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Journal: Modern Video Games and Rewarding Failure

Journal by _xeno_

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but a lot of modern (and by modern, I can really go back nearly two decades, which is kind of sad) video games have this annoying tendency to reward failure. When you fail at something, rather than letting you try again until you learn how to succeed, they instead make the game progressively easier. The idea is to prevent people from getting "stuck" and allow them to get to the end of the game. Of course, what it really does is prevent you from learning how to meet the challenges the game has and instead encourages you to simply keep on failing until the game gives up and just lets you win.

I really, really wish game developers would stop with that crap. I want to be given a challenge, the tools necessary to figure out, and then the chance to learn how to meet the challenge. I don't want games to just "let" me win because they've decided I'm too dumb to play them, which in turn is caused by them never giving me a chance to learn to play them properly.

Enough with dynamic difficulty. Enough with rewarding failure.

User Journal

Journal: When Did 'Beta' Become A Dirty Word On /. ? 5

Journal by MonTemplar

Just spotted that people are stuffing comments into various stories here for the sole purpose of complaining about the /. Beta.

Maybe it's because I only occasionally visit here, but are people really that hung up on the current design?

Hell, I can remember when /. didn't even bother with any testing, period, just shoved changes straight onto the production servers. Fun times. (Not)

Having looked at the Beta, it seems to me a damn sight cleaner that some news sites I can think of*. Ok, the comment view controls could use some refining, but that's the whole point of beta-testing, right?

(*I still have nightmares about pre-2000s ZDNet. Makes the current design look almost pleasant by comparison.)

User Journal

Journal: In general support of /. editors 6

Journal by maynard

I've seen the comment forums filled with off-topic posts about a badly deployed beta upgrade. Community members are pissed and they're venting and they want site owners to not just listen but act on community concerns. And so we see a temper tantrum that likely has only alienated corporate owners and made life for editorial staff miserable.

I have sympathy for both perspectives. The upgrade really is a mess. Commenting doesn't work, layout wastes space, fonts are poorly chosen, etc. Yet I also recognize that software upgrades are necessary. Slashdot is looking pretty creaky. Another coat of whitewash over cracks in the woodwork won't do. Deciding to rewrite and build something new is a defendable choice. But owners should know that simply deploying something new is not the same as building something that works. As an old timer here, I'd like functionality considered above mere design. Ideally, a good new site would merge the two seamlessly.

Of course, no one screaming out there in the community cares what I have to say. I've been absent so long I'm barely a member these days. But I think the continued tantrum is going overboard and risks causing more damage than good. Destroying /. to save it is no solution. Make a stink, get your views known, but editors have posted a place for dialog and it's time to use it. Crapflooding every article with off-topic rants about the beta now diminishes community goals. It's counterproductive.

I'd like to see /. resurgent. I think Reddit has gotten too big and the Internet needs competitors in link aggregation and commenting as a checks and balancing mechanism. Slashdot still has popular heft and a functioning community. I'd encourage owners and editors to consider this community response as an encouraging sign. People care. And that means that with appropriate management-community dialog, the site remains viable going forward. The question is: after this period of decline, how do you retool to challenge competitors like Reddit and grow at their expense? Throwing away your community doesn't solve that problem.

User Journal

Journal: 2001: A Space Odyssey - Discerning Themes through Score and Imagery

Journal by maynard

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favorite films. Recently, I wrote a ~25,000 word analysis, with image stills and video clips, discussing Nietzsche's philosophical themes of Ascent of Man and Eternal Recurrence implied therein. Comparing HAL's murder of the Discovery One's crew in contrast to Moonwatcher's killing of a competing ape tribe leader over a water hole, I note that both gain sentience through violence. Another argument proposes that the apes are as maladapted to their savana environment as is modern man by his tools and socialization, leading to dehumanization by technology rather than triumph. I list several motifs in imagery, contrapuntal use of musical score that evokes emotion in opposition to visual narrative, analyze actor micro-expressions used to imply character intent, and end with subsequent impact of the film on depictions of artificial intelligence. There are numerous citations from Bizony, Freud, Kracaeur, Nietzsche, Zizek, and more. Perhaps some /. members who also love the film might be interested in the read.

User Journal

Journal: WTF happened to you, Apple? 3

Journal by maynard

As a long time Apple customer (I still even own an original Apple II), I've come to rely on the firm to design high quality equipment and provide top tier support to sustain consistent workflow. I don't expect the firm to work miracles, but I do expect honest communication when problems arise.

I have a 2010 27" iMac. Recently, the firm has recalled 1TB drives shipped with units from this era. I had purchased Applecare, so the machine was still even under warranty. It had never been opened, it was - other than some minor cosmetic blemishes on the screen - as original as it had been sold. So, I contacted the nearest Apple Store and arranged to have the unit serviced.

On the 23rd I spoke with a Genius Bar (tm) representative who assured me it would almost certainly be same-day service. Though, it might - if there were problems - take up to three days. Regardless, he assured me, a representative from the firm would call me and give an update regarding the status of the repair. Since I've moved from the United States to Australia, he also offered a power cable with the new connector. Great! On the 24th at 9:45am, I brought the unit in for servicing in its original box and coating with its original foam cover.

I asked the representative to also check the superdrive, as I thought that it wasn't reading discs properly any longer. And, no that isn't because of region coding differences. It really did seem to be a head alignment problem in the drive.

'No worries, we'll fix it up for you! Expect a call late this afternoon.' Came the reply.

They conducted an analysis of the machine, we did some paperwork, and then I left with an empty box at a bit after 10am.

No call that afternoon was forthcoming. But, OK. Maybe they had a backlog. Whatever. Then no call came the next day. Fine. And then no call came the next day - three days in. However, it was the weekend and I thought, 'hey, I'll give them a break. Maybe they don't service machines on Saturday or Sunday, even though the store is open.'

Then no call came on Monday. By Tuesday morning I was angry. Not only were they five days into a repair that was - at most - supposed to take three (with a verbal promise of same day), but they hadn't even bothered to call or email me to give a status update on the repair. And I have a work backlog to deal with.

So I called and spoke with the manager. I told him that the issue wasn't that they were taking longer than expected to resolve the repair. The issue was a lack of communication with their customer. The firm wrote on my sheet that a staffer would call with an update within 48hrs and nobody did. Further, they made me wait thirty minutes on hold calling for a status update only to lose track of me and hang up.

A staffer called back and told me the machine was ready for pick up.

I get to the store and immediately I feel like I am not wanted by these staffers. They segregate me off to the side. Then they bring me to the back genius bar desk and bring out the machine and paperwork, but - unlike when they inventoried the machine during the initial sign in - they didn't turn the machine on to prove its functionality during check-out. The staffer clearly wanted me to sign the paper and leave as quickly as possible.

I asked about the power cord. She refused and suggested I speak with a staffer who would sell me one.

'OK, fine.' I thought, 'I don't need a power cord and I definitely don't want to be here any longer. These people are rude.'

I picked up the computer and left as fast as I could.

Only two years ago you offered best in service. While I don't expect freebies, I certainly do expect follow through on promises. Your store failed in every respect, from meeting policy obligations your company set for staffers in dealing with the customer to fulfilling verbal promises your staffers provided on the side.

Bad bad bad bad bad. Frankly, worse than Dell.

Apple, what the hell has happened to you? This professional customer who buys top of the line equipment to support his business workflow now wants to find an alternative. For Adobe is where I butter my bread, not Apple any longer. And its clear to me, Apple has determined that I'm not how they butter their bread either.

User Journal

Journal: Oh, look! An Atari Slashdot Logo With Scrolling Rainbows!

Journal by PotatoHead

Well, not too much to say right now, other than I like the changing logo. It's a Google wannabe kind of thing, but in a good way. Nicely done.

If you own and value old computers, particularly if you use them, feel free to chatter below. I have an Apple //e, Atari 800XL, and Color Computer 3, up running and useful. (well sort of useful)

IOS

Journal: iOS 5.1 Unleashes 4G on AT&T Subscribers: iPhone Battery Life Halved

Journal by _xeno_

When the iPhone 4S was released, people wondered why the new iPhone didn't support 4G. The answer is, apparently, that it does, it just wasn't enabled in software. This new update enables 4G support under AT&T. Along with that support comes absolutely abysmal battery life. Since running the update, my phone is now a little pocket-warmer. Three hours after my phone was charged to 100% after updating, my pocket is nearly on fire and the battery is now 50%. So I went looking for a way to disable 4G. You can't. I had to disable cellular data entirely.

But wait, there's more! Does the 4S really do 4G? Nope! It just lies about it.

Which means that the battery issue is apparently a new bug, entirely unrelated to lying about 4G, since the only actual change is that the iPhone 4S claims 4G under AT&T despite the fact that it's using the same 3G connection it's always used.

Of course, iOS 5.1 also claims to contain battery-life fixes that plagued the original iPhone 4S launch. Whoops.

User Journal

Journal: THE END 8

Journal by MonTemplar

Although I stopped posting stuff here ages ago, I've had the My Amigos feed in Google Reader, and have occasionally wandered in to have a look.

But now I've decided to cut my ties here permanently. So as soon as I've posted this, I'm unsubscribing My Amigos. I've already updated my User Info with how to contact me.

To those few of you who still post here, thanks for the fun times. It's nothing personal, I just need to cut down the amount of time I spend on social networks generally.

-MT. signing off.

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser

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