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Come to Think of It...

By Leee ·
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Will play video games for money

by Leee In reply to Come to Think of It...

About two years ago, I saw a <em>New York Times</em> article about a <a href="http://tech2.nytimes.com/mem/technology/techreview.html?res=9E04E7DE1530F936A15750C0A9629C8B63">USC program for students interested in video game design</a>.
I cut it out and gave it to my then-eight-year-old nephew. At the time
he was a straight-A student who, like any other kid his age, liked
video games. Aside from becoming Neo from ?The Matrix,? had no
long-term career plans. He was eight, for crying out loud. What could
it hurt, telling him that such a field existed?
<br /><br />Big mistake.

<br /><br />In the two years since, my nephew has become obsessed with ?going to that video game school.? (According to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/22/arts/design/22vide.html?ex=1290315600&en=f26dbe96bc527f0e&ei=5088">this article</a>,
there are more than 100 such programs teaching video game design and,
more important, the critical thinking skills crucial to their
development.) Telling him that the parent company of my employer also
owns a <a href="http://www.gamespot.com/">video game news site</a>
didn't help either. (He asked if I could get him a job playing games.)
Somewhere between the article's publication and the present day, the
?design? part has fallen by the wayside, and he has come to believe
that he can make piles of money playing video games. Yes, there are
television shows in South Korea where glazed-over joystick-wielders (or
whatever they?re wielding these days) compete for big cash prizes, but
my nephew has no interest in learning Korean or even leaving the house.
He puts off his math homework?all homework, actually?in favor of
practicing karate moves (the Neo thing may work out after all) and
dreaming of wealth born of his PS2 playing. <br /><br />Truth is, my
nephew is not particularly extraordinary a player, and I think he knows
it. Like a rapper or professional wrestler, his bragging belies this
knowledge. Still, I'm not ruling out the prospect of a future in
development for him. I?ve gently reminded him that to be an actual
video game tester requires a mathematically-based core understanding of
how the games <em>work</em>, but he shakes his fist and yells that ?math is <em>evil!</em>?
Like the skateboarder Tony Hawk, who has built a multi-million-dollar
empire doing something ?fun,? my nephew assumes that anyone?well, not
anyone, <em>he</em>?can make a quick million playing ?San Andreas.? If no one has done it yet, why not him?<br /><br />Yes, ?San Andreas.? Have I mentioned he?s only in the fourth grade?

<br /><br />My mother refers to my generation as ?The Instant Generation.?
It all started with microwave ovens. Instead of waiting 40 minutes for
a baked potato, it now took six long, finger-drumming minutes. My
nephew?s generation has raised this impatience to a new level. Having
grown up with video games and computers?my nephew does not have access
to a computer at home, mind you, as my sister-in-law never got around
to hooking up the one I gave her so the kids might learn how to use
one?they have gone beyond ?instant.? There is, of course, disbelief
that we ?old people? had to wait until Saturday morning to watch
cartoons. ("That's stupid," he says. "Why didn?t you just turn on
Cartoon Network?") But there is a palpable and pervasive culture that
holds that school is unnecessary, learning business skills is a waste
of time, interacting with people of the non-digital variety is boring,
real-life violence is as simple as action on a screen?and too many kids
his age and their parents (who see nothing wrong with buying a
pre-pubescent child an M-rated game, as it is ?just a game?) seem to
agree.<br /><br />As my now C-student nephew grows older, he may or may not
waver from his focus (there does seem to be a budding interest in
girls, particularly of the digital variety), but the culture of instant
success despite mediocrity (or perhaps because of it) isn't going
anywhere. If you need evidence, look no farther than your spam filter.
<br /><br />I think it would be really cool if my nephew were to become a
video game developer one day?but even at ten I knew that grown-up work,
even stuff that <em>looked </em>fun, was not all fun and games. The <em>Times </em>clipping about the USC program is long gone, abandoned in a routine sweep of anything analog, colorless, solid, <em>old</em>. But the idea remains, with no road mapped out to its destination.

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Will play video games for money

by jgellatly In reply to Will play video games for ...

<p>Being 42 years old, the first video game I remember playing was "Pong". Fortunately, my little minicycle was more fun to go out and do violence with than that device, so I can relate to using the real world for enterainment vs. a digital one.</p>
<p>As I raised my two children, I actively encouraged them to learn "computing" skills, which to me meant their alphabet, writing skills, and math logic on spreadsheets. Now with a 22 year old in third year university, the use of MSN Messenger is the best thing that has taught him typing, and nothing has taught him how to use a spreadsheet, as he is taking an arts course.</p>
<p>I can only take comfort in watching TV occasionally to see that yes, some people earn a living as sports commentators, so I am hoping that there will be an end to the support required!</p>

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Will play video games for money

by SQL_Joe In reply to Will play video games for ...

At 42 myself, I can see the vast gulf between what life was like when I was a child and how it is for my own daughter.  She does not remember a time when there were no computers.<br /><br /><br />However, unlike the previous poster, computer games, the internet, and things like it have actually sparked her desire for more knowledge - and she has just finished off her freshman year in college with a major in Mathematics.<br /><br />I always thought it was important for her to learn computing as a tool, but also to participate with her as much as possible.  That segues nicely into the subject of "M" ratings and parents.<br /><br />I think part of the reason many parents can say "Its just a game" is because they don't take the time to sit with their kids and watch the game, or play the game with them.  I beleive that many parent would eat those words is they saw the actual content.  For many parents, they can't imagine what is in those games, because when they were kids games were, for the most part, innocent or they as a general rule, didn't have the player participating in murder, theft, and a zillion other crimes and anti-social  behaviors.<br /><br />The scary thing is the kids playing the "M" rated games now, will think its normal for their kids to participate in the same (or worse yet) activities, since they have grown up with that activity  being OK.<br /><br />Of course, I realize this does not apply in all situations and sadly, I have witnessed kids walking into a game store and picking up an adults only game, to be rebuffed by the clerk - then to be verbally assaulted by a parent for refusing to sell the game to the kid - even after the clerk politly explained that 1) he couldn't legally sell it to the kid and 2) that the game contained material suited only to adults.  The parent in anger paid for the game, and handed it to the kid.  I guess there's nothign like teaching our kids that its okay to drive buses over crowds of people just because they happen to be on the boardwalk - yes, I saw my nephews playing a game where the goal was to run over as many pededstrians as they could in a very realistic setting....<br /><br />Its only a game.<br /><br />George

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The un-united states of the iPod nation

by Leee In reply to Come to Think of It...

<p>Yesterday I Tivo?d <em>Good Morning America</em> because I?d heard
Bruce Springsteen was going to be on. Like most bland daytime shows, it
attempted to make itself sound ?younger? than its typical demographic?you know,
by using words all the cool kids doing the Twist around the hi-fi are using. </p>


<p>Bruce was great, as always, but one thing that they had to
ask him was, ?What?s on your iPod??</p>


<p>The 56-year-old Springsteen has an iPod but, not surprisingly,
has only attempted to figure it out this past week. He claims to have gospel,
bluegrass and rap on it?although I suspect his three teenagers had something to
do with that last part?but the <em>GMA </em>announcer took it to another level when she referred to Tuesday, ?when fans
download the new album.?</p>


<p>What?s wrong with that sentence?</p>


<p>Yes, some fans will download <em>We Shall Overcome</em>, his Pete
Seeger folk song collection, but a quick look at the iTunes top 10 downloads
list features a lot of, um, artists I?ve never heard of (Chamillionaire & Krayzie Bone, anyone?),
while Amazon.com?s top ten list features more, shall we say, established acts?Paul
Simon, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and of course Springsteen. Only the Dixie
Chicks make both lists.</p>


<p>'<em>When fans download the new album Tuesday.'</em></p>


<p>From the handful of tracks I?ve heard, it?s definitely a
niche record. Hundred-year-old songs played on traditional, analog instruments?
?Featuring? no one? Hardly something someone?s going to trip over on iTunes. But
if Amazon and other retail outlets are the preferred place for the Boss?
audience?I?ll kindly say those of us over 30?to shop, you can bet your Frye harness
boots none of the Springsteen tracks will pose a threat to Dem Franchise Boyz
Featuring Peeenut & Charlay on the iTunes hit parade. (Did I spell that right?)</p>


<p>I confess, I didn?t buy a CD player until 1992 (and I
already owned my first CD, U2?s <em>Achtung Baby</em>, on cassette?and the cassette was only because I couldn?t
bring my record player to college), but as media shrinks, I feel a bit cheated.
Yes, it?s great to be able to fit a thousand or three songs on your iPod, but,
like books stacked in a bookcase, there?s something still very satisfying about
picking up the object and, dare I say, enjoying the album art and reading the
liner notes. I can read the liner notes on a CD, of course?oftentimes that
involves turning pages?but there are no such things on downloads. The bodiless
format seems to make it more disposable; instead of hazarding scratches on the
record we must now be wary of magnets.</p>


<p>Apple has resurrected the single and automated the mix tape.
I love technology. I think the iPod is the coolest thing ever. But for those of us straddling the demographic, we have
neither foot solidly in either camp. We just want a little choice?to touch the merchandise, to chew the product ourselves, so to speak, and leave the surprises to the whim of the clickwheel. </p>

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Windows Vista: A sign of the <i>Times</i>

by Leee In reply to Come to Think of It...

I have been a <em>New York Times</em> addict for roughly half my life. I read each Sunday issue from cover to cover and do a crossword every night. I love the bulk of the Sunday edition (which goes great with my coffee) and read the online articles (which do not when you spill said coffee) the rest of the week. But, of course, someone always sees a need for improvement over the old ink-on-paper technology. Why not?<br /><br />According to <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/2100-3513_11-6066497.html">this article</a>, this week Bill Gates is unveiling the new 'Times Reader,' which 'uses the graphics power of Windows Vista to help bring the Gray Lady
further into the digital age. The software allows users to view the
digital content on any screen size or change the font size. The layout
will readjust itself to neatly flow around photos and other graphic
images.'<br /><br />Okay, so far so good. Then, NYT chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.--a man evidently fine with the idea of digging his own grave--said, 'The Times Reader is a great next step in melding the readability and
portability of the newspaper with the interactivity and immediacy of
the Web.'<br /><br />Oh really, Arthur? Readability and portability? Buy a newspaper. It's lighter, cheaper and doesn't require batteries. I can log onto the computer anytime--but it's the <em>newspaper </em>that gets me out of bed early on Sunday mornings! (Oddly, despite being available in the remotest parts of the world, the <em>Times </em>does not deliver to my zip code. As of this writing, Vista doesn't deliver anywhere.) <br /><br />This led to an office discussion of the versatility of the newspaper. Fan yourself when you're hot? Cover yourself in the rain? Read it on the beach? Line the birdcage? Wrap fragile items for transport? I haven't tried that with a computer, although I might take a stab at it. Well, except for the birdcage business. The tray won't close on anything thicker than an eighth of an inch, and I'd prefer not to have my pets that close to a CRT or LCD, no matter how good the resolution. Come to think of it, a rain-soaked computer doesn't sound very safe, either.<br /><br />During the day (or anytime during the night), the <em>Times </em>online is a source of the most important breaking news. They may call it the 'Gray Lady,' but hooking it up to Vista is not going to make it intrinsically better--or less gray--than any other online resource. Remember, there's a reason why e-books never caught on, and why there will always be a niche market for the physical newspaper.<br /><br />If nothing else, try getting an eleven-year-old to throw a computer onto the porch of every house in the neighborhood. But by the time Vista arrives, that eleven-year-old may be a teenager.<br /><br /><img src="http://news.com.com//i/ne/p/2006/examplewide471x378.jpg" width=400><br />

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Windows Vista: A sign of the <i>Times</i>

by yobtaf In reply to Windows Vista: A sign of ...

Here we go again.<div><div>Another world for Bill Gates to conquer. It would be better for him to concentrate on his main business, making an OS, rather than trying to get into everybody's business and take it over. Maybe Vista would be on time then, but Bill is really a businessman, he has never been a visionary or innovator.?</div><div>Sorry people, But I just don't like the guy.?</div><div><div>Long live Steve Jobs.</div>

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Windows Vista: A sign of the <i>Times</i>

by yobtaf In reply to Windows Vista: A sign of ...

Here we go again.<div><div>Another world for Bill Gates to conquer. It would be better for him to concentrate on his main business, making an OS, rather than trying to get into everybody's business and take it over. Maybe Vista would be on time then, but Bill is really a businessman, he has never been a visionary or innovator.?</div><div>Sorry people, But I just don't like the guy.?</div><div><div>Long live Steve Jobs.</div></div></div>

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Your call is important to us

by Leee In reply to Come to Think of It...

<p>My doctor?s office recently set up a phone tree with a
recorder at the end. It was the last holdout for the old ?How may I direct your
call?? routine (okay, TechRepublic still has a real person, but I <em>see</em> her) and it made me kind of sad.
After all, I can deal with a phone tree when it comes to checking my bank
balance, but when I need something stronger than a doctor?s appointment, I?d
like to talk to a human being. Quickly.</p>


<p>In the past week I?ve read about <a href="http://gethuman.com/">GetHuman.com</a> twice.
GetHuman is a website that offers shortcuts designed to help you get a real
live person on the line, for scores of companies and government agencies in the
US and UK. Need to report your embezzling boss to the Federal Trade Commission?
Press 4-5-0. Got a problem setting up that Ikea couch? Press 0 ?quickly and
repeatedly.? And Medicare? Simply say ?agent.? There is even contact
information for such elusive companies as Amazon and Ebay. (I happen to know
that friendly Amazon operators are standing by every day, including Christmas. ?If
you need us, we?re here,? the man said to me last December. Then I asked for
his boss? number?and called to request a raise for his employee. Bob, if you?re
reading this?)</p>


<p>Of course, getting a real person is not a guarantee you?ll
get a straight answer. (For FEMA, press 0-0.) Over the past three weeks a
regional internet provider, Insight Broadband, lost an innumerable number of
emails (some of which I have yet to receive) and dropped service for thousands
of customers. I waited on hold and ?live chat? for an hour and fifteen minutes
and an hour and ten minutes, respectively, then told to reboot my modem (no
kidding). After that non-advice, the reps had no idea how to help, refused to
acknowledge that someone at Insight had screwed up and deferred to answer what
kind of credit, if any, its <a href="http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060516/BUSINESS/605160342/1003">customers</a> might expect to receive. It wasn?t the
operators? fault; their employer simply had become too dependent on automation
and hired a bunch of temps to repeat the same recorded message in a futile
attempt to appease callers. (A class-action lawsuit is pending.)</p>


<p>With all this talk these days about customer service, it?s
good to know that some people still live at the end of the line. And for that,
I am thankful for the folks at GetHuman who work to get us all connected. And
remember?be nice to the people you do get through to. The world would be a more
frustrating place without them.</p>

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Your call is important to us

by apotheon In reply to Your call is important to ...

<div style="text-align: justify">
<p>I'm of the opinion that getting that sort of non-service from the same company twice is grounds for changing service providers (if at all possible). First, though, talk to someone in a supervisory position. Tell that person you're leaving for another service provider, and tell that person exactly <strong>why</strong> you're leaving. Leave no doubt in their minds that poor customer support is losing them business.</p>
<p>It's my experience that every major corporation has customer-loss issues that bewilder them. A few complaints from people who are jumping ship might give them the impression that they've suddenly discovered the real reason they're losing business. Maybe things will change for the next guy — and, in the meantime, you get a service provider that actually provides service.</p>
<p>If you'd like to leave a service provider, but can't because of where you live, what business you're in, or something along those lines, maybe some day you'll move, change businesses, or whatever. Then, tell them you're leaving because of their service anyway (assuming service is still bad by then). I've actually known people to move from one town to another just to get better customer service from a different cable Internet service provider: in our increasingly wired world, our broadband Internet connections are increasingly important, and I for one don't want to be stuck with crappy service if I can alter the situation by moving fifty miles, so I can understand that decision.</p>
</div>

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Your call is important to us

by Leee In reply to Your call is important to ...

We're definitely checking out other providers for our internet service, because my husband is self-employed and so reliable service isn't something he can afford to go without. Unfortunately Insight also holds the monopoly on cable television in this area, too. Maybe after 'The Sopranos' goes off the air we'll cut 'em loose for good.<br /><br />In the meantime, I got an alternate email address. Sad, as for four years I never got any spam. They did have that part down to a science. It was a good four years.

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