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Comment: Re:Sounds like bad methology (Score 2) 78

Good question about the codec, they took that into account somewhat by including a dataset that used a codec with only intra-frames (I imagine this was MJPEG).

From section 3.3:

We also filmed a small number of video clips using a camera which could record in a video codec which used only intra-frame, rather than inter-frame coding, meaning that there was no possibility of compression artefacts holding any time-direction information. This dataset comprises 13 HD videos of tennis balls being rolled along a floor and colliding with other rolling or static balls.

The algorithms tested did well on this dataset as well, 12/13 classified correctly.

Comment: Re:learn anything through games (Score 1) 220

by mrbobjoe (#38015486) Attached to: A Cognitive Teardown of Angry Birds

I'm also very interested in programming games. So far I haven't found any that are exactly what I want, but there are some enjoyable ones.

I used to do programming contests in college, while I enjoyed these I always felt like I wasn't learning enough. They're designed so that you'd need a very good team and lots of outside training. It isn't nearly as much fun outside of real (or even practice) competition, but you can find big banks of problems and an online judge if you want to play along. TopCoder is similar and much easier to participate in, but again its focus is on competition, not education (though maybe that's changed?).

The closest I've seen in video games are those by Zachtronics Industries, they all deal in some way with engineering design. SpaceChem in particular is quite programming-like (as explored here) and has a great difficulty progression. Kohctpyktop is an integrated circuit design puzzle with a strong test driven development bent, though if I hadn't already studied EE it would probably be prohibitively difficult.

There's also pleasingfungus' Manufactoria, which has a lot of CS (stack machine) stuff in it and a great sense of progression.

A lot of these attempts tend to be directed at kids; the old Rocky's Boots was one of the first steps in this direction, with logic gates and simple circuits. I didn't find it very good, but ToonTalk is an ambitious visual programming environment and game-like tutorial rooted in SmallTalk semantics.

Cort Stratton wrote a post in September called The Games Programmers Play, which covers this topic well. The comments here on Slashdot and on Gamasutra suggest some more such games.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about designing "games for learning programming", I've written somewhat more extensively about it on my blog. I hope you find some of these suggestions interesting, sorry for the linkstorm.

Comment: SimLife (Score 1) 400

by mrbobjoe (#31943338) Attached to: Ubisoft Says No More Game Manuals
The SimLife manual was my introduction to evolution. Appropriate for a simulation, it included a lab book with suggested experiments to run and space to record and analyze the results. The main manual was over 200 pages and went into significant detail not just about the game (which was ridiculously complex) but about genetics in general, and also included a bizarre series of cartoons wherein a family gradually mutates themselves. SimEarth was similar with its coverage of Gaia theory, though I never really could get into that game. Relatedly, I've spent more time reading AD&D manuals than playing.

But I'm the kind of person who enjoys reading manuals anyway. Netscape's heartwarming introduction was delightfully cheesy.

Comment: Re:It has limits (Score 1) 502

by mrbobjoe (#31269120) Attached to: Triumph of the Cyborg Composer

If you just translate those rules to computer code, then anything it makes will sound good. What it cannot create is real creativity. There are some composers such as Wagner, Mahler and Stravinsky who chose to break those rules. Their music doesn't sound pretty, but it is very enjoyable and it obeys enough of those rules to sound good. In short, we'll never see a computer compose something like the rite of spring.

From the article:

Cope wrestled with the problem for months, almost giving up several times. And then one day, on the way to the drug store, Cope remembered that Bach wasn't a machine -- once in a while, he broke his rules for the sake of aesthetics. The program didn't break any rules; Cope hadn't asked it to. The best way to replicate Bach's process was for the software to derive his rules -- both the standard techniques and the behavior of breaking them.

It sounds like "know the rules and how they are broken" was in fact the essence of this approach.

Comment: Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (Score 1) 944

by mrbobjoe (#29853087) Attached to: When Libertarians Attack Free Software

It could be possible for one company to own 100% of the resources. It would take quite a bit of money to buy 100% of any product, but I guess it can't be discounted.

At that point isn't the company the whole society, especially considering workers as a resource? It sounds like talking about thermodynamics, and saying "but there is no true closed system, with the exception of the entire universe."

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