This blog quickly became rather drab. By “drab,” I mean that I stopped writing anything. I am working on a solution, which will probably manifest itself as an app review blog. Stay tuned.
So, I’ve developed a sort of a problem. My problem is that I am finding it harder and harder to enjoy mediocre things. Examples: tea, coffee, food, gadgets, and so on. This may have begun a bit over a year ago, when I essentially limited myself to only drinking loose leaf tea. While it takes a bit more time to make and clean up after, it is a superior product to any bagged tea.
Before I dig too much deeper, it is important to note that in most instances, the higher quality “things” that I am describing are not necessarily more expensive. If they are, it is generally a higher initial investment that will eventually lead to reduced payment in the form of money, stress, or other things.
This whole post stems from a new, potentially shameful obsession of mine: Comet Coffee here in Ann Arbor. This place sometimes gets a bad rap for being very “hipster,” which I can attest to I suppose. Regardless of its inhabitants, let me make one thing abundantly clear: it is the best coffee that I have ever had. Beyond the taste, you know where your coffee beans are coming from. You see the coffee made right in front of you, fresh. There is a commitment to the craft of proper coffee making that is often overlooked in favor of convenience (e.g. Mr. Coffee, Folgers, etc.).
The only problem with Comet Coffee, or any “nicer” coffee shop, is that it does not necessarily obey the cost rules I have written above. It costs more and does not reduce and future costs. You will generally pay from $2.50 to almost $4 for a 12 ounce cup of delicious brew. This is a conflict that I now face. I want great coffee, as I want great tea. I do not want to pay exorbitant prices for it, like I don’t have to for tea. The answer: brew my own.
The key to making your coffee as good as an artisan-esque shop is to have the right equipment. Essentially, a Burr grinder for the beans, coffee filters, and a cone of sorts to hold the filter and ground beans as water is poured over. This will take time and research to find the right equipment and perfect the process, but the reward for finding meaningful, well-crafted objects to make something of real value will definitely be worth it.
So, what does this have to do with tech? Simply put, most consumer electronics on the market are pieces of junk (or end up being so a few months after purchase) simply because consumers do not seem to know what they are missing out on. So many computers are now purchased online, without users ever touching, holding, or using those machines. They are not buying a computer to experience it. They are buying a computer to use it. Just like before, I was drinking coffee for energy. I was making it as if it was a factory product. Now I’m drinking coffee for the sake of experiencing and enjoying that beverage because it can and should be a piece of craft work.
I had been part of this segment of tech consumers. Maybe I still am. As I continue to learn to more greatly value the food and beverages that I consume, I also want to make an effort to look at the value of the technology that I consume.
Pieces of technology can become to utilitarian. They sit on our desks lifelessly. I believe that there is a real opportunity to digest the features of what we use on a daily basis. That is what I want to focus on as a technologist and as a consumer.
cout « “Hello world.”;
printf “Hello world.”;
Three different ways to print “Hello world.” to a computer screen in different languages. Generally, getting the screen to print “Hello world.” is one of the first programs that a novice programmer learns to write. Despite its simplicity, there is a sense of life or magic to a new student. This magic may be even more evident the younger the programmer is.
Executing a piece of code to see “Hello world.,” in my mind, is nothing short of magnificent. If it is your first time coding, that line of text is your line of text! You are the reason it exists on that screen! You took a blank page, canvas, UNIVERSE…and imposed your will along the way. Sure, at some point your efforts to become the master of this universe may become confounded with compiler errors, infinite loops, and segmentation faults, but as your skills grow, so does your power and knowledge.
Why does this matter? Programming languages are for software developers, hobbyists, academics, and the like, right? Wrong. As more and more of our world’s data and intellectual resources are stored online, it is important to understand (at least from a high-level perspective) how this data is stored and how to read through jargon from “experts.” An appropriate analog would be for the average citizen to understand bookkeeping. Certainly, not everybody needs to be an accountant, but understanding the principles can help you understand where your money is going if you have somebody managing accounts or stocks for you.
Still, there is something more to learning programming than that example. The fact that it gives you the ability to build virtually (haha) anything that you can think of as long as you have the knowledge to support it, you can! It can provide limitless creative freedom. It has the potential to be the most liberating, exciting skill set that you have.
Before I step off of my soap box, I would like to reiterate that computer science is going to be a driving force of innovation and growth in our world for the foreseeable future. If well developed, this skill set can be applied to any number of different fields or interests. It may be tedious or sometimes boring, but the benefits and potential excitement far outweigh the benefits.
Photo source: http://noscope.com/photostream/various/super-computer-nerd.jpg/view
Google, in protest of proposed legislation, is displaying a “blacked out” doodle on January 18th.
As you may have heard, websites such as Reddit and Wikipedia are “blacking out” in protest of the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively. Reddit makes a profit from its existence, so the sacrifice is evident from the dollars per hour that are potentially lost. Wikipedia is a bit different.
After months of badgering its users for donations to keep their servers afloat, it seems ridiculous that the Wikimedia Foundation would willingly close its doors to what likely accounts for a majority of its traffic, and for much of its reason to exist. They know that. Wikimedia knowing that makes their statement even larger. Why, then, has the Wikimedia Foundation hinged its reputation onto a day long protest of legislation that is already receiving a lot of negative media and being fought by for-profit companies like Google and Facebook? These corporations surely have lobbyists fighting it in D.C. The action is provoked by SOPA and PIPA being the opposite of everything that Wikis and the Web are and (in my opinion) should be.
Wikipedia, in specific, is a global collaboration of information hubs who share their knowledge with the world, along with curators who search for accurate information for the betterment of all. It is a dangerous, vicious, exciting, beautiful cycle of edits, arguments, and triumphs that result in the product that you (normally) see. It is a microcosm of all that the Web is capable of being. The Web grants a level of equality to all people with the right amount of Information Literacy and, well, a method of access. While proponents of SOPA and PIPA claim to protect Intellectual Property (IP) for the good of those who own/create it, what it does is endanger an entire ecosystem of content that is curated by not only Wikis, but the Web as a whole.
Protecting IP does not give the U.S. government the right to limit free speech, which would be the case if search engines were banned from listing links to offenders of copyright, etc. Protecting IP does not give the U.S. government the right to ban internet service providers from dealing with these supposed “offenders.” If politicians are serious about fighting against media piracy and the like, they ought to look into drafting legislation that does not pose numerous technical issues with the Domain Name Service (DNS).
People who understand the Web as a framework for democracy should be consulted while trying to fight online piracy, if it is such a big deal. These people could include those who are fighting against the currently proposed legislation. Hopefully actions from “big players” such as the Wikimedia Foundation will make a splash in Washington, but time will tell.
Have fun living without what is probably the greatest compilation of human knowledge that the world has ever seen on January 18th. It’s a bigger deal than you may think.
Hello, world. My name is Kevin Carpenter. Consider this the first of many uninteresting blog posts.
I intend for this to serve as a way for me to write about technology, tech start-ups, and the like. As of this moment, I don’t have a clearly defined goal in mind, but I consider this a step in the right direction.
If something I write sucks (after this one!), let me know. I like criticism.
This should be quite the adventure.