Monthly Archives: September 2006

Sean’s Golden Axe

You can’t make this shit up: Earlier in the year, Sean got himself sponsored by RKS. The result was the kryptonite-based axe, which I believe he first played at Chain Reaction. But I guess that wasn’t cool enough, because the other day he comes walking through the door with a gold-plated guitar. Really. No chocolate inside or anything.

The glint of Sean's godliness was too much for the cameraThis thing is like a special item from ZeldaPlastic and gold, flan and gold foil-wrapped chocolateNow all he needs is the matching bling-bling...

(Additionally, someone even donated a vintage all-plastic guitar—from 1953, no less—to Sean during a garage sale. Again, you can’t make sh*t like this up!)

Supposedly this new axe plays well enough to delight God himself, though personally I’d be a mite nervous playing something laced with gold in a club full of drunken, ornery southern Californians. But, then, I’m not Sean, and I’m not a member of BTP.

Coming Zune: Viral DRM

You have to wonder about the value of a product with features like those detailed in this Medialoper article:

What Microsoft has created is a new form of viral DRM. Zune will intentionally infect your music with the DRM virus before passing it along to one of your friends. After three listens the poor song dies a horrible DRM enabled death. Talk about innovation.

Microsoft will undoubtedly claim this limitation is designed to support artists and prevent piracy. There’s just one problem. Not all artists want their music protected by DRM. Furthermore, not all artists benefit from having their music protected by DRM.

While it may come as a surprise to Microsoft and the major labels, independent musicians frequently promote their music by posting unencrypted mp3 files on their websites in hopes of finding an audience. If Zune is really all about community, as Microsoft claims it is, then it would allow music to spread virally, instead of DRM.

It will be interesting to see how this, and other devices like it, are accepted amongst the gadget-grabbing public. Is three days / plays enough before the spending circuit in your brain gets tripped and you run out to buy the CD? Or is it just enough of a hassle that you merely forget what you were listening to, move on to other tracks? (Perhaps this is what the industry wants: limited plays recharged every few days—at a premium, of course—regardless of whether or not you actually buy the CD.)

And what about the indie bands, like Clawn or Burning Tree Project (yes, shameless plug!), bands without mainstream distribution who are trying to get their music out there? Is the Zune’s DRM nurturing the community of up-and-comers—or is it merely fortifying the pockets of the major labels, widening the barrier between “signed” and “unsigned”?

I suppose I just don’t see how digital leashing is anything but a nuisance, a thinly-veiled cop-out for record labels unable (or unwilling) to put out quality material. If record sales are down, it’s because there is less interest in the music—but instead of improving their catalogs, the record companies are trying to find ways to capitalize further on what they already have. As far as pirating goes, the real problem stems from actual pirating rings, the people with disc replicators in their basements and IRC channels dedicated to file swapping. Forcing DRM down the throats of consumers is like fitting your kids with flea collars and letting the dog run free.

It’s a given that people share what they like. It’s also a given that people buy what they like. Casual sharing has to be addressed, sure, but tech like this only adds insult to injury.

Grand Theft Clawn

Grand Theft Clawn

Grand Theft Clawn

Sean was playing MGS2 again the other day, and he just happened to be working his way through that hellish scene we all know and hate—cheerfully rendered here by KnickKnack:

Jimbo's Raiden Impression, by KnickKnack

Jimbo's Raiden Impression, by KnickKnack

The caption is quite true. Not that I looked or anything…because I didn’t.

Most of the photo galleries have been moved off-site. I anticipate a heavy under-the-hood revamp in the next few months, and the last thing I need is nearly 3,000 (no joke!) photos to wade through. So, if you’re family or a friend, I’ve sent you a message with the new URL. Check your e-mail.

Oh, and the current nickname for Stories from the Steel Garden is Steel Magnolias. Just telling you what I’ve heard….

It’s safe to say Raiden’s fate as a recurring MGS character was sealed with the blatant display of his cartwheeling, unisexual ass. I find it grossly amusing; most fans simply add Raiden to their bitch-list.

A deviant's take on Raiden

By the way, if you got any sort of enjoyment out of this page, chances are you’ll love the Accidental Video Game Porn Archive:

http://derekyu.com/avgpa/

Google Listens In

I came across an interesting article while burning calories over at the Slashdot site:

The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that’s adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject.

Read the full story here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/…/google_eavesdropping_software/

Any little bit they can get—”they” being the advertising conglomerates—they’ll take. We all learned that in grade school. But this seems overtly perverted. How many of us keep our computer in our bedroom? Is it really worthwhile to download / install software that lets companies listen to what’s going on in our bedroom?

I wonder, though, how many people will simply shrug and go along with the idea anyway. Look at the MySpace (yes, I’m guilty of having an account there, may God have mercy on my soul) explosion—millions of members, wittingly or unwittingly, allowing themselves to be showcased as a product for the advertisers. And everyone wonders why, whenever someone’s profile goes awry, there’s no proper customer support over there. Gee, could it be because we’re not the customers, and the advertising companies are?

I believe a review of the meaning of the word “advertise” is in order (I like definition five).

Press Release: Stories from the Steel Garden

This sounds so official:

He calls himself a POD Person, though he is in no way affiliated with extraterrestrials or companies that produce sleek little electronic juke boxes. His name is Jesse Gordon, and he is only one of many up-and-coming independent authors working their way up the publishing ladder, one book at a time.

Hot on the heels of the recent POD (print-on-demand) explosion, Gordon has already made a name for himself in the online literary world, and has published more than 30 short stories in the last six years. His new novel, Stories from the Steel Garden (his third novel and fourth book to date), is poised to raise the bar in a field where one’s writing is only as good as one’s presentation.

From the book’s back cover:

“Richard Doroschenko is a diligent worker and a kind-hearted resident of the Steel Garden manufacturing campus. He is also a storyteller with the ability to frame people, places, and events in such a way that the dismal mediocrity of everyday life becomes something bearable. This novel chronicles Richard’s experiences during Earth’s Sol Union days, when humankind is caught in a decades long galactic war that threatens to extinguish the human spirit once and for all—but Richard has a unique point of view, and he soon learns that his storytelling ability is more than just make-believe…”

The premise may sound a bit formulaic, cliche, even, in a genre where fresh ideas are few and far between, but Gordon is convinced his latest effort will stand on its own, apart from his peers’. “I wanted to tell an alien-human war story without all of the more typical mechanisms you read in books or see in movies. Thoughtful, believable narrative over slick one-liners designed to move mindless action along. Character development over action-figure pitfalls. Steel Garden is about being alive, being human—it just happens to take place in a sci-fi setting.”

Despite Gordon’s optimistic outlook, it remains to be seen whether or not he can overcome the challenges of self-publishing—namely a lack of mainstream distribution, and a noticeable apathy towards the quality of POD books in general.

“I’m not going to let it get me down,” he says. “I’m something of a perfectionist. Stories from the Steel Garden, for me, had to look and feel like anything you’d find on a store shelf at Borders or Barnes & Noble. With print-on-demand, there’s a lot more pressure because in many cases you have to be the writer, editor, and publisher, but the finished product is definitely worth it—as long as you follow through. I feel I’ve done just that, both with the story and with the finished product.”

Stories from the Steel Garden is available now at your local book store.