Dave’s T-Shirt Wish List

27 03 2008

YARRRN

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Body Tag 

Han…

Pluto Replies 

Subliminal

Old 

Tragedy Struck 

Dope

And probably others I’m forgetting.

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“Landmaster!”

27 03 2008

I was checking out the newest episode (#127) of CommandN today, and thought I’d share this great find:

YouTorrent is a torrent compairson search engine. It searches through all the files available and shows you which one you’ll be able to download the fastest. Awesome! I couldn’t help but notice that the site seems to be modeled after the classic Google home page. I also suspect that the similarity of “YouTorrent” to the name of YouTube is more than just an homage – I mean, it’s not even all that fitting for what the site does. I bet they’re hoping they can sell out to Google once they earn themselves enough street cred, or whatever.

So I’m hanging out up here these days just finishing up my last few things for the semester, trying to register for courses offered at McMaster throughout the summer, looking for a job, and making other plans. As a finale to the long Easter weekend, Pete and Paul and I spent a few solid, quality hours playing Super Smash Bros Brawl, which is by all accounts an amazing game. With a slew of new characters there’s a lot of things to try, but I’m still at my best with good ol’ Fox. It was also interesting to witness how much more complex this game is than the original N64 version. (I never owned a Gamecube, and never played Melee for more than a few minutes.) There are now about twice as many things to learn, such as character abilities, stage nuances, new modes of gameplay, and so on. Chalk up another point for Steven Johnson’s Sleeper Curve theory.

On Easter Sunday my friends and I took this picture during a random meetup while we had a couple hours to spare. A camera of my own is still on my frustratingly long list of desired items, so that I can take pictures more often than two or three times a year and not have to pester Pete to email them to me.

the blog author, and about a third of his readership





I’m Pretty Cool

26 03 2008

One of my career role-models, Amber MacArthur, has a fresh new personal blog going, and has also co-founded a media company with her brother Jeff, and some other folks. MGImedia is its name, and I was perusing the website today for the first time, when I noticed they used the word “mediums” in several places. Being the conscientious fellow that I am, I promptly emailed them to remind them that “media” is the plural form of “medium” – just a morsel of handy knowledge I picked up in Media class this semester.

Anyway, it’s nice to be taken seriously:

“Thanks for the tip, Dave – you are indeed correct.

We’ll get on changing this!

Kind regards,

Jeff”





Turn the siren onononononowww

13 03 2008

Haha, this video is so awesome. Our media prof showed us this in class the other day.





Spiffy

8 03 2008

I’ve given my desktop a major makeover. For a long time I kept my dock on the left side, so I decided to relocate it to the default bottom position just for a change. I’m very pleased with how it looks.

Since unwittingly getting myself Leopard, I haven’t been using many of its unique features. I’ve started making use of Spaces now, just a little, although it’s not as useful for me now as it once would have been; I don’t run as many applications simultaneously these days as I used to. (No iLife suite.) I still don’t really ever use Stacks.

I’m especially enjoying these changes in combination with the music I can’t stop playing all the time lately. I downloaded a bunch of iTunes’ highest-rated tracks by The Decemberists, which are really nice. I also got a whole bunch of the songs from the Across the Universe soundtrack. They’re fantastic, especially the covers of “I Am the Walrus” (Bono), as well as “Hey Jude” and “Oh! Darlin”.





It’s Snowing in Guelph

8 03 2008

Writing a personal self-indulging entry because I feel like it.

It is indeed snowing in Guelph – quite a bit these days as a matter of fact. I’m watching it out the window right now, and feeling bad for the people who have to go over to campus today to write midterms. I’m finished all my midterms for the semester, and actually just have one final to write. Besides that, though, I’m doing a ton of reading for my classes – or at least, reading inspired by my classes. Ok, one class. Approaches to Media Studies defies description; suffice it to say that it’s driven me into this hyper-aware, hyper-critical mode. When I watch TV, especially news, I’m seeing something bothersome at every turn.

Recently, for example, the local news station in Hamilton, CHCH News, aired a story about Rockstar’s controversial Bully, a game released back in October, 2006. Bully (rated T) provides a fairly open-ended gaming experience in which players guide a young adolescent, Jimmy, through the trials and tribulations of school life. It’s up to players to decide how Jimmy behaves, which goals to strive for, and how to reach them. Of course, as insinuated by the title of the game, it’s expected that players will follow a delinquent path to take advantage of more fun content. I’ve always found Bully to be in somewhat poor taste, but also harmless – just like much of the humor in movies like American Pie or Road Trip is also low brow. However, one could argue that the more subtle messages in films are far more harmful to impressionable young folks than the overtly immoral and unrealistic activities in games. This applies to other media as well. Think about it. Everyone knows that beating up a smaller kid for his lunch money, or hijacking a car and using it to run over pedestrians is wrong. There is no question about it. But what about advertising that objectifies women, or any teen movie that “exemplifies” what should happen at a wild house party?

Anyway, back to what I was saying: CHCH actually aired the story in response to the release of an expansion for Bully, which simply adds more of the same type of content. Of course, they seemed to think the entire game was brand new. They also featured a smattering of characters to voice their thoughts on the issue, including the teacher who feels that, “the behaviour in the game isn’t the kind of behaviour we’d want to see in the classroom or the school yard,” and the police officer who quips, “I don’t know who makes these games, but it’s very socially irresponsible.” Funny, I think it’s kind of socially irresponsible for an authority figure, who admittedly doesn’t know the first thing about a subject, to trash talk said subject on TV. Yet, never a company to tell a biased story, CHCH found somebody to speak up on Bully‘s behalf: an 8th grader. Note that, if he is the same age as a typical Grade 8 student, he’s maybe just old enough to be allowed to purchase the game at a store. “It could be a good thing because kids who aren’t popular at school can go home and beat kids up to feel better about themselves. They can be popular in the game.” Well, thanks for trying, kid.

All I’m saying is, it bothers me when I see things being misrepresented, and a widespread public acceptance of information channels that are misleading us left and right. Ignorance in general gets to me. I was a little taken aback when somebody I know, (in university) had an exchange like this with a quiz meme posted on Facebook:
“What kind of phone do you have?”
“Um, a Rogers phone.”

Then again, maybe I read too much for my own good. Speaking of reading again, I was lucky enough to hear about an amazing, brilliant book called Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson. My Media prof, Ian, suggested it as a starting point for my term paper research and I’m recommending it to practically everyone I meet – especially parents. The basic premise of the book is that consumption of modern popular culture is generally making us smarter, as opposed to “rotting our brains” as so many people like to say about TV and games. The main reason this is happening is due to how much more mentally challenging entertainment has become in the last 30 years.

Seriously, think about how simplistic a show like Happy Days is. (By the way, Johnson does not discuss Happy Days – at least, not at length. This example is my own.) No disrespect to the Fonz intended, but it’s fairly boring and bland to modern media consumers because, what have you got? You have an era-typical nuclear family with some some additional characters, most of them stereotypes with predictable and repetitive behaviour, and no complexity in their relationships or situations. It is absolutely mindless entertainment.

Compare this to a show like 24 or Lost, in which you have more principle characters with very complex relationships, in situations that are often ambiguous or ever-shifting, and in many cases often operating in difficult or highly technical contexts. (I’m thinking of medical dramas where you’re dealing with human relationships amidst a boatload of medical jargon.) With a show like Lost, most of your mental energy is devoted to figuring out just what the heck is going on. And in an effort to figure it out, you can go and join one of hundreds of web communities that are discussing, in acute detail, the events of the show. They’re writing essays, they’re having long debates, they’re drawing detailed maps and graphs – all in an effort uncover the hidden secrets. Before you can even register on a web forum, by the way, you’ll most likely have to fill out a form, and then go to your email to click an account-activating link, and then find the appropriate forum for the specific topic you’re into, and then decipher the website’s interface to figure out how to post, and then…
I think you get the idea.

I got to thinking about all this last night when myself and my two friends Katie and Katharine were hanging out watching the classic horror flick Halloween. (The first one. I’d never seen any of them until last night.) Much of it was amusing rather than scary because of how slow and predictable it was. Although, to its credit, I was impressed with the lighting and some fun camera work.

I was going to talk about my plans for the next few weeks and my hunt for a summer job, but at 1200 words in this post now I think I’ve said about enough. I’ve been at this for a while now! As an aside, it is still snowing outside. I’m glad my landlord pays for snow removal.





Initial Thoughts on WordPress

5 03 2008

Pros

Pretty
Auto-Wordcount
this feature
more options in general

Cons

No preview option
Emphasis on CSS as opposed to HTML
that link preview-window
no auto-finishing tags

Things that Fall under Both Categories:

Widgets
The Draft-Reminder

Ok, there’s obviously way more to say than that, but I can’t remember right now. I’ll probably add to the list and/or elaborate later.