Tag Archives: brainage

Drinking coffee could help to activate your prefrontal cortex

I fin­ished all of the sudoku on Brain Age and all I got was this stu­pid 100% read­out.

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There was no fan­fare, no con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage, noth­ing. Lately, I have only been play­ing the sudoku part of Brain Age — and I have not even been play­ing that all that much.  I really should get back into the other parts of brain train­ing and test­ing.

Posted in: Dear Diary Games

20!

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I did the Brain Age check this morn­ing and it told me I had an age of 76, then said some­thing to the effect of “haha, just kid­ding,” and told me I finally got the per­fect score of 20. I don't know why or how because I did not do spec­tac­u­larly well on the A-1-B-2...M-13 test or the word mem­o­riz­ing test. It also asked me to draw Queen Elizabeth and Henry VIII (both of my draw­ings looked the same, con­sist­ing of a stick fig­ure with a Burger King style crown.)

After hav­ing grown up in south­ern California, in the years that I have lived here I still have not got­ten used to a major­ity of the low-pay, low-skill labor­ers being Russian instead of Mexican. Whether they are tend­ing to a lawn, tak­ing out the trash, or clean­ing the bath­room, it just seems so bizarre to me. I still have no idea how to write “Basura” in Russian.

Similar to the tat­too rule, I think that there is a law in the books some­where that says that in order for a woman between about 20 and 40 to live in Wilsonville or Lake Osweo, they must be trim and phys­i­cally fit. Either that or per­haps the larger women are allowed to live there, but are con­fined to their homes. Seriously, it's like Newport Beach Trophy-Bride Land or some­thing and it sucks because: our com­pany just moved here; I had got­ten not only used to, but quite happy about, the peo­ple of all shapes and sizes that con­sist of the rest of the greater Portland area; and I have to take lunch and run errands close to work.

Posted in: Games Portland

work-planes2

sentence fragments

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New LJ icon. Doesn’t quite cap­ture the evil­ness and mal­ice of the night­mar­ish float­ing poly­gon head of Doctor what’s-his-butt who laughs at your fail­ures. Brain age con­sis­tently between 27 and 31. It asked what I had for din­ner on Tuesday. Answered “spaghetti or salad,” know­ing it was after yoga, instead of the actual answer, red snap­per, which I actu­ally blogged about. Duh.

Rainbow trout is good.

Helped Kim make print ad.

New toys at work. Hope they’re ESD-safe.

Quicktime h.264, 1.2MB, 21 sec­onds

Posted in: Dear Diary Games Work

Need More Coffee

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No brain age today. I feel that if I took the test right now, it would either reg­is­ter zero or 99 or infin­ity or some other out-of-bounds value. Two beers, two cof­fees, live music with Eric from Vagabond and the girl with the it-doesn’t-look-nearly-big-enough-to-be-a-bass elec­tric standup bass, the cool gothic/industrial/burningman guy from two East:Meets:Wests ago that ran around danc­ing with gog­gles, grease, and no shirt (he was fully-clothed, not danc­ing, and full of intel­li­gent and funny con­ver­sa­tion last night, though.) This morn­ing, too tired and full of hurty — that sort of mus­cle fatigue in the extrem­i­ties that you don’t get until you’re no longer 25-and-invincible and you haven’t had enough sleep. I don’t think my brain will work prop­erly until later in the day.

Did any­one else notice that in the famous Magritte paint­ing of the guy with an apple obscur­ing his face (Son of Man), he’s actu­ally sort of peer­ing at you from around the side of the apple? I had heard some­thing about that a cou­ple of months ago, but got around to inves­ti­gat­ing it today. It’s sort of creepy.

Yesterday, I went to have lunch by myself and brought along the Nintendo DS to kill a few min­utes while wait­ing for food, check, etc. After plac­ing my order, I loaded up Animal Crossing. The wait­ress stopped by and was amazed by the size of the DS Lite com­pared to her orig­i­nal DS. When she saw what game I was play­ing, she sat down and we geeked out for a few min­utes. I now have a few more Animal Crossing tips. Later, one of the bus­boys stopped to check out the DS, too.

Posted in: Dear Diary Games

Cajun Brain Indians

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Last night, as I came home from work, Eric unex­pect­edly dropped by the house. Because he would be play­ing for one night only and because my neck is still sore, I skipped out on Yoga. Eric, Brian, Lilah, Kim, and I ended up going to Delta Cafe for some great cajun food. I am actu­ally unsure whether I have had red snap­per before, but found it to be quite tasty when black­ened with a side of red beans and rice and another side of stewed toma­toes and okra.

This morn­ing, my brain age is 31, which is totally accu­rate.

Designing and debug­ging Little-Endian hard­ware while using Big-Endian tools is prov­ing to be dif­fi­cult. Fortunately, the peo­ple pro­vid­ing sup­port for the tools are in our time­zone (i.e. they're not East-Indian.)

Posted in: Food Games Portland Work

Brain, Egg

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Today, my brain age has improved to 27. I don't know if that is because I am now more famil­iar with the tests, took the train­ing before the test, or am just gen­er­ally hav­ing a better/smarter/something day.

This after­noon, I am deal­ing with com­puter issues with an ety­mol­ogy stem­ming back to which end of a boiled egg should be cracked open. I'm also deal­ing with hard­ware issues that have been plagu­ing us for months and which boil (no pun intended) down to an almost imper­cep­ti­bly small “pre prod.” stamp on the com­po­nents in ques­tion. It's nice to be able to say: “Somebody Else's Problem!”

Posted in: Games Work

BRAIIIINNZZZZZ!!!

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So I did my first offi­cial Brain Age train­ing thing this morn­ing. According to Nintendo and Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, I have a brain age of 36. This isn’t too bad, con­sid­er­ing I’m 31. (For those that don’t know, a lower score is bet­ter because a higher score indi­cates a sort of brain atro­phy.) This was before my morn­ing cof­fee, so I do not know if that would have pos­i­tively or adversely affected the score.

I was actu­ally expect­ing worse. Going into this, I knew that I have a great capac­ity for logic, spa­cial rela­tions, and abstract think­ing. These are the sorts of skills I use every day at work. Brain Age, on the other hand, gen­er­ally tests things like mem­ory (short and long term) and sim­ple cal­cu­la­tions in quick suc­ces­sion. These are the things I suck at–the stereo­typ­i­cal Fred McMurray Absent Minded Professor with swiss cheese mem­ory who can intuit boolean alge­braic trans­forms in his head but takes 15 sec­onds to come up with the answer to 7x9 [by count­ing on fin­gers] and can’t remem­ber which night the din­ner party is on.

I rather liked the Stroop Test and like how they used voice recog­ni­tion for the answers. (The Stroop Test is a sort of test where they give you things like “green red black” and you have to say the color of the words, “red blue yel­low” and not what the word says.) I just won­der if slightly blur­ring your vision so that you can barely read the words is cheat­ing? I dis­cov­ered that I almost always have a bit of a brain hic­cup in rec­og­niz­ing the color blue.

I did not par­tic­u­larly care for the “read­ing a pas­sage aloud” test. Speaking out loud to a lit­tle white plas­tic box while sit­ting alone in the room repeat­edly pushed my uncomfortable-self-conscious but­ton. Kim was in the other room and thought I was on the phone.

The mem­ory sort was great. They basi­cally have num­bers on the backs of cards arranged in a pat­tern on the screen. The cards get flipped over for half a sec­ond (lit­er­ally!), then are hid­den again. You have to click the cards in ascend­ing numeric order. I didn’t do too badly, but I didn’t do too well, either.

Memorizing a word list was gru­elling. Two min­utes to stare at a list of words, then a few min­utes to write down all the ones you remem­ber. After a minute of star­ing, I got bored. I really wanted to come up with mnemon­ics or pair­ings or some other sort of mem­ory crutch, but just fell flat.

I would be nice if I could con­tinue with this regime every day. I would be nicer if my mem­ory improved.

Also: in Animal Crossing, I think I need a shovel.
Also also: in Animal Crossing, twice I have seen a pack­age sus­pended from a bal­loon float­ing across the sky. I have tried fol­low­ing it, but it even­tu­ally floats out­side the bounds of my lit­tle city-state. Neither the but­ter­fly net nor fish­ing rod seemed to be able to grab it.

Posted in: Games

Games

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I tend to be a guy who just doesn’t like com­puter and/or con­sole games. I really do not know why. I think partly, it is because my hand-eye coor­di­na­tion is a bit lack­ing. Partly, it is because I would rather be learn­ing, build­ing, and fig­ur­ing things out than play­ing video games. There are a num­ber of notable excep­tions. I always buy all of the Myst games. I loved the 7th Guest and 11th Hour. I also really like the lit­tle partly-logic/partly-skill/partly-luck of what peo­ple are call­ing “causal games”–the sorts of things you can load onto your cell­phone or PDA, then start and fin­ish an entire game in 5–20 min­utes. Every video game I have played has gen­er­ally been on the com­puter or smart­phone.

The long line of game-specific hard­ware I have owned can be summed up with this list: Atari 2600 (late 70’s or early 80’s), Nintendo Entertainment System (1986), GameBoy (1989), Atari 2600 2.0 (1995). End of list.

What kind of weirds me out is that I find that I am get­ting excited about two upcom­ing game-related news items. The first is the Nintendo DS Lite. I have no expla­na­tion for this. The DS has been out for a long time, and I really couldn’t have cared less. The DS Lite is just a smaller ver­sion of the same. Wireless and mul­ti­player sound fun, though. I’m not even sure of the scope of games are avail­able for it; I do feel a lit­tle inter­est in Brain Age (which is less of a game and more of a daily brain exer­cise), the updated Tetris, and... uhhh... well, Opera (the web browser, which isn’t really a game, either.) Animal Crossing sounds like it might be fun, but it will prob­a­bly end up being another The Sims for me: I played that for a week, then got bored because real life is inher­ently a more rich expe­ri­ence than sim­u­lated life.

The sec­ond thing I am excited about is Spore. Previous to yes­ter­day, I knew noth­ing about this, but then Digg filled up with arti­cles about it and a few peo­ple on LiveJournal men­tioned it. I watched the hour-long GDC pre­sen­ta­tion about it and thought to myself, “that looks cool!” I wanted to buy the game, even though the pre­sen­ta­tion was a rough demo and a final ver­sion was obvi­ously months, if not years, away. Later in the day, I saw a video of the 20 minute E3 pre­sen­ta­tion. Only a few months had lapsed between film­ing the two videos and it is already start­ing to look like a fin­ished prod­uct.

So any­way, for those say­ing to them­selves “what the heck is Spore???”, I will attempt to explain. It is sort of a game and sort of a bigass evo­lu­tion sim­u­la­tor. You start with a micro­scopic life form. It goes around and eats other micro­scopic life forms and avoids get­ting eaten by yet oth­ers. It is sort of like Pac-Pan, where you eat the pel­lets and avoid the ghosts. You eat enough pel­lets and you get to spawn the next gen­er­a­tion of lit­tle cel­lu­lar blobby thing, but in the process you get to induce muta­tions (yeay, Darwin!) Give it another fla­gella to move fast or a pointy head to bust open cells, or what­ever. A few gen­er­a­tions later, this tiny life­form grows and mutates into a small aquatic crea­ture. Again, it swims around and eats things while avoid­ing get­ting eaten. Its move­ment and actions are deter­mined by its appendages and shape, which are deter­mined by the var­i­ous muta­tions you gave it and con­tinue to give it. It even­tu­ally grows big­ger and climbs on land. The one in the demo was sort of a lizard with three tri­pod legs and a scorpion-like tail with a pointy hand on the end. Later, there are more of your crea­ture and they build up a prim­i­tive culture–they learn how to use fire, spears, drums, and such. You can help shape their morals. Do they drum and dance around the fire rit­u­al­is­ti­cally with spears, do they attack neigh­bor­ing vil­lages with the same spears, or do they build things and trade with other species? A bit later, you zoom out and start deal­ing with more mod­ern cities. They get technology–both good and bad, vehi­cles and weapons. They get econ­omy. They get pol­i­tics. Eventually, they take over the planet, either by force or treaty. When they have enough tech­nol­ogy, your point of view clicks back one more set­ting and you can visit and col­o­nize neigh­bor­ing plan­ets. With more tech­nol­ogy, you step back again and can visit neigh­bor­ing star sys­tems and com­mu­ni­cate with other life­forms.

The whole game starts with cells and keeps dial­ing back the view until you end up hop­ping around the galaxy. Everything is dynamic and cre­ated by you. You’re not play­ing “the green orc guy,” you’re help­ing along a crea­ture that is absolutely unlike any other that any­one else play­ing the game has. Not only that, but the cre­ates you make get sent out over the inter­net and when the game is look­ing for other ani­mals with which to pop­u­late your planet, it bor­rows from that pool of crea­tures to cre­ate a bal­anced ecosys­tem. You’re never the top of the food chain. The vari­ety of crea­tures and cities that were demoed is amaz­ing. You can have Dr. Seuss, you can have H.R. Geiger, you can have any­thing in between. You can have Care Bears.

I may not be explain­ing it well, so it might be a good idea to just sit down and watch one of the above videos.

So any­way, that’s the other thing I am excited about. It is not exactly a “game” because there is no win­ning move or endgame or even story. It just looks like a crazy-detailed sim­u­la­tor, and I’m still try­ing to wrap my mind around the rel­a­tive scales of each piece of it.

So, sim­u­lated life? Above, I said that I dis­liked The Sims because it was a sim­u­lated life, yet I am drawn to Spore, and it, too, is a sim­u­lated life. I guess the dif­fer­ence is that the one sim­u­lates a real person’s life–wake up, go to work, come home, eat, poop, make friends, etc. The other is more open-ended and allows more abstract results. Similarly, I played around with Second Life a bit–it is sup­posed to be a current-day Metaverse (a la Snow Crash), and I can see that. Your avatar is a per­son that walks around and talks to other per­sons. The sys­tem looks like a well thought out and high-tech sys­tem and even allows you to build your own objects and attrib­utes with a lit­tle pro­gram­ming. It just does not seem to cap­ture my atten­tion, though. I’m not sure why.

Still, it is prob­a­bly good that most video game related things really do not grab my atten­tion. I spend enough time on the com­puter as it is.

Posted in: Games Software