My Computing Journey – Part 1 – Commodore 64

I often offhand mention the idea of “I’ve used computers my whole life” but I am not sure I’ve ever really gone into a lot of detail on what exactly that means. (I probably have but my memory is pretty shit these days). I’ve decided it might be fun to do a sort of, reminiscing series on the various “key computer points” in my life. Maybe that’s not quite the right way to put it, but basically, the eras’ surrounding specific computers in my life and what I remember about my time using them.

I’m considering doing something similar for consoles and gaming, but if I do, it’ll be over on Lameazoid,.com.

The start of this series though would have to be the Commodore 64. I actually am not real sure if the Commodore classifies as a computer or a console, I certainly used it more for games, but it has a keyboard so I’m going with Computer. My memory on exact time frames is a little shady, but I remember using the Commodore both at the 3rd house I lived in and at my aunt and uncles, so I would have been somewhere around the age of 4-5 at the start of using it. There was some overlap as well with the second computer I’ll cover next week, the Franklin PC-8000. At some point my parents got rid of the Commodore after it was stored away in an attic for a while, and I kind of wish I had kept it.

Like I mentioned, I used this computer for playing games more than anything. I don’t really remember playing a lot of Atari, a friend had one and my out of state grandparents had one, but our first console was the NES, so my first gaming exposure was one of the -ish.

Looking for some images to go along with this post, it seems like several of these games were on cassette tapes. I actually have no memory of using Cassette games at all, though it’s possible I did. I believe most of what I had played was on 5.25″ diskettes, or in a few cases, cartridges. Loading the system would bring up this blue screen. I remember you had to do this set of commands to run games, something like “Load *.* ,8,1” then I think it was just “run” or maybe “run *”. I imagine there was more that could be done at that blue and light blue colored command prompt screen but I never really ventured much beyond that.

A few games I remember from the Commodore, though a couple I am not sure I actually enjoyed, and I am sure there are others I DON’T remember.

Park Patrol

I remember this game, most of all, and I would consider it to be my favorite game on the Commodore. I can still hum the music today, 40 some years later. You play as a park ranger, rescuing people who are drowning in the river. The top half of the screen is the shore, the bottom half of the screen is the river.

The map loops, maybe it’s actually a lake.

Whatever the case, you had to avoid snakes and turtles and you had a little raft you had to use to rescue people in the water. This was also my first experience stomping turtles, not Mario, at least I think you would defeat the turtles by jumping on them. I do remember when you died, you would shrivel up into your hat, which kind of resembled the turtles, so we’d joke that you got turned into a turtle.

Ghostbusters

I have a love hate for this game. Ghostbusters at the time was super cool. So hey, cool, a Ghostbusters game! But my friends and I could never figure out what to do in this game. You would select a car, and some supplies and drive around collecting ghosts and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man would crush buildings and then you’d lose the game. Later (like, much later), i think I looked into it and you were supposed to collect the key and lock and take them to the center building to defeat Gozer.

It had some fun elements, but it also was frustrating and tedious.

Kids on Keys, Wizard of ID

I think I still have Kids on Keys in a tote somewhere. I don’t actually remember much about that game other than it was typing practice. Which is why I’m looping it in with Wizard of ID, which was also a typing game. I suspect this was the true reason we HAD the Commodore in the first place, because my mom would play these typing games, to get proficient for work.

I was bad at Wizard of ID, though I didn’t have a need to type a lot back then, and I didn’t quite get the point I think. I do know the big smoke monster was kind of creepy and it would slowly become more and more enraged unless you fed it letters (by typing), until it flamed you and you died.

BC’s Quest for Tires

One last sort of, honorable mention. This was one my uncle had so I only played it occasionally, but I do remember it. I almost looped it in with the typing games because I could swear it was a typing game and the faster you typed, the faster the little dude would go. It seems that was not the case, or maybe it had a typing mode that wasn’t the main game.

It’s essentially just an Endless Runner game. You have to jump and duck to avoid obstacles as you speed along the map. I don’t remember if the map was actually “endless”.

The other main thing I remember about this game is that it is based on a newspaper comic strip. Which seemed really weird, even then. I mean, I knew games could be “based on things”, there was a Ghostbusters game. But the newspaper comic strip part seemed odd.

Weekly Wrap Up (07.30.2023 to 08.05.2023)

Who knows how long this one will last, but I’ve decided to try something different for Saturdays. Basically, just a sort of, rambly, weekly wrap up of… life. No structured requirements, maybe nothing happened and it ends up being short. Basically just sort of, straight regular journaling. What I’ve been doing, what I’ve gotten new, any major events, that sort of thing. I won’t discuss work really, except in vague terms, for a variety of reasons.

Something little I’ve been wanting to do, I added some outside speakers to my music set up, so I can listen to music outside while on the deck. I actually mounted them below the deck, so they would work above and below, but if it doesn’t really work out I can always get a second set for above.

The big thing this week was working on doing Blaugust. I’m taking the mad man route of trying to post at least one post a day. So far, I have…. some… pre written and scheduled, and some TBD. I doubt I keep up this pace after August. I usually keep gaming posts on Lameazoid, but it helps a lot that I’m bored of Fortnite so I’m not super playing it these days. I managed to get Optimus Prime out of the Battle Pass, which that and Summer Meowscles were basically all I cared about. I will probably skip next BP and not play for a while unless it has some super amazing stuff in it. I saw a rumor they may do an Overwatch Collab, which…. I would be really likely to go in for. Because I really like Overwatch as a concept, but I absolutely HATE Overwatch as a game.

Anyway, grinding a game like Fortnite normally eats up too much of my spare time. It’s Unhealthy gaming honestly. In slightly more healthy gaming, I picked up the Avengers game, because it’s being de-listed and it’s on sale for $6, and a bundle of Train Simulator add-ons from Fanatical, because maybe one day I will get on a TrainSim kick like I do with Truck Simulator.

It’s probably worth mentioning new toy stuff for the week too, though that really is also a Lameazoid topic, so I’ll keep it to a minimum. My Pile of Loot from BBTS reached it’s 90 days and needed shipped, so I’ve added that to the collection. I also picked up a lone Transformer from Ross. Let’s just make this one a list.

  • Transformers Kingdom Deluxe Pipes (why did I never get Huffer, the superior one???)
  • Star Wars Black Series Cassian Andor and B2EMO – I need a better Cassian than the awful original Rogue One release and this two pack was cheaper than a single BS figure.
  • Star Wars Black Series Mara Jade – It’s fucking Mara Jade. No more reason needed. Why the Sequels cut all the existing post OT lore is beyond me.
  • Power Rangers Lightning Collection Rita Repulsa – My PRLC is pretty much limited to mighty Morphin’, and it was basically there except for Rita, which was previously only available in a 2 pack with Lord Zedd, whom I already had. Now I have Rita, and she’s a pretty good figure, but I’m a sucker for cloth goods.
  • Power Rangers Lighting Collection Minotaur – OK, Might Morphin’, and any cool monsters they put out. And I need to stop buying the monsters at full retail. They ALWAYS go on markdown/clearance. So far I’ve gotten them all except Pumpkin Rapper, which I should have done, and the Snake Man, which hits all the right buttons, but I can’t bring myself to get it because it looks kind of lame. Anyway, a Minotaur figure is useful to have in general for fantasy stuff.
  • Jada Toys Street Fighter Ryu – Everyone in the toy community is stoked for this line, and Jada in general. Now that I have the first two releases, I’m more excited, for Street Fighter and for their Mega Man stuff. Because these are good figures.
  • Jada Toys Street Fighter Fei Long – I like him even more than I do Ryu.

Something else that might be useful here, with no context, and mostly for my own reference, I’m going to throw out a list of new (to me) music I may have listened to this week. It’s easy at the moment because I’m trying out Apple Music. i tend to keep this huge list of random notes of “Artists to listen to,” but never actually get to them. I want to try to get better about just, throwing them onto the endless playlist and listening to them.

Ok, I said no context, but maybe, a LITTLE bit of context might be useful.

  • Apple had one of their suggested playlists that was just called something like “African Music”, which was a collection of music, by artists from Africa. Lots of sort of hip hip/reggae sort of music. It was good stuff, but I skipped over it after a bit because I wanted to get to well, something else. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it, I just wanted to try other new music.
  • Let’s Eat Grandma – I think this one was a Facebook or Instagram Ad. I want to say it was decent.
  • Bluhm – I think this was another FB/IG “Suggested post” This is actually a fairly common place for me to find suggestions.
  • Laufey – Ben Folds is hosting or performing with, I’m not sure what, but basically, Ben Folds and Dodie are doing a thing with Laufey, so I thought I would give her music a try. It’s pretty good. Dodie-ish.
  • Skyr0 – Another Instagram suggestion, but this time it was a Reels suggestion. Some pretty interesting Synth music.
  • Blondshell – A bit more rock/alternative, a photographer I follow who seems to share some of the same tastes in music posted photos from a Blondshell show, so I decided to give it a listen.
  • Jade Bird – Suggested I think in the Lauren Mayberry Discord. I need to give it another go to jog my memory of if I liked it.
  • Half Gringa – One of the acts that’s going to be at Pygmalion, which I am going to in a month or so. So I wanted to listen. I decided I liked it enough to try to catch the live act, then realized it’s not actually at the event I am going to, it was just, posted by the event’s IG.
  • Claud – This one IS going to be at Pygmalion, and right before Lauren’s show, so I’ll definitely be catching their show. It’s good stuff. Some strong “King Princess but maybe not quite as raunchy” vibes.
  • David Byrne/Talking Heads – Occasionally I am reminded of some older artists and I decided that I can’t actually remember which songs they did, so I’ll throw on the “Essentials” list from Apple Music. This was the case for David Byrne. I’ve decided I don’t really care that much for David Byrne, though Talking Heads are decent..
  • David Bowie – It was also the case for David Bowie, except I know what songs David Bowie did, I just…. wanted to listen to a bunch of Bowie.

Why is Advertising So Blatantly Bad

There is some sort of weir shift going on where suddenly companies are increasingly cracking down on thing like Ad Blockers and shared accounts and just generally trying to “monetize more”. I don’t know the in and out details of business operation but I saw it mentioned that part of this is related to the recent raising of interest rates. Essentially, when interest Rates are very very low, debt is profitable (somehow??), so investor types would be more willing to let a company lose money or just not be as profitable as they “could be”. I’m not an expert on this. The moral of that comment was more that because interest rate are rising, investors want more actual return, so prices get raised and crackdowns come on ad blocking.

The focus for today is more on the ad blocking part, and the ads in general.

What Is Ad Blocking

In case you’re loving under a rock, it’s probably good to touch on what Ad Blocking is, and to some extend, how to do it. The what is pretty easy, it’s in the name, it’s the blocking of ads on websites or videos. There are a ton of ways this can be done, I use several layers of blocking myself, and see very very few ads when browsing online.

The simplest and easiest is with browser plug ins. The most effective and easiest is U-Block Origin. At one point there was something just called U-Block, which wasn’t as good, and there are also a couple just called Ad-Block, and Ad-Block Plus, neither of which is as effective. U-Block Origin is the one to use. By default, it chops out a LOT of ads. It also has tools built in to create custom filters as well. For example, I have mine set up to block anything from twitter.com and x.com, because Fuck Musk. I also use the built in element picker to block some annoying “subscribe” pop overs on Youtube. Another useful use for the element picker on Youtube is blocking those annoying “watch next” thumbnails that pop over the last 20 seconds of every video.

You don’t need all this extra though, since out of the box, it does it’s basic purpose.

It’s not always just about ads, I have several other plug ins to filter my web experience. I have one that specifically blocks any Rupert Murdoch owned media. I have a similar one that blocks websites known to spread Climate change denial-ism. Another good one is Consent-O-Matic, which will automatically reject any non essential cookies from those annoying GDPR pop ups.

I also would recommend Privacy Badger and Ghostery to block invisible ad trackers that are present all over the webs.

But how do these work?

All of the data coming to you PC runs to your browser, these tools simply intercept and strip out known sources of advertisers and problematic privacy trackers. When a web page is rendered to your view, on the back end code, it’s made of a bunch of blocks of code for each element. When a filtered element is encountered, it simply, isn’t sent to the display and rendered. There are a lot of easy way to detect ads for these tools, many use standard image resolutions, for example, so any image of that height and width get filtered. Another way to detect them is if they come from 3rd party websites, since most advertisers are private data hoovers, they want to serve the ads directly so they can track data about the user attached to their browser or IP address.

Another layer I use to filter ads is PiHole, which is a DNS server designed to run on a Raspberry Pi and filter network traffic before it even reaches your machine. Without too much complicated technical detail, DNS is essentially the phone book of the internet. Your computer or phone is going through a DNS server somewhere anytime you connect to a domain, because servers, that host websites, all use numerical IP addresses. It’s a name vs a phone number. So the Pi-Hole, when a request is made to a known ad provider, the returned “IP Address” or “phone number” is simply blank.

Why Block Ads Though

I want to make it clear here, I am not opposed to web ads, I am not opposed to people making money on their content. My problem is with how shitty ads have become. It’s not just web ads that are the problem, but ads in general. I kind of blame Google and the algorithmizing of ad networks. In the dark ages, a company would generally have sales people who would court companies and try to get them to advertise to their customers. These ads were “targeted” based on the customer data of the website and generally, related to the website itself.

Presumably, if you’re reading a technology news website, you would be interested in ads for computers or phones. That sort of thing.

Google, the largest and most dominant ad provider, destroyed this.

Google is a massive privacy nightmare and hoovers up every scrap of data about everyone that it can. I can’t express just how much data Google collects, and I’m not going to try. They use this to serve ads to people running it’s ads. The main “selling point” here is that instead of ads targeted to potential users of a website, they get targeted directly at users. Maybe Google had decided I am interested in technology products, so when browsing technology websites, I might get technology ads, but these same ads now ALSO track me around when I am looking into other topics, like toys, or food, or anything.

In theory, it’s better, right?

But is it? If my mindset is on toy news, I’m going to be at best, distracted by an ad for a phone, more likely annoyed, because I my mind right now, it’s on technology.

But what do I know, I am sure there is some marketing group who has done some research showing it’s still “effective”.

The problem I have with this is that it all just becomes an annoying circle jerk of bad. Maybe the ad is “effective” because it’s the only ad I’ve seen for a month. Which just reinforces the idea that this targeting is good. It’s not actually good, it’s just created a bubble which creates a self fulfilling bubble of accuracy. Companies no longer have to compete with each other to get my eyeballs, they just pay the most to beat me over the head with their product until I submit.

Which kind of leads into the bigger issue.

Companies don’t have to actually make good products to advertise at me. There is just this increasingly rapid downward spiral of garbage being pushed through advertising. Shitty fake T-shirts that are 3 sizes too small even when you order the 5x size. Ads for crappy cash grab mobile games that show one game and are in actuality something completely different. Ads for bootleg products through Amazon from “companies” that won’t exist in 2 weeks.

Anyone can pay pennies to each 1000 people and the goal is no longer showing off a quality product to get sales, it’s just to show off any product to get any sales.

This creates another self fulfilling bubble, because it decreasing the effectiveness of ads in general, as people become less and less trusting of this bull shit. Legitimate companies stop advertising on these platforms, as people stop clicking and start using more ad blocking mechanisms. The ads become worthless to buy for any real business or service and scammers don’t mind because increasingly only the most gullible marks start falling for their scams.

It also hurts businesses that rely on ad revenue. The big one is online publications, newspapers, magazines, blogs. More people block ads, less people click ads, now they have to run more ads to make ends meet, and the problem just becomes worse as more people get tired of ads EVERYWHERE and more people block them or stop visiting.

It’s Hard to Feel Bad About Ad-Blocking

This also is a bit self inflicted, so it’s hard to feel bad for these companies. I feel a little bad for the writers, who probably just want to write, it’s not their fault. But when some large publication decides it no longer wants to pay a sales staff or editors and their entire site becomes ad ridden, it’s hard to feel bad about blocking their revenue source.

Stop encouraging this garbage and maybe I’ll stop blocking.

Stop covering your page in large banners on every open space and maybe I’ll stop blocking.

Stop trying to trick me with ads embedded in articles that look like links and maybe I’ll stop blocking.

The people I do feel bad for are the honest folks out there. Because they just become collateral damage. Most ad blocking tools provide the ability to white list websites if you want to support them, but this puts the work on the user to decide what’s worth supporting, and you don’t have any way of knowing without going to work to open things up. It’s just, too much effort to bother.

Subscription Overload

There is if course, the alternative of subscribing. Which is increasingly something publications push for. Limited numbers of free articles per month, or just trying to guilt you about how many articles you’ve read. I don’t mind this concept at all, the issue here is a bit multi-faceted though.

First is subscription overload. “Subscribe for $x per month”. Seems reasonable, except that every website wants $x per month. I could probably manage one or two subscriptions even at $7-8 per month if I wanted. But to read every site, it becomes 10-15 subscriptions at $7-8 per month, or more. Part of this may be my personal cheapness. My opinion on digital subscriptions of any kind though has always been “less is better”. There is essentially zero overhead cost different for digital. Offering a subscription for $7-8/month makes some money, but offering it for $1/month becomes “impulse buy” territory and would likely net a massive number more subscriptions. Is it’ 7-8x as many subscriptions? I don’t know, I don’t care, my question is “is it enough subscriptions to cover operating costs”.

Call me old fashioned but if costs are met, it feels like the goal of publications should be getting their information out in front of as many eyeballs as possible, not so much exponential growth of profits (this will eventually be a post all it’s own).

It’s not JUST the cost though, it’s the internal scammyness so many publications have with subscriptions. It’s the “Get a discount for the first year of 80% off please forget to cancel later” offers. I don’t bother with trials and discounts at all for this reason. If that’s not just “the price” I don’t care. I’m not letting this into my life and workflow only to have to rip it out later when the cost becomes 5x what I initially paid, sorry.

And then there is the part where cancelling is often an actual pain in the ass. I had a few digital subscriptions for a while, and when I wanted to cancel, in several cases, I had to CALL TO CANCEL. I had to talk to a fucking sales person, often in another fucking country, and convince them that no, I didn’t want a new offer, I just wanted to cancel.

This is something that should literally just be a click through checkbox on a profile page of the website.

Trust Destroyed

It’s all part of the endless downward spiral of bull shit I mentioned above. It’s just more scams that drive people like me away from supporting something.

This leads to just a general distrust of anything being pushed or sold. A prime example of this in my area. My state, Illinois, is pushing household solar adoption hard. There are programs that “in theory” make the consumer cost zero. But it’s also not clear how this works. And my overall distrust of anything being “sold” to me, means that even though I would love to have Solar, I don’t have any desire to ever bother with any company that would provide solar, no matter the rebates or later returns. If the state wanted to come in and do it for me and I never see a bill, hey, probably, but i am pretty sure that’s not how any of these systems work.

Any my distrust runs deep enough that I actively avoid the main aisle at my local Wal-Mart when shopping because there are people selling this in the store, and I don’t want to be hassles about it.

And this is just one example. I have grown to actively distrust essentially all advertising at this point. And I have not even BEEN scammed. I have family members who have gotten trash from Facebook ads or been taken in by straight money scammers, which just leads to more reason to be a paranoid ad blocking digital data leech. I want to support sites, but everything is just such a scammy minefield.

Final side note, this is why I actually do like things like KOFI and Patreon, because I can support people, directly, often for a reasonable cost, and I can cancel/stop supporting them if I can’t afford it or no longer want to support them.

It’s Going to Get Worse

It’s going to get worse.

AI Will make it worse. AI is “neat”, it’s also the “filter bubble concept” at an extreme level. When it starts feeding itself live data it’s just going to conclude it’s right about everything because that’s all it’s sending out. AI will be used to target ads, it’ll take all your personal data in and remix it with similar data and spit out a chimera ad with 8 fingers and weird looking eyes and an extra elbow that is a mobile ad for a game where you run an empire selling bootleg T-shirts but the actual app is just a shitty clicker game full of micro-transactions. Bit it will be “AI powered” to be perfectly tailored to get you to spend money on whatever.

There is also the increasing crack down by larger companies on ad blocking. Youtube is supposedly stopping people from watching videos when it detects ad blocking. Google is also pushing this bull shit initiative about “trusted browsers” that will only be used to make it’s tracking stronger. Make no mistake, Google pushes lots of “standards” on the web using it’s massive weight to force changes, it dresses these up as “good for the user and privacy” but they are an ad company. These privacy measures are ONLY pushed because they already have a way around it and it will harm their competitor’s ability to track and advertise.

Companies have experimented with eye tracking to make sure you are actually WATCHING these ads.

PLEASE DRINK VERIFICATION CAN

At the end of the day the only way to escape may just be to simply unplug and do something else away from the computer.

Welcome to Blaugust 2023

Welcome to Blaugust 2023, I guess, I’m not real sure what that means aside from, maybe, MAYBE, a bit more of an “intense posting schedule”. I dunno, I subscribe to Tales of the Arrgonaut blog in my RSS reader, it’s apparently something they psudo run each year and have done so for a while, and it seemed like an excuse to motivate more writing. Details on Blaugust are on his blog here.

After signing up it seems it isn’t required, but it’s also sort of originally for MMO/game bloggers. I actually do of course have a games blog, but I prefer blogging here these days so, well, probably not much games content from me. Sorry not sorry?

I do plan to try to “post more”, though I will be surprised if I actually manage to write a new post every day for the month. I did sort of sketch out some ideas in a list and surprisingly, in theory, I could post 5 days a week with this little outline. Filling in the games feels “easy” but the real issue isn’t so much the idea side of writing. It’s the DOING that tends to be my problem. I’m also taking the slightly cheaty angle of pre-writing and scheduling posts. I actually already to this anyway with most posts. at the very minimum I just schedule things to post at 6 PM local time each day (7PM for Lameazoid), because consistency feels better.

I don’t even care much about the whole achievements of the whole Blaugust deal, it’s just an excuse to try to create that motivation. I do find that planning things actually does help. A few years ago when I was trying to push myself to really keep up on Lameazoid I had a whole spreadsheet going with days and themed days and lists of what was coming each week and day and even pre researched things like, release dates for movies and games I cared about so I could do lead ups and related posts. In theory all this is supposed to be good for SEO, I guess, but I have never been able to make SEO work, like at all.

Side note to spammers, I am not interested in your SEO Improvement product, please don’t spam me I’ll just ignore it, assuming I even see it.

I was thinking of including my little “todo list” note here but maybe I will just avoid the spoilers and not. the Friday album posts are of course part of it though. I also plan to start a second music related post series I’ve been considering doing for a while now. And keeping with the music theme, I’m going to a concert on the 13th, so there will be a post for that. I don’t plan to keep only to music, this isn’t actually a “music blog”, it’s just a person nerd blog (Blogging Intensifies = Nerd Stuff, Lameazoid = Geek Stuff). I hope to do more programming focused posts, some personal thoughts and opinions posts. I may also do some societal issues sort of posts, because I have plenty of opinions there that I mostly just keep to myself but maybe I should not (spoiler, my political leaning is pretty progressive).

Anyway, the point is to write, and even if it fizzles out again after August, at least I tried to build the habit again. Also for anyone keeping score, those news digests posts don’t count.

The Writers and Actor’s Strike

I generally don’t comment much on Next Door, a lesser known, location based social network. Most of the posts are dumb, but not worth really arguing. I did see this image, somewhat randomly posted, and did comment, and I’m going to expand on the idea of my comment here. I also don’t know why they bothered posting it. The whole point of Next Door is “local discussion”, not stupid Macro politics discussions.

For a few weeks or so, there has been a writer’s strike in Hollywood. This isn’t the firs tone, it’s probably not the last, these people also really seem to know how to at least put an effort into their demands. Recently, a day or so ago, the actors union joined in the strike. Hollywood is effectively at a stand still. Expect another boon in shitty reality TV like back in the 2009 time frame.

This graphic feels like some sort of “clever gotcha” about rich Hollywood stars, singling out Matt Daemon. Does he make too much money for his films? Eh, probably. Of all the “rich people” in the world, I really find it hard to get too upset over movie and music star millionaires. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but it basically joint boils down to, a lot of them tend to actually support philanthropic causes, and their star power creates a draw and work for a LOT of other people. Also once reaching “star level”, especially Matt Daemon star level, there tends to be a lot of extra baggage and upkeep needed, nice clothes, an expensive security detail, etc. I’m not saying at the end of the day Matt Daemon is poor, I’m just saying, his 2+ Million months income, probably has a pretty heft amount shaved off for “Monthly expenses” that most people do not have.

He still probably makes too much money, but he also isn’t going around doing shitty things and promoting hate groups online.

Anyway, the bigger issue is, that 90%, probably more, of “Hollywood” isn’t anywhere near Matt Daemon. They are probably way less than “most people” in terms of income. Using these big stars for reference is stupid. The strike isn’t about Matt Daemon, it’s about Ryan Rathbun, Jack Wang, and Ansa Woo. Who are these people? Who knows? I pulled them off of IMDB from Daemon’s most recent film Oppenheimer, they are “Lecture Attendee,” “Cambridge Student,” and “Female Student #70” respectively.

They are all listed as “Uncredited”. But they did still, do work, they still got paid. I have no idea what the pay rate for “Female Student #70” is, but I am sure it’s not $20+ Million a year.

So ok, there’s some angle I suppose, maybe Matt Daemon should get less from his part and these walk on extras should get more for their part. Possibly. The strike isn’t about that though. At least not for the part of the actors.

It’s about the use of AI.

For actors, it’s about the use of AI likenesses. It’s increasingly becoming a problem. There was a story about the use of an AI generated Bruce Willis being used in commercials. Increasingly companies are adding clauses for AI Likeness use in actor contracts.

The issue here isn’t really an issue for Matt Daemon or Bruce Willis. They would be fine never working again ever (Bruce Willis actually can’t anymore due to declining health). It’s an issue for “nobody actors” like Ryan Rathbun, Jack Wang, and Ansa Woo. Because maybe they worked for a day, made a little money for some walk on background role. Maybe in a few years, the studio decides to make Oppenheimer 2: Nuclear Boogaloo, and they decide they need Female Student #70 to make another appearance, but hey, now they can save probably $500 and not bring Ansa Woo back on set again, they can just roll out the AI version.

In any movie.

Why bother with extras when you can just use AI and CGI to add them in. You don’t even need the detail of a leading actor like Matt Daemon or Bruce Willis, they just need to look good as an NPC sitting at a table 20 feet in the background slightly out of focus taking notes or drinking a coffee.

Then there is the writer’s side of things, which is just as bad, and also AI related. It wouldn’t be specifically ChatGPT, but the idea is that for a lot of these shows these days, studios could just, feed data to a LLM AI algorithm and then have it start spitting out episodes. This kind of just points out how sad the state of current TV is a bit, that an entire script could be written by spicy autocorrect, but the point remains, someone is out of the job. And in the case of some long lived shows, it’s still technically using effort put in by that person since it’ll be using old scripts.

And it’s definitely possible. There was a Twitch channel that was essentially just an endless loop of sloppy CGI 2 minutes bits based on Seinfeld. These were extremely repetitive in content and kind of shit, but the whole operation was clearly run on a very “fly by night” level and even a little bit of extra cash influx, like what a movie or television studio could do, would help it be “better”. As for the graphical part, well, Same concept, replace the shoddy CGI with an AI driven creation image. All for cheaper than the cost of hiring a bunch of real writers and actors.

Essentially, AI generated content would cause the entire media industry to completely stagnate even more, even faster, People joke about the world becoming Idiocracy, but this the kind of content that would feed that world. Simple idiot content for idiot people to just consume consume, please drink verification can!

The worst part of all this is, even if the writers and actors win this round, the studio execs won’t stop, and next time they won’t bat an eye at dropping these people. It’s all just so, frustrating, it’s part of why I stopped bothering with Stable diffusion after my initial tests and experiments. It’s just all so completely empty and soulless. It’s the end came of the focus group economy. Take the average and spit it out as “content” which just re-enters the system and churns back out until everything unique about art and media is just smoothed out and identical.

Medical Mechanica factory from FLCL