How to Help Tiny Tower Zombies Through Time Travel

Do you have a friend or a loved one who exhibits a strange fixation on an iphone game that makes them perform mindless repetitive tasks and mutter gibberish about “building new floors”, “dream jobs”, and “stocking the bowling alley” while producing cash register sounds. Don’t worry, these people did not go nuts – they are simply addicted to “Tiny Tower” – iPhone’s version of Farmville.

Tiny Tower is an insidious game: it’s designed to make its victims perform in-game routines wired to the pleasure center of the brain while keeping them comfortably numb. There’s something meditative in these repetitive tasks, they are akin to playing with prayer beads. The concept of the game also carries the religious theme, as the player is tasked with controlling the fate of “bitizens” – little pixel people, assigning their jobs and apartments. This feeling of control over the fake little world is its own reward.

After getting tired of seeing my co-workers spending their lunches hunched over their Tiny Towers I tried to put a stop to these “lunches of the living dead”. Cracking jokes about “tiny towers” didn’t work, and neither did the appeals to reason.

The most insidious part of the game is the fact that you need to spend a lot of time waiting for the items to be restocked and the floors to be built. I thought that the developers of the game would implement some kind of an independent timer, but they were lazy and used the system time. It turned out that the best way to fight the Tiny Tower zombification is to show how to change the system time (settings -> general -> date and time -> uncheck “set automatically”) so that the money accumulation and the floor building would go fast. Once that happens the whole addictive game dynamic is broken and you can again talk to your friends and colleagues.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers: A Professional Image Editor’s Guide to the Creative use of Photoshop for the Macintosh

Master the power of Photoshop CS3 with
an internationally renowned photographer by your side.

Adobes Photoshop CS3 comes with powerful new features with huge payoffs. But it can be overwhelming to learn, even for professional photographers, graphic designers, keen amateurs, and others who already have an initial grasp of Photoshop. Acclaimed photographer Martin Evening, who wrote the best-selling previous books, ‘Adobe Photoshop for Photographers’, makes it easy with this new, thoroughly updated edition.

* Illustrated throughout with before-and-after pictures more than 750 professional, color illustrations!
* Practical techniques and real-life assignments
* Step-by-step tutorials
* Keyboard shortcut reference guide

Includes FREE DVD with:
* QuickTime movie tutorials for MAC and PC
* Searchable tips on tools, palettes layer styles, and shortcuts
* Includes images selected for you to experiment with to get you up to speed with everything in the book, including the new Photoshop CS3 features, fast!
* Updated Camera Guide to help you decide which will best suit your needs, plus bonus Digital Capture chapter in printable PDF format

Uncover quickly exactly what Adobes CS3 now offers photographers. New tutorials focus on the key features introduced in CS3. You lose no time in finding out how to put your ideas to work with:

* Adobes Camera Raw 4 plug-in that can now also process TIFFs and JPEGs
* New Align controls for combining HDR images; Photomerge; new Clone Stamp; Curves dialog that now incorporates Levels functionality; and improved controls for Brightness/Contrast to match raw image processing controls
* The latest on Black and White adjustment, which provides all the black and white conversion tools you need for optimum monochrome conversions
* A pros scoop on choosing from among dozens of Photoshops image adjustment methods to get the results you want
* Tips on Bridge 2.0 and Lightroom when you should use each
* Top tactics for successful composite images, insider guidance on editing shadows and highlight adjustments, and lessons on how to preview and re-edit filter effects as many times as you want without complex workarounds

Get the preeminent advice from one photographer to another as Martin completely updates you on the core aspects of working with Photoshop, digital workflow, and improving accessibility. Real-life examples, diagrams, illustrations, and step-by-step explanations ensure that youre up to speed with the next generation of digital photography in no time!

Foreword by Adobe Systems’ key Director of Engineering, Digital Imaging, Marc Pawliger

* Over 750 professional, color images make this book stand above the rest
* New DVD! Searchable info explains tools, palettes & layer styles, also includes invaluable QuickTime movie tutorials
* Master the power of Photoshop CS3 under the instruction of an internationally recognised Photoshop expert & Adobe alpha tester

Photoshop CS3 Layers Bible

Creative professionals know how to tap Photoshop CS3’s Layers to achieve spectacular results, and now you can learn their secrets in this comprehensive book. How do you combine layers and masks? What’s the best way to work with Web images? From the newest CS3 features to successful layering strategies, you’ll discover the professional techniques and hands-on examples you need to succeed. Create composites that make an impact, organize your workflow, create great-looking and quick-loading Web images, and more.

Daddy’s Little Narc

For many years I’ve been passing a DEA museum that was located right in Times Square. Once, after work, I had a bit of time to kill, so I decided to see what was inside. Although there was a bit of a wait to get in as all the visitors’ bags had to be checked, the admission was free. I am glad I went there, as the museum is now closed. I have no idea how they could afford the rent.

The expected, yet educational portion of the exibits was not particularly interesting. Bongs, rolling papers, pipes and old Laudanum bottles. Big whoop.

Ecstasy tablets with funny logos and such. Also not very exciting.

But I think the people who came up with the idea of this museum and funded it smoked some of the exhibits, as the big installation pieces were rather artistic and surreal.

There was this interactive exhibit where you stand in what looks like a cheap motel room, but then you flick a switch and a wall slides over, showing you that your hypothetical neighbor is probably engaged in some illicit activities.

Even more surreal was a recreation of a Columbian cocaine lab, right in front of a glass window facing a busy Manhattan street.

Unfortunately it was late and the gift shop was closed and dark, but I spied this adorable little item:

Window Cube

After more than five years with my current company, I finally snagged the ultimate in attainable by mortal developers status symbols – the window cube. If I crane my neck and recline in my really uncomfortable chair, I can see the same Times Square Building that Joel and his co-workers can see from their comfortable Aerons, except from the opposite side.

What looks like a fake skyscraper with a hole in the middle is actually a side view of the superstructure that supports the electronic marquee. It looks like there’s a staircase inside the glass-enclosed space.

The Legend of Mavis Beacon

I was thinking of what typing software to get for my wife’s parents. I learned typing with “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing”. Looks like I’ve become much more inquisitive since then, because the question of “Who the hell is/was Mavis?” immediately came into my mind.

The history section of mavisbeacon.com was suspiciously “under construction”, so I started my search elsewhere.

Here is some great useless information that I dug up:

  • She does not age, but her hair style and skin color changes in different software versions.

  • She might fight terrorism.
  • This post is way off base, Captn Crunch is very, very real.
  • She has a competitor, one Mavis Bacon.
  • Mavis Bacon can perform feats of space management.
  • Seems like this New York Times article solved the problem, but I am too lazy to go through their payment screens.

So she was not real after all…

By the way, does anyone know of a program that would check grammar an punctuation as well as spelling?

Damn, it’s almost 3:30 AM.