Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Cloud Girlfriend

I've recently come across an interesting new launch called Cloud Girlfriend. Essentially, you sign up and then you get an imaginary girlfriend who exists on Facebook etc. It's not porn or dating, and it's not a bot, but real people.

There's mixed reactions to it on the blogosphere and twitterverse, ranging from the assumption that it's a publicity stunt or a joke, to calling it sexist towards women.

I think it's a great idea though. How many of us sign up for all sorts of feeds and apps that basically send us inane messages on a daily basis? I'm on several mailing lists and I have to admit, I do still get a little thrill when I see my inbox light up with a special offer just for me, or a survey they're sure I'd love to fill out. It makes me feel noticed and needed. It's a little buzz of positive feelings. Plenty of people get messages with today's horoscope or recipe, or even job alerts.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Parents should be told to support gaming, not oppose it.

I recently watched an episode of Jo Frost's extreme parenting advice because I had seen it mentioned as 'proof' that violent video games affect children's behaviour, so I wanted to see that for myself. The research experiment shown was anything but conclusive and hardly scientifically relevant. Some commenters on the Channel 4 site put it rather well:
Alice: I'm most annoyed, however, at the implicit assumptions she makes about gaming. Violence in a game is not 'real violence' but violence on the news is? Sure, it actually happened, but the immediacy is reduced by the fact that these appear to be compiled clips with no underlying story or point of empathy. And what exactly does a lower heart rate mean? What does desensitising mean? That people are less likely to become irrational and over-emotional when viewing ... hammed-up reporting with a clear agenda. Why shouldn't children learn to become more rational when faced with violence? I'm hoping against hope that instead of demonising computer games, this show will suggest that parents monitor and suggest games for their kids.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Games I play that save the world

I've finally started reading Reality is Broken and I learned about some great games that harness the gamer superpowers to make a real difference in the world. The first one is Chore Wars which turns doing the housework into an epic multiplayer adventure. The second is Foldit, where folding proteins is turned into a game. Scientists need to figure out how to fold proteins so they can make medical breakthroughs. Except there are millions of ways they can fold and even supercomputers take forever. If you don't want to play, you can also just lend them your computer's spare time.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Privatising the NHS isn't as bad as it sounds

In the early morning and every now and then in the car, I actually manage to hear some snippets of radio. On it, I've often heard people spouting off about the 'cuts to services' the government has had to implement. (They're not exactly cuts to services anyway, they're cuts to budget, which some councils apply badly - don't get me started). Anyway, everybody seems very concerned at the spectre of using private provision in the NHS. Once I signed a petition to stop parliament from passing an extremely silly law about internet safety and privacy, and now the same organisation keeps contacting me to sign more petitions. Sadly, I haven't agreed with them since, and the same goes for their latest petition to stop the reforms to the NHS. I say bring it on!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

6 PERMAnent side effects of gaming!

As my post Encouraging kids to game is most successful, I thought I'd expand some more on the ideas behind encouraging kids to game. I learned more from Jane McGonigal's DICE talk, that you can watch on G4TV. Don't forget to read the G4 blog post as well, which offers an excellent summary of the talk. There are interesting parallels between gamer superpowers and the things that are essential for people to be happy. So, if nothing else, gaming makes people and children happy. But there are also some side-effects to gaming that have been discovered by credible research and should make us take note.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Addison's crisis - Not dead yet, Jim!

I haven't blogged for a bit as I was on holiday and when I returned, my hard drive mysteriously had crashed. At least we weren't burgled, as that is one of the favourite half-term pastimes in our neighbourhood.

It was quite an eventful holiday as we had occasion to use Kirk's emergency 100ml intramuscular hydrocortisone injection.