New Years resolution – No more Facebook

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I never felt the need to do one. If I need to make a change in my life, I just change it. Why wait for some arbitrary date?

Since I want to make a change in my life and it just so happens to be around the beginning of the new year, I am going to call it a New Year’s resolution.

I have decided to give up Facebook. I am not completely giving up Facebook per se. For the time being, I still want to have the ability to A) use Facebook as a universal contacts database (until I get off my duff and put all of the data somewhere else) and B) keep my account to log into some sites that require a Facebook account (note to web sites – Don’t be idiots and go this route. It is lame and it shows that you are lazy. It also creates a single point of failure. If someone hacks your Facebook account that is tied to say your bank account, you are screwed. Tying together authentication mechanisms is a recipe for disaster. Case in point).

So, what is changing? I am not going to be posting new content to my Facebook timeline. I am also not going to check what is going on in the Facebook world via the web site or on my phone.

Why am I doing this? Well, I am just tired of Facebook. I am tired of the “rat race” to be honest. I don’t get what most people put on Facebook (I don’t follow most sports except for rugby, I don’t care who is doing well on American Idol, and all the rest of pop culture). I am tired of seeing people’s progress on the Fartville Farm app or their zodiac charts for the day. Yes, I know I can block these, but I get tired of going in and blocking them as new games and apps appear. I am tired of the constant privacy changes. Who has the time to constantly be checking their privacy settings to make sure stuff that you don’t want to be seen by others stays that way? I know I don’t. I have other things to do. I don’t post a lot to FB, so that makes it somewhat easier to leave. To me Facebook is a poor way to communicate. I don’t like chatting all that much (why not just TALK to each other via phone or Skype, Gtalk, etc)? The FB email system is a joke; no threading, no relevant info that is easily searchable, etc. Since the terms of service for using Facebook keep changing, I don’t want to post any more content to their servers. I still don’t get why so many people post pictures to Facebook. Look what Instagram did (and later rescinded – sort of) with their terms of service. Who do you think owns Instagram (Save you a search: It’s Facebook)? Some things that I have posted don’t show up until I pay money to “promote” the post (seriously!?!?!). And lastly, enough with the walled gardens. Facebook wants to wall in the Internet into its own little cocoon of bits and bytes. Facebook wants to put a wrapper around what you see and experience on the web and track you ever step of the way. Nope….No thanks.

What will I do instead of using Facebook for social media and my <sarcasm> oh so important “web presence” </sarcasm>? Well, I mostly have been using twitter (which auto-feeds my FB timeline -turning that one off….now). My twitter account is @bradymac if you want to follow me there. I post my pictures on Flickr: I don’t post a lot on Google+ (I do like their communities feature), but here is my info in case you are interested: I am also going to start using the Path ( app more frequently.  I think they have the right idea for social media (at least for me).  Path  really does need a Windows Phone app though.  My website is where you can find my email address and other info as well.

I guess I will see how this goes. I figure for those of you who want to keep in contact with me, we will do so by other means. Who knows, maybe I will give it up completely.

My feelings on gun control

The recent shooting at the school in Connecticut was absolutely horrible.  The week before that incident there was a shooting at the Clackamas Town Center in Portland Oregon which is only about 30 miles from where I live.  It wasn’t that long ago that a dozen people were killed in a Colorado movie theater.

Do guns kill people or do people kill people (and the guns are just an ends to the means)?  The debate rages on. If guns weren’t so readily available, would these massacres still have happened?  In most of these cases, the gunman turns the weapon on themselves after their killing spree.  Is it so hard to imagine a suicide bomber strapping an improvised bomb to themselves and entering a school or mall and taking out dozens of people?
The NRA is saying we should be posting armed guards (possibly National Guardsmen) at schools and other events.  Unless we start installing TSA Airport screen devices and checkpoints at all of these locations, how are we going to prevent a shooter from doing at least some damage?  If the gunman is that intent on killing people, a couple of guys out front is not going to stop them.  Case in point: the Columbine shooting incident had an armed sheriff’s deputy on site and that didn’t stop the shooter.
Ok, here is where I get on my soap box for a few minutes.
I believe in the 2nd amendment.  If it weren’t for guns, we would still be under British rule.  This country was built in part by guns.  I don’t agree with some of it, but having an armed population can sometimes make a corrupt despot think twice about doing what North Korea has done to its people.
While I don’t hunt or shoot for sport, I have hunted in the past and went shooting for sport.  While in the military, I shot sem-automatic and automatic weapons.  I personally own a shotgun and a pistol.  I understand that some people enjoy shooting weapons just for the pleasure of doing so.  Guns have always fascinated me in how they are made.  The precision and tooling required to create a gun  I find very interesting.
I do however feel that we should ban the sale of automatic/semi-automatic weapons and large clips/magazines for general public use with one caveat.  If you want one of these weapons, you can have one, but you MUST keep it at an approved firing range.  I don’t see any need for someone to take their semi-automatic weapon out of one of these facilities.  You want to shoot fully auto?  Fine, do it in an approved facility or target range.  The guns will have some sort of RFID or tagging system that sends out an alert if it leaves the approved gun range.
I don’t want to see the banning of single action bolt rifles, hand guns (with regular sized clip), shotguns or anything like that.  I feel a person has the right to protect their property and go hunting (this from a vegetarian 😉 ). I do think it should be harder to acquire these weapons than is currently in place.
I don’t think posting armed guards everywhere is going to help.  I think all that does is give a false sense of security.  Many banks have armed guards and bank robbers still rob banks.  They may wear body armor or they just feel like they are invincible – whatever.
Here is the monkey wrench that is being thrown into the works: 3D printed plastic guns.  Pretty soon it won’t matter how much you regulate or try and stop gun proliferation, 3D printing is going to change that.  Right now the availability of 3D printers are still too expensive for most people, but so too was inkjet printers when they first came out.  3D printers are set to change manufacturing and distribution in the coming years.  Right now the guns being printed are crude and the parts are being banned in several of the online 3D parts repositories.  This is hard to keep up with especially as time goes on and more parts and repositories are out there (think BitTorrent for 3D parts).
Bottom line is that we need to start looking at the why’s and how’s that creates these sort of horrible tragedies.  Is it because we have a society based on violence?  Well, things were violent back throughout history.  Gunfights in the Old West, dueling with swords or guns at the drop of a hat, etc.  Automatic and semi-automatic weapons just make this killing more efficient.
Perhaps we should be spending more time on “at risk” individuals who have displayed anti-social tendencies or have serious mental issues.  I don’t mean to just drug them up with the latest drug du jour that big pharma has cooked up, I mean real work with these people.  To me this is where we should be spending our time and money.
Look, I don’t have the answers here.  I don’t know who has them.  But, I think we as a society should be constantly talking about these things.  We shouldn’t wait for a horrible tragedy to occur to start talking about it.  That isn’t the time to have serious discourse on the subject.
I am hoping as a society we learn to better understand what causes these types of occurrences so that we can become something better than we are now.

Nokia Lumia 920 low light performance

The kids were watching “The Grinch who stole Christmas”.  I took a pic with my work Nokia Lumia 920 phone.  I also took a pic with my Samsung Galaxy II (AT&T SkyRocket).  Both are 8MP cameras (technically the Lumia is an 8.7MP).  I didn’t enhance either picture.  I am also showing what gets uploaded automatically – Skydrive for the Nokia Windows Phone 8 and Google+ for the Android.

IMHO the Nokia blows the Samsung out of the water.  I didn’t use a flash on either picture.

Nokia Lumia 920 pic

Samsung Galaxy II (SkyRocket) pic