UT2004: Winkyboy.com Overhaul Imminent!

>> Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'm going to totally dump the winkyboy.com site and upgrade it to the latest DotNetNuke portal. Sadly, this means all the user accounts will be gone. I can't import them because the jump between v2 and v3 of DNN just won't allow it. (I'll be jumping all the way to v4) There's just so much more that can be done with the newer DNN.

I haven't touched the editor since September, and I still want to finish the last map for the SeaPack before getting into some UT3 stuff. I have bought the game (naturally) but haven't gotten into editing for it, yet. The SeaPack is the last remaining UT2004-related stuff I need to get out the door, and DeepSix really is close to completion.

For what it's worth, the old Winkyboy forum did have some nice hits in the day. I don't have any tracker on the latest incarnation, but it's nice to be able to look back on these numbers:


Rhymes of the months relating to Marriage

>> Monday, December 17, 2007

I've been carrying around this little scrip of paper for most of my life; it's been moving from book to book as a marker and I've always intended to DO something with it - thus, time to DIGITIZE and put it on the web.  It's a clipping from a newspaper, and I'll just post the entire text right here:

Dear Miss Page: Will you please give me the rhymes of the months relating to marriage? It begin, "Marry when the year is new." - SOPHIE

Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind and true.

When February birds to mate,
You may wed, nor dread your fate.

If you wed when March winds blow,
Joy and sorry both you'll know.

Marry in April when you can,
Joy for maiden and for man.

Marry in the month of May,
You will surely rue the day.

Marry when June roses blow,
Over land and sea you'll go.

Those who in July do wed,
Must labor always for their bread.

Whoever wed in August be,
Many a change are sure to see.

Marry in September's shine,
Your living will be rich and fine.

If in October you do marry,
Love will come, but riches tarry.

If you we in bleak November,
only joy will come, remember.

When December's snows fall fast,
Marry, and true love will last.


Programming: Flash: Kerning Dynamic Text Fields

>> Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thanks to Random, I whipped up this function that allows you to set the kerning value of any dynamic text field in actionscript.

function kernText(whichField, kerning)
    whichField.html = true;
    var newFormat:TextFormat = new TextFormat();
    newFormat.letterSpacing = kerning;
    //newFormat.font = "Arial";


Making Facebook more user-friendly

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jumping straight to the goods, after this disclaimer: Use Firefox, it's got the ability to make browsing what it should be.
  • Absolutely use Adblock Plus!
    • This makes ALL of your internet surfing practically AD-FREE. Seriously.
    • Once installed, also make sure to add "http://*facebook.com/beacon/*" (without the quotes) to the blacklist - this denies the tracking by Beacon (even if they do re-enable it. I understand they turned it off after all the hullabaloo) This is adapted from the Idea Beacon blog.
  • Get the Boost plugin for Firefox .
    • Auto-login (read the note for the Toolbar Auto-login!)
    • Quick-zoom rollovers for all Pics
    • Easier (lazy! Yes!) Pokes
    • Download photo albums, stylish/Ajax album view
    • Skins
    • Hide All Ads (It almost works 100% - see Greasemonkey note below)
    • Pop-up notifications for many useful things
    • Side-bar of friends' status changes
  • 8hands – standalone social network unifier
    • Displays update alerts from multiple social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
    • Note that this is alpha state software. I've noticed that it crashes sometimes - not often - and I've seen some other odd quirks here & there, but nothing really horrible. I think the worst is that it's not memory-optimized yet. But it still only takes up 10-20 meg, I think.
  • TwitterSync (Facebook app)
    • Monitors your Twitter status (recommended to set it as Public) and syncs your Facebook status when Twitter changes.


Health: Diet: Found the plateau.

>> Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Being at home all the time, while quite enjoyable, disrupts my ability to regulate when and where - and how much - I eat.  Thus I seem to have found myself once again at a weight loss plateau.  The scales haven't changed for about four days now, even when I swear I've done enough in the day to deliver improvement.  Being that much closer to the exercise machines doesn't seem to help, either. It's all a mental attitude of Just Getting To It. 

I've also noticed that - while still far from "bad" - my diet tends toward the heavier foods when I'm at home.  You see, I really enjoy being able to cook for my family when I get the chance, and when I do so I often stretch for the fancier gourmet menu choices WHICH often include high calorie menu items.  Twice in the past week, I've made scrumptious varieties of chocolate chip cookies.  Twice, I've also made chocolate waffles with a banana ganache for breakfast.  Delicious, but not helping!

Having finished my three most recent health related books, my mind no longer seems *constantly* focused on the greens, either.  This is upsetting.  I'll need to re-read something, or get a new health-conscious book to keep my focus, I think.  That actually reminds me: it's been a handful of years since I read one very important book, Lick the Sugar Habit.  This is one of the first books that really opened my eyes to how awful the American food supply has become, pointing out how sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup) is in practically everything.  Eating sugar with a meal causes the vitamin and mineral content of the food - no matter how good it is - to be drained, essentially because the body prefers to digest the sugars first since they're  easier to work on.  This allows the good food to enter your intestinal tract in a state that's not really ready for digestion.  This is also what causes some allergies; undigested food due to sugar intake.  Okay, yeah.  Time to re-read that one.


Work: Days Off

So I've a few days of PTO saved up and since they don't carry over, I've decided to just take a couple of days off each week.  It's working out fairly well so far, but I think I could be using my time off more efficiently than I am.

I've only gotten a couple of non-work work tasks finished.  The kids do get "in the way" of getting things done but I can't use that as an excuse, I think. I'm sure that if I put my mind to it, I wouldn't wander off track and onto Facebook, for example.  (However, in defense, its really easy to start there while holding the baby since its difficult to use the keyboard, and once started on FB it's hard to stop.)

My parents need something different and better to do for work, too.  Delivering motorhomes is interesting - WAS interesting to begin with, but now they're  finding it wears on them too much.  It's really a job for someone without a family, too, I think.  You're just away from home far too much to lead any sort of regular life.  On top of that, if (God forbid) you should get in an accident - which is statistically more probable once you put yourself on the road in a commercial manner - you're pretty much guaranteed to lose money.  The deductable on these units is set incredibly high, which means your employer is going to be paying out of pocket for most accidents that might happen.  This doesn't sound too bad until you know that you (the driver) have to put down a hefty deposit before driving.  Your employer, then, takes the first part of the deductable from YOUR deposit, naturally, so you're actually the one paying for any "minor" accident.  You wind up losing money even when the accident isn't  your fault, which understandably is very frustrating.


Games: Bioshock vs. System Shock 2

>> Monday, December 03, 2007

Having finished Bioshock some weeks back, I found myself immediately pining for the "good old days" of its predecessor, System Shock 2.  Like a typical fanboy, I found myself complaining about this  beautiful new, highly polished gem that had been delivered to me.  But in seeking to be honest about my gaming analysis, I discovered the need to play "the original" again.  For the fourth time through.

If you want to skip the details and get right to the two cents, I firmly believe the SS2 is better than BIO.  That having been said, here's why: 

I will not even attempt to compare the graphics of the two games; you'd have to be dead not to realize that BIO outshines SS2 in that department as if it were on fire.  The differences in the two systems lie in the gameplay, interface, and as a personal choice, in theme.

A longstanding argument between console and PC games is that the controls of a console will simply never match those of a PC.  Until such day as consoles are delivered with a mouse and keyboard as their primary input device, PCs will forever have the input advantage over consoles.  BIO has, quite clearly, been programmed with a console player as the primary user, and it poisons the game as if a starvng man were fed nothing but honey.  Delicious, but sickening.

Unfortunately I have not actually played the XBOX version of the game, so I can't give a full rundown of all the differences.  The first time it was really obvious to me that there were differences was when I mentioned how sickeningly easy the "hacking game" was.  Anyone who's played th PC version of this knows that the pipe-flow minigame becomes so repetitive that it just ruins the fun of BIO.  My XBOX-playing friend had no idea what I was talking about.  Whereas the PC version of this minigame tops off about two hours into the main game, the XBOX version apparently continues to get more difficult until the finish.  What a pathetic toss to the consoler, making the gameplay dependent on one's physical control being limited.

While I'm talking about the pipe game, this is also a KEY point of difference between the two games.  In BIO, when accessing a panel to hack, the world stops and waits for you to finish your little game so you can give your full concentration to making the pipes connect up.  Even if you have to jump into the air to reach the camera you want to hack, you will freeze in mid-jump while you hack the camera.  You can make a mad dash and stop in front of the barrel of an auto-cannon, but if you press the hack button fast enough, no problem, it'll wait for you to convert it from the dark side.  A real game, like SS2, sends zombie and attack bot after you without cease as the alarm is going off during your pathetic attempts to rewire the it (until you die).  Not only that, but your hacking skill is FELT as you simply try to light up three program nodes in a row.  Hacking is hardly even a "game" in SS2, but it reaches out to you and makes you feel like you're accomplishing something as you do it.

When I reached the final stages of BioShock, I felt there was pretty much nothing else left to accomplish.  Yes, there were a few minor upgrades I could still buy, but there was no point because no enemy even gave me a flicker of worry.  Some of my weapons stayed at full ammo capacity all the way through; it was SO easy that I didn't even need all the methods of attack.  This is poor map design, unless (God forbid) it was intentionally made this easy for the console player.  Compare this to SS2, where you find yourself spending your last credit on ammo even in the final stages of the game.

In SS2 it is clearly evident throughout the game that there are distinct paths you could choose from, and it matters as well.  If you choose to go with the military (weapons) route, you'll  have access to some of the best guns in the game, but you can pretty much forget about tech or psi if you want the best of the heavy artillery.  Even if you choose the military path, you're still not going to get the ability to use the best weapon of every weapon type.  In other words, it matters what you choose because at the end of the game you're going to be playing in a very specific style of your own choosing.

With BIO, they touted the ability to attack enemies with a wide variety of methods, such as lighting an enemy on fire and electrocuting the water when they run to douse their flames.  This is very cool in concept, and I did have it happen once or twice, but in execution it wound up entirely implausible, or impossible, for two reasons.  First, it was just far easier to shoot the enemy dead with a weapon that WOULD kill instantly, and second, it wasn't very easy to tell when there was water or oil sitting around of which to take such advantage.

Finally, theme.  The noir style of BIO is very beautiful, scary, and alluring.  But it just doesn't fit to have "weapons upgrade stations" or "ammo depositories" littered about the city as they were.  I read some justification attempts about this saying something like, "the city had deteriorated to the point where such things would be feasible."  But would they EVER be feasible?  What person or company has time to develop gun and ammunition VENDING MACHINES in the middle of a civil revolt?  It just doesn't fit, and really served as a constant reminder to you that: You're playing a game.  However, of course, in SS2 these kinds of things fit a lot more - the military/sci-fi theme simply lends itself to acquiring new and better weapons as a way of life. 

The "zombies" created from genetic mutation caused by the Many are also far more plausible than the drugged-up non-zombies that wander around BioShock.  Just a note.

That's my rant.  For now.


Family: State of the union

>> Friday, November 16, 2007

In general, our Daughter seems to be fussier than she did before our Son was born, still, becoming upset whenever she is required to to anything.  This may just be part of being a child, of course, but I rather doubt it.

Meanwhile our son's behavior has taken a more active stance lately, and he seems to want to feed practically every hour, which of course is heavy burden on my wife.  I don't know what I can do about it; perhaps there's some book that will shed some light on the subject.

I'm still for all practicality no closer to shoving off and moving the family onto a boat than at any time before, sadly.  However I have been using www.sparkpeople.com To successfully remind myself to keep the goal actively in mind, and I have begun to contact organizations to find out how I might actually learn to sail.  I'm sure a boat is hardly a place for two small children, but I'm equally or more certain that its been done before.

Besides, American society on the average is not really somewhere I long to be - no offense to any of my friends, who I do in fact enjoy being with.  I go into "the public" and, judging books by their covers, I don't see anyone with whom I'd like my children hanging out with - and that goes doubly so for public, private, and church schools.

{started this on the bus - haven't had a chance to completely finish it yet.  More to come...}


Health: Better Eyesight

When I was a child, our parents told my older brother and I that we should eat our carrots because it would improve our vision.  He and I somehow wound up carrying this idea to the extreme view that eating carrots somehow bestowed a magical power to the eyes, going so far as to enable us with night vision.  So that night there we were, two small boys in a dark room, armed with fresh carrots, happily munching away to kickstart our new superpowers.

Yeah, that didn't work.

However carrots HAVE been proven to aid one's eyesight, that much is true as long as you understand that one carrot stick just isn't  going to do the trick.  But try this recipe, from the Encyclopedia, for a delicious vision tonic:

Wash but don't peel two medium carrots (if you can get differing varieties get one each of the Chanteney and Nantes types).  Juice these, and then wash-don't-peel and juice one small beet (eating the greens later).  Blend these together with a half cup of unwhipped cream, half a teaspoon vanilla and half a teaspoon maple syrup.


Health: A grapefruit note

My wife has a habit acquired from her mother or grandmother: When eating a grapefruit she will peel it completely to the point where only the prime, juicy contents of each slice are left for heavenly consumption.  It really is the most delicious way to enjoy a grapefruit, made even better only by chilling the fruit prior to eating.

Prior to our marriage I would only eat grapefruit sliced in half, removing the contents of each slice with a grapefruit spoon.  This method takes a little less time, regardless of whether you use your knife to free the flesh from the bitter skin before diving in with the spoon or not.  On the other hand, it seems a bit messier and a little more wasteful as you're always left with but a little of the flesh stuck inside.

Both of these methods, however, fail to truly capture the benefits of this fruit in their entirety, because grapefruit have a layer of bioflavonoids such as hesperidin and rutin stored within the bitter white rind just under the outer skin.  These bioflavonoids help maintain the body's small blood capillaries, and set the body's "fat thermostat" a little higher, making them especially useful in chemically "burning off" excess stored fat.

A great way to capture these elements is to peel the grapefruit lightly, leaving as much rind on as possible, and sending it through a juicer.


Health: Thyroid Notes

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My mother-in-law takes thyroid medicine and any kind of doctor-prescribed drugs (or any drugs for that matter - they're all the same) makes me sick to think about it.  In a recent juice book that I'm reading, The Encyclopedia of Healing Juices, I've found a few notes about the thyroid:

Extended consumption of cabbage can deplete iodine within the body, which will weaken the thyroid gland.  Kelp can offset this iodine loss.

Cranberry juice may help an underactive thyroid, again because of the iodine levels in the berry.  Don't go buying Cran-whatever juice and expect miracles, though - processed juices usually contain added sugars, are often diluted with water and/or other juices, and have usually been pasteurized, which kills the nutritional value of the juice.

Radishes are amazing in their effects on the thyroid.  They contain a sulfur component called Raphanin that regulates the thyroid gland - it both speeds up and slows down its hormone production.  A *very small* amount of radish juice is well-recommended wherever a thyroid condition is concerned.


Health: Juicing and Exercise

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I started reading another juicing book that (apparently!) we've had in our possession for some time, called the Encyclopedia of Healing Juices, by John Heinerman.  I find it amazing that I've had it for quite some time now and never opened it up before, because despite having the word "encyclopedia" in the title, it's an incredibly interesting book to read.  It steps through a plethora of vegetables and fruits, listing the contents (vitamins & minerals) of each, telling what they're good for - and giving case examples occasionally, and describing how best to prepare each one.  I'm currently testing out the asparagus juice; it's supposed to keep your skin healthy and mine has been too dry for - well, ever since I can remember, regardless of whether or not I drink enough water.  I'm optimistic that it'll help, but then, I'm also ramping up on all other sorts of juicing, so it's not a controlled experiment.  In the future, I DO plan to get a vita-mix; I'm absolutely convinced those are the best blender-type juicers possible - I just haven't gotten one because they're so terribly expensive.  I should just go ahead and buy one as I'm sure I'd be happy with it.  There are some expensive purchases that make me feel really good months and years after I've bought them.  (Like my teapot; it's a zojirushi vacuum boiler/heater thing.  It was about $179 for a TEAPOT but it's been absolutely 100% worth it.)

I haven't done any bodyweight-only exercises for a while.  I did change things up a bit last night, though - my wife had brought down the mini-trampoline and put it in the basement for our daughter.  I remembered reading that bouncing on one of those is actually one of the best cardio exercises you can do, so I grabbed some handweights - some easy 2-pounders - and jumped through a large portion of a movie (Arthur and the Incredibles - thumbs up!).  It really did get the heartrate pumping FAST.  I'll keep this up, definitely. :)


Family: My how they grow! Work: Cookies

>> Monday, November 12, 2007

It seems in general that the Daughter has become fussier since the Son was born.  She whines and cries when it's bed time, she complains when we have to leave the house - and complains when we have to go back home.  It's probably classic toddler reaction to a newborn, but it's so horribly OLD already.

Our son now fills the infant bathtub to a point where he can sit on his own (not that we let him) without falling over.  This is only weeks after his first bath.  If you want numbers, he's at 10.5 lbs, I believe, which is about 3 more than when he was born.  He fits rather nicely into the newborn outfit that was way too big just a couple of weeks ago, too.  No wonder they sleep so much - all that growing just wears them out!

We pushed our cookies application live just the other day.  It's actually just an update from a previous version, but it really does make a significant difference.  Feel free to send cookies around with www.bettycrockercookies.com - it's soft-launch for a few days so perhaps there'll be a bug or two, but it is publicly-accessible.


Stressing Out

>> Friday, November 09, 2007

Well, stress got to me from all sides yesterday.  First off, I'm reading a couple of health books that have really opened my eyes to just how truly bad the food is that we eat, here.  And I'm not talking just Oversize Me here - it's about genetically modified foods, radiated foods, pesticide-laden foods, foods harvested too early and forced to ripen in storage via chemicals... Well, frankly that alone is enough to freak ME out. 

But then I came to the chapters about the medical industry, and how doctors and hospitals really don't exist to make people healthy, but only to treat the symptoms of their diseases.  Thus, they stay sick, continue buying medicines (DRUGS), and eventually die having given far too much money to the "health cartel".  This made me think of all the times I've been to the doctor. Most of the time, they've been USELESS: They use guilt and fear to convince patients they need such-and-such a test, and when the test is run it doesn't really tell the doctor anything they really needed to know. 

For example, ultrasounds.  Our son had two of them, and while I can see a little validation to give one time to prepare if the baby has a birth defect such as Downs Syndrome or a cleft palate, frankly, ultrasounds are POINTLESS and an easy way for the hospital to make a buck.  So what if they tell you how much the baby weighs or how long it is?  If one is a smart person and eats healthily, exercises moderately, and takes quality supplements, the odds of one's baby not being healthy are very low.  I gave in on the second ultrasound, for our son; it was done only about 2.5 weeks before he was born, and I absolutely regret it because it did, like I said, absolutely nothing to help him and everything to remove more money from our wallet.  Yay.

On top of all that, work was hectic-crazy yesterday with bugs popping up in the software, unexpectedly and at the last minute...


Politics: A Response from Norm Coleman on Health Care

>> Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The government of America really upsets me.  If it weren't for the existence of Ron Paul, I'd probably be gone already.  I wrote to Norm Coleman, one of my Senators, complaining about how the federal government should not be involved in managing health care in this country.  This is something that according to the Constitution should be left to each individual state to manage.  The federal level shouldn't enter into the picture at all because it does not deal with inter-state commerce.

I've summarized what his letter says to me, and will post his response in full thereafter.


Thank you for writing to me.  I feel your pain.

Yes, our health care system is screwed up.  The government should do something, but I believe individuals should own and manage their own health insurance.

Government programs are still needed, and through these, we will redistribute wealth from those who have to those who need.  The federal government will be in charge, mandating the states' actions in "fixing" health insurance plans. 

In essence, I am working to put the government in control of all your options, but you can choose from these options.


Thank you for contacting me regarding the rising cost of healthcare in our nation and how it has impacted you and your family. I strongly share your concerns and I agree every American should have access to affordable, quality healthcare.

I believe significant changes are needed to make our health care system work. It is important to recognize that some of the best medical innovations and breakthroughs in the world come out of the US . However, I believe it is unacceptable that nearly 47 million Americans currently lack health insurance and for those who have it, continue to struggle with healthcare costs. I believe the federal government has a role in helping all Americans gain access to affordable, quality health insurance. That said , I believe individuals should own and manage their own health insurance.

Government should continue to care for the neediest through Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs. For the rest of us, government should provide a health insurance tax credit and help folks buy into quality, affordable private health insurance plans - plans you and your family can keep even if your job changes.  The federal government should give tools to states to create a one-stop-shop to help people understand all of their insurance options and make good choices for their families.  States should also be given incentives to reorganize the private insurance market to create efficiencies and make sure no one is turned away.  The goal should be coverage for all without creating another federal government bureaucracy. I am currently working on a proposal to reach this goal

Please know that I am committed to work towards a healthcare system that will be more affordable and accessible to all.

Thank you once again for contacting me. I cannot express how important it is for me to listen to and find solutions for Minnesota families and individuals. I am grateful for your advice and I look forward to hearing from you in the future on this important issue.

Norm Coleman
United States Senate


Ron Paul is the ONLY common sense candidate

>> Thursday, November 01, 2007

Well, I see I missed my reminder to post this last night, but better late than never. I've gotten a couple of replies to my "Do you know who Ron Paul is" question on Facebook -- all NO's, which really surprised me. He's a Republican candidate who is taking the internet by storm. Any time I've watched a conversation between candidates, he is the ONLY one who answers the question asked, and he does it in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner.

ANYWAY, two nights ago he was even on the Tonight Show. You just really have to watch this. I truly CANNOT understand why someone wouldn't like him.

From Wikipedia: Paul claims the most YouTube views of all presidential candidates, over 4.4 million, [147] and the most subscriptions of all candidates, having surpassed Barack Obama on May 20, 2007.


Family: Baby Patterns

>> Monday, October 15, 2007

Things are coming together, pattern-like.  My wife feeds him and then goes to sleep first while I continue to hold him - he stays asleep pretty much as long as he's held.  Then, once either my son is hungry or my wife needs to feed him again (I forgot about that aspect), I bring him upstairs and we begin the sleepless night as usual, putting him in his crib when he's not eating.  We use a pacifier sometimes, too, and that helps, as long as it's the right size; we have some new ones that are just a little bit too big and he spits 'em right out!  heh.


Politics: Stores becoming the new police?

>> Tuesday, September 11, 2007


That is the worst "security check" by a store I've heard of.

As I read these kinds of articles, I've come up with some ideas on "combating" stores that check receipts.

1. Chew the receipt as soon as the clerk hands it to you.  Not enough to make it illegible, but enough to make it so no one else wants to touch it.  This is kind of like licking the last piece of pizza.

2. Bring some packing tape and immediately laminate your receipt.  Hey, so they can't write on it, so what?  Any rules against that?

3. Um, tear it into a few pieces?  Enough that you could tape it back together if you need it.

4. STICKY GLUE on the back of the receipt!  Evil, hidden pre-revenge!  When done, fold the receipt back to back so you don't glue yourself.

5. Note what color marker is being used on the way in, and create a little Rembrandt with your receipt on the way out.


Family: Daughterisms on swimming

>> Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Daughter just loves to swim - although, don't most kids?  Some friends and neighbors of ours have lent our daughter the innertube-swimsuit that their youngest used to use.  It's an older style that looks like a tiny innnertube actually sewn into a child's swimsuit.  We've tried those modern ones that look more like a surfer's suit, but frankly they suck:  If they're too large, they ride up on the child.  With this one, it's difficult for it to actually be too large.

Currently the Daughter is fascinated with "swimming like Ariel" - specifically, swimming with me holding her (not in the tube), jumping out of the water as we move along (imagine a dolphin jumping through the air), and singing Ariel's trademark tune.  When she's not doing that, she's grabbing my nose and "stealing it" (still!) or pretending she's a crocodile.  Jumping from the side of the pool has kind of chilled out a little bit, but she's really INTO having me toss her into the air as far as possible.  It's good exercise for me, but having to catch her just before she hits the water so that she doesn't go under isn't the best thing for the back.

For the first time (this Wednesday) she actively wanted to go underwater, so I held her as she plugged her nose (that is, *whole face*) up and dunked her for a split second.  She grows up so quickly.


Microsoft Word Sucks, part 8000

>> Wednesday, September 05, 2007

As if MS Word didn't suck enough, Microsoft went and changed all sorts of little details that makes it that much worse. I submit for the moment the self-indulgent MS Office logo that has now replaced the "File" menu:


UT2004: So, progress delayed again...

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I haven't been working on any UT2004 stuff for a little while now - mostly, you can blame BioShock for totally sucking me in and MAKING me play it.  Also, however, the family situation at home makes this LAN party a non-probability.  So, I haven't been driven by a deadline either.



Firefox: Plug-ins/Extensions I love

Before installing a lot of Plugins, I recommend FIRST installing MR Tech Local Install and restarting the browser. It will remove the 4-second delay in installing plugins/extensions.

Adblock: (Sweet; I rarely see ads any more. When it's installed you just right-click an ad, say "adblock this image" and put a wildcard * at the root of whatever ad server it's coming from. From then on, all ads from that server never show up.)

Add N Edit Cookies: just what it sounds like.

All-in-One Gestures: use the right-click to make symbols to do crap in Firefox. I really only use this for "Back" "Next" and "Minimize" but it's pretty nice.

All-in-One Sidebar: Me likey. Just get it.  It dumps all your downloads, bookmarks, and add-ons/extensions into the sidebar.  Keeps everything organized.  Plus, it gives a side area to stick buttons into.

CoolIris Previews: Shows you a preview of a site when you hover over a link to it (I've since turned on the feature that only shows the preview when I hold CTRL down as I roll over the link) I also use this to send links to people. I use it more than Google's Send By Gmail ability just because it's faster. I ALSO like CoolIris's ability to highlight a word, right-click it, and choose "CoolIris -> Search Dictionary, Images, Google, or Wikipedia. Nice.

dotCOMplete: You know that shortcut of typing a web address name and hitting CTRL+ENTER to automatically add the "www." and ".com"? Well, with this you can hit CTRL+ENTER 1,2, or 3 times to add the ".com", ".net", or ".org" instead.

DownloadHelper: Lets you save movies from YouTube and similar sites

DownThemAll!: An auto downloader

FoxFilter: Basically a nanny extension; if I try to hit a site with questionable stuff in the description, it asks me if I really want to go there.

Full Screen Homestar Runner . Oh, yeah.

FullerScreen: Just get it & hit F11.

Google Browser Sync

Google Toolbar for Firefox

IE View Lite: Right-click a page or link and request it to be opened in IE.

Image-Show-Hide: Click its button to toggle images on/off

Link Alert: Wow, I've come to just assume this is built in! It (almost always) shows a little icon next to the cursor whenever I point at a link, telling me whether it's off-site, or the type of link ( i.e. PDF, etc.)

MR Tech Local Install: Lots of little details can be tweaked with this.

Save Session: Saves the current tabs & auto-reopens them next time you start your browser. This is somewhat not necessary if you install Google Browser Sync

Tab Clicking Options: Lets you middle-click a tab to close it, or whatever the heck you want to do with tabs. Useful.

ToCyrillic : Transliterates English to Cyrillic: ???? ???????!

Web Developer: Install this one.

Yoono: Bookmark synchonization done RIGHT.  Plus, there's bookmark online sharing/ social bookmarking-suggestion, and an "add to BUZZ" feature that I finally figured out and LOVE.  It lets you create your own Digg-like "what's cool" feed.  There's no "signup" page - just download the extension & restart FF; it'll prompt you to create an account if you don't have one


UT2004: Upcoming LAN party means upcoming progress

>> Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'd like to invite a couple of friends over for one last LAN Party, considering now that Practice Target is home and especially since Winkyboy 2.0 is soon to be launched.  The time is right, y'know?

Thus, I intend at the very least to have ONS-SEA-DeepSix ready by September 10th or so.  Three weeks, thereabouts.  I doubt that I'll have the SeaBass ready by then, if ever, but we'll just see.  I might release it in an alpha state with simple speed and damage modifications to the sub and torpedoes.  At least that way it will get out in the world and not be mired to my hard drive.


Thoughts: We gotta get out of this place

I really wish I lived in the Land of the Free.  I mean, I live in America, but we are really just slaves here ourselves - we just don't know or admit it.

I have a house for which I am a debt slave as long as I will ever live there.  It's easily the best house I've ever lived in and I will not-so-humbly admit that it's a fine house indeed. But like all those fancy cars that "rich folk" drive - well, at least the vast majority of them - I own this house as muc as they own their cars.  It is to admit that the bank which truly owns such things and we are but renters of the property.

I'd like to leave, but getting out of here seems difficult and intimidating. I'm currently favoring the dream of living on a sailboat, preferably one with a solar-powered motor for emergencies.  I don't suppose that solar power has quite reached the commercial stage of being able to power a boat motor, but I wish to be free of commerce and free of boundaries.

I suppose the first order of business however is to learn to sail. That will be difficult enough as I don't even know where to begin with that, either.  But it is a stepping stone on the path.

I dream about this because I imagine how delightful a life could be if my only responsibility would be to find fish enough for the family to eat for the day, much the like Mexican fisherman from the story in the Four Hour Work Week.  That story stands out quite well in my memory.  The basic point of it is that a vacationing businessman observes a fisherman in his work and suggests he embark on a corporate path to build a fishing company that would finance a life in which he could retire... to fish at his leisure.

More later.  Bus has arrived.


Family: Enough with the Nose :)

So, the "I've got your nose" game continues to this day in full force at the same fun level for the Daughter.  Not so, for me, but at least she's happy.  In addition to just swallowing the captured nose,she also goes for the ears, and as I assume inspired by the Little Mermaid, the voice as well.  That's fairly creative of her.

There is also a bevy of new things to do with said captured body parts; she finds particular glee in squishing them, grinding them, and hiding them in some new place where "I'll never find them again."

Most of the time these escapades simply boil down to a tickle session for her, which I believe is what keeps them going so strongly.


Games: Hilarity ensues for the Special Forces

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just now while playing TacticalOps 2.2 over our lunch hour, playing on the custom map I built that mirrors our current offices, SPAM was following me as I shot the window out and jumped up on the ledge, prepping myself to make the diagonal jump to the window-washer waiting one floor below and one office over.  SPAM, obviously, thought we were in the office DIRECTLY above the window-washer and followed through without stopping on the ledge like I did.

The most hilarious thing I've seen in months, I couldn't stop laughing even when Mr. Clutch came and riddled me full of bullets from behind.  Could NOT. STOP. LAUGHING.

Good times.


Family: Friends: Long time no see

>> Monday, August 20, 2007

This past, wet weekend (it is STILL wet this Monday morning), the wife, daughter, and I met with a dear friend from my high school days.  We hadn't seen her for almost three years  - it's amazing how time really passes us right by. My friend is now headed off to Japan for a years' worth of work, so we won't be seeing her again for a while.  With all luck, we'll be able to see her again before she comes back, but money and babysitters will determine whether or not we can actually travel there or not.

S, I seriously will miss you; I've always found our chats so valuable to me.  Have fun in Japan!


Programming: unrecognized tag prefix or device filter asp

>> Friday, August 17, 2007

Stupid Visual Studio somehow reset my options today, causing great havoc and not allowing me to build.  It'd be nice if it gave me some kind of warning because I forget how to fix it in between the times that it goes through this bug.  To fix it, I changed my HTML Validation.  Choose Tools -> Options -> Text Editor -> HTML -> Validation, and change the Target to Internet Explorer 6.0

Stupid Visual Studio.


Family: Daughterisms

>> Tuesday, August 14, 2007

She can turn a stack of blank CDs into a cake with her imagination.  She invents words, like paGULPat (it's an invented Russian word) based on the sound of what she wants to do. She likes to wear band-aids but not when she has an owie. She loves to pose with one leg stuck out like a ballerina. She absolutely loves to have bows in her hair and fusses when we take them out. She hates to sleep under a blanket and will kick one off in moments.


Friends: visitors from Canada

>> Monday, August 13, 2007

This past weekend really just flew right by. We had some house guests from Canada whom we haven't seen since before the daughter was born. They also have a little girl of almost exactly the same age as ours. Thus, besides the standard bickering to be expected of toddlers, the little girls had a wonderful time playing together.

The family has changed a little bit since we last saw them; the wife speaks much better English as a result of working every day with English-speaking customers at a salon, and the son has definitely made improvements for the better.  I recall that he used to seem a spoiled little brat, but now he's polite and sensible.  Bravo to the change.  I suspect it's probably the presence of his sister that has really turned him into such a nice young man; sibling rivalry, despite the age difference in this particular pair and despite the inevitable conflicts that will always arise, has a tendency to refine one's character for the better.

We went swimming more times than even our usual, which is to be expected when there are two toddlers present.  I always hate the preparation for going to the pool, but I always feel good for having gone swimming so I have to thank the little ones.  My daughter is still extremely STUCK on the Got-Your-Nose game, and now she's inventing all sorts of things to do with the stolen nose  besides just eating it. Apparently the key to the fun is just to get papa to (playfully) say NO! She can spend the entire time we swim doing this.


Movie: Stardust

The younger brother and his wife took us out to see a sneak preview of Stardust last Thursday, having won some tickets from the major radio station in town.  Apparently the time to win such call-in contests is at 2AM while you're canning  vegetables.

I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, and I have to say that I wish I could watch more movies under such circumstances but with the invasiveness of today's media, that's right near impossible.

It was an awesome and hilarious surprise, as long as you count out the gay pirate.  (A political disclaimer: I find nothing funny about homosexuals, considering what it is that defines them as such, and believe that comedy can be had equally or more funny while less uncomfortable without such characters written into the story.  I'm not on a witch-hunt, mind you, but I cannot write a review of this movie without the very least of saying my opinion.)  While slightly predictable in that you're sure the lead characters will hook up in the end, it was endowed with such a drive and surrounded with a self-aware humor that one couldn't  help but laugh. 

The attention to detail really struck me, too.  You can tell that they really spent time to polish this one up.  :)


Unreal: Little UT2004 progress this weekend

>> Monday, July 30, 2007

Hasn't been much progress in the UT2004 development (SeaPack, LawDogs, etc) this weekend because I was distracted with other things.  A friend of mine was in Target the other day and found two Wiis on the shelf, so knowing that I wanted one he picked it up and I paid him back.  I've got some other friends from whom I can borrow a couple of choice titles, and then there's the 1-per-month free coupon from Blockbuster that I can use for a game rental.  So, things are lined up for some Nintendo fun for a while here.

I actually want to use it to try out the Wii Workout concept.  I love the idea of exercising with game machines.  I'll start - tonight - posting results to the blog under the Wiicize: category.

Another thing that's distracting me is the Tactical Ops (Tacops) 2.20 map I'm working on. See, we play that version of TacOps while at work because it's the only game we have that both Macs and PCs can use (there's an additional limitation of some PCs not being good-enough quality to run more modern games).  This is just fine by me; I love the UT99 engine *and* I've got a few maps already created for it that never really got enough gameplay.  And, since we're playing it all together, the guys at the office have demanded someone - either Gigglepuss or myself - create our current office in-game for us to shoot up.  I've already got about 2/5 of the intended layout created, and about half of that is nicely decorated. It'll take me another week or so to finish it up, and I might try to convert some of my other maps to Tacops (since it's really so EASY), but after that the distraction will be gone and it's back to the SeaPack.


Family: Putting the toddler to bed

Wow.  You miss their "window of tiredness" by even a few minutes and bedtime goes from minor complaints to screaming fits.  We put the daughter to bed at 9pm on Saturday night and 8pm on Sunday - Saturday she screamed the whole while I brushed her teeth, and on Sunday she complained for a moment but then was fully ready to jump in her PJ's and listen to the princess story about her.

She also insists on listening to her brother's heartbeat every night on the microphone-headset system that we have.  It's still pretty hard to hear the heartbeat because it IS just a public/commercial- quality headset (as opposed to medical-quality).  But it's nice to have.  She asks what her brother is doing almost every night when she goes to sleep and I tell her that he's probably brushing his teeth, too.  :)

On another topic, the daughter is in one of those stages where, if she gets her clothes even the slightest bit dirty or wet, she needs to make an entire wardrobe change. What's with that?  Her cousin does it, too.  Is this a characteristic of all toddlers?  A phase they all go through?  Strange.


UT2004: New SeaPack Logo

>> Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just something I whipped up... I like it much better than the half-job I did for SterlingSea


UT2004: SeaPack .plan

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2007

These are some of the things I need to complete before I can release another SeaPack version:

  • Slow down or stop the rising of the submarines upon exit
  • SeaBass: finish "URCHiN" mines (like swimming, powerful spidermines)
  • SeaBass: redo collision
  • SeaBass: finish skin
  • DeepSix: Find out why Xilver's torpedo turrets aren't working.
  • SeaBass: create smokescreen alternate weapon
  • DeepSix: Add decorations & emitters ( i.e. underwater volcano)
  • DeepSix: Create/model pieces for main- and final- bases
  • (attempt to) fix weapon sights for Shortfin, Kraken, etc.
  • loosen up the Shortfin's vertical firing limits
  • Add strafing to all vehicles.  It's not as realistic, but it'll be more fun - and necessary for tight maneuvers
Anyway, lots to do on it yet, but when it's done it'll be that much better!


Family: Whaat?

Did I mention this, yet?  I love it when my daughter (apparently echoing me) replies to a question or statement with her little almost-screech-like "Whaaat?!"  And she does it about three times in a row.  It's more exaggerated than I ever did it, so it makes me laugh or smile every single time.

She is the most imaginative little girl, too - every single playground comes complete with some kind of vehicle - boat, car, whatever - with which we use to drive somewhere - usually to California.  Now she's telling us to "buckle up!" every time we get in the "car" and she turns on the "radio" as we're driving.  Oh, and there's also a fully-stocked kitchen in every playground, too, and our little girl is a master chef, cooking everything from spaghetti and hot dogs to borscht.


UT2004: SeaBass Notes

>> Thursday, July 19, 2007

Most of the work I put in last night on the SeaBass was to iron out the UV map on the main hull.  I didn't actually get around to painting much on it, except for some stripes and a couple of engine-type decals, but the main hull is nicely mapped out, now!  I'm experiencing some ISSUES with it actually in the game.  I took the previous photos while a bot was in the sub, and I thought it wasn't moving just because the bot wasn't moving it, but apparently it doesn't move AT ALL. 

Also, when I import the animations into UnrealEd, I'm finding a weird "won't save" bug that I think is caused by the fact that I have my UT2004 synched through FolderShare between a couple of computers.  Apparently, and I've found this happens with the user.ini file when change play preferences as well, the last-updated date doesn't change when UT2004 edits the INI file - or in the case of UnrealEd, the UKX file.  So, it saves an empty UKX file pretty much all the time.  I'm as of yet not phased by this because I really think it is just FolderShare screwing with me.  I'll just turn it off, next time.

Once I can actually import the skeleton properly - so that it matches the Shortfin, which I'm subclassing, then I think things'll start working correctly.


Family: PROVE IT

Here's the cute saying of the moment.  My daughter has adopted a phrase from her book about Arthur teaching his sister, DW, to read (or, learning that she can already read).  Now, when you say most anything to her, she replies with, "Prove it!"  Even more endearingly, when I reply to her, "No, you prove it," she changes her instructive-tone into a nice, friendly response, "Okay, I'll prove it to you."  Books are good.


UT2004: ONS-DeepSix screenshots

>> Monday, July 16, 2007

Here are some early screenshots of ONS-DeepSix (working title), including the first ridiculous in-game photos of the SeaBass (yes, it is ill-tempered ;)


UT2004: SeaBass WIP photos

So, another one of the things I'm working on is expanding the UTNavy (aka UT2004Navy, UT2006Navy, wbNavy). I've got a map in progress that is really exciting; it's tenatively titled ONS-SEA-DeepSix and is an all-submarine Onslaught map that takes place in amongst giant underwater caverns. It's been built off of ONS-Ascendancy - I won't try to hide that and it will probably retain the same node layout, although perhaps with different linkups. However, it already looks significantly different. I've got permission to use resources from AS-Abyss-Lite and CTF-CBP2-Deep, which are excellent underwater maps by SpoonDog, so the theme should pull off quite easily.

Another way I'm looking to expand the SeaPack is by creating at least one all-new submarine! Check it out; here are some WIP photos for you. I haven't decided yet on its stats like health, speed, damage, etc. but I am sure of what I want it to do. It'll seat two and have a primary, forward facing turret for the passenger to shoot - probably some kind of charged harpoon-style weapon.

The driver will have control over the rear-launching URCHiN mine launcher (Underwater Robotic Complex-Homing Nuclear). I'm going to base these off of the spider mine and they'll hang in place like a web until an enemy approaches, whereupon they'll start homing in on them.

I seriously hope I'm building this one right... heh :P


Family: weekend catch-up

Just a quick spot to recap the weekend, which turned out nicely pleasurable in that I got some good daughter-time in again.  Saturday night the lil' tyke went to sleep at 11:30 because she had been napping until 8:30... and she was a tiny grizzly about the whole thing, too.  I hate when her sleep schedule gets off...

Winkyboy 2.0 is kickin' his mama's tummy something fierce.  Must be practicing some stompin' for the upcoming LAN party. :)

We went to some Russian friends' house on Sunday; they had a small get-together because a couple of their family became US citizens just recently.  It was nice to see them, but like usual I can't follow along that long in an all-Russian environment.  I just get sleepy when trying to listen in for so long!  But instead I played with Winkygirl outside on the trampoline, and kicking the ball around the yard.  She just loves when her papa plays or reads with her :)  But oh, I shouldn't have shown her that "I've got your nose!" spiel... I think any parent might be able to relate.


LawDogs: LCF-RattlesnakeBend

>> Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rattlesnake Bend is a map that always seems to be lagging behind the mod's official release date, even though it's one of the more exceptional maps for its mod (in my humble opinion). It brings water into play in an essential manner; not only does your team have to cross the river, but the fighting takes place on, in, and above it. Both bases seem to have significant advantages over the other, creating a kind of uneven balance overall.

A new boat, the canoe, is introduced into the play with this map, essentially turning this into a VCTF board and are the tools for dominating the waterways. Each side has access to two canoes; the Outlaws have one equidistant to each "exit" of their base, and the Marshalls' canoes are off to one side so that one is close while the other is far. This slight speed advantage is because the Outlaws' base is really limited to two significant entrances.

The Outlaw base has direct and almost exclusive access to two and a half sniping positions on the "mountain" but these are balanced by the Marshall's quick-access or heavy-cover sniping spots that face these. Each side also has a semi-stationary Gatling gun on the upstream side of their flag run for increasing cover while your teammates return the flag. As of this writing there is no current in the water, but this is planned for a future release.


UT2004: RattlesnakeBend for LawDogs and the wbCanoe - First Releases

Here's a little something that I've been working on for about two years now! Well, actually it's been sitting on my hard drive somewhere for about 23 months, and I've just recently picked them up again and dusted them off.

RattlesnakeBend is a remake of my final Badlands map (that missed the final cut for the last, complete upgrade for that mod, so I don't know if many people ever played it). The UT2004 version ups the scale of the map and tweaks a few points for style, the primary upgrade being the addition of my first-ever vehicle, the massively-impressive ;) canoe!

As it is, I know the map is very unbalanced and in my opinion the Outlaws side has a bit of an advantage... but then, they're also at a disadvantage if you look at it. I dunno - you tell me.

Naturally, like almost all of my releases I'm doing this when I should instead be fast, fast asleep, so please forgive me if I'm missing a file. I totally haven't tested this on a clean install, so I certainly could have missed something.

Download RattlesnakeBend for LawDogs
Download the wbCanoe



UT2004: The Canoe!

>> Thursday, July 05, 2007


This is so cool. I've got a canoe IN GAME. It's probably one of the most basic vehicles you could imagine, and it's using a default texture while based completely on CMAN's Viper code, and it has no weapons(!), but it works. Well, it needs a little tweaking as you can tell from the pictures - I have no clue why the driver is floating three feet above, plus I need to export it as a staticmesh so I can see the factory in the editor, but other than that, it does what a canoe should. And for that, I am a Happy Winkyboy.


Bible: Why God "lets it happen"

>> Saturday, June 23, 2007

People observe what goes on in the world, what goes on in America, and if they're of Christian persuasion they soon arrive at the question as to why YHWH would allow such horrible things to go on in the world. Namely, we see atrocities such as the 9/11 attacks, widespread school shootings, and all other sorts of crazy things. This is a question that is easy to answer, but the answer is simply one that is difficult to accept. It might be easier to understand if taken from a different perspective, however.

We as Christians are fairly knowledgeable that our God has the power to affect countries whichever way He pleases. It should go without arguing that He has the power to do whatever He pleases in any situation. We also readily accept that YHWH may very well punish some other heathen peoples for not observing His ways; He has done it all so many times throughout history and it makes perfect sense. Knowing this, would you move your family to one of these countries and expect YHWH to change that country just for you? Although it may be argued that as YHWH has watched over single families, even indeed specific individuals, in the midst of an ungodly nation, you would NOT purposefully tempt YHWH by knowingly placing your family in a troubled land.

On the other hand, what if that country moves to you? It's not as strange as it sounds; it is not the physical location of the country which YHWH is angered by, but the actions of the people who live within it. And in that light, if there were massive waves of immigration from a heathen country to a godly one, it can only be expected that the blessings or curses for the country will parallel the actions of the population. Would that the immigrants converted to the ways of the Godly, but sadly and more often it is the other way around.

As is and has been the case for America. The priests and rulers, and yes even the average family in America have long been following the ungodly, rather than the other way around. And it looks like there's no stopping it. The most cursory glance at the headlines today shows the following news:

In the article, "NYC Has Reason to Celebrate Gay Pride," on Yahoo.com we find the quote: "We are now more sure than ever that New York will do the equal and just thing," said Cathy Marino-Thomas, co-executive director of Marriage Equality New York, a group that promotes legalizing gay marriage.

The media is also pushing articles about the election, saying that even though Hillary Clinton (as she is now changing her name) is the most disliked candidate, she's also the most likely to win. This is insanity for Christians because she is easily one of the most anti-Christian candidates possible.


But this is the way it has been. When a country turns against YHWH, it becomes a vicious circle, and evil leaders take over thus driving the country further away. It's as if on the whole, a country has to be driven to destruction before it will return to Him.

In Nehemiah 9:34-37 we see a similar historical account: 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways. 36 "But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.

The reasons for this distress are shown in Judges 3:4 4 They [the tyrannical rulers] were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses.

It's all very simple, but people don't want to accept it because they believe they are not part of the problem. It's not an easy thing to accept, but we must realize our errors and turn to Him whenever possible.


UT2004: Stretching long unused muscles...

>> Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It was the tiniest edit, but I actually got the UDE open and made a successful tweak to the SeaPack code, now! Awww, yeah. That's so good. I'm in the middle of a three-day conference (Flashbelt) so I'm away from the computer for the most part, lately, but I'm planning on getting back into the editing mode as I have time. And it seems to be happening more often because I've just got the editing bug again, I guess!

I also found a SCUBA gear that someone made, for AS-Abyss-Lite, an incredibly amazing assault map that I'm shocked and surprised that I missed. I'll have to contact the creator to see if I can include it - or at least parts of it which might make more sense(?) - in the SeaPack.

I want to create this SeaDoo Explorer as a main tool in playing any SeaPack level, because it really sucks to jump out of an exploding vehicle and find yourself floating in the middle of an ocean. More oft than not I just suicide and start over.

We had a LAN party this past weekend with 6-7 players attending. Gigglepuss tried to jump in online, but whether his kids got in the way or he just didn't have the right files, he kept bailing out. But overall it was pretty fun. We played a good lot of the SeaPack maps and my modified version of Xilver's BeachFront map was a solid favorite. It's such a nice, simple design - but his Fodder weapon really brought out the laughs. Quite a useful weapon, that! One of the edits that I did was to add a Dragonfly bomber to the arsenal, and it's essential once the other team starts flooding their beach with defenders.


Family: One for the books - jumping into the pool

>> Friday, June 15, 2007

This is two days ago now, but the Daughter just started jumping from the side of the pool into my arms. :)  Previously she would only do so if she was actually holding on to my hands to begin with.  A little more independence for her!  Of course, guess what she wants to do now, every time we go swimming... the whole time we're there...?  :P


UT2004: Mapping results

>> Monday, June 11, 2007

So I'm making more maps for the SeaPack :)  Frustratingly, I still can't get the bots to play moderately well. I hope UT3 is easier to code the AI.  And a disclaimer: These new maps are still pirate edits of others' maps, so either I can't release them or have to wait for permission.  I think the edits I'm making should be positively received, so cross your fingers.

I've gotten Xilver's map to a much nicer place, I think.  I threw in more vehicles, and so cover on the beach and at sea, so that's cool.  I've also noticed VCTF-BeforeTheStorm by MastaKilla and I think it'd make a fun SeaPack map.  It's also got a new kind of jet embedded in the map!  The jet is overpowered, so I'll see about tweaking it down, some, but otherwise I just need to add ocean space for the sea vehicles, raise the between-island bridges a little bit, and maybe throw some identifier landmarks. (The map feels a bit easy to get confused in, considering that nearly all the terrain looks the same.)

I like this tweaking-other-maps strategy because it quickly inflates the maplist...  I've got a couple of really good ideas of my own, but finding the time is always the hard part, especially considering that I've got more important things that I NEED to be doing.


Family: Offspring Anecdotes

My daughter has taken to saying, "Ee ee" for things.  No idea where this came from, and she doesn't do it all the time, but when locks in the mood, it's her favorite game.  You ask her a question, and "ee ee" is all you get in return, eveb when she very well does know the words to say.

Thinking about vocabulary, we were also reading a Russian vocabulary  book together, and I was so proud to see her flying through the pictures, identifying almost everything in both languages.  I keep telling everyone that she can speak both Russian and English equally, fearing that because we do speak often in Russian in our house that it might not be so, but it's quite a relief to see her really quite bilingual.  Amazingly intelligent.

We also found out this past week that the next little person joining our family will be a boy - so it turns out that Winkyboy 2.0 is on his way :) Now, this is really jumping the topic track a bit, or maybe it isn't  - whatever.  In raising a son, I have this strange worry that he's  going to be interested in sports.  Do sports-loving fathers worry their sons WON'T grow to love THEIR hobby?  I find sports, on the average, insulting to my intelligence.  Sure, good for the body if you aren't  breaking any bones, but intelligently lacking nonetheless.  I mean, it's the same thing over and over, almost exactly.  How can that be interesting?  But I suppose that's years off and up to himk, isn't  it?  Time will tell.


UT2004: Dusting off the editor

>> Monday, June 04, 2007

It feels good to stretch those muscles as I did this weekend.  I pulled up the editor and started tweaking a VCTF map that Xilver had created.  I don't know if he ever released it so I'll have to get in touch with him before I could possibly make it public, but besides adding a couple of vehicles from the SeaPack and adding the -SEA- prefix, the only thing I'm really trying to do is get the bots to work a little better.  Lord, but I hope the AI is more easily implemented in UT3.  It's every-so-frustrating to see them do their vehicle "jump" antics without end.  So far, all I've managed to do is make it so that the blue team gets over to the red side, and disabled the opposite.  yay.  (But, I think I know how to fix it.)

Anyway, what I'd like to do is get the SeaPack in a nice, installable state so that people could actually use it.  It's such a shame to have all these things sitting on my hard drive when people could be having fun with them.  It's sad, how this happens to great games; a lot of the best maps, mutators, and mods get born just as the game is shelved for new arrivals.


Family: The Daughter's cuteness

We got a lot of daughter-time in this weekend; whether it was swimming in the neighborhood pool (which was kept amazingly warm - apparently last summer they didn't have the heaters running hardly at all) or playing with her at a park, she kept us busy.  I absolutely love it how she takes "ownership" of the playground and invites us into her kitchen so she can cook spaghetti for us, or she retires to her bedroom to take a nap.  Amazingly cute.

We had a near-horrible tumble at the roadside park, though; an old-style "safety" swing (one with a hard back and a chain for keeping the child in) tipped as she leaned forward while swinging back and she wound up upside-down and screaming/crying.  Fortunately there were no bruises, but it was enough to send us home immediately.


UT2004: SeaPack Revival

>> Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I've been feeling terrible for a couple of days because I realized that my most recent edits (albeit "recent" is not an accurate term in this case) for the SeaPack appeared to be missing... gone, due to laziness or some horrible mishap.  However, I found the source code and most-recent version, and have distilled the essential files into a single pack that can be installed on a fresh UT2004 without error.  I went to sleep happy, last night.

I'll start tweaking things again - especially if I hear from people that there's still some kind of interest in this - and have an available download sometime soon.  I'll be putting it in The Box for downloading, FYI.


This is really KEY to a simpler life.

>> Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From The Four Hour Work Week, "It is impossible to realize how distracting all the crap is -- whether porcelain dolls, sports cars, or ragged T-Shirts -- until you get rid of it."

Here's to that.  Right offhand I can think of TOO MANY things I own that I could easily get rid of.


Family: Two Firsts!

>> Saturday, May 26, 2007

Well, not exactly TWO firsts, technically a second.  So, last night, the daughter actually washed her own hair, with shampoo, and nary a single tear.  This morning, she made it to the morning with a dry diaper and used the toilet all by herself.  (The latter is the second occurrence; over a year ago, she had already used it, once, totally on purpose - but for some reason she never wanted to use it again until now.


Bible Motivation, 4-Hour Work Week

>> Saturday, May 12, 2007

This is really a draft:

4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, p 51
Most people will never know what they want.  I don't know what I want.  If you ask me what I want to do in the next five months for language learning, on the other hand, I do know.  It's a matter of specificity. "What do you want?" is too imprecise to produce a meaningful and actionable answer. Forget about it.

"What are your goals?" is similarly fated for confusion and guesswork.  To rephrase the question,  we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Let's assume we have 10 goals and we achieve them - what is the desired outcome that makes all the effort worthwhile?  The most common response is what I also would have suggested five years ago: happiness.  I no longer believe this is a good answer. Happiness can be bought with a bottle of wine and has become ambiguous through overuse.  There is more a precise alternative that reflects what I believe the actual objective is.

Bear with me. What is the opposite of happiness? Sadness? No. Just as love and hate are two sides of the same coin, so are happiness and sadness. Crying out of happiness is a perfect illustration of this. The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is - here's the clincher - boredom.

Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.  When people suggest you follow your "passion" or your "bliss," I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement.

This brings us full circle.  The question isn't, "What do I want?" or "What are my goals?" but "What would excite me?"


Timothy, like many an inspirational author, emphasizes that you have to overcome your fears to begin your journey toward personal satisfaction in life.  The Bible says this, too, but it makes it even more clear and easy.  It says to rely on the Lord and casts your worries to Him.  This is easier because while self-help authors tell you that you can just "get over" being afraid, the Bible tells us that the Lord is waiting to actually TAKE your fears from you.


Matthew 6:25-34 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

Do Not Worry
 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[a]?

 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It's all well and good to read through this and tell yourself to really give your fears to God, but it DOES help a bit to have an example.  Not to be outdone by the modern motivational author, the Bible is already there with one.


Job 1

 12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
      Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

 13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

 17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

 18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
       "Naked I came from my mother's womb,
       and naked I will depart. [c]
       The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
       may the name of the LORD be praised."

 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
 No one wants to face such a drastic example as Job did, of course.  And truly, nowadays people on average don't even have to think about the possibility of such a thing, for which we can thank God.  But instead of disaster and disease, we are quite often faced with more insidious attacks against our lives, which goes so far as to affect our relationship with God:  We risk the apathy that is cultivated by the unfulfilled life.

  Taking another page from the 4-Hour Work Week gives a story about Hans Keeling.  He was twenty feet from the cliff edge, running full tilt towards it.  His sneakers gripped firmly on the jagged rock, and he drove his chest forward toward 3,000 feet of nothing.

He held his breath on the final step, and the panic drove him to near unconsciousness. His vision blurred at the edges, closing to a single pinpoint of light, and then... he floated. The all-consuming celestial blue of the horizon hit his visual field an instant after he realized that the thermal updraft had caught him and the wings of the paraglider. Fear was behind him on the mountaintop, and thousands of feet above the resplendent green rain forest and pristine white beaches of Copacabana, he had seen the light.

That was Sunday.

On Monday, Hans returned to his law office in Century City, Los Angeles's posh corporate haven, and promptly handed in his three-week notice.  For nearly five years, he had faced his alarm clock with the same dread: I have to do THIS for another 40-45 years? He had once slept under his desk at the office after a punishing half-done project, only to wake up and continue on it the next morning. That same morning, he had made himself a promise: two more times and I'm out of here. Strike number three came the day before he left for his Brazilian vacation.

We all make these promises to ourselves, and Hans had done it before as well, but things were now somehow different.  He was different. He had realized something while arcing in slow circles toward the earth - risks weren't that scary once you took them. His colleagues told him what he expected to hear: He was throwing it all away. He was an attorney on his way to the top - what on earth did he WANT?

hans didn't know exactly what he wanted, but he had tasted it. On the other hand, he did know what bored him to tears, and he was done with it. No more passing days as the living dead, riding on the sugar high of a new BMW purchase until someone bought a more expensive Mercedes. It was over.

Immediately, a strange shift began - Hans felt, for the first time in a long time, at peace with himself and what he was doing. He had always been terrified of plane turbulence, as if he might die with the best inside of him, but now he could fly through a violent storm sleeping like a baby. Strange indeed.

More than a year later, he was still getting unsolicited job offers from law firms, but by then had started Nexus Surf, a premier surf-adventure company based in the tropical paradise of Florianopolis, Brazil. He had met his dream girl, and spent most of his time relaxing under palm trees or treating clients ot the best times of their lives.

Is this what he had been so afraid of?

These days, he often sees his former self in the underjoyed and overworked professionals he takes out on the waves. Waiting for the swell, the true emotions come out: "I wish I could do what you do," they say.  His reply is always the same: "You can."

The setting sun reflects off the surface of the water, providing a Zen-like setting for a message he knows is true: It's not giving up to put your current path on indefinite pause. He could pick up his law career exactly where he left off if he wanted to, but that is the furthest thing from his mind.

As they paddle back to shore after an awesome session, his clients get a hold of themselves and regain their composure. They set foot on shore, and reality sinks its fangs in: "I would, but I can't really throw it all away."

He has to laugh.


The Bible is really the first and best motivational book; in it we find instruction for becoming the best person we can be; the one that would please God.  It tells us to trust Him and fear not.  It gives us all the reason we need to do the things we need.  But it also proves that the life we want will not come without work. 


Ecclesiastes 9

 5...the dead know nothing;
       they have no further reward,
       and even the memory of them is forgotten.

 6 Their love, their hate
       and their jealousy have long since vanished;
       never again will they have a part
       in anything that happens under the sun.

 7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, [c] where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.



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