Amoeblog

>Examine text adventure - Ask will Generation Text revive the popularity of text-based adventures?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 6, 2009 02:37pm | Post a Comment
TRS-80

Like silent films, old time radio, male grooming and slide shows, the text-based game is a largely dead art form. Like the other examples, it's uniquely enjoyable and was snuffed out by its flashier, less imaginative offspring in the pursuit of realism and technology. (Don't get me wrong, I think GUIs are la mamá de Tarzán and I even crossed the security line at Xerox PARC on a nerd's tour of historic Silicon Valley to drink from the fountain where the Xerox Alto was born back in 1973.) But the quiet pleasures of text games are enjoyable in their own right and with a whole generation almost incapable of communicating through any means except texting, the text game seems ripe for a comeback.

Eamon screen shot  Zork

Instead of using graphics, text-based games use prose to tell the story. Players type specific commands to such as "go north" to play. A lot of the fun (and frustration) comes from having to type them precisely. For example, if you type "omg go north lol!!!," the computer will reply, "You used the word north in a way I don't understand." It may be frustrating at first to not punctuate every command with "lol," but once you get the hang of it, you'll find text games can be highly addictive. Besides, frustration puts hair on your chest.

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DOES CALIFORNIA'S NEW HANDHELD CELL PHONE BAN MAKE SENSE?

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2008 07:29am | Post a Comment

As you no doubt already know, today (July 1st) is the first day of a new law in California: the law banning the use of handheld wireless phones while driving. Drivers caught breaking this new law can be fined $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent times.

Note that It is okay to use cell phones with a hands-free device, such as a Blue Tooth, while talking, although both ears cannot be covered at any time. Using a handheld telephone’s speaker function is also allowed, but dialing while driving is not allowed.

And if you are under 18 then you may not use any phone (or any other electronic device, period) while driving. Below, courtesy of California's DMV, are answers to the most commonly asked questions about this new law.

But does this law actually make any sense? I think not, because a phone is a phone, and the danger to driving lies not in the type of communication device (handheld or ear-piece) that you are using but rather in the distraction of having a phone conversation while driving.

Instead of a handheld phone, a driver's hands could as easily be holding a map or an apple or a cup of coffee or adjusting the radio volume etc., rather than holding the steering wheel. The distracting thing about phone use while driving isn't so much about holding the thing in your hand, but rather how being caught up in a deep phone conversation can be so consuming that it momentarily takes your mind elsewhere and away from the road in front of you.

So I say either let everyone talk on the phone (handheld or other) while driving, or else ban car phone use altogether. And don't discriminate against under 18 year olds: treat everyone you allow to drive equally. Do you agree or disagree? Add your opinion in the "comments" box  down below the DMV's answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding this new law.

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The Growing Global Problem of E-Waste

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2008 09:00am | Post a Comment

If you are like most people, odds are that your old cell phone or old phones are sitting gathering dust in a drawer or box at your home. 

Maybe you believe that you might actually use that outdated but technically still-functional old Nokia one day again. Or maybe you never got around to transferring all the old phone numbers. Or perhaps it holds a certain sentimental value and you just can't seem to part with it.

Almost statistically as likely are the odds that you also still have an old PC or laptop sitting around the house (or garage or storage unit) as well, even though you won't be using that anymore either.  Add up all of these obsolete electronic components in every household and you have a lot of future e-waste -- something that is already a serious problem with chronic potential on global scale.

Old unused cell phones, obsolete computers, cameras, old TVs, and various other assorted outdated or busted electronic units and parts are all part of the mounting global e-waste problem since they eventually will be dumped. And e-waste, like global warming, is a very serious pending problem for the earth and its inhabitants.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that there are approximately 500 million obsolete computers with millions and millions of unwanted cell phones being retired annually. Even by 2005 the United States Geological Survey estimated that there were already half a billion old unused phones in the US. In total the USA owns approximately 3 billion electronic products with approximately 2.2 billion tons becoming e-waste annually. And most of this e-waste gets shipped to poorer countries like China, India, and Nigeria.

The problem with e-waste such as old electronics like computers and cell phones is that they are highly toxic -- made out of metals and plastics and other non-biodegradable components that are complex and hence expensive to separate. Old computers are loaded with hazardous chemicals. Mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, cobalt, zinc, chromium are among some of the toxic materials found in your average PC. And when they are dumped improperly (which is usually the case), these chemicals seep into the environment or are dumped into rivers, or more immediately poison the poor workers in third world countries who, to eek out a measly living, are contaminated by the toxins and lack of protection in their working conditions.
 
So what do we do? How and where do we get rid of our e-waste? For starters, environmentalists suggest, try not to keep buying new electronic items when you really don't need them. And then when you are finished with them, dispose of them immediately and correctly. 

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