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Hypnos' Blog

Cake Roll

Ahoy there, mates!  Today we celebrate artist Blackhat making another successful trip 'round the sun with some delicious cake.  Cake! o/  We have also posted not one, but two winners of Round Two of the Grand Crafting Puzzle Project, a player run co-operative project to design and create prototypes of Puzzle Pirates crafting puzzles.  Congratulations to the winners, Platy and Haddock!  The post about the winners can be found here and the games can be played for free, along with many others, on Game Gardens.

Last week we had another of our Three Rings game nights, which was marked with traditional board games, delicious gyros, and the new-fangled delight of Rock Band!

I like Rock Band.  I don't often get hooked on console or computer games, the most notable exceptions in (fairly) recent history being Viva Pi?┬▒ata and, well, Puzzle Pirates.

Rock Band draws me in because it's a game for a group of up to four people, and in the apartment I live in, there are four residents.  One person wants to be the guitarist, one wants to be bassist, and well, two of us want to be the drummer, but we take turns so it works out all right.

The co-operative elements are woven in quite well. For example, if you don't do well and you fail on your instrument, one of your bandmates can activate his stored bonus energy and bring you back into the game.  The exception to this otherwise tight-knit gameplay seems to be the vocalist.  I'm not sure what causes this, but on the occasions that some of us have taken turns on the microphone, we've felt very isolated from the rest of the instruments.  As I have never been in a real band, I do not know if this is representative of the real band experience, or something that is made up for with crowd interaction.

The game has also brought me face-to-face with the selling power and possibilities of free downloads and movies.  Each week, new songs are released to download and play on the Rock Band platform.  So far as the music of this game is concerned, I am a bit of a cultural black hole.  I have heard of some of the groups featured, but I have never heard any of the songs.  Every week when the downloaded songs are listed, the roommates and I troop over to YouTube to listen to the songs a number of times and decide whether they sound like fun and should be purchased or not.

Does anybody else fall into this category?  For example, I can never decide if I like a music album on the first listen.  I either stream or download/borrow the album from a friend first, and listen to entire thing several times over a period of weeks and if it sinks in and I really dig the band, I buy it.  Future purchases may be made in faith if I have consistently like the band/group's work, but I would never get into new musicians if it weren't for digital media/friends.  Well, mostly digital media.

I know that when we switched to the unlimited trial time in Puzzle Pirates (this was before the doubloon model caught fire), I was enthused because I figured it would give people who are take their time making up their minds about something (like I do!) a chance to really try the game out.

Numbers have been going around comparing the success of Rock Band to Guitar Hero 3, which is an ActiVision rather than Harmonix creation.  (From what little I've seen of it, my personal opinion is that it is the weakest of the series.)  I think that the games fundamentally will appeal to different groups.  If I were a teenager living at home, I would far more likely get Guitar Hero than Rock Band.  The higher price tag of Rock Band and the multiple peripherals I might not all be playing would make it mighty unattractive as a holiday gift were I asking parents/guardians to purchase it.  Rock Band seems more likely be purchased by adults with full time jobs, more disposable incomes, and residences of their own where they can have friends over.

A word to the noise-conscious, though: while they are nowhere near the level of sound that an actual drum kit can produce, the drum peripherals can make a fair amount of noise on their own.  This is very relevant in areas like the densely populated San Francisco, where you are far more likely to be living in an apartment than in a ground-floor house of your own.  Speaking for myself, the drum peripheral setup we have at home is atop some thickly padded quilts to muffle the foot pedal for our downstairs neighbors, and I've grown accustomed to going to sleep to the sound of drum tapping carrying clearly through the apartment to the back room.

Bluebeard and I had taken to enthusiastically playing the drums during lunch here at Three Rings, until we found out that the tapping carried clearly to the front room, where it was distracting other folks trying to work.  One of the funnier moments last week was when I ran into a fellow who works for Slide, who occupy the office one floor below us.  I apologized if they'd heard any tapping on the ceiling during lunch or after hours as we'd just gotten the Rock Band peripherals set up, only to have him confess that their office had just gotten the same game, and were going to ask us if they were creating too much noise.

At any rate, it's a lot of fun, though if I lived on my own, I would likely buy the game separately and the drum peripheral when it comes out, and Drum Hero my way to smashy oblivion.  Having popped into Guitar Center to try out our tapping skills on actual drum kits, Hermes and I feel confident in saying that they translate rather well!  I can easily tap a 4/4 beat and I can drumroll.

And that brings us, via a very windy, roundabout route, to this week's question from Domokun of Sage:

"Do any of the Ringers have other secret talents?"

Comments:

Posted by Orsino

Thanks, I'm truly honored.

A slight correction though: Platy can be found at JD's web-space at http://www1.freewebs.com/jdnx429/platy.htm

January 23, 2008 at 09:30 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Domokun of Sage

And, also rather ironically, I have been playing the Drums for 6 or 7 years now... :D

We still don't know what Apollo's talent is, should we start a betting pool?

January 24, 2008 at 07:17 AM PST | permalink

Posted by Castawayjoe

A dollar on some form of juggling, Domokun.

January 24, 2008 at 12:52 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Cassis

Five bucks says it's something to do with Guitar Hero.

January 24, 2008 at 02:44 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Apollo

I provided at least a partial answer to your question, Domokun. Perhaps I didn't provide all my secret talents, but I gave you a couple. ;) As for the guesses so far - Cassis's money is safer than Castawayjoe's!

January 24, 2008 at 04:18 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Domokun

Well, we know you're a whiz with empty beer bottles, although perhaps only after you have successfully emptied them all yourself...

January 25, 2008 at 04:15 AM PST | permalink

Posted by Cecidrake

Apollo's secret talent is Dance Dance Revolution! :P

January 25, 2008 at 12:05 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Apollo

Uncanny!

Domokun, go back and read the answer to my question. I provide at least two talents plus a random fact. *winks*

January 25, 2008 at 02:58 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Lorenith

I think Apollo mentioned in that post he made that he plays flute. Which oddly seems to make more sense than him playing any other instrument...at least as far as winds go. (I could see him playing a Viola or Violin too...well if I knew what he looked like anyway!)

January 25, 2008 at 05:19 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Cassis

But...is it a secret talent if people mention it? It's a talent, but it's not secret.

January 25, 2008 at 09:03 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Selling Power, Inc

To Whom It May Concern:

I just ran across an article you wrote for Puzzle Pirates, posted January 23, 2008, entitled Cake Roll,
http://blog.puzzlepirates.com/2008/01/cake-roll.html, and I would like to raise an issue that is of concern to Selling Power magazine, which is the use of our trademark.

The word "Selling Power" is sometimes erroneously used as a synonym for sales effectiveness. For example, your article states: " The game has also brought me face-to-face with the selling power and possibilities of free downloads and movies." We do not condone such uses of our trademark.

As a practical matter, when you describe sales effectiveness, there are a wide range of terms available such as: sales excellence, sales savvy, sales mastery, sales acumen, sales efficiency, and many more.

The reason for this letter is to educate writers like yourself that we want to protect our trademark, since we don't want to risk Selling Power being declared by the courts a generic word. Therefore we ask you not to use Selling Power as a phrase since it is our legal trademark.

We would like to receive a written acknowledgement of this letter stating that you will in the future identify Selling Power as a trademark if you should write about our magazine, and not use Selling Power as a phrase. If we do not hear from you, we will need to take further action.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

All the best,

Gerhard Gschwandtner
Founder and Publisher
Selling Power
1140 International Parkway
Fredericksburg VA 22406
Office: 540-752-7000 Cell: 540-273-2555

P.S. Watch Selling Power videos online www.sellingpower.com/video


GG:ts

January 31, 2008 at 05:03 PM PST | permalink

Posted by The Power of Selling

But "selling power" already *is* a generic term... I've used the term hundreds of times over maybe 20 years in all kinds of company, yet I've never even vaguely heard of your magazine. You can trademark it all you like, but it's already a frequently used term, so perhaps you should consider using a slightly less common term for your publication if you want your title to be unique and new.

February 03, 2008 at 02:44 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Whatthe

If you think the comments section of a blog is a good venue for formal cease and desist requests/threats, you shouldn't be delivering them at all, chucklehead.

February 05, 2008 at 01:39 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Crystal

Dear Gerhard Gschwandtner,

Assuming that yours is a genuine post rather than just a troll, I wanted to reply with some observations. I'll add a couple of caveats - I'm replying to this as a reader of this blog, not as a trademark expert or lawyer, and I'm based in the UK which may or may not make a difference to my outlook.

Presumably you chose the phrase "Selling Power" for your magazine because it meant something to you, or the words went together to express a vision or a concept. It seems unlikely that you were the only (or the first) person ever to put the two words together to describe that concept. I don't work in marketing, nor in a fast-pace sales environment, nor am I aware that I or any of my colleagues have seen your publication; nonetheless, "selling power" is a phrase I have been aware of for many years, along with its siblings "buying power" and "pulling power". *grins* I think your comment that you don't want anyone else using the phrase because you don't want a court to declare that the phrase is already a generic term is somewhat optimistic and somewhat tardy. A quick search on Google shows many hits, many of which are nothing to do with your publication. A quick search on Amazon shows many publications in the marketing field including the phrase. A quick search on Google Scholar shows many more publications and articles using the phrase. I believe there is ample evidence that the phrase is in widespread and generic use.

As a brief aside, neither do I agree that "selling power" is directly equivalent to "sales effectiveness" as a phrase. There is some overlap in meaning for me, but they are not equivalent. I would therefore dispute the implication that the phrase in the blog post was erroneously used - it seems pretty appropriate to the context to me.

When you chose two perfectly normal words for your publication title, even if you were not aware that other people already used the two together as a phrase, you did not gain ownership of those two words. Perhaps Trademark regulations are even more breathtakingly stupid than I was aware, but I do know, for example, that when Unilever trademarked "Accelerator" for its Persil Power product (the whole product being a big mistake, of course, but that's a different story), my car did not suddenly lose its accelerator and gain a "press-and-it-go-vroomy-faster-pedal" in its place. If you had invented a word like "PowerSellWhizz" and named your magazine after it, and that word was used in the post, then I'd feel you had some right to ownership, as you'd created a new word. (By the way, I am not recommending your use of that title. I think it would make a Very Silly Publication Title Indeed. However, if you want to use it, please go ahead. I haven't got it registered as a trademark.)

I could understand your position to some extent if there was some kind of ambiguity in what was written. Perhaps if the post had somehow implied that it was referring to a magazine, or if it was promoting a marketing publication or similar. At least then I would feel that there would be some purpose to your comment in terms of clarity or disambiguation. The phrase "selling power" was not capitalised in the post, and was not used in a sentence that could have confused readers about which "selling power / Selling Power / s3ll1n6 p0w3r" was being referred to.

It seems strangely heavy-handed to post this patronising and threatening letter in a light-hearted blog written for players of an online puzzling game. I don't understand why this blog entry was a worthy recipient of your time and attention, and all it does for you here is create negative publicity.

Finally, if you sincerely believe that you were the first and only instigator of the phrase "selling power", and that the long-standing and widespread use of the phrase is all down to you - then please, be happy and be proud at the impressive impact that you and your magazine have had on the world. It hasn't done "Hoover" any harm that the word has become synonymous with "vacuum cleaner", and I doubt they spent a great deal of time picketing websites and demanding that the word was kept out of the Oxford English Dictionary.

February 05, 2008 at 02:39 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Kalvyn

How pathetic. Honestly.

Putting a price on language is a disgusting practice. The purpose of language is the conveyance of an idea, not the supression and chaining of free thought and creativity. If we are unable to express our feelings concerning the business world, the same conveyance is lost. Trademark laws do not apply to ideas for this reason. If we abandon this philosophy, we adventure into the realm of idiocrity. To demonstrate:

That gives me an idea. I will trademark an emotional feeling, and make it unable to be expressed in your mind. Pompousness! You are no longer allowed to express your pompousness without consent of our online community. Nor are you allowed to say the word! If you do, we will form a mob, and lynch you for your selfish deed.

Sincerely, Freethinker

February 06, 2008 at 09:24 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Pardner

I think that Mr. Gschwandtner's posts might have the unintended side effect of decreasing the selling power of his magazine.

February 06, 2008 at 10:28 PM PST | permalink

Posted by Domokun

As much as I regret a digression into the deep and dismal chasm of "leetspeak", I believe Mr. Gschwandtner has just been Pwnd.

February 08, 2008 at 04:25 PM PST | permalink

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