Saturday, January 12, 2008

2008 [chat]

A new year. A new pulldown menu. A new [chat].

Real ID

Real ID

This is going to be a nightmare...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rez - Most of a Decade Later

Over Christmas break I happened to find a used copy of Rez (PS2) at a GameStop, and I did not hesitate even a moment before I picked it up and walked to the register with it. I knew I was lucky to find the game, but that's all I really knew about it. I'd never played it or seen it played or really even read much about it. I just knew that it's one of those games that you seize at the first opportunity.

Now I've "finished" the game, that is to say, played all of the levels included in what can liberally be called the story mode, and I think that the game is rather well worth the hype which was sufficiently positive to cause me to buy it as though programmed to do so.

For those of you who are, as I was, largely ignorant of how the game works, I would say that it is at it's core a rail shooter. Your character flies ever forward and your task is to move the targeting reticule and press the fire button to shoot down enemies that enter your field of view. Holding down the fire button while moving the target over enemies will queue up to eight shots, which will fire simultaneously when the button is released and hit all eight of the targets you selected. There is also an overdrive which, when engaged, will automatically target and fire upon all enemies on the screen for a few seconds.

And that's about it in terms of game play. The appeal of the game, however, is in the music and the sound effects. There is a pulsating beat that underlies each level, and a bit of pre-recorded tecno music running throughout the game, but the music is played largely by the player. Pressing the fire button makes a sort of synthesized clapping sound and your ammunition sounds like notes played on a synthesizer. Instead of making an exploding sound when they're shot down, enemies make the sounds of different instruments, the result of all this being that during especially pitched battles you are in effect free styling a bit of techno over the existing beat.

There is one boss fight in particular where a large disco-ball looking thing is floating around and the player shoots out the mirrors, which make an interesting sound, and sometimes missiles fly out of the top, and they sound like synth-drums when they explode, and then tentacles come out and they sound like cymbals, and when you've shot out half of them, the pre-recorded music beings to crescendo and when the last of the tentacles explodes, the music climaxes and the disco-ball reforms and the process begins again. That boss fight encapsulates, I think, what is so appealing about Rez.

It's so awesome, and it's on the XBL arcade soon, so please find a way to at least give it a try.

Which is the bigger problem - knowing what is the right thing to do, or doing it?

I just had an email conversation with my sister-in-law that started with her asking the Title and ended with the question below. And, at this point. I don't know what to say anymore.

I wonder to what extent people are more burdened by their weakness of will than by their inability to determine the proper action. Furthermore, in the case of akrasia, where does the breakdown take place? Has the agent misevaluated his own desires when he says "I want to stop smoking" but continues puffing away? Does he indeed not really want to stop smoking? Or does he want to stop smoking, he has adequately determined the right thing to do...the problem lies in implementing that desire?

WUSB and Transferjet

Sometimes I think that a universal adopting of BetaMax would have been a good thing. Sure, for home video use BetaMax is far worse than VHS. But perhaps if the world had adopted BetaMax then Sony would not have developed their asinine inferiority complex which makes them constantly release new proprietary systems to replace technology we already have.

This is what happened. Agere Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, NEC Corporation, Philips and Samsung got together to develop WUSB, a new wireless USB standard to solve the "problem" of using wires to connect things. So, guess what Sony did. I'll give you a hint: Sony Developed their own wireless USB system.

Rather than tell you, my faithful readers, what is wrong with this I'll simply post the stats for these systems.

Wireless USB
Frequency Band: 3.1 GHz~10.6 GHz
Transfer Speed per distance: 480 Mbit/s (3 m) / 110 Mbit/s (10 m)

Frequency: 4.48GHz
Transfer Speed per distance: 560Mbps (max)/ 375Mbps (effective) (3 cm)

Note: "Mbit/s" and "Mbps" mean the same thing. "m" and "cm" do not mean the same thing.

Did you see the problem? Wireless UBS works over distances of 10 meters. TransferJet works over distances of 3 centimeters. And if we level the proverbial playing field and use each from a distance of 3 centimeters? Well, TranferJet will transfer at 375 Mbps (or 560. I'm not sure what "max" and "effective" are supposed to denote) and Wireless USB will transfer at 480 Mbps, if not faster.

If the tech specs alone were not funny enough we then get to read Sony's Press Release.

"Just touch two electronic products together and files are transferred automatically."

Wow! Rather than connect two devices together via a wire I instead get to touch them to one another?! I don't know if my heart can take such a gigantic technological leap forward!

"TransferJet eliminates the complex setup procedures required by existing wireless systems, and no access point is necessary."

I plug my digital camera into my laptop and Windows automatically loads the drivers and allows me to browse the camera as an external drive. To whom is this process complex?

"Furthermore, users are also able to register their electronic products to enable TransferJet to recognize specific products. For example, by registering only the devices within their household, users can prevent external data leakage."

So, wait. You've replaced Windows automatically loading drivers, which was apparently complex, with a new Sony Registration system? Oh boy!

"Operation is also very intuitive"

When Sony says something is "intuitive" what they mean is that it is intuitive for a Sony employee. So you have to remember that when presented with WUSB Sony's intuitive response was to develop their own system.

Hopefully one of these days Sony will release a new proprietary type of oxygen to compete with our mundane, functional variety of oxygen. Then they can require their employees to utilize the new Sony brand oxygen, they all die of asphyxiation, and we won't have to deal with them fucking things up anymore.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

LoL Weebles.


Last week it was "news" when Bush said he was optimistic about the economy despite, you know, reality. Today it is "news" that Bush is optimistic about his Mideast peace treaty despite, you know, reality.

NEWSFLASH: Bush is always optimistic!

Ok? It's not news. In all situations George W. Bush will always have unaccountably high levels of ditch-fucking-stupid optimism. ALWAYS.

War in Iraq? Optimism. Economy? Optimism. Global Warming? Optimism. MidTerm elections? Optimism. Howard Dean is standing behind him with a spiked dildo and a ball gag? Optimism.

This is not to say that optimism itself is detrimental or problematic. It can be useful to have an optimistic attitude. The problem is when baseless optimism is the manner by which decisions are made. "I'm sure the economy will turn around." is not a strategy. "I'm sure there will be peace in the middle east." is not a plan; it is not a basis for making decisions or determining policy. It is a comment about an attitude, a viewpoint.

It is also not informative. "I'm optimistic about the economy" says not one god damned thing about the economy. When George W. Bush says that he is optimistic it does not mean that he knows something; that he is informed and upon that information is based his viewpoint. No. He's just always fucking optimistic.

So stop fucking reporting Bush's optimism. It is in all ways meaningless. It does not give us a basis by which we can guess at what will come. It does not give us facts. Reporting Bush's optimism is merely reporting that our jackoff stupid president is still, in fact, jackoff stupid.

Fuck, if planes were headed towards the World Trade Center? Bush would still be optimistic. Though, in that case, the resulting catastrophe would give him something to exploit. So maybe in that one particular case his optimism is well-founded and useful.

If only for himself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prayer, Iraq, and a Blog

Julia Duin at the Washington Times blogged today about the BPP, or Bagdad Prayer Patrol, a website that encourages people (including myself) to spend a minute or two a day remembering and praying for everything going on over there. You can also leave comments/send emails/post updates about friends and family arrived safely home, etc. It's a nice way to send encouragement to the troops; there's also a really cool section with field reports and updates from professional reporters, etc. For the number of people who just complain about the war overseas, its nice to see a group focusing their energy in a positive way.

Anyhow, Julia's coverage had one comment this morning when I first looked at it, and now she has 50 or so. Including a LONG one in German, which is kind of fun in a cryptic way. As a student of blogs, it's interesting to me the kind of feedback posts with different attitudes (positive vs. negative, faith oriented vs. politically oriented, etc.) will incur. If you care to look over the whole article (it's less than a page long) to get a sense of the tone she uses, the link is here. Additionally, I found her concluding points rather interesting... but I won't spoil it by telling you what they are here.

Silent Hill Origins.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Global Warming, government report

What do you guys think of this? I haven't read it all...

Global warming dissidents

New Hampshire Obama Clinton McCain Bartlett

One of the great traditions of elections is the act of seeking votes by playing to one's audience. For some this can be achieved by focusing one's attention on another such as when "Huckabee wooed independent Joe Legay by pouring him coffee". For others it involves placing a bunch of search terms in the header of a delightfully gratuitous blog post.

According to Google Analytics our wonderful little blog is none too popular with the great people of New Hampshire. We've had 20 visits from New Hampshire: nine from Nashua, two from Manchester, two from Hooksett, and one each from seven other cities. So a post about the New Hampshire primary will either fall on deaf ears or draw such vast numbers of hits from The Granite State that "Live Free or Die"ians will become our largest fanbase.

Today is the New Hampshire primary, as our New Hampshire audience surely knows, and the media will certainly be saturated with coverage and opinions and polls. While we at Everyone Is a Sith cannot afford our own polls we can easily borrow the information from others:

In a northern New Hampshire hamlet tradition, voters of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location cast the first 46 ballots of the primary season - half for Democrats and half for Republicans - at midnight, hours before polls opened statewide at 6 a.m. EST. Polls close at 8 p.m.

Combined results from the two spots showed Obama with 16 votes, Clinton 3, Edwards 3 and Bill Richardson, 1. On the Republican side, McCain received 10 votes, Huckabee 5, Ron Paul 4, Romney 3 and Giuliani 1.

Where else will you find such quality posting of information gained from other websites? Nowhere else; that's where.

Do you live in New Hampshire? Do you know someone from New Hampshire? Care to share your thoughts on the New Hampshire primary? Feel free (or die) to utilize the comment thread. And please remember Everyone Is a Sith for all of your time killing needs.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Taser: MP3s, Fashion, 50,000 volts.

Ponder this for a moment:

A handy new holster from Taser International Inc. holds not only your stun gun but a music player too.

Taser's latest foray into consumer products was introduced Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The holster costs $72.99 on the company's Web site and includes a 1-gigabyte MP3 player.

The company, which also sells its electronic weapons to law enforcement agencies and the military, has been stepping up its consumer product offerings with Tasers in new colors like "red-hot" and "fashion pink."

Maybe Taser is very confused as to what it sells?

"Just a little cut."

In The Golden Compass a human being's soul exists external to the body in the form of a daemon. The villians of the first book perform experiments on children in which they cut the daemon away from the child; removing the bond between the child and its soul. The rationale for this experimentation is that cutting away the daemon renders the child immune to Dust, the quazi-physical particle version of original sin.

The heroes of the book are disgusted by the practice of cutting away a child's daemon (called "intercission"). To cut away the daemon is an abomination; it goes against the natural state and renders the child a shell of their former self. The villians in the book argue that protecting a child from dust, original sin, is worth the "little cut" of intercission.

So we have two parties in this situation. One party argues that modification of a being can be justified if the benefits outweigh the offsets. The other party argues that modification of a being is an abomination regardless of what this modification provides.

My sibling has a three legged kitten named Weeble. Weeble was hit by a car when younger and so his right front leg sustained terrible nerve damage and was itself broken and useless; the leg would drag on the ground as Weeble romped around. So one day Weeble had a surgery in which his right front leg, testicles, and claws were removed.

Relate that to the idea of intercission.

In what way is modification of a being through surgery justified? While viewing the film version of Golden Compass the audience was anxious and frightened during the scene in which the main character and her daemon are to have intercission performed on them. Yet surely these same people would see no problem modifying the reproductive organs of their pets via surgery. What of removing the claws of cats? What of circumcision? What of removing useless and detrimental appendages such as Weeble's leg? By what means do we define "useless" and "detrimental"? Is is detrimental for a cat to have its reproductive organs and claws; for a child to have its soul?

Certainly any action can have justifications fabricated for it. But by what means are these justifications assessed? Can we truly take offense at the idea of a child having her soul cut away in a book if in real life we remove the claws and reproductive organs of our pets; treating them like property rather than living beings?

I think not.

In Golden Compass the organization who performed intercissions justified their actions by claiming that they knew what was best for the children, that being immune to Dust was worth the hollow daemon-less existence. In what way are we not adopting that same ideology when we neuter our pets, when we remove our cat's claws, when we modify and change and conform living beings to our idiotic idealized notions of how they ought to be?

Are we truly so wise that we know all ends, that we truly understand what is best? Or do we merely rationalize the actions we perform to make our pets less whole, less natural, less free, and more convenient?

How often do we say "Oh, it's just a little cut"?

Too often.

1.2 million PS3s sold...

Sony Corp. said Monday that PlayStation 3 game machine sales totaled 1.2 million in North America during the key holiday season.

I received a PS3 and the PS3 version of Rock Band for Christmas. On the day after Christmas I returned the PS3 and the PS3 version of Rock Band to the stores from whence they came and collected the money.

So, 1.2 million units may have been sold. But you have to then ask how many were returned shortly thereafter by persons disgusted by the idea of owning one of the damn things.

So please, Sony. Subtract one from those sales numbers. And then kindly crawl into a hole and die along with your proprietary Blu-Ray bullshit and your damned marketing campaign.

Do you want it? No.
Do you need it? No.
Let me hear it!
Fuck you, Sony.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Strings and Rods

Let's say I decided to make for myself a marionette. I suppose I would carve some wood into the approximate shape of human limbs and attach them with joints to a wooden torso with a wooden head on top of it all. I'd then attach some lengths of string to the extremities of the puppet and maybe I'd tie the other ends of those strings to my fingers, so that when I moved my hand in certain ways, the strings would be pulled and the puppet would be made to move.

Now obviously it'd be a very simple man who watched my puppet moving around and did not deduce that it was only doing so because of my own motions, but what would you say about the person who doesn't wonder at how I myself am made to move? I think it's reasonable, within the confines of this metaphor, to suppose that on my extremities are lengths of string which extend invisibly to the hand of a puppeteer who created me much in the way that I created my puppet.

The problem with that is there's no reason to assume that the chain ends there. Why not another set of strings which are pulled by yet another puppeteer, and after that more string and more puppeteers all the way into infinity?

Maybe the answer to that is when I make my puppet, that's the entire length of the chain. There's me, and there's my puppet, and if I want there to be a puppeteer above me, I have to make him, too. Only instead of using string I attach rods to my limbs, so that he'll stay above me and when I move my body, it'll push my puppeteer's hand into motion as well.

Sometimes I wish there were a puppeteer. It'd make some things a bit simpler and probably more satisfying. But we can't even seem to agree on what kind of puppeteer to make for ourselves, and even that is a little disappointing. When I look at my own wrists and ankles, I don't see string or rods, even if I wish I did. I don't see anything at all, and can be troubling.