Pokémon Luring Victims?

    2016-07-11 22:00:00 -0600

    Pokémon Go has been a huge hit for Nintendo. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. It’s been an amazing success, so much so, that Nintendo has had problems keeping the servers up.

    Despite the success (or because of it) there is a dark cloud to Pokémon Go’s silver lining. Criminals have been using the game’s lure feature to sucker in unsuspecting gamers. There are more details in the linked article but, in a nutshell, Pokémon Go allows users to buy Pokémon lures which bring in more Pokémon to the player’s location. Other players can see the lures, too, so you can get a group of players hanging out around the lure to see what shows up. Gotta catch ‘em all, after all.

    Nintendo had a great idea with the lure feature. Get a bunch of gamers together to enjoy the game together. A big part of the Pokémon games is running into other trainers and having Pokémon battles. Heck, it’s all my kids talk about some days.

    It’s not surprising a bunch of enterprising, young thugs got the bright idea to lure people with shiny, new smart phones into dark places. Criminals have been doing this online for years with trojans and such. Of course, it’s had a long a storied history off line, as well.

    The thing is, the lure feature really is a great idea. It’s part of what really separates Pokémon Go from Ingress and other geo caching games. It’s actual social gaming. I won’t be surprised if other games come out that trying to build off of what Pokémon has done. Unfortunately, as long as lure-like features exist, criminals will try to use it to rob people.

    It’s bad enough when thugs rob adults but there are a lot of children playing Pokémon Go. It’s really easy to not pay attention and end up in a bad part of town or, like those players in Missouri, get held up by a bunch of thugs.

    As I said, the social stuff is part of Pokémon Go’s appeal and it’s not going away. Gamers need to be aware of what’s going on around them. (Don’t drive and play. What’s wrong with you people?) Parents, talk to your kids and supervise them if they want to go out on their Pokémon journey and be aware yourself. Have fun but stay safe.

    Updated [2016-07-12 Tue 17:37]: I talked more about this in my stream this morning including some ideas to minimize bad actors.

    Enjoy it While it Lasts

    2016-07-04 09:00:00 -0600

    Happy Independence Day! Who knows how many more there will be before our rights to property, self defense and speech are still protected by our government. 240 years is a good run right?

    California just passed as series of draconian gun laws including one that requires a background check to buy ammunition. They won’t matter much to stop actual crime. Like all such prohibitions, they are only followed by the law abiding.

    People must constantly be on guard in case any word they say may be take as offensive in some way. If you are a student on a college campus, saying the wrong thing may cost you your chance to earn a degree.

    Sadly, people are more concerned about which bathroom people use than the near constant attacks on basic rights by the very governments that are supposed to protect and preserve them.

    On the plus side, the two leading presidential candidates are authoritarian demagogues who will gladly strip citizens of their rights if it suits their purpose.

    We can’t even count on Congress to help. They have been so busy ceding power to the Executive Branch that the President is the next best thing to a King.

    In 2010, I had hope that they Tea Party revolution would change the Republican Party. It would move back to the principles of liberty and limited government. That hope was vain. If there are more that a dozen people in Congress who truly believe in limited government over party power, I’d be surprised.

    Even the concept of a civil society has disappeared. Across the border, Black Lives Matter shutdown a Toronto gay pride parade until their list of demands were met. Across the US, various groups see nothing wrong with rioting because Donald Trump or a conservative person is speaking in the city or on campus.

    I predict that by America’s 250th birthday – ten short years from now – those basic rights which Americans have to come to take for granted will be no more. I have no hope that anything can be done to change that.

    So, America, enjoy the festivities today. Who knows how much longer we’re be able to before Independence Day celebrations are declared racist and canceled.

    Johnny Manziel: Why We Cannot (and Should Not) Look Away

    2016-04-19 11:15:00 -0600

    (Note: Title blatantly stolen from the linked article.)

    This is an amazing article by Mike Tanier. Ignore the fact that this is about an NFL quarterback. It’s about a person and specifically a type of person that many of us know. The guy who just doesn’t know when the party is over.

    Manziel is like so many thousands of people in America. His problem is more public than others but it’s still the same one faced by your old school buddy. The only difference is that Manziel brings his NFL millions and an entourage to his never ending party.

    The questions so many ask when faced with these people – friends, coworkers, family members – “Why can’t they stop?” or “Why can’t I help them?” have no easy answers.

    I have a long held belief that people will make choices based on what’s best for them. The same is true for addicts. The problem is that what they see as “best” is, so often, their addiction.

    An alcoholic may want to play in the NFL, make partner in the law firm or build the perfect marriage. But what an alcoholic really wants to do is drink, and that short-term goal keeps stepping in front of the long-term ones.

    Here’s the worst part: An addict doesn’t want to seek help. An addict doesn’t want to be told to seek help. That’s what “bottoming out” and the language of recovery are all about. The alcoholic really wants to keep going, long past the point at which any healthy person would realize that “partying” is no fun anymore.

    If the addict is lucky, they “bottom out” into a place where people are willing and able to help. If they’re not lucky, the consequences are dire and, sometimes, fatal.

    So, what can we, as a society, do? Again, there are no easy answers. For people currently suffering from addiction, the best thing may be patience and a desire to be there for them when they crash.

    Long term, there are things that can be done though I don’t know if we’re brave enough to do it. Nothing can stop every tragedy but maybe we can make them more rare.

    The biggest thing that society can do is to stop treating the use of addictive substances like a normal part of life. Alcohol is addictive. Marijuana is addictive. Nicotine is addictive. Pretending that they’re not by encouraging their use or treating their use as a good recreational activity is just asking for more cases like Manziel.

    I’m not saying we should go back to prohibition-style bans. (I think people can make their own choices even if they’re not the ones I think are right.) Rather, we need to discourage the recreational use of addictive substances. More importantly, we need to stop doing so hypocritically.

    How well do you think that MADD ad against drunk driving is working when shown during a show that features drinking alcohol? How about those DUI public service ads that show during a ball game right before the string of Coors and Budweiser ads?

    In the end, as long as the use of these substances are encouraged by society there will be widespread problems with addicts.

    Another thing society can do, which Tanier calls out, is to not write off people with addictions.

    We need to understand that there’s a difference between sowing wild oats and succumbing to an illness, that an alcoholic isn’t always a gutter wino or a middle-aged man waking up alone with the shakes.

    We need a long look at how bad a sickness like whatever Manziel’s going through can be and how long the course of illness can run. Watching Manziel’s behavior can teach us why our nephews or old buddies didn’t stop after the first car wreck, pink slip or police incident.

    We also need to take Miller’s advice and not “write off” Manziel. Better to criticize and condemn his behavior than ignore and forget him. He’ll someday realize that the fun ended long ago, and he’ll seek to seek help—not publicist-mandated, career-salvaging help, but the real kind.

    And, like the father of the Prodigal Son, be willing to welcome them back with open arms when they are ready to seek that help.

    A Long Delayed Explanation

    2016-04-18 09:53:00 -0600

    Once upon a time, there was a podcast.... That seems like a good start right? It was a good start. Unfortunately, like the Music Free family of podcasts, it sort of faded away. It’s time for me to finish the story.

    To finish, I need to start. The first Music Free Static podcast aired on June 2, 2012. Mostly, I talked about politics. Sometimes, I talked about tech. For the most part, it was a lot of fun but politics gets old and I wanted to talk more about tech. I split the Static podcast in half. The first part was politics and the second part was tech. That was great but I didn’t want my tech fans to have to sit through my political rants and vis versa.

    At the end of 2014, I started the Music Free Tech podcast. Music Free Static was all politics all the time and Music Free Tech was devoted to tech and there was much rejoicing. Not many viewers but much rejoicing.

    As 2015 progressed I noticed something about myself that had been building for some time. I was getting really tired of politics. The constant bickering on Twitter sickened me … and that was just between the politicians. I still like politics, in theory, and have many strong opinions about it. In practice, I just couldn’t play in those waters anymore. I came to dread doing the podcast. Even Music Free Tech, which had almost nothing to do with politics, had lost its appeal. I was getting burnt out.

    Then, something magical happened. I got a PS4. This opened up a new world of streaming for me. I started with basic game streams but I continued to do what I’d been doing for the last three years. Every Saturday was the Music Free Gaming podcast. That didn’t last long mostly because I couldn’t consistently find gaming news that I wanted to talk about but also because I was burnt out on podcasting. For the most part, I have a lot more fun playing and chatting with viewers in the chat room about random stuff.

    So, where does that leave things now? Well, first off, the last actual podcast was Music Free Gaming 007 which aired in January, 2016. Most of my time has been devoted to Music Free Gaming. I’ve been streaming there six days a week, usually in the evening and Saturday morning.

    That’s not the only thing I’ve got going on. Yesterday, I added a new feature to Music Free Static called Headlines. (Great name, huh? I’m creative like that.) There you’ll be able see the recent links that I shared. (I had been dumping all of those to Twitter from Delicious but that’s been so buggy lately that I had to kill it. The links will still go to Twitter just not from Delicious.) Clicking on the link will take you directly to the linked site but there is also a discuss permalink that will all for the Music Free community to, you know, discuss the link. I have an option to only see links in certain categories, e.g. gaming or politics, but I don’t have navigation to those yet.

    There will be some minor cosmetic changes but those will take longer as my graphics skills are pretty poor.

    I also plan to go back to blogging rather than podcasting about things I find really interesting. How much and how often that will be, I don’t know yet. I guess we’ll find out together.

    Here’s the tl;dr. Politics sucks. Podcasts are done for now. Headlines, blog posts and lots and lots of game streams are coming.

    Thanks for sticking with me as I work though these changes. There will be more fun in the future, I’m sure. Until then, be excellent to each other.

    Music Free Gaming 007: Raising Gamer Kids

    2016-01-23 07:42:23 -0700

    0:00:00 Introduction

    Welcome to Music Free Gaming. This is episode 007 recorded on 23 January 2016.

    0:01:27 Raising Gamer Kids

    Some advice on raising gamer kids.

    0:26:22 Copyright

    Music Free Static is licensed under the Standard YouTube License.

    0:27:00 Aftershow

    Music Free Gaming 006: It's dull, you twit!

    2016-01-16 07:51:35 -0700

    0:00:00 Introduction

    Welcome to Music Free Gaming. This is episode 006 recorded on 16 January 2016.

    0:00:39 It’s dull, you twit!

    • Remembering Alan Rickman

    0:29:12 Copyright

    Music Free Static is licensed under the Standard YouTube License.

    0:30:26 Aftershow

    Music Free Gaming 005: Virtual Reality

    2016-01-09 07:49:12 -0700


    Welcome to Music Free Gaming. This is episode 005 recorded on 09 January 2016.

    02:00 PlayStation 4 is Huge

    06:30 Virtual Reality

    29:00 Copyright

    Music Free Static is licensed under the Standard YouTube License.

    29:45 Aftershow

    Music Free Gaming 004: Grab Bag

    2015-12-26 07:45:24 -0700

    0:00:00 Introduction

    Welcome to Music Free Gaming. This is episode 004 recorded on 26 December 2015.

    0:01:48 Grab Bag

    0:31:36 Copyright

    Music Free Gaming is licensed under the Standard YouTube License.

    0:33:11 Aftershow

    Seeing Stars for 2015-12-24

    2015-12-24 08:26:11 -0700

    Seeing Stars for 2015-12-23

    2015-12-23 06:18:36 -0700





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