiT since Leo Laporte got the idea to start a podcast sometime after the demise of TechTV. Seven years later, it has grown into a podcast network of 20+ shows with a huge studio in downtown Petaluma, CA.

Unfortunately, Leo has done some things recently that, quite honestly, are not the kinds of things I wish to support. As a result, I've decided to stop listening to any TWiT-produced podcasts.

What are my reasons? Glad you asked.

The Leo Laporte Affair and Erik Lanigan

This is somewhat old news. I expressed my thoughts on this last year and they haven't changed, at least with respect to his personal relationship with his now-estranged wife, which he has claimed numerous times on-air is still good.

What does bother me is the fact that, right around the time this event broke, a particularly talented post-production editor and up-and-coming talent on his network was suddenly persona-non-grata at TWiT. Erik Lanigan was editing the video that ultimately exposed his "affair," which was picked by Gawker.

itm.png

When asked about Erik's firing on his recent Reddit AmA

itm.jpg

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why Erik Lanigan was fired.

Adam Curry and the Man Who Was (Not) On The Moon

Last week, Adam Curry was a guest on TWiT and the topic of Neil Armstrong's death was discussed. Leo had asked Adam if he believed that he walked on the moon, to which he replied very honestly, "no." A very respectful discussion occurred about this on the show. That, along with the later discussion about the display advertising model, makes it one of the best TWiTs I've heard in a long time.

Meanwhile, Leo's fans were not happy about this and took to blasting him on Twitter. That didn't bother me. What did bother me was Leo's response, like this one:

itm.jpg

First off, Adam Curry disputes that "Adam was booked earlier in the week" in his version of the events that he described in Daily Source Code 866—he was actually booked the day before the episode (which was after Neil Armstrong passed away). Second, he's had Adam on before, knows all about No Agenda and that his views on a great many things are, well, different. Or even "crackpot."

Leo also represented Adam's views:

itm.jpg

And finally, on his This Week in TWiT show, he continues to throw Adam under the bus, even mentioning banning Adam from the show!

Leo's free to have whoever he wants on his network. It's his to do that with. However, to say he had no idea that things could go this way was at best disingenuous, at worst an outright lie.

The TWiT Army

I've also had my own interactions with the TWiT army via their IRC channel, which is moderated by some of the strictest moderators known to man. Anything even remotely challenging to either the hosts worldview, the moderators, controversial points of view, or anything that could be construed as sexual will result in being kicked from the chatroom immediately.

Based on the comments Leo continues to receive on Twitter related to Adam Curry's views, I can only conclude the majority of the TWiT army is perfectly happy to not question authority or to even entertain differing points of view.

Sorry, folks, that's not me.

Conclusion

I realize that me not listening to Leo Laporte and the TWiT network is probably not going to be noticed by anyone but me. I also don't think I'm necessarily going to sway anyone to come to the same conclusion I did. That said, I am building a handy page explaining alternatives to TWiT podcasts to help anyone who is.

Update 16 Oct 2012: Leo's sexts get caught on the air again. Honestly I don't care that he gets sexts—good for him—but as many times as he has inadvertently "exposed" himself on-air, you'd think the self-proclaimed "Tech Guy" would take a few more precautions.

I've Said Too Much. I Haven't Said Enough.

I was at a concert this past week for Vicci Martinez. I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect, seeing as I don't watch shows like The Voice or American Idol, though I had to assume that if she had "won" on The Voice, she was probably pretty good. And she was great! I even bought her album (on iTunes) since the concert didn't cost me anything. Value for Value 🙂

But this isn't about that concert, but what I saw at the concert. Everyone and their brother had their phones out and was posting pictures to Facebook, as was I.

After the concert was over, I began to ask myself: why are so many people compelled to share what they are doing on Facebook or whatever social network? Not just unusual events like concerts, but every little thing?

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, you'll realize that I don't post to these services every day. Some days I am very active, other times I will go days between postings. On my blogs, the norm seems to be about a post a month. Clearly I don't have an oversharing problem—at least most of the time.

Why do I choose to share when? My situation is, perhaps, more complex than most since I also live at least parts of my life in semi-public due to the social media-type work I sometimes do for Check Point Software. I share things because they are work-related. I share things (particularly location) to signal to others. I occasionally experiment with new social media applications, so that will mean some "extra" sharing just to test. I share things that are important to me in some way. I share things that are funny.

There's stuff that happens in my personal life that I don't share at all. I might share some family-related things with a select few on Facebook, but even that's rare.

Fundamentally, the sharing is about somehow feeling "connected" to someone else. Whether it is something good or bad, we can find someone who agrees—or not—and, sometimes, engage us back. Therein is the connection, but some times, it is lacking in substance.

Some of the items being shared, though, seem to signal something: "Look at my exciting life. Aren't I having a good time?" Sometimes, the signaling isn't for others, though, it's an attempt to convince yourself your life is exciting. This seems quite delusional on some level.

In any case, this revelation about what we share through these social networks with whom and why is causing me to reevaluate how I interact on social networks. Especially when you consider the inherent risks of putting that data onto the Internet where Google, Facebook, and who-knows-what company can "use" that data to "better serve" me.

The (D)evolution of the 40 Hour Work Week

From Bring back the 40-hour work week - AlterNet - Salon.com:

After WWII, as the GI Bill sent more workers into white-collar jobs, employers at first assumed that the limits that applied to industrial workers probably didn't apply to knowledge workers. Everybody knew that eight hours a day was pretty much the limit for a guy swinging a hammer or a shovel; but those grey-flannel guys are just sitting at desks. We're paying them more; shouldn't we be able to ask more of them?

The short answer is: no. In fact, research shows that knowledge workers actually have fewer good hours in a day than manual laborers do — on average, about six hours, as opposed to eight. It sounds strange, but if you're a knowledge worker, the truth of this may become clear if you think about your own typical work day. Odds are good that you probably turn out five or six good, productive hours of hard mental work; and then spend the other two or three hours on the job in meetings, answering e-mail, making phone calls and so on. You can stay longer if your boss asks; but after six hours, all he's really got left is a butt in a chair. Your brain has already clocked out and gone home.

The other thing about knowledge workers is that they're exquisitely sensitive to even minor sleep loss. Research by the US military has shown that losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level. Worse: most people who've fallen into this state typically have no idea of just how impaired they are. It's only when you look at the dramatically lower quality of their output that it shows up. Robinson writes: "If they came to work that drunk, we'd fire them — we'd rightly see them as a manifest risk to our enterprise, our data, our capital equipment, us and themselves. But we don't think twice about making an equivalent level of sleep deprivation a condition of continued employment."

Perhaps because I grew up in the Silicon Valley mindset and worked in high-tech (never, say, a retail job or a physical labor job), I never really experienced what a proper 40 hour work week was like. I rarely ever put in what could be construed as "9 to 5" type hours. Or if I did, it was never in a continuous block.

These days, the hours I put in are, quite literally, all over the map: in terms of when I have to do things (some late night and early morning calls/emails) and where I have to do things (regular trips to Israel and other locations). I know that I am by no means unique in this regard, either inside Check Point or outside Check Point.

To be clear, I'm not complaining about my job. I love what I do. But I put in a lot of hours. And I can't deny I'm probably paying a price for that.

Working smarter clearly does not mean working longer. That said, the traditional 40 hour work week isn't the solution either, at least for me. I deal with people half-way around the world who work Sunday thru Thursday rather than the more common Monday thru Friday.

Is there hope? I think the answer is being a bit more flexible about when those 40 hours of work occur. It will take employers accepting that people will need to work non-standard hours. It will take employees making sure that, when they are working, they give work their full focus. Likewise, when employees are "not working," they give "not working" their full focus.

We may never go back to the traditional 40 hour work week, but at least we can bring back some sanity to our lives.

Are things as bad at Foxconn as we've been led to believe?

From Retraction | This American Life:

We've discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey's story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. Marketplace'sChina correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications.
I have no doubt that, by American standards, what is going on at Foxconn would be considered "appalling" by many. Even if the real story is better than what was portrayed by Mike Daisey or the New York Times.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is typical of what the media does. Take a sensational story that "sounds" believable and run it without completely fact checking it. Surely it brought in ratings for NPR and massive page views for the New York Times. Any fallout from "bad journalism," which, let's face it, is pretty rampant these days,would be overshadowed by the massive ratings and page views they get.

Bad media aside, I have a more philosophical question that comes up often for me, especially when I hear about American activities abroad: who are we to say our standards are better than the Chinese, or anyone else's for that matter? Why do so many people feel compelled to force our standards on other countries? What if the shoe were on the other foot? How would we feel if someone forced their standards on Americans?

I'm all for improving the lot of everyone in the world, but at what point do those activities become coercive in a negative way?