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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bailing on BASH, forum idiocy, Et cetera.

It has been a long time since I had a rant post. Or any post, for that matter: Busy with other projects, my daughter (accepted into Stanford early admission, congratulations JC!), and other miscellanea. So, if you're easily offended, best skip this one...seriously. For that matter, if a rant itself will bother you, just skip reading. This is not the typical post here (I think I've really ranted only once before.) You have been warned.

Ramming Speed! (nod to Ben Hur...)

Anyone that has followed me in forums (or knows me personally) knows that I'm a thermonuclear bomb directed at stupidity / unctuousness / marketing snake oil. I really do think the world would be a better place if more took aim at such nonsense: embarrass most fools enough, they'll go away, leaving a better quality pool in the end.

I directed readers to the excellent forum and podcasts on BashandSlash many posts ago, and have been a lightly active poster there since. A recent podcast, however, raised my hackles with its fulsome (not in a good sense)  interview of a 'community representative' for DICE. Simply put, no hard questions were asked, and the interviewee  exhibited the (unfortunately all too common these days) sliminess of a used car salesman. I said it in a forum post there, and I'll repeat it here: Anyone that can fling BS in the name of their 'job' is a perfidious douche nozzle.

And letting them get away with it is a disservice to the PC gaming community. It lowers the bar yet further. I may be Patton to the host's Gandhi, but really, if all one's journalistic intent is is to be a conduit for the game publisher's advertisements, why bother?

Now, in my post (I'd link it, but it appears the thread is gone (from an edit updating the content, not from any kind of 'get rid of his post' action)), I replied to someone that contrasted this 'community representative' to a podcast of a different sort (Crosshairs), where recent shows have had the most interesting John Gibson from Tripwire Interactive as a guest.

John's honesty and openness is a refreshing change from the marketing BS, and outright lies, that the PC community has seen from several of these 'community representatives'. (As an aside, just who do they represent? The cowering, sugar-coating PC public that will take the recent crap labeled as games and eat it with a smile? They certainly don't seem represent the best interests of me, or any of my gaming friends...)

My reply contained the quote above, along with the statement (contrasting the typical 'community representative' with John Gibson) "Most serious gamers would more likely punch lame-toe and IQ_20.20 in the face if they met them..."

Somehow, this was twisted into a 'threat of personal violence' (by my hands) toward one 'Robert Bowling' by the host. Huh? I never used that name, nor have I ever had any interactions with or about that person. Beats me. Maybe Canadian English works differently than mine. In any case, I was issued a warning in the forum by the host. A perfervid response, I think.

Last straw for me: I will not walk on eggshells, much less imaginary ones, for people I don't even know (one Mr. Bowling), so I asked to be immediately removed as a member. No milquetoast clubs for me.

I want to be clear - I have no intrinsic qualms with the host (Jockyitch) - he seems like a straight shooter, and it is his board / forum / podcast, and his rules. I simply think being Mother Teresa as a journalist does us in the PC community little good in putting pressure on the developers and publishers to reverse the rapid downward spiral of the last few years in PC game quality and their rush to powder the hineys of the console crew. It is the action I have an issue with: it results in silencing dissent that further enables the marketing BS behaviors of developers and publishers with no benefit to PC gamers.

Squelching views not to one's liking, or not to one's tea-and-crumpet politeness standard has the same chilling effect. Worse has been said directly at the same interviewee in their very own forums where they have moderator status. To their credit, such posts remain, excluding of course seriously out of line "I'll kill you if I find you" kind of posts. Not that I need that to justify my sentiments to myself: Marketing BS pawns are the plague of the earth. Well, at least one of the plagues.

Spirited, sometimes harsh, occasionally rude interaction is just a part of free speech.  I myself have been guilty of less than parliamentary politeness in interchanges with idiots (see below). Then again, maybe that's a poor example of a standard - have you ever watched the verbal volleys fired in the House of Commons?

Saying someone might punch someone is not a personal threat of violence, it is a metaphor for the level of displeasure many PC gamers feel.

At the same time, I advised the host of the companion show Crosshairs of this action, and that I should probably not participate in future podcasts: there is no way I can interact like some sodium thiopental laced patient, bleary-eyed with a drool festooned grin mouthing "Oh, yeah, Isn't it all just grand!" because it 'fits' the peace-loving agenda of the host. Or in this case, actually, the host's parent host: Crosshair's host Iblleedv20 can be  a contrarian sometimes: he is just much more civilized at it than me.

I will miss being a member of Crosshairs: some very cool, very smart people are regular participants. I highly advise that you take a listen, if you haven't already, and also to the parent Bash casts.

I wish both hosts the best in their endeavors.

Rant, part Deux: Forum Stupidity.

For Christ's sake, is it that hard, if you disagree with someone in a forum post, to at least know what you're talking about before posting a retort? Anything else just spreads misinformation to the naive reader, and makes the reply look like that of a fool to those that do know what they're talking about.

Case in point, one of the last threads in the forums involved, having to do with the miserable sound quality of a game soundtrack demo. You can see the thread here. Now, I'm pretty sure a monkey could discern that the 'strings' are fake. And poor ones at that. Like a 'real' Ming vase found in a box of Cracker Jacks kind of real.

I stated such. This inane response followed (to which I did not reply - my account was deleted per my wishes):

Clearly you are not a musician.

1. A high school orchestra wouldn't be professional enough to tackle a full soundtrack. They'd come in late, they'd come in flat or sharp, the string section would have tuning issues.

2. What I've heard here sounds nothing like a $29.99 Walmart keyboard. I have no idea what you're talking about. You might need better speakers or headphones, though.

3. No one uses a "synthesizer" for orchestral music production anymore. Professional composers use samples, recorded off of REAL instruments. Synthesized implies that the sound is created synthetically, mathematically. I am fairly certain what is being used here are samples, at least from what I can hear. Actually it sounds pretty convincing to me, I'm not sure what you're listening to, Rob.

 Let's take this piece by piece, and see why I think it's a pretty stupid response (and unfortunately typical of self-proclaimed experts in all too many forums.)

 Clearly you are not a musician.:

And the relevance of this is...what? This is a typical tactic of the weak-minded / unarmed with facts poster. A type of straw man argument (fictitious persona) to attempt to cloud the reader's sense of the real argument. Of course, this person knows nothing about my musical background. Even if they did, it has no relevance.

Audiophiles have long noted musicians having really terrible audio systems that 'sound fine' to the musician. Some have theorized it is due to the constant exposure to real instruments allowing those listener's brains to compensate for the poor sound, though I know of no academic study ever done to test this. I can speak from personal experience - I've seen this to be the case often with musician friends of mine, one particularly excruciating system belonging to a world-renowned conductor. If anything, not being a musician might be an advantage based on these observations.

A high school orchestra wouldn't be professional enough to tackle a full soundtrack...:

And your evidence is? You were in a crappy one, perhaps? Anyone that has heard a truly outstanding high school  orchestra (and they do exist) will spot this as ridiculous.

What I've heard here sounds nothing like a $29.99 Walmart keyboard. I have no idea what you're talking about. You might need better speakers or headphones, though.:

This kind of reply content toward me, or others, particularly tickles my funny bone. Again, a fictitious persona is created, and the implication is made the the replying poster's argument must be correct because he/she has 'better equipment', or is otherwise better 'equipped'.  You never know when you might be addressing someone that has headphones worth more (and of higher quality) than your entire system. Or speakers worth more than your house, with concomitant quality. And in this case, ears to match.

It should be noted, this poster, nickname "golden_ear" (a self-labeling of many that think they have magical abilities in listening skills), joined and posted their one and only post supporting a prior reply to me in the thread by poster "X", nearly immediately followed by one of those "oh, yeah, you are soooo right!" posts by the same poster "X". Please, if you're going to resort to using Internet Sock Puppetry, try and do a better job of making it look legit...

No one uses a "synthesizer" for orchestral music production anymore. Professional composers use samples, recorded off of REAL instruments. Synthesized implies that the sound is created synthetically, mathematically. I am fairly certain what is being used here are samples, at least from what I can hear. Actually it sounds pretty convincing to me.

Now, here's where the poster shows how clueless they are. Anyone knowledgeable about music synthesis of course knows that sampled / multi-sampled synthesizers are still synthesizers. A quick ring to Ray Kurzweil, the father of modern synthesizers that can fool many will confirm the correct terminology - don't take my word for it. As for it sounding pretty convincing? Well, dear reader, take a listen to the audio in the referenced thread. I would personally be stunned if more than 20% of listeners could not immediately discern the 'strings' are not real. As for the alleged, self-proclaimed musician(s) in the thread (I qualify the plurality in light of the likely sock puppet involved) that are convinced by it - perhaps a different line of work might lead to better success.

Ahhh, I feel better now.



  1. Bummer. Found that show from here. I really liked the gaming one-oh-one you did the last couple. Move it here? And if you still are going to hear them, put your views here too? I thought that your talk on gameservers not being the source of problems was good - my clan has never had issues with them.

    PS= please see my comment on the planet finding post. Is there a simple explanation I could see somewhere?

    And please, post more! half my clan follows to see what you think of games and their bugs.

  2. 25 degrees outside. At least it;s not snowing.
    Well, poop. I'd say do your own show, but the reps would look at it like being interviewed by Bill Orielly (i mean getting grilled) so they wouldn;t show up. This post doesn;t seem like you, must have pushed a button.

  3. @ December 16, 2010 4:06 AM :
    I plan to post more, at least once a week I hope. Things are quieting down.

    I will certainly be listening to Crosshairs at least, I enjoy the crew. As for posting opinions, I'm not decided.

    Simple explanation of apodizing...hmm...there's a page on wikipedia, but it doesn't say much. It links to a page about apodizing functions, much more detail, but nearly at the level of the paper. The graphs there might help you visualize it though.

    If I were going to explain it as simply as I can (and this is REALLY oversimplifying it to the point of cringing), I'd say imagine throwing a pebble in a pond. See the waves? Now imagine throwing TWO pebbles in the same pond, so they land slightly apart. You would see the waves overlap, and add together, or subtract from each other, where they meet. Think of the adding as brighter or louder, and the subtracting as dimmer or softer. Light behaves in the same way. The device shown in the paper manipulates the light 'waves' (I won't go into why that's quoted) in a special way such that one side of the disc is 'dimmer', by making the light 'waves' subtract. It is designed so that the object at the center is most affected by this manipulation - and that is the bright star you are trying to see near the edge of. Any planet there will be less drowned in the glare of the star. I hope that helps, and again, that is bordering on criminal simplification. You might take a look at http://www.telescope-optics.net/spider.htm - I just did another quick search for you. This talks about the subject in a different form for a diferent problem, but the overarching idea is the same.

    @December 16, 2010 5:31 AM L
    Cold here too, but not nearly that cold. No, it's not like me, I normally reserve rants for truly irritating ignoramuses. Your thoughts are mirrored in an email I just read from someone I repect. It was / is one of those 'last straw' things I suppose we all have every now and then, and I needed to vent. I edited a few lines to reinforce that it is the enabling of the minimization of PC gamers, not the person, I took issue with.


  4. Hilarious vid.
    That is too bad - I like the show and your part.
    Offer them an olive branch?

  5. @P90Punk :
    No olive branch needed - I am not 'at war' with the host, he is a good guy in my experience. We can disagree on philosophy and still both be good persons I think.

    I have had an issue with the kid-glove interview style, but I'd guess that getting revenue based on traffic, most would go the "content for content's sake" route.

    I on the other hand loath BS, whether labeled "marketing" or not, and will confront it - I left one tech start-up (and some seriously stupid money on the table) because the marketing VP was a prevaricator supreme. Ended up involved in a competing startup that crushed them with a superior product and honesty toward prospective customers.

    Thanks for the comment,


  6. Isn't it a completely separate show, separate rules and separate host? I strongly urge you to reconsider, I think your counterpoint, not to mention your technical background adds a lot to the show. I do understand your frustration with the sugar sweet parent show - I stopped listening not long after the one you did about networking problems. I also agree with the above comment - this is not your style of post, though again, I do get your frustration, and the warning seems a bit bizarre - there are posts just today about bombing the guy that are left unedited. Perhaps the host had some other issue with you as you said.

  7. @ GrumpyOldGamer:
    Yes, but the venue, so to speak, is not. I have too much respect for the host of Crosshairs (and enough self-awareness to know I can't keep my mouth shut) to endanger that show by saying something that reflects badly on the show to the parent host, and by association, Crosshair's host. As for the latter part of your comment - yes, I saw those posts, who knows...
    BTW - your tag seems familiar - did you belong to a group years back called "The Unmanageables"?


  8. Noooooooooo
    Do your ustream show!

  9. @monkeyjerkey:

    Let it be known, again, that this had nothing to do with Sam's show. At all. I just don't want to risk jeopardizing his show by saying something that hurts the rather sensitive feelings of his host.

    I left because I really can't have my name showing up on the roster of monks when I'm a smoking, drinking, fighter for PC gamers....

    I must say I'm rather surprised by the number of hits this post has had, and the comments I chose not to post that were bordering on attacks on the subject. Jock is not a bad person, people, just a bit soft!

    Happy New Year!