Tag Archives: computers

Online dating is not happy, but it is fascinating – part one

Well here I am nearly 3 years later in a strikingly familiar place. A significant other leaves for their home country, on relatively good terms, and I’m single again. The “girlfriend shield” that enables me to be my normal “unlimited-friendly” high-energy self is gone and I’m readily annoyed at the prospect of bottling up my emotions to not scare people off. My friends group is of course dissipating and I’m not at the top of anyone’s list to hang out with anymore… and I can’t complain about that because historically I’m the one making the list. A popular Oatmeal post on the falsity of happiness as a dichotomous state compelled me to write again.

By Matthew Inman (2016)

By Matthew Inman (2016)

Anyway this post isn’t so much about my happiness, that’s been going up and down (which is good?) more than usual but I’ll be fine. Nope this one is about psuedo-social-science observations of ICT-mediated-communication-dysfunction!

Last time I tried online dating I quickly became frustrated with sending out dozens of messages and never receiving any responses or having anyone seek me out to initiate conversation. The one date that came out of it revealed a lot of what online chat can’t reveal so I quit it and found someone in real-life and it was great. This time around, after considerable insistence by friends and my sister that online dating has changed and can really work, I’m giving it a go.

AND OH MAN IS IT SUPER NEATO BUT STILL HOPELESSLY DYSFUNCTIONAL!

I’ve complained about this stuff in the past, but the difference is this time I’m going to use real live examples from my actual life. Yep, I’m still fearlessly (able-white-male-privilegely?) my open self. I figured if I’m going to do this I’m going to do this, so I jumped into several systems (in order, overlapping: OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Tinder), made consistent profiles and started interacting. I used my actual name as my username (JeffGinger) and wrote robust (but not too long?) descriptions that made it easy to identify me and get an idea of who I think I am. I already knew this was a mistake – honesty and lack of mysteriousness + emotive qualities (stoic dudes are the stock-light attraction go-to) – but this is who I am.

By the Numbers

To get a sense of my activity: I’ve been one these things for two weeks, sent probably 20 messages, gotten 5 responses and had 5 people initiate conversation with me. I’ve been looking for people ages 24 (had to bump it down to get results, originally 25) to 35 (also bumped it down, originally 38). I have yet to go out on a date, but that’s not my current metric of success.

BloNo is way hotter than CU

The first thing I noticed is just how small the dating pool is if you limit it to a town like CU (25 mile radius in my case). On OKCupid I’d get just a handful of options, mostly–yes I’m a horrible, shallow person for saying this–overweight and/or unattractive women. This is half of what had killed me the first time through. SO this time I set my radius to the maximum distance I’d be willing to drive regularly (an hour, includes several cities nearby) and BAM everything changed.

CU has a very transient population. My impression (speculation) is that most of the single people my age (32) here are grad students or international and it is very easy to meet people in face-to-face life (I’ve been doing this successfully for over a decade here). Online dating therefore becomes the resort for the desperate. It’s also freakily familiar. About one out of every 15 people local was someone I recognized (many current or former GSLIS) and might see occasionally. What do you do with that? You both know the other is there, right? Click on their profile and say hi? Avoid them religiously? I’ve found no good solution, but this time, like last time I ran into the issue, talking to one of them resulted in no response and even more awkwardness.

Anyway when I broadened the scope, and jumped into sites like Plenty of Fish everything grew exponentially. Bloomington-Normal has ISU, which specializes in education, and many moderate-size companies so there are lots of late-twenties + early-thirties women there. Other places, like Danville, Mattoon, Decatur or Indiana have many more women with some college or associates degrees and single moms or divorcees. Working at the Fab Lab has helped me to understand education level isn’t a great predictor of passion and emotional intelligence (very important to me) so the sheer diversity of this has been an outstanding discovery. I really don’t want to date other people with PhD’s – they’re usually not in my culture.

Bumble, by the way, which I think works great in Chicago with 100 times more people, has been a total failure. I haven’t been even matched to someone on it, much less had a conversation. I run out of profiles to review in just a few swipes. I really love the idealized feminist form of ladies lead, but I think the social norms are still too broken for it to work outside of big cities. Tinder, on the other hand – which I am not using to ‘hook up’ and has many more users in this area – has resulted in women initiating messages with me.

What is it to be polite?

If I walk up to someone in-person and say “Hi, how are you doing? My name is Jeff, pleased to meet you” they will almost certainly answer. Online-dating makes even these sorts of interactions optional but this is nothing new and I’m not bothered by it anymore. I’ve personally decided that anyone, regardless of how attractive they are to me, who messages me with a reasonable message deserves a response. But I have been failing a lot. Here’s one specific exchange:

Them: Your profile sounds really really interesting. I am a grad of [school] with my bachelors. I’m going to [school] this semester so I’m really busy, but I’d like to know are you interested in me maybe hanging out with your friends with volleyball?

Me: Well, I don’t know that I’d be interested romantically, but you’re certainly welcome to come join us on Wednesday evenings for volleyball. 6:30p at the sand courts, Stadium and Oak in Champaign.

Them: What turns you away? You are not the first to say that to me. I don’t think I want to play volleyball now.

Me: Sorry, I know my message probably seemed a little curt – I just don’t want to give off any false impressions or lead anyone on. I haven’t used an online dating system in years and have no sense for the etiquette. I guess the norm is people just ignore one another a lot, but you sent a reasonable message and I felt it would be rude to not answer. Truthfully I don’t think my evaluations should matter very much to you, I don’t think you should feel self-conscious because one random guy says he isn’t interested. It’s okay to forget me and move on. I do hope you can find someone!

As you can see, not great. Being up-front might be more honest but I really get why people just don’t answer. But I’ve also noticed that ghosting is an egregious norm, even when things are going well. One promising woman disappeared on me, we had been talking for a bit (on Facebook, she initiated) and then:

Her: Hi Jeff! I didn’t want to be a jerk, read you msg and not respond, but I just got home from work and not feeling very good. Apparently what I had for dinner tonight is not agreeing with me, so I’m going to try to head to bed. I do look forward to chatting with you tomorrow and glad I’m not creepy for finding you on fb. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful night. 🙂

Me (next day): Hey, feeling any better?

Me (days later): Well… I’m guessing you lost interest (or maybe expected me to message more earlier?), but if not feel free to drop me a line here, I’d still be happy to talk. Either way, thanks for reaching out.

I mean we all know that food poisoning is the go-to lie for short-term evasion, but what the shit? The answer, later discovered by comparing her OkCupid description to the one on Tinder, is that she’s one inch taller than me and she won’t date shorter men. That’s okay – I’d rather be unattractive physically than have it be about my personality I suppose.

I was reminded a day later when talking to a friend/coworker that it’s not just online dating, it’s just online talking that has this problem. She and I had been vaguely talking about hanging out for a week or so, here’s the last text conversation:

Me: [name] if you’d like to go get a drink or get something to eat together tomorrow evening I’d be happy to join you. No worries if the offer is too weird or inappropriate, I totally understand.

Her: I’ve got ladies night tomorrow night 🙁 I’m sorry

Me: S’okay. I think I’m free Saturday too, if it strikes you.

For the record – and I’m pretty sure she knows this – I was not asking her out with romantic intention, but we had never purposefully hung out one-on-one as friends before. Note how much I unnecessarily had to pad this damned thing. Giving the “I understand if it’s weird” or “if it strikes you” – she never answered and never will. I’ll see her in-person and never bring it up. Because here’s the thing: she doesn’t want to actually hang out, despite saying she does in the past week. Actions speak so much louder than words. If this person wanted to see me they would say something like “Hey, I’m busy tomorrow but what about __ day” or at least “Hey, I’m busy, but I appreciate the offer and let’s make sure to figure out another time.” When I was in GSLIS I referred to this as “speaking librarian” – my shitty job is to read between the lines to understand what she means through a polite refusal followed by lack of follow-up/response is that she is not interested and I need to bugger the fuck off. This is exactly what I get annoyed with – I shouldn’t have to be so worried about scaring other people or being friendly. It makes me sad that I’m so rarely worth their time.

You are easy to identify

People may think it’s strange that I use my real name on these services. I get that women have this totally alternative world of worry about rape and safety so I’m not going to talk about being flattered by being stalked – but I am assuming people will find me on Facebook as a 3rd-party evaluation. We present our best “romantic” selves in online dating, Facebook is likely a more “real” representation, and that’s’ fine. I’ve been consistently finding that with just one or two pieces of information – a school, a job, an organization combined with a first name – I can find their Facebook profile. So far this has been good. It gives me “secret” information about who they are and what they’re into and, in one case verified they’re not a pornbot and in another helped me to understand they’re actually much more attractive than I realized. The anonymity is a lie, but it’s probably still good to have it there – if nothing else it’s a forced mysteriousness.

Single moms

On my profile I write “I’ve never dated someone with children, but I work with them all of the time and feel like I’d be open to it.”

My sister: NO NO NO. They’ll hate you like I hated our step mom! Think of how horrible I was to her! You don’t want to go through that!

Me: But most of them have kids that are like 3 to 5! They don’t even know how to hate yet!

Sister: Oh but they will! You will inspire it!

Gardening is sexy, transcendental Iowans and HOLY FUCK GIPHY

I have no idea how to garden, but thanks to my recent move to a house I have one. I started a conversation about gardening (felt like I was being about the maximum boring I could possibly be) that I didn’t expect to pan out but it was notable in her profile and I had no idea what else to go on and I feel like I can improv well. Oddly – it didn’t matter, she stayed with me and kept conversation going. I’m so awestruck when people on these sites actually give a fuck and work with you, when so few people do. I know, I know, all you hot women have a thousand suitors and it’s just too hard to care all of the time, but really I think the fastest way to make me fall for you is show a disdain for apathy. She, fetty lass, also cleverly used a pretty-but-not-too-flabbergasting-so photo of herself on her profile, I found out later that she was not only quite intelligent and well-adjusted but also quite breathtaking.

One of the best moments I’ve had yet was with a sort of hippie-idealist woman from Iowa. She’s too far away for us to reasonably date, but shot me a message asking if I was a former Mormon. Besides making me worry in an interesting way about how I make impressions on others it got us into some conversation. She was so focused on the right parts of living an emotionally and physically healthy life – it was resoundingly refreshing to read about and hear from her. We could both honestly declare attraction for one another, in-part I think because we’re both too far away to really make a real relationship out of it. I sincerely love earnest expression of emotions and self, it’s really rare. Besides this it roused an interesting possibility – she plays piano and if I could get a hold of a MIDI file from her it would be super cool to try to play with my BS soundsynth gear again to make something together. Accidental triggers of forgotten passions are also my favorite.

It occurred to me that maybe the reason I suck at this stuff is that my messages are too tame. I’ve been working on being “librarian-compatible” for so long that much of what I send is harmless-sounding and banal. It’s boring. I’ve already been doing most of the ‘right’ stuff without even thinking about it – messages related to their profile, compliments not about appearance, using their actual name, not making it too long, ending with a question, etc… but this article got me really thinking.

Make them feel something.

What a fucking cool challenge. Yes, yes I will use this as my new mantra. It’s probably going to get me into gobs of trouble and I couldn’t feel more excited about it 🙂 The latest escapade: a girl who is so outstandingly stunningly beautiful that I couldn’t believe she’s not a pornbot (verified on Facebook she’s real) matched me on Tinder. This had to be a mistake – she has two degrees in different fields, works in yet another and looks like this and actually thinks I’m attractive?? She’s into sci-fi and geeky stuff?? WHAT IS GOING ON??? So I freak out sprinting in circles knowing this will probably never turn into anything and read her little description about being unsure what to do with her life but not wanting others to tell her what to do about 15 times and respond and… here you can just read it:

Me: Your profile reminds me of an Oatmeal comic I read today – about the failures of happiness as a descriptor… how we’re never really in the permanent state.

Me: I just joined Tinder a couple of days ago so I’m figuring it out too.

Me: Anyway having just gotten out of my twenties I feel like I’ve just become more Zen with the tumult, but maybe some of us just invite it more than others.

Me: What are some of the things you’ve been having trouble figuring out about life lately?

Then an hour later still thinking about it I realized I’m an idiot and it sounds like I’m setting up to mansplain. FUCK. Desperate attempt to recover:

Me: (don’t worry I’m not asking intending to tell you what to do)

Me: (also I like the fun patterns on your clothes on Instagram. Did you make any of them?)

No response. I figure I’m fucked so what the hell, here we go. 6:30a I’m up on 1.5 hours of sleep, have to help run sessions at a conference in Peoria on the way out the door. I snap photos of some of the cool art on my walls with my “brilliant” idea:

Me: Okay. I think I’ve been doing this wrong. Please select your destination:

And here’s the part where I thought I’d be able to make a GIF out of the photos, but find out you can only use certain pre-selected compositions from Giphy:

Me: Well that’s embarrassing. It only lets you use premade GIFs. Not a virus or spam I swear – short URL http://gph.is/2bYfsuj

And I assumed my Tinder profile would be reported and deleted by the next day… but I at least found the whole episode to be really funny.

But then the unthinkable happened. SHE RESPONDED!!!!

This person who seems like she is far good to even exist acknowledges my existence?? I still have no idea if we’re actually successfully talking, but holy crap nothing has gotten me this excited or engaged in years.

THIS. THIS IS WHY I AM DOING THIS.

I will probably never get online dating to actually work for me but holy balls is it interesting as all hell. It’s also kickboxing my emotional state but I really do feel like I’m living, and that’s fucking cool.

T

I feel really compelled to mention that throughout all of this I’ve had a real friend – whom I’ve only been able to communicate with online or on the phone – who has given force-fed me hope. She wouldn’t want me to say her name but all of this complaining I’ve been doing about people sucking at caring and between-the-lines bullshit she’s listened and kept me grounded. I couldn’t be more flattered and honored to see that she cares about me so much that she’s willing to stand on soap boxes and write almost as much as I have here in this entry. Her honesty, resolve and loyalty is unrivaled and she inspires me to keep being so.

This. This is also why I do live this.

Thank you T.

Computer Donations

I had a moment that made me smile today. A friend asked me if I knew of good home for an old G5 Mac she wished to donate. I of course could think of a half a dozen places offhand, but this isn’t exactly what made me happy. As a kid I always envisioned myself as ‘growing up’ to be someone who was actively engaged in producing social good. If I think about it, I really have been involved with a whole lot of groups around this community, and I really do know many of them well enough to know truly how in need they are and some actual impacts they provide. I guess I already knew this, I just don’t think about it from an externalized angle too often. The list, in case you’re curious or feeling charitable:

In order of most-in-need

Shadow Wood Lab
The trailer park just south of 74 by the train tracks
Mostly used largely by poor Latin@ kids and (potentially) undocumented workers
Community Journalism lab, could make great use of iMovie
Run by CU Citizen Access, who will be responsible for upkeep
http://www.communityinformaticsprojects.org/files/PESCE2012.pdf

New Hope Academy
After school program and safe space in north Champaign
Kids computer lab and adult public computer lab
Will be the main computing center for the successor to the Dorsey Homes house project
GSLIS Alumni and UFL librarian Joel Spencer will help ensure upkeep
http://www.communityinformaticsprojects.org/files/PESCE2012.pdf


Rantoul Public Library, children’s computer lab
Technical librarian Violet Lapine will take care of it and could use it for tutoring
Their kids computers are already all macs, so it fits well
Library serves a community with high unemployment and poverty

Eagle’s Nest Homeless Services Center
Located in East St. Louis
Run by Martha Watts, a friend
No one to do upkeep aside from the occasional visit by GSLIS students from LIS451
I’d take it down next visit


Tap In Leadership Academy

After school program for underprivileged youth
http://www.tapinacademy.org/about.html
GSLIS students under assistantships will ensure upkeep
Probably tax-deductable, but would take considerable effort

Back to Gender and Videogames

Figured it’s about time to score another feminist gamer post. I’ve often appreciated MovieBob’s strong statements on body types in gaming, and so when another video blogger on the Escapist had one I thought I’d throw in.

Jimquisition is an admittedly awkward guy, especially compared to Yahtzee or Bob, but really this particular site is all about the nerdery, so I happily give him props for things like his complaints against absurd DRM. His latest, however, left me in a bit of a tangle:

I mean, he’s right, we should have more female characters represented in games like this. But what I’m sure he knows is that there’s a cultural dimension beyond production costs and hit boxes. I’d like to believe I’m a pretty level-headed feminist, but if you showed me a video of a woman getting punched in the face and then a man getting smacked in the very same manner – all context suspended – I’d probably feel worse about the woman. I know that’s a potentially sexist reaction, but I think it probably ports to games – our fantasies get busted up if we see women getting shot, cut and blown up in games. I already think it’s quite unfortunate we’re so immune to fantasy violence, I’m not sure that I want us to be immune to fantasy violence against women. And, likely, Jimquisition would agree, given his stance against rape in fantasy games and his identification of women as simultaneously sexualized and brutalized in games.

I also worry that the addition of female body types risks what Professor Lisa Nakamura posited as identity tourism. Given that many (read: most) women are turned off by the gore and sheer aggression present in many FPS games I think we’d be looking at a lot more guys playing female models. This might not be a problem, necessarily, but if these guys start to fulfill sexist stereotypes in the women they play (see Lori Kendall’s statement in Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub… or just take a look at the play guides for Janna in League of Legends, the biggest online game these days) then we risk worsening the situation.

So what’s my opinion? Well, I think we should have more female body types in games, but please, could we work on toning back the violence? These spoiled 14 year old boys immersed in Call of Duty end up as engineering students forced to take my classes and have no idea how to have empathy for other human beings. It’s hard work repairing them – they don’t really like listening to a “pussy” like me when they’re too busy “raping” their math exams. I’m not saying the violence in videogames is directly linked to sexism, I just find the hyper-competitive survival-of-the-fittest ultra-aggressive types feast on that ish.

Or, at least, often that’s my perception. Happy Monday all!

Compare

I’d like to make a comparison. Lego’s new Friends series, the robot workshop:

And “engineer” Barbie:

  • Which is “more sexist”?
  • What skills and perspectives does each of these toys encourage? Go with a venn diagram.
  • If we replaced the pink and purple with orange and green how would you feel about each?
  • Why do kids like some toys instead of others?

Truly Creative Fonts

Back in 1998 I discovered Word 97’s Symbols font and went totally wild with what I thought could be an excellent secret code. Using font sets as arrays of icons or images is nothing particularly new:

But I’ve discovered some more interesting/innovative uses of fonts lately:

Braille dots - good for a materials printer!

Musical notes - one octave only?

Letter gestures for touch interfaces

For long-form sign-language

Make a picture of a key you type

 

Maximizing Firefox speed

This a boring post with no jokes, interesting links or stories about last night. I just came across “this pointer”:http://www.techlads.com/2008/06/firefox-tweaking-for-broadband.html from the “TechLads blog”:http://www.techlads.com/ about setting everyone’s favorite browser up for getting the most out of high speed internet connections. Apparently it is optimized by default for dial-up connections.

1- Type *about:config* in the address bar and press enter.
2- Enter *network.http* in the filter field and enter the following changes.
3- Double click on *‘network.http.pipelining’* and set the value to *true*.
4- Double click on *’network.http.pipelining.maxrequests’* and in the dialog box enter a higher value than the default value 4. *15* is an ideal value.
5- Double click on *‘network.http.proxy.pipelining’* and set the value to *true*.
6- Right click on the page and select *New* -> *Integer*. Enter *nglayout.initialpaint.delay* and then click ok. Set the integer value of this to *0* and click ok.

_Disclaimer: I have no idea if this works_

Killer Apps for Mac – Ogg Drop

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3 and "AAC":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding--are both proprietary codecs which means that any application that wants to use them have to pay the owners of the license. "Ogg Vorbis (.ogg)":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg_Vorbis is a non-proprietary, open source codec developed by the "Xiph.org foundation":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiph.Org_Foundation. There are a number of advantages to the .ogg format, most notably a variable bit rate which means that you can fit more complexity into the same size file. It used to be that iTunes users couldn't play .ogg vorbis files, but that's no longer true. There's a "Quicktime plugin":http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=41359 to allow for playback and "Ogg Drop":http://www.nouturn.com/oggdrop/index.php for encoding audio CDs. Unlike most encoders, Ogg Drop also accesses "CDDB":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDDB so song data is automatically retrieved from the internet, saving you the pain in the ass of typing it all in yourself. Previously featured _Killer Apps for Mac._ * "Adium":http://duenos.net/article/129/killer-apps-for-mac-adium - an alternative chat client * "App Zapper":http://duenos.net/article/231/ - tracks down all the caches and libraries for deleted applications and deletes them * "Darwiin Remote":http://duenos.net/article/193/KillerAppsforMacDarwiinRemote - an application that allows the use of the Wii-remote as an input * "Disk Inventory X":http://duenos.net/article/163/KillerAppsforMacDiskInventoryX - visualizes the hard disk * "img2icns":http://duenos.net/article/274/KillerAppsforMacimg2icns - A conversion tool for making any image into a .icns icon file * "iStumbler":http://duenos.net/article/312/KillerAppsforMaciStumbler - A far more detailed wireless network information tool. * "Mac Pilot":http://duenos.net/article/174/KillerAppsforMacMacPilot - an interface to control more options on the Mac * "Sidenote":http://duenos.net/article/111/killer-apps-for-mac-sidenote - a VERY helpful note-taking program * "SizzlingKeys":http://duenos.net/article/119/killer-apps-for-mac-sizzlingkeys - allows universal control of iTunes through simple hotkeys * "Tangerine":http://duenos.net/article/150/KillerAppsforMacTangerine - analyzes and organizes the iTunes library by beat characteristics * "TV Shows":http://duenos.net/article/232/ - automatically downloads torrent files of TV shows * "UnRarX":http://duenos.net/article/234/KillerAppsforMacUnRarX - very good at decompressing .rar files * "Vienna Reader":http://duenos.net/article/204/KillerAppsforMacViennaReader - an OS X-integrated RSS reader with an internal browser * "VLC Player":http://duenos.net/article/228/ - the best media player in existence, it plays anything

Pimp your G-Box

http://creativebits.org/user/ivan from "creative bits":http://creativebits.org/ has just "educated":http://creativebits.org/buy_more_space_for_your_google_account me on Google's new option to buy more space for your Google Mailbox. I've never needed that much space for my e-mail because no one really writes to me, but I could see this being really helpful for people out there who would use it. In fact, you could always pair a "mailbox upgrade":https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageStorage with "Gspace":http://www.getgspace.com/ and use your account as an off-site server. Just think, you could never lose a porn file again...