Archive for Random Thoughts

Halo and Clever Kids

I don’t mind the game. Honestly, I don’t. I’m a science fiction and fantasy fan, so really, the basic premise is fine. And of course, who doesn’t want to be an amazing “fighter/warrior/marine,” the underdog, who takes on the Covenant, one mission at a time, one day of reckoning after another? Looks like some kind of fun.

That is, until last week when suddenly, out of fourteen computers on our main floor in the library, there were 12 kids who were playing Halo on our computers. . . . against each other.

How did they do that? That kind of game would normally bring our bandwidth to its knees.

So here were all these middle and high school boys (ok, there was one girl) on our computers and the place was quiet, too quiet? apparently, they were either using headsets or they simply played without the sound. That’s a lot of shooting; I thought the gun sounds were part of the fun.

Anywayyyyy, as much as I enjoyed having the kids, I had to find out how they were accomplishing this feat. It turned out that one (or more of them) had figured out how to get the game on a thumb drive, download it temporarily onto a computer and then the rest of the kids would access the game through our local LAN. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible.

I called our computer department to give them a heads up and sure enough, a few days later I got the verdict: although the kids hadn’t done any damage to our network yet, the chance for a virus to piggyback onto an illegal bootleg copy of the game was high. The kids had to cease and desist.

In a way, I felt bad. They were having a blast. I even heard kids saying, with shocked voices, “Wow, man, we were playing Halo at the library!” Yes, for those few days, the buzz was big, and the library was a cool place to go.

Gotta figure out how to capture that excitement legally. Sigh.


Helpful Censor

I’ve seen a lot of different types of censorship in the library, from a patron demanding that a book be removed from the shelves, to permanent markings through objectionable words, to pictures cut out of books. But, this is the first time I’ve seen a “helpful censor” use correction tape to cover over the the words and phrases and then, in several cases, offer “better” word choices.

The one book brought to my attention was the Spiderwick Chronicles. Now, just off the top, I couldn’t remember anything particularly dicey in this series, so I was surprised when our children’s librarian came forward with the evidence.

Here are some specific (and apparently, hotly contested) examples of impropriety:

  • divorce was replaced with the words, “had moved.”
  • crappier was replaced with “only older.”
  • candy butt was simply covered up.
  • “Crap” said Jered was replaced with “Jered was looking around.”
  • not as crappy was replaced with “older Mallory but nearly…” and,
  • “Oh Crap!” was simply covered up.

I guess I’m appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the censor for using correction tape that could be peeled off again bringing the book back to its savage original.

But, I do worry, what will we find when the young reader wants to graduate to something really deleterious like “It’s Not the Stork” or “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.”

What is a Virtual World?

I picked this up from my Second Life class this week and I didn’t want to forget it:

“… an expansive, world-like, large group environment made by humans, for humans, and which is maintained, recorded, and rendered by a computer.” (p. 11, Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games by Edward Castronova.)


Here's what's funny. We're moving toward "innovation" but so far, it pretty much looks/feels the same. I mean, if you want to promote innovation, shouldn't the "way" you get there be innovative? Committees, training, talking… promoting, kvetching, more training… it's the same old song. We need to do something wild!