Sunday, November 29, 2009

Netflix's Customer Service Box

Dear Netflix, please let me out of your little customer service box.

I hooked up the PS3 streaming disc as was watching a movie. One of my PS3 controllers was low on battery after an extremely long session of "Demon's Souls" which is almost impossible to pronounce correctly. Go on try it and remember, apostrophe 's' and plural.

Anyway, I plugged the cable into the PS3. The controller wasn't actually connected to the cable which may or may not matter. The result; however, was the PS3 shut off. Is this a problem related to the PS3 or Netflix. I dunno but I thought I would report it to Netflix. ...only I can't.

Netflix's website insists on pre-defining your customer service experience. There is no way for you to actually enter an issue they haven't expected you to have.

Let's start with even trying to report an issue with streaming through the PS3. The only options you are allowed to have are:
• The disc arrived broken
• The disc is scratched or unplayable
• I received the wrong disc
• I have lost the disc, and need a replacement
• I haven't received the disc
Absolutely nothing about any problem you having with the service itself, not even an option for "other."

What if I went to the section to report a problem with the movie? That doesn't work either; because, the only options that come up are to report problems with movies that I already watched. The movie that I was in the middle of watching isn't listed.

What if I decided to go off the sidewalk, and just report the problem with the movie I failed to watch by selecting one I did watch, did not have a problem with, but is on the list that I am allowed to choose from? I could just explain that this wasn't the movie I was having a problem with and detail my problem, right? Nope, because there is no way to explain the problem again, only pre-defined choices:
Please tell us if you experienced any of the following problems. (Check all that apply)
• Audio did not match the picture/was out of sync
• Parts of the audio were missing or cut-off
• No subtitles on a foreign language film
• Picture was blurry
• Picture was unwatchable or missing
• Wrong movie/TV episode started playing
• Unexpected pauses/frequent stops and starts
There is a continue option at the bottom, and from the way it words the question, leads me to believe I don't have to select any of those options and can go onto the next page where I can actually tell them about my problem. Nope. You press continue, even without selecting a single problem from their list, and you get, "Thanks for your input. We will investigate and resolve the problems as soon as possible."

Good to hear, glad their on top of things.

Though to be fair, I am enjoying my Netflix subscription and really haven't had any other problems. Now that I'm working again, I have even increased my disc limit to two DVDs at a time. I really can't believe all the good, new TV shows that came out and you people let get canceled while I was in Australia. Shame on you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Break Things

Things don’t work for me, mostly electronic / computer type things. Unless somebody is watching. I may have mentioned that before, but this is a story of what my evening has been like.

I got one of the new Xbox 360 Wireless ‘N’ Network adapters. It is brand new, ordered from Amazon and shipped the day it was released. I put the Driver disc in my new Xbox 360 as instructed and it doesn’t install any drivers. It just tells me it is a “Mixed Media Disc” with only the option to eject it. I popped it into the computer and I can see the files on it just fine. But I am told that just popping it into the 360 should start running the driver install process.

I went to the Xbox website. They don’t even list the new wireless adapter on the site. I filled out an email service request form. When I pressed submit, it told me that nothing matched my search. I am sure I wasn’t filling out a search. Luckily, when I pressed the back button my data was still in all the fields. When I pressed submit again it went through. I gave me an email service request number, but oddly enough didn’t send me one of those generic “We have received your service request and somebody will answer you soon” generic emails. It has been 24 hours and no response, they not work weekends?

I decided to see if I could Google some information. I found an article on the new adapter on Tom’s Hardware. Mostly the comments section was divided between the people who were going off about how Microsoft and the Xbox suck and those people who just thought the adapter was way to expensive. I posted a comment… I know, I know. But that isn’t the point, and please don’t bring up the Xbox/PS3 debate or even how expensive the wireless adapter was. I needed one for reasons that are none of your business, and that isn’t the point of this.

The point is that Tom’s hardware lets you make the comment and then just asked for you user name and an email address. It then sends the follow email:
Thank you for your participation in Tom's Hardware!

You have less than 48 hours to register with your Username and Email Address.

Username : "XXXXXXXX"

To register, please click on the link below:

If you don't validate your account within 48 hours, your Username and Email Address will be automatically deleted.

Tom's Hardware Team

This email is generated automatically; replies are not read. To contact us, please use the contact form on the site.
You can see the link isn’t tied to my email address as a confirmation or anything. I just takes me to their registration page which gives me two options: “Sign up for free by clicking 1” and “Already member.” You’ll note that both of those don’t actually make sense.

I suspect the first should be reworded to “Sign up for free!” and then have another title that says, “New Member.” he second one is missing the article and should be, “Already a member.”

Anyway, I fill out the first one. It tells me, “The email address is already in use.” If I click on the “Already member” option it asks for a username and password, which I don’t have. I try entering what I would have as a user name as password if I did have one, but that didn’t work. The window has its own “Not a Member” link but when I try to fill it out, it keeps telling me that my email in the two fields (you know, the standard thing where they make you type it twice just in case) don’t match. I copy and pasted them in making sure there were no extra spaces screwing it up and even reloaded the page and tried it again from scratch.

Finally, I go to the recover account information and enter my email which it tells me does not exist in their database.

I can’t find the “contact form on the site” which the email mentions but does not link to.

So, is it just me or is it Tom’s Hardware that is fubar? I am willing to believe it is just me; because as I've said, this stuff happens to me all the time!

So in the end I’m going back to playing Demon's Souls on my PS3.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joining the Jet Set crowd

So it looks like I have procured gainful employment and am joining the work force again. The jet set gang over at Jet Set Games have decided they wanted their office adorned with my Homestar Runner figures. That means they have to pay me to show up every day and dust them.

Jet Set was formed last year by Westwood Studios Alumni Bret Sperry, Adam Isgreen, Rade Stojsavljevic and Steve Wetherill. Besides working with such wonderful talent again, this also means I get to stay in Las Vegas.

So let's add this up: new car, new job, possibility of being able to move back into my house next year when the tenants' lease is up. So that just leaves one thing... anybody know any cute single women?

Zoom Zoom Stripes!

I had planned on getting up really early this morning and heading up to Red Rock when the loop opens at 7 AM to take some pictures of the car with the racing stripes. I did get up on time, but I woke up with a monster headache. I didn't get out of the house till 9 and just took a couple of quick shots. I'm planning on staying up late playing video games tonight, so I probably won't get to Red Rock till next weekend.

1234I originally was going to go with Black stripes, then was thinking Dark Grey, then I saw pictures of White stripes on albeit, darker Grey car. I had one of those gut feelings that don't usually lead me astray, so I went for it. They guy at Eco-Tint had originally spoke up against White, but the result won him over.

I got the car registered after only three hours. I even got the same personalized plates I had on my old '99 Miata. It was still on hold, but since I was the previous owner, the woman got her supervisor to release it. It's nothing special, just my initials, JBHIV. I did get the "United We Stand" plate with the eagle and American flag. I thought about getting a space before 'the fourth' this time, but that plate only allows five characters. I still don't have the title for the car. The things I've gone through with the dealership in Van Nuyes you wouldn't believe. I thought I was done with them when they finally sent me the Manufactures Certificate of Origin, but they didn't fill in the millage section so I spent another two hours at the DMV for nothing.

I do want to say I am having a blast with the car. I'm zoom zooming all over the place. Though I do have one small problem. Cup Holder Fail:

Miata Cup Holder Fail

Friday, October 16, 2009

Zoom Zoom is BACK!

If you don't hear from me for awhile, it isn't because I'm off on a fun filled, exciting road trip... more likely I'm still stuck at the DMV.

Friday, October 02, 2009


A long time ago I posted about how to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. You can read all about it here. I am writing you now to make an update. Somebody mentioned putting peanut butter on both slices of bread and then putting on the jelly. Yeah, I shot them down right away.

But then last month somebody brought it up again. Again I leveled my guns on them, but then they brought up a point that I hadn't considered. If you are planning on eating the sandwich right away, as you are want to do, let the jelly breath by applying it directly to the bread. However, if you are wisely planning for the future, packing away the sandwich for a quick, delicious snack later, THEN you want to apply peanut butter to both bread slices and have the jelly between them. The reason, as was pointed out to me, was that the peanut butter prevents the jelly from soaking through the bread.

Thankfully I was able to get you this information to you before it was too late.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Retro Gamer - Lands of Lore

Issue 67 of Retro Gamer is finally out unless you live elsewhere in which case you already missed it. Not sure why the U.S. is a month behind. Why issue 67? Because that is the issue with the long over due "Lands of Lore" article. Damien McFerran actually interviewed Rick Gush and myself over two years ago, back when I was living in Brisbane. Damien's finishing of the article was interrupted by his wife having a baby, his triumphant return to the Tour de France and drafting Obama's Presidential acceptance speech. Did that come off as funny or mean? I was trying for funny. Writing it a little off at the moment, I'm watching the Emmy award show and I'm a bit upset Neil Patrick Harris wasn't in the red and black Dr. Horrible uniform. Why would he go back to the white uniform when the red and black one was so much more evil?

Okay, sorry. Seriously Damien's wife did have a baby. Again, congrats on that! Then the article was originally supposed to be in issue 64, but the editor felt that that issue had to many "making of" articles so he decided to push it back.

Unfortunately, the layout artist of the issue was too smart to publish the picture I gave him of members of the team. Actually, it is a picture of the "Eye of the Beholder" team, though it was pretty much the same people on "Lands of Lore." Note to the guy who wrote the Wiki article, Westwood did not split from SSI over artistic differences. Westwood became a part of Virgin Games, though we still provided a lot of help, support and love to our friends over at SSI while there were doing the EOB III. And if you don't beleive me, you'll have to deal with my bad-ass self from the early 90's in the picture. Oh yeah, don't mess with me!

It might be obvious by now that I am really just typing away trying to add some meat to this post to balance out the two pictures. I don't want to actually post a copy of the article itself until it has been off the shelf for a few months. It a glorious 3 page article with a nice shout out to the late great Rick Parks. I think you should rush right out and buy at least two issues. I did.

Friday, September 18, 2009

How to win friends and influence people

My beard is starting to turn grey. It is really annoying that it is doing so in patches so it looks really bad and I’ve had to start dyeing it. I have been thinking about how I can turn this to my advantage. I’ll admit that my thoughts were initially more along the lines of dating, but as that hasn’t been working out too well I’ve decided focus on other areas.

I am hoping that I’ll be getting a job pretty soon (praying) and a new job brings new people, new opportunities to make a first impression. So, I am thinking of ways to convince these new people that I’m a time traveler. This may have something to do with the fact that I’m watching Journeyman on Hulu. You people sure let them cancel some good TV shows while I was out of the country.

First thing is that I am going to start sneaking off to dye or shave my beard back down during the day. The ‘shaving it back down’ thing has to do with how I keep it pretty short and am always shaving it back to stubble. After four or more days since my last dye job, I can go from brown back to grey-ish. This means that I can appear to alter my apparent age.

I am also going to start carrying around another set of cloths and change in and out of them at odd times. If anybody notices I’ll either deny it or make overly lame excuses. One trick I just thought of is to have two identical shirts and pre-stain one with ketchup or something. That is the one I’ll start the day in. Then I’ll switch to the non-stained shirt and make sure it’s noticed by some people who I’ll later let see me “accidently” spill some ketchup on it.

I’ll also throw in some more subtle conversational bits. I am going to start asking people the date and then when they tell me, I’ll say, “yeah, but what year?” I’ll spend time on movie spoiler sites and then casually working in tidbits of information about movies that aren’t out yet into conversations. Occasionally after asking a question about whether or not somebody has done something and told no, I’ll follow it up with a serious sounding, “good, that means there is still time!”

Now you are probably thinking that these new people may read my blog and see this post. Experience has taught me that although people I work with may occasionally read my blog, they never read too far back into the older posts. But in thinking of this I realize that I can also leverage the thing I discovered about how Blogger publishes posts that started as drafts by the time and date I first started writing them. By occasionally starting posts and saving them as drafts, I’ll be able to go back and seemly make posts in the past filled with things that I wouldn’t have known at the time of the postings, like this post I made back on December 14, 2008. Hey, that reminds me those aliens are due to land next month!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Publishing in the Past

Oh that sucks. Because the "I'm Batman" blog post was actually started and saved as a draft, before I got tired of tossing and turning last night and wrote the Warehouse 13 post; when posted it inserted itself before the "Warehouse 13" post. (Was that sentence punctuated correctly?)

It should always put posts up by the date & time the user presses the publish post button.

What use would I have for posting things in the past? People coming to the blog's main link will see the top post and think the blog hasn't been updated. Stupid move Blogger.

Warehouse 13

I've been watching Warehouse 13 on SyFi since it started and I really haven't been impressed yet. It seems so dumbed down. I kind of view it as the Sci-fi version of NCIS and CSI. Let's just make crap up and insult everybody with a brain because most people don't have one. They are crime scene investigators, why are they investigating the crimes, interviewing suspects and arresting people! They aren't even cops let alone police detectives! I know people like those shows, as they are doing quite well in the ratings. It is probably just me. But what is the Internet for if not a place to vent.

So on with the venting about Warehouse 13! In the latest one, episode 10, "Breakdown," Claudia Hacks the door keypad by using an "ASCII-Binary-Algorithm?" Okay, even if that made even a little sense, how do you do that by entering numbers into a keypad? Not that you have to bother with that; because, a well placed kick can disable the whole ultra, super security lock on the scary Dark Vault.

What is next? Is somebody going to re-route the encryptions? Divert power through the deflector dish? re-shizzel the fah-shizzel? Please, can these shows get a tech-writer or something? Maybe teach these people that you can't write a program to do anything in 30 seconds by banging on the keyboard no matter how much flashy graphics you have on screen. Maybe if you used the mouse and pretended to click on drop down menus and file menus for 30 seconds I'd beleive you were actually doing something.

Oh and the Dark Vault with it's ultra, super "purple" containment fields because we've never seen a black light before.

Okay on to the acting on the show. I'm fine with the delivering of the lines part. It isn't the greatest acting in the world, but I've seen much worse. What really bothers me is the way they move sometimes, the lack of any effort on the physical acting. Dodging the lighting bolt thing that went down the corridor, they didn't even really get out of the corridor let alone make me think they really were seeking cover. In a previous episode they take cover behind something while somebody is shooting at them, only they aren't really doing a very good job of it with half their bodies still stick out where they could get shot. They looked more like they were just getting more comfortable so they could continue their conversation.

Again in episode 10, at the end where Claudia trying to act like the Silly String is really hard to break wasn't working for me. It could be the Silly String's fault that it drooped and didn't look like it was resisting her slow, agonizing pulls. But then even when Myka and Claudia are struggling not to get pulled into the gears, they arn't really selling it.

You know the one thing that I would have forgiven all the other stuff in that episode for. If Myka had done something like lifted up her shirt, instead of using a broom to knock Peter away from Sylvia Plath's typewriter, and that caused him to snap out of it. Not asking for nudity, just a harmless over the shoulder shot where she lifts up her shirt and a reaction shot from him. Because really, if the broom worked she could have just ran and tackled him away from it in half the time it took for her to run out of the room and find the janitor's closet... assuming it wasn't an evil broom artifact.

Another little annoyance. They put all this emphasis on low-techy-tech, yet have these custom LCD displays for all the artifacts? Modern LCD screens with flashy custom animated graphics and yet the machine that keeps all the artifacts in the warehouse safe is run by a set of big, giant-toothed gears... that nobody thought to put a cover over... even though it they are right under some sort of air vent with space enough for frick'n can of Evil Silly String to fall though?!

I like that they finally vented one of my other fustration issues in episode 7, "Emplosion" by addressing the Gandalf syndrome problem the show has. You know where the brains of the outfit can't simply take the two seconds to explain anything causing things to be way more complicated and difficult than need be. My theory is Marty can't explain anything because even the writers don't even know what is going on. At least we have on-going plotline now and maybe they have mapped some more of the mythos out.

Okay, I'll stop whining now, at least until the toilet Elvis died on shows up as an evil artifact.

See, you last that long through one of my stupid rants you get a decent joke. Admit it you laughed. Don't try and say you didn't. Next time the show comes up in conversation, you know you'll be bringing up the possibility of the evil Elvis killing toilet artifact.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'm Batman!

Wow. Batman: Arkham Asylum really took me by surprise. Of the four PS3 games I have, it is the one I would have put last on my list of what I thought I’d enjoy.

As it turns out, I had just forgotten how much I loathe trying to play First-Person Shooters on a console system; so that kills two of my four games. Seriously, it’s like I’m floating around while looking at the world through a paper-towel tube.

The fourth game is Little Big Planet, and the spongy jump is getting on my nerves. I’m hoping the level building stuff will be fun, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet as Batman took all my time. I finished it last Friday and I’ve been replaying it on hard, though I did just pick up Assassin’s Creed PS3 used for $17 and Braid PC on special this weekend on Steam for $5.

I read a number of reviews where Batman: Arkham Asylum is being called this year’s BioShock and frankly, I don’t see it. Other than the visuals and atmosphere, where I see the comparison on quality, I think Batman eats BioShock’s lunch. I’m saying that having played BioShock on the PC for those of you paying attention where I mentioned my view on FPSs on a console system. Anyway, Arkham Asylum’s story may or may not be better, but I think it came across as part of the game better. The depth of the gameplay is better. Arkham Asylum is a much better game.

The camera work was amazing, Batman hardly ever got in my way. I remember how frustrated I got at the old Alone in the Dark game back in the early 90's because of the way they handled the camera. We have certainly come a long way. (BTW, Has anybody played the new Alone in the Dark: Inferno?")

The world is very immersive and beautifully rendered. The game is a confined, open world; meaning you’re stuck on Arkham Island but it isn’t a series of levels your forced though. You travel back and forth across the island and through its buildings all of which change a bit as the story progresses. That is exactly the type of set-up I like in a game. It makes it feel like a real place. I hate games that are nothing but hallways. Even Half-Life 2 is really nothing but a game full of well disguised hallways.

The gameplay in Arkham Asylum feels great. The controls are intuitive and easy to master; and that is being said by somebody who hasn’t seriously played with a console controller in a few years. Although, I do have a small problem with the combat system in the game. Don’t get me wrong, it was easy and fun. But it was kind of too easy. The extra combat combos and other unlocks didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t able to use them very much. The combos themselves are only available after you chain a certain number of attacks and the situation is right. In

my case, by the time I noticed that the combo was available; it was too late to use it. All of the other unlocks felt a bit useless. It took more time and effort to try and use them when I could just have easily defeated the goons normally. I felt a little like they designed and balanced this decent combat system and then added the extra stuff instead of having it all in the mix in the beginning. Maybe that was just me and not having played a console game in awhile. I would have rather see those just unlocking generic combos that you could use much more freely. Again, just to be clear, the basic system was still fun. I was Batman and I kicked some butt exactly as Batman should.

The best thing about the game is that it is Batman in this world. Batman feels like the big, bad, Dark Knight. He looks grim and gruff, and even that evolves as the game progresses; rips appear on his costume, he gets bruised a bit and even develops a five o’clock shadow. He moves, gestures, and fights exactly like Batman should. And when you are controlling him, you feel like Batman. It really hit home for me when I was spraying the explosive gel on a wall, and didn’t bother to step back before blowing it up. In another game Batman might have taken damage and that would have taken away from the mystic that this is actually Batman. In Arkham Asylum Batman simply turns his face away from the explosion and takes it like a man with no damage.

The designers/writers/artists also included a lot of subtle things that really show you how much of a grip they had on the source material. I’m not a big Batman reader myself, but even I was catching lots of little things.

The voice actors were also great, I beleive they are a lot of the same people from the cartoon series including Mark Hamill as the Joker. Excellent.

Some of the other nitpicks I had besides combat being a little too easy, was that I felt like I had to always run around in Detective Mode. Even though its graphic effect was subtle, I would have rather enjoyed the visuals naturally without the color shift, but it was too easy to otherwise miss things like hidden Riddler’s question marks alignment puzzles which you could only see in Detective Mode.

I also didn’t like that some of the Riddler “camera puzzles” were ones that you couldn’t solve unless you came back later in the game when you got some more equipment. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure them out only to find that I needed the zip line or something else that I wouldn’t get till much later in the game. I’m fine with some of the Riddler’s other hidden stuff not being accessible right away, but the “camera puzzles” text are thrown in your face when you enter a new area so I expected to be able to solve them.

Control wise, when doing the hanging movement along a ledge, the game tilted the camera at an angle but you still moved the joystick straight to the side. I thought they should have let you move the joystick to the side in a matching angle to move Batman to the side. Wouldn’t have hurt to have both directly to the left or angled to the left work.

Story nitpicks:

Batman can remotely summon the Batwing to fly in so he can get his zip-line launcher out of the glove compartment (which I really wish he’d brought with him in the first place) but he can’t use it to fly out some Arkham personnel? Especially since he keeps finding guards and doctors, telling them to sit tight, only to find them dead next times he comes through.

About the entrance to Croc’s Lair from Batcave: Batman says, “I found a door in the Batcave, but it was locked.”

Umm, didn’t YOU build the Batcave? And isn’t it supposed to be a secret? If somebody is building new passageways, and putting in locked doors you can't open, that’s bad.

A nitpick about the DC universe in general as far as Batman goes; reading these villian back stories, I’m seeing a constantly reoccurring pattern. So if I ever find myself in theGothem area, I need to remember to be careful to not so much as bump my head or stub my toe. If I do I’m more than likely to develop some physiological break-down and/or neurosis which will cause me to become a super-villain. This normally only seems to happen to people with names that easily, and stupidly, relate to their pending neurosis. This is so their super-villain name can be easily identified. I’ll be an ax-murderer if you were wondering, Hewitt. = Hew It.

P.S. Blogger's new (actually it's kinda old by now) editor sucks. It keeps screwing up the formatting and is just flooding the post with unnecessary HTML. It is also preventing the Crome browser's spell checker from working at times. I also have no idea why these last two paragraphs are printing in a lighter color. Spent a few minutes trying to fix them, then I stopped caring as I have other things I need to go do.

P.S.S. Yeah, like I could let something like that go. I fixed the color.

Rocket Fuse

A number of the talented people I used to work with at Interzone Games in Perth, have managed to escape the long arm of the law long enough to get together and formed their own little indie game start-up called Rocket Hands.

On the left there, starting at 12:00 and going clock-wise is Jason, Anthony, Brad, Daniel, Jack, Robert and Simon.

They just released their first iPhone game called Rocket Fuse for the iPhone. If you're sensing a rocket theme going on, you're not alone.

I'd love to tell how great it is and all that, only I havn't played it. My iPhone was locked to the evil Telstra network in Australia so I had to have a violin duel out on some lonely crossroads to get out of it. Anyway the result of all that is that I no longer have my iPhone.

Here is the offical trailer video though, so you can take a look for yourself.
Do the guys a favor and pick it up.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I've finally arrived at the next generation... updating...

Back in October-ish of last year, I was in San Diego visiting the Sony Online offices. And because of somethings that were in the works finally bought a next gen game system. I think I would have gone XBox 360, but because of the SOE stuff I got a Playstation3 instead. I also bought Little Big Planet and Resistance 2.

Now in generations past I always bought every system, as soon as it came out. But living in Australia with the region codings, had me just skip this generation. I didn't want to buy a U.S. region 1 system and have to import the games and I didn't want to buy a Australian region 4 system with the risk that I'd be back here in the U.S.

I was worried about customs and such bringing it back with me to Australia, so I took it out of the box, roughed up some of the manuals, tangled up the cords, and then dragged the box across the parking lot to scuff it up. Turns out all that was completely unnecessary, but still a little fun.

Then it sat there. I couldn't find my power converter since moving from Brisbane to Perth. In February I moved back to the U.S. (and found the power converter as I was packing up the house.) It was on a boat for a few months and then when it got here I really didn't have a proper TV to hook it up to... and so on.

Then the other day I decided to take my previous generation systems down to Gamestop and trade them in. They told me they no longer take XBox systems or games, so I still have those to sell on Craig's List or something. But I did sell them my Nintendo GameCube, Playstation2, lots of extra cables & controlers, and about 35 games. In return I got Batman: Arkham Asylum, Wolfenstein, a subscription to Game Informer magazine (which is part of their Edge Card deal, which got me bonuses and discounts that affected my total), and Picross for the DS (which I had bought for Connie and she either remembered to take back from me or I lost). I also have $10 left over.

I had one PS2 game that was unopened. I was on the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' Game of the Year panel, twice. They are supposed to send you copies of the games that have been nominated. Only they tend to send you only about a third of the games you are supposed to get, a third that seem to be just random games they had lying around, and the final third you just don't get at all. As a result of this I had a few unopened games, but my roommate years ago checked out all by one of them. The Gamestop manager says he isn't allowed to take unopened games and can't buy it from me today.

I understand this is policy implemented to discourage you from stealing new games and selling them. I asked if I could go outside, open it, and come back in.

He gave me a deadpan look and said, "I can't take this from you... today."

So, I took it back and sold it to him two days later. He also gave me some advice on how much some of my XBox games are worth. The two Baulder's Gate games are supposed to fetch top dollar.

Anyway, I finally decided it was time to get the damn system hooked up. Got my LDC TV (unfortunately kinda small and not High Def) out of storage and started plugging things in. I was kinda surprised that it not only worked right away, I even got it to connect to the internet on the first try. After that shocking turn of events, I was kind of afraid to put a game in the thing.

When I finally overcame my fear and decided I needed to, as Brad Pitt said it, "kill some Nat-zies."; it told me that I needed to update the PS3. Waiting...

Then once I got that done and tried again to play, it told me I have to update the game. Still waiting...

I almost felt like doing the old man voice, "When I was a boy, Console systems was different. Didn't have no bugs, cuz you tested'em real gud! Once they was out there in da market, wasn't no way to do no updates. That was it! If ya screwed up, you was screwed!"

Woot! Update done!

Manual Sold Separately

I picked up Champions Online today. Little disappointed to see that we are back to the days of manual sold separately and called "Strategy Guide." Seriously, the game comes with a 8 page manual that mentions not one word about how to play the game. System requirements, trouble shooting and 4 pages of the End User License Agreement.

I know that the goal is to make your game good enough that you don't need a manual. I can't speak to whether this is true or not for Champions Online as I haven't had a chance to play it yet. I had a beta invite and access to the Head Start Weekend, but my gaming computer isn't set up since I getting my stuff back from Australia.

But even if you have the greatest game in the world, so great that people new the concept of playing games can play without needing a manual; what am I supposed to read while sitting in the bathroom when I get home from the store?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are we going to get another Marvel vs. Cryptic?

I was browsing through the Champion's Online forums today and I stumbled on an interesting post that got me thinking.

•Cryptic studios announced their new game, "City of Heroes" in mid-2001. It is supposed to be released mid-2002.
California-based Cryptic Studios has announced its upcoming online role-playing game, City of Heroes. The comic-book-style game lets players assume the role of a superhero and fight a variety of villains in a 3D virtual world. City of Heroes is scheduled for release in mid-2002. more...

•Cryptic studios ships "City of Heroes" April 28th, 2004. Just pointing those extra 3 years as an example for people still thinking they can ship the next ultimate MMO in a fraction of the time it has taken to develop any other even semi-successful MMO.
NCsoft announced today that City of Heroes has reached gold master status in North America and will soon be on its way to retailers in the United States and Canada. The official launch date for City of Heroes is April 28th 2004. more...

•Marvel sues Cryptic and their Publisher, NC Soft, because you can make characters in "City of Heroes" that violate their trademark and look too much like Marvel characters.
Marvel Enterprises is suing two firms behind a computer superhero role-playing game it claims allows players to make virtual characters that are too similar to "The Hulk," "X-Men" and other heroes in the comic book company's stable. more...

•Marvel's Lawsuit against Cryptic and NC Soft is dropped.
AUSTIN, Texas, December 14, 2005—Marvel Entertainment, Inc., NCsoft® Corporation, NC Interactive, Inc. and Cryptic Studios™, Inc. are pleased to announce today that they have amicably settled all claims brought by Marvel and all claims brought by NCsoft, NC Interactive, Inc. and Cryptic Studios, Inc. more...

•Cryptic announces they are now making the "Marvel Universe MMO."
Microsoft Game Studios today announced at X06 that Cryptic Studios has been chosen to be the developer of Marvel Universe Online. This MMO based on the Marvel Universe will be exclusive to Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. more...

•Marvel Universe MMO canceled in 2008.
Marvel Universe Online (the heavily anticipated MMO based on the Marvel comic book universe) is officially dead, according to Shane Kim, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios.
According to Kim, the title was canceled due to commercial considerations and a general feeling that Microsoft and MMO developer Cryptic simply couldn’t compete in the subscription-based MMO market. more...

•Cryptic announces "Champions Online" a Super-Hero based MMO based on the pen and paper roll-playing game, "Champions."
LOS GATOS, CA – February 20, 2008 – Cryptic Studios™, one of the leading independent developers of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs), announced today Champions Online™, their first ever self-developed and self-published MMORPG. Champions Online, based on the popular pen-and-paper Champions RPG, will give players the power of total customization of their hero experience while they explore a vast universe of richly detailed 3D environments. Champions Online is slated for release in Spring 2009. more...

•Players can make super-heroes that look even more like trademarked Marvel characters in "Champion Online." more...

I should admit here that I haven't gotten to play Champion's Online yet. I am signed up for the Head Start Weekend, even though the process of signing up for that doesn't tell me where to get the game client. I guess they are assuming I was involved with the beta and know to download it from Gamespy. I've asked in the forums and that seems to be the general consensus, judging from the one person who answered my post so far.

Cambria, the user who created all those X-Men and other character knock-offs in the beta says that she knows it is against the rules, but she just creates them, takes pictures of them, and then deletes the characters. There are also posts on the forums about people who have had characters in the beta that have had characters changed or deleted by Cryptic staff. So they do appear to trying to keep a lid on it to avoid more legal trouble. But names weren't the problem before, it was that the characters you could make in City of Heroes could look like Marvel's characters.

Looking through Terms of Service, Rule 10-A spells out the usual, character name limitations. The odd thing here is rule 10-A-XI "That incorporates titles, which include, without limitation, ‘rank’ titles (e.g., "GeneralJoe"), monarchistic or fantasy titles (e.g., "KingRichard")." That is odd, rank names fit into the super-hero genre and wouldn’t confuse people as to importance as it would in a fantasy game. In other words "General Chaos" would fit into a super-hero world without anybody thinking he really was a general, unlike "General Sentris" in a fantasy world where people might think I was actually a general in the game.

Sorry, moving on. What I haven’t found in their Terms of Service is any restrictions on "likeness." This combined with the vague wording of rule 10-A-V, "That is, contains, or is substantially similar to a trademark or service mark, whether registered or not, or may otherwise cause confusion." This means that I can make a big, green, muscle bound character with purple shorts and name him The Bulk. Okay, maybe rule 10-A-V would still get me on that one with its "may otherwise cause confusion." But what if I created an exact visual knockoff of Wolverine and just named him Badgerboy? or Fred?

A somewhat related tangent: Marvel Comics got a little upset with David Sim when he had Wolveroach on the cover of three issues of Cerebus the Aardvark.The Cockroach was a character he used to parody other comic characters starting with Batman. He then morphed into various other characters, one being a parody of Wolverine. Marvel got irritated that he had several issues with Wolveroach on the cover where customers could easily be confused and think they were buying a Marvel comic about Wolverine.

The comic cover thing isn't quite the same thing unless they put some character's on the box that look like Marvel characters. But, I do wonder how Marvel is going to react to this ability to make characters that look even more like their characters than they did in City of Heroes, regardless of Cryptic's naming policy.

Taboo Tuesday

My evil twin from an alternate universe, Matthew Ford, is making a big push on his FREE indie game today. The game is called Taboo Snaps and it is a wacky, somewhat perverted, spoof on Fantasy Island. You play Mr. Forke's sidekick Taboo and you assignment is to travel around Ecstasy Island, via secret underground tunnels, and take photographs of island's guests who just happen to be hot models. The hot models being your choice of Women, Men, or Women & Men. Your get to select your preference before you start.

Explore Ecstasy Island and snap pictures of sexy models. See thousands of real, top-quality photos of professional models, celebrities, and performers. Score points and grab powerups to expand your abilities. Fun for every skill level-- go mellow and slow, or eat a few magic mushrooms, speed things up, and dodge the 80's-era arcade hazards. Taboo Snaps is free to play, thanks to our advertising sponsors and photographers!

"Who in my generation didn't wonder what Mr. Roarke and Tattoo were really up to on Fantasy Island? Taboo Snaps made me laugh like crazy, and the women are gorgeous. And it's free, so what's not to like? Good times."

"I've never played anything like Taboo Snaps! I'm not a hardcore gamer now but I loved the 80's arcade games like Pac-Man, Centipede, Dig-Dug, Asteroids, and Space Invaders, and this game gives tribute to them all in a hilarious mash-up."

"For all you guys whose hormones forced you to shelve Pokemon Snap in favor of Dead Or Alive Beach Volleyball, a new Flash game comes to your rescue. In Taboo Snaps you explore a lush island to get the perfect picture not of Picachu, but of luscious girls in hot clothes-- and sometimes out of their clothes. Fun, hot, and silly. Now: where can I get a DVD of Fantasy Island??"

"If you remember the silly, smutty classic Leisure Suit Larry games, give Taboo Snaps a try. It's pretty sweet to once again have a few harmless laughs thanks to its zany characters and a bit of good old T&A. And one up on old Larry-- for those of you who want beefcake, you can pick a photoset chock full of hot guys instead! Ahh, equal opportunity sexpolitation."
What are you waiting for? Go check it out! Did I mention HOT MODELS?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rules for Video Game Serial Keys

Here are the rules for serial keys used in the video game industry, please follow them when creating and using serial keys in your game.
1. Never used letters and numbers that can be mistaken for other letters and numbers. Basically this rule means do not use 0 (zero) and O (the letter 'oh') at all in your generated key. Yes, you can put a slash through the zero or something, so that it looks different from the letter 'O'. That doesn't help the person who has a key that doesn't have both for him to compare them. He just sees a circle for the 'O' and doesn't know that your zero has a slash. It is okay to use a 1 (one) and I (capital 'i'), because you can make each look distinct in a way that by just seeing one of the two, the user knows which one it is. The mistake would be to display either as just a vertical line that could either be a "1" or "I". Pay attention to your font!

2. Print the key in the package in a big, bold, readable by people with bad eyesight, font.

3. Put some spaces in the damn thing. Nobody wants to try type in a 25 digit long key without someway of breaking it into chunks the brain can deal with. Thats why 16 digit credit card numbers are printed on the card in 4 groups of 4 digits.

4. When displaying the key as the user types it in, also automatically space the digits out the same way that you've printed as per Rule 3. That way it's easier for the user to keep track of what they are typing in.

5. Don't use upper and lower case as separate digits in the key. Only use upper case, accept keyboard entry of upper or lowercase, but display uppercase on the screen regardless.

6. Always call it by the same name. Don't label it as something like "Product Registration Number" in the packaging and then have the game ask the user to enter his "Serial Key." (Generally, picking one name for something and sticking with it should be a no-brainer for your entire game, but some people need reminding. Not mentioning any names.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Interzone Futebol Gets Publisher

Speaking of "my game", I just saw some goods news. The following press release went out the other day regarding Interzone Futebol signing a publishing deal with Gamigo AG.

Gamescom special - gamigo surprises with football MMOG

Hamburg, 21st August 2009 - gamigo AG, a leading European publisher of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), today unveiled the world's first football MMOG. gamigo and Interzone, the Australian developer of Futebol, signed the publishing contract this morning at gamescom Cologne. Futebol will be released in German and English by the end of this year, with French, Spanish, Turkish and Polish language versions following in 2010.

Fast-paced football action for up to 22 players

This realistic football simulation offers players exciting 11-a-side matches combined with action-packed gameplay. The intuitive controls are a snap for beginners while providing the finesse demanded by our more advanced gamers– they can even queue commands up to 4 seconds in advance, entirely eliminating latency issues. Players earn experience points not just by scoring goals, but by their overall performance in the match– players at all levels and in all positions will have a great time!
Even off the pitch, Futebol is amazing fun: a huge 3D city houses numerous NPCs from which the player can obtain upgrade items and customise their character’s appearance. gamigo and Interzone have even hidden mini games throughout the city for our gamers to play and earn rewards. Of course, Futebol includes the typical MMOG features with a football twist– a sophisticated skill system, clubs, leagues as well as a large 3D lobby in addition to a mass of other community features.

Exciting competitions across Europe

"Football is the national sport par excellence. With Futebol, we’re pleased to offer not only the world’s first free to play soccer MMOG, but also a lively MMO world based on the most popular sport in Europe." said Patrick Streppel, gamigo CMO. "With the launch of this title across Europe starting in Q4 this year we will surely inspire many football fans. We’re even more excited at the possibility of our players re-creating world cup matches on their PCs, come the competition next year in South Africa. "
Football fans hungry for this brand new football MMOG can register for the closed beta right now at
I know Marty and the gang have been working at this really hard at this since late last year and I know this is really good news for the guys still in Perth. Congrats everybody. Yay!

Though this just reminded me that I have to do my Australian taxes for last year ASAP!

Champions Online Doesn't Want My Money.

I am trying to buy a six month’s subscription for Champions Online, and upcoming MMO from Cryptic. They keep sending me emails saying if I pre-buy a discounted 6 month’s subscription I’ll get access some stuff including access to the Star Trek Online beta. Now, Champions was my game for a good number of years back in the late 80’s and I want to see Star Trek Online early. So I decided to spend money I really don’t have... except that they won’t let me.

It appears their web form has a little problem with the Google Chrome browser. The drop down fields for the Credit Card Type, Expiration Month, and Expiration Year are broken. They aren’t displaying correctly. They are left aligned on top of their text label and are non-interactive.

I went to the support page and one of the options it gave me was a link to the technical support forum. Only when I used the link it took me to a page that said I do not have permission to access this page. I went to enter a ticket and it wants me to pre-search their knowledge base before it allows me to do so, which is pretty standard now days. Only when I entered “google crome” as my search it comes up blank. Blank as in nothing is displayed.

I did finally get the purchase to work by loading it in Firefox. I also managed to enter a ticket saying that their purchase page is broken by searching for something else which gave me the option of creating a new ticket.

The whole thing just got me so frustrated which I suspect has a lot to do with the fact that I normally do this sort of thing for a living and not having a job at the moment. The standard operating procedure for this sort of thing in somebody else's game would be to make snide remarks to my co-workers along the lines of, "look those fools forgot to test their site on Crome!" And then see if we any of us knew somebody who worked there so we could curry favor by telling them about it. Or if was something in my own game, I could pick up the phone and light a fire under somebody; because not being to give the company money goes against what I would say is the number one goal of the company.

The next problem is that I am going to have to spend more money I shouldn't, back to the being out of work thing, on actually buying the game I just bought a subscription for. I have a feeling the guys at Game Stop will have a much easier time taking my money. Unless... I make it more difficult by bringing in my old X-Box, PS2, and Game Cube and trying to get store credit for them which I could use to by the game! Yeah, that should be tons of fun give me lots more to complain about!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This is a Test Post

I am testing both the email to blog feature and also seeing if I manged to fix it so the entire post doesn't show up as a note on my Facebook page. 

I cannot find whatever I set up post my blog onto my Facebook page. I've looked through both the setting / options on Facebook and on Blogger and found nothing.  But I did find the site feed option and changed it from Full (entire blog post gets published by the feed) to short (only approximately 255 characters of the blog post gets published and you have to actually read the blog to read the rest of what ever I'm rambling on about.)

That is really all I wanted to say in this test post, but I want to go on a bit more so that I know for sure that it is only publishing the first 255 chatacters.  I don't really have anything else to say at this point, but I'm still typing. Hey, do you know how confusing / annoying some design documents are when the author doesn't differentiate "characters" (the avatar the player is controlling) with "characters" (letters of the alphabet)?  

"The character name can only be 14 characters long."  

"The first character in the character's name is automatically capitalized."

Those two lines should post in italic. And this line starts with a tab, wonder what that will do when it pasts. I have no idea but I am going to keep typing a little more to see if it just indents the first line or multiple lines.  I could start testing some HTML but I'm not feeling up to that much test at the moment.

The character vs. character thing is not as amusing as the designer author who keeps saying "Player" when he means "Character."  I don't care how realistic the game is, you should never damage the player or kill him off.  They tend to stop paying their subscription fee if you do that.  It is; however, okay to damage or kill the Player's character.  Those last two words should be in bold.

Okay, that enough typing for this test.  I now return you to you regular browsing.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Into the Deep, Dark, Burning Depths I Ventured...

I went dumpster diving today... okay, not in a dumpster but rather my storage bin here in Las Vegas. Half of the stuff in there is what I kept after moving out of my house before moving to San Diego and onto Australia about six years ago. The rest is the stuff I put in there after moving back from Australia.

There was one point, while climbing around in 400 degree heat at the very back of the "air cooled" storage bin, when a number boxes started to shift behind me, that I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. I had a thought about how long it would take them to notice I was missing, find my dead and crushed body, and figure out how to get it out. Luckily, I had my 100 FL OZ, insulated, Rebel Convenience store cup full of diet Dr. Pepper within reach to provide some much need refreshment. That's right one HUNDRED fluid ounces!!! And it only costs me .99 cents to refill. Thats one dollar and seven cents if you include tax. Compare that to the cost of a normal, 12 fluid ounce, can of soda. To be fair it isn't quite as big as it looks; because, it has a very thick, foam insulated core. I can fill it in the morning and it still has ice left in it in the evening.

I was looking for some specific stuff, but also found some other cool stuff.

Neil Gaiman Self Portrait 1992 San Diego Comic-ConFirst up is a self-portrait that Neil Gaiman drew on the back of his name page at a 1993 (I think, though I might be off by a year either way) San Diego Comic-Con panel on Horror Fiction. During the panel another author started to drone on about some artsie-fartsie stuff and pretty much everybody else in the room started to nod off. I noticed that Neil had begun to doodle on the back of his name page; which was really just a folded piece of paper with his name printed on it so you knew who was who on the panel. After the panel was over the entire audience swarmed around him at the exit as he was leaving. I, however, went to see what he had been doodling and claimed this prize.

I also found some of my old Unicorn Software educational games. Pictured are "Animal Kingdom" (later renamed "Wonders of the Animal Kingdom"), "Kinderama" on the Amiga, and "MacRobots."I really only found the slipcover for "MacRobots." When I left Unicorn Software back in 1988 I wasn't allowed to take my copies of the games I had worked on so that is all I got. If I mess with the sidebar art anymore, I'll add these in along with "Adventures of Sinbad" and "Magical Myths" which I also have cover scans of. Though now that I look at them I see that they are photographs taken of the boxes lying on a table which puts them at odd angle.

I also found two other Unicorn related items. Both of these my Mother had been keeping. She gave them back to me just in time for me to bury them in storage with the rest of the junk I was keeping. The first thing pictured above is the Amiga advertisement on the inside back cover of the August 1987 Commodore magazine. That is the Amiga version of "Animal Kingdom" on the right-hand computer. The funny thing is, as I just took the magazine out of the scanner, I noticed the advertisement on the outside back cover is for the Amiga versions of SSI's "Phantasie III, The Wrath of Nikademus" and "Realms of Darkness." I'm not sure about Realms, but I know Westwood did the port of Wrath to the Amiga. It was an omen!

Then there is the Unicorn Software Educational Catalogue. It looked much better on the Amiga monitor I assure you. A lot better than you see it here where it is a picture (with flash) taken of the monitor, that was then printed out on the manual which then sat in a box for the last 20+ years only then to be rescanned into the computer. It is actually a fold out catalog and has two screen shots for each game. I'm looking at a few of them thinking, "Did I draw that... I think I drew that... Okay yeah, I remember drawing that!" The fox for Aesop's Fables looks especially good. If you look real closely at the bottom left of the cover, you can see some yellow pixels. That is where I signed my name, but it got cut off when they trimmed the picture to account for the curve of the monitor photo.

I also found my pillow which I am very happy about. It is one of those nice memory foam ones that is thicker along the top and bottom making it less likely that my arm will fall asleep if I rest it under the pillow while sleeping. Arm falling asleep is actually loss of blood circulation which isn't the same as me falling asleep. I probably didn't have to explain that, but the sentence felt odd.

Vectrex Video Game ConsoleMy Vectrex video game console was in there too, but I figured it was safer to leave it there. Especially since I had booby-trapped it to kill off any other tomb raiders who dared disturb my "Temple of Junk!"

The two cartridges I have for the Vectrex, a 'mega' cartridge with every game officially published and the unreleased prototype cartridge of "Dark Tower" are buried in one of the other boxes that I brought back from Australia. I had accidentally had them in with my desk supplies and moved them downunder with me. I was always afraid I was going to loose them, but I distinctly remember putting them in a box when I packed up in Perth.

Bob Jones, one of the very talented artist I worked with at Auran, also had a Vectrex in Australia. He had actually bought his new back when he was a kid. Unfortunately, it no longer worked and he just had it sitting on his desk as a show piece.

I never had any of the color overlays as I bought my system used from a guy who's name I believe is Sean Kelly. He used to have a newsletter that he would publish with antique video games for sale. I also think he was one of the guys who founded the classic video game convention that they used(?) to host here in Las Vegas. I was able to find links to Sean's website but it appears the site is no longer there.

One thing I didn't find was my Westwood jacket. We all had letterman's jackets made with the year we started on the sleeve. I know I didn't take it with me to Australia, so I hope it is in there somewhere.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Went Out Looking for Dollhouse on DVD/Blu-Ray

My first problem is very large and would probably make somebody’s career if they had a good literary agent and a couch I was comfortable on.

My first problem with the Dollhouse television series is I can’t decide on the format. (kinda like how the internet can't decided if it is "Dollhouse" or "Doll House!" Compound word on official site so I'm going with that.)

A digital version on iTunes to go with my other collection of TV shows is preferred. I like having them all nice and neat on my little red portable hard drive. But since ITunes doesn’t offer all the extras, such as commentaries and the TWO (that’s twice as many as one!) un-aired episodes, they are right out. Sorry Apple, I know you are taking a bunch of crap right now, but suck less and everything will work out.

UPDATE: Felicia Day has just posted via Twitter, that the missing 13th episode, "Epitaph One," will be on iTunes and AmazonVideo on Demand on August 11th. No mention of the un-aired pilot. That missing and the commentaries, which I would like to listen to for this show, still means iTunes is out.

Dollhouse DVD and Blu-RaySo now there is Blu-Ray versus regular, and a lot cheaper, DVD. Cheaper is good, I’m not actually rolling in money right now. More like rolling towards financial ruin actually. But tell that to the handful of VHS tapes and books on cassette tapes I have packed away in shame. Tell me all about that as I cry softly while curled up in a ball around my Criterion Collection Blade Runner Laser Disk!

The real problem is the Blu-Ray player. I do have a Playstation 3 sitting in the closet, but don’t have a decent TV to hook it up to. I did buy Watchmen on Blu-Ray, but it came with the digital copy that I could import into iTunes which was cool. I will eventually have a decent TV (what an optimist). But how will I be able to watch them NOW? It is pretty common knowledge that I have the patience and restraint of a two year old when I want something. Any ideas?

I saw both formats at Target, but thought they might be cheaper at Walmart. Turns out Dollhouse isn't even in their instore inventory system yet, much less on the shelves even though they have it up for sale on Walmart's online store for $28.32 DVD and $42.32 Blu-Ray. Amazon has it for 29.99 DVD and 42.49 Blu-Ray.

One of the odd things about me is, that I will sit and whine about not having it for weeks before finally decided to buy it somewhere even though I would have it sooner if I ordered it online now. That is another way of saying, I didn't actually buy anything.

So what about this Dollhouse show. Is it worth getting and watching? The Io9 website has a great article on the box set. It talks about how less episotic and client of the week it feels when they are watched closely together, how much you get from the two unaired episodes and even the Joss Whedon commentary where he dishes on the problems and interference he had with Fox. Then there is the interview they have: Joss Whedon On The Dark Secret At The Heart Of His Worlds, where he talks about the show, but you shouldn't watch it if you don't want any spoilers from the unaired episode "Epitaph One."

Joss Whedon is My Master NowFor those of you who don’t follow these things, Fox decided that either Dollhouse or Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles had to go. They could only keep one. (the zero sum game of the current television broadcast model needs to go. Yay rise of the internets! Boo, that they will probably manage to screw it up.) Fox chose Dollhouse over Terminator, probably because they are afraid of the Joss Whedon Fan Club's army. I know I am and I actually have that T-Shirt from PvP Online.

Speaking of io9, I found this other great article on their site about Favorite Last Lines From Science Fiction Novels and another about Why Avatar Can't Fail. I think I'll bookmark their site. Maybe even put it up on the sidebar of links over on the right, though I've been saying that about the XKCD comic strip forever. Hey, at least I fixed the missing RSS graphic! You didn't even notice that did you... you didn't even notice it was broken... Sigh.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

An Apple a Day Won't Keep the FCC Away

I was going to write a post summarizing the Apple iPhone "shenanigans" and "goings on," but then I found this lovely post on Rickman's Posterous that does a great job of collecting all the stories and links.

I do miss my iPhone. But I had to sell off my contract to Richard when I left Australia. That didn't stop Telstra from sending me a $1000+ bill for breaking my contract. Fortunately, my friend Lisa's boyfriend works for Telstra and had brokered the deal for me. A quick email to him and he straightened it out.

At the moment I am just over joyed to be waiting. New 3Gs phone is out and I'm not stuck with the old one. All this flak over the Apple Application Store being sorted out. And hey, maybe I won't be restricted to AT&T in the near future. Why did I choose the iPhone in the first place you might be asking yourself if you were even still reading this post at this point? For all the cool aps? The slick, easy to use interface? Because I'm an Apple fanboy? No, because a few years ago I made the mistake of choosing iTunes as my media player for all the audiobooks and few TV shows I buy. Now DRM won't let me choose a new application.

Before I go, one of the links about the story is a must read: Google Pulls Apple from Search Results.
Google's official explanation for removing Apple from its search results came from Vice-President in charge of search, Marissa Mayer, "Those search results duplicate a lot of the functionality of other sites. For example, people can find cell phones on many other sites. We just think this makes it easier for our users."
P.S. don't be an idiot and try to google "" to see if it works or not, its a humor piece and isn't true. However, you can go over to his mailbag page and read some emails and comments from people who did think it was real.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Who is the Sausage King of Chicago?

Yahoo mail won't let me log in unless I give them two security questions and answers which they can use if I lose my password. This is part of how Twitter was hacked, google it yourself for details. But boiling it down, somebody who is trying to hack your account could very well know the name of all your aunt's and just has to enter them all to find 'your favorite aunt.' Granted I can enter my own question and corresponding answer. The problem with that is I get too creative and don't remember what the hell I was thinking of 5 years later when I actually do need to retrieve my password.

In the meantime I have found a way around having to come up with these questions and answers until I figure out something. I log into yahoo messenger which prompts me if I have yahoo mail. I tell it to open yahoo mail and it does so bypassing their page that requires that I come up with those questions.

In the meantime, please don't hack me. Not that there is anything in my yahoo mail account that you'd find the least bit interesting. And not that I use that password on any other sites.

The title was one thing I thought of as a possible security question, but I think we all know that the Sausage King of Chicago is Abe Froman. Now go away or I will be forced to get 'snooty.'

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Princess is in Another Castle

Alright, now I have to figure out what I did to turn on the feature that publishes my blog on my Facebook page. I think there is a way to just get it to post a notification that I have published a new blog entry, without it posting the whole blog entry. The reason is that I have noticed a drop in the numbers of people visiting the blog which is probably because a good number of my readers are also my friends on Facebook. Also people are commenting on the Facebook posting instead of the blog itself which can mean two different comment chains.

On a related note, I saw the Google Wave presentation video and can't wait for that to come out. I've been trying to tell people about it, but nobody seems interested enough to watch the video.

I know I have said it before, but I should also get around to moving the blog over to the new blogger templates. Can they even be called the "new" templates anymore? It has been awhile since they upgraded the system. Lots of new features though and I am sure that the Google Wave thing will require the new stuff to work on the blog.

I have also been wondering if I publish negative things and complain too much on my blog. I do rave about some of the things I like, but I don't think I do it often enough. I am going to make more of an effort to do so.

Actually, what I really need to do is start seriously playing games again. I took a forced break when I moved from Australia and I had to wait till my stuff arrived. But even then I didn't really start playing anything. I think it is a matter of this not being my house, I don't have my gaming computer set up and the TV here is pretty old and wouldn't handle the PS3 very well. Been playing some browser games, but nothing overly exciting. I am getting pretty itching to raid something, fight off a hoard of zombies, or save a princess. Jones'ing to actually get back to making games as well, two promising irons in the fire at the moment, keep your fingers crossed.