December 31, 2004
The Winner


The Winner, originally uploaded by Argyle.

Played poker last night and lost.

Brad held a tournament and in the end, Mr. P was the big winner.

Qoute of the night was Mr. P saying, "Do you have a defribrulator?" after winning a rather large pot.

I didn't do great, losing a bunch in an early bid to buy a pot. When I went out I had to go all in with a Ace Ten before the flop. I was the low stack and the blinds were rising. I got beat by pocket Aces. Not a bad beat, but a beat none the less.

Posted by michael at 10:12 AM
December 29, 2004
View from the 18th Floor

After lunch today was a huge, bright rainbow outside my building. Behold!

Mister P took the great photo.

Posted by michael at 02:14 PM
December 21, 2004
The case for risk

The reason this site exists is because of a man named Scott Jennings, sometimes known as Lum the Mad. Lum ran a 'rant site' back in late 90s about the state of Ultima Online (UO), the dominant MMORPG. This was before we called them weblogs and just called them 'web sites'.

Lum's commentary was funny and insightful. I started my site in an attempt to make my views on gaming known in a similar way. I actually met him in person at E3 one year and we chatted a while. A nice guy offline as well.

Well, Lum's current site is called Broken Toys and he's getting back into the groove of posting. One of his recent posts is about the role of grief playing in games. Go read it, I'll wait...

Well, as much as I respect Lum, I think he's wrong on this. He tells the truth about what UO was like 'back in the day' and it was a harsh place. When they created the harshest persistent world ever, Siege Perilous, we went there and we loved it. So did Lum, and he loved it too.

I thought alot about this kinda stuff when I played Ultima Online (four years). We called grief players "PKs" (Player Killers) and those that fought them were "antis" (anti-PK). Back in 2002 I wrote the following (slightly edited to make it more understandable to the non-UO player):

The case for risk.

I have fought against PKs since the beginning of my UO playing well over 4 years ago. My anti credentials are impeccable. I helped lead an anti-PK guild on my first shard and even moved to Siege Perilous, the 'PK shard', and worked as an anti-PK there. I have never PKed or even had a red character. My nightly gameplay involved hunting down the accursed scum and helping them enjoy a nice dirt nap. Be clear, I have no great love for PKs.

Regardless of my chosen playstyle, PKs are good for Ultima Online. How can an anti be advocating PKs remain in Ultima? The answer is really quite simple.

Without villains, there can be no heroes.

While fighting AI NPC monsters can be enjoyable, it cannot compare to fighting another person. Getting revenge on a PK that killed your guildmate is far greater satisfaction than killing a hundred blood elementals. Many enjoy fighting NPCs, but many find it tedious and predictable. Gaining paper doll titles for slaying endless hordes of monsters may appeal to some, but some require more from UO to enjoy it.

OSI's attempt's to replace PKing with guild war and factions are admirable, but still do not give players the real chance to be the good guy, the hero, or the force of good. Guild and faction wars allows players to engage in PvP combat, but to what end? These are simply substitutes for the real battle between good and evil. What greater evil is there than those that pray on the innocent? What greater good is there than those that protect other from evil?

Allow players to still be heroes. Allow players to still PLAY A ROLE, that they cannot play in real life. Allow players to do more than push the virtual lever of predictable response.

Keep surprise in UO. Keep risk in UO. Keep PKs in UO. Most of all, keep heroes in UO.

-Glendor

Since I wrote that, I've played Everquest, Asheron's Call, Shadowbane, Dark Age of Camelot, and currently World of Warcraft. They all lack the same thing, a chance to be a hero. The chance to put things at risk in the game.

The PvP servers allow player combat, but to what end? Capture territory and gain character improvement? Better access to "mobile bags of improvement"?

For all the pain of Ultima Online and it's allowances for griefing, it was a fleeting moment when the game mattered more than for bragging rights on the message boards.

Lum's right. Your gear was at risk. Your home was at risk. Camp a spot too long to farm monsters, the PKs would arrive. Your choices were simple, flee or fight. Confront the bad people or let them run amuck. NOTHING like this has existed since.

People like to look back and blame the game for the fact that they couldn't handle the true reality of a virtual world. They are wrong to blame the game.

Fucking Everquest and the rare pretty boy armor that took days to acquire and was never at risk once you had it became the norm. No drop & soulbound, all invented to deal with the fact that there is absolutely no real risk in any game since Ultima Online. Ebay sales of virtual gear that you couldn't lose became an issue because the risk in games was removed.

Alas, the day of risk is over. All of the MMORPG worlds are carebear worlds now. Many are happy over this, but something has been lost that was good.

Posted by michael at 09:11 PM
December 20, 2004
The Problem with Amazon & Wish Lists

The problem with Amazon & Wish Lists is that if you buy something off of SOMEONE ELSE'S wish list, Amazon thinks that YOU like it and suddenly the Amazon recommendations are all messed up.

C'mon, Mr. Bezos, you can see that this has just gotta get fixed before next holiday season...

Posted by michael at 10:31 AM
December 13, 2004
Old skills

Around 3AM I heard Daughter #1 calls me. I hop out of bed and amble into the girls room to see what's the matter.

"Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom.", she says. Not an unusual comment from the girls who still prefer to have me walk them to the bathroom in the dark of night.

She walks in, announces that her tummy hurts and proceeds to power puke into the toilet. Old skills kick into play and I pull her hair back to avoid an even bigger mess.

Back in Mesozoic Era when I was in college, I first learned that girls with long hair and puking just didn't mix well. Holding their hair out of the way while they drove the porcelain bus was the least you could do.

So there I was at 3AM holding the hair out of my eldest daughter's face so she could hurl in relative cleanliness. I chalked it up to my indulging them with ice cream during the day and candy after dinner.

I placed the sick one into my bed to sleep with Michele and I wandered up front to sleep on the couch.

At about 5AM, Michele appeared in front of me, ashed faced. "Um, Mikey? Um, we are all puking, I need a little help."

Sure enough all three girls had been puking sick while I slumbered. I took over the full nursemaid duties and began shuffling from bedroom to bathroom to bedroom, cleaning up and holding hair while my girls were sick. Sure enough some foul disease had struck the household.

Washing out a couple trash cans with the hose outside at 6AM is a novel way to wake up to the day. The fresh air was good. Using the plunger on not one, but two clogged toilets before breakfast is good morning exercise.

My basic remedy for all incidents of puking is Gatorade. You need that stuff to replace what you've been losing. Michele prefers 7-Up (not Sprite, mind you, it has to be 7-Up to have any medicinal purposes). Today she made the alternate call for Ginger Ale, another of her favored curealls. I run to the local liquor store to procure the supplies for the battle against upset tummies and run into a profoundly drunk man at 6:45AM having a conversation about lobster bisque with the clerk. Damn drunks...

On my drive home, an unpleasant rumble in my stomach makes it's announcement. No, I cannot be sick. Two sick parents caring for two sick children is something out of a bad made-for-TV movie.

I say to myself, "Self, you cannot be sick today. Any other day, you can be sick, but today you need to be strong and clean up puke all day." And so I am strong today, but I may be sick tomorrow.

Posted by michael at 02:58 PM
December 12, 2004
Joke of the morning

Early on Sunday morning, this is the joke being told endlessly in the houshold...

Q: Why did the toliet paper roll down the hill?

A: To get to the bottom!

(begin giggling)

Posted by michael at 09:33 AM
December 10, 2004
Dumping Symantec

I've used Norton/Symantec anti-virus software for over five years. After having assorted trouble with it along the way, the last straw was snapped this week.

In the latest update, the anti-virus scanner is broken where it prevents me from getting my mail. To get my mail, I had to turn off the scanner. It's a known problem with Symantec and they offer no good solution.

Enough is enough. I'm tried of uninstalling and reinstalling the software. I'm getting new anti-virus software.

After doing some research, I've narrowed it down to three candidates.

1) Trend Micro PC-Cillin Fast, inexpensive, full suite including anti-spyware
2) F-Secure - Full suite, includes Ad-aware integration, more expensive
3) Grisoft AVG - Fast, inexpensive, lacks anti-spyware

Any suggestions?

Posted by michael at 07:37 AM
December 08, 2004
Weblogger Legal Defense Fund

Recent events on the internet, like the trouble Jason Kottke has had with Sony, point to the need for a way for webloggers in the cross-hairs of well financed companies to defend themselves in the courtroom.  The freedoms of speech and the press are fundamental to America and must be fought for over and over

Jeff Jarvis called for a Blogger Legal Defense Society and others seem to agree

I'd like to help, but IANAL (I am not a lawyer) and IANAWD (I am not a web designer).  What I can do is host a web site and cover the costs of it.  As a result I registered wldf.org (Weblogger Legal Defense Fund) and set up the hosting for it as well.

Pease go take a look at wldf.org.

Posted by michael at 10:12 PM
December 06, 2004
Cats

Before I run out to lunch, a quick note.

I love that Tony Pierce doesn't like cats. I hate the fuckers. They know that I know that they are just watching us and waiting for chance to eat us.

They play that game with purring and rubbing your leg and shit, but I know it's all an act. Cats are lone hunters, stalking prey all the time. Wake up people, they will EAT you if you give them a chance.

Dogs are way different. Dogs are pack animals and stand by their group till death. Loyalty+++

If you don't read Tony's site, you should. His book, How to Blog, arrived this weekend. Didn't read much of it yet with girls, WoW, and the NFL keeping me busy, but hopefully sometime this week I can pick it up. The first page says 'none of this is true', I started laughing right there.

Posted by michael at 12:02 PM
December 04, 2004
The Triumphant Return of Gwar

Last night, Gwar played in Hollywood.

Earlier in the night was my company holiday where I shook many hands and drank a number of cocktails with my corporate co-workers. Around 8 o'clock I left and headed up Sunset to the Key Club where Gwar was playing.

Ready to become a loyal slave of Gwar, I changed into the requisite white t-shirt and headed to enter the club. Yoshi was the only one I knew brave enough to attend, but when we got there, the tickets were sold out. I had bought mine in advance, but Yoshi was out of luck.

Into the show I went and grabbed a beer. The last show was at the Whisky and cozy. The Key Club is bigger and has this stupid stairway down right in the middle of the floor.

After a good bit of crowd chanting 'GWAR! GWAR! GWAR!', the Scumdogs Of The Universe took the stage and it was on.


Beefcake the Mighty (L) and Oderous Urungus (R)

Pounding heavy metal riffs hit the crowd, and on stage Gwar dragged John Kerry onto stage and proceeded to cut his head off as a 'fucking loser'. The crowd went nuts.

The songs were fast and furious and so were the killings, just as Gwar demands. Next up was Governor Arnold, Paris Hilton, and Michael Jackson. Blood and fluids sprayed with abandon through upon the crowd.

Next up was perhaps the most un-politically correct victim of the show, Laci Peterson, who was brought on stage for destruction as well. Moving back into more familiar territory. Osama bin Laden took the stage and swung around his nuclear bomb to the strains of my favorite Gwar song, 'Bring Back the Bomb'. Damn I love that song.

Osama was dispatched promptly and no sooner than was his carcass dragged off stage did the 'special guest' appear. Oderous first thanked the crowd for electing the 'stupidest man ever' which is 'a very good thing for Gwar' as President. Soon President Bush appeared on stage and crowd went into frenzy. The President spoke a little to the crowd, began to masterbate, and then Oderous said 'Shut the Fuck Up' and cleaved him in half. The crowd completely lost it at this point and I thought the building would collapse from the sound and fury inside.

After that Oderous went into a more gentle number that I didn't know the name of and the blood rage of the crowd dropped a bit. Soon enough the 'most fearsome foe' Gwar has faced appeared on stage. The recently zombified Ronald Reagan had been combined with and M1 Abrams tank to form the Reaganator.


Oderous Urungus prepares to slay the Reaganator

After a titanic battle, the wily foe was slain and Oderous celebrated by covering the crowd in 'syphilitic pus' from his very own diseased phallus. We slaves were so lucky.

So, as all can plainly see, it was a great show. To those of you that could have gone, but didn't, you fucking suck.

Posted by michael at 08:51 AM