Flappy Birds Over Sochi

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Flappy Birds Over Sochi

You’re going to have to pardon me for a moment. I’m trying to get the TV connected in my study. We have one less cable box than we have TVs. My wife likes to steal this one and connect it to another TV in some random room. I’m not sure if its punishment for sneaking away to my study or if she just enjoys being a little bit annoying on occasion. (Personally, I think it’s the latter.)

The cable box is now re-installed, and we can talk about the biggest event of the season. Of course, I’m talking about the Winter Olympics. Having grown up in Augusta, where just the threat of snow closes the city, the Winter Olympics provides all of us the opportunity to enjoy the best of winter sports.

I don’t know if it’s the mountains, the cold weather or the fact that everything is white, but it’s nice to watch something a little different. And since the Winter Olympics occurs between the Super Bowl and March Madness, the timing creates the perfect distraction.

During the opening ceremonies, we opened up Google Maps. First of all, is anyone really sure where Sochi is? Well, it turns out that the Olympic Stadium is right near our sister country. The stadium is about 15 minutes from the downtown area of Sochi, but it’s only a few miles from the Georgia border. From a geographical perspective, it’s almost identical to the Aiken Olympics building its Olympic Stadium in Clearwater. Here’s another geography trivial question: Russia and Georgia have coastlines on the Black Sea. Name the other four countries that border the Black Sea. Hmmm…

If you happen to be travelling to the Olympics next week, you might want to try out a Google Maps alternative called OpenStreetMaps. OpenStreetMaps is an open source application that receives its map data directly from user input. This crowdsourcing approach can create some ridiculously detailed, albeit inconsistent, maps.

OpenStreetMaps has shown up in a few articles about the Winter Games. Supposedly, it contains more details than Google Maps due to the number of folks providing input. I logged on to take a look, and it did appear to have more notations with regards to local resources. However, all the notes were in Russian. For all I know, the notes could be saying, “This is where I got the Jamaican bobsled team’s autograph.” 

On a completely different subject, how many folks downloaded Flappy Bird over the past couple of weeks? If you did, congratulations! As of this writing, an iPhone 5S with Flappy Bird installed has received a bid of $16,100(!).

What is a Flappy Bird, you might ask? Flappy Bird is perhaps one of the most simplistic games one could make. There is only one control. You tap the screen, the bird flaps its wings and goes up. If you don’t tap the screen, the bird falls to its death. The goal of the game is to fly the bird between pipe ends that are reminiscent of Mario Bros. By all accounts, the game is horribly difficult with multiple efforts needed just to pass the first gate.

A few weeks ago, Flappy Bird went viral. Most software developers would be overjoyed at this occurrence. However, Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen responded by doing the unthinkable. He removed the application from the app stores. The attention, and pressure, that comes with having a successful app was apparently too much. Also, and I didn’t realize this, the haters and trolls seem to really target successful game writers, even to the level of death threats. (See No. 1 Rule — Stay out of the way of crazies.) At any rate, folks that have downloaded the game can continue to play, but no more downloads are available.

And if you are one of those lucky few, maybe you can get some goofball to pay thousands of dollars for the your “Flappy Bird”-installed phone!

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