Friday, August 31, 2007

Blog Day 2007!

I didn't know about this until I read it on Leah's Blog a few moments ago, but today is Blog Day. What, you might ask, is Blog Day?

    BlogDay posting instructions:

    1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
    2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2007
    3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
    4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
    5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: and a link to the BlogDay web site at
So here's my five blogs, in no particular order:

1. My Old Kentucky Blog: I ran into this blog back during the Vista outreach days, but it kind of fell off my radar until I was looking for something this morning. Now that I'm cramming my Google Reader full of everything, I subscribed and have been going to back to check out all of his posts. Really great site for music.

2. Copy, Right?: Along the same lines as #1, Copy, Right? is an MP3 blog devoted to nothing but cover songs. There's some great stuff on here (and this, incidentally, is what I was looking for this morning.)

3. the other leftie Seattle political blog. I actually cheated and found this yesterday, following a link from the Slog, but whaddyagonnado.

4. Londonist: News and goings-on in London. Part of the Gothamist network, of which regular read Seattlest is a member.

5. Their site sums it up best: "Welcome to the post-apocalyptic (PA) movie page, where we are in the process of reviewing and logging as many trashy wasteland based post-nuke films as possible." What's not to love?

So what about you, Puppeteers? Got anything worth reading? Get your comments all up in my comment grill.

The Portishead of J Alfred Prufrock

Another one to add to the "I should have done it when I had the idea" bin. In college, I thought mashing up TS Eliot reading his own poetry with electronic music would be awesome. Apparently, so this this fellow. Via MeFi.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Turnabout is Fair Play

By now, I'm sure you've seen the Miss Teen South Carolina geography gaffe videomeme that's been floating around. And I'm sure you've had a good laugh at her expense, when she talks about maps and "the Iraq." Blonde beauty queens are so stupid, laff out loud amirite?

In one of the most amazing bits of turnabout and fair play (Seth sent it to me), Lauren Caitlin Upton hosts a quick little video geography quiz on She gets a chance to snicker at you as you stumble through some pretty simple geography questions.

This is pure goddamned new media genius, and here's why.

1. It's clever. It's not overly sarcastic. It communicates its message without being overbearing. It's not in your face, but its obvious enough to get. It's subtly subversive, my favorite kind of response. "Sure, you laughed at me, and yeah I fucked up. But I can laugh at you a bit too." Fucking brilliant.

2. It's viral. Because of the set-up of the quiz, they can't put it on YouTube (and the site is getting pounded as I write this) but the link is already going around. Seth sent it to me, and I Twittered it and emailed it to my coworkers. It's already on forums as well. Why? It's easy to use, easy to approach, and not intimidating. Again - the simple response is sometimes the best response.

3. It's fast. When did the Miss Teen SC video first go up, Tuesday? Monday at the absolute earliest? This is Thursday - an eternity in "Internet time," but still four days to create something that's obviously professional, that took some thought and creativity, and is polished. It's ludicrously fast to get something like this online considering how traditional media and traditional PR typically works. Bravo.

I'm not sure who's responsible for this, but they deserve an award. Excellent, excellent work, new media people.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Moment of Clarity

It's odd: every moment of great or profound change or insight in my life is almost always preceded by a moment where I recognize that I am sublimely happy with the people I know and the friends I have.

I'm not trying to be cagey, and I'll post more about this in the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And Now.. My Facebook

I'm expanding my social networking horizons. I'm now a Facebook member! You'll have to be logged in to see my profile, but if you're on, add me.

16 Observations on Social Design

I grabbed this off Leah's Twitter stream: the 16 Observations on Social Design by Joshua Porter, on his blog Bokardo. It's a good read, and these are good things to remember whenever you're interacting with people (specifically in groups, IE forums) online. #16 is probably my favorite: "Because life in not deterministic, we cannot always predict human behavior."

Anyone who doesn't believe this should sit by and watch months worth of carefully-laid plans about an announcement start to crumble as the community picks up on something you never dreamed they'd care about, and turn your positive announcement into something that's going to make you pull a "long weekend" shift. HeroClix fans, I'm looking at you.

That Post Below? Irrelevant.

After a good midday conversation with Seth, I've discovered that I can now simply share my Shared items in Google Reader via an RSS feed.

Subscribe to my Shared Items.

Link Roundup

I hate doing this, but I've got so many cool links stacking up that I am going to put them all into one post without much commentary. If it sounds interesting to you, check it out.

That's all folks. Until the next time my Starred Items pile up in my Google Reader.

Fallout 3 Community Questions

The Fallout 3 Blog posted a list of 25 questions about Fallout 3 generated by the fan community. Bethesda has taken a slightly different approach to the Fallout community with this game than I might have taken, but it's great to see that a) Bethesda is making a good effort, and b) the questions are really good and really responsible (not a single instance of "rape the franchise.") In other words, company and community have met on a middle ground, and I hope this is the start of a good relationship.

I'm not kidding anyone - I'll be picking up a copy of Fallout 3 on the day it's released even if it's nothing more than Brahmin dung in a box (which I don't think it will be.) But I'm very curious about the questions the fans asked. It's also interesting to note how many of the questions relate to gameplay mechanics and interface. Game companies, take note: release fewer trailers and more videos of gameplay in action. Rockstar, I'm looking at you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

When You Were 12

Saw this on SA and it was too good not to share:

When You Were 12

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Interviewing A New Boss

It's always strange interviewing someone who might be your new boss, or a person of authority to whom you would be accountable. It always makes me think of this:

If you want this choice position,
Have a cheery disposition.
Rosie cheeks, No warts,
Play games, all sorts
You must be kind, you must be witty.
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets.
Never be cross or cruel,
Never feed us castor oil, or gruel.
Love us as a son and daughter,
And never smell of barley water.
If you won't scold and dominate us,
We will never give you cause to hate us.
We wont hide your spectacles so you can't see.
Put toads in your bed and pepper in your tea.
Hurry nanny, many thanks
Jane and Michael Banks

The Fictional Galaxy Anyone Can Edit

Too cool for school: via Boing Boing, "Galaxiki, the Fictional Galaxy Anyone Can Edit.

Dynamic, open-source fiction: galactic empires could literally rise and fall based on the creativity of the writers, the amount of time invested, and it can happen in "hyper"time - faster than real time. Entire histories can be written and changed in a matter of minutes.

Or, it could end up a mud-mire of vandalism and egoism.

Either way, it's a hella-cool, interesting experiment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The New View From My Office

My old office was four white walls in an interior hallway with no windows.

It was lonely to say the least.

This is what I see when I turn around in my cubicle at my new office.

Not too shabby, eh?

Also, I love the way the clouds look in this shot. Anyone who says clouds can't be expressive has never been to Seattle.

(Picture credit to a coworker who asked to remain anonymous.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Getting "Away"

I spent the lion's share of this past weekend on an overnight backpacking trip in the Cascades. Crabby found a good trail about 10 miles east of Steven's Pass: a little more than 2 miles and about a 1000-foot gradual elevation change into an alpine meadow with plenty of water sources. Perfect for my first backpacking trip in more than 12 years. So we set out on Saturday and hiked in, spent the majority of the afternoon reaching the meadow and relaxed for the rest of the day. It was very peaceful and extremely remote: there were two other groups of hikers on their way out, but that night we were likely the only human beings for about 15 miles in any direction.

It rained most of Saturday night and all of Sunday, including for our hike out, but it wasn't a downpour - more of a Seattle-style sprinkling. I managed to soak my boots because I didn't wear long pants, but we came back in the middle of the afternoon a little waterlogged but much relaxed.

Which leads me to something I've been thinking about lately. Why is it we - I - feel the need to get "away" to get away? I find it very difficult to relax in a situation where the pressures of my job/home projects/etc. are around me. When I'm at home, every time I walk past the kitchen door I think "that trim needs to be painted, that wall needs a bit of patch and paint." At work - well let's just say that my email pretty much turns me into a freak the entire time I'm here, and most of the time I'm away from work as well. I'm tethered to my Windows Mobile Device(tm), which in turn tethers me to my office.

Why "away" to be away? Is it that hard to relax in my own surroundings? Aren't houses supposed to be homes, places of refuge where you go at the end of the day to unwind?

I'm not complaining, I'm genuinely curious about this odd habit, because I know I'm not the only one who does this.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Prepare to Poop Your Pants

Remember when you bought your Soundwave Transformer back in the day, and Soundwave looked like a tape player but didn't actually, you know, play tapes?

Then Seth sends me this: the Soundwave MP3 player.

Anyone have a fresh pair of drawers?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A "Virtual" Minefield of Spoilers

I'm very excited about BioShock coming out next week. I downloaded the demo and played it through, and I'm planning on another playthrough in the next couple of days. Except for the demo being linear (which the final game is expected to address somewhat), I have no real complaints.

But after Toys 'R Us broke BioShock's streetdate, the Internet is now a minefield of spoilers. So much so that I'm taking every measure I can not to read anything about BioShock at all anymore.

Spoilers are a tricky thing. As my wife can attest, 99% of the time I spoil things myself. I look up a movie on IMDB so I know the twist (if I haven't guessed it already.) I read the last few pages of a book so I know how it ends. Most of the time, I don't really care.

But I realize I'm in the minority. There's people who spoil things maliciously, and I don't understand that. For example, before the Harry Potter book hit, I lost track of the number of posts on Something Awful designed to spoil the book. There's video of people walking into a bookstore and spoiling who died and didn't die to crowds of children. The "manliness" of what is essentially beating up a child notwithstanding, I don't get why people have to be killjoys about these kinds of things. Just because I know the ending doesn't mean I'm going to go ruin it for anyone else. It's tacky and it's selfish and it's probably a little sociopathic, not unlike hurting a defenseless creature or person.

At any rate, I enjoyed playing System Shock 2 a lot, and the "big reveal" about halfway through that game is easily one of my favorite moments in gaming, if not my top favorite. I expect BioShock to have similar reveals, and I don't want to fuck it up for myself by accidentally reading about it. In fact, if it happens with the lights off at 3 AM just like the reveal in System Shock 2 happened to me, all the better.

And for those of you who intentionally spoil things for people: you're a bunch of morons and to paraphrase Shepherd Book, there's a special place in hell for you along with child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

What's In A Name?

Naming things is the single-hardest thing about writing, at least for me. That's not actually true - self-discipline to write is the single-hardest thing about writing. But naming things comes a close second.

I have spent hours staring at computer screens, trying to decide what to call a character or a place or an institution. And not just when I'm writing. Take the rousing game of Civ 4 I've been playing: after I've run through all the towns in which I've lived, places from fantasy books I like (Lord of the Rings followed by Game of Thrones followed by Ravenloft with Arrakis thrown in for good measure), what do I start naming my new settlements?

The thing is, I'm just not very good at it. I hate naming NPCs in my RPGs for the same reason. A name should be something significant. It should say something about the character or place that rewards the reader, or makes the character or place stick out in the reader's mind (what this has to do with naming cities in Civilization, which no one but me will ever see, I don't know.) There's a lot of pressure in a name. A name must deliver.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled puppet show.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike Wieringo RIP

When I was getting back into comics in the early 2000s, Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo's amazing run on the Fantastic Four was a primary reason why I started picking up the funnies again. I read this morning on Mike passed away this weekend at the age of 44. Not your typical geek, he was a vegetarian and in great health according to the Newsarama post about it.

Wieringo's art style was just on the cartoony side of realistic, and he drew a sexy Sue Storm. More importantly, he clicked amazingly well with Mark Waid on their FF run. It's rare when an artist and writer click as well as they obviously did (Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale come to mind as another team that clicks), and it's sad to know that a reunion will never take place.

Thanks Mike, for making a True Believer out of me again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Writing Things

Is what I've been doing this weekend. The creative juices were flowing (and the deadline was approaching) so I cranked out a short story for the next Blue Kingdoms anthology. The first draft is done, but I think it's going to need a little more work to get it to where I want it to be. Sometimes it can be hard to do genre-writing without being ironic or even sarcastic, but I think I walked the line pretty well in this story.

While I'm on the subject of writing, Lifehacker posted a link to an awesome online writer's resource - a massive collection of links to various online tools. It's like that "writer's toolkit" software I used to have back in high school and college, except online and free. Worth bookmarking for sure.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Can't Blog:

Playing Civ 4: Beyond the Sword.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Jericho Seyz "Thanks!"

I wish I could have been at Comic Con this year. Some of my friends were, and I even mentioned those friends should check out the Jericho panel. I doubt those friends did, but CBS was kind enough to release the "thank you" reel from that panel (NUTS!) on YouTube. I know that's two Comic Con-related, YouTube posts in a row, but who cares. Contains raw footage of Season 2 with spoilers. NUTS!

Via the SA forums.

Mother of God (Futurama)

Futurama's coming back, coming back, coming back! And they showed a trailer at Comic Con, which I didn't get to see.

But now thanks to the Internet (and CrunchGear, the trailer is now online! See YouTube below.

Oh Jimmy crack corn, and Bender's great. Jimmy crack corn, and Bender's great!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My New Car, or How I Became a Community-Based Corporate Shill

In the war of "my giant money-grubbing corporation is better than your giant money-grubbing corporation," many of my peers have taken sides. Some like Apple. Some like DC (comics for you noobs out there.) Some like WotC and the d20 system (RPGs, noobs.) Some like Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

This is what new marketing people dream about when we sleep, when we're not dreaming of Great Cthulhu that is. Community members so attached to a product they paid money for that they will go out, for free, and advertise that product. They'll tell their friends and write about it in their blogs. It's the online equivelant of wearing a brand on your t-shirt, or your favorite NASCAR racer's jacket with his corporate sponsors' logos all over it - you're paying to do a company's work for it.

I used to think I was better than that. Above it. I'm on the inside, right? I ought to know better?

Yeah, well, then I got a new car. My brand-spanking-new, a little more than 100 miles on it Toyota Prius. And boy howdy do I love it and you're going to hear about it.

We decided on the Prius at the culmination of a six-month car search. We had the following criteria for a new car:

  • Low road noise. Our old car was a real rattletrap, especially above 40 MPH or on rough roads.
  • Good gas mileage. Even if it meant paying more, I'd rather that money was going to a company that was trying to innovate gas-saving technology rather than an oil company. Also, fuck you Dick Cheney.
  • A comfortable ride. I'm a big, tall guy. My lower back starts hurting when I'm crammed into most car seats.
  • Red. This was actually Liz's preference; I could care less what color a car is.
So we test-drove five or six different cars that fit those criteria and also fit into our budget. I'd been impressed with Audis in the past, and we had a nice test-drive of an A4, but the mileage wasn't great and the frankly it wasn't as comfortable as the Prius. The Civic was far too small. The Jetta was also uncomfortable. And the Mini doesn't have a backseat to speak of.

But the Prius was an advanced winner almost from the beginning. The car is really roomy - surprisingly roomy, actually. The backseat is bigger than the Taurus I rode in when my parents were out last month. It feels like a midsized car, and it handles exceptionally well. Not quite as good as the Audi, but that's not really a surprise. For its price and size, it was more than enough.

And yeah, it's a hybrid and it gets great gas mileage. I test-drove a Prius back in 2001 for a magazine article, and at the time the car seemed more of a gimmick than an automobile - like a Go-Kart, Liz said. I agree. This feels like a real car. It's great to ride in, the gas mileage is superb, and I'll get a tax credit for it this year. Not too shabby.

So look out people: I'm now a Prius evangelist. If you're around me for any length of time, prepare for my spiel on how awesome this car is. You've been warned.

Also - pictures here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Where Have I Been? (Where Is My Mind?)

Doing something new and exciting. More post and pictures coming soon.