This night, I have been learning about syndication of this medium (Atom and RSS converted XML feeds the result) and ruining my eyes by doing it in front of a TV screen. The resolution, sharpness and refresh rate of a CRT-based television set is just not yet up to the point where you could actually work in front of it. Video streams and digital photographs look nice, but everything else makes my head hurt. When I closed the browser finally, after several hours, to turn away from the shiny world of bits and simulation, and clicked the remote, the first thing to catch my eye was a documentary about original Matrix movie (in SubTV). Talking about serendipity…
After spending best part of the weekend finishing couple of games articles and the course materials I have been working on, I decided to reward myself somehow. In this weird nerdie way, it definitely had to be something media-tech related (but not too expensive, since most of my money is already going to all this stuff). So I bought a Logitech wireless keyboard & mouse combo (the MX version), and then amused myself by configuring the output of my media server to the big-screen television for the rest of the evening. Since this thing does not have proper inputs (and it is not the LCD/plasma one I will get next) the outcome is only half satisfying. But: I can now have web information services, a game, a TV channel and a Winamp running simultaneously on the same big screen. Ok, when I started Word to write this note, I had to close a couple of windows, but yet. It is curious to study oneself and see what are the sources of pleasure. I had a Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided free 14-days download & account deal waiting there, too, but instead I ended up doing this. Perhaps this feels more like an “own” thing to do? Or then, perhaps I just get my kicks from working at the infrastructure level, rather than with the content. Hard to say.
Oh boy. Every time I nowadays start the MS Word, I am greeted by one explosion of a non-compatibility warnings, kindly suggesting I should immediately renounce any idea of working. Office 2003 and Adobe Acrobat 5 seem not to talk each other any more, and as our university will no longer provide us with Abobe licenses (I am told), I am put against the wall. Either Microsoft or Adobe: choose which camp you belong to.
I seem to have been overworking again. I should be able to read it from my calendar, of course, but sadly it needs to be my physics telling me that all meters have been on red for too long. Ok, I will try and stay in bed tomorrow as long as I can. There is just too much exciting stuff going on that I feel to be responsible, so it is hard to take any real breaks.
I hope we could play more Beyond Good and Evil. It seems to have the right balance and combination of different game elements (taking animal photographs is a nice touch), and the right, relatively smooth learning curve. But days are long, evenings needed for taking care of the emails piling up from the association, projects, students and other contacts (while working days are packed with meetings) and nights are too short. Ok, I will stop whining (at the front of computer!) and get into bed. See ya!
For a peaceful summer, there has been quite a lot to do lately. Part relates to the asynchrony in this globalized world: when Finns should be having their holidays they cannot do so as everything has to be got ready before the holidays of August in many other countries. And now in August everything is starting up in the Finnish systems. I sometimes wonder where this will lead into, as international collaboration becomes more and more popular in various forms. The final outcome can be that there is no “holiday” as that kind of category (time and space outside of work) we used to know before. Or, will there be a backlash, eventually (everyone quits trying to get anything done during whole summer)? Oh yes, and there could be “standard holidays” set up for whole world. In the name of effectivity and multinational workforce.
I finally succeeded in getting firewalls, servers and client software into that kind of position I can remotely access and administer my web domain and other services from anywhere there is a net connection. Handy. It is also really great to be able to get all the digital images into easily browsable folders. You can take a look at some of the old stuff from my university home album page, here.
Deeper existential concerns aside for a moment, one of the main wishes of many people is that they would enjoy their life. “Having fun” seems to one way to express this goal, but enjoyment comes in so many guises. Amoeba, kaleidoscope and chameleon are among my favorite metaphors these days, trying to get a grasp at this mutable and polyphonic nature of ours.
My capacity of having fun has been hampered somewhat by the summer flu that got hold of me last week. These things just seem to last, at least a week or more. Damn thing! I had hopes for the Midsummer Day. Now I just got an unannounced early installation of the new network connection, and an ADSL box which of course declined to serve these pages to the web any more. Some expensive calls and three feverish days of debugging later, I finally got the new flash bios update for the ADSL box, which managed not only to fix the NAT routing error, but also installed a new firewall service. Nice.
Am I enjoying all this tech, or not?
Hard question to answer, really. When you are walking the road, do you enjoy the sand and stone under your feet?
E3 came and went, with its various games tech news. New devices, like info on the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and an updated Nokia N-Gage were announced. All very interesting and nice, I however find myself also looking for some breaking news on the actual game design areas. Games that received most attention seemed to be safe-and-secure sequels to old success concepts: Doom 3, Halo 2, Half-Life 2. It is hard to build future just on imitation. Nor just on new tech, even if all areas of innovation are important.
Tried out the D&D Heroes tonight — and in game technology terms, it appears superior to BGDA2, but — again! — something is missing. This time, the immense repositories of creative content built for D&D during the years have translated into a shallow and impersonal game setting that does not help you to get immersed in the fantasy. There is a careful line between entertaining stereotypes and near-mythic structures acting as mirrors for imaginative production, and plain old banality.
Continuing the previous note on the firewall configuration slavery; I have been thinking about the increasing complexity of our surroundings. Working with our Morphome project in the Lab have made me pay more attention to the amount of work we do just in order to maintain the machinery that surrounds us. Current information technology is obviously complex and still sometimes unrealiable to the point of being ridiculous, but think also the other technological components of your living environment: how much of your time do you spend taking care of your house, car, bicycle, or clothing? How much of that work you actually want to, or enjoy doing? To put this other way around, what would be the “heart of our humanity” without our constant service to technology, supposedly at our service?