Category Archives: Random

Browser Talk

Once, a friend made fun of me for talking – almost whenever we meet – about the browsers I use. “Browser talk,” he called it. It was said with humor and I took it as a friendly jab, but humor should always give you pause for thought.

I live on the Internet. The Internet is the place I go to for work and play. It is where I educate myself about what is going on in the world, and it is where I learn to do new things or to get better at the things I do.

So the vehicle I use to access the internet is one of the most important things in my life. Important, not fundamental. I wouldn’t die if I had to use a bad browser. But it would be much less productive.

It’s hard to find a parallel. I could say that the car is a good point of comparison, but the browser is a living, constantly changing and updating organism. What’s more, trying a new one and moving into it is easy. A car doesn’t change over the years (except for getting worse) and usually, after choosing one, we’re stuck with it for several years.

What do I want from a browser? Speed. That it makes it easier to read text on the internet and to write, as well. Smooth viewing of videos is also important. The ability to switch between computer and mobile phone (and multiple computers) without losing my flow. And of course, I’d rather not have those annoying ads that keep jumping up in my face.

I am currently using Brave, a browser that focuses on privacy and speed; it uses Google Chrome as it’s base, but without all the crap Google uses to collect our information. It’s extensible – you can add things, just like in Chrome – and the only thing I don’t really like is that it only syncs Favorites between devices.

I was using Opera before, but the functionality of having chat apps in individual windows does not work on MacBook Air. I may try it again at a later date.

What do you use to browse the internet?

Art and the Crowd

I love the idea of ​​crowdfunding. The premise is this: a person has an idea, and exposes that idea to the masses as best they can; through a plan, a concept video, or even a prototype.

From there, people who follow crowdfunding platforms can vote for the idea in the best way: with their wallet. Each “backer” agrees to pay a certain amount to see the idea happen; if the total in promised payments reaches the amount that the creator thinks is needed to complete the project, the crowdfunding platform kicks in and collects the funds.

Creating something costs money. There are tech products that require investment in industrial research and production. But even an (almost) individual production, such as a book, can get done much faster and with better quality if the author doesn’t have to worry about making rent.

Normally, a creator would look for investment from companies in the field in which they operate. But the truth is that the numbers game rarely turns out in the creator’s favor. A product that has a niche market (say, 100,000 users) will not interest a company that is driven by products that sell millions.

My first book is a good example; I sold less than five thousand copies. For a publisher, this is not enough to give me an advance for the next book. But it let me survive for almost a year, a year I used to focus on my writing career. What’s a trifling amount for a company can be a small fortune for an individual.

Of course, things don’t always go right. It is important to know that when we support such a project, we are betting on an idea, not buying a product. There is a risk that the project will fail. In the literary world, not so much – books are written; they may not be any good, but they get done. But in another art form that I love, video games, it’s relatively common for projects to go nowhere – even those that are generated within large companies.

I never had the bad luck of investing in such a project; my disappointments in crowdfunding were few, and of a different sort. In one case, the product never reached me, it got lost in the post office. On another occasion, I had a major disappointment: it was the case of Bloodstained, a game by one of my favorite creators, Koji Igarashi.

The game itself is fantastic, but being released for multiple consoles, not all versions came to market in a good condition. I opted for the Switch version (because I liked the idea of ​​playing it on a portable console) and I was unlucky in that this was the version that was not properly tested, being full of technical issues absent from other versions. And I don’t mean minor bugs, I mean performance issues on a scale that would cost people jobs, had they escaped the quality control departments of a large company.

But the balance is positive. There are books that otherwise would never have been written, documentaries that would never have been filmed, videogames that would never have been produced, inventions that would never have graduated from the design stage.

This is worth having a couple of disappointments along the way.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight cc

Hard Competition

This morning I was in the garden/terrace of the house where I’m staying with some friends. It has a great view of the village down in the valley, and I like to spend a few minutes after waking up watching it wake up, watching the villagers start their early days and go about their business.

At 7 AM, I heard a bell ring and found myself trying to figure out what time it was (although I already knew). I was drawn to that line of thought because the unusual cadence caught my attention. It was difficult to tell one chime from another. In reality, what happened was this: the church bell was ringing into a little tune, and only after it was done, did it ring the time.

Another, closer church followed. It made a much shorter and less elaborate tune before it rang seven.

I imagine the priest (are the priests doing this or do they enlist a skilled person, a bell player?!) waking up startled with the bells from the other church, and running in haste to the bell tower, slightly ashamed for failing to ring the time before the competition. Yet, even so, he manages to make time for his own little tune.

I don’t know if any of this actually works like this. I don’t know if there is some sort of intra-parish competition. I don’t know if ringing the bell on time is a thing that matters to priests. And it probably wouldn’t be hard to figure out – but there are dozens of other things I don’t know that wouldn’t be hard to figure out.

And I like to know things. But there is not enough cognitive bandwidth to learn everything. We have to know how to choose. And there’s no harm in not knowing things, as long as we don’t try to pretend we know about them.

Stories are stories; some are true, others are meant to entertain. And some are both, but rarely by intention.