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Product Review: Keyboard & Mouse

Some of you might know that I’ve built my own gaming rig to compete with MicroSony’s consoles, because they’ve apparently lost touch with what customers want. I wasn’t going to be left out of the next generation of gaming, but I also wasn’t going to give them any more money until they start listening to consumers.

So, my rig, which I call the LUC Box (or the Beast, as I like to call it when I’m stroking its RAM) went online for the first time in January 2014, and it’s great. It’s had some minor upgrades since then, most recently, I gave it a gaming keyboard and mouse.

The keyboard I bought was the Masione Domineering USB Gaming Keyboard, and the mouse was the Zelotes 5500.

GamingKeyBoard&Mouse

If you’re a PC gamer, your first thought might be, “Wait! Those aren’t high end gaming hardware!” And maybe you’re right. They were quite affordable, which was actually the first thing I liked about them.

I use the Logitech F310 for most of my gaming, which is a fine gamepad in its own right, so I didn’t really need some super-powerful keyboard and mouse. I use the keyboard and mouse for a few games, but mostly for navigation and video, and they are awesome at both.

They may be cheap, but they certainly don’t feel that way. I love the ergonomic way the mouse fits in my hand, and that trigger button (which I presume is made for FPS games) is a great shortcut to a double click. I’ve used a lot of cheap mice in my day, but I wouldn’t call this one of them. It was a quality mouse for a cheap price.

Both the keyboard and mouse allow cycling through the colours of the lights. The keyboard is green by default, and the mouse “breathes” as it cycles through the colours. Once you choose the one you like, both will stay that way until you change it. The downside is that the keyboard defaults back to green every time you boot up, but at least it’s easy to change, if green is not the colour you want.

Some of the key placements take some getting used to, but there’s noting in too weird a place where it just feels wrong. It responds well, it gives you controls right there on the keyboard that you might not otherwise have easy access to, and most importantly, it looks really cool.

And let’s be fair. The main reason I bought these items is they look cool. Everything else is just gravy. So, while they’re not without their faults (but, really, what is?), they are a great value for the money you’re paying. If you’re building yourself a gaming rig, or just want to upgrade the one you have, I would strongly recommend this keyboard and mouse.

Product Review: Social Fixer

Well, I’ve talked a lot of shit about Facebook.  I coined its nickname, “The Big F,” as well as used nicknames others have come up with such as Assbook and Fascistbook.  I understand what it’s for, and I don’t really care for it.  But, as a public figure, I’m pretty much required to use it for selling myself.  What’s a comedian to do?

Sure, I make fun of it.  Oh, God, do I make fun of it!  It’s a comedy goldmine!  But, other than that, what do I do?

Well, I installed AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and Facebook Disconnect on my browser.  That gets rid of most of the adverts and all the trackers, but it doesn’t fix the buggy nightmare that gives The Big F its eponymous big F.

I found this plug-in called Social Fixer.  It’s a highly customisable user interface for Facebook that tries to make it a lot easier to use.  How did it fare?

Well, the first thing I noticed was that the stories about the Super Bowl I thought I had blocked, I didn’t.  Using “regular expressions” to block content you wish not to see has a high learning curve.  It works if you do it right, but good luck doing it right.

Other than that, I was able to change the appearance of Facebook so the text was light on a dark background, hide stories I had already seen from my feed (as opposed to just turning off notifications), easily type multi-line comments without inadvertently posting them before I was done, hover the mouse over a photo to see the large version without opening a new tab or changing the page I was on, among many other things…

The dark theme I like stopped working this morning, so it’s not without its bugs, but if only Facebook had as few bugs as Social Fixer, SF would not have been necessary.  And remember, Facebook is created by a large company run by a billionaire who make money out the wazoo by selling information about your wazoo.  Social Fixer is just a few guys trying to fix the problems that Fuckerberg doesn’t really care to fix.  To put that in perspective, they’re doing a far better job at making the Facebook experience with their limited resources than Facebook is doing with all the money in the world.

I would recommend staying away from Facebook if you can. If you can’t, I would recommend using Social Fixer for a much better experience.  Four out of five stars.

Charity Or Cult? A Public Service Announcement

I’d like to preface by saying there’s nothing funny intended in this article.  It’s pure, real, legitimate public service announcement.

I went grocery shopping the other day, and I noticed the old bell-ringers are at it again.

Let’s look past the obvious point that annoying someone with a bell is a terrible way to get them to give you money and focus on some more disturbing facts about the Salvation Army that they don’t want you to know.

First and foremost, the Salvation Army is registered as a church, and they are most certainly not a charity.  Some of your money goes to help nice white, heterosexual, Christian families, but a lot of it goes toward discrimination, anti-gay lobbying, and PR stunts that are thinly veiled and incredibly fallacious attempts to dispel concern without actually denying any of the allegations.

You think I’m being bitter or hyperbolic?  Well, why don’t you listen to many complaints, evidence, and alternatives:

Before You Give To The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army: Doing “The Most Good”?

Common Objections To Boycotting The Salvation Army

Don’t Give To The Anti-Gay Salvation Army

This is right.  The Salvation Army has gone as far as stealing back donations they already gave out because they later found out the recipients didn’t fit into their narrow, Christian conservative worldview.

There have been many articles on Why You Shouldn’t Donate To The Salvation Army, and I can’t possibly link to them all.

 But, a good rule of thumb is to never give to any charity until after you have done all your research and are comfortable with not only their mission statement, but where all your money goes.

 

Just How Bad IS Google Minus? Bad Enough To Kill YouTube

As a member of Google AdSense, I’m contractually forbidden from saying anything bad about Google, but seeing as how, if I don’t, they won’t be around by the time AdSense pays out again, and therefore won’t be able to hold me accountable, I think I’ll make an exception just this once.

Google Minus (often incorrectly called Google Plus or Google+) was a short-lived massive failure of a project.  It could have succeeded if mistakes weren’t made.  In fact, it has a very interesting history.

It all started a couple years ago when Google tried to buy Facebook, but Fuckerberg refused to sell.  That’s our loss because, instead of one shitty data farm posing as a social network, we got two.  Google, unable to acquire Facebook, started Google Minus.  It lasted a few days before members started deleting their profiles en masse.  It wasn’t so much that the interface was bad (even though it was comparable to Facebook, so it really was), but the policy was.  They had the same vaguely defined “real names only” policy that Facebook has, but the only difference is, they actually enforced it.  People’s accounts were deleted because, according to Google, those people weren’t using their “real names.”  That’s like deleting someone’s account for posting a fake favourite colour.  In retaliation, almost every member, within a couple days, deleted his or her account, most of whom left a message to the effect of the enforcement of that policy as the reason, and that was the end of Google Minus.

Except, it wasn’t.  It should have been, but it wasn’t.  Google apologised for the scandal, but made no effort to change the policy or the way it was enforced.  As far as I know (although I haven’t checked in a while), they still haven’t.  So, the apology was basically empty, and no one bought it.  The only way to legitimately salvage the product was to change it to something people would actually want to use, and they chose not to.  Instead their plan was to force people to use it against their will.  That’s right.  Google are digital rapists.

So, the first plan was to tie all Google accounts together into a single account.  YouTube, GMail, Blogger, and all that other stuff they bought and/or stole from other companies now had the same log-in information, and you couldn’t be signed into one without signing into all of them.  Or, at least all the ones you had.  I don’t know about the others, but YouTube began relentlessly pestering people to create a Google Minus account, and even making videos not load properly when it did that.  Sometimes it went so far as to sign people up for this account without their consent and then link their YouTube account to it, making them think that they couldn’t delete it without deleting their YouTube account too.

This fooled a lot of people, as you could tell by the increased use of Google Minus ID’s on YouTube recently, but it also spawned literally tens of thousands of video tutorials on how to undo this crime against you committed by Google without deleting your YouTube account.  It fooled a not insignificant number of people, but not an adequate number for Google Minus to become even remotely financial successful.  On the contrary.  It backfired and made people want Google Minus even less, as if that were even possible.

So, basically, now we have a product of comparable quality to Facebook where you get banned if you’re even suspected of violating a vaguely defined (but completely unenforceable) policy, whose creators constantly pester you about how you had better get it.  And don’t even think about dismissing the message because they’ll “ask you again later.”  You may be forced to sign up for it, and then have it attach to a product you do want like a parasite, making it a bitch to get rid of, even though you never even wanted it in the first place.  I can’t imagine why that business model is failing.

But, today was the last straw.  You can’t comment on a YouTube video or a YouTube channel unless you not only sign up for Google Minus, but link it to your YouTube account.  Really, Google!?  Really!?  And, to add insult to injury, the Google Minus comments suck, according to the people who have actually done this.  I’ll admit I didn’t, so I’m taking their words for it.

I know what they’re thinking.  They’re thinking, “People don’t hate this product so much that they’d stop using YouTube to avoid it.”  Well, if they didn’t before, they do after this move.  YouTube is effectively dead.  But, when Google bought it, we knew this would happen eventually. I’m just surprised it took so long.

Those Damn Motorists Should Get Off The Road!!

I’m a cyclist.  Not one of those pretentious people that wears spandex shorts and rides around on a custom-built Colnago with a carbon fiber frame and a state-of-the-art backpack hydration system, all with no particular place to go.  Just your run of the mill rider of a garage sale bike with a few basic essential pieces of gear so I can get where I need to go without paying OPEC’s ungodly fuel prices.

As a cyclist, I mainly use the same roads the motorists use.  There are exceptions, however, because a bicycle is small enough where short cuts are possible, but as a general rule, I use the roads.

If you’re a motorist, let me give you a tip:  Don’t yell at cyclists.  Don’t honk your horn at them.  And, for God’s sake, don’t throw your garbage at them.  You’re not solving any problems, unless your problem is that you don’t feel you look like enough of a jackass, in which case, what you’re doing is overkill.

In order to solve your problem, you have to first understand it.  So, I will begin by explaining your problem, and then the solution should become clear to you.

Motorists are self-centred maniacs who don’t belong on the road.  No, really.  Hear me out.  Motorists are licensed drivers, which makes them ineligible for road travel.  To some of you, I’m not making sense, but bear with me.  Cyclists are unlicensed and unregistered, so we follow the rules of the road, in general, not because we’re appeasing government authority, but for our own well-being.  If we break the rules of the road, we die.  If you do it, you pay a couple bucks to the cops.  You only learned the rules so they would give you a license, and then you immediately forgot them.

So, you say you know the rules, do you?  How about a little test.  You’re on a two-lane road, in a no passing zone, and you approach a cyclist riding on the side of the road.  What do you do?

A.  Honk your horn

B. Yell that he get off the road

C.  Throw the leftovers of your fast food at him

D.  Wait until the no passing zone ends and then drive around him if the oncoming lane is clear

If you said anything but D, cut up your driver’s license right now and sell your car.  You have no business on the road.  I know you don’t like being forced to drive behind a cyclist, but the road is all of ours, and you’ll live with it.  If you don’t, get off the damn road.  Your kind is not welcome.  Cyclists hate you because you abuse them. Other motorists hate you because you’re the reason motorists are hated.

“But, Ceej!” you cry, “How am I supposed to get where I’m going without my car!”

Get on your bike and ride.  Let’s see how you like being treated this way.

Ceej: A Mental Breakdown – Part XXVI: Fear Of Commitment…

Previously on Ceej: A Mental Breakdown

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Part XXVI: Fear Of Commitment…

My appointment was only a week away, and I had to prepare for the worst.  Even though most of the two years I had been off my meds were a lot better than any of the time I had been on them, recent events were skewing public opinion about it, and they would no doubt skew Dr. Lachman’s.

I had to plan for the worst.  I was sure I was going to end up committed again and, this time, I wasn’t going to be caught off guard.  This time, I was going to be ready.  I wasn’t going to be ambushed.  I wasn’t going to be tricked.  I wasn’t going to have information withheld from me.  But, most of all, I wasn’t going to be without a plan…

My neighbour, Mike, understood what I was going through and agreed to help me.  He told me I was probably worrying over nothing but, if I wasn’t, he would be there.  He would help me out.  Anything that could be used against me in a commitment hearing, he sealed.  He wouldn’t even acknowledge it existed to me without a secret code word.  This was supposed to prevent me from asking for it under duress.

If I wasn’t home by 5:00, the other plan went into action.  They weren’t going to take me without a fight.  I was under their thumb for too long.  Now, they’re under mine.

I wasn’t going to tell her this, but going into Dr. Lachman’s office, I was terrified.  As I said, I was sure she was going to have me committed…

Stay tuned for Part XXVII…

 

 

New FAQ: “Why Do You Wear A Cape?”

Well, I’ve been meaning recently to have my FAQ’s page updated with a new question.  Problem is, there’s no short answer, so I guess I’ll have to do it here.

Often times, when people see me after a performance, or just out and about, they’ll come up to me and ask, “What’s with the cape?” or, “Why are you wearing a cape?”  The latter is usually only asked by people who don’t know me.  On the spot, I usually give some quick response that questions their view of social norms or sarcastically undermines the premise of their question.  This isn’t meant to be rude.  I just don’t have the time to give everyone a full answer, and I at least want to give them the intellectual tools to find it on their own.

My first cape was part of a costume where I was playing a stock cartoon villain in a live action production.  After production was finished, I got to keep the costume and I started wearing the cape with every day ensembles.  I liked it so much, I bought more capes for my wardrobe.  So, the short answer is, “Because I like it.”

But that’s not the answer people are looking for.  When people ask, “What’s with the cape?” what they’re really asking is, “How did you get the courage to buck social norms?” Very rarely, people actually ask that in more obvious language.  Often, they point and laugh or make rude comments about it.  This latter group isn’t yet ready for the answer and just wants to bring themselves up by tearing me down.

But, if you’re asking the question about the cape, at least now you know what you’re really asking, so now I can tell you the real answer.

As the great bard, William Shakespeare, once wrote, “To thine own self be true.”  Sure, there is an evolutionary benefit to following the herd, but we need to understand that instinct.  We need to know why we have it.  Then, we can begin to understand when we should do it, and when we should not.

Historically, if we alienated all the people in our lives, we would simply die.  That’s still the case today to a far lesser extent, but we have so many more options today.  Societal progression is a lot faster than evolution.  However, we still do need to fit in to some degree in order to successfully function in society.

Now, I’m not the best at picking up social cues, but I have noticed one thing. Whether your appearance fits in has little to do with whether you fit in.  If you look like everyone else, you’ll never meet new people because you won’t be noticed.  Sure, you don’t want to paint a swastika on your forehead or dress like a thug, but the little eccentricities in your appearance help you stand out.  Standing out can and does help you fit in.  Besides, where do you think trends come from?  Someone has to break the rules in order to set a new trend.

With Gene Simmons, it was clown make-up and a tongue he could lick his own arse with.  With Jedward, it was hair that couldn’t be messed up by a lightning strike.  With Lady Gaga, it was buying her outfits in meat and seafood department of the supermarket.  With me, it’s capes…  And, neck ties and vests over short-sleeved shirts…  Among other things.

So, whatever little eccentricity you always wanted to add to your wardrobe, go ahead.  Don’t be afraid of what people might think of it, or of you.  People who think less of you for wearing what makes you happy aren’t people you want to spend your time around anyway.  If you can’t even be free to be yourself, how can you ever expect to be free from the tyrannical influences in your life?

So, all this said, it finally makes sense when I tell you the real answer: I wear the cape for your freedom.

Ceej: A Mental Breakdown – Part XXV: Coming Clean…

Previously on Ceej: A Mental Breakdown…

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Part XXV: Coming Clean…

The sun was rising now.  I was almost sober.  I had to wait for Kevin to give me a ride home.

So, I was back at home…  Alone…  But, sober.  At least there was that.  Last night had been a horrible night.  Someone had put something in my drink.  Something bad.  Something that made me trip out.

There was a knock at the door.  It was my parents.  They wanted the keys to my brother’s car.  They also, for the first time in two years, wanted to know if I was off my meds.  I wasn’t going to lie to them.  But, this was not exactly the way I planned the two-year anniversary confession.  The timing made being off my meds appear responsible for recent events.

I thought, for sure, they’d understand I was tripping on something someone put in my drink, but they didn’t believe anyone did.  No one from last night did anymore either.  But, why not?  They believed it last night?  Kevin was the only one who had talked to all of them since they thought I was on drugs.

But, why?  What did he hope to gain from convincing everyone that my drink wasn’t drugged?  The only way I could see him having anything to gain was if he was the one who drugged it.  Something was really rubbing me the wrong way about him right now.

My parents weren’t going to force me to go back to the hospital, if I agreed to one condition.  To tell my psychiatrist that I had been off my meds for two years.  They were willing to concede the meds weren’t necessary, but I still had to get help some way.

In a way, they were right.  I had been having emotional issues recently.  I didn’t know what to do about that.  But telling Dr. Lachman that I’m off my meds, and have been for two years?  I was going back to the hospital for sure.

Continue to Part XXVI.

Ceej: A Mental Breakdown – Part XXIV: Force The Fit…

Previously on Ceej: A Mental Breakdown

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Part XXIV: Force The Fit…

No matter how much I thought about how it all began, I couldn’t find a beginning.  I just kept going backwards in time.  The further back I recalled, the more surreal it got.  Everything seems like a dream for me that far in the past anyway.  And, it didn’t help that I was tripping on some drug that someone slipped me when I wasn’t looking.

* * *

How far are we back now?  First grade?  No…  Kindergarten…  Sarah raised her hand and told the teacher that the hands on the clock here bent.

“Don’t worry about it,” the teacher said, “They’re always bent.”

“No,” Sarah insisted, “They’re bent like Ceej did it.”

“Like Ceej did it”?  And even back then, they took the word of someone who was clearly trying to sabotage me even without evidence, without listening to my denials.  I was punished for this.  Not just at school, but at home too.  I was coerced into confessing, and then punished, not just for doing it, but for lying about it.

But, that’s all I have to go on…  I can’t remember anything else that far back.  It’s gotta be relevant to something… If it really happened, anyway…

Okay, let’s move forward some.  First grade?  No, I still don’t remember first grade.  Second grade.  Everybody had a tribalist mentality that seemed natural to them, but I couldn’t understand.  I wasn’t really fitting in.  They expected me to be proud of America, to have school spirit, to pick a football team to support…  When I tried to understand, they just said, “That’s just the way the world is.”  Would I ever understand tribalism?  Is that why they ended up putting me on Ritalin and making me see doctors way back then?  Simply because I couldn’t understand their silly customs?  Simply because they couldn’t understand?

Of course they couldn’t even understand their own tribalism.  If they could, they could have explained it to me a little better than they did.

So, the drugs… The mental health stuff…  They weren’t just a cure for my problems gone bad.  They were the initial cause.  They were used to try to force me into their little worldview, and the plan totally backfired…

Of course, they deny the drugs had anything to do with my problems.  I was just born crazy.

Continue to Part XXV.

Ceej: A Mental Breakdown – Part XXIII: To Trip And Fall…

Previously on Ceej: A Mental Breakdown

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Part XXIII: To Trip And Fall…

The two-year anniversary of the day I had gotten completely off my meds was fast approaching, and so much had changed in the past two years, mostly for the better.  Damien had moved to Utah, and Alex had been so busy I barely heard from him anymore.  But, that was all right, I guess.  I had new friends now.

Recently, I had been feeling feelings I couldn’t explain…  Like, I was afraid…  But, of what?  I shrugged it off.  I couldn’t imagine what I could be afraid of.  Except, now I was afraid that I was feeling fear for no reason.  I didn’t want to talk to Dr. Lachman about it.  I hadn’t been locked up in seven years now, and I’d like to keep it that way.

But, I just couldn’t help but wonder why I felt this fear…

* * *

Kevin was going to take me to a bar tonight.  That should help me chill out and not worry about this stuff.  Except, I found out Kevin wasn’t going to take me to the bar.  He wanted me to take him.  In my brother’s car, no less.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to.  I knew I was going against my brother’s wishes.  Effectively, I was stealing his car.  But, what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him, I supposed.

He found out from Kevin…  Later that night.  I was freaking out, pushing people away, and even talking about running off somewhere else…  On foot.  How exactly did I get this way?  It looked like I was tripping on acid, I was told.

Acid?  LSD?  The stuff that makes you hallucinate?  I don’t remember any hallucinations.  And how could I have taken LSD without my knowing about it?  Was it when I left my drink unattended at the bar?

By all accounts, while it was happening, I was tripping on something.  But why?  Who would do this to me?  What were they hoping to accomplish?  Kevin had me captured and locked in his room.  He said it was because he cared about me.  He wanted me to come down before he would let me drive home.  But, he called my parents.  He called my brother.  And he told them I was having an “episode.” So, here I was, in his bedroom, freaking out.  Freaking out not just like I was before, but also about whether I was going to get locked up again.

Of course, I couldn’t sleep.  All I could do was think…  Try to remember…  Remember what?  How it all started, maybe?

Continue to Part XXIV.

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