Saturday, 31 March 2012

The week I broke again

So it finally passed: the bigger deadline of the ones I've had to deal with recently, thus ending 3 solid weeks of stress and heavy workloads. Between last-minute philosophy essays, company promotion videos and this latest horror, I've had just about the hardest month of my academic career - and I doubt I'll get much out of it to show for it.
                First came the essay, a 3,500 word thing with an open question (well, it was more an instruction: to create your own question adhering to Film and Philosophy and then answer it with as much depth and understanding as you can). This I only found out about 2 days before it was due in, while I was back home for a couple days for my sister's birthday. It was horrible, discovering I had to do this with less than 48 hours until the deadline, I had been working on another project for the course instead and had no idea that I had sort of mixed the two together without knowing of the existence of the first one. This I got lucky with, insomuch as I was able to cobble together a half-arsed question on a disturbingly wide topic and locked myself in my room to finish it. I broadcasted the whole thing on, which, as it turns out, as a godsend. I had 64 people watching me over the course of those 7.5 hours and each one seemed to spur me on, to help me get it done, and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart, whoever you all were.
                I'm still awaiting the grade for this essay, and while I'm not nervous I'm not expecting a high grade for it. If I make a mid-low 2.2 I'll be happy. A 3rd will be acceptable, necessary, even, as punishment for my foolishness. Lower and, well, I'll have to start again. At least I have that option...
                Then came a project totally unrelated to university. I had recently been picked up as a consultant for a management training company. It was my job to help their advertisement manager in creating a series of promo videos to help promote their company, something they had apparently never thought of doing in their last 30 years of business. The business is located in Ross, the man I'm working with in London, and I'm in Bristol. I've never even met the man, and I've been the company a couple of times but I still, at heart, have no idea what happens there. This all made the task of creating a video very difficult. He didn't want it to look like a cheesy and stereotypical advert, no clips of people in charge of teams of bankers, no camo-clad missionaries running through forests and solving puzzles, hell, he didn't even want any speaking. What I managed to build for him over the course of a couple of days was instantly scrapped for containing parts of each of these things. In return, I asked him what the hell he did want and he gave me a script and a selection of pictures taken from Google and said "do this". So I did.
                While it's not the most amazing of things, I find it quite a triumph. I worked on it for three solid days before it was due to be shown this just-passed Monday. It features a quiet heartbeat sound track overlaid on some text with the occasional inspiring or thought-provoking image fading to-and-from shot. Simple stuff. Took a f***ing eternity to edit... But hey, the stuffy exec-types apparently enjoyed it and I was sent an e mail of thanks telling me to re-edit it. If that makes sense to you, please explain it to me...
                Finally came this week's major horror. I knew about the project for a long time, had even been working on it since December, but things never work out just how we want them, do they? With the madness of the last three cramped-up assignments I had lost all will to finish the project and wound up, yet again, mere days away from the deadline with the whole thing to do. After a rush of getting together a script for the machinima I would make, I sent it off to my tutor for a review and began filming. The response took a long while to get back. After confirmation and editing, I spent a harrowing 14 straight hours switching back and forth between filming, scripting and editing, until, when dawn broke and the hour struck 8, I was done. I hadn't slept or ate in days and I was exhausted, but finally I handed the work in and all was done with.
                I later discovered I may not have done the work right, either, despite confirmation. So I'm not holding out for a good grade with that one.
                Today's blog is somewhat short and rather boring and whiny compared to the last few, so I'm sorry about that, but I'm working on a "Whatever comes to mind first" basis, so yeah. Hopefully something better next time... Still, I can say that after the whole event I am feeling reinvigorated and very good, I needed the purge I got from all that heavy burden and lack of sleep, the last few days have been wonderful and heaped in respite. Hopefully this high will last.
                Thanks for reading. And thanks again if you happen to have been one of the people who helped me out on my work. It's unlikely, but I still owe you a big one!

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Omegle Apocalypse

Two days ago my housemate and I were having a quiet evening of films and Fringe while waiting out the inevitability of time, as you do. Since neither of us owns a hard copy of Fringe, we watch these episodes on my laptop connected through the television in our living room, a handy and simple setup that grants me endless hours of entertainment because it means that between each episode he (and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the room at the time) are held captive to seeing whatever I'm doing on the computer during this time. Usually this just involves showing amusing gifs or images I had found on the internet, YouTube videos that have recently caught my attention or the odd track of music I think will piss them off sufficiently, but on this Saturday my will found me instead ignoring his viewership in favour of me returning to /b/.
                If you don't know what that is, I'm not going to tell you. I'm not going to inform you how to going about finding it. I'm sure that enough people will be sufficiently angry that I have even mentioned it in this public space, but as a semi-firm believer in the rules I will not go into further detail about it here. I will, however, tell you about an amazing thing we saw on there.
                My eye was passing over posts as it usually does when a small image caught my attention, nothing big, or gaudy, or particularly attractive, just a simple rectangle of white with a few lines of text upon it and a picture down the bottom. The text concerned the chatroom website Omegle. The image was a shotgun. Ordinarily these two things have little-to-no interest for me, I hate Omegle with a passion that can only be measured in the energy expenditure of suns and to me guns are just about the worst human invention since people, but nevertheless I clicked it and before me sprang the full image, in a size I could read. The image explained the rules of a new game, entitle "Omegle: Chat with Zombies", a very simple but ultimately enslaving concept that resulted in the two of us switching between watching and playing for hours.
                The rules are simple: zombies are overrunning Omegle, it is your job, as a /b/rother, to try and survive as long as you can against the hoards. You are given a shotgun with six shells. You begin by asking the question "What is OP?" and the Stranger's response determines the course of your actions. If they reply with anything other than the agreed the response, they are a concerned citizen, unknowing of the apocalypse surrounding them and you may deal with them how you please, usually by informing them of the outbreak, which can lead to some very amusing conversations, an example of which I will post later1.
                 If they respond with the agreed /b/ answer, which, for those of you who don't know, is "A faggot" (or some such variant, I won't go into the arguments about the homophobic nature of this response, it is something that can only be understood through many hours of exposure to /b/, but for the most part, please don't be offended. It is not used in a derogatory manner in this context) or any deviation on that term then you have found a /b/ro, a fellow survivor of the apocalypse. In this circumstance, both of you reload your weapons back to your original 6 shells. You may briefly discuss your luck in terms of survival2, or simply wish each other luck and go about your way, or it may turn out for the worst, if the /b/rother has become a zombie. More on this later.
                The third outcome of the conversation is that the Stranger is a zombie. You will know this if they respond (or post without having read your question) the usual Omegle line "asl". Anyone who asks "asl" is a zombie, regardless of if they have been a citizen to that point of the conversation. It has also been agreed that any references or inquisitions into either of these three categories of your life is an indicator of their being a zombie (i.e. if they identify themselves as a male/female, if they ask "m or f", if they ask where you're from, or any variations to these ends) so even if they have seemed fine, the moment they ask they have been turned and must be eliminated. In this circumstance you fire a shell and kill the zombie. Most people tell the Stranger this, saying "BOOM! Headshot" or "You're a zombie, die" (again, this varies depending on how you play your game, you may say anything to inform the Stranger you have killed them). Once this is done you remove one shell from your remaining shells and leave the conversation. You continue on this way until you either come across a /b/rother, which (as previously stated) allows you to reload back to your original six shells, or, if you have fired all six of your shells, you are killed and become a zombie.
                Once you become a zombie, it becomes your new goal to either die or take out as many /b/rothers as possible. It is now your job to search solely for /b/ros, starting new conversations and waiting for the Stranger to ask "What is OP?".  When you do, you inform them that you have been turned, you may reply with the correct answer, and then either tell them what has happened or ask "asl". It is up to the /b/ro to decide what happens next. Some, true /b/rothers, will not kill you, for the /b/rothership runs deep and it can be hard to do (I have had a few particularly teary interactions with /b/rothers who won't kill me3). The rules are also not entirely clear, but the general consensus is that the surviving /b/rother, if he has not become a zombie already, may reload his shotgun after the encounter and carry on his own journey, knowing what he has done, but better able to survive. If you are killed in the encounter, your play is over and you may stop. You may return as a survivor the next day to begin your journey again.
                So that about covers it. The rules are still evolving, as far as I have seen this is a new game (I had heard about it for the first time only the other day, and have been a regular /b/rother for years) and you can now usually find threads set up about it, detailing people's best or worst encounters, informing newcomers how many are playing and what the odds of survival are. It is a truly spectacular event, and I urge you to take part, or at least check it out. We need to keep the game alive, we need to support our /b/ros.

                It's the apocalypse, only the strong and lucky will survive, and we need to stick together.

Conversation Extracts
1 Part of an amusing encounter with a concerned citizen
You: What is OP?
Stranger: Game Wise? Over Powered.
You: You game? Then you must be worthy
You: but you have to be careful
You: it's an apocalypse
You: the zombies are everywhere
Stranger: Omfg. :o
You: Yes, get to cover, find a /b/ro, get some ammo
You: or we will all be screwed
Stranger: Lmao xD
You: this is no laughing matter!
Stranger: Neither Is 2012, But People Laugh At That Too. :o
You: Actually, that has been proven incorrect a great many times, so it has officially become one
You: but THIS is SERIOUS
You: ANYONE can become one
Stranger: Answer Me This. If There Was An Apocalypse, There Is No Stopping It So We'd Be Screwed Anyways, Because How Can You Kill The Already Dead? :P
You: Shotguns are the answer
You: every /b/ro has one
You: they are the only thing that works
Stranger: How Do You Know? Hun, Playing A Game With Zombies In It Isn't Going To Work IRL. XD

2Meeting a /b/ro briefly before heading our separate ways
You: What is OP?
Stranger: A FAGGOT
You: Hell yeah /b/rother!
Stranger: fuck yeah i was running outta shells
You: good, Ihave plenty, that was two in a row for me!
Stranger: hopefully i get as lucky as you
You: let us hope
Stranger: happy hunting /b/ro
You: same to you /b/rother

3A conversation wherein I had already been turned and my /b/rother would not kill me
Stranger: What is OP?
You: /b/rother!
You: No, you're... to... asl...
You: kill... me...
Stranger: /b/ro! <3
Stranger: what..
Stranger: oh..
Stranger: Dx
You: please... you were... asl... so close...
Stranger: i can't kill a /b/ro!
You: take... asl... my shells...
Stranger: </3
You: do... go... goo... a...s...l...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Laundering out my mind.

I wear and inordinate amount of shirts... This fact is made funnier by the fact that I only own four. I own four shirts because I own a lot of t-shirts - and I mean a LOT of t-shirts. I love them. Can't get enough of them. T-shirts are a good way of showing off your personality; logos and images of things you like; clever slogans and mildly-amusing riffs on pop-culture show you're aware of the world but don't really care enough to follow it accurately (or you're a mindless drone who has to keep up with the fashion of the times, but won't accept yourself that way and so thinks that shifting it one step to the right, i.e. buying a shirt with the "keep calm and carry on" motif replaced with words such as "now freak out and panic" (or, as in my case, the phrase "The rent is too damn high". Hey, a double-bracketed tangent)), or just the sheer number and variety of them showing you just can't focus on one thing long enough to find it thoroughly amusing, and so must have a new t-shirt for every day of the year so that then next time you wear it you can chuckle gently to yourself in nostalgic glee at that one occasion you did find it funny. Others are just kind of cute.

                Anyway, the point I'm making is that I have reached a sort of laundry-based dilemma. During my mid-teens I went through a particularly soft-core gothic stage (I wore nothing but black all the time, though this only extended as far as jeans, trousers and t-shirts, with the odd black shirt for special occasions) and upon entering my 20's I decided my wardrobe, and indeed my life, needed a bit of brightening up - so I proceeded to purchase a lot of t-shirts. has been quite a source of wonder for me over the last three years, and I have contributed to their paychecks no less than 40 time, and I now find myself the proud (and somewhat confusing) owner of quite a wardrobe full of t-shirts, ranging in colours from white to black, actually passing THROUGH the spectrum of colour on its way, and back again.

                Of course, I mention the white tees because I own precisely three of them, and added to my four white shirts (and a handful of white boxer shorts) I find myself with almost - but not quite - enough white clothing to constitute a full load of washing. This annoys me. I don't like the idea of putting on a load of washing when there isn't enough of it to justify the amount of water used in it - I'm not precisely an eco-geek, but given the severity of my last utilities bill I could certainly do with making my life more eco-efficient. Add to this the fact that I won't often wear the white clothing because I have so many other colours that need wearing to justify their purchase, and you find me with a rather long gap between white loads.

                What's more is the shirts. I wear a white shirt over most of my clothing because a) the extra layer keeps me warm in the climate we laughing call "English Weather" and b) the juxtaposition of the white over the colour beneath is pleasing to the eye (and c) because the slight obscuring of the design on the t-shirt beneath causes more people to lift one side up in order to see what lies beneath. If you're going to wear a t-shirt with a funny picture or slogan on it, you'd likely want others to actually wonder what it is). So what I find myself with is a two- or three-week period in which I am wearing the same four shirts for many days at a time while beneath it the pile of whites never quite rises to the point of justifiable washing. What's worse is that I don't wear a white tee and shirt combo, meaning that I have to sort out other shirts to cover them in the mean time (for those of you who ARE actually worried or interested by this fact, I do own a variety of other coloured shirts, JUST for such occasions).

                It's quite a conundrum, one that screams "First World Problems", I know, but an irritating part of daily life all the same.

                And on top of that, the majority of my t-shirts are still black...