The Beginning

I started this website over twelve years ago in September of 2007. Social media existed but not nearly in its current capacity and blogs, though dying, were still something to visit regularly. After this site served its brief purpose of being a personal profile for a job I was applying, it turned into a blog and evolved into what you see today. I put a lot of energy into making this a place that would be fun to bookmark and go back to. I could share some unusual links and oddities I found through the week. I felt that I could act as an aggregator of sorts.

Slowly I found that I did not want to maintain it any longer. I found doing all the dirty work under the hood was exhausting, boring, and I wasn’t getting paid for it. I folded and installed WordPress. It re-energized me and helped me put my best foot forward. I could write more, share more, and not do all the “nerd” stuff already do full time.

Our internet as a whole got bad. Then worse. Now this little corner of the web is hardly visited. Who bookmarks a site on their cell phones? If it isn’t served in “app” form, it’s hardly consumed at all.

To be fair, I was never looking for a broad audience. My specific audience were those related to me and close enough to be able to spell my last name (the original site had my full name, not “sandwich”).

That audience still exists and whether you agree with me or not, I’m glad that these words I type don’t just disappear into the void. The internet itself, though, has become just that. It is a void of vapid “content”, clicks, tricks, and crooks.

Even real people are more difficult to find. Now it’s about personas and influencer personalities. More kids want to be YouTube “vloggers” than astronauts according to a recent poll. Why work hard and learn math when you can turn yourself into a brand?

Back in the 90’s, when I was young and in high school, the (public) internet was a new thing. It was an awesome free exchange of ideas that could connect people cultures and worlds away. The first time I made a friend with someone who lived in Sweden and kept in touch with him regularly was mind blowing. Today, a relationship with someone you’ve never physically seen may be even more common than not. Things are instantaneous. The earth shrank.

I saw a presentation once a few years ago at a Microsoft conference and a man was talking about how AI works. Right now it feels like magic. There’s a famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke that says “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The presenter suggested that sufficiently advanced technology is not magic, it’s invisible. Part of our daily fabric.

Think about this. How often do you worry about the internal combustion in your car? Rarely? The fact that you can drive 80 miles per hour down a highway in nearly any weather, in perfect comfort, and not break a sweat? That technology, though comparatively primitive, is so advanced it has blurred into our daily lives.

Fresh water? Asprin? Even your cell phone getting little updates all day long from around the world? Not magic anymore. It’s just part of life. And the cell phone happened in your lifetime.

With this, we’ve turned this wonderful, open network of humans exchanging ideas into a cesspool of crime, hate, tracking, and advertising. Nothing is free. Nothing you see online is free – you pay with your information. In rare cases, like here, I pay out of my own pocket for you to see these words. There is a cost for servers, bandwidth, uptime, hard disk space, etc. That is not free. Every click or scroll through a “free” service is paid for dearly with your information. The problem is; you probably don’t know how much is being given up so it seems like a fair trade.

I started my “career” in IT officially in 2002 working as a figure-out-as-I-go computer nerd at a bicycle company. I loved it and it turned my 90’s hobby into a paying job. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I have been doing what I do for twenty years. On and off the clock, for hobby and for pay. I don’t regret those choices. A reputation is valuable and having not gone to college, it’s the only thing I really have in this industry.

Fast forward to 2019 and I now see the walls melt. I feel like I was originally walking through the fields of Los Angeles County in the 1920’s when it was orange groves and dirt roads. So much potential and possibilities. Perfect climate. Now 100 years has passed and, though massive in population and impressive in scale, it is covered in graffiti, crime, traffic, pollution, and more cement than a human brain can handle. It grew naturally. Too quickly, maybe. It was the Utopian idea of a new society that grew too large and is now controlled by a corrupt few.

The internet is gross. This is an opinion I share with the man who created the damn thing. Big changes need to be made but the comparatively small voices have little power against the juggernauts.

Running this site has always felt like a side hobby. When my daughters were born, I loved sharing details and pictures of them. Even five years ago I didn’t hesitate to share them here. I never wanted them on the big social sites but they scrape this data anyway whether you ask them to or not. It’s a real shame how generally bad they are.

But the fact remains; this site is visited by hundreds of times more scrapers and robots than people. They want to index my pictures, videos, text, links, whatever. Why? What value do my opinions have? I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone is still reading at this point. Who cares what some dad nerd living in the desert thinks about things?

I agree. This is going to be my last post. I pay real money for hosting and other software to keep this site safe. It isn’t very expensive but I don’t want to be a source of indexed content beyond my control. I will take the site down once the billing renewal cycle is complete in February 2020.

I will keep the domain and share videos and pictures with family in more direct ways. I’ll remain on LinkedIn as a professional point of contact. My YouTube channel will remain but will not have any video of myself, my kids, or anything of value – just some old video game videos that some people still watch.

I wish that the good web would have stuck around longer. This web 3.0 needs a serious overhaul but I doubt it will happen because it’s generating so much money. Maybe a smaller, segmented network is the next wave.

I will likely stay in this industry as a curmudgeonly fossil to which I already feel the push from the younger, more energetic generation. I will always fight the good fight. I will use these skills to be the best I can be. I know my value.

I look at this as a chapter in my life that I’m closing. Who knows, it may spring up in a different form in a few months with some new-found thing I want to share with the world. Or, hopefully, it’s one less stress point. One attack vector fewer.

Don’t forget to visit my mom’s blog at vilijaschlueter.com!

Thanks for being here for the journey. Do the right thing.

Salt The Land

I beat the toads. Waiting for global warming was taking too long so I had to take matters into my own exhausted and desperate hands.

Neighbors are complaining and I’m at the end of my rope. 85 decibel screams from 9PM to 4AM, four months a year. Imagine someone turns on a few vacuum cleaners in your back yard and lets them run all night long. Ear plugs helped but didn’t solve the issue. This had become a neighborhood issue and mine to solve.

We can swim at the community center not far away. We prefer that. Last night I decided that poisoning the water was the only way beside losing home value and filling the pool with dirt.

I dumped a very large dose of algaecide into the water and ten chlorine tabs. It hurts to put my hand in and it’s pretty cloudy. I don’t care because nothing else works. Last night I had a quiet night. I hate these toads.

I contacted pool people around the country via email and even a few herpetologists in the area. Everyone I heard back from gave no helpful advice.

It’s a massive waste of water but I don’t even care. I can’t leave it empty because pools of my type need the weight in them year round. Until the end of summer, I will keep my pool full of painful chemicals favoring sleep for myself and neighbors over playful pool time.

“Ribbit” frogs sound nice and the white noise of running water and nature is very pleasant. This was not that. But now I have reclaimed my land. This is a victory for my neighborhood and myself.

Another Month

The more time that passes, the less information I want to put on my website. All the little personal details, milestones, names, kids, etc., are details to be scraped and used to create a profile about an individual.

I’m not sure what to do about the blog at this point. Sharing with family is how it started. I wanted to share with the world but the amount of robots that come by and strip the data leaving little trace has gone from trivial to terrifying.

Social media is not the answer. Social media is never the answer. Removing photos of my kids and videos of them from YouTube helps keep them away from the predators. You know by now what is possible with “deep fake” technology. Nothing is real anymore. Your voice, your face, your being. Companies are getting scammed with fake voice calls – not by an impersonation, but a computer taking enough voice samples to pick up on ones speech patterns and sound, then calling up the IT or finance department and asking for bank credentials. Free software and then asking a question.

It’s so easy. The web used to be full of wonder and good intent and now it’s full of clickbait, ads, tracking, laundering, spying, and the worst scum hiding in all the cracks. It doesn’t take too long working in this industry to see so much of it. Ignorance is bliss.

Summer Solstice 2019

Today marks the Summer Solstice. At just about 9 AM my time, earth will be at that perfect place in space that helps give today more daylight than any other day of the year. I used to celebrate this when I was younger by trying to do the longest bike ride or run of the year. Of course, it was usually pretty hot mid-June and in California, forest fire season sometimes had already begun.

Today is Friday and though most of us work, we get a great opportunity to use this ample daylight tomorrow. Tomorrow will be Summer Solstice (observed) because the Gregorian calendar and the American work schedule don’t recognize anything remotely scientific or fun.

Happy long and hot day, everyone! Monsoon season is around the bend.

My Favorite Holiday

For me, it used to be all about Thanksgiving. I love the food and the low-stress model of “come eat some food and maybe nap”. No heavy expectations, no over-commercialization, no credit card debt afterward. Then I started to get a little older.

Halloween and Thanksgiving gave each other a good fight. Halloween is fun and it’s just days after my birthday. As I got older and moved away from home, the pressure from family (both immediate and extended) to visit them for Thanksgiving brought lots of stress. Saying “no” meant that they tried to push guilt. Saying yes would cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and being forced to travel during one of the worst times of the year. Halloween wins!

Once I had kids I watched Halloween become a thing for them. It wasn’t just twentysomethings holding parties to dress in things that would make a sailor blush and drink so hard you forget the whole thing. It was a cute, fun thing for the little kids to be excited for and let me chomp on some candy in the background.

Then, this year, that changed. Halloween is stress, Thanksgiving is tons of stress, but Father’s Day seems to have everything I want. It’s my sixth but it finally won me over.

Sure, it’s a commercial holiday and sure there’s more stress on others than me but the level of stress is still extremely low. Way better, it celebrates something that is really meaningful – my kids. The proudest and most important thing in my life are my two girls. Father’s Day is right at the beginning of summer so I am not dealing with cold. It’s also guaranteed to be on a weekend!

What do I want? Nothing. What should I get? Nothing! Maybe Erin makes a pie and I get some cute preschool craft from the girls. Without any of those things it’d still be a great time.

You can see Father’s Day as an empty holiday. Another excuse to sell cards and try to push electronic garbage. We know better. Happy Father’s Day everyone (including my pop).