Tag Archives: personal

Parenting and Pinball

“It’s amazing how little ability we have to shape the lives of our children. You do what you can, but their personalities are predominantly formed by the times they live in, their friends, and other influences. Parenting is sort of like pulling back the lever of a pinball machine, and just letting the ball fly.”
Humans of New York.

There is a lot of great stuff on this page to read, but that quote really struck me as being very true.1


  1. I would offer a direct link to the quote and accompanying photo, but it appears this is a tumblr blog, which is requiring I set up an account to do so. Um, no? Great job undermining the spirit of the WWW, guys. UPDATE: Whoops. It appears that if the quote is clicked the browser goes to a dedicated page. If the “REBLOG THIS” link is clicked, then tumblr kicks in. Still, that smacks me as being bad UI/UX. This being a tumblr site is not obvious to me as a non-user of tumblr. I now see the “+ Follow Me” button, but that looks like Facebook and I don’t use that enough to make my clicking it to be useful. But, that’s just me, I guess.

Don’t break it.

You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.
Transcript: President Obama’s Oct. 17 remarks on the budget deal

Exactly. And this applies to everyone. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it: To even so much as suggest, much less allow, the government to shut down is a complete and total failure of our representatives in doing their jobs, regardless of party allegiance. This entire exercise over the past month is simply wasteful and inexcusable.

BBC: US shutdown severs a lifeline for dying children

“I really don’t care who is at fault. I don’t care who did what, all I care about is letting the scientists get back to work, letting them work on a life-saving cure for my children and children with a disease like theirs,” says Mr Grube.
BBC: US shutdown severs a lifeline for dying children

Yet another reason why suggesting—and allowing—the shutting down of the government is wrong. Close down all the national parks you want, but do not interfere with people’s lives when it is their actual life at stake. Ungovernable indeed.

Why the Health Care Law Scares the G.O.P.

In 1994, when President Bill Clinton took an earlier stab at a health care overhaul, the conservative thinker William Kristol published a manifesto about why Republicans had to stop it.

“Passage of the Clinton health plan in any form would be disastrous,” Mr. Kristol wrote, italicizing for emphasis. “It would guarantee an unprecedented federal intrusion into the American economy. Its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas.”

Two decades after Mr. Clinton’s ultimately failed attempt, Obamacare poses the same sort of threat.
Why the Health Care Law Scares the G.O.P.

That makes sense. But, still, shutting down the entire government over one part of one law is just a dick move. Surely, there must have been a better way to handle this? Couldn’t the Democrats have conceded on that one bit to get the rest? Ungovernable, indeed.

Also, part of my problem with all of the new coverage is that everyone calls the law by its nickname—”Obamacare”—and not by its real name: The Affordable Care Act. Papers like the N.Y. Times didn’t call former president George W. Bush “Dubya” in standard news articles, so why the switch now? Calling the law by its real name is important and calling it anything else undermines the value of the article in which it is mentioned.

Bullet Journal: An analog note-taking system for the digital age

For the list-makers, the note-takers, the Post-It note pilots, the track-keepers, and the dabbling doodlers. Bullet journal is for those who feel there are few platforms as powerful as the blank paper page. It’s an analog system for the digital age that will help you organize the present, record the past, and plan for the future.
Bullet Journal: An analog note-taking system for the digital age.

via tomtunguz.com

I love this productivity stuff. I prefer digital tools these days—Toodledo has become a long-time favorite for work and school—so I got a bit overwhelmed with all the writing and re-writing when the system reached the monthly lists and indexing, though every aspect is a really good idea. I might actually have a use for all those Field Notes books sitting in my office for stuff around the house, which I don’t do in Toodledo for some reason.

Just take down the ExtraCare system already, CVS

CVS receipts are notoriously (stupidly) long and finally action is being taken based on an article this morning in the Globe. This sentence in the article particularly caught my eye:

Early next year, shoppers will be given the option of electronically sending all coupons and rewards directly to their [ExtraCare] cards.
Boston Globe: Long CVS receipts spark social media sensation (subscription likely required)

I can’t stand these shopper cards, regardless of their purported usefulness. The only reason why I have one is to take advantage of the sale price when it exists. That’s it. I do not manage my ExtraCare account. Hell, I barely find the time to make my lunch the night before work the next day. As soon as I walk out of the CVS, I forget about both the receipt and the account. But now, if card holders will be given the option of sending all the savings directly to the card, then just get rid of the card. If the sole point of the card will then be to track purchases, then the card is now rendered a pointless burden on the customer because purchase tracking is entirely CVS’s problem and not the customer’s. Just give the lower prices to everyone and remove the entire card system entirely. What would be the ROI on removing these systems entirely now that purchasing and tracking systems are much more sophisticated?

Nintendo and iOS

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball makes a logical proposition for Nintendo to start releasing games for iOS:

…their next best bet is to expand to making iOS games. I’m not saying drop the DS line and jump to iOS in one fell swoop. But a couple of $9.99 iPhone/iPad games to test the water wouldn’t hurt.
Daring Fireball: Nintendo 2DS

There is little doubt that if Nintendo re-released Any of the original NES, Super NES, GameBoy games like Super Mario and Legend of Zelda, they would make a mint. Arguably better than Sega is doing with Sonic the Hedgehog, but still flash in the pan. I don’t think John’s statement of testing the water is dismissive of the effort required to do so. But I also don’t think doing what is necessary to test the waters, much less maintain long-term health, is going to be as easy as it sounds for Nintendo.

When moving games from the older 8-bit and 16-bit machines, porting appears to be difficult from a textural perspective. I liked Sonic the Hedgehog on iOS, gameplay looks and sounds exactly the same, but playing it didn’t feel right and I put it down fairly quickly. I swear the character has either moved in a random direction or there is a delay in a jump, if not a complete misfire. I have to wonder whether this has something to do with the change in thinking that comes with moving from hardware controls to on-screen (software) controls. As the console companies had proven long before Apple, there are advantages to owning the software and the hardware. Unless they are porting a game like an RPG where timing of button mashing isn’t required, then it appears control responsiveness is a deep technical issue that needs to be addressed. Whether the issue is cultural or technical is impossible to say, but even Doom feels fine on iOS and that once required a physical keyboard to play and had no ties to a single platform, so I argue that something is afoot.

Then there is the issue of what to do with the later consoles like the Nintendo 64 and later, where the controls are more numerous than what will fit on an iPhone screen. Rockstar Games solved this in Grand Theft Auto III by sacrificing some arguably superfluous functions, but then graphics begin to suffer because the scope of the visible area are vast and complex. Seeing Super Mario 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on iOS would be instant wins for the company, but they rely on pretty much all of the nine (9) button in addition to the D-pad for some aspects of deeply integrated game play. Nintendo still equates to top quality games when it comes to their own assets, but limiting these games to just the iPad to accommodate all those buttons might represent too much of a compromise in potential sales. I can only see games designed for the Wii and Wii U where motion control is a core game mechanic simply never making it to iOS or any other software-only platform.

Going back to the older, original games, I think there is a real question of how successful they would be from a market sophistication perspective. Super Mario Bros. is an inarguable classic but it could (and just might) suffer from hype backlash. Platform games have long since moved on; Super Mario 64 made Super Mario Bros. immediately boring for me. Players tastes—both in my generation that witnessed the NES release and those kids playing games for the first time—have become vastly more sophisticated. My “go to” games are Minecraft PE and flight simulators like X-Plane and Infinite Flight. Sonic on iOS was neat for a couple hours and then went away. Ridiculous Fishing was neat for a lot longer, if only because there is real mystery mixed into the game play, but I still went back to my “go to” games because they provide a deeper, intellectual satisfaction I rarely find elsewhere. Even my six-year-old nephew is hooked in Minecraft PE. He plays the button-mashing platform games, but really only when he cannot, or is not allowed to for being punished, use the iPad.

Maybe that’s the way the whole market is now, but will that be satisfactory for Nintendo? I doubt it. We spent hours in front of the NES. The N64 was my favorite console ever, and the Wii U could be just as awesome for me, but the iPhone is infinitely more convenient and a hell of a lot cheaper than a console. I don’t care how good the console games are. If anything, I would be buying the game for my kids when they are old enough, so if I wanted to I could just fire up the tube TV and original NES I have in the basement and save myself a few bucks seeing as how I think they would play Super Mario Bros. for about an hour.

All of this means we are back to the fundamental change that Gruber and others have pointed out many times of developing new games for iOS. For Sega, I imagine this wasn’t a hard cultural change since they are smaller and already used to licensing their core assets to other systems having given up on hardware a long time ago (and rightly so, it would seem). Given Nintendo’s recent past release of the Wii U and 2DS, it appears only catastrophic failure of the company will be required to compel Nintendo to seek shelter elsewhere as opposed to relying on its own ingenuity. I don’t think Mario and Link will ever go away completely. I just hope Nintendo figures what they are going to do to keep them in the market in time for my own kids to start playing video games in a few years, as I have the act of introducing them to Super Mario Bros. on the same height pedestal as introducing them to Star Wars. I really need for you to get over this, Nintendo.

Dear Massachusetts Drivers…

Dear Massachusetts Drivers,

Please consider some pro-tips about driving from a displaced Californian…

  1. Merging is most efficiently achieved with alternate feeding of cars into the merging lane. Doing so will mean less traffic snarls and frustration. If you are racing ahead of the other drivers getting into bumper-to-bumper traffic, you are just playing with yourself.
  2. When you change lanes behind me, regardless of direction, and decide to make a statement by coming within inches of my rear bumper (whatever statement that may be, I have no idea), please understand that if you hit or clip my car, the fault will lie with you since you rear-ended me and should have been in control of your vehicle at all times particularly in regards to the car immediately in front of you. This is doubly true for drivers of all sports cars, construction, and landscaping trucks.
  3. When you change lanes to get in front of me, going at a speed that is at least matches mine or faster would be best, otherwise get out of my way.

Until such time that you see fit to follow these suggestions, I would hold you dear in my heart as your own class of stupid crazy. Especially those of you on Route 128 north of the Pike.

Happy driving!
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