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How I Use Custom Perspectives in OmniFocus

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My custom perspective setup.

My custom perspective setup.

A few weeks ago, we released the latest product under the MacStories Pixel brand: MacStories Perspective Icons, a set of 20,000 custom perspective icons for OmniFocus Pro. You can find more details on the product page, read the FAQ, and check out my announcement blog post here. The set is available at $17.99 with a launch promo; Club MacStories members can purchase it at an additional 15% off.

As part of the release of MacStories Perspective Icons (which, by the way, takes advantage of a new feature in OmniFocus 3.8 to install custom icons with a Files picker), I wanted to write about my perspective setup in OmniFocus and explain why custom perspectives have become an integral component of my task management workflow.

Let me clarify upfront, however, that this article isn’t meant to be a primer on custom perspectives in OmniFocus. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, I recommend checking out this excellent guide over at Learn OmniFocus; alternatively, you can read The Omni Group’s official perspective documentation here. You can also find other solid examples of OmniFocus users’ custom setups around the web such as these two, which helped me better understand the power and flexibility of perspectives in OmniFocus when I was new to the app. In this story, I’m going to focus on how I’ve been using perspectives to put together a custom sidebar in OmniFocus that helps me navigate my busy life and make sense of it all.

I went back to OmniFocus several months ago, and as I explained on AppStories previously, the ability to create custom views that filter specific tags or projects with particular sorting criteria is my absolute favorite feature of the app. While most task managers are limited to displaying projects, tags, or upcoming tasks, OmniFocus offers all of those options but also enables me to create my own personalized views that fit the way I want to manage my tasks. Instead of being limited to either seeing what’s due today/soon or viewing my tasks by list (which is how most task managers operate), perspectives in OmniFocus empower me to create custom views that filter tasks matching specific criteria.

My most used perspective, by far, is a simple one I call ‘Radar’. This perspective presents me with a list of all upcoming tasks across all projects, including those that have a defer date, which I usually don’t see in other perspectives. It’s very easy to put together in the perspective editor (all tasks are simply grouped by due date), and it provides me with a unified dashboard to view all my upcoming tasks at once.

My Radar perspective.

My Radar perspective.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I use emoji for tags in OmniFocus. I like how emoji add a touch of color to the app, and they also help the tag bubbles visually stand out more – especially in dark mode.

My OmniFocus tags, powered by emoji.

My OmniFocus tags, powered by emoji.

Another perspective I find myself opening a lot is the ‘All Writing’ one. This perspective lets me see all writing-related tasks belonging to either MacStories or Club MacStories. Whenever I create a new task in OmniFocus for something I have to write about, I tag it as ‘Writing’, plus another tag that is either ‘Club’ or ‘Website’. With this system, I was able to put together a perspective that filters all remaining tasks that have been tagged with ‘Writing’ but then splits them into two separate groups thanks to the Group actions by: Tags (Combined) perspective filter, as pictured below.

All my writing tasks in one screen.

All my writing tasks in one screen.

The 'Podcasts' perspectives is similar to the 'All Writing' one – it's a quick filter to see all my remaining podcast-related tasks.

The ‘Podcasts’ perspectives is similar to the ‘All Writing’ one – it’s a quick filter to see all my remaining podcast-related tasks.

The ‘Tags (Combined)’ filter is one of the most powerful aspects of OmniFocus’ perspective engine as it can create dynamic sub-groups based on tags. As you can see above, the visual separation between Club and website-related writing tasks also looks quite nice thanks to emoji. I use the same approach of visually separating tasks in different areas with my ‘Available’ perspective. All the tasks I enter in OmniFocus have either a due date or a defer date, and sometimes both. I’ve never liked the idea of adding items to a task manager without dates, but I also dislike how other tasks managers, due to their lack of defer dates, default to showing all upcoming tasks, even if I can’t do anything about some of them yet. With my custom ‘Available’ perspective, I can see all tasks that are available to me right now, and they’re grouped by tags so I can easily scan the list by areas of responsibility.

Filtering tasks by availability and tag.

Filtering tasks by availability and tag.

My 'Available' perspective.

My ‘Available’ perspective.

The ‘Soon’ perspective takes the opposite approach. This is a custom view that lets me see everything coming up in the next 24 hours (including deferred tasks), and nothing beyond that, which helps me get a sense of what I’m supposed to be taking care of within the next day. The key filter behind this perspective is the Status: Due Soon flag; you can configure what ‘Due Soon’ means in OmniFocus’ settings, choosing from a range of options such as “today” and “24 hours” up to “1 week”.

This perspective shows tasks due soon.

This perspective shows tasks due soon.

With WWDC approaching, one big project currently on my mind a lot is, unsurprisingly, my annual iOS and iPadOS review. As I’ve shared on both Connected and AppStories recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about optimizing certain aspects of my summer workflow that I wasn’t completely satisfied with; managing tasks related to the review was part of that process. I’m sure I will be tweaking this setup over the next few months as I get a better grasp of the project’s scope and deadline, but in the meantime I wanted to share the three custom perspectives I’ve created to help me manage the first stage of review-related work.

First, I’ve added a ‘Review: All’ perspective to the OmniFocus sidebar as a quick way to see all tasks for that project at a glance. This is similar to the ‘All Writing’ perspective, except it filters tasks by project rather than tag.

All review-related tasks in a single screen.

All review-related tasks in a single screen.

I expect to be spending a lot of time in this perspective as I work through my list of tasks belonging to the review. Next, in thinking about what I’ll be doing for the first couple weeks after WWDC, I created a ‘Research’ perspective that aggregates tasks from the iOS 14 Review project which have also been tagged with ‘Research’. This way, I’ll be able to see all research-related tasks on a single screen and group them by due date; I have a feeling I’ll be taking advantage of the DEVONthink URL scheme to link many of those tasks to specific files or groups in DEVONthink, where I plan to store all my research material this year.

Lastly, I want to highlight a custom perspective I’m really happy with. Historically, when working on my iOS review in the middle of the summer, I’ve always struggled with being unable to split review-related tasks between short-term and long-term ones. For instance, I may have a group of tasks due within a week concerning things I’m supposed to complete for the chapter I’m currently working on and – in the same project – tasks that are due in September, which detail the final steps for assembling the finalized review. Both groups of tasks belong to the same project, but they’re fundamentally different in terms of urgency. I’ve always disliked how other task managers lump everything together in the same list, and I’ve long wished for a way to filter tasks from the same project based on their availability.

OmniFocus makes this possible with nested filters that let you fine-tune the conditions tasks should match to be displayed inside a perspective. The last perspective I’ve put together for the iOS 14 review, called ‘Future’, displays review-related tasks which have a defer date in the future and are not due soon. Thanks to this perspective, I can see all future tasks that are not coming up in the next 24 hours, which helps me get a better sense of things I can worry about later on.

Nested conditions in OmniFocus.

Nested conditions in OmniFocus.

Future iOS 14 review tasks I don't have to think about right now.

Future iOS 14 review tasks I don’t have to think about right now.

The ability to nest negative conditions in OmniFocus’ perspective editor is a powerful addition to the standard filters, and I want to continue experimenting with it over the next few months.

Having played around with perspectives for a few months now, there are some additions I’d like to see: it should be possible to filter tasks by specific time periods (e.g. “due in the next 20 days”), check whether tasks have notes or attachments, and use a task’s notification and repeat settings as matching criteria too. The current set of filters with support for nested conditions is fantastic, but I think every aspect of the app should become a potential condition in the perspective editor.

I hope The Omni Group continues to expand what can be built with perspectives in OmniFocus. If used correctly, custom perspectives allow you to create your own modular task manager that works exactly the way you want it to. As a big fan of modularity in my setup, I’m not surprised I ended up relying on custom perspectives for my task manager; I’m keen to see how all this will play over the summer.

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sillygwailo
1 day ago
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Toronto, ON
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The Lakeshore Boulevard Activeway is Real, and It’s Spectacular

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As soon as it was announced in May, I couldn't wait to bike the sections of Lakeshore Boulevard to cyclists, runners, walkers and others who want to exercise and stay physical distant. My position is: As long as the gyms are closed, the city needs to open up as much public space to move around as possible. I've gone every weekend it has been opened, missing only one day. (After I missed that day, I realized I wanted to go each day the road was open.) I even went on a day when I assumed it was open, but it was closed to active participants because the Gardiner "Expressway" was closed due to repairs.

I don't own a bike, mainly because I don't want to have to lock it up. Instead, I have a monthly membership with Toronto Bike Share. It's a 10-minute walk to the nearest bike share dock (more like the dock that's most convenient to depart from), and after that, it's about an hour of biking. That's from the time I take out my first bike share bike to the time I dock. My yearly membership gives me unlimited 30-minute rides, and as long as I dock at a station. Each day I go, I take a photo to memorialize a moment, add a tweet to the above thread, and I keep track of the rides through Strava. Some days I try to get a personal best, and some days I go for a leisurely ride. The days with a headwind are usually followed by days with a light breeze, so I don't let it demoralize me.

While I appreciate the branding of and the effort into SafewaysTO1, since it refers to roads that have reduced or no car traffic on them, I'm trying to make 'activeway' a thing. That's especially true of Lakeshore Boulevard.2 It hasn't caught on yet.

I still don't know what to make of people using motorized vehicles, like e-bikes and scooters. I guess they're getting some freedom on the open road and outside time, but I don't think that was the idea.

On my rides, I take along my $50 Anker speaker and play music as loud as it will go. Inspired by Roland, I use the Volumatic app to control my volume based on my velocity. As soon as I'm biking full speed, the speaker is at full volume, but when I slow down (such as at a stoplight), it turns the volume down to about 70%. It's especially nice for when I have to dock a bike, since the music still plays, meaning no pausing and unpausing, and no manually having to adjust the volume for nearby ears.

It has been my way to stay active, see the lake, and see other people, which reminds me that we're not locked down even if restrictions on large gatherings are still in place. I haven't yet ridden on the other sections that are open to active users, and that's something I hope to do by the end of summer. Toronto has recently entered Phase 2, meaning patios are open for service and we can get haircuts now. I'm not happy with how long it has taken to flatten the curve, and I think it could have been a lot flatter, but opening up streets to people on weekends has been such an inspired idea that I hope we learn from it, and I hope it can be made a permanent feature of summers in Toronto.


  1. I'm very fond of maps and mapping, but found, to my surprise, that I didn't find the SafewayTO map useful. It has spurred some thinking on how useful I find maps to begin with. I now have more questions than answers, like "What do I use maps for most?" and "What story is any particular map trying to tell me?" and "Is a map the best way to display this?" A map like the SafewayTO map would be very useful in an app like MapinHood and, don't worry, I told them so↩︎

  2. I prefer the spelling Lakeshore to the official Lake Shore. It feels like it should be one word rather than two. ↩︎

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mkalus
4 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
sillygwailo
4 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Toronto Heritage

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When I lived in Vancouver, I wanted a way to explore the city in a structured way, and as someone who loved riding transit, the perfect way to do that was by doing the tours in SkyTrain Explorer: Heritage Walks From Every Station by John Atkin. Having moved to Toronto almost 5 years ago, I was able to see the city through Jane's Walks and other walking tours, and I was on the lookout for something similar to Atkin's book. Toronto Architecture: A City Guide by Patricia McHugh and Alex Bozikovic is a close analogue. While they don't use subway stations as their starting point, I flipped through the book and the tours seemed brisk and informative, not to mention opinionated. (Each tour references others, as they overlap, so the reader is often referred to the building description in another tour by walk number and building number.) I have created a separate page for the architecture I'll take from the book, and the format of that page will closely follow that of the SkyTrain Explorer page.

The book does not direct the reader to each point like SkyTrain Explorer does, and has more to see on each walk than that book does. The book does number the buildings, so you can piece together a route. In the Yonge St. walking tour I just completed, I ran Strava in the background to capture the route I took. You can see the diversions to side streets, as well as deciding not to retrace my steps early on.

Like with the SkyTrain Explorer section, I will embed the photos in a page per walk. It will take some time to upgrade the code behind it, which is a both a major PHP version and Drupal version behind, but I'm looking forward to exploring the city I live in again, and documenting it here along the way.

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sillygwailo
4 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Catastrophe

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I seldom think anything good about Donald Trump. I hate what he has done to the country. I hold his enablers even more responsible for what has happened on his watch. But today I feel that stew of emotions in a new deadening way I have seldom experienced. I am baffled and aghast and angry in a way I seldom have been.

The US is not experiencing a surge. We are back to exponential growth in the virus just as most of the rest of the wealthy, industrialized world is moving on. COVID is not done for them of course. There are masks and mitigation and distancing and people are still falling ill. Some are dying. But most of these countries have beaten Covid down into low enough numbers that they can get about the business of a new form of social and economic life.

More than 57 thousand new cases were reported today. I was dumbfounded by that number even though the trend pointed to it. This is almost triple the number of cases of three weeks ago. This is a national catastrophe and one due almost all to ourselves, to a litany of horrible decisions and even more simple abdications of responsibility. And yes it really all goes to Donald Trump who has tried to deny the problem whenever possible and when he engages it does so through the prism of assigning blame to someone else for anything that goes wrong. The concept of service, responsibility is entirely alien to him.

We’ve watched a ragged, lying, stupid and absurd performance going back five months. Any sense of national integration and unity has come apart like a torn necklace. No wonder the result is so bad and we’re alone in the world.

The White House tonight it’s shifting to a new message: “We need to live with it.” It is this brazen effrontery to point us to their failure and tell us, “deal. That’s just how it is.”

We are often helpless before nature and fate but the different outcomes in so many life parts of the world that it is neither nature or fate which have brought us to this pass.

Being President is a hard job and this was an historic challenge. That’s the job. It’s on you. You may not be at fault but you’re responsible. You can imagine good presidents of the past and bad struggling under the weight of this crisis. He’s done none of that. It’s all been a matter of blaming states for not having enough ventilators or tests, making covid denial a centerpiece of his movement. His whole record in the crisis has been denial and then finding nonsensical arguments that a crisis befalling the country to which he was elected head of state somehow has nothing to do with him. The states have to fend for themselves and the federal government takes care of itself, as though the federal government is anything but the expression of and protector of the people.

And then he just decided he was done. He got bored. It wasn’t fun anymore. He shuttered his largely ineffectual task force and moved on. He wanted rallies. He made masks a sign of being a Democrat and a wuss.

But covid hadn’t moved on.

None of this had to happen. It is a failure of cataclysmic proportions. It has many roots. It has revealed many insufficiencies and failures in our society. But the scale of it, the unifying force is a man who never should have been president, who has abandoned his responsibility to lead and protect the country, making it every state for itself, a chaos only organized by a meandering effort to help himself at all costs at every point.

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sillygwailo
6 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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She’s Not There

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Brandi Billotte is a graduate student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  In the fall, she will begin to pursue her PhD in English Literature and Criticism.  She lives in DuBois with her two dogs, two cats, two children, and one husband.

While a great deal of scholarship is devoted to the problematic aspects of female representation in the stereotypically male-dominated sphere of video games, less interest lies in an alternative depiction of women that, while not predominant, exists in some video games: that of the ‘absent woman.’  There are games that feature female characters that, though heavily represented throughout the game in various forms, are not physically depicted in any thorough way. This representation might take the form of the unseen character providing narration, leaving traces of themselves in notes, leaving behind memories and/or intentions that live on inside of other characters, to name just a few examples.

Absent female characters defy tropes such as “‘damsels in distress,’ ‘sexy sidekicks,’ and ‘rewards’” (Shaw 1).  In addition to removing themselves physically, many absent characters add another element of intrigue as they attain agency by creating puzzles that simultaneously afford themselves increased agency while forcing the player (and perhaps other characters in the game) to participate in play. Through the use of puzzles built upon their absence, many absent female characters acquire the ability to police their own sexuality and feminine agency.  By not being presented physically, we are neither inclined nor able to focus our attention on traditional markers of hypersexualization such as impossibly large breasts or disproportionately long, unclothed legs.

This paper will explore examples of puzzling, sexually agentic unseen characters as they appear in Karla Zimonja, Johnnemann Nordhagen, Steve Gaynor, and Kate Craig’s Gone Home and Valve’s Portal and Portal 2.  Analysis of the exact nature of a character’s absence, the ways in which they are represented despite their lack of a physical body, and the implications and motivations surrounding their absence supports the assertion that the representation of physically absent female characters allows for said characters to exert a greater sense of agency than they may have had in physically depicted forms.

The Problem of Representation

As previously mentioned, scholars have noted that women in video games tend to be represented in a problematic, sexualized, and hyper-feminized manner.  Nicholas Johnson notes the “inherent misogyny and sexism in popular gaming culture” (1), including both the underrepresentation of women in video games as well as the “overtly sexualized and hyper-feminized portrayal that seems to be recurring in video game design” (4).  Jesse Fox and Wai Yen Tang echo Johnson’s sentiments, noting the tendency for female video game characters to be “depicted in stereotypical ways that appeal to men” (315). Adrienne Shaw, too, recognizes this attempt to create feminized caricatures that cater to male desire, addressing iconic video game heroine Lara Croft and noting her “ever-increasing and much-critiqued breast size” (58) and impractically skimpy outfits: “Croft bares many of the signifiers of female objectification, including breasts that are overly large for her physical size and revealing clothing that seems poorly suited to traipsing through danger-filled tombs” (60).  Indeed, a multitude of scholars have grappled with the issues of feminine underrepresentation and hypersexualization that have been traditionally characteristic of the video game industry. In Gaming at the Edge, Shaw addresses attempts to combat problematic representations of marginalized groups, explaining a sense that “we seem to be situated in a cultural moment in which how digital games are thought of and spoken about is constantly changing” (201).  Despite the promise of a changing cultural landscape that rebukes the promotion of sexualized, decorative female characters, Shaw acknowledges the vitriolic resistance that such progression is often met with. For instance, she describes a troubling moment “[during] the Penny Arcade Expo…[when] Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine told a female audience member [that] …instead of questioning the absence of the lead female character on the cover of the new game Bioshock: Infinite, she should just ‘play the fucking game’” (207-208).

Agency is neither exclusively nor inherently accessible to disembodied female video game characters; it is certainly possible for a female character to be physically depicted without being overtly sexualized or excessively feminized.  For example, though Portal’s Chell is presented physically, she maintains agency by serving as the protagonist who ultimately overcomes the deadly puzzles presented to her by GLaDOS.  That said, one might question why lack of representation warrants attention at all. Absent agency connects to the changing cultural moment that Shaw refers to in regard to video games as well as pertaining to issues that currently permeate society.  With the growing emphasis on the gravity of giving voice to previously silenced or underemphasized narratives, the exploration of who is represented and who is not, how they are represented, and what their representation (or lack thereof) means carries implications beyond the scope of video games.  Taking all of this into consideration, it behooves us to examine the dimensions of empowerment made possible by removing the physical female body entirely.

The Role of the Unseen Character in Literature

Robert Byrd–in his discussion of unseen characters in plays by Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee–traces the role of the unseen character throughout history, describing the various functions of these notably absent characters: “…[U]nseen figures are…people whose offstage activities provide a convenient impetus to the plot (4; emphasis mine).”  Byrd emphasizes the importance of these unseen characters, citing them as “invisible forces…[that]…shape the action of the drama” (7).  Haiping Liu also notes the weight of invisible characters in her discussion of offstage characters featured in O’Neill’s various plays. Liu asserts:

…though making no stage appearances and being brought to life only through the utterances of the characters on stage, the offstage characters…[possess] certain physical, social, psychological, and moral traits bearing significantly upon the course of action in the plays in which they appear.  (149; emphasis mine)

While Byrd and Liu are concerned with absent characters as they exist in literature, these ideas also extend to absence as it occurs in video games.  Their ideas speak directly to the capacity of invisible/absent/offstage characters to contribute to the action of a narrative, often motivating plots in important ways.  As Byrd and Liu define what constitutes as absence for their own analytical purposes, let us clarify that the term “absent” as it appears here means that a character is, for significant portions of the game, simply gone.  For instance, Sam of Gone Home never makes a physical appearance in the game.  Unseen character Caroline of Portal is made to take the form of GLaDOS, who is represented as a wriggling computer mounted to the ceiling (and, in Portal 2, as a disgruntled potato).

The Puzzle of Purposeful Absence

Gone Home presents us with a puzzlingly absent character that has left behind clues, purposefully compelling our participation in the game; that is, we collect various hints that ultimately enable us to solve the mystery of Sam’s absence.  Players experience the game from the perspective of Sam’s older sister, Katie, who returns from a trip abroad to discover that her family has vacated their home. Katie is greeted with a cryptic and foreboding note affixed to the locked door, which reads: “Please…don’t go digging around trying to find out where I am” (Gone Home).  To “win” the game of Gone Home is to uncover Sam’s clues by exploring each room of the ominously deserted house, sifting through drawers and examining crumpled bits of paper.  Once Katie solves the puzzle, it becomes clear that Sam’s absence was motivated by her desire to gain agency over her sexuality. Regardless of her reasoning behind pursuing absence, Sam’s puzzle enables her to create a new narrative for herself while compelling her sister (and the player) to embark upon a mysterious quest.

 

A screenshot from the game Gone Home showing a note from the player character's sister

A Note from Sam, the player character’s sister, explaining her absence

Portal games feature a similarly puzzling character in the form of GLaDOS, who (unlike Sam) did not make the choice to become absent.  According to Laura Lannes’s “She’s the Backbone of This Facility,” GLaDOS originated as Caroline, who served as the “great woman” behind Aperture Science Enrichment Center founder Cave Johnson.  When he became ill, Caroline served as caretaker and business manager to Johnson. Realizing Caroline’s capability, he demanded that she take his place upon his imminent demise:

If I die before you people can pour me into a computer, I want Caroline to run this place. Now she’ll argue. She’ll say she can’t. She’s modest like that. But you make her…[p]ut her in my computer. (118; emphasis mine)

GLaDOS forcing game play upon Chell functions as a prime example of a character creating puzzles through and/or despite their physical absence.  Armed with the ability to taunt, manipulate, and trap, GLaDOS acts as a capricious game designer, forcing Chell to respond to various instructions, threats, and misleading promises of cake.  Despite her lack of a physical, human form, GLaDOS is dangerous, clever, and, definitely powerful.

A screenshot of the game Portal, depicting a moment where the AI antagonist of that game taunts the player with pictures of cake.

GLaDOS, nefarious puppet master of the Aperture Science Research Facility, is finally revealed. She taunts the player with images of cake.

Absence and Subverting Patriarchal Control

In addition to sometimes providing intriguing puzzles that serve to compel a game’s narrative, absence can also function as a means to exert different forms of agency.  Specifically, Sam’s absence serves as a tool to gain agency over her sexuality. Sam’s disappearance is a major aspect of Gone Home.  Ultimately, it is revealed that Sam has chosen to leave home to pursue a relationship with her girlfriend, Lonnie.  By becoming absent, Sam gains the agency to police her sexual identity and participate in a relationship that appears to have been forbidden by her parents.

GLaDOS provides us with another example of absence leading to the acquisition of agency that had been lacking in her previous existence as Caroline, whose submissiveness is made evident in her limited selection of lines.  Explains Lannes, “in two of [her five in-game lines] she’s saying: ‘Yes sir, Mr. Johnson!’” (116). As previously noted, Caroline is forced into a computer to replace the man that she had worked closely under. In addition to being turned into an object, GLaDOS notes that “engineers tried everything to make [her]… behave” (Portal 2), noting the application of an “Intelligence Dampening Sphere” called Wheatley.  Lannes describes Wheatley as “the male character who…was literally created to keep GLaDOS dumb” (121).  Despite attempts to modify her “problematic” behavior and stifle her thinking, GLaDOS exhibits agency by providing direction and narration throughout the Portal games, often taunting, deceiving, and threatening others.  By recovering remnants of her humanity and joining forces with Chell in Portal 2, GLaDOS defeats Wheatley and regains dominion over Aperture, the research facility which functions as the game’s setting.  Though Chell contributes to the overpowering of Wheatley, it could be argued that it is GLaDOS who ultimately allows Chell to win and escape Aperture.  This teaming up of formerly adversarial female figures connects to the larger idea of unseen characters’ ability to attain or regain feminine agency.  Explains Lannes: “Portal was about two women processing the oppression of patriarchy in different ways, while being pitted against each other.  Portal 2 invokes relations of power within patriarchy” (122).  In addition to articulating that allowing Chell to win is simply the easiest option, it is GLaDOS who ultimately makes the choice to alter her own identity by deleting what remains of the non-agentic Caroline.

Conclusion

Each of the previously described characters utilizes absence differently, and (arguably) both examples require that the particular characters be absent in some form.  Gone Home, for example, would be experienced completely differently if Sam had not chosen to become absent, tricking loved ones into believing that a sinister explanation lurked behind her disappearance.  GLaDOS’s taunting, manipulative narration would not exist at all if Caroline had not been forced into absence by being put into the computer. Moreover, GLaDOS’s absence directly contributes to her agency; once she becomes physically accessible at the end of game, the player is able to defeat her and subsequently win.  Since the release of these two titles, feminine representation in video games has continued to improve. Games such as Child of Light (2014), The Last of Us (2013), and Life is Strange (2015) offer female protagonists who possess a great deal of agency and rebuke the problematic stereotypes that have historically plagued video games.  Though we can hope that this trend toward empowered female protagonists persists, it is lamentable that these particular females can only seem to achieve agency by not being there.

Works Cited

Bowler, Steve. “Still Alive? She’s Free.” Game-ism. December 1, 2017.

Byrd, Robert. Unseen Characters in Selected Plays of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee. 1998.

Dotnod Entertainment. Life is Strange. 2015. Video game.

Fox, Jesse and Wai Yen Tang.  “Sexism in online video games: The role of conformity to masculine norms and social dominance orientation.”  Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 33, 2014, pp. 314-320.

Johnson, Nicholas.  Misogyny in Virtual Space: Exploring Representations of Women in Popular Video Games.  Dissertation, Middle Tennessee State University, 2015.

Lannes, Laura. “She’s the Backbone of This Facility,” Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers, edited by Hazel Newlevant, Alternative Comics, 2016, pp. 116-123.

Liu, Haiping. “The Invisible: A Study of Eugene O’Neill’s Offstage Characters.”  The Eugene O’Neill Review, vol. 18, no. ½, 1994, pp. 149-161.

Naughty Dog. The Last of Us. 2013. Video game.

Valve. Portal. 2010.  Video game.

Valve. Portal 2. 2011. Video game.

Shaw, Adrienne. Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Ubisoft. Child of Light. 2014. Video game.

Zimonja, Karla, Johnnemann Nordhagen, Steve Gaynor, and Kate Craig. Gone Home.  Fullbright, Majesco Entertainment, 2013.

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sillygwailo
53 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Maps will detail impact of sea level rise on Valley coastline

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Flooding of the Courtenay Flats during previous heavy rainfalls

Maps will detail impact of sea level rise on Valley coastline

By George Le Masurier

It could be argued that climate change hasn’t yet impacted the daily lives of people in the Comox Valley. Yes, it has been drier for longer periods and a year ago the smoke from forest fires dimmed our skies and filled our lungs. The Comox Glacier is disappearing before our eyes.

These are minor events, however, compared to the torrential rains, flooding, droughts and intense super-hurricanes inflicting damage to other parts of the world.

But the serious consequences of climate change will soon reach our idyllic part of the world in the form of sea level rise.

Sea levels have risen by almost eight inches since the 1890s, an annual rate of about 0.06 inches per year, an amount barely noticeable except to those paying close attention.

But the rate of sea level rise has accelerated to 0.14 inches per year since 2006, and scientists predict it will continue to speed up as global temperatures climb.

The latest dire warnings suggest sea level could rise by as much as 1.3 feet by 2050 and up to 8.2 feet (2.5 metres) by 2100, depending on the success of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

FOCUS ON COMOX VALLEY IMPACTS

To determine how rising sea levels will affect the Comox Valley coastline, the Comox Valley Regional District is undertaking detailed mapping of the regions 200 kilometres of coastline, from the Oyster River to Fanny Bay, including Denman and Hornby islands.

With a $500,000 grant from the National Disaster Mitigation Program, the CVRD hired Kerr Wood Leidal consulting engineers to assess the coastline from a geological perspective. They will produce maps and supporting technical data for five scenarios of sea level rise in the years 2030, 2050, 2100, 2150 and 2200.

The report will be a helpful planning guide for emergency management as well as for new development. And, the information will inform the CVRD how to make corresponding policy and regulatory changes, such as floodplain construction levels and setbacks.

The data will also help the CVRD predict how much flooding will occur and how long each flooding event will last.

“Sea level rise is coming whether we think it is or not and governments are being asked to act,” Alana Mullaly, the CVRD’s senior manager of the Regional Growth Strategy and sustainability, told Decafnation. “This will create a lot of hard conversations.”

With rising sea levels pouring over portions of our coastline, how close to the foreshore should building be allowed? Where should local governments put new infrastructure? How should local government manage its assets, such as parkland and archaeological sites? Who will pay for the restoration or relocation of assets?

Sea levels most certainly will have an effect on future land use planning.

“The CVRD may get a request to put a park here or a development there, but that property may be underwater in 20 years,” Mullaly said. “I’m thinking about the weighing of values that we, as a community, will need to do in dealing with climate change.”

 

RICHER DATA FOR ENGINEERS

To do this coastal flood mapping, the consultants will use LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) to survey land remotely and produce high resolution topographic contours. The province has already flown LIDAR equipment over our area to collect the raw survey data and the consultants will process the data for use in the development of hundreds of maps.

Right now, communities that do not have coastal flood mapping generally rely on the requirements set by the province, which are based on mapping from the 1970s and 1980s.

Those maps did not account for any sea level rise, and neither does the current CVRD floodplain bylaw.

But by professional code, once engineers know something they have to consider it, and they have been taking sea level rise into account based on limited information. This report will give engineers richer local data.

Coastal flood mapping will put the CVRD in compliance with the Coastal Food Hazard Guideline, which is the main resource for engineers designing construction projects.

 

WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE PUBLIC

After the report is delivered by March 31 next year, the CVRD will hold public engagement events to inform citizens of its findings, which will ultimately lead to
recommendations for bylaws and other relevant regulations and guidelines.

“Sometimes it has been difficult for citizens to pinpoint the source or motivation when government rules change,” Mullaly said. “This won’t be one of them. This is not an arbitrary change. Sea level rise is coming.”

 

HOW HIGH WILL SEAS RISE?

The provincial government’s official prediction for sea level rise is a half-metre by 2050, one metre (just over three feet) by 2100 and two metres (about 6.5 feet) by 2200.

But that’s too low by at least half, according to recent scientific studies and the consulting engineers who did a similar mapping project for the City of Campbell River.

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants told Campbell River that the province’s projection “might be conservative.” One of the firm’s engineers, Grant Lamont, said it depends on future greenhouse gas emissions and how quickly ocean warming expands.

The loss of polar ice will accelerate in the second half of the century, Lamont said, and force people to cope with larger changes in shorter periods of time.

He recommended planning for two metres of sea level rise by 2100, as the states of California and New York have done.

Campbell River’s report suggests flooding will threaten downtown streets and buildings, and that local governments purchase coastal properties and turn them into pre-flooded parkland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLIMATE REFUGEES RETREAT FROM COASTLINES

There will be 13 million climate refugees in the United States by 2100. This report tells the story of a Lousiana town being relocated before sea level rise makes it uninhabitable. It portends to be the first of many retreats for existing coastlines.

The tiny village of Newtok near Alaska’s western coast has been sliding into the Ninglick River for years. As temperatures increase — faster there than in the rest of the U.S. — the frozen permafrost underneath Newtok is thawing. Now, in an unprecedented test case, Newtok wants the federal government to declare these mounting impacts of climate change an official disaster. Villagers say it’s their last shot at unlocking the tens of millions of dollars needed to relocate the entire community.

 

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The post Maps will detail impact of sea level rise on Valley coastline appeared first on Decafnation.

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sillygwailo
53 days ago
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This report was due in March, but delayed because of the pandemic. I hear it will he released in July/August.
Toronto, ON
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