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Hello, and a place for questions [Jan. 1st, 2037|12:00 am]

So -- you've found my journal. If I know you, hi. If I don't know you, hi -- introduce yourself. Remind me why I might know who you are, or where you bumped into me and my journal -- all comments are screened by default. (You could also just email me directly if you're overly concerned about secrecy.)

Want to leave me a note? Comment here.

General questions? Comment here.

Remember that what I write here I retain the copyright to. In general, I love it when people link to (public) posts, and almost always give permission to repeat elsewhere what I've said here; but I do depend on my words and ideas to earn my pay, so if you want to use my words and ideas to make money, drop me a line first.

Have fun!
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You know what always works? Scamming the elderly and their morning children [Mar. 27th, 2014|07:45 am]
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"It was only after her mother died two years later with an outstanding reverse mortgage balance of about $308,000, that Ms. Santos learned the loan had in fact jeopardized her parents’ nest egg. The financial company that extended the loan, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, moved to foreclose unless she paid the full balance of the mortgage.

What Ms. Santos did not know at first was that surviving family members were supposed to be offered the choice to settle the reverse mortgage for a percentage of the full amount. In her case, that lesser amount offered to heirs is 95 percent of the home’s current value, or about $237,000, according to one estimate. Any shortfall if the home sells for less than the debt is covered by a federal insurance fund, which all reverse mortgage borrowers are required to pay into each month."

And that's when regulators sued the mortgage company for one hundred billion dollars and no one ever tried to take advantage of people who had just lost a parent ever again. The end.

Oh wait, wrong universe. Read the article for some info if your relatives are considering reverse mortgages...

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(no subject) [Mar. 25th, 2014|07:05 am]

Reading Stross's (Hugo-eligible!) "Equiod" while in the middle of rereading Zelazny's "Sign of the Unicorn" makes for a confusing morning, thematically.

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Games that punish the player for playing [Mar. 3rd, 2014|09:26 pm]
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I've been playing a few phone games, of the sort where the game is free, but it gets slower and slower unless you insert money. Most recently, DK, which has some fun art and sounds--but unless you buy crystals, which make things complete instantly, you get to tap in a few places on the screen every hour or so, and wait for things that take hours or days to finally complete.

It used to be the deal was, "Give us some money and we'll entertain you." Now it's, "Give us your money or else we will bore you."

That's a much shittier deal. I can be bored for free. I don't need your app to torture me, and it's not encouraging me to give you money.

I guess it's time to go back to paying for our fun, up front, in that archaic fashion of the ancient times of the 80s and 90s. I happily forked over a few bucks to play Triple Town an unlimited amount--though there are in-app purchases, they're optional, not required, and you can just sit there combining bushes until you're blue in the face. I bought the Infinity Blade series, because it's diverting and clearly a massive effort; but I do my grind-time there instead of springing for the Mega Ultra Cool Sword that would win the game early--because the grind is interesting, and part of the game itself. It doesn't feel like flat-out punishment, not like time in the Time Out box, not like a five minute major for the crime of installing your app.

So as a rule, I don't purchase any of the Crystals or TowerBucks or FlutterBucks or other semi-real currencies these games use to speed things up. I'm possessed of a grown-up's level of patience; I can simply ignore your game for days or weeks at a time, Progress Quest-like, and come back when things have accumulated. But it leaves me wondering *why* I am bothering to do so at all. There's something truly rotten and broken in the game playing modes encouraged by such games, and I really wish developers would stop monetizing boredom, because it's a nasty cycle.

(Yes, there are plenty of games that aren't like this. They are not the top earners, which means something is screwed up with the playing field currently. I liken it to the downward spiral of Reality TV and Cable News, a race to the bottomless pit of low cost and low quality, zero morality and zero heart, which pinches the content producers and the consumers alike, until both leave in a fit of pique.)
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Note to self [Feb. 27th, 2014|07:47 am]

Despite its prominent placement, caramel sauce is not a good ingredient for your morning omelet.

(I resisted, but it was tough.)

Also, the reason you were so draggy yesterday morning was because the attractive-looking black tea is actually decaf.

Love, me.
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Internet trolling preferences correlated with personality traits such as sadism, narcissism [Feb. 16th, 2014|08:59 am]
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or as Slate puts it, "Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People: Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic."

University of Manitoba researchers did a bunch of surveying and assessing of the underemployed (Mechanical Turk folks) and students. Their findings provide confirmatory evidence for what many of us have suspected, and some of us have written a novel about:

1. there are specific people who are 'trolls' and prefer trolling to other forms of interaction
2. these trolls are in the minority (about 5%) but provide most of the trolling behavior seen (not proven)
3. these people have a tendency toward sadism, narcissism, and psychopathy (see graph in link; the correlation's quite strong)

The kicker's in the last paragraph of the article:
“Because the behaviors are intrinsically motivating for sadists, comment moderators will likely have a difficult time curbing trolling with punishments (e.g., banning users),” she said by email. “Ultimately, the allure of trolling may be too strong for sadists, who presumably have limited opportunities to express their sadistic interests in a socially-desirable manner.”
Yeah. I worry about that too.
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In space, no one can hear you shamble [Feb. 7th, 2014|07:57 am]
There's got to be a book out there about a spaceship on a long voyage slowly getting taken over by more and more zombies, right?
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Genre 'theory' [Feb. 5th, 2014|07:53 am]
Elevator shaft scenes are popular because they're "back stage", right? The unreal embedded in the everyday, one sliding door away from normality.

Just like the "running around the servant's quarters" or "fight scene in the kitchens" or "descent into the sewers", it's a fantastical* world overlaid on top of the button-down, tuxedo-wearing, chianti-drinking surface world.

...does this make spy movies a variety of urban fantasy?

(* fantastical to people who don't work in these spaces, of course)
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Note to cat [Feb. 5th, 2014|07:40 am]

That is my laptop. It is not food and you cannot have it.

That is my laptop power cable. It is not food and you cannot have it.

That is my breakfast. It is food and you cannot have it, no matter how many chirpy-purrs and moogly-eyes you make at me.
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(no subject) [Jan. 30th, 2014|10:39 pm]
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Skills I did not anticipate needing for successful self-publishing: advanced FTP knowledge.

Apparently my fingers remember all the commands, even if I don't.
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