The Eastern Oregon Blue Mountain Humane Association had been providing dog-bite safety classes in the La Grande school district; classes which have already saved one student who,
remembering what he was taught, he pretended he was rock, curling up with his head down. He received a certificate Monday from his school commending him for bravery and following the safety lessons.
But no more. Members of the organization are offended that the school superintendent would prevent them from using a pitbull in these classes, out of concern for the children’s safety. According to the Association’s president,
we feel that we need to take a stand. We should not be condemning a dog just because of its breed.
This is misguided in more ways I can count. Putting aside the fact that this particular dog isn’t “condemned”, I say, of course we should make smart decisions about animals we expose other peoples’ children to. The superintendent is thinking about the children’s safety first and foremost. And so should the Humane Association.
I first went to Occupy Portland for a meeting on a rainy Oct. 13 and took a series of pictures.
But I felt that I hadn’t captured its true spirit: the organization, the attention to detail.
So I went back on the 17th to document what I had missed:
Ask anyone who’s been to a doctor (i.e. everyone): you are responsible for the bill if your insurance company doesn’t pay. Indiana Ice doesn’t seem to get the concept:
1. The Indiana Ice hockey team and United States Hockey League sponsor a $50,000 nearly-impossible-to-win “hit the puck into the hole” contest.
2. Instead of putting prize money aside, they purchased insurance in case someone actually manages to win the prize.
3. A 73-year-old hockey fan is brought down to the ice and put into position alongside the mascot, who goes first. The fan vows to donate any winnings to charity. He then amazingly, successfully hits the puck into the incredibly small hole on the opposite side of the rink. Click to watch:
4. But there’s trouble: the team’s insurance company denied the claim because the team had not positioned the fan in the correct location — as contracted for between the team and its insurer. Specifically: they’d only cover contestants shooting from behind the red line.
5. The hockey team’s owners and the USHL throw their hands up: “Sorry! The insurance company won’t pay. There’s nothing more we can do. No prize for you.”
6. The team doesn’t seem too upset about this: They refuse to name their insurance company, and also refuse to pay the promised prize money in full. Instead, “they plan to make a donation of an undisclosed amount.”
So I saw the news item about an 8-year-old ringing up $1,400 in charges (for “Smurfberries”) via the Smurfs’ Village iPhone game. The reporting has focused on how such a thing could happen: Via a “15-minute loophole”? An older sister passing along the iTunes password? An 8-year-old not understanding real vs. game dollars?
I decided to look at the design of the game itself for clues. Spoiler: they weren’t hard to find.
A Little Context: In-App Purchase Done Right
Here’s the excellent game, geoDefense Swarm. It a great game as is, but players can also buy more levels within the game itself:
First, the menu for choosing a level to play:
Tap “Hard Levels”, scroll all the way to end, and you’ll see Get More Levels:
Smurfs’ Village In-App Purchase Experience
So is Smurfs’ Village pretty similar? Did these kids go clearly out of control? I decided to take one for the team and install the app. I can now say that the answers to these questions are no and no.
Here’s a typical screen in Smurfs’ Village. I’m “purchasing” a house with play money. The link into the real-dollars shop is the SHOP graphic on the bottom right:
Tap it, and you’ll see a nearly identical “shop” — for purchasing (no air-quotes this time) Smurfberries:
At this point, one may wonder why any children’s game should have something for sale for $4.99, let alone $99.99. And why would a child even want Smurfberries? What’s the motivator? It doesn’t take long to find out. And this is where the hard sell begins.
Leaving the shop, we tap our garden to see when the blueberries will be ready:
The large brown panel on the right are instructions for using Smurfberries to force the blueberries to appear instantly. The cynical among us will realize this is a gigantic ad, taking up 1/3 of the display. Is this an isolated case? Unfortunately, no. Over and over, the game stops the flow and tries to sell Smurfberries:
The pattern becomes obvious: every step along the way, Smurfberries “help” our Smurfs work faster and better. (Scary…) Smurfberry “use” is woven into the fabric of the game in a variety of places:
This isn’t a game; it’s a money-extraction tool aimed at children ages 4 and up.
Git and github are awesome pieces of software. Last year, I happily switched from subversion to git just like, years ago, I switched from CVS to subversion. Another evolutionary step. I use github for lots of reasons. The biggest is that it’s the best front-end to git that I’ve found. And so now I use git+github for 15 or so projects; some open source like HTTP Assertions, and some private code, like the OregonLaws.org web app.
The one little problem
Everything goes along happily until git decides you need some help. And so, in a fit of well intentioned verbosity, git coughs up three terminology-packed paragraphs of text that we’ve all seen:
You asked me to pull without telling me which branch you want to merge with, and 'branch.newlayout.merge' in your configuration file does not tell me either. Please specify which branch you want to merge on the command line and try again (e.g. 'git pull <repository> <refspec>'). See git-pull(1) for details.
If you often merge with the same branch, you may want to configure the following variables in your configuration file:
branch.newlayout.remote = <nickname>
branch.newlayout.merge = <remote-ref>
remote.<nickname>.url = <url>
remote.<nickname>.fetch = <refspec>
I collected the following git-specific terms from this one message:
branch, fetch, git-pull, merge, newlayout, nickname, pull, refspec, repository, remote, remote-ref, url
What’s the difference between a <refspec> and a <remote-ref>? Between a <repository> and a <nickname>? Between a pull and a merge? (I asked for a pull, but git’s giving me merge info.)
My guess: several of these terms are used interchangeably, and git’s docs should be made more consistent. Note how the terms in the text paragraphs do not match the terms in the config file template.
Problem #2: The second paragraph says to add the info to the config file. But the info isn’t in config file format; it’s closer to command line
git config format.