Thoughts from a tree

Archive for November, 2010

nanowrimo – day 10

typed – 2798/27821
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/16667 – MET
personal goal – 2500/25000 – MET

Yesterday I wrote this really good piece, this really AWESOME piece and I was so proud of myself…and then I looked at the wordcount, and it had only fulfilled half of what I needed. And I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to happen next. I sat there for probably thirty minutes, trying to decide what to do. I glanced at other books and movies for ideas. I finally wrote something, but I’m not proud of it; I don’t think its good at all; I’ll probably have to rewrite most of it of later. But I got the wordcount done and, for this, that’s what’s important.

I think the middle of the book is usually the hardest part. Various Nanowrimo emails (they get famous authors to send out pep talks to everyone enrolled in the site) imply that I’m not the only who feels this way. With each story I’ve worked on, I usually have a pretty good idea what’s supposed to happen in the beginning, and what’s supposed to happen in the end, but the middle part is something of a mystery. So now I’m stuck in the middle, we’ll see how it goes from here…

nanowrimo – day 9

typed – 2678/25023 – 50%! Yeehaw~!
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/15000 – MET
personal goal – 2500/22500 – MET

Well, I did it – reached the 50% marker! I’m also now ahead of my “personal goal” by a day, which means I could conceivably finish before my parents get down here on the evening of the 18th. Since they and a combination of other family members (different people different days) will be staying in the area until almost the end of the month, I know that most of my time after that will be occupied with family stuff. I’ve always felt that November was a really bad month for people to try writing so much, with all the time spent with family, plus its getting close to the end of the year, which often means more work work to do (not that that will affect me this year). December would be worse, but October or September seem like they would have been better choices. Maybe enough people can take advantage of the long holiday without family obligations? I don’t know. Thanksgiving is the *only* holiday my husband’s family celebrates and its also always been a big deal in my family (although we don’t celebrate it very traditionally), partly because my brother’s birthday usually falls on the same weekend. It seems like the majority of the people I know would at least go to visit their families, even if they didn’t care that much about celebrating the Indians letting some dumb white people live, to be rewarded later with losing their land and lives (I *loved* the Addam’s Family Values take on it). Visiting usually means either traveling or cleaning the house, lots of time with the family, stress, lack of sleep, and other such things which aren’t very conducive to trying to lock yourself in a room by yourself and write several thousand words (I suspect the majority of Nanowrimo participants are behind rather than ahead by this point). Oh well.

Nanowrimo Impedimentum

Just so you know, this is the kind of obstacles I have to deal with each day:

You're hand is mine!

She’s on top of my papers, right next to the laptop. When I tried to get the papers, she grabbed my hand.

nanowrimo – day 8

typed – 2527/22345
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/13333 – MET
personal goal – 2500/20000 – MET – 40% yay! 🙂

Yesterday was REALLY hard. I had stayed up until 6am the night before, reading a book, then had to do a bunch of other stuff, like take the cat to the vet (just regular shots). I absolutely did not feel like writing, partly because I was so tired, and partly because I was just in a bad mood (no doubt influenced by being tired). Someone had put in an order on Etsy, so I wasted a lot of time going through my tie-dye stuff trying to find what they ordered, re-organizing along the way. Only when I was done did I realize they had not paid for it yet (and still haven’t). I put off writing until around 11:30pm, finished around 2:30, I think. That seems pretty fast actually, but it FELT like a major struggle at the time. By the way, I should note that I don’t count a day as ending until I go to bed, so that’s why the wordcount goes under day 8 instead of day 9; it would get really confusing otherwise since I do a lot of my work late at night, crossing over the line mid-paragraph. I will still count Nanowrimo as ending at midnight though; no cheating for my eccentricities. I was really grateful to Gary last night, since him bugging me is the main reason why I finally did go write; he’s also started reading the story, which makes me happy. I’m hoping to go over the goal tonight just enough to hit the 50% mark; that would feel pretty awesome 🙂

nanowrimo – day 7 & RB3 rant

typed – 2527/19818
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/11667 – MET
personal goal – 2500/17500 – MET

I’ve always been a big supporter of Rock Band and Harmonix. The one time I made it to PAX, I spent almost all of my time waiting in line to play Rock Band over and over again (the other main place I went was the SingStar booth, if you were wondering). After having gone through several iterations of karaoke games (which I loved) and guitar games (which Gary loved), Rock Band seemed like the perfect solution to let both of us (and several friends) play a game we could all enjoy at the same time. I’ve lived with the fact that they are never going to have very many of my favorite songs (since I prefer songs that sound pretty as opposed to those that are just loud and/or have fancy instrumental sections); most of my favorite artists don’t even have a ‘band.’ I have gotten a ton of people hooked on it; I even have a wiki to keep track of which songs each of my friends has bought (so we can try to buy the same ones). To say I’m a ‘loyal fan,’ would be putting it mildly.

However, over the weekend an issue has come up which is making me both mad and disappointed in them. Let me try to summarize the details: Rock Band 3 added keyboards and harmonies, something I was initially very excited about. Apparently, in order to update previously released rock band songs to include these features, they have to reprogram the songs entirely. Any song that has these features is a “RB3 song” and will not be able to be played in RB1, RB2, or Lego. Another thing that RB3 added was the ability to do “pro” instruments; RB3 songs, not counting those on the game disc itself, do not have the pro abilities by default. Everyone wants the old songs to be updated so we can play them with the new features; we expected this to cost *something.* On Friday, they made an announcement (in an attempt to clear up a previous announcement) that seems to indicate this:

– RB3 songs, whether new or old, will cost $2
– If you want RB3 song features for a song you already own, you have to repurchase the song, for $2
– If you want pro features for either a RB3 song or a non-RB3 song (if you already own it and don’t get the upgrade), it will cost $1

This means that for every song I already own, I would end up paying a total of $4 for RB3 features, $5 if I also want pro. I currently own 173 DLC songs (I get to see the number every time I turn the game on); this does not include the songs that were imported from RB1, RB2, LegoRB, or GDRB (although I probably would not care about upgrading all of those). Songs I do not already own would only cost me $2 or $3 (pro). By the way, for anyone who was considering buying songs, this is pretty much a huge red flag that says “DON’T BUY ANY SONGS.” At least, not unless they are already updated to RB3 mode. An additional problem is that for any songs which are re-purchased, you will end up with two copies of that song in your RB library (and two copies taking up space on your drive).

I wrote a couple of posts on the forums about this, but as the thread is currently over 70 pages long, I somehow doubt anyone from Harmonix will ever see them. I don’t know why I bother; I think its the same reason why I continued to offer advice for AOL products long after it was clear that no one was actually interested in making things better. Here is the main one though, re-posted for your possible enjoyment:

I think the main problem comes to down to this: If they are offering the song to new people for $2, then that is how much they consider the track to be worth; taking into account whatever they have to do to upgrade, and any other licensing costs or negotiations. The old songs are worth $2; the new songs are worth $2; so why do I have to pay $4 for the full version, when they’ve already indicated it is only worth $2? Replacing the old songs with the updated versions in the store, and allowing people to re-download them is the most logical option, hands down, especially since it also eliminates the problem of duplicate songs in the library. We know they can do this; it is within the realm of abilities they have already shown us. So why aren’t they?

If it is about money, I think their plan is going to backfire. Consumers who already have the songs are unlikely to pay the extra $2 to upgrade them, unless the songs are their absolute favorites AND they regularly play with someone on keys or harmonies. In addition, both new and old consumers (once they all become aware of this situation) are not going to want to buy ANY of the old DLC, until it is updated, since there is nothing the American public hates more than feeling like they are getting ripped off. On the other hand, having us pay $1 to get pro modes, keys, and harmonies would have been considered reasonable. And if the extra $2 is supposed to cover the additional costs of upgrading the songs, they should simply not offer the songs in an updated version for $2 to people who do not already have the song. Leave the original song at $2, require it for the upgrade, price the upgrade at $1, and have a warning that upgrading/replacing will make that song no longer playable for old versions of the game. In this scenario, consumers will have no reason to feel reluctant to buy old DLC; yes it means that new users will have to pay $3 for an updated song instead of $2, but this is a lot more fair than requiring old users to pay $4 per song upgrade and makes it clear that the additional cost to consumers is to cover the additional cost that harmonix has to expend in order to upgrade the old songs; overall income received from old DLC will be substantially higher than it would be under the current pricing model (as we understand it).

One of the other main problems is that they didn’t warn *anyone.* Not only are people going to be upset over the music that was released immediately prior to RB3 (such as the Bob Marley album), but there are probably quite a few people who had not played Rock Band in some time, but got excited all over again because of RB3 and bought a whole bunch of songs immediately after getting the game. Even those who are buying Rock Band for the first time are going to feel jilted if they buy a bunch of songs right away (likely assuming that they will eventually be able to play keyboard on them; possibly not even realizing at first that they can’t yet, since that is also not obvious to unseasoned players).

One of the reasons people have been willing to spend so much money on DLC in the first place is that they have always had the expectation that once bought, the songs will carry forward in each Rock Band iteration; that the games will get gradually better, and the songs will go forward as well. Not very many people are going to spend $100s on DLC that will only be usable in one game, which will be outdated within a year or two. Forcing people to pay for their songs over again *and* the duplicate library issue it will cause sends a very dangerous precedent. No longer will we be able to assume that the songs we pay for today will still be valid tomorrow.

nanowrimo – day 6

typed – 2506/17291
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/10000 – MET
personal goal – 2500/15000

I didn’t start until 10:30 last night, so I only barely met the goal, but at least I got it done. Tonight will probably be similar, though I should be starting a little sooner (as soon as I finish this).

I had to plug in my electric blanket last night; it was that or turn on the heater. It’s still a lot warmer down here than it is in VA, I’m sure, but I am not very good at producing body heat on my own and get cold really easily (Gary is the opposite). In the morning I did not want to leave the bed, because it meant getting out of my warm cocoon. Possibly due to the colder temperatures, I found myself writing a scene last night involving cold and snow 😉

nanowrimo – day 5

typed – 2889/14785
written (not typed yet) – 0
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/8333 – MET
personal goal – 2500/12500 – MET

One thing I’ve noticed, probably due to my procrastinating heart, is that I seem to take about however long I give myself to do it. For example, Thursday I only had maybe 3 hours, and got it done, then yesterday I had 6 hours, and still just barely wrote the same daily word goal amount. I’m not sure how the weekend will go, since Gary wants me to spend most of my time with him. I’m ahead enough that I could do nothing for two days and probably get away with it, but I don’t think I want to set that precedent.

nanowrimo – day 4

typed – 2582/11896
written (not typed yet) – 0
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/6667 – MET
personal goal – 2500/10000 – MET ~ that’s 20% completed! 🙂

I actually spent most of the day yesterday unpacking the trailer; I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the writing done, but I also felt the need to get other stuff accomplished. Turns out its a good thing I did, because the trailer apparently has a small leak and (since its been raining a lot) was on the verge of ruining some of our books. I got them out in the nick of time; only two seemed a little damp. Because of that, I ended up unpacking everything, instead of just some. Now the only things that are left are two treadmills and a REALLY large cat tree (made by our good friend Jim). Then I had to unpack a lot of the boxes, either because they were wet or because I didn’t want the cats sitting on things marked “fragile.” I have now unpacked *every* fragile box, and the only casualties were two wine glasses (they were in a box marked “very fragile” that was put underneath about ten other heavy boxes at one point – don’t ask), and they are no great loss. I also broke one D & B shot glass while unpacking, mostly because I was being careless. I have quite a lot of very breakable figurines, so I consider it impressive that they all made it through OK. Since I’m thinking about it, here’s some unsolicited advice on packing:

When packing fragile things, use clothes you won’t need right away, extra towels, and those plastic shopping bags that you always forget to put in the recycling bins at the store, rather than paying for bubble wrap, styrofoam, or special wrapping paper. Newspaper can also work, but adds more weight than bags or clothes (which you would have had to pack anyways). For the really fragile, extra special stuff, I packed each one into a small box and then packed those into hard plastic boxes (better than cardboard because they won’t bend in under pressure). Plastic or Rubbermaid boxes are also particularly good if you have an open-bed truck you will be using, since they are waterproof.

The boxes they say are for books are too big for books, unless you’re hiring someone to move them and don’t care if their back gets broken. Try to find smaller boxes if you can (I used a lot of priority mail boxes); the filing boxes that have handles work pretty well also, usually found anywhere that has office supplies, including sam’s. If you can’t, try packing the top half of the box with something lighter, like dvd’s. Most of the “special” boxes moving companies sell are a rip-off, particularly things like garment boxes, unless you have both money and space to burn. One thing that *is* probably worth getting is a mattress cover, if you are moving a bed (keeps it clean). If you don’t have enough friends with spare boxes, you can go to grocery stores or other places and ask them for their empty boxes (grocery stores go through inventory the fastest, so are most likely to have them at any time). Use your older blankets and sheets for wrapping around things like furniture and mirrors. Keep a pile of “soft” stuff (such as clothes or stuffed animals, in plastic bags) out until the last minute, for filling in holes around things, to prevent shifting while traveling.

Pack things in priority order (pack the stuff you need least first) and when you get to the things you can’t go a day, a week, or a month without, label them as such; I used a * for things I wanted right away, followed by 1-4 for things which I would probably want to find quickly, but wouldn’t need immediately. This saves you from having to unpack everything to find that one thing you need later. Don’t limit this to only things you need, but include those you might *want,* like your favorite books, movies, CDs, or games. When packing the moving vehicle, put the priority items in near the front (assuming that the entire vehicle will be getting unpacked at once), so they won’t get buried when unpacking the vehicle. You can get away without prioritizing if its a one-shot move, but if you have to put things in storage and/or move piecemeal (like we did), it will really save your sanity if you can easily tell what boxes are important. Also, It takes most people several months to fully unpack.

There is such a thing as too much help; too many people moving too quickly might not put things where you want (causing you to expend a lot of extra effort later) or might not pay as much attention to your labels (such as “very fragile”). We learned this one the hard way; fortunately it worked out OK, and I did really appreciate that so many people were trying to be helpful, but I think it would have been better with fewer people at that time. I’m a bit OCD about organization, so having things getting moved around too fast was particularly problematic for me.

When unpacking, don’t forget to recycle the cardboard (unless you have room to store it for the next person)!

nanowrimo – day 3

typed – 2651/9314
written (not typed yet) – 0
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/5000 – MET
personal goal – 2500/7500 – MET

nanowrimo – day 2

typed – 2556/6663
written (not typed yet) – 1.5 pages
nanowrimo avg words needed – 1667/3334 – MET
personal goal – 2500/5000 – MET