I Hate Waiting

It’s been a loooooong time coming.

I’ve been waiting for years for Google to do something with GrandCentral, which was an awesome idea way ahead of its time when they bought it in 2007. Well, here it is 2009 and Google has FINALLY brought it out of “secret Beta” mode, renamed it as Google Voice and made it even more drool-worthy by adding features that make the service even more compelling. Having one phone number for people to call that will automagically ring all your phones, or any one of your phones based on criteria you chose like the time of day or the person who is calling, was always pure genius. But now the other cool features, like call screening, caller ID, call blocking, conference calling, etc. make the service so awesome I can’t believe none of the “big” phone companies offer anything like it. But I bet this will wake some of them up soon. I mean, Google even has free voicemail transcription services so that all your voice messages are transcribed and searchable via your phone or the web!

And did I mention that this is all free?

The only real problem now is, of course, Google Voice is still in Beta and unavailable to the general public. I hope I can get on it soon because I really, REALLY want to try it out. I’ve been beating my head against the wall for years now, wondering why in this modern time people can’t be reached via one phone number for all their contact needs. Voice, texting, whatever. If I want to call you why do I need 5 different numbers to try, home, office, cell, etc.? Does it really matter to me where you are when I call you? I mean, why can’t our phones route incoming calls to whatever phone we want to receive calls on? Well, soon enough, when Google Voice goes public, I’ll sign up and finally be able to give out a single phone number from which I will always be reachable. Unless I block you because I don’t want to talk to you. Because I don’t like you. Because you never actually talk. And you kinda creep me out with all that heavy breathing and fwap-fwap sounds.

Seriously, stop calling me. Freak.

The Circus

More true now than ever.

Call it new technology
and they use it to burn
And they show no concern
Work for their prosperity
while the big wheels turn
Now it’s too late to learn
Don’t upset the teacher
though we know he lied to you
Don’t upset the preacher
he’s gonna close his eyes for you
And it’s a shame that you’re so afraid
Just a worker waiting in the pouring rain
Putting back the pieces of a broken dream
Putting back the pieces of a broken dream

Father worked in industry
Now the work has moved
on and the factories gone
See them sell your history
Where once you were strong
and you used to belong
There was once a future for a working man
There was once a lifetime for a skillful hand
Yesterday
And it’s a shame that you’re so afraid
Just a worker waiting in the pouring rain
Putting back the pieces of a broken dream

Bioshocked

Nothing good will come of this.

I’ve been playing Bioshock on my XBox 360 and to tell the truth, I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. Oh sure, the visuals look great and the story is pretty good, but to me it feels lacking. What it’s missing isn’t cool concepts or awesome stuff, which it has plenty of with the Little Sisters, Big Daddy’s, Adam, Eve, plasmids, hacking, weapons, and a giant, sprawling underwater city in decay. It also has a certain ‘wow’ factor when you first see it and begin to explore. However, after playing it for almost a week, even though I do like it enough to finish the game, I’ve found myself bored with it. I’ve gone back and looked at some of the games that I like to play and I can’t figure out why Bioshock isn’t a game I like as much as everyone else on the planet.

It’s driving me a little crazy.

I mean, it’s got all the right pieces to make me happy, it’s even fun in a semi-repetitive way. But maybe I’m finding it boring for the simple reason that I’m bored with first-person-shooters. No, that can’t be true because I just played through Half-Life 2 and, even though I hated the control system, I enjoyed playing the game itself. I’m not sure what the reason is, but Bioshock just isn’t doing “it” for me and that’s making me sad. And, as everyone knows, there’s only one thing I can do chase the sadness away.

That’s right. I’m going to play all 3 Halo games… AGAIN.

It’s-ah Me, Mario!

My daughter is going to have the coolest room ever.

Last week we bought some Blik Wall Decals and over the weekend I put them up on my daughter’s walls. Now her room looks like a giant homage to Donkey Kong, complete with flaming barrels, a Princess in Distress and even DK himself. I’m having a blast putting them up and reliving my youth when I could finish the entire arcade game on a single quarter.

OMG. I’m Geeking out over this.

Define Thyself

I wish people would stop mistaking me for a Nerd.

A lot of people keep calling me a Nerd without understanding that I’m a Geek, or even that there’s a difference between the two. So, since so many people don’t know the difference I think I’ll try to explain it here so everyone out there who wants to know can finally find the answer. Or at least my best attempt to answer this complex conundrum. And then, when some fool tells me that I’m a Nerd I can calmly tell them they’re mistaken and give them this URL so they can become educated on the subject and thus save their life because I won’t stab them in the uvula with a fountain pen.

My sincerest apologies, Frank. Get well soon.

In the hopes of making my personal definitions of Nerds and Geeks as simple and easy to comprehend as possible, I’ve tried to come up with a simple phrase to help describe the differences. Something that would be easy to remember. A defining catch-phrase that cleverly illustrated my point.

In that endeavor I failed miserably.

The best I could come up with was to co-opt and bastardize Bruce Lee’s famous description of Jeet Kune Do and liken Nerds and Geeks to water. But before I get to that, let me fully define to you the differences between Nerds and Geeks so you’ll fully grasp the utter lack of originality and cleverness of my catchphrase. That way, when you read it, you’ll have even greater joy as you write a hurtful and inflammatory comment making fun of me, my website, my lineage and my stupidity.

Hey, I always give the audience what they want.

So, to start off, how about we define what a Nerd is? OK, first off Nerds are fricking SMART. They usually have a vast and deep knowledge of a very narrowly defined subject like relational quantum mechanics or the theoretical viability of dimensional travel using man-made wormholes. Nerds are also, for the most part, socially awkward or even inept. They do not do well in public settings and have a really, really tough time interacting with figures of authority or people of the opposite sex. And if they are so unlucky as to be forced to attempt interaction with someone who is both a figure of authority AND a member of the opposite sex, then the poor Nerd will most likely spontaneously explode in fiery giblets from the sheer magnitude of their fright. Nerds usually have a very good sense of humor, but only if your IQ and area of expertise matches their own. Which is probably why 95% of the world thinks Nerds aren’t funny unless they’re getting into awkward situations on a sitcom, or involved in elaborate pratfalls in a movie.

Geeks, on the other hand, are also intelligent but just not to the extreme of a Nerd. They also have very large areas of knowledge and can carry on a conversation with nearly anyone as long as the conversation doesn’t get too deep into the minutia of a subject. You see, whereas a Nerd knows nearly everything in there area of expertise, a Geek knows a little bit about a vast amount of different subjects. Geeks want to know something about nearly everything that catches their fancy, while a Nerd usually only cares about knowing everything there is to possibly know the few things that interest them. This helps make Geeks far more socially adept than Nerds because a Geek can speak on a whole array of different subjects and thus integrate more easily with whatever social group he or she finds themselves engrossed in conversation with, while the poor Nerd would feel either ostracized or bored due to their lack of knowledge about whatever the subject du jour was. Lastly, a Geeks sense of humor is far more approachable to the average person because of, and due to, the Geeks wide pool of knowledge from which they can connect seemingly unconnected concepts. An obscure factoid gleaned during a late-night conversation with someone three years ago will, at the most opportune moment, be remembered by a Geek and used during a conversation today to make a hilarious punchline. In essence, Geeks thrive in social settings where they can use humor, while Nerds wither unless their expertise is being utilized.

Thus, the difference comes down to depth of knowledge (Nerd) vs. breadth of information (Geek).

This is why to me a nerd is like a very deep but frozen lake and a Geek is like a fast-moving but shallow river. Nerds are way, way, WAY smarter than Geeks on certain subjects and have a depth of knowledge on those subjects that few others could ever hope to comprehend, let alone match. Geeks on the other hand have larger areas of interest and thus a much wider pool of information to draw upon. Geeks know enough about nearly any subject to at least hold a conversation with someone where the Nerd simply could not. And that is why I classify myself as a Geek. I do fine in social settings, I can hold my own in nearly any conversation on almost any subject, but I’m just not anywhere near smart enough to be a Nerd. That’s not to say I’m not a little Nerdy on a few subjects (Anime anyone?), and I’m betting most people are Nerdy about a few things, but usually the differences between Nerds and Geeks spelled out above help to classify whether someone truly is a Nerd or a Geek.

Another way of putting it; Geeks are smart but Nerds make Geeks look stupid.

Nerds are frozen lakes with hidden depths of knowledge and Geeks are frothing rivers of information. If you want to have a conversation with someone where you’ll probably laugh while learning something new, talk to a Geek. If you want to truly understand a subject in great detail skip the Geek and go straight to a Nerd.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Presidential Freebie

Did you know you can spend money to buy money which SAVES YOU MONEY?

Do you have a rewards credit card? Does it offer you cash back for purchases? Then you can use this little “cash-hack” to earn rewards without really spending any money. For example, if your credit card offers you 1% cash back on purchases then you can use this little “hack” to earn that 1% and not actually spend any money while earning that reward. So if you spend $1,000 you’ll get $10 free. Spend $10,000 and you get $100. Spend $100,000 and… you’re an idiot. But you get the basic idea.

Free money?! But how?

Here’s how. The U.S. Mint is selling Presidential $1 coins at face value with free shipping and handling. That means you can buy money from the U.S. Mint, receive the money in the mail, deposit the money in your bank and then pay off your credit card with that money! See?! You can earn rewards from your credit cards and it doesn’t have to cost you anything at all. It’s even better if you have a rewards card with a higher cash back percentage, 3% is the current leader I believe, but any free money in this economy is good news, right?

Wow, never thought I’d live to see the day George Washington’s face on a coin gives me a woody.