The “Information Artifact” Game – Bios 2007

This year’s Bios party wasn’t (at least from the viewpoint of our psychedelic decorations crew Vytvarny Krouzek Ctverecek) as hectic and full of work as previous years, and so I used the time to prepare a slightly different kind of project.

The party was in the middle of beautiful woods, but most people tend to spend the whole day around the camp, drinking beer and socializing. Not that there’s something bad about it, I just thought they could like a change. So I prepared a game, a “treasure hunt”, like those played in summer camps for kids. The goal was to introduce a story, which would engage people a bit and give them a challenge, and take them for a walk. I also wanted the story to help with a proper set & setting for the night, so it’s in my favorite “psy-fi” (psychedelic fiction :) style.

Only a fragment of people went for the walk – I knew about 6 groups, but perhaps a few more went too. But this was expected, and I was curious whether someone would like the idea at all. The reactions were “OK” to “very good”, just one team complained that the “walk” was actually quite long (about 2 hours) and not trivial – however, that was the point, and it seems that I managed to strike the balance quite well – it wasn’t too easy, but it wasn’t hard either. Most of the game was about following colored-paper marks, and I was pleased when I was told that it was quite possible to use intuition to find the next mark.

The story itself was composed of two parts. First, there were messages and comments left by someone, who went ahead of the players. The second part was information, leaking from the “Information Artifact”, which advanced the story itself.

First comment was available in the camp, together with the key to first cypher, which was placed on a rock above the camp valley and contained first part of the actual story.

Those are the messages as you would meet them on the way. By the way, if anyone has photos from the game, please let me know.

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Vim – next level in text editing

As someone who spends considerable time in front of a computer screen (or two), I knew that there were two groups of people, supporting two text editing systems – Vi/Vim and Emacs. The relations between these two is like the relation between Windows and Linux – both are considered superior by their supporters. I knew that both are supposed to take text editing, particularly for coders, to the next level in speed and possibilities, and that both are supposedly harder to learn, because most people are used to “classic” style of working with text using arrows and ctrl-arrows, shift for selecting, home/end, etc.

I also knew that this style of text editing is very limited – getting the cursor to the right place on a page full of text takes numerous arrow- and ctrl-arrow key presses, or requires you to grab the mouse. For a large group of computer users, this is no problem. However, if you’re using your computer for programming, and are interested in seriously boosting your productivity (not to mention other advantages, like being able to switch between platforms), everyone who’s made the jump will tell you that it’s worth it.

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