Weekend Reading CXI

by uber

The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design (or, Why Ron Gilbert Hated Adventure Games)

Adventure games need the perception of fairness even more than puzzle/action games or passive narratives. One slight issue with this article for me is that while he lionises the Infocom text adventures like HHGttG, those games certainly broke many of the rules, as anyone who failed to

feed dog sandwich

will know.

A Point of View: Phoneless in Paris

The recent bank holiday weekend included a trip to a wedding, a race and quite a lot of driving. All of these things were executed without my phone, because our office was shut in an unexpected and rushed manner on the preceding Friday. My conclusion is that I am perfectly capable of operating without my phone, but the loss of photos, the inconvenience of being unreachable, and the lack of a runkeeper log all are missed opportunities that I would be richer if I had had. Fortunately my co-attendees took wonderful photos, I benefited from passengers navigating and the race was, for the first time for me, an organised one with official time keeping.
That all being said, I will certainly try and check more carefully for it next time.


15% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they?

The Irish figures for 2014 are here, and here. I’m most interested in the people in the lower age brackets who have not used the internet. In particular, how many people between 30 and 59 are there who are employed but have never used the internet? What jobs do they do?

Smart phones have greatly widened access to the internet, I suspect. There are, I am sure, many households which don’t own a desktop or laptop computer, and may not have a phone line, but where the family members do have phones with data. I imagine, but don’t know, that this will be a way to close the number of non-users to an even smaller final value. I also imagine there will always be a final hold-out few.

Thirteen Months of Working, Eating, and Sleeping at the Googleplex

I live in close proximity to where I work, with the express objective of avoiding commuting. I grew to dread the long bus journeys when I was a student, spending hours and hours stuck in the discomfort of too-short seats. I am now moving jobs, and facing a thirty minute bus journey, or some other means. It will be interesting to see what the resulting effect is on my behaviour of having a clear fire-break between work and home.


Money, Lust and Kung Fu: Shaolin’s ‘C.E.O. Monk’ Is Under Fire

From the German ‘Bishop of Bling‘, to the Patriarch’s disappearing watch, the lure of gold is often too strong for holy men, it seems.


Jonathan Sumption: the brain of Britain

Rumpole of the Bailey was John Mortimer’s brilliant effort to make visible to the public the opaque and confusing web of tradition, custom, law and superstition that is the English Bar. There are almost too many useful quotes to pull out from the profile below that illustrate this, but three that most caught my eye:

  1. “There was no law in it,” Sumption recalled. “It was all fact. A swearing match about what had or hadn’t happened in about half a dozen meetings, some of which may or may not have occurred.”
  2. The supreme court has 12 judges. Ten are privately educated; 11 are white men. For Sumption this is lamentable, but the way of things. The law is a rigorous profession that is bound to produce an elite at its summit. “Any group of the most talented people of their generation is going to be unrepresentative.” — Compare the US Supreme Court or the Irish Court
  3. “A good example is [the publication of] Prince Charles’s letters,” explained Sumption. “The public thinks the case is about whether Prince Charles ought to be exposed; actually it’s a case about whether the government has the right to veto the decision of a tribunal.” In this way, said Sumption, “a lot of important constitutional changes happen by accident, because the judges are looking at the law on a fairly technical level. The public is looking at the outcome.”


For a less reverential profile of Lord Sumption, Joshua Rosenberg‘s profile is worth reading.