Sunday, July 13, 2014

Snowpiercer is the Most Important Part of this Long Post

First, and most importantly, I saw Snowpiercer last night, and that movie is phenomenal. It's super fantastic and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not watch that movie sometime soon. Since I saw it, the movie has been stuck to the front of my mind, like if a camel spider met the windshield of your car on a freeway. I can barely take my eyes off it.

I also saw, since I last wrote, Ernest and Celestine and Much Ado About Nothing, both movies also really really good. The movies mentioned here aren't in the same categories at all, so to say one was better than another is semi-disingenuous, as correct mood is required to enjoy them anyway. If we disregard mood and just take them simply as movies to be judged, Snowpiercer far outranks the other two. One was a children's movie and the other was shot in 12 days at the director's (absolutely gorgeous) house.

I loved each one of them, however, and they all served as a type of inspiration (though the things that were inspired were definitely dissimilar).

Stepping down from movies, I'm reporting that I purchased a mechanical keyboard. It came in the mail earlier this week, and it is such a pleasure to type on. It's got great tactile feedback, and the click clack sounds of the older keyboards are just leaping off this thing as I type. It's kind of funny why I ended up getting this (and spending so much money on it). I purchased Ernest and Celestine off Amazon, along with a portable USB hub, and had about eight bucks left to use of some Amazon credit that I received from my grandparents.

I figured I would want a keyboard to type on my Surface Pro 3 for long periods of time (for when I would sit for Saturdays writing in my bed), and didn't think that the type cover would be the most comfortable thing to do that with. Amazon was selling one for eleven bucks, and that got me thinking about the quality of keyboards. I started by looking for a cheap mechanical one, and then got sucked into this awesome keyboard fanatic culture. I now know a lot more about keyboards than I thought there was to know. I now have an expensive keyboard that feels fantastic, and I don't regret it!

Speaking of my Surface Pro 3, it finally came in on Friday (for the second time). This time I was able to be there to intercept the package, so it did not get stolen, and let me tell you, even through all the stress this thing caused, I am pleased as pie to own it. It's exactly what I was expecting and exactly what I wanted. Honestly, if you're looking for a computer at all, or think you may be in the future, I would definitely give the Surface line some consideration. They've got fantastic specs for what they are and they're built just gorgeously. Windows 8 has taken some getting used to, but I actually think I like the drastic update to the Windows software.

The fact that they changed how their operating system functions so drastically, and the reaction they got for it, really makes me thing that Google is onto something with the Material Design that they have begun to pursue. The digital space doesn't need to function how our physical space functions, but there have to be rules or laws that things abide by, or the space becomes too loose and incoherent. People expect to see a desktop on a computer (Windows 8). They expect to be able to access certain things and expect certain actions, such as double clicking, swiping, pressing and holding, to be consistent. When you generate one of these actions and the expected outcome does not follow, your experience with the interface is shaken. The laws can be different across different digital spaces, don't get me wrong, but the laws need to be laid out, so the user knows what to expect. The digital space is a real one, and realizing that is key to creating a pleasurable user interface.

(Another thing which I feel should be socially regulated is the freakin' push/pull on doors to public places! We really should have it one way or another. Pull to go in, push to go out. Or the reverse! I don't really care, but I do care that we haven't established a consistency. I've been a fool too many times, and I've seen too many embarrassed folks confronted with the all too common push/pull confusion. This needs to change, people!)

Anyway, the only complaint I have about the SP3 is that Google Chrome doesn't work as well on it as I'd hoped, and I don't think that has much to do with Microsoft's product as much as it has to do with Google's. I say that with a quick disclaimer that I come from using a Chromebook fairly consistently, and that's a computer completely built around the browser. Even still, it works well enough, and I think I'll be able to preserve my stance in the Google ecosystem fairly well, without getting sucked into the Microsoft one.

That brings me to something that I've read as I've been going through my tech articles and something that has struck a loud chord in my mind. The tech that we are buying today will really affect our lives and our choices extending into the future. I've already established that I'm of the Google crowd. I use Gmail, Google Docs, my files are stored on Google Drive, and I would use Google + over Facebook if everyone had and used a Google +. I've purchased Android apps connected to my Google account, which I would have to re-purchase if I moved ecosystems, and I would also have to move all of my files over. It wouldn't be impossible, by any means, but I don't think it would be worth it.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft all seem to have their ducks in a row, or are at least scrambling up the hill in the right direction (Microsoft). The move toward a sort of ethereal computer presence, one where you connect to your data on different screens (phone, laptop/tablet, computer, television, smartwatch, car screen, thermostat, etc) kind of establishes that data as the main point of concern, as far as you computing experience goes. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have different ways of interacting with your cloud stored data, and you can do it on different screens that are different, but the service itself is really what is going to end up mattering in the long run.

I've chosen Google to accompany me into the future, and while I really like what Microsoft is trying to do, I just think they're too slow in doing it. That being said, I'm 100% in love with what the Surface has to offer me, and am definitely glad that I purchased it (and that Google's ecosystem can be accessed easily via their browser, even if it's not the best Google browsing experience I've come to encounter).

To tie the knot between my recent purchase of the SP3 and my Google account even tighter, I have a small concern. I purchased my tablet/laptop hybrid thing (the SP3) expecting it to show up a little more than three weeks ago. I did that because I really enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology when I can, and because I knew that I would be upgrading my smartphone in July. I wanted to get it back then because I felt that a month would be a good spot of time for me to play with, learn to appreciate, and get used to my new toy.

I would then be able to move onto enjoying my next new thing, once the newness of the old one started to fade (but not the appreciation of course!). Now it seems like I'm going to be a little overloaded with new tech, because I'll be picking up my now pre-ordered LG G3 on this upcoming Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Monday, depending on when the store calls me with their received shipment. I am stoked beyond summer swells to get my hands on this thing, but I'm a little worried that I'm taking too big a hit of this new technology high, and it's going to lessen the value of both products. It's not a huge deal if it does, because they are just things after all, but they're things that I really enjoy.

The SP3 has already treated me well, though. I've played Towerfall: Ascension and Mercenary Kings (both games I mentioned in my last post) on it, and they work perfectly. I really am glad that I purchased that USB hub, because I can now plug in four controllers to my tablet PC and me and some friends can find some couch gaming bliss. I've also done some comfortable browsing and written on the SP3 a bit (this post (with my sexy keyboard!)), and drawn a little.

Things I still need to do on it are watch some entertaining videos, purchase a mini-display HDMI adapter for some television connectivity (for games and videos both), and decide on a good drawing program to invest in. There are three that I am currently looking at: Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio 5, and Photoshop. Photoshop is a bit pricey for what I think I want to be doing with it, and I know I can do the monthly service payment thing, but the other two options are within my price range, and won't be a recurring cost. I've got some research to do, but that kind of research is something I crave.

Something probably more of an impact on my life than any of the above (except for maybe Snowpiercer), but less interesting to write about (for now) is that I may be moving shortly, into an apartment of my own. Alone. Which will be nice.

Anyway, that's a lot of stuff, right? If you've got any questions on the SP3, I'd be glad to talk them over with you. If you've seen any of the three movies mentioned above, I'd be glad to fawn over how great they were with you. And, next week I'll likely be mentioning my first couple of days with the LG G3 (if I don't have to pick it up on Monday). Thanks for reading this disjointed little novella. Keep on keepin' on.

Oh, and if you want to borrow Ernest and Celestine, and I know you in real life and you live in Tucson, let me know. We could probably work something out!