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Musings on Doctor When, making good products, and the Five-Man Band [Jul. 11th, 2012|05:39 pm]
onigame
I found myself thinking the other day about Doctor When, and on how well the meeting team (by which I mean the four people that came to almost every meeting) tended to work together and take on "spokesperson" roles. Basically, we had four people who had these four focus areas:

* Attention to the Big Picture: Allen was always very mindful of the overall story and vision behind the game, and would speak up if we seemed to stray too far from that vision.
* Attention to Details: Wei-Hwa was focused on small imperfections and ways to improve things, working on backup plans and wanting to make sure that there'd be as few unexpected surprises as possible.
* Attention to Customers: Sean was always conscious of how our game would be perceived by the players, on whether certain things would be fun or not fun.
* Attention to Reality: Erik tended to be the sanity check, who would make sure that what the others wanted to do was feasible, whether we had time to do things. This person often tended to be the "swing vote" in cases where we disagreed.

Of course, all four of us shared some aspects of each of the four focus areas; it wasn't a fight between viewpoints since we all appreciated each other's viewpoints.

What I was thinking is that this applies to making almost all products, and not just a weekend-long puzzle hunt. A good product is made by someone who can pay attention to all four aspects. Often there's a reason why a small product tends to suffer -- it's because it was designed by one person or a small team, and they failed to pay attention to one or more of those four aspects.

I also wonder if there is a mapping between the four aspects and the four classical temperaments (you know, the stuff that covers everything from Ninja Turtles to Greek philosophy). Something like:
* Attention to Big Picture = Choleric (Raphael)
* Attention to Details = Melancholic (Leonardo)
* Attention to Customers = Sanguine (Michaelangelo)
* Attention to Reality = Phlegmatic (Donatello)

Ah, but later on the Phlegmatic gets separated into the Leukine and Phlegmatic II. Perhaps not coincidentally, we actually have five members of the core team -- Melissa, Erik's wife, didn't participate actively in the meetings but did a lot of work for us and gave opinions when necessary. Although I wouldn't consider her temperament to be the classic Leukine, I certainly can see it matching her level and style of participation.

So that sets a mapping from our group to the Five Man Band trope:
* Allen = The Lancer
* Wei-Hwa = The Smart Guy
* Sean = The Big Guy
* Erik = The Hero
* Melissa = The Chick

Back to thinking about making good products, I wonder what the missing fifth element (analogue to the Leukine) would be?
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Interviewed about a Puzzle Hunt [May. 9th, 2012|03:03 pm]
onigame
http://hotsheet.snout.org/2012/05/snoutcast-116-model-growth-connector-2.html

I was interviewed by Curtis Chen and DeeAnn Sole for their podcast about puzzle hunts. The cast went long, probably because of my complex stories.
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Thoughts on Privacy (no puzzle here) [May. 9th, 2012|03:02 pm]
onigame
Some of the ensuing discussion over one of my previous rants has made me think some more about the nature of making one's posts public.

Generally, there's a rule of thumb going around, saying "Don't post anything in public on the Internet that you wouldn't want to have your mother read on the front page of the New York Times."

While a reasonable rule of thumb, it's not a cut-and-dried answer. Take, hypothetically, this very post I'm typing right now, which I'm sending to "Public". Suppose it shows up on the front page of the NYT and my mother reads it. I don't have a problem with her realizing that I'm writing this, nor about the content of this. But if such a scenario were actually to happen, my mother would ask a bunch of follow-up questions, such as:

"Why did the New York Times decide to print your post? Are you considered very important for some reason? Did you get paid for writing it? Should you be? Did you give them permission? How come none of your other friends got front-page articles in the New York Times? Why are you portraying me like a nagger in your post? You are really embarrassing me by talking about me in the New York Times."

Now those questions, I would find very annoying. (Okay, the last one isn't a question.) So to answer the original rule-of-thumb, I'd have to say, yeah, I don't want my mother reading this post on the front page of the New York Times. But that seems like a very poor reason to stop the post from being public. What matters is profile and context -- my post may be very innocuous, but by placing it on the front page of the NYT, it introduces connotations that aren't in the post itself, namely that somehow I'm more important than all the other ranters on the Internet or that what I have to say is more important somehow.

If, say, the front page of the NYT was in the general habit of printing a random blog entry every day on their front page, then things are different. I can just say "Hey Mom, it was just random, I'm not anyone special." She'll still have annoying questions but I can deal with those.

So, what I'm trying to illustrate with this is that, when making a decision on whether to make something public, context and profile matter. Privacy is not a binary decision. There is plenty of technically publicly-available information that is de facto private.

But everyone knows that. What is more subtle is that this distinction works at smaller scales. My e-mail address is public -- anyone who is dedicated enough can easily find it and send me an e-mail. I don't mind that someone who honestly wants to send me a message can. But I do mind if my e-mail shows up on top of everybody's radar, saying "hey I think you should e-mail Wei-Hwa". Or, for another example, if you dig hard enough you can make some pretty accurate estimates about my wealth. I don't care enough to hide it, but I don't want it broadcasted either to make me an easy target for spammers or worse.

I'm not sure how much people who are worried about privacy issues are thinking about these shades of gray. From all their discourse I sure get the feeling that everyone prefers to see privacy issues in black-and-white.
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Too Hard to be Published [Apr. 1st, 2012|02:22 am]
onigame
Here are the original versions of eight puzzles that I wrote for the all-night puzzle hunt Doctor When. All standard types, no weird rules.

Battleship

Futoshiki

Hashi

Kakuro

Ken-Ken

Minesweeper

Nonogram

Slitherlink
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Guess the Graph Returns! [Jun. 30th, 2011|10:50 pm]
onigame
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Sick of Livejournal Spam [May. 17th, 2011|05:55 pm]
onigame
Okay. No more anonymous comments. If you don't have a livejournal account and want to comment, send me an e-mail.
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Beijing International Sudoku Tournament, [May. 14th, 2011|02:04 pm]
onigame
Just pulled an all-nighter testing all the puzzles and making necessary corrections to the instructions and other rules. Now to sleep.
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(no subject) [May. 9th, 2011|07:44 pm]
onigame
Example Puzzles for the Beijing International Sudoku Tournament have been posted. I am going to arriving a few days earlier to go through and check the puzzles and advise other things regarding the competition.
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Not a computer [Feb. 8th, 2011|09:01 am]
onigame
I encountered a reCAPTCHA today that clearly depicted:

g∈G.

I knew what it was, but unfortunately I was unable to find the ∈ key on my keyboard.

UPDATE: Okay, this is getting worse:



Sadly, it rejected my attempt of Σ_k β_k^±.
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Maximum Carcassonne score with one meeple [Feb. 8th, 2011|04:58 am]
onigame
Dale Yu challenged me to get the highest score possible in Carcassonne with one meeple.

Here's my answer.
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