Digital Frustrations

June 26, 2017 9:01pm
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So I got this message saying that the YouTube app won’t work on the TV in our bedroom after the end of this month, and in a way it’s kind of frustrating and at the same time I kind of get it… 😕

It bugs me that this is supposed to be a Smart TV, and it’s not that old – I bought it in 2013 – and yet a good number of the apps that it used to support have already been discontinued. I didn’t really care about the Twitter app because who uses Twitter from their phone?!, but I use the YouTube app quite a bit, actually!

On the other hand, I know that in this case the specific reason why the YouTube app is being discontinued is because YouTube is finally dropping support for their Flash-based apps and requiring HTML5 only, which is a significant change, and apparently one that Samsung is saying this model of TV simply can’t support. Not a huge surprise considering that the TV only has a single-core processor, whereas my first iPhone (an iPhone 4) came with a dual-core processor and the latest iPhone 7 models are now up to quad-core processors…

…in fact, I’m pretty sure that the curved, 4k tv that I bought the following year for our living room has a quad-core processor…

In a way, it’s the same frustration that I have with the handful of apps on my iPhone that no longer work with the current version of iOS. Knowing how app producers seem to come and go like the wind, it’s not really a huge shocker that these companies knocking out apps for $0.99, or even $4.99 – $9.99, aren’t making much effort to keep them compatible with future versions of iOS and Android. In many cases, I’m sure that some of them have already gone out of business by the time these newer versions come along!

And so just like I can’t very well expect my old NES cartridges to play on my Wii or Wii U, I get that companies want to focus on the latest and greatest. But I think it’s aggravating when the media remains the same across generations – like DVDs for PS2 – PS4 or digital for iOS – because at least when we used cartridges it was obvious that the old carts just wouldn’t fit in the new systems. 😛

It’s just tough because in an increasingly digital world as we purchase more and more digital content, we’re faced with this virtual tug-of-war where we have to keep purchasing either hardware or software over and over again to continue enjoying our original purchases. At least with my old Nintendo, I can still plug my NES into the TV and try blowing into those cartridges until they finally work, but I’m not necessarily going to keep an old iPhone handy just so that I can play the Oregon Trail app that I bought a few years ago and now can’t handle Apple’s latest release.

The same goes for my TV – I wouldn’t go out and buy a whole new TV just because one channel stopped being compatible with it, yet that’s kind of what I’m faced now if I want to watch YouTube videos in bed anymore.

Sure, I could get a Roku box or even dig out my AppleTV … if that supports the app update … but the native app on the TV itself was so much easier.

I really liked this image I found on Facebook earlier today defining Gay Pride vs. Straight Pride because I’m sad to admit that I’ve had the “straight pride” argument with family members and some of them just really can’t seem to get beyond themselves to understand what the entire movement is actually about.

Gay people aren’t trying to flaunt their sexuality or push themselves upon you, but the fact that people are still uncomfortable by something as simple as gay people holding hands or kissing in public or wearing matching rainbow shirts is a great introduction to why this kind of thing is still necessary in the first place.

I’ll be honest – I don’t know a lot of gay people.

I know some, but the overwhelming majority are still straight, and yet LGBT rights are important to me because it sickens me that another couple could get harassed, threatened, or even killed walking down the street just holding hands or showing affection – the same as I do with my wife without a second thought.

And it really grinds my gears when people argue that gay rights isn’t something that affects them or that they don’t have time to worry about it because they’re trying to keep food on the table because as far as I’m concerned, if we’re not willing to stand up for equal rights in our country, none of the rest of it even matters.

Even if you live in a small town like I used to where the population is 99% white and 100% straight (or so you think…), gay rights matter because people are people, and nobody deserves to be treated like a second-class citizen because of who they love. If advocating for their equality bothers you, then you’re part of the problem.

I get that it’s challenging to understand how marginalized a group of people is if you’ve never felt that way yourself, but sometimes I feel like some people among us aren’t even trying.

Today I came across some outrage on Facebook about Harvard offering a black-only graduation ceremony to complement its traditional ceremony, which was of course interpreted as reverse racism because these African American students wished to have an event that specifically excluded white students…

…and mind you, that wasn’t exactly true

…but nonetheless, the misunderstanding of embracing one’s culture versus intentional segregation continues to leave a scathing mark on a white culture that still doesn’t seem to grasp how its own actions, both historical and up to the present, are what’s led us to this racial divide in the first place.

Actually pay attention to the news and make a tally of how many unarmed white children today are killed by police officers thinking they’re a threat to society. Look across your Facebook feed and see how many people are outraged by Kathy Griffin’s weird beheading photo shoot last week and then ask how many were equally outraged by all of the anti-black rhetoric aimed at President Obama during his presidency.

In my own world of writing and words, take a look at the most offensive word of all – the n-word – and acknowledge how unlike other words like fuck and cunt, we don’t even say the word because that’s how ugly of a history it has…

This is a group of people who haven’t had to deal with slavery and segregation directly, yet still feel its hateful burn a hundred years after the fact, and they have to cope with people who claim that racism isn’t even a problem in America anymore all the while banners of the confederacy still fly in some states, and marginalized glares are felt in neighborhoods across the country, and sometimes people hang nooses from trees … but it’s only a joke, so maybe they should just lighten up?!

Fuck that noise.

The difference between black people and white people celebrating their heritages and cultures is that, until the end of time, there will forever always be a scar on black heritage caused by a point in time where white people deemed them less than human, and it’s a scar that white people must work to mend every single today on behalf of our ancestors.

For some of us, this is less of a big deal than others and we welcome our African American friends with open arms, but others want to fight – everything has to be a fight … to slouch blame or to deny injustices that are still very present in our world because personally they’re not directly at fault.

Like many problems that face our society today, racism is complicated and it’s unpleasant to talk about, but every time a white person wants to fuss about how only minorities can celebrate their pride or how they’re not the ones who had slaves, they only serve to cement the issues deeper in modern times instead of actually acknowledging them and trying to move forward as best we can.

Whoever came up with the term reverse racism is living in denial of the actual origins of racism, and frankly I’m tired to having to explain injustice to smart people who are acting emotionally stupid about this issue that is way bigger than they think it to be.

17 Things I Love About Technology in 2017

June 3, 2017 1:30pm
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  • My home broadband speed today is 150x faster than the whopping 1 Mbps cable modem that I first got back in 2000.
  • The Internet has allowed me to become friends online with people from all over the world who I’ve never met in person.
  • I honestly don’t feel that guilty about letting my son play games on his iPad because the educational value and everything that he’s learned from them at only three years old is just incredible!
  • Smartphones have gradually evolved to allow a full Internet experience anywhere I go and not just “the mobile Internet” that we first had to deal with.
  • Publishing has become so simplified that pretty much anyone can write a blog or put out an ebook or even a print book with a reasonable amount of time and effort.
  • Access to information – both useful and mundane – is commonplace, whether you want to learn more about the Paris Climate Accord or when the first Wonder Woman comics were created.
  • The radio that I listen to in my car via Pandora now actually makes an effort at being customized to my personal tastes.
  • I can watch movies at home in my living room that rival the experience of going to a movie theater.
  • I don’t even have to take my keys out of my pocket to unlock my car door, or start my car for that matter!
  • I can do my job pretty much anywhere that I have a decent Internet connection.
  • Shopping is something that I can do at 2:30am in my underwear without ever having to leave the house, and the prices are usually cheaper to boot.
  • Writing checks and having stamps are no longer a necessity for paying bills.
  • It’s incredibly easy to learn about other cultures and ways of living that are different from my own.
  • I can book hotel and dining reservations for Disney World without ever picking up the phone.
  • It’s easy to share pictures and videos with family on the other side of the country, and also video chat with them, too.
  • Breaking news is truly breaking via mobile notifications and social media.
  • Being proficient in computers and technology is no longer something that gets you called a dork or a nerd.

Politics is so exhausting lately.

It seems like every. single. week. something new is being set ablaze – this week was the Paris Agreement and claiming that the U.N. owes us money for defense, last week was bragging about firing FBI director James Comey as a result of the Russian investigation, and before that we had a budget worthy to be aligned with the mega rich, questioning why the civil war happened, inviting the national treasure that is Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent – a guy who threatened to kill President Obama – into the White House for a photo op…

*sigh*

Seriously, is this how conservatives felt from 2009 – 2016 when President Obama was advocating for the Affordable Care Act, supporting same-sex marriage rights, and turning around the recession?

I feel like whereas most Republican issues circle around money and where we should and shouldn’t spend it, Democrats focus on more wholistic goals like protecting the environment and civil rights and keeping our economy afloat, and so now with this extreme conservative voice dominating the federal landscape, every action feels like a stab at something vital to who we are – whether it’s making it easier for Christians to discriminate against people they don’t like or cutting benefits that help the poor or trying to ban entrance to our country to people who did nothing wrong but be born in a country that bad people also happen to be from.

Those on the other side of the aisle will make it sound as if we’re taking it too personally, as if it’s completely normal to hack and dice the work of the previous party once the government changes sides, but that’s not how this should work.

The things that the GOP is so quick to dismantle are essential parts of the larger pie:

  • The American economy will flounder worse than it does today if we had over public education to the greedy hands of privatization.
  • Healthcare in the greatest country on Earth will be even more of a joke to the rest of the industrialized world than it is today if provisions aren’t protected for even the most basic of services and conditions.
  • Our position in the world community relies on America being an ally, not a bully for hire.
  • And of course, none of it will matter if we allow our industries to pollute and ravish our environment in the name of short term financial gains.

Following such numerous issues is a constant struggle and it seems like the previous isn’t even brought to close before a new problem comes over the horizon, yet at the same time despise extraordinary fatigue it feels almost un-American to turn a blind eye and ignore this reality as our country is transformed by the business man that some insisted upon instead of the patriotic leader that we really needed.

movie thoughts … Logan

May 18, 2017 1:26pm
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I’ll admit that honestly this movie wasn’t even really on my radar, but I finally got around to watching it and ultimately I was kind of disappointed by it.

Which is really weird for a Wolverine movie, actually!

Ultimately I think my distaste for this final Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman stems from the same reasons that I didn’t care for Iron Man 3 in that simply put – I don’t want to watch weak and feeble superheroes, I want to see them kicking ass…

Right off the bat, my heart kind of sunk during the introductory scenes as we pieced together the current state of affairs and realized that … Wolverine is now an Uber driver??? And it honestly didn’t entirely click with me until I read the Wikipedia plot summary after watching the movie that the reason his mutant healing wasn’t working anymore was simply because he was getting old.

Wait a minute – so the superhero who managed to live for 137 years is just now starting to feel the effects of aging?

Also, while we’re at it – apparently now he lives on an abandoned farm, and Professor X is also getting really old. And there’s an albino mutant who’s basically Professor X’s understudy, except that they hate each other.

How did the studio not take one look at this script and say, “Good grief – that’s a really depressing way for everyone’s favorite superhero to go out?!”

I mean, the general plot makes for a fine story and all, but it’s just not really something that I’d get excited about watching unfold on screen – seeing this incredible super-human who we’ve watched kick amazing quantities of ass now only kicking ass when he goes all berserker, and afterwards he’s really tired, and he’s kind of given up hope on life and just wants to go retire and live on a boat with his live-in father who’s often times more of a hassle than he’s really worth, even though he’s also still got incredible superhero powers though he’s too frail to use them and gets really tired after using them, too.

Was the guy who wrote this script an aging baby boomer who was really into X-Men in his youth and still likes them in theory, but also falls asleep in his lounger a lot with Fox News blathering on in the background?

It’s too bad, really, because it was interesting to see them dabble in the X-23 plot line and they could’ve explored that way further, but instead they just put the kids perpetually on the run … which that point didn’t entirely make sense, either … because ok, your crazy mercenaries followed these mutant kids across the border from Mexico and through the United States – guns a’blazing – but somehow the Canadian border is this magical finish line that will keep the bad people out, if only they can get there?

*sigh*

Frankly, I’ve always been a little disappointed that Fox pounded so hard on Wolverine instead of doing a better job of exploring any of the hundreds of other mutants that they have to choose from. And I get that Wolverine has always been a fan favorite, and Hugh Jackman does a great job of playing him, but why haven’t we seen single hero origin movies for other major players like Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm … or even Magneto?!

Was it only because Marvel had Avengers queued up and they thought they needed X-Men: First Class (a good movie, mind you) to come to the mat? Or was it because the Wolverine standalone movie kind of flopped and they wanted to try a different direction … despite later circling back to do two more Wolverine standalone movies before all was said and done?

It was a sad way to see (SPOILERS) both Wolverine and Professor X go out after all that they’ve been in the previous films over the years – you’d think that if you lived your life being an incredible badass, you’d want to be remembered as such and not the geriatric pill-poppers who are just done with it all and ready for a new class to take the reins, even if there’s no clear path for them to do so and teaching kids how to live with their mutant powers was kind of your thing for a really long time. 🙁

So I read a guest column in the Orlando Sentinel – a newspaper that I normally respect – that pitched this tired allegation once again that at the end of the day, Democrats are just sore losers who will stop at nothing to avoid admitting that we lost the election…

…even if it means taking down the president as a result…

And I can’t help but just laugh and laugh and laugh at that hypocritical perspective after all that we’ve endured from the Republican line during President Obama’s time in office:

  • Three years of demands to see Obama’s birth certificate, then his long form birth certificate, under allegations that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.
  • Three years and seven investigations into the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
  • Over 50 attempts by the House to repeal, dismantle, or otherwise defund the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010.

Just for the record, Donald Trump got elected 187 days ago and has now been in office for 113 days.

I won’t even argue with the merits of each of those efforts … except for the birther movement because that was just ridiculous … but for Benghazi and critiques over the ACA – fine. Republican representatives had concerns and were obligated by their constituents to see them through, albeit excessively, but still…

Three years to investigate an attack 8,000 miles away in which four Americans lost their lives.

Five years to fight a healthcare bill that has affected the lives of tens of millions of Americans, both for better and for worse.

But now it’s suddenly excessive to spend barely than six months looking into whether there was influence from another nation that compromised the election of the President of the United States?!

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s time for us to put this pettiness behind us and come together to support our President … who may have been installed by a foreign government, but probably wasn’t … we’ll just have to trust him despite not having given any reason to date why we actually should!

No. Just no.

You don’t get to dig in your heels for every passionate argument that your side had during the last eight years and then call the other side a bunch of crybabies when they raise question asking for a similar level of scrutiny. Especially after Donald Trump has done more to act suspicious – like firing the guy leading the investigation against him – than all of the “We need to pass the bill to know what’s in the bill!” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor!” you can throw at the Obama administration.

Just like you wanted to know whether those four lives in Benghazi were lost due to negligence, we want to know if Donald Trump is a legitimate president because for all of the talk the Republican party makes about concerns over voter fraud, they sure haven’t seemed too concerned with this notion that a foreign entity may have dipped its hands in our election.

Maybe they’re not so concerned because it resulted in their guy beating Hillary, but the integrity of our election should be worth more than either candidate.

So come back to me in 3 – 5 years if we’re still beating this drum and are just unwilling to accept the numerous facts laid out around us, but for now stop acting like a bunch of babies and let your president stand up to the level of scrutiny that ANYONE in the highest office in our nation should be able to handle.

Rocket Boys
Can you tell that Christopher is really into Buzz Lightyear right now?! First it was every toy getting its own honorary jetpack with whatever water or soda bottles he found laying around, but today when we caught him giving his little brother a jetpack with his empty juice cups, well, the adorable-ness just sort of writes itself… 😉

Refocusing on Disney Humor
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve finally decided to scrap one Disney project (that I admittedly) wasn’t really doing anything with in favor of another one that I think has much more promise in the long run.

Several years ago now, I created a little project called My Time with the Mouse… that was going to be my site for all things Disney World. I had about half a dozen different columns that I’d write – one each week – about dining and resort reviews, random trip advice, trip reports for my own visits, and more. I was also going to use it as a personal photo gallery and had uploaded a good couple of thousand photos I’d taken over the years, all organized by category and location.

It was a big project and ultimately just way too much work because I never could keep up with the schedule I’d created for myself, nor could I keep up with the other “popular Disney bloggers” who are literally pushing out new park updates every single day as it happens. And I don’t really want to do that, so after a couple of failed relaunches and some soul searching, I’ve finally decided to scrap My Time with the Mouse… altogether and instead replace it with … The Disney Humor Column.

The idea is that I’ve gathered up the Disney humor pieces that I’ve written over the years and now I’m going to write two new humor columns specific to Walt Disney World each month. I think it’s a better use of my time because while there are tons and tons of Disney bloggers online today, I don’t really see any focusing solely on humor. Plus, it will integrate better with my existing humor column, so hopefully there will be some opportunities for cross-promotion and whatnot in the future!

Anyways, long story short – I cleaned up the website this week and I’m ready to start with a fresh, new Disney humor column next week! The plan will be to alternate weeks between this and Scott’s Guide to Life, so both of those features will be bi-weekly and The Humor Column will remain weekly.

I’m excited about it, so go check out disneyhumorcolumn.com and with any luck, you should see a new column pop up sometime around noon next Wednesday. 😉

Planning Our 10th Anniversary Cruise
And lastly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this yet because honestly Sara’s really been doing most of the research, but this year is our 10th wedding anniversary and I think we’re going to breakdown and go on a cruise this fall to celebrate.

We’re still trying to figure out all of the details and come up with a deposit and everything, but we both agree that we really need a vacation! I don’t think that we’ve ever both been away from the kids at the same time except for maybe a short overnight stay with their aunt. Life is stressful and ten years ain’t nothing to shake a stick at, so we’re hopefully going to pawn the kids and dog off on her parents and sneak away to the Caribbean for some much needed R&R!

According to photos, our last cruise was back in 2012 … before we had kids … and, well, I think this suave, little guy has missed us just about long enough… 😛

I’ll be honest – I don’t really make much of an effort to watch my language when I post on Twitter, even though I actually do with most of my writing projects. With the exception of Just Laugh and occasionally, but not often, this blog, I don’t really swear in my writing because I want it to appeal to the largest audience possible.

I guess I’m a bit more lax about Just Laugh because I’ve always considered it to be targeted at an 18+ audience whereas my humor column, etc… are read by all ages.

I also post a lot of off-the-cuff political commentary on Twitter – usually filled with lots of frustration – whereas by the time I’m ready to write an editorial about a topic, I tend to be more reserved and thought out at that point.

And sometimes I wonder if this is all a bad thing – if I’m doing myself a disservice by using Twitter like this instead of a more “controlled manner” that would be less alienating to anyone who might find me through social media and have an interest in something that I write … if only I didn’t have such a potty mouth on Twitter! 😛

The thing is, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly use social media like other people trying to promote a brand … and maybe that’s a separate problem. While I do share links to my new columns and articles when they go up, I just as much use Twitter to share random findings that amuse me or even just talk to myself, in addition to commentary on posts that I find that aren’t substantial enough to make into full-blown blog posts.

…although for what it’s worth, I’m trying to do that more when I find that I’ve got more than a handful of tweets to say about something…

That said, it’s certainly something that I think I want/need to dig deeper into in the future as I work to gain some new attention for all of my writing efforts … it’s constantly getting more complicated to drive traffic to long-form writing with so much focus on social media, but I know that I can’t completely ignore it altogether and expect similar results by just doing my own thing.

Plus, admittedly I can see the appeal of an image focused specifically on my brand – namely, if I want to be the writer known for humor, and Disney, and parenting content, and occasional in-depth political commentary, it does make sense that my social media profiles should center around those topics and maybe steer away from angsty rants every time that Donald Trump says something undesirable … especially because lately that has pretty much been every single day anyways!

For what it’s worth, though, if I can manage to avoid all of the Trump-inspired Twitter rants, do you have any idea how much time I should save?! Maybe I could actually keep up with this newfound writing schedule of mine if I watched my tongue on social media a bit better! 😉

one more thing…

May 10, 2017 6:19pm
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If anything, our current political climate – not even limited to President Trump, but considering the entire establishment as a whole – confirms that the United States desperately needs election reform. And fast.

Because it’s painful to see just how fragile the institution of our great electoral system really is…

  • Voter ID laws, cutbacks on early voting, and new voter registration rules being used to restrict access to voting.
  • Gerrymandering to guide regional votes in a particular direction.
  • The opinion of the people being so easily swayed by widespread information regardless of its accuracy.
  • Campaign finance abuse and corporations buying political favor.
  • Questions of the validity of the Electoral College 200+ years after its introduction.
  • Lackluster voter turnout in general

It’s clear that our current voting system isn’t electing the right people to these offices to actually drive meaningful governance in our country, and I’d like to think that these most recent allegations of foreign interference would lead us to take a step back and figure out what really needs to be done to fix the process from the top down. And it’s complicated because not only do we need a new election process, we also need better candidates that aren’t as dramatically tied to party lines and can help to bridge the nuance between the left and the right so that we can start making things better across the board.

I’d love to see these problems solved during my lifetime because they’re really vital to the core of our democracy, but it’s forever going to be a struggle if uprooting the existing system also means uprooting the politicians who’ve established their careers based on these antiquated systems…

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