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The Life of P

Tag: child’s play

Charity Begins Online

As I always do around this time of year, I want to encourage everyone to donate to Child’s Play, the charity that shows the gaming community at its very best. Dozens of children’s hospitals worldwide (and now two in the UK) are signed up and you can donate games and toys that will make sick kids’ time in hospital that little bit more bearable. Last year I left it too late and nothing was left on the list for Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital so I donated to the Tulane Hospital for Children in New Orleans instead. Their thoughtful thank you note means this year I guess I’ll have to give to both. I’ve gone slightly off-piste by including copies of How To Train Your Dragon rather than just games, which means the kids will probably receive theirs before I do. This probably shouldn’t make me feel quite so jealous as it does.

I tend to use this time of year to reassess my regular donations to charity too (ideally in an upward direction). For those like me whose primary charitable contributions are sadly not in time but merely redistribution of wealth (my desired self-image as a sort of Robin Hood wielding a pen rather than a bow may not be wholly accurate), picking charities carefully is important, rather than knee-jerk responses to those who spend the most on advertising.

I want to highlight GuideStar UK, an organisation of which few seem to have heard, which provides a wealth of information on about 163,000 charities throughout England and Wales, including their financials. I was a fan of Intelligent Giving, which provided easy-to-understand analysis of charities based on size, salaries, quality of reporting, etc. Sadly the site closed following a merger with consultancy/think tank New Philanthropy Capital, and they seem more focused on consultancy to assist charities with their reporting. I hope to see them reopen something similar, but if anyone can suggest others analysing/rating charities in a similar way then I’d love to hear.

The only downside I’ve found is that it makes one more interested in checking the breakdown of how the money gets used and less likely to donate on the street, meaning you are actually likely to appear less charitable. But then appearance isn’t what it’s about, right?

Things I Nearly Forgot To Say Before Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us, and I nearly forgot to mention this year’s Child’s Play drive. For those unfamiliar, it is the gamers’ charity, started by Penny Arcade, which you can support by purchasing toys and videogames requested by participating children’s hospitals. Sadly the remaining items on the list for the UK’s Alder Hey Hospital are now unavailable, but might I suggest New Orleans as an alternative target for your generosity? Contributions so far have demolished the $1 million target, but that’s no reason to slow down.

You will by now have heard that Rage Against The Machine successfully won the close-fought chart battle to take the Christmas #1 spot. While it’s festive nature may be questionable, I must admit the news has left me feeling significantly more Christmassy than the alternative regurgitated ballad that I fear risks inducing narcolepsy and suicidal tendencies in equal measures (note: this is not an attack on Joe, who seems like a perfectly good singer and took defeat rather graciously in the end; it’s just an attack on the insipid song forced upon him). The real victory behind this is that it exposed many consumers to the wealth of legal music download services available beyond iTunes. Particularly since price comparisons were shown, it will have given many their first exposure to the great 7digital amongst others. Hopefully this will not only push people towards these services in general, but also make them savvy to shopping around rather than just lazily buying through iTunes.

And finally a few links gathering dust over the past couple of weeks:

  • “Torrents and the TARDIS”: an article on BBC America closing the gap between UK and US airings of Doctor Who, and the resulting effect on viewership and illegal downloads.
  • 61 Free Apps We’re Most Thankful For: Lifehacker compiles a grammatically questionable list from reader suggestions on the current best free software.
  • Beat The Reaper is the debut novel from Josh Bazell,  a thriller told by an ER doctor/hitman, which I picked up in a Borders book store, heaving with vulture-like people tearing the remaining carrion from its carcass. I quite like (and agree) with the Amazon reviewer who described it as a cross between The Sopranos, Scrubs and Quentin Tarantino. Meanwhile I stalled reading Chuck Klosterman’s collection of pop culture essays in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs because we fell out when he attempted to write a piece on Vanilla Sky without even mentioning Open Your Eyes.
  • Rainmeter v1.1 is now available, a more user-friendly release of the great tool for desktop customisation with various meters and widgets. I’m currently running a modified version of the Enigma desktop. Sleek but certainly less minimalist than my desktop has been in the past, it offers a wealth of information as soon as I boot up including email, calendar notifications and the latest news.

And, of course, have a Merry Christmas. I’ll be working up until Christmas Eve so the holiday will likely take me by surprise. Hopefully not so much of a surprise that the snow prevents me from getting back to Croydon though.

Child’s Play 2008

Child\'s Play

It’s that time of year again, but with a little twist. Every year I try to promote Child’s Play, the charity set up by Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade which, since 2003, has raised over $2 million for sick kids in hospitals. That’s a pretty staggering way for gamers to show the positive side of this industry, in spite of the continually negative media coverage. This year I’m stoked because I can actually afford to contribute properly myself.

For those who don’t know the deal, here’s how it works. The charity has connections with various children’s hospitals around the world (in the UK it’s Alder Hey), so you pick one and can then view an Amazon wishlist showing the products the hospital would like to obtain. Choose an item and pay, the hospital receives it and a host of children’s lives are immeasurably improved as they await daunting surgeries and treatments. With each successive year donations have increased but in the current economic climate Gabe is expecting donations to drop below last year’s total. I’d love it if you could help prove him wrong.

Now that the news has had sufficient time to spread, I can safely offer huge congratulations to Andy and Irina on their engagement. Their cocktail party last weekend became a much bigger celebration following Andy’s proposal on Friday. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take any romantic snaps of the couple (or the ring) so I guess you’ll have to imagine it instead.

And finally you may have heard that the Home Office recently caught up with the times and announced the establishment of new cybercrime police unit with specialist training to handle online fraud in particular. Unfortunately they have been given the rather unimaginative title of Police Central e-crime Unit (or PCeU which looks rather like a sneeze). I strongly suggest that, with Tom Clancy having sold the rights to use of his own name to Ubisoft*, the Met proceed to acquire a license and rebrand the unit Tom Clancy’s Net Force. How else can they be taken seriously?

* Yes, that is quite likely restricted to videogames since his book publisher will presumably continue to flood the market with books not actually written by him.

"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2024 Priyan Meewella

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