Saturday, November 16, 2013

Remembering Sex

This is another grown-up post. You've been warned.

I wrote in an earlier post that I was not averse to some sex play with my boyfriend, and that the more we played sexually, the less sex was a problem in our relationship. I've gotten a lot of questions about this and a lot of people were really imaginative in what they thought I was talking about. Many of them were way too imaginative. So I have learned that if you are on the internet, talking about sex, you have to be very clear or else your point just gets lost.

So here is what I mean when I talk about a healthy sexual relationship that does not require constant sex.

Sometimes when my boyfriend and I are at home, I put a male chastity device on his genitals. The chastity devices can be purchase at local sex shops or you can buy them online. We started out with one that he bought for himself online, and when he discovered he enjoyed it so much, he started to realize that the one he had chosen was not necessarily the best, because when he was soft and was wearing it for two days at a time, it would start to slip off and he'd have to readjust it. In other words, it seems that some chastity devices are designed for short term use, and others are designed for serious long term use.The short term ones, from what he tells me, are "pleasantly uncomfortable" but then they start to pinch or rub him the wrong way after 12 hours of use. The long term ones are a little less exciting in how they feel at first, but they are obviously actually designed for long term use.

The short term one that he first tried was called the bird cage (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) from extremerestraints.com. It was good, and he liked the heaviness of it, and the feeling of cold hard steel was a real turn on for him and me, but since the only point of attachment is at the top, it tended to slip around after a while.

When we started chastity play, he would either put himself into chastity or he would have to tell me outright to put him in chastity. EIther way, he would give me the key to the chastity device and it was up to me when he got released. At first, he would be in his chastity device for just an evening, then we tried it all day, and then later for three or four days at a time.

After the three day chastity stints we invested in another device, the CB3000, which he likes better for long term use because it stays in place better and doesn't pinch. Your mileage may vary, but that's what he and I have found.

It took me a very long time to understand why this was satisfying for him. But ironically, he has told me that being locked up by me is, to him, like having sex all day long. I never understood that at first, because locking him up so that not only does he not have access to his own penis but cannot even achieve a full erection when he is excited, seems like it would be the most opposite thing in the world to having sex. But for him, the excitement of feeling locked up like that and knowing that I and I alone can free him, is apparently wildly exciting.

I'm just gonna take his word for it.

So anyway, the point is we discovered that chastity devices for him are sexually satisfying. Moreso, in many ways, than having sex multiple times a day every day, because it just so happens that I am not going to have sex that much with him. It's not that I don't love him and am not excited by him, it's just my brain and body don't work that way.

SO instead of having sex with him, I lock him up. It keeps him happy, and I'm happy knowing that he's happy.

The one burden I have in all of this is remembering to lock him up. We found that it was vitally important for me to initiate locking him up some times. He used to always lock himself up, and I was more comfortable with that because I assumed that he knew when he wanted to be locked up better than I did.

That was wrong.

The answer is he always wants to be locked up. I could do no wrong.

So I would remind myself every three or four days to put him back into chastity. Three days in, three days out (more or less), and it worked!  He loves it. He's kept happy and blissfully sexually frustrated. But I have to remember. Even on days when I am not feeling sexy or sexual, I will make sure I either ask him about his chastity device (how does it feel? do you still enjoy it? aren't you just dying to get out? let's lock you up because you've been out of it for three days. don't enjoy your freedom too much because i'm locking you up in two days...  and so on.) or whatever is appropriate.

This all leads me to the conclusion that a big part of sexual problems in relationships is not necessarily the amount of sex or even the quality of sex. It's the lack of sexual engagement. The lack of sexual engagement is what causes the problems. One partner, usually the man I would bet, wants to think and talk and obsess about sex and one partner simply fails to acknowledge that sex is a thing. She thinks that they have great sex and that they have lots of sex but what she fails to realize is that the man is never satisfied. So problems arise.

But I think that men don't care what kind of sexual engagement they have as long as it's sexual and frequent. You don't have to have sex every day for the man to be happy. You just have to engage the sexual part of his brain in a way that satisfies him. For some men that might be something simple like telling him he's handome and that he turns you on. For other men, it might be locking him up in a chastity device for half the week and making him go crazy over whether he's going to get to cum at the end of it, or if he's going to have to wait another week. For other men it might be something different.

For my man, I lock him up in his chastity device, and sometimes (once or twice a week usually) when we're home together I tell him to leave his clothes at the door. I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's a little strange to look over at my guy and see him naked with a plastic sheath over his penis. But then again, it's pretty damn cute, too. I love this guy, and it makes me sublimely happy to see him happy. And if that's what it takes to keep him happy, then that's what I'll do.

At first I was a little worried about what he could and could not do in chastity, but it turns out that he is completely unhindered by it. He can lift heavy things and run and do all the normal activities that he ever does. It's no big deal at all. He has not once asked to be let out of chastity, except when he's getting horny and wants to be let out because he wants some action. Those are fun moments, because I can choose to let him out. Or not. It's up to me. And either way, he has no recourse. He can't argue. There IS no pressure on the woman when the man is locked up. It's a BIG change from relationships where the woman is complaining that the man is too sexually aggressive or the man is yelling at the woman because she never gives him any action.

The funny thing about it is that ultimately the woman is always in charge of the sexual interaction of a couple anyway. Even in the cases where a woman likes to be swept off her feet by her man, she always only wants that when she wants it. I don't know any woman who actually wants her man to just come in a start fucking her, even when she thinks she does. So the woman is always the one in control of sexual ... access, shall we say? The only difference is, when the man's in chastity they both know that she's in control.

And I think, ultimately, that's what turns the man on so much.

If you are interested in this kind of relationship, you should definitely try it. It has changed my relationship for the better (not that it was bad in the first place, but it has been with other men in the past) and I know my man is happier for it.

I'm no expert on the subject so I don't know the best way to breach the topic. My boyfriend actually bought himself his first chastity device and said he wanted to try it, so I didn't have to break the ice on that. I had to perpetuate it, but that's relatively easy.

If you think your boyfriend would be interested in trying it, you can buy him a chastity device for his birthday or christmas. Believe me, he will probably be more excited about it than you would have guessed. Obviously use your common sense. Your man might be one of those alpha male meat heads who will be insulted by such a gift (although there again, you just might be surprised) so only try it if you know a little something about your man's willingness to try new things, and who is secure in his own masculinity enough to have it taken away from him!

You Lost Me, Sony

Playstation is the console of my childhood. It was the console I grew up with, and so it was the console I got as an adult. It has served me well as an easy, inexpensive platform for gaming. But it hit its peak early in the PS3 life-cycle, and is basically dead to me now.

According o reports, the PS4 is not going to allow users to play CDs, DVDs, or Blu Rays because Sony wants people to have to use their music and  movie digital-download stores. The PS4 isn't going to allow streaming media like it used to, so even though you have this computer console plugged into your TV, it's useless to you as a home entertainment console.

Well, Sony, you have fucking lost me. You and your silly restrictions were looking pretty good back when my only other choices were XBox or Wii. But Steam Machines are here now, and I'll be damned if I don't build a custom gaming and multimedia computer, install SteamOS onto it, and have a home entertainment system that will put consumer consoles to shame. With that, an Ouya, and a Roku, I can't imagine wanting for anything.

So thanks for the memories, Sony, and sorry you are such a god awful company. Enjoy your next gen failure.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MORE STEAM

So exciting!!! And so funny.

The exciting steamnews is the new Steam controller. It looks really cool, and like a very safe bet between a totally traditional controller with some new features. By "traditional controller" I mean more like a PS or Xbox controller than a Nintendo Wii Wand or Tablet. Thank God. And yet, it does have a touch screen on it, and it does use a lot of tactile interaction. So just how traditional is it?

Exactly my point.

I am not in the mood for a reinvention of the controller. Nintendo's latest offerings have partially been to blame for my alienation from NIntendo (the other part is their really bad game offerings). I don't know how many serious gamers feel the need for a reinvention of the controller. I wouldn't call this sanctimony or traditionalism, I just think that controller design that we've all been living with for the past 10 or 15 years really really works. Well. Very well.

And yet you still have die-hard PC gamers who insist that the only way to game is one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard. So even the controller isn't fully integrated within the gaming community! So why try to reinvent it?

The funny steamnews is not about Steam but about some of the reactions online. Mostly I've only seen positive reactions. I mean, what gamer in their right mind would not be excited about the Steam Machine? I know of no one, but then there's the internet.

Here are two particularly asinine comments.

Why do we need another OS?

 Well, first of all, this isn't technically "another" OS. It's the same old boring Linux OS that you didn't even realize existed until SteamOS was announced. Which leads me to my second point: you have not been living in a two-OS world. Open your eyes, see the Matrix for what it is, and you will start to understand.

At this point, any "technological" device in this world has an OS of some kind. It might not be what you think of as an OS, but the fact that the device turns on and performs some task generally means there's an OS inside of it. WIthout an OS, you are the operating system. Very few tech devices now use mechanics for much of anything, sadly. At one point, microwaves were largely mechanical; you turned on the timer, started it, the timer triggered the switches for the plate to rotate and the heating element (or nuclear core or whatever it's called)  to turn on, and so on. But now almost all of them are controlled by a little chip with a tiny little OS on it. Your phone, of course, has its own OS. It might be branded by some other company, but really it's a very different OS than anything else that company makes for other devices. Computers have operating systems, but there are far more than just Windows and OS X; believe it or not, the internet runs on Linux and BSD, OS/2 is still alive and kicking in some indutries, there are still instances of BeOS and its open source reimplementation Haiku,


 and "Valve is taking advantage of gamers by offering a console that is just a custom built PC".

No fucking duh, internet.

Steam in December??

The internet says that Steam Machines will be for sale on December 19th. On one hand, I find that hard to believe. It just seems too soon. On the other hand, Sony and Xbox are obviously going on sale for Christmas, so why wouldn't Valve? But then again, does Valve want to go head-to-head with Sony and XBox's next gen consoles or do they want to wait until the Christmas craze has died down and then slip Steam Machines into people's living rooms once the hubbub has died down?

I don't know, the internet doesn't know, only Valve knows. So we will all have to wait and see.

One thing I do know, is that the Steam Machine is absolutely MY console of choice. Yes, I'm walking away from Playstation.

I was not 100% decided on this idea when the Steam Machine was announced. I knew I wanted one, but I wasn't sure I wanted only a Steam Machine. But the more I hear about Playstation's refusal to play CDs, DVDs, or stream media, or register games, the less and less I want to support it.

Don't get me wrong, I am not under the illusion that Steam and Valve are going to be wonderful open source magic. I know completely what I'm getting into. I use Steam, I know that it is a beast all its own. But at least it's a reasonable beast, and so far it has treated me like a valued customer, not like a criminal, which is what Playstation and Xbox both do. It's like everyone who buys a game for a Playstation or XBox is basically a suspected crook, guilty until proven innocent. It makes me feel dirty.

At least Steam deals with you like a customer. You sign in, you pay your money, you play your game.

Get over yourself, gaming industry. We love you, but you don't own us.

So I'm going to Steam and Ouya, I'm totally decided, and I'm totally excited.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Valve is Serious

If you run an amazingly popular gaming company and decide one day to switch your entire operation over to Linux, you get invited to be the keynote speaker at LinuxCon, the world's premier Linux conference. And yippers, Gabe from Valve was a speaker at Linux Con, and said “Linux and open source are the future of gaming.”

This is kind of an obvious statement for him to make, given that Valve just announced that they are going whole hog into Linux. What else is he going to say? That they're kinda sorta interested in Linux and it might be okay? But still, it's encouraging to hear Gabe put his mouth where his money is, and affirm publically that he really believes in Linux. That is exciting.

I have been surprised and alarmed at Carmack's latest public announcements of just the opposite. I know he got burned, I guess, by the Linux market in the past but Steam's business model is drastically different than ID Software's model back when both 3d gaming and Linux were both just starting out. I don't see why Carmack has to publically express such doubt about Steam OS and Valve's venture into Linux. At first I thought it was because his company and Steam were competitors, but then I realized that they really aren't. After all, Steam is primarily a distribution platform and Valve's forays into games are relatively few. If Carmack is threatened by Valve, he shouldn't be, and he should be a little more open to the idea of Linux as a gaming platform. Especially since PS4 is going BSD. It just doesn't make sense to doubt Linux's ability as a thing that people could use to play games on top of. Between Android and Ouya, I think Linux has proven its ability at this point.

Go, Gabe! Go Steam!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Charging Money for Work

Here's a quick note to my fellow geeks out there. I wrote a little about this in my post "Being a Geek and Looking the Part" but that was a while ago and i never really followed up on it. So here's the follow up.

I decided long ago that I was going to stop giving away my computer expert services. I don't really think I'm an expert, but compared to others, oh my God..I am a goddess. I can resurrect "dead" computers, I can bring data back from Hades. Yes, I am that good.

I know, I know, any geek can do those things. Here on the internet it seems simple. But the minute I step out of my apartment, I suddenly really am that good.

I used to give out computer help because, ya know, I'm a nice person! I like to help people. When I rescue someone's wedding photos, I feel happy because they are happy, and they say nice things to me. Sometimes they offer to pay.

And sometimes they don't.

I tried not helping people with computer problems for a few reasons. Number one, I need money like everyone else. Number two, I'm sick and fuckin' tired of helping jackasses remove malware from their PCs, and helping artistic jackasses recover their broken or corrupt project files from whatever Mac application they made the mistake of investing in. Number three, I have better things to do than be a wandering vigilante for computer health.

At first, it didn't really work out. I do not want to be a mean person or an uncaring person, so I would always, eventually, cave. People would beg, and then I'd help them. Then I realized that people associate my computer help as being a part of who I am. I'm Samantha. I help people with computers.

No no no no no no. That's no who I am. That's my JOB.

And that's all it took. The minute I started saying that it was my j-o-b to help people with computer problems, hardly anybody approached me for free computer help. Admittedly, a few family members and close friends still did (some still do. hi, mom and dad!) but mostly, once I started really pushing the idea that I was a Professional computer person (usually saying "like the geek squad" would help. I try to avoid likening myself to the "genius bar" because  of the negative connotations most people have for the "geniuses" at the Apple Stores), people just stopped assuming that it was OK to ask me for free help.

To really drive it home, I printed up some business cards (I think it was ten dollars online) with my name and a short list of all the problems I can solve, like dead computers, setting up a network, data rescue, malware removal, yadda yadda yadda...  Printed up those cards, handed them out to people when they looked like they needed it, and especially handed them to people who dared talk to me about their computer problems. I did that as a preventative measure. Give them the professional business card before they could ask me for a friendly helping hand.

And so far it has worked out pretty well. I have not actually gotten that many jobs just from not helping people and handing them a business card. That has, however, stopped me from taking non-paying work that eats up a lot of my time and effort. What I have gotten a lot of paying work from are the usual ads posted on community boards, craigslist, bulletin boards at local schools, and word of mouth.

Those for-free jobs are great for experience. But you start noticing something about those jobs. It's always the same. You're a good enough geek to know how to rescue their ass when malware is chewing up their data, but somehow once it's all rescued and cleaned, I'm just a dumb nerd who can't stop talking about how Firefox is better than IE, how bad links lead to malware, and how Linux would be a lot easier to support.

So here's my philosophy. If you're only going to listen to a third of what I say, and only up until your problem is solved, then you get to pay for everything I do. Period. I would say that was pretty fair.

Hey, I saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck a long time ago. It said "Yes this is my pickup. No I will not help you move."

 I thought it seemed rude at the time.  I don't think that any more.

Next Gen or No Gen?

I have been a Playstation gal for as long as I have played games, mostly because it was better than the NES systems and it wasn't Microsoft. That being said, I have no special allegiance to Sony itself, or even to the Playstation as a platform.

Lately, a lot of interesting new possibilities have been arising on the horizon. The two that have caught my attention are both, coincidentally, pretty damn portable. And, also coincidentally, based on fvcking Linux, which is pretty freakin' awesome since Linux is my platform of choice for everything and it is the one platform (I would say "company" except it's not a company) that I do have a special allegiance to.

Ouya

When I first heard about the Ouya console, I was, to be honest, not impressed. I never saw Android as a gaming platform and I'd never seen a proper immersive RPG or FPS or anything available for Android. All the games for Android tend(ed) to be aimed at the time-killer market. Games on mobile operating systems are always very very aware that they have to be games that people can drop in and out of at any time, and they are careful never to have long sections of gameplay where interruption would be damaging to your success. This means short and simple storylines, short and simple tasks or quests, few or very brief cut scenes. They are also all built for mobile platforms, so the control scheme is usually horrible, since they have to allow for the idea that people are poking and stroking the touchscreens of their phones and do not have the luxury of having multiple buttons or even a good d-pad.

I looked at the game listing for Ouya recently, though, and it really has boosted my interest. Obviously I have not actually played any of the games that are listed as Ouya titles because I do not (yet?) own an Ouya, but the list looks very promising! Titles like Bard's Tale, Ravensword, Final Fantasy 3 (yes, that Final Fantasy), Legends of Aethereus, and a hell of a lot more, I can actually see the Ouya as being at least a semi-serious console. Almost a cross between a casual gamer's console like the Wii (yeah you heard me) and a "real" console. PLUS it has the obligatory media center tools like XBMC, Plex, and even VLC.

At $100, I don't really see a good reason not to get it. At worse, it would be a casual gaming box that sits next to my monitor that gets used for light gaming, media streaming. But that's not all!  It's also a tiny little cube that I could literally throw into my bag when I'm going over to a friend's place or to visit my parents, or whatever.

SteamBox

I don't think Ouya is prepped to be my only gaming console, at least not any time soon. But what is poised to be that for me is Valve's Steam console. I'd buy one of those at pretty much any cost (I mean any competitive cost compared to the PS4) in part because I love the idea of Steam, and in part just to get more Linux into my home!

Steam as a platform is great because it is portable. I can play a game on my SteamBox, or if I'm out with just a laptop, I could play the game on that. That's leveraging a cloud in a way I can actually live with.

Steam as a platform on Linux is just too amazing to even describe. So, yes, I want SteamOS, I want SteamBox, I want it all. Give it to me, Gabe!

Next Gen or No Gen?

I can't say I'm ready to give up the idea of the next generation of consoles. PS4 looks amazing and the games are looking beautiful and exciting. But let me put it this way...if SteamOS/Box starts getting most of the AAA titles that PS4 and Xbox are getting, and Ouya keeps getting more serious about gaming, I don't see why I would want to bother with a PS4.

And hey, if all of that fails, at least I can still get a PS4 and be happy knowing it is running BSD underneath!


Seige Continues

Update on my Dungeon Seige III experience! The more I play, the more involved in the story I become, which is good, since that is one of the main reasons I play RPG and RPG-like games.

I said in an earlier post that I felt the fighting was not quite as strategic and realtime as I would like...

...and then I fought Rajani.

The Rajani bossfight actually changed a lot for me. First of all, the fighting became very very obviously strategic. To get through that fight, you have to dodge. You have to attack at the right moments (as you usually do, with bosses), you have to heal your companion and be healed by your companion (basically, tag-team ressurection because you WILL die...a few times), you have to gain health by blocking attacks. This was NOT a button-mashing fight like most of the other fights have been.

The story, up until the Rajani battle, felt mostly pre-determined, like Amalur rather than Dragons Age for example. I never felt that a choice I made actually altered the outcome of the later story. But when I defeated Rajani, I did have to make the choice of what to do with her. I could kill her, I could set her free, or I could set her free with a message for Jayne Kassinder. I cannot be sure that it changed the outcome of the story yet but it felt like I hadn't seen the last of Rajani, and it felt that since I let her go, she might possibly return as an ally.

Very much enjoying Dungeon Seige III, obviously!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Seige Begins

I've been playing Dundeon Seige III for a few days now. So far, I'm very pleased with it. It scratches the RPG itch and is a pretty good game.

I don't love the fighting mechanic. It's not as real-time/interactive as something like Borderlands or Kingdoms of Amalur, and yet it's not as strategic and tactical as Dragon's Age or Fallout 3. It tries to be real-time, but it boils down to just aimlessly pressing the FIRE button and letting the AI make sure that your projectile finds a target. There is some strategy, because you can dodge and block and do intelligent fighting and whatnot. Still, I think I would have preferred if they chose one extreme or the other. But this is a minor gripe and it's not taking away from the enjoyment of the game.

I really like the story and lore that they are building up in the world. I'm definitely hooked, and I mostly get hooked on the story of games. The music is really nice and I wish I could find a soundtrack.

I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for a good RPG experience. Don't expect Dragon's Age, but expect something pretty close to it!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Video Game Characters

When I first heard that Borderlands 2 was coming out, I was afraid that they would spoil the awesome legacy that is Borderlands. I bought the game anyway, and found that it was actually fairly true to Borderlands. There is a painful amount of hipster humor that is very very jarring in the context of the far off world of Pandora, but otherwise the game is pretty true to its origins.

The part that they did get wrong is the playable characters. Mordecai, Lilith, Roland, and Brick were great characters. Literally each one of them was a blast to play. This time around, we have Zero, Salvador, Somebody, and Somebody. In all the interviews and pre-release noise, everyone was saying that if you liked Mordecai, then you should play as Zero. If you liked Lilith, then you should play as what's her name. And so on.

They could not have been more wrong.

I started playing Zero and at first I loathed him. But I thought that maybe I was just missing Mordecai, so I continued through a few level-ups. Still hated him. Finally, two-thirds through the game, I realized that I hated Zero because he's nothing like Mordecai, and that was the playing experience I was really looking for. He might be tall and thin, but that's where the similarities end.

Mordecai's special attack was a long-range falcon who would fly out and tear opponents' eyes out of their sockets, leaving only loot behind. Zero's ability is to project an image of himself to distract his enemies for five seconds, during which Zero cannot actually fight or else he will give his location away. Um, yeah.

The siren characters are nothing alike, either. The new siren suspends enemies in a shield for a few seconds. Lilith? she phase walked, inflicting damage to everyone in her way.

The new abilities inflict no damage. That makes them pretty useless and not really much fun to use.

Now I'm playing as Salvador. So far, I am liking him a lot more than I'd have thought. I don't consider myself a gun nut, but as far as playability, he seems to be the best character.

This issue doesn't really limit itself to Borderlands. I think a lot of games suffer, through no fault of their own, from our own preconceptions of what character types there are. In Borderlands' case, we all had existing expectations of what the tall-thin character would play like,what the siren would play like, what the big-burly dude would do, and so on. But they tricked us, and made Salvador the Mordecai of B2, the soldier the soldier, and, well, they just screwed us over with Zero and Mira or whatever her name is.

I've heard this said before, though, and I am going to echo it here: games should use the Kingdoms of Amalor model, where you can change your mind at any point during the game! It's not like it costs the game programmers to let the players do this, so why not? I just started Dungeon Seige III, and as usual I was presented with a choice in characters. I chose the long-range character because it sounded like that was the gameplay style I enjoy. I start the game and realize that there's no WAY in DS3 to stay out of the fray. Long range fighting with pistols and rifles is ridiculous. You're in battle where people are beating you with swords and all you can do is rapid fire from your pistols, and it takes 8 hits to take someone down. So I switched to a fighter character and am having a lot more fun, but it meant that I had to start back at the beginning, and that's dumb.

Next Gen, PLEASE. Let us switch classes!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lynda dot com is a waste of time and money

I had heard of lynda.com for a while, and always meant to try it out. I did not have a pressing need for it, so I never did...until now.

Yes, I signed up for lynda.com and started watching some videos, and in short, I was extremely extremely disappointed. If you are a video site, you are automatically competing with a few very famous other video sites, like youtube.com and The Entire Fracking INTERNET. I can see that lynda.com could be filling a niche, because generally speaking, here is my experience online when trying to learn something new:

  1. Declare to myself that I want to learn something new.
  2. Do a Google search for lessons on that topic.
  3. Find a zillion links to tutorials on the topic.
  4. Waste three days watching videos that are poorly made or that are made by people who should not be trying to teach anyone anything ever, or that are great but WAY too advanced for me yet.
  5. Finally find some good starter videos.
  6. Watch the starter videos.
  7. Watch some intermediate videos.
  8. Watch advanced videos.
  9. Profit!
You would think that if you were going to pay for videos online that the THING YOU ARE BUYING is a process that looks like this:

  1. Pay the big bucks.
  2. Log in.
  3. Have your hand held, step-by-step, through beginner courses, into intermediate, into advanced.
  4. Profit!
 Let it suffice to say that this was NOT my experience on lynda.com.

When I logged into lynda.com after eagerly throwing my money at them, instead of finding the magical educational wonderland that I expected, I found....well, I found problems. Here is what I think the issues are:

  • There is no structure to the lessons. You click on a subject that you'd like to learn and they just throw a bunch of videos at you. No indication of where to start and no sense of actually working your way through lessons. They are just random videos on random subjects. For instance, I thought it might be neat to learn Blender. There are five or six videos on Blender, none of them appear to be related to the other, and mostly they are just overviews of specific topics within Blender without any higher level explanation of how they fit together.
  • It's little more than an advertisement site for paid software. The first few pages you wade through are littered with, basically, videos that just advertise the new features in paid software. As if  Apple and Adobe really need Lynda.com to sell me their software? I am pretty sure I could get ads for Adobe and Apple, oh, everywhere else online, without paying for it.
  • There is a clear bias for paid software.  OK, I should temper this criticism with praise: at least Lynda.com has videos on GIMP, Blender, PHP, Perl, Python, Android development, Java, and so on. But all in all, the bias for paid-for software is pretty obvious and, frankly, unfair. You could argue that Lynda.com is just responding to customer needs, which I would understand if they were actually any good. But the quality of education on Lynda.com is not any good, so I find it hard to believe that they're just responding to customer requests. I'm pretty sure they're just posting whatever they happen to be getting from their video instructors, and that is all. So if you can pay some guy to drone on for six hours about new features in some paid software, you might as well pay someone to do an actually informative video on something free. Yes I know my logic is not logical, but hey, I'm a paying customer now and I want more coverage of free software.
  • Some instructors are not very good. I understand that different people have different teaching styles, but I'm paying for Lynda.com now. I expect instructors to be good at instructing, not just good at the software or programming language they are teaching. So far I have personally spent about six hours watching videos that, in the end, I literally wanted my money back. And you know the universal process of online videos, don't you? The first one you watch, you think it's bad but it's just this one that's bad. The others will be better. Second one you watch is bad, but you think it's just a freak accident that you got two bad videos in a row. The others will be MUCH better. The third and fourth ones are bad and you're starting to get worried. Fifth and sixth are bad, and you're writing angry blogposts. Hey, take it from me. I know.
  • You are competing with free! Youtube.com, Blender.com, pyvideo.org, coursera.com, Standford University Courseware. There are literally dozens of FREE video sites and video training resources online that are, yes, FREE. No one NEEDS to pay for Lynda unless there is a reasonable expectation that Lynda will actually provide something unique and special that other random sites do not.
I have news for you. Lynda.com is not worth it. Do not pay for it. I have canceled my account and will never ever ever go back. I have to assume that they are riding on suckers like me who sign up, stick around long enough to discover that Lynda.com is actually a rip-off, and then leaves. Once they cycle through all of us suckers, Lynda.com will hopefully go away for good.

Lynda.com, if you're reading this, get better instructors, cover more free software for people who see beyond marketing campaigns and actually want to get stuff done, and get organized. Or go away.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Men and Women and Relationships

This is a grown-up post, so if you're not a grown-up, move along.

There's something I have noticed from past relationships and have confirmed with my current, and that is that a smart woman takes control of the sexuality in her relationship. First I'll tell you why, and then I'll tell you how.

In case you haven't heard, men think about sex. A lot. I think I saw somewhere online that they think of sex once every seven minutes, which I would believe, but even if it's not true and an average man thinks about sex once an hour, that's a lot of thinking about sex. I think that on average that's a lot more than women think about it.

I've found that a man is happier when he knows that his woman is also thinking about sex, or that she's thinking about his need for sex. I used to think that a man was happiest when he was having sex, but given how often a man would have sex and given how many hours there are in a day, it's just not practical. In fact, I've tried keeping up with my man's sexual appetite and while it is possible, and it is fun and beautiful, the MINUTE you stop having nonstop sex, your man turns on you. Not willingly, of course, but he gets emotional and doubts that you really love him, and wonders what has gone wrong that you don't have as much sex any more.

The secret solution to all of this is not for the man to have nonstop sex. That's not actually what he wants, even though he might think that it is. What he actually wants is for his woman to acknowledge how often he thinks of sex, and he wants her to acknowledge and validate it as often as he thinks of sex. Every. Single. TIme.

Ladies, this can manifest itself any way you want or need it to. For me, it's been easy, and wildly successful. All I do is force myself to mention something sexual once every other hour or so throughout the day and flash my boyfriend a coy smile. I do have to remind myself to do it because I have a lot more than just sex on my mind all day, unlike, apparently, my darling boy. But it's not difficult, and I have a pretty lewd sense of humor anyways, so I rarely fall short of having something a little naughty to say.

The other thing that I do probably should not be discussed on a blog, but I'll keep it M rated. Let's just say that there have been many days when I know we're not going to have sex, but I know he wants to...because he's a man. And so I just ask him to let me watch him please himself. We've expanded those requests into some other games and, shall we say, "roles", but nothing extreme at all. It's all pretty tame but it gives him the pleasure of having a sexual interaction with me without requiring me to be insincere, or to fake interest or excitement, or what have you.

Obviously the more extreme options would be classic dominatrix-style authority, which I think most men actually do have a fantasy about, but it also requires the woman to be, well, a dominatrix. I can approximate a lightweight dominatrix role play, and me and my boyfriend have a few props, but nothing serious. Anyway, it's fun and that's what relationships should be. But if you're interested in serious dominatrix stuff, mention it to your man and I can almost guarantee he'll take you up on it. I used to wonder how me playing an authority figure would impact the relationship and our "real" sex life because, let's be honest, most women (whether they admit it or not) want a strong man in bed at least some of the time. It has turned out that me and my boyfriend basically accidentally separated the two activities. When I tell him to do what I know he needs to do, and maybe we play a little with traditional roles, that's just that instance. Then later, in the bedroom or whenever, he takes over and it's a different thing entirely. The two can coexist peacefully.

My point, beyond giving you way too much information on my love life, is that if you're a girl and you date a man, then he's probably insecure about his own sex drive. Do him a favor and get it out into the open. Compliment him on it, talk about how sexual and virile he is, talk about how sexy it is to you when he does certain things to himself, blah blah blah. He'll love that stuff, trust me.

Oh, a disclaimer before I leave you to ponder that. I don't date jocks or frat boys or body builders. I'm a geeky girl attracted to geeky guys (well, one particular geeky guy right now, but you know what I mean) so all of my dating and relationship experience is based on observations of geeks. If you're not a geek or are not with a geek, your mileage may vary.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fly From Here

Ever since I can remember, I've had the band Yes in my life. My parents were big fans from way back, so I grew up with all their classic albums, and I've listened to them as an adult and kept tabs on them. I've seen them live on the Ladder tour, and hopefully will see them live again soon.

So far I've never disliked anything they've put out, but oh. my. god. "Fly From Here".

"Fly From Here" is an amazing album. Not just an amazing Yes album, it's an amazing album. People have no idea what they are missing if they don't fracking-love "Fly From Here".

So, first of all, I'm a huge Jon Anderson fan, but I grew up with Yes; I understand that their line-up is malleable, even when it comes to their lead singer. As a kid I admit I used to cringe when "Drama" (Trevor Horn) came on, or when Trevor Rabin would take over on vocals on some songs. But as an adult I recognized the brilliance of each different singer. So hearing Benoit David as the lead here, now, in 2013 (well, 2011 when the album was released) was actually kind of exciting. I wanted to hear what someone else might bring to Yes.

Hell, let's face it, if you're a band that's been around for 40 years, you are bound to get a little stagnant sometimes, or maybe you'll get an identity crisis. Or maybe you just want to mix things up a bit. But for a while I was feeling that Yes wasn't being terribly, well, progressive any more. Not that the term "progressive" really ages well. After all, progressive rock was progressive 40 years ago and now it's just a form of "oldies". And I understand that "progressive" does not and should not mean "sounds like 70s rock". I want the word "progressive" to be a real adjective, not just the name of a bygone genre.

I'm not sure how "progressive" the album "Fly From Here" is, but it's at least progressive for Yes in that they have brought in a new singer, an old producer, and old keyboardist, and they've taken the feel and spirit of an old album (Drama) and reinvented and revitalized it.

Apparently "Fly From Here" is based largely on a demo track by the Buggles, so it's very pure in its 1980s sound and sensibility. And I don't think many people would argue that Trevor Horn as producer is a bad idea; the man has produced some amazing albums in his time, and certainly some of the most amazing Yes albums have featured him in some capacity.

So if you're a Yes fan and have stalled in buying "Fly From Here", you can safely purchase the album. I waited two years to buy it but now that I have, I'm making up for lost time by playing it nonstop for days at a time. It's a good one!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Steam on Linux Beta

I've been using the Steam beta for a few weeks now, and let me just say, it's awesome. This is EXACTLY what we all have wanted, and what Linux needs.

OK let me back up a little. If you're a gamer who also uses Linux, then this is what you need. Linux doesn't need it, but if you want the convenience of playing games on your computer, then it basically does.

I know some Linux users want to take over the desktop market but that doesn't excite me personally. I don't feel the need to be using the same OS as everyone around me, or having everyone use the same OS as I do. But, I do want to be treated like a first class citizen the same way as everyone else. I don't want to go to a store to buy a peripheral and have to do three hours of research to see if something works on my OS. And I know it's not that hard to make it work on other OSes because the kernel development team (of volunteers) do it all the time, without any support from the manufacturers.

The point is that Steam will make Linux a more significant OS to companies, ideally. And that, in addition to being a gamer, is why I support it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Artistic Find

I was listening to one of the tech podcasts I partake of, and the host mentioned a new artist he had found, Ruji. The artist is a "she" and she's into Linux. So I thought I'd check her shit out.

I'll cut to the chase and just say that Ruji is a true indie artist in ways that shock and surprise and delight me. I love that she is a real indie, too, she's not one of those corporate-sponsored indie artists that gets marketed to us while we stand in line at Chipotle or the Apple Store. In ten years, I guarantee you we're all going to look back at some our most beloved indie celebrities and see nothing but Monkees.

Not Ruji though! She's got it all: talent, brains, wit, and rugged individualism. She's definitely not a cookie-cutter artist or geek. She strikes me as someone who truly walks her own path, putting out what ever kind of art she damn well pleases. I wonder how someone gets to be so fearless and confident? and then I also imagine that probably she's really not, in real life, at least not all the time.

Art is funny, and Ruji made me think about that a lot. And she made me think about a lot of other things. And any artist who can tear me away from games and computers long enough to ponder life gets high marks.

Her site is http://rujic.net

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ubuntu Phones, My Brain Just Asploded

I love my Android phone. It does everything I need, and more. Until today, I'd have said you wouldn't be able to pry it out of my hands for anything. And then I saw the announcement: Ubuntu Linux is comming to phones.

I don't mean a dumbed down version of Ubuntu, and it's not some phone hack that a kid in his mother's basement created (although to be fair, those kids in their mother's basement have made some fracking COOL stuff for me in the past, so no disrespect!). This is a full Linux distribution on a phone.

The interface will be a phone interface, so it will look and feel and act like what we all pretty much expect from smart phones now. So, what's the big deal?

Well, imagine this. You're out at school or work, you're using your phone for chatting and texting and internet stuff, maybe for a phone call here and there, and then you get home. You take your phone out of your pocket, and you put it on your desk, and plug it into your monitor. A full desktop comes up on your monitor. You turn on your bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and suddenly - you're using a DESKTOP...off of your phone. And you don't have to sync your files to your desktop - what is that anyway? Whose idea was it to sync your phone to your desktoo? Not on Ubuntu Phones you don't, because all of your files are already there! And all of your apps are there. And since it's a full Ubuntu install, you can install more applications that you might want to use on a desktop but not on a phone (like an office suite or a paint program).

This isn't just cool, it's AMAZING. It is everything I've ever dreamed for, except..more because I didn't even have a concept that this was possible. I am so excited right now.

WILL BUY!