Pique My Pinterest

A few weeks ago, I finally joined Pinterest after seeing the name of this virtual pinboard join the ranks of Facebook and Twitter on people’s websites. Surprisingly, I took an immediate liking to it, with its intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Pinterest Profile

Pinterest is a nicely packaged solution to a common problem I’ve had in the past with bookmarking. After I bookmark a page in my browser or on Evernote, I very rarely actually re-visit these pages. Maybe they’re really not as interesting as I initially thought, or the concept of “out of sight, out of mind” applies. Pinterest takes the simple, traditional idea of a pin board (when have I ever actually used one in real life? Maybe once, or twice, in the 90’s) and translates it to fit our digital lifestyles on the intarwebz.

Pinterest Board

Historically, Tumblr has been the platform of choice for visual-centric niches – namely, anything related to design or fashion. Pinterest’s method of collating “pinned” images in sets and collections makes it so much easier to browse through chunks of them without needing to scroll forever or press “next 5” x 100. The ability to create different board is fantastic for those of us who are OCD about organization :) And overall, it’s a great place to discover new ideas and find inspiration, although the popular ones do get repeated quite often.

One of my favorite aspects of individual pin pages is that they reference 1. who you repinned from (if applicable) and 2. the original source of the image. No more clicking through seemingly endless trails of reblogs a la Tumblr, only to arrive at the original post and find that there’s no source listed /fail

Pinterest Givenchy Boots

Naturally, there’s still plenty of room for improvement – for example, it’s difficult to find new people to follow. While they provide suggestions when you sign up based on the list of interests you provide, it’s not very easy to find new people after that. A separate recommendations section based on pins that you’ve liked/repinned or people you already follow would be helpful in this instance.

It’ll be interesting to see how brands utilize this service – it’d be silly for them to not take advantage of targeting such a concentrated group of users with overlapping interests in design, decoration, crafts, cooking, traveling… and the list could go on and on.

TL;DR: Pinterest has won me over – I’m a fan!

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Two Goals for the Summer

Yes, I’m a slackuh. I haven’t been posting weekly like before, but let’s be honest – I was really cheating with those pre-edited pre-posted photos that just happened to fit in with the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge ;)

Throughout the month of May, I finished editing and posting up all of my Antarctica photos on my flickr account, with very basic titles & tags. I managed to fulfill my earlier goal of hitting the 300MB/month upload cap and subsequently upgraded to a pro account. I’m now in the process of re-uploading some of the photos, since I was a silly noob and originally saved the first batch to Adobe RGB mode rather than sRGB, which resulted in dull colors, doh!

Which leads to Goal Numero Uno: Finish Since Antarctica. Currently, a few informational pages have been published, like what I packed & wore, general expedition information, and a map of our route. Next up are the logs of what we did/saw each day, accompanied by photos – some days will be split into multiple parts, so they don’t become too image heavy.

On a related note, working with the Antarctica site has to lots of WordPress theme tweaking, since I scrapped the old layout and redid it from scratch, or more accurately, from starkers. While I’m vaguely familiar with php, I’d like to become more proficient in the language for ease of adjusting functions and possibly creating custom ones. I know there are a lot of limitations, but it’s definitely the language I work alongside most frequently (at least, for now).

From what I’ve heard, learning php is easier and more intuitive with a background in a object oriented language, which leads to Goal Numero Dos: Learn an object-oriented programming language. I’ll start with Berkeley’s CS10 course, and go from there. I haven’t yet decided on a specific language, but I’m leaning towards C#. Why C#? I’m not nearly hardcore enough to dive into a language like C++, and I want to stick to a C language that shares common syntax with others. If anyone has a suggestion or tips, I would love to hear them!

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Off the Grid

This is technically a twofer – it refers to topics #81: Finish an old draft and #37: Could you live without the internet?. (Also, Michelle poked me to update!)

My initial response to this question is yes, I can live without the internet. Live as in eat, drink and any other necessities for keeping oneself generally alive. But can I really live without it?

It’s interesting how we’ve become so dependent on the internet and connectivity in general. I had a similar discussion with my cousins at a Chinese New Year dinner, one of whom has held out on upgrading her old school flip phone to a smartphone. Back when the iPhone first came out, I resisted buying one for the longest time. I usually carried my laptop with me on campus, where there was plenty of wifi, so why would I need an iPhone at school? I also had an iPod touch, which I carried everywhere – that doubly cancelled out the benefits of an iPhone in my daily life.

People would then ask, “But what about when you’re not near public wifi? Like if you need a map or directions while walking in the city?” It’s true, having Google Maps at your fingertips is incredibly helpful when you’re lost in the city. However, I need directions the most when I’m driving – holding an iPhone while trying to follow a map wouldn’t be so useful (or safe for the world) in that instance. Maybe I’m old fashioned – I always look up maps and directions at home, before I set out (and sometimes even print them out. Gasp, I know).

But hold up, printing out these maps does still require internet and general technology. Using printed books of maps seems so foreign now, but it really wasn’t so long ago that we’d have to look up directions to San Francisco using the old fashioned method. Just a few years back, the most efficient method of getting directions involved asking a wise, sage person for their personal route. If you were venturing to an address in the wild unknown (read: somewhere in LA, where streets extend through multiple cities) with zero knowledge of block numbers, well, good luck with that. I still have an entire glove compartment full of California maps, should I have the horrible luck of my GPS and phone dying on me. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen, ever.

Oops, I’m really starting to go on a tangent here. To wrap this up, staying in places like Costa Rica and Antarctica for a week (or more) each with no internet, no connectivity, nada, was easy. In fact, that disconnectivity (I think this is actually a math term, but you know what I mean) let us really enjoy everything as it was and as it is. Especially for Antarctica – it was great feeling like we were isolated from the rest of the world, in both the physical and technological sense. A family friend joked that we had no idea what was going on outside of the southern continent – for all we knew, the rest of the world could have been in complete chaos, and the unexpected extension of the trip was saving us from impending doom.

However, this isn’t so much the case for living in San Francisco, the real world (for most of us). So many businesses and jobs use social media and internet technology to boost engagement and provide convenience for customers. Even the bakery down the street from our office uses Square, which requires internet as part of its functionality. Chasing down food trucks like a crazy person? You’ll need to find updates on the internet. Friends connect through email, facebook event invites (so many invites are now online vis-a-vis evite and eventbrite), and tweets. Why call only one person, if you can interact with 20 at the same time via internet?

TLDR; Yes, I can live without internet – in certain circumstances, going off the grid would be preferable. However, it would be very very hard to be disconnected in my daily life, in a world that’s already fully immersed.

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