social media, and comics, and RSS

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about social media and related stuff.

First, I got off the waiting list for Post not long after I wrote yesterday’s blog entry. So I now have an account there. So far, it’s mostly dog and cat photos, and “hello world” posts. So I guess I’ll just keep an eye on that and see if it develops into something interesting or not.

I also signed up for an account on Hive today, after reading an article about how a bunch of comic book creators are moving to Hive. But their email verification system was down today, so I couldn’t complete the account registration. Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I decided to finally pay $5 to update to the latest version of Reeder for iOS, then also talked myself into paying $10 for Reeder for macOS. And I went through my RSS subscriptions in The Old Reader and organized things a bit and added some more subscriptions. So maybe I can convince myself to spend more time in RSS vs. Facebook and Twitter.

Also meanwhile, GoComics might be back up! It’s not coming up for me right now, but apparently it was for some people, earlier today. So maybe I’ll be able to read Garfield tomorrow morning. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Oh, and one more thing: the unread count on my “read/review” folder in my email is now at an even 6000. So, really, I’m not going to run out of stuff to read on the internet any time soon.

Social media alternatives

I’m still using Twitter, despite all of the Elon Musk nonsense. I access it only via Twitterrific, which makes it much nicer than via the official app or website. (No ads, and a simple reverse-chronological feed.) Still, I’m looking around at alternatives, both in terms of social media platforms, and in terms of “things to do on the internet” in general.

I signed up for an account on CounterSocial, but I don’t see much of a point to that. And I got myself on the waiting list for Post, which sounds interesting, but I can’t do anything there until I get to the top of the waiting list, I guess. I’ve looked at Mastodon,  but I haven’t set up an account there, partially because I’m not sure which server I should use. So I haven’t really hit on anything that “replaces” Twitter.

Meanwhile, I re-subscribed to GoComics recently, and I’ve been reading my daily comic strip email every morning in place of my early-morning Twitter browsing, and that’s been good… until this weekend, when GoComics seems to have gotten hacked or something. There’s not much info out there on the outage, so I have no clue how long it’s going to last or if I should be worrying about my credit card number.

ComicsKingdom is the other big comic strip site. I don’t subscribe to that one, but I’ve been thinking about it. They had a minor outage today, but apparently just a blip. It’s back up again.

So, moving on from comics, I’ve also tried to get back into reading stuff via RSS feeds. I still have an account at The Old Reader, and follow a bunch of news sources and blogs via that account. I use Reeder on iOS/iPadOS to browse the account, and I just use The Old Reader web interface on my Mac and PC. I keep thinking I should switch from The Old Reader to something fancier like Feedly or NewsBlur, but I never get too far with that.

I’ve also been trying to catch up a bit on my backlog of email newsletters. I’m currently on April 2021, so about a year and a half behind. I have them all in a “read/review” folder. Sometimes, I sort it “newest first” and look at some of the new stuff, but usually I sort it “oldest first” and just read through the old ones and discard them as I go. I feel like I should just delete a bunch of the old ones all at once, and maybe “fast forward” a year or so. I’ve thought about doing that a few times, but I can never talk myself into doing it.

So I guess I have plenty of stuff to use to distract myself, outside of Twitter. It’s always fun to spend a little time evaluating sites, sources, and tools, and tweaking things a bit.

Not at NYCC

Well, it’s Saturday, and I’m keeping an eye on NYCC, but I’m not feeling like it was a mistake to skip out on it. I’m feeling a bit better today, after just staying home and resting on Thursday and Friday. I’d probably be in pretty bad shape if I’d tried going to NYCC this week.

It sounds like mask compliance and enforcement at NYCC hasn’t been great. I’m not really surprised at that. But it’s another little indicator helping to convince me that staying home was the right decision.

There’s plenty of news coming out of NYCC. Popverse has a lot. (They’re owned by Reedpop, so they’re kind of the “official” place for NYCC news, I guess.) The Beat has a lot too. I’m so far behind on my reading and watching that there’s just not much point in me watching any of these panels. The Star Trek panels might be fun, but I still haven’t watched the second season of Picard or the fourth season of Discovery yet. The LoTR: The Rings of Power panel might be fun, but I still haven’t started watching season one yet. (If I were going, by the way, this article from space.com has a good list of interesting panels.)

Back on the subject of COVID, Dr Fauci seems to be doing a little interview tour through New York and New Jersey. He was on Colbert’s show on Thursday, and he actually went and got his bivalent booster shot as part of his appearance there. The segment was kind of corny, but if it convinces anyone to go and get boosted, then it was worth it, I guess.

Fauci also appeared on NJ PBS’ Chat Box with David Cruz this week. I was kind of surprised to see someone at his level show up there. I don’t know how many viewers Chat Box has, but I can’t imagine that it’s a lot. Anyway, it was a pretty good interview, though of course most of Fauci’s answers are fairly predictable at this point. Cruz, at one point asks him “Are you optimistic that we can avoid, just, destroying ourselves?” which is a pretty depressing question, but one I keep asking myself too. (Spoiler: Fauci’s answer isn’t that reassuring…)

giving up on NYCC

I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not I really wanted to go to NYCC this year. The show is next weekend, so I really needed to make a decision now. I’m sick this weekend, and I was sick last weekend, so I decided this morning that assuming I’ll be well enough to go into NYC next weekend was maybe not a good bet. And, if I am well enough to go in, assuming that I’ll get through the con without getting sick again was probably also a bad bet.

So I went ahead and returned my ticket. NYCC uses a service called Lyte to handle ticket returns and resales. The process was pretty simple. Four-day badges are sold out and there’s clearly still demand for them, so my “refund” was for basically the full value of the ticket. So I’m only out the $20 delivery fee. (And I still get to keep the $30 shirt I bought.) Lyte seems to be reselling the four-day badges at about a $50 markup.

I guess Lyte is tied into ShowClix, which handles tickets for NYCC, and automatically invalidates the badge. Still, they required me to fill out a separate Google Form and upload an image of my badge, cut in two. I’m assuming an actual human being will need to review that and click an “OK” button somewhere to validate the return, so it’s not a completely automated process.

The refund should be issued through PayPal on October 10, right after the con. PayPal wouldn’t be my preferred way to get that money back, but it’s good enough, I guess.

In addition to worrying about COVID, and my “general health” thing, I’ve also found that I’m just not that enthusiastic about anything going on at the con this year. I haven’t really fully read through the panel schedule or scheduled guest list, but from what I’ve seen, nothing is really a must-see for me. I’d probably find more than enough fun stuff to do, if I went, but there’s nothing that’s really calling out to me.

So now I also have three scheduled PTO days that I need to decide if I still want to take or if I want to cancel those too. I actually feel like I could use the time off, so I guess I’ll keep those, and just spend some time puttering around the apartment, catching up on some reading, and watching some TV.

 

COVID boosters, iPhones, and NYCC

After dithering back and forth on whether or not I should get another COVID booster shot, I decided today that I should. I read this article in the NY Times this morning, and I guess that’s what convinced me. That, plus reading the replies to this tweet from Tom Tomorrow, where he asked about people’s recent experiences with COVID. Yikes, yeah, I don’t want that. I made an appointment for Monday, at the CVS in Bridgewater.

Meanwhile, my iPhone should have shown up today. The UPS guy came and went and just left a sticky note. I’m pretty sure he didn’t ring the doorbell, though my doorbell is a little iffy so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. The sticky note says that I can pick it up at… the CVS in Bridgewater! So maybe I can pick up the iPhone and get my booster shot at the same time!

Honestly, if the iPhone is available there tomorrow, I’ll make a special trip and go get it. But I know it might not be available until “next business day,” so that would be Monday.

Monday is about two and a half weeks before NYCC, so that should be a reasonable amount of time for the shot to take effect. So if I decide to go to NYCC, I will at least be as vaxxed as possible.

Old Habits, follow-up

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s Old Habits post.

On the E-ZPass thing: I’d posted a request on the E-ZPass website, asking them to keep the account open, and surprisingly, they responded, and told me that they’d keep it open for another year, but would close it in a year if there’s still no activity. So now I guess I have a year to drive through a toll plaza at least once. I guess if I go another year without driving on the Parkway or Turnpike, then I should just admit that I’m not the kind of person who drives on the Parkway or Turnpike anymore.

On NYCC: I activated my badge today. It was less annoying this year than in previous years, since I only had the one 4-day badge, rather than 4 one-day badges. Badge activation is still a pain though. (See this post from 2017 for the full rant. Most of the stuff in that post is still true.)

On football: The Giants won! And it was a pretty exciting game. So, yeah, I guess I’m going to be watching football this year, at least for a while. If the Giants collapse and wind up on a six-game losing streak or something like that, they I’ll probably stop.

Watching the NFL is a little more complicated than it used to be, but most games are still on regular broadcast TV, so I shouldn’t have any trouble watching them. Thursday night games are now on Amazon Prime, which I do have, so I can watch those too. Monday Night games are mostly on ESPN, which I don’t have, but some of them (including tonight’s game) are on ABC, so I can watch those. This article has some details on the schedule. (Of course, I may just stick with the Giants games, and skip all the random Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday night games.)

I’ve noticed that there a lot of clickbait articles out there with titles like “How to Watch X Without Cable”, where X is baseball, or football, or tennis, or whatever. And they’re all basically just trying to drive traffic through affiliate links to DirecTV, Hulu, and other services that offer cable channels over the internet. There must be a lot of money in those affiliate links, since so many people are posting these articles. And very few of them actually have any useful info in them. They mostly just seem to be copy & paste from a template, then tweak for a particular sport or event. Oh well. I guess that’s how folks running web sites make money these days. Can’t blame them for doing that.

Old Habits

I’ve been thinking lately about old habits, and inertia, and what I should be examining and rethinking. A lot of this is due to the change in seasons.

And a little is due to a letter I got in the mail from E-ZPass last week. Apparently, I haven’t used my E-ZPass since 2019, so they’re going to close out my account. I was a little surprised by this, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that it’s true. The last time I drove on the Parkway or Turnpike was June 22, 2019, according to my E-ZPass history. Looking at my Day One journal, I see that I’d gone down to Whiting on that day, to visit my old friend Gloria’s family, and to visit the cemetery. And I haven’t been down there since. I’ve thought about visiting the cemetery on multiple occasions over the last few years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

I guess I can keep my E-ZPass account active if I use it within the next couple of weeks. So maybe I should drive down to the cemetery and say hello to my parents. Or I could just give up on E-ZPass and return it.

Another thing I’m thinking about, and this one is definitely related to the change in seasons, is football. I haven’t paid much attention to the NFL the last few years, but I’m going to give it a try again this year. Today is the first Sunday of the season, and I’m currently watching the Jets game. I’ll watch the Giants game at 4 PM too, and maybe the Sunday night game on NBC after that. Or maybe not. I’m not paying a lot of attention to the Jets game right now, but I’m getting a nice feeling of comfort and familiarity from it. Just the sound of the game in the background is kind of nice, especially on a rainy Sunday in September.

I just googled “comfort of the familiar” and found some interesting stuff. It can be a good thing and a bad thing. I don’t think there’s any harm in getting some comfort from the sounds of a football game. But if I find that it’s not doing much for me, there’s also no harm in turning it off and reading a book.

On another subject, I just got my badge for NYCC in the mail. I still have plenty of time to decide if I’m actually going or not. I haven’t made a hotel reservation. If I go, I guess I’ll just take the train in each day. And if I don’t go, I’m out $210, unless I can resell my badge to someone else, but that’s not a big deal if that’s the way it goes. I’m fine either way.

I just looking at Evernote and Day One, trying to figure out when the last time I’d been in NYC was. When I went up to Albany in March, I spent an hour or so in NYC, to switch trains. But the last time I really did anything in NYC was October 2021, for last year’s NYCC. I’d thought about going in for some museum visits on various weekends this summer, but just never got around to it. So I’m wondering if I should keep paying for my Met and MoMA memberships, or let them expire.

I’m starting to wonder if my life is ever going to get back to what it used to be, pre-COVID. And I’m wondering if I actually want it to, or need it to. Part of me is fine with my “new normal” of spending a lot more time in my apartment, and a lot more time closer to home, in general. I need to think about what I should hold on to, and what I should let go of.

COVID, and NYCC, and iPhones, and other stuff

It’s been about a month since I’ve last posted here, and I have a backlog of stuff in my head that I’ve been meaning to post about. And a number of things came up today that seem like they might be worth mentioning.

Also, I might be a little jumpy from my afternoon cappuccino, so this post might go all over the place…

NYCC announced their mask policy for this year today. In short, they’re requiring masks, but not vaccination. The con is happening in about a month (October 6-9) and I still haven’t decided if I’m going or not. I’ve been keeping an eye on the news, with regard to whether or not there will be a fall surge, and how bad it might be. I just don’t know… I know they mailed out badges this week, so I’ll have those soon. If I decide not to use them, then that’s OK.

I listened to a bit of Andy Ihnatko’s Material podcast today, and he started it out with a bit of a “sermon” on masking and COVID. He mentioned something in there about his own decision-making regarding an upcoming comic con in his area (Boston?), and his thinking seems to be pretty much the same as mine.

I was sick all of Labor Day weekend. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t COVID, and I’m not sure where I picked up… whatever it was. At work, I’m one of a very few people who are still wearing a mask around the office. I did go to a couple of large in-person meetings recently, so maybe I picked something up in one of those. But I also went out for a beer and a burger with an old friend Friday night, so maybe that’s where it came from. (Though we were sitting outside for that, so there should have been less chance of picking up anything airborne, vs. being indoors.)

I honestly think I’m getting sick more often lately. The prevailing wisdom on that seems to be that spending too much time alone, indoors, has left my immune system unprepared for normal levels of airborne… stuff. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I need to spend more time with other people?

On another matter entirely, I paid some attention to Apple’s iPhone event today, though I was too busy at work to catch everything. My iPhone XR is now over three years old, so it’s probably time to replace it. The iPhone 14 looks… fine. If I stick with the standard iPhone 14, then I don’t think it’ll be that much different from my XR. It’s the same form factor (I think) and still has the notch. It seems to have a much better camera though, which is nice, I guess. The iPhone 14 Pro has some snazzy features, though I don’t think I really need them enough to spend $200 more than for the regular 14. (Yeah, that “Dynamic Island” thing is cute, but I don’t need it.)

I also have a bunch of work stuff I want to blog about, but I really need to organize that all first. So I guess this will just be an NYCC / COVID / iPhone post.

Sandman

My Twitter feed has been full of Sandman TV news for the last month or two, mostly due to Neil Gaiman relentlessly tweeting about it. Sometimes, when a writer goes into “relentless promotion mode” on Twitter, I unfollow them, at least for a while. (I don’t hold it against them; it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, given the way Twitter works for most people and the general difficulty in rising above the noise.) But Gaiman is so genial about it that it doesn’t bother me the same way it does when, say, Kevin Smith does it. (Again, I love Kevin Smith too. I just get tired of him sometimes.) There was a lot of promotional stuff about the show at SDCC too. I watched a bit of that on YouTube.

Sandman was one of my favorite comics. I haven’t gone back and reread any of it in a long time, but I bought it issue by issue when it was first coming out, and also bought the first few graphic novel collections. It was first published at a time when I was buying a fair number of old-fashioned “floppy” comics every month, and it was always one of the best.

So I’ve been looking forward to the Netflix TV adaptation. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be any good, but I was at least cautiously optimistic. It was released on Friday, and I wound up watching the first few episodes yesterday. So far, I like it a lot. It seems to me that it’s always just on the verge of tipping over into unintentional camp, but it’s done so well that it just carries you along. Maybe if you haven’t read the comics, it would be harder to “buy in” to it, and you’d just find it silly. But, for me, it’s just right. There’s some humor, but none of the winking self-aware stuff that you see in some other comics adaptations.

A lot of folks have had good things to say about the casting for this show. While I think that it all works, some of it seems just on the verge of not working, in the same way that the whole show almost doesn’t work. For instance, I love Patton Oswalt, but he’s almost a bit too snarky. And Gwendoline Christie is almost too weird to be Lucifer, but she pulls it off. (The whole scene between Morpheus and Lucifer is a bit over the top, really. I think a more cautious adaptation would have toned that down, or made it more conventional, but then it just wouldn’t have been as effective.)

Anyway, my plan for this post was just to link to a couple of interesting reviews of the show, but then the preamble got a little out of control… The reviews in question are this one from the Ebert site, and this one from NPR. They’re almost diametrically opposed. The former seems to think it’s a little too faithful to the comics. The latter think that it’s changed just enough to address some of the shortcomings in the original. I guess I’m more on the side of the NPR one.

And, just for yuks, here’s a link to a Gaiman interview in the NY Times, which I haven’t read yet, and to the NY Times review of the show (which I also still haven’t read).

not at SDCC, day one

Wow, today is the first full day of SDCC. I’ve been so busy this month, since the July 4th incident, that it kind of snuck up on me. I had, at one point, though about taking a few vacation days to coincide with SDCC, and just spend a few days decompressing, reading comics, and absorbing whatever interesting news comes out of the con. But I didn’t do that. And, at this point, if I tried to take a vacation day, I’d probably get laughed at. I’ll try to take a few days next month, maybe.

I never seriously considered actually going to the con this year. I assumed it would be near impossible to get tickets (as it usually is), plus I’m still not comfortable in large crowds, nor am I enthusiastic about cross-continental air travel right now. The con is requiring folks to be both masked and vax’ed, so that’s good. But this BA.5 thing is scary, even with full vaccination. My feelings about COVID-19 at this point are mostly in line with this Jigsaw video from today.

Anyway, we’ve got record heat going on here in NJ right now. San Diego sure would be a nice place to be. Looks like it’ll be mid-70s there all weekend, while we might hit 100 here on Sunday. Maybe I’ll have time to watch a few panels over the weekend, or maybe read the program book PDF. Sigh.