Joe Walsh Speaks

I have this bootleg of Joe Walsh playing “Rocky Mountain Way” and explaining how he wrote it and anecdotes about it and his life. I downloaded it from somewhere, but it sounds like some kind of songwriter conference or something. He has a great quote in it:

A funny thing in the music business is that if you pretend you know what you’re doing, everyone thinks you do. The problem is that you end up in charge.

Movement on the Secret Project

After being frozen in infrastructure changes for months, I actually made forward progress on my project last night. Even more amazingly, I did this between trick-or-treaters. Because I have changed almost every aspect of this since beginning, it took a fair amount of fighting just to achieve parity with where I was in May. I want to get moving on this thing in the worst way. I have sketches dated from 2000 detailing the basics of what I want to do, and I know if I wait too long someone else will do the same thing.

My buddy (now boss) Darin has suggested to since I want to become a pundit, someone who is invited to speak at things and whose opinion is respected, a first step would be to talk about the various pieces I’m using in the project and why. I’m going to post a summary now, and maybe write a post about each one. I don’t want to spend too long on this now, because I’m giddy with delight in actually seeing JSP pages populated with real data and would like to move the ball a little farther toward the goal line while I’m on a roll.

As a summary, this is my infrastructure and where applicable what I changed from:

  • Struts (always been that)
  • PostgreSQL as the DB, moving from MySQL
  • Hibernate as the O/R and database layer, moving from Cayenne
  • Eclipse as the IDE, moving from Emacs
  • Subversion as the source control, moving from CVS

Because I am previously not very experienced with JSP and unexperienced with Struts, there has been a lot of learning curve. I believe it is just now paying off. There has been a lot of frustration when I don’t know how to do what is obviously a simple task, but I believe I am getting a good enough grounding to be moving forward.

Pat Robertson: Terrorist

Via the Daily Kos, I found this article about Pat Robertson suggesting that the State Department should be blown up. I agree with the outrage in the commentary, wondering why “a vehement complaint” gets lodged when Robertson makes terrorist threats on his television show yet FBI and Secret Service make in-person visits for interviews for for lesser provocations. Now, suppose someone actually does detonate a bomb in Foggy Bottom, would Robertson be charged the same way the Muslim cleric was in the first World Trade Center bombing?

Music sales fall again

This post from from the Shifted Librarian juxtaposes two interesting statements, one from Wired News:

Since the week ending June 29, traffic to Kazaa has fallen 41 percent to about 3.9 million unique visitors from 6.5 million in the week ending September 21.

with one from MSNBC:

The battle-weary music industry surveyed the wreckage of another dismal six months on Wednesday as global data showed music sales tumbled 10.9 percent, piling more pressure on music companies to do deals to survive.

If the central thesis of the RIAA argument that downloading reduces their business is to hold, shouldn’t the amount of fileswapping activity inversely correlate with music sales? If fileswapping goes down and music sales also go down over the same period, perhaps what we are seeing is something that seems intuitively obvious to me: if you sue your customers for being enthusiastic over your products, over time they will stop giving a shit and eventually find new ways to have fun with that money. Who can weep for the Big Machine when it spends so much energy trying to run you over with its enormous treads? As I say over and over, until this behavior changes I will not be spending any money on any RIAA label’s music. When the new offerering of the Big Machine is absolute crap like the new John Mayer or Sting (both of which cause a reflexive channel change in my car), this is no great loss.

And yet, Apple is selling 500,000 songs online every week on a platform used by maybe 3% of computer users. I’m assuming that most folks who buy music from the iTunes store actually have iPods, so that further reduces it to maybe 1% of all computer users. This is not a huge amount of revenue overall, but it’s coming from a very small number of people. If/when everyone can tap in, I’d expect to see this number rise dramatically. Isn’t it obvious that the way to approach this is not to war with the customers but figure out new ways to take their money? Jeez. Any business that is willing to work so hard to lose me as a customer, I’m willing to stop buying from.

Addenda #1: Moby hates this too

Addenda #2: The folks from Downhill Battle weigh in on why they don’t like the iTunes music store. Not sure I buy their whole argument, but it is worth reading.

Legal ROMs

Here’s a company that is selling legally licensed MAME ROMs, an outfit called StarROMS. Thus far, it looks like only Atari is on board, but I would expect others to come around. It’s a no-lose proposition for the game companies. They make no money when you download their ROMs from some overseas FTP site, so even if there isn’t much money in this way, it’s more than the zero they currently see. Customers get a chance to buy legal ROMs, do the right thing, and don’t have to waste their time hunting down pirate copies. $2.50 to buy a legal version of the Red Baron arcade game? Hell yeah, I’m on it. I already have a non-legal version but I want to show my support. When Galaga and Elevator Action are available, I’ll buy them too. These are the only ones I play anyway.

Wanted: One True Dork

Somewhere out there, there will be one very happy and very dorky person. Steve Jackson Games is looking to hire someone to develop a GURPS utility for them. You must have role played with GURPS to be considered. Good god almighty, there is a company that has a requirement for being a game dork before they will consider you. Man. I’ve never touched GURPS, so I’m not qualified. I was, however, considering applying for their webmaster position back in 1996, but that would have required dropping out of grad school to do it, so it’s probably just as well that I didn’t. Still, working for the game company of super-dorks, living in Austin, it could all be much worse.

Pirate Game

Here’s a personal admission: I’ve always had a weakness for pirates. Something about them, bloodthirsty and violent as they are, just gets the excitement of a young man going. I see on today’s Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator that there will be a rendition of Evil Stevie’s Pirate Game at this year’s Origins con. If I ever had a chance to play this game, I’d be all over it. I have a copy of the Blackbeard Avalon Hill game that I’ve never played but want to.

Now I understand

I see in my refer logs that a number of people come here by searching for “evil genius game”. Now I know why, as there is a computer game by that name in development (close enough to release for demos to be reviewed at Game Spy. It actually looks fun. Of course, for what five years now, I’ve had the game Before I Kill You Mr. Bond from CheapAss Games (apparently no longer sold due to threats from the Bond rights holders – glad I have a copy.)

Mame Geeking

I installed MacMame on my OS X box last night. I haven’t played any Mame games in a while, but I just wanted to get it in place for if (when) I do. My nice joystick that I’ve had for a few years is ADB, so I could buy a USB->ADB adapter for $49 or I could buy this Mame joystick for $100. Nice, no? The advantage of that would be that I could use both sticks to play Robotron and Battlezone and other two stick games.

In and around messing with these issues, Darin point out a link to CmdrTaco of Slashdot fame’s standup Mame console. That is highly cool, but I don’t think I’m up to building one.

Cyberpunk Game

I’m going to be giving this game a shakedown one of these days – Uplink: (subtitled “Trust is a weakness”). It is from Ambrosia Games, the purveyors of the highly addictive game Maelstrom (which I dutifully registered a shareware copy of 10 years ago.) This game seems to have the same vibe as Wizard of the Coast’s NetRunner. I can’t tell from the page if this is Mac OS X specific, but it always makes me happy to see Ambrosia coming out with kickass games that are solely for the Mac OS. I need a time wasting fun game like an extra aperature in my skull, but sometimes you need one to relieve the pressure.

No Title

Here’s something that looks cool. I was looking up something on the
library site for Simple Media Direct
Layer
and I saw a reference to Civil, a networked multiplayer game of
strategy set duing the (American) Civil War. Since I live in an former
battleground and keep running across more and more of the historical
markers in my neighborhood, my interest in the Civil War is increasing
(never saw the Ken Burns documentary that so inflamed everyone else –
yet another party I am late to). The beauty of SDL is that this thing
is available in Linux, Windows, MacOS X, and BSD versions. Nice! I
must check this out. Then the problem usually becomes the fact that I
have no one to play the game with.

No Title

Something else I saw on the Baen news server – an article by publisher
Tim O’Reilly about file
sharing
. I’ve grown used to people discounting my opinions on the
subject because I don’t make my living as a writer or musician, but
here is a man who makes his living publishing books making many of the
same points that get me sneered at.

One snippet:

Lesson 1: Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative
artists than piracy.

Let me start with book publishing. More than 100,000 books are
published each year, with several million books in print, yet fewer
than 10,000 of those new books have any significant sales, and only a
hundred thousand or so of all the books in print are carried in even
the largest stores. Most books have a few months on the shelves of the
major chains, and then wait in the darkness of warehouses from which
they will move only to the recycling bin. Authors think that getting a
publisher will be the realization of their dreams, but for so many,
it’s just the start of a long disappointment.

and another:

And overall, as a book publisher who also makes many of
our books available in electronic form, we rate the piracy problem as
somewhere below shoplifting as a tax on our revenues. Consistent with
my observation that obscurity is a greater danger than piracy,
shoplifting of a single copy can lead to lost sales of many more. If a
bookstore has only one copy of your book, or a music store one copy of
your CD, a shoplifted copy essentially makes it disappear from the
next potential buyer’s field of possibility. Because the store’s
inventory control system says the product hasn’t been sold, it may not
be reordered for weeks or months, perhaps not at all.