Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Day Off

Today is the one day of the week that neither of us has to work. Last week, we never left the apartment. This week, we will be venturing out, but not very far from the cave. Right now, both of our jobs leave us pretty used up by the end of the week, so Saturday afternoon and Sunday usually finds us staring blank-eyed at whatever is in the Hulu queue.

Speaking of Hulu, I have to ask what the big deal is about Verizon FiOS? They make this big production about using Facebook on your TV, like that is somehow impossible without their product. We've been doing that for a year and a half. It's not hard and doesn't require any special equipment as long as your TV has an HDMI port. And if your TV doesn't have one of those, I seriously doubt FiOS will make running Facebook a pleasant experience. Is Verizon really that technologically out of touch? Am I missing something? Sure, if you're a true-blue TV junkie, I'm certain FiOS has some great features, but I can't see running Facebook on your TV being one that you build a Hulu ad campaign around.

Speaking of Facebook, I'm putting the whole social networking thing on a shelf for now. Sure, it's great to find people you graduated with from high school, but what I found is that having a conversation with someone requires having something in common, other than going to the same high school 28 years ago and then having lived completely separate lives since. Unless you really enjoy exchanging an endless series of sentences that begin, "Remember that time when...?" And is that really a conversation? Frankly, the internet is filled to the brim with far more interesting things. Besides, Facebook seems to be on a mission to make using their product as big a pain in the ass as possible. I was all ready to ditch the thing after one of their "upgrades" when they started updating me every time someone friended someone or joined something. FB Purity fixed that until Facebook made a pointless look-and-feel upgrade yesterday that broke FB Purity. I'm not weeding through 300 quiz results and what not just to find the two actual status updates. Maybe after tax season is over, maybe if the guy that maintains the FB Purity script has time to update it, maybe if I really have a lot of spare time, maybe. In the meantime, you have my e-mail, and if you don't, there's likely a reason for that.

I've closed the Twitter tab as well. I found that to be even less useful than Facebook, rarely read it and even more rarely posted anything. I find a couple people mildly amusing, but mostly it's nothing but a series of long-running inside jokes that I'm not in on, and anyway are not that funny when I do put out the effort to research it. If I want to feel awkward and left-out, I can go hang at a Super Bowl party. At least then I can score some food and alcohol.

So bottom line: I should have a lot more time to write long blog posts that will be read by very few people now that I won't be posting links on Facebook. Sweet.

The last week has seen my job go from mildly entertaining to be the soul-sucking experience of watching yet-another company circle the drain. The owner is ruthlessly cutting the hours of operation as well as people (without actually telling employees ahead of time; it seems to be my job to make excuses after the fact). The result is more unpaid hours of work for me. It's not gotten to the point where I need to bitch about it, but it's getting close. The owner is one of those people who think the word "salary" is some sort of Potter-esque magic spell that makes minimum wage laws disappear. I've tried to explain it to him, but he seems to be willfully ignorant of the whole thing. Just like he was willfully ignorant of Vermont's higher-than-federal minimum wage until I did the 10 seconds of research and showed it to him. I try to be generous and assume unintended oversight, but is anyone really that clueless?

Anyway, the good part of this job is that I've rediscovered what I really like to do, and that is taxes. Yep. I actually enjoy doing the basic function of my job. There are parts I don't enjoy, and even find morally repugnant; mostly having to do with the so-called "bank products" which exploit dumb, poor people by charging outrageous fees for something they can get for free. But the actual doing taxes part is fun for me. Yea, I know; no need to say it.

Over the last few days, there has been some serious gum-flapping between book publishers and Amazon over it's $10-for-everything e-book pricing. Not having a Kindle, I guess I don't pay much attention to the price of e-books. I'd say $10 is too high of a price for anything I'm likely to read. I wouldn't pay that much for a physical book, not alone an e-book that I can't sell or donate. So I have no real opinion of the whole kerfuffle, but it is a good indication of the earthquake currently shaking the entire publishing industry. Books, magazines, newspapers; all have to either reinvent their entire way of doing business or eventually die. The natural price point of anything digital ("print" media, music, video) is zero. However, music and movies have a huge advantage over print: theaters in the case of movies, and live performances in the case of music. There is no practical way for 99.99% of people to recreate a live performance or fit a cinema-sized screen in their living room. Even if a band never makes another cent off selling copies of their work, they can (and thousands do) make at least a modest living from live performances. And as much as my general anti-social nature cringes at the "theater experience," there are some movies that must be seen on the big screen. That doesn't mean that movies and music are not being seriously disrupted; technology is having a profound effect on both. But the case of digital books seems more serious. Does anyone seriously believe the average author can make a living from giving speeches while giving away their books for free? The interesting times continue.

Well, I need to get some things done before Debbie gets up and around for the day.

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