Half a Year, Going on Forever

Six months? Has it really been that long? It doesn’t feel like it. It just doesn’t feel like it’s been half a year. Half a year has always dragged on much more slowly for me. But, sure enough, the last time I wrote about Kimberly, it was exactly five months ago, after we had been together for one month.

Any period of time feels like an eternity when it sucks. And any six months of my life has invariably felt like an eternity. Late 2012 as well as all of 2013 were particularly bad, for various reasons. And you’d think now would be even worse. I mean, school is sucking even harder than ever. I lost a major scholarship this semester after having failed statistics and linear algebra. I’m getting more and more fed up with formal education by the minute. It feels like I’m getting a math degree with a little CS off to the side. I’m never going to use any of this. I code on a daily basis, and have never needed math beyond algebra once. And it feels like this useless math is consuming my entire life. On the surface, it seems my life sucks more than ever. I feel like formal education, which consumes way too much of my time, is thoroughly useless to me, and it’s just a hoop I have to jump through to get a job. I’d do anything to not have to deal with it anymore. My life is a living hell. Nothing’s going right. Except one thing. The most important thing. My life sucks, yet it couldn’t be any more perfect.

My whole life, I had been searching for something. Something that, for 21 years, I never had. I had nothing to live for. I could be in a crowd of strangers or even friends. But the reality of the matter is, I was still alone. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m weird. And most people don’t even know how weird I am. What I needed? Someone who loved me despite the fact that I’m weird. Possibly even insane. And on April 2 of this year, I met such a person. Someone who not only loves me despite my weirdness, but maybe even for it. I could sense it. Never before had I had such a feeling when I first encountered someone that they were different. Like… down to the core. Different. Have I had a feeling that something about someone was different before? Yep. But this was something else entirely. In the moment when I read the message Kimberly sent me on reddit that day, I could tell that she was completely unlike anyone I’d ever met before. It was something I’d never felt before. It’s something that a person gets to feel once in their lives, if they’re lucky. Some may never get to feel it at all. It’s the feeling of having met your soulmate. It’s possibly the only time I’ve ever felt something in my life that could be described as magical. I’m not talking about some fake-ass Disney World thing. I’m talking about a truly surreal experience. I don’t even know how to describe it. You wake up, thinking you’re about to add another mundane, pointless day to your mundane, pointless life, not realizing that today is finally that day you’ve waited for when your life changes. Make no mistake, April 2, 2014, was the single most pivotal day of my entire life.

Fast forward to two weeks later, exactly six months ago today, at roughly the time I published this post. As the result of an exchange that I, of course, made insanely awkward and weird, Kimberly agreed to be my girlfriend. So began a chapter of my life that would take me months to understand. I can still vividly remember the awkwardness with which I filled that entire moment.

For the last six months of my life, Kimberly has meant everything to me. I’ve gotten what I’ve searched for: Something to live for. No longer do I feel alone or like my life is meaningless. No longer do I wake up and think, “So begins another mundane day of my mundane life.” Formal education is still the bane of my existence. But now, I finally have something in my life such that the good outweighs the bad. I live for the days, though rare, when our schedules align so I can travel to see her. And last time, I finally got to experience my first kiss (yes, at 21, but we made up for it…). And on May 29 of this year, I had the honor of being able to attend her high school graduation.

As a person, particularly for most of 2013 and early 2014, I was broken, to say the least. Something had happened to shatter my faith in all of humanity. I hated everyone. I believed that everyone, if not flat-out and openly awful, was a flake who would do nothing more than abandon you before long. Thank you Kimberly. Thank you for showing me that not everyone is like that. I realize it must not have been easy. I mean, you’ve somehow put up with me almost every hour of every day since we’ve met. I can’t imagine that as being even remotely easy, but somehow you pull it off.

I can’t imagine not having you in every moment of my life. And I don’t want to. We’ve spoken in almost every hour we’ve both been awake, and I’ve seen you on Skype almost every day since April 16. When I had to deal with just about everything in my life being uprooted during the summer, in a sense, you were all I got to take with me when I left all else behind during that time. Everything was a disaster, yet I was still happy, since I still had the only thing that mattered in my life.

I wish there was something I could give you that showed you how much you meant to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything like that exists. That thing was certainly not those Town of Salem coins I gave you earlier. Please don’t think it’s that. You mean more to me than that. You mean more to me than anything I could ever give you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Kimberly, nothing else in my life has ever really meant anything. The last six months have been the only ones actually worth living for me. And you’re the only reason for that. I only wish there were something I could do in return. I love you.

The Death of the Nexus

People have long claimed that Google would kill off the Nexus line. Well… they were right. They have. I’ll only say this once.

The Nexus is dead.

Yep. Dead. Did I stutter?

Did you miss the whole thing where Google announced the Nexus 6 and 9 today?

I did not. Make no mistake. These devices are Nexus devices in name only. The ideology behind the Nexus program, meanwhile, is dead. That is, to provide a pure Google experience on flagship-level hardware, all at an affordable price. What I can’t deny is that the Nexus 6 is, like its predecessors, still the best Android phone of its generation. However, it is priced at a point I am not willing to pay. Google, you’ve shot yourself in the foot. Nobody’s going to pay $650 for a Nexus 6. People have no desire to pay flagship prices for a flagship phone at this point. Society as a whole has moved past it, largely thanks to you. It’s too late to go back on that. As a matter of fact, you’re pulling a Microsoft. What you’re doing is going back on your aggressive pricing to placate OEM’s. Understandably, OEM’s were pissed about Google launching devices they couldn’t compete with on price. However, Google shouldn’t care. You shouldn’t care. The goal of any company should be to deliver products that the customer wants. If their competition can’t deliver a product in its league, at its price point, why slow down? I don’t care if OEM’s are happy, and Google shouldn’t either.

Google (and Microsoft): OEM’s are not your “partners.” They are not your friends. They are your competition. Don’t worry about cannibalizing their business. Worry about pleasing your customers. OEM’s need you more than you need them. The Nexus program stood for something: Delivering a quality device at a price the average consumer could afford without becoming slave to a carrier contract. I’ve said no to contracts starting a couple of years ago, and I haven’t looked back. The only problem is, I don’t know where to go from here. I have no idea what my next device will be. I left iOS a couple of years ago, and I stand by my reasoning. It’s too locked down. And Windows Phone is not and probably never will be a viable alternative to iOS or Android, as it still lacks a sizable app ecosystem.

Back to my previous point, Google has no reason to placate OEM’s. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and the company that best satisfies the needs of consumers should win. And what consumers need is an open device that one should not need to whore themselves out to a carrier to afford. Nothing aside from the Nexus program offered this. OEM’s didn’t like competition they couldn’t beat, but that isn’t Google’s problem. As put so elegantly by Taylor Swift, “And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

Did I just use a Taylor Swift song to make a point about tech? Yes. Yes I did.

But Google needs its partners!

WRONG! Neither Google nor Microsoft need their “partners.” By the way, these “partners” are nothing more than people who tarnish their reputation by bolting bloatware onto Android and Windows. Look at Apple. Apple makes a lot of money. In fact, Apple is the most valuable company in the world. They don’t need “partners.” The only people Apple needs on their side to be successful? Developers. And developers also happen to love Nexus devices. Cheap, but the most powerful hardware on the market. Google and Microsoft, I implore you: I have quite a few problems with Apple (mostly with iOS; I do happen to be a proud rMBP owner who, in fact, typed this on my rMBP), but learn a lesson from them. Don’t be afraid to piss off the OEM’s. Deliver the most competitive first-party hardware you can, at prices the competition can’t afford to beat. Either they learn to catch up, or they die. I mean, what would they do? Switch to Windows Phone? Firefox OS? Let’s get real here. Google has OEM’s by the balls and has no need to please them. The only real alternative to Android is iOS, and that isn’t available for licensing. If the OEM’s die, they won’t be missed.

Ultimately, I blame Motorola for this. Motorola is notorious for making overpriced hardware at noncompetitive prices. See last year’s Moto X: Priced far beyond the Nexus 5, a vastly more capable phone. Partnering with Motorola to produce the Nexus 6 is outright stupid. Motorola’s ideals (turn a huge profit at any cost) are simply antagonistic to those of the Nexus program.

TL;DR: Google, wipe Samsung off the map. You can do it, but pricing your phone the same as theirs isn’t how to do it.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here putting up with my antiquated Nexus 5. Oh, by the way, Google, it’s absolutely insulting that you’re still selling it at the same price like it’s a modern phone. Even Apple is less greedy than that. They drop the price of their obsolete models when they announce a new one.

Ah well. This generation isn’t important, I guess. Next year is where it’s at. 64-bit Android phones are the next big advance. I’d may as well wait for it (I think I’m just in the “denial” stage of grief). That said, someone new will need to make a phone in the Nexus spirit, or I don’t know what my next phone will be.

Thoughts on Windows 10, Its Detractors, and Marketing

Windows 95, 2.0. Apparently Windows 10 is nothing more than this, if internet commenters are to be believed. I liked Windows 8.1. That is, I liked it when everything tablet-centric about it is made more desktop-friendly. But with StartIsBack, ModernMix, Glass8, UXStyle, and a good theme, it’s a good OS. Online though, everyone seems to fall into two camps: “Windows 8.x is a total disaster. I’m sticking with Windows 7!” and “Windows 8.x is perfect! MS has a brilliant vision, and anyone who dislikes it is just wrong.” Meanwhile, I fall somewhere in the middle. There are things I like about 8.x: Native disc image mounting is huge for me. The new file operation progress dialogs. The ribbon in Explorer. An app store. Oh, and the new task manager. When it comes down to what I don’t like? The tablet-centric UI paradigms like apps and the Start menu being forced into full screen. So now that we’ve finally been given a choice, I’m happy…

Well almost. I’m still left with two things I just don’t understand. First is the marketing. Within this category, I have two smaller concerns that add up to a total sense of “What is MS drinking?” First, of course, is the more obvious of the two: The Windows 10 name. I have a general sense of “Microsoft can’t count” these days. Actually, I’ve had this sense for quite awhile now.

Windows 6.4. Doesn’t that just scream “10” to you?

The third Xbox? Xbox One. Windows 6.1? Windows 7. Windows 6.2? Windows 8. Windows 6.3? Windows 8.1. Windows 6.4? Windows 10. I am confused. Completely and totally confused. Ever since Windows 7, the actual version number has incremented consistently by 0.1 (how often, exactly, are they going to keep this up?). Meanwhile, the marketing version number has incremented by 1, 0.1, then… 1.9? I have no idea what’s going on here, but I’m quite worried that a company that makes accounting software apparently doesn’t know how to count.

Then we have the other issue: How they’re marketing the Technical Preview.

I think this is the most patronizing thing I’ve ever seen…

So what exactly does this accomplish? I’m taking a technical writing class, and right now, we’re studying how to not sound like condescending asshats. This is a prime example of how not to avoid looking like a condescending asshat. You’re a multi-billion dollar company, Microsoft. The billions you’re paying your marketing team? They came from your customers. The same customers you’re painting as idiots. Please do the right thing and fire these guys. Just like you canned Adam Orth. Do I find this amusing? Yes. But I’m laughing at you, not with you. Do I like it when a company shows personality? Yes. But there are better ways to do that than to make the vast majority of your customer base feel stupid (and kind of make yourself look stupid in the process).

Anyway…

I actually didn’t decide to write this post in order to spew a bunch of anti-MS rage. I decided to write it after reading an ignorant comment on, surprise… The Verge.

I’ll do you one better: its Windows 95 with some Metro apps bolted on. What a shame that a few tech bloggers poisoned the minds of the public and terrified Microsoft into backpedaling hard from Windows 8’s original bold vision.

Here, we have a person who quite clearly understands technology. Totally different, more modern kernel? Yep. Modern security model, completely different file system, multi-processor and 64-bit capable? Yep, yep, and yep. BUT… it provides the option to use a Start menu to open apps instead of a full-screen version that mostly wastes space on a desktop machine? CLEARLY Windows 10 is just Windows 95!

Actually, I think he’s right! It’s like I can’t even tell the difference! /s

All the progress that’s been made in the last 20 years, and the only thing separating Windows 10 from Windows 95 is apparently that I can choose the size of the Start menu in Windows 10. “Bold vision” or Windows 95? The only difference? This little checkbox.

Did I mention there’s actually an option?

It’s not like MS actually removed anything! People are complaining about “backpedaling on a vision,” but all they did was provide an option! But no… apparently people should be forced to conform to some “vision.” The modern fanboy confuses me. Decrying the actions of a company because they listen to their customers instead of stubbornly going forward with something? We went through this with the Xbox One and the always online stuff. People complained about no longer being forced to phone home every 24 hours. A company does something consumer-centric, and then its fanboys hate them for turning back on their “vision.”

So what are my thoughts on Windows 10? Execution, A+. Marketing, F-.  The issue here is a clear split between the engineers and the marketeers. Windows 10 is decidedly a step in the right direction. All I ask is that they change that bland, 9x-ish visual style to something else (mostly the window borders… everything else looks good). Hey, actually everything else reminds me a little bit of Watercolor. Why not bring back those window borders? Do that MS, and I’ll love you forever.

Windows 8 and 8.1 brought about some good changes, with the key flaw being forcing a full-screen Start menu optimized for tablets on desktop users. With Windows 10, we have MS realizing user choice is a good thing, and finally allowing people to do what they should’ve been able to do all along. Meanwhile, we have those who thoroughly confuse me. The Stockholm syndrome ridden fanboys who think users shouldn’t be given an option. To these, I ask: Does a person who ticks a checkbox that makes their Start menu not take up the whole screen really hurt you? Are you that butthurt over someone having a UI preference that’s slightly different than yours?

In summary: I like the product. I hate the marketing (including the name). And as always, I hate the fanboys.

Happy Month-iversary Kimberly! <3

If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s to expect the unexpected. About a month and a half ago, on April Fool’s Day, I wrote a blog post about Chromebooks as part of my typical April Fool’s tradition. And I decided to link to it on the ChromeOS subreddit, because, why not? May as well go all-out. And I just so happened to have a reddit account I never really touched; I just so happened to have created it in order to defend against some unsavory comments a rather unsavory subreddit made about a Youtube video of mine. So… yeah. Despite the fact that my previous experiences with reddit led me to believe it was a cesspit of trolls, I decided to look around. Apparently there’s a dating subreddit, /r/r4r. So I decide to post there. Do I really expect to get very far with this? Of course not. I also never considered that I had posted on April Fool’s Day, which isn’t particularly strategic. Anyway, the next afternoon, I get a response (to this day, I don’t actually know why she replied to my post; I just go on and on about how I’m a socially inept geek). So. Typical dating site response? A few poorly-written words. Not what happened here! A girl named Kimberly introduces herself in a well-written, well thought out message. I figured this was a lost art these days. Perhaps it isn’t. So we exchange several messages of reasonable length (proving how perfect she is for me; as a self-proclaimed socially inept geek, my communication skills are far less than adequate, and she somehow makes up for them), and after I nearly ruin everything (possibly the one thing I’m good at), we continue talking on Skype. On April 14, in a spectacularly clichéd fashion, I ask her to be my girlfriend. On the 16th, after I maniacally raced home from a lab (and if my lab partners happen to be reading this, now you know why I seemed so frustrated over not being able to leave early) so we could do a video call, she finally told me yes, around 5PM my time, 6PM hers (roughly the time at which I published this post). The conversation that led up to this was embarrassingly lame on my part (oh, what a surprise), so I think I’ll leave out how exactly it happened. 50/50 chance she’ll comment and tell the story anyway.

 

I really like this particular picture of her. It’s in no way more relevant to this post than any other picture I could’ve chosen, but I really like this one.

As best as can happen considering she’s halfway across the country (for now, but I shall put every possible effort into changing this by the end of summer), Kimberly has been in more or less every moment of my life since then. And I don’t think I’d be capable of being without her for a moment. She’s responsible for several of the happiest moments of my life, and this has by far been the best month I’ve ever had.

Did I mention she can sing?

Last week, she performed in her last chorus concert before her graduation, as the soloist in this rendition of “Walking in Memphis.” One of my greatest regrets is that I wasn’t able to be there.

Kimberly, thank you. You’ve given me a reason to be alive. All because of you, I’m happy in life now, and I hope that I’ve brought you some measure of happiness as well. I have something for you, but it’ll be a little late. I want to give it to you in person before graduation. It’s the most important moment of your life thus far, and despite the fact that 700 miles currently separate us, I refuse to miss it. I realize we won’t have much time together when I come to visit, but… I’m still working on that, I promise! And despite how short those moments may be, they’ll be the best of my life yet. I love you. 

Sent from my Samsung Chromebook 2 – An Apology to Chromebook Fans

So I’ve got a major announcement to make. I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Chromebook 2.

Look at the beautiful fake leather! Doesn’t it just scream “delightfully plastic”?

So yeah. This is me admitting I was wrong. Chromebooks and their ability to do absolutely nothing at all are delightful. Their uselessness totally merits the $400 price tag. You should buy this instead of a vastly more capable Nexus 7 or Windows 8 tablet, both of which are so much cheaper but actually do stuff (the horror!). And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got more of exactly what this machine does best to do – absolutely nothing!

Happy April Fool’s Day everyone.