Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

When Child Porn Laws Go Bad

Friday, May 29th, 2009

You are a criminal.  You may not have known that but if you are fairly media savvy then most likely you are a criminal based on this conviction of a comic book collector.

Here’s the quick summary: a man who is a prolific collector of Japanese manga (comics) was found guilty of child pornography because of artwork in a series of manga that he was importing depicting depraved sex acts with children.  According to the article, this is a man who collected ALL types of manga and not just this style which puts him in the realm of what should have been considered an art collector.  He faces up to 15 years in jail.

So here’s the problem – this is a victimless crime.  There is no one who has been hurt… no one who has been wronged…  no one to be compensated.  These are drawings of fictional characters.  And the law has been left purposely vague (although less vague than the first iteration) so that it can cover things it was never meant to cover.  So now a comic collector is being put in jail and resources that could have been used to catch and prosecute real child pornographers has been wasted.

Welcome to the new world that allows for an idea to be illegal.  The most common anology to this is that if we play a video game that has us kill a virtual person are we then considered a murderer?  Sounds far-fetched doesn’t it? Now think about every school shooting over the past few years and how many times video games were blamed as influencers of the mentally flawed people who commited these crimes.

So where does the line get drawn?  Do we need to burn every copy of Lolita?  Should fans of Dakota Fanning get thrown in jail for watching Hounddog?  I guess we can’t make any more gang movies… ya know, unless no one dies of unnatural causes in them.  Slumdog Millionaire should have been X-rated based on this kind of thinking (oh wait, everyone loved it and it won awards).

What’s your opinion? (please read the article or be familiar with the case before venting)

Valve & Steam support is useless

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

About a week ago I posted that I was having trouble with Valve and Steam support in fixing a region coding problem with their software called The Orange Box that I purchased in Hong Kong.

According to Valve Corporation’s first line support, all packaging is clearly labeled that the software is region restricted to the region it was purchased in.  I would never buy software for the PC that was labeled like that and because of that I read the box and asked questions about EVERY piece of software I purchased while I lived there.  I still have the retail box that I purchased which says nothing, anywhere, not even in the fine print about having ANY region or territory restrictions.

Since my last post, I have made full color scans of both the retail box and the quick reference card from inside the box that has the CD Key.  I sent them these so that they could see for themselves that there is nothing on there about region or territory restrictions.  I asked them to please escalate the issue to management if they still could not help me.
Here’s the response I got:

A staff member has replied to your question:

Hello Vincent,
We cannot accept pdf files for image verification.

You must submit your photos as a jpg, or gif.

That said, in restricted territories all official packaging for our games contains wording indicating if the game has any restrictions.

We will not be able to lift the restriction, nor provide you with a replacement CD Key for this issue.

So much for attempting to be helpful.

So today I have again, politely asked them to escalate this to their management or give me the contact information of their management so I can talk to them directly.  I paid roughly $45 USD for this game and I don’t feel that I should be punished because some of their packaging is not labeled as they THINK it is.

I don’t really want to spend hours creating accounts on forums and creating posts about how horrible Valve Corporation and Steam software is but if they can’t even be bothered to replace a simple CD Key that has no monetary value (since I already bought the game) then I don’t see a whole lot of choice.  It won’t be the first time I’ve made a formal complaint to the Better Business Bureau either.

Just telling me to buy their software a second time is not a good enough response.  It’s ridiculous and callous and is the face of everything that is wrong with modern tech support and business today.

There’s no reason to think that you will have a similar problem with a company until it happens to you.  What will you do when that day comes?  Roll over and accept being screwed over or try to put up a fight?  Help me get the word out.  I can’t be the only person having this problem and if their tech support is this useless in this case I’m betting there are a lot of screwed over former Valve users out there.
Link back to this post if you want to help out.  Every bit of exposure helps.

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Death in St. Louis

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I don’t normally browse MSN or anything, but I just rebuilt my new work PC and that is still my home page by default for Internet Explorer.   Ah well, I can change that later.  But something caught my eye on there.  Two articles about the Best and Worst cities – one  for men and the other for women.  I was intrigued, so I took a few minutes to check out the one for Men.

I read through the article and look at the top 10 best cities to live in and continue on reading.  Silently I muse to myself that wouldn’t it be funny if St. Louis was on the list.  Funny indeed.  There at the bottom of the page was listing number 99 out of 100: St. Louis.

Holy crap!  I’m living in the second worst city in the entire United States according to this study!  I was really dreading coming back home to St. Louis after living overseas, but this isn’t even the kind of thing that I was dreading.

Of course I had to check the sister article for the best and worst cities for women next to see if my hometown would (dis)grace that page as well.  Sure enouh I skip to the bottom and see St. Louis proudly in the same spot of second worst of all.  I can just see that little bit of text looking rather smug thinking, “Hey, at least we’re not last on the list!”

Damn.  Since the article takes into consideration things like heart disease, diabetes, pollution, air quality, etc. I have a hard time believing that this is skewed in any way.

And according to both these lists there are two top cities that are great for both men and women: Seattle and Salt Lake City.  Which is kind of a nice thought because I would love to live in or around Seattle.  On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me enough to move to Salt Lake City.  I’m just not the cult type.

So what now?  Considering a large portion of my readers are residents of St. Louis, MO – what do you think about this?  Are you surprised like I was?

It should be known

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Some of you saw my last post when I originally posted it.  Before I went back in on my iPhone in the middle of a meeting and marked it as Private instead.  Some of you knew then what was going on in our lives or at least my life.  Then I chickened out.  I decided that the post was too personal and that the words proved that I was a bad parent.  The words and emotions I couldn’t express to my wife in words but can in writing were too much to be held responsible for.

Now the post is back up for everyone to read.

After talking to quite a few people it seems that the feelings I’ve had are quite common.  Pretty much everyone in a similar age range to me (and many not) have experienced the same or worse.  Others have gone through this (obviously) and lived to tell the tale.  Except they don’t tell the tale.  They never tell people how they really feel about parenting a newborn with problems.  They don’t tell a soul because they, like me, felt it would prove they were a bad parent.

But in talking to others it gives them a sort of freedom to tell us that yes, parenting for the first few months (or more depending on the persons) sucks ass.  It’s a miserable, thankless job that people without ever having raised a baby will ever understand.  And it’s apparently something that people feel the need to hide from the next wave or generation of potential parents.  Whether to hide what they feel are weaknesses or from fear of people who don’t understand.

I say to hell with that.  It should be known what it is like to care for a baby.  The reality.

That is why I reposted my previous post.  I’m not going back and editing it.  I’m not even going to re-read it.  What I wrote was a release for me and to change it would be counter-productive.  There is therapy in writing.  There is a catharsis in venting the emotions that I can never seem to properly verbalize.  I felt better after writing that post and marking it private took away from that therapy in some small way.

When Muse and I went through the birthing classes, the nurses who taught the class stressed over and over that you should never shake your child.  They said over and over again that if you get angry that you should put the baby down in a safe place and walk away and call for help.  They preached over and again about the damage that can be done to an infant when shaken violently.  And the wife and I would look at each other and roll our eyes.  We wondered what kind of horrible people could even think of doing something so monstrous?  What kind of pathetic lowlifes would do that to a baby?

Now we understand.  We have not shaken the baby (don’t go calling DFS) but we now have a better understanding of WHY some people are driven to do something like that.  The rage I have felt at something so small and defenseless is a heartbreaking thing that makes me feel like the biggest sack of shit in the universe.  But at least now I know we’re not alone.

I’ve been dealing with the baby much better since those days.  She’s going on seven weeks now and neither of us has done anything more physical than burp her more vigorously than we probably should.  We are still learning to cope but I have to be honest: It’s hard.  It’s really fucking hard.

One thing we’ve both learned is that the less sleep we get, the less stress we can take.  We’ve both experienced it on multiple occasions.  And the crappy thing about it is that sleep is the hardest thing to achieve with a baby in the house.  Sure with two parents it’s possible to take shifts but when I have to go to work and make money to pay for all the bills and formula and diapers that leaves my wife alone to deal with the baby for yet another shift.  I try and take over for her at night but if I don’t get sleep then I’m absolutely useless at work after a while.  If I lose my job then we can’t afford to live much less have a baby.

So how do single parents do it?  I can’t even begin to imagine that.

My point here is not to whine and complain and fish for sympathy comments.  I turned off comments on the previous post because I didn’t want input or sympathy.  That wasn’t the point.  It was therapy.  My point is to let other new parents or people expecting to be new parents soon know that parenting is harder than you think.  It’s much harder than your friends and family have let on.  They think they are doing you or maybe themselves a favor by not telling you the gory details but they aren’t.

I would have been much better off hearing the horror stories from people before I had to experience them first-hand.  I would have known going into those angry moments that I wasn’t alone and that it was perfectly normal.  I would have much rather known ahead of time what to expect.  So that is why I’m writing this post.  Not just for therapy for myself but as a caution to new parents.

Parenting is hard.  Taking care of a baby is unbelievably hard.  You will lose sleep.  You will miss meals.  You will become a recluse in your own home and despise the walls around you.  You will fight with your spouse over the stupidest shit.  And most importantly, you will get angry at your baby – and you will feel like the world’s biggest loser for doing so.  You will get through it.  But never – ever – expect it to be easy.

It should be known that you are not the only one who has felt that way.
That’s the point of my writing.

November

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

It’s November and the leaves are gold, red and brown.  It’s unusually warm outside and the spooks and goblins have already been put to rest.  Sounds nice.  And it would be.  Except for that stupid Daylight Savings Time!

One of my favorite things about living overseas was that there was no Daylight Savings Time.  And now we’re back just in time to subject ourselves to this stupid, outdated twice a year ritual of royally screwing up everyone and everythings sense of time.

We had stuff to do yesterday but we had plans to have dinner at my Dad’s yesterday.  We completely forgot about DST.  We were over an hour earlier than we’d wanted to be and lost out on daylight that could have been used working on the house.  Annoying.

Then I was early to work this morning.  Muse went through and changed the time on the clocks in the kitchen last night and I had already changed my black watch I was wearing at my Dad’s at the time of our revelation.  I go to bed and turn on the alarm.  I wake up and get shaved, showered, dressed and go to wake up Muse for her doctor’s appointment.  Only after passing through the kitchen the second time do I see that it’s 6:10am and still 10 minutes before I’m even supposed to be awake!  I forgot to change my alarm clock.  Dammit!

So I was up at that point so I figured I’d just go into work early which is fine.  I’ll leave early to make up for it.  But it’s really freaking annoying.  

The United States government needs to do one of two things:

  • Abolish Daylight Savings Time and quit torturing its people.  We don’t need it!
  • If that’s too difficult for those pea-brains then they need to mandate that every single clock and watch made from now on be synched to the atomic clock so they all change at the same time without us even needing to know about it.  And they need to make a retro-fit kit for all existing clocks and watches.
And since we know that the second option is pretty much impossible… get rid of Daylight Savings Time!  WTF?
And can someone explain to our dog with the internal dinner clock that she needs to adjust back an hour? Thanks.  She’s really annoying and blames us for her starvation.