If you can’t win, ever – don’t even play

spymaster_logoA few weeks back I was introduced to the game called Spymaster. Spymaster is a fantastically addictive game where you play a spy, and based on your Twitter following this will provide you with certain benefits. Within the game you can go on missions for money, you can buy items to increase your attack/defense levels, and my personal favorite part, you also have the ability to assassinate other Twitter users who are also playing the game. The user interface is pretty good, it can take as little as 30 seconds to play a turn, and it’s quite well thought out.

So here is the challenge. Along the way you gain experience points which in turn helps move you up the levels. At the time of writing this I am at level 20 out of a possible 40 levels – I’m half way there. Now, because there is no level 41 (currently – they may add more levels later), there are potentially hundreds or thousands of people at this level. Also, much of your strength in the game is determined by the number of Twitter followers that you have. So we now have a ceiling on how high you can go in the game, if you don’t build your Twitter followers you will always be the whipping boy of larger players, and really, once you make it to the top – it’s really really crowded with no clear winner. Basically, all the people who have reached level 40 are now just collecting money, buying stuff, and attacking each other. There is no victory – just wasted time. Sure, you could make the argument that the entire thing is a waste of time, and no doubt, some will. That’s fine.

Looking at life however, how many games do we play where there is no possibility of winning? I believe that Sun Tzu put it best when he wrote:

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

The true hardliners take the stance that if you haven’t already won, don’t even play. In life, it’s always a bit challenging to be that definitive, but the basic principle of  that if you don’t even stand a chance of winning – don’t play. But what about all the glorious learning through failure that could be had? Well, how much fun has it been so far? Sure, there are times where we fail, and we learn, but to actively go out and look for things to fail at? I agree, it doesn’t make much sense.

The fact is that if there is the possibility of winning, then you have the possibility of winning. That’s a good thing. You also have the possibility of losing, however, in this case you have the opportunity of learning so that you can win in the future. Also a good thing.

It came to the point in Spymaster where I suddenly realized that unless I wanted to game Twitter and dramatically increase my following in a very short time, for no other gain than the game, then there was no possibility of ever winning. Why was I even playing? We don’t need more things in our lives that we can’t win at. We need more things that we can win at and we need to take the time to recognize these.

If you can’t win, ever – don’t even play.

Meet the neighbours

Fishing Boats

A while back I discovered a great little tool that allows you to see all the sites hosted on a single server. Tully.ca is hosted on a shared server (in Texas?), which means that I get a chunk of hard drive space in a server along with a whole bunch of other sites, and we all share the same server. Think of it as an apartment building where your main address is the same, but you still have apartment numbers that let people find you specifically. This little tool lets you see who else is living in the building. Pretty neat, eh?

Ok, so who else is sharing on this server, right (I’ll pull some highlights)?

2.www.babyo.com.mx – um, it’s young, it’s music, there’s Britney in there… yeah..
3.www.datastatistik-indonesia.com – “Improving data for decentralized planning” – in Indonesia!
7.covertrationingblog.com – The Covert Rationing Blog: Healthcare Rationing in America
8.911scholars.org – Scholars for 9/11 Truth: Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths (possible crazy people warning!)
13.www.consciouscoffees.com – Conscious Coffees
18.www.taxidesigndemo.com – the Clear Channel Taxi Media site for all your taxi advertising needs!
21.campuganda.org – Camp Uganda, “an educational camp in wildlife conservation for underprivileged seventh grade Ugandan children and their teachers.” Cool!
29.ray-dale.com – A multimedia designer with some great work
32.www.syrtis.com – and I quote: “The hottest guys modeling bikinis, thongs, g-strings and nude” – you can’t always pick your neighbours
37.www.djpollo.com.mx – DJ Pollo who is actually pretty good! hrm…
42.www.canaandogrescue.com – “helping owners, breeders, and shelters pair Canaan Dogs in need of a new home with a forever home.”
44.eaca.org – The Evangelical Anglican Church In America – oh lord…. RRRRUUUUNNNNN!!
55.www.electricbikeworld.co.uk – Electric Bike World!
72.american-rails-forums.com – for the hardcore train lover in America.
73.spanispringsteen.com – a spanish Bruce Springsteen fan site! Crazy!
87.weaim2pleezknives.com – Gateway Knives – for all your knifey needs?
117.www.angelfishkisses.com – The World Angelfish Forum

… and that’s about it. Quite a few more religious sites, a bunch of dead forums, and a few photographer sites. Where this tool gets really interesting is when you start to use it on various company sites where they might be developing something new on a subdomain.

Oh right, the site – http://www.guerrilladns.com/ is where all the fun begins!

Enjoy.

Just take a stand.

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It isn’t every day you get to take a stand against something. Usually you can insist or persuade the viewpoints or actions of others, yet very rarely do you actually get to tell someone – full stop – that, no, this isn’t going to happen. So what the hell am I talking about, right?

Well, to kick off the new blogging challenges here on LE, I decided to update and overhaul the site template. It isn’t nearly as customized as the old one (props to Brian Gardener & Douglas Karr) yet, but with a few tweaks and modifications here and there it’s all rather refreshing. After spending a few hours hacking away (it’s what I do), everything for the most part is looking as it should and nothing is screwing up in most browsers – EXCEPT – Internet Explorer 6… and I don’t even care.

I do believe that enough is enough, and IE6 will not be supported by this blog. Period.

At work we support just about every browser imaginable and that unfortunately includes IE6. Across the sites, IE6 traffic accounts for 15%, and when you’re dealing with sites that have significant traffic, we are talking an insane number of unique visitors that are using this outdated software. Sure, the common argument is that “my company requires that I use IE6”, but when you think about it is just plain sad. You’re telling me that the business you work for is knowingly using outdated software that is buggy and full of security issues that have never been patched? Wow. The typical answer is, “yes, but some of the business stuff we use will only work on IE6” which is even more scarry. This means that even older/outdated software is holding companies hostage and forcing them to use a browser that is a security risk, thus opening them up to just about anything imaginable.

The amount of time spent trying to make sites IE6 compliant for a small percentage of users is incredible, and the fact that this MINORITY is still able to dictate to the web world that sites must be compliant to their outdated needs is truly insane. I looked at the current template here in IE6 once I was essentially finished, and wow, it is not pretty. So should I then spend at least another 2h tweaking and fixing something for a small number of users? Well the nice part of me says that I should try and give everyone the same experience when visiting, whereas the realistic part of me says that I should not support these people, yet provide alternatives.

To just stop supporting something is a bit of a jerk move, so what can be done to helpfully guide those users to the alternatives?

  • provide a notice when someone arrives using IE6 that their software is outdated, and that they should upgrade immediately. Provide the link to the most current version of IE, and also provide links to alternative browsers
  • promote alternative browsers that can be installed on the same system as IE6 which would allow the (business) user to use IE6 for certain business applications, and a real browser for 99.9% of everything else
  • promote the use of RSS feeds for sites. Still want to use IE6 but hate the look of the site? Great, subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can get immediate content without the need to visit the site!

Taking a stand always seems so harsh, yet it is a great way to put an end to something (or start something new), and the people it affects are forced to actually deal with it.

So, for this blog, sorry, we don’t support Internet Explorer 6 or earlier.

Fortune Cookie Friday

Someone is speaking well of you.

Yeah, I finally fired up the old WordPress back-end and figured I should post something this quarter… Seriously, I didn’t realize until the other day that the last post was way back in early January! Not entirely sure what the heck happened between now and then, however, we’re here now, so on with the show.

At first I really didn’t have much to say about this one other than ‘it’s about time!’, but quickly realized that all though potentially true, it really wasn’t the ideal tone to set when making a comeback… again… My more refined response to someone speaking well of me, was in two parts that kinda landed on top of one another:

  • who am I speaking well of?
  • who am I not speaking well of, and why?

What?! I’m not speaking well of someone? Reality check here people – we all don’t get along, we all don’t have to get along, and we all have different opions of each other that might escape our face from time to time. But who are we speaking well of right now? I guess ultimately, the ‘why’ part of the second question should be placed up with the first question to draw on the… more positive aspects of things… and it’s true, and it also fits with the second question too. Essentially, the fact that you are speaking well of someone is simply (in it’s simplicity – not it’s importance) an indicator of what we need more of in our lives. Sure it sounds kinda like a cliche, but, um, what’s the alternative?

Where it gets a bit tricky is when we look at who we’re not speaking well of – yeah, put the list away for a second – but more importantly, WHY we’re not speaking well of them. It generally has to do with a certain trait (or lack of one) that sets us down the path. Get us around some like-minded individuals who can all recognize this catastrophic ‘trait issue’, and we all natter along until someone feels too guilty about the situation and we all shut up. Yet the kicker to all of this is that if you are able to recognize a good trait in someone, it is because you also posses that trait – if you didn’t already posses it, you wouldn’t be able to recognize it… and you can see where this is going… But wait, how can I recognize the fact that they are lacking a certain trait? If they’re truly lacking it, that would mean that I’m lacking it, yet if I’m lacking it, I don’t posses it, and therefore I can’t recognize it – and your brain explodes.

Picking up the pieces, we now discover that we are in fact looking at the only mirror in the world that will never show you to your face, but will show you yourself, better than you could ever see in a regular mirror.

Someone speaking well of you? Fantastic – you deserve it. Have a list of people you’re not speaking well of? Do you know why? Great, change – you’ve got 5 minutes.

Be well, and speak well.

Other People Don’t Always Suck

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I work in a big office building. Not one of those massive downtown behemoth’s that have separate elevators for upper and lower floors, but given the area of the city it’s located in, my office building is a big blue glass monolith that you can (sadly) see for miles around. Seriously, I can walk to the end of my street, look left, and literally yell “Thar she ‘blows!” while pointing off in the distance at the big blue whale rising above the sea of trees. The special days are when you’re looking east towards the office, the sun is setting in the west, and you get this nice blinding reminder (literally) of what awaits you the next day… The point here is that it’s big. With big offices come hordes of people you don’t know, and cleaning staffs that scour that sucker for hours long after you leave for the day…

One of the big concerns in large offices where not everyone knows your name is simply, theft. For a while there, just after I had first started, laptops were being removed from people’s desks – during business hours! Constantly there were emails circulating throughout about how to secure your equipment, not to leave laptops laying around, and if you didn’t recognize anyone in the office to challenge their reason for existance. Did I get challenged? Yes, a couple times, however, after about a month of everyone interrogating everyone else in the office who was meant to be there, we all just gave up on vigilante security and went back to just locking our stuff to our desks (yay Kensington!).

So the daytime theft had decreased, yet at night the odd backpack left at a desk was rifled through, or prizes meant to be given away for contests suddenly evolved, grew legs, realized this was no place to hang around, and walked away. The next day most conversations would consist of how terrible that such a thing happened, yet each time ended with something like ‘well, it should have been locked up anyways’… Wait. No. It shouldn’t. Sure everyone comments about how sad it is that we have to lock our doors when we leave in the morning, how we need security systems for our cars (that don’t necessarily work), how our stuff on our desks needs to be locked away, etc. etc., yet WHY does it have to be like that?

Property theft is one of those things that I never really understood. At what point to you have the right to remove something from my possession, without my approval, and do with it what you will? Why is your selfishness and sense of entitlement greater than mine or anyone elses in the world? What makes you so special?

Now keeping all of this in mind, what do you think went through my head first when I discovered that I had left my watch sitting on my desk when I got home? Yeah, not pretty. See, depending on the shirt I’m wearing that day, if my watch band is exposed, it scratches on my keyboard rest, or just generally makes a lot of noise as I use my computer. So to combat this I simply take it off and place it on the supporting leg of my monitor until I’m finished for the day, or until I get up to go somewhere. There have been the odd time where I’ve gotten up to go get a cup of mocha (coffee + hot chocolate; can you possibly go wrong?!), forgotten the watch, and it’s still been there. Generally during the day (and given the location of my desk) I’m not overly concerned about my watch evolving and walking away. On this particular evening however, I was ill, tired and just wanted to go home. I packed up my stuff, made sure I had everything and headed downstairs to kidnap my wife from her cube (yeah, same company, same building – but different floors, and different brands). As per usual, something in the back of my brain was trying to tell me that I was forgetting something… Side note: Brain, it would be REALLY useful if you would just tell me what I’m forgetting, rather than just annoyingly hint at it for hours on end.

After being home for a while, I suddenly realized exactly what  i had forgotten at work. I quickly located another source of time, realized that even if I left now the cleaning staff would have already been through, and now had two simple choices: either go to the office now and possibly have the rest of my night ruined, or simply resign to the fact that there is a 50-50 chance that I’ll be disappointed in the morning. I chose the latter…

When chosing to be either surprised that there is still honest people in the world or that everyone sucks, it begins to mess with your brain a bit. There is the part of you that figures the minimum wage, non-english speaking cleaning staff just had a pretty good score tonight and that you’re a complete idiot for leaving something like that on your desk – but there is the other part of you that figures (especially when you realize that you’re being a jerk and that the previous line of thought is the entire reason why we keep our stuff locked down), no, generally people are honest and respect other people and their property. Our brain might even go as far as to justifying the disappearance of such an item in that perhaps this new immigrant who doesn’t speak the language, fled a war-torn country, is working this menial job just to put food on the table, and that perhaps if they’re able to get a few more dollars for my materialism, they could probably buy some warm winter clothing for their children…. or something along those lines.

If you truly let the brain run wild down certain lines, you can quickly find yourself out to hate everyone, or out to pity everyone including yourself… and this really doesn’t do anyone any good. On the other hand, it is important to remember that other people don’t always suck. Not everyone is out to rip you off by stealing your stuff. Not everyone has an over-inflated sense of entitlement, and not everyone deserves to be suspected of stealing something before anything has even happened, or before you even know whether or not you’re even at a loss. Sure, there are jerks on the public transit every morning and every night with the previously mentioned over-inflated sense of entitlement, but there are also the self-aware people who aren’t about to bang into you with their backpacks, or yell into their phones on a bad connection.

For the most part I beleive that honest and good people far outnumber the ignorant in our society – if you don’t think so, then you could be right, and if you are, then it’s your fault.