Monday, October 15, 2012

Do or Do Not...

  In the Star Wars movie series, there is a wise old character named Yoda, who speaks in riddles and witty one-liners. One day, Luke Skywalker crashes his space ship in the swamp where Yoda lives. Yoda begins teaching Luke how to lift his sunken vehicle out of the water, using a form of telekinesis known as "the force".

Predictably- the student fails, and complains to the master: "I'm trying!"
Yoda responds: "Do, or do not! There is no try."

  There is great wisdom in this thought, but being a pragmatic idealist (ugh) I am sometimes tempted to follow Yoda's advice in a way that I am pretty sure he did not intend. If there is no "try", and you find that "doing" isn't working very well, what then? Sometimes "doing" seems to cause more harm than good. Some days it seems like it would be so much better to "do not", to sit quietly in a corner and stay out of everyone's way.

  Do you ever catch yourself feeling like the only reliable way to reduce frustration in your life is to drastically alter your dreams and/or personality to match your circumstances, instead of continuing the endless quest for a genuinely satisfying life?

  Is it time to quit being a thermostat, and accept the simpler life of a thermometer? I admit, part of me lobbies for a pathetic sort of resignation in the name of practicality and peace. Fortunately, another part of me is burdened with the knowledge that such a deep, profound level of concession would, of course, be nothing more than giving up. A good intentioned, but obviously selfish, way of giving up.

  Working hard to change and grow, to really make today a little bit better than yesterday- is an uphill battle at best, and doesn't win you any popularity contests. If you are an advocate for change, a voice crying out against mediocrity, someone who genuinely wants to achieve something great in your lifetime... be prepared to count your friends on one hand. It's going to be lonely and frustrating a lot of the time, and you are setting yourself up to be criticized and resented by those who don't understand the vision you have in your mind, and the passion you have in your heart.

  Prepare to be judged as a hypocrite for enthusiastically believing in ideals which you yourself are not (yet) good at practicing. And along the way, when life gets especially hard- you, like me, may secretly wish you had the nerve to just give up. But the sad joke is that I am stuck "doing", because there is no try, and I am too stubborn to sit back and do nothing. *sigh*

  So anyway... do you want to build a good life for yourself and those around you, despite your faults and failures? Then we have something in common. Because like a certain green, pointy-eared sage... I too thirst for a life of purpose, built from something more lasting and real than just "trying".

Monday, September 24, 2012

We Won't Be Doing That

  Valve Software, maker of hit games like Half-Life, Portal, and Team Fortress, has revolutionized the distribution model for PC gaming with their Steam online store and gaming client. Much to the chagrin of traditional game publishers like industry giant Electronic Arts, the success of the Steam online service has proven large scale online distribution of PC games to be not only viable, but wildly successful. Go figure.

  You mean people would rather just be able to download any game they want, whenever they feel like it, sitting in their pajamas in the comfort of their own home? Yes, yes we would. At the time of this writing, during the day, on a Monday, Steam has 5.3 million concurrent users online. EA Games (the largest video game publisher in the world) has grown to appreciate the market position that Steam occupies after years of selling their games on Steam; so much that they cooked up a copycat service of their own, and named it Origin

  I have had a Steam account since a time when the only games available on it were Half-Life and Counter-Strike. Things have changed a lot over the years. These days, if a publisher doesn't have their games available on Steam, they are at a distinct disadvantage.

  In the summer of 2011 (after the launch of Origin) EA and Valve had some issues which lead to several of EA's top game titles being pulled from Steam, and offered exclusively on Origin. One of the games that got pulled was the state-of-the-art shooter: Crysis 2. Game developer Crytek then went to work making the necessary changes in order to get "Crysis 2: Maximum Edition" (back) on the Steam store, despite EA being their publisher. That was a smart move by the folks at Crytek.

  Now don't get me wrong, competition is good. The fact that game clients like Origin, BigFish, and others like them exist is a good thing for the progress of the industry. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? However, EA has made a point of mentioning the ways they want Origin to be different from Steam. Which brings me to the humorous portion of today's blog:

* June 6, 2012 *

"David DeMartini is Senior Vice President of Global E-commerce for Electronic Arts, and that means that EA's much-maligned Origin digital distribution service is his baby."

Steve Peterson ( One of the things that Steam does is this random deep-discounting of software, and it works well for them. Do you see that as something you want to do?

David DeMartini (EA): We won't be doing that. Obviously they think it's the right thing to do after a certain amount of time. I just think it cheapens your intellectual property. I know both sides of it, I understand it. If you want to sell a whole bunch of units, that is certainly a way to do that, to sell a whole bunch of stuff at a low price. The gamemakers work incredibly hard to make this intellectual property, and we're not trying to be Target. We're trying to be Nordstrom. When I say that, I mean good value - we're trying to give you a fair price point, and occasionally there will be things that are on sale you could look for a discount, just don't look for 75 percent off going-out-of-business sales.

Steve Peterson ( Strategically, what's important for you over the next year? Any specifics?

David DeMartini (EA)
  ...Most importantly, cross-platform. You probably don't just game on a PC or just on an Xbox; we're playing on PS3, we're on Xbox, we're on PC, we're on social, we're on mobile, and we want to be the centerpiece, the hub, where all those achievements on all of those platforms come together. Because that's how you challenge amongst your friends. ...Origin has the opportunity, being platform-agnostic, to be that centerpiece, to be that hub.
[ source ]

* September 20, 2012 *

"EA is offering six Battlefield titles for $10 each, only through Origin and only for today."

"To celebrate the 10th anniversary of EA's Battlefield series, the publisher is now selling select Battlefield PC games for $10 each. The drawback is that the discount is only through EA's Origin platform, and the sale is only for today. Sorry console junkies, you're not included in the discount."
[ source ]

  Oh what a difference 4 months can make. It seems that being the "centerpiece" of the gaming universe means (most importantly) protecting console gamers from getting their hands on your flagship FPS title for $10.

  A quick check of the game's official website shows the normal price of Battlefield 3 at $59.99. Now I'm no rocket scientist, but according to my math, that means EA just had an 83% off "going-out-of-business" sale, as Mr. DeMartini put it. Consider EA's Battlefield franchise, in their own esteemed opinion, officially "cheapened".

  The current installment of a well known game franchise is usually excluded from heavy discounts for quite a while, even on Steam. Perhaps EA is feeling the squeeze from taking so many of their headline products and hiding them in a corner. See, competition is good.

  So anyway, it's like they say: if you can't beat them, act like you are better than them, eat your words, and then join them. ;)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Do You Process?

Anyone else have days where you are frustrated with what it currently means to be yourself and live your own life, and then wind up accidentally being grumpy at others?

So anyway, I want to learn more about why we as human beings behave like this. I want to learn more about how people process personal evolutionary hurdles on a daily basis. I want to learn how to be better at being a good person on the rough days, not just the good ones.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Magical Place of Goodness

So anyway...
 ...the delicate balance between bottling things up like a robot, and being a whiny fountain of frustration- is the topic of today's random thought. That magical place of goodness somewhere in between zombieville and P.M.S.

Yeah, I need to pin that spot on my google maps, cause it is hard to find.

Monday, July 23, 2012


How can I tell it's Monday morning? Because I am thinking silly, indulgent thoughts like this:

It's strange how our natural inclination as human beings is (for the most part) to be sentimental dreamers, and yet the world often seems to be purpose-built for grinding the sentiment out of life and making dreams a luxury for the ultra-privileged.

I know it doesn't *have* to be that way, and I am free to have my own, more positive perspective... I've read Covey, I've read the Bible, etc. The world just feels a little sideways today.

So anyway- wishing life were a little less uphill, and a little kinder to those who yearn for more.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stand Up Against Bullying

Many of you will recognize Mike Tompkins as "that A Cappella guy" from YouTube, known for doing catchy all-vocal remakes of popular songs like Dynamite by Taio Cruz. This original song, titled "Stand Up" was written by Mike for the movie Bully, and is awesome as usual. Download it from iTunes and 100% of the proceeds go to the anti-bullying foundation, Bully Bust. Do it!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year

It's a leap year, and today is the date that only exists sometimes. So I am posting this just for the date that will be attached to it. Yep, getting "Feb 29th" attached to this post is the only reason I am writing today.

So anyway, if today is your birthday- then happy birthday! Celebrate with four years worth of party-power! Hmm, that should be a helluva party... can I come?  ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Election Year Politics

Election year politics drives me nuts. I am continuously baffled at the notion of human beings amending their identity so thoroughly as to doggedly adopt the stance of any one political party. The logical approach would seem to suggest that both sides of a two party system are going to have some valid points. Neither side is ever going to have a monopoly on reason, or virtue.

This strange behavior seems to manifest itself most noticeably through the adamant assertion that everything the [insert your party here] candidate has ever done is beyond reproach, and everything that the [insert opposing party here] candidate has ever done must (of course) be deplorable and treacherous.

Further more: if the incumbent is a [insert opposing party here], your top priority is to blame any and all existing problems on the current administration, regardless of the scope, prerequisite causal factors, or length of history relating to said problems. Linking current issues to their full context and factual track record, is just a distraction tactic... right?

The eternally adversarial nature of a two party system is, at the end of the day, a total joke and I for one am sick of it. Look at all the asinine blocking, finger-pointing, and subversive party-wide campaigning happening on capitol hill right now. Our elected "representatives" are essentially throwing up a collective middle-finger to the people of America, whom they are sworn to serve. While the citizens of this nation continue living in a society bereft of adequate upkeep, both sides of the aisle are getting next to nothing done for us, because (of course) it's an election year. Apparently "election year" means all elected representatives get to take a 12-month paid vacation, punctuated periodically by strategic mud-slinging sessions.

What ever happened to plain and simple patriotism? ONE nation under God, indivisible... INDIVISIBLE?! The politics are utterly and absolutely out of control in America, and it is high time we wake the hell up and realize it. It's really starting to feel like the only thing lacking to make this a genuine civil war are the guns! Quit being party-driven robots, people ...the system is broken. No amount of blind cheering for either side of the aisle is going to solve anything.

So anyway... calm down, quit campaigning for a minute, and go read the constitution. I'm not kidding, go read it- it's a lot shorter than that Harry Potter novel you've been meaning to finish. And hey, if you pay attention- you just might get a whiff of what true patriotism, a genuine desire for freedom, and a real commitment to equality... smells like.

I won't try to put into words what capitol hill smells like right now.