Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why You No Post?

Ok, I realise I haven’t posted a new episode of EC4A yet.

The reason for this is simple. Since Sunny’s work schedule changed, Tuesday has become the absolute, most inconvenient day to post. Seeing as my ‘recording studio’ is just my living room, I need to record at a time when I have the house to myself and the phone is unlikely to ring.

On her previous schedule, Sunny would go into work Sunday nights at midnight, that meant I would spend Sunday night polishing and going over the script, and then actually record the thing after she left for work on the Monday, which meant by the time I had it ready to post it was past midnight on Tuesday morning.

Hence the Tuesday posting schedule.

With her now working second shift, it goes like this: I just don’t wanna spend the weekend working on EC4A, because that’s the only time we actually get to spend any kind of real time together. Plus, Tuesday is our bill-paying and grocery shopping day.

Ok, I know this sounds convoluted, suffice to say, Tuesdays just aren’t good anymore.

So, from now on, I’m going to start posting on Fridays.

This week’s episode is already written, and I’ll record it sometime in the next couple days. As always, I’ll let you know here when the new episode is up.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.

Ok, I just got up, and I already feel like killing somebody.

Why? Because I’ve overdosed on ‘dumb’ within minutes of waking up.

Let me be absolutely clear on the following point. Within a few hundred years the human race is going to be extinct. It’s just that simple. Four or five hundred years from now, humans just won’t exist. This won’t be because of global warming or some natural disaster, but because people are constantly getting dumber.

Within a few generations people will be setting themselves on fire or jumping off buildings to see if it hurts.

So what spawned this post?

Well, I’ll tell you:

I got up, made myself some coffee, and sat down at the computer for a bit of light websurfing while I waited for Sunny to wake up. I pressed the ‘stumble’ button on my toolbar and landed on a webpage hosting a video called “The most important photograph ever taken”.

It was about a picture of our nearest neighbor galaxy taken by the Hubble space telescope. The idea is that the picture showed us how small we are in relation to the universe and how trivial and nonsensical our fighting with each other is, when we consider just how insignificant we are in such a huge universe.

I liked it, it was a nice way to start my day…a little philosophy mixed with science.

Then I made the mistake of looking at the comments. Here are the first few, cut and pasted exactly as they appear.

Posted by: Renegade on Nov 29, 2006 @ 01:25:25 pm

SCREW the UNIVERS !!! Anybody wanna join me in my quest of screwing the univers ??

In a word…no. Learn to spell ‘universe’ before you attempt to screw it, and congrats on completely and totally missing the point of the video.

Posted by: tempo on Nov 29, 2006 @ 05:14:16 pm


First of all, is your caps key stuck down? Secondly, thank you for the total lack of punctuation, other than that first exclamation point. After I deciphered your comment, I would say I used to agree with you. Sadly, after reading your comment I have to say that if a whole new civilization did contact us, I’d be ashamed to admit I was the same species as you. Oh, and by the way, everyone you meet already sees you as the intellectual equivalent of a fish or hamster.

Posted by: justice on Nov 29, 2006 @ 06:06:07 pm

hopefully used as there sex slaves,,,,lol ,JUST KIDDING

Used as where sex slaves? Oh, you mean ‘their’. I don’t think that would happen, with intelligence as low as yours (and your really dumb sense of humor) I imagine they wouldn’t want to pollute their gene pool. In fact, can you remove yourself from ours?

Posted by: sally anne on Mar 26, 2007 @ 07:33:32 pm

I just wanna know one thing..think of that first spiral galaxy...however far away it is.. then think of the second...it's much much further than the first.. so why is it that we cannot zoom in on these planets to see whats going on?

Ugh, I don’t even know how to begin to respond to this. Maybe they use magic telescopes that can somehow bring an object the size of a planet into sharp focus at distances that are hundreds of light years across. See if you can get this…a galaxy is trillions of trillions of miles across (bigger actually, I just don’t want to type ‘trillions’ over and over again). A planet is a few thousand. Your question is like saying “I can see the moon without a telescope, so why can’t I see the astronaut’s footprints?”

Oh, and that ‘first’ galaxy? That’s the one you’re currently living in, you shmuck.

Anyone else think we’ve stopped being the ‘Human Race’ and become the “Human try to race, but forget how to tie our shoelaces and fall down before we pass the starting post”?

Oh, and it’s fairly obvious that someone forgot to put the chlorine in the gene pool and took a gigantic dump in it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Waterworks.

If you’ve read Sunny’s latest post, you know that we caught an episode of “Who Wants to be a Superhero” for the first time today.

Sunny hates it, but I think it’s so outrageously dumb, that it’s entertaining. There’s just something ‘train wreck’ about a bunch of people aged 20-45 who are taking being a ‘Superhero’ that seriously. It’s mildly disturbing, but you just can’t look away.

Put it this way, the contestants on this show are the people the hardcore nerds refuse to have anything to do with. Hell, even the LARPers would have a hard time being seen with them.

For me, however, one thing about this show really stood out.

People in reality shows always cry.

Ok, ok, fair enough. If it’s been your lifetime dream to be a famous singer, and you get into the final 10 in American Idol and get voted off, fair enough, shed a tear, I can understand that. If you’ve always wanted to be a model, and lose in the finale of “America’s Next Top Model”, I can imagine you getting upset.

Also, if it’s been you lifelong dream to be a singer, and you win American Idol, I’ll let you by with shedding a tear of happiness.

But why, oh why do these people need to feel the need to cry when someone accidentally uses their toothbrush in the Big Brother house, or breaks down in floods of tears when they fail a preliminary audition for American Idol?

Look, a toothbrush isn’t a big deal. Get a little pissed about it if you like, but don’t freaking cry. Oh, and if you want to be a singer and completely and totally break down because you failed an audition…you’re seriously in the wrong business.

“What? You mean the music/TV/movie business isn’t all about universal acceptance? I won’t get every single spot I audition for? Why wasn’t I informed?”

Anyway, back to “Who Wants to be a Superhero”. If it’s possible, try and wrap your head around the sheer absurdity of it:

“Who Wants to be a Superhero” is a reality show on the Sci-Fi channel. A group of pale, friendless virgins….sorry, I mean contestants… dress up as superheroes and do a bunch of ‘Fear Factor-esque’ stunts and challenges. Each week they eliminate someone, and the winner gets a comic book featuring their character, an action figure, and a walk-on role in a Sci-Fi channel ‘straight to cable’ movie.

Dumb, right? Don’t get me wrong, it would be a perfectly good idea if it was a kids show, and it was a bunch of 10 year olds pretending to be superheroes…but a 40 year old guy dressed in spandex and taking the whole thing (if you’ll pardon to pun) super-seriously? Gimme a break!

Well, the first challenge the ‘heroes’ had to do was try to get to the end of an obstacle course while getting absolutely battered by wind machines and fire hoses. One girl (and I say ‘girl’, but she was at least 30) fell over, and cost her team the challenge.

What did she do? Laugh? Say she was sorry? Make a joke that platform shoes aren’t really appropriate footwear for Superhero work?

Of course not, she started crying about how she was letting everyone down, how she felt ashamed and how she let down herself, the team, her kids etc, etc.

Look, dear, I hate to tell you this…but you let down your kids and family when you decided to wear a ridiculous outfit, call yourself “Whip Snap” and go on national TV pretending to be a superhero.

I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s a gameshow! In fact, it’s a fucking ridiculous gameshow. You’re a bunch of people in home-made superhero costumes pretending to fight crime. If you’re on a gameshow like that, you should be there for one of two reasons: To have a laugh or because someone bet you that you wouldn’t try out for it.

Put it this way, if being the best ‘superhero’ and getting your own comic book is really important enough for you to be in floods of tears over…you need therapy, it’s just the simple.

Oh, and to close, I just want to point something out.

Spiderman looked cool in his movies, Batman and Superman looked cool in theirs. That’s because the actors playing them were in great shape and buff as hell. When you have a double chin and a beer gut…spandex or PVC is not a good move. Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer looked awesome as catwoman…but that’s because they’re Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer. Don’t wear a tiny short skirt unless you can do it justice.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Pretty Please?

Quick note to those people on TV who can't believe they get paid for playing games:

When you make a mission in which I have to escort a character from point A to point B, can you please make them less suicidal?

You see, there's nothing quite like getting right to the very end of a really long mission, only to have the douchebag I'm supposed to be protecting charge headfirst, needlessly, into a group if heavily armed enemies that he could just as easily have avoided.

...or when we're facing a wall of oncoming bad guys, have a perfect defense perimeter set up, and the escortee suddenly decides to break ranks to go off and inspect a wall.

...or when we're just plain running for it, and the escortee can't quite work out how to walk around an obstacle.

...or when you set a charge to take down a door, and while everyone else runs to a safe distance, the escortee just stands there looking at the pretty blinking lights, and wondering why it's counting down.

...or when the escortee decides that his pissy little 9mm pistol is more than a match for those 20 machine guns.

You know what? In fact, why don't you just get rid of the whole 'escort mission' thing all together. If I lose at a game, it should be my fault, I shouldn't lose because of your sucky AI.

That is all.

Rant Time...

So, today I heard that Second Life has banned all gambling and wagering across the entire game-world.

Now, this isn’t what I actually want to rant about. I hardly play SL anymore, and have never been big into gambling. However, what surprised me was that Linden Labs pussed-out and gave into outside pressure when precedent is so clearly on their side.

Basically, you can gamble online anywhere in the US, as long as the gambling site is physically located in a place where gambling is legal. Plus, SL’s servers are literally all over the world, as are the people who play it. In other words, they’re telling a whole bunch of people in countries where gambling is perfectly legal that they can’t gamble…because it breaks US law.

Secondly, no real money actually changes hands. While you can sell and buy lindens for real money, the vast majority of people earn and spend their lindens in world. It’s essentially the same as taxing people for their earnings in monopoly.

The whole thing’s ridiculous, but that isn’t what I’m ranting about. What I’m ranting about is the reason gambling has been ‘outlawed’.

The reason is simple. Someone was making too much money, and when someone starts making money, the vultures start circling.

No one cared when Second Life had only 60,000 registered users. Now that there’s a few million users, and lindens are changing hands at a huge rate, it all comes down to one thing:

Either the government finds a way for them to take a piece of the pie, or they close it down. They can’t tax money that isn’t a real currency, and most people sell lindens for amounts that are too small to tax.

Basically: “If we can’t get your money, you can’t have it either.”

It’s the same everywhere. Make too much money, or have an idea that renders someone else’s business model obsolete…and you’re in for trouble.

Take the recording industry. Until very recently, the recording industry had a very lucrative position as the middle man. Artists want to perform and sell their music, and consumers want to buy it. It used to be that if you wanted to release an album, the only way to do it was to go through a record label…with the downside for artists and consumers being that more money goes to the record label than ever goes to the artist.

Then the internet came along, and artists had a direct link to their audience. Why go through a label, give up creative control of your music and make literally pennies on the dollar…when you can start your own website, and sell your songs for a couple dollars a pop, and keep all the money yourself?

Long story short, people don’t want to drive to a store and buy a CD anymore, not when they can download a track from the iTunes music store from the comfort of their own homes. Basically, record labels have become all but obsolete…and they don’t like it one bit.

It’s a much better system for us and the artists. We get our music instantly, and it’s much cheaper because the recording industry can’t take as big of a cut. The point is, the recording industry doesn’t make its money from making music…it makes its money from distributing music…something the internet can do a million times better.

So, despite the fact that more money is being spent on music today than ever before, a much smaller percentage of that money is going into the record labels’ pockets. So what do they do? They do everything they can to make sure they alone ‘regulate’ online music sales in order to ‘protect the artists from piracy’.

In other words, someone else came up with MP3’s, someone else came up with the idea of online music sales, but the recording industry wants control of the whole thing. They have absolutely no legal claim in this…they just don’t want their obsolete business cut out of the loop.

Just to highlight how ridiculous this idea is, it’s like the post office demanding that they get to control and regulate email, and that every email has to go through them to ensure that the messages are ‘secure’.

The RIAA doesn’t give a damn what’s best for the consumer or the artists…as long as they still get to take a big wet bite out of the profits. They can’t compete, so they’re trying to make sure that music sales that they don’t control are illegal.

Long story short, DRM and all the furor about piracy isn’t about protecting artists at all, it’s about protecting the distributors profits. The point here is, it’s not illegal to take money from someone by having a better idea, but that’s what the RIAA are trying to make out.

It’s not just limited to music either.

Let me ask you a question. Violent and ‘inappropriate’ video games have been around for over a decade. Mortal Kombat came out in 1992, over 15 years ago. So why did the world wait 15 years before they decided ‘something needs to be done to protect the children’?

Isn’t it an amazing coincidence that video game violence became a ‘real problem’ shortly after gaming went mainstream and started to make tons of money? That the first game to really came under fire is one of the best selling games ever?

Isn’t it also amazing that there have been multiple attempts to take the ratings system out of the hands of the ESRB and put it into the hands of government controlled agencies?

“Your ratings system is wrong, we’ll do it for you…for a fee.”

Not to mention all the high-profile court cases that have resulted in the gaming industry having to lobby (read, give money to) the government?

To be completely honest, the whole thing just makes me sick. It’s greed, pure and simple.

We live in a world were as soon as people start to make real money, people try to take it from them, through fair means or foul. We live in a world where suing people has become a legitimate business model…and when you do take money from an existing industry through fair means (IE, having a much better idea), you’re punished for it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


You know what’s weird?

I remember telling the story of how I got interested in the Harry Potter books. I was talking to a bunch of people and said how my Dad had bought “Goblet of Fire” to see what all the fuss was about.

Of course, I made fun out of him for reading it. “Why do you want to read a kids book? Aren’t you a little old for that? Do you want a broomstick for Christmas?”

Then, a few days later, I needed something to read, so with a sense of superiority, I picked up Goblet of fire.

I started reading it, thinking “This is terrible! Why would anyone read this?”

A while later, I looked at the clock and realized it was 4am, I’d been reading for 5 straight hours. Then I thought “I’ll just read one more chapter.”

I ended up reading the whole book in one sitting. Seven and a half hours straight.

Everyone laughed and admitted similar experiences.

Fast forward a few weeks.

During a similar conversation (with the same people) at college, I was talking about when ‘Sim City 2000’ came out for the PC. I’d decided to try it out when I’d just got in from work. It was 2am. A while later I was surprised to hear my parents getting out of bed. It was 10am and I’d been playing all night.

Expecting the same sort of response, instead I got concerned and worried looks, and then more than one speech on the dangers of videogame addiction.

This is what’s weird. Apparently it’s perfectly acceptable to just veg out on a couch and spend nearly eight straight hours in a fantasy land with a schoolboy wizard protagonist.

On the other hand, spending a similar amount of time playing a game where you’re actively making decisions and trying to build and maintain a viable city (including infrastructure, trade, crime rates, pollution rates etc)…is completely unacceptable.

The weird thing is the form of entertainment that requires in-depth thinking and planning is the one that’s looked down on.

That’s something I’d love to know. Why is something looked down on because you experience interactively in front of a computer, yet reading is always looked upon as a good thing…despite the fact that books can be just as violent, or age-inappropriate as any movie or video game?


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Interviews and Tests

I applied for yet another job at the beginning of this week, and this time, actually got a callback.

It was only a half victory though. I didn’t actually get the job I applied for, but the posting for it came through an agency, and that agency contacted me to say that while I didn’t get that particular job, with my resume, they’d be happy to register me and help me find a job.

At the very least, it was a step in the right direction.

You see, I think my biggest problem with finding work comes from the fact I’m an immigrant. I don’t mean that people see I’m not American and refuse to hire me, but it causes me problems.

All of my references are in England. When an employer is looking at a stack of resumes, they can either go through the hassle of making an international phonecall, or they can call the references of the guy whose resume is next to mine. Basically, I’m not worth the trouble unless I have a specific qualification none of the other candidates have.

Then we come to the actual qualifications. I can tell you that I have 13 GCSE’s, 3 A-Levels and a Bachelors Degree. Apart from the degree, do any Americans out there know what the other two mean?

I try to explain what they are on my resume, but again it’s a choice of either work out what my qualifications are, or go with the guy with the degree and high school diploma.

Luckily, I explained all of this to the woman who interviewed me at the agency today, and she sat there with me and made a ‘best guess’ at what American equivalent of all my qualifications are. As it turns out, she thinks I’m sitting on a Bachelor’s and three Associate’s Degrees…who knew I was so intelligent?

The one thing I didn’t like about the interview were the competency tests.

I’d told her I know most Office Applications, so as part of the interview, they sit you in front of a computer and you go through a test program.

I absolutely kicked ass and Microsoft Word, and did fairly well at Excell (Which was good, because I told her I knew the basics, that I could use it, but wasn’t up on the advanced features).

The problem, however, is with the tests themselves.

You see, you don’t use the actual program you’re being tested on, you’re using purpose-made testing software that looks like the program you’re using. It’ll say things like “Set a tab stop at two inches”, which you then have to do to get the question right. If you get it wrong twice, it’s on to the next question.

The problem is that the program accepts only one way to do things. It asked me to print a document, and I used the keyboard shortcut, and it told me that was wrong…despite the fact that pressing Ctrl-P does exactly the same thing as File>Print. This was even worse with excel. It told me to write out the formula to add all the numbers in a column…and the way I do that on my own computer is highlight the column, put everything that comes up in the formula window in parenthesis, and then type “SUM” in front of it.

It does exactly what the question asks me to do, is quicker than typing the whole formula by hand…but because I tried to do it that way, it marked it as wrong.

The other thing is that some of the questions are downright pointless. One of my favorites was “Go to page 8 of this document, do not use the scroll bar or page down key”. The answer is easy enough (Edit>Goto), but in the real world you can get to the page quicker by just holding down the Page down key or using the scroll bar.

My last major gripe was that if you sit me in front of an unfamiliar program and ask me to do something, if you give me a few minutes and let me play with it, I’ll be able to work it out. While I scored as an ‘intermediate’ user on excel, if I’d had an actual working copy of excel, and 15 minutes, I could have got everything right.

Well, anyway…I scored highly on the tests that mattered, so hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, k?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Something That Happened in 2003

We’d arranged to meet in the cafeteria. It was one of those group projects for my minor that no-one really cared about or wanted to do, but had to be done anyway to get enough credits to go on to the next year.

I’d arrived early, as I often did, and grabbing a cup of coffee I sat down at an empty table, giving a smile and a nod to someone I knew by sight on the way to the table. I think he was in my History class…a subject I was only taking because admin had screwed up my timetable when I first registered. I hated history, hadn’t taken it since I was 14, and here I was taking it at degree level… all because they’d registered me for the wrong subject, and by the time I’d found out, it was too late.

Well, that’s university admin for you.

I sat back and took a sip of my coffee. From across the room I noticed one of my group members walk in and start to look around. I put my hand up and signaled him over.

“Sorry I’m late.” He said. It was Steve. Steve was always late and was about as reliable as a two dollar wristwatch. This made him really difficult to work with. Other than that, he was a nice guy. Funny as hell too.

“S’ok.” I said. “I’m the only one here right now.”

I knew what had happened. If you wanted this guy to show up on time, you told him you were meeting at least 45 minutes before you actually were…that meant you only had to wait about 20 minutes to a half hour for him. He was a few minutes late, but by his standards he was an hour early.

We sat and chatted while the rest of the group slowly trickled in. The cafeteria wasn’t the best place to work, but the head librarian was an absolute Nazi. She was old school, there was no talking whatsoever, despite the fact the library had tons of group meeting areas. Obviously the architects hadn’t counted on a Victorian librarian running the place.

“Hey all.” Said Angela, sitting down.

I liked Angela. I didn’t know her very well, and never really got to know her, but I liked her because she’d been born with the bitch gene turned firmly off. She could get along with just about anyone, and always did her fair share of the work. In fact, she usually went above and beyond the call of duty. Like the time she spend an absolute fuck-ton of money getting a presentation printed in color on acetate…and then refused to let anyone else chip in on the cost. The best part was she did things like that because she wanted to, not to make sure anyone owed her a favor or to show off.

She was the polar opposite of Tracy. You know how some girls are absolutely smoking hot and know it? They have that princess syndrome where everyone is wrong but them, and their job in any group project is to just sit there and just collect the grade when everyone else has done all the actual work, usually while complaining every step of the way.

Well, put that personality into the body of an ugly fat girl with seriously rank BO, and that’s Tracy. She was sitting across from me with a scowl on her face, hinting loudly that someone should go and buy her a coffee…while everyone else was pointedly ignoring her.

Suddenly, she stood up and started waving.

“One of my friends is going to sit in with us.” She stated.

Stated, mind you, not asked.

This was classic Tracy. We had a group project and a deadline to meet. The rest of us wanted to just get down to the work and get it done as soon as possible. Tracy had this really annoying habit of inviting friends to every single group project meeting outside of class. Then she’d spend the whole meeting talking, not paying attention and would then bitch that we hadn’t covered something, even when that ‘something’ was what we’d just finished talking about.

I turned around to see who she was waving at…and my blood froze in my veins.

It was Martin Farmer. More precisely: Martin FUCKING Farmer.

Let me tell you a little about Martin.

Up to that point, I was blissfully unaware that he even went to the same University that I did. Back in the college I was at before I graduated and moved on to University, he was in both my English Language and Media class.

The guy was also a complete and utter dick.

His dad was on cable TV, and because of that, he thought he knew more about Media Studies than everyone else…including the tutor. He’d waste entire classes arguing some pissy little point with the teacher.

His family was also rich. Now, usually this isn’t a reason for me to dislike a person. My best friend through most of Highschool was rich. His family owned one of the biggest muffler and tire chains in the United Kingdom. He was never short of cash and didn’t mind flaunting it…but he wasn’t a dick either. He understood that while he had tons of money, not everybody else did.

One of my favorite Martin stories was the day he turned up for a Media Studies lecture with a brand new 3000 dollar laptop (I know the price because it was the first thing he told everyone). He then complained through the first 25 minutes of the class that the power outlet was too far away to plug his laptop in (despite the battery was fully charged)…and then came the best bit. He suggested to the tutor that they make it mandatory for everyone to do their work on laptops, and that everyone else should buy one.

That was Martin’s worst feature. He didn’t live in the real world. His world view was that if you couldn’t snap your fingers and get Mummy and Daddy to buy you a three thousand dollar piece of equipment, you were too poor to be at college and you should just leave. In fact, he said just that once, when a fellow classmate asked for an extension because she had to work.

Then he got tore to pieces and complained that everyone was picking on him…but more on that later.

Martin had somehow gone through his entire life without learning a single social skill. His idea of romance was to blatantly stare at a girl’s breasts, would tell long boring stories when you were giving every hint you just wanted him to go away…and I heard from the few actual friends he had that he was the kinda guy who would ask someone to buy an extra ticket to a concert for him, not show up, and then refuse to pay for the ticket.

After all, he didn’t actually see the show, why should he pay?

His absolute worst feature was that he’d be downright rude to people, belittle them, argue that black was white and he’d take every opportunity to humiliate someone or get them in trouble, just for the sheer pleasure of dropping someone in it.

Then, after he’d done all that, he’d whine that no-one liked him and everyone picked on him.

The truth is, no one ever actually picked on him…they just told him to fuck off or refused to work with him or help him because he was a dick.

In Martin’s eyes, telling the tutor in front of the entire class that another student didn’t forget their assignment, but actually hadn’t done it yet, was fine. However, when he asked the same person he’d just dropped in it if he could borrow their notes, and they refused…they were picking on him.

I can’t stress this enough, I usually cut people a lot of slack, and I don’t tolerate bullying or singling one person out for humiliation at all…but Martin was an asshole, plain and simple. I’m not saying that as an excuse to bully him, because like I said, no one actually did…they tended to just avoid or ignore him. In many ways, he was more of a bully than anyone else. In fact, that’s exactly what he was, just without the muscle or a crowd of friends to back him up.

I’d like to say that any real ‘bullying’ he got he deserved, but that isn’t true…if he got what he deserved he’d have been exiled from society.

Put it this way. I knew he was a special case when Kath, one of my favorite college tutors ever, and quite frankly the most laid back person on the planet, got so aggravated by him she told him flat out to just shut the fuck up or leave.

That’s Martin in a nutshell.

Anyway, I’d known the guy for three years prior to University. But as he came over and sat down, he didn’t give me even a flicker of recognition. This was unusual, because despite the fact he was almost universally disliked, he somehow assumed that anyone he spent any length of time in contact with were his friends.

“Hey Martin.” I said.

“Hey.” He said back.

The next fifteen minutes were really, really weird. Whoever this guy was, he wasn’t the Martin I knew. He seemed, well… normal.

I finally figured what was going on. He’d reinvented himself. He’d realized what an asshole he was, and had figured that ‘New School’ equals ‘New Start’.

You see, I’m the type of guy that will give anyone every possible chance. If someone acts like a dick, maybe they were just in a bad mood. If someone doesn’t show up for a group project or something, I wait to hear their excuse before I get pissed.

My own experiences taught me to do that:

I arrived late on my first day of school. Not late as in ‘class started at nine and I showed up at ten’, I mean a whole week late. My family had moved from Liverpool to Haydock, so I enrolled late.

I walked into school that day with big afro hair, glasses like the bottom of Coke bottles in thick tortoise-shell frames, I was fat and had a weird accent that was different to everyone else’s. I might as well have walked into that school with a target strapped to my back. Friendships and cliques had already formed…I was the new weird kid that wasn’t going to fit into any of them.

They say you don’t get two chances at a first impression. What they don’t tell you is that first impression will follow you for the first 16 years of your life.

I was bullied from day one, and that includes the teacher. (The teacher in question, may her soul burn in hell, turned out to have major psychological issues and was fired shortly after I left school after they found her in the school library, reading ‘Janet and John’ books to herself). It was a classic case of every kid who complained about her was ignored. We were 6 year olds, she was a teacher.

Well, unfortunately for me, while the bullying stopped after I finally lost my temper and knocked out one of the kids who was bullying me, I was forever the weird kid.

That’s one of the things people don’t understand. If you get that reputation as a weird kid…maybe ‘weird’ is the wrong word, but you know what I’m talking about, the kid who gets picked on…that shit follows you as long as you’re at school. By the time I was fifteen, in high school, I had properly cut hair, new decent glasses and had lost a ton of weight…a normal kid basically…but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still looked down on.

The other thing is that most of the time, that weird kid doesn’t realize he’s weird. School is the time you learn social skills, how to talk to people, what it’s acceptable to say and what isn’t, what topics of conversation should be public and which should be private.

When you go through school with little or no friends, you have absolutely no idea of what’s cool and what isn’t. People would be talking about football or the latest craze, and I was talking about programming in BASIC. The point is that at the time, I didn’t realize any of the things I was doing labeled me as a nerd. The way I looked at it was people talk about the things they’re interested in and computers was (and still is) what I was interested in.

Basically, getting picked on at school was all I’d known. As far as I knew, I was perfectly normal, and evil classmates and a psycho teacher were the norm.

Long story short, when I started college, and parted company with all the douchebags I went to school with, (very few of them made it to college), I was more than happy to lose that stigma and reinvent myself.

I didn’t really do anything different, but it was nice to meet new people who judged me by who I am, rather than who I was. I was Paulius, ‘that guy in my English Class’, rather than Paulius, the kid who pissed himself in class when he was seven, because the psycho teacher (may her soul burn in hell) wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom…or the kid who would cry in class at the age of 7, because that same teacher (may her soul burn in hell) deliberately made him sit at the back, because his eyes were bad and he couldn’t see the blackboard from there, just so she could shout at him for not completing the work.

I hated that teacher. I told her over and over that I couldn’t see the board, and her response would be to walk to the back, stand next to me and tell me that she could see the board, and if she could see it, so could I.

College was different. In fact, I got a little fame at college for chewing out one of my tutors, and offering to take her to the Principal’s Office to address my concerns with her attitude…but that’s another story.

Anyway, as I looked at Martin, I smiled inwardly. As far as I was concerned, it was everyone’s right to reinvent themselves, and even though he was a huge asshole at college, maybe he’d realized what a huge asshole he used to be and had changed his ways.

If he’d reinvented himself, I sure as hell wasn’t going to out him as a douchbag. I knew what it was like to have someone bring something up you’d done or said over ten years ago, just to have a laugh at you. If he’d changed, great.

“Good for you, Martin.” I thought. “Good for you.”

It was at that point that I pulled out my textbook and said:

“Everyone’s here, shall we get started?”

There was a chorus of ‘yes’s’ as everyone reached beneath the table for their backpacks.

Then suddenly…

“Hey! I remember you!” Said Martin. He gestured towards my notepad. “I see you still can’t afford a laptop. Do you still have to work as well?” His face contorted into that smug, self-important half-sneer that I knew so well. Next to him, Tracy smirked as well.

He looked around, taking everyone else’s bemused “Is he joking?” facial expressions as approval, and then he was off, under the usual mistaken assumption that his world view was the norm, and not some weird freak of nature:

“I went to Carmel with him!” he laughed. “He had to work to afford his tuition! How are you affording to come here? Did you have to get another job? I remember when you broke that Mac in Media Studies! They made you pay for it, didn’t they?”

For clarity, I never broke a Mac in media studies. The monitor cable fell out, Martin shit a gold brick and started jumping up and down shouting ‘He broke it! He broke it!’ with a look of pure glee on his face. I calmly stood up, reached around the back of the machine and plugged it back in. End of story. Despite this, he brought this story up at every opportunity, and each time it got wilder.

My mouth dropped open.

I felt everyone around me start to bristle (except Tracy, who had started laughing).

As far as I know, everyone at that table, with few exceptions, were paying their own tuition. If looks could kill, Martin would have left nothing but a grease spot in his chair and his shadow scorched into the wall.

You see, at University as well as College, I was well liked…and for some reason people don’t like it when a stranger, uninvited, joins their group and starts making fun of one of them…especially when what the idiot is saying is making fun of the whole group by proxy.

It was like that scene in Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf recites the Black Speech in Rivendell. Martin, completely oblivious to the sky darkening around him, continues running his mouth. Finally, with a huge grin, he leaned back in his chair and waited for everyone to start laughing at me..

Everyone looked at each other, then they looked at me.

I was smiling.

You see, I was about to let him have it. I could have talked for hours about the embarrassing and stupid shit I’ve seen him do. If he wanted a war of words, it would be about as challenging as taking on a paper opponent with a flamethrower.

Instead, just as my mouth began to form the words, Angela leaned over, and in the sweetest voice you’ve ever heard, said:

“Ummm…Martin is it? Can you do me a favor, please, sweetie?”

Martin looked at her and said “Yeah?”

“Get your stuff together…pick up your coffee… and fuck off!”

I knew there was a reason I liked Angela.

[Authors Note : The above is all true, although some names have been changed to protect the ignorant. Just in case you’re wondering, Martin did indeed grab his stuff and ‘Fuck off’…and despite the fact that at the time he was 22 years old, he went straight to a tutor and told him that Angela and I were ‘picking on him’. Legend says that the Tutor told him he wasn’t in grade school any more and to grow the fuck up.

At the time of writing, I have no idea who Martin went to after that, to complain about the tutor picking on him…but I have no doubt that he did.]

Monday, July 23, 2007

New EC4A Episode Up!

Hey all,

The new episode of Earth Concepts for Aliens is uploading as I write this. Link in the sidebar. Go ahead and check it out!

It also appears that Digg has finally approved my podcast (nice to know at least one person approves of what I'm doing), which means the Digg button on the podcast site is now working, so if you have a digg account, any diggs would be appreciated. Oh, and don't forget to stumble it as well!

Thanks all!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Doing Ourselves a Disservice

Today’s post was inspired by a couple of things. The first is my podcast, the second is MC Etcher’s statement that he wasn’t going to write a review of the new Harry Potter book because ‘there are already tons of them out there already’.

Basically, I started to wonder if we are doing ourselves a disservice by the way we look at our blogs.

When I started blogging (over two years ago now, can ya believe it?), I thought the way blogging would work is this: I’d write, people would discover my blog, read it…and I’d get myself a nice little audience.

The one major difference in the way it actually turned out is I expected a somewhat anonymous audience. Instead I discovered that the blogging community was indeed just that, a community.

People who read blogs tend to write them as well, and it stands to reason that if you’re interested in someone’s blog, you have the same sorts of interests. It’s weird, now that I think about it, because each blog I read regularly kinda represents a facet of my personality.

OzzyC is my cynical, straight talking ‘accept no bullshit’ side. Kato over at WITFITS is my geeky technophile side and MC Etcher at Etch-a-sketch attention span is my slightly skewed sense of humor.

I suppose my point is that bloggers (in most cases) don’t have a traditional writer-audience relationship. Instead, we tend to form relatively small, and dare I say it, intimate circles.

This is the part where I think we do ourselves a disservice.

I feel like I know my fellow bloggers. It’s really hard to read and comment on someone’s blog on a daily basis without ‘getting to know’ that person on some level, For example, I’ll see a news report on TV and just know that one particular blogger is going to have an absolute field day with it…but just because you know how someone thinks, doesn’t mean you actually know them.

It’s kinda a strange twilight zone. We know each other but don’t…at the same time.

Anyway, back when I started my podcast and advertised it here, the first two episodes had an audience in the single digits. Here’s what I found myself thinking:

“Well, one of those downloads was me checking everything worked. One was Sunny when she came in from work. Ozzy and Mike commented on it, so I know two of those other downloads were them…that’s four out of six…which means I only actually got two real hits.”

That’s the disservice part. We stop counting our regular readers as part of our ‘real’ audience because we ‘know’ them. It’s just like if you know a friend or relative regularly reads your blog, you feel that they ‘don’t count’ because you know them.

However, at one point, all those regulars that you feel you know started out as just another random reader or listener. They count as ‘real’ hits whatever way you look at it.

The second thing is that this works both ways, and where Etcher declining to write a Harry Potter review comes in.

Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do when I sit down at the computer is click my blogs bookmarks folder and open all in tabs. I look forward to reading them just as much as I look forward to seeing a TV show or my other favorite websites.

My point is, and this is directed at MC Etcher…I don’t really want to know what some random dude on the internet thinks about the new HP book. I want to know what MC Etcher thinks about it.

In the same way that if movie critics completely and totally pan a movie, but my friends say it’s awesome…I’m going to go and see it anyway.

So, long story short…write a bloody review, Etcher!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

There's just no pleasing some people.

Today, Sunny was going through some old pictures, and commented that while she had a nice big 8x10 of her youngest son’s wedding, she didn’t have a ‘good’ picture of her eldest son’s wedding.

The pointed out one she liked, but it was spoiled by a few scratches and smears, and some random guy in the background that in the picture, looked like he was growing out of her son’s left shoulder.

No problem, I said, leave it to me.

So I scan it, open it in Photoshop and work some digital magic. I got rid of the scratches and marks, airbrushed the random guy out, corrected the color balance and made some cosmetic changes. (If I’m in photoshop anyway, I might as well get rid of those pimples, right?)

Anyway, and this is an important bit, I cropped the pictures.

The framing of the original picture was a little off, and the actual couple only took up about a quarter of the frame, and what was left was mostly empty space (read – black from the shadow of the trees).

Then I printed it and Sunny said how much she loved it and how sweet I was. Good times.

Fast-forward a couple hours, and I walk into the living room to find her looking at the picture…and then she complains that because I cropped the picture, I cut off half of the bride’s flowers.

Umm…Ok, I fixed the picture up…without being asked, mind you…and she complains because you can’t see the bottom half of the bouquet?

Isn’t the absence of blemishes, scratches, the faded colors and the removal of a stranger growing out of her son’s body an adequate trade-off for the bottom half of a bouquet?

Just wait until she next surprises me with dinner or bringing home take-out…

“Here sweetie, I stopped on the way home at Hardee’s and brought you your favorite burger so you don’t have to cook.”

“Hardee’s? Hardee’s? Couldn’t you have stopped at Subway or the Chinese place instead? You expect me to eat this? Can’t you go back out? GOD! Can’t you do anything right?”

Oh yeah…it’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong, baby.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Big ole Bowl of Awesome!

What? Two posts in one day?

This is something I just had to share...especially for all those parents out there.

It's called 'ChoreWars'. Essentially it's a real life Role Playing Game. You register a party with the site, earn experience points to level up and fight monsters.

So what, huh? Something you can do in a hundred different places, right?

Well, no actually. It's called chore wars for a reason. Say Dad registers the party and puts all his kids on it. He then sets household tasks and how many experience points each party member will get for completing that chore.

Vacuuming the living room? 20 xp
Taking out the garbage? 30 xp

Ok, ok, this isn't going to work on teenagers, but for younger kids? Why not?

Basically it sounds like a lot of fun, especially since you set the tasks and the XP for yourself. Sounds like it would even be fun at the office:

Restoring a users lost password : 10XP
Getting bitched at because some dumbass broke their own PC : 50XP

Sounds like fun, no?


Take a look at this pic:

The guy on the right is the Cerne Abbas Giant. The giant is a figure carved into a hillside in Dorset, England. It’s believed to have been carved sometime around the 17th century.

The figure on the left, of course, is Homer J. Simpson…painted in biodegradable water-based paint, in order to promote the new Simpson’s movie.

Ok, first point to make is that this carving can’t be traced further back that the 17th century. In fact, there’s been speculation that the carving was made during the English Civil War as a stab at Oliver Cromwell who was mockingly referred to as “England’s Hercules” by his enemies.

Of course, evidence never stops the weirdos from crawling out of the woodwork.

The local ‘pagans’ believe (against all evidence, of course), that the Cerne Abbas Giant is an ancient carving and a fertility symbol…and they’re plenty pissed off that there’s a picture of Homer J. next to it. This is despite the fact that Homer will get washed away the next time it rains (and in England, that means that the Homer painting has a life expectancy of about 15 minutes).

What really got me though, and the reason I’m posting about this today, was the Pagan’s response. It’s so patently absurd and self contradictory, it made me laugh out loud:

The first part seems part-way reasonable.

Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said:

“I can’t believe they got permission to do something so ridiculous, it’s an area of scientific interest.”

Ok, fair enough…but the fact it’ll be gone when it rains kinda makes any objection kinda pointless, doesn’t it?

The big thing to note here is that she calls the place an ‘area of scientific interest’, because what she says next blows any credibility she has right out of the water:

"We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind. We'll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away."

Rain magic? Rain magic??? What exactly are you on Ms. Bryn-Evans? How do you get to adulthood and still believe in magic? I hate to tell you this, but in England, rain magic or not, it rains pretty much every day anyway! If you want to impress me, or make me believe in magic, why not do some sun magic, or ‘Rain Raspberry Jam’ magic?

Here’s the deal. There’s no such thing as magic and I can prove it right here and right now.

If it was possible to do magic, there’s be bunches of people traveling the world to drought-ridden countries charging an arm and a leg to make it rain there. Farmers in the USA would have wizards on retainer.

Look, just because you really want to believe you have magical powers doesn’t mean you actually do.

So, what she’s basically complaining about is the movie industry desecrating their ancient fertility symbol…despite the fact they’re not desecrating a thing, and it’s not a fertility symbol and it’s not ancient…and their response is to threaten ‘rain magic’.

The funniest thing about this is that this woman and her fellow retards will jump up and down, throw pineapples at each other (or whatever the hell it is they do), and when it starts to rain (which there’s about a 70% chance of happening daily anyway), they’ll feel all smug and congratulate each other on teaching those Simpsons guys a lesson.

For an encore, they’ll probably do ‘Snow Magic’ in the North Pole followed by ‘Warmth Magic’ in the Bahamas

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Middle Managers Love MMORPG's

I came to this conclusion after a Guild Wars session.

Why do I believe that MMO’s are populated by middle-managers? Well, I’ll tell you:

Example 1 :

One girl (or more likely guy pretending to be a girl), despite the fact she was the weakest member of the group and an elementalist (meaning her place in the party is at the back using long range attacks) consistently charged large groups of bad-guys on her own, whether we needed to get them or not.

Basically, the group would be traveling along, and suddenly she’d charge off in another direction without warning, meaning she would always get killed, and suffer a health and mana penalty every time one the other group members had to revive her.

Her other main habit was pulling a ‘Leeroy Jenkins’ and charging in while the rest of us were discussing tactics.

Why this makes her like a Middle Manager:

1) Constantly ignores advice.

2) Makes the same mistakes over and over.

3) Has an inflated idea of her own capabilities.

4) Does whatever she wants to the detriment of her team.

Example 2:

Another guy would spend the entire mission drawing all over the map, pointing out where enemies are (despite the fact everyone has the same mini-map and can see them anyway)…and taking the time out in the middle of heated battles in order to tell everyone else what they should be doing. This is despite the fact that when typing you can’t control your own character.

Why this makes him like a Middle Manager:

1) Spends the bulk of his time telling everyone how to do their jobs while completely neglecting his own.

2) Gives out tons of useless information that everyone else already knows, for no reason. (TPS Reports, anyone?)

3) Believes himself to know everyone else’s job better than they do, despite the fact he has no experience of it whatsoever.

4) Would rather lead and fail than follow and win.

Example 3:

One particularly low level guy would ask tons of questions that are plainly explained in the manual, argue with highest level players about aspects of the game, and die constantly, blaming everyone else while calling them ‘noobs’.

Why this makes him like a Middle Manager:

1) Totally incompetent.

2) Blames his incompetence on everyone else.

3) Ruins any party he joins, and it’s always everyone else’s fault.

So, in conclusion, if your Boss is in his office with the door shut and isn’t answering his phone…he’s probably playing Guild Wars.

Monday, July 16, 2007


1) I heard from my Dad that my mum's operation went well. While they still don't know if the tumor is cancerous or not yet (they have to wait on tests), the good news is that it's out of her body and she's on the mend. If everything goes according to plan she should be home by the end of the week...so, YAY! and thanks to everyone who sent good thoughts her way.

2) Obviously on a day when my mum's going in for major surgery, and I was waiting by the phone for news...I wasn't exactly in a 'Funny ha-ha' mood. Because of that, I didn't get around to recording this weeks EC4A today, but I'll try and get it posted either tommorrow or wednesday.

3) This week, I finally sold some lindens and bought an RCA Small Wonder digital camcorder, so maybe there's a vlog on the way sometime soon. If you're interested in reading a review of it, I posted one on my other blog.

4) Last and probably least, I started playing Guild Wars this week. I gotta say I like it. It's basically an MMORPG for people with lives. Whereas WOW is only worth the investment if you can play for 18 hours a day, Guild war's gameplay style (and the fact that there's no monthly fee), make it more of a 'casual' gamer's MMO. So if you already have it, let me know in the comments and maybe we'll meet up online.

Thanks all.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back when I was at college, I remember a piece of advice given to the entire class by one of my tutors. he said:

"The Internet is great and all, but it's not a good idea to write essays based purely on material you find online. If you go to the library, you know that all those books have been checked and rechecked before publishing. Anyone can have a webpage, and a lot of the time, the stuff expressed as fact is just someone's opinion or just plain wrong. Double check your facts."

Sage advice. I think someone should tell the people at Fox News the same thing.

I recently stumbled upon this classic

According to Fox News, the FBI can listen to every word you say on your mobile phone, even when it's turned off.

Seriously, Fox....what the fuck are you thinking? Do you just make shit up off the top of your head and broadcast it? Is your main news source that weird old guy at the bar?

Sometimes I wonder if I should call Fox news and tell them that tap water can make you pregnant, even if you're male...and see if they broadcast it.

Come on, Fox, it comes to something when I'd put more trust in a 12 year old's blog that a major news network.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good Thoughts

Hey all,

I've not mentioned this up to now because I don't know how happy my Mum will be with me talking about her business is such a public forum, but anyway...

My Mum's going into hospital on Monday morning for some fairly major surgery. The docs found a tumor in her bowel, and they don't know if it's malignant or benign yet. Her prognosis is excellent however either way, but as you all know, you can't help but worry when a loved one (especially a parent) is getting surgery.

So any good thoughts sent her way on Monday morning would be appreciated.

Thanks guys. (and gals)

Friday, July 13, 2007

More Unnaturalness From The Dog and Cat Files

Buddy and Leonard are really starting to worry me (or ‘Thunder and Lightning’ as I’ve taken to calling them when they’re together…the cat is white and fast and the dog farts a lot).

Well, by now you know that Buddy is just plain retarded, performing such feats as trying to eat a red hot boiled egg complete with shell, and burning his nose no less than four times on the oven in quick succession…before finally deciding that hot is painful and painful is bad.

Then we come to Leonard who, like nearly every other pet I’ve ever owned, daily plots my death.

But the longer I own them, the more I think that both of them just ain’t right.

Sunny first pointed out their latest trick, where every single day at the same time, Buddy lies down by the chair…and the cat gives him a massage. If you don’t believe me, here’s the video (unfortunately no sound, I took this with my digital camera that can only record 40 second clips with no audio).

While this is obviously just so, so, so wrong, and possibly a crime against nature (being that cats and dogs are supposed to fight like…well…cats and dogs), I just can’t work out Leonard’s angle.

You see, Leonard is a cat, and therefore pure evil. So why would he give the dog a massage?

They’re up to something. Maybe the cat’s finally worked out he’s too small to trip me up by snaking around my legs while he walks and is trying to convince the dog to do it for him.

I’m a little scared.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quiet, brain!

"This webcomic's great. I'd love to make a webcomic. Maybe if I...."

"Oh for fuck's SAKE!"

"Umm..... Errrr.....ummmm.... who's there?"

"Hey Paulius, it's me your brain."

"Ummm, hello...brain?"

"Listen, Pauli...we need to talk."

"We do?"

"Yes we do."

"Ummm, about anything in particular?"

"Yep, you have too many hobbies and ideas. you need to chill out and slow down."

"I don't get you."

"You've not touched a guitar in nearly two years, you were good at that, man."


"It's not a compliment. Think how good you'd be by now if you still played for a couple of hours a day like you used to."

"Yeah, but I got bored and my guitar got stolen, so..."

"Well, look at the other stuff. You used to write all the time, and now the only writing you do is blogging. You've got nearly half a million words of your novel sitting on your USB drive. You could have finished it a hundred times over by now."


"...and what about playing the piano? You got good at that really fast, then you moved, then you finally bought a new keyboard but haven't been near it in a week! Imagine how good you could be now if you'd been practicing all that time."


"And your drawing! Shit dude, did you see the last picture you drew compared to that first one you did? It's not great, but it's fucking light-years better! You haven't drawn anything in months. Imagine how good you'd be at that now if you drew as much as you did six months ago!"

"Yeah, but..."

"Look, are you seeing the pattern yet? You take up a new hobby, get proficient at it nice and quick...then get bored and go onto something else just when you're starting to show real talent! You're already learning the piano, writing a blog and making a weekly podcast...that you already want to expand into a video-blog....isn't a webcomic just a little too much right now?"

"I guess so."

"And start drawing again! and make sure you practice the piano!"

"Yes sir, I'll get right on it."

"Good! Your sketch-pad is in your bottom drawer if I remember, and you've got some pencils and an eraser in your top draw."

"Ok...but brain?"


"Wanna play "Overlord" for a bit first? we'd just got the Arcanium smelter if you remember? We can make new armor."

"Shit, yeah! That fat bastard dwarf is TOAST!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Damn kids and their Hula-hoops!

I remember being a kid and my dad telling me how he had to walk five miles to school every day (always in the snow, and uphill both ways of course), how breakfast was the top of his dad’s boiled egg, and how he’d work a 40 hour week for $3 a day.

I realized today that I’m finally old enough to be able to say the same kind of things to today’s kids.

However, it’s just not as much fun to say “When I was your age, we didn’t have the internet or Xboxes! We had to take the bus to school and there was none of this digital TV or WiFi nonsense…you don’t know how good you’ve got it!”

…When kids today can just say “Yeah, but you didn’t have school-shootings, widespread terrorism and anthrax in the mail either!”

Damn kids.

Monday, July 09, 2007

EC4A Episode 4 is up!

Ok, episode 4 of EC4A is up. Link in the sidebar.

This one, for some reason, fought me the entire way, but I’m satisfied with the end product.

Oh, and big thanks to Ozzy for ‘stumbling’ the podcast, and for introducing me to Stumbleupon.com which ate most of my day today.

Anyway, I’m thinking of changing my podcast title to “noise magnet”. Every time I sit down to record one of those things, I get phonecalls, the cat and dog will start fighting. As I already said, today’s fought me all the way. I’ve never stumbled over words like that before in my life. (The podcast this time is seven minutes long…I recorded over an hour of audio trying to get it right).

So you can imagine the mood I was in when I received that third telemarketer’s call, separated the cat and dog for the fourth time, and answered the door for the second time.

Anyone have a soundproof booth and a big read “Quiet Please” neon sign I can borrow?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Plug, A Plug! My Kingdom for a Plug!


Ok, EC4A (My weekly podcast, link in the sidebar) is slowly working its way out of its infancy. I think I have the format, the style and all the technical details as good as they’re going to get without going out and buying a bunch of equipment I can’t afford.

My only problem is that it’s hosted on the same service as about a gazillion other podcasts, and the only listeners I’m getting are people coming from here, and a tiny percentage of random surfers.

That being said, I’m getting a lot of good feedback (and coming up on around 40 downloads per episode), but I’m getting to the stage where actually getting it ‘out there’ is becoming a bigger deal than it was when I’d just finished the first episode.

Unfortunately this is pretty damn hard to do without being really obnoxious.

Firstly, other than posting here on Tuesdays when the new episodes are posted, I’m going to pretty much stop talking about it. Basically, one of my favorite sites ever just stopped being worth visiting when the author got a book deal…because all he would talk about was his book. I don’t want to go down that same road.

The other really obnoxious way is commenting on as many other podcasts and blogs as I can find. Something which I flat out refuse to do. I’ve directed more than a few rants at those awful people who use other people’s comments as advertising for their own sites, and spamming just really isn’t my thing.

So basically, the whole point of this post is that I need some ideas on how to ‘advertise’ without being a douche. So any ideas would be appreciated.

In closing, I think the best form of advertising is word of mouth, so if any of you out there have listened to the podcast and liked it…please tell your friends!


[Edit - Since publishing this blog, there is now a 'Digg This' button on the main podcast page. If you're a digg member and like the podcast, diggs are appreciated!]

Coming a long way

Last night I was in bed and just falling asleep.

You know that place you get to where you’re not quite asleep and not quite awake and your mind is wandering? Well, suddenly I had a flashback to a magazine article I read in about 1995.

It was a PC magazine article and it was all about the Internet (or the ‘Information Super-Highway’ as they called it then).

Bear in mind this was when the internet was brand new, and the focus of the article was “Wow, you can find anything on the Internet!!!”

So the writer took a challenge from the writing staff to try and stump him. They had to ask him to find something that he wouldn’t be able to find.

One guy asked him to find a picture of a guy playing golf while wearing a kilt. The writer did so, and everyone was all “Oh! That’s awesome!! You really can find anything!”

So looking at this through 2007 eyes, all I could think was “A guy in a kilt playing golf? Why didn’t they give him an actual challenge?

Yup, the internet’s come on a bit in the past twelve years.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I got bored...so....

I was bored to tears and realised I hadn't drawn anything in a while.

Then I decided to just skip to the fun part, the Photoshop coloring.

Trying to give myself a bit of a challenge I decided to leave my graphics pad alone, and try and color the entire thing using only my mouse, something I'd never tried before.

A quick search around the internet found me the following picture by Adam Hughes, one of my favorite comic-book artists. It's a sketch from a convention that's never seen color, so I decided to do it myself.

Here's the original, followed by the finished product. (Click the pics for full size)

If anyone's interested in the technique I used, let me know. Digital coloring tutorials, while not being hard to find on the internet, tend to be way to complicated or way too simple. If anyone's interested, I'll write my own.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grocery Store Hijinks

Today was just about the worst grocery store visit ever. It prompted me to write the following “How To” guide, because everything I’m about to talk about, I witnessed in the space of one single shopping trip.

How to not be a Grocery Store Douchebag

1) Control your kids, or get the fuck out of the store.

When your kids are throwing cantaloupes at each other (yes, really), barreling around the store like it’s an amusement park and coming close to knocking people over, the correct response is to give them a damn good kicking.

The correct response is not to completely ignore them, save for saying their name every five minutes in an slightly exasperated way. But go ahead anyway, after all, it’s not your stuff they’re spreading all over the aisle or you they’re knocking over.

2) Don’t let chiller cabinet doors shut on other people.

Sure, you’ve got your milk, and you’re obviously a very busy person. However, when someone is waist deep in a chiller cabinet, trying to get some of the produce at the back, it would be nice if you didn’t just let go of the spring-loaded door and let it smack them in the head. God forbid you should waste five seconds of your day to save someone from a concussion.

3) Show a bit of consideration.

When you arrive at the checkout with two fully-loaded shopping carts, and someone joins the line behind you with a pack of gum in their hand, let them go first. Either he can keep you waiting for 15 seconds, or you can keep him waiting for forty-five minutes.

4) Let people take their turn at the checkout.

When the person in front of you is putting an entire shopping cart’s worth of groceries on the conveyor belt, don’t put one of those “next customer” dividers on the belt as soon as they’ve put a single item on it. It’s hard enough to load a cart full of groceries onto that thing without having to push your groceries back every 5 seconds. Oh, and don’t forget to act all put out when the person ahead of you asks you to hold your own groceries back.

5) The checkout is for checking out, not a meeting place.

I don’t care if you know the check-out employee outside of work. When there’s a line of customers behind you, don’t start up a deep, involved conversation with the girl behind the counter and just stand there with your money in your hand while you discuss what Maureen said about Agnes at Cousin Steve’s wedding. Oh, and definitely don’t act all offended and put out when the British guy behind you asks you to hurry up before his chicken tenders defrost.

6) The time to get your money/credit card/checkbook ready is when you’re waiting in line.

You’ve stood in line for 15 minutes, yet you wait until everything has been rung up before you even think of searching that bumper-sized purse for your pocket-book. It’s ok, all the people behind you don’t mind waiting another 25 minutes while you find your checkbook, look for a pen, find a pen, put it back in your purse and look for one that actually works…then pull the same pen out again. Bonus points if you give up on the check and try a debit card, spend another 10 minutes trying to remember your pin, before finally paying with the cash your wallet is stuffed with.

7) There are other people in the store other than you.

Yep, it’s fine to walk as slowly as possible, blocking the entire aisle, while frequently stopping dead with no warning. We particularly enjoy it when you keep the five people behind you waiting for 10 minutes while you have a long discussion about how you didn’t know that Ragu made a mushroom spaghetti sauce and how good that sounds…before eventually moving on without actually buying it. Congratulations, you’ve just made continental drift appear blazing fast.

8) Have a little perspective.

When you’ve bought an item that’s listed as a dollar 10, but it turns up on the register as a dollar 14…just pay the extra four fucking cents. Don’t argue with the check-out girl for ten minutes, then speak with the manager, then have the stock boy check the price, then go through another 15 minute rigmarole while the manager tries to work out how to void the entry…and don’t act all offended and put out when the British guy behind you hands you as quarter and tells you to keep the change.

9) The laws of physics actually apply to you.

When leaving the store, just go ahead and walk out into the parking lot without looking. Don’t even register the fact that a car has just had to squeal its brakes to avoid hitting you…just continue walking along without a care in the world, and you get bonus points for walking as slow as possible.

10) Be willing to walk that extra 12 steps.

Those spots for shopping carts in the parking lot are there for a reason. Apparently they’re there to remind you to just drop your cart wherever you like. Other drivers love trying to return home through an obstacle course of shopping carts.

Did I miss anything? No? Good.