Tuesday, January 17, 2012


SOPA is the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act. PIPA is the Protect Intellectual Property Act.

Both of them come to this: "let's censor the internet!"

You know, it's funny how shit really starts to happen when money is involved. The movie and music companies and game companies are really pushing to make sure copyrights are upheld, and to stop any infringement they are will to take away our freedom of speech.

Apparently we as consumers can't be bothered to just stop purchasing their shit. By that I mean stop supporting movies and music and video games. I've stopped buying and even watching movies for the most part, and I don't buy music. I admit to having a bad case of video game fever, and have had it my entire life. But I have at least stopped purchasing the games NEW, pretty much as of this weekend when I found out about SOPA and PIPA.

But what we as consumers can do is protest, at the very least, by taking down our websites on Jan 18th.

Now, I don't have the ability to take blogger.com down, obviously. It's not my website, I just post on it.  But consider this my post my anti SOPA and PIPA post. I support Wikipedia and any other site that will be blacking out tomorrow as a display of how empty the internet would be without freedom.

I encourage others to do the same.

And also, vote with your dollars. These industries are trying to push us around, so let's stop supporting them. Even in small ways, you make a big difference!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Me and Vicki and Molly and Jon drove over to Waldorf and I turned on a podcast for us to listen to. It was fun, even though most no one even understood what the guys were talking about it was mostly enjoyable.

But I noticed something, and 3/4ths of the group agreed with me, so I'm posing it to the internet.

How do you know when you're in love with yourself?  The answer: Bloopers.

Yes, if you are an entertainer and one day you decide that you should include bloopers and outtakes at the end of your show, please don't. It's a sure sign that you think way too highly of yourselves, because the theory is that you're so great that everyone wants to hear even your mistakes. Even your mistakes are good.

As Vicki pointed out, there are exceptions. Sometimes bloopers are genuinely funny. Sometimes bloopers are demanded, because people just love the show that much and want more material than they can pump out.  But usually, I'd say 97% of the time, bloopers and outtakes are but a love poem from the artist to the artist. And I'd go as far as to say that it's embarrassing to everyone but the artist. When the bloopers on this particular podcast played, an awkward expectancy fell over the car like we all expected one another to laugh or comment about how great the show was. Just to break the ice, I commented that the bloopers were laaaame and wouldn't you know, no one disagreed.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I hate Microsoft for oh so many reasons, but the latest one is the sheer stupidity of ExFAT.

If you're like me, you probably have never heard of ExFAT but I had a chance encounter with it the other day when a friend brought over a USB thumbdrive with some files on it. I popped it into my computer only to find that the drive couldn't be recognized. OK, fair enough, USB thumbdrives are quirky sometimes. So my friend plugs it into his laptop and it wouldn't recognize it. And yet his work computer used the thumbdrive just fine.

Here's what we discovered after about an hour of research:

Microsoft has invented a new format for thumbdrives and has patented it, so that no one else can use it without paying them a fee.

That goes against every bit of logic and every good technological trend of the modern enlightened world. Think about what thumbdrive is. It's a convenient and easy way for you to take your files from one computer to another, so the ideal format would be open and free so that no matter what computer you put your thumbdrive into, the files can be read. But no, instead Microsoft patents the format and charges money for other companies to use it.

Imagine if the internet worked like that. You went to a website to get some information but the website patented all the way the data was conveyed. It looks like gibberish to you unless the manufacturer of your computer has paid a licensing fee. Or email!  Let's say you email yourself a file. Unfortunately, you have a Yahoo account and your friend has Gmail, and the two don't talk to one another.

I'd be fine if Microsoft would patent their website so that no one could get onto it. But you know they'd never do that, since they want people to go to their site and learn about them (or at least how they market themselves).

My point is that Microsoft is fine with using open standards when it benefits them, and very intentionally closes technology when it also benefits them. This means that they have ensured that anyone who wants to read their thumbdrives must somehow pay a fee.

My friend's laptop is a Macbook. He hadn't updated in a while so it was running Snow Leopard, but not the right version. That's why it wasn't reading the data. I have an HP laptop with Fedora Linux on it. Linux isn't owned by a company so cannot afford to pay Microsoft's extortion fee, so I'll probably never get to read data from an ExFAT drive. My friend ran Software Update and got to a version where his computer would see the data, and then we did some fancy networking tricks to send the data from his Mac to my Fedora laptop, but that's just not why thumbdrives were invented.

So the thing to do is, if you buy a thumbdrive, immediately format it to something you know you and your friends can actually use. Unfortunately, the most universal (only because it's so old and arcane that no one cares about it anymore) is Microsoft's FAT format.

On a Mac, go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility and choose to Erase the thumbdrive. Set the format as FAT if you intend to share data with Linux or PC's.  If you're only going to be around other Macs, you can format it as HFS+ Journaled Case-Sensitive. Don't ask me what all of that means, just trust me.

On Fedora Linux, open up Disk Utility and erase the thumbdrive, choose FAT as the filesystem format. If you're only going to be sharing files with Linux then you can do EXT2 but I find this is rarely the case, for the same reason that I wouldn't advise ExFAT. Thumbdrives are meant to be shared. That's one of the primary reasons we buy them.

Good luck. And don't encourage Microsoft, please. Do not use ExFAT, and do not accept their extortionist ways. And shame on Apple for paying their licensing fee.

Friday, January 6, 2012

RAGE (Video Game)

I've had Rage for about a week now. I was never a fan of Quake and haven't tried Doom much, so I wasn't sure what to expect from Rage. All I knew was that it was a first person shooter with driving sequences, and it was set in a post-apocalyptic world.

Let me begin by saying that if I could buy Rage again, I would. Actually, I'm going to do just that because my current copy is a used copy I picked up from Gamestop and I'm literally going back today to trade in the used copy and buy a New copy just because I want the whole package.

This is one great game. Borderlands, obviously, is the best possible game ever. There will never be another Borderlands. But until Borderlands 2 arrives (assuming it will be any good anyway), Rage is where it's at. Aside from just replaying Borderlands, of course (and there's nothing wrong with that)!

If you can imagine Borderlands and Fallout 3 merging, then you'll have some idea of what Rage is like. You start out as a relic from the past who's just awakened and emerged, I think, from a Vault. You get rescued from bandits by John Goodman and taken back to his little slice of civilization, where he puts you to work. So you go on quests, and mostly they're Fallout3 type of quests. Errands and odd jobs that not only give you experience but lead you into new realms of the world. Eventually, you work your way out of that town and move on to bigger and better places.

There are lots of side-quests, so if you take on a lot of those then you can start to fool yourself into thinking it's an open world game. You find new weapons, you can craft new weapons and tools, and earn different prizes and rewards.

So far it sounds like every other post-apocalyptic first person shooter. But now mix in a little Mad Max. Yes, there is really fun driving action in this game with vehicles you can mod and drive around and raise all kinds of hell.  I was very resistant to it at first, and it was introduced early on in the game. I didn't start to love the racing element until I got to the actual Racetrack in Wellspring; then it gets fun. No, it gets addicting.

The races feel like a mix between a podrace, grand theft auto, and mario cart. It's just plain fun. The very first time you fail in a race, you'll be hooked because you will want to do better. And then better. And then better. And then you realize you're collecting racing certs, and racing certs buy you vehicle mods. And vehicle mods let you frag the bad guys.

Oh yes, this game does fragging right.

The one thing this game doesn't do right is audio atmosphere. The visuals are stunning, the action is fun fun fun, but the audio is plain embarrassing. John Goodman is great, and I wish he were in more of the game, because everyone else is just reading their lines. The mutant voices, which should be haunting my nightmares every night, are laughable instead. There's no sense of character to anyone, no personality, nothing unique. Even the character design itself is pretty drab, like Id raided Railroad Tycoon.

The soundtrack is so unoriginal that I can't even remember for sure that there is music. I'm pretty sure there is, but I don't remember it. And all I listen to lately are video game soundtracks. When you have Skyrim and Borderlands and Dead Island soundtracks, the generic hard rock of Rage is not just boring, it's actually a little upsetting...in all the wrong ways.

But hey, as I said, the game itself, aside from unremarkable voice acting and music and soundscape, is really good. I'm not a fan of first person shooters, usually. But there are exceptions, and this is one of them. If you haven't tried Rage yet, and you liked Borderlands and/or Fallout3 and New Vegas, then pick this one up.  I have a used copy if you're interested ;-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pleased to meet you

My old blog got old, so I've started a new one! This time on the very popular Blogspot, so hi to everyone both new and old. And by that I do mean new and old to my blog.

A little introduction, perhaps?

Okay but you asked for it! I am a modernist, a gamer, maybe a little bit of a nerd because I admit to loving computers and science fiction and fantasy and weather systems and the space program and all that stuff that normal people just don't think about. I'm also a *not-post* feminist and a socialist/communist. I'm a sometimes-musician (bass), sometimes-groupie, mostly manic, and yes, I wear a lot of black, and a lot of pink.

As bizarre as it may seem, that, my friends, is what came to mind when I thought that I should introduce myself. Why do we describe ourselves in these terms, highlighting certain points and leaving out other things?

I don't know! who knows? maybe during the course of this humble weblog, we will figure that out.