Archive for July, 2010

The Facebook Conundrum

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

Inside this article:

The New Swine Flu: Facebook Privacy Issues

The New Joke We Wish Wasn’t True: Facebook Addicts Anonymous

Why I Despise Facebook

Why I Like Facebook

The Truth? We Didn’t and Still Don’t Really Need Facebook

A Call to Arms?

What Am I Going to Do About It? What About You?

The New Swine Flu: Facebook Privacy Issues

As of late, there has been an unusual excitement on the subject of Facebook and its steadily decaying privacy policies. One need only do a Google search for “Facebook privacy,” and you’ll be presented with a plethora of facts, opinions, and rumors about the giant and its evil emperor, Mark Zuckerberg. The truth is that Facebook are a bunch of dirtbags out to sell whatever part of you they can. It’s the web– get used to it. Anything published online is never again yours. That said, it still doesn’t mean that Facebook’s privacy issues aren’t scammish at best.

I’m not incredibly worried about my information being mined by bloodthirsty advertisers or nosy coworkers– a simple Google search for my real name or my online pseudonym will give you in total over 170,000 results. What’s already public I don’t mind being public (mostly… there are some blog posts and comments from my younger years that I have yet to eliminate). So the leeching privacy issues on Facebook aren’t a major concern for me. For a large proportion of the remaining Facebook users, I’m not so sure how concerned they ought to be.

The real privacy threat on Facebook is applications. Aside from the fact that 99% of them are all time-wasting crap, many of them are either ignorantly insecure or purposefully loose with your and your friends’ information, and there are still many that can and should be considered malware; if a user is unaware, I’ve known of some applications that install themselves automatically and then post garbage such as pornography on the pages of the user and the user’s friends. What especially worries me is that the Facebook applications of my friends– applications I had no choice in installing or sharing my information with– can take and use my information as per the policy. Luckily one can turn off the sharing of this information in the privacy settings on one’s profile, but they’re tuned on full force by default. I stopped using applications on Facebook when I found out that all of them are a bunch of trash, and I’m not about to let the apps on my Farmville-addicted friends’ profiles take my information without my consent.

While privacy probably isn’t as big of an issue as the media is making it out to be (just another Swine Flu extravaganza they’re having, really), I do believe that there is definitely a threat out there, and it’s really up to the users of not only Facebook but any website to be wise with their personal information. The best way to decide whether to share something online is this: if you’re uncomfortable with the world reading it, then don’t share it. In the end, the most secure place to keep information is either your own head or an inconspicuous journal on the shelf.

The New Joke We Wish Wasn’t True: Facebook Addicts Anonymous

Hello. I’m Jordan Spencer (Hi, Jordan Spencer). I’ve been on Facebook for a year now, but I haven’t logged on for twelve hours! (Wow! Good work!)

We have to face it eventually. Most people who use Facebook are addicts. We joke about it to make ourselves feel better, but it’s in reality an awful truth. I joined the bandwagon rather late for a person of my age and generation. Most had Facebook accounts by the time they were fifteen or sixteen, but I refused to fall into the pit until over halfway through my senior year of high school. That didn’t keep me from creating a fake account of a 90 year-old man from England who had the uncanny ability of knowing details of my friends’ and associates’ lives, though.

Those who know me at all know that I have a very deep hatred towards Facebook (yet you still use it! Hypocrite!). Almost everything about it I loathe. From its plastic, Wal-Martish, McDonald’sish, mass-produced design and feel to its ridiculous assumptions of whose updates I want to read most– I feel more and more depressed every time I type the “f” in the address bar of Google Chrome.

In fact, I have the feeling that many others share my views on this subject– even if they’re addicted in such a way that they do what they hate to do, but they do it because it’s simply so accessible and easy. Because of this feeling, I’ll share below in neat bulleted points why I dislike Facebook and why I like Facebook:

Why I Despise Facebook

  • As stated previously, its design and aura simply feel too much like the impersonal and crowded Wal-Mart– the pretending and unhealthy McDonald’s– the plastic and utterly annoying High School Musical –the astronomically fake and middle-school-esque Twilight.
  • It’s an incredible waste of time even without the trash-apps such as Farmville, Mafia Wars, and those various “Answer questions about your friends” ones. Because of its ease of access and perpetual change, it’s very tempting to log on multiple times a day just to see what’s new or to see if anyone has commented on my latest. Also, it’s too tempting to merely “Surf the Face”– let other more important duties and activities (including but not limited to: work, hygiene, house-upkeep, eating, and sleeping)  fall to the wayside in favor of putting my nose too far into other people’s books or trying to get other people to put their noses in mine.
  • The main function of Facebook is self-promotion. Pride in oneself– probably not always a wholly healthy pride, either. White Wonder Bread. If I can think up something clever in 420 characters or less, then I can get a hundred people to read my clever thought within an hour on a Wednesday night, and I therefore feel awesome. Under the surface, though, we’re spending too much time compressing our thoughts into 420 characters (or expressing them via shared links or YouTube videos) and trying fill our self-esteem cups by trying to sound spiffy to our friends or acting ambiguous to make our friends curious as to how awesome we really are. I sometimes see people being curiously mysterious in a depressing way to seek attention and make people feel sorry for them (does “[subject name here] needs a hug. :(” sound at all familiar?)
  • Facebook promotes the decay of language use as a person is confined to a set amount of text. Of course, so does texting and with a worse degree– both ought to be used with caution.
  • We do not act online the same way we act in person.
  • People are more often more rude and/or loose on Facebook than in person.
  • If left unchecked, our relationships can become more online than real– more shallow than personal. Facebook can be a good tool for supplementing already existing relationships, but any sole-Facebook or sole-online relationships won’t get very far past business.
  • While many online ways of communication have downfalls, bugs, annoyances, and other problems, Facebook is the epitome– the armpit, if you will– of them all.
  • As previously mentioned, Facebook’s privacy is a joke.
  • Of the 300 “friends” I have, I really only care to keep in touch with perhaps 100 of them. Of those 100, I really only talk on an individual basis (on or offline) with perhaps 30-40.
  • I’m sick of receiving friend requests from the friends of friends who I’ve never met nor communicated with before.
  • I’m sick of being spammed with group and page invitations.
  • Sometimes I begin to feel like a stalker while using it, especially late at night. Any service that makes a person feel like a stalker should be handled with extreme care.
  • The name of the site is stupid.
  • Everybody else is doing it.
  • The site is characterized by middle-school children wasting their time being awesome.
  • I could probably name more if I cared to.

Why I Like Facebook

  • I get to keep in touch with or at least have some general idea as to what’s going on in the lives of those 100 people (as previously mentioned) where I normally would only get to stay in touch with perhaps ten or twenty regularly.
  • I generally know of the shindigs and events that are upcoming.
  • I can plan and invite just about all of my buddies to shindigs and other events with ease.
  • If I need to contact a friend I don’t talk to very much, I can usually contact this person and receive a reply within a day or two.
  • I get to sometimes feel clever with what I post albeit the vicious pride cycle.
  • Sometimes people share very interesting and/or hilarious news articles, videos, and more that I would otherwise not have known about.
  • If I need to share information to a wide group of people quickly whether they want to know it or not, I can do so.
  • I’m sure I could think of more, though not quite as many as I have reasons for despising Facebook.

The Truth? We Didn’t and Still Don’t Really Need Facebook

The truth is that just about all functions that Facebook provides that actually have worth were already available via email, chat, and blogging– already provided for free by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and a handful of other major companies. Sure, Facebook has most of these common tools all in one package and lets a person get the job done a little easier and usually faster, but only at the sacrifice of one’s privacy and almost always with the sacrifice of one’s time: regardless of argument, a large portion of Facebook users are addicted and do needlessly waste time keeping track of the lives of others when they can’t even keep track of their own. To some extent, I have the very disease.

That’s the truth. The problem? Most people don’t utilize the tools already given to them. I used to have to email about 200 students and a handful of parents to keep them updated regarding their financial status with a certain organization dealing with the beauty of music. While I have no actual percentages, I can honestly say that there were a large portion of people who complained to me when they ran into trouble or never knew their financial standing with the group because they never checked their emails even when I told them that I’d generally send out an update at least once a month– even when I told them all the very day I sent it out. Also, only a few of my friends who I’ve emailed rarely seem to check it, and I’ve rarely seen more than three friends online with the chat feature (not including business and other similar contacts). As for blogs, I’m the only person I know of my friends who has actually posted at least one update on my blog per month.

If you say “I don’t use email and chat nor do I blog because I don’t use computers as much as you do,” I dare you to monitor the time you spend on Facebook. Monitor the time you spend actually communicating with someone you wanted to communicate with (not that we hate all of our Facebook friends, but we generally don’t think in advance about how most of them are doing). Monitor the time you spend communicating in chat, comments, and wall posts saying things that really don’t matter. Monitor the time you spend with Facebook applications that you really didn’t need or maybe even didn’t want to use. Only you can decide for yourself if it’s too much, but my bet is that, if you look at yourself honestly, it probably is. Do you really have more time than you thought to email the more intimate friends and blog in more detail about things in life?

Of course, I used to have quite a few email threads going on with close and not-so-close friends back in the golden olden days. There were some rather wonderful conversations that were borne through the phone and fibre optic cables. People actually wrote back. Now that Facebook is so popular, though, it seems as if nobody uses email anymore for personal, intimate use.

A Call to Arms?

Do I hate Facebook? Yes. Do many others? Yes. Is Facebook still useful even with all of its “features” (what I’d like to call “faults”)? Yes. I don’t propose that every Facebook user do a mass walk-out and never use it again. That would be just about the most beautiful thing I think I could see on the internet, but it’s not going to happen. I do propose, however, that people try using the archaic tools of pre-2010– email, chat, and blogging. I think if a person exerts more effort into communicating with people using those methods that actually take thought to use and put less effort into Facebook, he or she will find that his or her online communication is much richer than with the mass-produced friends, as it were, at Facebook. I also propose that we spend less time in online communication in general and more time with real, live people in person.

In the end, any website and any software really can be addicting and wasteful. Facebook is just more so than most. Each site and each software is just a tool– it all depends upon the user of that tool whether it is a good or a bad thing.  I would hope that we, this digital generation, would take the initiative to actually be responsible and use these tools wisely.

I’ll probably be told that I want some entity like the government to control what we do with our time; I’ve been told that before when ranting about how people waste time watching too much television or playing too many video games. It’s actually just the opposite of what I’m saying: Facebook, television, computers, the internet– all of these can weasel their ways into the human mind and really begin controlling what we do with our time. The most dangerous thing is that we think we’re in control when really we’re slowly being sucked into the will of Big Blue– Big Brother– Facebook. Our generation has such a problem of making choices wisely and taking responsibility for our actions. Submitting to the will of a corporate entity that doesn’t even have a will will only make it worse.

What Am I Going to Do About it? What About You?

Personally, I’d love to never use Facebook again, but, on the other hand, people are sticking with it as the main communication mode of the day aside from face-to-face conversation. So I’m not about to leave it and so quickly close the door on communicating with those 100 people of mine. However, I am going to spend a lot less time on it.

  • As fun as sharing clever thoughts quickly is, I’d rather not take the time to do so. I’m going to cut my status-updating by a large proportion. I’ll be fine with letting someone else take my fifteen minutes of fame. Feeling more important and clever than I really am probably isn’t healthy, anyway.
  • I’ve already turned off chat for most people, and I often have it turned off regardless. If they have something important to say to me, they have other options.
  • I’m going to try to alter my mode of communication to ways that don’t suck me into talking to people I really have no plans to talk to. Facebook will only be a last resort. If I want to communicate with a friend, I’ll try the phone, email, chatting via Gmail, and texting first. I also hope that this will encourage friends to try to use these old-school protocols as well– if only to communicate with me only.
  • The first thing I did when I joined Facebook was disable those annoying emails telling me all that’s happened while I’ve been gone.
  • If I do use Facebook in a day, I’ll only try to use it once at a set time. If people need to get a hold of me quickly, I have other methods that go straight to my pocket (email and texting).
  • Instead of publishing my life on Facebook to get the praise or curiosity of my friends and my “friends”, I will concentrate more on this blog. More importantly, I will concentrate more on a written journal on my bookshelf where the very deepest desires of the heart can be shared without any pretenses. Of course, I’ve set Facebook to automatically scrape the posts of this blog and publish them on my profile, but at least I’m not wasting my time publishing it there.
  • I’m going to uninstall the Facebook app from my iPod Touch.
  • I’m going to remove Facebook from the quick access thumbnails on Google Chrome.
  • I stopped using applications months ago, and I went into my privacy settings and removed all past applications except one (they can keep on using your information and your friend’s information even if you forgot you even used them! Fancy that). I also disallowed any friend’s applications from using my information.
  • I already changed my privacy settings to be more, well, private– not that it’ll do much in the long run.

I’d like to go into a bit of detail about this last one. Diaspora. Some people think it sounds like a disease akin to Malaria, but it’s really quite a wonderful new startup. It’s open source software with the same purpose as Facebook being developed by a small group of college nerds who have nearly $200,000 of community support behind them (I donated $25 and am psyched to receive my free CD, note, stickers, and t-shirt when the first version is released). The main difference aside from being open source is that you own your information, not some corporate entity. Read more about Diaspora here. The downfall is that a person has to run the software on a server 24/7 or have someone else host it. Despite assurances from the nerds that the software will be able to be set up in five minutes by the average computer user, I still have my doubts about it catching on with the general public. Usually only nerds such as myself want to go through the trouble of running an always-on server even if it’s low maintenance, and nobody is about to pay someone to host their profile– private or not. This is why I’m going to be a major proponent of Diaspora and try to get its popularity up and try to get my friends to start using it. In fact, I’m planning to set up a server after my mission (Diaspora will have had some time to develop and spread by then) and offer free hosting on it for all of my friends and any of their friends and so on. The nerds running the project say that there are possibilities that people could eventually run the server on their cell phones without a hitch, meaning that Diaspora would suddenly become much more viable in the social networking market. I’m not promoting Diaspora so much for the privacy concerns (the main reason it’s being designed) nor because I think it would reduce the time people waste online; I just hate Facebook and want to see it sink like AOL has.

Enough about me. Do you feel you waste too much time online? Do you hate Facebook because it’s easy to waste your time with it? Do you hate Facebook for illogical reasons– because you just don’t like its face? Well, what can you do to make a change in your life for the better?

Feel free to use any of my ideas or share your own.

The Rebel Plot to Overthrow the Obamic Empire

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I had one of the very best dreams last night, and I will share it below in great detail to the delight of all– even those who worship the belowmentioned and belowregarded president.

This took place some years in the future as President Obama had thence become Emperor Obama and had taken over the many habitable planets in the universe and covered them in banners bearing his photoshopped face looking towards the heavens in an overly dramatic way that hinted towards condescension. Some of these posters are shown below:

I was part of the rebel alliance who were defying his control, and it was my job to assassinate Emperor Obama while the rebel force attacked his palace on our home planet.

I received a briefing for my mission via telepathic transmission so that I could see exactly what I needed to see right in my head. The entire rebel army would be attacking Emperor Obama’s palace. Once on planet Earth, I would need to covertly sneak into his palace by way of a staircase that only existed every few hours while the rebel army distracted Emperor Obama’s guards.

Once the telepathic briefing ended, I mounted my trusty dragon and flew him off into space. The planets in this particular dimension were all flat, so I could see many land masses float past us as we raced off through the sky. On our way, we flew into gold coins and special items floating in space so that we could collect them (I don’t know if we got extra lives once we collected one hundred gold coins). Eventually we landed on planet Earth near Emperor Obama’s Palace where the battle was already raging.

I must have been caught in the process because the next thing I knew, I was in Emperor Obama’s office, and he was circling me with narrowed eyes, gloating about how he caught me and thrwarted the rebellion, telling me about the tortures he would put my friends through, and how he would never relent control of the empire.

As Emperor Obama was busy with his monologue (the downfall of nearly all fictitious villains), I sneakily took a sewing needle from his desk and waited for him to circle back around to gloat to my face again. When the moment was just right, I reached around him with the reflexes of only a true American and stabbed him to the heart with the needle.

He turned around and glared at me as blood began to slowly stain his casual attire, but I wasn’t wasting my time waiting for him to strike; I sneakily reached back to his desk with my hand to a pair of scissors, but he was already on to me. Fortunately for the sake of the rebel cause, the United States of America, and the universe as a whole, he didn’t steal the scissors I was heading for, but he had the same idea as I did. Right as I snatched those scissors from his desk, he used his dark magic to conjure a pair in his iron fist, and then he thrust the pair towards my side and began to angrily cut away my armpit. Scissors in hand, I winced at the pain and wondered if I would ever be able to sweat again, and then I stabbed his chest repeatedly as he continued to cut away my armpit.

I must have finally done away with the antiperspirative monster because the next thing I knew, I was in the courtyard of Emperor Obama’s palace commanding Mackenzie Kunz (my succeeding treasurer of the choir) to help me weed out the traitors of the alliance and kill them, thereafter effectively ending Emperor Obama’s tyrannical administration over the universe. I don’t remember burning down any Obamaic Shrines or incarcerating any Obamaic Priests in their Obamaic Halls of Sacrifice, but I’m sure there was plenty of cleaning up to do around the universe. While riding our dragons. And collecting gold coins.

The Midnight Train and Snow Episode

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I want to be a train conductor when I grow up.

Julie and I, determined to see a train in the snow, left around 11:11 this evening. It was snowing softly outside– perfect weather for romance. We walked in the middle of the road to the stoplight and then down the lane by the park until we reached the driveway of the Sugar Factory. Thankfully the city doesn’t lock said factory gates anymore, so we trod upon the perfectly sound snow through the factory grounds and down the hidden side lane that connects the factory grounds to the city administration complex. This road incidentally runs right next to the train tracks, and there is incidentally no fence separating the road from the tracks (this unfortunately will change once the Trax commute line is established). Since we weren’t sure if a train would come, we merely entertained ourselves by frolicking slowly to nowhere, imagining what others who may walk the path (few if any) we took would think about our footprints. Then we heard it. Faintly at first, but then it was unmistakably a diesel train horn. Excitedly, we walked back and forth down the lane and then planted ourselves next to one of the new signal lights established for when the Trax commute line is finished. We waited and waited, and then we waited some more. The horn was not to be heard.

“But surely it’s still there even if I can’t hear it?” I said to Julie.

She supposed the same. “After all,” she whispered, “we both heard the horn a while back, and that’s evidence enough to convince me, at least. The train couldn’t have vanished. It’s still there, and it must be coming, for that is the law of the train: when one hears a nearby train horn in West Jordan, then one knows that the train will come, for trains do not behave any other way, and there is no stop within the nearby miles for the train to make.”

After what seemed like an eternity, we heard the horn again, even fainter than before, as if to reassure us that the train still existed. Psyched, we prepared for its coming. We saw the first sign of the coming of the train: far off in the distance, a bright light suddenly appeared, and it very slowly grew bigger until it split into three very bright lights. The horn sounded again, much, much louder, and the train crept past the factory. It was nearly upon us and I was nearly jumping with glee while Julie cowered in fear when the conductor began to ring the bell. I grinned up at him in the cab of the train and waved, and he gave a wave back at us. We watched as the train drove past us, first with the two engines, then with a sole boxcar, and then with thirty or forty tank cars carrying many metric tons of sulfuric acid. The ground beneath us literally shook as the cars passed us. When the ultimate tank car past us with its flashing red light at the end, we hopped onto the track and chased it. Seeing as how the train pulled the cars at about the same speed as we were running, we never caught it, but it was still an exhilarating experience.

After we stood and watched the train cross Redwood Road and disappear into the Great Unknown behind the old Deseret Industries and etcetera retail center, Julie looked up at me with a shiver.

“I don’t know about you, my love, but that rather large creature that you refer to as ‘the train’ was terrifying. I think that it will take some getting used to on my part before I can watch the great thing without fear.”

I laughed at her and gave her a scratch, and then we went home as the snow fell upon us.

The Car Analogy

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

It seems that everyone compares everything to cars so as to make insightful analogies, but I heard today the first one that I actually liked. It brought a smile to my otherwise horrid-looking face and got me thinking.

Tangently speaking, “this got me thinking” is a phrase that only tells other about how much the person saying it doesn’t think. For example, I’ve been thinking a lot lately and generally fill up my free time with some sort of thinking whether it is attached to actions or not. By saying “this got me thinking,” I am lying becaus I already was thinking. It really ought to be “this got me thinking about something that I hadn’t thought about before or wasn’t thinking about lately.” Anyway. Back to the point.

A youth of about 16.5 years of age today gave a talk using a car analogy. Roads are life, cars are people, and the drivers are our spirits. Some cars are sportscars, some are 15-seater vans, and still others are your scratch ‘n’ dent specials. All of them are different and have different qualities and weaknesses. All cars need fuel and upkeep, but the driver needs to stay alert and awake or else he or she may crash or take wrong turns– the driver needs to be nourished, too. The driver also needs to look at the road signs (listen to the prophets) and make sure he or she is taking one of the roads that will lead him or her aright. Many drivers and cars are equipped with a GPS (the Holy Ghost), and those who don’t have one can still get one if they go out and get one. However, there are many drivers who think that they know better and that they don’t need the GPS, so they don’t listen to it and eventually just turn it off. We’re all drivers and cars, and we need to pay attention to the signs, listen to and follow what the GPS directs, nourish our cars, and nourish our drivers, or else we may end up on one-way roads leading to places we find we wish we never went to, broken roads, or where there are no roads at all, stalling and even completely halting our progress towards our final destination.

Kudos to Haden for one of the best analogies I’ve heard.

The Subsomnulative Railroad

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

Sub, meanung “under,” and -somnulative, deriving from the Roman god of sleep, “Somnus,” combine to make the new word I have now invented known as “Subsomnulative,” meaning “under sleep.” The official definition will be:

Sub-som-nu-lat-ive (sub-säm-nyōō-lāt-iv): Of or pertaining to the area that lies beneath a bed, couch, loft, cot, box, or other apparatus generally used for sleep. See SUBSOMNULATE, SUBSOMNCRALATE, SUBSOMNCREPENATE,  SUBSOMNSTACATE, SUBSOMNMONSTRUCREPENATE, SOMNSUBSOMNULATE, SUBSOMNLOCOMOTION (to see watered-down definitions, hover mouse over appropriate link).

–Cunningham’s New World Dictionary

Now that you know what subsomnulative means, read on.

I began around 3:30 PM yesterday to first test certain materials and then build a subsomnulative railroad. It hangs underneath my bed from the grate keeping my mattress atop the loft. Using pieces of wood from a leftover fence, push pins, paper, and wire of some nomination that rubs off on hands, I built wooden, hanging trusses of sorts for the track to rest on above my computer. It’s relatively level yet still slanted slightly to one side making the train’s speed slow down or speed up depending on which part of the course it’s on. It now runs the Union Pacific’s Overland Limited and the Hogwarts Railways’ Hogwarts Express daily.

Subsomnlocomotion is the new Pokemon.

P5100009The side of the railroad, showing about the entire ovalThe Hogwarts Express engine (again, steam engines are the absolute best)The Overland Limited engine (steam engines are the best)

A broad view of the Overland LimitedA Union Pacific standard diesel engine. Sadly the motor on this model has ceased to function properly. Its cars now have been added to the Overland Limited's train.

A special thanks to Bachmann Trains for making affordable HO scale model trains for children worldwide to enjoy.

Robo 6000, Capsella Memoirs

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I remember the days of innocence and having times to play Zelda, Mario Kart, Final Fantasy, and other intrinsic games. I remember having time to read 10,000 minutes in the matter of two or three weeks. I remember itching to play with the only remote control car I ever got over my brief childhood, having secret pacts against girls, believing in the traditional form of Santa Claus, playing Legos & Stuffed Animals, playing “War of the Worlds” (wow– that was a game Aaron and I played on the trampoline for years. We were imaginative kids, we were), and having the thing I worried about most being what form of childlike entertainment I would be seeking next.

One certain brand of pleasure from my younger years (particularly ages 6-10) was a certain toy called “Capsella.” These were essentially plastic orbs that could be dissembled as small as half of an orb and also assembled as large as… well, as large as one could afford to purchase them. Some orbs had different kinds of gears inside or even an engine, and there were other parts such as wheels, propellers, tracts, and others. You could have the engine and gears move the wheels to make the robotic structure skitter across the floor, navigate the depths of the tub (when equipped with special yellow floater orbs), and many other things– I never got any of the other more advanced sets, though I often dreamed of getting them and creating the ultimate “robot.”

Though far from being any sort of true robot, I received my first Capsella set, built the orbs into the rough likeness of a humanoid figure, and called him “Robo.” I even wrote miniature picture books about him. Aaron eventually got a Capsella set or two, and we often would pull out our robots to play (his was called Johnny-8 or something, I believe). Later– for my 8th Christmas here on Earth– I received a very special set of Capsella I had been itching for over all other sets. It was called the “Voice Command 6000.” I named him “Robo 6000,” the second or third-generation version of Robo (I believe I had dissembled and rebuilt the original Robo at least once or twice before getting this new set).

Robo 6000 became a good friend, and often appeared in many make-believe settings– whether it was offering help through his vast knowledge (communicated through beeps at various frequencies, all of which secretly came from my vibrating lips) or through his lasers (I took the old engine from the original Robo and stuck it on the front of Robo 6000– it had red and blue connections for the wires from the battery. If Robo 6000 was happy, he had the blue side showing, but if he was angry, the red side would show– along with many imaginary lasers that would burst out of it to strike the poor, unknowing, imaginary enemies that plagued our Neverland).

The Voice Command 6000 set was easier to put together than most other sets, I’m sure, and was the least adaptable, as too many orbs added onto the set would offset and overload the motor, but Robo 6000 brought me much fame. I remember bringing him to a Cub Scout Talent Show and saying “I built this robot…” and “You can tell it what to do through the remote control with your voice…” all in the same breath. I really merely assembled the so-said “robot,” as its motherboard and engine were already installed in separate chassis and were much too advanced for my IQ to even think about dissembling them at that time, but I took advantage of the situation to look more intelligent than I was. The robot consisted of really three pieces: The upper chassis, which contained the infrared sensor and motherboard and plugged with four prongs into the lower chassis, which contained the motor and wheels. The third piece was merely four plastic orbs you could add on for decoration– two of them had propellers that would turn so as to look more foreboding (these also caused Robo 6000 to fly while in Neverland).

Such a simple little toy, yet he brought about much imaginative playtime.

I wonder what operating system this little “robot” had? Doubtless one I could develop easily with a thin instruction manual, all of the appropriate capacitors, chips, circuits, transistors, and other parts necessary, and a breadboard. I wonder if I could adapt this operating system and tweak it to my own wants? I’d have to do some soldering, of course– the most advanced technology on Robo is his IR sensor and a 20-pronged integrated circuit– quite a simple board, and no memory for firmware upgrades. Of course, I’m sure that half of that operating system is located in the remote control. I should research on Google.

Robo 6000 (Capsella's "Voice Command 6000")

Robo's remote control

Eulogy to a Fuzzy Friend

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

Once I created life.

It was cute, furry, green, and had googly eyes.

I made it from the milk left over from a Saturday morning’s meal and a period of three months hidden behind the couch.

He made a splendid confidant. I would often express to him my feelings on different aspects of the world including but, for some reason, not limited to:

  • Politics
  • Gospel Truths
  • Gumptions
  • Norton Antivirus, McAffee, Avira, and other digital items linked to Viralphobia
  • Laser Hair Removal
  • Laser Face Removal
  • Antique Processors
  • Spiritual Molasses
  • Plots, Schemes, Stratagems, and other types of Criminal Activities
  • Psalms
  • The Secret Life of Legopeople
  • Infatuated Boys and how ridiculous they look
  • Mental Status

I enjoyed his company very much up until one fateful day; I woke up to the sound of thunder and the rain pouring outside my window in London. The cobbestone streets were deserted. It seemed a foreboding darkness had settled in, hinting as to what was happening, yet I was oblivious and not awake. Rubbing my eyes as I descended the stairs, I didn’t catch my mother washing my Rice Puffs Product friend down the disposal. It was only afterwards that I found out he had perished.

The life I had created had ended.

I still cry at nights sometimes.