2.2 Billion Minutes of your time… wasted?

While listening to This Week in Google 58, the table talked about how many billions of minutes have been “wasted” on things like Farmville and other casual games.

The Panel of guests talking on Episode 58 all wished that people would spend less time managing their virtual farms and contributing to something like Wikipedia. My question is, why haven’t we combined the two?

Maybe not wikipedia, but Decentralized Computing programs have simply missed the boat when it comes to getting extra CPU cycles thrown their way. Why should I go out and install, for example, the Folding@home client, when they could have their code inserted into Facebook games and take every few cycles here and there. Then, while I save a baby dolphin on my Happy Island, I could be doing micro-sized work units for things like Folding, Grid.org, SETI@home, BOINC, or whatever is deemed worthy of my computing cycles.

At first, these could be determined by the game designers – later this could be decided by we, the casual gamers – give us the option to choose which program we’re donating our cycles to!

My biggest fear when it comes to this? That the distributed computing folks try to design their own games and get people interested. Don’t! You simply don’t have the magic. I wouldn’t even propose contracting a company to try and design new games that utilize your code in the back-end. What needs to be done is that these “social game” developers need to think of it as their “social responsibility” to work with these distributed computing firms to allow us to give our computing cycles to worthy projects. Meanwhile, all you are doing is what you’re already doing: playing Mafia Wars, Farmville, Happy Island – all the while virtually compounding drugs to combat Cancer, AIDS, or perhaps searching radio frequencies to find intelligent life in other galaxies. Whatever your desired project, you should be able to voluntarily help it out, while not having to think about it. Then your 2.2 Billion Minutes of Virtual Farming could be 2.2 Billion minutes of being socially responsible, green, not wasting CPU cycles, all of that good stuff.

I wish I knew a cartoonist… Apartment Hunting Online

This is another blog post that is just a random comment, (so if you’re expecting wisdom or summary: don’t. That’s not always the point of a blog… some people I know are still getting used to that).

With hopes that I may be relocating in the future, I’ve begun looking around at apartments. Having barely done this in my entire life, and only having done it seriously once before, I forogot what a pain it can be to find a place where you’re going to be living. I also forgot just how underhanded people can be.

  • Quaint, loft apartment in Historic area! Wow, that sounds nice.
  • Hardwood floors! Classy!
  • Very quiet, top floor flat available! Oh, good, I hate hearing footsteps above me!
  • Click for Pictures! Crap.

OK, I’m not actually looking for a place in Amsterdam (and if I were, I would want some kind of shade!), but I think you get the idea of what I’m up against. Finding an apartment, long distance, over the Internet, is difficult.

Billions say "it" doesn't make a bit of difference: 2

On June 26th, 2006 I wrote an article about how little a difference would be made when Warren Buffet gave billions of Dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As the “billionnaire’s club” got together last week and pledged more money, I decided it’s a good time to republish the same blog post from my old blog. So, enjoy!

6/26/2006: editorial blog post: Billions say “it” doesn’t make a bit of difference:
Okay, so I awake this morning to hear about Warren Buffet giving Bill Gates and co. some 37 Billion Dollars, atop the billions that Bill Gates himself is intending to use to fight world diseases and such.

Great, Bill Gates’ move and shift to use his own money to start the BMGF was a good and kind gesture. I’ve actually worked for a beneficiary of the Gates Foundation. But now another rich white guy following suit? Am I just the “cynical son of a bitch” my college professor made me out to be last year, or is nobody else seeing the idea that Buffet’s contribution is tax deductible? I don’t know for sure that it is, but I mean – my only assumption is that it comes down to that, or, he just doesn’t want to look like a bastard because Bill beat him to the punch. I just have a hard time believing that all of these guys with their few hundred cars and 20-odd homes are suddenly feeling “generous.”

I’m sure tomorrow Bono will announce he’s leaving his estate to the One Campaign. That will only be a good thing if he kills himself by the following day. Fine, maybe I’m just a cynic – maybe I don’t think everyone is as good natured as they come off, but if there’s a forthcoming wave of generosity it will only be inspired by the spirit of “one-ups-manship” – not that these people actually care about what’s going on. Besides – I still don’t see what money will DO for these world problems. Why don’t they do something with their money. Throwing money at AIDS won’t kill it. Thousands of hours of distributed computing for cancer and AIDS have proven fruitless, and the longest running SETI hasn’t heard so much as a chirp from ET. If we can’t solve problems with actual work being done and numbers being crunched, what is money in a vault going to do?

My suggestion? Gates should stockpile the money until there is a cure for these diseases, and then use the money to provide FREE inoculations to the populous. But nobody listens to me, because I’m not a rich old white guy. And if I were, I’d hate my own life. Why? Because I hate rich old white guys in general. Greed got them where they wanted, narcissism keeps them where they are.

Seriously – who was it that said they had an invention that would change the world? That “it” would revolutionize every single day living in America. The known universe would never be the same and the sun might implode as soon as “it” hit the market! Why, rich old white guy Dean Kamen, of course! And “it” was the Segway Human Transporter. Ever see one of these bad boys in action? Neither have I! Wanna know why? Because not every American is a rich white guy who has five thousand bucks to plop down on a scooter. If you did, you can only get them in a handful of states. And if you were a rich, douche-baggy white guy, you would probably live in the San Fran (ooh, they hate that one!) Bay Area, and play Segway Polo.

If this is you, please raise your hand now, so that I know who to mock individually and oh so personally in my next editorial. Until then, please, get a life, and do something with your money… like cure diseases by investing in them.

But that's what makes it so awesome…

Advance warning: this post has no purpose… just a walk down memory lane. That’s what a “personal blog” is for.

I remember the first time I really encountered the phrase “but that’s what makes it so awesome.” It was after I had already become a jaded sixth grader. Cartoons were over, it was all about computers and video games for me. Who watched TV after school? Evidently, everyone.

You see, a year or so before, Fox had unleashed something on the American public called “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.” As far as I was concerned, it was a show for kids. So when I was asked if I had ever watched the show, I scoffed, no, it’s a show for little kids! – “But that’s what makes it so awesome,” was the argument I was presented with.

I remember the feeling of shellshock… that was all one had to say, and anything which people could make fun of was instantly defused? So if video games are for kids, I can say “but that’s what makes them so awesome” and everything will be okay? Nobody can laugh about it? Surprise! It doesn’t work that way.

These were lessons that I’ve learned from that era: you can only say that if you’re already in the “in” crowd. Liking Power Rangers when you were ‘too old’ for it made you “ironically hip” – before we knew what that was – so long as you were one of the cool kids. If you were in the wrong group of friends, they laughed at you for liking Power Rangers “for the wrong reasons” – though they never explained what their cool kid reasons were that made it okay. So I continued on thinking it was for little kids, I didn’t like it all and didn’t bother finding a reason to like it, cool or uncool. I just stayed out of it.

Many people who know me sometimes think that I stop liking bands who “sell out” – once other people like a band that I liked, it’s not cool anymore… that’s not really the case. I enjoy things that people have always hated: Weezer’s Pinkerton (now see The Pinkerton Effect), Good Charlotte’s The Young and the Hopeless Album, and I’ve loved Greenday from the days of 409 in your Coffee Maker through Jesus of Suberbia. Just because someone changes, doesn’t mean they’ve gotten worse. When I say I like ‘earlier’ recordings of songs from an EP version, people roll their eyes and say “of course you would,” even if I genuinely just liked the sound better (see In Fear & Faith’s self titled EP vs. the Voyage EP, mostly the same songs, but better vocals on the self titled EP!).

I don’t like things because they’re liked by other people, nor do I like them because they’re not liked by other people – I like what I like, there’s not some ironic reasoning for it, it’s just me. I’m tired of having to have a reason for a hobby, ever since sixth grade. It’s too much work. But maybe, just maybe, all that work defending your hobbies is what makes them so awesome and so personal to you.