My anger at the death of Google Reader that is…
I joined Twitter during the fall of 2008 to stay on top of the elections. The political folks that I followed were sharing links to articles relevant to the election. Following those links to the designated blogs, I found that many of those blogs were ones that I’d like to read on an ongoing basis. The difficulty was keeping up with all of them. Bookmarking at the time was all I knew and doing that for every blog, then clicking through these everyday would preclude me from doing my job, the one I got paid for. The election and my involvement in it was as a volunteer but I still need to stay on top of news and polls and things. Somebody on Twitter, I’m not sure, who pointed me to RSS. I could subscribe via this RSS thing and get everything in a snippet. I could get snippets from all over the web and look at them in one place (an aggregator) that aggregator was Google Reader.
Now the web is blowing up with the news that Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st.
What the f#-%/+%+#;;&(;-1($/&(&*+$++%! I’m not happy about this news at all. For the following reasons:
All of that comes crashing to halt, momentarily anyway for me. I guess I’ll check out Lifehacker and see what they have to say about alternatives. I’d like to know what you have to say about the end of Google Reader. Let me know in the comments. As for Google, shame on you!
As an author of many a Twitter rant about AT&T, I want a pile a little bit more onto the rant heap, however this time it’s not directed squarely at AT&T.
Today was bill paying day. Having received notice that my data usage was at 65% of the monthly limit I decided to check the usage before paying the bill. A quick scan revealed that there was large chunks of data usage occurring at times when I was sleep. Of course I called ready to issue the standard cuss out. I got a young lady on the phone from technical support who starts asking. me do you sign out and kill tasks when you’re done. I told her truthfully sometimes yes, sometimes no which is as it has always been. To see this jump based on typical usage was suspect. Without swearing for once I made it clear that every time I call the suggestion is that there something I’m doing or not doing that is the cause. Then we checked a few settings which were five as is, and had a conversation.
She shared that her first bill after getting a smartphone was a whopper because of use of the data network and the unreliability of Wi-Fi in different locations. She along stated that she uses a task killer App and a data usage App to avoid overage problems. I took down the info, thanked her from the recommendations and ended the call on a pleasant note. Sure AT&T is involved as my service provider by my ream rant is against all the service providers, manufacturers and advertising agencies that have sold us the foolishness that is the smartphone.
When I think of a smartphone or a smart anything my belief is that this smart thing is an expert at what it does. In the case of the smartphone, my expectation is that it makes expert calls, texts and data. What I’ve found, even with my previous iPhone is that they all do plenty of stuff. Some tasks are completely expertly, some average and some poorly. Sure I can talk and text at the same time but every day a call drops. I can look things up on the internet bit sometimes its painfully slow. Texts don’t always come through and sometimes the phone shuts off without it being touched. Sure their are many factors that contribute to performance like the speed of or traffic on the network, concurrent processes running on the phone, the operating system and so on. The point is the phone is only as smart as the environment it operates in whether its the knowledge level of the user or all the outside factors delineated above. As a consumer I look at commercials and hear folks talk about all of the magic that is a smartphone and I want to experience it. These phones aren’t magic.
Providers, manufacturers and advertisers how about getting together and crafting sine disclaimer language? Something to the effect of “this phone is magic, but only inthese situations.” Doing so would temper expectations, ease nerves, and prevent folks from getting cussed out.
This post was written on a phone with a Wi-Fi connection and mobile data turned off.
I know a good ticket when I see one and this ticket was a deal. For $40 + all those ridiculous surcharges, on Friday night October 19, the old broad headed to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center for the Ladies of Jazz show featuring Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding.
Last time I went to the Center was four years ago. Having been open only a few months at the time, it was a sparkling facility and it’s just as sparkling now as it was then. The ushers were very friendly and helpful, the bathrooms and common areas were spotless. Upon being seated in the auditorium the crowd seemed to be fairly light. Which was unusual because for a Friday evening, there were no traffic snarls on the way to the venue. Little did I know that there would indeed be a full house. People were just late and not even fashionably late but rudely late. Many arriving halfway through the first artist’s set. Atlanta music patrons, please get it together. The artists deserve better than that.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Drummer, Terri Lyne Carrington and her band opened the show. Her set was short, too short for me which amount to about seven songs some of which were from her most recent release Mosaic. I’d only recently discovered her music after watching a YouTube video with footage from some of the Mosaic recording sessions and finally purchased Mosaic a few weeks ago. Carrington opened her set with “Triad” (from Mosaic) which is a burner. Her band consisted of guitar, acoustic bass, trumpet and saxophone. Moving quickly through her set, other standouts tunes included the third cut “Hopscotch” followed by a cut entitled “Sweden” which she said was inspired buy a recent tour date there. The finale which I cannot name opened with an outstanding drum solo, which from what I hard and saw, makes me really dig her playing, which is her efficiency. There’s no wasted energy, no theatrics, flying drumsticks, sweaty brow and such. Carrington takes command of her kit like a bawse! I’ve heard many a drum solo in my day and have watched drummers play as if they’re trying to kill their kit no such thing with Carrington. She commands while being understated and it works.
The saxophonist, who also played in Spalding’s band is special. Her name is Tia Fuller. She’s released a few albums as a leader and can flat-out blow. I also would have like to hear more from the bassist. The guitarist was efficient and the trumpeter seemed to be having some wardrobe malfunction with her shirt sleeves. I don’t know how she played as I was distracted by her shirt sleeve fidgeting
Upon hearing Carrington live and reading up on her I regret being late to the party. From this show, I’d say she’s a musician first and a performer second. There’s no doubt that more of Terri Lynne Carrington’s music will be added to my library and hopefully additional opportunities to hear her live.
Turns out that the auditorium was full for the second set when bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding hit the stage. I first heard Spalding via @Fave and his former podcast show Friday Favecast. She was all the hype at the time and won a best new artist Grammy in 2011. Though I’m not a music journalist, I am a bit of a music snob and when I hear hype or what I perceive as hype I steer clear. Fast forward to 2012 and he release of Spalding’s Radio Music Society. I “caved” copped it and loved it. She has a sweet vocal and in my ear I hear shades of two important vocalists, Michael Franks and Minnie Ripperton. Divergent, a bit, but to me she references them both in delivery and tone but let’s be clear it’s not just Spalding’s vocals that garner attention, she gets down on the bass, acoustic and electric.
I can honestly say that I’m now a believer. For me the true test is always how a musician comes across live and quite frankly she nailed it. She has the musical and performance chops and is really engaging. Her band was excellent and didn’t miss a beat. Spalding definitely has the chops and will hopefully be around a long time to bless us with her talent. I’d certainly see her again.
If you caught the Atlanta Ladies of Jazz show or have heard these artists live in your town. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to do so in the comments.
It Worked for Me is a leadership book born of Powell’s personal experience both in and outside the public sector. His leadership rules of the road, boiled down to “the 13 rules” which started as scribbles on bits of paper throughout Powell’s career and became the foundation of this book. Here’s a sample of the 13: #2 Get mad, then get over it; #7 You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.; and #10 Remain calm be kind. What’s beautiful about this book is that the 13 are given at the very beginning of the book, the remainder of the book is told as a series of stories that are examples of the 13 but aren’t enumerated as such. Thus the book is not a prescription so much as it is a loose set of guidelines for persons in leadership in any arena. Powell is at his best telling stories in lieu of being formulaic in his approach, which I feel is typical of books of this genre. What happened to me as I read the stories, I felt almost as though I were listening to him tell them instead of reading them. For example in regards to coming in new and taking over as the leader over a group of people Powell says: “start out trusting the people there unless you have real evidence not to. If you trust them they will trust you, and those bonds will strengthen over time.” I would nod my head in agreement.
What are some of these stories? One of my favorites was near the end of the book in which Powell talks about some Brazilian exchange students, participating in the State Department’s Youth Ambassador’s program. Meeting with these students before their departure home, they tell them about their visit to a Chicago restaurant in which they didn’t have enough money to cover their bill. The restaurant manager picked up the bill and thanked them for coming to the restaurant and wished them well during their stay in America. The students were overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them as was Powell. He ends the chapter by talking about how it was the people, not the congressmen and members of the cabinet these students met who were America’s best ambassadors.
What was the biggest takeaway from the book? That leadership in Powell’s view comes down to thirteen concepts, but at th end of the day, for him is about service to those above, below and around you. What Powell speaks of is what worked for him as a leader. I’m inclined to think that his approach would work for anyone in a position of leadership. If you’d like to learn more and get a fresh perspective on leadership, I highly recommend It Worked For Me.
It was through social media, i.e Twitter that I learned of the author. Twitter opened me up to his work on Jack and Jill Politics, The Onion, Netroots Nation and appearances on networks like MSNBC. He’s known for his comedic chops and is (in my opinion) a political activist technologist, who analyzes and then communicates, the political, the technological and the racial in a comedic and palpable way. Needless to say that I was pleased as punch regarding the release of How to Be Black, and even more pleased after reading it.
How to Be Black is a memoir/manual about Thurston’s black experience in America and and that of his selected panelists, including a white Canadian. The story is told as sort of a comedic instructional manual on blackness that left me laughing out loud as well as shaking my head in agreement with some of his examples. The “manual” portion of the book including how to be the black friend (maintaining your cultural connection and serving as intelligence for your home base, while educating white folks), the black employee (doing the job you were hired for, while making the company, diverse, non-racist and cool) and in this particular season, the next black president (with an extensive list of duties). These roles are all easily identifiable and their descriptions are both humorous and sad because they all delve in to the navigational issues encountered while being black in America.
Interspersed through the manual are not only Thurston’s experiences but those of his panel. Of particular interest to this reader was the question of when Thurston and each of the panelists realized they were black. In some instances, blackness or the knowledge of one’s blackness was based on the blackness they lived in and were surrounded by versus the blackness that was used divisively, as in the case of Cheryl Contee who described herself as beige (based on the proximity of her physical color to it) when a white nursery school mate informed her that she indeed was black. Contee was introduced early to “othering”.
I found How to Be Black not just entertaining but found it to be first: a model for educating in blackness which was best exemplified by Thurston’s mother’s multi-pronged approach to his education, one that would get him to Harvard (via Sidwell Friends school), and one that would constantly envelope him positively in his blackness (via the Ankobia program, and a collective of his mother’s black and brown friends and; secondly and most importantly that being black and experiencing blackness is not a singular thing. There’s not one way to be black and not one way to do it. Being black is being yourself and doing those things that are critical to your own experience, not something that is prescribed.
All my feeds are jumping with the news of Apple’s $1+ BILLION award in this Apple vs. Samsung fight. I wish I could say that I don’t care but quite frankly I’m a bit skittish about it. Do I have reason to be? I’m hoping that the real techies and geeks out there can ease my nerves by answering a couple of questions.
I hope that the answer to the last question is a definitive no. As I prefer my apple to be of the Golden Delicious variety.
About the G+ 365 project
As a matter of fact I know nothing about opera other than what I seen on TV and what my parents told me as a child. I can name who I know on one hand, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Kathleen Battle and Luciano Pavarotti. I’m not an opera hater, quite the contrary, I recall “fake opera singing” quite a bit as a child. I just never carried any enthusiasm for it into adulthood until now early one Sunday I watched with bleary eyes a community program on TV People to People which did a segment on a local opera production called LaRoche by Americolor Opera Alliance. The story was compelling, centered around Joseph Philippe Le Mercier LaRoche, the only black passenger on the Titanic. I called up my always game for something new girlfriend and we set out for LaRoche.
The performance was held at Atlanta Metropolitan College in a classroom. The set was minimal with the chamber (musicians) seated diagonally from the state. The stage was soon lit up upon the arrival of the performers, who in the first scene of Act I were in a Haitian marketplace.
From the opening of Act I to the finale in Act III I really enjoyed all that I heard. The cast members all sounded beautiful in chorus in each of the scenes that featured choral type vocals. There were of course some really standout performances as follows:
Reisha Lauren, soprano – Ni Ni, flower vendor in the market place. Lauren had a beautiful voice and great stage presence Her range could probably break glass. I tapped my girlfriend and said “that girl can SANG.”
Timothy Harper, tenor – President La Conte, Mr. Futrelle, Father Byles. There was no raised seating in the room and I was seated behind some fairly tall people. When I heard his voice, I had to stand up and see from whom that sound was coming. His voice was really moving.
Marlyssa Brooks-Alt, soprano – Juliette LaFargue LaRoche. The clarity and strength of her voice was the perfect vehicle to portray the heartache Juliette must have felt as she first separated from her father to go back to Haiti with her husband, and when she separated from Joseph who went down with the ship.
Wendel Stephens, bass – Joseph LaRoche. Stephens voice was surprisingly beautiful. Not because I had an expectation that he couldn’t sing, but surprising because his voice had “boom”. I guess I expect a big guy to sound like that, yet he was a really average sized guy who produced a really big vocal which was fitting as the lead of the production.
This wasn’t all opera as it had elements of a stage play, parts of which were absolutely hilarious. The farewell dinner with the back and forth between the LaRoche servants as they mocked Madame LaRoche (Joseph’s mother) was dead on and Madame LaRoche had the aristocratic demeanor down pat. There was also a funny scene (if you can imagine) as the Titanic was going down between two drunken card players, who continued to “drink to that” as though the fun they were having at that moment was all that mattered.
LaRoche was a perfect first timer’s Opera. The founder and director of Americolor Opera Alliance, Sharon J. Willis has done a masterful job at bringing opera to the masses in a palatable form, while telling a compelling story. That the company is primarily made up of persons of color made it all the more worthwhile for this first timer and has even piqued my interest to go hear more. What I’d like to see happen with the Alliance is growth and that growth can happen through sponsorship. As such if you’d like to know more about Americolor or become a sponsor, please visit their website.