lim joe→∞

Teaching, Mathematics and Teaching Math.

Archive for August, 2009

Minority Report interface

Posted by forumjoe on August 29, 2009

I don’t often post random links that I find elsewhere, but this one really tickles my fancy.
One film that consistently resonates with me years after viewing is Minority Report, for two reasons. The story was kind of ho-hum, but every time I’m stuck in traffic, I think of the traffic system from the film.

You can’t help but realise the system is so much more efficient (resource-wise and time-wise) than our current system, but there’s no doubt it would require a lot of infrastructure change. The biggest problem with this transport method is that there’s no middle-path between the current cars-and-busses situation to this future situation. The infrastructure would need to be built from scratch, and the costs would just be too much. Maybe I should be a transport engineer.

But anyway, this rambling post is actually about the OTHER thing from Minority Report that I constantly think about. Whenever I have to deal with a windows button-on-toolbar interface (which is every day, really) I wonder if Tom Cruise was onto a good thing.

It looks cool, it looks slick, it looks EASY and he manages to bring up and compare a lot of information in a short period of time. In short, it’s impressive. Especially to someone who once dabbled in interface design. But really, is it better?
This question could best be asked as “Wouldn’t the character be better served by a keyboard and mouse interface?”. You can probably tell from the way I phrased that question that I think the interface is a bit silly. And yet, unlike the transport problem posed earlier, this one actually has an obvious path from current-tech to future-tech. Already, Apple and Mozilla (and probably countless others) are introducing the idea of “Gestures” to control Browsers and other applications. It’s not new technology, but it hasn’t really taken off for a myriad of reasons. But if the beginning steps aren’t taking off, what makes anyone think that the final destination (if the Minority Report can be considered the ‘final destination’ in the continual evolution of cutting edge Interface Design) will be more efficient (resource-wise and time-wise) than a modern WIMP GUI?

Don’t let that stop anyone from trying though. Some guy has taken the next step towards a true gesture-based interface using Flash and FLARToolkit. Looks impressive, sure. Looks innovative, yes. But do we really want the way we interact with computers to be this muscularly intensive in the future? Maybe I should be an interface engineer, I’d quite like that.

PS. Maybe I’ll just pose this question to my ICT Class and see what interface-prototypes they can come up with.

PPS. Yes, this long and rambling post is just a glorified way to post a cool link I found, which I try not to do.


Posted in Gaming | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

So if a blog isn't a good CMS, what is?

Posted by forumjoe on August 27, 2009

I created this blog originally to collect useful teaching resources and links in one spot and I feel like I’m not doing a very good job.   The original plan was that when I find a good link I write a post about it, and include it in the static pages.  But then if I need to continually update the static pages, they don’t end up being very static.  This creates problems.   If the static pages don’t serve their purpose, they should be removed.  Or maintained more regularly.  I guess I’ll plan at the moment to make a blogpost whenever I find something useful for future reference, and then need to dedicate time at the end of the month to filter those into a static page, gradually building up the resource collection.  We’ll see.

Posted in General | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Bill The Lizard

Posted by forumjoe on August 27, 2009

My favourite new blog was shown to me by Jonathan a few weeks ago, and it’s the sort of thing I’m looking for. Bill the Lizard is a blog about “programming, math, computer security, learning, science, and technology.” But what interests me the most are the math problems he poses. Many interesting mathematical problems that can be solved by good old-fashioned logical thinking. Often the mathematical solutions require simple mathematics to solve, but can be programmed to analyse the problem further and deeper (The Broken Stick problem is a great example of this.) It’s the sort of thing I’m looking for, but despite the fact that the maths is simple, it’s still a bit beyond some of my grade 7s. What I really want is a website of maths problems like this, but which can be solved using some simpler maths. I like the “Find the fake coin” problem, but you can only go so far with things like that. The key to get kids interested in Mathematics is to make them realise how fun it is, and how beautiful it is, not how useful it is to solve problems. Kids don’t care about problems, they have enough problems in their lives without getting more in the Maths classroom. They need fun, how can we deliver that?

Posted in Teaching | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

What sort of gamer are you? (Research Paper)

Posted by forumjoe on August 13, 2009

From a Slashdot article I found a research paper that I find interesting enough to be my first Gaming post on this blog. (I’m more interested in gaming research that mainstream gaming news, so must of the stuff I post here will be research related)

Player Modeling using Self-Organization in Tomb Raider: Underworld (Anders Drachen, Alessandro Canossa and Georgios N. Yannakakis, 2009)

Using statistics about player deaths, game completion time, and the number of times (and places) a player asked for help, the researchers were able to categorise players into four different categories:

  • Veterans
  • Solvers
  • Pacifists
  • Runners

Obviously these four categories are specifically related to Tomb Raider: Underworld, and aren’t necessarily directly transferrable to different types of games.  But if you consider TR:U to be the tool for gathering statistics, rather than the entire focus of the study, you can still get a lot out of it.  There are plenty of other online quizzes and stuff (usually related to MMOs) that determine the sort of gamer that you are, but this paper is the first I’ve read that uses solid data analysis to create the categories, rather than just asking questions about what the player enjoys and aims for.

Myself?  It’s been a long time since I played a Tomb Raider game (though I have been intending to check out one of the newer ones recently).  I generally didn’t like the combat (though was still able to do it) because I came from a FPS background.  If I want combat, I’ll play quake, I played Tomb-Raider for the adventure and the puzzles.  It appealed to my Prince of Persia mindset.  I guess that puts me in the Solver category, but really I could be a veteran or a pacifist too.  Who knows?

It’s an interesting paper.  Check it out.

Addendum: I’ve been shown which talks about similar stuff, only was written 15 years ago and uses MUDs as its statistical tool.  Quite Interesting. (Richard Bartle, 1995)

Posted in Gaming | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »