Dumpage

Well…I haven’t been posting here much.

Why? Has nothing happened to me?

Oh, no. Quite the opposite.

But none of it has been good.

I don’t like posting about bad things…but the thing is, I created this blog so I could post about anything…and then I haven’t been using my newfound superpower.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t had any more heart problems.

But I now have some anxiety problems. I’m currently on some mild medication to help, but the thing that would really help is if some of the sources of stress in my life would resolve.

Unfortunately, none of them want to.

The job situation is dire. I’ve had exactly one in-person interview, and even though they really liked me, I didn’t have the necessary skills so they hired someone else. I’ve had several phone interviews – some went well and some went poorly, but none of them have resulted in employment. It’s as if the game development scene in Austin has dried up and blown away. I’ve had dozens of recruitment calls for companies all over the country, but I currently don’t feel like I can move because Jamie’s mother is currently in a nursing home…and David’s doctor is here (he’s supposed to be one of the best in the world).

My son, David, has been acting out increasingly at school. He’s mildly autistic, and something at school is just setting him off. He’s exhibiting behavior there that we never see at home – screaming at the top of his lungs, turning over furniture, thrashing wildly on the floor – and at this point I’m putting him on the bus, waiting an hour, and then getting a phone call from the school for me to come get him because his behavior is already out of control.

I consoled myself with the fact that within a few weeks the school year would be over and while he’d be in my hair, I wouldn’t have to worry about him accidentally kicking his teachers in the face.

And then last Thursday, Child Protective Services knocked on our door.

Now, the things that I hate about CPS are:

a) We cannot ask them who called them,
b) We cannot know exactly what they are looking for, and
c) They have the power to arbitrarily take our children away from us.

This seems a bit unconstitutional to me.

Needless to say, my stress level went off the chart. Now, it seemed like the case worker who knocked on our door was a good guy, because he agreed to an appointment the next day when it turned out my oldest daughter was in school. Thus we spent the next twenty-four hours scrubbing every surface we could reasonably clean in that time.

And then he came, had the appointment, and he ruled that there was no reason for CPS to get involved in our case. Which, frankly, I knew was going to happen…but the uncertainty just killed me for that twenty-four hour period.

And when I’m stressed, I eat. Thus my weight briefly got back up to 330 last week. Thus, no PTFSD posts. I’m currently dieting like crazy to get back to 320 (and perhaps below, if I can keep it up.)

Our financial situation isn’t looking good. Despite help from our wonderful family and friends, we have trouble making the rent and the COBRA payment (necessary for David and I to retain our health insurance) every month. As the month comes to a close and I still don’t know how I’m going to make the payments, again, my stress level spikes. At the end of April it got so bad I couldn’t sleep.

And, of course, the end of May is coming up. But I think I’ll handle it better than April because at this point I’ve been worn down so much that I almost don’t care any more. I’m on autopilot – check for new jobs in the morning, send out resumes, pick David up from school, help him do his schoolwork (he won’t do it at school but he does it fine at home), walk an hour, work on Inaria iPhone, try to eat under my calorie limit, go to bed, wake up, do it all again. All very healthy, positive behaviors that are not helping me one damn bit…but what else can I do?

Now I feel the need to apologize for the above. I’m not going to use this blog to complain about my life (at least not very often) but sometimes you just have to express this stuff to somebody.

Inaria iPhone, Update 3

All subsystems are now working – indeed it is possible to play the game all the way from beginning to end. You can even save and load!

But as a lot of people suspected, the vertical layout just looked and felt bad. So I’m trying to get a horizontal layout going. Here’s a current screenshot:

I wish I could finish this project faster, but lots and lots of extraneous stuff has conspired to keep me away from it. I am hoping to have the landscape version complete by the end of this week, then spend next week adding the new content and making the demo…and then hopefully I’ll be done.

Inaria iPhone, Update 2

And now we’re on the device – or at least the simulator.

The game loop is now running on the iPhone Simulator on the Mac. All drawing is now being done by OpenGL instead of SDL (which has been completely purged from the project). I haven’t implemented the new input controls so you can’t actually play the game yet, but there it is. I expect quick progress from here.

Inaria iPhone, Update 1

Getting there.

Frankly, this code base is just awful to work with. Drawing in the input function, magic numbers everywhere – who wrote this crap?!

Oh, right.

On the upside, I have now made sure that all tiles in the game are either public domain or ones I’ve created myself, so I’m not worried about infringing anyone else’s copyright.

I think the way I’m going to do the interface is that you’ll play it GameBoy style, with a virtual D-pad under your left thumb (and I’ve recently discovered that virtual D-pads actually work really well on the iPhone) and the four icons for Fight, Look, Pick Up, and Talk under your right thumb, with your stats in the middle. Above that will be the area for the game strings (I’ll switch to a smaller font so I can get more text in there) and above that, of course, will be the map view. Since I don’t actually have an iPhone, can anyone out there who does tell me if this sounds viable?

The new Battle.Net

Lured by the promise of potential Starcraft II beta keys, I went ahead and created a new Battle.Net account.

And I discovered something interesting that I hadn’t seen people mention much. You can add Starcraft, Diablo II, and Warcraft III to your account just by typing in your (valid) CD key for each product.

At which point Blizzard will store the key and allow you to download and install the games onto any computer.

Which means that, for the first time since its release ten years ago, you can finally play Starcraft without needing a disc in the drive. Same thing for Diablo II. (To Blizzard’s credit, they did remove the CD check from Warcraft III a few updates back.) Indeed, you don’t need the discs OR the cd keys ever again, as long as you’ve got an internet connection.

This is progress of the highest order. The only thing lacking is the ability to buy the games online (Blizzard will still ship you a physical box if you order a game from them). Once that happens, Battle.Net will effectively be Blizzard’s version of Steam or Impulse.

Of course, you can’t add Diablo I or Warcraft I or II…which is kind of disappointing. Maybe that’ll get fixed later. Maybe Blizzard could offer those games as freebies to people who have purchased enough Blizzard products (which, goshwow, I think I have.)

Maccyland

Jules Winnfield: So tell me again about the disc images.

Vincent Vega: What do you want to know?

JW: They’re legal there, right?

VV: Hell, yeah, they’re legal. When you download an application you’ll usually get it as a disc image. And I’m talking about perfectly legit applications, not the Bittorrent stuff. You can write these images to a disc to make an installer, or you can just mount the thing straight on the Mac as a new volume and install it from there.

JW: They don’t consider disc mounting software a tool of piracy?

VV: Naw, man, it’s built into the operating system.

JW: Oh, I’m goin’! I’m definitely going.

VV: I know baby! You’d dig it the most. But you know what the funniest thing about Maccyland is?

JW: What?

VV: It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.

JW: Example?

VV: All right. When you launch a program – sorry, an “application” – from the dock, you don’t get another icon telling you that program is running. The icon on the dock just gets a white dot next to it. And if a program on the dock needs your attention, it doesn’t pop up and grab the focus. It just bounces the icon and waits for you to click on it. Also, windows in Maccyland are double-buffered, so you’ll never see the awful tearing that you see so often over here.

JW: That sounds cool. Anything you didn’t like?

VV: The one menu bar thing screwed me up for a long time. Since the menu bar is not connected to the app it represents, you can’t give an app the focus by clicking the menu bar. You have to click the app’s window or its icon on the dock. Plus, Ctrl-V doesn’t paste.

JW: What?

VV: I’m serious. Ctrl-C doesn’t copy and Ctrl-V doesn’t paste. Instead it pages down in your text file. That’s doubly bad because it looks like it did something when all it did was lose you your paste location. Plus the Home and End keys jump you to the beginning and end of the current document, instead of the current line.

JW: Aw, man. I usually copy a URL in my browser’s location bar by hitting Home, holding down Shift, and then hitting End to select the whole URL. How’m I supposed to do it now?

VV: Triple-click.

JW: What?

VV: You triple-click the URL. That’ll select the whole thing.

JW: Seriously?

VV: Yeah, man, that shit even works over here – at least in Firefox.

JW: Triple-click. Man, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a triple click. Does it work in Opera too?

VV: I dunno, man, I didn’t go into Linuxville.

PTFSD Update: Miracle Noodles

Okay, so I went up to Whole Foods and got some shirataki noodles.

The product they offered wasn’t the zero calorie kind – it was this brand. Still, the noodles only have 20 calories per serving, which is more than low enough.

So what are they like?

Well, first, the come packed in water and they need to be refrigerated. They only last about three months, even in the fridge.

Second, they are two bucks a pack…but a pack has two servings. So they cost about ten times as much as normal ramen noodles…but still pretty cheap.

Third, while you do not cook the noodles, you must still prepare them properly in order to get the most out of them.

When you open the bag, you will be immediately hit with a very Asian, fishy smell. Do not panic. Drain the noodles in a colander and then rinse them very well under hot water. Drain them again.

Now comes the most crucial step – you must dry the noodles. Everyone who complains about these kinds of noodles has typically missed this step. Put the noodles in the microwave for one minute, then dry them well between layers of paper towels. You’re almost going to want to wring them out – only by getting the packaging water out of the noodles will they be able to soak up whatever sauce you’re going to put on them.

You’ll notice that the fishy smell is gone. If you taste one, you’ll notice that it…well, doesn’t really taste like anything. You’ll also note that the “unique texture” the web page touts is actually that of rubber. It doesn’t bother me much, but if you’re used to regular ramen noodles…

Add some protein (I use about four ounces of either shrimp or chicken), some veggies and a little soy or Worcestershire sauce and you’ve got a very filling meal for about 250 to 300 calories. I’ve heard they work even better in stir-fries, which makes perfect sense.

I’ll be eating these religiously for two meals a day for the next week. On Friday I’ll report my progress.

PTFSD Update: Time to Get Gimmicky!

Okay. You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting PTFSD updates. The astute among you have probably guessed it’s because it’s not going well. You’d be right! While I have gotten my weight down to 315.9 at one point, my lack of dieting resolve has caused it to rebound to nearly 320. This seems to be a “plateau weight” for me – a weight my body likes to hang around, and in order to lose more I have to drill down to a lower plateau weight.

(This applies only to my dieting. I am still walking for an hour at least five days a week, which I guess I should be proud of…if it were helping.)

The problem, of course, is that I like to eat. And I tend to eat more when I’m stressed, because I don’t feel like starving myself when everything else in my life…well, sucks. So I guess I should be happy that I haven’t gained any more weight (the last time I was unemployed was when I ballooned up to 360).

But I need something serious to get myself unstuck. I have shied away from gimmicks in my diet because, well, most of them not only don’t help, they are actively harmful to your health. Stimulants, hCG, Atkins – all really bad ideas.

But then I found out about miracle noodles, also known as shirataki noodles. What are they, you ask? They’re noodles with a blissfully short ingredient list: water, soluble fiber, and calcium. Which means that they contain no sugar, no starch, no fat, and no protein. They effectively have zero calories. They seem like such the perfect thing to help me that I must either be dreaming or…they must taste like krep.

Have I tried them? Not yet. I went to four different Asian markets yesterday looking for them, to no avail. On a whim I called Whole Foods…and they have them. So I’ll be running up there later today to pick some up. Expect an update later on how they measure up!

iNaria

Because two people demanded it!

Yes, it’s true. My new current project is Inaria for the iPhone. I was greatly encouraged to do this by my good friend Ryan Clark, who has just been incredibly supportive during my entire time of trouble. He even lent me the Mac that I’ll be doing the development on. (And that I’m currently posting from.)

Porting it to the iPhone probably won’t take long; the hardest part will be making sure the new interface works well (and finding some music and sound effects I can use with the game). I will be adding some extra content – new maps and a much better leveling system. I hope to have the project done by the end of May.

And now I finally have something to blog about on this blog again!