Five Fun Facts You Never Knew About Technology

Five Fun Facts You Never Knew About Technology - www.alliepottswrites.com #humorIt all started Sunday. There I was, thoroughly engrossed in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, which I was streaming off my AppleTV.  Little did I know I would go through all the stages of grief before the night was done, but not for the reasons the show’s writers intended.

The scene opened with a woman, barely more than a girl, attempting to stay warm as snow fell all around. Winter had finally come.

The girl’s horse whinnied and pulled at its restraint. She looked up as the camera closed in. The angle shifted. The horse’s ear pivoted as it responded to a danger not yet evident on the screen. I readied myself for action as the camera returned to the girl’s face once more, her readiness to do battle all too clear. Then …

Then the scene froze and the infamous buffering wheel icon appeared on my screen.

[SHOCK & DENIAL] NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I wanted to chuck my beverage at the screen and scream, but I’m a responsible parent now and trying to set a good example (and electronics are expensive) so instead, I waited. And waited. And waited. But the icon refused to go the way it came.

Fun Fact Number 1: Unplugging the device won’t solve all problems

[PAIN] Figuring my router had yet again decided I needed more exercise in my life (it’s considerate like that), I balanced on the precarious edge of my children’s toy chest, stretching up to reset it. (The idea was to place it high enough where the kids couldn’t accidentally break it, but unfortunately, as my eldest at eight-years old is already almost my height, this requires placing it higher than I can reach on my own).

I returned to the television. The buffering icon stared back at me. I am sure if it could laugh maniacally at me, it would.

[ANGER] Fine. This could have been so easy, but you’ve made your choice. It’s time to do this the ‘hard’wired way.

I yanked the power cord from the streaming device as well. See how you like getting interrupted, punk.

Fun Fact Number 2: A ‘User-Friendly’ interface does not actually mean the technology is your friend

When the streaming device woke up from its thirty-second power nap I expected it to be well refreshed and ready to get back to work. But instead of seeing the usual easy to navigate screen of channels options I’ve grown to expect, only two options were presented to me – I could go to Settings or My Computer. Only that was a lie too as neither option took me anywhere. It was the technological equivalent of being given the silent treatment.

[BARGAINING] Dude, I know I just said some mean things, but thought we were buds! Can’t we move past this? I promise, just let me finish this one show and I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night. You can even have the rest of the week off if that’s what you want. All I want is just fifteen more minutes.

Fun Fact Number 3: In the age of the Internet of Things, devices are more connected than you think

[DEPRESSION] After working on troubleshooting the problem for more than more time than I’d like to admit, I decided to give up on the AppleTV for the night and watch from the Roku I have in another room instead. The TV and sound quality isn’t as good in there, but what other choice did I have?

While the device powered up, and the channel options showed, HBO refused to load. Now, this could be explained by a spike in users online, but I like to think that my AppleTV sent a light speed signal ahead of me to the Roku player, convincing it to take its side over mine. After all, they do share the same network. Blood might be thicker than water, but bytes can last forever.

Fun Fact Number 4: You’ll never understand how isolated you’ve become until you see the ugly truth play out on social media

In a last-ditch effort, I sent a tweet out, alerting the public to my plight, hoping to hear that I wasn’t the only one affected by technological misery. Instead, I saw Game of Thrones trending, and like the glutton for punishment I’d become, I foolishly clicked on it. As meme after meme scrolled down my screen, it was clear that there was still a virtual viewing party going on out in the cyber world. It was also clear, I was no longer invited.

I sobbed (okay I didn’t really, but I sure thought about it). [LONELINESS]

Fun Fact Number 5: One of the best technological advancements of all time remains the printing press (but even that still has its own problems)

I gave up and went to bed, taking a book to help put my troubled mind at ease. [THE UPWARD TURN] I could trust a book. [WORKING THROUGH] A printed page was reliable in a way a television show broadcast over the internet could never be. [ACCEPTANCE] Yes, I told myself, as the ending was partially spoiled already anyway, seeing those final minutes could wait until tomorrow.

Sure enough Monday night I was able to tune back in and see how the scene played out. It was just as good as I’d imagined. Satisfied with my successful television (sorry, it isn’t television, it’s HBO) screen time, I returned to my computer to print some unrelated pages I would need for the following day.

A message box appeared.

“Please replace ink cartridge.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Proving there is reliability in the age of technology, it’s just the type of reliability that’s governed by Murphy’s Law.

Calling on Beta Readers – Project Gene Assist Book Two

It was supposed to be a simple supply run

But after the world ends, nothing is ever simple.

While the last few days have gone out of their way to put me behind schedule, I am set to finish edits of book two in my speculative fiction series (Project Gene Assist), currently titled The Watch & Wand in the coming weeks.

Set fifteen years after the events of the first book, the future no longer looks quite so bright. Stephen Thomas knows this only too well. Had he been born a generation or two before, his talents for mechanics and programming would have virtually guaranteed him an easy, if not celebrated, life. Instead, he has been forced to endure a near pre-industrial existence with only his aging guardians for companionship.

The trouble with talent is it rarely allows itself to stay hidden…

A broken windmill, a tavern fire, and a chance encounter later, Stephen finds himself on a mission and on the run from groups such as The Watch, who blame the world’s troubles on all but the most basic technology – groups, who seek to control what remains of the rest of the population through intimidation and vigilante justice.

Interested in learning more?

If so, I am in need of a few more beta readers. As I’ve intended this book’s story to stand on its own, you don’t even have to have read book one, though why haven’t you?

What am I looking for in a beta reader:

  • You enjoy post-apocalyptic settings and/or quest style storylines
  • You enjoy earth based science fiction or urban fantasy as a genre
  • You don’t require main characters to be champions of virtue or expect villains to be pure evil
  • You must be able to read a ~80K word (estimated 320 pages) novel in approximately three to four weeks with little notice (targeting starting early-mid August)
  • You must be comfortable giving detailed feedback (preferably in the form of a commented word document). If you don’t like a character, or a scene doesn’t work, I need to know why (otherwise how can I fix them)
  • You do not need to be a grammar expert – while this is a huge help, I am more interested in gaining feedback related to story flow, character development, and gaping plot holes at this time than proofing issues, however if you are a grammar expert or one of those lovely people able to spot a typo from 100 paces, please let me know that too.
  • Bonus points if you are also an avid hiker, biologist, or structural engineer. While I did research before writing, I always appreciate hearing directly from experts.

If this sounds like you, please contact me at allie at alliepottswrites dot com, or better yet, sign up for my mailing list

 


Project Gene Assist Book One – The Fair & Foul

Juliane Faris is a brilliant programmer determined to change the world through scientific and technical advancement. Blinded by ambition, she will do whatever it takes to secure her legacy including agreeing to participate in an experimental procedure.

Her decision grants her unprecedented knowledge and cellular control over her body but threatens everything she holds dear including her sanity. When others undergo the same modifications it becomes apparent that not everyone can afford the price that this technology demands

Juliane has a supercomputer for a brain and she isn’t afraid to use it.

Perhaps she should be.

Read an excerpt at: https://alliepottswrites.com/books/excerpt-the-fair-foul

Read a review at: https://alliepottswrites.com/books/review-the-fair-and-foul

Purchase at: http://authl.it/B01678T7CU

 

A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones: A Rambling Review

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It is a rare book that makes me care about the characters before the end of the first act. A Thousand Rooms, by Helen Jones – this book, had me crying before I’d even read ten percent.

Repeatedly.

And not just a little. I had to put it down more than once in order to not alarm my family.

What begins as a tale about a woman dealing with her own post-existence, turns into a story about society’s different takes on the word Heaven, how we cope with loss, and the different forms love and acceptance takes along the way. While I may have cried in the beginning, there were reasons to laugh too.

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But what I found most intriguing about the story was the idea that a soul could be stuck waiting for a ride that doesn’t come like a child left to sit on the curb while they wait for their absent-minded parent to realize it was their day to pick them up from school. When the protagonist, a young woman named Katie, having piggy-backed her way with other recently deceased, finally reaches her heaven, I found myself more angry on her behalf at those who were expected to greet her on the other side than relieved she’d found her peace and as a result less able to accept the zen of the place even though the author, Helen Jones’ writing remained superb throughout. I realize now I expected a larger confrontation – even if it was in Heaven.

It probably didn’t help that it’s been a rough week at the office.

I returned from an extended holiday weekend to learn that there had been three deaths. One, a colleague’s ninety-five-year-old mother whose life could be celebrated and was for its fullness even though the loss still hurt. Another’s mother, a seventy-seven-year-old teacher, counselor, and fellow writer whose cancer, thought to be in remission, spread rather than retreat. And then, as there seems to be truth in the saying that these things tend to happen in threes, a member of my team, who at the age of thirty-one, was simply gone one morning for reasons that have not been determined and reasons I will not speculate on here.

We have journeyed across the globe, reached for the stars, explored the seas, and discovered particles within particles of matter. And yet, time or more specifically, the length of our time, a quantity that is so intimately and individually ours, remains one of the greatest unknowns. Per the first line A Thousand Rooms, “you don’t wake up expecting to die.” At least, most of us don’t.

Between this book and the past few days, I have been reminded yet again of the importance of surrounding yourself with the people and activities that bring you joy, the reason to value the experience over the thing, the call to be mindful, and why it is so very important to appreciate the everyday.

So if I am hugging my babies a little tighter right now, so be it. I am sure they’ll understand in the end. But to be clear, when my time comes – whoever, whatever, you are on the other side, I expect you to be there for me and waiting.

 

Why I don’t mind being compared to a piece of meat

The Hamburger: An American Tale - www.alliepottswrites.comI was working in Hong Kong when a client from the United States came to tour factories and visit the corporate office. After a day of meetings, we invited him out to dinner, which he accepted. My colleagues, being the polite hosts they were, asked him if he had a preference. He suggested TGI Fridays, a US-based casual dining restaurant featuring American dishes. I guess after the long flight and the day of tours, he wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous.

I didn’t necessarily blame him. While I do try to eat as the locals do when I travel and pride myself on being willing to try most foods (excepting those starting out as animals I view as pets), I’d been working there long enough for the novelty to have long since worn off. I decided to take advantage of the situation and ordered something I’d been craving.

Hong Kong and China had recently celebrated Handover day, also known as the day in which the British government turned control of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) to China. There had been parades in the streets. Some were pro-China while others called for greater independence and a truer democracy.

While we waited for our dinner orders to arrive, the client asked my colleagues how they viewed themselves. Did they consider themselves as Chinese or Hong Kongers / Hong Kongese? I got the feeling that this question might fall into that area deemed outside of polite conversation – like asking about a person’s salary or political leanings – but I will admit I was intrigued to hear their answers.

Most at the table answered that they viewed themselves as Hong Kongers, but chose not to elaborate. Our orders arrived – mine being a burger with a side of fries. Perhaps the client sensed their discomfort, but he couldn’t let the topic go. As the others focused on their food, he turned to me and asked, “How about you? What does it mean to you to be an American?”

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A bag of chicken feet – not what I am used to seeing in a hotel snack tray

I picked up my burger, allowing the juices to run down my fingers as squeezed the buns together – an act that you really don’t appreciate until you’ve been eating with chopsticks for weeks. The smell of its greasy goodness filled my nose as a drop of tomato sauce (it’s sooooo not ketchup elsewhere so let’s not even pretend it is what it’s not) slipped onto my plate below. “This,” was all I could say, enjoying the sensation of my teeth cutting through the soft bread and breaking through the crispness of the lettuce as I bit into its side. It would only have been more delicious had it been a slice of pizza.

I’m not sure my tablemates, even the other American, understood my point.

It was enough to move the conversation along to other, less hazardous topics, and gave me the opportunity to savor my dinner relatively uninterrupted. However, the point I was trying to make was this – America is a big juicy hamburger. It’s huge. It’s two to four times larger than any health professional worth his or her license would recommend you attempt to consume every day in a single sitting. In fact, some might recommend abstaining altogether, but that can be hard to do as a burger’s flavor tends to carry over into other dishes, especially where cooking utensils are shared, reminding you of what you could have ordered.

It’s full of fat and salt and can absolutely break your heart if you let it. And yet, when done properly, it can be the most delicious mix of protein, carbohydrates, and side of salad.

American symbols - www.alliepottswrites.com #fourthofJulySure, you might get a less than ideal burger experience from time to time. Meat cooked too much, or not enough, stale bread, the unexpected pickle, or vegetables left too long under the sun. You might be embarrassed to find an errant piece of green on or tooth later in the day, or frustrated by a lodged string of meat that simply won’t be chewed and go away. You may occasionally be made to feel like a glutton for eating the whole thing, but that’s the risk and price you pay when you stick with it versus picking something else from the available menu.

 And yet, I find myself ordering a burger again and again, especially after a period of travel, because a burger feels, quite simply, like home to me. It’s not just a meal. It’s memories of cookouts in the back yard and at family gatherings. It’s the choice we have to stay where we are or the opportunity to eat on the run. It’s the freedom to experiment with new combinations of flavors or make the best of what we are given. Whether you prefer to make it gourmet or with what you can buy with pocket change or use beef, bison, turkey or veggie, a burger is a variety of taste and experience. But above all, a burger can represent optimistic possibility.

I’ve eaten terrible burgers over the years, but I’ve savored some great ones too. I know a burger’s flavor is never certain, but I’ll keep risking the order anyway. Because I also know a bad burger’s taste lasts only so long and all it takes to make the next the best it can be is a bit of patience, a source of warmth, and a great mix of ingredients.

And that is a dish worth celebrating.Happy #fourthofjuly - www.alliepottswrites.com

 

 

Mary Poppins is a superhero and other words worth knowing

I’ve grown to associate the summer with the superhero thanks to the plethora of movies featuring masks, spandex, and last-second rescues. But not all stories of the summer involve vats of radioactive goo or other experiments gone awry.

This story started out years ago – almost nine to be exact.

I’d been promoted shortly before learning I was also expecting. Not to worry – while the timing might have been less than ideal, it was all going to my master plan. I was going to have it all and there wasn’t anyone out there who could stop me. Whahahahahah.

It turns out I was wrong. There was a person who could stop me. That person was me.

Just be you.... No one else can do it better... Not even Batman! #quote #quotes #comment #comments #moor #doctahlove #theloverevolution #raphaellove.com #lifechoices #muscle #win #tweegram #quoteoftheday #funny #life #instagood #love #photooftheday #igers

aka – What my youngest wants to be when he grows up. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

Thanks to a series of regrettable mistakes, my eldest son was less than a year old when I found myself in desperate need of a dependable care provider for the third time.

I saw an ad online for a stay at home mom located near my home, and though I liked the idea of a public daycare with their known holidays, trained professionals, and proven curriculum, the lack of balance in my bank account and paid time off, made it all too clear we no longer had the luxury of being picky.

I noticed all her references were from out of state. Desperate times…, I thought as I nervously dialed, but every single one told me the same thing. If she has an opening, hire her. You won’t regret it. Yeah, we’ll see.

The day of our scheduled interview, I brought Kiddo along as if his newborn senses could somehow detect dangers, bad auras, or other half-truths. We started with the story about her most recent move from Maryland and why they, as Iraqi immigrants, had chosen to move further south. Kiddo cooed, rolled, or did something cute and our conversation turned to the matter at hand while she cuddled him and gave him a toy – exactly, how would she care for my son?

The short answer was – like one of her own.

However, in the years since that initial hire, the longer answer also proved to be – much better than how I might have cared for him alone. I’ve since come to suspect that she was less than forthcoming about how she’d come to my town during that initial interview, but then again, if you were interviewing Mary Poppins, would you really trust a person who claimed to have arrived by umbrella? Especially in today’s modern climate? Of course not.

She taught my children responsibility as well as courtesy. When her sister visited from overseas, she gave them the opportunity to experience cultural sensitivity too. Then when my youngest was slow to start walking, she attended his physical therapy sessions with me so that she could ensure his weekly challenges were part of their daily routine. They were lessons I might have taught, but I know myself to say it wouldn’t have been with the same degree of unquestionable patience.

So I will forgive her for the omission regarding her method of transportation. While she might not be a superhuman (unless you are like me, and consider the ability to care for five children under the age of six for eight to nine hours a day without going mad, a superpower) she is still a super human to me.

My youngest son, LT, graduates from her care this week, an event prompting this post. I am overjoyed at the idea I might actually find an extra dollar or two in my savings at the end of each month, relieved at the thought of an extra minute or two at the end of my daily commute and proud of how my son has grown under her loving care. However, I can’t help feeling I’m losing a bit of my support system and a piece of my family, which has added a sadness sprinkled with an ounce of terror too.

I thought – there has to be a word to describe what I am feeling, but maybe it simply hasn’t been translated into English yet. So I looked it up.

found words like:

Plutchik-wheel.svg

Emotion Wheel – courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  • Hygge (Danish) – that trendy word for the feeling you get when you are cozy and sitting around a fire and everything is just the way it should be
  • Boketto (Japanese) – a word meaning that wistful feeling you get when you gaze out of a window and imagine the world on the other side and all its possibilities
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – the anxious/panicked feeling when you are expecting visitors anytime and can’t stop thinking there is something else you need to do to get ready while checking to see if they’ve arrived every sixty seconds. (I know this feeling too well).

and some which made it into the English language, but are not as well known like:

  • Vellichor – that wistful, nostalgic feeling some of us book lovers get when we go to a used bookstore or old library and imagine the story behind how a book came to be on the shelf.
  • Occhiolism – the feeling that comes from the awareness that your perspective is limited.
  • Sonder – the realization that each person you meet (and even those you haven’t) has a story of their own and life just as full of uncertainty, experiences, and mixed emotions as yours.

This chapter in our lives may be ending, mine, LT’s, and hers, but I know it is also a beginning for us all too. As LT readies for kindergarten and my needs change from daycare to day camps, I know that there is probably another family out there in need of help, hoping for a last-second rescue.

And to that family – I know the woman floating in via umbrella looks highly suspicious. I do. But if you find she has an availability, hire her. You won’t regret it. Believe me. Superheroes are real. This I know.

Friendship Toast - #Proverb #Quote - www.alliepottswrites.com