October 23, 2012

A Drop in the Ocean

I've been addicted to this song for the past week or so. Pandora introduced me to it, and I've been hooked since the first listen.

Such a talented artist.

October 21, 2012

Devon Leaves VentureBreak

Devon Schreiner spent two hectic years writing for VentureBreak. After writing a ton of brilliant content, he has moved on due to conflicts with his employment at Microsoft.

Devon's pieces have moved the blog forward significantly, and I wish him well in his future endeavors. It was an honor to work with him, and I hope he may be able to come back to write an occasional guest post in the future. I'd also like to congratulate him on his recent engagement.

You can read more of Devon's writing on his personal blog or follow him on Twitter.

We're Giving Away A Projector

Well, as planned, we relaunched VentureBreak, and the site is live.

To generate some buzz, we're giving away an Optoma ML500 projector. You can check out the details and enter here.

I'm very excited about VentureBreak and its future. Be sure to pay it a visit.

We're still looking for new writing talent as well. If you think you'd make a good fit, please email me at editor@venturebreak.com.

October 11, 2012


For about two years I wrote for and edited a group-written blog called VentureBreak. It was focused largely on technology news and opinions, startups, and social media. It disappeared from the web earlier this year when a few other things came up in my life, and I lost the time and motivation to write for it. It also wasn't profiting enough to sustain itself.

But after several months without it, I miss it. I miss it so much that I'm thinking about launching it again and taking it more seriously from a business standpoint.

Before I could relaunch it though, I would need a solid team of writers/reporters willing to write off of pure passion until we start profiting enough to pay them. Taking monetization more seriously, that shouldn't take too long.

What I loved about VentureBreak was that it was a fast-paced blog, and every writer had complete editorial freedom. That means that there were no set posting times or topics, and our writers could write whatever they want (within reason) without fear of it being edited or taken down. That policy worked well for us, and I would definitely keep it in place in the future.

One thing I want to improve on, though, is doing more of our own research and reporting, rather than citing facts from competing sources.

If you'd be interested in working with me on this project, don't hesitate to get in touch: you can email me at djbradmerrill@gmail.com. Past VB writers are more than welcome, of course.

October 5, 2012

Obama Phone

If you haven't seen the original video, take a look here.

This is the best musical parody I've seen so far (and I'm sure there are others).

As funny as it is, it scares the hell out of me that people like this really exist.

October 4, 2012

Kids, Sex, and the Internet

Western society, and we in America in particular, have long been conflicted and very hypocritical about sex. Americans have both Dan Savage and purity balls, we're still struggling to accept same-sex marriages, and prostitution is illegal in 49 of our 50 states. We're also confused about what sex is.

I think the recent backward moves in sex ed can be attributed to the repressed older generation convulsing as it dies, and it's being very loud and obnoxious in the process.

People have always had sex (that's why we're still here, obviously), and they've always started in their teens. But for far too long, and for reasons rooted in outdated reproductive, societal, and religious structures, we in Western society have taught kids that sex is dangerous, shameful, dirty, and not to be talked about. And only for straight married people to make babies, of course. But that's all a lie.

We really ought to be honest with our kids that sex is supposed to be healthy, fun, and nothing to be ashamed about. For humans, sex is not just about making babies—it's also recreational. Of course it's a private subject, but there are times when we should be at least a little open about it. Most people will become sexually active in their teens, and they need to learn how to be safe, respectful, and happy about it when they do.

The Internet helps to debunk the lie, but it's not enough on its own. As with any other field of knowledge, without some background, you can easily get off track and misinform yourself about sex online. That's why parents and educators need to be honest with children too.

Kids don't suddenly figure that stuff out when they turn 18. Thinking otherwise is silly, and abstinence-only sex ed doesn't work. As far as sex education is concerned, knowledge is power.

I'm going to have kids someday, and they are, more than likely, going to become sexually active during their teenage years. I hope that before then, their mother and I (along with their school and other people they know and trust) can help them decide to do so knowledgeably and consciously, knowing why they're doing it, and what the results might be. At that point, I'll want to know that my kids are healthy and happy, and at least some of why that is.

My kids will make mistakes, as we all do. What I hope is that they will be strong and confident enough to overcome those mistakes, to learn from them, and become better human beings.

After all, isn't that the goal of being a parent?

October 3, 2012

All Dashes Are Not Created Equal

Writers and editors of print publications would never dream of confusing the em dash (—), en dash (–), and hyphen (-) within the publication. And while most of us can't really explain the difference, we tend to use the correct punctuation mark when we write by hand.

So what happened online? Most websites have no regard for the distinction between these punctuation marks.

If you're the kind of person who seeks professionalism in your work, then you should understand the purpose of each of these punctuation marks, when to use which, and how to type them on a keyboard or include them on a website.

  • Em Dash (—): Denotes a pause in thought, a parenthetical statement, or — more casually — an afterthought. In a web page, a web developer can include — to represent the character. When typing, you can input a character by holding ALT and typing 0151 on the numpad.
  • En Dash (–): Denotes a range, especially of numbers, such as $100–150. – in a web page or ALT-0150 on a keyboard.
  • Hyphen (-): Used for the hyphenation of words (co-ordination; able-minded; pre- and post- touring.) Just use the keyboard key for this one.

October 2, 2012

Did You Know?

Does this video scare you, or get you really excited for the future?