Saturday, October 29, 2005

Drawing the Line at the Decorative Cabbage

My Fair Lady and I went to the Dallas Farmer's Market this morning to look around. Just because, that's why. Anyway, we're looking at the wide variety of pansies, ferns, ivy, and mums and she points out something specific. She identifies one plant as decorative cabbage. It was at this point when it hit me that sometimes plants have truly silly names. I don't look at something that reminds me of a big yellow weed and call it a mum. Nor do I look at a small green plant and immediately think of it as "decorative cabbage."

I don't think that's quite what the British used it for during the London bombings of WWII. Somehow, the image of Winston Churchill telling Londoners to never stop fighting, and never stop using cabbage to spruce up their bombed-out decor doesn't quite jive. But it's a novel idea. That being said, I couldn't quite bring myself to buy any because I have no idea how I would explain it to friends and family who would visit in the future. The conversation might go something like this:

Mom: Hello all. My, what colorful plants you have in your front yard. What is that?

Me: That's the decorative cabbage, mom. If you'll pardon the expression, we thought it added some flavor to the front of the house.

Mom: Isn't that what Londoners ate while the Nazis bombed them?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Aren't You a Little Skanky For a Stormtrooper?

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No, I'm not posting how I came across this site but if you're part of the Star Wars uber-nerd patrol, then it's a must see.

If only to shake your head in disbelief.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Oh Nos Teh Dramah!11!!

God help me, but I just want it over. The ridiculous level of drama that has engulfed my gaming site, Gaming Trend has got to stop. You might notice how there is basically a "JUST SOLD!" sign at that link, and you have to add forums to the end of it to go anywhere. As discussed below, Rich LaPorte of Gone Gold infamy has now officially struck back. I'll post his statement before I post by Editor-In-Chief's follow-up. Here's Rich's own words about the situation:
24-Oct-2005 23:43

I thought you might be interested to know what's going on with Ron Burke and "Console Gold". About a year before GG closed, Ron wanted to buy CG from me and we agreed upon $9,000 for the domain. I've never seen a dime, but I haven't asked for any either. I did ask that he run my GoGamer ads and links until the site was paid for since I was paying for server and domain fees, but that request went ignored.

Finally he left the server, so now I'm only stuck for domain fees, which is only $30 a year anyway, but still, it's costing me money. Recently, he contacted me about getting the domain switched to his name. (We agreed to keep it in mine until the 9K was paid... after all, it's the only way for me to maintain control.)

I didn't want to come out and mention the 9K immediately, so I mentioned that I would look into it, seeing if I could make him a contact, while maintaining the domain in my name. Unfortunately, I had gotten ill and then had more surgery, so it took me awhile to get back to him.

During that time, he sent numerous e-mails to me asking if there's been any word. Now that I'm back on, I sent an e-mail explaining that I would be "in everyone's best interest" if the domain stayed in my name until our agreement was met. I then asked him if he had any idea what we could do to complete our agreement, since the site is still costing me money, however

I still haven't heard back from him, which is not like him. I'm wondering if he may try something like, getting a different domain and switching it (like *.org or *.net). What do you think?

If he would like to renegotiate the agreement, I'm even willing to do that (Hell, SOME of 9K is better than NONE of 9K, right?)... I'm a bit worried to be honest, especially since that money would come in very handy.

(At the end of GG and the reason it finally shut its doors, was that 3 companies and Mario Knoll didn't pay their advertising fees... the deal with Ron was going to keep GG alive, but as I said, he never paid me, nor did he run my ads so I could make something off the site to support it.)

I'm thinking of writing him a couple of more times and if I don't here from him, have the domain turned off... I hate to do that, but I know if done, I'll hear from him rather quickly.

26-Oct-2005 10:08

I decided to switch the CG domain to an "under-construction" page. I'm sure fireworks are going to go off shortly, but I'm tired of being a "nice guy".

Was on the forum tonight and saw a thread about the closing of GG. I'm not sure if I ever told you, but it was an accident that the site closed, while I was in the hospital and by the time I got out, I decided the damage was done and since I didn't have the strength at the time to correct it, I figured I would just "disappear". Not the way I wanted it to happen, but so much of my life is not the way I have planned it.

26-Oct-2005 13:23

At about 7:30 PM my time, I went to Network Solutions and changed the domain name to point to an "Under Construction" page. I also removed any technical contacts that where listed, aside from myself. After all, it is my account, right? Why should anyone be listed on it w/o my permission?

At 9:30 PM my phone rings... It's Ron Burke. Yelling into the answering machine, he leaves the following message: "Rich, I need you to call me IMMEDIATELY." and hangs up.

Mary Jo asked me if I'm going to talk to him and I told her no. I think I would rather handle it all via e-mail, so I have a copy of what is said and what is agreed upon. I did the same when negotiating the sale of the domain, so I see no reason to handle it any differently this time. Without the original copy of Ron's e-mail agreeing to the sale of the domain for 9K, it would be just my word against his. Better to have everything written down I think and besides, with the surgery to my throat, it stills hurts to talk.

I was in bed for the night when he called, but I decided to check my e-mail to see if he at least tried to contact me that way. Unfortunately, he didn't. To my surprise, there wasn't any e-mail from him. He went straight to the phone.

What has me curious though, is how he knows I put in for changes. Since I am the only one on the account, how could he know? I have changed all my passwords to be on the safe side. The only thing I can think of is that the "technical contact" was notified that he had been removed from the account listing and that is what has Ron upset.

However, he sounded way too upset to think that his only problem was not having a technical contact should something go wrong. Besides, it looked like the contact was for "Everyone's Internet", while his hosting seems to be through "Host Gator" and they don't seem to be connected. Wish I knew more about how this all worked.

Of course I'm starting to feel badly, but I'm sticking to my guns. He ignores my e-mail about our agreement, but finds the time to call me immediately once changes have been made... Which again is a bit weird since none of the changes have taken place yet, I simply applied for them. It will take 42-78 hours for them to take effect.

27-Oct-2005 04:21

Please feel free to tell my side to anyone, publicly or privately. I refuse to jump in for MANY reasons, but having the truth out there would at least level the field.

Having Game Trends in the wings tells me one thing... Ron was NEVER going to keep his end of the agreement, period. Why else would he have the other site, "month's in the working" as the post on CG says. I laughed when I read that the fact this is happening one year since GG was shut down is no coincidence. lol Actually, it is.

As far as me going to read the other forums, when GG shut down I considered myself gone from the gaming community for good and plan to keep it that way. If it makes everyone feel better to hate me, so be it. I don't deal with anyone and don't plan on doing so, so let them rant if it helps. I have no ill feelings towards anyone and can understand their frustration to a degree.

I just wonder when no one is mad at Ron? Heck, he had a year to do something about Console Gold. He KNEW he didn't own it. Why did he stay so long? Why didn't he protect his community and move to a new domain as soon as he knew I was getting out of the community.

Because he wanted to try and play me. Hoping that I would just give him the site or probably die shortly and he would have it anyway. He's so pissed because he got caught publicly and now he rather it be my fault than his own.

Feel free to convey any of these thoughts as well my friend.

27-Oct-2005 04:46

One of the things that IS bothering me is that the community does indeed suffer once again. I honestly thought this would be a day or two "inconvenience", but it seems that the "Under Construction" page will be up longer than I imagined. Since it doesn't cost me anything, I don't care, but I would like to help out those that come to the site looking for the forums.

For obvious reasons, I do not want to direct people to Ron's site, but would like to point to the Forum's you mentioned. Not sure how they are set up, but can a URL point to them? I would gladly allow it to point to them for the rest of this years domain fee and next.

That would mean, come April 07, the domain is no longer on my dime, however they are welcome to keep it if they want to take over the expense.

I'm sure they're going to ask "Why would I give them the domain, but not Ron?". Anyone that followed GG for any amount of time knows I'm a big "principle's" guy. RON agreed to pay 9K for the domain, no one else. If he had offered half, I would have given it to him... Hell, if he was honest up front at told me he wouldn't buy it, I may have given it to him... but he didn't.

SO my offer to them is that the domain can point to their forum and in a year and a half, it's theirs to own if they want, free of charge.

If they ask to have their URL pointed to on the "Under Construction" page, tell them that I believe this is just a generic page in which I can make no changes. If I find out differently, I'll gladly list their URL with their permission.

At least this way, the community will have somewhere to go.

28-Oct-2005 10:01

Wanted to ask your opinion before posting, but got on with Tech Support to find out how I go about putting up a page of my own and I wound up posting it. (It only cost me 15 bucks for a year, so I did it. Once the year is out, the domain will most likely go back to an "Under Construction" page.)

Once it was too late to wait to post, I asked MJ if she thought it was appropriate or too strong and she thought it was fine since it mentions no names and at least some explanation to people.

I wanted to direct people to the OO site for two reasons. One, you told me they are the old GG community and two, since you told me Ron is all over their forums, I'm sure he has posted his new link, so eventually old CG's will find their way to him. I did this for the gamers and not for Ron, of course. If it were for Ron, I would have linked directly to the new site.

Today was the first time I've been to the site and went only to the main page for the URL, but was very impressed with what I saw. I hope with this link they'll get some more good people to post and please apologize to them for me if their forums are a mess... I didn't mean for that to happen of course. Also, if they want that linked removed, I will honor their request.

Anything I say to you, please feel free to relay to other's, unless I ask you otherwise.

The comment on the main page of CG is the most I will contribute to this conversation publicly. Let Ron blast me as he likes... in the end, what does it all matter? That's why I'm not going to bother reading anything because I'm only human and know I will be dragged in trying to defend myself. My time is more valuable than that.
Okay then, that's one side of the story. Here's the other side, Ron Burke's response:
I'll gladly discuss.

First up - I don't doubt the legitimacy of this email, it does have the specific price we agreed on. I'm sure all of this is 'true', from Rich's point of view. Unfortunatately, this doesn't jive with the reality of the situation.

As I've said before, Rich and I agreed on a price and I agreed to pay him. However, he has left a great deal out of this email. Since he is airing the laundry, lets get it all out of the basket, k?

Roughly 18 months ago I negotiated with Rich (who appeared out of nowhere) to purchase the domain Certain expectations were set forth:
- Rich was to pay for the domain registrations
- Rich was to pay for the hosting for our site until the domain purchase balance was paid in full (or as it was stated "Until we get on our feet financially")
- The price agreed upon was based on further support by Gone Gold. We would work together to make all of this happen.
- Rich picked up a cell phone and gave me the number. "Call anytime Ron. Let's stay in touch."

So lets tackle these in order.
- Rich paying for domain hosting - didn't happen. Eldon paid for year one, I paid for year 2,3,4. I can get receipts and post them if you'd like.
- Rich paying for hosting: Stephen couldn't keep the server stable, so we had to leave. I'll give him the pass on this one, but I've paid the server costs for the last several years at $50.00 a month + the cost of shipping. Again, I have receipts. As for getting on our feet, we are still several thousand dollars in the hole financially. We have yet to turn a profit - CG, and now GT, are run out of my pocket entirely.
- Further support by GG - didn't happen in any shape or fashion whatsoever.
- Stay in touch. I've got registered letters, dozens of phone calls to two phones, and dozens of emails that have gone unanswered.

After all of that, what would you do? We started THINKING about moving months ago. We started PLANNING on moving about 2 weeks ago. Anything after that point is past the point of no return.

Did I call on the day he shafted the community? I called the number that I got off of Netsol when I noted that it had been updated. When the site went down I called Hostgator, my terrible terrible ex-host who is prone to falling over all the time. When they said that the NS servers had changed, I knew something was wrong. I called Netsol and was told that Rich had logged in and changed the NS. The gig was up at that point.

Did I intend to honor my end of the deal? You are damned right I did. Am I gonna send checks to somebody who won't pick up the phone (I guess his throat hurt for the last 18 months) or make an attempt to make a contact of any kind? No. I don't know if my checks are going to Rich or Juan Valdez. Since Registered mail didn't work, why should I think my check would arrive? At this point he is absolutely right...he has broken our contract and broken my trust. It really wouldn't have taken any effort from him to get this deal on track. Mary Jo could have called, he could have written, he could have done anything...but instead, he did what he has always done - nothing.

In short, Rich can go fly a kite. Here's where things don't add up at all. He says that despite Ron calling him, he decided to keep it strictly to e-mail. Oh, and his throat was sore after a surgery. Hey Rich, that's why you type up a list of questions, hand the phone to your wife Mary Jo, and have her ring Ron right back. So right there is indeed a massive communications problem, not to mention the most glaring one of all:

Instead of registering at OO and posting this himself, he "approves" his friend Andy (who's a nice guy, by the way) to post their e-mail correspondence on the forum. As though this will automagically absolve him of any wrongdoing in the past and bring the faithful flock back into his good graces. Hey Rich, this one's for you:

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You may have once held tight my good will along with that of others, but from now until the end of time you will be the dirt I scrape off my shoe. Anything you do with your sites now is irrelevant to us, and that is just fine. Go your own way, and we'll go ours.


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I'm honestly stunned by the simple beauty of this one-sheet for Spielberg's next film. While I outright hated War of the Worlds, I have high hopes for this story of the Israeli vengence which followed the massacre of their athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It hits Christmas day which, in my opinion, sucks because I won't get to see it until later that week. But even when Spielberg is off, his talent and skill are lightyears ahead of the rest of Hollywood and I'm dying to see what he has in store for us. This is my most anticipated film next to Harry Potter 4.

And Then There Was Gaming Trend...

So the site I worked for went belly up today, and no one knew why until a few hours ago. Long story short, the original owner proved himself to be a vindictive ponce and screwed us. As such, long live Gaming Trend. It's not live yet, but should be by the weekend. Feel free to stop by the forums and sign up for some quality conversation and fun.

This accelerates a plan that was to go into effect at the first of the year, so while we were obviously caught off-guard, a back-up plan was already well under way. As it stands, our contacts in the gaming world to a one are supportive of this move and happy that we're now standing on our own. The plans we have in store for the site are massive in scope, and the last hindrance to us moving forward with those plans is now out of the way.

Viva le Gaming Trend and a big screw off goes out to the man who backstabbed us.

Greatest. Videos. Ever.

By now, I think I've watched this video about a dozen times and I'm still gasping for air. Let's just say they're teaching something in China these days that's definitely not on the US curriculum. For additional fun, check out this link for more. God help me, this is some of the funniest stuff I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Can't They Just Shut Up and Game?

If you listen to Microsoft and Sony talk about their respective next-generation systems, it's almost impossible to separate the outright lies from the outright bullshit. Frankly, I'm sick of it. Everytime either company opens its mouth, nothing but crap flows out. Instead of recognizing how blatantly they're insulting a public that is starting to know better, they just keep at it like everything they say is pure gold. Only Nintendo is out there showing off their TV remote and acknowledging that they're a strange company with wacky ideas, but at least they can honestly say they're trying something new.

If you want to see how far up his own ass Microsoft Cheerleader J. Allard's head is, check out this interview at Edge Online and reveal in such bon mots as:
"You know, being first you sometimes get some crap, and we’ve had some crap. But I think it’s very pro-consumer and very pro-developer, and I think that in five years everybody will look back and say that this was a very, very good move on our part to launch worldwide and to have the flexibility for consumers to decide on their products."
He's referring to the double-dip customers are walking in to come late November. The scaled down version of the Xbox 360 and the normal version with all the trimmings.

He's still reciting the company line that gimping the main console and promoting it as a "good idea" is sound business. I guess walking around saying "this is fucking stupid" wouldn't have gone over well with Big Bill, whose ego, I'm convinced, has completely gone over the cliff.

There was a story a few weeks ago that told of a meeting between Big Bill and one of the Sony heads where Bill tried to convince the Sony guy to move Blu-Ray tech closer towards HD-DVD in terms of PC compatibility. The Sony guy told Bill that Blu-Ray tech would work just fine as it is. The translation was simple: the Hollywood studios, notoriously fickle when it comes to security, realized that Blu-Ray used more secure codecs than HD-DVD and was planning on announcing how they were collectively jumping to that one format. Microsoft freaked out because suddenly their arch-rival was about to reap a windfall, and suddenly they're promoting HD-DVD instead of remaining neutral as they'd first planned.

In a word, Big Bill found himself pwned.

But as much as I rag on Microsoft for routinely proving themselves to be the 800-lbs. gorilla people love to hate on, Sony is about as far from innocent as its possible to get. Everytime the Sony head (whose name honestly escapes me) talks about how powerful and uber-awesome the PS3 will be, my head hurts. E3 this year was nothing but vaporware for Sony because it's since been proven that everything they showed was pre-rendered based on spec technology.

Translation: Ignore everything you saw at E3 2005 because it may or may not be close to reality.

We'll find out next year when the PS3 hits (in theory) but I personally agree with Bill Harris - Sony is way behind and will never once cop to it. Why should they? Microsoft is openly insulting the public by throwing a crap unit into the marketplace for no reason other than they can say they have launch unit at $299. Sony coming in at $450 or higher just will not sell in the States, period. So who cares whether the public gets hosed in the process?

The bright side of things is that two warring companies pissing on the little guy, historically, always has the same effect. The little guy wakes up, and learns more about what's going on then takes steps to ensure this doesn't happen again. Microsoft and Sony both are going to learn a hard, harsh lesson come generation four when the people they hosed this round, are looking elsewhere in the next round.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Don't F.E.A.R. the Reaper

I'm currently working on my F.E.A.R. review over at Gaming Trend which hopefully will be up next week, and I have to say I'm impressed. My thoughts on the demo was that the gunfights were amazing to the point where they demanded replay after replay, and Alma was one heck of a creepy villain. After playing a few hours worth last night, I finally arrived at the office building where the majority of the story supposedly takes place.

Two things: The first is that I'm honestly surprised it took as long as it did to get to this point, and two is a simple HOLY CRAP!!!

The second the chopper you're riding in lands on the roof the office building, you come under fire. Instantly hoping out and returning fire leads to one of the most intense gun battles I've ever played. The AI is nothing short of amazing, and I can't wait to see how it reacts when I up the difficulty. The gunfights lead to debris and smoke flying everywhere, along with hugely bloody effects. For example, I was flanked by two enemy soldiers who were crouching behind crates. I opted to charge the one on the right and as I left over the top of the crate I discharged my combat shotgun and the blast tore his head clean off. I landed close enough to the one on the left that when I fired into his midsection, it blew him in half.

I immediately reloaded and played through the scenario several more times. I think I honestly spent an hour on that rooftop last night just fighting the soldiers in different ways, and watching how much of the terrain we destroyed. It's brilliant fun, and if you just turn off shadows it runs smoothly.

I can't wait to get inside and see what else is in store.

So it's been a while...

It must be disheartening to my three readers that almost a month has gone by with no updates or thoughts. Or maybe my ego is still flying high from last night. Either way, here's in brief what's been going on:

The last three weeks were devoted to work and nothing but. While My Fair Lady was consumed by event after event and two massive legal papers at school, I found myself spending more than a few extra hours at the office. My production company was responsible for crafting a 35 minute show for a Las Vegas trade show, and did it under the tightest deadlines I've seen in a long time. March, actually. Which was when we did our last trade show.

I cannot stress enough how poor the time management is at my current company.

For example, we have nine clients who appear in this video. All well and good by itself, but when sales is not explicitly given a cut-off date, what happens? More and more sales will be made, and the time frame to put together the show shrinks because the deadline for the show to be completed never changed. So as that window shrinks, tensions frequently rise, but nothing comes of it because the executive level gives not one care about how put upon the workers are. To them, the working class should simply do what they're told and remain grateful they're employed.

Capitalism in full swing, baby.

So the primary editor and primary writer on the show spent pretty much every waking moment at the office for two weeks straight pounding this beast out. The rest of us took care of any and all day-to-day work because we all knew that we'd have little to no time to create all of the deliverables (i.e. DVD/CD/VHS copies among other things) once they finished the show. As it turns out, we had even less time than that because Project Management made more promises than they should have, and production's Vaunted Leader agreed. Like she does with everything that's handed down From Above. Regardless, we wound up with basically three days in which we had to do a week's worth of work. Having experienced this sort of deadline for a semester and a half while working as Entertainment Editor at the TCU newspaper, I felt confident we could do it.

Complete everything with time to spare was exactly what we did. The problem is, it should never have come to that. Even worse is knowing that despite a debriefing meeting the following Monday, where we made suggestions on what we can do better in the future, is that nothing if going to change. Period, end of story. The next trade show is going to be handled in the exact same manner, and those of us on the short end of the stick will get shafted. Joy.

It's times like these I find myself wanting to be my own boss. I create my own hours, set my own rates, and if I feel like treating myself to a movie during my lunch hour(s) then so be it.

Now is time for me to run out on an errand. More later today comeplete with updates on what happened last night to keep me up until 2 a.m. yet remain wide awake today, details on one of the best action games this year, along with some brief thoughts on why Batman Begins is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.