Everyone on Earth is Bored

Everyone on Earth is Bored

There’s an app out there that is basically like Vine, but in real time. You can look at a map, pick random people to watch, chat with them, follow them, etc. It’s called Periscope, and I found out about it because some woman was live streaming video of herself drunk driving and fellow Periscope users called the cops on her.

I was intrigued.

I remember chatroulette. I never used it much because I didn’t have a good enough connection at the time, but from what I hear, it devolved pretty quickly into nothing but naked people or people who wanted to see naked people. The two demographics didn’t mesh as well as you’d think.

Here’s what I found on Periscope.

Video 1, Tennessee:
Two dudes in a truck asking people to talk about what types of trucks they like.

Video 2, Scotland:
Tween age boy hosting his own random talk show-type stream.

Video 3, England:
Tween age girl talking about her day at school and then going on to look around the bathroom to find things with which to draw pictures. She was delightful and I added her to my follow list after her brief question/answer period about whether or not she should get “a spot of tea.”

Video 4, Germany
Guy who appears to be drunk, stoned, tired, or all three mumbling some stuff in German.

Video 5, Switzerland
Two teenage girls who clearly usually speak French take a moment to figure out how to answer when someone messages “wie gehts?” (how’s it going”) in German. They then answer him…in German.

Video 6, Boston
Guy who appears to be drunk, stoned, tired, or all three listening to the radio. Some guy keeps making comments about the broadcaster being gay and the guy just ignores him. The comment-maker eventually leaves.

Video 7, England
Two girls eating the British version of Funyuns ask where we’re from. When I answer that I’m from Nashville, one says “oooh, Nashville! Have you ever been to a rodeo?” She’s wearing a Friends shirt and asks us all who our favorite character is. I answer with Smelly Cat, which prompts one of the two girls to sing the Smelly Cat song. These girls were delightful. (At one point during this, some guy keeps messaging things like “vagina” and “seks.” The two girls just ignore him. I respond with “Emir’s keeping it classy.” The girls laugh. Emir sends me some message that I can’t figure out how to read before it fades off-screen and he leaves the room. I’m guessing his message was some sort of middle finger emoji. Also, when did adults start using emojis? Is this a thing now?)

Video 8, Scotland
Some guy playing questionable electronic music in his living room.

Video 9, England
Two girls lying in bed, at least one appears to be nursing a head cold. She blows her nose on camera and they flip the phone around to show us all that they’re watching The Big Bang Theory.

But what about Iran? Egypt? I tried, but with the exception of Turkey and some parts of Bahrain and Dubai, everything was blank. Zero videos. Same thing for China, Japan, and all of southeast Asia. (Maybe they’re all just asleep right now?) So, what’s going on in Dubai? The same thing going on everywhere else: people watching tv, people sitting around, and dudes with guitars. Dhaka, Bangladesh? Some guy singing “Love Me Like You Do.” To summarize, there’s a guy in BANGLADESH singing the love theme from 50 Shades of Grey.

Maybe this IS just another opportunity for people to attention whore themselves online, but I can’t help but thinking what a big deal it would be for any actor trying to learn a dialect or any foreign language student. Also, let’s give some applause for the lack of nudity and creepiness; people are just there being THERE. Blowing noses. Singing Smelly Cat. It’s not all PhotoShop, humblebrags, and marketing ploys. At least not yet.

Dudes with guitars.

Save Your Fork, There’s Pie (Charts)

“I know, I’m a bad American. I should know more about the issues, but who has time to look for all that stuff?”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve said something like that, I’d have an arm full of tattoos by now. I hate watching the news because it’s depressing and you can never really trust a newscast to just report the facts. I don’t get my news from the internet because I don’t want to sift through pointless b.s. just to find something relevant. Newspapers? Those are the things in the bags on my driveway, right?

I feel like a bad American for thinking that way. I also feel like a ton of other people think that way, too. People are always say you should write your congressman about things, but those people don’t realize that I am far too busy watching YouTube videos of Keyboard Cat.

When someone on a design email list recently pointed me in the direction of popvox.com, I went to the site solely to check out a “Write to Congress” widget that someone on the list had recently made. What I found when I got to the site was a “lazy but concerned” person’s dream. Here’s what happened when I got curious about H.R 3, a bill to prohibit taxpayer funded abortions.

1. I read the blurb
A quick summary stated what the bill was about and provided a link to more detailed information.

2. I checked out the two sides of the issue.
The “Endorsing Organizations” tab listed arguments from the Conference of Catholic Bishops (bishops generally don’t like any sort of abortion), Concerned Women for America (they think funding abortions would take away from military pay), and the National Right to Life Committee (also not big fans of abortion). The “Organizations Opposing” tab listed arguments from the National Women’s Law Center (they fear that this would harm small business by making insurance companies pay for abortions), National Organization for Women (they fear that asking insurance companies to pay would inhibit safe practices and free choice), and the American Humanist Association (again, the free choice argument). There are 8 other groups opposing this bill, but I’ll just assume that you’re not enjoying these run-on sentences and leave you to read the other arguments for yourself.

3. I checked out the bill’s status
This one already passed on May 4, but…

4. I opposed the bill anyway
Just cause the die is cast doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it. It’s the American way! So, I clicked the big “oppose” button (right next to the big “support” button), filled in my name and address and sent my opinion and my information to congress. Since they also asked for my address, I can only assume that I’m now on some kind of “liberal bastard” registry and will soon be getting picketed by Sarah Palin. BRING IT, PALIN.

Popvox makes it easy to stop feeling like a bad American and start feeling like you actually know what’s going on, all with handy dandy pie charts. As a typical American…I LOVE PIE…CHARTS.

In Which Amy’s Brain Explodes (in a good way)

Once upon a time, technology made the Blackberry. The subtext was that such devices were only for high-powered business people who really, really needed access to email and calendar applications, even when they were out doing something important like visiting oil rigs or checking their uncut diamonds.

I could sit here and say that I wanted a Droid phone because I need to be able to know when super time-sensitive emails come in. It does stress me out that someone’s website could explode on Friday night and I may not know until Monday morning, at which time they would want to set me on fire. Granted, they could call, but most people get pissed off about having to CALL, too. So, yes, I do kind of need the Droid for work. That’s not going to change the fact that I was in Amanda’s back seat with the flashlight app set to red, holding my phone under my chin and making ghost noises.

What do I think of my new birthday present/toy/tiny computer thing? It is everything I’d hoped it would be, and I don’t get to say that very often. As I was driving home last night with my Lady GaGa Pandora station playing through a phone that was plugged into my car’s auxiliary input, I thought was “this is the future they promised us…ok, my car’s not flying, but this is it.”

This is what they kept swearing that the internet would be: this life that follows you because you can fit it in your purse. Everyone you know being consolidated into one data stream widget. Instant access to IMDb when someone says, “whatever happened to the sister from Even Stevens?” News feeds of LOLcats. Lil Wayne soundboards. Video of friends doing things that you won’t remember tomorrow because you’re all trashed. To-do list apps that let you sort by category and set up reminders. Creepy yet awesome ways of GPSing your friends’ locations. Red flashlights to hold under your chin.

Oh, and also email.

My friends, it is a beautiful thing. I live on the internet, but I’ve still been running around for 4 days feeling like I live in the future. If this blows MY mind, my mom may just burst into flames when she gets hers. I can’t wait until the next time my mom gets in my car and asks if I have any bluegrass in my iPod.

“Nope, but I made a Ricky Skaggs station on Pandora.”

For Anyone Not on Louisville goth’s Forum…

Somebody’s roommate found this on Craigslist. Hall of Fame worthy.

Satanic Sexual Ritual
Date: 2009-06-18, 5:13PM PDT

Looking for a woman with evil appetites.
Somebody’s roommate found this on Craigslist. Mos def Hall of Fame worthy.

We will have nasty, evil, sweaty, probably illegal sexual encounters in order to bring about the rise of Lucifer. (ie Satan)
Must be willing to do all styles of sexual positions, except Missionary. That is the Lord’s Way, and we will have none of that. Besides, if we do it Missionary, Satan gets angry and a kitten dies. I like kittens.

Must be into anal. For that is Satan’s Alley. Must like blow jobs (Swallowing Lucifer’s Gravy) and Hand Jobs (Milking the Evil Goat)
Must be into slight S&M (Safe word: Pink Sock)
Must be into erotic and evil costumes and lingerie. Leather Thongs, spikes, boots, black and evil bras that accentuate your bosom, Boba Fett costumes.
Must be willing to deep throat. (So that my satanic appendage will be closer to your black soul)
Must be into strap-ons so that I may feel the “Power of Beezlebub” coursing thru my lower intestines.

The perfect encounter will be this:

Meeting you at one of our local eatery’s. Plying you with ample alcoholic libations. Enjoying a nice piece of animal flesh. Tipping the waiter only 10% instead of 15 to 20% (Because we are EVIL!) Taking you back to my lair. Removing your Gothic Garb, laying you roughly upon my “Sacrifice Altar” (Twin size futon), and promptly begin to nibble on your Satanic Slit. (Please shave before the ritual, as it’s hard to be evil when you got pubes stuck in your fillings) Whence you are all moist with the Power of The Dark Lord’s Juices, I will remove my cape and trousers and proceed to fill you with the Sceptre of His Infernal Majesty. You will writhe in pleasure so deep, it will call forth the Evil One himself! After 4 to 7 minutes of the most intense sexual experience of your God Fearing life, we will perform a Satanic Snuggle, until you gently fall asleep in my powerful arms.

If this taps into the Primordial Jelly you have buried deep down in your Dark Soul, then contact me and we will make beautiful, agonizing “love” together. We will combine our desires and perform rituals so evil, it will awaken the Evil Ancient One from His Firey Nap! He will spill forth from the Bowels of Hell like so much premature Satanic Ejaculate!!

Hails to the Evil One!!

Twittorial

When I was first told about Twitter, I thought it was the most self-indulgent, dumbass thing I’d ever heard of. Condensing blogs down to 140 characters? Could Western civilization BE a little more a.d.d.? Why would I give a rat’s ass about what so-and-so thinks about anything?

In my defense, that was back in 2007, when Twitter really WAS just a handful of douchebags running programs that would auto-post every song they listened to in iTunes. It’s not good tv, and it’s terribly self-indulgent.

Here in 2009, Twitter is still terribly self-indulgent, but it’s gotten a lot more entertaining. I’ve found it pretty darn useful for everything from keeping track of random thoughts for future blogs and stand-up acts, but also for getting quick advice, hearing about events, and having random chuckles. I’ve even badgered more than one friend onto Twitter and, as a result, had to teach more than one friend how to get tweets sent to his/her phone. I’ve done this so many times that I thought a tutorial might be in order. Shall we?

Sending Tweets To Your Phone

Step 1:
Go to settings > devices and set up Twitter to work with your phone.

Step 2:
Go to the page of each person you want to be sent to your phone and turn “device updates” on.

Who can and can’t hear you.

Unless you’ve set your updates to “private,” everybody on Earth can hear everything you say, and Google will hear you, too. Beware.

@ replies

If you @ reply someone who IS following you, that person will see your @ reply in their stream. If said person is having you sent to their phone, your @ reply will come to their phone.

If you @ reply someone who ISN’T following you, your @ reply will still appear in said person’s stream.

Master class:
If I @ reply Jen (aka @wiltedrose23), anyone who is following BOTH of us will also see the conversation Jen and I are having. For example, if Jen and I are tweeting at each other at goth night, Abbey will hear us, even if she stayed home, because Abbey follows both Jen AND me.

If I @ reply something personal to Jen, it won’t get broadcast to everyone who follows me. BUT, if someone makes the effort to go to my profile page, those @ replies WILL show up. Again, beware.

Widgets
There are a number of applications out there that allow people to monitor two different Twitter accounts at once (for example, a personal account and a work account). I like Twhirl, but beware: there’s a limit on how many times per hour Twhirl will check for tweets. If the limit is 60 per hour and I’m logged in to 2 accounts, Twhirl will check one account 40 times and the other account 20 times. Or 30/30. Or 50/10, depending on the preferences that I specify. I’ve found desktop applications to be a bit spotty and unreliable, as they frequently resulted in a time lag or other weirdy-beardy behavior.

LoudTwitter.com
LoudTwitter will either blog your tweets or email them to you, with or without @ replies, at intervals you specify. I use it to have my tweets emailed to me for further “would this be useful as a stand-up routine?” screening. Dave from The Strand has his tweets posted to his LiveJournal.

TinyUrl.com
Takes long web addresses and converts them to smaller addresses that use up fewer characters.

Twitpic.com
Allows you to post pictures on Twitter. You can’t send a picture message yet, but if you have email on your phone you CAN email a picture from your phone.

blip.fm and songza
Allow you to post links to songs on Twitter.

Random Tips:
1. be interesting or funny. I don’t care if you’re at the grocery store, but I DO care if you think Germaine is the most ironically-named Jackson.

2. Pick a name that’s easy to spell. If I’m @ replying you from my phone, it’d much easier to type @tim86 than @timlivesforfeta4evr.

3. If you install a widget to broadcast your tweets elsewhere (MySpace, Facebook, your blog), DON’T forget that you did it. Also, the “post all of my tweets on Facebook” application should be used with caution as it may piss off your followers/friends if it’s overused.

4. Do NOT accidentally Tweet from your phone when you mean to send a text message to one person.

5. Beware of drunk tweeting.

See also: Twitter Content Help Blog

Twitter: Ur Doin It Rong.

I am not a social media expert. I did not major in marketing. I didn’t even have an account on LinkedIn until just a couple weeks ago. However, I do use Twitter. I know what I like. Like everybody else on the internet, I think my opinion is more important than yours. Seeing as how you people keep trying to woo me (and everyone else on Twitter), I’ll do you a favor and tell you why it’s not working.

Social media had good intentions. All of the socially awkward programmers and web dorks could pretend to have social skills by setting up accounts on MySpace and Facebook filling out surveys about whether or not “they’ve ever…”

Twitter, at its best, can be wonderful, random and comedic. Complete strangers tell me hilarious things all day long, and I get to filter out people who bore me. Famous people can give their fans what fans have wanted since the dawn of fandom: a direct link. I’m never going to hang out with anybody from Fall Out Boy, but it’s bizarrely interesting that, even if you’re famous, everything boils down to whether the waitress at Chili’s Too remembers to bring your extra mayo. It’s like there’s a party where everybody’s got a blindfold on, but people can still mingle and talk without the threat of someone getting drunk and having awkward booze sex.

Well, sort of. Drunken, regretted-in-the-morning Twittering is quickly becoming a rite of passage.

The problem is that Twitter has become “the next big thing.” Companies assume that joining Twitter will be some kind of short cut, allowing them to stop buying advertising and thinking about being in the first page of results on Google. What they’re not getting is that, for Twitter to work, you have to Tweet something that someone would actually WANT to read. Showing up at a party solely to hand out your business card is considered douchey, so why haven’t people realized that the rule applies to Twitter?

“Hey, how are you?”
“Have you seen my business’s website?”
“No, dude. Really. What’s going on?”
“Have you seen my business’s website?”

Businesses, let me break this down for you: if you add me, prompting me to look at your profile, and I see that the only thing you ever say is “here’s my company…here’s my company again…” I’m not going to add you. I’m going to leave the virtual party and let you sit alone in your living room, showing virtual vacation slides.

So, what works?

Amuse me. Tell me something fun. Talk about something other than your company’s products. If you can’t do this, hire somebody who can. Find someone who seems to embody what you company is, then hire them. (PS: if you don’t know what kind of person would embody your company’s tone and image, your Twitter is NOT your biggest problem.)

For example, the guy who does Clandestine Industries’ Twitter (@jensenclan88) mainly makes snarky comments about sports figures and pop culture. I know who he works for, I looked at the site and I even know the name of his art gallery and what it’s showing right now. Only 10% of his posts are about his businesses, but I know the names of them because I’ve stuck around long enough, and I stuck around because he’s hilarious. The trick is to be a real person, with something real, random or amusing to say. It’s a leap of faith to say “represent us, but be yourself.” Most businesses usually go for the “no, really, we CAN please all of the people all of the time” strategy. As a result, they end up afraid to say anything interesting. A knife that isn’t sharp is just a piece of metal. You have to have an edge to get anything done. Is JensenClan88 a happy accident or a brilliant marketing plan? I don’t know, but I suspect it’s working.

Have some balls. Say something worthwhile. If you don’t, nobody’s going to listen to you anyway.

Xi, Axe and Jib

There are two kinds of Scrabble players in the world: the “if” people and the “is” people. The “if” people stare angrily at their letters, thinking of 7-letter words they could spell if they just had I-N-G. The “is” people do their best with the letters they’ve got, getting by on the crafty use of 3-letter words and multiplier squares.

I learned a little something about Scrabble during the time I spent working at Vanderbilt. The place was a huge machine, where it took five powerful people getting in the same room to fire a person. As a result, I spent five years at a job that I, with my German sense of efficiency, boiled down to one hour out of eight. What did I do with the extra seven hours of my day? I played a lot of Scrabble.

Unfortunately, the same five powerful people decided when to give raises. In the way that they could never agree that I was pointless, they could also never agree to give me more money. Even I didn’t have the balls to ask for a raise. It’s hard to feel entitled when a skit about your at-work backgammon habit is performed at the office Christmas party.

As a result of my years at Vanderbilt, I am now a person who doesn’t play Scrabble with friends. I play Scrabble with people who have pissed me off. I’m an “is” player. I’ll xi, axe, and jib your ass to death.

What I’m getting at is that, while it’s all well and good to be able to lay down “slaying” or “jazzed,” the game of Scrabble isn’t about what you could spell. It’s about what you can spell.

This came up years ago when record companies were approaching new media by suing the hell out of college kids. Now, as magazines and newspapers are soiling themselves and going out of business because of bloggers, paper costs and current lack of ad sales, we’re all running around like chickens, praying to jump onto the Next Big Thing before it’s over. I call this “MySpacing.” It’s cool for a while, but the party can only be so big and so fun before somebody invites some douchebags who come and puke into your return air vent. In the case of MySpace, it got overrun by friend requests from bands (are you also being stalked by Ligion?), corporations and people who over-customized their pages so hard that viewing the page crashes the browser. (PS: we hate you, we don’t want to watch all those damn videos, and you definitely shouldn’t have set them all to auto-play.)

Magazine industry, take a lesson. Suing people and whining isn’t going to change a market that has already changed without you. Hire some people who are entertaining and informative (or keep the ones you have), build a user-friendly site, and put all the crap that anyone would want to know in one place. Then encourage linking. Don’t hoard your stuff. It’s pointless anyway, because your kids are probably more computer-literate than you. Make it easy for people to link you and give you credit. If you really want to get crazy, hire someone to track the trackbacks, and have that tracker give props to everybody who gave you props. Hey, if there’s anything bloggers love more than making fun of Speidi, it’s validation. I know, this will mean validating people you not-so-secretly hate and mock. Suck it up.

You’ll have to pay developers and maybe designers (but you’ll probably just hire developers who THINK they’re designers…no one’s bitter), but you won’t have to pay for paper or shipping. From the looks of the graphic design industry, you’re all starting to get wise to this, because you’re firing all of my friends.

As for me, I am done shaking my fist at people who think that web development and web design are the same discipline (aside from the bitchy comment in that last paragraph). I can point out the douchiness of the “design is development” assumption all day, and it’s not going to change the market. The market wants what it wants. So, in the vein of music and magazines, I’m going to evolve. I’m going to become a developer.

I’m going to xi, axe and jib your ass to death.

Unless, of course, you hire me. That alone will save you 😉