Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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GX notes - october, 2000

monday 30 october

Pleasures of the Flesh Made Mind

Home Office: I've reached a new level of deep media perversity -

George Patton puts his hand into a faceful of go in one surround sound while Killah Priest has been on mars on the other, and Heroes of Might and Magic battle it out in between. I've got DVD and MP3 running through surround to immerse me in my media office with a total combined screen real estate of 47 inches of screen staring me in the face.

To improve: the mac next to me is 68040 - gotta find a used powerPC so I can have a fulltime web station with a scanner next to my gaming rig. I'll be able to sit here and immerse myself fully in the madness of modern media! By god I'll feel each mellodramatic tingle as the infosphere continues to penetrate my orifices. Bring it on!

The small crappy television immediately next to my large monitor makes windows tremble constantly which is hard on my eyes. I have to find some lead plates or something.

sunday 29 october

I've got dozens of great games installed on my computer - a big enough hard drive to hold ten score virtual worlds. At any moment I can drop into any of them and continue my quest to save them or my personal explorations or the accumulation of virtual items and powers.

Now confronted with these many pleasurable escapes, none attracts me. I keep trying to push myself to burnout, and right now I feel a little burnt out on computer games. But it doesn't last! I get pulled in again!

I bought acrylic paints, a drum, a finger-piano, books, and I don't give them one-tenth the time that I give computer games. So strange. At least I'm using the jumprope every few days.

I worry sometimes, "can I be a good writer if I spend all this time lost in fantasy worlds? wasting time distracting myself?" and then I remember all the time that many great writers in the 20th century spent procuring drugs and laying around drunk and so forth, and gaming seems no worse or better.

thursday 26 october

PlayStation 2 insanity - when will a major company release a product like this to online auction only? Huge profit margin potential.

I woke up at 5am to meet Carl and Van at the Pinole Target. I got there at 6am and I was 68th in line. Surprisingly, the people in line weren't the game industry/game journalists that I expected - they were mostly young black and hispanic men. They were right there on the cutting edge, having arrived hours before me. I asked them why the PlayStation 2? Why bother? Because it has a DVD player built it. That seems to be a very key component.

I didn't get one, because they only had fifty. Fortunately, I realized this after only an hour in the rain. I rezendezvoused with Carl and Van, we went to look at Carl's nearby childhood home and finished with breakfast at Denny's. Good friends, nice to see them. The PlayStation 2 hype faded into grease but later I would find myself leaping on Amazon to get one. Whether for myself, or for my nephews, or for whom, I didn't know. I already have a DVD player and too many games. I haven't seen any really cool games for the PS/2 anyhow. But I imagine giving it to my nephews/neice and they could have some good times with it I suppose.

tuesday 24 october

Listening to Brooklyn rapper Mos Def, he says:

Young Bloods can't spell but they can rock you in PlayStation. - Mathematics.

*  *  *  *

Time puts Young Women's Pubic Hair under a microscope:

Among Caucasian girls today, 1 in every 7 starts to develop breasts or pubic hair by age 8. Among African Americans, for reasons nobody quite understands, the figure is nearly 1 out of every 2.
monday 23 october

it doesn't get much weirder than this:

thursday 19 october

it's a good thing I've been so distracted by entertainment technology. otherwise I might actually be fighting injustice and trying to change the social order.

wednesday 18 october

Chris's World

Every once in a while I get to have a serious braindump from Chris, our senior IT guy here. It's one of the priviledges of this job - he's real deep into consumer media tech and hacking.

This time he was pitching Hacked TiVo, the device that records television so you can watch it whenever you feel like it. Sounds nice. I love the Simpsons dearly, but I only get to watch it about once per quarter (quarter - hah too much time on the bizdev side of the hall). So it would be nice to record the Simpsons.

But what attracted me more was listening to Chris describe his life. He gets home from work and watches about 5 hours of the Discovery channel. "They say TV rots your brain. I'm learning." He's seen tumors removed, he's seen the inside workings of oil rigs. "I don't get to travel really, but I've seen the world."

And while he's watching all this stuff, he has a laptop in his lap and he's multitasking or chatting or screwing around. I realized that in my house, I have a nice television and VCR and DVD player set up with surround sound, but since my computer is in my office, I just camp out there every night and watch CEDs on a tiny TV. Tonight I'm going to go home and run ethernet to my couch so I can compute from wherever I care to be multi-stimulated.

Old Macintosh Computers

I've been picking up old macintoshes. People can't seem to find other ways to get rid of old computers. They're almost falling from the sky - I have like three old macs, and weekly people ask me to take their hardware. I look the machine up on LowEndMac, I buy an ethernet card, maybe some RAM, $80 later I've got a great telnet terminal. I look at the web with Netscape 2.0 on a Centris 610 and I laugh and laugh.

Besides filtering computers to students, I think I'm going to put the Performa 575 in the living room, next to the couch. On the coffee table. Then I can type and watch movies. I love movies but I get restless thinking about watching them alone. Heck, I get restless thinking about watching them with other people. I need to be doing stuff.

But I'm not ready for TiVo yet - I'm trying to keep my expenses down, and $10/month for TiVo, plus $80 for cable, that's like $1000 a year. I don't get any cable because if I signed up for cable, I'd have to get the whole shebang. I want all the choices. In this case, I'll settle for none. Well, except for whatever network comes in behind a wall of fuzz during the presidential debates.

*  *  *  *

Otherwise there's a lot of buzz here. Between the ping pong table in the big room, and the new site design, there's more life in what we do. It feels good like that. I do miss some of the people who helped us get this far who aren't still with us.

monday 16 october launched with a new look tonight. Strange to see something you've worked on for so long continue to attempt to resemble what you imagined for it long before. I think we're getting better. We definitely went from the "we're a portal, like the big boys" to "we're a badass gaming site" in our design. I like our new easter eggs and flash and stuff too.

I now stand on the threshold of an evening - it's 7.15pm. I can quit my business apps, my communication apps, my web design apps, and start up Counter-Strike or Sacrifice. Or I can leave now, hit Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, home by 8.15, cook, clean up, play games and talk to the cat. I think I shall.

friday 13 october

Reuters: Study Shows Why Your Dreams Are So Weird - study based on Tetris and Amnesiacs.

*  *  *  *

Late late late nights of CounterStrike in the office, discovery that Dennis is on playing from home. As Robert "The Romero" Glen put it, "He's just really fucking good at first person shooters" - he's got like 49 kills and the next person after him has like 26. Strangers playing on the server don't know who he is but they're writing adulatory comments ("I want to lik fugg's nutz" - dennis is playing tonight as fugg). Having Dennis online adds something to the ordinary graphic violence.

thursday 12 october

I think about this most days:

a lot of the industry is wondering whether the playstation 2 is going to make 30 year olds play video games. Video games are gonna become a big deal mainstream thing or I might as well be a professional comic book acamemician.

Either way I still stay up late at night playing with myself on a computer. I'm taking notes on this time I'm spending with myself, trying to find that behavioural core within video games.

*  *  *  *

OHMYGOD. The most incredible URL from Ozy here at work:

Japanese people customizing THE SHIT out of their vans. It's really quite absurd to see.

*  *  *  *

Also, our writer Sandy has been covering a provocative story on a gamer being banned from the online role-playing game EverQuest for writing some disturbing fan fiction about the game. The tone of the replies is a parade of politeness:

your story couldn't of missed the mark more had it been written by a dyslexic crackwhore with Parkinson's disease.

Uh, thank you. Let's design a game that teaches civic discourse.

Playing the best of online gaming (like CounterStrike) means your team members have names like "FagKilla;" as Devin pointed out that he could either mean he kills fags, or he's gay and he's a killer. If you look at FagKilla as deliberate play on violence and sexuality, then it starts to be ennobling. Otherwise it feels like a big conscentual Clockwork Orange.

friday 6 october

We just hired a new corporate counsel, a new company that works out of our office. Nice young guy, Ed. Today, after a few days of working from home, sick, I came in and he holds up Deus Ex and says, "This is your game, right?" He'd picked it up to try and learn about what's going on around here, what's cool. He said he didn't understand when he was forced to choose guns at the beginning that the game gave him a choice and one was right or one was wrong. I explained that the game was delicious to me precisely because there was no one right way to play the game, but in fact you had to make it throught he game based on your choices. We agreed that maybe the game was a little tough for a beginner, but hey, if he could make it through law school, he could make it through Deus Ex.

I'm so glad to see someone who doesn't know games so well coming in here and wanted to learn. There's not much that excites me like someone who wants to learn. I'm going to try to pace myself and not overwhelm him with recommendations.

sunday 1 october

This saturday, I played eight hours of D&D in a church, and then I spent four hours trying to get a new harddrive to work in my computer. I forgot to eat.

Heading home from the office, where Brandon was working and managed to get a new motherboard to see my 46gig monster, I felt geeky, probably from a low bloodsugar, like I was off in a fruitless world of insular distractions with a bunch of socially retarted boys. The next day I realized that while I had been geeking out, my girlfriend was off drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes with her homies, eating rich food and playing guitars and watching my copy of the Karen Carpenter movie.

So I'm glad to move between those two scenes, to be learning things about art and technology. And when I think about Amy's saturday diet of toxins and chemical indulgence, I don't feel so bad about my day of dice-rolling and machine understanding. My friends and I sit around and play social games and help each other with our toys and tools. Why do I sometimes feel like an idiot outcast? Is sitting on a computer all night playing games over the internet against 7337 h@x0rs worse than watching friends? No way, Jose. Is it worse then playing Euchre and smoking American Spirits? I'm trying to get Amy to play some D&D with me so she can decide.

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