Nablopomo Day 4

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In which our hero stays glued to CNN for the evening, watching the election, and constantly feeling like “How are they going to steal it this time?”  Spoiler alert for those of you who TiVoed it: It wasn’t stolen, and Yes, They Did.

I’m not feeling 100% today.  Little sore throat, a tiny headache in the side of my neck (?) but other than that a good day.  Hard to complain when the good guys win, for once, though, woohoo!

Oh, and just in case you’re American, and voted, and felt like it didn’t matter much?  Mr. Saul Williams would like to have a word with you (hat tip to DreamPepper) about the whole idea of history.


Click here for more videos from Vote For Change

My fave piece from this video is this chunk:

Dear History,
You are behind us and we are no longer looking back. We are standing on the threshold of new times, new days, new worlds, and charging forward without battle cry or trumpet, while cynicism, apathy, and cowardice take their place beside you, behind us.

Also, the HipHop-For-Thinkie-Types guy over at Ill Doctrine had some smooth stuff to say about voting, ’cause you’d feel like a real heel if you have to tell your children you sat at home the night Obama almost won.

What else?  Today I figured out how to make Ubuntu perform badly on a network.  Seems like the sort of thing one should avoid, but in this case it’s something we’re TRYING to create.  Some “real world” networking stuff is needed to see what our all-multiplayer-online games are like when you don’t have $50,000 worth of networking gear between you and the server.  I’ve been using Ubuntu as my surfing box for a year or so now, but it’s nice to actually have to learn something at work with it.  Makes me push that much harder/faster to figure out how to make it do something I want to do.  Good times.  No, really, I enjoy that.

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Posted on November 5th 2008 in Friends, General, People, Places, randomness, Sad

Nablopomo Day 2

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Cold Stares Gold stars for parenting, in which our hero wrangles a pound and a half of pot roast into an edible (and even non-life-threatening) meal, and my old job cans a few more peaches.

So, after the time change, and the kids of course not realizing the sheer joy of being able to curl up under the covers for that extra hour, we were up and at ’em.  Some coffee and scones later, and we were booked for a CanCar (the Prius, for the discerning putting-around-towner).

Off to MEC, which wasn’t open yet, so we schlepped the four or so blocks up Broadway to Main, went to some non-Googleable place for caffeine and muffins, and then meandered our way down 10th again.  Freakishly beautiful houses (many heritage ones) along 10th here.  Like crazy-awesome places that are solid stone and giant beams with yards and old trees and just plain, like, HOMES, man.  Who knew Vancouver still had ’em.  Of course, in our bubble’s-a-poppin‘ Vancouver financial venue, these places are all probably pegging in at roughly the annual salary (plus unlisted bonus) of certain executives at my last job.

So, no, we’re not buying in the area quite yet.  Ahee.  Still, nice to see that they’re not all turned into quadruplexes and condo-wanna-bes.

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Posted on November 2nd 2008 in Brainfarts, Friends, General, Grumpy Old Man, People, Places

I’m such a slacker.

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I used to make this trip to/from work as often as possible (I was shooting for three times a week):

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Now I make this trip, and it takes about 4 minutes (6 if I hit red lights).


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Gotta love a 4 minute commute.
Oh, and since it’s all uphill on the way home, it’s a whopping 10 minutes.

But since I’m doing that EVERY DAY, it’s not going badly.

I’ve only walked to/from work a few times, and those were for medical reasons.

Posted on October 15th 2008 in General, Hardware, Places, randomness

Haha… ha… uh… huh?

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Okay, so I’m out bombing around the net like I’m likely to do on a Tuesday night looking for something about a particular primary religious figure being a zombie, and I come across this photo

on a page with a bunch of other things scrolling and then my brain says “what’s STRETRODRUNIAL?” and so I Google some of the words (and here they are so Google robots will find ME wondering about THAT):

WINTER
8,685,000,000 GALAXIES
NBC:GRUTROGRONIAL BROADCASTS
STRETRODRUNIAL
ENDEAVORS DEVOTIONS
PHRITROCINIAL

, and find another photo of what appears to be the same dude, somewhere nearby

photo by mquinnsweeney

so then I start removing and/or correcting the words from the sign, and find this different-but-same sign

Photo by niallkennedy

Photo by niallkennedy

Yeah, that’s what it said:

Carlfield
8,645,000 Galaxies
CNN: Shogrofrenical Broadcasts
Lygrogrenial
Gestures Captions
Citrostrenikal

The caption/title on the last one says Frank Chu, so maybe this is who does these weird signs, but my brain is just whining at me “What *IS* is though?  What’s happening?  Is this a thing?  Is a thing happening?  Tell me!”

Do you figure if I threaten to send my brain to bed without any supper, it’ll stop whining?

So when you wonder what I’m doing at 11:30 at night, when I should really be sleeping, or making lunches for tomorrow or something?

This is it.

I’ll probably search a little more tonight, but hey, if anyone can point me in the right direction, by all means, let ‘er rip.

Posted on August 26th 2008 in Brainfarts, People, Places, randomness

Oh, are you still here?

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This was going to start as a little piece talking about how much more time I spend at Facebook, but I don’t spend much time AT Facebook, I’ve been spending time chatting with friends VIA Facebook.  See, there’s this chat system, and it’s meant to allow users who are on FB to chat with others on FB, “live.”  It’s their way of keeping you at the site, and hopefully looking at the odd advertisment for whatever it is (I seem to have a well-developed set of side-banner blinders, to the point that I’ve been at “dark underbelly of the web” sites looking for information about a server exploit or something, and had my then-very-young son point at a picture on the sidebar and ask “Where’d that lady’s clothes go?”)

So yeah, so I don’t see the ads, sorry Facebook, sorry Google.  I don’t see ’em.

Even worse though, is that I no-longer even VISIT Facebook any more, since my Blackberry has a Facebook app that handles messages, pokes, photos (including uploading, how “this just in” of me), status updates, and wall posts.  See?  Almost everything you need to do on FB is on my BB.  But no chat.  If I wanted to chat with my FB friends, I had to visit the site.

A few weeks ago, Digsby changed all that.  Digsby handles email notifications, instant messaging, AND Social notifications (including Facebook, including the chat feature).  Don’t need to go there any more.

OH, and it does this weird little chat widget thingie.  I think it’s over on the right there somewhere, right?

Yeah, pretty hip.

So, I’m going to try to write a little more about all the nerdy stuff that’s going on.  I’m learning things again, and that’s good.  I wasn’t learning much at EA any more.  There were things I didn’t know (believe me), but I wasn’t learning any more, ’cause I was too busy writing up documentation for people who wouldn’t read it, so when they freaked out that the latest version of something was (omigod) DIFFERENT, we could try to defend ourselves by showing glossy versions of what was freely and widely available in the way of documentation online.  Sad.

Whew, was that a bitter moment?

Yeah, so if you hit my Delicious list, you’ll see what sorts of things I’ve been linking/saving, including Timbap, which is this crazy “plug a turntable into your computer and then put a timecoded record on the platter, and BOOM, you’ve got the ability to play MP3s…” thing, and I was like “I can spin MP3s on my computer and my turntable for $12 instead of $250?” until I realized that it was just a way to SELECT MP3s and then hit play.  Not a way to control how fast they play (at least, I don’t think so).

What else?  Oh yeah, I went to NewType Computer Workshop and playing with an ASUS EEEPC, which was a sorta-failed attempt at making a laptop for kids.  They crazy cheap (most models under $400), very small, reasonably fast, and look sorta like the big brother to a Nintendo DS (not the Lite, but the big plastic & MarioKart style).  I tried it out for a minute or two, and thought this is really cool, if I was about 30% smaller, all over.  It’s a neat machine, but I am too big for it.  My fingers wouldn’t really ever get “fast” on one of these things, and I didn’t see a mouse for it, so control of the mouse would be non-existant.  All in all, a cute device, but not something an old Road Worrier like me would use to keep in touch with the office.  I have a Blackberry for that, I guess, and I can type pretty quickly on that, so I’m good.

I’ll have to check out Dell’s new “E” series laptops when they hit the shelves.

What kinda nerdery are YOU folks up to?

Posted on July 30th 2008 in Hardware, Hey Cool, Music, Places, Software

I think I’m going to like working here…

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I got this apron from work.
…yeah… I know it’s a game company
…I don’t know what aprons have to do with video games either. Maybe we’re making an online cooking game, who knows? Nobody ever tells me anything. I mean, it’s kind of random, but it could be worse. They could have given us… like…. socks or something. What? You know, socks! With like, the company logo on them? Stop looking at me like that, it’s not THAT weird. At least socks are practical… This one time, at E.A? they gave us these metal chunks that kind of looked like the company logo… nobody had any clue what it was. I would have loved to have been at the meeting where that got approved… “Okay, we’re partnered with a junkyard to provide us with chunks of old Buicks that sort of resemble our logo… we can hand them out as presents to the employees!” …So weird. What was I talking about? Oh yeah…
How do you like your burger?

Thanks to Ripley for the modeling assist.

Oh, and just in case you’re thinking they don’t do “real” clothes, I can attest to the fact that at some point recently they made some of the nicest hoodies I’ve ever seen.  Like, better than my GapHoodie.

Okay, need to get the kids outside before all three of us lose it.

Posted on June 14th 2008 in General, Hey Cool, People, Places, Software

New theme coming soon.

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My previous one was a little *too* hip, but also only showed one post on the screen at a time.

Plus, I’m not in Dubai (I don’t think).

More serene theme coming soon.

Posted on May 29th 2008 in General, Places, Software

GTA4 – Can a toy be inherently evil?

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My mom asked me about the killing of prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto 4, as mentioned in this week’s New York Times. Here’s what I wrote back.

Edit: I refer below to “Hot Chocolate” when I mean, “Hot Coffee.”  Maybe I was hungry when I wrote this.

Can of worms, for sure, but it’s an old one (remember, ‘net years = dog years, so GTA3 came out 21 years ago)

Yeah, it’s not new, and part of the Mature rating the game has (at least, I think it’s Mature, if not higher), and while that’s something you *can* do, it’s not something that any part of the game directs you to do. Last year’s smash hit BIOShock had a component that involved killing the symbiotic counterpart of giant half-mechanized monsters who would happily ram your crushed body right through a wall if you got in their way.

The counterparts looked like evil little girls though. There was discussion in the gaming industry about how bad people felt killing little girls to get their strength back after fighting a “big daddy.” I’m not saying the topic was ever put to rest, or that everyone’s decided that “Bad Big Daddy = Bad Little Girl” but it was part of the game. It was something that gave a little more “oomph” to the emotional impact of an underwater city being taken over by some kind of virus that makes everyone go insane, including little girls and their deep-sea-diver killing machines (think the giant and the midget from Mad Max Thunderdome). You felt like this place is terrible, and you’re maybe part of what’s so terrible about it, and maybe we should just all buy a Wii and spend all day playing MarioKart Racing instead.

Yes, sadly, there’s prostitution within the game (which amounts to “pay the lady, and you get into a car, which bounces”), and it HAS been in the last two versions of the game (GTA3 and now GTA4). If I recall correctly, having sex (with a prostitute or a “love interest,” and there are some non-player-characters in the game you can go on “dates” with) will give you some health back. That’s the only thing I could see someone saying the game invites you to do. Killing doesn’t do anything for you.

But it’s not *just* prostitutes you *can* run over, it’s everything, and everyone. GTA3 was the first game to have this sort of “open world” where anything that was possible within the realm of (game) physics was possible to do. If you could jump your car off the top of the building into that police helicopter, killing yourself, the pilot, and forty bystanders, it would let you do that. In GTA4, you can have your (real) friends jump into a car that you’re driving, which (I’m told) usually turns into a Keystone Cops moment of friends running their friends over many times before finally saying “Okay, I’m stopping the car for real this time.”

It was never a mission within the game though. The game doesn’t *make* you do it. It’s not a mini-game, or some sort of unlockable. It’s a thing you *can* do, if you want to, but you need to go out of your way to do it. The game increases your danger for killing people you haven’t been giving a mission to kill. The ‘hood will come after you, (as will the cops) for killing *anyone*, including random little old ladies, sweaty dudes with baseball bats, and other gangsta wanna-bes like yourself.

Saying that GTA4 “invites” the killing of a particular group of people is taking a pretty narrow view of what an open world is. When Halo came out, folks spent MONTHS trying to get piles of grenades to make jeeps fly through the air, killing people, and monsters, and the law of gravity as efficiently as possible. People get married in World of Warcraft, get divorced in TheSims Online, and cause huge swarms of flying penises to interrupt live CNN interviews in Second Life (no, really, that happened).

They are all things to do in-game, things that the game engine allows, and you’ve got to wonder why people fixate on it in a game (or why there needed to be prostitutes in GTA at all), but there’s nothing stopping you from doing it. While we’re at it, can someone please explain why there’s always the “stripclub scene” in every cop movie up until about 93? At least GTA is full of mafia, so they could claim that the sex, drugs, violence and swearing are all due to The Sopranos being the #1 show on HBO for five years (or maybe it was Six Feet Under, for exactly the same reasons).

More damning than the prostikilling in GTA3 was the “Hot Chocolate” mission, which was an ACTUAL mission in the game. The mission demanded that you went through an insanely elaborate bunch of milestones in a certain amount of time (and I think it had to be in a certain order) and then you unlocked the OPTION of blocky-animated moderately-graphic sex between consenting adults.

Remember the Adventure64 game, when you’d die if you moved in the dark without a lamp for more than three moves because you’d “fall and break your neck”? Remember what I did to get past that part? Yeah, I removed the RETURN in the subroutine, so I could still SEE for long enough to get through the cave to where there was light again. Yes, I cheated, and that’s what a small group within the PC-gaming community did when they figured out there was this mission called “Hot Chocolate” in GTA3 that they couldn’t seem to figure out how to unlock, or what it was about (whenever a new GTA game comes out, the community collectively starts pulling it apart in any way they can using decoding, HexEditors, and DiskInspection, to see what’s in it, what the cheat codes are, and how to make their car into a semi-transparent tank that belches blue smurfs out the exhaust and fires spaghetti out the front).

{Okay, so that one’s not real, but you get the idea}.

Hot Chocolate was something that was written by (probably) one or two people, tucked away in some deep dark scary place in the code, and after MANY MANY interviews with the developers and their parent-companies, found to be something that no normal human being would EVER find, even if they were TRYING to. EVEN if you WERE a gamer…

BUT a bunch of game crackers figured out how to trick the game into thinking that this crazy impossible mission had actually been completed, and would show you sex that was slightly more obvious than trying to watch scrambled satellite signals of “9 1/2 Weeks.”

Does GTA invite killing prostitutes? Does it invite bad driving? Does it invite not showering, sleeping, or going to work/school? Does it invite showing up to pick up a date in a stolen semi-trailer that’s plastered with dead bodies and phonebooths because you “had leetle trouble” finding the street your girlfriend lives on?

To be honest, I don’t know.

It’s an environment. It’s a physics engine. It’s a very nice physics engine in a brutal and dangerous environment.

It doesn’t invite anything more horrifying than 90% of the movies in theatres around Hallowe’en.

It simply invites.

What you DO with that invitation is up to you, but the game isn’t smart enough to stop you from being an asshat.

At this point, if you have questions, it’s worth talking to your 15yo son about what he’s DOING in the game. Who is his character? What sorta “robbing a bank for medicine for your dying daughter” missions has he accepted? Which ones has he turned down? Is it fun? Scary? Sexy? Dangerous? Tough? Cool? Pretty? Evil?

It’s a toy. A freakishly elaborate toy. But a toy.

…but it’s absolutely your job to call “Bullshit!” when people start saying “Oh well, boys will be boys.”

Thoughts? I’m okay with comments and discussion, but will delete troll posts. It’s my blog – my rules. Go argue on the NYTimes if you want to play slapsies online with strangers.

Posted on May 28th 2008 in People, Places, Software

Oh, and know what’s weird here?

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People here will say things like
“Go on with your bad self.”
and aren’t being funny, or quoting anything, and they’ll be saying it in response to things like (it seems)…

“I think that application you reinstalled for me remotely is working properly again.”
“Go on with your bad self.”

…and I imagine that the person on the other end is either an ex James Brown Allstars Member, OR some very tense person, who is vibrating with pent-up rage on the other end of the phone, while tied to a 2L SODA bottle full of coins.

Oh, and I was told “Aw dawg you d’man,” for figuring out which chocolate bar I “wanted” (some sorta monsterized “Two Stick Kit Kat” thing) in order to “accidentally” knock this guy’s chips from their jammed position in the vending machine.

Shhhhh….   I should be sleeping.

Dinner tonight at Chillis.  Not bad.  Like Red Robin, with more… spicy.

Oh, and this morning when I woke up to the local hiphop radio station, it was the Fugees’ “Ready Or Not.”  I think everyone should wake up to the sound of Lauryn Hill droppin’ science.

I play my enemies like a game of chess, where I rest,
No stress
If you don’t smoke sess, lest.
I must confess, my destiny’s manifest
In some Goretex and sweats I make treks like I’m homeless
Rap orgies with Porgy and Bess,
Capture your bounty like Elliot Ness, YES
Bless you if you represent the Fu
But I’ll hex you with some witch’s brew if you’re Doo Doo
Voo Doo,
I can do what you do, easy, BELIEVE ME
Frontin’ niggas give me hee-bee-gee-bees
So while you’re imitating Al Capone
I’ll be Nina Simone
And defacating on your microphone.

Go on with your bad selves.

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Posted on February 4th 2008 in Hey Cool, Music, Places

Pedalling my butt around town.

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A long time ago, in a Valley far far away, I used to ride my bike a lot.

Like, a LOT.

And now, with the help of Google Maps, I’m going to bore the heck out of you while figuring out how far I was actually riding, if you’ll bear with me.

Starting when I was about 16, I was riding my bike 16km to school, the first six of which was down a windy mountain road until I hit the bottom of the valley, and then flat. Not a big deal, but getting home? In two years, I *might* have done that ride 1/3rd of the time. Maybe. I remember not having an odometer, so I was counting the rotations of my pedals while riding some long straight bits (Prest Rd. was psychologically difficult, even though it was straight and flat).

When I had my first post-highschool job, and first apartment, with my first post-highschool girlfriend, I was riding to/from work, and while only 7km, there was a horrifying hill called Mariner, which was a winding climb that was bad enough that I’d listen to car engines struggle on the way up, and listen to truck brakes grind and smoke on the way down. Psychologically, this hill was painful. The first week or two or riding up every day, I was having to stop, get off, and walk, or brakestand to catch my breath and stretch my legs . I worked with a guy named Boraz Carrera (pronounced like “Boris”), I think, who, in that “West Coast Italian Ehhhh…. no problem” way he had, explained that hill climbing shouldn’t ever be about pain in your legs, because “your legs can only hurt so much, and then they can’t hurt MORE, they just keep hurting the same.”

He might have been full of horse pucky on me not actually damaging my leg muscles, but damned if his advice didn’t work. I still look at a hill and go “Oh, ew, no.” but can climb it anyway, remembering Boraz’ “yoda-the-sherpa” advice.

When I was living in East Van, I was carless, and was riding 19Km to and from work, and can still fast-forward in my mind’s eye through the entire trip, and instantly hear Public Enemy’s opening to “Fear of a Black Planet” playing on those beautiful summer mornings. Still one of the best albums to cycle to, in my opinion.

Then there was a great dearth of bike riding, except for a short time when I was doing little zips (9km) around Stanley Park’s SeaWall, which was (oddly enough, pretty much flat).  Like, maaaaaybe did that a half dozen times before my bike was stolen from the lockup in our basement.

Oh, but then I bought another NEW bike, (new to me) for $100, and then that got stolen from work.

Last Spring, I bought a brand new swankity bike.  A Trek 7100 or something.  Light.  Sturdy.  21speeds of over-raised seat craziness.  A few trips (and one care package from my mom) later, and I’m decked out for anything except black ice, it seems.  If the weather’s +4 or better (allegedly 38, for our friends to the South, if you use Bob & Doug MacKenzie’s “double it and add 38” rule), I’m riding to work now every other day.

My little computer tells me it’s *just* shy of 11km when I use the routes I’ve picked for lowest psychological impact.  Also, I want to arrive at work looking like I’ve been cycling, not looking like I’m REcycled (gettit? huh? haha? no? okay), so my ride TO work is slight hillier in the beginning than on the way home.

Google Maps is lying, but this is sort-of my route to work.  Takes me between 35 & 45 minutes now, which isn’t too bad for an old dude like me.

Further news as events warrant, must go play Guitar Hero II and finish recovering DJBrokeman’s data from his drive that cacked on him recently.

Oh, and have a little hope for me in my board meeting tomorrow, okay, there’s still work to be done, but MAYBE it’s getting better.  We’ll see.  We’ll see.

Posted on January 7th 2008 in General, Music, Places
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