February 4, 2015

Facebook Despression

Based on a survey of 700 students, the study found that users who engage in “surveillance use”–“brows[ing] the website to see how their friends are doing compared with their own lives”–versus simply using the site to contact friends and family can experience symptoms of depression.


Well duh. One doesn’t need Facebook to get into the mindset of seeing another’s happiness and wish it was their own. This is why I advocate finding other sources of stimulation, like writing! Starting a blog is free in many places.


Music is one of those things: you either like it or you’re weird. Music for me is a way to eliminate the distractions surrounding me and enter the world the artist as created. Any genre of music can work. If it’s Taylor Swift, that world exists just as much as Vivaldi’s. As I write this, I’m actually just sitting back in my chair with my eyes closed. It’s good that I can type without looking (there’s always spell check, too).

Music is a gateway to your imagination. It stimulates your brain into opening up your creativity and letting flower new ideas and at the same time lets our hone in on existing ones. For some, music is purely claiming. For others it gets them amped up. I’m sure the type of music has something to do with that, no doubt.

When I get started early in the morning, Spotify gets started with me. If you’re not using Spotify or another service like it to get your music, you’re missing out. As buying CDs is dying, buying singles from iTunes or similar is dying. I pay the equivalent of two trips to Starbucks every month for unlimited music in all categories, for whatever listening events I desire. It’s the best $10 I’ve ever spent to help me focus. Now how do I return these brain drugs I bought off the TV?

Telling People’s Stories

The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see—every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties. ~ Graham Greene

There’s so much right with this quote. I won’t say I’m a spy, but I find other people’s conversations amusing. I’m also pondering something…

This quote got me wondering this morning what would happen if more people told their stories? There’s hardly a shortage of drama in the news today surrounding things like black rights, domestic violence, discrimination, education, and so on that if everyone told their story, I can’t help but believe something would actually be done about it.

Let’s think about this for a moment. There are X number of rape cases every year, right? (I leave the number as X because the quantity is irrelevant for this scenario) One of the biggest things surrounding rape and sexual assault is more often than it should be, the victim doesn’t come forward. What if the victim had a place to express their feelings without fear of being persecuted or being in danger? From a writing perspective and then from a sociological perspective, imagine how much more we’d hear about it? I’m not just talking about women, either. Sure the number of cases against men are significantly smaller but that doesn’t matter. Woman or man alike, being able to freely express oneself is paramount.

I think that’s what blogging’s good for: telling a story and sharing with others. On the Internet, one can hide behind a persona while still telling stories that are real, dirty, sad, exciting, or any combination thereof.

Now let’s bring it back in to my original point. If I’m sitting on a park bench one day, and there’s a conflict between someone or a situation is happening, in my mind, I would want to tell that person’s story. What happens to everyone is important. If I saw someone being beaten by anyone—not just a cop—I would want to share that with the world: “Hey everyone. This guy is going through stuff no one should have to experience. Let’s do something about it.”

Whether it’s the victim or a third party, telling stories people have would be a great way to connect us, bypassing our differences, and using our common struggles as a bond. When one person comes forward, more are likely to follow. Someone has to take the first step, however.

And so the LOL’s Continue

Remember yesterday when I mentioned that AdBlock Plus was allowing companies to pay their way through the blocks to users? Turns out, that list is bigger than I led on. In fact, it’s down right stupid long.

In an e-mail to Ars, AdBlock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wrote that currently, the browser extension has granted a pass to “over 300 sites/entities” out of “over 1,500 applicants” to the company’s whitelist.

Damn. Remind me again the point of AdBlock Plus?

February 3, 2015

Ad-doesn’t-Block Plus Premium Elite Edition

What’s the point of having ad blocking software if it doesn’t block any ads? Good question.

From the Verge:

Some of the web’s biggest companies have been paying to get around Adblock Plus, according to a new report from Financial Times. Microsoft’s Bing search ads and Taboola’s “recommended links” box are among the ads that are currently slipping through Adblock Plus’s filter, and FT confirms that it’s the intentional result of a paid deal between the makers of Adblock and the owners of the ads.


Killing Your Friends when They Think You’re not Looking

Today is the last day for The Unofficial Apple Weblog. TUAW has been a staple in keeping up with the latest Apple news, products and happenings. The site was always a go-to of mine to keep up to date on rumors, and it did its job well.

TUAW, for lots of reasons beyond our control, has no future, but Apple’s burns brightly. It’s been great writing about these growing technologies, and seeing and testing apps — some that were great and some that fell short. All of us here tried to tell the story of Apple and its offspring of hardware and software companies and tell it straight; the good along with the sometimes ugly.

Mel Martin, TUAW

If you’re unsure of what that first sentence means let me translate: “TUAW doesn’t write enough fluff. Engadget and TechCrunch do. AOL wants to keep them because fluff pieces make more ad dollars. Without ad dollars, AOL will we all die.”

I can’t help but think that’s why TUAW and coincidentally, Joystiq are taking their final ride today and heading out to pasture. While the revolution of digital media killed off many a good magazine (read: Macworld, Cat Fancy), having a digital publication that people actually enjoy murdered quietly is tough, too. I’m sure TC and Engadget will have plenty of space for the staff from TUAW and Joystiq, but they’re just not the same. Both are end-all-be-all properties that try to cater to everyone and in turn they lose a sliver of their credibility as being the authority on specific things. I wouldn’t trust my local Wal-Mart with high-nor would I trust Radio Shack, either—and I think it’s hard to put faith into a site that tries to pull in 20-somethings for gadget news and then turn around and write about a concierge sex service. It never ended there, don’t even get me started on why a porn site that really wasn’t that special was newsworthy.

To each their own, I guess. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have iMore, 9to5Mac, and ArsTechnica to go read.

February 2, 2015

A First

I was looking over all the writing I did for the month of January and I can safely say that not only have I kept one of my New Year’s Resolutions so far, but I blew away my person goal I set for myself. I made a pact with inner me that I would write at least a few times a week and have them be something substantial. According to my count, I posted something 39 times in January and have over 20,000 words to show for it. By that count, with only spending roughly an hour a day writing, I could have a complete book written in a month if I wrote all day. Granted, I don’t have the attention span to do something like that but it makes me feel good to know that I’ve been able to not only meet a goal but to exceed it by a wide margin. I told myself a couple weeks ago that I would write more in February. In reality, the goals has essentially become “write the same amount as you’re currently doing in February.” Writing is something I enjoy quite a bit and have no intent on stopping.

Magic Room

I’ve always pondered how much more productive I would be if I had a “dream office” to write and work in. Then I’ve thought about what that office would look like. In reality, I’m not exactly sure I could even come up with a solid example, just some abstract ideas. I sat down for a few minutes to ponder this.

What would your perfect writing/reading/working space look and feel like?

In my world, my writing space would have hard wood floors. Something dark, but not cherry or mahogany dark. I’d need a rolling chair, something that would support my back so I can sit upright. On my desk, I’d need a setup that allowed me to look straight ahead at my monitor or monitors and not have to tilt my head downward. I don’t know if I’d have a laptop, still, or switch to an iMac or similar. The desk itself would likely be minimalist in style, with maybe a drawer or small cabinet underneath to keep the clutter to a minimum.

I would need to have something playing music, probably a small speaker set behind me, nothing too loud or big so as to be distracting. A bookshelf would be nice, to hold all the books I don’t have (I’ll need to buy some books). I feel like the room would need a lot of light either from a window, from lighting fixtures, or both. The lighting can’t be harsh, though. When I’m up writing at 4:30 AM, the last thing I need is harsh light to work with.

Outside of that, I’d have to figure it out as I go along. Perhaps I can find some sort of genie in a magic bottle to grant me this writing space.

To Write, You Must Read

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” ~ Stephen King

Arguably one of the best fantasy and sci-fi writers of all time with almost four hundred different works written including such epic titles as Carrie, Salem’s Lot, It, Mr. Mercedes, Revival, and more, Stephen Kind makes a great point. With the onslaught of bite-sized media coming at us from all angles (tweets, status updates, Instagram photos) it’s now mainstream to only spend a few minutes reading about any particular topic.

I’ll admit, I enjoy bite-sized news as much as the next guy. When I’m checking social media, I’m doing it for one of two reasons: to get a quick update on the day and the world around me and to find something interesting to read about later. The key is the latter. I think if more people sat down and read a book (or at least listened to one), or even consumed more thoughtful and substantial information via something like a Podcast or another educational resource (a single-topic magazine, for example), we’d be overflowing with creativity as a people. Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of creative people in the world, already, and that’s awesome. But there are so many people that have so much to share, but don’t, for one reason or another.

What would have happened if Stephen King never published any of his works because he didn’t feel like they were interesting or he was a good enough writer? You never know who’ll come across your work someday, and in order to be good at writing, one has to be good at reading. I’ve consumed quite a few of Stephen King’s books, personally, and while I started writing for several reasons, his writing stimulated my creative juices in part just enough to help me get to the point where I write something every day of the week.

February 1, 2015

Harry’s: Get a Good Shave Without Nicking Your Wallet

To follow up my quick review of NatureBox yesterday, I received a second awesome package in the mail on Saturday. I recently ordered a new shave kit from a great company I hadn’t heard of until just recently called Harry’s. Harry’s does things a bit differently. Their claim to fame is they make all their own blades and firmly believe that charging a boat load of cash for a single replacement razor blade is dumb. Here’s what I thought of the kit when I first received it.

I ordered the basic Truman set in dark blue. Other colors include orange,white, and green. With the kit, I received two extra blades, a blade protector, and shave cream (the image above shows gel, which is also an option). Everything I need to get started. Since I already have after-shave that I really like, I opted out of ordering some, for now.

When the box arrived, it showed up in the mail. I could have ordered faster shipping but I think with enough foresight and planning, one could save money and still have their kit or replacement equipment show up on time. (more on their subscription option later).

I opened the box and the first thing I did was pull out the razor. With a blade pre-attached, I essentially had three blades at my disposal. The handle has some heft to it and I really like that. It’s curved and feels good in my hand.

The shaving cream I opted for smells great and while the tube isn’t very large, it’s enough to get started. I don’t have to continue using their cream or gel if I don’t want, but who knows, I might go for it with their subscription options.

Subscribe to a Smooth Face

If you’re a regular shaver, be it daily, every other day, or weekly, they have an option that’ll suit your needs. To prevent you from running out of razors, shaving cream, and after-shave, Harry’s will send you everything you need in the right intervals, automatically. Based on how often you shave, they’ll ship you two creams and eight blades every two, three, or five months for $31.00, or you can sign up for your own interval and include gel and aftershave at the interval you choose. Where else do you know that you can get eight high-quality blade cartridges for less $1.88 each and get shave cream or gel for $8 each? Good question.

Go sign up now with Harry’s and get equipment for a great shave for a great price.

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography