Author Archives: Katie

Sugary Smash Chronicle: Thoughts on King.com’s trademark brouhaha

The recent approval by the EU of King.com’s trademark on the words of their own title “Candy Crush Saga” for use in game and app titles, and the resulting flurry of infringement allegations, is of particular interest to me. Not as a CCSaga player, although I am one. (Level 491, used to comment on my levelup posts with helpful advice for other players, have accidentally spent real money but never won a level by using purchased powerups.) Not because I think it’s ridiculous, although I do. Not because I’m outraged about one more case of the big guy going after the little guy (“All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land” excepted and notwithstanding), although I am. Not because I think CCSaga has used underhanded tricks to winkle money out of its players, or because I dislike the deliberate manipulation of addiction mechanisms by game developers, or because I resent the social gaming model for making participation as much a responsibility to your friends as a pastime for yourself. All relevant and true, but the real reason I’m following this story is that I’ve been involved with King.com since before CCSaga existed. I know where it came from, I’ve been watching its evolution, and I’m interested to see what this episode does for (or to) the company as a whole. Continue reading

“Lost” Panel Made of Win

One of the coolest things to happen at last year’s Lost panel was Hurley Guy: a large, scruffy, longish-haired guy coming up to the Q&A mike wearing a green shirt. The producers were as amused as the audience, and his prize for asking his question was a tub of Dharma ranch dressing. I caught sight of him again on Friday afternoon of this year’s con, dressed this time in a yellow “I (heart) my Shih Tzu” shirt and pajama pants with a plaid bathrobe. I hung around him, waiting to ask for a picture, as he talked with his friends about when they planned to get to the line the next morning. The consensus was 4 a.m., which I found ridiculous. Later, after giving up on the picture, I learned that people were already camping that night. Even more ridiculous. But for the kind of panel that this year’s, the final Lost panel, was, I can see how they’d decide it was utterly worth it.

I arrived on the Plaza Park lawn as soon as the 8 a.m. shuttle could get me there. No one noticed I was dressed to resemble Kate, and Hurley Guy was nowhere in sight to beg for a photo. The doors opened at about 10:30 for the 11:00 panel, and on the way in we were handed pencils and fliers for “Lost University” (and I also got the “9” card being handed out as a promo for 9). We found out what that was all about at the beginning of the panel, when a clip advertising the website (lostuniversity.org) was played. I haven’t looked at the site, so I don’t know if it’s another ARG or another fan-gathering site. But with “test” questions and “schedules” involving polar bears and hunting boars, it’s bound to be at least slightly funny.

I believe this was also where there were some clips played of “things that might happen” in an altered world of Lost. I can’t remember precisely where this bit was, because I was a good fan and didn’t take pictures of any of the videos. The lineup included a commercial for Mr. Cluck’s featuring Hurley, who had apparently bought the company and had nothing but GOOD luck since winning the lottery. The restaurant was featuring “Australian” combos to commemorate his return from his walkabout trip. Then there was a segment from a “Most Wanted Fugitives” show, letting us know that Kate was still on the run. Apparently, instead of killing her stepdad in the explosion, she’d actually killed the underling he’d sent back to the house to collect his tools.

The panel itself started with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof saying that they planned to make this mostly Q&A, to give back to the fans. Continue reading

Why Las Vegas is a BAD idea for Comic-Con

It seems as though every year, around the time of hotel registration for Comic-Con International, people start clamoring for the con to move from San Diego to Las Vegas. More hotel rooms! A bigger convention center! Gambling! Strippers!

It makes me want to headdesk.

Now, I don’t hate Vegas. I’m not ZOMG in love with it, but I’ve been there more than once and I don’t think it should be removed from the face of the earth. What I believe about Vegas is that it is a law and a destination unto itself, and that everyone should be able to choose whether they go based on the merits of the place, not on the merits of what else might be going on there that isn’t a usual part of the location. Please keep this in mind as I present my list of Reasons Not to Move CCI to Las Vegas:

1. Weather. San Diego may be incredibly hot some years, but it’s coastal. There are breezes a lot of the time, and it’s often quite bearable. Vegas is inland desert and is 99% guaranteed to be nasty hot in July/August. Part of the crazy fun of CCI is seeing costumes on the street, which would become darn near impossible for a lot of people given the temperature.

2. Distance. I’m not talking about the distance for people to get there (though I will in a bit), but the distance between things. It can take over half an hour to get from the front door of one hotel to the front door of the next one over. In San Diego, it’s pretty easy to leave the convention center, go find food that’s not jacked up in price for an inferior product, and come back. In Vegas, unless you take the monorail, that’s a pipe dream, especially given that the convention center is off the Strip and not really near a lot of hotels. Keep reading for more. Continue reading

Let your fingers do the shushing

We’ve been getting more spam phone calls than usual the last couple of days, to the point where cursing out the recorded messages is actually getting a little boring. So it was almost a relief to pick up today and hear, “Hello, this is the Yellow Pages calling to update your free listing.” To me, Yellow Pages = White Pages, and we did indeed move last year, so this sounded quite normal and permissible. The caller went on. “We show the name of the business as Kelson Vibber, at [right number, wrong city and zip]. Is that correct, ma’am?”

Even though she pronounced “Vibber” correctly, I immediately had warning bells. Business? Since when did we become a business? And where did they get the address? It’s not like we use it for selling anything except eBay items, and we use the right address for that. “It’s…not…,” I said, trying to decide what to do. I don’t recall whether she asked what it was, but I know what I said next. “I can’t give you the corrected information. The person who can isn’t in right now.”

“Well, when will that be possible, because we need it by 5 pm today.”

I didn’t think of it then, but there was a good reason my hackles went even further up at that: classic phish/scam technique of creating artificial pressure to give out data. Why the hell would a legit business wait until the last minute to try to get this info? “He won’t be available before then.”

“Well, I’ll try to call back, but you might not get your listing.”

Seeing as I couldn’t find a listing for us in any likely category of either the AT&T Yellow Pages or their local “companion” directory, and we’re not even in the online white pages under any address, this doesn’t seem like a very substantial threat. Listing us with an incorrect address isn’t going to make much difference to anyone. Not to mention the part where, hello, we’re not a business.

The good: the caller didn’t announce that the call might be recorded, and in any case I don’t recall answering “yes” to anything. Also, if they call back, I’m going to ask what we’re supposedly listed under, just to see if they say “auto insurance” or something bogus like that. The bad: actual businesses might fall for a scam worded like this. And if it’s a scam, who’s to say they weren’t recording the call anyway? I’m very glad I didn’t actually say any of the real address. The ugly: “Yellow Pages” and the walking-finger logo have apparently never been copyrighted, so there’s no way to hang scammers using that tactic. And people have reported being scammed by the Online Yellow Pages and receiving bogus bills for services they never asked for, subsequent to calls very much like this.

Moral of the story: beware of anonymous callers who can pronounce “Vibber.” (OTOH, if someone reading this is from the Yellow Pages and can verify that this is indeed your general and customary business practice, by all means let us know. And then point someone in management here, so they can see that their customers think their practices suck.)