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The Symphony... and video games

There are certain things most of us feel like we "should" do. This could be any number of things from reading the newspaper to going to a museum. We checked one off the list today with a visit to the symphony. Now as much fun as it would be to talk about some high brow performance with lots of commentary, this will not be it. In the end we went and saw the Grand Rapids Symphony perform

Play is a collection of video game music that has been adapted for performance by the symphony. The first half they focused on classic Nintendo fare. This was probably the most fun because everyone in the audience was clearly familiar with the music. The concept was new and different. In addition, this was the music that had the most room for the symphony to play with and tweak things.

The second half was the opposite in a lot of ways. The games were much more recent and of less universal appeal. The music was good but the was much less of a difference between what the symphony played and the original music. This further limited any novelty appeal. However, this was probably a good thing, the second half was a nice contrast from the first.

The other thing they had going on was video of the games in question. This as also the most fun in the first half. The people who set it up clearly had a lot of freedom to choose material. In addition, there was the greater depth of material to choose from. The newer games in the second half ended up feeling a bit more like a trailer for the games in question. This could be because there was simply less footage to choose from and many of us were less familiar with the games.

The audience itself really helped with the enjoyment. There was a huge variety of people. You had adults dressed for the symphony like it was old hat. There were kids of all ages trying to figure out what you wear to a symphony of video game music. I am not sure I saw more than a couple people who were not really excited to be there. The excitement lasted the entire show with a few people around us barely able to contain their excitement of what was being played and how they felt about it.

Overall it was certainly worth seeing if you are at all interested in video games. If you like classical music your enjoyment will be that much more. If not, this is a great chance to broaden your horizons without having to work at it. The one real negative was the one guy who wore sweats that probably had not been washed in a week. I do not care how dressed up you are but this is a public place, wear something clean.

Save some ideas for the next book

Why does every book need to be a massive three volume or longer story? I certainly understand the desire to try and generate future sales. However, you are also now have to convince me that your story is worth investing that much time and money into. If you do a nice tight standalone story you got a better chance of success and you can still take those other ideas and use them to write a sequel.

Here's another question, why does every new book need to rival the Bible in length? Do we need to mention that Bible is actually a collection of books that are only loosely related? I understand you have a word processor and can crank out text at a prodigious rate. It doesn't mean it is a good idea. The number of books that end up being more filler than story is ridiculous. I beg you, take more time to tighten up your story. The less time and money I have to invest in your story the more likely I am to take a chance on it. Once you have one book as a success then you can write a sequel with all of those other ideas.

A lab too old

We are finally replacing our K-8 computer labs at work. The labs in question are full of eMacs that originally shipped with 64 megs of ram. We later upgraded them to 128 megs and finally to 256 megs of ram. They were reasonably fast and cheap back when they were first purchased.

However, nowadays a PowerPC G4 1.25 ghz with 256 megs of ram is no longer speedy, reliable, energy efficient or good for much of anything. I certainly did not expect anyone to miss them when they were gone. I was wrong and in the process learned that they were still good for one thing I didn't expect. In the interest of saving money our HVAC system doesn't keep the buildings very warm in the evenings. The custodians would apparently take breaks in labs that got left on at night. The ancient eMacs apparently make excellent space heaters.

As an aside, thanks to Comprenew for handling the recycling of all those space heaters.

Missing the point

I love the internet. It gives me far more opportunities to see people being stupid than I would have ordinarily had. In this case we've got a guy attempting to debunk a common one liner. The line is "If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product." He takes a small kernel and stretches it beyond all recognition.

He first makes the claim that the phrase is bogus because it relies on ad-supported media being new. This is of course bogus. The phrase is both as true and as false for a free newspaper as it is for a website or any other form of media. In fact, it is probably more important to keep in mind when it comes to news sources. The reporters are not volunteers they have to make money to live like everyone else.

He then makes the claim that the line is bogus because it implies that you should not complain and you should just accept it. He turns around and states that if you don't like what a free service is doing you shouldn't use it. The problem with this argument is that the original line doesn't imply anything about what you should do. It simply states a given situation and it is up to each of us to decide how we are to respond. Accepting the situation is certainly one option but it is not the only valid option. Leaving the service or not using the product and using something else are just as valid for the line in question.

His third point is that it doesn't cover the fact that most companies have several revenue streams beyond advertising. This is certainly a true statement but is also the clearest example of stretching the line far beyond where it is useful. The line does not make any statements about what happens we you do pay for the product. If we see anything we are filling it in ourselves. Once we start start adding our own assumptions we are no longer commenting on the line we are commenting on our own assumptions as people.

The rest of the post continues to beat home the idea that the line is all about bad mouthing anyone who is ad supported and praising anyone who charges. There is simply not enough in the line to justify the bulk of his post. The line is a simple one sentence statement that covers a specific situation. It may not be as useful as most would imply but it is not as useless as the poster claims.

The summary tries to play up the obligation of business to treat customers reasonably. However, there's not much in his post to support his conclusions. In the end it comes across as another bit of negativity on the internet. There is a followup post that attempts to offer a different one-liner and provide justification for it. This followup should have been framed as an improvement of the original line instead of merely a followup that has to calm the waters after a negative rant. This is especially true because all to often I have asked the question, "How are they going to make enough money to pay for all of this?". It is a question worth asking in a lot of different situations.

Testing an easier way to blog

I have to admit that I am terrible at blogging on a regular basis despite the fact that it is one of the things that I actually enjoy. However, I have now tweaked things in a way that should simplify things a hair. Well, either that or it will make them more work. We will see.

The real issue will be whether I can finish writing/editing stuff that I have already started. I end up looking at what I wrote and not being able to convince myself that it gets across what I wanted to say.