Happy New Year! (Love One Another)posted by John Blanco @ 12:19 PM
Anyone who reads this blog probably has no idea about a certain part of my past. In the early 2000's, I worked with an alternative OS called BeOS. I wrote three applications for it -- all very good and very useful, including a Jabber client -- and even got one of the rare jobs in America writing BeOS software. (Qubit Technology)
Now, let me tell you, every time I even say BeOS, I get warm fuzzies. What I don't like is that I can't link it for you because even the Web site is long gone. :-(
Luckily, a company by the name of yellowTab has picked up the source and ran with it!
One day at work, a man named Frank, from yellowTab, IM'd me out of the blue and asked me about some of my prior software. He offered to send me Zeta, the OS, for free, and I accepted.
This was over a month ago -- today, it arrived. :-) So, this could be a glimpse into my future. Will my old apps make it on to the new platorm? Will I go back to C++ development? Will Chess Avatara fail spectacularly, leaving me to make a run at the Zeta platform?
Will Zeta hire me as an Applications Developer? ;-)
For now, I have something to play with...and it will bring back some good memories. The first thing I will install is Firefox for Zeta. :-D
As of today, I am now able to solve the Rubik's Cube without using the strategy guide, and I can do it under 5 minutes. If I had my original resolution still on my list, I'd have accomplished it before 2006 even began, which is why my time limit is lowering.
I just almost did it! ARRRGGGHHHH!
Well, I'llllll be! Merry Christmas, everyone! Michele and I are enjoying a nice, little Christmas morning together. :-) We woke up at about 7:30-ish, and were too excited so we got up and started things off!
Marauder's Map is going beta! :-) With all the features implemented on my sheet, and a few tweaks to boot...I'm now in testing mode and when everything is confirmed working, we're good to go!
The above screenshot shows all the rest of the changes from last time. There's now a program icon, two-layer support (so the chairs and table don't need the background copied in to them - awesome!), more view options, solid grid lines (the dashed caused drawing issues), amazing optimizations, and the tile window has now been docked to the bottom of the screen for easier access! :-)
I'm very happy with the results. I'll be able to put this application on Michele's machine and let her work on the tiles while I work on the game again. Come the start of the year, I'll be working on Chess Avatara once again!
Political analyst Larry Sabato commented on Senator Feingold's viability in the 2008 Presidential election in an article that came out today.
I've completed my New Year's Resolutions for 2006. Every resolution is distinct and measurable. They address .... I hope to accomplish each and every one. And aw-w-w-way we go, in no particular order:
1) Become a dad. (Round 2) :-)
2) Complete Chess Avatara and try to turn a profit.
3) Continue my ban on Wal-Mart. Ban Target. Purchase a membership to CostCo and do my big box shopping there.
4) Volunteering my heart out to get Bill Winter voted into office in the CO-6 district.
5) Witness the 2006 election results at a Democratic party of some type. :-)
6) Read at least 5 political books this year, including My Life by Bill Clinton. (A billion pages!)
7) Register and consult with CSU (Colorado State University) about finishing my degree beginning Fall '06 -- if it's possible.
8) Be able to solve a Rubik's Cube, from any position, in 2 minutes.
9) Make inroads into organizing our finances so that our money works for us, not us for our money! I must take at least 3 concrete financial steps -- including retirement plans and investing -- this year to accomplish this goal.
10) Avoid using an InsureWorx paper cup for the whole year! I've been wasteful. I will use my official InsureWorx ceramic cup instead. :-)
Christmas is just 4 little days away. :-)
Bush acknowledges allowing eavesdropping
So, I finished up 2 days of meetings at work with an odd sensation. On Thursday, I had a day of eating crap...cereal, a sausage crossainwich, lots of Coke, 4 pieces of oily pizza, and topped it off with Black Eyed Pea!
It was some time ago, about 1.5 months ago, when it was determined that I needed to write my own map editor for Chess Avatara. The one I hoped to use, a free download named TileStudio, failed miserably. It was buggy, didn't know how to handle PGN's, and exported MAP files in a manner that was hard to predict.
So, I resolved myself to writing my own. I really hesitated, because I didn't want to spent so much time writing a "tool," but now that I'm near completion of Marauder's Map, I'm happy I did it. It will make level design MUCH easier in the future!
Here's a first look at the application. First, it's written in pure Java. Second, it uses a JDesktopPane to make an MDI look-and-feel. What you see in the screenshot are two maps, one is a saved file and the other is new. I created both maps by selecting tiles from the selected tileset (does not appear), and did the save on one.
Marauder's Map does in fact support saving and exporting! In fact, the export filename is given in a properties window (does not appear), and so everytime you save the file it will automatically export. Neat feature...you don't have to worry about forgetting to sync them.
If I wanted, I could make maps right now for Chess Avatara, but there's some work left to do. First, I have a page full of bugs/features I need to address. The application has gotten a lot prettier over the last day, hence my willingness to do a screenshot. :-) Dialogs have been organized, the grid lines cleaned up, the internal windows of the MDI are auto-sized, and more. Still, I need to validate that the multiple windows don't conflict...and little details like when you close the tileset window, then try to open it again -- but it won't -- those things need to be cleaned up, too. ;-)
Once done, I will sync the new export data format to Chess Avatara, and we'll have maps! Then, finally, I can get back to work on Avatara...with my first added feature being a chat system. (Cause it's fun!)
Making progress, baby....
The dream scenario for the Broncos happened today: Broncos win, Chiefs lose, Chargers lose! The Broncs now have a full 2-game advantage on the division. No one could have forseen the 10-3 start they have! Wow! Color me impressed!
With the division all but locked up with 3 weeks to go, and the Colts clinching homefield, our full attention now goes to the Cincinatti Bengals. The Broncs and Bengals are battling for a playoff bye in the first round...and a second round home game which would likely lead to a Colts matchup in the Championship game. If the Broncos can win at least 2 of their last 3, ending up at 12-4, they will likely win the bye. (They own the tiebreaker with the Bengals right now.)
In non-football news (as if that could exist), Marauder's Map is near completion! This week I will be working on a list of enhancements/fixes/etc to bring the program to a position where I can use it effectively to create Avatara maps! I made great progress today (open/save/export functionality got in there quickly thanks to Serialization!) and can actually make the right files for Avatara...but the program is rough around the edges, and needs cleaning.
In game news, Nintendogs and Animal Crossing are progressing nicely. :-) Michele and I have unlocked 6 dogs, and I've now caught up to her in training points after being 4,000 back! I just finished paying off the first AC mortgage, but I got work to do now...Mobat has speeded past us in a huge way, as he's finished the second mortage! (125K)
Lately, I've been working more on Marauder's Map so i can get back to the fun work of Avatara -- and catching up on my new political subscriptions to The Nation and Mother Jones. Awesome buy for me! Love em. :-)
I've also gotten on the Bill Winter for Congress volunteer train. My mission right now is to keep tabs on Tom Tancredo, who holds the CO-6 seat now for the Republicans. We have a leadership meeting next week, and I hope to attend.
Yesterday, Michele and I went to our first "Second Saturday Forum," which is a monthly Democratic meeting that features breakfast and guest speakers. We enjoyed bacon, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, and OJ while watching the CO-7 Democratic candidates, Perlmutter and Lamm and Rubinstein, debate it out. It was a good meeting, the debates were not such -- no attacks -- and everything went splendidly. I hope to attend more of these in the future. (At $10 a head, maybe not every month, though.)
Now, 14 minutes til Family Guy. Time to get back on AC and do some fishing. Catch ya tomorrow.
I have 3 more starts to find in the levels of Super Mario 64 DS. :-) I'll have 125 when done. After that, I'll try to get some 100-coin jobbies...after that, I can quit. :-)
I've solved Super Mario 64 DS. Wow! The interesting thing is that years ago, when I first saw Mario 64 on a dormmate's machine, I thought it was amazing. Eventually, I got my own N64, and bought the game. I played it at times, but never got very far at all...I always remember the ? boxes being translucent, and I always remember having accomplished finding only a few stars. (There are over 120 to find.)
Since that time, I sold my N64 and all the games to my ex -- and so never came anywhere near solving Mario 64. After buying it for the DS, I found 13 stars, and then kinda lulled again...
But -- I picked it up, and once I got into it, I couldn't stop. Just as k the Yog. :-) I solved the game after finding 81 stars (you only need 80 to do it), but I spent additional time finding more stars cause the levels are so fun and challenging -- especially with the DS control scheme. (Wrist strap madness!)
I ended up with 101 stars. I'm still working on some of the levels, but pretty soon I'll likely quit as many of the stars are unaccountable and I can't remember which ones I need. Long story. :-) Great game, though. Love it.
Now for Nintendogs...OH...BTW...Michele unlocked the Pug! :-)
A year ago, I posted my 2005 New Year's Resolutions. Now, a year later, I look back on them, as well as the year in general.
1) Become a dad.
Of all the resolutions, this was the most out of my control. (For the most part, anyway...wink, wink) Unfortunately, nothing to report so far. Michele and I are still trying though. And heck, we still got a month left, no?
2) Read and Understand "Head First Design Patterns" inside and out.
Done and done. This happened quickly...I finished the thing in a week! I learned a lot and have tried to apply them as much as possible. Some patterns came easily, others I haven't had the chance to work out in practice. But my mind is thinking the right way...and this is a good thing.
3) Start and Complete the Taliant Phlasher's Notes.
Amazingly, I did in fact do this! There's no official document, but check out the next resolution. I maintain on my machine at work a UML document of common tasks and their API. This is a great way to manage this kind of reference, and I didn't forsee it last year. My notes have scored me loads of saved time...and I hope to reinforce these notes even more this year!
4) Master UML.
Well, I didn't master UML...but, it turned out to be impossible. What I did, however, is learn Class Diagrams and Sequence Diagrams very, very well and I actually draw them in sketch. The days of learning and forgetting over and over seem done...and UMl is now in my brain. :-)
Will I ever master it? I guess I'd have to be at the right company. We just don't use it officially at InsureWorx, but I do use it personally...at work AND with my personal projects. :-)
5) Earn a promotion at work.
Yes. :-) A few months in to the year, I was promoted to Senior Software Engineer and given a raise. :-) I'm actually still underpaid, so hopefully another raise will come this year?
Also, when the new teams were formed, I was given a spot on the Base team, which is an ideal position at any company. Directing the technology is a big responsibility. While the team hasn't been as revolutionary as I'd hoped...it's still pretty sweet.
I look forward to a possible techonology change this year (JSF?) and hopefully another promotion or raise.
6) Complete at least one serious game project as part of a Bite Size Studios launch. (Counterpart not included)
This was half done. :-) First of all, Bite Size Studios is dead. Combine a graphics artist who fell off the face of the Earth (Al) and a slacker sound designed (Sam) and you get a dismantled project. As I was the only one doing any kind of work, I decided to just do it all myself.
Counterpart was completed and shipped. It sold 0 copies. The cell phone market is not what I expected. People want some flare, they merely want to show off their phone to their friend...no one wants any kind of serious game. Oh, well.
But, a new, and definitely large-scale project did start...Chess Avatara. It wasn't BSS, but ya can't forsee that...the key is that I'm working on a large project and it is fun and good. :-) It's killed me emotionally at times, but I know that when it comes time to call it gold, it will be a satisfying thing and a great memory in my life!
7) Learn Pixel Art.
Done. I actually used some of my new skillz to design my cool Democrats logo in Mario Kart DS. :-) Counterpart also got some snazzy graphics, for a beginner anyway, and hopefully Chess Avatara will see the same once I start working on them.
8) Give a smiling "Hello," to a stranger (walking down a hallway, on the street, etc.) at least once a day.
I actually did this. What I learned is not everyone had this same thing on their list. :-) And note to self...don't tell jokes to Target employees. Michele saw the carnage first-hand today...the guy didn't make a sound.
9) Engage in one conversation per week with a stranger or unfamiliar co-worker in the office.
As above, I did this...but it didn't always work out. :-) The good news is that I now talk to my co-worker sitting in the cube in front of me. Of course, the old guy left...but the new guy is quite talkative.
10) Perform at least 5 acts of charity.
DONE! It all came in the form of monetary donations, but you'll be seeing on my 2006 Resoutions that more activities will take their place. Here's the 2005 list:
* Donation to Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Peace House.
* Donation to the Democratic National Committee.
* Donation to UNICEF for Tsunami Relief efforts.
* Donation to the Red Cross for Katrina Relief efforts.
* Donation to the homeless shelters of Colorado.
11) Reach the 175 pound mark.
Close! I'm at the 180 mark. My diet took me down 18 pounds and is quite easy to maintain. :-)
12) Declare a "faith." (Deist, Agnostic, Atheist, etc.)
I believe I'm Deist -- but I still don't know -- so I guess I'm agnostic. While I don't *believe* in a God, I am definitely believing that *something* started life...and that *something* did not create humans.
And this God who created life is not around to help us -- so stop praying for a new video game this year, would ya please? :-)