Is it Simcity or SimCity? Does it matter? Will anyone notice? The recent SimCity release has caused a lot of negative heat for EA and Maxis despite the seemingly no-way-to-lose release. I have not personal played this game and will probably wait for much of this to pass until I even think about giving EA and Maxis my money or time. The following has been collected from different posters, commenters and reviews of the game Ive been able to read and watch to far. It’s not impossible for EA & Maxis to fix and improve a lot of these problems but in the mean time, it is somewhat satisfying seeing them squirm as each lie is called out and exposed by the hive mind of the internet.

How the release has gone so far for EA and Maxis:

  • Enforced a policy, disguised as a feature, of requiring their users/customers/players to always maintain an active internet connection
  • Always-On Servers were not available for the better part of the first 2-3 days of the release.Apparently, too many people logged on to their servers. They basically didnt put up enough for the demand and it all crashed. They have sense improved but there are still many stories trickling in of customers not being able to reach the servers. EA has offered a free game to those effected players. However, the recipients can only obtain the free game exactly 14 days after the release of SimCity. This is the exact same day those same users would no longer be able to return their copy of SimCity.
  • Since the servers went down and in order to get them back working again, EA & Maxis made the decision to disable some parts of the game. EA’s servers fail and their solution is to take game features away because their own always online servers cant handle process requests. These features have not been returned to the game.
  • Amazon suspended sales of the game for a period during the initial release as too many customers were complaining they could not connect. Amazon has sense removed the warning but reviews for the game continue to hover around 1.5 stars out of 5 with over 2000 reviewers.
  • The actual simulation is very broken. The path-finding system for the ‘sims’ is improving with some updates being pushed out already but there are still oddities being reported: Fire trucks can’t find fires, students can’t find schools. Traffic unable to recalculate based on fastest mode vs shortest mode. These issues have all be squashed in SC4 with community mods.
  • EA/Maxis have not been terribly honest during this entire build up and launch of the new title – misled customers about how the ‘sims’ are counted, misled about the ability for play offline, misled about the ability for 3rd party mods to the game. Ocean Quigley, lead developer of the game, was quoted saying mods would be allowed. Reality, EA will ban you from Origin for any user mods found on your game. User mods are what keep Simcity popular and so contemporary. Removing them changes one of the fundamentals of what made SC4 so successful, sharing and extending the game and creating new buildings, modes of transportation and regions. It’s their product, I realize, but in doing so they are alienating a very large, passionate and vocal audience of Simcity fans.
  • Their PR campaign continues to baffle and generally seems to just cause more problems. Yesterday, Maxis SVP, Lucy Bradshaw, explained that SimCity is really more of an MMO.
The game we launched is only the beginning for us – it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO.

So is it a strategy/simulation game or an MMO? If it is an MMO, why wasn’t this better facilitated to the customers and fan base before release? Again, just bizarre handling of a very prized brand and product. Why are they so unclear as to what game they are making? It would make sense to me to know firmly what type of game you are making, at least from a PR perspective. Lucy, had previously said Maxis/EA had a vision for the game and single player didn’t fit in that vision. So they know very well who they want playing but they have no clue what you will be playing. That sounds like a great plan to me.

Simcity is one of those games that will far out last the individuals who first conceived it or put the first parts of the simulation together. It is a timeless classic of the video gaming industry. Seeing the game and the release handled as it is, is both sad and disappointing. EA and Maxis have let a lot of the community down. Most of what EA and Maxis say now comes with very little credibility even if they were to fix many of the problems. How can you believe them? As more information about the game and the decisions EA and Maxis have made trickle out, it becomes very clear that most of the decisions being made for the release of this game were driven financially.

As an avid fan and player of Simcity, none of these items are really deal breakers for me. I could deal with the always-online, if it worked, and the community features. It makes sense moving forward with the game. I can get behind the Great Works projects that require multiple cities to cooperate to complete. Im ok with poor path-finding and being misled about certain features within the game. These can all be updated and fixed. What I cannot get over and what continues to prevent me from even entertaining this game, is how EA and Maxis have treated us, the customers, like absolutely morons and continue to do so. The game itself treats the users as if they aren’t capable of handling the stressful decision of where to start your city or where zones might go or how the roads might interact with the building forms. No, all of that is predefined. The game, as it stands, does not reflect the level of intelligence that had previously be required to play. Their PR campaign is just as bad, delivering double speak and non answers to nearly all the tough questions. It’s insulting to be treated like this but even more shameful for Maxis to continue to parade around like everything is fantastic with SimCity. Reddit user, maretard, sums it up nicely

This is the first time I’ve felt like some prick has just sold me a bag of shit after seriously trying to convince me it was caviar. And after everyone in town confronts him, he starts his explanation off with, “Sorry for interrupting you guys from eating your caviar.” It is just fucking infuriating, and makes me want to punch that prick in the face and go, “NO ONE BELIEVES IT’S FUCKING CAVIAR.”

What originally drew me to this game was its deep deep complexity. The nuance of changing this road or that road, adding an elevated rail, moving a port and seeing how those choices all effect a massive region. Now, you are given an area 1/10 of size we previously had and told you can play during this time and with these predefined sets and must only save the game on the Maxis server. Thanks but no thanks. I play Simcity 4 almost daily. I still revel in the choices Im able to make and the consequences of those choices. That seems to have been removed in favor of making EA’s shareholders more money.

It did take SC4 a handful of years to get it’s act together. It wasn’t until the Rush Hour update that really kicked up the SC4 quality to what we have today. Maybe we can expect a great turn of events in the future for EA and Maxis. Maybe they see some of their errors and change things for the better. Ill just keep playing Simcity 4 while we wait.

Doors, they’re simple enough or so I thought. Typically, a door, operates by grabbing the door handle and either pushing or pulling, while still holding the handle to the door so that it swings open to allow entry or passage through the doorway. They are typically installed on the entrances and exits to buildings, homes, restaurants, cars, trains, boats, etc and exists in almost all cultures and built environments. They come in a few different forms (sliding, swinging, drop ) but in general, doors are operated the same way around the world, or so I assume. And while doors provide us with great access they also provide a place of great stress and pain that offer, at least, a little insight into how people make decisions. Doors are a place that force individuals to interact with each other. Doors require us, as a community, to acknowledge other people and even possibly having to interact with them. Doors can be closed and opened. They can be locked and have small windows installed on them.

When first approaching a door there are a number of decisions to be made before garbing and interacting with it. Are there any additional humans around you that will be using it at nearly the same time as you? What type of door is it? If it is a glass door, can you see if someone is using it on the other side. Do you need to wait for someone else to open the door? Is there a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign posted? All of these decisions aid to create sometimes odd and uncomfortable situations that provide me with a great deal of entertainment.

And so, I pose a question, what causes individuals so much panic and failure of basic human code when they interact with doors? It’s like society comes crumbling down at the transit between door, access, and striving for less human interaction. Let me explain and give you a scenario that I experience almost daily. I approach a closed glass door to a large corporate office building that I need to gain access through. In normal circumstances, I approach the door, grab the handle, open and proceed through. What typically happens, a fellow human, using the door from the inside, approaches the door the same time I approach. At this point, some confusion can set in, however these particular doors consist of two actual door ways with two doors each, so there should be no confusion as to which door way to utilize. There is an additional assumption that is also taking place, which is much more cultural then simply choosing a door. In the United States, we walk/stay to the right. This is a generally accepted social norm of the US. So the two of us approach the doors, I grab the handle on the right most door, the other person stops, and waits for me to open the door and then proceeds through. Mind you, all of these particular doors open out, that is, you pull the door towards you, so there shouldn’t be any interference in terms of multiple individuals passing through at once. After I’ve proceeded through, the individual who was waiting will then proceed through the door I just opened that is now slowly closing. Usually people queue behind the initial person and follow through the same door as well.

This isn’t a problem when less people are around. However this same behavior is exhibited regardless of the number of doors or the number of people and so when there are large numbers of people around this behavior can actually be anti-social and harmful to everyone. Not to mention, following people so sheepishly is just not healthy. My thoughts, although anecdotal, are this:

In general, people will use the door that is already opened in lieu of selecting and opening a new door to the detriment of their own path forward. That is, they will ignore unused doors in order to use a door that is already being used by other people.

This effect cascades quickly. Ive seen this most evident on college campuses, related to their dinning halls. Students will enter and exit through the same single door when multiple other doors are available, basically causing a jam of people for no other reason than people blindly following one another. This seems unacceptable. Is this a failure of the design, human incompetence or human ignorance?

Really, the ‘why’ doesn’t matter because this is a door we are talking about. It isn’t complicated in its usage. And to be fair, there are a number of doors that just have poor design, using a grab handle when you should push or installing a twist knob when you should pull. But since, we use them daily, I would think we would improve in our use of them. When you approach your next shopping destination or library or wherever, take note of how individuals are using the doors. Do they all congregate through one door or are they using the full set?

Alfred 2 came out yesterday, exciting release for keyboard users. However, in a very odd decision, the developers didn’t include a way to move scripts and extensions over to the new 2.0 version. They suggest that each one of these should be manually recreated in the new version. They need a human touch apparently.

Extensions from v1 can’t be directly imported into v2. As Alfred v2′s workflows are so much more flexible than Alfred v1′s extensions, and every extension has been created differently, these require human intelligence to make the most of the workflows. Having said that, many v1 extensions have already been migrated to v2 by their respective developers, so check their website for more information.

Read the full v2 primer blog post.

Ive started the process. It’s not fun nor do I think this is a good way to treat your customers. If I had known before hand, that I would need to manually recreate and setup the 14 extensions and 4 hotkeys I use daily, I might have at least given the app some time to work out the kinks after its release. It also does not allow you to import your previous usage date. Not a big deal, but I did really enjoy seeing how much I use the app.

My Alfred Stats
Since Jul 1, 2012, @alfredapp has been used 7,660 times. Average 29.7 times per day

TL;DR – Great app, could have used another 30 days to tighten up the transfer process for existing customers.


A short video of scientists popping balloons filled with water in space.

The questions directed at Mr. Waltz during this press q & a are miserable. He does his best to redirect and does one better to provide really good answers.

I’ve been playing SimCity for the better part of what I can remember from my youth, almost 20 years from my estimation. I continue to play it as an adult and I don’t foresee any reason I would stop playing it. It has shaped my life, given me an understanding of our society, a grasp of how it all links together in an unavoidable manner. It has shown me basic principals of supply and demand, consequences of taxation or lack of taxation, what happens when there is no law and order and most importantly it has shown me that there is no one right way in producing a prosperous society, just a right way to care for people of the society. A game, like SimCity, doesn’t come along very often. It takes years and years to develop something as massive and as comprehensive as SimCity. Case in point, EA is releasing SimCity 5 on March 5, almost 10 years after the release of SimCity 4. I imagine it has taken a small army of developers, creatives, executives and passionate and committed family members to create this new experience. As this release looms and the SimCity folks get there wallets ready, I think as a society, we are missing a huge opportunity to use this as a vehicle for education and exposure of how our world works and specifically governments function within it.

SimCity can and does provide at least some basic understanding of how this whole modern society gets put together and held together. However, at it’s most basic, SimCity is just a simulation where the designers have given us, the players, tools and parts to manipulate the outcome of the simulation. There is no start, no end, just guidelines and boundaries. Everything else is left to the player: tax rates, zoning code, building scale, transportation, water, power, amenities… and this is where I think we can expose more of how our country and our world work. Obviously, SimCity is not a perfect example of all the problems we face as a society, but it certainly explains the basics and why we need them and how we pay for them.

The Problem

Many of the problems and differences in our government today, really don’t seem like the two sides are even talking about the same thing. I think this is a result of two very different and almost devoid lifestyles that seem to exist in America. Those who understand government and it’s function and those who do not. I don’t think this is a lack of education just a lack of exposure. The media frames this as a red and blue thing or Republican vs Democrat battle. I tend to just see folks who are either completely self-interested, folks who understand why the government would make a decision, and folks who do not have enough exposure to government to even know, they don’t know. I call this the ‘devoid participant’. We have many of them. Folks who participate in voting but whom only follow what they enjoy or believe in, never really making an objective assessment as to what it is they are voting on or opining on. These are your friends, your family, your mom, your brother, your co-workers, your mechanic, musicians, electricians, business magnates, scientists and everyone in-between.

Recently, many of these folks have begun to demonize the American government as a service to the people. “Government spends to much” is something I hear a lot. So I ask, “spends to much on what?” Defense is an obvious target but after that what specific item is the government wastefully throwing money away at? Or more so, where do you want to see money pulled away from? Your grandparents, your kids, education? I don’t know many as I can usually see the long term benefit of whatever it is the government is spending money on. I realize the military is behaving slightly less then democratically a lot of the time and that individuals can certainly corrupt this system but this is a constant work in progress. And number one for America, the government is not the enemy, at least not at this juncture. As a democratic society, we elect and basically volunteer to serve for our communities. The American democracy is meant to democratize access and attainability to information. It’s meant to provide the ability for an individual, if they so desire, to become educated, successful and prosperous. We lift people up. They come here not because of how much money they can make, although it doesn’t hurt, they come because America provides hope in a world filled with despair and abuse. They are free to choose their own path here. And it is unacceptable that any of these folks whether dirt poor or a 1%, to not understand how our government works and its purpose to our society.

Ive included some screenshots of my cities from SimCity 4 to show the level of complexity that can accomplished in the game.

basiola region

Satellite View

basiola transportation

Transportation View

basiola cbd

Downtown CBD closeup

I think many of these partisan government battles could be defused if both sides had a clear understanding of the function of the private world and the government world. It doesn’t need to be a lot of extra effort. Include it as freetime in elementary school. Include it as an extra project in middle and high school. This is a marketable game that people play on their own already. Just exposing people to SimCity will help facilitate how and why a road might cost this, or why on the other side of town they had to install some new bus stop? At the very least, it will show you that cutting taxes does nothing more then cut taxes.

I’ll leave you with a quote…

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’
-Isaac Asimov

Dubious award to bring together a bunch of great snowboarders. Works for me.

New DualShocks for the new PS4. Start and Select got dropped. The increased interfacing through the touch/motion detection is good but I will miss the little rubber nubs.


Being tall has it’s benefits, and there are many: seeing above people’s heads in the movies/theater, being able to keep your head about the crowds in the subway, reaching items high on a shelf, and having the one-up in physical activities. Many of these items I take for granted. There is, however, one area where height has it’s downsides and nothing is taken for granted. Commercial airliners. A recent article , The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization, debates the necessity for reclining seats in modern aircraft.

Blaming the battle on recliners vs non-recliners ignores the larger problem. From the article,

The problem isn’t with passengers, though the evidence demonstrates that many passengers are little better than sociopaths acting only for their own good. The problem is with the plane. In a closed system in which just one recliner out of 200 passengers can ruin it for dozens of people, it is too much to expect that everyone will act in the interest of the common good. People recline their seats because their seats recline. But why on earth do seats recline? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if seats simply didn’t?

I think, first, we all have to come to the same consensus about flying and how the airlines treat their customers. Me…

We are on this airplane for this variable amount of time and this distance and during this time we will need to be cordial, even polite to one another because the airline companies maximized their profits by using the space available in their cabin to pack as densely as possible the most amount of passengers we will tolerate on the plane. Basically, we are a commodity to be passed around. Think of it like a piece of fruit being shipped around the country.

And so, it’s not reasonable to assume reclining your seat and thereby taking the very limited space we have on a airplane, isnt going to cause some sort of conflict. And given this conflict will take place in a confined space, can we just forgo reclining for the betterment of our humanity? Add to this being tall and I can’t help but make your flight miserable if you decide to recline. Let me give you some facts. At six feet two inches, I take up nearly the entirety of the coach class seat. My knees mash directly into the seat back when I’m relaxed. My head nearly hits the overhead when I’m seated and the width of my shoulders overhangs into the adjacent sent. If I need to get up and you’re reclined, I will use your seat as a push-up. If you recline and I’m in an aisle, I will move my legs around into your seat area. I’m not an overly large guy nor overweight. I’m tall, the airplanes are not made for me. I do my best to keep my parts and pieces to myself. I can only ask that my fellow passengers accept our fate as commodities for the airline companies and forgo reclining their seat.