Where the Rest of Us Sit

March 31, 2008

Like Prof. Graff I too attended opening day at the new Nationals Stadium. There was one big difference though. Take a peek at my photos100_0549.jpgHere’s an example of the view from where I was seated. Now here’s the view from behind us.100_0540.jpg  Yes, there were no rows behind us… only fence. Even through the wind and cold we still managed to pose with Teddy.100_0530.jpg  Go Nats! 

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Blogging Anyone?

March 28, 2008

What do blogs and St. Lucia have in common? The answer would be cricket. Out of the 11 posts on Globalvoicesonline 3 of them involved cricket. The most recent discussed how the hey day of cricket had passed in the Caribbean. There are no great stars as there once were. This does not seem to have put a damper on the love of the sport though. Two more earlier blogs also discussed cricket. One discussed a local game ending with information on when the national season started. Yet another blog on cricket discussed a volcanic disturbance. The most frightening part of the eruption though didn’t seem to be damage to person or home but instead the possibility that the cricket game scheduled for the island might not happen. It was an historic event since St. Kitts had never before hosted an international cricket match. The volcano, however, had erupted many times before making it commonplace.  I guess it’s just about what you’re used to.

 

Another topic discussed was a Caribbean blogging roundtable. It basically sounded like our Social Media course in a nutshell. A podcast started the presentation followed by a google search, setting up a blog, and discussion of various social media outlets. They discussed Flickr, Technorati, Wikipedia, and RSS feeds. Sound familiar to any of you out there? It seems, in a nutshell, that the conference was discussing the importance of web 2.0 and how blogging could help define the Caribbean culture to outsiders.

 The most recent Global Voices blog on St. Lucia was during April 26, 2007 so I’m not sure how well the roundtable spread its message.

So, after our class on MMOGs I decided to give Second Life another chance. The first thing I decided to do was use a newer computer. I had been booted off when using my older one. This definitely helped. Movement was a lot easier. I think since the other computer was a bit sluggish it was having problems following what I was doing. That out of the way I started wandering a bit. Then I got lost. I ran into some people and they teleported me to a newbie area. While in this area I ran into a helpful soul. My new buddy taught me how to control my walking and flying. He, I think it was a he, taught me how to teleport and offer teleportation to others. I also learned how to right click my apple computer by using the apple key and click. Doing this I was able to click objects to buy them.

 

One thing I loved doing was shopping. I enjoy this in my first life but in Second Life I can do it for free. I went crazy at Freebie Beach. The fact that everything isn’t free was a bit sad but I soon got over it. I went on a shopping spree and had fun trying things on. I spent a lot of time on my appearance because I managed to mess up my face. Something is just out of whack. Then I decided that I didn’t really care. At one point I had long hair, a hat, and then shorter hair on top of that. Not sure where I learned to dress myself.

 

As for exploration it was okay but I didn’t find too much. One island had some pretty scenery and a carousel. I jumped on and road around then did some scuba diving and took a ride on a raft. Basically, what it all boils down to is that I had off last week and was kind of bored so with time on my hands I decided to waste some. It was a great time consumer. In fact my laptop started to heat up since I was exploring so much.

To me Second Life seems kind of like a chat room with graphics for a lot of people. For me though it was more like Fashion Plates a game that I played when I was growing up where you stencil different outfits. I just enjoyed playing dress up. In fact, so much so, that I think I upset some people by not answering them since I was so into myself.

Red Crossed Wiki

March 23, 2008

So, I decided to check out the American Red Cross on Wikiscanner. I picked them because they call me constantly. One of my friends likened them to the mafia. Once you’re in you’re in for life. They’re always looking for blood, my blood. There are tons of IP addresses for them so I concentrated on the national headquarters. The first thing that I checked out were changes made to their own Wikipedia entry. The most interesting thing that I found is that they deleted this sentence from their entry. “The Red Cross has had several controversies surrounding their blood program in which the center mishandled donated blood.” As employees of the Red Cross I can see how they might not want this little tidbit out there. What’s interesting is that there is a warning on top  of the article stating that it might not be written using neutral point of view. If they let some dissent in maybe people would be a little easier on the entry. 

 

They are also interested in Somali tribes of Africa. With these entries they seemed to make small changes but again many of them seemed to have some problems with neutral point of view. It mentions the “best leader ever in the Rahanweyn clan.” This entry grammatically leaves much to be desired. It also has a warning that it may not meet with Wikipedia’s standards.

 

South Carolina, especially Columbia is represented with over 100 entries. The changes range from fixing grammar to adding new information. History to revitalization is covered. Someone there cares an awful lot about Columbia. Now, I’m only guessing  but I’m pretty sure that these entries were made  by employees in the Central South Carolina Chapter located, you guessed it, in Columbia.

 

They also are watchdogs for Wikipedia getting rid of vandalism in the Jennifer Lopez entry (they removed an entry saying that she has a big butt but not in those words) and participating in the vote for deletion May 2004 page. One of my favorite edits is to The Flavor of Love. You know, the show about Flavor flave looking for love. They corrected an incorrect fact. Kentucky Fried Chicken comes in a bucket not a bowl. These flawed facts cannot be allowed to remain on Wikipedia pages. Thank goodness The Red Cross cares enough to fix them for us. 

I Love Cupcakes Too

March 21, 2008

 

 

After reading about the cupcake challenge on Minty Musings I decided to share my own cupcake taste test results. I must admit that I haven’t tried cupcakes from either of the places mentioned in the quest. I instead would like to add another Washington D.C. cupcake institution to the list. I’ve spent many an evening enjoying a baked treat from Cake Love. I first found out about it from the Food Network. They ranted and raved about how good the icing was. My first taste was on my birthday last year. I tried two different flavored cakes and icings. While the chocolate cake was good but a bit dry the white cake was perfect. It was very moist as a good cupcake should be. The icing, on the other hand, was wonderful. The topping is light and fluffy, not heavy as some butter creams can be. It is also not too sweet so it doesn’t overpower you. The best combination is the white cake with strawberry icing. It has small pieces of strawberries in the frosting.    

 

I’d also like to expand the horizons of the great cupcake challenge by taking it to NYC. I’ve tried two different places there. The first is Crumbs. The cupcakes there are like mini cakes. They are great for sharing due to their large size. All of the cakes are very moist and the toppings are very involved. Some have pieces of chocolate bars in them along with other treats. Strawberry jam or liquid chocolate can be found in others. If you’re in the mood for a light snack they are not the way to go. There are some regular sized ones but who wants that when you have the variety of the larger ones. The biggest problem is remembering to stop when you’re full.   

 

The third place that I’ve tried is Magnolia Bakery. Now this one was a surprising disappointment. The opening was eagerly awaited and the lines were long. After purchasing our treats we headed to Central Park to enjoy. Interesting enough red velvet cake was among our choices. The frosting on this one was okay being light and not too sweet but the cake was overcooked. Thinking it was an anomaly we tried the second one. This one was white cake with some sort of colorful blue frosting. The cake was also dry and the icing was sickeningly sweet. A dud to be sure. If you try out Cake Love on U street let me know how you like it. Don’t forget to grab a chili dog at Ben’s Chili Bowlwhile you’re in the area. 

Hoya oh Boya

March 18, 2008

The Big East was never something that I thought I’d have an interest in. You see, my undergraduate career was spent at SUNY Binghamton and we weren’t known for our sports teams. Our ice hockey team was in fact disbanded after my freshman year. Since I wasn’t very in to sports it wasn’t such a big deal. Now Georgetown is a different story. When people found out that I was going here they all wanted tickets for basketball games. Well, when my fiancé mentioned getting tickets for the tournament in NYC I was excited.

 

We walked in to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. The school band was playing and fans were yelling Hoya Saxa! Pretty good so far. The game was fast paced and every basket was exciting. The problem was that every foul was disappointing. I was so looking forward to reliving my college days for a moment and the Hoyas lost. Part of the problem was the vast number of fouls. Fortunately Pitt’s player weren’t that great at shooting them. As the end neared we were only 5 points behind and then another foul. Urrggghhh, I was very sad. I do have to say that there was a lot of spirit coming from the band and those sitting behind them. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to try another game.

Not a Player

March 16, 2008

So, I tried out some of the games at persuasive games this weekend. I played Points of Entry, Bacteria Salad, Airport Security, and The Howard Dean for Iowa games. Now, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I either couldn’t figure them out or just plain stunk. I am not a gamer. In fact, I was extremely nervous and agitated while trying to play the games. I was just stressed out and felt like an idiot since they made no sense. For me Points of Entry was the easiest to understand. You just cycle through qualifications for immigration to the United States. Each item such as education or knowledge of English has a certain point score. You need to beat your opponent, the computer, and let in more immigrants. The problem, it just wasn’t fun. I think the time limit just makes me uncomfortable. I felt rushed in going through the qualifications. Does the point get across? Yes, I think it does. I learned what were considered the most important details in an immigrants background according to some proposed immigration legislation. There were also links in another tab to New York Times articles related to the subject. If I was used to playing video games I might have gotten more out of it.

The next game Bacteria Salad just baffled me. I had not idea how to play it at all. If it was trying to relay the point that the larger the farm you have the harder it is to keep watch on your crops it worked I guess. I just had no idea about what was going on. As for Airport Security I also couldn’t play the game. I kept clicking on the wrong clothing items and before I knew it all of my people were naked. I don’t think you can undo it if you remove the wrong article of clothing. It just made me nervous to the extreme. I’m sure it got its point across that in the world of security what is allowed is always changing and it’s hard to keep up with guidelines. I can see how the lines got longer and less clothed. I’m sure everyone out there is thanking their lucky stars that I am not a security gaurd. As for The Howard Dean for Iowa game I had the same problems. If I was knowledgeable about video games it would have had more impact on me. I might have been able to make a difference in the primaries. I just couldn’t figure out how to move my lady with the sign to wave it at other people. 

One game that I do like, please try not the laugh, is Typer Shark on Popcap. Basically, a bunch of sharks and piranhas swim by with words on them that you have to type before they eat you. I’m an okay typist so I can do really well when I play this game. In fact, I was gaining lives and doing great until the keyboard on the computer that I was using went kaput. I even did a little experiment. My fiance, who is an avid video game player, tried the airport security game. He did great. No one was wandering around naked after he got through with them. I think he was even enjoying it. When he watched me play my lack of skill even made him become nervous. I then made him try Typer Shark and he bombed. It was just not fun for him at all.

So, in conclusion, I am not a player. Though, before I go, in the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that Pac Man always stressed me out since I don’t like being chased after.

Oh, before I forget, here’s my quick take on Second Life. I thought it really seemed silly at first. I mean who is going to spend hard earned cash to clothe a computer figure? To me this just doesn’t make much sense. When I read about how people are able to conduct meetings, teach students or listen to concerts I was able to understand how it might be useful to me. It would be a good way to video conference with a lot of people at the same time. The people are animated characters but behind the keyboards are real people listening and learning. I like this concept. It also seems less stressful than other online games.

Part of the charm of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. If it were too stringent about who is an expert and who isn’t it wouldn’t be a completely collaborative effort. In Wikinomics we learned that the “experts” don’t always have all of the answers. Some unlikely sources can have the most knowledge. In The Wisdom of Crowds we also learn that crowds are more intelligent than the individuals in the group. If we narrow down who can edit a wiki we make the group smaller and potentially less intelligent. No one wants a dumb down.

 

Also, who decides what makes an expert? Would it be the cofounder, Jimmy Wales, who just broke up with his girlfriend on the site? Now that makes me feel less than confident about his decision making abilities. Can we trust a site that was created by someone who would mistreat it or did this just prove that collaboration works because he was called on it.

 

This brings us to another point. Which is more trustworthy Wikipedia or an expert based encyclopedia. This is a tough one. My first thought is the hard copy is the best way to go. I mean I grew up with rows of encyclopedias. I was a crazy hard copy researcher. The library was my home away from home. It’s hard to break an old habit. Now, I don’t think anyone is sneaking in snarky comments in one of these expensive tombs. On the other hand since they’re updated in order to get the new information you need to keep spending money to be in the know. This would become a very expensive proposition.

 

Wikipedia, on the other hand is updated constantly. The updated version of the site is still free. Making it more cost effective. It also has the potential of being much more up to date than the hard copy since it can be changed so quickly. No printing presses needed here. Yes, people can be mean and spiteful in what they write but when other eyes are looking over your shoulder it becomes more difficult to make it stick. Again the beauty and safety of Wikipedia comes from its numbers. Fewer people, experts only, would mean there would be more chance of problems. I just don’t know. If all of the theories are correct the choice should be Wikipedia but I just can’t make that commitment. So I’ll have to wait and see how I feel after we discuss it in class.