What She Said

September 15, 2001
11:07 AM
Oh yeah, in all the confusion I forgot. There's a store here called "Big Lots". Their gimmick is that they carry closeout items. They sent us an ad recently and in it they advertised the aforementioned (a long while back) Logitech iFeel MouseMan for $22. When I got this for X-Mas they were selling for $50-$60, so if you want one and you have a Big Lots anywhwere near, give them a look. I just hope this doesn't mean that Logitech/Immersion are screwed or anything.

10:13 AM
I guess this answers my question.

September 14, 2001
8:42 AM
Ah shit. Yes, we know the terrorists could have trained on a flight simulator. Yes, the flight simulators have very realistic representations of major cities (which isn't "shocking" or "chilling" at all). But are flight simulators a "problem"? I of course say no. This aforementioned article, however, implies that they could be. It also implies that flight simulators may be responsible for the WTC attack.

I'm afraid I don't follow. Is he insisting that the terrorists got training on the program and then just re-did what they played in the game? If so, is he implying that were the computer program never to exist that Tuesday would have never happened? If so, the man is an idiot. Perhaps they would not have hit the World Trade Center, but they would have done something. The first time I ever took off in Flight Simulator 5.0 (way back in 1993 or so), I slammed my plane into the World Trade Center the first time. And the Eiffel Tower. And the Sears Tower. It's really not that hard - pick the biggest thing around and hit it.

Dr. Bob Arnot, who is a doctor (or not), even insists that the only way the terrorists knew to hit the WTC is because it was in the game. Oh please - it couldn't be because the WTC is the biggest landmark on the NYC skyline. By that logic he should be prosecuting postcard manufacturers. Also by that logic the press should be prosecuting the people who gave the terrorists flight training. Oh wait, they already are. Next they'll go after the manufacturers of box cutters. At least ABC News had the intelligence to question the logic of allowing knives up to 4" on board and not having a bullet proof door to the cockpit.

Arnot also goes on to be shocked that anyone who can afford $34.95 can learn such deadly skills. I wonder if the terrorists actually bought the software. Like with the Columbine Lawsuit, I wonder if it makes a difference if they pirated the software.

What also bugs me about the article is what Arnot won't say. He never mentions a partuicular piece of PC software. He also never comes right out and says "they should not have made this software", but he implies it. What he does in the article is to play on the fears and ignorance of the masses.

The final irony of all of this is that, for example, Flight Simulator is a non-violent game. Like I mentioned before the crashes in the game are unspectacular. It is literally intended to be a clinical simulation of flying a plane - which is why most gamers don't bother with it, it's too boring for them. Flight Simulator is also 23 years old It's not some "new piece of software" - it started its life on the Apple ][. It didn't even start its life under Microsoft. Flight Simulator is even used over in the Trigon at A&M to help Navy cadets learn to fly (any "real" training they need comes later). By Arnot's line of reasoning, it could be responsible for any number of plane crashes over the years.

While Flight Simulator could have taught the pilots how to crash into the WTC, it couldn't teach them how to hijack a plane, smuggle weapons, fake their identification, or kill people with box cutters. Neither will Counter-Strike, BTW.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. People want easy answers and the ratings go to the network that can give them. And while I appreciate the Penny Arcade response, it's not going to dispel the myth that gamers have such a violent, knee-jerk reaction to criticism because we spend all day on murder simulators.

September 13, 2001
8:57 PM
I guess that leads to another question - Microsoft is coming out with Flight Simulator 2002 soon. Will they take out the WTC towers? On the one hand they should - FS2002 is supposed to be as realistic as possible. However, that's a somewhat cold way of handling it - just removing them from the game. But if they leave them in the game then it's kinda morbid - plus it makes them more likely to suffer criticism for allowing a new version of the game to re-enact the events.

9:56 AM
I hate to say it, but I've personally done this several times. I always crash my plane into buildings in Flight Simulator - it's just easier than having to land them (which I can't do and wind up crashing them anyway). Gamers have complained over the years that Microsoft didn't have any "cool crashes" in the game - whenever you crash you just see your plane sitting there and the words "you have crashed" appear in the screen. Now I'm glad they made the crashes so clinical. The other thing I am glad about is that this story is not "blaming" a computer game - no more than the media is "blaming" the flight school they think the terrorists took lessons from. I'm hoping they don't try to draw a parallel to Counter-Strike next.

September 11, 2001
7:08 PM
Well on the one hand I don't really have any insight or anything to say really concerning the whole terrorist bit that happened today, other than to say that I was completely terrified earlier today once more and more information came forward, feeling a sickness I haven't experienced since the Bonfire collapse. However, I don't want to leave the matter completely unaddressed, since that's kinda shallow.

Therefore, I will say this much. I take great pride in the fact that here in America, when we want to, we will get you. Whenever you download an illegal MP3 or copy a video you rent, you don't "get away" with it because you're too good or smart to be caught, you get away with it because the authorites let you. Period. When America wants you, they get you. When the WTC was bombed back in 1993 all they had was part of the axle of the truck that exploded and they had an arrest in three days. They had Timothy McVeigh arrested within 48 hours, and dead six years later. Sometimes it takes a while, like with the Unabomber, but we will find you and we will get you.

And this is why I am thankful we have a Republican Texan in the White House who is not afraid to use force and the military to extract justice.

September 10, 2001
2:15 PM
I just discovered that the "bug" wasn't with the code I wrote or modified - it was with the way the data type was laid out (alphanumeric instead of date) and that it was my Boss' fault. Frustrated at the wasted time, relieved that it wasn't my fault, amused that it was my boss' fault. Oh, and relieved that the deadline has been pushed back to whenever we get the stinking thing done (which will be soon but not tomorrow night).

Also, at the end of last week lots of press members were invited out to the Skywalker Ranch in LA to view/partake in the DVD for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Apparently the deal is that once midnight Tuesday rolls around on the west coast (2 AM for you Texas types) websites are allowed to post their reviews of the 2-disc set, so check on The Force or DVDFile if you're up. On the one hand the reviews should be good - early word is that this is one fantastic transfer of the film and one hell of an offering on DVD. On the other hand, the websites are likely to criticize the film (again) and lament that it's too little too late. In either event, it doesn't really matter - myself and millions of others will be purchasing the DVD no matter what for the simple fact that this is freaking Star Wars on DVD - something we were always told wouldn't be forthcoming in any way shape or form until 2006. One sixth of the way to a full set!

12:52 PM

So let me get this straight. I've been working on one COBOL bug for a week now (and I just know it's something lame like a period out of place) and some facko out there has programmed a Lego Mindstorms robot that solves Rubik's Cubes. Apparently he got the little cameras to discern what colors were on the cube and then feed that info into an algorithm that gets the thing solved in 40 moves or less. This is such a phonemenal achievement that it looks like Lego might buy the idea off of him. I just want my date to look like 09/10/01 instead of 20/01/10, dammit.

Looks like the V12 engine is getting a name change since no one noticed before now that the name "V12 engine" as it pertains to computer games, was taken already. How lame. They're soliciting ideas for a new name but they seem to like SpankDog, the name of a local microbrewery (or maybe it's the beer). No thanks - I'd rather have masturbation as far away from my game programming as possible.

In the meantime I feel like shit warmed over for some reason and I just know this aforementioned bug and the few others I tripped over will keep me here into the late hours because they're "supposed" to be done by Tuesday night. Oh well, this project has been taking all my time for the last few weeks here at work, perhaps the next project won't be a bullet in the head.

Oh, and apparently the webmaster of DCEmulation.com is having a bit of a problem with his staff. It stems from the fact that the webmaster is around 13 years old, and his staff is either of approximately equal age or younger, and he decided to make some demands of them, like acknowledging their existence. Now these staff members, who probably don't even know the real names of each other or the webmaster, are rebelling for some reason , deleting the forums and hacking the site up. This morning no one could even get in. Apparently the webmaster mistakenly believed that he could expect accountability and professionalism from a bunch of unpaid, uncollected children. I like DCEmulation and all, especially the Bleemcast forum, as it's the only one Rand Linden (lead programmer of all things Bleem!) frequents, even if most of the comments are of the "Hey! Do a Spice World pack!" or "You guys suck for not doing the 100 game pack!" variety.

Finally, the NYPD Blue streak didn't last - I've forgotten to record the last three episodes. Whoops. Guess I'll have to re-tape season five when it comes back around.

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