Yesterday, Google announce Project Link, a new project to bring faster data to Africa. I watched the video and read the site, but the interesting thing to me is how I instantly thought “how does this help Google?” Just three years ago, I would have thought this was the coolest project ever, Google using their resources to make the world better. Now, I just think about how Google wants more people online so they can serve ads to them to make more money.
Earlier today, I shared this video on Facebook, originally posted by Kwesi, with the comment, “Something tells me that the USMNT hasn’t done this before any of their matches”. I wanted to explain that a little bit more.
When I watched this video, it reminded me of the times at church when we were in Ghana, the similar songs and dancing done during the services. It made me think that the players on the Ghana squad likely all experienced that same sort of thing at some point in their lives, especially the ones who grew up in Ghana. This similar experience is a bond that these players automatically have.
The US team definitely does not have that common bond. It is one of the things that sets our country apart, we have players who grew up in Texas, New Jersey, German Air Force Bases and more. There is no common experience for these players from when they grew up. Not saying this is better or worse, but it did make the video stand out to me, as it is something that I would never see from the US squad.
Since getting rid of the Wii, one glaring hole in my video game world has been Zelda. I love the Zelda games, and don’t care that each game is basically the exact same thing just with better graphics or different challenges. So, when I saw the teaser for Oceanhorn this summer, I had some hope that my Zelda fix could actually be solved on iOS, at least somewhat.
The good news is, it did solve my fix. Yes, 9 bucks is a lot for an iOS game and no, it isn’t quite up to the same quality as a Zelda game, but it is still a lot of fun to play and when comparing it to a full Zelda game, 9 bucks is a deal. I have been playing it on an iPad mini and it is perfect for that form factor. The mini is light enough to hold for extended periods of time, but a large enough screen that the games little details are not missed. This was an easy purchase for me, and if you enjoy Zelda, I highly recommend it.
Merlin has been on a roll lately on Back to Work and his visit on The Talk Show, but this interview really knocks it out of the park. It is clichéd, but it is funny and thoughtful at the same time.
I have been reading comics for almost 10 years now, which means that I have seen my share of comic events. They can range from relatively compact like the Sinestro Corps War to the enormous Civil War. Like most stories, the ones that are more focused and condensed are usually better, which is why the aforementioned Sinestro Corps War was so highly regarded. The importance and scale of the story was big, but it only took about 20 issues to tell. Knowing this, it makes me wonder why the enormous stories seem to do so poorly in quality. The easy answer is that so many creators are involved, the story will fragment and lose quality. I definitely see this in some events. In some cases though, something different seemed to happen.
When I originally read through Blackest Night when it was coming out, I thought it was convoluted and just a scam to hop aboard the zombie train in the DC universe. Then when I came back to it a couple of years later, reading through trades, the story made a lot more sense. The tie-ins actually were important to connect things and I could much easier see what Geoff Johns was trying to do. I ended up enjoying the story much more when reading it all at once and in order.
I imagine it must be tough to balance the overall story of an event of that size with pacing over months at a time. It is interesting that something similar is playing out between the two bigs right now, Infinity for Marvel being a condensed event in the Avengers books and Forever Evil playing out across a bunch of the new 52 in a multi-month event. It will be interesting to see in a couple of years which of these events turned out better.
When listening to the latest episode of Back to Work, Merlin said something that struck me. He talked about how it seems fans in tech culture spend so much time defending their choices that they refuse to admit when something isn’t great. I quickly realized that I do this exact same thing. If there is an opportunity to say something great about an Apple product, I jump at it. Even worse, I think I jump even faster to bash anything that isn’t Apple.
An example of that is a good friend talking about how he is switching away from an iPhone to an Android device. Instead of really understanding the decision why, I instead trolled him in his Facebook post about it. And don’t worry, that troll gained more likes than the original post or other comments on the thread, seemingly reinforcing my decision to do so.
The thing is, many people I respect in the tech industry don’t hesitate to point out the flaws in the products they like. While John Siracusa and Marco Arment are fans of Apple’s work, they are also some of the first to talk about where Apple needs to improve as well on ATP. Both of them respect the work that Apple does, but also understand that no one, or no company is perfect.
I am not saying that I am going to hyper analyze every decision I make, just spend less time telling everyone how great a decision it was. There are lots of smart people I interact with making decisions that are right for them. I am going to stop trying to tell them why they should switch to whatever I am using and instead try to listen about why they made the decision they did.
It is getting to be September, so it is time for the annual call for albums I have to listen to before starting work on my 2013 Best Of list. So, here is what I have listened to for sure this year. Let me know on Facebook or Twitter about what I am missing.
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor
- Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
- Bad Religion – True North
- Balance and Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing
- Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
- CHVRCHES – The Ones of What You Believe
- Civil Wars – Civil Wars
- Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
- Darkside – Psychic
- Deltron 3030 – Event II
- Destroyer – Five Spanish Songs
- Dismemberment Plan – Uncanny Valley
- Ethernet – Opus 2
- Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
- Five Iron Frenzy – Engine of Million Plots
- Forest Swords – Engravings
- Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
- High Highs – Open Season
- James Blake – Overgrown
- Javelin – Hi Beams
- Jimmy Eat World – Damage
- Justin Timberlake – The 20_20 Experience
- Kaskade – Atmosphere
- Less Than Jake – See the Light
- Local Natives – Hummingbird
- M83 – Oblivion Soundtrack
- Mikal Cronin – MCII
- Mogwai – Les Revenants
- My Bloody Valentine – m.b.v.
- Night Visions – Imagine Dragons
- Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
- Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium
- Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
- Panic! At the Disco – Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!
- Phoenix – Bankrupt!
- Polysick – Daydream
- Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love
- Russian Circles – Memorial
- Savages – Silence Yourself
- Sigur Ros – Kveikur
- Small Black – Limits of Desire
- The National – Trouble Will Find Me
- The Range – Nonfiction
- The Weeknd – Kiss Land
- Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
- Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the Weekend
- Volcano Choir – Repave
- Vondelpark – Seabed
- Weekend – Jinx
- Yo La Tengo – Fade
- µ-Ziq – Chewed Corners
It has taken a little longer than I liked, but I have the site setup to host the log/notes from my trip to Ghana up. You can find it at http://ghana.mytungsten.net. A few notes, first, I dont have all the content up there yet. Each day of the trip, I took notes from the day, so I am planning on posting the notes,lightly edited as well as adding some images. This means the posts are closer to a stream of conscience from the trip, as opposed to a trip wrap up. Then after I have posted all of the days, I will be doing a wrap up post, reflecting on the whole trip.
I have enabled comments on the site, so feel free to ask questions, post comments, etc. I will be responding on the site.
I will also be posting announcements of new posts on the Twitter feed for this site as well as Facebook. If you prefer RSS, there is a feed for that site at http://ghana.mytungsten.net/feed/, they will not be coming through the feed for this site.
Finally, I want to thank our church, First United Methodist of Iowa City, for making this trip happen, specifically Kwesi Ewoodzie for organizing the trip and dealing with all of our questions and requests throughout our journey.
@TheMarkAhrens Are your loyal MyTungsten readers going to get a recap of your trip? Inquiring minds!
— Matt Raw (@mattbot) June 27, 2013
The short answer to this is, absolutely, though if you have come to this site recently, it is understandable asking the question.
The trip was absolutely amazing and life changing. I took notes each day of the trip and already the group has over 1000 photos shared between us. Some of the highlights include:
- 3 days painting a school
- Delivering supplies to an orphanage and medical clinic
- Going to a rain forest
- Seeing Elmina Castle
- Eating delicious food
I want to do this right, so it is taking some time to gather my thoughts, the right images, etc. I am going to be making a new part of this site for the trip, so once that is ready, I will be sure to share the link.
Back when I dropped Google (and since kinda started back up again) one of the toughest parts was giving up Google Reader. I went to a Twitter list thing that worked relatively well. Then, Google decided to shut down Reader and an interesting thing happened. Lots of new Google Reader alternatives started getting more press, more features, more users, etc. With this new wealth of options to look at, I decided that it was worth another look at the landscape.
Long story short, I settled on Feedly, for now. The primary reason is they have a pretty decent iOS offering, and it was free to try out (though requires a Google account for authentication). That last part is what has me hung up a little bit. I never felt entirely comfortable with the Twitter lists thing because that feature of Twitter seemed like an afterthought, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was just gone one day. Using a free service, there is always that risk. When I can pay for something, I have a more reasonable expectation that what I am paying is A. covering the costs to run the service and B. incentive to continuing running the service. With Feedly, it is a ad-supported service, that just happen to get about a quarter of a million new users in the last 2 months. Are the ads enough to support that huge increase? I hope so for now.
One thing I am happy about, back to RSS instead of Twitter accounts. Twitter was great for skimming, but it wasn’t built for the “check out a paragraph of the article” like RSS is. That, and RSS is still more of a standard than having a Twitter account for a site is. If I want to subscribe to something, I can typically find a feed for the site easier than if there is a Twitter account for it.
The one I am really going to keep an eye on is Feed Wrangler. I hope in the next few months the iOS apps get some tweaks and the OS X desktop app come out. If so, I would gladly pay the $19/year for something that important to me.
The other thing that sort of shook my world was Marco selling Instapaper. While the folks at Betaworks seem to do some good work (seriously, Dots is super addictive) I just have some concerns about what life after Marco will be. Because of that, I have started looking at Pocket as a replacement for Instapaper. I have the same reservations about using a free service as I do with the feed reader, but the alternatives are all the same way right now. The Pocket iOS app isn’t as nice as Instapaper, but does have better support for video content. Pocket also ties in with many other apps and offers a variety of browser plugins that are supported by the company.
Do I hope that Instapaper keeps getting better and the vision for it remains focused? Absolutely! But for now, I am keeping my options open and trying something else.