Monday, August 31, 2015

Guild of Dungeoneering

In her autobiography Felicia Day said I should sometimes focus on things other than video games. Completely forgetting that she and Ryon had reviewed a video game that I put in my steam wish list. She's personally responsible for the hours Eryn and I are wasting playing Guild of Dungeoneering. Or at least 50% responsible.

I've followed the same pattern I use for XCOM and most other turn-based strategy games.  I've named the fighters after family and friends.  Here's Erwood the adventuring chump, and Kyle and Bruiser.  He should have known to call himself Kyle I.  He didn't last long.

See.  Kyle II.  Yet still with that Robert Smith The Cure look.  That's totally like him.

The game lets you build a dungeon around your characters and then engage in card battles with the enemies you place (and a few you don't) to finish the levels.  A bit like Cardhunters, but much more fun and the music - along the lines of Brave Brave Sir Robin - is 1000x better.  As you adventure, you accumulate gold to buy new classes and a few new card types.  The attacks and defense are limited to magic (blue) and physical (red), blocks against those colors, bypassing defense, and speed (go first).  That's 95% of it except for gaining or losing cards beyond your basic three.  Each class and each monster also comes with some special skills (block all damage and your opponent takes a damage for instance) to vary the pace.  I like the ranger with his speed.  Very easy character to play.

There's also a trophy room and, best of all, a cemetery. Here you can see the tombstones of those who have gone before.  Jen's name fits on her tombstone, but calling her Jennife is a joke because often they cut her last letter on forms.

And then I played some more (there's a mime class, hence Marcel).  Wehttam is Matthew spelled backwards.  Really.  It is.

 And then some more.  Kyle III has been lasting longer than his predecessors.  It's rough, because with every adventure you start over completely from scratch.  No armor.  No weapons.  No skills.  So it's a bit more like a puzzle game than an RPG in that respect.  I suspect if they ever Version II it, they'll add some retention of items and skills and some impact for the rooms beyond the good and bad fountains that show up sometimes when you place a hallway tile.

Worth my time.  I hope the developer puts the money toward making it even better.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Camp Innovation

Eryn's been in camp for two weeks in a row.  She spent one week at my workplace for a corporate-sited Camp Innovation.  I don't know what was going on in my head. I thought it was a girls' only coding camp.  I suspect I got my camps all mixed up.  So she was a bit disappointed that was NOT what it was.  But she had fun anyway.  A lot of kids she knew were there from school, and she met the kids of some of my other coworkers, including one who has a shared passion for Five Nights at Freddy's.  Her project was FNaF focused and was a box that allowed you to take a one-question quiz and it would play theme music using the basic-driven processing board they were given.  So there was some coding, just not along the lines of Java or Ruby.

Here are kids.  I had a chance to talk to some of them during a panel where we talked about what it was like to work in technology.  I talked to them about the meaning of the word "done" and how getting agreement on things was an important part of technology projects.  My example was to talk to their parents about what "done" meant in the context of their chores to them, to their friends, and to different adults.  I suspected no one would agree.  So imagine what it's like with a project with hundreds of people.

One of them (sibling of one of Eryn's schoolmates) made a Tardis nighlight that would come on when the sensor detected the lights were out (waving your hand over it, for instance).  Very neat.  A lot of cars.  And one kid wrote a program for presenting a series of numbers and you had to guess the next one.  It would have been more interesting if he could have presented multiple series, but he had the direction right.

Here's Eryn explaining her project to a parent and to my skip boss.  The piece of paper is to magnify the soundtrack.  Amusingly, only one of her buttons - the correct choice - was wired up.  I thought at first that her program would evaluate yes or no, but that would have simply been wasted effort for her scope.  Easier not to wire them in the first place.  That's a good lesson for me and my software teams.

And here she with her FNaF box, all smiles after a week of Innovation, Caribou in the mornings, and slowing fermenting children (a lot of sweat being generated in that room).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stupid iliotibial band

I've got pain on the outer side of my left knee again.  It's been years, 2.5 years.  The round spongy cylinder is down from the rafters, and I can feel the stress all the way up the side of my leg into my hip.  Now I'm left to ponder whether walking less this year has contributed to it flaring up (took almost 2000 miles of bicycling, so I'm surprised it appeared when I was pedaling slightly less).  Might require a trip to the physical therapist to see what I can do to head it off.  My sister assures me the cylinder helps and, if I'm crying, I'm probably doing it right.

I see I should be focusing on rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories as well and some recommendations to improve the hip strength (an issue for me given the fractures) and talk to the therapist if I have an a short leg because of a fractured hip.

Here's a guy working a foam roller:

And here are two guys working their physical therapy magic on someone else:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

National Bike Challenge

I didn't have huge plans for bicycling this summer after Ming cancelled on RAGBRAI.  A trip to Chicago, which I should probably still blog about.  But that seemed sort of like this extraneous thing (I've been assured 120+ mile days aren't extraneous, but the trip was just sort of a reason to take my family to The Dells and Chicago).

One of my co-workers got me involved in the National Bike Challenge, which I've blogged about before, and that's been my litmus for the summer.  I put in 1457 miles since I signed up, and have tried to remain in roughly the top 12 riders for my company month over month.  The fact that it synced with Strava was a deciding factor in my choice of Garmin odometers so that when I ride my odometer syncs with my phone which syncs with Garmin which syncs with Strava which syncs with the National Bike Challenge.  Welcome to the era of machines talking to machines.  I know that's more important to me than I thought it would be because when it quit working last week I spent hours (and hours and hours) updating the Garmin software, my iPhone, iTunes, Windows, and a number of other things to ensure I had an up-to-date pipeline.

One of the details about the National Bike Challenge is that you get 5 points for bicycling at least one mile in a day.  That's really the bit of trivia that determined my personal bicycling challenge for the summer/fall.  I have now been on my bicycle 88 days in a row.  Potentially more, because I'm ignoring anything before I started recording on National Bike Challenge, but 88 officially.  Hasn't mattered what the weather was like or how dark it was or if I was sick or some muscle hurt, I made it out before midnight to log some time, usually with a trip to Cub Foods or Kowalski's or the movie theater, or by just doing a loop around the neighborhood.  I try to get in at least 2-4 miles in those cases, but one or two have been just the one mile round trip to Cub (or 1.6+ to Target).  If I'm unlucky, it's raining and my odometer resets itself when I lose satellite and I have to log more distance after shopping, but I've learned to enjoy the excuse.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Office Swap

I'm going full circle.  Like Ouroboros, the tail-eating snake.  I went from my office near the doors, to an office on the old row, to the end of third floor, and now I'm back on the old row.  My first office is now a room for testing boxes, so I don't think I'll get back quite that far unless there's a big shake up of the sort that shuts down projects.  So today I cleaned and packed.  I really liked my current office - almost no furniture and a huge white board.  My previous boss once measured it with a piece of 8.5x11 paper and declared it slightly larger than an average office. The new place won't have those perks.  And I had to erase Eryn's art on my secondary white board.  I'm going to miss Lisa Simpson and the cat army slash cat parade.  I still have no idea who was drawing Terminator eye diagrams in the corner.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Eco-friendly bed frame

My wife and I have a mattress we ordered from Casper with a discount from Jezebel.  I like it.  A lot.  Although I'll admit it took some getting used to after the puffy one that's now in the guest bedroom.  But the downside is we've been sleeping with it on the floor like college kids rather than on a frame like adults with a house because we're too lazy to shop when it doesn't include the frame in the delivery.  Yesterday, while perusing Good Will, we wandered next door to Slumberland to have a look, but the platform bed selection wasn't exceptional.  Nevertheless, it inspired me to actually do some web shopping today (that's right, we're too lazy to shop by web, and I remember the pre-web shopping days when you had to go from store to store).  This option from Amazon is not what we're going to get, because I just can't deal with looking like I'm perpetually ready to move out, even if no one besides me has to see it (and my wife, although that's it, even the cats don't really get to hang out in the bedroom).  But I thought building a bed frame out of cardboard was a great idea and, if I was single and not necessarily trying to impress women with my marriage-ability, I'd strongly consider it as an option.

Reboot - Snarky

Update: I thought I should note that I've made it through six posts (posted and scheduled).  That's not a bad start.  I'm particularly pleased with the canary post.  Going with little yellow blobs in Paint rather than detailed canaries was the right move.

Poor  Over a year without posts.  I've got a backlog, and it really doesn't take much effort, so I thought I'd give it a kick and run it for a while again.  We went from approximately 600 views per post to 2.  That's really going to impact the income rate on the site.  How will we maintain our $2 in annual income?  As an added side benefit, it should update the images on my site.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

City of Sin: London And Its Vices

I finished Catharine Arnold's City of Sin: London and its Vices this morning.  Great book.  I was less interested in the more modern vices such as the Profumo Affair and Belle de Jour, and much more interested in the bulk of the book about the period between the Romans and the Victorian era.

If there's one lesson to come away with, other than learning what chucking is and that you should stay out of Gropecunt lane unless you know why you're there, it's that all the vagaries and varieties and novelty of craziness of sex never go away no matter what laws are passed and no matter how society and government change how they feel about certain acts.  Homosexuality, transexuality, prostitution: it all flourished in London for 2000 years in all its incarnations.  The only change was in whether people hid what they did, or wore their prick (or cunt, as the Brits don't mind saying a bit more frequently than u.s.) on their sleeve.

Arnold has some real sympathy for how working women (and she distinguishes them from those who don't have any other option or are children, although The Guardian believes she doesn't stress the unfortunate side sufficiently) and gay men are punished by popular opinion and politics, often for reasons that are later proven to be specious or nonexistent and are simply useful as electoral or religious talking points.  It was a topic of conversation in the convertible on the way to lunch today when I noted that John Oliver said there were 700,000 individuals in some sort of gender crossing in the U.S. at the moment.  They didn't come out of nowhere when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn.  They are always there, always struggling against society and government and religion to be comfortable in their transgenderism.

I'm looking forward to the other two books in Catharine's trilogy on London dealing with crime and madness.

The Fourth

We made it back from vacation in time for the fourth in Eagan. It was a little bit busier than usual as the old Lockheed Martin lot where much of Eagan used to tailgate and watch the fireworks was fenced off and under deconstruction. We usually sit up near Wells Fargo which isn't exactly close to the fireworks, but allows easy viewing, and a comfortable place to park some lawn chairs, drink root beer, and eat popcorn out of a grocery bag without being in anyone's way or having to walk a mile.

Even with the extra people, it would have been a good place to watch the fireworks this year except a guy near us felt the need to add a soundtrack.  Patriotic tunes are great, but when your soundtrack shifts to Katy Perry's Fireworks, that sort of detracts from the experience.  So when I recorded some of the fireworks I did it with stop motion so the soundtrack is left out (I guess I could have edited the sound out as well, but I like the stop motion effect better anyway).

So in the interests of showing the sky who the fuck is in charge, to quote John Oliver, here's a long clip, followed by...

the final display.

And here's John Oliver's take on fireworks last year...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Crisis One Averted

Found a hotel where there were no hotel rooms.  Just had to upsize the reservation.  I'll have a very comfortable bed for just me.  I notice the rain is rolling in on Sunday.  That's not cool - and it looks as though it may be following me. least it will be 78 and I won't freeze to death.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

I'm a bit behind on posts, but it's not my fault for once.  Sort of.  My computer installed a Microsoft update and tanked.  Tanked good.  I had to go back to a restore point.  Twice.  So I didn't upload pictures from The Lindsey Sterling and Karmin concert (I was so happy Karmin was the opening band - it was a great concert), the tour of the Gateway area of Minneapolis with Kyle (which everyone who knows me can attest I won't shut up about), or the 106 mile ride across Wisconsin with Ming (Kyle sagging).  Maybe I'll get to them, maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll just post a lot of pictures with commentary in the world's longest post so I remember what I was up to.

Today we celebrated Father's Day by 1.) having my wife make us (me and my father) eggs, toast, and burnt bacon for breakfast, 2.) Going to the 40th Anniversary showing of Jaws at the local theater (Eryn and I went to Desk Set on Friday which was great - Mean Mr. Mustard told me at breakfast at Colossal on Grand with Greg that he'd seen it), 3.) a little bit of bicycling, 4.) a lot of the second season of Agents of SHIELD, 5.) Catan at the coffee shop in the evening (I won!) with my wife and Eryn, 6.) Boss Monster in the afternoon with my Dad and Eryn, 7.) a bunch of trash picking between all the other things, and 8.) my car washed by my wife and Eryn - for which it was long overdue but had been avoided because it leaks a bit.

Re: #7, Litterati has been having a small contest/proof of concept at my workplace this week and we've had a week to collect/photograph the most trash.  These were the rankings as of yesterday.  That's me on top at 623 pieces.  So today I collected almost another 200 wandering around the neighborhood.  I'm fully expecting someone to beat me today, but they're going to have to get their family involved and really buckle down.  I found $20 (and took a picture for Litterati), so regardless of how it turns out, I'm ahead.  As ahead as you can consider yourself after picking up around 800 pieces of trash including an open plastic container full of urine in the cul-de-sac near the house.  The fastest I was able to collect and photograph trash via Instagram was about 100 pieces/hour, so that represents 8 hours of collection this week  About 1 hour/day on average, slightly more.  That sounds about right because I had a few two hour days and a few days that I couldn't get out, not because of rain, but because of after work commitments like bicycling so I'm prepped to ride longer distances.

I should add that this is sort of par for my personality.  Short term commitments, even if they're recommitments of things I'm already doing/have done, are sort of my thing.  I once told a manager that my ability to re-start something over and over - e.g. intermittent perseverance -- was a strength.  He asked why I didn't just finish it the first time and I pointed out that given the organizational dependencies and apathy you're often faced with, that's not always a possibility, so being able to reboot, and reboot in an aggressive way (I should probably call that with leadership, or urgency, or passion so it sounds more friendly), has advantages.

I'm looking forward to the best picture portion of the contest as well.  I hope someone has better pictures than my urine bucket, $20 bill, and trash in flower fields.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1903 Old Photos of the First Tour

I like looking at these.


I seem to be back in an exercise groove between the bike challenge (in the top 10 this month) and Litterati having a gamified POC at work.  That's good - maybe I won't die from exhaustion bicycling around the midwest.  I've noticed I'm not losing weight but I have lost more than a belt size.  That's usually related to putting on muscle, although I haven't been focusing on my abdominal and arms which is often the culprit.  But I've been putting off building up some core strength long enough.  I'm not keen on doing the lifting regiment I usually do at home, so I may try this each morning instead and see if a low impact approach works in the long run.  I have a couple things I want to sneak in during the mornings, including writing, so I'm not sure how it's going to all fit.

Man in the High Castle

I love Philip K. Dick.  And this edition by The Folio Society looks beautiful.  If I wasn't tied to getting a trackable trainer so my wife and daughter can follow me and paying my car insurance so they're safe during their ride, I'd consider getting it to put on my bookcase of Tudor/Stuart-plus-some-graphic-novels-and-misc books.  The things I'm proud to have read and kept.  Maybe someone will consider it for me when Secret Santa time rolls around for my family this year.

Monday, June 08, 2015

On Managing Developers

I love the comments in Jon Evans' On Managing Developers.  The disagreements and arguing get to the heart of why it's often a crazy job.  No two people expect the same manager as their optimal manager.  I'm often in the position where I operate under "This is what makes sense right now" for a team.  There are a few things that are common project to project, but most projects have a unique flavor and unique personalities that require flexibility, communication, and quick personal iterative cycles above other skills.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Evolution the Game

Last night was board game night at work.  I sparse turnout despite all the rain. I know one usual was out of town and another was off listening to an NSA whistleblower and one was hosting a Pathfinder card game night.  But Mike from my team showed up for the first time, and Mike and Jen (brother and sister, both work here), who taught me Terra Mystica, were there (and Kevin and the two Sean's, although we joked that Sean #2 was only around long enough to play Rock-Paper-Scissors).

So with six people in attendance we picked a game that would support everyone instead of splitting up.  Mike of Mike and Jen had Evolution (Amazon), which had been a Kickstarter project.  The basic game is that you have a critter in front of you with population 1 and body size 1.  You get three cards with traits on them and one card for each critter (so four to start with).  One card goes in the middle face down to add food to a communal watering hole (the cards have numbers in the corner, some are 0s and some negative, so you can drive down the communal food if you like) at the end of a round.  The other cards you use per their face to add traits to your critter (face down), create a new critter (discard), increase body size (discard), or increase population (discard).  Bigger body means less of a chance you'll get eaten by someone with a carnivore trait.  Bigger population means you need to eat more, but you score more points (which you hide in a bag until the end).  Traits let you hide in trees, find extra food, become a carnivore, get a shell, hunt as a pack, and more.  Some traits work with the other animals you have to reinforce each other.  And, if your trait becomes obsolete, you can replace it with a card in your hand.

So there's a race to stay bigger or away from carnivores, or breed fast enough with big enough animals that you can feed the carnivores and not suffer too much.  If you're a carnivore, you sometimes focus on eating on the little critters so no one is scoring lots of extra points.  It's a fun game.  Very interactive, very fast, and the strategy changed quite a bit between the two games we played.  Lots of carnivores and scavengers in game one.  Lots of herbivores with protection in game two.

Boardgamegeek gave it a family game ranking on par with Smash Up, which I can definitely see.  Faster than Smash Up - with a big group it really moved.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

My Tour Placing

I've been using Strava lately as part of the National Bike Challenge, so I can use the sync feature.  One of the things I learned is that it records your performance on "segments".  I'm not sure who sets the segments, presumably other users, but Strava gives me feedback on how well I did against my past performances on those stretches as well as my performance against others who have peddled the same way in the last year and ever.

One of the segments is the 53 feet of Trapp Farm Wall.  This is a very steep short hill kids slide on in the winter.  There's a paved trail and, whenever I'm riding the Highline to get in some climbing, I go up and down once because it's good climbing practice.  10.9% grade!  Strava told me I'm the 8th fastest person up this climb ever at a blazing 7.6 mph (not on a road bike).

So I went out and compared it against Alpe d'Huez on  Alpe d'Huez averages 8.1% grade.  I can only assume that this means in a Tour de France I'd place eighth.  Or at least 8th in the competition to be King of the Mountains and wear the polka dots.  And I'm going to consider it hors categorie (for Eagan) because, despite being only 53 feet long, it's 2/3 the way through the first half of the ride.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Farscape (with spoilers, although 13 years after the fact)

All these years and I've never seen the last episode of Farscape. The final season was aired so all over the map in my area that it was hit or miss trying to catch them all and I was never sure which ones I missed.  Keep in mind, this was during the VCR era and I was never particularly good about scheduling things to record (and it was preempted anyway).  I rewatched every single one of them and I'm horrified to get to the end and find (spoiler!) John and Aeryn are disintegrated and all that's left is a pile of crystals with a wedding ring on top.

I know they have to be in The Peacekeeper Wars, which should be showing up from Amazon in a day or so because I timed it for the end of my Netflix stint, but it was amazingly depressing to know that was the last episode in the series.  I named my daughter after a pile of crystals.