Tag Archives: social

Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4 Golden Title

As an introduction into the world of Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs), Personal 4 Golden is pretty great. The Persona series is actually a spin-off of the main Shin Megami Tensei series of games, with its official title being Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, but as far as Persona 4 Golden goes, it’s actually a remake of the original Persona 4 game that appeared on the PS2 many moons ago. Now it’s on the PS Vita with a few new bits added here and there, and that’s where this review/thing/whatever, comes in.

"Hero", or whatever you named him

“Hero”, or whatever you named him

History and background of the game aside, all you need to know is that P4G is one of those games you’d consider buying a PS Vita for, it’s that good. Using JRPGs to describe a sub-genre of games isn’t exactly fair, seeing as technically, there are lots of different kinds of RPGs to come out of Japan; Pokémon (obviously), Final Fantasy, and a million others besides. Which brings me to my next point…

This is the part where you discover your own Persona

This is the part where you discover your own Persona

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What happens if the social web as we know it isn’t actually all that social?

Stephen Marche, The Atlantic:

The idea that a Web site could deliver a more friendly, interconnected world is bogus. The depth of one’s social network outside Facebook is what determines the depth of one’s social network within Facebook, not the other way around. Using social media doesn’t create new social networks; it just transfers established networks from one platform to another. For the most part, Facebook doesn’t destroy friendships—but it doesn’t create them, either.

On the face of it, it seems crazy: social networking that isn’t social. But like it or not, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and your social network of choice are pretty much everywhere. But what does that mean for you? I mean, aren’t you the one that decides what to post, where? Aren’t you the one that decides how many friends you have, or how privy other people are to your innermost secrets, or at least the ones you choose to share with your fellow socialites? While at least some of that may be true, it doesn’t mean that social networking is all that social. Let me explain.

Almost half of the Australian population uses Facebook. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that Facebook is great! Fantastic, even. When Facebook first launched, I remember the stories of how it meant people could keep in touch with people they thought they had all but lost contact with. There was quite a bit of press about people getting in touch with their teachers from high school, or with long-lost relatives, cousins, friends who had moved to other countries. For most people, that was a great thing: it meant that people didn’t have to track down relatives by calling sixteen different individuals just for an email address, or having to go and do the legwork to get in touch with someone from high school. Anyone could just add their friend on Facebook, and that was that. Easy, right?

Thanks to this thing called the Internet, Facebook suddenly made the world a smaller place. Now it doesn’t matter what country your friends are in, or whether a few streets away, or a few thousand kilometers, because as long as they’re online, you can talk to them in real-time. It doesn’t matter how separated by geographical distance you are, because the internet is everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see your friends in person on a weekly or monthly basis, because the internet is always there.

To reiterate my original question: what happens if social media isn’t all it’s chalked up to be? What happens, instead of connecting people (hi Nokia!), the social web just serves as a reminder for how lonely we all are?

Granted, that’s a rather pessimistic way of looking at things. Perhaps, then, the above statement could be rephrased as such: as well as connecting people, what happens if the social web also serves as a reminder for how lonely we all are? I have friends that only post the most enthusiastic stuff. They’re seemingly always happy. They’re seemingly always content, and never upset, sad, or anything else.

One one hand, that’s great, you know? If they’re happy, I’m happy that they’re happy. But on the other, you have to wonder: if someone is posting about how much they love their significant other, or how great their life is, and I’m here reading their happiest-ever-status, doesn’t that mean my own life is a miserable mess by comparison?

Once again, Stephen Marche:

When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentally eloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all about to eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ market and then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop on a plane for a week of luxury dogsledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable. A lot of other people doing the same thing feel a little bit worse, too.

It’s this passive consumption that means the social web might not be all it’s chalked up to be, and it’s this passive consumption that means when you read about how great someone else’s life is, your own life will seem less so by comparison.

Real life isn’t like this. You don’t know what the person on the street is feeling. You don’t know what they’re thinking, or how their day is going. If you ask them, you’ll probably find out, but who wants to go around asking total strangers how they’re going, how they’re feeling?

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I ask myself if any of this social networking stuff is “worth it”. I wonder if keeping up-to-date with Facebook, or Twitter, is “worth it”. What do I gain? The question, once again, could perhaps be better rephrased as: do all these social networks make me feel more connected with people I care about, or less so?

I’d like to think that social media has made our lives better. In ways, it has: it means we can talk to our friends in a different time zone. Social media, the social web, whatever you want to call it, has meant that we can connect with Mac enthusiasts from all over the world. It means that we can connect with famous photographers, people we look up to, and yes, even our long-lost relatives or friends that we just lost touch with.

But there’s always the other side of social media, the side that everyone seems to ignore just because the advantages seem to outweigh the negatives. The side that says you shouldn’t use the social web to supplement your social activities, but instead use it to complement them. The side that says this “passive consumption” is bad for you.

If you’re wondering by now, you should probably read the entire article by Stephen Marche, but I’ll quote him again anyway because it serves as a nice summary. (The article, if you’re wondering, is about whether Facebook makes us lonely, but most of the topics I’ve covered here are one and the same.)

LONELINESS IS CERTAINLY not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves. Casting technology as some vague, impersonal spirit of history forcing our actions is a weak excuse. We make decisions about how we use our machines, not the other way around. Every time I shop at my local grocery store, I am faced with a choice. I can buy my groceries from a human being or from a machine. I always, without exception, choose the machine. It’s faster and more efficient, I tell myself, but the truth is that I prefer not having to wait with the other customers who are lined up alongside the conveyor belt: the hipster mom who disapproves of my high-carbon-footprint pineapple; the lady who tenses to the point of tears while she waits to see if the gods of the credit-card machine will accept or decline; the old man whose clumsy feebleness requires a patience that I don’t possess. Much better to bypass the whole circus and just ring up the groceries myself.

There’s some stuff in there that’s for another time, but for now, you’ll excuse me to post about how good — no, great! Fantastic, even! — my life is on all the social networks.

Bored

It’s something that has been mentioned a couple of times before by many people, but it’s still an important point, and in 2012, just as relevant as it has been before.

It’s boredom.

Or rather, the lack thereof.

When was the last time you were truly bored?

In this day and age, in the smartphone era, we’re always connected. People actually prefer to have their emails pushed instantaneously to their phone, rather than waiting a few minutes for that email to come in. We have this “streaming” technology on Twitter that means we’re not just taking a sip from the stream, but taking a water cannon in the face.

Technology means we have Kindles for reading, Nintendos for gaming, and iPhones for pretty much anything else. It’s crazy to think we live in a world where fast, free Wi-Fi is almost ubiquitous, and mobile networks more so again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It connects people in ways we never imagined, and means any number of friends and other humans are always just a short few taps away. And hey, it even does an admirable job of keeping people like yours truly awake in lectures.

Think about it: when was the last time you went without staring at some array of pixels for some amount of time? If you’re not looking at your computer, you’re looking at your phone. Or playing with your iPad. Using a digital camera. And so on, and so forth.

The question then becomes: where and when do we draw that line in the sand and say: “hey, I just need a moment to myself.” A little alone time, time away from Twitter, time away from Facebook, time to just sit, think, and contemplate the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Not even thinking about anything in particular. Just the chance to have a little down time every now and again. The chance to get offline.

I don’t drive, so as a result I do my fair share of public transport. I used to enjoy doing a little bit of writing on the bus, and I still do, but increasingly I’m finding that I just put my in-ears in, start playing some great music, and tune out. Tune out is the best way to describe it, because you don’t have to think about anything.

It’s very nice.

Because as much as I enjoy technology in every aspect you can imagine, I think it’s supremely important to get away from it all for a while. You can’t be always switched on, all the time; it gets tiring pretty quickly, and I dare say you’ll suffer from burn out sooner rather than later.

So stop reading your RSS feeds for a weekend. Stop feeling like you have to check Facebook religiously. Stop succumbing to the pleasures of the Internet and just disconnect.

Enjoy the serenity, while you still can.

Go out, be social, make friends.

At 23, my one-person Mac software company was very profitable. But I wasn’t very social at the time. If I could tell my 23-year-old self one thing, it would be: Go out, be social, make friends, and don’t worry so much about the money, because there will always be enough, and more won’t buy you happiness.

[…]

Was it worth it to give up a social life to devote all your time to work? I don’t think so, in hindsight. But was I really giving up a social life? Actually, the choice was more that working all the time was a lot easier than dealing with people and social situations. The rules are a lot clearer with computers and with business. When it comes to people, things get complicated quickly.

Do I wish I had tackled the difficult task of being social? Yes. I was using work as an excuse to avoid social situations. I’m good at making apps that people want to buy. I’m not so good around people.

via Felt Tip blog.

Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch.

There are so many different social networking accounts that just one person can have, but with all that space to communicate, is anything really being said?

If you’re really tricky, you can consolidate your Facebook and twitter into a twitter feed that only publishes excepts of posts from your Facebook person or Facebook page account. But then twitter is nothing more than an RSS feed, which you probably have anyway. If you set up your tumblr just right, you can also pump your posts to twitter, facebook, probably bebo and myspace too if they allowed you to do anything apart from post animated gifs and bad music samples.

Entrepreneurs keep coming up with different ways for people to communicate and express themselves, but in the jumble of it all, is anyone listening?

via glasnt – Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch. – Hundreds of channels, but not a thing to watch..

Enjoy the tunes, indeed.

@bdyling You are excellent, thanks. We did try to get the balance right. Enjoy the tunes 🙂Fri May 14 01:12:05 via TweetDeck

Enjoy the tunes, indeed.

I guess this particular story begins with Telstra. They ran a competition a little while ago for “social reviewers” of the HTC Desire, currently the flagship Android handset available in Australia. The HTC Desire boasts pretty impressive specs, and judging by the amount of tweets, Telstra seem to be pushing this one pretty hard, far harder than they ever promoted the iPhone (both models). Maybe they prefer Android to Apple’s “walled garden”, maybe it’s because they can load the device with as much BigPond-branded content as they desire (hurr, hurr, get it? Desire?), but whatever the reason, it’s certainly getting some attention.

As this is a pretty big deal for Telstra, having “social reviewers” means that it gets exposure, and all that yummy PR stuff which I won’t go into here. As a bonus, all the “social reviewers” get a free HTC Desire handset to hang onto, but they have to, as their namesake suggests, review the Desire.

Being fairly active on Twitter, and having a randomly-regularly updated blog, I thought I was in with a shot. Add to the fact that I resided in a semi-rural area (Tasmanians made up some 3% [or maybe 6%, I can’t remember] of the 2000+ entries they received Australia-wide), and I thought I had a real shot at this whole “reviewing a product via social media” thing.

Evidently, I was wrong.

Anyway, it turns out I didn’t get in. Boo. More on this in a second.

As a consolation prize for giving up 15 minutes of my time filling out the online application, I did, however, receive a $15 BigPond Music voucher for my personal info.

Tonight’s mission, should you choose to accept is, it to find $15 worth of music to download via BigPond Music. Wish me luck! =}Fri May 14 09:11:25 via Tweetie

Wanting to get my money’s worth, I set forth to purchase $15 worth of songs from BigPond Music. The songs that I chose meant I actually ended up having to pay about a dollar more, but I guess that was the idea all along.
Anyway, I ended up grabbing the following songs:

  • My First Kiss [feat Ke$ha] – 3OH!3
  • Airplanes [feat Hayley Williams] – B.o.B
  • Pyromania – Cascada
  • Not Myself Tonight – Christina Aguilera
  • Caught In The Crowd – Kate Miller-Heidke
  • Your Love Is My Drug – Ke$ha
  • Blah Blah Blah – Ke$ha
  • Burn It To The Ground – Nickelback
  • If We Ever Meet Again – Timbland
  • Drops Of Jupiter – Train
  • Mr Mysterious – Vanessa Amorosi

Say what you want about my music tastes (I wish I could say I set out to purchase the worst of the worst music currently available, but sadly not), but I chose this music based on the top 200 list on iTunes. I’d listen to the preview in iTunes, and then if I vaguely recognised the song (and didn’t already have it in my iTunes library) I’d add it to my BigPond Cart.

At this point, I have a couple thoughts to share. One, the BigPond music website isn’t the most user-friendly or accessible. It certainly has an alright search feature, but it places the songs where you have to scroll a considerable amount to find the song you’re after and add it to your cart. I didn’t even try using the previews as I knew it would have been in some horrible Flash implementation, but in the end too many clicks, too much scrolling, and a whole lot of wasted space made for a convoluted experience. Oh, and the shopping cart was in Flash too.

That being said, I wasn’t sure what quality or flavour of DRM the music downloaded from BigPond would come in – I had a hunch it was DRM free and of reasonable quality, but I didn’t know for sure. Upon completing my download I was pleasantly surprised that the files were completely DRM-free and of 256kbps or greater – the majority of my files are actually in 320kbps MP3. Nothing like iTunes’ own 256kbps “purchased AAC” that laces the file with your user ID so that they can track if you share a file simply by using some strings command, if my memory serves me correctly. I did have to re-download the artwork (which came pre-embedded in the files, but 128×128 is sooo 1998) and raise the volume of the tracks a bit, but apart from that I was pleasantly surprised.

Two more thoughts about the music itself and I’ll move on to talking about some social media things.

One, the price. Most of the tracks that I downloaded were $1.65, and others still were just 99c. Compare that to iTunes’ current extortionist price of $2.19 for the more popular songs and $1.69 for pretty much everything else, and you’ve got a real situation. I’m not saying i’ll give up the iTunes store anytime soon, just that I was previously unaware that decent alternatives exist. Ignorance on my part, but it is what it is.

Two, people these days listen to utter shit. Seriously. Going through each and every song in the top 200 list in iTunes, listening to the previews along the way made me lose all faith in humanity on more than one occasion. I mean, that beaver fellow? And some other so-called “rap artists” who couldn’t produce a decent track if their lives depended on it? Gimme a break. The kind of music on that list downright horrified me, pure and simple.

Finally, the social media part.

While I won’t deny being a little miffed at not winning (being able to experience a Desire* for a month or so would be an awesome introduction for the next-generation iPhone due to launch in about a month), I do have a couple of gripes about how the whole thing went down.

Now I can understand why Telstra wanted the most influential, the most socially “out there” people for their “social reviewers” program. It makes sense because they’d want as much coverage as possible if they’re going to be outlaying some amount of money north of $20,000 for this Desire social review program. I’m no expert on what the marketing industry is like, but I’d infer that a substantial sum like that is a pretty big deal, especially for a single handset in Australia’s largest telecommunications company’s arsenal. Someone up in Telstra’s upper echelons must really like that phone.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little too bitter than I really ought to be about the whole thing, but if Telstra wanted the best of the best social media people to review the thing, why couldn’t they have just hand-picked the people to begin with? Hey, look at so-and-so, they follow over 1000 people on twitter, they’re followed by quadruple that amount, and their recent tweets express a desire to check out the Desire (previous puns notwithstanding), let’s pick them! From there, those actually interested in the program could ave gone on to be shortlisted, and so on and so forth.

Instead, they invited everyone in Australia who was over the age of 18 and interested in FREE STUFF that had a decent social profile on the internet to enter their competition, setting up a whole lot of people to be disappointed. To be honest they probably weren’t expecting as many people to apply as they did, but the lesson here is to never underestimate the intensity of human greed. Or to follow more people and have a Daring Fireball level of activity on your blog before you apply to be a social media reviewer for Telstra.

But it doesn’t end there.

You see, the numbers of this social media review program went a little like this: 25 HTC Desires for the social reviewers valued at $779 each, with $100 of Telstra pre-paid credit tacked onto that for a total of just over $21,000. But that’s only what the official terms and conditions mention. What isn’t mentioned is the $15 BigPond Music credit (presumably) given to all the people that weren’t accepted into the program – all 1975+ of them (Telstra only states that they received over 2000 entries). It doesn’t take a genius to work out that they gave out over $30,000 in vouchers. Like Beau, I too think that they should have had more Desires available and less vouchers. Why Telstra, why?

Doing some serious stalking of the people actually involved with this whole shebang reveal two interesting things – I know a couple of people on the list by name (and reputation) only, and there’s even one person from Franklin, Tasmania – not too much further south than where I live.. FFS. No one from WA that immediately stood out, but I’m sure Telstra chose someone.

Also, looking over their social profiles reveals that most of them are now “Telstra-branded”, and by that I mean they all have a little disclaimer saying: “I have been given a HTC Desire handset by Telstra free of charge to review. Comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion”. Read into that what you will.

Final thoughts, and I’ll wrap it up – just before I posted this I came across an eye-opening article on Why I went back to the iPhone from the HTC Desire. It’s a brilliant read, and affirms my decision; I’ll take Apple’s walled garden any day, thanks! Maybe if they gave those same reviewers the next-generation iPhone to review… ? Would certainly make for some eye-opening comparisons – how much do ordinary consumers care about what resolution the screen is? Or what format it captures it’s video in? Or even how it handles different audio codecs? Or how the memory management on Android is anything but automatic? I mean, closing the Sense UI over an app? Seriously?

Signs I’m feel way, way too bitter about this: 1500 words, man. One thousand, five hundred. How’s that for in-depth, Telstra?

Oh, and by the way – comments, criticisms, and any inferences expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.

Isn’t that the norm on a blog anyway? 🙂

* not to mention the puns. Oh, the puns.

It’s (not) funny, because it’s true.

I think social insecurity applies to most of us at some level. However, we geeks have the advantage that it’s pretty much expected. We can talk about it and joke about it with geeks and non-geeks alike. We interpret things literally, boy geeks suck at talking to girls, girl geeks suck at talking to boys — you know how it goes.

[…]

Suddenly, consciously or not, Facebook is a game to me: to perform my best in the social world I want to optimise quality of posts against frequency of posts. How do I tell if a post is good quality? I see how many comments I get and how many Likes I get.

via The friends game – The Imaginary Part.

Get In Touch.

I feel silly writing a guide to sending me instant messages, but bear with me, I have reasons. If you’re going to PM me on Head-fi, MacTalk or any other forum I frequent, chatting with me via instant message (MSN, AIM, etc.) is more efficient. You can find my IM details in my forum profile.

via Instant-messaging me (IM’ing me) – Truth is Stranger than Fiction.

As part of my Dynamic Web Development study today, I revamped my contact page on this blog. (I am, of course, kidding. Call it procrastination, call it a distraction, call it anything you want – but it definitely wasn’t study.)

This continued (funny how these things snowball, isn’t it?) onto me introducing a new page – elsewhere. I am elsewhere on the internets, and this “Elsewhere” page is designed to let you know exactly where. It involved a good evening’s worth of hunting down my online profiles, identities, and what-have-you, but I think it was worth it. I’m pretty much contactable in every way possible now.

That being said, not EVERY single online profile. Off the top of my head, the Elesewhere list is missing my never-updated Tumblr, my Steam profile, my forum profiles (Mactalk, OCAU), my Youtube, Vimeo, as well as stuff that I haven’t touched in years (Ubuntu Forums, Gentoo forums).

What prompted this mass online-identity updating and linking was a post by one of the people I follow on Twitter who had a list of all her networks on her Posterous page. I thought it was an excellent idea, so inbetween episodes of Stargate Universe, I managed to get it done.

Maybe I’ll update my Elsewhere page to point to those eventually. And if I join even MORE social networks, I’ll add those to the list, too.

For now – catcha round on the interwebs.

This post part of Blogtober 2009. A post a day – and a page or two thrown in for good measure.

Facebook > MySpace? You’re a racist.

Abandon your MySpace account for Facebook? You might just be a racist.

[…]

Referring to MySpace as the “ghetto of the digital landscape,” Boyd indicated that MySpace users are more likely to be “brown or black” and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past. Boyd also said that teens who use Facebook are more likely to condescend their MySpace-favoring peers.

via MySpace now a “digital ghetto” | TransCosmic – the ongoing journey;.

WTF.

I am, however, somewhat inclined to agree with some of the arguments – Facebook can generally be seen as the “rich man’s MySpace”, the social network for those who put some sort of value into their personal networks. Facebook is generally considered to be a “better, more refined” version of MySpace, too.