Word Processing Has Become a Commodity

I recently started a new Google Docs, and as part of my drafting, looked up a few things online. When I was ready to go back to my document, I habitually looked for the Word icon. But I’m not using Word at the moment, I’m using Google Docs. Because I’ve spent the summer doing quite a bit of writing on my iPad, using Pages, Documents to Go, Evernote, OpenOffice.org, and…

'The Great Gatsby' goes interactive

Now available for Windows-based PCs, Classic Adventures: The Great Gatsby is a downloadable casual game that lets you interact with familiar characters, locations and story lines from the legendary American novel. As Nick Carraway, a young idealist back from the Great War, you must unravel secrets buried behind the decadence of the Roaring ’20s. This point-and-click adventure is one of those hidden-object games, where you must look for well-hidden items…

How Should a Non-Techie Learn Programming?

Nontechnical people — for example marketers or small business owners — increasingly get the feeling they should know more about technology. And they’re right. If you can throw up a small website or do some real number-crunching, chances are those skills will help you feed your family. But how should they get started? –Ask Slashdot For about 10 years, I have been teaching Inform to students (mostly English majors) in…

Marketing: Omo Detergent Uses GPS to Follow Consumers

I recognize that people who sell laundry detergent are more interested in selling soap than using gender-neutral language, but as a married man who does his own dang laundry, I was a little miffed by the language that presumes the winner of this marketing stunt will be female. If the team tracks a consumer to her home but she won’t let them in, they can remotely activate a buzzer in…

J.J. Abrams producing period robot movie 'Boilerplate' (exclusive)

I’ve been a fan of the faux-historical Boilerplate website for many years, so I was very happy to see this news. J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot banner are tackling the tale of a robot set in the Victorian Age. Paramount has picked up rights to “Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel,” a graphic novel-picture book hybrid by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, the creators of comic book series “Heartbreakers,” for an…

Cow Clicker Yields Ruminations On Social Gaming's Tense Battle Lines

Gameplay in Cow Clicker is insultingly simple — Bogost has described it as “Facebook games distilled to their essence.” Users obtain a cow on which they can click every six hours, and every time they click, they earn more opportunities to click their cow or their friends’ cows. Users can buy custom “premium” cows or buy their way out of the six-hour delay with the game’s currency, “Mooney” (Bogost claims…

Wish List for Next Upgrade of the iPad Kindle App

I’m very happy with yesterday’s update of the Kindle app, which added an inline dictionary. Now I am seriously considering it for assigning class texts. I do wish that the Kindle offered a few more things. The ability to tag or otherwise sort comments, and email just one set of tagged comments (so I could give students an in-class assignment to mark up a passage to explore a certain theme,…

The Decline of the Telephone Call

This generation doesn’t make phone calls, because everyone is in constant, lightweight contact in so many other ways: texting, chatting, and social-network messaging. And we don’t just have more options than we used to. We have better ones: These new forms of communication have exposed the fact that the voice call is badly designed. It deserves to die. [...] The telephone, in other words, doesn’t provide any information about status,…

SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums

(A transcription of the text and scans of photos from a 1972 magazine article about the legendary space combat computer game. Stewart Brand, Rolling Stone.) October, 1972, 8 PM, at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, moonlit and remote in the foothills above Palo Alto, California. Two dozen of us are jammed in a semi-dark console room just off the main hall containing AI’s PDP-10 computer. AI’s Head System Programmer and…

Passing The Holy Milestone: How To Meet Deadlines

Schedule deadlines as specific tasks, not the ends of phases. Rather than “Content will be completed by 4 April 2010,” state “Review the content over lunch on 4 April 2010.” This ties the deadline to an event at which results must be shown. Mini-deadlines tied to specific events are more powerful than general statements. Making up for minor time discrepancies during the course of a project is easier than facing…