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User Journal

Journal: Dice employee Dawn Kawamoto's accepted Slashdot stories 4

Journal by guttentag

Dawn Kawamoto is a "Dice news" employee who "submits" articles that are accepted by Slashdot editors because she works for their parent company.

I'll be keeping track of how long Dice keeps posting stories by its own employees.

Ubuntu

Journal: The End of Ubuntu 4

Journal by ObsessiveMathsFreak

I have just upgraded my machine from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10 and everything is broken.

Everything.

It began with Unity. The horror. If there's a way of finding the main menu, I wasn't able to discover it. Menu bars have entirely disappeared from applications, to be replaced with the mac "menu on top" paradigm, a.k.a. one of the main reasons I've never used a Mac since 1994. You can't even log out of the bloody interface, let alone tweak it. Even the fonts are terrible.

It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to get rid of Unity and replace it with Gnome 3 and I can't say there's really much of a difference in terms of usability. All of my default Gnome 2 desktop settings have been blown out of the water. Completely. My panels and taskbars and lauchers are either deleted or are all over the place. Even if I wanted to change them back, everything is basically uncustomisable as far as I can tell. You can't move objects around in the taskbars. Yes that's right. You can't move objects around in the taskbars.

Is this what a desktop is supposed to feel like?

I feel like my computer window has been turned into a walled garden, like that on an iDink, which I am permitted to carress and fawn over, but have disallowed from making my own in any way. Will I have to download some kind of "App" from the "Ubuntu App Store" to gain back basic functionality? Do I have to dive into arcane settings and ppa just to get back the system which I had and liked only a few hours ago? Do I have to give up and choose Gnome 3, or move to XFCE, or move everything to the shell, or basically waste the next two weeks getting back what I had?

If that's the price of Ubuntu (and it is) then I am leaving.

Ubuntu and Gnome died the moment they allowed the UI designers to take over. The art students, the inveiglers, the smooth talkers, the wild eyed dreamers, the "visionaries", the people who didn't care what they were doing as long as it made them feel talented and superior. These are the people who have designed unusable,confusing systems and interfaces that delete years of carefully customised menus and discourage serious use of computers.

And as for the "boring" people, the programmers, the testers, the package maintainers, the people who listen to the community, those who put real thought and concern for users into their themes and interfaces, the people who don't go to conferences, who communicate with users directly via forum and newsgroup, who sit at their desks working to make distros better, often for no reward at all; what of them? Are they in charge in this brave new work? No. They are cast down and out, by a brigade of bullshitters too busy bopping on their iPods and blogging than in doing useful work.

If you let the wrong people into an organisation or a community, they can destroy it. Ubuntu and Gnome shows that this can happen to distros and open source projects just as easily and quickly as it has happened in the many industrys, countrys, and economies throughout the word. The destroyers will fail upwards, the blazing heat of their incompetence scortching all new pastures dry. The rest of us will be left behind to pick up the pieces and start again. In 5 years time, Ubuntu may be back on the path to being usable again, but I can't wait that long.

I'm thinking of starting off with Mint.

Republicans

Journal: James J. Lee - Discovery Channel Hostage Taker - Anti-Immigration Zealot 3

Journal by Concern

By now you've heard of that crazy Discovery Channel hostage taker James J. Lee and you're probably aware that his big plan was to hold hostages until Discovery put him in charge of their fall lineup. And he was not a big fan of Kate Plus 8.

As soon as I read he was anti-baby and concerned for the environment (let alone had written a manifesto), I wondered if the right wing hate machine would use this incident to make their enemies out to be homeless hostage-takers. It seemed like the kind of tragedy that would get the pulse racing for some of bloggers on the right-wing fringe at least. But would they really stoop that low? I kind of figured they would. Sure enough, many did:

...and so on. Naturally, you all represent the Republican Party and the Right Wing as a whole. My hat is off to you all (and you know who you are) for exposing how the right-wing mind works.

The crazy Mr. Lee was a right-winger himself. He is to the right of Jan Brewer on anti-immigration. He raged against "filthy anchor babies" in his manifesto:

Immigration: Programs must be developed to find solutions to stopping ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that. Find solutions to stopping it. Call for people in the world to develop solutions to stop it completely and permanently. Find solutions FOR these countries so they stop sending their breeding populations to the US and the world to seek jobs and therefore breed more unwanted pollution babies. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THEM TO STOP THEIR HUMAN GROWTH AND THE EXPORTATION OF THAT DISGUSTING FILTH! (The first world is feeding the population growth of the Third World and those human families are going to where the food is! They must stop procreating new humans looking for nonexistant jobs!)

You see how the game works? You can just pick one part of the crazy and ignore the other. :) It's so easy a child could do it.

Witness the flawless reasoning that powered the 8 Bush years, the greatest economic and military era in American History:

User Journal

Journal: Acorn - Framed 1

Journal by Concern

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/04/07/rachel_maddow_acorn_tapes/index.html

Any responses from the Conservative side of the house?

Breitbart concocting a video hoax, that's ordinary enough. But Fox News picking it up and running with it - that looks like one of the biggest stories of the year to me.

Litmus test on whether we have any hope as a nation: will the hoax become a bigger story than Acorn itself? Or does this trick now work, even when exposed?

User Journal

Journal: Political Hate Speech 1

Journal by Concern

Remember this gem?

The kind of rhetoric you hear from [Democratic presidential candidates] ... on either side of the aisle, Ronald Reagan never said Jimmy Carter couldn't find countries in his own hemisphere. Walter Mondale never said that President Reagan was a miserable failure. When Bill Clinton ran against President Bush, he didn't compare him to Saddam Hussein or the Taliban. And when Bob Dole ran against President Clinton, he didn't say that he was an absolute phony or a liar. The kind of words we're hearing now from the Democratic candidates go beyond political debate. This is political hate speech. -Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee chair

A "miserable failure"? Seriously? phony? liar?? That's hate speech? You didn't even use the n-word. Or compare anyone to Lenin. Or Stalin. Or Hitler. Or call a black man a racist.

Oh Ed, why have you hung up your political hate speech sword? The GOP was already comparing liberals to Al Qaeda.

For that matter, why has the New York Times let this go? They just published a whole article about hateful GOP speech without, apparently, recognizing the irony that for about 5 minutes in 2003, the GOP had the audacity to coin the phrase "Political Hate Speech." You know, when they were criticized in whatever way. Like being called a "phony." Or, you know, passing off their Iraq war agenda as a response to 9/11.

Then about a year later, they stopped using the trick, because they were busy ramping up the biggest political hate speech machine ever created in modern America. Doing both at once might, you know, be awkward. Today, Republican hate speech is now an industry. Republican party experts, in think tanks and PR agencies, create huge volumes of hate speech daily and distribute it via a vast network of radio and television shows, including an entire cable channel devoted to Republican propaganda that calls itself a 24/7 news network. At their darkest and most juvenile, the democratic critics of GWB couldn't even fantasize something so ambitious. They're still playing politics as they were played in 1980, which is part of why they are sucking so badly.

What's especially funny and ironic is that the GOP hate speech has risen to the level where it can actually be objectively compared to fascism.

http://cursor.org/stories/fascismxiv.php
http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009083205/fascist-america-are-we-there-yet
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/spring/rage-on-the-right
http://whiterevolution.com/?p=1661

You see, if your accusations of fascism are part of an organized and deliberate campaign to stir up violence and silence dissent, so you can subvert the democratic process and foster a corporatist theocracy, you might actually be a fascist. And then if someone called you that... well, it might just be the truth. As opposed to, you know, hate speech. :)

Since Republicans are the party of Hypocrisy, this shouldn't be too big a leap to make. Fox News is Fair and Balanced. Budget Reconciliation is a violent coup that we refer to as the Nuclear Option. The GOP is outraged about budget deficits. And so forth. Calling their opponents fascists and accusing them of hate speech fits the pattern pretty well.

Democrats

Journal: Republican Scoreboard, March 2010 1

Journal by Concern

So guys, 2 justices and a 5-4 conservative supreme court. Nice job. So what did this get you?

Abortion is still legal. But campaign finance reform is now unconstitutional. Domestic and foreign companies can now spend unlimited money in elections.

Is this what you signed on for?

We should commiserate down at the bar. Have a contest on who's more pissed at their party.

Media

Journal: Sarah Palin's Media Strategy - Facebook and Twitter 1

Journal by Concern

Politico is running a story on how well Sarah Palin's media strategy is working.

In brief, that strategy seems to be:

  • Avoid The Press
  • Communicate Through Posting Online

While I am validated that Mrs. Palin has finally adopted my strategy, and pleased that the "mainstream media" are reporting on its effectiveness, I am a little troubled that Politico seems to miss the main benefits.

Allow me to break it down:

  • Take hours to write only a few sentences - but boy are they beautiful!
  • Let your team of minions copy edit after you finish - no more embarrassing factual or spelling mistakes!
  • Never answering questions means never not knowing the answer!

Obviously, the superiority of this method cannot be in doubt. It seems certain that this trend will grow. I would not be surprised if in 10 years no American politician will even show their face in public.

PC Games (Games)

Journal: NAT is the Fucking Devil 3

Journal by ObsessiveMathsFreak

I need a place to have a full on rant about this. My Slashdot Journal is as good as any.

Is it so much to ask, that in 2009, the video game industry as a whole would have figured some way around the problem of home routers and getting devices behind them to communicate with devices behind other home routers. Yes, I know, it's not a trivial issue. WAN/LAN IPs, DNS, End to end connectivity, Ports, TCP, UDP, protocols and connections, planes trains and automobiles. Yes, it's not an easy thing to accomplish.

But you've had ten fucking years!!! Or as near as makes no difference.

How many times have I had to reset, reconfigure and reinstall routers? How many times have I had to click through those infuriating HTML configuration pages, one form at a time, in an effort to add, port by port, protocol by protocol, game by game, each and every little irritating requirement just to get the fucking game I bought to play online like Mechwarrior 2 did flawlessly back in 1997!?!?!?!?

I've cracked. I admit it. The final straw was this latest gem from Team Fortress 2, a game I don't even play(I basically manage the router for 5 people). I had to set up port forwarding and QoS (Whatever the fuck that is) just to let the gods damned game to play properly.

  • UDP 27000 to 27015 inclusive (Game client traffic)
  • UDP 27015 to 27030 inclusive (Typically Matchmaking and HLTV)
  • TCP 27020 to 27050 inclusive (Steam downloads)
  • TCP 27015 (SRCDS Rcon port)

61 ports. Sixty One ports. And that's just for the forwarding, never mind the QoS malarky. Yeah, Fuck you too Valve. And want to know the best part? It's a server based game!! Why in fuck's name do I need to do any of this?! Oh give me lag any day of the week.

But to be fair, it's not just Value. Far, far from it. It's not even PC developers, each mandating their own custom crafted set of ports and protocols to enable online play behind a router. No, consoles too have gotten in on the game. Take these gems required for the Playstation Network.

  • TCP Ports: 80, 443, 5223
  • UDP Ports: 3478, 3479, 3658

TCP port 80. Otherwise known as the HTTP port. Great. And what's this? TCP 443. You mean the HTTPS port. Great choice guys. Yeah, thanks for that. I'll forward those right away.

Come on Microsoft. You've been computing specialists for over 30 years. What's needed to run Xbox live behind a router?

  • TCP Ports: 80, 53, 3074
  • UDP Ports: 88, 53, 3074

Great classy. I lover that overlap with PSN on the Port 80 thing. Can't have them hogging HTTP entirely, especially since you control the DNS ports now. Awesome. Complete clusterfuck. Why doesn't one of you mandate port 22 altogether, so my entire network will be totally inaccessible from outside for anyone not using a game's console.

Oh well, I guess at least with consoles you only have to forward one set of ports for all games right... right?

In order to play GTA IV via the PS3 network you will need to open the following ports on your router:

  • UDP ports: 6672, 28900
  • TCP ports: 8000-8001, 27900, 28900

AAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! I'm not a network administrator! I don't have any certs from Cisco!! No! I can't use IPTABLES!! How would I get Linux onto the router in the first place?! What do you want?! Blood?!?! I just want to play games!!!

And don't talk to me about UPnP! Just don't. As far as I can tell, the Useless, Painful 'n Pointless protocol's only meaningful function is to establish connections between devices which confirm UPnP is available, but then don't work anyway. I've never once managed to get a single game to work using it. It has never worked and it will never work. Most companies don't even mention it. They skip straight to port forwarding, gleefully rolling off their own in house list of obnoxious ports.

You know what this is like? It's like every video game publisher and company is trying to stake it's claim to ranges of ports and protocols. By insisting on their own original, capricious and dogmatic set of connection requirements, it's as though Sony, Microsoft, EA, Valve and all the rest are trying to enforce by fiat what would normally require an RFC to be made official. Namely, the assignment of a port. Companies are literally carving out their own space on what is supposed to be a no ownership zone. And trust those armchair experts at Wikipedia, to stick these turf claims in a Registered Ports List. "Oh but, the unregisted ones are in blue OMF". FUCK YOU! There are only 65000 ports, which is too few to risk being lost to this bullshit.

So that's why I think this NAT business hasn't been resolved. Moving the video game industry to a solid standard whereby games automatically established connections(and hang the technical difficulties), would mean that companies would have to give up their little slice of that very relatively small pie of 65000 port numbers. These are corporations we're talking about, and giving up something that big, that central to the functioning of the entire internet, even if it's just a squatters claim, is not a step any of them are willing to take.

So, in my opinion, we're going to be stuck with this NAT port forwarding bullshit for quite some time yet. I fully expect more and more games to lay claim to ever larger pastures of unsettled port space, and continue to do so until the whole spectrum is so fully overloaded that people's routers or patience simply snap under the strain. Mine certainly has.

Mercifully, my ISP seems to allow PPPoE over a router, which thankfully the PS3 and Xbox360 both support. True, it exposes them to the elements in a way having them behind a router would not, but I really don't care any more. NAT is the fucking devil, and I've had enough of having my crank yanked as a pawn in this port squatting farce, so it's a WAN IP for me.

At least until all the IPv4 address run out and I have to set up all this shit again of IPv6 addresses.

User Journal

Journal: Credit-worthiness and Representative Government

Journal by Concern

It's common knowledge that our government borrows money on a staggering, fantastic scale. And that, in 2009 alone, we are borrowing and spending on a scale not contemplated outside of global wars gone by.

As the U.S. economy as we know it ends, foreign holders of American debt are beginning to make their unhappiness known, and this is getting a lot of press.

But the real story of American debt, and the credit-worthiness of our government, is not a foreign vs. domestic issue. It has to do with the legitimacy of the U.S. government itself.

The American public at large has absolutely no conception of what has just happened to them. To put it simply, one of the the largest mass transfers of wealth in the first world has just occurred - from ordinary taxpayers to a few ultra-wealthy individuals, both foreign and domestic.

Although the paperwork for this is done and filed safely away, it is far from clear to me that it will stand. When all the hand-waving and bullshit is over, eventually American voters will begin to wonder why they pay so much in taxes and get so little. The answer will be that we are paying a lot of our taxes directly to a group of rich individuals, instead of using them to perform services.

This is the magic of "too big to fail" and "government borrowing." Sleight of hand. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. That giant mountain of money you're giving away? It is merely your interest payments. Your bailout funds. You must pay them. The government's debt obligations are sacred. The economy might collapse. Soldiers and schools and police and EMTs come later. Healthcare? You cannot afford healthcare. You must pay the rich people first. After all - you borrowed their money. Or, you needed them to stay in business, so they wouldn't lay you off.

You don't remember agreeing to this? You feel it's unfair? Too bad. You have a Sacred Contract. "There is no way out of it."

Or is there?

Eventually, if it becomes bad enough, some firebrand politician will run on the platform of abrogating certain loans. Others might find themselves losing to competitors who promise prosecution of those responsible for that epic wealth transfer. Senators and presidential hopefuls might see the poll numbers jump for those who promise to try to reclaim some of that vast stolen treasure.

It is vast. Maybe you didn't look at that chart earlier. Look, to see what the stakes are.

There is much theater around the sacredness of contracts. Geithner, for instance, suggested that it was "legally difficult" to limit executive pay in companies we bailed out because those executives have "contracts" and they have to be honored.

Only, there are no contracts anymore. No rules at all, really. Those same executives should get no bonuses, no private jets, because they let their companies fail. They should get nothing, because there should be no company left to pay them. Those were the rules.

We could have refused to bail out any company unless their executives agreed to end their old contracts (which were about to be worthless) in exchange for the government's aid. We could have set any terms we liked.

We did not.

You may use your own common sense to guess why.

So to recap: contracts are only as good as the government that enforces them. Democratic governments are only as good as their poll numbers.

The model here is that of the banana republic. The old Shah of Iran may have given British Petroleum a fantastically good deal on drilling rights back in the day, at the expense of the people of Iran. This, after all, is why he was installed. But the value of the lease was tenuous - because the lease was not with the Iranian people. It was with a government that they loathed, and which was unstable. Eventually (despite ruthless and horrifically violent attempts to stay in power), the Shah was deposed. Iran's oil industry was nationalized. 100% of its profits now line the pockets of Iranian, rather than foreign, power brokers.

Revolutionary governments do this all the time. They abrogate contracts, nationalize ("steal") factories, ports, ships, bank accounts, etc. They jail or torture or behead those who formerly sat on boards or at the heads of courtrooms or in the hearts of command bunkers. One needs only to claim that this is in the interest of law and order. It becomes legitimate when people believe it is.

Revolutions are violent in countries that are undemocratic. In countries like America we have them all the time, in voting booths instead. The idea that we might suddenly no longer feel obligated to pay our debts, or that we might suddenly view the law in such a way that many formerly powerful Americans become criminals, is not at all so far-fetched.

Should the public come to understand that their indebtedness is part of a criminal enterprise, the purpose of which is stealing tax money, they will simply treat US bonds like the chits of busted mafia bookies. Bailout cash will become stolen goods. Politicians, Captains of finance industry, may find themselves discussing RICO with their lawyers from prison.

All just from a shift in perspective. Watchers of public perspective can tell you, bigger shifts have occurred. When they start, they spread like brushfire.

The concept of using the taxes and indebtedness of voters to enrich already rich people may seem unassailable in the U.S. today. But we have never pushed it so far before. There are certainly limits. History tells us that when we cross those limits, all the rules will change. No paperwork, no matter how beautifully crafted, holds its value when enough voters (and their representatives) deem otherwise.

If I were holding bonds issued by the U.S. government, I might start thinking extremely hard about who holds the other end of that debt. The American taxpayer? Or a political paradigm that may not be long for the world?

Businesses

Journal: Linux Eee... set up to fail?

Journal by jejones

OK.... so Best Buy had a deal on an Eee 900A I couldn't refuse. (They had other Eees there, but they were contaminated with Windows.) I bought one and took it home...only to find that after the preinstalled Xandros grabbed the various (large) updates available, all but 165 MB of the 4 GB SSD was used up, and the install process for the packages soon ate the rest of it. The way it's set up to use UnionFS so as to allow easy restoration to its initial state, combined with that tiny SSD, renders it unusable.

Now, I knew enough to Google around and find Ubuntu Eee, which is now chugging along happily on my Eee with the better part of a gigabyte free. What about Joe User, who takes his shiny new netbook home only to find it immediately unusable? Or worse yet, gives it to Joe User Jr. whose delight is immediately crushed when he first turns it on and finds it can't even make it past updating itself, much less let him do something useful or fun? Hell of a Christmas, huh?

Of course, Joe User will stomp back to Best Buy, and the salesman will steer him towards a larger, more expensive model... with Windows... and assure him that, by golly, he can get some real work done on this baby!

ASUS has been noted in the tech press and blogosphere as saying "Yeah, consumers are returning netbooks preloaded with Linux in droves." If they're putting out systems like this that give a horrible, you should excuse the expression, out of the box experience--not the fault of Linux, but because they put such a tiny SSD on it that it immediately fills and makes the system unusable--I have to wonder, IS ASUS DOING THIS ON PURPOSE? Then they can say "Well, gee, we offered Linux, and people hated it!" and go back to pushing Windows in the Evil Empire's good graces.

User Journal

Journal: Capitalism for the Poor, Socialism for the Rich 1

Journal by Concern

Today Fannie and Freddie are being bailed out. A Sunday, no less. I can hear the chuckling all the way from Greenwich CT, and the D.C. and Dallas suburbs.

I quote the associated press, in wondering why these two titans of mortgage-backed securities have come to need help from you, the taxpayer:

"How could you look at an enormous rise in prices and not think there was a potential for them to fall?" said Christopher Thornberg, a principal with Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.

Gee, good question Yogi. How about because it's actually kind of fun to take risks when there is no actual downside?

Apparently, everybody knew the government was going to bail them out if they ever got in trouble.

Pretty good racket. How can I get in? LOL.

I can't come here and argue that we shouldn't bail them out. Only that they never should have existed in the first place.

Did they really do something the market couldn't have done for itself? And suppose they really did. Since it was apparently an open secret all along that they represented the US Treasury, why were they not simply wholly a part of the government? You know, in good times and in bad?

Ah, but if they were a government agency, then those guys in Greenwich CT, and in VA and TX would have to find a different job, rather than robbing on your tax money (both paid and prospective).

But lest you all think I'm just here to bring everyone down, I do have one good suggestion. Why don't we all write to our senators and ask them how long it will be before the people involved in both running and regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be in prison?

I mean, I assume even though they stole billions of dollars from us, rather than a car stereo, they're still thieves, right? And I think they haven't even gone into hiding yet.

I just want to try to instill some discipline lest we have an even wilder, more unruly orgy of treasury looting.

PlayStation (Games)

Journal: The Trouble with PC Ports 1

Journal by ObsessiveMathsFreak

I wrote a journal entry two years back. I had recently bought Oblivion and had spent 10 hours try to get it to simply run, and the post basically outlined how PC games require far too much effort from the user to simply run, let alone become playable. This post can be regarded as a followup.

I ended up liking Oblivion, so much so that I bought the Game of the Year edition for the PS3. The graphics were a lot better, and there were no control issues or installation worries. Then I ran into the, effectively show stopping, PS3 Vampire Cure Bug, after probably 50+ hours of play. Bethesda apparently have no intention of ever patching or fixing this bug. I can safely say that if I had know that this bug was present, I would never have bough the game.

As I see it, PC game makers like Bethesda, simply are not going to make it in the current generation of games. Show stopping bugs with no official efferot to patch them might be acceptable in PC gaming, but console gaming has historically had a much higher standard when it comes to major bugs and glitches. Even in the days of the PS2, if a game crashed, it was quite a shock, and a major black mark on your opinion of the game. Show stopping bugs with no workaround, are to my memory completely unheard of.

Say what you will, but up until effectively two years ago, the first version of your console game was going to be the last. Companies had no recourse whatsoever apart from a total recall if they needed to change so much as one bit in the game binary. Under those conditions, a very high level of quality was sought and in fact was achieved in the vast majority of cases. Console gamers have spent the last 20+ years playing games that largely did not crash, did not glitch(obtusely), and did not have show stopping bugs. PC gamers have spent the last 20+ years trying, and failing, to get games not to do any of these things.

My point is that console gamers have come to expect a certain level of quality and professionalism, and console game makers have responded accordingly. PC gamers have come to expect patches, hotfixes and workarounds, and PC game makers have become complacent when it comes to errors, and contemptuous towards their users. This does not bode well for "establishment" PC game makers trying to break into the console market. I believe they are, one by one, doomed to fail in this regard.

Unreal Tournament 3 crashes all over the place on PS3. Oblivion:GOTY has character which when spoken to display "I HAVE NO GREETING" default errors. Call of Duty 4's level and art design is aesthetically appalling. The best titles PC gaming has to offer typically end up a second or third rate titles when it comes to console gaming. A lot of this has to do with control schemes. RTS titles and games like the Sims are fundamentally unsuited to a console controller. But it also has to do with the overall quality of PC titles which when compared to console titles, simply don't meet the grade.

It works both ways. Titles among the best that console gaming has to offer typically do not fare well when ported to PCs. Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid 2, Halo. However, this is likely due to control and framerate issues, and with PC gamepads becoming more common(Xbox 360 pad plug and play in Windows), and graphics cards improving, these issues alleviated somewhat.

However, PC games makers have a much larger step to overcome if they want to break the console market. They need to overcome a culture of complacency. A culture that allows games to be released that will not work without a patch. The culture that allows a game to be shipped with known bugs still present. The culture that thinks graphics improvement means simply increasing texture rates and bloom and has no time for aesthetic design. The culture that essentially holds technical metrics in awe and game players in contempt. It is a culture driven in large part by the backing of PC hardware manufacturers and not the feedback of gamers.

I was looking forward to Fallout 3. But I will no longer be buying it when it arrives. I have been burned quite badly by Bethesda already, and I have no reason to believe that they will change their ways. It's a similar situation with many PC gamer companies. They are steeped in a culture that simply will not work in the console world. I expect many to simply stop releasing console ports in the years ahead, as it becomes clear that console gamers will not tolerate half finished or unsupported products.

There's something to be said for PC gaming. But professionalism among PC game makers is not it.

User Journal

Journal: Oh, how far we've come

Journal by Concern

Well, it's been a fun year and a half since I got sucked into becoming a corporate executive again and lost most of my remaining time to post on slashdot. But of course the train keeps on a'rollin. American neoconservative economists and stock market pundits must be at least slightly chagrined at the relative returns on a French checking account versus US equities or bonds. Gold is topping $900 per ounce. The price of oil is no longer funny either. Our dalliance with right-wing cleptonomics has turned out badly enough that we've already had one run on a major American bank, despite a desperately massive federal campaign to inject liquidity. The AP wire is running stories on a new wave of survivalists.

Eventually, even for the most fanatical, there must be a moment of fear, a potential even of reckoning.

Even treading on our sleepy electorate, the GOP has stumbled on the last three off-season elections, including the most recent, in that notoriously red House district. And I just know there are enough old school racists left in the GOP to feel some supernatural anguish at the peril of the possible defeat of their presidential candidate by an African American.

But I was especially moved to retrospection because today the AP is carrying a story about Scott McClellan - press secretary to President Bush of so many recent months. I can only imagine the agony it is causing right now, from think-tanks to Young Republican clubhouses across the nation.

--

Exposing Washington's spinning permanent campaign

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent Wed May 28, 5:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON - In a White House full of Bush loyalists, none was more loyal than Scott McClellan, the bland press secretary who spread the company line for all the government to follow each day. His word, it turns out, was worthless, his confessional memoir a glimpse into Washington's world of spin and even outright deception.

Instead of effective government, Americans were subjected to a "permanent campaign" that was "all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage," McClellan writes in a book stunning for its harsh criticism of Bush. "Presidential initiatives from health care programs to foreign invasions are regularly devised, named, timed and launched with one eye (or both eyes) on the electoral calendar."

The spokesman's book is called "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

Governing via endless campaigning is not a new phenomenon, but it accelerated markedly during the tumultuous Clinton White House and then the war-shaken years of the Bush administration. Bush strategist Karl Rove had a strong hand in both politics and governing as overseer of key offices, including not only openly political affairs and long-range strategic planning but as liaison for intergovernmental affairs, focusing on state and local officials.

Bush's presidency "wandered and remained so far off course by excessively embracing the permanent campaign and its tactics," McClellan writes. He says Bush relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war.

That's about right, says Brookings Institution political analyst Thomas Mann, co-author of a book entitled "The Permanent Campaign."

"It was such a hyped-up effort to frame the problem and the choices in a way that really didn't do justice to the complexity of the arguments, the intelligence," Mann said in an interview. Though all presidents try to "control the message," he said, "it was really a way of preventing that discussion. It just had enormously harmful consequences. I think they carried it to a level not heretofore seen."

Each day, underscoring the daily blend of politics and government, Bush and his administration make an extraordinary effort to control information and make sure the White House message is spread across the government and beyond. The line for officials to follow is set at early-morning senior staff meetings at the White House, then transmitted in e-mails, conference calls, faxes and meetings. The loop extends to Capitol Hill where lawmakers get the administration talking points. So do friendly interest groups and others.

The aim is to get them all to say the same thing, unwavering from the administration line. Other administrations have tried to do the same thing, but none has been as disciplined as the Bush White House.

It starts at the top.

McClellan recounts how Bush, as governor of Texas, spelled out his approach about the press at their very first meeting in 1998. He said Bush "mentioned some of his expectations for his spokespeople -- the importance of staying on message; the need to talk about what you're for, rather than what you are against; how he liked to make the big news on his own time frame and terms without his spokespeople getting out in front of him, and, finally, making sure that public statements were coordinated internally so that everyone is always on the same page and there are few surprises."

In September 2002, Bush's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, ran afoul of the president's rules by saying the cost of a possible war with Iraq could be somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion. Bush was irritated and made sure that Lindsey was told his comments were unacceptable. "Lindsey had violated the first rule of the disciplined, on-message Bush White House: don't make news unless you're authorized to do so," McClellan wrote.

Within four months, Lindsey was gone, resigning as part of a reshaping of Bush's economic team.

While message control has been part of many administrations, Mann said that, "They were just tougher and more disciplined about it than anyone else had been."

As spokesman, McClellan ardently defended Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the conduct of his presidency over the course of nearly 300 briefings in two years and 10 months. Now, two years after leaving the White House and eager to make money on his book, McClellan concludes Bush turned away from candor and honesty and misled the country about the reasons for going to war.

It wasn't about Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction, McClellan writes. It was Bush's fervor to transform the Middle East through the spread of democracy. "The Iraq war was not necessary," writes McClellan, who never hinted at any doubts or questioned his talking points when he was press secretary.

McClellan writes that Bush and his team sold the Iraq war by means of a "political propaganda campaign" in which contradictory evidence was ignored or discarded, caveats or qualifications to arguments were downplayed or dropped and "a dubious al-Qaida connection to Iraq was played up.

"We were more focused on creating a sense of gravity and urgency about the threat from Saddam Hussein than governing on the basis of the truths of the situation," McClellan wrote.

McClellan is not the first presidential spokesman to write a tell-all book, but his is certainly the harshest, at least in recent memory. He says his words as press secretary were sincere but he has come to realize that "some of them were badly misguided. ... I've tried to come to grips with some of the truths that life inside the White House bubble obscured."

White House colleagues were stunned, but not lacking for the day's response. "We are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew," said Dana Perino, the current press secretary who was first hired by McClellan as a deputy.

Later in the day, she relayed the reaction of Bush himself: "He's puzzled, he doesn't recognize this as the Scott McClellan that he hired and confided in and worked with for so many years."

United States

Journal: New federal "security" regs on hundreds of common chemicals 3

Journal by Ungrounded Lightning

Big brother is at it again. The Department of Homeland Security is issuing new regulations requiring reporting on, and guarding of, hundreds of common chemicals with "terrorist applications" (such as propane, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, ...). This impacts farms, universities, industries from pool supplies to medicine to janitorial, small business, startups, and the general public.

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