Monday, April 14, 2014

On Friday night I completed the qualifying round of this year's Google Code Jam. This year I figured I'd share my submissions via GitHub. It took me five hours to solve the three problems that I did, and I only succeeded on the small problem set for the Cookie Cutter Alpha problem, but I earned enough points to qualify, so we'll see how I do in Round 1. Anyway, if you're interested in my submissions so far, you can find them here, and I'll post a follow up after Round 1.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let GitHub host it.

I've been looking into creating my own personal landing page and pointing my domain there, rather than at my page. This would allow me to brush up on my web development skills and work toward having a more useful page without having to start paying for more than their basic functionality. It seemed that I would have to start paying for hosting somewhere else, but then I found out about GitHub Pages, where I could host my website as a git repository and serve from my domain for free. So today I created a basic landing page and set up my DNS so that goes to it. It's a start.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

You may have already seen this, now with Java!

I figured I'd use Java to try and redo the "game" I wrote about in my last post. I used LWJGL (Lightweight Java Game Library), so I got a little practice with OpenGL. And this time, with the help of JarSplice, I was able to create this JAR file that should be able to be run on Windows, Mac, or Linux machines.

As with the C# version, the code for this one is available on GiHub, where you can also see a description and what commands are available.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It would probably make a good screensaver

Before taking Intro to Game Programming in the fall of 2012, I decided to get a feel for using Microsoft's XNA Framework, which we would be using in the class. This would also give me a chance to get more practice with C#, to build on my recent introduction to it in the Graphical Application Development class I had just taken. What I came up with is pretty basic, and doesn't look like much, but I find it sort of mesmerizing to watch and play around with.

I don't think I knew what direction I was going to go with it, so I called it TerrainGame because I started out by working on creating a randomized terrain with hills and valleys. As you can see from the image above, I ended up with a sort of contour line representation of the terrain, with each interval between lines going from darker to lighter for lower to higher elevation.

After being able to create random terrains, I came up with the idea of adding critters that base their movements on the terrain. In the code, red critters are called Divers, and blue critters are called Climbers. Divers always seek the lowest point, except when they head higher to mate with Climbers, and vice versa. This pretty much covers what the "game" does (see the GitHub page for full functionality), but in order to make it  a bit more game-like, I created a Rider, which is a white square that rides on a critter, and can be moved to an adjacent critter with the arrow keys.

You can check out the full code over on GitHub, if you like, but I'll also include a link to an executable (doesn't work), which I'd like to hear about whether it works for anyone or not.

Update 04/06/2014: Edited to remove link to EXE file.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Moving around the '@' symbol

Having done this back in 2011, I don't recall what got me started on it, but 3D Position (download executable or check out the C++ source code) allows a player to navigate an '@' symbol around an 18x18x18 cave using the 'h', 'j', 'k', and 'l' keys. (I think I was getting used to using Vim at the time, which would explain my choice of navigation keys.) What I find interesting and might think about exploring again sometime, is the limited perception of the world, where the player has to rely on only knowing what is located in a straight line on each axis from the character.

I don't know if the executable will work for everyone, so if you decide to check it out, let me know if it does or doesn't.

The controls are as follows:

  • h - One block lower on the x axis
  • l - One block higher on the x axis
  • j - One block lower on the y axis
  • k - One block higher on the y axis
  • J - One block lower on the z axis
  • K - One block higher on the z axis
  • q - Quit

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Something Created

When I posted about needing to create more, my brother commented that I could record some music for him to put in his metal working videos. It took me a while, but I ended up putting something together back in 2010, and I'm finally posting about it now.

With the help of two guitars, my POD, and Audacity, this is what I came up with:

And this is the video that Zech put it in. It's the beginning of a metal dragon he's making that looks like it will be even cooler than the other dragons he's made.

Monday, March 03, 2014

There will be more

I recently got reconnected with Isaac Vanier after being out of contact with him for a few years, and his posts about the game he's working on have inspired me to get back on the blogging bandwagon (at least for a little bit). I should be posting about a few game projects I dabbled with in 2012, and I'll do a follow up about what resulted from my post about needing to create more.

As for what I've been up to since my last post in 2010, I got myself a BS and MS in CS, and that process seems to have occupied most of my time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday, June 07, 2010

Stirring tea (and stirring and stirring...)

What's the worst thing about getting iced tea at a restarurant? I'd say it's getting the sugar to dissolve when you want it sweet and they don't have it already sweetened. @Mtnbikgirl and I were having lunch at the Mustard Seed Bistro a week or so ago, and while she was stirring their delicious tea (trying to get the sugar to dissolve), she said something about wishing that there was a liquid sweetener available at restaurants, something like simple syrup. We talked about it and came up with the idea of putting simple syrup into single serving packets for restaurants to have available for their customers. Why hadn't anybody thought of this? Was this something that we could put together and get out there to save tea drinkers countless hours of futile tea stirring?

I started looking into whether anybody else was already providing a product like this, and I searched for packaging companies that would produce single serving packets. I started asking a few people what for their thoughts on the idea, and everybody thought it was a good one. Basically, I started brainstorming the idea, and then, this morning, I tried a new search. This time, instead of searching for something along the lines of "single serving simple syrup", I searched for "liquid sugar packets". Come to find out, liquid sugar is regularly provided in Japan, and there's already some available here in the US called Kelly's Delight. I think I'm gonna put in an order for some Kelly's Delight to try it out, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for restaurants to start making it, or something like it, available at their tables. Sweet tea Nirvana, here we come.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Everything happens for a reason.

That's right, everything happens for a reason. The reason that a thing happens is that the circumstances leading up to said thing cause said thing to be inevitable. There is a reason that a car crashes through a guard rail and plummets to the bottom of the canyon, killing everyone inside. The reason is that the driver was going too fast!

We may be good at seeing patterns whether they are there or not, and it may help some people deal with life more successfully when they think that their lives are part of a grand, future focused plan, but this seems to be wishful thinking. I think we're better off accepting that shit happens, and attempting to make the best of whatever situations cause and effect have put us in, rather than looking for and embracing some, ultimately positive, "reason" that we went through the shit.  Both approaches may result in similar outcomes, but at least we're basing our decisions on reality when we stop imagining ourselves to be part of some cosmic plan.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Minimalist Running and My Uncooperative Knee

I tried to take up running, and still hope to add it back into my morning routine, but each time I try, it's not long before my left knee shuts me down. I've had no official diagnosis, but from what I've read, my issue seems to be Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Running was the last thing I ever expected to find myself doing on a regular basis, but I started coming to the conclusion that I needed to initiate some kind of regular fitness routine, and running seemed to be one possible piece of that routine. What pushed me into finally taking the first step and trying the running thing out, was my search into foot protection for my surf trip to El Salvador. I eventually came across Vibram FiveFingers, which show up in a lot of writing about barefoot/minimalist footwear running. The arguments for this type of running seemed to make a lot of sense to me (still hoping to get around to reading Born To Run one of these days), so I decided to try it out with my new, funny looking toe shoes.

I surprised myself by liking my new morning run routine. I didn't like the actual running itself (though it wasn't as bad as I expected), but the extra energy and forward momentum that it added to my day was great. My morning shower time was probably cut in half because I was no longer using the shower for the purpose of waking myself up. I built up to to the point where I was running the 5 km that it takes to get to the beach and back, and then my knee struck.

Whenever I try to get going again, after allowing my knee to stop bothering me, the problem shows up again, usually by mile 1. My current thought is that I might need to work on changing my running form some. I'm thinking about trying to adopt the POSE Method to see if that fixes my problem and allows me to avoid taking up swimming or bicycling instead.

Any thoughts? Do I need to give up the minimalist running idea altogether, and get special shoes to control the shape an position of my feet? It seems like it should be such a simple thing to do, just go out and keep putting one foot in front of the other at a decent pace.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How should land ownership/use work?

I've brought up the subject of who owns the air, and I don't think it's too controversial an idea that it is a communal property, though the questions of how we're going to treat it, and who gets to decide how we treat it, might be harder to find agreement on. But what about land? Property ownership is a sacred right, isn't it? "Life, liberty, and property", and all that, or maybe that's supposed to be "... and the pursuit of happiness."

Should we be able to do whatever we want with our property? It's my property, so  I should be able to build what I want on it, destroy or sell the plants, and get rid of whatever critters happen to live there. I'm not affecting anybody else, and if you don't like the way it looks, put up a fence. If I hurt the future value of my property, that's something that I, or my descendent's, will have to deal with. Does this all make sense?

If we go back to talking about the air, we have to take into account that the plants on my land are a part of the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle, therefore what I do with my property can impact the air that you breathe. Should I be allowed to affect the future of the air that you breathe if I own a large plot of forest land, and I want to chop down the trees and set up an amusement park? Ok, maybe I shouldn't be able to do whatever I want with my property.

Like the air, there is only a limited amount of land in existence that has to provide for all the people on earth (yeah, I know, oceans too, but that is even more like the air situation). What I do with my land isn't able to affect your land as easily as the way my treatment of air affects all air, but there are other factors to keep in mind regarding how we treat land ownership. If people get to own land free and clear, in perpetuity, doesn't this put the owners and their descendants in a position of extreme power over the landless, especially as the population builds and there is less land available per person? If it were possible, would we be ok with people buying up the air, and doling it out as they see fit? The people/families/corporations with the most money would have total control over those who couldn't afford to buy up some air for themselves. Is this a valid comparison to make? Maybe the smart, rich people deserve to have more power and control over the dumb, poor people, what do you think?

I don't know what the best way to approach land use is, and I'm not sure that I've been clear about some of the thoughts I have on the subject. I just think it's an interesting subject to think on, and one that, a few years ago, I probably would have declared unequivocally in favor of land owners having absolute power over their land, with property taxes being a serious infringement on the owners' rights. I no longer believe that some of these questions are as black and white as I once did.

 An interesting paper I came across while writing this: Who Owns America

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who owns the air?

Does the air in your lungs belong to you? How about the air inside your house, or above whatever land you own? Should you be able to do anything you want with that air? Maybe you should, if you keep that air, and you don't get to use any of the air that belongs to the rest of the population. But, in reality, the air is communal property. I use the air today that you used yesterday, or a couple years ago, and vice versa. So how much freedom should I or you have when it comes to putting harmful substances into the air? Who is going to determine how much of each poisonous substance each person is allowed to spew into the air that I will be breathing for the next who knows how many years? Will it be regulated by individuals, local communities, state/regional governments, national governments, or maybe a worldwide environmental governing body?

Should a person be allowed to smoke cigarettes, and how many per day? How many miles should someone be allowed to drive per year, and should the amount and quality of exhaust the vehicle produces be a factor in determining this? How should we decide how much a factory in Mexico is allowed to pollute the air that someone in the US breathes, and vice versa? Maybe I'll do a post about cap and trade and how ridiculous I think it is that corporations would get carbon allowances rather than the allowances going to the individual humans who populate this planet.

Eh, don't worry about it. It's a big planet, and us little humans can't be making that big a difference. If we are really making that much of a difference, and things get bad enough that it starts severely affecting our lives, we can let the free market fix things up for us. When it gets bad enough that people are willing to pay to have breathable air, there will be demand for industrious entrepreneurs to develop more efficient air cleaning equipment. Sure, the poor saps who can't afford to buy air won't live long, but that will cut down on the population and thus help fix the pollution problem. Yeah, let's do that. We wouldn't want to undermine anybody's freedoms just to avoid the planet becoming uninhabitable for the majority of the population. It's always a lot easier to fix things after their broken than to prevent breaking them in the first place, isn't it?

Next up, "Who owns the land?" Whoa, wait a minute, what?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How should I deal with denialism or radical claims?

Back in December I came across this post on The Economist (via Tony's shared items), and I especially liked this paragraph:
So, after hours of research, I can dismiss Mr Eschenbach. But what am I supposed to do the next time I wake up and someone whose name I don't know has produced another plausible-seeming account of bias in the climate-change science? Am I supposed to invest another couple of hours in it? Do I have to waste the time of the readers of this blog with yet another long post on the subject? Why? Why do these people keep bugging us like this? Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it's shown to be wrong? At what point am I allowed to simply say, look, I've seen these kind of claims before, they always turns out to be wrong, and it's not worth my time to look into it?
I know that I need to be open enough to question my preconceived notions and be willing to change my mind on things that have been fairly conclusively proven to me if new evidence compels the change, but the entirety of my free time could be wasted trying to verify or debunk all the claims that people put out there. Where do I draw the line?

How much trust do I need to put in the expertise of the experts when they are working with data that is outside of my current understanding? But if I trust the established experts, I'll be lagging along with everybody else and disregarding those rare game changing thinkers when they happen to come up with something that truly revolutionizes our understanding of the world contrary to the established knowledge.

Do the ideas of the technological singularity and radical life extension, possibly during my lifetime, actually have merit even though they're outside of the mainstream understanding of the world, or do I give those ideas more weight than other radical ideas simply because I find them fascinating and appealing? I also find the idea of free energy appealing, but I no longer pay much attention to claims about it, so it can't be just about those things that I like.

Maybe I'm doing an ok job of weeding out the lousy ideas from the decent ones. I hope so, but I've got to remember to keep myself open to the possibility that I could be sorely mistaken in broad swaths of my knowledge, while also trying to avoid wasting too much time investigating frivolous claims.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You're doing precisely what you want to do.

I will probably go to work tomorrow. While I may say that I don't want to be at work, or "if I had the choice, I'd be doing something else," it's not true. It will be something I have chosen to do in favor of innumerable other choices available to me. There is no justification for saying "I have no choice, I have to do this." Of course I have a choice, and this is the choice I've made. I've made this choice based on many factors, some of which are under my control (e.g., how much money I want to spend) and some of which aren't (e.g., I haven't inherited millions of dollars). I want to have money available to me in the future, in order to continue with and improve my lifestyle. There are lifestyles that I could choose that would require less money to support, which might result in me choosing to work less. On the other hand, if I choose to stop working tomorrow, I might find that the number of lifestyle choices available to me will reduced dramatically in short order.

I want to go to work tomorrow, whether I enjoy it or not. I'm glad this is a choice that is currently available to me. This mindset is not always foremost in my thoughts, but it becomes more established the more frequently I think about it. This mindset reestablishes a sense of control over my life that may sometimes slip from my consciousness, and it reveals the abundant potential directions in which I can point my life.

What will you choose to do tomorrow, and will you embrace the fact that it is precisely what you want to do? If it's not what you wanted to do, you'd be doing something else.

(Ok, maybe "precisely what you want," if taken literally, isn't entirely true. You may really want to run a 3 minute mile, but you're not going to whether you choose to or not.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Must do: Create

I've been thinking lately about imposing a daily requirement on myself. Something like "I must create for one hour per day." I see the stuff that my brother does (no picture there of the cool new knife he made yet), my sister too (ask to see some of her drawings or journal covers, maybe she'll post them to her blog), or my friend Micaiah's musings (you must read his post on violence in movies)(oh yeah, he paints too), and I either feel inspired or a bit discouraged about my slackitude. I need to get back on that creative train! The last significant creative thing I did was my album Pluckings back in 2000 I think. There has been a little creativity, such as periodic posts here, or the 365 daily self-portraits, but I need to make some rules to ensure that I move some of the time I spend on consuming over to creating. Any recommendations on what I should require of myself?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

There be Waves here! (or not)

I've been playing around with Google Wave and figured I'd try embedding a wave here using the Madoqua Wave Bot. I'm sorry that those of you without Google Wave (which probably means all two or three people who actually follow this blog) won't currently be able to see or interact with the wave, but I'm sure that you, too, will be able to get your Wave accounts before too long.

UPDATE: Hmm, not working yet. Let's see what I can do here...

UPDATE: Oh well, I'm gonna abandon this attempt for now. I'll wait until they get Bloggy working again and maybe try this again in another post.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Surfing in El Salvador

From El Salvador 2009

It's been a few years since the Costa Rica surf trip, and all of us from that trip (Don, Mike, Frank and I) have been getting progressively more antsy to do another one, so we finally made it happen. We headed down to El Salvador, where we stayed at the Las Flores Surf Club. We had exceptional accommodations and service with a beautiful point break that we could see from our balcony. We took boats to Punta Bongo break on three mornings, where we had the waves all to ourselves. If anyone is looking to take a surf trip, this is a destination worth looking into.

Click here for some photos.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pics from Germany/Austria/Italy trip

Went to a wedding in Germany.

Hung out there, Austria, and Italy.

Here are a few pictures.

Europe trip '09

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Have I entered an alternate reality?"

That was my question today at lunch today when a couple of my friends talked about their belief in Reptilians. Seriously, they believe that shape shifting lizard people from another planet walk among us. The scary thing is that these are normal guys, guys I count as good friends, not some sorry sots afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. Of course they believe that the US government arranged 9/11 and that the Illuminati (who happen to be Reptilians) are running the world. (I'm surprised they haven't brought up chemtrails yet.) Am I supposed to listen to this BS and pretend that it has any relation to reality? Sorry, not gonna happen, even if it makes me look like the close minded skeptic. I'm going to ridicule these ideas and ask for evidence, and some vague comment about dark matter making up 90% of the universe isn't going to cut it.

I hope you will join me and speak up for reality if you find yourself in this type of situation.