Well, this is... different.
I was flabbergasted when i read the article below (and trust me, it takes a LOT to flabbergast me as I get older and more cynical...but I disgress...). People under the age of 30 are losing their handwriting skills because everything they write and print is by keyboard! An excerpt of the Toronto Star article is after the jump.
I just may take up my handwritten journal again, purely as protest against this horror. And I just may force my nephews to hand-write their letters to their Uncle Ryan, instead of sending emails back and forth.
I mean, I am a super-geeky guy who spends a lot of time with computers--but the thought of losing my handwriting skills gives me a real chill. We may need to create a Society for the Preservation of Handwriting.
Radio Paradise is an Internet based radio station devoted to offering alternative music. Based in Paradise, California, this little “radio station” is a throwback to those early experimental days of FM of the 1970’s. In those days a DJ was a disk jockey, not just an employee of a large corporation.
“It seems that everyday it gets harder making an honest dollar without giving up a little piece of your soul to the corporate reaper.” So William (Bill) Goldsmith felt when he started Radio Paradise. Yet as time went on it became apparent that he wasn’t the only one who felt this way as more and more people tuned in. Internet radio had come into its own thus allowing new avenues of creative expression that traditional radio couldn’t achieve. (Source: Case Study: Radio Paradise)
Radio Paradise mostly plays different styles of pop and rock music, but occasionally also everything from jazz to classical to electronic music and world music. (Source: WikiPedia article on Radio Paradise)
Now with over 35,000 registered users from around the world (there's an interactive global map for you to see where they are), Radio Paradise seems to be doing quite well. And for once, I have found an Internet radio station that plays music very similar to my own eclectic tastes: everything from 10,000 Maniacs to Neko Case to Jimi Hendrix to Neil Young to Louis Armstrong, all mixed in together. No rap, no hip-hop, just good tunes :-) The only downside is lack of support for Audioscrobbler.
Best of all, you can listen for free, although they do want regular listeners to donate to help keep the station afloat. You can also register and take part in music rating, discussion forums, and the like.
I've decided to start calling my car A.M. That's short for "Accident Magnet". I had my trusty, rusty Ford Festiva for 10 years, and no accidents. I've had my Toyota Echo for three years, and this morning I was involved...
My new fave "Weird Al" Yankovic video (dated a bit, but still funny:
"You've got your own newsgroup, alt.total.loser" LOL
One of the latest new trends hitting the Internet is something called "crowdsourcing": using free Internet volunteers to collectively do a job (and often, a better job) than a paid employee would usually do. For example, digg.com is an example of a website where the job of a news editor is completely outsourced to Internet volunteers; the selected stories rise and fall in significance as they are "dugg" (voted on) by readers. The most-dugg stories reach the front page.
Another good example of crowdsourcing: The Google Image Labeler, which turns the job of attaching tags/labels to pictures into a game, pitting you against another Internet user somewhere in the world. The the more tags/labels both of you get in common, the more points you get (not that the points are really worth anything at the moment). It's brilliant: Google using free, willing volunteer labour to obtain more accurate labels to apply to its store of indexed images.
Try the Labeler game yourself, it's a great timewaster ;-)
I've been spending some time tagging musical tracks to add to the new radio station I've created on Last.fm (bar none, the best streaming radio service on the Internet, and one of the successful examples of the power of social networking in cyberspace). Here's how you listen in, step by step:
Step 1. Go to the Last.fm website and click on the "Join Last.fm button with the big green arrow. You'll be at the Sign Up screen (see right). All you need to give is a username and password, and if you prefer, an email address to send your password to if you should forget it. That's it; you don't need to give out your email address or your real name or your phone number or your credit card name; you can sign up and listen for free).
Step 2. Once you've registered, you go to the Account Created screen (see left). Click on the button with the big green arrow that says "Download Last.fm". Follow the instructions link underneath the button if you need more help with installing the software.
Step 3. Once the Last.fm software is installed on your PC or Mac or whatever it is you're using, just go to this page where you'll see a button that says 'Personal Tag Radio" and a list of the 500 songs playing on my radio station (see right). Click on the "Personal Tag Radio", et voila! Commercial-free music selected for your listening pleasure by yours truly :-)
(Or, to make it ridiculously easy, after your software is installed, just click here. The Last.fm software will automatically load the station and begin playing.)
Honestly, I don't even know why I bother.
Every so often I think I'm missing something and I sign back on to gay.com. And every time I do, I get hit in the face with all the reasons why I left in the first place.
Tonight I decided to check it out again, updated my profile with a new pic (below) and launched into chat. To be immediately assailed by chatbots who want you to sign up for porno websites. And then ignored by the people you used to chat with. And then realizing, once again, what a hollow, shallow place the chat room is, and that you haven't missed a God-damn thing in all the time you were offline.
One of my best friends, who is online a lot, chatted with me for a bit and agreed that it's bad in the chatroom. I'm afraid I just can't understand why he hangs out on gay.com every evening for hours and hours. It seems to me all it does is get him more tired and depressed and cynical about "the gay scene".
Meh, maybe I'll peek in again in 2007 sometime. Or 2008. The time I would be wasting online I'd rather put towards research for my book, or losing a few pounds at the gym, or adding tracks to my personal Last.fm station, or evening out my suntan at the beach, or folding and putting away my laundry, or going for coffee or supper or a funny movie with a some friends.
Sometimes I wonder if it's the same over on the straight boards like lavalive or eharmony.
A website that automatically checks and calculates which of Amazon's many stores (amazon.com, amazon.ca in Canada, amazon.jp in Japan, amazon.de in Germany) offers the best deal (factoring in current exchange rates and shipping)!
Here's the display for a Japanese import album I keep thinking about buying, which shows that it's actually cheaper to buy it from Amazon Japan than Amazon Canada. I've been looking for a tool like this for ages!!