You keep using that word…

I do not think it means what you think it means.

In this case, I’m talking about narcissistic content creators and media companies that throw around the word “theft”, usually accompanied by talking about their “rights.”

You have copyright, which is intended to be a short term, limited concession to publishers in order to incentivize creation of new works.

Now, this has expanded in popular discourse into a “natural right” of authors to restrict users of software and even control how we use the physical things we buy.

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Apps Have No Intrinsic Value

Today I saw this article online. Granted the information is from 2012, but the article reports the conclusion from an analytical firm that 60% of the apps in the App Store have never been downloaded, even once.

This figure is both astonishing and completely unsurprising.

You might argue that discoverability is a big problem, and that other App Stores that let you see new or recently updated apps easier might not have this problem.

You might also argue that a large portion of these are fart apps or redundant flashlight apps, or other things that you would not expect people to use regardless.

However, in my personal opinion, this points to a more fundamental problem.

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Thoughts on the Marvel Star Wars Comics

I just got done reading Marvel’s Star Wars issue #2.  These comics do a lot right so far.  The reveals of the beloved Star Wars heroes in the first issue are really well done.  The character voicing and banter are completely spot on.  The action is fast paced and a whole lot of fun, with my favorite set piece so far being Han and Leia hijacking an imperial walker, with Artoo and Jawas in the back trying to get the cannons working to blast Vader before he rips the walker apart with the force.  The artwork is high quality and the style is both very “Star Wars-y” and yet the pacing, style, and vibrant heroes remind me a lot of recent Marvel movies  at the same time.

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Thoughts on Digital Distribution

I’m normally the first person to advocate for new technology.  But, let me give a quick anecdote showing how sometimes the future sucks.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned offhand to some friends while discussing the Matrix that I hadn’t seen the Animatrix.  We decided to stop at the video store and check for a used copy, then get some Pizza Hut and party like it’s 2003.

IMG_3899We found a copy in a bin for $1.99.  But notice the “buy 2 get 1 free” sale stickers.  We actually bought 3 copies, so that everyone could take home their own copy.  Without discounts or sales that’s 3 copies for about $6.  With the sale and with my membership discounts it actually came out to something like under $1.15 per copy.  Mine even came with a patch that I can sew onto my jeans/backpack and look like a dork.

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How much does it cost to purchase (or rent) just one standard definition copy of such an old movie using modern digital distribution (iTunes), which is supposed to increase convenience and reduce costs?

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Enough said.

Thoughts on the GearVR

The other day I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone.  I had preordered the GearVR but I wasn’t able to use it until I got the phone.

“This is the future.” – everyone who’s used my Gear VR, including myself.

The killer app for VR is probably going to be Oculus Cinema.  I have a movie theater that I can throw in a backpack.  I also took a flying tour over Ireland and played Breakout with my face in Proton Pulse.

Screenshot_NormalAppImage(3)Setup is as easy as plug and play.  Considering how much of a hassle getting anything to work well on the DK2 is, this is really a point not to be overlooked.  The trackpad interface is intuitive and really quite nice; I hope the Oculus Rift consumer version and other headsets adopt this as a standard.  The trackpad works based off of simple gestures, and its nice to have physical input on the headset itself.  Very very elegant.  The interface is high quality and the app store is full of polished demos and games.  Screenshot_NormalAppImage(2)

The resolution is better than the DK2, and good enough for me though it could still use some improvement.  I had no problems with heat or battery life issues, despite my worries.  I do wish there were built in headphones though, a feature that the consumer Rift is apparently going to have.

There’s some noticeable motion blur at times, and the lack of positional tracking is sometimes jarring but is honestly not a big deal.  Beyond that the tracking is perfect in every app I’ve tried.  Screenshot_NormalAppImage(4)

There will be room for more complex experiences that are worth tethering yourself to a PC and dealing with all the nightmares of getting the software to work properly, but there’s also room for something like this.

That’s really all I have to say… it works as well as could be hoped.  Things will get better and I have ideas for software but this is an excellent start.  I hate it when I have to return to flatland.

Thoughts on the announced Myst TV Series

What is there to say about Myst?  It’s one of gaming’s first genuine hits with mainstream audiences.  It was a pioneer of computer graphics and game visuals.  It’s approach to storytelling and puzzle design have inspired modern games like The Room and Gone Home, and its sense of mystery and wonder was one of the big inspirations behind the TV series Lost.  For me, it was one of the games that got me into wanting to learn computer graphics and make immersive worlds, alongside the original Doom.

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While later games in the series released in the early 2000’s eventually lost the widespread appeal that the early games did, the series made a splash again when it was released on iOS in 2009.  It was on the top sellers lists for a while, as people who owned the game back in the day but never finished it bought it again on their touch devices, and it found a new audience as well.  It also was a pioneer of “serious” games on mobile, with its success at an (at the time) astonishing 727 MB download encouraged other developers to make bigger games on the platform.

In this light, Legendary’s recently announced partnership with Cyan to make a Myst television show alongside a transmedia game element makes a lot of sense.

I look at the comments sections of articles reporting the announcement, and I see a lot of reactions similar to this Penny Arcade joke.  I’m not sure how much of this is the internet snark machine and how much of this is people not understanding how much potential there is in this idea, so I figured I’d talk about why I think it’s a good idea and talk about my theories about what it might look like.

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