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Somebody, yeah I guess somebody. Just a warm body in PA somewhere...

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


Mother’s Day has been cancelled…

So many times those words you see in the title are my unique way of describing a thought.  Sometimes in articles, they have no other meaning then a hook to appetite the mind to read further.  Sometimes they have a deeper meaning and bring the article back to that point.  However, rarely do I ever make a point to highlight it in my articles like I’m about to.

Mother’s Day has been cancelled, news at the 11 PM broadcast….

When tragedy strikes like it did on Friday, I have a policy of doing my best to avoid news.  It is not out of hatred, ignorance or not wanting to know but simply the point that has been so clearly made to me before.  Anytime a tragedy happens, what unfolds can best be described as a formulaic, scripted drama.  First, you see the scrambling, then the info starts trickling with misinformation, corrections, interviews and on and on it goes.

Not so long ago I had a conversation about the show Undercover Boss with my wife.  I am willing to give anything a shot, I had seen the British version of the show (I am a big fan of British TV) and in a few episodes, I had become tired with the formula.  What I had “learned” from the show was that every Boss in every job had to deal with the “exact” same set of employees.  And “unbelievably” by the end of the show everything was settled in the time format allotted.  It was “Reality” TV at its best.  Two episodes made me see the formula and I gave up on the show.  As some know, the show exists on American shores and my wife started watching it.  I tried my best but just could not watch the show.  It was too formulaic.  I remember that first watching of the US Version, my mind was putting together the book ends of all the people on the show.  It was sort of a game could I guess the future?  I turned out right on all but one and told me Wife I just cannot watch something like that.

What really bugged me and made me shrug about the show was how much it wanted to mix reality with something very real for a cheap reward.  I completely understand that television is scripted to draw you in, but I believe there is a line any show can cross.  When a show takes reality and mixes it with real life, while trying to hide the fact just rubs me the wrong way.  While I am sure someone out there is about to say that describes most Reality TV.  While I agree, I found Undercover Boss throwing away its fake “reality” to make sure the climax of the final act of the show would work better.  As long as the viewer felt good about the Boss, no matter how we got there was all that mattered.

Think about that for a moment: Reality did not matter when it came to a “Reality” show.

Friday the tweets started flowing (Yes, I use Twitter.)  The first one popped up, it was pointing out how two networks had already blamed video games.  More tweets came in, and I finally gave in I tuned in and had to hear the “amazingness” for myself.  Within a few moments I was reminded why I usually do not pay attention, the formula was in full affect.  Journalists who pride themselves on facts were stuck with no facts, starting playing Mad Libs with a tragedy.  Moreover, on full display was what I can only describe as, IHOTM (Ignorance in the Heat of the Moment.)  One of the first questions, and amazing how it can be I might add, was why?  Of course, our crack reporters were on the job, getting answers.  According to them, it started with Reality TV and Video Games.  Then it spread to everything but, conveniently, their own field of work.

They were Undercover Bosssing the tragedy.

That is the News networks, journalists, were taking the tragedy and forgoing the reality to make sure they were satisfying anything but reality.  The news was constructing a formulaic “reality” show.  Again in front of me was playing out the very thing I despised in Undercover Boss, and it was about to enter other areas of my life.

The news reports were quick to put a name to the killer, or so they thought.  However, for some in our society, this was enough to pounce.

twilight moms

Quickly a mob attacked a video game and deemed it the ultimate killer of all those children.

A Facebook pile-on began. “There is a connection between violent games and senseless violence in real life,” wrote Facebook user Becky Laird Gluff. Another user, Melanie Bowers, said, “Ban this game and the people who created such sickness.” And Catherine Barowski Plummer even wrote, “I am sure none of these precious children had this game on their Santa list… God help protect us from all the evil our society promotes.” 

masseffect mob

And that was not the end of the craziness.  A gamer by the name of Antwand Pearman wanted to do something, he wanted to send a message and asked other gamers to join him in an online ceasefire.  He wanted to do something to allow the gaming community to show its respect to the tragedy.  A gaming moment of silence for the victims.

“When I thought of this cease fire I saw it as a means for gamers to come together and show their love and support the families. The one thing we can’t get in this world is peace. War will always rage on but in the virtual world we have an opportunity to be better. This isn’t something for the media it’s for the families and us.

“So what if people stop playing shooters for a day? It will be forgotten the next day. The point is that in that silence you’ll have time to listen to something you haven’t heard in a long time. Something you have been too busy to hear. Too social to notice and that’s…your Heart.”

This is not the first time people in the game community have shown they are human.  The guys at Penny Arcade started Child’s Play to give back to the community.  It was also to combat the negative image people perceive around video games.

Child’s Play seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through the kindness and generosity of the video game industry and the power of play. When gamers give back, it makes a difference!

So what response did the ceasefire bring out of people?

You’ve got to be kidding. They are putting down their “virtual bullets”!!!! Is everyone clueless here or do liberals only despise guns because of agenda pushing but find kids killing people in video games for entertainment acceptable. The producer of this mass crap has the nerve to say violent video games doesn’t generate killers – yet the mass killer of our babies played violent games. You can’t condemn guns without condemning this stuff which caters to sick individuals who crave killing for entertainment or worse, preys on the minds of the mentally ill until killing becomes reality.
– moutainlover39

“””I’m confused, growing up we’ve all been told to show love and support in anyway we know how.”””—- Because it isn’t actual support. It does nothing but make the person partaking in the event feel better about themselves. Yes, call me a cynic but putting crosses beside roads where people die or having a ceasefire in a video game or praying for the deceased does absolutely nothing for the deceased. The time to honor someone is while they’re alive. Once a person is dead the grieving need real support not nonsense that amounts to nothing more than platitudes and lip service.
– MegaProscrastination

Sigh, I guess the message was not clear enough…

NOTE:  Let that second comment sink in for a moment from MegaProcrastination

Before I hit the note of the crescendo…

Some may wonder why I am focusing on one aspect of the shootings and that is the subject of video games.

It is a valid criticism, I am taking the time to write an article on a multi-faceted tragedy about one aspect.  Some might say it is callous to concentrate on the subject of gaming when something bigger has happened.  To say I am desensitized to violence, to only care about the attack on something I have a passion about.

My only answer can be human nature.  It is a part of our nature to defend that which we care about.   As some who know me, I am trying to forge a career in game design.  So for me it is more personal then for others.  In addition, I cannot sit idly by and let people add the fuel of ignorance to the conversation.   Yes, this is selfish on my part.  I would only ponder would you sit by if people attacked your profession with ignorance.

And this isn’t to say valid criticism isn’t valid (see what I did there?)  However, it is the ignorance that is bothersome.

Which leads me to this:

Sorry I’m about to flip some tables…

Game design is all the constant questioning of decisions.  It’s the pursuit of an elusive perfection that can never be obtained.  Every design choice made will be questioned, and it is not for the faint hearted.  As with many creative fields, not only will you scrutinize every decision you make, but other people are more than ready to off their own opinions.  Moreover, those design decisions are made for many reasons.  However, one thing I can tell you is that there is not one collective force driving those decisions and questions.

That is not to say that some make games that are aimed at purely violence and carnage.  However, to simply focus on .000000000001% of the industries output is ludicrous and sadly way over the lines of ignorance but pure stupidity.  I almost want to say that ignoring is the best way to confront it but it is not.

Gaming encompasses so many different thoughts and emotions that saying the industry is about carnage and violence ignores the fact that there is more than one type of game genre.  This is as good as saying TV shows are only sitcoms, while ignoring drama, soap operas and sports.  Moreover, even worse is the attack of those that make the games.

I know some of the people who make the games that people say are killing trainers.  To say that there only goal in life is create games that teach children to kill is an even more pure form of stupidity.  A stupidity has no brain behind it, because the logic to get there is beyond reproach.

For some reason, there is this thought that games can only be for children or youth.  Moreover, those same people spouting this belief will merrily go onto point out how they cannot wait for their favorite adult movie or latest book that is about subject matter that is taboo.  Instead, they point the finger at something they do not care about.

They seem to forget the one finger pointing, three pointing back rule.

LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR: All forms of entertainment share the same similarities, characteristics.  It the form of the vessel and medium that changes.  Books, Music, Games, TV, Movies all have subject matter which encompasses different ages, genre and thoughts.

It sometimes make me wonder why people who read books ever move on from Green Eggs and Ham or why Dora the Explorer is not a prime time staple for TV viewing.

LET MAKE THIS CLEAR ALSO: Gaming is not mandatory nor the only form of entertainment.

Again, it has not to say valid criticism isn’t valid.  To bring up the question of game violence is a valid criticism.  However, to attack an industry, a group of individuals and imply they never have thought through this question is ignorance.  It conjures up images of a group meeting in the secret of the night, diabolically trying to figure out ways to destroy the innocence of childhood.

Am I supposed to swallow that sewage-filled cup with a smile on my face?

It is as if gamers and game designers are not real people or somehow not human:

I opened a chapbook in front of her, and she touched its pages, and then she took the magazine from me and shut it and kind of massaged its cover with her thumb. Then she dropped the magazine into the folds of the bed and reached for my hand, and she took my hand and squeezed it.

And squeezed it again. And then I cried, and she squeezed my hand another time, and I looked up and right into her eyes, which were wet and meaningful and so clear, and her face was obscured by the breathing mask but her eyebrows were furrowed the way they always are when I cry, and I apologized to her for hurting her and for being so sad, and I looked down again at our clasped hands, and then I folded myself in half and cried into both our hands.

And then I pitched forward off the chair and onto my knees and I cried into her bedsheets and kissed her hand, because there was that mask forcing air into her and there was too little of her face to kiss.

One final point, as this always bears repeating when the subject of violence and gaming comes up:


It’s been cancelled… FOREVER

When it came to this article I wanted someway to convey how seeing, hearing and reading the criticism on gaming stuck me.  I wanted to make it crystal clear how these statements sound to me.  I wanted to convey a thought that would spell it out in layman’s terms that would make sense to the general public.  How me as a gamer and game designer saw the criticism of video games during tragedy .


See using the same logic that I saw this past weekend, that is the best way I can put it.  Seeing as the shooter had a loving mother, it must be her fault and seeing as she is the only mother in the whole universe they must all be like her.  So the only solution to a tragedy like this is to cancel Mother’s Day.

and in other news pigs are flying…

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Gaming


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A while back I wrote about the texting ban and how little I thought about it.  It turns out I didn’t have to wait long for an answer to my original question about effectiveness of the law and decreasing accidents while increasing safety.

One, two, three.

If they see more than 10 taps, police assume the driver is sending a text message, according to Lisiecki, who heads the North Huntingdon department.It’s unscientific, but it’s just one method police have found to determine if a driver is violating the state’s 8-month-old ban on texting while driving, a law many officers say is ineffective and nearly impossible to enforce.

“We’re still seeing the same distracted drivers out there that are texting,” Lisiecki said. “All the driver has to say is, ‘I was punching in a phone number.’ It’s tough to enforce.”

And there is the answer, the law just does not work.  I have addressed this before but the reasons still stay the same.  In addition, it is sort of the flavor of the day as we see more and more pushes to control what those in charge cannot control.

On the other hand, do they…

Of equal importance, he (Rep. Joe Markosek) said, is educating the public about the hazards of cell phone use behind the wheel (the bill contains just such a provision) because “this is a behavioral issue and we can’t really legislate that.”

Then again…

LaHood told a group of doctors, advocates and government officials in San Antonio that the problem of accidents connected to cell phone use is a “national epidemic.”  The National Transportation safety Administration reported 3,000 traffic deaths attributed to distracted driving last year, many blamed on cell phone use.

He said he was not too concerned about people who eat or apply makeup while driving because “not everyone does that,” Reuters reported.

“But everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving,” the secretary was quoted as saying.

sarcasm/ It is quite amazing to see all the fast food chains close up their drive through because no one was using them anymore. /sarcasm

Every time I tackle this subject I like to peruse opinion and fact to see what has changed.  I don’t consider myself an expert in the field but one who spent enough time living it to understand more than the average driver.  What amazes me is how those we trust to make laws to protect us, rush to a conclusion to satisfy other issues then the cause at hand.  A good indication that the problem has not been solved is that the law cannot be enforced.

Again, for me it is not an issue of laws being bad.  It is one of when a problem is being tackled, that time is taken to explore and solve the core root of the issue.  If we deem an issue of public safety so important as driving, why don’t we have carefully crafted laws that make sure the root issues are addressed.  Instead, we have a system of poorly crafted mandates that tell the public to do certain things that only serve as band-aids.  Moreover, that is not to say that band-aids don’t serve a purpose, but when the band-aid can’t stay in place and crumbles under pressure, the band-aid has failed.

Yes, you will have some government figure trot out and quote numbers of people who have been cited under the anti-texting law, but how many people were let go when push came to shove.  In addition, how many accidents were prevented, even better the question is how much did accidents rise due to this law.

The public should not be a guinea pig for experimentation, especially when we have the hyperbole of life at stake.


You can take the driver away from the cell phone, but you can’t take the risky behavior away from the driver. That is the conclusion of a new study, which finds that people who talk on their phones while driving may already be unsafe drivers who are nearly as prone to crash with or without the device. The findings may explain why laws banning cell phone use in motor vehicles have had little impact on accident rates.-

Now when this issue came up again for me, I did not simply want to rant again about the subject.  Therefore, it is time to present my solutions to the issue of driving safety.

Driving should be like College English – No one gets an A

The minute you tell someone they are doing great, they stop trying.  The government message of driving slow or the speed limit equates safety needs to go.  I have addressed this before, but it bears repeating.  As humans once we, feel we have obtained, think we have made it to the top spot we stop.  This truth bears out in life in so many areas.  In a career the minute you have done it all, you want to stop and move on.  Yet the odd thing is we do not apply this logic to driving.  Instead, we have a system that tells drivers that once they achieve the goal of getting a license their training is done.  And then to further compound the issue the system tells the public that simply doing a few things right, gives you a passing grade.

Take for the example the issue of driving the speed limit.  As I pointed out before, the common thought of safety means that one should go the same or below ( <= ) to be the safest.  The problem is the list of variables that surrounds the process of driving.  Variables that people have less control over then they think.  Moreover, in doing that one thing right does not ever mean you will be successful.  Yet we keep pushing the logic on doing one thing right, which in turns lulls people into a false sense of security.

Instead, we should be pushing drivers to think about the process of driving as a whole and not select areas that fit the message of the moment.

This brings up the perplexing issue of laws.

Uniform Law of the visual kind

The one thing that bothered me the most about driving truck was that no matter what I did I was always wrong.  Now this may sound weird coming from me, especially after reading the last section.  However, the truth is the problem I had, was having to know Federal, State and Local laws when it came to driving commercially.   Moreover, the more I drove from state to state; I became aware of how parts of the driving regulations were not enforced with safety in mind.

Ohio comes to mind…

It is simple, when you are talking about a visual activity like driving; designing laws without that aspect in mind is foolhardy at worst.  It seems many times traveling on stretches of roads that the speed limit can go up and down for no good reason.  It is simple, a driver should be able to look out the window of their vehicle and be able to tell the speed limit by view, along with other factors.  More perplexing is that most states have speed limits for areas without signage based on surroundings.  Yet repeatedly I am reminded that the reason governance of a road changes is simply the result of jurisdiction and not for safety.

In addition, that would be why the current system is not contusive to safety.  When it comes to driving there should be one rule of law and not the fragmented system we have now.  Instead of a fragmented set of DOTs, have one Federal DOT that governs all the state DOTs.  That is have one set of laws that govern the roads.  One set of guidelines for setting rules for road signage, layout and design.  Moreover, one rule of law that governs all types of vehicles that wish to use the roads, from cars, trucks to bicycles.

Either that or make drivers obtain license endorsements for the states they wish to travel through or border.  That is if you want to travel from PA to NJ with a PA License, you must have a NJ endorsement on your license proving you know the rules of that state.

This naturally leads to the next suggestion –

Ban the Revenue Quest

Safety is not about revenue, when you make the roads safer revenue goes down.  It is not a hard equation, the more drivers in compliance with law the less people are breaking laws.  Therefore, revenue, fines and penalties, comes down, and insurance premiums drop, body shops make less money as people have less and less accidents.  Not as many police will be needed for enforcement.  And yet this is a bad thing as it would seem.

Revenue and safety goals are hard to put side by side because the two have a hard time existing together.  In fact, to increase revenue off traffic fines you have push people to make bad decisions.  For example, a common speed trap is decreasing a speed limit by 10 miles per hour.  Therefore, a 55 will become 45.  In of itself this is not a bad thing, what is bad is not warning or guiding the driver towards this change, so they can react accordingly.  Nevertheless, many times I have come across stretches of roads where the speed limit will drop with no warning.  If the idea of speed limits is safety, what end does it serve to drop a speed limit with no warning?  In fact, the very purpose of signage in driving is to warn or guide drivers of features of the road they cannot see.  It is to serve as note for the driver to get ready and prepare.  If you take out the time to prepare then you are not serving safety.

In addition, I know there will be those quick to say a fine is about punishment but let us take into account what punishment means.  Punishment, in terms of law, is meant to be discouragement and guidance towards doing what society has deemed the right thing to do.  If a fine is deemed to be a way of deterring a wrong behavior why is the punishment not applied equally?  This is not about class warfare, but the question is still very valid: If I make $300 a week and you fine me $150 for a ticket you are disciplining me in a very disproportionate manner to a person who makes $1000 a week.

Why is the punishment scale not scalable, in terms of fine, to administer equal punishment to perpetrators?

Beyond that, we have to ask the question why the systems first way to resolve bad behavior is monetary and not education.  Now I know the quick response will be that we have a system in place, which is points, but does this really work?

In addition, I ask the question being, as some offenses don’t carry points, or allow drivers to negotiate away the points when going to court.  If you want safety then the first step should be education, meaning all forms of punishment should apply the point system without reprieve.  Meaning all traffic violations should carry some point punishment that cannot be negotiated away.

Moreover, this begs the question…

Privilege vs. Right

And here is where the system runs into problems.  Driving is a necessary part of life for people who live outside the city.  Yet our current system does not seem to do any kind of job addressing this issue.

In fact, when the issue comes up we see it mostly brought up with younger drivers.  In addition, as with the issue of my first change, treating every driver the same is the issue.  If someone cannot drive to standards we deem necessary in society, then why do we differentiate by age?  In the last couple of years, we have seen more and more legislation, especially in Pennsylvania, aimed at younger drivers.  Yet we have seen none that address other driver ages, especially those who are older.

This brings up the question of: Should we have laws that do not address all drivers the same way?  If someone cannot drive, does age really play a role in punishment?  We don’t have laws that say people must drive, as it is deemed a privilege, yet we treat younger drivers as if they are the age group who need more training.  Would not it make more sense to treat everyone who drives the same?  How does someone who starts to drive at 36 differ from one who drives at 18?  Both are inexperienced, need training, and need to prove the same set of criteria to receive a license.  How can it be justified that we automatically become ready for anything at the magical age of 18, but before then we are not ready.  Moreover, if that is the case, then do we need to let those under 18, the privilege to drive?  Does reaching an adult age, automatically become a gauge of better judgment?

Further to the point, if we deem those under a certain age are not experienced and apply a set of criteria to their ability to drive, why we do not apply a similar set of criteria to drivers as they age.  Is the assumption the system takes that older drivers make better sound decisions correct?

Again, one set of standards that deem whom is road worthy and who is not, not a bureaucracy that is a myriad of paperwork that says those born under the moon on the second term of the wolf young must have more training and those who do not and are exempt.

This brings me to the final point:

We need one set way to drive

One thing I could never understand driving professionally was how I had to learn a set or rules that seemed to pertain to no one else.  Now on the surface of it, that makes sense.  If I am transporting hazardous materials I get that, I should be trained and certified to do so. That way if I run into problems I know how to handle all possible known problems.  However, why if I need a CDL to drive a bigger vehicle with more weight and have endorsements for things such as air brakes, why then are these requirements not required for all?

I did a quick search for the guidelines governing Recreational Vehicles and found this page with a grid of all the states laws with links.

Does this make any sense at all?

Again, if the issue is safety, how does not having one set of laws to govern drivers not make sense?  Yes I will acknowledge that there are always needs for variances in laws where necessary.  However, when it comes to safety is the fragmented system we have really serving that goal?

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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Driving, Law


Tags: , ,

“Bock Bock Bock”

NOTE: I have to add that I have really struggled with this article more than any other article on this site.  This file to this article has sat on my desktop, mocking me, asking when I would finish.  This article may not seem like much, but was pieced together over the period of the last month as my hectic schedule allowed.

I talk a lot of revolution on this blog, on how things are going to change, and I have hope, for the better.  It seems, sometimes, when I get talking about a subject the ball seems to roll in that direction for me.  Stories will pop up about the subject I was writing about and new thoughts will come to mind.  When I set down my thoughts on a CNN article, more articles about said subject came up.  This trend did not change when I wrote about 3D Printing.  Shortly after an article about the bigger implications, this new technology would have on the world.

Every time new technology comes along that streamlines work, there are certain people who resist because of job securities…and yet, how many construction workers today would be willing to work without power tools or vehicles? If the goal were to employ more people, why not just take these things away? Technology always comes…and this is exciting technology indeed.

–       Mikeanglo

Home building ‘will come back’. This is a wonderful idea, 100% agree however, as the video states, this ONE machine takes away at least 10 specialized professions if not more, eventually this wonderful technology will result in ONE THING (surplus population). What to do with the MASSIVE inequallity that would/will result. Everyone can’t be a ‘programmer’ or ‘business owner’ – wouldn’t ppl have 2 DIE eventually? Does basic things like FOOD become free or something? Ppl need Jobs dont they?

–       year2044

Hmm… Great idea but not convinced that replacing construction workers with a single machine is really the way to help a local community. “Give someone a fish and they’ll feed themselves for a day. Give someone a net and teach them how to fish and they’ll feed their family for a lifetime.” Rapid prototyping on an epic scale is interesting though.

–       pashley26

Where is humanity in that? We can genetically modify almost everything, we can even Google babies (blue eyes, blond, athletically built). Is this where we end, A Robot? You can’t CNC/3D print Happiness of a craftsman. The pleasure of making that joy that liveliness of being human using our hands our heart and brain. Why don’t we just jack ourselves to a machine and have our surrogates do the living.

Why don’t we look for the cause of poverty and try to attack the roots of this problem.

–       mamalijoon

It seems we have this when any disruption comes to life.  Throughout history, the things that improve life are met with resistance because it will mean a negative for someone.  We have all the “Safety First” and “For the kids” type scream and scream for change, but when change is made that they want, impacts that are negatives for those who yell “For the children” all of a sudden becomes secondary.  Blind leading the blind, may sound cliché, but the truth is stranger than fiction.  We live in a world where people will demand something without ever thinking of what that change will means in cost.  Moreover, by cost I just do not mean monetarily, I mean the affects that change will truly bring in terms of community and the bigger picture of humanity.

I saw this first hand driving a truck.  Even though a few short years ago, I was caught in the crossfire of driving a big thing of environmental destruction.  This led to laws that limited the times I could run the engine, because every minute the engine runs that is a minute the earth’s protection layer (ozone) is depleted.  Never mind the data that had been collected and provided that says letting a diesel engine run is better for the environment, then constantly stopping and starting it.  Now that could be debated, as it was, what always got me was the argument of safety.  It was deemed over many years of arguing that a driver needed set hours, because tired drivers were killing people.  Yet in certain states and certain cities, I was not allowed to run my engine to supply myself heat during the hours I was required to rest.  This included nights when it was 40 degrees out, when lack of sleep is the cost of freezing temperatures.

That period of my working career taught me one thing; sometimes little thought of consequence goes into things that are supposed to help us.  Good or bad, it seems change comes without much thought towards what the outcome will be.  As long as someone’s complaint is satisfied, as long as the squeaky wheel is silenced then the change is justified.  This kind of recklessness de-legitimizes real complaints and shows little thought goes into the process.

Yes, it is harsh to say that but history bares this to be true.  Technology and innovation always disrupt first.  Technology in many forms is invented to solve problems, but some will not like the problems they solve because it always encompasses more.  We always have calls for safer work environments, shorter workdays; what is coming will bring that reality.  However, because we think short term the change will be met with apprehension and possibly violence.   If a machine can simply print a building, layer by layer in less time then labor, less cost and with near 100% safety the effects on humanity are immeasurable.  Overnight the world changes…

But of course who foots the bill?

And that is always the question someone always asks.  A decade ago that question would have been more legitimate.  But now we are heading towards a reality where scarcity is becoming solely artificial.  In the world of entertainment (Books, TV, Music, etc.) this reality is shown, there is no longer a need for a physical format that limits those realities.  I can simply transfer a file to someone and never lose the original.   The entertainment industries are in freefall because the walls they setup to create scarcity no longer exist.  Moreover, there lies the ultimate question; What happens when you remove those constraints on the necessities of life.  What happens when food and shelter is no longer a commodity that is tangible and controllable?  What happens when energy is abundant and not constrained by the realities we place on it now?  What happens when cars drive themselves?  What happens when education is not bound by a building and teachers in the sense we know it to be?

Every day I am confronted by stories of new breakthroughs.  One day it is printing organs, the next its printing food.  Whether we like what is about to come or not, change is unavoidable.   Where as in the past people may have huddled together to make sure the benefit was mutual, we are entering a time where the disruptive have no alliances and no cares towards others.  They want to disrupt and they want to change the world.  And I would dare venture that this rare breed, does not care about monetary gain or power but instead freedom.  They want a freedom that allows them to play with their toys and discover new things without the hindrances of the past.

But what confronts me over and over again is the naysayers, the “Chicken Littles” who deride change as not their kind of change.  We always hear about the “good old days,” from age, but how many of us ever think about what those days were truly like?  Yes, my grandfather walked 200 miles to school and fought a grizzly bear for his notebook, both of which will mean some unborn child will never know the value of the strong man balancing the moon on his pinky.

On a side note: I think He-Man is the greatest cartoon ever because I grew up with it.

I do not write this to say that change is automatically good, but change should be weighed and balanced with careful thought.  What we cannot outrun, or escape, is that disruptive change is coming.  It is going to force us to answer questions we rather not answer.    It is going to cause knee-jerk reactions.  Many of the ways we think about day-to-day life will be forever changed.  Change is not new, but the kind of rapid-fire change we are seeing now is not going to allow for breathing room.  That lack of oxygen is going to be gasoline for many to remain the status quo.

As they say change never comes easy…

Look up to the sky, tis a falling sky I see said one poultry to the other…

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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Technology


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Authors hate soldiers who lend books to cats and other tales from the twilight zone

A couple years ago Ubisoft, a video game publisher, under the claims of rampant piracy turned to an always-online form of DRM.  For those who do not understand, Digital Rights Management (DRM) can be thought of as an electronic lock that is “supposed” to keep “pirates” from copying and distributing things they did not “buy.”  The problem is most times most times when a company thinks of some brilliant way to stop piracy, it usually backfires in some horrible way and has to be removed at a later date.  The history of DRM could fill a couple articles for me, but for now I want to stick to this one instance of it.  Ubisoft thought they had the solution to stop pirates, their games would only work when an end user was connected to the Internet.  The only problem was that Ubisoft (a French company) would be accused of something else.

More on that later.

This past week a history lesson was about to be sprung upon my eyes.   Out of the blue a small story about people not understanding technology was seen in the wilds of my RSS feed.  I do not know why, but I chose to read the story and the cyclical nature of humanity was before me.  Much to my surprise those words from my days in public education came back: Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Thus this week a new word was born, ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, I present you the dawn of the: TWITMOB!


[twitmob] Show IPA noun, adjective, verb, twitmobbed, twit-mob·bing.

1. a disorderly or riotous crowd of online twitter people.

2. an online twitter crowd bent on or engaged in lawless electronic violence.

3. any group or collection of twitter persons or things.

4. the common twitter people; the twitter masses; twitter populace or multitude.

Last week a group of authors took to twitter to express outrage over a website they claimed was pirating their material.  While details are sketchy at the moment, two authors started a modern day rolling ball of witch hunting.  As the nature of the quickness and real time of online sites like Twitter, the ball got rolling very quickly.  Within a few hours, a web site was shut down without as much as a whimper from the site owner.  Turns out he was blindsided by the deluge of hate e-mails he was received.  The web hosting company that hosted the site was also deluged with hate e-mails, but these were of the legal kind.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA,) Cease and Desist (C&D) notice kind that demanded the site be taken down for illegal activity.

After the dust was cleared it was proven that the site in question did nothing wrong and was ambushed all over authors who could not take the time to read contracts they had signed.

LendInk (the web site in question,) provided a simple service to users, lending E-Books.  E-Readers like Kindle and Nook have the ability for the user to lend their books to another user for a period of time (usually 14 days.)  The book is lent similar to how it works in real life; you lend the E-Book and lose access to the book until the lending period is over.  This is the electronic form of the library.   Lendlnk provided a way of letting users on the internet meet up virtually and swap books through Amazon and Barnes & Nobles respective services.  Another interesting note to make is that authors having a choice of making their books lendable or not through contract.

Amazons terms state that “Kindle books can be loaned to another reader for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle—Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable—it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period. Books can only be loaned once, and subscription content is not currently available for lending.”

That is the major take away from this lesson: Read contracts you sign.

Instead of reading their contracts a few authors took to Twitter in outrage with legal guns blazing.  The truth did not matter, they were going to right the imaginary wrong they had created.  Even after the twitmob had dissolved, some are still defending what they had done.

But once a few hair-on-fire, sky-is-falling types of indie authors got wind of LendInk and found their books listed there, they jumped right to the WRONG conclusion that this was some kind of illegal Napster for ebooks and went on the warpath. Rather than take a few moments to read the site’s FAQ, where the specifics of the site and the legality of it were addressed clearly and in detail, these authors immediately started posting warnings to all their author friends about this new ebook pirating site, LendInk. It became an online game of ‘telephone’, with well-meaning people re-posting incorrect claims about LendInk, and the claims about LendInk getting more distorted as they were passed around and new posters added their take on the situation. In a matter of just THREE DAYS, it went from an online campaign of spreading hysterical misinformation to LendInk being shut down.

It is not surprising but this whole episode brought to my attention how humanity, still, remains the same.  We jump to conclusions without thought, we rather point fingers then take a moment to ponder.  It made me also realize the damage how much a few moments of rage can cause.  I am not infallible, neither is anyone who reads this article, we can all give into blind casuistryThat one moment of lost clarity is going to cost the authors in the end.  All because they could not take the time to question, what they thought was wrong.  Instead, they came guns blazing, shooting first and asking questions later, with the assumption that collateral damage was okay.

I think we all can forgive other human beings for making mistakes.  The problem here is we still have those who do not understand the damage their actions have done to their own careers and also one of the LendInk owner, who is a disabled Army Veteran.

Going back to Ubisoft, that great DRM plan they had led to them hitting a snag they never saw.  Or in the eyes of one commentator:

Ubisoft’s PC DRM is decidedly anti-soldier

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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Technology


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I want that…

As a follow up to last week’s post on the printed gun, I wanted to share this video I found this past week.  I think it is easy for people to say technology is destroying culture without fully looking at both sides of the coin.

When you seek to disparage technology, just think of those words: “I want that”

As an interim to the next section, here are some Jedi Squirrels!

A while back, I share my thoughts on the current Bullying trend and this week a new study came out.

“These results suggest that the new electronic media have actually created few ‘new’ victims and bullies,” Olweus said in a release. “To be cyberbullied or to cyberbully other students seems to a large extent to be part of a general pattern of bullying where use of electronic media is only one possible form, and, in addition, a form with low prevalence.”

One of the thoughts I have had about bullying was the fact that the “new found world” of the Internet was not really giving birth to new bullies, but just becoming an extension.  Years ago, there was an outcry that pedophilia was abounding because of the Internet.  That the number of people engaging in child porn was increasing.  The truth was that the instead of increasing numbers, they were staying the same, simply put people were moving their activities online and in some cases discontinuing real life methods.

Now again this is not to say bullying is right, but to point out that those who are in the business of pushing agendas are wrong.  I do not know if we can ever get rid of bullying, but I have to wonder which is worst being bullied in real life or online where I can choose to turn off the device.  Yes, again someone will be quick to say any kind of bullying is wrong.  As I asked before is this just another crusade?

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Technology


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Here is the cat, and here is the bag…

When I was High School, I had the fun of going to Vo-Tech to study computers.  My teacher decided it was my time to learn some problem-solving skills.  He presented me with a computer that would not work.  It could be software, it could be hardware, and it could be the outlet.  Simply put he told me to fix it and I was given a short time period to give him a report.  I tried turning it on, to no avail, I looked at the outlet and saw the power to the monitor and computer was plugged in.  The monitor worked so the outlet was getting power.  After staring at the computer, I shrugged my shoulders and returned to him to express my enigma.  We walked over and turned the computer around to show me the power cord was unplugged.  I was embarrassed, but he took that opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson.  When you are trying to solve a problem, always start at the root and work your way out.

When the Aurora shootings happened, I had thought about writing about the incoherent rantings of some experts about social media and video games.  Because we all know, inanimate objects tell their users what to do with their lives.

Actually, I do contend if video games had that power over users, this world we be a better place.  Because I cannot tell you how many times I have saved the world, helped others and saved more money then I knew what to do with, in most video games I play.

Oh well…

Of course with Aurora came the call for more gun laws and as usual I tried to ignore the coverage.  For me I find most of the coverage grating, filled with experts who provide more FUD then good insight and knowledge.  And it is not that the experts are not qualified to talk about the subjects they are called upon to give insight, it is the fact that a fresh incident cannot be commented on that quick.  And it is not that much fun to watch people conjecture about what laws we should make, and what thing we should ban when an incident like Aurora happens.

There are certain issues in the country I may have opinions about, but talking about those issues are futile.  One such is the laws governing guns.  Not that this is something that may or may not affect us all, but because I find the arguments ground in the middle of the sun.  Both sides are so far away from reality that I cannot find myself supporting either side, because of lack of reality.  It’s when I read something like this:

So, can you print a gun? Yep, you can and that’s exactly what somebody with the alias “HaveBlue” did.

I have to pause and see if people will accept reality, or simply still argue their points.

Sadly, they are still arguing their points…

3D Printers are starting to gain traction in the mainstream.  3D Printers are a technology that allows you, in the convenience of your own home, produce items with all sorts of materials (mainly plastic) right now.  The technology is not exactly new but it is now picking up steam.  3D Printers are very tantalizing to my passion, game design, as it allows me to create board games for lower prices and from the comfort of my own home, versus outsourcing that side of production.

What 3D Printers represent is the idea Star Trek presented with Replicators.

“No more shipping huge amount of products around the world,” according to the blog post. “No more shipping broken products back. No more child labor. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people. We’ll be able to share not only a recipe, but the full meal.”

This technology is going to change our world in the near future.  Revolution here we come.

Getting back to guns, the reality is the cat has been out of the bag for a long time, if you want to make a gun, you can, albeit a slow or long process depending on what you want to make.  Now with 3D Printers people are experimenting and succeeding at making low cost guns.  Now the catch right now is they are not able to make certain parts of the gun yet.  However, eventually this technology will allow anyone to print any type of object they want to, with the right materials at a cheap price.  The reality is passing a new law or hoping for people to change is wishful thinking.  People will find ways to do what they want, regardless of laws.

As has been shown over and over again, there will be calls for regulations and bans.  In addition, the business this type of technology disrupts will be forefront in calling for its ban and regulation.  And such is life.

The real question is there a solution to problems such as Aurora.  That answer is not as simple.  However, with problems like Aurora we seem to want to place blame on everything but the root cause.   Sure plenty of things could have contributed to why someone decides to commit crimes but still the root lies at them choosing to do such a thing.  And blaming the shoe maker, will not do much to stem nor solve similar crimes from happening.


Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Technology


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