Archive for July 17th, 2009
Almost everybody has gotten to the point where their projects are demo-ready. Hatem performed the literacy tools demo today showing off the basic soccer game, Dan did a demo for the social worker application a couple days ago and Brad will be testing our new method of mode-switching on the Braille Tutor in the coming week. The program is nearing its final weeks. We’re far from done but at least everything has taken shape.
A big part of my week has been spent on graphic design for the literacy tools game. Just as a preface, I’m not a graphics person. There have been many things I’ve had to learn on the fly for this program but few have put me more outside of my comfort zone than this project as I am far from an artist.
Suffice it to say I have read just about every isometric pixel art tutorial on the internet. Pixel art has been gaining a following, you may have seen examples of it if you play Habbo Hotel or have visited the-n.com. It utilizes the fact that digital graphics are displayed as a collection of small colored squares to make up a large object. When you consider isometric pixel art specifically you consider pixel art when shown at an angle to further illustrate the illusion of depth which when mastered can create stuff like this. However given my week of practice I am not quite at that level yet.
The idea we’re working on for the literacy tools game takes advantage of the immense popularity of soccer – or football – to encourage students to practice their reading abilities. In so doing we have the player in a penalty kick scenario facing off against a goal keeper. The player is asked a question and chooses from a collection of prompts. If the player chooses correctly, they score a goal. An incorrect choice and the ball is either caught or flies wide of the goal.
With that altogether, a large part of my week produced this:
It’s not the prettiest but hopefully it’ll get the job done. If you are a pixel artist and have any tips or know someplace where we can get some, please help us out and leave a comment!
So, this week I’ve been working on scheduling a bunch of different visits to observe the work our community partners do on a typical day, and several meetings to demo initial prototypes of the technology to them. Observations were very helpful to us in understanding the extent of the problems they face day-to-day. Interviews help us gain some insight, but seeing things first hand gave us a better perspective. Also, the two demos we’ve given so far went very well and our partners seem excited about the work.
Anyway, back to the subject of this blog entry…
So, while attempting to schedule one of these visits, I encountered a pretty interesting cultural miscommunication. One of the teachers whose class we wanted to sit in on sent me a text message (SMS) saying her class was at 2:40. Of course, I took this to mean 2:40pm. Since this was only one of many visits I was scheduling, it did not occur to me until the day of our visit that that time could not be correct since schools are only in session until 2:00pm everyday. By the time I realized this it was already 8:30am or so, and shortly after my realization the teacher called me to ask if I was going to be there that day. When I asked her to clarify the time she said “Oh, I am in the class right now!” Turns out that when she said 2:40, she meant class was at 8:40am – i.e. six hours past the time she told me. This was really puzzling to me, but apparently there is a separate “Swahili” time and “English” time. While I and most of the world functions on “English” time, in some Swahili speaking nations they consider 1:00am to be one hour after the sun rises, which would correspond to what most people consider 7:00am, and 1:00pm to be one hour after the sun sets, which would correspond to what most people consider 7:00pm (http://kamusiproject.org/?q=swahili_clock). So, the time they provide you might be six hours off, as was the case with the teacher I communicated with. Now that I know this, I try to clarify whether they mean “Swahili time” or “English time” time when I try to schedule meetings so that I won’t be six hours late or early!