Saturday, March 28, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Well, if you are like the majority of America, you are afflicted with March Madness right now. Unfortunately, the madness this March has been rather tame. Indeed, it's more like March Eccentricity or possibly March Unusual Behavior. Perhaps a psychologist would more accurately be able to describe the precise nature of March's mental lucidity. But I digress. My point is it's not March Madness without upsets. Otherwise, the tournament becomes incredibly predictable and loses a lot of its charm.

Over the past two years, that is precisely what happened. Last year, in defiance of all conventional wisdom, all four number 1 seeds met in the Final Four. This year, all four number 1 seeds have a good chance of repeating that feat (with all four playing for a spot in the Final Four). And the lowest (or is it highest?) seeded of their opponents this round is a 3 seed. With the exception of a few flukes in the first round, there have been no genuine surprises this year. But what has caused the death of the Cinderella in March?

I believe that it is because of the NBA instituting it's 1 year of college ball policy. According to ESPN Radio, the number one thing college football recruits consider is the recent success of the program. I suspect the thought process for basketball recruits can't be much different. Therefore, with waves of top notch high school players being forced to go into college ball to develop their talents, the beneficiaries would be high profile, successful schools. After all, if your plan is to only stay a short while to hype up your draft status, then you want to play on the best team with the most national recognition. Whereas a few years ago, before the rule, a school like George Mason could make an improbable run to the postseason. Now, it's nothing but the powerhouse university's like UConn and UNC.

The irony is that the 1 year of college ball rule has dramatically improved the quality of draft picks and the entertainment level of college basketball's regular season. But there are always unintended consequences to every decision.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What I've Been Up To

Hello again. It's been a very fast March. Over the past year, I've been incredibly busy filming news stories for my last few Broadcast Journalism courses. Uploading the videos has been a tedious process because I can only upload my videos on a Mac computer, which I only have access to on campus. But today, while working on a project, I decided to upload a few of my stories.

Right now, it's a very incomplete portfolio. I uploaded my first package ever (the technical term for the stories I make), and then two of my favorite packages from this.

Hurray for the internet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Every time I think I'm out, they drag me back in

Well, it's been a busy and exciting month. Unfortunately, the busyness and excitement continue into this update so I'll have to be brief. As has been previously established by anyone who's spent 15 minutes with me, I am addicted to Rock Band. It provides people who failed 6th grade band (who may or may not be writing this) with the delusion that they actually have musical talent akin to the most successful bands (and Freezepop. Oooooo, I burned them good). And to capitalize on the fact, they've released 3 or more additional songs for the game every week since it came out. This is an ingenious system because, eventually, a song the player likes will come out.

However, there's a crippling problem when it comes to paying for the songs. It's not that the songs are expensive (unless you think $2 is espensive these days), but the fact that they only accept Bizarro Internet Currency or "Microsoft Points". Now, I like to believe I understand how pretend currency works. That's what all those hours bonking alligators on the head at Chuck E. Cheese's was about (convert Dollars into Quarters into Tokens into Tickets into Novelty Glasses with the Giant Nose and Mustache). But "Microsoft Points" is easily the most confusing. To begin with, rather than pick an easy number, the conversion rate of points to dollars 80 to 1. It's inconvenient to realize that 1600 points really costs $20, but you can handle it. But then there's the issue of how's its sold.

Most basic imaginary systems of currency lets you deal in units of 1 and 5, because you can easily reach most numbers that way. But not with Bizarro Internet Currency (BIC). It's sold both at stores and over the internet, for consumer convenience. Logically, one might expect that they'd be sold in similar quanities. After all, it's essentially a gift card. It shouldn't matter where you purchase it and you should be able to control how much you can purchase. But that's not the case. In stores, you can buy either $20 or $50 worth of BIC. It's a little extreme. But you figure there might be some logistics issues with gift cards being sold by a third party vendor that would limit the variety. So, certainly, buying BIC must be a much simpler process online.

Ironically enough, this is the most complex part. See, with $20 and $50 coming in at 1600 and 4000 BIC respectively, you instinctively can tell there's an unusual and inconvenient exchange rate. But online, they intentionally mislead you. They sell BIC in units of 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000 points. But that totals to multiples of $6.25. And since the companies who sell their digital goods base their prices off of reality, instead of Microsoft's Insan-o-bux, you almost always have to pay more than what the product sells for. Using the Rock Band example, getting anywhere from one to three songs would require the exact initial cost. And even if you found three songs you wanted, you'd still have a meaningless quarter left on your account that was wasted.

Anyways, the point of those 500 or so words of introduction was I had finally broken free of the system of overpaying and repression. With the latest batch of songs, I had whittled my BIC account down to 10 points. Sure, it's not completely empty, but I'm willing to pay 16 cents extra for all the stuff I got. It finally seemed like I would be free. But then this happened. They actually listened to me! At the worst conceivable time ever, no less.

Oh, the gouging never ends! It goes on, and on, and on and on!