Con Artist

Once or twice a year, I go to a convention. A sci-fi/fantasy type of convention is my preferred setting. I have been known to go to a work related convention (which can also be fun). In years past, I've been mostly to Radcon over in eastern Washington. I recall going to one of the first ones when it was still over in Richland and I was just old enough to drive myself. No parents! Yay! That first con was underwhelming to say the least. I probably didn't know what to expect and came away with an empty feeling. I didn't go to another for several years.

The years have gone by and I added the convention to my existence. It's been normally a annual thing. Up until 2008, it was Radcon. As of this year, it is Norwescon. Oddly enough, the two conventions are kind of same. Norwescon is the bigger of the two but they are both literary types of conventions. Both hosts a multitude of authors in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Radcon has a more science bent to it. Norwescon has the annual Philip K. Dick awards. Both are filled with costumes, room parties, dances, and many new friends. I felt at home at Norwescon and saw many people from Radcon.

The cons are generally a good time. So good I would like to add another convention to my list. There are lots to pick from. Some even local. PAX, a all game type convention, happens Labor Day weekend. Sakura-con is an anime/manga/Japanese con that, unfortunately, happens the same weekend as Norwescon. There's Dragonflight which is a table-top game con during the middle of August. There are a lot more smaller cons, too many to mention but I will point you in the right direction, and many more cons that happen in other places of the US and/or the World.

I would love nothing more than to attend each and every one of them. Of course, I have not found those winning lotto numbers yet so all cons shall remain a pipe dream. Though it is conceivable to add at least one more con. In 2010, I will kind of do that with the insertion of an unschooling conference in May. We were slotted to go last year but sickness said NO! It will certainly be different from my normal convention and I hope to meet new people.

There's something magical about being surrounded by others who are interested in the exact same things as you are. And then there are the one offs where you learn about something new. I probably won't stop going to conventions. They are just filled with too much much goodness and newness. If you haven't ever gone to a convention for your favorite hobby or some other personal interest, I encourage to find one local to you and try it out. You'll have a great few days which you'll remember for years to come.


A Good Use

Back when the G1 (Google Phone) was first released, we were in the process of changing phone companies and plans. We were using Sprint and using my in-laws' plan. I didn't like either of those ideas so we jumped ship. I thought it would be nice to be at the leading edge of tech for once and after much hmming and hawing, I opted for the HTC G1 phone from T-Mobile. And it was awesome!

Right out of the box, I get to read my email from my gmail account. Google Maps apps has more than once save my lost ass. I eventually got a twitter client for it. It was all coming up roses with the phone! But over time, that's all I really did with the phone, with the occasional game of solitaire or Pac-Man. It didn't seem quite right.

Don't get me wrong. I love to be able to read my email anywhere, make tweets to twitter (approaching 1500 updates thanks to my phone), and looking up info about products. My favorite use had to be seeing the wait times for the H1N1 vaccine while standing in line. These are all very good uses but none of them yelled "killer app" for me.

Then, several weeks ago, a new app entered the Android market called Google Listen. Listen is a podcast aggregator for the Android OS. It allowed you to do searches for podcasts and subscribe to them and then it would queue them up for you. This was an app I've been looking for.

I like listening to podcasts. They entertain and educate on my way to and from work and sometimes while I'm at work. It's only about a 20 minute drive but those 20 minutes add up over the week. The local radio stations can only do so much for me at the intellectual level. A couple of my favorite podcasts include Seattle Geekly and Stackoverflow.com. While these podcasts are good, it was an enormous pain given the setup I had (a 2GB mp3 player).

After finding Listen, the enormous pain went away. Instead of hooking up my mp3 player to my home computer, trying to remember which was the last podcast I listened to for a particular series, grab that one (or a bunch as it happened), upload, remember to bring the mp3 player with me in the car, all I had to do was do a search for the podcast in Listen, click(touch?) subscribe and away I went! Wheeee! Since I had my phone with me most of the time, the managing of podcasts became a lot easier.

I didn't keep up with my podcast subscriptions because of the pain it was to listen to them. I got behind. I had to listen to dance music on repeat. Dance music is awesome but it gets real old when you hear a particular song 3 or 4 times in one day and you only listen to the radio for 40 minutes. It got old. Podcasts give me that new car smell all the time!

So with the coming of Google Listen, I found my killer app for my G1. I think I have 5 subscriptions to various podcasts but I go through them pretty fast. I'm on the look out for new ones that keep my interest. A shoutout to samwhoo to suggesting "This Week in Google". I think that will be a good fit for me. Wouldn't you agree?