Friday, March 9, 2012

Livin' La Vida Dorka by John Kovalic

This is a graphic novel of an older webcomic published in book form. The website for the comic is dorktower or dorkstorm. Several of the comics had been printed in magazines and at Gamespy. Even though the comic dates back to 1996 and the graphic novel is from 2002 the first time I heard of the comic was when I saw it at the library and decided to take it out on a whim.

The art style of the comic really is not that great and the topic of the comic is the techno-geek lifestyle which involves things like gaming and the Internet. While not a very good comic in my opinion, I wouldn't recommend purchasing the graphic novel, it like most comics does have some interesting points to make.

In one strip a character replies to a telemarketer by yelling:Tell? Tell? Nobody tells brother Zork Acolyte of the great god Zorbug despoiler of worlds, anything! Worm! Bug! Mortal?. I found that to be a humorous way of replying to telemarketers. The next very next comic has the character attempt the same tactic to a religious zealot who is trying to evangelize door to door but the tactic back fires with the person wanting to become a disciple of Zorbug; which was also humorous. The joke goes too far in the next strip though and the humor is lost. He gives the guy the role playing game which predictably turns out how some politicians portray video games with the guy now being a Satan worshiper. I dislike how politicians do that, blame things like video games for violence, rather than the real causes so while the first two comics involving this was funny the last just wasn't. Later strips do point out how politicians and some religious people view video games (responsible for violence), movies (corrupting morals), and role playing games (Satan worship) as being evil while at the same time saying things like guns (a fine sensible choice for the good of all) are not evil.

A strip that shows how ridiculous terms and conditions agreements on things like software was moderately amusing as well with the person shocked to find clauses like rights to the person's first born, his soul, and the ridiculous amount of time that these agreement are valid for (all eternity in the comic though it might as well be that in real life because after just a few years the software will be obsolete).

I'm not quite sure what part of one of the strips is supposed to be funny. The strip in question has the cast, all male, wondering what kind of harsh, brutal, blood thirsty super gamers could win the tournament. I know at the time the strip was made most gamers were male, still mostly true but more and more females are playing games nowadays, so was it because they were girls? Though it could also be because females can often be quite viscous usually in ways that males aren't (a lot of girls have really mean streaks and can be especially cruel particularly verbally).

I like how a strip compares a video game devoted to brutally destroying the competition through any means necessary to build an all powerful empire on the bones of your enemies to Microsoft. Many large businesses have practices similar to this such as Microsoft, AT-T, and Walmart. Also funny that the game is made by Microsoft.

A strip about reality TV is also amusing since it just points out that the people on those shows are dumber than nematodes and have no sense of strategy, tactics, or probability. I really do not get why people would want to watch those shows. What is the appeal to them? If it is the humor value of people doing stupid things I'd rather watch a show such as America's funniest home videos which is also reality TV but doesn't have the more annoying aspects of what is commonly thought as reality TV.

One of the strips point out the invasion of privacy and how companies keep far too much personal information by having a person show up to conduct a poll for a magazine but fills in the blanks from information already obtained via things like magazine subscriptions and from the on-line service company. Name, Address, email accounts, favorite websites, credit card numbers, birth date and place, passwords, mother's name, social security number, favorite porn sites, and more are already known with the only question left is Are you worried that Microsoft wants to keep all your personal information?. How much large companies know about me is a real concern particularly since that information is all to often leaked and could easily be used maliciously. Even less than that is needed to stalk someone, rob them, or steal their identity.

George Bush trying to assure the people about his technological policy fails in the strip in which he states not to worry it will receive just as much care as our foreign (wars) and economic policies (depression). I still do not understand why people liked or even still like Bush Jr (Sr as well for that matter but Sr was still better than Jr). It has another fic where George Bush is talking about how he will finally outline a high tech policy when he turns and sees a computer on his desk prompting him to say: Whoah! What is this magic box on my desk? I must flee lest it steal my soul!

There is a strip in which the dog is filling out an on-line registration and gets upset that it wants a password. Goes on a rant about how every damn website wants one and how everyone is supposed to be unique and hard to guess. That really is annoying after all you can't remember that many particularly if you change them on occasion as they want you to. My passwords really aren't that good and I tend to use the same few for all the sites so that I can remember the damn things. Keeping a text or a notebook with all the passwords in it is not safe (someone can steal it) and there is the danger of it getting lost/corrupted. While there are services that can keep track of passwords I don't really like them. Some sites now let you log in via OpenId or a similar service which is good since I don't have to register all over again but it is also annoying in that I don't want all the sites to be linked through one account.

Character A is complaining about eroding privacy (things like companies gathering data and then merging knowing all kinds of things about you). Character B is on-line filling out a from giving his personal information in exchange for coupons. I worry about privacy a little though I have nothing really to hide and my identity probably isn't worth stealing but I am also a bit like character B in that I have filled out on-line surveys and given my address and an email for free stuff. I don't mind giving my address out since it is easily available to anyone with a phone book and I might as well get some items in exchange for giving it since I'll get junk mail either way.

Santa is having an elf read him the list of what people want and it contains the end of some modern day annoyances such as spam; pop up menus; people forwarding inane jokes others have forwarded you; corporate websites being out of date; the selling of personal information to the highest bidder; operating systems that don't crash; end of Internet hoaxes, dead links, and vapoware; traditional media doing something other than predicting the death of the new economy and showing a basic understanding of what they are reporting. Most of that really doesn't bother me. Oh sure I'd like most of that to happen but my spam blocker is pretty good, adblocker blocks ads and pop-ups, I don't get jokes forwarded to me. The dead links thing is probably the thing that bothers me the most since I encounter them a lot and while the Internet archive and other such services can sometime help me find the content all too often they can't. I dislike when I go to download something only to find that I wasted time clicking a dead link.

The comic on page 131 is pretty damn good. It is only two panels. In panel one it is a long time ago with a person listening to the radio say the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Panel two is present day with a scarred out of his mind looking guy watching television. The television is saying things like next up 25 ways in which terrorists are out to get you, check our website for videos of anti-western rallies, anthrax, and an interactive of why so many people want us dead (this is all implied to be yelled). It really is a different way of looking at things and the thing is it didn't need to be the past and the present it could also have been Canada and the USA. In this country they use fear in an attempt to control the people and because things like that receive ratings. No one is really interested in humanitarian achievements. The news is also not interested in real threats and things happening around the world they rather make a big deal out of a relatively minor threat.

This book has a few pages complaining about work similar to Dilbert. They ask the impossible or nearly so for little to no money and mention things like: "We failed to meet the unrealistic goals corporate set last year. So, although we made record profits... ...Your budget's been halved."

Noticed a minor number error. Page 94 is listed as page 118.

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