Monday, July 18, 2016

National Bike Challenge - LIES!

I have not put as many miles in this summer as I usually do, but I've been trying to mimic my at-least-one-mile-a-day goal that I attempted last summer.  With few exceptions, I do at least two miles, even when it's pouring so hard I'm riding in a few inches of water.

Which is why this calendar irritates me.  I did NOT miss the 29th of May.  Not, not, not.  It's far more likely my odometer glitched.  I love my Garmin, but sometimes (including today) it gets stuck, and unless I'm very careful about making sure it synced, it doesn't catch up and log the ride for the current day.

As you can see, that becomes the ONLY day I've missed.

Most days even have multiple rides.  Although that's more common now that I pedal somewhere, Ingress, and then pedal back or pedal somewhere else.  I've got a few weekends where I pedal to Caponi Art Park, pedal to Schultz beach, and then home.

8 years - World Domination: Total War

According to Facebook, my wife and I have been friends on the app for 8 years.  So that must be about my tenure on the platform.  I think the very first game I played was World Domination: Total War.  Followed closely by Mafia Wars.  Every time Total War reminds me, I buy additional weapons.  8 years in and I still don't have them all, although I have all the countries under my control including China and the US.  If I believed in magical thinking, the day I buy my last battleship is the day I'll cease to use Facebook.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekend II - Guitar Recital at DEMO

Today Eryn had a guitar recital at DEMO.  Since Aaron moved Root Note, the recitals are much, much smaller and in the waiting room at DEMO.  Very different feel from the big building they used in Burnsville (The Garage, used by the Burnsville Youth Collaborative).  Poppa and Manna joined us for the recital.  They had a full weekend of us!

Here's the playlist.  Khan's piece was beautiful.  Ariana Grande is much better acoustic and without her singing (in my opinion).

Eryn played a few pieces from Undertale.  She was unhappy with her rendition of Battle Against the True Hero, so I'm not posting the video.  It's gone.  She was mostly frustrated that she knew it - she's been playing it for her online friends for months - but still got off beat. If she didn't get visibly frustrated, I don't think anyone would know.  It's not like the adults are Undertale experts.  But she's playing it more for herself, so that's frustrating for her.

At least she smiled at the end of the song.  She's wearing her Undertale shirt for the recital.

This is Megalovania.  They did a great job.  Eryn's really got the head down bass player vibe going.  Sort of amusing.

Here's all of Megalovania.  Afterwards, Drew and Matt did a few other ad hoc tunes including some music from Lord of the Rings and what looked to be a hell of a piece from some Jamaican blues artist that required fingers up and down the whole neck.  Great time.

Weekend I - Friday Night, Under the Gaslight (with Olios)

It was a busy, busy weekend. Even if I don't include starting to pack for RAGBRAI or going to the new Ghost Busters remake.  Which we enjoyed.  I didn't like it as much as the first one, but they did a great job.  The scene where Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann) fights the ghosts with two pistol proton packs was inspired and her character was excellent.  A lot of the action took place in Times Square and I saw my orange and white company logo, even if the corporate name was nowhere to be seen.

Friday night after dinner with my wife's folks at the Red Cow (so much food - the egg + peanut butter burger was overload) we all went to Under the Gaslight at the University of Minnesota Showboat.  We've been there before and it's wonderful.  They do a melodrama coupled with a lot of little skits.  All performed by U of MN students.  The skits, or olios, are superb.  They reused one about a girl for every month with over the top costumes, but finished it up with a twist that wasn't there the last time we saw it (I won't spoiler it).  And the olio about the bugs with the fireflies and ladybugs and oh-so-put-upon flowers...brilliant.  Supposedly it's their last year after being flooded out last year and that's a real disappointment  One of my favorite performances.

The boat at the riverside in St. Paul.  

And just looking out over the river...the night shot, later, is better.

Pooteewheet right before the performance.

The stage.  The scenery was great - they seem to keep all their sets from previous years and reuse, as well as costumes.  The end olio involved costumes from many different years including sashes with the years Under the Gaslight was performed.

Pooteewheet and Eryn braving the spiders.

After the play we walked back to the car through the park.  Getting off the boat, there were dozens of Pokemon Go players lounging next to the water trying to catch water Pokemon.  Others were scattered through the park at 11:00 p.m.  Quite the craze.  Eryn and Pooteewheet are playing in this picture.

Time to confer on a pidgey or something.

During the intermission I lounged at the front of the boat and enjoyed the Mississippi River.  A much more serene view than two years ago when it was flooding and large trees were bouncing off the side of the boat and being sucked under.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MST3K Reunion

End of June Eryn and I went to the MST3K reunion event at the State Theater downtown.  I sponsored their Kickstarter reboot and they had sent me a notice it was coming, but I hadn't thought about it until I realized Eryn might want to go.  The MST3K t-shirt she owns and frequently wears should have been a sign.  She encouraged me to buy tickets, so we made it a daddy-daughter night.

It was an excellent venue.  We could see (and hear) well, despite how far away they were from our seats.  We didn't sit here.  We sat inside.

Eryn's not always pleased to have her photo taken.  As Mean Mr Mustard said, teenage girls seem to want to be ironic about everything, even if they're having a kickass time.

Inside the theater.  That guy in front of us snuggled with his Tom Servo rather than his girlfriend for the whole show.  Although Tom's head came off at one point, so I wonder if he was full of hard liquor.  The real Tom would probably approve.

The pre-show trivia was excellent.

In the outer area where you could find a snack, there was a costume contest going on. I wasn't sure if this guy was supposed to be Mike or Joel.  Crow wasn't subject to the same confusion, although he didn't talk, so who knows which version he's representing.

Dr. Forrester.  He had the look down, but I didn't get the sense he had the attitude down.

Our closest seat neighbor.  I'm not sure where he had these hidden the first half hour - you couldn't buy them - but at some point he pulled out his plushy Crow and Servo.

Eryn, a little less grumpy at having her photo taken.  Sleepy looking though.  The show consisted of alumni riffing on shorts.  We saw Mike, his wife, Joel, Dr. Forrester, TV's Frank, Pearl...well, all of them, including Jonah Ray who will be the new castaway.  It was a busy show. They covered several shorts, but our favorites where: Industrial Accidents (don't stick your arm in a great big metal moving tube), Is it Corn? (we can't be sure...but it's good for art), the perfect 50s kitchen (housewives manipulating their husband to procure large appliances, starring the dad from A Christmas Story).

Eryn laughed like a maniac.

We parked several blocks away at the hotel I usually park at. It was a good walk and we saw this painting of Como, which I don't think is nearly as good as the photos I framed for Ming.  And we saw a piano on the street which confused us, but apparently it's art:

Weekend - Cabin

On Saturday we did a quick drive up to the cabin to visit all of the family for the day. It was a beautiful day for taking the convertible for a ride - which was good because 4 hours in the car was probably 1/3 of our time. Eryn, A (my niece), and I took the rentered waterski out for a long ride between the lakes.  We hit a wake at significant speed at one point and Eryn bit the back of A's head.  I know they're older now because they were more amused than shedding tears.

It was good we got our ride in because not longer afterwards the jet ski just sort of quit working.  Andrew went to town on it with a wrench, locating all the weeds.  But while it wasn't running, we tried to get it down to the landing to get it up on the trailer to take back to the dealer.  It would have helped if the boat was running right.  My observation to my sister about visiting the cabin is that I'm always fixing something: water heater, pipes, flooded foundation, myself (when I'm stung by wasps), trees, shingles, myself (when I rip my arm open on the flashing for the roof)...I'm sure I've missed many things.  Fortunately, this time Andrew was taking care of it and I could ignore it beyond fetching knives, tools, and making sure bolts didn't go lost.

Here's a view of my sister-in-law at the cabin.  That's not our cabin on the left - ours is behind me (the picture taker).  Way off in the water, that's the jet ski fixing convoy.

Panoramic View

Here we are zoomed in much closer.  Six people trying to get the jet ski to the landing.  Me taking pictures while moving back and forth between the landing and the cabin fetching things.  And my father at the landing controlling the truck.  Eight people dealing with the jet ski.

The live action exciting as you probably expect.

We had a good time despite all the mechanical issues and had a good dinner at the bar in Garrison.  I snuck out to do a little bit of Ingress-ing as there aren't many Ingress-ers left up there and the portals were unclaimed/gray.  I saw a Pokemon Go article that said there are 5,000,000 portals in existence out of 15,000,000 submitted.  No wonder some are in unfrequented locations.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person

Good article CK shared with me.  I "win" on all fronts and I have relatives and friends who are a mix of the other intersections.  And I will attest to the fact that I have benefited from being in the privileged categories (although I'd actual dual classify ability; it's not just physical, it's also intellectual - life is easier if you're smarter.  Doesn't mean you'll be reach or that someone who isn't smart won't be.  But many things will be easier). There are folks in those intersections that exceed me by magnitudes in my opinion - but they absolutely work for it and overcome a lot of crap.

(Posted not so long after the I-94 protests here in the cities).

My Historical Joke

Inspired after watching Frankenstein's monster point out different kinds of ships on the Thames during the third episode of Penny Dreadful.

Did you hear about the naval battle between the Dutch and the British?
The barque was worse than the fluyt.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mother Jones: My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard

Well worth the long read.  Particularly if you're fond of dystopias. As Bauer states,

"My job will always be to deny them the most basic of human impulses -- to push for more freedom."

101 Infographics

Lots of cool visualizations - I like the wind pattern graphic, although if you made the wind yellow, it would look like Trump had taken over the US.  I prefer the data-heavy charts to minimal visualizations, but I think the primary take-away is that there's an amazing amount of information out there, even if you roll it up into consumable (and interactive) bites.

Random Numbers

Interesting article on new random number generation methods.  Doesn't sound like it will be making it into my C# code anytime soon.  Reminds me of the interview question we setup using one of the shared online coding environments where the dev I was working with - who wasn't used to .NET (although this goes back to COM) did a for loop to generate random numbers and got the same number for each iteration of the loop when he ran the code.  Took an old dev like me to point out that depending on the algorithm, MS usually resorts to some time-based seed, so if your loop is too fast, you'll just get the same number.  You can put in a wait or call one of the reset/reseed functions (or pass in a seed) to "force" the randomness.  MS says it themselves, they use a "time-dependent seed value" and their algorithm is pseudo-random (

But back to some true randomness at - I think the idea that your randomness might lose its randomness because the other systems it relies on for randomness aren't truly random is interesting. I wonder if, at the heart of the matter, that means that all systems are crackable if you can understand the state of the objects that went into the end system.  That is, it's all obfuscation until you obfuscate to the point that the variables reach infinity.

"How do you know for sure that the measurement devices used to measure the physical system don't have some underlying predictability due to the way they were constructed? To overcome this problem, scientists have developed strict requirements on the devices, but these "device-independent" protocols are so strict that they are very slow at generating large amounts of random numbers."

I also think it's interesting that there is during (dynamic?) and post (static?) randomization, with the latter being computationally heavy and more akin to certification of randomization.  You have to wonder if some day someone with enough horsepower will discover that all the GUIDs generated by current systems aren't random and are discoverable and we'll be forced into a Year-2000 like situation where we have to recompute system ids and update them (and therefore have to update all the relationships - nasty).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Wasteland 2

I've been playing Wasteland 2 on the Xbox lately.  I loved the original, although I've never gotten into the whole Fallout series.  They left a lot of the quirks in the game, and I was panicked when my surgeon was dying and I didn't have a backup surgeon available (fortunately, I had skill points I hadn't spent).  And the part where I have to find rad suits to get from point A to point B gave me flashbacks.

Here's Kyle.  I feel bad that I haven't flushed out his biography.  Contrary to that pistol in his hand, he's usually running around with a shotgun and a machine gun he hasn't trained up in yet.  He's not great in a long range fight, but he's been instrumental in taking out several wounded enemies who get close in.  And he's got some good "kiss ass" skills modified by both a trinket and a perk.  I missed his chance to kiss ass a little tattle tale who saw me bust open some doors because I was a point short.  That won't happen again.

"I know my shotgun is big, but you seem so dangerous you don't need a gun.  You could probably take me on without one..."

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Richard III - Theatre in the Round

We went to Richard III at Theatre in the Round not so long ago (next up, The Magic Garden).  It's one of my favorites because I studied the Tudors for almost five years as an undergrad and the liminal between Richard III and Henry VII and the changes to the government were fascinating.  So this sits right on the start of what I studied.  It usually feels like one of the most accessible plays to me as well.  How difficult is to understand a piece of propaganda where the main character is pretty much a total dick.  That translates in action, if not in language.  Eryn picked up most of it, and she's not a big fan of Shakespeare at TiTR.  Guy kills all his relatives, marries their wives, wants to marry his niece (this skeeved Eryn the most).

It helps to have all the history and know that it's a piece of Tudor propaganda.  Sure there were humps and nefarious deeds, but history is written by the victor.  Even more so if you're trying to back up a claim to a crown you're not really queued up for.

Lucas Gerstner (you work at Imation in your free time, Lucas?  That's cool) as Richard III was extremely good and really captured the conniving nature of the character in his tone and action.  He really made the play.

And Tyrrel and Ratcliffe as sort of hipster/Portlandesque assassins played by Daniel Vopava and Matthew Englund?  That was a good touch. They had solid, semi-sniveling, do-what-we're-told, lackey vibe.

Unity on iPhone

I have to say, the Unity app for the iPhone seems to be lacking without bluetooth, but the fact that I can just wire it in and run my app simultaneously on a PC desktop and iPhone is amazing.  Seriously cool.  Having to download 22 GB of install because I didn't grab the iPhone/Android/et al packages the first time?  Not so cool.  But that was my own fault.  It's slick to point the app at multiple platforms with so little effort.

I know what you did in the bathroom

This does get the point across that you shouldn't use this particular stall.  But it also looks like perhaps there's some sort of bio emergency underway.  Perhaps a nice sign just doesn't cut it when it comes to conveying urgency.


Some links I don't want to lose, but don't want to track in my inbox...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

I've been thinking about Keep Taking and Nobody Explodes since I saw Felicia and Ryon Day play it on their show.  So tonight Eryn and I gave it a play test so I could see whether it would make a good game to play as a team building exercise at work.  I'm sold.  Our videos don't catch the back and forth well because you don't hear me, but you'll get the idea.  Great interaction game.  We set up a little station with a chair and light (and manual) outside the computer room instead of going with the VR.

I'd add that the little blurb of music at the end sounds VERY like Red Dwarf music which made it that much more fun.

Felicia and Ryon playing. You don't have to use body-part imagery when you play with a kid.

Eryn's and I play our first game...

A more complicated game...

And we blow up. That multi-word puzzle was rough. Not sure if you can hear it but at one point I tell her Uh uh, and she goes with Uh Huh. Or vice versa. I knew exactly what she'd done once it happened.
And Pooteewheet plays a few games with Eryn. It was amusing that they had a much harder time communicating what the shapes on the keypad were.

Friday, March 11, 2016


The presenter in the Scavengers tutorial barrels along faster than I can type, and I'm not slow.  I was pretty sure I'd miss something.  And I did.  My food and soda wouldn't pick up and it took me a long time to realize I'd misnamed my method with 2d instead of a 2D.

But what really got me wasn't something I could control.  When my level was resetting, it wouldn't recreate the board.  I changed from a deprecated method to the new loadscene version.  And then I started putting in debug.log statements (didn't I say this felt like old school VB once before?).  After trying to narrow it down, it appeared my Awake function wasn't triggering, so the board wasn't repopulating.  I compared their completed version with my version of the script, and the prefab, everything else, all to no avail.  Finally, in this five year old post (long before the current version of Unity) someone mentioned that Awake() doesn't always refire and you have to code it up under OnLevelWasLoaded() to catch logic after the first time.  I dropped it in there - cut and paste rather than appropriate refactoring - and success!  So for anyone else who's getting Awake() or InitGame() events that aren't firing when they expect them to, OnLevelWasLoaded() is a good place to call your logic again to be sure it triggers.

You can see the affect of the bug on not rebuilding subsequent levels in the video.

Monday, March 07, 2016


I messed up the animation script for the roguelike tutorial in Unity.  It's a little worrisome looking.  I said at one point he was just standing around wanking.  Seems even shadier in this video.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Adventure Game, Progress

I took a short break during some coding to go for a bike ride.  Darn nice out there, although still a bit chilly on the gloved hands if you're moving fast.

I ran into a few issues getting the basic board controller working.  I dragged the sprites onto the game objects rather than into the sprite controllers, so when I ran the board creation loops, there was nothing to create.  Had me at a loss because my code looked spot on but I was still seeing a great big empty field.  Took a lot of work to clean it all up because modifying the prefabs resulted in messing up my board controller.

The tutorial walked me through a singleton pattern attaching the game controller to the camera by checking for the singleton instance.  I'm never going to believe a Unity programmer again when they tell me they don't know any software patterns.

There's my Win32 meltdown that crashed Unity.  I'm pretty sure it's because I made an instance of the prefab and then deleted the prefab in an attempt to make a new prefab.  I can't be certain, but I suspect it's like having an instance of an object with no object?  The important thing is not to do it - very messy.