8.29.2008

Luck hates me

This is a picture of the cruelty of 'luck' - not only am I - a six foot thee inch monster - assigned a center seat, but the seat next to it has no seat in front of it... And what's more, the person in it is all of 5 foot tall and weighs at most 120 lbs soaking wet.

Gnar.


*** Bonus! baby behind me just started crying! Character is being built as I type this!

------
Sent via SMS. Please forgive any typos or pointlessness.

8.28.2008

Some bullshit thoughts about all sorts of stuff (I Think, part 2)

I think anyone who tells you that "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is a better film than "Snatch" is an art school fucktard who just wants to be one of those "Well, I saw the FIRST film by {var AcclaimedDirector=this} and it was superior and thus I am superior for having done so" dicks.

I think Dane Cook is a hack.

I think that some people assign FAR too much value to the metaphor and analogy in Donnie Darko. I also think the movie sucked cocks and those who find it to be a moving experience are the same sort who think Babel was anything more than an overbaked narcissistic hunk of shit.

I think the term "writer" has gone so far off the deep end of mastubatory indulgence that I shall never ever refer to myself as one, ever, for any reason.

I think blogs are stupid and bloggers are cocks. And yes, I mean me.

I think Obama should be our president. I think anyone who buys into the Muslim nonsense is either woefully gullible or just out to screw the shit out of our nation with their nonsense. To go way too deep into pop geektitude and quote Alfred from The Dark Knight, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." And some men are just fucking ignorant hillbilly pieces of shit who - somehow - don't want to choke Sean Hannity to death.

I think if I were ever within punching distance of Sean Hannity, I'd be serving time for punching Sean Hannity. In fact, I know this. Put this down as a promise - I will punch Sean Hannity if I ever get the opportunity.

I think hurricanes suck.

I think my friend Jeremy is perhaps the most pure spirit of a person I know. I think this because he's the only one I know in my life who is willing to tell me the truth about how much my ideas suck.

I think I should take a drawing class or 300.

I think getting an Akira tattoo is a bit much. But I think that getting an entire arm full of Akira tattoo loops past "bit much" and around to "awesome" and anyone who thinks otherwise is secretly jealous of the confidence and dedication it takes to be so into something. They also wear Crocks and think Dane Cook is funny.

I think people who attempt to be Bill Hicks should be kicked in the face. Same with people who think they're George Carlin, Louis CK, or Conan O'Brien. But those who try to be Dane Cook are fine, because they're already destined to drink from straws and watch court-based programming on afternoon television when they're 50.

I think I should stop.

8.27.2008

Guess who's pathetic?

I design for a living.

I have been turning in sketches and comps of layouts for websites, applications, logos, magazine ads, press pages, and all kinds of other crap for nearly 10 years.

I still can't bear the thought of anyone - including my wife - looking at my character sketches for a comic book. It SERIOUSLY makes me want to vomit to think about it.

It's always been this way. In fact, believe it or not, it was that way with my writing for a long, long time. Andrea really helped, as did people's interest in some of the stories I emailed around back in the early part of 2000. But even now, I get nervous when I post stuff to MI (especially if it's been a while, like now).

But with the comic book stuff... Yeech. It borders on a phobia, honestly. And its specifically comics / comic strips that get me this way. Want me to do a character rough for a logo or ad or storyboard? Fine!

Want a comic panel or page penciled? Puke.




Pathetic.

8.26.2008

Book Signing w. Drew Curtis in Indianapolis Aug 30

Heya,

If you read this journal, there's a good chance you also read Mentally Incontinent (either the book or the site or both). So this might be a good place to tell you that I'm going to be in Indianapolis, IN at Downtown Comics on August 30th to sign the VERY LAST CASE of the orange-cover, version 1 of Mentally Incontinent.

That's right, the orange cover is gone. I've pulled it from production to get ready for the all new revision of the book, which will include a few new stories, as well as the much requested Romance.net story that should have won Chapter 10, but ended up being too long to fit in the first edition.

I'm joining Drew Curtis of Fark.com at the signing, and we'll both be goofing off and talking comic books and geekery.

Join us!

Details and directions here.

8.25.2008

14 AT&T Information Architecture Failures (or, how to kill time when outsourced customer service jerks you around)

Yes, AT&T sucks big, big balls. And not just cause they screwed me - they clearly have no idea how to actually structure an application, which I intend to prove here in a moment. But first, There's a bit of a precursor to this post... A little bit of perspective, if you will:

PRECURSOR!
I paid my bill over the phone Aug. 1. The rep asked me what card, I said American Express. He hemmed and hawed, but then finally put me through to an automated payment system. I did the duty and it said everything was dandy.

On Aug. 13, my service stopped. So I called customer service (which was an ordeal, but I describe it in detail below). An hour of troubleshooting later - no kidding - someone finally discovers that I haven't paid my bill and my service was terminated. I was livid - and I was also passed to four seperate departments to get the situation fixed. All told, I spent five hours on the phone getting a service that shouldn't have been terminated, reinstated - and it took them 4 days to finally get it back up. The bottom line - the guy I called to pay my bill was a dipshit and put me into a "trial" system that wasn't actually ready for prime time, so my money was taken but the payment was never credited.

So, when the service finally came back on, it did so as NEW service - I've been getting mail from AT&T all week about my new DSL line, how to use it, what my new bill looks like, and so forth. It's been annoying, but livable.

Now, It's been raining in sheets here the past few days thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Fey. And when it rains in Atlanta, any number of things is bound to happen:

1) Traffic freezes to standstill (100% likelihood)
2) Power goes out (40% likelihood)
3) Some retarded endangered species of clam gets some extra runoff from Lake Lanier instead of the dried-up reserves and dams that need it, due to some arcane federal mandate (100% likelihood)
4) DSL service goes out (10% likelihood)

Yes, it was only a 10% likelihood, but it happened - my DSL chugged slowly, heaved, and died. And it wasn't just mine, it was most of the state - but I would only learn this at the tail end of a 2 hour 17 minute call to customer service.



See? 2 hours, 17 minutes.


I started my call by being forced to listen to a digital voice tell me about all the ways that AT&T DSL customer service could help me - but I couldn't push 0 (or any other key) to speed things up so they actually COULD. I just had to sit there and listen, until finally she said that they use a voice-based system to magically detect what it is I need.

I tried saying "technical support" and I was told that she didn't understand. So I angrily began pushing numbers until finally I was greeted with some hold music which indicated that I was going to be passed on to someone human.

And when I got there, the fireworks started.

Basically, this chick from India (but, to her credit, she had impeccable English) told me that she couldn't check the status of my line until I completed the new user registration.

"But I've been a customer for three years," I replied. "Why the hell would I complete new user registration?"

"Because," she started, and went on to explain that my reinstated line is set up as a brand new account. And they've set up their system to key on usernames. So I have to set up a username with their web-based application to associate it with my phone number.

"But my internet is down," I replied. "How do I do that?"

"I don't know," she answered. "Let me call an engineer."

So she did that. They walked me through connecting the modem directly to my computer (which is retarded), and the line began sputtering... SLOWLY. I mean, less than 1Kb a second.

"There's no way you can do this for me?" I asked.

"No, you have to do it," she said.

SOOOOO, she sent me to http://www.dslinstallation.bellsouth.net to begin the process.

It took literally five minutes for the page to load. Not just because my connection was slow, but because it was detecting all sorts of shit, and their web server was undergoing "maintainence." But when it finally loaded, this is what I saw:


No other text or messages telling you what it's doing or why... No browser detection amongst all this "detection" going on (which is important in a second). Nothing but blue dots moving all over the place. And the call was taking SO DAMN LONG, I figured out that I had nothing better to do than to critique AT&T's usability and information architecture decisions (which, I'll go ahead and give away, there are 12 of them and they are all bad).

Which brings us to Information Architecture (IA) Failure #1 and #2:

IA Failure #1: Never leave the user in suspense as to what it is you're doing with their experience. If you're loading items, tell them you're loading items. If you're detecting browser or connection speed or Javascript or if they've been surfing porn, tell them. This screen is useless without information, and if it hangs or takes a while (as it did in my case), it just pisses the user off.

IA Failure #2: THIS SHOULD NOT BE AN ONLINE APPLICATION. This should probably be #1, but I was discussing the screen itself when I brought it up, so screw it. This entire process of creating a username is done so that AT&T can assign a speed / account level (DSLExtreme, DSLBasic, DSLGoFuckYourself, etc) and so that they can test your line for speed and trouble. So, if there IS trouble... And you haven't registered yet... Well, you're stuck in a room full of mirrors, with your trouble staring back at itself. This is STUPID. The customer service reps should be empowered and trained to be able to do this process for you over the phone.

SO! After a 5 minute wait, I was greeted with this treat of a screen:




Not a horrible screen in it's own right, but there's a few problems with it:

IA Failure #3: Why give people two clicks (a radio button to select language, then a "next" button to continue) when you could just make two buttons - one for English and one for Spanish, and let them navigate with only one click?

IA Failure #4: Even if you've decided to go the 2-click route, sticking your button at the very bottom of the screen - even if the template is easier on your developers - isn't exactly easy when there's a ton of whitespace above it. I had to scroll to find it. It's not offset from the footer, it has no prioritization on the screen whatsoever.

Okay, so I made it past this one pretty easily, even though it was aggrevating and took about six minutes to load (I'm not joking about load times, by the way. And I know it's not because the page is poorly constructed, this was an extenuating circumstance, but I mention it to reiterate that I had plenty of time on this call to think about all these problems).

Once I chose my language, I was brought here:




... Wow. Where the hell do I begin? How about with that little ugly control on the bottom right:

IA Failure #5: NEVER USE VOICE TO TRY TO TELL A USER WHAT TO DO! This little "speaking installer" thing that began loading did quite a number of things to annoy me: 1) the "Next" button wouldn't load until their audio player application loaded, 2) the audio played without my controlling it, 3) the speaking voice gave me NO new information that wasn't already on the page. I get that they're probably trying to cater to 508 compliance (users with disabilities), but blind users already have assistive reader programs which - if you developed the page correctly - are already reading the text to them. And the deaf can't hear your stupid speech app anyway.

IA Failure #6: What's the point of this page anyway? Why is it here? Shouldn't the "Welcome to blah de blah" be on the first page? I mean, I know you wanted me to choose my language, but that should have happened before the "detecting whatever" page, and would have been done better as a split-screen page with english on the left (with a "continue in english" button) and spanish on the right (with the same button for spanish). THEN you detect my whatnots, then you let me get on with the show.

IA Failure #7: What's with the Cancel icon and button? When I press that, it takes me to the "detecting blah de blah" page and starts the cycle again. Why? Why is it at the bottom left, if it's going to be there at all?


After this, I was taken to the End User License Agreement.





Other than the fact that they tried to read the whole thing to me, and that I had to wait for the speech app to load to get any usable controls on the page, it's not a bad page. I have one complaint:

IA Failure #8: If you are going to make your progression disabled until an action happens on the page (in this case, you cannot click "next" until you check that you agree to the EULA), TELL THE USER PLZKTHX. Either near the checkbox, or when I try to click "Next" without checking the box. Don't just let me sit there and click stupidly.


And now, we get to the page that caused me to launch into a tirade with the poor foreign girl on the phone who clearly had no hand in developing this piece of crap, or in the decision to make this process manditory before she could help me:





... Guess what the minimum requiremet I didn't meet was?

I used Firefox. I know this because once I saw the screen, the rep told me that "Yes, Safari and IE are supported, Firefox is not."

Get ready, here comes the salvo:

IA Failure #8: All that nonsense with detecting whatnots in the first stage? DETECT MY DAMN BROWSER and tell me when it won't do the job.

IA Failure #9: At the VERY least, tell me on THIS page what the hell I didn't do or have that caused failure.

IA Failure #10: The CDROM connects to the net to do all of this. I checked. It's just an implementation of the explorer.dll with a custom interface. Still a web-based process. Still wrong and stupid. (For the record, the .dmg file is NOT on the CD ROM I received, so I couldn't have skipped any of this anyway)

IA Failure #11: SUPPORT FIREFOX for chrissake. It's in use by almost 40% of the home market. There is NOTHING at all coming up in this flow that mandated that I use Safari or IE, because the end of this "flow" takes me to a downloadable application that completes the task (which is it's own IA failure, in just a minute). You can auto-download or link to an application file just as easily in Firefox as you can in anything else.


*deep breath* Okay. So I had to close out Firefox and start up Safari, and go through nearly 25 minutes of slow-loading pain to get past the point of the EULA to get here:



So, all of this browser work just to end at a downloadable application.

IA Failure #12: Why is there a skip option? You cannot complete the process until you download the app. Skip does nothing for you.
IA Failure #13: Why is this even happening? I mean... Why? Why can't this just be completed via this site? Because when you go through the application's screens, it's connecting here anyway:

:
(This pic is from the downloaded DMG file, which will be reviewed in just a second.)


SO WHY THE HELL can't you just finish this process from the browser? Why force a 1.3MB download on a user who's already connected to a slow connection (you can't get your 2, 3 or 6MB/sec connection without registering, so you connect slowwwww by default).


After all of this, I download the app:






No real complaints about this screen BY ITSELF, but if you take into account that this shouldn't even be happening, yeah, it's all kinds of wrong.


So, now time to run the app:





It takes its sweet time loading, treating me to pretty much the same screen you see in the browser in failure #1. I didn't even bother to get a screenshot of it, because - like i said - it's the SAME SCREEN. As in, literally the same - served from the same server, for the same purpose... Just tucked neatly into this little shell of an application.

And besides, I've already ripped on it enough. So I'm moving on into the app:








Guess what? These are HTML screens. This app simply surfs to the web and feeds them to you.

It SHOULDN'T be a download - but furthermore, it SHOULDN'T be purely web-based anyway.

So, basically, this is where I stopped taking screenshots, because I got so fed up with the length of time it took just to get this done that I started playing Kill Monty:





You HAVE to love a game that, when you click "Story Mode", it simply says "SHOOT EVERYTHING!!!!" in huge red letters and starts the game.

Once the entire process was completed, she was able to determine the problem with my line.

Are you ready? After all of this, are you excited to find out what the problem with my line is?

"There is a widespread outage in the area of Atlanta, Georgia."




She couldn't just check that in the beginning.

She couldn't be updated herself that there is a widespread outage in my area by a system alert.

She had to guide me through a horrific, poorly-planned registration process to dig into the system and find out that my connection was slow, sporadic and ultimately OUT COMPLETELY (which it became about 2 minutes after we finished this process) due to a widespread outage in my city.

Well, this calls for:

IA Failure #14: OH MY FUCKING GOD put this on the phone the second I call in! You know where I'm calling from - YOU OWN THE DAMN LINE. You can look up my number. Aside from that, the second I told the girl what my number was (which she should know anyway, since I called from it and YOU OWN THE DAMN LINE), she should get an alert on her screen saying "Hey, there's a widespread outage in the area where this number resides - and it may not have a username associated with it, but it still resides in Atlanta, GA so we should know this very basic goddamn fact."


So, that's how I spent my Sunday. And just to remind you:




It took me two hours and seventeen minutes just to find this crap out.



Have a good day.

8.24.2008

Out of it, and back into it

So, the back injury took a lot more out of me than I realized or imagined it would.

I still have no clue what I actually did, and the doctor and the massage therapist peoples both say it's just one of those cramps that happen - but this particular muscle is underneath the surface muscles, and there's no real way to stretch it or work it out. So I basically had to suffer.

I took Ibuprofen for the first part, and after the doctor, I finally got convinced to try a muscle relaxer. I'm NOT a fan of pills or "altered mindstates" or whatever you want to say to mean I'm not going to go druggin' it up. But with this, my doctor explained that I have to do something to get that knot to release, so I tried this Balcofen stuff.

It's kinda strange - all three times that I can remember being under the influence of anything whatsoever, it feels like a startling revelation that I don't like not being in control. This was no different - I was keenly aware of my body beginning to feel somewhat loose and numb. It felt, as all of my experiences have previous, that I was falling into a pit, and I couldn't stop myself. It wasn't scary, because I could still see my room and the Olympics and whatnot, but it definitely wasn't something I would consider comfortable or fun.

I guess I'm just not that sort of guy.

It did help, though. As uncomfortable as it was to take the pills, it seemed to me that I could either sit and suffer and be helpless to fix the problem myself, or take something that would chemically release the muscle and make it stop acting like a whiny brat.

I will admit though... When the doctor said the name of the drug, I did get a little excited that I was going to get some BALCO. BIGGER... STRONGER... FASTER...

But oh well. I guess I'll have to stick to protein and whatnot for a while.

8.21.2008

OLLLLLLLLLLLLD

There is nothing like a back pain to remind you that you're old.

I don't know what the hell happened. I felt fine at the gym yesterday, and I felt fine when I went to bed last night. Then for some reason, about 4:30 this morning, I woke up with a huge knot in my middle-lower back that would NOT relax. I tried using a doorframe, i sat in the massage chair, and i got my wife to work on it a bit... No dice.

My friend Lori saw how much pain I was in during our meeting this afternoon and offered me a reasonably-difficult-to-get appointment with our massage therapist (the one who fixed my back knot issue earlier this year). Laura, the therapist, worked on it - and it felt better, for sure, but it still hurt. She assured me that by releasing these trigger points that were all locked up, i would feel drastically better sooner than if i'd just let it go, and I trust her.

So tonight, I was just settling in to play a little Madden 09 with Jeremy, and my dogs needed to go out. I let them out, and one decided to play around a bit, so I walked out to coax her back into the house - and my back locked up. I had to get my wife to help me back into the house.

I feel so pathetic.

8.19.2008

Tooooo much

There is just way too much going on right now. I'm banging away at client-driven deadlines, trying to close out a few gigs so I can have the fall and winter to dedicate to the football thing. Meanwhile, I'm writing stories that kinda suck, and making videos with me in batman masks cobbled together over a week and a half of shooting crap that just doesn't work well.

So this is what it means to be a frustrated artist...

Anyway, I'm just glad that AT&T finally got the intertubes connected back to my home so I can retire this shotgun receiver assembly for leaching my neighbor's wifi that only worked half the time.

Busy busy busy.

8.17.2008

Ouch.

I hope when I die, I will have lived a life that fostered bonding, friendship, and unity. And I wish these things not because I give a crap about bonding, friendship OR unity, but because I really don't want an obituary like this to cap my time on this earth.

8.15.2008

AT&T = opposite of DirecTV

So, I made my payment for my AT&T DSL service. The dipshit who took the payment did it through a "new system" that, according to one of the more helpful agents, shouldn't have been used. My service got disconnected because the payment got "hung".

So, I spend about 4 hours on the phone yesterday and today to find all of this out, and in that time, I hear any number of answers to the question "When will my service be back up?" I heard "within the hour," "in 24 hours," "in 48 hours", and just now "up to 72 hours."

I fucking HATE AT&T.

HATE.


***Update***

AND NOW THEY'RE SAYING WEDNESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.

What assholes. I could fire them and have Comcast install new service by Tuesday. The only reason I won't is because if there's one company I hate more than AT&T, it's Comcast.


***Update***

Still on hold with these jerks, but the guy helping me isn't a jerk. He's nice. His name is Joseph. People named Joseph are wonderful.

Also, I made this with "Thinking Putty" while waiting:


*** Update Even More OMG ***

It's fucking retarded that I've been on hold long enough to make this one:

8.14.2008

I love Madden, but I hate trivia hosts (no offense, Noel)

So, Madden '09 is awesome. I'll just go ahead and get that out of the way.

I've been playing it a bit with my buddy Jeremy, and we both agree, this is one of the best editions of the game that's come out in... Like, ever. And while talking about it, I was reminiscing about how much fun I used to have playing Madden 96 with Mike, and Madden 2000 with my brother in law. And it got me curious to check out what other magazines and websites are saying about the 20th anniversary of the game.

So I ran across this one from Gamespot.com (which is really, really well done), and as I read into the recaps, it brought up the Madden Curse and how it effected the various athletes to grace the cover of the historic franchise the past 10 years or so - which brought to mind a particularly aggrevating memory.
I was playing trivia in a bar in 2006 in New York with some friends, and one of the last questions was "Who was the first NFL Player to appear on the cover of a Madden football game?" We were tied with 2 other teams at that point, and I knew the answer as clearly as I knew my own name - it was Barry Sanders.

I knew this because my cousin Stephen is a MASSIVE Barry Sanders fan. Always has been, and still is now. He has posters, pictures, stats and autographed everything hanging up all over his house - and back in 2000, one of his hugest moments was getting Barry Sanders to autograph his copy of Madden 2000 for Playstation.

Well, the trivia host - who was a total cock, like almost every single trivia host I've ever met ever in my entire life ever ever (except Noel, who I desperately mean no offense toward), was all cocky when he revealed the answer to be Eddie George, on Madden 2001. The other two teams got points, we fell behind, and I was looked at like a pile of kitten droppings by the rest of my table.

Not willing to put up with this indignity, but not wanting to cause a huge scene, I stood up and walked over to him and said "Dude, it was Barry Sanders."

He covered the microphone with his hand and said "What?"

I said "Madden 2000 had Barry Sanders on the cover. The answer is Barry Sanders."

He said "I'm sorry, it was Eddie George. Please take your seat."

I pulled out my Treo (hot to trot at the time, I know) and began dialing up a picture. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Proving you wrong," I replied.

"I'm not wrong," he stated. "I write these questions myself. I did the research. It's Eddie George."

The picture of the cover of Madden 2000 loaded, and looked not unlike this:



He sighed at me and said "Come on, you can't even tell that's him." So, I Googled "Barry Sandars Madden 2000" and came up with a number of pages totalling in the millions. I dialed through some and argued my case. The trivia dick said "Look, I'm not giving you the points, go sit down." I demanded to talk to the manager of the bar. "It won't matter, he's not MY manager, so just go sit down."

I stood fast. "I'm not leaving until you acknowledge I'm right."

He grimaced. "Fine, how about I give you your points, and we just leave it at that?"

"So you're saying I'm right?"

"Sure, fine, whatever."

"Then take off the other team's points," I demanded.

"I'm not going to do that," he replied.

"Barry Sanders was the first player to be on a Madden cover. You just agreed with me. I want my points, and I want the other teams to have points deducted for being wrong."

"Look, I'm sorry, it's not going to happen," he stated.

I got aggrevated. I stamped. I stammered. I grabbed his microphone.

"Excuse me everyone," I said, with the trivia dude demanding I give the mic back, "I just want to ask you all something. I just proved to this man that Barry Sanders was on the cover of Madden 2000, a year before Eddie George appeared on the cover in 2001. He's acknowledged that I'm right, and offered to give me my points. Now, my question is, if I'm right, then should the other two teams get points even though they were wrong?"

The folks paying attention all said "no." Even one of the two teams said so.

I handed the mic back to the trivia guy and nodded, indicating that he should go ahead and make things right, then I headed back to my seat. Just as I sat down, the trivia guy announced, "Folks, I need to make a correction - I believe I read the question wrong. I am looking at it here, and it says "Who was the first NFL player to have his portrait on the cover of a Madden game?"

My mouth gaped open.

"The picture that the 'gentleman' you just heard from showed me has Barry Sanders in the background, so we're not going to be able to accept his answer as correct."

"Come on!" I demanded.

"Sorry, that's how the question was worded," he said into the mic.

"If you'd read it that way in the first place, I could have answered it differently!" I shouted, nearly as loud as the PA carrying his voice was. "But you didn't, you just asked who was on the cover first!"

"Sir," I heard from behind me.

I turned around. It was someone who I figure was the manager. "You should take your seat and relax."

"But it's not fair!" I demanded.

"It's okay," he responded. "We'll give you your next round of drinks on the house... Just let this one go."

And so, we lost the match due to the dipshit trivia dickhead moron retard deciding to re-ask the question differently. But we did get free drinks, and that was nice...

Still, I was right, goddammit.

8.13.2008

Desire and anxiety (and how they're related)

I have a friend.

I know, shocking information indeed... Someone actually likes me. But hey, it's true, and this post is about him.

This friend is a good friend. He's honest and loyal and unafraid to tell people exactly what he thinks of them, even his friends. Especially his friends. The people he has the most to lose from, he's the most honest with (especially if he has something negative to point out). It's a paradox, but oddly enough, it becomes a feature that one tends to rely on after a while.

Anyway, this friend is a great guy with a great amount of potential in a great many fields. But on the work front, he's traditionally taken jobs that are far below his capacity for both creativity and effort. He worked retail and labor jobs, despite the fact that he has a love and a talent for programming.

He programmed one employer's website. He programs websites on his own at night when he's at home, for fun. He's programmed sites for me as favors. I even hired him to write code for me for a little over a year, giving him tons of resume material and experience. He's REALLY GOOD, too.

But for some reason, he's afraid beyond belief to actually apply for a programming job. He looks at the increase in salary and the fact that it's a job in a field he actually wants, and he freezes up. He won't send his resume. He won't call potential employers. He feels - after all this time - he lacks the experience necessary to get a "real job." He feels he won't even be considered for the position, and even if he is, he won't get it, and even if he does, they'll fire him because he's not John Carmack or Robert Dvorak or Stallman or Torvalds. He's just him, and he does a fine job at what he does... But he has ZERO confidence in his ability to get a development job.

Which strikes me as curious.

He had no experience whatsoever in his last job - they taught him everything he needed to know the first two weeks he was there. But for some reason, he wasn't nervous about the interview, and he didn't give himself fits over the actual job. And I wonder why that is.

In my experience, I've found that we only get anxious over the things we actually care about. We only afford ourselves the adrenaline shakes and worry over something we really want. The situation with a development job and a labor job are exactly the same to my friend, but because one is just a job and the other is something he truly wants to do, he stresses over the concept of even attempting to get the development job to the point where he talks himself out of it before he even tries. He won't call a recruiter at one place because it's an hour drive to commute. He won't call another because they want 3+ years of experience and he only has 2 years, 11 months experience.

So on and so forth.

If his actual desire was, say, to be CTO of the company, a development job would be menial to him. He wouldn't obsess, he'd just keep trying place after place until they gave him a development position he could leverage into a higher paying gig.

Ever take aim at a target, only to miss it? Did you know that most archers and rifle range experts recommend focusing on an imaginary point just beyond the target?

Did you know it helps?

It's an odd, but sadly true, fact of life that the surest way to achieve a goal is to aim at a much larger goal above it. Or... Simply treat your goal like it's just a step to something else. It's worked for me most of my life, and I'm hoping it'll work for my friend... If he'll just pick up the damn phone and let me talk some sense into him.

DirecTV makes good

So, regarding my stupidity on my DirecTV bill the past year and a half...






I don't have to pay for TV again for a year and a half. And to think, I was planning on cancelling next month to save money :P

8.08.2008

Guessing game time!

Hey, guess what this car contains?


If you guessed 'An asshole,' YOU TOTALLY WIN!

Rice-a-Roni for YOU!

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Sent via SMS. Please forgive any typos or pointlessness.

8.07.2008

Soooooo.... Guess who's stupid about DirecTV...

As it would turn out, I have been paying double for my DirecTV service for the past year.

This is explainable, I promise... But the truth is, even after the explanation, I'm still a moron.

You see, I do not pay the bills in my family. Andrea does. Andrea went to school for six years to be a statistics major with a concentration in actuarial science. She studied long and hard and pressed through many major exams to become certified in her field.

I quit college after a few months to go make a lot more than I was worth making webpages.

She saved her money earned through college so that she could pay off her student loans and perhaps have a little to work with once she earned her degree, certifications, and credentials while looking for a job.

I bought every single N64, Playstation / PS2, Dreamcast and Xbox game that ever came out, the day they came out, and owed exactly 400 bucks a month for rent on a house I shared with my friends.

She is responsible.

I buy 20" widescreen doodlepads for my computer so I can parade around conventions and pretend to be a designer.

SO! She pays the bills. I just do stuff that feels like art until someone decides to make the foolish decision to pay me for it.

I also love football and hockey, and when I signed up for DirecTV, I took advantage of their package deal to get NFL Sunday Ticket and some whiz-bang uberchannel suite. When DirecTV dropped Tivo and started their own DVR thingy, we opted in for those. It was a simple phone call. I never even kept track of what was happening to the bill, I just knew I wanted to record Battlestar Galactica.

So, today I was online making sure NFL Sunday Ticket was on my package, when I noticed I was paying for both a premium package at 109.99 and the Plus DVR package for 69.99 a month. This was news to me... I had no idea we were paying over 200 bucks a month for tv.

So I called my wife - and she responded "Well, you have all that hockey and football stuff, I just figured that's what we paid for tv every month." And she was right to assume so, since that's what the very first bills were like. But in March of last year, with the adding of the DVR package, we had just finished our final installment for that year's NHL Center Ice package.

And of course, I would sooner eat a snail than look at a single bill, so I just let her handle it. And so a year and more has gone by with us paying an insane amount of money for satellite tv, just because each assumed the other knew what the hell was going on.

DirecTV has assured me that I will be paid back for this, but they haven't yet figured out if it's going to be a huge credit on my bill (and thus "free" service for the next however long), or a check for a refund. I'll find that out this weekend.

I feel like a tard. Needless to say, we're auditing every single bill we get now (which, thankfully, are only our mortgage and services like tv, water, and whatnot).

Happiness is...

... a new Wacom Cintiq 20wsx:




I traded up from the 12wx - my big meaty hands were simply too large to work directly on the 12" display space. This one though... It's perfect in every way. I still have about 2 days worth of configuring and adjusting to make it 100% where I want it, and the bad news is that I have to go out of town this weekend.

There is nothing worse than leaving a brand new shiny toy.

And yes, that is a glove with the finger and thumb cut out. It's so i can rest my hand on the screen without dragging handgrease all over the place.

8.01.2008

The 15 year tattoo, part 7 (final)

...Wow.

Seems like yesterday that I walked into A.B.T. Tattoo and met Todo, and this all started, but after 7 sessions, the sleeve is pretty much complete. There's still about 5 hours of touchup to do, but for all intents and purposes... This is it. (You can view the whole process in pictures here)

I am pleased to show you the completed vision. But first, the 7th sesson:











This shows the final bit of the smoke and landscape as the city of Neo-Tokyo explodes when Akira goes off.


And now, the full sleeve - a masterwork by the legendary Todo:





















One day, I'll do a post on why this tattoo, what each of the pieces mean (both in the story and in my particular design) and whatnot, but for now, I'm beat.

Todo doin' his thing

Wheeeee, the elbow sure feels good...

------
Sent via SMS. Please forgive any typos or pointlessness.

Here's a secret...

Bloggers don't read bloggers.

It's just how it goes. When you're so self-absorbed as to think what YOU say matters to the general populace of the planet, you can't be bothered with the trifles of others who think they're so damn important. You're the one saving the planet one post at a time, not them, etc. and so forth. It's just how narcissism works.

Anyway, I say this to frame the following announcement - I just subscribed to Overthinking It, my 4th ever blog subscription in the over 15 years I've been using the internet, and over 7 years that the term existed. And this is the post that got me: The philosophy of Batman.

Don't get me wrong, I read blog posts all the time. But I don't subscribe to them - I don't really get into following a blog, unless it's Seth Godin, MMAFrenzy, or Photoshop Disasters - and that last one, I only subscribed to last week, after enough quality posts convinced me to put it on my radar.

And now, Overthinking It is on the list. And it's not just because of the Batman post. The Batman post was... I mean... It's just fantastic. The writer REALLY knows his philosophy, and it's not just because he knows Neitzche and Schopenhauer and Kant and The Federalist Papers... It's because he actually understands what the hell is going on in them - all of them, and how they relate to one another. It's not just material to him... It's not just shit he read when he was depressed and/or feeling superior to the rest of the planet because he 'gets it' - he actually DOES get it, which is why nothing he writes feels lofty or 'superior'. It's just good.

I like it, anyway. If nothing else, read the batman thing. Or, if you don't do that, check out the LOLJoker bit. That's funny.