VR has been fascinating for revealing human nature.
In the course of 75 seconds on this video, this guy makes more fatal or near fatal weapons handling mistakes than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. The one at 2:46 is particularly cringe-worthy.
A new sandbox game called ‘Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades’ allows anyone to fire all kinds of weapons. What makes this video very relevant is that the mistakes this guy makes are almost all the classic ones that someone with no training does in real life. More than a few people have been killed and maimed by the exact behaviors this guy demonstrates.
Some of the ones you’ll see here are:
- Unsafe muzzle direction (lack of any muzzle awareness really – countless times. Roof, self, other lanes, etc)
- Sweeping body/others if they were anywhere around him
- Accidental discharge
- Looking down the barrel
- Finger on the trigger when not intending to fire (see 3rd one)
- Not knowing how to make the weapon safe – both unloading or checking chambers
- Not making the weapon safe before putting it down
- Not knowing how to load the weapon or check if it’s loaded
- Lack of respect for the weapon
Any one of these would get you kicked off of any weapons range or training course. That’s saying the people around you didn’t tackle you first due to the mortal danger in which you were putting yourself and everyone around you.
Tanya Short gave one of the best talks I’ve heard in a long time about the fallacies of crunching and bad work habits many people have. The video is now up for free at the GDCVault. Her talk starts at 6:00 :
When trying to hit deadlines, she starts out by observing that most of the time we think ‘getting X done’ is our highest priority. It’s not. It’s actually #3:
Your real priorities:
- Don’t burn out (i.e. don’t die)
- Always keep in mind you’re going to do another – and you should be excited to do the next one even better.
- Get it done
That sounds great, but it also sounds a bit idealistic. She says it is not easy, but lays out these points.
Step-by-step roadmap to not dying:
- Believe it is possible to hold those priorities in that order
Many great studios work and ship games without crunch. It can be done, you just have to be disciplined.
- Stop working ‘all the time’. Set work hours.
It is a fallacy to think working all the time is better. Especially in creative fields. Set work hours and stick to them.
- Prioritize your tasks and re-prioritize as often as needed.
In order to hit your deadlines, you need to know what you’re working on RIGHT NOW is important, not just urgent. If you focus just on the ‘urgent’ emails/tasks/etc, then you’ll never get into the steady workflow that is what makes your work great.
- Estimate your tasks. Re-estimate when needed.
When you finish your task, ask if it took the time you thought it would take. Get better at it.
- Cut the scope before you bleed out.
If you’re 3 weeks out and realize you won’t make it, don’t immediately think about working more/harder/longer. 3 or more 60 hour weeks is scientifically less productive than 3 or more weeks of 40 hour weeks. You are doing worse work. Even if you think you are a special exception. Why can she say that? A study was done on 100 people that claimed they needed less than 7 hours of sleep. Only 5 out of the 100 could actually do it.
- Don’t give up – iterate steps 1-5 again and again
These steps (production) is a skill. Skills can be developed. Skill development requires practice. So congratulate yourself when you do it pretty well, forgive and be kind to yourself when you don’t treat yourself as you deserve.
We are primates. Primates need to be taken care of in a way computers and games don’t, so don’t act like that towards yourself. It’s not about how many hours you spend because everyone is different.
A few long nights won’t kill you, but a few long months might. Especially if combined with other health and life factors.
Burnout is the feeling of being dulled as layer after layer of exhaustion accumulates. Burnout is the void left behind where your career could have been.
Then she has a real Benedictine moment: The moment right now will never come again. Every one of us will die. No matter what we create, all we have is right now. Don’t use up that joy, love, and creative energy you have by burning yourself out.
Keep death always before your eyes.
—St. Benedict: The Rules: Chapter 4.47
She doesn’t cite the studies, but I found some:
I’ve made other posts that have lists of cool free stuff you can get on your birthday, but this is a link to an updated one for 2017.
Make sure you sign up for this stuff BEFORE the month of your birthday. Many of them send out coupons good for the whole month, but if you aren’t signed up before midnight of the first day of the month, you’ll miss out.
How does that old adage go, “Sex sells”? I always wondered what would take its place. Now, I think we know. The new adage appears to be: “Outrage sells”.
In this excellent article, Ryan Holiday talks about how he created a marketing campaign in 2009 on a shoestring budget about a fictional internet blogger Tucker Max in order to promote an independent film. They then proceeded to troll the public and our institutions on their way to huge sales. They reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out college bus tours, and made millions in ticket, dvd, and book sales. Often using our public institutions and media against each other – all for publicity.
“But my favorite was the campaign in Chicago—the only major city where we could afford transit advertising. After placing a series of offensive ads on buses and the metro, from my office I alternated between calling in angry complaints to the Chicago CTA and sending angry emails to city officials with reporters cc’d, until ‘under pressure,’ they announced that they would be banning our advertisements and returning our money. Then we put out a press release denouncing this cowardly decision.
I’ve never seen so much publicity. It was madness.”
It all worked. Ryan Holiday published all the manipulation he did and how uncontrollably successful it was in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. He’s been approached by numerous people saying that this book is now ‘their bible’.
He describes his book thusly:
You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like me.
I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs-as much as any one person can. In today’s culture… Blogs like Gawker, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post drive the media agenda. Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see and watch-online and off. Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it.
He talks about how outrage can be leveraged with ruthless exactness:
Niche players and polarizing personalities are only ever going to be interesting to a small subgroup. While this might seem like a disadvantage, it’s actually a huge opportunity: Because it allows them to leverage the dismissals, anger, mockery, and contempt of the population at large as proof of their credibility. Someone like Milo or Mike Cernovich doesn’t care that you hate them—they like it. It’s proof to their followers that they are doing something subversive and meaningful. It gives their followers something to talk about. It imbues the whole movement with a sense of urgency and action—it creates purpose and meaning.
While many worried about “normalizing” their behavior, that’s the one thing they don’t want to happen. The key tactic of alternative or provocative figures is to leverage the size and platform of their “not-audience” (i.e. their haters in the mainstream) to attract attention and build an actual audience.
Let’s say 9 out of 10 people who hear something Milo says will find it repulsive and juvenile. But let’s say he can acquire massive amounts of negative publicity by pissing off people in the media? Well now all of a sudden someone is absorbing the cost of this inefficient form of marketing for him. If a CNN story reaches 100,000 people, that’s 90,000 people all patting themselves on the back for how smart and decent they are. They’re just missing the fact that the 10,000 new people that just heard about Milo for the first time. The same goes for when you angrily share on Facebook some godawful thing one of these people has said. The vast majority of your friends rush to agree, but your younger cousin has a dark switch in his brain go on for the first time.
His solution is an observation:
I realize there is legitimate fear of normalizing repulsive behavior. I’m not suggesting anyone give credence to real Nazi doctrine. However, historically, it’s usually true that banning and blocking usually has the opposite of its intended effect. Effective counterinsurgency usually involves bargaining, partnering and the reestablishment of norms—not hardlines.
In this, I think he’s hit the nail on the head. We must admit these things are out there. But instead of trying to silence them, ban them, shut them up, and break their windows – we must engage and defuse them. We may not like it, but other tactics only pour gas on the fire.
Personally, I think this is where a person could take a few notes on how God engaged with our broken humanity. I hear a fellow went out teaching this and they wrote a lot of that down in a book somewhere… 🙂
A few points to consider on that front:
- The Christian always separates the infinite worth and beauty of the individual human person who is “created in the image of God” from their sin. This can be brutally hard at times – especially when that person wishes you real harm. This is how evil is disarmed. It is hard to hate others when someone sees the infinite beauty and possibility in you that they often do not see themselves. Hate is disarmed by love.
- The cross is the center of the Christian life. It means dying to yourself to do what is best for others. As Louis CK said: The only time you should look at another’s bowl is to see if they have enough, not if you got your ‘fair’ share. It may require you to turn the other cheek. It might even cost your life as in the case of Christ.
- A steadfast peace in your heart that comes from deep and daily relationship with God. With this relationship, cultivated in daily prayer and silence, you find something that can endure any trial and bring peace to any situation.
- Trust in Christ that when you follow him in this wisdom, you will be taken care of. I have seen this many times in my own life and the life of my friends who have become priests. It may not be what you expect, but those that follow Christ are never abandoned.
- Speaking only the truth. Without hyperbole, exaggeration, or outright lies. Let your ‘Yes’ mean yes, and your ‘No’ mean no. Anything else is from the evil one.
Developed by Carnegie Mellon University, a new AI called Libratus won the “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” tournament against four poker pros by $1,766,250 in chips over 120,000 hands (games). Researchers can now say that the victory margin was large enough to count as a statistically significant win, meaning that they could be at least 99.7 percent sure that the AI victory was not due to chance.
The four human poker pros who participated in the recent tournament spent many extra hours each day on trying to puzzle out Libratus. They teamed up at the start of the tournament with a collective plan of each trying different ranges of bet sizes to probe for weaknesses in the Libratus AI’s strategy that they could exploit. During each night of the tournament, they gathered together back in their hotel rooms to analyze the day’s worth of plays and talk strategy.
The AI took a lead that was never lost. It see-sawed close to even mid-week and even shrunk to $50,000 on the 6th day. But on the 7th day ‘the wheels came off’. By the end, Jimmy Chou, became convinced that Libratus had tailored its strategy to each individual player. Dong Kim, who performed the best among the four by only losing $85,649 in chips to Libratus, believed that the humans were playing slightly different versions of the AI each day.
After Kim finished playing on the final day, he helped answer some questions for online viewers watching the poker tournament through the live-streaming service Twitch. He congratulated the Carnegie Mellon researchers on a “decisive victory.” But when asked about what went well for the poker pros, he hesitated: “I think what went well was… shit. It’s hard to say. We took such a beating.”
The victory demonstrates the AI has likely surpassed the best humans at doing strategic reasoning in “imperfect information” games such as poker. But more than that, Libratus algorithms can take the “rules” of any imperfect-information game or scenario and then come up with its own strategy. For example, the Carnegie Mellon team hopes its AI could design drugs to counter viruses that evolve resistance to certain treatments, or perform automated business negotiations. It could also power applications in cybersecurity, military robotic systems or finance.
Jan Krissler, known in hacker circles as Starbug, was already known for his high-profile stunt of cracking Apple TouchID sensors within 24 hours of the iPhone 5S release. In this case, he used several easily taken close-range photos of German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, including one gleaned from a press release issued by her own office and another he took himself from three meters away, to reverse-engineer her fingerprint and pass biometric scans.
The same conference also demonstrated a “corneal keylogger”. The idea behind the attack is simple. A hacker may have access to a user’s phone camera, but not anything else. How to go from there to stealing all their passwords?
One way, demonstrated on stage, is to read what they’re typing by analyzing photographs of the reflections in their eyes. Smartphone cameras, even front-facing ones, are now high-resolution enough that such an attack is possible.
“Biometrics are not secrets… Ideally, they’re unique to each individual, but that’s not the same thing as being a secret.”
Ever want to see what is really going on inside a combustion engine like your car? Warped Perception built a custom transparent acrylic head for a four-stroke engine so we can see what internal combustion looks like as it happens. He fed the engine with different types of fuel then captured the results in slow-motion.
0:58 is when the magic starts. 🙂