Archive for May, 2013


Sometimes you find yourself caught up in the day to day comings and goings of life that you actually miss life.

It’s a trend, and I find myself thinking back to Ferris Bueller’s sage words of advice more and more.

“LIfe moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Yup. Very true words.

For example.

I’m turning 42 next week. How in the hell did I get to be 42?

Forty didn’t bother me. Not one bit. Neither did 41. But 42? Maybe.

I mean I realize it’s (at the root) the meaning of life and all, but wow. That’s a lot of years. I suspect 45 is going to totally mess with me.

Another example.

My oldest just finished up 7th grade. He’s an 8th grader now. That’s one year from High School.

Again, I ask. How the hell did that happen?

Along with the general attitude of a 13 year old, he’s in the awkward maturity stage where he’s not quite old enough to really “get” being responsible and such. But he’s not so young that he doesn’t get that he needs to be. It’s a hard age that I remember well.

Doesn’t seem possible that he’s this old.

Another example.

The youngest is moving from grade school to middle school. We had the “parent orientation” meeting at his middle school this past week. You know, that night where all the parents gather in the library like lemmings and listen to the principal and guidance councilors say things like “I really love working at this school”, and “This school is such a nurturing place”. Those things that you wonder if they’d be saying them if it wasn’t the last week of school before they can run like crazed moose AWAY from the school for the summer.

But there we sat, Mrs. Technocrat and I. Obediently listening to the speeches and the video, and the students. We tried to act all serious as several sets of parents were obviously taking it extremely seriously.

How did I get to be the parent of TWO kids in middle school? That’s frequently what was running through my head.

Another example.

The youngest has a girlfriend. Not a “girl” friend mind you, but a “girlfriend”. And it’s not imaginary. Nor is it his “high hopes”. They are a couple. At least as much as two 5th graders can be a couple.

And they have a date coming up!!! A date.

/frightened_parent mode = on

This is all do very different than when I was a kid. Before, if you liked a girl, you had to do recon and try and figure out if she liked you too. It was HELL and crushed more than one stalwart 5th/6th grader’s self esteem.

Today. Heck, the girls are the aggressors and they have things like text messaging and email, and chat. It’s all so much easier, and yet just as complex. I think the technology only makes the initial contacts easier.

So the date. They are meeting up at the pool the monday after school is done. It’s all coordinated and set. Cute, yes. Harmless, yes. Panic inducing for parents, oh HELL yes.

These are the sort of things that force me to stop and take a look around at life. You know, sort of the way a sledge hammer to the forehead can stop a charing bull. Once you pick yourself up, shake off the dizziness, you can appreciate the surroundings.

I’ve been doing a lot of that “dizzy” part of late. I’m looking forward to appreciating the surroundings. When does that start BTW?

I”m trying to do more of it of late. I think I need to.

Final example.

The kid asked me for 20 bucks for his date.


Next thing will be the keys to the car.

Words to live by…


A little bit easier..

Mrs. Technocrat is a writer. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this. But she is.

And a damn good one at that.

To date, she’s had 12 books published by a major New York publisher. So she’s legit.

And, I’m damn proud of her.

Recently she has decided that going the route of “traditional” publishing is for the birds and has decided to go independent or “indie” as the industry calls it.

Basically this means that she will continue to write books and such, but now, she will self publish them digitally. Her self. No Publisher (with a capital P).

This means a lot of things. More control of her books. More say is what she writes. More say in how and where things are published.

And, more of the royalties. Lots more. But that’s another blog and a WHOLE other discussion. I’m not here to bash on the publishing industry. As much as I like to do that.

She has completed two short stories to “test the waters” recently and we’ve gone through the process of publishing them to the four big outlets. Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Apple.

As her official Techno-geek in residence, I was voluntold that I would be handling the technical end of converting her prose into digital formats for these sites.

Cool! I like a challenge and she and I tend to view all things as a partnership in our lives. So I jumped on the task.

Getting to the point where I’m now at, that being comfortable formatting and publishing a work to these sites took a bit of learning. Here’s what I’ve learned to date…summarized.

Amazon = easy, simple and painless. They have it down cold. This I’d expect from them.

Kobo = not as easy, but still pretty painless. I was surprised here. I’d expected problems.

Nook = picky as HELL about the formatting, but once you have that figured out, pretty easy. Only mildly surprised. The only problem is that they’ve recently reworked their whole “process” and there are still some bugs.

Apple = Pain in the Fucking ASS!!!! Yup. Just as I expected.

/sad_face = on

Apple is picky as hell about the formatting, makes you jump through about a billion hoops and makes you use about three different tools just to get your book submitted to them. THEN you have to deal with iTunes Connect and the PITA that is that site.

So I have the books up on Apple’s site. Finally.

Now…we wait. And wait. And wait.

You see Apple is notorious for taking FOREVER to approve anything. More likely than not they’ll kick it back with come cryptic error and leave the user to try and figure it out.

Want support or help? Sure. Just email them and pray they actually get back to you. If they do, it will be most likely 3-5 business days. And you hope it’s not just another cryptic message that really doesn’t tell you anything.

So here’s my deal.

I’ve been critical of Apple in the past for losing it’s innovative edge. I stand by those comments.

However, they are also so overly protective of their precious “ecosystem” that they are hurting themselves.

When it becomes so f’ing difficult to sell your product on their marketplace that people don’t want to deal with it, you have a problem. And right now, Apple has a problem baby!

However, Apple has enough market intertia built up that people will continue to work with them.

But I wonder for how long?

Apple, a company that seems to pride itself on customer service (I love the people at the Apple stores) needs to seriously take a page or two out of Amazon’s playbook.

There is a reason Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the publishing world. They make it easy and simple to get your books up on their site. It’s painless.

Apple on the other hand is nothing but pain.

Authors are realizing that they are entering a time of unprecedented freedom and control for their careers. They are anxious to take advantage of that freedom.

However, if Apple continues to throw up roadblocks to authors, they are going to find themselves marginalized rather quickly.

When spouses of authors, who are very technically savvy, have issues getting Apple’s process to “work”, it stands to reason that authors who are not overly technically savvy are going to find the process madding and defeating.

Eventually, they will walk away.

So, please Apple. Get your shit together! Fix the process to get a book published on iBooks.

Otherwise, your whole “book” market is going to go the way of Borders. Another company that missed the boat. We all know what happened to them.

I don’t think the same thing will happen to Apple. Again, that whole inertia thing. But Apple is not opposed to shuttering business ventures that don’t work.

I’d hate to see this one shut down because there are too wrapped up in themselves to see the fundamental problem. And that problem is…

They are just a Pain in the Ass to deal with.


Saw this the other day and it literally made me stop and think about life, the universe and…well…everything.

Pretty amazing when you think about it.



Random Ramblings

Did anyone else catch the “reveal” of the new Xbox platform? The Xbox One?

It was unveiled this week to much fan fair and ballyhooing.

Me = disappointed.

I mean the specs look great, but at the end of the day, the presenters spent way too much time talking about how great it will be for watching TV.

…… huh?

Really, TV? Is that all ya got?

I’ve got about a billion devices that will let me watch TV. Live, streaming, recorded, backwards, forwards, sidwards. You name it. Do I really need another one?


I just want a great devices that plays really kick-ass games. From the looks of if, my Xbox 360 will continue to do just fine in that respect.

They (Microsoft) spent a good amount of time talking about how great the new Modern Warfare and Black Ops games will look. Great. But how about others?

From what I’ve seen (and I fully disclose I’m not terribly up on the game scene) I haven’t seen developers flocking to it. I’m sure they will, in time, but this device was positioned as the second coming. The salvation of the game industry.

Looks to me more like a “meh” console that will run basically the same games with no really cool new features.



Anyone else’s Evernote accounts been acting up lately?

Mine has.

Just little things. Some notes taking forever to sync. Others not synching at all. It’s been strange.

I know there was an update this past week, but it’s normally rock solid and doesn’t belch like this.



To update everyone on Mrs. Technocrats phone….yeah…it’s dead.

Turns out that submersion in the toilet really isn’t good for it, and the “bag of rice” trick didn’t work.

Thank F’ing god for AppleCare+. Yes this is the new and improved AppleCare. The one that allows for two incidents of “accidental” handling. Or as I like to call it, two “OH SHIT” incidents.


So off she went to the Apple Store on Friday and retuned with a shiny new iPhone. She was happy.

Until she figured out there was a reason I keep harping on backups and the need to make a back up of her phone. hehe

Last one was more than a year ago.

So, on THIS one, iCloud backs are now ON.

After restoring about a bazillion apps and stuff, she now has her phone back

OH…did I mention the sparkly blue, sequined case she bought.

/bling = on

Hey, she’s happy. Who am I to judge?


The Oldest Techno-rugrat (age 13) got in trouble a while back and lost ALL electronics for two weeks.


Yeah, this is just about the worst punishment we could have doled out to the kiddo. Let’s just say he earned this one….and then some. Personally I think we were being nice ONLY doing this and not other things as well.

Problem is, electronics are his LIFE.

This is a problem in more than one way. He lives on his laptop and iPad and lives FOR his laptop and iPad.

Yes, maybe there is a problem with a 13yo who has is only laptop, iPad and iPhone. I’m sure there is when you get down to it. But hey, I’m not just a geek in words alone. I LIVE the lifestyle baby!!!!

The long weekend is killing him!!

He has been moping around compiling about how bored he is and hot terrible his life is right no.

Hell, he even offered to “adjust” his punishment to something he knows I hate doing (cleaning the cat boxes) for the next two months!

Kid is desperate.

We didn’t budge.

Apparently we are terrible parents.

/teenage angst = ON


I was struggling for a blog topic today. It’s been an “interesting” day and the creative juices just weren’t flowing.

Enter Mrs. Technocrat with fodder for a topic today.

Thanks sweetie. I love you. However, I’m not going to allow you to touch another piece of technology.


In fact, I may require you to turn in your laptop.

/explanation_mode = on

I love my wife dearly, but of late, she’s been a bit hard on her techno gadgets.

Let’s start with a few months ago.

Mrs. Technocrat reads…a LOT. So I got her an iPad. Figured it’s better than constantly trying to read books and such on her tiny little iPhone screen. After all, she’s got bad eyes. She had to break down and get glasses a while back. So I was being helpful.

And it worked great. She was actually using it. You see, you have to coax her into trying a new piece of technologic gadgetry. She just don’t jump into things.

So when she announced she liked the iPad and was using it. I was thrilled.

One of the places she was using it was on the treadmill during her workouts.

Perfect! A great use.

That is until she managed to introduce the iPad to the concrete floor of our basement.

Yeah, you know that iPads have glass on the front…right?

That glass makes a really pretty pattern when it shatters.

But I’ll give you this, the freaking iPad still worked. You just didn’t dare try or you’d end up with sliced fingers from the glass shards.

I shook my head (a lot) and jokingly threatened never to allow her hear another device again.

I wasn’t serous.

Until today.

Let’s talk about her iPhone.

Mrs. Technocrat is addicted to her iPhone. I mean seriously. She breaks into cold shivers when she forgets where she left it in the house.

If I need to do updates, I’d better find a time she is either sleeping or in the shower. She’ll panic that I’m taking “too long”.

She keeps chargers strewn around the house, and in her car, and in mine, just in case she needs to charge it.

Battery life, forget it. She drains the sucker at least once a day.

To say she uses it a lot is one of the understatements of the year.

Well, today, she made another introduction…of sorts.

iPhone…meet toilet.


Yup, Mrs. Technocrat dropped her beloved iPhone in the toilet. (it was clean thank you)

And the thing is, she admitted it. Willingly.

She called me, panic evident in her voice, and asked if there was any hope. It was making strange noises.

So off we go to try the “bag of rice” trick and hope for the best.

I hear the Apple Care doesn’t cover water damage. That’s why one of the first things the Geniuses at the Apple Stores do is shine that little flashlight into the base. There’s a moisture indicator in there.

I feel for her. I do.

I left my phone at home by mistake this week. It felt strange all day not to have it with me. It’s sort of like a security blanket.

So I can’t imaging the thought of my phone being ruined.

At this point, I’m starting to fear for the well belong of her MacBook Air.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens. But it’s going to be a while before she has a working phone again.

And here I was beating her at Words with Friends.

I think she might have done it on purpose.



Too true


Minecraft….my new addiction?

This weekend is what we call in my house a “boys weekend”. This means that Mrs. Technocrat (aka Mom) is going to be out of town for at least a while. Most likely over night.

Let the male debauchery commence.

Or, as least as much as you can “commence” with a 41 year old man, a 13 year old, moody teenager and an 11 year old grumpy/controlling pre-teen.

Yeah…not so much on the debauchery.

I the past this has always meant renting a couple videos, making pizza and vegging out with Call of Duty Black Ops 2, or Borderlands 2.

However last night my boys convinced me to try something different.


I’ve never really played it before and they are both self-proclaimed “pros” at the game. They don’t exaggerate much.

They both have played Minecraft for years and know more about the game than I imagined existed.

So, with admonitions to “be nice to Dad” off we went. The oldest with his new laptop, me with mine and the youngest with his desktop computer.

A Minecraft’n we went.

I have to tell you.

I’m hooked!

The game is fantastic and I’m starting to see why people talk it up so much.

The graphics aren’t much to talk about. Basically 8-bit blocks and simple colors.

The the possibilities for what you can do are endless.

There is something slightly addicting about mining block after block to try and find metals, diamonds, red stone and obsidian.

In fact I think my kids got a hoot out of watching Dad have so much fun with the game.

Moders and developers have taken the game to a whole new level with expansions and other additions to the game.

That’s one of the beauties. It’s basically open source. People can take the basic code and are free to mod it, add t it, develop side threads and create new types of games.

In a word. Brilliant.

I’m just getting started, so i’m sure you’ll be seeing more posts on this. Bur for now, I’m hooked. And I see the value in the game for kids.

It teaches creativity, architecture, teamwork, patterns, coding…you name it.

From a parent’s stand point. It’s refreshing to see a game that isn’t just about killing stuff.

From a gamer’s perspective….it’s just plain fun.

Game on!

Peace and quiet

One of my favorite things in the world is sitting outside at night. But the weather has to be just right.

Not too warm, definitely not too cold. You know…the “Goldilocks” syndrome.

Last night was one of those nights.

It’s been a while here in Wisconsin since we’ve had a night like that. Spring has been extremely tardy in showing up here (not that I’m bitter about it), and until a couple weeks ago, we were hesitant to get the deck furniture out for fear of snow.

But last night was glorious!!

Perfect temperature, just a slight breeze and a bit of a moon.


One of the best things is the sounds of night time.

We live in a nice part of the Madison area and there are lots of green spaces around us. Just to the south is a Nature Preserve and the sounds filter up from that.

Coupled with our large back yard and all the trees and parks close to us; a veritable nocturnal symphony.

So there I sat last night. Happily enjoying the night. Sitting on my deck…the fountain burbling away…frogs and birds signing…pure bliss.

Until the airplane started circling.

You see, we live not too far from a small, local airport. And, unfortunately, right along the approach path.

Normally it’s not too bad. I like planes and their sounds and watching them fly.

But the guy/girl last night was obviously practicing night landings.

Over and over and over.

In a 30 minute period, that same plane must have gone overhead about 5 times. Pretty damn good progress.

But it wrecks havoc on a gorgeous night.

Fortunately, it did only last about 30 minutes, and there was plenty of night leftover.

Once Maverick stopped buzzing the tower, things settled back down nicely.

I even got a couple plants repotted.

So, here’s to many more gorgeous Wisconsin nights.

Everyone needs something that brings them peace and harmony. Something where they can just “be in the moment” and enjoy begin alive.

Nights like this are mine…without the airplane.