First Thoughts about Google+

If you haven’t heard about it, Google+ is Google’s new foray into social networking after a few disappointments in-between. For all its world domination-like qualities, a lot of Google products haven’t fallen flat recently, and its new Facebook competitor (as described by The Times) has the same sort of possibly ephemeral feel, but I think Google should be feeling lucky about this one.

I consider myself a late adopter. I like to pay attention to new technology, but because I’m cynical, cheap, and comfortable with what I have, I’m usually not too pumped up about things until I see how other people have used it to some benefit. This mentality even affects how I view entire movements as I’m still not too keen on social networking as a whole. I check Facebook daily but probably won’t write but a handful of times over a year (not counting my birthday). I just don’t think its added that much value to my life.

What is Facebook good for? Honestly? Stalking. Especially right now as I’m curious what all my friends are doing post-college. It’s a lot of work to go through the typical wall post and comment exchange to ask questions that they might be embarrassed addressing in a public setting anyways. I just hope that they’ve updated their education or work history in their profile.

So why am I optimistic about Google+? Because it’s actually kind of nice. At first, the set of available components seems like an odd mish-mash, but when I think about what I want, it actually seems to kind of work, without all the junk.

First, it forces you to put all connections into various circles. Presumably, one can “Facebook” it and just put everyone in one circle, but it’s actually kind of nice to have these divisions in place: it matches my real life social life. My family in Toronto probably doesn’t care about a local event on Stanford campus, but a greater proportion of my close friends do.

Interestingly, this feature is already available in Facebook, but as I discussed with some of my friends in a “Hangout” (spoiler: good words to come), they just didn’t hit it quite right. For me, maybe Facebook can do all of this, but when they added it, I had no desire to filter through hundreds of friends and put them in the right place. Ultimately, it’ll be more work to connect with all of my friends again in Google+, but it feels a lot more natural and necessary. Just like in humor, timing is everything in technology.

A big aspect of Google+ seems to be that the site is built around a lot of external content. Of the 4 buttons at the top, one is devoted to photos (which seem to be automatically collected from Google services like Picasa and Blogger), and the “Share” box in the upper right allows one to always share pictures, videos, links, and their location. “Spark” is a discovery tool for content. To me, it feels like Google+ is built entirely around external topics.

Again, yes, Facebook has all of this, but the culture has very much turned to a focus on wall-to-wall posts and status updates, and frankly, I don’t care that much. For me, it’s amusing to a point, but the most interesting things are about interesting links people come across and want to discuss. My friend George has posted a few interesting links to Politico, and so far, I’ve liked seeing it.

In fact, I like it enough that I’ve considered switching over from my 4 years of delicious usage to simply posting links to Google+. For me, there are basically 4 rough groups of things that I bookmark in delicious, and I think my need for delicious is diminishing:

  1. Recipes. I mark these as private to avoid spamming my friendfeed (and subsequently my fb), but I’ve got quite a few from food blogs. Even so, I have a replacement ready for whenever I stop procrastinating
  2. To Read links. This could easily be done in my actual bookmarks in my browser
  3. Reference. Delicious is still the best for this, in my opinion, but the alternatives aren’t significantly worse.
  4. Interesting stuff. Keep reading

I have been bookmarking interesting stuff for years now because I think I might refer back to it, but to be honest, the list of things I’ve gone back to is very short. In fact, in the history of my delicious usage, I can really only think of one thing that I’ve gone into delicious for, and that’s just because it was at the moment easier than searching for it. And nowadays, search is so good, I might as well just try to find it again if it comes to mind. Otherwise, I really just mark them because I would like others to see it, which is why my delicious is linked to my friendfeed, which is linked to my fb. And Google+ does that great.

It’s possible that simply right now, I like Google+’s offering of interesting links simply because my set of friends there is better (well, more immediately interesting to me, let’s say) than my friends on fb, and the apparent filtering of content is a strange product of that. That probably builds off of my smugness of exclusivity being on invite to Google+ and having most of my currently closest friends on it too thanks to a close Google-Stanford connection. Even so, I like to think that’ll smooth out too, since Circles can keep me feeling as though I’m in my ivory tower for as long as necessary.

The final component I want to discuss is hangout, which is simply awesome. Basically, it’s group video chat where friends can come go as they please. There are two big aspects to this. First, it’s group video chat. And it works and isn’t hard to use or setup. That fact alone is great.

Second, friends can come and go. It’s casual, and it’s fun. Most of us are sitting at our computers for large parts of the day anyways: we might as well drop in and chat for awhile. Earlier tonight, I hoped in a hangout with a few friends, including George, who is currently across the country. I’ve IMed with him, but I probably would’ve never gotten around to calling him on the phone, even though I know he’s on his computer a lot even still. But we both joined a hangout, and it was like he was sitting in the same room as me. Trust me: the idea for hangout may not sound that revolutionary, but it just works so well with how I want to interact with my friends.

The kicker in it is a built-in youtube watching mode where you and your friends can all watch a youtube video together. That feature is just as good as you can imagine.

To the Google+ developers: please build in an embedded shared browser for hangout, too. When I saw the youtube button, I wondered whether it supported shared screen as well, but today, especially with Chromebooks, internet browser sharing would be just as good. Surfing the web together would be tons of fun, and being able to support webapps inside hangout is probably as good as, if not better, than the fb platform. It means that every existing web application is “ported” into Google+, and it opens up all sorts of possibilities for building games into Google+.

Okay, so it might be late now, and I might be a little tired, wild-eyed, and almost 2 hours past my bedtime from the past 2 weeks. Even so, I’m optimistic about this. I’ve been on Facebook for 5 years and never really gotten into it. In 2 days, Google+ has showed me some innovative, but intuitive and pleasantly good features that make me want to use the internet differently. It might not have all the wingdings that Facebook has built in over the years, but I like to think we’re past most of that. I don’t know how to make the equivalent of a wall-to-wall post, but I haven’t wanted it yet. There doesn’t appear to be Events, but I have always kind of disliked Facebook events (I pretty much disregard them nowadays, except as an announcement, which can be done more efficiently). Anyways, huddle as group texting and sharing within circles can do it, too.

So yes, I’m optimistic, and even more so than before I started writing. There’s the question about whether I would use this instead of Facebook, and reviewing this post about every Facebook feature/culture aspect that dislike and how Google+ has managed to improve on it, I think I’m already a convert.

A Few Thoughts on Watson on Jeopardy

Earlier this week, Watson, an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM, competed against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy!. Seeing as this was the closest thing to my nerd roots being in pop culture, I avidly watched all 3 days of games, the NOVA episode on it, and attended a viewing party on-campus hosted by Stanford research and IBM, including a visitor from Almaden. In case you haven’t heard the result, the human players were pummeled by Watson, though it was fun to watch nonetheless. My thoughts on it aren’t entirely coherent, but here are a few tidbits I have on it:

  • Watson was impressive but not that impressive. Notably, I didn’t get any insight into what it’s actually doing from the NOVA special, the speaker from IBM, or the Jeopardy! episodes. My intuition is that the bulk of the power here is having a much larger dataset and greater computing power than most systems before. I don’t doubt that there are optimizations and clever insights into making it perform well, but I haven’t heard of any large departures from known techniques
  • Watson was very good at hitting the Daily Doubles. Part of it, of course, was that it was requesting most of the clues, but I’m not sure whether there is a known distribution of Daily Double locations. I would presume so from an explanation in these ars technica article, though that seems somewhat strange
  • In the 2nd article up there, the creators propose that Watson doesn’t have a speed advantage in buzzing in. I think it’s very clear from watching the game that Watson totally did. Consider this situation: you’re watching a stopwatch and want to stop it as close to 10 seconds as possible. How accurate do you think you’re going to get? Okay, I just tried with my watch, and I did pretty well (10.01, 10.00, 10.01, 10, 9.98), but even so, I’m still willing to bet that a computer could be faster than me. Notable is that last one, since the rules of Jeopardy! go that if you buzz in early, you get locked out for a few seconds
  • Having read a little more on the game, the way buzzing works is that a light comes on after Alex finishes the question, and you buzz as quickly as possible. How well you buzz is critical to the game. Looking at the expression of the other players, it’s clear that they knew many answers as well: they just couldn’t buzz quickly enough, and that’s true between human players as well. I think I read somewhere that Ken Jennings insisted that other players have more time to practice on the buzzers because he just got so good at it over time. And it’s recommended that players at home practice with a clicky-pen to get the timing right
  • My favorite moment in all of the games was when Ken buzzed in with wrong answer, then Watson buzzed in with the same (wrong) answer. Alex, in that manner that makes him seem like a complete jerk, said, “No. Ken said that.” Priceless
  • I really enjoyed watching the NOVA special since the topic is close to what I know, and I realized how much of a gloss their content is when you have a sense of what’s going on. Technically, a lot of things said aren’t wrong, but it still feels misleading and doesn’t get at the interesting subtleties of what’s actually going on. The visualizations are also pretty hilarious, such as floating equations of greek symbols representing code
  • The human players were fun to watch. Brad is strangely expressive with his eyebrows and head movements that don’t obviously correlate with what he’s saying, but he’s enthusiastic and fun to listen to. Ken is just momentarily very visibly affected by things. For example, he seems crushed in Double Jeopardy in the final game when Watson hits the Daily Double that he presumably wanted
  • Watson’s betting is strange, though I’ll assume it’s well thought out. This made me realize that Jeopardy is very much about playing the game well. A lot of people know a lot of answers, but the choice of clues and betting and reaction times and pacing are what really makes someone a winner
  • Watson in general was able to compute fast enough to respond, but on a couple of questions, it seemed as though it wasn’t fast enough, especially on very short clues. But that might just be me imagining structure on the game just on my intuitions
  • Watson apparently learned about categories based on the correct answers of other questions in that category. If the players knew this, that would also seem to encourage them to try out high dollar amounts and depend on their ability to actually understand the semantic structure of the questions before Watson really understood what was going on. I think this might be conventional play anyways but is something of a strategic choice to make

Given all of these points, know that I’m still impressed with Watson. I just don’t think that the most obvious interpretation of the game (that AI has taken huge strides) is really indicative of what’s really going on here. I’ll admit that I also drew the parallel to Deep Blue and got excited about this as a big challenge for AI, but there’s definitely a context for understanding what Watson did. And that, in my opinion, makes this whole series a fun, silly, impressive, but not significant or surprising publicity event for Jeopardy! and IBM.

Bells and Whistles

Recently, Lifehacker published another set of benchmarks for browser performance, and it looks like Chrome has barely managed to edge out Safari and Opera in their total scores. Although adding up performance on different metrics is exactly comparing apples and oranges, the results were good enough to convince me to try out Chrome. And it’s good enough.

I don’t consider myself much of a trail-blazer when it comes to new technology. I refused a new phone this past winter because it looked complicated, I don’t really care much for keeping up on the latest revisions and features for Google News or iOS, and I don’t really care that much about gadgets. When I say this, I’m only partially trying to portray myself as a hip luddite who’s better than the latest trends in technology. I usually try to stay pretty up-to-date on the tools I use and am not reluctant to find and use things that seem helpful.

Even though browser wars have been a big deal since Firefox shook things up a few years ago, I usually don’t notice much of a difference between the browsers. When I mentioned to a friend the other day that I had switched over to Chrome after being a stable Safari for so long, he pointed out that I had had a similar switch when Safari 4 came out. Thinking back, I used Firefox for a year and a half, Safari for a year and a half, and am now on to Chrome. And all because it’s faster.

Freshmen year, I had to look up something on a friend’s computer, and when I asked him why he used Safari, he simply said, “Because it’s faster than Firefox.” I scoffed, pointing out the value of extensions, search options, and such, though I eventually realized that extensions weren’t changing my experience that much. A browser should load webpages, and assuming it does that fine, about the only other important thing is that it’s fast.

Or at least it’s important that it should seem fast. And Chrome seems fast. I’ll let the benchmarks call the shots on actual load times, but I realized awhile ago that load times don’t really matter unless my behavior adjusts as well. A few keyboard shortcuts are different, but otherwise, the experience is largely the same as it was with Safari, with 2 notable exceptions.

First, I don’t think it plays nicely with PDFs. I tried using the PDF plugin, but that didn’t really quite cut it. Being able to load PDFs in the browser or embedded in a frame is convenient, especially if I just need to take a peek. That’s pretty annoying.

Second, the omnibar is kind of cool. I’m still not quite used to the auto-complete preference-y sort of stuff having gotten so used to the auto-complete style of Safari, but I’m sure I’ll come around. The one thing that I will highlight as being amazing, though, is adding a search engine for “I’m Feeling Lucky”. Often, my searches really are just converting one very specific query into the only matching URL that I can’t remember or am too lazy to type out the entire URL. “I’m Feeling Lucky” is only slightly faster than pulling up the search page and clicking the first link, and there’s a non-trivial chance I’ll be led astray. I just started trying it, and I’m already a huge fan because I think I’m going to get smarter with using it as well.

Which is my latest realization: it’s less important that the browser seems fast as it is that I can access pages and data fast. Typically, that means the browser running fast, but it can also be cool shortcuts and smart design to make me a more efficient user. So in summary, my Firefox days were about cool browser features. My initial Safari days were about having a fast browser. My late Safari days were about having a browser that seemed fast. And now my Chrome days are about seeming to browse faster.

Features and speed seem to grapple in some sort of strange trade-off, though I feel somewhat silly about how much my thoughts on them have changed. Extensions might just be wingdings to make fireworks explode whenever you click on a link with more than 20 characters in it, but they can also be tools to automate common actions. Speed might just be fast load times, but it’s also whether I have multiple tabs open because I’m expecting it to take a long time for ESPN to load.

So Chrome is winning the war in my head right now as the browser for regular use. Give me another year and a half, and I’ll be certain then that Opera is the way to go.

my idea: wheresthebias.com

Here’s an idea I had about a week ago while lying in bed, severely jet-lagged. I’m pretty sure that this is at least better than the “shower idea”.

Today, everyone is going crazy about Obama’s healthcare proposal. If you haven’t heard about it, I recommend that you not go to any town hall meetings. Anyways, I noticed there are a lot of statistics being thrown out there from both sides, including anything from the length of Canadian transplant waitlists to the estimated cost of insuring everyone, from the total number of uninsured Americans to the how much of a liar Obama is. Statistics are great to use because they sound official and concrete. Unfortunately, statistics can be misleading, or even downright lies. At best, quoted statistics are used with some bias.

What I propose is a website where one could get references and context for statistics. For example, let’s say that a commercial says “40% of all Americans will fake washing their hands if they think someone is watching” (I just made that up). Questioning this, they can go to wheresthebias.com and search for it. They can find the statistic (40%) and see who said this (commercial on public health), and what the apparent source is (Kevin Leung’s butt). Additionally, there would be a meter for the left and right bias of the speaker (neutral) and the original source (very left). Also, there would be a meter for the reliability of the quote, from the truth to maybe misleading, to a downright lie (in this case, a lie). I guess, then, that the stat, quoter, and quotee would all be judged on 2 axes, being political bias and reliability. Below that, they could see other statistics for comparison (70% of people will fake washing their hands if no one is watching) and comments from various users.

Of course, like any knowledge-based service, this depends on there being good, informed people who could give their opinions on the subject. All of the data would be user-driven, and I guess we could probably use the same 2 axes for each of the users. Thus, reliable, fairly moderate people would have more weight in evaluating new statistics. This, of course, leads to a bad chicken-egg problem between users and stats, but this is just an idea.

So, my disclaimer: I know nothing of this area. I don’t know if this has been done before. I don’t know anything about statistics or politics. I don’t know how well political forums online work, or if everyone out there just becomes a troll. Just an idea. Opinions?

Buying a TV

I’ve spent the past 3 weeks easing myself into my summer life of job work, cooking, and commuting. Out of our college possessions, Leland and I produced a few nice items among a trove of trash, including cooking equipment, a few musical instruments, and some posters. Before we moved in, Lee had mentioned last quarter that he had a Wii sitting at home, and a mental image of his parents playing Super Mario confirmed that no one was using it. Just last night, I played Mario Kart for Wii with our 3rd roomamate, Andrew, on 32 inches of flat panel entertainment. It’s one of my first major investments in a new item.

Not to say a used one wasn’t available to us. At the beginning of the school year, my drawmate Ben found a 50 inch TV on craigslist for $100. With Dave’s rolling bedroom, we actuallly had enough space to drive it back to campus on our own. When we met our buyer, he mentioned the glare as his primary gripe and reason for sale. The TV sat in a garage converted into a den, with a window opposite the TV. Apparently, when the sun hit that window just right, you couldn’t even make out a purple cow on the TV. The TV was a little old as well, and the factor of 10 discount counted each year of its life.

At the end of the school year, no one wanted to–or even could–take the monstrosity home. Lee and I got the offer to take it with us across the street to our summer dorm, and we firmly (but politely) refused. It was no fun to carry up the stairs, and absurd amounts of video games had turned the screen red. An attempt to recover all $100 on craigslist failed, but an offer to take it for free (assuming that the taker did the physical work of taking it) got 15 calls of great enthusiasm. In the end, someone took it down those 3 floors and away to a women’s shelter where they will have to deal with the glare.

Our next option was to buy another TV. At the end of each school year, many students have 26 to 30 inch back projection TVs of mysterious brands to sell. While certainly an option, Leland pointed out that those not only weighed their worth in rocks but also waste precious dorm space. Instead, we agreed a new flat panel would be a better investment than buying a throwaway to use for just a year. Assuming nothing catastrophic happens, TVs can last for a long time, and a decently sized flat panel TV could become an establishment in a future living room.

We began our search online. I’m sometimes astonished by how much shopping has changed; I remember my grandpa’s shop with rows of TVs in his quiet Gravenhurst shop. There, the best bargain was on the shelf. Today, it’s listed on some website. Instead of having to cross town to compare prices, we can now go to other websites that mine those websites for the shiniest deals. A particularly good one was an eco-friendly Vizio TV from the Dell store. With a coupon code, it would cost under $400 (before tax). Had we known standard market prices, we would’ve taken the deal right away, bt we didn’t want to commit so soon. Good advice says not ot fall in love with any particular house, especially the first one. We trusted caution and for a couple more days we watched for alternatives, keeping that TV in mind. It seems that the Cupid of LCD displays was hoping we’d be foolish lovers as after a couple days, including Sunday ads, we never found a deal as good as that first one. When we went to buy, the coupon code had been used up to its limit.

At first, we denied it by redoubling our efforts to find something just as good. We even tried the old ways and went to the local Best Buy to look at TVs. Side by side, the difference was noticeable, but I double I would ever notice with just 1 sitting in a dorm room. The limited selection and generally higher prices swept away my doubts for why store shopping has been swept away, we went back to the internet.

A few days later, we settled on a different Vizio from Dell. Despite it not being quite as good as the first, we realized we could wait forever on a deal, agonizing as each gem passed. With only an 8 week summer, it seemed more worthwhile to have the TV for longer. After overcoming a most bizarre method of screening orders where our TV was only shipped after canceling the order, we got notice that it would come in the following Monday. And seeing a new TV in your living room helps a lot when coming back from work on a Monday.

Since then, it’s been what we wanted from it. I now have Sportscenter with my Fruit Loops, Super Smash Brothers to fire up with company, and a legitimate display for movies. And every time I look at it, it seems just as good as any one I saw on the shelf at Best Buy

A Day in Google Reader

There’s a lot of great content on the internet. Unfortunately, it might take a long time to seek out and trudge through, except for the invention of feed readers. I started on Bloglines a couple years ago, but when they started having severe problems, I switched over to Google Reader. It seems important enough that I thought I take a look at what I have in here:

Personal Blogs – I have 19 blogs of personal friends, most of which are inactive. I’m sad that Facebook has supplanted Xanga, as it means that there’s not as much written content from others, but there are still a few people who are writing. The shoutouts for people who I’m hoping are reciprocating readers and who still update from time to time are Albert, Chelsea, Charlton, Dan, David, Devin, Jeff, my Uncle David, and my cousin Eric. If you have a blog, drop a line, and I’d be happy to read your blog as well.

Big Blogs – My next folder is a slew of more popular blogs of real people, most of whom I’ve never met. Some are good, some are bad, but most are interesting. Some of the better ones include Scott Adams’ Dilbert Blog about his crazy ideas, Lawrence Lessig’s Blog where he (a Stanford law professor) writes about “the issues”, and Freakonomics, which is random.

Gaming – It’s a hobby, and I enjoy reading about what’s going on with various game development studios. The Team Fortress 2 and Bioware blogs are particularly fun. I, however, get most of my daily game news from

Kotaku – This is my first high output blog (having more than 2-3 posts a day). Over just today, there are 75 posts. Most of it isn’t particularly interesting to me, but occasionally, there will be a good trailer or bizarre news story.

Magic – I have a couple feeds to Magic blogs. It’s important

Psychology – My academic interests lie somewhere between Computer Science and Psychology, but if you’ve ever looked at my delicious, you’ll notice that I’m heavily skewed towards tagging psychology articles and pages. There are a couple forces at work here, but I think it’s mostly two factors. One, technology tends to just “happen” more, while psychology will often get interesting articles published about it. Two, psychology is consistenly more surprising and noteworthy to me. I will often remember some study I read about while talking to people, and have to dredge through old bookmarks to find it. With new products, they often become items in themselves that I can easily find. Anyways, I have about 20 different psychology blogs. Probably my two favorite ones are Neuromarketing, which just finds amazing applications for all these studies, and Mind Hacks, which does a great job being a filter in itself to find all the articles on NewSci and NYT that I wouldn’t find myself.

The Daily WTF – They post maybe twice a day, one with a story about incompetence in corporate programming, and another with pictures of mistakes in technology. It’s very entertaining, and a good reminder about how poor design decisions and style can result in awful code. I was talking about it to a programmer once, and he mentioned that reading it felt like “laughing at a toddler” since a lot of these people are legitimately trying. It’s probably okay, though, because this isn’t the worst thing on my feeds.

Hacker News – This is my last 100+ post feed left. I used to subscribe to digg, but I realized that most of it wasn’t making me a more informed or amused person. Hacker News is just a place where people post links to blog entries, questions, and articles related to programming. There’s a lot of trash, but it gives me a chance to find new blogs and interesting takes on issues

Lifehacker – The #6 most popular blog, according to Technorati. It’s very good. Posts range from cooking tips to new mac apps, but of the 30-40 posts a day, a lot of it ends up being very interesting.

Apple News – I have MacRumors and The Unofficial Apple Weblog as my 2 sources of mac news. THere are a lot of good ones out there, but Apple news tends to be relatively thin, and they all cover each other anyways, so I can usually keep up on updates and rumors with just hese two.

Company News – Blogs for various tech companies, like Google and Facebook. Most posts are about new features in their products that I don’t care about, but sometimes, there’s something good.

Technology/Programming Blogs – There are some famous programmers. There aren’t a lot, but there are some, so I have about 10 different blogs for those guys, like Paul Buchheit (creator of GMail) and Coding Horror.

Sports – And by sports, I mostly mean baseball. I actually found most of them in bizarre links from unrelated places, but I have a few sports feeds. Curt Schilling does a lot of techy sort of stuff, and the Hardball Times keeps me on top of MLB news.

TechCrunch and All Things Digital – Two blogs all about what’s going on in Silicon Valley and internet news. These are why I was so excited when I came to the Bay Area and discovered that the people making news were all around here. I find it somewhat funny how powerful TechCrunch has become, to boost the popularity of a new startup or ridicule one into oblivion. I usually flip through these very quickly, but sometimes, something catches my eye.

TechDirt – My first catch-all. It’s just general tech news, so I’ll usually quickly scroll through it. Most of it, I will have already seen on another feed, but sometimes, I’ll have to take a second look at something that I only glanced at the first time, and now realize is actually semi-important.

Anandtech and ExtremeTech – My senior year, I got really interested in computer hardware and was all over the benchmarks and specs for new video cards and processors. Nowadays, not so much, with these being my last opportunity to at least know what these things are called. Sometimes I’ll take a look at a new video card, but I’m thinking all of my future computers will be laptops, and the hardware doesn’t vary that much.

MIT Research News and SciAm – Just because I said I would never take a bio, chem, or physics class in college (other than neurobiology) doesn’t mean I don’t care; I just don’t care enough to understand. It’s always interesting to hear about new things in research, whether about why teenage girls are “socially aggressive” or why the LHC is broken

HowStuffWorks – I love this website. Often, google searches about random topics of interest return obscure, jargony pages incomprehensible to those who aren’t domain experts. But HowStuffWorks can make me feel really smart about things I don’t understand with pretty easy explanations. They also have a great podcast.

Slashdot – My final catch-all. It’s all geek news, whether programming, science, or Star Trek. Definitely one of the best feeds I get, even if I see most of the news by the time I get here

Webcomics – I like to think I’m fairly selective, but I realize I have a whole 10 comics that i follow. Dilbert and Sheldon probably don’t really count as webcomics because they follow the typical 3-panel scheme from the newspapers, but the others are definitely dorky. My two favorites are actually both related to pen-and-paper RPGs. Order of the Stick is a great, great one about an adventuring group inside a Dungeons & Dragons world. Darth & Droids takes frames from the Star Wars movies and imagines how they would’ve gone if the characters were controlled by roleplayers. I think you have to have played D&D or some other RPG to get it, but they’re absolutely spot-on

Failblog – I mentioned above that the Daily WTF wasn’t the worst. This is the worst. Because of it, I think my perspective of the world has changed drastically. I’m definitely not a better person for it. But it’s so funny sometimes…

Columnists – I’m not really familiar with a lot of journalism, but I do enjoy the work of a couple writers. Right now, I’ve got Leon Hale, Dave Barry, and Gail Collins, but I’m definitely on the look-out for more. I mentioned I got stranded at Borders the other day; that motivated me to seek out good writing, so I added this section. If you have any favorites, let me know

The Best Article Every Day – This is also a recent addition. I like to try out new blogs, and this one is looking like  it’ll take a permanent spot. The content isn’t always amazing, but it’s one post a day, and I can afford that.

So that’s the run-down. Over the course of today, I have 659 unread items. That sounds like a lot, but honestly, I probably don’t actually read more than 30 posts a day. If you have any tips to any particularly good blogs or feeds, I’m always looking for quality content.