Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adult Swim @ NYCC: Venture Brothers, Robot Chicken, and... Emmett.


I had a great time at NYCC this year.  There was a bunch of stuff to see, some great cosplayers (which you can see in the IHOGeek Facebook galleries), and of course a good list of panels to check out.  On the latter I had the side-splitting pleasure of experiencing the Adult Swim treatment on Friday night, catching back to back panels from the Venture Brothers and Robot Chicken.  Two hours of Adult Swim personalities answering fan questions, cutting up and going nuts, and well, just hijinx in general.

… And you know how I feel about hijinx, kids.  Love 'em.


Starting with Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” hitting the speaker system, The Venture Brothers‘ Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick came out to the stage rocking black jumpsuits to a wall of pure sound from the audience.  After playing it up a little, they sat at the table and answered some fan questions.  It was a strange panel in the sense that there was no footage from the show like some of the other panels I attended, but it really wasn’t all that surprising.  Doc and Jackson let us know that they had just started working on the new season 6, and even though it was going to take a while that it is “going to be awesome” (don’t expect it until 2015).  SO i guess without any content to give you, I can at least give you some of the Q&A schtick that they put on -

On underwear: Jackson’s underwear costs $60 a pair.  Sixty.  and Doc rocks boxer briefs.  We’ll just have to take his word on that though – when chants to show the crowd came up he declared he couldn’t, because he has no ass.

On continuity: When asked whether continuity helps or hurts the show’s comedy.  Big surprise, it hurts.

On music: Doc doesn’t care who your favorite guitarist is – your favorite guitarist is Johnny Marr.

On giant robot cosplay: If you ask a question dressed as a giant robot, Doc Hammer will go into strike mode (as he appeared to do) and state his desire to jump across the table and knock you out.

Throughout the answers was of course the nutty behavior we expect from these two fancy lads, but it was their last act that got the biggest round of applause from the audience, myself included.  A young lady stepped up to the microphone and upon trying to speak, saw that she couldn’t find her words. “I’m too nervous to ask a question,” she said.  Without missing a step Doc Hammer comes back with “are you too nervous to DANCE with me?” and proceeded to dance with the young lady while the DJ played “Greased Lightning.”  And a grand time was had by all.  Check it out from Adult Swim here.

Next up was Robot Chicken. The whole crew was out in force – Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Clare Grant, Breckin Meyer all clad in cat ears, including an unannounced appearance by Macauly Culkin, who is indeed, as it appeared to me, alive and well.  The crew made a couple of big announcements, the first being a sequel to the wildly popular DC Comics Special entitled DC Comics Special II: Villains in Paradise.  They showed some footage from the special, focusing on Batman’s embarrassment about being dragged around in Green Lantern’s green bubble.  A musical bromance ensues between the two, with Batman being floated along in a green sailboat construct.

Seth Green also talked about √úbermansion – a joint project between the Robot Chicken crew and Bryan Cranston, who is fresh off the heels of the success of Breaking Bad.  Cranston voices Titanium Rex, an elderly superhero who fights the day to day perils of, you know, being old sharing the mansion with this super-team.  It’s stop motion like Robot Chicken, and from the trailer we were shown the humor is unrefined, juvenile, and let’s face it kids, right up your alley.

There wasn’t much commentary on future Robot Chicken seasons, but they did announce their Born Again Virgin Christmas Special, which will air this December.

… Oh right.  Then there was Emmett.

Early in the panel a young lad by the name of Emmett got up to the microphone to ask a questions.  The panel addressed him as “the young man in the brown hat.”  After snarkily replying “first off, it’s a Borderlands hat, so…” he went on imply that by Seth Green taking on his series Dads that it could take away from the writing of Robot Chicken.  After some more sass and Green’s “I’ma point at you and yell” antics Breckin Meyer jumped in to Green’s defense – “Hey Seth’s working REALLY HARD!”  After that Emmett became a running gag for the entire panel, cracking me up more than any of the other antics the panelists had, aside from meth jokes at the expense of Macauly Culkin.  Afterwards, in response to a simple “Hi how are you?” from a fan, Breckin’s answer was “Well I was having a great day until I met this douchebag named Emmett.”  And this went on and on for the entire panel.  Please, do yourself a favor and watch the panel here.  Warning though – the panel features a moment between Seth Green and Doc Hammer’s nipple, who made an impromptu cameo.

Stay tuned for my next installment where I talk about that time i met Neil DeGrasse Tyson!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

User Agreements are Long and Boring, but Sometimes EULA Get Rewarded

You guys know I always try to have your back on the technical front.  Whether it's just some advice on new tech that's coming out, game previews, tech law or tips on keeping your digital life safeguarded, I like helping you out.  And today what I want to talk about a bit is a little thing you all know and love (ok maybe loathe) called the end user license agreement, or EULA for short.

Sometimes it comes titled as a basic user agreement or terms of use, but whatever it's called it usually follows the same format - a monstrosity of a document drafted in some strange melange of english and legalese filling anywhere between 3 and 30 screens for the user to scrutinize, read through and process in their impatient brainspaces.  You've all been there - for gamers there's a healthy sized EULA in a lot of games before you're allowed to play, especially in MMO's.  For the IT crowd there are all sorts of licensing agreements with operating systems and most off the shelf software, requiring you to agree before you can install them on your machine to use.

Of course you could always say you don't agree to the terms, but then that would hinder your gameplay or studious productivity.  But you don't say no, do you?  You've never said no.  You've never done anything but scroll alllll the way to the bottom, check "I agree" and hit OK to move on.  Trust me, you are not alone.  TONS of people go through the same motions.  The issue is that by doing so you miss all the rules and all the meat of the agreement between you and the publisher and probably don't even know what you agreed to.  It could be a rule you don't want to agree to but just did.  Or something that wouldn't normally strike you as obvious.  If you have certain Apple software they make you agree not to use their stuff for developing nuclear weapons.  A while back if you ran Safari for Windows, you may not be allowed to install it on Windows.  If you play Diablo III for example then what you agreed to was that you owed taxes to the IRS for any profits made on the real auction house.  OR - it'll make you feel like an idiot when you post ridiculous things to Facebook.  Yeah, seriously.  It's like signing a document without reading it.

I once didn't play World of Warcraft for a two days after install because of a EULA.  I read the whole thing roughly 4 times because I swore there was a clause in there that could be interpreted as not being allowed to play in a hotel room while I'm traveling. It worked out ok, but I still had to know.

So it made me super happy to see a little experiment that was being run on the forums over at Technical Illusions.  In case you're not aware about what TI is all about, they have an extremely cool device called the CastAR under development - a set of glasses that effectively and awesomely delivers an augmented reality environment to the wearer, complete with a wide array of controls and slick head tracking.  Their forums, much like many forums you can sign up for to use, includes a terms of use/EULA that all users have to agree to before they let you on and take part in forum discussions.  And to make it a little fun, they included the opportunity for reward if you actually had the patience to read all the way through.  The final text? Here it is:

"Any information you provide on these forums will not be disclosed to any third party without your complete consent, although the staff cannot be held liable for any hacking attempt in which your data is compromised. Congratulations you read this far, send the word Toby to jenesee at technical illusions dot com to be entered for a drawing By continuing with the sign up process you agree to the above rules by Technical Illusions"

I'll give you a second to read that last little section.  Even being at the very end of the agreement, how many people do you think would have sent "Toby" over to Jenesee out of the first 100 users?  Three.  That's right, three.  So as she mentions in her experiment data, the same percentage of users that caught the clause are the same as the percentage of people in America that still use dial-up.  Yikes.  In this case the consequences were a little more friendly - sometimes reading the EULA gave a user a chance for a fun reward rather than agreeing to something accidentally.  Congratulations to those three Technical Illusions forum users.

And I guess a kudos to the 3% of you that seemingly read your EULA's.