Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How Was Your Day?

(Before reading, bear in mind that I sleep during the day and I’ve been up since 2pm yesterday afternoon)

[Yesterday - 10.00pm] Feel really ill, and ‘enjoy’ the Subway sandwich I had for lunch (that was loaded with jalepenos) in reverse. Discover what it must be like to snort rock salt and lighter fluid shortly after setting it on fire.

[12.00] Watch ‘Dirty Jobs’ while feeling sorry for myself. Feel a little better that despite the fact it feels I have the flu, at least I don’t work in a tannery.

[3.00am] Decide I really want some hot chocolate, but the decide that I don’t want to brave the freezing kitchen or risk finding out what a chicken bacon ranch sandwich (with lots of Jalapenos) mixed with hot chocolate tastes like in reverse.

[4.00am] Tell the dog to make me some hot tea. He looks at me, sneezes in my face and sits on my foot.

[5.30am] : I check the FedEx package tracking page and discover the my Edimensional Shutter glasses are ‘Out for Delivery’ from Greenville.

[5.30 – 8.00am] Squeeze in an hour of WoW and then re-watch my favorite ‘The Show with Ze Frank’ episodes until…

[8.01am] Sunny comes home, changes out of her work clothes and decides that as the bedroom is about -12 degrees farenheit, that she’ll wait up for the FedEx truck with me, rather than brave the cold alone.

[8.10am] Start watching ‘The Farce of the Penguins’ on OnDemand. Slowly realize it’s a really crappy spoof written purely so Bob Saget can attempt to drop his squeaky-clean image. Imagine stock footage of penguins, with lots of people saying ‘fuck’ and ‘bitches’.

[8.20am] Turn the TV off. Decide to try to nap on the sofa. Curse Bob Saget.

[8.30am] Discover two grown adults can not lie on a normal sized couch in comfort.

[9.20am] Wake up and find that my butt hole has decided that my mouth is trying to steal its job, and is trying to get in on the action.

[9.35am] Despite the cold, lament the fact that I didn’t have the foresight to put a roll of toilet paper in the freezer. Damn Jalepenos. Make note to tell the Subway guy that ‘some jalepenos’ does not mean ‘two very large handfuls’.

[9.40am] Sunny decides that braving the cold is preferable to the cramped conditions on the sofa, and retires to the bedroom. I finally stretch out and just about manage to fall asleep.

[10.00am] Hear a car door close outside, shock awake and run to the window to see if it’s Mr. FedEx. No such luck.

[10.30am] Start dreaming about the FedEx truck arriving and wake up. Body decides sleep is no longer an option.

[10.31am – 1.00pm] Try and fail to entertain myself until I’m so sleepy and nauseous, I lie back down on the couch.

[1.10pm] The phone rings, and I jump up in case it’s the FedEx guy asking for directions. It isn’t.

[1.15pm] Lie back down and try to get comfortable, while contemplating the fact that FedEx has delivered to my house at least three times, and on all three occasions have never been able to find the house due to a street name-change over 5 years ago.

[1.16pm] Also contemplate that since I gave the UPS guy directions the first time, they’ve never had trouble finding the house.

[1.20pm] Consider writing to FedEx and telling them it might be an idea to make a note of the directions to hard to find houses. Then realize that they won’t care. Check the tracking page again and see it’s still ‘Out for delivery’.

[1.30pm – 4.30pm] Have a great time falling asleep and waking up every five minutes. Finally admit defeat and get up when Sunny walks into the living room.

[4.45pm] Wonder if the FedEx guy simply put the package in the mailbox. Walk to the mailbox and find it empty.

[4.55pm] Check the tracking page again, only to find that my package is no longer ‘out for deliver’ but is ‘waiting for additional information from recipient’.

[4.56pm] Get really pissed off that the ‘delivery exception’ took place at 8.45am.

[5.00pm] Call FedEx and get told matter-of-factly that they’ve ‘sent me a postcard’. Apparently, the worldwide shipping organization doesn’t give their drivers cell-phones…or the common sense to call the number on the freaking box to ask for directions.

[5.10pm] Seriously consider asking the drone I’m talking to that she should tell their drivers to follow the US mail carriers, or ask a UPS employee if they can borrow a map because both of those are capable of finding my house no problem…but decide I don’t want them to play football with my package, so I make nice.

[5.15pm] Give the drone directions, who hangs up before I can ask when I can expect delivery.

[5.20pm] Spend a few minutes impotently bitching about how a delivery service has such a big problem finding a residence, despite the fact they’ve delivered here at least three times before.

[5.25pm] Decide that the entire FedEx corporation is made up of hard-chargers who wouldn’t know a Power-Move if it hit them in the face.

[5.30pm] Write a blog post about what a crappy day I’ve had…but add a live visitor map-tracker to my sidebar, which helps me restore some of the awesome.

How was your day?

Revelation

Have you ever looked back on your childhood through grown up eyes and realized you had a ‘friend’ that you have absolutely no idea how you even tolerated?

These kids are usually complete ass-hats who survive in your little circle of friends only because each one of you thinks everyone else likes him, so you don’t want to say anything.

I had a friend like that.

One of the things I thought that was most unfair as a kid was that this friend would get into trouble with his mother, and invariably blame it on me…sometimes when I wasn’t even there.

You know the kinds of things I’m talking about. He falls off a tree-swing and rips his new shirt, and I made him do it. He gets caught with cigarettes or other teenage contraband…and they’re not his, I’m making him hold them for me. He has a party while his parents are away, his house gets trashed…and the party was all my idea, and it was my other friends, ones he doesn’t even know, who trashed his house.

This would usually result in an irate phone call to my parents, and I’d get punished.

What was totally unfair was that the opposite wasn’t true. He’d push me in a river or something, and when I got home, soaking wet…I’d tell my mum that it was his fault, and I’d still get punished and told ‘I should have more sense’.

For years I thought my parents invented the saying “If he told you to jump of a bridge, would you do that?”

Let me just state for the record, I don’t hold a grudge against my own parents for this. When a parent calls you and says your son did something, you tend to believe them. Plus, logically, if someone you called a friend was such a complete and utter douche, you wouldn’t be friends with them.

Unfortunately, common sense and logic don’t kick in until well after your teenage years. Plus, if a friend tells you to do something you know will get you in trouble, you really should have more sense.

Long story short, my parents were responsible parents who taught me to accept the consequences of my actions, not to be a sheep and above all, that I was responsible for how I acted regardless of peer-pressure or outside influence. His parents were reactionary assholes who would rather believe anything than the fact that their perfect little angel was really an ass-hat troublemaker.

What I really don’t get is how his parents never once suggested that he should be strong willed enough to not to every stupid thing I supposedly told him to do. It’s like they believed I had some weird voodoo power over him that he was completely unable to resist. I’d tell him to do something, he’d do it, so it was entirely my fault.

Anyway, what sparked this little jaunt down memory lane?

Well, today I had a revelation. I was watching a podcast, and the host said that in order for his viewers to recognize each other in public, a great way to do it would be to print the show’s logo and staple it to their face.

Obviously, this was said it a completely sarcastic way, it was an obvious joke…but my first instinct was to think:

“Damn, that’s the kinda thing that could get this show shut down…all it would take is one dumb kid with his dad’s staple gun…”

That’s when the revelation hit me.

I always assumed that people like my friend’s parents were in the minority. Just one or two fruitcakes in a pile of normal people. Most people realize that the ultimate responsibility for their actions lies at their own feet, right? I mean, I can’t really deny responsibility for a crime because I saw an actor pretend to do it on TV, can I?

Then I realized…these people aren’t a minority at all. They’re the majority. They’re in control of our legal system, our government and our media outlets.

Think about it.

A dumb teenager watches a show like Jackass, tries to recreate a stunt and gets hurt. Some idiot watches a movie and tries to see if he really can dodge bullets and ends up in a wheelchair. Some idiot tries to use his new toaster in the shower and gets zapped.

What’s the outcome? People want Jackass taken off the air, want guns and violent movies banned and ask why it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the manual that taking a high voltage piece of kitchen equipment into the shower is a bad idea.

Basically, parents have been switched for lawyers, who call innocent parties and blame them for getting their (kids) clients in trouble.

No one ever gives the dumbass who jumped off his garage roof holding an umbrella a clip around the ear and a lecture on how they should have more sense. Instead, it’s all about who ‘made’ them do it. Who ‘influenced’ them. Who the ‘bad apple’ is that’s leading them astray.

It’s not the people who do a stunt safely, under controlled conditions with professional supervision who should get in trouble because some idiotic 15 year old tried to do the same stunt in his backyard. It should be the people who allowed their kid to get to 15 years old without giving them enough sense to not be a dumbass who should get in trouble.

Long story short, it all comes back to people like my friend’s parents:

Why actually think for yourself and accept responsibility when you can deny reality and live in a magical dream-world were everything that you do wrong is someone else’s fault?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Deep.

I received an email forward today.

It was quite interesting. Basically it shows the relative sizes of planets and stars. The comparisons gradually get bigger until it shows you that despite the fact our sun is roughly 620,000 miles across, when you compare it to Anteres, the size difference is roughly the same as comparing the Earth to a basketball.

Then, if you compare the size of Anteres, a single star, to the size of the planet Earth…if the planet was Anteres, the earth would be smaller than a grain of sand.

I found it fascinating until I got right to the end, and read:

“Now how big are you? How big are the things that will annoy you today? For that matter, how big are the things that are important? KEEP LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE”

Why is it that people feel the need to pass on these glib little comments? Is this supposed to be deep? Am I supposed to be inspired?

If you really think about this, what it’s saying is “Hell, if you’ve just lost your job, can’t make rent and you and your kids are going be homeless by this time next month…there’s a ball of flaming gas about a thousand light years away that’s literally millions of miles across! Doesn’t that make you feel better?”

In a word, no it doesn’t.

In fact, a smaller comparison would have much more of an effect.

“See how you banged your head today and it really hurt? Well today, a few thousand people worldwide just lost a loved one. Things could be worse.”

I suppose what bugs me the most about these things is that they’re self-indulgently ‘pseudo-deep’. You can almost feel the self-congratulationary pat on the back the author gave himself when he managed to tie that picture of a weird looking cloud formation with a hallmark-esque statement.

“Wow, that’s just beautiful. I’m so clever and deep! No one else could draw a comparison between people’s day to day problems and the cosmos. I must be special!”

You can’t get deep in a hallmark card, and you certainly can’t get deep in an email forward. If you want deep, log on to TED.com and listen to one of the many talks on science, technology, environmentalism or religion.

‘Deep’ makes you think and stays with you. You know if something is deep if it’s capable of disturbing you as much as ‘enlightening’ you.

A warm fuzzy ‘isn’t everything just great’ sentiment tenuously linked to a picture or fact isn’t deep. You know why?

Because everything isn’t great. The world’s going to hell in a handbasket.

But people like these ‘inspirational’ forwards because they make you feel good. They give you that warm fuzzy feeling that everything’s going to be ok.

I suppose my point is that if you can be uplifted by an email forward, if calling a picture of a cloud formation ‘The Hands of God’ (a picture that some kid photoshopped to look like the goatse image, by the way), can put a spring in your step and restore your faith in humanity… that just shows how truly shallow you are.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Stereoscopy

Well Sunny ordered me a pair of Edimensional 3D glasses, so when they arrive, I’ll post a full review (maybe even a video review, I haven’t decided yet).

Today’s post is pretty much a reply to Kato’s comment (as he’s the only other blogger I know who’s actually interested in this stuff).

Kato said :

I think it would probably become standard if the game companies decided it was a "must-have" for gaming. The R&D guys over at nvidia and ATI could probably get good 3D stereo to be a reality in games in a few short years if there was a push to develop it.

Well, I did some fairly extensive research and it turns out Nvidia has been fairly serious about stereoscopic 3D since 2001.

Download the right driver (freely available on the internet) and Nvidia cards natively support cross-eyed, red/cyan, shutter glasses and purpose made 3D monitors. (those are the ones that have the screen covered in teeny-weeny lenses that project the different angles to each eye).

Plus, shutter-glasses technology has come a long way. 99.9% of the reviews I read have said that new shutter glasses can produce a flicker-free image at 75hz. While results are obviously better the higher the refresh rates, response times and synchronization have improved to where really high refresh rates aren’t necessary.

The reasons I think 3D stereoscopy hasn’t become standard are threefold:

1) The first generation of shutter-glasses simply weren’t that good. Many used mechanical shutters, and while you got a 3D effect, they resulted in headaches, a flickery picture and looked plain goofy.

Of course, no one ever releases new technology and says “Ok, this is pretty crappy, but we’ll be able to do better soon”. People who bought them decided that they either didn’t work, or were just a novelty. It’s the equivalent of playing a home-brew Commodore 64 game in the 80’s, and then refusing to play ‘Dead Rising’ because you ‘tried video games and didn’t like them’.

Like I said in my original post, Virtual Reality would be amazing today, but when it first came out to play a VR game you needed to wear a 50lb headset, the controls were incredibly sluggish and the games just weren’t that much fun. Had it come out a little later, chances are we’d be wearing trackable VR head-mounted displays instead of monitors for gaming.

2) People aren’t aware of the technology, it’s capabilities or they believe it’s prohibitively expensive.

Say ‘Shutter glasses’ to most people and they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. Plus, when I wrote my original post, I assumed that Shutter Glasses were a lot less sophisticated than they are, and would cost a couple hundred bucks. Add to that the fact that most gamers believe you can only play certain games with them, and it’s no wonder they’re considered a novelty item.

In reality, you can get a pair for about $70 (or as low as $50 if you have a CRT monitor), and they work with the vast majority of games.

Long story short, people think they’ll be paying $250 bucks to play a handful of 3D games that just won’t be that good. What’s the motivation there?

3) Video card company’s business model doesn’t really allow for ‘new’ things.

Today, only Nvidia cards natively support Stereoscopy. Most others don’t, and are unlikely to do so in the near future.

As I’ve said, right now very few people use shutter glasses or are even aware of them. Because of that, there’s no real demand for support, which starts a vicious circle. People won’t buy them because of the lack of support, and card manufacturers won’t support them because of the lack of demand.

Even though they’ve been around for over a decade, PC shutter-based stereoscopy is still in its infancy, despite the fact that I don’t know of a single gamer who wouldn’t want to play their games in true 3D. In my opinion, it’s just a matter of ‘spreading the word’ and creating a demand for this technology.

Because...

You know, I don't say this nearly often enough, but I have the best wife in the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

WANT!!!!11!!!!1!


A few days ago I wrote a post about ‘True 3D’ gaming. I asked why, with today’s technology, this wasn’t just standard equipment.

Turns out it almost is standard equipment, just very few people are using it.

I did some research and found a pair of shutter glasses from Edimensional. These promised to turn the vast majority of my games into True 3D. The best part was the price for these was only $70 (or $50 if you have a CRT monitor).

I’d heard that Nvidia cards work much better with these glasses, because nvidia cards support ‘page flipping’ natively (rapidly switching between the two perspectives). ATI cards don’t…and I have a ATI card.

Anyway, just to check it out I downloaded the ATI driver from the website to see if it would actually work on my system. It worked on Half-life 2, Farcry, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Combat Flight Simulator. The only game I tried that it didn’t work on was my old copy of X-Wing Alliance.

Anyway, the idea of playing these games in true 3D has my mouth watering.

What I don’t get is why these glasses aren’t on every gamer’s desk. Every single review I read had nothing but good things to say about them, and installation consists of connecting a dongle between your graphics card and monitor.

From two of the many reviews I read:

“Playing HL2 I walked up to a group of rebels and as I approached, I saw they were standing in a circle. A REAL circle. The only way I can describe the effect is to say pull the screen out of your monitor, pull all the guts out, and put 4 GI-Joes in a circle inside. That’s what it looks like.”

“Call of Duty 2 is awesome with these. I nearly jumped out of my chair on instinct when I saw a panzershrek rocket coming at me. Driving games are great as well, you can really ‘feel’ the road. I got a sense of movement I’ve just never experienced in a game before.”

WANT!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Holier Than Thou

This morning I was following my usual job-search routine when I was surprised to find a job I could actually do in my Careerbuilder job search ‘matches’.

Don’t ask me why, but despite the fact I’ve set and reset my preferences hundreds of times, I still get matches along the lines of “Truck Driver”, “Nursing Assistant” and “Financial Advisor”.

The job I saw was basically Admin at a university.

I checked the requirements and was happy to see that not only did I have all the qualifications the asked for, my previous experience fit perfectly with what they wanted.

I noticed that it was a ‘religious’ university, but I figured that wouldn’t be a problem. I went to Catholic school and a Christian College and University. Plus, their website stated that they did not discriminate based on age, race or religion.

So I downloaded the application form. I even had to use…shudder…Internet Explorer to download it.

I opened the PDF and discovered that as well as not offering online applications, the PDF application wasn’t even fillable.

Isn’t it awesome how people keep up with technology?

Anyway, I digress.

I started looking through the form and was surprised to see that right at the top of the form, before education or experience they wanted to know what church I went to, it’s address, phone number and my pastor’s name.

I thought that was odd. They say they don’t discriminate on religion, but they seem to want an awful lot of information about it.

Further down, I looked at the references section, and right there in big bold type it said:

ONE REFERENCE MUST BE FROM YOUR PASTOR!

…and no, I didn’t add the exclamation point.

At the bottom of the application?

NO PART OF THIS APPLICATION MAY BE LEFT BLANK.

Now, in case my millions of posts on the subject haven’t clued you in, I’m an Atheist. I’m a dyed in the wool atheist. I’m not an atheist because I think it’s cool. I’m an atheist because I simply don’t believe in God, and that’s based on attending a catholic infant, primary and secondary school, a Catholic college and a multi-denominational Christian university.

I’ve looked at all the angles and just decided that religion isn’t for me.

Basically, because I’m not religious, I’m basically barred from this job. Let me be clear here, I’m an atheist, but believe that everyone else has to right to believe whatever they want.

I can’t fill in this form because I’m not a religious man. It might not be their official policy, but it’s painfully obvious that if I completed and sent that application, it’s go straight into file 13…the waste paper bin.

Now this is something that pisses me right off.

Sure, it’s a religious university, but I don’t see what my own religion (or lack of it) has to do with my ability to do administrative work. Is the fact that I don’t go to church on Sunday going to stop me from using a telephone or photocopier?

This is a classic case of ‘acceptable discrimination’. If I owned a business or was head of a University and refused to hire Christians or Muslims there’d be an uproar. However, it’s perfectly ok to discriminate against atheists because we’re godless heathens and deserve it, right?

Anyway, despite the fact that the interviewer reading the words “Not applicable – Atheist” on my application would see him using it to practice his three-point shot into the waste paper basket…I’ve decided I wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

Religion – Causing wars, sectarian violence and driving a wedge between people since time immemorial. The perfect excuse when you just want to look at the rest of the human race and think “I’m better than you.”

Friday, October 26, 2007

Third Dimension

If you haven’t already, I suggest you read the post Kato wrote on 3D that inspired me to write the following:

I’ve done a bit of real-life 3D photography in my time, so when I saw Kato’s post, I decided to give making ‘gaming’ 3D pictures a try. Not owning an Xbox360 or Halo, I fired up World of Warcraft.

Unfortunately, my cut-down ‘technique’ doesn’t allow for the same action shots that Kato’s 3D creations have. All I could do was set the in-game camera to first person, find a scene that had little or no movement, snap a screenshot and then tap the ‘sidestep right’ button.

What I ended up with was a 3D picture of an NPC standing outside the tavern in darkshire.

For me, the ‘wow factor’ of a 3D picture taken from a game is the sudden realization that all of those characters, buildings and scenery are actually 3D. We’re so used to seeing a 2D representation of a 3D environment, that seeing them in true 3D is mind blowing.

In other words, any time you play a first person shooter, or pretty much any game these days, you’re looking at a true 3D space that only seems flat because we’re only getting a single viewpoint.

[Science Content – Feel free to skip this part if you already know or don’t care how 3D picture work.

We see the real world in 3D because we get two slightly different pictures at different angles from each of our eyes. Our brains merge those two different images into a single three-dimensional image.

When we look at the 3D picture, we’re looking at two different viewpoints that are overlapped. We put on 3D glasses and because the blue image doesn’t show up through the blue lens and the red doesn’t show up through the red lens, our left eye only sees the left angle and vice versa. We get the two different viewpoints that make up a 3D image.

When you play a game, you’re looking at 3D geometry from a single camera view. That’s why it’s ‘flat’ and doesn’t jump out at you.]

Anyway, this got me thinking.

In the early 90’s a few games came out that had stereoscopic display options. The two that stick in my mind are ‘Magic Carpet’ and ‘Descent’.

My favorite way to play Descent was with the ‘cross eyed’ 3D view. This simply put the two different viewpoints on the screen side by side. To play in that view I taped a piece of paper to my glasses that was positioned in such a way that it blocked the right image from the left eye and vice versa.

Sure, I looked stupid, but I was playing a 3D game in true 3D without losing any of the colors that I would if I used red/blue glasses…and you know what? It was awesome.

It’s hard to explain just how big a difference playing in true 3D makes. It made flying around those tunnels a lot easier, and actually seeing enemy fire flying towards you gave a level of immersion I’d never experienced before.

Anyway, last night, as I looked at my 3D picture of World of Warcraft, I had to ask myself…Why isn’t true 3D standard by now?

Of course, using red/blue glasses robs you of a lot of the color, which is a big no-no in our ‘pretty graphics are essential’ world. The cross eye method (even using a home-made ‘blocker’ like I did) only works if your head is in just the right position. You can buy headsets now that have a separate screen for both eyes, but those are expensive.

But what about shutter glasses?

These became available in the mid 90’s, but they were expensive as hell and made the image flicker. They worked by having your monitor alternate between the two viewpoints while the shutter glasses used LCD shutters to block each eye in time with the picture on screen.

These were expensive and buggy in 1994, but what about today? LCD screens (like the one in your pocket calculator) are cheap as chips, monitors have much higher refresh rates and graphics cards are much, much faster.

With the drop in costs, I’d bet you could sell a pair of shutter glasses along with software to make them work with existing games for under $60. (As an aside, a TV manufacturer I’ve written about previously wrote software that converted regular games to true 3D, so we know that’s possible)

I think this is another case of “before its time” syndrome. Just like virtual reality gaming that was a huge flop in the early 90’s (people didn’t want to wear a 50lb helmet to play a game with terrible graphics, using a control system that was sluggish and unresponsive), people didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a device that gave them a splitting headache.

With today’s technology all those problems would be solved and we’d be able to play our existing games in true 3D for about the same cost as a new console title.

So I ask again…why isn’t this standard equipment by now?

roflmao?

Communicating with the written word is tough.

Studies have shown that about 70-80% of communication is unspoken. If you think about that for a minute, it’s mind-blowing. Body language and the volume and tone of your voice convey more information that what you’re actually saying.

For example, I could say:

“Hey, nice shirt.”

Depending on how I say that, I could be amazingly impressed by your shirt, just be making a casual, off the cuff comment…or more likely (at least in my case) I could be being incredibly, incredibly sarcastic.

That’s where the problem comes in. If 80% of conversation is non-verbal, that means we’re only being 20% clear when we’re writing.

I started thinking about this today when I realized that there’s really no good way to express laughter in writing.

I know, I know, you can always write ‘LOL’, but lets face it, ‘lol’ has become the written equivalent of a verbal tick. When was the last time you typed ‘lol’ and actually laughed out loud?

If we were strict, ‘lol’ would be replaced with ‘twabla’. Twabla stands for ‘That Was Almost Border Line Amusing’.

That’s why if something actually does make you laugh out loud, we resort to ‘lmao’, ‘rofl’ or even the dreaded ‘roflmao’.

Even then, when you ‘roflmao’ you’re almost certainly not ‘rolling on the floor laughing your ass off’, what’s much more likely is you did that weird little laugh where you don’t even bother opening your mouth, and just make a ‘hmmmph’ noise through your nose with one flex of your diaphragm.

So, forgetting acronyms, what are we left with?

“That was funny, you made me laugh.”

Well, that takes way too long, so we can forget that for a start.

Writing “Funny” or “That’s funny” is right out as well, thanks to our 80% problem. Is the person who just wrote “funny” after your awesome joke genuinely appreciating you amazing sense of humor, or are they just being sarcastic?

So our last option is onomatopoeia, but even that doesn’t work.

Ha ha? Tee hee? Heheh?

‘Ha ha’ has sarcasm built in. Think about it, when you laugh in real life, no one ever actually says ‘ha ha’, unless they’re saying it extremely slowly and just dripping with sarcasm.

‘Tee Hee’ is right out for guys because it looks as gay as a French horn, and for girls it sounds like the laugh of a cheerleader with ultra-low self esteem who’s laughing at a joke she doesn’t understand while trying to be obnoxiously ‘cute’ in the hope that someone will finally notice her.

‘Heheh’ sounds like the kind of laugh an uber-dork uses when he believes his victory in an online discussion somehow translates to real-life achievement.

Basically, we need to invent a whole new word to signify genuine laughter in an online conversation.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Abstinence Rocks!

Driver’s Ed Class

Tuesday

2.01pm

“Ok class, welcome to Driver’s Ed. All you need to know is that driving is incredibly dangerous, could kill you or leave you with a medical condition you’ll carry around with you for the rest of your life. Therefore, you should never drive ever. Class dismissed.”

“Errr, sir? I have some questions.”

“There’s no need for questions, I’ve explained everything you need to know. Don’t drive, ever. Write that down.”

“But…my older brother mentioned something about seatbelts? He said you should never drive unless you’re wearing one? I was also wondering what a seatbelt is and why they’re so important? Also, what’s an airbag? What side of the road should I drive on? Do red lights mean to stop or go?”

“Let me tell you something. Your brother is an evil, evil person who is trying to tempt you into driving. People who drive are terrible people with no morals or respect for human life. You don’t need to know about seatbelts or anything else to do with driving…other than that it’s incredibly dangerous and could kill you…because you should never drive. Haven’t I made that clear yet?”

“Yes sir.”

One hour later.

“Ok, come to the front, sign this “I Won’t Drive Until I’m 40 Because Then The Insurance Premiums Are Cheaper” pledge, which you’ll take seriously for about five minutes until one of your friends starts telling you about turbo chargers and power steering, then you can leave. Class dismissed.”

Staff Room

Tuesday

3.10pm

“Hey Bill, how did your Drivers Ed class go?”

“Hey Tom. Driver’s Ed was awesome. I get such a great feeling knowing I’m teaching those kids something important that could literally save their lives.”

“That’s great! Did you show them the pictures of all the car wrecks?”

“Yep, it’s great to know I’m making a difference.”

“You know, the other day I heard someone say that the way we teach drivers ed just gives kids the impression that driving is somehow mysterious and ‘forbidden’, something which will make teenagers just want to drive all the more…while at the same time ensuring they’ll experiment with driving on their own, without any guidance or knowledge, without using even the most basic of safety precautions because they don’t know about them.”

“Hell Tom, that’s just crazy talk.”

“I know, you’re preaching to the choir there Bill! If it wasn’t for people like you, we’d have kids driving all over the place!”

“You’re damn right, Tom.”

The Other Side

Ozzy made a comment on my last post that I think is becoming far too common.

People are shying away from online gaming because they can’t be bothered dealing with the douchebags who play to talk trash or ruin everyone else’s fun.

Speaking from experience, I’ve played online games with people I know from real life, blogging or from elsewhere on the internet and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I just think it’s sad that people are robbing themselves of that experience because of idiots.

This whole topic reminds me of a comment MC Etcher made after one of my posts on ‘internet predators’. I have to paraphrase (it’s been at least a year since I wrote that post) but if I remember rightly, he made the point that the internet is just made up of regular people. If the world is 20% idiots, 20% of the people you meet online will be idiots.

Of course, when it comes to plain old douchebaggery, this number inflates a little because the people who don’t have the balls to talk trash in real life have no problem acting like assholes with the anonymity the internet provides.

The worst thing about this is, the more people that turn away from online gaming to avoid those annoying people, the higher the ratio of ‘ass-clown to normal person’ online.

Luckily, idiots aren’t quite as widespread as you might think.

For example, here’s my experience playing WoW today:

First of all, I needed help with a quest, and a high-level guildmate helped me out. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but you have to understand that this was a long quest, taking a couple of hours and the person that helped me got absolutely nothing out of it but my thanks.

While I got lots of experience points, the enemies we fought were too low level to give my guildmate any.

Long story short, someone took a couple of hours out of their life, doing a quest they’d already done for no other reason than to help me out. Bear in mind that this was time they could have spent advancing their own character.

When we’d finished, I offered to ‘tip’ him for his help and he simply said:

“Don’t worry about it, I remember being where you are. If you need help on anything else and I’m online, just let me know.”

Secondly, in stark contrast to yesterday, I got challenged to a duel. This time however, I was waiting for a ship to come in at a port, so I had nothing else to do. My challenger was only a couple levels above me so I accepted.

It was a really close thing, but I got beaten. Half expecting a long tirade of “OMG u suck! In ur face n00b!”, I was pleasantly surprised when the guy said.

“Good match! Close one…you nearly had me right at the end. Rematch?”

“Sure.” I said.

That time, knowing his tactics, I scraped a victory.

After that, the ship arrived and we realized we were heading to the same place for the same quest so we teamed up. After a bit of travel, we fought through a cave system, killed the boss and came to a chest.

Normally, the ‘etiquette’ here is to ‘roll’ for the right to loot the chest. (You type /roll and it generates a random number between 1 and 100, whoever gets the high number gets the chest.)

“Wanna roll for the chest?” I said.

“Nah, you have it, I got the blue (high level) weapon the boss dropped, you take it.”

“Sure?” I asked.

“Yeah go ahead.”

Basically, when a bad guy drops a high-level item, the game automatically rolls to decide who in the group gets it. That’s why he got the good weapon, because he won the roll. Normal playing etiquette says that you roll for everything of value (manually or automatically)…if you lose every roll, too bad, better luck next time.

So you can understand why it’s a fairly big deal for a player to give up his chance to get the contents of a treasure chest, just because of their own sense of fairness.

Basically, I suppose my overall point is that the majority of players (at least in WoW) are just out to have some fun. Unfortunately too many people let the idiot minority spoil it.

All I’m gonna say is…ass-hats are what the mute button is for.

Anyway, if anyone feels like giving WoW a tryout, you can download the client for free and get a free week playing. I also got three 1 week “guest passes” with my retail version that I’d be happy to give out to anyone who wants them.

If you give it a try, let me know and be sure create your character on the Aerie Peak server.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Human Nature and WoW

Ok, I’ve been playing WoW for a couple weeks now, and I gotta say I’m loving it. It has a great sense of humor (like the mission where you have to get to a cave and back within an hour, fighting all the way…while drunk off your ass) and the way the game will ‘slur’ your speech for you when you chat when your character is drunk.

I also the like the checks and balances that are in place. For example, if a Horde raid party attacks, they can only attack you if you attack them first. In other words, when 30 level 70 players show up in Stormwind, you don’t have to worry about getting slaughtered if you’re low level. You can just kick back and watch the battle.

Secondly, if you do attack another player, your PvP flag is set to ‘on’ for about ten minutes…to stop people abusing it by attacking then turning off their PvP flag when they come under attack themselves..

I also like the dueling system where, on a non-PvP server, you can fight other players, but only if both players agree to duel.

Unfortunately, it’s the dueling system that made me want to write this post.

Yep, more multiplayer douchebaggery.

I was using the forge in Goldshire, when someone challenges me to a duel. Because I was busy, I just clicked ‘decline’. Then the dude who challenged me started calling me a ‘chicken’ (among other things), and was basically trying to goad me into fighting him.

So I target the guy to see what level he is. He’s level 60, I’d just got to level 30.

Now let me explain this concept:

No matter how good you are, even if you have the best possible weapons and armor for your level, you don’t stand a chance against someone that much higher than you. If I’d dueled this guy, he’d have had to hit me maybe 3 times to kill me. Long story short, at level 60 this guy could start a duel, leave his computer, go make coffee and not even be at half health by the time he got back.

So I’m watching this guy, who’s randomly challenging people, and I notice he’s only challenging people who have no chance of beating him. Occasionally, a new guy would accept and get killed in a couple of hits…and then the trash talking would begin.

I mean, this guy was really getting into it. He’d trash anyone who refused to fight him, and then trash anyone who did and lost.

It’s this simple: At level 60, to beat the people this guy was challenging, all he’d have to target them and click ‘attack’. No skill, no tactics, just set his character attacking and that’s it. When you can do 1500 points of damage with a single hit, and your opponent can only take 2000 points of damage…you just can’t lose.

Let me just say that, WoW does take a lot of tactics and planning, but it’s got to be said that you can level up a character by just plugging away. It might take a terrible player months longer to max out his character than a good player, but the point is that you can get to level 70 with no skill at all.

Now, I just don’t understand that mentality. I’ve won a couple of duels against people of my own level and won one or two against people a few levels above me. I can understand the satisfaction in winning.

What I don’t understand is how anyone can get any satisfaction from ‘winning’ a contest they can’t possibly lose, or the need to trash talk when your ‘victory’ is like winning a boxing match against a blind guy with no arms.

“Wooo! I clicked my basic attack and watched my character kick your character’s ass! I rule! You suck!”

What really cracked me up is that while this guy was really building up a head of steam, trash-talking a level 5 he’d just one-hit killed, one of my guild-mates walked into the forge.

My guild mate is a level 70 and I told him what was going on. Just for clarity, he’d been playing WoW since it first went live and has pretty much the best weapons and armor available. He challenged the douchebag to a duel.

Can you guess what happened next?

That’s right, the guy declined, and when my friend started giving him a taste of his own medicine, he actually said:

“u loser, why don’t you challenge someone ur own level!”

That’s the mentality I don’t understand. Getting far too much satisfaction from winning a battle you can’t lose, refusing to play against anyone that even comes close to being a challenge…and crying foul when someone treats you the way you’re treating everyone else.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ghost Hunters

I love ‘Ghost Hunting’ shows on TV. This isn’t because I’m particularly interested in the paranormal, but just because how unintentionally funny they are. People who call themselves ‘skeptical investigators’, who don’t actually investigate anything, but jump to conclusions in an instant.

“Wow, I suddenly felt cold! This place is sooo haunted!”

Not a drafty window then?

I particularly enjoy “Most Haunted” with their ‘psychic’ freak who gets ‘possessed’ by a different spirit every single week.

Think about that. A guy who gets paid to talk to ghosts just so happens to be able to see and hear them on cue, when no-one else can. I need to get into that line of work.

My favorite show has to be “Ghost Hunters” with the TAPS crew. Those guys are just awesome. They call themselves skeptics, but are just as bad as every other paranormal investigator out there.

I knew Ghost Hunters was going to be one of my favorite shows when the lead guy, who looks like the bastard offspring of Michael Chiklis and a testicle looked at the camera and said, in all seriousness, that his day-job as a Roto-rooter plumber gave him important skills needed by paranormal investigators.

It always starts out fairly reasonable. Cameras, audio recorders, infra-red and thermal cameras…but then the electro-magnetic field detectors come out.

“Oh wow, I’m getting a reading of 2.4 from this wall on the EMF! What’s going on?”

I dunno guys…maybe electrical wires in the wall?

One of my favorites was when they were using the EMF gadgets in a castle, and one of the ‘investigators’ says:

“I’m getting a reading of 4.5 in here! There’s no wiring, there shouldn’t be any reading in here!”

Hey genius, what’s that in your other hand? That’s right, a video camera! The guy behind you is carrying a digital voice recorder, another camera…and the guy filming you for the show is carrying a full-sized video camera and a bag full of audio equipment. If you look up, you’ll see the gigantic boom microphone the sound guy’s holding over your head.

Honestly, where could all these electromagnetic fields be coming from? A fricking cell phone can get a reading of over 90 on an EMF detector, and you’re wondering where that 2.3 reading is coming from? The planet has its own electromagnetic field…that’s how compasses work.

Then we come to the really good bits, where one of the investigators gets shoved or knocked over by a ghost.

Basically, you have a group of guys looking for ghosts, thinking about ghosts, getting all nervous and stressed out…walking around in old buildings with uneven floors in the dark. Then one of them trips. Is it any surprise the first thing they think is ‘ghost’.

Our brains are basically pattern-recognition machines. They take in all the information from our senses and try to pigeon-hole what we see into something we recognize.

Basically we sense something and our brains try to match it to something we know about, taking our surroundings and situation into account. That’s why we can see a dark spot on the wall in our house and our brain shouts “Spider!” but when we look we see it’s just a mark…or we’re outside and our brain shouts “Snake!” when we see a section of garden hose poking out of the grass. It’s why we see a bathrobe handing on the door, and in the dark mistake it for a hooded figure.

So when you have a group of ‘ghost hunters’ in a really creepy place they’ve been told is haunted, while they think and talk about ghosts, getting more and more nervous and stressed…is it any surprise they see ‘ghosts’?

Then they start feeding off each other. Someone says they saw a ghostly face in one particular room. Expecting to see it, someone else goes in there, their eyes play tricks on them and they see it too.

Then the first guy says “It was a face, in a hood.” The second guy thinks “Yeah, I suppose it might have had a hood, I thought it was long hair, but yeah, it could have been…it must have been a hood!” Then he says “Yeah, and it had a beard.” The other guy thinks “I suppose it might have had a beard. It was dark, I mustn’t have noticed it…but come to think of it, it did look like it had a bit of a beard. Yeah, it had a beard.”

Then they tell the other investigators and say “We both saw the same thing separately, and our descriptions match up exactly!

To close today, let me tell you about an experiment I read about:

A psychologist took a group of people camping in the woods; telling them they were taking part in study on teamwork. He took the subjects on a ‘nature walk’ through the woods where they came across a taped-off section of the forest, with a security guard standing in front of it, who told them they had to turn back.

On the way back, the psychologist ‘jokingly’ said a UFO probably crashed, and raised the subject, asking if anyone had any UFO stories. At the camp that night, he brought up the subject again and they started talking about what they saw in the woods.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Follow up

Ok, this is just a short post to answer a comment on my racism post.

Amanda said:

“I agree that racism goes both ways. But I think Don Imus shouldn't have made that comment.”

I completely and totally agree, it was in bad taste. My point, however, is he got fired and will probably never work in broadcasting again. It was a throwaway comment that literally ended his career. However, the penalty was only so great because it was a white man commenting on a black team.

Compare that outcome to what would happen if a black announcer had referred to a white team as a bunch of “honkys”. Absolutely nothing would happen. At worst, he or she might be asked to make an apology, but it certainly wouldn’t end their career.

Amanda then went on to say:

“Your example of the longest yard isn't right. I mean that's literally calling a black person dumb rather that just saying haha typically he's bad at sports.. i just think your example is unequal.”

For this one I completely and totally disagree. Let me explain why:

Both jokes consist of a self-depreciating comment using a racist generalization as illustration. I chose this line as an example to specifically point out two things: First is the double standard, secondly that a white guy can still come off as a racist even when he’s the butt of his own joke.

You’re saying is that Chris Rock’s joke simply says that ‘Chris Rock is bad at sports’, yet Adam Sandler’s joke is a slur against black people. Chris Rock is just saying he’s terrible at sports, but Adam Sandler is calling black people dumb.

In a way, you’ve proven my point for me. We’ve become so conditioned to see racist jokes that make fun of white people as perfectly acceptable, that we accept them without comment. On the other hand, the opposite is completely and totally unacceptable.

As I said in my last post, we see a black comedian spending an hour ripping on white people as just funny comedy, but if a white guy tells one black joke he’s a racist.

Think about the ‘Longest Yard’ joke:

“I was so bad at sports at school, I only got picked after the white kids.”

How does that just say that Chris Rock is bad at sports? It says that only if we accept the generalization that all white people suck at sports. Of course, that isn’t true and as such is a racist comment, plain and simple.

From the Dictionary:

Racism - The belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior

Chris Rock’s joke plainly states the idea that his race is superior to whites in the area of sports. How can that not be seen as racist?

The point is that we’ve gotten so used to this kind of humor that the anti-white stereotype jokes have been almost accepted as fact. White people can’t dance, White people are bad at sports, etc, etc.

My main point is that there’s no difference at all between those jokes, we’ve just been conditioned to see one as acceptable and the other as unacceptable.

Long story short, my initial conclusion still stands:

In society today it’s perfectly acceptable for minorities to make fun of white people, but if a white guy makes fun of any minority he’s in for a lot of trouble.

The way I see it, either everything’s fair game, or nothing is.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Racism?

Last night I was flicking through the TV and found myself watching a Chris Rock stand-up special.

Here’s the deal. Chris Rock is simply one of the most racist individuals in America today. I mean his entire act was racist comedy. I mean, every single joke was just an attack on white people.

Now, let me be absolutely clear here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I’ve watched tons of comedians rip white folks a new one and laughed my ass off the entire way through it. I can take a joke, and if it’s funny, I’ll like it.

The reason I single Chris Rock out as racist is he’s one of those people who thinks it’s fine to make fun of whites, but cries racism if someone tells a black joke. He’s got a huge chip on his shoulder and loves to display it.

I’ve heard people have used the term ‘reverse racism’ to describe this, which just completely highlights to me how wrong people have it. There’s no such thing as ‘reverse racism’ because that implies that racism only goes one way. I hate to be the one to say this, but it is possible to have a racist black guy, a racist Mexican, etc.

Unfortunately, that’s the problem. We see only white people as being capable of racism.

I’ve noticed this trend in comedy. If you watch a white comedian, you’ll see someone tell funny stories and jokes. If you watch an ‘ethnic’ comedian, 99 times out of a hundred, what you’re in for is an hour of nothing but racial jokes.

Now this is fine. The comedians I particularly like are the ones that make fun out of everybody. I personally think that if everyone just decided it was ok to make fun out of everyone else, we’d all get along a lot better.

There’s nothing offensive about a lot of racial comedy, especially if the things they talk about are actually true. The problem is it’s not a two way street.

That’s the thing that pisses me off.

Chris Rock gets on stage and tells nothing but white jokes, but Don Imus says “Nappy-headed ho’s” and he loses his job in the middle of a national scandal.

If you don’t believe me, try the following experiment. The next time you’re watching a movie, TV show or comedy special and a minority makes a racial joke, imagine he’s white and flip the joke.

For example, in “The Longest Yard” Chris Rock says:

“I was so bad at sports at school, I got picked me after the white kids.”

Now imagine that instead of Chris Rock, it was Adam Sandler who said something like:

“I was so dumb at school I got lower test scores than the black kids.”

See what I mean? Exactly the same joke, but when Chris Rock says it, everyone laughs. If Adam Sandler had said it, his career would be over.

Now again, to be absolutely clear, even though I know that a few people reading this will brand me as a racist anyway, if you want to make white jokes, go right ahead. I’ve never heard a white joke that’s offended me.

The problem is, you can’t go on stage, rip white people a new one…and they cry fowl if we do it back. Minority comedians can have nothing but ‘racist’ material and be successful…but if a white guy makes a racial joke, it’s career suicide.

This goes for all other areas as well.

Major Ray Nagin of New Orleans said he wanted to rebuild a ‘Chocolate city’ after Katrina…Imagine if Arnie said he wanted to rebuild a ‘Vanilla’ California if Katrina had struck there? Would he still be in office?

Basically it comes down to equality. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.



Just Sayin'...

Ladies,

When your partner is sitting at the end of the couch, minding his own business and you decide to stretch out and put your head or feet on his lap...you have absolutely no right to complain when we 'disturb' you by moving or getting up for a drink, etc. When you enter another's personal space to increase your own comfort, they are allowed to make themselves comfortable also.

Also, you may not get mad when your sleep-deprived partner wakes you up in order to get you to stop snoring. Plus, when your partner has just spent the last hour listening to you sawing logs, insisting that you weren't snoring upon being woken up is the only time when a male is legally entitled to remove you bodily from the bed and lock you out of the house for the duration of the night.

That is all

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Dumb Customer Adventures.

I seem to be having a week of it. First I end up sitting near the 'seedophobe' at Applebees, and today I end up behind the worlds most annoying (yet funny) little old lady at the Dollar General.

Let me set the scene:

Sunny and I have been grocery shopping, stopped at Jack in the Box on the way home and then stopped into Dollar General for dog food. We have groceries rapidly defrosting the car, and trying to keep Sunny focussed when there's Christmas merchandise in the vicinity is like trying to herd cats.

Basically I want to get home before my Mahi Mahi defrosts.

Se we go up to the checkout line (me carrying a rather heavy bag of dog food on my shoulder), when a Little Foreign Lady (henceforth known as the LFL) reaches the checkout.

Let me describe this lady. She looks middle-eastern, she's about four feet tall and wearing one of those head-dress things. Her cart is simply jam-packed with kids clothes. She pulls out a T-Shirt...

and it begins...

"How much is this?"

"That's five dollars."

"I don't want it."

The cashier sighs and puts it on the counter behind her.

"How much is this one?"


"That's also five dollars."

"I don't want it."

(This repeats for at least ten different items, then she changes it up a bit.)

"How much is this one?"


"Two-fifty."

"Is it for boy or girl?"

"It's for boys."

"Too small, don't want it."

I look over to where all these clothes are coming from, and I see a sign that has everything clearly marked. I thought for a second that the LFL might be having problems not being able to read English, but it's a tag sale. Each item of clothing has a colored tag, and the sign simply has the color next to the price. So apparently, decoding this devious cypher was to much trouble for the LFL, so she just decided to grab everything she was interested in and go through them one by one with the cashier.

"Is this for boy or girl?"

"Sigh...girl"

"Oh good, how much is it?"

"Three-fifty."

"I don't want it."

Despite the fact I really wanted to get home, at this point I'm trying not to laugh because the cashier is getting more and more irritated. There's a stack of clothes behind her and so far, out of about 30 different shirts, the LFL's bought about two. This has taken at least 15 minutes so far and the line's getting long. Everyone's staring daggers at the LFL.

"How much is this one."

"Five dollars."

This time the cashier just drops the item behind her before waiting for the "I don't want it." By this time, and I'm not exaggerating in the slightest, there's a full blown mound of clothing behind the cashier.

After standing behind the LFL for at least 20 minutes, another employee comes over and opens the other register. We walk round and pay for our dog food and the other items we'd bought. Suddenly Sunny whispers in my ear:

"Make sure you ask how much everything is and then say you don't want it."

I just lost it and cracked up.

We lost track of the LFL then, but as we were putting our stuff in the car, we see her outside, looking at floral dresses. (Dollar General sometimes puts sale items outside the store.) As I'm fastening my seatbelt, the cashier comes out of the door and in a very irate voice, says to the LFL:

"Ma'am, I can't hold the line forever you know."

The LFL looks at the cashier like she's walked into her house on Christmas morning and pissed on her kids. I mean she looks really put out. Then she pulls a dress off the rack and says:

"How much is this?"

"That's five dollars."

"I don't want it."

I couldn't believe it. After holding up the line for half an hour, once she'd gone through every item in her cart, she'd gone outside to look for more. the cashier had already rung up the three T-shirts she'd bought, so she had to finish that sale before helping anyone else.

So the cashier is standing there in disbelief, and the LFL just puts the dress back on the rack and continues browsing. At this point I closed the car door, so I didn't hear the exchange, but the next thing I know the cashier grabs a dress out of the LFL's hands and stamps back into the store, followed by the LFL who just strolls along, looking all put-out.

The funniest thing is, I know that when the LFL gets home, she's going to tell her family how rude and unhelpful the Dollar General staff is, and how they're probably racist.

I mean, after all, she spent at least nine dollars in there, and all the cashier had to do was spend half an hour going through every item of clothing in the store, and will have to reshelf the sixty or so different items she decided she didn't want.

No wonder we immigrants get such a bad rap.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Adventures At Applebees

Sunny and I went out to eat today. I overheard the following at the table behind me:

“Excuse me, do your rolls have seeds?”

“No ma’am.”

“Then why does this picture in the menu show seeds on them?”

“That’s a burger bun ma’am, and only the weight-watchers buns have sesame seeds on them, all our other sandwiches, burgers and rolls come without.”

“Well, you see, I can’t eat seeds.”

“Well, like I said, all our rolls and sandwiches other than the weight watchers ones, come without seeds. If you want one of the weight watcher’s sandwiches, I can get you one without seeds.”

“Yeah, I’m allergic to seeds, if I eat one I’ll get sick.”

(silence)

“If I eat even one seed I’ll have to go to the emergency room.”

“Well you won’t have to worry, you won’t get anything with seeds.”

“My throat closes up and I can’t breathe, I’d need a shot.”

“Ummm, well nothing we serve has seeds on it.”

“But you just said the weight-watcher’s sandwiches have seeds.”

“I know, but I can order you one without seeds.”

“You see, anything with seeds would make me really ill.”

“Ok…So you want a weight watchers sandwich? Which one did you want?”

“I don’t want a weight watchers sandwich.”

After about another five minutes of seed-talk, the stupid be-atch said:

“Hmmm, the chicken bacon ranch sandwich, what is that?”

It’s a chicken sandwich with ranch dressing and bacon you stupid bitch! I thought. The clue’s in the fucking name!

Bear in mind I was waiting for this same waitress to come take our order and after ‘The History Of My Seed Allergy’, I wasn’t in the mood to wait while she asked more stupid questions.

I mean, right there in the menu it gave a full description:

‘Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich. One whole crispy chicken breast on a bun with our famous buttermilk ranch dressing, lettuce, onion and tomato. All sandwiches served with fries and side-salad’

So, the waitress reeled off what was written in plain English in front of this dumbass customer.

“And what does that come with?”

Aaaargh!!! It’s written in the fricking menu you daft bitch! You’re looking right at it. How are you even allowed out on your own?

Basically, this customer was basically saying ‘Read the menu to me, I can’t be bothered.’

Finally she ordered. I put my menu on the edge of the table in anticipation… and just as the waitress started to walk away, I heard:

“Excuse me. What type of tomato comes on that sandwich?”

“Excuse me?”

“What type of tomato comes on that sandwich?”

“Errrr, sliced?”

“No, I mean what type?

“I don’t know, regular sliced tomatoes.”

“Hmmph.”

“I could find out for you if you like?”

“Never mind, if I don’t like it, I’ll pick it off.” (she sounded so put out here).

“Ok ma’am, your order will be out shortly.”

Then, finally as the waitress walked away, the retard called after her:

“Oh! The Chicken bacon ranch sandwich doesn’t come with seeds, does it?”

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH!

Having worked in the service industry myself, people like that really piss me off. They’re not happy at any restaurant unless they find at least three things to bitch about, refuse to actually read a menu and are uber-finicky about their order.

Long story short, if you’re allergic to a hundred different things, will eat only imported Italian tomatoes, can’t eat bread with wheat in it and act like your waitress punched you in the face if she brings you a diet soda instead of regular…don’t go out to eat at Applebees.

If you act like this, let me let you in on a little secret. Your steak was spat on, wiped around the sink and sneezed on before it hit your table.

Also, if you think I’m wrong about these people, I worked in a place once where a customer sent back a beer because he said it was flat. I took the same beer, poured it into a new glass and took it back. He took a sip and said it was ‘much better’

It’s the same beer, dumbass!

For some reason these people think acting like a douche in a restaurant is somehow impressive. ‘Look at me, I sent back a steak! I’m awesome!”

Other noteworthy event of today:

We went to the second hand store to see if they had any good books. I found the following gem:

“How to get your point across in less than 30 seconds!”

Length of the book? 250 pages.

…how deliciously ironic.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

No Sense At All....

This is something I just don’t get.

In Second Life, the way the average person makes money is to actually buy it with real-life money. You get a lot of beggars because the new players have no idea how to go about making money.

You see, making money in Second Life is more of an actual real-life business arrangement. If you want to make money in SL you have to get a job.

Not a job in the ‘Go kill 10 goblins’ sense…but in the sense that you have to provide a real product or service that people will want. Work as a bouncer in someone’s club, open up photoshop and start designing clothes etc.

Call me na├»ve, but I honestly didn’t expect the same thing in WoW. Go into any major city or outpost and one thing you’re sure to run into is some low-level player begging the high level players for money for a new sword or piece of armor.

The response to this is always visceral.

If you think about it, it’s easy to make money in WoW. You go out and kill things and collect the money they drop. Sure, it’s not fast or easy, but isn’t that kinda the point? It’s not like SL where you can wonder around for months and never make a single penny…you make money in WoW by playing the game.

If you think about it, the beggars are basically saying they don’t want to have to go to the trouble of actually playing when they can spend hour after hour standing outside the auction house begging.

Go spend an hour or so questing, then, not only do you get your money, you get the experience points and can up your skills while you’re at it.

The point is, when you beg in WoW, you’re asking for something that someone else has worked for. They may be rich by your standards now, but they started out just like you did.

“Hey dude, I can’t be bothered putting the time in, so why don’t you go do all the hard stuff for me and give me all your hard-earned rewards?”

Then they wonder why they get chewed out.

The part I really don’t get is the people who sell WoW gold for real life money, or you pay them and they’ll level a character for you.

You see, the main reason I like WoW is for the feeling of achievement you get by playing. I know this may sound corny but you appreciate something a hell of a lot more when you actually have to work for it.

For example, let’s look at one item in particular.

I started playing and chose mining and blacksmithing as my professions. Through hours and hours of playing I leveled up significantly, took every opportunity to practice my skills until eventually I’d got good enough to where I made myself a complete set of copper armor. It was better than the stuff I could buy from the NPC vendors, significantly improved my character and gave me the skills and materials I’d need later to make better armor.

For me, that’s the point of the game. To see where you are, where you came from and where you’ve still got left to go.

Compare that to buying progress. You give someone running a WoW sweatshop in Korea a hundred dollars so in a week you can log in and have a level 70 character with a few thousand gold. What’s the point?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Seriously. Does ANYONE fall for these?

Like the rest of you out there in Blogland, I get an awful lot of spam. I also get an inordinate number of scam emails.

Well, this morning, this little gem dropped into my inbox:

From:MS Linda Moore
Director, Foreign Operations
Atm Card Department
BARCLAYS BANK LONDON
lindaybarclays@yahoo.co.uk

Honourable Customers ,
Account normalization of your banking details has been delayed by International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Financial Services Authority. This has made it necessary for your payment to be programmed in to HSBC Corporate Visa Card.

Barclays Bank of London with HSBC Newyork has concluded to issue you a CORPORATE VISA CARD where your payment will be uploaded. This will now enable you either download your payment at any ATM Machine .
If you have any question or confused about this write me immediately so that I will direct you properly for details, confirm your private phone number so that I can as well call you. The Visa Card Application Form will be faxed to you as soon as you confirm your fax number.
MS Linda Moore.
Head of Foreign Operations
Atm Card Dept.
TELE+447 045726107 FAX: +44 8704791443

Let's look at this shall we?

First of all, I'm not even sure Barclay's bank has a 'Foreign Operations' department. If they do, I'm pretty sure it's not called the 'foreign operations' department.

Secondly, absolutely huge giveaway, a Barclay's employee using a Yahoo address? Obviously they think by using a Yahoo.co.uk address, I'm going to assume that they're British.

So we already know it's a complete and total scam before we even get to the actual message. If you want to get subtle about it, we don't even call ATM cards 'ATM' cards in England.

TRIPLE FAIL!

We already know you're a scumbag scam-artist (and a particularly bad one) before we even read your pitch. Way to go! You've succeeded in finding a while new level of failure.

Anyway, on to the message.

Ah, you see? First line. "Honorable Customers".

What we have here is a case of a dirty scamster sending out emails in bulk...and totally forgetting that each recipient is supposed to believe that they're the only ones who got this particular email.

Secondly, (and I'll have to post some at some point in the future), it seems to be the habit of these scammers to fill their emails with flowery language that a real banker/lawyer/whatever would never use. When was the last time you opened up a letter from your bank and found it addressed to 'Honorable customer'?

In all seriousness, I've been emailed documents from scammers that are full of clipart, wordart clashing colors and printed-on 'seals'. They look like a 5 year old's art project...after a clown threw up on it.

Anyway, Quadruple fail, and we haven't got past the greeting yet.

So first paragraph. This is supposedly coming from a British Bank. Well, I suppose it could be from a British bank...but only if they've chosen someone who doesn't speak English. Perhaps someone who knows grammar exists but has no idea how to use it.

Even the scam is terrible. I know that this has happened to me just a million times. Don't you just hate it when a payment is delayed, so the bank 'programs it into corporate card'?

The payment's delayed, so they'll give you a corporate credit card with the balance on that.

Not a check, that's too much bother. Not a credit to your account, that's just silly talk. They'll 'program' it into a corporate credit card.

QUINTUPLE FAIL!

Next paragraph, they've not only programmed your payment into a CORPORATE VISA CARD, they're uploaded it as well. It will also enable me to 'either' download my payment at any ATM machine.

So, they've implied another option they haven't told me about (classic scam mistake, they're removing and adding options to pre-written boilerplate scam letters when they don't know what half the words mean)...and not only that, they've programmed and uploaded my payment, and now I can download it from any ATM!

I know I got to the ATM all the time to download money. Or go to the bank to see if a check has uploaded yet.

So they've got the terminology wrong, and fucked up the letter even more! That's two which means:

SEPTUPLE FAIL!!!

On to the third paragraph.

This is great. Yet more really bad grammar, and the classic element that just screams "I'M A SCAM E-MAIL!"...the fax number. Yep, Yahoo email addresses can be traced, so they change them often. Faxes are much harder to trace...but we're meant to believe that a major British bank (that contacted me through email), can't email or snail-mail me an application...they have to fax it.

Yep, a bank will deal with a customer only through an obsolete device that almost no private residences have.

OCTUPLE FAIL!!!

So let's see... Here's the scam. I'm supposed to be amazing and intrigued that I have money I didn't know about. I call that number or email back and get some cock and bull story about a dead relative or some fund that's going to give me some major cash. So I fill out that application and send my social security number, name and address to some random dude who's going to either sell that info or steal my identity. They'll probably ask for my existing bank information as well.

Well, just in case it was legit, and the person sending the email was drunk off their ass, on their first day and has absolutely no basic knowledge of the banking system...Oh, and forgot to log out of their Yahoo account before sending me this very important email, I did a quick IP lookup.

Yep, this email from a British Bank in Britain actually originated in an Internet Cafe in Accra Ghana...the 419 scam capital of the world.

Anyway, I'm seriously thinking of stringing this dude along...anyone interesting in reading the email exchanges if I do?