Minecraft 1.5.1 just came out and broke my local setup, so I made a few changes, thought it might be useful for others.
- Make a Minecraft folder, and a mods folder in that.
- Download MagicLauncher to the Minecraft folder.
- Download Minecraft Forge, Rei's Minimap, and OptiFine to mods folder.
- Run MagicLauncher, go to Setup, remove ModLoader, and add each of the mods in order: minecraftforge, ReiMinimap, OptiFine.
- I use a texture pack made with Painterly Pack, drop it in the Minecraft texture folder.
- Once launched, go to Options, Video Settings, Details, change Grass to Fancy. This forces OptiFine to use biome grass colors even if graphics are set to Fast, which mine usually are.
More mods are easy to add, just make sure minecraftforge is first, OptiFine is last. I also play some Feed the Beast, but vanilla Minecraft requires less wiki reading and research. I may start adding some of the less difficult mods for variety.
Today, I wanted a more serious challenge from Minecraft. In any normal survival game, even hardcore, I can't really die. I get iron, I get geared up, I get diamond, enchanting, I'm invincible. I get bored.
So I started playing with the Superflat worlds, making presets that would be harder. Soon I discovered /r/flatcore, and got more ideas from them, though these four should be unique:
- The jungles are dense and endless, overrunning the ruins of ancient peoples. The sky is bright, but you rarely catch a glimpse of it through the tree canopy.
- The ice giants have defeated the gods, leaving only ruins and snow in their wake. Pine trees and a handful of animals still survive around the few lakes which have not frozen. Monsters roam the land freely.
- A harsh and unforgiving desert at the end of time, the sun is dim and the very surface of the world is unstable. Keep moving.
- A prison world (as Cordwainer Smith wrote) for criminals so damned, they could not be allowed to die once, but must rise and suffer again and again. The villages have the supplies you need to survive, but also an ambush which will only bring you pain.
To use these, pick Single Player, Create New World, More World Options, World Type: Superflat, Customize, Presets, paste the preset into the text box at top (ctrl-A, ctrl-V even on Mac), Use Preset, Done, Create New World. Most of them will be extremely laggy at first, pause the game and give them a minute to create chunks.
See the wiki for details on the format. I used the following blocks:
I've been playing Minecraft and thinking about it a lot more lately. I don't currently have spare time for other games, but I can spend 10 or 20 minutes, do a couple day/night cycles, and feel like I've accomplished something.
I've created a Mark Plays Minecraft blog with some ideas, thoughts, and screenshots.
In 2007, I wrote Amazon's Kindling, or, "Burn Before Reading" and Throw More Kindling on the Fire, where I ripped on the Kindle's terrible aesthetics, reading experience, and lock-in to Amazon's store.
But at the time, it had no real competition (apart from Sony's apathetic marketing of the E-Reader), and it did reasonably well. The aesthetics and user interface improved marginally, though it's still pretty awful to use, still unreadable in dim light, still gray-on-gray, still tied to Amazon only.
Now that the iPad is available, the Kindle and all other e-ink readers (Sony's E-Reader, Barnes & Noble's "Nook", Border's "Kobo") are doomed. The iPad has a bright high-contrast display, color, better fonts, and has iTunes, movies, and the App Store if you get bored of reading.
The iPad's iBooks app does page flips instantly (well, half a second animation; wish I could turn that off) instead of several seconds like Kindle, has a tappable dictionary, notes, and highlighting (instead of trying to use the Kindle paddle control), illustrations, and a gorgeous user interface. It's not "as good as a paper book", it's better in every way (people with a fetish for rotting wood pulp feel & smell can turn one into a case).
If you have a bunch of Kindle ebooks, they can be read in the iPad Kindle app, making the Kindle device irrelevant.
The first release of iBooks was a little underwhelming, given the very limited store, but Apple is backfilling it fast. I have 8 purchased books on it now, and a bunch of "free samples" I use as bookmarks to buy when I'm done with these. I've bought two new release hardcovers (not in iBooks store) since iPad was released, but no more paperbacks, and maybe I never will again.
In other countries, the iBooks store is probably going to lag a while; every publisher has different publishing deals in every country, so Apple can't just turn on books everywhere, they have to wait for the publisher to work out the rights. It may take a few months or years to untangle the legal mess of long centuries of print publishing.
On the con side, an iPad costs $500 base, Kindle costs $189; iPad weighs 0.68 kg, like a hardcover, Kindle weighs 0.28kg, like a thick paperback. But you can only use the Kindle for one thing, and it does it poorly. You have space in a satchel or purse for one book-sized object. If you KNOW you're going to read in a brightly-lit area and do nothing else, the Kindle alone is sufficient; if you have any possibility of doing anything else, you'll take the iPad and leave the Kindle gathering dust.
[Update: @girasquid points out that the iPad brightness may be too high for some to read on, but the brightness and sepiatone controls in iBooks give you a lot of control over your comfort level.]
[Update 17:13: See ZDNet's iPad vs. Kindle vs. Sony E-Reader reading comparison, where iPad did poorly outdoors, but was better for indoors and night. I've had better outdoors experiences with it, but I live in Seattle where "the Sun don't shine".]
Old games never die, they are periodically reanimated to stagger forth, frighten townsfolk, throw small girls into wells, and finally exact bloody revenge on their creators for abandoning them to a cruel world.
Myst Online: Uru Live (MOUL, or Uru) is just such an old, cranky Frankenstein's monster of a game. It was first designed and beta tested by Cyan Worlds in 2003. In 2004, publisher Ubisoft killed the online game and released a single-player version. In 2006, Cyan released a sort of samizdat version called "Until Uru", where fans ran unofficial shards of the online game. In 2007, GameTap hosted Uru, and let it run on minimal budget for another year, then cancelled it in 2008. Here in 2010, Cyan is hosting it themselves, for free, and collecting donations to keep the servers running. Their plan is to eventually release the system and building tools as open source, but run an official server.
I first played Uru in the GameTap era, since that was the first Mac client.
On the positive side, it had beautiful graphics, sound, and world design, a few great puzzle Ages, and a ton of Myst story. The multiplayer design wasn't bad, though the population was very small and not very communicative. The private island home, Relto, can be customized with a bunch of new features (see my screenshots below).
On the disappointing side, it had very few puzzle Ages, a small and reclusive player population, and a general air of neglect and abandonment. Lag in any public area with 20+ players was (and is) a serious problem. The non-game UI and cursors are hideous, sub-Linux, jarring badly with the lovely, detailed game world.
During the beta of 2003 and again in the GameTap era of 2007, Cyan ran a few in-character "events" to drive the storyline. Unfortunately, they did this in the worst way imaginable: Staff logged in as their avatars, found random online players, and played out the events with them and whoever happened to be on. Everyone else heard about it second-hand or read chat logs.
In the new release, I'm somewhat more optimistic. There are 3 "new" (built in the time at GameTap) puzzle Ages, a multiplayer toy Age, and several sight-seeing ages online, which pretty much doubles the amount of gameplay, to the point where it would be a commercially-acceptable game.
The revived player base is currently fairly active, and higher quality than what I saw during the GameTap era. It's all hard-core Myst fans, because nobody else really knows it exists. There is no sign there will be a repeat of the cheesy events, though more out of lack of time/finances than because they've seen reason.
The tools for the fan-created Ages aren't usable yet, but there's a high likelihood they will be this year. THAT will make all the difference. Uru right now is still a short game with nothing to do except chat after you're "done". With fan-created Ages, not only will you have an unlimited-ish amount of content, you can make your own if you're competent with 3D modelling and Python programming.
You can find it at Myst Online, though Mac users have to jump through a few hoops to get the old Cider wrapper updated to run it.
If you're in-cavern, send KI-mail to mdhughes / KI 05422418. I'm still checking in at least once a week, just to see if anyone needs a hand, to chase my Great Zero marker times down to something tolerable, or on specific event dates. As fan material makes its way in, I'll be in more often.
There's a ton of information, hints if you really get stuck, occasional news and special events, and support for technical problems at various forums:
A few of my screenshots (all 1280x800, open in a new window)
The flying car is still in development, but otherwise, what did Santa put in our stockings over the last decade?
- The first good mass-storage audio player. The original 5GB model was just big enough to be useful, the UI was actually usable for more than play/pause/next. All of the imitators forget that, in trying to put in more irrelevant features, or flashier UI, the point is to play music. Which is why nobody else has taken this market back from Apple.
- The Treo, BlackBerry, and iPhone aren't just "nice phones". They put all of your communications into a single device. Voice, email, SMS, web, and applications make something more than just a phone, it's more like radio-telepathy. It makes you part of the Internet hivemind.
- Flash Memory
- In the 1990s, even the early 2000s, you had 3 choices for data storage: CD, Hard Disk Drive, or teeny little amounts of very expensive flash memory (measured in KB or MB!). DVDs had a very short run for storage. HDDs get smaller and hold more, but are still unreliable, fragile junk. But flash memory went from a toy to everywhere, from low-capacity to high-capacity. iPods (mostly), media players, videogames, smartphones, high-end laptops all use flash memory for mass storage. They're incredibly faster and more reliable. It's like the change from prop planes to jets.
- Electric/Hybrid Cars
- Despite "Who killed the electric car?"-type whining about the '90s, electric cars at the time couldn't provide the range people wanted (telling people they don't "need" long range never works!). New battery tech and hybrid approaches finally got the range up, and electric or hybrid cars are now working and on the streets. Gas-burning cars are doomed, just in time to crush the economies of the terrorist states of the Middle East, and hopefully slow down global warming.
- Military Drones
- A "toy" airplane with a camera may seem harmless enough, but as a spotter, or filled with explosive, it becomes a hunter-killer run by a pilot safely nestled in a base far away. Current security issues aside, these are changing war utterly, just as much as artillery, tanks, and aircraft did.
- Mars Robots
- Spirit and Opportunity, and the Mars Phoenix mission, are letting us physically explore Mars through the same kind of remote operation as a military drone, but with enough self-determination to make up for the 16+ minute radio round-trip. These little guys are by far the best thing NASA's done since Apollo.
- Private Spaceships
- And on the human spaceflight side, the X-Prize has done more for human spaceflight than anything NASA's done in 40 years. We have multiple, separately developed, commercially viable private space programs. Virgin Galactic will be doing tourism in space with this technology. A similar prize is creating multiple privately-developed lunar landers, from Armadillo Aerospace (id Software's John Carmack's company!) and others. This is the "no shit, real private spaceships" future of Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.
- Mac OS X
- If you'd come back to me in 1999 and said "Desktop UNIX will be fun and easy to use, and it'll be based on NeXTstep, and made by Apple", I'd have beaten you senseless and taken your time machine away. And yet, here it is. UNIX isn't new, but a UNIX desktop that doesn't suck is. My initial expectation of Mac OS X was that it'd have the stability of classic Mac OS with the UI of UNIX. Instead they got it the right way around…
- Embedded/Mobile Linux
- The "Year of the Linux Desktop", on the other hand, didn't just fail, but turned into a 15-year-long joke. Linux desktops, even "easy" ones like Suse and Ubuntu, are still shit. But where Linux did win was inside smaller devices. Almost every handheld device except the iPhone is Linux-based. Sometimes the UIs are ugly Linux-like crap, sometimes they're a little better, but at least there's a halfway decent core OS underneath. JavaME and WinCE are both dead and rotting, and good riddance.
- Getting notifications when something updates is, to use a technical term, non-trivial. Push notifications and peer-to-peer networking both require the user's endpoint to always be on to be useful; email is vulnerable to spam, and automating it is hard. In contrast, RSS is the dumbest thing that could possibly work: Poll a server every so often for a list of items. If they have enclosures, download them. From that simplistic basis, we get news readers, podcasts, and every little thing that updates.
- iTunes isn't just a media organizer/player or syncing tool for iPods. It's a store, the first digital music (and now movies, TV shows, and smartphone applications) store that didn't suck. So some of us actually started buying music, instead of stealing it. The music industry, being composed entirely of thieves, parasites, and fucking vampires, was confused by this and tried repeatedly to kill it, but failed. The movie industry has seen a little more sense. TV show producers are starting to realize that distribution doesn't just meant broadcast & cable. Tivo got people out of the habit of tuning in at a certain time, but it's inferior to just downloading shows from the iTunes Store. iTunes is killing CDs, DVDs, and TV networks, all at once.
- Google made search usable (remember Altavista? Yeah, that was shit.), but then expanded into everything on the Internet: Email, chat, collaborative documents, and now a couple of operating systems. They're trying hard to own the entire Internet infrastructure. And since they don't suck at it, they may well succeed.
- 3D MMORPGs
- There were multiplayer RPGs in the '90s, even graphical ones like Ultima Online and Meridian 59. But it was EverQuest and then World of Warcraft that nailed the model of a 3D world, "Kill 10 Rats" quests, organized raids, and guilds. Much of the way we look at gaming now, or any kind of online social activity, is through the lens of MMORPGs.
- Social Networks
- MySpace and LinkedIn launched in 2003. Facebook in 2004. Twitter in 2006. Each aimed at a different social group, but managed to do what other attempts hadn't: Provide a compelling reason to keep coming back, keep updating your status, keep talking to your "friends". They're the missing piece in communications on the Internet: How do you find & keep in touch with the people you know?
You’re probably wondering what the point of all this ugly rambling bullshit is.
The future is inherently a good thing.
And we move into it one winter at a time.
Things get better one winter at a time.
So if you’re going to celebrate something, then have a drink on this:
The world is generally and on balance, a better place to live this year than it was last year.
For instance: I didn’t have this gun last year…
-"Next Winters", Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis
Today I picked up a shiny new PSP Go. And I like it.
$249 gets you a tiny device the size of two stacked iPhones, though somewhat lighter. The original PSP-1000 was 6.7"x2.9"x.9", weighed 280g. The Go is 5"x2.7"x.64", weighs 158g; about half the volume and weight, which takes it from a thing I leave at home, to a thing I can tuck in a pocket.
It's small, but not quite so small I can't hold it stably. When playing Wipeout, with the shoulder pads and constant button mashing, it was fine. When the top is slid closed, it shows an analog clock (?!?) or calendar, or the media playing. I suppose if there was a dock, you could stick it on and have a decent clock/radio thing; you could even use Internet radio, which it supports.
There's black and white models, but GameStop only had the sparkly white-and-chrome. I'll probably find a set of skins for it later. Even for the "girly" model, it still looks pretty classy. FAR better industrial design than, say, a Kindle. It remains true that the only three electronics companies with any design sense and aesthetics are Apple, Nintendo, and Sony.
The Go has 16 GB of internal storage, unlike the 32 MB in the PSP-1000, or 64 MB in the current PSP-3000; 250 times the storage space (like everyone now, they seem to use metric storage space numbers, so "16 GB" = "15.25 GiB" in binary terms). For comparison, an iPod touch with 8 GB costs $199, and with 32 GB costs $299, so it seems like fair pricing. With the old system, any claim that it was a "portable media device" was just insulting, since a few MB isn't enough for anything, and even a 2GB memory stick wasn't much. 16 GB, you could fit a small music library and a few movies on.
The screen is 3.8" diagonal, unlike the 4.3" diagonal of the older models, but it's the same 480x272 resolution, and it shows; Go looks considerably brighter and sharper. The speakers are front-facing and louder and sound better than the old models; headphones are still better, but it no longer sounds like tiny, tinny mouse screams.
It comes with some kind of software, but it's for Windows, so I threw it out. On the Mac, I know of three PSP data managers:
and Missing Sync for PSP.
The power/USB cable is full-size USB to proprietary plug, just like an iPhone adaptor. It also comes with a power brick with USB output, but I expect mostly it'll be charged on my computer, not the brick. This is sort of a regression from the USB-to-mini-USB adaptors they'd been using, but not an especially big deal. The Go only has headphone out, but does have bluetooth headphone pairing. [Update 2009-Oct-26:] There is a cable sold separately with video output. However, the idea of playing video off a portable device onto TV never made sense to me—it was part of Sony's UMD media campaign, which was an abject, humiliating failure.
So. The UMD. The "Universal Media Disc". It's gone. No more UMD games on the device, and it looks like they're being phased out for the PSP-3000, too. No more UMD movies, but that was the worst idea ever conceived (a disc nobody else supports! With no full-size player! Only playable on PSP! Uh, no.)
The best part: No more battery-draining, 30- to 60-second UMD game loads. Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony was a great game for the PSP, except opening the map took 60 seconds with the UMD. An in-memory version should open nigh-instantly. With the UMD running, the PSP-1000 gets about 1-3 hours play, at BEST. Apparently when running games from memory, both PSP-3000 and PSP Go get 3-6 hours, despite the much smaller size (and presumably smaller battery) of the Go.
The OS/menu system is a slightly updated version from what's on the PSP-1000, with support now for "pausing" (hibernating) games, and better media/network tools. I only spent time in the menu to get to games or network, but it's a pleasant console menu, second only to the Wii.
The games. Oh, yeah, remember this is a game machine? Well, you get games for it by downloading them. At present, only from Sony's Playstation store, unless you wait for the next firmware crack and install some homebrew stuff made by Linux dweebs. I'll stick with Sony for a while, see how they do.
The PlayStation Store on the device is… really slick. Better, in many ways, than the iTunes App Store. It's easy to find games I'm interested in, almost too easy, and even the cheaper indie games look good. There's also free themes and wallpapers on the store, and paid themes. Most of the paid themes are kind of shameful: Big-breasted anime chicks. There's a section with ~45 anime boob themes, each $0.99 or $1.99. Kids, can you please stop embarassing us adult gamers?
Most of the titles are $10-$20, sometimes up to $30. Compare that to UMD games at GameStop, which are $15-30 for used, $20-$40 for new. This is likely to be the last Sony product I ever buy at a GameStop. I just don't need them anymore, I get better games cheaper online. Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, and now PSP all have digital downloads. It's just a short step to ONLY having downloaded games, and putting a bullet in GameStop's head. I won't really miss it, it was just the least bad of several buying options.
First PSP Go game was an easy one: Wipeout Pulse, $20, for the latest and best of the best racing game series.
And, get this: Final Fantasy VII, $10. One of the greatest CRPGs of all time, not available on UMD, one of the only reasons I kept my PSX around for 10 years… Now just a cheap download. I need to go blow up Sector 1 Mako Reactor now. I'll see you in a few weeks when I'm done…
A couple more thoughts on the Kindle.
- It's not obvious from the demos, but the screen has 4-color grayscale, like the old Sony Reader PRS-500. That's slightly less terrible, but still grossly inadequate. The new Sony Reader PRS-505 has 8-color grayscale, and is still a little jaggy and dull. It appears to be just as dim a display as the old Sony, and not as bright as the new one, which means it's very dark and hard to read in anything but perfect lighting.
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
After seeing a couple more video demos, I'll add to my litany of contempt:
- The scroll bar controlled by a paddle for choosing menu options is one of the worst user interfaces I have ever seen in my life with technology. We have these things now called "touch screens". On the iPhone/iPod touch, you just touch the screen to do something, or flick the screen up or down to shift the page, and it moves like a physical thing. Scroll bars were cool and new on the Macintosh 128K in 1984, and paddle controllers haven't been cool since Pong, and the combination just stinks. No, I don't have one of those primitive 20th Century scroll wheels on my mouse; I have a Mighty Mouse with a mini-trackball for scrolling, and I now expect all small-screen displays to respond to touch and drag. Wake up and join the 21st Century.
- There's no way to select a single word for dictionary lookup or clicking to a URL. You select an entire line with the paddle and it lists everything, slowly.
- The next/prev buttons and the keyboard are incredibly sluggish and unresponsive. You can literally watch it stop and think half a second per keypress, or a few seconds for a new page or a popup dialog, before responding. This is a thing that would drive anyone who isn't on heavy sedatives to start using heavy sedatives. Good interfaces must respond instantly, at least within 1/10th of a second, or people become increasingly frustrated and begin to hate your product. Sluggish response produces loathing. I've done user testing and watched this process turn ordinary, happy people into raving maniacs. I expect Amazon will have a lot of returned Kindles that have been thrown into walls.
It's obvious to anyone who has worked at Amazon (I served an 11-month tour of duty inside the 'Zon) why the Kindle is so awful. The psychology of every company is set and shaped by the psychology of the founders. Jeff Bezos runs things on the cheap; he still acts like he's eating ramen at a struggling startup.
When he started Amazon in an empty warehouse, he couldn't afford real desks, so he bought some door blanks and 2x4s, and made some cheap, nasty desks out of them. To this day, all desks and conference room tables in Amazon are Door Desks, made custom for Amazon to remind you to be frugal and not spend any money on anything that doesn't help the company meet next payroll, to hell with aesthetics or the long-range future.
Similarly, the Amazon infrastructure is lashed together from cheap-ass Linux servers that just fail over and get replaced, rather than buying anything quality, because that wouldn't be "frugal".
Amazon doesn't pay people to do site technical support, they just issue the engineers pagers and make them do it. It's not like you've got work to do, or wanted to sleep or something, right?
You don't even want to know what the software is like inside, but it's the same principle, exacerbated by Amazon's obsessive Not Invented Here culture, which leads to Amazon-created/-modified incompatible versions of every tool.
So naturally, the Kindle is cheap-ass white plastic, with no aesthetic design or usability engineering, just whatever the cheapest possible components were, lashed together by an engineer who hasn't been let out of his ugly, flourescent-lit lab for years. Spending money on artists and designers, or buying slightly better components, would violate the Door Desk Principle.
Mike Arrington was right in his video with Scoble: the Etch-A-Sketch is a better device. Despite the equally primitive controls and nearly equivalent display, the Etch-A-Sketch is fast and responsive, and just plain works. The Etch-a-Sketch knows what its technological limitations are and still produces a good user experience. The Etch-A-Sketch even has style; it's bright red, because it's for children who are attracted to bright colors, and it has a smooth case and big chunky knobs for awkward young hands. The Kindle is trying to be something that it just can't be with the crippled technology Amazon chose and Amazon's inability to make classy devices.
The Amazon Kindle is out, and it's about as useful as any previous e-book reader. Which is to say, not at all.
- The Kindle does not support PDF books. Full stop. Without PDF, the device is useless. Almost all existing non-DRM'd ebooks are sold in PDF format. You can supposedly convert your PDFs into the proprietary Amazon format, but it'll cost you $0.10 per book, for something you already own, and destroy the existing page layout.
- It's $400, plus $10 per DRM-crippled Amazon book, plus $2/mo per RSS feed. They don't charge for the network access because they've already extracted your wallet.
- It's hideously ugly. It looks like some cheap office supply tool, like a barcode printer, not a $400 piece of electronics that you'd want to curl up with day in and day out for the rest of your life. Since becoming a Mac, iPod, and Nintendo DS owner, I won't own an electronic device that ugly. Aesthetics matter, and this thing has none; it makes the shit-brown and puke-green Zunes look tasteful.
- The keyboard is unnecessary, large, and awkwardly placed. The scroller can only be manipulated with the right hand while the left hand holds it. This is unlike a print book, where you can hold a paperback and thumb through it with one hand, ambidextrously. The angled front will dig into your hand and be hard to hold on to. The usability is, shockingly, even worse than the nonexistent aesthetics.
- The screen is monochrome. 16-color grayscale would have been enough to have decent font antialiasing, and a 256-color web palette would have been far superior. As it is, it'll be quite unpleasant to read on (the Sony reader has an identical screen, and it was terrible). Compare this to an iPhone, which has similar DPI, but has bright, sharp color and the Mac's perfect font rendering. I'd far rather read on my little iPod Touch, if only it had local file storage.
- Luddite print fetishists are addicted to the smell of rotting wood pulp and the feel of leather or hard rotting wood pulp. Sony understood that and put a good cover on their e-book reader, but it's not enough. If you want the fetishists to convert, you'll have to wrap it in a few sheets of paper, or perhaps some artificial scent dispenser. I really don't think they know or care about paper as such, they just fetishize the smell and feel.
So why is anyone pushing it? Well, the big-name bloggers and newspapers are pushing it because they expect to get 30% of the $2/mo fee for subscribing to their RSS feeds. PAYOLA. I cannot believe that anyone who isn't getting a kickback from Amazon honestly likes this device.
This morning, I was waiting for the bus to work, doing my Animal Crossing morning "chores", and this nicely-dressed, friendly black guy came up to me and said, "Is that a DS?", and we had a few minutes chat about the DS. I was gonna
offer to exchange name/email with him so we could swap friend codes, and
then just as my bus is pulling up... He pulls out a copy of Awake, the
Jehovah's Witness tabloid, and asks me if I'm interested. Me: "Sorry,
man, Nintendo is my only religion." Him: "Okay, bye!"
Apparently, I'm an iDroid.
idont.com is telling people to "think for themselves", "resist conformity"... Are they anarchists? A media watchdog group? Do they really have your best interests at heart? Let's see what
whois says about the domain name registry:
111 Java Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Domain Name: IDONT.COM
Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Administrator, Domain firstname.lastname@example.org
111 Java Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Record expires on 20-Aug-2009.
Record created on 14-Apr-2006.
Database last updated on 23-May-2006 18:21:04 EDT.
SanDisk. One of the losing companies in the mp3 player market. Oh, look at the "alternative" page on idont.com: an ad for their crappy mp3 player. Real subtle. Pure class.
At least anythingbutipod.com is impartial among the many inferior not-iPod mp3 players, not a pathetic marketing shill created by international criminals, spammers, and Flash site perpetrators Grey Direct.
However, all of these miss the point. People buy iPods not because the marketing's great (though it is; the iPod ads are some of the coolest commercials ever made), but because Apple makes a damned good mp3 player, iTunes is great at managing your music library, and iTunes Music Store is a convenient way to buy music (I only buy CDs and rip them, I don't use ITMS for anything but The Daily Show and some free podcasts, but I'm outnumbered millions to one).
Anyone who's used any other MP3 player and an iPod is going to throw the other in the trash. I used to live on my Rio Volt CD-ROM MP3 player (650MB per CD-ROM) and my Treo + Pocket Tunes + 512MB SD card. Both were tolerable players, but they pale in comparison to:
- The lovely and easy-to-use user interface on the iPod
- The ability to rate songs as you're listening and have your ratings show up in iTunes later
- 60GB of storage space, 9x as much as the CD-ROM held.
- Auto-updating and syncing my podcasts and Daily Show fix.
Before, I just assumed that everyone who hated iPods was either mentally unstable, developmentally disabled, on really bad drugs, or Republican (which is pretty much "All Of The Above"). Now, I'll have to assume, without convincing evidence to the contrary, that anyone who doesn't use an iPod is a marketing shill.
But I do like that iDroid poster.
Animal Crossing for the Nintendo DS is pure digital crack. Why am I playing this? Why do I spend hours fishing and collecting shells, completing the museum's aquarium, and trying to please these demanding little devils in chibi animal form? WHY? ... Gotta go, I have to see if my pear tree came up.
I've been wary for some time of all the politicians getting involved in the videogame industry: there's political vermin like Jack Thompson, who wants to get famous by attacking videogames with lying claims that they cause violence, even though he has not a shred of evidence on his side, and all the facts point the opposite way.
But equally troubling are the supposed "defenders" of videogaming. These people are not your friends, either. They're just more political vermin out to get famous, this time by defending gaming, at least as long as it's an expedient way to make money. The second it is no longer expedient, they will turn on you. And it has started happening already.
There's a group of videogame fans who made a news blog so they could go to E3: Destructoid. They were all over the place, and doing some rather good interviews. Their schtick, to stand out from everyone else, is that one of them wears a robot mask like their site's mascot. They and Kotaku are clearly the best media coverage of this conference. They're so far past IGN and everyone else that it's not even fair to compare them. Weird and silly, but it's a videogame conference. Weird and silly is normal. Weird and silly is right.
Not everyone shares this view, though. Read what happened to Destructoid at the keynote. Political flack Doug Lowenstein refuses to take their perfectly reasonable question, because he doesn't want to talk to a guy in a robot head. Then the flack's group posts a rant about how "unprofessional" it is to ask a question with a robot head on.
The thing to learn from this is that no politician can be trusted. They are all lying, venemous, turncoat scum who will betray you in a heartbeat if they see an advantage. They are never on your side. They are never interested in the truth, they don't even know what that word means. They are never "one of you", they're just in it because they think they can get their name in print and make some money "representing" you for now. No videogame fan would bat an eye at answering a question from a guy with a robot head. Lowenstein is just another cowardly, venal politician.
All I have to say is this: If you spent more than 1 second smirking at the name Nintendo Wii, you are an idiot. Get off the 'Net until you finish grade school, please. If you wrote a long diatribe about it, you are retarded, and should be kept in an asylum without 'Net access at all.
People are missing the main logic here: Nintendo is a Japanese company. They need a single worldwide name which must be speakable and writable in Japanese, preferably have no predefined meaning in Japanese, and must also be speakable and writable in Roman letters. "Revolution" is literally unspeakable and unwritable in Japanese, and the Japanese "Kakumei" is hard for anyone else to write or pronounce. "Wi" is not a native Japanese syllable, so they don't have any problem with double meanings in Japanese. I don't think "Wii" is the best choice they could have made--they must know by now that almost everyone in the gaming press worldwide is retarded--but it does what they need.
LEGO has finally got some new information about the upcoming Mindstorms NXT. An article in Wired, Geeks in Toyland, covers the development, and the Mindstorms NXT FAQ answers more questions.
What I don't know yet is: 1) How much memory will it have? "Much more" is not useful information.
2) What real languages can you program it in? NQC was a decent language for the old Mindstorms RIS, but the RCX was so massively limited as a computer it was hard to do much of anything.
pbForth for the RCX was more powerful, but Forth in code again to I refuse. Programming languages should make life easier for the developer, not harder, and Forth gets this in reverse (<- pun for Forth programmers).
The Java environment for the RCX was cheating: the processing happened on your desktop machine, and it just commanded the RCX by IR remote. I want an autonomous robot, not a remote-controlled toy.
LEGO includes point-and-drool "programming" environments in the Mindstorms sets because they delusionally believe they're selling to non-programmers, even though their own sales numbers show otherwise. I really wish they'd just wise up and base it on Java 2 Micro Edition.
Since LEGO wising up seems unlikely, are there any alternatives? A nice J2ME controller, uses USB 2.0 for loading programs rather than burning ROM chips, some kind of mechanical assembly system that doesn't suck?
There's the Radio Shack VEX, but A) I really dislike buying low-quality/high-price parts from RatShack, and B) I don't want yet another custom language, which is what they're using.
There's the Javelin stamp, but A) it's a real electronics and mechanical engineering system, and I'm just an amateur at that stuff, and B) 32K RAM for a Java system is less than useless, it's just cruel mockery. They have a BASIC stamp, too. Eew.
Okay, at first I thought this was a joke, but apparently these people are really serious.
How... quaint. How very 20th Century.
I used to live out of my DayRunner(tm). It was the way I organized my schedule, remembered phone numbers, and kept notes. I'd insert another pack of pages every 6 months or so, and the book got huge. I also had to wear a watch at all times, and keep checking the watch and the schedule to see where I was supposed to be. If I forgot, I didn't show up.
There's a reason why people switched to PDAs instead. A stack of paper can't play an alarm for you. I don't wear a watch anymore, because I don't care what time it is, I care what tasks I have to accomplish, and how much time I have left to do them. You can't seriously edit a stack of paper, you'll end up with a mess that you have to copy, by hand, like some 13th Century monk. A stack of paper can't be searched except by fallibly eyeballing each page. You can't beam a stack of paper to someone else, you have to hand-copy it or go to a photocopier. And most importantly these days, you can use a PDA with a wireless Internet connection to use Google no matter where you are in the civilized world. You can't do that with a stack of paper.
Let me repeat that. I can be walking down the street or in a cafe or whatever, chatting with someone, and we need to know something... With paper, I'd have to write it down, try to remember to check that paper later, do the research, and get the answer back to that person. Now, I just whip out my Treo, type my keywords into Google, and I have the answer in 30 seconds top.
Google is the other half of my brain. My eyeballs aren't so good at finding one word in a stack of my horrible hand scrawl. Why would anyone lobotomize themselves with a little stack of paper instead of a serious tool?