Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

The review below originally appeared in Fully Booked's Zine. I highly recommend this book to any introverts or people with introvert friends or partners so that they can better understand themselves or their partners. I was originally wary of this book because I was worried it would be a rah!rah! book espousing the greatness of introverts, but I really like its balanced approach. If you're thinking about picking the book up, please consider doing so through my Amazon Affiliates link.

As a self avowed introvert, Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was a revelation to me.  It explained to me why it is that I don’t particularly like parties (introverts prefer meaningful conversations over light banter), why I like being early to meetings in areas I’m not familiar with (introverts are more comfortable when we know the area and “own” the space) and why working from home is the perfect situation for me (introverts are easy overstimulated and need quiet places for their minds to think).  These are things that I’ve always inherently known and understood about myself, but it’s good to know that there’s decades of research behind it.

 Cain also explores the “extrovert ideal” and why it has such a powerful hold on (mostly western) societies.  She links the extrovert ideal to the financial crisis of 2008, making the case that the collapse of so many financial institutions might have been averted had the advice of more cautious introverts been heeded.  Ultimately she argues that the best organizations have a good mix of go-getting extroverts and mindful introverts and gives both personality types the kind of working space that they need to excel.  

However it’s not just the office space that Cain explores in this book.  She offers up examples of introverts at school, as parents and children, in relationships, in religious institutions, and a variety of other social situations.  If this book were to come out as a distilled “How-To” guide for introverts it would shoot up to number one on the sales charts.  But even in its current in-depth form it is exactly the kind of book that an introvert would adore, one that promises a better understanding of themselves and of the world at large.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Dildo Factory Mod, Etc.

The last Alpha update for Prison Architect last year finally opened up the game to mods.  Clever people had already figured out a way to hack mods onto the game, but by opening up the gates PA's fans were finally allowed to go buck wild with their imaginations.

1. The Dildo Factory

When I sent a tweet to @IVsoftware notifying them of this mod, all they had to say was "surprised its taken them this long".  

Awwwww yeaaaah.  This is what modding was for right?  Those custom Stormtroopers are just plain adorable.  They have R2 droids too!

3. British Boarding School

Fancy playing a top-down version of Bully?  Well you're in luck! Coms complete with plush carpeting and everything.  Surely a Hogwarts mod is on the way.

4. Seasons Mod (4 seasons, get it? GETIT?)

This was one of the first mods that came out when the Alpha was released, and the aim is provide a different mod for whichever season we're currently in.  This was winter, so it featured snow on the trees, Snowmen as your workmen, and Santa Wardens.  Winter lends itself to this kind of modding, so I'd be curious to see what they do with spring (Easter Bunny Wardens?) and summer (Baywatch Prison?).

5. Clearer Needs Mod

This mod gave me the most pause, because it's very obviously critiquing my own work.  Specifically it takes issue with the iconography I used to describe the prisoners' needs.  If the mod were badly done I could laugh it off, but the thing is I sort of agree with this modder that the icons I made are unclear, especially at smaller sizes.  I got caught up with the idea of the body language of my prisoner icons helping to inform the icon and neglected the fact that at smaller sizes a lot of the detail would be lost.

I'm no stranger to critique and indeed I'm happy that someone took the time to think over the same design problem that I did.  However my built-in insecurity about the worth of my work reared its ugly head.  I had been paid to create those icons, and the guy that made this mod did arguably a better job than I did. So he should get my job, right?!?!?

But looking at the other mods I realized that essentially every modder thinks that he can do a better job than the original designers.  It's the very nature of modding!  So people will tweak the code, the settings and the art and make it something they think is "better".  It might be, but better is usually a matter of personal taste, in the same way that I'm using a launcher that completely changes the way Android works because I thought it was cool.

The moral of the story?  Just work as hard and as smart as you can and stop worrying so much about other people.  Looking forward to some more amazing mods!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


The sketch above is one of the many converted merchant warehouses that line the canal district of Kurashiki. It's available as a print on society6, as well as other sketches I've made over the course of our travels.

Me: Kono densha wa, Kurashiki e ikimasu-ka? (Does this train go to Kurashiki?)
Train Attendant: Hai! (Yes!)
Me: Domo Arigato (Thanks.)
Another train rolls up on the platform behind us
Train Attendant: Her eyes widen slightly, then she points to the train behind us and says... &@(&(*$@! (Something in Japanese)
Me: Looks confused
Train Attendant: Thinks really hard, then...FASTER!
Me: OH! Jumps onto train with Aissa.

2013 was supposed to be like that train.  I'd switched trains to go faster that year.  Towards what end I'm not sure really, but I hoped it would at least put me in a better place to achieve whatever it was I put my mind to in 2014.  Unfortunately, the metaphorical fast train kind of derailed in the middle of the trip.  There were some small victories of course, like winning the "inclusive mobility" award in the transit app challenge. I traveled to Korea and Japan again, and met some cool indie devs in Singapore during Casual Connect Asia. My marriage continues to be rock solid, and Aissa has had some great things happen in her own career.  So while I can't say it was the best year of my life, 2013 was good year, albeit one that scarred and humbled me.  I cannot say that I'm optimistic about 2014, but at the very least I think I know what I want now, and I just have to figure out how to get there, even if it means taking the slow train.