Just the words Kate wanted to hear. . . "StarCraft 2".

StarCraft 2 LogoComputer gaming is one one of my hobbies. It’s a hobby I don’t frequently talk about here because the readers of this blog (all 5 of you), for the most part, couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the topic. So 4 out of the 5 of you can now tune out. . . now.

My computer gaming habit was probably formed way back in the days of Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo Entertainment System. But it was cemented by Blizzard Entertainment and their real-time strategy creation, StarCraft. StarCraft was released way back in 1998. It was followed by several other Blizzard products, but fans of the original game have been dying for news of a sequel.

This weekend, StarCraft 2 was announced, and geeks everywhere sat up and took notice. The screen shots and cinematic that Blizzard released this past weekend have geeks everywhere wanting to get our grubby mitts on the game. There is no scheduled release date yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they push for a Christmastime release. I think Santa knows what will be on my list.

5 Years!

Kate and I celebrated our 5th anniversary this weekend the way we celebrated our wedding – with a softball game! We threw in some burgers, dogs, our families, and some of our closest friends. We can’t speak for anybody else, but we had a terrific time. The softball series is now tied 1-1, with my team posting a convincing victory, setting up the need for a rubber match in several years. Kate’s team was beleaguered by injuries and no-shows, and even the addition of the youngest and most athletic player available mid-game (my brother Murray) wasn’t quite enough to put them over the top.

I took all of three pictures, so I don’t have any photographic evidence of the beautiful weather, fantastic park, the yummy food, or the fantastic company. If anybody else happened to snap some shots, send them my way and I’ll post a few. Otherwise, you’ll have to take my word for it. Thanks to everybody who played, and everybody who showed up, and for all the people (especially our parents) who contributed and made the day a success.

Our anniversary was actually 10 days ago. I should have said something then, but wanted to wait to bundle it with the softball post. I’m not normally prone to sentimentality and schmaltz. That being said. . .

These first 5 years of marriage have been a whirlwind. We had 3+ lovely years of just the two of us, and now we have another family member who has brought so much joy into our lives, it’s hard to even remember what life was like without him. Kate has been everything I could have hoped for in a spouse during these first 5 years, and I’m not sure I tell her enough how much I love and appreciate her. What better way to say it than on a blog, right? Well, she knew the geekdom she was marrying into.

I love you, Kate. Here’s to 5 great years!

Honoring the Collegiate Times

In the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech, there was A LOT of media coverage. When I initially wrote about my feelings on the event, I mentioned how it was too soon to talk about certain aspects, namely the media’s coverage and how the university handled the situation. I’m going to use this post to briefly address both of these items, and hopefully end on a positive note.

There was a ton of media coverage of the event. In fact, when my family was down to move Murray out, nearly a full month later, they were interviewed by a reporter for a west coast newspaper (I can’t remember which one). By all accounts, the days on campus following the shootings were chaotic, to say the least. There were good and bad aspects of the media’s coverage. As an alumni, the worst by far was the bloodthirsty attack on the university administration and university police. These two groups were pounced upon by local and national media alike, and the vilifying and scapegoating began.

Many (though certainly not all) students and alumni like me were horrified. Was this really the time for finger-pointing and accusations? Couldn’t we have a few weeks, or even days to grieve the loss of our brothers and sisters? Couldn’t we have some time to remember those who were lost, and the countless gifts they may have given to Virginia Tech and the world? The Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff spoke for many alumni who couldn’t speak when they gave President Steger a long, loud, and unspeakably touching ovation when he took the podium at the convocation. They said so much with that ovation. We support you. We appreciate you. Hang in there – it’s tough, we know.

It hurt me so much when someone I was speaking to on April 17 spoke disparagingly of the University, going so far to refer to the administration and police as the “keystone cops”. Certainly when an event of this magnitude happens, questions will be asked, and rightfully so. There will apparently be a full examination of how events on the 16th were handled, and they are absolutely correct to do so. But to begin a witch hunt when there were so many other facts that needed to be reported was irresponsible, and the members of the press who took part in it should be ashamed.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are journalists out there – young and upcoming journalists – who reported with professionalism. The Collegiate Times, the Virginia Tech student newspaper, contained some of the best and most informative writing regarding the tragedy. And it hasn’t just been Internet opinion-hacks like me who have noticed. The Burlington Free Press wrote this article regarding the Collegiate Time’s journalism, and this article from Editor & Publisher went so far as to mention them in the same breath with the Pulitzer prize. I’m sure that other people also noticed.

So my hat is off to the journalism provided by the student newspaper at Virginia Tech. They were a beacon of light during a dark couple of days and weeks. A bit dramatic? Yeah, definitely. But it doesn’t make it any less true.

I don’t even know what to say about this.

Photo from ParentdishI browse through a number of blogs, one of which is Parentdish. They are one of many blogs that are a part of Weblogs, Inc., which is owned by AOL. Today I stumbled upon an article regarding the questionable safety of plastic toys. I’m sure that what I should really be concerned about is the danger that these toys post to my son and to other kids (but somehow, I’m really not). Instead, what I AM concerned about is how the blog TOTALLY STOLE ONE OF OUR PHOTOS RIGHT OFF OF FLICKR! I give you Exhibit A. Exhibit B, to the right, is the picture that I “stole” from Parentdish. Which I don’t feel at all bad about because basically I’m just TAKING IT BACK.

Re-reading that first paragraph, it sounds way more outraged than I actually feel. I’m actually a little bit flattered that some graphic artist grunt felt that a picture taken by Kate (I think) deserved to be featured on this post. I can’t be too upset, because I have definitely lifted photos and pictures off the Web before. Usually interest images like Transformers, or the VT logo, or any number of different things. However, if I take a photo, I generally try to give the original photographer some credit, if I know who that photographer is. The big difference here as that Music-Slave.com is not run for profit. Parentdish is. Somebody needs to sit down with their staff and explain what the “All Rights Reserved” marking on Flickr means.

I absolutely would not have minded giving Parentdish permission to use this photo. However, it would have been nice to have been asked. It would have been even nicer to see some credit given. You know, like they give to organizations with clout.

So, gentle reader, here is your opportunity to tell me I’m off my rocker. Am I overreacting? Am I a hypocritical moron who should just let it go? Or am I justified in my semi-outrage? Leave a comment and I’ll take your feedback into account as I draft my lawsui. . . er. . .write my email to Weblogs, Inc.

UPDATE: Weblogs Inc./AOL was extremely responsive. The photo now has appropriate credit given, and the image is linked to the original Flickr photo page. I also received a very nice email from Kristin, the author of the original post, explaining the mix-up and offering her sincere apologies. Thanks to all the folks at Weblogs Inc./AOL for their professionalism and quick response.