Archive: June, 2006

Computer Training… The Blind Leading the Blind

At least I wish I were blind after having seen this beautiful design job advertising some free computer training being offered to residents in my apartment complex. Computer without a mouse? A backwards @ symbol? A long hole where the space bar ought to be?

I guess you get what you pay for.

Computer Class Flyer

Power Failure Fosters Neighborhood Bonding

Last week we received a letter from the power company that there would be a scheduled power outage tonight starting at 11:00pm. Well, I put it on my calendar and promptly forgot about it. Krissy was already asleep when it happened, but I was listening to the FLOSS Weekly podcast when all the lights went out as far as I could see out the window. The electric company had brought their own lights to see what they were working on, and that was the only light around. Shortly after the lights went out I went on the balcony with a flashlight. I was not the only one who had this idea, however.

When I started flashing the flashlight onto the field across the way I saw another beam of light originating from another balcony in my building. When I moved my light, the other light followed. No matter where I went the other light tried to “catch” mine. I tried all sorts of silly little things. I spun the flashlight over my head like I was a lighthouse. That really seemed to confuse them. Just when they thought they knew what to expect, I started going the other direction. It all sounds so silly now, but when everyone in a neighborhood all experiences boredom simultaneously it’s like everyone’s a kid again.

You aren’t having fun? Make up a game!

Eerie light from the poer company workers.

Are Flash Ads More Fun than Real Games?

I’m sitting in the computer lab at Palomar College. I just witnessed something so ridiculous that I could hardly believe my eyes. Everyone already knows that 95.7% of computer lab usage is checking MySpace. Although that’s ridiculous, that’s not news. While I was reading digg doing my homework I was interrupted, as is so often the case, by the rapid mouse clicking associated with playing a stupid flash game. Rapid keyboard activity can indicate work (or blogging), but mouse clicks can only be one thing. Usually when this happens to me the person doing the clicking is in a position that doesn’t allow me to see what they are doing. This time was different.

The girl behind me was clicking furiously for about 15 seconds followed by hushed rejoicing in her rapid-fire mousing abilities. It was so annoying that I had to see what all the noise was about. When I turned around to look I was astonished. She wasn’t playing a game. She was on MySpace! For those of us with the AdBlock firefox extension installed: MySpace is covered with little flash ads that you can’t see. These ads promise things like free ringtones as rewards for winning virtual tug of war contests. You “win” by clicking a red button on the screen fast enough that the rope puller overtakes his opponent. I say “win” because your reward for participating in this game is a popup ad. That’s right, a popup. People are playing games where you click forever just to get to an advertisement. But it doesn’t end there.

It soon became apparent that this girl knew what she was doing. She was having so much fun that she would click until her reward came. She would then immediately click the close box on the popup, reload the page, and play the next “game.” Apparently there are multiple “click here a thousand times and get a popup” games. The gameplay is identical, but the animations are different.

This takes me back to my original question. I always assumed that no one ever fell for the old “get a free NAME_OF_PRODUCT by (swatting_the_fly | shooting_the_prairie_dog | mashing_the_mouse_button)” routine. By the looks of things, those games are so fun that people will endure the ads just to keep playing them.

What has the internet come to?