Snips and Snails

Time to clean out my mailbox. That means you get a bunch of quick hits. If you have issues with mental whiplash, remember that the horizontal line is your friend.

First up, Lior pointed out that one South Korean baseball team is bringing in virtual fans to keep the team motivated as actual attendance drops.

Could Fanbot technology come to the US? I’m doubtful. Hanwha has positioned them as an adjunct to watching the game on TV or online. That’s great if people are actually watching the game–and current MLB experiments with Twitter show that American fans are open to the possibilities of second-screen cheering–but it doesn’t help any if there aren’t any fans.

Teams with vacant seats aren’t going to install Fanbots because they don’t have enough fans to keep them active. Teams without vacant seats won’t install them because they don’t want to sacrifice the ticket income and rack up the maintenance costs.

And, for the record, I can’t see a hypothetical Fanbot 2.0 with built-in streaming capability catching on in the US either. So much of MLB’s income is payments from television, that I can’t see them doing anything that might cut down on the TV audience*.

* I’ve got a rant about MLB’s relationship with TV coming up. Consider this fair warning for those of you who don’t care for the baseball posts.

Stef sent a pointer to Goat Simulator, a new game.

The idea isn’t new. The point of the game is “causing as much destruction as you possibly can”. We’ve seen that in video games since, oh, 1962. What’s unique about Goat Simulator is their refreshing attitude towards bugs.

It’s not unusual for software companies to use their customers as testers, charging them for a program, collecting bug reports, and then charging them again for an upgraded program that fixes at least some of the bugs. GS takes a different approach: “We’re only eliminating the crash-bugs, everything else is hilarious and we’re keeping it.” Not bad: release beta-quality software and then define the reported bugs as features so they don’t need to be fixed.

I sent myself an e-mail about this next item. Engadget reports that a security engineer, Gene Bransfield, has developed a cat collar that identifies Wi-Fi networks and their vulnerabilities.

Mr. Bransfield claims that the technology is for his own use. Given what we’ve seen in the past regarding evil super-villain (or in some cases, not-so-super) cats, I think it’s only a matter of time before the felines start perverting it for their own purposes. If the ferals in your neighborhood suddenly start wearing collars, you’ll know what’s going on.

We’re not waiting for Meezer Girl to show up with a new bit of bling. I’m already taking steps to lock down my access point.

Another contribution from Stef: Buzzfeed has a collection of DIY projects that “Will Make Any Cat Owner’s Life Easier”. As Stef pointed out, given the amount of labor involved, few of them will make life easier for bipeds, but they might amuse the cats.

I’m particularly bemused by the second item on the list, “Make a tiny bed of grass for your cat to chill in.” Uh, yeah, sure. Because everybody wants a patch of dirt in the house for the cats (and kids, if any) to spread across the floor. To say nothing of the rather predictable effect nibbling on grass has on the feline digestive system…

Sorry, gang. You’ll have to suffer with nothing but beds, chairs, condos, and sewing tables to chill on.

And, finally, a second e-mail from Lior, who was the first to alert me to the Robin Williams’ death.

I’m not going to attempt to eulogize Williams–there are many, many people with far better reason to do so than I.

Nor am I going to make any extended comment on his depression. Again, there are many who are better positioned than I am to do so. I do want to remind you all that depression is self-reinforcing. I’ve seen a number of posts and articles advising people to talk to their loved ones if they show signs of depression, and that’s good advice. But remember that depression and inertia go hand-in-hand; when someone is depressed, it’s very easy to put off doing anything about it because you can’t imagine that anything you do will help. If someone you love is depressed, don’t assume that just because they recognize their problem that they’re doing anything about it. Consider an occasional, judicious push.

There is a fine line to walk there. Excessive nagging will only add to the depression. Seek a balance–and don’t be afraid to consult with a mental health professional to help you cope with the secondary effects of depression.

(John, feel free to jump in here if you think I’m giving bad advice!)

Williams will be missed, even by those of us who don’t count ourselves as fans.

2 thoughts on “Snips and Snails

  1. Indeed, Casey, nagging- or any kind of statement, direct or otherwise- that the subject should just “pull yourself together and get off your duff” is going to be counterproductive. The depressed person already knows that he should be doing that. Indeed, one of the voices he’s hearing is telling him what a piece of worthless shit he is because he’s not doing exactly that. He doesn’t need validation of his belief that he’s failing the people he loves, in the many ways he believes he’s doing so.
    What friends and lovers can do is just be there for the person, offering unconditional love and being a listener. Suggesting something to change the channel- a walk, some music- can be helpful, as long as you’re able to accept a “no”, without becoming frustrated and angry.
    Ultimately, what needs doing is strengthening the small voice in the sufferer’s head that knows he’s actually loved and cared for. It’s a tiny voice, and it’s being drowned out by the distorted, amplified voices that are condemning him for being six kinds of irredeemable asshole, but it’s there, and it needs some backup. That’s where the “unconditional” comes in.
    I could go on, but, as you say, Casey, others have been writing on this subject for days, and most of them know whereof they speak. Thanks for asking.
    Oh, and I look forward to whatever you have to say about MLB and TV. I have a few issues around that, myself.


    • Thanks for the backup. Under “nagging,” I would also include comments along the lines of “But you said you were going to…” (see a shrink, take prescribed medications, etc.)

      OTOH, showing support in concrete ways (hand her the pills with her morning orange juice, offer him a ride to an appointment) can help “change the channel”–but again, only as long as you can do it without getting angry or frustrated when the offers are rejected.


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