A series of posts concerning

geekery of all sorts

OMC must be stopped!

Come with me this far, at least: March Fadness is in truth an essay made of essays, a great metaekphrasis using art and memory to heighten and sharpen one another’s mystery. March Fadness is rooted in a belief that art—even the one-hit wonders of the 90s—offers access to humanity.

These votes are immensely complex; if two of us vote for the same song, can we say with any certainty that those two votes mean the same thing? We cannot. Are people voting for the songs? For the videos? For the memories? For the essays? For the essayists? For the preservation of their own brackets? Or against any of those things, as I always root for whoever the Jets are playing? Or do all these strands braid around the maypole of a single radio button? Can we have a meaningful conversation about “which song is the best” if we are not in communion about what purpose art serves?

That last question is why Justin St. Germain—and, by extension, OMC’s “How Bizarre”—must be stopped.

On Microwaves and Human Dignity

Let me finally add that these calculations leave out the moral and emotional aspects of this process. Certainly, we can reduce microwaving to a question of mere efficiency, but this loses all of the complicated nuance of the task. How does one account for the feeling of pride one gets with a careful, accurate estimation? How does one factor in the way the food tastes just a little bit better knowing that its perfect temperature is the result of my own insight and forethought, rather than haphazard button-slapping? How too the knowledge that those who share the microwave with me will feel my respect and admiration manifested in a clean timer?

A Collection of Oddities

From time to time I get emails or twitter mentions from other people who also thought some of my web experiments at Kill Screen were neat, and wondering where they are. So (with KS‘s permission) I’m republishing some of those oddities here. The first of them is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, my review of Infinity Blade. I’m glad it’s back up somewhere.

Audiobooks and the Platonic Story

I was listening to a not-very-recent episode of Judge John Hodgman recently where Judge Hodgman, Bailiff Jesse, and an unspeakably fabulous man debated the equivalence of reading and listening to audiobooks, and ever since I’ve been paying much more attention to the different dynamics of the experiences. Having just made it through Spring Break, and as a regular commuter, I’ve been doing a lot of both, and my feeling—somewhat surprisingly—is that Judge Hodgman was right: they are “separate but equal” experiences. A book and its audiobook offer two fundamentally different ways to experience the story they describe.

Better sorting with Keyboard Maestro Macro Palettes

As a teacher, I comment on a lot of student writing. I usually do this digitally, as my handwriting is so awful as to make doctors weep. And, because students in the same classes tend to be learning the same things at the same time, I often find myself needing to say the same thing over and over, to lots of students in lots of different classes.

Since I need to be able to inject these comments quickly, easily, and repeatedly, I’ve been trying to find a good way to automate them for some time now. In my last attempt, I’ve figured out a pretty good way to do this—solving a long-standing problem I’ve had with Keyboard Maestro in the process.

Things I Suck At

I fiddle around with a lot of things. It’s in my nature. I began listing my recent forays into configuring email as an example, and I realized quite quickly that the odyssey ought to be its own post. The reason I do this sort of fiddling, though, almost always composed of two intertwining mental phenomena:

  1. I know what I need, and
  2. I know the limitations of the thing I’m fiddling with.

Sometimes, when we’re talking about software or something similar, I know up front what the limitations are; often, though, I only find out by playing around with it. Likewise, I often know what I need up front; other times, though, I only find out what I need by finding out where my needs rub up against the limitations of whatever it is I’m trying to work with.

As I was listening to Back to Work 71, I started thinking about the problems that exist in organizations—things like the passive aggression that Merlin and Dan were discussing—as functions of that same pair of forces. More specifically, it made me think about the problems I have as a teacher with my students, the problems my students have with me as a teacher, and perhaps most importantly, the problems I have with myself as a teacher. All these problems—and perhaps all problems—come down to a conflict between one party’s expectations and another party’s limitations.

Events! Excitement! Exclamation Points!

As you can see, I’ve shifted things around a bit.

I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, inasmuch as my old site—lovely as it was, to be sure—had a few key limitations, namely:

  • being Wordpress
  • being exclusively gamery
  • being dated
  • being boring

And so. Because I am a geek, I have made things as complicated as I possibly can without having my wife kill me.

Reviews as a Lens

Recently, I had a conversation with Ryan Kuo of Kill Screen on the question of whether or not it made sense for KS to review games that are less than timely. Would it make sense, for instance, to review something like Angry Birds? The game has been around a while, and is hugely popular, but it’s easy to see why a review would be less than fruitful. Everybody already knows what Angry Birds is, and whether it’s worth buying.

Games, class, and "literary merit"

This post over at GameSetWatch lays out some of the basic arguments we can expect to hear from the EMA side of the table (i.e., in context, the good guys). One of the “vagueness problems” Smith mentions is that the law in question “limits restrictions to games that ‘as a whole … lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.’”

This is an epic assertion. Count ‘em, folks: there are four good reasons for a videogame. As I’ve blogged before, there’s not even uniform agreement as to whether games are capable of being artistic or literary, though my own views on the matter are more certain. To me, the problem extends well beyond “vagueness.” Questions about “art” and gaming run into the same problems that all questions about “art” do—problems of canon, which are problems of audience, which are problems of race and class.

Is polygeek¹ a word? I declare it a word.²

Last night, after Megan went to sleep, I sat down on the couch. Final Fantasy XIII in the PS3, for better or for worse.³ Wireless keyboard and mouse in front of me, on the coffee table. Harmony beside me. Sixaxis in hand. This (I swear to you) is the problem I had: I wanted to play FFXIII while using a Linux live CD to resize the ext3 partition on a hard drive in the Hackintosh hooked up to my TV (to make room for an HFS+ partition, of course), but I was frustrated because I couldn’t set up picture-in-picture on my Harmony, and I was too lazy to get up and walk across the room to get my TV remote.

This pretty much sums up my whole self.