20 December 2013

Kion Mi Faras?

I had an idea for a Twitter project a few days ago, going off what I'd written about previously about people publishing fiction as tweets. It's almost done as far as the initial phase goes: the plot is finalized and there's really only one sentence (tweet) keeping the text from being finalized. I'd then thought to have a cover image, basically a tweet with an illustration. I'd pondered the idea of mixing images with the text, but it seemed to throw off the structure, hence downsizing it to a cover. This is where things started going a bit sour. 

This has not been a great few months for me, going back to the early weeks of September. It hasn't been any one particular thing, or even a culmination of small moments of unpleasantness gathering up. At least, it doesn't seem like either of those. It's something more deep-seated, less the goings-on around me and more how I find myself reacting to it. It's hard to follow, I admit (and you're only reading about it). The only way I can really describe it is that it's like how I felt in those months after I graduated college. I'd come home from work, eat dinner, watch some videos or play some games, do a little housework, maybe call some people, and then I'd get in my car and go to the library near where I lived to check my messages and do some browsing. It wasn't that I couldn't afford internet at home; it was something more Calvinistic, making it a small hassle I had to get out of the house for. Anyway, I'd get done updating a journal or answering e-mails or browsing, get my jacket on, and go back to my car. 
What would happen then is that I would be sitting there, in my car, on a quiet street at night, keys still in my pocket, and feeling like I was going to break down sobbing any minute. It was all there, the lump in the back of the throat, the tears welling up in the eyes, the icky feeling in the pit of the stomach, every breath feeling like it was going to be the one to let out the first whimper, and this colossal feeling of sadness. 
It never really went all the way, and that was always the part I found most frustrating. It was like these feelings were rising to the surface, and all I had to do was let them out, give them the floor to say what they wanted to say. I didn't want to avoid it or suppress it or avert it. On the contrary, I wanted to have a good cry. It sounds masochistic, but I wanted to have that moment of dejection. I wanted to let myself feel like a total failure and hit that rockiest of rock bottoms because then at least I could have somewhere to go. I'd take those moments to feel that way, so I could pick myself up and say, "Okay, had that moment. Let's carry on." Sure, it may come back, but I'll take visits over a stay, so to speak. 
I could have gone on listing the events that may have been causing those feelings to build, but at the time and even looking back, there's this kind of disconnect in the causality. 
Another, more obvious manifestation of these fits of, let's just say it, depression would happen when I would draw in one of my sketchbooks. Every so many pages, I'd find myself writing this almost manic, self-defeating note, practically screaming, "Why do I bother?" and, "I'm never getting anywhere with this!" and especially, "I'm not improving." Like I said, though, I'd have that moment, and then carry on. I'd still draw, I'd still work on art projects, that was never going to change. 

Now, though, I think it's starting to. I'm still producing content, but anything beyond scribbles or rough notes not only feels arduous and daunting, but actually oppressive, even painful. It feels like a bad idea, and I should never think that. 

Going back to the Twitter story project, after dismissing the alternating image posts and considering a cover prefacing the narrative, I got an idea to make an actual book of it. The story would still go live as these tweet posts (which only number five), but then they would be compiled into a PDF with each one getting its own page and serving as a caption to an illustration. The Twitter posts would be the free version while the illustrated (possibly expanded) edition would be sold on Lulu. I'd effectively eat my cake and have it too, still do this fun project for kicks and have it be part of something bigger and more serious. 

Why the Hell should I do any of that? 

Why am I creating so much work for myself that I don't even feel I can do? What will I have at the end of the day? Will it be worth the time and effort? Can I do this at all? Should I even be talking about this? All I'm doing is building it up at worst and wasting my time at best. Time doing what? I have no clue, and that's the problem all over again. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know why I'm bothering. I don't know why I'm trying. I don't know what any of this is going to mean. Is this genuinely being productive? Am I pushing myself too hard to take my work to the next level? Am I not doing enough to push myself? How do I bounce back from this? 

What am I doing? 

....

Good night, and good luck. 

15 December 2013

Like a Villain

Here's an example of what a colossal asshole I can be. At least, that's probably what it looks like to this person whom we'll call Lando for no particular reason. 

I've been selling things on eBay lately in order to finance some hardware upgrades I'd like for a web production. The sales have all gone very well, to the point that I can be a bit more shrewd in my asking prices. In general, I try to be that salesman who would much rather make a sale than hold out for a price I may well be waiting the rest of my life for (Bird in the hand/two in the bush, you get the idea). I also have a background working in customer service for a cell carrier. What this means is that while I do genuinely love helping people, I also know when people are frankly just being entitled little shits who want a cookie for getting to class on time. 
Someday, boys and girls, I'll tell you all the full story of the car salesman who begged and begged me to set aside a Playstation 2 for him, even though there was no way for our store to set up, maintain, or honor any sort of waiting list, his firm and repeated belief that being "desperate" and saying so will generate big, blue, Sony-branded boxes out of the ether itself. I won't bother telling you the bribe he offered me or how many times he told me he was desperate before making me an offer. To be fair, though, it was a substantially better offer than the one I got from this eBayer. 
I get a message asking me about the item, prefaced by a little anecdote about how it's for his kids for Christmas, and followed by an offer to end the sale early for him. I expected someone would make an offer as my timing was admittedly not real conducive to eBay's tradewinds. Christmas is ten days away, and there's at least 4 days left on the auction, so of course you'd want it in a timely fashion. 

A few quick facts about this auction before moving forward: The item has a starting price and a Buy-It-Now option for more. Shipping is not included and it has (at the time of this writing) two watchers. Not exactly lighting up the charts, but it's exactly the minimum number of people needed to start a last-minute bidding war, a race to see who can place a bid closest to the end time in order to block everyone else without breaking the bank. Lando basically didn't want to bother with this tango, yet felt the Buy-It-Now price was a little out of his price range. This is totally fair, and like I said, I'm not above meeting someone halfway on a price to make a sale. 

The offer was for the starting price. 

Strike one: Not even close to halfway. In fact, it's not any distance from the start. I don't really get mad. It's an honest question, one to test the waters, size up the seller. Hell, the strike only sticks if the issue is pushed. Maybe he thinks he's doing me a favor. Who knows, maybe he meant to put something else down instead of the starting price. I err on the side of caution, answer his question, but ignore the offer. It seems the politest way to decline without making an issue of how really shortsighted the offer is. I mean, it's an auction, and you can see the other watchers (and not every watcher makes their presence known). 

Next message thanks me for the answer, but asks what I think of the offer. 

Strike two: pushing the issue. I mean, at least be sporting about this. Sure, there weren't any bids yet and I wouldn't really have been penalized for ending the auction early, but if you're going to try and play a stratagem, try and think of one that gives you an ADVANTAGE in the competition. This is not making me an offer. I get impatient, but I'm still giving the benefit of the doubt they mean well. I reply, explaining that this auction has two watchers and it wouldn't be fair to them if I ended it early, especially if it's only for the starting price, and that the Buy-It-Now option is the only way it's ending early. 

"I am one of the watchers." 

Strike three: Now, you're insulting me. At first, I'd started to write back, "But not both of them." followed by an explanation of how one is a very different number than two. However, I took a deep breath and responded with frank civility, "Nonetheless, it is unfair to any other prospective buyer to close the sale early as is with the offer being only the opening bid. You'll have to do better than that." Like I said, if you're going to try and make a backroom deal, don't bargain with an empty hand. This is entitlement, pure and simple. Moreover, it's condescending. Lando is working under the premise that 1) I'm desperate to make a sale (I'm not), and 2) he thinks so little of everyone else who may be interested that he doesn't put any effort into distinguishing himself. This is like a student getting up during a test and asking the teacher if he can see the answer sheet, expecting to receive it entirely on the power that he's the only one who had the gall to ask in the first place. If you want an exception made, you've got to prove yourself exceptional. I have no patience for people who don't get this. I'm not above charity or compassion, but in the words of a wise man, "God only helps those who help themselves." Call me a cold bastard if you like, but when I make exceptions for people, it's because I think they're worth it. 

So, what do I do? I go into the auction's page and raise the starting and buyout prices by five dollars. I get a message from Lando inside of ten minutes. 

"You raised the price?"

I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further. 

14 December 2013

Never Knew It Was That Bad

I tend to go on these cookie-baking benders around this time of year. It goes back to this really crummy place I lived in for far too long where the best way to keep it any reasonable temperature in the winter was to use the oven as often as possible. Strangely, it was very efficient, surprisingly cost-effective, and you got cookies out of the deal. 

This year, I'm going to be doing something a little special. My roommate's nephew has a little girl with a peanut allergy. In fact, I think it's nuts in general. I'm not sure how severe it is in terms of triggering it, but given that the reaction is severe enough to warrant the use of an epipen, the matter's academic. You don't take chances, is the point. 

When my roommate was babysitting her once, she mentioned their having soynut butter in the house. I'd always seen jars of the stuff when I go grocery shopping, and I decided to pick a jar up to see what it was like. For starters, it' kind of ridiculous how expensive this stuff is. Then again, when I get peanut butter, I tend to go for the pricey stuff anyways, quality vs. quantity and all that. As for the soynut butter, I had it with some apples, and it was really good, very distinct, but ultimately as satisfying as peanut butter. 

I thought back on my little venture a few days ago when making some sugar cookies. I'd made peanut butter cookies a few times before, and it hardly seemed unreasonable to substitute the key ingredient. So, the little sweetheart is going to be getting soynut butter cookies as a present: 

I'm not sure how well this will work out, but it's a chance I'm more than willing to take. It should be fine. The only thing hiccup in the plan thus far is that, as cookies go, the flavor may be a bit bland. That's because of a rather startling revelation I got today when getting ingredients. As far as I know, there's only one brand of soynut butter, so that was the easy part. I had coupons for Market Pantry flour and sugar, so there was that choice. Finally, I went to get some white chocolate morsels. I figured that since the flour and sugar were a bit on the cheap side (they don't really need to be otherwise), I'd make up for it by pulling out all the stops when it came to the chips. I found a bag of Ghiardelli "gourmet" morsels and thought, "Aw, Hell yeah!" 

Then I read the back of the bag. 

Peanut/Tree nut warning. 

Okay, peanuts, chocolate, two great tastes that taste great--yeah, true, but that doesn't mean they're joined at the damned hip. After standing dumbfounded in the aisle for what felt like an hour, I thought, "Well, it's Ghiardelli, they're probably using exotic ingredients and/or are too niche to care about nut allergies." I figured I'd have better luck with Toll House; they're more well-known and would probably be the most concerned with something like that. 

Another nut warning. 

Granted, this was a little less ambiguous than the one for Ghiardelli by specifying that these morsels were made on equipment used to process peanuts, but almost anyone with a nut allergy will tell you that's a hair barely worth splitting. Feeling very defeated, I put the Toll House morsels back, rummaged through a few other varieties like milk chocolate or mint to no avail, and finally picked up a generic-branded bag of white chocolate morsels. 

There was no nut warning. 

At first, I think, "Score!" but let's put this in perspective. Ghiardelli and Toll House apparently cannot make any sort of chocolate chip without getting peanuts into the mix somehow, so what are these store brands doing different? Also, if you know anything about how branding works, the only difference between a big name and a no name is often quality control. What doesn't make the cut for the big guys is savings for the little guys to pass on to the less discerning customer. In other words, even if they don't come from the same place (another common occurrence in branding), you still get what you pay for, and if paying more can't even afford the peace of mind that a little girl's throat will not close up from eating your product, again, it's not a risk worth taking. Maybe I'm missing something, maybe I'm overthinking this, but should it really be this hard to keep the damn nuts out of our other food products? 

In any case, I just hope they turn out well, and that she ends up liking them. 

08 December 2013

Stumblrbum's Photo Finish

Tumblr's attempts to make posting photos via their mobile app have more or less all gone to pot. At least, that's been my experience of late. To be fair, it's good that they're trying to make it so you can post sets of photos instead of one at a time. Unfortunately, this simply doesn't work efficiently enough, and when your update is less efficient than spamming single photo posts, you really need to rethink your design schemes.

Recap: it used to be that after I took a photo, I could go into the "share" menu and select "Tumblr" from a list of sites. This would take me to a menu within Tumblr's mobile app to create a photo post, complete with tags and tweet settings. It was all very handy apart from not being able to post photosets.

Now, it's completely reversed. I have to go into Tumblr, select the photo post option, and then be taken to a menu where I can pick the photo from my gallery via thumbnails (more on that later) or go into my camera and take a new photo then. First problem, apart from this being very tedious and rather greedy on Tumblr's part by making "timed exclusives" of my photos, is that I can't access all of my camera's options, like exposure and effects filters. Couple that with the fact that I now have to open one application and make at least two selections in order to open another app which otherwise can start up almost instantly, and this is a really bad start. Second, I noticed that the photos I posted this way had a kind of checker board artifact pattern over them, like an old TV with the RCA cable coming loose. When your 21st century digital imaging system looks like a CRT monitor with flimsy composite connections by default, something's gone fundamentally wrong somewhere very far back in your process.

When something works just fine before an update, that's not a hardware failure, that's a limitation. What makes it really awful is that my phone is middle-of-the-road as far as tech specs go, so your update has potentially cut off about two-thirds of your users. Hell, I've heard from people with better phones than mine that they can't post photos at all, now or before.

Now, I have a good idea what your two cents on the issue is, "Look, you're overthinking this. Just do what you did before. Take the photo, then go into the app and post it then. You said yourself you can see your gallery as a grid of thumbnails to choose from."

Problem the third: Not every photo shows up in that grid, and which ones do and don't at any time is completely random.

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Burns and Smithers walk through layer-upon-layer of security checks to get to a master kill switch for the power plant, only to find that said room has a rickety screen door that's nearly fallen off its hinges as another entrance? At least there you get to the same room and everything is there that should be because the console is bolted to the floor. There are more reliable ways to get to Narnia than my own damn photos. I'm really not kidding when I say that certain photos I take will not show up in this menu until days later, if at all. This app is in my phone. It literally has access to all my files on that device. I have to give it permission to do this when first installed. It's designed to be invasive, and it can't even do that. When FOX NEWS has a more complete picture of a story than you, it's time to rethink every decision in your life, ever, and when you've reduced me to making FOX NEWS jokes to analogize your incompetence, then you've really screwed up.

Speaking of grabbing at straws and not getting the full picture, today was kinda the last straw. I'm sitting in a Steak 'n' Shake, drinking coffee, eating a cinnamon roll, and making sketches in a notebook, as I'm wont to do at least once a week. Another part of this ritual is taking a photo of my setup, a spontaneous still life. Think of it as a kind of creative litmus test; if I can make coffee and pastry look interesting, I must be doing something right. Anyway, I go into Tumblr to post the photo, going through the menu to get to the camera app that otherwise starts up instantly and taking the photo. Normally, after all that, I get the menu where I can add a caption, tags, and all that other stuff before posting fairly quickly to my dashboard. This time, however, I get an error message that it could not save my photo and to try again later.

This is the equivalent of taking the photo out of my hands, throwing it in the cluttered mess of other photos which haven't simply gone missing, and saying, "Maybe it'll show up later."

The sole redeeming factor in this debacle is that while Tumblr lost my photo, my phone didn't. I could see it in my gallery right away (my gallery, not Tumblr's slapdash interpretation of it) and now, several hours later and using the full version of Tumblr, I can post it here by way of my DropBox, which the photo was auto-saved to within minutes of being taken.



And here's another I took without using Tumblr's increasingly lackluster interface (notice the effects filter):



So, what does this mean? Well, it simply means that my more spontaneous uploads of photos will be posted to Twitter instead of Tumblr (and then Twitter because of auto-share). If I end up taking a lot of photos of something, like stages of a cooking project or something, I'll post them here as a set. Granted, it's entirely possible Tumblr will fix this issue in future updates. However, given that it's made two since I started having this problem, I'm not optimistic anymore. At least now, though, it doesn't crash when I try to read notes on posts. 

29 November 2013

Don't Beg For Laughs

This is in response to recent events involving a DeviantART user named "CustomSaga" referring to a character-based interview journal on a roleplaying group as, "The sort of thing autistic people come up with." After being banned from the group for his remark, he proceeded to whine on his own journal about the issue, as well as a few other vaguely-substantiated straw men about the goings-on in the group. I called him out on his choice of words, and he proceeded to defend his right to say whatever he wanted and use whatever terminology he wanted as a point of criticism with no reproach whatsoever. He basically felt that his skepticism of the group's project was so compelling in and of itself, he could phrase it in a totally immature, insensitive, and inarticulate manner and it would not paint him as anything less than a civil critic inviting a mature discussion.  
During the torrent of backpedaling and "context mongering," if that's a term, the word "joke" came up toward the tail end of the discussion, used in such a manner as to imply he may well have had no sense of humor or any understanding of how telling jokes is supposed to work. 

The late George Carlin once said, "Even rape can be funny." and, in principle, I agree with that sentiment completely. If my saying that is making your blood boil or getting your head all-a-shakin' over it, I understand completely and don't blame you for it. However, I'd like you to read that sentence again, emphasizing the words "CAN" and "PRINCIPLE." As an artist, I believe that boundaries and rules are made to be pushed, bent, and even broken. This applies to comedy as well. It's not uncommon to see one comedian met with a standing ovation for the same reason another may get booed off stage for telling a similar joke. I've seen one comedian build an entire routine about the sorts of tactics terrorists should be using instead of bombings and hijackings, the audience eating out of his hand the entire time, while another cannot even get past his opening line of, "You know what I love about terrorists?" without the entire house calling for blood. 

Why one routine got cheers while another got jeers can generally be chalked up to luck and timing. Some crowds are a little more forgiving of having their buttons pushed than others, some subjects are best left to simmer a bit before the roasting can begin, and what separates a good comedian from a bad one is how they handle being dealt that bad hand. Stand-Up Comedy was once described by the late Mitch Hedburg as, "the noble profession of convincing a roomful of strangers that you're funny." going on to mention that you can't please everyone all the time. The fact is, barring any open mic night at a local gig, by the time you see a comedian perform on stage, they've gone through their routine dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of times before to a variety of crowds in a plethora of venues. During this time, jokes are either refined or dropped altogether. 

Sometimes, you tell a joke, and it doesn't go over well. Either people don't get it, or worse, they don't think it's funny. At this point, any good comedian knows that quite possibly the worst course of action to take is to defend the joke and insist on its brilliance and edginess. Sure, sometimes a quick quip or well-worded jab can bring an audience back from the edge of the Great Booing Chasm, but the general rule of thumb is that if the audience doesn't laugh the first time, it's because you didn't tell the joke right. As such, explaining it, defending it, and insisting on its merits will never win back that lost first laugh. Not only do those people get booed off stage, but their future in the profession is non-existent. 

There was a post on Facebook some time ago that illustrates this perfectly. It was a panel from a comic wherein iconic supersonic crime-fighter The Flash exposits the extent of his exceptional acceleration by describing occurrences that can only be observed in the space of an attosecond. The rest of the post explained exactly what an attosecond is. Informal definition: there are more attoseconds in the time it takes to say the word "attosecond" than there are grains of sand on all the earth's beaches. One of the comments to this post was, "Dude could rape a b---- and she wouldn't even know it!" 

As you might imagine, quite a few people were offended by this remark. I wasn't offended by it personally, per se, but that's not to knock everyone else who called him out on what he said as sexist and insensitive. They'd every right to be offended, though it seemed more people simply didn't find the joke funny. I thought, "Dude went for the low-hanging fruit. Whatever. Swing and a miss." and that could have been the end of it. Some people got mad, some people didn't laugh, a few clever folks satirically pointed out the logistics of such an event occurring (friction, combustion, and all that), and the joke was generally received as being in poor taste. 

Except that wasn't the end of it, because the idiot who laid that egg felt he was entitled to a laugh, and damned if he wasn't going to leave the discussion without changing at least one mind that his joke was the funniest thing in existence. The point is, him apologizing for the joke may have been unnecessary (courteous, but unnecessary), yet defending it and insisting himself beyond criticism for it puts him well beyond what even the sincerest apology would make amends for. I shouldn't have to explain the limitations of freedom of speech any more than I should have to explain how unrealistic and downright naive it is to insist every joke told receive the same equally positive reaction. 

You bombed. 
Move on. 

28 November 2013

For Sale: Bumper Pool Table, Overused

The title is a joke, partly-based on the purported Hemingway story, and also a nod to my friend Oogle's most recent DeviantART journal being posted in haste to bump a larger journal off her front page. 
While working on a larger, triptych form of When They Fold Space, as well as a version after that which will be a somewhat even longer form, I was looking up Twitter novels. I'd stumbled upon them a long time ago while looking up an author I'd almost forgotten about whom I'd first heard of thanks to a paperback hand-me-down. 
Clare Bell had written a book called Tomorrow's Sphinx, a very interesting book about a cheetah with weird markings that, sadly, I never got around to delving into past the first half-chapter. Eventually, the book was lost in one of several moves, possibly sold off in an oversight, and forgotten. Many years later, I'm looking through Pokemon fan art while compiling a Top 5 list for my Tumblr, and happen upon Umbreon, which has a notably Egyptian styling in terms of color and markings. It made me think of that book. It led me to wonder just what happened to Mrs. Bell. I'd never seen her name elsewhere apart from that one book; it made me wonder if she was a one-hit wonder. 
For starters and to her credit, she's not a one-hit wonder; there's a whole series of books apparently more well-known and much-loved by her fans than Tomorrow's Sphinx. While it's true her activity in literary fields has dwindled a bit, it's not for the sake of resting on laurels. Not only is she building electric cars, but whole solar and hydroelectric systems for green living, and she's been doing that since before the term "green" was in vogue. More interestingly, she embraced Twitter as a way to connect with her amazingly patient fanbase by giving them a new installment in the Ratha series via tweets
Some of you may be laughing at that idea, especially if you've spent any real time on Twitter (and I love the service, flaws and all). It's true, the 140 character-at-a-time structure can be a little hard to work with. It probably reminds some of you of old videogames, where a sentence leaves you hanging only to reveal there was only one word left, with a long and awkward pause before it. It's really something you paradoxically have to plan meticulously in advance for yet be extremely malleable about. It seems like something poets would be better equipped to approach, except that poetry is all about syllables, and 140 characters doesn't give nearly as much leeway in establishing rhythm and flow as you might think. Despite a fair amount of good tips out there on how to approach it, as well as a few good examples of making it work, this may be a medium not suitable for the English language. It makes me think of Tommy Tiernan's remark about how the English language doesn't suit his soul, like it's this giant wall between him and his audience, with profanity as his chisel. 

The people who seem to get the most out of Twitter as a new form of modern literature, on the whole, are the Japanese. I remember hearing a story on NPR about people in Japan tweeting reactions and thoughts to the recent earthquake. At one point, the interviewer interrupted the recitation to confirm it was actually a tweet, not only because of how eloquent it was, but how long it seemed. The reader retorted, rather cleverly, that while 140 characters can be fairly limiting for English or Spanish or French, it's no problem for a language like Japanese where most words and even some phrases can be expressed in a single character, a Kanji. 

It's also worth noting that many Kanji, being borrowed from Chinese, have double-meanings. 

Think about it. 

22 November 2013

Dig UP, Stupid!



Roleplaying group on DeviantART starts a character-based interview journal project wherein featured characters can receive random questions from other users, which are then answered in character. 
This "person" comes along, comments on the first of these interview journals (not the one announcing the project) and calls it, "the sort of thing autistic people come up with." He is immediately banned from the group for what I would hope are obvious reasons and after an attempt to play the "free speech card" despite quite obviously not understanding that the right to speak doesn't guarantee you the right to be respected for your belief. 
He then writes a journal accusing the group of promoting art theft because a work that misappropriated something of his was submitted there (which is like accusing the Post Office of terrorism because those anthrax-envelopes were sent through them). Is it even worth mentioning he never filed an art theft report against the person who took his art because he considers such an act childish? 

UPDATE: The journal in question was later edited, its entire body of text deleted and replaced with "REDACTED." There was also another journal entry (posted after this one) given the same treatment. It's uncertain whether or not that was a "REDACTED" statement from the start or if he attempted digging himself a deeper hole. For the record, redaction is not quite the same as a retraction, and neither of those automatically qualify as apologies. Of course, if he thinks asking an administrator of a website to take action against an offending user is childish and immature, he probably regards apologizing for making ignorant statements and especially defending them as a form of castration. 

17 November 2013

A Little Verklempt... DISCUSS!

This will simply be a quick and off-the-cuff note about a recent change that is getting quite a bit of attention, that being the complete and full overhaul of YouTube's comment system. As someone hardly a blip (no pun intended) on the typical YouTuber's radar, most of my content there barely netting a few hundred views, I can't say I'm drastically affected by this. Also, as someone who rarely leaves comments on videos anyways on account of some rather nasty flame wars that erupt (especially over copyright, a subject near and dear to my heart), the effect from that side of the equation is equally nondescript. Others' reactions, meanwhile, have been anything but lukewarm. 

In short, it's a classic example of something trying to be made more accessible and less constricting for the sake of more detailed and in-depth feedback, only to be abused by a segment of the population who could care less about any of those things. 

I've gone back and forth on how content producers will disable comments on their respective journals and channels. Some time ago, I stopped allowing anonymous comments on my entries, not due to trolls or spam or anything like that, but something surprisingly more annoying: feigned authority. Put simply, if you're going to claim expertise on something, stand by what you say. 

Remember Rob Granito? Neither do I. 

In all seriousness, Granito claimed to have worked as a ghost artist in the comics industry for a number of big names. When a blogger called him out on his lie, by way of being on a first-name basis with the editors at Marvel and DC, none of whom had ever heard of him, a poorly-written comment appeared on the entry from an anonymous user, insisting Granito was "legitomite (sic)." Sure, it's rather hilarious someone would be that delusional, but 

The fact is we could probably go on for hours about all these "gatekeeping" tactics employed when it comes to comments, be it Xark, Atop the Fourth Wall, Go Make Me a Sandwich, or forums on The Spoony Experiment, but one simple fact is constant, regardless of how it may seem otherwise. 
YOU ALWAYS HAVE OPTIONS. 
If I see a video on YouTube that I really like and want to talk about it, such as a short film I want to give a scene-by-scene analysis, I could try and fit my remarks into a 500 character comment on YouTube itself, wherein it can be replied to and voted upon by potentially anyone else visiting the video's page, or I can link or embed the video on my Blogger or Tumblr page and avoid the character limit at the expense of making the voting and reply options a tiny bit more obfuscated by comparison. Indeed, this has often been a sort of proposed solution by the likes of Feminist Frequency and Xark for their more civil readers following their respective influxes of trolls and cyber-attacks. Critics have called these moves cop-outs against taking criticism (Want to leave a comment? Jump through this fiery hoop!) or ploys for getting more referral traffic (Want to leave a comment? Be my billboard!). As valid as these criticisms may or may not be, I find it nonetheless funny that so many people take an "Us vs. Them" approach, treating any change in the rules as some sort of unfair handicap. Really, all it's doing is decentralizing the conversation from one in metaphorical earshot of the original post and more public to one on your own personal page with any ensuing discussion being mostly private. To put it another way, you can picket or you can petition. You may have more experience and possibly better luck with one over the other, but the task of making either option work best for you is yours alone. You have only yourself to blame for not being heard or taken seriously. 

In short, no one has taken your right to speak away from you. All that's happening is that you need to exercise those rights a little more responsibly and make the most of what you have. If that feels like defeat or oppression to you, then you probably never took your right to speak all that seriously in the first place, if not had an utterly naive understanding of it. 

10 November 2013

It's a Cereal!


I remember reading the first chapter of this comic in Nintendo Power back in the day. They'd more or less retired Howard & Nester, not to mention by this time I was firmly in Camp SEGA, so Mario & pals were essentially non-factors in my growth as a gamer by then. So, I didn't even know there was so much past that first chapter (thinking that this was simply a teaser for the game, much like a Sonic the Hedgehog comic/ad wedged into an issue of Disney Adventures was), let alone that it would actually be so entertaining and well-made. 

Even if I wasn't really into Nintendo then, I still appreciated the sense of raw, kinetic energy in the comic. I've tried in some of my own work to convey that same sense of, "FEEL THE URGENCY! GRAVITAS! DRAMA!" albeit to little if no avail, though I shall keep trying. 

04 November 2013

Love Stinks


So, I have this friend, this extremely patient, understanding, kind, forgiving, and just downright beautiful friend who made a short text post somewhere (won't say where), and the wording of this post was worded in such a way that the part of my brain that likes to dissect and analyze every single syllable of every single word people say decided to have a little fun and put a little picture in my head. This is that image. 
As far as inside jokes go, this is the equivalent of the doddering old hermit who hasn't left his house in 46 years, as explaining or giving any further context to this joke will likely give this friend (patient, beautiful, all that) resolve to hunt me down, peel my face off with a tin opener, and bury my corpse in a peat bog. In other words, draw your own conclusions. 

26 October 2013

Quo Vadimus: The State of the Scroll

October never fails at being a particularly hectic and utterly draining month for me. I don't know if it's the onset of the winter holidays, which carry their own baggage, or that it's the month that follows my birthday, which manages to get more depressing despite my efforts to make it otherwise. Somehow, though, this is the month when it feels like things fall apart, even if they're perfectly solid. 
Following my anything-but-amicable encounter with an eBay buyer (who never lived up to the "buyer" portion of that title, among other shortcomings), I went up to Wisconsin for a few days to see my dad and some of my family, including my aunt. I'd been planning on going up anyway for some time, but after what happened with my aunt's health, I wasn't sure if I'd be going. It's hard to talk about, so this will be brief. In addition to back problems since young adulthood, my aunt recently had trouble swallowing, which she found out was due to a tumor at the base of her skull. It was also starting to have an unusual effect on her voice, a kind of breathy falsetto I got to hear when I called her a few days before her surgery. She'd been run through all the worst-case scenarios of the surgery, and was doing her best to keep a smile on her face despite it all. The good news is that the surgery went very well. 
The bad news is that she had a stroke shortly after. The nurse was moving her from one side of the room to the other when her entire right side fell limp. After being virtually comatose for what seemed like weeks, she began to slowly, painfully come around. She cannot speak, has all but zero control over her right side, and her overall communication and comprehension skills are sketchy at best. When I saw her, there was certainly no questioning her awareness, which I'd heard was the biggest improvement. She had no trouble recognizing me, and seemed utterly ecstatic, even if she couldn't say so. 
In the months approaching her surgery, she'd commented on Facebook how much she liked much of the artwork I'd been posting there, especially the BaRoW and Punch Cards. I'd brought along some blank cards of bristol and a small assortment of my markers. I ended up making three cards while there, with the intention of leaving them with her (I took a few quick snaps of them, but I don't intend to post them; they're too personal). I'll never forget the smile on her face when she saw the third of the bunch. I placed them on a shelf above her bed, next to another drawing I'd sent her (a remake of another black-and-red drawing I'd done, Rubeno Florajoj) that my other aunt had gotten a nice frame for. I gave her a big hug and told her that I loved her. 
I drove back home the next day. The last I'd heard, she was back in the hospital due to some swelling around her incisions, possibly brought on by a bad fall she had a few days before I arrived. I haven't heard any news since then, which can be good or bad. I have no idea what will happen to her, and as hard as it is to talk about what's happened, it's even harder to think about what's to come. 
Since I've been back, I haven't been particularly productive, except for the occasional post to Tumblr or even Flickr (mostly about cooking projects), but apart from a quick stick figure comic about an online gaming ad, I haven't been terribly visible on DeviantART, something that's honestly started to bug me less and less the more I think about it. During breaks at work, I'll break out my little notebook I always carry with me, but rarely will I put anything in it beyond a few random thoughts or a doodle I only find myself doing out of some desperate attempt to feel productive. As I said before, there's really no shortage of ideas (my to-do list is ever-growing and I'd initially only thought to make one card while visiting my aunt, getting ideas for two more while there), it's the other step of the process that tends to get the better of me. It's never fun to miss your own deadlines, and while I've been somewhat ahead of the curve here compared to DevART (my goal here being one entry a month, whether I've got anything or not), I still feel like I've been neglecting this place, which I like to think of as my main site.That is, should anything happen on my other pages (like if I get banned from DA for whatever reason), this will be the fallback. 
So, as much as I hate writing journal entries that are simply, "today I did this/tomorrow I'll do that/yesterday this happened" I guess there's nothing wrong with writing a simple update entry every so often, especially when things slow down, giving everyone a chance to get on the same page and assure everyone these sites are by no means abandoned or even neglected. Trust me, if that happens, there will be a notice posted on the door, a "Dear John" if you will. It's a kind of rule/courtesy I got from a past relationship, that if we ever broke up, we at least owed each other a goodbye letter. Luckily, for anyone who regularly follows my work, this is not that letter. 
Thank you all for your patience. 
Good night, and good luck. 

07 October 2013

So, This Is Funny For What May Be the Worst Possible Reason

It’s been a stressful few days for me, as I've written, and today wasn't helped all that much. In all, it’s nothing serious, simply needed a little quiet time and was managing not to get it in almost every way. Felt a little overwhelmed, so I went outside. 

There’s this pavilion outside my apartment. It’s meant for barbecues and whatnot. I go up there sometimes when I’m on a call because I get really rotten cell coverage inside. The pavilion supposedly has “hours,” namely between morning and dusk, but it’s not enforced all that well. At least, it typically isn't. 

After about five, ten minutes of sitting up there at a table, a few cars pull into the spaces next to the pavilion. I’m not looking; my mind’s elsewhere. Then, I hear a voice, “Excuse me, sir.” I look up and there’s three cops standing next to me. It turns out they got a call about a “suspicious person” and saw me as they pulled in. They asked if I lived here and if I was okay (“Rough night?” that sort of thing), then asked for my ID, assuring me I wasn't in trouble, only responding to a call. 

"It’s the hoodie, isn't it?" 

They all laughed. 

06 October 2013

And Then He Played the Race Card

The so-called buyer I spoke of earlier crossed a line with me, and I refuse to acknowledge him as a person anymore. Even if he may not be a con artist, if this is how he conducts his business, he deserves failure. After I posted my "419" entry detailing some of the inconsistencies surrounding Mr. Jiya and his operation, I got a message on eBay from him as to why he's delaying the money he owes me for the sale. 
Bear in mind, this is after hearing nothing from him for 2 days after the sale, then getting a reply on Twitter that he'll give me a date in 24hrs. I asked him, if he was only 10 short, why could he only give me 30? What happened to the rest? Never mind that eBay isn't set up for partial payments (this would have had to be done off-site, which is another thing con artists do), but he's not even offering half. It turns out he made another purchase after realizing he was short, paid that person in full and on time, and was now offering me the change as collateral while he spent a week scrounging up what he owed me in the first place. Then there's the last part of the message, as well as this Tweet:
I replied back that I wasn't aware incompetent bullshit peddlers were a race. Also, speaking of "hiding info" remember that Tweet from before about DHL:
After he asked why I called him a con artist (which is at least a week after the complaint about DHL he'd made), he said this:
Emmanuel, I do not judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Your "character" has ignored me, lied to me, made excuses and excuses on top of excuses, paid someone else my money because of your inability to keep track of ten dollars, offered me the difference as collateral while taking a week to scrounge up what you owed me in the first place, and then had the damn nerve to accuse me of being racist when I call you out on your bullshit. I want one good reason why I should acknowledge your humanity in light of any of this. I've sent you this edict on your Facebook page. You' have given me no answer. 

As for everyone else, this will be the last ever mention of this incident, even as reports and cases are being considered (I accidentally filed the wrong kind of report for this matter, so I have to wait for that one to close before I open the right one). I may well have jumped the gun in calling his operation a con, I freely admit that. However, the only thing I am at all sorry for is giving anyone the impression I put people down or write them off solely based on where they’re from, who their ancestors were, who they love, or how they look. At the end of the day, I value words, I value trust, I value talent, and I especially value the respect earned from standing by those things. 

eBay deBacle (Prologue)

Saturday was awful. It had already been a rough couple of days, so I upgraded my pastry that morning. I added Kahlua to my coffee that night, but that's not exactly an upgrade. The issues with a so-called buyer on eBay had escalated to a breaking point. I wrote of most of it on Tumblr, but I hadn't kept up on it here on Blogger, so this will be a somewhat condensed update. Then, that will be the end of it. I have a case pending, but for all intents and purposes, it's all done and I have to relist an item. 

03 October 2013

419, And It Stands for a "Person"

Recap: Sold something on eBay. Buyer used "buy it now" option. 2 days, no payment, and two ignored messages asking if everything's all right. Buyer's eBay profile on the mobile site gives a New York street address:



Then, I go to the main site, and see this:





Notice the "unpaid" feedback? Notice that Nigeria is not New York?

I find his Twitter, and come across this Tweet:





I thought he was referring to my sale, but the dates are wrong. Still, there's that New York address. The most recent business attached to it is a cargo company called Allworld International. I find their Facebook page, the last update is August 2012:





Hmmm, if they're a freight company that regularly goes to Nigeria, why would someone need DHL to do a pickup to the same place? Google Maps Street View may have the answer in this image dated September 2012, one month later:





That hardly looks like a bustling business. Also, if Bing is reliable, Allworld was only there for about a year, replacing a brokerage. Their phone number gets me a machine, but that can mean anything. Like I said, if it's a shipping firm, why would they need DHL to take something to where they already go?


Emmanuel, my sale was not for international shipping. Your actions speak louder than your words, your inactions even louder. Of course, feel free to explain to me why I should believe a single thing you say. 

28 September 2013

SABREWINGS (collaboration)


My friend Karla takes these amazing pictures of sunsets, and I really wanted to use one as a background for a spaceship shooter-themed poster. I'm not totally happy with it, but all that means is it's getting a revisit at some point. 

READY


So, on my Tumblr (and to a lesser extent on my Flickr) I've started this thing of taking pictures of cups of coffee I have when I go out. Sometimes there's an accompanying pastry, but I'm a bit strapped for cash, so only coffee this time. Originally, I was going to post the one photo (on the left), and then later post the other with some comment like, "recharged." That's when I started thinking about the Mega Man games with "Ready" at the start of each level. I don't do as much game-themed artwork as I'd like to, and this seemed like a fun little gag to throw out there, get used to more complex layouts (compared to my normal stuff). 
ENMAX is a reference to Thexder, a really neat old-school platformer from back in the days of Tandy (Radioshack's old internal brand of personal computers). It was developed by Game Arts, best known for the Grandia series of RPGs. Thexder NEO is a remake released on the Playstation Network and what I've been playing more recently to get me in the right mindset for another somewhat gaming-themed work I'll hopefully have up in the next day or two. 

Note: The coffee didn't cost 0.50USD, that's only the tip.

23 September 2013

Blue Nazca Four


This one was fun. I don't work with much color, and I wanted to challenge that here. I knew I wanted the line to be orange (because yellow really doesn't "pop" against blue as well as you'd think), but I wasn't sure how to do it. There was no way orange marker was going to show up on blue, and that would have been really tedious to paint around, if not impossible. I tried a color exchange in post, swapping the blacks for oranges (this was on One, since I hadn't finalized the linework for Four), which seemed to work, but not as well as I would have liked. I tried doing the line in a vector program so I could add it over the background in post, but the only vector program I'm really familiar with is the one in Google Drive, and that was really hard to work with. Finally, I decided to scan the background, invert its color (which would be more orange since it's a very light blue), layer it behind the second scan (now with the line work done in ink), and set the blacks to transparent. So, it's not only a nice, orange line, but it's got a texture to it.

21 September 2013

Blue Nazca Zero and One



Felt like making something blue, but not another version of Goodbye, Blue Skies, not yet at least. The numbering is because Zero turned out a bit darker than I meant for it to be and originally I wasn't going to post it at all (or put it in the Scraps folder on DeviantART), but the scanner washed it out a bit, making it a tad more presentable. Could never quite settle on the line pattern, so if there's another one in the future (which will be called Four for a laugh), it'll go for a kind of middle ground. 

20 September 2013

..::UNTITLED::..

Not exactly what I wanted to work on, but maybe what I needed to work on right now. I may revisit this as a practical item, with the red done as liquids in a clear tank like I did for White Cloud. In fact, I got the idea from an article about Jaws 3, referencing how surreal the poor matte work makes the floating fish head in the beginning. I'd remembered seeing that opening years ago, but didn't realize how flawed the effect was.

Royal Mother's Karibbean Key Lime Pie


Made a Key Lime pie today, specifically from a recipe my mom got from a chef on the Royal Caribbean cruise lines. I would imagine it's fairly stock, but adding "Royal" and "Caribbean" makes anything sound exotic. 

It's a small slice for a reason. I've only had Key Lime pie once before, and it was not exactly a pleasant experience. I was very young, and between my tastes not being very well-developed and having absolutely no idea what to expect from something called "Key Lime pie," the term "acquired taste" was apt. It was extremely tart, not actually sour, but a kind of sweet I was not prepared for. I remember not being able to eat any of it and avoiding it thereafter, even in yogurt flavors. In other words, I was confident I could handle the flavor now, but I wanted to be sure. 

I went back for seconds. 

Next time I'll try making a meringue topping with the egg whites instead of using them in a batch of botched peanut butter cookies.

15 September 2013

Tactile Response Controls

This happens entirely too often. In my defense, it's off-center because some lamebrains think laptops need built-in number pads on their keyboards. Who the heck needs to do 10-key entry on a laptop? 

Sunday

This photo was the only time I took out my phone the entire time I sat at the booth. I had my notebook, and sketched out a little stick figure comic I'll clean up later as I waited for my coffee and cinnamon roll. I shouldn't have to fight for moments of peace like this the way it feels like I have been lately.
Gratitude is something I think about a lot and wonder how much thought others give it. There may not be a right or wrong way to think of it, but I wonder what kind of values those people have when they think about it.

07 September 2013

Control Issues: Offspring Fling!



So I bought Offspring Fling! which you should totally do as well, and the game is awesome. It's a platform puzzler that many people compare to the Kirby games, though I get more of a Lemmings-meets-Flicky synergy from it, but whatever it makes you think of, it'll always be good. You play a cuddly, floppy-eared... well, I think she looks like a Clefairy or possibly Wigglytuff... something that'll make an awesome plushie. Anyway, this loving mother has been separated from her children, and she has to explore a modular environment, gathering them up, and returning them to safety. The main twist is that, like real children, they're a terrible burden on their poor mother. You can't jump as high depending on how many of the little rascals you're holding over your head, and you can't fit through certain spaces with as few as one. This is where flinging comes in. Don't worry, your little bundles of joy are built like tanks wrapped in bubble wrap and goose down, and won't even yelp a little at being hurled at the walls, as long as you don't throw them into naturally-occurring pools of acid or in the path of ravenous lizard monsters. On top of that, the little guys can actually help you save them by activating switches, breaking brittle blocks, or even stunning those mean ol' lizard things. It's not exactly rocket science, but kudos to them for knowing to sit still and not step off the switch or the precarious ledge they may land on.

There's not that much to say about the game, but that's not a knock against it. It's very straightforward, very pick-up-and-play, and tends to use gameplay to teach you how its mechanics work. Most levels fit on one screen, giving you the chance to think ahead and strategize, and many exist entirely to teach you various gameplay mechanics, like how many babies you can hold over your head at once or how many of them can stand on narrow platforms (the answers being, respectively, a lot and hardly any). The graphics are bright and colorful, with lots of little details and nice animations. The music, while a tad repetitive, isn't annoying and fits the cutesy-but-not-cavity-inducing atmosphere. The puzzles are challenging, but not punishingly hard, overall extremely forgiving (one of the early levels practically forces you to mess up to teach you to restart a level if you get stuck).

My only honest gripe is in the nuts and bolts of the hardware support. Of course, I don't blame the developer for that; developing for the PC (as well as Mac and Linux) is tricky enough without all the hassle that comes with getting controllers to work. For however bad consoles get knocked for bad user interfaces, the PC side of the equation is the wild west by comparison.

Here's the thing: I don't like PC gaming. I don't hate it, I don't think PC gamers are elitist snobs or losers throwing away money or that consoles are better or any of that stupid nonsense. I simply don't like playing with a keyboard and mouse. It's just so unnatural to me and while stuff like Starcraft or most shooters work well with the keyboard and mouse, playing Offspring Fling! that way simply feels weird, downright wrong. Sadly, I didn't have that many great options at my disposal. I don't like dealing with drivers or most config programs, and even if you find a fairly user-friendly one, compatibility with a specific game is still a roll of the dice. I looked around for a few controllers like the Logitech F310 and some wired XBox360 controllers, but they were kinda pricey, the F310 got some real iffy reviews, and I don't care much for the design of the 360 controller (especially the D-Pad, which this game plays best with). I also looked at a retrofitted N64 controller that connected through USB, as well as an adapter cable that would let me use an original XBox controller I had lying around. That's when I remembered my Thrustmaster. It's this PS2/PC hybrid controller I got a few years ago for the first PC I ever bought (grew up in a Mac household). It looks almost exactly like a PS2 dual-shock except for some really nice triggers below the shoulder buttons. I wasn't sure it would work with my current version of Windows, which is 7, as I barely got it to work on XP. Still, I figured there was no risk in trying (unlike the others which would have meant dealing with returns in case they didn't work), and dug the guy out.

Time was not kind to the Thrustmaster. It apparently hated being stuffed in a bag with random cables for years and really let itself go. It still worked fine and dandy, but the rubber for its grips had some kind of chemical breakdown. It's sticky and so far has not come clean at all.

I persevered:





The moral of the story is: NEVER GIVE UP and the best solutions are always the simplest ones.

I may have to take the controller apart and run the casing through the dishwasher or, more likely, wrap the damn thing in athletic tape, so it'll look like a burn victim. In any case, it's all about the games.

Septuple Bypass: A Local Food Odyssey



I won. 

That is the 7X7 burger from Steak ‘n’ Shake, and it’s exactly what it looks and sounds like. They only serve it from midnight to six in the morning, overlapping slightly with their breakfast menu. I slept away most of the afternoon so I could manage staying up to go and have this. It felt like forever, but according to the timestamps for when I posted to Facebook, it took about twenty minutes. 

Never again, though. It’s not unpleasant and I don’t even feel all that full (the fries came home in a box, which I think helped), but it’s not the best thing on the menu by a longshot. I’m chalking this up to being one of those “bucket list” events: eating an absurdly-sized burger. Yeah, there’s bigger out there, but I’m satisfied with this victory. 

It was our waitress’ second night, and she was a bit overwhelmed, so she got a big tip, both cash on the table and that tips line on the receipt. It worked out to 38%. She earned it. 

04 September 2013

ACCEPT MY EXCEPTION! NO OBJECTIONS!


This is a visual metaphor for a discussion with someone defending a plagiarist. Needless to say, we didn't see eye to eye, and neither of us were terribly civil about it. In the end, I pointed out we weren't going to convince one another, and so offered them the last word, a draw basically. Apparently, this isn't maturity. Apparently, maturity is where you keep arguing, repeating the same unconvincing statements at each other until one of you gives in. At least, that's what they kept insisting (they had a right to keep talking, and I had no right against listening... doesn't sound fair, but what do I know?). Look, one of my favorite movies is Rashomon. I've practically got the 21 Jump Street parody of it burned into my brain. I know all about multiple perspectives, at least enough to know that simply because you see someone's point of view, does not mean you're going to agree with them. When you accuse someone of not listening because of that, you're actually turning into the very thing you're accusing them of being, whether they are or not. 

This Is Not Sharing

Based on recent events on DeviantART. 
Look, whatever side of the copyright/piracy/sharing issue you're on, no one respects a plagiarist, especially when that plagiarist defends their actions when confronted by the original artists. 

01 September 2013

Old Giant: A Story in 100 Words


Two young girls, sisters only a year apart, set out to play in the fields where lay the giant's husk. Time had buried the old warrior, though its shoulders cast the house in shadow by early afternoon. Their father warned against climbing, tempting as the twisted shapes of warped and rusted plating were to the little mischievous acrobats. Towering splinters of bone wrapped by creepers were as ladders to them. Up they went to meet its gaze, dark circles framed by rust and moss. They turned away, looking back on their darkened home, the ruins beyond red from the sunset.  

Adblock Mendel Test


It is better to believe in science. 

Look, whatever happens with this Adblock campaign to "use ads to get rid of ads," or whether or not you agree with Gene Lee's point of view (about how him working hard sans pay justifies passing judgment on how others earn an income), one fact remains above all else: I cannot tell you not to use Adblock. I don't have that right, something I don't believe the "minds" behind the Adblock campaign have any respect for. 

You are adults, and if you're not technically an adult, you at least want to be treated like one. As such, all I can ask is that, if you use Adblock, please use it responsibly. What do I mean by that? Simple, you understand that while certain content creators insist on not being paid for what they provide for your entertainment or even insist you put up with a few ads, that is not the case for all, and it is unfair to judge or otherwise ostracize them for it. If you do not like the content someone produces on their site, nothing obliges you to continue visiting their site. If, however, you enjoy their content and frequent their pages, all we ask is that you acknowledge the time and effort put into their work, that there are real and legitimate expenses to producing even the most barebones text weblog. Your internet access bill does not offset those costs. That's access, not content. That's a road, not the stores along the road. After all, wouldn't you rather more of your money went to the sites you enjoy than simply everything all at once? Moreover, whatever you're unable to contribute to those sites can be aided by advertising. The point is you have options, very few of them essentially bad. 

Here's where I have to get a little mean: If you're upset by this, or you think what's being asked of you right now is unreasonable or unfair to you, or if you disagree with the outlooks and viewpoints I'm here advocating, that's fine. You are more than welcome to disagree with me, but I do want you to do something for me. I want you to get a piece of paper and something to write with (or open a new text file) and make an itemized list of what makes someone a sellout in your view. If someone says anything along the lines of what I've said above, put that there. If someone earns any amount of money from something you don't think is a proper job, put that there. If someone offers something for sale in addition to whatever they may give away, put that there. If someone takes on a sponsorship from an organization you dislike, put that there. Don't second-guess yourself, put it all on there, fill out that list, and see exactly how many people you can find that don't tick off a single box on it. If and when you do, tell as many people as you can about them, and ask if they agree with your findings. You may be surprised. 

Good night, and good luck. 

Full disclosure: I do not use Adblock. The closest thing to Adblock I use is the "block pop-ups" feature that's equipped with all browsers I've ever used. It does not hide banner ads and has no effect on the ads attached to videos. In fact, when a pop-up is detected, a bar appears asking me if I wish to allow the pop-ups to appear (it's opt-in, not opt-out, unlike Adblock's whitelist feature). I hate pop-up ads as much as you do, if not more. I feel that of all the types and styles of ads out there, the pop-ups are arguably the worst, the most distracting, and the most invasive form of advertising. In other words, I don't hate the message, only one particular medium for it.

30 August 2013

The Nintendo AxeBlade Tablet

Nintablet
You could say I have something of a love/hate relationship with Nintendo. I grew up with the original NES. We had a 2600 before, but I remember having both and generally favored the NES. Eventually, I grew tired of what Nintendo had to offer and moved over to the Genesis. After a prolonged love affair with that system, followed by a brief spell of PC gaming, Nintendo came back into my life as the 64. I didn't technically have one, my brother did, and between us we bought a few games for it. I'd say I enjoyed it, but part of me was honestly still looking at the Sega Saturn, albeit it was definitely on the way out. I'd made up a list of about five or ten games, thinking, "If I get a Saturn, and the system fails, I'll still have ten good games for it and be content with those until the next console." Not a bad plan, though I say so myself, but it fell completely out the window when I saw a commercial for Final Fantasy VII. I became obsessed and finally got a Playstation for Christmas, circa 1997, that loyalty more or less remaining to this day.
I'm generalizing here, leaving out a lot of details like my DreamcastSNES, various Gameboys, even an N-Gage, but the basic point to take away is that I became a shameless Sony fanboy in high school and never looked back. The DS held very little interest for me outside of a few games, but not enough to warrant a purchase (I was quite happy with my PSP). The thing is, virtually all my friends are big DS users, and I do feel left out sometimes, not to mention seeing more and more games that do admittedly pique my interest a tad like Crimson Shroud. Still, it was never really enough to make me start seriously planning. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I've been warming up to the PS Vita, even though I could go on for hours about everything I hate about it (despite that shameless fanboy title I mentioned). Now that the 2DS has been announced and revealed, I've been given pause for thought on which handheld to spring for. 
So, as someone who does not have a 3DS, which should already tell you this console is not for you and therefore its existence shoud hardly offend, here's why I'm genuinely interested in the 2DS. In fact, I have appropriately two main reasons: 
(.) No 3D. I cannot use the 3D effect on the 3DS at all. I've tried at least twice on a store demo, and after not even ten seconds my brain feels like it's trying to make a break for it through my nose. Most people don't have a problem with the 3D, I'm not one of them. Of course, this is where most people say, "Well, you don't have to use the effect, you can turn the 3D down." No kidding, I'm well aware of how a slider works. My issue is why in the world would I pay for a feature I'm not going to use? Yes, it's not simply a feature upgrade. The 3DS is a whole new system that's far more powerful than previous versions. That's not my problem. My problem is there's three versions of the original DS, and only about a year it seems after the 3DS came out, the 3DS XL was released. I'm not one of these guys that has to have the latest version of every console, but when you're releasing more hardware than Sega in their heyday, you're doing something wrong. It does not inspire confidence. In a way, I sort of knew there would be another version of the 3DS, possibly one that would do away with the 3D or cost less so I wouldn't feel like I was paying for a feature I didn't want. 
(..) I like the design. It has no moving parts, no big hinge in the middle. As cool as I always thought the idea of holding the DS sideways like a book is, the idea of opening and closing anything like a clamshell puts this lingering weariness in my head. When I worked in customer service for a cell carrier, long before the iPhone came out, the most popular phone we had was the Motorola Razr, which is what's called a flip phone. I wish I had a nickel for every time I got a tech support call from a customer whose screen went out because the wires connecting the screen to the main body got pinched. Couple that with the simple fact that hinges wear down anyway, and I've never gotten behind the design of any phone outside the classic "candy bar" style, which is more or less what most smartphone are now. 
Frankly, I wonder if game companies don't do enough market research and testing of their handhelds before they release them, hence minor upgrades and redesigns year after year. I always felt a little resentful at the updates to the PSP, even hating the Go version. I know early adoption is a big factor in a lot of consumer electronics gaining footholds in their various markets, but I'd rather they iron out the major bugs like size, shape, and weight before they get it out to me. Now that I've seen Vita memory cards in clearance bins, I'm  wondering if Sony has similar plans for the Vita, possibly a redesign that fixes all my complaints about the current version, like no memory stick support. I think that's unlikely, but even if a redesign is on the horizon, I'd probably be every bit a happy with a price drop in the current version. As for the 2DS, everyone is mocking it and laughing at it, pointing out all the design choices with it, while I'm thinking, "Finally." I do worry that with all this mockery that these haters will take out their whiny, first-world frustrations on the people who choose this system (or receive it as a gift). As someone who grew up during the great Nintendo/Sega rivalry that was the 16-bit era, I can tell you that system-shaming hurts everyone and it takes away the most important aspect of being a gamer: Playing games that you enjoy. 
Good night, and good luck.