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Blender 3D Flyover of Fantasy Steampunk Spacecraft

When my kids were small, at bedtime we had interactive “blimpship stories,” set in a steampunk world. I would set up the latest plot developments, each child would pick a character they wanted to focus on, and I would play the DM as we role-played for 15-30 minutes. These stories grew amazingly complex and developed story arcs that lasted for years. For a while, the kids were pulling apart their…

He couldn’t get over his fiancee’s death. So he brought her back as an A.I. chatbot

The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious artificial intelligence website allow him to speak with her once more? […] There was nothing strange, he thought, about wanting to reconnect with the dead: People do it all the time, in prayers and in dreams. In the last year and a half, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. and Canada have died of COVID-19,…

In major step, UCSF scientists translate unspoken words of paralyzed man into writing

The “neuroprosthetic” technology involved installing a credit-card-sized electrode panel on the surface of a volunteer’s brain, then collecting electrical signals as the person — a man completely paralyzed by a brain-stem stroke 15 years ago — tried to form words. Over a period of several months, scientists worked with the man to develop a catalog of 50 words that could be translated from his thoughts into hundreds of phrases and…

That Class Where Stanford Profs Projected Hundreds of Zoom Students on a Video Wall

Of course, not all institutions happen to have a video wall that’s 32-feet wide and 8-feet tall. But Stanford already did, in its Wallenberg Hall. So the three professors reached out to the university’s director of classroom innovation, Bob Smith, to see what they could rig up. No matter how big your screen, Zoom can only display up to 49 people in each session. So the class was divided into…

Steampunk flag for the United States of Britannia (from the alternate history my kids and I made up during bedtime stories)

In the steampunk world my kids and I made up for bedtime stories (from about 2007-2013), Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of ether technology was the bargaining chip that forced King George to grant the 13 colonies full membership in the new kingdom of United States of Britannia. I’m working on a Blender3D model of the flagship where most of our interactive stories took place, and I realized I needed to design…

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A Successful Failure: The TI-99/4A Turns 40

My family had one of these when I was 12 or 13. The games I remember include a Pac-Man clone called “Munchman,” but I think I remember learning BASIC, blocky computer graphics, word-processing, and using a speech-synthesizer. The TI-99/4A was a great computer to learn on. I remember making a Star Trek combat simulator (based on the text-only battle games that were popular at the time), and I remember being…

1993: Curses (Aaron A. Reed’s “50 Years of Text Games”)

The latest in Aaron A. Reed’s monumental project” 50 Years of Text Games” focuses on Graham Nelson’s programming language Inform, and in particular his game “Curses.” “You have to get a coin from the temple of zeus to buy the ekmek,” explained one responder. “To do that you need to use the rod of luck. To use the rod of luck you have to change the nature of the universe.”…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In May, 2001 I was blogging about lanuguage, design and Cliffs Notes

In May 2001, I was blogging about Business and the English language (a humorous rant against business jargon) — Clint Witchalls, Spectator Some features you may need on your computer (like “Extend Deadline” and “Read Bosses’ Minds” The Creator of Cliffs Notes has Died (though I know you won’t read his whole obituary) “Telling the Truth about Damned Lies and Statistics“ The Gist Generation –Jeff Barbian Bad Design Can Be…

Narnia board game — enjoyable family activity (but it’s weird that the Pevensies compete against each other)

It’s weird that in the Narnia board game, the Pevensies compete against each other. I thought it would make sense that they would have to work together to defeat the White Witch, but no. Why do they all work against each other? In the book, Edmund betrays his siblings — but they don’t betray him! Before Edmund’s visit to Narnia, we read, “The others who thought she was telling a…

What is a CRT and Why Don’t We Use Them Anymore?

I remember when I started seeing political cartoons that began depicting office workers using flatscreen LCDs instead of bulky CRTs. I inherited a handful of CRTs as people I know upgraded. I still haven’t bought a new LCD TV — I’ve inherited several hand-me-downs from family members. The next time I offer my course on the history and culture of video games, I’ll have to include this article so my…

Karate, Wonton, Chow Fun: The end of ‘chop suey’ fonts

Close your eyes and imagine the font you’d use to depict the word “Chinese.” There’s a good chance you pictured letters made from the swingy, wedge-shaped strokes you’ve seen on restaurant signs, menus, take-away boxes and kung-fu movie posters. | Variations on the font are commercially distributed as Wonton, Peking, Buddha, Ginko, Jing Jing, Kanban, Shanghai, China Doll, Fantan, Martial Arts, Rice Bowl, Sunamy, Karate, Chow Fun, Chu Ching San JNL,…

How to Reduce Racial Bias in Grading (Use Objective Rubrics)

To gauge the potential impact of a standardized rubric on grading bias, I conducted an experiment comparing how teachers graded two identical second-grade writing samples: one presented as the work of a Black student, and one as the work of a white student.

My experiment found that teachers gave the white student better marks across the board—with one exception. When teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, racial bias all but disappeared. When teachers evaluated student writing using a general grade-level scale, they were 4.7 percentage points more likely to consider the white child’s writing at or above grade level compared to the identical writing from a Black child. However, when teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, the grades were essentially the same.