About Nathan Young

Hello geeks and nerds; let me introduce you to what I am. Nathan Young does a lot of wonderful things in the media world, from writing, photography, videography, and social media. My current home is the blog and website Geek Alabama. There I do everything from geeky/nerdy talk, event coverage, reviews, cooking, community coverage, promotions, and anything else to give any geek and/or nerd an organism. If it’s anything any geek and/or nerd would care about, I am usually talking about it. From conventions, gaming, crowdsourcing, tech, movies, TV shows, comics, books, food, videos, apps, and more. If you are looking for articles anyone would love reading, you have come to the right place! If you are looking for someone who can cover events with pictures and videos, cover products and shows, speak at events, cover your products, or attend your conventions, consider me! Every geek and/or nerd from trekkies, whovians, and even bronies, already has! The most interesting fact about me, I draw roads! #Aspie proud! #ASD

Today Is The Day of Action to Help Save Net Neutrality


Today is the day MANY websites across the internet including Geek Alabama will participate in the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.  Yes, there have been protests before, but this one is the most serious protest yet as the FCC will vote on removing Net Neutrality rules in only a few days!

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but very powerful principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. Whether you’re reading a blog post on Geek Alabama, streaming Game of Thrones on HBO GO, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your Internet service provider delivers the Internet to you at the same speed, without blocking, throttling, or charging extra tolls based on the content you’re viewing.

Net Neutrality gives all online businesses, large and small, a chance to reach customers and succeed. It also protects important free speech rights online by prohibiting Internet providers from slowing or blocking sites or messages they don’t agree with.  Net Neutrality means an Internet where businesses, products, and ideas thrive or fail based on their own merit — not on whether they have a preferred deal in place with a broadband service provider.

Internet providers like Comcast & Verizon should not control what we see and do online. In 2015, startups, Internet freedom groups, and 3.7 million commenters won strong Net Neutrality rules from the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The rules prohibit Internet providers from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization—”fast lanes” for sites that pay, and slow lanes for everyone else.

Nearly everyone who understands and depends on the Internet supports Net Neutrality, whether they’re startup founders, activists, gamers, politicians, investors, comedians, YouTube stars, or typical Internet users who just want their Internet to work as advertised—regardless of their political party.  Want to learn why Net Neutrality is that important, watch these two videos below from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver where he explains in great and funny details why Net Neutrality is that important!

Net Neutrality says we get the *entire* web without interference – no gatekeepers, no tollbooths, no slowlanes.  You don’t like sitting behind a slow poke on the highway who won’t move over.  Without Net Neutrality, you can expect to sit behind the digital slowpoke on the internet highway.  This is why it is considered the First Amendment of the Internet.  It protects our free speech in the digital age.  Without strong protections, Cable and phone companies like Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and Cable One would be able to:

  • Slow video streaming sites, causing your videos start and stop unexpectedly.
  • Add you new fees to your Internet bill. Imagine paying extra for YouTube!
  • Censor videos or content they don’t agree with, like political blogs.
  • Throttle any new sites or apps they don’t own or invest in.
  • Make your connection painfully slow, and charge you more to make it work again.
  • Force streaming sites like Spotify into a slow lane, causing them to buffer constantly.
  • Slow online gaming. Call of Duty would lag and glitch without paying more to your ISP.
  • Charge big sites special “prioritization fees” and slow down everyone else.
  • Take you out of the driver’s seat, and control what you see and hear online.
  • Make the Internet look a lot more like cable TV.
  • And, worst of all, become the first gatekeepers of the Internet in US history.

Net Neutrality is not a partisan issue.  Regardless of your political views are or who you voted for, everyone who knows what Net Neutrality is supports it.  And poll after poll confirms this across party lines.  Without Net Neutrality, the government will give cable and phone companies free rein to shake down Internet users and websites for more money. And the ripple effects will be felt for years.  An entire generation of innovators have built their careers on the open web. With Net Neutrality in place, you just need a good idea and a decent connection to reach millions.

Without Net Neutrality, the Internet would look a lot more like cable TV, where the content you see is what your cable provider is paid to put in front of you.  We all know how much we hate dealing with the cable company over cable TV, now imagine hating your cable or telecom company over horrible internet speeds.  This could become an reality if the Net Neutrality rules go away.

Cable and telecom companies are lobbying the FCC and Congress to end Net Neutrality. Why? It’s simple: if they win the power to slow sites down, they can bully any site into paying millions to escape the “slow lane.”  This would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy.  Every site would cost more, since they’d all have to pay big cable. Worse, it would extinguish the startups and independent voices who can’t afford to pay. If we lose Net Neutrality, the Internet will never be the same.

To help fight these greedy idiots who wants to control the internet and make it worse forever, today (July 12) is an Internet-wide day of action in support of Net Neutrality.  Many websites from Netflix, Reddit, Twitter, Etsy, Kickstarter, Automattic, Vimeo, Thinkgeek, and many more sites are participating in this Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.  If you share our love of the free and open Internet and want to join the fight to preserve it, please join in!  And it’s very simple to add your voice in support of Net Neutrality!

Go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/#bftn-action-form and fill out a simple form that will send an letter to the FCC and your local Congressman.  You can even customize your letter and say whatever you want!

You can also submit your own letter to the FCC website which will be public record.  Go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/proceedings?q=name:((17-108)) and click on new filing on top to submit your letter on supporting Net Neutrality!

The FCC will decide the fate of Net Neutrality in only a few days!  We the internet can have a say on helping to stop the stupid removal of these rules.  Even if the FCC decides to strip Net Neutrality, there will be a LONG court fight ahead to keep these vital rules.

Here is the letter I have submitted to the FCC:

I am writing to the FCC to express my concerns about Net Neutrality. Let’s get straight to the point, allowing the internet providers with ways to charge websites to allow a so called “fast lane” will be very bad for consumers, businesses, and everyday people. You know what is going to happen if Net Neutrality is taken away? Our internet will become like cable, and we will have to pay money to access news sites. Pay more money to access our social media sites. Pay even more money to access our video sites, and so on.

The internet providers are only looking for ways to make even more money and become greedier, like what they have done with cable. Just like in cable TV, an internet provider could get into a contract dispute with a website like Facebook or Twitter, and if a deal is not reached, the internet provider can block the site. And in many communities, you only have one choice for an internet provider, so if Facebook or Twitter is blocked, you are out of luck!

I run a popular website in the south called Geek Alabama, which is run off of WordPress. If Net Neutrality is taken away, I do not have the money to pay the internet providers to get on a “fast lane.” And many blogs, websites, and small businesses don’t have the funds either. I am asking you keep and continue to re-classify the internet providers as a “public utility” and keep the internet open, free, and fast for everybody, no matter how much money each person has. America needs to get back to their helping others, small business roots, and quit catering to very large companies who only cares about making a buck. Thank you for reading!

-Nathan Young
GeekAlabama.com

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Roadscapes: The Deadly ALDOT Mentality Over The US 431 Anniston Eastern Bypass


So it happened again, in only a 1 1/2 year period since the Anniston Eastern Bypass fully opened in December 2015 and US 431 was placed onto the road.  Another 18 wheeler did not stop and ran through a red light, the truck struck several cars and ended up in the nearby woods.  Sadly, one person died at this wreck.

This has not been the only wreck at this intersection of the Anniston Eastern Bypass at Coleman Road and Choccolocco Road.  There have been multiple wrecks usually involving an 18-wheeler who does or can not stop, runs through the red light, and strikes other cars.  This has been an HUGE problem since the bypass fully opened.  And my question is this?  Why did ALDOT think a road like this where fully loaded 18-wheelers going down a large mountain hill and might have to stop at the bottom was a brilliant idea?

Seriously!  If we were in another state like Georgia, the intersection at the bottom of the hill would have been a freeway interchange so traffic on the US 431 bypass would not have to stop.  This would eliminate the possibility that an 18-wheeler could not stop because it lost its brakes.  But we are stuck with this and it’s hurting and killing people.  Sure, ALDOT thought adding more traffic lights and adding 2 red lights at the top with yellow reflective tape for traffic going down the mountain was going to help?  It’s not!

But the troubles don’t stop there.  There is also an intersection in the middle of going down the mountain called Henry Road.  Right off Henry Road there is The Donoho School.  And every morning and afternoon while school is in session, you see long lines of cars wanting to turn left onto Henry Road off the bypass, while cars are coming at them doing 65 mph +!  On both sides, ALDOT did put up yellow flashers warning drivers of the intersection, but it’s clearly not enough!

Some drivers who want to turn left onto the bypass from Henry Road have a really fun time doing so.  Like this truck who stopped in the middle of the lanes going downhill to yield, not smart.

And you can say, could drivers take a nearby parallel street and connect to Henry Road?  Well, in a crazy move there is a no left turn sign to turn left onto Henry Road.  Why is this here?

Some have said putting a traffic light here would solve the problems, but sadly it will not.  You see, if a fully loaded truck going down the mountain goes past the runaway truck ramp and sees a red light, and loses it brakes, well you know what will happen next.  Having a traffic light here is NOT going to work!

The only solution is to make the Henry Road intersection a freeway interchange, but ALDOT is cheap as we all know too well.  So enjoy the long lines and long waits to get onto and off the bypass.  Now let’s focus on that Coleman Road / Choccolocco Road intersection.  ALDOT did add more lights, but it’s not working.  Going down the mountain, there is only a traffic light sign with signal ahead road markings.

So, why there can not be a sign with flashers telling drivers and truckers that the light at the bottom of the hill is going to turn or be red?  They do this on US 431 in Huntsville, why not here too?

From Google Maps.

From Google Maps.

Another thing I see is ALDOT could make the yellow light longer and the all red, where all four sides are red, longer.  If all four sides were all red for a longer amount of time, it might prevent some of these wrecks!  ALDOT could also install technology that is used on US 280 in Shelby County that detects trucks coming down the hills there.  Why is this not used here?

But, nothing much can change until we deal with the biggest problem, everyone going WAY too fast going down the mountain.  The speed limit drops from 65 mph to 50 mph while going down the mountain.  Yes, while going down the mountain.  Why is this not done at the very top?

Yes, there is a radar sign that tells the speed drivers are going.

And as you can see in this short video clip, EVERY driver is going way over the speed limit.

So, why is there not a speed radar sign over each lane on an overhead pole?  Or better yet, flashers to tell drivers you are going too fast?  They do this on some roads in Alabama, it’s needed here too!

From Google Maps.

And why is there not a LOWER speed limit for trucks going down the mountain?  On US 431 in Guntersville, there is a lower speed limit for trucks going down Sand Mountain.

From Google Maps.

The same for trucks going down Monteagle Mountain on Interstate 24 in Tennessee.  This stretch of road has the same downhill grade as the US 431 mountain.

From Google Maps.

There must be a LOWER speed limit for trucks and 18-wheelers going down this mountain, I can’t believe ALDOT did not do this before the road fully opened!  It takes a MUCH longer time for a 18-wheeler to stop versus a car.  It takes a fully loaded 18-wheeler even longer to fully stop, someone was not thinking when designing this road about trucks going down the mountain who might not be able to stop because their brakes were lost?

To sum things up, ALDOT needs to install better signage and paint markings, flashers with technology to tell drivers when the traffic light will turn red, and lower speed limits for trucks going down the mountain.

The reason why many of us roadgeeks do not like ALDOT is because they tend to not listen to us for smart ideas or sometimes just completely ignore us.  Another reason is because ALDOT comes up with some really dumb road designs and does not maintain or force towns to maintain their traffic lights for example when a sensor is malfunctioning.

I guess ALDOT really does not care about this stretch of US 431, which is quickly becoming the most dangerous stretch of highway in all of Alabama.  So, how many more people will be killed or injured before something is done here?  That is the motto so many of us uses when we talk about ALDOT.

Learn How To Make Chicken Thai Basil From Thai One On


A new YouTube channel called Distinctive Dining uploaded their first videos featuring the restaurant Thai One On in Anniston, Alabama.  Chef Sam Sutchaleo, who recently became an American citizen, shows you how to make a popular dish found in Thailand.  This Thai food dish features garlic, chicken, fish sauce, Thai One On house sauce, bamboo shoots, carrots, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, Thai chili, and basil poured on top of white rice.

On top of the dish goes a fried egg and you have Chicken Thai Basil.  Watch the video below to see how to make this dish!

Roadscapes: The Stupid 22nd Street North New Traffic Pattern From ALDOT


I’m just going to file this under the stupidity category.  On May 31st, ALDOT closed down the 17th Street North exit along I-20 East / I-59 North in downtown Birmingham.  The ramp is now closed so it can be torn down and the new ramps built in the whole I-20/59 Bridge project.  Okay, we all knew this was coming, but what ALDOT did next is one of the craziest things I have seen from any DOT in this country.

They are now forcing all traffic on I-20/59 to exit at the 22nd Street North exit to get into downtown Birmingham.  If you are coming down 22nd Street North from the BJCC, you are no longer able to go under the Interstate and must turn either left or right at 9th Avenue North.

From ABC 33/40.

That’s not even the crazy part, the stupid part comes after you exit the Interstate onto the street.  From the Interstate to the 8th Avenue North, or the Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., you are forced to stay in either side of two lanes with barriers going down the middle of the street.

From Google Maps

From ABC 33/40.

You can imagine what this has caused.  Traffic getting off going South or West must go either straight or left.  Going North or East, traffic must go either straight or right at Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd.  Does ALDOT really think traffic will follow the new traffic pattern and not see cars crossing over to turn right over an lane going straight or a car turning left crossing over to turn left over an lane going straight?  ABC 33/40 reporter Lauren Walsh caught multiple cars in a very short time crossing over that barrier and turning left or right and crossing lanes where cars can go straight.

And while Lauren Walsh was doing a live shot on the ABC 33/40 News, in only 15 seconds you saw two cars turning right and crossing an lane where cars going straight are doing so. (photos below from ABC 33/40)

 

So, does ALDOT love drivers getting into accidents or something.  This is one of the worst designs I have ever seen.  ALDOT did this because they did not want traffic backing up onto the Interstate.  But when I watched the liveshots today on ABC 33/40, traffic did not back up that much and I wonder why the traffic light at the bottom of the ramp was even turned off?

Okay, if you insist in keeping this horrible design that is going to get people injured and in wrecks, you could set up the traffic lights just like the end of Interstate 359 in Tuscaloosa.  Where the three lanes from the highway get a green light to make any turns, then the on ramp gets the green light to make any turns.

From Google Maps.

At the end of the day, this horrible and stupid design along 22nd Street North in Birmingham is not going to work, even if you put up all the signs and lane markings in the world to tell drivers which directions they can go.  Drivers are going to take the shortest and fastest route they can to get to their destination.  They are NOT going to loop around several city blocks and waste time because ALDOT designed something stupid.  You will continue to see cars cutting across lanes to turn left and right where cars can go straight, and accidents are going to happen!  Get this fixed, and now!

Pictures From The Poorly Run 2017 Knox Outdoor Music Festival


This was one event that I wished would have been better than the actual outcome.  If anyone is planning an outdoor event of any kind from May to September, you know that every day there is that chance of rain and thunderstorms.  The festival got started but quickly had to stop due to strong thunderstorms.  And their social media sites was very slow, over two hours long, to get the word out to what would happen with the event.  In fact, I had to send out information myself.

The event was moved indoors to Classic Too which was across the street from Classic on Noble.  And yes, there was plenty of confusion.  For about 10 minutes, I was running around because the people in the yellow shirts were telling me the venue was for “VIP” only.  Yes, I was almost not allowed to stay at the event, along with other people.  It took too long for the festival staff to tell the security people to let anyone with an wristband in.

And let’s admit it, Classic Too is not an great classic venue.  I give props to The Dexateens and St. Paul & The Broken Bones for performing in what was a corner in a small room.  I also give props to the photographer the festival hired and the lady from the Anniston Star for getting some good photos.  As for me, I got some photos but people were pushing their way closer and blocking my shots with their smartphones.

I mean, this is a popular blog with over one million views now, but people had no clue what “Geek Alabama” was and were pushing me back and back some more before I finally gave up.  That small room was super hot and stuffy and I went outside where it was raining which was also much cooler!  I also chatted with some security people in those yellow shirts about how the festival was not being run like it should.

So, next year I hope the Knox Concert people will learn from this and have a PLAN B!  Classic Too is not where concerts with big names should be held.  If the weather goes bad again I can think of other facilities like the Anniston City Meeting Center, community centers, or even the Anniston High School where the Knox Concert Series events happen.  I guess this is an learning experience for the Knox folks on how to run an outdoor event the right way.

Anyways, here are the few photos I took indoors.  I hope the 2018 version of the Knox Outdoor Music Festival is better run.  Learn more at: http://www.knoxconcertseries.org/knox-outdoors/ 

You can also find photos on the Geek Alabama Facebook page, Google Photos, and on Flickr too!

Videos can be found on the Nathan Young (Geek Alabama) YouTube channel and most videos can be found on the Geek Alabama Facebook page too!