Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My God It's Full of Levels!

None of which are more than an 3D icon.  Still it was fun to fill it up.  I'm kind of a fan of the ultra low poly planets.  It seems to work well.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Added A Level Select Screen

I have tentatively titled the campaign Ganithracks Malice, mostly because it is what I came up with when I wanted to test the title bar and also because it doesn't contain a V, which I haven't implimented yet.  I only have one level Icon right now, so I just put down Earth --which has clearly been rendered in the highest of detail-- three times. 

The greyed out ones are not yet selectable as you've got to beat Earth before you can move on to Earth 2 and then you have to beat Earth 2 before you can do Earth 3.  The cool thing is you can do arbitrary dependencies which should allow for fun and varied campaigns with multiple paths.  With this additional menu, it seems much, much more like a game.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Foxlike - Where is it at?

I've been travelling at bit and haven't had too much time to work on it, what with currently being in Belgium and all.

The stuff I have been working on has been mostly internal.  I'm currently converting everything to run at something other than 60 fps.  Previously I used a very explicit timing method of basically assuming every computer could pull of 60fps and then limiting the fps to 60.

This is somewhat untrue and on some computers - my netbook - Foxlike really doesn't perform like it should, so I'm currently revamping everything to update based on time elapsed.  This means that pretty much any computer will be able to run Fox-like pretty well. It's not a very exciting change, but it really should happen sooner rather than later.  The end result will be pretty cool.  If you have an awesome computer, your performance will be smooth as can be.  If you have not such a good computer, than it will still be playable.

The next bit will probably be to improve how my objects are stored and used in collision detection.  The current algorithm is pretty amateur, and I can think of a few ways to make it much better.  Doing this will probably require another layer of abstraction - woot!

So for the next while Foxlike will be all about black triangles.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Penny Arcade Over the Years

Penny Arcade is about to change there site design and that got me thinking about what the site used to look like.  I thought maybe other people would like to see too.

Here is a snapshot of Penny Arcade for every year since 1999 to our 2011.  It's kind of cool to see how it changes from a 90's website into the multifaceted brand we know today. It shows you what creativity and hard work can do for you.

It's almost getting to be start-up time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6990 - The Number of the Beast

I am currently working with a computer I have named "Beast".  Literally, it's in the cs departments name as Beast.

Technically beast is the best computer you could buy right now with an AMD Radion 6990 coupled with an Intel i7 26000k and a ton o' ram.

In reality Beast is as vicious as Beast is powerful and hates locking mechanisms.  The Beast does not like to be synchronized or controlled and as such fights back the only way it can - by locking up completely.

Truly filled with a dark soul and angered by its captivity, Beast also hates restarting and takes forever to do so.  No doubt biding its time.  Waiting for another prime moment to initiate its grand betrayals.

Finally when it does restart and boot up again, it says it had an error and shut down unexpectedly.  We both know I shut it down, but only Beast won't admit it.


Monday, July 18, 2011

You Buy Bags of Delicious Waffles Here!

Maybe you can in other countries too, I haven't really looked, but in Belgium you can totally buy a bag of delicious sugary waffles!

 I went to the store looking for crackers, I came back with so much more.

Woot Belgium!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Silent Protagonist + Chrono Cross

Silent protagonists are pretty awesome, but they don't happen nearly as much as they used to.  That's kind of too bad.  RPGs seem to be built around ever talking protagonists.

Anyway I was skimming SMPS' Chrono Cross Review again. and I noticed this bit and I figured I'd pass it on:

"Chrono Cross is the rare post-SNES JRPG that can accurately be called a role-playing game. Even though the term RPG continues to be used in regard to Final Fantasy, the Tales series, Xenosaga, etc., but there is actually very little role-playing to be found in most of these games. As soon as an RPG's player character begins speaking on his own or making decisions independently of the person holding the controller, the term "role-playing game" becomes a misnomer.

This is why the silent protagonist device is such an effective tool in video games. When the player's character in the game's interactive narrative -- and technically, every video game is an interactive narrative -- is incapable of exercising any autonomy of supplying his own voice and thoughts, there is that much less of a boundary between the player and the world of the game. In Chrono Trigger, the player is Crono, and vice versa (up until the Ocean Palace disaster, anyway). Conversely, in Final Fantasy X, the player really only acts as Tidus's arms and legs, and only when the game cedes control to him. There is no role-playing; Tidus and the player are totally seperate entities. The player nudges Tidus along and views events from mover his shoulder rather than through his eyes.

Chrono Cross uses this tool to a more daring end. Chrono Trigger was designed to be a fantastic adventure in which the player vicariously leads a life of daring action and heroism through Crono. It's a blast, but fairly typical video game fare. Chrono Cross, however, is a story that's less about saving the world from disaster than Serge's quest for identity and meaning. Because Serge and the player are inextricably bound, Serge's existential struggle becomes the player's own."
The review itself is a really awesome read and I suggest you check it out even if you've never played Chrono Cross.  It's long, but it provides a really relevant discusssion about story in video games.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop Spying on Our Internet

The new conservative government is attempting to push through a series of crime related legislation.  Most of which I don't really know about, but I do know about "Lawful" Access.  To be fair it was originally a Liberal initiative.  Either way it is a pretty naive and impractical bill.

The Lawful Access Bill will make it mandatory for internet service providers to collect your personal information when you use the internet and then hand it over to the police if they should ever ask.  They won't even need a warrant and they'll be able to find out litterally everything you ever do online.  Right now you may be reading this on Facebook.  After this bill, the police will know everything you ever post here - without court oversight.

Privacy aside, this bill will force ISPs to monitor and store everything everyone does online.  That seems tricky and indeed witll require them to build significant infrastructure to do so.  Running a 1984 version of the internet isn't cheap and this cost will be passed on to consumers.  To make matters worse, smaller ISPs won't be able to keep up - effectively reducing the number of providers and competition in our already dominated market.

Right now we only have three major providers and Canadians have been forced to pay more for their internet.  If this bill get's passed, not only will we have to pay more for unnecessary infrastructre, but we'll also be living in a near monoploy, so be prepared to pay again.

The biggest problem I have with this is that the police have never once shown a need for this sort of system.  There really hasn't ever been an instance where their current powers have stopped them from solving a case.  Their current tools are sufficient.

The bottom line: Please speak out and spread the word if you have any interest in your privacy, your pocketbook or sensible legislation.  An affordable open internet is important to Canada: socially, economically and culturally.  You can find more information here:

Thanks for reading


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventure Log 2 - Settling In

I'm currently sitting in my place drinking coffee and eating a box of truffles (woot Belgium!).  Here's what went down in the last couple days:

After spending an evening in my temporary accomodations, I moved to the Groot Begijnhof which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Where I Live
That's kinda neat.  As it was originally constructed in the 13th century, this is by the far the oldest place I've ever lived in.  Victoria has a lot of "Heritage Houses" and other old buildings, but I none of them predate Columbus.  So if your touring Belgium and hit up Leuven and happen to find yourself checking up historical sites, you should totally drop me a line.

Bells ring out in song every half hour.  On the hour is a Belgian folk song.  I don't know about what.

Also of note, while I've never seen a cobblestone in Victoria,  they are everywhere here.  I don't think I've ever seen a "paved" sidewalk.  It's always an ever changing mix of various types of cobbles.  They can be a little bit tricky to walk ok, my rolling suitcase hates them and I bet if you wore high heels you would have to be extremely dextrous.  They give me even more respect for the Paris Roubaix.  That remind me, the Tour De France starts today and I'm in the same timezone!

My Street - Cobble Stones
Another somewhat surprising structure standing only slightly more than sixteen steps away is a massive church.

Dare I say Cathedral?
Victoria was also pretty big on the churches, but nothing like these ones.  Here is another from downtown:

There a quite a few and they are all huge buildings.  I've found that I can almost navigate on churches alone.  "Look a church, I can get home from there"

That being said, Leuven is a small but difficult city to find your way around.  I'm used to living in places that were panned around a grid system.  You have numbered streets and named streets and you the avenues make sense.  Here we get this:

There are no numbers and street signs are almost non existant.  Instead of having them on the corner of an intersection, they're usually little blue signs hidden on the side of buildings.  But even if you do find out your on Tietezstraat, were that meets Dakenstraat or Parkstraat is a mystery to me.  After spending a good portion of the day trying to find a building were I could get my internet account activated I determined two things:
  1. Without the internet, I cannot find my way around a city much less a european one.
  2. I needed a some maps and I needed to plan out my routes to and from my place
And this was how my dinner table became a map table and my dinning room became a map room.  Why? Because you can't eat, if you don't know where to buy food.

I must travel from Groot Bejignhoff to mystical place known only as Dakenstraat 2, but how!
With a system of planned routes and the recently reaccuired power of google, I've managed to get a line on everything I need to keep my alive.  That being said I often get lost on the way home.  I get turned around pretty quick whenever I go inside a building.  That being said, so far so good and Leuven has proven to be a pretty awesome little city.  I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Here are some more pictures to take you out:

Every pizza place appears to be proudly Italian.  Some even have maps which point to the specific part of Italy.  I guess you gotta have the credentials

So many building have courtyards.  It seems like your almost always in nice cobblestone courtyard. 

This is above my door.  I have no clue what it means, maybe it involves a saint?  I couldn't tell you.

The street to the right of me.  There is the church I talked about earlier.

More church.  What!? I've never ever seen a building like this before.  The inside is really awesome too.

Angela asked me if there as a subway here.  I said I didn't know, but I figured there had to be one.  Turns out Angela was asking about an underground rail network not a sandwich shop.   Well you can get sandwiches, you cannot ride underground trains. Not that you'd have to.  This city is 2km across.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adventure Log 1 - Travelling to Leuven Belgium

A little while back I got an internship over at the IMEC Institute in Belgium.  There was a lot of work with regards to visas and figuring out flights between then and now, but it has all paid off and now I'm in a small guesthouse room in Leuven Belgium across from a pizza place I may hit up later.

The flight took me accross nothern Canada and over Greenland.  Any time you opened a window, it was super bright out.  It litterally have not seen darkness in over a day.  Between time zones and long flights I've lost over 21 hours(I think).  I haven't slept in quite awhile.  It reminds me of when I first discovered Oblivion (zing).

The first thing that really stuck out was the insane Condor safety video:

I watched the video both times they showed it.  Condor also seems to be running with a Charlie Brown motif.  You can find snoopy on the side of the plane, your coffee cup and the pillow

They fed me on the plane - twice! - which was pretty good.  Near the end they started selling a bunch of duty free stuff - cigarretts mostly - which I thought was kinda strange for a flight.

Airports themselves weren't bad at all.  Even as someone who only speaks english both Frankfurt and Brussels weren't hard to navigate.   Both were pretty big and it took me a fairly long while to get between gates.  The airports themselves had smoking areas which unlike in Canda, appear to be sponsored as opposed to tucked away:

Anyway, so far so good.  I'm not sure what to do now, but I'll think of something.   Work starts on monday, so I have a couple days to sleep, adjust to the time change and explore.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Foxlike: Scenery, a Fancy Camera, Intros and Outros

I added a bunch of little things in the past couple days.

The coolest is a slightly more cinematic camera that can be put at any point in the level.  This works pretty well for any beginning exposition or ending recap.   This can be seen in the first couple screen shots.

Also of note, things don't have to be in space anymore and the sky can be colored and ground can be generated.

The other cool thing is the edition of scenery.  I added some code to allow the drawing of anything you can model.  They don't have much - if any - game logic or collision detection attached to them, but they can work pretty well for beefing up the environment.  Usually they'll be to the side of the level adding ambiance or in a place that doesn't matter too much.

Finally a found a pretty large collection of creative commons music I like as well as a large collection of creative commons character portraits, so those are in there now.  The portraits can be seen in the screens, the music cannot.

Anyway it's very game like now and you can even string levels together one after another.  That's pretty cool in my books.  There is no transition between them or anything, but it works.  Right now the first 'level' loops forever.

The next big thing is to come up with a boss for the first level and a few more enemy types.  Then I can start thinking about asteroids for the obligatory asteroid level.

I'm also ruminating on a potential plot.  Honestly there doesn't need to be one, but it was suggested to me once that the characters literally always talk and I like that idea a fair bit.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Foxlike: Many Changes, One Video, One Release

Kinda neat.  I couldn't record it at speed, so I sped it up using a video editing program. This probably is a bit different than what it's actually like to play.  You can grab it from here: Release

The big things shown off here are:

  • "Particle" effects
  • Improved collision logic
  • Increased collision accuracy on the player ship, The Vendetta
  • Pillars added as deadly obstacles.
  • Speed changes allowed during levels.  The level can crank up the intensity or slow things down.

I hope you like it.


Trigonometry and Why I'm Glad I Learned that Stuff

If you ever decide to go into games and more specifically programming or designing them, you should know that math is a pretty big part of what goes on there.  Specifically trig and linear algebra and how to move between them.  Vector seems to come up a lot, as do angles and all your favourite trig functions: sin cos and tan.

When I added my exhaust particles, I had to write a fair bit of math to get them behaving properly.  Check out what's required to make one particle:

((std::vector *) g->debris)->push_back(new Exhaust(X + width*cos(roll_*M_PI/180.0)- height*sin(yaw_*M_PI/180.0), Y - width*sin(roll_*M_PI/180.0) - height*sin(pitch_*M_PI/180.0), Z+.02, 0.02,-height*sin(yaw_*M_PI/180.0)/2 ,-height*sin(pitch_*M_PI/180.0)/2,-0.005,g,"spark.png", 30));

Sin and cos and a firm understanding of radians vs degrees are used pretty heavily in order to make them both appear in the right place and then move in the right direction. 

 It call comes together to make this:
Math at Work!



Foxlike now has obstacles.  Pillars to be precise.  Why they are in space, I can't really tell you, but getting them in there was relatively quick and painless.

I also implemented some functionality which allows the level to control the speed of the ship.

Twas a good day for development.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Added Some "Particle" Effects

Particle in quotes because I'm pretty sure there are better ways to make this happen. I'm sure full blown particle system would use some textures to great effect, but I kinda wanted to see what I could do with some triangles alone and this was the result:

Now you have an engine trails which looks pretty cool and when you destroy enemies they explode in a cloud of debris.  Some larger enemies will shed debris as you hit them.

Kinda cool. Not sure what the next step is, but it was fun to get back the game for a bit and make it better.  I like it.  There is a beautiful simplicity with only using colored triangles as particles.

It also fits with the old-school motif that I might be going for?


Friday, May 20, 2011

The End of a Journey

Tonight, my friends, I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment, but also a small sadness.   I am filled with a mixture of emotions and it is difficult to put this into words, so here is a picture.

What is depicted there is the end credits of the Throne of Ball and in essence the Baldur's Gate Series.  I started at the first game and took my party through to very end of last expansion.  From level 1 to 37 the same team stuck together and pulled through till then end.  Minsc the berzerker, Mazzy Fenton The halfing with heart, Imeon the happy go lucky turned very troubled Bhaalspawn and Viscinia the drow priestess of a dark god.  Together we actually managed to conquer all: Sarevok, Bodhi, John Irenicus and -spoiler?- Melissan.

and countless dragon

All in all, I could not tell you how long I played these games, but on and off again over the course of years, I've finally managed to bring the series to a close.  Such good games, and they sure as hell don't pull any punches.  Every step was a tooth and nail fight.

Looking back on the series, the best game is clearly the first one.  It's basically an open world D&D rpg with up to 6 players.  Years and years ahead of it's time.  At the same time, I still feel that the entire series is western rpg perfection.  You always feel like your in a wondrously detailed setting and plays fitting tribute to it's roots and background without getting mired in it.  Nothing every feels contrived and I challenge anyone to find a plot hole.  It characters and motivations are believable and the entirety of the series feels like reading a really good book.

You never once feel like you've got a solid grounding either.  You're always on the tip of a wonderful iceberg of exploration.  I once entered a random basement only to discover the tomb of an elemental litch - who happened to have a torso made of gold.  What do you do with a torso made of gold?  I never managed to find out.

I really suggest people play those games if they haven't already.  Especially if you have recently been introduced to Bioware through Dragon Age or Mass Effect.  Dragon Age was a throwback to Baldur's gate, but it does not surpass it.

"Minsc and Boo Stand Ready"


P.S. Save the pantaloons.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Site!

I now have up and running!   This should hopefully provide a solid professional page for me to use in the future.  I'm not sure if I'm going to move this stuff over or not.

Stay tuned?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Build!


Foxlike has a new build.  Which Can be downloaded here: Build

This one is for windows!  I recently moved everything over and here it is.  I've successfully added sound as well as an additional enemy.  All in all, the pieces are coming together.

I changed the control scheme to be more mouse and keyboard like.  I wanted to take advantage of a PC's strength as oppose to emulating a console style control scheme.  You can now move and aim seperately from each other.  The controls are given when you start the game, but they are pretty simple.  wasd to move and click to fire.

The music is currently just a place holder and the song right now was chosen because it was in an ogg vorbis format and had a permissable license.  I also get a kick out of it.  You are in space after all.  I'd really like to get some original music in there instead, but one works with what they have.

Anyway please check it out and get back to me with feedback.  I'd really like your thoughts and ideas about controls and firing.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Foxlike on the move again

I've finally got some time and I've been using some of it keep on cranking out my Starfox Clone which is tentatively named Foxlike.

I've also managed to port it over to windows, so that's pretty cool.  Hopefully I'll be able to post a build sooner or later and people can give it a go.

The "engine" is more or less in the place.  The only things that's not quite working is sound, but I should be able to get it up and running soon.  I'm using OpenAL, so there is a bit of a learning curve there, but so far it seems to be pretty reasonable to work with.  It's also designed for 3D environments, so that's cool.  It appears to take care of all the heavy lifting - and can do things like the Doppler effect.

Anyway, I'm always open to receiving some artistic content to go into the game.  If you feel like you have a n idea, send it my way.  I'm always looking out for some storyline/plot/characters, art, models or music.  If you'd like to get something in this game, let me know.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Socks Make People Sexy's Final Fantasy VI Review

If you haven't played final fantasy VI and are looking for incentive or if you want to know what you missed:

If you have played it, I suggest reading this even more.  Final Fantasy VI was a pretty special game and absolutely the height of the Final Fantasy series.  It's been 17 years and three console generations and has arguably yet to be surpassed.

I also suggest reading the Chrono Cross Review.  Chrono Cross is one the best rated games of all time - but kind of falls short.  It's cool to see what happened with it.  Ludicrous ambition on the part of it's existentialist writer/director made for a pretty cool outcome.  Music is awesome though.

Mostly this Guy
And there is always Trigger.  The greatest game of all time - period.  I'm playing through it again right now and have found some new things that somehow escaped me the previous 35 times.  Which brings me to a small point on replayability.  The best way to make a game re-playable is to make it crazy fun and good so you want to play it over and over and over again.  Easier said than done.

Relatively Obscure Reference

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dragon Age 2: Wayward Son Glitch Workaround

I can confirm this works and I've been playing along happily ever since.  I mentioned it in my last post.
  1. Enable the console.  There are several guides to do this out there.  Most of them can be found here.
  2. Use the command "runscript zz_dae_debug" - this should bring up a menu of options.  You will not to able to see the command as you type it.
  3. Click on Plot Jump -> core/critical path -> investigate -> circle plots  -> wayward son -> more options -> the cave on the wounded coast  
  4. This will set the quest to the wounded coast stage and teleport you to the cave entrance
  5. Head on in and finish the quest.
There is related to the solution posted here, but avoids skipping over any major part of the game.  Ideally this should leave your other quests untouched.   The biggest benefit is you can still finish the quest as planned and make your choices.

Hopefully this works for people.  On a related note, these two posts have gotten me more hits than ever before.  This means the problem must be pretty common, hopefully bioware will put out a fix soon.


I don't see why this wouldn't work for other similar bugs: give it a go and explore the menu.  There also maybe other scripts for various DLC

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dragon Age 2: Wayward Son Quest Glitch + Workaround?

Update: Here is an improved workaround.  It should allow you to complete the quest and not effect the rest of your game.

Or how I learned to stop playing and get some work done.

I recently purchased Dragon Age 2 and was having a pretty good time playing it.  I know some people have some gripes with the game and while some the the choices Bioware made are disappointing, they aren't really deal breakers - at least for me.

Interesting Dichotomy
But unfortunately,  I literally cannot finish one of the main quests required to complete the game.  I'm pretty sure loot-able corpses fall through the floor of the levels after a few seconds - or otherwise disappear.  One of these corpses has a map which I needed to move to the next stage of the quest.  I can no longer get it.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.

 I sent an email off to EA's support and they said that they don't know any way to solve the problem and they suggested I post the glitch on their boards to try and get their attention.

They ended their canned response by saying the glitch may never be fixed.


Games have bugs, all the time.  But they usually aren't show stoppers and even then they're usually fixed.  They must have put DA2 through testing.  How could they not catch a glitch that makes the game unplayable?

Anyway, there may be a workaround using the console - if you're on PC, so I would look into that.

One particular command zz_dae_debug can let you change your state in the plot, but I'm kind of hesitant to use it because I don't want the choices I made to be wiped clean.

Anyway, that's me on Dragon Age 2.  Fun to play - if you can.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Quite Possibly the Best Thing about JRP'S

It's not the style, the plots, the characters, the world or the battle system.

It's the character themes. They'd hit at just the right moment and it would rock so hard.

Here is a couple good ones. It may be hard to understand the context. I seriously suggest playing the games the music comes from to see how it really meshes together. These are chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI related

Of course twas the days of 16 bit, So they didn't really sound quite like this:

but more like this:

They really had the music down.

I think this is kind of missing from western RPGs. I can't really think of one with defined themes for the characters. It would be really cool. Especially since they can do cool stuff with the characters themselves.

When someone bursts in, says something awesome or even charges off, they should have a theme, and that theme should be blaring.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dragon Age II

Could be total crap, I don't know; I'm too busy playing it.

It also contains Gwen Cooper! 10 points to Dragon Age!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wireless Network Security - An Overview

Hi Everyone,

Last Semester I made a pretty comprehensive document detailing the history of Wi-Fi security.  In terms of what was used to secure it and how people broke the encryption.

I thought I'd put it out there as a resource for anyone interested.

Click here to get it [pdf]

It's 11pt font, single spaced, 2 column and adds up to 11 pages: all content..  Probably about 25 pages if I had used a lesser formatting.

I made it for a course and got 100%, so it's probably pretty good.  Everything is cited, so at the very least it's a good starting point.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Video Games and Graphics

I've wanted to write about this for some time, so here goes.

The game industry as been trying to make better and better looking games for some time now (ever).  I don't think this is going to stop.  Ultimately, it may have done more harm than good, and I think in a lot of ways, the end product suffers.

There have been a lot of arguments out there already.  Those have been said, and that's not really what I want to talk about.  I think we've lost a lot of the story telling that comes with substandard graphics.  You heard me right.  Limited graphics brought something to the table gaming has now lost: The use of the minds of the players.

The basis for a psychological horror movie is that your mind fills in the blanks with whatever scares you the most.  This is what worked so well for Paranormal Activity and many more.  You literally never see what's out there.  Your mind does the work.  It finds whatever scariest to you and fills that in.  If there is a sound - whatever made that sound is the worst thing you can imagine. That scares the shit out of you.

But that's not limited to horror movies.  It works in gaming too.  Your mind can fill in what makes that story work for you.  Your mind makes the connection.  This is probably why the silent protagonist was so popular in old school rpgs.  Even something as simple as your character talking can cause a disconnect with your involvement in the story.  Your mind attaches the meaning that works best for your context.

One example is the fallout games:

Old School Fallout

New School Fallout
Fallout 1 and 2 both fill you with a feeling of dread as you walk through the wasteland, I remember feeling haunted by the oppressive ruined world.  In Fallout 3, I liked walking around, but otherwise didn't feel what I did before.  Fallout 3 shows you everything, and that kind of makes it meh.  The atmosphere, the characters, the harsh unforgiving world was all done much better in Fallout 1 and 2.  Why because my brain took what I thought would be terrible about the end of the world and used Fallout as something to both draw out and project those ideas onto.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ode To Ayla

I'd like to say this was a product of being bored on the ferry, but in truth I thought this was a really good idea regardless.  I make no claims to its quality, but I do like it.

Characters they come and go, I've enjoyed a fair sum
But for now, I'd rather just talk about one
From the times prehistoric
Comes a woman, most prolific
With flowing blond hair and clothes made of fur
This cat packs much, much, more bite than pur
Stronger than any man, and respects strong women
Truly the pinnacle of human physical condition
She does not use weapons, for her a fist is fine
For no weapon can do damage: nine-thousand nine-hundred and ninety nine
She was born before the time of magic
but to the core - her triple kick is tragic
Alas she is not just might, but charming, all the quicker
from the two headed snakes she takes a mega elixir
And though it's sometimes easy to miss
she also has a healing kiss
Alas she may not seem the brightest, at that may at times be worrisome
but she's actually quite smart - she just talks in third person
And let's not forget, because this point is not moot
In a contest, she can drink an whole lot of soup
When her people where endangered by the reptites - so radical
She called from the sky, the mighty pterodactyl
And when charged by lightening like some god damn human dynamo
She can beat the shit out of the black Tyranno
And here once again she proves she is stronger than them all
I know of no one else – admittedly indirectly – who can cause a red star to fall
Yes! Strong, fierce, might and morally just
And while I'll only use marle lucca, robo and frog if I must
In Ayla, I place my absolute trust
So when it's the fated hour and it's time
The clock  set for 1999
As long as we have Ayla, everything'll be fine
Because while la may mean fire, and vos may mean big
Ayla owns face
"Ayla fight while alive! Win and live. Lose and die Rule of life. No change rule"
— Ayla

Monday, February 21, 2011

Published! - Mind the Gap! Bridging the Dichotomy of Design and Implementation

Hi Everyone!

I just got word from the 4th International Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science and Engineering.  Aka SECSE 2011 and our paper Mind the Gap! Bridging the Dichotomy of Design and Implementation has been accepted!  Not only that, but our reviews were quite positive!  The best part is that this is one workshop of many which is at ICSE 2011.

Which this year, is in Hawaii!  Woot!  Hopefully this will get me there.  I have another paper in the works for another workshop in Hawaii and hopefully I hear about that one soon in a couple of days.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll be 2 for 2.

This is my first ever publication, which is awesome!  Looks like my academic carrier is off to a reasonable start.  I got to work with some great people and hopefully that will continue.   Everyone has to start somewhere and I apparently have started here.  Today, I had my first ever publication.  I'm also chilling in Portland enjoying great food and hospitality.  Tis a good day.

Thanks to everyone who helped out! Especially Donna and Yvonne!

I am so very excited.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts on Grad School While I Warm Up my Curry

Made curry last night.  It worked out.

This point of my life has been extremely intense.  I've never felt so stressed out, nervous, excited, tired, awake or frightened before.  There have been very few points where I have felt this taxed and rewarded.  There is so much going on. It's hard to describe

Research has been good yet breakneck - though I am in a bit of a lull right now.  We managed to get two papers into conferences in Hawaii!  SECSE and IWMSE 2011 to be more precise .  One is based on my honors project and is pretty much all me.  The other is with a small team of us.  Both are kind of heavy for different reasons.  I think they both turned out pretty well.  I'm first author on mine, so here's hoping!  I had a lot of help from Andrew Brownsword who has awesome insights into performance and optimization.

Teaching is a very interesting experience and continues to be really rewarding.  I'm learning a ton every day.  Maybe someday I'll sort it all out and write some lessons learned, but first I have to figure out what those are.  It's super fun running a CSC lab - especially in 110.  You have a lesson plan, but we also get to add our own spin/creative variation. It's cool when people understand things or get legitimately excited.  Computer science is often pretty boring, but it really doesn't have to be. Making it fun and bringing people over to the dark side is pretty awesome.

In terms of actually coursework, I don't do a whole lot.  I'm in advanced cryptography, which appears to be working out.  It's interesting, but really theoretical, which isn't really what I'm into.

I'm also doing a grad seminar with a focus on being an international researcher.  Every Thursday we go in at 8:30 am and talk to folks in the UK.  That's kind of cool, but I think I need to know more about being a Canadian researcher before I branch out to the rest of the world.

Anyway, that's me for now.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More on Usage Based Billing

Hi Everyone

The CRTC has been asked to reconsider their billing rules. So far the CRTC is digging in its heels and reacting to public pressure with disdain.

We urgently need to send a clear message to CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein that we demand access to an unmetered internet. Enough is enough.

Seriously people, it costs Bell a penny per GB and they want to charge you 2 dollars for it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Usage Based Bandwidth Billing in Canada

Bell: pay more for less every day!

Seriously people, the majority of canadians are going to see their internet bills double because the CRTC approved usage based billing.

It's not over yet though and there are some great sites where you can find out what you can do to combat this.

This is  big deal.  You're reading this over the internet right now!  Soon you might have to pay per site you visit. Youtube will cost you money per video! Playing online multiplayer will be expensive! 

This is bullshit and we need to stand up against this.  Let everyone know that we're not going to take it.


Monday, January 24, 2011

One Thing to Consider when Picking a Research Area

That you can spell the words involved in it.  I'm in parallel programming, and for the longest time I'd have to stop of think for a second every time I typed parallel. 1 'r' and 2 'l's.  It comes up a lot.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Grad School is Camping

Because it's in-tents!

No semester of undergrad can compare to how hectic its been in the last few days.  There has been an absolute ton going on almost all the time.  Getting into the swing of things has been tough and I'm also doing a lot of stuff I've never done before.  Tons of changes.  It is not like getting a bachelors degree at all.

I'm currently only in two courses - so I'm hardly ever in class while I'm on campus.  One of my courses is a "how to do grad school seminar" which may be more challenging than my actual course - which is advanced cryptography.

I'm instructing two labs:  Csc 110 - which should be fun - and Csc 355 - which may be tricky.  I'll also be doing some other related work and perhaps helping write up with one of the 110 assigments.  Still the fact that I could be teaching things to people - some of which are only 2 years behind me - is a little frightening.  Still the best way to learn is to teach right.

I have an office!  It pwns!  If you're ever in ecs and bored you could drop by.  It is theoretically a shared office, but I'm all alone in here so far.  I'm actually typing this in my office right now.  Having an office is awesome - mostly just as a quiet space I have control over.  My office is currently sports a tribble - proving that I do belong here.  I may owe some folks tribbles.

I need to get starting on doing research and defining what my research area is.  Perferably by the 13th which is freakishly soon.

Anyway I now have to run to a meeting about a project with the Hertzburg Institute of Astrophysics.  Life is insane.


Tron: Legacy and Why It Draws My Ire

I could talk about the new tron for awhile. It sucks. It's bad on so many levels.

The special effects are dull, boring, and feel irrelevant. Scenes involving them aren't interesting either. All they really try to do is one up tron and and make it look cooler, bigger and brighter. They somehow manage to fail.

They're also really contrived. Most of the action scenes are in there only because they were in the first movie. He gets put on the game grid, why? Because they thought they could make lightcycles look cooler. Nope.

It's impossible to care about the characters. In the first movie everyone is likeable and believable - and well rounded. You cared about them. In this one, they just feel meh. This is probably also why the action sequences suck. They're more or less the same as the first one, except instead of having 3 characters you cared about, now you have the new young star and 4 random guys - who's faces you never see. They drop like flies. woot.

The plot is ultra contrived. It feels like an afterthought. I suspect they had a checklist of action scenes and required elements: bike scene, hot female lead, young male lead, role for jeff bridges, shiny stuff. Once they had it checked off, then they decided they needed a central thread and they'd be damned if it made sense in any context or was believable in any way.

For instance there is a location that's supposed to be impossible to get to. Heavily gaurded, no direct path, etc, etc, etc. But you can take a train to it - so they can have a scene on a train.

"What on earth were they thinking?" is what I pull away from the entire plot.

They also decided to take some pages out of the matrix sequels books. Honest to god shit like, "We need to find the keymaster, he can get us into anywhere." Woot.

They also seemed to think that audiences wouldn't understand the concept of being inside a computer. They honestly sit down and eat a dinner of sausage and shit at one point. Why would programs need to eat sausage? Where did that come from?

In the first one, everyone was clearly programs. They acted like it to. One guy is a banking program - he isn't programmed to fight. Bizzarly they come off as a hundred times more human than anyone in Tron: Legacy.

Not the biggest problem, but it bothers me that Tron isn't really in the movie. He's in the title, but apparently Bruce Boxleitner isn't a big enough star to warrant more than five minutes of screentime. Sure he's old now, but seriously. It's called Tron. Tron should have been in there.

Basically, I would say that everything that made Tron great has been mercilessly gutted and replaced composite parts designed to be "better". It has none of the character, charm or wonder of the original.

In terms of terrible its probably better than the prequel trilogy and the crystal skull, but it has a lot of the same elements that made those movie spectacular.

Don't go see it.  You have better things to do with your time.


For more reviews (or actual ones) you could go here:
But seriously, your time is better spent elsewhere