I find that I can’t clean my own home without my ipod or something playing from iTunes. It’s not always music either, I’m listing to podcasts, audiobooks and downloadable versions of radio shows. Because the technology has made is so easy, I’m consuming more media more often. Most of all I’m consuming it at times when I’m doing other less enjoyable things. Things like cleaning, mowing, or even just sitting in traffic.
Let’s step in to my time machine here and visit my ghosts of crappy jobs past. One of the worst jobs I had was cleaning a grocery store at night. First the bakery and then the butcher area. The bakery wasn’t so bad, but it was hours of scrubbing the same large cooking sheet over and over again, in lots of nasty chemicals. The butcher room, was like cleaning up after the most violent first person shooter you’ve ever played. Meaty carnage was always everywhere. The belt saw had a tendency to throw little tiny pieces of meat all over the place and coat the walls and floor. Okay, maybe that’s too much detail here. The point is that I would have killed myself if I didn’t have tapes of Jimi Hendrix on my Sony Sport Walkman. It was the big yellow one with the airtight seal. I had that thing for ages and it traveled all over the place with me.
Sure, audio cassette tape was just about the worst medium there has been for music, but it was the best I had at the time. I had boxes of homemade mix tapes and purchased tapes. It was an art form to make the mix tape back then, I had one of those boom boxes with the dual cassette bays. I would search around the source tape for the song and then un-pause the carefully paused to record blank tape. Mistakes would happen all the time and you would have to rewind or fast forward to get to the right spot. With some of my favorite tapes of the time, like Synchronicity by the Police, I was able to visual find any song by how much tape was on either side of the spool. You could look in there and next to the markers in the little window, find just the right spot quickly. The worst thing that could happen was when the tape would run out when you knew that last song would have been just an amazing way to end the tape side. It was tedious at times, but I always put my heart in to it. Getting it just right meant so much. There was an art form to filling that amount of time per side just right.
It wasn’t about the tape cassette or the process of making my mix tapes, it was always about the music. I made those tapes to have the music with me, for those bus rides, long family road trips, train rides, reading or giving away to friends.
Getting back to my original point, today it’s so much easier to bring a vast library of content with you in your pocket. Gone are the days of having to worry about how much time I have to fill. Side A and Side B don’t exist anymore. In my opinion this is a good thing, because it removes the limits of the medium.
The dishwashers, janitors, and butcher room cleaners can escape from the mediocracy of their jobs and bring their own enjoyment. They can listen to the Audible version of Pride and Prejudice and catching up on the classics. Instead they could be listening to the Science Friday podcast and learning about the weeks latest news in science. Maybe, they just want to listen to Slayer, because that’s what they need then. It doesn’t matter, the point is that inside most everyones pocket these days is a device that can do this. MP3 players are cheaper and cheaper ever day. Most cell phones support audio playback.
I’ve just been looking at one aspect of all of this too, just the audio side. It goes to reason that being more closely connected to your friends and family through devices like the iphone, or any cell phone for that matter, makes the hard difficult times easier to get through. Nothing is better then getting a text message from a friend, while slogging through some gutter cleaning. It’s so much easier to stay connected. You can tweet out a quick message without a boss noticing and organize a meet up with your friends in much less time.
Eventually, I hope we all have robots to do the work that people don’t want to. That way, we can all just go back to enjoying life and having more leisure time. Of course that’s another story for another time.
Pardon me, I’m just going to slip these headphones on for moment while I go take care of that dirty floor.
I would sharpen my pencils this way everyday if I had the equipment.
I’d also use a laser cutter to punch holes in paper.
For a short period of time I had a column here on Futile that was called Ask Dr. Ryan. Futile has evolved much over the years. I thought I would share some good stuff from the past with you all.
Q: What do you think is a funnier joke: “I just flew in from New York and boy are my arms tired” or “A man walked into a bar- it hurt.”
Many a day I have pondered these very hilarious jokes and asked myself, “which one is funnier?”
Well I’d have to say without a doubt the “boy are my arms tired” one. I usually open up any business meeting with this one to help break the ice. It’s good practice to start out a public speech with a good joke and boy oh boy this is a good one. I even know it in other languages too.
French: J’ai juste volé dedans de New York et le garçon sont mes bras fatigués
German: Ich flog gerade innen von New York und Junge sind meine ermüdeten Arme
Ho ho har.
Italian: Ho volato appena dentro da New York ed il ragazzo è i miei bracci stancato
Spanish: Acabo de volar adentro de Nueva York y el muchacho es mis brazos cansados
Q: Sometimes when I turn my car on, it makes this one noise, which is kind of weird, and then that thingy kind of gets all strange, and I don’t want to have to pay a mechanic, so can you tell me how to fix it myself?
A: Use a wrench. Pop the hood or just climb under it if you can’t figure out how to open the hood. When under the car be sure to put the parking break on and turn off the car. My uncle Wally got killed sticking himself under a running car. I think my aunt set the whole thing up now that I think about.
Anyway, Take the wrench and find the bolt closest to gray dirty thing where the engine should be. Grab hold of it and turn. If anything leaks out or falls on you then it should be the right one. Remove the bolt. Clean the bolt and then replace it.
Pack up your tools and pat yourself on the back you’ve just fixed your car!
Q: This is my first visit to your site and I already feel smarter — thanks! But I have one question: Today is only July 8, yet your answers are for the week of July 10. Stranger still, the questions were all asked on May 8 and May 9. So, my question is, what’s up with the dates? If you are miraculously able to answer questions two days before the site goes online, how come it takes two *months* for you to respond in the first place? Can you travel through time or are you just slow?
Please respond immediately (i.e., the day before yesterday)! Thank you in advance for helping me sleep better the night before last.
A: Thanks for this very insightful question. It makes me feel warm all over to know that my readers have actually been paying attention to these details. There are many secrets here at the lab of Dr. Ryan, many of which even I do not know.
The answer is simple. Time travel. It’s what makes all things possible. This is how I adopted myself when I was a little tyke and taught myself everything I know today.
Q: What exactly is the difference between hot dogs, weeners, and franks? And which type should I buy for consumption. Are there any other uses for hotdog type products that I am not currently aware of?
A: Hot dogs: In Sweden, hot dogs are an integral part of the culture. This is a result of the Swedish cultural elites’ fondness of the ‘old times’, the 50′s and 60′s, when Sweden was the richest country in the world and the Swedish countryside was safe and cozy (if cold).
Frank: He was an uncle of mine. Nice guy. He liked to wear plaid things and dance in a conga line.
Weeners or wieners: According to Oscar Meyer, the first wienermobile was built in 1936. Its 13 feet of good American-made metal made people’s heads spin. I think this was the greatest design achievement of the year. Other less notable things happened that year as well. For example, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House was built.
After taste-testing all sorts of tube-shaped foods, our crack scientific staff felt that my uncle Frank had by far the best taste.
As far as other uses for hotdog type products, we found them to be really tasty when added to lime Jell-O.
I picked up the Essential Silverlight 2.0 book while I was at the Web 2.0 Expo. I’ve been meaning to share. It’s the first time I’ve purchased an “Up To Date” book from O’Reilly. I’m waiting form my first update to come in the mail.
To update your book you have the option to print out the pages or view them online for free, but I like the idea of updating the book itself.
To put in the new pages all you have to do is pop the little metal posts out from the plastic cover then add in the pages.
The idea behind O’Reilly’s “Up To Date” books
For publishers of printed technology books, it’s always been challenging to get a book written, edited, printed, and delivered while the content of the book is still relevant and needed by the audience. Some of our readers are happy to have the information they need delivered quickly in electronic form, but we hear from others that they still prefer the actual printed page. The Up-to-Date format is our answer to the need to deliver information on new technologies quickly, yet in printed form. And the beauty of it is that the book can take shape right along with the software, providing coverage of the CTPs, betas, and RTM releases as they become available.
Because the cover is plastic I have noticed a small issue in that the printing seems to flake off from the cover. Hopefully they find a way to fix this in future version. Of course I’d be super happy if they had a version that would work on my Sony Reader too.
Oh, and the book is very good too, but that’s another post!
- the first edition is 189 pages
- the second edition 440 pages
- the third edition 486 pages
So why is the second edition so huge? Heavy paper! The copy I have is printed on some deluxe heavy weight paper.
I’m happy to have the new longer and lighter version of the book.
Mark’s a freelance interactive producer. He makes a living creating web sites and designing user experiences. Because of this there is a monetary value associated with his work. So to me, taking the design and not paying isn’t all that different from stealing from him.
So he went ahead and contacted them and told them it wasn’t cool. As a result they changed the background color and added a Creative Commons Licenses where Mark’s old copywrite information used to be. I didn’t grab a screen shot of the first rev of the site, but I did grab one after they updated it with the fancy yellow background.
Putting the CC license on the site really takes the cake though. First they take his work and then they licensed it for anyone else to use as well. Well, that is nice of them.
I know non-profits don’t have much in the way of money, but there are plenty of free templates out there for them to have used. What I really wonder is, if the person who is taking credit for the site made any money at all for their work. Even as an employee of the non-profit, it just doesn’t seem right to me.