I just launched an automated build, and the log file timestamp ends with ‘1337′. If that’s not a good omen for a programmer I don’t know what is.
We mentioned to Sharena about 5 years ago that maybe we’d bring her to an amusement park in the summer, but we never did and forgot all about it. She didn’t! So we finally went this year with her and a bunch of other people from Jenny’s family. We learned:
- Jenny still can’t go on rides – she didn’t somehow “get better”. Our third ride was the pirate ship, and that did her in for the rest of the day. She was even sitting in the middle!
- I still can – according to the kids this means I am not old yet. I liked “THUNDER AND LIGHTNING” and “BOULDER DASH” best.
- Somehow the person who was the most game for the scary rides was Alexis, even though she’s only 8! She would go on anything, and even sit right in the front car.
Here are a bunch of stories of really great last minute hacks that were needed to get a game out the door. I have perpetrated my share of these as well. On one project I worked on, we had an upcoming very high profile marketing launch. (how high profile? we rented this room at Lincoln Center – the same one used as the meeting room in the recently canceled bad show Kings) Anyway, just before that launch, we realized that due to some very low level bugs in our messaging infrastructure, some small percentage of messages were being lost. The cause was unknown, and the “real” fix would have taken more time than we had. So instead, I put in a small change. Send every message… no, not twice, that wouldn’t be quite awesome enough… no, I sent every message in TRIPLICATE! Worked like a charm.
Prompted by this entry at Crummy about video game music medleys, I went and listened to some old game music and realized that some of the songs that have stuck in my head throughout the years were accompanied by some of the scariest moments. Here are some that play in my head AT LEAST once per day, in trendy “TOP $N” format:
#3 Scariest Moment: Dracula
Castlevania was the first game I ever played where, when you finally manage to kill the final end guy, after weeks of playing to reach him… HE COMES BACK TO LIFE IN AN INCREDIBLY MORE SCARY FORM and immediately jumps on you with huge sharp claws and you die. This is the music that plays as that happens. It took many more weeks to figure out how to kill the alternate form of Dracula. The secret, which is to use the Holy Water, came to me in a dream. For reals.
#2 Scariest Moment: About that cake…
In Portal, throughout the whole game you have been promised, and I quote, “delicious cake”. When you finally finish the last set of obstacles and your Aperture Science Unstationary Platform rounds a corner, instead of cake you find… the oven.
And the #1 Scariest Moment is: MOTHERBRAIN
Anybody who has played Super Metroid remembers this moment with perfect clarity. You have descended to Tourian, in the depths of planet Zebes, and found Mother Brain, in exactly the same setting as the original Metroid. The same way to destroy it works too: missiles through the glass. It doesn’t even take that many before Mother Brain explodes, and you get ready to celebrate. But then, after an eerie pause, this music begins to play and Mother Brain comes back to life in a screen-filling, and seemingly invincible form. None of your weapons work, and Mother Brain keeps shooting you with an energy draining beam that pins you to the back wall and leaves you immobilized. No matter how many E-Tanks you have, all you can do is sit there and watch them all be drained away. To raise the drama even further, Mother Brain shuts off the beam when you have like 10 energy points left, giving you a few moments to helplessly pound on the buttons, or scream and swing the controller around over your head, depending on your panic level. Lots of games do the “that was only a hologram… now my TRUE FORM” thing with the final end guy, Castlevania was maybe the first, but I say Super Metroid did it the best.
Are you like me? Do you like games that feel like work? Then maybe this game is for you. Конструктор (constructor) has been my obsession since it appeared on Sunday. I’ve had Zachtronics Industries subscribed for a while, after stumbling across some of his older games “for engineers”. But this one is my favorite so far. In it, you create chips that meet certain specifications using metal wires and two types of silicon. The red silicon, when powered, can stop the flow of electricity when drawn on top of the yellow. And the yellow, when drawn on the red, stops the flow unless it is powered. That is all you have to work with! Did you ever take a class in “Digital Logic” where you sketched out designs for things like an an adder using simple gates, like NOT or AND or NOR? This game is like the ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE of that. You don’t even have a NOT gate. In fact, your first challenge is to make one! The levels ramp up in difficultly quite quickly from there, and many seem simply impossible at first. I’m now to the point in the game with timing glitches and space to lay out circuits is becoming an issue, and loving it. The last few levels are “Confidential” but I have high hopes given that in the levels leading up to them you implement a shift register, RAM, and a rudimentary ALU.
If I stop showing up to work for the next few days this game is the reason why.
(by the way: the author of the game seems to have neglected to point out one important fact: you hold down the shift key to toggle between paining the two types of silicon. this took me a while to figure out the first time.)
Sharena is making a mockery of the lion dance and eventually her great grandfather can’t take it any more.
We have arrived in Taiwan and in typical Taiwanese fashion we found that Jenny’s relatives actually rented a TOUR BUS to pick us up from the airport. It brought us to her Uncle’s place (only saw one bing lang girl on the way) where every relative ever had gathered for food and drink. They finally let us go and now they’ve distributed us out to houses with spare rooms for sleeping. We have big plans to get up early tomorrow and get breakfast and check out the area, but I’m pretty sure we owe like 2 or 3 night’s sleep at this point so we’ll see what actually happens.
Tomorrow is a day of relative rest (other than the inevitable banquet-grade dinner) and then the next day we start a 5 day bus trip around the island, to some places we’ve been before, and some we haven’t.
- How to deal with tools that suck. (And what it means when a geek says something sucks.)
- How much better tools that don’t suck are!
- And the best part: how to change those tools, from suck to not suck, even when you aren’t “the boss”.
We’ve got trips! And this time they’re for reals.
This weekend: Palo Alto! I’ve been casually talking to somebody out there for a while, and now that our conversations are getting more serious (O(lg n) and the like) we’ve decided to meet up in person and see where things lead.
End of February: Taiwan, again! This time with all of them, plus ALL their kids, which will definitely be either fun or “fun”. Hoping for mostly the former.
Remember how I was all “Is there available, on planet Earth, REALLY good C++ training?” The answer turns out to be YES! We (the place where I work) just finished a week of training provided by DevelopMentor, using materials created by Scott Meyers, and presented by Steve Dewhurst. It was absolutely excellent! I had recently been in a phase where there more I learned about C++ the less I liked it, but during the course I think I hit some sort of Tipping Point™ where I started to like it again. You can (and should) complain about a lot of things in C++, but no other language spans a greater range of the abstraction spectrum from the lofty and metaphysical down to gritty opcodes and registers.
Here are two statements from ICANN’s announcement that they will be opening up registration of top-level domains:
“The potential here is huge. It represents a whole new way for people to express themselves on the Net,” said Dr Twomey.
Yay! I would love to be able to “express myself!” http://messy.78/ here we come!
There will be a limited application period where any established entity from anywhere in the world can submit an application that will go through an evaluation process.
Another thing I realized while reading this is that some day very soon “.com” will be passe… and then shortly afterwards extremely cool and retro.
Nice to see that ancient Chinese scholars had the same sense of humor as modern stand-up hacks:
Those who speak do not know, those who know are silent,
I heard this saying from the old gentleman.
If the old gentleman was one who knew the way,
Why did he feel able to write five thousand words?
Answer: up until yesterday, it was the current date. But starting today, it is AN ERROR MESSAGE! Why? DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!!! This wasted about 1 hour of my time today.
I have determined the top two Street Fighter videos on the ENTIRE INTERNET, but I just can’t quite tell which is the absolute champion:
We’ll be going back to Taiwan this year, in April! Highlights will be Jenny’s grandfather’s ∞th birthday (and other family type functions), a visit to Sandwich Lady, and going up to the top of the Taipei 101 while it still holds on to the “tallest” title. (The last time I saw the 101 it looked like this!)
Update: no we aren’t! more like TaiWRONG 2008!
This word count bookmarklet searches through the page you’re on, and attempts to report the word count of the selection. It will first look for the text selection, and if there is none, it will search for a textarea that has a selection. It should be working in Safari and Firefox, and possibly even IE and Opera.
OK, so you actually expect me to believe that ON THE SAME DAY we got actual evidence that Duke Nukem Forever is going to come out, like, ever, AND news that the next version of IE is going to pass the ACID2 web standards test? Just how gullible do you think I am? The next thing you’re gonna try and tell me is that a new version of Feed on Feeds has been released.
Researchers have worked out the neurological trick used by a species of wasp to turn cockroaches into ‘zombie slaves’. The discovery explains why, once stung, cockroaches can be led by a much smaller master towards certain death. Researchers have proven their theory by replicating the effect, and by using an antidote injection to release the cockroaches from their zombie state.
This YouTube video (embedding disabled) shows the view from the cockpit (with HUD) of the last 7 minutes or so of the Space Shuttle Atlantis landing. You can also hear the running chatter back and forth from the shuttle to ground control. The pilot is enjoying himself exactly as much as you would expect, I mean, he’s ACTUALLY FLYING THE SPACE SHUTTLE.
The video seemed to originate from this somewhat broken site which has some other videos, but I haven’t found any that are as good.
And if you want to try this landing for yourself, you can! Just install X-Plane.
Random information for Vietmanese food seekers in Montreal:
- For some reason, “Pho” is called “Tonkinese Soup” here.
- There is another soupish dish that called “Mytho” which is ubiquitous and very good. Maybe named after the place Mỹ Tho? Anyway, it was pretty much like this, minus the quail eggs. I had it with the broth on the side and was recommended (twice!) to put some sweet vinegar on top which turned out to be a very good idea.
- Our favorite Vietmanese restaurant here is Cafe Saigon in “Le Village”. Like the review says, “so out it’s in”.