Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sub-Sonic Experiments
Date Created: September 24, 2013  Date Modified: September 24, 2013

I have been playing around with Sub-sonic audio for a few months, using research from various sources. I’m still in the early stages but I’m happy with this sample below, it only lasts a minute but if played on a loop it aids relaxation. I named thie track due to its similarity in sound to that of a cat purring.

Note: Sub-sonics do not work on a home stereo, you need to listen thru good quality headphones or the resonance will not be effective.

I also wanted to test the soundcloud short-code, it didnt work so I iframed it

For those wishing to learn more, or even make their own–try the following software called Discord (the above was made with Audacity tho):

This rant was posted in Media, Mp3 on by .

MCC315 – Fieldwork 1 – Are RSS Feeds ‘Dead’ Technology?
Date Created: September 23, 2013  Date Modified: September 23, 2013

I should have published this live day-by-day (but that would count as plagarism with TurnItIn??), anyway as a follow-on from Fieldwork 0 Is Generic Theory a Valid Tool at Cataloguing Websites?; Here is Fieldwork 1: Are RSS Feeds Dead Technology?

Are RSS feeds a dead technology?

Day 1 – Background

I was an early adopter of RSS so to speak, I don’t reacl exactly what year tho I can date a conversation on RSS I had with a tutor here in 2002 where I was advocating the use of RSS to deliver content to the desktop without the need for browsing multiple news sites for stories.
I ditched the desktop reader for Google Reader in 2006 when I found my bandwidth was being chewed on the thousands I feeds I had set to download, as RSS shifted from being text only to having rich-media content.
I have relied on RSS for more their technical simplicity. During the migration of the University of Notre Dame Australia’s old static-HTML website onto an CMS, I used RSS as a method of leaching parts of the sites content, automatically placing it in the database of the new CMS. Additionally, the bushfire alerts on the Department of Parks and Wildlife (formerly DEC) website is managed by RSS as the approval process for the alerts needed to be not just simplified but also immediate[1].
But then, earlier this year Google sent me a notification that it was going to discontinue its Reader product. I panicked and asked online what Reader alternatives people were using, I had a few answers, but tried this product Feedly… and really haven’t checked my feeds much since.
Day 2 – Opening Feedly

Ok, this kinda looks familiar, theres none of the ads Google use to run, cluttering the screen. First stop XKCD–this should give me a good calculation of how long I haven’t checked my RSS for; 13 unread, I swore it was longer than that, I’ve got time to look at comics later, I want to see some news!. I check an RSS from a Yahoo! Pipe[2] I created a few years ago, its a mash-up from a number of tech sources to filter content related to my particular interests in IT[3].
I browse over the other feeds I have, all grouped by subject: Drupal, Flex, Joomla!… I want something a bit lighter, the category “funny” should have something to spike interest[4]. Reconfirming I have a bad sense of humor I decide to look back over my list, not being a developer at this time I don’t really want to read about the latest updates to WordPress, or release notes from whatever git repository I was following. I need to find some new feeds. Reader had a way to search and browse for new content, what Is Feedly going to offer me?

Day 3 – Mobile Application

I downloaded the feedly app for my tablet, it has a far prettier UI, but it presents the feeds dissimilar to the web version, which is closer to Reader. I flipped thru the usual feeds… In the early days of mobile app development, when everyone and his proverbial canine absolutely needed an app, the pushed for time web developer would build a simple RSS reader app, plug the clients RSS feed from the corporate homepage or media releases and re-skin the app to fit corporate styling[5].

Day 4 – Datasets and XML

The inherent beauty of RSS is that most of the time its essentially XML, which is the same markup used in a wide range of applications. In the interests of this excersise I decided to visit and see if I could find some cool XML dataset in RSS format[6] and publish it online, in the end I chose to re-publish ACT FOI applications RSS over the national public toilet registry[7].
The praising of the XML was facilitated by the CMS itself; WordPress. No actual coding was needed on my part to get the feed to display onto the site, tho filters can be added with additional scripting. This method of aggregating content with RSS is more common on the net than is obvious from the front end.
So what is the point of this? well I have the GitRepo of my WordPress themes RSS their changelog to my site so I dont have to publish changes to the page[8]. This automation is invisible to front end users–but its a crucial time saving tool for me. If RSS were “dead” I would have to find a new way to automate publishing.

Day 5 – Who is JSON?

Facebook are slowly depreciating RSS for their pages, in favor of a newer format called JSON[9], however the concept behind JSON feeds is much the same as RSS[10]. A cynical interpretation of this move by one of the webs biggest content generators is that it limits the re-publishing of Facebook originating content on extrinsic websites.
Due to the amount of content generated on Facebook, and the associated issues of ownership and privacy, it makes sense from Facebook’s perspective to make it harder to syndicate content.

Conclusion – Are RSS Feeds Dead?

From a users perspective RSS may be a disappearing technology, but as shown with my weeks “research” into the phenomenon, it is clear that RSS feeds are still a vital technology for publishing and syndicating web content–even if the end users are oblivious to said technology. As new media professionals it is highly ignorant to dismiss a technology just because its mainstream use is not as dominant as its esoteric use.
[3]The Pipe itself is not public so there in o URL to link, but the following articles were accessed from that feed:
[7] This page is fed by RSS from the URI above and praised by the CMS, then published as to the sites pre-defined CSS.
[8] As above.
[10] will return an RSS like feed, structured in a more formal variation of XML.

This rant was posted in Web on by .

MCC232 – Skyrim Vs Pool of Radiance
Date Created: September 8, 2013  Date Modified: September 24, 2013

Critically discuss the differences and similarities of Skyrim and Pool of Radiance.

By Byron Levene


Skyrim, 2011 (PS3, 360), by Bethesda is a fantasy game, has been one of the most popular and highest grossing video games to date. Although technically not a Role-Playing Game (“RPG”) in the traditional sense, it draws heavily from the RPG genre. Pool of Radiance, 1988 (Commodore 64, MS-DOS), was one of the earlier RPG games and drew its rules more canonically from the board game Dungeons & Dragons (“D&D”)[1]. This essay will critically discuss the differences and similarities between these two games.

Comparing Pixels and Polygons

The D&D rule-set that underpins early RPG’s like Pool of Radiance had a fairly strict style of play; Combat was turn based, as it was with the board game, and battle was played in a different user-interface (or screen) in a top-down 2-Dimensional third-person perspective. A separate interface for movement around the map was used; A simulated 3-Dimensional space, known as bitmap scaling[2] (almost 5 years prior to this “interesting innovation” occurring in Wolfenstein 3D[3]). This gave the player first-person perspective moving within the map. If judging only by geographical characteristics[4], we see how different these two games are.

The psudo-3D movement screen
The top down combat screen

This “discrete” movement in Pool of Radiance is a stark contrast to the freedom of “continuous” movement in an open world such as Skyrim[5]–where movement and battle take place in the same interface, which draws more from the First-Person Shooter (“FPS”) genre. This real time control that the player has in Skyrim gives a feeling, or greater sense of immersion in the virtual world than the more turn based structure of Pool of Radiance[6].

Using Swink’s model for cataloguing game feel[7] may seem unfair, as real-time interactions were somewhat limited to developers of 1988. The real-time interactions in Skyrim add that much more to the sense of immersion for the player, hitting a sweet spot in the centre of Swink’s model; Pool of Radiance on the other hand does possess a rudimentary form of spatial simulation[8], and any question of polish would have to be taken in account of the 8-bit standards of the day.

Is it Because I’m Khajiit?

Race has always existed as a character’s attribute prior to D&D moving to a virtualised space, once the framework migrated to a virtual platform these race attributes remained. However implicit racial undertones of “Nomads”, with Arabic sounding names depicted in crude 8-bit kefirs[9], as seen in Pool of Radiance were outside the race types that could be utilised by a player as per the rule-set[10]. This is not negating Everett & Watkins claim that:

“…to build explicitly raced characters and worlds were limited by… the screen resolution (4-, 8-, and 16-bit), and processing speeds.”[11]

As we see more explicitly in Skyrim evidence of raced characters; Effectively the plot throws the player directly in a Nords versus Imperials race war over religious worshiping rights. The complexity of such a racially charged world would be beyond the limitations of developers in the era of Pool of Radiance[12]. Advances in graphics, sound and processing power have enabled a more racially charged virtual world, where race in Skyrim will effect how the player is treated by NPC’s.

Attributing this solely to technological advances does ignore the fact that Pool of Radiance is essentially a “barbaric” game, where battle is the only way to progress. Skyrim is a far more romantic approach[13], including raced characters adds a darker element to a game where a player can spend hours picking flowers and catching butterflies.

Artificial Stupidity

Pool of Radiance included Non-Playing Characters (“NPC’s”) that could venture with the players party when moving about the map, and when in battle the NPC would fight on the players side without any input from the player. After battle they would automatically deduct their percentage of the loot, and then reassemble with the players party back in the movement interface. This scripted behavior[14] pre-dates any notion of AI that came later, but the similarities are there.

Skyrim also includes NPC’s that will join the player on their adventure, however with the unification of movement and battle in one interface, the NPC’s have much more autonomy in how they may follow you.

Modern games Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) enables NPC’s a “seeking” and “fleeing” ability[15], and its this seeking that facilitates the NPC to follow the player in Skyrim. This simple act of following was outside the technical limitations of both hardware and software in the time of Pool of Radiance, yet as mentioned above the rules of the game required the party to regroup before movement around the map.

What unties these two different approaches is the end result: NPC’s that are expendable cannon-fodder like bots that can be exploited for the gain of the player, which is part of the “implicit rules”[16] a player will often observe when playing an RPG.

Game Over

By critically discussing the differences between these two games not only gives us picture of the evolution of the RPG genre, but also helps us understand the technical advances that have changed video games from being just a virtual place to play a board game, to virtual worlds where we live out our character’s existence.

Pool of Radiance may seem archaic to gamers of today, but it is a fundamental piece of RPG history which many games drew their influence from; Skyrim, even though made 23 years later, is such a game.

“However, although Baldur’s Gate and Diablo may receive far more attention and interest today than Golden Age classics like The Bard’s Tale or The Pool of Radiance, we must forever keep in mind that these earlier games were their direct ancestors.”[17]

Skyrim diverges in many ways from the traditional RPG format, mixing it with conventions from other game genres, but still owes much of its success to its RPG heritage. If we take this into account, then Skyrim is not a bastardisation of the RPG, but more its modernisation. Even when taking into account all the differences these two games have, there is still a definite lineage linking the two.


[1] Apperley, Page 17
[2] LaMonthe, Page 10
[3] Nielson, Page 113
[4] Ibid, Page 137
[5] Champandard, Page 63
[6] Swink, Page 2
[7] Swink, Page 8
[8] Ibid, Page 8
[9] King, Page 174
[10] Nielson, Page 99
[11]Everett, Page 134
[12] Ibid, Page 134
[13] King, Page 175
[14] Champandard, Page 7
[15] Ibid, Page 113
[16] Nielson, Page 101
[17] Barton, online (This quote is referenced from the 2007 online version that later became a chapter in Matt Barton’s 2008 book Dungeons and desktops: The history of computer role-playing games. See bibliography)



Apperley, Thomas H. (2006) Genre and game studies: Toward a critical approach to video game studies”, Sage Publications, Melbourne
Barton, Matt (2007),The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 2: The Golden Age (1985-1993)”, accessed September 2, 2013,
Champandard, Alex J. (2003) AI Games Development – Synthetic Creatures with Learning and Reactive Behaviors”, New Riders, BostonMass.
Everett, Anna & Watkins, S. Craig (2008), The Power of Play: The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games”, MIT Press, CambridgeMass.
King, Geoff & Krzywinska, Tanya (2006) Social, Cultural and Political Dimensions, IB Tauris, London
LaMonthe, Andre (1995), The Black Art of 3D Games Programming”, Wattle Group Press, California.
Neilson, Simon E., Smith, Jonas H. et al (2008) “Video Game Aesthetics”, Routledge, New York
Swink, Steve (2009), Game Feel: A Designers Guide to Virtual Sensation”, Elsevier, Burlington, MA

This rant was posted in Assignment, College Work, Games, Skyrim on by .

Facebook Page Insights
Date Created: September 1, 2013  Date Modified: September 1, 2013

Being web focused, I tend to use Google Analytics to gain visitor information, but in the walled-garden of social we are limited to some extent by what the application itself provides us. Luckily Facebook is improving their page ‘Insights’–a limited version of Analytics, so admins can keep informed of page activity


Just at a glance of the insights opening ‘overview’ page you can already tell that this page receives over twice as much interaction as it does have likes, this kind of extended reach is often overlooked by page admins.

I have uploaded screen caps from the 3 other top-level pages: Page, Posts and People…


As you can see above it shows the progresson of likes and even unlikes (I wish that feature were available to peoples own profiles!)…


Posts is a run-down of all the pages posts which can be filtered–I have this filtered by reach just to show you that a page with 1000 likes can have a post reach over 3 times its page audience. (and this usually exponentiates the more users or ‘likes’ the page has)


And lastly People breaks down our users demographics.

Yeah, this was probably not the most informative on Facebook Page Insights; but those who know me know my motivation 🙂