Fasting and Feasting

21 11 2010

My youngest's Turkey Hat

So, this post marks the end of a 2-day media fast suggested by a small group lesson I had on Thursday night.  No TV, email/web only for work (and I also used it to read the bible…Biblegateway.com is just too darn fast compared to finding verses in the bible.) :), and only positive/”christian” music.

The idea is that by doing these types of fasts, we do a couple of things:

1) Recognize our reliance (and often, addiction) to these things.

2) Take more time to do quality, personal interactions instead of vegging out in front of a screen.

3) Pay more attention to what’s going into our heads/hearts through media saturation.

I also finished recently, with a 30-day social media fast.  I would check facebook for no more than 5 minutes a day, and only about once per week, (just to ensure no one was trying to get a hold of me, that couldn’t otherwise), ZERO twitter, and tried to generally avoid anything that was very self-centered, online-wise.  I ditched the Frontierville, stopped trying to one-up my friends quirky comments, and all that jazz associated with the very me-centric life of an online social network.

From these two experiments, I have a couple of reflections and remarks:

1) I found that I am too dependent upon these technologies.

I don’t think it’s right to say that there’s anything inherently bad about them.  I just think that like money, there’s nothing wrong with it.  It’s when we rely too much on money, or social networking, or media, that things get dicey.  With my 30 day experiment in social networking, I found that I was actually having to literally force myself in abstaining that first week or so.  I would walk to the computer, sometimes even get to the point of booting up the browser before I said to myself, “Wait a second, I’m not doing this.  I agreed to not do this.”

That’s pretty sickening.

2) My reliance on these mediums did decrease with my abstinence.

Meaning, that after that first week with the social media, and after not using the television as much, or the internet for more than work, I found that I simply COULD deal with it.  That my life didn’t fall apart, and that while sure, there were some “boring” times, I tended to fill those times with what I could do, which was read (sometimes even, GASP!, the Bible!  Go figure!).

3) The time I would normally be consuming television especially, was the time I found I interacted more with my children.

The last two days have been busy and interesting, but mostly because my kids have taught me how to use my down time.  I’ve made more crafts and spent more time reading with my children in the last two days than I have in the last three weeks, easily.  Which is not to say I don’t do those things normally… I do.  But I don’t give as much time and effort to that.  I don’t take the time to grow my kids’ creativity.  I just sit down with them, set them up so they can color or paint or whatever, and leave them be.

This weekend, I found my eldest daughter has an amazing creativity in her.  She came up with “turkey hats”.  Now, you may not know what a turkey hat is.  That’s because she created them.  What you do is you take a one-inch tall strip of yellow (in retrospect, it would probably make the effect better with brown) construction paper, measure it to fit on your head.  Then, in the center of it, you glue or tape two googly eyes, a small orange triangle, and a little squggly strip of red (the gobble-gobble, as my daughter called it, but I think it’s called the “snood” or “wattle”…can’t find consensus online) to go on the side of the triangle to hang down.  These parts are glued or taped on under the eyes, with the triangle protruding down past the head-circumference strip.

Next, you cut at least four “feathers” out of blue, yellow, red, and orange construction paper (you get a great feather effect by “fringing” the sides, by the way), and glue or tape those sticking up off the back.  You join the strip in a circle, and voila!  You have a turkey hat!

The point is that my daughter designed, crafted, and proudly wore this cute thing all by herself.  We all joined in.  We all have turkey hats now.  I love it.  I wouldn’t have taken the time to get all the supplies for my daughter and helped her glue/tape some of these things (most likely, at least) if I was sitting and watching TV or checking my facebook, or whatever.

Over all, I think my conclusion here is that I obviously love technology, the opportunities it provides and the conveniences of these things.   But I need to be more aware of the impact on my life.  These conveniences don’t come without a price.  I’m grateful for what my experiments taught me, and I think I’ll be a more informed consumer of these technologies in the future.  (And I have a turkey hat now.  Bonus!)

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The Predictions Post, 2010 Edition

14 02 2010

The Great Carnac

What a year 2009 was!  My previous post talked about some of the games that stole the show, and stole our goodwill, as well.  However, another post from the past that’s worth reviewing (and re-doing this year) is the one where I predict what would happen in 2009.  Surprisingly, I got a lot right.  Let me first suggest you check out the post from last year (so you know I’m not simply making this stuff up), and then let’s see how I did.  Also, at the end of this post, I’ll make some more predictions for the remainder of 2010.

Wii-HD

Now with the power of FOUR GameCubes!

First off, I bombed a bit with the WiiHD (which I called the Wii II).  While there have been hints and theories (I’m looking at YOU Michael Pachter…) nothing firm has been said about the next Nintendo home console.  And in retrospect, why should they?  They’re printing money on the consoles and their 1st-party software.  Soccer moms all over the world aren’t going to re-up to get HD graphics, because it’s highly likely that these same people don’t even know what they’re missing.  This story from the NPD Group (Sept, 2009) says that the majority of Wii owners only own that one console.  Only 14 percent owned a 360 or PS3.  So they don’t know what to compare visual fidelity with, so why would they care?  So, again, I failed there.  I still expect to hear WiiHD hard fact sometime this year, but the actual console release probably won’t be expected until 2011 or more likely, 2012.

Next, I got the PS3 predictions almost perfect:  I said they’d drop their price (they did), not give

PS3 Grill

George Foreman ain't got NOTHING on this!

up on the console, in favor of talking news of a new one (bingo), and that they would release some great exclusives (finally) as well as start to catch up with the 360 in terms of sales competition.  So, while they dropped their price significantly, leading to much higher sales (in fact, comparably selling with the 360 month after month in recent months), lifetime stats still show the PS3 firmly in 3rd place, at least in the US.  And with exclusive content like Uncharted 2, as well as Demon’s Souls, inFamous, Killzone 2, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, and many more on the PSN, 2009 was the first year it made sense to actually buy the darn thing.

No Blu-Ray for 360Predictions about the Xbox 360 are a little sketchy, because well, yeah.  While Blu-Ray DID win the HD-format wars, the 360 took the downloadable market route with the Zune HD store instead of adding a Blu-Ray drive to the console itself.  Again, this was a silly prediction in the first place, but I bombed it bad.  However, the 360 is firmly established as the 2nd place (sales-wise) home console.  It remains the lead SKU for many “now-gen” games, due to the ease of programming, and the ubiquity of the console, leading to a higher sales ratio.  This one, yeah.  I chalk it up as a rookie mistake. 🙂

No Half-Life 3StarCraft 2 hasn’t come out yet.  We’ll be lucky to see it in 2010, in my opinion.  And Diablo 3 is firmly in 2012, if you ask me.  However, I still stick to my guns that relative to Diablo 3, and in the United States, StarCraft 2 will NOT live up to expectations, sales-wise.  It may be an excellent game (I expect it will, with Blizzard at the helm) but it’s going to be primarily for those Asian markets, not the US, and US customers won’t attach as well.  Valve DID come out with Left 4 Dead 2, (which to be honest, was a surprise to MANY, not just myself), but no firm announcement on Half Life: Episode 3.

Finally, the Wii DID get storage support (although not in the form of another add-on device, but) through SD card playable games, and while my “pen” joke was silly, the peripheral wars wage on, with all sorts of add-ons, simulation-enhancers, etc…  Heck, even Nintendo previewed the “Vitality Sensor”.  Which I can’t figure out the value of yet…

And, the Nintendo DS remained the Knock-Out Champeen of the Century, with sales out of this world…Surprise, surprise…

2010 – The Next Generation (is announced)

Prediction #1

The Wii will remain far and away the #1 seller of the year in home consoles.  However, market share will decrease, as more and more 360 and PS3 units sell.  However, we will get some good, real information on the next Wii, which will have 1080p support, as well as Motion-Plus waggle built-in.  Storage will not be an issue, and they will entirely re-think the “channel” idea, for a more interactive interface.

Prediction #2

The PS3 will begin to sell monthly in higher numbers than the 360.  By the year’s end, the 360 will still likely have a higher penetration rate, but that margin will have decreased significantly.  This will be largely due to God of War 3 making a HUGE impact on the sales of the PS3, as well as the long-anticipated release of Grand Turismo 5, which will be an excellent game, and the one many people were waiting for prior to plunking that money down for the PS3.  The console itself will see one more price drop before the end of the year, although not nearly as significant as the one we saw near the end of 2009.  This new price drop will occur in late October or early November, to boost holiday sales.

Prediction #3

The 360 will see some true exclusives (something kind of rare in 2009), and those exclusives will kind of suck.  Not terribly, but they won’t move hardware as Microsoft had hoped, which helps the PS3 gain some market share, and keeps Nintendo as the leader for another year.

We WILL however, get not only specs on the next Xbox, we will get a release date.  This also will hurt sales of the current console, but with a price drop (again, around the holidays), this new system (set to release in early 2012) will be highly Natal-centric.  Speaking of the Project Natal, the add-on will be pretty successful, but will sadly go the “minigame” route, rather than be the “Milo” experience we all hoped for.  The Natal concept still promises a lot more possibility, however, so expect to see some great things (and finally the processing power to back it up well) in the new console.

Prediction #4

Playstation will get out of the portable business.  Seeing year after year of disappointing returns on the PSP brand, and with fewer and fewer developers putting quality product out there, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) will go instead into a market that is based upon the PS3’s connectivity.  Instead of being a simple fringe-user, hardly advertised benefit to the PSP, the new device will almost solely deliver the promise that the PS3 will be our “always” device for now and the future.  It will connect to let you play not only PS2-type games from the PSN, but it will also let you play different versions (or story-building side-missions) of the games you already purchased with the PS3, as well as do full voice-chat as a standard for every game that ships for the device.  It will be an e-reader as well, and will finally have two analog sticks.  It will be rumored to have six-axis controls as well, but will dump those at the last-minute to drop the price (which will be pretty exorbitant).

Prediction #5

We will get our first real view of how a service like “On-Live” will work, with a real product being REALLY available for consumer purchase around the time of E3.  While it won’t be a huge seller, it will sell enough subscriptions to remain in business, with a lot of promise for the future.

Prediction #6

Downloadable content and gaming will finally break the 25% (of total game sales) mark, and you’ll start to see major developer houses coming out with some top-shelf products ONLY available as downloads (at least initially…discs may come in the form of “Greatest Hits” styles).  Due to the success of Trials HD and Shadow Complex, CHAIR will be a huge leader in the new downloadable economy.

So that’s it!  My predictions for 2010 are locked in, and ready to be ridiculed.  Here’s hoping it’s another great year for games!

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Randomness (+1)

7 10 2009

DorkMasters Logo beta 1

So yeah.  I’m willing to bet no one is checking this anymore, so any audience I had, I’ve lost.   Then again, if anyone’s RSS-feeding, then this will definitely surprise you.  So if you’re that person:  Hey there.  Gotcha.

But…It’s been a while.  Let me explain what’s been stopping me from writing:

I’m LAZY.  Sure, it’s not just that, because I’ve got SO MANY ideas, that honestly, I don’t know where to begin.  But more than that, I’m just too indecisive and unmotivated to choose one and just plunge into the topic, and damn the rest.  But I’m here, so I’m trying to get that started again.

Let me tell you what’s on my mind lately, in no particular order, and with no agenda whatsoever.  But with the idea that if I purge my brain a bit, perhaps something will dislodge and allow my brain to think in a logical, (semi)concise manner and allow something noteworthy to come out next time on this blog:

So first off, I’m shopping for a new podcast.  As I like to listen to podcasts while working, driving, doing dishes (man, it’s tough without a podcast), laundry, or just to wind down before bed, I prefer something in audio-only form.  Video podcasts are awesome, but I’m finding about 20 minutes to be my cut-off.  I rarely have 20 minutes to sit and watch something (meaning ZERO multitasking) so audio fits the niche well, by being something I can focus on, while still doing something other than holding the iPod, or generally not distracting me while driving. 🙂  So any suggestions would be great.  I think I’ve listed podcasts I listened to previously, but just to avoid suggestions of the heavy hitters, I already do:

This American Life, Radio Lab, 1UP’s Listen Up, Rebel FM, Out Of The Game, and A Life Well Wasted (The last being very rare, but AWESOME…check it out, if you haven’t yet.  It’s Geek culture with This American Life/Radio Lab treatment.  Amazing stuff.).

So, yeah, suggestions welcome there.

Next on the non-agenda: I’m thinking of retrogaming.  I want to play something I haven’t yet (or never finished), but have no idea.  Preferably something from the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo era, although I’m not against going 8-bit either.  Again, suggestions welcome.  My typical genres are RPGs (fave on Genesis: Shadowrun, and SNES: Final Fantasy III), but I’m up for anything if it’s considered certified gold by you fine folk. 🙂

Combining the previous two, I’m considering (without much detail yet) creating a podcast that would be bi-weekly or even monthly (let’s be realistic, right?) talking all thinks dork, (video games, retro games, movies, webcomics, Geek television, etc.) and getting some fun people to talk.  The point being that while there’d be a topic or semi-structure intended with each podcast, that the people would be the focus, and that the personalities would be the most important thing.  So if we got off topic, but it was fun and interesting, then by all means, that’s where it goes.  (I’ve found those to be my favorite types, next to the super-slickly-produced works of art like ALWW, TAL and RadioLab.)  So yeah, I’m considering calling it “Dorkmasters” which to me is funny because 1) the nom de cyberspace “dorkmaster” is one I’ve used for years, and 2) it makes me think of “Bassmasters” which was a hugely popular and terribly boring (if you’re me) fishing show.  So, Dorkmasters would be similar.  Only interesting if you’re into our particular brand of geekery, but if the shoe fits, put LEDs on it and make it transform into a cool gun or something.  I don’t know if that last analogy fits, but you get the point.  (Or you don’t, in which case, Dorkmasters probably isn’t for you.)

Finally,  since OtakuMom won a LCD TV for our living room last year, I’ve dreamed of a linux box that would allow me to stream hulu and other online video to my TV, so I wouldn’t have to drag my wife to the computer for our weekly Office watching, or to watch Netflix streaming (which is amazing).

Eventually, I hope to remove the need to have cable, with all the internet content.  Saving, hopefully, some money.  (Although I’d still be paying Comcast for the internet, so yeah…)

I’ve got two old (OOOOOOoooold) crappy eMachines Pentium machines that I’m hoping to hybrid into that machine, and I’ve even gotten an Ubuntu install disc, but I can’t get the darn thing to install correctly.  But then again, time being what it is for an OtakuDad these days, I’ve not spent more than a couple hours on the project yet.  But I’ll definitely update once that’s something more than a half-cooked idea.

Soooooo…  Yeah, wasn’t that worth reading?  No.  Well, you did anyway.  And I told you I’d probably say “gotcha” to you.  So once more, Gotcha.  Ideas and comments welcome, and I’ll hope to write more.  This was fun.  Although I want a little more structure next time (I’m sure you do as well).

See you soon (hopefully), intertubes.

-OD





Social Network Experiment

27 05 2009

I’m trying to launch an ephemeral meme. (For a definition of a meme, click HERE.) Why? For the sake of trying. Probably the idea that I’m actually telling about it will kill it in its infancy, but still…I’m curious about how these things start, so yeah.

For this experiment, I’m using Twitter, the “all the rage with them kids these days” social networking application du jour, and asking you and anyone you know who tweets, to come up with a tweet that references something ironic but in the form of the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, and then adding the hashtag: #isntitironic

Nothing too hard.

Example (from the song): “It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife”

Example from my first tweet: “It’s like finding the coupon the day after the expiration.”

So, give it a shot. I’m curious to see how large it gets. You can always search twitter for certain words to make it easier to track, by the way, to check in on the progress of this little experiment. Just go to http://search.twitter.com and type in #isntitironic and we’ll see what we’ll see.

Please play along if you’ve got a Twitter account, and let’s see if we can’t start a meme!

Also, if you ARE on Twitter, please follow me @LarryEisner ! I appreciate it. Let me know you’re following me and I’ll be happy to follow back!