Friday, May 16, 2014

Relationships are complicated, or are they?

First, I read this article (In case you're looking for context).

I'll try to sum up the story in a paragraph if you don't have time, but it's a really great read. Guy asks wife if he can research cheating by signing up for cheating site, wife agrees. Guy goes on nice random dates and gets along great with a few girls who he connects with on site. Guys succeeds in getting date to go to a hotel with him. Before anything happens, he confesses. Drink thrown in face; names called. Guy meets with his wife right away, who confronts him about alcohol smell and is upset only because he never takes HER on dates like that anymore. Guy learns important lesson about why some women cheat.

This article was really eye-opening to me, as a gentleman who has recently gotten engaged and has fallen into a regular (read: boring) pattern in my relationship. I have always fancied myself something of a romantic, and I KNOW that relationships can't keep their early pace forever. To me, this basically seems like a lack of awareness in a relationship, and more importantly, a lack of communication. These kinds of problems are actually extremely common in relationships, not just those of a romantic nature.

In the article, the issue between the author and his wife arose because of a perceived lack of effort in their relationship IN COMPARISON to the amount of effort he was putting in to cheating (his career) at the time. The author describes himself as a reformed lothario who is completely committed to his marriage, but he is nevertheless taken aback by his newfound realization of how easy it would be for him to engage in stimulating affairs. Trysts of this nature, while not physical, are still emotionally and morally objectionable.


It is sometimes difficult to see from within how some of our actions might be perceived from others inside or around our social circles. I have been pouring a TON of energy into extra-occupational endeavours lately, trying to make my way into the media business through blogging, webcasting, filmmaking, web design, amateur music production, etc.. However, I have always told myself that since I started doing this, I am 100% committed to the girl I am going to marry. If any of this work, no matter how fulfilling or satisfying I found it, came between her and I in a serious way, I would put it on the backburner, or abandon it if need be. Ditto for arrival/departure at events: if we were going to be late for something because she (somewhat stereotypically at times) needed more time to declare herself presentable to the world (I will never understand this because she always looks lovely), I always take a deep breath and acknowledge to myself that worrying about running late, or missing some deadline, probably isn't worth worrying about in comparison to the continued happiness and mental well-being of my betrothed.

That being said, I am not perfect, and I am never going to be (I don't even aim for perfection, at least not in ALL aspects of my life). There will be times when I will make errors in judgment, and when I will upset the people I care about most. I probably do need to spend a little more time considering the thoughts and feelings of those closest to me in the world, because nothing is more important to me than those people. I am well aware that I'm not the greatest when it comes to asking or knowing what is going on in people's lives.
If I could add one more thing I've learned over the course of my many romantic and platonic relationships over the years, it's that life is FAR too short to take things seriously. There is obviously a time and a place for real talk and keeping a straight face, and every once in a while things WILL happen that will need dealing with. But at least 99% of life is much better spent laughing. Or loving. Or reading a good book. Cuddling. Soaking up the sun by the ocean. Doing whatever you want without a care in the world. Cry (if you feel like it).

So today, do me a favour. Laugh unironically at a bad joke. Smile at a stranger. Hug somebody close to you just a few seconds longer. Compliment or acknowledge somebody near you. Tell that special someone you love them.

Relationships aren't always about big, grand romantic gestures. Sometimes, they are about compromise and mutual respect, or admitting fault, guilt or jealousy. But most important is making sure that the people in your life know you care about them, and what you mean to them. That's the big lesson here: keep the best people in your life the closest, and you'll always be happy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Net Neutrality

Source
So, let me get this straight...network carriers in the US, like AT&T and Comcast, are NOT allowed to slow down network traffic in exchange for higher rates, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with SPEEDING UP specific connections for a fee?

How in the world could anybody not see that as the same thing? Net neutrality in the US has been up for debate in 2014 (and long before), and today is the day that the chair of the FCC is announcing the new rules for internet companies and the rest of the internet.

Internet companies have been arguing that since they made investments in broadband internet infrastructure, they should be able to charge whatever they need to in order to keep increasing connection speeds, but there is lots of data to show that this isn't the case, and that they are basically extorting customers and services just to keep data flowing at a slower pace. This is because of limited competition for broadband internet in the US, something that also exists here in Canada. What these companies also fail to note or mention is that they are given massive amounts of cash from the government as investments in the internet framework, and the actual investment by the companies themselves isn't so big in comparison. Add that to the fact that the FCC is composed mainly of former FCC lobbyists (people who are paid to complain about the internet rules on behalf of telecommunications corporations) and former broadband company lawyers (people who were pay to defend these huge national corporations from lawsuits and find loopholes in the system to allow them to continue extortive practises), and it's at the point that we basically have very little say in what happens, and the FCC has no reason to change its practises, except to suit corporate interests.

You should definitely read up on this because the internet is a global thing, and so regulation (or lack thereof) in the States will affect the whole world, especially since a lot of the corporations and servers we all use and love are based in the United States.


For more on this, be sure to tune in to +Future Tech Chat this weekend (Saturday at 12:30 PM EDT), where we will be discussing today's outcome and the future of the internet in the developed world. It's sure to be an interesting episode!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rob's Favorite Things (2014 Edition)

I have thought about this for years now, trying to decide how I should best go on record and give the best way for people to engage with me on the Internet. This is the least terrible option I can think of:

**PS. Order matters in these lists

After trying all of these, putting apps and services through years of exhaustive trials, these are my top ways to do internet things with people. I'm sensing a pattern here...(see below for Honourable Mentions and Things to Avoid)

Google Hangouts
Ways to send me a message:
Ways to share a link or idea or photos with me:
Google Photos
Ways to store and share photos:
Ways to hear me talk and see my face in digital conversation:
Ways to work collaboratively/share documents:
Google Music
Ways to stream or listen to music:
Ways to search on the internet:
Ways to email stuff:
Google Chrome
Ways to browse the web:

Honourable Mentions:

  • I think Snapchat is really cool, especially the new video calling feature. Still needs work though. (Find me at: Sciencerob)
  • Instapaper is a great app for storing links to articles to read them later.
  • Google Maps fulfills all your mapping needs. Alternatives are very weak in comparison.
  • Apple's Photo Stream is pretty useful if you have all Apple devices and friends with all Apple devices.
  • YouTube is just an incredible video service, nothing else comes close. (+Attrell Update+Future Tech Chat+Rob Attrell)
  • TeamViewer is a great service allowing you to control another computer's mouse/keyboard by logging into that computer.
  • Tonido is an app that lets you access your computer's files remotely by login, which is way cooler than I can describe.
  • Digg is a really cool app/service that curates news for you from across the web and presents it extremely well.

Things to avoid:

  • Voicemail
  • SMS Text Messages
  • Non-urgent phone calls (unless you let me know it's coming first)
  • Really just sending me messages I can't access or answer on any computer (see choices above)
  • Bing*
  • Yahoo*
*Technically these are alternatives to Google's search, but really, why bother?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friends in a Digital World

I've been told throughout my life that I don't have many friends. I'm certainly not one to mind being characterized in that way, but I started wondering if that is actually true, or even if there is a tiny bit of truth to a statement of that nature.

I'm sure there are lots of people in my neighbourhood, in Ottawa, in Canada, and in the world who have a fear or open dislike of personal or social interactions in one form or another. I wouldn't say that my thoughts go that far, but I can say with almost complete assurance that I often find menial social interactions (small talk, etc.) unnecessary, to the point that I would rather say nothing in some social situations than to try to pointlessly fill time with chit-chat with anybody I have nothing in common with.

I am much more comfortable in social interactions with only one or two other people. Perhaps this means I'm on the very low end of the autism spectrum, who knows. When I am in larger groups, I tend to stick to engaging in conversations with the people I already know than to branch out and meet new people. It doesn't help that I know I have a bad habit of trying to pay attention to conversation and immediately forgetting people's names as I am introduced to them. Having said that, it's worth noting that a lot of the things I find pleasurable (obscure TV shows, a majority of pop music, web design, video production, writing, science and learning, etc.) are things that I don't have in common with most people, and so I find it easier to keep them to myself than to bring them up in conversation or to try to get to know new people.

In fact, a good majority of the people I encounter in my day-to-day life are what I would consider acquaintances, and are not friends by most strict definitions. I don't really know too much about what is going on in their lives, and they don't really know much about me outside of the time we spend together (in sports, work, leisure, etc.).

That brings me around to the main point of writing this. With social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, etc., etc., etc., what does it mean to be friends with somebody?

I have a strong feeling in my gut that when I let someones friendship request on Facebook sit "pending", it affects my relationship with that person. Most people I talk to would see it as a slap in the face if I don't accept their "friendship" immediately, and this is such a tightly engrained part of the human condition that there is literally a stigma associated with "un-friending" somebody on Facebook.

Personally, I don't use Facebook's friends list feature as a measure of my association with a person. I know plenty of people I see regularly and spend time with who I have never considered being "friends" with, and all of my current "friends" are really only grandfathered in since I started to allow people to follow my Facebook feed without actually being my friend (something Facebook allowed starting in 2012, like Google+). Since I use Facebook to post updates publicly, like Twitter (you have the choice of your audience every time you post something, like Google+) I don't actually need the concept of "friends" on Facebook, and in fact I don't use Facebook that way.

If not for Facebook Messenger (which will apparently start indexing the contents of your private messages now, so there's that) I wouldn't use Facebook at all, but I still don't want to alienate people. I post all kinds of content on Google+, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, on this blog, and across the internet in 100s of places. If you want to see what I'm doing on the Internet, or send me a message via IM, email, video chat, anything, you are free to do so. Please don't think that my not accepting your "friend request" on Facebook means that I don't want to interact with you online, or that I don't want to get to know you better. I just think there are better ways to keep my digital life and social connections organized, and you're welcome to follow me (sending me a friend request also automatically subscribes you to what I post on Facebook), and if you have followers enabled (from the link) maybe I'll follow you back. Send me a message on Hangouts at +Rob Attrell.

If we're friends in real life, that can be enough. We don't need to prove it on Facebook.

I have more to say on real life vs. digital friendships, but I'll save it for another day.

While you're at it, don't forget to check out the latest video on my new YouTube Channel, +Attrell Update! Hope you like it!