Thursday, December 18, 2014

My review of Player Select

Egoraptor and Ninja Sex Party came together once again for their second Rap Album. Starbomb, as the group is called, raps about video game characters, most often taking the perspective of characters from many popular video games. Their first album came out around this time last year, and on the 16th their second album Player Select was birthed into the world.

My short review: it's better than their first, and a truly impressive feat.

A Sober Young Man

I have chosen not to drink alcohol recreationally. I have never had alcohol, aside from a sip or two to see what it tastes like (really, very bad.) I have never been drunk, and I never ever plan on changing that. I have my reasons why, but here isn't where I'll explain them. I want to talk about what it's like to be a sober young person.

It's very lonely.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Six years and counting

Take it in, I'll wait
When I was 18, a friend of mine told me how big of a pain it was to remove and rearrange all of the keys on his keyboard so that he could learn Dvorak. Now it was more annoying because he was moving them again to learn Colemak. As far as I know, he never learned either, but the topic was so interesting to me. I spent a week learning about these layouts, and what they mean and how I could use them. I started to learn Colemak and never looked back. I went from 60-70 words-per-minute to 10.

The sacrifice of time was worth it.

There is a common myth that QWERTY, the layout just about everyone in North America uses, was made to slow down fast typists, but fast typists didn't really exist at the time. There were no known or well taught typing techniques, and touch typing wasn't even an idea yet. Plenty of people today prove that QWERTY isn't a slow man's layout. QWERTY was invented in a time of necessity. Early typewriters jammed easily. QWERTY didn't eliminate this problem, but jamming was greatly alleviated. Dvorak's layout came many years later.

In 1936, Augustus Dvorak introduced his collaborated simplified keyboard layout, simply known as Dvorak today. Fifty years before, such a layout was unthinkable. Frequently used keys are too close together, increasing the risk of typewriter levers and hammers running into each other and causing frequent jams. Technology solved this in ways that QWERTY never could and Dvorak decided that then was the time for change. Dvorak, and the German army, claimed that the layout was easier to learn, produced faster typists, and solved ergonomic issues. Bold claims, made on shaky ground, but the ergonomic advantage is hard to argue against.

Dvorak did his own studies, which were monitored by the German Army. Augustus Dvorak was in the German Army. These few facts, as well as the little documentation of the studies, bring to light suspicion of Dvorak. There have only been a few studies, and they've all claimed different things. One by the US Government claimed that Dvorak took longer to learn, and typists were at higher speeds sooner on QWERTY. This study is probably what kept Dvorak from hitting the mainstream. Both studies lack any rigor, and many claims on either side are somewhat unsubstantiated.

I'll stand that Dvorak is better from an ergonomic perspective, but it is very sophomoric in its approach. Today, Dvorak doesn't hold a candle to modern layouts like Workman, Colemak, Norman, Asset, or just about anything else. Dvorak was made for a typewriter. Colemak is made for computers. Most newer layouts take after Colemak, preserving some of QWERTY's layout, and keeping ZXCV in the same place, for easy shortcuts, even though they have better placements.

The advantages of these layouts are many, but they're all very hard to explain, and some are even hard to conceptualize. Even their flaws are hard to understand. Today, like 80 years ago, there is no good study or rigor of testing. There is also no by-the-numbers solution to a keyboard layout. The deeper we dig into ergonomics, the more assumptions we make about what's best and how to make things more efficient. Many even argue that there really isn't anything wrong with QWERTY, but we know those people are wrong.


Monday, September 29, 2014

My Cover Letter To Rock Paper Shotgun

A few months ago I applied for a job with reputable PC-gaming centric website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. About a week ago I got an email telling me that I didn't get the job. As far as I can tell from the language of the email, I wasn't even so much as a runner up. I'm disappointed, but unsurprised. I have no real world experience, and my writing has a long way to go. I was holding onto this, but this news helps me realize where I stand right now. I need to work on my skills and apply myself.

I wanted to publish my cover letter, since I worked very hard on it. It reads more like a diary entry than a cover letter (resumé writing isn't one of my skills), and I think that probably hurt me in the long run. As such, I waited to hear back before I did anything, but now I'm going to publish the letter in its entirety (with some personal information edited out).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Motorola Moto G

I bought a Moto G maybe six months ago, and in two weeks' time the next version (cleverly called Moto G (2nd Gen)) will be released to the public. In my eyes, the new Moto G is almost exactly the same as the old Moto G. The internal hardware is exactly the same, the screen's resolution is the same, and the promises are the same. Despite a version of the Moto G with LTE, the new Moto G lacks it all the same. The main difference is this: it's bigger.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

#GamerGate

I don't know much about #GamerGate. I'll list everything I knew two hours ago (because I've informed myself a little since then):


  1. There is a female games journalist
  2. She had an intimate relationship with a game developer
  3. Maybe she reviewed a game he made, and it was overwhelmingly positive
  4. Nothing else happened and I don't care
After reading that list, that's pretty much still what I know about that business. I don't know who this journalist is, who the game developer is, what games are involved, and how any of this has affected anything. Perhaps that's bad, but I think these events are largely overshadowed by the momentum that's created #GamerGate.

This is what I know now:

  • Gamers want more respect
  • Gamers want better, less biased coverage
  • Gamers have no idea how to accomplish this, nor do they agree on what any of this means
I've talked about the growth of Games Journalism before; today, as we were perhaps a few years ago, in the adolescent stage. Largely news is controlled by publishers and developers giving sometimes non-specific press releases. There is very little free form, and only a little creative thinking (outside of the art itself.) No one really knows how to change this, but it is slowly changing.

The conclusion I come to is this: time is our only passage to better, less biased Games Journalism. Just like we grew out of childhood, we will grow out of adolescence. Developers have done the same with games.

Gamers don't have a solution because they don't understand that there really isn't one. Gamers want less corruption, but there isn't any. From some perspectives, the whole field is one corrupt mess. What gamers want is have other people listen to them and be told what to do. Some are level headed and want actual change. Others only want a fascist like following, unquestioning and always agreeing. Good discussions can be had, but only on the periphery of hate.

All of the information I have came from this article I found on Twitter. It's less harsh on the movement itself and much more analytic (well worth a read.) One of the points was that gamers feel proud to associate with the label gamer and it means something to them. They want to be taken seriously, not as a joke or an odd enthusiast. I agree, but not as a gamer. I want games to be taken seriously, I don't really care about gamers themselves. One will come with the other.

I think #GamerGate is represented by a loud minority of hardcore gamers. The topic focuses on the wrong issues. No one should care about reporting the news, or even about biased reviews (every review is biased, and sometimes unfairly so.) We should focus on civil discussions. If we want to be taken seriously, maybe we should consider those around us. We can't stop talking about how great we are, perhaps we should take a look from the outside and figure out why we're treated like children.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Current Focus

My time of wandering is over. No matter where this takes me, I've made a decision.

From this time forward, I intend to be a writer.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Things That Never Ended

Not too long ago, I was inside a Wendy's. I had ordered food and eating it, I wasn't just sitting in the Wendy's like a weirdo (or a homeless person, but even the homeless guy had food.) The music, or podcast, I was listening to had ended and my hands were a bit too disgusting with grease and mayonnaise to touch my phone. I was just listening to the restaurant ambiance as hungry patrons shuffled in for the lunch time rush. A particular group of older women approached the counter and started to loudly ask questions.

I cringed at their voices. They weren't particularly unpleasant, but their tone and canter said it all. I had worked in fast food for a relatively short time. I knew these women. The group of people who frequent fast food establishments are largely terrible, entitled cheapskates. There are pleasant and understanding people as well, but they're often lost in the shuffle among the impatient jerks they dine alongside. These women treated the Wendy's as their personal watering hole, asking and demanding but ignoring or dodging anything the Wendy's cashier had to say.

I cringed in fear. I've been on the receiving end of that interaction and it feels like it will never end. Even once their order has been taken, tendered, and served they'll still be sitting in the lobby. They'll be loud and rude to other customers and leave a giant mess. I don't know if these women did that, they could have been very clean and quiet after that. I left not too long after they finished their order, but that was the fear that I had. I could still feel, even after not being in fast food for a long time.

For me, while I worked that job (and even the one I have now) I would feel that cringe and fear before I left my apartment. Those interactions felt like they would never end, but that job felt like it would go on forever. I wanted to much to get out of it, and eventually I did, but I moved onto another job where I felt the same. I still fear everyday that this will never end. I feel like I'll always hop from dead-end job to dead-end job. For some it doesn't end; I've met those people, some 30-40 years older than me. My fear is that I'll be just like that.

I think it will end. Maybe not as soon or in the way I want it to, but it will end. Life is unexpected. I listen to the RISK podcast and often the story tellers talk about how their 20's were a confusing and largely terrible time. Expected to find what they'll do for the rest of their lives, but only finding confusion. Often they spend that whole decade meandering and wandering in circles. I think I'm doing that now and I have to have more confidence in myself.

The Little Things

When I think about other countries, and even other states in the US, I think of them as empty space. From my perspective, the world is so small and disconnected. I don't like this very much. This is a recent discovery, because I hadn't really had the wherewithal or reason to think about other places, but a recent re-obsession with wet shaving has shown me a lot of different places that sell and make shaving equipment.

This is sort of a different topic, but us Americans have a shit choice when it comes to shaving products. Gels, foams, and cartridge razors are all we get. Some places in the US, which is a fairly large country, sell real-ass shaving creams and even shave brushes. Some United Statesian grocery and drug stores sell DE razor blades, but they're often expensive (while still being less than half the cost of cartridges.) In Tampa, I've found only the least expensive shaving soap, Van Der Hagen, and one of the most expensive creams, The Art of Shaving.

Other countries, specifically European and Middle-Eastern countries, have a pretty decent collection of shaving soaps, sticks, creams, brushes, DE blades, and even DE razors. For this reason, most forums are populated by largely non-Americans. This is really great: the wet shaving world is oddly large for how classical it seems. However, whenever I see posters talking about how they're in Turkey, or India, or Croatia, or China, the first thought that comes to mind is, "holy shit, people live in these places and use computers?" I immediately feel ignorant and stupid.

I don't really know that many people, and I have limited social interaction. I want that to change. Wet shaving is what I'm into right now and there is a very active community. At least for now, I'm going to be a part of it. Shaving is something I'll probably do for the rest of my life, so I doubt I'll ever stop hard on the community, but my activity will probably wane. That's not that important, because there will always be something new to get into, and another great community to find.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Steam Music

Steam
Steam just launched its music beta. For those in the beta, this means that Steam, while in big picture mode, can now play music files. Valve has used media players in the past for game trailers and maybe even short, gaming-related films. This idea isn't new to Steam, but this is their first large step into becoming a content platform, and not just for gaming.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ergonomics

The TECK
I've talked a bit about ergonomics before. I use Colemak as my keyboard layout, but I learn more and more that layouts aren't as important to speed and maybe not so much to ergonomics (but I'm not going back to QWERTY ever because it is the pits.) I use a Microsoft Natural Elite as my keyboard and have for a few years. I expect to use it for years to come, because I've started to collect them. Goodwill is a magnet for old keyboards.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Characters in Gaming

Erect Cock
Escapism is often at the heart of gaming. Despite what anyone's heard, gamers don't want to violently murder everyone in the middle east. Gamers are more passionate and intelligent than what their own words may display. In the real world, learning how to fire a gun, sprint for long periods with 100 pounds of gear, or impossibly climb tall buildings is incredibly hard and, while they can be somewhat esoteric, video games enable anyone to do those things despite their lack of ability.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shaving

The DE I personally use: The Gillette Tech 1938-1945
Shaving sucks, but I have to do it anyway.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The thing I wish Facebook were

Facebook isn't one of my favorite things, but I think it could be. The reason it's not is because it doesn't do what it sets out to do: socialize. In order to really apply this concept to Facebook, each user has to constantly force every subject they find interesting into their friend's faces. I guess that's why it's Facebook. You take all of the things you like, put them in a book and mash everyone's faces with it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Today

Today's the day I realized that I don't have friends. I've come close to the exact way I felt ten years ago, without being melodramatic and depressed. I'm not comfortable, but it's somewhat better than the alternative (which is to say, the current alternative of being more uncomfortable).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

One Piec, Arc By Arc: Factions

I think I should comment on the specific factions in One Piece. Fair warning that there might be spoilers.

In Short, there are two: The World Government, and everyone else.

One Piece, Arc By Arc: Alabasta part 1

I'll start by saying that this is full of spoilers. I don't just mean spoilers about the arc in general, but anything within my knowledge of One Piece might be discussed in this post.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One Piece, Arc By Arc: the first 100 chapters

I've decided to spend some time talking about One Piece. One Piece is a Japanese comic/cartoon (often called manga/anime, because that's what the Japanese call it). It's very good, despite what some people think, it's probably one of the best written pieces of media ever made and is far beyond most manga and anime that I have read and seen. It's also better than most American things too. It's just really good, so I'm committing some time to talk about it.

There will be spoilers, so don't read if that's a thing you don't want, and this will be written more like a literary review than anything else, so it might be a little complicated and full of deconstruction. Also, I'm going to talk about it in terms of the manga, so I'll use phrases like book, chapter, panel, and what-have-you.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Spreading Awesome

The Vlogbrothers have popularized two ideas: create world awesome and decrease world suck. They're challenging concepts, but awesome and suck are well defined. Suck is anything that makes life worse and awesome is anything that makes life better. Part of life is discovering what part of you can make more awesome and what part can decrease suck. I create awesome with words and creation. I also donate a fair bit of money to charities, because I'm not so good at decreasing suck.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Work

One of the hardest things to do, I've learned, is to work.

Friday, January 03, 2014

For The Love of Dying

That's a Dragon, cause, y'know, why not?
I've very recently beaten Dark Souls, after over 60 hours, and I have to say that I'm ready to do it all again but with feeling. Dark Souls ends with credits like any other game, but also ends with the game's beginning again, placing the player back into the world but with enemies with more piss and vinegar than before. Everything is harder to kill and kills harder, but the game doesn't feel more difficult, it's only just as difficult before.

Game Difficulty

I've been playing mostly difficult games recently. I'm not actually the type of person who enjoys difficult games, although I think they have a special place in gaming. I just don't have the time or patience for difficulty, especially for games that are difficult for difficulty's sake. It turns out, though, that some of my favorite games, and many of the best games ever made, are difficult.