4.30.2009

Celebrisocial Media (and why it sucks)

This is what's ruining the internet:

Holy fucking shit! If I add yet another hash mark on Vin Diesel's e-belt, I MIGHT get a response from the fucking mongoloid! It's awesome, cause up until now, I didn't think the goon had the intelligence to be able to figure out that pushing the buttons on a keyboard actually creates words! Wow, sign me the FUCK up!

Or don't. Either way, Vin won't actually give a shit. And Shaquille O'Neal couldn't possibly care less about what you ate for lunch, so feel free to twitter it at him all day long - you'll get nothing in response. Oprah's on twitter now, and it's not because she's ready to hear anything whatsoever about you or your boring life. Same with Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Spears, that fuckstick who plays Dwight on The Office or anyone else making millions off your attention. And don't even get me started on the goddamn Barenaked Ladies (I can't even bring myself to link them, for fear someone might follow them and add to their e-ego).

You see, these people aren't involved in Social Networking. They just want numbers. And not just any numbers - big fat long numbers with lots of commas in them. And they want these numbers because the numbers they USED to care about - Neilson, Billboard, box office - they're slipping into oblivion. They're no longer useful as metrics for how much these egomaniacs are adored. So they've decided to go right to the source. They want YOU to let THEM know how much you adore them - and they've decided to reward you with the sense that maybe - JUST MAYBE!!!! - if you do add them to your little list of timewasting phenomenon, they might interact with YOU!

YOU'LL BE SPECIAL! Because Ashton Kutcher just might say on his Twitter "@joethepeacock: yeah right". Of course, it's because he actually wants to engage you in conversation! He wants to know all about you! He read your entire profile before he sent that! He knows your cat's name is Chairman Meow (and thinks you're goddamn original for that, since NO ONE HAS EVER NAMED THEIR CAT AFTER THE DECEASED CHINESE LEADER WHO'S NAME SOUNDS LIKE THE NOISE A CAT MAKES!!!! EVER!!!!). He knows you listend to Depeche Mode all day yesterday, cause he read all 112 of your tweets about how the songs make you feel! You, my friend, are HIS friend.

Or not.

That's not to say there aren't people out there who are on Twitter or Facebook who are well known (or actually famous) who won't engage you in meaningful conversation. Leo Laporte? That guy has his shit together. Trent Reznor? He's not in it for the tally, he genuinely loves technology and getting to know his fans. The big difference is when and why they got on the platform. If it's because they're honest geeks and checked it out and liked it, fine. If it's cause they're actually engaging with fans (Jessica Alba's infamous staring contest on that video site is a great example), fine. But carrying forward this entire hero-worship bullshit into a realm designed to interact with one another solely for the sake of ego-building? That's not only disingenuous, it's disgusting.

And @The_Real_Shaq can suck my diq.

4.28.2009

An entire day of AppleCare

First, I'd like to say that yes, I've finally joined the ranks of the iPhone elite. I was able to finally cancel out of my absurd-number-of-lines-with-Verizon contract, and get over to AT&T to get me a JesusPhone. And it's everything everyone's ever said it was, and more. I adore it.

Second, I'd like to say that MobileMe is absolutely fantastic for "push" email from gmail (or other non-exchange servers) to the iPhone. All of my email address route into gmail, so I simply foreward every email from gmail to my @me.com address and bing - I've got push email.

Third, I'd like to say that I love my Mac Pro.

Fourth, I'd like to say that I really appreciate the kind and respectful nature of the AppleCare staff. They're good, fine people, Stuart.

Now, with all that said, I swear to God if I have to call AppleCare one more fucking time today (or this week, or even this month) I'm going to explode and cause a mess so large, my wife will go insane trying to clean it and end up opening fire on a crowded mall.

The first long-story-short: MobileMe syncs your contacts, calendar, bookmarks, etc. with any computers tied to your account, as well as the iPhone. I have my Mac Pro, Macbook Pro and iPhone all talking to the account. For some reason today, the Macbook Pro decided to quit updating the calendar (and only the calendar) with MobileMe. I called AppleCare, and after about 20 minutes, I was directed to a livechat session with a MobileMe support person (who was very polite, but I do wish I could have just talked on the phone). After an hour and a half (yes, an actual hour and a half of another one), the MobileMe person finally figured out it was an iCal issue on the Macbook Pro. So I talked with an iCal specialist, and we finally figured it all out.

Second long-story-short: A few hours later, I got the AppleCare box I ordered for my new iPhone in the mail. So I hopped on my Mac Pro to register it, and one of the monitors was extremely dim. So I called AppleCare - for some reason, my Mac Pro IS under AppleCare, just not under my name. So we had to fix that. Then, I reset my PRAM and all was well with the computer. Unfortunately, I opted to let them go instead of just registering the iPhone right then.

And now, my third long-story-short, I went to the web form to register, and for whatever damn reason, the enrollment number that came in the box wouldn't work. So I called back.

I'm still on the phone with them right now. Have been for 50 minutes. The enrollment number that came in a sealed AppleCare box, which came in a sealed FedEx box, seems to have ALREADY BEEN USED.

I swear to God, I am the only person to ever need technical support on a cardboard box with a piece of paper in it.

So far, I've been on the phone with Apple a full 1/6th of a 24 hour day, working on 1/5th. I'm going crazy.


*** Update 9:16pm ***

Seems the serial number for the AppleCare box and the enrollment number don't match - perhaps a misprint on the insert? Who knows. All I know is that I'm sick of being the guy who ends up getting the extra special cases for technical support.



*** Update 9:30pm***

Well, I've been escalated. I can't believe this is actually happening. It's possible that there's an entire batch of boxes out there with misprints like this, they're checking on that. More than that, they're going to get back to me in 3-5 business days. To tell me if I can get a new number, or if I have to return this actual physical box with a KNOWN BAD NUMBER to get a new number. WHY THE FUCK CAN'T THEY JUST GIVE ME A NEW ENROLLMENT NUMBER NOW??? I know how databases work - it's simple. Just generate a new number, right here right now, and assign me to it. Better yet, just flag "enrolled=1" on my account with this iPhone and save me the fucking headache.

Gah. So yeah, in 3-5 business days, I'll get to find out of I have protection starting a year from now.

I'm betting that there is a bad batch of boxes. And I'm betting that, once again, I get to be the canary in the mineshaft for a bunch of people to figure out how not to do something.

4.23.2009

Nerd Rage -- Thank You Scott Ramsoomair

I don't much read webcomics. Except for Cyanide and Happiness, there's not one I keep up with on a regular basis. But occasionally, I'll check out the strips that show up in the "Comics" category on Google Reader. Today is such an occasion.

I read today's VG Cats and I was nearly brought to tears. It puts in a mainstream webcomic what I've been trying to say about comics, movies, being a geek and other "I paid my fucking dues, and you get to just show up in the 2000's with an ipod and some acronyms and claim credit" rants.

It's funny that this comic came out this week, as it's right on the tails of a great talk I had with the extremely cool Ed Piskor at Notacon last weekend. If you don't know who he is and are too lazy to click his linked name, Ed works with Harvey Pekar on American Splendor, and put out two of the greatest, most authentic and honest self-published hacker comics I've ever read (and yeah, that's a fairly narrow category, but still - they're FANTASTIC and you owe it to yourself to cough up 30 bucks for the two).

Now, when Ed gave his talk on Wizzywig, he was wearing a righteous Public Enemy shirt and Pittsburgh Pirates hat. He looked like a thinner white Chuck D from the 80's, and I REALLY dug that. His buddy HP ran around con wearing a Kangol and fat rope chains and Adidas, like RUN DMC. And what's great is I knew it wasn't just an act - these guys definitely were into old school hip-hop. So I mentioned it during his talk - I raised my hand to ask about the process of self-publishing a comic book, and before I got to that, I told him that the Public Enemy shirt made me less-than-three him, but the Pirates hat really sealed the deal.

I'm sure he had no idea what to think, but he went along with it. He was really cool about it, and thanked me, and answered my question. But being a self-professed aficionado of old-school hip hop, I really found the entire thing awesome. Here was a comics nerd, who was also a hip hop nerd, who did nerdy hacker comics... This was a guy I wanted to get to know.

Afterwords, I went up to him and introduced myself. Now, a 6'3" jock-looking gorilla going up to you and wanting to talk to you about comics isn't something you're going to expect to want to be interested in. I know I don't look the part, and I had to convince him quickly that I wasn't just some jock who saw 300 and thought it looked neat (Don't get me started on the walking contradiction that I am... I'm keenly aware that I look like a meathead and talk like a nerd, which makes it impossible to fit in with any crowd. The nerds see me as a jock and avoid me, the jocks listen to me talk for six seconds and call me "fag." It's why I spend so much time online with you fine folks... You GET me). And I think I delighted him by showing my chops about the industry and the depth of my knowledge (and the Cerebus tattoo on my right calf helped, I'm sure).

And I think it's because of the depth we both shared in our love of comics that we began talking about how comics are being co-opted these days into mainstream vehicles for great amounts of cash. And I made a statement then that it really pissed me off that, what used to brand me as an outsider and loser when I was young, now makes the young kids of today cool. But that statement was dishonest and wrong, because it wasn't what I hated.

So I halted and amended myself. I said "No, that's not really fair. What REALLY pissed me off was the kids my age, who I went to high school and junior high with, who made fun of me for reading comics and being into sci-fi and RPGs are now always asking me questions about the history of comics, and if I'd seen Wachmen, and if I play World of Warcraft."

And he lit up. I could tell that he knew exactly what I was talking about. And we went on to have a wonderful conversation about the difference between consuming culture and being a part of culture. It was fantastic, and one of the highlights of my weekend. And now, Scott Ramsoomair has put the cap on a feeling I've had for years and years, in a much more public forum, and with much more style than I probably ever could. So I have to thank him.

Because It's SO unfair. It's not enough for me to want those posers to stay the hell out of a culture I adored and they hated when we were younger. No - I think they don't deserve the chance to get to know how fantastic The Dark Knight was, and how deep Watchmen is, and God forbid they ever find Cerebus or Ronin or Akira (which, of course, they will in 2010 when Leonardo DiCaprio bastardizes the thing). I hate that you can be a "gamer" when you don't even know what X-com is. I can't stand that you consider yourself hardcore for having a wireless headset on an Xbox 360, when I spent hours at a time trying to get IPX configured to play Doom over a 26.6 modem with the kid down the street (who also got his ass kicked for being into games and other "nerd" stuff).

I don't mind the fact that entire new generations of people are going to get to see these things and be aware of them and know them and grow up loving them. I know that much about myself now, and it doesn't bother me that you preppy yuppie fucks have kids who are into this stuff. BUT NOT YOU. You don't deserve it. It irks me to no end that those of you who hated on this stuff now act like you're the first-comers, like you knew about it all along, because you saw me (or someone like me) reading it during English class instead of paying attention to who Mary Jane let finger her behind the bleachers last week.

Go back to your frat parties and obsessions with ridiculous TV dramas, please. You cheapen our bliss by being interested in the same things we are. We got into this stuff to escape you and your retarded kakhi-covered world.

Go away.

4.22.2009

Followup to "On Change" --> "I'd rather"

Some things I do, people react in public, on the comments and by submitting to link sites and whatnot. Some things, I guess, invoke a more personal and private type of response. Those things are the ones that tend to "hit home" or really make a point that readers would rather not drag out into the streets, but they feel like they should talk to me about it. It's also those things that I put the absolute least amount of thought into and just start blabbering about.

I've been getting a LOT of email on the "On Change" thing I wrote. I didn't even think about the words as they came out of my fingertips when I wrote it. I just did. And I guess some people liked it or needed to hear it. And one common thread came out from a LOT of you who wrote me back -- The "I'd Rather" thread.

As in, "I start doing x (like, write a book), and the entire time I'm doing it, all I can think is "I'd rather be doing y (like playing video games)." And that's what makes change so hard.

I know exactly what you mean. And here's the bad news first - it never actually goes away. You will ALWAYS prefer to do something comfortable and fun to something you perceive as work.

But here's the good news -- Eventually, it DOES become fun. It becomes something you enjoy doing. It's not work. It's relaxing, and enjoyable. Working out becomes your catharsis for the day's stress. Writing becomes your escape into worlds you invent and control. Building bookshelves becomes a silent protest to Ikea as you build shelves at 3x the quality for half the price.

It does. I promise. And that's part of the change. You become someone new, someone who sees that the "old fun" of playing video games was temporary and fleeting moments of enjoyment, and the time spent doing the "new fun" of working out is a long-lasting investment that pays dividens your entire life.

Not that video games are bad or evil - I still play them as often as I can. It's just that I quit preferring them over the other stuff in my life that I also enjoy doing, like writing books and working out, because no one ever walks up to me and squeezes your bicep and says "Wow, Joe... Have you been playing video games?" And they NEVER say "I was just browsing Amazon and randomly found your video recording of how you beat the boss on level 4-3, and I have to say, I was HOOKED! I watched all your video game replays!"

Anyway. I just wanted to follow up with that, and from there, I'm done. Look for strange observances on the packaging of chewing gum and reminiscing over old 90's bands starting again next post. Who knows, I may even upload another picture of my cat.

4.19.2009

On change (short version: shut up and do it)

I'm sitting in the food court at Indianapolis International Airport right now. I'm telling you this because I have to start writing this thing somewhere, and after the conversation I just had, I have no idea where to start -- so I figure I'll just start going with what I know and see how it works from there. So far, so good.

When I got here, I figured I'd kill a bit of time by getting a bite to eat. I went to Qdoba and ordered a naked pork burrito, and while I was ordering, I noted that there was once a time when I would have not only ordered the burrito with a shell, but also with shredded cheese, extra cheese sauce, double meat, extra beans, and chips on the side. I noted this because, for the past, oh, year or so, I've become aware of just how much I used to eat. Much like a recovering alcoholic marks every single day they've been sober, recovering fat asses can't help but think back to how little they thought about what they ate.

While sitting here eating my naked pork burrito with lettuce and salsa, a rather rotund gentleman sat down a few seats away from me with a large sack emblazoned with the trademark red square and yellow "M" of a McDonald's bag - but long before he even sat near me, I could smell that oh-so savory smell of The Fries.

Now, I could get all expository and go on and on about how fucking GOOD McDonalds fries are. And you know why? Because they're fucking GOOD. But I won't, except to say that if I have one weakness in this new dietary whatever I've discovered, it's those damn fries. They smell good. They taste good. They even sound good. See if you can sit near a batch of them and not succumb to the siren's song they sing. You can't. I can't. No one can.

After he pulled out his fries, he pulled out two cardboard flip-top containers that mentioned something about a double cheeseburger. This used to be a typical meal for me when I ate fast food. Two burgers, a batch of fries, and a soda. Really, no big deal in the grand scheme of things. And as glanced at his meal, I didn't do what you probably thought I did, which was note "OH MAN THAT WOULD BE SO TASTY RIGHT NOW WHY AM I EATING THIS NAKED BURRITO WHATEVER."

No. I just thought "Man, those fries smell good." I didn't WANT them. I just thought they smelled good. That's a big change for me.

Anyway, He looked over at me a few times, and I could tell he was checking out the big Akira tattoo. He asked me who did my work, which broke the ice a bit. I told him about Todo and how amazing he is, and he went on to say how much he admired the work, and how when he lost some more weight, he was going to get his tattoo done.

I mentioned the fact (and this is a big thing for me) that one of the reasons I work out every day is because I never want this amazing piece of art to look all bent out of whack. And I immediately felt bad, because I know that, at that very moment, what was going through his head.

I know, because it used to go through mine, and the things he said right afterward confirmed it.

He talked about how he used to play football in high school and college. He talked about how he just hasn't been hitting the gym lately, but that he feels that, if he really dedicated himself, he could probably get back in shape pretty quickly. He talked about how much he used to bench, and that one of the things he hates about going back is how he can't bench that. He talked about knowing "this stuff isn't all that helpful" (pointing to the McDonalds), but really it's not that bad in the grand scheme of things. He then said he'd probably get back into "it" this summer.

This was, almost verbatum, the exact dialogue I'd have with guys who were in shape when I was at my most out of shape. And like I used to be, this guy wasn't absolutely blubbery and fat - He was just a "big guy."

And I was SO close to starting to talk to him about how I used to be, and why I decided to try out for the AFL, and the work it took to get to where I'm at now (which is still a long ways off from where I'd like to be). I wanted to tell him that, like him, all of us ex-athlete adult males think "Oh, man, three months of dedicated training and I'll be right back where I was." And I wanted to tell him why I know that he keeps putting off the gym because he actually HAS gotten close to three months of dedicated training in the past, and the weight didn't just fall off, and how he blamed it on the fact that he probably didn't train as hard as he used to, and how he had a job, and no time, and so on and so forth.

And I didn't. Because, like me a few years ago, it would have fallen on deaf ears.

You can't want something for someone. And to lose twenty to thirty percent body fat, you have to REALLY want it. No amount of encyclopedic knowledge or research will drop the weight. No amount of money spent on gym equipment will drop the weight. Walking through the doors of your local gym won't drop the weight.

It takes a long, long time. A year. Two years, even. Constant maintainence on the diet. Constant exercise. Constant attention to energy expenditure vs. caloric intake. Constant desire to want to be better. Constant affirmation (and reaffirmation) that what you're doing is positive, and not just a waste of your time.

And some guy with cartoons on his arm and a little bit of muscle sitting in the Indianapolis International Airport isn't going to give you that, no matter how badly he wants to.

I could tell that he had a mental process going on in the back of his head that was saying "you know, now that I'm talking about this, I really SHOULD join that gym. I really think it's time. And maybe my reward will be the tattoo I've always wanted." And inbetween bites of Double Cheeseburger, he asked me how much I bench, and how often I work out. He even said "Yeah, maybe today will be my last day of eating this crap." And he kept eating the crap.

The cognative dissonance was astounding - and only beacuse I realized I used to be the exact same way.

And now that he's left, I can't stop thinking about him. I wish him luck. What he wants is what he used to be, and he's so far from it, he's giving up before he even starts. I was that way for years. "It's not going to happen, so why bother?" Right? In the case of this guy, I know that, unless he has a reckoning that shocks him into finally deciding to stop trying or talking about trying, and actually get to work on changing his lifestyle, he'll likely go another round or two of this cycle. And I hate that for him, because it's the worst form of failure there is - knowing that you just didn't try hard enough.

But I don't pity him. And I also don't think any less of him. If he wants it, he'll get it. But he doesn't want it.

You don't change because you want to change. You just wake up one day and do it, and no matter how hard it is, you never go back to what you used to be. This goes for everything, not just weight loss. Stopping smoking. Stopping drinking. Starting on writing a book.

Everything and anything - you just fucking DO IT.

And the big secret is that, no, you won't stop wanting what you used to have, and you don't stop thinking about how nice it would be to just go back to the easy stuff - the laziness, the addictions, the whatever-it-is. And you just made a decision every day to not be that person. Eventually, you don't think about it every day, you think about it a few times a week. And then once or twice a month, you'll remember how nice it was when you did whatever it was that gave you comfort and made you fat (or lazy or addicted to something). And eventually, you just don't have the taste or the craving or the desire to be whatever you were - becaue now, you're someone else.

That's change. And it sucks, and it's hard, and it's work. And that's why it is so rewarding - because once you've done it, no one can take it from you. It's yours forever. And conversely, you can't give it to anyone else. They have to go make their own change.

So, change. Cast off the comfortable blankets of whatever it is that keeps you in the bed you've decided to lie in, put your feet on the floor, stand up, and move foreward. And no matter how tired you get, don't go back to that bed. There is no snooze alarm for change. There's just daylight being burnt, and when the sun goes down and they day is done, that's it. The opportunity is gone, and you quite literally die being something other than what you wanted to be.

So change.

4.15.2009

My morning at the airport! (By little Joe Peacock, Age 7)





I went to the airport this morning. There were airplanes flying over when I got there. That's because the airport is their home and that's where they sleep when they aren't flying. But they were flying this morning.





I went into the airport with my bags. They were not heavy. I had to give one bag to a person who promised me they would give it back when I got to Indann Indieo Indianapolis. Indianapolis is where racing cars was invented. It's also where basketball was invented. I saw that in a movie.





When I was waiting to give my bag to the person, I had to wait a long time. There were lots of people waiting with me. We were in a line. A line is where you wait politely for your turn to do the thing you are waiting to do. Everyone was very polite, except The Man. The Man had a blue tooth, but it was in his ear. He had a lot of product in his hair. He wore expensive clothes and his shoes cost more than mommy's car. He wasn't very polite to the man who worked for Delta.





The Man wanted to go ahead of the line where you wait your turn. He said he couldn't get the computers to work to check in and he wanted help. The man who worked for Delta said The Man could not cut line, because the people who were waiting politely were already there. The Man got loud. He talked funny, like he was from Jupiter, but mommy said he was probably from Brooklyn.




The other man who worked for Delta asked The Man to calm down and wait his turn. The Man shouted "Who the hell are you!" and told him to butt out. The other man who worked for Delta was probably friends with the man who worked for Delta. He walked away. He probably didn't want to get in trouble. He's not a very good friend. I wouldn't walk away from my friends when they were being yelled at. Mommy says that's called being an Admiral admirable.





The Man kept yelling at the man who worked for Delta. He demanded special treatment. I didn't think that was very fair, and I also didn't think The Man was going to go away anytime soon. I also had a really bad headache from getting up at 4:00AM to go stand around the goddamn airport, and had quite enough of this blowhard's fucking mouth, so I finally snapped and told him to shut the fuck up. He cocked his head and pointed his finger, and I immediately cut him off, telling him that before he got too wise, I wasn't in the mood to put up with his shit and was already on the airline's watch list for shoving another jackass who thought he was important enough to cut everyone off just because he could afford a pair of Berlutis. I then told him inbetween expletives to either shut up and get in line, or shove off.





People clapped. I didn't expect that. I was just very, very tired of his shit. He left, mumbling something under his breath. The man from Delta smiled and laughed. He told me that he'd been working there 23 years, and this was the first time he could remember where he was thanking the passenger for the help. I told him it was no problem and asked him where I could buy some aspirin.

The Man can suck my cock.

[image missing]

4.13.2009

Like "Cyanide and Happiness?" Like me? You'll love this.


I guest-wrote yesterday's Cyanide and Happiness strip. I met the C&H guys at ROFLCon 2008, and they were super, super cool guys. Since then, I've talked with Matt Melvin quite a bit over email, and our conversations always end up being some scathing critique of Social Web 3.5 Internet SEO Whatever.

I was mowing the grass last week (first time in years), and the strip idea just popped in my head. I could ONLY see it working as a C&H strip, with those characters and that sensibility (honestly, the C&H guys are - to me - in the highest echelons of cartooning today. Simple, to-the-point, and FUNNY. They are right up there with PvP and Perry Bible Fellowship in terms of perfect execution in the medium today. I rank them somewhere around #19 on my all-time list, and considering the volume of comics and cartoons I've read my entire life, that's high, high praise). So I just jotted the "script" out and sent it to Matt, and told him if he hated it, to go ahead and block my email address and I'll never bother him again. But he liked it, and ran it.

I love those guys.

And if you're wondering, yes, this blog post is filler. I've already told Facebook and Twitter all about this. But the past week or so has been such that you REALLY don't want to read about anything I'd have to say that isn't directly pertaining to work. Because I'd just get all ranty and stabby on you. Hence the comic strip.

4.09.2009

Status Update: Your friend is dead (RIP Jeff)

My friend, Jeff Jacka, has passed. And I found this out today, through Facebook.

Jeff was one member of a four-man hit squad which composed the UI teams that worked on Cingular, AT&T and Fox News. Scott McDaniel, Jon Lee, Jeff and I were called in on projects where timelines were too short, workload was too great, and the prospect of completion seemed impossible. And somehow, the four of us always made the impossible happen.

Jon just happened to ask this morning if I knew whether or not Jeff was available for a project he was working on. Now, you'd think contacting a UI engineer would be a simple matter, given their ties to technology and the web. But Jeff... Jeff's not a standard UI guy. He wasn't even a standard guy. He was one of the freeest spirits I'd had the pleasure of meeting. He was the embodiment of "Zen and the Art Of Everything." As such, his contact information constantly changed, as did his current location. But Facebook being what it is, I knew that I could send a message to him there and it'd reach him. It had in the past... It would this time.

Only... It won't.

It was as if I'd done it a thousand times, and it'd just become routine. I searched his name, found his page, clicked "Send Jeff a Message" and typed out a simple one: "Hey, Jon's got a project you'd be perfect for. You working these days? Let me know."

As soon as the message box faded, I found out that he wasn't working these days... And that he won't be letting me know. Posted all over his wall were memorials to Jeff. It took me a minute to realize that's what they were... I rarely if ever read anyone else's wall posts when I send them messages, so I almost missed it. But when I saw the words "Jeff's passing", it gave me pause.

This really hit me hard. I think part of it was the way I found out - it just so happened that Jon asked about him, and it just so happened I figured Facebook would be the best way to find out about his status. Turns out, I was right. What a strange new world we're living in.

I didn't know Jeff as well as his close friends would have, but I knew him well enough to trade books with him every few months. I knew him well enough to know that you'd never pin Jeff Jacka down to one place or one thing. I knew him well enough to know that, regardless of what other interests were intriguing him in his life, he did damn fine work when asked to, and he would always get it done on time. It's the reason I brought him back on so many projects. He was fun. He had a GREAT sense of humor, and that's why we all worked together so well. The harder things got, the funnier we all got as a group, and Jeff's etheral, almost hippy-like brand of "It all works out" humor was a welcome contrast to the sarcasm and dark humor of the rest of the group. He was a bright light of an existence.

I only wish I could have told him how much I loved Snow Crash. Believe it or not, I hadn't read it until Jeff gave me a copy late last year. I know, I know... What nerd worth his salt hasn't read Snow Crash? Well, I'm worth my salt now, thanks to Jeff. And I was planning on having a long discussion with Jeff about it the next time we had lunch.

He will be missed.

4.07.2009

Some turbulence ahead...

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know, there is a server migration taking place for all my sites (this one, Mentally incontinent, and others). I just initiated the DNS change on the domain names, and if all goes well, the only indication you will have that this even happened is this post. But if oddity strikes, well... Now you know why.

Fingers crossed!

4.06.2009

The Unpopular Truth: Charging for Multiplayer in Games is Actually Good

(Written for PixelatedGeek.com - view the original article)

Recently, the decision by Capcom to charge for the ability for players to play a "versus" mode of Resident Evil 5 has drawn fire from critics who state that charging for a feature found in most other games for free is silly, wrong, and in some cases, evil.

Bullshit.

I applaud this move by Capcom. I'm a gamer - and by that, I don't mean I buy games and I play games and I enjoy games. I mean that I fill the hours that I'm not actively working by working through games I own, sometimes multiple times, because I adore and love games. I actively dissect every decision by game designers in terms of gameplay, from the simplicity of the gravity in Popcap's Peggle to the complex-yet-beautiful strategy behind beating a Godlike session in Civilization 4. I can still rembemember the elation I felt when I first played X-com, because I play it at least once a month and have since I was 15.

I fully immerse myself in the experience of a well-crafted world when I play games - and the quickest way for me to lose all sense of beauty and begin cursing at the screen is when someone named sUpArJuGgAl012 calls me a "fucking faggot" as he camps the spawn point of the invisibility token in Halo 3. I seriously want to reach through the screen and strangle the little bastard, and even though I can normally restrain myself in deed and action, occasionally the constant barrage of "OH MY GOD YOU ARE SUCH A FAGGOT" coming through my earpiece on Xbox Live causes me to slip and call the tweenybopper on the other end of the com a "little shit" or something similar, at which point his father will hop on the mic and begin abusing me for cursing at his son. And before Halo 3, it was Halo 2, and before that Team Fortress and Counterstrike, and before that, Quake. It's been my entire gaming career.

A five dollar fee to play multiplayer instantly screens the lowest common denominator out of the process of annoying the shit out of me during a game. And I welcome the concept. I'll gladly pay an extra five-spot to instantly be rid of the risk of running into the worst offenders during multiplayer play. And while pay-for-play certainly doesn't necessarily eliminate all the bad apples from the bunch, it certainly raises the barrier for entry by the worst class of people - those who purposely annoy the piss out of people just because it's there to do.

Listen, I work hard all day long for the few dollars I get to spend on games. The last thing I need is to begin hating the one thing that has brought me joy all this time due to morons looking to grief people and teenagers whose parents use games to babysit and raise their hellspawn ruining the experience. So Capcom, charge for versus in Resident Evil 5. I love your game, and I want to keep loving it. And if you can profit by my willingness to be rid of an entire demographic of idiots, well... Around these parts, we call that a "win-win."

4.04.2009

Enough YYZ to make your ears explode (or make you wish they did)

I was surfing TotalFark, looking for mentions of North Korea's latest attempt to piss on the leg of the rest of the world, when I found this video of a (joke) high school band covering Rush's YYZ, but with a Baritone Sax. And it made me LOL, and it was good. In fact, I have watched it about 20 times now:



And from that, I found this 11 year old Japanese girl who arranged and performs the entire song all by herself on a gigantic keyboard with foot-pedals for the bassline, and it's impressive:




Which then led me to this 12 year old girl, Sara, playing YYZ on drums and doing one hell of a job of it:



Which then led me to Plastica, an all-toy-instrument tribute band, playing it in such a way that I just can't hate them as much as I want to:



Which then led to Rush appearing on stage at a Foo Fighter's concert to jam out with them on YYZ in Toronto (which, oddly enough, is the city marked YYZ for shipping and airlines):

4.03.2009

Reddit this ad

Check this out - there's an ad on Reddit.com for my first book, Mentally Incontinent:



Now, I didn't buy an ad on Reddit. In fact, I had no idea there was one until a friend of mine (okay, four friends of mine) IM'ed me and asked if I'd bought an ad on Reddit. It turns out, the guys at Reddit like my book, and have added it to their "Reddit Recommends" list! How freakin' cool are those guys? Very cool, that's how cool!

4.02.2009

Guess what this is? (hint - it's edited)

Just got this today:



Let's open it and see what's in there, shall we?



Oh hey! It's an edited manuscript for Mentally Incontinent (the 2nd one)! And wouldn't you know it, there's not a single page of it that doesn't look like this. I am a horrid writer, and I think my editor is going to have me shot. For the first time since I was 19, I feel like I just failed English class.

At least he didn't use red pen.

***Update 9:23PM ***

Okay, Jeremy called me out. I photoshopped the photo above. Here it is as it was when it came to me:

4.01.2009

Happy April Fools and whatnot

I can't believe NONE of you caught my prank. You all fell for it... God.

In other news, check out what we did over at Fark today.