Trying an experiment this evening.  Should have posted this yesterday, but, alas, I did not.  Anyway, the idea goes like this:

Google Plus Netflix: a bunch of people watch the same movie at the same time though Netflix Instant and run a live text commentary on Google Plus.

This could be awesome.  This could suck.

My main impetus for doing this is the idea of the commentary, but in such a fashion that it was “recorded” but not a podcast, and possible so that if someone watches the movie later they can read the commentary on roughly the same pace.  Also, using a text medium like this means that there is no limit to the number of participants, so I’m hoping we get lots of voices, from the funny mocking tones to the knowledgeable remarking on production values.

Of course, the latter may be in short supply since I chose Birdemic: Shock and Terror as our inaugural film.

If you want to participate, go here.  The movie will start at 10 PM Eastern.

Sneakin’ Around: Finding Dungeons

In a companion piece to yesterday’s rant on using the dungeon finder tool, playing a character who doesn’t kill means that the tool is useless to me.  So at least on this character I’ll never have to deal with that frustration.  The dungeons, however, aren’t useless.  For example, Wailing Caverns has a quest for picking up serpentblooms, which are ground spawns, so that means I can do it.  The trouble is that I have to actually go and find the dungeon.  I suppose trouble isn’t the right word, since I actually enjoy the exploring.

I know where the Deadmines are, but taking a peek at spoiler sites tells me that there aren’t any quests there for me to do as they all involve killing stuff.  Ragefire Chasm also appears to only have kill quests.  Shadowfang Keep as well.  I’m betting that most of the dungeons are going to be this way.  But many of them will also have herbs and ore to gather and mine.

In the meantime, I’m still traveling the world… just yesterday I ran all over Loch Modan looking for lost pages, which I found, and then I was ushered off to the Wetlands.

26 and roaming…

Movie Round-Up: December 23rd, 2010

This week’s Movie Round-Up is all messed up.  Two of these movies opened yesterday and one opens on Saturday, with nothing opening on Friday and me posting on Thursday… oh well… let’s get on with it…

Gulliver’s Travels: (official site)

I want to mock this film.  I tend to dislike when Jack Black is all Jack-Black-ing out, making faces and saying silly nonsense.  But I watch this trailer and am reminded that it’s by the same people who did Night at the Museum which was such a fun movie, and this movie looks fun too.  It is highly unlikely that I’ll go see this in the theater for $10, let alone pay $13 to see it in 3D, but I can easily see myself watching this at home at some point and feeling good about it.

Little Fockers: (official site)

I tolerated Meet the Parents.  I disliked Meet the Fockers.  I’m now willing to openly hate Little Fockers.

True Grit: (official site)

Having completely come to terms with the fact that Hollywood is content with turning out remakes and sequel, I first saw this trailer with an open mind… and it was blown away.  Early reviews of this film are heaping praises on the little girl and on the film overall, and it makes me very excited.  I will, somehow, manage to see this movie.  Soon.  If for no other reason than because I can’t let Jonah Hex be the last western I’ve seen on the big screen.  That must be rectified.

Also, Black Swan goes wider this week and might actually be playing in a theater near you…

The Sacrifice

Left 4 Dead: The SacrificeThis shouldn’t be news to anyone who is a fan of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, but yesterday the final chapter of The Sacrifice comic came out online.  Such a good story.  Go read it.  I’ll wait.

These sorts of things are why I love Valve Software.  Not only are their games well built and fun to play, but they understand story.  From Half-Life to Left 4 Dead to Portal to even Team Fortress 2, a game will little story of its own but surrounded by tons of great videos and other stuff.

Anyway, to get back on the Zombie Wednesdays bandwagon, yesterday also saw the release of The Sacrifice DLC for L4D and L4D2.  It’s great to fill in the gap of how our original survivors get down to New Orleans, and it’s also nice that they released it for the original game as well, just in case there are some purists out there still clinging to the L4D2 boycott and never bought the sequel.

Want to play?  On Live, I’m Jhaer.  Friend me, but also be sure to tell me who you are…

Hulu Plus

Yesterday, Hulu announced the details of their Hulu Plus plan.  Of course, being the Internet, it was immediately filled with people saying it was too expensive, not enough content, and that the inclusion of ads was a deal breaker.

You know, on the content end, they are probably right, but that it something that will get better over time.  But the price and ads…  Think about your cable service if you have it.  You pay XX for TV and XX for Internet access.  In my case, with Comcast, those prices would be about $50 and $45 respectively (it varies based on the package you get).  Personally, due to issues with Comcast not having a DVR capable of letting me record 6 shows at a time and their OnDemand service not having everything I already pay for for free, I kicked the TV part to the curb and just pay for Internet now.  At the moment, I torrent, but it means I watch shows a day or two late — minimum (someone has to upload it before I can download it).  But if Hulu were to give me access to even half of those shows on a completely OnDemand basis for $10 a month, even with commercials, I’ll take it.

And about those commercials… oddly enough, Ctrl+Alt+Del ran a related comic and rant.  Are commercials really that bad?  Yeah, sometimes they are annoying, but in general they are informative, about products or shows that might interest me, and then, if I want, I can go buy them.  Since switching to torrenting, where they always edit out the commercials, I’ve been missing my advertising.  New shows will pop up out of the woodwork and be a few episodes in before I’ve even heard of them (you know, because I don’t spend my time trolling TV Network and entertainment gossip websites).  I’ll go to the store and see a product on the shelf and say, “Hey! This is great!” and find out that it’s been available for months, only I’d never seen an ad for it so I didn’t know it existed.  And seriously, why is Hulu for $10 with commercials bad but cable TV for $50+ with commercials okay?

Personally, I’m excited.  This sort of OnDemand a la carte TV watching is exactly what I want.  Sure, torrenting is free, but I’d much rather support the shows I watch in some way AND not have to deal with the annoying limitations of cable TV providers.  I just wish the Xbox version wasn’t being delayed to 2011.


The main problem I have with yesterday’s video is that I’m pretty sure the scenarios he gets into at the end are right.  For the most part, I have remained neutral on Xbox achievements.  I like getting them, but rarely do I ever spend time playing a game in a manner I do not enjoy just for an achievement.  For example, there is one in the game Assassin’s Creed for watching all the “glitches” and while playing I did try to hit my button when I noticed a glitch but at the end of the game I didn’t have that achievement because I had obviously missed one.  There is also one for getting all the flags, and while I loved noticing and finding flags while playing, when I got to the end I didn’t have them all.  I loved playing the game, it was fun, but when I finished I did not go back and try to finish off these achievements.  I know some people who cannot leave a game until they’ve gotten every single one.

On the other hand, I have a credit card with a rewards program and I use the card at every single opportunity in order to not miss out on the free points which turn into free gifts later.  So for me, the dividing line appears to be virtual rewards versus real rewards.  If Xbox achievements came with Xbox Live points that I could use to buy items from the Marketplace, I’d probably spend more time trying to get them all.

After watching the video, I thought to myself, “You know, sometimes I do forget to brush my teeth. Would I remember it every day if I earned points for doing it?”  I do brush my teeth with fair regularity, enough that I don’t have cavities or other teeth issues (partly, I suspect, this is due to habits I formed while having braces on my teeth for almost 5 years, the manner in which I eat and the amount of licking, probing and sucking I do throughout the day keeps food particles from settling between my teeth and in my gums), but if brushing every day earned me some “free stuff” then I have to admit, I probably would do it every day.

Do I want to see point systems and rewards on everything?  Not really.  But I do expect it to come.  I just hope that the power to manipulate behavior with games is handled with some care as it invades more aspects of life.

Putting the Game in Facebook Game

After quitting FarmVille I went I on to play a number of other Facebook Games, and for the most part, they all play the same.  On one hand you have FarmVille, where you plant things and then wait for harvest.  On the other hand you have Hero World, where you have an energy stat and you can click on things until your stat runs out and then you wait for the stat to recover.  At best, the only real “game” there is in strategically deciding what to click before waiting.

Just yesterday, I decided to give SOE’s The Agency: Covert Ops game a try.  In some aspects, it is the same as a bunch of other games: you click, you wait, etc.  But in addition to that, as Darren posted about today, there are some actual games.  Just in the few minutes I played, I was given a nifty game where a computer screen is asking for an access code and I am shown which letters on the keyboard have fingerprints and I have to guess the word.  For example, the access code is a 5 letter words and the keys with prints are E, R, V and N.  I type in N-E-V-E-R, success, and move on to the next word.

So, now I’m on the hunt for Facebook Games with actual Game in them rather than just clicking, waiting and spamming.  I’m open to suggestions…

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Yesterday, Zombieland was released on Blu-Ray and DVD.  It was probably one of my favorite movies of 2009.  I mean, I paid to see it twice in the theater.  If you didn’t see it and you can handle a little zombie gore with a dash of comedy, then I highly recommend it.  If you haven’t seen it, or if you don’t plan to, then you missed out on one of the best opening sequences since the Dawn of the Dead remake used Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around”.

To help you out, here it is.  Be sure to switch it to 720p to give it a little more clarity, and turn off annotations to keep the viewing pure.  It’s not as good as seeing it on the big screen, but it’s still pretty damn good.  Enjoy…

Makers versus Managers

I read this yesterday, and I can’t gush about it enough.  Paul Graham has managed to perfectly nail down exactly the problem that exists between the people who create (programmers, writers, etc) and the people who manage them.

Ultimately, this illustrates the best way to be a good Project Manager.  As a PM, your job is to be the conduit between the development team and the rest of the world.  You meet with your team on their schedule, leaving them large chunks of time to do the creating, and you meet with the other managers on their schedule.  If you have to do a meeting between the developers and the managers, you have to schedule it out a few days and either make it the first or last thing of a day (first is better, putting it at the “end of the day” can mean disaster to the developers who might be hitting a creative stride at 4 p.m. when you want to have your meeting).  I hear that good book editors work the same way, checking in on the writer when its needed for progress reports but not scheduling daily meetings to try to “keep them on task”.

Sadly, most Project Managers I’ve worked with over the years end up becoming just another manager, scheduling meetings with the dev team on a manager’s schedule and getting upset that the dev team’s productivity is dropping, resulting in more meetings and less productivity.

I really hope this article gets around and people take it to heart, because it really is true, and it would really solve a lot of problems.

Henry Poole is Here

9 out of 13 nots.
for being about faith without being preachy

Technically, this movie opened yesterday, and I should have put up the review then.  But I already had two reviews set to go up, and three posts in one day seemed a tad crowded to me.  Besides, I don’t think many people are going to rush off and see Henry Poole is Here on a Friday night.  It is more of a lazy Sunday morning movie.

Henry Poole is dying.  Although, we never learn from what, he does say he won’t be around long.  But he’s gone back to his childhood home… or at least he tried.  Instead, he bought the house down the street.  He has a Hispanic neighbor who used to date the man who previously owned the house (who died of a heart attack in the kitchen).  He also has a neighbor whose husband ran out on her and their child, a daughter who hasn’t spoken in a year.  And he’s got a water stain in the shape of Jesus in his stucco.

Its that last thing that causes the most problems.

Henry Poole is Here is a movie about faith, about belief in something greater, but at no point does it come out and shove any particular religion down your throat.  It also never says anything remotely close to people who don’t believe going to Hell or anything.  It is more a message of, “Having hope is better than having no hope.”

I enjoyed it.  Not the greatest film ever made, but far from the worst.  I can think of plenty of worse ways to spend an hour and a half.