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Comment: Re:Thank You Very Much for Stella (Score 1) 162 162

This reply is hideously late, but I'd like to throw in my thanks for your work. I'm a game developer, and as a rule we're terrible at preserving our history. Most emulator writers do tremendous work in trying to keep a little bit of our history alive that would otherwise pass into oblivion.

Keep it up!

Comment: Re:Papers? Don't Need No Stinkin' Papers! (Score 1) 884 884

Being fat, old(er), and white doesn't necessarily protect you. I was walking around the town where I live late at night (was working with Europeans, so I slept odd hours and still wanted to get some exercise) when the cops stopped me. Now, it was cold and by the coast so I had 2 layers of coats on and I have a long beard. The police officer basically admitted that he stopped me because I looked poor/homeless. He also asked me what I did and if it provided good wages.

I cooperated because although I think it's BS to be stopped like that, I didn't feel like making an issue at midnight in the cold. But, yeah, you can still be stopped just for looking wrong in other ways besides skin color. Still, these types of laws need to be stopped; as someone else said, the right to freely assemble becomes a lot less potent if you have to identify yourself and then be cross-referenced on a database thus eliminating anonymity.

Comment: Re:Data ownership (Score 4, Informative) 183 183

There's a lot of activity on Google+, the problem is that you have to invest some time and effort to find the good conversations.

The circles Google+ uses are it's best feature and it's biggest weakness. You can send out updates only to people who you want to see. But, the problem is that newcomers to the network don't see anything you're just sharing with a circle. So, to someone who just signs up, it looks like there isn't much going on.

In my case, I was lucky enough to have a few people involved with indie tabletop RPG development add me, probably because I'm a somewhat known MMO developer. From them I was able to add a few more people, and some of them shared their circles, and now I have nearly 3000 people who post about tabletop RPG stuff in my circles. There's a wealth of information there, but if I hadn't found the first few people I wouldn't have known about it.

I wonder if Google+ could do something about this. Maybe have some "official" circles for people to join into to see some activity immediately upon joining. It won't replace personal circles, but might help fight the perception that nothing goes on at Google+.

Ultimately, the lesson here is that you get out of Google+ proportional to what you invest into it. If you just add a few friends to circles it's boring. Find some existing circles on stuff you care about and it'll blow your mind.

Comment: Re:So WTF do the non-depressed do with the interne (Score 1) 278 278

Introverted does not mean "shy". It means that you interact with people differently. Essentially the GP is correct: for an introvert, dealing with people drains your energy. Extroverts, on the other hand, get energy from interacting with others.

As a fellow introvert who is not shy, I can completely understand why you would want to IM instead of chat while in the same room. When you're concentrating on something (which introverts tend to do more often than extroverts), interruptions can be destructive to the thought process. Actually, my significant other does something similar, where she'll send me links to videos she thinks are funny rather than demanding I watch them right then and there even though we're in the same home office.

If you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. It goes into some of the practical explanations for why introverts are the way they are, and delves a bit into the science behind it. Great for introverts who want to understand themselves, and for extroverts to get some kind of understanding why introverts act the way they do.

Comment: Re:anyone remember friendster? (Score 1) 373 373

Actually, that's not quite true. My given name, "Brian Green" is dreadfully common. I was at a conference recently where someone tried to add me on LinkedIn but I didn't show up in the first page of results on their phone. I told them to search for my pseudonym, "Psychochild", and I was the only result.

And that's the reason why I've kept using my pseudonym, even in a professional environment. (Okay, I'm a game developer, so it's a bit more acceptable.) But, if you have a very common name then using a pseudonym can help make you easier to find.

Comment: Re:You mean the entirety of the concept? (Score 1) 147 147

Caveat: I'm an MMO developer and I like the microtransaction system. In short, if you're not the biggest game (if you're an indie developer, for example), you can't compete with a larger developer via subscriptions. They'll make more money with more subscribers, therefore the $15 someone pays for another game will feel "worth more" than the money paid for your smaller game. You can read a more in-depth analysis on my professional blog.

The example I give of why I like microtransactions as a player is that I can control my costs easier. I play Dungeons & Dragons Online with some friends, which uses this business model. I can tell you exactly how much money I've spent on DDO: $100. I've also played WoW in the past, but I don't know exactly how much money I've spent on it. I will say I know I've spent more than $100 just on buying boxes for the original game and expansions for WoW.

Anyway, it's not like subscriptions are inherently virtuous. Just ask anyone how much they love their cell phone provider or cable company. You can be gouged by unscrupulous businesses with a subscription or any other business model, even "free" given that most companies sell your personal data to support that business model.

Comment: Re:5 fucking color stripes in a square. (Score 1) 258 258

What is the "bigger problem" by not deleting articles? As I said in the GGP, the bad stuff should be fixed by contributors if enough (knowledgeable) people visit the page. Which, to me, is leaps and bounds better than the current situation where someone with no knowledge on a topic can advocate the deletion of an article and keep submitting it for deletion despite what people active in the field the article relates to advise.

Ultimately, I think that's the problem with article deletion; it's a way for people to wield some modicum of power over "the encyclopedia anyone can edit." It basically says that "anyone" cannot be trusted to do the right thing, which kind of invalidates Wikipedia's whole reason for existence.

Comment: Re:5 fucking color stripes in a square. (Score 5, Insightful) 258 258

Why is it so vital to classify stuff as "garbage" and "non-garbage"? (The fact that you chose to use the word "garbage" with negative connotation says a lot.) Good stuff gets looked at, the rest (shallow self-promotion, astroturfing, libel, etc.) gets corrected if it's something a lot of people will run into. Given the cost of running Wikipedia already, it's not like a few tens of thousands of pages is going to make a difference in a digital world.

The thing I loved about Wikipedia back in the day was the ability to find obscure stuff. Yeah, I could search for it online, but that didn't give me the context. It was a real joy to just lose yourself reading links in Wikipedia. But, after seeing a bunch of articles I care about get removed, it's less of a joy because I have to wonder what other information was deemed "not notable" enough for me to read.

The ultimate problem with "deletionism" is that people with no real knowledge of the topic are often the ones calling for deletion. Or, worse, you get someone who has a personal interest in deleting an article as "revenge", as in the case of the Old Man Murray issue from last week.

Here's my "faling out of love witih Wikipedia" story: An article on "Dragon Kill Points" (DKP) was deleted back in the day by someone who thought it wasn't notable; as a respected MMORPG developer, I argued it was a very notable and important concept to the field. I managed to help put off two deletion attempts on the basis of "not notable" in the span of a few months, only to have the article deleted later in a "speedy" process. The first two proposals came from the same person (after the first one was an unambiguous "keep" result), and the three requests came all within 4 months of each other. This seems a bit beyond someone wanting to "clean up" the site. Of course, the article was added back some years later, but it's a shadow of its former self and not nearly as useful.

Lesson learned! Not is a lot of potentially useful information missing, I also learned that anything I contributed in my field might be wiped out by someone who just doesn't like it. I'll spend my time doing something more useful than contributing or using Wikipedia, thanks.

Comment: Re:Astrology not affected (Score 1) 468 468

As pointed out, the science geeks who criticize astrology usually focus on the trappings. They evaluate astrology as a hard science and, not surprisingly, find it lacking.

A game developer posted an interesting article about Astrology as Fiction. Meaning, don't look at it as an ironclad way to try to predict the future, but look at it like we do with games and stories. For example, we don't criticize Star Wars for being false even though the story is entirely made up. But, there's still some value to the story, and likewise with astrology.

I think the biggest value of astrology is that it introduces another point of view to consider. Reading "a tall, dark stranger will enter your life!" might make me think of a tall, dark friend who might be able to help me with a current problem. Not that much different than chatting with someone while considering a problem to generate ideas, only astrology merely requires the daily paper not someone's time. Sure, there are some people who take astrology too literally, but that's kind of like someone believing Star Wars is real; a sign of possible problems in the individual, not a reason to ban fiction.

Comment: Re:This is how I see it (Score 1) 351 351

Except that in P2P, you're not just shoplifting CDs. It's more like stealing CDs then going out front of the store and shouting, "HEY! Anyone want a copy of these CDs?"

Even if you go put the CDs back after a lot of people have copied them (thus no permanent deprivation of property!), you're not exactly doing the store any favors there. I suspect in this case the cops wouldn't just chuckle and say, "kids will be kids!" The thrust of most arguments here seems to be that because copying bits online is easier than copying bits from physical media it should be accepted. Some of us don't agree with that argument.

Comment: Re:Well, here are some actual reasons (Score 1) 235 235

The mandate to produce new content instead of fix old broken content. I'll never understand that one, and I tread on dangerous ground going too much into it, but it was a horribly bad idea.

I'm an MMO developer, but I only played Warhammer Online in the open beta. Didn't get into enough (and my friends didn't start playing it) to buy the box and play it afterward. But, allow me to provide some insight here.

Most major MMOs like Warhammer follow a trend which is set by the number of players they initially attract. After they hit their peak (usually pretty quickly after launch), they usually slowly decline over time to a steady state. There are small fluctuations based on releases of expansions, etc., but the number of players during that steady time is generally a function of the peak number. So, conventional wisdom is that you want to have as high a peak as possible to retain the maximum number of people playing (and therefore paying) when you hit the steady state later. Yes, there are exceptions like EVE Onlien or WoW, but those are special cases (EVE Online flopped when it launched and the company only survived due to some particularly lucky circumstances as I've heard it) or minor trickery (Blizzard has been able to smooth out fluctuations in WoW's North American subscriber numbers with Chinese player figures, something that few other western game companies can do due to severely increased government restrictions on games in China.)

Put in this perspective, this mandate makes more sense. In general, new content attracts new people while fixing old content retains old people. Which catches you attention more: We added two new zones! or We've fixed four dozen bugs! For most people, it's the promise of new content they didn't experience before that draws them in. EA/Mythic likely wanted to increase the number of people to increase that peak and therefore have more players on the other side of the peak. I'm sure the comforting lie told was that they would fix the old content once they had hit their peak. Unfortunately for them, they hit that peak early and it's not been good news for them.

Now, obviously, this didn't go according to plan. But, it's not like someone intentionally made a stupid decision; the logic was supported by a lot of evidence. Turns out that the usual interpretation wasn't so good.

Comment: Re:Dogh qoH! (Score 1) 54 54

If I were a betting man, I would wager that in the next century or two the number of languages in common use will reduce to one or two hundred.

If I were a betting man, I'd take you up on that for several reasons despite your assertion that rapid transit and near instant communication will reduce barriers. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that jet travel is becoming much more expensive and likely less common depending on how how oil supplies do over the next century.)

1. Many languages are spoken in very low-technology places. Most of the languages are also highly local. You mention 6000 languages, but keep in mind their are only about 195 or so countries in the world. That means that some geographic areas have a lot of languages that haven't already been subsumed for one reason or another.

2. We've had jet engines and the internet for decades now, and barriers between people haven't exactly been obliterated. If anything, it's reinforced humanity's natural tendency to seek out others that look/think/act like they do. It's not language related, but let's take a look at U.S. politics: has the internet made conservatives and progressives understand each other's point of view? No, if anything it's encouraged even more separation as it's been easier to go to a website that matches your own personal biases and have them reinforced by others.

3. Language is part of cultural identity for a lot of people. You go tell a Québécois he can't speak French, or tell a Basque he can't speak Euskara. Even in the U.S. the idea of trying to standardize on English as an official language often has racist connotations.

Now, yes, languages are dying out and they're becoming extinct faster and faster. But, to think that we're going to go down to only 200 language in a century? I strongly disagree. If I were forced to guess how many languages would remain, I think a more realistic number, assuming we are starting with 6000, would be about 3000-4000. I think the vast majority of lost languages would be people simply dying out and their descendants learning a more common local language.

Now, I will agree that among the educated and well-connected, we will see a dominant language. Currently, that is English. My guess is that it will remain as such, and become the "lingua franca" of online discussion and international business. But, given that French was previously considered the diplomatic language and is no more, understand that the position of a language is fragile.

Some thoughts from a language geek.

Comment: Re:short story: (Score 1, Insightful) 973 973

As others have pointed out, it was the record producer's decision to make. Obviously the friend knew the value of free samples: he gave the CD to your son; I think he also knew that letting copies be made freely might not help him achieve his goals. I'll also point out that there are other ways to share music besides making a copy of a CD: lend the CD out, play the CD in a music player while friends are visiting, or even buy a copy of the CD for friends if it's available for sale. All legal, all ways to share the music without breaking the law in most jurisdictions. When I was a kid I recommended a lot of console games to my friends using these methods, back in the dark ages before emulators and widespread piracy on consoles.

You know, fans are great and I love all my fans, but it takes money to pay the rent and eat. Half a dozen *potential* fans who won't fork over cash even on a friend's recommendation aren't necessarily all that valuable, even if it is uncool to say "no, please don't freely distribute my work."

Comment: Not really all that novel (Score 1) 88 88

This seems to be following a trend where people think that adding "a game" to something mundane (usually related to soul-destroying work) can make things better. The recent example was Jesse Schell's talk at the 2010 DICE conference. There's also been a lot of people who have used the appeal of MMOs being able to gather a lot of people into one area to use these worlds as beds for research. There have been a lot of academic papers trying to glean economic insight based on the activity of players in different MMOs.

I think both these approaches forget that games and reality aren't the same. As a game designer, I would certainly argue that games can influence the world around us, but adding experience points doesn't make brushing my teeth more fun. Likewise, seeing how someone spends virtual currency that exists in endless supplies on an unending horde of enemies to slaughter doesn't necessarily give insight into how people would behave when dealing with "real" currency.

I expect that the "business" aspect to this game is something that the company founders used to stand out from the crowd of people who want to make MMOs. Given how the "business" aspects of Second Life have gone, and how much work making a game takes, I'd expect that the company is going to have a hard enough time focusing on making and maintaining the game.

Still, it's nice to see someone trying some that isn't just an underfunded WoW-clone for a change. ;)

Comment: Re:It's nice that they're honest. (Score 1) 174 174

Yeah, because I get my proprietary applications from tarballs hosted on mirror servers.

Er, wait....

No, this wasn't an attack based on access to the source, but it was an attack that took advantage of the nature of open source software community. The lesson here is that open source advocates need to get off their high horses and accept that vulnerabilities happen, even to open source projects.

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules. Corollary: Following the rules will not get the job done.