go postle.

pardon my dust. i'm turning it into glitter.

Hi, I'm Chris. If you subscribe to the MBTI, I'm an INFJ. I put myself through school for a seemingly useless English/Creative Writing degree, but writing is my passion and that's what I want to do when I grow up. Still figuring out what comes next, and pretty much everything else, so I'm feeling kinda adventurous. And yes, that's exactly how my OkCupid profile starts out. Why mess with a good thing, eh?

The site's a work in progress. I'll be adding content over time, and hopefully eventually it'll evolve into something halfway interesting. I'm glad you're still reading, though. Usually by this point I have to show a little skin to keep 'em interested.

Filtering by Tag: optimization

A Dark Room.

(Updated 2014.07.20)

       Optimization may be officially dead to me. A bug introduced in the last iOS update has caused the app to freeze on the start screen, rendering it useless until a fix can be made. The ludicrous oversight by the developers (is anything tested anymore?) has made me realize that I don't really miss the tedium of activity-logging and that the benefits were short-lived. In the end, the only thing driving my progress in managing my time better, or at least in making more time for the activities I want to pursue, is simply my will to do so.

       However, while trying to find a fix or explanation in the App Store, I instead stumbled on a little text-based game that has quietly risen the charts. As a fan of the old King's Quest games, I naively had something similar in mind when I forked over the $0.99 to download the game. I had seen the reviews calling it "disturbing", which I typically avoid -- I tend to let myself slip a little too deeply into these sorts of things to enjoy the horrific. Heck, even Minecraft can scare the bejeezus out of me at times. But the many reviews calling it "cerebral, emotional, and dark" and "deeply stirring" (while also carefully noting that the game isn't scary -- after all, it's text-based) intrigued me.

       I can't say much about the game play here without spoiling it. It's certainly best to let the game reveal itself to you, layer by layer. The game doesn't give you much help in how to play it, but it's not difficult. You grope around and figure it out like a blind person might, always returning to your fire to keep it going. Then you start to notice things. At first they're small things that don't seem to fit. You wonder why she's so reluctant to build you a hut. You wonder why bits of cloth turn up in the hunting traps. Then you start to get an idea of what and who you are. Your actions in the game are disturbing, but they seem justified. Desperate times, after all, and dangerous ones.

       Then the game has a way of connecting with you on an emotional level. There's one particularly powerful turning point in the game when you start to call characters you were protecting by another name. It was a shocking, "What have I done?!" moment for me, and I tried in vain to reverse it. I heard stories of others being brought to tears. But then you get used to it. You keep going. You do what needs to be done. It is just a game, after all. And then you start to wonder what you're capable of.

       The game is addicting, but it doesn't take long. I went slowly, playing yesterday while I was doing laundry and other chores around the apartment, and I completed it in 297 minutes. The feeling upon completion was nearly profound. While the actions within the game itself cannot be called beautiful, the narrative, the way the story is told, certainly is. Seriously worth the $0.99, and I'd also very much like to see a movie made, if done correctly. Sorry, Androids, you can't play (at least not the official version),  but the original game is available online for free here. However, I highly recommend playing the iOS version if able. The app developer, Amir Rajan, added some subtle but significant depth to the game play and fleshes out the narrative more than the online original does. Also significant is the support added for blind users, which had some fascinating side-effects on the game play for sighted users. If time is an issue, the iOS version also moves a bit faster and allows for easy pausing, which is only available on the online version by downloading the code into a text file, then importing the text file into the game when you wish to resume.

       Anyway, the current challenge, once you've finished the game for the first time, is to go back and play it again without building any huts. You'll know what I mean when you get there. Until then, try seeing just how dark that room can get.

(Update): It does take significantly longer to complete the game without huts, which also makes it less exciting, but I slogged through it as a matter of principle. As a small reward, there is an alternate ending.


My day so far...

       As of today, I have lived 11,111 days. Average life expectancy of a human being living in the United States is 28,703. That gives me, barring any unfortunate circumstances, approximately 17,592 days to live. Given my fitness level, more or less healthy diet, family history, etc., I'll probably have a few more than that, but this is all for illustration purposes.

       Yesterday I was surfing a news reader app called "DuckDuckGo" which pulls interesting stories from various news agencies, reddit, lifehacker, etc., which I love but really don't have the time to explore individually, and I stumbled upon (yes, I love that one too) an article from lifehacker touting the benefits of an iPhone app that basically invades your life and destroys your privacy. So of course I downloaded it.

        I'm on day 1 of using "OptimizeMe", and the first thing I've noticed is that it makes me acutely aware of the passage of time. Today I slept from 12a to 9a, fed the cat, took a shower, and did some groggy grooming until 9:24a, cooked and ate breakfast (this exact one here, except with whole wheat toast instead of sourdough -- so freaking good) while watching an HBO documentary "The Out List" until 9:55a, continued watching the documentary intermittently while doing some laundry and cleaning up, brushing my teeth, etc., until 11:38a, at which time I sat down to start writing this post. I have now been working on it (including a break to continue the laundry) for 32 minutes and 36 seconds.

       It kind of sounds like a nightmare, logging all of these activities, but the app makes it relatively simple. And the reason I'm doing all of this? I'm kind of terrible with my own personal time management. At work I'm on point and I get my stuff done, but after 9 hours of focus, another ±1.5 at the gym, I get home and things tend to fall apart. I've already failed that "3 hours a week of writing" goal that I set for myself earlier this month, so this is an attempt to reclaim that. The app breaks everything down into 4 categories: health, creativity, routine, and pleasure, with the goal of finding balance and optimizing behaviors to become more effective and improve your mood. It lets you set clear goals and gives you insights into how to improve. Basically: I'm excited. I'll let you know how it goes.

Copyright © 2019 Christopher Postlethwait