Migrated to blog.kevinleung.com

I’m not sure if anyone who links directly will have noticed, but warstrekkid.blogspot.com now redirects to my new domain at blog.kevinleung.com . I’ll likely be futzing around with the templating some so that it’ll be more consisent with the rest of the site. That does require that a “rest of the site” exist as well, though, so the re-organizing might take awhile.

Also, if anyone is subscribed to this via a feed, would you mind giving me a tip about whether that still works or not? I don’t see why not, but it’d be good for confirmation.

The Media cares about your 25 Things?

So I’ll admit, I turned to some sensationalism for this post. 1) It’s not really the media, per se, just the blogosphere and 2) they care about the phenomenon, not those 25 random facts about you. Given that, though, it’s true. I came across a response article about it on techdirt.

But first, if you’re not familiar with it, 25 Things is note going around on Facebook right now. Notes (basically FB’s version of a blog) allows a user to put whatever video/text/pictures into a post and have their friends see it. As a method of writing for your friends (assuming you’re college age), it’s far better than a blog because, at least, most of my peers check FB far more than any other site. It’s why I import my blog into FB (where I would assume most of you read it from). And you can tag friends on a note so that they get a notification that you’ve written something. So, 25 Things is essentially a chain post going around where one writes 25 random things about his or her own life, then tags 25 friends to do the same.

While there was a decent chance that I would never have made it to seeing this because I neither use FB much nor am cool enough to get tagged, I did receive a couple. I had seen on my newfeed that a couple of my friends had written these before then, and at first, the thread seemed to similar enough to the surveys that come in and out of fashion on FB. Oddly enough, this particular thread has persisted, though mostly from my high school friends in Texas, not with my college friends here (though maybe I’m just far cooler back in Texas than here).

I usually dismiss these chain notes, but this one, I actually somewhat like. I will guiltily admit that I’m somewhat of a leech in this sense: I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading other people’s posts, yet I haven’t filled one out myself. I likely wouldn’t have thought of it, except that many of my friends who have done it have reluctant sounding titles, like “I wasn’t going to do this…” or “Only Because I’ve Been tagged 400 times”. And it keeps perpetuating. Naturally, no one should be surprised about the power of peer pressure here. And when there’s a good opportunity to procrasinate for 5 minutes on FB to fill this out, that can sound a lot better than doing that history homework. But it keeps perpetuating.

What I think makes this thread different from any other is that it has actual content. Previous survey chain threads often had some bizarre, theme, like, “x all the movies you’ve seen” or “put your itunes on shuffle and answer questions based on title.” Maybe it’s a good time waster, but frankly, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care about first crushes (exponentially with respect to how long ago that was), and I certainly don’t care if the answer to “What were you doing today?” is “American Pie.” But when there aren’t contrived restrictions, people actually write. Granted, one has the choice to write anything, yet most of my friends have provided relatively insightful comments about their lives. Even if it’s just complaining about something that happened in school that day, it’s far more than I would’ve heard otherwise.

It somewhat harkens back to the days when Xanga was really popular among my friends. Just before FB got big (my freshmen year of high school, I want to say), Xanga was the hot new thing to use, and it was basically a blog-networking site. While most posts would at first seem somewhat content/insightless, I found it fantastic to read about what had happened on a day-to-day basis, especially for those who I didn’t see regularly.

And maybe that’s something that FB has supplanted: writing. When one turns away from a full textbox input to just a line for status updates, an increased necessity for summary doesn’t come close to compensating for reduced space. So with 25 Things, people actually have a chance to say something real about their lives. And I’m all for that.

I guess the last point I have on this is the final reason why I think it’s been so prolific is because it’s of a decent length and content. Status updates are too little. Blog posts are too much. I mean, I myself am often a little wary to read a long note by someone, because I go to FB for a diversion, not a deduction. But when you’re guaranteed to have 25 quick facts, that’s not much of a commitment at all. So I’ve been cheating out of doing 25 Things myself by saying that I write enough with my blog. But maybe this long weekend will convince me to sink a few into writing that up.

Domus ex Machina

With computer in hand, it’s like I never left home.
Leaving from Austin yesterday morning, my family’s been driving up to Toronto to visit family and see how things are going. In the past, I always remember the road trips being a serious drag. Little space, little to do, long hours staring out the window, bored out of my gourd. Not so this time.
Perhaps with what little I’ve matured, I’m also more patient and able to keep myself entertained. But I think a large part of it is having my computer with me. I can do my work when I want to, watch DVDs, and connect to the internet at night thanks to the popularity of having wireless networks at hotels.
It’s definitely nice. Today, we’re wired enough that even when we go on vacations, we never really have to leave our life behind. Instead of giving a neighbor hotel phone numbers, we have our cell phones, which allowed for a quizzical call earlier if I wanted to hang out back in Houston, hundreds of miles away.
Email keeps me in touch with my personal life, and the internet can flood me with information, whether at home or on the road.
It’s made me wonder how much of a vacation this is. With my computer in tow, I’m not really leaving at all. But I guess everyone has their own sense of vacation. I’ve recently read a couple articles on the so-called “information overload”, as we take in all of the information of the internet daily. I’ve watched as that’s crept up for me over the past year. When I began, my feed aggregator had maybe 10 feeds. Now I’m looking at 80+, which is bound to grow as I find more and more information I must keep up with.
So this one goes out to you guys: do I need a break from the internet and life, or do I keep chugging away, situation normal?

And sorry I never did the Bourne review. I got caught up in some stuff, and by the time I sat down to write it, I forgot too much.

Making Life Easy

Last week, I ordered a MacBook Pro from the Stanford Bookstore. With educational discounts, I got a monster of a notebook and an iPod nano (which I’ve yet to play with). Just because I feel like boasting, here’s a rundown of the specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7500 (2.2 Ghz)
2 GB DDR2 RAM @ 667Mhz
GeForce 8600M GT Graphic Card w/ 128 MB RAM
120 GB hard drive @ 5400 RPM (Okay, not particularly proud of this)
8X DVD-RW/CD-RW drive
Built-in microphone & webcam
Built-in bluetooth

I think the coolest difference yet is that they replaced some software called “Windows XP/Vista” with “Mac OS X.”
Not that I dislike Windows. I’ve used it on all of my home computers before, and while processes might be convoluted, I’ve managed to do what I need with it.
Like many other people, however, Windows is what I’ve always had, and I’ve gotten used to it. Inured to it. Allegory of the Cave, maybe.
Perhaps I don’t have the mind for using Windows or Linux. While I consider myself technically knowledgable, I’m not the type who feels the need to hack from the command line, or buckle down and go through complicated options in the cases when I need the extra capabilities or power. And so, I have a Mac, and it’s great.

Of course, you get the pictures of me unpacking and opening:
You can see my sister’s HP on the right. Kind of like Godzilla in a cage next to a teddy bear.

I think that’s my mom’s leg in the bottom right.
And it’s alive!

There’s definitely a learning curve to this. Certainly not as steep as switching from a Mac OS to Windows, but definitely some stuff to get used to. Fortunately, there seems to be help and help files for just about everything, so it’s not too difficult to get it to work.
The ads say that these things work right out of the box, which is pretty much true. First time running was much better and faster than setting up Windows, and I instantly had internet connection and everything I needed for basic functionality.
I guess the first thing that I noticed is that it looks really nice. The screen I got is flawless, and with LED backlight, everything looks crisp, vibrant. Even if not familiar, the OS is designed intuitively, and I didn’t have a problem figuring out how to do things.
I probably should’ve written this sooner, since I’m at a loss of what to say now, but overall, it is good.

IE7; the new… Firefox?

So I just installed IE7 (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx), and I must say it’s quite nice. I can already say I’m used to it.
Because it’s basically Firefox.
Of course, mebbe I’m just behind on the times. I haven’t used IE in quite awhile, but from what I ‘member, it was quite lacking. I then switched over to FF, which has the incredible tabbed browsing, quick searches, hundreds of plug-ins, with the benefit of better security by obscurity (yes, I know that’s now real security, but it still counts for something).
Microsoft might be a big, slow corporation, but at least they try to reel ppl back from the competitors (can you say Zune?). Tabbed browsing and quick searches have made a pretty prominent advance in my mind, and I’m sure that as ppl have more experience with it, the plug-ins that made FF so good will come as well.
Now, seeing as I’ve just explained why IE7 is just as good as FF, you might wonder why I seem so excited. Well, basically, IE7 is pretty.
Shallow, I know, and I’m sure there are more customizable features on FF to make it look just as good, but this is kind of nice. People have this image for technology and computers of giant, towering behemoth skyscrapers, angular, metallic, and perfectly pragmatic, sacrificing aesthetics for it. Well, my computer definitely needs that last characteristics. If I’m going to stare at it for at least an hour a day, it should look appealing.
So the rounded corners, cleaner text, and general layout are nice. I always worked to shift around favorites and toolbars so that it took up minimal space, being as clean as possible. Well, another little feature is that all those messy menus are gone (File, Edit, Options, etc). Everything pretty much got condensed into a little area in the top right, where, if you need it, you can hopefully find it. Minor, but it looks nice.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether I really want to use it now, though. It’s very slick, and I’d like the hands-on with it, but Microsoft does have a little history with newly released software. I’ll mull this one over.

(Story blog will be updated by the end of the week.)
(And if you haven’t seen it, I updated quicker than normal, so my HC post is just below.)