Category: Psychosocial Trends

Yup.  Building your community online takes some practical effort, and a little knowhow.  Matt Mullenweg describes how…not to go about building an online community.

6 Steps to Kill Your Community — Matt Mullenweg.

Halo (series)

Image via Wikipedia

Nothing has come to define the gaming scene quite like the Halo series.  In this short guest post, computer-savvy minstrel Jera Wolfe (not his legal name) shares why he thinks Halo lost its franchise power.

Sadly, it’s post-Halo 2, so any gamer that is reading this will not be reading it on the machine they play Halo on.
It’s console only.

There is an illusory bias that takes place in video games when games are relegated only to the Console market, as is the case with Halo and a few other hot titles, like Gear of War 2. Console gamers and computer gamers have different expectations, different perceptions, and different assumptions.

This difference between the computer gamer and the console gamer, and no where is it more apparent than in the first person shooter (FPS) genre, is seen clearly in the following of the Halo series.
Halo’s place as a golden title and a true classic of a game of amazing quality is widely agreed upon in the Xbox community and beyond. It was quite an advancement in some regards while the FPS market was still polishing what is quickly becoming a static formula for game design. Halo 3 has to compete with all the modern FPS systems, now, and it’s running on a box that’s falling ever farther behind the desktop, which has more ram, more processing power, faster and more robust 3d emulation hardware, and is also upgradeable piecemeal. The costs of marketing a console game and PC game are different. Microsoft’s Xbox360 is working hard to make Downloadable content a part of its parcel, with a measure of success, but it still makes its profit on the $50 titles it sells.

There are pros and cons to making a game for PC or console, which cross over when doing both, but I don’t understand them fully so won’t comment. What I do understand is the end user results, and the quality I see when playing many Xbox360 titles, is less than what I would expect, let alone tolerate for $50, on my PC.

This goes for games ported to the PC. They don’t feel smooth, comfortable, or as intuitive as a game designed for PC specifically. Even redesigned games, that are not just direct ports, still lack some of the fluidity that computer focused developers have learned to weave into their system’s design.

It’s not comparable to computer FPS titles that came out at the same time.
So lets address the game itself.

Halo Reach brings nothing new to the table, really.

It’s a pretty game, it’s an interesting bauble, and it may hold some novelty in storyline. But its become a permutation of Team Fortress, just a lot more expensive, and less portable.

The game itself was hyped, possibly too much, but from what I’ve seen, played, and heard from others, it hasn’t delivered. In my hands, it feels like a clumsy controller that makes me immediately long for a mouse, so I can actually aim and react naturally. The game play is smooth, but it feels like a blend of another Halo and some modern FPS design, along some shiny new tactical gimmicks thrown in to add novelty.

If you love the series, it’s an absolute must get.
If you aren’t into Halo, or if you are like me and own a computer, and don’t really know what’s happened after Halo 2 because you’re still waiting to play Halo 3, and you haven’t found it worth buying an entire game system to play it on? Pass on it. You won’t miss anything you won’t find in other games, and done just as well or better.

Jera Wolfe is a hardcore techie user who remembers BBS-like systems such as FIDOnet that predate the declassification of ArpaNet. His first introduction to the computers was the old TI-99/4A, a system which his grandfather taught him how to hook up and play.

Though there’s always so much to say about technology, especially in this rapid “exponential” age of advancement and gizmos—I found that I was not fully using my unique voice, just posting here.

So, without further ado, let me announce the launch and inception of my new blog, “I Am Not Your Pastor,” which follows a short term I held as a minister at a local ministry.

The URL is, and here you can expect to find both my insights (which I hope and believe are unique and fairly helpful) and some stories of divine coincidence and other experiences I’ve had. Also, I’ve invited guest writers to share their thoughts, and we’ll see what happens from there.

I don’t pretend that I’m perfect, or that I have all the solutions to make life work right, but I’m here, and I have something to say.  So, just as Maya Angelou once wrote (or was it a Chinese proverb?) —

A bird does not sing because it has an answer,

it sings because it has a song.

And, thus—I just had to start singing—in this case, it’s a sort of writing and sharing through blogging.

My two main goals for this new website are “serendipity” (the discovery of new, right-angle-to-previous-thinking concepts) and “synergy” the emergence of better things through the combination of multiple angles or viewpoints (generating a result which is “more than the sum of its parts”).

Yes, you’ll still be able to check back here and find new things—but focus in online blogging will be there, at this new blog, at least for now.

I made a post a few months back about the concept of really following your dreams, making the world a better place, and “creating things of beauty never before seen on the earth.”

This is part of why I’m doing what I’m doing here.

Image representing Xtranormal as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

The first thing I’ll point out is that video is beginning to become more than just the “hot” new thing; it’s a “keeping up with the Jones’ thing” now for business.  YouTube, I hear, is the second largest search engine—and is used for posting not only video, but audio (without real video with it) or even text-based things (with information textually in the description only).

More and more companies are offering their services for web-based video construction.  Let me highlight a couple.

1. Epipheo Videos

The business creates videos for businesses on the web, using an animation style, and with a focus on a solid-core nugget of an idea.  So much focus is put on this central nugget, that the name of the company is actually an amalgam of video and epiphany.

2. iScript

This one doesn’t rely on voice-synthesizers, but takes your screenplay, and has (real) actors record it into a listen-able mp3 which you can then send to Hollywood script reviewers who will supposedly be more apt to listen to your screenplay than read it (even though the latter is faster) because they’ll take it with them when they go jogging and such.  I’m one to take advantage of spare moments doing menial tasks listening in to podcasts and such, but I really am not sold that “Hollywood is listening” as their tagline asserts.


3. Xtranormal | Text-to-Movie.

This is sort of silly—but it allows users to make movies with pre-made talking avatars, 3D, basically, with ability to create scenes of dialogue, with what look to be pre-defined accents, poses, characters, settings, etc.—all read by a speech synthesizer which shows how technology is becoming uncannily better.  I’ve seen a couple of these before I realized what they were, but first sat up and noticed when this was posted on a friend’s Facebook:

Another funny one on the site, was this movie, about a woman held captive—in a action-movie-style parody.


Unfortunately, I haven’t tried any of these—but just came across them, so don’t consider anything I say an endorsement, or even a critical review: it’s really all just a flag/alert to some interesting new ideas out there.

Sci-Fi and Beyond

Predictive Power in the Mind of Imagination

One thing that I’ve always found to be a thing of beauty is truly innovative or deep science-fiction.  There’s something about seeing beyond the everyday and the possibilities outside of “what is” that is quite inspiring.

So, I remember having a discussion with my former neighbor (who I ironically discovered after a couple decades actually shared my birthday—what, it’s your birthday today?  No!  You’re lying…it’s mine too!) just being able to express really why I enjoy sci-fi—because it allows us to look beyond exactly how it is now, to see how things could be.  Beautiful.

We assume that we have to do things just one way—the way they are—and that everything that we see is the only way it can be…in fact, we get stuck in a parochial mindset, believing that details as mundane as cross-walks and roads, and clothes, and offices, are really the only reality that can ever be experience.  Science fiction is here to tell us otherwise.

The example I remember giving, in response to my neighbor’s challenge that roads are firm and not gelatinous (based on some imagined sci-fi scenario, I guess) was that perhaps in some world, they could be—maybe we would travel, not in wheeled vehicles, but in armored exo-skeletons and jump our way to locations we wished to visit—or simply jump without exoskeletons—or perhaps travel in some sort of gyroscopically balanced spherical vehicles…

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

11 Astounding Sci-Fi Predictions That Came True is a powerfully exciting article that shows that some of these “could-be’s” actually came true—most surprisingly Arthur C. Clarke‘s prediction of a news-reader that basically became the iPad, down to the details of clicking on expanding/blow-up icons!

So, I think if I were to spend my life making things of beauty (NBSONE*) I’d like it to be science fiction…or science-fantasy.

*Never before seen on the earth (NBSONE)

Reaching out to the True Self

Today a took a moment, and perhaps unwarrantedly took a listen to Sarah McLachlan‘s “Building a Mystery” song.  I can’t admit that I’ve heard this song since I was in high school—the thought took me back to a more innocent time, before I forgot myself.  Here’s what I want to remember…

…at my grandmother’s birthday party—92 years young—(though I was off a year at first)—I was fortunate enough to see, for the second time, a harpist who played for her and her guests as she had a previous year.  She was found (again) on the internet, with help of recognizing her face—that’s a subject for another post.



Cross harp. Picture taken by Erika Malinoski a...

Image via Wikipedia


However, this was astounding—I asked my brother, who had set it up for her to come and play for my (our) grandmother, something profound about life (as I am apt to do with him) and he told me about a conversation that he had partaken of with her after the party, while we were all juggling the clean up—myself with (now) 3 boys, and making sure someone was with grandma…

…so, what I asked, I don’t remember, but here’s what he said:

I saw this woman (the harpist) and I thought she must have been in her 30s.  She’s actually over 50.   I attribute this to her playing the harp and making things of beauty for the last 40 years.

When I asked him what he would do if society would collapse, or rather, if he was concerned (and/or worried) he told me, that know.  Why “worry?”  It only takes away energy that can be spent on making things of beauty that have never before been on the earth.

It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.

~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez ~


I’m glad for her to have spent that time.  Oh, how I wish everyone did that, or could.

It’s been a particularly heavy day, and as I write this I’m letting myself return to my 70-90+ words-per-minute typing speed that I have on a conventional keybaord, my DVORAK learning temporarily put aside.  It feels good to fly again for a moment.

So what does this all mean?  Just that I’m re-examining my life, what I’m doing, and how I’m doing.  I want to make things of beauty.  Someone close to me told me that my blog should include more personal insights or unique content and ideas—as I have so much to share.  And there’s more to do than that.  You might’ve noticed little illustrations on the sides—that’s just a taste of what I’d like to do.  Thankfully…

I’m remembering myself now.

Today I had my first real encounter with the iPad.

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

It was a family encounter…my kids and I got to see an example of Moving Tales—a revolutionary new book format!  It’s the kind of thing you’d see in sci-fi….a flat pad that displays images that move—that future storybooks are basically micromovies.
Subtle animation, sound effects and music: the whole thing was illustrated with 3D models that were rendered through a hand-drawn style filter.  The prose was classic and well-written. The story was called “The Peddler of Gushing Cross.”

One of the phrases from the book, “Life is stranger than the she ever could have imagined,” feels quite apt right about now.

The whole things makes one wonder about the path that brain development is taking. Of course, so many people are growing up with TV and with other things along those lines, that the world is reforging itself, if only in terms of how people are thinking.  What will my children think growing up in a world of animated, talking storybooks?  They already have a number of strange conceptions—

—though we talk a lot to them about TV, they hardly ever watch any television-proper—but rather watch whatever they do watch on the Netflix service.  Thus, they have no concept of commercials (and find them quite incomprehensible, if not intolerable) and have little tolerance for the modern fare of non-sequitur cartoons.

That’s probably not what most people are undergoing right now as they re-image their brain-maps, so I suppose there are a number of trails going on in the neurosphere world of new media.

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