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Photos, Photos, The Last Generation to Loose History, Guitar Hero III, Zen Programming, and the implications of a new iPhone application

Ooooh!  Treasure Trove!

“Look at this photograph
Everytime I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red
And what the hell is on Joey’s head?”
— Nickleback, “Photograph”

I was visiting with Cassie and Jason today, and mentioned the little project I have of scanning in all my old party pics and such.  Too bad I don’t have stuff that dates back to the old group.

Guess what?  She’s got ’em!  Including pictures of the concerts on the back porch back of my grandmother’s old house!  She passed me her first set of pics she could find quickly, which are well.. kind of random.  I really couldn’t identify the event there – looks like just a random party involving the trampoline.  Ahh…. man I miss having a trampoline to get good and drunk on.  One would think alcohol + trampoline = bad idea.  But the truth is, no one ever got seriously injured. 

Someday… I’ll have a place for a trampoline again.

But anyway… so for those who weren’t there for the bands, well, you get to see ’em.  For those who were there, time for another nostalgia trip 😉

No clue when she’ll find the other pics – not like it’s a time sensitive issue here 🙂

The Other Pictures

Well, I finished scanning in all the old party pictures and such.  I need to go through ’em and sort them out (some party pics are intermixed with other parties), and some of ’em are just random crap that filled up the ends of the roll, that sort of thing.  76 pictures, so I’ll start dribbling them out on here over the next week or two.  Plus I’ve got to do some post processing on ’em (clean up some dust, contrast adjust on a few, etc.)

That basically finishes the “public” portion of the scanning project.  I’ve still got more stuff to scan in – my trip to China, stuff like that.  I’ll probably throw them on here sometime too just for the hell of it, but, they are mainly getting scanned so my complete album collection is now digital, and I can go burn CD’s of ’em to put in a deposit box somewhere.  No worries about them being lost in a move, damaged, etc. anymore.

I’m gonna go eyeball my father’s collection of family photos – wonder if there’s any in there of (for instance) me and Tammy when we were running around in High School?  Obviously there’s not going to be any party pictures in those collections, but, I might also add that to the pile of stuff to digitize someday.  I might actually invest in some archive quality CD’s to do it on (keep in mind, if you’re backing up stuff to CD’s or DVD’s, the shelf life in an uncontroled environment is only 10 to 20 years estimated.  Archive quality CD’s are 100 years, though everyone agree’s there’s a potential problem with, oh, finding something to READ them on in 100 years 🙂  It’s not a PERFECT way to preserve all that past history, but it’s a good way.

Persistence of Vision and Memory

“Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away”
— Rush, “Time Stand Still”

Cassie mentioning having old pictures of events I don’t have pics of got me to thinking – how many evens do all of us remember that we don’t have pictures for, but someone else does?  I mean, like the Senior Beer Party?  Are there pictures of Brian and I “fighting”?  (The next day neither one of us could remember why we started fighting, but we were both too drunk to actually successfully swing at each other.  So we started running at full-drunken-bore at each other and slamming ourselves in attempt to hurt the other guy worse than you’ve hurt yourself.  WIthout a doubt, the least successful fight technique I’ve ever used.)

To me the Internet makes the question more interesting.  Take multiply – I tag my photos on here with who’s in them (if they are in my list of people), and ya’lls do the same.  What happens as time goes on and more social networking services start popping up with metadata (tagging, etc.) for pictures?  How much more will we be able to find of our own histories contained in pictures?

Looking back at the past, a handful of generations ago it would have been impossible to see a picture of yourself at a party.  Looking forward, the upcomming generations are going to have a very rich history of themselves and thier friends.  Almost everyone has a camera in thier pocket on thier cell phone.  Uploading photos isn’t dead simple yet, but it’s getting there.

Heather and Nick’s wedding is a pretty good example of what the future holds – not including the official wedding photos themselves, how many pictures did all of us upload of the events leading up to, the wedding it’s self, and the events that occurred afterwards?  Our photo albums aren’t something just on a shelf anymore.  They aren’t even just OUR albums now – the social groupings at an event hold a virtual photo album of the event tied together with tagging and metadata.  Did you miss a moment?  Check everyone else’s albums and see if they have it. 

Pretty cool. 🙂

I’m not a history buff, but I’m big on the idea of preservation of our friends and family.  Truthfully I wasn’t so much until after mom died and Rich died – years after those events, you realize how little has been preserved to look back at beyond the faulty memories we carry in our way too fragile brains.

Guitar Hero III:  Return of the Obsession

“Johnny you rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
‘Cos hells broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals it hard.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold.
But if you lose, the devil gets your soul.”
— Charlie Daniels, The Devil Went Down To Georga

This ended up being a rather more social weekend than I planned.  I was gonna stay home and do some programming and website work, but, well… I never got to any of it.  At all.

A buddy, Dion, called Friday night, and was needing me to drop off a computer.  No biggie, I head over there and drop it off… unluckly I didn’t know the password, and left a voicemail for Lance.  While I’m waiting for Lance to call back, we started chatting about Guitar Hero & Guitar Hero II.  See, he’s a Guitar Hero freak like me.  In fact, I remember telling him about the game, and he thought it sounded stupid.  Until he picked up the controller and played it once.  After that, he bought a PS 2 and Guitar Hero.

Anyway, my GHII CD is busted, and so I’m playing his.  I know Guitar Hero III is out – we pull up the track list on my iPhone…. fuck.  Next thing I knew, we’re in the car headed for WalMart to pick up Guitar Hero III.

It took 3 different WalMarts to find a copy – it’s that popular.

We ended up playing until 5 AM, and Dion and I drank all the beer he had.  Definitely NOT part of my plan for the night, but a hell of a lot of fun 🙂  We played through the entire game on Co-Op mode – I played Bass Guitar most of the time, but, they picked most songs so it worked well.

Then I played it the next day at home by myself for the single player experience.  First off, the game’s a bit harder than the previous two – but not bad enough that new players would be turned off by playing easy mode.

I have a fascination with something about this game.  I’ve refered to it as “Zening it” when playing video games or doing a hard physical task beyond your norms.  You take your mind away from what’s happening with your hands, and let your unconcious mind do the work (or at least that’s my theory).  The Guitar Hero series (on hard and above) evokes that state more than any other game I know – if I’m thinking much about the cords I’m playing, I’m fucked.  If I’m analyzing the stream of notes with the front of my mind, I’m fucked.  If I relax and think about the weather, all is well.  My hands will do thier thing.  And here’s how weird that is – I was playing on a song, totally lost track of the game.  I played the song a second time to confirm that, yes, my finged did exactly what I thought they did – a combo I didn’t think was possible for me to do.  Eyes get input, back of brain processes it, fingers do the job.  It’s a good system.

Guitar Hero III found a new way to fuck with people – at the very end, you can’t do that trick quite the same anymore!  First time around I played through on Medium mainly so I can see one of the game’s new features:  Guitar Battles.  They motion captured a couple of people (you know, famous people like Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses) and you play against them.  Cool idea.  (Speaking of motion capture – if you get a chance, watch someone play Guitar Hero III.  Look at the singer – while his face is created like a Muppet, that’s Brett Michaels of Posion singing with that Muppet mouth!  When you realize it’s him, it makes it pretty funny.  OK, to me anyway.)

The final song in the Guitar Hero games has always been important – Bark At The Moon in GH1, and Freebird in GHII (all 13 minutes.  While fun, you risk breaking at least 3 out of 4 fingers playing it :-).  How do you top Freebird as the final song?

You play against the Devil, and the song is a very cool extended guitar version of Devil Went Down To Georgia.

This song is hard – very hard.  I played it almost note perfect the first time.

I LOST.

Remember I said they did something to screw up the normal way of doing things?  Well, it’s a guitar battle, and when you play certain sequences you get a powerup to use against your opponent.  Well, the Devil cheats – he gets more powerups than you do, so the ones you do get you have to strategize the use of.  So you have to let your eye-brain-finger autopilot doing the playing, but keep part of your brain open to “interrupt” the normal process to stack the right sequence of powerup on top of him to make him loose. 

I played against him four times before I won.  I was sweating profusely when I finally did it.  But now I can go back and win every time.  My brain learned a new trick.  Cool!

Of course, part of that state is nothing new – athletes, martial artists, etc. use very similar techniques for Field Sense (I read a pretty cool paper on that subject concerning the possibility that FIeld Sense is teachable).  And it’s not that far from meditation and other techniques too.  Just that a video game requires such things strikes me as very cool.  But I’m a geek that way.

Practical Application of Game Reflexes

I would love to say that I wouldn’t have told the Guitar Hero III story without a point to it.  Be we all know I’d blog the damned story anyway.  But it got me to thinking about a book I was reading called Roo’d.  It’s a near future piece of Sci-Fi my someone who thinks they are as imaginative as William Gibson and Neil Stephenson (but they aren’t). 

There’s a part of the story where a wizened mentor type (who’s a drug fiend just to try and fill in his wizened hippy mentor character.  SIGH) who tells a younger programmer about not programming directly in the front of your brain.  Use the front of your brain to do the architectural work on the layout of the program, but let the back of your brain do the actual coding without thinking about it.

Hm.

I’ve never heard of such a technique – kind of an auto-writing for programming.  At first I dismissed it, but after my GH III experience of how you can pull of an interesting mix of automatic and thinking reactions in a gaming situation, it might be possible after all. 

I’ve got an idea how to test this concept.  Gonna do a little experementing tomorrow or the next day to see if I can get something like that to actually work, and if the output would be actually USEABLE in a production environment 🙂

Unexpected Applications

Yeah, so, more iPhone crap. 🙂

Someone has been writting some interesting applications for it – most of it pretty utilitarian.  But one thing struck me as an almost brand new idea.  One application is called Quest.  A quest is posted, and everyone who’s intersted takes a picture with thier phone and submits it.  No uploading crap through a web interface or anything like that, just a seemless upload through the phone.  Then everyone else can see the entries (the quest going on right now is “Your Signifcant Other”.  I sent a picture of my hand.  Hey, gotta have a sense of humor about being single 😉  The people who view the pictures can also mark them as “Fail” to indicate that it’s not a picture of what the quest was.

There’s no score board, but it’s a weird sort of social game.  Combines the micro-blog concept of Twitter and it’s ilk with a sort of game situation. 

I had never considered that sort of thing.  It’s not the only one he’s done either – with Burp you send pictures of your food (same social voting rules apply)  Whisper you record a secret (ie, whisper to the phone) and everyone else can hear your secret (ok, that one is pretty odd.)  There’s no archive of this stuff – it’s fleeting, in the moment sort of group toys.  But there’s nothing that prevents someone from setting up a browsable archive attached to all this.

Huh.  I could see someone coming up with a standardized platform for cell phones to do that sort of thing.  Imagine a diet group using an application like Burp to document what they ate – the less hassle there is for people to hold themselves accountable to thier group, the more likely it is they’ll do it.

Needless to say someone’s gonna get rich off this idea in about two years (won’t be me unluckly – I’ve got too much on my plate to take on another project at the moment.  Maybe later).   I can see some amazingly slick ideas that could be build off of such a distributed, self maintained system like this that has such a low bar for entry.  And pleanty of ways that it could be abused too 🙂

Oh, and my hand picture?  Four other people have used that same joke now.  I was first though 🙂

2 thoughts on “Photos, Photos, The Last Generation to Loose History, Guitar Hero III, Zen Programming, and the implications of a new iPhone application

  1. Speaking as a software tester (For all the fancy promotions and titles and side-responsibilities, that's still basically what I do,) this actually isn't so far from how I approach testing — start with a written plan of scenarios, the main road designed to logically ensure full coverage… but then I let myself stray off onto side paths–let my fingers just kind of wander over the keyboard as they will, even when I'm not sure why, and just see what happens.
    It really works beautifully to take your testing from good to great.

    But also speaking as a tester, the idea of somebody programming that way — especially if I have to test it — kind of frightens me.

  2. Dude, I was at a Halloween party and when the teenagers left the XBox360 alone… I was ALL OVER GHIII. I've played GH1 before, but I'm SO much better at GHIII. Good thing I can't buy it or I'd permanently injure myself. 🙂 Glad I'm not the only one who love that game.

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