He Did It!

About 2 months ago, Bryson and I were having breakfast at our favorite local spot, Cherry Street Cafe, chit-chatting as we often do about tech and such. I had been struggling with coming up with new ideas about something he and I could do together (some new project or hobby), so on the ride home I asked him to come up with something.

About a week later he came to me and said, “Dad, I have an idea. A 3D printer.”

We had toyed with this idea before, but at that time prices were far outside of anything I was willing to spend. Back then I had told him, “We’ll wait because you know how tech works – when it first comes out it can be expensive. But as it catches on, prices will drop and a lot of the bugs will be worked out with the process.” He had remembered this conversation over the years, and during this week in question, he had combed the internet looking for value priced units, (but not cheap, as I’ve taught our children to be careful about buying things that are priced too low since you simply get what you pay for) and watching more review videos than I care to imagine!

I gave it a little thought, then replied, “Ok – what do you have in mind?”

“Come here. I have it pulled up on the office computer”, he said.

What he had found was the Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer. He also proceeded to show me a great, honest review video and then pitched his proposal –

“I’ll save up half and you cover the other half.”

Shook hands, and we had a deal!

For the weeks to follow, he worked and saved – asking for extra chores to make some cash, saving every penny. Finally he came to me and proclaimed, “Well Dad, I’ve got my half!”

Fast forward to Friday, August 9th 2019, and it arrived – he did it!

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Not only am I proud of him for his hard work, and focusing on his goal until completion, I’m also proud of his patience. As you can imagine, he was jumping out of his skin with excitement for he and I to get it assembled, but he patiently waited without complaining as I first had to build an add-on to our project bench in the basement for it to sit. But even that had to wait as I had a scheduled podcast interview before hand, as well as other weekend “busyness” such as his little bother’s football game, and a family dinner. But with each spare moment, we slowly but surely got it all together (about 1 1/2 hour total assembly time).

 

To top it off, he knows much more about it than I do. Once assembled, he told me about “bed leveling” – I had no clue, but turns out this must be done before we can start our first project.

Good job, Bryson!

#BrainiacBryson

#AllenThisTogether

 

Google Pulls Some Reverse Psychology

Only a day ago, photos leaked of what was reported to be renderings of Google’s new Pixel 4 phone. Instead of riding out the storm, and let the leaks cascade day after day, leading up to the official press announcement, Google decided to pull a fast one on its Made By Google Twitter account:

 

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Thus, unlike leaks of yesteryear (who can forget the leak storm for the Pixel 3 that eventually lead to rumors that Google was actually behind it all), Google has decided to turn the Leaker Community on its ear!

I for one am glad to see this, because I’m personally sick of Leak Media.

Happy Anniversary, www

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30 years later, and how are we doing? On one hand, it would seem the web shrunk the world and has connected us to cultures we could never have imaged being connected to before. We can communicate with others almost anywhere for free. We can see the wonders of the world that we may have never had the opportunity to see before. We can work in collaboration with those who are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. We can indulge in things we love to create like never before. Education on nearly every conceivable topic or skill can be reached by almost anyone in the world. Commerce and trade can move at the blink of an eye.

But on the other hand, it can seem that it has driven us further apart. Privacy Advocates are literally pulling their hair out as they come to the realization that many of us have known for some time now – traditional “privacy” is basically nonexistent. Once you click, share, view, shop, download or upload, literally all bets are off in regards to privacy. Criminals of all walks of life have found new and dangerous dark places to hide, while remaining cloaked in anonymity. Tyrannical leaders have yet another, more powerful tool to feed propaganda to their people while simultaneously cutting them off from the rest of the world. Bullying and hatred have evolved in ways that no one could have imagined before.

But ultimately, like most things in life, the internet can be what you make it for yourself – good or bad. Simply put, wherever your focus is, the internet has countless open paths to lead you to conclusions of knowledge or belief. The choice is yours.

Happy 30th Anniversary, World Wide Web!

https://g.co/doodle/nepqse

 

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I have been following a story that broke about a week ago via sources like arsTECHNICA, in which it was reported that big names like Disney and Epic Games (creators of Fortnite) had pulled all advertising from YouTube.

When I first heard that Disney had done so, I immediately thought this was in relation to them pulling their content off of Netflix pending the launch of their own new streaming service. But the actual reason turned out to be far more disturbing.

As it turns out, pedophiles have been engaged in a sick tagging activity in which they note seemingly innocent things in videos of children by commenting only the time stamp in which a child does something that may be appealing to other pedophiles. In one example given, a parent had uploaded a video of her daughter’s gymnastics class. Buried in the comments that follow are time stamps like “10:22”, as that is a point in the video when one of the little girls does a cartwheel.

Other examples of videos are given that I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but the comments come across innocent to children who don’t yet understand these types of things, and they unwittingly reply. One child was even tricked into telling their age.

This also leads to what has been referred to as a “Pedophilia Soft-Core Wormhole” because of YouTube’s “More Like This” algorithm. This algorithm has always been one of my favorite features, especially when it comes to listening to music on YouTube. It’s great for discovering new or previously forgotten content. But in the context of videos with children, it’s easy for the stable minded to see how this can further feed the disturbed mind of the pedophile.

For their part Google, who owns YouTube, has pledged to come up with tools to help combat this – starting with tweaking algorithms that are currently in place. Other measures include things like disabling comments for videos posted on accounts owned by children under 18, or videos that have children in them. Which brought to mind a couple of questions –

  1. Is it necessary to have comments on YouTube videos?
  2. What is the purpose of having comments on YouTube videos?

This type of revelation could not have come at a worse time as more and more young people marvel at the successes of those like MKBHD – those YouTubers who are now commonly referred to as “influencers”. In fact, my daughter has her very own YouTube channel and is excited about hopefully making it grow. Couple that with the massive and ever growing online gaming community, as well as recent statistics that show young people spend far less time watching conventional TV as they do viewing YouTube content, it is simply unfortunate to know that the creeps of the world will try to follow them no matter where they go.

But to be clear here (especially to parents reading this), I do not intend this to be taken as a warning to “keep your kids off of YouTube!” or the internet itself for that matter. The fact is, creeps are everywhere. They always have been and always will be. We don’t simply keep our kids away from playgrounds knowing that creeps may be around, do we? If so, we have simply let the “bad guys” win.

Rather I offer this especially to those who may not have been aware. I believe the takeaway should be to, as usual, be aware. Be conscious of videos you may be posting of your children. Talk to your kids who may have their own YouTube channels – help them understand, at appropriate levels, the potential impact of what the videos they post may have. Familiarize yourself with YouTube controls – I’ve spoken to people before who were surprised to learn that videos you upload to YouTube don’t have to be available for public consumption. Rather, you can set them to be viewable only by those you choose (this is perfect for sharing with extended family). And if need be, don’t forget to reach out to YouTube Help.

The fact is, we can have nice things. We just need to remember to be good stewards of them.