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A Moment to Say Thank You

“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP” — Leonard Nimoy

If I may take a moment, and of course I can because this is my blog and I’ll do what I bloody well please, thank you very much, I would like to simply thank those who have helped me create those “perfect moments” in my life.

CKD sucks, and it is the number 1 item on my list of “things I would change if I could go back in time”.  I just spent a birthday at home, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I had to due to an annoying 24-hour medical test.  This morning I had to go in for a blood test that turned out to be quite painful (normally they aren’t as bad, and I hate being able to say “normally” because that indicates that these tests are a regular occurrence).  In an undisclosed length of time I will have to face dialysis and possibly getting a transplant, both of which have their particular difficulties, pains, and new issues/challenges to face.  Oh, and of course for years now and for the rest of my life there are things I either shouldn’t eat or can’t because they’ll make me ill or damage my body.

Beyond CKD, let’s just say there are other difficulties in my life as well that I’d prefer to not get into at this time.

However, after years of life I find myself married to a wonderful woman who still actually cares about me (even after being with me for over a decade and a half), and I have a daughter who is intelligent, pretty, and can always make me smile even on my darker days.  I miss my father all the time, of course, but I have an extended family.  Yes, they are there for me when I need them, but even more importantly they are there when I don’t.  There are others who are tied to me by neither blood nor law, but binding relationships in their own rights, relationships forged not by relation or paper but by the two things that can be even more enduring: time and effort.

Yes, I spent yesterday stuck at home, but I have a home and people to share it with.  It’s cold outside, but I was warm, sometimes even slightly warmer when our cat would deign to curl up on me.  I had food to eat; yes, perhaps not the food I wanted, but good, fresh food.  It was all-in-all a relaxing day, and there are many out there who would love to be able to have just that.

I have been lucky enough to be able to travel.  It’s very possible that travel will likely become significantly more…challenging…in the coming years.  Not impossible by a long shot, but not as easy, either.  But over the past many years I have been privileged to be able to visit Indiana, Austin, Houston, Las Vegas, Zion/Utah, the Outer Banks of NC, Lisbon/Portugal, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington (state), Oregon, California, Disney World, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Ireland, Ohio, Maine, Michigan, New York, Colorado, South Carolina, and of course some places I missed.

What I’m getting to is this:  thank you, everyone.  Perfect moments in life can be had, and I have had a tremendous amount of help over the years crafting those perfect moments in my life.  From walking up the path to Rothenburg for the first time, to sitting at the beach house on the Outer Banks listening to the waves, to eating a quiet and relaxing outdoor dinner of fried chicken in Missouri with my wife, to lounging on the ramparts of a castle in Lisbon looking down on the city, to the smile and eagerness on my daughter’s face as she, brimming with excitement, wishes me a happy birthday….  There are countless perfect moments, all crafted and obtainable only with the help of those around me.

Thank you.


Anita Sarkeesian and her list of 8 things devs can change

Anita Sarkeesian recently spoke to game developers about her list of 8 things developers can do to make games less sh***** for women.  For those who don’t want to read a long article covering the topic, here they are:

  1. Avoid the Smurfette principle (don’t have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”)
  2. “Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
  3. Have female characters of various body types
  4. Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
  5. Include more female characters of color.
  6. Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
  7. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
  8. Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies

I don’t really want to get stuck on this, because frankly there is a huge debate going on out there about all of this.  And really, if you read the article, her overall speech did not impress me one bit.  I applaud some of the things she is doing, but as one commenter says she can be terrible at seeing both sides.

I will bring up one example.  When confronted with the fact that games sexualize men as well, she is dismissive, saying that she doesn’t buy it because it is common to see female characters breasts jiggle but rare to see male characters private parts do the same.  This….is just an absurd thing to say.  I have never, ever, ever heard any of my friends say “wow” or “oooooh” appreciatively at the jiggling of a man’s private parts.  You know why?  Because in clothing, they rarely do that!  Penile bounciness has never been listed as an attractive trait for men, as far as I know.  Sarkeesian’s comment is dismissive of how a male character can be sexualized in all the other ways, while at the same time taking pains to point out all the ways a female character can.

But I digress.  Most of her points are good ones.  Heck, I’ve been decrying #2 for years in all types of media (books, movies, etc.).  But Sarkeesian misses one key point, every time.  There is an overriding factor that cancels out everything she says:

Artistic freedom.

But hey, you may say, isn’t it bad for a game to portray X or do Y?  Sure.  I could point out several examples that support her claims that I completely and utterly agree with.  However, at the same time, I fully and utterly support the game developers’ right to create the game that they want to make, without outside pressure or influence.  How, then, will some of these things get corrected?


It’s very, very simple. I agree with her about some games.  And I didn’t buy them.  It’s such a weird thing, but you know, when people stop buying something because they object to it, the market generally makes less of that kind of thing.  The most powerful thing she can accomplish is to make gamers aware of what they are really seeing, but not ask for games to be made differently.  Gamers are seeing what she says as an attack on freedom of expression, and that resonates deeply.

I think her cause is a good one.  I’m glad she is raising overall awareness.  I think she is a terrible advocate and has only gained in notoriety because of the threats to her.  I think she should be trying to change the consumer, for history has shown that the market will shift to deliver what the consumer wants.

Nude Photos, or Why *Did* You Put That There?

Everyone Needs to Read Jennifer Lawrence’s Powerful Statement on Her Nude Photos

I read the article.  I think you should read it too.  And I agree with most everything she says, though technically I don’t agree that intentionally looking at the photos is a “sexual offense”.  At worse I think it would fall under general Peeping Tom laws, which is usually a class 1 misdemeanor and does not require the guilty party to be registered as a sex offender.   If you seek out these photos with knowledge of their contents it’s 100% creepy, 100% invasion of privacy, and 100% exploitation of stolen property, but I don’t think it’s a sex crime against Jennifer Lawrence.  No, I don’t buy the defense that because someone got off on looking at her nude qualifies, because there are people out there (you know there are) who will get off from looking at pictures/videos from her fully clothed (like from the Hunger Games).

Yeah, it’s creepy, but if we persecuted everyone who got off on a picture/video of someone who didn’t want their picture used that way, half the population would be on the registered sex offenders list (and a good part of the other half wouldn’t be on the list because they are too young to understand what that really means).  Unless you are getting your jollies on (or off; phrasing) at pictures/videos of porn stars in a porn magazine/video/etc., it’s very likely the Hollywood or other star you are using in your fantasy didn’t intend for their image to be used that way, and you are just as guilty as if you looked at Jennifer Lawrence’s nude pics.  Yes, really.  It may be slightly better since it’s only in your head, but you are doing something you didn’t get approval for, it’s still creepy, it’s still exploiting that person for your own physical pleasure (and treating them like an object, too), and just because you don’t have a real pic of them naked doesn’t make it any better.  If you want to take it that far, if you don’t have their approval it’s technically rape fantasy; many rapists use the defense that at least in their own mind the other person wanted it, and most in-mind fantasies involve a person imagining the other person wants them.

But really, what I wanted to talk about more than anything is this: people, use this as a warning.  If you have anything, anything that you really don’t want someone to get their hands on, do not put it on any digital device that stays connected to the internet or automatically syncs to, well, anywhere, unless you put your own strong encryption on it.  These photos were leaked because Jennifer Lawrence stored them on a device that synced to Apple’s servers, placing them out of her full control.  Unless you have knowledge otherwise, treat everything put on the internet like something stored in a cardboard box in a dark alley.  A wet cardboard box.  Unless you take your own measures to encrypt the data (a.k.a. like putting a safe inside the cardboard box), your data can be compromised.  The reason most people won’t be compromised is simply because they aren’t in the spotlight and nobody cares to put in the effort.

But if someone cares enough to put in the effort….  They are likely to get through somewhere, and the more the person knows you the easier it will be for them to crack in.  But you can do things to help.  My recommendations?

  1. Use a password vault from a well known source with a long un-guessable password (length matters far more than complexity).  Your browser does not count as a good source, with the sole exception of Safari on Mac.  Safari on a Mac uses Keychain, so that’s fine.  Personally I use a locally hosted version of Clipperz, but you can just do a Google search for “best password vaults” (hint: ignore the ads).
  2. Use said vault to generate separate passwords for everything.  Yes, everything.  That’s why you have a password vault, so you can generate random character passwords and you don’t have to remember them.
  3. For anything that supports it, use two factor authentication.  That can be a huge deterrent to data hackers, as they usually won’t have physical access to your phone/etc.
  4. For security questions, lie.  What is your favorite book?  How about “Spitfire vs. B-52”.  It may be a book, I don’t know (and no, I never used that).  The trick is, make up the answers as something completely different, and store the answers in your password vault along with everything else.  That way for systems that require security questions, simply knowing you and your history won’t get them past it.
  5. And finally, don’t store anything unencrypted (explicitly by you) in an area that syncs to the internet unless you don’t mind other people seeing it.  If you don’t know if that area syncs or not, find out.  Frankly, if it’s something you don’t want people to see, encrypt it anyway.  There are many, many ways to encrypt files and such to protect you, but note: whole disk encryption will not protect you from sync-based hacks.  Whole disk protects you if your device is stolen; you have to encrypt your file itself if you want that protected.

There are many digital things out there that we either have to have or feel that we do, but we don’t want others to access.  Protect them and your data.  In the war against data theft, be a Victor, not a Victim.


Authors Fire Back at Amazon Citing ‘Censorship’. Really?

Authors will fire back at Amazon with calls for a government investigation

If you haven’t been following what’s been going on between Amazon and Hachette, here is the really brief: Amazon has been halting/blocking/delaying shipment/sometimes-making-it-near-impossible for customers to order or pre-order any book by publisher Hachette.  The reason for this is money: there is a contract dispute between the two companies, where each one thinks they should get a bigger piece of the pie.  Both say they are working for the authors’ best interests, but yeah, no, they are generally just working for their own.

Because of all this, the authors are rightfully pissed.  The two big companies can afford to fight, but for some authors, whose books are being messed around with by one of the biggest retailers in the U.S., all of this means lost revenue and visibility.  Imagine you are trying to release a new book, either another one in a series or a completely new book, and people can’t pre-order it, and when they can order it their shipment is delayed for weeks, pissing them off.  Infuriating, right?

Well, now the authors are trying to take their fight to the government.  Both the authors and Engadget feel that the issue here is censorship.  To quote Ursula K LeGuin, one of the recent signers of the letter to the government:

“Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

I just have one major problem with this statement: this is not really censorship!  Yes, I repeat, though the authors try to call it censorship, it isn’t.  Is Amazon being a dick?  Yeah, they are.  But you know what?  They are a freaking business, and they have the right to sell whatever they want and not sell whatever they don’t want.  It’s not censorship if they don’t want to sell your product.  I don’t go to the government because the local supermarket refuses to carry a kind of bread I want.

And this isn’t monopolistic, either, as some of the authors claim as well.  They are an online store where yes, you can buy books, and yes, you can buy e-books.  Are they the only place you can do that?  Um, no.  I can buy books from many, many, many different places both online and off, and I can buy e-books from a number of places as well (or borrow from my library).  Yes, due to DRM there are limitations for e-books (i.e. Kindle owners need to buy their books from Amazon), but books can be released without DRM (see the Harry Potter series for a start) so they can be read on any device, or, gasp, people can just read a regular physical copy of a book they could get from literally hundreds of places.

Authors, you had my sympathy.  Now, you have me shaking my head at a total bunch of idiots who are throwing around incorrectly used buzzwords to try and rile people up.  You might as well go on or work for Fox News.  Amazon isn’t censoring your books.  They are simply not selling them as a centuries-old business tactic.  They are not a monopoly, as your readers have dozens upon dozens of other ways they could get your books.

If your books aren’t selling and you are losing money, it’s not them, it’s you.

Concerning the new iPhone 5s/c and TUAW…

Referenced TUAW Article

“The negative comments sound like they’re coming from Android fanbots” Really? Well, TUAW sounds like a company full of Apple fanbots. Seriously, I like Apple, but I’m getting sick and tired of TUAW’s gushing all the time about how wonderful Apple is. Apple isn’t bad, but it isn’t the greatest company ever, and their products do have flaws. The iPhone 5s and 5c are better than the 5, yes.

But their positives? What they say about the 5s is that it is faster and such than the 5. OK, yeah. How does it compare to other phones?  Is the quad-core processor in the 5s faster than the octa-core processor in the new Samsung Note 3?  For the 5c, they say inexpensive, pretty, and Android free. Uh, OK. Inexpensive compared to what? I can walk into a store right now and sign a contract and get a free phone. $99 sounds like $99 more than free. It’s pretty. Haven’t we all been taught that what is important is what is underneath? And Android free. Wow. Yeah, it’s an iPhone. It runs iOS. That is a matter of opinion on whether or not iOS is better or worse than Android. You will find people that will list “iOS free” on their list of reasons why an Android phone is better.

And concerning what they say about iOS 7….wow. It’s free. Yeah, so is Android, and at least Android is open source. I guess when you put it that way iOS isn’t free, because you have to have an iDevice to run it, test it, and you have to pay a yearly fee to be a iOS developer (whereas it’s free to develop for Android). “Best on 5s”. What a statement. It’s fastest on the fastest phone Apple sells. Duh. “Popular operating system”. So is Windows. And Linux. It just depends on who you ask, and saying it’s a popular operating system doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

Do I think the new iPhone is cool?  Sure, it looks like a nice phone, and if you want a iDevice then go for it.  But speaking as someone who used to drink the Cool-Aid but now snacks on Jelly Beans and KitKats, the new iPhone isn’t something to gush over.  It’s essentially the same dang phone as before, just a bit faster, can take better pictures, and has a nifty fingerprint sensor.  It’s still the same size, you are still locked into Apple’s infrastructure (I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to use iTunes and/or be locked to syncing with one computer), and you still have very little in the way of choice.  Do you want a iPhone that has everything or one that has had features removed, and how much storage space do you want to be locked into (me, I’m not locked into space because my phone, as many, many Android phones do, has a SD card slot)?

To be perfectly frank and fair, though, am I super excited about the Galaxy Note 3, the next iteration of my phone?  Nah.  Oh, it’s looks really cool, and I’m sure it’s faster and I’ve seen some of the new features.  Higher resolution screen, bigger screen, better interface…  It’s nice.  But we’ve gotten to the same point with phones that we have with computers.  If you have the latest or next-to-latest device, the next iteration generally doesn’t have as many innovations as you might hope.  The reason is simple: they are releasing devices too fast in order to keep up.  If I look at my old iPad and look at a new iPad I go wow, there are so many differences and reasons to upgrade.  If I look at a iPad 3 vs. iPad 4, there aren’t nearly as many differences.

So, yeah.  Just wanted to get all that off my chest.  I’m tired of hearing all the gushing, simpering Apple “fanbots” go on and on about how awesome the new iPhone 5s/c is, and how much better it is than Android, like “Android” is an actual device and not an OS.  I’m also tired of hearing Android fanatics bash Apple/iPhones, but I don’t hear them nearly as much as I hear the Apple fanbots, and the Apple fanbots are by far more annoying.

*ahem*  I guess what I’m saying is if you want to talk favorably about a device, don’t be Fox News.

A good defense of why people cosplay, except for…

In the blog post/article linked above, the author writes about why she cosplays and her thoughts on the subject.  For many parts of the article I heartily agree with her and think her opinions are spot on.  Except I just couldn’t agree with this:

“In regards to the unfortunately common “stop playing sexy dress up time if you want men to treat you as a person” line of thinking, I fundamentally disagree with this perspective. How one dresses shouldn’t determine the degree of dignity and respect you impart on them.”

You know, I will grant that is a fine statement to say.  It’s nice you feel that way.  But the naïveté of the statement is staggering, even though this is something I hear very commonly as a defense by men/women who want to dress up in sexy clothes in public.

Society has judged one another based on appearance for as long as society has existed.  Respect is given and/or taken away every day by every person before you even speak to another person.  Think about it.  Think honestly about it.  If you saw a homeless person on the side of the street, a person in a suit, a person dressed as a police officer, and a teen dressed up in shaggy clothes, would you instinctively give all of them the same amount of respect if you didn’t know them?

I think the answer is no.  Each person I listed would get more or less respect before a word is even said based on your own prior interactions with people of that type or your own internal thoughts.  A teenager may be more likely to give respect to the teen and less to the cop and person in the suit.   A cop would likely immediately respect the cop more, and may respect or disdain someone in a suit.  A social worker would respect the homeless person who others ignore, and possibly look down on a teen who they might presume is “not doing enough with their life”.

In addition, the amount of expected respect is automatically different.  “The clothes make the person”, so the saying goes, and in a way it is true.  If you are going to an interview, or a nice dinner, or on a date, or out to a pub, or if you are going to meet someone important, do you dress differently/nicer?  Why?  If people could see each other without making assumptions based on how we look, why would it matter what you are dressed?  That person should respect you no matter what you are wearing.  Right?  I should be able to come to work in shorts and a t-shirt and walk up to a CEO and get the full respect I deserve, right?

It would be nice, yeah.  But it is completely out of the question, and I do not think we will ever have a society where that would be universally true.  No matter what kind of social system you live in (capitalism, communism, dictatorship, monarchy, etc.) ultimately there is a hierarchy, and that hierarchy is at least in part defined by what you wear.  Why do you wear something nice to a job interview, or if you go on a date, or etc.?  Yes, it might make you feel good, and it might help your confidence level.  However, the defining reason is because of first impressions.  Because you know you are going to be judged the moment you walk in the door by how you look.  The dignity and respect you receive is based on your appearance before anything else.

And because this is so well known, it is expected that you will understand that how you look will send a message to others.  Not really interested in the job or making a good impression?  Wearing clothes that are not right will send that impression.  You want to tell the people you are meeting that you take them seriously and are someone to be respected?  The right clothes will send the message you desire.  And just think: you know the clothes in your closet.  You know the message wearing some of them send.

So why, why do I keep hearing the same argument from cosplayers and such?  I get the point that cosplayers are just showing their love of a show/game/etc., that they like the interaction and feeling good about making something nice.  I agree 100% that cosplayers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

But this is real life.  It isn’t fantasy.  How people behave is not changed because you are at a convention and you are pretending to be a character from somewhere else.  And I don’t believe that what cosplayers want applied to them when they are cosplaying (i.e. that how they dress shouldn’t determine the degree of dignity and respect they are initially given) is something that they themselves can grant to everyone else when they are not cosplaying.  How many cosplayers get out of their costumes and then resume their “normal lives”, judging people around them by their appearance first and who they really are second?  I would guess pretty much all of them, because just about every cosplayer I know is human.

So if you are cosplaying dressed as a character designed to entice sexual thoughts in men/women, do not be surprised if the first impression you give is not one that demands “dignity and respect”.  Yes, you do not forfeit all of your basic rights as a person when you dress in different clothes.  But if you dress essentially as a sex object, then you are going to receive from others the same amount of initial dignity and respect they would give a sex object.  You can shout until you are blue in the face that you are a “cosplayer”, and that cosplayers should be able to dress as they like and receive the same amount of dignity and respect.

But perhaps that’s it: you are cosplaying.  You are, in real life, pretending to be a character/person who is here in real life.  So you are receiving exactly the same amount of dignity and respect that character/person would receive in real life.

Good for you.


Too Much

A really salient quote from the article:

“When the guy whose game featured a reverse up-the-crotch chainsaw melee kill [Cliff Bleszinski – Gears of War] is telling you your game is too violent, it might be worth listening.”

I don’t want to get into this topic too much, but I did want to share the above article and a couple thoughts on the subject.  I have been playing Bioshock Infinite for about a week, and you know what?  Despite the absolutely stellar ratings it received from many different reviewers, the gorgeous graphics, and the overall engrossing story, I am having trouble wanting to play it.

The violence is just too much.  For the first hour or so of playing I was completely taken in by everything.  I wanted to know more, to explore, to read, to see, to immerse myself.  And then That Scene happens, the one referenced in the article where you essentially tear someone’s face off, and then immediately after rip someone’s head off.  You have no choice; you do it, or it’s game over.  There isn’t a non-over-the-top-violent solution.  And it just gets worse from there.

So am I still playing it?  Yes, the story *is* fascinating, and it’s great playing another recent game where a female lead is very capable and such (the other game was the recent (and very excellent) Tomb Raider).  And the world that the developers have put together has an incredible amount of depth.  But I can only take so much violence, and I find playing it to be a draining experience.

And yes, to be clear, I have played other violent video games.  I’m not a stranger to them.  I do stay away from violent video games where there is really no other point except excessive violence (like the God of War games); if you are going to have a game that contains violence, there should be a good reason it is there (saving the world/galaxy/whatever is at least a good start; no other possible choice is another reason).  The Mass Effect series is a good example of this.  In those games, the Reavers are coming to destroy everything, and even though your character really tries to negotiate peace it just isn’t going to happen.  Some of my favorite games, also, allow you to choose your own path (such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Dishonored).  You can choose a violent path if you really want to, but it’s a choice.

But this?  There is no choice.  You have to watch the violence.  You have to deal out the violence.  You have to do terrible things, and I don’t really understand why.  Yes, you could argue “realism”, that the developers are just showing you what would really happen if you did something.  Well, give me full realism, i.e. the choice not to do that.  True, the solution to the situation might not be “peaceful”, but it doesn’t have to be like this.  Especially when a lot of the people I’m fighting are essentially just religious zealots.  They are just fighting for what they believe.  They may be wrong, but that shouldn’t give my character the right to excessive brutality.

::sigh::  I do want to know what happens with the story and the characters, so I will likely play the game through.  But every time I wince at the screen in shock the developers push me further away.  This is quite possibly going to be a game that I finish and never want to play again.  And that is a shame, because I feel like this game could be so much more.

Something that makes me sad

A person I know is participating in the The World Race.  I view The World Race as something that’s “cool”, though you really have to have nothing tying you down in order to participate, given the length of time you have to be away and the money it takes (i.e. generally you have to be rather young with no real career/job/etc.).

Anyway, this person and the group they are with are currently in South Africa.  On the way to a park to worship, this person’s squad-mates started tearing down sign after sign (the picture was fuzzy but it looked like a sign for a abortion clinic).  This person was happy this was happening, and together with a teammate made several “declarations for a generation”:

We declare this generation will rise up
We declare the children are the future
We declare unborn children will see life
We declare these children will be strong Christians
We declare abortion will stop
We declare no child will be viewed as a mistake
We declare God will use this for good
We declare this generation will change the world!

OK, I like enthusiasm from youth, and it’s nice to hear someone new say they will change the world.  And I know this person has drive and energy so they might just do it.  But this makes me sad.  How are they inducting these new declarations?  By stepping on someone else’s freedom and point of views.

They were tearing down signs.  What right did they have to do that?  As far as I know, the clinic is a law-abiding facility.  They have a right to put up signs if they want to.  And this World Race group is comprised of Americans; should we be praising them for acting like stereotypical Americans who go in and do what they please?  Or worse, stereotypical American Christians who have no thought for anybody who don’t believe as they do?

Because that’s exactly how they are acting.  That set of “declarations” just makes me sad.  I could go through that list coming up with counter arguments/truths for basically every line, but I won’t.  I will mention one, though, that particularly bugs me: “We declare these children will be strong Christians.”  Yes, in a general sense I am a follower of the Christian tenets.  But…

::sigh::  We live in a country where (theoretically) people can believe what they want to believe, as long as it doesn’t harm another.  It’s one of the country’s best benefits.  I would write down how many people I know who follow different religious paths but it would take too damn long.  Even my own path differs from the standard rigid Christianity that is practiced by many.  You want to declare that all kids will be Christian?  What kind of a Christian?  Your kind?  What gives you the right to declare that?  What gives you the right to tell me how to raise my child?  You want to convince me to be a Christian by forcing your beliefs on me and my children?  Are you really wanting to start another holy war?  How would you feel if another religion tried to force their beliefs on you because they believe you are the one who is wrong?

::sigh::  So yes, it makes me sad when I see such declarations like that, mainly because I know there are people much older than the person in question who believes that this person is doing the right thing.  That acting like a complete….something….is right and good, because why?  Because someone else needs to be forced into the “right” way.


Since most of the people who share hosting on my server read my blog, I thought this would probably be an effective way to share some quick information.  I have finally gotten around to setting up IPv6 on my server.  For those of you who just want a quick explanation about what IPv6 is and wonder why you should care, I will be as brief as possible.

IPv4 addresses look like this:  4 sets of numbers between 1-256, 32 bits of length total.  Anything on the internet for the past however many years required an address like that.  It points to your computer/phone/device/whatever like your address points to where you live.  It’s more complicated, but that keeps it simple.  The world is running out of IPv4 addresses; just too many devices.  The world is shifting to a new standard, IPv6.  IPv6 addresses look like this: 2610:18:cc0:8:0000:0000:1:8010.  8 blocks of 4 hexadecimal characters/numbers, 128 bits of length total.  IPv4 only allowed around 4.3 billion addresses overall.  IPv6 allows for at least that many addresses per person currently alive.  In the past static IPs could be costly; my server provider charges me for each IPv4 address I request.  For IPv6, though, my server provider is allowing me to have a pool of 4,096 addresses for free.

The switch, however, is not a cutover.  It will be a slow change over probably several years.  IPv6 has actually been around for a couple years now (at least) but many don’t even know about it.   So why care?  Servers/etc have to be made ready to listen for the right address.  Natively, IPv4 cannot talk to IPv6.  I could technically bring up a server right now that only listened on IPv6, and if your current ISP doesn’t support it, you could never visit the site.  Likewise, if you only had IPv6 and I only had a server listening on IPv4 then you wouldn’t be able to see my server either.  There is special software to act as a go-between, but it’s a band-aid at best and has to be specifically set up.

IPv4 and IPv6, however, can exist side-by-side on a server.  It’s just an address, and a server can have many addresses.  So to those who host with me, know that I have made the appropriate changes and within a day or so the server will be IPv4 and IPv6 compliant.  My server has joined the ranks of IPv6 compliant sites.  Kinda cool.

Well I think so.

Play for free? Ummm….

This post falls under the heading ‘something I wanted to share but it will take more characters than Twitter will allow’.  I recently came across this:

Amanda Palmer Asks Musicians to Play for Free, Pisses Off Musicians

I can see both sides of the argument here.  Unfortunately, I see more of the musician’s side.  In the defense of Amanda Palmer, it sounds like she is trying to do something completely new, something she considers will be fun for everybody involved, and something that in essence flips a finger at a industry made to keep artists from making the kind of money people think they make.  She’s not trying to insult musicians, though I think her quote to the New York Times was a bit insensitive:

“If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid. They’re all incredibly happy to be here … If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?”  — Amanda Palmer, as reported by The New York Times

I can’t help but agree with the musicians, though.  It’s one thing if this were a one-time gig in a small venue, or if Amanda Palmer were a struggling musician herself.  She isn’t.  She’s a successful musician who was able to crowd-fund 1.1 million dollars, with some of those dollars probably coming from the same musicians she’s trying to coax into playing for her for free.  Unless I’m vastly mistaken, the events themselves are ticketed (i.e. not free), so there will be income for her and her group from that source, i.e.  the Kickstarter project isn’t the only source of funding.

Will she get her musicians?  Yes.  Is she lying about some musicians being “incredibly happy” to be there?  No, I’m sure they are very happy.  It could be that they are happy to be on stage at a big venue at all, or that they get to add “played with Amanda Palmer” to their resume, or they could be just doing it for a lark.  If I played an appropriate instrument I’d be rather tempted to take part in this, but I have another job.  I’m not trying to pay bills/etc. based on a musical career, and the people she is calling out to are freelance musicians.

Some of the said musicians make several good points in their comments, like Amy Vaillancourt-Sals:

“So, looking back at your ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you’ve raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent, and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced, and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we’ll respond? We’re f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a pretty good guess…” — Amy Vaillancourt-Sals, quoted from Kotaku article linked above

Palmer has said that paying the musicians would cost her around $35,000, which she said is more than she can afford.  Really?  If she wants to make claims like that, she needs to back her words up with some serious proof.  The 1.1 million dollar Kickstarter aside, where is all the money going that is being made on the tour from ticket sales?  Her tour is spanning 30 cites.  That means on average she only has to dedicate $1,167 from ticket sales per venue to pay the musicians.  I looked up ticket prices for one of her shows at random (House of Blues San Diego), which shows that the ticket price for that venue is $32.  Granted ticket sales go to several different things, but that equates to approximately 37 tickets in a venue that seats 1,000.

I don’t know.  I think it boils down to this:  she is obviously getting paid for this.  Her regular band will be getting paid for this.  Everybody else involved will be getting paid for this (I really doubt the venue is letting her be there for free).  Why stiff the orchestra, even when there are people willing to do it for free?  There are people out there willing to go on the TV show Wipeout even though that’s not a very good idea (we may laugh, but some of those people get seriously hurt).  Why pay yourself but not the crowd-sourced performers, especially since said performers are risking being shunned by some of their fellows over what they are doing?

So yes, I think she should pay these performers more than just “beer and high fives”.  That, or prove why she can’t afford to pay them.  That would at least show that she understands that not everybody out there can afford to play gigs for free, especially with the economy as it is right now.  I’m happy for her success, but… yeah.