The Dating Scene

05/25/2012 § Leave a comment

One day while I was young, I believe just after I entered puberty and had those emerging thoughts of sexuality and relationships, I had an interesting notion; I remember it quite clearly. I was, for whatever bizarre reason, peicing together my future. And, again, for whatever reason, I landed the difficulty between putting together a career, and a life partner to go with it. And, for some bizarre reason, I came to the conclusion that it will be more difficult to find a good job, but that getting married would be a peice of cake and I would be able to share my life with some one until the end of my days. Then I probably ran out to play D&D with my friends or do whatever the hell I did then. It wasn’t until I actually got into the game that I found how increadilby difficult and challenging meeting appropriate potential spouses would be. Maybe that’s me, perhaps I’m ill-eqipped.

My wife died last year, and at the risk of sounding a bit numb I have to say I’m ready to move on. I also turned 49 this year, which leads to a number of interesting problems. Love is deffinately a young person’s game. Our rediculous consumer culture is based on youth. All marketing is directed at the younger market. One of the worst things this culture has done to itself is turn Christmas into a marketing campagin, I think the same could be said of romance. So there are a plethora of websites devoted to connecting singles with each other, plus others specializing in sexual hook-ups, enabling spouses to cheat, and I dunno, I imagine a bunch more I’m not even aware of.

Of special note are the large number of sites specializing in geek matching; ie, those whos specialize in matching people based on interests in technology, gaming, and other nerdly pursuits; They are all universally bad. The user interfaces and layout are bad, I don’t see any thought put to the collation of the information entered by its members, and I see no real effort put into the matching algorithms.

Craiglist, the popular and totally free adlisting board has a number of sections divided by metropolitain area, and I like the way its organized, but it comes in dead last on this list. Regardless of the success stories I’ve heard I have a hard time believing them, the only responses I’ve ever gotten from ads placed there are from professionals, and I’m not in the market for that, so I found the responses highly innapropriate and utterly useless.

Being a topic of particular interest to me right now, I thought I’d list and review the ones I’ve tried, with an eye as a software engineer and a single american-irish male.

  1. OK Cupid.com – Easily the best “free” (as in “free beer”) dating site around. Allows all sexual persuasions but its not adult oriented, as least as far as I could tell. The UI on this is very nice, the site is easy to navigate, and its controls are simple and intuitive enough while still allowing you to search for potential mates using a quite large number of criteria. The matching algorithm involves an index of the answers to a huge number of questions, you can answer as many or as few as you want, but the more you answer obviously the more accurate the matching algorithm will be. I havent met anyone using it yet but I think I will continue to use it, I might even register as a paying user I like it so much.
  2. Match.com – A very good site, but pay. I used this service years ago, interesting to note that its still around. I seem to recall tv ads for it back then. I also recall actually meeting 2 or 3 women through it. It was a good service then, although its gone through some changes. I haven’t been able to use it yet fully, but I went through its new registration process and it looks good. More as I use it.
  3. Plenty Of Fish – ALMOST as good as OK Cupid, and certainly doesn’t have the number of options that the previous does, but it does work in free mode. I don’t believe it will allow all sexual persuasions. I actually met one nice gal on it so far, but no solid relationship material, unfortunately. Perhaps time will tell on that.
  4. OMG POP– interesting site where, supposedly, you can play games for the right to connect up with the member hosting the game, or something. Members can host games in subgroups of up to around 5 players, picking from a fairly large list of games. One of the games is a pretty cool implementation of Draw Something. Honestly, most of my time has been spent playing the games rather than connecting, I don’t know if I’m just not doing something right or if the site is simply useless for the stated goal. I do however enjoy playing the games so I’m rating it fairly high on the list. Interesting concept, I just think they need to make it a little clearer how one actually connects up with the hoster.
  5. eHarmony.com – I remember the charming ads on the TV for this one, but I checked it out and you can do nothing useful without a membership. Grew tired of it quickly.
  6. Video Gamer Perconals,Geek Dating Service,Geek to Geek, many others. These, as another blogger put it, are made of epic fail. All are universally bad, they reek of site mill construction, quickly thrown togther with very little thought put behind them, and are simply worthless. Interestingly I think a geek dating site could be the most lucrative type of site to have. As a geek myself when I landed on the idea of seeking geek dating sites I really figured there would be a plethora of sites to choose from. There are, but they just suck. Some are cute, a site catering to trekkies is some what charming, but still rather terrible in implementation. Others are just weird, there is one I saw that mentioned furries a lot. ~shudder~. Another one uses the google geolocation api, interesting if your fetish is to roll to your date as Dr. Strangelove.
  7. Cupid.com – Last place mention is this one, complete waste of time, all they do is spam you with “letters” from “girls” (bots) who are competly out of your age range.

I’ve also tried a number android apps, none of them appeal to me. They appear to try to pack the functionality of their parent sites into the phone app. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the phone app a communication extenstion of the parent site? Maybe search and chat funtionality only, a little geo location gimmick as well.

Geek specialty sites are a great idea. If I were to do a site I’d knock off the cute aspects and concentrate on the technology. Twitter feeds, geo location (but not creepy), phone apps specifically tailored to the site, fan convention information, activities, etc. Some of the geek sites do some of these things, but I didn’t see one with any twitter feeds, amazingly enough. Perhaps I’ll code a site. Hmmmm….

Everyone Just Calm Down

05/14/2012 § Leave a comment

This is a picture of the reactor equipment Kodak had in a basement that’s been making all the news. Its really little more than an appliance for generating imaging rays. Its not a big deal. Given the hype I can understand Kodak’s reluctance to advertise the fact. But seriously, this is like yelling shark in a crowded pool and finding out the shark is really a guppy.

I’m With Android Now

05/02/2012 § Leave a comment

A friend of mine whom I greatly admire recently announced that her employer had told her team to start writing for the Android/Dalvik platform. I notice adverts for a lot of postions around here for Android developers, so I decided to give the situation a closer look. Well, I can say that after a few hours of messing around with the Eclipse/ADT combo, its really not that bad. The installation process is rather tedious, but once you get it all together its pretty sweet.

I first installed the whole kit and kaboodle on my Mint Linux rig, and it works, but I think I need to install the whole mess on my Mac. Eclipse is the only environment I’ve installed on this netbook that runs as slowly as it does, and the Android emulator is like molasses on it. But it was pretty cool to see it fire up and run the example program.

I’m no stranger to Java, I made friends with it back during its inception, JDK 1.0 babay. Since then I’ve watched with fascination the added functionality (JSP pages, yay!), Tomcat come of age, the very welcome JMS and enterprise stuff, all of it. So looking through the code was like weloming back an old friend. Aside from all the Action objects there’s been nothing in it that’s been terribly frightening. Even the XML layouts were familiar. I think this is something I could get used to.

I’ve been meaning to jump on Android development anyway, there are a number of applications I would like to have on my phone, cheif among them is a password database. This is the primary, number one must have application for me. Using firefox to keep track of the credentials for the web sites I visit is fine, but I have more passwords I need to remeber than that. I have 3 machines here, plus I encrypt all my media, so that includes a 1.5 TB USB drive that I use for back up and media storage, plus a number of smaller drives for convinence, again, all encrypted. Plus I have the credentials to a number of web site back ends I have access to, source code repositories, bank account numbers, pin codes, telephone access codes, and on and on. Many more than I care to keep in my head. So I record everything I need on a simple note pad on my Android phone. I do this becuase all of the apps that I have cared to sample to do this sort of thing carry much more crap with them than I care to deal with, or the interface is rediculously complex, or they don’t encrypt the data I’m storing, or so on. I want this app to do one thnig. Well, all right, two. I also want it to sync up with a desktop app I’m envisioning, via a simple web service, I haven’t really worked out the details yet. But I have a list of wants and needs and if I just write it myself I’ll get exactly what I want. Plus, if it seems good to me, maybe I can put it on the Android market, oh, excuse me, this week its called “Play”, and that will look good to prospective customers. So that’s a win.

I’m kind of exited, and when its done I’m hoping to leave a ‘things went better than expected’ comment.

There are a lot of tools and freely available ways to develop for Android, one of them I’ve looked at briefly is the Objective C tool, it looks interesting, and I understand its the compiler of choice for the iSDK, which is another platform I should look at, but I don’t have an iPhone, all my testing would have to be through what ever emulation is available for that platoform unless I decide to get one. Probably not going to happen real soon. I think I’m going to install the Eclipse/ADT suite on my Mac and see what pops up. More as more developes.

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