Category Archives: Music

Swashbuckling Under Pressure


I’ll admit it – I am a former pirate.

Back in high school and college, I traded MP3’s with friends.  We burned each other copies of games.  I was not a stranger to the occasional DVD copy.  And I ran an illegal OS with illegal software for years.

Much has changed since those days, however.  When I fire up my computer today, I’m pleased to see a completely legal copy of Windows XP appear on the screen.  Every piece of software and every game I run on my machine has been paid for.  And even though a few remnants of my freebooter past resurface now and then in my MP3 collection, the vast majority of the music I listen to was purchased from iTunes, Amazon, or ripped from a CD I bought.

It makes me feel good.  But now, I seem to find myself on the opposite side of the fence from many of my fellow internet users.
Recently, the crew behind The Pirate Bay website was put on trial and subsequently convicted of “assisting in making copyright content available,” with a total of $3,620,000 in fines, and each member of the team facing a one year prison sentence.  It’s hard to say whether or not the verdict was just.  On the one hand, The Pirate Bay is brazenly obvious about the purpose of its site.  The pirate theme has been taken on in name and symbol, it organizes torrent files by media type (music, movies, programs, etc.),  and a cursory search of the site will reveal that the vast majority of the content being traded among users is not legal.  But on the other hand, The Pirate Bay doesn’t explicitly host any of the files in question; they merely house the torrent files users download to find peers in their BitTorrent client.  So it could be argued that it is the site’s users who are in performing the illegal activity, and not the site itself (dubbed the “King Kong defense“).

I happened to read this news on Digg, and many people there disagreed with the verdict.  What disturbed me though, was that the majority of these people didn’t care about the legal intricacies or implications of the matter.  They seemed only to think that piracy should be legal, and that it was in the best interest of everyone to continue pirating movies and music in protest.

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Apologies for the Absence


Has it really been over a week since I’ve posted here?  Well, my apologies for the delay – it’s been a busy time for me over the last week, and I just haven’t been able to find the time to write anything.  I’ve meant to though, so hopefully I’ll be getting back on track with this post.  In the interest of everyone’s time, here’s a quick list of everything I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks that has contributed, in one way or another, to my lag in blog posts:

  • Met my brother at a bar and watched my dad play music for a few hours; I also saw a woman drop a cake straight onto the floor of a bar
  • Took a trip to San Francisco for my work, got halfway there, and then realized my boss had texted me the night before to tell me the trip was off
  • Worked on a game that you might just see on TV someday (hopefully!)
  • Took another trip to San Francisco for my work, and was nearly late to the meeting because I followed my own directions wrong
  • Worked on a redesign for my blog, scrapped it, then started working on it again
  • Fixed a long-standing server bug in the Reflect system (thanks for the help, Matt!)
  • Worked on a redesign for Reflect Games, scrapped it, then started working on it again
  • Watched the two hour long season premiere for Lost, and the hour long preview before it
  • Finished Fallout 3 (goody-two-shoes style)
  • Went home to see my dad before he had to have a minor procedure done at the hospital (he’s doing fine now, thankfully)
  • Played some quality Team Fortress 2 with Yourself (alltalk servers are basically Skype on steroids, eh?)
  • Finished Prince of Persia (need to play it again for achievements)
  • Got my previous landlord to drop a bogus move-out bill after catching their cheating, and exposing it to them
  • Released a Windows Vista / Windows 7 compatible version of Linked
  • Began learning Visual Basic all over again
  • Watched a few classic episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with my mom
  • Rediscovered my love for Joe Frank (an awesome radio show)
  • Bought World of Goo on Steam
  • Almost finished reading Lord of the Rings (I’m on page 947 now!)
  • And probably a lot more stuff that I can’t remember right now, due to the ever-growing fatigue I’m feeling from writing such a long list!

Anyway, you probably get the idea – I’ve been a bit busy.  I’ll try to get back on th blog a bit more this week though…  I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to talk about, but which I just haven’t had the time to organize into coherent sentences yet.

Thanks to everyone who continues to read my sparse posts – I appreciate it!

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A Rhythm Too Far

As a gamer, I’m not normally the type to look down upon the gaming habits of others.  Sure, I’ll make the odd quip about “freestyle” DDR players now and then, but generally I don’t give my fellow gamers too much grief for doing whatever it is they choose to do.

This stance has lead me to defend Guitar Hero / Rock Band, games which I have played very minimally, whenever someone brings up the “you should just learn a real instrument” argument.  I’ve even argued this point with my dad, who is an actual musician (he plays bass guitar).  I had an epiphany at a GameStop which changed my views on this slightly, and which makes me wonder about how far the rhythm games can go before they’ve gone too far.  It also makes me wonder if I’m the only person who’s ever had an epiphany at GameStop.

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Massive Geek

Yup, that’s right – that small collection of Mass Effect paraphernalia is indeed mine.  Including the two books.

I’ve never really been much of a fan of this sort of thing.  You can count me among the ranks who look down on the Halo novel crowd with disdain, and don’t even get me started on the horde of people reading World of Warcraft inspired librams.  I may be somewhat of a geek at heart, but even I have to draw the line somewhere.

But now I find myself in possession of not only the Mass Effect game, but also the soundtrack, and two books.  I’ve always been a bit of a game music connoisseur (a quirk that extends itself to the occasional movie soundtrack as well), but never a book guy.  Novels based on games always seemed cheap to me – like milking a franchise and its fans rather than paying worthy tribute to any redeeming values the original work may have had.  Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t want to be spotted in public with my nose stuck inside a book with Master Chief plastered all over the front cover.  Despite all this, however, I found myself in Barnes & Noble some months ago, and on recommendation from a few friends, walking out with a brand new copy of Mass Effect: Revelation in hand.

The novel didn’t take me all that long to finish, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had reading it.  Revelation might not be as engrossing as a full-fledged, self-contained science fiction books like Ender’s Game (one of my favorites), but it makes a great companion piece to Mass Effect itself, and helps flesh out a lot of the backstory that was merely alluded to in the game.

My misgivings over game-based fiction are mostly gone now – Mass Effect: Revelation was a good read.  I don’t want to say too much about it, in case anyone out there is planning on reading it in the future, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the game and wants to learn a bit more about the characters involved.

As for Ascension, I’ve yet to read it.  The book was only released a week ago, and between the two books, I decided I’d finally read one of the largest books I own (and one of the most famous): The Lord of The Rings.  I got it as a Christmas present from my parents a few years ago, dug it out of my closet the other day, and began reading.  I’ve got about 1,000 pages to go, and it’s all good stuff.

I’m sure though, that if Ascension is anything like Revelation, it’ll be worth the wait.  Drew Karpyshyn did an excellent job with the first book, and I have no reason to believe the second will be anything less.

And with so much to read before I even get to start on Ascension, maybe we’ll be close to another book release by the time I finish with it!