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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hey, I'm obsessed with this sort of thing.

Hey, did you see that CBS has switched to a banner for SEC Football coverage? Too bad both ESPN and CBS' highlight packages have embedding disabled.

It sort of feels like it was hastily assembled to me for a couple of reasons. For one, the space for the actual score is really small and forces double-digit scores to condense. Watch for the big "TOUCHDOWN" graphic to show up and tell me it doesn't look like an amateur operation. It works for FSN and really low-budget operations; it doesn't work for ESPN, NBC, or the Fox network. Goal to go situations result in the down and distance being REALLY condensed. Oh, and I saw it fade in and out and it basically just collapses into the circular SEC on CBS logo or "wipes" out of it, rather than the circular logo actually turning into the horizontal logo as in CBS' college basketball banner.

Regardless, I will be completely shocked if this doesn't show up for the NFL on CBS next season.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/13-14

All times PDT.

9-12 PM: College Football, California @ Maryland (ESPN). A bit of a minimalist Watcher this week, folks. And probably for most of October as well.

12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). To put at least SOME baseball on the Watcher.

5-8:30 PM: College Football, Ohio State @ defending 2007 Boise State title holder USC (ABC). Because all the endless hype can't be for nothing, can it?
11-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire (ABC). Yes, it's time for the annual pseudo-playoff structure no one cares about!

5:15-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Pittsburgh @ Cleveland (NBC). To put at least SOME football on the Watcher.

The Angst-O-Meter: Day 2

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized footnotes.)

A couple of notes about today's Ctrl+Alt+Del.

First, I'm starting to wonder if Tim is starting to send the message that Ethan is not nearly as much of an idiot as he's long been made out to be, and never has been (pointing to the creation of Zeke). That seemed to be pulled back into focus by the start of this story arc, which this strip calls back to. If Ethan is really a misunderstood genius, it can't be good for the accusations of Mary Sue-dom that have been leveled at him.

(Man, I'm reeeeeally bummed at Tangents being reduced to a LiveJournal backup at the moment, because this would have been a really nice tie-in to my OOTS post that requires the real Tangents to be up. Stupid lazy Robert A. Howard.)

And yes, I know Ethan originally convinced Lucas to nix the tie, and tells him he should have worn it here.

And all that is related to my other point. We've seen Lilah start to go mad, but it's starting to look like Ethan may be starting to go mad as well, snapping a little at Lucas when he mentions arguably the least of his problems.

And all that means it's time to bump the Angst-O-Meter up to 62%.

Good day.

Morning update!

I know there are probably quite a few people who are used to the strip going up in the morning PT, but I'm going to start working my way back to 11 PM PT the previous day, okay?

(Well, except for the part where I was up at 6:30, left shortly after 7, and only now at 8:15 have the strip up, thanks to the free wi-fi the city provides that's completely useless anywhere except a bus stop, and where the only bus stops along the route that have seats are, it doesn't work, and it seems to be abandoned anyway.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My thoughts on the new Monday Night Football graphics package

You can see some of ESPN's new MNF package in action here:

And this video has a statistical graphic near the end, and a one-line statistic at about midway:

I think what may have been meant by "they'll know it's a better experience. But they won't know why" was that even if people would notice the scoring bar was different, they'd only notice that most graphics were being kept out of sight if they were looking for it (perhaps because they noticed how the names of the announcers were displayed at the start of the broadcast). This would also seem to indicate an abandoning of the parallelogram in ESPN's graphics package... were it not for the fact that some parallelograms were occasionally seen on some full-screen graphics. (Peripherally, ESPN also becomes the last NFL broadcaster to add an on-field down-and-distance indicator. ESPN also lagged in displaying the down and distance on their "dashboard", apparently thinking the on-field graphic made it redundant, but I saw some complaints about having to wait too long to see the new down and distance.)

I would not be surprised if this never makes the leap outside Monday Night Football, at least on ESPN. ESPN seems to want to keep MNF special in some way, if the "orb" of previous years was any indication, and it would be difficult to fit college team names in there, at least if ESPN wanted to keep the team logos as well. ESPN's wide team logos also seems best fit for the NFL; you would probably be looking at a very different look for baseball.

I can't help but think the folks in the ESPN graphics department may be disappointed at this graphic's revolutionary potential. Ironically, the centered score display, at least as refined by NFL Network, may be the next big evolution in score graphics, thanks to the intricities of widescreen vs. standard screen display.

Oh, Jim. The game? You just lost it. Sorry.

(From Darths and Droids. Click for full-sized snacks.)

I've mentioned in the past that Darths and Droids has appropriated the Star Wars plot as its own, but has also instituted its own metaplot involving the players of the characters. I've also suggested that the introduction of Annie suggested that the epic plot of Star Wars could result in the equally epic expansion of said metaplot.

But as of this strip, we now have a suggestion that the Darths and Droids metaplot may undergo a sort of Cerebus Syndrome without any help from Star Wars at all. Why? The third and fourth panels.

I prefer to believe that Ben was about to say "She doesn't have a boyfriend". Which as we all know, can only lead to one thing: Jim getting the hots for her. Possibly expanded into a love triangle with Pete as well.

But I don't want any spoilers when David Morgan-Mar inevitably comments on this post. In fact, I would have titled this post "Because it's been too long since we've heard from David Morgan-Mar" but I just couldn't pass up a chance to torment all of you. Again, sorry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Don't worry, the webcomic reviews should return to Tuesday after this.

(From Penny Arcade. Click for full-sized infinite Tigers.)

Because of time constraints, low battery power, and the fact my first attempt at this post got lost partly because of my own stupidity, this post will be an experiment in shorter webcomic reviews.

Penny Arcade is, by almost any measure, the most popular primarily-web-based comic in history. Millions of people peruse it every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and who knows how many of them have tried their own knockoffs of the PA formula. Jerry Krahulik and Mike Holkins often do promotional work for actual big time game companies and their actual games. "Gabe and Tycho" have created more memes than anyone this side of xkcd (Greater Internet F**kwad Theory, anyone?) and managed to channel their many readers' efforts into their Child's Play charity. They've even started their own gaming convention, the Penny Arcade Expo, on the backs of their wildly successful comic strip, further establishing their bona fides as among the most powerful people in the video game industry.

And for the life of me I can't figure out why.

Now I've only read a couple weeks' worth of strips and almost nothing outside of this year, so maybe the strip has jumped the shark and I just missed all the good strips. But Penny Arcade, in a lot of ways, reminds me of xkcd, in that I don't know what to make of it. Many strips, like with xkcd, feel like little more than moments in time; Gabe and Tycho famously disdain continuity, and in fact are really the only two recurring characters. Often their strips are like editorial cartoons for the game industry, except they tend to be laden with injokes and sometimes are incomprehensible without the accompanying blog post. I don't know if I'm in a position to appraise the writing, but the art... isn't bad, and it's certainly better than most PA knockoffs (then again, so is Ctrl+Alt+Del's art), but it isn't spectacular either. On the rare occasions when the strip does dip into continuity, they can lack flow even with the blog post. (So, exactly what did happen to Tycho between these two strips?) Some strips feel like they're missing a panel, or crammed into one panel too few, or fall flat for other reasons.

If you go to the Penny Arcade home page, you're not taken to the comic but to the daily blog post. I can't help but wonder if this is the real core of Penny Arcade's popularity; if most of the site's readers come in not for the strip, but for Gabe and Tycho's various musings on the goings-on of the video game industry, including the occasional video game review. Which makes it odd that Gabe and Tycho are so often held up by webcomic boosters as an example of All That's Right with webcomics, when their strip may well be mediocre at best and probably isn't the main draw to the site. Their praise may just encourage PA knockoffs who actually do a better job than they're often given credit for of aping the PA style and quality, but don't really get it, and don't really grasp why PA is so popular, even having perfunctory blogs but letting the strip drive the blog rather than the blog drive the strip.

Of course, on the other hand, the geeknerd core audience of many a webcomic tends to like semi-surreal rule-breaking things. I guess it's up to people like me to point non-geek webcomic shoppers to strips that are actually doing good things with the form like Order of the Stick.

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

Well, I have a new battery for my laptop. There still remains the niggling problem of finding a place to use the Internet. I can't go to the library for reasons that aren't worth going into here. The main drag right outside the University of Washington Campus used to be a Wi-Fi hotspot, and you can still see its connection if you open up the list of connections, you just can't, you know, connect. The place I can connect to the Internet without paying three dollars (though I still have to pay in order not to seem creepy) seemingly stopped working the instant I got there, with the normal quick fix not working either, so I'm crouching down beside the place I normally do have to pay three dollars and typing very slowly and deliberately. I should try to be a posting machine for most of tomorrow, and get a backlog going. A good backlog. I still have something I originally wanted to post two and a half weeks ago!

What is it about me that attracts Buddhism-related sites?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Angst-O-Meter: Day 1

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized backhand.)

Time to play the game that's sweeping the nation: the Ctrl+Alt+Del Angst-O-Meter! I was going to post this yesterday, but Monday Night Football, and other TV-watching pursuits, largely monopolized my time.

In a sense, Ctrl+Alt+Del is becoming the anti-Order of the Stick. Whereas if I were to post every time OOTS prompted me to, I would post with every strip because it's just that good and entertaining, under normal circumstances if I were to post every time CAD prompted me to, I would post with every strip because CAD seems to want to send its characters even further into a tailspin with every strip. There's only so many ways you can say "CAD is descending into First and Ten Syndrome, just as people feared during the miscarraige arc" over and over.

Just look at everything Tim Buckley has put his characters through in the past two weeks plus: revealed Kate hanging out with another man, broke up Kate and Lucas almost out of nowhere, sold the store where Ethan works to Lilah's ex, and now Lucas just punched Zeke's head clean off. It's nothing Ethan hasn't been able to fix before, but this strip is important for more than Zeke's capitectomy. Lucas is in full-on angst mode here, fully dwelling on just how far down his life has gone in two real-time weeks. Remember when Buckley told readers that he wouldn't dwell on every moment of Ethan and Lilah's post-miscarriage anguish? Well, that sort of "woe is me" anguish is already starting to creep into the strip and I don't know if we like it.

At the same time, there's still a punchline in today's strip, and Buckley has put his characters through the wringer before, including once having their house destroyed as a result of a rampaging gone-mad Zeke. So for now, the Angst-O-Meter will start out at 58%. 0 means that every panel is a joke in itself, 100 is no-fun-at-all First and Ten Syndrome. The feature will continue until the Angst-O-Meter reaches 0 or 100, or until I can't take it anymore.

Ginning up some interest every Tuesday

Remember last week, when I overhauled my ad model? At the same time, I placed bids for advertising on the Little Gamers and Joe Loves Crappy Movies comics, so at some point people from there should start trickling in to watch the Sandsday boys in action. For all I know bidding could be high enough to shut out my ad entirely, but if my ad ever does show up in the rotation we could get a few loyal fans for the future. At most it'll cost me about sixty cents earned from previous advertising on Da Blog, and probably much less, but we'll see if bidding for Sandsday's ad space (and the every-site ad space) makes up some or all of the difference.

(Hey, this is my first time writing one of these advertising posts. Give me a break.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

College Football Schedule: Week 3

Everyone retains their titles this week (and by "everyone" I mean "the two teams that actually had games this week") but that's by no means guaranteed this week. Slight change to the schedule: Games on ESPN Gameplan with no other applicable item to put in the TV slot will be described as Gameplan, not ESPN360. All times Eastern.
Lineal Titles (all games on Saturday)
*Georgia@South Carolina3:30CBS
North Texas@*LSU8 PMGameplan
Ohio State@*USC8 PMABC
This Week's HD Games
North Carolina@Rutgers7:30 THESPN
Kansas@South Florida8 PM FRESPN2
NC State@ClemsonNoonRaycom
Florida Atlantic@Michigan StateNoonESPN2
Iowa State@IowaNoonBTN
Montana State@MinnesotaNoonBTN
Southern Illinois@NorthwesternNoonBTN
Washington State@Baylor12:30FSN
Michigan@Notre Dame3:30NBC
Chattanooga@Florida State3:45ESPNU
Auburn@Mississippi State7 PMESPN2
SMU@Texas Tech7 PMFSN SW
Wisconsin@Fresno State10:30ESPN2
Other Games
Ball State@Akron1 PMCSD.TV
Toledo@Eastern Michigan1 PMCSD.TV
Central Michigan@Ohio2 PMCSD.TV
Delaware State@Kent State2 PMCSD.TV
East Carolina@Tulane3 PMCBSCS XXL
Charleston Southern@Miami (OH)3 PMCSD.TV
North Dakota State@Wyoming3 PM
Penn State@Syracuse3:30ABC
Georgia Tech@Virginia Tech3:30ABC/ESPN
Air Force@Houston3:30CBS CS
Hawaii@Oregon State4 PMFSN/FCS
Western Michigan@Idaho5 PMCSD.TV
Middle Tenn. St.@Kentucky7 PMGameplan
Memphis@Marshall7 PMCSS
Western Kentucky@Alabama7 PMGameplan
Southern Miss@Arkansas State7 PMCSD.TV
Stanford@TCU7 PMmtn.
Rice@Vanderbilt7 PM
Alabama A&M@Louisiana-Monroe7 PMCSD.TV
Samford@Mississippi7 PM
Alcorn State@Troy7 PMCSD.TV
New Mexico State@Nebraska7 PMPPV
Missouri State@Oklahoma State7 PMFCS
Bowling Green@Boise State8 PMGameplan
Arizona@New Mexico8 PMCBS CS
Utah@Utah State8 PMGameplan
San Diego State@San Jose State8 PMCSD.TV
UNLV@Arizona State7 PTFSN AZ/FCS