I’m a folding millionaire

I’ve been involved in the Folding@Home project for several years now. It’s a Stanford program that takes the unused cycles on your computer and uses them to do science, analyzing proteins to see how they tick. Scientists will then use that information to cure diseases. Every work unit is assigned a point number, so it’s the kind of thing that you can be vaguely competitive about with friends.

Today I hit a million points. Take that, cancer! In honor of the achievement, I was recently feted by my teammates from Maximum PC.

If you are interested in helping out, join team 11108. There are clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, and even PS3. Every little bit helps.

GB segment of Inside Xbox

So if you’ve got an Xbox 360 and you’re connected to the interwebs, click on Inside Xbox today (and throughout the week). The OXM Report interview with Ryan French is online, and he talks a little bit about what multiplayer will entail on 360.

And in part because the fan community was bummed that nobody in full gear attended the San Francisco GB preview party a few months ago…I shot the intro and outro in full gear. That’s my pack in the background of Ryan’s shots.

We shot the whole thing twice — once as a two-person camera shot with me in the uniform interviewing him, and another time with him solo. Microsoft chose to use the solo shots and, frankly, I think they made the right call. The 2-man interview thing was probably pretty awkward.

It’s free, and I don’t think you even have to be a Gold member to see it. Just sign into Live and go to the “Inside Xbox” option at the main Xbox Live blade.

The clip should be posted to the web later in the month as part of Microsoft’s usual process. When it hits the web it will be here. But for this week, it’s just on Xbox Live.

Watchmen: The Old Script

I had a copy of this Watchmen movie script in the mid-90s. Actually, I still do. It was written by then-hot screenwriter San Hamm, who’d written the first Batman movie. It is the reason I have been dreading a film adaptation for so long.

At the time, several names were thrown around — Robin Williams at Rorschach, William Hurt as Ozymandias, Kenneth Branagh as Nite Owl. (My vote for Dan Dreiberg at the time: Dan Aykroyd.) Thankfully this never got made. This is the script that appeared before Terry Gilliam tried to make it, and then Gilliam’s idea died again because Terry and Alan Moore concluded that it couldn’t and shouldn’t be made. Also, Warner wouldn’t let them stick to the book as closely as they wanted to.

While I strongly believe that a 12-part HBO miniseries is the ultimate way to tell this story on film, I am still optomistic about Zack Snyder’s version. But I urge you to grab your most plentiful alcoholic beverage — it does not have to be your favorite, there just has to be a lot of it — and read the old, long-dead script this weekend. If possible, invite friends over and each take a part. If you don’t have the time, read the beginning and the end. The middle bits are actually not that bad, considering the time, the Batman influence, and the fact that they were trying to make it into a 90-minute rollercoaster. They actually tried to stick to one of the main plots, so I give them credit there. But the first scene and the final scene are unforgiveable.

How not to use online video

Okay, here’s my problem with the internet, circa 2008. (I mean, besides the fact that it lost the capital I.)

Today while surfing I found a blog post that I wanted to read. It was called “There’s only one reason you should switch to D&D4E.” That’s effective headline writing — very compelling. I clicked through.

What I got was an online video. And in the first minute, all he did was explain who he was, and what he was going to talk about. He seemed friendly.

I do not doubt that the guy is an expert and I really do value his opinion on the matter — I am very interested to see what the “old guard” thinks of the new game, and what they feel its strengths and weaknesses are. But I could have read his thoughts faster. After the first minute of a 4-minute video, I was ready to stop, but the point didn’t actually come until 2:50.

I really like YouTube. I am down for everything it does right, all the doors it has opened. But when it comes to blogging, online video is shinier but less efficient. If you are actually showing something, it’s brilliant. If you are saying something, it’s not. Text is the lingua franca of the internet for good reason.

If you have something important to say, type. The world will still hear you if it wants to.

Radio days revisited?

My local morning show recently had a shakeup. They’re taking audition CDs from the general public to find a replacement co-host.

What do I have to lose? I listen every day anyway, and the worst they can say is no. (Okay, they could mock me on the air…but I expect that.) My four-minute CD goes in the mail tomorrow.

Watchmen trailer and more

The Watchmen hype is heating up. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m an obsessive fan so this is a time of great hoopla. The trailer was released, the website has launched into something resembling a promotional destination, and it’s this week’s cover story of Entertainment Weekly. Most importantly, the old merch is starting to show up on eBay for stupid prices. (Ethan — the guy who mentored me into a life of Watchmen, the way vampires add new recruits to the family — owned that back in the day.)

Ethan noted that Alan Moore is now and forever unhappy about the movie but as a diehard fan, I like everything I’m seeing. The trailer shows that they used the comic as a storyboard for shooting — which is exactly what I think needed to happen. The fact that I could say the lines along with the trailer the first time I saw it says something. Zack Snyder is keeping it real, as the kids say. It may have flaws when it’s done but it will have been attempted in the proper spirit, so on some level, I think it already wins.

E3 mini-wrap-up

So other than the Who being a personal highlight, I liked the show this year. Many people said it felt like a wake — we were back in the LA Convention Center but occupied a much smaller space and there were fewer people. I spun that as “an intimate show where I didn’t have to elbow 12-year-old Gamestop clerks in the face to get 45 seconds of hands-on time with a game so I could write a 300-word preview.” They got rid of the fat. I don’t see that as a downside.

I saw a lot of games I really liked. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed looks great in motion; I’m really excited. I think the Wanted game could be great fun. Rock Band 2, well, rocked. I didn’t get to see Gears of War 2 or Lips but heard great things. And I simply do not want to play You’re In The Movies.

It was the first E3 in ages where I did not see a new Tony Hawk game. I think they’re finally giving it a short rest, which is good. How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

E3 is like homecoming. It’s the only time we get to see each other in person. Hell, I got to spend time with a writer I’ve been employing freelance for a year now.  The funny thing is I saw a lot of people who I see at all the junkets but have never really been introduced to and could not call “friends.” Last year, one of them memorably asked me where the bus was picking us up; when I said I didn’t know, they said “Don’t you work for Microsoft PR?” After all, there had to be a reason I was always around.

I was in the EA booth, minding my own business, when a guy from Goldman Sachs stared at my badge and asked, “Hey, you’re a reviewer — tell me, how would you review these games?” I said, “None of them are finished; it would be unethical and irresponsible for me to even comment.” And I walked away. Is this really how investment banking works — asking total strangers at trade shows what they think without so much as introducing yourself? I don’t care if you tell people to buy EA and EA buys Take-Two and Take-Two buys really fancy cars and homes. The media is not your focus group. That said, if you want to hire me as a temporary consultant or an analyst, we can talk.

Amazing Journey

I was at E3 yesterday. I was supposed to leave on a late afternoon flight but I was implored by Jeff Casteneda to stay overnight and not miss the Rock Band 2 party. He just said that I could not miss it, particularly me. We’d talked about music at length when I was doing the Rock Band cover story so I know he knows my musical tastes. He was very emphatic. So I rearranged my flight for the next morning and planned to pull an all-nighter in the airport, during which I wrote most of a feature.

This was the ticket.

This was the club.

And this was the band.

You can’t really see them, but you’ve heard of them. It’s the Who.

Yes, THE Who.

Pete Townshend has been a huge guitar and songwriting influence on me for years but I had somehow never managed to get my ass to a Who concert. Seeing them in a 2,000-seat venue…unreal. I had great balcony seats in a small venue and got to enjoy the show with friends from Future. I don’t think they caught me welling up a few times.

It was worth staying up all night to make it happen, even though I suppose I could have gotten some sleep. I was in the mood to work so it was all good.

You may find photos of me singing or playing fake guitar in pre-show rounds of Rock Band 2, but know that they are all falsified in Photoshop and I would never do any of that in public.