A Mind @ Play

random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: January 2007 Page 1 of 2

In den Schwarzwald

Morgen fliege ich nach Karlsruhe-Baden. Es wird mein erster Besuch in Deutschland seit der Wiedervereinigung sein. Letzes Mal habe ich noch vor der Berliner Mauer gestanden und mein Reisepass trug einen Stempel der DDR. Die Zeiten haben sich geändert!

Ich werde dort bei meiner wunderschönen Freundin in Freiburg bleiben, so dass dieser Blog Eintrag für einige Zeit der letzte sein wird.

Failte go dti an tAontas Eorpach

The EU

On January 1st of this year, under the continuing enlargement plans, Romania and Bulgaria acceded to the European Union. At the same time, the number of official EU languages was enlarged to 23, now including Romanian, Bulgarian – and Irish. The inclusion of the latter might seem to come at an odd time, given that the Republic of Ireland has been a member since January 1st, 1973, and Irish is its official language. Yet it was through English that the Republic handled its application to the Union.

To take some basic figures, Irish is spoken by less than half of the Republic’s population, whilst it is in daily use by only 5% 1A generous assessment, since this figure appears to include schoolchildren who use the language in class on a daily basis.. To put this in some perspective, there may be more than twice as many Welsh speakers, while both of these Celtic tongues pale in comparison to Catalan, for example, with more than 7 million speakers. Ireland’s European commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, insists that Irish is central to Irish cultural identity, and its acceptance into the European fold has prompted calls for the inclusion of other minority languages 2Spain has already requested semi-official status for Catalan, Galician and Basque..

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1. A generous assessment, since this figure appears to include schoolchildren who use the language in class on a daily basis.
2. Spain has already requested semi-official status for Catalan, Galician and Basque.

When Is a Student Not a Student? When There’s Money Involved!

Example student card

How do you identify a student? Sounds like the opening to a joke, and in many ways this isn’t far from the truth. A great number of services and products come with discounts to students, and discerning who is eligible therefore requires a little more care and attention than simply looking out for tousled hair, hangovers, piercings and berets. Most higher education institutions produce student identification cards, which might double as library cards, security cards and/or university credit cards, amongst other things. However, the vast range of designs and stamps means that identifying a student card could prove as difficult as trying to identify a student by the first glance rule.

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Advertising Takes The Logical Next Step

Zool: An early example of in-game advertising

We should be clear about one thing. In-game advertising isn’t new. And not just the self-effacing, tongue-in-cheek form of advertising epitomised by the Loom™-toting pirate in LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island. Anyone who remembers Zool from the early 1990s might recall the Chupa Chups sponsorship deal, and the FIFA series has been using advertising on their billboards for many years, though what with ‘image rights’ being big money for clubs and players alike, the football genre could be said to have entrenched itself in the realm of ‘reverse’ advertising.

Nevertheless, the presence of advertising in games has been pretty low key, considering the industry’s growth over the past decade or so. Advertising is not usually so slow to find its way into new forms of media entertainment, Internet advertising being the biggest example of recent times. So the news that in-game advertising rights for Counter-Strike (the ‘big one’ as far as non-MMORPGs is concerned) have been sold to IGA should only come as expected. Previously adverts for Valve’s flagship had been reserved for brief loading screens, an idea which apparently never took hold. Where Internet advertising has had much reaction to the point where many people block out adverts as a matter of course, this will be more difficult to achieve in such a gaming environment, and should it succeed, might result in future games featuring truly hard-coded advertising avenues.

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Forest of Dennis

A forest. Not Dennis’

A programme on the beeb yesterday dealing with Britain’s economy, entitled What’s Britain Worth? and hosted by Peter Snow and his son, featured a short interview with one of the nation’s wealthiest men, Felix Dennis. Aside from the rather astute observation he made about the wealthiest members of society (“They’re all shits!”), Dennis talked about the creation of his legacy, the self-named “Forest of Dennis”.

Dennis’ plan is to create a 25-30,000 acre broadleaf forest in the British Midlands. Buying up land, often under aliases, he estimates the project to cost in the region of £200-300 million of his private estate, plus an equal amount in donations over a period of years through a charitable foundation. Said to be the largest forest plantation in 500 years, as Dennis stated his reason for going ahead with this project beyond the simple ego-trip, is that in his happy financial position he is able to put capital behind an initiative like this which neither private finance nor government is prepared to do, and yet his gift to the community is something many can appreciate and all will benefit from 1If we take as gospel some basic assumptions about carbon trapping in reforestation, and the effects of CO2 on the climate. Whether the planting of forests can be seen as sustainable (it is only the outsourcing of agriculture which allows such reforestation initiatives) is yet to be seen.

As one of those “shits” of the upper echelons then, it might well be regarded that Dennis’ project is the result of an ego-trip from a man with no offspring or family to leave his millions to. Some cynics might even suggest it is an attempt to atone for his previous excesses of drugs, alcohol and women. And both might be true. But in the end this wayward form of philanthropy can do little harm and might do a fair bit of good. As for the forest’s name, as Dennis himself says, the forest will be known by what the people who walk there call it. Or perhaps it will stick, like an early 21st century Saltaire?

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1. If we take as gospel some basic assumptions about carbon trapping in reforestation, and the effects of CO2 on the climate. Whether the planting of forests can be seen as sustainable (it is only the outsourcing of agriculture which allows such reforestation initiatives) is yet to be seen

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