Bokeh Will Soon Be Beta

Way back in 2019, an alternative to Instagram was kick-started. The name: Bokeh. After some delay, it is still inching toward the finish line. In fact, private (beta) testing is almost here. And being a backer, I should be able to soon give it a try – exciting! Will it take off? The potential is there.

What is Bokeh?

I’ve written about it before: here, here, and here.

In short, it’s a privacy respecting, ad-free, social-photo-network like Instagram. You know, before IG was bought by Facebook.

How does Bokeh work?

Simple. You pay for it! The monthly cost, I think, is relatively low, something like $3 a month (don’t quote me on that though – it could be different).

Since it’s a paid app/service, there is no ad-based monetization scheme. That means no “Sponsored Posts” in your feed. Also, it keeps your privacy – get this – private! I think that’s worth a monthly fee.

Bokeh, like other social networks, connects you to other people on the service. You share photos and can comment and do the things you’d expect, such as view a feed/stream.

The developers have been hard at work coding and such to bring Bokeh to life. I’m eager to see the fruits of their labor.

Yes, the question remains, will Bokeh survive or grow? What level of success would be considered good? The answer remains open, and I’m open to Bokeh’s potential.

Of course, some start-ups fail. But other networks find success. SnapChat and TikTok come to mind. So yeah, Bokeh can succeed.

In fact, since Instagram’s experience suffers under a bloat of copy-cat features, and Facebook’s reputation is forever tarnished, Bokeh stands a good chance to find those seeking a good alternative. It’s delayed release may be ideal timing.

One thing must never happen though. Bokeh can’t eventually sell-out to Facebook. If it proves popular, even competitive, it should keep standing on its own two feet like SnapChat, for example. Let Facebook try to copy Bokeh’s success; I doubt it could pull it off. Facebook would need to drop its whole ad-based privacy-compromising revenue model. So it fundamentally can’t copy Bokeh! And that gives Bokeh a chance to thrive.

Even if Bokeh turns out to be an experiment, I support it. I want to see what a paid-for social-network can be like. Whatever good points it shows, they can be honed into what eventually might be the future of social-media beyond Facebook. Seriously? Yeah!

Would Bokeh compete with Twitter? Or could Bokeh complement it (as in complete it)? I’m not sure. That’s why we need to wait and see. I’m welcoming Bokeh to the stage to share its talent. It’ll be worth watching.

Oh, by the way, if/when the service opens up to the public, you’ll want to hop on it fast. Why? The sooner you do, the more likely you’ll be able to score your preferred user-name!

Will you join Bokeh when it goes live? Would you be more likely to try a paid social-media service if it has a free trial period? Sound off below!

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

The Great Game Backlog

I was prompted to share the feels on this topic thanks to a Gaming Diaries post about what I’m calling the Great Game Backlog. We gamers usually have a number of games waiting to be played, started, or finished. It’s a good problem to have, yet it feels more bad than good. Or is it just me?

Surely it’s not just me. There are so many good video games out there to play. But even if we limit ourselves to only the greats, I think the total game-time exceeds our available play-time. So no matter how often we pick up a controller, the backlog of hit titles to enjoy just keeps growing, like the multi-form final boss that just won’t die. Dude!

This big backlog problem exists even if you restrict yourself to just one home console system. For me, it’s the Nintendo Switch. That might not be a fair example, though, because the Switch not only has its own games, it also has ports and remasters of many games from other consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3.

In any case, there are a ton of Switch games, especially if you add up the indie or casual mobile games.

I’ve got a list of games I’m eager to start playing. They live squarely on my backlog, jammed up by whatever current game I’m enjoying. The game backlog is so common, it’s a default list when you sign-up on Grouvee. You can see mine at this link. While my list is short, it feels really…jammed up.

The thing that makes me feel most bad is not that I’m playing an awesome game now and must wait to start the others. It’s that, for various reasons, I tend to stop playing my current game! So the backlog must wait even longer.

That’s my problem. I don’t really stop, but I pause in a game for weeks at a time. I’m a Dad with a family and career. I have many responsibilities. If gaming were one, I’d be almost failing at it. It just makes me have some grief. I should be enjoying this awesome game until I beat it. But life happens, parenting and work exist, so play and personal time get side-tracked. And, apparently, back-logged!

The other distraction from my current game is that when I pause, I sometimes end up starting a new one anyways. So now I’ve got TWO games I must finish, the current one and the previous one. Only then can I continue to the next game in the backlog queue.

Link’s Amiibo fits his game case.

Also, there are easier entertainment distractions! When I could be gaming, I often am watching a movie or surfing YouTube. Passive watching is less interactive than gaming. So it becomes a habit to neglect my paused game, stretching the hiatus longer.

An example: In February 2019, I “paused” my game-play in Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. I finally un-paused in November that same year, finishing it in December (woo-hoo)! Meanwhile, my games backlog didn’t get any smaller.

Anyways, I try to see the backlog as a good problem. I have the privilege of playing lots of games, both short simple ones and the 100+ hour JRPG grinds I love to get absorbed into during long late night sessions. Being in my 40’s means I don’t get many of those sessions. But when I do, I sometimes feel like a kid again!

I look forward to picking up the controller. I last paused on Ni No Kuni and am now enjoying Link’s Awakening. I must enjoy both until each are finished, then I can start enjoying Tales of Vesperia! I’ve been looking forward to that one.

And you know what? That’s one thing that pulls me through my current game(s) if I get bogged down. It’s the anticipation of the upcoming new cool game that spurs me on to keep plugging away, mashing the buttons. Enjoy it, don’t rush. Look forward briefly, but stay focused on the present game and soak it up for all its fun.

So do you struggle with getting your game on, whittling down the backlog? It shouldn’t feel like a slog, right? It should be fun! Do you ever feel lazy for NOT playing your video games?

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Best Bag Quest Leads To Tom Bihn

Back in January, I posted two pieces on man-bags and everyday carry. My quest is near complete; I think I’ve found the best bags I’m looking for! From a company all about bags and made right here in America: Tom Bihn.

File this under Mobile Computing: Accessories. Why? Because I’ve got two bags now that I plan to buy. One big enough for my phablet. The other big enough for a tablet. And that’s just for starters.

Tom Bihn

I’ve been kind of obsessing over Tom Bihn bags lately. I looked at them before with interest yet kept my quest broad. But now I’m settling on Bihn bags. It’s not just the bags, it’s the company.

The website is done super well. It’s very informative, not just about the bags they sell, but about the materials and individual components that go into making their bags. It utilizes text and a host of polished, fun videos that educate customers and bag enthusiasts.

Yes. One can be enthusiastic about bags. 🙂

The site goes even further, like on the Tom Bihn blog. You can learn about the bag design process itself there. Tom Bihn is an expert bag maker and has a passion for quality craftsmanship and bags in general.

More than that, he and his company show care for their customers (and their employees) as people who need or want good bags. While that sounds like it shouldn’t be surprising, I find it refreshing and genuine. Just check out the Company Philosophy page. And the footer of every site page boldly lists a “Lifetime Guarantee.”

I don’t want to buy “just a bag”. I want to buy into a company I can trust and rely on for quality. While Tom Bihn’s website conveys these traits, a good outside source to learn about the best bags is Carryology. In one article, they list the 10 best buy-it-for-life bag brands. And yes, Tom Bihn is one of them.

Also, there’s another cool thing: Tom Bihn bags are made in the USA! I totally support that.

Small Cafe Bag Tom Bihn
Small Cafe Bag by Tom Bihn. Image credit – courtesy of Tom Bihn. Shared with permission.

The Bags

Now let me talk about another aspect of Tom Bihn. Without hyperbole, the bags they make are sort of like rare treasures. It’s the simple law of economics: supply and demand.

Tom Bihn being a small company making bags for a huge number of people means supply is small and demand is huge. Pre-orders sell out quick. They have a limited rotation of bags in stock at any given time.

Meanwhile, only particular bags are in production for a certain time, waiting to be snapped up by willing buyers as soon as the bags are available. And it’s not just the bags, but the specific colors you might want. They’re all limited.

This makes the bags harder to come by. And that raises their value: scarcity. I like this. It happens to help my bank account too because, otherwise, I may hit the “buy” button too often and too quickly.

A slower paced, limited release schedule imparts quality. At Tom Bihn, they take time to make great bags. I appreciate that.

So I’ve signed up to be notified when certain bags become available! It’s kind of like a wait-list. The downside is that I could really use an EDC bag now; I must keep stuffing my pockets a bit longer with my daily gear.

I’ve got 6 essential items: phone, keys, wallet, Airpods, mask, sunglasses.

I carry these (plus a folding knife that stays clipped to my pocket) everywhere I go everyday, and I just don’t have enough pockets, or patience, to keep up with them. I need one place where they all can live. So when I gotta go, I just grab the EDC bag and all my stuff goes with me.

Everyday Cubelet in Burnt Orange by Tom Bihn
Everyday Cubelet in Burnt Orange by Tom Bihn. Image credit – courtesy of Tom Bihn. Shared with permission.

For the essentials, I’ve chosen the Everyday Cubelet. At one point, I had decided on grey; it’s neutral and works with business casual. But now I so want the burnt orange. It’s my favorite!

The other bag I plan to buy is the Small Cafe bag. It looks cool, and it’s just big enough to carry a 10″ tablet plus EDC gear. #takemymoney.

Besides these, I’m eager to order a Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch (small) to store my sunglasses safely and securely inside a TB bag. I’ve been in need of one and learned Tom Bihn has a nice solution.

None of these Tom Bihn bags are available now – bummer – but I did make my first purchases anyways! I bought the Clear Organizer Pouch – mini plus Handle Loop w/O-Ring. And I grabbed a Ghost Whale Organizer Pouch – super-mini (for my AirPods).

I’ll get a first-hand taste of Tom Bihn craftsmanship. I plan to check out the stitching, seams, material color and feel, and of course the O-Ring and snap-hook pieces. Also, the pouches will fit nicely as accessories into the bags I get in the near future.

This is another reason why I’m excited about Tom Bihn bags: their modular organization system. The bags are made to work together. Little organizer pouches snap into the bags. And small bags can attach neatly onto or into bigger bags. The system relies on simple hooks and O-Rings, among other things. It’s thoughtful design.

To help me wait for my first purchases to arrive and for the bags on my wish-list to become available, I’ve joined the Forums at the Tom Bihn site. It’s a good place to learn more about the bags and share in the obsession enthusiasm over them.

Quest Near Complete

So this is where I’m at in my quest for the best bag.

I think I’ve landed at the right spot with Tom Bihn. At first, I wanted a Sling Bag. Then a Messenger Bag. Then my want changed to a small cross-body bag. Tom Bihn has many great options for all the above; I’m buying in.

I just can’t wait until the Everday Cubelet and Small Cafe bag are available.

Call me a Bihnatic.

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

New Games And Game News

Hello from a frigid west central Texas today. Besides enduring a rare Blizzaga, I’ve got cool news and bone-chilling news. What’s cool? New video games! What’s chilling? The sad revelation that my favorite game store is closing.

So Friday, I went to my local GameStop. I was there to pick-up my pre-ordered release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Yes! The new Switch game was for my son’s birthday. I threw in a new Bowser Amiibo for good measure.

While there, I learned that my fave of the 3 local GameStops was closing permanently. Whaaa!? No! What’s worse, it’s actually only 1 of 2 left. The other of the 3 stores closed in the local mall last Summer, a Covid-19 casualty.

So now there will be only one local GameStop left. I fear it won’t last. Worse again, it’s the one that’s farther from where I live. It’s also smaller than the one closing.

Okay, so that’s kind of depressing. Let’s end on a higher note.

Once I told my wife about our GameStop’s predicament, and the closing sale they were having, she went there herself to do some shopping. Among our economic stimuli purchases, she finally picked up for us…a new Zelda game! For real. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

I’ve been playing the game this weekend. It’s a little gem! Simple, casual, concentrated Zelda puzzle, action-adventure goodness.

This Zelda is a remake from the original GameBoy game. The lush art and graphics are exquisite. The gameplay and control are tight. It exudes the quality one comes to expect of a flagship Nintendo title.

Alright, so that’s a little gaming blog update. I still have many other games backlogged or on pause (Ni No Kuni!). But the new Zelda remake is so easy to pick up and play.

As for the store closing, well, I am happy for the manager there. He’s getting a good personal opportunity out of it. I’m glad for him. He will be missed though. He’s a great salesman and gamer and gets 5-stars from me for customer service. No kidding. I wish him the best.

Take care, y’all.

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A Social Network For Movies

The other day, I wondered, “There should be a goodreads for movies.” You know, a niche site that lets you catalog and discover movies. It would also have a social media like aspect. I didn’t think IMDb was the right thing. So I searched…and found it!

Social Movia

The site, called Letterboxd, is exactly what I was lookin’ for; I joined quickly!

Its look and feel are designed nicely, a dark background with elegant lines and fonts. Things are neatly organized. The interface is nicer than goodreads.

You create your own profile with a Bio, which other members of the site may follow. Then you start adding movies you’ve seen or want to see.

With all the movies you’ve seen, you can take several actions:

  • Like
  • Favorite
  • Tag
  • Rate
  • Log
  • Review

Of course, you can add movies you haven’t seen to your Watchlist. Speaking of, you can create your own custom lists too.

There are reviews of movies by other people on the site. And you can find folks who have similar movie tastes as yourself and connect with them by clicking, “Follow.”

I’m still new to Letterboxd and have only started building my movie catalog. But so far it’s cool.

There are cinephiles or movie buffs there, people who are really into the art of cinema and theater. This makes me feel a bit like an outsider since I’m more like the guy who just wants a good popcorn flick most of the time. Think Blockbuster. Oh well.

If you’re looking for the “goodreads for movies,” Letterboxd is it!

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