On gaming with dead goats

You know, I’ve said that I just don’t understand Sony’s approach to things lately. Lots of their decisions, both business and creative, have come under fire, and it’s fair to say that it’s been a case of kicking Sony when it’s down. It’s hard to resist a good “oh how the mighty have fallen” story, and gamers are a notoriously fickle lot anyway. They love to scream and yell about every injustice, real or perceived.

But seriously? Nobody thought that a slaughtered goat would, you know, be a bad PR move?

Now, by contrast, that doesn’t appear to be the whole story. Kotaku has asked Sony for its side of the story, and hey, I’m not surprised to see that things were taken out of context. Fair enough.

Still…by all accounts, God of War II is a stunner in its own right. Do you need a dead goat to promote?

Interesting week at work

And by interesting I mean kinda bad. Layoffs are never good news, and Future US had to tighten its belt this week. It was a wholesale house-cleaning in the music department in NYC, unfortunately (dammit, Guitar One was much improved), but we are going to lose one of our designers to a design pool, which may work better long term, but it’s still a personal loss. Our staff is very well balanced and our efficiency over the last few issues has actually been improving, so this kind of change is bad.

Seeing friends like PC Gamer AD Joe Mitch leave the building is strange. Seven years at a company and then, poof, you’re gone. And while I still have my suspicious theories about why Kat was not selected for one of the design openings that she’s applied for since the demise of Scrapbook Answers, I now wonder if she’s better off. It’s stupid to blog about your workplace because even if you’re just blowing off steam, it will come back to bite you in the ass, so the less said about that situation, the better. In any case, she’s interviewed for that other job now and hopes are high, but we’re at that stage where all you can do is hope that her work speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, I could not be more creatively fulfilled at work. Every issue is a great challenge and I finally feel equipped to meet it. This is sweeter because I was away from it, so now I really see this as a golden second chance and I want to make the most of it. Everybody wants a job; I wanted this job for a long time and I’m savoring the work now that I’m doing it. I’m happy, even as the company goes through another tough time. So it’s a strange imbalance.

I feel like the guy enjoying the waterslide while the rest of the amusement park is on fire.

This laptop’s gotta go

I swapped laptops with a friend because my old Dell was dying, and she was more of a Mac person. The new hardware works fine…but not for me. It’s heavy as hell (7.5 pounds), eats up battery life like nobody’s business, and runs megahot because it’s a P4. I mean, it can handle WoW wonderfully because it’s really a P4. But I don’t want the temptation of playing WoW on the road, really, and the pains in my back from the road trip tell me that this won’t work for me long-term.  And it’s got a problem that I’m guessing is not unique: I keep hitting the trackpad with my thumb while I type, which makes the cursor jump around and my resulting document become almost unintelligible. I cannot for the life of me find a way to turn that off, and it’s ruining my entire experience with this thing.

I spotted the HP tx1110us at CompUSA and I really liked it. It’s 12.1″, it’s got a twisty screen, but most crucially, it’s got a recessed trackpad that can be turned off with a little toggle switch right above it. Ergonomically, it’s exactly what I want. However, it comes preloaded with Vista and apparently the battery life isn’t too good. (I am spoiled by my old Dell CPx, which had two battery slots and would regularly run for around 5 hours without complaint.)

I don’t want a gaming laptop. I want a work laptop, something I can fly with, get the story with, and come back with. I want to run Word or OpenOffice and a web browser, and for fun I’ll gladly install Infocom games and MAME and be more than happy. I need to run some command-line apps to get screenshots of Xbox 360 games on my own. I do not want a mini home theater or a portable gaming rig. Basically I want something hyper-efficient — a reporter’s notebook in the form of a notebook computer.

Suggestions, internet? My priorities are:

  • lightweight – I want to carry it everywhere, every day
  • small – no bigger than a 14″ screen, for quick & easy access and storage
  • battery life to the max – two hours is nothing to brag about
  • XP preferred over Vista – in fact I might just reinstall my XP Pro

What are you using? How do you like it? As always, your advice is worth more than the salesman’s.

Road trip

Gonna be out of contact for a few days, to anyone who might be curious. Going on a trip for a story; it’s gonna be interesting and I’ve never done anything quite like this…and it’s not even my story, really. But it was my idea so here I go. I’ll probably be off the grid and away from email for a good chunk of it; depends on the hotels along the way. At least I should be off my foot for most of the journey.

Heh heh heh.

Things Guitar Hero II has taught me

  • If you’re looking to score some Achievements, you will not earn them by playing “Woman” on Hard.
  • 94% is good enough for five stars and nobody needs to know.
  • When people on your Friends list make a point of telling you that they stayed up until the wee hours just to beat your score, you’re doing something right.
  • Sometimes, companies make small mistakes that can be easily and quickly fixed if the customers simply don’t overreact.
  • I still don’t know who was in my room last night.

Random Updates for April

For those of you who know us but haven’t been around us lately:

  • Kat is learning to play piano, very quickly. Her teacher says she’s literally the quickest study he’s had in several decades. She has the benefit of being an adult, but she also has the deficit of being an adult, so take it however you like. All I know is that I like hearing little baroque melodies wafting up from the living room, and we got a good deal on a compact, used digital piano.
  • I’m happy as Larry at my job. I really feel like I fit at OXM, I am constantly challenged in a good way, and I think the more creative risks we take in the coming year, the better off we’ll be. Hopefully those risks will pay off, of course. But I like the editorial vision and freedom and the proverbial wheels are turning.
  • Kat has been working on Pregnancy magazine as a contractor, which is not only a pleasant work environment but profitable as well. But the lure of a full-time position is strong, and she’s found one that might be a very good fit and would give her all the things that Future is apparently unable or unwilling to give her. (You don’t pass someone over for three different full-time positions for which they are qualified unless you want to send that person a message, albeit a cowardly one.) Cross your fingers; I will not say more so I don’t jinx it.
  • I love my Taylor T5 so much that I am going to sell two more guitars, but as we get closer to the core of the collection, the prices are going up. I think these next two will be $500+ each. I will always give friends first shot before listing them on Craigslist/eBay. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll tell you what I’m letting go.
  • The world of music copyright clearance is frightening and confusing. I am only sinking deeper into it as I try to figure out whether I’ve done the right thing or not. This is why so many people just write their own stuff rather than create parody.
  • WoW is preventing The Book from progressing. I need, like, two weeks in a cabin with internet access but no WoW, and I think I could get it together.