Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Racism in MMO Games

Almost every day I log into an MMO I see racism. Yes, video games have racism. But I'm not talking about real world racism. I'm talking about being racist against other video game races. Show me someone who plays an elf and I'll show you someone who is racist against trolls.

My Gnome wizard in EQ2 hates Frogloks and Kerran, and those horribly annoying Sarnak. Casafin, my Fae berserker constantly makes fun of Arasai and those silly fat Halflings. And does anyone want to see a female Troll or Ogre? Sure there are always exceptions, everyone loves Mooshga. We all know a Froglok caster that tops the DPS list and is nice about it. But that is still racism, disliking an entire race and only making an exception for those that we are close to.

But this sort of racism is okay. Even the game creators say it is, and many NPC's are racist too. Races in video games are very different from each other. An dwarf and an elf are very different. Different cultures, different looks, and often times even different stats. And more importantly, the player chooses what race they want to be. And of course it's not meant to harm, it's just harmless role playing. We don't actually think ill of people that play particular races (except for those people that play those awful Sarnak, right?). Do the characters have a choice in what race they are? So is it right for one of my characters to hate halflings or does it make my character a bad person (except in the situation of Frogloks, they are just so annoyingly hoppy that it's okay to hate them no matter what).

Is this what it was like before I was born, when racism was acceptable? Could someone justify hating an Irish person because of their accent, and it not mean anything personal? Society said it was okay to hate, therefor it was okay. Video game society says it's okay to hate video game races, so it's okay. Right? Now, I understand that video games are obviously different than real life. We don't actually go around killing people of other races in video games (except for that thrill you get from killing a slow moving stupid ogre on the pvp servers, right?). We don't burn crosses on their lawns, and it's not 'real'. It's all make believe, pretend, fiction, role playing... But does it mirror something in us? Is video game racism a reflection of the fact that we can never fully get rid of racism in the real world? Is it a way for us to direct our need for hate? Or is it all just fun and games?

Personally for me, I have reasons for my dislike of races. I am allergic to cats and don't like litterboxes, so kerran remind me of that. Frogloks actually I would like, except their hopping animation I find distracting. Sarnak are just big, and friggin ugly (I'm just not a fan of their particular model being used as a character race). Arasi are fun to make fun of just because of their emo /dance animation. I personally actually have nothing against any race, it's all fun and games to me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Programming and language

Most folks that aren't programmers think programming is either really hard, or really easy. In truth it is both.

Programming is just language. If you speak a second language, like French or Spanish, then you know what it takes to learn another language. Programming is just language. You type out a set of instructions to the computer. That's it.

The tricky part is that it is a very picky language, and computers do not understand typos or bad grammar very well. So in order to be a good programmer, you have to really understand your language. Similar to if you want to write published papers you need to be pretty good at English.

Many programmers only learn a few languages, because that's all they need. Similarly, if you are only dealing with people in the Americas', you probably only need to know English French and Spanish. But there are those people that know 13 different spoken languages, the linguists out there. Well some of us are like that, and know more programming languages than we care to count. There are also those that study and create and read ancient spoken languages, there are also programmers that are like that.

Luckily, programming languages are much smaller than spoken languages. Much fewer ways to say things. Also, usually you are talking about very concrete topics, like math and science, and not fuzzy topics like emotions. Also, you can try running your code and see if the computer says "I don't understand". The only real problem comes up when you word something wrong and the computer thinks you mean something else.

So programming is only as hard as you want it to be. Learn a little, or learn a lot. There is always more languages to be learned, and if you run out, you can invent some new ones.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I had a dream last night and it fit me like a glove

Last night I dreamed I installed linux. Ubuntu I believe. In my bed. Yes, I dreamed I installed linux in my bed. I mean, if you are going to have an OS installed in your bed, do you really want Vista on there?

But it just wasn't working quite how I wanted. Because apparently I installed linux in my bed. And my pillow was just simply not behaving quite right. Normally I like to tuck my arm under the pillow, but apparently Ubuntu wouldn't let me do that. Whenever I tried the pillow would move. It was otherwise a completely functional pillow, except that if you tried to put anything under it (besides the bed of course) it would just not work.

So, I tried looking in the man pages for info on pillow and beds... but you know how man pages are. After a good hour I still couldn't figure out what I wanted (although I did learn all sorts of other completely unrelated things I could do with my bed). I also discovered that changing the covers was a pretty easy task if you installed this other little thing. So I downloaded the RPM and sure enough, pretty cool, I could change the color of my covers. Still couldn't put my arm under the pillow though.

Looked up a few other flavors of linux, and sure enough, pretty much none of them let you put your arm under the pillow. Apparently they would have to completely rewrite the pillow in order to allow that. So I got frustrated and decide maybe I should just give up and go with Windows since I knew you could put your arm under the pillow in Windows.

At that point my alarm went off and I woke up. My arm was under my pillow. WTF.

So, now I'm trying to analyze this dream. I believe my mind is trying to tell me about the frustrations of linux. So much potential, so much power, so much freedom, but there is always that annoying little frustrating thing that you can't figure out how to fix unless you get way too deep. But yet a strong desire to go away from Windows. But... why didn't I dream about a Mac bed? That would be a nice bed. Probably really sleek looking, and all white. I would totally buy a bed from Mac.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Male or Female?

It's pretty obvious for all of us to know if we are male or female. I mean, just check between your legs, right? But do you ACT and THINK like a male or female? That's a much trickier question.

I've always claimed that I am somewhere in between. Androgynous, so to speak. Not in the sense that I am a neither, but more that I have traits that are feminine, and traits that are masculine. I think this is a good thing, because I feel that I can relate to either gender.

So I ran across a little widget on BBC that identifies if you think like a girl or a guy.

It gives you a nice little graph at the end. Turns out I am right in the middle.

As a general rule, on each part I scored higher than BOTH men and women, the only exception was the eyes test (which I thought was done poorly, normally I am quite good at reading people's eyes), and Words (which I misunderstood how it was supposed to be done). I am more empathic than women, more analytical than men. I'm mostly ambidextrous, so that invalidated part of the test. My hands apparently are built like a woman's (I already know that from working in a jewelry store for a while). I prefer masculine looking faces apparently (but mostly I didn't like any of the photos, they all looked like mug shots). I'm not entirely sure I understood the Ultimatum test.

So there you have it. I'm androgynous in my gender identity. I'm the best of both. Or at least, that's what BBC tells me. I think what would be interesting is to see how different age ranges test on it... Are 50 year old men more 'manly' than new age 20 somethings?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amazon + Wizards = More Disappointment

Well, it looks like gamers have been hit again. 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons was released this last weekend (June 6th). But gamers have been anticipating D&D 4.0 for quite a while now. So I, like most of them, preordered a full set of books from Amazon.com.

I, like most gamers, misread what Amazon said on their website. The expected ship date was the 10th, however, most of us thought that would be the expected delivery date. It was a mistake on our part, there is no doubt of that. Of course Amazon wasn't shipping the books on the weekend, they only ship on weekdays. But why would it take until Tuesday to get the books shipped? Especially since they are preorders, couldn't they be packaged and ready to go?

It gets worse though. Here it is the 11th. And my books are not shipped yet. Most people I have talked to have not had their books shipped yet. I understand, an expected ship date is not a hard date, it can move. Currently anticipated delivery date is somewhere around the 23rd for my books.

But it gets even worse than that! Many gamers wanted there D&D books before the weekend, because that is when their group was planning on gaming. Realizing that their books wouldn't be here by then, they decided to upgrade their shipping, in hopes that it would get here by late Friday. Now comes an extremely important warning to all D&D gamers out there that might consider this: Changing your shipping appears to put you to the BACK of the shipping queue! There are people out there that upgraded their shipping to 2 day, but now their estimated ship date is in late July!

When Harry Potter books are released, everyone received their books on the day that the book was released. Except for the time that people received their books early. I understand that D&D books are not as popular as Harry Potter. A few days wait is understandable. However, some people are going to have to wait over a month before they get theirs. Right now I haven't heard anything to suggest if this mess is to blame on Amazon, Wizards, or both.

Our gaming group was lucky. I purchased a copy of the PH from Borders (we have two gamers in our house) and a full set from Amazon. The other half of our gaming group is halfway across the country (we play over the net), and it sounds like one of their books did ship and will hopefully get there before the weekend, so all of them get to share one book. If their book doesn't get there by Friday, then I guess we will have to cancel our session. Maybe I will play Wii Fit instead, if only I could find one in any of the stores... Whoa, deja vu...

Monday, June 9, 2008

4th Time's a Charm

I was very excited about the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, I pre-ordered the boxed set from Amazon. Unfortunately the delivery date was not the same as the release date. So I found myself buying a copy of the Player's Handbook from Border's (it never hurts to have multiple copies of the PH anyways).

One of the things I was looking forward to the most was the online table top. I don't like OpenRPG, which is why I helped co-develop d20 Chat. Both of course have their limitations, and I was hoping that the solution Wizards of the Coast was offering would bridge this gap, and more. I was looking forward to the character generator, the table top, the rules database, all of it! They called it D&D Insider.

When I got my PH, I saw in the back that there was a 10 day free trial of the tools. Which I thought was great (even though I planned on paying regardless, although I was not sure of the price at the time... but I was willing to pay quite a bit).

However, after much research, I could not figure out sign up for the tools. I have a forums account, I have a Gleemax account, I have the book, what more do I need? Where do I go? What's going on? After much research, I discovered that the toolset is not out yet. This annoyed me. I mean, we had previously been told they were planning to release them together, the books and the tools. Bummer.

I looked deeper, trying to figure out when they would be released. The answer? No ETA. Six months ago, this product was planning to be released at the beginning of June, and now there is no estimate. That is not a good thing. The direct quote was "I'd say a safe bet is at least a few months from now, probably longer". Wait, how long have they known this was going to be an issue? 05/07/2008. On that date, an article was posted talking about D&D Insider. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to read every individual column on Wizards. On top of that, in order to view the article you have to be signed into D&D Insider. Which means that info wasn't exactly a public press release.

I feel that we were mislead. We were promised a product, and it did not happen. I know that sometimes software does not make it's deadlines, I'm a programmer after all. Deadlines are moving targets. But in most lines of work, if you miss a MAJOR deadline like this one, you are in trouble. If a video game does not come out when it says, and instead no ETA is given, it is usually referred to as vaporware.

I know, it's only a few months, right? Except for the fact that they say they will only release one component at a time, and that it will likely be a month or so in between each iteration. The piece I REALLY want is the game table (my gaming group is spread across multiple states). This means it could be a year before I get the game table. That is, if it even happens.

Let us examine the track record of Wizards of the Coast regarding D&D software.

First, there was "Character Generator", it came with the original 3.0 PH. It was very buggy, and lots of the equations and data was simply incorrect. It was made by Fluid Entertainment. Later it did receive an update, which made it functional, and correct, albeit still not very useful.

They announced a big upcoming tool called Master Tools, it was going to be a character generator, 3d map builder, monster generator, and tons of other wonderful tools. It didn't really pan out, most features got cut, and it became "E-Tools: Character and Monster Generator". Which was not very impressive, and very buggy.

Wizards realized that maybe Fluid Entertainment was not doing them well, so they switched to Code Monkey Publishing. CMP worked very hard fixing major bugs, and adding more datasets. They also supported the open source project PCGen, and they supplied files that worked with PCGen. This was an excellent move. However, they expected miracles from CMP, and CMP simply wasn't fast enough about performing them. Perhaps CMP should have hired more people. Wizards dropped CMP just when everyone was starting to trust and like CMP (I purchased quite a few data sets to use with PCGen through them).

And here we are now. Waiting for D&D Insider to pan out.

This makes me hope that PCGen is going to support 4th edition. It also makes me think I need to get to work adding a battle grid to d20 Chat, as that is one of the most glaring missing features.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Revelation of the Century

I realized something today. It's earth shattering really. Or at the very least it's a paradigm shift. So what is this big shocker you might ask?

My clothes washer and dryer are not shrinking my clothes. Unless my nice slacks (which I never wear) and my suit jacket (which I never wear) have somehow magically shrunk while sitting in the closet for several months...

Well, I guess this means I am faced with a choice. I can either buy a whole new wardrobe to accommodate this, or I must become more active. Not sure which would be easier...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Update your drivers dude

So, I've been playing LOTRO quite a bit lately... but it's been crashing in SLI mode. A lot. So I decided to update my drivers, because that's the obvious first step. But check out this crazy widget that nvidia allows you to put on your own webpages (or blogs)!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Silently Fail - The Death of Happiness

Sometimes programs fail to do what they should. Usually they pop up an error message. Occasionally they explode in a fireball of death. But that is not as bad as silently failing. You press the send button, it looks like it sent, but it didn't. You tell it to save your file, it looks like it's saved, but it's actually not. These silent failures are the death of happiness.

Recently I have been setting up a web server at work. I want this server to be running Asp 2.0, with .Net Framework of 3.5 because I'm crazy like that. Last week it was all set up, ready to go... It was eagerly awaiting my website to be added so that it could serve it to the masses.

Yesterday the piece of code I have been working on has reached a point where it could be tested by humans (humans being non-programmers). I uploaded it into the virtual directory, and what did I get in return? http 404. WHAT?!? 404?!? It's sitting right there! I access an image in the same folder, and it displays. Why is it refusing to display my aspx file? What is going on?

After a bit of tinkering, I told that virtual folder to run in asp 1.1, at which point it gave me errors that I would expect to see if I ran it in 1.1... I put it back to asp 2.0 and it gives me a 404. Why would that happen?

Well, after a bit of tinkering, I discovered that it was because the framework 3.5 install did not complete. I had installed it, it said success, but anything I run that requires any framework above 2.0 would not work. The install had silently failed. I spent two days hunting this problem down when I should have been doing something meaningful with my life.

But now I reinstalled 3.5, and low and behold, it is all working perfectly.

Yes, silently failing is the death of happiness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Flickr Video

Wow, what a cool idea. Normally I think video on the internet is completely silly. But I like this idea. Flickr has decided to allow users to upload very short videos.

This actually makes a lot of sense. Flickr is a place for people to share their personal photos with each other. Sometimes it's art pictures, and sometimes it's just personal pictures. But the thing is, a lot of times people are taking videos, not pictures. Our digital cameras take videos as easily pictures.

Very cool. They are limited to 90 second videos. They are supposed to be snapshot videos. Or 'moving photos'. Only trouble is, you have to sign up for the pay version of Flickr to upload videos. I've been contemplating upgrading for a while just so I can put more pictures up there. Maybe I should go ahead and pay for all the cool features.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Well, we all knew it would happen eventually.

I have gotten bored of this blog thing. It turns out that I actually don't like ranting about random topics. I find blogs to be pretentious, and I find those that write them, and those that read them, to be pretentious.

I simply just don't have anything to say. I'm not a very wordy person, so it's so hard for me to come up with things to blog about. So it's just silly for me to keep this up.

I'll go ahead and leave my blog up for a few more days, just so everyone can snag any links off of there that they want. And then I'll be deleting my blog. I'm thinking I should probably take down my website too, http://oakwright.org.

I've also been thinking about giving up video games too. They are boring. I've been trying too hard to be a geek. I burn out on MMO's, and find myself just fiddling around to waste time. So I've decided to take up something that would better me as a person, and entertain me. I'm thinking perhaps taking up a sport... My coworker tells me about this game called Frisbee Golf. I liked paintball, so it makes sense that I should like other outdoor sports. I might just go ahead and try golf instead though, or maybe baseball, I hear it's the right season for that.

I've also decided that I should give up on giving up meat. I never really liked meat. But why? It's pointless. So what if it's the cooked flesh that came out of a living being that had big soft eyes before it was mercilessly slaughtered? It's just a cow. Moo. So tonight, I am going to have a big steak.

No more doing the dew either. That stuff is bad for you. I think I'm gonna give up caffiene altogether. For real. I mean it this time.

Does anyone want to buy my Alienware computer? Since I'm not going to play video games I don't really need it anymore, let me know your best offer. I could use that money to buy my new golf clubs.

I think I'll get a haircut tonight. The long hair thing is so overdone. I should shave too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Prolific Squalor - IM's gone mad

I have stumbled upon a great blog. It is simply snippets of IM conversations. They are great! I highly suggest checking it out, it's called A Prolific Squalor.

Some of them are mild, and boring. Some are awesome. In the spirit, I have a piece of an IM conversation I had today for you all to read.

A: shut up I hate you
B: bapa
A: no
B: no
B: I say no to your no
A: I'm gonna no your noing no
A: no
B: nononono, and just for good measure I'm going to no your nonononono
B: for shits and giggles I'm gonna yes your nonononononono, if it gets that far.
A: what if it was only a nono though?
B: I might maybe that.
B: Did you get C's microphone fixed yet?
A: heh... no.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No alternative

Well, my car died. It's alternator blew out. I guess that's a bad thing. I hate car mechanics. I'm pretty convinced they all want to squeeze all they can. I just think most of them aren't honest people. I hate that. More than being screwed by a car mechanic, I hate that it happens so often that it builds a stereotype. I don't like that I view used car salesman, mechanics, and lawyers as inherently shady people... But it turns out that most of them that I have met HAVE tried to con me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Google Calendar Sync - Failed Synchronicity

A while back I tried out a few software options that are intended to sync Google Calendars to Outlook (article is here). Well on March 5 Google released their own version. It is appropriately named Google Calendar Sync.

So I decided to give it a try. Before I started, I could envision gSyncit and Google Calendar Sync trying to sync at the same time and completely screw up my calendar duplicating everything. So I uninstalled gSyncit, and installed Google Calendar Sync.

Install was a breeze. I input my Google username and password, and was presented with three options. Sync Google to Outlook, Sync Outlook to Google, or 2 way. I decided to start with I would just sync Outlook to Google. I would prefer my Google cal to be screwed up than my Outlook on (Google is personal, Outlook is work. Screwing up my toys is fine, but screwing up work is bad).

So then came the big moment, I told it to Sync. It said "Loading Google Calendar Events" and some little green arrows did a little dance, and then it was done! Or so I thought. When I hovered over the icon, it told me "last sync completed: 9:12". So I pull up my Google Cal, and alas, it didn't work.

I surf around and figure out that it only syncs events and appointments, but not meetings. Well, that's goofy! Everything on my Outlook is meetings! After some research I discover that you need to tell Google that your work e-mail should be associated with your Google Account. You do that by going here: https://www.google.com/accounts/ManageAccount and click on edit. From there you can update your e-mail addresses.

And then another attempt at hitting Sync. It told me "last sync completed: 9:25". And my Google calendar remained empty. I shut it down, and started it back up. At that point it actually gave me an error message stating WHY it wasn't syncing. It told me I needed to connect to the internet. Whoa, I guess all that time I had spent looking through the less than useful docs on the net and surfing Google and checking my Google Calendar I actually was NOT on the net? Wow. I am guessing it's a firewall issue. I am behind a pretty tight corporate firewall. Google Chat doesn't work here either, so I guess that shouldn't surprise me. After quite a bit more searching I could not find the port that the little syncer actually uses. So I don't even know what to tell the folks over in the networking department what ports to open.

Not only that, but while researching the port, I discover that you are only allowed to sync ONE calendar. You know how in Google you can have TONS of calendars and view them all together? Well this tool only syncs the 'main' calendar. Which is NOT the one I would want synced to Outlook, I would like it to sync the calendar named 'Work'. Go figure.

In the end I decided it's a bust. It says it last synced at 9:35, but it didn't. And now all of a sudden half of my appointments in my Outlook are... gone... again. Anything that was before today is gone. If it was a recurring set that was setup before today, it's gone. So that's about half my appointments. I don't know if Google Calendar Sync did it, or if gSyncit did it on it's way out the door.

Either way, this post comes to an end. I think I have an appointment, I'm not sure, since neither of my calendars says I do, but I'm pretty sure... I wonder what the meeting is for... or where it is...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence

Things have been a bit quiet from me lately. And now has come the time for me to explain why. I bought a house. I am no longer an apartment dweller. The extra work and stress of it all left me feeling not much in the mood for updating things. But now we are moved in, things are stable, and good. When I get the boxes unpacked enough I might put some pictures of the place up on flikr.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Simulacra

I have decided that there is just too much work for me to do, and I have too many fans.

I considered cloning myself, but it turns out I don't know a whole lot about genetics, and it takes a real long time to grow a clone. My next thought was to create a magical simulacrum of myself. But magic if fickle... And that three by three rule could really have some serious backlash.

So I made the only logical decision. I made a digital copy of myself. So may I introduce you to my simulacrum. You can find him in the upper right hand corner of my blog.

He is currently hosted at Pandorabots.com. He is an AIML bot, which means his brain is a collection of XML files. I didn't want to start with a completely brain-dead simulacrum, so he has quite a bit of ALICE in him. Turns out though, that ALICE and I don't actually get along all that great. Our views on the world differ by quite a bit. In fact, last night I spent several hours ripping piece of the brain out that I didn't feel were important.

My hope is that eventually my little friend will be able to mimic me. I have been teaching it some of my speech patterns, and correcting it whenever it says something insanely stupid. But he can not learn if he does not talk. So I invite everyone to talk to him. If he starts saying stupid things, just please remember that he has half of a brain from ALICE, and the other half is from me.

If he gets confused, don't worry about it. Next time I talk to him he'll ask me about things that confuse him, and I'll explain it to him. You can try to explain it to him, but he tends to run most things by me before he actually remembers them (for example, if you tell him a joke, he won't start telling it to other people until he's told it to me first).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Time Management Interoperability

I have trouble keeping track of appointments. I just don't remember dates and times. Google however has saved my bacon many times!

In google you can share your calendar with other people, or if you want you can share just portions of your calendar. You can adjust if it's public, private, etc. Great stuff! And of course I can set it up so I see my calendar on my iGoogle page, which is awesome.

But at work we don't use Google to track everything. We use Outlook, of course. So in order to plan anything that is more than something simple, I have to look at both at the same time. Most of the time work and home don't overlap, but they do sometimes. Planning vacation days of course makes them overlap. Doctor's appointments can affect things too. And sometimes it's just good to know when you will be too stressed to handle one more task.

So I decided to test things out a little bit. I found some tools that would synchronize Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar. And here are my results, for you all to view.

My first test was with Remote Calendars

This is probably the most popular and common one out there from what I can tell. It's free, which is always good. It can be found at sourceforge.

I didn't follow the setup instructions, I wanted to see if it would just work right out of the box. It installed smoothly. Setting up the sync was rather weird though, and I had to actually go read instructions. At that point I found out I had installed it completely wrong, so I started over, following a nice set of instructions I found on the net.

I managed to get my Google cal into my Outlook, which made me very happy. When I tried to go the other way, it didn't do anything. I fiddled with it a bit more, to no avail. So I tried to start over. At this point, I apparently did something very stupid, and Remote Calendars deleted my ENTIRE outlook calendar, with no warning. Boom, gone.

Maybe I should have backed up my calendar first, but I didn't think of that, and it wasn't listed in the instructions. I spent a good hour recreating my Calendar, and promptly uninstalled Remote Calendar.

Out of 5 stars, I give them -1! Installation wasn't too bad, setup was difficult, it did not do what I expected it to do, and somehow or another it completely destroy my Calendar.

My second test was gSyncit

This one is costs $9.99, and is therefore less popular. However, it has an evaluation mode that is free. In evaluation mode you can sync one Google Calendar to one Outlook Calendar. It is not a time limited evaluation mode. It does not auto-sync in evaluation mode. It can be found here.

Install was a breeze here. I downloaded it, ran the file. It put a little icon in my system tray. When I loaded up outlook it asked for my Google username and password. It then let me setup a connection between my Google Calendar and my Outlook. I hit sync, it synced everything, both ways, I rejoiced.

I tried deleting, adding, and modifying items in both Outlook and Google seeing how it worked. Since it didn't autosync I had to keep hitting the button to test it, which resulted in a little popup window that would go away if I registered. Everything on the Outlook end of things worked smoothly. The Google side was a little less than smooth. Google didn't seem to like it when you change an appointment while viewing it, but nothing major.

But, Outlook must be running for it to sync. I guess it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

txt 4 pizza

The other day I decided to order some pizza from Papa Johns. I knew there was the ability to order pizza using text messages, so I wanted to try it out. Last time I ordered online I setup my account to be able to do it (which mostly required me to save a favorite order, save my credit card info, and enter in my cell phone number).

First of all, I didn't know who to text my order to. But I found it on their website after a bit of hunting around. And then the conversation between me and that automated system began. Let me show you the dialog we had

Me: Fav
PJ: TXT FAV1 to order Favorite1
Me: Fav1
PJ: Reply Y1 to confirm order of yadayada $18.98 NOW CASH
Me: N1
PJ: You have cancelled your FAVORITES order.
Me: Fav1 pay 9999
PJ: 9999 is not accepted for this order. Reply PAYMENTS for a list of your Payment Types.
Me: Payments
PJ: 1) VS9999 2) Cash 3) Check
Me: 1
PJ: Sorry but we did not understand your request.
Me: Fav1 pay vs9999
PJ: Reply Y1 to confirm order of FAV1 yadayada $18.98 NOW VS9999
PJ: If you would like to add a TIP reply TIP and the amount (18% $3.42)
Me: Tip 4
PJ: Thank you for your order, yada yada
PJ: Thank you for your order. FAV1 will be delivered in approx 30-40 minutes.

Did you read all that? Nah, I didn't figure so. It was a pain! It would have been quicker to call. It would have been quicker to order online. It would have been quicker to use messenger pigeon!!!

Apparently they also think you should tip 18%. Interesting. I usually pick a random number depending on service, how poor I'm feeling, and how thankful I am to have someone else bringing me food. That day, I was hungry, so $4 bucks it was. In the end, it took over an hour for the pizza to get there. In retrospect, I shoulda tipped less, but the text messaging system didn't tell me the pizza was going to be late when it asked for my tip amount.

Next time though, I have it figured out. I'm gonna try typing in "Fav1 pay vs9999 Tip 4" and see what happens.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Uphill Both Ways

I know I've already complained about the drivers of Washington State in snowy conditions. But it must be done again.

Today there was snow, almost an inch. Now, my car isn't the best car for snow, but it does have manual transmission which in my opinion makes things a LOT easier. But all of those other vehicles, the SUV's, the 4x4 pickup trucks, the hummers, and all of the nice cute little hybrid cars out here apparently handle snow worse than a car (and driver) from South Dakota.

It took me nearly half an hour longer to drive my 15 minute drive to work today. There were several times we were going 5 miles an hour. I spent most of the time in first gear, and only twice (very shortly) did I get to switch to third gear (I normally go pretty much the whole drive in 4th).

Most of the way I was in no danger of dying in a fiery snowy crash, I was just in danger of dying of boredom. Except for that one idiot that didn't know how to drive on snow, so decided to tailgate me the whole way.

I mean geez people, is it so hard? Drive normal, apply your brakes before you get to the stoplight, don't tailgate, don't panic. Easy! Back when I was a kid in South Dakota I had to drive uphill both ways through several inches of snow every day to get to school! Oh crap. Does saying that automatically make me old? Maybe I should go check for grey hairs...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2008: Year of 4th Edition

Hey, it's a new year. So I figure I better make my first post of the new year.

I once made a successful new years resolution, and because of it, I don't make new years resolutions. It was sometime back in high school if I remember correctly. It was "Never to make another new years resolution".

But the great part about this new year is Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition is coming out! I admit, I'm excited. I have no idea what it's going to look like. But I'm excited anyways.

Until 4th edition actually is out, I'll be GMing a 3.5 D&D game over the web. I'm running it slightly different than I am used to. Each session will be shorter than I am used to (probably 3 hours). Also, each session will be completely self contained. It will be a series of 'one shot' campaigns. In the long run they will all tie together, hopefully. It will be similar to how a TV series works. It might just work.