God – Save me from screwball customers, Rock Band

God, Save Me From Screwball Customers
Quite a while back (March), I had a female customer that, while a nice lady, it just wasn’t going to work out.  I did a website for her – she didn’t know what she wanted, but she didn’t like what I did.  So I took a second shot at it, and she freaked out hating it too (but still couldn’t really tell me what she wanted.)
It happens.  Web design is a sort of artistic process, and it’s very opinion related.  I told her “well, pay $30 to move the domain, and have your new host contact me.”
Never hear back from her.  The website has been put in lockdown (all it shows is her contact information, and a login form) for 6 months so far.  THen I get an email:
“please help me i want to keep my domain name but I cant get in.”
OK…. well, registration isn’t due again until March, so that’s not a problem – it’s not going to expire.  And if she wants to move it, then all she’s gotta do is have her new host contact me.  I was clear about that before.
So, I explained it completely from beginning to end, and laid out her options.  Explained what a Registar is (companies who register domain names and handle them), what a host is, etc. so she had a full understanding of the situation.  There’s nothing really in that request that says what’s she’s wanting to do.  Simply put – I’m not a fucking psychic, please submit a coherent request as to what you’re wanting to do.  However, I didn’t put that in there 🙂
I get this back:
“Davis, I am asking you to help me discover the password to get in so that I am get in to change it and get it up and running.  Please respond consisly and shortly and keep to the issue at hand.  Not sure why you feel about me like this I thought we kind of hit it off as friends.  I am just a broke mother trying to get a start.  Help me do this by providing the neccisary information and or allowing me to purchase ownership of this domain name. 

I can’t get it up till I can get in, no pun intended!
(name with held – I’m venting, not trying to cause problems for the person ;-)”

OK, so, if I hit it off as friends with her, I’m shocked that my friend apparently hasn’t bothered to call and try and chat sometime.  No, we’re not friends.  And the guilt play at the end “I am just a broke mother trying to get a start” REALLY got my hackles up – it took me an hour before I could compose a sane reply that didn’t utilize various bits of colorful language (possibly in multiple languages.)

The only password she can have access to is the website login password.  Ok, but she hasn’t said that she wants to continue hosting with me (for $9 / mo.), or if she’s trying to do it elsewhere, or what.  Doesn’t matter to me much, just that I need I know what’s going on, and handing her the password to the website login won’t do much for her, since it’s INACTIVE due to NO PAYMENT – she was SUPPOSED TO MOVE IT!  That was the agreement originally. 

So I’ve explained it a second time.  Funny part is, once again I didn’t use curse words or anything – I kept things VERY professional (I love email.  I can write an email 3 times, then set down and compose a nice professional reply.)  But yet I get “Please respond consisly and shortly and keep to the issue at hand.  Not sure why you feel about me like this…” – somethings can’t be handled in 6 words, otherwise you exchange another dozen emails having to explain what those 6 words meant.  Been there, done that.  And that last bit… I have no idea.

If I don’t like the next response, I’m going to narrow the options:  “Please log into GoDaddy.com, create an account.  Now, fill out the domain transfer request, and put my email address on it.  They will be you’re new registar.  Thanks, Davis”  Ok, so that’s not “options” per se, but this customer just… just… ARGH!  Everything dealing with her has been a pain in the ass.

Rock Band

Yeah yeah yeah – it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Guitar Hero and games like that.  About, what, 5 months back when I moved in with Doc, I picked up a Rock Band setup.  Well, sort of.  I just bought the game and guitar on sale (at two separate stores – WalMart had the RockBand game on sale, and GameStop had the guitar by it’s self on sale), and didn’t bother with the microphone or drum kit.

When I did it, I was pretty leery of it – Guitar Hero is awesome.  An Electronic Arts based knock off could be pretty bad.  However, Harmonics developed Guitar Hero 1 & 2 before being bought by Electronic Arts (the original publisher of Guitar Hero was Red Octane, who was bought by Activision – so the rights to the game went to Activision, and the brains behind the game went to EA.  Kinda funny how that worked.)  So… there was at least a chance is was good.

Start off with, the fake plastic guitar controller feels a LOT less fake plastic than the Guitar Hero controller.  A little more heft to it, it’s larger, the buttons don’t click as loud, and (this is an important part) it wasn’t designed for midget hands to touch small buttons that are nearly in the center of the neck of the guitar.  Instead, the buttons ARE the neck of the guitar.  So you can wrap your thumb on the top, and your other four digits under the neck and play it like a realistic guitar (to a certain extent.)  (Oh, and I can’t play Guitar Hero anymore – I can’t play that piece of crap, but it’s incompatable with Rock Band, and Rock Band’s is incompatible with Guitar Hero.  Well, sort of not compatible – and that’s supposed to be fixed in the next release.)

Eventually I picked up the microphone – for under $20 🙂  Almost two months ago I saw ’em go on sale to get blown out since the new Rock Band II setup is coming out.  The only change to the mic is an integrated controller for selecting songs – and I could care less.

Surpisingly, the game is fun as hell on the vocals.  You have to tone match (you have to hit the right notes, but, you can sing an octave higher or lower), and during spoken parts it’s checking your phonetics too (Rock Band II gets a bit harder since it does both at all times.)  But I refuse to play it with anyone else around – my voice isn’t the worlds best, and I don’t bother with singing an octave lower so most things are in my… limited range.  I’ll belt it out to match the tone of the original 🙂  It’s also a little freaky – you can tweak out the mic settings so either you only hear the original singer and not yourself, or just yourself, or you can basically make it a duet and match the volumes.  Interesting.  I’ve beaten it on Medium so far, and I’ll start in on Hard one of these days.  I’ve also tried singing and playing guitar at the same time… yeah.  I’m not good enough for that.  I had figured that drumming and vocals would have been pretty stupid, but I was wrong.

For the guitar portion, I had always told myself if I beat Guitar Hero on expert, I’d plan on buying a guitar.  Uh… I’m 4 songs from having beaten the whole game on Expert now.  I don’t play Rock Band alot – I pick it up and play about two songs to blow off some steam, then get back to work (works a hell of a lot better than WoW for that sort of thing – each song is like 5 minutes long, rather than 30 minute quests 🙂  Sometime off in the far flung future, I’m going to be buying a real guitar and learning for real (not real soon though – I’m perpetually low on cash these days, and have other obligations first.)

The shocking part for me was drums.  A friend / customer of mine has the full Rock Band setup for the PS 2 – setting beside his real drum kit.  Dion’s been a drummer for ages, and well… I had to try it out while I was there fixing his computer.  For four hours (I only billed him for one of those, of course 🙂

First off, I look like Animal when I’m doing it.  Hair flying everywhere, and while Dion has this very controlled play style where he only moves what’s nessisary, my entire body moves.  A LOT.  I was drenched in sweat – that was a hell of a workout (and Dion’s abs probably got a great workout, laughing at me.)

I managed to get a couple of the easiest songs on Medium (I bypassed easy), but well… I sucked.  Dion laughed a lot, and spent some time teaching me how to be a drummer – how things work, what you’d see on a real drum kit, how some of the rythms work, etc.

Three days later Dion calls me up and has problems again, so we spent all night working on his computer and playing Rock Band again.  The turning point for me was when I picked “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, and Dion comments that even on medium, that can be a hard song because of how the rhythm works.  I passed it with 80%.

Dion was shocked – his best at it on Medium was 88%.  He said “No way, you’re doing that again”, and I did 82% – a slight improvement.  I’m not sure what “clicked” in me, but, suddenly I was getting the whole drums thing.  I still looked like Animal playing, but I was getting it.

About a week later, Dion calls me yet again, this time to look at his brother’s computer (which was a lost cause unfortunately, but Dion handed me back $20 of my $55 fee as I declared it a boat anchor in the first 5 minutes of being there).  We started playing again, and I was going to take on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who (I IMMENSELY enjoyed that on the guitar and vocals part of the game), and Dion laughs and tells me there’s no way.  Yeah…. passed it just fine.  

At that point we started moving to Hard instead of Medium, and well… I’m not fucking bad at it at all.  There’s a lot I can pass without too much problem.  And yeah, I still look like Animal playing.  The foot pedal on some songs still drives me nuts though – I can play it just fine when it’s on beat with the rest of the rhythm, but if it’s off from that it completely blows my fucking mind and I’ll start failing the song quickly 🙂

So at some point I’ll invest in the drum set for the game.  $59 unluckly, for yet another toy – but one that, if the guitar has been any indication, I’ll enjoy the shit out of.

To me, here’s the shocker:  Guitar Hero worked, in my opinion, because it stuck with one thing (the guitar), and did it well.  Rock Band doesn’t – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, and Drums.  Yet it does it FAR FAR FAR better than Guitar Hero did!  It’s the only video game I’ve ever seen that I thing that really was worth a $200 price tag after all (kinda wish I would have bought the whole thing at once after all).  It’s that bloody fun.

Oh, and after the whole drumming thing, I do have my eye on something in the very far flung future.  The ION Drum Kit.  It’s a Rock Band 2 drum kit – except, you can hook it up to a drum machine (basically a synth for drums that properly handles things like pressure sensing of the drum pads, etc) and it’s a real drum kit too.  Hmmm – what a cool idea.  Plus it’s got the proper layout for a real drum kit (cymbals, etc.)   That makes me wonder what Rock Band 3 would be like – would they make a guitar that’s a bit the same, where you can very easily transition between the game and playing for real?  I like where this could be going – a whole generation of gamers who learn something about music for real would be kinda interesting.  (The ION Drum Kit is $300, and well… unlike the regular drum kit, it doesn’t just fold up in the corner.  It’s massive – but, duh, it’s a drum kit, of course it’s massive.  Even if I DID have the money right now, I don’t have anywhere I could put it!)

I’m sure when I started writing this I had a story I was trying to tell… yeah, it’s gone.  🙂  Chalk it up to me getting a little to wrapped up about ranting about one of my obsessions 😉

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