Category Archives: General

Social on Snooze

Ever since I spent time in Japan, disconnected from the Internet but once a day, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I consume staring at my phone. What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve got a bit of an obsession with updates, buzzes, tweets, grams, posts, and so on. What’s worse is the amount of time I devote to these pursuits, without a perceivable gain.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy your latest cat photo, or that game/movie/crib/car you are going to buy, or even that joke you made. But what benefit am I getting other than to simply amuse myself and while away my time.

So, I’ve decided to put social on snooze for at least the month of June. I’ve deleted all the apps off my phone, and am going to start carrying around a book with me. Every time I have an urge to check “all the things” instead I’ll read a few pages out of my book. If I’m home that might translate to watching a movie, or playing a video game. Anything but the black hole that can be social networks.

Finally each evening I’m going to check my notifications to keep updated with direct communication. But I will still avoid swiping through each and every update you all might have to share.

Maybe, given a few weeks of my lack of updates, when we see each other next we will have more to talk about other than confirming we each have read each other’s updates, seen each other’s photos, or liked the same pages.

So long, and thanks for all the updates!

Edit – I’m quitting reddit too

To Create? [Musings]

I’ve been plagued for roughly my entire youth and adult life with the desire to create. I found out quick I’m definitely not good at drawing or any like form, I’m decent at playing guitar and singing but I’ve never had the poetic streak to write halfway decent lyrics, I don’t really have an eye for photography, I haven’t tried my hand at motion film but I just don’t get the vibe, I can sorta write but not in a compelling way that will get you to read past page 10, and … hmm I think I ran out of art forms. Well what I’m mostly good at is taking a problem given an innumerable amount of variables, and perceiving the solution, then executing it. So what is that? It feels like creating, it’s not an art form I guess, but sometimes it feels that way. But what really is it, and how can I channel this creative bug I have through it?

From an early age I knew that what I was good at was something like what I now refer to as Sherlock-Holmes-Skills. And also early on I realized that the most logical career path for those skills was either software, mechanical, or electrical design. I mean, they have the word “design” in it, that should assuage my creative urge, right? But when you look up “List of artistic mediums” in wikipedia none of those things really fit. So I dabbled over the years in all those things I listed before. I was met with, not what I would call success, but barely something you would “put up on the fridge”. Early in my adult life I kind of “fell” into the website development industry. I didn’t wake up one day and say “I’m going to build websites!”, it just happened over the course of a couple years. I never finished school, mostly as a casualty of my successful career, so I effectively never gave myself the chance to really find that perfect niche for me.

I think though most people don’t find that niche. And if it seems like I loathe my job, I certainly don’t. I get to go into work every day and effectively put puzzles together. It’s quite enjoyable. But more often than not at the end of the day, as accomplished as I might feel, I often don’t feel like I’ve created something.

So, that’s a lot of words to say: I haven’t found that medium for myself yet. As crazy as websites get, I don’t think they’ll ever fulfill that creative need completely. A lot of me is saying it’s video games, to be a cog in the creative process of making games. If you asked me 6 years ago, I would have said “yes oh yes”. Ask me today, and I’m not so sure. I’ve got friends in the industry, and it seems like they worked so hard to get into that one company, or that one job, and now it’s all about making more money or working at a more plush company. Not many of them still have that passion. They complain about all the things I complain about in that it seems like my job is the same as their job.

Don’t get me wrong I really want to be part of that game-creation-machine. If I wasn’t so happily married to my current company, I would be taking pay cuts, going back to school, and even possibly moving my family, to land that first job at a game developer. But what I don’t know anymore is if video game development would really 100% satisfy that itch I have to create. I don’t know if it would be all that I think it would be. But maybe it is.

Productivity Pitfalls

Our lives are complex.  Our jobs are complex.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that your job is more complex than most of the jobs at NASA in the 60′s.  We’ve got project schedules, implementation goals, deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines.  Business is moving faster and pushing harder than ever.  Fortunately, we have a bevy of tools to help us stay on top of things…right?

Because I couldn’t execute on a project without Microsoft Project, and I couldn’t get through my day without an inbox and a ticketing system and about a thousand ever-so-slightly-tweaked drafts of this plan or that diagram, all piled in a corner to make room for this other diagram or that other plan which was, for the moment, higher priority, oh and you do remember which revision was the most recent, right?  After all you did print five copies in 20 minutes last week and now it’s Tuesday and you need final sign-off on the updated diagram and business plan before you can launch Phase 1, and the meeting is upstairs but there’s a new high priority ticket that just came into the system, so maybe if you just….

It feels like it’s easier to reach critical mass these days.  All the tools that are supposed to be making it easier to communicate and easier to stay on top of things can take on lives of their own, and before you know it you’re buried by the very things that are meant to save you from ever having been buried again.

I just watched an exceptional speech on Inbox Management by Merlin Mann, I highly recommend it for anyone who, like me, has no idea what’s at the bottom of their inbox, or how to make sense of it.

The video got me thinking about productivity pitfalls.  The biggest one for me is this: often, I get lost in the woods.  Instead of identifying the path and then doing the work of putting one foot in front of the other, I’m overwhelmed by the size of the trees, the density of the forest, or the roughness of the terrain.  I seize up, and where I could be taking the first small step of many, I only stand and stare at the massive task in front of me, as if my only options are to finish it all at once or to quit altogether.

What are your productivity pitfalls?

He was taller than me [JonG]

It’s been exactly two months since I logged into the World of Warcraft. Under any normal circumstances “real” people would high-five, or more likely, fist-bump me for such a feat of self control. But for me, every time I think about it, I get a little sad.

See I had (have? what do i say there?) a friend, more like a brother, and we shared a lot of things. The same birth year, the same name (Jonathan), we shared our parents, our siblings, our church, we both married girls who at one time were best friends, we shared our group of friends (the Grey Hats), and we shared “gaming”. It’s almost silly now to think that of all the things Jonathan Glyer and I shared, the one we focused on the most was games. It is clear to me that “gaming” forged the bond I had with my brother, however lame you may or may not think that is, it was a strong one.

We started with games and we ended with games. I met Jonathan in 2001. I began attending his church, and somehow our nerd radar found each other out, because within a month we were together spending $2.50/hr at “Cyberzone” pwning n00bs in counterstrike. That was 9 years ago. From then on I could write my “gaming” history side-by-side with my “Jon” history. We constantly talked about what was coming out, what we liked, what we didn’t. We frequently “LAN”ed at his or my parents house (his house aptly named “1.0″).

The “golden age” culminated, I think, when the crew rented an apartment together in downtown Fullerton, lovingly called: “the 2.0″. Three of us were working, and Jon was finishing college. It was the best of times. I remember Jon, out of all the guys,  was the most anal about cleanliness. We all snickered when he’s get upset that the sponge was left in the sink or when he’d complain about “David’s side of the room” (David and Jon shared a room). It was that year, in that apartment, that we all began playing World of Warcraft, it was 2005.

Over the next two years our group began “falling apart”. Well maybe just from my -emo- perspective. Couples broke up, couples married then turtled (guilty), and people just started walking different paths. Then Jon moved to Seattle. I never really talked to him about it, one of the few actual regrets I now carry around. I was hurt, like a kid in a divorce, I blamed myself. But I was stupid not to broach the subject with him. I think he knew how I felt, but with Jon you never really could be certain what he thought until you asked him. With him leaving it was one last final blow to the crew. David and I still stayed in close touch, but mostly everyone found their own paths.

So there I was, Jon 1,200 miles away, my other best friends were having kids or living in completely different worlds. I myself moved 30 miles away from the people that cared for me. And then an awesome thing happened. I don’t really know if it was a commitment Jon put on his own plate, or if he was just lonely for his friends in California or what, but within months of him moving to Seattle we started playing games and talking at least every other day, it was 2007.

For two full years I was able to spend time with my brother, Jon, over this silly internet, with these silly games. Thinking back, if I didn’t have that, all we would have had were the visits. Visits can be great, but the level friendship I had with Jon relied on constant contact. Over those two years we accomplished the following:

  • Won WW2 for the allies, sometimes the nazis, 100x over
  • Killed tens of thousands of Zombies
  • Saved the middle east from the East, or the West, sometimes both
  • Conquered the future with Space Marines sometimes a Masterful Chief and sometimes a big Jerk
  • Captured and held the Fortress with our Team
  • And most of all, we raided countless keeps, castles, dungeons, and lairs. Striking down evil and passing out the loot

After all that: I would count myself blessed for the time I spent with Jon. But I count myself doubly blessed, because on June 9th, 2009 at 10:53pm we started a podcast, and I’m proud to say Jon named it. Here’s the record of inception:

Jonathan Glyer: oh jeeeez. how about, All the Good Names Were Taken. I’d say Geek Cred but it’s impossible to say.
me: afk 1 min
Jonathan Glyer: Nerdageddon
David: Nerdlinger? haha
Jonathan Glyer: Borked
Jonathan Glyer: The Podcast for Dorks.
David: haha
Jonathan Glyer: we could even go with Borkt
David: Borq’t? haha Borked is workable
Jonathan Glyer: hehe wow ya, something with it
David: it’s just, such a common term
Jonathan Glyer: dorkcast, taken of course. This is Geektown
David: hahahahaha
me: sounds like toontown, maybe because I was just there
David: You missed Borked, jon
me: I saw. Borkedcast

As “The Borkedcast” we recorded 20 podcasts before Jon’s accident. The podcasts may be entertainment for you, but for me they were like being back in “the 2.0″ in downtown Fullerton. Sipping on a beverage and talking about stuff with the guys I cared most about in life.

The last I spoke to Jon was two nights before he died. We played World of Warcraft. It was good.

Here’s where I get emo: 20 recordings wasn’t enough. Countless raids, dungeons, zombies, and nazis wasn’t enough. 9 years wasn’t enough. Living with him for a year wasn’t enough. It’s been 2 months since he died, and it’s not enough to stop me from crying my brains out writing this last paragraph. I miss my friend so much. Everything is a little less bright in my world because I can’t share it with him. As much as the pain hurts right now, I never want to forget it, or really lose it. It’s a reminder of all the things I wrote in this blog, and so much more. Jonathan Glyer was kind of a big deal, I’ll never forget that, and I’ll never let you forget that, it’s the least I can do.

- the rev