Monthly Archives: November 2004


Well the Giftmas season is officially underway. Having participated in “Buy nothing day” was particularly rewarding. On the other hand, I did walk into Best Buy (it was on the way home) to look AT things to purchase, so I don’t know how well I acted in the spirit of the protest.

I did, however do my good deed for the year. I helped some parent find a video game for their child. Then again, their child asked for a DragonBall Z based game, so I don’t know if that counts as a good deed or not.

In my heart of hearts, I wish that the child had asked for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This is so I can tell the parent what the ESRB is and what the game is about. When I worked in retail, I lived for those moments. Educating a parent and crushing a teenager’s video game dreams at the same time? It almost makes me want to work at store 176 again.

Almost. Actually, no. What the hell am I thinking? Oh yeah, the miniscule discount. So. . . No. Never again.

Thanksgiving was spent in the company of friends, if not family. I’m thankful for them.

NaNoWriMo has been a complete disaster. Two years ago, I had an outline of a story that had been in my head for years. This year was a cold start. In all, I think I managed about 12,000 words of scenes of this novel. Which isn’t bad, but it’s still far, far short of the 50,000 needed to make it to the goal line.

Ah well. There’s a lesson here, which is write with a plan in mind.

The other lesson is don’t play lots and lots of video games to “clear your head.”

I’ve beaten Halo 2, Half Life 2, and have two characters up to level 12 in World of Warcraft.

That’s a lot of head clearing. And headshots.

On the other hand, it’s not like I haven’t accomplished anything.


Show me the receipts, and I'll show you the man

I’ve referenced the vast wasteland of my filing and storage “system” before. For those of you that don’t know what that is, here’s a precis:

Once a preset-yet-undetermined number of objects has been reached, I purchase a bankers box, then proceed to put things in it. At that point, I may or may not label it, and place it in a location that may or may not make sense.

I don’t have a name for this process, although Julie has offered the best candidate so far, which is:

“Being a dick to your future self.”

And she is so right.

I count 77 boxes as of this writing. And that count is only based upon boxes that I can see. Also not included are rubbermaid boxes that I borrowed specifically for this move.

I’ve started the process of unpacking / sifting / unearthing, and found a box of credit card statements from 1999 in a box labeled, “FINANCIAL STATEMENTS & STUFF 97 – 02”

I know where I was exactly five years ago today.

I don’t necessarily know what I was doing at those locations, but I do know that I was there.

November 15th. In one day, I managed to make it to the WalMart in Germantown ($73.25), the Toys R Us in Rockville ($95.45), and the Whole Foods-then-Fresh Fields in Tenleytown ($14.96). Astounding, because I don’t have a car. Also astounding because I spent more on consumer items and toys than on actual food.

Other transactions hold other clues to what happened in my life in November of 1999. I visited my cousins in New York City (train ticket purchase) for Thanksgiving. I was also apparently still on the Magic: The Gathering crack wagon, as evidenced by a low dollar purchase at one of the now defunct Wizards of the Coast retail stores.

I can tell who I was dating at the time by atypical purchases at locations like Filene’s Basement. Also indicative of who I was dating at the time is the amount of money spent at restaurants.

My PalmPilot usage was also apparently at an all time high, because I purchased some software for it. Today, I function more with my phone, laptop, the tiny camera, a pen, and 3 x 5 index cards.

Just reviewing these documents at a glance, I can only imagine future archaeologists getting so screwed trying to get a picture of “typical” turn of the century America using my receipts.



I got an email from the Delicious Monster folks. They accidentally left some beta expiration code in Delicious Library, disabling both licensed and unlicensed users. Download it again, and that issue is resolved. While they were at it, they also added the other Amazon DBs.

Yuriko reports a greater accuracy rate with the music collection now that they’ve gotten the hang of scanning, and with the added databases.

I read the help file on the website and it’s well, helpful. I learned you can add multiple DVDs to your library using the option key, which is helpful for a series set.

Delicious Library: kinda gamey, but overall really good

I’ve been hot for the Delicious Library application for a while. I had the chance to play with it over the last two days, and I am grateful to find that my lust was not unwarranted. (Although perhaps, unrequited.)

Truth be told, I have a lot of media. I’ve needed a library like application for a while. I considered a few other applications for the PC. I even had a (software hacked, naturally) cuecat plugged into my PC for a while. I’d look at the cuecat and think to myself, “Wow, if only someone would utilize the power of the internet so that I could keep track of my stuff.”

The cuecat got lonely and depressed from neglect. Desperate, without hope for its future, it decided to end it all by diving headlong into the great forsaken wasteland of my storage system, which is composed of boxes marked “computer hardware,” “miscellaneous miscellania,” and many other descriptive monikers.

Why do I need an application like this? I have many, many games. So many, that I have inadvertently purchased two copies of the same game. Multiple times.

Here’s the setup:

I’m out shopping. I see a game that “I have been meaning to pick up,” and it’s marked down to 50%. “Sure!” I say, “I’ll get it.”

Only to come home and find that I’ve got another copy, (unopened, naturally) in the box designated Theta-A61. Then, it’s back to the store for a return!

I can’t keep track of all of my stuff. There’s only so much storage space in here, and a lot of it is dedicated to multiple story arcs for the novel I’m writing this month and release dates for other games.

Delicious Library is, at its heart, a simple database for you to keep track of your books, movies, music, and games. However, Delicious Monster took what could have been a simple application, and added features that separate it from other library applications.

First off, the interface. I love the interface. The interface is hands down, the best part of Delicious Library. Seeing all of the box art for my DVDs, games, music and books is just great. It’s like looking at a videostore shelf, except everything on it is yours. Of course, if you don’t like the default view, you can always opt to look at your collection in a simple list.

You can also make “Shelves” which are like the playlists in iTunes. You create a shelf, name it, and then put items from your collection on that shelf. For instance, you can make one titled “Family Room” and then put the DVDs that are in your family room on that shelf. This way, you can either browse your whole collection, or just the DVDs you have located in the family room. Very straightforward.

Any product can look up box art and integrate it into their UI. What Delicious Monster has done, is graphically polish their product to a very fine sheen. It’s very slick. When you browse your collection on the “shelf,” light reflects off the “cases.”

That’s love.

Delicious Library also “syncs” to your iPod. What it does is create a text entry for each item in your collection. When you sync, it sends the text files to the notes section of your iPod. The entries are sorted into folders by media type, and arranged alphabetically. In theory, I’ll never buy two of the same item again, provided that I’ve synced my iPod with Delicious Library, and I have my iPod with me while I’m shopping.

There’s also integration with your Address Book which turns Delicious Library into a full fledged er, library application. You can drag an item onto your list of “borrowers” and it will mark that item as “out” with a little yellow flag on the top right corner. It will also add a due date, which defaults to one week from the day you checked it out. When the item is late, it will change the status to “Late!” instead of out with a red flag. When you get it back, you can check it back in.

Entering items into Delicious Library is a fairly simple affair. You can add items manually, or you can have Delicious Library look up data for you from You can search by title, or you can use the iSight to scan a barcode in for you, and then do a search based on that. Certainly saves me from doing a lot of typing, and is a handy feature. It’s a little wonky though, and I’ll get into that in my next section.

This is the first release of this application. As a result, there’s some room to grow.

First and foremost, Delicious Library could link to another database in addition to Amazon. With older games, (and I’m assuming with music) it is near impossible to scan a UPC and get a match. When I do get a match when searching for a title, it’s usually a rerelease with box art that I don’t want. I search for my box art, and replace Amazon’s with the correct box art. (I was bewildered for a bit about how to change the box art, but it’s a simple “drag and drop” affair, after you enter editing mode for the item in question.) I find that I’m doing this about 30%* of the time. On the whole, scanning a upc gets a successful “hit” about 60%* of the time. It’s certainly not the developers fault.

This hit percentage may be a result of my collection being composed mainly of interactive entertainment, or it may be indicative of Amazon’s piss poor “sometimes an ISBN is entered, sometimes it isn’t” policy for games.

Which leads me to my next issue, which is iSight scanning. I think it’s a great feature.

When it works.

The iSight is not a barcode scanner. I do not fault Delicious Monster for this. After all, I have been playing with this application for all of ONE day, and I may not have the optimal lighting conditions or “have gotten the hang of it.” I’ll put the barcode in front of the camera, line it up according to the guides, and about 60% of the time, I’ll get a successful scan. The other 30% of the time, I’m holding a DVD in front of an iSight. The other 10% is me trying to get the barcode in the viewing window. The times that it does scan, it’s accurate. The times that it does scan and get a match on Amazon, it’s like a little angel starts singing in my ear.

I assume that my eardrums would rupture from the sonic ecstasy of heavenly choirs if I got a usb barcode scanner, or the ultra sexy BlueTooth barcode scanner that they mention on their website.

Not wonky, but things I’d like:

Smart Shelves. I’d like to be able to fill a shelf based on certain criteria. Say, “All games for the PlayStation 2.” The application currently allows you to create a shelf, but then you have to populate it manually. For example, you create a shelf for all your PS2 games. You sort the list view by platform and drag all the PS2 games onto the shelf. That’s great, but if you buy a new PS2 game and scan it in, it won’t be on that shelf. It’ll be in your collection, just not on the shelf you marked “PS2 Games.”

I’d also like to be able to tweak the “boxes” a little bit. I’d like to be able to create a “box” that is scaled to match the ratio of the graphic that I’ve picked. All PC games default to the image of a CD jewel case, which squeezes the graphic in a strange fashion. Most PC games come in DVD sized boxes nowadays. I found that changing the format from “CD-Rom” to “video game” puts the box art on a DVD case, which gives the image the correct ratio. Then there’s the issue of “special edition” games that don’t follow the DVD box convention and have even larger boxes to accommodate art books, cloth maps, strategy guides and additional promotional items.

I bought the app. Because it’s great for what I want it to do. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a great sta

And it’s so pretty!

+ Finally have a place to store all those serial numbers for PC games.
+ Did I praise the UI enough?

– Wonky iSight barcode scanning.
– Amazon as the sole DB for information.

= Lawsuit issues aside, why no “Smart Shelves?”
= No “view all collections” option. What if I want to see all of my books, dvds, cds, and games all at once?
= Delicious Library does not remember the values of items you enter often.

Delicious Library: $40
From Delicious Monster
OSX only

* I say “about x%” because I’m not in a laboratory with a clipboard watching a robotic arm pick up DVDs, Games, CDs and Books. This is just a “feels like” percentage. Not that I’m opposed to a robotic arm scanning my collection in for me. Hrm.

Looks Like a job for "Religious Holiday"

Tonight, there are midnight releases for a little Xbox game called “HALO 2,” some of you may have heard of it.

The original HALO was meant for the Mac platform. It followed the Marathon series of games and had many features in common with those earlier games. Both games feature a strong narrative, Artificial Intelligence characters, and a Xenophobic alien race. Not to mention good 3D engines and solid multiplayer gameplay.

Bungie was developing the original HALO for the Mac until they were bought by MicroSoft. Then, nobody had it until it was retooled to be an Xbox exclusive title. Then, they rushed it to meet launch date, and the last few levels suffered for it.

The sequel (also Xbox exclusive) comes out at midnight tonight, at retailers nationwide. Its preorders are estimated at 1.5 million units. 1.5M x $55 = One Metric Fuckton of Money.

I mention this because I’m wondering how many people are going to take the day off tomorrow, or fall ill.

Me? I’ve got this novel to write, although with HALO 2, Half Life 2, and World of WarCraft coming this month, (all one week after another, the 9th, the 16th, and the 23rd) I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

Update: I just did the math. Let’s assume that everyone picks up their copy of HALO 2 tonight. Let’s also assume that people bought the “standard” edition of HALO 2 for $50, and not the “Limited Edition” version for $55. At minimum, HALO 2 will gross $75 million, in ONE NIGHT of sales.

In comparison, the Pixar animated movie, “The Incredibles” opened up last Friday, and in three days, was able to gross $70.6 million.