Computing (geek)

Yesterday I attended a STAR project workshop. Semantic Technologies for Archaeological Resources. It is a joint University of Glamorgan and English Heritage project and aims to:

“investigate the potential of semantic terminology tools for widening and improving access to digital archaeology resources, including disparate data sets and associated grey literature.”

What they were showing yesterday was a demonstrator, which seemed to work really well. You could search across datasets (including the Silchester LEAP stuff *hooray!*) and use a very simple interface to search on contexts, finds, samples or groups. Everything relies on being able to map datasets to the CIDOC-CRM EH version using existing guides like the National Monuments Thesauri, MIDAS lists and other FISH approved terminology lists.

The whole day was interesting but what I think really stood out was the potential for searching the vast amount of grey literature (see for example OASIS). Okay, so the demonstrator wasn’t perfect, some of the natural language processing sometimes got it a bit wrong, but isn’t that better than the current alternative – which is to search them all by eye?! I loved it. Second place for exciting idea of the day goes to the potential in the demonstrator to search across datasets that relate to your own research interest. I can see how you could (relatively quickly) come up with basic distributions for a particular site or find type based on the grey literature and excavation database. You could start to use this to redress the huge gap between what academics say a distribution of thing x is and what recent commerical excavations have added. Like using the Portable Antiquities Scheme but for actual excavation data!

Awesome, says I. Real, actual progress in archaeology. Well done Glamorgan and EH.

Fable 2 came out last Friday and i bought it on saturday. Today is tuesday. I’ve already spent a stupid amount of time heroing, and have almost put real life time after work on hold. Seriously addicted.

The sort of plot is as follows. You start life as a wee street urchin in a town. Some evil dude who lives in the castle kills your sister after the two of you discover a magic box. A blind lady (voiced by zoe wanamaker) takes you to a gypsy camp where you spend years training to seek revenge and become a hero. Oh, and oyu get a dog companion. The young adult you then has adventures, makes gold, takes mundane jobs when there are no baddies to kill, buys new clothes, buys weapons, eats, drinks rum, has sex, kills more evil things, kills some good things, makes decisions. You can use your gold to buy pretty much everything in the game, from whores to houses. You can get married and have a family (though this doesn’t really appeal, even to the adventurer me) but you have to maintain them in the manner to which they are accustomed. Every decision you make affects you, makes you pure or corrupt, ugly or attactive, good or evil and so on. These alignments take physical manifestations, so that if you are pure you look angelic and grow tall and lovely, but if you do evil things (like eat live baby chickens) you grow horns and become warty. Your appearance affects how others in the game see and react to you. Which is pretty cool.

There are a few reasons for my addiction, and for those of you without an xbox I shall explain. I probably don’t need to explain to anyone with an xbox as you all have Fable 2 anyways. The last time I looked at xbox live *everyone* i know was playing it. At 1am.

  1. Fable 2 is a ridiculously pretty game.
  2. The characters (Hero, Dog and NPC’s) are just so cute! Even when they are bloody ugly and have all scars and magic lines.
  3. I like that eating pies and sleeping too much makes your character appear fatter, who wants to eat tofu and celery anyway?
  4. The main story doesn’t have to be the point – the other quests are fun to play too. I particularly enjoy the revenge ones, and the ones that reward you with teddy bear dolls 🙂

Which make me ponder – how much time is too much time to play computer games? Previously, i was inclined to say there were never enough hours in the day for anything, and that free time is just that, free time to do as you wish. But now, seen as I’ve slept in already this week due to adventuring the previous evening, late night gaming may have to become a more weekend activity? That, or I need to earn some real life willpower points 😛