Archive for February, 2004

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February 29, 2004

Temperate Punishment
Everyone who’s enjoying the beautiful warm spell in Minnesota and, perhaps, the whole of the Midwest can thank me. It’s nice out because I’m behind on a book and, so, stuck in the office away from the windows. The nice weather is my punishment for procrastinating. You’re welcome.

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February 29, 2004

Tracking
Remember this thing? Here’s a little diversion for you; I got the link to this little Java-powered avatar-creation thingy from G.M. Skarka’s blog, then posted it here. Jeff Tidball got the link from this site, then put it on his. Rob Vaughn, developer at Fantasy Flight Games, saw it on Jeff’s site by chance, and has now written an FFG rant about it, which I just saw this morning. Now it’s back here. Hypertext … in action.

Noise: Juno Reactor, “Pistolero”

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February 27, 2004

You is an English word.
One sign that you’ve been staring at words on a monitor for too long is the way your eyes, desperate to see something new, begin to change the telemetry they send to your brain. A word at a time, they transform sensible things in the world into bizarre anamolies in your head. Shifty bastards.

In this case, by appearing alone on a line in Quark, a familiar word becomes some syllable imported from the Far East. It’s an exotic stranger, a traveling androgyne. After staring at it for a good minute and tipping my head to one side, I start to recognize this very old acquaintance for who she is. “Oh,” I say, “it’s you. Almost didn’t recognize you.”

(Cross-posted at the Atlas Dispatches)

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February 27, 2004

Majority of NY Crosswalk Buttons Do Nothing

This article in today’s NY Times reveals that more than 2,500 of the 3,250+ crosswalk signal buttons in New York City have been deactivated for years. They’re now little more than “placebos,” according to the article. Cynics throughout the city feel vindicated. Conspiracy theorists feel relieved.

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February 26, 2004

Hell Yes: Thief 3
The official website for Thief 3 (Thief: Deadly Shadows) has gone live after sitting teasingly idle for something like a year. This game is one of the reasons I bought an Xbox. I adore the Thief series of games and am happy to see that they seem to have kept the games’ hand-drawn art style and strong black-on-color palette for this third outing. These are the games that make me want to be a video game developer.

Go and peruse the terrific design art and take a look at the screenshots for some great examples of handsome and immersive setting design. I don’t want to play this up to a ridiculous level (outside my own head), but Thief had two great games out before Splinter Cell was designed. It set the bar in more ways than one.

Let me blunt and clear about this: If you, whoever you are, get the Thief license for hobby games, especially RPGs, you must hire me to develop your product. Hire me. No one would do a better job.

That is all.

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February 25, 2004

Shrove Tuesday
Why? Because I seldom get to use the word shrove, that’s why. Stop picking on me. But wait, I’m not Catholic, I’m not participating in Marti Gras, and I have to be constantly reminded that Ash Wednesday is imminent by recurring news stories about how some guy somewhere said Mel Gibson’s new movie says that Jews hated Christ. I’m not what you’d call the target audience for Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Tuesday? Heard that today for the first time. So why am I on about Shrove Tuesday?

Simply, because I love the titles that religions give their holidays, and these are the days when some of the streets in Christiantown turn off their neon signs and get all archaic. It’s the most fascinating Catholic holiday, so far as I’m concerned. I don’t know what Quinguagesima Sunday is, exactly, but I know that reading it is a treat for the eyes.

I spent Shrove Tuesday dealing with viruses (sic). Got sick last night, with the sore throat and the headache, and kept it up today with the not eating and the feeling like I was swallowing blades. Good times. Am feeling better-ish now, but got half as much done today as I would’ve liked, because of other viruses. I set up the home network, got it running, then immediately contracted some XP-attracted virus with an Eastern European-sounding name. Spent a lot of time not getting the computer to work and seething. Now I’ve found that firewalls get in the way of the iTunes store, so you can imagine my glee. Once all that was done, I was behind schedule today even for an ordinary business day, and not one spent at the office with all the distractions of phone calls and emails, etc. Not a good week for me to be behind, either. Dammit.

All the same, right now I’m in rather decent spirits. Brendan Frasier (who gets cast to play me in the movie more often than anyone else, to my surprised delight) was funny and, again, touching on Scrubs, the show that’s good not because I say so but because it is. Soon I’m off to bed to pretend that the episode didn’t get to me as much as it did. But not before I get at least one sentence into this paragraph that doesn’t end with a bland past-tense verb. That’s better.

Since you don’t care what I did today, I give you something of substance to read: Author Chris Jones, who’s writing the Feng Shui book after the one I’m currently freaking out about (at left), has been writing regular updates from his current research trip to Hong Kong. They’ve been funny and entertaining reading thus far. You’ll find those here.

Finally, I leave you with this, the forerunner in the Word that Doesn’t Resemble It’s Meaning category:

pulchritude \PUL-kruh-tood; -tyood\, noun:
That quality of appearance which pleases the eye; beauty; comeliness; grace; loveliness.

Noise: VAST, “Touched”

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February 23, 2004

How Bad Reviews Work
Someone, miles and miles away, types their opinion into some Internet medium, like a message board, a blog, or an email. They don’t have all the information that explains why your book ended up like it did, but that shouldn’t matter. They review what they get, as is the best they can.

Miles and hours away, you read the review and are angered, unsettled, or devastated. The reviewer’s angst, displeasure, or raw bile seeps into the work you’re doing now. You fret and falter. You doubt, guess, and second-guess. How could you have been so blind? How could you have missed this problem or not made that decision? What were you thinking?

The opinion of a stranger stands out like a rock in the fog; your work hits it and your trajectory changes. You spiral off, spinning out of control for a time, then get over it and set off on your slightly altered course.

Still, you’re unsure, uneasy, and unhappy. You worry. Then you go to your blog to unload and commiserate. Then you get back to work. Make the next one better.