Shouting into the void…

I’m throttling down on social media. Over the last few days, I’ve slashed and burned through Twitter to drop a lot of follows and focus in the content I want to see. Instagram was already kind of a dead letter for me after their last update. If I have to go through multiple convolutions to see people I chose to follow, versus those you want me to see, your app has very limited utility for me.

Finally, I turned my attention to Facebook and deactivated an old page I had set up when I was doing a lot more writing than reading. If anyone was following my lack of updates over there, sorry about that. I should have killed off that page a long time ago, but it’s done now. My personal Facebook page could probably use a good “friends” trimming too, but I’ll leave that effort for my next fit of streamlining and trying to make my social media footprint more useful. At least in its present form, Facebook has the advantage of being filled with people I know – or those I’ve known in years gone by. I’m less inclined to do any wholesale cleaving there… for the moment.

I’ve been looking at Mastodon for the last week or two. I like the concept, but don’t particularly want to make the jump to add yet another platform unless Elon’s fuckery on Twitter just gets to be too much to bear… or he collapses the entire company, which given his performance over the last couple of days doesn’t feel entirely out of the realm of the possible.

Look, I remain a big fan of social media. It’s given me insights and let me talk to people there’s no chance I’d have ever encountered organically. I’m never going to be one of these people who abandons the internet, tosses their cell phone in the sea, and proclaims themselves “free.” I find there is plenty of useful bits left even with vocal minority of users trying to suck up all available oxygen in the room. Still, I seem to be at a crossroads in terms of how I consume my media – and I’ll be much more purposeful going forward with where and on whom I allocate time and attention.

Not to worry, though, I’m sure I’ll still populate Facebook with my stream of consciousness rantings. There’s nothing I enjoy more, after all, than a good shout into the void.

New iPhone day…

It’s new iPhone day here at Fortress Jeff. I won’t even speculate on how many this makes. It’s been a lot. 

I think now the yearly trade in has just become habit. If it’s fall, it must be time for a new phone – especially these last few years when Apple has gotten very slick with their trade in process. My new phone showed up. In a few days an empty box will arrive to send my old phone away and the whole thing is mostly seamless.

Just like that, Apple has convinced me to go ahead and lease a phone in perpetuity instead of just buying one outright and running it until the wheels fall off. It must be a pretty nice little monthly income stream for our friends in Cupertino. 

More power to them. Every year I get a slightly better camera and a little snappier performance and in exchange, Apple gets a gently used year old phone they can recondition and put back on the market. The added benefit to me is not needing to find an individual buyer, or work with a 3rd party reseller. Plus, no more needed to stand in line in all weather in hopes of snagging one of whatever limited number they send out to the local Apple Store on launch day.

Yes, it’s pissing money directly down the drain. Yes, I’m probably not using 1/10 of the ability of each increasingly powerful piece of electronics I carry around in my pocket. Both are completely valid arguments for why it doesn’t make sense to upgrade every 12 months. But here’s the thing… I don’t care.

Anyway, it’s new iPhone day, so if anyone needs me, I’ll be over here trying to figure out what basic functions I need to relearn because the developers tweaked some seemingly minor bit of software. Trying to make my new phone beave exactly like the old one is, of course, half the fun.

Damned glitchy algorithm. 

As a rule, I find the Twitter algorithm much more entertaining than the one Facebook uses. Twitter tends to feed me a steady diet of people who talk about dogs, UK politics, the age of fighting sail, archeology, military affairs, book collecting, egirls, and the occasional American politician. It’s more or less balanced based on my interests.

Every couple of months, though, I somehow land in environmentalist crackpot twitter. My most recent territory was getting twisted up with Twitter’s urban planners who were demanding that everyone must live in densely built walkable communities.

I’d like to encourage that group to piss directly off. Not everyone wants or needs to live in dense, urban housing – walkable or otherwise. I’ve spent my life specifically avoiding living under those conditions. I have no idea why it’s so hard for urbanites to understand that not everyone is interested in living asshole to elbow with their neighbor, stacked 47 floors deep, just for the pleasure of having a bakery or bodega a block over. I worked my ass off to make sure there was plenty of space between me and the next guy. In fact, I suspect my current space allocation isn’t nearly enough and the next time around I’ll focus on less house and more land.

I’d be hard pressed to think of a single argument the urban planning true believers on Twitter could make that would lead me in a different direction. That won’t stop that oddball little corner of twitter from being filled by people who think they have the One True Way and the rest of us should just live in accordance with their pronouncements of the higher good.

I obviously need to find a way to get Twitter to stop feeding me this nonsense, as I’d much rather focus on the nonsense that actually interests me instead of rabbit holing me into things just guaranteed to elevate my blood pressure. Damned glitchy algorithm. 

Dodging a brick…

I’ve been vaguely aware that 2022 was the year 3G wireless service was going to be discontinued here in the US for a while now. Other than being aware, I really didn’t put much intellectual rigor into wanting to know more about it. That was true until I glanced at an article yesterday warning that some cellular-based home security systems among other “background” services could be impacted.

After a quick check, it turns out that my system is going to be one that dropped offline sooner rather than later. Turns out, thanks to AT&T taking their network offline later this month, I was about a week away to losing my system. 

I’m not mad at them. Technology marches on and needs to be upgraded from time to time. I’m am, however, pissed as hell that I didn’t even get a warning notice from the monitoring company I’ve been paying every month for the last seven years to keep any eye out for home intrusion, flood, and fire. 

They were quick to confirm that I was about to have a problem when I called last night. If I hadn’t noticed that article and then taken the initiative to call them, though, there’s no telling how many monthly fees I’d have paid for them to monitor dead air. In all likelihood, I’d have never known it until the point when an alarm should have triggered but didn’t. 

That’s aggravating on any number of levels. 

To their credit, the company in question was quick to offer me an upgraded base station at no cost (as long as I was willing to sign a new one-year contract). No big deal there, as I’ve been going month to month with them for at least the last four years and don’t have any interest in building a new system from the ground up. Aside from this one pretty glaring issue, their customer service and equipment has been just about flawless. 

I should be at least temporarily future proofed by the end of the week, but if you rely on cellular as a primary or backup link for your alarm system and it’s of a certain age, you might want to give your provider a call and make sure you’re not about to be bricked.

My after Christmas list…

I couple of nights ago I noticed my iPad wasn’t holding a charge quite as well as it used to. The cover is pretty tatty and the aluminum housing is scratched and scraped. Every now and then it even stumbles trying to render a website. 

I didn’t think much about it until it popped up a notification that I was due for a software update. Poking around in settings (since I was there anyway), it dawned on me – probably not for the first time – that I was updating an almost 9-year-old piece of equipment.

I suppose that realizing that my venerable iPad Air crossed the pacific in 2013 made me a bit more forgiving of some of its latest foibles. With a little effort, I’m sure I could keep it limping along another few years, but I think maybe it really is time for an upgrade.

Yet another thing to be added to my after Christmas list. That should give me enough time to properly convince myself it’s a need and not just a want.

Cancelled…

I’ve had some variation of satellite radio since the service only came as a stand-alone dongle that attached to your existing car radio. It’s been at least twenty years. In fact, somewhere in a box of defunct electronics, I probably still have that first receiver. You know, just in case I need it. 

In all that time, I’ve practiced the yearly pantomime of calling either Sirius or XM or more recently, SiriusXM, and threatening to cancel my subscription before it renewed at full price. Every year their customer service department responded by rolling out a wildly discounted offer to keep me on subscription.

This year they didn’t. The fully burdened month-to-month rate for two vehicles and streaming would have been $566.88 for the year. Their discounted offer for the same services was $298. Last year I re-upped for half that.

Look, I am an unashamed Howard Stern fan. I think he’s one of the best interviewers of the last decade… but Howard three days a week except during his two-month vacation isn’t enough to keep me on the hook at extortionate prices.

So, SiriusXM finally called, what they seems to assume was my bluff, and got themselves cancelled for their trouble.

I’ll be surprised if I don’t start getting reactivation offers before the end of the week… but they’re going to have to do a long way better than what was their “absolute best offer.” I kept them this long because, like cable television, having everything I wanted in one place was a convenience. However, there are too many podcasts and quality streaming services now for satellite radio to go around pretending they’re the premium service of old. 

Purge…

I’ve been quietly purging my Instagram follows for the last few days. It was a more monumental task that I expected. It turns out that years of indiscriminate adding anyone that catches your attention will eventually stack up to be something entirely unwieldy.

I’ll make no apologies for the number of scantily clad e-girls, Insta models, cam girls, and porn stars who still pepper the feed. The Puritans left us with a centuries old sense of shame when confronting anything that even hints at nudity, let alone confronts that notion of humans as fundamentally sexual creatures – so much so that I even question the wisdom of saying this out loud here on my own platform. Fortunately, the amount of shame I feel about anything is inversely proportional to my age… and I appear to be reaching the stage of life where I have almost no shame at all. 

I hadn’t really set out today to write a post about my appreciation for the partially clothed human form, but here we are.

Instead of getting too focused on that, let me just say I’m sorry if anyone I actually know in the real world has or gets caught up in my ruthless sweep of the “following” list. It absolutely wasn’t intentional so feel free to send me a nudge to add you back.

New phone day…

It’s new iPhone delivery day. I’m fairly sure I’ve owned every “flagship” version of Apple’s now-venerable iPhone. The annual swap out is just kind of part of the tempo of the year now. The days when I felt compelled to get up early and stand in the dark to get one of the first out of the gate are pretty much finished. The era where new phones come with incredible new “must have” features seems to be over.

Still, I’m always just a little bit excited to get a new bit of hardware in my hands. I emphasize the hardware aspect because this morning, as I have for the last five or six upgrades, I spent some time completing a full backup of my old phone… so I could drop it wholesale into the new device. 

If I’m honest, I these upgrades are mostly just a matter of picking up a little bit of speed between clicks and a slightly better camera. I’m using the newest version of apps I’ve been using for years. I don’t know what the cool new apps are – and I mostly don’t care. This mini-computer I’ll carry around in my pocket is almost completely a platform for text messages, keeping to do lists, and taking (fairly) decent pictures of the critters to post on the “big three” social media platforms. Apollo ran on a system far less powerful, but I sheepishly confess I probably don’t use one tenth of what the thing is capable of doing. 

It turns out I’ve turned into that guy… The one who wants the latest toy because it’s the latest toy rather than anything to do with what it’s capable of doing. It feels like after all these years there must be some whiz bang function that would change my life if I only knew it existed. Maybe I should read a review or something. I probably should, but I think we all know what’s really going to happen. I’m going to go right back to using this fancy new phone the way I’ve used all its predecessors for half a decade.

Personal growth or something…

I’ve got two months left on my current iPhone Upgrade Program replacement cycle. I could buy my way out of those last two months for about $60 and sign up Friday morning for a spanking new iPhone 11 in hopes of getting it on launch day. It’s tempting… and there was a time it would have been an absolute no brainer. I’d have been one of the first 50 through the door on release day to make sure I got the one I wanted.

The days of me wanting anything badly enough to stand in line in the middle of the night, though, seem to be well over. I still like new and shiny, but I prefer to acquire it during normal business hours. I guess you could call that personal growth or something.

Of course it’s not so much growth that’s going to keep me from walking in to the local Apple Store sometime around the end of October and swapping out the 10 for the 11… and another year of renting the latest iPhone. Even if all they did was make the camera even better, it’s worth the price of admission as far as I’m concerned. Even if it’s not also worth the $60 premium to buy my way into the upgrade on release weekend.

A magnificent shitshow…

I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore. The moment something appears to be well in hand and headed for certain success, a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Tokyo and a shit sandwich is served in Aberdeen. 

This isn’t my first rodeo. In fact that is the 5th iteration of this exact rodeo. It’s also a close approximation of other similar rodeos from years in the past. The only theme across them, however, is that at just the moment opening a successful registration website appears on the cusp of happening, something will go horrifyingly wrong.

At least it’s always something new and different that screws the pooch. I’d hate to think with all these years of experience that I’d waste time making the same mistakes. Especially when there’s all the opportunity in the world to make new and far more interesting ones.

I know I’ve always been my own harshest critic. I’m also well aware that sometimes my standards can, at first gloss, seem unreasonable. Still, just one time, I’d like to open one little registration without everything turning into a magnificent shitshow requiring me to explain to the gods on Olympus just how it slide of the rails this time.