Chinese Farmers and Wal-Mart

The corelation should be obvious. I imagine some people might not even know what I mean by “Chinese Farmers”, though.

The concept of farming in a massivly multiplayer online game is that you kill certain enemies or monsters over and over trying to “harvest” money or specific items. It’s really part of any MMORPG at any given time. You need money or you want a more powerful item, you might farm it. The “Chinese” part comes in with the business built behind selling in-game items and money for real world money. In theory, you hire a handful of cheap workers (hence the China part) and employee them to play the game for hours on end and sell the resulting items to other players. Maybe you are playing World of Warcraft and you need one hundred gold, you can buy it for $40.00 USD for example. Obviously this violates most MMORPG terms of service or end user license agreement. It also may cause problems for people trying to play the game where farmers are at work. I’m not totally convinced it’s a viable business model.

So, the Wal-Mart part is next. There are people who utterly despise Wal-Mart and feel that Wal-Mart is a destructive force that kills small businesses. Wal-Mart moves into a town and wipes out all competition. And the people who utterly hate “Chinese Farmers” will tell you that they ruin the game economy and make the game less fun to play. Neither would be around if there weren’t enough people throwing money at them to be profitable.

Half-Life 2

Half-Life, I never finished. I played some Counter Strike, and some Half-Life Deathmatch. But that was about it. The story never really grabbed me and I probably was playing on the wrong difficulty level. But, that’s all water under the bridge.

Half-Life 2 is a better game. I played it on easy, so sue me. I didn’t really care for the jumping puzzles and I didn’t want to see the normal or hard version of fighting off twenty four soldiers in a courtyard. So, I sat back and just played the game and it was fun. On easy I made progress all the time and it felt more like an interactive movie than a first person shooter normally does. I only had a few reloads where I really screwed the pooch. If you want a good game to play, Half-Life 2 is that. If you want a revolutionary game that will redefine the genre, this isn’t it. The graphics are better, the AI is better, the voice acting is better, it’s all better. But it’s not going to blow your mind, and I don’t think it should.

The plot is pretty good, too, though it does kinda end with an ambiguous situation. I realize it leaves the door wide open for Half-Life 3, but at some point you do want to feel like you figured something out. I’m not up for the X-File jerk-around-a-thon in a game.

Change of pace

I have rarely, if ever, mentioned where I work on this page. I just quit my job, so I might as well. I have been a contractor at IBM for over nine years now. Nine years on a year to year contract. And in that time I have been a team lead, an AIX deskside support technician, a sysadmin, an NLS expert, and Thinkpad support technician. That’s crazy. IBM should have hired me, or dropped my contract a long time ago.

Leaving a work environment like IBM is not easy. IBM makes even the most stable and business worthy companies out there seem like fly-by-night ventures that could go away anytime. IBM is dying from the inside, very slowly. Slow is the key word when I talk about anything IBM does. Slow to innovate and slow to die. That’s not the rule everywhere inside IBM, but in general, that’s all I saw. I worked in a place where managing two hundred users on a print server was prefered to setting up a Windows domain. If it involved something new, it meant having to hire (or keep on) skilled people who could understand the technology. I am really glad to leave that kind of mentality behind. Many times I was denied the option to set up more complicated solutions because no one else where I work could even understand it, much less every fix or maintain it if I were to leave.