Jul 272012

Four months!

A great deal has happened. 38 Studios closed, meaning the beautiful and amazing game I spent the last two years working on will never see the light of day. The studio’s closure hit some employees very severely, since it happened with essentially no notice and every expectation that the situation we were in was something we could emerge from. We couldn’t, we didn’t, game over. Cody and I don’t tend to be extravagant spenders, and her benefits are equivalent to mine, so we simply rolled onto her plan with no interruption.

We finally got a dog! We adopted Crichton (named for John Crichton, FarScape’s astronaut protagonist) from a rescue shelter that operates out of New York. He’s a German Shepherd mix of some kind (strongly resembles a Rhodesian Ridgeback, too), born tailless. He chose Cody immediately, and that was basically that. He’s been an amazing addition to our lives and it’s actually hard to imagine what life was like before him. He’ll be six months old on Cody’s and my second wedding anniversary.

I had the excellent fortune to work with many amazing people at 38 Studios. One of them, with whom I worked very closely, made mention to me that his wife’s company was looking for a PHP developer. “Why, I’m a PHP developer!” I thought. I’ve been paid for PHP work in the past (when I worked for Northeastern while attending school there, and when I worked for Blue Fang), I use PHP on a regular basis in my own web projects, and I have a technical mind as a result of working on software for the last six years. A month after 38 Studios laid us off, I started work at Surf Merchants in Boston. So far, it has been amazing. The people are awesome, the company is fantastic, and I get to work in PHP every day–and get paid for it! I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, probably as a result of spending six years in a very volatile industry.

Ashes is making steady progress, thanks in part to my new commute that has Cody drop me off at the commuter rail in the morning for a 30 minute train ride into Boston. I use that time to continue working on the third draft, and have hit the troublesome middle section I mentioned several posts ago. And it is, indeed, troublesome. I thought I was nearing the end of chapter eighteen, only to realize that I was going to have to re-re-tool chapters fifteen through eighteen to make everything flow correctly. This is what happens when you think you remember your story treatment, but don’t actually double-check.

Joined Pax Gaming, to which Cody already belonged, and have started playing both The Secret World (due to Cody’s exhuberance and a desire to play an MMO together again) and Star Trek Online. I was very pleasantly surprised by STO. Cryptic did a great job capturing the feel of the Star Trek universe. Kudos to them. TSW is a blast, too, and I really dig the flexibility of their system, and the general ambiance of the world–except for all the damn zombies.

Why is everyone so into zombies? I mean, I guess Ashes sort of has zombie-like creatures in it, but not really. It seems like zombies are part of the modern zeitgeist, and I do not understand the appeal at all. I suppose the same argument could be made about vampires, but vampires don’t bother me nearly as much (or, at all, really; I enjoy vampires). I wonder if there’s an element of appeal to the monster. With a vampire, it’s a creature that has power, that has traits that are desirable despite the drawbacks. Same with a werewolf in some ways. But a zombie? Where’s the draw there? Why would you want to be a zombie? Why would you want to live in a world populated by zombies? I don’t get it.

I mentioned it briefly above, but Cody and my second wedding anniversary is coming up in a bit under two weeks. Last year, we went on a cruise. That’s not so feasible this year, what with Crichton and all, and it’s left us somewhat stymied as to what to do instead. Every time we think of things to do and look at the cost, it seems so inefficient compared to the cost/benefit ratio of a cruise. Instead, we’ve talked about doing something smaller for our anniversary (a nice dinner, for instance) and something larger later on.

I came across a fun little program called Manic Time, which tracks your application usage and document/website usage by time. I want to use it as a motivational tool to show myself how much time I waste that I could be writing. With actual metrics staring me in the face, I think that’ll be a decent motivator to not spend so much time idling.

That’s about it for now!

Fun with Telemarketers

 Posted by at 14:52  No Responses »
May 212009

I’ve been receiving the obnoxious car warranty scam calls for quite some time. I added the number they call from to my phone’s address book so I would know at once that it was them calling. I accepted the most recent two from them. The first time, I asked them to remove me from their list. The second time, which came the same day, I demanded that they remove me, lest I go to the “authorities.”  Later on, I read about how the FTC is investigating this very scam, so I felt pretty good about life.

Then, I started getting calls from the same number, but with a different pitch.  However, since it was the same number, I treated it as the same bunch.  Here’s how our first chat went.

“Hi, is this Ryan?”
“Who’s calling please?”
“My name is Anthony from Specialty Travel.  Our records indicate you bought an Orlando Disney vacation package a few years ago and never took the vacation.”
“Aren’t you people being investigated by the FTC?”
“Excuse me?”
“Aren’t you people being investigated for scamming by the FTC?”
“…THIS IS THE KGB!!!!” <click>

I relayed this story to my coworkers, who had overheard my end of the conversation, to much amused and astonished laughter. Today, they called me again! After exchanging some pleasantries, the following:

“How often do you get a chance to travel?”
“Oh, about every other week or so.”
“I mean travel outside of Boston.”
“Yeah, every other week or so. Cross-country.”
“Cross county? That’s gotta take more than a week. Do you fly?”
“Man, that’s gotta do some great things for frequent flyer miles.”
“Ohhh yeah.”
“Well, I have an Orlando vacation package for you. How does that sound?”
“Well, to be honest, it sounds like a scam.”
“A scam? It’s not a scam.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“It’s not.”
“Come on. We both know it is.”
“Well, how do you feel about what Orlando did to Boston? Was that a scam?”
“Eh, I don’t really follow sports.”
“Yeah. Kicked the Celtics’ ass.”
“Say, are you guys still with the KGB?”
“The KGB?”
“Absolutely. <click>”

I’m honestly starting to enjoy it when these guys call. It’s entertaining, at the very least.