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News and Illness with “mentor” PG Holyfield

I’ll do the “good” news first.

Since last post, I can now confirm that the Site is safe for the time being.

I was going to wait until I had got everything sorted out, such as sorting out a new theme and a prepared few posts in advanced before I made it. I would have made this announcement in the first post after the last one.

Now, with house keeping out the way. I’m going to jump straight in to a spontaneous post.

PG Holyfield’s Illness

It was announced over the weekend, that a fellow author PG Holyfield has got terminal cancer. It came out of the blue, but then it was also for everyone else. Apparently, he was feeling fine over a month ago, until he felt slightly ill.

My “break” if called that, was with PG Holyfield’s Murder at Avedon Hill audio book at Podiobooks.com. I only got a few lines in the last episode. I’ll freely admit I don’t really know him personally. I did work for him without any compensation, I do appreciate his professional work. I wrote a pamphlet compared to his juggernaut of a novel.

Before I leave, I’m going to link to his Game of Thrones Podcast which will tell you everything. and one of PG’s Friends Tee Morris, who told me via this post. (Tee’s Language can be considered NSFW.)

So long, you’re going to be missed, mate.

I’m not dead….

OK, it time to make a choice..

I need to do stuff pay for the bills. This website being one of those bills.

But how….

Well, the novel Acacia’s Silence is taking her time.. I don’t think I can be ready for September, if I’d choose to release it for then.

As for other things.. I really need to work out what to do.

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Patreon

All three are very nice payment systems to earn money, but I have do issues with using them at this moment in time.

But Kickstarter and Indiegogo are pay now to get your main product later. I’d could run one with Acacia’s Silence, it would mean that I don’t need to worry about the bills in the short term. One issue would be Perk offerings. While I can offer “Character Slots” in the Acacia’s Silence, that you can name, which would cost me nothing to offer, as I need these Characters naming, and I’d be creating these Characters myself. These would be limited, which I believe I could do with both systems. Another issue is I really don’t know what I should offer as a “instant” reward, as most successful versions of these do give away something on the day of paying up.

Patreon charges you and pays me when ever I release content, up to a monthly limit, set by you. The issue is this is that I’m not sure what content to give out and when. I could release the Acacia’s Silence chapters in “work-progress” stage. But I’ve got issues with it, the Early chapters are currently being completely re-written, so I’d be releasing it on a slow rate until reach parts which is near complete.

There is “The Fall” which is also incomplete, which could be released as exclusive bonuses for all three payment systems. But really, I don’t think it’s worth it in the current state it is in.

There are also some Legal issues that may hinder me in the long term, mainly due to exclusive rights being no longer available. I really don’t want go in to detail about this in the blog.

However, all three payment systems bring up one issue: What short term content are people are wanting to see?

Short Term Plans

Well, In a few weeks the site hosting has to paid or pulled. My Twitter account and Youtube account will be working, as with a future Facebook page. The content here I can backup and restore somewhere else, if this site is pulled.

Before the date the site may be pulled, I’d need to work out a plan to last me at least a year.

At the time of writing, there is not enough time to do a funding campaign before the site expires. Money, I can spend my own to pay for it, but since I’ve not updated the site for two years, I need to work out what I’m doing with this site here.

Mike Sharpe Writer at i46

Apologies for  the lack of updates.. I’ve had plans to do something. I’ll let you guys know about it later.

For the next Few days I will be in the KritzKast Clan Box at i46. I should get more updates. But there is a USA VS European event for TF2 there.. I may also release some info of something over the next few days..

I properly will do a Video Vlog in about 24 hours.

Also.. I think my Kyboar is brokn.. Svral lttrs stopp rsponing..

Mike Sharpe on SOPA/PIPA

First, I am not a US Citizen, but my server and my “clients” are in the US. A the moment SOPA and PIPA “clauses” hardly affect me, but this would be hard if I moved my server to the UK.

I am not a lawyer, so what information I have found is not always understandable, therefore I may not learn what it really means. The good news is I did some reading up on laws given that I have several scenes taking places in a fantasy world’s court, so I had to some research in the area.

My stance, Well, kinda on the fence.

Internet piracy not good for the people who products are being “stolen.” As someone who effectively sells on the net, I want to know if my stuff isn’t being given away for free. I am not a supporter of Internet piracy. I however don’t support the ways they’re doing it, and their definition of pirate.

Issue 1: DNS or site domain name

SOPA and PIPA both tackle this issue by blocking US customers from visiting the domain of the offending site outside the US. Three example domain names are MikeSharpeWriter.com, bbc.co.uk and google.com.

Casual users would be blocked, but what if I told you all that all they did was remove the site from the directory? Well, that is exactly what the law does. Several Online Gamers and Many technical minded people already know of several ways around this. The gamers use them to connect to temporary servers for their games, the technical minded people they use this information to build the internet.

Quick tech lesson: When you type an address, for example: Google.com, in to your web browser, your computer will go and ask a Domain Name Server (DNS) for which computer it’s on. All computers online have a IP address to identify it, like this 123.123.123.123, and can only find each other using it. The DNS will look it up and send back an IP Address, using Google as example, 74.125.224.72. (Click on it and you’ll see it will bring you to Google.)

  1. By typing in the IP address, you by pass all DNS and access the site “normally.” You may get scuppered due to the way the site is coded, but then it’s not much for a programmers perspective to allow longer use of IPs.
  2. DNS outside the US do not have to, or required to remove their entry for a website. You can force your computer to use a certain DNS, which doesn’t have to be in the US. So you can by pass the “affected” DNS. Someone has created a plug-in for Firefox checks several DNS and tries to give the correct site: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/desopa/

My Impression is that this is more of less a waste of time and man power, as many of the technologies that the pirates use already either support first workaround, or use it already.

There is ability to already ban certain web pages with in a country.

EDIT: I read that they’ve removed this part in the proposed acts. Countries that actually do this thing include China and Iran, who are known for not having free speech.

Issue 2: Advert removal

Most sites have adverts on them, which provides a bit of funding. A second step force Advert companies to cancel their funding contracts for an Offending site. The aim is to force the pirates be unable to pay their server fees.

Companies can already do this based their topics.

Well, Some people will use non-US based Advert companies, who can’t be forced to cancel their contracts, again cancelling out the loss.

Sadly, this is the only one that seems to have any real effect and generally are more disastrous than not.

Issue 3: Search engine removal

Forcing Google and other search engines to not display an offending result, will have an effect, but not what the Law makers are expecting. Except it’s already available to many companies.

Most Sites that “host” questionable material are either on US soil and current laws already in effect, or hosted on elsewhere. If you can get on the site, you can effectively search for the offending material using their sites own engine.

It may kill YouTube, (which US based) but there are several Video sharing sites, which includes Japan’s Nico Nico Douga, can host content with may be offending content with little trouble.

Issue 4: Who’s going to use it?

Well, anyone who can. Most likely People who are “interested” in keeping their copyright safe from people, and can afford to file the legal paper work and gather evidence. The only place I know can that is in Hollywood. And wording is so Vague that anyone can shut down any site with no real proof.

Strange thing is they’re already can do this on certain sites, such as youtube which is known for holding questionable content.

They already have many things to use against sites. The Biggest is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is forces offending users to remove content within a certain time period or face going to court. I will publicly remove any offending items if and when I receive it.  I would actually contact the person and try to find what is offensive and why I must remove it. If ZeniMax sent me an email stating that I should shut down, I’d seriously question it. (For those who aren’t aware, ZeniMax own indirectly id Software, who makes Quake, who’s code is part of the Half life 1 & 2 engines. Since this the first time I mention their software, I’d seriously question it.)

With many gaming developers rejecting it’s not as believe it or not, it affects their sales. While they’re the “victims” that the acts are for, it’s not going to be good for their fans who are undecided on their games.

Is there an other ways to combat Piracy?

Instead of Punishing people for using content, I find that a lot of people will pay a money for good products, provided they are the right price.

I know that most gamers will buy games if they can, if it’s affordable. Currently there are several Movies that I have to pirate. No UK distributor has released certain Pokémon Movies, there is no legal means to obtain them other than video recording them off the TV if they’re shown.

Naruto and Bleach two of Japans biggest Animes at the moment are shown online a little while after their Japanese airing with English subtitles. Before this several Popular “fan dubs” translated the show in to English, to allow the current fans to be up to date. In the UK, neither show has been shown on TV for a few years, but that hasn’t prevented Bandai Namco selling several games in the UK. These games are based on episodes only premièred in Japan since the Last UK TV showing of Naruto. The DVD is available for those who can afford it.

I know that many Game companies enjoy the free advertisements given by sites like Twitch TV and Own3d TV. Actually some game companies even add function to create Videos in their games.

The Proposed Acts in it’s current form could lead to serious trouble as there is a little too much power for a group of people who almost own two networks in the US already.

I’m against SOPA and PIPA in their current forms.

Portal 2's Chell stands next to Half Life 2's Alyx Vance (By NRApros of Facepunch, with GMod)

Half life 2: Episode 3 – January 2012 (Part 1)

Portal 2's Chell stands next to Half Life 2's Alyx Vance (By NRApros of Facepunch, with GMod)

In the Episode 7 of ASEMBLE, Myself, Codename and Zbot talk about a lot of Half Life 2: Episode 3 or Half Life 3 (We’re assuming the game will be under one of these two names.) It’s been over 4 years since the announcement of this game. I’ll explain why I’ve created this article in Part 2.

Note: I often will reference games via their “subtitle” only. e.g. Opposing Force is for Half life: Opposing Force. Often when I mention Episodes without a number, I will usually mean both of released games with the Episode titles.

WARNING!! THIS ARTICLE WILL SPOIL THE STORY OF THE CURRENTLY RELEASED HALF LIFE GAMES AND PORTAL GAMES.

Continue reading

By one of these Cherub Brooch today!

Buttons & Sales

Buy one of these Cherub Brooches today!

Most days I’m surrounded by buttons. Well, I’ve got over a hundred in front of me now. Most of them are the keys in my keyboard. But then when you’re a Tech writer, you need those 100 buttons. In today’s world, chance is that you’ll press nearly a thousand buttons in a day. I admit I just made that number up, but it not a joke, when you more than likely will have press 30 buttons to get to this site.

When I’m not writing, My “day” job is to help Susan Sharpe Ceramics, by doing some of the more heavy lifting and boring work. She makes Buttons for jumpers and cardigans. She also makes other items such as Brooches.

Well, until Sunday Evening all Brooches for sale have 10% of normal Price. And I will personally pack it for you. All you need to do is buy it from Susan Sharpe Ceramic’s Esty Store.

You’ll still be able buy it after the Sale, but you’ll need to buy full price.

Yes, Susan Sharpe Ceramics will ship to International Customers, but remember that if you want a Christmas present, you do need to Order soon!

Pirates

Ok, Today is Talk like a Pirate day.. arr!

I hope that’s enough to fill the contract. Last yar, I mean, Last year I wrote a short story under the name of Magical Pirates. Today, would have been a good time to release it, but it was very rough when I sent it off. I’m planning to a Really big re-write on it, this time under the name of “Gold Detector.”

I’ve wrote it part of the Tales of the Soju Masters’ World, but since it’s set so far away, I can really argue it’s not part of the world. (Well, Only one character is from Soju Masters is also in Gold Detector, and then she’s changed a lot. She was a child in one The Fall, and a Old woman in Gold Detector.)

Recent News

In Recent News, there have been reports of Riots in the Cities of England. Manchester is not exception. BBC News can cover this news better than I can. Also the next closest city, Liverpool is not safe, too.

I’ve got some good news, I’m as far away from Manchester as I can get and yet be in Greater Manchester, which also places me outside Merseyside which contains Liverpool.

Now I do go to Manchester occasionally, as my NaNoWriMo meet ups are in the city centre. If you read 2001: A Big Nutter Oddity, you will know that I spent most of a fortnight living in the city centre, well, almost exactly 10 years ago.

My mother having been to Manchester Metropolitan University and once had a Job in the city centre, has been shook up by the news and images of familiar places being damaged.

I’m safe… I just thought you guys may want to know that.

Google+

I’ve recently got invited to Google+, and as a result I found out about the +1 icons do. If you don’t know what one is: Look at the Top Right Bottom of this post.

I won’t really be following the data outside the Public Visible Number. Anyway, I don’t like email spam, I’m sure you don’t like it either.

I’ll be doing something soon.. keep an eye out for something before the month is out.

More free games out

Which games that are being promoted after 4 years of release…?

World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XI?

… And Not a MMO? Or have a Sequel?

The only one I can think of is Team Fortress 2.

This week they’ve about to do something that many companies would never do. Release a completely new Promotional Video for a product that is already been out, for over 3 and half years.  (Actually, PC and Macs TF2 all official updates are required to play online, as all players can get the new items.)

Games are usually do not get promotional material produced after the games release. If they do, it’s usually released with in a few weeks of release. Most Games have promotional Material well before the release date. The only exception for this is a video being released as part of the warm up as part of a update pack, which it is. The first Team Fortress 2 Trailer was about 7 years before the release of the game, but that was for an unreleased version of the game.

The first Trailer for the game we recognise today, was released about 5 years ago. They’ve got most of the building blocks in place, but there are many obvious differences, most classes’ outfits don’t match their release day outfits. Also many weapons changed since that video. It was a montage run down of all the classes, with some action, on familiar map called 2fort. It was first shown to the public over a year before the game was released.

The second Trailer, a few months after the first, used more “correct” models, but still used the test version of 2fort. It was before the Voice Actors had been hired so, stock sound effects was used. The infamous Wilhelm Scream was even used several times. (This Scream has been used in the Star Wars films, but it was used in many cowboy films before that.)

With a few months to go, they made “Meet The Heavy”, which was a short Video of an interview with The Heavy Weapons Guy. It was soon joined after with “Meet The Soldier,” in which The Soldier gave a speech to his Squad. The video featured a “story line” of a battle, which was inserted in to the video. While a single scene “Meet The Engineer” Video was added before the game launched in to a Public Beta.

Just before the Game was officially released, “Meet the Demoman” was released. It featured a part which was bleeped out. Many Games would now to trailers of actual game footage, and then start of the next game. Valve didn’t, they added the Gold rush update which added new Medic items. Along with the Update, they released a new Video to go along side this update, “Meet The Scout.

Meet the Sniper” added just before next Game content update, known as the Pyro Update. With exception of The Soldier, all the classes’ talked to camera in an interview, and featured the class winning in battle, in their style.

The 3rd major update, The Heavy Update, brought a new twist, “Meet The Sandvich.” The Sandvich was initially a Prop for Meet the Scout, but was now an unlockable weapon. The Video was set inside, presumably, the RED team’s Fridge, and “showed” the effects of it being used on the Heavy, off camera, outside the Fridge. The Video even had the marks that all the TF2 videos have.

After skipping an update, the 5th major update, The Spy VS Sniper, revealed Meet the Spy. This Video featured a scene, staring BLU team and a Red Spy at work. As with previous videos, it featured a few hints about the next update. Several hats where hidden in the background, the entire set of new sniper weapons where shown in the background. The Spy’s Disguise used in the Video used the Scout’s unlock weapon, which prior to the update it was not possible to appear to have unlock weapons as a spy.

Due to the video being Leaked a few days before, Valve re-did the video’s opening scene, and awarded themselves a Corporate “Achievement.” (The games awards you with a “achievement” for doing a specified task.) The Official TF2 Blog featured Robin Walker, the one of the Lead Creators of the game firing almost everyone and hiring them again.

That brings us up to date for the Meet the Team Videos. Valve made a few TF2 Videos to tease us. The Engineer Teaser, and The Mac Trailer both showed new items that later appeared in the game. Valve referenced the Apple Computer logo, and the “white ear buds” made famous by the iPod. Both Videos showed items that later appeared in game.

Valve made 3 games since Team Fortress 2 launched, all 3 featured one FMV, and in the case of Portal 2 several Videos for in game screens. For Portal 2 Valve created a series of short Videos, which were made to appear to be a corporate video for investors or Potential Customer of Products that only exist in game, such as the Aperture Science Sentry Gun.

If you’ve enjoyed the videos, and you now want to play the game? For the next few days, you can play for FREE forever. I should point out that the game needs large download of over 8 Gigabytes before you can play, but Steams built in download manager helps you out. There are few things you can’t do if you don’t buy a Premium account (by purchasing any item in game).

There even two other free games which you can get hats for TF2 in. Both Alien Swarm and Spiral Knights feature hats and stuff. Spiral Knights runs under the Free to play Scheme, in which you can pay to counter a “slow” recharging energy meter. Alien Swarm due to legal issues can’t be sold for money.

Normally, I’d post a Video explaining the basics of the game here, but I’m working on that now.

While you wait, here’s Steam Basics again, which you if you don’t understand, you can’t get the game. Although you just need to use Team Fortress 2 instead of Portal on the store page. If you like the look of Portal, there is a demo available, and you can buy both games in several packs.

In the words of the Fab 4: "PaperBack Writer..!"