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  Update On Life 10:48 PM -- Wed May 30, 2007  

I guess I haven't journaled in a while, so here is an assorted stack of lots of stuff about my life. To give you a chance to avoid reading it since it is boring and extremely long, here's a summary - playing WoW a lot, working on new website stuff, Linkin Park is great, Jonathan Coulton is great, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists are maybe good, not sure. Okay, read on or stop!

Of course I have been playing WoW relentlessly! I have 10 characters that I am simultaneously leveling up, because I like variety and I can exploit the rest system to constantly earn double XP. I am covering every possible class, race, and profession, except for Troll and Gnome. If you are into WoW, you can see how my guys are doing any time with these handy links (incidentally, stuff like this is one of the things I want Dumb Accounts to do someday!):
But you will be shocked to learn that I am not only playing WoW! I am filling out paperwork for a merchant account to solve all the ordering woes we have. And boy oh boy, those have gotten intense. I will have a big expose' on those issues much later. I've gotten a good start on the new layout of the site. Because of the Dumb Accounts and new ordering system, I'm revamping the entire thing. You will be shocked and amazed! I think it's cuter. I'm consolidating tons of things so that it's just a smaller site all around, and I'll be getting rid of extraneous stuff. The focus will be on community stuff, and buying games. Everything else is off to the side or gone. Hamumu shall become the destination for Dumb people worldwide to hang out and do dumb things! I have huge ideas for stuff to do with it, but I'm keeping it under my hat a bit just because I don't know yet of my ability to deliver on this stuff. I'll be working on it though, and I plan to keep adding new features to the site all the time. Things that'll make it worth coming back and doing stuff here even if there aren't any recent games out. The site itself will be your entertainment!

In other news, we recently obtained a bunch of new music, and I was listening to it today. The new Linkin Park is awesome. It's not much at all like the earlier ones, and that is sad, but it is great in its own new ways. The big surprise I find is that they get very political! Really not something I ever expected from them. I mean, there are 12 songs on the CD, one of which is instrumental, so 11 that have lyrical content. Three of those are blatantly political (27% that is)! One's about Katrina (in a really cool way - not ripping on the government for doing a bad job, but more like shame on society itself, in a sense), one is of course about Iraq (best song on the CD, maybe best song ever by anyone ever in all of everdom), and one, well, it doesn't come right out and say what it's about, but "Your campaign's a disguise, replaced freedom with fear, you trade money for lives" and "Your time has come to be replaced" and "I see liars and thieves abuse power with greed".

I love political/protest music. And I love Linkin Park. Not just the music, but the way they go about everything. They're just great. Like each song in the CD booklet has a little snippet about how it was made and some of the musical ideas in it. Their second album (first?) included a big movie about creating the CD artwork, because they're all really into art and they all had a hand in it. People really bash on Linkin Park, because they're so earnest and "think they're so deep", or whatever. But the funny thing is that they are, and it's just lame frat boy stuff to rag on them for it. It's the same kind of thing that says you're not cool if you like X, or if you don't like Y. They're the geeks creating something special and being called losers for it while the real losers are wasting away accomplishing nothing. I wouldn't call it jealousy, but it almost comes from the same place. The middle school nonsense of insulting people for doing well on tests. Not that I'm saying it's required to like this band, you can think they sound horrible if you want - it is just music, and entirely subject to taste. It's the people who disrespect them on entirely different grounds that are weaksauce mcnuggets. Linkin Park is a bunch of geeks, but geeks are good. And besides that, I like how they share a little behind the scenes stuff. I inevitably like a song more when I know something about what it means to the artist, or stories about how it was made.

Another huge pile of CDs we got was everything Jonathan Coulton has ever done. He's also awesome, in quite a different way. "I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you. But I get the feeling that you don't like it...what's with all the screaming? You like monkeys. You like ponies. Maybe you don't like monsters too much. Maybe I used too many monkeys. Isn't it enough that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?" He did a really cool project where he created a new song every week for a year. Four of his CDs are those 52 songs. Some of them are awful, especially on the first CD, but some of them are amazingly awesome, like Code Monkey, the ever-popular Re: Your Brains, Tom Cruise Crazy, and just a whole lot more. Like Linkin Park, only moreso, he offers detailed notes on how every song came to be, some of which is quite interesting. And some of the songs, I listen to them and it makes me want to go read those notes and see what's up.

The other bunch of CDs was Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Them, I'm not as sure about. They've got some really really great songs, but most of it is heavily distorted and overdriven guitar, and it's just tiring to listen to. I'm just not sure yet. Ted also gets political, but I think he's kind of known for it (by those that know him... I only found out recently myself!). The oddest thing is that, as far as I can tell, they mention ghosts in like half of their songs (3 or 4 of the songs have it in the title). Ted has some weird obsession. Ectophilia?

Oh, and by the way, after that last journal entry I should mention - our satellite connection came back a day later, in really bad shape. Then after another day, it started working for real. So hooray, internets all around!
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  Internets, We Hardly Knew Ye 02:46 PM -- Wed May 16, 2007  

Well, here I am at the library once again. Not by choice this time! Our satellite seems to have blown a gasket. So at home, we are without internets until next wednesday at least (when they will come check it out). There's always a chance it will spontaneously work again, since it spontaneously stopped, but it's not looking too promising at this point. It is hard to run an internet business without 50% of the term "internet business". I think I'll be visiting the library quite a lot in the near future.

If you are confused about the mysterious surprise on every page of the site, cease your confusion, because it is gone now! It was just a test thing that I left up for fun, but I've removed it now as I continue to work on the new stuff. Speaking of things that are hard to do without the internet, working on a website is one such thing. So I suspect I'll be getting in some good Titan Tunnels work this week. I can't even play WoW! GASP!
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  Dumb Accounts 10:52 AM -- Tue May 8, 2007  

If you peruse this website (while logged into the forum), you may notice a tiny little surprise. It's on every single page.

Did you find it? Good! Well, that is obviously nothing useful or interesting, but it was a simple test as the first step toward Dumb Accounts. See, here's the story:

Plimus, the company that currently handles our orders, is failing us. Not to say anything is broken, or your orders are in any danger - on the contrary, everything is exactly as it has always been. It's perfectly secure, and works just fine. The problem is that it IS how it's always been. I've been asking them to fix this one minor problem for over a year now (I think for two years, but I'm not sure). I get answers anywhere from a big run-around where they need to ask other people (other people who I have since asked myself, to discover that they are not involved at all) to no reply at all. The problem is simple enough: the default shipping option on CD orders for international customers is this insane $65+ fee. I don't even need them to remove that option, just make it not be the default! It's been used several times, always on accident (who would intentionally use that?!). So then we always have to go through this process with an upset customer, and refunding money and all this stuff. It's utterly ridiculous and it's a five second fix for them to do.

So I told them I'm done if they don't fix it. Well, I got no reply to that, so I am done. How does this all lead to Dumb Accounts? Well, I am going to switch to Paypal for order processing. I think that's a good thing - everybody knows Paypal, so it will be well trusted. And it's not just Paypal payments, they handle credit cards and all just like Plimus. The other great thing about them is that their rates are very low, so I'll make quite a bit more per sale (well, actually about $1 on an average sale, but that adds up!). The downside is that it functions in a completely different way, so I need to do major backend changes to the website. This is also a sort of upside, however! That's because the way Paypal functions gives me more flexibility and power here on the site, much like when I had my own merchant account, way back when.

And that, in part, is where Dumb Accounts come in. A Dumb Account is your forum account, simple as that. But as you can see by the little surprise on every page, it will be linked to the entire site, not just the forum. And it will contain a lot more than just forum stuff. Here are some ideas I have had for what it could be used for:
  • Store your shipping and billing addresses (not shown publicly!), to make ordering easier.
  • Track what products you own from us, and you can get new download links automatically - but I get notified when you do, so I can stop abuse of this feature.
  • Track your prize points!
  • Maybe someday, spend your prize points directly through a web interface (and apply them to game orders sort of like a gift certificate).
  • Definitely lots more ways to GET prize points and spend them.
  • Future games can have an online score system tied to Dumb Accounts. Your scores go up under your Dumb Account, instead of under some random name.
  • At last, a hand-made, trustworthy chatroom, where you are who you are and it can be verified! And you won't have to login - you're already logged in as long as your Dumb Account is. Incidentally, I'm also hoping to implement this chatroom into future games, so you can chat with people playing games and on the site while you are playing. Need help? Just ask right in-game!
  • An automatic sig generator that displays your achievements in our games, or which games you have? Maybe somehow. You could use it anywhere, it'd just be an image generated here. Spread the word of Hamumu! This is inspired by the Xbox Gamerscore thing you see people posting on their blogs and such. Same idea, but for your Hamumu games.
  • Integration with Dumb: The Game, so your DQ is under your Dumb Account too (and can go in that sig! Or you can hide it in shame).
  • User ratings and reviews of our games? Doesn't really require Dumb Accounts to do, but something that could be done with them.
  • Not that we have so many products, but it might be fun to do the statistics across accounts and do the "If you liked Supreme, you need to try Kid Mystic!" recommendation system (based on which games tend to be owned by owners of the game you're looking at).
Do you have any ideas of stuff that Dumb Accounts could do for us?

By the way, this is not coming soon. Well, fairly soon - it's my top priority project, and LL:TT is now on the back burner until this gets handled. But it'll take quite a while to get working, I fear. Web programming is hard!
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  Interview 01:54 PM -- Fri May 4, 2007  

Yet again, I am the subject of intense scrutiny, via this interview at Joystiq.com. No new surprises in there, but it's general interest Hamumu stuff, right?

In other news, I now have WoW. I played WoW all morning and don't know where the time went. Maybe some work is in order.
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