PAX East 1.0 – Saturday

Learning my lesson from the day before I arrived quite early Saturday to hear Bill Amend talk about his FoxTrot comic in “Greetings from a Dead-Tree Dinosaur Cartoonist v1.1.” Bill Amend in person is just as funny as FoxTrot. His presentation was part autobiography and part Bill showing off some of his favorite strips. He is a nerd of the highest degree; from Dungeons & Dragons to Myst and Wolfenstein (the 2D version). This was probably the highlight of the weekend for me as it was a real look into how his own interests flow into a comic about a family. Jason is his crazy gamer side multiplied a thousand times. Listening to him talk about the process of trying to “slip in” ever nerdier jokes to “2% of the population” and with his background in physics, jokes that are understood by “2% of the 2%” of his nerd readers.

“The Death of Print” featured game journalists talking about their magazines and the digital revolution that is putting print out of business. Between online publications and Metacritic the print magazines are being attacked on multiple flanks and the Internet delivers information faster and cheaper than print ever can. The panelists didn’t seem to realize that print is not inherently better than online distribution and it’s the content that matters not the medium. Anyone can create a website or blog or twitter stream or Facebook page or YouTube video. Jeff Jarvis has talked about this with the concept of the hyperpersonal news stream where small, local, niche voices are the sources of our content rather than one large generic horn of a TV or newspaper. The panelists themselves are the reason print it dying – they refuse to adapt.

“Get Ready For Love: The Joystiq Podcast LIVE!” was a strange and new experience. I had never listened to the podcast before attending the live recording and had no idea what I was in for. But those guys (Justin McElroy, Chris Grant and Ludwig Kietzmann) are hilarious. There were some inside jokes I needed explained to me (Blueberry Muffin Top cereal is apparently a topic of much interest in the podcast) but overall it was a laugh a minute. Again, they were reaching out to the audience with a giant screen showing tweets with the #joystiqlive tag, prizes and BBMT (Blueberry Muffin Top) wristbands for everyone in attendance. Plus the guys walked through the audience high fiving people. There was a back and forth between questions and tweets from the audience that made us part of the show. Did they convert me to the podcast? Probably not, but I didn’t regret going to the live podcast rather than the concert scheduled for the same time.

PAX East 1.0 – Friday

PAX East was absolutely amazing. Three days of geeking out at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. There were some very interesting characters in attendance (as in my photos posted yesterday), I only wish I caught more with my camera.

Of course, the intentional (and somewhat more “real”) stars of the Penny Arcade Expo were Gabe and Tycho and the other speakers and panelists, and of course, the geek god Wil Wheaton. 

After failing to arrive early enough for the Wil Wheaton keynote I hit up three panels on the opening day (Friday). It was too bad that they had to turn people away from the keynote and I think if there were video monitors showing it people would have watched from anywhere rather than mill around the Expo floor. I’ll be prepared for next year I guess and show up as early as possible.

For all who missed it, or couldn’t attend PAX East, YouTuber Cheshyr was able to record the keynote and post it in six parts. I’m certainly thankful for his work and for Wil giving the OK for this distribution.

First for me on Friday was “Puppet Masters – The not so Invisible Hands of Video Game PR.” The speakers were public relations experts representing video game companies as freelancers, consultants or in-house staff. The walkaway message here was that sometimes they need to promote games that are bad/unfinished/niche and sometimes critics confuse these categories. They have tough jobs and can’t please everyone while still remaining objective. Having a background in market research, I can understand this position; you need to develop contacts in the industry but can’t give them a glowing review if the company or the products made aren’t actually good.

“Storytelling in the World of Interactive Fiction” sounded interesting but was way over my head. As someone who last played text games as a kid in the 90s this was hard to relate to. This was not a very enjoyable panel if those who didn’t love interactive fiction and the panelists had a holier-than-thou attitude towards there genre, which was too bad.

Next on the docket was “Traversing the Twitterverse, and Beyond!” with @fourzerotwo @majornelson and MacheteBetty of @xboxsupport. This is what I was expecting PAX to be like; it opened with MacheteBetty singing a song to the tune of Portal’s “Still Alive” with the lyrics changed to be twitter and Xbox Live Support related. That got a lot of laughs and set the mood.

Unlike the first two panels, this was almost entirely question and answer with the audience. All three were upbeat and funny and it felt very congenial despite the physical separation between the audience and the panelists on stage. It was a good final panel for the day and we the audience got to hear about the behind the scenes of Xbox Live support, and personally, having used the old system, it was frustrating. I’m not anxious to contact them on Twitter, but having a team dedicated to respond quickly is music to my ears.

Next up: PAX Saturday

Dice-K, Wakefield, Clemens

The Boston Red Sox have the chance to break one of baseball’s long held traditions: the five-man rotation. Headed by Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey and backed up by Clay Buchholtz, Tim Wakefield, and when he returns from the disabled list, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Sox have possibly the deepest pitching staff in the game. While similar speculation existed last year, that rotation would have counted on rebounds by both John Smoltz and Brad Penny. This year the Sox have three legitimate aces and a young pitcher with a no-hitter on his resume. Those top four guys are almost guaranteed to have good seasons (as far as pitchers can be a guaranteed to do anything).

When the Red Sox entertained signing Roger Clemens in 2007 they looked at offering him a Sunday pitching schedule where Clemens could have the week to work out and prepare for that start each week. If the Red Sox implement a six-man rotation this year I think they would look at a similar strategy with either Daisuke or Wakefield taking the Sunday (or whatever day they choose) start every week and the rest of the rotation working on regular rest around them.

Wakefield’s back would surely benefit from a little bit of extra rest and by starting once a week he would still be on a schedule. Matsuzaka has pitched once a week in Japan and enjoyed success there so he would also be a logical choice for the specialized sixth man.

Fantasy Draft #1

I had my first fantasy baseball draft over the weekend. I tried a new strategy this year and took a few pitchers in the early rounds rather than building a scrapheap rotation and trying to trade for an ace in July. This is a 6×6 league: R,HR,RBI,SB,AVG,OPS | W,K,ERA,WHIP,SV,K:BB. 23 man roster.

C: Brian McCann

1B: Carlos Pena

2B: Chase Utley

3B: Chone Figgins

SS: Stephen Drew

OF: Justin Upton

OF: Julio Bourbon

OF: Ryan Ludwick

Util: Adam Laroche

Util: Nick Swisher

Bench: Kyle Blanks

Bench: Vladimir Guerrero

SP: Dan Haren

SP: Justin Verlander

SP: Ricky Nolasco

RP: Chad Qualls

RP: Leo Nunez

RP: Bobby Jenks

P: Matt Cain

P: Matt Garza

Bench: Erik Bedard

Bench: Ervin Santana

Of course, Santana’s elbow had to act up right after the draft. Bedard won’t be available until May or later, but he’s a good bet to perform well when he’s on the mound. I’m crossing my fingers that Santana is healthy and ready to deliver on another big year, but I’m keeping my eye on a few waiver wire pitchers just in case.

With two more drafts coming up on Sunday, one in the Sports of Boston league, I’ll have more to say. There’s pressure on me to do well in that league, or I’ll have to face those guys as the writer who lost!

2010 Fantasy Baseball Outfielder Rankings

The Sports of Boston team of experts posted their Top 50 outfielders. Here are my picks:

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Justin Upton
  3. Matt Kemp
  4. Matt Holliday
  5. Grady Sizemore
  6. Jayson Werth
  7. Nick Markakis
  8. Jason Bay
  9. Adam Dunn
  10. Carl Crawford
  11. Jacoby Ellsbury
  12. Ichiro Suzuki
  13. Shin-Soo Choo
  14. Curtis Granderson
  15. Adam Lind
  16. Ben Zobrist
  17. Nelson Cruz
  18. Andre Ethier
  19. Carlos Lee
  20. B.J. Upton
  21. Bobby Abreu
  22. Hunter Pence
  23. Shane Victorino
  24. Josh Hamilton
  25. Adam Jones
  26. Many Ramirez
  27. Carlos Quentin
  28. Andrew McCutchen
  29. Michael Bourn
  30. Johnny Damon
  31. Nate McLouth
  32. Torri Hunter
  33. Carlos Gonzalez
  34. Jay Bruce
  35. Julio Borbon
  36. Brad Hawpe
  37. Alfonso Soriano
  38. Alex Rios
  39. Drew Stubbs
  40. Carlos Beltran
  41. Michael Cuddyer
  42. Denard Span
  43. Jason Kubel
  44. Nolan Reimold
  45. Corey Hart
  46. Nyjer Morgan
  47. Garrett Jones
  48. J.D. Drew
  49. Kyle Blanks
  50. Jason Heyward

PAX East: Penny Arcade Expo

Starting tomorrow a rare, new treat is arriving in Boston: PAX East. For the last few years, the guys from Penny Arcade have been throwing a little event on the Left Coast celebrating games, geeks, and nerd culture. This is the first time they have ventured out this way and living in Massachusetts, I of course jumped at the chance to attend and secured a 3 Day pass. 

With a long list of exhibitors, speakers, and gaming arenas it is sure to be a fun weekend, and probably the last of the school year. Heading into April and May will begin the long preparation and study schedule for final exams. 

While there are a couple panels starting at 2pm, things really kick off with Wil Wheaton’s keynote at 3.

What To Do With Jason Varitek

Over at Sports of Boston I took a look at Jason Varitek and the idea put out there by Gary Tuck that Varitek could catch into his 40s. While it would be a great personal achievement for him, it just doesn’t look too likely that a team will be interested in the catcher at this stage of his career. His best days are clearly behind him, but he can still be a useful backup for a team, like the Red Sox this year, with a great primary catcher.

Nexus One(TM)

It was a little bit of a surprise to see Google lose out in their attempt to register Nexus One as a trademark.  Apparently, Integra Telecom had registered “Nexus” as a trademark for themselves back in 2008.

Clearly it isn’t a huge issue, Apple didn’t even control the iPhone trademark from the beginning, it was a Cisco property registered in 1999!  

With the ongoing patent war between Apple and Google, currently begin fought by way of HTC, a few hurdles are appearing for Google to clear as they march towards the eventual release of their Nexus One phone on all four major carriers.

Untitled

This is likely the best Rick Roll ever.  Combining the instrumentals of Nirvana with Rick’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” in a way that actually sounds pretty good (and still keeps some of the dance moves even Carlton would be proud of).

I wouldn’t have thought it possible for NGGYU to be a legitimate rock song, though it is quite fun for a karaoke night.