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30th January 2007

7:19am: The other night, I went to see John Cale. We had a great time, though somewhat disappointingly, he stuck to his more rock-y songs. We were pretty excited when we saw the violas on stage, but they never got played. (It turned out that Venus in Furs was first on the set list, but it seems John decided it wasn't the night for it.) The songs I enjoyed were the ones in which he visibly lost himself, which also tended to be the ones with a less conventional sound.

One thing I really appreciated: the venue was non-smoking by John's request.

The main thing I took away was: I hope I have as much vitality when I'm 64. Some 45 years into his musical career, he's still kicking bum. Dal ati, John!

28th January 2007

11:07am: challenge
Despite having seen Kathy Sierra speak at GUADEC last year, her keynote at LCA was still engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking. One thing it tied nicely with was Rusty's talk about Wesnoth, in particular the part about stats.wesnoth.org, which collects information about players' progress through the game. Kathy talks about how important it is to get the amount of challenge in the things we make just right­ — the Goldilocks rule. If something is too easy, or too hard, people lose interest.

The Wesnoth statistics allow campaign developers to see when players give up on the game levels they write, or when they complete them too easily. This kind of feedback makes it much easier to get the difficulty just right. Perhaps we should be thinking about other feedback systems we can use to let us know when we're putting the wrong amount of challenge into our software.
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