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Off for a few

Just a quick note: I’ll be away from the blog for a couple of days to deal with some family stuff. Should be back and posting on Monday.

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occasional reader
occasional reader
1 month ago

Take care !

Ninja Socialist
Ninja Socialist
1 month ago

David, I hope all is well for you and your family and that everyone is okay. We will miss you and look forward to hearing from you on your return. Take care of yourself.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

Look after yourself David. We’ll all miss you, but don’t rush back on our account. Your family matters are the priority, and also you deserve some you time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alan Robertshaw
opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
1 month ago

Hope things are OK with you and your family, David – lots of well-wishes. ♥❤

gijoel
gijoel
1 month ago

Take care Dave. I hope everything works out for the best.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

I’m sure we can amuse ourselves and each other while you’re doing something more important.

psst, everyone… food fight!

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

In keeping with the season: you get a pumpkin and you get a pumpkin and YOU get a pumpkin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cILZ_cB3_so

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10qjrd_ziG8

Last edited 1 month ago by Full Metal Ox
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
1 month ago

Hope all goes well with your family stuff. Don’t worry about us. We’re having a food fight.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

We’re not fighting the wolf though, he can keep his punkin.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago

Seems like everyone is “off for a few” …

I suppose I could try to jumpstart things.

First, there’s a share circulating on Facebook using films like Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Mulan contrasted with “classic” hero’s journey stories (including Star Wars) to support the interesting contention that a subset of stories are empowerment fantasies, and that men’s empowerment fantasies (and thus some stories aimed at a male audience) tend to be “get good, then get even with whoever wronged you” or just “rise to the top of your profession” (e.g. “Empire kills Luke’s adoptive family, so Luke gets good and blows up their most expensive piece of military hardware, and later overthrows the entire regime”) whereas women’s empowerment fantasies tend to be “get taken seriously; get some actual acknowledgement of skills already earned or developed”.

I figured that might interest the readership here.

And now, I need to vent.

What the fuck is wrong with mobile game developers?

  1. You often have some sort of “inbox” or other messaging component, and/or a notification area. So there is no need to throw popups in my face on every startup! Just put an unread message in the message area for me to check out. I’ll get to it sooner or later. And do it once for each thing you’re announcing.
  2. Watch-an-ad-for-some-extra-goodies would benefit from a bit more variety, instead of the same 3 ads repeated over and over. (Television advertisers should also take note.)
  3. Speaking of ads-for-goodies: Stop playing various games with the countdown timers before the reward has been earned. I’ve lost track of the number of ads that don’t provide an exit button immediately when the countdown hits zero, or that start a countdown at “5” but wait two seconds rather than one to drop it to 4, or that even have two separate countdowns, the second starting after the first ends. Be honest and transparent. Just make the countdown start at however long one must actually wait and let the user exit without losing their reward the moment it has hit zero. So if your video is actually six seconds long, don’t start at “5” but take two seconds to get to “4” and then one for each remaining digit; simply start at “6” and count down normally. Etc.
  4. Ads should provide some way to exit (tap the countdown or use the device “back” button) that works reliably no matter what, with of course no reward if exited early, and an are-you-sure warning in that case. Some do that now but some don’t, making it impossible to abort short of exiting the entire app. Some apps even fight attempts to exit them if an ad was playing at the time — hitting the triple-bar task manager button on Android, for example, shrinks the app only for it to expand itself again before the user can swipe it away or hit “close all”. That is exceptionally bad behavior (and Google should redesign the task manager to make it impossible). The user should be able to exit any app on their device, at any time, quickly and easily. You don’t know what their reasons might be, including whether it might be an emergency.
  5. Ads should respect the volume setting. If I use the hardware volume-down button to make a game quieter, everything should be quieter, including embedded ads. It might be late and there might be people sleeping nearby whom I do not wish to disturb, etc.
  6. Provide some easy way to back up or cloud-sync game progress, for games that have a notion of game progress. And don’t tie it to specific third party service providers, except the OS vendor. So, no requiring people get a Facebook account to save, for example, but having the Android version use Google Play Games sync is OK.
  7. Make that sync thing work correctly! In particular any cloud save should ratchet in only one direction, toward increased progress. It should never be possible to save over it with an old lower progress save from another device, or worse an empty one from a reinstallation. Provide an explicit, are-you-sure-guarded way to reset progress or a way to create multiple saves and switch among them.
  8. Anything purchaseable in-game with real-world currency should also be purchaseable in-game with the in-game “premium” currency (the one that’s relatively slow or hard to get, except by buying it). Exception for purely cosmetic things, like an “I financially supported the developers!” in-game T-shirt or what-have-you. (Which may vary in effective meaning from “I helped an indie developer stay afloat” to “I’m a sucker who gave the gazillionaires who own Zynga even more money”, depending…)
  9. Test, test, TEST! your “events” and other new stuff before releasing them widely. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a game’s support board light up with 36,284,103 new posts in a six-hour period because some rushed-out new feature broke something major and they took it live before a planet-sized audience without making sure whether it actually worked first. The resulting complaints ranging from getting stuck on an early level of some new content, to crashes and freezes, to half the world not even being able to launch the game at all, to lost progress.
  10. TEST!

OK, end of rant.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago

Edit’s not working for some reason. It lets me edit, but it doesn’t let me save any more!

David — please delete the first version of this comment (leave this version) and please look into this malfunction in the edit function. It’s never done this before.

Seems like everyone is “off for a few” …

I suppose I could try to jumpstart things.

First, there’s a share circulating on Facebook using films like Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Mulan contrasted with “classic” hero’s journey stories (including Star Wars) to support the interesting contention that a subset of stories are empowerment fantasies, and that men’s empowerment fantasies (and thus some stories aimed at a male audience) tend to be “get good, then get even with whoever wronged you” or just “rise to the top of your profession” (e.g. “Empire kills Luke’s adoptive family, so Luke gets good and blows up their most expensive piece of military hardware, and later overthrows the entire regime”) whereas women’s empowerment fantasies tend to be “get taken seriously; get some actual acknowledgement of skills already earned or developed”.

I figured that might interest the readership here.

And now, I need to vent.

What the fuck is wrong with mobile game developers?

  1. You often have some sort of “inbox” or other messaging component, and/or a notification area. So there is no need to throw popups in my face on every startup! Just put an unread message in the message area for me to check out. I’ll get to it sooner or later. And do it once for each thing you’re announcing.
  2. Watch-an-ad-for-some-extra-goodies would benefit from a bit more variety, instead of the same 3 ads repeated over and over. (Television advertisers should also take note.)
  3. Speaking of ads-for-goodies: Stop playing various games with the countdown timers before the reward has been earned. I’ve lost track of the number of ads that don’t provide an exit button immediately when the countdown hits zero, or that start a countdown at “5” but wait two seconds rather than one to drop it to 4, or that even have two separate countdowns, the second starting after the first ends. Be honest and transparent. Just make the countdown start at however long one must actually wait and let the user exit without losing their reward the moment it has hit zero. So if your video is actually six seconds long, don’t start at “5” but take two seconds to get to “4” and then one for each remaining digit; simply start at “6” and count down normally. Etc.
  4. Oh, and don’t pause the countdown if the video gets stuck buffering or similarly. If the countdown starts at 30 that means I get my reward after 30 seconds — that’s your promise. If your servers are too slow to serve the entire length of your video in the time you allotted yourself, then that is your problem. It is not fair to make it mine as well. Same if they are too stupid to be able to scale the resolution to the available bandwidth, as Youtube and most other major video platforms do, or to the device’s resolution. It’s pointless serving a fat, 4k version to a device with only a 1080p (or less) display, etc.
  5. Ads should provide some way to exit (tap the countdown or use the device “back” button) that works reliably no matter what, with of course no reward if exited early, and an are-you-sure warning in that case. Some do that now but some don’t, making it impossible to abort short of exiting the entire app. Some apps even fight attempts to exit them if an ad was playing at the time — hitting the triple-bar task manager button on Android, for example, shrinks the app only for it to expand itself again before the user can swipe it away or hit “close all”. That is exceptionally bad behavior (and Google should redesign the Android task manager to make it impossible). The user should be able to exit any app on their device, at any time, quickly and easily. You don’t know what their reasons might be, including whether it might be an emergency.
  6. Apps embedding ads should provide their own override to cancel an ad (with no reward) and return to regular gameplay, to provide the user an out short of a full exit-and-restart in the event an ad freezes or otherwise won’t exit “from inside”.
  7. Ads should respect the volume setting. If I use the hardware volume-down button to make a game quieter, everything should be quieter, including embedded ads. It might be late and there might be people sleeping nearby whom I do not wish to disturb, etc. And don’t omit a mute button, or remove it after a bit less than the time it takes the user to decide if the ad is one they’ve seen before or not! This applies to other things, including device features, as well. I recall one night the government of Ontario decided to spam me with a bunch of “amber alert” messages at 3:00 in the morning. The phone bleeped as loud as a fire alarm, even when it had been set to a low volume or even to vibrate. I ended up having to shut it off entirely for the rest of that night to stop it waking me every 10 minutes or so with “alert” messages I had no ability, or desire, to act on. Perhaps such behavior is warranted for something like a tornado warning, narrowly targeted to only devices actually physically within the warned area, because that’s as big a safety issue as a fire would be, but no such argument applied in this case. Not only was nobody going to get up at 3 am and search their neighborhood on the off chance that someone who went missing 400 miles away might have chanced to arrive nearby, but everybody was going to do exactly what I did, and if you then had occasion to issue, say, a tornado warning on that same night, nobody would have gotten it and the twister would have caused massive casualties. A more useful protocol for such an alert would be to have devices present it only if the device’s gyros indicate that it’s in motion; so, the owner is up and active and has the device on them, so is most likely out in public with it in a pocket or purse rather than at home with it resting on a table. It’s people who are out in public who might actually spot the missing person. Oh, and include an actual photo. A purely text message is not very helpful at all for recognizing a person! Ten thousand Ontarians likely matched the description you gave.
  8. Provide some easy way to back up or cloud-sync game progress, for games that have a notion of game progress. And don’t tie it to specific third party service providers, except the OS vendor. So, no requiring people get a Facebook account to save, for example, but having the Android version use Google Play Games sync is OK.
  9. Make that sync thing work correctly! In particular any cloud save should ratchet in only one direction, toward increased progress. It should never be possible to save over it with an old lower progress save from another device, or worse an empty one from a reinstallation. Provide an explicit, are-you-sure-guarded way to reset progress or a way to create multiple saves and switch among them.
  10. Anything purchaseable in-game with real-world currency should also be purchaseable in-game with the in-game “premium” currency (the one that’s relatively slow or hard to get, except by buying it). Exception for purely cosmetic things, like an “I financially supported the developers!” in-game T-shirt or what-have-you. (Which may vary in effective meaning from “I helped an indie developer stay afloat” to “I’m a sucker who gave the gazillionaires who own Zynga even more money”, depending…)
  11. Test, test, TEST! your “events” and other new stuff before releasing them widely. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a game’s support board light up with 36,284,103 new posts in a six-hour period because some rushed-out new feature broke something major and they took it live before a planet-sized audience without making sure whether it actually worked first. The resulting complaints ranging from getting stuck on an early level of some new content, to crashes and freezes, to half the world not even being able to launch the game at all, to lost progress.
  12. TEST!

OK, end of rant.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

As this is sort of an open thread, may I put out an announcement/advert?

There’s someone doing a dissertation on meat eating and masculinity. We’ve had a really lovely chat; but I thought it might be even more helpful if she spoke to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

So if anyone here would like to be interviewed on the topic, let me know and I can put you in touch.

(We’ve mentioned about all the soyboy stuff etc; but people on here know a lot more about all the masculinity stuff than I do.)

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
1 month ago

(Sets up assorted foods and drinks and appropriate clothing for the toga party to begin after the food fight is over.)

Dumb question: I went through a small stack of my clothes yesterday, and now have a box of too-smalls to get rid of. And I want to give them to someone other than Goodwill this time around. (Nothing against Goodwill; just want to give to someone different is all.)

Is it likely a homeless shelter would want some decent clothes to give to their occupants? With the exception of two items that are dry-clean only, everything can be tossed into a washer as needed relatively cheap. Or should I find another local charity to give my clothes to?

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

I actually went to a toga party.

It was during a freeze, though, so it quickly became a toga and parka party, even indoors.

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Surplus to Requirements:

…men’s empowerment fantasies (and thus some stories aimed at a male audience) tend to be “get good, then get even with whoever wronged you” or just “rise to the top of your profession” (e.g. “Empire kills Luke’s adoptive family, so Luke gets good and blows up their most expensive piece of military hardware, and later overthrows the entire regime”) whereas women’s empowerment fantasies tend to be “get taken seriously; get some actual acknowledgement of skills already earned or developed”.

See the original Ghostbusters versus Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
LollyPop
LollyPop
1 month ago

@ Surplus

I tried some free phone games recently (not much of a gamer) in a fit of nostalgia for stuff like Bust A Move. I was annoyed and fed up for many of the reasons you describe and deleted all of them.

In open-thread fashion, I finished a load of ceramic creatures recently which were a bit of a labour of love. Here’s a reel I made of them for anyone interested!

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CVKVtI2Dwdf/

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ lollypop

They’re really cool! I like your heffalumps. Have you done any piggies?

LollyPop
LollyPop
1 month ago

@ alan

Thank you! 😀 No I’ve not done any piggies yet, but that would be really cute! Definitely putting them on the to-make list.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
1 month ago

OT for crafting brag.

I finished off a Baby Yoda hat yesterday, and hope to finish the first of the matching booties today.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago

Wish I could do a crafting brag here but it would probably out my meatspace identity if I did so, and that’s probably a really bad idea.

So I’ll just have to vent some more at mobile developers instead — this time also the OS vendors, and even desktop OS vendors too and some webshite operators. The major bugbear here is notifications.

  1. But first, one more bit of yelling at mobile advertisers: stop auto-opening a browser, a Google Play install window, or some other such popup spam at the end of your pitch! If I’m interested (and I’m probably not) I’ll tap the link at the end of the ad to bring up such a thing, or just remember it and search it in the Play Store later. If I’m not interested, getting in my face with extra thingies to close certainly isn’t going to change my mind. And making the “X” appear in a different corner from the countdown also doesn’t accomplish anything worthwhile …
  2. Notifications should be readable. I’ve had notifications on Android that could not be read, due to long lines, without first opening an app that forced landscape orientation (whether I actually wanted to use such an app next or not) and then re-displaying the notifications dropdown, so that the lines would fit on the screen! Long lines should wrap, and there should be a way to expand notifications in-place if need be to see everything.
  3. Notifications should be reliable. I’ve lost count of the times when one or another game with a gradually-refilling “energy” or similarly would not reliably produce a notification when it was full.
  4. Notifications should absolutely, indubitably, not move while the drop-down is open! Seeing a notification and trying to swipe it away only to have it suddenly move at the same time and a different notification get removed instead, often one I haven’t had the chance to even read yet, has happened multiple times and should have happened zero times. Append newly-arriving notifications to the bottom if the list is open when they arrive! You can re-sort them into reverse chronological order if the user closes and reopens the list, but moving existing ones down while the list is being displayed causes nothing but trouble.
  5. There should be a way to view all recent notifications, to allow recovery from swiping away the wrong notification. Say, everything from the last 24 hours.
  6. Notifications should not lead to 404 errors or “you’re not in the audience for this”. Facebook, I’m looking at you.
  7. I’ve had notifications on Android get “stuck” half-swiped-off and been unable to get rid of them post-having-read-them on a few occasions. They eventually go away on their own, after hours or a day or so, but meanwhile they’re stuck there nagging you.
  8. Get rid of frivolous notifications that auto-delete. Android weather apps and such that generate an “updating…” notification for 2 seconds and then rescind it, for example. Go ahead and notify me of the actual weather, and especially any warnings, but I really don’t need to know every time you’re contacting the server for new data. You’re supposed to just do that quietly, in the background.
  9. A constant barrage of notifications becomes stressful. It would be nice to be able to be caught up for a while. I think the whole notifications thing needs to be rethought, a bit. In particular, I think we need a three-tier “in tray” rather than just one: “elevated” notifications, which generate an alert and contribute to the little red 5 or whatever telling you how many unread notifications you have; unread-but-not-elevated notifications, which are available via the usual drop-down but do not generate a sound or contribute to that number; and already-read notifications, where swiped-away notifications live on for another 24 hours or so in case you want to go back and review one, or swiped one away inadvertently. Notifications would mostly be created unread-but-not-elevated, except for ones representing potential emergency conditions (weather warnings, low device battery, and such) or synchronous things (arriving phone calls and real-time chat messages, approaching calendar appointments or other timed reminders, etc.). Those would arrive elevated. The unread, unelevated notifications from a particular source (app, Facebook user or group, etc.), if any, would become elevated once some time had elapsed since you’d last interacted with one from that source. So, if you caught up on notifications from a particular source, most of the time you wouldn’t be doing something else for just 2 minutes and then BLEEP! Here’s another notification from that same source. Of course, there should be a mechanism for a user to specify that particular notifications from a particular source be auto-elevated immediately, i.e. that they are priority ones. A favorite game’s energy being full, say, or an asynchronous message (email, text) from a particular contact you have been eager to hear from.
  10. DO NOT USE NOTIFICATIONS TO SPAM PEOPLE WITH ADVERTISEMENTS!! Lenovo, I’m looking at you this time. *grumble grumble*
Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
1 month ago

David, I hope all is ok. Take your time, don’t worry about us.

*ducks under the table to avoid flying food, then stands up and randomly throws food at whoever is nearby.

We’re doing just fine!

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago
moregeekthan
moregeekthan
1 month ago

Hope you are doing well, David. I only skimmed this Salon article, but saw you were quoted:
https://www.salon.com/2021/10/26/cawthorn-raising-more-boys-to-be-monsters/

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago

Men are largely responsible for war.

War is largely responsible for men.

That is to say, if there had never been such a thing as war, there would be no men. Also no women, just people, but people who comported themselves much more like women than like men.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
1 month ago

Guess whose resume has been sent for review by the team lead for a job at 3M?

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ Vicky P

Ooh, from the context I’m going to guess yours!

Keeping everything crossed for you! I’m sure they’ll be knocked out by your CV anyway.

(Because it’s good; not because it’s tied round a brick or anything. LinkedIn said that was too pro-active.)

ETA: 3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Minerals. I’m sure you know that; but I really liked that when I found out.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alan Robertshaw
Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
1 month ago

Could the erosion of democracy in various parts of the world be because men don’t want to do the dishes?

https://www.salon.com/2019/09/10/whats-destroying-democracy-around-the-world-at-least-in-part-misogyny-and-sexism/

Thought-provoking. I’ll note also that the Weimar Republic significantly liberated women compared to the Kaiser’s regime, and that the fiercely misogynistic Freikorps arose immediately and were the precursors to the brownshirts of Nazism. They had a worldview in which women came in two types: the feared, liberated “red” women and chaste, demure, and subservient “white” women:

https://timeline.com/male-fantasies-fascism-study-efe0a2773d1f

Liberated women seem to have prompted violent reactionary movements earlier in history as well. Witch hunts being among the more notorious, often targeting widows who had come to own property in the only way that women could come to own property in those times, as well as women reputed for being sexually liberated.

Last edited 1 month ago by Surplus to Requirements
Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
1 month ago

@Alan

Yes, it is! If it works out, it’ll be almost like coming home – part of my old company was sold to 3M back in 2019, and I was one of the people who got downsized later that year. A number of my old co-workers either were in the part that got sold to 3M or found jobs there later, and the ones I liked working with before are still there. I’d love to see them again.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

@Vicky P: Fingers crossed! Not now, since I can’t type that way.

@Surplus: Misogyny seems to be at the root of so many terrible things.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

Interesting bit of tension between colonialism and abortion rights.

The government here have said that, if the Northern Ireland government at Stormont don’t pull their finger out and start providing proper abortion services, the UK will override them and deal directly with health trusts over there so make sure they do.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/27/northern-ireland-office-may-directly-instruct-trusts-to-offer-abortion-services

KindaSortaHarmless
KindaSortaHarmless
1 month ago

Take care, David. There’ll be plenty of weirdos for you when you get back.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@kindasortaharmless

There’ll be plenty of weirdos for you when you get back.

Indeed, it’s not like we’re going anywhere!

!
Weirdos are the reason we’re here. I mean, what must the other fish have thought of the first fish that decided to check out dry land?