Daily Archives: December 1, 2007

A Month of Writers, Day One: Steven Brust

So, I had this idea: While I was off this December writing my book and being no fun, why not keep you folks entertained with a revolving platter of fabulous guest stars? What kind of guest stars, you ask? Well, the best kind of guest stars, naturally: Writers!

Specifically, writers I like, who also have blogs, who are also totally awesome. These writers have kindly consented to share a favorite blog posting of their own from the past year here at Whatever, for your edification and amusement. It also gives me a chance to tell you to visit their blogs if you’re not already doing so, and buy their books, because even awesome writers need attention and money. So, you know, do both.

To kick things off, here’s one of my absolute favorite writers, Steven Brust, whose latest book Dzur continues the Vlad Taltos series, a fact that made me very very happy, since it’s hands down my favorite fantasy series. For this entry, Steven combines two of my favorite things — 80s era pop and the siren call of procrastination that comes from video games — into an earwormy paean to staring glassily into a computer screen for days at a time. For those of you not up on your 80s pop, you have my pity, and the note that the following ditty is set to this tune.

STEVEN BRUST: Been busy, lately

Your friends are out, but you’re at home
Making desert into loam
Your eyes glaze, your body shakes
Another shield your grassland makes

Corruption hurts efficiency
Better try Democracy.
Workers build, the people feed
Find some food so they can breed.

Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the call, oh yea.
And you’ll go to bed when you’ve built the Great Wall, you know you’re
Gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Civ.

You’ve lost the power of thought and speech
The iron ore is out of reach
The horses run at double time
Upgrade to muskets and you’ll be fine

You must save face
Don’t let the French be first in Space
Bed calls but its no use
Until you can make that bank produce

Whoa, you like to think that your will is completely free, oh yea.
And you’ll stop when you’ve built the Observatory, you know you’re
Gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Civ.

Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ

Your friends are out, but you’re at home
Making desert into loam
You’ll eat some bread and cheese
After two more technologies
Whoa, you like to think that you do it for fun, oh yea.
But you can’t stop till the Hoover Dam is done, you know you’re
Gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Civ.

Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ
Might as well face it you’re addicted to Civ

(Original post, with comments, here)

New Toy

I was not living up to my reputation as a technogeek recently, so I went ahead and got myself one of these:

It’s the Archos 605 WiFi media player, which is basically what an iPod Touch would be if you pumped it full of steroids and took away a lot of its sexy. What it has in common with the iPod Touch is a touch screen, the ability to play music and movies, show pictures and to surf the Web via wifi. What it offers as a premium is significantly better screen resolution (800×480, which is the same resolution as your average TV), a Web browser that can play Flash, a tiny onboard speaker, the ability to stream music and video off your home network, and 160GB of memory, which is 10 friggin’ times what the most expensive iPod Touch offers, for pretty much the exact same price. And — get this — if you spring for a couple of accessories, it turns into a full-fledged DVR. Wacky.

What you don’t get is the multitouch screen (it’s merely single touch), that swoopy thing the iPod Touch does when you turn it, Apple’s general one-touch ease of use, or, of course, the immediate “oh God it’s so hot” technolust thing people get with iPods. I can live with that, however, since the practical benefits to the Archos 605 are self-evident, and I’m enough of a geek that I don’t mind drilling down an extra interface level to play a song. No, it’s not as sexy as an iPod Touch. But I think of it a little bit like the plain Jane who isn’t arm candy, but has a good personality and a nice laugh and then goes home with you and rocks your world.

Which is not to say I wasn’t tempted by the iPod Touch. We got one for my niece recently and before we gave it to her I played with it, ostensibly to stuff it full of music and a couple of movies so she could have fun with it out of the box, but really so I could see if I wanted one for myself. And it is indeed a sweet device, and I indeed wanted one. But before I could stampede headlong to Amazon to buy one myself, I started enumerating the issues: the most memory it has is 16GB, you’re locked into the iTunes closed ecosystem (a problem for me, since I have a Rhapsody subscription), every stupid goateed art-dick has an iPod, and etc. Fact is, at the end of the day, no matter how cool and stylish every Apple product is, I sort of resent that they all drive you to suckle exclusively at Steve Job’s hairy manteat.

The Archos solves that problem for me. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as an Apple product, but it’s a hell of a lot more open, and I can do more with it without having to bow towards Cupertino every time I switch the damn thing on. And it makes me feel geek-smart. The Archos 605 is not a media player for hoi polloi; you’ve got to have at least a smidgen of geek skillz to get the most of it. This pretty much condemns Archos to scrabbling after Apple’s scraps, market share-wise, but I suspect there are enough people like me out there for them to get along fine.

Anyway, that’s the new toy. Fear my geekitude, y’all.