Monthly Archives: March 2011

Why the QR Code is Fine and Gizmodo is Full of S***

While my enemies will chalk this post up to a physically-debilitating case of sleep deprivation, but I am indignant.  I am calling out Gizmodo, Adrian Covert in particular, for penning a petty piece of pathetic prose:

With the great NFC race looming, Google is axing support for QR Codes in their Places service. QR codes made a noble play for the hearts and minds of nerds, but honestly, I hope this is the first step towards their complete and utter annihilation.

When QR Codes were first introduced to the masses, they were a novel concept: You saw a weird looking digital pattern confined by a square box. You took a photo of it with your phone. It then launched whatever app/website it told your phone to and you were then informed.

In theory that sounds fine. In actuality, it was an unrefined technology with an unsatisfying end reward more often than not. First you had to spend time firing up your camera, or whatever QR-compatible app made use of your camera. Then you had to line up a shot of the QR Code. Then it processed the photo and shuffled you into another app (web browser, perhaps?), where you were privvied to what ever facts of life you needed (most likely some fluffy marketing BS).

Reading this excerpt again, now rested (read: caffeinated), I’m still indignant.  The article, QR Codes: Goodbye and Good Riddance, is ridiculous.  But if you don’t know what a QR code is, you won’t understand why that article was utter crap, so I’ll quickly explain. 

A QR code is the matrix version of a barcode, instead of vertical lines, it’s pixels and boxes.  That’s important because, instead of storing a few numbers that allows the supermarket to know how much to charge you for a snack-size bag of Cheetos, atbreaksixthis barcode can hold a two and a half page essay.  But you probably won’t read a QR code essay.  No, you’re much more likely to scan a QR code and be redirected to the website of the manufacturer of the product the QR code was on.  And that has value.  Prior to the prevalence of QR codes in the States, I’d previously used my phone to take pictures of movie posters that I thought were interesting and would later look up online.  Now, I scan the QR code, my phone takes me to the movie site, and I learn that Rebecca Black’s The Day After Thursday is coming out in 3D.

To the point, why does Adrian think QR codes are dead?  Apparently, it’s because Google Places no longer supports it.  My first thoughts: OH DEAR GODS!  If Google Places doesn’t utilize my product, what chance do I have of surviving in this world?!?  That was stupid.  Yes, Google is big.  And yes, if Google supports something you’ve made, chances are good that it will grow in popularity.  That said, just because Google stops using it doesn’t mean that it dies.  Being unable to search for a business in a specific phone app isn’t going to eliminate a piece of technology that’s almost two decades old and exists on every medium from business cards to grave markers.

Just to humour him, let’s see what the rest of his -scanner-lets-you-check-in-to-venues-by-scanning-barcodesargument was.  Well, to my understanding, his ire is wrought by QR codes being inefficient and borderlining on difficult.  …Okay, I’m disgusted.  Of all the pathetic arguments, I mean really.  It’s difficult?  To open press a button and point your phone at a picture?  That’s difficult?  By that metric, I’m forced to believe that you’ve dictated the article from your bed and even that’s questionable as it would require you to open your mouth. 

It’s tragic really.  And a commenter to the original article picked up on it.  To paraphrase, they brought up a point made by Louis CK about how we live in what would be considered a utopian future by people just fifty years ago, and yet we have people like Covert who complain about waiting mere seconds for the camera to initialize on your phone in order to direct you to information on the internet.

Well, to close this off, I’m making a prediction.  You read it here first, that when all QR codes are replaced by the wireless radio technology he currently desires, there’ll be another article in which he decries the need for a radio receiver and is anticipating the designer sunglasses that will translate the QR codes of 2018.

 

The Gizmodo article and enlightening comments can be found here: http://gizmodo.com/#!5787427/qr-codes-goodbye-and-good-riddance

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Sucker Punch(ed)

Preface: I went and saw Sucker Punch this afternoon.  After returning to my dorm, I wanted to write something about it.  I originally wrote this elsewhere because I didn’t think it was fit for atbreaksix, but after seeing how much I’d written, I decided to post it.

Sucker_Punch_poster

I really, really wanted to enjoy this movie.  I’m not kidding, I really did.  The commercials looked incredible.  I thought ‘OH MY GAWD! Scantily clad girls with weapons in a fantasy Matrix!  This is gonna be epic!’  How could anything go wrong?

Well…

This movie was two hours of sitting back in my seat, cocking my head to the side, and wondering if the actresses were laughing at the idea of people watching this film.  In the worst way, it brought back memories of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  (I think we all hate that movie…)  Actually, it seemed like main difference between the two (discounting premise) was that people actually died and cursed in this film. 

But what was the real problem?  Problems?  Disasters? (Warning, spoilers follow.  However, I recommend reading them as they’ll likely persuade you to save $12)

1.  I did not care about a single character.  No, that’s not true.  I liked the old guy who kept giving advice prior to the fantasy adventures.  And the only reason I liked his character was because the didn’t annoy me as the others did.  As it was, there was somewhere between little and no back-story or character development for the overwhelming majority of the cast.  So, in the scenes where characters show some sort of emotion, it’s completely out of context and you wonder why the movie took a faux-turn for the dramatic.

2.  The conclusion of the movie only goes on to affirm the thoughts you had ten minutes into the film that you have no idea of what’s going on. 

(Plot: Girl (Name=Babydoll, but I don’t really care) loses mother.  Stepfather tries to kill her and her sister to get money in mother’s will.  Succeeds in killing sister.  Girl attacks stepfather.  Stepfather has her thrown into mental asylum.  —MAJOR SHIFT IN PICTURE/STORY— Girl (original) is with a bunch of other girls in what seems like an Atlantic City-esque strip club/brothel.  And they’re all dancers.  And now Girl has to dance.  So zones out and enters the place where Black Mamba killed Lucy Liu and takes out three gigantic CGI man-beasts with a sword and a Desert Eagle.  When she comes to, she’s apparently performed an incredibly seductive dance and is now being applauded by everybody except for one girl who’s jealous or something.  Over the rest of the film, she performs this dance in which she zones out and imagines herself killing people while in the “real” world, everybody is entranced by her motions.  As she’s doing this, a ragtag group of other inmates are stealing tools to make their escape from the asylum.  By the end of the film, all of the teammates are dead save for Girl and the girl who hated her from the dance.  (Real original)  So they make their escape just getting to the exit before realizing that they’re trapped by a group of men.  So Girl sacrifices herself and jealous girl escapes.  —MOVIE SHIFTS BACK TO ORIGINAL VIEW OF REALITY—  And Girl is lobotomized.  Literally.  And jealous girl is on a bus, narrating some sort of message of…destiny?  I dunno.  Seriously though, watching Jon Hamm (Mad Men’s Don Draper) lobotomize your protagonist is kinda messed up.)

2 (the sequel). So at the end, you start thinking: ‘Okay, so none of the dancing was real.  That was probably just jealous girl’s projection of reality.  And within that we were able to see the fantasy murders… which was Girl’s projection’s of reality?  Or was it Girl’s reality within Girl’s reality within actual reality… DAMNIT WTF IS THIS?  INCEPTION?!?!?!

e.  (That should warn people to why this is upsetting to me)  This movie pushes physics and storytelling to the point where I was having a headache trying to rationalize why the special effects guys didn’t laugh at the writer (And WTF was the writer doing?  I bet it was a 12 year old boy who watched 16 hours of action/adventure films in one sitting and then started writing this “great idea” for a movie.  Then 10-15 years later, he had enough clout or dumb friends to get funding for it.).  It’s not Kill Bill.  It’s not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It’s not The Matrix.  It’s like if you smashed them together… And then gave it crack.  It’s just…painful.

3.  This movie leaves me thinking that I witnessed the crackbaby of the Wachowskis, Michael Bay, Quentin Tarantino, and M. Night Shyamalan.  

That’s about it.  Sadly, this venting session has not left me feeling any better.  Maybe I should watch MacGruber again to put it in perspective…

—Follow-up:  According to wikipedia, I’m not the first person to compare this movie to The Last Airbender.  It can be found here.  I recommend clicking, the critic’s line is pretty funny.—

Animal Style

There are two (and a half) types of people in this world:

1.  The people who will read the headline and assume that I’m writing an article on furries.  To those people, I kindly ask you to leave this page and never return.

2.  The people who instantly know that I’m talking about California’s shining burger shack, In-N-Out.

2.5. The people who don’t exactly know what’s going on, but continue to read.  (It’s okay, if I haven’t already punched you through the screen, you’re probably safe.)

Now in addition to expelling those who grossly misread the incredible headline, I’m also going to call out anybody who dislikes In-N-Out:  You don’t belong here.  You’re not wanted.  Go cry into your fries at Five Guys.

…Onto a happier topic than Tom’s random acts of prejudice, the beauty that is In-N-Out.  Why is it so great?  Well…

It starts with two patties placed on a grill,

Sizzled to perfection in minutes few.

Placed on bread and toppings that do fulfil,

And delivered in paper unto you.

To compliment an entree so divine,

an unorthodox beverage is chosen.

The Neapolitan shake claimed as mine,

Remains the sole item ever frozen.

While such a meal would truly satisfy,     

Yet still we persist in this order here.

Potatoes in hot oil create the fry,

Masses of which in past have made me tear.

Covered in spread, grilled onions, and sliced cheese,

Do tenderly clot my weak arteries. 

It never actually looks like that.  But I couldn't care less.  OMNOMNOMNOMNOM. In-N-Out-Neopolitan-Shake In-N-Out-Animal-Style-Fries

I think that got the point across.  It also made me depressingly hungry.  Well, only 43 more days until I’m reunited with my greasy gastronomic good of gluttony.  My stomach rumbles in anticipation.

Airships

(Taken from Relevant Digression)

A common motif in steampunk fiction, the mainstream airship has caught my attention recently.  For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, another term would be zeppelin, similar to the blimp.  It’s a rigid-framed, gas inflated balloon that was once the primary means of commercial air travel.  Sadly, the zeppelin’s golden age only lasted about two decades, ending in the 30′s with the Hindenburg tragedy and the growth of the Third Reich.

So why does this fascinate me?  Because it seems ridiculous to have let such an interesting and picturesque industry to die over bad stigma.  The Hindenburg tragedy even seems a bit overblown, considering two-thirds of the passengers survived the fiery crash.  When compared to the number of survivors in airplane explosions, well, the remains speak for themselves.

That comparison, besides being a bit sick, is unfair.  The two are incomparable by design.  Truly, the zeppelin more closely resembles a cruise ship than an airplane in both size and purpose.  The zeppelin is less of a transport device and more of a luxury gala that floats through the air.  Further, destination is grossly unimportant when compared to what happens aboard the aircraft.

But, Tom, you have no money!  Yeah, I know.  I don’t think I’d want to actually ride a zeppelin because I’m not much of a party guy and I have a distaste for small talk rivalling the people of Holland.  However (yes, this is the but), there’s something majestic about the zeppelin that is completely destroyed by the Goodyear blimp.  The blimp is too small and flies too high with it’s tacky colour schema and annoying electric billboard.  A ship in a metallic or matte grey, several football fields in length and only a few hundred feet off the ground is a beautiful image.  This is compounded by the ideal scenario of waking up one morning, opening the shutters and seeing a giant airship flying overhead, blocking out the sun.  What a glorious sight it would be.

Ah well, I’m sure the alternate universes are having fun with their skyliners.

Biopower (In)Action

I will admit that when I first read the word “biopower”, my mind immediately envisioned a scene similar to the Matrix as the camera pans across the sea of pods that the machines use to harness the power of humanity.  Now, upon discovering the meaning and applications of this term, I can say that it’s roughly the metaphoric equivalent of the aforementioned scene.

Biopower, to the uninitiated, is the practice of outsourcing development of a product to its user-base.  It was a term popularized by the French, social historian, Michel Foucault.  By his account, it is the harnessing of “life itself”.  Essentially, it is the greatest thing to ever happen commercially, socially, and in virtually every other field.baguette1

So far, you know that it means ‘making people do stuff’ and that is has some relation to a French guy.  Let’s get specific.  How about an example?  What does Tom love?  Halo.  So, for those Halo players out there, you’ll get this.  For everybody else, I’ll now shove Bungie’s holy grail down through your retinas.  Halo Reach comes with an updated version of an older feature called Forge, designed to allow users to modify their gameplay according to the built-in physics engine.  Through Forge, users can design their own maps for multiplayer use and, in the most extreme cases, create entirely new games.   An excellent example and application of forcing the Forge engine to it’s maximum, is Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Horse

Now that the Great Bungie Gods have been appeased, I can betray them and tell you why they included this feature:  Because it makes them immortal.  (Insert god-like sound effects)  This probably needs some explanation.  As I see it, there are four levels of game-life based off the type of game:Halo-_Reach_box_art

1.  Casual game – Tetris

2.  Storyboard game – Mario (let’s say Super Mario Bros.)

3.  Multiplayer game – Halo 2

4.  Open theatre game – Halo Reach/Minecraft/Sims

By the odd nature of human beings, those in the first category seem to explode in popularity and last forever.  However, due to the casual nature of the game (tautology fail), they’re often priced lowly (Angry Birds is $0.99, Halo Reach is $59.99).  Those in the second category are often dependent upon the franchise to determine how long the game will remain popular.  Despite this, their lives’ are inherently finite.  The third category routinely extends extends the life of those in the second category as it provides a further outlet for users that have completed and/or grown bored with the story.

But the focus of this piece is the games that fall into the fourth category.  These games have the ability to exist indefinitely, constantly upgraded by the users who enjoy them.  Realistically, they’ll be made obsolete by future versions of games in the same franchise or eventually be rendered unplayable as the consoles fall into disrepair. 

But the biopower feature has a greater effect than immortalizing a game.  In fact, that’s a terrible thing.  Game developers don’t want to build a game that people will purchase one copy of, they want to develop a game that explodes in purchases and that attaches customers to their franchise. 

So what benefit (spoilers: it’s economic), does this type of game provide for the developers?  It allows them to cut corners on design.  Okay, that’s not exactly fair.  It allows them to spend less time writing code for specific objects, layouts, etc.  By outsourcing design to the users, developers not only gain a creative base that shares their creations, they’re also able to produce the game faster and cut costs that would normally go to graphics design and writers. 

Case in point, Minecraft.  A game that has recently exploded in popularity, I can honestly say that I haven’t seen graphics that poor in almost a decade.  But does it matter?  No, not in the least.  Why?  Because people don’t care.  They don’t want to be able to see every blade of grass because it would destroy them.  This game awakens the obsessive-compulsive sectors that normally lie dormant within the general population.  And it drives mortal men to madness.  Well, maybe not madness necessarily, but it certainly opens a portal for a single man to entrap himself within his own dominion.  It does what Blizzard still can’t manage:  It mentally enslaves a single person. 

cthulhu spriteWhy am I telling you this?  Do I secretly hate Minecraft?  Am I sick of Bungie profiting off its customers?  Have I finally gone insane?!?  No.  I just think it’s a really interesting concept.  Selling a product that isn’t actually a product.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It’s closer to selling the videogame equivalent of a colour-by-numbers drawing.  No, that analogy isn’t close enough.  Hmmm…  Okay, it’s the videogame version of a box of Legos.  You can construct virtually anything you can think of, but you’re limited by the amount of Legos you have and whether or not the object you have in mind utilizes non-Euclidian geometry. 

Well, that’s all for now.  For anybody who’s interested in learning more about this and the amazing economics of videogames, I would recommend reading Nick Dyer’s Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games.  (Biopower Play, the inspiration for this article, is chapter 5)

Healthy Living: The atbreaksix Way

Welcome back to atbreaksix.  Today we’re gonna be talking about living healthy.  You know, good food, exercise, and obscene amounts of candy.  That’s right, OBSCENE. 

I should preface this by saying that I don’t live healthy.  For the most part, I don’t know what the word “healthy” means.  I do, however, know that it sells an egregious amount of worthless books and magazines.  (Next post: Rant on self-help books)  So now I’m going to use that buzzword to sell atbreaksix.  I’m just going to do so wrongly. 

FOOD

My diet consists of the following: A subway sandwich (usually a six-inch chicken breast on wheat) and/or a Philly Cheesesteak with Fries.  Everyday, six days a week.  In addition to those entrees, I will also consume several handfuls of candy (chocolate, malted milk balls, marshmallows, tootsie rolls, good and plenty, etc.), along with crackers, rice cakes, and whatever else I’m interested in.  candywarehouse_2144_854696472

Example:  I purchased a 2.5 pound bag of malted milk balls marketed for Easter, Robin Eggs, on Wednesday.  (In my defence, I purchased the bag out of frugality.  Normally ten dollars, it was on sale for less than four.)  That bag currently has about 1/3 of the candy remaining.  Ergo, I’ve consumed 28 ounces of candy-coated malted milk balls in three days. 

 

EXERCISE

I’d like to think that, at least in this aspect, I am… proactive.  Inertia, by the Bill Nye: The Science Guy theme song, is a property of matter.  At this very least, this holds true for my matter.  All 10 stone of it.  (Yeah, I did that just to mess with you.  Yes, YOU.)  As it is, I spend my days in a chair, or in bed.  Mostly in my bed, well, on my bed.  I don’t actually sleep that much, but I despise sitting at my desk for extended amounts of time, so most of it is spent on my side.  So, I know that moving sucks.

However, (pause for emphasis) I do force myself to exercise from time to time.  What do I mean by exercise?  I mean rolling out of bed, falling two feet to the floor (yes, I meant “rolling” literally), and doing some push-ups followed by crunches.  In addition to that routine, now that the ice outside my room has melted, I go for a half-hour run every other day or so.

FURTHER RANT

Now, I know that by saying this, I’ve just alienated half of my audience.  And Ed.  But I ask that you give me a few lines to explain why my exercising is not me selling out to the health movement. 

First, for the better part of my life, I was both short (painfully, painfully short) and rotund.  When I was five inches shorter than my current state, I was also twenty pounds heavier, it was depressing.  So I started jogging and tried to limit my intake of garbage.  (Which isn’t entirely true as all of the Leftovers can attest to the fact that I ate a personal pizza every lunch of my senior year.)  Really, it’s more about justifying the garbage you’re eating based off your rudimentary knowledge of nutrition.  (Chocolate = Dairy + antioxidants) 

Second, I have an enormous ego.  My ego is so large, that despite being an incorporeal entity, it still has gravity.  (It’s the only reason I have friends.  They’re physically drawn in.)  And to support this ego, I need to limit the number of detracting qualities.  To put it better, I need to make myself look better than a growing number of people.

Which brings me to the third reason, and the final bit of this post.  Because I’m better than you.  You know it, that’s why you’re reading this instead of writing it.  I’m winning.  I’m tired of pretending I’m not special.  I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total freaking rock star from Mars. 

Yeah, that took on a different ending joke than I’d originally expected.  I’ve just recently come to really like Charlie Sheen because I heard that he endorses winning.  And I, being the god of win, endorse his endorsement.  So stay tuned for future posts, but in the meantime, go outside and start winning.

Vox Novus

Oh boy!  Latin.  atbreaksix just got classy.  (That’s not a capitalization error, the company name is atbreaksix.) 

Nah, I’m just kidding, we could never be classy.  But that’s not the purpose of this article, no, the purpose of this article is to explain why I’m always saying we. 

As it was, this was a company of one.  Forever alone.  But I had always planned to have multiple writers posting to atbreaksix.  The first on the list, the one that I’d always planned on having write, despite his resistance, just joined up. 

Please, put your hands together for: Supdawg216.

Sometimes I bloody hate him.  Seriously?  “Supdawg216”?  I actually asked him after I saw it in the list of atbreaksix authors and he replies:

first thing that came to mind

So short.  Painfully blasé.  But that’s him.  That’s my best friend.  That’s the new author.  That’s Ed.

But who is Ed?  Well, I know him better than most.  We share something akin to a telepathic bond reinforced by general ridiculousness.  To objectively describe him, he’s an Asian-American (pacific islander [this argument gets stupid after a while]), an engineering student at UCI (close enough), and all around brilliant guy.  But he is bloody lazy.  Really, really lazy.  But we’ll gloss over that.  Except for when I make references to it in my posts.

But that’s Ed.  He’s a gamer, a driver (car aficionado), a mathematician, an introvert, and one of the few people who put up with my unique brand of insanity that has both prevented many relationships and allowed us to do some really insane stuff.  But that’ll probably end up in a future post, or posts.

So, get ready for him.

Rolling Intoxicated

Now I know what you’re thinking:

TOMMMMMMMM!  You should know not to drive under the influence…  You’ve seen the commercials…  You know that the cops are cracking down on drunk driving…  Besides, since when the hell were you a heavy drinker?!?  Yeah, that’s not okay.  I’m telling mum.

But that’s not the case.  Mostly because I don’t drive.  Well, I don’t drive where I’m currently living.  Yeah, that’s one of the great things about Washington, DC: The Metro.  (Which is really code for:  Driving in DC is miserable.  You should not own a car here; it will only make you unhappy.)

So, what the hell does the title mean if I didn’t get busted for DUI?  Well, it’s a bit of a confession and a public service announcement.  …I just realized that I’m still not getting away from this drinking and driving thing… 

–Spoiler Alert: This post is about Rooster Teeth Productions’ Drunk Tank Podcast–

FIXED.

Allow me to elaborate.  The Drunk Tank is a periodically-released radio show hosted by the Rooster Teeth staff members (often Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Geoff Lazer Ramsey, Joel Heyman, Jack Pattillo, and Griffon Ramsey) and is distributed on both the Rooster Teeth website and iTunes.  I am currently subscribed to the podcast which updates every Wednesday.  While that would have provided a relatively low level of entertainment for the last two weeks without becoming grossly repetitive, they are currently on episode 103.  Ergo, there is about one hundred hours of podcast to listen through before I start repeating.  I am currently on episode 60.  And I am loving it.

The podcast is the Rooster Teeth staff, a web-based entertainment group known for “Red vs. Blue” (RVB), discussing videogames, current events, food, and office/family matters.  Their discussions are both hilarious and informative, as well as surprisingly current despite my listening to podcast from about a year ago.  While Rooster Teeth Productions is grossly entrenched in videogames, being bread and butter of their company, it’s still entertaining to non-gamers.  When I began listening, I was almost vehemently anti-gaming (having not been immersed in a console game for at least four years and generally staying far from PC games).   However, listening to Geoff, Gus, and Burnie be genuinely excited about videogames, I’ve been converted.  Er, rather,reverted back to my old, gaming self.

Question: Why does this matter?  Answer: It doesn’t.  Next question: Why are you telling me this? Because it’s awesome.  And if I can help the Drunk Tank get more subscribers so that Rooster Teeth continues to put out these podcasts, I feel that I’ve justified my consumption of entertainment that they release for free.

Last question: What am I supposed to do now? 

Final answer:  Open up iTunes> go to the iTunes store> type “Drunk Tank” into the search bar> search> click on the Drunk Tank podcast> begin downloading episodes> Enjoy.  Alternatively (if you’re anti-Apple/iTunes/weirdness), click on the link: http://roosterteeth.com/archive/?sid=dt&v=more.  If the podcast does not begin playing immediately, go to www.roosterteeth.com , and look over the homepage for “Podcast”.

High Tides: A New Focus

Credit to burningsea.com, screenshot fo the day

Perhaps I’ll be able to use this side-project to my advantage.  Well, that’s a bit redundant.  I started this with goal of gaining a substantial audience and making a considerable sum of money.  However, as I’m fairly certain that nobody knows of this account, I’ll use it to keep myself on task.  Okay, that’s a bit funny, I’m going to blog to make sure I’m doing my work.  …Let’s stop the digressions. 

The new topic: Pirates of the Burning Sea

Not nearly as clean as Pirates of the Caribbean, but interesting nonetheless.  It’s an MMORPG, now operating a Free-To-Play subscription model, with a global audience.  Gameplay is fairly standard for MMORPGs, the main differences being the setting and ship-to-ship combat. 

I’m going to keep this post brief as it’s merely to serve as an introduction to this topic.  I’m playing the game to write a research paper on virtual economies with a possible focus on gold-farming.  As I play through, I’ll write on distinct aspects of this game and perhaps develop my paper through these posts. 

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