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Category: Computers & Programming
Comments and thoughts on computing and programming, on technological trends and new hardware and software, based on my 37 years of active computer use, including reviewing and writing about it for national and international media.
Way back in 1990, a program called Fractal Painter was published by Fractal Design. It offered a “natural media” approach to digital art: mimicking real world art tools and media in the digital environment. You could – if you had more artistic skills than I – make an image onscreen that looked like it was a photo of a real-media image. Images had texture, oils had highlights. You could mix colours like you do in real life. It was brilliant, exciting and … click below for more!
About an hour after I started playing Minecraft for the very first time, I died. As game experiences goes, that sucked. Not exactly a “thanks for your purchase” ingame welcoming message from Mojang Not that I’m unaccustomed to dying. In most computer games I’ve died: Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft, Ghost Recon, Diablo, Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, even in Civilization. Dying is part of gaming.* But most of the time, I know why. Sure, I … click below for more!
Sometime in the next two weeks, I will be amalgamating servers for the several sites I manage and conflating them onto one, new and (I hope) faster and more efficient server. There may be some downtime while the files and databases migrate, like virtual birds, to their new home. I hope that the digital gods of server migration allow my moves to go smoothly. I would sacrifice a virtual dove to propitiate them, if I could only find their virtual … click below for more!
After two years away from the game, I was recently convinced by a friend to return to World of Warcraft again and play in the fantasy universe of WOW. At 10 years old, WOW remains the biggest, most-subscribed, most popular MMORPG, with around 10 million subscribers. By technology’s rapid-aging standards, WOW is a grandfather game; maybe even a great-grandfather. It has certainly spawned a lot of offspring, although not all are legitimate. I started playing WOW back in 2005. although I … click below for more!
I suppose you could call it ironic. There was a story from a ‘friend’ on my Facebook news feed today called “Quitting the Like” all about escaping Facebook’s data collection processes by simply not “liking” items or comments you see. Right below this ostensibly anti-Facebook story were three related links produced by one of the Facebook data-collection bots all about the same thing: breaking free from Facebook’s data mining. I suspect the FB programmers hadn’t planned it that way. But … click below for more!
Banished is a medieval-style city building game, along the lines of SimCity, but with several significant differences. While not as slick or comprehensive as SimCity, it still provides a compelling, addictive gameplay.* It’s slow and cerebral, true, not your basic action-filled RPG or FPS, but it’s one of those games that demand ‘just another fifteen minutes’ that easily stretch into the wee hours. And with infinitely variable maps and a wide range of community-made mods that enhance and change the … click below for more!
The full name of an article I read today is, “The Fallacy of Online Surveys: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data.” It’s from 2010 and very good. You can find it on the Responsive Management website. It makes some key points about the invalidity of online surveys: For a study to be unbiased, every member of the population under study must have an equal chance of participating. When online surveys are accessible to anyone who visits a website, the researcher … click below for more!
A recent poll done by Pew Research reiterated what I’ve been saying for the past two years: social media (SM) doesn’t necessary facilitate social debate and in fact may be stifling it. Discussion on many SM platforms tends to reinforce existing beliefs because in general only those who feel their beliefs are shared by their circle of “friends” or followers will express them. It’s called the “spiral of silence.” The Pew report noted: …social media did not provide new forums for … click below for more!
I’ve been building websites since the early 1990s, and have had my own websites continually since 1995. For a few years, I did website design and analysis for commercial clients – mostly small local businesses. I even taught web design at a local adult learning centre for a couple of years. Way back when the Net was relatively new, I even did some pages for local events. Although I do less coding today, mostly for my own use, I still have an interest in … click below for more!
Tanks are a long distance weapon, you know. They are best used in concert with one another to provide cover and overwatch fire, and are best placed in a covered or hull-down position where their profile is reduced to the minimum. Tanks should never travel alone; they should always advance with supporting vehicles on their flanks. That’s pretty much what I said to my teammates that Saturday morning. However, I may have typed it a little more tersely. Something like, “%#$&@ … click below for more!
I tried to resist. I really did. I avoided it for more than a year, skillfully averting my eyes from the store shelves where it sat, ignoring the emails with invitations, sales offers that dangled newly-released DLC packages before me. I looked the other way when ads popped on on websites. I have more serious things to do, I’d tell myself. Getting too old for games, I’d mutter under my breath. I have better things to do with my time. … click below for more!
A recent article on Gizmodo shows off some previously unseen (or perhaps just forgotten) footage of a young Steve Jobs unveiling the Macintosh computer, back on January 30, 1984. Thirty years ago, this week. Seems like forever ago. But I remember it, and reasonably well. I remember where I was living then, what I was working on, and who I was with (I’m still with her…) The video clip also includes the famous Orwellian “1984” TV ad Apple used to … click below for more!
There’s a story on ipolitics that in part echoes my own thoughts about media and responsibility. Yet the author draws different conclusions than I believe I would have, were I still in the media. It’s called “Paul Calandra and the tale of the naked senator” and it’s written by Paul Adams. Worth reading regardless of whether you agree or not. Adams writes about the quandary many reporters and editors find themselves in: trying to define the boundary between public interest … click below for more!
I spent a busy weekend copying posts from my previous blog (hundreds of posts, currently archived on another server awaiting my resolution) onto my hard drive. I plan to resurrect some of these posts – maybe with a bit of updating or editing – in a WordPress archive site here so I can keep them alive in that digital manner the Net provides. But first I have to sort through a lot of old material. A lot. And the corruption … click below for more!