“I am best friends with NASA and they looked at your code and said that it is junk code and that you…”
Throughout the project, he did the same thing with Reuters, ABC, and Fox News. These were all his friends.
Also, there were no frames in the code.
I was asked to do a “very simple” and “very small” project for a roofing…
I was asked to do a “very simple” and “very small” project for a roofing company - they needed a presentation folder. The project was given to me on a Wednesday evening at around 7 PM. I was told to have it done by Thursday afternoon.
I received a call at around midnight on Wednesday
Client: Where’s the project? We’re running late.
Me: It’s not even Thursday yet.
Client: I just got to China, and it’s already Thursday here. Noon, to be more exact. Which makes you late.
Flustered, I stayed up until 4a to complete it using the criteria they gave: follow the website aesthetic, use the following elements, use the logo from the website (which I had to redraw due to its small size), use the corporate colours, etc.
I then get a call from the client’s mother-in-law, explaining (on behalf of her son), that they don’t like the colour choices, the elements I used, etc. She less-than-politely told me to start over.
Me: I’m afraid we’re already well outside what we agreed on as per our contract, and I would have to charge additional time if you want any more changes.
Client: You’re greedy and a cheat. I want our deposit back.
Me: I’m sorry, but you’ve already breached our contract several times and I’ve been polite enough to ignore the penalties that come with doing so.
Client: I’m in China, there’s nothing you can do.
A female kangaroo is always pregnant. While one joey grows in…
A female kangaroo is always pregnant. While one joey grows in her pouch, another one gestates in one of her two uteruses. As soon as the developed joey leaves the pouch, the next one is ready to come down the pipe—of which, by the way, she has three. Happy Mother’s Day.
Bogus Trademark Threat From Twisted Sister Forcing Coffee Shop To Change Its Name
jupiterkansas writes in to let us know that the band Twisted Sister has had its lawyers threaten and bully a Kansas coffee shop into changing its name from “Twisted Sisters.” For what it’s worth, the coffee shop owner says the name has absolutely nothing to do with the band:
The origin of the two names – Twisted Sister and Twisted Sisters – are vastly different as you might guess. Russell says the name for her store is a reference to a family label given to the sisters by their late brother back in the 1960s. He also used to call Nancy the “blond tornado” so Twisted Sisters and the logo, which looks like a tornado sketch are rooted in family and our Kansas location. Twisted Sister the band, we assume, has a different origin.In looking at the actual letter sent, it appears that the lawyer for the band is specifically objecting to the web URL the coffee shop has set up (it’s odd that the reporter leaves out this point). Still, in looking over the details, it seems pretty clear that the band and its lawyer are abusing trademark law here. It is true that Twisted Sister has a trademark (1098366) issued in 1978, but that trademark only covers: “ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES RENDERED BY A VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL GROUP.” As the band’s lawyer must know, trademarks are issued in particular categories, and having a mark in a single category does not mean you have control over those words.
While the letter also points out that they have successfully convinced other businesses to change their name, that still doesn’t make the claim valid. The likelihood of confusion here is nil. No one is going to this coffee shop thinking it’s run by the band or has any association with the band. Furthermore, the lawyer’s suggestion that this would qualify as “dilution” also seems ridiculous. We’re no fans of the dilution theory of trademark law (which seems to go against the very basis of trademark law), to be sure, but even if you accept it as valid, it is difficult to see how there’s a valid dilution claim here. Yes, the band’s mark is famous, but how the hell would they show that a random coffee shop in Kansas “dilutes” their brand in any meaningful way?
Furthermore, even if the band has bullied other stores into changing their names, it does not mean they’re the only “Twisted Sister” out there. In fact, they’re not even the only Twisted Sister with trademarks. In looking through filings, I found legitimate approved trademarks for… Twisted Sister the board game (85857824), Twisted Sisters boutique clothing offering (3216315) and Twisted Sisters Our Business Is Dyeing offering colored yarns (3027439). All of those are live trademarks that appear to have nothing to do with the band.
It seems like if the owner of the coffee shop, Sandi Russell, wanted to turn around and scream back at the band “we’re not gonna take it; no, we ain’t gonna take it; we’re not gonna take it, any more…” she might be able to find a lawyer more than willing to make that argument. Unfortunately, from the sound of the article, it appears that Russell is caving in to the bullying and looking to change the shop’s name.
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Classic strategy series Battle Isle returns this year as iOS exclusive
Thomas Hertzler, founder of Blue Byte and creator of The Settlers series, is back on the gaming scene at the helm of a new outfit called Stratotainment. Hertzler’s first agenda item: reboot Battle Isle. The classic sci-fi wargame series hasn’t seen a new game since Bill Clinton was president, but the originals were absolutely outstanding, and even spawned a pretty convincing X-Com clone as a spin-off.
Stratotainment aim to get Battle Isle: Threshold Run out for iOS (the only announced platform) in Q4 of this year — an interesting bit of timing, given that the Battle Isle-inspired Battle Worlds Kronos is expected to drop around that time as well.
In the press statement, Hertzler promises that the rebooted Battle Isle will be “something innovative and exciting”, rather than a direct sequel to the established franchise. This is still a game in the concept art and storyboard stage, though — who knows what to expect? But hey, at least it’s not a Kickstarter.
Classic strategy series Battle Isle returns this year as iOS exclusive
Pocket Tactics | The home of proper games on iPhone, iPad and Android: strategy, RPGs, sims, and more.
Pocket Tactics | The home of proper games on iPhone, iPad and Android: strategy, RPGs, sims, and more. - The home of proper games on iOS and Android: strategy, RPGs, sims, and more.
Women are Attracted to Musicians, French Study Reports
I’d like to contribute this data point to the study.
It’s still the best accordion picture ever.
The abstract for a study conducted by three French researchers and published in the journal Psychology of Music has a rather dry way of putting it:
Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context
This experiment tested the assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection.
Simply put: Ladies love musicians! I could’ve told you that, and the Globe and Mail explains the study in more detail.
Streetlight Manifesto Can’t Fulfill Pre-Orders Because Label Refuses To Give Them Their Own Records
A year ago, we wrote about how the band Streetlight Manifesto was urging people to boycott its own album, unless it was bought directly from the band, because their label, Victory Records, wasn’t giving them any of the money. Here’s what they said at the time:
We’re writing today to ask you to please boycott all Streetlight related items by not purchasing any of our records or merchandise from Victory’s website, any traditional CD stores, online third party retailers or any digital distribution service (iTunes, Amazon etc). Victory has a long-time reputation of pocketing all of the proceeds from a band’s music and merch, with shady accounting and generally bully-ish behavior. If you want to support Streetlight, our music and our ability to tour and continue to release music, please make all SM related purchases from our own webstore, The RISC Store (www.riscstore.com), or come out to a show and buy a shirt or cd from us directly. In regards to getting the music we make, you can buy directly from us, or, alternately, we’re sure you can find a way to get the tunes onto your computer that may not be, ahem, traditional… Speaking a Bit metaphorically, there is a Torrent of methods to accomplish this, and Google is your always loyal friend…Believe it or not, things have now gotten even worse. Tim Griffiths writes in to let us know that the band was preparing to launch its latest album, and had even been taking preorders for the album through its own store as mentioned above… but now they claim Victory won’t even give them copies of their own album to sell:
Q: Why do I not have my record yet? I totally want it.The issue is made more complex by the fact that the band’s lead singer, Toh Kay, also released a companion album to the SM album, with a very similar name. SM’s new album is The Hands That Thieve, while Toh Kay’s is The Hand That Thieves. When Toh Kay put up a video from his album, Victory claimed it infringed on their copyright and had it taken down.
A: Simple – Victory Records has refused to send us any of Streetlight’s new album. Without that – we can not send out pre-orders. Classy move. Read on for more information about your order.
Q: I wanted to hear the Toh Kay record. The music video – before Victory took it down – was beautiful and so was the song. My gosh. What happened?The band is offering to give back people’s money, or figure out other ways to satisfy various orders. As in the past, they’ve also suggested that alternative means to finding the album might be fans’ best path:
A: Victory had given Streetlight a choice: either completely kill the Toh Kay record (their absurd reasoning was that its sale would “cannibalize” Streetlight sales, ha!) or hand it over to them so they can release it and exclusively profit from it. Streetlight has experienced and documented years of Victory not paying royalties while continuously profiting from their music, so it was a no-brainer. We had to cancel the record, no matter how much we all loved it and how hard the guys worked on it. That music video, by the way, is also “illegal”. So if you saw it – your eyes are criminals.
Q: The Streetlight record leaked online – I already ordered it through you – how should I feel inside about downloading it?And also, this:
A: We can’t tell you how or where to download it – but if you already paid for it, and it’s being withheld from you by the band’s own record label – well, take that how you will.
Q: This whole situation makes me hate the music industry and I now understand why it – as a business entity – is failing across the board.Remember stories like this the next time labels pretend that they represent the best interests of artists.
A: Yeah. I hear ya. I just downloaded Dredd 3D – wanna watch it with me?
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A Class Of Their Own: The Mint Juleps
There is a family of cocktails that beings with Gimlets and ends with a dinner party at Oscar Wilde’s house. Delicate drinks, dribbled into Champagne Coupes. You’ll find them mentioned in just about every book about high society in the 1920’s. Alas this is not about that family.
It’s about “Smashes”.
Which is the best name for a family of drinks you could hope to come up with. Smashes are part of a hot climate tradition that starts at the Mason-Dickson Line and ends somewhere near the tip of South America.
In muggy hot weather the recipe for a good time is simple. Find whatever glassware is on hand. Throw in fresh lime / mint, crushed ice, and your regional spirit. Muddle and away you go.
Use bourbon and mint if you’re fighting the heat with a Mint Julep (Southern United States). Use Rum and lime and it’s a Mojito (Cuba). Grab a bottle of Cachaça and you’re making a Caipirinha (Brazil).
It’s about as simple and as perfect as you can get. But the universal truth is in refreshing nature of the smash.
Pictured above is a lazy mans Smash. 2oz of bourbon, 2 sprigs of mint, 1 lime quartered and whole cubes of ice, thrown into a mason jar. Just tighten the lid and shake to muddle and break down the ice. It’s easy, refreshing and you get to hear the lid ‘pop’ when crack each fresh drink.
If you’ve got time and some Summer shade you might want to try making a proper Julep for your next patio date:
Mint Julep (Bourbon)
- 2oz Aged Bourbon
- 2 Sprigs Spear Mint
- 2 Dashes Bitters (Jerry Thomas, house bitters or Angostura)
- 1oz Water
Added a small amount of bourbon and mint leaves to the bottom of the glass of your choosing though traditionally pewter or copper cups are the way to go, since they frost and freeze the contents.
Muddled mint into a paste, add an ounce of water, remaining bourbon, and crushed ice and stir until your copper frosts on the outside.
Garnish with the second sprig and your on your way to being a Southern Gentleman.
About the School Prayer That Caused Students to Miss Class…
Yesterday, I posted about Lumpkin County High School (Georgia) and how 50 students there prayed together (with an adult coach) for two hours at the beginning of the school day, causing them to miss class. Superintendent Dewey Moye decided he wouldn’t punish anybody over the incident.
Well, I have to apologize.
I apparently got a very important detail of the story wrong and I need to take this moment to correct my mistake.
Lumpkin County Schools Superintendent Dewey Moye now says a prayer at school lasted more than six hours.
Garrett Gray, a 10th grader at Lumpkin County High School, said that between 12 and 15 fellow students turned their lives over to Christ during the prayer.
“There were like 10 to 15 people dropped right there. It was just the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen — just dropped on their knees. They got saved. Everybody was praying. Everybody was crying, and that went on until about 1:30,” Gray said.
Oh. And there’s this:
Moye said that he has caught some heat for not disciplining the 50-plus students or four faculty members involved.
So 50 students and 4 faculty members skipped a day of school to pray and nobody was punished for it. No suspensions for the students, who ditched their classes. No loss of salary for the faculty members who presumably weren’t helping their other students because… Jesus.
Unbelievable. If these people were doing anything other than prayer, they would have been punished immediately. Superintendent Moye is sending the message that religion trumps education in his district.
What’s next? A student getting an extra day to do an assignment because Jesus ate his homework?
how to make games about being a dominatrix
so i was invited to speak at the first-ever different games conference in brooklyn, april 26th and 27th (at the “nyu-poly” campus, WHICH FELT ODDLY APPROPRIATE). let me tell you, first of all, some cool things they did. shortly before the conference i emailed them, concerned about their security policy which required folks to wear badges carrying the names on their government id cards (for a lot of trans people, not the names they go by). probably nyu campus policy. they immediately responded by negotiating with security to have their own printed badges, bearing the conference attendee’s chosen name, count as security passes. also, they converted two bathrooms into gender-neutral bathrooms. see: it’s not hard to make your conference more welcoming to trans people.
the other thing that i really liked about the conference was its use of the word “difference” as a really inclusive, intersectional term, encompassing race, gender, ability, queerness. it made me think about the language i use, how i frame my own work. what also made me think: i realized during different games that no one’s really talking about class and how it affects people’s access to game development tools, and what tools. (fer example: lots of underprivileged queer folks use twine because it’s free and because they never had the opportunity to go to tech school and learn to code.) different games is an academic conference, mostly attended by academics – it’s not really surprising that the class conversation doesn’t come up there, or at similar conferences.
what did i actually say at different games? i was on a panel with robert yang, mattie brice and haitham ennasr, some of my favorite geniuses. we each gave a short talk and then we took questions. my talk was called “how to make games about being a dominatrix.” instead of slides, i had my slut illustrate my talk live using transparencies and an overhead projector. i didn’t let her look at my speech ahead of time. people seemed to like it, though the projector burnt out close to the end. you can watch all four talks and the panel here – that’s another cool thing about different games, they recorded all the talks and put them online for free. anyway, have a transcript of my talk:
as people who spend a lot of time making and discussing games, we talk a lot about the rules of games – we develop a mechanical understanding of them. and rightly so, because we create play by designing rules. tetris’ whole trajectory comes from the rule that only complete lines are eliminated from the screen – mistakes and imperfections remain, making it harder to create complete lines.
the ways that the rules of tetris interact to create a meaningfully stressful experience are fascinating and beautiful, as true an expression of art as anything you’d find hanging in a gallery.
but as a queer game designer i find that most of my work isn’t motivated strictly by a pure abstract desire to play with the form. most of the time, my games are motivated by imperatives to represent aspects of my identity, or to provide criticism, or to interrogate politics.
so i’m going to talk about context: the ways in which we frame our rules and communicate them to the player.
here is the first thing to know about context:
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
in 2009 i made a game called MIGHTY JILL OFF. the protagonist of mighty jill off is submissive in a latex suit who jumps really high, and has to jump all the way up a tall tower in order to prove herself to her queen, the recipient of her devotion and lust.
if you’ve played mighty jill off, and if you’ve also played a nintendo game called MIGHTY BOMB JACK, you may have observed that they play exactly the same. the bomb jack games are about outmaneuvering enemies using elaborate in-air acrobatics. jack can stop jumping on a dime, giving him perfect control of the height of his jump. he can hover in mid-air, giving him greater horizontal mobility during a jump. the player can hold UP or DOWN when initiating a jump, controlling the parabola of his jump.
i was really fascinated by these games for a while. when i made mighty jill off, i stole the entire vocabulary of rules for in-air motion from bomb jack. the mid-air break, the hovering – i didn’t keep the holding up and down because it didn’t seem necessary.
so we have two games whose most important rules – the rules from which the play comes – are identical. do we have two identical games?
we don’t. mighty jill off is about the relationship between a submissive masochist and her domme. what i’m talking about, though, isn’t a superficial reskinning: mighty jill off is informed by my person experience, it’s based on my relationship with my collared submissive.
that experience provides a context for the play: the difficulty of a game like that, the trust the player puts in the designer to adequately prepare her for any given challenge, the need to push her limits without breaking them, the player’s desire to prove herself to the game by meeting the game’s expectations for her – these things resonate with my own experience as a domme and a top.
mighty jill off is a game that communicates ideas that mighty bomb jack does not. it does contain a set of rules which interact with one another in ways that are interesting and meaningful to the player, but it frames those rules and their interactions in a way that relates (and encourages the player to relate) to my personal experience.
that’s important in the face of the games culture that brought us bioshock infinite. bioshock is a game that forces you to watch images of racialized violence – there’s a part where you watch a man of color pecked to death by crows, begging for his life. and then a minute later you gain a power-up that lets you have crows peck people to death.
bioshock infinite is an EMPATHY-CHALLENGED game. the culture of videogames is an EMPATHY-CHALLENGED culture. videogames needs stories of racism from people who experience it, not bioshock infinite.
context is everything. in 2011 i made a game called TRANSGRESSION that is essentially a “find the hidden object” game. but what you’re trying to find is a woman who has a penis at michigan womyn’s music festival. this game would be trivial without the context. (and let me add as a disclaimer that i really like where’s waldo books.) but the entire purpose of TRANSGRESSION is to illustrate the absurdity of michfest’s “womyn-born womyn” policy by reducing it to as simple and transparent a system as possible.
do you see what i’m saying? context is a tool we can use for visibility, representation, empathy and satire. as marginalized people, the contexts of our lives are political.
as creators and critics, we have every right to investigate and to play with the friction of rules bouncing off each other, to explore in the abstract the dynamics and systems that the interaction of those rules creates. but as people whose social existence is driven by dynamics and whose lives involve struggle with systems of oppression that are invisible to the privileged, we have a unique opportunity to give our dynamics and systems contexts that are informed by our lived experiences.
in march i made a game called TRIAD. it’s a puzzle game about sliding weird-shaped tiles around to try and fit them in a limited space. but the space is a bed, and the weird-shaped tiles are three people who are trying to sleep together successfully. this is one of the fundamental problems i’ve encountered as someone who is poly – someone who has multiple partners.
the sliding tile puzzle is an old game, but it’s the context, again, that creates a meaning for players that doesn’t exist in games with similar puzzles. i’m not saying that i don’t believe in games as places for abstract mechanical exploration. i just can’t afford it.
to refuse to take a political stance is itself a political stance – it’s to stand with the status quo. and the status quo of videogames is alienating, is racist, is misogynist, promotes rape culture. it is important to me that my games exist in visible opposition to that. and a conversation about games, a criticism of games that is purely mechanical, that erases context, erases my identity.
as a trans woman, i exist in a society that is continuously trying to erase my identity. context, in my games, is the voice through which i speak my name.
context is everything.
The tunnels under College Hill
It’s interesting to find out that Providence had and still has, a 2000ft tunnel under Lovecraft’s beloved College Hill. In 1914 it replaced a cable-car system, and trolleys (trams) ran through until 1948. It still serves buses today.
There was a serious plan to create a subway system, but the First World War put it on hold. It was revived in the 1920s, but never happened.
Apparently there was also a mile-long Providence East Side Railway Tunnel, which likewise went under College Hill. Opened 1908 and stopped carrying passengers circa 1938. Some of the basements on the hill would rumble when a train passed beneath. It’s still there, but boarded up.
Which suggests that the 1926 “Pickman’s Model” could have had a model in Lovecraft’s Providence underground train experiences, as well as those on the New York subway and the short Boston Subway?
Old, Faithful: OpenXcom Is Near-Complete
Wowee, this is something I need to magic up a fortnight for. Since 2009, the OpenXcom project has been unhurriedly continuing in its quest to make the original X-COM more contemporaneous, – a standalone version that doesn’t require DOSBox, that makes the interface a little more modern, that offers more rule-tweaking for those that want it, that finally kills some of the bugs which have dogged the original for the past two decades, and even one that scales up to mega-resolutions impressively convincingly. As of the new version 0.9, it’s basically got everything working, and you basically get an in theory improved, but faithful, X-COM to play right now.
Dutch Law Would Authorize Police To Hack Into Foreign Computers And Phones: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
When we wrote last year about a Dutch idea to give police there the power to break into computers — even those located abroad — we and many others pointed out a number of deep flaws with the plan. Undeterred, the Dutch government seems to be going ahead with the scheme, as Bits of Freedom explains:
The police should be allowed to hack into mobile phones and computers, even when these are located abroad. This is proposed by the Dutch government on May 2nd of 2013. While this appears to be a powerful asset for law enforcement, in reality it creates unnecessary vulnerabilities for citizens.
Not content with that really bad idea, there’s a couple of others tacked on for good measure, as the BBC reports:
The bill would also make it a crime for a suspect to refuse to decipher encrypted files during a police investigation.
It’s easy to see how the last of those could be abused to silence inconvenient whistleblowers. Bits of Freedom sums up well the key danger with the bill:
It is expected the draft legislation will be put to parliament by the end of the year.
The bill singles out child pornography and terrorism as two areas of special concern. The publication of stolen data would also become punishable.
other countries, such as China, will use the powers as a justification for their own activities. They will follow the Dutch example by allowing their police to use the same methods, including hacking abroad, in order to delete controversial data. Civilians will become the victims in an arms race between hacking governments.
Indeed, it’s worth considering for a moment what the Chinese response will be when it finds Dutch police, with the full approval of the Dutch government, deleting files or installing spyware on computers on its territory. It won’t matter if the latter were involved in breaking into Dutch systems, or controlling a global botnet: national pride will be at stake over what will effectively be an attack on Chinese citizens and property. So as not to lose “face”, a robust response is guaranteed. Is the Netherlands (population 6,065,459) really ready to take on China (population 1,353,821,000) over this?
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Client: I watched the instructional video you prepared and I am able to add and publish a post. How…
Client: I watched the instructional video you prepared and I am able to add and publish a post. How do I get the new post to appear on the navigation menu?
Me: You watched the video from beginning to end?
Me: Okay, scroll to 6:30 on it.
Me: The title should read How to Make a New Post Appear
Me: Now finish watching the video.