Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Homelessness: Week 2

I'm in my second week of homelessness.  Tomorrow I go to apply for public housing assistance, though the waiting list is two years or more.  Yesterday I shelled out money for a new copy of my birth certificate, since my old copy is deteriorating and is halfway to coming in half.  Always good to have a backup, right?  I have a film shoot to try and get done this weekend, which isn't guaranteed since classmates are all busy with their own projects.  I hope I don't miss being able to do my third film project, because I can't make it up once the opportunity has passed.

Had some more drama in-world, which I really didn't need.  You don't need to know from whom, but it really hurt considering my real-life circumstances.

Looking for better-paying jobs and not really finding anything, which isn't surprising.  Economy sucks and a guy my age who's homeless, still trying to get his Bachelors, and has no car simply can't compete with the dozen or so other people vying for every job out there.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Homeless in RL

So yeah, I'm now officially homeless.  There was no mercy at the eviction hearing.  Even the magistrate was taken aback somewhat by my "brother's" refusal either to grant me enough time to save up money to move out on my own again, or grant me time enough to get all my belongings out of the house.  Most of what I own is now in storage.  Where I'm going to live I don't know.  I'm crashing at a friend's house for a little while so I can get my bearings and figure out what to do, but really, I have no hope of finding a better arrangement any time soon.

I canceled my phone and Internet service, since I now have nowhere to hook up my phone and computer.  I can log on occasionally from school computers, but with things being what they are, I have to focus on getting a place to live.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Viewer Snobbery

The latest gripe fest on the Phoenix Viewer blog demonstrates just how out of touch the development team is with reality.  Now, don't get me wrong; I prefer Phoenix, which is still much more stable than, say Singularity, even though I believe Singularity will eventually supplant Phoenix as that development team ceases to update their viewer.  But the attitude coming from Jessica Lyon and her supporters is downright puzzling, not to mention irritating.

Lyon and her supporters are making the argument that trying to backport Viewer 2 and Viewer 3 features into Viewer 1 interface is like "taking a diesel engine from a school bus and fitting it into a ford pinto".  But Henri Beauchamp, the developer of Cool VL Viewer and whose code the Phoenix team used to bring mesh capability to Phoenix, cleared up a number of exaggerated claims by Lyon.  Far from taking "many" months of work, it only took Beauchamp two, two and a half at most, albeit with him working overtime in his spare hours to get the work done.  And contrary to the diesel engine metaphor, Beauchamp stated on his forum, "It's more like replacing the battery and alternator of the car engine with newer, more powerful ones (ll* libraries), replacing the mechanical injection with an electronic one to make for the increased mechanical power demand from the alternator (v2 classes in the viewer code) then adding air conditioning to the car (mesh renderer). Nothing that would make the poor car into a weird hybrid vehicle."

So it really isn't that difficult to backport the Viewer 2-Viewer 3 code into the Viewer 1 interface, contrary to what Jessica Lyon and her supporters claim.

I get the impression that the Phoenix Development Team decided to follow Linden Lab's lead and go with the crappy, bug-ridden, crashtastic, user-unfriendly, outsourced viewer that most Second Life users can't stand and would prefer not to use.  That's why so many people refuse to use the default SL viewer, and instead go with third party viewers such as Phoenix, Singularity, Cool VL, Rainbow, and others.  That's bad enough.  Literally adding insult to injury, however, was the condescending dismissal of legitimate criticisms that Viewer 2 and its clones (including Firestorm) are highly unstable, have a tendency to gobble inventory -- say goodbye to no-copy items forever -- eat up loads and loads of memory even on newer computers, and tend to crash said computers when the viewers alone aren't crashing, by telling disgruntled users to buy new computers instead of the decade-old ones we're allegedly clinging to.

This is a false assumption on the part of the Phoenix Development team, for many if not most users are not on ten-year-old computers.  I, for example, am on a computer that is less than a year old, has a monster graphics card, and is built for gaming purposes.  Yet the Viewer 2 and Firestorm beta I tried kept crashing on me, and often crash my computer altogether (even Phoenix and Singularity crash my comp).  Another dismissive claim is that users only tried Firestorm for a few minutes before giving up on it, despite people complaining that they spent hours on Firestorm only to have the same problems.  Simply put, people don't like the user interface no matter how much the Phoenix team tries to gussy it up, and the viewer itself is a bug-infested resource hog just like Viewer 2.  It's not a matter of people clinging to old technology, rather, they simply don't like the craptastic interface of a product that messes up their newer computers.

I think what's really driving the outright hostility coming from the Phoenix team and its supporters is simple snobbery.  They hopped on board a product that someone told them was the latest rage, and they genuinely don't seem to accept the legitimate reasons most people don't like it.  What if Coca Cola had stubbornly stuck by its "New Coke" product even after the massive customer backlash?  That company would now be out of business.  Instead, Coca Cola wised up, came out with "Classic Coke", and remained competitive with Pepsi, its closest competitor.  That was honest of them to do, and they survived by accepting and acknowledging their business mistake and correcting it.  If Phoenix developers want their viewer to remain the preferred one used by SL members, they will have to accept and acknowledge their mistakes, make the necessary apologies for their attitudes, and keep working to correct their mistake by continuing support for Phoenix Viewer.  it's what more of their user base seem to want anyway, and it makes better business sense.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You've GOT to be kidding me...

So we have the final episode of Series 6 (Christmas Special notwithstanding), and it's craptastic.  The Doctor pulled a switcheroo on everybody, and the oldest question in the universe is the name of the television showSeriously?

The Doctor has a date with death at Lake Silencio, but before he goes he takes a few detours.  One of those is a trip to the room where the Headless Monks -- who were featured in "A Good Man Goes to War" -- keep the heads of their members, to pick up the head of Dorium Maldovar.  The blue-skinned bodiless head tells him the oldest question in the universe, prophesying that "the 11th will fall when the question is asked and answered."  Stuff happens.  River rises from the lake, encased in the astronaught suit against her will, and defiantly depletes her weapons pack, creating a dying timeline in which all of history happens at once.  More stuff happens.  The Doctor gets River to let things play out as they should, and everything turns out okay -- the Doctor having tricked almost everyone by hiding inside the shape-shifting robot piloted by miniature people, which is what Rory, Amy, and River actually saw being shot.

You know, there are times when I really, REALLY can't stand cheap writing, and this is one of them.  After splitting Series 6 in two this year to help reduce production costs, you'd think Steven Moffat would have come up with something more dramatic, better written, and more epic.  But this episode felt more like an afterthought tacked onto the end of a really mediocre season.  And this alleged "slipping back into the shadows" thing, ostensibly to be less visible than he has been for more than two centuries, probably isn't going to last into Series 7, which may not even take place next year but in 2013, when the show reaches its fiftieth anniversary.

BBC, please please PLEASE replace Moffat with someone who knows how to write consistently well.  That is all.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Closing Time

Tonight is the final regular episode of Series 6, so I thought I'd do a quick review of "Closing Time" before heading out to work on a student film project.

The Doctor is on a trip to visit old friends one last time before meeting his end in Utah, and his last stop involves dropping in on Craig, whom we last saw in "The Lodger" (Series 5).  He and Sophie now have added an infant son to their relationship, but the little tyke is more than either of them can handle.  Sophie is sent off on a much-needed holiday out of the house, setting up the events to come.  The Doctor and Craig save the world from Cybermen, and Craig gets a helping hand with his son, Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All — okay, his name's actually Alfie, but he's a cute baby and he has his Stewie factor going on, so we'll forgive him his silly choice in self-naming.

What I liked about this episode was pretty much everything, including the running gag of a co-worker of the Doctor's at the local department store in which he's taken a temporary job misconstruing the relationship between Craig and the Time Lord.  The redesign of the Cybermats was pretty cool.

The only part I didn't like was the unexplained presence of the Cybus Cybermen.  How is it that they managed to crash a ship into Earth, in England, centuries before?  Time storm?  Maybe.  Crack in the universe from Series 5?  Probably, knowing Moffat.  I just didn't care for it.  I would like to see the Mondasian Cybermen meet the Cybus versions.  It might make for a really interesting clash of classic and new series.

Anyway, that's it for this review.  I'll write one up of "The Wedding of River Song" tomorrow after I've watched it.