Rob Vincent dot net

left head right head

February 27, 2014

Formspring cleaning

Rob @ 3:21 PM

An "ask me anything" website called Formspring was mildly popular four or five years ago. I used it a little bit back then, and then forgot about it for years. It was relaunched last year as a new sad bit of unusability called "Spring.me." I got sick of receiving their frequent "look how cool and rebranded and social media and web2.1 we are please drag us back into cultural relevance!" emails while my presence there gathered virtual dust, so I deleted my profile from it.

Since some of what it coughed up over the years was a bit interesting, here's a copy-and-paste for posterity's sake of questions I'd received, and my answers. While the relaunched site didn't present any easy way to get date information from the postings, going by my old post about starting it these date back to August 2010. This list starts at the latest question asked of me (I'd guess sometime in early 2012) and goes chronologically backward from there.

Sidepocket:
What was the oddest thing you have been asked to print in a MakerBot?

RobTFirefly:
Shortly after I started working there, a visitor wandered into headquarters and asked about the possibility of printing an urn for a loved one's ashes. We didn't do it (we weren't doing print-on-demand stuff at all anyway) but it was pretty odd to be asked about.


rbcp:
Dropping off or picking up?

RobTFirefly:
Are you the Gatekeeper?


wiredoptix:
What do you do for fun?

RobTFirefly:
I draw, paint, sculpt, hack, tinker, axe murder, jog, knit, cook, go for long walks...

(That crazy one was a joke, of course. I don't actually jog.)


wiredoptix:
What is your most favorable moment with technology? (In your own experience)

RobTFirefly:
I don't think I could ever choose one such experience (my life tends to be a near-constant series of them) but my favorites are generally the experiences when I get something to work in the way I want or need it to and solve a problem in an interesting way, and even more so if I'm experimenting and learning something new by doing it.

Here are a couple of recent tech-related triumphs which cheer me up immensely to think about:

My main PC, which was old, slow, nonupgradeable, and had been held together with outdated components and tears of hope for the last few years, finally started to die its final death last weekend. I frustratedly raided my junk room (some people just have a junk drawer or two, I mainly have a junk room with disorganized junk shelves and junk boxes) for the parts to build a crappy replacement to at least let me get online until I could scrape up the cash for new gear. Surprisingly, I discovered I'd had the parts sitting around to build a computer far superior to my old one, and had had them for nearly a year; someone had bartered me a box of parts they'd had sitting around in exchange for a bit of work, and I hadn't found the time to examine and test what was in the box before. Had I not been so lazy about checking that stuff out, I could have been running a MUCH better machine for a long time. :-P At any rate, I hacked it together in one night and all is well now.

A couple of weeks before that, my colleagues at "The Media Show" ( http://themediashow.net ) and I had to rig our most complex puppet to date for a new episode we had to get filmed. It'd been a very difficult, restrictive, and physically awkward puppet to work with as we originally built it, and none of us were very happy with how its performance had turned out. Our time-frame in which to address the issues was very limited but, with a bit of hacker teamwork, we were able to come up with an entirely new puppeteering rig which was much easier to use and allowed us to get exactly what we wanted out of the character, and it was fun rather than painful for myself and my co-puppeteer to operate. I can't say much more about it as the episode is still in post-production, but there'll surely be some behind-the-scenes stories when the time comes.


Anonymous:
Do you identify as straight or bi?

RobTFirefly:
I've never been comfortable "identifying" as something based purely on who I might find myself attracted to. I see it as a biological quirk like my left-handedness or bald-headedness; relevant within certain contexts, but not a descriptor worth captioning myself with outside of those contexts.

If really pressed to self-apply a label, I tend to just go clinical and call myself a Kinsey 1. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_scale ) Non-clinically speaking, it works out to about as straight as the average lead female character in a bad early-1990s direct-to-video erotic thriller (although I'm a better actor and my breasts are natural.)

I've been told by those in the know that the label "heteroflexible" applies, but that's far too linguistically derpy a word for me to take seriously at all.


Ahmed4519:
how are you

RobTFirefly:
Fine, thanks. How are you?


Anonymous:
Who was your first celebrity crush?

RobTFirefly:
Lady Aberlin.


Sidepocket:
What's your HONEST opinion of me? (if you're brave you'll press ask followers)

RobTFirefly:
I think you're the 13th President of the United States and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president. As Zachary Taylor's Vice President, you assumed the presidency after Taylor's death.

...wait, no, that's Millard Fillmore.


Anonymous:
What do you think of the new Torchwood?

RobTFirefly:
The plot has got a lot of potential, and so far it's holding my interest. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

I was worried the American involvement would screw it up, but so far they don't seem to have done any damage.

Also, WAYNE KNIGHT IS IN IT. I'd watch that guy read the phone book.


Anonymous:
What celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?

RobTFirefly:
The 2-D version of Buzz Lightyear from the spinoff cartoons and coloring books.


Anonymous:
When you go to the movies, what's your favorite snack?

RobTFirefly:
Anything I can sneak into the theater (screw the theater concession industry) and quietly snack upon (screw eaters of loud crunchy things during movies.)


Anonymous:
Do/would you go to your high school reunions?

RobTFirefly:
I'd rather have unanesthetized orthodontic surgery done by a criminally insane and academically unqualified mountain lion with two rusty poop shovels.


Anonymous:
What TV show do you wish was still on the air?

RobTFirefly:
"Mystery Science Theater 3000." Of course Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic continue that crew's awesome riffing efforts, and many other talented riffers have since joined in the fun in various forms, but I still do miss that funky little world MST3K created with their mad scientists, satellite, and puppet bots.


Anonymous:
How many sunglasses do you own?

RobTFirefly:
Right now I guess I've got around six or seven sunglasseses.


Anonymous:
What have you Leaked?

RobTFirefly:
Since allergy season has begun in earnest, I'm leaking all sorts of stuff. That's why I always carry a handkerchief.


C4bl3Fl4m3:
Cactus?

RobTFirefly:
Cactus!


C4bl3Fl4m3:
Where would you like to be in 10 years? What location, but also professionally and personally? (This is where you'd like to be, not where you THINK you'll actually be.)

RobTFirefly:
Personally, professionally, and geographically, it's my goal to be in a better place 10 years from now than I currently am. That's about all I have to say about that.


Anonymous:
how amazing is io

RobTFirefly:
Never been there, but I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely moon of Jupiter.


Anonymous:
Smartass. I meant are you currently dating anybody?

RobTFirefly:
No, but I'm not really on the market either. I'm currently focusing on other things.

Unless, that is, you're writing a gossip column. In that case, I'm currently involved with every living "Brady Bunch" cast member including Fake Jan, and also that reality TV girl who's married to one of them and is always twitpiccing her butt. And they each think we're exclusive.


Anonymous:
Are you single?

RobTFirefly:
Yes, there is only one of me.


Anonymous:
Do you wanna date my avatar?

RobTFirefly:
Much like every MMOG I've ever tried to play, that music video instantly bored the hell out of me.


Anonymous:
Do you have a driver's license?

RobTFirefly:
No, never have. I got a learner's permit when I turned 16 and took some lessons, but I had no real interest and let it expire.


Anonymous:
I just read all your answers to questions posed to you; did you lie about any of the answers?

RobTFirefly:
This one.


Springme:
What's the first thing that you usually notice about someone you meet?

RobTFirefly:
Level of nudity.


rbcp:
What's your favorite Ke$ha song?

RobTFirefly:
"I'm My Own Grandpa."


Sidepocket:
What is the biggest thing (can be anything) you are looking forward to this year?

RobTFirefly:
It was this question. Now what the heck am I supposed to do with myself for 11 more months?


Anonymous:
How is Red Balaclava doing?

RobTFirefly:
I think Jim is doing extraordinarily well considering what he's dealing with. He still comes to "Off the Hook" nearly every week; you can hear him saying "hi" at the beginning of the show, and behind the scenes he still contributes news clippings and other material to our discussions. He's been slowly regaining his vocabulary in the three years since his stroke but his primary means of communication is still handwritten notes, which is why we don't hear as much of him on the air as we all wish we could. We all look forward to the day when Jim's recovery has progressed enough to be fully evident to his friends and fans on the radio.

If you're into it, any well-wishes and notes of encouragement for Jim can still be emailed to the show at oth at 2600 [dot] com.


sigflup:
head/ear phones or speakers?

RobTFirefly:
Speakers if I'm doing something else and just need background music, or watching something or playing games with others. When I'm on my own and want to drop everything else and *experience* some audio, it's headphones all the way.

Anonymous:
Do you like eggs?

RobTFirefly:
I adore them.


Anonymous:
Why is Jack Black?

RobTFirefly:
To balance out Jaleel White.


Anonymous:
How did you meet Assange??

RobTFirefly:
We interviewed him on "Off the Hook" April 7, two days after the release of the "Collateral Murder" video. http://www.2600.com/offthehook/2010/0410.html
I'm forever proud he appeared on our show BEFORE "Colbert Report."


Anonymous:
Who is the most famous person you've ever met?

RobTFirefly:
Probably Julian Assange.


Sidepocket:
What is your opinion so far in the whole Wikileaks Cabelgate thing?

RobTFirefly:
If governmental or military officials, diplomats, or anyone else meant to be acting on my behalf are doing shady and terrible things and then lying to me about it, I do not believe they have a right to keep that secret.


Anonymous:
how isbabby formed?/

RobTFirefly:
Babby is assembled in teh garage with power tools.


Sidepocket:
What is your opinion of the new Smartphone generation?

RobTFirefly:
If you asked me 15 years ago whether I'd ever want such a gadget I'd have said "HELL yes," but now that it's really a thing I find I don't. I treasure the fact that when I put away my computer and leave the house I'm no longer reachable by the entire world.

I can only really speak for myself; in my youth the online world was something to retreat into because my real-world social skills were nonexistent. I didn't really get out and become comfortable with talking to and dealing with people in Real Life until I was in my 20s. Despite it being the sort of thing I dreamed of having, I think 24/7 connectivity in my pocket would actually have been quite detrimental to my personal development.


Anonymous:
Did you participate in a phallus naming?

RobTFirefly:
I've tried to watch "PCU" a few times, but never managed to sit through it.


Anonymous:
Do you ever go swimming in public pools? The ocean?

RobTFirefly:
At every opportunity. I love swimming.


C4bl3Fl4m3:
What's your favorite holiday? How do you celebrate it?

RobTFirefly:
Halloween, and you know how I celebrate that because I've dragged you along.


Sidepocket:
What do you plan on doing this Thanksgiving?

RobTFirefly:
I shall participate in the traditional ritual observance by forcing stale bread cuboids into the hollowed-out abdominopelvic body cavity of a deceased avian creature, charring the corpse in an enclosed flame chamber while periodically dousing it in its own heated and released bodily fluids, and consuming mass quantities of its flesh with my nuclear family unit.

Afterward there will be pie.


Anonymous:
Do you believe in the flying spaghetti monster?

RobTFirefly:
Believe in him? He was delicious!!


Anonymous:
Are you a cutter?

RobTFirefly:
No, but I am a hacker.

Also, you've made me want to play "Burn:Cycle" again.


Anonymous:
Happy belated birthday. What's the worst thing about being old as you are?

RobTFirefly:

Thanks, I think!

In all honestly, the only thing that truly bothers me about my age is the fact that cuts and scrapes don't heal as quickly as they used to.


Anonymous:
Where do you see the Internet in 20 years time?

RobTFirefly:
If net neutrality principles remain upheld, I see it in an expanded version of the ubiquitous and useful role it's grown into over the past 20 years. If net neutrality falls by the wayside, I see a ham-fistedly regulated, uselessly distilled, monitored and censored media delivery enterprise under the direct and irrevocable control of those who can write the biggest checks and most efficiently screw over the users; basically a broadband version of what America Online was like in the mid-late 1990s.


Anonymous:
Where would you be without IBM?

RobTFirefly:
The same place I would be without my radio, birth control, or fair-weather friends.


Anonymous:
Don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?

RobTFirefly:
Subtle innuendos follow...


Anonymous:
did you install a bar on in your shower yet, old man?

RobTFirefly:
That wouldn't be very useful, I don't drink alcohol.


Anonymous:
Isn't Long Island the worst?

RobTFirefly:
I wouldn't call it the worst, but I wouldn't call it the best either. I'd call it overwhelmingly mediocre.


Anonymous:
Which element on the Periodic Table would you want to be? Which one are you most like?

RobTFirefly:
I'd want to be one of the transfermium elements so academics could fight over me for decades.


Anonymous:
I want to know what you are thinking.

RobTFirefly:
Contrary to expectations, I am currently thinking about something I *can* hide.


Anonymous:
Are you really a doctor?

RobTFirefly:
That depends entirely on who is asking and how nude they are.


Anonymous:
Why?

RobTFirefly:
Because.


Anonymous:
Have you ever thought of getting public radio time to do your own tech/geek radio show?

RobTFirefly:
No, I haven't. It's already my privilege to work with a brilliant crowd on my favorite tech show on public radio, anything else I could do along those lines would just be redundant and not as good. Any other radio projects would have to have a very different focus for me to consider it.

I do have a possible personal podcast project in preliminary planning (try saying that into a microphone five times fast) but it's quite unlike "Off the Hook" and I plan to fully take advantage of the podcast format's freedom from radio-based restrictions. More on that as it develops.


Anonymous:
What is your favorite Information Society track?

RobTFirefly:
Usually either "Ending World" or "Closing In," though I dig the hell out of their entire catalogue.


Anonymous:
Why don't you have your own column in Vanity Fair yet?

RobTFirefly:
The only circumstances that have ever gotten me into an issue of "Vanity Fair" involved me being stuck in a doctor's waiting room in which all the "Highlights for Children" issues already had their puzzles filled in.


Anonymous:
Are you against recreational drug use then?

RobTFirefly:

For myself, I'm completely against it. I don't even use mouthwash or cough syrup with alcohol in it.

For others, I don't think it's my place to tell any other responsible adult what not to do with themselves. I'm nobody's parent, and we are no longer at a point in history where anyone can take up a drug habit without being well aware of what they're risking, so don't look at me to endorse or condemn your own decisions. Some of my friends are into such things, and as long as they respect my choice not to hang around while they're so engaged we're cool. (It is, however, one of my few completely non-negotiable deal-breakers when it comes to romantic relationships; recreational drinking is fine if you've got a handle on it, but I never date smokers or recreational drug users.)

What I am very much against is the disastrous "war on drugs." I don't believe it achieves anything beyond enabling unregulated black markets to make really bad people really powerful, while primarily punishing their victims. It's all happened before with American alcohol prohibition and the resulting bootleg liquor market dramatically empowering the mafia in the 1920s; when Prohibition was repealed in 1933 legal and responsibly regulated liquor sales effectively and permanently wiped out the mafia's black market in one fell swoop. The powers that be were free to focus on educating the masses and combating irresponsible alcohol use, ultimately making things much better for everyone. The continued failure of anyone in power to recognize that we are now dealing with exactly the same equation, just with different substances and a much more massive and destructive infrastructure of ill-gotten money and power to combat, astounds me to no end.


Anonymous:
You ever have a bad drug trip?

RobTFirefly:
I've had bad reactions to prescription medication. Beyond that I have never used a recreational drug in my life, nor do I ever plan to. Caffeine's my limit.


Anonymous:
What is the weirdest book you own?

RobTFirefly:
I have an "Expectant Motherhood" manual. My mother was given it when she was pregnant with me, it's full of valuable 1970s advice like limiting your smoking to ten cigarettes or less per day during pregnancy.

It may not be an entirely weird thing in itself, but its presence on my bookshelf has raised more eyebrows than most of my library.


Anonymous:
VIRUS ATTACK!

RobTFirefly:
OMG HAX!


Anonymous:
a/s/l?

RobTFirefly:
14/f/cali


Anonymous:
How come your formspring background is the broken image icon? (That drove me nuts for a while until I realized it's actually the image for a broken image and not really a broken image.)

RobTFirefly:
I did that to drive you nuts for a while. Also Formspring failed to process the image I wanted to use, so it seemed appropriate.

Another mystery shattered. I'll just have to hope the next sucker is kind enough to be driven nuts BEFORE reading this answer.


Anonymous:
What is your favorite prank call?

RobTFirefly:
Off the top of my head, one of my all-time favorites was by someone called Lotek who, sometime in the mid-late 1990s, called a credit fraud department to complain that his stolen credit cards weren't working. http://www.phonelosers.org/media/visa_credit_card_by_lotek.mp3 Pure genius!


Anonymous:
Always I want to be with you, and make believe with you?

RobTFirefly:
And live in harmony HARMONY OH LOVE!


Anonymous:
If you could have any kind of car, what would you get?

RobTFirefly:
I wouldn't, I don't drive and have no interest in cars.


Anonymous:
WHY WONT YOU RETURN MY CALLS?!

RobTFirefly:
Be patient, you can have them back when I've finished with them.


Anonymous:
What is your favorite kind of pie?

RobTFirefly:
Pie is universally wonderful, I could never choose just one favorite. If my own head were baked into a pie and served to me, I'd find a way to eat it.


Anonymous:
Who's the most overrated musician?

RobTFirefly:
Turn on any ClearChannel radio station. You'll hear either an ad for crap you don't need, or one of the many answers to that question.


Anonymous:
Favorite Weird Al album?

RobTFirefly:
I love them all dearly, but "Dare to be Stupid" will always be the record that got me started on Al. I might still have the 12" somewhere.


Anonymous:
How did you meet RogueClown?

RobTFirefly:
Online at the PLA forums (http://phonelosers.org) and then IRL at The Last HOPE (two HOPEs ago.)


Anonymous:
What celebrity would play you in a movie about your life?

RobTFirefly:
Buzz Lightyear, the 2-D version from the TV cartoon.


Anonymous:
Are you nuts?

RobTFirefly:
I may contain peanuts.


Anonymous:
What's your favorite cheese?

RobTFirefly:
Usually something Italian and semi-soft.


welldont:
What is an activity you got tired of doing?

RobTFirefly:
I once tried taking up bowling, since some people I used to hang around with were way into it, but I got really tired of it really quickly. What a joyless pastime.


rogueclown:
Is $0.10 too much to pay for a copy of a nickel?

RobTFirefly:
No way! We can just make another copy of the nickel and then we'll have more! MORE! MORE! MORE!


rogueclown:
would you like a copy of my butt?

RobTFirefly:
I'm too busy copying nickels to put in the charity jar at the Maxi-Mart. I like to help the kids, know what I'm saying?


Anonymous:
What are some of your hopes? Do you have any goals right now?

RobTFirefly:
I hope to get to sleep soon.


welldont:
What is your favorite late-night snack?

RobTFirefly:
I'm not much of a late-night snacker, I prefer to get my snacking done well before bedtime. THIS INTERESTS YOU.


Anonymous:
Where can i see your Off the Hook t-shirt design? You guys keep mentioning it during the boradcasts/fundraising shows, but....

RobTFirefly:
I'm trying to get a photo of the shirt myself, but it's not easy since I don't actually own a camera at present. I'll see what I can do.


Anonymous:
What is the weirdest question we can ask you on Formspring?

RobTFirefly:
I have no idea, but I look forward to finding out.


C4bl3Fl4m3:
What's your favorite food?

RobTFirefly:
I don't have a single favorite, but I'll narrow it down by saying that the majority of my favorite foods used to be bits of animals.


Anonymous:
When did you start going bald? Did it suck?

RobTFirefly:
I noticed my hair starting to thin when I was around 16. It didn't suck as much as it could have, since at the time I had a bushy head of brooding early-1990s tortured-artist hair it wasn't noticeable and didn't add to the long list of reasons my schoolmates already had for hating me.

By the time it became noticeable I was in my 20s and the inevitability no longer bothered me. I continued to occasionally wear my hair long off and on, but in the early 2000s I just started cutting it shorter and shorter until finally buzzing it all off around '05. Nowadays I buzz it around once a week.

Here's a GIF I made for some reason. http://robvincent.net/shite/firefly_pattern_baldness.gif


Anonymous:
How did you get on Off The Hook?

RobTFirefly:
Slightly long story, which I went over in an old blog post. Check it out at http://robvincent.net/2009/11/18/five-questions/ .


Anonymous:
Is that your eye in your icon?

RobTFirefly:
Yes. Fun fact: it is the left one.


Anonymous:
Do you believe in God?

RobTFirefly:
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: My own belief system might be briefly described as eclectic neopaganism somewhere in the general neighborhood of pantheism or panentheism; though I'm not entirely in line with either -ism, I'm close enough to borrow a cup of sugar now and then.


Anonymous:
What's your favorite drink?

RobTFirefly:
Orange juice.


Anonymous:
If you suddenly found yourself with a thousand dollars (after taxes), what would you do with it? $10,000? $100,000? $1 million?

RobTFirefly:
The amounts mentioned would buy increasing quantities of reduced-stress future.


Anonymous:
If you HAD to move anywhere else, where would you go?

RobTFirefly:
Space.


Anonymous:
If you could go back in time 10 years and tell your younger self something, what would it be?

RobTFirefly:
Try out more hairstyles while you still can.


Anonymous:
Would you rather date a lot of different people, or be in a committed relationship?

RobTFirefly:
That whole casual dating thing isn't really part of my repertoire.


Anonymous:
What frustrates you? What do you think people find frustrating about you?

RobTFirefly:

Web-based gallery software is what really frustrates me just now. That and the apparent willingness of human civilization to call for the blood of the ones who are doing the most to help it out of the dark ages, while blindly following those who'd drag it right back. But mostly, right now, the gallery software.

I've no clue what might frustrate others about me, as the constant complaints from all sides tend to melt into an oddly comforting background hum.


Anonymous:
Why is 7 afraid of 8?

RobTFirefly:
Because 8 fits into scarier emoticons. 8-(


Anonymous:
What's your favorite sport?

RobTFirefly:
Competitive sleeping.


Anonymous:
Which of the following Doctors would you choose to save the planet for you? Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Tom Baker, Davison, Colin Baker, McCoy, McGann, Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, or Hartnell portrayed by Hurndell?

RobTFirefly:
I am a Six fan, whether you like it or not.


Anonymous:
Will you marry me?!

RobTFirefly:
I'm not sure I should marry the sort of person who would have me as a husband.


Anonymous:
What was the worst advice you've ever GIVEN?

RobTFirefly:
"Check out my Formspring and ask me questions!"


Anonymous:
What's your biggest phobia?

RobTFirefly:
I live with photophobia, but despite being called a "phobia" it's not a fear, it's a medical condition. (Wiki it.)

As far as morbid fears go, certain types of large aggressive dogs freak me right out on a very basic level. The worst are the guard-dog breeds like Rottweilers, Dobermans (Dobermen?), and German Shepherds. I'm told this is down to an encounter with a dog I had as a toddler but no longer consciously remember. It's not incapacitating, and I'm great with people's pet dogs once we've gotten comfortable with each other (though it takes me a little bit longer than most people to get there) but if I see a stray one on the street I'll probably detour to avoid it.


greyfrequency:
If the color green just suddenly vanished from the planet.. what would you do?

RobTFirefly:
I would miss my favorite color very much. A world without #00FF00 scarcely bears thinking about.


Anonymous:
If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?

RobTFirefly:
The final one, because there will probably be a few things I won't have gotten around to yet.


Anonymous:
Star Trek or Star Wars?

RobTFirefly:
They are too different to directly compare, but the modern iterations of both equally bite.


Anonymous:
What 3 things do you think will become obsolete in the next ten years?

RobTFirefly:
Formspring, ozone, and clothes for women with the Playboy logo.

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