Category Archives: Health

Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and the Born This Way Foundation Launch #HackHarassment

Kara Swisher, re/code:

The first knee-jerk reaction of those who think completely free speech is the paramount rule of the Internet is simple: Stop whining, you stupid girl, and take it, because everyone should be able to say exactly what they want, however they want and in whatever way they want to say it.

It’s a canard of an argument, designed to turn a complex issue into a reductive black-and-white debate where no one can come to any agreement.

Still, it’s always set up this way when anyone attempts to make the more obvious point that free speech is not as free as all that in the real world, where there are numerous social repercussions for behaving in a rude, obscene and appalling manner.

Simple example: If you loudly tell a woman she deserves to be raped for speaking her mind on any subject in the public square, at a party or at work, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get ejected from there and, at the very least, you’ll be subject to much-deserved derision and censure.

Not so on the Internet, where such talk is all too common and much too tolerated. Which is why Intel, Vox Media, Re/code and the Born This Way Foundation are coming together to co-create Hack Harassment (#hackharassment), a new, collaborative initiative to fight online harassment and provide safer, more inclusive online experiences.

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The New Normal

Another tremendously powerful post from Mackenzie Craven:

So here is a snapshot of my post-cancer life, my new normal. I’m back at work full time, squeezing my 40 hours in any way I can with at least 1 of the aforementioned appointments each day. I’m getting mapped for radiation today – once those daily appointments start, my calendar is going to fill up even more. My free time mainly consists of getting my stretching time in to improve the mobility in my arm, but I do try and work out when I can (now that I can). And other than that, I’m just… trying my best to remember how to enjoy life, and to remember what normal even is. It isn’t easy. Some days all I want is for people to acknowledge I’m still recovering from this whole nightmare and cut me some slack, yet other days I swear I will scream If I get another sympathetic face and a “how are you feeling?”  I don’t even want to THINK about cancer one moment… then suddenly it is the only thing on my mind. I’m laughing, I’m crying. I’m a survivor; I’m a victim. I’m fine! I’m not fine. I’m… a contradiction. Every day I put on my best normal face and fool the world around me that I’m doing as well as I’m leading on, yet every day I get frustrated that the world thinks I’m back to normal. I don’t have hair, eyelashes or full range of motion in my arms – but I also don’t have cancer. Baby steps.

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EyeWire

Years back, an odd desire to complete a coloring book developed. I never scratched the itch, but I may have just found a solution: EyeWire.

Gareth Cook, The New York Times:

In 2012, Seung started EyeWire, an online game that challenges the public to trace neuronal wiring — now using computers, not pens — in the retina of a mouse’s eye. Seung’s artificial-­intelligence algorithms process the raw images, then players earn points as they mark, paint-by-numbers style, the branches of a neuron through a three-dimensional cube. The game has attracted 165,000 players in 164 countries. In effect, Seung is employing artificial intelligence as a force multiplier for a global, all-volunteer army that has included Lorinda, a Missouri grandmother who also paints watercolors, and Iliyan (a.k.a. @crazyman4865), a high-school student in Bulgaria who once played for nearly 24 hours straight. Computers do what they can and then leave the rest to what remains the most potent pattern-recognition technology ever discovered: the human brain.

Ultimately, Seung still hopes that artificial intelligence will be able to handle the entire job. But in the meantime, he is working to recruit more help. In August, South Korea’s largest telecom company announced a partnership with EyeWire, running nationwide ads to bring in more players. In the next few years, Seung hopes to go bigger by enticing a company to turn EyeWire into a game with characters and a story line that people play purely for fun. “Think of what we could do,” Seung said, “if we could capture even a small fraction of the mental effort that goes into Angry Birds.”

EyeWire is the most addictive and challenging coloring book I have tried. It’s easy to loose track of time while filling in the neuronal wiring, not to mention the increased level of difficulty that follows the tutorial. Bonus: It’s for science!

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5 Reasons to Run

This post originally appeared on my previous blog, TheStarrList, on 1/12/13 and earned me an IGN Community Spotlight profile. Reblog comes courtesy of Ben Kuchera’s Four ways to become a happier gamer, and person, in 2015

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1. Boost Your Brain Power

Generally, we are all fans of music. Whether it’s dance, metal, hardcore, or pop, we can usually identify something upbeat or driving in our iTunes Library. While upbeat music is great for getting pumped up, short of studying chord progressions and lyrical meaning, there is little payoff to listening to the same set of repetitive tracks on every jog. For some, music may actually be the reason they dread running. Next time you’re out, try a podcast!

Similar to talk radio, there are tons of free and unique podcasts in the iTunes store. From cooking tips to comedy, tech talks and TED Talks, there is something for everyone. Subscribe to a few podcasts and load up your iPod. Have a smartphone? Download a podcast app for your iOS or Android device!

If podcasts aren’t your thing, try an audiobook. I once heard a story of a runner who would listen to suspense novels while training. Only while training would he allow himself to listen to the books and, assuming they were any good, this tactic kept him from wanting to stop running. It also conditioned him to crave running. During races, he allowed himself to indulge in a playlist of upbeat music. This helped change the pace and created a fresh experience.

Understandably, podcasts and audiobooks are certainly not as upbeat as music. However, unless your are sprinting for a time, a good jog requires endurance over speed, and an informative podcast or suspenseful audiobook will certainly keep you at your paces.

2. Fresh Air

While treadmills are great during extreme weather or the night, nothing comes close to an outdoor jog. As simple as it sounds, a bit of fresh air can do wonders for the soul. After a long workday or at the tail end of being bedridden, busy city streets or a refreshing view of distant mountains can provide for a cleansing of the mind and clear thoughts. Stepping away from your belongings for 20-60 minutes can be enough to remind you of what is really important in life, provide a little inspiration for that project you’re working on, or help sift out those feelings of anguish toward a troublesome co-worker.

As you run, breathe in and take a look around. Get out into the world to remind yourself that the world is much larger than your immediate surroundings. If you are lucky enough to cross paths with another jogger, remember to pass along the motivation with a friendly wave, thumbs-up, or high-five. Tell yourself that those drivers on their commute home are looking at you in envy, wishing they had your drive. Your efforts will certainly inspire others.

3. Game On!

When I began running, I was fairly overweight. Unbeknownst to me, my body did not behave the way it did in high-school. I was still expecting to be able to eat the same junk food and plop down in front of video games with no severe consequence to my body. I was sorely mistaken. I knew that I needed to do something to get back into shape. I had heard about Nike+ and decided to take a leap of faith. I invested $300+ (a lot to a college student) into running equipment, an iPod, and the Nike+ sensor. I began to play a new kind of video game.

We can all appreciate a good game. Most of us grew up playing board or video games because they provided competitive and, in most cases, friendly fun. For those that need a little extra push to head out on a jog, making a game of it can do the trick! Several companies are gamifying the workout experience and the Nike+ service is leading the way! Nike+ not only keeps records of run/walk history including miles run, calories burned, and average pace, it also includes cross-community challenges. See where you rank amongst your friends on the weekly leader-board, be the first to reach 100 miles in the office, or challenge your best friend to a calorie burn competition! As you run and compete, you will earn achievements and kind words from world-renowned athletes, pushing yourself to run a little farther next time or maybe try one extra jog per week. Gamifying the jogging experience is a great way to stay motivated and provide a new kind of gaming experience!

Nike+ is offered through GPS iOS and Android apps as well as a shoe sensor (and iPod dongle in needed) for specially designed Nike+ enabled shoes.

4. Solitude

Everyone needs a little “me” time. Similar to tip 2, solitude can help provide clarity and peace-of-mind. Leaving you to your own thoughts can allow you to sort out those items that have been filling you with anxiety or allow you to solve that problem that’s been gnawing at you for the past several days. For some, solitude can assist in inspiration or a moment of clarity. The ability to completely escape the needs of others and detach oneself from the rest of society undoubtedly allows us to sort out what is really important and a stimulating jog only enhances the experience.

5. Multitask

For those of you that have trouble carving out a chunk of your day to exercise because there is just simply “too much to do,” you likely crave productivity. The best part about jogging is that the four tips listed above can all be achieved on a single run.

Over the course of several years, I have realized that multitasking is my biggest motivation to run. As often as possible, I will set aside 1-2 hours to jog and blog. After turning on my Nike+ app, I quickly throw on a podcast. Be it John Gruber’s Apple-centric The Talk Show, obscure stories across America on This American Life, or staying up-to-date with the latest video game industry news with The Indoor Kids or IGN’s Game Scoop, these podcasts not only fill my interests but they provide me with ideas.

Throughout the course of a single outdoor jog, I am afforded the luxury of audible inspiration through podcasts and sightly inspiration through my environment. I am disconnected from social media, e-mail, and text messages and am able to focus on myself. If I am able to push myself a little farther and a little harder, I may beat the stats from my last run. By the end, I am usually able to churn out an idea or two for my blogs. Within 1-2 hours, I have satisfied my desire to be productive by gaming, thinking, mentally cleansing, and blogging… and exercise!

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Chronological Console Crash Course

Very interesting read.

Andy Baio:

What happens when a 21st-century kid plays through video game history in chronological order?

Start with the arcade classics and Atari 2600, from Asteroids to Zaxxon. After a year, move on to the 8-bit era with the NES and Sega classics. The next year, the SNES, Game Boy, and classic PC adventure games. Then the PlayStation and N64, Xbox and GBA, and so on until we’re caught up with the modern era of gaming.

Would that child better appreciate modern independent games that don’t have the budgets of AAA monstrosities like Destiny and Call of Duty? Would they appreciate the retro aesthetic, or just think it looks crappy?

Or would they just grow up thinking that video game technology moved at a breakneck speed when they were kids, and slammed to a halt as soon as they hit adolescence?

I’ve always wondered how this sort of thing would play out. For the selfish sake of revisiting the past, I’ve always envisioned doing the same with my future children.

On the topic of experimentation, I was forced to play baseball, soccer, and piano with no interest in the topics. I wanted to be around computers and gadgets. While I ditched soccer and (regretfully) piano after two or three years, I ended up playing baseball for ten with a peak batting average of .069. Needless to say, my time spent on the diamond is not a fond memory, but my parents insisted I play an organized sport. Turns out I learned more playing bass in a high school punk band, collaborating, booking, planning, and managing finances, than playing organized sports. Some kids enjoy music; some enjoy baking; some enjoy technology. Find their jam and run with it. There are ways to develop well rounded people outside of their passion.

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‘Exercising With Nothing But An Xbox’

Stephie Grob Plante, writing for xoJane:

The free songs — including “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic and “#thatPower” by will.i.am ft. Justin Bieber — are not necessarily my jam(s), but it’s hard to complain about free. As I scroll through the song purchase options, I grumble at the glut of current(ish) tracks and dearth of classics. Swipe, swipe, swipe — WAIT: “Creep” by TLC for $1.99?! I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but…sold.

With one solid tune and a wealth of moves like “Niece,” “Rejectin,” and “Pros and Cons,” my childhood aspiration of becoming an In Living Color Fly Girl — a very real, very unattainable dream — feels within reach, at least from the confines of my 12×16 living room.

Hilarious read, surprising results.

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Will Ferrell’s SuperMegaBlastMax Gamer Challenge

WillFerrellHatesCancer.org:

Hello people of the video game universe…its your friend Will Ferrell!

How would you like to join me for a delightful evening of playing video games together? The only appropriate answer is YES!

I want to throw one of the coolest video game events in the history of mankind, possibly even dating back to the time of the dinosaurs, and I’m extending this challenge to gamers: Raise $375,000 for charity and children with cancer and then I’ll host the event on October 26th…..AND, one lucky winner (aka one of you reading right now) could join me for this life altering moment in beautiful San Francisco!

I’ll bring the roll of quarters, all I ask is for you to make a donation in support of children and families suffering from cancer.

Sounds like a good contest/kickerstarter for a great cause. Head over to WillFerrellHatesCancer.org for more information.

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Rose Gold Lining

Mackenzie Craven, Rose Gold Lining:

Let’s rewind. I’m 26 years old. Freshly married. And healthy! That young, dumb kind of healthy that convinces you it’s okay to only see the doctor when you need a prescription filled. You drink green smoothies and run half marathons, therefore you’re untouchable – right? Life has been good in this blissful, newlywed, dumb-healthy bubble – perfect, even. Filled with morning coffee and walks to the farmers market hand-in-hand with my husband, Kenny. Bike rides to the breweries, hikes with our dog Hugo. I ate the chia seeds and I wore out my running shoes, so I was completely blindsided by my diagnosis. I have breast cancer?

Brilliant, brave, and honest. One of the best pieces I’ve ever read. Take a moment to read and appreciate this woman’s work. #KenzieKicksCancer

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‘How video games have the power to change real lives’

A fun piece cataloging the impacts of the technology used in video games on urban planning, PTSD, education and more.
Daniel Nye Griffiths, The Guardian:

Games are incredibly successful training systems – but all they usually do is train people how to play within fictional worlds. As the tools employed to make them evolve, the potential is there to engage with the real world. In this way, video games offer the power to capture, comment on and change lives.

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Game Less Than One Hour Per Day

Pediatrics:

Low levels (3 hours daily) of game engagement was linked to key indicators of psychosocial adjustment. Low engagement was associated with higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior and lower externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas the opposite was found for high levels of play. No effects were observed for moderate play levels when compared with non-players.

It took me a second to wrap head around this. I wish the clearly defined moderate play. My interpretation:

– Less than 1 hour of play (low): Positive effects

– 0 (non-players) or 1-3 hours of play (moderate): No change

– More than 3 hours of play (high): Negative effects

Update: The BBC offers more clarity.

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