Thursday, March 27, 2008

On Apple Keynote

I'll be the first to admit when I'm wrong, but in this instance I feel more justified than anything else. I'm also one to avoid a hype bandwagon, sometimes (I'll admit) to my own detriment when something I would normally find cool is hyped to the point where it can't simply be that good. Especially when the person doing the hyping is one I tend to disagree with.

But I digress. I've had the pleasure these last couple of days of working extensively with Apple's Keynote software. For you PC scrubs out there, Keynote is to Apple what Powerpoint is to PC. Well that's not entirely true, because you have to own Apple-branded hardware to run this Apple-branded software (monopoly cough) while you can run Powerpoint on a Mac. But seriously, why would you want to?

When it comes to one functional program over I generally don't really care what I use. Features are the first dealbreaker; OpenOffice, for example, fucked up the formatting on my work documents so I scrapped it after a couple of weeks. UI is the second dealbreaker; how easy is the program to use? More importantly, how intuitive is it? I don't have a problem changing my habits to switch from one version of a program to another if the learning curve is low enough that it doesn't matter - and to its credit, Office 2007 is awesomely easy to learn.

But Powerpoint has always been my nemesis. I have never had a violent impulse from a video game, but Powerpoint has made me contemplate murder and other kinds of sociopathic behavior. Its autoformatting is a piece of shit and it just isn't easy to use - it's not intuitive.

Keynote is Powerpoint without the annoying bits. It is so ludicriously intuitive you'd think it was reading your mind. It gives you everything you need to adjust your slides automatically rather than making you hunt for them through a series of nested menus. It's almost fun to use.

I doubt I'm going to run out and buy a Mac anytime soon, but this does offer one answer to my favorite question for Macheads: what about a Mac actually makes it better than a PC (other than 'It's not Windowz LOL' or 'it just works,' which is a crock of shit.) Keynote kicks ass. I wish I could buy it for my PC.

Transparency Disclaimer: I worked (but no longer do so) on Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit PR team in the Digital realm.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


There's something about the texture and feel of paper that I like. I don't feel the need to read things on paper - I'm fine with the movement of fiction to digital forms - but paper itself, the pulp beneath the ink, is something irreplaceable. My favorites are heavier and grainier varieties; construction paper, comic book paper, the stuff they made paperback novels out of in the 1980s. It has a certain dry feel to it like nothing else and makes a strange and chilling noise when you rub two sheets of it together. In my memory it is forever associated with reading in the back of the classroom in grade school, in stuffing a copy of Jurassic Park in my earth science book in junior high, or in buying copies of Groo before it changed to the higher-quality glossy format.

I also remember my mother taking me to COSI in Columbus and showing me the papermaking exhibit on the Street of Yesteryear, which is another vault of great memory all on its own.

For all my digital knowledge and my daily use of computers and the sheer volume of text I read online each day, I suppose there is a reason I've never read a novel on the Internet before and have no plans to do so.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Allow Myself To, Uh, Play With Myself

So one of the things I've been doing in my free time lately is playing through old Sierra games - specifically, Quest for Glory games. I got the idea to try a 'Let's Play' for these games on the good old SA forums. I realized after investing quite a few hours into this that I should probably make a more permanent record than SA for these things - so I started another blog. Classic Let's Play. For playing classic games.

If you're so inclined, check it out. It's not up to date with the actual LP thread yet, but I'll keep updating it when I have a free second here and there.

Also if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about as far as Let's Play goes - it's a subculture of gamers and people who watch other people play video games and attempt to make humorous comments along the way. Yes, it's geeky. It's really geeky. But at least it's not fan fiction.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thank You Gary Gygax

On my way out of work today I noticed a couple of emails and some rumblings on Twitter and online that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away. It was soon confirmed and has since hit CNN. I'm still a little shocked, and I almost cried a bit on the way home.

I met him once for only a few seconds but he seemed like a very nice guy, genuine and fun. I won't pretend that I knew him because I didn't - I've heard the stories and have very little to form my own opinion of him aside from a handshake and a few seconds of dialogue - but what he did for me personally is immeasurable.

When I was young I struggled with acceptance for many reasons, not the least of which was a tendency to be more concerned about creative things like looking out the window and imagining stories and dreams than being worried about baseball mitts and football cleats. In my small town, there weren't a lot of kids like me. There was a guy who lived down the street named Nick and we were cut from the same cloth; we read Lone Wolf and played Starflight and Bard's Tale and King's Quest. And we played D&D.

I bought the now-infamous first-ed books used for $5 each. I still have them somewhere too, with the green electrical tape binding the DMG together just as it was when I purchased it when I was 12 years old. And in those books we found a world apart, one that we could create on our own and populate with creatures and things and characters of our choosing. The world that Gary helped make possible.

There have been writers who have been far more influential in my life, some of whom I've had the great pleasure to get to know well and call my friends. But Gary's efforts helped start it all. He helped make it OK to have an imagination and not get beaten up because you'd rather imagine yourself as a ranger slaying drow than catching a touchdown pass.

He left the world a better place for many people who otherwise might not have been OK with who they are.

So: thank you Gary. From the bottom of my heart.