2016-08-26

[General] Picasa Web, Google+ Photos, Google Photos, and why I don't share albums anymore

It's because the new one doesn't let me sort an album by date taken.  I could drag and drop all the photos, but that's way too much work.  Now I just post individual pictures to Instagram.  Ah well.

It's harder and harder for me to continue using Google's proprietary services, as the more time goes by, the harder it is to rely on any of them.  So many have been shuttered (e.g. Google Reader) or had features dropped (e.g. Gmail labs I used to rely on).  Sigh.

2016-08-21

Stranger Things

I highly recommend it.

I really appreciate the "Netflix-era of television" after the "Reality TV Apocalypse."

2016-08-17

[General] Experience, validation, perception, memory, generosity, and imperfection

I like relativism.  It's useful, because I know that my perceptions, memories and reasoning are not perfectly reliable.  Similar people, both intelligent, will disagree.  I like estimating likelihoods, confidence intervals, doing internal modelling that balances my view of information against others.  I have to make decisions all the time that involve favouring some interpretation of reality, but I generally decline to commit to it, or assert it.  Just conditionally accept it, given the information I have at hand.  I want to reduce some types of errors in judgement over others.  I assume that ultimately a lot of things are objectively true, but I'm skeptical of my ability to really know them with certainty.

I used to be more absolutist.  I was more confident in my ability to acquire relevant information, reason accurately on it, and come to nearly-certain conclusions.  I was arrogant, too.  I thought that I could do this better than many other people.  I was happy.

Regardless of how effectively I may have reasoned, or how close any of my perceptions, memories, or conclusions were to 'reality', I made a fatal error of asserting my imperfect self over the imperfect selves of others.  I would argue with people passionately, like a bulldozer, until they would concede.  In theory, that might be fine, depending on the person.  In theory, they could argue just as passionately about their ideas, and in theory, we might both be open-minded enough to come to an amicable and happy agreement in the end.  That's how I imagined it happening, at least.

I don't believe that people should have to fight to have their ideas entertained, their intelligence, existence and experience respected.  Lately, I think a lot about experiences.

I think about our experiences in the work I do.  User eXperience (UX).  It's a field.  I think about it with the products and services I consume.  I think about it with my education, my student experience.  I think about it with my thesis, the reader's experience.  And, of greatest interest to me lately, is an interest in our social experiences.

Worrying about experience is a bit of a luxury, a privilege.  Arguably, the user experience for software 20 years ago might be considered "awful", except that in many cases we understand the limitations of the time, so we excused a lot then that we wouldn't excuse today.  When you're more concerned about even merely providing a base service or functionality, it's hard to worry about whether it's easy or pleasant.  It's doable, it works, that's good enough.

I sometimes wonder about that in relation to social issues.  Activism broadens to include more and more elements of a subject's experience, as fundamental needs get met.  Doing that incrementally isn't ideal.  Who wants to first worry about the right to live, then the right to vote, then the right to marry, then the right to pay equality, step by step?  Especially when each step isn't atomic, is never fully completed, and never happens in a sensible order.  However, it seems that's practically how society in its multitudinous, diverse population negotiates its change sometimes.  Unsatisfyingly slowly.  I wish some critics of activism would spend less time arguing about it not being necessary, and more time understanding the experience that motivates it.

Lately, I'm curious about the differing experiences two people can have interacting with one another, relative to "reality".  Sometimes I have what amounts to a misunderstanding with others that leads to someone becoming upset.  If it's the other becoming upset, I would have formerly (and sometimes still) insisted that they've misunderstood, and expect them to correct their understanding, correct their perceptions, correct the impact on their mind, correct their conclusion, correct their experience.  And that's bad.  I know how horrible it can be when someone dismisses my own experience, and how it makes me feel about their respect for my judgement and perceptions.  Especially when its recurring.

I really want to change that about myself.  I want to be supportive of others when we differ.  If my intensity is higher than theirs, I want to lower my own to match theirs, to ensure they feel comfortable differing from me.  I want them to feel like their experience is valid.  I want both of us to feel that our perceptions, regardless of how they differ from one another or objective reality are respected.  If there is a systemic error one or both of us are making, I don't want them to feel judged as being worth less for it.  We should both feel comfortable acknowledging our own limitations.  Ideally, we could both acknowledge the imperfection of our own perceptions, our own reasoning, our own memories.  Even if imperfect, these comprise a lot of our identity and experience, and are very important our sense of self-worth. We want to make good decisions for ourselves, and much of our life is spent building our understanding of the world to enable that.  Having those efforts denigrated does not seem like a conductive way to build understanding, or effect helpful change in either of us.  I'm not responsive to belligerence.  I'm not very interested in the opinions of others who don't act respectfully to me.  So why would someone else respond well if I failed to respect them and their experience?

Even if our perceptions are skewed significantly, even if our memories don't accurately reflect history, even if they're all wrong, I think they still matter.  They comprise our experience, which is everything we have.  We may still yet reason logically on bad information and come to meaningful conclusions that might hold general validity even if they don't exactly apply to a specific issue.

One of my challenges involves insecurity and how it affects my perceptions of other people's behaviour towards me.  Sometimes, this issue flares up, when experience upon experience seem to compound in the same direction: rejection.  If it compounds enough that I speak out, I usually find out that my perceptions don't correspond to other's intentions.  I appreciate friends who don't just dismiss my skewed perceptions, but also consider how they contributed.  I want to be that generous.

So, going forward, I hope I can better acknowledge and appreciate other people's experience.  Even if I disagree with their conclusions, I hope I can help validate their experience, and not bull-doze them with my own, or make make dangerous, biased assumptions about the superiority of my own.  I remember fondly walking home from high school once, furious about how dumb something my friend F had said, when in my fury, reasoning why he was wrong, I realised he was right and I was wrong.  It was a revelation.  I hope to have less fury and more revelations. 

2016-08-16

[General] Defenseless

It's pouring.  The first time in months.  I am unprepared.  A friend lost one umbrella, another traded the other up for paisley and kept it.  I have no shield against the rain.  In German, an umbrella is ein Regenschirm (m).  A rain shield.  I try to put on my armour, a German wind breaker I got when visiting my dad's friends Wolfgang 5 years ago.  What a weird trip that was.  I didn't always even use umbrellas.  I used to protest against them.  On the basis that the average person kept the spokes at my eye level.  Dangerous.  Instead, I prefer embracing the wet, getting soaked.  If something is uncomfortable, don't shirk, but embrace. 

That philosophy was partially my own, but partially that of one who hiked onto a glacier in New Zealand and said something like "I am the Earth and the Earth is me."  Or maybe "I am the cold and the cold is me."  When the stories stop getting retold, the details' space in my brain slowly gets eaten away by new memories for new events, more or less memorable, just new.  Anyway, I liked that philosophy.

I started using umbrellas 2 years ago.  I was on my way to work, and got soaked during a rainy summer, as usual.  I liked it.  I didn't like sitting in my chair shivering.  I started keeping a change of clothing at work.  However, I suppose I also started to question my philosophy and its origins and contributions.  Then, one day, I saw it.  The perfect umbrella.  It was firm, sturdy, broad, and a rainbow of colours.  It was amazing.  The last I saw it, a friend was carrying it in a woody park, and apparently they set it down to take a photo.  Good bye, my love.  My perfect Rain Shield.

So today I donned the wind breaker.  I am out of practise.  Last year, or the year before, I would have remembered that it was ineffective against the rain.  It can survive a light rain for 15 minutes, a heavy rain for maybe 3.  A 7-minute late bus and a moderate rain was all it took to make me soggy underneath.  I kind of like it.  I didn't like that I was actually out of bus tickets.  (I usually bike.)  I didn't like the thought of walking to work in the wet.

The bus driver smiled and told me to get in anyway.  I adore him.  I adore Guelph Transit.  I adore Guelph.  I need to leave it, and soon.  A friend wants me to move to Montréal in October.  I could.  I could work remotely.  I could come back for a defense date.

My defense date.  I've drawn this degree out far too long.  A few years of crippling depression (hey!) and slow "recovery" (thanks, Zoloft®!), and for the last 6 months I've been sitting on a written thesis without scheduling a date.  Largely, it's financial.  I need to pay for school, so I need to work, so I need this leave of absence.  It's refreshing.  It's lovely applying my skills in a way that directly benefit people.  I'm glad I have some expertise.  Still, I need to finish.  I need to move on and on and on.

Where to next?  The smell of the rain reminds me of Vancouver.  This is annoying, because it surfaces both positive and negative memories and thoughts.  The last time I visited there, I started to hyperventilate, a rarity for me.  I like the smell though.  Briefly, I imagine standing in the rain on Granville St., or waiting for the 22 Knight bus.  (Or was it 55?)  I cut myself short before I dwell too long on things that are past, and open Pokémon.  The screen is quickly covered in droplets, and I quickly catch yet another Pidgey (I love them) before drying it off inside my jacket and re-pocketing it.

Finally, I'm at work.  Start the clock for another day.

Work

I've recently had the leisure of thinking about how I'd like to "grow" for work.  What I would most like to "improve".

It would definitely be in estimating how long things will take, identifying their priorities, and scheduling them well.

Too often my approach is reactive lately.  I respond to crises a lot.  It's part of the nature of the problem I work on.  But we're making progress.  I manage to find more and more time to pre-emptively identify and fix problems.  However, what I dislike most is when I become aware of a problem in hibernation, and time goes by, and it suddenly becomes a current issue, and despite learning about it earlier, I didn't manage to fit a fix in in time.

It's nice having the opportunity to improve these things.

2016-08-14

The Ever Changing World

Do people still blog?

I know I barely read blogs any more.  When Google Reader died, so did my blog reading.  My reading would have probably died anyway.  There's too much information for me to manage.  I barely use Facebook or Google Photos.  I stopped using Google+, Reddit, Google News, and tumblr.   Now I mostly just e-mail, text, and ... Instagram!  That's new for me.

I want more undirected time.  My habits are a cycle.  I oversubscribe to activities and people, then I purge, and repeat.  I would like some equilibrium.  However, I have improved over past habits.  I am good at mitigating stress and being aware about it.  I focus on my priorities.

What are they these days?  Past ones, like kendo, jodo, and iaido are all hibernating.  I go climbing now, these days, though.  I actively try to game a bit more, something I shunned for a while.  Playing Skyward Sword by myself, Pokémon Go with friends (of course), and Splatoon/Metroid with Frank.  (Thanks, Frank.)  I bike and walk a lot.  I exercise.  I like to organise things.  I like to talk to friends.  I like to travel.  I also work a lot.

Work.

Adulthood.

I spent spare time sometimes catching up on work.  I get paid for it, so it's not bad, but I question the division of my time.  After work, I should probably shut out all thoughts of it.  Instead, I go through notes and e-mails and organise my work life.  There's too much work to do at work.  It's nice.  Generally, there's enough understanding about the situation, that I don't have to suffer for past mistakes.

Maybe I should blog about work.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.