Monday, October 31, 2005

Calabro Trip Complete; Blog Hiatus

posted by John Blanco @ 6:30 AM


Calabro has left the building! A grand vacation filled with lots of fun is done, and my great friend from New York is now back at home, back at work, and the Yog and I are back to the quiet household. :-)

We had a great time! Unfortunately, and most sadly, there is a small trauma that has befallen us!

No, it's not that I am Kermit-sounding sick, which I am. I'm home from work today which I positively hate, but it's better than bringing my disease in with me.

The problem is my laptop has died. :-( Yesterday, it made some sick noises, and now it's unbootable. I will be limping it to Best Buy today for service. It doesn't sound good. My guess is that the hard drive will be dead...but hopefully it's ttttttttt...WHOA, the wireless keyboard just died, too! (Replaced batteries.) What's up, maaaaaaaaaan? :-)

Yeah, so I hope to hope that the hard drive data can be saved. :-( I backed up my Avatara work before Chris got here (I'm pretty sure), but I also have tons of MP3's burned on there and the big blow is this: All the vacation pics of Chris's trip are on there. If I lose the data, EVERY photo from the trip is gone. :-((

So, very depressed right now. But, I'll bring in the laptop and we'll see what can be done...


As for the blog, it's on hiatus til I get back to things. I mean, I have no pics to show, so what's the frickin point?

As for a quick summary of other updates...the Yog and I got our Nintendo DS's (teal and pink), I am down 50 in fantasy league and have Roth/Parker/Reed tonight and some hope for a miracle, and I supposedly go back to work tomorrow. :-) As for now, I'm home, and need some health food.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Calabro Time!

posted by John Blanco @ 12:07 PM


A long and arddddddduous weekend, prepping the Burrow for Calabro, but in a few hours, he'll be on a plane here to crazy Colorado! :-)

So we've vacuumed, polished, raked, painted, organized, and cleaned...all for you Chris! YOU!

Definitely have good plans this week...should be a great week! But, in the meantime, there' more to do...

Today is Nintendo DS day. We're buying out Nintendogs packs, but it's not going so well. Best Buy didn't display it (and no one was around to help) and helpless GamSpot, fast ending up on my shitlist, doesn't get it til tomorrow...they "think." Can they be any more the XBox whores thay are?

Do you think people will come in there on November 22nd and not find XBox 360's? of course not!

GET THE DAMN DS PACKAGE IN ONT HE DAY IT'S RELEASED, SHMUCKS!, I need to get a headlight replaced, too. So, a busy afternoon...a lot to do still before picking up Chris. But it will get done. See ya soon!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


posted by John Blanco @ 4:38 PM


Well, they played great...probably better than the Giants, but with :05 left, the Broncos lost it by a point. Elam missed a field goal late which would've iced it...suc, suck, suck! :-)

Still, Broncos look good. Five games in a row without a turnover -- until no time on the clock when they fumbled away a lateral. (The record books will call it a fumble, but common sense says the Broncos are controlling the ball well!)

Now, next week versus the Eagles becomes a bigger game. We get that one at HOME.

Go Broncos!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:46 AM


Broncos take on the NY Giants today in the Meadowlands. It's where Jimmy Hoffa is buried...and hopefully soon, Jeremy Shockey. :-)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Have You Seen This Sign?

posted by John Blanco @ 11:02 AM


This is a picture of our yard sign. It's based on the sole referendum in our state; well, at least, for our county. It's been in my yard a week, but on Thursday morning Michele and I discovered that it had been stolen!

Not only that, but two of our neighbors had their signs stolen as well. Cowards! Well, Democrats aren't defeated easily (at least, not in Presidential elections...), and by Friday afternoon -- each and every one of us has replaced our signs!

So, to the cowards out there who "love their country" so much that they tried to stifle our free speech -- YOU GOIN' DOWN!

When we rescue ourselves from these imbeciles, ones who vote against their own state, this country will be a better place.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

posted by John Blanco @ 9:07 AM


George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are
flying on Air Force One. Bush turns to Cheney and says,
chuckling, "You know, I could throw a $1000 bill out the window right now and make someone very happy."

Cheney shrugs and replies, "Well, I could throw
ten $100 bills out the window and make ten people happy."
Not to be outdone, Rumsfeld says, "Well I could throw a hundred
$10 bills out the window and make a hundred people happy."

The pilot rolls his eyes and says to his co-pilot, "Such
arrogant; asses back there. Hell, I could throw them all out the window and make millions of people happy."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Winter's New Clothes

posted by John Blanco @ 7:19 PM


Winter Skye now has a complete Pyromancer outfit. Pretty nifty. :-) For about an hour, I had a whole new Elementalist outfit, too. I have kept that outfit, though likely won't wear it anymore. (Pyromancer is stronger!)

Coordinated Attack!

posted by John Blanco @ 7:19 PM


The newer areas allow for 4-man teams. It has been real fun...solving the quests shoots your EXP up a ton!

Forbidden Creature

posted by John Blanco @ 7:18 PM


Don't mess with that puppy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"When The President Talks To God" by Bright Eyes

posted by John Blanco @ 6:43 AM


"When The President Talks To God" by Bright Eyes

When the president talks to God
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to rape our women’s' rights
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Are the consonants all hard or soft?
Is he resolute all down the line?
Is every issue black or white?
Does what God say ever change his mind
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
Agree which convicts should be killed?
Where prisons should be built and filled?
Which voter fraud must be concealed
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
I wonder which one plays the better cop
We should find some jobs. the ghetto's broke
No, they're lazy, George, I say we don't
Just give 'em more liquor stores and dirty coke
That's what God recommends

When the president talks to God
Do they drink near beer and go play golf
While they pick which countries to invade
Which Muslim souls still can be saved?
I guess god just calls a spade a spade
When the president talks to God

When the president talks to God
Does he ever think that maybe he's not?
That that voice is just inside his head
When he kneels next to the presidential bed
Does he ever smell his own bullshit
When the president talks to God?

I doubt it

I doubt it

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The New World Chess Champion!

posted by John Blanco @ 11:10 AM


Veselin Topalov!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Week That Was; The Week That Will

posted by John Blanco @ 8:37 AM


A work-shorted week, a fun weekend, and now it's Monday again. So, time to summarize the week that was...

As if you couldn't tell, I've been doing a lot of Avatara coding. When I bought Guild Wars, I was worried that it would cut into my valuable personal venture time...and it did for a couple weeks. But now, it's the other way around. :-)

Avatara has sure been fun. In one of the rare times during this project...which began on March 24th, 2005...I actually beat a deadline. I had said just a couple weeks ago that I intended on having a playable game of chess done by Halloween. Well, it's already done, and there's even some neat bells and whistles coded in that I didn't think would be there til much later. :-)

Check out the new screenshot below. You'll see the following:

* A completely playable chess board...with better testing that includes JUnit.

* A customized "skin" for the chess set, which in this case includes a "basic" skin of black and white. Any look-and-feel is supported. Includes rank/file notations.

* Red-lining to denote the last move made.

* Inverted view for Black, so the color you are (the player) always plays from the bottom.

* Sound effects for moves, checks, draws, and checkmates. (Trust me.) Temporarily stolen from, but I look forward to recording new sounds down the road. :-)

* Draggable pieces to move. You may only drag pieces that you control.

Michele and I managed to play a couple games, and only ran into one issue, which has been fixed (Pawn promotion). It seems super-solid now, which is exciting, because the last time I did a Java project like this, I never quite got the chess engine working correctly. Luckily, thanks to JUnit and a better history mechanism for the ChessBoard class, I think I got it all straight now. :-)

Very exciting stuff. I have some more features I need to do before the coding downtime hits when Calabro comes to town on the 24th...but I will focus on one major feature: window resizing.


This weekend, Michele and I took on some nice relaxation and did a lot of playin'.

We ressurected Animal Crossing, starting a new town and new characters. My goal is to get what I failed to complete last entire chess set, one piece at a time. I'm going for a checkerboard theme, and I WILL attain it! In the meantime, I need to hold off Michele from wiping me on the floor in terms of progress. ;-)

We also enjoyed the Bronco game yesterday, treating ourselves to some yummy-yumm-yummy NY pizza and garlic knots. :-) Delicious! And the Broncos whooped butt, too!

We also had a nice little jaunt to Sonic...we walked there from our house, and then enjoyed lunch sitting on the benches. It was beautiful Saturday, and it was very nice to hang out with the Yog. I want to make this Sonic thing a regular deal. Yummy!

On Friday night, we watched Monty Python's The Meaning of Life which is as funny as I remembered it...

"Is there something else you'd RATHER do than marching up and down the SQUARE?!?!?!?!"


And now the new week. Just heard this morning that Al Franken is coming to town November 16th! Gonna try to snag free tickets either today or tomorrow after work. Need to stop by Monaco. Should be fun! I wanted to get his new book which is coming out next week anyway, but now I can wait til November and buy a copy signed by Al! Can't wait to meet him!

OK, signing off for now...Ciao!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Avatara Moving Along :-)

posted by John Blanco @ 8:09 PM


Thursday, October 13, 2005

What 6 Months Buys You...

posted by John Blanco @ 8:55 PM


Six months of casual development, and I can offer a new screenshot. We're getting closer. :-) What you see is my desktop, with three windows: 2 game screens, and a world screen.

The 2 game screens represent a game in progress, between Yogi and Loki The Great. The third screen is the world view of Lester The Bunny. Note, you can see the two other players playing at the table. Some things to see:

* The games are in sync. They really are playing! When one player moves, the other player sees it, and can then respond.

* Multi-player works. There are three distinct connections at the moment.

* Multi-screen works. We see both the game screens and the world screens. When playing a game, the player will see the chessboard...and only then. (Game watching comes later.)

Of course, there is so much more to do! And there's a couple little buggies, and I do need to clean up some code. But, what a great base to work from.

Thinking about it this way...with a working world and working gaming, everything builds off this foundation nicely! Here are some features that will be built over the coming months:

* Map Editor - This needs to be written to create the rooms. The editor I'm using now, Tile Studio, pretty much sucks for general use.

* Graphics - All the graphics are temporary. They are placeholders until I'm done. Both Michele and my friend Ramon will hopefully be able to help out as I go.

* Chat - There will be in-game chat, and it should be fun to write. :-)

* Ratings - There will be ratings calculated based on game results.

* Login - Currently, connecting to the server merely wins you a randomized username. Ultimately, you will be usiing your very own login/password to get in to the system.

There's a ton more to do, but like I said, building off this foundation will make it more fun. I still have at least 6 more months to will be a long stretch.

Unfortunately, the next step is writing the map editor. This will be a completely separate application, and will advance me no further on the game. It was unforseen, and will add to the timeline. But it's necessary.

Hopefully, I can get it done within a month, and then I will be able to create interesting rooms in Avatara and finally soldify the world code and allow me to expand in all areas from there.

Those Bastards Will Pay!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:55 PM


Those bastards will pay for what they've done...grrrrrr...The screenshot above is Ascalon City. Compare this image with this previous blog post.

The Charr found a way to destroy The Wall, and 2 years after the time of Ascalon and the Guild Wars, the place was seared. We call it the Searing. It is up to us to destroy the Charr, and hopefully restore what was lost.

Guild Wars is a truly great game. I look forward to advancing through this new world. Dye Traders, Armor Crafters, and more highlight this new land...that is an old one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Baseball Gods Love Me!

posted by John Blanco @ 5:04 AM


Another Successful Baseball Year!

posted by John Blanco @ 5:02 AM


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Playable Board

posted by John Blanco @ 7:52 PM


For what seems like the 4th time in my programming history...because it IS...I have coded a playable chess board. :-)

This is the 3rd time I've written it in Java, but this marks the best time...because this is for Chess Avatara...a product that has more promise than any I've done. What you see is a chess board, drawn pretty simply for now, where I have made chess moves. Aside from minor annoyances, I'm only some protocol away from making it possible to play a game of chess on Avatara.

TONS of bells and whistles to take care of, of course. But once the meat is ready, making the sandwich is not only pretty easy, bun fun as all hell.

And I'll be spending a lot of work on that tomorrow. ;-) Night for now.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Our Guild! Of Mice and Men...

posted by John Blanco @ 9:12 PM


Richard and I started our own guild a week ago...and finally, I've earned enough for the cape! Here it is...snazzy, eh? 2,000 gold! Man, that took a while!

Nekked Mesmer!

posted by John Blanco @ 9:12 PM


One of the characters I may choose for my next go. I don't like the conservative clothing they start with, but they have a good nekked look. ;-)

Enough of Her, What About You?!

posted by John Blanco @ 8:54 AM


OK, OK, I'm guilty. I've been blogging a little too much about Winter Skye, and ignoring me. So, here's my own update. :-)

Fresh off of the end of my diet, I have been indulging in such missed delicacies as KFC, magic cookie bars, and the like. Mind you, I am still eating well...but I'm just allowing myself to splurge every so often. I am still mainting in the 170's, which feels so good!

Avatara has been accelrating lately. I'll soon be posting screenshots of the chess game feature. I have the board drawing code done, though it needs a refactor. Today and Monday, I'll be working on the code to play a a game of chess. I thought it would take me til Halloween, but I will be much earlier than that!

It helps that I have Monday off from work, and I hopt to invest 5-6 of those hours into Avatara that day.

Today, Michele, my mother-in-law, my right-wing brother-in-law, and I are doing some yard work. It starts in 10 minutes. Then, at around 2 PM, the Angels-Yankees game comes on. The Angels need to win 1 of the next 2 to eliminate the hated Yankees. Hometown boy Shawn Chacon is pitching for the Spankees today, but I'll have to not root for him this go around as this is the postseason now. ;-) (Chacon was raised in nearby Greeley, CO)

Tomorrow, the AC gang reassembled for a Halloween day. Pumpkin patches and the like...though it may be verrry cold. We're expecting snow on Monday!

Oh, and we solved Paper Mario 2. Whew! 36 hours to do it!

So, in Avatar-y weekend, lawn work before the coming frost, Yankees-Angels, and likely more Guild Wars as I may start a new character and play with Michele who will be joining in. :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A New Look Winter

posted by John Blanco @ 9:18 PM


I'm starting to get a new wardrobe in GW, and making big strides. The starter Apprentice's clothes are almost all replaced -- you can see most of my new outfit here. I now have Elementalist's clothes on, except for the boots and tiara...which I'm still working on. Lookin' good!

I'm adding red trim to my outfit as well, though you don't see it here. In the next few days, I hope to be fully upgraded and fully red.

Also, I have better weapon choices. I now have a customized sword and wand. The upside to the wand is it's more powerful than the starter rod, but the downside is it's two-handed, and therefore I can'd hold my shield with it. It's OK though, I've been favoring my sword as I'm now half-Warrior. :-)


posted by John Blanco @ 9:18 PM


Here's some neat scenery from this evening...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Richard and Me

posted by John Blanco @ 9:01 PM


My work buddy Richard and I did some partying tonight...finally, we got together to do it! He's a Ranger/Elementalist. We also started our own guild, too! It's called "Of Mice And Men" (Tag: OMAM). Now we just need to raise $2,000 gold to design a cape! ;-)

Winter and Dunadian

posted by John Blanco @ 5:31 AM


Last night, Winter felt strong enough to take on some quests with a partner. Here, Dunadian Ranger joins in the fighting.

If you look at the bottom of the screen where the available spells are, you'll see there's more! Winter learned two new Elementalist spells, both lightnight spells, and also became -- a WARRIOR! Yes, Warrior is her chosen second profession.

One of her first goals upon leaving Ascalon, the sort of tutorial/starter area, is to become quite proficient with a take advantage of those Warrior skills.

Worshipping Dwayna

posted by John Blanco @ 5:30 AM


Winter Skye visited the Statue of Dwayna, one of the old Gods of Tyria. The broken wing I believe is respresented in the Lore of Tyria, when Mhenlo finds it broken upon the defeat of Ascalon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Guild Wars Dance Party!

posted by John Blanco @ 9:25 PM


Winter Skye gets down and funky at a dance party in Ascalon City whilst a nekked Necromancer looks on.

Say wha?

posted by John Blanco @ 9:23 PM


OK, apparently I'm being introduced to something, new? The Yanks won game 2 today, and they win the division?! What about a tie-breaker?! Apparently, they won the season series and that decides it. Very odd. Is this a new rule?

Oh well, time for my usual rooting against the Yanks in the playoffs! Blech!

In better baseball news, the Mets clinched 3rd place, at least a 4-over-.500 record, and has a pretty damn good year. A lot of young players to build off of: Wright, Reyes, Seo, Jacobs...and tomorrow is Mike Piazza's swan song.

Hot one last homer for us, bud. We love you.

Red Sox Take Game 1

posted by John Blanco @ 6:44 AM


The final Baseball series is upon us...Yankees at Red Sox!! Here's the beakdown:

* If Red Sox win all 3, they win division and Yankees may miss playoffs.

* If Red Sox win 2 of 3, they force one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium.

* If Red Sox win 1 of 3, the Yankees win the division and the Red Sox are likely out of the playoffs.

* If Red Sox lose all 3, the Yankees win the division and the Red Sox are done for the year.

Well the RED SOX win game 1! Game 2 is today at 11 AM...