Needs

August 22nd, 2019 by harold

"Well you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man.
Take a look at my cousin, he’s broke, don’t do shit."
– Lawrence

I think about Mark Zuckerberg. He’s a billionaire. Most people don’t like him. Most people who would say they do only think about what kind of checks he can write them.

He can’t trust no one. Absolutely no one.

He can’t be in public anymore, ever again. What he can do to relax is sit in his living room, fixing some furniture for his family.

Yes, he can travel anywhere in the world. To sit somewhere, not doing anything, maybe just read.

My favorite homeless couple just sits there reading books and listening to music too.

You don’t need to be that wealthy to feel fine. And it’s so bizarre and liberating to think about that.

Dan Nocera

August 22nd, 2019 by harold

I watched his talk years ago. I was so impressed by the elegance of his team’s solution to sustainable energy. He’s also hilarious.

Then he disappeared. Or I couldn’t remember his name and look at what he was doing. EITHER WAY.

I found his ass again. His motto, basically:

Solar energy has the potential to scale up to meet long-term energy demands. He emphasizes that scientists must consider the economics of the materials they propose to use for energy sources and for storage technologies, if they are to develop viable energy alternatives.

So I was thinking, “Dan’s got it. We will reach complete sustainable energy autonomy at some point!!”

And then, he showed up with something amazing, the Artificial Leaf:

Like conventional photovoltaics, the artificial leaf used common semiconducting materials (in this case, amorphous silicon) to absorb sunlight and emit electrons. But then it went one step further. When dipped into a beaker of water, instead of producing electricity, the leaf harnessed the electrons to break the chemical bonds of water and release hydrogen gas — a fuel that can store energy at a significantly higher density and lower cost than electricity.

In 2009, Nocera formed Sun Catalytix, a startup to develop a prototype design for a system to convert sunlight into storable hydrogen which could be used to produce electricity.

And I’m like “fuck yeah it’s on!” But then it is not on:

However, in May 2012, Sun Catalytix stated that it would not be scaling up the prototype.

Fffffffuuuuuuu but then:

In hopes of developing a product that could be more rapidly brought to market, Sun Catalytix refocused its business model on developing a low-cost rechargeable flow battery for use in grid-scale and commercial-scale storage.

Me: this is it! It’s happening! Nocera’s company:

In 2014, Sun Catalytix was acquired by Lockheed Martin, because it was interested in using the flow battery.

Daaaaaamn Dan, can we, citizen peasants have access to tech that changes the world? Not emojis or photo filters, actual, real shit that saves the earth and us with it? Lockheed Martin is 30mn away in Burbank, Imma go knock at the door. “hi, I’m here for the batteries and fuel cells?”

Jokes aside, this technology is one of the holy grail of a sustainable future and it just got bought by a private, defense-focused company… Mr. Nocera, I really hope you bring this to production and to the world. We need your stuff.

Self-hosted

August 20th, 2019 by harold

Has been the keyword again. I’ve been working on getting everything on my lil server. Photos, some of my music (bandcamp is still the shit). Pondering on re-starting the rss/feed/podcast of sound experiments.

It’s still a lot of tech bullshit to go through but I’m making progress.

What’s nice is the feeling that I won’t have to worry for a while. Peace of mind. No social media has enough of me to own me.

Freedom and control. Those are sweet.

Wait for me Grandma

August 19th, 2019 by harold

I’m scared I’m not going to be able to see my grandmother again.

Last time I saw her five years ago, she was overweight. My sister told me she’s like Skeletor now.

She’s okay, bored. My dad tells me that she still asks about me, “the American”.

I’m stressed I won’t make it back to France to hold her against me a little bit more. I’m mad because I didn’t think it would be that hard to afford (time and money) to fly back real quick to say hi.

I missed my foster dad’s last days. I missed my grandpa’s funeral. If I miss both for her because I did everything right (not only according to me, but to everyone around) and worked harder than ever, I’m going to lose my shit.

On guns and games

August 19th, 2019 by harold

Okay, I read most articles on guns and games in the past weeks. None satisfied me.

I did a little research. I’m part of the first generation that grew up with those games that have become incredibly popular: first-person shooters. Wolfenstein3D at twelve, blablabla. Something has changed through the years.

1990-1999: 190 first-person shooter games came out. The technology used is just born and is very limited. Games are cartoon-looking.

2000-2009: 314 first-person shooter games came out. The technology is improving every nine months. Games are janky-looking.

2010-2019: 160 first-person shooter games came out. The technology is extremely mature and complex. Fewer games come out because development costs are now extraordinary. Games are very good looking.

The number of mass shootings increased in the 2010s. Between 1982 and 2002 (twenty years), there was over 10+ fatalities three times. Between 2002 and now (seventeen years), nine times. Including some horrible numbers (2017: 117 killed).

Just correlation, of course (it correlates with 2004 assault rifle ban going away as well). But it’s interesting to me to see the snowballing happen.

I wish I could see the total number of players playing FPS from 1990 to now. Because it went from a few thousands in the 90s, potentially a few hundred thousands, to hundreds of millions.

One or two orders of magnitude more people shooting people in games, which are more and more realistic –to the point of being used as background pictures in the news, don’t forget– is not a trivial thing. Simply by the numbers involved, coupled with other facts (like parents checking out on parenting), gun normalization through games has to distort pre-teen and teenagers’ perception of violence. We try not to disclose the pictures and names of shooters to not influence potential souls. We can’t then say that the constant display and normalization of violence and firearms use in FPS –hundreds, thousands of hours- doesn’t affect young people.

We can’t have it both ways.

So it’s worth pondering on what we’re doing as game developers. Especially when reports, if you read them, are basically saying, “we’re not sure; there’s definitely a connection between violent games and aggressive cognition but no *direct* link between playing violent games and killing people and also all that research is super new, give us more time”.

Meanwhile we know that online multiplayer communities are formed around those games. Sometimes around those virtual, real weapons. It’s not about a direct link. It’s about the climate we’re complicit of setting up, at very large scales.

But games don’t make people violent, it’s been demonstrated. I am myself, fine.

Like I said, It’s not about that or about you. It’s about how much our environment fuels violence and to the question “is video game culture participating into making violence and brutality something normal and easy?”  the answer, with first-person shooters is pretty clearly, yes, it does.

But it’s just the same as rock n roll and comics.

There’s a huge difference between listening to extremely angry dudes brutalizing their musical instruments, and participating into a raid in HD on a big TV where you actively press a trigger and see bodies fall as a result, hear screams, with weapons coded and designed as close as possible to the real deal, to the point of having weapon manufacturers consult with game companies.

I mean the US army uses FPS to recruit and keep their troops in “soldier mode” ffs.

If you tell me that it’s the same as rock n roll back in 1950, you need some rest. It is very different.

But it’s the guns that kill people.

Thank you for reminding me of this, I had forgotten. So yes, guns kill. And guns exist. They’re usually made of very durable material and can be operational for decades. There’s like four gazillion of them in the US. Unless the government takes the initiative of confiscating all weapons to go to Hawaii to dump them in a volcano, we can’t change that. What we can change is pushing people not to use them against other people. What we can certainly shift is the culture. What we can do is seriously reduce normalizing shooting people. As game developers, considering the trends,  I think we have some room to do something.

But plenty of games are non-violent!

I know that. Farming Simulator and Stardew Valley for instance are about growing stuff and are selling very well, making their developers really happy. But in terms of popularity, shooters dwarf the fuck out of those and y’all know this. Shooters regularly beat sales records. PUBG is 5th on the best-selling game of all time list. It came out 2 years ago (it has sold more than Super Mario Bros in 34 years!). They sell millions of units on the day the game launches. One had 8.3 million concurrent players shooting at each other at its peak. That’s absolutely staggering.

You just hate FPS and developers.

Not at all. I know what it takes to create those games. I understand and appreciate developers’ work far more than the average gamer or non-playing person. I also am in game audio and it’s funny and hard work to record guttural horror, simulated pain, and gross flesh-y stuff.

It also takes a toll on us. So it does to players as well. You guys are no different.

So you want to ban all violent games??

No Jesus effing Louise chill. I would like to use this occasion to point out that any game talking about say, cannabis or eroticism is IMMEDIATELY, with the quickness banned from being talked about and blocked from being sold on any store as if the game itself had killed someone or a dog. Why?

But anyway. It’s not about the general public, bans, measures, or the politic layer. It’s about game developers having to have a conversation about our responsibilities and how we can/should slow our roll with in-game brutality. There are other things in life and if not, we can definitely be more subtle about elimination-based games. It’s an internal discussion that we need and completely, consistently avoid all the time. So we end up with an industry that’s either about dark shooters or ultra cute whatever to counterbalance the grim. 20 years of that, I’m a little sick. We need to recognize what we’re doing, turn it down a notch or five and make games less serious and grim. But considering how much money all that violent entertainment makes (BILLIONS), and how everyone forgets everything after 24 hours of social media, and how reactionary game culture is, game developers will not do shit, not even talk. We don’t have to.

And that’s a shame.

Tide

August 7th, 2019 by harold

I was writing a bigger post about gun violence but, what’s the point?

It’s just so infuriating that we have everything, all the knowledge in the world, all the wealth possible (you know that we just print more money when we need some, right?) and we just let things rot until there’s no return possible. Even though we could fix most of everything within a generation.

It’s maddening. Absolutely maddening.

That day I blacked out I guess

August 4th, 2019 by harold

It was not long after Prince passed away in his elevator.

I was working on this TV show. 12 weeks, twelve to sixteen hours a day, six days a week. It was rough but I was holding up.

I was driving a lot, from LA to somewhere north of San Diego. We were over the hump, habits and routines well in place. On a return to the set from LA, I was driving alone in my minivan, leaving the 405 traffic to finally zip up south on the 5.

And then I arrived and couldn’t remember how. Black hole in my memory. Absolutely no recall of the past hour. None. All I could remember was “emerging” on the ramp leading to the parking lot and wondering who the fuck drove the past hour because I felt like I’d just woken up.

I could remember when I had left LA and the start of the trip. But right before Carlsbad, I couldn’t remember anything at all. I have a pretty good memory of everything. I’ve never experienced before or after such a memory failure/loss.

I remember ordering food, waiting in line while I was freaking out because the last part of the trip wasn’t easy freeway. It was mountain roads and ravines. Pitch black. And I had no clue how I had made it. I felt so vulnerable and scared.

I still don’t know how I made it. I’m happy I’m here and I still remember that day very well.

I didn’t quit but I was happy to be done with the gig. Exhaustion, man.

Disco

August 2nd, 2019 by harold

The Disco Sucks movement and its backlash were so toxic, people in the industry –people who were eating off of the record sales coming from dance music- were all afraid to be associated with anything disco, even the word on a small sign above a door. Something about that really enraged me. Until then I believed I was part of a wonderfully elite group who marched to their own beat. I had worked hard to get there. We were free. We all did what we wanted, said what we meant. We were the music business.

-Nile Rodgers in 1979, after selling millions of Chic records and realizing that that disco sucks thing was way more than a not very funny joke.

From his autobiography, that I recommend very much. Nicely written and candid. Amazing life.

It is some serious privilege to be able to disrespect something that allows you to live the life you live. It also shows a pretty serious lack of conviction and integrity to “ban” a certain kind of music, just because of its association with minorities.

The act of dancing has never ever been the same since those Disco Sucks days. It’s a loss.

The more I read about that moment in time, the less I get it, the more I understand.

Twitter lost its mind

August 2nd, 2019 by harold

I joined Twitter in 2007. It changed my life etc.

I always used third-party clients, because I sort of know what I’m doing with computers.

Twitter has APIs and for third-party folks like me, they let us use the old API, the one without algorithms.

The passive-aggressive thing that Twitter does is that you can’t connect a new third-party client to the old API. You can however use the ones installed before the changes. I have 3 old phones with 3 different old Twitter clients that still totally work. But I couldn’t install a third party client on my last phone.

I was like, fine, I’ll try the “new” (aka algo-filled) Twitter.

Jesus fucking Christ. I almost cried. No shit. I couldn’t recognized my 12 year old feed at all. Like, fuck.

Realizing how manipulating algorithms are, what they do to people who use Twitter like they pump gas in their cars, I just can’t. The interface, the funnels to get you to click, my god. Sure, I can finally read 240 character tweets (another funnel to keep you on the platform). Which are actually rare and not adding anything, really.

The default clients on Windows are those stinky ass web apps. The last interface change is piling up on the funneling. Twitter doesn’t respect its users at all. It uses them like tissues.

The most awesome thing about technology is that it’s impartial: it does what you want it to do, and doesn’t have stakes in what you do. It’s a tool.

Now technology does what it wants you to do for a bunch of dudes in the Bay Area. It’s a goddamn nightmare.

I want to fight @jack on a ring. No fists, just my legs hitting his meditating ass, gourmet food filled body.

Why I watch the WNBA

July 27th, 2019 by harold

It’s great basketball.

It’s happening when the NBA is on vacation so no conflict.

They play hard and congratulate their opponents at the end of every games.

Players follow through their shots, an important thing to do.

Games’ length is perfect. A bit shorter than the NBA (4×10 mn instead of 4×12 mn).

Games are close from start to finish within 5 points usually. Exciting.

I can mutter “this a bad bitch” or yell “GIRL YES” and it’s totally fine.

The mix of legging, short shorts, short short shorts, long shorts, make up no make up, long hair, short hair.

The mix of ladies my size all the way up to giants, playing together.

Every team has lefties. Sometimes 3 of them.

Bill Laimbeer, a 80s Detroit Bad Boy Legend who beat MJ’s Bulls for years, who didn’t like basketball and didn’t give a shit ever, has been coaching WNBA teams for the past 15+ years (and yes he’s good at it with 3 championships and maybe a 4th this year). I want to see the rest of the story.

It’s great basketball.