Archive for July, 2009

Playing around with the Pentatonic Scale

I was checking out Skepchick’s blog, (primarily to see what all the hub-bub about the skepchick calendar was about and to preorder my skepdude calendar for Myles come next Xmas) and came upon this video.  The performer in this video remarks at the end that no matter where he performs this act, every audience uses the pentatonic scale.  This seemed odd to me, as the majority of Arab songs are written in the “eastern scale”.  When I was in Morocco, every song used this Eastern or Persian scale; songs on the radio, snake charmers, even people whistling as they walked down the street.  I guess they are raised to hear that scale and hold a preference towards it, but perhaps if the beginning of a pentatonic scale is played, the mind will deduce how the rest of the scale is formed.

I don’t know if I embedded the video correctly, so here’s a link

Update: embedded. -JayAaroBe

How to display your name properly

If you want your username to appear with the proper capitalization (e.g. JayAaroBe instead of jayaarobe), here’s how you do it:

Once logged in, notice the admin bar going across the top of the page.  Point your mouse to the admin bar’s top-left section where it says “My Account.”  Then click on “Edit Profile.”

Now scroll down and find the box that says “Nickname (required)” and type your name in as you want it to appear.

Now scroll all the way to the bottom and click “Update Profile.”  Done!

Categories: Admin, Site Tags: , , , ,

Why does the site look different?

You may notice the overall look of the site change several times.  This is because I’m experimenting with the best “theme.”  I’ve narrowed the list of themes down to those which display the author’s name for each article posted (which is important on a multi-author site).

My goal is to decide on one soon and stick with it because I think it’s important for the site’s look to remain at least somewhat consistent.  Feel free to make suggestions.

Yes, but what have Video Games Done for You?

2009-07-25 21 comments

Today, a conversation I had with a comrade (22) at my work  ignited me to ponder a career path which I imagine, if followed, could lead someone like me, in fact, me to an Arnold Schwarzenegger style c[u]ming all the time lifestyle. All of  sudden I was metaphorically grabbed in the lower cajones region and forced to dwell on all that time and money I spent on Education and Video Games (not after turning to the side to cough, embarrassingly hoping that my semi might pass for a generous flaccid).

Bien sûr, this brain wave doesn’t involve a spin-off from something we were nominally employed to do, no siree to The Bobs! (See what I did there: Olde timey saying mixed with an Office Space reference! … I really have to get some of my lower ribs removed.) My work is at a large evil medical device company which makes large evil life saving products but we were scheming up large evil ‘serious games’ to combat the void left by the large evil K-12 education system. That includes you Kindergarten Cop!  Dective John Kimble played by a cu[nn]ing Arnold Scwharzenegger and even your teacher-turned-cop partner Phoebe O’Hara.

Yes, that ‘Serious Game’ term is new to me too, I came (hehe) across it while I was researching: the barriers to entry…, more positive; the lay of the land…, more directed: my potential mode of attack into the video game industry. Speaking to my fellow chronically-under-stimulated-Compañero-de-Trabajo, I brought up my vision of a video game that is equal parts entertainment and equal parts science information, I was thinking knowledge of the human brain (maybe the immune system?). Not only was he interested but he was, as was I, practically foaming at the mouth at the thought of how stimulating that would be.

Understandably, this might not sound that novel but think about the current tradeoff curve for the industry, go ahead, plot “y=-ln(x)+2”and imagine the y-axis is the Learning Quotient and the x-axis is the Gameplay. It’s steep! Can you think back and verify this? You can either learn or have fun, but the learning will be about as fun as your class in high school, minus being high. Notice that if you take the xmax and ymax out to 10 you can see the curve fall below 0. They are so fun people get dumber from the games! Wohoo!! Here I come Calypso!

So much precious youthful brainpower goes into learning facts like, “The largest Tauren tribe, the Bloodhoof Tauren, reside on the top of a cluster of tall mesas known as Thunder Bluff, in the grasslands of Mulgore.”  That’s fucking great! Thank you Blizzard Entertainment! Maybe Michael Jackson and I will go vist them one day!! (Your mom’s “too soon.”) To be clear, I don’t condemn the exercise of creating fantastic fictional universes, but as a man of science I hate to see a good mind maneuver its host into a career at Best Buy or worse yet a Psychology Major because, “OMG! I love it, and I it’s really great because I feel like, you could do anything with it.” Building that deeper intuitive understanding is what so many people spend so much time studying to get, and if you could just put that in the form of a video game (which is a natural fit as I see it) … or a supository

As I now understand it, the role that me and homeslice from work were pinning for is the Game Designer (look at the Roles).

Anyways, I would not divulge how I would start to make my dream a reality and my reality a dream (as Arnold [Cumings] did) but a big part of my point (hehehe) is that it is not everyday you find a job that simultaneously calls upon all of your aptitudes, not if you have a lot of them, and if you hold them dear, especially the creative and the spatial ones. Take now (as I write this), for instance: I get to be random and self referential. This is fun. I get to connect with people but still work independently, use logical reasoning skills, call upon my memory. Awesome. But is my right hemisphere really being utilized? That big ganglia might try to make himself known as I add colons and parenthesis and brackets and italics; as I insert hyperlinks and graphs; banging on the inner walls of my skull like Trick or Treaters locked in the basement. But let’s face it kids, at the moment, there’s no getting out.

I want to make a game that pushes the trade-off curve to the right and puts it right at the 50-50 point, where y=x. Not to say that there are no games like this in existence. Par exemple:

This one is not that much learning and not that much fun but it’s equal parts both.Granted, it’s only learning if you believe in that evolution stuff.

This one was created by a Harvard/ Stanford Business Professor and I’m told it’s legit. Looks like Sim City.

The kind of stuff people in that industry know is not easy, “most job solicitations for game programmers specify a bachelor’s degree (in mathematics, physics, computer science, ‘or equivalent experience’).” I’m taking a class right now, Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics and that shit is not to be taken lightly, even by an Asian. But a game designer does not need to be a programmer. I have no idea what it would take to get a hold of those kind of resources but I relish the thought. (Hmmmm, r-r-relish, aghrghghhhhh).

Let’s get this party started.

Everyone should try out Linux (the operating system) at some point.

Screenshot of Xubuntu with Firefox running.

Screenshot of Xubuntu with Firefox running.

For those who are unaware, Linux is the operating system (OS) of choice for heaving duty IT work, tech savvy people, and anyone who needs reliability and security.

I recently installed Linux on my secondary laptop, specifically the version of Linux called Xubuntu (pronounced ex-ooh-boon-too).  It’s lightweight & fast, has everything you need, it’s interface is similar to that of Windows so it’ll be very familiar to you, plus it’s free!

You can even test it out on your Windows computer without installing it;  it has a mode where you can try it out; it temporarily runs itself side-by-side by Windows without messing up your Windows installation in any way.  When you’re done, you simply reboot and there’s no record of Linux having ever been on your computer.

Try it with one click: Wubi is a program that will download and run it for you.  Once it’s installing, I recommend selecting Xubuntu (it’s more lightweight and faster than Ubuntu or Kubuntu; but basically all 3 are pretty much the same version of Linux).

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