Now I’m really mad about the $23 parking!

Back at the beginning of the month, as I ranted about, I had to go to the Hennepin County Government Center to apply for a duplicate title for my car.

Joy of joys, through the ineptitude of various government agencies (and/or specific employees therein — and believe me, I want to believe in good, efficient government, so it pains me to have cause for criticism), I had to go back today to apply to have my application expedited (now? after 4 weeks?) because for whatever reason, it hasn’t been processed yet.

This time I did not park in the privately operated parking garage directly across from the government center. I parked in a city-operated garage right next to it. The two are physically connected. I had to walk approximately a total of 100 extra feet, indoors, as a result of this parking choice.

The city garage charges $1.50 per half hour. I was there for an hour and a half, so I paid $4.50. But if I had been there for three hours, as I was during my trip downtown at the beginning of this month, it would have cost $9. $9, instead of $23. So for the convenience of avoiding a few extra steps of walking, and the privilege of feeding your money into a talking machine (it’s the wave of the future!) instead of interacting with an actual human at the exit of the garage, the private company charges a premium of $14 for three hours of parking.

Maybe the government isn’t so bad after all.

Speaking of the government being bad or not, on the way to the car I saw one of my favorite old Skyway buskers — the guy who looks and sounds vaguely like a mustachioed José Feliciano. He was singing an original composition, “Let’s All Throw Our Shoes at the President.” Now that’s something I’d have paid $23 for.

A great video review of what makes the new Prince of Persia game so unique

A former coworker tipped me off to this video, originally posted here. It’s a video review of the author’s choice for “game of the year,” and it’s not what you might think.

Well, OK. I know you’ve read the title of this post. So yes, it’s probably exactly what you might think. He makes a compelling case for what is so unique and revolutionary about this game.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I got Prince of Persia from my parents for Christmas and have been playing it for the past few days. I’ve gradually been coming to realize on my own what this reviewer is talking about.

At first I was kind of shocked (and a little disappointed) when I realized that you couldn’t die in the game. Too easy! I thought. But I have had many game experiences in the past like what he describes, where if you screw up you have to start over at the beginning of the level. Extremely frustrating. With Prince of Persia, I was initially somewhat put off by the discovery of this “no death” policy, but as I played on I realized that the developers built in the proper challenges and rewards in other ways.

When you’re battling a boss for instance, when you do something that would have caused you to die in another game, in the few moments while you’re being rescued by the princess who accompanies you on the adventure, the boss regains some of its energy. So, in other words, you do still get “punished” — it will now take longer to beat the boss — but you’re never thrown completely out of the experience and forced to repeat your steps again and again until you just happen to get it right.

That’s the thing that’s really revolutionary about this game: it allows you to keep on with the necessary trial and error until you learn what to do, not in a pathetically easy way, but in a non-frustrating way. You still have to figure out what to do, and develop skill with certain maneuvers, or you’ll never get past certain obstacles. But unlike with other games that force you to go back to well before the point where you’re currently stuck, and then repeat several minutes of things you’ve already done, you can just keep at it until you get it right. Imagine having to do that “repeat several minutes” thing 10 or 15 times when you’re up against a challenge you’re particularly struggling with, and you’ll see why I’ve left so many games unfinished. And I’m an “experienced gamer!” Sort of.

Version SNAFU

Today I updated WordPress for an “urgent security release,” and as usual there are unexpected side effects. For some reason now, my sliding sidebar panels no longer work. No JavaScript errors; they just don’t do anything. I blame a Scriptaculous update that is probably embedded within. I hope within the next 24 hours to diagnose and fix the problem, but for anyone (emphasis on “one”) who’s wondering why the panels aren’t working, here’s a semi-explanation.

Update (1/1/2008): File under SEU. I think the problem was simply that I needed to clear my cache. The first suspicion was aroused when I fired up MAMP, ran the site locally, and found that the sliders were working just fine. At any rate, I re-uploaded all of my theme files plus the Scriptaculous and prototype.js files, cleared my cache, and now it’s working.