Archive for the ‘Technology’ 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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Guest spot on another blog

June 30, 2010

This week, I was asked by my good friend Jamie to contribute to his technology blog. The request came after I had a strong reaction to one of Google’s latest innovations – Google Voice.

Please check out my post, “Let your ‘Voice’ be heard,” and let me know what you think!

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Prince of Darkness 101

June 16, 2010

Even though I’m not proud of this fact, I will admit it – I didn’t become a fan of Ozzy Osbourne until MTV put his family on the air. I knew who he was, but didn’t start getting into his tunes until I saw the show. I watched The Osbournes every week, and even purchased the show’s soundtrack album (which has some great tunes on it, so check it out before you judge me!).

Here’s a clip that always makes me laugh. Ozzy and Sharon are checking out the stage setup for his upcoming tour, and the he’s not altogether pleased with what he sees. The video quality is terrible and it has German subtitles, but it gets the point across. WARNING: there are multiple “f”-bombs, so adjust your volume accordingly.

Soon after the show debuted, I learned more about the Prince of Darkness. Like many rockers, he was not kind to his body. All kinds of drugs (and mammals) entered his system for decades, and he continued to struggle with medications during and following the TV show’s run. Incredibly, he is still around and rocking the house.

He’s a fascinating man… and apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Scientists are now planning to study Ozzy’s genetic makeup in an effort to understand how the human body is able to withstand intense abuse. I’d love to see the results when they’re finished.

While they’re at it, maybe these scientists should also put in requests to Keith Richards and Scott Weiland. They would be likely also be interesting case studies.

Do you have any other suggestions for whom these scientists should bust out a Petri dish?

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Two new reasons to love Legos

June 15, 2010

If you weren’t already aware of the awesomeness of Legos, I’ve just read two stories that could prove it to you.

Lego Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, courtesy of Wired.com

Lego Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, courtesy of Wired.com

First up, there’s the scale model of a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia, the crazy cool racer used by Italian State Police. Much snazzier than the Fords I’m used to. They catch criminals in style!

Monster Chess (Credit: TeamHassenplug.org) - Courtesy CNET (news.cnet.com)

Monster Chess (Credit: TeamHassenplug.org) - Courtesy CNET (news.cnet.com)

Then there’s Monster Chess, a huge, robotic chess set that uses sensors built into the 156-square-foot floor to move the pieces via computers. Makes me wish I knew how to play!

And since I’m already showing some Lego love, I’ll share some pics from my personal collection.

Here’s a huge Lego Nessie (Loch Ness Monster) living in the water outside the Lego Imagination Center in Downtown Disney. Isn’t she beautiful? I wonder if the real Nessie posed for this artist’s rendering…

Lego Nessie, photo taken by me 8-22-08

Lego Nessie, photo taken by me 8-22-08

Speaking of artists, have you ever heard of an artist whose work is all done with these little plastic bricks? This is a piece titled “Gray” by the amazing Lego artist Nathan Sawaya. I took this photo during an exhibit of his work at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.

Nathan Sawaya's "Gray" - photo taken by me 4-11-08

Nathan Sawaya's "Gray" - photo taken by me 4-11-08

Incredible, right? Check out the other stuff on his site to truly be amazed. Works like all of those above are a refreshing reminder that Legos aren’t just for kids and we should never harness our imagination.

Have you seen other incredible Lego art? Or perhaps art created by other childhood toys? Share them in the comments below!

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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.

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Grammatically speaking

April 6, 2010

OMG i jst herd da koolest story LOL itz soooo gr8 ROFL 2 tru luv u L8R

Does anyone else’s head hurt? Sorry I had to put you through that, but I’m trying to prove a harsh point. What you just read (if you could even read it) is unfortunately similar to a great deal of the writing done by children, teens, and adults as a direct result of modern technology.

If I had to guess, I’d say it all goes back to the notes kids pass around in school. They are usually written in some form of shorthand so that they can be created quickly and passed on to their intended reader. Then there was instant messaging and beeper lingo, followed by texting. Facebook status messages followed. Now, there’s Twitter. Who knows what will be next to distort our poor language.

I was a writing tutor during college and couldn’t believe the papers students were brought me. Poor grammar, terrible spelling (even with spell check!), crazy punctuation, no thesis statements, no sentence structure… some of those papers were just unbearable! What was causing such widespread, terrible writing?

My only thought continues to be that writing skills across the board are being negatively affected by the proliferation of shorthand tech outlets available to young children. If they are exposed to this style of writing from a young age, it’s hard to blame them when they reach college and cannot draft a proper introduction.

And it’s not just writing style that has been affected by gadgets and Web sites. I’d also say that good penmanship has greatly diminished as a result of computers. Personally, my handwriting is pretty awful. I tell myself that it’s because I spend far more time typing that I do actually picking up a pen. Although, I do seem to recall being scolded in third grade for sloppy handwriting… sorry, Sister Robertine!

What can be done to correct these horrendous occurrences in today’s youth? The children, teens and college students of today will soon be the leaders of tomorrow. Do we really want future legislation written in 140 characters or less? Should novels start including emoticons so readers know how to react? Will people even be reading novels??

I recently got a new phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard. I’ve decided that with this phone, I will now send texts that are grammatically correct with proper punctuation. I will also use complete sentences in my emails, status messages and wall posts. I may not be able to change the world, but I can change my own habits.

Won’t you please join me and save our language? If we all do our part, maybe we can stop the madness!

Please share your thoughts about how communication has changed over time due to advances in technology. Do you feel that your personal skills have diminished? If yes, how?

[This post goes out to a wonderful blog reader, Debbie. Thanks for the great idea!]