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Gadget Addiction or Work Intrusion?

Crash Culligan Re:People Really Do That? (111 comments)

CanHasDIY: [People Really Do That?] ... and by "do that," I mean let their employer take control of their personal lives? WTF is wrong with them?

That's the "cultural thing" that they were talking about. Somewhere in the past thirty years or so, along with the stagnation of wages, the collapse of the "middle class," the inexorable creep forward of prices for things like food, housing, and health care, and the antiquation of the notion that workers have rights, it became a buyer's labor market. Most people fear that if they don't toe the line and do what their bosses tell them to, it'd be far too easy to dismiss them (i.e. fire their worthless slacker asses) and hire someone with a more respectful, helpful attitude (i.e. sycophant).

And in an era where most people live from paycheck to paycheck and either lack the gumption (or worse, the salary) to save up for emergencies, that fear is a sensible one.

about a year and a half ago
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OLPC Project Disappoints In Peru

Crash Culligan Followed by a CSB (274 comments)

coffeechica: The concept of needing laptops at all for good education is questionable, I think.

The concept of needing anything/em> for a good education is questionable. The computer is a tool which is capable of good (through assisting the teaching of subjects), evil (distracting the students or supplanting the teacher), or pointlessness.

First, the tool has to be assessed, to see if it's suitable to assist in the teaching of a subject. The computer can be mighty flexible, and beside running Excel to actually do the accounting, it can present information, quiz students on topics being learned, and even make corrections based on incorrect answers. (And yes, I include properly done Powerpoint under the heading "present information." LibreOffice's Presentation tool qualifies too.)

Second, the tool may need to be tweaked to work for a specific purpose. The last two, quizzing and correcting, ride on the assumption that somewhere behind the scenes, someone in the school's employ is using a relatively simple scripting tool (LiveCode comes to mind) to create the lessons, and to further present on correct techniques when wrong answers are given.

Third, the tool has to be accepted and understood by the teacher. A tool unused is meaningless, but a tool misapplied can do more harm than good.

And fourth, the tool has to be accepted and used correctly by the students. Same principle as above: if they don't know how to get the information out of it, they won't larn nuffin'. A sweet UI and finely honed educational software stand no chance against a blithering idiot.

My mother taught learning disabled preschoolers. I watched with some horror as she sent one student after another back for "computer time" unattended, and they kind of puttered around with it. The worst was what I dub a "click-monster"—he might as well have been blindfolded and firing a machine-gun the way he was clicking. It was like recess, but nothing was being exercised except index finger and wrist.

With a little time, expense, and staff education, the computer can be a fantastic tool for teaching and learning. I can appreciate that without that time and expense, the tool isn't nearly as useful.

about 2 years ago
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EA's New User Agreement Bans Lawsuits

Crash Culligan Re:Biting off more than they can chew I fear (273 comments)

erroneus: At some point, someone will challenge the legality of this practice of blocking legal recourse. The fact of the matter is, the legal system is government and is in place to help guarantee peaceful resolution of disputes between parties.

That depends entirely on who's controlling the government during that cycle, and who that government decides needs the greater protection, doesn't it?

What we're seeing these days is a continued skewing of rights and privileges away from employees and "small" customers, toward employers and "large" customers. I'm surprised it hasn't trickled into the userspace sooner, frankly.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple's A6 Details and Timeline Emerge

Crash Culligan Re:Quad Core In a Tablet/Phone? (123 comments)

rsmith-mac: what on earth are you going to do with 4 CPUs when you can only interact with 1 program at a time?

This assumes that iOS will only ever allow you to interact with one program at a time. This also assumes that iOS doesn't do so already—ever play music while working with another app? It's a question of controls, and finding ways to work with multiple programs that works for the users.

If I were doing it, I'd consider a "half-screen" mode where you can have two apps open, one on each side of the screen. But that's worse than Apple-armchairing, that's UX-armchairing. *shudder*

more than 2 years ago
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PlayStation Home Transforming Into Social Platform

Crash Culligan Yes, another one. And likely more after that. (55 comments)

That's right. We have enough social services already. But they—the marketers and salesmen who want more channels to push their product through in order to make a sale—won't rest until you can't spit in your online social space (so to speak) without hitting an advertisement. And if this means creating more social spaces then so be it: Let a thousand cheesy Facebook-knockoffs bloom!

Because we are groaning under social internet overload, there's a good chance that those newer services won't be looked at, much less taken seriously.

That said, there is one thing Sony has going for them in this case: it's a community social network. It's a PSN thing, so it's safe to say that everyone going there, if they choose to, has common ground: more desire to play multiplayer games than they have real-life friends with PS3s. In the modern "social overload" network, that kind of commonality is a necessary ingredient to building a community online.

more than 2 years ago
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What Happens After the Super-Hero Movie Bubble?

Crash Culligan Okay, this is just sad. (339 comments)

I have no doubt that Hollywood will lose its taste for the cash cow it's currently grinding into hamburger (note: not the mixed metaphor that it sounds like). But fretting over The Next Big Thing, simply because a clear winner hasn't emerged yet? That's pathetic.

For one thing, take a look at the movie listings. There's currently a lot more out there beside the "superhero" movie. Some of it is older genres, some of it is niche new stuff that someone felt was good to throw against the wall, just to see if it stuck. If the superhero genre can be said to be "dominating," it's only because they're making more money, not because they're filling every theater and pushing the ordinary genres off the screen.

Second, when their star finally does fade, who's to say it'll do so completely? Like I said, a lot of older genres are still being explored. Who's to say we won't get a satisfying drip of interesting empowered individual films in the future?

And third, it's entirely possible that the reason that the superhero film has dominated Hollywood's rather Asperger's-like focus is that the Next Big Thing hasn't come along yet. I have every confidence that when it does, filmmakers will jump upon it with both feet and kick the Current Big Thing to the curb.

more than 2 years ago
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Samsung Wants To See iPhone 5 and iPad 3

Crash Culligan The Life Cycle of Non-Apple Products (136 comments)

TheyTookOurJobs: While I completely believe Apple is paranoid enough to believe that everyone is stealing their generic unappealing design,

I don't know if you'd noticed or not, but a lot of people really do try to steal Apple's designs, or at least their thunder. It's the step between (5) observe with mounting horror and a hint of awakening greed how well the Apple product is doing in its newly impacted niche and (7) boast proudly that Apple's not the only one to have a design in that niche.

Incidentally, (4) is "complain how generic and obvious the Apple product is, and decry how it can't possibly amount to anything in its selected niche." Whether (4) is an honest reaction or a premeditated defense against claims of (6) is left as an exercise for the reader, and probably best judged on a case-by-case basis.

more than 2 years ago
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US Government Recognizes, Funds Video Games As Art

Crash Culligan It's the Message, Not the Medium (58 comments)

Oh, you joke.

Nethack, as itself? Almost certainly not. Nethack, reskinned to immerse the player in an artistic or cultural situation? With a sufficient advertising budget to convince people to actually play it? That might pass and, depending on the situation or scenario you present, it might even be worthwhile.

As a further example, remember that any game which would be suitable for this grant doesn't even necessarily have to be playable, just evocative. Consider the innocuous-seeming board game Train , which was pretty much designed to make you want to stop playing most of the way through the first time and never to try it again. That one didn't just hit its mark, it kicked it in the kielbasa. To its detriment, some people failed to realize that the board game was villifying the original event, and instead chose to hate on the board game for celebrating it.

more than 2 years ago
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US Government Recognizes, Funds Video Games As Art

Crash Culligan Re:Why? (58 comments)

Stormy Dragon: Given the deficit problem we already have, why should we be spending money to produce a good that is already being produced in massive quantities, particularly a good that only the well off (who can afford high end PC's or expensive gaming equipment and subscription) will be able to take advantage of?

There's a little more to it than just shoveling money at video game companies. Down below I posted a one-sentence paragraph from the article. Here are the ones from right before and right after that one:

TFA: There is a new emphasis on innovation, as well as strengthening creativity through access to the arts.

We’re encouraging media projects that enhance public knowledge and understanding of the arts through multi-platform or transmedia means.

This is, I gather, supposed to be art with a purpose, and that purpose is to raise awareness in some capacity, be it appreciation of other artistic media or social issues. For that reason, I consider this a good thing, even though I can't take advantage of it myself.

Beside the issue I raised below, they're looking for "innovation" in whatever game comes out, and I find it hard to believe they're experienced enough or equipped to judge games in that capacity. If Zynga gets into this grant business, I could advocate nuking the plan from orbit, just to be on the safe side.

more than 2 years ago
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US Government Recognizes, Funds Video Games As Art

Crash Culligan Pretty Narrow Target (58 comments)

Given the terms of the grant, I see them having trouble finding appropriate projects to fund. For that reason, I can't help worrying that this all could go down poorly.

On the one hand, sure, they're going to give these grants to smaller, actual "indie" development groups. But on the other hand...

TFA: In order to reach the widest possible audience, priority will be given to projects that include substantive public engagement strategies, including well articulated social media strategies.

If I'm reading this right, they're looking for indie developers that are set up with good PR and exposure. There aren't that many of those, are there?

more than 2 years ago
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OS X Crimeware Kit Emerges

Crash Culligan Re:Regarding MACDefender (202 comments)

MACDefender requires that you agree to install it. It's not able to infect your Mac without your knowledge and consent.
AND : Just drop it in the trash bin to get rid of it. Hassle free. Click and drag. That's it.

I know of no malware that (a) would give up so easily or (b) would not take the opportunity once it got the first privileges to run with them as far as they could.

Drag it to the trash? If it doesn't rewrite .bashrc to start a process to make sure it's installed and running when the system starts up, then it's not a proper malware. If anything, it should throw up more alerts when it detects a disruption and claim that something the user did has caused a configuration error—contact the mothership with credit card in hand to download the full version that will actually protect (snicker!) you.

The problem is the same with any other malware: once it gets its hooks into the system and a whiff of legitimacy, it should be all over the place.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to crack MacOS's security when the user either forgets to lock it down in the first place or opens the mac up specifically to let the malware in.

And the vector is the same: why crack the operating system when the user is so much more accommodating?

more than 2 years ago
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What Happens To Data When a Cloud Provider Dies?

Crash Culligan The One That Lets You Keep Your Data (262 comments)

I had an idea which I thought at the time was novel. I haven't worked out all the kinks in it yet, but if it could be made to work, I think it could be awesome.

It starts with a home server, web-facing and firewalled against casual intrusion. You keep your data on that in some standard configuration which lets outside companies tap into and add value to the data of everyone who registers their servers with that company.

Example: Photo-sharing on a social network. You'd have your pictures on your home computer in a given format that the outside system could read. You'd register your server with flickronlylessskeezy.com, and users on that system could see your pictures, comment on them, etc. The second logical step would be to register your home server to hold the lists of friends and comments.

Advantages: The data would stay on your computer. You control who does and doesn't access it by registering and deregistering outside services and controlling privileges, and if the service goes down, all that's lost is an accessor method; your data is still in your control. And if some organization decides they absolutely need to take down some incriminating or inconvenient data, an attack on a single server will take care of it without damaging the service for everyone else (beyond not seeing that special data).

Disadvantages: It does require either static IP addresses or tracking back through dynamic IPs, and more than a little computer knowledge on the part of the user, including database management, although with some very specialized software, there might be ways to make this user-friendly. It would also benefit greatly from decent connection speeds and ISPs who don't throttle "power users" (which right now is damn near none of them). And some companies which get in on this might want to stifle competition by using non-standard or proprietary data formats, which means if the service goes down your data is stuck in a black box which you can't open.

...

Well, once those problems are cleared, anyway, I think it could work. Thoughts?

more than 2 years ago
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Leaked Activision Memos Compare CoD, Guitar Hero

Crash Culligan How To Read the Memos to Get Something Out Of Them (101 comments)

All right, let's see. "Entrenched", "sales", "player engagement" those line up well, we're off to a good start. "Hours of _____" isn't even on the board, while "online play" is, and that looks promising. "DLC" doesn't help any. "Quality" and its variations isn't on the grid, but perhaps it should be. Oh, good, "innovation" and "curve" are both there in good places. "Services" isn't on the grid either, but "community" is, and —ooh, hang on!

"Sales", "player engagement", "online play", "innovation", and "staying power!" Yes! BINGO! What do I win?

more than 2 years ago
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Sony Says PSP2 "As Powerful as PS3"

Crash Culligan Concerned about future PSP2 developments (267 comments)

I admit, I'm concerned about this product.

I mean, look at when the PS3 came out. It had a number of connectivity features like a memory card slot, and a lot of promise for future development. And as it matured and newer versions of the console were released, those features were progressively taken out and kicked to the curb in order to provide a more simplistic, a lesser, a (dare I say it?) downgraded user experience. Similarly, things like the Other OS option were taken out of the menus, further limiting this box as either a game player, a lobster trap for your purchased music and movies, or if all those fail, a doorstop. A very large doorstop, at that—you could use it to prop open the garage.

I have reservations about the PSP2. Has Sony included enough bells and whistles in this device that, a year or two down the road, they can yank the popular features willy-nilly and still have something that's viable in the marketplace?

more than 3 years ago
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Antivirus Firms Short-Changing Customers

Crash Culligan Protection? Hah! (205 comments)

Try "peace of mind." It doesn't even have to be actual protection, just the sense that you're protected, even if it's just a bald-faced lie. And they're not afraid to taint that peace of mind if it guarantees sales.

Case in point: I put Norton Antivirus on my father's laptop. The newest version of NAV has a live map lit up with places where cybercrime is reported. Think about it for a moment. It doesn't help detect malware, it doesn't help find or remove viruses, and it does nothing to educate the user, unless you consider the message "Computer crime is everywhere!" to be in any way an informative message. It is there for one reason and one reason alone: to make the user afraid not to have it.

It's why I say "Norton Antivirus: You pay for the security. The fear is free."

more than 3 years ago
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House Democrats Shelve Net Neutrality Proposal

Crash Culligan Both sides are bad... (221 comments)

...but at least the Republicans stay bought?

more than 3 years ago
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White House Fingers PlayStation As Obesity Culprit

Crash Culligan Google: "C is for Lettuce" lyrics (477 comments)

(I'd post the lyrics themselves, but Tim Crist, a.k.a. "Worm Quartet" packs a lot of lyrics into one song.)

On top of everything he sings/raps/screams about, another cause comes to mind and it's the parents' own damn fault for this, because they won't stop thinking about the childhood injuries. To prevent boo-boos at school, athletics programs get pared down to sub-Special-Olympics levels. Playgrounds get dismantled because someone could get hurt on them. Public ball fields and open spaces are either infested with drug dealers or more profitably developed into McMansions.

If the thought of sending children out into that cold, cruel world to get some exercise makes you at all pale, clammy, or weak-kneed, then congratulations, you may be part of the problem. If you've ever voiced those concerns and made other parents afraid, then damnit you are the problem.

more than 3 years ago
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Ping Could Be Apple's Social Networking Backdoor?

Crash Culligan And this is why people should hope it succeeds (271 comments)

Disclaimer: I'm using iTunes 10 right now. Make of that what you will.

There's a lot to hate about Ping, mostly that it's what I like to call a "Potempkin Shopping Village of the Damned." It's there for little more than to allow people to show off their musical tastes and share with their friends. The fact that once you've shared a favorite song with your friends they can listen to a snippet and buy it on the spot <sarcasm class="eyeroll pshaw">is purely coincidental, I'm sure.</sarcasm> It's using the concept of "social networking" in a way that's so utterly cynical it's shocking, and we've got some primo cynics around here.

So yeah, evil evil evil. Insert as many "fanbois" as you think are necessary after that. (If you stick in two or more "gay"s, though, you're projecting.)

But then, as crovira points out, there's that bit where Mr. Jobs mentioned "discovery." That's the tilt. It's also where Ping could redeem itself if the users are judicious in its application. Yes, Lady Gaga and U2 and Yo Yo Ma and Katy Perry and Linkin Park and U2 (apparently, Apple really likes U2) are featured on the front page in their own box. Think of that as the sponsored advetising. The really important box is on every user's profile page, in the top right corner. This is where each user gets to recommend ten songs that exemplify their own musical tastes. Click one of those, a pop-up comes up allowing you to sample the tunes on that album, go to that album's page, buy it, review it, etc. In that space, artists like Voltaire, Abney Park, and Lemon Demon can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Roger Waters and Madonna, and could even win.

more than 3 years ago
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Woman Wins Libel Suit By Suing Wrong Website

Crash Culligan Re:I don't like this story (323 comments)

Drakkenmensch: I'm gonna sue slashdork!

Are you really sure you want to give a site called slashdork.com good reasons for saying bad things about you?

I mean, their fanfic section alone... *shudder*

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

Crash Culligan hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Work sucks.

Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  more than 9 years ago Don't get me wrong, because it's not a tremendously bad kind of suck. I mean, I am getting paid for my meager efforts, and I get something to put on my résumé beside dust.

But the commute would be, by most peoples' standards, murderous. While I'm working as a full-time temp for one company, serving at another company, I am essentially the oil companies' bitch.

And the work? At a previous "job" (it was more like manning a mail-drop), I joked that I was either underutilized or keeping two monkeys out of a job. The current job I rate at about five monkeys instead.

I need a more challenging job closer to home. Self-employment may be an option, except then I'd need to whore^Wtart^Wsell myself to employers who may not even need my services, and I'm decidedly bad at that.

Any suggestions?

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How Not to Get the Point

Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  more than 9 years ago "Reformed spammer says he may relapse"

In response, I have only one word: "WTF??" And in the words of AdBusters, "how much damage must a company do before we question its right to exist?"

Summary of article: a man, who has taken legitimate pains to spam responsibly and comply with all legislation like CAN-SPAM, confesses that he may have to turn back to illegally spamming and trying to defeat filters if service providers don't stop blocking his messages.

Prize quote of the piece:

"When I'm forced into a situation where I cannot do legal business because other people are interfering with it, I will go back to spam," he told Reuters after the hearing.

Okay, one more time, all businesses consist of three distinct parts: a buyer, a seller, and a product or service. In that context, let's take a hard, careful look at the average spammer's business model:

The Buyer: The person who wants to find buyers for a particular product or service of their own.
The Seller: The spammer^Wadvertiser.
The Product: Here's where things get ugly: the product is the general public, who the Seller tries to drive to the Buyer by whatever means necessary.

The problem with this business model is that 99% of the populace (and that's a conservative estimate) aren't interested in the products the Buyer is trying to hawk. They especially aren't interested in being the product of someone else.

And the thing which so many people don't realize is that most advertising works by this exact same model: the advertiser promises the buyer exposure, and what this means is that the advertiser will do whatever it takes, up to and including sucking up bandwidth and polluting the environment, to get the buyer's name recognized by the general populace.

If advertising doesn't seem to work, it's because people mentally tune advertising out to avoid the onslaught of half-hearted glad-handing condescending and sometimes infantile attempts to sell other peoples' crap. Putting it more in their faces may give people urges, but it won't be to buy stuff -- more likely to pummel the living fertilizer out of the seller.

Internet service providers realize this because they depend heavily on customer satisfaction, which goes down if they get bombarded by advertising. And trust me, nothing but nothing pisses off a customer like downloading 60 junk mails over a dial-up connection.

I think the spammers try not to realize this because, if they did, they'd have to get honest work.

Comments? (They're turned on and everything this time!)

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The Sticky Static Spambot-Stopper Problem

Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  more than 10 years ago Thus far I've had little problem with spam. But I know that the spambots are out there and ready to sniff my email address off of any web page that I put up.

And as I plan to start freelancing to make some money in my meager spare time while job-hunting, I need to maximize my presence, up to and including putting information and particulars up on the web.

So I have a challenge: how to put my email address up on my web site so that humans can read it and even click on it as they were meant to without falling prey to the spamspiders.

Here's the catch, and it's a doozy: the web space my ISP provides me is completely static. Frozen in ice static. No PHP, no Perl, no Python. I count myself lucky that the damned thing even serves up HTTP.

Can anyone recommend a solution which will prevent that sort of harvesting when I have no interactivity or control over who accesses it?

(It's a pity my situation is too specific for an Ask Slashdot.)

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A new perspective on evil

Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  more than 10 years ago "The love of money is the root of all evil."

If this is the case, then surely the necessity of money is the potting soil of all evil, and the utility of money is the fertilizer of all evil.

Put them together and evil will bloom, preferably in a warm place with a little water and moderate afternoon sunlight. Evil is a hearty perennial which is very difficult to remove once it gets in place, prompting some to call it a weed. The weed's lawyers strongly discourage this attitude.

By the same token, the modern corporation has the greatest necessity to gain money (the most potting soil) and gets the greatest utility from it (the most fertilizer). And anyone who is insufficiently in love with money has no business there, so they either dry up and go elsewhere or they actually get pulled.

And in order to keep this evil from encompassing the earth like some mutant kudzu, we have Michael Powell, who is essentially the ornamental ceramic snail.

We're doomed.

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Anyone else following the .hack saga?

Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  about 11 years ago Haven't heard of it? I wouldn't be surprised. It's an odd little fairy tale for the modern age.

Oh, wait... you think I'm talking about the .hack mythos itself, aren't you? No, I'm talking about the production company that's trying to drive the game (as both a playable game and several anime series) into the public consciousness.

The synopsis of their creation, in case you don't want to read up on it yourself, goes something like this: in a near future where one operating system has finally won over all the desktops and networks of the world (they call theirs "ALTIMIT"), there's trouble brewing on a worldwide MMORPG called "The World": areas within it are appearently being ravaged by viruses or something. The wrinkle is that some of these viruses seem to have their own intelligence. And are capable of putting people into the hospital or worse.

(One could say that when there are hazards out there like that, it's mind-numbingly stupid to tighten the user/technology integration to the point where accidents like that can happen. But then I realized: the stuff doesn't exist, so people will continue tightening. Then someone will develop the hazard as a countermeasure. Or for fun. Think virusing someone's computer is fun? It doesn't compare to the challenge of virusing someone's head!! Suddenly the script kiddies could become dangerous...)

As science fiction goes, a lot of it is old hat. Or old chestnuts. Or old somethings. AIs, global networks, multinational conspiracies, and killer viruses are pretty much the stuff of classic William Gibson when it comes down to it. And I've heard people complaining that the anime series has not enough action and too much of what could be considered the "talking heads" style of storytelling.

What I find more interesting is that there is a group of people (the .hack group) who has a story to tell, and is trying to tell it in this roundabout (and somewhat novel) way.

The anime series .hack//SIGN is playing Saturday nights on Cartoon Network. I have to imagine that it played first in Japan because it does show signs of dubbage.

If you have a PS2, then you can follow the other chapters as they're released. The first game, .hack//INFECTION, also came with a 45-minute anime presentation on DVD, .hack//LIMINALITY (at least their naming convention is easy to follow), which parallels the events in the game with investigations outside by a few concerned people. There's going to be three more after that. What a clever trick! Take one very large game and break it up into four smaller games, and make people who want to follow the story every step of the way pay for each chapter! Brilliant! Incredibly cheap and cheesy, but brilliant!

It's not quite a vertical monopoly; they still have to resort to other companies to actually present their content to the masses. But it'll be interesting to see how their story (and their story) will unfold. Could this be developed into a paradigm shift in modern storytelling?

All that said, if you don't have a Playstation 2, I wouldn't say .hack is a reason to run out and get one. But between setting the VCR and toying with the saga on a friend's machine, there is ...something fascinating about the story itself. As if the medium is part of the message?

And as for the "talking head" complaint, that's the nature of the story. It's not really about the action and adventure, but about figuring out what's going on. It's a tale squarely set in the psychological domain, and in a world obsessed with flash and bang, perhaps I find the cerebral story to be refreshing.

If anyone else has any theories, I'd love to hear them. (Provided anybody actually reads this thing.)

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Crash Culligan Crash Culligan writes  |  more than 11 years ago Journal, eh? Izzis something like LiveJournal? Hey, I could get behind this. It could even be fun...

...if I had enough interesting stuff in my life to report. Let's face it: I'm between jobs and not enough is happening at home to really justify me keeping logs. I'm just testing this out now to see how easy or hard it is.

I might log the occasional thought up here, but that's about it. Unless I really get rolling on it, at least.

There's stuff relating to MUSH code that I could talk about, but few enough people know what that is, and of those who do, only 2% would read this, and of that group 60% would laugh. Still, I have to start somewhere...

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