Gaming and VOIP – Part 1: Ventrillo

Voice over internet protocol…

A mouthful, now isn’t it? We gamers simply call it VOIP, and while we all seem to use it for one reason or another, we all have our own idea of what VOIP is the best, and in what situations they should be used in. Today, since Ventrillo has decided to be a thorn in my backside for countless times today, I thought I’d let it inspire me.

Ventrillo:

Let’s get the obvious information out of the way first. Ventrillo, or “Vent” by the gaming community love to utilize this tool for both in game, and out. Ventrillo is by and large, one of the most sought after in VOIP when it comes to those who want to host their own server. Fees for this particular VOIP are fairly cheep, and range from $2 USD for the smallest, five man server. That’s not nearly big enough for raiders, right? Don’t worry, because there are also ten, fifteen, and twenty man servers, for reasonable prices. Need a bigger space? They have those too, but shop around before you buy, you may find another VOIP you like better, for a fraction of the cost.

A few noteworthy things about Vent for the average gamer:

  1. It can be hard to set up if you aren’t computer savvy.
  2. It uses a “push to talk” feature, though you can change the settings in a vast array of ways, the truth is, most guilds will prefer a “Push to talk” setting.
  3. Users with slow internet, will find it difficult to host a Ventrillo server and run an MMORPG at the same time.
  4. You do not have to own a server, to use vent, as long as you have the information for a person who does own a server.
  5. Most people should have Ventrillo on their computer, even if they use another VOIP more often, since pug raids will seek out, and use Vent most of the time.

My rant:

Ventrillo is normally a quality VOIP, with quality service depending on where you get your hosting from. I have not the slightest issue with Ventrillo in, and of itself. What I find difficult about the usage of Ventrillo, is that I am not a person who has hours upon hours to sit, and try and fix a broken Ventrillo server. Normally, it runs great, but when problems arise, in my experience, the problem is always an enigma to fix. Most of the time, it’s a new user trying to set it up, not always an easy feat. Other times, it’s a seasoned user dealing with old settings, or perhaps, a brick of a machine that is simply outdated. Even for the occasional trouble shooting issue, I tend to shrug it off, the joys of technology being what they are, I come to expect some issue with it.

The simple fact is, it’s simple to vaguely understand…but it takes a master to fully comprehend every little detail, something that I myself dislike about the VOIP in particular.  Simply put, if I don’t have to run the server, and I can simply pass off the issue I have, then, I don’t mind Vent in the least. However for those of us that are, for a lack of a better term, VOIP challenged, there are better options out there. This isn’t exactly an issue many face, but I still say it is, indeed an issue. I can only hope over time, and as the popularity it has continues to grow, it will become more user friendly.

Gender – Vocal diffrences (part 1)

Hey all, I’m half asleep right now, so do pardon any spelling mistakes that you see…it’s a very early morning in my household when I wake up at 4 a.m. to deal with my animals…especially when I can’t seem to fall back to sleep afterwards.

Today I thought I might speak about the vocal differences within women and men. It’s a common misconception that if you are pre-T you will be discovered, or that, of you are post-T you won’t be found out. Neither one is especially the case, because there are actually quite a few things that will change the reaction to those around you, and it isn’t just your voice that may rat you out. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Everyone had an ideal of how a man or a woman speaks, how they react to situations, and you what, yeah, it’s good advice. Will it help you to pass? It entirely depends.

All of us, with endeavors to pass as a man have heard of the fact that you will be found out without T. Or, that men speak from the chest or gut. I’ve also heard about a billion times, the wonderful thing about speaking without using particular words. However, while all of this has some level of merit, it’s not all tried and true. The fact is, all of that can easily be disputed one way or the other, and isn’t solid…none of it ever will be. If you are post-T, chances are, you have this idea that it’s what you had to do…because clearly, if you took T, you felt the need…not all of us have that luxury, so for those of us that don’t, or even those of us still in the beginning stages of using T, trying desperately not to get caught in our displays takes a bit of doing…

And…no small amount of careful understanding. It’s not as easy defined by pre-T or post-T. It’s not as simplistic as speaking mater of factually. It isn’t even your body language…these all play roles to the gender. However, in my opinion it does not play into the “Gender Role”. They two are different things. Gender role is being decidedly male or female. Having a role to a gender, means you have something, or do something, that the other gender might do…thus causing a gender confusion to those around you.

Need an example? look around, not all men are the burly, tough guys we think of. That, and I know many guys who don’t speak matter of factually, and yet also know many women who do. I know women who have low voices, and they “pass or present” better than a few post-T guys I’ve seen. So, then, what makes us really sound male?

Here’s a clue, it’s dependent on the gender of the person we’re trying to present in front of.

There are many times I’m open to my friends, and I will ask them questions about my voice. I usually say something along the lines of “On a scale of 1 to 10, how low is my voice?” 10 being the lowest and one being the highest. It’s very funny normally, what I get as a response. Women will use the scale, and will normally find that they can’t give me an exact number. Or if they do (that is rare), they err on the side of the middle low end of the scale… roughly 6-8 depending on the person. I can confuse women easily.

They don’t know often times if I am a man or a woman, and I’m sure most Pre-T who are trying to pass are the same way.

Asking a man on the other hand, will give me a very different result. Usually, they can’t think of it in terms of how low my voice is. Just, that I’m “Decidedly female” (as quoted actually from a friend of mine last night, a grown man several years older than I am) or “A prepubescent young man.” I’ve also been told that I’ve got a “puberty voice” from both men and women who are sometimes unsure. Now, I’m 23, so I have to look at things from one direct angle, and that is, how low would my voice really be, if I were a fully grow 23 year old man? Well that depends. The truth is, who really knows? Some men just don’t have a low voice. A few men, some even in my family, are far more effeminate than I am in mannerisms. So, the reality is, you need to toss the ideal of “low” out the window.

What makes a voice decidedly female, is not only the manners of speech they use, but also who we’re trying to pass in front of. As you can see from the above, gender of the person plays a large role. Another HUGE factor is age.

I find it easier, for example, to pass to those in my age bracket, and to those younger than me. In fact, most men in my bracket (27 and lower I’d say) don’t even dare to question me, or undermine me, because I’m considered a very dominate man in my bracket. The men who would even dare to presume I’m female, and outwardly call it out, have learned much to their dismay, that I am one of them, purely because I don’t fear them. I can vocally back them into corners, and also I’ve found that even if I don’t always pass, I can very often earn their respect. Through the use of my personality, I show them who I am, and in their minds, I become “Decidedly Male” this is something that I think is very interesting. It’s also something to make a point of if you are pre-T…

You won’t always pass, but if you can earn the respect a man gets, by other men, then you’re well on your way to becoming accepted as a male, even if you aren’t one biologically. I can, and often do,  go into male restrooms. I find I often don’t have a problem, and actually most men find it odd if I do choose to go to the women’s room. The men (in my bracket) that I’m around expect me to be a man, and now, I find that they can’t understand if I do a “Decidedly Female” type of thing. To them, it blows their mind. I’ve gone so far as to swim in my pool topless, because they can’t get around the fact that women covers the top half of their bodies…and I am biologically female.

To have that sort of acceptance, while rare, is not unheard of. Many of these men just don’t have a concept of my actual gender anymore. They see me as “Decidedly Male”, they don’t question the fact that I’m not. Although it took a lot of work on my part to come off and convince them of that, so now, my voice doesn’t matter. If I were to walk into a communal restroom with these younger males, older men would see me as male, because they often wouldn’t question it. Men don’t analyze things of that nature, they stand there and take a piss. They aren’t looking around saying “Who sounds like they’re pissing like a female.”, they just don’t do that. At least, not one that’s self respecting…if you follow the man laws, and you’re with other men you’ll generally be fine.

So, keep those things in mind too, because pre-T, that type of ideal will be your lifeblood, especially if you have male friends you can trust.

Now, back to the vocal side of things.

I’ve also taken notice, that once a man is in their 30′s or older, that I no longer pass to them. I think, that is due to how much younger I am. They can see through my presentation. Ironically, on a female side of things, I can confuse women well into their 50′s and beyond. (Most of my friends in the heterosexual community are not in my age bracket.) It’s my study of these older adults, mostly the males, that show me what I need to do to pass in front of them.  I’ve found that I will have increasingly levels of difficulty to pass without other males around. I talk to males differently then I talk to women, and the manner in which I speak, if I’m with another male, may actually convince some of the older men that I encounter. If I’m with women, I tend to be outed more.

Now, with all of the above being stated. I agree, it’s important to lower your voice, it’s a good thing to try to do. In later posts I will go through a few ways to do this without T. There are a great many ways, although all of them take large amounts of self discipline and normally constant work. Still, it can be done, and it’s important to understand how and why these things work the way they do. What will work for you, will not work for everone. What works for me, might not work for you. This will be a study of that, through my eyes, as I compare and contrast them…but that, sadly, is for another post.

Scrawlings – Flicker

Flicker…like a moth to a flame. Light the candle, so that you can be happy. Stand up, so that you no longer have to sit down in the pit of nothingness. Like a tiny light of hope, cradle it within your hands, and send a prayer…because if you do, you just might find something…waiting for you alone. Someone, or possibly something breathtaking…within the eyes of the person who understands…but listen well, you can not do that alone. Just like the dripping tears of redemption, so too, comes a path of hardships, and a road that can not simply be shrugged away.

You must stand…you must fight…you must yield…you must fall.

In doing so, you will find solace. You will find the weight upon your soul lifted, and the burdens of your past will be swept away. You will stand tall, gazing out at everything, and nothing. The void of your own heart endless, the vastness a sight to behold, and to be understood. So, reach out, and find what you will…stand up against the tides…if you do this, you will prevail. You will become strong.

Gender-Bender, Lender, Fender, What? (A disclaimer on my views)

In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to toss out these posts quickly, and though for now, it’s to get content on the blog, it’s also so that you have an idea of what kind of stuff will be up here for the world to see. Now then, onto this wonderful little commodity we call gender….now then, before I continue let me just say this: I do NOT encourage flame wars, but if you have an opinion, please leave a comment. We can always prattle onwards and upwards about everything gender related. I love a good natter, don’t you. (Side note: who in the world uses natter anymore?)

Firstly, and most assuredly forthrightly, I should warn you now, I don’t view gender normally at all. Yes, yes, I know what the GLBTQU pushers always say. They chant things along the lines of sex being between someone’s legs, and gender being within the brain. I agree, to some extent. I also think, we put an idiotic ideal into what gender is. I don’t even think it’s any direct community to blame, but rather, how we try to describe ourselves. (Read: pronouns are a bitch!) Honestly speaking, I refer to myself more as an “it”…and yes, while that may be offensive to some, it’s no more different from saying; “I’m androgynous” or perhaps even, “I don’t believe in gender” it really is all the same. I just so happen to be a bit more simplistic…so, that said, when I say: “I’m an it, nice to meet you!” I do so in the most friendly of ways, and not as a way to be offensive, but as a way to best describe who I feel that I am.

So, now we must ask several questions. The fist being quite simple. What is an “it”?

It’s the only question I’ll answer today, but I feel it is likely the most important of these questions. Now, I don’t think of myself as a female at all, even if I am one biologically. People like myself, who think of themselves as a male already have plenty of labels, all of which, can get them into trouble. There are many, but to name a few; trans-guy, trans-man, and T-butch (Why! Just why of all things!), and a myriad of others build up our ideal of what a FtM is. If you don’t know what that is, go look it up, because there is plenty of information elsewhere on the topic. Now, the reason I have an issue with these names, is because:

A: I will never transition.
B: That’s a great way to out yourself to the mass public. (Something inherently bad if you want to pass, or present in a public place.)
C: Little girls wish to be boys, and women wish to be men when FtM comes into play. That said, you can see why I would take issue with being someplace in between the lines, outwardly stating just what I am to the public.

That said, no, I don’t believe “it” is a politically correct term, but life isn’t exactly correct half of the time. My body being one of the many things I find questionable on any given day. So, that said, I don’t proclaim to be the authority on what we should call ourselves, only that I prefer not to subject myself to something I feel negates me, or puts be into a box that is easily categorized and definable. I myself, am not such a person…not only because of wishing to be male, but because that is just one aspect of the obscurity that is my daily life.

When you see a post like this, it will likely be me detailing the finer points, (and subsequently the debacles) a person with my lovely idiosyncrasies faces on any day to day spectrum. The advice I have may help those who are Pre-T, or those like myself, unable or unwilling to undergo the Transition. I feel we, as a community, forget that not everyone can, and the issue for why are purely financial.

Some of us can’t afford it, and in today’s economy, we have to agree, insurance doesn’t cover everything…but there’s more to it than that. Doctors are not always on our side, and some people may or may not have had bad experiences with them. (I myself having had more negative than good, my entire life) For some of us, religion is very important, and held fondly within the pit of pour soul, and while I myself take the bible with a grain of salt, there are many values within religion (not just Christianity mind you) that would make transitioning inherently wrong. Some people do have faith deep enough to keep them from pursuing their transition for that fact alone. Then there’s the thought of family and friends, support, things not everyone has.

With that said, some of us try to do our best to make it without the lengthy, medical induced process as much as possible. I just happen to be one of those people, where trasitioning isn’t an option at this point in my life, and may never be. With that said, it’s my greatest endevor to explore ways to lower my voice, grow hair, ect, ect…and are all of these as tried and true as T itself? No, not exactly, but in a world where you must seize life by the horns, (or at least make due with what you can) I’m not opposed to saying openly that there are other avenues in which to explore. I hope to do that in these sections of the blog. So, if that interests you, you’ll find it here.

Ode to my Fan Fiction: 1

You know how the story goes. You sit down at your computer, a snack and beverage in hand, preparing to give birth to some sort of new chapter, poem, or perhaps even just a little drabble. Then, suddenly it hits you like a ton of bricks…

WRITERS BLOCK!

Lost, and without much to do, you’ll sit there, and listen to music, but you’ll find your inspiration lacking, for whatever reason you may have. Perhaps you find your review count low. Or, if that’s not the case, perhaps you’ve hit a road block…plot bunnies ailing you? You guessed it. Oh, the woes of writing, and I find myself in the midst of that. One of the fan fictions I’m working on right now just doesn’t seem to be going in the direction that I wish dearly to take it. I simply can’t post the chapter until I find it suitable, but even now as I sit here, a little rant comes to mind.

A few people have been asking me why I even bother to consume my time with something that doesn’t seem to benefit me. Some who lack the understanding, laugh at me, point fingers, and continue for lack of a better reason, to tell me that I am not perhaps spending my time appropriately.

This is why I find myself blocked up, because you see, to me fan fiction is a freedom I don’t often have otherwise. Perhaps, it’s just me. I could indeed find myself on the precipice of writing astoundingly large amounts of it. However, I beg the question, is it really a bad thing?

Yes, indeed, I could write my own book. A few reviewers on the FFN think that I perhaps should. I make a low pay wage, if I work at all, and although there is money to be had as an author, I often wonder, is it the choice for me? That is an answer I simply don’t have.

I fear, that just like so many other passions turned nightmare in my life, will I find myself drowning by the very thing that used to bring light into my day. I require something, anything to bring hope into a world that is not often so kind, so free, so welcoming of people like myself.

A personality so difficult, so different from even the ideal of mere normalcy. Birds of a feather, can only fly if they have wings, but I fear, unlike most in this world, I could only be compared to a cockatrice…not an ugly duckling, not a beautiful swan, and not even a bird at all.

Merely an enigma.

So, while I do think perhaps I would one day like to become an author, I must bring myself to ponder, if that is indeed a good idea. However, for now, even if it is only for today, tomorrow, or even an unyielding number of days, and bygones that I may regret, I shall stick to that which I love most. Fan fiction.