After a year of semi-regular blogging, it's time to move on. You can now find all of my crap at taose.speakmon.org. The old site will stay up so as not to confuse search engines, but no more updates will be forthcoming here.
See you on the other side.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I haven't blogged anything about Bioshock, but for the record I did enjoy it very much, even though I found it a bit too easy and the DRM really pissed me off.
Eurogamer has this article which tries to defend Bioshock from the backlash that followed its release. It's a great read, but it doesn't get around to one of the problems which I think underlies the entire game review scene: hype.
Things have gotten bad enough that reviews for games aren't really informative anymore. Halo 3, which I thought was good but not near great, piled up dozens of perfect scores and drooling raves from reviewers. Any game that's hyped as hard as Halo 3 was (and Bioshock too) is going to have awesome reviews which don't really map to the quality of the experience for most gamers. Publishers can hype games almost to the point that it distorts the reviewer's critical thinking skills -- even the Gerstmann firing, which stinks to high heaven, implies that a publisher holds the review industry in such contempt that it can have people offed who don't toe its line.
So what is to be done? I don't know.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
We do what we must
Because we can.
Um. Sorry. Anyway, past time to mention Portal.
There's really not much I can say beyond how awesome it is. You've heard that from others by now, but I'll just add my insignificant voice to the chorus.
- Too short. Your first runthrough (there will be others) takes maybe three to four hours. Once you know the puzzles, you can speedrun the thing in maybe an hour. MOAR.
- Too easy. The extra puzzles you unlock after beating the main game are pretty hardcore, and the developer commentary (a feature that should be in EVERY game) explains that Valve were terrified of confusing the hell out of players; they were, after all, breaking new gameplay ground. Hopefully the deliriously joyful response will encourage them to take more risks.
- Genuinely clever and funny.
- Addictive and really hard to stop playing.
- Simple yet pleasing art and level design.
- An honest attempt at something new.
- Jonathan Coulton.
- Voice acting -- Ellen McLain does an amazing job.
- A bargain at $20.
Rating: ***** (5/5); if I can't give five stars for an experiment in new gaming that succeeds beyond all expectations, I should just stop playing games entirely.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It looked like today was going to be another snorefest, but...
After a very satisfying breakfast (they know how to eat down here, that's for sure), it's off to Matt Raible's now-classic Comparing Java Web Frameworks talk. Aside from knowing his shit, the guy gives good presentation. He understands that powerpoints aren't about cramming half your doctoral thesis on 75 slides. While I've met lots of smart people here and learned a great deal, I wish more of them would try to see their presentations from someone else's point of view.
It was then off to the Georgia Aquarium, which bills itself as The Largest And Most Awesomest Such Place On Earth. Well, it is pretty cool. Beautiful tropical fish, whale sharks, electric eels, and sea otters. The smaller Asian variety of the latter was the best part; they were playfighting, dragging each other into the water and smacking one another upside the head. It wasn't aggressive to my untrained eye, but it was sure as hell cute.
(Do I feel bad about skipping a morning session? No. I've been stuck in the hotel the entire week with nary a peep of the outside world.)
Tasty vegetable soup for lunch. Bjorn had a rather worse time, but he can tell that story.
Lots of talk about community and how to strengthen it in the afternoon. Henri's talk on how to join OS projects was nicely bookended by Ted Leung's talk on open source antipatterns. Theme: how ASF does stuff (the open source community process) is more important that what it produces. Getting people to work together in a respectful and productive environment is a skill that's universally applicable.
We're all done after tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My headache *still* won't go away.
Several sessions today; some good, some not. I found Dave Johnson's talk on Roller pretty informative, and Greg Stein's talk on open source licensing was gratifying (although it was pointed out that he knew 3/4 of the people in the room and he was shamelessly preaching to the choir). Talking to him afterward, it seems that he doesn't know of anybody other than me who does both FSF and ASF. I've gone into this stupid schism before, but it still surprises me that I'm mostly alone on talking about how important it is for the two largest free software communities to find more common ground. How is it not obvious to other people, especially the ones smarter than me?
Other random highlights: chatting up someone in French, shocking them; the keysigning party, which attracted way more photographers than I was expecting (i.e., a number greater than 0); several enjoyable and informative chats with Google people; taking a close look at Abdera; Doc Searls' interesting and amusing keynote. I'm glad that some other people try to inject humor and entertainment into powerpoints, which are man's latest and most promising result in the search for something to bore others to death.
In between sessions, Bjorn and I are going to sneak off to the aquarium, which I've heard is something I need to see. Apparently whale sharks are cool.