Fleabass

Spotted this in a recent issue of Guitarist, my favorite UK guitar mag: Flea is starting his own company, Fleabass, to produce bass guitars for his students. He runs a music conservatory, trying to pick up where public school music lessons (which put him on the path) have sadly left off. And after seeing the instruments people brought to class, he thought he could do better — solid stuff in two scales (34″ and a kid-friendly 30″), made with quality tonewoods (alder, rosewood), built to pro specs with a proper setup (this is still the single biggest problem with “starter” instruments), but stripped down with affordable prices for families.

That’s a noble goal and even better than a “signature” model (which he also has). I’ve seen some student instruments that are so bad that they actually discourage kids from playing so anybody who fights that fight is a good person in my book. But that’s not why I’m blogging about it. I’m blogging about it because I want one, and nobody who frequents my page should be surprised when they see the awesome candy colors, like green/pink, orange/yellow, or my fave, blue/orange:

Tell me that would not look perfect next to Lammy.

Twitter stuff

I’ve been on it for a while, and people ask “what’s the point?” Well, besides the supposition that you are so fascinating that everybody needs to hear your every thought, it’s easier than stopping to blog, and it’s like having a conversation with your online friends all day long. Also, it’s a nice way to stay in touch with people in your industry. Frankly, there are folks that I feel like I have never worked with or gotten to know who run in different cliques in game journalism. It’s a lot like high school, actually; there are cool kids and outcasts, even though we all have a lot in common. It could just be my interpretation, but I often feel like I have done or said something that shut me out and I’ve never known what made me the social pariah — I know OF them, they know OF me, but there’s no connection. Is it where I’ve worked? Is it something I’ve written? Have I not gone to the right parties, whereas a lot of other folks like to hang out at the bar at press events, which has never been my scene? Am I not cynical enough in my outlook on gaming, which seems to be a common thread in the press? Did I simply not say hello enough when I had the chance — good ol’ fashioned social nerdery on my part?

So, you know, it’s kind of nice to use Twitter to follow those people and get to know them on some level, since I don’t know them in real life. And when they follow me, I think, okay, this is not a lost cause; maybe they feel the same way. It’s less awkward for everybody. Maybe this minor social interaction will make the next face-to-face meeting a little more engaging and fun.

In comes Qwitter. Twitter tells you when someone starts following you, but Qwitter tells you when someone stops. And sure enough, one of those people that I felt particularly good about chatting with left my Twitter feed today. They’re no longer interested in what I have to say; it’s a personal rejection. But I’m still following them.

I guess the real problem is that I place stock in what other people think of me in the first place, and then I’m using this as some sort of ego yardstick. I’m insecure enough to use Twitter to start with; I’m even more insecure that I signed up to use Qwitter to deliver bad news. And to top them all, I have put self-worth stock into the number of people who I think will be fascinated by my off-handed comments about music and the neighbor next door having sex.

Looks like I brought this on myself. Maybe I should go to more parties.

Actually, what this has taught me is that I put too much stock in what other people think of me. I gotta stop trying to be friends with everybody.

Another new PSwap track

Where have I been? I usually blog on or near the weekends, but lately all my weekends have been spent doing musical stuff. I’m writing my own songs, I’m getting ready for a public performance next month (nothing major, but a good confidence builder for me in a fun venue that hosts a weekly variety show — think open mic night with structure), and most recently I’ve been working hard with Jude on a new Palette-Swap Ninja track that we made in conjunction with the 100th episode of the Maximum PC podcast. I’m really enjoying being musically active at home and not having to lug gear around, but I do find it hard to work on more than one musical project at a time. Since we had a deadline for “Vista Drivers” I made that priority and put my other stuff on hold, but I’m messing about with the other stuff more today.

Jude and I are now brainstorming on future parodies. The one about Halo was a surprise hit (on our scale anyway). I don’t really know how many downloads or plays there were, because we only tracked our site’s 10,000 downloads, then Bungie mirrored it for who-knows-how-many impressions, then the YouTube clip got 60,000 hits, and just on Entertonement.com alone it generated 160,000 plays in two weeks. So I guess we will see where it goes, but we have no real expectations (though I’d like to make some t-shirts just to have a souvenir of the whole project). We’re doing it because it’s fun, and it would be nice to have people recognize the name and go “oh yeah, they’re the funny gamer geek guys.” It’s also nice to be in charge of a creative project at the end of a long day at the office.

Kat tries energy drinks

She’s never wanted or needed them, but a recent deadline push and some lost sleep caused her to give my favorite (for its sheer effectiveness), 5 Hour Energy, a try. It’s two ounces of mostly B-vitamins, with some caffeine but no sugar. This is what happened.

She then proceeded to vibrate for five hours.

Oh Christ, shut up already

So this month, there’s a new kerfuffle in the eternal PC vs. Mac culture war. (Please keep in mind that I am reporting from the front lines as someone who uses both platforms pretty much daily; I even do the same tasks, like writing and audio editing, on both.) After three years of unsuccessfully being able to counter Apple’s fantastic “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” campaign, Microsoft has now launched the “Laptop Hunters” campaign, wherein they tell people to go find a PC on a budget; if they find one that suits their needs, Microsoft will buy it for them. Two such ads star Lauren and Giampaolo. These cheery young leaders of tomorrow consider and like Macs but cannot afford them, so they buy PCs instead and do not feel like they are settling for less.

Naturally, this made the world explode to the point where Newsweek had to cover it. Lauren is an actress, they say. (Could someone be an actress and in the market for a computer? That’s crazy!) The whole thing was scripted and fake, they say. It’s offensive and borders on a personal insult to Steve Jobs and his family, they say. And you can see she never even enters the Mac store, they say.

And who is the “they,” making most of the noise? Mac zealots. Of course.

Look, here’s the fucking truth: Mac people are like Nintendo people. You say anything negative about their platform and they get bent out of shape — not just defensive, they counterattack. (I liked the folks who got upset about the ad making Mac people sound like elitist jerks…and then blogged in their own defense about it to cement the stereotype.) God forbid someone buy a cheap PC laptop and live happily ever after. How would such a thing threaten you?

If you love your product, use your product. You don’t have to slam every other product out there. Because if you do, you look like an insecure douchebag with a superiority complex. Out here in the real world, we like Macintosh. We’re just sick of you.

What’s more, Mac/Nintendo people like to feel superior because they refuse to use anything other than their chosen brand. As a result they often don’t know what they are missing; they don’t have a rational view of the world because they are shutting out information that they might actually find useful or interesting. I am not saying they have to fall out of love with whatever it was that popped their technological cherry; I’m saying they are willfully ignorant and have somehow convinced themselves that that is a good thing.

Did Microsoft play dirty with this ad campaign? Maybe. That video of her not entering the store certainly makes it look like she never went in or it the walker is also an actor, so they did a second take. Either way, yeah, that’s shitty. Was it scripted? Maybe; I would not be too surprised. And if it was staged, that would be a further drag, because there are people who do feel like Lauren is shown to feel. Unfortunately they aren’t necessarily cute redheads. (If you are a cute redhead and you use a PC, please send me a photo. I have a collection.) But, you know, everybody who uses a PC is not using a PC because they are the unwashed masses. Some Mac people choose Mac; others show up to to work and it’s on their desk. Similarly, some people use PCs because they have to; other Windows people actually choose Windows. And Mac zealots are dangerous because they won’t accept that. Not that they can’t; they simply refuse. They are ideological extremists, and frankly, they are terrifying.

Bottom line: Is advertising truth? No. Stop looking for some sort of empirical fact in a message designed to influence. When it comes to commercials, both Microsoft and Apple are stacking the deck. If you think you’re being dealt anything but a crooked deck, you’re the joker.

In the meantime, shut the holy fuck up and do something useful with your computer of choice. Use your Mac or PC and, say, cure diseases. I do. On both.