April 1st, 2011
January 22nd, 2009
You guys ever play with ArtRage? It’s a OSX and Windows program that basically emulates painting tools for windows. Kind of. It’s fun. It has this super cheesy “trace” mode where you can load up pictures and it will automatically color match your brushstrokes with the image you’re tracing. I’m not explaining it very well.
Anyway, just becuase you get the right colors, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a good painter. I mean, right?
Anyway, Jenifer, my lovely wife, who is a trained fine artist, and, you know, fucking awesome, was appaled at my poor, poor attempts to paint portraits of Abigail the Schipperke in art rage.
To be fair, Gaia was laying on my mouse hand while I was drawing these. But to be more fair, I’m actually not a very good at painting.
November 10th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/212 first.
I use Creative Commons because I believe that it's better to share my creative works with people who can appreciate it than it is to die with a huge stack of unpublished works.
Creative Commons is not permission for you to make money off my work without compensating me. Creative Commons is not the same thing as dedicating your works to the Public Domain. Creative Commons is a way to let other artists know that they are welcome to see, enjoy, be a fan of, redistribute, and build on your work.
Raster and I played some good cop/bad cop on the Internet the other day regarding this subject. Here's a shout-out to the Creative Commons discussion going on here.
A side issue not being discussed here is the general emergence of the feeling that "the Long Tail" is bullshit. My opinion is that if you feel that the Long Tail is bullshit, I say you and I are probably talking about a different Long Tail.
Also, if you want to learn more about Creative Commons, I highly recommend this film.
November 7th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/211 first.
Jeni: I ATE the Heck outta blueberry muffin
Gabe: Blueberry muffins ought to fear you.
Jeni: really they should
Gabe: There's a four star alert on you out on the blueberry muffinnet right now.
Jeni: I bet. I tore through that muffin like nobodies business
Gabe: It turns out I'm a sysop on Blueberry.muffin.net. Who knew?
Jeni: Goddamn narc.
November 6th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/210 first.
Big shout-out and thank you to the folks at SeriousEats who were kind enough to call Gaia "Adorable."
I'll pass on the discussion over whether this is a correct application of the creative commons license in favor of simply basking in my daughter's new found internet fame.
October 24th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/404-Errors-in-Update-Manager first.
Are you getting 404 errors when you try to update Ubuntu 8.10 beta/release candidate? So am I.
Annoyed because most of the resources on the internet are dismissive, unhelpful, and kind of snide? Me too.
Now, in spite of my continued assertion that I am something of a linux expert, I actually am not very savvy when it comes to fixing parts of an OS that just don't work, but I'm not afraid to root around... especially when it's just a virtual machine I'm mucking with.
So, here's what fixed it for me. I picked "Main Server" instead of "Server for the United States" which was the default in the virtual machine I downloaded. This prompted a distribution upgrade for some reason, and after three hours and a reboot, update-manager was working for me again.
Try this for yourself. From your desktop, choose System --> Adminstration --> Software Sources to launch the Software Sources application. Pick something else from the "Download From:" option box. It'll look something like this, (especially if you're using the hotter-than-hot dark human look).
Anyway, It's Fixxored.
Linux is so easy.
(FWIW, I'd happily entertain discussion about what really was/is the problem on this here blog, if any one is in the mind to share.)d
October 20th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/dumb_big_man first.
A few months ago, you guys may recall, I posted a photobooth snapshot of myself holding a note I'd written on a postie that I couldn't read. This photo was from the period where I was releasing photos on a creative commons Share Alike license.
So it turns out this photo was featured on an otherwise unremarkable productivity blog called Dumb Little Man , on an otherwise unremarkable productivity article called "12 Ways To Become an Utter Failure at Work."
Words cannot express how much joy this brings me.
Although Dumb Little Man doesn't release their content under a 'share alike' license, share alike only requires you re-license under a "similar" licence.
We'll call CC-BY-ND good enough, I guess. I would prefer that they'd use my work under a little less restrictive licence, but whatever. I'm just flattered that they liked my photo enough to use it.
October 19th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/206 first.
That category is focused on my thoughts about parenting and stories and pictures of my girly.
Everything else is pretty much the inane ramblings of a lound-mouthed technophile.
October 18th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/CoolPix_for_sale first.
You wonder if Gabe is shallow enough to leverage social networks and his blog in order to draw attention to some crap he's selling on Craig's List?
You're kidding right?
You could own an old Nikon CoolPix 950. Just $20. Say the magic keyword "I saw it on Writelarge.com" and I'll throw in Four possibly dead energizer rechargeables.
October 16th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/Use_google_docs_as_a_sick_log first.
Gaia was sick earlier this week with what her doctor described as a nasty roller-coaster of a virus. She was a little flushed on Sunday when we went to the Pumpkin Farm with her cousins, and so we knew she was getting something.
On Monday, Jeni stayed home with her, preempting the "come get your daughter" call from the daycare. By noon she was throwing up and had a crazy high fever, so to the doctor she went. I stayed with her on tuesday. And that's where it gets interesting.
I didn't want to have to keep Jeni updated on the phone all day long while I sat with the girl. It was hard enough to be with her; she was so upset and sick. Dashing to the phone to update a concerned mommy was going to be frustrating, and I didn't really want to stream video because you can never really be sure who's watching and I wasn't planning on being on a throw up gag reel on the You Tube.
So I set up a spreadsheet and a form on Google Docs and shared it with Jenifer. Then I set the form as my home/startup page on my browsers-- as to facilitate updating the thing. It turned out pretty well, actually. Jeni kept an eye on it throughout the day. She said it was nice to see what was going on at home.
And more importantly, I didn't have to struggle to remember when things happened. I had a place to write down what she ate and when she threw up. I had time-stamped entries of when I gave her medicine. I can never remember that stuff, I would have had to have written it down anyway-- and between Jeni's laptop and mine, I had one near me for any given moment. At my house, it's probably easier to find a laptop than a working pen most of the time anyway.
Have you used Google's Forms features for feeding the spreadsheet? They're pretty basic, but they're fantastically easy to set up, and they do exactly what you're looking for with a minimum of set up.
And as for the girl? She's great. She's finally back at school today (Thursday) and, although her sleep schedule is really broke, she's on the mend and has pretty much talked non stop since about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
October 14th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/Little_Big_Planet_Beta_Review first.
At 6 p.m. Sunday Evening, Media Molecule pulled the plug on the Little Big Planet beta. Pulled the plug is a little harsh. It's probably more accurate to say that the beta expired. It still came as a bit of a surprise. I'd kind have hoped I could play until midnight.
I'm still not sure if I'm allowed to talk about it, given the non-negotiated Terms of Service that came with the beta code I was using, but I'm gonna spill anyway.
While the gaming press (as well as SCEA) seem to be hell bent on declaring Little Big Planet as the long-lost Killer App for the PS3, I'm not sold yet. I think another week of beta would have swayed me, but since I only had about a week of solid playing for only an hour or so every night, I've got a few impressions, but haven't yet decided if the game is, as the kids say, "all that."
Discussion about gamestuff, after the break.
The single player game looks solid. They only give you the tutorial levels on the beta (thats all I got to play, anyway,) so it's hard to say, really, what the game will play like as a single-player experience. The tutorial levels were varied and fun, however, they were only as good as any other platformer on the market. Little Big Planet is also as flawed as any other platformer on the market. THe game struggles the same way many two-dimensional games struggle with the conversion to the third dimension. It's not always easy (or even sensical) to see where enemies and platforms line up across the four or so planes of depth that make up the Little Big Planet playspace. This, however, is a nit. Any 3D platformer on rails suffers from this issue, and it's really a player-preference more than a design flaw. I prefer 3D platformers that are immersive and offer true movement from any point on a three-way axis to those that guide a player around on rails on any point in a two-way axis, and a a handful of choices on the third. Think of the difference between the 3D Mario games and the Crash Bandicoot games. There you go.
But where Sony and Media Molecule are really hanging their Little Big Hats, so to speak, are on the games online and multi-player components. It is in this arena that the game's greatest potential and it's most lethal weaknesses do battle. This next bit is so important that I have to put it in its own paragraph.
I have had no greater multi-player experience on the PS3 or Wii than the fun I had in the five days I got to play the Little Big Planet beta.
There are many parallels to draw between Little Big Planet and the much heralded Phantasy Star Online for the dearly departed Sega DreamCast. The first one. Before you had to have those shitty "Hunter's Liscences." Both games presented a kind of massively multiplayer experience on a four-person scale-- and the haphazard way that the game slaps servers and hosts together means that any given online experience is as varied as the next.
But more importantly, the game is much more fun as a multi-player event. Golden and rare multi-player moments are to be had in the multi-player game-- at one point, a guy named snake and I had grabbed onto some kind of rocket-sled and were careening out of control along the level, but some how we managed to crash the sled into a block and flip it up and over on itself, eventually careening into a flaming pile of broken blocks and burning cardboard.
The next thing we knew, Snake and I had re-spawned at the start of the course-- and unsure of what really had just happened, he and I both made our sack-boys giggle and chortle like a virtual Beavis and Buthead. It was goddamn magical.
The game's built in communication is similar, also, to Phantasy Star Online's. Entering text via the controller is painful at best, so instead, most communication between players is relegated to a few simple emotive gestures and the game's fairly open ended "arm swinging" mode.
But it is the online component where the game also stands to risk the biggest failure. I'm not sure if it's by design or because of the limited nature of the beta, but Little Big Planet's "Cool Levels" feature-- where the user-created, internet-stored levels can be accessed-- had a depressingly large number of "bad musical performance" levels. (Where players simply stood on a rolling whatever and listened to a series of chatter boxes bleep out vague renditions of "Sweet Child of Mine" or whatever.) Maybe I'm jaded, or maybe those levels just aren't my thing, but I would like to see a way that they could be filtered. Perhaps that will come with a larger population "tagging" the levels... but then again, it's the internet, right? If there is one thing the internet proves again and again is that if you give someone a tool, someone will find a way to harness the power of stupid. The possibilities of using Little Big Planet as a social engineering component for evil are considerable.
And that's where I get worried for Little Big Planet. Sackboy seems like he wants to be a good guy-- but almost no control over content or interaction is in the hands of the user. Again, remember that I only had a few days of trials on the beta-- and remember, this was a limited group of self-selected fanboys who weren't intent of greifing anyone-- but I had a few experiences where I loaded up a level only to discover that there was some snot-nose in the room hitting people or dragging them around or whatever, and my only recourse was to file an impotent complaint or to reset my own player back to my own home-base. If my two-solid years of daily time in Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates taught me one thing it was that an online game needs a swift and immediate banish tool and it needs to be put in the hands of everyman.
I suspect Penny-Arcade may have really nailed Little Big Planet's biggest weakness when they described Gabe's need for his "dick to stand out in a sea of cocks." Enter the Penisaurous Dix, indeed.
In fact, the overall question of quality over quantity is one that I think Little Big Planet is going to need to sort out quickly. Some of the user-generated content was fantastic, while some of it was horribly broken-- and a lot of it was good, but strictly amatureish. There were some great levels. (The Deamon Head level, for example, was fantastically fun, unusual, and well thought out, and there was a South Park level that was copyright infringtastic, but still beautifully rendered . )
So the question remains. Little Big Planet. Worth a buy? At $60 for the game, probably not. As a free experience, I am willing to forgo the little bumps and jags that come along with a game like Little Big Planet. The fact is, online glitches crashed crashed my PS3 at least three times over the course of last weak, and the player's ability to control his own destiny once sucked into an online match/world is far from complete. I'd rather have seen a free-game stacked with a dual-economy. (Similar to Puzzle Pirate's doubloon-based Oceans-- where players can buy or work for upgrades, depending on how much time/money they have expendable.) But, as a stand-alone platformer, Little Big Planet is probably one of the very best for this generation of systems--- and that's saying a lot. But I'd want to have my hands on some of the "professionally" developed levels before I really make up my mind.
October 13th, 2008
October 11th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/201 first.
October 10th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/CafeLulu first.
One of my favorite cousins, her business partner, and their restaurant "Lulu" is featured in OnMilwaukee.com today. For my money, there's no better place for asian slaw and delicious hand-made potato chips in Milwaukee.
Cammie, (Cameryne Roberts) has the money quote in the article. WHen asked what her favorite guity pleasure, responds:
"There's nothing better than Taco Bell on a hangover morning."
I don't get down to BayView enough, so I'm super happy to see they've got a place in 'tosa now.
October 9th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/199 first.
I'm really looking forward to Web414 tonight-- I don't think there are any plans to webcast it, so you should definitely come by.
At first I didn't think we'd need to have a meeting so close on the heels of a virtuous and successful BarCampMilwaukee, but in retrospect, now I'm glad for the chance to get together with the gang and breakdown the BarCampMK3 experience. I just hope we're far enough removed from it so that we can realistically assess what total failures we all are. Things like Freely exchanging ideas and inspirations and building on one another's passions are great and all, right, but will they feed a hungry orphan? Will the turn a frown upside down? Will they translate sarcasm across a textual experience? No. Of course they won't. I propose that BarCamps, in and off themselves, are for wankers. And that, when it comes right down to it, at the end of the day, we're all wankers.
The thing is, we're still int he Barcamp Honeymoon phase, right? After every Barcamp that I've been involved in, there is this period for a couple of weeks afterward that everybody is really high on the BarCamp experience and wants to do stuff and get thigns done and "hold a barcamp every three months," and stuff.
Here's a far-be-it-from-inclusive list of post BarCampMilwaukee Three Projects that have been launched in the not-quite-four-days since BarcampMK3 ended:
- WriteCamp (Reboot)
- A Sex With Ashe podcast
- Justin's iCal for next year that doesn't have anything on it.
Will these things grow and evolve into THE NEXT BIG THING?
Fortunately, and so far, we've been able to stave off any kind kind of wide-spread excitement or passion for these projects. I'm proud to think that by really hanging on to our bitter disappointment and selfishness, we can probably continue to stave off doing interesting, intelligent things together in favor of a bleak post-McCain election depressive episode. We wouldn't want to make the world a better place. Shit. Can't let that happen.
I, hereby promise that I will make it my life goal to prevent meaningful communication, effectively stamping out meeting, talking, sharing ideas, and inspiring change. And it is for this reason that I am looking forward to Web414 tonight. For the good of the nation, Web414, If it is my job to be the urine stream in your open-source wikiflakes, a urine stream I shall be.
October 7th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/198 first.
One of the sessions I wanted to do at BarCampMKE3, but didn't get an opportunity to was the "Finding time for the Internet." I suspect I would have been one of the only people who would have attended this session, but, given my concerted effort as of late to run on my treadmill in the basement and spend more time with the Girl, I've had a hard time getting some time together to spend with my computer.
Granted, a big part of that has to do with how broken my office is right now-- read the word "broken" as "Gabe is a pig: a fifthly, filthy pig". However, I've got a metric tonne of things to blog about and increasingly less time to do it.
And really, the thing is, if you can't find time to blog about something, you can certainly find the time to blog about not having the time to blog.
September 30th, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/node/197 first.
The gang and I at work have been asked to create the corporate holiday card this year. We're working on making it the worst possible, most awkwardly phrased, boring message we could come up with.
Then we back-translated from English to Japanese and then from Japanese to English. I just whipped up this fake, design, just for fun.
Although, we think we could definitely make it more awkward, it's painful to read as is. Imagine receiving this, with signatures from your firm's administrative team, on cheap, flimsy copy paper. And streaked with copier tracks. And ever-so-slightly misfolded.
A great holiday indeed.
September 23rd, 2008
Hey Kids!This was posted at http://writelarge.com/911problemsand0solutions first.
In the city of Milwaukee, 911, literally, is broken. Last night, under the advice of the police who, in months past, have visited my house investigating break-ins in the neighborhood, I called for a squad car. -- And dispatch argued with me that I didn’t need to call 911 and I should call the non-emergency line.
At about 8 p.m. the girl was getting dressed after her shower and I was in her room helping her. My delightful wife was in the bathroom when there was a knock at the door.
Remember, at our house, we have a very clearly posted “no solicitors” sign. Standing outside the screen door, I find a guy wearing some kind of an ID Badge from a local (for profit) college, selling me a sob story about how his neighbor burned down their flat and that he had no where to live and no job until he graduated from the local college. He had a large clipboard in one had with some things scribbled in it, and said he was collecting the names of the people who were helping him and that when he got back on his feet, he’d be sure to send something back to the people who helped him out.
I told him that I did not respond to solicitors and he would do well to contact Milwaukee Hunger Task Force and the Red Cross for help, because those were charities that I do support. He said he really just needed some cash and that the red cross hadn't helped him. I cut him off, said I was sorry, but I didn’t respond to door-to-door solicitors. He started to walk away to the north, and I called the 911.
And that’s where things get shitty.
After waiting on hold briefly-- seriously -- I told the dispatcher that I had just shooed off a panhandler begging door and that the police told me to call in with anything suspicious or threatening and ask for a squad.
The dispatcher told me that I didn’t have an emergency. I said that there was a threatening man at my door and that for all I knew he had a weapon.
She asked why I would say that.
I told her that I felt threatened and could she please send a squad. She said no. And told me to call the non emergency number.
Eventually my delightful wife took the phone and continued to plead with the dispatcher, and between she and I, we eventually elevated the call to a supervisor.
Now it gets shittier.
The supervisor told us that we could get a squad, eventually, and that she’d be sure to review the tape of the call, but that the public “Needs to understand” that the police chief has decided that squads will not be sent out to everybody who requests them. “We have a lot of frustrated people in Milwaukee,” she said.
I said something unhelpful-- along the lines of “You’re not helping.” and Jeni shushed me and then asked if she could “Please” send a squad. It was only at this point that the dispatcher actually asked for my address.
Look, you shouldn’t have to beg 911 operators to send you a squad. That’s fucked up, Milwaukee. Look. The guy’s sob story might have been legitimate. I doubt it, but maybe. My point is, that’s not for the 911 dispatcher to decide. That’s for the squad to decide. That’s what police in Milwaukee have told me.
Furthermore, I’ve been told by police chiefs that I’ve worked with in the past that It’s not dispatches job to decide if a squad should be called. I’ve been told that dispatch is supposed to relay information to the chain of command and that the chain of command is supposed to make decisions. I can see how such a scenario would break down in a larger police force like the City of Milwaukee’s, but that still doesn’t mean that when a taxpaying citizen calls for a squad he or she should be told that they’re emergency isn’t dire enough.
I should also emphasize that City of Milwaukee Police Officers have told me to lie to dispatch in order to get a squad out there faster. I don’t do this. I won’t purger myself just to make the system work. But that’s what police in Milwaukee have told me to do. ONe officer some years ago in my old neighborhood told me, “say you saw that he had a gun or something.” So clearly, 911 in Milwaukee is in disorder.
The issue of whether or not I had an emergency is a red herring in this case anyway. The issue is one of service to a community. I was trying my damnedest to be a good citizen. I was trying to report to the police that I felt something funny was going on. I had been told by police officers that this was the way to do it. To be told I’m not important and a cold and dispassionate dispatcher in a safe room miles away from me is more than insulting to my civic sense of responsibility. It’s insulting to anybody who expects that along with the higher cost of living and the significant tax rate enjoyed by city of Milwaukee residents, comes a stronger and more responsive infrastructure.
I point this out, on the record, today, as a pre-emptive explanation of why I moved out of the city.