Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Entertainment’

Is Google Plus The New Facebook?

2011-09-14 4 comments

Remember Myspace?  It wasn’t too long ago that people thought Myspace would keep growing and continue to be successful.  Facebook has since taken the position as the top social network with over 500 million active users reported in 2010 and all indications seemed to be pointing to Facebook’s continued growth and success with over 750 million active users a year later.  It’s become a household name and even grandma has a Facebook account.  Meanwhile Myspace use continues to decline and many analysts have written the company off as essentially dead.

So to some people it would seem crazy to predict the doom of Facebook.  But if there’s one company that could dethrone Facebook as king of social networking, it’s Google.

Also a household name, Google’s success was originally built on its search engine, which has become so ubiquitous that the dictionary now recognizes the name as a word, as in “I just googled a great new dinner recipe.”

However the world has seen continued innovation from the search engine giant and they’ve been massively successful with other services such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Picasa (their photo software).

But Google has had their share of failures too.  The most recognized examples are Google Buzz and Google Wave.  If you don’t even know what those two things are, you’re not alone.  Google has recognized their failure and abandoned them.  Yet Google has apparently learned a great deal from their mistakes, because they’ve finally stepped into the social-networking arena with a new service that seems poised to go toe-to-toe with Facebook:  Google Plus.

In case you haven’t heard, Google Plus (sometimes abbreviated as G+) is Google’s most recent attempt to create a social networking service, and from the looks of it, it’s no wonder many are calling Google Plus the “Facebook Killer.”

With Google Plus, Google has taken cues from both Facebook and Twitter.  While Twitter is not a direct competitor with Facebook because it fulfills a different function than Facebook, Twitter is certainly a company worth studying if you’re trying to build a successful social networking service.

So what exactly is Google Plus?  To put it bluntly, it’s like Facebook, but different.  But is it better?  Can it possibly compete with Facebook?  Why should we care?  If we already have a Facebook account, do we need a Google Plus account?

The answer is, yes.  Google Plus is almost certainly here to stay.  And while it may be possible for both Facebook and Google Plus to both be successful, anyone who doesn’t use Google Plus is going to get left in the digital dust.  Why is that?  If one already has a Facebook account, why do we need a Google Plus account?  Because Google Plus does a number of things that Facebook doesn’t, and it does them well.

The most exciting feature of Google Plus so far is the group video chat, which in G+ speak are called “Hangouts.”  As of right now, these group video chats support up to ten people, and as with everything in Google Plus, they’re absolutely free.  In other words, say goodbye to Skype.  While in a G+ Hangout, a small video of each person is displayed on the bottom of the screen, and whoever is talking is displayed in a large main video in the center.  After trying out a group video chat with friends and family, it is instantly apparent that these “Hangouts” will be both fun and useful.  In addition to just having a good time talking with friends or family, the group video chats are also amazingly useful for students who need to collaborate on an assignment or study together.  The business world has already embraced these group video chats for the same reasons giving Google Plus an instant significance for a large number of people.

The next way in which G+ triumphs over Facebook is privacy and sharing.  Many people have complained about Facebook’s privacy and sharing policies.  People end up accidentally sharing things with the wrong people or even making them public so anyone can see.  This includes messages, photos, videos, and anything else you might want to share with people.  Google Plus addresses this problem with a concept called “Circles.” Once you have a G+ account, you can add other people to your Circles.  For example, you might have a circle labeled “Friends,” another “Family,” “Coworkers,” “Acquaintances,” etc.  Any time you say or share something, you can easily decide who gets to see it.  That makes it much easier to prevent you from accidentally making things visible to the wrong people, which as many people know can be very bad.

As of this writing, Google Plus is still in its “testing” phase, meaning that in order to sign up for an account, you need to be invited by someone with an account.  Google is doing it this way because they want to work all the kinks out of G+ and have a smooth service before they “officially” release it to the public.   Update: Google Plus is now officially open to the public and anyone can sign up.

So go out there and give Google Plus a try.  Because it’s extremely fun, useful, and it’s here to stay.

P.S. I’m a writer for The Corsair Newspaper and you can read my article on The Corsair website (albeit an edited-down version):  http://www.thecorsaironline.com/opinion/2011/09/14/google-plus-takes-facebook-to-the-ring/

Advertisements

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).

%d bloggers like this: