Thursday, September 29, 2016

People taking a stance on issues they know nothing about

One of my pet peeves is when people express a strong opinion on something they are uninformed about. This can be anything from politics or a protest to celebrity and pop culture. With social media being so prevalent these days, people are quick to voice their opinion on anything they hear or read about. These comments can influence people and have consequences all around which is why it is important to know the facts and be well informed before making statements on controversial issues.

A recent example of this happened around one of my favorite comedians, Melissa Villasenor, who I have been following since her debut on America's Got Talent in 2011. For the past 5 years I have enjoyed her videos, stand up, podcasts, and social media so I was very excited and proud to hear she was named to the new cast of Saturday Night Live!

You would think it would be all good news, but almost immediately there was a backlash of people trying to bring her down. Individuals started digging into her history on social media looking for anything that could be portrayed as being remotely offensive. They then started promoting these comments trying to make the case that Melissa should be shamed and should not be given the opportunity to be on the show.

As someone who has followed Melissa closely for 5 years, she is one of the sweetest people in the business and is certainly not how these individuals are trying to make her out to be. She may have made a few comments in the past that were not the nicest, but if you dig into anyone's past, we have all said things at one time or another that we probably shouldn't have. This does not call for a reason to try to sabotage someone's career.

So why would these individuals do this? The main reason would be jealousy. Someone in a similar line of work may be jealous that she has been given this opportunity and they feel like they deserve it more or that she does not deserve it so they may look for reasons to try to discredit her character.

Whatever the reason, these false allegations got enough traction to get into news articles and social media. Then because she is now in the spotlight of being a new cast member on SNL, more people are discovering her for the first time. These people are not familiar with her work and maybe only saw a headline or watched a quick Youtube clip and are now making judgments.

I have seen people making comments like “she should not be given the opportunity to spread her message of hate” and “this is all it takes to be on SNL?”. These are the kind of comments that bug me because they are strong statements made by people who are incredibly uninformed about this issue. Melissa has no message of hate and she has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is at. She has earned her place on the show and I just hope all the negative comments don't get her down or have a negative effect on her career.

Overall this post focused on one example, but the overall message is to be careful what you say and make sure you are well informed and know all the facts before taking a strong stance on something or commenting on a controversial issue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Make Tiny Changes To Earth

Everyone has the ability to have a positive effect on the world around us. It can be a physical change such as cleaning up the environment or a mental change such as educating or spreading joy to others. Sometimes it can take some persistence and hard work but the end result will be worth it.

Years ago, I noticed a sign in my neighborhood was in need of repair. It was for a local bank and it was one of those signs where you can arrange the letters to spell out a message. The sign was missing letters, had letters moved around by the wind, and really needed some attention to get back to a presentable condition.

I started out by emailing the bank about this to let them know about it in case they were unaware of the issue. Time went by and nothing happened. I sent another email asking it it could be fixed because it was giving a bad impression in its current state. Still nothing happened.

I called up the bank and spoke with someone about it to see if the sign could be updated. They said they would pass along the request. Time went by and nothing happened. Then just recently I decided to go into the bank and ask to speak to someone in charge of maintenance. I was introduced to someone who seemed like one of the higher ups at the bank. I explained the issue to him and he was understanding and said he would take care of it.

A few days went by and nothing happened. At this point I was getting pretty discouraged, but then after about I week, I was driving by and what do you know, the sign was fixed! All the letters were arranged properly and it looked good as new! The persistence paid off and now the area looks much better with a sign that is in good condition.

This is just one example of putting in the effort to make a positive change. If you see something that needs to be done, take the initiative to make it happen. If the change is something you can do personally, do it. If the change requires more help, get in contact with people who are able to assist. One person alone can make tiny changes, but everyone together can make a huge change!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Side Effects – The Placebo Effect

It is known that many medications have side effects or results other than the intended effect. While usually specific side effects can be linked to the medicine there is a good chance a side effect experienced may not be related to the medicine at all.

This can be referred to as the Placebo Effect which basically means the medication did not cause a change, but in your mind, you think that it did so it seems like it did cause a change. This is something that can easily happen when taking a new medicine or supplement.

Recently I was doing some research and thought about trying out a supplement. I didn't get around to trying it yet, but throughout the day and following day I experienced what would be considered side effects such as headache and irritability. I thought to myself, if I had taken the supplement, I would have definitely blamed these effects on the supplement.

So in this case, these unrelated effects would have been blamed on the supplement incorrectly. This is something to keep in mind because it can happen when taking anything new from a medicine or supplement to even trying a new food.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Windows 10 Update Review - KB3176936

Recently Windows 10 did a big update on my computer which did not go very smoothly. I have the automatic updates on so it downloads by itself and then prompts to install the next time you are shutting down. Usually the updates are pretty quick, but this one took almost an hour.

At one point is went to a black screen and nothing was happening. It stayed like this for about 10 minutes. I thought it was frozen and I was going to have to do a force shut down, but finally it managed to come back again and finish the installation. They need to make sure there is progress showing on the screen or people may think something is broken and then shut it down in the middle of the update.

After it was completed, I noticed a lot of unwelcome changes were made. Lock screen and layout of some of the basic elements such as the Windows menu and task bar have been changed. Also for some reason, they seem to have reset a lot of changes that were put into place such as re-adding icons to the tray that were removed.

Even things such as default program settings were changed, for example it changed the music player use when opening an audio file. It also made some of my keyboard shortcuts not work anymore so I had to go back and manually fix them after the update.

Overall performance seems to be slower than before. I will give it some time because I know sometimes these things take a little time to break in after a new install, but so far I have not been too pleased with this recent update.

If Windows wants to update security features and bugs, that is fine, but they should not make big changes to people's computers like this especially without telling them ahead of time or explaining which changes have been made.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Software Piracy and Sales on Twitter

I recently discovered an issue on Twitter in regards to the unauthorized selling of pirated software. I discovered this while doing promotions for one of the software companies I support. While doing these promotions, I found a user on Twitter who was marketing cracked copies of some of the most popular programs to others at a fraction of the price via direct messages on Twitter.

This bothered me for 2 reasons. One, it was interfering with people like myself who are helping to promote legitimate sales of authentic software via the official companies, and two, it was just very morally wrong.

It is one thing to illegally download a software program for your own use, which is wrong to begin with, but then to turn around and try to profit off that by selling it to others is just taking it to another level of wrong.

I decided to try to do something about it. I contacted some of the companies whose software was being illegally sold on Twitter to let them know what was going on. Most of them have an online form or email to report these things. I got a few replies back thanking me for letting them know about it.

A few weeks went by and I noticed this user was still actively trying to sell pirated software on Twitter. I decided to contact Twitter about it directly. It was not very easy and they requested personal information which I was not really comfortable giving out, but I placed the report anyway.

A few days later they replied and basically said they reviewed it and it does not violate their policies. So basically what they are saying is they are ok with people using their platform to illegally sell unauthorized copies of software to others.

I was surprised that even after contacting the makers of these programs, nothing seems to be getting done to prevent this from continuing. It makes me think maybe software piracy is a much bigger issue elsewhere and these companies think it is not worth their time to try to stop one individual from stealing from them.

Overall I am disappointed in Twitter for not taking any action in this case and surprised that none of the companies have yet to make an effort to stop this from happening.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Collecting Marvel Cards in the 90s

As a kid in the 90's, one of my favorite activities was collecting Marvel trading cards. X-Men and Spider-Man were some of the most poplar and this was before they started making blockbuster movies for comic characters.

Every week or so, my friends and I would ask our parents to drive us to the comic book store to buy packs of cards. We would then trade cards with each other to try to collect all the cards and complete the sets. I was also interested in art at the time so it was fun to see all the artwork for each character.

Collecting full sets was not an easy task, especially at that age and at that time. There was no internet so you could not just buy whatever you needed online like it is today. You had to work hard and trade with your friends in order to get the complete sets.

I saved most of the cards hoping some day they might be worth something. Unfortunately, many cards were produced at that time so they are not very rare. Most sets can be found on eBay now for around $25-$30 which might even be less than they cost when they were first released. Based on this, I will probably hold on to them for now as the sentimental value is worth more.

Some of the sets I still have include:

Marvel Universe Series 1 1990
Marvel Universe Series 3 1992
Marvel Masterpieces 1992
Marvel Masterpieces 1994
Fleer Ultra Spiderman 1995
Marvel Fleer Ultra 1994
Marvel Fleer Ultra 1995
X-Men Series 2 1993

After doing a little research on the current market for Marvel cards, I found that they are still releasing new sets and in fact there is a new Marvel Masterpieces set for 2016. This caught my interest especially since the artwork is done by Joe Jusko who did the art for the original Marvel Masterpieces in 1992. Apparently the new set is more limited and more expensive at $150-$200 for a box. Given the cost, I do not plan on collecting but it is nice to see they are still releasing new sets.

Did you collect Marvel cards in the 90's? Which sets were your favorite?