Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

Christmas is coming; don't buy your geek the wrong gift

It’s almost Christmas and you haven’t done any shopping yet.

You know what to buy for your parents, your siblings and all the little kids, but what do you buy for the geek of the house?

Your first concern is obviously price. The more you’re willing to spend, the easier your decision will be. The world is full of expensive geek toys. If you’re willing to devote some cash to the project, you can get your geek a game console. If they already have one, they probably want the other one. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what game system or software titles your teenager (or console-friendly adult) wants, just ask them.

Or, if you’re a purist, committed to the idea of a Christmas surprise, call their best friend on the phone and ask which games they want to play together that they currently can’t.

This is an important step that many people forget when buying gifts. It’s easy to make a mistake here. Parents and spouses who are not tech-savvy can end up with wasted money and hurt feelings if they buy their geeks the wrong hardware. Making the choice between Xbox and Nintendo, Wii or PS3, or PC and Mac is a big deal.

Some parents think all computers are created equal, but when you commit to a brand, you’re locking your kids into a specific platform, and if it’s not the same system that their friends have, you’ll end up wasting time and money on a gift that will never be used.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

November 25, 2009 at 15:33

Posted in Apple, Columns, Games

Unfriend is Word of the Year

The New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year for 2009 is “unfriend,” defined as “To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

In context, “He was spamming me with ‘Mafia Wars’ notifications so I decided to unfriend him.” Or, “She filled her journal with Polish nude photography links so I had to unfriend her at work.” Or, “I posted that Obama bowing video and all the Democrats unfriended me.”


Written by Michael B. Duff

November 20, 2009 at 19:39

Posted in Columns

Unfriend is Word of the Year

The New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year for 2009 is “Unfriend,” defined as “To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”

In context, “He was spamming me with ‘Mafia Wars‘ notifications so I decided to unfriend him.” Or, “She filled her journal with Polish nude photography links so I had to unfriend her at work.” Or, “I posted that Obama bowing video and all the Democrats unfriended me.”

Unfriending is a tricky business, guaranteed to hurt feelings or start a fight unless your subject is oblivious to Internet stuff or just too famous to care. Although I suspect even famous people hurt a little when they see their friend counts go down.

I remember many years ago when a distant friend dropped me from her journal network because my entries “weren’t really relevant to her life.” That was six years ago, but I still haven’t forgiven her. Last week she wrote to ask how I was and I almost lost it. “Well, if you hadn’t dropped me in 2003 you would KNOW, wouldn’t you? My REAL friends already know how I am!”

Childish behavior, I know. Made even worse when you consider the number of nice, innocent people I’ve dropped from social networks over the years. I currently have 212 followers on Twitter. I follow 76 people. Now, of that 76, how many do you think I actually read?

I check Twitter five or six times a day, for two or three minutes at a time. I read the top few entries, then I get bored and wander off. In practice, I only read two people: New Media guru @jayrosen_nyu and social media powerhouse @rachelsklar. Not because I’m particularly fascinated by them, but because they both post so frequently their tweets tend to stick on my front page.

The reality that no social media tool has quite grasped yet is that we all have different categories of friends, and their posts are relevant to us at different times of day. When I’m at work, I want to read tweets from people I work with. Around 5 p.m. I want to plan my evening and read tweets from friends. In the early morning I want to catch up with pundits who work in my industry, and in the late evening I finally have time for celebrity tweets and snarky news links.

Twitter has recently introduced a list feature that should make this easier on me, but setting up lists is so difficult right now I haven’t found time to set it up.

I’m glad to see dictionaries recognizing the legitimacy of “unfriend” but I think we need some new words to describe different categories of friends. I need words to describe these friends:

1. The corporate executive who’s never had a real conversation with you but who’s just too important to drop.

2. The A-list celebrity who was funny for a while but now just posts about dogs and links to his merchandise.

3. The B-list celebrity who was nice to you once.

4. The senior class president who only tweets when he wants you to drop $78 dollars on a reunion ticket.

5. The A-list blogger who only posts links to his own blog.

6. The C-list blogger who incesscently retweets people you’ve read already. (This is me.)

7. The co-worker who tweets 20 times a day, mainly about cats and what she ordered at Starbucks.

8. The editor/boss you added so you can anticipate major projects before he assigns them to you.

9. The enemy you added so you can catch them saying something indiscreet.

10. The co-worker who added you so they can catch you saying something indiscreet.

11. The old girlfriend you added so you can catch her complaining about her new boyfriend.

12. The boyfriend you added so you can catch him complaining about your old girlfriend.

13. Tracy Morgan.

14. That musician you don’t actually listen to but added so your friends would think you’re cool.

15. That guy who was posting great stuff about #balloonboy last month but is now just a normal person.

16. That guy you added because he quoted you six months ago.

17. That girl with the hot photo who turned out to be a spammer.

18. The celebrity impersonator who used up all his good material on the first day.

19. The former cheerleader who doesn’t really like you but will cry if you cut her off.

20. That guy you used to work with who doesn’t care if you live or die now.

21. The guy you start to drop until you realize it’s @davewiner.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 17, 2009 at 18:27

Posted in Columns

Augmented Reality is almost here

Today’s buzzword is Augmented Reality.

The technical definition is, “a display in which simulated imagery, graphics, or symbology is superimposed on a view of the surrounding environment.”

In plain English, Augmented Reality allows you to view things in the real world with computer graphics and text added to it.

There are already a variety of AR applications in development. iPhone application developers are working on apps that can help you find friends, taxis, bathrooms, restaurants and dating prospects by overlaying information over the view captured by the phone’s camera.


Written by Michael B. Duff

November 13, 2009 at 19:46

Posted in Columns

Search engine oracle predicts UFO disclosure

The Obama administration is set to release secret UFO files to the public on Nov. 27.

It’s supposed to be a secret, so when the news comes out, please try and look surprised.


Written by Michael B. Duff

November 6, 2009 at 19:50

Posted in Columns

Fan takes on Mike Leach at Fatlittlegirlfriend.com

I just got back from visiting Fatlittlegirlfriend.com.

You have to be careful, visiting an address like that. I’ll admit that I winced a bit as I typed it in, like I was anticipating a punch to the face.

But it really is a site about Mike Leach and his infamous “fat little girlfriends” quote from last week.


Written by Michael B. Duff

October 30, 2009 at 19:53

Posted in Columns

Facebook won’t kill your marriage, but keeping secrets might

Last week I shared excerpts from comments I got on an old blog post called “Facebook offers faster ways to ruin your marriage.”

The comments on that article are an outpouring of misery from random people all over the country who blame Facebook, in whole or in part, for the dissolution of their marriages.

These folks might be able to trade e-mail addresses and start a support group online, but they won’t get much sympathy here in Lubbock.


Written by Michael B. Duff

October 23, 2009 at 20:16

Posted in Columns