After the break…
The Joystiq Podcast crew hit their 49th episode this week, Chris Grant, Ludwig Kietzmann and Justin McElroy, are covering random games and lots of GTA4, as expected. The best part is their Philadelphian Vocal Pronunciation class. This link is their RSS feed, this one is the direct MP3, and this one is the iTunes subscription. In a previous episode they even answered a question from Y.T. about the Korean game industry.
The 1UP Show is covering Valkyrja of the Battlefield, Boom Blox, and Metal Gear Online. I really dug their coverage and am now more interested in all three games. This link is their RSS feed, and this one will subscribe you in iTunes.
I have always considered myself a big fan of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Having watched all but the first release theatrically, and then having seen the re-releases and then prequels on the big screen, I feel that Star Wars holds a big place in my entertained idea of self. From birthday cakes, to Halloween costumes, common quotes amongst friends, to lists of greatest screen villains, the stories from a galaxy far, far away strike a chord with me. However, it was recently that I found out there exists another level of fan — the likes of which I do not even approach.
While browsing the web, I came across a forum of Star Wars fans that cannot be rivaled. I sat and I read for literally hours the messages of a group of people who study every piece of minutia in Lucas’ alien galaxy. Their love is recreating these worlds and people, right here on earth, in the form of costume and prop. They study screen captures of each scene from the films to get every detail right. Forum threads (each containing double-digit pages of posts) record the back and forth of analysis and approximation to correct recreation. Hundred of hours are spent laboring and then broadcasting the achievements attained in recreating the Star Wars universe. Obsession is the name of the game.
Each forum is comprised of many threads of messages. Each thread is devoted to a certain aspect of the Film (character, weapon, make-up, piece of clothing.) Those that claim to be a part of the Vader community do nothing but study this character and his four film incarnations. They devote themselves to recreating his costume as the bounds of each films dictates. (In each Star Wars film in which Darth Vader appears, his costume has subtle variations due to budgeting and taste of Lucas and fellow creators.) So page after page of this thread is dedicated to a member’s recreation of Darth Vader as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Other members weigh in on the photos that are uploaded by the re-creator. Accuracy is debated and checked. High definition screen captures are studied. This goes on until completion and then perhaps the work is shared as it is sold to other admirers in the form of casts of the newly created molds of chest boxes and helmet tusks.
I sat in amusement reading about those who put my once lofty levels of fandom to shame. I also laughed at the absurdity of it all. The literally hundreds of man-hours spent recreating the paltry few hours of film that actually portrayed this intergalactic escapism leads one to laugh at the silliness of it all.
Should one laugh? What gives me the right to heckle one man’s use of spare time over my own pursuits? Should that which society deems a more productive use of free time be held up against those of our aforementioned super-fans? Does working on one’s lawn, following a baseball team, or reading all of Hemingway’s prose amount to something of more worth than festooning your Vader helmet with correctly colored (film accurate) lenses?
Well, if we are to be moderate in all things, then yes, obsessively studying the fit of movie character’s armor should be criticized. However, in doing so, one should also realize the frivolity of one’s own desires and immoderate pastimes. A virtue reality check, if you will. Han shot first!
After the Break…
I bought these just before getting on an 11-hour plane ride to California from Seoul. Unfortunately, they don’t include the AAA battery needed for the noise canceling functionality, but they were handy for the plane ride none-the-less.
Why were they useful on the plane still? Well, the NC6 headphones retained some noise-blocking functionality even though they are open cans. They also included an airline adaptor which was useful for the in-flight movies once I discovered that bit-torrenting the TV Series Lost wasn’t a great choice for viewing during a flight.
The sound quality is decent, certainly not as good bass as I’d like. On the plane I watched the movies “Mad Detective” and “Three Kings”, both of which sounded good on these ‘phones. My main complaint would be with the noise-canceling functionality: it can give me a headache if I use it with anything that doesn’t have constant noise (music, movies, etc). So, for example, listening to This American Life at work with the MDR-NC6’s gives me a headache after an hour or two due to the white noise produced when the noise canceling functionality is enabled.
Also note that these headphones do not fit the iPhone (Edge) by default, for that you’ll need some kind of vile adapter.
Overall, I’d say they have good enough sound quality, and are definitely worth an airport purchase. Office workers may enjoy the MDR-NC6’s especially for their ability to quickly toggle between hearing everything around you and what you’re listening to, to noise-cancellation mode where you can focus on your work, with the switch on the right earpiece.
Score: 3/5 Alien Skulls
Since its popular inception, by some estimates about ten years ago, Caller I.D. (the ability to see the phone number that is calling you) has changed the way we communicate. This seemingly simple convenience has turned communication on its ear and transformed its legions of tacit adopters (Caller I.D. was once exclusively a landline pay service that now comes standard with most cell phones) into a bourgeoning generation of call screeners and selective recluses.
A friend recently started a new job that came equipped with the standard means of communication in phone and e-mail. He was reluctant to give out his new work contact information to family and friends as he feared this would lead to distraction. They had his cell phone number or any of the myriad of personal e-mail addresses should they choose to contact him. The problem surfaced a few weeks into the new job as he would use the office phone to place calls to friends as reception for his cell was not too good in the office or when his cell minutes were low. It seemed that relations, not recognizing buddies’ number on their Caller I.D. chose to ignore his calls at a frequent rate.
At my own home were up until recently we had Caller I.D. block (the evil practice of disabling those receiving your calls from knowing the number from which they originate) people would often not answer as they did not know who is calling. With some friends, they had another phone company provided service that would automatically not receive calls from locations that did broadcast their numbers. This created either a mutually destructive phone call with neither party getting through or the act of having the block disabled on one end or the other albeit temporarily until the phone is dialed again. Some friends knew it was us calling by the fact that their Caller I.D. read Restricted. My own brother called me from a restricted phone the other day (not his usual M.O.). I ignored him unknowingly.
This all leads me to the fact that we are now identified by the ring tones and pictures/icons/avatars or in the most basic case, digits that appear on our friends and families’ phones marked by Caller I.D. We are all marked, tagged, and identified in a matter of rings and just as quickly decided upon by that calls receiver if we are destined for voicemail. The former binary configuration of telephone operation is gone. We no longer answer a ringing phone based on our desire to communicate damning the fact that it could be a telemarketer and not my friend with the baseball tickets for tonight’s game. No, we are now, thanks to Caller I.D., thrust into the more complex game of do I or do I not want to interact with this person.
The further implication is one that has been a hurdle for many forms of burgeoning technology, that is, does this cast us off more from society and interaction. Can what is basically a phone utility actually breakdown the forms of communication? Some say it can and it does as users of Caller I.D. that are perhaps depressed or desiring isolation (the latter being not always a bad thing) cut themselves off further.
So the next time you find yourself calling from an alien number or up against a prompt telling you to leave a message after a paltry three or four rings, the chances are you have been I.D.’d and discarded for later. Welcome to the world of Caller I.D. culture. Maybe you should have tried text messaging your sentiment instead?
Springtime is when a young man’s fancy turns towards upgrading, enclosed within please find a handy guide for dealing with these desires:
- Boot Ubuntu for first time in two months
- Hardlock at GDM
- Look up the wikipedia entry for SysRq
- Try SysRq combos a few times
- Wait a minute
- Give up
- Reboot via the big button
- GOTO Step 1
- Escape once you figure out that you need to boot into “rescue mode”
- Uninstall “envy” nvidia drivers
- Update Ubuntu normally.
- Note that your gnome desktop is now missing your wallpaper
- Cry gently into your “Penguin”
- Repeat at next upgrade time.
Previously, I mentioned the Outback Steakhouse Coffee Steak
Today, I was the sampler of said Steak.
It was not terrible. I’d include pictures of said coffee steak but unfortunately my iPhone has decided that it isn’t serving pictures to iPhoto anymore. What a shame. In any case, the steak itself was just a normal rib-eye with perhaps the most subtle of coffee flavor to it. (edit, pictures added after figuring out how to deal with an insane iphone)
Actually it was labeled an “Espresso” steak, which I think had more to do with the amount of coffee flavor rather than the actual coffee type.
Actually it allows me to talk about service and food in Korea in general. Which is above-average, at least in Seoul.
Okay so the Pros of eating here:
- Fantastic service:
At least in the city, you’ll have no problems with getting good service. While I’ve had to wait for crowds to get seated, I’ve never had to wait for a lazy waiter to serve me. This goes double for the quality of food. Which brings me to my next point.
- Great food quality:
I haven’t once gotten sick here due to the food quality. Not only is the food including the outback steak (fine imported meat), but the veggies are fresh and everything is as unprocessed as possible. It is also amusing to see imported American goods tagged with nutrition fact stickers in Korean.
- Excellent Cleanliness:
Whenever you go out to eat you will be handed a wrapped & sanitary wetnap for your protection. If you wash your hands before eating you’ll be exposed to many fewer germs since they often travel from hand-to-mouth. Every place I’ve eaten has had a clean kitchen, clean eating utensils, plates, and food.
- No Tipping!:
People here are paid what they’re paid, you do not tip them unless it is a particular skilled service like a haircut (mine cost $10 and is better than any I’ve ever gotten in the US). So all of you people who value price over quality have no excuse!
- Reasonable portion sizes:
I’ve lost weight while here and that isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve been drinking and eating out nearly every day but everything I eat here is of a reasonable size and value while retaining the highest quality and service.
- Few Dairy Problems:
I can’t eat dairy and there is a good probability that you or someone you know can’t, either. Like most Asian countries Korea doesn’t serve Dairy products with most of its food. Though I must admit that Baskin Robbins is a huge chain here. I see them everywhere.
Do you like Fried and/or Marinated Chicken? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Every block has a beer & fried chicken place. Congratulations, you’re at home
- Relatively high meat prices:
While yes, my steak was of a high quality, since there is little-to-no beef production in Korea it had to be imported from Australia and cost me nearly $30 USD after conversion!
- Scary food! OH NOSE!!!!1111:
If you’re an east-coast suburbanite fraidy cat you will definitely lose weight here against your will. The food is oftentimes difficult for folks who aren’t willing to try new things. Keep an open mind and you’ll be fine. Though I had to skip the octopus since I still can’t handle eating anything that had tentacles. Oh well, maybe I’ll get used to it some day.
- All Korean Nutrition Labels if there are any at all:
If you do have some kind of weird allergy you’re basically screwed. You won’t know what is in any food unless it is imported from America and you’re already familiar. Your best bet is to check out a Korean phrasebook for “I’ll die if I eat…” and memorize that list.
- No Grocery Stores:
Here in Seoul, at least, I can’t find a damn grocery store. Even if I wanted to make just a sandwich, I’d have a difficult time finding peanut butter and/or jelly. It might be due to the area I’m in, which is more of a business-y area than a normal residential area.
Overall the pros clearly outweigh the cons for me, so if I’m ever in a position to come back and for some crazy reason food is a factor, it wouldn’t take long to say yes!
There is an ad on TV for Korean outback steakhouse right now. The ad consists of a woman accidentally pouring coffee on her steak when a guy walks past. Then cuts to both of them enjoying some fine coffee-coated accident-steak. Finally they cut to the punchline: Yes, really. You can now order coffee-steak at Korean version of outback steakhouse.
Normal TV here consists of the following channels in my hotel:
- Channel 26: The Game Show Channel.
This channel plays nothing but completely incompressible reality or game show fare. This is simultaneously the most immediately appealing channel to watch and later, the least.
One morning Channel 26 had a game/reality show on where the objectives all involved either sports in the dirt at some construction site with a digger in the background. Or, attempting to knock dirt off of a table without knocking down the lightsaber toy in the middle. Kind of like a hobo’s version of Jenga. Though I doubt the hobo would have batteries or a lightsaber toy. If anyone on this list knows a hobo, please let me know how they play Jenga.
Presumably only higher-order species play Jenga, like gorillas, dolphins, whales and humans. Real hobos may be excluded from it.
Otherwise, this channel plays the standard incomprehensible, but more normal, in-studio game shows. The other day one had contestants sitting a chair, getting quizzed by the host, placing a strange black pillow over their faces, and then giving the answer to the initial question. Everyone in the studio audience claps, and is happy. I am, however, bored with this channel now and ready to switch to…
- Channel 17: The Korean Historical-Drama Channel
This channel is probably the most interesting just because I keep thinking there might be something to learn from it, but, no, there really isn’t anything of substance. Just Korean dudes in funny hats fighting and getting angry at their local park every ten minutes. I can only assume that this is really the Korean live-action equivalent of Dragon Ball Z due to the regularity in the script of both fighting and grunting. I assume this channel is popular because it actually has decent production values and is the only channel on which I’ve seen computer generated graphics. Outside of subtitled American films on…
- Channel 22: The American Action Film/NCIS/Law and Order Channel
Ah, blessed sanity for the weary traveler. When I get home from work, this is the channel I tune to. The LCD television may be 17 hectares diagonal at best count. It may only display 480i. The shows may all have weird hieroglyphics at the bottom of the screen. But this is the only real channel for English-speaking, god fearing, real Americans. Whenever I watch this channel I can’t help but feel home-sick for SUVs (they have jeep ads during every commercial break)
Please note that the title of the previous post was a reference to Parappa the Rappa, not suggesting that genocide is an actual option while you are experiencing culture shock.