November 2008 Archives

If at first you don't succeed...

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Well, I can safely say that I learned something new in my class today when we performed Alpha tests on each other's Term Projects. I was really impressed with Chelsea Oliver's website that's all about her summer camp/job. Despite the fact that I don't mind coding websites, I think I'd pull my hair out for the deadline of this semester's Term Project, if only because of everything else I have going on.

So to that effect, I chose to create an Interacitve Fiction game (IF game). I have to say that I received some great input from Dave Wilbanks. He's also coding an IF game for his project, but he's coming into it with previous outside experience. And boy has it helped me!

Dave helped point out a spelling mistake (that I chalk up to coding at 1:30 am. after telling myself "Just one more line of code!"), managed to get a statue appear as if from thin air, coded a door for an additional puzzle, as well as give me inspiration for more descriptional fodder. I'd be in pretty deep if it were'nt for his help today. I guess I just need to keep on coding!

Progress Makes Perfect


Term Progress Report:

I decided to create an interactive fiction game (IF games) for my class term project this semester. I'll whole-heartedly admit that I've been able to play only a few IF games as of late due to a rather hectic schedule and whatnot. To that end, I plan to do the best that I'm able to in order to fashion a likable (playable) game.

I plan to model my game after the exploration portion of the game Worlds Apart. This game absolutely fascinated me when I was traveling through the various landscapes! One of the opening lines in the game that captivated my imagination was, "As you look out to sea, the cold glitter of the stars seems to turn the water to quicksilver, and indeed, the sand where you lie is dry as dust, and the waves crash over you without leaving a drop of moisture on your body. All else around you is shrouded in mist--your eyes cannot penetrate it to see if there is even solid ground beyond this patch of land."

Another game that has inspired me to create my own IF game is Firebird. I have to write that I really liked the whole fairy tale atmosphere (I'm into that). The puzzles were also interesting because I didn't think that they were too hard and kinda neat to solve once I managed to put the clues together.

This was one of the simpler puzzles that I'd like to somehow model in my own game. "'Master, as you remember, your father's instructions were not to serve you dinner until you brought back your kill.' You silently recall the circumstances under which these instructions were given. Your father has found you insufficiently motivated to improve your hunting skills and would prefer your starvation if you do not start landing some game." You really just need to go chase down some bird in the forest and kill it; bring it back to camp; and hand it over to the cook. An awful lotta trouble for something you'd think a Prince could just order for. Then again, let's wait till you're king!

Story line:
I've only got a rough plot sketched out at the moment, but that's soon to be improved, no worries! It all starts out in a dream-like manner (or surreal if you prefer) in a courtyard. There's only a single path to follow that inevitably leads you to a circular room connected to three or four other rooms. Three or two rooms will hold items that you need to obtain in order to open the last door.

Once you have all of the items and open the last door, there will a table or something supporting three drinks. After choosing one of these drinks you will experience one of the multiple endings. I know it's ambitious, but I'm probably making it sound better than it's going to be.

Anyhoo, keep me in mind for puzzle ideas/how to code puzzles and whatnot and be sure to check out my classmates projects as well!

My how time flies...

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Well, time just seems to fly by here in La La land (whether you're sick or not)! All of the subsequent blogs below were written for my class: Writing for the Internet. (Just so's ya know.) I've learned quite a bit since the last time you might have seen one of my portfolios, so take some time and scroll on through. You really never know whatcha might find!

Coverage: And no, I don't mean like those skimpy bathing suits you may see (or want to see) when you go to the beach. This is full length, itchy wool sweater coverage.

Find ______, then prove it.
Insistence and Intentions: flip sides of a coin

Timeliness: I can completely understand it if your watch is a little slow or a little bit fast, but check out Verizon. I hear their's is the most accurate around!

History's Flows of Buzzling Puzzling
Mythical Universal Idiosyncrasies

Interaction: Hey, at least we keep it G rated here. I don't even wanna think about what goes on elsewhere. They might even type Shut UP! in their comments! *gasp*

We don't mess with the Space/Time Continuum for a reason!
What's good is bad and what's bad is good by Jacquelyn Johns

Depth: It's not the depth of a cement pond either.

Billboard Drive-bys
Users, Freakers, Losers, Drivers...

Discussion: Yes, you can go and talk to your dog, Buddy.

Content without solidified mandates
Code is the basis of all things!

Now then, go check out what my classmates had to say...

Change is the only constant

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I added additional information to the Wikipedia entry Noir, the anime or cartoon show from Japan. So far, my content still stands in the plot section of the page.

I'll admit that it's been awhile since I'd watched some of the episodes, but I think my general knowledge served to enhance the entry. I do wish that could have added more information, but my head's way too full with other facts and focused on roughly three research papers, so it's not hard to believe that the information that I used to have on Noir was deleted in order to make room for some more important things!

Code is the basis of all things!

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Really, it is. When I was looking at the Wikipdedia entry of the PlayStation 2 game Final Fantasy X, I found exactly what I would: a whole bunch of information on the game. However, when I clicked on the link available to edit the page, I was surprised by the amount of code used behind the scenes. It actually seems pretty complicated to me in some places. Whoa! So many parentheses and brackets!

I guess this really just goes to show that no matter where you go or what you do, everything on the internet is based on the same code. I did find it surprising that the editing window provided editors-to-be with several different help buttons at the top of the editing area. This is a wonderful idea! It's just like a word processor nowadays with the many helpful toolbars at the top of the page (or wherever you want to put them).

Next, I took a gander at Wikipedia's entries concerning Seton Hill University (SHU) and St. Vincent College (SVC). They both have a few strengths in my mind:

  • the pages are relatively short = less scrolling for users

  • and both entries offer users numerous links from which to better connect them with more specialized or specific information

However, both entries do have a few downfalls:

  • SHU: The Contents box that offers links to information later on in the entry is located in the middle of the entry, not the top where it might be more useful.
  • SHU: There are links that could be added to further direct readers looking for more information concerning SHU's National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, which has its own website.
  • SVC: The entry is actually quite short. It may offer information, but it could feasibly possess more to better inform readers.

After looking at the history pages of each of the articles, I do have to commend editors for updating the entries at least once a month. Not all of the edits may have been shout worthy, but if it contributes well to the over-all entry, then I think they did well. Then again, if you look up the discussion pages for SHU and SVC, they are radically different. SVC's o considerably longer than SHU's because of the various Wiki-projects that pertain to SVC's article. SHU's discussion page is only under three or so WIki-projects.

Content without solidified mandates

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"Wikipedia has a code of conduct....Wikipedia does not have firm rules" - Wikipedia: Five Pillars

Anyone else find this funny? How is it possible to have a firm code of conduct without firm rules? And they wonder why trolls find it so enjoyable to mess with their articles and create general havoc. You don't even have to be a regular troll to do it either!

The code of conduct basically wants everyone to play nice (which is really just a way of saying "fight nice" to me) and get along, even when you don't agree. Okay, that's the public veneer of politics. But Wikipedia doesn't have steadfast rules for its "editors" to follow. People are flying by the seat of their pants on the rules issue. Maybe this incongruity is simply to draw in the average Jo and make him feel as if he's contributing?

So easy see? Now, run along kiddies and spawn Wikipedia editors!

Exclamating Disclaimers (with own definitions of course)

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"Category:Wikipedia official policy: policies that are widely accepted and that everyone is expected to follow.

Category:Wikipedia guidelines: less rigid rules of thumb that are generally accepted by consensus to apply in many cases." - Wikipedia: Key policies and guidelines

Here we go again. When I read the above quote, I couldn't help but think, "Soooo, society's general acceptances rule Wikpedia...but we really can do anything we want. Oh look! Here come all the trolls like terrible two year-olds running for a candy shop!"

One may take the first rule as a general covering of everything beneath the Wikipedia name while the second focuses on only in a large amount of cases. What I'm wondering is this: Does the official policy actually differ in any way from the guidelines? Is Wikipedia trying to present itself in a better light than it is actually capable of achieving at this very moment? I think yes on both counts, at least for now. Talk about trying to confuse the random person who doesn't use Wikipedia that often. (Sorry, I'm way too busy these days.) It would probably just be simpler if Wikipedia made one policy and did their darned best to have people conform to it. Allowing for numerous variations, no matter how small, eventually lead to reader frustration and a lowered readability and usability.

As a little side note though, that I really think that you should check out, is the fact that for each of Wikipedia's Key Policies it gives a definition created by Wikipedia. Wow. Talk about making sure that there's no difference between what you want your readers to believe is true and what you think is true (if only by your own definition). Everyone's got a different interpretation on something, no matter where they are in the world.

Fluctuating know-how yet publicly moored

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"Since Wikipedia is constantly undergoing revisions, it is too unstable to cite; what you read and verified today might be gone tomorrow-or even in an hour." - Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respectable Academic Source? by Lisa Spiro

The only constant is change it seems. What society accepts as true today may be false tomorrow and what is good tomorrow may be bad today. Spiro makes the point that Wikipedia is unstable because of its ever changing wealth of information, and the fact that this information isn't always the most accurate. Kinda makes the site sound like a volcano that's just waitin' to blow. However, the shakiness is there all the same.

Personally, I prefer to use Wikipedia to search out other academic sources that might be more reliable, such as published books and articles. That being written, I have no problem using Wikipedia to define terms or events that I'm simply curious about or including it in blogs to help my readers understand a concept a bit more. Wikipedia has a lot of potential to become a great online academic resource, but until the day when only "experts" can edit pages or provide content for it, I very much doubt that it'll be 100% believable.

Who knows? Times are a' changin' and no one can say for sure what'll happen.

Convictions, expectations, perfections, and verisimilitudes

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"One is that Seigenthaler should have corrected the entry himself, and the other is that no source of authority can be trusted 'definitively.'" - There's no Wikipedia entry for 'moral responsibility' by Andrew Orlowski

So, basically what we've got is an issue of responsibilty. (At least it seems to me.) Instead of creating an uproar, Sheigenthaler could have attempted to change the false information himself. Yes, in a way it wasn't his responsibilty to change the wrong information, but did he really have the expectation that a major web site like Wikipedia to simply change info because it was wrong or he told it to? In today's world it almost seems to me that you need to try and protect your name as best as you're able. You can't always count on someone else to fix a problem or incorrect information.

And that leads me to the second quote of this bolg: "The first, and the most immediately absurd of these two defenses, is that since nothing at all can be trusted, er, "definitively", then Wikipedia can't be trusted either. This is curious, to say the least, as it points everyone's expectations firmly downwards." Now, I fully realize that you probably think me to an incourageable downer and pessimist after using this last quote. Well, not really. Everyone has a pessimist inside of them, but this blog really points out my own individual paranoia and insecurities than actual pessimism. I always try to look on the brightside things, I just attempt to plan for most everything that can go wrong. (And that's a major chore in and of itself sometimes!) But I degress.

Everything that you hear, read, write, watch, etc. has an angle attached to it. It may be as small as possible, but it was produced by someone and everyone has biases. Just mull over that for a bit and you might find a couple of your own. No one is infallible by any measure. Thus, nothing can be completely right or, perhaps, completely wrong. So, it's pretty easy to say that nothing can be definitively trusted. After all, as my professor, Dr. Jerz, likes to tell his newswriting classes, "If your mother says she loves you, verify it."

Insistence and Intentions: flip sides of a coin

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"There is almost always a good idea (or at least not-so-awful) intention lurking behind insistence on a bad design idea. Trying to understand that good intention is often the best way to figure out how to make your case for a different approach." pg. 185 - Krug, Don't Make Me Think

Everywhere you look, there's some form of politics. (This seems to be the best example with it being on the eve of a historical presidential election!) Everyone has differing opinions on different topics. Sometimes we have to concede our points to others, and sometimes others concede their points to ours. Its a give and take relationship.

However, you should always wish to understand the other side's proposed actions. Simply shooting down an idea because its not your own will only garner enemies and increasing resentment. If you seek to explain yourself coherently and as politely as possible, then perhaps both ideas could be meshed to come together. I realize that this is by no means an easy task. (Just take a look at this election and some of the opposing ideas!) Anyways, politics exists in almost every aspect of life, whether fortunately or unfortunately.

Just try to keep Krug's advice in mind when listening to other's website design ideas. You can think, Are you serious?! That idea'll run us into the ground! But you'll actually say, "Well, this, this, and this, look to be really good, but could we maybe take this aspect out and incorporate this other idea?" Fight nice kiddies!