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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Twitter - Plain and Simple

Some have said that Twitter could be "the next Facebook." I say, it pretty much is, now. Twitter is all over the news, all kinds of big businesses and famous people are promoting their accounts, and in visits, it grew 131% in March, alone. But it seems like many of the people I talk to haven't checked it out, and it's mainly because they don't see the point.

Truth be told, I had to play with Twitter for a bit before I "got it." And normally, that's what it would take to understand it: time. So I decided to try lay it out for those to whom it doesn't make sense.


What Is Twitter?

140 character messages, called "updates" or "tweets." You write them, you receive them. That's Twitter. Your canvas is as clear as that explanation is simple.

Your home page is just a feed made up of these tweets, with a couple tabs for navigation. Note: you only receive tweets from profiles you choose to follow.

What sets Twitter apart from other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (other than simplicity) is it's one-sided relationships. When you find a Twitter profile of someone whose tweets you'd like to add to your home feed, click "Follow." The profile you've followed doesn't have to like, follow or even know you. That way, everyone's home feed can be tailor-fitted to their own tastes and their own needs.


What's it For?

This is best part: Twitter is for whatever you want it to be. Contrary to what you may have heard (or even seen), Twitter is not just made up of people talking about the mundane happenings of their life. Sure, there are plenty of people on Twitter that tweet about those things (and that's fine, because the people who follow them want to hear it), but Twitter is packed with all kinds of content! National and local news networks, your favorite websites and print magazine, actors, musicians, professionals in various fields - they're all on Twitter.

From CNN Breaking News
to NFL Football, from Lil' Wayne to Governor Schwarzenegger, from The Tyra Banks Show to GameTrailers, from Miley Cyrus to President Obama. You name it, they're on Twitter, or on their way. Twitter is breaking into the mainstream right now, and all the media figures and outlets who didn't think they needed a Twitter profile are realizing that they do.

And while the idea of using Twitter for news may sound crazy, at first, the fact is, when disasters and other big events take place, Twitter's searchable content, made by real people makes for a fast, one-of-a-kind source for all kinds of information. In fact, one of Twitter's claims to fame is that the first decent picture of the Hudson River plane crash made it's way around Twitter before the press could manage to snap one.


What Do I Tweet About?
Whatever you want! Share your thoughts and observations, share knowledge and expertise, promote your website or blog, share your music or artwork, share links and pictures, or just talk about your day. Y
ou can hide your tweets from strangers, if you'd like. Heck, you don't have to tweet at all, if you don't want to. It doesn't matter. I hate to say something as cliche as, "the possibilities are endless," but as for the possibilities, they don't end.

Twitter also makes for easy communication between users by means of "replies." Just place "@yourfriendsname" anywhere in your tweet and not only does it operate as a link for your follower, the indicated user will find your tweet in a special tab for just such messages.

Twitter's creators seem devoted to keeping the platform as simple as possible (according to them, they don't even make money), which would appeal to those frustrated with the changes other social networks have made in the past. But Twitter's "keep it simple" mindset has opened the door for all kinds of outside developers to make tools to enhance your Twitter experience.


Things I've Learned About Twitter

The Motivations for Using Twitter
In my experience, I've found that there are three basic types of Twitter users. There are those who feel like they have something to offer to the twitterverse or just like to know someone's listening. Others that care more about what they read on Twitter than what they write, using Twitter as a tool to find and receive information. And then there are those who use Twitter to communicate, socializing with new people, keeping up with their friends, and networking with professionals.


Who Gets Lots of Followers
Let's face it, regardless of the reason people use Twitter, most of them would like to have a lot of followers. In my experience, I've found that if you want a lot of followers, you have to be one of these three things:

Professionals
I use this term loosely, to describe anyone makes themselves valuable by providing content to their followers. They could be a successful businessperson doling out tips, a media outlet posting update, a comedian who tells jokes, or a political pundit relaying his or her observations. Maybe they're Perez Hilton.

Reciprocal Followers
This is someone who follows others hoping to be followed in return. On Twitter, following strangers is common and appreciated, and a lot of people will follow you back. If you keep at it, there's really no limit to the number of followers you can get.

Celebrities
Oprah Winfrey, Neil Gaiman, Diddy, Ryan Seacrest - anyone who has built up a following outside of Twitter. Celebrities are people who get the following of a professional without necessarily providing professional information. People find value in their tweets because of who they are. These people have the the best of both worlds: they get to speak to huge followings while still keeping a personalized home feed.


Misconceptions About Twitter

"It's like Facebook status"
It's no secret that Facebook's recent update to it's News Feed layout were an attempt to make it more like Twitter, but Twitter's rapid growth over the last month shows that people don't see them the same way. Generally speaking, people who relate Twitter to Facebook's status updates do so in a negative tone, because Facebook's Status updates usually aren't interesting. Do you really care when the guy from your class, three years ago, goes to the gym?

Twitter is structured for communication to people you want to hear and don't necessarily know. Remember, following is a one-way connection. So, if you must relate Twitter to Facebook status updates, think of it as status updates from any and all interesting people. And, like I said, only some people on Twitter are posting updates like, "is glad class is over." There's a welcoming place for that on Twitter, but it's also entirely avoidable.

"I'd have to use my phone"
Now, Twitter can be updated and viewed via texts, mobile web and mobile phone applications, and it often is. And as someone who makes 30% of his updates from his phone, I can't pretend like that's not an awesome way to do it. But it should also be noted that I'm an addict and need help.

Overall, Twitter is primarily accessed by computer, through Twitter.com and third-party applications like desktop clients and Firefox plugins. And, like other social networks, you only have to be as involved at you want. You can duck in and out of Twitter just like you can Facebook or MySpace.

"It's stalkerish"
Twitter is as safe as you make it. If you'd like, you can lock your tweets, so you get to approve each of your followers. And of course, you can simply refrain from posting anything private.


Did you think this post gave you a better idea of what Twitter is and what it's for? Do you think you're more likely to check it out?
If you use Twitter, did this post do a good job explaining the basics?

Leave a comment and let me know. And if you like it, share it!


Monday, April 27, 2009

I Ain't Answerin' That Phone!

I'm not talking about my phone! Don't be silly. I'm talking about the land line.

"Land line" refers to a phone that's not mobile. I know that sounds retarded, bare with me. They're connected to the wall and you have to use them in the building. These are not to be confused with the "man line," a neanderthalic communication method involving the passing of messages through relayed club strike patterns (also known as "ow-turn-ow").

In this house, it rings all day, every day. I don't answer it. It's never for me. Mom gets pretty upset about it, cause she's always out. But hey, I shouldn't even be in this house. The answering machine takes better messages than me, anyway (I don't remember crap, and I don't write).


This is what happens when I do answer the phone:

"Hello?"

"Hi [my dad's name], this is-"

"It's Chris."

"Oh... Hey Chris! Wow, you sound just like your father, did you know that?"

::rolleyes:: "Yeah, I guess I do..."

"Now, I thought you were in school?"

::facepalm:: "Yeah, I'm taking a break this semester..."

"Oh," ::disappointed tone:: "well, um, is your mom home?"

"Um, no." You think I'd be answering the phone if she was?!

"Well, can you take a message?"

"Yeah, sure. One sec."

"Okay."

::two steps to the left, two steps to the right:: "...Ready."

"I was callin' 'bout some bull$#!%. But you ain't gonna remember none of it, cuz you 'ont write $#!% if it ain't gettin' graded."

"...Okay. Got it."

"Well, alright. Thanks Chris."

"Yep."


I don't answer the door either. Nobody ever comes to see me! Chances are, they want to raise money for the fire department, sell Girl Scout cookies or share their religion.
Get outta here with that crap!
I don't wanna hear that!

I oughta rig the doorbell to electrocute people. Let's see those little girls step up to my door with a porch full of fricasseed Mormons!

Booyah!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Most Movies Suck! ...Yeah, I Said It

I've openly admitted "I have the movie tastes of a 13-year-old boy." It's true for movies and it's true for television, and I've often wondered why. Maybe I'm immature. Maybe I'm heartless. Maybe I'm the only sane person left on Earth and everyone else is amused by crap. One thing's for sure: There aren't many movies that entertain me. I've recently realized that if I stopped going to movies with friends for the sake of being with friends, I'd go to the theater two or three times a year.

My plan for 2009: "Star Trek," "Transformers 2." A few other movies look interesting, but not enough for me to make an effort to see them. And it's not that I don't care for movies, either. I'm a "talk about the movie for six months, see the midnight showing even if it means going alone, probably go back twice" type of guy. I'm just picky.

I've often said that if a movie's not exciting or funny, it's not entertaining. Well, I often think it, anyway. I understand that's not how most people see it, but I can't get behind most of the other stuff - it bores me out of my mind. But now, I've realized that even most of the movies that people people find funny and exciting make me wanna facebullet.

While I could be positive and write about movies that I love, I've decided to rant for a bit and talk about the movies I hate most. If you're going to sit me in front one of these movies, do me a favor - just kick me in the nuts and call it day. It'll be a lot less painful for me and it'll save time for both of us...

The "man runs with gun" movie
A police officer, secret agent, spy, mobster, soldier, or retired one of the above finds himself in a "web of deception" which leads to approximately 120 minutes of angry-face dialogue, foot chases, missed gunshots, fists slamming on tables, an exploding car, at least one police interrogation, and the hero finding out his wife/girlfriend is tied up somewhere.
These movies are easy to spot and avoid as they're invariably indicated by a man running with a gun in their trailers and commercials.

The "normal kids in an awkward situation" comedy
Typically "buddy movies," these films find a totally normal teenager and his or her friend(s) in an everyday situation such as boredom, a party, high school, being broke or just Friday, which leads to a not quite extraordinary adventure full of painfully awkward conversations, run-ins with goons, cops, gangsters or all of the above, chaos in a convenience store, and someone losing their virginity. Now, to be fair, the 80's and 90's were full of awesome movies like this (far too many to count), but as of late, it seems that someone sucked the funny out of all of them and pumped them full of "aw, that's cute."
Spare me.

The "triumph of the human spirit" movie
Yes, she's gonna die.

The "Academy Award-Winning Drama"
Often "man runs with gun" or "triumph of the human spirit" movies, these films find real people in a real-life, yet uncommon situation. The story revolves around some who plays a musical instrument, competes in a sport, goes to war, is poor, is gay, is retarded or has cancer. Someone watches the sun set. Someone dies. Someone has uber-dramatic sex. I slip into a catatonic state.

The "horse and sword" movie
Some genius decides to take life, strip away everything cool - ever - and make a movie about horses and swords. Happens all the time.
What to watch for in the trailer: Epic music, a man yelling the word "war," people riding around on pets and dueling with primitive weapons. If you're having trouble visualizing it, it looks like this:
It's no wonder they like to put magic in those movies...

The horror movie
I really don't have much to say here. If a horror movie isn't scary, it's just boring. If it is scary, then it's scary, and I just don't see how that's fun.


Of course, as with everything else in life, nothing is set in stone. There's always the "coolness" factor. Any movie of any genre can be "cool," and for that reason I'm sure I could find some movie I like from each of those categories. But as a general rule, these are the types movies I try to avoid.

What kinds of movies do you hate?


Friday, April 17, 2009

I Almost Bought a Pair of Shorts

Like many a dull day, I found myself browsing Old Navy. I saw some hoodies. Didn't dig 'em. Whatever.

I saw some cargo shorts for $20.

Now, I've been considering wearing shorts for some time, now. I've been trying since New Year's to broaden my hori-... that's so cliche... I've been trying to expand my wardrobe. So far, I've bought a pair of sandals and a jacket.

Baby steps.

See, I'm the kind of guy who could happily live in a cartoon. If I didn't have to worry about my clothes being clean, or people thinking they weren't, I'd totally wear my favorite shirt and pants every day. So, it's not surprising that I wear jeans and a t-shirt all the time.

Some time in middle school, I decided I liked jeans, and I've simply never felt like changing. If you know me, personally, there's a good chance you've never seen me in a pair of shorts. I'm in jeans, every single day. On special occasions, I bust out my single pair of khakis. I have some black dress pants, too. I bought them for a funeral, two years ago, and I doubt I'll wear them again until someone else dies.

Well today, for some unknown reason, in Old Navy, I grabbed two pair of cargo shorts and took them to the dressing room. I really can't explain it. I just did it. And I have to say, when I stood in front of that mirror, separated from the cozy denim security pants I had grown so comfortable in, I really liked what I saw...

Then I put the shorts on. They looked pretty good, but not good enough for me to buy them. We'll see what happens.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to the Future: Part IV

I had a dream last night, that I was writing a script for "Back To The Future: Part IV."

See, in my dream, Universal Studios was waiting on my script, cause it was gonna be awesome. I was confident that my script would be a huge success, but I took my time finishing it up. That is, until I received a phone call informing me that Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd, was writing his own script with intention of submitting it first.

That bastard wanted to steal my movie!

Confident that my movie would be better than his, I wrote feverishly to finish my script before that old coot finished his. Now, with a fire under my tail, I had the motivation I needed to focus and finish my script.

I woke before I finished my script, but it was still quite an exciting dream.


Here's the truth: I am writing a "Back to the Future: Part IV," for fun. I've actually had it planned out for quite some time, now. I've really kept it under wraps because too many times I've talked about a story I was writing, then left it unfinished. See, I have this never ending desire to create a masterful story. I start off wanting to write a story, then try to come up with one, then try to write. Eventually I realize I never cared about the story or it's characters in the first place and I trash the whole thing. It was easier when teachers made me do that stuff...

What makes this story different is that the concept hit me first. I immediately fell in love with the idea, but for the longest time I told myself that writing fan fiction was silly, that I'd be piggybacking on someone else's work and that no one would care to read it because it wasn't official. But the idea just wouldn't let me forget he was there. I couldn't let it go of it. I eventually realized that I needed this story to exist, for me, whether or not anyone else would like it, or even read it.

I've only got a little bit written in , but the timeline is entirely laid out. The plot, the characters, all kinds of details - it's all there, in about 5 pages of notes. I've got a couple tiny kinks to work out, but I think the concept behind it is, well, it's just fantastic. It's exciting, it's fun, and it takes "Back to the Future" into new territory without abandoning the past. Most importantly, it's firmly rooted in the existing story, as opposed to just tacking something random onto the end of it.

Don't think less of me for writing fan fiction. It's true, what they say: you have to care about something to create it. I love "Back to the Future." And the beautiful thing about writing is that if you want a story to exist (or in this case, continue), you can simply make it so...

If you have any questions you wanna ask about the story or what's in it, feel free to leave a comment. I'll try to answer them as best I can without giving away anything big.

Do stories have trailers? Psh, they do now. I'll totally be writing a trailer for this.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

If I Were Rich And Famous...

Just some thoughts of things I would do if I were rich and famous.
Let's see... I could...


Fund/support a sequel movie that probably wouldn't be made otherwise. Bill & Ted 3, The Last Dragon 2, a Sliders movie...

Write a book. Even if it sucked, people would buy it.

Weasel my way into the next Ninja Turtles movie. I wanna be a pizza delivery guy or something.

I'd have an office, even if it wasn't necessary, and I'd hire Pam Beasly as my receptionist. And I don't mean that I would break reality and hire a fictional television character, but that I would pay the actual actress, Jenna Fischer, enough to quit "The Office" and become my real-life receptionist. I'd hang out in my office all the time, listening to music and playing video games. My office would have a window with no blinds, so when I told Jenna I was to busy to see someone, that someone would be able to see into my office to know that Playstation is more important than they are.

Hang with Vanilla Ice. ...Heck, I could probably do that now...

Laugh all the way to the bank.

Hang out with Pauly Shore at The Comedy Store.

I'd fly all my friends out to party with me in LA. I'd take them out to the hottest club where I'd get into an intentional argument (and subsequent fistfight) with a famous, yet harmless rapper (like Soulja Boy or Bow Wow). Then I'd have my body guards rush all my friends out the back exit and drive them back to the hotel where they'd sit and wonder if I was okay.
I would return, hours later, bloodied and bruised, clothing tattered, and simply say, "I'm sorry you guys had to see that..."

Slap Timbaland for ruining Nelly Furtado. Plus, you know, he just seems like a douche bag...

Hire a cook so I can have a fridge full of drinks and condiments like the guys on MTV Cribs.

Buy absolutely everything from the merchandise stores of every band/musician I love.

Go to the "New Moon" premiere - and heckle it 'til I get thrown out (shouldn't take long).

Run for President. It'd take a ton of deception for someone as conservative as myself to win, but it'd be worth it so I could turn crap around.

Host a late night talk show where I talk frankly with the guests, telling them how much they suck as an actor or how lame their last album was. If the musical guest sucked, a "Showtime at the Apollo" siren would sound and a tap dancing clown would come out with a cane and drag them off-stage. Of course, celebrities would stop coming on the show and I would be reduced to ranting over a laugh track, and eventually to YouTube.

Wait 20 years, then start a sitcom. ALF crash lands at Jim and Pam Halpert's house and lives with their family. ALF and Jim? Imagine the dialogue!

Go on The Oprah Winfrey Show and wear this shirt:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Don't Do Much

I'm nearing the end of my one-semester hiatus. I'll be headed back to school in just weeks. And you know what? I'm kind of excited. I've loved my break and I did need it. But the truth is, I haven't done much. I've just been working, hanging out with friends and blogging way less than I should.

To be honest, I've spent many, many days in my pajamas. Don't get me wrong, those are some of my favorite days. I like going out and doing fun things as much as the next guy, but there's nothing in the world quite like waking up at noon and spending the day playing video games and watching Star Trek.

The thing is, when I think about my real accomplishments during this break, I start drawing blanks....

- I laid out the timeline of a new story (Maybe I'll write this one...)
- I picked up twitter (ain't that productive?)
- I, uh, bought a lot of CDs.
- I bought Rainbows.
- I had that country music thing.
- *ehem*
- I played a lot of Street Fighter.
- I read half a book.
- I can has cheezburger.

I suppose it's time to let someone make me accomplish something...