..::Web Interface to autotrace::..

If you ever find yourself working with vector graphics (ie Illustrator), this is a handy-dandy web-tool for you to check out. Hee hee!


The Real World Doesn't Use a Joystick

Wired News: Real World Doesn't Use a Joystick

Interesting read. The article discusses how gamers think with their "gaming brain" in the "real world". I've certainly had that happen to me before. I remember one morning years ago, after having played a LOT of Half-Life, thinking that it was a beautiful day on my way to work, and that I should quicksave before something came along and ruined it. I felt a silly about it at the time, but I thought about it some more, and really it makes sense.

After I read a good book, especially if I've been reading for a couple of hours, my brain also gets into this residual contemplation mode, where I'm, for all intents and purposes, somewhere between the real world and the imaginary one. Eventually I transition fully, but there's definitely a bit of an overlap. Same thing can happen with a movie sometimes, though, because movies lack the interaction and length that books (reading does require a certain amount of imagination) and games have to offer, the duration is much shorter.

I think it's safe to say that this is a function of the way the brain learns things and analyzes the world. I'm sure that things have worked this way for a long time. What concerns me is that the Wired article doesn't take the thinking quite that far, and just leaves it at:

"Some people can't get their minds out of the gaming world."

I worry that some fool is going to come along and claim this as evidence that violent video games are turning children into killers that can't tell fantasy from reality. I think it's lack of parental responsibility that turns children into violent psychopaths, and that it's the assholes trying to play the blame game that can't tell fantasy from reality.

If only I could roll them up with my katamari... *glee*


Blogging Slacker

Wow. Been so long. Where do I begin? Let's see...

Christmas was memorable. On the Wednesday before Christmas, a huge snowstorm hit Bloomington. We got about 2 feet of snow in two days. I thought it was kinda fun having that much snow. It was like having the town to ourselves, as everyone was already gone for the holidays. Very isolated. I don't think I could deal with that for too long, but for a few days, it was fun to pretend Erika and I were the only people left on earth.

Columbus, OH had it even worse. They got less snow, but also got a lot of ice. The Granville region (where Erika's family lives, just east of Columbus proper) got hit hard. Many people didn't have any electricity for a week because of all the downed trees. We went over there on Saturday, prepared to huddle for warmth. Luckily, Erika's aunt's power came back on that night, and we were able to stay somewhere with heat. Her mom's place didn't get juice until Monday. We hung out there until Tuesday and came back to Bloomington.

Played a lot of Sly Cooper 2 over the holidays. I think I played just a bit more than Erika did, but she did quite a few of the missions and was there to watch me do most of the rest. Very fun game. Good production values, just difficult enough to be fun without being frustrating. I felt kind of the same way about Price of Persia, though Sly 2 is far less linear. Anyway, I think we beat Sly 2 by the time the New Year rolled around.

New Year's pretty... low key. I got to see Christiane, which is always nice. A couple of people came over for New Year's Eve, and we all just kinda hung out.

Started back up at work the next week. It's definitely been fun. We've been doing a lot to get everything done and ready for a release. We keep crossing items off the final to-do list, but the damned thing is like a hydra!

In other news, my friends Jim and Robyn are getting married. Jim (finally!) proposed over the holiday season. They're having the ceremony in the Bahamas in April. Awesome. Hope Erika and I get to go! It's really up to the ticket prices at the moment.

Last bit of info: Appleseed is coming! Yay!!! Unfortunately, I don't know when it'll hit Bloomington. Looks like the nearest theater is in Chicago. Might need to road-trip.



I've come to the conclusion that I'm not much of a movie fan any more. Sure, I enjoy an entertaining flick as much as the next guy. However, I have found that I can no longer watch than 2 movies a weekend. Maybe I've always been like that, but I know several people that seem capable of watching movies all day long. I just can't do it. It's not interactive enough. Video games have spoiled me good.

I hit my quota for the week tonight. Just got back from "A Series of Unfortunate Events". Pretty good. I was amused. We saw "Ocean's 12" last night. Also good, but in a very different way. Obviously. Movies I saw this year that I thought were really great:

Other notables include:
I was just flipping through IMDB to see if there was anything I had forgotten, and there were quite a few that I would have preferred to remain blissfully ignorant of.

Oh well. I think the banana bread that Erika and I are making is almost done. Time to go sample.



Erika is graduating with a Masters from the IU School of Journalism. She undergoes commencement in about 10 hours. Her grandmother, aunt, and two cousins are here. Her mom, dad, and stepdad are due to arrive in the morning. Pretty unreal, but I'm proud of her. With any luck, I'll be able to stand up and applaud for her when they call her school. She dragged me to pilates class a couple of days ago. My hips are so sore that I can't stop complaining about it. I'm not meant to have muscles there. Feels like all I have are really angry nerve endings.

Work at the SCS continues apace. Apparently they've got me working on some of the most complicated pieces of the site. I'm not sure if Cliff and Karen are being sarcastic or not, but it's not so bad. And this is while I'm trying to reacquaint myself with the more complex aspects of HTML as well as learning the intricacies of PHP. The novelty of OS X is starting to wear off. It's sometimes a little difficult to toggle between windows in the same application. And when I have about a dozen BBEdit windows open with no quick way to switch between them, it becomes somewhat burdensome. Perhaps I'll figure out the necessary keyboard shortcuts with time, though it doesn't look to be the case.

Gaming-wise, I've been blowing a bit of time on America's Army. Still my favorite multiplayer game. I should really work on my sniper qualification. Played a few rounds of pistol match tonight and it was way fun. I've also been playing Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube. I'm close to collecting all of the skyscraper tokens. 7 or 8 left to go! And I'm still working my way through Tales of Symphonia. It's a great anime-style RPG. Fun gameplay, nice story, and good character development. The only problem is you can't really play it in short bursts. Oh, and I think I may have hooked Erika's cousin Alan on Katamari Damacy. Another Namco game, this time on the PS2. The game is insane-o weird, but addictively fun. Only the Japanese could come up with something so outrageously bizarre.

What are my plans for New Year's?


Free the Mallocs!

I was representing BASES at an IU Computer Science Career Fair once when I saw a student wearing a t-shirt that said "Free the Mallocs!" For the Luddites out there, "malloc" is a keyword in the C programming language that allows you to allocate memory for a chunk of data. You were supposed to call "free" when you were done with that piece of memory so that it wouldn't be floating out there wasting system resources and potentially corrupting other applications. Hence "free the mallocs", a good programming practice from back in the day. Apparently I was the only one to get that joke at the career fair.

At any rate, the reason this came up again was because my good friend Terry had a birthday last weekend, and she wanted people to get together and write letters to political prisoners on behalf of Amnesty International. So if you have a half an hour to an hour to spare, I encourage you to write one. They're supposed to be short. Less than a page, and there's boiler plate text for you to copy. It's not brain surgery.

Day 3 at work progresses. Things are going well. Cliff is back from New York, so I might actually have to start getting work done now. Owen Hall is a pretty old building, and I'm sitting right next to one of the old-school radiators. Old-school in the strictest sense of the word. I think that thing is older than I am. Cliff is installing Mandrake 10.1 on his new Athlon64 machine. I'm back and forth between updating an accounting report and trying to figure out how to customize OS X to its fullest extent. I like my new job. I like it a lot.

One more digression before I "open Apple"-tab back to work. Did any of you catch the Legend of EarthSea on the Sci-Fi channel? I thought it was alright, though I didn't catch the end of the second show. Danny Glover was pretty cool. Then again, I never read the books. Those books are one of Erika's favorites, and she was a little miffed that they altered the story as much as they did. On a somewhat related note, the new Battlestar Galactica series has seriously piqued my attention. I loved the original, and I'd like to see what they've done with the new version. I know that Starbuck is a girl now. Weird.

Ok. The end. Back to the grind.



Just finished my first day at the SCS. I spent most of the day setting up accounts and trying to figure things out. I'm not quite sure what the procedure is for getting files out of CVS in order to test my changes. I was trying to mirror the site locally, but to no avail. Pieces of it were missing. I'm pretty sure I picked up the correct trees from CVS. I'd like to figure this out before Cliff gets back on Wednesday. Grrr.

My new work machine is pretty nifty though. Mac G5 on OS X Panther. Mmmm. Tasty. I think I have things twiddled to where I want them. It takes some getting used to, especially since, in the past month, I had already been working heavily with Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Mandrake Linux. Now I get to add OS X to my list.

As you can see, I didn't post at all last week. Spent all of my time at work trying to get ready to leave, and I know I still didn't get to finish everything. Hope Steve and the gang aren't too mad about that... I think I got the biggies. We had an inter-department party on Thursday. Ate lots of food and bowled all afternoon. I broke 100 on the second game! (Scored 120-something...) Went out for my last meal with the gang at the Chinese buffet on Friday. Spent just as much time saying goodbye as I did trying to get work done. I find that I miss everybody there already. (It's 18:15 and I'm in the new office all alone.)

Had plenty to blog about last week. Two of my friends broke up after a year and half of living together. They were getting pretty serious, too. Maybe too serious? Also, one of my friends at BASES "resigned" out of the blue on my last day of work. It all sounded a little fishy, as in we're not sure it was entirely voluntary. Hope he's alright.

With all of this stuff going on, what the heck was I doing? Well, I helped my cousin George put together his new motherboard, CPU, and cooling fan. I spent the rest of the time playing Temple of Elemental Evil and Vampire: Bloodlines. Both games are of somewhat dubious quality, but fun as hell. Damn you Troika!

Uh oh. Gotta go. Going to meet some folks for dinner to celebrate my first Monday back in town.


Gotta Go To Bed Earlier!

I spent most of the night setting up Apache, MySQL, and PHP on my old P2-400. I really wish I could have done it through Linux instead of Windows 2000, but Mandrake just hasn't been acting that reliable.

For instance, I'm getting some serious weirdness with Firefox. If I run normally, it crashes when the JavaVM tries to start up. However, if I run Firefox as root, there's no problem. I checked the permissions, and they all seem good as far as I can tell. Grrr. One of these day's I'll move to Slackware and hopefully things will go better.

Apache was a breeze to set up. I had to do next to nothing to get it up and running. Just download and install. I think I tweaked the conf file to hook PHP up. Adding PHP to Apache wasn't too hard either, though it took a little more doing because I needed to set up php.ini. MySQL was giving me trouble, but I think it's because I don't know how to use it right. It's working now, though, for the most part. I'm using phpMyAdmin to set up MySQL. Having some weird issues with regards to logging in as root. Part of the problem was that I'm running MySQL 4.1, which uses a different password hashing algorithm than previous versions. But it's in a semi-precarious state of functional now.

Anyway, I gotta stop staying up until 3am playing on the computer. The kicker is, I'm not even playing any games! I poked around with Close Combat 2 for about 15 minutes tonight. I breezed through the tutorial and that was it. Before tonight, I haven't played a game since... Half-Life 2 on Sunday. I think something's wrong with me.

Well, time to go to bed.


Mini-Update / StumbleUpon

I've been wasting my time all day with a new toy for the internet. See StumbleUpon. I've always wanted something like this for when the same three sites on the internet start to look really boring.

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