contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Archive for the ‘games’ Category

GTD like Your RPG Avatar Builds Real-Life Character

Posted by contentgrrl on April 8, 2011

I love lists. I’ve used so many systems: daily checklists on my tear-off-a-day desk calendar from the ’80s, Franklin Covey and Success Management Institute in the ’90s, FlyLady’s Control Journal in the 2000’s. Post-it notes to be rearranged and updated daily on my wall. Folders/binders front and center for each duty or project, with immediate next steps clipped on top. Calendar time reserved for a couple of weeks ahead when I need to devote my attention and dissuade distractions and ding reminders.

And I gotta say I’ve accomplished a lot: master’s degree, happy career, healthy family, some spiritual development along the way, and forays into wide-spread interests. Not perfect by any means; always room for improvement.

Now I’m an iPhone app hound :P, especially for recurring tasks so I don’t have to write them down again.

My two current faves:

  • At home, I use [url=http://www.homeroutines.com/]HomeRoutines [/url]for its program inspired by [url=http://FlyLady.net]FlyLady.net[/url] to encourage good household and decluttering habits. I am motivated to fill up those stars!
  • For both home AND WORK, I use [url=http://www.epicwinapp.com/]EpicWin [/url]for its chores to-do lists inspired by role-playing games (RPGs). I build (“level up”) character in real life for quests, and feats of strength, stamina, intellect, social, and spirit. I use mine for work and various project to-dos.

I also get virtual loot, and can update Twitter and/or Facebook as follows: “I’ve been doing my chores and just scored a Undercover Shrubber – Epic Win! http://bit.ly/ao6xRS”. I’ve got several work to-dos slated there.

One site I have liked for fitness and diet is [url=http://www.sparkpeople.com/]Sparkpeople[/url]. But it is so rich in content, tools (menus, calorie counters, tracking databases, reports) and community (login point spinner, groups, blogs, forums, gifts, statuses) that it can be overkill. Eventually it becomes a time-sucking distraction from actually getting out and burning calories.

I keep falling off the wagon there. I tried to simplify – merely log in to note that yes I’ve exercised for 20 minutes today, and I’ve drunk 8 glasses of water, and eaten 5 fruits & veggies. The SparkPeople iPhone app is more about logging calorie intake and burnoff, which is not my program.

Now I can do my three simple daily health to-dos on my iPhone in HomeRoutines and/or EpicWin.

How do you get things done?

What do you do to build your own real-life character?

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Posted in games, grrly, heroes, heroines, performance, project management, tools, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Making Work Addictive like World of Warcraft

Posted by contentgrrl on March 8, 2010

Hi, my name is Tere, and I’m a workaholic. The projects I do and the communications I draft make me feel productive, needed, adept.

But I am extremely averse to housework. I have tried to reframe it in terms of blessing my home, blessing my family and pets, blessing the neighborhood, blessing the friends and family who visit. That works sometimes. But more often I just downright hate pulling the same weeds that cropped up last year and picking up the same clutter as yesterday.

Today I was reading Jim Lee’s blog on KMEdge.org, Knowledge: How Much Is Too Much? and especially his comment lower down in response to another link, A better way to manage knowledge. The Harvard Business Review article said,

“the real value is in creating new knowledge, rather than simply ‘managing’ existing knowledge. …That’s why we’re not keen to spend time entering our latest document into a knowledge management system. …

We’ve found in our research into environments like World of Warcraft (WoW) that new knowledge comes into being when people who share passions for a given endeavor interact and collaborate around difficult performance challenges.

The HBR article touted how WoW player Gullerbone completed The Burning Crusade expansion pack within an impressive 28 hours after its release in 2007. How did he do it? By using his guild, and related videos, blogs, wikis that make up the social media “knowledge economy.”

Jim Lee’s response: “I’ve said for some time if ‘KM systems’ could mimic the behaviors of WOW players, that we would see immediate impact and improvment [sic] of collaboration and outcomes.”

I sometimes feel the same way about updating old documentation as I do about cleaning the toilet. It’s gotta be done, but it makes me feel all grungy, and I’ll just have to do it again soon enough.

Fishing in World of Warcraft, by Captain Oblivious on Flickr Creative CommonsIn World of Warcraft, that kind of chore is akin to fishing. If you want to level up your skills enough to make some great coin and get the ingredients for the meals that will elicit extraordinary buffs for your guildies in raids and dungeons, you gotta pay your dues in the water. Many dedicated players are so addicted to getting that next level, they don’t mind putting in a few hours at the shore. Of course, it’s not as physically messy as it would be away from keyboard.

And so I’m trying to find a new way to reframe some of work’s less glamorous chores.

I wish that someday we may bring the addictiveness of gameplay into the world of work, and even (ugh!) housework. Can you imagine being able to track in reality:

  • how much coin you’re earning or wasting on your current task,
  • the buffs you gain by eating well/working out/working well with certain people, and
  • the upgrades/badges/titles you can win along the way?

Wish, wish, wish…

Meanwhile, here are the ways I’m making my chores more attractive:

  • Breaking them down into bite-sized chunks. For example, I made a long outline of what I need to do, and categorized it, counting the documents and estimating how much will fill a half hour or an hour.
  • Scheduling the bite-sized chunks across several days.
  • Rewarding myself for completing a bunch of chunks with a fresh cup of Joe and a break where I do something more creative like the next newsletter draft.
  • Testing it like my target audience would, and putting myself in their shoes when I find it easy to learn how to do what I want.

I’m glad I work in a place where the coffee is free, even the flavored kind, and the cleanup is minimal. 🙂

The next challenge is even more social: making technical edits fun for my wonderful developers, product managers, project managers, and technicians. There’s gotta be more than bringing cake and asking pointed questions. Any other thoughts?

Posted in community, games, grrly, learning, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Create Free Online Quizzes for your Blog, Site, Social Network

Posted by contentgrrl on November 12, 2008

OK, so I’m on my business system software company’s year-end task force. Every year for the last five years. The mission: to make year-end easier for both our customers and for our technical support team. That means publishing updated instructions, communicating tips, hosting customer Webinars, and conducting internal training.

This year, we were looking for a way to make it easy to hold other support techs accountable for setting up their test systems, practicing lab procedures, and acquiring knowledge & troubleshooting skills.

Oh, sure. I’d love to have a Learning Management System. But do we have the budget for that? No. Is there an LMS that’s easy to implement? Maybe.

Meanwhile, are there free alternatives? Yes. Bingo!

I found ProProfs.com’s  QuizSchool. Here are 20 reasons I think it’s cool so far.

  1. It’s free. Woo-HOO!*
  2. It’s very user-friendly. YAY!
  3. It’s easy to share/publish via iframe on your site, or via email link, or via widget for your Blog/Forum/social media.
  4. You can create multiple choice questions, including multiple answer and true/false. There’s a standard limit of 5 possible answers.
  5. You can create short-answer or fill-in-the-blank questions, and give the system up to 5 possible versions of the expected answer, typical misspellings, and so on.
  6. You can create essay questions, and set a maximum character count.
  7. Although each question will accept any text, picture, logo, video, or media widget you want, the answers at the time of this writing are strictly text.
  8. For all questions, you can add explanatory feedback for display post-answer and/or on the detailed score report.
  9. Scoring is instant for multi-choice and short-answer questions, as long as you set the correct answer.
  10. For essays, although you can’t have the system automatically score it, the test author can review score reports with pending answers after a student has completed the test, and select how many points the essay answer has earned. The system automatically calculates how many points each essay can earn based on the number of points assigned to the entire quiz. Interestingly enough, somebody’s apparently using this as part of the process for conducting job interviews.
  11. You can customize the quiz banner with any text, picture, logo, video, or media widget you want. Same thing with the end-of quiz message.
  12. You can randomize the quiz questions to fight cheating.
  13. You can set the time limit up to 180 minutes (divide by 60, that’s three hours).
  14. ProProfs.com QuizSchool Score Options

    ProProfs.com QuizSchool Score Options

    You can customize the scoring criteria as shown here.

  15. On the score report, you can enable the display of scores, answers, and certificate of completion. The individual score report also allows students to enter comments and suggestions about the quiz.*
  16. You can set up a quiz as public or protected by password. *
  17. You can require that each student enter a name and/or password.*
  18. Each quiz’ score report shows each user’s attempts at a quiz, including their IP address, city/state, country, time taken, and link to their individual score report, with an option to delete attempts or entries.*
  19. Each individual score report lets the quiz author assign bonus points to add to the total score for any student’s attempt.*
  20. The quiz stats provide numerical and graphical representation of scores and pinpoint the locations of students on a world map.*

* Update May 2010: features marked with an asterisk (*) are available in Educational and Commercial versions that track scores/analytics and hide ads.

The only three things I have trouble with is:

  • There was no online help when I authored my quiz, and I had to experiment with a few things.
  • I worked for several hours on a number of questions without Saving Changes and lost it. Lesson learned: Save often.
  • I couldn’t find a way to limit the students to taking the test only once. (subject to change)

Word of advice: Save Changes after every question.

And although I keep forgetting my password (that’s user error, I kept forgetting whether I capitalized something) the Forgot Password process is super fast.

I’m looking forward to completing the 50-question Year-End Tech Support Knowledge & Troubleshooting quiz in a few hours. For the test data system setup, we’re using a checklist using the forms available on SurveyMonkey, where our company already has an account (SurveyMonkey, by the way, does not offer automated question scoring). For actual procedural lab work, we’re using a worksheet where you can compare before & after; I may eventually find the time to build a tutorial/exam around it.

I’m also looking forward to including a couple of quizzes right here in my blog. Should be fun.

Posted in community, games, learning, publishing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

wii steps closer to virtual reality in your living room

Posted by contentgrrl on February 1, 2008

o mii gosh! My husband found this video on YouTube, where Johnny Chung Lee, a grad assistant at Carnegie Mellon U’s human-computer interaction department, has adapted the Nintendo Wii remote to serve as a digital whiteboard and head tracking for VR displays.

It’s amazing what he does with some hardware driver programming, a PC, the Wii remote controls, and some basic items you can pick up at your local Radio Shack.

With head tracking turned on, the TV actually looks like an entrance to a real room. Just like in real life, when we move our head around, we can look behind objects. As you look closely, some targets appear to be floating off in front of the screen, reaching into the real world. As we get closer to the screen, we get closer to the objects, and even get behind the ones floating in front of the screen. (Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote on YouTube, 2:43)

Tom Cruise, Minority Report, finger LEDs, computer interfaceThe finger tracking technology is the future now. Remember how Tom Cruise flipped through images on a virtual interface in Minority report?I would love to see some games where you can look around corners like I always want to in a race or a stealth mission.

I’d also love to use that whiteboard, since you can “draw” right on the wall, and it can record your notes for later. Oh, collaboration!

Posted in games, heroes, office, tools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

5 Ws and H news writing questions: part 2, events

Posted by contentgrrl on January 23, 2008

In the art of writing is an art, we still use tried-and-true formulas to get started with researching, interviewing, and organizing basic news according to the 5 Ws and the H. We discussed policy examples last time.

Now, let’s look at how these questions can play out for news stories about events. Most of the questions below work for sports and other competitions, fundraisers, awards ceremonies, professional development conferences, training classes, filing deadlines, holidays, anniversaries, religious/commitment/memorial ceremonies, parties, club activities, meetings, and even sales.

  • Who is performing the event?
  • Who is organizing, funding and hosting the event?
  • Who are the guests of honor?
  • Who are the target attendees for the event?
  • What is the purpose or objective of the event?
  • What are the popular traditions of the event?
  • What is the newest focus of the event?
  • When – date and time – is the event scheduled?
  • Where – building/venue, room, city – is the event scheduled?
  • Why is it popular, or beneficial to attend?
  • How will special attendees be rewarded?
  • How many are expected, and/or how many attended? How much has attendance grown?
  • How much does it cost?

Next, we’ll look at how these questions can play out for other types of news stories: accidents and discoveries.

Posted in citizen, community, culture, games, publishing, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I gained 27 years in one day on our Wii — and a new Web browser

Posted by contentgrrl on January 3, 2008

Yay! According to Wii Sports, my fitness level improved 27 “years” since yesterday, based on my performance in boxing, tennis, and bowling. I think yesterday the level was based on boxing, tennis, and baseball. It does factor in strength, agility, and balance. But I think I’m just better at bowling than I am at baseball, even in real life. And I’ve got to give my dear husband some credit for his attempts to coach stubborn ol’ me. But the boyz and I are having a lot of fun together, cheering each other on.

We also started using Wii Points to buy a Web browser. My boys can now play Starfall in our TV room to learn to read, as well as other games (see my related series on free preschool games). But since the hunt-and-peck game is getting a little old while we enter Web addresses, we’re ransacking our closets looking for a USB wireless keyboard. Unfortunately some sites like NBC and SciFi have Flash applications that don’t support the Wii browser.

We also used some points to get some classic games from other systems, including Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time (originally Nintendo64). Sonic3 works fine, but the Ocarina wants the classic game controller instead of the Wii remote. Aargh for the delay.

But I’m just happy that after Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga, when we play with Legos in real life, my boys are suddenly building walls on their own, and a house for Yoda to sleep in, and a Star Destroyers to go flying through the house. Before, they could only watch as I helped them build cars, planes, and houses. They were never so creative; they never really knew what worlds and stories they could build.

And so I gush, we are so thrilled with our Wii. Thanks, dear Granny, Grandpa, and Uncle!

Posted in games, grrly, performance, What They Play | Leave a Comment »

my Wii fitness level 59 and Lego Star Wars

Posted by contentgrrl on January 2, 2008

For Christmas, the grandparents on my side got the kids a Wii, with much thanks to my dear brother, who pulled favors with his connections in the local Wal-Mart.

So we’ve had the console, Wii Sports, an extra set of controllers, and Lego Star Wars the complete saga, for a week now. My husband played the Wii Sports with the boys and his nephew for five hours on Christmas Day. He started out with a fitness age of 63, and is now at age 28 after seven days and a sore shoulder from boxing, baseball, golf, tennis, and bowling. I just tried the fitness test today, and I wanted to record my age of 59 with a similar goal.

I feel we’re in pretty good company. After all, if frugal guru Trent of The Simple Dollar can justify it, then so can I.

I should say that my sons love playing golf, especially when they hit the ball into the water hazard. They do the same with Tiger Woods on the PC. But this way they actually stand up and swing instead of hitting keys. It does indeed get us off our collective buns.

Wii golf water hazard

Not to say there aren’t more sedentary alternatives. Lego Star Wars, for which we mostly sit, has been both fun and frustrating, partially because of the required fine motor skills that my boys just don’t have yet, and partially because my boys don’t want to destroy all the things that will score you enough points to get to the next level or build a minikit.

But my preschoolers now know this epic very well. They can name all the characters, creatures, and machines like the geeks their parents are. And it’s fun playing out scenes like Luke on a tauntaun on icy Hoth, being attacked by that Wampa monster, hanging upside down, grabbing the light saber with the Force’s telekinesis, and cutting off the monster’s arm (one of the brothers works very hard to take his arm out of his sleeve, and then falls dramatically to the floor).

Video courtesy of NextGenWalkthroughs.

Posted in games, grrly, performance, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: honorable mention

Posted by contentgrrl on December 16, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Here are our honorable mentions, which don’t get visits from us every week:

Dreamworks’ Over the Hedge site:

Over The Hedge site

Great characters, great animation. But not the most creative games: There’s a maze, a matching game, a “collect-the-nuts” game, and so on.

NickJr Playtime for Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go.

Funschool for a fairly engaging curriculum for many ages, and lots of variety of games for each level.

BoowaKwala for games up to age six, on a site that also offers games and craft activities up to age 10.

The Land of Cyke for games that focus on healthy emotional development for children.

Meddybemps for simple activities designed to prepare young children for learning across many different concepts and skills.

Posted in games, heroes, learning, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 4

Posted by contentgrrl on December 12, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Fourth on my list are two similar sites from HiT Entertainment: Not the most creative of games, but nice brand-wise.

Thomas Train

Thomas Train site

Of course my boys love trains, and play with their cousins’ set at Grandpa’s. This site has their favorite characters, and like my brother at their age, they love to learn the parts and vocabulary of trains and other vehicles.

So there’s a race, jigsaw puzzles, a matching game, building with drag-and-drop Legos, and more.

I like the fact that this brand emphasizes the value of being Really Useful.

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder site

Of course my boys love those big construction machines!

Again, there’s a race, a “collect-the-sunflowers-for-points” game, more jigsaw puzzles, building with drag-and-drop Legos, and so on.

Posted in games, heroes, learning, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 3

Posted by contentgrrl on December 10, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Third on my list is PBS Kids:

PBS kids site

Like Playhouse Disney, PBS is also high on my list, but not as popular with my boys. Curious George unfortunately keeps getting in trouble, so I’m not sure I want to encourage sneaky unsafe behavior; but some of the games are nicely challenging in terms of pattern recognition (skates) and animal-sound matching. Much to my husband’s chagrin, they discovered Teletubbies, which plays on my boys’ love of babies to a cloying extent. But then there’s the Sesame Street, Between the Lions, and Mister Rogers. There are dozens of other show-related subsites for older kids too.

Posted in culture, games, heroes, learning, reading, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »