Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tales from the cubicle

Here we have a very rare work-related post. I rarely talk about work for a couple of reasons (I hate bitching about my job, because everyone does, and since I work in the healthcare industry, all of the specifics of my job are confidential), but I have to talk about this.

I'm a habitual lurker over at SDN, and there was a thread about trying to cancel AOL. Yes, AOL sucks. Yes, it's very difficult to cancel your account, I know. Yes, the reps at AOL are difficult to deal with (especially if you're trying to cancel). It doesn't make them any less of a person, so the things that people were saying they would do and have done, jesus.

First off, I don't have an employee number. So asking for that doesn't do anything. Second, if you ask for my supervisor, that pisses me off. Here's the thing: my supervisor has the same information I do. You don't like my answers? Fine. But you're not going to like my supervisors answers, either. You want to file a complaint? Ok, but chances are the call was recorded. If you have a legitimate complaint, we'll know. But if you're complaining about policy, too fucking bad. It's not our fault you're a dumbass you doesn't want to follow the rules everyone else does.

What should the customer do if he's not getting his way? Should he start yelling at the rep? No. Should he start swearing at the rep? No. Should he threaten the rep and/or the company with legal action? No. I just work here, fuckstick. Yelling and swearing at me just pisses me off. Threatening legal action? For what? You're going to sue us because you were too stupid to pay your premium on time and your account got cancelled? Or because you have a huge bill for service from an outside provider because you didn't read the fucking agreement that said you have to come to our doctors? You're too fucking stupid to do what 6 million other members in the state do, so you'd like to sue. Fantastic. Fuck you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Game Notes

One more thing about Table Tennis: Not only have I not picked it back up since I wrote about it, but I had more fun playing some of the Live Arcade games (Uno and Backgammon) that I purchased for 5 bucks. Suck on that, Rockstar.

I was sort of at a loss for what to play today after I'd satisfied my card/board game playing needs. I had to take Hitman back to the video store, so I couldn't play that. I didn't really feel like playing Splinter Cell because I wasn't in a sneaking mood. So I checked out BestBuy's website to see if they had any games on sale. And whaddya know? They're having some sort of Xbox blowout, buy 2 get one free deal. After referring to the X360 backwards compatibility guide, I decided to get Stubbs the Zombie, Forza Motorsport, and Halo 2. Three awesome games for 50 bucks, you can't beat that. I can't wait til they get here. Forza Motorsport should be a shit-ton of fun online, Halo 2 is of course standard fare for Xbox parties, and Stubbs, I mean, come on. Creating an army of the undead? What could be more fun?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rockstar Presents Table Tennis

When I first heard that Rockstar's next game was going to be Table Tennis, my reaction was along the lines of, "What the fuck?"

Then after it came out, I started to get excited. I thought, well, if they have the balls to release fucking Pong, for chrissakes, I should at least check it out.

So I did. I played it a little last night, and a lot today. The first thing I did was the training. Aced it. Lots of different stuff you can do, and I was doing it like a pro. Let's try a tournament, I said. Which tournament? Rookie, of course, it says it's "Medium" difficulty. Pah! I scoff at Medium difficulty, it's the fucking Rookie tournament, I can own.

No, I got owned. I got fucking shut out before I even realized what was going on. So I retreated back to the Amateur tourney, which is "Easy."

I won that tournament, but I wouldn't call it easy. I thought I had a handle on the character I had chosen, so today I decided to bring him to the Rookie tourney. And I was owned in the face once again In the course of two games, I scored maybe 3 points.

Well, shit. Ok, let's try a different character and try to hone my skills in "Easy" mode. So that's what I did, but I hit a brick wall at the Amateur champion. I must have called for a rematch 5 times. I still couldn't win. Hell, I couldn't even get close. I never won a game, let alone the match.

So yeah, Table Tennis. Maybe I'm just bad at it (doubtful. I've been a console gamer since I was 5. I grew up on "Nintendo-hard" games. Nintendo-hard I can handle, but poor control I can't. As an example, there were a number of points I missed because my Pong-er either didn't move, or didn't swing when I told them to.), or maybe Rockstar should stick to what they're good at.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Names are for friends, so I don't need one

I finished the storyline in Hitman: Blood Money a couple of nights ago. I'm not quite done with the game; there's a few more achievements I want to do. After that, it can go back to the video store.

Not that it's a bad game, in fact, it's quite awesome. It's just short, and by the time I get those achievements done, the replay value will have been all used up. And there's the biggest problem with charging 60 bucks for a new game. Very few are worth it, because even the awesome ones like Hitman are only worth a rental. If I see it later on for 20 bucks, I'll pick it up, but there's no way it's worth 60.

I don't think $60 games will become the norm, anyway. PC games are still 50, and a lot of the X360 games are PC ports. If Microsoft doesn't lower the price of the console this holiday season (and given the huge delta between the X360 and the PS3, there's really no reason to), I think they'll at least cut the prices of the games back down to $50. Here's hoping.

I, Robot

I decided to put I, Robot, in my queue after learning Alan Tudyk did the voice of Sonny. Yes, even after my initial, vitriolic attitude towards the movie. I gave it a chance purely because of Alan Tudyk.

I'm less disappointed than I thought I'd be. It's clearly a Hollywood movie, with tons of CGI, Will Smith, and crazy, wacky, camera shots that made me sick. Seriously, spinning the camera up, down, and around like we're on a roller coaster or some sort of g-force machine? Christ.

But it wasn't bad. It wasn't that good, but it was a fun time. As I said before, the film wasn't an adaptation of any of the stories in the book, but rather, "suggested" by what Isaac Asimov wrote. Would the movie have been better had it been an adaptation? Perhaps. Or perhaps it would have been a huge, steaming pile of shit. As it is, I, Robot is neither good or bad, but just ok.

Police State, here we come

This time, I'm going to link to an article from a news site that (hopefully) doesn't flush its archives after a week.

It seems that the new and improved SCOTUS (that's Supreme Court of the United States for you political noobs) has gone against precedent, and weakened the protections in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures. The case centers on some asshole who, when the cops entered his home (with a legal search warrant and after knocking and announcing themselves), was surrounded with 23 bags of coke. The local judge threw out the evidence citing the police had not given the suspect ample time between announcing themselves and entering, the state Supreme Court disagreed, and the asshole appealed to the SCOTUS, who decided the "knock and announce" rule is unnecessary.

Here's the problem, though. This case is an extreme. Obviously, the evidence shouldn't have been thrown out. The judge who made the decision is an idiot, maybe he should have his license taken away or whatever. But weakening the Constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights? How is that a solution?

Justice Scalia wrote in his majority vote some bullshit about how people like this asshole still have the option of suing the city and the local police for violating his rights, and how internal police discipline and regulations will act as checks against "overly aggressive and reckless" behavior. My ass, it will. All I see is one less roadblock to cops busting down our doors whenever the hell they please and taking or doing whatever the hell they feel like. Last I checked, it isn't fucking 1984.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Movies, Movies, the magical fruit, the more you...wait

So I've got some more critiques of the celluloid medium here. First up, one I saw at the theatre this weekend.

Cars, rated G, featuring the voices of Owen Wilson and Paul Newman, among others. It's a Pixar flick, so I had to see it. And while I'm not disappointed I saw it, I'm left feeling a little flat. It seems like the other Pixar flicks were a lot funnier, or at least had better stories. They moved quicker, too. Any movie that runs almost 2 hours needs to be able to justify a running time like that, and I don't think Cars does. It dragged in more than a few places. That's not to say it was all bad, of course. The visuals were stunning. If not for the cartoony automobiles, you could easily get lost in the scenery. The comedy, while sparse, was good. With any animated film, you have to strike a balance between what's funny for the kids, and what's funny for the adults, and I thought Cars did a good job of that. I recommend seeing it in the theatre, but I'm not sure about adding it to your collection when it comes to DVD.

Superman: The Movie, rated PG, starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, and Margot Kidder. What a great movie. Cheesy, yes, but aren't all superhero movies? Great performance from Christopher Reeve as both Clark Kent and Superman. I mean, Reeve is Superman, and the new kid in Superman Returns is going to have do one hell of a job to convince me otherwise.

Superman II, rated PG, starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, and Terence Stamp. "Come to me, son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod!" It had been so long since I'd seen either of these movies (I can't rightly remember if I'd ever seen II, actually), it was a pleasure to see them again, as if for the first time. Now I'm ready to see Superman Returns. There's some nonsense floating around the internet that there were two other Superman movies, but you know how the internet is.

Glory Road, rated PG, starring Josh Lucas (who the hell is Josh Lucas?). Shows you how familiar I am with "feel-good" movies, I was certain Texas Western was going to lose the championship game to Kentucky, and Coach Haskins would tell his players, "You played your best, we'll get em next time!" Whoops. Still, an interesting true story, and a reminder of how far we've come in 40 years, and how far we still have to go.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More Movies? Surely you jest!

Ah-ha, but I am completely serious! It's time for another round of quick-shot movie reviews.

Date Movie, unrated edition, starring Alyson Hannigan and some guy. Why, oh why, did I rent this? Oh yeah, because it had Alyson Hannigan in it. She was the best thing about the movie, and I was sorely tempted to turn it off after 15 minutes. I stuck with it, but what a stinker. Two thumbs down, bitch!

War of the Worlds (2005 edition), rated PG-13, starring Tom Cruise. Enjoyable. I'd still like to see the 1953 version, though, because I have a sneaking suspicion that one's better.

Back to the Future Trilogy, rated PG, starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Think, McFly! This is an awesome set of flicks that I've seen countless times. I had a lot of trouble following the timelines when I watched them as a kid, but now I can enjoy the story to its fullest, and also catch the pop culture references. Come on, Marty dressing like the man with no name in A Fistful of Dollars in BttF3? Great stuff.

Phishing: It's not just for rednecks anymore!

But it is for filthy scum-sucking asshole monkey rapists.

For those who don't know what phishing is, it's a form of fraud that involves sending e-mails that seem legitimate, but are actually scams that harvest personal information, usually leading to identity theft.

Most of these dickheads who do this shit can't even do it properly. The con-men who swindle little old ladies out of their life savings know what the hell they're doing. It's their job, they take pride in it. It doesn't make it right, but at least they're putting forth an effort.

As an example, I just got a phishing e-mail, supposedly from Amazon, requesting that I update my account records. I can honestly say that no company, in the history of companies, has ever asked me to update my account records unless I contacted them first. Regardless, that wasn't the first thing that tipped me off. The e-mail was in HTML, but it was in broken HTML. It's not that my e-mail client is incapable of reading HTML, no, the tags were fucked up, which caused the whole thing to display as text. I sincerely doubt that Amazon would fuck up the HTML tags in an official message. Nice going, assholes.

I decided to read it anyway, just to see what else they fucked up. There was a grammatical error that most people wouldn't notice, and at the end, the signature was "Amazon Security Departament." I guess they're Italian. Since the HTML was broken, I could also clearly see that the link to click on to "update your account" was actually a redirect, of course. Finally, it was sent to my address. My Amazon account, however, is linked to my address. Amazon doesn't know I have a tensidedrpg address, so they sure as hell wouldn't be sending me a request to update my account records at it.

Phish this, phuckers.