MMOGs: we grind because we love it

Grinding: all massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) have it. Some more than others, but it is always there. Go forth and slay 50 rats. Collect 10 copper pieces, 32 rat pelts, 19 rat tails. Turn in same. Repeat 245 times. Graduate to killing skeletons. Repeat 895 times. Ding! You leveled! Now go forth and slay 2,655 ghouls…. It is like factory work, but without the pay cheque. In fact, we actually pay someone else for the privilege of doing this, and call it “entertainment”.

You’d think we’d hate it, that these types of games would never catch on, yet tens of millions of players log in every day, strap on their virtual swords, and head out to slay another few thousand denizens of the countryside in pursuit of the elusive level. Every new massively multiplayer online game that comes out perpetuates the grinding “feature”. It is weird, doubly so because I seem to be afflicted by the same behavioral quirk as all the millions of people playing MMOGs. There has to be some reason why…

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A truly inspiring use of technology

I love advanced technology, sometimes purely for its own sake. But for me the best thing about technology is when it allows us to do neat or interesting things that were basically inconceivable before. The world wide web, for example. The human genome project. Cellular telephones. Satellite TV. And so on…

But it isn’t very often that technology does something so amazing that it brings tears to my eyes. That is the case with this story I came across on Gizmodo. You can watch this video to see what I mean:

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Gartner “fellow” predicts mouse to be replaced by Wiimote and touch screen- FAIL

That mouse you use every day will be completely gone in five years. It will be entirely replaced by touch screen displays, facial recognition, and Wii-mote like devices that you wave around in the air. This is according to the predictive genius of some guy who works at Gartner and probably makes ten times as much as I do each year. Oh, and his full time job is making predictions about the future of technology.

For the record, the guy’s name is Steven Prentice– if he comes knocking at your door asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars for his predictive expertise, you might want to have some second thoughts. And maybe some third or fourth thoughts as well. Perhaps his quote was taken out of context: possibly he wasn’t saying mice and keyboards would be displaced on existing devices, but rather that for tiny or specialized devices like phones and PDAs we wouldn’t use mice and keyboards. If that’s what he meant, well, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding- be more clear next time, Mr. Prentice.

But I’ll be perfectly clear and as concise as possible- if he honestly believes that the mouse will be completely gone as an input control device within five years on desktop/workspace computers, and particularly if he thinks it will be replaced by touch screen and motion sensitive devices that we wave around in the air, he is going to be proven both completely wrong and astoundingly ignorant.

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Star Trek Experience closing… what’s the point of Vegas now?

I was reading a news item the other day indicating that the Las Vegas Hilton is closing the Star Trek Experience in Vegas. This was one of the few things in Vegas, along with the fountains at Bellagios and the Siegfried and Roy Secret Gardens animal exhibit, that my wife and I actually enjoyed while we were there. But it was apparent when we were at the Hilton that they were barely putting any effort into the Star Trek Experience any more.

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SSD: Not fast, not big, not reliable, not low power, not cheap… so why bother?

Everyone is talking about SSDs replacing hard drives, if not today than Real Soon Now. On the surface, solid state drives have a lot going for them: no moving parts, potentially very dense storage, and the possibility for low power consumption. The main things stopping me, at least, from seriously considering an SSD in my machines until recently were price and capacity. The cheapest SSDs cost something like $600 for 64 gigabytes: a normal hard drive might costs $200 for 500 gigabytes of storage, making SSDs easily ten times the price of mechanical hard drives on a per gigabyte basis.

But solid state drives obviously have an advantage in terms of reliability and power consumption, right? So all I have to do is wait for the inevitable drop in price/increase in capacity that Moore’s law suggests and I’ll be set. Maybe… or maybe not.

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