Sunday, October 12, 2008

Love and Copyrights

Money can't buy you love, but love can bring you money. In software the only sustainable way to earn money is by first creating love, and then hoping that some folks want to demonstrate that love with their dollars. - Daniel James

This is some of the most insightful pieces of ‘found wisdom’ (paraphrased from the notion of ‘found poetry’) I think I’ve ever heard. I’d say found poetry, but that makes me think too much about the ‘Unknown unknowns’ speech.

I’ve been planning on writing Yet Another The Book Was Better™ post about Choke, but I can’t seem to get into it. The notion above says more about one of the themes in that book (false love) than I could waste with a whole blog post. It also says a tremendous amount about the software industry (I especially like the part about Ruby on Rails is not a mother fucking industry).

Everyone pirates. Its one of the constants of the universe. As long as there has been software, there have been people that have wanted it, and invariably someone comes along and attaches a monetary value to that software. In the heyday of Richard Stallman and the free software movement, someone would make a piece of software because they wanted it, and assumed that someone else would want it as well, and in the scientific tradition they would share their creations. There was no exchange of money for goods, as it was considered research that would benefit the community as a whole.

Now that software development is a big business there are many obstacles to acquiring software through piracy. But the above statement points out the idea that few in the industry are coming around to, the idea that love for a property will drive people to purchase it. Its not enough to recognize a brand that represents easily copied digital bits, one must love it. From music to movies to applications, this holds true.

I have never purchased a piece of Microsoft software. I’ve pirated, using various means, (including a multi use university license copy of WinXP that I’ve used about 100 times) all M$ software I’ve ever used, barring the eMachines computer my parents bought me when I was 13. Its not a hatred of all things Gates, its a matter of being broke, and just not loving it all that much. I’ve downloaded music, yet gone to a show and purchased a copy of a CD directly from a band member working a merchandise table. Love. The first copy of an operating system I’ve ever purchased was Leopard. Its ridiculously easy to pirate Apple software, but I bought it nonetheless. Love.

When you’re selling something intangible, you have to do a little more than just protect it, and brand it. It has to make people fanatical. They have to feel that they like the company and team of developers that they are purchasing from. That way, it feels like being part of a community through your investment in their product. And in this world of big business and bottom lines, that’s hard to achieve.



Saturday, July 19, 2008

(meta)Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, and a Bit on Content Distribution


So, Joss Whedon of Firefly fame decided to do a no-budget musical about an evil genius played by Neil Patrick Harris. Its pretty funny, but what I find most important is what is says about content distribution.

He got this idea during the writer's strike I believe, an idea to do a show on the cheap to be released on the web, for free (for at time). Its available at this website

http://www.drhorrible.com/index.html

for free until tomorrow.

All three acts are up. I've only seen the first, but I like it so far. The guy that played the captain in Firefly is the bad guy superhero that wants to thwart Dr Horrible. Tell me that isn't just amazing.

The reason I bring it up is that it really says something about the way we consume media. I'm personally sick of awesome shows getting cut down in their prime from lack of viewers, despite the viewers they have being fanatics (Firefly, Arrested Development, the Clerks Cartoon), and this is an interesting way to begin to affect that change. Shows that are created, executed, and published by the creator, not some evil network that only cares about advertising dollars. TV on DVD has resurrected both Futurama AND Family Guy. This is the way I want to consume media from now on. I know its only three episodes, and it was so easily executed because it was done on the cheap, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done with a larger show.

Its offered free, then on iTunes for cheap, then as a DVD with speshul features we have come to expect with the medium. This thing could totally suck and I still would have posted about it. It is that important to commercial storytelling. I hope it does well.

This reminds me of the Steven Soderbergh movie that came out in 2005, Bubble. It was a piece of shit, I’ll be honest, but I was excited about it nonetheless.

He released this movie simultaneously in theaters and on DVD. There were no theaters showing it in New Orleans, so I did not get a chance to vote with my dollar. The big three theater chains (AMC, United Artists, and those other douchebags) pretty much refused to show it. It was shot in the foot from day one because theaters were afraid of what it represented.

I did buy the movie from Best Buy the day it came out. There was no theater to see it in, and I doubted Blockbuster would have it, so I voted with my dollar the best way I could. It became a self fulfilling prophecy though, no one saw it in theaters because it WAS NOT SHOWN IN THEATERS.

Its a shame that only big time creators like Joss Whedon and Steven Soderbergh can distribute their content the way they please, but I hope that it will signal a change in the way things are released. We don’t buy encyclopedias written by experts from traveling salesmen anymore, we have Wikipedia. The Washington Post reports on what people are saying in the Blogosphere. Hell, the fact that blogosphere is a word. Information is no longer throttled from the top and trickled down to the pedestrians. Why can’t entertainment be the same way?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Iron Mang

I have contributed twice now to the Opening-Weekend-Please-Marvel-Make-More-Movies-Like-This extravaganza. Awesome movies deserve recognition, and this is such a gem. See it if you haven’t, my 3 faithless readers. Stay after the credits, the cigarette will that much sweeter after the hot cameo action.

I tend to get a bit too excited when certain movies come out. The cast, the director, the screenwriter, they all come together as some multi-faceted movie masterpiece, or at least I think it will be.

This can be very dangerous.

If Iron Man had sucked on the scale of say, The Hulk, I would have been devastated. It would also have been yet another crushing blow to the burgeoning comic book movie market. The Law of Stupid Movie Goers states that “if you make it, they will come,” and it does not matter how bad, as long as there are enough explosions. But people aren’t all that stupid and they won’t get fooled multiple times. This causes a the Law of Diminishing Returns, one the movie producers pay close attention to. If the sequels keep sucking, and make less and less money, they will actually stop fucking the corpse of the current intellectual property and go find another corpse to defile. (see Batman)

This was such a tremendous achievement for Marvel, they actually announced their plans for World Domination yesterday. Actually, they just announced the comic adaptations in the pipeline at the time, but they’ve pretty much mapped out the next three years of soon to be comic book blockbusters. (Link to M&C rather than the actual Variety article because their site was being retarded)

Here’s hoping that Marvel rides this wave of good fan juju all the way to 2011 with the Avengers movie. If its bad, I will find their Chairman Emeritus Stan Lee, and punch him in the dick. Better yet, Avi Arad, his name seems to be attached to all of the properties, good and bad.

Realistically, all they have to do to make a good Avengers movie is do it like this. That book is so damn cinematic, it makes my teeth hurt. And I think they’re at least giving a nod in that direction with their choice of S.H.I.E.L.D head honcho. Who does this look like to you? Ring any bells, Motha**er?

Hint: Nick Fury was an old white dude in the original Avengers.

I hope they speak English in What.

Lest we forget the Marvel failures: Ghost Rider, Daredevil, The Hulk, Fantastic Four (BOTH of them)

I’m looking at you Avi.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Emacs Therapist


I had always heard about the therapist built into emacs, but I had never used it. Inspired by emacs wizardry and 9 megs of config files from Aaron, coupled with my desire to try new editors, I started in earnest.

What is the first thing I do? Try out one of the many time wasters built into emacs of course, emacs doctor...

A transcript, only because I never blog, and I need to lower the bar regarding what gets piped from my brain into the blog.

I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each time
you are finished talking, type RET twice.

i am an idiot

Why do you say you are an idiot?

because i'm using a therapist built into emacs

Is it because you are using a therapist built into emacs that you came
to me?

no

Why not?

that makes no sense

Does it bother you that makes no sense?

yes

I see... Well, what makes you believe this is so?

because you fail the most simple of turing tests

When did you first know that I fail the most simple of turing tests?

the first time i spoke to you

Earlier you said you are using a therapist built into emacs?

yes

Yes, hmmm... so, are you sure that this is so?

yes, i am speaking to you right now

Maybe your plans have something to do with this.

my plans of slacking certainly involve you right now. obviously

Do you really think that?

no

Are you annoyed that I ask that?

i am annoyed at circular conversation

Are you annoyed often?

when i am involved in circular conversations

What do you think?

about what?

You mentioned that makes no sense?

i mentioned YOU make no sense

Is it because of your life that you are going through all this?

good. bye.

#########################

Its like talking to a REAL therapist!! Utterly pointless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Apple Store New Orleans

So the Apple Store Baton Rouge opened last week. I went. Of course. I stood in line with all the other zealots and got my size XL t-shirt. 

Here is a picture of me, and an unspecified red hooded cutie next to me that someone took at the opening. Seriously, I didn't even know someone was documenting my trip to the Apple Store for me. How nice! I had to find out about it on TUAW.com. Crazy right?


And here's the lovely link to the store's website, ASMOL (Apple Store Mall of Louisiana)
Like all other Apple stores in the country, the staff were some kind of hybrid combination of employees from Best Buy and Urban Outfitters, but with Apple knowledge spewing outta their faces!

EDIT: I wrote this about a week ago, but for some reason the Blogger interface was being retarded for uploading images. Now I remember why I use a text editor and upload to the blog directly. WYSIWYG web editors are not my favorite.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dualing Directors

So. I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a while. Its time I just said eff it and just throw something out there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about movies (imagine that). Sadly, I never got a chance to see No Country For Old Men, but alas, I’m going to talk about the Coen Brothers anyway.

I don’t think I like the Directors Guild of America (DGA) very much. Way back in 2005, Robert Rodriguez left the DGA to direct Sin City with Frank Miller. Rightfully so, the movie literally looks like it used the comic as a storyboard. From the wiki entry on the DGA:

The rule that a film can only have one single director, adopted to avoid producers and actors lobbying for a director's credit, is strongly defended by the DGA and is only waived for recognized directorial teams (as determined by the DGA)

Rather than acquiesce to their odd rule, he simply quit, something he did previously in 1996 to direct his part of the movie Four Rooms. In doing so, he was unable to direct a movie from Paramount, as they only hire DGA members. Personally I think the biggest tragedy is that he will never be able to direct another Spy Kids movie (Spy Kids 4-D: Back in Time!)

No, seriously, it would have been brilliant.

I think Rodruguez made the right decision. Acknowledging credit for Miller’s work on the film by sharing the Director credit is the best possible honor he could give Miller. This was not a ‘producer lobbying for a director credit’ as feared by the DGA, it was an excellent marriage of vision. What’s more important, vision, or being in a fancy club? Albeit, a club that makes you tons of money...

Which brings me to the Coen Brothers. From the DGA website’s article “Craft Singularity”:

There were exceptions built into the single-director clause of the 1978 agreement...for a "bona fide team."

Never in the history of the Academy Award for Best Director has there been a “bona fide team” that has earned the distinction like the Coen Brothers did this year. Isn’t that something?

What constitutes such a team? Again from the DGA site, they list the Farrelly Brothers (masters of their slapstick craft. Ugh), the Coen Brothers and the Wachowski Brothers. Does being from the same womb ensure singularity of craft? Is that really the entire basis for this definition of team?

From Slate.com’s “Why Not Quit the Director’s Guild?”:

Rodriguez was unable to get a waiver for Frank Miller, who had never directed a movie before, so he quit the guild.

The Academy at one time had some balls, back in 1969 they awarded Midnight Cowboy with a Best Picture Oscar, the only X rated film to win this award. I doubt that the Oscar would have been given to the Coen Brothers had they not received a waiver for being such a “bona fide team,” but I still find it highly significant. Until this film, the Coen Brothers films have been credited as “Directed by Joel Coen” and “Produced by Ethan Coen.” Did it take them 15 years of making movies and attributing them this way for the DGA to finally get over themselves and award them a waiver? Nothing has changed in their directorial style, they have always worked together in writing, producing, editing, AND directing.

I find it interesting that this has generated almost no interest in the issue. Maybe I read too much into things, but I certainly find it interesting that not a single directorial team has been awarded Best Director since the inception of giving away gold statues until just this year. Never mind the fact that the Academy did it for a sanctioned team, I think this means there could be hope that the Academy isn’t the geriatric gaggle of gabbling bastards that I see them as.

On an interesting side note, I turned this post from a lose collection of notes into a real post whilst on the can. Just thought the 3 people who read this would appreciate that little factoid. Fact: The best thinking of anyone, anywhere, ever, is done on the can.