Saturday, September 23, 2006


A new idea in interactive story telling, storytron may become a successful way of creating more interesting, more dynamic computer games.

Here is a clip from their overview:

Storytronics - Lots of Both Story and Interactivity

Even though Storytronics has the strengths of both the previously described methods[branching narrative & narrative games], and the weaknesses of neither, it is not "the best of both worlds" - it is a radically new paradigm that redefines everything. The basic concept in Storytronics is that interactive storytelling is first an interactive experience - that is, it is not an experience where the player's main role is to read text or watch footage, sometimes getting the attractive opportunity to "choose the lesser of two evils". It is an experience where the player has volition, and is at liberty not merely to choose between narrative possibilities, but to behave in whichever way he or she likes, thus freely directing the course of the drama. The computer-controlled characters, likewise, behave according to their unique personalities, reacting dynamically to the player's behavior.

This is made possible using the concept of the Verb. Storytronics uses Verbs to define what may happen in interactive storytelling. Each Verb represents one possible dramatic action, like a kiss, a demand, or an advice. Once a Verb has been defined, it may be used indefinitely. For example, once a single Verb Kiss is defined, any character will be able to kiss any other. Depending on the context and the Adverb used, this kiss could also mean several different things, from a friendly greeting to a statement of reverence to a passionate lovemaking, or even a murderous act (think Judas). When more than a thousand Verbs are used together, the richness of possible behaviors stretches across horizons. When each Verb also defines what kinds of consequences it has and what reactions it may warrant, these possibilities can be organized into complex cause-and-effect relationships that allow the interaction to maintain a coherent and narrative form, no matter how adventurous the player's behavior.

Best in show

Katie won best in show at our local Four Town Fair for her horse drawing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

site work is done and we have a front yard!

No more pile in the front yard. See pic below.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

goat peak

Went up to Goat Peak today. Perfect conditions to see lots of hawks on the annual fall migration south, but saw very little. Two redtails, two Cooper's, and an immature eagle. Perhaps it's too early. However, the camaraderie of those of us on the tower made it all worthwhile.

The view of the holyoke range is to the northwest from where the hawks are supposed to come.
The photo of the tower was hard to take because of all the leaves are still on the trees.


Our house is nearly sided. One month to go.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

David Foster Wallace

Just read his piece on tennis in the NYT. Amazing writer, but infuriating too as he makes half his points in huge footnotes. Am most interested in his views on irony. See the Wikipedia treatment below:

Wallace's fiction is often concerned with what he considers the prevalent contemporary mode of irony, which he believes hinders and complicates authentic communication in fiction and culture as a whole. His essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," originally published in the small-circulation Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1993, pointed out the often corrosively ironic effect of television's influence on fiction writing, and urged literary authors to avoid irony's many pitfalls. Wallace himself does use many different forms of irony in his work but he also focuses on individuals' continued longing for earnest unselfconscious experience and communication in a deeply self-conscious, cynical, media-saturated society.

Sold my first story!

Sold my first story. We'll see what comes of all that.

Entered a contest. I get feedback in a couple of months; winners to be published Feb 2007.

Memory molecule

For those of us approaching our senior years and having senior moments, the following article will be of interest. Apparently, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you can erase memories and replace them later. Perhaps there is hope after all for those of us who enter a room and can't remember why we are there.

Scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have discovered a molecular mechanism that maintains memories in the brain. In an article in Science magazine, they demonstrate that by inhibiting the molecule they can erase long-term memories, much as you might erase a computer disc.

Furthermore, erasing the memory from the brain does not prevent the ability to re-learn the memory, much as a cleaned computer disc may be re-used. This finding may some day have applications in treating chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss, among other conditions.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

6 weeks out

We are six weeks out from moving into our house. The siding has started, so pics to come when siding complete.

99 mpg

Gotta love this guy!
This is the future: he's tweaked the Honda Insight hybrid so that you can manually control the gas engine/electric engine combo. Most hybrids are designed to conserve battery life, so they use the electric powertrain less. He says you can easily use it more or charge the battery more when going downhill, and get 50 mpg.
By adding a small extra wheel, you can have the electric powertrain run that only during highway cruising and get 99mpg!
It appears that Toyota and perhaps other manufacturers are going to do something like this, now that it is easy and battery life has been proven.
The gentleman is a contracting engineer doing this in his spare time. You can order kits to modify the Insight from here:

Here is his photo: