Monday, July 09, 2007

My Cadaver is Worth $4,240.00

$4240.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth. From Mingle2 - Free Online Dating
I'm not sure I need to say much more than that.

Overlord - Review

Try out Overlord. It's rather fun to run your minions (small horde of goblins) amok. Make sure to do bad things, it's more fun - you see more content.

The game starts becoming un-fun once you find yourself battling the control scheme more than the actual game. The control scheme worked fine until the creators equated difficulty handling the key/button combinations with game difficulty.

That said, it looks like Fable only with better shadows and wider, more open areas that all loop back and cross link (so you can wander a bit and, yes, get lost). If not wider, certainly the paths are more numerous and the areas 5-7x larger than the typical Fable one.

You get to customize your Dark Tower, enhance your gear, but I'm right at the point where that is starting to matter so I haven't explored this much other than to create a nifty sword by sacrificing a butt-load of goblins.

As I said before - the last chapter's end was more about me fumbling with buttons (as my brother and I have been trading off on a GamePad) than fighting the game itself. Keyboards help (I can select each group more easily) but you can't create or select Control Groups ala RTS, so splitting your forces becomes problematic; couple this with a few boss sequences where you have to - quickly and accurately - and that you have to target a battle banner to get that group to move by looking at them and centering your view on them - and that's pretty much stupid. I've had to do this only twice, however - once on a boss, and once while navigating boiling hot geysers.

I complain more loudly than the amount of content should proportionally show - evidenced by the fact that I played this game all weekend when I had the chance, or watched my brother, Esteban, play.

Open-Sourcing / Crowdsourcing Journalism: Why that's a stupid idea

Referring to the article, "Open-Source Journalism: It's a Lot Tougher Than You Think". I joined Assignment Zero, and read the laments of Open-Source Journalism.

I'm an INTJ, so it is in my nature to identify problems in a system.

The problem with Crowdsourcing or Open-Sourcing Journalism (I use the terms interchangeably here, and some do not - one is member based, you're a member before the story starts, the other can imply wikis) is this:

  • The article states that Crowdsourcing can be a way of watchdogging local politicians and interests that the media at large is reticent to investigate. I see two problems with this.
    1. There is the issue of "people not getting paid" for what they do. A select few will doggedly pursue the hobby, others will dabble in it and most will try and give up. I work in an Elections Office, I've seen a number of parties try to deal with "volunteers" who did volunteer, are in the same party, but obviously don't care to do real work. Hence why we pay our Poll-Workers - it's not much, but it takes "volunteer" out of the equation. The human mind just works differently when it's paid. The article mentions this problem, but obviously can't go into great detail.
    2. Foremost, lets assume Crowdsouring worked. Lets assume 30% of USA cities had some kind of cohesive group that "watchdogged" their local government (good) and special interests (also good). This would continue to be good anytime there was a scandal, nepotism or something juicy, but how well would it work the 20th time some city said some developer was stonewalling them? In other words: There's a reason the current news that floats to the top is the current news that floats to the top. Humans don't want news they have to do anything about - they want news they can see and digest and feel secure in.
To expand upon this insight, first given to me by my friend Dove, take child abductions: Horrible! Horrendous! We feel for the parents! We hate the child murderers and rapists! But we don't have to do anything. We probably feel we keep our kids safe. We don't feel negligent (and if we should, have excuses built up already).

Now take this: On the local news - Colorado Rock Company is building a plant not to EPA specifications and stonewalling everyone. Their pollution will affect where you live and studies have shown it causes cancer, but it's inconclusive enough to sue anyone. People don't like that kind of news, but paradoxically, it's the kind of news that matters to them most.

So Crowdsourcing is a wonderful ideal - but will enough people write about it for it to become valid? Wikiality's Magic 8-Ball says "Yes." Will people care, once it becomes mainstream? Human Nature says "Not likely."

An Example of How Invention and Products Should Work way of an example of the antithesis. I've long held that patents should last 5-10 years, depending on whether the product is of digital or physical medium, respectively. The best way to keep inventing is to keep having pressure to invent - this is why we saw so much research coming out of World War II. It took us 30 years to piece it all together and perfect the work started there (and perfecting that work extends to modern times).

But in the world of big business, lobbyists have helped set up laws that stifle competition, that server the business interest, not other businesses or the people. That's rather stupid.

Take this article, for example:

[Source: If You're So Concerned About Piracy, Don't 'Invent' A Cheap, Easily Imitated Product - Techdirt]

Certainly anybody with patents, copyrights or other intellectual property has every right to enforce them, or at least try to. But a point we've made is that it often makes more sense for a business not to waste resources trying to enforce its IP rights and shut down its competition, and instead to focus on continual improvement and innovation. The WSJ's got a piece detailing a small company's fight to keep companies from selling cheap imitations of its product -- "a plastic cage that looks like a Wiffle ball and prevents bras from getting tangled in the spin cycle" called the BraBaby. The company of ten employees' boss apparently spends countless hours online and in Asia tacking down makers of the knockoff products, and from the sound of things, he's having little success, despite his patents and trademarks. So, with all that effort in mind, what's the point? If your invention is a cheap piece of plastic that's easy to copy, clearly you're going to have a problem dealing with imitators and knockoffs should it become successful. If you're a small company making such a product, trying to clamp down on those imitations is, as the article makes clear, going to be a long and difficult practice that stands little chance of success, so your resources would be better devoted to improving your product and staying ahead of your rivals. Contrast the approach of the company behind the BraBaby to that a maker of a similar product, the BraBall. That company holds a patent for its product that predates the BraBaby, but an exec says it doesn't plan to sue, instead, it's "competing on quality." If the only way you can succeed in the market is by keeping your competitors out of it, whatever advantage you have is fleeting. To remain successful, you need to continually have the best product, not the only product. And how does chasing the makers of knockoff goods to the far ends of the earth help you make a better product?

I make this post so I have something to refer to when I bring this up again.