Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bookworming: Uwharrie

Uwharrie, Eugene Pfaff, Michael Causey, **
I went into this one thinking it would be a mystery, but it's actually a horror story. While I suspect it would make a pretty decent B-movie, as a novel it never quite gels. There isn't enough characterization to give the jeopardy weight, and not enough actual plot to move the story on its own. It has a few good set pieces and some local color, but I would only recommend it if the jacket blurb sounds like it would be directly in line with your tastes.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gaming the Steam Sale Game

The summer Steam sale is currently running. This year it comes with its own game that involves clicking (or using an auto-cannon that allows you to not click) to kill an endless stream of monsters. The game itself is the worst kind of web game that's essentially just a Skinner box with increasing numbers as the reward. But because it's a browser game, programmers are generating javascript programs to send clicks or optimize the gold gaining rate by putting you in the optimal place. I find it interesting that programming was an immediate response to being presented with what is essentially an exercise in optimization. I have no idea whether these things would be considered "cheating", but it is a good reminder that the web browser is one of the premier programming platforms right now, and it can be heavily automated.