What She Said
The Notorious DLG

May 9, 2003
5:23 PM
The banner is gone. Read into this what you will.

May 8, 2003
11:07 AM
In 1997, Sega arrived at E3 with an announcement. Their game system, the Sega Saturn, was dropping its price by $50. Prior to then, it was $249.99, now it was $199.99. This meant that it was now the same price as the Nintendo 64, and the Sony PlayStation was now the most expensive console on the market at $249.99. The price drop went into effect immediately. When asked about whether or not they were going to drop their prices, Sony and Nintendo replied that they weren't. However, the next day they both did.

And so born was a tradition. At E3 each console company announces that they're going to slash the price of their consoles. This happened last year - the PS2 and Xbox were both $299.99 and the GameCube was $199.99. The PS2 and Xbox both got $100 cuts to $199.99 and the GameCube got a $50 cut to $149.99. This year they're rumored to all three be recieving a $50 cut, making the PS2 and Xbox $149.99 and the GameCube $99.99. It took five years for the Nintendo 64 to be slashed to $129.99, so to have the GameCube be slashed down to under $100 so quickly says something about how competitive the console market is.

Obviously now each console company comes to E3 armed with price cuts ready (and in this case people working at game retailers are reporting that their stores have already recieved the literature), but I think it's still as simple as the 1997 situation at heart - in theory all three companies could decide that they simply won't drop their price and the other two companies will follow suit. But of course that will never happen. Either Company A or Company B will drop their price, rendering the other of those two companies in the unpopular situation of having the most expensive console, so the other of those two will then go on and drop their price. Then Company C (always Nintendo) will have a console with the same price as both Company A and Company B, so they'll drop their price as well, since one of their strongest selling points will be the fact that they're cheaper.

So that's what's going to happen next week. Ergo, hold off on buying that new console until then - you can get a game for the money you'll save.

The price drops are an extension of the "give away razors to sell razor blades forever" idea. For the most part the consoles are more expensive to make then they sell for, so when manufacturing costs go down a peg, the price goes down another peg. At some point the price goes low enough to stay there a while. The price of the PlayStation went down until it hit $99.99, then it stayed there for a few years. Of course, it was estimated at one point that the PSX's manufacturing costs went down considerably - in 1999 they're still making this 1994 console with a 2X CD-ROM drive and 2MB RAM, so it probably cost about $25 to make. 2000 saw the release of the PS2 and the PSOne, a $50 reslimming of the console aimed at the somewhat-portable market.

The reason for the E3 timing is simple - a big media event to pull off the price drop right before the typically slim summer months. Plus they're getting people hyped about the games they plan on releasing in the Fall.

On the one hand I don't see the prices of any of these consoles going lower next year. Then again I didn't see them going so cheap so fast, so who knows. I don't think next year the GameCube will drop to $50. $75 maybe, but not $50. The other consoles might drop to $125 or $129.99.

I wonder who will benefit most from this drop. My bet is Nintendo - there's probably enough people out there who are interested in Metroid or Zelda and figure $99.99 is worth it.

Of course this brings in the other big unknown - the deals. Nintendo's giving away a free game with their console (not technically bundling) and Microsoft has a disc with the Xbox giving away Sega GT 2002 and Jet Set Radio Future for free. I don't know if these deals will still be there once the price drops.

May 7, 2003
8:58 AM
I promise I have lots of way-cool stuff to say and posts to make, but with my current situation (job search, Wife already working in Plano, the Damocles Sword of packing), posts will be few and far between. However, this one I couldn't resist.

Infogrames has now officially changed its name to Atari. This is after they bought out the name/assets of Atari from Hasbro and after they used the Atari name as a label for years.

I personally think this is cool, since I like the idea of Atari living on as something other than a label on a piece of software. Of course, the main reason a lot of people like Atari is because they associate them with the memories of their console youth. I also like Atari since, they were an American console company (albeit with a Japanese name). However, the headquarters of what was called Infogrames is located in the UK.

Of course if I was really sold on this "American" idea I'd have an Xbox by now, but I think I'll have one of those soon enough.

April 21, 2003
12:38 AM
My wife says I'm boring since I never update. However, I've been working for quite some time on an article on .NET, and finally finished it. I bet she'll think I'm really boring now.

April 7, 2003
10:43 PM
A couple of quick observations.

First, I was in Sam's the other day and I saw Unreal Torunament 2003 in a large, full-sized box. This wouldn't have given me pause, except for the fact that UT2K3 came out in the post-small box era. So apparently Sam's has an arrangement where they get bigger boxes, which sorta makes sense - Sam's Clubs are huge so small things are probably harder to sell. Plus they sell it in bulk, so the boxes should match. However, Sam's is a sister chain of the Wal-Mart corporation - and Wal-Mart was of course the ones that got us the smaller boxes in the first place. How very odd - just as soon as I decide I kinda like the boxes (though not as much as I would if they were DVD cases), they go and give bigger boxes to sister chains. Baffling.

The second thing is that I've been informed and have noticed that the popups from Tripod have in fact not gone away. Either I was delusional or Tripod's popup code got better. Oh well - either block popups to or from members.tripod.com until I get moved to wherever it is I'm going to. We can thank the Australian Military for this apparently.

April 4, 2003
2:22 PM
I have two little ad-banner buttons on this page now above you. Rest assured I'm getting no money whatsoever if you click either of them, I just figured they're worthy geek causes.

The first is the Bleem! Estate Sale. Bleem! as you may know is a dead software company that made a series of PlayStation emulation products until Sony sued them into oblivion. Over a year later, one of the last two or three employees of Bleem! is still trying to get out of debt. Since Bleem! made no money for a long time (i.e., what they did make was spent on lawyers), this individual recieved no paycheck from Bleem!, but when the company went bust he was given a good chunk of the tons of things Bleem consisted of at that point - mostly T-shirts, imported games, controllers and such. Since he needs the money he's auctioning off this stuff. Right now wave two is up, whose highlights include the elusive BleemPods, the propretary prototype devices which allow you to use real analog Dual Shock PSX controllers with your Bleemcast games on the Dreamcast. During wave one I bought one of the last Bleem! T-shirts, and they threw in a crapload of Bleem! stickers as well. Too bad I'm too old now to be putting stickers on things, but it makes my Dreamcast look nicer.

The second link is to the Original Trilogy petition site. For a long time I thought I was the only one who cared about this but it looks like I'm not alone. Basically, George Lucas has indicated that the orignal Star Wars trilogy will be released on DVD in 2006 or so, after Episode III hits DVD, and that the cuts of the movies on the DVD's will be the "Special Edition" cuts. This is all fine and dandy were it not for two things. For starters, the further rumors are that he's going to add more items to these movies (like actrors and maybe even Jar-Jar from the prequel trilogy), and that the original cuts of the movies will not be available. This petition is an attempt to show support for and persuade Lucas to make the original cuts available as well as the Special Edition cuts, either through some seamless branching trick, or on separate discs, perhaps available exclusively online or something (so as not to clog up retail chains with something only a handful of geeks may want).

In particular, the little button I chose (since it was little) illustrates something that's been irking geeks for years now - in the original movie during a scene between Han Solo and Greedo, Han shoots and kills Greedo before Greedo can get a shot off, but in the Special Edition, Greedo shoots first, changing the scene from "Han Solo is a Badass" to "Han Solo in Self Defense". Me personally I could care less who shoots first, but I would like to see the same old 1970's sci-fi version I remember as a kid.

March 26, 2003
1:44 PM
Right, so after a long time of talking about it and never doing it, I finally hauled off and registered Schnapple.com, so if you go there now you'll be greeted by this exact page, sans popups. Go ahead and bookmark it. It's still kinda up in the air as to how we're gonna handle it in the long run - I was content to have Blogger continue on its FTP thang but the cheap web hosting service I have (read: some guy I know) is having issues in that area, so until we hammer it out Schnapple.com is simply a frame containing this Tripod page. This has the pleasant side effect of getting rid of the popups Tripod inflicts on visitors.

My Wife got a job in Plano, she starts on April 7th. This means I'm now the one holding up the show (she'll be crashing with relatives until I can get a jobby-job). I have another tech interview in Addison on Friday, so this may be a non-issue before too long, but in any event feel free to click on anything in that little ad above and drop me a line if you want a .NET Programmer in the Dallas area.

And John Scalzi found my rant that mentioned him and let me know the following:

I should note that by the time you wrote your comment, I have in fact sold a novel -- two, actually -- and that they were sold specifically because I presented them on my Website. I've also picked up another book contract due to other writing on the Web site. Agent is still unsold, although right now it's being looked at by an agent and I have reasonably good hopes for that. Ironically, the book I sold (to Tor, incidentally, Cory's publisher) is military science fiction, not at all unlike Starship Troopers. Which I guess just proves my point. And aside from these books I have two other books that should be in the stores later this year (one with my byline, the other being a book to which I've contributed articles). I still do my consulting work, but the author/novelist part of my workload has definitely gone up.
I believe the book he's referring to in reference to military science fiction is called Old Man's War. Good to hear that this sort of thing can work.

March 19, 2003
4:05 PM
Ironically, I'm probably the least psychotic person of the three.

Wendy's right - I need more shirts.

March 17, 2003
4:29 PM
This past weekend I went to a LAN party in Frisco, TX. I haven't been to too many LAN parties, and the ones I have gone to have either been three guys in an apartment for an afternoon, or something like QuakeCon, where's it's a huge and somewhat clinical affair (i.e., didn't know most of the people there). This one had like 13 people over two rooms in a house. Couple that with the fact that I got to sit on a nice leather couch the whole weekend and this easily trumped the previous experiences in that regard alone.

The main games we played were Unreal Tournament 2003, Jedi Knight II and Battlefield 1942. Now the problem I had with the insistence on playing Battlefield 1942, aside from the fact that I don't own the game and had to become a dirty pirate for the course of the evening to join in, is that I really didn't "get" the game. I knew it was a World War II game. I knew that it was highly rated. I had even tried out the demo and I liked the fact that you could do things like drive tanks and jeeps and planes in addition to being foot soldiers. But I didn't really get the "point" of the game.

Compare this to the aforementioned UT2K3, where the main game type is straight deathmatch. Guy with gun runs around and kills other guys with guns. Whoever does the most wins. Game looks sweet as hell. This sort of thing I can do easily, so I tend to play this sort of game a lot. Mindless deathmatch is just plain fun.

But everyone at this party is insistent that we play Battlefield 1942, so I cave. And it's boring. I can't drive the tanks for crap (they keep tipping over). I walk forever and ever and then get killed in two seconds by someone I can't see. And every once in a while the game ends and I have no idea why.

Now the funny part is that this party spread two rooms over a house, and though it didn't really completely work out that one team was in one room and another in the other, it did pretty much work out that the people I was in a room with didn't know how to play the game (save for one guy who was on the other team and decided to remain mum about the rules). Slowly but surely we "got it" - the controlling of flag and spawn points, the depleting ticket system, the best way to man a tank. Suddenly I realized that everyone is right - this game does kick ass.

So now I wonder - how many games have I missed out on because they needed something other than a twitch nerve to play? I guess I understand Counter-Strike a little better now, and why at certian points in time more than 50,000 people play it online, sometimes to their own deaths. Of course the problem I've always had with Counter-Strike is that the matches never last more than a minute or two and usually the people on all the servers are dickholes.

Of course the other problem with the games which require "thinking" is that there's other limiting factors - namely the intelligence of the other people playing the game. I'm sure I was no fun to play with before I got it, and I'm sure if we didn't have enthusastic players at this LAN party we would have been right back to those other games. Like I said, one of the problems with Counter-Strike is the lameness of some of the people playing the game - or when I try, most of them. A game which I desparately want to play online more and I probably can once I get my new job on is Neverwinter Nights. I've had a few good sessions with the game online, but only after going through several crap servers. Oftentimes I join a server and spend forever trying to find the other players. Then when I do I'm either instantly annihilated by whatever 50th level monster they're up against or the people are complete jerks. And by this point I'm dead tired so I can't play long. This game needs a "go to the action" part badly.

Anywho, I wrote this a couple of days ago (as you can see by the post date) and though it didn't really go anywhere like I wanted it to, but I like it enough to post it.

February 24, 2003
2:00 PM
Last week I learned that KTSR 92.1, my favorite radio station, will be going off the air, this Thursday to be exact. It appears what happened is the station couldn't afford to stay afloat so its owners sold it to Clear Channel Communications, who will promptly turn it into Candy 95.1, a top 40 radio station.

KTSR is the only "hard rock" station in town, so when it goes away so does that. There's another station, 103.9 "The X", but it's not nearly as good - it plays some rock, but lots of alternative crap (not that all alternative is crap, just a lot of what 103.9 plays). Everything else is either country (Texas - go figure) or Top 40/Pop. Just what we need - another station like that.

I had noticed some weeks back that the rotation of the DJ's had changed. KTSR had this thing called the "12:15 funny" that I liked to listen to over lunch, but it moved to 4:20 when the DJ who played it, Roxanne Rolls (whose name is a pun), moved slots. Turns out when they told the four main DJ's about the change looming, two of them left, causing the others to be switched around. I used to listen to it up at work, streaming it off of the Internet, but then when the FCC (or whoever) decided that stations could be double-liable for royalties, they cut that out. I always meant to get a portable radio for work but I never got around to it. Don't guess I need to now.

Clear Channel Communications is a corporation which makes its money owning radio stations. Specificially, it owns a little over half the radio stations in the country. To put that in perspective, most of the other stations are independently owned or owned by small companies who own a handful of stations each, a dozen or so tops. This makes CCC a behemoth in radio, and it also makes them pretty much a target of the average person. It also has the one very important aspect that to get radio stations to play music, record labels now have to make one very large corporation happy.

CCC is likened to the "Microsoft of Radio". They drew fire in the wake of 9/11 by sending out a list of songs to their stations that they "should" avoid playing (though there was no direct order). Tom Petty specifically lambasts them in his anti-establishment concept album The Last DJ. And to make it all the more interesting, the CEO of CCC is a member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents, the Govenor-appointed governing body of Texas A&M University. He recently went on record as saying that CCC is "not a monopoly".

But it's still kinda sad that KTSR wound up this way. Mainly it's sad to me that hard rock has no place on radio. I loved heavy metal in the late 80's (or as much as a 12-year old could), and I loved hard rock in the early 1990's. I even loved grunge when it turned to that. But somewhere between there and here rock went away, replaced by rap music which formerly complained of no attention, teenybopper queens, and boy bands. If you want to know why white guys my age hate boy bands so badly, that's why - they killed what we like. The final straw was the cancellation of Headbanger's Ball on MTV. How ironic then that the most popular show in years has an aging Ozzy Osbourne.

Now rock is "back", but it's "Nu Metal". Suddenly I feel old. I can't stand most of it, and I think a lot of it sounds the same. That's one of the things I liked about KTSR - they played the good old stuff, everything from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana.

Now I won't go on some anti-corporate tirade about how the whole commercial world sucks, I understand all that. I get why hard rock doesn't pull in the advertiser dollars but the squeaky clean pop does. I just don't like it. Therefore, I've decided that once KTSR goes off the air, that's it. I'm not listening to radio anymore in College Station. Not that this means much - I'll be moving to Dallas before too long (in fact some of my prospects are moving in so quickly that I was wondering last week if I'd beat KTSR out of town), but I'm not going to listen to radio anymore before I move. Given that I have hundreds of hours of music I know I like in my car, this shouldn't be an issue.

Which of course brings up the reason it's almost nice to not listen to radio. No more annoying commercials (a statement which of course nicely sums up why KTSR folded), no more scratchy reception, no more listening to songs I don't like. Plus, it's not like I was going to listen to it much longer anyway. Still, it's an interesting listen nowadays with the DJ's confirming the demise, discussing it with callers, and it'll be really interesting to see what that last day is like. I wonder what they'll play for their last song. "The Aggie War Hymn" or "Stairway to Heaven"?

Still, Candy 95.1? Could they have found a gayer, dumber name? Almost like they're trying to be ironic.

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