Thursday, September 29, 2005

Introducing, Winter Skye...

posted by John Blanco @ 8:58 PM


I picked up an official copy of Guild Wars today and got to work building a character. I decided on the Elementalist, who I named Winter Skye. She's essentially a magician, and pretty cute to boot. ;-)

She started off her adventures doing some basic quests, and then worked her way up to some tougher battles that netted her some new skills. I shall enjoy these! I can now summon a meteor storm, in addition to more basic attacks.

I've posted some pics of her early adventures. Enjoy...

Winter Skye

posted by John Blanco @ 8:57 PM


Winter in front of the castle at Ascalon

Winter in the Buff!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:56 PM


With a bod like hers, why not show it off?! :-) Here she is in her best Playboy pose...

Gimme Skale Fins!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:54 PM


Your introduction into battle happens at Laketown County, where you must acquire Skale Fins to impress your mentor.

Winter at Wizard's Folly, in the Winter!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:54 PM


At Wizard's Folly, you'll learn some new skills which are a bit more interesting and powerful than the first two you come across back in Laketown County...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

RPG Heaven, Weighing In, and Meatballs

posted by John Blanco @ 9:12 PM


This was probably the most game'ingest week I've had since I left for college 10 years ago. :-)

It all began a week ago; last Friday. I was getting an RPG bug. RPG meaning Role Playing Game. Bug meaning that I've been in a feeding frenzy for this genre that really hadn't been playing too much before.

So, Friday night, Michele and I rented "Paper Mario 2: The Thousand-Year Door." This is a GameCube game that came out earlier in the year.

We played it a bit Friday night, but Saturday morning is when the run began. As usual, I played the game, while the Yog played wingman. We battled through for hours...around 8 or so Saturday. Sunday was much the same, Paper Mario almost all day. By the end, we were almost halfway through the game!

Also during this time, I downloaded a trial version of "Guild Wars." My friend Sean, at work, told me about this game a couple months ago, and I was interested in trying it since. I'd hesitated buying it because I wasn't sure how well my laptop would be able to handle it. In fact, I uninstalled the demo TWICE before figuring out that I could get it to play quite well with the right settings. :-)

So I played through some GW scenarios to see if I liked the game and, WOW, do I like this game. So, I'm getting it! I'll start my real game next week sometime.

Back to PM2, Michele and I played it Tuesday night as well and we've gotten 5/7 of the way through the game. (You must find the 7 Crystal Stars.) It's an incredible game, if incredibly lengthy. We've played for almost 24 hours of accumulated time!

Alas, it was a rental, and we had to return it tonight. Fortunately for the modern consoles, the save game sits safely on our memory card, and we merely need to rent it again in a week or two to finish it out from where we left it. :-) And, we will...


As for my is COMPLETE! On Monday morning, I woke up to a weight of 178.5! My goal weight was 180, but I wasn't going to quit until I saw the 170's. The diet, though, will continue...I'm just adjusting two things:

* I'm no longer keeping my food journal.
* I'm allowing myself the occasional 2500+ calorie day.

This just means that I'm allowed to go to Cinzetti's on occassion, and pizza is OK. In fact, I've still stuck to my diet since the big day.


The other big news is that one of my best friends, Mr. Chris Calabro, is coming to visit!!! Yeah!!! He's coming October 24th, and we have big plans!

Among the planned events are a tour of Invesco Field (and you get to go on the field!), a trip to Idaho Springs, a trip to Estes Park, a Halloween Party and Haunted House hopping with the Adventure Club, Dave and Buster's, and more!!! Can't wait, Chris!



This weekend is the in-laws' anniversary. We're headed to Heritage Square for a show. Always entertaining. Also, next week, as I said, I will be immersing a bit in Guild Wars...but rest will not deter me...from...


Avatara hasn't seen a code change in a week, but I am designing out the gameplay feature. Some workarounds are in order for now as the gameplay will depend on the new map editor, which isn't scheduled to be worked on until after the gameplay is worked through. For now, having one player sit in a "white" chair and another in a "black" chair will suffice to start a game.

Here's what is going in to Avatara this month:

* The sit/stand command.
* Game classes on the server side to handle move broadcasts.
* A playable chessboard hooked up to the chess engine I wrote last month.

When done, it will be rough, but you'll be able to play a game nonetheless. The neat stuff like chess clocks, stored results, and other glitter will not be there yet...but those are all distinct parts that will come in time.

Well, time for me to get to sleep. I have a big day of sitting in the truck and getting the shit kicked out of me tomorrow. Night!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Goal Weight Met!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by John Blanco @ 9:29 AM



Guild Wars

posted by John Blanco @ 5:18 AM


OK, I did start playing Guild Wars. :-) Here is my character...Zablanc the Dark. Ain't she cute?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Most Anticipatory Event in 2008

posted by John Blanco @ 7:29 PM


Today Is The Day!!

posted by John Blanco @ 6:09 AM


Today is the day! One of the largest protests in US history will be taking place in Washington DC today! Keep your eyes peeled....,

Friday, September 23, 2005

RPG Adventures

posted by John Blanco @ 7:15 PM


Well, I'm looking for a good RPG to occupy some of my leisure time. I tried Guild Wars, but my laptop is not too happy about it. So, I went with the Nintendo plan. I rented "Paper Mario 2" and it's an awesome treat. The challenge will be, aside from the game, solving it by Wednesday. This'll be a fun weekend. ;-)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just Played Guild Wars...

posted by John Blanco @ 7:30 PM


OMG it would take me years to get to level 2. ;-) Note to Self: Playing with the default play controls would lead to my insanity.

OK, now that I've seen a vivid, kick-ass cool 3-D world for an MMORPG, I now feel like an idiot for Chess Avatara. :-) But ya know what? I'm still doin' it!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Neo-Con Ethic

posted by John Blanco @ 5:19 PM


Dear Vagina: The Broncos Won.

posted by John Blanco @ 11:37 AM


Wow. The Broncos went out on Sunday and saved the god damn season. I didn't see that happening when it was halftime when I told Michele the Bronco season was 30 minutes from over. :-)

Down 14-3, and looking sloppy...the Broncos started the 3rd quarter with a Champ Bailey interception return for a TD! Followed by some more offensive gaffes (pretty much the whole game til the end), the Broncos got the ball back with 5 minutes left in the game and DID NOT give it back until there was 5 seconds left...with a 20-17 lead to keep over the Chargers. HOORAY! :-)

Next week, we get the Chiefs on Monday Night. I love MNF games...can't wait. They win, they take 1st place 3 weeks in. They lose, lots of crying. The Chiefs are TOUGH.


Avatara is also going quite swimmingly. I'm over halfway done with the chess engine, with piece movement, check-test, move history, and several test cases all working. I'm working on getting the mate test done next. Tricky, but I've done it before. After that, the draw-tests need to get done. Nothing killer for me.

I should be done by the end of the month.

I'm also progressing in Final Fantasy, the new game I'm playing on the GBA. :-) I just found the Crown for the King at the Western Keep...whoo hoo-ie!

OK...big stretch of work here the rest of the day...time to get 'er done.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Exercise and Diet in Action

posted by John Blanco @ 6:28 AM


Well, you've seen my weight chart. Today, I weighed in at 180.5. :-) I am .5 pounds from my goal wieght, and a pound from what I want to see the scale read. (The 170's) Then, I can relax the diet, and have the occassional fun day. But, I'll still be sticking to the basic diet and avoiding intra-meal snacks.

Yesterday and today, exercise is ramping up. Yeech! Yesterday, I joined Vincen and friends for some tag football. It was fun -- though I mostly played blocker. Burned off a lot and my body felt good!

Today, we're doing the National Kidney Foundation charity walk! 1.5 miles...and we've raised over $300, so it was a success! Plus, we expect to have our current $307 figure raised when all walkers report.

After the walk, Kevin and Michele and I (and a guest) are headed down for our annual Devil's Head walk. :-) If you read this post from last year, you'll see we've been there before. This is actually my third year in a row going and it's always fun! I'll post a picture this year, now that we have the digicam.

And then hopefully Michele and I will be back home by 2:15 to see the Broncos' home opener versus the Chargers! We're ordering pizza and enoying the game together! And tonight, we'll likely bake a little treat for ourselves on this exercisi-rific day!

OK, that last line was lame. :-)

Gotta go!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Welcome, the Nintendo Revolution!

posted by John Blanco @ 5:09 AM


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Avatara-y Goodess

posted by John Blanco @ 8:23 PM


Well, I'm an idiot. A couple months ago, I wanted my friend Jay to try out the Chess Avatara demo I had by moving the server and the client download to the Bite Size Studios Web site.

Unfortunately, since the server is a cheap, web-hosting server, they didn't allow the capability to run a custom process. The firewall stopped me. I was dissapointed, and the experiment failed.

Since that time, I've pined for the day when I could run Avatara onb a public server so friends and family on the Internet could try it out. It would not only be a testing opportunity to see how this puppy handles latency (a local process just can't truly replicate that), but it would just be satisfying and motivating to see it succeed. :-)

This morning, I was really itching to find a server. I was looking up prices for renting dedicated servers. The lowest I could find was $70/month.

Could I really justify that expense for another 6 months of development?! Michele would surely kill me. ;-)

And then it occurred to me...why haven't I just used my laptop?!

OMG - I was staring right at my solution. My laptop was a server. I guess in all the excitement of running my software on Linux to show Java's WORA (write once, run anywhere) abilities, I forgot to realize that my laptop was serving as a perfectly fine server! :-)

So, I got home today...changed a couple settings, and was already serving up Avatara! Unfortunately, I had a couple of people at work try it and they ran into trouble. First was a simple JNLP adjustment. Then, I was seeing "black screen" issues. Luckily, it was replicable on my machine....and after an hour or so of seeing the issue, and seeing the fix, but still having it fail -- I realized my brain had failed me and that my fix was a fake, and then I fixed it for real.

So now I sit here waiting to test it again, but no one is around. How sad. Well, either later tonight or tomorrow, Avatara will see it's first public usage. Very exciting. I'm not extra motivated. :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Good Food, Good Gaming, and Suckitude!

posted by John Blanco @ 2:49 PM


Busy weekend.

I took the day off from work Friday so that Michele and I could go up to Estes Park and attend the Irish Festival. It was awesome. Irish dancing, Irish puppies, Irish gaming, Irish shopping, and lots of sugary goodness. ;-)

Afterwards, we saw the 40-year-old virgin, and that movie was HI-larious! I strongly recommend! But don't go with your parents. ;-)

On Saturday, we went to my nephew's 2nd birthday party. Meatball subs for food, and entertainment watching that little guy get overwhelmed by presents. :-)

On was T-I-M-E! Football is back! Sadly, not yet for the Broncos...

I passed up a trip to Mt. Evans with my friends to stay and watch the Broncos play their opener. BIG mistake. The Broncos got taken to the woodshed by the Miami Dolphins, a team predicted to end up in last place.

Not a great way to start the year. :-(

Later on, I did meet up with the gang in Idaho Springs to enjoy some Beau Joe's. of my favorite places.

My fantasy team had better fortunes...the Insane Fuschia Monkey Riot managed to score the top point total of the first week. :-) We're 1-0! Last year, I started 0-5...yikes.

Avatara is on track as well. I have my chess engine under the microscope, upgraded to Java 5, and I'm even using JUnit to handle my testing which will be a HUGE benefit! Automated and regressive testing as I go...excellent. Now I can feel free to break my code, and be assured I'll catch errors quickly. ;-)

Also, on the last level of Minish Cap. One more dungeon to go!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Football Season is Here!

posted by John Blanco @ 4:16 PM


It's Bronco time!!!! T minus 18 hours til the Broncos kick off the 2005-06 season! Whoo hooo!

I've got my fantasy team primed and ready to start things off, and my orange blue boys are looking to turn it around this year...not with new players, but with better talent!

Let's Go Broncos!

As for Avatara, I'm working on the chess engine whilst I await my new Swing book. :-) Oh, how slow the time goes...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My Weight Chart and Avatara News

posted by John Blanco @ 11:31 AM


This is my weight chart. About 11 weeks ago, I started a new diet I designed myself. It's a calorie-diet. I calculated how many calories a 180-pound, moderately active male, would need per day. That ended up being about 2,500 calories for me.

Then, I stuck to that number. I made a few substitutions in my diet to keep the calories down. Pretzels instead of chips. One slice of bread for a sandwich instead of two. C2 over Coke. Water over soda at restaurants. Chicken Caesar Salad over Qdoba.

Slowly, but surely, the weight has come off. I lose about a pound and a half a week. My official weigh-in day is Sunday. I've been keeping an Excel graph of my weight loss, and there it is. :-)

The diet has been drop-dead easy. I've rarely made any kind of serious sacrifice. The only trouble I ever have is at work, when I wouldn't mind chowing on some goodies as the day drags on. I've adjusted my eating habit so I delay eating breakfast til 8:30 (I usually get in at least an hour earlier), so that I get less hungry before lunch.

According to the trend line, I have a little more than 2 weeks to go on this thing. :-) I've already told the Yog I will celebrate with something nifty when I'm done: either a giant bag of chocolate flipz, Dairy Queen, or KFC. ;-)


On to Avatara News. Chess Avatara is being delayed. The problem is that the map editor tool that I was going to use is showing its shortcomings. I have been unable to find a suitable replacement. :-( So, I am faced with writing my own tool, to do specifically what I need it to do. On one hand, it will delay Avatara about a month as I write it -- however, it's also kind of a good thing, because Avatara's design was morphing a bit based on the limitations of the tool I was using.

So, I will design an editing tool. :-) Perhaps, if it's good enough, I can use it on future projects as well. Who knows?

It'll be written in Java, of course. :-)

Other miscellaneous news...I've finished books 1 and 2 of Harry Potter, and I am on chapter 5 of The Prisoner of Azkaban now. I'm really liking re-reading this book, because the other two were so familiar to me because I've seen the movies too many times. I only saw Azkaban once, so everything seems so new and surprising. Nice!

Today, going to the in-laws to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. I shall continue, of course, to eat well. ;-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Katrina Disaster

posted by John Blanco @ 9:53 AM


WASHINGTON - Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck — a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.

California troops just began arriving in Louisiana on Friday, three days after flood waters devastated New Orleans and chaos broke out.

In fact, when New Orleans' levees gave way to deadly flooding on Tuesday, Louisiana's National Guard had received help from troops in only three other states: Ohio, which had nine people in Louisiana then; Oklahoma, 89; and Texas, 625, figures provided by the National Guard show.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, who leads the Michigan National Guard, said he anticipated a call for police units and started preparing them, but couldn't go until states in the hurricane zone asked them to come.

"We could have had people on the road Tuesday," Cutler said. "We have to wait and respond to their need."

The Michigan National Guard was asked for military police by Mississippi late Tuesday and by Louisiana officials late Wednesday. The state sent 182 MPs to Mississippi on Friday and had 242 headed to Louisiana on Saturday.

With many states' Guard units depleted by deployments to
Iraq, Katrina's aftermath was almost certain from the beginning to require help from faraway states.

Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress are just beginning to ask why one of the National Guard's most trusted roles — disaster relief — was so uneven, delayed and chaotic this time around.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said the situation has shown major breakdowns in the nation's emergency response capabilities. "There must be some accountability in this process after the crisis is addressed," he said.

Democrat Ben Nelson, Nebraska's other senator, said he now questions National Guard leaders' earlier assertions that they had enough resources to respond to natural disasters even with the Iraq war.

"I'm going to ask that question again," Nelson said. "Do we have enough (troops), and if we do, why were they not deployed sooner?"

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My Fantasy Team

posted by John Blanco @ 6:37 PM


Here it is...not bad, not bad...


Peyton Manning (#10 overall, very late...)
Eli Manning

Running Backs:

Corey Dillon
DeShaun Foster
Ricky Williams
Willie Parker

Wide Receivers:

Drew Bennett
Nate Burleson
T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Brandon Stokely
Troy Williamson
Muhsin Muhammad (this could be a real late-round steal!)

Tight Ends:

Randy McMichael
Ben Troupe (sleeper)


Jeff Reed