January 19, 2005

Ninja Wizards!

Passed along by a work colleague in hopes that some laughter might stave off the chill.

For the past two days, our office has been around 55 degrees due to "technical problems." Amazing that it seems to be correcting itself... just before the building hosts one of the inaugural balls. Fortunately, no signs yet of a giant "W" hanging from the ceiling, although the Reagan building across the street seems to have already failed to avoid that fate.

You can't just walk into the Reagan building.

Yes you can. You totally can.

[it makes sense once you watch the little clip above. i'm not saying it'll be funny, but it will make sense.]

Posted by Jason at 3:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 3, 2005

iTuned Out

Several months ago, on our anniversary, my wife broke our "no gift agreement" and gave me a small gift card for iTunes, which many of you know as "the online music store transforming music sales," and what I know now as "the music store I will never use again."

Let me explain.

Fast forward to Christmas 2004, where my wife's parents generously gave us the nifty new Creative Zen Micro, a MP3 player equivalent to the iPod Mini. I'll likely comment later on the Zen itself, which I've so far found to be a zippy little player with some nice sound, though I wish the software were as nice as iTunes (a minor complaint - it works just fine). A few days after Christmas, I installed the software, charged my batteries, and ripped a few CDs to test out the player.

I've never been a huge MP3 collector; entering grad school somehow quashed my music appreciation inclinations, so while I had been a frequent concert attendee during my undergrad and high school days, most of my music in grad school consisted of a collection of jazz CDs on repeat as I smoked several packs of cigarettes through triple-all-nighters writing papers or cramming for exams. Grad school is many things, but it certainly isn't good for your health or your hobbies.

In this overly indulgent story, I will also foreground the fact that I'm generally a responsible computer user. I read the fine print, generally pay attention to how websites are set up, and so forth. But maybe I've gotten lazy, because I only partially grumbled when I wanted to use my iTunes Gift Card the other day only to discover that they wanted my credit card just to create an account. I'm just not comfortable with that. But I offer it up anyway, because I want some music to play on this nifty new player.

Yes, those of you in-the-know see where this is going. I sign up, find the Pixies album I want... and click "buy." Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure. Let's move to checkout. I expected the normal routine - the music was in my basket, and during checkout, I thought, I could enter my gift card number for payment.


The music began to download, and the $9.99 went straight to my credit card. Now, I'm sure I probably should've RTFM ("Read the Effin' Manual"), but given that almost every online shopping trip is the same, I suppose I might be forgiven for thinking about consistency in designing online experiences and interfaces. At that moment, I was merely annoyed - I didn't want to spend the money, but that just meant that a little mistake opened up the door for more music (after all, I still had the gift card to use, which I figured out how to redeem in order to add the amount to my account).

Until I tried to transfer my new Pixies over to my Zen. Nothing doing. I remembered in months past I had ripped some CDs to iTunes, and then converted them to MP3 from iTunes' format. So I tried converting the Pixies. Nothing doing, again. Apparently, any music actually downloaded through iTunes cannot be converted, and can be played only on certain supported players, such as - *gasp* - the iPod. Copyright protection.

And that, my friends, is the sum of my experience with iTunes. Now, I realize that I'm probably missing something, and I hope someone shares if I am, but does this mean that anyone who makes their music library out of iTunes music downloads is forever beholden to the iPod as their primary portable music player (not accounting for those who'll burn the music to a CD and play it in a portable CD player)? And how does this make the hippiepinkodownwithMicrosoftBeFree Apple any less controlling than their Gatesian counterparts?

Can we please all just come up with one standard?

Posted by Jason at 6:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


(Yet Another Game of The Year Awards)

But wait! It's a little different, because this one doesn't list any of the H2s (Halo2, Half-Life 2, etc.).

Game Tunnel has released their Independent Games of the Year awards. The #6 entry, Anito: Defend a Land Enraged, also won their 2004 RPG Game of the Year Award.

GameTunnel writes:

Play the game as Agila, and you will progress through the towns talking to key people in the towns, moving on to try and spread peace while trying to determine where your father has gone. Returning to play the game as Maya, gives players a completely different story in addition to adding a new perspective to what has really been occurring. It is amazing as you talk to some of the same characters and go to some of the same buildings how players can be involved in the same plot, but interacting in a completely different way depending on who they chosen to play as. Players discuss different things with the characters and come to understand different facets of the same storyline. The way the two storylines were woven together in addition to providing so much intrigue and mystery is something that any true adventure fan should experience.

Sounds interesting...

Anito also was a finalist in the 2004 Independent Games Festival.

Posted by Jason at 6:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wordherders in the News

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik sat in on the blogger get-together at the MLA conference last week and quoted a number of Wordherders in his article Bloggers in the Flesh. Wordherder quotes came from Matt K., dave(e), Chuck, and Zombie; bloggers Nick Montfort (of GTA fame) and Miriam E. Burstein (of The Little Professor) apparently made up the rest of the group gathering.

I'm curious who refered to who as his "blogparent."

It's also a shame that Scott decided to edit out all the references herders must have made about their Wordherder community. *wink elbow wink*

Posted by Jason at 6:08 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack