random thoughts from vancouver

I have a late call today, so I have some time to write. Yaaaaay. Here's a few things that have been on my mind in the last, oh, 36 hours or so.

So that silly thing Paul and Storm and Adam and I did sort of took off, didn't it? I'm thrilled that so many people found it as entertaining and amusing as we did; it was a lot of fun to put it all together.

You know, it almost didn't happen. Storm suggested it on Thursday, and I was on my way to Vancouver on Friday, so I wouldn't be able to do my part until Saturday, and we were positive that someone else would beat us to the punch. It was pretty cool when Saturday morning rolled around and nobody had done our joke, yet, so we all soldiered on. Paul and Storm took their photos backstage at a show, Adam did his picture in his secret underground evil genius lair (it's not a secret that he has one of those, right? Because if it is, let's just forget that I said that, okay?) and I just figured that I'd bug Felicia to take my pictures … but she was working second unit all day Saturday, and I had to figure out a way to do it all on my own.

First, I tried holding my cell phone camera, but that didn't work and left me with just one hand to gesture and stuff, so I thought that I could maybe use photobooth on my Mac. I knew it would look like I'd used photobooth, so I thought it would be fun to take advantage of that and embrace its limitations. That's how I ended up putting in all those fake backgrounds. (I have to say, the Paris one is my favorite.)

The app I used on my iPad is called Penultimate. Molly Lewis turned me on to it, and for what it does, it's totally worth a couple bucks.

I also wanted to make sure that The Chive was properly credited: we're just standing on their shoulders, riffing on their original idea, and this obviously wouldn't have happened on its own.

Speaking of w00tstock: I just heard that the San Francisco w00tstock shows are selling out, fast. Thursday has more tickets available than Friday, but I'm pretty sure both shows will be SRO, because SF seems to really like our show.

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Yesterday, Stan Lee had a cameo on Eureka. I can't divulge any details, but I can say that he's one of the nicest people I've ever met – certainly the nicest living legend – and he was just wonderful to everyone. It was adorable how excited and nerdy everyone in the cast and crew was, and how great Stan was to all of us. Also? The cameo they wrote for him was just fucking perfect. I just know it's going to kill when this episode airs.

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Facebook continues its all-out assault on its users' privacy with the new Places feature, which is (of course) on by default, with no warning. Lifehacker has the lowdown, including how to turn it off. As I've said before, if you dig Facebook, I'm not going to give you a hard time about it, but I strongly encourage you to turn this feature off. The world doesn't need to know where you live, and when you are (and aren't) home. Also: Fuck you, Facebook, for turning this on by default and not warning your users about it. You're one of the most profoundly immoral companies in the history of the Internet.

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When I was at Gencon, I got to play this storytelling RPG called Fiasco that is simply amazing. I will write an entire post about it in the near future, but until then, check out Gnome Stew and Critical Hits for posts about the greatest storytelling RPG this side of A Penny For My Thoughts. One of the great thing about Fiasco is how easy it is to write settings for the game, like this time traveler setting my friend Will is developing. (Warning: if you haven't played the game, this is not a good setting for your first time.)

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I keep running up against content and licensing restrictions, since I'm in Canada. It's making me show my rageface a lot, but that's a rant for a Techland column, I think. The short version: it's really fucking stupid to apply geographic restrictions to the Internet, which is sort of its own place that doesn't give a shit about geography. Media companies could go a long way toward combating piracy simply by acknowledging this reality and making it easier for honest people like me to watch the goddamn on-demand videos they bought from Amazon while they were in the United States, regardless of what country they're currently visiting.

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I've been taking pictures and Twittering like crazy from the set. If you are interested in that sort of thing, you can follow me on Twitter for more updates than you ever wanted to see.

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One last thing: Slacker Radio works just fine in Canada (go Slacker!) and I've been enjoying the hell out of my Camera Obscura and Catherine Wheel stations. The problems I used to have with the Android app have all been fixed, and it's been a real joy to walk around Vancouver, streaming music right into my head. (Right now, it's playing Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which is weird to hear outside of Rock Band.)

It's unlikely I'll have time to write again before the weekend, so let me take this moment to wish you all a great weekend. Take deep breaths, and be kind.

Thanks for spending this moment with me.

80 thoughts on “random thoughts from vancouver”

  1. This content-blocking crap is seriously damaging my Zen-like placidity. Amazon ebook-blocked me earlier today! I needed book 9 in a series. Have book 8, have book 10. Book 9? Out of print in the US. Go to Amazon, and they have all sorts of used copies, but the instant gratification girl in me sees they have a Nook version. But not for the US. Seriously? For a BOOK? I was able to work around it, as I have an Amazon UK account (you all can decide if that’s cool or way pretentious), but my Kindle for PC is now set at a UK region. Not that it will help me get any other UK content.

  2. +3.14 (cherry flavoured)
    For Vinyl Cafe.
    OMG. There is a story teller if you’ve ever heard one. Not only are his stories brilliant reads, but his reading of them (much like Wil’s w00tstock reads) adds so much it can be considered a completely different experience.

  3. Yup. The Canadian Content thing is what I thought too. Then I read this:
    Why doesn’t the CRTC regulate Internet services?
    In 1999, the CRTC studied the Internet and decided not to regulate it. Access to Internet services was competitive, and both creativity and innovation grew in an environment without regulation. While there was some broadcasting content being offered, most Internet services at the time were text based. The CRTC concluded that the Internet was meeting the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.
    The CRTC periodically reviews its policies to ensure that the objectives continue to be met.

    From here: http://bit.ly/4cC5H
    So now, I’m not sure who to write my strongly worded letter to.

  4. But what I REALLY LOVE is the next bit it says… and I swear to Al Gore that this is what it really says:
    What can I do about offensive content on the Internet?
    The CRTC doesn’t regulate content on the Internet. Go to Internet for more information.

    I went there and found this: http://bit.ly/3PA5
    hed hertz. i nedz beer.

  5. Reminds me of the stories of the third world countries making things like jeans but they’d have to spend a year’s salary just to afford to buy one pair.
    I guess that makes the access thingy a “First World Problem”? :)

  6. re: Facebook… yeah… the more I hear of it the less I want to go back. I think I’ll just wait for the next bus.
    But speaking of almost the exact same thing – so I’m checking out my iPhone a while back and I check out my recent pics – only to find that they’re now GPS linked with the map feature so that it shows me EXACTLY where I took those pics.
    I went to turn it off, but it was already “off.” Now I’m confused and a few pics short. ;) (“the nudey bar? nah, Honey, I was never there – and never took pics with my iPhone that would snitch on my sorry-ass, either”).
    Man, talking about tech being the death of us… Philip K. Dick was right… just in a way he didn’t expect.

  7. Hey Wil, Off topic question for you. Would you rather have us buy your books from one of the big box companies like Barnes and Nobel or Amazon, or Lulu? (The ones available at the big box companies anyway). Thanks, Melissa

  8. Thanks for sharing Wil. It’s a shame there are only 24 hours in a day! It is great that you are busy on the acting front again, though as a fan of your uniquely gifted writing , it does mean we get to witness less of your wonderful ability to reflect on what you’re doing through your words.
    Never stop writing Wil!
    H

  9. Exactly.
    I wish people would quit the knashing of teeth over ‘the latest FB escapade’. Be responsible, folks. Only put on the internet what you don’t mind people knowing. That goes for ANY website. I recall a riddle: How do 3 people keep a secret? If two of them are dead.

  10. I have some serious envy of all the things you’re seeing firsthand that we can see via twitpic (I appreciate the sharing!) – and as much as I try to enjoy things while they happen, there is a big part of me that can’t wait until the fall to see Parrish back on Eureka. :)

  11. Wil, there is a way around the geographical lockouts. Leave your PC running when you go on vacation and proxy back through it (eg, a VPN.) Problem solved. Assuming of course the internet doesn’t totally suck in both locations. For everyone else there are companies that own ip blocks in the US that offer the same thing for money.

  12. So we have had over 1 month of LA weather and you come right when it gets cool…wasn’t it cold the last time you were here too?
    Honestly, the temperatures are nice here in the summer! ;)
    As for the geographic restrictions…a huge pet peeve of ours.

  13. Wil, I totally look forward to hearing more about your second stint with Eureka and in Vancouver when you have the time to take a moment to give us what details you can share. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say the last time you were “in town” because you had so many nice things to say about my home city.
    By the way, I know you have a fondness for “smallish, fan run” conventions, and since you’ve had a chance to visit and get to know and like our fair city you might want to check out VCON – http://www.vcon.ca. VCON 35, runs from Oct 1-3 this year and has a Steampunk theme.
    VCON, is the oldest general-interest science fiction and fantasy convention in Canada and the Pacific Northwest (it has been promoting the interests of science fiction and fantasy fan culture in Vancouver BC and its environs since 1971). It usually pulls in around 600 members over the weekend, though there have been years when membership has neared 1000 when there has been one or two especially popular Guests of Honour.
    :-j(enni)

  14. Just an FYI – it’s not that Canada is restricting Canadians from obtaining US content, it’s that US government and/or individual companies are blocking Canadian IP addresses from accessing their content. Presumably because we’re all a bunch of thieving, conniving digital pirates who must be stopped from getting our dirty little hands on US content and then posting it hither and yon for others to download illegally. :P

  15. I know. As other countries do the same. Which annoys me to know end. If I miss a Canadian show. I can’t got to the CBC website and watch it. Block because I’m in the US not Canada.

  16. Yeah, Fiasco is pretty much fantastic. I’ve gotten so many people to play it since I picked it up a couple of months ago. In fact, I actually saw on RPG Geek someone had linked to a picture of you playing the made-for-GenCon playset with the Bully Pulpit team. And I am envious. Of both parties. You got to play Fiasco with them, the guys who made it. I’d love to see them in action. And they got to play Fiasco with you. I’d love to see the kind of madcap twists and monkey wrenches you’d throw into some scenes.

  17. “Also: Fuck you, Facebook, for turning this on by default and not warning your users about it.”
    I found that it was not enabled by default, when I just checked it a few minutes ago.

  18. They can and do spread info that you thought would stay more private, so the feeling of “stealing”, even if misled, is justified. more correctly, if privacy is “our ability to control the trafficking of our personal information”, then FB is giving its users a false feeling of the level of privacy they are getting, and it’s painful to find out it’s fake.

  19. That’s the second time you warn me about a new Facebook feature.
    I wouldn’t even be on Facebook if it wasn’t for my best friend who moved half-way across the country guilt tripping me. “I post my daughter’s pictures there. You’re missing her entire childhood.”
    Thanks, Wil.

  20. As someone in Costa Rica for 2010, I agree wholeheartedly that geographic restrictions are stupid. I have stopped watching US tv shows because if I can’t watch them legally I just won’t bother.

  21. I’m loving everything you write (as usual), Wil.
    By the by, I know you’re busy working and earning a living and supporting your family ‘n stuff…but I sure am jonesin’ for a new episode of RFB :)
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  22. Thanks for the info on the new FB evil Wil. I hate it, but will never know anything that’s going on without it. No one tells anyone about things anymore, they just assume you saw it on FB. Pisses me off. Thanks!

  23. Isn’t it possible to use a proxy server to make a website think you are in the USA, so that you can watch USA only content? I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I hear you have to be careful and find a safe proxy server because some of them can steal your passwords. Does anyone know more about this? If I get this to work I will let you know.

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