ABC Working to Create Web Distribution Platform

As I was reading this article I felt my brain go “snap” after reading the following:  “As a way to retain a certain measure of quality control and consistency, ABC is inserting its core video player into the center of the distribution agreements so that viewers will have the same experience on a partner site that they would on ABC.com and its affiliates.”  AUGH!!! Not another proprietary media player!  Sometimes I think, under the veil of ignorance and stupidity, media producers/distributors implement ways to make their media, as delivered over the Internet, completely unusable.  My husband and I have explored the on-demand Netflix and Walmart movie downloads and we were quite disappointed that we also had to use either a proprietary media player or a proprietary layer over an existing media player to view the content.  On top of that, the downloads are locked to the computer on which the download took place.  We are a multi-computer household on a home network (as I’m sure some other households are), so the computer that we download content on may not necessarily be the computer on which we view the content.  Plus, it’s annoying to have a bunch of media players on a computer, all fighting over which is the primary player or media players with malicious little programs that go through and disable  other content so I can’t enjoy any of my downloaded entertainment.

I understand the importance of digital rights and the networks’ insistance that we watch commercials that we don’t want to watch, but I think the networks are not recognizing that since we can get the shows over the air free, it doesn’t make logical sense to have to pay or use a proprietary system to watch the same shows anytime we want.  So … what can be done?  I imagine there is no good solution, since we don’t see a good solution yet.  The question I ask myself is how much is the entertainment I download worth?  I pay one service $10/mo for 10GB download chunk per month and everything else I don’t pay for.  But the stuff I download, I can’t get here, so paying for it doesn’t bother me as long as the cost is reasonable.  I feel the same way about content from cable, although I think, if I’m already paying for cable, then the option to download content should be part of my cable package.  I do like the freedom of device independence when it comes to viewing the content I’ve purchased and I’m definitely not inclined to use a service again if it requires proprietary decoding software.

I Game for the Boss Battles

Often I compare the way I approach work to the way I approach video gaming.  When I’m playing, am I playing to gather gold? No not really.  Am I gaming to level up my character?  Yes, most definitely.  I play to level up my character, gain new skills and spells, and to get one-of-kind loot that can only be gained from defeating a boss character.  Yes, I live for the boss battle, both in real life and in the game world.  My goal is to be the scariest thing in the realm and to drive away “small-fry” with merely a sideways glance.

I like to think this is why I naturally gravitated toward what I do. Every problem I come up against treat like a boss battle.  First I go in with nothing and see what kind of damage the boss does — is it magic based, is it physical damage, fire? water? electricity? wind?  What weapons is it wielding.  Then I’ll take a few physical swipes at it and cast a few spells I know to see if I can figure out what protections it has, and, if possible, some of it’s weaknesses.  This is also a good time to either use the “analyze” skill or spell. I usually lose the first attempt at a boss battle, but it’s okay because I’ve now gathered a lot of information so I can optimize my team and skills and try again.  I will choose a different set of members depending upon what skills I think I need for the battle.  I will arm them with the appropriate weapons and element opposing spells.  I will put on the appropriate protectives to ward against the boss’ attacks and then I will try to battle again, each time gaining more knowledge and optimizing the tools of war until I finally win.  Once I have figured out the tools of war and the flow of the battle, all that is left is to set an algorithm and follow it whenever I face that boss again.

The best boss battle I had in the video game world was in Final Fantasy X (please forgive me if my memory falters, as this battle took place several years ago on my Playstation 2).  This was the boss battle that marks what you are led to believe is the final boss battle, but really this is only the midpoint of the game.  The battle took place in a dead city.  I’ve finally made it to the appointed place with Eons aplenty.  There’s a cut scene, of course, where the boss speaks to you gently like a goddess and then asks whether you will give up your life and become the next destroyer of the world, “Sin”.  I refuse and then she says something like “then prepare to die” and the battle began.  So I let the boss attack to see what she’s got and then got in a few good whacks only to get devastated after 3 rounds.  Oh crap!  I regrouped and after 5 attempts I finally beat her, … or so I thought … the ground shook and she raised out the ground to reveal that she’s actually on the end of a long arm and the battle began again, except I’ve only got one character alive and that character only had 2 hit points left and no MP.  Time to go to the previous saved game and spend some time killing lesser beasts to gain some more experience.  10-hours later and 5 levels higher I returned.  I easily defeated the first boss phase, and again after 5 or 6 attempts, I beat her, …, or so I thought …(my husband was cheering with me as he had come to watch, after seeing the first phase transformation) but no, the ground shook even more violently and the entire floor broke apart.  From the hole rose a giant hideous gray Madusa-like head with scary eyes, a long tongue lolling out of it’s mouth, snakes for hair, and the cackling goddess on top of one of the snake like hair bundles.  Steve and I were floored.  The first thing this third phase did was cast “Death” such that all of my characters died and it was “game over”.  At this point I threw down the controller in disgust and frustration and I believe we went and saw a movie.  After the movie, I returned with renewed vigor and swore not to be defeated by this ***** of a boss.  So  I invested another 10-hrs in leveling up and came back to the battle again.  It took me 3-days worth of attempts because the battle engine was clever and any little miscalculation I made the AI took advantage of — it was “NIM” at its finest and I recognized it.  I finally beat the boss, only to have her tell me this is not the end and go here and continue your journey … you gotta love “Final Fantasy”.  You definitely get maximum game for your buck.  I don’t even remember what loot that boss dropped, but I do remember feeling as though I had accomplished the impossible and I rode that high for a while.  I also gained 10-levels and learned a bunch of new skills in order to prepare for the battle.  The high of victory and the gained experience is why I live for the boss battle in the virtual and the real world.  I also don’t mind if some gold falls from the boss’ corpse, too, so I can rest at a comfortable inn and drink the finest mead at the local pub.

Make Everything Taste Like Bacon

Bacon is definitely one of my favorite flavors.  I got to get me some of this stuff!

A reprint of a blog entry from CNET

Make everything taste like bacon

(Credit: Baconsalt.com)

Have you ever found yourself thinking that veggies would go down easier, if only they tasted more like bacon? You may want to top them with Bacon Salt. The brainchild of two bacon-loving former tech workers, the zero-calorie seasoning lets you add a bit of bacony goodness to any food product. It comes in three flavors–original, hickory, and peppered–and, according to this post from Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, has been enjoyed on “potatoes (fried, mashed, whathaveyou), corn on the cob, popcorn, watermelon, pineapple, steak, eggs (fried, scrambled), green beans, assorted vegetables, chocolate, Bloody Marys, pasta, guacamole, and peaches.” The salt is kosher and vegetarian, and the hickory flavor is vegan, but don’t go confusing it with health food: the lengthy list of ingredients includes corn syrup, vegetable shortening, and MSG.

For the hands-on experience I relied on the taste buds of fellow blogger Jennifer Guevin, who says the faux-pork seasoning basically tastes like powdered Bacon Bits. So far, so tasty, but she also admits that her enthusiasm for the product has waned: “My affections turned sour when I realized that my boyfriend no longer thought any food was perfect until Bacon Salt had been added to it. Now Bacon Salt is my bitter kitchen rival.” Consider yourself warned

Reviews of Two Great TV Series from Asia

Review: Toward the Terra

“Toward the Terra” is one of the best anime series I’ve watched. It’s tough to talk about what the show is about with ruining it, so please bear with me. Anyhow, the show is set in the future when after human have fled Earth for other planets. The story revolves around two main characters Jomy and Keith, who eventually fulfill their destiny of becoming the head of the two warring factions of humans, the Mu and humans, respectively. What’s great about this show is both of the main characters are not perfect and both perform act of heroism as well as acts that could be considered atrocities

— it’s a war afterall and the show makes it very clear that war isn’t pretty nor moral. Anyhow, the characters of Jomy and Keith are so well written and complex — I was absolutely delighted. The other side characters are wonderful too. This is definitely a character driven show that also happened to include some great action. One of that last scenes in the final episodes poignantly shows off the skill of the story writers and the animators. I was moved by both the sadness and the hope this scene as well as the care taken to draw Jomy and Keith in their last moments. Oh, so good!!! There are actually a few scenes in the series that are like this and each time I was moved to tears. It’s lonely to be the leader eventhough the leader is loved by many. It is tough to be a leader and to live with the atrocities you’ve committed and to feel the weight of each and every life you feel responsible for protecting. Who is good and who is bad — or in fact are they sometimes the same? This series deeply probes this question and in the end I’m am left to say that Jomy and Keith acted in the best interests of the people they served. I think this comes through best when Keith asks Jomy, “Do you still have the power to destroy planets?” Jomy replies, “yes” and in response Keith says, “Then it is still my duty to eliminate you.” The irony is that Keith has this power too, but it’s in the form of a machine. 5/5 for a truly great series.

 

TV Series Review: Bad Couple (Korean Drama)

 “Bad Couple” is a comedy/drama series from Korea. It runs 16-episodes and each episode is roughly ~1-hr. The story starts as a slapsticky comedy about a woman in her early 30’s, Dang Ja, who doesn’t believe in marriage but wants a beautiful daughter that looks just like herself. So in “ambitious woman” style, she sets out to find the man with the best set of genes in all of Korea to father her child. To get this man, Dang Ja resorts to pulling childish pranks, that play like modern-day Lucy Ricardo schemes (she’s even got the red hair!), to seduce the unsuspecting target, a very soft-hearted and naive botanist named Gi Chan. (Oh, and yes, there’s an Ethel character, too, to spur Lucy along.) In the midst of all fun, Dang Ja and Gi Chan fall in love, but Dang Ja, having little faith in men, rejects her own feelings and those of the very likeable botanist. There is a more serious parallel story of a couple that had been married for 10-years going through a divorce after the husband admits to infidelity. The two stories cleverly intersect and intertwine to weave a story about the general state of modern femininity

— one woman who is highly successful and independent who drives her baby’s father away and one woman who has been a dependant mother all her adult life who is trying to keep her baby’s father. Both woman take a journey of self discovery — the successful woman, through tragedy, learns to depend on Gi Chan and her friends and the dependent woman, through a new relationship, learns how to depend upon herself. By the end the of the journey, both women arrive at the same destination, happy and fulfilled lives (but not necessarily within the confines of a traditional family — a modern and sensible ending that I was very happy to see).

I enjoyed this series quite a bit and during the comedic moments my husband seemed to enjoy it too, although, Dang Ja’s contradictory behavior got on his nerves as the story proceeded. 5/5 for another great TV series from Korea.

$1 Million RV

Droolz … Here’s the progress on my future retirement home.  It still needs more gadgets and to drive itself, though.  The interior is a little tacky too, … but I’ll take it as soon as it can drive itself (and when my husband and I have some $$$).

http://www.luxurylaunches.com/transport/p2000i_rv_by_newell_sizzles_for_more_then_a_million_dollars.php

Ahhhh …Life on the open road.  I can’t wait :).  Maybe I should have been a trucker …

 

Halo 3 Advertising — Very Entertaining

It seems the Halo 3 machine is popping up in the most unexpected places.  This weekend I saw some weird Halo 3/NFL cross advertising that I honestly didn’t understand.  It’s a shame, because the Halo 3 machine’s other advertising is quite compelling and enjoyable to watch.  Anybody who has an XBox360 and has yet to view the various trailers and videos around Halo 3 should take the time to do so.  On the XBox360 you will learn about the legendary Master Chief John 117 and of the epic war between the humans and a horde of space aliens.  There is a particularly poignant video featuring a senior who looks and talks likes a crusty WWII vet.  With voice trembling he talks about the perilous battle with the aliens and inspirational acts of “Master Chief” in a memorial museum of the future that features a fabulous diorama. (If this diorama exists, I want to see it in person because it looks very detailed).  The making of the diorama video and the making of the game videos are also fun to watch.  From watching the video you get the sense that a lot of passion for game playing and consideration for the game players went into this project.  Seeing and listening to the actual engineers and artists experiences brings a very human touch to something that could have been swept up in the Microsoft machine. 

If you don’t have an Xbox360, check out this website to see some of the videos: http://www.bungie.net/Projects/Halo3/default.aspx  Be sure to watch some of the Red vs. Blue videos too!

As for Halo 3 in the Brister household, I pre-ordered a copy from an online retailer on Sunday.  My husband is curious, but his excitement is tempered by his belief that First Person Shooters should use a keyboard interface rather than a console controller.  Personally, I’m curious and I’m hoping the console controller will make the game more accessible to me (I’ve never been good at FPS’s).  Most importantly, though, I want to see the “Man Canon” in action :).