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December 27, 2008

Silly Siblings Productions

Well, my children got a vidcam for Christmas and, less than 48 hours later, they already have their own YouTube channel and first production.

It should be noted, since it isn't very clear, Juniper is the child of Colleen and AmyJo and not some hitherto unknown child of mine.

Merry Christmas!

P. S. - I did all my own stunts.

December 23, 2008

Tetris and Phones Don't Mix

So, I asked you to help out my daughter in her science project and you did. You played Tetris. Then you played Tetris on the phone. Here are the results.

As you can see from the graph to the right, as you might expect, people, on average, do a lot worse when playing Tetris on the phone. Surprised? I didn't think so.

Now let's break it down a bit. We old folgies did worse overall than the young whipper snappers. What's with that? My generation teethed on Tetris! Do I have to carry all of you? Sheesh.

Still, an interesting note, the dropoff because of phone use was basically the same for both age groups.

But, in the battle of the sexes, women did much better overall in average score off the phone, but on the phone, men win! This was contrary to Emma's prediction which supposed that women are better at multitasking and therefore would do better on the phone than men.

Well, if you participated in the study, thanks. Emma had fun doing it.

Home Office

I'm working from home today because the roads were pretty treacherous up to Two Harbors, but fortunately for me I have a well stocked home office, complete with cubbies to hold such necessities as... Cuthbert. Don't ask me why he likes that basket. He just does.

December 21, 2008

The Dystopic 70s

THX2.jpgI just found out that Mac users, like me, can now view some Netflix films online. That option has been open to PC users for over a year now, but don't get me started on that.

So I was strolling through their catalog and, without really planning to, I started watching films and shows from the 1970s, the era of my childhood. Of particular note were THX 1138 and Logan's Run.

I remember watching both of these a long time ago, but was pretty fuzzy about the details of each. Both are about a dystopian future where computers pretty much rule everything, but beyond that they are very different futures.

Logan's Run is a future in which everyone looks like a model and runs around like they are in a groovy soda commercial. The only catch is, you have to die when you are 30, but you get to die in a pretty cool pyrotechnic show in which you get to fly around in spandex, so that's not so bad.

THX 1138 is a future in which your medicine cabinet talks to you in comforting tones, suggesting what kind of medication you might want. The police are robots who also talk in comforting tones, while looking like black and silver nightmares, and hot pursuits are budgeted in real time and they have to break off pursuit if they go over budget.

The interesting thing that both of these dystopias foresaw was a world in which the natural world, the world outside, was completely unknown and alien. In both stories the hero, who is rebelling against the dominant paradigm, is trying to get outside, much like Plato's cave hero.

Both also address religion as a root cause of the enslavement of their societies. In Logan's Run it is a permissive religion that allows any pleasure as long as they submit to termination or "rebirth" at 30. In THX 1138 it is an impersonal voice of OMM which soothes, comforts, and encourages drones to work harder, be submissive, and consume more.

Logan's world does appear, on the outside, to be a technicolor paradise, if you like endless malls and food courts of very thin people. THX's world, on the other hand, appears to be a world where everyone is miserable all the time and in desperate need of Rogaine.

Interestingly, THX 1138, which I remember as being a real snooze fest, held up better over time for me while Logan's Run seemed really dated, exploitative, and clunky. That said, I still think Jessica 6 is hot.

Anyone want to weigh in on these two films or what you remember of them?

December 11, 2008

Be a Guinea Pig and Play Tetris!

tetris.jpgSo, my daughter needs your help. It's for science, so I'm sure it's okay. Here's what she needs you to do by next Tuesday, December 16.

1. Play Tetris.

2. Play Tetris while talking to someone on the phone. Don't talk about the game you're currently playing, though.

3. Send her your scores (off the phone and on the phone). (Also send if you've played Tetris before or not, your age and gender, and where you're playing. (These could be variables that affect the data.))

That's it, really. So, remember, you're not wasting time. You're helping a teenager with her science project.

December 4, 2008

Warcraft Economics 101

Crankshaft_Kirintor.jpgAs you may or may not know, I love me some World of Warcraft. Though it may sound boring, one of the things I really enjoy about the game is the complex economics. After my guy, Prof. Crankshaft Singlebearing, puts the hurt on some baddie, he often has loot to dispose of and I like to try to leverage every copper out of it. I enjoy making the marketplace work for me. Here are a few things I've observed about economics from playing Warcraft.

1. Knowledge = Time = Money - Yes, the old saw "time is money" holds up in Azeroth, but equally important is knowledge. Knowing where to find things saves you time and can also make you more money.

2. Lazy People Means More Money for Me - I make money off of lazy people because industrious people, for the most part, don't need my services. As a mage I make a good deal of money making portals for people to go from point A to point B. Now, they could get there for cheaper using other means, but they pay me because they don't want to take the time. Do I feel guilty about this? Not in the least.

3. Never Flood the Market - When I find that I have something that is of value I don't put it up for auction all at once. By putting it all up there, I actually depress the value of what I'm selling. Also, I risk being undercut by someone who sees my prices and decides they can sell it for a few silver less.

4. Never Be in a Hurry - People make bad financial decisions when they are in a hurry. Taking time is important on both the selling and the buying side of things in Azeroth. If you wait you get to see the fluctuation in the value of a thing and you can make a more educated decision as to what constitutes a good price for a thing.

5. It's Worth Whatever the Market Can Bear - So many times people say to me "I'm not buying that for that much! It's not worth it!" And, I have to agree. It's not worth it to them. But don't tell me that my price is wrong, because if I can sell it for that price, it is worth that much to that person at that time.

6. Novelty Breeds Greed -
A sure way to make money is to find whatever is the new thing and sell that. I remember a couple years ago when the Christmas related quests came out and people were trying to find small eggs to make cookies. The price for 5 small eggs on the auction went from being a few measly silver to well over a gold overnight. And then people flooded the market (see 3) and the price crashed. But for a few hours we who had the knowledge and the time were making a lot of money off of the lazy people.

Now, World of Warcraft is not like the real world in many different ways. In Warcraft resources are limitless. You kill a bird, and in a few minutes another one will spawn to take its place. You mine some ore, some more will pop up somewhere else.

Also, everyone has equal opportunity to make wealth. I really have no patience with people in Azeroth who beg because all you really need to make wealth is a mining pick or a fishing pole and some time. I would argue that not everyone has equal access to making wealth in the real world.

Further, cash is always coming into the game. People get cash from completing quests or booty from vanquished foes and, since there is no end to this, new wealth is always being created.

So, if you play WoW, I'm curious... what is your World of Wealthcraft?