Tag Archive for Facebook

My Guild Isn’t Your Guild

Continuing on with my look into Facebook games, and in my look into why I dislike them…

When I played EverQuest, I met a person, we played together a little, and then I joined his guild.  Joining a guild attached me to a social unit and my one new friend turned into thirty new friends.  Now, I didn’t get along with all of them, but being bonded by the unit meant that we were at least civil, because he often wound up grouped together and working together toward goals.

In Facebook games, I invite a friend of mine into my super team, or as my neighbor, or whatever social unit the game has, and that’s the end of it.  I have 12 people in my zombie apocalypse survivor colony.  One of those 12 only have 3 people in his colony.  One of them has 50.  And so on.  Each of us has a unique view of the game world.  Our social unit is fictional, not real.

Facebook games are designed to make you grow your social units outside the game.  You are encouraged to post achievements on your wall, to share them with the world, and the idea is that a friend of yours will see it and decide to play the game also, hopefully joining your game social unit too, and that also a friend of your friend who saw your comment on that picture of your friend’s dog will click your name, see your wall, see your post from the game, and decide to be your friend and join you in game also.

This is completely backwards from the normal Online game socialization model.  Normally, you make friends in game and that friendship can grow outward.  On Faceback, you make friends outside of the game and hope to grow that friendship inward to the game.  That just seems wrong to me.

The Failure of Facebook Games

As I have been diving in to Facebook games, I discovered that in order to succeed in the games I had to add strangers to my friends list.  Unfortunately, this has a side effect that is quite bad.  As Facebook has become more popular and the use of Facebook Connect and other APIs has grown, my Facebook friend list travels with me lots of place.  I don’t mind my real friends following me around, but game strangers who I only added because I needed more people to advance in a game since no more of my real friends would play I don’t want them around.

Last year I bought a Palm Pre.  Best phone I’ve ever owned or used, absolutely love it.  One of its best features is Synergy, which is what they call the blending of profiles without syncing them.  So, I added my Gmail account, my Facebook, my AIM, my work Exchange account, and so on, and when I look at my contacts it shows them all, in one view, duplicates are combined into a single entry but not sync’d.  For example, I have my older brother as a friend on Facebook, a contact on AIM and an entry in Gmail.  In the Pre, I see his picture with a small subscript 3 telling me that this entry is a blending of three accounts.  If he updates his Facebook profile, that will automatically update in my phone, but items in his Gmail contact entry only change when I update them.

Combining my Pre with my recent use of Facebook games and suddenly I had dozens of people in my phone, with phone numbers, whom I don’t know.  This is the side effect, and this is why I removed all those people as friends on Facebook.  Going forward, playing games on Facebook is going to be harder, slower.

The failure of most Facebook games is this: you have to choose, sacrifice social for games or sacrifice games for social.  That’s a horrid dilemma for a social gaming platform.  Facebook needs a way for people to be game-friends that links them for the game but for nothing else, and gives people the option of allowing that relationship to grow and step outside the game.  Until that happens, I choose Facebook as a social platform, not a gaming one.

Additional Note: I have noticed that in some games you can get what I am calling “former friend benefits”.  Taking Hero World as an example, once I add a person to my Super Team, I can remove them from my friend list but my team size doesn’t decrease. While this prevents me from using them actively in the game (training, gifts, etc), I can still use them passively (my super team is currently 37 people, even though I only have 8 or so that are on my friend list) for content that requires team sizes of a certain level.

FarmVille

Looking at Facebook games I’m going to tackle a big one first: FarmVille.  The idea behind the game is that you build a farm, harvest crops and stuff for money which you use to build more farm.  There are two forms of money in the game, Coins and Cash.  Coins are what you get naturally just playing the game for most actions, Cash is what you can buy with real dollars.  Now, you can buy Coins with real dollars and you can get Cash through the game, but they are primarily obtained as first described.  You can also visit your neighbors’ farms and do chores to help them out.

Ring around the Character

Ring around the Character

One of the first things you are likely to notice if you go visiting other people’s farms is that the majority of them have something like pictured to the right.  A few carefully arranged objects, be they bales of hay or fences or whatever, so that your character can’t move.  See, when you click on things in your farm, like land to plow or crops to harvest or cows to milk, your character will walk over to those things and then do the work.  By restricting character movement, all actions are performed as you click on them instead of waiting for your character to walk to them.  This, of course, is preferred since the game involves lots of clicking and, if you go on long enough, big farms with lots of walking.  My farm doesn’t have this, because it looks stupid.  However, I have noticed that many of my neighbors stopped coming to do chores at my farm after the first time or two because without me putting up the barrier it just takes too long for them to do chores.

Packed in like things that are packed in tightly

Packed in like things that are packed in tightly

To the left here, you’ll see animals, the other large aspect of FarmVille.  Animals wander around if you let them, but this can lead them to finding their way into places behind things where you can’t click them, so most people just place them, click them and issue the “stay” command so they don’t move around.  As you get more animals, you need room for them and since space is scarce in this game, most people end up just packing the animals in a corner, sometimes in a pen, all lined up.  It makes for easier care, though PETA would be very displeased.  I let my animals wander, which only affects me since visitors interact with buildings (like chicken coops) and not individual animals.  Overall, like the barriers, lines of animals looks stupid, but the game doesn’t reward you for pretty, it rewards you for clicks.

The game also rewards you for spam.  I respect that FarmVille is intended to be a social game, but every time something happens in game there is a pop-up asking me if I want to post this event to my news feed.  I tend not to do these because I find them to be tacky.  Choosing that road limits my game, of course.  When I do chores, sometimes I get prizes, like special mystery eggs for feeding people’s chickens, but I don’t really get those prizes.  Instead, I get a pop-up that says I found an item to give away, and I have to post an announcement on my feed for people to click on so they can get the prize.  I never see these posts from other people because I long ago hid the FarmVille application since the constant bombardment of posts was destroying my ability to actually read real feed updates from my friends.  Facebook has evolved, and I probably could find a way to see what my friends have to say without game spam, but I’m too lazy to figure it out.  So, since I don’t see people giving away stuff, I don’t give stuff away.  Not by news feed spam anyway.

Reciprocity is the center of FarmVille.  When someone gives you a gift, you are able to send them a thank you gift, and it is really easy to do.  So in order to get gifts, you have to give some away.  In order to maximize your advancement in the game, you need items and the best way to obtain those items is to give those items away.  If, for instance, you want to build your stable for horses, you need items like nails and bricks and harnesses.  The best way to get those is to give them to other people.  It is sort of accepted in these games that if someone gives you an item, when you thank them with a return gift you should give them the same thing back.  So, give to others what you want to get for yourself.  Don’t worry about the cost, giving gifts is free, but I believe Facebook imposes a limit on the number of “invites” a game can send out per day, so make sure you only send to people who always return the love.  This is also why FarmVille is constantly asking you to post things to your news feed, because there is no limit to how often a game can post to your feed.

So, beyond the clicking and the gifting, what is there to do in FarmVille?  Design your farm!  However, very few people really do this as a good looking farm is less efficient than it can be, so most farms are just clumps of money earning with little eye for design.  I wanted to make my farm look as farmy as possible, but the game hindered me in that because a number of items, most noticeably many buildings, cannot be rotated.  This restricts the number of places I can put these items and have them make sense.  In the end, I was frustrated that I couldn’t get my farm to look the way I wanted.  All the pieces were there, I just wasn’t allowed to arrange them in the way I wanted.  This led me to not caring about my farm, which led me to playing less.  I began intentionally choosing crops that matured in 4 days so that I could return less often.  This decision restricted my choices of crops which further led me to not want to play.

Overall, the game is boring.  This parody commercial actually captures much of what I feel about the game.

Back to the beginning of this review, Coins and Cash.  FarmVille is made by Zynga and if you’ve been floating around the gaming end of the Intarweb you might have heard two things about them.  First, they have made buckets and buckets of money.  Second, they made that money, in part, by scamming people.  Games on Facebook make money in three ways if I understand it correctly.  The first is the old Internet standby of Ad impressions and clicks.  The second is direct sales (buying game cash).  The third is through partner referrals.  The third one is where the trouble pops up.  Essentially, you go into the game and click on the tab to buy game Cash and down at the bottom they have a bunch of deals.  You can buy 115 Cash for $20 direct, but they’ll give you 127 Cash if you click the Blockbuster link and sign up for an account (and pay for at least one month).  Now, from the consumer perspective, the Blockbuster link is the best deal because you can get a plan for $4.99 a month (plus some taxes and fees) and cancel after 1 month: 127 Cash for $5.  The reason they do this is Blockbuster is betting that they’ll turn enough of those first month people into subscribers (and they probably have details statistics that say something like 1 in 10 people who sign up remain subscribers for a year, 1 in 10 for 6 months, 3 in 10 for 3 months, and so on), so Blockbuster kicks back to Zynga an amount of cash per person that makes them want you to do the partner link instead of giving them a straight $20.  In fact, the values of Cash purchased direct are more than likely priced specifically to make you prefer the partner links.  $5 with Zynga only gets you 25 Cash, but $5 with Blockbuster gets you 127.  Where would you rather spend your $5?

But where does the scam come in?  It is in the other links.  You see, many people don’t want the hassle of signing up for Blockbuster, even if it is the “better” deal, so they’d rather just give cash for Cash.  Zynga directly accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and Paypal.  But not everyone has credit cards or use Paypal, however just about everyone has a cell phone.  Through a number of partners, Zynga accepts payment through cell phone.  You just click a link and then text a code to a number and you get your Farm Cash and the charge is just added to your next cell phone bill.  How easy is that?  Super easy!!  What is usually hard to tell, though, and is where people cry foul, is that some of these cell phone pay services charge a monthly service fee.  So while you might jump at the chance to send $20 to Zynga for FarmVille and just tack that $20 on your phone bill, the company handling all that money moving is going to require (usually in the fine print and terms of service that 99.99999999999% of people foolishly never read) that you subscribe to their service (which you do by simply authorizing the original charge with that code you text) which is often anywhere from $9.99 to $19.99 a month.  And, naturally, Zynga gets a kickback on that.  We could argue until the sun burns out about who is responsible, the consumer for not reading the terms, the service company for not making them more prominent instead of buried in legal jargon, or Zynga for not mentioning that those services charge a fee, but at the end the truth is that they are all responsible.  People should pay attention, service companies should be required by law to clearly and prominently explain their fees, and Zynga should section off those alternate payment methods under a label that says they charge a fee.

At the end of the day, FarmVille gets a “C” for being mildly amusing yet boring and annoying, but Zynga gets a giant “F” for being unapologetic money grubbing douchebags.  Making money isn’t evil, but you don’t have to be a dick about it.

Facebook Games and Friends

Lately, I’ve been diving into Facebook games so that I can see what they are all about.  Overall, I’m fairly disappointed in a good number of them.  Not in the game themselves, but in how they are implemented on Facebook.

I’m not new to online gaming.  I’ve got an Xbox 360 and there are people on my friend list there that I met playing Left 4 Dead or Burnout Paradise or some other game.  I’ve played MMOs and I know people from EverQuest and World of Warcraft and other games I’ve dabbled in.  I understand, and actually desire, the need for other people.  However, the way games integrate into Facebook, it requires me to be extra vigilant in how I handle my gaming friends.

In order to progress in most of these games, you need friends.  I suppose you could spam messages out to all the people who are your real friends and beg them to play, but not everyone wants to play Facebook games, so it is not uncommon to need more game friends than your real friend list gets you.  Most games, on their pages, have discussion boards where people can ask to be added as friends.  Now, I can’t just add you as a FarmVille friend, I have to add you as a Facebook friend.  Facebook does allow me to add people to lists, of which I have one called “Not” for people who are not my friends, and manage what they have access to and then I can hide them from my news feed so that I never see their stuff, but it just seems like hoops I am jumping through.

A perfect example of this is a game called Hero World.  It is fun, if tedious at time, but the main element is that the number of people in your super team directly influences how powerful you are.  So, people with more friends are more powerful.  Scouring my list of real friends, I came up with 9 who wanted to play Hero World.  With the max team size somewhere around 250, clearly my team was weak, and therefore I was weak.  Moreover, I found that in order to buy bases and continue growing my own character I needed more friends.  I utilized my “Not” group and made some new “friends”.  Yay!  I’m more powerful!  And now I’m getting spam from people I don’t know!

Perhaps I’m just missing the point, perhaps I just don’t get it, perhaps I am becoming the old man screaming at the kids to get off his lawn, but to me a “friend” is someone I know.  What passes for “friends” on Facebook just don’t seem to fit the definition.  Facebook already makes a distinction between a friend and a fan, so why not allow someone to be application level friends where we can play a game together without the instant intimacy of being a “friend”?

Anyway… having been banging at some Facebook games for a while now, I’m going to start putting up reviews of them in the near future…

Movie Round-Up: January 29th, 2010

This week is “three word title” week…

When in Rome:

Since I’ve already admitted to liking chick flicks and romantic comedies, I won’t bother pretending I don’t want to see this.  And Kristin Bell is just all kinds of awesome.  Her performance in Veronica Mars means that I’ll see anything she’s in for decades.  Besides, this looks to be hilarious.  I may not make it to the theater to see this one because of time and money constraints, but I want to.  If you have the means and the desire, go see it.

Edge of Darkness:

I went to a screening of this on Tuesday and just before the show I tweeted and posted on Facebook that I wanted this to be good.  Luckily, it was.  I haven’t seen the original mini-series.  I want to, it is in the Netflix queue.  But word on the street is that it is great.  While I wouldn’t call this movie great, it was intriguing and kept my attention the whole time.  The only real downside to this film is Mel Gibson’s accent and nasally voice.  At times it threatens to ruin the film, but never quite does.  Every other performance here is nearly flawless.  I would warn, however, don’t go in expecting an action thriller.  There is action, but most of the story unfolds slowly over its almost two hour length and is only punctuated by action.  To me, this movie is worth the price of admission.

Singularity

Over two years ago on this blog I decided I was going to investigate the idea of building a game where the player was only allowed to create one character.  From thinking about it on my own and from discussions on message boards, I came to realize that most MMOs simply couldn’t do it.  Mainly because their design has actually come to not only expect but actually count on players playing more than one character.  With shared bank space to easily swap items and continuing to limit characters in the number of trade skills and other aspect, as well as encouraging people to play alts and race through the old game again and again removing as many barriers to speedy leveling as possible, you simply couldn’t release a clone of any current DIKU-style MMO that only allowed one character.  You’d need to rebuild the game from the ground up.  And most MMO players simply weren’t interested.

Enter the Facebook game.

By default, the design of almost every Facebook game is that you only have one character.  As well, there is only one world and everyone shares it.  It is this element, and this element alone that has me taking a second look at the Facebook games that I originally dismissed.

The game play of most Facebook games still irritates me.  Some of them are what I refer to as “intensely casual”.  They are casual in that they require very little effort, but they are intense because their design is that there are actions to take and buttons to click all the time.  These games often provide so much micromanagement that a player can get lost in there quite easily.

I’d love to see some games that can dial back that intensity, like D&D Tiny Adventures (though they go a little too far and it barely feels like I’m playing a game at all), and I’ll keep looking for them.  Sadly, though, Facebook games are almost less diverse than traditional MMOs, so it won’t take long at all to go through them.

But maybe this is what it takes.  I said that to do one character in one world that MMOs would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, and maybe Facebook games are where that rebuilding can happen.

Do You Play Facebook Games?

I have to admit that the casual games on Facebook fascinate me.  However, their “abuse” of social networking keeps me away from many of them.  Every time a friend of mine updates me with some event in a game, or invites me to play, I hide all statuses from that game.  In a similar fashion, anyone on my Twitter follow list who enables the twitter features in most games that offer them will be unfollowed.

To date, my foray into Facebook games has been two fold.  On one hand you have games like Scrabble and other board games where you challenge people and play, or go looking for open games and play.  On the other hand you have things like Farmville and Mafia Wars (the Zynga games) where in order to succeed you have to spam and invite your friends and join groups of people you don’t care about just to be able to progress.  It is that latter group of games that turns me off.

So, what about you?  Do you play Facebook games?  If so, which ones?  If so, what draws you to them?

The Screening Secret Handshake

Once upon a time, I thought that in order to see an advance screening of a movie certain things had to occur.  A) You had to live in LA/Hollywood.  Or 2) You had to know someone on the inside.  Or D) You had to be lucky.

In my younger days, I’d only ever seen “Stay & See” screenings.  That’s where you’d pay to see one movie and then be allowed to stay and see a screening of a not yet released film, or you’d pay to see a screening of a soon to be released film and then get to stay and see some movie that’s already been out a couple of weeks.  The last of these I went to was in 1993, and it was Son In Law (yeah, the Pauly Shore movie) coupled with either Life With Mikey or For Love Or Money (both Michael J. Fox movies).  I can’t remember which was the screening and which was the released film.  But it doesn’t matter.  Anyway, a few years ago, I finally realized number 2 from above and met someone on the inside, someone who worked for a movie promotion company.  Through them I got to see a few movies, but there were times they couldn’t get passes, or couldn’t get enough for everyone.  But at some of these screenings, I met people who let me know that while number 2 was good, D was better and you could minimize the luck part of the equation.

People have asked me, in person, in email and on message board, “How do you to see so many movie screenings?”  Partly because I just want to, and partly because of the FTC ruling, I’ll tell you.  The answer is… I Googled.  Obviously, I don’t use Google to find passes anymore, but it is where I started.  “free screenings” was what I searched for and it lead me to a number of really awful websites and blogs, but by doing the legwork and looking through many of those facades, I found a few places, legitimate places, to acquire passes to free movie screenings.

Before I go on, keep in mind that I live in Atlanta, and these sites are the ones that best service me as someone who lives in Atlanta.  If you Google and search yourself, you can probably find other sites that better service where you live.

Further, if you do get passes to movie screenings, remember, you are a guest and are getting to see a movie for free.  So, don’t be an asshole.  Always put your phone on silent, don’t answer it, don’t text.  Don’t talk during the movies.  Don’t cut in line.  Don’t let twenty friends cut in line with you in front of the people behind you who managed to get there on time (you know, letting one or two people join you in line is fine, but when you have to ask the line to move back and make room, you’ve gone overboard).  Be kind, be courteous, and enjoy your free movie.

That said…

My current favorite place is Shakefire.  They do reviews for movies, music, TV and video games.  They also have columnists who occasionally talk about other stuff.  They have a community built around their forums.  And of course, they give out passes for movie screenings.  You have to join their site to have a chance, and they seem to favor people who participate in the forums over people who are just there to leech passes.  But hey, if you are there for the passes, the least you can do is go post about movies you’ve seen and what you thought.  The whole point of screenings is to get the word out anyway, so, get the word out.

CHUD is another place on the net for reviews and such, and they also give out passes and do other contests, but you’ll have to work a little more for these as they usually ask a question or two you need to answer in order to enter.

Film Metro is a good site for screenings, but they don’t give them out.  Instead you have to keep an eye out for when they become available and claim them.  Sometimes you get to know when, sometimes it just happens.

Another big player is GoFoBo.  This is a site actually run by a couple of movie promotion companies.  With them, sometimes screening just open up and you can grab a pass or two.  Mostly, however, you need a reservation code.  Codes are given to various websites or radio stations or newspapers or other outlets as part of promotions intended to drive traffic.  People used to post GoFoBo codes all over the internet, but GoFoBo has been cracking down lately and convincing people to post links to the partner websites instead.  Finding links for these partners is sort of hit and miss searching, but one place that seems to get a steady flow of them is this thread over at FatWallet.  The FatWallet thread is also a good place to find out which radio stations or other websites in your area give out movie passes.  That link will always take you to the last post in the thread, so you may have to read back to see anything recent you may have missed.  Do them a favor, and make sure you actually visit partner sites and look around, the codes are meant to drive traffic, and a couple minutes of your time is worth the free movie pass you just got.  GoFoBo also runs groups on Facebook, just search there for screenings or gofobo.

Also don’t forget to check out local publications like Creative Loafing or other print media who often have pass pickups at their offices, or will post ads about pass pickups at local businesses.

Anyway, there you have it.  I check those sites about once a day, maybe twice, and in general I end up seeing a screening a week (though sometimes there are weeks with none, and sometimes there are weeks with three or four or more).  To me, the key here is that if you go to see screenings, make sure you tell people about the movies you saw.  Tell friends, post on message boards, write a blog.  The screenings are meant to get the word out about the movie, so, get the word out.

Dragon*Con 2009: Day Zero

It is Thursday, the day before Dragon*Con officially begins, and like every year that means registration.  Some years it is a tiring journey downtown after work followed by a couple or three hours spent in line and then a trek back home to finish packing and sleep before making the real journey down on Friday for Con.

This year, however, the wife and I decided we’d just extend our hotel stay by one day so that our trip down for registration would end in us hanging around and meeting people and stumbling back to our room when we get tired.

Dragon*Con this year is going to be a little different for me.  Normally, I just post daily wrap-ups, but thanks to my purchase of a Palm Pre, I’ll be a little more “on time”.  First and foremost, the Pre has that awesome synergy thing you may have heard about, and what that means is that it blends my calendars from several sources into one display without syncing the calendars and duplicating stuff.  And with the folks at Dragon*Con providing a Google Calendar of events, it means I won’t really need to carry around the book and schedule, it will all be on my phone.  Next, with the use of Twitter and TwitPic, as well as Facebook, I’ll be able to snap photos from my phone and immediately get them out to all the people.  So, if you’d like to see them, here is me on Twitter, and here is me on Facebook.  I’ll try not to annoy people too much, but I make no promises.

So much to do, so much to see, so exciting… You know, the idea of PAX intrigues me, and I want to go, but I never will.  Dragon*Con is just so much… more.

Of course, it helps if you get to registration early.  They were open until 11, but they cut off the line at 9:30 at about where they estimated it would take two and a half hours to get through… we were beyond that point.  Registration opens again at 8 in the morning.  So without our badges we went down to the Marriott bar, Pulse, and hung around chatting and people watching… In New York, they say if you hang out in Times Square, you’ll see a million people walk by.  At Dragon*Con, the place to stand is in the Marriott.

Are You Ready for the Cloud?

If you listen to the pundits of social media and other new frontiers, and especially if you listen to Google, the future is the Internet.  The future is Cloud Computing.  This isn’t a new idea, of course, but just the latest iteration on one branch of computer advancement.  In the beginning, computers were expensive, and big.  Because of that, there developed two schools of thought:

  1. Work on making computers cheaper and smaller so everyone could have them.
  2. Leave the real computer giant and expensive, but find a way for people to cheaply access them.

Out of the first branch, you got the home PC.  Out of the second branch, you got the mainframe and the terminal.  Lots of people like to think of mainframes as being a dead technology, because since everyone can have a PC on their desktop, who needs a giant computer that does everything?  Well, lots of companies still do.  Even with advanced in chip technologies, there are still some very large mainframes being sold, and people still connect to them with terminals, or at least terminal emulation on a PC or a thin client.  I worked for a number of years at Norfolk Southern, and putting PCs in a train yard out in the middle of nowhere was just begging for vandalization and theft… but, put a cheap thin client terminal that does nothing but connect to the network and the mainframe, theft goes way down.  Until I got into programming, I made a pretty good career out of working with 3270 and 5250 and all the things that went with it.

But Cloud Computing takes things a step beyond the old terminal/server paradigm.  It abstracts, and it makes the terminal more generic while connecting to many servers.  Think: web browsing.  If you are reading this, then your terminal (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc) is connecting to my server.  Later, you might connect to Facebook’s server, or CNN’s, or any number of other servers out there.  The one thing that Cloud Computing wants to retain though, is the idea that nothing is stored on the terminal.  Google is a strong proponent of this.  With Gmail, and Bookmarks, and Docs, and Calendar, and many of their other products, they want to take all your files and all your work off your PC and put it on the web, where you can get at it with any terminal.  In fact, Google is going so far as to throw their hat into the ring, not just with their Chrome browser they put into beta last year, but with a full blown Operating System intended to be the window you see the Internet through.  Some people, after seeing the announcement of the Google OS, jumped right into the “Game On Microsoft” mindset, like Google was planning on trying to take down the big cheese.  But John Gruber wrote an excellent write up of putting the Google OS into context.  The fact is, all Google wants is to make a netbook style PC that boots quickly, connects (wirelessly) to the Internet, and gets you all of your apps and documents in the Cloud.

Personally, I’m fully behind the idea.  I have a laptop that I hate using.  The reason is because its battery lasts about 2 hours, however, every time I turn it on that’s easily 5 minutes, and it takes around 2 minutes to get out of hibernation (longer if I put it to sleep with a few applications open).  Its bulky, its hot, and if I’m away from a power source, I really only end up getting about an hour or so out of the battery if I’m using it in short spurts.  That kind of performance is why devices like the iPhone and blackberries have become popular, much longer battery life to be able to jot down notes or check emails on the go.  The only reason I have not yet gone down the mobile device route is that when I write I still prefer a full keyboard (or at least a compact keyboard like the ones you find on a notebook or netbook).  So a netbook that boots faster, runs cooler and utilizes the battery well is exactly what I am looking for.

But, as the title questions, am I ready to ditch my desktop for a workspace in the clouds?  I stopped saving bookmarks to my browser years ago, mostly because it was annoying to have a bookmark in IE but not Firefox, or at home but not at work, and most programs to sync them up were annoying to use.  I still use Outlook for email, but I’m just about ready to plunge into Gmail, especially since my webhost offers a deal where I can have all my domain email addresses be handled by Gmail.  Plus, it finally came out of Beta recently. (snicker)  I do use Google Docs for a few things, but I’m not totally sold on putting all my files out there, especially the ones I want to be sure that no one sees (get your mind out of the gutter, I mean design docs and other things I’m writing).  Recently, I’ve stopped playing most PC games in favor of web based titles, and with the exception of Free Realms and Battlefield Heroes, they’ll all run in any compliant browser.  Even so, I think I’d be perfectly happy having a desktop sit in the corner just for games while having a netbook for all my other tasks.

I might not be ready to sail among the clouds just yet, but I think I’ll get there soon enough… how about you?