Last week, the US government announced that DVDs and Blu-rays will all now have two more unskippable piracy warnings, of ten seconds each. As quoted in Ars Technica, the director of Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton says there’s a valid and noble purpose to this. ”Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity; public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort.” So this isn’t to directly combat piracy, but to educate the rest of us calmly and dutifully buying this product. Guess what I think of this.
Yesterday, President Obama said in an interview with ABC News that he thinks “same sex couples should be able to marry.” While this statement may seem to be as obvious as saying “the sky is blue” or “the sun rises in the east,” it nonetheless stands out because it hasn’t been said by an American president before. Obama continued to explain why it’s taken so long for him to come up with this truth we otherwise hold to be self-evident. He contextualized the idea by generation, saying that his children’s friends have same-sex parents, and it wouldn’t dawn on them that they would be treated any differently. This is interesting, since it provides a ready glide-path to allow anti-gay marriage people to change their minds gracefully. As in actually change their minds. This seems to be a practical approach. I happen to disagree.
XBLA, PSN, and Indie developers, that ship has sailed. Your work was voraciously consumed and heroically touted by a handful of fanatics who truly, deeply appreciated your artistic and emotional contribution. It looked promising with some early successes trending up. But then it flattened. it never got big. It stayed niche. And then it dipped. Part of the issue is that the console that does everything never even admitted on television that it had an App Store. Oops. But also, even if everyone who connected their consoles downloaded your games, the business model in operation would rarely get you a Tesla. Well, maybe one of you. But in general, people’s attention went to the other big console that nobody calls a console. But don’t hate, just think different. Behold your silver bullet, your red pill, your blue ocean – the magical iPad. Or Android tablet device.
This isn’t a full article. It’s not even my idea. It’s a co-worker’s idea. Plus it’s about taxes. Do you really want me to take another whack at rewriting the tax code? Probably not. But holy crap. This is good. The IRS should buy one copy of TurboTax, load in our taxes, run a preliminary tax filing, and then let us log in online and tweak as we see fit.
I spend a lot of time thinking about games that leverage location-based services (LBS). I’ve worked at companies emphasizing LBS development, and I when I joined those companies, LBS was considered a wide open space for development. At the time, there was a lot of hype around the space, but folks now folks generally view location-based gaming as a failed experiment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had conversations with people that begin with the assertion that location-based gaming just doesn’t work.
You know what I say? Horsepucky. Prepare for an education, because I’m throwing down the guantlet and going aggro.
First, EA BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 had an expanded gay plot line, causing gamers to give the game a 38 user rating on Metacritic, a game the actual critics gave an 89. Then the same studio got hit by a letter-writing campaign from the Florida Family Association for including gay characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA and Lucasfilm responded with a Yoda-endorsed counter-campaign on Allout.org. The cynics among us might first think this is really a reaction to EA’s disastrous PR snafu in being named by the Consumerist as the worst company in the world. As far as I can tell, that result had more to do with a clunky debut of Origin, and people getting upset it’s not Amazon. EA’s PR had a nice bit of perspective about that, commenting that BP, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton must have been glad they weren’t nominated. Granted, EA can’t say too much, or they come off a little sour grapes. Well, I don’t work there anymore, and I can say pretty much what I want now. And here’s what I think of all this.
Bicyclists, pick a ruleset. Or get off my lawn. Seriously. This has bothered me for the decade and a half that I’ve lived in San Francisco, and until now I’ve been resigned to joke that it’s the one thing that makes me slightly conservative in San Francisco. What’s going on? It’s simply that bicyclists just don’t follow traffic rules. They don’t stop at stop signs. They act as if they have the immunity of pedestrians, but the access of cars. They dart in and around traffic when they’re riding in regular traffic lanes. They slow cars down when the regular flow of traffic is at the posted speed limit and a bicyclist suddenly appears trudging along at 10mph. Bicycles sometimes wiggle on start, causing cars to dart to avoid them, causing an oncoming traffic hazard. And bicyclists act with extreme indignation if you honk at them. Factor in the monthly Critical Mass event, in which bicyclists deliberately swarm Market Street and spread out, violating traffic rules, in order to disrupt commuter traffic, and we have a real-life conservative slippery slope scenario. But things have become decidedly un-funny since March 29, when a bicyclist hit and killed a pedestrian.
Ah, taxes. They suck. They were even unconstitutional, until Congress cooked up a Constitutional amendment explicitly permitting the government to tax income. But for the purposes of what I want to talk about today, I’m going to let that go for now. We all have to file taxes or we get Willie Nelsoned. To be fair, the experience has improved. I downloaded TurboTax from Amazon, instead of buying the CD-ROM, although I noticed it was also available on Google Play for Android. I’m not sure I want to do my taxes on a tablet, but hey, choice is good. TurboTax ia also available through the browser, but I’m not sure I want to trust my tax preparation to the cloud. They already know everything about me already, but I’d like to have them jump through at least one hoop to get it. Doing taxes today is easy, but it still isn’t nice. The delivery and automation is 21st Century, but the user relationship is still very 19th Century. That’s what’s in the reticule today.
Last Sunday I was in the basement of Old Navy looking for size 4T basic pants. Girls’ clothes as well as men’s for that matter were relocated to the basement, during reconstruction of the third floor. And of course, they had nothing in stock in basic pants, other than capris and leggings. The rest of the selections were all swimwear, novelty T-shirts, and sandals. It’s 53 degrees out in San Francisco, and Old Navy wants me to think I want to buy summer clothes. It was then that the immortal words of Gary Whitta wafted back through my brain. No, not his brilliant dialogue from The Book of Eli. But rather, his pithy Google+ summation of IRL retail, “Best Buy is an awful, customer-unfriendly dinosaur that needs to die.”
So employers want Facebook passwords now. This seems like a pretty significant advancement in the privacy wars. I’d consider asking for my Facebook password something on the order of asking for a “sample” and running my genetics. I’m surprised this is even a thing, and I admit to some curiosity as to which employers are out here requesting this information.
I don’t remember my last employer asking for private details before I signed on the dotted line, so how the hell did we get here?