Friday, January 28, 2011

Geocoin Update: Free State Generic #3

I haven't had the chance to find any geocaches since the two in November (winter is always a slow season, even when you don't have twins to juggle).  But the geocoin I dropped off then has been getting some updates.

Three days after I dropped it off, someone picked it up.  They dropped it off New Year's Eve in a cache in Delaware.    Yesterday, someone picked it up with the note that it was their "first geocoin". That makes me a little nervous, since it seems more likely that they won't know what to do with it or that they will give up geocaching shortly.  Then again, I've been holding on to a trackable for two-and-a-half months, so I'm one to talk.

Sadly, since my last update, the other geocoins have been MIA.  I marked them as such, and have pretty much written them off.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Foursquare, reconsidered

A year ago today, I wrote a post about this new site called "Foursquare" I had started using. At the time, none of my friends were using it, so that dampened my enthusiasm.  Well, a year later, I'm still using and enjoying it.  Here are my reflections after a year:
  • Being mayor is cool, but a majority of places I'm mayor of, I have a very tenuous hold on -- someone visiting two days in a row could knock me out.  
  • I like saying I'm the mayor of a park or a good restaurant, but less so a grocery store or a gas station.  As the parent of twin infants, I find my opportunity to visit places frequently to be fairly diminished.  That should pick up again as they get more mobile.
  • Nobody cares about Foursquare points.  They need to revamp them or get rid of them.
  • By April, five of my friends had started using Foursquare, and when Christina started in May, it became a lot more interesting.  Sometimes, seeing where people check in interests me more than a Facebook status update.
  • I still haven't used it for a spontaneous meeting with a friend.  I think it promises a lot of, "Hey, so-and-so is at the bar down the street, let's meet up," but at my age and place in life that isn't going to happen.  As I said last year, "I could see this being pretty neat 15 years ago in grad school."
  • The badges are awesome.  I think they're my favorite part -- I especially enjoy generating badge envy.  Some badges I'm envious of: Just Desserts, Historian, and for some reason most of all, I'm on a Boat!
  • They've addressed the cheating pretty well, especially with the recent requirement to use a location-aware phone for check-in.  It would have prevented me from getting any mayorships and badges from last January to April on my old Palm Treo, but I guess the world moves on.
  • It would really help if the game got more developed.  For now, as long as they release more badges, I'll be pretty happy, but the whole real world meets digital gaming nexus probably needs more dimensions to take off.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nebula Update: A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

A Time of ChangesA Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book won the 1971 Nebula award for Best Novel, so I read it as part of my project to read all such award winners. I vaguely recalled starting to read it before and never being able to make it through.

Well, I got to the end, and then remembered reading the whole thing. Can't remember when -- 5 years ago or 20?

The middle is very nice -- pure Silverberg world-building in the style of Lord Valentine's Castle (aside: this book won the Nebula, and none of the Majipoor books was nominated??!). The beginning and end are weaker, dealing with two peculiarities of the work -- the world's insistence that individuals hide their individuality (the word "I" is considered an obscenity), and the narrator's attempt to overcome that through the use of drugs.

At times, these themes seem very dated -- rooted in the 1960s/1970s. Silverberg handles them well, though, showing the downfall of the narrator in fairly subtle terms. On the one hand, since he's fighting for individuality, we're inclined to root for him. On the other hand, his insistence that he's got this wonderful drug with no side effects (despite all evidence to the contrary) seems a little familiar and turns him into a pathetic figure.

I'm now up to having read 31 of 45 Nebula winners. This one was harder to find, so I bought it used off Amazon. That worked pretty well, since I was under no pressure to return in to the library. I could read it a few chapters at a time, as parenting permitted. As it turned out, I finished the second half on a fairly empty flight back from New Orleans, as we were able to spread out and both kids slept most of the flight.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Decline and Fall of the Android's Dungeon

Here's a graph of the number of posts to this blog by year.  As I commented in one of my (rare) posts last year, over time, there's been more non-blog outlets for my random thoughts.  21 is pretty low, though, even given the significant life disruptions of 2010.  I'll try to do better this year, even if it means including goofy, "meta" posts like this one.

Thanks to the Department of Education for helping me create this graph.  Your tax dollars at work!