Draw Distance

Contemporary games and the misuse of reward and punishment

by Deathcakes on Feb.27, 2011, under Gaming, General Science, Philosophy

Title partially stolen from the excellent Irrationality, a book that I was bought a while ago and have only just started to read, to my dismay.

To paraphrase a section of chapter 8,

… I have shown that giving someone a negligible reward for performing an unpleasant act makes the act seem less disagreeable than it really is. One can also ask what is the effect of a large reward on the perception of a pleasant task. The answer is unequivocal: it devalues the task in the eyes of those performing it.

This, I feel, is of particular relevance to not only the vast majority of console games, but even indie and low-budget PC games, not to mention education and work, but I shall stick to games for now.

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Time for another anti-Apple rant

by Deathcakes on Oct.20, 2010, under Uncategorized

Yeah yeah, so its not like this is new or original or whatever, but venting is what the internet is for and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity as I may instead accidentally kill whoever I see next.

This is in response to the recent ‘Back to the Mac’ charade, which I’ve just finished reading the liveblog of on Engadget.

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Apple and their arrognace

by Deathcakes on Jul.23, 2010, under Design, Gadgets, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Not my words – this guys words. And, as is my wont, I have to disagree.

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Google Apps for the ultimate fail

by Deathcakes on May.12, 2010, under Uncategorized

I’ve recently taken over as IT Manager at a medium sized business, who have recently migrated to Google Apps from aMicrosoft Exchange environment. Initial reaction – cool! Google are awesome, so this must be too! Delayed reaction – crying.

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by Deathcakes on Apr.16, 2009, under General Science

Awesome! An entire field of scientific endeavour, geared towards understanding the effects of magnetic fields on biological systems!

If, as this particular paper (which I admit I haven’t actually read) suggests, these effects are non-negligible, the implications are huge. What potential ramifications for health and human longevity are there?

The first thing that occurs to my overly-cyborg fixated mind is a faraday cage for the body. Imagine; a nanoscale wire mesh, implanted subcutaneously, to mitigate the effects of even the  relatively benign background field of the Earth. Pretty awesome, no?

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Ben Goldacre, I love you.

by Zarniwoop on Apr.14, 2009, under General Science


I read a lot of blogs. I am aware that the number that I read is an insignificant number compared to that of the writers of an actual blog such as BoingBoing, considering how firmly they seem to have their ears pressed to the ground (though I know they get a lot of emails), but it’s still more than the number for which I should make time. One of the best is written by one Dr. Ben Goldacre called Bad Science where, for the uninitiated, he attacks peddlers of pseudoscience and other Things Which Are Wrong, and often things which lead or have lead to very serious levels of harm to unwitting members of the public. (continue reading…)

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New Atheism

by Deathcakes on Mar.24, 2009, under General Science, Philosophy

This could take a while, as I have a good deal of spleen to vent in this area.

Where to begin then? Lets start with Dawkins shall we. Now before I get to the shouty-ranty part of this particular post, let me just explain that I have a lot of respect for Dawkins’ scientific contributions, for all his work in microbiology and so on.

But. He’s still a wanker.

(continue reading…)

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The great 16:9 conspiracy!

by Deathcakes on Mar.19, 2009, under Uncategorized

Came across this gem in a lecture the other day, where it was revealed to me that this era of widescreen monitors we live in is the product of none other than – bah bah baaaah – corporate profit-seeking.
Well not quite, and to be honest its not such a huge conspiracy, but hey, it irks me a little. You see it turns out that manufacturers create large sheets (and I mean large) of extremely thin glass substrates, onto which LCD components can be layered. These extremely large sheets are divided into smaller ones, of the same aspect ratio. And this is where the conspiracy comes into play!
For a given sized screen, the 16:10 aspect ratio, which has become fairly standard on laptops these days, contains a greater area of pixels than the same sized screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Obviously. And by size, I mean diagonal length. Obviously.
The trick is that a 16:9 and a 16:10 screen are hard, if not impossible, for the average person to distinguish seperately; even placed side-by-side this is a difficult task. So, without noticing it, people are getting less screen area!
The practical upshot of this is that a 16:9 screen has a tendency to squash things, like .pdf A4 documents and whatnot, and there is evidently less usable space.
And there you have it. Not much of a conspiracy I know, and at the end of the day, if you’re buying a TV, you’ll want a 16:9 one anyway, to conform to movie-widescreen. Still. People ought to know.
And if you want the recommendation of my lecturer, push for 21:9 – its awesome!

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by Deathcakes on Mar.17, 2009, under Uncategorized

Welcome all and sundry, to yet another blog written by another person, saying mostly the same things as others, only more vehemently and with a modicum of self-awareness.

My aim is for this space to become a hive of intelligent and humourous discourse on a myriad of topics, from science to design and back again.

So, to kick things off as I mean them to go on, I’ll have a bit of a rant. Its not like I have a dedicated readership to offend.

First up on todays rant-a-thon, people who say math. If you can show me how to do mathematic, by all means, go ahead. If not I should be allowed to punch you.

Secondly, sticking with the same theme, the phrase ‘going forward’, when used to refer to actions in the future, is outlawed. Again, punching should be in order.

Thirdly, I will actually post some intellectual content, possibly later today, or tomorrow. I bet you’re on tenterhooks now.

Also, disregard the weasel.

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The Mighty Weasel

by Deathcakes on Mar.14, 2009, under Uncategorized

weaselWeasels are mammals in the genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family.

Originally, the name “weasel” was applied to one species of the genus, the European form of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis). Early literary references to weasels, for example their common appearances in fables, refer to this species rather than to the genus as a whole, reflecting what is still the common usage in the United Kingdom. In technical discourse, however, as in American usage, the term “weasel” can refer to any member of the genus, or to the genus as a whole. Of the 16 extant species currently classified in the genus Mustela, ten have “weasel” in their common name. Among those that do not are the stoat or ermine, the two species of mink, and the polecats or ferrets.

Weasels vary in length from fifteen to thirty-five centimeters (six to fourteen inches), and usually have a light brown upper coat, white belly and black fur at the tip of the tail; in many species, populations living at high latitudes moult to a white coat with black fur at the tip of the tail in winter. They have long slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails are typically almost as long as the rest of their bodies. As is typical of small carnivores, weasels have a reputation for cleverness and guile. They also have tails that can be anywhere from 22-33 cm long and they use these to defend the food they get and to claim territory from other weasels. The average weasel weighs about 198 grams (7 ounces).

Weasels feed on small mammals, and in former times were considered vermin since some species took poultry from farms, or rabbits from commercial warrens. Certain species of weasel and ferrets have been reported to perform the mesmerizing weasel war dance, after fighting other creatures, or acquiring food from competing creatures. In folklore at least, this dance is particularly associated with the stoat.

Collective nouns for a group of weasels include boogle, gang, pack, and confusion.[1]

Weasels occur all across the world except for Antarctica, Australia and neighbouring islands.

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