Monday, January 28, 2013

Thoughts on Journaling

I've tried to keep a journal numerous times; They've all failed.

I've tried paper journaling, journaling using applications, and even journaling with a cloud service that syncs your journals to all your devices (it's a very beautiful application for Mac and iOS devices called Day One). And a question popped into my head today: Why do a lot of journaling attempts fail? Especially, it seems, in today's generation.

Nowadays, copious amounts of people in the world have some sort of an account on a social networking site whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. What do all of these have in common? They're archives. For example, although I don't use Facebook anymore, I can still log into my account and look at my posts from years back, detailing how I was on a specific day or showing how I saw the world that day via a picture I posted at a specific time.

We don't need journals today because we journal without even recognizing we're doing it. We post things we like, things we're thinking, relationship problems, thoughts about our life, school, work, etc; basically, most of us post a lot of information about our personality and lives. And as long as these websites are functional (or there will be someway to access or download an archive of our data), we'll be able to log onto Instagram in 30 years and show our kids what the sunset looked on a specific date.

Isn't that awesome?!

But there are of course problems with this. The first is the information you would put online versus in a private journal (whether via paper or an application). Sure, we post a lot of information about ourselves online, but there are still some things that we wouldn't want people to know about. Maybe an embarrassing health issue or a certain grade we got on a test. The majority of us probably filter mostly the good or the interesting of our lives to display online.

And really, that could be related to a lack of seriousness in (mostly) youth today. My English teacher showed us this really interesting article that left an impression on me called "How to Live Without Irony" and I highly suggest you read it. If you find you are too lazy to read it, it basically describes some of the movements of today, such as the hipster movement, as trying to not being true to yourself and liking things that are "cool" instead of liking things that you actually think our cool... I hope that made sense.

The point is, although people shouldn't post every gory detail about your life online, it shouldn't be normal or considered okay to make an online persona totally different to your own. I'm not talking about posing as your mom on Facebook or something, I'm talking about revealing only your good side or, even worse, making things up to make yourself seem really "cool" and "awesome". Be who you are. Tell people of your accomplishments, your failures, and just be human.

Am I guilty of not being truly who I am online? Probably. And probably many others as well. I'm not trying to get down on anyone, but it's just so easy to be different from who you really are online and I know many people do it. So my advice to you is to just be yourself online as I try to do, although I'm not perfect.

My mom keeps a journal and she's been keeping journals since she was little. There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, to turn to. Just her and her thoughts.

And maybe one of the reasons we don't keep private journals anymore is because we find it boring to talk to a book. I mean let's face it, would you rather post on Facebook that you won a 1st place gymnastics trophy today and get some likes and comments from others telling you how awesome that is, or would you rather write in a book which gives you a pale, white stare? When you posting something online, there's a chance someone will see it; there's a chance that someone will think of you for a moment or even take action to like it or tell you how much you like it. With a journal, especially because there's much more private information in it than a social networking site, you're most likely going to be the only person to ever see what you wrote. And twenty years from now, when feeling a bit nostalgic, are you really going to go on to look at your old Facebook posts in a nice, organized, chronologically-ordered list or are you going to try to leaf through your paper journal to try to find an interesting time in your life (hopefully, you bookmarked those parts)? Although this problem of trying to find something manually can be solved by a journal application, since it's a journal there's going to be a lot of superfluous and uninteresting information that only applied to that day. Isn't it still going to be burdensome trying to find something to read versus seeing what cool, outdated links you Tweeted that one day?

Really, it seems the only point of keeping a journal now is if you like to record your day in great detail (maybe to relieve stress or because you know you'd find that interesting in the future), to put down sensitive information, or because you don't trust social networking sites with their longevity as a service or their privacy policies. It seems like a lot of people don't really care about these because there are a stunning lack of journal takers it seems, at least in my generation.

But regardless, keep journaling journalers, like my mom, and keep posting social butterflies. If you've never tried journaling, I suggest you try it, just for a little while; you might just find it's your cup of tea.

 - Aidan

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Back to Square One

It feels like eight months ago.

Eight months ago, I was barely a speck of dust to the Internet. Sure on Youtube I had slight success with some videos, but on all of the other social networks I had nothing. Fifteen followers on Twitter, four views on each video I posted, nothing on Google+, etc. People cared somewhat about my videos and not me. I was kind of depressed about that, although really I shouldn't be. However, shortly after acquiring my (now ex) girlfriend, she quickly surpassed me in terms of internet popularity somehow (something to do with furry voodoo magic); she promoted me to her hundreds of followers and I got more views on my content which made me happy.

However, she's gone now. Well, I guess not technically gone, but she's not promoting me anymore. Through my experiences with her I've learned many things. One of which is that I can't rely on others to promote my content. I need to be liked and known not because of sympathy because someones boyfriend is not popular or because I'm some cool chicks boyfriend; I need to be known for me, for what I make. That's not to say that promoting your friend/significant other is bad in any way, and really that couldn't be farther from the truth. But if that's the only reason this person is getting recognized after a while then that's a problem.

So, either I'm not doing a good enough job advertising or maybe the content itself is not good enough. Or maybe I just need more time, though I doubt this because I've been putting content on the web for about two and a half years. And I don't really know how to solve the problem of advertising as I can't really do much with my current financial and social position. But one thing I know I can improve and work more on is the content. I have been starting to make more music lately. In fact, I'm working on two (most likely) full length tracks right now. I am being very heavily inspired by the works of C418 and Owl City as my pieces are starting to have an electronic almost ambient tone to them. For example, while working on one yesterday I thought to myself, "Wow, this would sound really good in a documentary". I am still trying to figure out my unique musical style. Through making the music I'm making I'll hopefully be able to figure it out and use it to my advantage. It would be really cool to eventually make an album and I even have ideas for an album/artist name although those are really just fantasies at this point. Sometime in the future, I might show sneak peaks of these things and make smaller, shorter pieces to expand my musical portfolio.

In short, one thing I have learned is to depend on yourself and not others for what you produce. It's your work, not theirs.

 - Aidan

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Piano Teacher Went Crazy

I had to write this two days after the incident because I didn't have time.

So I went to my piano lesson a few days ago as usual, expecting to have another lesson as usual. My mom had driven by her house thirty minutes earlier (our houses are in the same neighborhood) and she noticed a police car at the house. It was when we actually went to the house that we figured out why the police were there.

We went in, sat down, and listened to the police officer talk to my teacher's husband about "missing persons" and things along those lines. It was after he left that he told us what actually happened.

My teacher had woken up at 7:30 that morning which, according to her husband, was normal. She would sometimes get up, read email, go shopping, things along those lines. He said when he had gotten up at 9:30 and noticed she was gone, he didn't give much thought to it. However, when she didn't come home a few hours later, he started worrying and called a house that she was supposed to go to to give a piano lesson. He told the family to inform him if she never came to the house. She never did.

After that, he got even more worried and started calling her. When that didn't work, he called local hospitals in an attempt to find her. He eventually had to call in to the police and report her as a missing person which was about the time we came. He told us this and would inform us of any updates to the situation.

That night, my friend's parents (my friend happens to go to the same piano teacher as me) took the husband to the airport because he had read on their bank account online that a plane ticket to Washington D.C. had been purchased with their credit card. When they got to the airport, they found their car which she had taken off with; the keys were still in the ignition and the doors were unlocked.

This part of the story I'm a little fuzzy on but I believe what happened next is they called the airport that the plane ticket had gone to and asked the security if they would look in their airport for my teacher after being unsuccessful in the airport they were at. Security agreed and sure enough my teacher had been sitting there for about 7 hours. Thankfully, American Airlines sent her back home on a flight and she's now at home and at a hospital.

Why did this happen? A few years ago, my teacher had a battle with a brain tumor and had to stop teaching for three months. Apparently, the tumor has been growing all this time and affected a part of her brain that made her act the way she did.

I hope she gets better and is able to teach again soon. I don't know how much and how permanent the damage to her brain is, but it might mean I have to switch teachers. Certificate of Merit, an annual piano test I take), is in about two months and I still need practice. I might have to go to another teacher. Not to mention I have a recital next week.

So yeah, this was a weird, disturbing experience for me. Any prayers and thoughts about her would be appreciated.

 - Aidan

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Satisfied Customers

So, as you may or may not know, I've started doing commissions for thirty second pieces of music for only $3. I've already made five pieces and you can listen to and download them here. And by the way, if you want information for how to order one, go here.

But anyways, the real point of this blog post was to show some of the emails I've gotten from people who have ordered a piece from me. Along with each quote, I will include a link to a picture of the email, just so you know that I'm not making this stuff up X3 The first one's from the first piece I ever made called "Rue's Getting Angry" for Gir Zim:
"...It most certainly satisfied my requests! I really REALLY like it! And sorry it took so long to reply...

This is excellent! And really cool, so thanks again!

-Zimgir (ᗡog)"
 Photo of email

This next one is from Hybrid when I composed the piece "Approaching the House" for him:

"...i don't mind the wait, it was worth it
i have to say though, i was a little disappointed that the piano was a little overpowered most of the time
but i love that you added the rain and thunder sounds <3
that really helped paint the picture of walking up to an old house
overall it was a great piece, thank you very much"
Photo of email

This next one is for when I did the piece "Into the Cosmos" for @TehDeminz on Twitter and he Tweeted me: 

"@throughthemines That is amazing. @.@ It's a lot more than I was expecting x3 I definitely love spacey music. :3"
Link to Tweet

And by the way, whenever I get one of these my heart pretty much melts inside so thank-you so much to whoever sends me feedback :3

So, I guess if you were still unsure to commission me even after listening to the music, this is more incentive to, I guess X3

Thanks for reading,

 - Aidan

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Apple: It's Not About Features, It's About the Experience

Hey, we're going along with a technology theme, huh?

So, Apple recently released a commercial that I found... interesting.

So, let me tell you what I, an Apple guy, think about this commercial.

Eh, not feeling it.

Don't get me wrong, the Do Not Disturb feature is great and acts just like the commercial says. But I kind of had the reaction that @TehDeminz had when he Tweeted me and said "... So their selling point for that commercial is a glorified snooze button, and they used ping pong to do it? #wat". Like I said, it's a good feature but it's not one of the best prominent features of the iPhone. It seems like Advertising couldn't think of anything more significant to advocate. At least if you're going to advocate this feature, do it with other more significant and impactful features.

(and as a side note, the whole premise of the commercial was just weird. I've never dreamt of two chicks playing ping pong with me, but hey, maybe that's just me)

For example, Apple in the past has done commercials where they focus on a specific type of person. Like this one that focuses on shopping:

Sending pictures or going online with your phone was nothing revolutionary. But being able to figure out a great gift for your wife, cheaply and quickly is what Apple's trying to sell. They're trying to sell an experience instead of above which is a feature. This "feature selling" is apparent in some of their other recent ads as well, such as this one touting noise cancellation:

Noise cancellation is great, but when is the Average Joe going to be drowned out by an orchestra? How about instead, he asks Siri where the nearest Starbucks is and then he goes to get a coffee and pays for it with Passbook. Then while on a bustling city street outside, he gets a call from his wife telling him to meet her at a café (while talking to his wife, the city sounds grow fainter, suggesting noise cancellation). Then using Siri again, he gets directions and using the turn-by-turn navigation in Maps, is able to get to her. I included four features in that commercial, but it wasn't a commercial, it was an experience; a real life scenario. Apple isn't about features, they're about experiences. That's one of the things that makes them so great and different from other technology companies (or at least, usually different). One awesome example is from their competitor, Google.

First of all, you have an adorable child and a mother (+50 points). But, while you see distinct capabilities of the Nexus (e-book reading, 3D gaming, apps, Siri-esque capabilities), that's not the focus or the point of the commercial. The point is that this Nexus is helping a child fuel her curiosity (which, oddly enough is the name of the commercial and the name of the rover that just went to Mars) for space and for reading which is not only cute and adorable to regular people, but is further impactful for moms who now see this device as something that can be beneficial to their child. That's what Google gave to me and to probably many others. Isn't that better than noise-cancellation or a Do Not Disturb Feature?

So basically, I'd like to see more commercials from Apple based around experiences rather than features. And I bet many others would too.

 - Aidan