You’re gonna carry that weight

It’s hard for me to believe this is my final issue of The Stute. I was a member of The Stute before I was a student at Stevens; I first explored campus and Hoboken as part of The Stute’s Freshman Weekend. I’ve worn a lot of hats at The Stute (Writer, Layout Editor, Systems Administrator, Business Manager), but this semester was the first time I was a columnist. The past few months have flown by, and when I sat down to write this last column, I realized how few of my original topics had been covered.

I didn’t want Always Right to turn out so political. I also didn’t foresee the Crypto Wars starting up again. I intended to completely avoid politics in my column. Always Right would be a place for me to rant about clickbait, audio and video codecs, why video games aren’t fun anymore, and how Sayaka did absolutely nothing wrong. However, when it’s 2 A.M. and I’m over a day past deadline (sorry Lisa!), I find it easier to write about something that I really know and care about. I’d also rather write about things that The Stute’s readers (at least should) care about too.

My original, apolitical column ideas ended up taking a back seat to current events in information security. Taking that direction was probably for the best. If you talk to me in person I can rant about any of these topics for at least an hour, but for now I’ll give them each a paragraph.

If you don’t already, use a password manager. Use different passwords for everything, that way if (and when) there’s a screwup, it won’t effect any other services you use. While I’m a fan of KeePass, LastPass is also good and is easier to use.

Never pay more than 20 bucks for a video game. Yes, that’s after including DLC. Don’t preorder video games either. A preorder campaign is a publisher hedging their bets: if the game is good, they’ll make money; if it’s bad, at least a bunch of suckers already paid them.

When you buy something online, it’s unlikely that you actually own it. When you read the fine print, you’re only renting Kindle eBooks, Steam games, and movies from iTunes. These services can shut down at any time and take your purchases with them. Whenever possible, buy digital goods without DRM.

In high school I was a CNN junkie, constantly refreshing the website. I remember wondering why anyone would read the newspaper when they could get the news online. Then, everything went tumbling down. Buzzfeed became a billion dollar company, and older news outlets attempted to emulate its success. I got fed up with the clickbait and stopped reading CNN in 2011, switching to BBC News. In 2013 they went down the path, and I switched to reading directly from AP wire. Less than a year later I’d dropped general, non-specialized news entirely. I couldn’t find any non-partisan sources that didn’t try to trick me into clicking low-effort slideshows or listicles. If a headline doesn’t tell you any useful information, don’t click on it. If a “news” story isn’t actually news, don’t read it. Very few things in life would make me happier than to watch Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, and the rest of their kind burn to the ground.

Smartphone games are almost universally garbage. Relying on microtransactions means that developers are encouraged not to make their games too much fun. If a player is having lots of fun without paying, they aren’t likely to pony up. Instead, games try to compel you into logging in daily to view advertisements by waving virtual currency in front of you. When you aren’t getting enough of a dopamine rush from your “progression,” you’ll pay for a hit. This has all been carefully calculated by developers. While these practices used to be confined to free Facebook and smartphone games, it has become standard in full-priced titles, sucking almost all enjoyment out of modern video games for me. In the past few years I’ve been playing more games from the 80’s to mid 2000’s, when game developers were encouraged to make good games rather than use psychological tricks to keep players paying.

With the exception of The Stute, I don’t like writing anything unless I’m at least pseudo-anonymous. Unless someone is an expert, their identity generally isn’t as important as the ideas they are expressing.  Anonymous posting keeps the focus on the content of the message rather than who’s delivering it, and helps keep egos in check. Plus, you should always assume that everything posted with a username (and most likely without) is being logged somewhere, and can come back to bite you in the ass.

Crunchyroll and Funimation both do a worse job than pirates at translating and releasing anime. Because they have no legal competition in the United States, and because each service gets exclusive licenses for shows, there is no incentive for them to improve their services. While these sites should be able to produce higher quality translations than pirates because they have access to the original scripts and video masters, translation and video quality are both mediocre. Their subscribers are complacent, and often misled (pay extra “HD” video with low bitrates). Pirate fansubbing groups produce better releases because they are comprised of fans who want to make the things they like available worldwide in the best quality possible.

I feel much better having gotten that all that off my chest. Before I sign off of The Stute’s WordPress for the last time, I need to acknowledge a few people. The Stute is in good hands with Lisa Mengotto and the rest of her executive board. I look forward to seeing where they, and the next generations, bring this paper.

I also need to thank former editors-in-chief Joseph A. Brosnan and Frankie Guarini. Stress from incidents like the Spring 2015 SGA budget meeting probably shaved a few years off my life, but the past two years of working with you on The Stute have produced many of my best memories at Stevens. Together, we’ve made the paper the best it has ever been (trust me, I checked the archives). And if whoever is reading this disagrees, I’m always right.