A Lot of Mailing

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

I know that as far as you, the customer, is concerned, my delivery rate is 100% or 0%.  I understand that perfectly.

Today I boxed, taped, labelled and otherwise prepared about 350 boxes.  Some are free copies to interviewees, some are Adventure Club boxes, and the vast majority of these are standard GET LAMP boxes going out to customers.  This is quite a situation!

Updates as I go.

Uh, Wow.

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 12 Comments »

Folks, I throw up my hands – I am blown away by how many orders are coming in, how many kind words, how many links and fanmails and references and the rest.

I am trying to set a goal of having all orders out by Friday, international or other. It is touch and go whether this can be achieved, but I certainly will have a good majority if not all. I am truly humbled here. This is the absolute best problem to have.

I just sent a check to the coin company, because we’re starting to enter the general realm of selling out the initial run, and making new coins takes about three weeks. Oh, and the coins cost 20% more this time because the price of gold has gone up. Who knew gold prices would affect a documentary? Ken Burns never has this problem. Anyway, every copy gets a coin, that’s a guarantee.

Thanks, everyone!

Creative Commons

Posted: August 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

The GET LAMP works are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 with the exception of the Infocom documentary, which is licensed Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

For a lot of my audience, just writing all that extends into uninteresting territory, and I’m quite understanding of that. It can tire me too. Creative Commons, the branded idea, is relatively new (under 10 years) and it is one of many tools available to creators in the modern technological era related to ownership or distribution of their works.  I like a lot of what they’re trying to do, but not all of what the result has been. Obviously, I like enough of the approach to continue to license my works under it.

When the BBS Documentary came out, I licensed it Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. After some interesting exchanges, I wrote a very long weblog entry about it, which has some small amount of profanity, as is my wont.

Here we are at the second film being released, a situation I am very delighted about, and I am seeing some of the same writing/discussion going on that inspired the first entry, so I thought I’d drop a condensed version of the same thoughts.

Essentially, I released and will continue to release films I make under Creative Commons because I do not like the draconian policies of copyright law as they currently stand. I am not comfortable releasing the work into the public domain, but I am similarly of the opinion that a lot of copyright, especially since 1998, has become so draconian and vicious that perfectly moral uses of the works have been removed. It breaks my heart when I get mail from schools and colleges asking if they have my permission to show my film to students.  Or from people running conventions to show it in a room at the convention. I am fine with this and it’s a sign of how things have gone that these questions are asked.

On the flip side, however, I have also seen a lot of examples, then and now, of assumptions being made of what I “want”.  For example, it’s been said that licensing my movies Creative Commons means I “want” it to be torrented, or duplications made of the DVDs and the rest of the materials that are easily duplicated and then spread as far as possible.

That is not what I “want”, any more than not locking down windows in a building means I “want” people to enter through the windows instead of the (unlocked) door. It can be done, and in the case of torrents and the rest, I’m not going to go all Harlan Ellison about the situation. I would prefer, all things equal, that people buy the work I made, and to do so not because they’re afraid of some application of law and legal threat, but because they want to buy it. There’s no middleman, here. You are buying specifically from the filmmaker/director, and the item that arrives at your house was in my house a short time before.

Creative Commons essentially restores some abilities and freedoms to do things with content that have existed for a long time, and does so by providing some basic licenses, easily applied, that are in simple language for all.  I am not convinced they’re 100% effective in a knock-down drag-out legal fight, but at that point all parties have lost anyway. What it does is lift an awful lot of unneeded stress for everyone, and lets people enjoy the product.

I’ll happily discuss this in more details in the comments, but that’s the basic statement I wanted out there.

Enjoy the movie.

And a Thousand Coins Rain Down

Posted: August 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 25 Comments »


I’m catching up on Glee, as a few people indicated it would be a good show to check out. They told me this quite a few months ago, but when you’re editing a movie, you can’t exactly sit and watch other audiovisual production without distraction, guilt, and an inability to follow the plot. As I enter into some of these more rote procedures of mailing and distribution, I can afford some attention to musicals and plotlines.

What I have before me are 150 coins, the set of lower-numbered coins which will end up with the Adventurers’ Club. The 50 boxes are scattered among the floor that was full of the boxes that went out this week, as well as near the stacks of to-be-labelled international boxes. The internationals require 2976 customs forms, and even with pre-printed labels for everything, there’s still a lot of handwriting to do. (The box/coin combinations are 9 ounces as I know very, very, very well at this juncture.)

As I put this all together, these hundreds and hundreds of outgoing packages, other ones are landing in homes throughout the country.

People are taking photos and sending them in:

I was especially touched by this one:

There’s a few things I want to say, just general things, as this very special time for me takes place.

First of all, I love being part of the fabric of life and culture. I’ve made something (with a lot of help from a lot of people) and my work is going to be talked about, loved, hated, misunderstood, worshiped, dismissed, and everything in between. People react to the subject, the way the subject is approached, the delivery mechanism, and all other aspects of this creation. As someone who’s trashed some pieces of work I’m sure a team worked on for years or cried to the heavens about how the world just doesn’t recognize how much my favorite stuff rules, I know how all that plays out.  I know I did what I set out to do –  concepts and events are living again inside heads that in some cases haven’t been really, truly addressed for a long time. I am pleased and content.

Next, with very, very scant exceptions, everything about this project from the editing and subject matter and omissions and inclusions and cover art and what have you are the result of specific, thoughtful choices I made to the  best of my ability and perspective. They’re points of pride or shame accordingly, but they’re mine. I am sure I will smile and bow at some junctures and raise my eyebrows and look concerned at others.  I can’t take the good and shuck out the bad as being a case of choices made by others than me. They’re all me. I am comfortable with this.

Third, I know that nothing like this comes without cost, personal and otherwise. I’ve paid various prices to bring this project to life. I am, regardless of the process of doing so, pleased I chose to pay them. Very, very pleased.


When I was a teenager, I dreamed of running a BBS. I even had the name: The Works, named after an obscure computer graphics project that gave my imagination a lightning strike. I put this name on floppy disks and it wasn’t until 4 years later that I booted up a computer with a phone line I’d convinced my dad to get me, and I named it The Works BBS.

In 2002, freshly into work on what would become BBS: The Documentary, I spontaneously decided my next film would be about text adventures and it would be called Get Lamp. I registered GETLAMP.COM in May of 2002, three years before BBS was finished and out the door. Here it is August of 2010, and more than eight years after I am now sitting in a room with thousands of boxes, on pallets and in boxes and envelopes, bearing the name GET LAMP. I’m sitting here and people are mailing in photos of themselves, holding my dream in their hands, waving as they enjoy GET LAMP in their own way, on their own terms.

I dreamed it, and it happened. It’s happening. What more could I possibly ask for?

Team Orcutt Taps Out; The GET LAMPs Come and Go

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 25 Comments »

Team Orcutt finished up their (paid) run with me today, with an open offer to return if things heat up again. What we all did together was prepare the packaging for over 1000 copies of GET LAMP, and mail out or label for mailing out all the domestic copies sold before July 18th. Since the first pre-orders came in December, that was quite a backlog to shoot through. There’s a couple crates of domestics by the door ready to head out today (Friday) and then, again, I’ll be caught up to July 18th on domestic.

Here are the international bound copies, ready to get mailing labels and customs forms.


At this moment of writing, I’m only up to April 14th with internationals in terms of boxing, but I’m about to dive down into the remaining pile and keep going.

While we were going through this pile of to-be-boxed GET LAMPs, a truck arrived with the balance of my order.


All I can say is, it pays to have a forklift. The moral of the story is always have a forklift.


That’s my brother, Brandon. He says hi.


So, as previously discussed, piles of boxes of GET LAMP are heading to hundreds of homes around the world.  I hope it was worth the wait. Let me (and the world) know if it was.

Pack It Up Pack It In

Posted: August 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 7 Comments »

Yesterday was a full-scale assault on the GET LAMP backlog. A bunch went out by hand on Monday and Tuesday, mostly testing the electronic postage, packaging, and processes, but yesterday was the big guns.

I hired a couple of friends, Team Orcutt, a husband-and-wife set who live nearby, and we started out with a discussion on best practices, roles, and a safe and healthy workplace (the last solved with a fan blowing the air conditioner into the main part of the room).

GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010

We figured out roles, figured out some ways to save time, and generally got our act together regarding process and procedure. Within no time, we were accurately blowing out packages by the bin.

GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010

Over 400 domestic packages went out yesterday. We hope to get even more out today.

To the Esteemed Adventurers’ Club

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

A solid greetings to the members of the GET LAMP Adventurer’s Club.

In December of 2006, you provided me with $100 apiece towards my next documentary, GET LAMP.  In return for your faithful investment of $100, you received a copy of the BBS Documentary and a promise of a name in credits, and three copies of whatever came out on the other end.

Here, it is July of 2010. You have not complained or questioned yourselves, and you have patiently waited, occasionally mailing in words of encouragement or suggestions. Some of you ended up being interviewed and are in the movie.

I am pushing out the pre-orders before you, mostly to make 100% sure the packages are going to the right place. I’ve verified most of you already, but there might be some stragglers. I will not be mailing out until contact is made.

Your appearance in the credits looks like this:


The interactive and non-interactive versions of GET LAMP, as well as the PAX Mix and any future versions, will have this screen.

I reserved coins 001-010 for myself and some family members ( Don Woods got 001, I get 002), and I gave Coin #042 to Steve Meretzky. With his exception, coins 011-162 will go to Adventure Club Members. I am going to stagger your coins, i.e. everyone will get a coin from 011-062, then a coin from 063-113, and so on.  This way, you get at least one sub-100 coin and at least one sub-200 coin.

I hope the wait was worth it, and the payoff worth it.

We’ll be in touch.  Thanks again for such patience and faith.

Accessibility of GET LAMP

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

GET LAMP: Subtitles

After shipping out, my next big priority is accessibility information, and, believe it or not, more editing.

As it currently stands, the GET LAMP DVD is very friendly for the hearing impaired, and problematic for the visually impaired.  Ironic, I know, but obviously a situation I am not going to let stand for very long.

On the side of hearing or issues with unbalanced sound, things are pretty good for an independent production: All the main features (GET LAMP, INFOCOM, BEDQUILT) have additional audio tracks for just the background music, or just the spoken words. You can hear lots of funky edits in both cases (since I mixed them to be together, not so nakedly obvious) but you’ll be able to enjoy the parts of the movie you want, and get around hearing issues in that way. Absolutely all features, be they episodes, music videos, or the shorts, all have subtitling. The full credits for all the transcribers is hidden on the disc. Good luck finding them!

The assets for the main GET LAMP movie are scattered throughout the disc – this wasn’t intentional or meant to be an anti-copying measure or anything. It’s a side effect of the movie being interactive, and even the “non-interactive” version utilizes these self-same scattered assets, albeit without providing a menu.  This has the potential to be problematic for blind or sight-impaired users. There are two solutions I am going to pursue.

The first is going to be a document on the GET LAMP site that will provide users who want it with a guide to negotiating the two discs. In regular DVD players, the second disc beeps on insert, making it easier to determine which you have (the discs are otherwise silent). I’ve also had some players not beep on placing the disc in there, but that’s a problem with the software. I will provide a list of what chapters do what. It’s a spoiler for people who want to discover the differences and situations, but in that case, don’t check out the document.

The second is that I’m going to work on a descriptive version of the three main episodes, and then describe others as the community requests. I might have a professional printing done of these resulting sound files, a small run, and as per the Upgrade Guarantee, will be offered at cost to users who buy the main product, or I might simply offer a free digital download.  One side effect of this project will be that you’d be able to listen to GET LAMP in a music player, or a car.

While I have to focus on getting the ordered packages out, these issues of accessibility will not be forgotten. I welcome commentary and suggestions to ensure that everyone has a chance to enjoy GET LAMP to the fullest of their potential experience.

Shipping Begins in Earnest

Posted: August 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 7 Comments »


I’m now in the same room as over a thousand copies of GET LAMP, with another two thousand plus on the way via truck.  What was once a rather idyllic room is now quickly becoming a full shipping center.

I’ve got hundreds of printing labels, over a thousand shipping packages, over a thousand coins… it’s kind of fearful, really. All of this is leaving across this week.

I was able to print a few full postage labels, get the coins synced, get it all wrapped up.  So the machine is beginning to work.

This is going to be a very busy week.