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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Personal Dictionary

How words are added to the personal dictionary.
When I type a word my phone does not recognize I can select to add it to my personal dictionary so it will recognize it in the future. I'll leave the analysis up to you. Here is the unedited list of words contained therein:

What Widgets Do

Widgets are applications that run in the background all the time. If you have a widget on your computer it is probably a clock, a calculator, possibly even an animated fish tank. On your phone they may be a weather service or something that tells you where the lowest gas prices are.

These are useless. Widgets take simple things that need to be done maybe once or twice a day and run them constantly.

The weather service is the worst offender of this. No one needs up to the minute weather information. In fact, the weather app should have the current weather as the smallest bit of information. When people look for weather info they want to know what the weather will be like. This can be accomplished by looking at the weather once in the morning before heading to work.

Weather App running on Android
Why do people think they need widgets always running and taking up battery life? They look cool and they represent the future, where information is always at our fingertips. Hint: that future is already here and it can be accessed through a series of web pages. Maybe it doesn't look like Minority Report, but it's just as useful.

PlaySpent: An Educational Game

It's generally known that educational games do not work. They are often subsidized by governments, kids are forced to complete them, and they never accomplish their goals to instruct. This is because video games are an emotional medium. It's not that games cannot teach facts, it's that in order to do so an emotional connection must be made that affects the player.

Playspent is an interesting attempt to bridge the gap between emotional connection and fact. In it you play as an American citizen. The simulation saddles you with a fictitious family and presents you with decisions that must be made for them. The game gives you the opportunity to get a job.

I chose the best job I could find, but maybe less stable?
If you choose the job of "temp" then the game asks you to type something accurately and quickly to prove you can do the job.
Yay! I got a job.  Many Americans
don't have the skills I have.
Once you find out whether you got the job a message appears that asks if you want to opt for health insurance.

Health insurance is expensive.

After your choice an informative pop up appears:

Let's hope you don't get sick!
As you can see the game has a way to connect the real facts about America with you the player of a fictitious game.

Try it here.

Don't Buy the New iPhone


Apple revealed the new iPhone 4S yesterday. Slimmer, better camera, better antenna.

That's it? Listen, I understand why you want the new iPhone. I've been there. I thought it would make my life better. Now I only have to carry around one thing! It's my mp3 player, gps, and phone all in one. Plus I can search the web on the go! I can be always connected.

Always connected.

How often in a one on one conversation do you pull out your phone? If not you, then your companion? The draw of being always connected affects us all. We cling to knowing whether the people we talk to online are reading our stuff. Do they like it? Did they comment on it? Even when a real person is right in front of us.

iPhone 4S (source)
The new iPhone is a slight upgrade to the hardware. And it's another step closer to the nebulous internet, and a step away from the people around you.

See also: mnmlist and good.is

MasterQuesting III

Master Quest Title Screen (source)
Please read MasterQuesting I and MasterQuesting II before proceeding.

We progressed into the rest of the game wide eyed and excited. But we were let down. The rest of the game was just like Ocarina of Time. Not harder, just different. At some point we looked at the FAQ for Master Quest and found out that in that level where we experienced such hardships, if we hit the switch at the right time, it would lower the water level enough so that we could get under the spike unscathed. This was a huge disappointment.

Nevertheless, from now on "MasterQuesting" will be known as the act of using the game's mechanics in the strictest sense to progress through a level. This can include anything where something inherent to the game (without the addition of hacking software) can be exploited to proceed. It usually will result in the player working much harder than necessary because they cannot find any other way.
MasterQuesting (verb) The act of using the game's mechanics in the strictest sense to progress through a level. This can include anything where something inherent to the game (without the addition of hacking software) can be exploited to proceed. It usually will result in the player working much harder than necessary because they cannot find any other way.

MasterQuesting II



Master Quest Title Screen (source)
Please read MasterQuesting I before reading this.

The scene is set. A switch triggered torch on one side. An unlit torch on the other. Spiky pole and water in the center. Knowing that Master Quest was supposed to be more challenging, we assumed the hardest possible conclusion.
Diagram of the Situation
We got the Tektite's attention and got him to come over to where we were. We waited for the platform to be moving towards us and we hit the switch. We lit the stick and jumped onto the platform. If we timed it right the Tektite would hit us and knock us through the spiky pole (in our short time of invincibility after taking damage) and we could jump to the other side and light the torch. This had to be the answer. There was no other way to accomplish it! We tried this several times and found it to be extremely hard to pull off. Eventually, we succeeded.

This was the best possible thing. It was challenging in a way that was specific to Zelda fans. You had to understand the exact mechanics of the game so well that small timeframes of invincibility came into play.

See MasterQuesting III for more.