Archive for 2007

December 31, 2007

Disk Clock – A new conception of time for the OS X Dashboard.

Plugs

Ever since I got the Mac, I’ve been pining for the system monitoring applet in the Gnome panel. While I was in the midst of all my reconfiguration, I found exactly what I was looking for. iStat Menus puts essentially the same thing in the OS X menu bar. I’d actually found the application iStat while looking for a replacement earlier, but it was a window that was either in the way or constantly covered up. I used Apple’s system monitor to keep on eye on the network traffic for a while – but it auto-scaled, so you could never tell when whether you were looking at a trickle or full capacity.

I also ran across CrashPlan If I’d found these guys a year ago before I set up with rsync.net, it probably would have made things a lot easier for me. Of course, there is the untested question of whether their linux client would work on my computer, which might have been a deal breaker. Their free program allows peer-peer backup, (full, not distributed) and they also sell an online backup service.

I also found BackupPC, which is designed for backing up PCs on a LAN to a central server. It combines identical files (i.e., the 10GB or so of Windows eating up the hard drive.) Might be an interesting exercise where I work, someday.

Letter To Aspiring Game Designers

One of my relatives has a son interested in game design. Though I’m not much involved, I’ve watched it enough to be able to give something of an answer:

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t do many games anymore; those we have been done were coin-operated, and often redemption (tickets; chuck-e-cheese type stuff)

I presume by the involvement of software that you are referring to computer/video games. (I’ve also dabbled in board games, but very few people are able to make a career of it) I’ve watched the industry a bit at times, but never really been involved in it. What aspect is interested in? There is programming, art, sound, production, and even ‘design’ is specializing into story/writing and mechanics (possible called ‘game design’) Aiming smaller at the casual/web/downloadable market might be an environment were multiple talents would be more common. Things may have completely changed by the time he’s making a living on it, but that could be a place to start now.

There are a few game development schools – just don’t confuse development with design. Develop is the whole thing (programming/art/etc.) and very often their brand of ‘design’ is write up a design document and then a bunch of people go build that, whether or not it’s good. Mostly I speculate; I’ve no personal experience and they may have much brighter people than I give them credit for – just make sure they are offering what you want if looking in that direction.

Otherwise, the question of schools comes back to the area he is interested in. For true game design (which I should mention is a touch gig to get) liberal arts may actually be the best bet. See the book Rules of Play (below) for an idea of the breadth required.

I haven’t looked into tools lately. I ran across Squeak EToys recently; it’s designed as a first introduction to programming in an interactive environment. Beyond that, I’d recommend finding a game framework for a dynamic language such as Python or Ruby; I also believe there is a DarkBasic that is focused on games.

Resources:

http://www.gamasutra.com – web site tied in with a publish of game industry magazines and such (you could also subscribe to Game Developer magazine I suppose) News, articles on various topics in design, programming, and trends.

http://www.myhq.com/public/r/a/rauros/#104300261935570145 – my game design bookmarks; some are related to board games or weird abstract things about the ‘meaning’ of games and suchlike.

Books:

A Theory of Fun (Raph Koster) – fairly light essay on fun; illustrated.

Rules of Play (Katie Salen/Eric ZImmerman) – a textbook of game design, but in a broad sense – includes board and playground games in addition to computer.

Patterns in Game Design (Staffan Bjork/Jussi Holopainen) – more focused on computer games, but a little dry and perhaps not the best starter book.

Chris Crawford has written a couple of books; I believe The Art of Computer Game Design is available for free online, along with a lot of other writings. Just be aware, with respect to breaking into ‘The Industry’, Chris checked out of it a while ago, and many of his writings refer to a bygone age. http://www.erasmatazz.com/

New World Order

MacBook Pro, self picture
It appears the photo application is attempting to use the screen as a flash.

Re: title: I’ve got an audio book about Illuminati going currently (Angels & Demons)

In any case, after running windows for years (and still using it at work), then linux, I figured I might as well complete the survey of the big three operating systems. Of course, the machintosh OS has become UNIX based, so its quite likely I won’t be leaving much behind my aging linux system.

The old PC, now running on 9 years, is holding out remarkably well considering. It has had two machine check exceptions in the last week, so it may be a good time to be transferring away.

Back home

I made it back home, safe and sound. My driver’s licence didn’t, but the Denver airport has twarted it’s second escape attempt in as many days, and I should have it back soon. I think I’m going to have to refresh the tape on the card pocket in my wallet.

In spite of being completely out of sync with every one else’s travel schedule, (I needed to catch up on my reading anyway) the gathering itself was a grand old time. I got introduced to (and utterly trounced by) the legendary Talisman, discovered my complete inaptitude for MyWord, corrupted the group with Wits & Wagers, and got in a game of Castle of Magic, although my skills of manipulation are quite isufficent to pull off The Monster.

The main thing was the people of course. It was very much an intergenerational affair, as college years go, and I’d never met many of the people before. Not that it made much difference during the weekend, and many of these once-strangers were exchanging hugs as we returned to our respective homes.

41 Pounds of Junk Mail

Supposedly, the average amount a person receives in a year. I’ve started getting serious about reducing mine, and early on I got pointed to 41 Pounds, which will take care of several steps for you.

Unfortunately, a large portion of mine comes from charity solitations, which they won’t touch.

My hometown just got slashdotted

Lucky 7′s

I could probably calculate the odds on this, and perhaps find them unimpressive, but I don’t feel much like it at the moment.

Message count in three consecutive e-mailboxes:

Harp: 7
Home: 77
Lists: 777

Unimpeachable

One of my long-delayed thoughts is that appearances had no small part in my actions when I was being pressured for money.

Essentially, each person has to choose what names he will put up with being called. Given the choice between foolish and hard-hearted, I couldn’t stand the thought of head-hearted, even at steadly diminishing odds.

At times, I thought it strange that I, a person who never gambles, should be making such increasingly unlikely ‘bets’. What I’ve realized, as I write, is that the money was incidental – the real bet was trust, and from that view my reaction was quite chracteristically conservative. The only way to ‘lose’ was to refuse a genuine request for help, and that was never a risk if I never refused. Remaining unimpeachable carried more weight that what might appear to be common sense.

Art

I did finally buy that art I was thinking about. Actually, I did it a while ago, took some time to get around to getting pictures, and then just got caught up in other things. Anyway, they’ve actually been online for a little while now, I just haven’t mentioned it.

Summit Doors
A painting by Jenny Dryw, 2005. 18″ x 24″ x 3/4″
The Shore of Dreams
By Lenore Senovic (http://www.leesenovic.bravehost.com/index.html) 16×20, oilHad a terrible time getting a picture without glare, this odd angle is the best I’ve got so far.