Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pandora Has No Soul.

I spend a lot of time listening to If you don't know, it's like an internet radio station that allows you to create your own style of station. You add a couple of bands or songs, and it tries to guess what you like.

Here's why I can say that it has no soul:

I spent four hours yesterday trying to get it to create a station for me. It failed. I kept adding songs that fit in my category, and it kept analyzing them based on the wrong details: Chord structure, rhythm, etc.

The theme was joy. All the songs I chose made me feel happy and want to dance.

Pandora couldn't get that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manic Creative

I've mentioned before that I am self-classified as a manic creative. This means that my mind is on twenty-four hours a day, coming up with new things. I have no particular focus: It could be prose, poetry, animation, music, dance, performance... Often it is a combination of several.

My problem is that I'm too scattered. I only write short fiction because I can't finish anything long before I lose interest in it. I also find it frustrating that I'm stuck in one medium. My readings usually incorporate music and theatrics.

I'm currently trying for sincerity. That's the keyword that I'm trying to address with my work. I have moved my fictional and slightly humorous post-apocalyptica off this blog and onto Apocalypse A-Go-Go so I can focus on my truth. I have given up playing all instruments except the ukulele and my voice. My performances are becoming more and more simple and sincere.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Corporate Bullying: Why Adobe is Welcome to Bite Me.

I have recently decided to return to my roots as a dyed-in-the-wool anti-corporate guy. Here's one incident that helped push me in the right direction.

I downloaded the latest version of Adobe Reader. It installed a rogue application (rather like a virus, it's a program that you didn't invite that hides in the background and violates your rights) called "Adobe Updater." My firewall software didn't block it, since it thought it was a regular program.

I only noticed it a few days later when I tried to use some of my software. Recently, Adobe bought its only real competitior, Macromedia, in what was certainly one of the worst cases of anti-trust violation in the software world. Since they now owned the rights to this software, Adobe Updater decided to block my ability to use my legally-purchased Macromedia software until I re-registered with them.

Let's be clear: I own this software. I didn't steal it. This little rogue application that I did not agree to have on my computer changed my certification files so I couldn't use my software. It took a couple of days essentiall hacking my own operating system to delete these configuration files and replace them with the original ones. I also found out how to turn off this malicious program. There's not an option: you have to edit registration files and so forth.

So now I don't use any Adobe products. I found a little program called SumatraPDF, which so far has opened every .pdf file I have tried. And it's free.

I am replacing all my Adobe and Macromedia products with open source software wherever possible. If there isn't an open source version, I am buying software that doesn't have DRM.

I'm an honest person. Adobe's piracy problems are just that; their problems. It doesn't give them the right to violate the integrity of my privacy. They are creating their own piracy problems by bullying their customers.

Please notice my picture

Some of you may have noticed that I recently changed my profile picture to the above. No, that's not me in the picture. Here's why I did it.

I came across this picture on an entertaining blog that I read occasionally. The author of this blog was using it as a source of humor. Obviously, these are not classically attractive people, and I admit to a small chuckle myself.

Throughout the rest of that day, I kept returning to this picture. Look at it closely. This guy has a kind smile. He probably works hard at a low-paying job where everyone likes him. I'll bet he takes pleasure from simple things that I take for granted. He has a girlfriend with a down-to-earth kindness about her.

They will probably marry and struggle and occasionally fight over bills. I bet he will never hit her, even when he's angry about the money.

I have temporarily changed my profile picture to salute them. I hope they find happiness.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Becoming an Open Source Human

In the past, this blog has been known for the adventures of a semi-fictional version of me who lives in Barstow and obsesses about the coming Hollywood-style post-apocalyptic scenario. I have moved all that to Apocalypse A-Go-Go, so I can focus this blog on more personal and sincere endeavors.

Firstly, I have started to dump my writing, under a Creative Commons License. I'm a big believer that our current copyright strategy doesn't serve artists and creators. Be warned, as a manic creative, I almost never write second drafts of anything.

Secondly, I will be writing about my own search for a functional and healthy way of life that doesn't make creating and surviving mutually exclusive.

I'm slowly becoming allergic to corporate practices and overbearing governmental restrictions. I want to participate in a world that encourages culture and creativity, and I find myself blocked at every turn by some piece of paper that I must fill out for the government, or some license agreement that I must sign or some copyright restriction that I might be violating that the corporations have police-like powers to bully me about.

I'm trying to switch to open source software, and to free my own work from restrictive rules. Cory Doctorow has been an inspiration to me on this front. Of course, I don't have his particular focus as an advantage: My own interests and creative drive are spread out over a wide range of subjects that basically span the whole human condition.

Lastly, I will be writing about my own experiences dealing with creative mania, and with how I have dealt with my inability (and unwillingness) to function in orthodox modern society.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"I'm a Writer."

You are what you do.

A writer is someone who writes. A lot. Every day. If you don't write every chance you get, you are not a writer.

If you have never performed in a play or on a screen, you are not an actor. You are probably a barista.

I am not a writer. I am a manic creative who occasionally writes. Some of my writing appears on this and other blogs. Sometimes I get published, which surprised the hell out of me, because I never do a second draft of anything.

A lot of the people I know define themselves by something they don't do. "I'm a musician" whose guitar gathers dust in a corner. "I'm an actor" who hasn't been on stage since high school. "I'm a Christian" who doesn't recognize quotes from the bible.

I do a little of a lot of things. I'm not any of them other than manically creative.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hitchiker, Part Un

The Hitchhiker, Part 1
(Part of the “Road to Snapplopolis” series)

Creative Commons License
This work by Jonty Kershaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States Licen

    “I may have the Schroedinger’s Clap,” The girl behind the counter announced.
    Joshua leaned on his mop and blinked like an iguana.
    “Then again, I may not.”
    She was squatting on the floor, picking up sunglasses and putting them back in the display she had knocked over. Now that Joshua could take a good look at her, he saw that she was one of those almost beautiful girls. One of those girls who looks attractive at first glance, but who upon closer inspection is a little off in any particular feature you choose to look at.
    “That’s the funny thing about the Schroedinger’s Clap. You never know until you open the box. That was a joke.”
    The girl had been chatting furiously with Joshua since he had surprised her in the tiny convenience store attached to the gas station a few minutes earlier. She had been so caught off guard by his quiet entrance that she had knocked the revolving display of sunglasses all over the place. Joshua had almost apologized to her, even though the store had closed an hour ago and he was supposed to be there mopping the floor.
    “I suppose you’re wondering what I’m doing here.” He had been wondering that for a while, but he couldn’t figure out how to get a word in edgeways. “Well, I’m on my way  to Snapplopolis and I ran out of gas money, so I figured, “Gas station. They have gas and money, right in the same building.” And so here I am.” She spread her arms and smiled warmly.
    “And so you just broke in.” These were the first words he had spoken to her. He had a look of years of neglect about him. He was built like a silverback gorilla, all shoulders and forehead, and his lank hair fell across his face as though it was used to hanging there. If she’d had any sense, she would have been afraid of him, but something about his quiet voice and the way he hunched over his mop made her see him as a giant teddy bear.
    She ignored his question. “Have you ever been to a Snapplopolis before? I missed last year, and I heard it was awesome. Utensil and The Shining Gigolo Matriarchs got up on stage together and did a cover of Van Halen’s “You’ve Got It In Your Pants”. And I’m damned if I’m going to miss it again this year just because of my job in the prison library.”
    Joshua wasn’t a traveler in any sense of the word, but he was familiar with Snapplopolis. A massive Woodstock-like gathering of tripped-out college students, musicians, fire-eaters and acrobats. Three days of pure bliss or hell, depending on your inclinations and sobriety. Sponsored by one of the largest drink manufacturers in the world. He glanced over to the fridge stocked with Plopolis brand Apple Watermelon Cooler.
    The girl stepped toward him. “My name’s Marla. You could come with me, if you like. I’m not just asking because you caught me breaking into this store. I like you. You’re cute, kind-of. You could take a few days off, forget to tell your boss about me. I think it would be a good experience for you.” Marla brushed the hair back from his pale face, and for a brief moment her fingernail touched his forehead. For him, it was instant love. He didn’t even bother to tell her that he owned the gas station.