27.6.08

LOLing: I'm a Marvel / I'm a DC (Iron Man / Batman)

I've mentioned this series before but I hadn't seen this one and it's worth a look.

26.6.08

LOLing: World of Workcraft

Apparently in my ignorance or jealousy or something, I've been making a number of disparaging remarks about World of Warcraft recently.

In the interest of restoring the balance (or perhaps further taking the piss), I present - World of Workcraft - the game WoW characters play after a hard day of killing dragons and whatnot.

25.6.08

Enjoying: Snarky Amazon comments about a $500 audio cable



The Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable is a 1.5 metre cable designed for digital audio.

Advertising for the cable lists these features:

* Dedicated DENON LINK cable made of high-purity copper wire
* Get the purest signal from multi-channel DVD and CD playback through Denon receiver
* Connector and cable structure designed to thoroughly eliminate adverse effects from vibration
* Rounded plug lever on connector to prevent bending or breaking
* Measures 1.5 meters long (59 inches)


It costs $US 499.

Not surprisingly, this has somewhat amused the knowledgeable nerd community, who believe that it is no different from a $US 5 dollar CAT networking cable and have bombarded the product review section of Amazon.com with some hilarious snark.

A caution to people buying these: if you do not follow the "directional markings" on the cables, your music will play backwards. Please check that before mentioning it in your reviews.


After I took delivery of my $500 Denon AKDL1 Cat-5 uber-cable, Al Gore was mysteriously drawn to my home, where he pronounced that Global Warming had been suspended in my vicinity.

Yes, I had perfect weather: no flooding, no tornadoes, the exact amount of rain necessary, and he pronounced sea levels exactly right and that they were not going to rise within five miles of my house.

Additionally, my cars began achieving 200 mpg and I didn't even need gasoline. I was able to put three grams of cat litter into the tank and drive forever.



Ooh - looks like Denon didn't like the feedback they were getting - and the fact that they have been made a laughing stock by the geekistocracy. The site and all the reviews appear to have been pulled from Amazon as I was collecting quotes.

Oh well.

24.6.08

Enjoying: Requiem for a day off

What do you get when you cross the teen hi-jinks of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the grim descent into junky hell of Requiem for a Dream. A grim descent into teen hijinks? Maybe, just with less hijinks. (That Requiem for a Dream - great film as it is - can bring anything down.)

This very nicely cut together mash-up trailer from Benjifilms shows you how.

23.6.08

Enjoying: A Prisoner's Dilemma



A Prisoner's Dilemma is perhaps the most engaging piece of theatre I've been to since I saw David Mamet's Speed the Plough. I saw Speed the Plough maybe 15 years ago and it has this amazing moment right near the end which hinges on one decision that one of the characters has to make. The pause while the character is waiting to tell the others what he is going to do is just nail-biting.

A Prisoner's Dilemma revolves largely around decision making as it is a pretty thorough investigation of Game Theory. (According to Wikipedia - Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual's success in making choices depends on the choices of others.)

In essence it boils down to cooperation, trust, selfishness and betrayal.

It frames a series of short discussions and examples of practical applications of Game Theory inside one of the classic Game Theory scenarios, the Prisoners Dilemma.

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal: if one testifies ("defects") for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must make the choice of whether to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?
(Wikipedia)

The play sees the prisoners in their cells between a series of these interrogations, discussing a range of ethical problems related to game theory and playing games (such as rock/paper/scissors) to pass the time. Where this play really kicks things up a notch is that most of these discussions then have a heavily interactive element, with members of the audience called upon to make the decisions that are the basis of these problems.

This is done in a very (computer) game like manner, either using a torch (with blue and red cellophane squares) as a sort of mouse cursor for a basic point and click adventure game puzzle, remote controls to move the actors around the stage, joystick controllers to determine player/actor actions in a poisoning game or the simpler action of drawing stones from a bowl.(Or choosing not to)

Not surprisingly, this was right up my alley having been swimming around in game design theory for the last few months and it was an incredibly effective way of making the audience a significant part of the show.

As a show itself, it was simply but well staged - it made use of some really interesting trombone generated electronic music and the performances were strong. The performers were also quick enough on their feet to accommodate the unpredictable audience actions (even though decisions tended to be either/or scenarios).

Sadly the season has finished in Canberra but if you get the chance to see it, do.
Interestingly, they tour it as an educational piece and take it to maths nerd conferences a lot as well.

They also track the decisions made in each show and post the stats on their website, which is just so nerdy is has to be cool.