Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!

22Jul/150

Mike’s Playing Ingress!

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Mike’s Playing Ingress! Are You?

For the past few of months, I have been playing a great new game on my mobile phone called Ingress. At first I knew relatively little about the game, other than my sister and her boyfriend like to play it, and that they recently went to Cardiff to play with others in a large scale battle called an Anomaly. Well that was three months ago. I am now level 9 and ready to rumble! I got all geared up for another large scale battle called Persepolis, an Anomaly in Liverpool which was lots of fun!

I shall start at the beginning, for all you people not already playing Ingress, it began in 2012 with a company called Niantic Labs, who are made up of ex-googlers.

If you want to find out more about Ingress check out the wiki:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingress_(game

I would recommend the main website, https://www.ingress.com/ but it is a little story heavy, to just find out the basics and see if it is for you, I suggest you read the wiki. Essentially, it is a GPS location based game that is a turf war between two opposing factions, an MMORPG where the player is struggling for personal growth as well as team scores as is the case with other RPGs. Each team must capture either uncaptured portals, or those held by the opposing team, either way you gain experience (AP) and a little bit of local notoriety. Anyone on your team coming across your portal will know that you captured it, and either add modifications, or upgrade resonators or hack it for items (read the wiki if this bewilders you, or for more info on in game terms check out http://izziebytes.net/ingress-slang-lingo-terminology-guide/ ). If someone on the other team happens across it, they can also hack it for items, but they get zapped and lose XM (Exotic Matter, the "Energy" in the game)! They can also use weapons called XMP Bursters, or Ultra Strikes to neutralise your portal and then capture it themselves. You can link portals to each other into little triangles called fields and these are what determine the team scores. There are also lots of acheivement badges, which aren't essential to the gameplay, but help keep track of your progress in increments rather than simply having AP and levels.

New Portals are user submitted, and are usually places or structures of some historical or cultural interest or importance. Even particularly interesting graffiti is considered “portal worthy”, and good graffiti does tend to stay where it is, especially in cities like Manchester, where I live and play. I have had a lot of fun playing the game, and get a real kick out of submitting portals, and missions as this is a digital legacy that will live on long after I’m gone (in theory!). 

What I like most about the game is the social element, I have met up with dozens of people all thanks to being out playing a game on my phone, which is usually a solitary and isolationist experience.  Much like golf has been for hundreds of years, it is a great way to network and a great icebreaker to talk about with strangers. https://xkcd.com/1143/

 

 You can chat with other players on either team in the comms, and find out about local players by checking activity on your scanner, or if you play for a while, you may get invited to chat on a third party app (most commonly used is hangouts, which links well with Google plus).  You can even DATE other Ingress players! http://ingresssingles.com/

Other games like this, such as Facebook games, have an element of social chat, but mostly, this is so that the makers of the game can make more money, however, there is very little money involved in Ingress. So far, there have been various deals with high street shops that have not gone well, and some sponsored items in the gameplay, such as the AXA shield, or the MUFG capsule and the Soft Bank link amp. These are the ONLY ADS IN THE GAME! It is not a freemium game, or a game that lets people, who can afford to, level up faster or buy better gear. It is open to anyone, and also available for Android and the Apple iPhone IOS.

When I first started playing, I was unemployed, and only able to afford to play for half an hour a day on the FreeBee wi-fi you can get in Manchester for free for 30 minutes. Now I am working, I can afford to buy data bolt ons and it does tend to end up costing a fair amount every month, so I would recommend a decent data plan for people who play a lot.

If you would like an invite to play, leave a comment with your email address and I will send you one, you don’t need one, but I will get my recruiter badge if I invite you first!

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13Jul/150

Ironing: Why do we still do it?

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I don't iron any clothing and haven't for about 10 years now. Why do people iron their clothes? It certainly isn't to make them last longer, or to save time, or to make sure that people know that they washed them. Is it to make the clothing appear as though it is brand new out of the packaging? It could also be to make sure people are aware that the person wearing the ironed clothing is wealthy enough to afford to iron their clothes; and certainly wealthy enough to not have to work hard enough physically to crease said clothing. At least, that's why the Victorians still ironed their clothes.

People sometimes point out my creased shirt and ask questions, such as "Did you forget where your iron is?" or give advice like "If you roll your shirt up it won't crease up as much in your bag after you've ironed it!". I usually placate them with throwaway lines like "Well, I cycle to work and change when I'm here, so I don't bother.", but this is not the whole truth. I vehemently disagree with ironing on an ethical and ecological level. I am not just lazy...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironing

After reading about the history of ironing, I am still bewildered why this custom and tradition is kept up. It is clearly a class issue, those of the upper classes used to be the only ones with ironed clothes, now the lower classes can buy an iron for less than two hours wages. However what is the ecological impact ironing has on the planet, and don't we all hate doing it? I am clearly not the only one out there with such questions:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2011/sep/02/ironing-save-energy-electricity-consumption

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/my-fashion-footprint-is-your-wardrobe-bad-for-the-planet-887027.html

An excerpt from the 2nd article in the Independent sums up what I had already felt on a more philosophical level, I always assumed that ironing used more energy in joules than even the mechanical energy required to spin them in the washing machine:

"A couple clicks of the mouse, then a figure appears at the bottom of the screen. Our household EDUs is 1,282. A breakdown shows that our actual clothing EDUs is quite low at 558. But then there's the laundry, which at 724 EDUs is slightly alarming. It includes 324 from washing and a whopping 400 from ironing.

The ironing is what did us in, more environmentally damaging than our washing. "It's like having the kettle switched on for seven hours straight," says Phil. But more shocking, if we add seven tumble-dryer loads a week. The figure more than doubles..."

Obviously the excerpt and the full article, (well worth a proper read) allude to the fact that tumble drying is also pretty ecologically harmful. I don't tumble dry myself, but I may on occasion have been tempted to as it is a functional device. We don't like to wear wet clothes, we may be forced to wear something soon after washing it, and it won't dry naturally quickly enough. I plan around the fact I don't have an iron or a tumble dryer by washing my clothes before I need to wear them by a few days (usually...). the article then goes on to give bulletpoint advice on improving the ecological impact of your wardrobe:

"iron only where necessary..."

When is ironing necessary? I can't imagine.

I am clearly not the only person writing about this issue:

http://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a20837015/anti-ironing_campaign

http://h2g2.com/entry/A361522/conversation/view/F44694/T105842/page/1/

http://davewalker.cc/stop-ironing/

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/housekeeping/a1840119-How-to-give-up-ironing-without-crunchy-towels-etc

If there is one thing to take away from reading this webpage, STOP IRONING!

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