How About Repurposing Your Wii U For Work With Minimum Fuss?

That’s exactly the idea behind the Kickstarter that yours truly has just launched.

After working for nearly a decade in IT at various levels, I’ve come to learn that you can never have enough formal documentation on how to do anything. It may seem simple enough for you or myself to just head over to Office Web Apps and interpret what happens.

Does a plug-in failed to load, causing us to have to try out about a dozen or more other competitors? Are we allowed to sign-in? If so, how do I work that interface or just get my school paper done in time? Let me handle your frustration in advance so that you can have the best chance at smooth sailing.

That’s fine. At one point in time we all new nothing and had no skill in everything that we’re proficient with now.

Moving beyond that, people are able to get much of their computing done via a web browser and Chrome OS. They’re uying Chromeboxes and Chromebooks that are within the same pricerange of a Wii U. They offer an operating system with little to no maintenance needed in stationary and mobile form factors. The Wii is mostly stationary but via the GamePad it is versatile. There are some things that Chrome OS can do and offer that a Wii U can’t, the same is true for in reverse. Why not take part in a guide that clears a path for you?

Sure, we can trust our pc’s, laptops or tablets to friends or family but not everyone has these extra devices to share. Not only that but they are often highly personal devices. Should your sisters get to learn about what you and your girlfriend were really up to last night while supposedly researching Hernando Cortes for a history paper? I don’t think so.

Sure, she or he (little brothers are a monster unto themselves) may be very adept at web searching and can punch keys to type but how well can they organize a project on their own that will net them an A? (with them doing awesome research, typing and assignment adherence of course)

My sisters excel at this, my mother… eh. It wouldn’t even need to be family. Most people learn a single workflow in a very specific environment so that they can do a task, almost on autopilot sometimes. If their machines die or become unusable somehow, you can bet that they’re coming for yours next.

If they need to complete an autocad project or advanced music editing, you may just be out of luck and have to take that risk is they aren’t a savvy user. If their needs are simple, you can stay on your machine or even jump over to the Wii U yourself, and continue working and generally doing whatever you were doing before.

In the end, this is a project about making you and those around you more adept and able to repurpose a fun piece of tech to get some light work done. I’ve tried doing this many times in the past and can tell you that the random hiccups can often suck up more time than the actual work itself. Be prepared. Let me spend a month or more with a Wii U, document how to handle many tasks needed for school work, general every day work and a few odds and end tasks. Let me suffer so that you may be able to spend your time more wisely.

Lowest option is $1 and it gets you a digital copy of this guide. Yes, every participant gets to taste the fruit of my labors, anything over that dollar is all about adding more of yourself to this project without needing to commit much – if any – time.

I’ve only spoken about a few general use cases, do you have something more particular that you’d like to have looked at? $3 will get your voice heard. I will determine the feasibility of what you would like added and do my best to try to accomplish it on the Wii U. Some things are just plain impossible with the way the system is now, others are very unlikely or may require odd workarounds. No problem, I’ll try that for you.

Just go here and pledge to become a part of this awesome Kickstarter.


How Will Valve Help to Shape the Future of Gaming and Linux?

This was originally an email I sent to someone else about Valve, I think that it merits being read publicly. I originally started typing about Valve and their relationship to Linux, but it all really centers around concerns about DRM and video game distribution control. I’d like to share my thoughts with everyone on this topic.

This is a posting about Valve’s intention’s for their development debugger for Linux and Steam OS.

I use Linux and love how Valve’s attention is helping to get things improved with certain elements of it, namely native games support. Some have posted before that the Valve Corporation uses misdirection (wheels on desks) and other people’s work (some of their games) to make their money while hiding their intentions publicly. I agree with that sentiment – sometimes. Steam OS will be open source, available to anyone and will help to make Linux a platform more friendly for game development and game releases. Valve’s aim, of course, is to control distribution of the games. An open source strategy will work perfectly for them since it will allow for Steam and all of their other work to be more easily spread. As long as it ties into Steam services or at least spreads word about in some form, it helps them to reach more people. In the end, Valve can do their bit of work and get plenty of other people to work on their software for free and still offer the Steam experience to everyone.

This places a player like me in an awkward/difficult position. I want more games of every sort to come to a single platform that meets most of my computing needs. For any company that can bring serious improvements to Linux gaming, I will want their attention and support. I show my seriousness with my spending, I spend my money solely on what I would like to support. The only problem is that my money (or Linux gamers money) is nowhere near as enticing as the money that Windows and Mac gamers spend. If Valve improves the viability of Linux as a third PC platform then that’s great, but if they control the distribution and convince everyone to target Steam as their distribution method then I might as well go back to Windows for gaming. I buy my games without DRM and plan to continue doing so. I have used Steam and still use it, but I have not purchased Steam games for myself in a long time.

I did break that stance last year to support some early games that I liked that released for Linux (Serious Sam 3 and a couple of other games, it broke a nearly 1-2 year hiatus of Steam spending). I immediately stopped after that first round of spending since I remembered that I hated the confines of drm. Valve using Linux to promote its’ distribution and game value sapping services is a blessing and plague all at once. They offer things that are good for gamers and developers in the short-term but it will harm everyone greatly over time. It’s great to buy a game cheaply, but is it great to seek an audience that will only buy games because they are cheap? Without being able to actually compel your audience on merit alone it is doomed to become unsustainable. The best (and possibly worst) part about this is that they don’t force anything on anyone (except for the drm), you have to opt-in on both sides of the equation, developer and gamer. People are so shortsighted (myself too sometimes). The devil doesn’t make you do anything, it just holds open the door. People need to stop walking through it no matter how good the other side may look if they value the future of gaming.

If I had to offer a solution I would just ask developers to make their work both on and off of Steam (without drm). This solution is actually being practiced now by quite a few developers and even publishers. Unfortunately, I am only a game player and not a developer. I don’t completely understand how companies are able to make profits and sustain them. At this moment I can only go by what I observe, I hope to eventually find and understand the source perfectly instead of going after the symptoms of the blight that I see in the industry. If it means anything, I’d like to present the words of Jeff Vogel from Spiderweb Software.

“In any place where your game is sold, pick the price that will maximize the profits. This ideal price changes depending on the nature of the place where it is being sold.

Steam is a big, sprawling gaming bazaar where practically all of the games are cheap. People see a game, spend a moderate amount of money on it, and try it out. People experiment there, and you need to charge a price that encourages customers to pick you as their experiment. Also, if you charge $20 for your game there, it will be on a list with ten good games at half the price, so you will get murdered.

Spiderweb Software’s web site, on the other hand, only lists our games. It is generally only visited by fans of role-playing games. People on our site are generally really interested in the specific sorts of games we sell, and so the higher price doesn’t scare them off.

This sort of logic isn’t my weird invention. It’s basic business. World of Goo is $20 on the company site, $10 on Steam, and $5on iTunes. Each marketplace has its own norms, and you price your game to maximize your earnings there.” – Source

DRM isn’t much of a deterrent to piracy anymore unless you go the extreme route of always online drm (successfully). I’d also like to share the content of a recent Ars Technica interview with Rambourg, the managing director of Good Old Games. Have you been tracking data or researching how DRM-free gaming impacts sales?
…’s DRM-free, day-one release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, a AAA+ game by any standards, is a great case study. At release, the version widely available on torrent sites was not the DRM-free GOG version but the one that posed any sort of challenge to the hackers, the one that included DRM…
…in our own experience we’ve found that trusting users to treat us well pays off and that our DRM-free approach is certainly not costing us business. Two of the many examples that come to mind: we see an average number of downloads per game that’s somewhere below two—which means that users aren’t taking advantage of DRM-free gaming to share accounts around.” – Source

Awesome Kickstarter for a Water Heater

The modern home is dramatically being changed in multiple, very innovative ways. What will happen to the future of food storage? Will we start seeing traditional outlet’s being replaced with new standard outlets that have usb ports? Can the electric stove and oven be replaced by counter appliances completely? Time will tell. Check out this link for more info on the Heatworks water heater. It seems like a brilliant way to solve many problems with the current state of water heaters.

1. They’re bulky. They can often require a small separate room or make part of their area an odd place to plan for furnishments.

2. Improved Temperatures. This device claims to heat water nearly instantly as its’ pumped to it and through the pipes of your home. No more running out of hot water, no more needing to adjust the temperature mid-shower or bath-draw.

3. Easier to Replace and Service. This device will use smaller parts, so users servicing it by hand may have a more difficult time if small parts are too much for them. Otherwise, being able to work on your water heater on a table (everything eventually breaks down) will at least make self-serve or professional service easier than lugging around a man-sized tank.

4. Decreased Water and Electricity Usage. Heatworks is supposed to dynamically control the electric current so that the fluid one will be appropriately heated. This means that it won’t have to run at full blast all the time. With it being a more modern design and not needing a reservoir of water to maintain at all times, it should be able to drop to power draw levels rivaling lcd’s in standby at times. That last point is just my guess, I do not fully understand the technology and that claim was not made on the Kickstarter page. The decreased water usage may not happen due to social issues. You know how great the perfect temperature shower feels, would you really stop as early as you do now if the water wasn’t becoming colder?

Check out the Kickstarter page for Heatworks here.

February’s Focus

I’ll keep this short and simple. The primary focus of gaming articles for February will be the creation, progression and growth of the Gaming Industry. 

People made games because hey, games are fun. Arcade machine’s became the first mainstream face of video games and were superseded by the consoles that followed them. Originally the consoles were for playing arcade games at home and in some cases tinkering and development. Eventually Game Console’s became their own thing and began to grow. We now have this hybridization of Arcade and PC gaming on Consoles. This is a very fascinating subject, I look forward to discussing it more with all of you this month.

Nintendo Releases a Rough Draft as a Final Product

The image above comes from Gonintendo, the first is the 2DS that I’m sure you’ve heard so much about by now. From right to left you have the following:

On the far right is the 3DS XL, the first semi-decent, next-gen handheld system from Nintendo. Its’ battery life is still undesirable, a joke compared to past Nintendo handhelds. It also still has the 3DS emphasis but is still solid and useful with a clamshell shape.

In the center is the 3DS, a piece of crap that barely lives long enough to let you know that it exists. Shoved into the lower corner of the system is the 2nd class citizen at Nintendo right now, also known as the dpad . Don’t forget about the afterthought, the backwards compatibility.  Very poor scaling is the name of its’ game, in combination with none 1:1 symmetrical screens – it’s a pos that should have remained a concept.

Very first is the 2DS, it’s a Ben Heck rough draft that Nintendo found. Nintendo heard us cry for a 3DS without 3D and a solid battery life and games but didn’t want to fulfill it properly. So instead they take something that Mr. Heck would not have ever released, maybe a joke that he scribbled on a napkin (This is just a joke, Ben does awesome work). From there they decide to release it under the guise of appealing to parents. You cannot protect the screens like the entire rest of the DS and 3DS line can do. You can not angle it like the rest of the DS and 3DS line. Heck, it looks like a cheap piece of crap. Not even the original DS Phat looked like crap.

I look at it and I see an anorexic Gameboy DS. In this use of “DS” it doesn’t mean “dual screens” or “developer’s system”. Oh not, it means “Dual-screened Slate”. It’s creative, it’s new and it’s totally unheard of. Instead of releasing something that fans could rally behind and love, they release a cheaply priced, mono sound reject in a very grudging and snide manner. Nintendo doesn’t care about its’ fan or its’ market. At least not beyond being able to do anything they want like a retired prude. We get the message Nintendo. You couldn’t publicly say F U to the fans so instead you released the Wii U. Wii U Nintendo. Wii U with a splintered broomstick.