The perfect game in the perfect place at the perfect time for the perfect price.

When I move house there’s a little few weeks of time elapsing before I get off my arse and figure out how to set up an internet connection. This usually doesn’t matter much as I’ll be busy with other stuff, but once I’ve sat on a cardboard box to watch the 2003 Australian Idol final for the 8th time I start to want the internet and open up a browser. Of course, without a connection, chrome gives me a cute pixelated dinosaur and a cactus, telling me that my internet is all dried up like a desert or extinct reptile respectively.

I had seen this image for years before a friend mentioned it being a game. “WHAAAAAT” I whispered incredulously. This was amazing news. All I had to do was press space bar and suddenly my cute little friends came to life. The mechanic is simple. Dinosaur runs through desert toward cactus, press space to jump over cactus, repeat for high score and rejoice. There’s just enough variety and challenge as you play to keep you interested too. The little dino speeds up and some pterodactyls pop up as day turns to night. It’s all quite charming.

And before you know it you’ve probably got you’re sketchy free wifi access back and the internet returns without a hitch. Lovely. Without even having to ask or pay this little game pops up right where and when its meant too. This happens from time to time with computers and it got me thinking about other examples. Snake on old uranium-green-back-lit brick phones is a good example. You had your phone with you and you couldn’t afford a pay as you go text thread with your one friend during an awkward train ride so you looked like you were still texting while actually just playing snake. So sneaky. The little pixels moving around and eating while getting a little harder each time was just enough to keep you going at the right time.

Then there’s minesweeper. Windows was an expensive and fancy acquisition in the late nineties/early naughties so you would fire up your new computer, wait patiently for the OS to boot and then explore how many amazing things your new “ELECTRONIC COMPUTATOR” was capable of. The Windows system still tried to sell itself back then. You had all the inbuilt things like paint, wordpad, explorer and GaMeS!!. Like it still does, except for the games. The games, as far as I could tell, were just there because they’re great, why not include them. They were an essential part of office procrastination capability. Minesweeper and solitaire were clever little things you could leave in a minimised window at any time, come back to and puzzle over. Visually unobtrusive while still prettier than Sudoku. They showed that this machine can support games as well I guess, advertising. But really they were just this fantastic given.

Maybe with the internet and browsers as a given people just relied on flash games more and more until good old minesweeper seemed obsolete. Though something was lost with it’s departure, that sense of complementary service and feeling of buying into an exciting new world with the tech you were using. Cue the rise of the chrome dino.

-W

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For Those In the Know

You’re having a conversation. Someone says something which you know is factually incorrect. What do you do?

long necked turtle

Eastern Long-Necked Turtle. image taken from flickr.com

A couple of days ago, for instance, I was taking a walk with a few people, taking in the health benefits of sunburn and sweat collection. We chanced upon some long-necked turtles in an artificial, desperately-trying-to-look-natural lake and, naturally, started discussing them. One of our group identified them as terrapins. For those who didn’t know, I live in Australia, which would make this quite an extraordinary find. Doing my duty as a Biology graduate, I pointed out their long necks, the fact that they were larger, the fact that they were swimming more slowly, and, of course, the fact that we were a little far away from their home by mere tens of thousands of kilometres.

terrapin

Terrapin. image taken from ct.gov

“No, I’m pretty sure they’re terrapins.”

What does one do at this point? I’ll tell you what I did. As a trained non-jerk, I sat there silently, as I had taught myself to do many years before, listening to him talk knowledgeably about terrapins, how they sat at the bottom of the lake with their mouths open waiting for fish, whilst I slowly imploded. Physicists are currently perplexed as to how black holes, like the one I’ve become, can have the sentient thought required to write blogs. I, however, am still wondering how someone can manage to incorporate three different species of turtle into one painfully stupid explanation. As an animal lover, my dad’s explanation later that this guy had most likely never seen turtles outside the dinner table and probably thought they were all the same did not help.

alligator snapping turtle

Alligator Snapping Turtle. image taken from wikipedia.org

Non-biology-inclined readers will probably be wondering at this point why I care so much. I will admit, perhaps this time I was a little biased; that same person had, only hours before, said my dad’s house reeked of cat piss, quite matter-of-factly, in those words. But there is a wider point to all of this. Everyone’s had that conversation where someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about, through dumb luck, obtained the mic. My dad, for instance, has many similar experiences in conversations about power tools. “Mate, you paid too much for that drill, I got mine for X, and all it cost me was that lithium battery…” happens quite often, to which he apparently walks off, laughs, and cries, all in one action. My mum (a Chinese historian), upon my question as to whether Chinese wives not taking their husbands’ surnames indicated less societal sexism, unleashed a tirade about my naivety so vehement I try not to ask her about Chinese history at all now.

This sort of thing is especially noticeable in a political conversation. For instance, I think that Reclaim Australia is factually a bunch of racists cunningly disguised as slightly less racist racists, so if someone talks about them with so much as a tone of sympathy, I treat them with the same derision as I did Mr Alligator-Snapping-Long-Necked Terrapin. For me, and I suspect far more others than the vocal few realise, these conversations end with my sitting there silently, pretending to be defeated so as to kill the conversation as quickly as possible, all the while becoming an even denser black hole.

Groan-man-statue.fw_

What can you do but sit there and bear it? image taken from johnparkerlive.com

So, people say stupid things. What do we do about it? Well, most of you will probably tell me to suck it up, and who knows, you’re probably right. But it’s not being on the receiving end of mind-numbingly incorrect statements that worries me (well, I guess it worries me a little). What if I end up being the guy giving those statements? What if I thought I was discussing Neoliberalism when I was actually talking about bunny rabbits? Everyone would, like me, be too awkward to say anything, and I’d never know I’d made an ass of myself. Hell, I’ve probably already been Turtle Man without realising. Clearly, societal change is needed. I need people to start calling out my stupidity, and to do the same to others, or else Turtle Men will continue to plague conversation and the resulting implosion-generated black holes will destroy our planet. This is big, people!

But, you know, you do it, not me. I don’t want to be a jerk or anything.

Happy new year guys.

-Z