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Journal Journal: Well... it's almost New Year's Day...

And with it, we bid farewell to a VERY boisterous 2005. Man, it's been hard to keep up with some of the craziness that happened over the last year. And in no particular order, here are some of the items I've watched over the past year.

SCO vs IBM heating up, and IBM backing SCO into a major corner. This lawsuit is pretty much guaranteed to end in IBM's favor early in 2006. SCO submitted their evidence quietly, but given that they've not found any infringing code, it's likely to be nothing. And Novell and Red Hat cases are still waiting in the wings...

Microsoft was placed under some heavy fire, and took a couple of major hits. With judgements against them from South Korea and the EU, MS is starting to look a little battle weary. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come for the software giant.

Epic Games made a coup d'etat with their Unreal 3 engine when Webzen purchased rights to the engine for their upcoming MMORPG, Huxley. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is the game I'm waiting for. This will be one of the first new MMO's to use a FPS graphics engine, and it's a major score for Epic, who are reeling a little from the problems in their previous three engine releases. (Unreal 1 [UT99], 2 [UT2003] and 2.5 [UT2004])

RIAA came out swinging against piracy and was promptly served a stunning uppercut by three states. New York, Texas and California have all launched class action suits against Sony for the DRM fiasco. As well, Warner Music is under assault for alleged price fixing. And no one can forget all of the John Doe lawsuits. It's definitely not going to be a Happy New Year if you're part of RIAA.

George Bush was getting slammed for the Iraq war. Yes, the end may have justified the means to a degree, but a little more honesty goes a lot further in the peoples' minds. Smoke and mirrors can get you what you want in the short term, but the long term damage may hurt the Republicans when the next Presidential election comes around.

There's plenty of other major happenings, but time and space are not infinite. Here's to what will likely be a very interesting 2006.

Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: It's the most depressing time of the year... 2

Yes, it's that time... time when all the jingles, carols and supercharged commercial tripe come out in ultrabright, flashing neon colors.

Most people will be merrily visiting family and friends this holiday season. For those of us who won't have significant others or accessible family, this time of year is a painful one.

I've not had someone special to spend Christmas with for a few years now, and this will be the first one that I'm not able to work on Christmas Day. That's going to hurt... every other year I was at least able to mitigate that absolute emptiness I feel by working my ass off, with my friends at work. Not this time. The phone queue is closed on Sundays, which the 25th falls on this year.

I'd rather be dead than spend Christmas alone...
The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: The Changing Face of Tech Support

Up until about 2 years ago, technical support for any company was the big money sinkhole. Millions of dollars are spent each year on providing support for the products companies make, and it never generates revenue. Until now.

Some major OEM's have started to try and merge technical support and sales in order to limit the losses of their tech departments. Out of warranty support charges are also increasing to try and recover partial costs to place a technical agent on the phone.

Even Dell has started to charge for OOW support, surprisingly. For the longest time, Dell was one of the few OEMs that did not charge their customers for OOW tech support. Even if the they outsourced their support overseas, like just about every other major manufacturer, it was still a free service for their customers.

No longer.

Some companies have taken to having technical agents attempt to sell products and services while performing their support duties. Sometimes this generates more friction than would have appeared had there been no pressure to sell. Some "technical support" reps have also abandoned support in favor of selling.

I think it's time companies went back to the ways of providing products that have longevity, rather than pushing for the sale. Longer lasting products = fewer support calls = lower support costs. True, revenues are typically lower, but customer retention is usually higher, and customers would likely be more open to upgrading when they know they are getting a well-built product than one that will likely fail shortly after the warranty ends.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal Journal: UT2007

Damn it, I hope Epic gets UT2007 right and makes both the competitive and casual gamers happy at the same time. They blew it large with 2k3 and 2k4, and the UT community knows it, and Epic admits it. Those problems, however, were engine related, not gameplay, imho. Salvation of Epic's threadbare rep with the UTx community will come if they can finally bridge the gap between the competitive gamer's needs and the casual gamer's needs. It'll be a tightrope walk for them, and they know it all too well.

I just hope it doesn't blow too many chunks. o_O

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