Had To Be Aggies…

From the TTI-TDS Department of Texas A&M University:

“Thank you for your interest in the Senior Web Applications Developer position within the TTI – TDS Department. The response to the posting included many qualified individuals with documented relevant education and experience.  After an extensive review, it was determined that another candidate would more closely satisfy our immediate need.”

Sheesh, and I thought I was wordy.

Bye-Polar

“I would like to withdraw from being considered for a developer position and instead want to be considered for a support position.  Thank you.”

I sighed as I clicked the “Send” button.  The email was going to an HR person at a local company that I had interviewed with earlier that day. We had been talking about a programming job, and I made the mistake of griping about having worked in under less-than ideal conditions at my last few jobs.  After hearing that diatribe, she asked me if I would instead be interested in a support job.  I said “no” out of reflex, but I think it was more likely because I wanted the higher salary that the programming job would command.

I was deluding myself, though.  I’m done with programming as a career.  From a mental standpoint, it probably was over months ago, but I just didn’t want to admit it.  Instead I chose to hang in there in the hope that things would somehow get better, but they didn’t, and so here I am.

I have always wanted to work with computers, and programming seemed to be a logical career choice. As time went on I gradually grew disenfranchised with it, though.  It did not help that I have never worked in a place where things were done “right.”  Instead, proper procedure and best practices were sacrificed to what I like to call The Altar of the Almighty Deadline.

I was chatting online with a friend about the whole situation shortly after the interview and during the conversation I had an interesting epiphany.  I started to wonder if my disinterest in programming as a job was related to my newfound interest in creative endeavors.  After all, I only really dove into creative things like writing, blogging and podcasting just over a year and a half ago.

I’m too lazy to look back through old blog entries and see if the two match up, but it raises an interesting question: am I starting to become more right-brained?  If so, does it have something to do with my desire to get away from programming?  The fact that I have also thrown my hat into the ring for technical writer jobs is also a telling sign.

Maybe I’m tired of being isolated all day at work and want to do something that involves contact with people, even if it is just over the phone or e-mail.  I worked with some great folks at my last tech support job, and heck, if the company had not hit a rough patch and started laying off, I might still be there today.  Or maybe its something more basic than that.  Maybe I just want to be as happy at work as I am outside of it.

Whatever the reason, I’m look forward to embracing a different side of the IT field, and some opportunities are starting to open up, so we shall see!

RANDOM REVIEW: Band Hero

Gamers often complain about ‘those bastards that buy Madden every year.’  Well, I have to confess, I am one of those bastards, but instead of Madden, music games are my sweet, sweet digital crack.

Of the thirty-eight boxed Xbox 360 games gracing my living room, nine of them start with “Guitar Hero.”  If we add five Rock Band games (no Green Day for me, thank you) two Karaoke Revolution games, and DJ Hero, that brings the total of music-based games in my Xbox 360 library to seventeen.

As I’ve written before, music and videogames are the two great tastes that taste great together.  So yeah, when it comes to music games, I am “that guy.”

I was mildly interested in Band Hero when it was initially announced as a “family friendly” version of Guitar Hero, something for parents that weren’t interested in introducing their younglings to the musical stylings of Slayer or Nirvana.  While some of the songs on the Band Hero setlist looked like they would be fun to play, there wasn’t enough Good Stuff to justify dropping sixty bucks on the game.  I figured I’d wait for the inevitable price drop.  Fast-forward about a year later and I find that my Friendly Neighborhood Electronics Store has marked it down all the way to $17.99, so I figured, why not?

Band Hero isn’t quite what it says on the box.  It isn’t just “family friendly Guitar Hero.”  Don’t get me wrong, it is family friendly, but that phrase only tells part of the story.

Band Hero is Guitar Hero for girls.

Band Hero Interface
Its so sparkly!!

Seriously, there is no better way to put it.  Take Guitar Hero 5, coat it in pastel colors, dip it in glitter, drop several scoops of pop music on top and you get Band Hero.  There isn’t anything inherently wrong with making a music game for the younger crowd, though.  After all, their competitors at Harmonix made Lego Rock Band so that kids can have some fake plastic rock fun, too.  But for Pete’s sake, the interface looks like it was designed by Lisa Frank. I haven’t seen that much purple since the 80’s.

Also, Lego Rock Band, at least has some, well, rock with Lego versions of Queen, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop as well as music from those iconic performers.  Band Hero has Taylor Swift, Adam Levine and No Doubt.  Yeeeah.  I’m sorry, but except for maybe No Doubt, those guys don’t exactly bring the house down.  Even then, there are some pretty cool classics we haven’t seen in any of these games before like “Mr. Roboto” by Styx, “Black Cat” from Janet Jackson and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

One feature that I found odd was the ability to perform as your Avatar in the game.  The Avatars look just

Xbox Avatar in Band Hero
SECURITY! There's a Muppet on stage!

plain weird on stage next to the other characters, like Muppets.  Otherwise, it’s Guitar Hero 5, which was pretty good from a technical standpoint but had awful music.  I actually had more fun playing this game than Guitar Hero 5, which says something about how lousy 5’s songs were.

Your decision to purchase the game (or really any music game, for that matter) will depend on how many of its songs you like.  A quick dash to Wikipedia will determine whether Band Hero is worth it to you.

If you have kids, or just really like pop music, there are worse games than Band Hero to drop a twenty on.  Underneath the sparkly presentation is a pretty good game.  Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to play some Gears of War in a feeble attempt to salvage what masculinity I have left.

Rock Band for the Xbox 360 gets a 3 out of 5: G00d

I grade on a 1 to 5 scale.  My “review philosophy” can be found here.