Author: Richard Carroll

The Art of the Obvious

Today, here’s a little original poem inspired by a real classmate of mine. You’ve probably met someone similar in any discussion-heavy classes you’ve taken.

The Art of the Obvious

There’s an art to stating the obvious.
You’ve got to make it long;
You’ve got to make the point.
You’ve got to do it often;
You’ve got to time it right.
You’ve got to give proper credit;
You’ve got to take what’s yours.
You’ve got to know the fact;
You’ve got to know it don’t matter.
You’ve got to keep it relevant;
You’ve got to roam around.
You’ve got to sit up front;
You’ve got to know your place.
You’ve got to make sure the world notices.…

Read More The Art of the Obvious

On the Flipside

You know something that should really be banned? Dual-sided DVDs.

Seriously, I can never tell which side is which. There’s usualy a label on one side saying something like “Widescreen” or “Side A.” What really makes these things so bush league is that there’s usually no way of telling whether the widescreen version is the side with the label, or the reverse, since that’s the side that’ll be read by the DVD player. Even worse, I encountered one disc today that had the label “Fullscreen” followed, on the same label, with “Widescreen (flipside).”

“Hey, thanks,” I thought when I saw that. So, I put the “flipside” face-down, and found that the label lied to me.

Actually, this problem could be mostly solved if we could get a ban of fullscreen edition movies. Why would anyone prefer that to widescreen? Do there exist people who like to have the edges of the screen lopped off to fit standard television screen ratio? Get it together, people.…

Read More On the Flipside

Summer’s End

Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes have lost the glimmer of youth.

For me, the betrayal of my childhood has been a slow process, one that began in high school when I took a part-time job. Income leads to money, which leads to responsibility like paying for one’s own entertainment, in addition to gas money.

The second event that led to the end of my childhood was college. Now, that’s an external force, not treason, and in any case is only dangerous in combination with other forces. In my case, getting to school requires a car, which in turn requires I keep that part-time job. Between school and work, I no longer have any hobbies. That’s what it feels like, anyway.
So, the only time left for being childlike (or childish) for extended periods is summer vacation, and that is where the final blow has been struck by a summer class.

Now, summer is supposed to be a time for doing nothing, but instead I’m taking exams, reading textbooks, and, as mentioned previously, writing critiques. My summer is a season of drudgery!

Man, that post was depressing. I’m sorry for being so out-of-character. Here, have a Jill sandwich (NSFW) to cheer you up.…

Read More Summer’s End

On Critiquing Live Music

So, right now I’m trying to write a critique of a live concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a class I’m taking.

The problem is, all I can really say about it is that I enjoyed it, though it suffered from some problems to be expected from an outdoor concert. Somewhat unclear sound, sirens from a passing fire engine, and some other miscellaneous distractions. However, I made the critical mistake of not taking notes at the concert. Even driving home from the event, I could scarecly have said much about the early pieces performed (out of seven or so total). Since I got home a bit late and had to wake up early the next morning, I made another mistake in not writing anything down before going to bed.

Lesson learned for the next assignment, though.…

Read More On Critiquing Live Music

How to Claim a Landmark Post

A while back, I wrote this little article on how to claim a landmark post in a message board. It was intended for users of the Megatokyo forums, “Story Discussions” in particular, but since it can apply to most other boards and it was located in a somewhat obscure place, I’m moving it here, with a few minor changes.

Corrections and suggestions are welcome.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{Cue obnoxious tutorial mode music}

A common ritual on the Megatokyo Forums, and many other boards, for that matter, is owning landmark posts. This simply means that a particular person has the honor of having, for example, a forum’s thousandth post, an individual’s 500th post, or something else of that nature. This page is concerned with the second example, and there are three methods by which one may “claim” a post:

First, a person receives ownership if he is quoted in the landmark. For example, if MajorGeneral quotes Todd P. in his 500th post, Todd receives that post. If Major also quotes Pokeball, then both Pokeball and Todd receive partial ownership. This is the oldest and most widely accepted method of receiving ownership of a post.

Second, a person may give his landmark to someone as a gift. For example, if WyndyDay reaches her 500th post she has the option of giving it to a particular person or putting it up for grabs. The first simply involves saying either within or shortly after the landmark that it’s given to a particular person, perhaps a friend or as an exchange for a favor. By the second option, whoever asks for the landmark first receives ownership. If two people claim it, the person who posted first receives it, unless he decides to be nice and let the second person have it. Disputes are settled by the poster of the landmark. This method is newer and less accepted than the first, and should generally be used only if nobody is quoted in the landmark, or if the person who is quoted doesn’t care about such things.

Third, a landmark may be given to someone in advance of its posting. If Palad1n notices that he is approaching post number 500, he may offer it to whomever he wishes. This is the newest and least accepted method, and takes some of the fun out of it. Do this, and _Ocelot will hunt you like a wumpus, so don’t do it, foo’.

Finally, what constitutes a landmark post? A few things:

First, posts that are multiples of 100. Special value is given to posts that are multiples of 500 and 1,000. As one would expect, higher numbered posts are the most valued.

Second, posts that have numbers in some way considered cool. For example, posts allowing a change in title, post number 12,345, or 1337, etc. This isn’t an exact science, though – any number could be considered a landmark for almost any reason, but it’s best to be conservative.

Third, multiples of smaller numbers. In a small forum, or if a person is not prolific, one may consider a multiple of 50 or even 25 a landmark. Again, be conservative about this – past post 200 or so, it’s best to stop considering these multiples to be landmarks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: This information is based primarily on personal observation, but also with comments from Izuko and SpyderGreywolf over at MT.…

Read More How to Claim a Landmark Post

Rock Site Reviews – Genesis

In the tradition of blog reviews of random things, this post introduces a new feature here at O.K.! – Rock Site Reviews. What I’ll do is, with each installment, write a review of the official website of some rock band. Given the wide range of styles, and even wider range of quality, of different official websites, I figured this could provide minutes of fun.

Since I cannot comprehend passing up the wordplay, we will begin at the beginning, which is Genesis, whose official site is genesis-music.com. Just <genesis.com> was taken by some computer company, apparently.

Anyway, as soon as you load the page some links come up, a television falls from the sky, a moon floats around the top-left corner, and some deformed dude runs across the screen. If that’s not enough to grab your attention, the letters in the name “Genesis” change font as the mouse hovers over them. It’s a subtle touch, but I spent about ten minutes playing with the letters before I finally clicked something.

Let’s start with the News section. Now, websites devoted to older bands often struggle to maintain a news section, since many don’t even tour, and you can forget about albums. Luckily, Genesis seems to still do the occasional tour, including one that started last year. Genesis-music seems to update with some regularity, and was even nice enough to link to a fansite’s contest. In a further show of generosity, they also link to several tribute bands. Another nice touch is the articles and reviews about the band all the way from the early 1970’s on. It’s definitely nice to have such things available, but unfortunately they’re organized like the news – that is, most recently posted on top. The database is searchable, but why they aren’t organized by topic instead of date is puzzling. There’s also a Press section, which seems to be just like the News but more formal and not updated as often.

Browsing along the convenient navigation bar atop the screen, just under the stylish banner, we progress to Contests, which just takes us to a relevant post in the News section to a contest that ended last year. Okay, whatever.

Skipping Community for a moment, let’s check out the the most critical part of any band’s website – Discography – and what an elaborate Discography it is! Not only do they have the release information, tracklisting, and lyrics for all of Genesis’s albums, they have such information for each member’s solo material. Way to go above and beyond the call of duty, and I must applaud them including lyrics. They’re such an obvious thing to have, but as we’ll see over and over later in this series, many sites don’t even do that. Alas, all is not perfect. Each song tantalizingly displays a drop-down menu offering “Lyrics,” “Description,” “Artist’s Comments,” and “Personnel,” but lyrics is the only one with any content. Allow me to state the obvious, “What is the point of having these sections if there’s nothing in them?” Maybe they’re planned, but I couldn’t find any songs with any description or comments. Oh, well.

Moving on, the Multimedia section has some videos, as well as some photos and images of their album covers.

Where genesis-music really shines, though, is in the FAQ section. Now, most of this stuff is fairly straightforward answers to common questions, but it’s very convenient to have. Impressively, though, they also field more potentially awkward questions like “Is there animosity between Steve Hackett and other members of the band? Is that why he left?” Amazingly, in the Genesis General FAQ section, they actually answer the inquiry

How do I find out what bootleg CDs / DVDs / VCDs / VHS are available and how do I get hold of them?

(emphasis mine)

Now, here you’d expect the basic RIAA line about how bootlegs are illegal so don’t do anything with them. Instead, genesis-music links to an online guide to Genesis bootlegs, and then continues

As for how to get hold of the recordings: start by joining the Yahoo Group “Genesis Trades” […]

Otherwise, try asking in the “Boot Info and Exchange” forum! More often than not, someone will be only too happy to help you out, or explain to you how to get started in trading.

Only one rule – Don’t buy or sell (that includes eBay.) Anything that you may have seen for sale on eBay, at record fairs, or elsewhere is available for free through trading or weeding. It should also be remembered that the versions circulating amongst collectors are always superior to those being sold, often with better sound, extra tracks, lovingly created artwork and so on. Don’t waste your money!

All I can say is, wow, and wow again. o_0

Not all is well, though. Returning to the Community tab, we’re greeted with a list of most recent topics in their message board, some statistics for the same, and a poll. To view the boards, however, you have to register.

No.

First of all, I don’t want to. Secondly, how do I know if I want to join if I can’t see what I’m getting? Playing along for a moment, though, the “Join Now” button tells me all the things I can do as a member, which do look pretty good, except for one thing – a “Premium Membership” costs $35.

No.

Does anyone do that?…

Read More Rock Site Reviews – Genesis

Online Masks and Faces

Wearing your mask right now?

For a class I recently read the short story “The Moon Moth,” by Jack Vance. Part of the premise of the story is that everyone on the planet the story takes place on wears a mask at all times. The masks serve to inform others of one’s social status, as well as one’s personality and current mood. So, a renowned craftsman would wear a different mask than a young craftsman, and both wear different masks than a slave or prince. These masks are tremendously important in this world, and are the primary means of determining how to address someone.

This sounds outlandish, and though my professor drew an analogy to the type of car one chooses to drive, there’s really no parallel in the real world. However, the concept reminded me of the avatars used on online forums.

As in “The Moon Moth,” a person has total control over his appearance in an online environment (or at least in the types of environments considered here). I’ve discussed the significance of one’s screen name before, but the avatar is just as important. After one has been visiting a forum for a while, it’s common to identify others by their avatar more than by their name, not unlike in the real world, where one first recognizes others by their face. Except, unlike one’s bare face (barring, say, battle-scars) one can use an avatar as self-expression.

Probably the most common form of self-expression via avatars is an indication of one’s interests. If I were to use the above image as an avatar, I’d clue in others that I’m at least interested in comics and animation in general, those who recognize Rei (the female character) could also assume I specifically like Neon Genesis Evangelion, and those who are really nerdy (yeah, like me…) and recognized this specific image could also infer that I’m a fan of Kiyohiko Azuma. Of course, the text in the image can also say something about me, though usually an avatar is a little more subtle than that.

For example, I change my avatar on forums I frequent depending on what topics I’m involved with at the moment (I post infrequently enough, though, that I’m often only involved with a few threads at a time). When posting a musical parody (note: this links to a Megatokyo fanwork), for instance, I generally use this image of John Lennon’s ear:

Alternatively, on other forums, such as Civfanatics, where I’m more laid back, I’ll use an appropriate image (this particular avi is taken from the webcomic Attack of the Amazing Flying Spud):

Read More Online Masks and Faces