Sulfuro.us

My thoughts, opinions & passions

We need a neutral net

Neutrality

I believe that we need a neutral net—one that is free of bias, blockades and barriers.

Without true neutrality, coercion can influence the path to our goals.

I’ll use the analogy of a library to illustrate my general concerns. The internet is like an infinite library, with shelves for every imaginable topic, so I believe that this analogy bears some merit.

Imagine a library. You decide to explore religion. You go to the religion section, and all major religions are represented, along with many minor ones. There are multiple books on each one, all in good condition, within easy reach. This is a representation of a neutral internet.

Now imagine a different type of library. There are carts blocking the religion aisle. But, on the end of the row, there are new copies of the Gideon bible. They are new because fresh copies are frequently donated to the library. The Gideon organization even pays for special shelving and a colorful sign. If you push the cart aside, you can see other copies of Christian bibles within easy reach, and they are in reasonable condition. The librarian is partial to Christianity, so they place their preference in a prominent location, and they order replacements on a regular schedule. Other religious books are located on higher shelves, requiring a ladder to reach. They are few in number, and they are in poor condition. A note is posted, stating that other books are available, but they take weeks to be delivered, and there is a charge to read them. This is a representation of a net without neutrality.

Which library would you prefer?

If you want to keep our net neutral, contact your congressional representatives and let them know.

Read more about net neutrality here.

A quick laugh

Did you hear about the guys who stole a truck load of Viagra?

The police are looking for a couple of hardened criminals.

You, yes, you…

No Freedom, copyright NSA

…do you value your privacy?

I do.

Quite frankly, there are things that I love that I don’t want anyone to know about. I don’t want you to know how I dance to Katy Perry’s music. Or how I cry when I sing along to “The One That Got Away” with her. Or how she lights up my heart with “Firework.”

It’s none of your business.

But the NSA wants to know. They want to know everything. This isn’t right. I don’t want to be spied on. I want to be free. Free to express myself. Free to express my art. Free to live my life.

From first hand experience, I know how painful it is to have others observe you with a judgmental eye. And if your actions, style, voice and art are a bit too different from their personal preferences, ridicule follows. And it hurts. It is a hurt that kills creativity. A hurt that wounds an artistic soul.

On February 11th, there is a movement. A movement to let our voices be heard. Let congress know that the NSA has went to far. If you care about freedom, add your voice. If enough of us speak from our hearts, they can’t ignore us.

Visit TheDayWeFightBack.org for more information on how to take action.

The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience

The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience

So, I am watching the Electric Daisy Carnival Experience again. It is a live concert documentary on the famous electronic music festival.

And it is amazing.

Which is why I am watching it again.

You get a real feel of the festival. The music, the culture, the event, the performers—are all on display. Costumes, colors, cacophony—all mixed together with care. The documentary shows what happens when people do what they love and love what they do.

And love is the right word. You can sense it every time a DJ spins; every time a dancer dances; every time a singer sings; every time a performer performs.

Music sets are interspersed between conversations with the creators. Or is it that the conversations are interspersed between the music sets? It doesn’t matter. The documentary just flows. Every now and then, you get an insight into the mind of the people making this happen. Then you get the urge to dance with them.

Artistry is in abundance here. Stitches in costumes are well sewn. Greasepaint has been applied with care. Beats bounce into eardrums with precision. It is a spectacle in the best sense of that word.

Positivity, up-beat attitudes, friendships and compassion are in attendance. The other thing that is expressed? Acceptance. Which is wonderful. Everyone seems to fit right in, regardless of gender, age, look, color, creed or composure. I think this is an example for the world at large to follow.

There is wisdom here too. Sage advice on expressing yourself without judgement and using failure to grow. Simple wisdom in letting go of your cares for now, and living fully in the moment of music.

All of the performers have their own unique perspective—yet they all blend together into the the whole that is the festival. For some, it is a party. For others, it is art. For everyone, it is fun.

Whether the air of the festival is filled with lights, confetti, hundreds of huge white balloons or fireworks, you’ll feel the joy. Everything glows with energy. It is something to see.

I wonder how they get it all to come together. So many different artists, each with their own style and habits. Yet you never get a feeling of jealousy or everyone just supports one another. Imagine if the world followed the Electric Daisy Carnival example—what a wonderful world it would be.

I hope to attend the festival someday. I have plenty of simple excuses—no ticket, no money for a ticket, no costume—but these are just excuses. Simple fears that allow me the easy way out. Simple fears that others will look at me, laughing at how I dance. These fears will be overcome. They will run out, and before I know it, I will be standing there, looking at the fireworks. I’ll be there. listening to the music. I’ll be there, experiencing the art. And I’ll be there, dancing to the beat.

Who knows, maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor sooner than both of us thinks is possible.

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm

At BlizzCon this weekend, Blizzard showed the first examples of their forthcoming MOBA style game, Heroes of the Storm.

MOBA games (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are based on DOTA (Defence of the Ancients), which was created by fans of Blizzard’s WarCraft III. It is interesting to see Blizzard add their creativity to a gaming genre that they inadvertently inspired with their own generosity.

WarCraft III included a map editor that allowed gamers to create their own maps. The editor was powerful enough to encourage users to be creative. One of the more popular maps was DOTA, which has since evolved into game genre.

MOBA style games consist of a battlefield with two opposing bases. Two teams, consisting of five members each, fight with individual champions, along three lanes between the bases. Each champion has unique powers and styles. There are champions that are designed for damage output. Some are defenders, able to draw fire and take sustained damage. Support champions help keep others alive, while ability power champions are casters with powerful spells.

Modern versions of the genre are quite popular—the most successful are League of Legends and DOTA 2.

With Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard brings a lot to the virtual gaming table. First, their champions are collected from their various gaming franchises. This causes instant familiarity and support from current fans. Second, Blizzard has wisely chosen to break from the DOTA/MOBA mold with their design choices. This streamlines gameplay and it focuses on what players actually enjoy, which is battle.

A normal DOTA/MOBA game takes anywhere from a half hour (a very short game) to an hour. Average games clock in at forty-five minutes. Heroes of the Storm takes between fifteen and twenty minutes. This will allow players to get in two games in the same time that it would take them to get one LoL or DOTA game played.

An important part of DOTA/MOBA games consists of attacking minions and other players for gold, which is spent at a store. This purchases items that improves the attack and defense capabilities of the champion. Heroes of the Storm eliminates this entirely. Instead, the players focus on map objectives and battles with their opponents. In my opinion, this is a purer way to game, and it keeps the game focused on action, rather than building up your inventory.

Another differentiator in Heroes of the Storm is that maps have unique objectives. Blizzard has created events that can be triggered, which will provide a team with a temporary, but powerful advantage. For example, on Blackheart’s Bay, collecting gold coins can allow your team to bribe the pirate Blackheart to fire the cannons on his ghost pirate ship at the enemy’s base. This attack does significant damage to your opponent’s base.

Going after these unique objectives does divert some of your team’s attention from your primary objective of advancing your lanes towards your opponent’s base. This provides an interesting strategic challenge: do you keep steady pressure going at each lane, or do you risk getting help from the events built into the map?

If the above has you excited, there is also some news that may surprise you. Heroes of the Storm will be free to play. They will sell champion skins and other items to improve the cosmetic look of the game, but you can play without any tactical disadvantage for free. I think that this is a tremendous gift to the gaming community.

I also hope that they release a map editor with Heroes of the Storm. After all, a gaming genre was created with their previous map editor. Two brand new gaming companies exist because of this. Who knows where a new map editor, one with Blizzard’s cutting edge capabilities can take us? I am excited by the potential that this could bring to our community.

Heroes of the Storm doesn’t have a release date yet. Rest assured that I will let you know as soon as they release details.

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