March 30, 2004

More Endings!

Rachel found more endings, thus causing me to play more. Nothing happened when I used the "kiss" command, but plenty happened when I asked about the artist's memories. Here's the ending I got:

ask about remembering
You can't form your question into words.

>ask about bridge
"What bridge was that?" you ask softly, not wanting to disturb the mood she's fallen into.

She shifts, so that she is now standing in profile to you, facing the blank wall. "I don't know," she says. "There was a huge round building, crenellated like a castle, at one end, and I-- he-- was walking away from it. What he mostly noticed were the birds, and this sense of something happening, beyond human comprehension."

She falls silent and thoughtful, and then after a moment she goes on to other anecdotes: plotless, rambling, visions rather than events. And you have a sense of overwhelming strangeness -- most of all when she speaks of places that are familiar to you, of Pygmalion's adventures in your own country. Everything was a portent or an omen to him.

The effect stays with you for days, for weeks. Things catch your eye. Windows watch you, doors fly open of their own accord, trash arranges itself into inscrutable sigils. Winds trouble you. Trees stretch and touch your shoulder as you pass, but when you turn your head, they have nothing to say. And night by night you wake, tangled, with the moon on your face.

*** The End ***

Posted by Julie Young at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

Ask Galatea about love.

After playing through the IF game, "Galatea," a few times, the solution became apparent. You have to ask the statue about love. Of course, you also have to ask her about tons of other things before she'll allow that discussion. I played through it three times, and it seemed like she only opened up after much discussion of "him." "Him" was the only modifier that appeared to work in the game -- asking about Pygmalion yielded little result.

Also, you had to ask horribly invasive questions. At one point, I asked her how she was "born" (using the word "waking" works too, as does repetitive questions about sight), and she responded:

Her eyes meet yours briefly. "It was night. I had been able to hear, and see, for a long time -- it was the talking, or the pain of being carved, that made me aware, I think.

"But one night-- he slept in a corner of the studio-- I heard him screaming in his sleep. More loudly than usual. And I forgot that I couldn't move, and I just stepped down and woke him."

She gains confidence as you do not interrupt. "At the time he seemed glad to have me there, to listen to him -- though I think he thought that I was only another dream. It was only afterward that it became strange."

>ask about strange
"Strange how?"

It seems like after that, the player is allowed to ask about love. Thus, comes the solution:
"Were you in love with him?"

Her eyes meet yours briefly.

"I know I loved him," she answers. "And there was a time when I might even have said that he loved me, too. Things seemed simpler before I began to move, before I woke up. I didn't realize that you could loathe your own creation."

"So now you know. That's all there is -- my one and only secret." She smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes. "All the rest of my life's just circumstance."

A closing line if you ever heard one. You give her a nod and walk away, half your mind already on the buffet in the next room, and what you're going to say about her, in there.

*** The End ***

However, this game is supposed to have over 40 different endings. I just keep getting this one. I tried different tactics, I asked her about art, being owned, and even whether or not she had relations with "him." The only way I could solve it was to ask her about love, but only after I created some sort of rapport with her by asking other questions.

This makes me wonder -- at one point, the instructions came up and told me how to interact with her by asking her questions about her surroundings and so forth. It said, "Many standard verbs have been disabled. All the sensory ones (LOOK, LISTEN, SMELL, TOUCH, TASTE) remain, as do the NPC interaction verbs ASK, TELL, HELLO, GOODBYE, and SORRY; KISS, HUG, and ATTACK." So, perhaps I would've gotten a different result if I attempted to touch, kiss or hug Galatea. At one point, the game suggested I try to move Galatea, but I couldn't find the right combination of words to make that possible. Maybe I'll try again. Did anyone else attempt to hug Galatea?

Posted by Julie Young at 07:44 PM | Comments (2)

March 28, 2004

Missing in action...

You know you haven't been on the Internet nearly enough when you have to be told in person that there is scandal on the blogs about football. Then I learned that someone actually typed the word "rad."

My RSS feed has been failing me...or maybe I'm just getting too lazy to call it up more than once a week. Arg. Anyway....

Posted by Julie Young at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Deleting unnecessary words in IF

Until I read this presentation by Scott Adams, the first commercial computer game programmer, I hadn't realized what I found so strange about playing those types of computer games. It's the lack of words. The descriptions are sparse. This is the passage that obviously tipped me off to this fact:

Adams: I see a tree. It looks climbable. Obvious exits: N, S, E, and W.
Audience: Climb the tree.
Adams: Two words! Two words! We don't let you get away with anything here. Ok, climb tree.
I'm in the top of the tree. To the east I see a meadow. Obvious exits: Down.
Adams explains later that there wasn't much room for excess words on early computers, which is understandable. The most interesting thing about all of this isn't just dropping articles from responses -- it's dropping description.

Adams expects players to know what a tree is, what it looks like, and doesn't bother to say whether it is a pine or an oak, or if it has leaves or not. Why? Because it really doesn't matter. Most players have a form of a tree in their head anyway. The programmer has to make allowances for differences in people's forms, but overall, if one were to write "tree" or "meadow" the player will get some sort of tree or meadow in their head anyway.

This is great news for me. I'm not keen on describing things. I like to cut words out of sentences. Perfect! I ought to write text based games.

However, this weekend I played a game (Super Mario World, or something like it) on Nintendo 64, which is apparently cool because it's sort of 3-D. There was a plot behind the game somewhere, and it had something to do with finding stars and staying away from some weird shape that is apparently named Bowser. Here and there we had to do little challenges. It was bizarre. Anyway, frequently text would pop up that we were supposed to read that was probably about the story, but we hit B quickly to get rid of it.

This completely differs from IF. There, the words are the pictures, and without the words, players are faced with a black screen. Half the fun is the imaginary world that comes from describing your own tree, and not letting Nintendo do it for you. The same is true for good writing, in my opinion. A story is good when there isn't too much description, but you still get the picture, so to speak. It's the subtlety of description, and not the overload of images.

Plus, it never hurts to cut dead-weight words, in creative writing and in computer games.

Posted by Julie Young at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

Blogging Portfolio II

This half of the semester I've blogged less, yet I think I've learned more. It feels like when I post, I post something substantial -- an actual work of thought, as opposed to current event links. Even though random links are fun to post and generate good reader response, I often skimp out on commentary, and feel like I'm just filling a post-a-day quota.

Even though I generate the most comments from non-academic link posts, I also figured out a way to trick people into reading my homework. After I saw As You Like It, I blogged about it for class. However, I did it in a very light-hearted manner, so that anyone who was interested in seeing Seton Hill's production might read the entry. Two bloggers who weren't in my class posted comments about their desire to see the play. Even though they had to study As You Like It for class too, they didn't respond academically. Thus, people do read my homework for fun.

The most rewarding blog entries of late was my examination of Caliban's mirror and Computer assisted text analysis. After reading Dorian Gray, I had questions about the use of Caliban, and where the mirror came from. I used basic CATA skills to search the text of the Tempest to try to find the "mirror" passage, which is probably an interpretation of an interpretation by people who aren't reading the text closely enough. People who need CATA. Or, it might be a meme, of sorts. Anyway, it was rewarding to then do a presentation on CATA and realize that it is an actual form of scholarship, rather than just a "Julie needs to solve puzzles" compulsion.

However, I felt that my CATA blog entry was much better than my actual presentation of it. I'm not sure whether I was just tired that day or I didn't practice it enough, but my presentation felt dull. It was as if I couldn't make the class love CATA as much as I do. Either way, it was a great learning experience for me.

I've also continued to work on making my weblog fun for the non-aesthetic reader. That means a smattering of random link posts for crowd pleasers. I also still use my blog as a tool for self-reflection. I blogged about my writing burnout, and my job search. Sometimes I feel self-indulgent for journaling in my weblog, but I think that as long as I don't do it too often, my audience won't mind. Either way, it helps me think things through.

Although I don't have a theme, and can't fit into a weblog mold, my mix of career reflection, academic work and entertaining links seems to be fitting together rather well. I've been blogging less, but I feel like I've been producing more quality posts than before because I am learning about a lot of things I never considered before.

Posted by Julie Young at 12:28 AM | Comments (2)

March 16, 2004

Ode to computer games

I can't even get past level two of Tetris. I've never made it far in Super Mario Brothers. I don't even know what an x-box looks like. I am big loser when it comes to any sort of games.

But, I never really thought I was missing out. It's just one of those coordination things I haven't figured out (like two-handed piano, or ballet). However, it appears that I can have a modicum of success with games like Zork. They are more like reading a book -- a literary game, if you will, and text games like that don't care whether or not I can operate a controller.

Back in the day of the Apple IIe, I was addicted to History Mystery, a game that my elementary school had. It didn't make any sense (the instructions were lost), but my friend and I played it every computer period we could. In it, you walked through a museum after closing time (like that book about the Metropolitan Museum of Art...Donna, help me out here, I think you know the one) and tried to solve some sort of mystery. Each room was a time period, and we always got stuck on the Dark Ages room, simply because the lights were out and we couldn't make our way.

What we were missing was an inventory of "taken" objects, like in Zork. However, the game was similar in basis because it was a journey with a challenge to complete.

My only other two successfully completed computer games? That would be Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail, of course.

Clearly, I need some sort of text in my games.

Posted by Julie Young at 08:23 PM | Comments (6)

March 15, 2004

I do apologize...

It's been brought to my attention that I was much more interesting when I posted every day. Sadly, I've been on a twice a week kick because I've been horribly busy with my current obsession:

Job searching.

It started in February. I devoured want ads and online job forums. Then I started to churn out cover letters and resumes. Personalized, of course. After the resume was sent, I had to stalk the listing in order to note what day it was taken down.

I'm a woman on a mission. A mission to be the owner of full-time job by August. What types of things am I applying for? Online writing and editing, entry level PR for non-profits, and random quasi-governmental jobs of interest. At the moment, I'm targeting Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., but am willing to branch out into other areas of PA if things get sparse. Like Amish Country.

Next up? The interviews. One this week, and more to come, I hope! :)

Posted by Julie Young at 12:30 AM | Comments (4)

March 14, 2004

Liars and cheats

It's very interesting that the New York Times book review featured Jayson Blair's memoir. Since Blair is the guy who plagarized stories and caused the NY Times loads of trouble, is it surprising that they didn't like his book?

Posted by Julie Young at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2004

Setonian Column

In case you haven't read it, this edition of my column has me nuts for ripping down out-dated signs.

Posted by Julie Young at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

Two new additions... the plant world of 418 Lowe.

The most recent:

  • Pink Fittonia (pinker and prettier)
  • Rubber Plant (mine is green and much smaller)

    If I had a digital camera, I'd give you the full effect.

    Posted by Julie Young at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)
  • March 10, 2004

    Let this never happen to me

    Strange but true: Some guy proposed to his girlfriend with a special computer that he built in his parent's garage. The computer (tower, I suppose) was white with beads so it looked like a wedding cake and it had the proposal etched into the side. The bride-to-be's reaction?

    "She was fixated on the PC," Johnson said. "She was saying, 'Wow, I've never seen anything like it.' Her eyes were glued to it. She saw the inscription and said, 'Yeah.' Her other words weren't audible. It was kinda gibberish. She was muttering."
    "Wow" is about right.

    Posted by Julie Young at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

    March 09, 2004

    Computer Assisted Text Analysis

    Computer Assisted Text Analysis (CATA) is basically using technology for close readings of text. Types of CATA include:

  • Collections of texts online
  • Searchable archives of scholarly study
  • Abilty to search an online text
  • Online concordances

    Most CATA relies on what has already been written, but incorporates new methods of "searching" a text. For example, instead of paging through a novel searching for every reference to a character, one could use a CATA tool to do the searching.

    Of course, to search an online text, the text must first be online. Works that are in the public domain can be converted into an etext by just about anyone, but the big names are Project Gutenberg and Bartleby. The philosophy for these is that anyone anywhere with the Internet can easily access these books to read for fun or to do scholarly study.

    E-text users can then search within the document by using their browsers find option (ctrl F for all the shortcut fiends) if they want to look for a specific word or reference in the text.

    TACTweb 1.0 is a CATA program users can install. This type of software allows users to search on one or more words while looking for co-occurances. So, if you wanted to find a reference to "Caliban" and "mirror," that were within 10 words of each other, you could.

    TACTweb and most other search tools for texts are based on searching for "key word in context" (KWIC). This is basically how Google results are displayed. The words surrounding your search term are displayed. Thus, if you were looking for the context of a quote, you might be in luck using Google.

    However, there are specific search engines for certain texts, like Shakespeare and even certain American verse.

    A lot of the ideas behind CATA came from concordances. Online concordances allow users to do many things:

    Studies of rhyme patterns, verbal collocations, formulaic constructions, rhetorical patterns--the stylized use of words and phrases--can be readily carried out with a properly designed concordance. In addition, concordances can assist the identification and systematic study of a whole range of interrelationships between and among texts, from plagiarism to literary allusions and "echoes."
    There's even a concordance for Dorian Gray (and a bunch of other Victorians). Then there's a huge one for British Language. Literature and language folks love concordances.

    CATA is actually very useful, but I'll bet that most web users do some form of text analysis without even realizing it. For example, what do you do when you want to know who sings a song? I know I plug the annoying bit running through my head into a search engine and look for lyrics. However, it is very useful for close readings. Like close readings of the Tempest, for example...

    Posted by Julie Young at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)
  • March 05, 2004

    Articles to Ponder

    Today's web surfing was particularly successful:

  • Remember when I thought that milk was making me chubby? (Note: whole-fat chocolate summertime twice-a-day habit) I cut it out to fit back into my jeans. Then, I re-added milk to my diet, but half chocolate, half skim. Anyway, this is important because here's a scientist saying that people who don't drink milk are chubbier than those who do. Hmm.
  • Also, the answer to my common problem when studying for ballet term quizzes -- how do you record what a body position looks like? It turns out that you start schools.
  • Lastly, it doesn't pay to have one's writing called "vague, ambiguous, unintelligible, verbose and repetitive," especially when one is a lawyer.

    Posted by Julie Young at 11:14 PM | Comments (2)
  • March 02, 2004

    Caliban had a mirror?

    Wilde's preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray has me thinking, particularly this:

    The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

    The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

    What is this supposed to mean? I realize that I last read Shakespeare's Tempest two years ago, but I didn't remember a mirror. Caliban was a "monster," a slave of Prospero, who wanted to populate the island with Miranda (possibly through rape). That aside, I didn't remember Caliban looking in a glass. Thus, it must not have been literal.

    Several websites (including Sparknotes) claim that Caliban is a mirror of Ariel, the other slave. Ariel is quite fetching and has powers used for good. Therefore, her obvious mirror would be her fellow slave, the ugly one. Is that it? Caliban and Ariel are one in slavery, and thus are like Dorian Gray, the beauty, and his ugly, monsterous portrait.

    Either way, a literal reading says that the 19th century doesn't like realism because it is a reflection on their situation. Yet, they also dislike romanticism because they don't see it when they look in the mirror. So, the 19th century can't handle a true representation of themselves because realism is ugly, just like Dorian Gray couldn't stand his marred portrait. He looks at the portrait and wants it to reflect his beauty, but it doesn't. It isn't a romantic rendering. Thus, Caliban is angry because he doesn't see what he wants to see, just like Dorian Gray does not see in his portrait what he wants to see.

    Wilde had more to say about Caliban in his play, The Decay of Lying. He writes:

    To excuse themselves they will try end sheller under the shield of him who made Prospero the magician, and gave him Caliban and Ariel as his servants, who heard the Tritons blowing their horns round the coral reefs of the Enchanted Isle.... They will call upon Shakespeare--they always do--and will quote that hackneyed passage about Art holding the mirror up to Nature, forgetting that this unfortunate aphorism is deliberately said by Hamlet in order to convince the bystanders of his absolute insanity in all artmatters.
    Here, Wilde connects Caliban and Ariel, so perhaps he is speaking of their dualism. However, he also brings up the line from Hamlet(Act 3, Scene 2), where art mirrors nature, something he proved almost true in Dorian Gray. In that case, art mirrored true nature, but it wasn't a true mirror as the face looking at the painting was beautiful.

    But "Caliban's mirror" appears to mean much more. Kevin Marks, a much quoted blogger, explains the Internet to be a Caliban's mirror, meaning "What you find is what you look for." However, the people from the 19th century aren't finding what they are looking for. But, that is true, in that if look at the web with the idea in mind that it is bad, you'll certainly only see questionable material. If get online looking for good, then good sites you will find.

    But, at the very least, I do know that Wilde is referring Shakespeare's Caliban. Maybe everyone else is referring to The Sea and the Mirror by Auden.

    Anyway, the fire alarm is going off and apparently the dorm is flooding. Adios.

    Posted by Julie Young at 12:45 AM | Comments (1)