Sorry for the long hiatus (again), though I’ve been kinda busy, well…

I’ve had a lot of things I’ve wanted to put here but neither the energy
nor concentration to sort it, but I figured I ought to have a go now.

You see, I’ve amassed 16 “eprops” even though I only have a few
comments on board, and the reason for this is because all the folks
that have left chain-letter style comments have left eprops but I erase
the comment as immediately as possible.

I don’t think I want to rant about superstition right now.

I’ve written a little bit of code, most of it for the Sharp Zaurus
turned into a glorified iPod and checkbook project, and though I can
share some of the quickie scripts I wrote, I’d rather not, because they
aren’t very substantial.  I also toyed with Rails a bit.

Much of the things I want to sort thoughts on relate to things read at
www.escapistmagazine.com, so you may want to read some back
issues.  It’s a magazine about the completely geeked-out zoned-in
mentality of playing games of imagination, mostly relating to video and
computer games, but having occasion to refer to past games of paper and
the amatuer persistance of the text adventure computer game
genre.  Its writers do quite a lot of explaining of why gaming
trends are what they are, were what they were, and they comment on
where these sorts of things are going.

EVERYONE’S A GEEK ABOUT SOMETHING (revisited?  Don’t remember if I published this one already)

It’s been a while since I complained about how hard it is to buy a
shirt with no logo advertising its creator to the world.  It’s now
quite a bit easier to at least find a subtle logo, but that advertising
must still be there.

Indeed, a certain company I represent say they get complaints if their
customers don’t have a large enough logo on their article.  We’ve
been capitalized into wearing our hearts on our sleeves… breast
pockets, purses, bumpers…

From that, we get some interesting double standards.  You see,
we’re supposed to show the world what things we like to do in our spare
time, constructively arranging ourselves so that our likes, dislikes,
and opinions can be known at an instant glance.  I don’t know if
this is by some kind of social instinct or need for privacy, but there
is a kind of line drawn that determines that you should only like
something -so much-.

What brought this to immediate mind, for me, is The Escapist (that’s
why the URL was there…) having an article about the way Japanese view
and market video gaming as opposed to how Americans (or dare I say, the
western world) do.  Paraphrased in a sentence, playing video games
for fun is fine.  Playing at parties is awesome.  Playing
with friends is cool.  It doesn’t even matter how old you
are!  But if you’ve got a T-shirt or a poster, or an action
figure, you’re a geek.  You’ve crossed the line.

The article continues by quantifying it in the language of contraban
cannabis smokers- “Smoke as often as you want, but never smoke
alone.  If you do it by yourself, that’s how you know you’re
addicted.”

I’m sure we’ve all got at least one thing we keep to ourselves,
something that just makes you say, ‘Yeah, I’m an addict,” about
it.  As I write this, I can honestly admit I hate being asked what
kind of music I’m into.  Typical recent answers have been, “I
don’t know how to put it in words,” “If you have to ask, you don’t want
to know,” and “None of your damned business.”  Great press for the
record industry, huh?

WORK QUIET, FAIL LOUD

This is, or should be, the mantra of all computer programmers that are
still prototyping and tinkering with code.  The funny thing about
it though, is that it’s the exact opposite of the consumerist approach
of giving the people that give you money a warm and fuzzy feeling!

Because the professional, commercial programmer’s lot in life is to
hide the inner workings of a (not really) complicated machine from a
person that either lacks the time or interest (or both) to learn about
it, we have to make consumer products scream loudly to prove that they
are working, and sweep it under the rug when they expose your Amercian
Express account number to the masses of the internet.

Because a pop-up window with a humongous stack trace is a sure-fire way
to get a tech support phone call, I don’t see a change in this
department anytime soon, but it’s behaviour that’s all too familiar…

BEHIND EVERY FAD (revisited)

I think it’s just a matter of time before there are more folks that
want to know what’s under the hood of their computers, folks that
choose to write their own programs and even their own video games and
such.  We already have that sort of thing now, but it’s in that
realm of the closet, it crosses the ‘geek’ line.

As time passes, though, all these geeky things make their way out, but
only if you keep it on the safe side of the line.  In the early
and mid 90’s, what I’m doing now was fairly common, though not nearly
as ‘easy’ to do, not that I ever found it that difficult…  I’d
have been writing a ‘news’ or ‘diary’ section on a personal web page.

Somebody just happened to come up with easier ways to accomplish that
effect, and make it easier for anyone to add entries and sort them
automatically.  Now suddenly, we have blogs, we have Xanga and
LiveJournal and MySpace, and people that don’t know what the <a
href> tag is for write in them all the time.

Thanks to RSS, I can see the changes in blogs at a glance from the bookmarks in my web browser.

The result of course, waters down the product and makes for a lot of
rubbish to sort through, but that sort of thing should be expected.

The Apple iPod did the same thing for the mp3 format.  You see,
iPod didn’t invent the portable player, they just made it…
interesting… somehow.  They’re showing that ordinary folks
really want to be geeks, they want to put funny faces on their iPods to
show that they’d modify their hardware if they felt confident enough to
do so, but… for one reason or another they have to stay on the safe
side of the geek line.

Having said that, I’d like to plug a bizarre piece of hardware that
even I didn’t understand the potential of until I read a certain
article in…  The Escapist.

HIGH TECH, LOW BUDGET

If you really know where to look, Moore’s Law makes it easy for broke
people to have computers and video games, and the effect snowballed its
way into the proverbial second and third worlds a long time ago. 
A couple weeks ago, The Escapist ran an article on Brazillian video
gaming.

That article taught me volumes- I understand now why certain folks from
certain countries used to ask certain (seemingly dumb) questions about
video game hardware when I worked in the toy store.

In Brazil, you can buy pirate NES/Famicoms that play all kinds of
cartridges- these other countries where the patents are either not
protected or not enforced get video game machines that can play all
kinds of crazy junk that the western world thinks of as obsolete and
trades on eBay.

Will a Game Cube play SNES carts?  What the hell kind of question
is that?  Well, it’s pretty valid in a country where SNES machines
can play NES carts and machines with no carts at all, full of Atari
ROMs, were once commonplace.

The cart with the dude from Singapore selling N64 controllers with
Famicom emulators and 50 cartridge images built into them is a
ubiquitous site in American shopping malls, in fact, I kinda hope that
little fad is going away…  but getting to my point…

During the last E3, Nintendo announced they wanted to make a Game Boy
Advance smaller than a pack of cigarettes.  In a country ready to
move on to DS and PSP, that sounds incredibly stupid, but in a country
where GBA carts are cheap, budgets are low, and spare time is hard to
find, it’s a godsend.  My Game Boy Micro has the lightning bolt
face on it.  Its battery runs longer than an SP’s, it’s
comfortable (mostly from being light) and the only drag is that most of
the games I would play on it that can’t be dug out of my brother’s
closet for free are now eBay bait.  It’s kept me entertained over
the past few weekends when I can’t make it home, because carting my
computer or a video game machine to my dad’s house is unweildy and gets
old.

Now, imagine that product in a country where GBA carts come super cheap and easy…

You didn’t think that the obsoletion curve was the only market for a technology, did you?

Thanks for the comments.

Coding isn’t for everybody, but I don’t think folks realise they
program all the time…  maybe I’ll dive into that next time.

In the meantime, everybody take care and thanks for checking on me.

See you next time.

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