Daily Archives: April 14, 2016

Learning To Thrive In Twine

As some of you may have read in an earlier post ‘Learning To Share Your Work’, after completing my honours thesis last year on the evolution of accessibility of the book I had great difficulty with figuring out how best to publish it. In the end I created a PDF file as well as publishing a copy in Notational Velocity. However, I had always wanted to complete a Twine game representation of it somehow. I will happily admit that I had no idea of what that would look like at the time but I feel as though I have created something that represents the experience I went through that inspired my honours thesis in the first place.

It was thanks again to Dr Graham that I was given the opportunity to make this game for his Digital History class as my final assignment. The game is titled ‘Learning To Thrive’ and in it you are a disabled university student who is trying to find the right path that will allow you to successfully get through your degree. Going into it I had these wild and crazy thoughts going through my head that I would somehow allow the player to choose what type of disability they possessed and from there they could have different paths based on what disability they chose.

Of course just as I always do I overestimated how much time I would have in the semester to allocate towards putting this together. Therefore, I decided to shorten it and base the game on a student with a neuromuscular disorder using my experiences to help. While this game does not relate to the information in my thesis an individual who has experience with both can connect the two between discussions relating to the material book in both.

When first beginning this project it was the first time I had ever used Twine to a serious degree. I had learned about it from Dr Graham in years past but had never really used it to accomplish anything major such as this. With that in mind I knew that I would have to keep it simple, especially considering I did not know really (although I did do some research in the last couple days) how to change the background or make any special effects. The only real thing that I knew how to do was connect from one passage to another using double square brackets, [[like this]]. In the end though I decided to keep it simple as it was what I thought to be a good representation of what university should be like to the student, a simple experience.

For the most part I did not have too much trouble but when I was cleaning it up I changed the titles of a few of the passages which created new empty unneeded passages by accident. You can find out all about my other experiences while making it in my notes below. Overall I believe this experience was a great way to wrap up a semester full of lessons on digital programming that can and will make my academic life easier in the coming future. I am as always learning to thrive.

Learning To Thrive Twine Game

Outline

- Final project is a Twine game based on my post-secondary career as a disabled student

- it will have different options of accommodations to suit your needs as a disabled student but only one leads to a healthy and successful completion of a degree

- Different reasons behind each decision and they will be explained in the game itself

Game

Introduction

- Explains what the game is and how it works.

- Contains two links:

- Neuromuscular Disorder

- Begin

Neuromuscular Disorder

- The purpose of this box is to explain to the player what a neuromuscular disorder is and how it will impact their post-secondary career

- It does not have any options within it other than to return to the introduction box

Begin

- Contains two links

- Male

- Female

Male & Female

- The purpose of both these boxes is to establish in the mind of the player that gender is not important when it comes to your overall health as a disabled student

- Both of these boxes only contain one link

- Disability

Disability

- Point of this box is to reestablish in the mind of the player how important it is to make all of their decisions with their health as their number one concern

- Accomplishes this by using language like ‘naively’ to point out that you are making some decisions without any information

- Contains one link

- Health

Health

- Purpose of this link is to explain to the player how having a neuromuscular disorder impacts their health and therefore every decision they make in the game will affect how their body is feeling physically compared to the average person

- Contains one link

- Post-Secondary Career

Post-Secondary Career

- Purpose of this box is twofold:

1: Explain how when graduating from high school you are fully confident in your ability as a student academically but you are concerned about not having an Educational Assistant with you in class all the time

2: How because of this you are forced to make more decisions about your education strategy such as how will you take notes

- Contains two links

- EA (Educational Assistant)

- Notes

EA

- Purpose of this box is just to explain to any players what an EA is if they don’t know already

- Contains only one link

- Post-Secondary Career

Notes

- Only purpose of this link is to establish in the mind of the player that despite the fact that you are a disabled student you want to experience everything when it comes to the world of post-secondary studies

- So you don’t want to use your disability as a way of getting through your post-secondary career

- Contains one link

- The Easy Way Out

The Easy Way Out

- Purpose of this link is to show how you don’t think you are any different from other student despite the fact that you have a neuromuscular disorder

- Demonstrates how you realize that this is not the case thanks to your experiences in the library and being unable to reach the available knowledge that it provides.

- You grasp that accommodations is not necessarily a bad thing because the obstacles in the library were solved by Transcription Services

- Therefore in your mind your disability is not any reason to receive any special form of in class accommodation

- Contains one link

- Transcription Services

Transcription Services

- Explains what transcription services is and how the Transcription Services office in the library takes any physical book off of the shelf and transforms it into a format that suits your needs best

- Leaves you with  one option

- to return to The Easy Way Out

Accommodations

- This box is where the game truly has its beginnings as you are presented with a number of different possible paths to take in terms of in class accommodations

- These in class accommodations relate to what format of textbook you would like to read and how you would like to take your notes in class

- Each one will lead you to different obstacles and have different affects on your health

- Your options are as follows

- Paper format textbook and take your own notes

- Audiobook textbook and take your own notes

- PDF textbook and take your own notes

- Paper format textbook and a volunteer note taker

- audiobook textbook and volunteer notetaker

- PDF and volunteer note taker

- You Don’t Need Help

Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

- This window begins by explaining a situation that you find yourself in during class when choosing this form of accommodation

- The situation is explained as not being able to keep up in class because you can’t access your paper form textbook while your laptop is on your tray

- It leads you with only one option

- Continue Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

Continue Paper Format Textbook and Take Your Own Notes

- It explains how you try to compensate for the issue you had in class by doing extra reading at home

- It then states that you get physically tired from this activity very quickly and presents you with two options

- These options are as follows

- Keep Reading

- Put the Textbook Away

Keep Reading

- Discusses how you are beginning to feel the impact on your health and your studies

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- open another textbook

Put the Textbook Away

- In this link you are forced to think about your options

- States that you are stressed from the rising amount of reading on your plate from other classes but realize that you are tired

- So you are presented with two options

- Go To Bed

- Open Another Textbook

Go To Bed

- This link explains how going to bed is the right choice to make for your health and your studies as continuing your readings in this fashion will catch up with you

- There is only one link to choose in this link and it is

- Accommodations

Open Another Textbook

- This link is basically about how by making this decision you think that your academics will benefit most

- In the end though you know that you are just denying the inevitable and you feel yourself getting sick which is your worst fear

- This screen contains one choice and it is

- Getting Sick

Getting Sick from continuing with paper format textbooks and taking your own notes

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- Continue On With Paper Format Textbooks and Taking Your Own Notes

Continue On With Paper Format Textbooks and Taking Your Own Notes

- Purpose of this window is to demonstrate that making this choice is absolutely the worst possible thing you can do

- Continuing on this path after a couple months and you will find yourself unable to continue on with your studies

Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Point of this window is to demonstrate how while audiobooks do help you keep up with readings, they are not so helpful when it comes to referring back to a specific point once you have passed it.

- Also points out that after a while you realize that you quickly get too tired from taking your own notes to keep up with a three hour lecture

- Leaves you with two choices

- Continue with Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Accommodations

Continue with Audiobook & Take Your Own Notes

- Purpose is to demonstrate how great this choice is for keeping up with readings but how ultimately it is bad for your academic standing and health

- Also makes it difficult for you to cite your sources when writing your papers as you cannot refer to specific pages

- Leaves you with one choice

- Getting sick from continuing with audiobooks & taking your own notes

Getting sick from continuing with audiobooks & taking your own notes

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two possible choices

- Trying Audiobooks & Taking Your Own Notes One Final Time

- Accommodations

Trying Audiobooks & Taking Your Own Notes One Final Time

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and taking your own notes is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

PDFs and Taking Your Own Notes

- Explains why you realize that this is quite possibly the best format for your needs when you first start using PDFs for textbooks and research books

- Explains how you find the note taking to be tiresome but this may be the only down side

- Warns you to be wary of your decisions in the coming future

- Leaves you with two options

- Ebook

- How You React

Ebook

- Simply explains what an ebook is

- Leaves you with one option

- PDF and take your own notes

How You React

- Points out how that taking your own notes is becoming too strenuous to continue as you are finding that you don’t have the energy remaining to complete additional work, including readings

- Presents two options

- continue with pdfs and taking your own notes

- accommodations

Continue with pdfs and taking your own notes

- purpose of this window is to demonstrate to the player how pdfs are affecting your outlook on school as a whole including class and homework

- Leaves you with two options to choose from

- get some sleep

- try to finish your work

Get some Sleep

- Although it feels like the wrong choice at first, in the end  you know it is the right one because you know that you will have more energy for work after a good night sleep

- However this is really only a part time solution as after a couple weeks you find yourself in the same situation

- Leaves you with two options

- give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Accommodations

Give PDFs and taking your own notes another try

- Explains why this decision is not good you

- Leaves you with one choice

- getting sick from the path you have chosen

Getting Sick from the path you have chosen

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Accommodations

Give PDFs and taking your own notes one last try

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and taking your own notes is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

Try to finish your work

- Point of this window is to show how great it feels to be on the same footing in the classroom and the library but you are at a crossroad because of your energy level.

- Leaves you with two options

- give PDFs and taking your own notes another try

- Accommodations

Paper Format Textbook & Volunteer Notetaker

- explains your reasoning behind making this choice

- potential problems that this decision may have such as maintaining energy

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- Continue with paper format textbook & volunteer notetaker

Continue with paper format textbook & volunteer notetaker

- Explains how you chose this path because you enjoy having actual books in front of you

- Discusses issues such as energy and accessibility more in-depth

- leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- asking for help getting books and asking for people to help you read

asking for help getting books and asking for people to help you read

- Window demonstrates why this idea and solutions appears to be the right one but in the end is not

- Leaves you with two options

- Fool Yourself

- Accommodations

Fool Yourself

- explains how you are fooling yourself by thinking that you are confident and open enough to ask strangers for help on a regular basis

- Also explains how this can be detrimental to your health and work load

- Leaves you with two options

- Getting sick from fooling yourself

- Accommodations

Getting sick from fooling yourself

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two options

- Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers one last try

- Accommodations

Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out Give paper format textbooks and volunteer note takers is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

You Don’t Need Help

- Explains the positives and negatives about not accepting help (mainly arguing that there is more negative)

- What the repercussions could be if they were ignored

- Leaves you with two options

- continue to deny needing help

- Accommodations

Continue to deny needing help

- Explains how and why this is a detrimental mistake to your health as well as your academic studies

- Ultimately explains that if you do follow this path you will cause yourself too much harm to continue on in your academic endeavours

Audiobook & volunteer note taker

- Explains the benefits and negatives of having an audiobook and volunteer note taker

- Leaves you with two options

- continue with audiobooks & volunteer note takers

- accommodations

Continue with audiobooks & volunteer notetakers

- this section explains how as you continue down this path you begin to understand more and more that the audiobook is more useful for how it allows you to keep up with your readings in a relaxed way

- Explains the positives and negatives of continuing on with volunteer note takers

- Leaves you with two options

- try to learn how to cite your sources more efficiently with audiobooks

- accommodations

try to learn how to cite your sources more efficiently with audiobooks

- Express the difficulties between reading books through audio format and writing proper citations

- How as much as you try there really is no good connection

- Leaves you with two options

- Insist on continuing on with audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- Accommodations

Insist on continuing on with audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- points to why you would want to continue in this direction

- Explains why you think that this is not the right choice and why it does work

- Leaves you with two options

- Accommodations

- take the risk and trying audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last time

Take the risk and trying audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last time

- Explain why this is such a risk

- leaves you with only one option

- getting sick from audiobooks and volunteer note takers

getting sick from audiobooks and volunteer note takers

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- Leaves you with two possible choices

- Give Audiobooks & Volunteer Note Takers

- Accommodations

Give audiobooks & volunteer note takers one last try

- Give audiobooks and volunteer note takers one last try

- Point of this window is that despite being good for keeping up with your readings, continuing to try out audiobooks and having volunteer note takers is a bad choice for both your health and academics

- It does point out though that you begin to think that perhaps it was just the audiobooks that didn’t work as you found that being able to fully listen when attending your classes was dramatically improving your studies as well as your health

- States that you will ultimately discover that you are unable to continue with your studies

PDF & Volunteer Note Takers

- Explains how and why you feel that this is the perfect combination of all possible accommodations being offered to you

- Also explains that you are actually even able to consider some extra curricular activities thanks to the energy that these two options a leaving you with

- Leaves you with one necessary and one unnecessary options

- PDF/ebook (unnecessary)

- extracurricular activities

PDF/ebook

- Simply explains what an ebook is

- Leaves you with one option

- PDF and take your own notes

Extra-curricular activities

- demonstrates how this choice would lead to being in this situation

- Leaves you with two choices

- take advantage and do some in addition to schoolwork

- continue on education without participating in extracurriculars

continue on education without participating in extracurriculars

- Explains how there are both advantages and disadvantages to this

- More negatives though as your overall university experience becomes limited

- Leaves you with one option

- impact on your future

Impact on your future

- purpose of this is to argue that by focussing solely on your school work

- also that it will be limiting to your potential educational future

Take advantage and do some in addition to schoolwork

- this passage is meant to demonstrate how great it is that PDFs and volunteer note takers have been allowing you the extra time and energy to take on more in your life

- also though is quick to point out how you need to be careful when managing extracurriculars and your education as you can quickly lose control of your health, which will inevitably lead to your grades suffering as a result

- leaves you with two options

- finish your degree with minimal activities

- take on more

take on more

- explains why this is a very fine line to walk or ‘roll’ on

- ultimately though it will lead to a more negative outcome as despite you being able to accomplish more schoolwork thanks to PDFs and volunteer note takers, you become too focussed on the outside world and your grades suffer as a result

- leaves you with two options

- try to fix the problem by taking on less

- continuing to take on more

continuing to take on more

- argues that by following this path you will be at risk of getting sick because of lack of energy from taking on too much

- leaves you with one option

- getting sick from taking on too much

getting sick from taking on too much

- Point of this window is to show the player how getting sick is really the worst possible outcome as it is bad for your health and your academics

- leaves you with two options

- insist on trying to take on as much as possible one last time

- reducing the amount of extracurriculars

insist on trying to take on as much as possible one last time

- describes how over doing it with extracurricular activities spends more energy than the PDFs and volunteer note takers have allowed for

- also states that you will be unable to continue on to complete your education if as you will quickly spiral to a place that you can’t recover from both academically and medically

Reducing the amount of extracurriculars

- points out that by reducing the amount of extracurriculars you find yourself back in a place that that you feel confident in.

- your energy is back to a manageable level and you are still able to keep up with your readings and attend all lectures thanks to the PDFs and volunteer note takers

Finish your degree with minimal activities

- this passage is aimed to demonstrate how you as a disabled student with a neuromuscular disability have finally found a set of accommodations that suits you

- Not only that but you have figured out a way in which you can thrive, maintaining good health, keeping your grades high and participating in extra curricular activities

- congratulations you have successfully found the path to graduation and a potential to further education

Review

- decided to change the name of the game to Learning To Thrive

- made small changes to the introduction to drive home the point of this title

- decided to eliminate a couple passages related to choosing your gender and then telling the player that those passages didn’t matter

- made it a bit more dramatic as I do remember it being very dramatic personally, but i was hesitant to make it that way originally

- decided to change it though because it will also drive home my point better

- Made a few other changes to the body particularly passages that are similar to one another to make them as different as I can

- decided to keep it simple in appearance after reviewing other games as it’s simplicity sort of mirrors the appearance I would like to convey to the player of how university should be simple to thrive in

Learning How To Use Wget and Python Cautiously

Wget is a program that is designed to “retrieve” files from websites and download them onto your computer. This, as I have learned in class from Dr Graham and from the tutorial, is a very powerful tool. One that allows you to do something as simple as download a single paper, or several links. Wget can even mirror an entire website using the proper commands. If you are not careful, as we discussed in class, an individual can even get blacklisted from a website! This is something that I did not know was possible.

What I found to be most difficult though was using Wget alongside Python. In the second part of the tutorial for instance it taught the user multiple tools. First, to download multiple files at once by entering the URLs sequentially into a script in a text editor, I chose TextWrangler. They used an 80 page diary example from the Library and Archives of Canada that looked like this:

urls = '';
f=open('urls.txt','w')
for x in range('integer1', 'integer2'):
    urls = 'http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e061/e00151%d.jpg\n' % (x)
    f.write(urls)
f.close

(http://programminghistorian.org/lessons/applied-archival-downloading-with-wget)

As you can see the Python portion of the tutorial was much more complex as it involved more detailed work.

The other things that this tutorial taught us about was how Python could help Wget to retrieve files from websites by getting around barriers in websites such as those that will not allow you to download more than one thing at once. These commands are very useful but again, complex. This is even more complex for someone like me who has limited to no background in coding.

Much of this tutorial was very interesting to someone like me who again, is new to the more complex digital world such as coding. As you will see in my notes below I had to follow the instructions to the T in order to completely understand.

Here they are:

– I checked to see if I had wget installed and I did not so I installed it
– had trouble originally downloading Xcode but managed to
– downloading the package manager was complicated at times due to the number of steps but managed to complete it
– made a new directory in order to download a specific set of files by typing in mkdir wget-activehistory into the terminal as was instructed in the tutorial
– this has allowed me to download certain things from activehistory.ca
– wget operates by typing in wget into the command line terminal followed by the option you would like it to complete followed by the URL address like so: wget [option] [url]
– first effort of this turned out favourably as the program retrieved other files off of the URL when I typed in -r as the option
– this turned out to be really complicated as it brought back multiple links off of those links
– In order to stop this the tutorial gave another command to tell wget not to follow the links beyond the last parent directory so in other words to not follow the links beyond your current url
– you can also tell it to follow links up to 5 times its parent if you prefer
– another command was a bit of an odd concept but it successfully did what it was supposed to as it didn’t show any error messages when i entered the -w 10 command which makes the server wait ten seconds before making another request
– i did also try a different amount of time as the tutorial suggested was possible
– wget can also help to mirror a website by being sure to enter a trailing slash on the command line after the url
– first time i did this it didn’t work as i stupidly made a mistake of forgetting this exact thing
– tried using the -m command successfully though to navigate through the mirrored website i had created using wget
– using wget alongside python though was a bit more complicated as it required me to enter more complex commands while using another program, in this case textwrangler
– for example when trying to retrieve a 80 page war diary i had to be VERY careful about entering the proper urls
– for example I missed one ‘ before the url and it did not work
– the tutorial then goes into how sometimes automated downloading requires working around coding barriers
– for example it says that for URLs that may be too complex for someone with a limited background in coding to design a python script for (such as myself) Wget has a built in function called Accept (-A)
– this lets you decide what files you want from a URL
– it uses the thomas jefferson papers as an example by getting you to enter a series of URLs in your textwrangler then write an even more complicated command into the command line
– this a really cool concept of being able to go around barriers and how the tutorial spoke of accessibility more generally made me think of how I think of accessibility
– tutorial then goes into instructing you on what to do if the directory you are in is closed and only allows you to do one image or file at a time
– while this was complex as I had to be careful when entering the URLs into the textwrangler file but i was careful not to make my earlier mistake or another one like it and was able to retrieve the different .jpeg files

Markdown & Pandoc

Every time I try to start a new paper for class it seems as though I am struggling to A: find a subject to write about. B: find sources for that subject. And C: find a program that will be acceptable to share between computers. This is where Markdown and Pandoc come in to play and hopefully I will learn how to use them better in the future.

Markdown and Pandoc are basically programs that provide sustainability to a file. For example, if a file is written in Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages it will only be able to be read for a certain amount of time because those programs do not cooperate well with others. Or even their own newer versions of themselves for that matter. Markdown is a program that lets you focus on writing in and format later, while the former do not. What Pandoc does is it will allow you to change the formatting of the Markdown file through the command line.

Once you learn how to use these programs they are easy to navigate but as you will see in my notes below, I struggled at times through the Programming Historian tutorial.

Markdown

- Why use markdown? First, plain text format and sustainable

- Understandable by multiple phones and tablets

- Markdown is more about keeping you focused on writing and then worry about formatting

- Reference links are not footnotes they are just small numbers after the word that you are wanting to link

- Links to file always begin with !

Pandoc

- Geared toward publishing

- More valuable to write in plain text then worry about formatting

- Specifically made for academics

- Advantage of open note taking is to cite the research of others

- There are now peer review journals that accept research for publishing

- Other advantage is research version control you can always revert back to what you had a week ago if you think it is better

- Journal of Open Humanities Data

- Lessons learned in this class are being put in place in all different professions

- With digital tools there is now a chain of links to aid us in finding the original document

- This can sometimes cause issues with revealing private information about certain individuals that was not intended to be shared

- Digital tools can also help us do things like recreate old documents that have been taken apart and separated around the earth and recreate it digitally

Tutorial notes

- Principles of Markdown:

1: Sustainability – it is able to withstand changes in technology so that your research can be read years into the future

2: Preference for human-readable formats: Markdown is simple program that is exactly as it appears whereas .doc files have hidden formatting characters which can change the appearance of your file when simply copying and pasting something onto it

3: Separation of form and content: Writing and formatting at the same time is distracting so Markdown allows you to simply write and worry about formatting at a later time

4: Support for the academic apparatus: handles footnotes, figures, international characters, and bibliographies perfectly well

5: Platform independence: Markdown allows you to save any file in one format say a PDF and then convert it into HTML later on

- having difficulty finding Pandoc after successfully installing it

- figured it out – have to go into the command line then type in cd Documents and then hit enter then type pandoc and I am inside

- do not know yet how to get out of pandoc without closing the command line program completely but i will figure that out later

- Flavour of Markdown used by Pandoc is geared towards academic use

- Empty space is meaningful in Markdown

- It is important to remember not to indent your new paragraphs in plain text files like TextWrangler

- asterisks make letters bold or italic to add more emphasis (one for italic, two for bold, *like this* or **like this**

- to make a footnote you add [^1] after a sentence and it will then link to a website or source

- BOTH OF THESE WORKED!!!

- saved file in one file so it is easy to find

- goal of Markdown is to make things simpler so they (authors of this tutorial) recommend saving everything in one folder for this tutorial

- IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT MARKDOWN IS DESIGNED TO DO THE FORMATTING FOR YOU!!!!

- Italics and Bold are not formatting though but just adding emphasis like I did above

- Command Line is the best way to use Pandoc

- i typed in the command to open the textwrangler file in word and it did

- thankfully pandoc is better at using zotero than other reference managers as i am familiar with its basics already

- successfully edited the footnotes from the sample although i had some difficulty but that was just caused by misplacement of brackets

- changing citation style was difficult as well

- ended up being something i struggled with in the command line tutorial about trying to do multiple things at once