Gratification

February 13th, 2013 | Posted by Jason Imms in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

After two unsuccessful attempts, today we were some of the lucky few to make it into Crumb Street Kitchen. I still don’t know how I feel about the implied need to queue up before the doors open, but the intensely delectable food on offer does take the edge off the frustration of being turned away twice previously.

On offer today was an eighteen hour slow roasted brisket, and pulled pork. At Crumb Street, you can order the meat du jour in 100g portions, and also have the choice of a few meals which make use of these meats, as well as a few sides. Between three adults and two children, we ordered 100g of each meat, two brisket and southern Carolina bbq sauce sandwiches, a pulled pork and home-made bbq sauce sandwhich, a pulled pork taco, and a few sides. This totalled a trifling $46.50.

What followed is now only a hazy memory of meat and happiness, but I can tell you that I will be back, and that the food I experienced today stands at the peak of my own charcoal grilling/roasting aspirations. I sincerely hope that Crumb Street Kitchen becomes successful enough to deal with the scarcity issue, and will become a permanent fixture in a city previously devoid of such necessary delicacies.

Detritus

January 16th, 2013 | Posted by Jason Imms in Opinion - (5 Comments)

The following began life as a Facebook comment, which then somehow turned into a manifesto. So I guess it belongs here too?

While shuffling rooms around at home, I had to PICK UP and move FOUR boxes of audio cassettes to a place that WAS NOT the GARBAGE BIN.

Y’know how it sucks when you’re moving house, and you’re packing up bookshelves and thinking “Ugh, the last time I even touched these books was when I was unpacking them after moving in here,”? How much more for cassette tapes, a technology invented to solve a problem that NO LONGER EXISTS, a medium that cannot be played-back by any device in our possession, a lossy simulacrum of music we once enjoyed and yet now scarcely remember.

Dear readers, shed these dusty media tombs. Free yourselves from the entirely self-inflicted burden of nostalgia, and make space in your storage room for some other useless piece of life’s detritus.

Animus

July 11th, 2012 | Posted by Jason Imms in Opinion - (7 Comments)

Today during yet another aimless lunchtime rumination with friends, I was spitballing the idea of a website that is not only entirely crowd-funded, but also crowd-directed. The site would essentially be a blank slate, with no inherent direction or mission. It wouldn’t be a site specifically about videogames, technology, cars, music, or world news, but it could be about all of those things. It would be focused utterly on topics suggested, developed and chosen by the community.

Users would be asked to fund the site through donations, in a fashion similar to Kickstarter, with every donation over a certain dollar amount garnering that user a single vote. These votes could then be spent to either pitch a commissioned long-form written piece on the topic of their choice, or to vote for an idea that has already been pitched. This means that the entirety of the site’s content would be driven by the community, a community that is engaged enough to pay for the content that they want to see produced, and they would have actual agency in its production.

Site contributors would consist of a dedicated team of editors and writers, supported by community members that wish to try their hand at writing pieces themselves. Users of the site would also be able to apply to write pieces that exist in the list, given sufficient evidence of their experience with the topic. Site staff would then work with these community writers, helping them by providing contacts, advice, stylistic guidelines, and an experienced editorial voice. Pieces would also be sought and published from well-known guest writers from around the world, obviously subject to availability.

The idea isn’t without its flaws, here’s just a few:

  1. Getting started would be the most difficult part. Users will only contribute to a site that they have confidence in, how would we initially build that confidence, and support ourselves while we do so?
  2. Given the generally acerbic nature of Internet feedback, how would the editorial team measure and act on feedback?
  3. How long would it take before the list is completely dominated by porn-related pitches?
  4. Considering the fact that money is involved, how much power would site staff have in dismissing pitches that were deemed uninteresting or distasteful?
  5. How would the community funding work with advertising before the site becomes self-sufficient?
  6. How would we encourage return readership? An RSS feed may prove frustrating, as the content would probably be incredibly varied and difficult to categorise.
  7. All that the site would be able to guarantee is a high quality of writing, and excellent presentation. The content itself is almost completely unpredicatble.
  8. Perhaps the funding side of the idea is crazy? Should we just focus on the community-driven content aspect? Aside from the obvious, there are numerous advantages to community funding:
    1. A community that invests financially, invests passionately and often vocally.
    2. Trolls and other malcontents would be discouraged.
    3. Sufficient community funding would negate the need for advertising, producing a cleaner, more pleasant site.

I’m still not 100% convinced that this is a good idea, but the fact that my initial dismissal has subsequently brain-wormed its way into this blog post, I can’t shake the feeling that there might be something there.

It’s a community-focused site, so I guess the best thing to do is to post the idea and see if the nebulous but evidently powerful “crowd” takes to it. Right at this very second I’m pretty excited by it, and I hope that you see potential in it too. I’ll post more as the idea matures.

Aspiration

March 20th, 2012 | Posted by Jason Imms in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Regarding Christian Higley’s recent posts on Bitmob about giving up on his dream career in games journalism.

Christian, I don’t know whether you’ll ever read this, but I hope you do. I was very sorry to read your heartfelt post on the subject of the industry’s club-like nature, and I just wanted to say that I truly hope that you make it to a place that will see you try again.

In my very short time pursuing a career doing the same, I have been met with nothing but encouragement and support. I don’t know whether you were simply in contact with the wrong people, or just unlucky, but I do know that there are people out there that would be more than willing to help you get on your feet. No one is going to give just give you a job out of the kindness of their hearts, but I could name a number of people who are reasonably prominent in the industry that would be willing to read over your work, give you tips for pitching to particular editors, and generally help you on your way.

The best thing that any young writer could do is to just write. Write as much as you can, be it on a blog or a community site like Bitmob. Building up a portfolio of work is essential to any writing application and even if it’s left unpublished, you’ll at least be getting into the habit of writing regularly.

As Scott Nichols said in his response, freelance writing isn’t a career choice to make if you want to, y’know, earn money. It is tough work, full of rejection, derision, and self-doubt. You will be constantly trying to make contact with incredibly busy people whose only available contact points are an underused Twitter account and oversaturated email address. You’ll face critique from faceless Internet gremlins, and hateful responses from people upon whose products you’ve voiced a negative opinion. You will chase money for work that you completed weeks previously, and that which you do receive will be less than you hoped.

It’s hard work, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. It could take you places, and introduce you to people that you’ve only dreamed about. You’ll be writing about the things that you love, and being paid to tell people that they should love them too! Who knows? Perhaps one day it will lead you to editing a publication that has been with you throughout your childhood, giving you the opportunity to shape it in order to teach the youth of that day about the beauty of the entertainment medium that we love!

Please consider continuing your attempts, Christian. From what I’ve seen, you’ve certainly got skill enough that it would be a shame to set it aside.

Vexation

January 19th, 2012 | Posted by Jason Imms in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Dial tone.
Beep boop beep beep boop boop beep boop beep beep.
Ringing.
“Hello, thankyou for calling generic phone support line, your call is very important to us. Please hold for the next 47 years.”

“Hello, this is Heavily Accented David, how may I help you? Also this call is being recorded, but only if you don’t try and reference it in the future to get me into trouble for the fact that I am demonstrably terrible at my job.”
“Hi, I’m having trouble with a thing.”
“We have no reports of outages in your area.”
“I can’t be bothered arguing with you. Put me through to your supervisor.”
“One moment… Please hold for a further six months.”

“Hello, this is Slightly More Lightly Accented Shane. How may I help you?”
“Hi, I’m having trouble with a thing. Your subordinate couldn’t help me.”
“Allow me to look into it… We have no outages reported in your area.”
“Look, I’m very well qualified to tell you that the problem is with your system, not mine. Just put me through to someone that can actually help me, skip all people that are required to speak from a script.”

“Hi, this is Simon and I’m actually from your country. How may I help you?”
“I’m having trouble with a thing DON’T TELL ME THAT THERE ARE NO OUTAGES IN MY AREA.”
“There is an outage in your area, routing you to another exchange. The problem should be resolved.”
“AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.”
“Are you alright sir?”
“I’m fine. That was merely forty seven and a half years of frustration being released. I can’t feel my legs.”
“Would you like me to put you through to the paramedic service?”
“Thank you, I would appreciate that.”
“Hello, your emergency is very important to us. Please hold as we are currently experiencing a high volume of human suffering.”

“Your emergency is still just as important to us as it was before. For priortisation purposes, please rate your discomfort from 1-9 using the keys on your phone.”
“#”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
“Neither to I, lady robot. Neither to I.”
Click.

Shuddersome

January 18th, 2012 | Posted by Jason Imms in Opinion - (3 Comments)

I tend to equate my writing deadlines with various forms of the undead. I know zombies are out of vogue these days but I think it makes sense, even aside from the obvious naming similarity. By way of example, a normal deadline is like a regular ol’ zombie: An object of dread, steadily and inexorably threatening to tear you asunder should you allow it to get too close. On their own they’re not that threatening, but in a group? Terrifying.

Last-minute or short deadlines are similar to the modern fast zombie, a-la 28 Days Later or Left 4 Dead. Same description as the above, but moving at an incredible pace, a more immediate horror. Attempting to complete a writing task under a Fast Zombie Deadline is best described as an incessant scream, undercut with the sound of a keyboard being worked furiously, as though typing is all that is holding the assailant at bay. On an unrelated note, The Typing of the Dead was awesome.

Assignments without a defined deadline are like ghosts. Ghostly deadlines are invisible and easy to forget about, right up until the point that they float up through the floor, shout “BOO” and possess you until you’ve completed their unfinished business.

All deadlines are like vampires in that if you’re not careful they’ll suck your blood, leaving you an empty husk.

Avidity

October 5th, 2011 | Posted by Jason Imms in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I put it to you that Day-1 purchasers are game developers’ most loyal supporters. Why then are they the ones punished by the release of unfinished products? This is especially true in the case of PC users.

Rage Cover Art

An apt name, for some.

Let’s take the RAGE release problems as an example. id Software are traditionally one of the premier PC game developers, and yet here we see PC gamers taking the brunt of the crippling defects. At the least, gamers are experiencing significant texture pop-in and screen tearing. At the worst crashes and hard locks. Gamers that chose to take a look at the Battlefield 3 beta were required to install a set of crazy-ass beta video drivers from their manufacturer of choice, which don’t play nicely with RAGE. In fact, they reportedly have a 100% crash rate. These gamers are subsequently required to roll-back to the latest stable release, then install an entirely new set of crazy-ass beta drivers. This all in order to play a game that they purchased on Day 1, such was the height of their excitement.

I’m not laying the blame at id’s feet, by the way. This situation is just a product of the current state of the gaming industry. Given the level of connectedness that publishers and developers have to consumers, pushing patches out is a relatively simple procedure. Massive defect remediation cycles have died in favour of hitting publisher-set release dates on time, whether the products are finished or not. It wasn’t so long ago that defects left undiscovered once a game goes gold, remained present for the life of the product. Therefore, it behoved developers to find and fix as many defects as they could before release, in order to defend their reputations. That said, perhaps the blame should rest with the gamers themselves? As Bice rightly points out, it is a sad fact that many gamers would rather take a buggy game two months earlier, than wait for the stable release.

Whatever the reason for the state of new release quality today, it is up to consumers to enact change. Raise your voices, change your purchasing habits, and make it clear that you won’t stand for sub-par quality in the very titles that should be standing as examples of gaming at its best for curious observers and dismissive decriers, both.

Transliteration

April 5th, 2011 | Posted by Jason Imms in Opinion - (2 Comments)

Y’know all of those posts and articles about the changes that the English language has undergone since the invention of short message services (Instant Messaging, SMS, Twitter etc)? The ones which start with a phrase along the lines of ‘SMS is changing the way we communicate. Subtlety, nuance and meaning are being pushed aside in the name of brevity and frankly, it scares me.’? Yeah no, this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

I agree that abbreviations and emoticons are changing the way that we communicate. I agree that subtlety, nuance and meaning are rarely considered when it comes to short-form communication. However, I put it to you that these forms of communication are not the place for subtlety. It’s hard to read between the lines when your sentence contains but one line.

In light of this, I present to you my condensed list of emoticons and abbreviations and their appropriate uses. Hopefully this will shed some light on these common phrases and will help you to understand why your doting grandmother is laughing out loud at news of the recent passing of your family pet.

If I’ve missed any, shout out in the comments and I’ll revise the list.

  • lol = Laugh Out Loud
    A misnomer if you ask me. The brazen lie of this abbreviation becomes obvious when working in an office that allows it’s staff to use instant messaging to communicate. Very rarely does “lol” actually mean that the loller is in fact physically laughing out loud, it simply means that they acknowledge that something is funny. (Lots Of Love is the deprecated definition of this abbreviation. Can make things a little awkward: “Sorry to hear about your dead pet lol”)
  • haha/gahaha
    On par with lol.
  • LOL = Laugh Out Loud (no, for reals this time)
    The capitalisation of the acronym should be used to imply the presence of actual laughter.
  • ROFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
    No, generally users of this abbreviation aren’t actually rolling on the floor. This is simply a grade above LOL in the funniness stakes.
  • HAHA/GAHAHA
    On par with ROFL.
  • ROTFLSHMSFOAIDMT =
    Rolling On The Floor Laughing So Hard My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco

    Does this really need an explanation?
  • TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read
    Used to provide a reader with a cliff-notes/short version of the longer body of text. For example, “[Huge wall of text complaining about the weather] TL;DR It was raining today. I didn’t like it.” Also often used in a dismissive fashion to note that a piece of text is too long.
  • brb = Be Right Back
    The user will be afk for a short period of time.
  • afk = Away From Keyboard
    The author will be online, but away from their keyboard until further notice.
  • afaik = As Far As I Know
    As far as the author is aware.
  • :)
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of a smiley face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant to be taken positively.
  • :P
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of the pokey-out-tongue face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant in jest and not to be taken seriously.
  • :(
    A sadface informs the reader that the author is unhappy about the current subject of conversation.
  • >:(
    The author is both sad and angry.
  • >:)
    The author is being cheeky/devious.
  • ಠ_ಠ
    Look of disapproval. The author disapproves of the subject of conversation.
  • (yಠ,ಠ)y
    The Y U NO guy.
  • \m/>.<\m/
    Dude throwin’ up the horns. Rocking out. Rock and/or Roll.
  • ..|.,
    You just got given the finger.
  • *
    Used to repair a mistype in a recent IM message or similar.
    E.g.
    “I like caek. It is yummy.”
    “*cake”

    Obsolescence

    November 29th, 2010 | Posted by Jason Imms in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

    I flip it closed for the last time, the light in its one visible eye slowly fading as the electrons from its time-worn battery slow to a stop. I lay it to rest in an all-too large casket and place it on a yet unlit pyre, a pile of long-expired electronics tiredly but patiently awaiting the possibility of some future application. The shiny new box stands at odds with the dusty tangle of old ribbon PATA cables, stereo-status-unknown headphone extension leads and dirty great orphaned power supplies (which could totally come in handy one day, dammit). The image on the front of the box, fresh in its youth and immeasurable potential belies the age of the time worn handset within. With a hand over my heart, I hurriedly say farewell to my old and faithful phone. It has finally been overtaken by a newer generation, a smarter generation. (more…)