Monthly Archives: August 2012

Me…and my new laptop

Everyone knows that I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to buying things.  Actually, it’s a freaking miracle if I get anything for myself at all.  But, with work heating up, and me needing to be sitting in front of the machine all the time with school and so forth, I just stood up and hollered, “Damn it, it’s high time I got myself a laptop.”

And with Ace in tow, on Friday I did.
Just to put all of my iLemmings nerves to rest, nope, still no iAnything.  You keep trying to infringe, but I resist! I refuse to put myself in debt just to keep up with your trendy butts.  Oh yeah…what’s that, your iPhone 4S who lets you talk to yourself without looking nuts? Awww, poor Siri, her time is up…she’s being replaced with a quad-core, which is…what was that? YES, exactly what I’ve got in my little laptop.
Go!  To the cliff with you, hand over your first born to pay homage to Steve of the Hereafter! Um, entry-level iPads are actually just a hair less expensive than the actual LAPTOP I can do everything I do on my home computer, with the convenience of having it with me at school and it weighs the same as a Mac Mini but has three times the RAM.  Homogeneous iCulture.  While you sell out to own a piece of fruit with a bite already taken out of it, I’ll skip down the road, laptop paid for in cash money.  No bill left over.  But I can’t believe people actually take out FINANCING to pay for an iAnything.  Just goes to show how far people are still going to keep up with their neighbors.  Still shoving themselves in a financial hole while I run on winged shoes hollering,
“YOU’LL NEVER GET ME!!!!   MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”
But, now I must leaving the iLemmings to their plug-and-play bliss, saving up every last dime as they salivate and step on each other, to get rid of their perfectly fine, babbling brook of a phone who has all of the sense of humor a piece of styrofoam for a new iPhone 5.  If they want to be broke, that’s their business and they can morgage themselves to their eyeballs for their iWorld, it’s none of my business.  What I did get though is reminds to my favorite black-clad ciphers from The Book of D’ni.  The true example of what it is to live without pride…my beautiful relyimah.  The Unseen.
At only around 3 pounds, my new baby is light as a feather, perfect for lugging around campus for the beginning of…
MY SENIOR YEAR! Woohooo!
So, now on top of work, I’ve officially taken on a crafting project.  My new laptop. 
 
Yes Barry, she’s an HP.  An M6 series to be exact.  Hey, shush!  I got a good deal and I shan’t have any iLemmings besmirching my new little darling.  She integrates perfectly with my huge desktop machine, except guess what, I’ve got an easier time working with my Wacom tablet because I’m not bound and shackled to my desk!
I will admit though, I was a bit disappointed at first when I found out it only came in black.  But, hey…after praying for one for a while now, I’ll take what fits within my price range and desired specifications.
Not to sound ungrateful, but it wasn’t until I got her home, unwrapped her and really took a look at her appearance that a grand idea hit me like a ton of bricks.  As the Book of D’ni said, “Clad only in black, they appeared to be more like ciphers than men,” so since she’s skinny as a rail, and clad all in black, shiny in some places and so forth, I started searching all over the Internet for a Myst-themed laptop…a skin of some type.   You know what I found?
Nothing.
Oh yeah…Dance with me…going to make my groovy laptop into something my Myst family will love!

What is incredibly ironic about all of this is that, well, the Myst franchise was born on the MacOS. Yep, a PC girl who digs on a game that was born as an iLemming.  Who knew.  LOL!

But, it doesn’t matter to me.  Myst is Myst and just like good people, it wouldn’t matter if it was blue, green, aquamarine, an apple or an orange, it’s good stuff, so I love it just the same.

Now how on earth do you start a process like this?  Well, easy really. First things first, is you have to get what you’re working on to look right, so you start by customizing your desktop.

  1. Start over at  mystjourney.com.  Over there you’ll find Myst desktop wallpaper aplenty, if you’re like me, you grab them all and save them all into one folder.
  2. Then you  right-click the desktop and hit personalize.
    We’re concerned with the four little options at the bottom.
  3. Then just click on the desktop background and click on “Slideshow”.  Navigate your way to your folder with all of those great images created by the wonderful fella over at MystJourney.com and select the folder. Don’t forget to choose how you want it to fit on the screen and how often you want the picture to change.  In my case I can’t ever get enough Myst so I set mine to five minutes.
  4. Then go to the next button “Window Color.”  For me, I picked a very nice, reminiscent of Channelwood rusty brown.  Everywhere in Myst you’ll find a rusty hue, so that’s what I went with.
  5. For the sounds, I’m not done yet.  I’ve got my game soundtracks that are just waiting for me and Audacity to sit down and make a few cool sounds.  I definitely want to see if I can make a bahro shriek my error noise.  LOL!  OR how about the logon sound being Yeesha’s voice saying “Shorah” in Uru!  Omg!  That’s hot, I GOTTA do it.
  6. Then for the screen saver, hey, you have to be inventive and a problem solver if you’re a Myst fan.  I went over to Cnet.com and picked up Sim Aquarium 3.  No, there’s no Whark in the aquarium. Sorry to say, but there is a setting to create what looks like rain hitting the water, making these groovy ripples that go over the screen when you move your mouse, kind of like in Eder Kemo near the book room to go back to Gira.

    Like this:

                     

  7. The only things left?  The desktop icons and the external skin.  Those are works in progress.  I’m trying to figure out what I want to use as the D’ni equivalent of the recycle bin, my computer, and other icons I want to change or make uniquely Myst.
But, on top of all of that good stuff, I’m going to give it the final shove to make it feel like falling into the Star Fissure.  Here, let me give you a clue…
Custom D’ni numbers on the top line and the 10-key keypad.  That’s right!  Envy me. Combined with D’ni glyphs spelling “relyimah” on the cover skin with a few extra flourishes?  Oh yeah, now that’s MY laptop.
Wanna see how the desktop looks right now?
And yep, those are earthquake occurrences from the US Geological Service.  I’m such an earthworm!  Atrus would be proud.

Point of Genesis

Have you ever sat back and wondered where things come from?

Have you ever sat down in a movie, behind a video game or heck, just looked at the clothes in your closet and wondered, “Hey, who came up with the idea for that?”

Think about the guy who came up with the line, “The Cake is a Lie” and how many people when they hear it now scream, “PORTAL!”

Think about the guy somewhere out in the world who came up with the battle cry,”For the Horde” that now engenders thousands upon thousands of screaming fans to get up out of their seats in applause.

Those are just two examples of individuals sitting at the point of genesis creating something entirely new.

Here, let’s put it into your lap and have you think about it for a while.

What is a point of genesis?

Well, it’s where you sit and watch an entirely new concept take shape, but it takes shape according to YOUR ideas, YOUR judgement calls and otherwise everything YOU throw into it and it starts to brew and bubble on its own.  Imagine putting all of your imagination in a pot, then stirring and out comes a finished concept to present to the world.

I guess you could exchange “point of genesis” with the phrase “hanging your ass out on the line” because it’s not only risky, but highly taxing on the mind, body and spirit.

Do you have any idea how much pressure is on someone who sits at a point of genesis? Let’s grab Hottie #9 from my list, Chris Metzen, as an example.

Chris Metzen sits at a constant point of genesis. He’s a guy who comes up with characters, story arcs, whole places, continents and worlds that all spring straight from his brain.  From there, programmers, artists, modelers and a whole cast of working folks take his ideas and present them in digital format, i.e. the latest expansion pack that’s coming out for World of Warcraft, The Mists of Pandaria that just so happens to be launching on my birthday, September 25th.

Here, take a peek:

Now, after all that, I want you to sit in his chair for a minute:

Before they even began to make the announcement for what the players have now dubbed as Mists, Chris, Alex Afrasiabi and a whole crew sat down and pondered what they were going to do.  As he said, they had been through plenty of supervillains throughout the history of World of Warcraft, namely Ragneros in Molten Core, Illidan in Black Temple, Arthas the Lich King in Northrend, Deathwing over the skies of Cataclysm, I mean they have gone through the baddest cats on the block…who were they going to go after next?  Who was left?

Well, that left them sitting at the point of genesis where they had to come up with something entirely new.

Before the pandas showed up or the entirely new “continent” that those pandas call their home had been created, the guys up at Blizzard might have toiled for hours, days, weeks and months trying to figure out who the latest bad guy was going to be; or Chris Metzen might have a brilliant moment of inspiration as he stood in his neighborhood grocery store checkout line at the same time thousands of gamers were running to their nearest video game shop to tear Wrath of the Lich King from store shelves. We’ll never know.  But, having to think an expansion ahead, or even down to a content release ahead requires him and his team to sit at a point of genesis on almost a daily basis.  And folks, that is a very hard place to sit because the demands, and stakes, are extremely high.

I have always been one to sit back and have appreciation for what comes out of creative people’s heads. But, let’s face it, not everyone is that way. Not everyone sits back and looks at the creative process with a set of eyes that realizes that someone sat at their desk late into the evening, trying desperately to find that one brilliant creative spark that gave birth to what they now can use to fly, swim, ride or glide. In an online worlds sense, people don’t think that the design for their flying mount, hoverboat or other aerial conveyance had to come from someone’s brain before it hit the desk of the modeler, texture artist, QA tester, alpha tester, beta tester then finally to them. To be honest, I really don’t think a lot of people think about the creative process that went into the keyboard they type on or the smartphone they carry around in their pockets.  People have a tendency to forget where things come from, and to be honest, I think it’s pretty sad and for the most part, ungrateful.

For more YEARS than I can count, I have heard individuals tear into ideas. Heck, I’ve even laid into some of the more Darwinian mistakes with unbridled venom. I’ll be the first to say that I freaked out when they took out my beloved perma-tree form and replaced it with a Tree-Fro.  Come on, who ever thinks that the newest incarnation of a druid’s tree form is the least bit feminine, put your hand up so someone else can slap you for me. It wasn’t the brightest move, but still, the idea for that new tree form had to come from somewhere. Yes, I put up my hand and asked to look like a walking Wisteria, but come on, I thought for sure they’d at least make us gals look half way feminine.

Ok, here’s the before shot:

Now here’s the after, along with the Wisteria I was talking about:

Ya think maybe I’m feeling a little bit responsible for that? I actually posted, “I’d definitely go for a walking wisteria look” in public. To my shame, I’m the ONLY one who ever said anything about a wisteria…yet, there’s the tree form to prove it. I honestly feel like I’m responsible for both the tree form disaster and the “Chevy Runs Deep” campaign catastrophe because my winning entry over on the now-defunct Myst Movie site had in very large type at the bottom “Cavern Blood Runs Deep” six months before those commercials began to air, on top of the fact I had been using that phrase since 2004. Coincidences? Maybe, but from where I’m sitting, it’s very plausible that I could be very responsible.

My problem with sitting actively at a point of genesis is that I’m used to failure. Hey, I’m used to people thinking they know more than I do and shoving me out of the way, that’s why becoming Phi Kappa Phi was such a damn shocker! Over the years I’ve become quite accustomed to just taking rejection with a grain of salt, hoping for success on the next one. Come on, even the guy who I’ve been seeing doesn’t even think I’m worthy of emotional reciprocation because he thinks my emotional needs are okay to be shoved out of the way too, so I’m not seeing where I can draw a lot of confidence at the moment.

But let’s go back to hottie #9, he gives me some comfort because Chris Metzen didn’t make the hotties list just because of his face and his voice…it’s because he sits squarely at the point of creation, gushing out idea after idea, concept after concept, for millions of players to look at, enjoy, tear into, ridicule and put through the collective wringer all of the parts of the world he creates solely from his imagination and his knowledge of the Warcraft universe.  Do you actually want to sit there and think it’s easy?

But, forget whole continents filled with content from structures to “NPC’s” (non-player characters) running around. Terraforming alone will bake your noodle, from forests filled with trees to snowy cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls. But let’s go further, to the avatar. An avatar from the ground up is one of the hardest things to create. From something as basic as height or body shape to skeletal rigging, animations (which include emotes, dance moves, idle animations, poses, how you sit, stand, jump, swim, how you swing your sword or cast your spells, anything that requires movement), to how external assets sit on the skeleton, even down to the most miniscule of nose wrinkles as the avatar goes “Eww”, there’s a ton of stuff going on. All those things are great, don’t get me wrong, but one detail that most people don’t put any thought into is how the actual skin of their avatars came to be. You know, the fleshy part? The part that gets goosebumps if the action gets thick?  Yeah, just the actual skin, no more, no less. How much thought do you think goes into it?

Let’s have a little fun:  Including the newest race, the Pandaren, how many races are there now in World of Warcraft?  Any takers before I let the answer out of the bag?

No?

How about this, let’s list them out.

For the Alliance you have:

  • Dwarf
  • Draenei
  • Gnome
  • Human
  • Night Elf
  • Worgen

For the Horde you have:

  • Blood Elf
  • Forsaken
  • Goblin
  • Orc
  • Tauren
  • Troll

So, that’s six a piece, plus the Pandaren equals a whopping 13 different races.  Don’t run away so fast, there’s more.  Now, multiply that by two because why? Two genders.  Now we’re up to 26.  Oh no, you still don’t get away because guess what? How many different shades of skin tone does each race have? Some have seven available, others have more than 10! Oy veh.  Get out your calculators because guess what, take that 26 and let’s multiply it by the race with the highest number of skintones I found, 12, which happens to go on the humans.  Now hit the equals button.

I heard that swear!  That’s right!  Holy Cow! That’s approximately 312 individual skins, and that’s not counting eyes, hair, facial markings, facial hair, earrings, lips, eyebrows, eyelashes or anything else that is a part of the physical essence of the avatar. You want the extras? Do the math! If there is one variable, say the eye color, it has at least five permutations for avatar customization by itself.   And some dodo birds out there actually have the nerve to think that the buildings are the things that are hard to make.

Have you gotten nauseous yet? Have your knees started to buckle under all that yet?  Oh, come on ya wimps! You can take more than that!

Who do you think came up with the idea that Orcs should be shades of green, yellow-green and all the way to brown, or said the skin of a Tauren needs to look exactly like a cow’s?  But one better yet, the universal truth throughout WoW: who in the hell decided to leave the joints exposed on a Forsaken (undead)? Because from Silithus to Silvermoon City, Booty Bay to Icecrown Citadel, everyone agrees, it doesn’t matter what you put an undead in, all the armor looks pretty much like shit. Someone though, way at the point of genesis decided that those joints needed to be showing to create the unmistakable presence of an undead in the raid, the battleground or wherever that undead wants to be.  You can’t miss them from a mile off, and it is also why the folks that play undead love them to pieces. I’ll be the very first to admit, when you’re in Undercity and your joints are showing, you feel right at home. But that was the genius of the person sitting at the point of genesis who decided that Undercity from the grotesque stitched abominations down to the skull-laden cages and scenery would make those tendon-showing characters feel right at home, even though their queen, Sylvanas would probably look more at home in Teldrassil or Silvermoon City amongst the elves.

But, from skin tones to eyecolor, avatar assets such as clothing or armor to weapons, vehicles and transportation hubs, it all came from someone who had the guts to sit at the point of genesis.

You want to talk about a hard job? Try coming up with a whole new world, then sit and dream up the names of the places, the architectural style, the foliage, every last detail on the avatars, NPC’s, critters and the list goes on of all the things that must, at one time or another spring from someone’s head as an entirely new idea. Every day I sit very grateful for guys like Chris Metzen, Alex Afrasiabi, Will Wright, Will Harvey, Jeffrey Ventrella, and every single person who ever sat behind their desks late into the night with just a map of some freshly terraformed terrain, knowledge of a physics engine, and just their imagination.  My hats are seriously off to them.

Think of it this way: If you sit at a point of genesis and do well, then everyone praises you. Do it wrong and there aren’t enough nails, hammers and planks of wood on the planet for the 10 million ways you’re going to be crucified. To put it in a very intimate way, imagine having to pick the skin tones, then present them to your friends then wonder how they are going to react to them, then the public’s reaction, and then after having screenshots, movies and all sorts of other media capture what you’ve picked and okayed be chowed down on, insulted, and possibly praised, even down to it influencing the buying decisions of the public.  Think about the Pandas. Now, WoW is not your typical “warm and fuzzy” world, now imagine it filled with Pandas. A Panda?  With those bloodthirsty thugs?  Well yeah, Chris Metzen seems to think so, and being that he’s sitting at the point of genesis for them, he has to take responsibility if it succeeds or fails.

Imagine that going into launch day for him.

And people say online worlds are just games.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Good luck with that one.

For the song of the day, I’m going to dig up a tune I was lead to just out of sheer serendipity by a band called Kings of Leon, a tune that is very helpful playing in the background, no matter what song it is, so I just picked an uplifting tune I liked:

The Bakers Dozen: Revenge of the Hotties List

As you well recall, I have been building a compendium of hotties as we’ve gone along.

In total, I’ve mentioned the “hotties list” in 12 separate posts.  Sometimes it’s references as to who deserves to make it, other times it’s been about who couldn’t make it onto the list even if they begged, pleaded and threw in a steak dinner at N9NE over at The Palms to prove how much beefcake they’ve got.
Everyone’s reasons for looking at someone and going “Oh that’s HOT” are different. Mine comes from how much pure nutritional value seems to radiate from within them. For the most part though, it’s how handsome they are combined with how much they make me laugh, cry or sit and contemplate the world.
Before I start though, I have to give Honorary Hotties status to Sean Connery and Robin Williams.  Mr. Connery for being hot from the moment he was born to the fact that he could be 200 years old and still set women’s thighs aflame with a simple “hello”.  Robin is a honorary hottie because he’s my all-time number one crush for so many reasons I won’t bother keeping you here all day to read them.

Most of all, I must give Honorary Hottie status to the one and only Rand Miller, the man who has never heard of me, but has changed my life forever with all things Myst:
Over the four years I’ve been writing, Rand’s vision of the world, his definition of photo-realism and his family’s ability to make the Seven Virtues available to everyone through great storytelling has been a huge part of keeping me going. That’s so much nutritional value in one person that I truly hope the man lives forever.

So, before I add on tonight’s honoree, let’s go back in time to review the guys who have made the list and the posts they spring from:

May 26, 2010 – One of my favorite posts of all time: “Boys.” kicked off the list with my appreciation for: 
  • #1 – Hugh Jackman
  • #2 – Ewan McGregor
  • #3 – Robert Downey Jr.
  • #4 – Sam Worthington
  • #5 – Matthew Fox

October 15, 2010 – From a lonely Friday night spent at home we got “Sigh with me…” and:

  • #6 – Matthew Goode

October 28, 2010 – After getting stood up on what was supposed to be the first date after the bomb went off, swooping down in drag to save the day was “One more for the hotties list” and:

  • #7 – Eddie Izzard
November 21, 2010 – A Saturday before the holidays pent up studying gave us a great werewolf flick and a “New hottie of the day” courtesy of:
  • #8 – Michael Sheen
December 6, 2010 – The day World of Warcraft: Cataclysm came out, it also gave us “Hottie of the Day, #9“:
  • #9 – Chris Metzen
July 8, 2011 – There was a good seven month break in additions to the hotties list until Game of Thrones premiered and the yummy sight of this fella playing Khal Drogo, followed soon after by him playing the title role in the re-make of Conan the Barbarian, we got “Books, books, books, and oh wait…TV…” and the beefcake smorgasbord of:
  • #10 – Jason Momoa
January 22, 2012 – After several sweet e-mails from a friend, we got “Thunderstruck” by Thor and:
  • #11 – Chris Hemsworth
Now we’re on to tonight’s addition to the hotties list who also makes our list of beautiful men, not counting the honorary’s, an even dozen.

Tonight’s hottie is the man who woo’d Oscar with his ability to disarm IED’s in The Hurt Locker. He also set the screen on fire this summer as Hawkeye in The Avengers. Until tonight, I had always believed he was a too cute for words 30-something, but after digging around a bit, the atheist in me is in doubt thinking there might just be a God because he’s 41, a whopping nine months older than I am. OMG! One I could actually date and get away with it! (Yeah, I know, not in a million years, like he’d even look at me…but hey, I can dream.)

The icing on the cake? You’ll never believe it in 100 years, but tonight’s hottie could also EASILY be Ace’s younger brother, or better yet, play Ace in a movie because they look extremely similar. From the bright blue eyes to the devastating smile that could bring any girl to their knees, I don’t believe there is one girl on the planet that would kick him from her bed for stealing covers, snoring, eating crackers or anything else that matter.

Here’s some groovy factoids I found:

  • He’d recognize the Kali sticks I have next to my bed for home protection.
  • He’s someone who could watch Muay Thai Boxing with me.
  • He’s someone who would understand why I beat the fool out of my pork chops to make good schnitzel or why cucumber salad and cold red cabbage salad rock.
  • He’s someone who I wouldn’t have to explain why vox are so important to the tune.
I’m telling you, this guy should have made the hotties list way back, but as it takes me forever to “get” things, I’m very grateful that we’ve gotten to him today.

Ok, I’ll kill the suspense for you.  Are you ready?  Here’s Mr. Even Dozen because he is all that nestled in with the glass of milk and the 11 other cookies on the plate:

#12 – Jeremy Renner

Oh thank you, thank you to whomever came up with the term “even dozen!” WooT!  Here, because he’s just  so Ace-a-licious, let’s have a smiley pic:

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Genetics, aren’t they just wonderful?

Best part?  I can look all I want, I can watch his performances on screen and think of the beautiful Ace sans the bad attitude and emotional unavailability. I seriously doubt Mr. Renner has ever looked at any of his girlfriends and told them that he’d give them emotional reciprocation “Only when he’s goddamn good and ready.”

Yep, and that’s why Mr. Jeremy Renner is the Hottie of the Day. He gives me hope for my generation.