Blockless Ad Blocker: The FAQ They Missed

Yes, I’m kind of a smart-ass sometimes, but this is really how I feel about ad-blockers. Despite how much I like Blockless (DNS trickery is so much cleaner than a full-blown VPN solution), I won’t be paying for their service. As someone who once made a living off providing content for free, and supported his family off of advertising, I know that ad blocking is theft. It’s just a theft that most people can’t wrap their brains around because there’s no real-world equivalent.

Blockless-Ad-Blocking

UPDATE: To their credit, the community manager at Blockless replied to my email: “As a professional who has sold advertising for over 5 years, currently uses advertising and manages many affiliates of Blockless I have to disagree. Either way you are entitled to your opinion and not sure if you noticed but Ad Blocker does have an off button. Let me know the email attached to your account and I will cancel and unsubscribe you from our service.” If he was on the publisher side, he’d get it.

Why am I scared to blog?

I finished reading Seth Godin’s excellent Linchpin book recently, and I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s War of Art. Both books talk about the Resistance. The Resistance has been beating the hell out of me when it comes to blogging here on my site. I have at least ten draft posts that I’ve started – things that I’ve want to write about for months – but I haven’t finished any of them. Here’s Pressfield on overcoming the Resistance:

Why haven’t I been writing? I used to think of myself as a writer – I wrote tech reviews, tech books, and generally spoke up about whatever I was passionate about. Writing comes fairly easily to me. When I started my job at HTC, that all went away. The job was all-consuming, and along with the adjustment of living in a new country (and a second kid), I didn’t have it in me to write from a time or energy perspective. Since leaving HTC though and moving to AT&T, I’ve achieved a better work/life balance and I have both the time and energy to write…if I really wanted to.

What’s been stopping me? There’s that saying that if you name your fears, you’ll gain some power over them. So here’s why I think I haven’t been blogging, written in the form of what the Resistance has been whispering to me:

  • You don’t have a platform of significance to speak from anymore
  • You don’t have a tech site or real community any more, so no one will read what you have to say anyway
  • You’re a has-been in the tech world, so why would anyone care what you have to say about tech?
  • You have nothing worth saying about topics beyond tech anyway, so why bother?
  • You don’t have time; there’s that TV show you wanted to watch, that book you wanted to read, those photos you wanted to edit…

To all of the above reasons, and to the Resistance, I say…shut up! I’m going to blog anyway, about whatever I want. I don’t do it for the approval of others; I do it for myself and to contribute small pieces of knowledge and understanding to the world. Head down, pushing forward, I’m going to blog.

What has the Resistance been saying to you?

I’m Not Quite Dead Yet…

At some point last year I realized I hadn’t posted a single blog entry in a long time…then the rest of 2013 passed. So here I am in 2014, with the sad realization that for the first time since 2006 a whole year went by without a single blog post here. Life has been intense, but I didn’t want to be thinking about the same excuses this time in 2015. So back to the occasional blogging!

Microsoft’s Productivity Vision of the Future

Every technology company has a vision for the future of productivity and interactive computer systems. Above is Microsoft’s. I’d like to live in that world. 🙂

Best Paintball Video Ever? Yes, I Think So…

“In this video for Porter Robinson’s Spitfire, we emulated a videogame style paintball match shot in one take with the Phantom Flex @ 1,000 fps. Dont forget to have a looksy at the chat box ;)”

Porter Robinson // SPITFIRE (aka: CAPTURE THE CAN) from Saman Keshavarz on Vimeo.

A Case of Curious Parking, Curb Your Enthusiasm Style

I don’t know if this is going to be a controversial post or not, but having watched a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm lately, this odd scenario jumped out at me as if Larry David himself wrote it and I thought it was amusing enough to share.

I was at the Avenue Commercial shareholder’s meeting last week, and I pulled into the parking lot looking for a spot. I was baffled seeing a car parked in front of two spots, completely blocking access to both of them. It was like this person simply didn’t want the hassle of turning their wheel and it was easier to drive straight into the parking lot and stop the car in that spot. I managed to just barley fit into the third spot, and when I got out I was surpried to see a blue handicapped card hanging from the rear view mirror.

I thought to myself “That card gives you the ability to park in special spots near the door, so why pick the middle of the parking lot to stop your car and get out?” I have to wonder how this person justified blocking two parking spots? Perhaps I’m being unfair and there was a reason for this, but for the life of me I can’t think of what it could be. The ultimate irony in all this? On my way to the door I walked past a handicapped parking spot with no one parked in it.

If this really were a Curb Your Enthusiam episode, it would have gone something like this…

Larry David is in a rush and pulls into a parking lot, looking for a parking spot. The only spot available is the handicapped spot, so Larry pulls into it (and it’s a “straight shot spot” where you can pull in coming off the street without needing to turn the wheel), justifying it by saying no handicapped person needs that spot at that very moment. He tells himself he’ll be quick. After his appointment, Larry comes out of the building to find a handicapped woman in a vehicle waiting for him, angry that Larry had taken the spot. Larry gets into a verbal sparring match with this woman, and she yells that she needs the use of this “straight shot spot” because she can’t manoeuvre her full-sized van with a wheelchair ramp into any other spot  in the lot. Larry yells back that if this she can’t park in any spot but this one, she should just pull into the lot and park perpendicular to other vehicles. He insists that he would be totally OK with her doing this. Discussions with Jeff would later ensue about the “Straight Shot Spot”, and Larry would find himself shortly in a situation where, upon his suggestion, the same woman would have parked perpendicular to his vehicle in a different parking lot, blocking him in his spot and causing him problems. Or something like that. 😉

Working with a Resume Professional is Sometimes the Best Choice

As someone who spends a good part of his day writing – blog posts, reviews, editorials, email, etc. – I pride myself on my ability to put words down in a cohesive, effective manner. So you’d think that when it came time to update my resume, it would be an easy task. Not so much. I don’t know if it was the fact that I’ve never been overly comfortable writing about myself, or if it’s that the idea of putting together a resume from scratch was extremely daunting. I hadn’t updated my resume in seven years, so when I looked at it and saw how outdated it was, I wasn’t sure where to start. I toyed with in for more than two months before accepting the fact that I needed help getting it done. Yes, there was a strong case of denial at work – and while I was initially reluctant to spend money on having someone help me write my resume, I finally accepted that it was the best approach.

I did a quick Google search for “resume writing” and saw an ad by Resume Lifesaver, a.k.a. Sarah Wright, and clicked on it. I found Sarah’s costs to be reasonable, her response time consistent, and she was an absolute pleasure to deal with – especially since I was an uncooperative client, often taking weeks to respond to her at the beginning. She also took the time to have a phone call with me to learn about what I wanted my resume to communicate. There’s something I find profoundly unpleasant about working on my resume, and she was patient with me while I slowly convinced myself to finally tackle this project.

If you’re looking for someone to help you write a new resume from scratch, update an old resume, or re-work your current resume for a new job, I can recommend Sarah Wright and Resume Lifesaver without reservation.

And here’s a tip: once you get your new resume, update it a couple of times a year with significant accomplishments and career milestones. Don’t worry about it getting a bit long – you can trim out the unnecessary stuff when it comes time to share it. You’d be surprised at how easily you forget some of this stuff if you don’t write it down!

Americans, Gun Laws, and the Arizona Shootings

Below is a post I made to a private Facebook discussion that occurred in response to my Tweet above. I truly know very little about gun laws in the USA, or even much about them in Canada, but every time a violent person kills others with a handgun, the question of where did he get that handgun from comes up. It’s always a valid question, but it seems no matter how many people get killed by handguns in the USA, nothing changes.

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OK, so I spent 10 minutes trying to re-find an article that I read yesterday and couldn’t…but in this article, it stated that the gunman went into Sportsman’s Warehouse that day and purchased a Glock and ammo, and I believe a 30 round magazine. Assuming that’s accurate, right there I have a few problems: being able to purchase a handgun immediately = disaster.

Handguns are either for killing someone else (or a lot of other people), or defending yourself from being killed. The decision to purchase a gun to commit violence shouldn’t be a fast, rash one. Giving someone permission to carry something on their person that can be easily concealed (regardless of what the law says about concealed weapons) should be a measured, controlled process, with only the most vetted of people being allowed to purchase one.

It should be a process that takes days or weeks, not minutes. It seems like the system failed on a bunch of fronts here based on what Vinny wrote – that if various people in law enforcement had done their jobs, he’d never have been able to purchase a gun because he would have failed his background check. Putting that aside though, the basic premise that you can go into a store and leave a few minutes later with a handgun and ammo is insane to me. Humans are emotional, rash creatures who make stupid decisions and making it quick and easy for someone to buy a gun is a massive mistake.

Why shouldn’t handguns simply be banned? Or why aren’t biometric measures required for handguns? The technology to prevent unauthorized firing of a handgun have been there for years, but the gun makers aren’t using them because it would drive down their profits. Can you imagine all the accidental firearm deaths of children if handguns were only able to be fired by the owner of the gun? It would also prevent things like that 17 year old kid last week who took his dad’s gun (who is a cop) and killed the principal and assistant principal.

I get that crazy, violent people will be crazy and violent no matter what. But why should it be so EASY for them to get their hands on something so finely tuned for dealing death? If he had purchased a shotgun or rifle from a hunting store, at the very least it’s a weapon that you can usually see someone coming at you with, and they typically have limited magazine sizes. I read that the 30-round extended magazine on the Glocks were outlawed in Arizona a few years ago, but then that law was overturned. Because, yeah, 10 bullets in a handgun is just NOT enough, you NEED to have 30 bullets in there. Am I the only one that thinks that’s completely bonkers?

And, not surprisingly, I heard today that handgun sales in Arizona are up 60%…and one retailer reported that his sales of Glocks doubled. So in a sadly typical response to gun violence, more guns are being put on the street, which can only lead to more violence.

I think very highly of the USA in many ways, but when it comes to your passion as a country for guns, I just don’t get it.

Bandwith Hell in Las Vegas With Clearwire WiMax 4G

I’m in Las Vegas at CES, and I rented a WiMax modem from a company called Cheetah Wireless. Last year it was a decent solution – not as fast as I was hoping for, but pretty good. This year, it’s a disaster. Check out this pathetic bandwidth:

That’s so slow it feels like I’m using a 56K modem. It’s ugly. Cheetah Wireless is saying it might be a defective modem, but it feels like the real problem is that the WiMax signal is pathetically weak from my hotel room. It’s really hard to do much of anything with Internet this slow… 🙁

UPDATE: I wanted to add that although I was completely disappointed with the performance of my WiMax modem, Cheetah Wireless did everything they could to help. They offered to swap out the modem for me, but we were never able to connect. I used it at the airport for a bit, and the speeds were just as bad there, before I realized that the package to mail the modem back was inside my checked back. So I took the WiMax modem home with me to Canada, then mailed it back to Las Vegas – and the guy at Cheetah Wireless that I was dealing with was very understanding when I explained my error. I probably won’t go this WiMax route again – I’m going to pick up one of these