Thursday, December 27, 2012

Youtube UFO's (Unidentified Flashing Objects)

This is an important public service announcement to highlight something that I know has been troubling a lot of you. Yet you've been unable to voice your concerns because of the fleeting nature of the events in question.

Have no fear, I'm here to bring the subject out into the open.

I am speaking, of course, of those crazy-weird white ghostly artifacts which appear for a split second before Youtube videos start loading. These artifacts are usually just a white pixelated blob but after several weeks of seeing them I started to realize that they aren't just random white spots. They often have a distinctive shape. Once I saw an arrow, another time I saw ":30" appear. I searched the video page I was on, nowhere was there a ":30" that could have been misplaced somehow into this loading frame.

If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon I just spent about twenty minutes trying to capture a glimpse of this in the wild so I could bring back evidence.


This is a fairly recent phenomenon, starting just before Youtube switched to its latest layout. This leads me to believe that Youtube also updated the way they display videos to include secret messages encoded in the opening seconds. The objects seem to repeat themselves for a couple of videos before switching to a new object.

What could this message possibly be? I like to believe that much like Peter Molyneux's "Curiousity" game the answer can only be discovered by the collective effort of the users. We must pool our resources and solve this digital puzzle!

The flashes actually reminded me of the opening frames of 35mm films. An example of that can be found in the opening to this newsreel from 1948. Watch the opening countdown and tell me it doesn't look similar to some of the artifacts which appear in the Youtube videos. Then skip to 3:05 and watch the bit about the cyclotron, it's pretty awesome.

In reality I'm afraid that this is all simply caused by weird framebuffering and other video-card related nonsense that I don't understand.

What can we learn from all this?

I am easily distracted by flashing lights.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Keep Me Logged In - A Social Media Experiment

Today's post comes to you in the form of a vlog! It even has a fancypants opening screen! Watch the video, then read on! Fair warning, the vlog is twenty minutes in length, but it should move along fairly quickly. I cut out just about every pause and intake of breath.

Here is the post I put up to let people know what I would be doing. The response was minimal compared to many other things I've put up. Names and images have been partially obscured for privacy.

was overreacting to what my coworkers were doing to my Facebook page. Hardly anything was posted, just a few prods and pokes at me about how I couldn't log on. ex. 

There are still people who make a conscious choice to not use Facebook and other social media. And there are many people who make an unconscious choice to use social media. I for one make a conscious choice to use social media because I believe it to be a useful tool for maintaining relationships. It wasn't hard for me, but it can be a major problem for some people. Prior to starting this project I read up on some other's experiences. One of the most fascinating and troubling is called "This User Does Not Exist"

Giving up social media and cell phones isn't fun, but it isn't that hard.

UPDATE: A great example of why social media is so useful and wonderful is the Project For Awesome, happening now! A 48 hour social media binge devoted to raising money for charities. I'm glad my experiment didn't overlap with this because now I'm logged in constantly raising money!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The People Who Talk to the People in Poland

Since apparently my readers demand comedy. I shall oblige! My roommate isn't the only person in my college career to say and do things that are comical absurdities.

A couple of semesters ago I took an Intro to Psychology course as a required gen-ed class. It was....unique. I can think of no better person to teach a psychology course than someone who probably should see a psychiatrist themselves, or someone who has had intimate experience with someone who should (but more on that later). At least then students get first-hand experience with the subject matter. The high (or low, depending on your outlook) point of the class was when the teacher told us to "diagnose" the psychological problems she was about to exhibit. She exited the room and then returned a moment later, hunched over and shuffling, clutching a scarf. She mumbled incoherently, looked up, then started banging on people desks and spouting garbled sounds. "abloogablooga" is about the best I can do for what it sounded like. This went on for long enough that the class was starting to forget why she was doing it in the first place. Thus our response when she asked us to diagnose her was simply "You're crazy."

She rattled off a plethora of absurdities over the semester, several of which I scratched down in my notebook.

During a discussion of various personality disorders, she wrote down descriptions of each disorder on the board.

Schizoid: GO AWAY!

That was all she wrote for that one.

Jotted down in my notes I found this quote from her. "They install software in government authorities for free" -To be fair, this was just a slip of the tongue. She obviously meant for government authorities. Or maybe not, who knows?

She once wrote the words "beef critters" on the whiteboard. I don't remember why or what she was talking about. But this is what I put in my notes.
I don't know if she just forgot the word cow or if she refers to cows as beef critters on a regular basis. I rather like that method of naming things.......

mmmmm......bacon critters....

And then my favorite quote from her.
In case you can't read that, it says "The people who talk to the people in Poland --> essential for global food supply"

That's how she said it, when I copy notes like that, they are word-for-word. I like to imagine that Poland has some almost supernatural control over the global food supply and that they are stingy about it so there are special UN ambassadors that talk to the "people in Poland" in order to ensure that the world remains fed. What does that have to do with psychology? I have no idea.

I couldn't do this post without giving you some of Jack's antics. So Jack's latest and possibly greatest moment is below. Last week Jack came into the room, paused, then turned and stared down the hallway for a while, keeping the door open.

Me: "Looking for someone?"

Jack: "Just hold on man, shhhh." He put up a finger and stared ever more intently down the hallway.

Me: "Alright, sorry."

He closed the door after a while and then went over to his bed. I went back to whatever I was doing. Later that night he spoke up abruptly.

Jack: "I'm gonna tell you something, this is some trust yo."

Me: "Okay?"

Jack: "There's a picture in the room I rap in..."

Me: "The room you rap in?"

Jack: "Yeah man, down the hall. I've been rapping there for a while now. It's a picture with a phone booth, got ladies in bikinis with their bottoms out on a ledge."

Me: "Okay....."

Jack: "And last night man I was going through old Facebook photos of my ex-girlfriend. You know, checking her out, understanding the path she's taking. She's a psychologist now."

That's right ladies and gentlemen. Jack's ex-girlfriend became a psychologist. I think she has a bright future.

Jack: "And waaay down, hundreds of pages into her pictures, I find that SAME picture in the background man."

Me: "As the one down the hall?"

Jack: (excited now) "First of all....first of all I wonder if this is something that I've seen before. Then I remembered from the room. You know what I think?"

Me: "What?" (I really couldn't imagine.)

Jack: "I think...I think there's a prostitution ring going on."

Me: "Er? Why?"

(It gets really confusing here, I'm not sure if I got everything written down in order)

Jack: "The guys down the hall were talking about porn and stuff you know? And there've been a lot of girls going into that room. And lately, you know I've been seeing a lot of Vermont plates in the parking lots around here. When I drive in to park there's loads of them around Carlisle."

Me: "What? What do cars from Vermont have to do with a prostitution ring?"

Jack: "My ex man, she's from Vermont, I've seen her around lately, visting someone, but I think maybe that's why she had that picture in the background. She was in that room."

At this point I really didn't know what to say. I couldn't really follow his logic.

Me: "I guess stranger things have happened? But a lot of people just, you know, go to school here who happen to be from Vermont. And maybe it was, like, a calendar picture?"

Jack reiterated his belief that there was a prostitution ring and then turned his attention to other matters. Jack is awfully good at leaving me utterly speechless. I chalked it up to his weird paranoia and went back to work.

Today I walked into my hallway and came face to face with a crowd of about half a dozen men and women, and a Residential Assistant. They were crowded around a dorm room with the door ajar. I paused as everyone turned and looked at me for a moment before returning their attention to the room. I walked through the crowd and saw that there was a police officer inside. He was obviously berating the room's occupants. As I continued down the hall I gathered that it had been a party or gathering of some sort (the crowd had been the rest of the party) and something illegal had been happening. I assume it was alcohol or drugs....but who knows...

I didn't get a good look inside the room to see if it was the same room with the picture on the wall. Jack was non-specific as to the exact room he suspected of being a pimp-room. So anyway, that was weird.


"The whelp, the wench, whatever, it was something not complimentary with a "w".  -a professor

During a discussion on early marriage in other countries, two students had a brief back-and-forth.
"What about whats-her-face? That Egyptian girl who got married at 14?"
"You mean all Egyptian girls?"
"No, I mean whats-her-face in particular."

When discussing groups in my interpersonal communications class someone mentioned that not all groups have members that interact with each other, so they aren't "groups" in that sense. As an example he cited "geological groups." I know he meant "geographical" but for the rest of the class all I could think about were Igneous rock golems refusing to talk to Metamorphic rock golems. Racial rock discrimination!

Tomorrow I will be starting my sociology final. It involves vlogs! So yeah, more posts!