Tag Archive for Nothing

A Week of Tweets on 2011-05-15

  • Is it safe? #
  • @Majiesto Finaler Destination. in reply to Majiesto #
  • Rolled out a new feature at work today. Nothing exploded. It was a good day. #
  • Stake Land needs to come to a theater near me. #
  • "That new show.. on HBO.. Musical Chairs." "Game of Thrones?" "That's what I said!" #
  • Is it Friday yet? I want to go to the concert already. #
  • Yesterday my blog had a huge spike in traffic… someone linked to my Urban Dead post on Something Awful. #
  • Internet Explorer 9 is out… you can stop using IE 6 now. Please. I'm begging you. At least go to 7, or 8, or Firefox, or Chrome… #
  • "Be the strange you want to see in the world." #
  • The problem with the heat in Atlanta is that there is no beach to enjoy it on. #
  • Tonight I will be seeing my favorite band in the world. http://j.mp/kYha89 #bte #
  • Exclusive features in a game by platform or by retailer probably make some people happy. None of those people are gamers. #
  • Well, there's a feeling in the air, just like a Friday afternoon. Yeah, you can go there if you want, though it fades too soon. #
  • Squeeeeeeeee…. http://yfrog.com/gy9ahaej #
  • Concert was incredible. It's so much fun watching people do what they love. #
  • It's party time. #

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Participation Level Up

I’ve been going to Dragon*Con for years.  I’ve probably been ten times, my first time being probably in 1993 or 1994.  I’ve missed some years, but I’ve attended more than I’ve missed.  If you have never been to Dragon*Con, I recommend it.

As much as I do love the con, I’ll be the first to admit that if you go with any frequency, certain aspects of it will get… repetitive.  If you are interested in writing and getting published, the writing track has panels that are good to attend where you can listen to published authors talk about how they got published.  Better yet, you can probably ask them yourself.  (Just don’t hand them a manuscript, they aren’t -generally- publishers or editors themselves.)  However, after you’ve been to that panel a few times, unless they add some new and awesome guests you don’t need to attend it again, or at least just not every year.  Go to con enough years and you’ll find that you’ve “seen everything” – which you really haven’t, believe me, just when you think you’ve seen it all at Dragon*Con someone will walk out in a costume or some guest will sign on (Shatner and Nemoy last year!!) and prove that you haven’t – but when you get to feeling that way there are really only too options: coast or step up.

To coast would be to attend every year, go to the parties, visit a few panels, maybe wear a costume and just enjoy the weekend.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  But the other option, to step up, would be to volunteer for staff.  Dragon*Con is a con for fans by fans.  Grim said it pretty well:

Now, here are some major differences between Dragon*Con and “everybody else”…

GenCon is gaming, only gaming, nothing but gaming.  They are the Mac-Daddy gaming convention, and they do gaming very well.  They do not, however, have concerts, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Costuming, or any of the other “3 hotels worth of stuff” that Dragon*Con does.

Penny Arcade Expo, is run for gaming companies, by gaming companies, and caters to an established audience.  If you are a computer or console gamer, this is a great convention.  If, however, you want to have drinks with celebrities, or are not a hardcore gamer.  PAX isn’t for you.

Comic-Con focuses on Sci-Fi and (duh) Comics.  You’ll have a pretty good chance of seeing celebrities there (since it’s located near Los Angeles and New York) and there is a correspondingly large media presence there.

There is only one convention that does “all of the above”.  There’s only one convention that isn’t so hip-deep in advertising and sponsorship dollars that you can save yourself the trouble and just download press-releases all day.  There’s only one convention that boasts 24-hour, round-the-clock, non-stop “stuff to do”.  There’s only one convention that is run by fans, for fans.

That’s us.

And it is with this in mind that I noticed last year I spent about 80% of my time in the MMO Track, so I’ve volunteered and joined the staff.

Recently, Grim wanted the gang to start updating the track blog more, to keep a flow of information to help build and cement a community around the track.  I suggested and volunteered for Saturday Morning Cartoons.  If you know of any good MMO videos, be they music videos, comedy routines, awesome raid take downs, Easter eggs, or anything worth watching, especially if it’s for a game that isn’t WoW (no offence to WoW, but there is just so much for them that finding WoW-stuff is easy… not so much other games), let me know.

Another place I’m involved is in trying to track down guests, or companies that want to send us some swag to give away… if you happen to read my blog and Dragon*Con looks like fun to you and you happen to work in the MMO industry, let me know.

We’re about five months away from Dragon*Con 2010, and I’m more excited about it this year than I’ve ever been.  This is going to be great!

The Station

3979765871_f5e0676fedAs his foot crunched in the gravel between the tracks, Edward stopped and waited.  It had been more than six months since he’d seen another living soul, but he’d run into one of them just a few days before.  He kept his weight steady.  His right palm gripped against the stock of the rifle started to sweat.  He eyed the windows of the building, looking for movement.  Nothing moved.

He quickly took two more crunching steps and stopped again.  Edward was tempted to call out, but voices carried and there was no sense alerting anything that hadn’t already heard his footsteps.  Still nothing moved, so he finished crossing the tracks to the cement walkway.

Everything looked clear and dry.  He carefully leaned the rifle against one of the roof supports and slipped off his shoes.  After tying the laces together, he hung them over his shoulder and picked the rifle back up.  He momentarily juggled it from hand to hand, taking the opportunity to dry his palms on his pants.

The light was beginning to fade and he needed to find a room, preferably without windows and a single door he could lock and barricade, before night fell.  Edward approached the nearest door in sock feet, as silent as he could manage.

It was dark inside.  Electricity had first started failing within days after everything went to hell.  Some places, powered by hydroelectric had managed months of power before their mechanisms began to fail.  The last of Edward’s own working batteries had died out weeks ago, and he hadn’t been able to find any more.  Entering the building took several long minutes as he stepped forward into shadow and then waited for his eyes to adjust.  By the time he was a few feet inside, it wasn’t so dark anymore.

Most of the windows had been boarded up on the inside, which meant that someone had secured it at some point.  But the door had been wide open, so unless that someone had retreated to and was holding up in some deeper room, it wasn’t likely that any living person was inside.

Safety was important, but he didn’t have time to check the whole station.  He made his way down the first hallway and found a supply closet.  It wasn’t big, but he could see a small rectangular shape high up on the far wall he guessed was an air vent, and the wire shelves on the left and right would provide good support for barricading the door.  Opposite his closet was a boarded window, and if he needed he could use the shotgun on his back to blast a way out. He stared into the room for a minute, occasionally looking left and right down the hall in either direction.  Edward shifted his weight to his right foot, then patted his left foot on the floor a couple times.

Nothing moved.

He slipped into the closet, turned and very slowly shut the door.  Carefully he knelt down and placed his rifle on the floor, then unslung his pack from his back.  Reaching in with his left hand he quietly rummaged around for a candle and a lighter.  At this point his flash light was little more than a club, but he’d found a box of fifty disposable lighters long ago and had kept them.

Producing a candle and a lighter, he flicked the lighter to life and lit the candle.  On his left was a shelf of cleaning and janitorial supplies.  Quickly his inventoried it in his head, taking note of there was nothing to eat or drink, but there was a bottle of plain Clorox he could use to clean some water later and number of other chemicals.  There were buckets on the bottom shelf he might make use of tomorrow, and in the corner were three mops he could use to bar the door.  He found a stack of paper cups, possibly for a dispenser next to a drinking fountain somewhere in the station, and took one to use as a candle holder, which he did and set it on the same shelf at chest height.

On the right was a shelf of office supplies.  Some pens, a couple pads of paper, a stapler.  Nothing he could really use.

He looked up and saw the dark rectangle on the wall opposite the door had indeed been an air vent.  There wouldn’t be any heat or air conditioning, but it made him feel better about locking himself in a room if it wasn’t air tight.

Edward grabbed up the mops and wedged them into the wire shelves across the door.  It probably wouldn’t hold long if trouble came, but the noise should wake him up.  With that done, he moved his candle down to a lower shelf, moved his rifle into the corner the mops had occupied, and pulled his sawed off shotgun from his pack and placed it on the shelf with the stapler.

He sat on the floor and leaned against the back wall of the closet, then went searching through his pack for something to eat.  Edward came up with a water bottle still half full and one mostly full that represented the last of his clean water.  He also discovered a granola bar at the bottom, which was a surprise since he thought he’d run out last week.  He unwrapped and ate the bar, as well as a small bag of peanuts, and drank the half full bottle of water.

Less hungry than he had been, Edward blew out the candle and settled on the floor curled in a fetal position.  Using a t-shirt from his pack as a pillow, he closed his eyes and tried not to think too much about tomorrow’s trip in to town for supplies.  For now, he was safe in the station. Still he spent a long hour listening for noises in the night before drifting off into a fitful sleep.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/gali_367/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Urban Dead Greasemonkey

I have been messing around in the world of Greasemonkey lately. If you don’t know what Greasemonkey is, it is an add-on for the FireFox web browser that allows javascripts to run after a page loads. That may not sound special, but you can do some very interesting stuff with it. For example, the main reason I’ve been dabbling is that I use a Greasemonkey script that someone else wrote for Conquer Club that does some map analysis that the creator of the website doesn’t do, like keep track of card set redemption values in escalating games, hover over attack paths on the maps, and more. Nothing game breaking, nothing you couldn’t do by hand yourself, but very nice in that you don’t have to do it by hand. Well, recently an upgrade to the Conquer Club website broke the Greasemonkey script, so I’ve been looking in to fixing it.

But this isn’t about Conquer Club, as I haven’t finished that script yet. This is about Urban Dead.

One of the fastest ways to get experience points in Urban Dead is to use first aid kits to heal people. And the best way to do that is either to start as a doctor, or make sure the first skill you buy is Diagnosis (maybe second, Freerunning is very important). Diagnosis allows you to see the health of each player in the same block as you. Without it, you just have to randomly try to heal people, wasting action points as the game tells you that they are full of health (you don’t lose the first aid kit though, which is nice). Once you have Diagnosis, the next stumbling block is simply seeing who needs healing. In some places with five or ten people around, its easy, but if you go into a mall where you are likely to find in excess of one hundred people per block, it becomes a giant pain in the ass.

To that end, I have begun working on the ProbablyNot’s Urban Dead Goggles script. If you are an Urban Dead player and have Greasemonkey, click this link to install it. Right now, all the script does is change the text color of the hit point count for anyone with 50 or 60 hit points, which likely means they are full of health (people at 50 might have the Body Building skill and be able to go up to 60, but that takes effort or wasting action points to find out), it make the hit points appear black. If the person is not full (if they have anything but 50 or 60) it will leave it the normal white color. So with the script running, all you need to do look for the people with white hit points and heal them.

Very basic, but also, in my opinion, quite helpful. If I think of more things to add, I will.

2007: Day 4

Nothing much ever happens on day 4 of Dragon*Con. Everything is shutting down, people are checking out, it is both hectic and lazy at the same time. I had planned to go to a few of the programming track round ups because I’d like to give my opinion on what they did right and what they did wrong, but of course they pretty much all do those at the same time, so I picked the Apocalypse Rising track to visit… and then never made it there.

I did make another pass through the exhibitor’s hall to view the stuff and make sure I didn’t miss anything I wanted to see. I didn’t really.

Tomorrow, when I’m feeling more energetic, I’ll write an Aftermath post about the con and some views on a few things I intentionally skipped or glossed over.

The Pitfalls of Design

As a gamer, I have often found myself uttering things that begin with “It can’t be that hard to…” followed by something that logically it can’t be that hard to design. For example, in many MMO games, friend lists usually have a hard cap, some games go high to start with while other games begin at 10 or 20. Later on, people will want more friends on their list and will say “It can’t be that hard to increase the size from 10 to 20.” And logically, they are right. In a perfect world, you’d just go into the code where the MaxFriendListSize variable is and change it from 10 to 20, or 50, or 200.

As a programmer, I have often found myself nearly exploding in a fiery ball of hate when a boss or customer says things that begin with “It can’t be that hard to…”, because honestly, if it wasn’t hard, we wouldn’t even be having the conversation we were having for them to be able to say that, I would have just done it. The problem is, that when designing a program, you literally can’t think of everything. You know, yes it wouldn’t be hard at all if there was in fact a MaxFriendListSize variable, but we didn’t think of that when writing the program because that number, 10, was only supposed to appear in one place, however, over time it ended up in 22 modules and one lazy coder even used that number to hack some other part of the program and when we changed it from 10 to 20 on one of our internal test servers the character models all doubled in size… grrr…

Seriously… This is exactly how programming works sometimes. You sit down and design out 500 features of your program, then, 18 months later, you realize that you need feature 501, but the best way to do number 501 involves redesigning 47 other features because 501 needs outputs or to share variables with some of those features, or 501 just kicked off an idea of a much more efficient design template that would make a number of other features work better.

Nothing, and I mean nothing in programming is ever easy. Its like getting to the end of writing a novel and deciding that “well, I don’t think the brother should be the killer, it should be the police officer” and now you have to rewrite half to book to make it all make sense.

The Home Stretch

Yesterday’s home inspection went well. Nothing is wrong with the house that we didn’t already know about and budget for. The lawyers for HUD finally got their act together and the closing is set for next Friday. So in a week I will officially be a homo… err… home owner.

It feels good to finally get through all the mess. The waiting, the preliminary paperwork, the ninja utility work… yeah, the HUD contractors are complete idiots, so we snuck into the house one night and capped all the open water pipes and gas hoses so that we could turn the utilities on for the inspection. If we hadn’t done that I suspect our inspection might have occurred some time in August with us moving in perhaps before 2007.

This whole experience gives me absolutely no confidence in government institutions. Its not just the triple paperwork, but the sincere lack of job pride that these overpaid overbenefitted slackasses possess. I would be hardpressed to find people outside of cushy government jobs who work so little and manage to make it sound like its hard work.

Anyway, one more week and I’m done with them for good.

Nothing to See Here

Seriously… for some reason today my brain is so horribly scattershot that I’ve been staring at my article entry page for a while and haven’t been able to think of anything to write about. I think it may have to do with the mind numbing task I’ve been doing at work… replacing direct table queries with view based queries. Its a web app, with about 200 pages, and every page uses queries. Ugh.

So, allow me to hit you with some random thoughts…

TV Shows: Its May, which means that just about every show is pulling stunt casting and/or running season finales. I happen to watch alot of TV and my biggest concern is my favorite shows are on either UPN or the WB, neither network will exist in the fall. The CW (the combination of UPN and the WB) will be announcing their line-up on May 18th. Most other networks will be doing so around the same time as its Upfronts week. Veronica Mars and Supernatural had better make the cut and show up in the fall.

Comic Books: I’m really itchin’ for volume 5 of the Walking Dead to come out at the end fo the month…

Books: I actually finished my pirate book and started something else, but I’m too scattered to really review the pirate book. I want to read more undead/zombie books, but I don’t own any.

Houses: Who are the people who are buying these $500k+ homes around Atlanta? and how can I get their jobs? I always thought my salary was fairly decent, but unless these people are really overstretching their budgets and plan on defaulting their loans or flipping their houses for resale, I must be wrong and my pay sucks.

Computer Games: I really need to play more games. I miss it. But new games will require a new PC investment. *sigh* I guess I’ll stick with World of Warcraft, and maybe start playing Puzzle Pirates or something…

… and why is it that the guy at the newsstand laughs at me every time I ask him to sell me a winning lottery ticket?

Stomach Flu and You

The only good thing about stomach flu is that it usually lasts only 1 or 2 days, 3 tops. The bad things about stomach flu? One, its contageous, so Jodi had it first, then I got it. Two, you vomit a lot. A lot. Nothing really stays down long, and the longer it stays the more uncomfortable it becomes. Every time you vomit there is actually a euphoric feeling that finally the pressure is gone, or that could be oxygen deprivation since you can’t breath and puke at the same time. Three, dehydration. With all the vomitting, your body runs out of fluids fast, and the only way to get it back is drink a lot, which only serves to give your stomach more ammo to launch into the toilets, sinks and trash cans in your home. And you can’t not drink, because dehydration is bad, not drinking could land you in the hospital.

So there you have, in a nutshell, how I have spent the last twenty-four hours. I think I may be out of the woods as I haven’t thrown up in twelve hours, but I still feel crappy.