While I update this blog on a strict when-I-feel-like it basis, any missing posts over the four weeks (and beyond) is outside of my control. My computer is broken.

While none of my problems were truly terrifying (as in, my hard drive is perfectly fine), I still had one of the weirdest problems ever. My computer kept freezing. It happens to everybody, you’re using the computer and suddenly everything just stops. Mine was different though, it wasn’t a software problem. I tried using Windows when Ubuntu kept freezing but it froze too and I got worried. Then my computer started freezing before an OS could start, while the BIOS was loading.

I freaked, removed every non-mission critical piece of hardware, and cursed the man who invented the PC. I ordered some new memory but it took me 8 days to get ahold of it. For some reason UPS required someone to sign for it (usually they just leave it), and between two attempts to deliver the package to the wrong address, the delivery man knocked quietly enough to go unnoticed by my roommates. A notice that nearly flew away with the wind became my only connection to the package. I went to UPS’s customer service place to pick it up, but they closed before I could reach it. And so it goes.

Once I finally got ahold of the memory it had not effect. I brought it to a repair place and they returned it to me a few days later saying it was the power supply and it wasn’t. Now they seem to think it’s the motherboard. I have an Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe. It’s the most expensive part of my computer because I decided that I wanted a quality motherboard since it was the only part I didn’t intend to change in the future and it ends up being the first thing to break down.

Asus now wants me to send it to them, but I’d rather they just give me my money back. Besides the fact that I’ll have to wait a while for it to make the trip back here, I have this cold feeling that tells me it’ll arrive at my doorstep still broken. I’ve had some bad experiences with hardware manufacturers sending back refurbished hardware that other people sent to them. I’m sure some people send in hardware that can be easily fixed and sent to other customers but all I’ve ever gotten back is unfixible hardware that belong in the garbage.

This has taken away countless hours of coding from me, as well as money, time and it’s even hurting my grades. I’m taking two computer courses in college right now. I don’t have a car so getting to a repair shop or mailing a broken motherboard is a huge hassle that requires me to ask large favors of people around me. I don’t have any choice but to send the motherboard back in, but I wonder if I’ll ever get it fixed without a replacement.

Update: 6 weeks later… it looks like I’ve got a working computer again. I still don’t know what was wrong other than it was the motherboard. Asus sent me back someone else’s motherboard, which I know because they left the original owner’s settings intact, something that they shouldn’t have done. I’ll probably never buy from Asus again. To be fair, it looks like they sent me a working motherboard, so it could be worse, but meeting the most basic requirements isn’t enough. This motherboard was supposed to be something I could trust, that’s why I spent the extra money on it. Now I’m stuck with it, wondering when this one is going to break down.

I read Mark Shuttleworth’s post on DRM today. He makes some good points about how DRM doesn’t work, and he’s right. Thing is, he and other DRM-haters seem to think digital distribution is the future. It’s not.

What ever happened to physical ownership? You can’t have that with digital distribution (and in some ways, DRM). When I own something I want to hold in my hands. If you buy a movie online and your hard drive breaks down, which any hard drive will ultimately do, you don’t own the movie anymore. You can probably get the movie back again, but that’s expensive for the distributor and what if they refuse, or go out of business? I’m sure plenty of people would be fine with this, but it won’t become a popular idea until all types of people jump in.

In the end, a DRM-laden Blu-Ray disk is still better than any movie I’d download. When I own something I don’t want it stuck on my computer, I want it to exist independently, and I’m sure plenty of other people feel the same way whether they know it or not. Unless digital distribution finds a way to seperate itself from a computer (although any efforts to do so today would be hindered by DRM) it will never succeed. Ownership is about freedom, and both DRM and digital distribution don’t offer that.

Update: I wrote a followup.

Dampe Lives

April 1st, 2007

I’ve been following the life and times of a fellow amatuer video game creator who calls himself Dampe. He was developing a 2D version of Ocarina of Time for several years, one that resembled the earlier Link to the Past. It seemed close to completion when suddenly, he supposedly died. Now information is coming out that it may have been a lie. Although it’s April Fool’s day I find it unlikely to be a cruel joke, since it makes sense.

I don’t think it was a very bright idea, but can understand why he did it. When other people become fans of your work any delays or cancelations feel like you’re betraying them. He should’ve been completely public about how the project was doing or very private. If it’s a personal project then there are no release dates, no expectations, so why did he build a community around a perpetually incomplete project? All they could ever do is wait for it, wait for a game that isn’t coming. There’s also the other way to do it, to develop the game publicly, allowing fans to interact with it’s ongoing development. Instead he kept development private, but released enough videos and screenshots to allow fans to lavish attention on him. Once making the game became a chore and he couldn’t live up to his promises, he was left with no easy way out. I believe he lied about his own death to escape any backlash.

I guess I believe there’s something inherently wrong about trying to keep up to other people’s expectations when you’re doing something for fun. It’s also wrong to give them a reason to be disappointed. This goes for just about any personal project. Dampe seems young, he’s apparently 15, so it’s probably a lot easier to make that mistake but faking his death? It’s just silly, especially since he did a poor enough job of it that people found out without too much difficulty.

He should fess up to his mistakes, produce his incomplete project for others to continue, and apologize for lying. People will forgive him in the end. Right now he’s just a pariah.