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Comment Re:How Is Obama Doing On Open Government? (Score 1) 285

This is a debate that will never be resolved. But for what it's worth, I think you're wrong, and voting for a republican or democrat is the sad but rational choice, given our electoral system.

To change it, you would need some structural assurance that people who vote for the third party are not in fact effectively voting for their opposition's two-party choice. As the system works now, you're putting a hope and a dream of how things should work ahead of how things actually work.

Comment Was this on a contingency basis? (Score 0) 475

If this was a class action suit on a contingency, then it's not really all that unfair or surprising. A lawyer might put in hundreds of hours of very real, hard work before even getting to trial, and then have to perform well during trial, and then finally have to leave the jury's decision up to chance to some extent.

It's a huge gamble for such a lawyer. It seems like they're assholes, but in honesty, if they took it on contingency, it's really not a bad situation for the client, and the lawyer is taking a bigger risk. If they lose, the client pays nothing and the lawyer is out of hundreds of hours of work. If they win, the client gets X dollars that they wouldn't have and the lawyer gets a big payoff.

Now, don't get me wrong-- for class actions where the settlement or judgment is more or less "a free voucher for a french fry," but the lawyers collect millions, that's slimy and awful.

Comment Re:Why stop there? (Score 1) 473

If it isn't obvious, for your analogy to be compelling, we'd have to agree that it's fundamentally proper to outlaw open public art spaces just in case someone posted something copyrighted.

Ignoring fair use, I find that idea presumptuous and, ab initio, biased in favor of copyright holders. Because it essentially says "if we can't predict who will do what, err on the side of protecting copyright holders" rather than "err on the side of free speech and expression."

Comment Re:So silly. Just remake Quake 3 already! (Score 3, Interesting) 100

"Remaking the game on fresh technology would be expensive; even with the current console generation... ...With the current online gaming scene dominated by Modern Warfare, Gears of War and Halo 3, it's pretty clear that tastes have moved away from the "bouncy deathmatch" model of the Quake series."

I don't really care about consoles--hand controllers will probably never compete with PCs in terms of raw playability compared to a mouse and keyboard. As to the expense, we're talking about massive savings using the existing game design. A graphical upgrade wouldn't be cheap, but I doubt it would be prohibitively expensive. Compare it to developing new games, or (more relevantly) developing and adapting an 11 year old game and paying for all the infrastructure to centralize the servers, etc in Quake Live.

People's "tastes" are not confined to one variety of gameplay. The games you listed are the current wave of mostly-console hit FPSes. They are slower games with heavier physics and a multiplayer emphasis on team strategy. They work best on a console because the slower, more cautious gameplay suits the less agile controls better. A PC with better controls fits best with a different type of FPS experience, and currently, I see no example that beats Quake 3 for that type of controls.

"despite the strong support it gets from part of the fanbase, Quake 3 perhaps had less impact as a game (as opposed to its engine, which powered umpteen other games over the next few years) than had been expected. With its multiplayer-only focus, its emphasis on the "pro-gamer" market and its lack of new ideas, it really marked the point where id lost their leadership in the fps market."

I really just don't understand this. Quake 3 Arena was seen as a resounding success and essentially set the standard for a multiplayer FPS to beat for many many years. I don't think it caused Id to lose "their leadership in the fps market," except for the fact that, as I would agree, they didn't update it fast enough and eventually people were wooed by the "new" games. In my experience, the community was large, easily accessible, and persistent. For years I played sporadically, and saw hundreds of servers each time I looked for a game. I almost never saw the same people, unless I frequented a particular server, and then only sporadically.

I also don't understand why "multiplayer focus" is an irreducible problem with the game. Just because people are playing single player console games now doesn't mean that is a superior game type. Quake 3 Arena simply is not Quake 3 Arena when you turn it into Gears of War or Halo 3.

"It's not really age that killed the game off from the tournament scene, but rather the fact that the audience shrank relatively quickly."

Quake 3 had an active, reliable, and large audience online for an extremely long time. It was released in 1999, and there were still many major tournaments with a broad and high level of players in 2006. I don't understand how that translates to "relatively quickly."

Comment Re:So silly. Just remake Quake 3 already! (Score 1) 100

Two points:

1. As kangsterizer said, Q4 is not close to Q3 in terms of gameplay. Q4 was based on the Doom 3 engine, which was hardly optimized for competitive play. There were silly limitations on the number of allowable players, the gameplay was hamstrung in numerous ways, and everything was much much slower.

2. If you don't realize how strategic a high level Q3 match can be, I urge you to play against some of the active top players simply spamming rockets and "splashing around" corners. You will be find it humbling and embarrassing. No, you need to exert carefully timed control over certain weapons, armor, and strategic locations that differ for each map, if you want to do well.

Comment So silly. Just remake Quake 3 already! (Score 5, Informative) 100

Problems with Quake Live compared to Quake 3 Arena:

1. No ability to mod or create/use new maps.
2. No ability to host your own servers or use unofficial servers.
3. Common free user mods now require a subscription.
4. The subscription is between 2 and 5 times what Quake 3 Arena costs, but for that price you only get 1 years' worth of gameplay instead of a lifetime's worth.

Quake 3 Arena is an awesome game that, in terms of sheer gameplay, still has no equal. If Id just re-made Quake 3 Arena with updated graphics, but the same gameplay, same customizability, same map-making and mod-ability, it would be a smash hit. The only reason people stopped playing it is because at some point it crossed the psychological boundary between "new" and "old." Tournaments stopped using it, and it faded into obscurity. But when no game has topped the visceral, breakneck pace, strategy and balance of the game, Id has a surefire hit on their hands just simply making the game look new and re-releasing it. Why they wasted all this time trying to monetize the old version is beyond me.

I'm fine with the free version, and I think the free version is a great idea. But when they start to charge for anything, it's incomprehensible why they're wasting their time trying to re-sell a dated game at a higher cost and lower value than the original.

Comment Re:Not a Replacement for Most Musicians (Score 1) 443

The iPad would have to replace a full computer not to be "useful" but to be "competitive." For all Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, my post was pointing out that for the same price, you can get a lot more than the "toy" featureset of the iPad.

For the same price, you could get a full OS with existing full applications, multitouch, multitasking, standardized and full sequencers and plugins.

Apple knows how to market, and your reaction--"but it could be so cool!"--is really just an effect of them capturing your imagination and leading you to the (false) conclusion that the iPad is the first and only competing device to deliver on those concepts. There are or will be Win/Linux multitouch devices for the same price. They might not look as sexy, they might not have as streamlined an "experience," but they will clearly give you much more real functionality.

For these reasons, if you're a musician and you're spending your money on an iPad, I think you're at best sacrificing functionality for beauty, and at worst making an irrational choice.

Comment Not a Replacement for Most Musicians (Score 3, Interesting) 443

I think if you're an experimental musician, or willing to use it as a gimmick, the iPad could be useful.

However, compared to a real musician's workflow, the iPad is just a toy. Yes, sooner or later someone will come up with a halfway decent sequencer app for the iPad. But it will always pale in comparison to the openness of real sequencers. There are just some things that will not work well on the iPad, without extreme effort. Just to name a few:

1. File-management to access and organize real samples in the proper uncompressed formats at the proper bitrates.
2. Ability to use standard plugins, like VST and VSTi.
3. Ability to multitask and interact with other software using standard protocols.
4. Easy integration with hardware using standardized ports

Yes, you'll get distracting fun music "toys," and little cheap DJ mixing apps, but the "pro" of having a music device with a little Apple logo on the back can only cover up so much "con" of having to re-invent every wheel that a music producer uses by restructuring your workflow and buying/downloading a new app to do everything you are used to doing on a modern full PC or Mac.

Finally, multitouch full-PC tablets have been around since before the iPad, and will now flood the market now that the iPod has legitimized multitouch tablet computing. That's the one benefit, in my mind, to the iPad, and notably it doesn't entail buying an iPad. It's much smarter for a musician to simply wait and buy one of the Win/Linux multitouch tablets that are now springing up, and have full access to your existing work environment. Certainly, because Apple strongly controls their hardware, you probably can't get OSX on a tablet. But the great thing is, even if you used a Mac exclusively before, you can switch to one of these Win/Linux systems with little issue, because both have full-fledged sequencers that aren't limited like the iPad in the ways I described above.

In short, the iPad is a great little toy, and I'm sure if you buy enough apps and spend enough time recreating your entire workflow, determined musicians can certainly use it to make music. But it's in spite of the iPad, not because of it.

Comment By acting, Google earned the right to point (Score 1) 249

It's not about what Microsoft thinks, it's about what they do. Google crossed the line from "misgivings" to "action." They have the moral right to point fingers because they took action. Whether you think their moral position is valid is a different question, but they certainly aren't hypocrites.

And, as a logical matter, even if they were hypocrites, they'd still have the right to make a moral argument. Their 'hypocritical' stance would have no bearing on the validity of their argument.

In any case, they're both walking the walk and talking the talk now--what's your problem exactly? That they changed their minds upon consideration, and when the situation worsened? I can't think of any stance more befitting a reasonable actor.

Comment Re:Let's Do Something (Score 1) 703

My letter. I spent plenty of time on it. It should make good virtual birdcage liner for all the virtual parrots at the White House:

"Mr. President,

I, like many, helped to vote you into office in 2008, because I believed you represented a new paradigm of politics. Certainly, in that election, many people projected their own hopes and values onto you, and no doubt to some extent I did as well. However, I have been extremely disappointed with your positions on copyright law issues so far.

Not only have you appointed numerous officials from the RIAA and MPAA, but you have recently commented that the US needs to support the extremely invasive ACTA treaty provisions. No doubt this position came after many discussions with your RIAA and MPAA appointees, and Vice President Biden. Mr. Biden has consistently voted in favor of expanding copyright protections, even when they detract from fair use, always in favor of industry interests.

Make no mistake, Mr. President--you are choosing to support big business at the expense of your constituency. Copyright is a necessary fact of life, but because it is a monopoly, the Constitution made it a pragmatic right, not an inalienable one-- it must be limited only to the extent it "promotes progress."

Copyright law now is far removed from that vision. Instead, the MPAA and RIAA lobby for tougher and tougher laws. They do not this to "promote progress," but rather to ensure they reap a greater and greater amount of consumer's money. Congress, and indeed, most former presidents, have also sided with the industry. Recently, however, the heretofore unrepresented public has organized and opposed or severely limited copyright legislation.

ACTA and similar treaties are a new strategy, meant to bypass the congressional process. They launder policy. In backroom sessions, outside of public comment or attention, these treaties propose extremely invasive and draconian measures that the RIAA and MPAA could only dream of. Measures such as a "3 strikes" internet disconnect rule, a rule that completely undermines the American judicial system and puts enormous power into private industry hands. And the public can only hope for a leak or other glimpse at these bills before they are enacted and passed onto Congress for a vote--a vote which all but must pass because now they are "treaty obligations."

The fact that you could support this abominable secret treaty is utterly disheartening. If you continue to stand by this position, you will not have my vote in 2012, no matter how progressive you are on other issues.



Comment For music-making, waiting for the Win7 iPad clone (Score 1) 756

I think it's only a matter of time until someone clones the basic multitouch functionality and iPad form factor in a Win7 system. That's basically all I'm waiting for, because I need that compatibility to run full featured music creation software. (Yes, Android and iPhone both have music making apps, but you have to jump through many hoops to even hope to integrate them into professional software, and even then they're still mostly just toys.)

While I like open source operating systems, and Android would be heads and tails above iPhone OS's closed environment, I really just want to be able to use the software I currently use on a laptop/desktop. And that means Win7 (though XP is fine).

The best thing about the iPad is that it provides a feature blueprint to manufacturers of all the current, bulky, poorly-designed Win7 tablets. Whether from the semi-knock-off factories in China or from more upstanding sources, hopefully within the year we will finally have a relatively powerful Win7 tablet with multitouch and a usable form factor. This tablet from MSI isn't it, but it is a great sign that PC/laptop manufacturers are eager to exploit the iPad hype and revisit innovation upon a previously dwindling market.

Comment Re:So when... (Score 2, Insightful) 235

Some points about Google's motivation to leave:

1. 30% market share in the incredibly anti-foreign-business Chinese market is not just a success, it's an incredible success. China typically favors local companies both above and below the board. Any foreign business trying to break into China would kill for that market share in their relevant market. Yahoo or Bing would kill for that share. The idea they would just leave because they weren't the leader is not simply hard to believe, it is completely irrational.

2. Whatever evidence we have, Google and the US government have not disclosed all of it. If some random nobody from China hacked into Google's servers, why would Google would pull out of China? I honestly can think of no benefit to Google. Market share failure argument aside (see #1), the only benefit they gain from pulling out is PR. That's pretty worthless in today's blasé world. On the contrary, if Google did indeed have evidence that the attacks originated from the Chinese government (and do we really doubt that have that capability? I imagine they have more than enough expertise to find the origin), then that would perfectly explain their decision to pull out. Occam's razor really points to the Chinese government directing these attacks.

Comment Re:We use(d) Gateway M285/M295s (Score 1) 176

I also have an M285, bought in a fit of irrational exuberance over tablet PCs. Basically, if you think of it like a laptop with some extra tablet support, it's great. But as a tablet device, it's pretty much a failure.

The main issue is, as mentioned, the digitizer. It's probably around 5 pixels inaccurate at its most extreme points, no matter how you calibrate it, and I went through about 4 pen replacements while under warranty and I never had one working for more than a few months. Currently I'm stuck with the last pen, which works for about 30 minutes after a reboot, and then starts jumping all over the screen and fails to register dragged clicks consistently (a problem when you're doing text recognition and it picks up a glitch as a "lift and reclick").

The other problem was Gateway support, which was somewhere between awful and terrible. They have American call centers, which you'd think is a benefit--but really, the scripted responses and unwillingness to really consider my specific problems were all the same as the worst foreign call centers. After spending about a year with them trying to work out whether my digitizer (in)accuracy problem was a design or manufacturing flaw, and them unable to give me any useful feedback or options whatsoever, I finally told them I wouldn't be buying anymore Gateway products.

I paid probably about $1700 for mine in 2006. If you can get one for a few hundred bucks nowadays, it's probably worth it. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

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