16 January 2012

Toothpaste Games


As recently as last week I found myself shopping for toothpaste. As I was trying to overcome the frustrating sensations caused by my preferred toothpaste company once again changing their packaging, I began to carefully read the packages in hopes that some of the words from the box would help me remember which kind of toothpaste I normally get. I carefully noted that of the four types of my preferred brand of toothpaste that were available in my preferred supermarket, each type had one, and only one, special property that made it different from its siblings. I could choose the “original” formula (boring, but reliable), the teeth whitening formula (for those pearly whites I am supposed to be craving), an “extreme clean” formula to kill a few extra bacteria in my mouth (genocide in the mouth anyone?) and a sensitive formula for teeth that ache (my teeth know that there is no use whining so they do not).

As I was pondering these four choices it suddenly struck me how like video games buying toothpaste is. In many video games, especially shooter games, the player gets a choice, and usually only one, of a “power up” or “boost” with which to augment their character. Generally, the boosts are mutually exclusive (to have one means you cannot have another) and each has a unique, generally desirable, attribute. This is exactly how my preferred brand, and all the other brands for that matter, has expanded their offerings: they now give me added, unique and mutually exclusive boosts within their products.

Such it is that: if I want whitening, I can have it; if I want extreme cleaning, I can have it too; if I want no frills, I can have it no problem. I cannot, however, have extreme cleaning with whitening and certainly not whitening with sensitivity (come now, let us not be silly here). All this left me wondering why there was not an “ultimate formula” that included every boost available. I understand why I cannot have such in my video games (the game would no longer be challenging), but come on, this is toothpaste I am buying. I see no reason why there cannot be one tube “to rule them all.”

14 January 2012

Digital Journaling, Here I Come

With the end of the old year, I was pleased to find myself cleanly at the end of my journal. I love it when things end and begin cleanly. With nigh a page to spare I had to make a choice: buy a new journal or switch to a computerized journal.

The decision was hard mostly because I love paper memories so much. They somehow feel more fulfilling and better preserved (though I know that neither is really true). Perhaps it is just nostalgia. I tentatively started a digital journal to see how it worked and was pleasantly surprised, though I should not have been because I knew what the answer would be.

I have found that I am more apt to write in my digital journal, though in shorter burst (which I think is actually better; perhaps this is only because it is new and thus somewhat exciting and should writing will eventually wane, time will tell). Not only do I write more frequently but I can type faster and often more coherently (mostly because I can easily edit) than I can write my thoughts by hands. This means that I find my entries more meaningful and more passionate that many of my paper entries. Finally, I can record my thoughts wherever I may happen to be (oh, the beauties of technology).

In end, I think this foray into digital journal keeping has been mostly good all around.