Yes, Let’s Evolve the IGF

First things first: read Zach Gage’s Evolving the IGF and then come back. He argues that the IGF could be highlighting more games in general, and more interesting-if-not-perfectly-executed games specifically, by changing the judging categories. This is an idea I wholeheartedly support, though I think there’s room for discussion about what exactly the new categories should be.

I respond to his proposal directly at the bottom of this post. However, I’ve been wrestling with my own thoughts on the IGF and how it might be improved for a while now. I haven’t said anything because I couldn’t think of any good potential solutions to the problems I saw. With Gage’s great idea in my face, however, I want to try to work through some of the thoughts that have been simmering on my brain’s backburners.

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The Open Bundle

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There are so many game bundles on the internet (thank you, Humble Bundle, for making this a trend) that The Open Bundle is easy to overlook. Its name is simple but not descriptive, and to be honest it doesn’t actually include any games. Instead, it has art, music, and code for making games. What really makes it special, though, is that it’s a grand experiment in leveraging crowdfunding to make releasing things under Creative Commons licensing viable for artists.

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Open Letter About Glee’s Lack of Integrity

A recent episode of Glee included a cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back which was a blatant ripoff of Jonathan Coulton’s several-year-old version — much to Jonathan Coulton’s surprise, since he was neither contacted nor credited. Fox’s stubborn refusal to admit their wrongdoing towards Johnathan Coulton raises questions about the integrity of Glee. How many of Glee’s other covers are ripoffs of lesser-known artists’ work? I refuse to support the show anymore, and am sorry I ever did.

The open letter below wasn’t written by me. I’m reposting it with permission, because it eloquently expresses how I feel about this incident. The orignal is here. If you like it, spread it around. When I asked permission, I was told, “Blog away! We just want to get the message out!”

An Open Letter to Glee’s Executives

Dear Sirs,

I am a long time fan of Glee. I have watched Glee since its inception. I have bought Glee on Blu-Ray. Glee is probably my television show. The episode aired on January 24th 2013 entitled Sadie Hawkins will be the last episode of Glee I will watch. Continue reading

Amazon Now Allowing Kindle Account Merging Across International Stores

Amazon.co.jp launched its Kindle store last month. When I logged into my US account today to see if the next Dresden Files book had come out yet, I saw a message telling me that I can consolidate my Japanese and US Kindle libraries.

Great news! You can now shop for Kindle titles at Amazon.co.jp. Consolidate your libraries and manage them from Amazon.co.jp. Change your preferred shopping site to the Amazon.co.jp Kindle Store to shop for Japanese titles in Yen.

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MOOCs: Not Just a Moose Call Anymore

The internet is awash, lately, with sites aimed at making university-level education available for free to anyone with an internet connection. Such sites have generated a lot of excitement this year.

Apparently these Massively Open Online Classes have been around for a while now in one form or another. Now that the Ivy League universities are taking an interest in the idea, however, so is everyone else. And by “everyone else”, I mean millions of people all over the world. Literally millions. Multiple MOOC platforms have risen to popularity this year, with Coursera alone having something like 1.4 million registered users last I read. Even assuming that many, like myself, have created accounts on all the MOOC platforms they can find, I find it hard to believe that fewer than 2 million people have at least dipped their feet into the pool.

This post is the first in a series about MOOCs and my experiences with them. This first entry is about MOOCs in general. Continue reading

Blackout Day

When rumors started flying around the internet that companies like Google and Facebook were considering a coordinated blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA, I eagerly hoped for a complete takedown of the sites. That hasn’t happened to nearly the degree I wanted, and I fear it won’t be enough to make the point. However, some sites are going pretty far. The English Wikipedia site, while not down, is throwing a black anti-SOPA message up to obscure every page as soon as it loads. (Non-English versions have a black banner at the top of every page urging readers to consider the devastating effects of SOPA/PIPA, too.) If you visit the homepage of WordPress.com, every “hot blog post” has been replaced with a link to an anti-SOPA page.

I wrote a letter to my representatives about SOPA/PIPA last month and published it here on my blog for everyone to see. I’ve been following the issue since October, though I’ve been busy with life and haven’t commented on it much except to share articles I’ve read about it on Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t think to save the links to those articles for later. However, I’d like to take a moment, on this day that many companies have staged protests against the SOPA and PIPA bills, to share with you some of the better articles I’ve seen in the past couple of days. Continue reading

Letter to my Representatives Regarding SOPA

In spite of being busy this morning, I took the time to write letters to all of my representatives in the House and the Senate to ask them not to support SOPA. While I’m a little ashamed to admit this, I’m having trouble figuring out which side of Congress has the bill in its hands, so I sent this letter to all three reps. Hopefully whichever rep or reps has to deal with Protect-IP will consider the same points as they apply to that bill.

Dear [Representative],

I am increasingly disturbed by the SOPA bill. In addition to the ease with which it allows censorship, I am given to understand that it would also destabilize the internet as a whole. Continue reading

New PlayStation Network TOS

I got an e-mail from Sony today. They’re changing how the PlayStation Network (PSN) is managed, and with it they’re changing the Terms of Service. The e-mail included a link to a PDF of the new TOS for my perusal. They were nice enough to make all the changes obvious, with all changes in red lettering — old terms crossed out, new terms right next to them. The bulk of the changes just refer to the change in management.

However, there are two big changes they’ve made.

  1. By agreeing to the TOS, users waiver their rights to class-action lawsuits related to PSN.
  2. PSN content is no longer being purchased by the user. Instead, we are licensing the use of the software. Continue reading

The Area of a Japanese Circle

The formula for the area of a circle is pi times the square of its radius. The Japanese government has evacuated an area around the Fukushima power plants with a radius of 40km, or 5,024km sq. Right after the power plants went critical, the US government strongly recommended (at around 3 AM) that any of its citizens within 80km leave immediately. The U.S. evacuation circle therefore has an area of 20,096km sq. That’s a discrepancy 15,072km sq.in size.

This discrepancy is the reason that this year’s U.S. JETs haven’t been told their placements yet. We were supposed to have been informed in May, but some placements fall into this gray area. The Japanese and U.S. governments are discussing what to do about it, and we are not expected to find out placement assignments until right around the solstice.

If you’re wondering why they don’t just ask the JETs who are supposed to be placed in that zone whether or not they’re willing and then swap them out if they aren’t, then know that you aren’t alone. I don’t know what sort of logistical or diplomatic factors are affecting the decision behind the scenes, but I do know that if asked to go into that 15,072km sq. gray area, I would say yes. How many of the people living there have anywhere else to go, even if they want to leave their homes? They are surely under constant stress and need all the support they can get. Even though the area around the Fukushima power plants is one of the most dangerous in the world right now, I would be willing to share their risks in the hope that my presence there as a foreigner come of my own free will might improve morale.

Of course, I’m lucky enough to have family and friends who are willing to put aside their fears for my safety and support my decision, whatever that may be. I don’t have a spouse or children to consider and I don’t want children, which makes it easier for me to consider living someplace feared to be so radioactive it could render me infertile and give me superpowers.

Either way, I don’t know if I’m one of the people slated for that area and have no way to find out. All I can do is wait… now with 15,072km sq. more anticipation. Looking at the JET Programme forums, though, it seems that I’ve been more patient than most.