Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

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Is this taking gaming too far?

January 12, 2011

 

Gamer's Hell

Gamer's Hell (from kotaku.com)

I’ve never been a really big video game player. When we were younger, my sister and I had a Commodore 64, Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Gameboy and a bunch of handheld electronic games. We didn’t play them nearly as much as other people I knew, and we never upgraded beyond that. Currently, I have a Wii (and yes, I still have the SuperNES and Gameboy), but still don’t play all that often.

There are many people around the world, however, who spend a great deal of their time gaming. There’s something for everyone: Rock Band for music fans; World of Warcraft for fantasy buffs; Little Big Planet for creative, social players; countless sports games for athletic enthusiasts… the list goes on and on. I can understand how people could get sucked in, and how it could easily end up becoming more than a hobby for people with addictive personalities.

Even though I have long been concerned about the time people spend on video and computer games, things seem to be reaching new, horrifying heights.

The always innovative adult entertainment industry pounced on the new XBox 360 Kinect system, developing a way to use the motion detection software to simulate sex acts. Just what people really needed – interactive porn. Lovely.

And apparently, the average person’s attention span is so short that they even need amusement when using a restroom. Seriously? Are we that desperate for entertainment that we need to, as this article so delicately puts it, be “a first-person shooter” in the bathroom?

If these two developments are really in demand by international gamers, then I may be ready to give up on the human race altogether.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the gaming industry? Please join in this conversation and help me wrap my head around all of this.

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Digital dependence: Is it a good thing?

November 22, 2010

Everything in our lives today revolves around technology. We’re lost without our cell phones. We check email countless times a day. Our iPods are constantly playing, our Blackberries always surfing the web, our GPS continually spewing directions. These things are so ingrained in our daily lives that we hardly even notice them when they work correctly.

It’s when our connections are disrupted that we get in a tizzy. Undoubtedly, you have been at work when the Internet goes down. Frustrated, you refresh your browser and email repeatedly feeling lost without your link to the digital world. How did we let ourselves become so attached to our gadgets?

In October, CNET ran a piece about the symptoms experienced by a group of first-year college students after a day not being plugged in. They had a very difficult time without technology and experienced withdrawal (much like someone beginning a drug rehabilitation program). And this was after just one day!

Growing up with all of these tech advances is changing the living and working habits of the current youth generation. The NYTimes explained how the ease and accessibility of online videos, games, phones/texting/etc. has directly influenced the ability of young people to focus on a single task. Some colleges are now trying to incorporate handheld devices into courses and lesson plans in an effort to connect to their otherwise disengaged students.

Even though we had a Commodore 64 when I was younger, my family didn’t get its first, real PC until I was in seventh grade (Christmas ’96). Today’s college freshman were mostly born in 1992. They’ve grown up with PCs (do they even know what dial-up is?), probably bypassed Walkmans for Discmans, and never knew a world without video games. My sister got our first Gameboy about 2 years after these freshmen were born when she was 13 (her son, my nephew, just got a Nintendo DS… for his fifth birthday).

It’s astounding how dramatically life has changed for us is such a short span of time. I really do love technology, for many reasons. I mean, I wouldn’t have a job otherwise, so right there is a huge thank you to the tech gods. But I do worry that all of these gadgets and gizmos, along with our need to be in constant contact and our general lack of attention span, could be causing a general dumbing down of our society as a whole.

Maybe we should all try a day or two without our devices, just to remember simpler times. We could read books, play board games, look through photo albums, talk with old friends…

Or we could just fire up our laptops and do all of those things at the same time from the comfort of our couches. Ah, progress!

What’s your take on all of this?

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Dressed for success, or for a nap?

September 5, 2010

Last week, classes began here at the university and schools nationwide should all be opening their doors this coming week (if they haven’t already). My mother also works at a university, and this weekend we were sharing our thoughts on the college student dress code we’ve noticed over the last few years.

I am floored at the number of students who deem it acceptable to attend class in their pajamas. From flannel pants to bootie shorts, torn T-shirts to spaghetti strap tanks, these young adults appear to be rolling out of their beds and into their classrooms.

This attire has always concerned me. I never went to class in pjs, and rarely left my dorm if I wasn’t showered. Sadly, I was in the minority. Everyday I saw people drag themselves to their desks (regardless of the class time or day) in various states of sleep and stank. Now working at the college, I am often disgusted by what I see (and smell) from some students.

Perhaps the students feel that by paying (or having their parents/guardians pay) for an education, they are entitled to dress however they please. Maybe they think that what they wear is irrelevant to the academic process.

These are not the only possible scenarios, but I would really love to know what makes students think that they should walk into class in their jammies.

I’ve always thought how a person dresses can be viewed as an extension of who they are as a person. By exhibiting a touch of your personality, your clothing can indicate to potential employers how seriously you take yourself and your work ethic while also giving a small insight into your character. Of course, this doesn’t tell everything about someone. I would be disheartened to hear someone founded their opinion of me only on how I dress. However, I am realistic enough to know how vain we all are and to accept that we all judge one another to some extent based on what we see.

At an academic institution, you never know who is visiting. You may pass the CEO of the company you hope to intern with as you cross the quad. The person beside you at the library could be the human resources representative for your dream job. A guest lecturer in your class might be looking for people to sign on for their new start-up. Your big break could be waiting for you at any moment.

Just as people should be aware that the material they post online might be viewed by potential employers (so no drunken party photos or obscene gestures, please), they must also realize that they are walking billboards for their future.

I’m not saying college students should always dress in suits, ties and skirts. Trust me, I don’t dress like a business professional either at work or on days off. But maybe people should consider their level of embarrassment if they were introduced to a very important person while wearing their favorite duck pajama pants.

If not out of respect for your education or your educators, take some time to wear decent clothes out of respect for yourself. Don’t misrepresent yourself and possibly miss out on a great opportunity simply because you were too tired to find your pants.

And take a shower, too. That one’s for the benefit of us all.

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Angry and disgusted

July 20, 2010

Every so often, I read a story about someone that really makes me question humanity as a whole. Yesterday, one such story angered me so much that I need to share it.

While poking around AOL News, I found a story on a special-education teacher in Pennsylvania who claimed to have brain cancer. She missed plenty of work, saying she had to undergo chemotherapy treatments. Folks around her were extremely supportive and generous towards what they thought was an ill coworker. When more than a decade of this passed and the teacher had yet to exhibit symptoms, an investigation uncovered a trail of lies.

Friends, family, and loyal readers know of my deep connection to this disease. I find it difficult to fully express my disdain for this woman as she used such a horrific illness as a cover for her deceit. I would love to visit her jail cell and explain to her the deeper severity of what she’s done. Did her family watch her suffer through surgeries, treatments and their side effects? Did she have to endure the pain, anguish and frustration that real cancer patients deal with daily?

What kind of person wakes up one morning and decides to feign a devastating sickness for their own personal gain? She played on people’s sympathies and emotions, receiving acts of kindness and generosity that should have benefitted someone who actually needed them. What’s perhaps more disturbing is that she was a special-education teacher, in charge of children with varying situations that require patience, understanding and compassion. My heart goes out to the children in her classes, as they were under the care of a mentally sick individual with no regard for others.

Jail time would not be enough for this woman. She should have to work without pay in cancer treatment centers, witnessing the struggles and the extreme courage of the people who are really fighting this disease. Maybe then she could begin to understand what a terrible person she is for making those claims.

Have you heard about this woman? Are you aware of other people who have made similar claims? How do you feel after reading something like this?

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More than one Number 1??

June 30, 2010

In a NYTimes article the other day, the reporter covered a recent trend in education nationwide. Some high schools have decided that selecting one student as valedictorian is unfair to the other A-plus students. Instead, they support multiple or group valedictorians to spread around the honor.

Before I get into this discussion, I must confess a personal bias. In 2002, I had the extreme honor of being my high school‘s valedictorian. There was definitely drama associated with this accomplishment, but when the smoke cleared I was one of three student speakers at our graduation – valedictorian, salutatorian and pro deo et schola (a student chosen as much for their academic excellence as for their overall character).

My school was small, as was my graduating class (approximately 85 students), but that did not lessen the pride I felt as I spoke to my classmates, our families and all members of our high school community. Throughout my academic career, I worked very hard for my grades. I studied for hours and spent long nights writing papers to get me to that point. The acknowledgement of my years of hard work is something I will carry with me wherever I go. It continued to push me in my schoolwork during college, and is still a driving force in my graduate work and in all aspects of my life.

The trend towards multiple valedictorians is near to my heart, and I see value to both sides of this argument.

By honoring just one of the many hard-working, deserving students, the others might feel a sense of disappointment at a lack of acknowledgement. They may feel slighted and angry, possibly even distraught. Scholarly success should be praised regardless of class rank. Why should fractions of a grade point place one person on a pedestal while countless more are left out of the spotlight?

On the other hand, we are a competitive society. We teach our children to pursue athletics and to be the best at their sport. There’s only one winning team in a baseball game, only one winner in a track event. There are debate clubs, chess clubs, scholarship competitions and other academic challenges in which there are clearly defined winners. Students are taught to seek excellence in every aspect of their lives. Why shouldn’t we publicly honor someone who meets that academic challenge throughout their high school career?

It’s a tough debate, one in which I hope you will participate. Do you think it’s unfair to single out one valedictorian rather than celebrating all of the above average students? Or should the highest overall G.P.A. win out?

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1,500 and counting!

June 15, 2010

I just wanted to thank everyone who comes to the blog for bringing my total page views to 1,500 today! Knowing that other people take an interest in what I write means the world to me. If there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, please leave a comment and let me know. Otherwise, you’re stuck with whatever pops into my head.

Thanks again. Let’s see how quickly we can get to 2,000!

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Are We Sharing Too Much?

June 14, 2010

I wanted to share this entry from my graduate school blog, as I felt it was relevant to all readers. I’ve made only a few edits to make it relevant on this blog.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about my voice and what image I hope to project through my writing. It’s difficult to decide what to share and what to keep private. Blogging can be very personal, almost like an online diary. Anyone seeking to establish themselves as a professional blogger and writer must find a way to stand out from the thousands upon thousands of amateurs on the Web.

Currently, I have two blogs. I have an academic blog, on which I share assignments and other items related to my graduate work. I do not share personal information there unless required to by an assignment. Any personal posts are left to this blog. By doing this, I’m attempting to separate my public persona from my private persona. Even with this blog, however, I don’t share everything about my life. I don’t believe every item of my life should be out in the open for the world to see. Honestly, I worry about people who share too much.

As my classmate Timebrat discussed recently, bad things can happen when we share too much about ourselves online. He mentioned a coworker who tweeted that she would be away all day and returned that night to find her home burglarized. Would this have happened if she hadn’t made it clear that she wouldn’t be there? Not likely. Stories like this are all too common as people fail to recognize the accessibility of their information on the Internet.

Recently, foursquare has gained popularity through Facebook and Twitter. This application is a perfect example of people sharing far too much information. With foursquare, users update their status messages to say where they currently are. From the post office to a concert, no location is off limits. Some users may think it’s fun to be the most frequent visitor to a location. They may see it as a game, a way to meet up with friends and receive discounts from stores and restaurants. What these users may not realize is that they are making it quite easy for potential criminals to know their exact location and take full advantage.

Personally, I try not to mention a concert or event until after it has occurred (unless I was writing an event preview). This way, no one knows that my apartment is empty or that I will be driving alone on the Merritt. Internet users, especially younger ones, need to be more aware of the globally accessible nature of the Web and use caution when sharing personal information.

The safety of you and your family is far more important than becoming the “mayor.” Think twice before jeopardizing it.

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What are your thoughts on apps like foursquare? Do you think people should share such details in an online forum? Do you share such info? Why or why not? Why do you think people are so willing to divulge this information? Please join in this discussion.