Categories
Ideas

Breaking the cycle: Why I’m voting for a 3rd party candidate.

This is an old problem

Politics in America bend to the will of two parties: Democrats and Republicans. Why?

  1. Money. Big dollars bank roll these two parties. It takes a lot of money to keep your agenda in the news and part of the culture. Brain-washing is expensive. Which brings us to reason number two.
  2. Exposure. They are the loudest parties. They get the most press time and overall attention from major media companies.

Affiliation with, or much less voting for, a party that is neither blue nor red seems foolish. Everybody knows the president is going to come from one of the two big parties. If your values, principles, knowledge of history, or opinions about who would be best for the country bring you to the conclusion that your ideal candidate is not part of the two-party system, you must choose the lesser of two evils, right? It’s the only strategic move, right?

Wrong.

The way out = Principles + Money + Votes

If we continue to vote for the least evil candidate, there will never be other options. Someone must decide to open the door for a more diverse political landscape. The Federal Election Commission allows any party that receives at least 5% of the general election to gain access to federal monies specifically set aside for presidential campaigns. http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/fund.shtml

Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in 2008, only the Republican and Democratic parties are eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees may receive grants for the general election when they are nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for retroactive public funds if they receive 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

Some say the electoral college really chooses the presidential election winner so the popular vote doesn’t really matter. But the popular vote does matter. Even if it’s just a bit. Just enough to give a third-party the wedge they need to get into the public’s spotlight a little more.

If your principles line up more with a third-party, then don’t give up hope. Support the candidates you believe in. Vote for what you believe in.

How do you know which candidate lines up with your principles?

I use tools like  VoteSmart.org, ISideWith.comBrigade.com, and OnTheIssues.org to learn who actually makes decisions in favor of things I value. I use FiveThirtyEight.com to keep track of the polls in real time.

Find the candidate that aligns the most with your principles, opinions, morals, economic philosophy, or whatever you really believe would be best for our country. Vote for that person with a clear conscience. You’ve done your part.

The END of the WORRRRLD!

I know, I know, every election is literally the end of all humanity if the other candidate is elected. Remember in 2000 when the Earth exploded upon the election of Bush? Remember in 2008 when the Solar System vaporized when Obama was elected?

Nope.

But maybe this time it really is the end. Maybe if Dollary Clump, or Honald Trinton,  gets elected the galaxy will finally lose hold of itself and collapse deservedly into its own blackhole.

And of course, Aliens

Either way, the newly elected president will obviously walk directly into a meeting with the secret aliens to accept his marching orders. So… why not go down in history as voting for what matters to you!

[Updated for 2016]

Categories
Ideas

Google+ will improve your social media experience, even if you don’t use it.

Google+ a better social media user experience

The Question

My friend at Good Web Work asked the question,”To what problem is Google+ a solution?”. I started to write a comment on his post, but after the scroll bar popped up on the comment form realized this was blog post material .

I have no idea what I’m talking about

I haven’t used Google+ yet so take this opinion as one from an outsider looking in. I have watched videos, played with demos and read reviews. My first impression: The design looks nice; a clean minimalist interface with an ample use of white space. The overall impression I get is an easy to navigate, light and responsive website. Three cheers for Google for finally letting their designers do their jobs.

You gotta problem?

What problem does Google+ solve? Well, that depends on your definition of a problem. Did the world think Myspace was a big problem before Facebook came out. Probably not, since most users had not experienced anything better. After Myspace users got a taste of simplicity from Facebook’s early interface, the contrast was almost offensive. Now Google+ seems to be positioning themselves as the cleaner, friendlier interface of the social networks.

Competing for the best user experience

I can come up with a few problems Google+ at least attempts to solve. What about the problems of inferior user experience and lack of healthy competition?

The Problems Google+ May Help Solve:

  1. Inferior User Experience – Facebook is great, but there’s plenty of room for enhancements. Google+ Circles, Huddles, and Hangouts appear to be new take on common social media functionality. Circles are supposedly a big improvement on Facebook “Lists”.  Allowing you to group friends more easily and filter what you see and what others see gives more control to the user and hopefully improves the user’s experience. You also have the ability to “Follow”, in the Twitter sense, someone you aren’t “Friends” with, in the Facebook sense. The best of the both worlds perhaps.
  2. Lack of Healthy Competition – Facebook has exploded in the last several years with no one coming close to competing with them as a full social platform. Google can and will compete for users. This will cause Facebook to improve their service in response, only giving users more options and better social media experiences.

Everybody Wins

For most people the current Facebook interface is familiar, so they wouldn’t consider it a problem. The mere fact that Google is launching a very serious social media platform designed from the ground up with the user in mind will benefit all users of social media even if they aren’t using Google+. They are raising the bar and their competitors will have to jump higher.

Yes, according to Neil Postman‘s definition of a problem, a newer/better social network from Google may not solve any of the world’s biggest problems.

It may only help us communicate more efficiently.

What do you think?

Categories
Inspirations

Book Review: The Four Hour Work Week

Summary

Overall, my mental and emotional experience reading the The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris felt something like this:

I’m having a chat in a coffee shop with Tim, the author. He suddenly flips over the table, screams “Eighty Twentyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!”, punches me in the face, injects an adrenaline shot into my neck, and throws me into a Ferrari that flies off into space.

In other words, it was moving.

Context

I finished a this book sitting at the foot of my pregnant wife’s hospital bed listening to the sound of the IV machine pump fluids into her dehydrated veins while she got some well-deserved rest from the effects of Hyperemisis Gravidarum. Because of her condition, she wasn’t able to care for our 2-year old while I was at work. We moved in with her parents. Life was hard, but good. Hated to see her that way. As she fought to give life, I pushed even harder to work for a better life for our family. Tim’s book entered my life at the right time.

Take Aways

I had an idea of what the book was about from friends and reviews. My general impression was something about traveling, business and four hours. I was pleasantly surprised to find more depth than I expected. Yes, there were business tips and travel how-tos that were very helpful, but what stood out to me were Tim’s ideas about lifestyle design. Here is a brain dump of my lingering impressions of how the book affected me:

  • gave me hope
  • opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities in business
  • made me feel like I CAN do something different with my career if I choose to
  • revived dreams I’d almost completely let go of
  • gave me permission to pursue the life-STYLE that I think is best for me and my family instead of accepting what someone else expects of my time
  • informed me about how to start a product-based business
  • informed me about traveling smarter
  • explained the power and purpose of automation
  • helped me understand the reason big businesses outsource parts of their business to other countries
  • made me realize that I’m not alone when it comes to ideas and feelings I’ve had about a drastically different work and life style
  • inspired me to be more focused while working
  • made me question my current lifestyle
  • confirmed ideas I’ve had about restructuring my work life because the current 8-5 structure that keeps you away from family all day doesn’t seem natural (most people were in the “family business” a short few hundred years ago)
  • confirmed ideas about the benefits of fasting from media and information

Live Smarter

Although I don’t agree with all of Tim’s philosophical ideas, I appreciated his honest logical approach to everything, including spirituality. Whatever Tim’s spiritual beliefs are his book came into my life at the perfect time. It may even have been a God thing. I could see his book being extremely helpful to missionaries because of the international lifestyles they live.

I recommend it. Read it: Buy The 4-Hour Workweek here

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated

Categories
Adventures Ideas Inspirations

What’s the best computer for graphic design: Mac or PC?

WARNING: This post contains completely biased opinion from a Mac user.  You may experience entertainment and a desire to purchase Apple products. If symptoms persist for more than 30 days, save your money and call your local Apple dealer.
Mac vs PC ad guys

Nick Elam, sent me a controversial question that inspired this post:

What kind of computer do you suggest for graphic design? Mac? PC?
My laptop is too slow to handle my graphic design work lately so I’m looking for a new computer. Lots of people say “go with a Mac”, but I could build a PC with a faster processor and better video card for a lot less. What do you think?

I’ll answer Nick’s question with pure opinion. I don’t feel the need to regurgitate a balanced Mac/PC debate. That’s been done, and that’s what links are for:

Quick summary: I use Macs.

  1. As a graphic designer, the tools you use daily will influence your work on some level.
  2. Apple is able to “design” the entire user experience of their products since they build the hardware and software themselves.
  3. If your budget is an issue, find a refurbished or used Mac. They hold their value extremely well. I bought a 2006 iMac 24″ as a family computer in 2009. After we replaced the video card in 2010,  it functions perfectly, even with the latest Mac OSX installed. It’s definitely not as swift as my 2011 Macbook Pro, but it get’s the job done.

Let me start by saying buy a Mac

Apple Mackbook Pro 15 inch early 2011
My current laptop 2011-2013

And let me follow that up by saying buy a Mac now. I don’t care if you can mine silicon, weld transistors, and engineer the motherboard yourself. Using a Mac is better than using a Windows PC for graphic design, like using a pencil is better than a rock and chisel for drawing portraits.

I’ll explain.

Space defines action

I believe your environment influences your work. As a designer it makes sense to use things that are well designed. Interacting with a well designed product actually teaches you how to design better.

User experience trumps hardware specs

Apple Vs Microsoft Switchboard
Now that Intel Macs can run both Windows and Mac OSX there is no need for other hardware. If you are only interested in comparing hertz and bytes, then there isn’t much difference between a Mac and a Windows PC. However, by only comparing hardware specs you’re missing the bigger picture. As a graphic designer your computer is your business partner. You will spend hours everyday interacting with this machine. Designing your latest masterpiece, communicating with clients, sending out invoices, getting lost in a Twitter/Facebook hole; all of this happens on this one device. That’s why I believe the software on your box is a little more important than the metallic bits inside.

This is where Macs move way ahead of PCs. The Mac operating system is an intuitive streamlined environment. It simplifies basic interactions, and doesn’t get in the way productivity. This efficiency will pay big dividends in the daily grind of being a graphic designer.

Modern Macs can do it all

I use a Mac for all computing purposes, except for the occasional website debugging that I have to do for Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer isn’t made for Macs anymore. This means I must traverse into the nether regions of darkness to find a cheeto-encrusted Windows-based PC to test my website. Even testing Internet Explorer bugs. I simply open Parallels and can swipe between Mac & Windows easily.

The necks of PC fanatics are thick with veins by now. I haven’t given a lot of statistics, references and bar charts to prove my theories. But as I said before, I’m simply voicing the opinion that’s been formed in me after years of working with both Macs and Windows-based computers.

I choose mac. What do you use?

UPDATE! Windows 8 is a game changer and definitely put the Microsoft Windows' UI in a better place. Definitely check it out, use it, learn from it. But as of 2013, I'm still leaning Mac. After a few iterations on some of Microsoft's new concepts in Windows 8, I may be singing a different tune.
Categories
Ideas

How to beat Desktop Tower Defense

Desktop Tower Defense strategy
Desktop Tower Defense strategy

To the right you will see the layout and strategy I used to beat Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 on Medium.

Here is my method:
1. Cover the entrances with pellet towers.
2. Use gold to create rows of pellet towers just far enough apart to let the enemies through.
3. Upgrade the towers once the board is full towers starting with the center

Then watch them die! The key is to keep upgrading constantly.

Notice that the only weapon I used was the Pellet Tower. I did this because they are cheap and easy to upgrade. No, they don’t cause as much damage, but once upgraded to their highest level the pellet towers are all you need.

The crazy pattern I created with the towers was intended to keep the enemies on the screen as long as possible so they can get pummeled longer by my towers.

This may not be the best strategy but it worked for me. Try it out. Let me know how it goes.

Now… back to work!