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Profile for Benhamish Allen > Reviews


Benhamish Allen's Profile

Customer Reviews: 9
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Benhamish Allen "If there is nothing to steal there can be no thieves" RSS Feed (Oregon)

Page: 1
Tweet: One guy can't change the world - good thing that Glebe didn't know that
Tweet: One guy can't change the world - good thing that Glebe didn't know that
Price: $4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spare some change?, April 1, 2011
Tweet is very fast paced and I laughed a few times. A single laugh is priceless, and Tweet is only 3.99 at the time of this writing. (138)

In the age of instantaneous global communication, who doesn't wonder at the implications of a single message having the power to change the world? But what exactly should be changed? Change itself? According to Gaiti, Tweet,

" about change--and the individual's (in)ability to fight back against the large companies and government. It's also about excessive consumerism and how the advertising and marketing companies are infiltrating every part of our lives."

Tweet seeks to answer our questions about change and does so on the border of being fantastically absurd while also humorous, one of my favorite combinations.

Although the books description does mention the use of multiple Tweets, Glebe the protoganist only Tweets a handful of times in the story. According to Gaiti,

"Tweeting (website, napkins) are only the vehicles Glebe uses to make change-it is not the subject of the story (regardless of the title). Glebe's understanding and very basic views of Twitter et al are within the nature of the character. He is not totally adept at these tools--in fact, he is a neophyte-and his actions and reactions support this. Glebe is entering a world which he has not really played in before."

Glebe is the only fully developed character in Tweet, his friends and acquaintances seem to be props, there to help Glebe realize his goals. The stereotypical office manager for instance who cannot hear anything that Glebe says and is only concerned with himself. The supporting characters exaggerated actions were frequently funny though and occasionally quite plausible.

Hartwick, Glebe's friend that he meets on the street is the most interesting character in the story, and Glebe knows this, often wondering what exactly is it that motivates Hartwick. But that is about as far as Glebe goes in understanding the motivations behind Hartwick. Glebe is oftentimes more concerned with his own romantic life or lack thereof, an interesting subplot but one that seemed to distract Glebe from the main thrust of his quest.

Gaiti experiments with product placement in Tweet, naming a few brands in the beginning of the book. Done so in jest to be sure, but Glebe does work in the advertising business and placing advertisements in ebooks is an idea under consideration in some circles, so at least in this realm Gaiti has some prescience.

Tweet is at it's best on the street, with Glebe spreading his message through the use of cocktail napkins and hand painted signs. The thinness of the description behind the messages made me wonder if Tweet was actually a sarcastic look at the importance that many people place on their social internet experiences. But perhaps I am just reading too much into Tweet.

Messermeister Pro-Touch Jumbo Garlic Press
Messermeister Pro-Touch Jumbo Garlic Press
Price: $16.92
3 used & new from $16.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last garlic press you'll ever buy, March 9, 2011
I bought mine about 6 years ago. It is extremely durable. Two solid pieces of metal connected by a durable hinge. The plastic handles are removable to allow for ease of cleaning.

There is space for one large clove, or two smaller ones.

A bit of force is necessary to force the garlic through this press.

Fun to use!!

Price: $0.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressionistic Revelations, February 14, 2011
This review is from: Fixture (Kindle Edition)
I had just recently begun my journey into the land of digital fiction. So much to wade through, so much to think about.

I came across Fixture one night and was enthralled by the theme. It is hard to describe the Fixture, that's a quote from the story actually but it is applicable to the story itself. In this way perhaps we can begin to understand what the Fixture means.

The Fixture isn't done yet, but in an infinite universe can anything ever be called complete? The story is quite readable and I do think it might even give most of us something to think about, perhaps rather deeply. Which is my favorite mode of thought.

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
by Jane McGonigal
Edition: Hardcover
131 used & new from $2.84

27 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reality is the Only Game, February 11, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In the first chapter of Reality is Broken, Why Games Make Us Better and How They can Change the World Jane McGonical outlines her own definition of what a game actually is. She believes all games share four defining traits.

1. The goal, the specific outcome that players will work to achieve, the goal provides players with a sense of purpose.

2. The rules place limitations on how players can achieve the goal. By removing or limiting the obvious ways of getting to the goal, the rules push players to explore previously uncharted possibility spaces, the rules unleash creativity and foster strategic thinking.

3. The feedback system tells players how close they are to achieving the goal.

4. Voluntary participation requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback. Knowingness establishes common ground for people to play together.

Those four things make for a nice list, but they make for a complicated game, is McGonical searching for an actual definition for game? Or is she formulating her definition to fit the various games she has created?

Goals can be discarded, Rules can be broken, and participation is always mandatory. But feedback is a central part of The Game, reality as the gaming construct that we all play and bend to our own individual whims, while adjusting our desires based on this feedback.

So McGonical is a little too expansive with her definition but that doesn't mean we should throw the book in the bin, or burn it for warmth. There are definitely some good ideas contained within its pages.

But for the gamer, who has spent a large portion of their lives gaming, McGonical is covering familiar territory. Indeed, the first section of the book reads like a very lengthy review of some of the most popular and expansive games currently available. As well as describing aspects of their design that she regards as important. A description of the Questing system in World of Warcraft, includes this paragraph,

"When you're on a WOW quest, there's never any doubt about what you're supposed to do, or where, or how, It's not a game that emphasizes the puzzle solving or trial-and-error investigation. You simply have to get the job done, and then you will collect your rewards."

It's hard to argue with the popularity of a game like World of Warcraft which boasts more than ten million players, but I wonder if it is the best example to emulate when designing other games, as McGonical has done, and repeatedly in the creation of her many alternate and augmented reality games.

Reality is never predictable, it is always a puzzle, and practically begs us all to learn exclusively by trial and error.

A good portion of the book details some of the concepts behind a few of McGonical's epic games. These are games that McGonical was commissioned to create for a few high profile organizations such as The International Olympic Committee and The World Bank.

The central theme of these works seems to be that of collaboration and cooperativeness. And that instilling a sense of collaboration in people from a young age is going to be essential to the survival of the human species. I tend to agree with McGonical here.

Towards the end of the book McGonical talks about a few of her more recent epic projects, which were designed to foster a sense of collaboration within the crowd, to solve certain theoretical problems such as what to do when the oil runs out. Or designing methods to lengthen humanity's time on planet earth.

When reading about all of these ambitious projects, I couldn't help but think of The World Game, designed by Buckminster Fuller in response to most governments penchant for playing war games. I suppose we could say that McGonical is simply cloning Fuller's games, albeit with a bit more technology attached. Cloning has become an almost standard practice in the games industry so we can't really fault McGonical there. The World Game is the game to play after all.

While reading the numerous descriptions of McGonical's games, the details and complete logs of which can be accessed over the net, I started hoping that one of the games would involve the transformation of reality into a game. You might be saying to yourself that reality is already a game and we are simply the players but I think it would be revealing if all of our workspaces were suddenly turned into gaming constructs. It might be kind of fun don't you think?

I do plan to try a few of the games McGonical has mentioned, thanks for the links.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2011 10:00 PM PDT

Jack Klak: MAESTRO - Paranormal Master
Jack Klak: MAESTRO - Paranormal Master

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Shortest Form, December 19, 2010
This book is written in an interesting style. Single sentence paragraphs in a frenetic present tense, which leaves no room for flowery exposition and instead thrusts the pertinent details right into your cortex. I often wondered while reading though, could the narrative be condensed any further? Into its purest form? Perhaps we will have to wait for the sequel, for Maestro is merely an introduction into the world of Jack Klak, the leader of a super secretive organization within the government responsible for keeping the citizens safe.

The book begins with a manic description of an escapee from one of Klak's facilities. And then the tale unfolds, told through multiple points of view and spanning a single night. You can't help but flip the pages, and wonder what is coming next.

I look forward to more books in this vein from the author.

The Man Who Knew
The Man Who Knew
Price: $2.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting., December 2, 2010
This review is from: The Man Who Knew (Kindle Edition)
Well this review is based on the sample since that is all I have read. I would like to read more of the book so that is saying something I suppose.

You had me at denial of his own psychic powers lol. This theme isn't very well explored in the literature as far as I know. Jim can ask himself, Is it right to pick the right stocks all the time? And we can ask this question this with him. The sample didn't extend much further than that I'm afraid.

Eros, Philia, Agape: A Tor.Com Original
Eros, Philia, Agape: A Tor.Com Original
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor Little Robot :(, November 30, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This story has an interesting premise but the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere. I'm a fan of interesting premises of course, what would happen if a robot was able to choose its own destiny? Do humans even get to choose this? Perhaps robots, being less connected to the organic will be able to shut themselves off from the world of biochemistry with its infinite array of communication signals and shelter their physical bodies from the influence of other beings. But why would they want to?

What will robot love look like? Perhaps Swirsky is trying to answer this question, definitely a hard one to think about since robots are still just a mind construction. The story barely touches on this topic though. Giving the robot "free will" is a start and mind plasticity is interesting but I would have liked these concepts to be have been explored further.

The Epoch Index
The Epoch Index
Price: $0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twisty Turny, November 30, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Epoch Index (Kindle Edition)
This is the first ebook I bought and I enjoyed reading it :) I agree that a longer story would have been better, the product description describes a world that is only barely sketched in the story. I mostly bought it because I wanted to see what people were charging $0.99 cents for. I probably could have done with one less database search by Quinn, maybe I'm not just the biggest fan of technical scifi?? I realize the database is very key to Quinn though. But I wonder if the database could be made more human, more relateable?

p.s. typo at location 387

No Title Available

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lol energy, September 2, 2008
i drank one of these at 8:40 am and didnt get to sleep until 4 am!! maybe there were other factors involved but, if i drink a cup of coffee at around 5 or 6 pm i dont get to sleep until late as well. anyway my local dollar store sells these for 1.50 so check around. still a bit expensive but ill drink em. berry tastes decent. lemon lime is atrocious.

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