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A Week of Tweets on 2011-06-05

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Movie Round-Up: November 19th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Next Three Days, Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: (official site)

The entire world is going to see this movie over the next couple of weeks.  Except maybe me.  The movies have been good in this series, and I enjoyed the books.  But the final book was definitely the weakest in the entire run for me.  They had an opportunity to cut all the lame boring parts and shoot a tight two and half hour action packed film… their decision to break the book into two movies leads me to believe that all the boring, stomping around in the woods parts remain.  So I’ve lost a bunch of my desire to shell out the big bucks to see this on the big screen.  Even more so since I have to wait eight months to see the other half of this film.  I could be wrong.  This could wind up being a great film, but I’m willing to wait and see before I see it.

The Next Three Days: (official site)

This is the story of a man and his wife.  She is accused of murder and goes to prison.  He doesn’t believe she is guilty and decides to break her out.  Beyond that I know nothing of this film.  I had a chance to go to a screening for it, but ended up unable to attend.  I will say that I think this looks to be very good and I really want to go see it.  Especially with Russel Crowe and Elizabeth Banks playing the leads because I have really enjoyed a lot of both of their work.

Finished with Monthly Subscriptions

This isn’t a condemnation of the monthly subscription model for MMOs.  In fact, I think it is still a great thing, and preferable to the heavy handed item stores than some games use instead of a subscription.  However, over the past couple of months I’ve come to realize that as much as I love MMOs, games with a subscription model are largely a waste of my money.

Why?  Well, back in the day, I started playing Ultima Online and I gladly paid their subscription because I played every day (almost).  The same was true of EverQuest and of all the games that followed.  Some games I didn’t stick with for very long, a few months or a year, but even then when I was paying I was playing.  In the last year or so I have taken up a number of other activities, such as more reading, programming in my off time, writing, playing console games, and more.  The net result is that my MMO playing time has become fairly erratic.  One month I may play an hour or two every weekday and a couple of longer sessions on the weekend, the next month I may not log in at all.

Its the not logging in at all part that ends up bothering me.  I hate paying for something I don’t use.  Sure, I can just cancel and resubscribe when I want to play, but doing that is a hassle.  On the other hand, I didn’t play Wizard 101 at all in November and it cost me exactly zero dollars and I didn’t have to cancel.

I’m not saying that Free-to-Play is the wave of the future and all games need to do that, however there is a disparity in the subscription model.  It’s like going to an all you can eat buffet, paying the $10 and then only eating about $1.75 worth of food because you weren’t really hungry.  I wouldn’t mind seeing some games in the US adopt the pay by hour model used in the Asian markets.  I’d love to be able to buy a block of X game hours for Fallen Earth, and if I don’t log in for a month, I don’t use any hours, and when I do log in, all my hours are still there, waiting for me to use them.  No canceling, no resubscribing, just easy.  It would even be great if a game supported both models.  Let people subscribe for $15 a month for unlimited play if they don’t want to worry about how much or how little they play, let people who don’t want a recurring payment and don’t mind watching their hours buy 75 hours for $15 ($0.20 per hour) instead.

I will say that the one thing the subscription model does is prevent me from maintaining active accounts in multiple games.  I’d love to be able to pop in to EQ or DAoC or any of a number of other games for a couple hours once in a while, but re-upping for a full month of subscription makes the whole thing simply not worth it.  However, if all those old games had a pay by hour model, I’d gladly toss $5 on there every now and then in order to keep some hours available for those days when I just want to go play something different.

All this hoping and wishing aside, however, the fact remains, as of today I am officially finished with monthly subscription MMOs.  I want to play a number of them but I just can’t justify the cost given the amount of time I’ll play and the little spare money I’ve got for entertainment.

From a developer/producer standpoint, consider this.  While the need to unsubscribe might garner you a couple extra months of fees from me before I realize I’m not playing and cancel, the need to resubscribe if I’d like to put my toe back in the water is very likely to keep me from coming back.

What’s in a Name?

One of the things that has always bothered me with my writing is coming up with names.  Every character needs one and mine always end up in one of two categories.  Either their name is unique and awesome, or it is horrible plain and forgettable.  I have spent many any hour agonizing over names and often end up reusing the same ones over and over.

However, thanks to an idea from Corvus Elrod, I started keeping a list of names from spam emails and comments on this blog.  I’ve already got well over two hundred names and I’ve only been doing it for about a week.  The names range from the banal to the exotic and every level in between.  The idea was inspired, so to Corvus, sir, I tip my hat.  I may never have to worry about character naming again.

100 Sit-ups

It has been a bit over a month since I started my most recent run at getting in shape.  Phase 1 was 100 Push-ups, and at this point I am actually doing my 100 within ten to fifteen minutes.  I’m still a bit away from my goal of going it in three minutes or less, but I have definitely seen huge improvements.  So, I feel it is time to institute Phase 2: 100 Sit-ups.

Now, doing sit-ups is both going to be easier and harder for me.  My abdominal muscles are actually in pretty good shape… however, I have cleverly hidden them under a plump gut.  See, I actually use my abs quite a bit, getting on and off the couch, lifting things incorrectly, and other stuff, much more than I use the muscles in my arms (as a computer geek, my arms spend a lot of time resting on the desk while my fingers do all the real work).  That said, I did my first 100 Sit-ups last night in well under an hour, probably less than half an hour, but they were more crunches than sit-ups.  That gut covering my six-pack does a decent job of preventing me from completing the full sit-up (and I can’t touch my toes either).

I see getting through Phase 2 much more quickly than Phase 1, so I already need to start looking for a Phase 3… I’m thinking it is going to be some form of cardio… I do own an elliptical machine, so I might as well start using it.  The key here is that I am not currently in any life-threatening danger, but I do want to make sure I never am, so I want to add and make changes to my life a little at a time.  Small changes are easier to keep than drastic ones.

Times are Changing

There are two days out of the year that I hate.  One in the beginning of Daylight Saving Time and the other is the end of Daylight Saving Time.

I really wish the United States would do away with it.  Its rubbish.  The only thing is really does is confuse people, make them anxious and stressed, and throw off their sleep schedules.  Sure, the extra hour in the fall is great, but that lost hour in the spring is dreadful.

Anyway… don’t forget to check all your clocks.  Sync up with the Naval clock here.

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Zero

Before one can go to the Con, one must pick up one’s badge.  This is one of those cases where getting there as early as possible is a fantastic idea.  We didn’t get there so early.  Well, we did, sort of, but we checked into our room and unpacked first.  We shouldn’t have unpacked.  It took an hour and a half to get our badges.  But I hear the wait got up to be over two hours.  Saturday morning will be worse.

But, we got checked in, got our badges, and all is right with the world.

In previous years, Thursday night had always been more about getting a head start on Friday.  You got your registration, your room, and you prepared for the weekend.  Some people and groups would meet up for drinks and that sort of thing, but not a whole heck of a lot.  In recent years that has been changing, and this year Thursday night was Fan Party Night.  As I walked around the host hotels, I saw many large gatherings, but nothing beat the fan group from Battlestar Galactica who met up on the 10th floor of the Marriott.  They we big and loud and pounding shots.  Sadly, having to work in the morning I left early.  I hear there were push up contests and other revelry until quite late.

Next year…

A Case of the Mondays

To be honest, I do not have a problem with Mondays. I do, however, have a problem with all the people who insist on misusing a Monday.

The weekend, Saturday and Sunday, are time off for most people. They relax, they get away from the office and work. For other people, the weekend is time to get work done that can’t be done while everyone else is working. Programming is like this, especially when you are bug fixing a production level program. You can’t make changes to the underlying database in the middle of the day on a work day. You have to wait for late at night, or the weekend.

In one case you are returning to work and are in need of getting back into a work frame of mind. In the other case, you’ve spent the weekend doing one kind of work and are in need of getting back into the normal work mode.

Mondays, used properly, are great for this. On a Monday I like to wake up late, not too much, but about a half hour or hour late. Then I have a good breakfast, something I often skip later in the week. Next I’ll spend some time going through emails and sending out replies. I’ll pull out last week’s paperwork and merge it with the weekend notes, and make myself an organized task list of all the stuff that is still open and is still my responsibility. Just before lunch, I’ll gather up all the easy tasks and polish them. Most of them are so simple that I find myself actually thinking, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” With the bulk of quick work done, I go to lunch. If I’m at home, I eat and watch some TV; if I’m at work, I eat and chat with coworkers. But in both places, in the back of my mind, I’m sifting and shuffling, organizing and prioritizing. After lunch, I settle in for the long afternoon. Tackle as much as I can in preparation for the rest of the week which is bound to throw me a curve ball or two. This is when I remember why I didn’t do that easy stuff sooner. By the end of a good Monday, the To Do list is half or more done and the coming week has a nice outline of work to be done.

That is how a Monday should be.

It is a shame that so many people insist on trying to cram status meetings and project planning on to Mondays. No one is ever mentally prepared. They are either still too relaxed, or they are just in the wrong frame of mind. All the meetings really do is to force people to rush into action, instead of easing into the week at a brisk walk or comfortable jog, Monday meetings make people hit the ground running… and its why by Wednesday they are begging for the weekend again. And because of the befuddlement and confusion of a rushed Monday, all those meetings will need to be repeated later in the week in some form or another. A giant waste of everyone’s time.

If you are a manager or project lead or anything of the sort, I beg of you to take this to heart. Hold off on those Monday meetings and rush whenever possible. Let your people, in fact encourage your people to, use Monday as a day of preparation. They’ll be much more productive later in the week, I promise.

The Lost Colony

I finally got around to finishing off this addition to the Artemis Fowl series, and I must say The Lost Colony keeps up the tradition: a non-stop action story.

Seriously, Eoin Colfer knows how to drop you right into the action at sixty miles per hour and keeps the foot on the gas until the finish line is crossed. He does not waste any time on chapters of boring filler to catch you up to the latest doings of his characters. Instead he joins a subplot right in the middle and dishes out the details as they are needed. Of course, being books aimed at kids I suspect that is intentional since boring slow chapters would lose his audience.

Anyway… this story deals with the lost 8th race of the fairies, demons. Ten thousand years ago, after losing a war with humans when none of the other fairy races would support them, the demons’ warlocks cast a spell a ripped the entire demon island, Hybras, right out of time and sent it into Limbo where they would stay and maybe return when they could defeat the humans. Only, the spell didn’t work right for some reason, the warlocks all died, and Hybras got stuck out of time, but the spell is decaying and demons occasionally get dragged back through time, show up briefly and then vanish, some return, some lost forever. Artemis, who reverse hacked the fairies and found out some details on the time spell, has calculated that the spell is near failing completely which will send Hybras crashing into Now, which will expose the fairies to the world.

And we can’t have that… so the usual suspects are rounded up and head off to figure out how to stop it from failing, or maybe just make it fail in a controlled manner.

Like the other Artemis Fowl books, I enjoyed it. It was a fun quick read, funny and exciting. Good, I think, for kids, and not so bad for adults either.

Wii`ve made a full 360

So, yesterday morning, after breakfast at IHOP, before getting gas for the car, the wife and I swung through Target to see what was what.

The new Xbox 360 Elite was due out, and they happened to have one. Just one. They also had eight Nintendo Wii’s (left from the 20 they’d had just an hour before). In full financial abandon, we bought both.

This should be fun…