Link: BANG Suddenly Looming on Horizon

As one of the bureaucrats of the Bay Area Night Game wiki, I sleepily go through my chores. My feed reader monitors the "recent changes" section of the wiki. When it detects something, I go to the wiki, roll back the changes, and ban the "user" who made the changes forever. See, you could be a wiki bureaucrat, too; it's all about denying access. Almost all of the changes are, of course, made by spambots. But sometimes... sometimes there's a change, not by a spambot. Sometimes there's a change that mades you sit up and take notice. E.g., this morning I see a change from LessaChu, an addition to the front page:

[[coed astronomy]] and a coalition of other teams will host the Iron Puzzler BANG sometime in late August/early September 2008. Details forthcoming!


Go look if you don't believe me.

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Site: New Photos for the Lyon St Page

Last week, a few folks headed over to Pete's place to watch the movie "Appleseed Ex Machina", which was pretty good. Pete lives in the Marina district. Thus, this was a chance for me to once again walk the length of Lyon St, from Haight to the Marina, with my camera. I'd done it before, back in 2003, but Lyon St. has changed meanwhile.

Thus, my old "Lyon St Oct 2003" page is now Lyon Street Oct 2003 (and Jul 2008). It includes a graffito depicting a human, a graffito so realistic that it triggered Google Streetview's face-blurring:

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Book Report: the Castaway Pirates

Last night, I played Modern Art with some folks. It was a high-stakes game. One of us (not me) had revealed that he was one of the top five players of Caylus (a geeky German boardgame) on Brettspielwelt (a geeky German online boardgaming site). But he wouldn't tell us his "handle", the name he used on Brettspielwelt. So we played Modern Art, with the stakes: if he didn't win, he had to tell us his handle. But he won. So we still don't know his handle.

When I got home, I looked at Brettspielwelt's list of top-ranked players.

Pos.NameAlltime ScorePointsGames PlayedWon%age

Hmm, I can't figure out which of these "handles" is most likely to belong to this guy. Hmm. Then again, maybe there's another approach. Maybe I can just start calling this guy... "SuperMouflette". If you didn't choose "SuperMouflette" as your handle, you might be kinda insulted if someone else claimed that you had. You might say, "My handle isn't 'SuperMouflette', you cretin, it's ____________."

Sooner or later, we'll get an answer out of this guy. Oh, wait, but that wasn't my point. My point was a book report.

I caught a ride from the restaurant to the game-playing spot with Michelle, who works at Chronicle books. Thus, it's not so surprising that she had a book in her car. She said, "You might want to check that book out." Stealing a joke from Kevin L. at work, I said "Is it a pop-up book?" Michelle said, "Yeah." Not the answer I was expecting. Now I had to look at the book.

The pop-up book was The Castaway Pirates. It's the most elaborate pop-up book I've ever seen. Michelle mentioned that a "paper engineer" had worked on it, and I think this "paper engineer" earned that title. There was a splash of water, rendered in pop-up. There were interlocked loops of rope, rendered in popup.

I'm not sure if a verbal explanation is sufficient. Oh, lookie, here's a video I can embed.

The Castaway Pirates

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Link: Ghost Patrol Forums, Sort of

Meat Machine (well, the Bay Area team by that name) set up a "Ghost Capturing" part of their Ghost Patrol application: a social network for ghosts (and ghost sympathizers. I joined, but have encountered some anti-living bigotry. I think y'all should join and back me up... while respecting Ghost culture, of course.

Visit Lonely Souls

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Link: Ghost Patrol Application from Mystic Ghosti

You won't find the Mystic Ghosti application on YouTube because... it's not a video. We played to our strengths, creating a ghost-capturing cryptic crossword. Where by "we", I mean "not me". My "contribution" to this puzzle was a "test solve" in which I made very little progress and said, "Hey, this is really hard." I think the team's puzzle constructors maybe made it easier after that? But mostly they pointed out that Ghost Patrol GC has at least a couple of people who are much better than I am at cryptics. I got better at cryptics by poring over the answers to this puzzle after giving up... but maybe that's not saying much.

Elsewhere on the internet, Chris Roat pointed out that the Shinteki folks now have a website that explains what they do better than the old one did. There's even a blog, but it opens in a frame so your browser probably won't auto-detect the feed, but you can probably find the feed if you look hard enough. But the URL of the blog mentions "testblog" so maybe that's going to move anyhow and maybe I just subscribed to a blog that's never going to update... Gee, the internet is hard.

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Book Report: Noodling for Flatheads

I've been watching teams' Ghost Patrol application videos. They've been fun, with a lot of variety. What does this tell us?

  • Fun: This demonstrates that Gamers are silly
  • Variety: This demonstrates that the movie "Ghostbusters" lacks a Scrabble scene.

Ah, I love this subculture. But there are others. I read Noodling for Flatheads a while back. This is a book of essays about certain underground hobbies of the American South. It's a fun, quick read. Who might we be if we were in the South? You might fish for catfish by letting them try to eat your hand; you might be cockfighting participants and organizers; Moonshine producers and prosecutors; weighing the risks of Squirrel-eating vs kuru; thinking about Frog farming: fact or fiction; Raccoon hunting dogs; Chitlins in our nation, our culture, and our arteries; Marbles because why not marbles?

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Link: We Told Stories

Do you remember a few months back, there was a web-sensation around a novel told through the medium of Google Maps? I read that novel. What I didn't know is that this project was part of the effort of a couple of ex-Mindcandy folks. In case your memory's grinding gears right now--Mindcandy was the force behind the Perplexcity alternate reality game.

Those guys gave a talk recently. I missed the talk, but, yay, someone recorded it. So I just watched this video about new ways of telling stories online. I claim it got interesting around 34:40 in, where they talk about a blending of choose-your-own-adventure books, text adventures, and the life of Pakistan president Musharraf. Yeah, really.

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Book Report: Singularity Sky

My cousin goes to school in Washington D.C. He was talking with some Washington D.C. bloggers. Except that they don't call themselves bloggers. Why not? Because they're in Washington D.C. and "bloggers" have no credibility in Washington D.C. So these people call themselves "columnists". They are "columnists" who write online "columns". Ah, the little white lies that our nation's rulers tell themselves, convincing themselves that the world isn't changing around them that much. Funny.

Charles Stross is a funny writer. I want to tell you how much I enjoyed this novel Singularity Sky, but I find myself trying to do so by explaining the plot. But it would be boring to hear me explain the plot--or, rather, it would be much funnier for you if you just read the book yourself. It's sort of about a government trying to maintain control in the face of change. But mostly it's funny.

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Book Report: Old Man's War

In this science-fiction novel, it's the far future and yet recognizably-human (albeit heavily-augmented) humans are somehow still relevant? Humans are better at fighting than human-controlled robots are... psshyeah right. The good news: This book is well-written, it's a quick read, it successfully distracts from a bus ride.

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Link: A 3-D Puzzle Chat Room

Here's an attempt at creating a Lively room for the discussion of puzzles, puzzle hunts, and/or whatever.

(That sentence might make more sense if I explain that "Lively" is Google's new free 3-D chat service. It's pretty new. The client software is Windows-only. Sorry, Mac people. Sorry, Linux freaks.)


Book Report: Scratch Beginnings

Adam Shepard wanted to see if he could start out in a strange city with just $25 and a bagful of clothes and become a "member of society": have an operational car, a furnished apartment, have $2500, still have room to grow... all within a year. He does it, but he learns some things along the way. He makes his way to a homeless shelter, picks up temp work, scrimps, saves. He meets some interesting people, works some interesting jobs. He does some dumb things along the way, some smart things along the way. It's a quick read; you might check it out.

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Book Report: Principles of Instructional Design

This is the third book on instructional design I tackled reading. It's also the wordiest. "When one begins to think about the application of learning principles to instruction, there is no better guide than to ask the question, what is to be learned?" This book meanders like that; it meanders like that plenty. I stopped reading it.

A better use of your time: Google Streetview covers this year's Tour de France route. I.e., you can armchair-travel your way around many pretty French mountain roads. Go look. The roads meander... well, they switch back. But I don't mind that so much in a mountain road, not like I mind it in someone's writing.

View Larger Map

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Book Report: Designing Effective Instruction

Notes about another Instructional Design book. Please pardon the dry nature of this book report.

Again, emphasis on measuring learning. Consider making up the final exam questions before you write the instructional material.

Talk to people to find out what folks need to learn. If some topic's application isn't obvious, find out why someone asked for it.

Psychological scales to measure how a student wants to learn. But that might not help you much, since different students want to learn different ways.

A bag of techniques (with personality types who like to learn that way)

  • Relate information being presented to what has come before and what is still to come (inductive/global)
  • Provide a balance of concrete information and abstract concepts (sensory/intuitive)
  • Balance material that emphasizes practical problem-solving methods (sensing/active) with material that emphasizes fundamental understandings (intuitive/reflective)
  • Use pictures, schematics, and simple sketches along with verbal information (sensory/active)
  • Provide demonstrations (sensing/visual), hands-on activities (active), and computer-based learning (sensing/active)
  • Provide intervals during presentations for students to think about what they have been told (reflective)
  • Assign drill exercises to provide practice (sensing/active/sequential)
  • Provide open-ended problems and exercises that call for analysis and synthesis (intuitive/reflective/global)
  • Give students opportunities to work together on assignments and group activities (active)
  • Provide concrete examples of how a theory describes or predicts events (sensing/inductive); then develop the theory or formulate the model (intuitive/inductive/sequential); and show how the theory can be validates and deduce its consequences (deductive).
  • Recognize students' creative solutions or activities (intuitive/global)

Depending on what kind of material they learn, what kinds of actions should they be able to carry out if successful?

  • knowledge (recall of info) arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, match, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce
  • comprehension (interpret info in one's own words) classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, sort, tell, translate
  • application (use knowledge or generalization in a new situation) apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, prepare, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use
  • analysis (divvy knowledge into parts) analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, inventory, question, test
  • synthesis (bring together parts of knowledge) arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, synthesize, write
  • evaluation (judge based on criteria) appraise, argue, assess, attack, choose, compare, defend, estimate, evaluate, judge, predict, rate, score, select, support, value.

Teaching facts: concrete evidence is nice for demo. rehearsal-practice. mnemonics.

Teaching concepts: Show best example, then variations.

Teaching principles: rule-eg: state rule then cite examples. eg-rule: start w/examples, let student figure out the rule.

Teaching interpersonal: present model, let them think about it, mental rehearsal, demo.

Instructional designers seem to lose interest when a "job aid" comes along, but that's half my bread and butter.

Group presentations most applicable: introduce a new topic. create interest. presenting basics before folks split into groups. intro recent developments. let learners talk back. review/summary of what folks have learned. teach a large group economically. Guidelines ask questions. encourage note-taking. handouts. use clear terminology.

Self paced "learner contract", textbook/worksheets, visuals/guide sheet, audio tutorial

Small groups Discussion. Panel discussion. Guided design, Case study, role-playing, simulation, games, cooperative learning

A cute pargraph on dealing with SMEs' sacred cows.

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