Archive for the ‘Me Myself&I’ Category

Needs

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

"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

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

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

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

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

Monday, August 19th, 2019

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.

Tide

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

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

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

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

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

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

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

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

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

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.

CS:20 (almost)

Friday, July 26th, 2019

I wrote about this game many times.

2000-2019. I joined with Beta7.

Prologue

I have been playing Counter-Strike for basically twenty years. I still play a match of two from time to time, against bots on CS:CZ because my machine can’t run CS:GO but whatever. Still watching pro games here and there. I spent a few years watching tons of pros play. Jumping off of my chair and stuff.

I’m struck at how the excitement of entering a large, dangerous area is still there, even with bots. Even after decades. Even after knowing absolutely everything about where to go, what to do. Because I’ll still get surprised and die stupidly or make the two best moves that allow me to place quick headshots. Crouch. Reload. Giggle (or not).

Only really great games carry excitement through emergent gameplay for that long. Many games do that for five years. Ten is a lot more rare. Twenty is quite exceptional. Only CS, Mario Kart and Go are there personally.

The Game

Counter-Strike is one of the best multiplayer game ever made. When it came out, I thought that we didn’t need any more multiplayer shooting games, or at the very least those with military things going on. Even though we got Call of Duty games every year since 2005, I still think CS should have been the end of that genre. From gameplay to matches’ length, it’s perfect.

Okay, Battlefield is fun too because it adds this entire new scope with vehicles and does it well. But to me it just makes gameplay more messy and clumsy for the thrill of doing silly things with your plane and your dune buggy. Nah. Essence, son.

When Counter-Strike came out the setting was actually refreshing, believe it or not. We didn’t have first-person games with current military stuff. At that time we had Half-Life, Tribes, Deus Ex, Quake, Unreal Tournament and other cyberpunk-ish ‘brosome aesthetics going on I guess.

CS was very different. CS was very subtle. CS afforded not very great players skill-wise to win games because they would play the clock, camp or bully you. It’s near impossible to win a 1 VS 2 or 1 VS 3. The first time you’re planting the bomb? Those few seconds where you’re absolutely vulnerable, while your teammates, hurt, are looking out for you, is one of the purest joy in computer games. Period.

CS is hilarious. As soon as you know the other team has no money to buy equipment, you know you have to be extra careful because them mofos will play dirty next round. Pettiness as gameplay. Nice.

I think that’s what made the game so viscerally human. The playing field was accessible where Quake or Unreal weren’t. I have many memories of always dying mid-match but satisfied because I knew I had HURT the team we were fighting and that I had had a big impact even though I was gone. That grenade and that submachine gun clip had done the job. The bomb was planted or about to. Mission completed (or close to).

But also, I think it’s the first and only game where sound –and the absence of sound- is a matter of winning or losing a game.

I can’t think of any game where it’s that absolutely crucial. It’s always about “I heard them”. Seeing the opponents means it’s too late. Pro games are so intensively quiet before the storm, it’s so unique and scary and exciting. Sound as game design. Dope.

The negative side of playing this game is well, teenagers. I was already grown when this game was being made, playing with brand new dads and young adults in a LAN setting. Being able to hear my friend I’d just eliminated shout “fuck!!” next door was good in many ways. “Come GET ME!” would yell my other friend next to me in the room, when he was the last player standing, with a shotgun –no range- in a tower. So many laughs.

Playing against 15 years old, weapon-lover, sugar-injecting kids online was different. Way different. Niggerrrrr different.

Gamedev

The story is of course, weird and dorky. Minh Le is Counter-Strike’s main designer and Jess Cliffe is the producer. They started the game, developed the game’s various designs, named it etc. Valve saw the potential very quickly and got involved in the first months of the beta.

One of the most important thing about Counter-Strike: the maps. They didn’t have much when they started and thanks to a few brilliant level designers, maps showed up and were almost immediately, perfect.

The interesting thing is that a handful of dudes created half a dozen maps that have been played for billions of hours. And most of those guys were Europeans, and not necessarily experts in level design! As often in this industry, they disappeared. Some worked on level design at Valve, some left, others quit level design all together…

Counter-Strike is very lucrative. Last time I checked, CS:GO –the last iteration, created in 2012- was bringing something like $200M a year and as I’m researching now and looking at numbers (Valve doesn’t disclose them), it appears that it’s probably closer to half a billion dollars a year? Yup. Lucrative.

The game is now F2P.

The two OG game designers worked there for years. One left, the other might have gotten fired over some catfishing scandal. It’s pretty disappointing to see. I’d love to read the full story of how the two designers met, what was the fire for them, what design decisions they fought for the most, which ones were the hardest to maintain, the different CS versions through engines etc. It’s probably super interesting. I want to know everything.

Left-Handedness

When I started playing the game, I felt uncomfortable with the weapon model stuck on the right side of the screen. Because Counter-Strike is a Half-Life mod and that you could switch models to the left side with that game engine, so could I in CS. And, that changed everything. It immediately felt natural and now I could focus on team work and actually aim properly. I just discovered that Minh Le is left-handed too and would switch its weapon model, just like me (which is why early screenshots of the game show lefty stuff).

The thing is that 20 years and hundreds of first person shooters later, CS is still the only game that allows real lefties to enjoy playing. It boggles my mind that an entire industry just can’t bother to accommodate left-handedness, pushing people away from enjoying games more. The software industry can be more rigid and conservative than a rock in Virginia while having all the latitude to change things: it’s just code. Sigh.

Criticism

I wish voice over wasn’t so skewed towards making the counter-terrorists speak English with no accent. It’s not about realism. Voice over was the same for both sides back in the day and it was just fine. It’s not a good design decision to play on that and make it “funny” for some people. There should only be a CT team and a T team and nothing else. Fuck your underlining pointless stories, it’s a multiplayer game. Honestly, they should even have gone with a paint ball theme, add some women models and go away from military settings. At least make a version like this, call it CS:SOFT I don’t care.

Enough military/police propaganda. Enough.

Anyway. Counter-Strike is still one of the most played/watched game on earth. And I kinda want to launch a game real quick now (I did; it was, as usual, fun).