Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Train Wreck

Eli 13.1 had a scrimmage out of of town last weekend (his team outshot 48-10, he had 45 saves and they lost 4-3 in a shootout), and while we were gone, I caught some kind of respiratory virus. So I felt like crap today, then at 1:30 Eli called from school and said he was sick, too.

With something entirely different. What are the odds?

At about 4 p.m., with Gloria holding down the fort, I decided to go get some chicken soup for dinner, and Chic-Fil-A was the closest place. I drove up and here's what I saw:


Seriously? So that's been my day.

Eli and I have this very odd synchronicity about illness, and we've had it for years. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, he's usually sick with 36 hours. It's never the same illness, though. I know he's not faking, and he's often more sick than I am, but it means I never get enough rest when I'm ill, which is exhausting.

So no additional posts today. I'm going to get what rest I can and hopefully be better tomorrow.
b


Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and this is an unsettling, fascinating read: The Online Legacy of a Suicide Cult and the Webmasters Who Stayed Behind.

From J.R. Parnell, and the unexpected implications of genetic testing continue to interest: With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce.

From Dan Willhite, and yes, this is fantastic: 20 Fun Grid Facts (Hex Grids).

From Steven Davis, and this is both unexpected and tremendous: Images of the Leonid meteor storm of 1833. Also, and while is a bit longish (25 minutes), it's excellent: What's in a Ballet Shoe.

From Dan Rowland, and this is hilarious: Our Ancestors Wore Babies Into Battle.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is the future, it's A War Photographer Embeds Himself Inside a Video Game.

From Jonathan Arnold, and this is terrific: 365 Paintings for Ants with Lorraine Loots.

From Tim Lesnick, and this is certainly one of the greatest headlines ever: SHERIFF: BURNED ARMPIT HAIR LED TO IDAHO CAR CRASH.

This very short film is entirely wonderful: Practice!

DQ Reader My Wife sent this along, and these images are stunning: Finalists Of The 2014 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition Will Leave You Wanting More.

The incredibly Laura Shigihara's new game, Rakuen: Paradise Found, has a new trailer.

One more, and art forgery never fails to fascinate (me, at least): Talking With America’s Best Art Forger and the Man Who Tracked Him Down.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If You're Curious

If you're a non-UK reader who is curious about the Scottish independence vote (which has already happened earlier today, with results about to start tricking in), this looks like a decent spot to follow what's happening:
Scottish referendum results - live coverage of the independence vote.

It's All The Rage

Gloria is in the kitchen, some small something appears to be broken, and she's putting gloves on.

"I've just accepted that I can't use super glue without getting it on my hands, so gloves," she said.

"That's a good idea," I said. "Plus, if you don't use gloves, you have to be super careful if you need to make a vag adjustment."

She looks at me.

"Well, guys need to make crotch adjustments," I said. "That could be a disaster in a super glue retention situation."

"We do not make VAG adjustments," she said. "There's nothing to adjust."

"I got you," I said. "I just like saying the word. Female comedians have this hip thing now where they combine "vag" with something else to make new words, and it's hilarious."

"I'm glad you enjoy that," she said.

"Plus, it's easy," I said. "I bet I can do one right now." I pause for a few seconds, thinking. "Okay, here's one: what do you call an all-female city?"

"I'm afraid to even guess," she said.

"A Vag-opolis!" I said. "See?"

"I am not going to encourage you," she said.

Questions I'd Never Considered, #3 In A Series

This was on the menu of a restaurant we went to Sunday night:


I looked at Gloria and said, "I wonder how long they have to scrape the seal?"

Summer intern wanted. Must be dexterous with giant tongue depressors and large marine mammals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As A Counterbalance To All The Depressing News Lately

We'll be having Very Silly Thursday tomorrow.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson (NFL star) hit his four-year-son repeatedly with a switch.

The switch left "welts" on his buttocks, as well as lacerations on his thighs and hands. Plus one laceration on his scrotum. The pictures are difficult to view, and they were taken a full week after the incident.

Adrian Peterson, in his carefully worded public statements, always brings up that his own father beat him with a switch. That's how he was raised, he says.

Adrian Peterson is 6'1", 217 lbs. His son, if he's of average size (and he doesn't look big for his age), is 3'6" and about 40 lbs.

If Adrian Peterson forced an adult to take his/her clothes off, then beat her or him with a switch, leaving multiple, visible wounds, it would be a crime, and a serious one. How can there somehow be circumstances where physical abuse from an adult--that would be a crime were it done to another adult--can somehow be considered acceptable or even appropriate when done to a child?

This is very, very sad.

Ray Rice (your e-mail)

Ian Tyrrell sent this in last weekend:
I just wanted to point out that when you say that female->male domestic violence is considerably rarer than the other way around, you may hurt any of the male victims who read your posts by belittling their experience.

In Australia it's called 'family violence', which I think makes it feel worse (rightly so) than 'domestic violence', but over here, and I'd assume it would be similar in the US, the rate of male victims is actually around 1 in 3, or even higher [in the U.S. it's roughly 1-6]. There's some interesting reading about it here: http://www.oneinthree.com.au/overview/.

I used to think that violence of this type was purely enacted by men, but after having interacted with some male victims, I can see that I was completely wrong. But I imagine that my response was fairly typical when first hearing about it. What would your first thought be if a friend told you his wife had hit him?

I'd love it if family violence of all types was a thing of the past, but unfortunately it's definitely still a reality now, and it is very much not relegated to men beating women. 

This was certainly not my intention.

While men are, on average, larger and stronger than women (and we generally have much higher testosterone levels), that's not to imply that women never hit men, or that men can't be injured as a result. Statistics do not matter when you're getting punched in the face.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gridiron Solitaire #122: Marketing and Ideas

I've gone through about 800 of the 1200 entries in the Game Youtubers Megalist, which is a massive list of YouTube gaming channels.

I've learned some stuff.

First off, only a tiny fraction of these channels play sports games. A slightly larger fraction play indie games, but slightly. Minecraft is staggeringly popular, though, as is Nintendo.

Out of the 800 channels I've checked, I've found 16 that might be appropriate locations for a Gridiron Solitaire inquiry. Yes, that's 2%.

If even 1 out of 5 are willing to make a Let's Play of the game, or even mention it, that would be a nice outcome. That would be a final hit rate of .4%.

Such is marketing an indie game.

That's okay, though. Like I said last week, I'm okay with the long haul.

Gloria was in Dallas Saturday night, and Eli 13.1 was spending the night at a friend's house, so I was by myself. I had a list of things I was going to do, but at some point early on, I tried to remember the last time I was alone in the house and wasn't working on something.

For the life of me, I couldn't remember. Four years, at least.

So on Saturday night, I sat on the couch and watched football, reading when the commercials came on. Played NHL 15 on the PS4. Consciously did nothing that could even resemble work (even though, funny to say, it was hard).

On Sunday, I had a wild idea out of the blue that I immediately loved, even though it's highly unlikely that it will ever make its way into the game. What if those "big images" shown in the game were "big animations" instead? So instead of an image of a receiver catching a touchdown pass that displays for 5 seconds, there would be an animation of a receiver catching a touchdown pass. It would display for the same 5 seconds, but there would be so much more energy coming from an animation than a still image.

There are lots of practical objections to doing that, though, and like I said, it probably won't ever make it into the game. It's a sexy idea, though.

I talked to DQ Legal Advisor Lee Rawles last week, and he asked if I had ever considered adding a college variant of the game.

I have, actually. I've thought about adding a 32-team college version and integrating it with the existing "pro" version, with a relegation mechanic that would shuffle two teams a year.

The relegation mechanic in soccer is fantastic. It's entirely fascinating, and as a game mechanic, it would be just as good.

This would be set up so that if you won the college championship, you'd have the option of taking your team to the pros. You wouldn't be forced to play at one level or another, though. It would be entirely flexible.

Structurally, I think that works very well.

What doesn't work well is that I have no way to distinguish the gameplay of the college version from the pro version, and without that, there's no reason to consider doing it. College football has distinct gameplay from the NFL--faster, higher scoring, and more wide-open offensively, and I would have to capture that same feeling for there to be a reason to add the college structure.

So far, I haven't, so for now, it's an interesting but ultimately unworkable idea.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Notch

Notch sold Minecraft today.

He put out this statement, and here are a few excerpts:
I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

...I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

I was sitting in my "satellite office" (P. Terry's) reading his statement, and the song playing in the background was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (one of my very favorites). So I was reading, but I also heard this:
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

I know this is going to sound odd for someone who just sold a game for 2.5B, but I've always felt a kind of sympathy for Notch. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik created Penny Arcade, and it's become so vast that it's hard to even conceive, but it happened over a period of years. The relative speed was tremendous, but not so great that they became unmoored. Minecraft, though, was different. Notch created a tiny thing that became so vast he was almost entirely swept away.

There are certainly people who court fame, who desire everything it brings. For someone who never sought it, though, fame can be incredibly destructive. If anything I did ever became remotely "big", there is no way I could handle it properly. I'm too furtive to stand in the center.

I wouldn't walk away. I would run.

Here's another part of his statement:
I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn't understand. 

A few weeks ago, someone who said they were a long-time reader of DQ wrote to me. In elaborate detail, he told me that I used to be good but now I sucked, and I wasn't worth reading anymore. I understood that--actually, I share his feeling to some degree, and I've written about that before--but his anger was so personal, like he wanted to punish me with his words.

This was just one e-mail, but man, his intensity shook me. I accepted that when I decided to make a game (seriously, how did that ever work out?) the blog was going to suffer, but I didn't want to stop, so I didn't. I still don't want to stop. I'm just going to write and people can read what they want.

That's a long way of saying that to be in the public eye, even in a very small way, requires a kind of armor that some people don't have. I don't think Notch has it, and I think he was smart enough to understand that and get out before it destroyed him.

I'm not talking about Minecraft as a franchise, or what it means now that Microsoft owns the game (well, here's a one-word comment: ick). I'm just talking about one guy writing code in his apartment late at night, thrilled by what he's creating, not realizing what is going to happen to his life.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Links!

We're light on quantity this week, but extremely high on quality.

I'm leading off this week with a very serious link from Jim Bradley that some of you might find disturbing, so please be warned. Here's a description:
A video released online by the family of a man killed in a crash is gaining traction for what it’s doing for motorcycle safety awareness.

38-year-old David Holmes was killed in a crash in England. He was wearing a helmet cam when he crashed his bike into a car. He was going 97 mph hour at the time.

Holmes’s family has released the video in hopes to warn both bikers and motorists will be more attentive when driving.

Here's the link: Family’s emotional video shows shocking fatal crash; Goal is to raise awareness.

And now, because that was a disturbing video and very difficult to watch, I'm going to follow it up with the silliest link of the week, just to even things out: Lil Baby Bear Has Itself A Good-Ass Time On A Golf Course.

From Sirius, and this is a spectacular find: Dreadnoughtus: The Behemoth dinosaur that makes the Tyrannosaurus rex look puny.

From C. Lee, and this images are fantastic: 48 Unexpected Views Of Famous Historic Moments.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is fascinating: The 100 Books Facebook Users Love. Also, and these pictures are amazing, it's Striking Aerial Photos Show the Unfathomable Hugeness of Industry.

From Marc Klein, and this is a terrific read: The Simple Technology That Accidentally Ruined Baseball.

From Jonathan Arnold, and sadly, this is no surprise: Just Six Months After the Olympics, Sochi Looks Like a Ghost Town.

This is the longest title ever, but it's a great read, and the title explains it all: The Escape Artist: West Virginia frat boy, hippie expatriate, big-time drug dealer, prison escapee, millionaire mortgage broker—Jim Sargent was many things before he arrived in the idyllic Hawaiian town of Hawi and established himself as a civic leader. But it was only a matter of time before his troubled past would catch up with him.

Ending this week, from Steven Davis, and this is a long and utterly brilliant article: JEFF HENRY, VERRÜCKT, AND THE MEN WHO BUILT THE GREAT AMERICAN WATER PARK.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The iWatch

I don't get it.

I haven't worn a watch in fifteen years, at least. I have a phone. It tells the time. It does all kinds of nifty things. Why do I want another device that performs a subset of functions of the device in my pocket?

People send e-mails explaining why the watch is cool. I read them very carefully, and when I'm finished, I immediately say, "I don't get it."

Fitness tracker? Why do I need a fitness tracker? I know that when I've reached a certain level of fatigue in a workout--fatigue that is easy to fell--then I've had a good workout. I'm a big data person, but do I need minute by minute data about my workout? No.

If I want to know how I'm recovering from workouts, or whether my workout routine is working, all I need to do is take my resting pulse when I wake up in the morning. That gives me every piece of information I need.

Notifications? Doesn't my phone already do that?

Can it replace my phone? No way. And if it can't, all it does is riff on the existing functionality of my phone.

If Apple (or anyone else) can sell a smartwatch in volume, then they can truly sell anything. This is the ultimate test case for marketing and brand over functionality.

Through the Front Window

I'm probably not going to write about this anymore, but here's a very easy way to see what's really happening in the Ray Rice/NFL situation: read Peter King.

Peter King, even though he's a respected journalist, is a mouthpiece for the NFL, and whatever the NFL wants to present, he will do it for them.

You have to read a bit between the lines, though.

Here's how you interpret what King writes: whatever he says, that's the desired position for the NFL. It's the NFL establishing its borders. So a few months ago, he said that the NFL had seen the tape, and he used it in the context of finding support for a two-game suspension of Rice.

A few days ago, he changed his tune, and said he had been "told by sources", not the NFL, that the tape had been viewed, and that couldn't actually prove it had been viewed. This was to support the NFL suddenly going from a two-game suspension to an indefinite suspension.

Here's what King wrote today:
The sense I got after talking to six prominent team executives Wednesday night was that Goodell’s job would be in trouble only if he was found to have participated in a coverup of the Rice investigation, or if he lied about never having seen the videotape of the former Baltimore running back’s assault of his then-fiancée Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator last February. 

What he's writing is not exactly what it means.

What it really means is that the NFL is hoping to draw a line with the public that it's reasonable to retain Goodell unless he participated in a cover-up. That's not what the NFL would have said two days ago--Goodell's possible removal wouldn't even have been mentioned--but the news yesterday that a "female NFL executive" had left a voicemail indicating that she had received and viewed the footage moved the borders.

Here's the most important takeaway, though: NFL executives are now acknowledging a potential situation where Roger Goodell would be damaging "the shield", as they call it. In the NFL, damaging the shield is unforgivable. This clearly means that his support right now is very shaky. He may survive, but he is clearly at high risk here.

One other thing: the phrase "domestic violence" needs to go away. It's such a sanitized term. It's almost as if the term itself was created to neutralize an emotional response to men beating women (and, in considerably rarer cases, vice versa). Maybe this would be more important, and the legal system's responses more appropriate, if the words used to describe "domestic violence" incidents were more visceral.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Shocking News

Well, to absolutely no one's surprise, the NFLs transparently obvious lie has blown up in their faces today. Details: Report: NFL Received Ray Rice Video in April.

Of course they did. To somehow believe they hadn't, we'd have to believe that one of the most ruthlessly efficient organizations in the world was--just in this one case--incompetent buffoons, investigating the case with all the skill of the Three Stooges.

The next domino, since there's very solid evidence that an NFL executive did see the tape, is that someone below Goodell will take the fall and resign.

This isn't going to go away, and it shouldn't.

Optomap (your e-mail)

I wrote last week about the Optomap, a device that takes a high-resolution image of your eye. The next day, I received this e-mail from Chris Price:
I’m all for the Octomap. My wife is Type 1 diabetic and needs to get one of these every year. I typically didn’t bother ($30 is $30), but she encouraged me to get it done a couple of years ago.

Note, this is after the exam, and like your experience, I was told I didn’t need to be dilated with it. I remember my Doctor looking a the image, and repeating all the questions about floaters and flashes that she’d asked 20 mins earlier during the exam. 

Intrigued, I asked what she’d seen and she showed me a picture that clearly had a large blister in the lower left. The poor Doctor was a little freaked out and sent me immediately off to a Retina specialist. They took one look, take a bunch of their own pictures and shoot a laser into the back of my eye - thanks…

Turns out it was a retina schesis (one of the things on the poster)--textbook case and unusual size. Over the next year, I end up being dilated every quarter and after a weekend of being pulled behind a boat on a lake, the schesis grows and needs another bout of Star Wars “pew pew”. 

The next conversation with the retina Doctor is a “When your retina detaches”, not an “If” and we decide to fix it once and for all. Do a search for Vitrectomy for the details - but it’s where they suck the gel from your eye and place a gas bubble in for a while. It took 3 months for the gas to dissipate--for a while it's like looking through a fish bowl. Part of the recovery was to keep the eye dilated 4 times a day for a month--now that was a pain in the arse.

Anyway, all is good now - vision returned to 20/25 as my pupil doesn’t contract as well as it should. I’m told it’s because they’re blue and it takes a little longer.

Long message to simply say that the Octomap is well worth the money. The regular exam completely missed the problem and I’d be at risk of a sudden detachment without it. I’d recommend any of your readers to get it done.

So this is definitely a thing, and it may catch problems that otherwise might be missed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The NFL and Ray Rice

Really, this makes me so angry that I don't even want to write about it. I think there's a point to be made, though, that other people don't seem to be making.

If you don't live in the U.S., here's a quick summary. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was in an Atlantic City casino with his fiancee. They argued outside an elevator. They stepped into the elevator, continued the argument, and Rice knocked her out with a straight left.

Until yesterday, the public had seen the video outside the elevator, but not what happened inside the elevator. What was particularly incredible, maybe even more so than the punch, was that after he knocked his fiancee out and she's unconscious on the floor of the elevator, Rice doesn't pay any attention to her. He's not checking on her condition, even though she's unconscious. It's horrifying in every conceivable way.

When this video broke on TMZ yesterday, the NFL was very quick to take action. The Ravens cut him, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The NFL also issued a statement saying that when they issued the original two-game suspension to Rice, they had never seen the footage inside the elevator, only the outside footage.

This is 100%, absolute bullshit.

The NFL has a security operation that would make the FBI blush. Actually, quite a few of the operatives in that operation are ex-FBI agents. They would clearly have had a longstanding relationship with local and state police in one of the most prominent casino cities in the country. They are 100% hooked up.

So when the NFL says they "asked for all relevant footage" and weren't given the video, that's an absolute lie. Roger Goodell is a control freak. The NFL is a bulldozer when it comes to these kinds of investigations. There's no way they would decide that their investigation could be completed without that footage.

Rice's defense attorney had a copy of the footage, but the NFL didn't?

It is entirely implausible to think that the NFL didn't see the footage. Of course they did.

What IS the most plausible scenario? It's not complicated. The NFL, in collusion with other parties, attempted to bury the video. They were certain that the footage would never be seen. Then TMZ blew them up yesterday, and they had to take action.

If Roger Goodell saw this footage--and in all likelihood, he did--he should resign. That probably won't happen, though. What will most likely happen is that some underling will suddenly admit to having seen the footage, not sending it further up the NFL food chain, and he will resign instead.

The fall guy.

This entire episode is just sickening.

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