2012 April❮❮prevnext❯❯

tuba and cake


ice skating

went ice skating with EB and his 2 gals...

http://creativejs.com/2012/04/multiplayer-asteroids-with-node-js/ Holy Crap. 1800+ people playing Asteroids Arena. Node.js has some amazing power!

clips of people falling off of treadmills


--via 22 words (update: or at least something like it)
http://mosaicboston.com/ -- this church has an understanded billboard "Help My Unbelief". I know faith is a complex, multi-faceted thing, but some how it reminds me of that Niels Bohr's horseshow story:
Upon seeing it hanging over a doorway someone said, "But Niels, I thought you didn't believe horseshoes could bring good luck." Bohr replied, "They say it works even if you don't believe."
Ah well. At least it's helping to fund the T!



--by fluxmachine. I love animated GIFs
Not that I'm so religious myself but it's kind of weird Pax East is all during Easter and Passover. It's often a family gathering time, eh?

enjoy today


--from Radio Free Babylon



-Miller's Google plus feed had this "Pac-Man The Movie [Fan Film]" perfect for the first day of Pax East!
Switching to an e-ink reader for a while. Physio-poetically, depending on reflected light is less isolating from the local environment than using a backlit screen is. Also it's delightfully minimalistic.

the kirktopus

I received a birthday card from my buddy Sawers! This was the front.

(I case it wasn't clear the card was homemade.)


Very nice! The "little thing" mentioned was a tin of mints in the shape of the classic Atari Joystick, like I put into pixel form for pixeltime...

No joke: We've reached Peak Helium. The price was kept artificially low by Congressional mismanagement. Helium prices are soaring. (Ok, one joke.) That makes me said; floating balloons are a bit magical.



--My Aunt got me this awesome inflatable shark for my birthday... the way it swims through the air is kinda uncanny. (Makes me sad helium is going away!) Here's an attack, with tuba soundtrack.

weekend photos


Let me think about the people who I care about the most... and how when they fail, or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.
zefrank, "An Invocation for Beginnings"

That NY Times piece on casual games is interesting for scratchware gamer makers like me.

deckchairs on the titanic

For your meta-metaphoric amusement and utility, ladies and gentlemen it's the legendary deckchairs on the titanic!

--via kottke, with a bunch more photos of the famous ship. In related news, you really should see XKCD's side view infographic of lakes and oceans
We need fewer lawyers and more inventors, and stopping patent trollage is a crucial part of that.
Latest dev thoughts: semantic web and html5 fans want html to just be the "M" in "MVC". That seems quixotic to me: the basic page flow, the order things are listed, influences the look of the resulting page to a huge degree, and you can't push all of that into CSS land without committing even worse offenses.

general lee speaking


--Every jump of the Dukes of Hazzard "General Lee". Man, it used to drive my folks nuts, how much I loved this show as a child...
Good rule of thumb: only have kids if it's your DREAM to have kids.

Texts from my Dog I laughed.

the holy watering can

--Vania Heymann's "The Crazy Watering Can", via Bill the Splut What a well-executed and provoctive concept! I love how not even Apple fandom is exempt... (reminds me a little bit of Cleveland's Church of the Holy Oil Can.)
'You won't like me when I'm angry. Because I always back up my rage with facts and documented sources.'
--The Credible Hulk

football cheers i have known

It's been a long time since I've been in a pep band but I learned many cheers. (Warning, lots of near-swears and a tad of implied obscenity follow.
Rick 'um Rack 'um Reek 'um Ruck 'um
Get that ball and really FIGHT!
That one might have come from Robin Williams, actually.

High school had some old standbys:
Strawberry Shortcake, Banana Split!
We think your team's full of
SHHHIFT to the left, Shift to the right!
Go Team Go! Fight Fight! Fight!
Cigarette Ashes, Cigarette Butts--
We got your team by the nuts!
and that doesn't even try to be coy,
Ur-ine Ur-ine Yer-in-trouble!
In college we learned the blame game:
and the semi-onscene:
Get off your knees, ref,
you're blowing the game!
The following came from my University days, and they are pretty rich coming from a school so firmly on the second rung as Tufts...
That's all right, that's ok,
You'll all work for us someday!
Wine cooler, wine cooler,
Beer beer beer
You only go to _____
'Cause you couldn't get in here!
(where ___ is the name of the competing school.)

Finally one that will never set a crowd on fire but is kind of fun:
Rip off his arm and beat him over the head with the bloody stump!

Whenever I start reading Yelp reviews, I always regret it, generally immediately.
Suddenly Boston's all like BAM! TOURISTS!

mario and peach head to head

My birthday was rather toy-riffic... EB and his family got me a Mario Kart Slot Racing set... the racers were squirrely as heck but you know, pretty photogenic...

awesome video on uis and why uis


Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle from CUSEC on Vimeo.

Aren't memories just dreams we have while we're awake?

what a man


--Lena Meyer-Landrut (of "Satellite" Eurovision fame. This song is similar to but distinct from the Salt-n-Pepa version my Aunt digs... I like all the old 60s dance references.

the life sausage

From this touching tale of adopting Banana, a once feral cat
I call it "The Life Sausage", and it's not height or width but total area that you want to maximize (or volume, if you're going the 3-axis route). You can live a hundred years if you never leave your home, never eat fatty foods, never risk love or sex for fear of failure and STDs - and your life sausage will be one long, emaciated pepperoni-stick of misery, hyperextended along one axis but barely registering on the others. You can fuck everything that moves, snort every synthetic that makes it past the blood-brain barrier, dive with sharks and wrestle 'gators and check out when your chute fails to open during the skydiving party on your sweet sixteenth. Your life sausage will be short but thick, like a hockey puck on-edge, and the sum total of the happiness contained therein will put to shame any number of miserable incontinent centenarians wasting away in the rest home. More typically the sausage will be a lumpy thing, a limbless balloon-animal lurching through time with fat parts and skinny parts and, more often than not, a sad tapering atrophy into loneliness and misery near the end. But in all these cases, the value of your life is summed up not by lifespan nor by happiness but by the product of these, the total space contained within the sausage skin.
An interesting way of looking at things! Link from Bill the Splut.
Boingboing asks What will stop Conservative America's progeny from having so much hot, wild, bareback sex?
At 120 calories Cracker Jack is a nice treat, but a paper "pencil topper" as the "secret toy surprise"?? Puh-leeze. At least do a sticker or something!

jp morgan didn't like photographers


Past? Imperfect. Present? Tense. Future? Conditional.

Stories are just data with soul

Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first.
Peter Ustinov.
When I think about stuff I find sexy and/or appealing these days, certain accents, certain poses, etc, and then I think back to the high school era or earlier examples of me appreciating them... I really wonder if those examples are the cause, or the effect of a pre-existing appreciation...

the pr3vent trilogy

So Anna Anthropy has written a book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. As you might guess from the subtitle ("How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form") the book is a rallying cry for the idea that everyone should make games.

I liked the book a lot, but there was a point of emphasis that didn't resonate for me, and I decided to try to put my response into game form. Actually, I was inspired to write not one, not two, but THREE games! I present the "Pr3vent Trilogy: DESPERADO DORIS, PEACEMAKER, and NERD NEEDS IDEA, BADLY". You can play any one you want, and I hope you pay attention to its message, whichever one you choose:

OK, so what's this about?

In her book Anthropy writes about the game: Calamity Annie (which is terrific btw, and you should go download and play it immediately)
There's a videogame about a dyke who convinces her girlfriend to stop drinking. Mainstream gamer culture by and large does not know about this game. I know about this game because I made it.
The thing is I was lucky enough to be a playtester for this game (though admittedly never hunkered down to get good enough at it to see the plot conclude) but if someone asked me what it was "about", I would have said it was about gunfighting (the primary "play mechanic" is a very clever translation of the good 'ol Western gunduel into mouse-and-screen form, where you have to keep your mouse-driven crosshairs holstered 'til it's time to draw.) The story was a nice touch, but at the time I considered it mere "flavor text", the stuff that often adds layers of meaning to a game, but could be taken away or radically modified without changing the game's core.

In the book though Anthropy emphasizes the story-telling aspect of game-making and she has lead by example (her very personal dys4ia- another game you should play online right now, and this one you don't even have to download, just play online) but as a gamemaker, I just want to say: it's ok if the story is an afterthought, and it's valid when the purpose of making a game is to explore gameplay rather than to model to an external theme. My impression from reading the book, especially the lovely and poetic section What to Make a Game About? which begins
Your dog, your cat, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your friends, your imaginary friends, your summer vacation, your winter in the mountains, your childhood home, your current home, your future home, your first job, your worst job, the job you wish you had.
and continues for 10 more paragraphs and well over 100 more suggestions, is that she considers this central to the gamemaking mandate, and I'd just like to remind folks: it's ok if your game isn't "about" much of anything at all. (Personally, this is why I think videogames are interesting-- you can tell stories in many media, but only with videogames can you make real time, viscerally pleasing interactions.)

So, that off my chest, I want to ramble about one more thing: this book talks a lot about how gamemaking is a possibility for nearly everyone, and that you can make many fine games and tell many crucial stories as a lone auteur, or with the help of a few friends-- and I know the author's disdain for most big-budget "AAA" titles. But still, I have to grapple with the limitations of the tools the amateur has... there are certain kinds of game experience that are still far removed from what an individual can make on their own. In particular, there is a certain thrill and meaning present in games that strive for "living breathing worlds", ones that can put a player in a world close enough to our own that the empowerment ("I can fly!", for example) and differences (the permission to have a casual disregard for life and limb and property, for example) have greater resonance. These games have something you can feel in your gut in a way you won't with a retro, 2D, or otherwise iconically presented game.

I was trying to think of where the worlds of what an amateur can do and full, rich worlds overlap. The mod-ing community comes to mind: people who rip into the binary guts of, say, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and make it more their own. If I try to envision a more general purpose "gameworld construction kit", something with the open-ness of ZZT but a world more like our own, it ends up looking a bit like "Second Life" which as far as I can tell is the most dedicated attempt to make Cyberspace and VR as presented in 80s and 90s cyberpunk a reality. I've never gotten into that realm, though I appreciate how it has been open to people creating in it, and sometimes even being financially rewarded for their creative efforts. (Though in practice I think the appeal is more for people who really dig creating an alternate persona for themselves than for 3D-physics junkies like me.)

Anyway, go get this book, and then go make some games!
Life is an illusion, but an illusion we must take seriously.
Aldous Huxley

bert, oh bert


--Lena isn't well known here, but here "German Sesame Street" version of her Eurovision "Satellite" is so cute...

manufacture your meaning

Q:What can you tell a young man looking for motivation in life itself?

A: The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist and science communicator, and heir apparent to Carl Sagan.

the fun of slow motion


--Dumt & Farligt Phantom Flex Highlights - 1080p


click to play:


(Decided not to embed the game since it starts out playing music...) This was my Ludum Dare 23 game, though the core idea and puzzles were generated by my collaborator Glenn Iba. I can't say it's so original, since Glenn has a very similar iOS game and a host of Lisp computer programs to make these puzzles, but still it was a nice exercise in UI and design.
Love thy neighbour as yourself, but choose your neighbourhood.
Louise Beal

I want this to be the perfect date. I haven't had a real date since I was 13 years old.
Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn". Like Amber mentioned, so many things wrong with sentence...

the motion of the ocean

(1 comment)
At a recent UU thing, someone mentioned this story that I didn't recall reading in Tuesday's with Morrie
"I heard a nice little story the other day," Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.

"Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air--until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.

"My God, this is terrible," the wave says. 'Look what's going to happen to me!'

"Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, 'Why do you look so sad?'

"The first wave says, 'You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?'

"The second wave says, 'No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean.'"
It's really difficult to put aside our own egos enough to embrace our part-of-ocean-ness!

And I would say that's also part of my problem with Abrahamic religion as it's usually played in the West. With Original Sin thinking humanity is depraved and apart from God. We're all our own little puddle apart from The Ocean, with the promise that if we're good we'll get to all hang out forever 'cause God will stop evaporation.
The wind that pushes against you is the thing that lifts you up! That's science!
Red Cross Street Walker on a windy day at Copley Square

That's the weirdest proclivity that you have. That I know about.
Amber on how I like to peer into her mouth when it's open for a big yawn

ipad bedtime story


(Amber didn't actually say the last two things, but it would have been funny if she had!)
'Obama wants to create a secular, post-Christian pagan/hedonistic technocracy!!!!' If only, man. If only...



--via 22 words
http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/tech-tip-really-simple-http-server-python I kinda love this one liner that gives you a static http server on any machine running Python (like Macs...)
My company is doing "Take Your Child to Work Day". For me then it has to be "Take Your Inner Child to Work Day". Which kinda is every day.

crabs and ice water

From The Illuminatus! Trilogy:
"Balls" said the queen "if I had them I'd be king" and "Nuts" said the prince "I've got them and I'm not king" and "Crap" said the king and thirty thousand royal subjects squatted and strained for in those days the king's word was law.
I think I like it because My Ever Lovin' Aunt Susan sometimes uses the first one. She sometimes uses "Crabs and ice water!" which is said to have been a favorite of my Nana...
My buddy Tom Kermode pointed out that "Bring Your Parent to Work Day" would be both cool. And I think potentially informative.

oh leia


--from A few rare photos on the set of the only Star Wars movies that matter. Love random Princess Leia photos.

thanks for the memories


Some article referenced this clip. I like its wistful nature.


So almost 20 years ago I did a small programming challenge with my Freshman roommate Rob... we came up with a simplistic bidding game (a slightly simplified version of a card game) and we decided to write programs and see whose program would do better at it. Each program had the values 1-10 and it could use each value once, and then they would bid for the values 1-10 coming out in random order.

Ideally, you would write a program that would know what it was holding, and what was left on the pile, and what the opponent still had available to bid, but Rob and I both punted and just mapped a static ordering. If I remember correctly his program was a bit better than mine.

I realized that the "static ordering" method meant some patterns would be more successful at the games then others, and I made up a "survival of the fittest" game of it in QuickBasic, but it didn't get very far in figuring out the "champion". I then thought it would be cool to fight ALL the permutations against all the other permutations and graph it out, but I couldn't think of a good way of generating all the permutations. So I wrote this email to my Computer Science 101 professor asking for help. (The email is a little tough for me to read now, just because it's such an ugly mix of faux humbleness and precociousness. And even beyond my aparent love for Unix style 8-character usernames.)

The good-ish news is that, in the 20 or so years since then, I have the tools (both mental and computer) to write a solution for the problem in a few hours. (Using a simple brute force method to count from 00000 to 99999 or so, and then seeing which of those numbers were "legal patterns" using each digit from 1 to 5 once.) The result looks like this:

It's kind of nice and fractal-y. In running it I learned the straight forward, bid what each thing is worth pattern (12345) is the best bet, winning 104 out of 120 battles. It ties with 12345 (of course) 13542 23145 32415 42351 and loses to 12453 13425 13452 14352 21453 23415 23451 23541 24351 31452 32451. You can see it on the top horizontal line, with red indicating a victory for the horizontal player, blue meaning a loss, and gray a tie.

I also generated the version with 6 bids:. Plotting that shows the pretty fractal-ness more clearly, though my crude algorithm takes a little longer to show at first. (It's 720x720. The next size up would be 5040x5040, which is higher rez than monitors I have handy.) It has a pleasing irregular quilt-like quality
Make love when you can. It's good for you.
Kurt Vonnegut

I feel that the right technology can solve any problem, including us.

We are born between feces and urine.
St. Augustine. Man, old school Christianity can be such a bummer sometimes!

2012 April❮❮prevnext❯❯