Random Friday: >observer_, cats, & meetings

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Random pic from Assassin’s Creed: Origins

And the winner is… The Washington Post!

…for the absolutely most annoying paywall in journalism. Maybe on the internet, period.

I’m a bit of a news junkie. I try to take breaks, because seriously, you just have to take breaks… but it’s hard, sometimes. When I’m in full-on junkie mode, I read a story over here, and then go looking for coverage there, there, and there. I check to see what CNN says, what Fox says, what the NYT says, what the BBC says, what NPR says, what CSM says… what the local newshounds say… you get the picture. If I’m interested, then I want all of the perspectives, every scrap of info that I can easily find. The idea of only getting my news from one source makes me itchy and irritable. Why would you do that? I mean, really — are you comfortable believing everything that one source tells you is true? I’m certainly not.

In my meanderings, I’ve run into WaPo’s paywall time and time again. It’s changed a bit over time, too, and it’s more annoying now than it was before. You could generally read a few things a day, and then an overlay used to pop up to tell you that you needed to subscribe to read more. Lately, though, I can read the first paragraph or so, and then the rest of the story is under an overlay. Which feels more shady. Suck ’em in, then demand money. Like a drug dealer. No, thank you.

I get why. I do. That doesn’t make it any less annoying.

“Democracy dies in darkness.” And also under paywalls.

Observer (or >observer_)

I spent some time with Observer last week, an indie title from the Layers of Fear peeps — something you could figure out on your own, if you’ve played Layers of Fear. Though Observer is a dystopian cyberpunk nightmare, some bits have strong similarities to Layers of Fear. And that’s a good thing.

The protagonist is police detective Daniel Lazarski, an “observer” who can literally interrogate you from the inside. He can jack right into your mind and read your memories and fears. Creepy much? But Lazarski doesn’t come across as a power-mad jackboot who actually enjoys his job; he’s an aging, world-weary guy who just seems like… well, a nice guy. A nice guy who happens to be stuck with a really creepy job.

Observer is essentially a mystery that needs solving. Investigate crime scenes and the places they lead you to, question people, interrogate other people from the inside, and deal with the physical side effects of all that tech wired into your body. Going into people’s heads is a trip, in more ways than one. I mean, think about it — what would jacking into somebody’s head actually be like? Probably not a nice, clean room with all of their memories alphabetized and stored neatly in filing cabinets. Things get funky, and that’s where the similarities to Layers of Fear creep in.

Lazarski is voiced by Rutger Hauer, who does a great job making the detective sound believable and human. He’s a working Joe who’s well aware of how horrible the world has become, and he’s just trying to do his best.

Observer’s tone ranges from gritty to desperate to paranoid to sad to funny to worried to terrified to shocked… heck, there’s just a whole lot of humanity here. Though you spend a lot of time in the stifling confines of a tenement building, you still get the sense that you’re playing in an actual world — one that’s both unfamiliar and totally recognizable at the same time. You’re mostly alone, but there are people all around you, hiding behind locked doors. Peering out at you. Talking to you from inside their sad little homes. It gets to the point where interacting with someone in the flesh suddenly seems strange and unnerving.

If you liked Layers of Fear… if you like cyberpunkian dystopias… or heck, if you just really like Rutger Hauer… give Observer a look.

Cats.

I like cats, but they drive me crazy, and I know they do it on purpose.

The spousal unit’s cat has been trying to kill me for years… or, failing that, to get me in trouble, presumably so I’ll get kicked out of the house. He lies about whether or not I’ve fed him, complains about fictional mistreatment that supposedly happened while the spousal unit was out of the house, and tries to trip me at every possible opportunity — but only when the spousal unit isn’t looking. He’ll come into my office, sit down, and just stare at me. Threateningly.

When I’m watching a movie or playing a game, he’ll start howling like he’s in pain to lure me into the hallway. Once I’m there, he keeps doing it, walking head down, sort of slowly ambling along, still wailing. Of course, he moves just fast enough to stay ahead of me, and once we get into the kitchen, suddenly he’s fine. He straightens up, quits making those noises, sits down by his bowl, and looks at me expectantly. “Hey, since you’re here, why don’t you give me more food, you waste of space?” He’s a dick.

And no, you patsies, there’s nothing wrong with him. The spousal unit takes that cat to the vet every time he sniffles. He’s fine.

Holy… Now! Just now, I went into the bathroom and that cat was sitting in the tub. Staring. He likes to drink out of the faucet, you see. So I try to be nice and turn the water on for him (just a tiny drip), and he spazzes out and goes running away from me, like, “OMFG DAD, she tried to DROWN ME!!!”

Dick.

AR stickers: Star Wars & Star Wars. Is that meta, or just nerdy beyond belief?

Season breaks are stupid.

So, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. M’kay. Is anyone else feeling a little, “Don’t these people ever get a day off?!” about this season? I mean, holy time-traveling hell. Action is good, moving things forward is good, sure, yes… but I feel like I need to stop and catch my breath, and the season just freaking started.

It also feels like we’re sort of skimming over this whole, “Destroyer of Worlds” thing. Yeah, people keep mentioning it, but no one’s stopped to say, “Wait a minute, guys. Daisy apparently destroyed the world. Shouldn’t we, I dunno… maybe discuss that a bit? Just a little?”

Over on Runaways, the parents are more sympathetic by the week, and that’s kind of pissing me off. In most cases, I’d think that was a good thing, but here? Not so much. I’m finding that I really just kinda want them to be bad guys.

I’d like to talk about some other shows, except they’re all on hiatus. I hate that.

Riverdale, though… I’m still irked by Riverdale’s solution to the Black Mask killer. “It absolutely can’t be him. OMG it’s him! Wait… who is that guy, again?” Seriously? It felt rushed and half-assed and wrong. This is why I sometimes think that this whole concept of a mid-season finale can be a bad thing. Sure, sometimes they’re spectacular. Other times, it really seems like the pressure to go into the break with a bang leads to sub-par results.

Meetings are also stupid.

Who likes meetings? Almost nobody, that’s who. Anyone who actually enjoys meetings is either working for a business that exists on an alternate Earth, is one of those people who just loves an audience (and the sound of their own voice), or really likes to throw their weight around.

If you enjoy meetings because your workplace has somehow managed to make them useful, productive, and fun, then I don’t want to hear about it. Leave me to wallow in my misery.

Take today, for example. Somebody scheduled a meeting for reasons that were unclear to me. A decision needed to be made. The product owner just… you know, needed to make it. But somebody had an agenda, I suppose, and agendas mustn’t be wasted, so we had to sit around for an hour while they went over the same points twenty times. And then twenty times more, because I-don’t-talk-about-fantasy-football-much guy wouldn’t a) listen or b) use logic and kept saying the opposite of whatever we’d just discussed.

Luckily, a co-worker gave me a bottle of wine for the holidays. Wine is totally a solution for meetings.

I liked Job Simulator and Order Up!, but if someone makes a VR meeting simulator, I may have to get medieval on their asses.

Unless it’s really, really funny.


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