I don’t have any gamer friends that I know. I don’t know anyone with an Xbox that does anything other than just watch Netflix or Hulu so I’m just throwing this short post up to see if anyone out there has an Xbox One, plays Dead Rising 3, Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty Ghosts and wants to team up for some games.
Ping me and we’ll connect!
I could watch this video every day. I do tend to watch it every week. It’s my favorite video produced by this company and can easily be applied to any task even if that has nothing to do with technology.
I know a lot of very proud Apple employees and this video embodies everything they stand for and work toward each and every day.
I work a job that issues a smartphone and a computer. I have to attend meetings from home sometimes and this requires having technology. I also like the advantages of buying content digitally and not relying on a cable company and digital books are superior to the physical ones. I’m still in the world of tech but today, I took the next steps toward further distancing myself from the tech world.
5-10 years ago, I’d be supported for this decision but now I’m treated like a second class citizen or like one of those people who is Vegan because it’s cool. I’m one of those guys who only uses hand written notes and rocks his tin-foil hat when communicating to someone else. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m not depressed and I’m not leaving the world. I’m just leaving the regular Internet and everyone I know is freaking out about that.
The writing was on the wall for this ever since the day I wrote that people should only use services that charge them for it, where you’re the customer instead of just a page view. My activities aren’t just sold to the highest bidder, they’re exploited and my life is mapped and used to target ads and now, to possibly convict me of terrorism. When our activities online are not only sold but also used to prosecute us, I’m done. I’m not going to get preachy about this decision because I’m a huge minority here. There is a day in the near future where I won’t be able to buy a new computer or phone where the hacks that allow me to live on the Internet anonymously will be totally gone. It’s depressing so I feel like I’m sort of using the web in the 90s but for the sake of owning my own data and being protected from a maniacal government, it’s worth it.
Step 2: Purchase a Secure anonymized Tunnel. My tunnel is out of Finland but on an island away from most government jurisdiction. Once the signal leaves my computer, it goes right into an out of the country service. Yes, I’ll lose Hulu and Netflix and other streaming services but I don’t use those anyway so it’s not a loss to me.
Step 3: Order a DD-WRT FlashRouter. I chose a Cisco box that will be flashed with an operating system that has Quality of Service and IP-Mapping specs that far outweigh that of regular consumer routers and the router maintains my full-time tunnels with my Dutch Server and my Finnish secure tunnel.
At any time I access any web content via any device in my home, I’m doing so from another country in a fully anonymous stream.
Protecting My Activities:
Pre-Shared Keys: GPG Keys are encrypting all of my outgoing emails so all content sent by me is signed and hashed so no longer are my messages sent in plaintext and open to be intercepted by anyone that wants to. I also have an SSL Certificate for my server and computers. This way, all of the services that I want to use are protected by a certificate so only a computer that physical has the cert installed can access some of my content. My server requires HTTPS and the SSL Cert be installed on the computer requesting data. Safe, secure and no more sending my content in plain text.
Using the Tor Browser Suite: I wish I knew more about how this worked but Vidalia and Tor work together to anonymize my online activities via a network of global nodes.
In Safari, using blockers so that advertisers, cookies, trackers and packet sniffers are thwarted: I no longer want to use Safari but if I have to, I have a lot of things installed which make my activities untraceable and it took a while to configure but I had it ask me every time a tracker / sniffer on a website was activated and it was a full day of surfing with lots of prompts before I’ve gotten almost 90% of the trackers set to deny.
Abandoning all services that don’t take my money:
There are utilities that enhance my life and then there are time-wasting social networks and none of them take my money. Most often, my activities are making them money and they cave in to give my data to federal agencies the moment they’re asked to. Enough.
I deleted all of the social networks I wasn’t already using and I’ll be purging more as time goes along. I’m still working on finding alternative open source / paid for software to replace a lot of things. Notable, Flickr, Tumblr, AIM/GChat and pretty much every Google Service that I use (Analytics, Voice, YouTube, Mail) Twitter, app.net and Facebook I’ve gotten rid of. The purge will happen slowly but it’s happening. I now have the server capacity to host all of my own content and life moments. I can open some things up to the public and protect the rest to families that have my pre-shared keys.
This is only the beginning:
I really don’t know what’s going to happen next with this change. My social circle is already very small the people that care about me know how to reach me. You’d be amazed how much turning location services off on your iPhone will affect your day to day getting around. Going back to a dumb-GPS unit and uninstalling every social network and Pandora.
The future comes faster when your’e have concrete ideals toward how you use technology. Every video game is a digital download, Blockbuster is gone and you’re forced to rent movies digitally. A credit card is necessary. For years, I never had a credit card and still don’t have one but my debit card just isn’t really doing it and my credit score is keeping me from getting loans…not my score but my lack of credit entirely. These sort of things are going to get more difficult for me as time goes on. For now, I’m happy with the decision and thrilled to have more control over my data outside of the reach of our government and the capitalist companies that mine our data.
I will continue to blog and maybe I’ll find a 140-character open source application that allows me to post blips to a single page on my web server so I can still tweet but do it on my own terms. I don’t think anyone would go out of their way to read it but I enjoy Twitter, blogging and photography. I just won’t give in further to the way things are going and I’m going to do it on my terms. I’d say you should join me but it’s not for everyone.
Actually, in talking to my Dad about these his response was, “I just don’t use the internet at all and remain cash-only on everything” He’s right but he also was pretty bummed when Blockbuster closed. I feel his pain.
but ya know, Blockbuster had a database as well on every purchase. I bet they sold that off to the highest bidder a long time ago. That’s the world we’re living in.
I’ve completely stopped reading the newspaper, books and online articles. I’ve stopped playing the 1-2 games I like (Simpsons and Plants vs Zombies) and I’m spending a lot less time in bed lately. When I lay down, I’m going to sleep, not to read or browse Reddit. Why has my consumption of the best of the web and current events stopped so abruptly?
I sold my iPad.
I didn’t have to sell it but the iPad 3 was feeling very long in the teeth. I owned an iPad 1 and a 2. The 3 was thicker but had a retina display. I didn’t go 4 because I was still financially recovering from the 3. Two iPads in a year was too much. When the 5 came out, wow. The iPad Air is insanely fast, has a thunderbolt connection, has a brighter and more color-rich display, supports more Cellular radio bands and the form factor is perfect. When the iPad mini was announced, I was convinced I’d switch to it once a retina model came around. The biggest reason being the footprint of the device, not the screen. The iPad mini’s screen is too small for me as I can use the iPad 4+ hours a day on average to read books, ingest the paper and occasionally play YouTube videos. I need a device that is completely separate from the iPhone screen and the mini is just not large enough to differentiate itself. However, the mini compared to the last gen iPad, that bezel and weight made a huge difference. I almost went mini until the air came out and whoa, I’m sticking with air.
I haven’t even held an iPad air yet. The nearest Apple Store is 2 hours away but I’m certain that I want it over the mini. The thing is, the devices are almost technically identical so there is a sort of feeling that I should go mini just for the price for performance aspect. Nope…iPad air it is.
While financially, things are pretty tight right now with the holidays coming up and a new business venture that is cost me a bit more than I’d care to admit, I’ll be ordering an iPad Air soon. But believe me when I say that it’s very hard to read on a MacBook or iMac or iPhone. The iPad is my consumption device now and I like selling my iPad 2-5 weeks before ordering a new one simply because I like to make sure I absolutely need one in my life and yes, I need one. While I could go back to a flip-phone very easily and I could ditch the iMac and just use my MacBook if I had to, the iPad has put itself as a device that I must have. I bought the NY Times the other day and the New Yorker and flipping pages, the need to stuff a wad of paper in my back pack and open it in a huge spread is cumbersome. Digital is the way to go and the iPad is here to stay at least for this tech guy.
I’ll be ordering one in a week and look forward to having the tablet back in my life.
I researched for a while about changing up my tires and wheels on the Golf. I went for Motegi Racing’s MR116 at 17×7 which is one size down from the OEM tires on my car @ 18inches. I like the look of these. They’re about 3 pounds lighter than the stock wheels and the black finish is quite nice. It’s also matte so it has the feeling of suede leather to the touch. No joke! The wheels are my second set of performance winter tires. The last were the Michelin Alpin 3 for my Corolla and I loved those tires. These are the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 at 17 inches because I need smaller tires to increase winter handling.
I also stocked up on -27 degree de-icing wash and replaced the stock wipers on my car with Bosch Icon blades on front & back. Finally, I gave my car a bit of leather scrub / protectant for the 2nd time since buying it. Not big changes but certainly some to help me get through the harsh winter up here. I have some other car changes soon so hopefully I can keep this series going throughout the upgrades.
Data is really interesting and it tells the story. My perception and the specs released by auto-manufacturers simply don’t match the real-world. As someone who logs data points about my life every hour of the day, I thought it would be interesting to see how my new car, a turbocharged, 0-60 in 5.2 seconds Golf with 256 horsepower that weighs 3,300 pounds compares to my old car, a 2010 Corolla that weighs 2,700 pounds, 0-60 in 8.6 seconds and peaks at 132 horsepower.
On paper, the Corolla’s MPG comes in at 26/35 and the Golf R is 19/27.Aside from the requirement of premium fuel and the higher insurance premium given the Golf R’s status as a “sports car”, I expected the biggest week-to-week grief over my new car was the visits to the fuel pump. The total cost of ownership (TCO) would also be higher with the Golf R. It has a 37K sticker price and the Corolla came in at 21,5K. The Golf R requires premium fuel and my insurance is 20% higher and then there is that “German Parts” problem when repairs cost me a lot more. A lot of friends told me the biggest thing I’d experience would be roominess of going from a compact car to a compact hatchback. However, both models have a 92 cubic feet volume inside and are almost evenly matched in all ways (headroom, legroom and width).
Really, the curb-weight and engine types along with the Golf being all wheel drive (2 axles) was going to lead to a drop in fuel efficiency. Now that I’ve owned the Golf for 6 months it would be fun to compare the fuel usage.
Let’s start with the high-level view:
Ignoring the fact that I’ve driven 15K+ miles in 6-months, these cars are pretty evenly matched. My driving style is actually more aggressive with the Golf (at least that’s what my GF says by always screaming at me to slow down). The turbo-charger is sucking in more air and thus using more gas and the extra 500 pounds of weight in the Golf and larger engine means that, on paper, this fuel economy doesn’t make sense. I’m in the same town, with the same commute to work and the same twice a week highway drives to northern Vermont to buy beer. Yet, the MPG is fairly matched.
The only variable that is worth highlighting is that we aren’t in winter yet. The Golf hasn’t seen a winter drive so my MPH with steel wheels, harder tires and blasting the heater may lead to a drop in this average. Let’s dive deeper.
Based on the MPG, the golf costs 15 cents per mile and the Corolla costs 13 cents but look at the average price per gallon. Did the fuel price in my area drop? Corolla was a regular 87/89 octane fill up and the Golf requires 93 octane yet the price per gallon on the golf is $3.98 and the Corolla is $3.94. Not a huge sway so overall, I’m paying the same for gas in 2013 as I did in 2011/2012 despite a higher octane.
The one thing that I’d like to work toward in this new car is driving less. My commute is 15 miles each way to work so that means an average of 7,800 miles a year just getting to and from work. The problem is the 55 miles each way to Hill Farmstead brewery every 2 weeks and trips down to Boston or Albany for beer meet ups and 3 road trips each year that are 800+ miles. The problem with having a car that’s really fun to drive is that you actually want to drive it.
This greatly affects the resale value so it’s something that I should remain mindful of. The biggest takeaway in this exercise though is the fact that I’m beating manufacture estimates for MPG on the Golf and was under the estimates for the Corolla. I think that’s because the smaller engine made Corolla work harder and, as an aggressive driver sometimes, that meant a lower MPG. Golf doesn’t have to work as much, therefore gets higher and thus the two models basically meet in the middle.
While I don’t think gas prices are going to drop much more, that has contributed a lot.
TCO on the Golf…well, ignoring the fact that I’ve spent $2400 in gas in 6 months alone, it’s way higher than the Corolla in car payment, service and insurance. However, it’s the most fun car I’ve ever driven and now I realize fuel costs aren’t a huge deal as was previously anticipated. If I start driving less, the savings would be even better. That’s not any fun though.
I visited Seattle in 2010 when Ford gave me a car and a single Seattle Seahawks ticket for opening weekend.The drive from San Francisco to Seattle with a stop-over in Portland was fun. Only 3 years ago but it feels like decades since I’ve been here.
Seattle is one of those cities I could probably live in if people didn’t get to me so easily. Every city, even the small ones have too many people now and I’d prefer to be left alone, to work on solo projects and stay connected via the stream of an Internet data connection that pipes into my mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop. It’s really unfortunate that large congregations of people are such a turn off because, if they weren’t, I’d live in Seattle next. Well, it’s a toss-up between Seattle and Portland.
Going back west for California is likely to never happen but to spend 5 years in the PacNW would be a lot of fun. There are still seasons once you’re inland and the mentality of the inhabitants seems almost universally accepting and respectful of the opinions and passions of everyone around them. I’ve spent most of the time here in Seattle in the gay district which is known to have the best food, bars and nicest people. In Portland, it’s around the hipsters who brew beer, roast coffee and their primary source of sustenance is via food trucks operated by professional chefs.
Not all hope is lost for a time where I live in this area. For sure, the obvious compromise is that I move to Oregon somewhere away from the cities, away from the people. There are a ton of cabins on a few acres of land where people are working with their hands and making a good living.
Am I unhappy with where I live? Not at all. Would it be nice to change things up? Yeah, go to an area where I can enjoy a bit more culture than Vermont has to offer.
I’m sitting in a cafe called Arabica on Seattle’s Capital Hill. This could probably be the best tasting espresso shot ever pulled. The croissant well, it’s nothing like the memories of waking up at 5AM in the northern french countryside to enjoy a croissant from a bakery in a town with 3 businesses; a bakery, a cathedral and a bar. That was the single best bread I’ve ever had but this is pretty good for an American establishment. The coffee however is excellent. Of course the cafe uses Square to accept payments. I paid with my phone!
In fact, I got to this cafe by hailing an individual who rents out their car to people via Lyft. I click “pick me up” on my phone and the person Michael arrived in 2 minutes. He dropped me off at the cafe and on my phone, a choice to donate $5-$15 to him was a single push of a button. I used Yelp to find out which cafe was best in this area and where to get my haircut. The last time I had a beard trim so well done was in India when they used straight razors and massage oil but this was close enough.
I miss a lot about cities. The fact that only establishments that focus on quality survive, where Yelp reviews mean something and you can hail cabs with a smartphone and pay via phone and a single FourSquare check-in leads to an old friend calling you up to have lunch because that check in triggers an alert on their phone that you’re in town. The combination of problems being solved by technology and the incredibly rich diversity of people makes cities so exciting to me. My friend Nick texted me, “On my way” with a foot-note at the end of the text, “Sent via Google Glass”. I chuckled that he’s talking to me out loud while walking but felt jealous that he has this computer on his head. It’s so futuristic as he taught me to use it.
A few times a day, I’m pondering the thought of moving here, or moving to any city like this. I won’t though knowing now that people annoy me on this level of density it’s unlikely I’d make that move. Driving around the Pacific Northwest has me thinking that this region is worth a second look. Colorado also deserves my attention but not Utah, nah I’m good with not living in Utah.
There’s a deeper misunderstanding within that has me wondering why move at all. What inside makes me think that someplace would be better than where I am currently and when will I just figure out that being back home in Florida would be the best possible thing for me. Actually, these questions don’t really have answers. I have fallen in love with Vermont. It’s a wonderful state but northwest america, outside of the cities maybe by mount Rainier or Des-chutes Oregon would be a lot of fun.
Recently, an old friend and I chatted consistently over email for over a week. We each scared each other off with our longer growing messages to each other but it was good to catch up. On a side note, since leaving social media there are so may long lost friends who have reached out. I greatly appreciate their doing that. It’s been awesome to reconnect and each of them mentions that while they followed me on Twitter or Facebook that they weren’t really connected with me. They were just following a narrative that I presented. We weren’t engaging so I’m glad to be engaged with these friends on a more direct level. Anyway, this friend and I discussed romanticism of our lives. Call it a millennial problem but she and I lamented of our ideal when it came to adulthood and that every person living has an intriguing story that I think is worth telling. It’s this romantic notion of life that had me so interested in social media and blogging as a child. The idea that one day this journey would be interesting to someone. The thought wasn’t that my story was that interesting but that everyone’s was unique and special and worth telling.
I still believe this but as I approach 30 years old, there’s this other side that realizes that the day to day isn’t all that exciting. It’s why a biography from a famous person doesn’t detail even their first kiss or the feeling they had graduating from college. Those sort of things aren’t important in the big picture and I got caught up in the small stuff and wasted a lot of time detailing it.
There is still value in chronicling ideas even privately. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll be living in a cabin in Oregon and find something romantic about this post just as I do about the post back in 2010 when I blogged about wanting to make a change in the next few months and then I got a call about a job in New Hampshire. The same kind of post was made before moving to SF so while the chances of another change are slim, I ponder it and maybe something will happen.
Above all because my readership is pretty large between family, friends and colleagues I’m very happy where I live and with the job that employs me. I have side-gigs that I can do from anywhere in the world but my 9-5 is very important to me. I could do that job remotely but it wouldn’t be the same so I won’t actively pursue any ideas here but it’s fun to think about.
Maybe a good analogy to my emotions toward big cities is that a populated area is like owning a sports car but living in conditions that are rainy, icy and cold. There is this possibility of dining at nice restaurants, meeting interesting people and having the opportunities that come with a large amount of people living in a small space but when your day to day is slow paced and you mostly work alone and prefer to be alone, those advantages are moot. Seattle has been fun to visit but after only 3 days, I’m ready to go back to Vermont and prepare for the long winter, brew some beer, roast some coffee and live out my own little hipster existence without the fancy coffee shops or technological awesomeness. Sort of do things all on my own and continue taking advantage of how lucky I am to live in one of the quietest and least populated areas of America. Because as much as I long to live in a place like Seattle or Chicago or even Austin, I equally would like to move to a cabin in northern Canada and specialize more in living off the land, making my own garments and doing my own things 100% self-sustaining. That sounds a lot more special than being another city-dweller who dabbles in home brewing.
For now, I’m just going to enjoy quite possibly the best espresso ever made and romanticize about the lives of the people in cars passing by on their way to a new adventure.
Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.