End User License Override

Global EULAWhen you’re accepting End User License Agreements (EULAs), do you ever feel like you need to actually read the whole thing in case the licensing authority decides to claim rights to your body, soul, or intellectual property? [links to South Park episode – not suitable for children]

While I’m sure there’s merit to the posterior-covering inherent in these documents, they aren’t very usable to the audience who has to sign them. Who wants to spend 30 minutes reading through legal-speak just to be able to buy music online or play a game with their friends?

There has to be a better way so that I can click “Accept” without the nagging concern. As a student of the legal system as exemplified by The Simpsons, I think I have a cunning plan.

Global EULA:

  1. Conscientious use: I accept that most EULAs are full of legal gibberish that I don’t care about because I am a conscientious user and have no plans to hack the software/app/system and then sue the company I am licensing it from.
  2. Social Aspect: If there is a social component, I intend to be a conscientious user of the social aspects of the software/app/system and will not engage in behaviors that I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to a person I respect (examples but not limited to: a parent, teacher/professor, member of the law enforcement community).
  3. “Satan Clause”: I do not respect that EULAs can infringe upon my right to my soul, body, intellectual property, or other equally obvious property which I have legal claim to.
  4. Order of Precedence: I respect that this agreement takes precedence over any other EULA even if that EULA claims right of precedence.

If you wish to take advantage of this agreement, please use the comment field below to accept. If you have an amendment to add, I would be happy to consider it.

Gamers and the Social Media Curve

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
William Gibson

Scourge of KaranasTo some degree, the social media revolution was intuitive for me because I had already been through it. An entire sector of the populace had, they just didn’t necessarily make the connection.

What hit mainstream Earth in the late aughts was merely a wave of innovation that had already ravaged Norrath, Azeroth, and the like. Those of us who had spent years hunched over a keyboard chatting with friends from across the world had already developed impressive skills with existing technologies to facilitate better communication in a virtual world.

In MMOs, communications are separated into channels. There are local channels, zone channels, help channels, team channels, and guild level channels. Before Google+ created circles, Everquest and other MMOs were already offering this segmentation to their subscribers.

When I first heard about Twitter, I was instantly reminded of the inanity that was the zone-wide channels where people would incessantly hock their wares, troll for drama, or ask questions in the hopes of finding a mentor. I tended to hide that channel if I could because the chatter was usually worthless and a distraction from what I was usually trying to accomplish on the team or guild level channels where there were people I knew and cared about (sort of like Facebook, only without the pictures and Zynga games). But occasionally, I wouldn’t have an expert available within my core of friends and I would have to wade into those channels to find information.

Outside of the game we would cluster around bulletin boards/forums for the information we needed to achieve our in-game goals. People provided their own take on how to accomplish something, often trying to be the first to discover a new strategy and earn some credibility (my claim to fame: Ring Around the Rosie kiting). Those who posted the most often and with the most insight developed a following not unlike the Klout elite of today – we just never had a score for it.

When you are looking for a solution to a modern problem with social media, consider broadening the scope of your search to Norrath or Azeroth for a solution.

Discovering My Grandfather

“A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.”
Ranier Maria Rilke

My grandfather served as a radar operator in WWIIIn most things I am a firm believer in Rilke’s sentiment. Everyone has a bad day and we need to look past that. But some times, we add up all of our experiences with a person and they don’t give us a true picture of who the person really is because we’ve been looking at them through our own perspective for too long and don’t know the whole story or didn’t ask the right questions.

My maternal grandfather was such an enigma. My childhood memories of him were of a grand stoic – a juxtaposition to my grandmother’s warm smile and generous demeanor. I was a mischievous, accident prone child and felt like I was never going to live up to the standard he set. When my brothers and I were playing at the new bank and had locked the toilet stall from the inside, I knew from my father’s tone when I was sent to unlock it the next day that my grandfather was sternly displeased. When my first car leaked oil on his driveway, I was informed that I was expected to park on the street when I came to visit.

The truth was that in my early years I never “got” him – I never understood who he was because I had a hard time understanding his lack of emotional expressiveness. It wasn’t until after my grandmother’s stroke that I got the fuller picture. I was walking down the hall with him pushing her in the wheelchair and I offered to take over, but he was insistent. At first I assumed he wasn’t trusting me to do it correctly, but the ordeal was wearing on him and for the first time I could see the pain in his eyes. I knew he was determined to be up to the task because he loved her so deeply. Our relationship would never be the same after that moment because I finally understood who he really was under those layers.

In the years that followed I would find out how after he had received his Harvard MBA he had taken a job in Minneapolis with the treasury department. Shortly thereafter the Great Depression hit and my great-grandfather called on him, asking him to return home to help save the family bank. It wasn’t an easy decision as my grandmother had a taste for the metropolitan life and Mabel was far from it. Then came WWII and he left his wife and daughters behind to be commissioned as a radar operator in the Pacific fleet. My mother shared some of the letters that they had sent back and forth and in them I saw more of the man with the pain in his eyes than the stoic patriarch of my youth.

I visited him every time I went through Rochester on the way back to Mankato and our relationship matured through his remaining years. I remember snippets like his comments about my eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral and my predilection to smother my food in pepper as my mother does. We also discussed the changing rules of modern grammar and his service in the Pacific.

On this day when we’re all supposed to think about what veterans have done for us, my mind always turns to him and the sacrifices he made for family and community. He will always be an inspiration.

Happy Newvember!

Happy NewvemberWhile other tech-savvy people are celebrating Nerd New Year, I’m dubbing 11/11/11 the start of “Newvember” and using it as an opportunity to kick off a new phase of personal development. So while others gear up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m going to focus on trying to accomplish some personal goals before 12/12/11.

1. More Books: I’ve already been poring through a high volume of articles on real estate and tech via Google Reader, but I’ve started checking out audio books at the library to augment this. Last week it was a Brian Tracy book – The Art of Closing the Sale. This week I am starting on Mojo in hopes of getting Newvember off to a good start. GOAL: 5 books/audiobooks

2. Fewer Pounds: When I started my new job in July, I got a new gym membership and for a month and a half I went 4 times per week, dropping ten pounds in the first 20 days (slightly under optimal BMI). Unfortunately, I hit a patch when I was waking up consistently around 1am and couldn’t get back to sleep until 5 and I lost my focus bringing me back to my starting weight. Today I will be picking up some track pants (realized this morning all I have are athletic shorts, and it’s too cold for those) and tomorrow I’m starting a new regimen. GOAL: -10 pounds

3. More Socialization: I tend to come home eat, surf the net, and zone out in front of Netflix/Hulu, so I’m planning to get out more often or have people over. If you’ve got a fun event coming up, don’t be surprised if I actually say “Yes” or “Maybe” on Facebook instead of “Awaiting Reply” or “Will Not Attend”. I may even start using Meetup.com or the like. GOAL: 5 additional socializations

4. More Blog Posts: I’ve been slacking the last couple of weeks. I have 5 blog entries started but I just can’t seem to finish them to my own satisfaction.  GOAL: 10 blog posts

5. More Housework: I’ve got some vacation coming up so I’m planning to tile my front entry area (the previous owners opted for carpet which looks dingy during the winter). I’m also planning on doing some painting in the front entry and getting the place ready for winter. GOAL: Complete entryway remodel and hall painting

These goals will of course cut seriously into my Hulu/Netflix time, but as I’ve finished all of the seasons of Friday Night Lights and as they haven’t posted new seasons of Dexter or Weeds, I think this is a highly doable plan of action.