You can check out the rest of my Friday music posts by clicking the “now THIS is friday music” tag below, or you can see all of them arranged in my Springpad notebook.
I cannot pinpoint the exact time in my life when my reading routine changed and declined. I don’t know if the academic “rigor” of middle– and high school was the culprit, but I definitely read much less on my own — for pleasure — as I got older. It seemed that most of the things that I read were for school. Outside of schoolwork, I would mainly read car and skateboard magazines, album covers (don’t ask), and occasionally thumb through shelves lined with Encyclopedia Britannica and National Geographic magazines. (What can I say? I’ve been a nerd for a long time.) I was an English major in college, and certainly read a lot. Though much of the material that I read in college literature classes was interesting and enjoyable, that reading, again, was not for pleasure. It took effort to read all of those books. The only thing that saved me throughout my years in school, including law school, is that I typically retain what I read.
But what happened to reading for pleasure? How do I get that back?
The answer to that question has been rather hard to pin down. If you pay attention to my bookmarks series, you probably are thinking, “It sure seems like you read a lot;” but that reading is spread out over the course of a week, and it comes in doses. No longer do I curl up in a chair with a book like I did when I was a kid — escaping into the story.
I have yet to read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which is sitting on my coffee table, but I am very interested to look deeper into about what Carr has to say about how our brains are being rewired because of the Internet. I touched on this a bit in my piece about opting out of social media, but I feel like my thoughts and focus are shot. I look with envy when I see someone lost in a book. Carla is a voracious reader. I want some of that.
I think the first step toward my goal of reading more is to figure out what I am really interested in. I never realized how much I wanted to impress others with smarts. I would, sometimes, read obscure works just that I could sound, if not be, learned. My interest was not connected to what was revealed between the covers of the book, but by the reactions of those who heard me recite the words from these books. That’s bad.
[Start: “dirty laundry”]
Sometime this practice applied to things that interested me, too. I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about the plight of Blacks in this country, as well as Blacks in the diaspora. However, there are times when I would just feel “Blacked Out.” I got sick of always, and fairly exclusively, reading about Black people. For the record, it’s not as easy as just saying “Well, just read something else.” At least it wasn’t that easy for me, because I have always felt a responsibility for being knowledgeable about the history, and current condition, of Black people. That probably needs to be worked out in another post, and I need to move on. I’ll just say this: That shit is exhausting! Fortunately, I have moved to a place where I am focused on being authentic and not living to prove or justify myself, or impress others.
[End “dirty laundry”]
So, what do I want to read? I have always said that I don’t enjoy fiction, which is a bit because I love fictitious movies. Nevertheless, I’ve tried and failed to get into most fiction books. It could have something to do with my lack of patience and focus. I probably haven’t given most books time to warm up and grab my attention. I’ve had a bad habit of approaching books with a microwave attention span. Come on! It’s been 30 seconds already. Why aren’t you hot yet?
Recently, I picked up Shelly Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, about the ironic phenomenon of the disconnection in the age of online social networks and technological tools like email, text messaging and instant messaging. The book has pulled me in, and I admit that I have been quite proud about plowing through the book. I feel inspired. I’ve started to think about what I want to read next. The difference is that I feel the urge to follow through, whereas before I would just buy a new book that would eventually just collect dust on the shelf, coffee table or night stand. I was so tickled with myself in the library that I must have walked around for about 30 minutes before I started to hone in on some books that I have been eyeballing lately. Most of them have to do with creativity, focus, and learning more about how our minds work. Just as I was about to pick up The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robison, I saw Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything and it spoke to me. I took the book the counter with a big smile on my face. The librarian was still entering my information into the computer. She scanned the book and pulled out the date stamp to mark my due date. I felt myself shrink to a little kid looking up to the counter, reaching out to take my book home. Sometimes we can — and should — relive our childhood.
I just pre-ordered a Nexus 7 tablet, so I am already wondering if I will move to reading only e-books. I think that the convenience of an e-reader will be nice, but I think that I’d like to not lose that sensation of holding a book in my hands; not to mention the child-like thrill of going to the library.
Do you have a library card? If so, do you actively use it?
Though it wasn’t a well-kept secret, Google announced the launch of the Nexus 7 tablet today at its developer conference, Google I/O. If you are not familiar with the Nexus name, Google uses the moniker to designate flagship Android devices, which (typically) run stock Android and are the first to get system updates.
Though just about every company is trying to grab some of Apple’s tablet mojo, it’s no secret that Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire, which is powered by Android, was the target. It was recently reported that Amazon is expected to release an updated Kindle Fire tablet at the end of July.
As the name would suggest, the Nexus 7 is a seven-inch tablet. It will run Android 4.1 (Jellybean), which was also announced today. The Nexus 7 will come in two memory configurations — 8GG for $199 and 16GB for $249. Here is a short video from Google about the development of the Nexus tablet.
If you’re interested, here is the introduction of the Nexus 7 at today’s Google I/O keynote.
As I mentioned, Google rolled out the latest release of it Android operating system today.
Check out Cnet’s recap of some of the new features in Android 4.1 — Jelly Bean.
Not wanting to be left in the dust by Siri, Google has make significant enhancements to its voice commands. (It’s worth noting that the voice commands on Android devices was already pretty good.) Incorporated with the Jelly Bean OS update will something called Google Now. Here is Google’s teaser video.
Now, for a more practical, real-life perspective, check out The Verge’s walkthrough of Google Now on the Nexus 7. He even finishes with a comparison of Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
GOOGLE PLAY STORE
The Google Play store also received an update. The big news is the availability of magazines, TV shows, and an expanded library of movie titles.
I spotted a review of the Nexus 7 by Josh Topolsky this morning on The Verge, and thought that it would be additive to this post.
I have been thinking about picking up a tablet for a while. I thought about the iPad, but started to lean away from it only because I will likely buy a MacBook Air. That left me thinking that I would probably fare better with a seven-inch tablet. I must admit that this is a shift for me. I originally thought the seven-inch tablets were too small — kinda like a paperback book compared to a hard cover. I’m hard cover kind of guy. With that said, though, I think the size and weight of a seven-inch tablet is more conducive to what I’d use it for — reading books, magazine articles, and quick browsing. This is something that I’d likely carry in my messenger bag. At 12 ounces, it’s much lighter than the 1 1/2 pound iPad, Galaxy Tab, or upcoming Microsoft Surface. In this size category, the Kindle Fire was at the top of my list, but I’ve been hearing rumors about Google’s tablet for months. Asus makes good hardware, but, quite honestly, it is the Nexus badge on this tablet that tipped my hand. As soon as the Google Play store was updated today, I put in my pre-order for the 8GB Nexus 7. It is scheduled to ship mid-July. Of course, I will definitely be back here with a “first impressions” piece, and follow up with a more substantive review.
What about you? Are you in the market for a tablet? Does the Nexus 7 pique your interest? Let me know in the comments.
- The Crayola-Fiction of the World: How We Gave Colors Names, and It Messed With Our Brains (Part I) — Empirical Zeal
- The Crayola-Fiction of the World: How We Gave Colors Names, and It Messed With Our Brains (Part II) — Empirical Zeal
- A Scrabble-Tile Poem — Mike Keith
- 10 Enemies of Personal Greatness — Marc & Angel Hack Life
- Uncertainty, Innovation, and the Alchemy of Fear — Jonathan Fields
- To Eat or Tweet: How Social Media Has Changed Dining Out — Angela Leung
- 5 Dangerous Questions to Help You Move Forward — Adam Baker
- New Yorker Writer Jonah Lehrer Plagiarizes Himself Repeatedly — Joe Coscarelli
- Jonah Lehrer, Self-Borrowing and the Problem With “Big Ideas” — Laura Hazard Owen
- You’re So Not Almost Ready for a Baby, Even If You Think You Are — Tracy Moore
- Hutterite Photos — Kelly Hofer
- The App of Life — Simon Kuper
- Where in the World Do I Start? — Leo Babauta
- Being 100% Present — Corey Allan
- To Be a Winner, Learn From ‘Losers’ — Anna Blackaby-Warwick
- Morning TV’s Stepsister Feels the Ratings Heat — Mike Hale
- Why The Deepest Lessons Take Time To Absorb — John Caddell
- Why Women Still Can’t Have It All — Anne-Marie Slaughter
- Microsoft Surface Could Be the Last Straw for Android Tablets — Russell Holly
- 10 Reminders Worth Reviewing Daily — Marc & Angel Hack Life
- A Summer Reading List for Innovators — Dominic Basulto
Given my recent exit from social media, I’ve been reading a number of pieces about the subject. If you know of a good piece on exiting social media, or examining the explosion of social media use in our daily lives, please share a link in the comments.
- Saying No to Social Networking (Transcript): Is It Possible to Opt Out Without Being Labeled a Weirdo? — Farhad Manjoo and Emily Yoffe
- How 30 days Without Social Media Changed My Life — Steve Corona
- “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY? — Alice Marwick
- Social Media: You Can Log Off But You Can’t Opt Out — PJ Rey
One Minute Vacation — Kevin2Kelly
Behind the Scenes at a McDonald’s Photo Shoot — McDonald’s Canada
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us — Dan Pink / RSA
2012 Stanford University Commencement — Cory Booker
Body and Soul — Dexter Gordon
What is the most interesting thing that you read, saw, or watched recently? Please share a link, or links, in the comments.
I love diggin’ in the crates as much as anyone to find some nice music. Music Monday (#musicmonday) is really a social media creation. Since I am no longer on social media, it doesn’t really make sense for me to continue. If nothing else, doing away with Music Monday frees me up to post music on Monday, or any other day, for no other reason than I love music. With that said, and since you’re here, allow me to share a non-Music Monday groove by Vicki Anderson and Bobby Byrd (a cover of a Bobby Womack classic) that I really like. Enjoy!
If you have been come to my blog before, you might be thinking “What the…?” I have made a couple of theme in the last few months, looking for something that reflects who I am, but also doesn’t get in the way of what I am really trying to do with the blog — write and share my interests. While working on Carla’s site makeover, I found a photography theme that I thought would be perfect. In the process of updating her site, I kinda fell in love with the theme and installed it on my site. For Carla’s site, the theme allows her to present rotating full-screen images, as well as implement rich-looking galleries. It’s clean. For me, the theme gave me the opportunity to share some of my photography on the main page, and display some fun background images on various pages.
The love affair with the overall look, for my site at least, began to fade when I started noticing some really buggy stuff going on with the theme’s code. The developer, though relatively responsive, was not terribly helpful. He seems prone to declaring that any issues people encounter with the theme is due to users manipulating the theme’s style sheet. I have some cursory knowledge of HTML and CSS coding, but I rarely touch the theme style sheets unless I am absolutely certain of what I’m doing. One of the things that posed a problem, on Carla’s and my site, was that the blog page wasn’t rendering the background image for the main blog area. The result was a transparency that made it virtually impossible to see the text of the blog article(s). After begging for some help, the developer accessed the control panel to Carla’s site and fixed the code. I copied that code correction over to my site and things appeared to be working fine — with the blog slider background, that is.
There were other buggy CSS issues that I experienced with the DK theme. I noticed that the use of special characters or ALL CAPS in the blog title weren’t handled well, and the title would partially repeat and quotation marks appeared around the special characters or all caps. This problem mainly affected my “now THIS is friday music” series, but it was easy enough to work around. I just couldn’t use special characters or all caps in blog titles. The real problem was that the blog page background wasn’t sticking. In the DK theme, you can use a static background or chose a background gallery. I couldn’t figure how to change the static image that showed up behind individual blog pieces. Logic would suggest that it should be the static image from the blog page itself, but no! For whatever reason, the theme revered to the sites static image, why came with theme and I couldn’t figure out how to change. My work around was to create single image gallery that would show up behind single blog pieces. It was a pain in the ass to adjust those settings for every.single.blog piece, but I endured. In the last week, though, I started to noticed that the blog post settings would — on its own — revert back to the static image. Interestingly, the static image for blog pieces was a rotating gallery of every image in my media library. That was not good! I haven’t seen the same problem on the blog on Carla’s site, but she doesn’t post as much as I do so it’s hard to say that this problem is not universal. As much as I like the visual presentation of this them, the weird background image issue was the last straw. I had to change.
I have a number of themes saved my WordPress library, and I started to preview a number of them Wednesday evening. Maybe I was turned off by the experience with DK, but I shied away from similar photography themes. After previewing about five or six themes, I turned to WordPress’s own Twenty Eleven theme. In the past, I had skipped over the stock WordPress themes because they seemed so basic. However, WordPress recently released version 3.4 , and a number of the features in this update are quite compelling. I almost went with a writer’s theme called Erudite, but I came back to what you see here, the Twenty Eleven.
I think the main thing for me is to not worry, at least for for now, about style and put my focus on substance.
Over the past year, or so, I have come across a number of bloggers that I really enjoy. It occurred to me, while most of theme have visually interesting sites, I keep coming back for the content. Stylized sites might have be the worm, but the hook that snags me is interesting material. That’s where I want to take this blog. Content. Content. Content. I want to shake off the “Who gives a damn?!” and just write. Of course, I will still post music and bookmarks. Those things are part of who I am, or what I’m about. And that’s the key. I want this site to truly be a reflection of who I am; stuff I think about; and pondering life’s questions — big and small.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and subscribing to, my site.
I originally stated in my opt-out post that I was going to delete my social media profiles on July 1. The point for leaving my accounts active for a couple of weeks was to allow friends to capture my contact information. The more I thought about it, though, most of my friends have my contact info. I shot messages to a few people I wanted to make sure had my contact info. I figure everyone who don’t can find me online. I am not that hard to find.
With that out of the way, I got down to the business of closing accounts. I started yesterday with Last.fm, Spotify, Rdio, Google+ on my Google Apps email. Today, I followed through with the biggies.
Interestingly, when I did my social media sabbatical in 2010, only Facebook would allow you to deactivate, but not fully delete your account. Twitter has now jumped on board with the deactivation-before-deletion waiting period. My Facebook will officially be deleted in 14 days. Twitter makes you wait 30 days before your account is deleted. I understand why there’s a delay. Sometimes people make rash decisions, and the waiting period is a safety net. As for me…I just feel lighter having initiated the process.
As discussed in the opt-out post, I plan to keep my Google+ account active on my Gmail address. I have, however, going to take everyone out of my Circles except family members. I will no longer post anything publicly.
On a nerdy aside — It’s kind of cool to watch the animation when you delete a Circle. It drops down and rolls out of sight. Bye Bye.