Posted by at 23:15  1 Response »
Oct 102013

Social media presents a bit of a problem for me, indirectly.

When I come across something thought-provoking, I want to share it with people. I suspect this is true of most of us. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on make this easy. The collective inertia behind these sites makes new connections easy to establish, which only further adds to that inertia. For most people, that’s great. That’s as far as it goes and that’s as far as it needs to go. Hell, some people revel in the compartmentalization this affords. Facebook is the “friend” you, LinkedIn is the “business” you, Tumblr is the “secret” you, or whatever permutation you please. And to all those people, I say good on you. Go to, enjoy, have at.

My problem is that I have too many platforms on which to echo the same thing. I share articles and provide commentary on Facebook half a dozen times a day. I tweet1 when something terse pops into my head that doesn’t “merit” a Facebook post. And Tumblr? I don’t do much more than reblog on Tumblr.2

But what about this blog?

The reason I’m so terrible about remembering to post updates here is that my first instinct is to post them to Facebook. I haven’t got a good handle on how many people read the blog; I know how many Facebook friends I have. If I want to reach people with whom I’ve established some kind of meaningful connection, the feedback cues built into Facebook entice me into choosing it. The blog suffers. I took some steps toward alleviating that by installing a Facebook plugin and building a Facebook app that allows me to cross-post articles from the blog to my Facebook feeds–both my public-facing author page and my personal account.3 I’ve considered doing the same thing for Tumblr. I’ve installed a Twitter widget on the blog so that people who come here can see what I’ve tweeted recently.

It’s not enough.

The other side of this is the discussion and debate portion. For whatever reason(s), I have a hard time not getting into arguments on Facebook. If someone says something and I disagree with it, I’m inclined to say as much and explain why. Facebook is a terrible forum for engaging in any kind of reasoned debate about anything, as are Twitter and Tumblr. Comment threads grow unwieldy within a few responses, everyone assumes disagreement equates to accusation and character defacement, and so on. Chances are, if you have a Facebook account, you’ve had an argument on Facebook. You know what I’m talking about.

These arguments eat up a lot of time. Internet arguments always have for me, when they arise. I used to visit a forum wherein fact-substantiated argument occurred at the drop of a hat, but no concern was made to encourage civility in these discussions. Civility has no bearing on the validity of a point, but it does make a discussion a lot more bearable. Even so, I spent hours on this forum throughout college. One day, I just stopped going. I haven’t been back since. I think my resource usage has improved as a result.

I’ve recently been assimilated by Reddit, too. I’ve gotten into a handful of arguments there as well, though thankfully they have always remained far more civil–and informative!–than the others I’ve gotten into in the past. Still, it sucks up time and I regularly have to make a conscious decision to close the site and get on with something more productive. Reddit is an awesome tool for staying informed, learning new things, and having discussions with people across the globe. But it will eat up your time.

This is all a long-winded way of arriving at this point: I’m going to try to disentangle myself from directly interacting with social media.

Rather than hopping onto Facebook when I come across the next fascinating link, I’m going to post about it here. This place is a far better forum for my commentary. If you’re interested in what I have to say and want to discuss it, this is the place for that to happen. Not Facebook. My server, not Zuckerberg’s. I’m going to make another deliberate effort to keep my Facebook interactions relatively brief. If I have something that I want to talk about with someone in an in-depth way, it’s probably worth writing about here in an in-depth way and then providing them with a link. If they don’t care to read it, that’s all the information I really need on how that discussion would’ve gone elsewhere. Facebook is going to be for staying in touch with people and organizing events, or in the case of my public page, keeping  a searchable presence for those interested in my authorial pursuits. That’s it. The blog will continue to cross-post to both of my Facebook feeds, but I won’t respond to any commentary there with more than a brief, “Hey, if you want to chat about this, head over to my blog and I’d be more than happy to!”4 I’ll be looking into a cross-posting plugin for Tumblr, too, for the same effect.

Twitter will be my go-to for terse, trivial updates. “Gosh, it’s nice today!” or “Man, that goalie must have been precognitive to block all of those shots!” will go there. Again, Twitter is a big, visible, public platform. I want people interested in my work to find me. If they want to get in-depth, come here.

Door’s open.

  1. There was a time when I swore I would never use this term, nor Twitter itself. Sigh. []
  2. Tumblr kind of scares me, to be honest. []
  3. Having two accounts has also made me worry about being too “noisy” for people who follow both; they’ll often see the same content posted twice. []
  4. I’ve also removed the “Like” buttons from the blog, for reasons unrelated to all of this. []

Embracing Social Media

 Posted by at 22:35  No Responses »
Feb 082011

After resisting since its inception, I broke down and got myself a Twitter account.

I’ve been listening to a great deal of Frog Pants Network podcasts while driving to and from work (specifically, the Morning Stream, the Instance, and Film Sack). The hosts are all very active on Twitter. When one encounters enthusiasm for a thing, that enthusiasm tends to spill over. That’s at least part of it. Scalzi and a number of other persons of interest to me are also active on Twitter, which is another factor. I think, though, that the tipping point came when those two components combined with the impact that social media as a whole seems to be having on the protests in Egypt. Its actual level of impact may be vastly overhyped, much as everything “novel” is vastly overhyped when it plays even a small role, but regardless of scope, it’s been involved.

For a long time, Facebook, Twitter, and the various other Web 2.0 social media titans have seemed to me little more than a gimmick. True, I rely on Facebook heavily for orchestrating activities with friends, but other than a tool to do that, it’s largely a sea of noise. It seemed to me that Twitter was all of the noise with none of the utility. But once one is confronted with the idea that these gimmicky-seeming things can actually have a real impact on real social causes in this interconnected world, one has little choice but to swallow one’s pride and accept it.

I also have to admit that I like how much integration I can achieve between Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. I can tweet (I still hate that verb used in this context) and have it show up on both Facebook and here in the blog’s side bar. I like that quite a lot.

We’ll see how long my enthusiasm for it lasts.

Jul 092010

This post is a rant.  I’m only moderately pulling my punches.  Yes, it’s probably about you.  You have been warned.

Many people have the Google search engine web page set as their default page.  That’s fine, and not a terrible idea.  When you want to find something, and don’t know where to go for it, Google’s a fantastic gateway.

What Google is not is a place to put in a URL (a web page “address”).  If someone provides you a URL, and you put it into the Google search bar, you are asking Google to search for that URL.  This is, in the technical sense, not going to get you want you want.  Unfortunately, because Google is so expansive, it often does get people what they want.  This builds a bad habit that reared it’s hideous, deformed head lately.

If you punch the wedding website URL into Google…you get links to this blog.  That’s because I’ve mentioned the wedding here, and Google is also picking up on the “McC3D.com” part of the URL.  You won’t get the wedding website itself, because it doesn’t index (i.e. Google doesn’t pick it up in its catalog of the internet).   The blog does index.

This was presented to me as a “problem with the wedding website” that “people couldn’t get to.”  When I hear those words, I become alarmed.  My webserver’s pretty important to me, and if something’s not working correctly, I want to fix it as quickly as possible.  But when I find out that the only thing wrong is people not understanding how to properly use their web browser, I get upset.  Very upset.  I don’t particularly care to have technical issues pinned on me that are A) not technical and B) not my fault.

The anatomy of a web browser:

You should really know this stuff before setting foot into the internet.  This is basic and fundamental.

This is the proper way to use your web browser.

In closing:

Constricted Posting

 Posted by at 16:16  No Responses »
Jun 242010

Hey, a new look for the blog! This change in decor precipitated by upgrading to the latest version of WordPress.

Our wedding invitation

Invitations have been cast to the four winds at this point. Cody and I plunked down and cooked up a design we were both happy with, had ’em printed, and mailed ’em off as we accrued the needed addresses over a period of a few days. We re-tooled the website slightly so that all of our invitees could RSVP online, via a fun little form that also invites them to supply song requests. Additionally, Cody and I can now see at-a-glance who has RSVP’ed in the affirmative, in the negative, and who hasn’t RSVP’ed, as well as our total guest count, and other fun data like that.

To  me, every one of these vests is the same.

You all are wearing the exact same thing, in different colors!

The new daunting task is finding something to wear. You’d think finding a slightly atypical waistcoat wouldn’t be that hard, but apparently everyone and their mother only makes the one sort of waistcoat. Yes, I realize that “buttons down the center” isn’t technically a single type of waistcoat, but it may as well be. I want something that doesn’t look like every other thing out there, which is much the same way I felt about finding a suit when I was still looking for one.

I recently bought a three-piece suit for a friend’s wedding. One piece among the triad is a waistcoat. It’s an interesting design — it buttons diagonally rather than straight down. I returned yesterday to the place from which I had purchased said waistcoat, only to have them show me three essentially identical waistcoats and then inform me that they couldn’t help me. Bull. At this point, I’m tempted to try and find something unique at a costume shop and then have it replicated by someone. Costumers, I suspect, will make more interesting clothing than tailors.

Blogging is a weird thing. I want to get to a point where I’m posting something of vague value every day. However, doing so is complicated by several unrelated factors. The bulk of my time is devoted to work, which I can’t talk about. I also spend a good chunk of time playing WoW. Self-indulgent flights of fancy aside, most people won’t care about my latest WoW exploits. I also want to talk about my story ideas and other things of that nature, but keeping those sort of under wraps is the prudent choice, so that nixes that subject. That leaves wedding stuff and other life events to talk about, which are more sporadic topics with bursts of information. I could wax poetic about mowing the lawn or taking out the garbage, but…do you really want to hear about that?

I didn’t think so.

Sep 012009

I haven’t posted at my RPG-focused blog in over a year, so it seemed prudent to close it down and move all of its posts over here. In order to help organize things, I’ve obliterated the existing categories I had set up here and moved all articles into the “Uncategorized” category, which shall henceforth hold the normal blog posts. Anything in the Role-Playing Games category will hold material that would have previously been posted to RPG-at-McC3D. I’ve moved all the users and comments over, as well.

Apr 142009

The first particularly intriguing article I stumbled across this morning was about a blind man that sees with sound. He’s managed to teach himself how to “see” by clicking his tongue and using the reflected sound to analyze his environment. I find it astounding that a human being, with no particular biological organ devoted to the geometric interpretation of acoustic data, can do this and, what’s more, that it can even be taught.

The second article, also from New Scientist, deals with diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, nor am I at risk to “get” it, but I find anything dealing with overcoming human ailments through science fascinating. It seems as though a stem cell treatment on trial patients in Brazil has freed most of them from requiring insulin treatments. As one who scoffs at the crowd decrying stem cell research as immoral, that research in the field has produced such promising medical advances is heartening and satisfying.

While we’re rattling down the points-of-interest list, a friend pointed me at an amusing pictorial blog today called This Is Indexed. The general theme of the blog is taking two potentially disparate groups and using them as axes on a graph to depict a humorous correlation. Man, was that a Vulcan/android-esque description or what? Anyway, worth a look.

Writing Professionally

 Posted by at 10:20  No Responses »
Apr 072009

The first career path to which I gave serious consideration was authoring fiction.  The driving motivation behind this idea — telling stories — drives a disproportionate number of my hobbies: independent film-making, movie/TV-watching  and game-playing (on the receiving end of told stories, in this case), role-playing games.  Every other career I entertained the notion of pursuing held storytelling as a key component: acting, directing, visual effects for film, and now game development.  Within the last year, I decided that having a “day job” by no means precluded professional writing.  Author John Scalzi, internet-famous for his Whatever blog, cemented this decision by restating my own conclusion in as many words.  This led to my involvement in NaNoWriMo 2008, which I completed within the designated timeframe.  Though the resultant short novel is not something I feel is worth publishing (contrary to prior statements I’ve made about it), the simple fact that I wrote it armed me with the confidence that I can write a novel.

Pursuant to my goal to be a professional writer, I decided yesterday that I would take another page from Scalzi’s playbook and try to write a blog entry every day from now on.  My morning routine includes perusing a number of websites (a task made much simpler thanks to Google Reader and the wonder of RSS), which often have several interesting stories worth pointing out.  My hope is that readership here will grow beyond the small circle of friends that now read it and that it can become a community unto itself.

What do I mean by professional writer?  I don’t mean quitting my day job.  Scalzi (yeah, you’re going to see him name-dropped quite often) makes the observation that unless you can guarantee annual income from writing that’s 30% above what you make at your current day job, your financial situation will be worse if you quit your job to focus on writing.  The only reason to quit your job for writing is that if holding the job impedes the income you could otherwise make from writing.  

Professional writer, in this sense, is synonymous with Stephen King’s definition of a talented writer: if you wrote something and someone paid you for it, you’re talented.  It doesn’t matter if the writing was technical, analytical, editorial, or fictional — if you wrote something and got paid, you fit the definition.  Take it as a forgone conclusion that my ideal world would have me waking up at noon to eat breakfast and surf the internet for an hour, writing fiction for the next five, eating dinner with Cody, and then spending the evening on entertainment, all while making much more than I make now.  It’s not an unrealistic fantasy, but it’s not one that will come without time and effort.  

Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to elect to do things you otherwise might not choose to do.  To that end, I stopped procrastinating last night and bought myself a copy of Writer’s Market 2009.  This book is the ultimate go-to resource for writers, listing every publishing outlet for every topic available.  I plan to find a small outlet that publishes articles I might be able to write about with some intelligence, and submitting.  Without some incredible luck, it won’t be fiction.  I would be more than happy, however, to be paid for writing movie reviews, technical reviews, game reviews, or any other number of topics on which I tend to pontificate anyway.

As with every other industry, you first need to get your foot in the door.  Prove that you’re publishable in a small way before you can hope to hit big.

A New Beginning

 Posted by at 11:19  No Responses »
Jun 182008

This past weekend, my good friend Dan got married.  Both Cody and I, along with our friend Fras and his wife Jess, attended the Vancouver area wedding.  For their honeymoon, Dan and Nicole are taking a road trip to southern California.  During their trip, they’re blogging together on what used to be Dan’s personal blog.  The idea of a joint blog for a couple struck me as a fun idea and I proposed it to Cody.  She agreed, and here we are!

This blog replaces our LiveJournal blogs.  We bandied about the idea of back-porting all of our old LiveJournal entries into this blog, but opted against doing so for now.

Look for more to come in the near future.