Archive for the ‘Geek’ Category
This is a great video. Coding is more than just knowing the syntax of a programming language. It’s about solving problems. It’s about taking a problem and conceptualizing it into smaller, solvable parts. I got my own start into programming when I was in 5th grade. I saw the elementary school was throwing out old books. The books looked in great shape. I saw one in the pile that caught my eye. The teacher said I was welcome to take it.
I took the book home and began reading it. Our home computer was an old MS DOS 5.0 machine, which came with BASIC included. I started creating small programs, starting simply with stuff that wrote text to the screen. After a while, I figured out how to ask for input, so that I could have my programs ask questions from the user. Later I learned how to draw lines on the screen. I ended up creating a small program that drew a series of lines on a screen in various colors so that the lines danced around the screen . All that put me on the path to where I’m at today, an owner of a small software company.
This was the third year that my wife and I went to Seattle for the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). Each year is a bit different. I think everyone that goes to PAX gets something different out of it. There’s simply just too much there to experience everything, so you really have to pick and choose what you want to do. My first year I spent way too much time waiting in lines to play demos of new games. I’m sorry, but now that the lines grow to 4, 5, or even 6 hour waits, that simply doesn’t appeal to me. Both this year and last year, Borderlands 2 was the main offender in long line hell. I figure, I’m going to get the game anyways, I can wait a few weeks to play it.
We got to Seattle early on Thursday night, the day before PAX starts. Since we were staying in the Sheraton hotel, right next to the convention center, we decided to join in the pre-PAX festivities. Tons of gamers gather the night before in the lobby of the Sheraton and in small conference rooms off the lobby to play board games. My wife and I got in a few games of Cards Against Humanity (@CAH), a fun, hilarious, and irreverent party game that was a huge Kickstarter success story. If you haven’t played this yet, you should get it ASAP.
Last year my wife played in some board game tournaments. This year I decided to get in on some of them as well, but still not as much as my wife, who basically camped out in the tabletop gaming tournament area the whole convention. I ended up playing in the Dominion tournament as well as the Tsuro tournament. Both are new games that we’ve just started playing recently.
Dominion is a huge game, with something like seven expansions already released. Each time you play it is different because you get to choose what the setup is each time, selecting 10 distinct cards to use out of anywhere form 35 to a few hundred options, depending on what expansions you have. We’ve got neighbors near us that like to play it too, so we get to play a few times a month.
Tsuro is another game I picked up a few months ago. It’s a fairly quick game to play for 2-8 players, with my wife and I playing it sometimes while just waiting for dinner to cook. Both of us made the final game in this tournament, mostly because it was a small pool of gamers participating. In the finals though, we didn’t actually play Tsuro. Instead, the game’s developer, Ray Wehrs (@CalliopeTweets), introduced everyone to the new sequel game, Tsuro of the Seas, which comes out later this month. This game is much more random and complicated than the original, but still just as much fun. Unfortunately, I was knocked out early in the final round, but my wife ended up coming in 2nd place. When this game does come out, I’m pretty sure we’ll both be picking it up.
I tried to hit up a few panels this time around at PAX. One of the first ones I went to was “Beyond Wheaton’s Law: Being Excellent to Each Other”, hosted by Stephen Toulouse (@Stepto), former Xbox Live Director of Enforcement. For those not familiar with the axiom “Wheaton’s Law”, it’s simply “Don’t be a dick”. It was an interesting panel to listen to, and even my wife said she enjoyed it. He covered how the combination of being online and anonymous turns a lot of people into “fuckwads” and how we, as gamers, need to get past the attitude of “well, that’s just how online gaming is” and covered various ways we can work to improve it and how that movement has already begun. I really wish I had a video of it to post. If I find one, I’ll update this with it.
I did submit to waiting in line for the Halo Reborn panel, which was pretty cool to watch. I like a lot of the stuff that 343 Industries (@HaloWaypoint) is doing with Halo 4 and the multiplayer changes. I love how they changed how the flag carrier works in Capture the Flag game variants so that the carrier holds the flag in one hand and a pistol in the other. The changes to the Scorpion tank firing were a welcome change too. The previous tanks in Halo could fire across an entire game map without any drop due to gravity. Halo 4 adjusts this so that shots need to be aimed a bit above targets, depending on distance. Oh, and the biggest thing I love about Halo 4 that I saw…the sound. Halo guns sound like, well, guns now. I might have to update my sound system at home for this game.
When I hit the show floor, mostly I just browsed the booths. I figure I could get just as much from watching other people play a game that I could from playing it myself, and I had the bonus of not having to wait in line for hours to do it. One game I did wait in line to play was Medal of Honor:Warfighter (@MedalOfHonor), mostly because the line was fairly short and I couldn’t just look over someone else’s shoulder while they play it. The game was pretty awesome. Unlike Battlefield 3, where you have 4 person squads, Medal of Honor pitted us in a 10vs10 match with people split up into 2-person squads. This will make communication much easier as you’ll only be directly talking to one other person at a time. Also, I really liked the way they customized that Ford F-150 truck in their booth!
While Assassin’s Creed 3 didn’t have a playable demo there for gamers to try out, they did have a fairly short developer demo that we could watch. I also managed to snag a free t-shirt out of it, just because I had it pre-ordered. I also took time to check out some other games, like XCOM Enemy Unknown and Hawken. Both looked interesting, but I think they may fall down my list of games to get simply due to the overabundance of awesome games coming out. While browsing the top floor of the convention center, where a lot of vendors are located at, I ran into Kyle Myers, a.k.a. FPS Russia (@TheFPSShow), at the Machinema booth. His YouTube videos (here and here) are always entertaining to watch.
The last day of PAX, I decided to finally wait in line to actually play Halo 4. While it took nearly 90 minutes of waiting, the game was awesome to play. Again, the audio in the game sounds amazing. I realized quickly though how much I missed my KontrolFreaks (@KontrolFreak) when I had to use their Xbox controllers. The thumbsticks felt tiny in my huge hands. I still played fairly well, harassing the other team with the tank most of the game and then carrying the flag most of the way across the map. My teammates? Not so much.
I intended to go to the Gearbox Software (@GearboxSoftware) panel, but ended up not getting in because the line for it filled up completely over an hour before the panel was scheduled to begin. While it would have been cool to hear a bit about Borderlands 2, I already know I’m getting the game, and by missing that panel, I was able to compete in the Tsuro tournament.
Another great thing about PAX is being able to meet tons of gamers that I interact with throughout the year via Xbox Live, Twitter and game forums. It was fun being able to meet and talk with @Rukizzel, @KalamariKidd, @ElusiveEagle, @bsangel, and a few others. Each year has been a different and fun experience. I’m totally looking forward to next year’s PAX.
This professor decides to use his knowledge of mathematics & physics to present to the court a very good argument for reasonable doubt. Did he run the stop sign? I guess only he knows for sure. His argument made for an interesting read. Using simple math (well, really, it’s pre-college calculus), he presents a fairly good argument that the police officer could have easily missed the instant that he came to a stop and then began accelerating again.
Best line of his argument though was the final statement that the police officer’s “perception of reality did not properly reﬂect reality.”
Recently I purchased a new pair of glasses from Gunnar Optiks. No, my eyesight is fine. Thank you for asking. The reason I purchased them is due to the long hours I spend in front of computer monitors. I work all day sitting at a computer writing software and then go home where I spend time playing video games on another LCD television. I’ve noticed I was getting headaches fairly often. After a while I realized it was the many hours in front of the monitors that was the main cause. I read about these glasses a while back and finally decided to go out and get myself a pair.
I’ve been really surprised at how well they work. They do take some getting used to as they shift the light spectrum just a bit when using them. After a few hours the first time wearing them I now hardly notice it. What I really did notice though was that after a week or so of wearing these at work I stopped experiencing the constant headaches. I’ve gotten so used to wearing them at work that it feels weird to take them off now.
If anyone out there spends a significant part of their day looking at an LCD monitor, I’d recommend these glasses. Even if you’re not experiencing problems yet, these glasses may well just prevent that effect from setting in.
My wife is a big fan of American Idol. She watches it every week, whether live or off of our DVR. Each week now she gets to vote for the contestants after the show. Last week she sat there redialing the voting number on her cell phone over and over. I think she got in maybe 10 votes before giving up.
This week, as the show was getting over, she mentioned that now she needed to go vote. Being the geek that I am, I asked her if she wanted me to make it 10x easier and help her get in tons more votes. She had no clue that was possible.
I proceeded to then install a redialing program on our laptop computer. Since it has a modem, I just hooked up the laptop to a phone line and set the redialer to call the voting line over and over. It calls in and when it hears a ring, waits 5 seconds (enough time for the vote to be picked up and counted) and then hangs up and redials again. We let that run last night for the two hours voting was open. We got in 504 votes. Not bad for one person. And since it’s a toll free number we didn’t have to worry about long distance charges.
If anyone else is interested in using the same software, here’s a link to where I got it.