Life of a Stick


  • Category Archives Technology
  • Recent Events

    Last Friday and Saturday I went to the 2D or not 2D animation festival. It was awesome. I got to meet amazing people like Barry Cook and Dean Yeagle and Michel Gange. Of course, my DigiPen professor Tony White was there, seeing as he was hosting the festival in the first place.

    After getting an exclusive first look on Gange’s upcoming game and getting a bunch of stuff signed by him, and watching some fantastic shorts like Chicken Cowboy, and listening to an orchestra at close range (they took up half the big room the final mingle was in) I went back to my car and found a car window and my backpack missing. Whoops.

    Let that be a lesson to everyone: Don’t leave tempting unknowns sitting around where someone may see it. Save yourself some trouble. Now I gotta buy a new backpack, a new sketchbook, and some new charcoal. I feel kinda sorry for the guy who stole it… he risked the law for… well, nothing.

    So I got home, and my good friend tek_hed who’d lent me a Wacom tablet for the past many years, finally needed it back. So I was now tabletless.

    Feeling sorry for myself, and a bit stupid for getting my backpack stolen, I went and ordered a new toy. A 12″ Cintiq. Seeing as it was only $400 more than the $600 for a new tablet, I figured I might as well splurge. Man, this stuff is expensive. It should get here in a week or two.

    But wait, that’s not all!

    I got an email from Rick Simmons, CEO of Virtrium LLC about a press release he was making about my Seawolf dragons..

    I think I’m getting ahead of myself, as I haven’t mentioned the dragons here yet. The dragons link above should explain a bit about them. They’re an avatar available for Second Life that use a bug (that hadn’t been exploited previously) to increase the size of your avatar. I don’t have any size references images or even videos handy, so I’m just going to give a link to an image of the vendor location. The top of the smallest dragon’s head is about as tall as a normal person. If you have Second Life, you can visit the location inworld by clicking this SLurl.

    Oh, and Left 4 Dead came out. Valve’s latest masterpiece, and more proof that finding awesome people and buying them into the company is a very smart idea.


  • Truth and Cheating

    TRUTH! It’s a wonderful thing. Everyone should have some truth in their lives. I’m writing this in the hopes that I can help a few people know what to look for and how to categorize it. Things made a lot more sense to me after thinking about it this way. But as I’m going to point out… my truth may not be your truth.

    Truth comes in three levels.

    1. Personal Truth. A personal truth is something that is truthful for you and only you. For example, I can get pretty bad heartburn if I eat the wrong things. True for me, but some people have been fortunate enough to never have heartburn.

    2. Social Truth. A social truth is a rule, law, or consequence put into place by a social structure, usually to assist with keeping things orderly and manageable. Traffic laws keep people safe on the roads. If you didn’t stay on the correct side of the road or stay under (or at least near) the speed limit, then dangerous things might result, for you or someone else.

    3. Universal Truth. Universal truth is something that’s true for everyone. And not just for people, for anything, anywhere. Light travels at a certain speed. Sound travels at another. Gravity works off a certain mathematical formula. And etc.

    Now let me dig a little deeper on these, and illustrate some common communication problems these help clear up.

    Elevating a truth offends people. This is just a general rule, of course. But if you take a personal truth, and apply it socially or universally, you’re essentially imposing a rule on someone else that they may not believe in.

    A common example of this is churches. Churches, like it or not, can only be empirically proven as social truths. Personally, I believe that the truths my church teachers are all the way up at universal truth. But if I present it that way to someone who doesn’t agree, I can easily offend them. By leaving it at the personal or social level, a discussion can actually happen.

    And when I talk about social levels, I mean limited social levels. If you’re dealing with national social beliefs and speaking as an American to a Briton, and the Briton insists that cars must drive on the left side of the road, then ur doin it rong. You’ve crossed the social truth boundaries and they no longer apply. Same goes with religious discussions. Social truths should only be applied for people that are a member of that society.

    Essentially, the biggest problem I see with religious, political, and other discussions that end up offending and resulting in yelling is that people upgrade their personal or social truths to apply to other people’s personal, social, or even universal truths.

    Now the title includes “cheating.” This is my favorite part.

    Truth seems to have two parts to it. Action and consequence, and limitations. Social truths tend to be punishment based, so they’re more action and consequence. Personal truths have action and consequence, but they’re also heavily limitation based. There are things people simply cannot do, such as fly, or run faster than a few miles per hour.

    But let’s talk about limitations. For example, I cannot lift five tons. It’s too friggin’ heavy. But, if I apply all sorts of mechanical lever and pulley knowledge (or just get a big tractor) then I can do it no problem.

    Cheating in life means bypassing limitations defined by truth. The Belgariad has a fun recurring theme, where a master sorcerer gets offended when people say things are impossible. I’m much the same way.

    I’m currently working on a project in Second Life. It defies truths, or limitations, set in place when the program was created. I’ve shown it to some friends that are familiar with Second Life. They look at it, and they watch it work, and then when I’m done demonstrating it I ask them a simple question, “is what just happened possible?” Having just watched the demonstration, currently looking at it with their own eyes, they invariably answer “No.” A truth was established, and it was cheated. It’s a wonderful and exciting feeling to do so.

    I’ll (hopefully) give more info on that project within a week.


  • Snow Totals Cars

    Earlier yesterday I went out for a bite to eat. It was raining, surprise surprise. On the way back the rain had little ice chunks in it.

    “Aw, how cute,” I thought! “It’s trying to snow!”

    When I left school that evening, it was snowing, but it was only sticking a little on the grass. By the time I was halfway home, I was driving behind a snowplow and I couldn’t see the lines on the road.

    When I got to that last turn before my house, I took a couple runs at it, and found I couldn’t get up the hill. So I parked down on the main road, inches off the guardrail, away from side-streets and turns where people were likely to hit me, and well on the other side of the non-visible white line. Then I walked the short distance home.

    My mom woke me up this morning with a phone call to tell me she saw some damage on my car, and I should take some pictures and drive it home.

    I put on a coat and shoes and walked down, and found out the following.

    1) It was a hit and run. No note was left.

    2) It was undrivable. The tire would get shredded if I tried to drive it. Oh, and there was a four inch gash in the tire already.

    3) The car that did it was white.

    A short while ago, I was making a u-turn, didn’t have as much clearance as I thought, and hit the sidewall of my tire on the curb pretty hard, destroying a tire. The tread on my tires was low, so I already had a new set of four tires at home. I put on a spare and drove home.

    Note: Always put the spare on a tire that doesn’t drive the car. I ripped out a front tire, and mine is front wheel drive. I should have switched it with a back tire, and put the spare on the back. I didn’t know this, and fortunately nothing bad came of it.

    So yeah, the tires were rather new.

    The good news is that insurance looks like it’ll cover it.

    Edit: A note was later found stuffed completely in the mirror. Our insurance just passed the information over to their insurance, and it was no skin off our nose.


  • Surgery and Rollcages

    My sister recently got her adenoids out. She was supposed to get her tonsils and adenoids out, but the doctor doing the surgery decided that they adenoids didn’t need to come out. So a little after she got out of surgery the second time, she decided it would be a good idea to go four wheeling with her finance.

    She came over and told us about it afterwards. “Yeah, the rollcage works great. None of the windows even broke or cracked. We just rolled it back over and drove away. We had to replace some transmission fluid that leaked out, but it was fine.”

    Here’s a picture:

    Sister's Rolled Truck


  • Bunch of Stuff Happened

    It’s probably best to order things chronologically rather than categorically for this post. It’s a long story that lasts about five days. I’ll see if I can condense it into less than five days of reading.

    It all started on Thursday, December 14th. “High wind warnings” were on the news, saying winds would get up to 80-90mph with 130mph gusts. Silly me didn’t realize quite how serious this is. If these numbers don’t mean much to you (and you haven’t been watching the news), then this is enough wind to knock over many, many trees. And when trees fall down, they land on things. Like power lines. And cars. And roads. And houses. But back to the story at hand.

    I showed up at DigiPen campus around 4pm, I think. My plans were to mat mount the final project for Art 101 so I could turn it in before 5pm the next day, when it was due. Then I would work on animation. I’d expected the power to go out, as I’d brought some flashlights.

    When I arrived at school, there were signs posted at every corner that the school was closing at 10pm instead of midnight due to the high winds warning.

    After I left, it was only slightly gusty. I took the “back road” home, like I usually did, because even at 10pm traffic is decently heavy and moving around 50mph through Bellevue. Besides, the back road was a straight shot to my house, and the freeway went in the opposite direction for a bit before turning my way.

    The back road was already littered with tree branches. It was fun to dodge them, and felt a bit like a video game. Then something above me went SHAZAM! and all the lights on the street went out. The scariest part of the drive was when a few cars were coming in the opposite direction so I was effectively blinded, and my car a puddle I didn’t see and sprayed water off the side of the road. Normal enough, except the puddle didn’t end. After the three cars had passed me, I could see the end of the “puddle” about 50m further up.

    The last exciting thing about the back road was when I was halfway home. The sky lit up briefly with this beautiful blue and purple explosion in the distance. I was sure it was the power at my house. Fortunately, it was all the power just before my house. Unfortunately, that meant the streetlight were out, and traffic in the Seattle area is notoriously bad not because of the sheer amounts of people, but because the people suck at driving. So no one had no idea that a downed traffic light means you’re supposed to behave like it’s a stop sign. And no one knew the proper way to handle a six lane, four way intersection as a stop sign, either. I’ll admit, it’s a little daunting, but if you face it logically you don’t have a problem.

    The power didn’t go out until an hour or so after I got home. I spent that night doing general maintenance. I cleaned the dust out of Goliath, this webserver, I put a new PSU in the internet gateway box (which had a faulty fan for the past year or so and required external cooling), and I took the last of the good pieces out of my downed main computer (namely, the CPU) and put it into my secondary machine. So I’m still down to one desktop computer, but it’s almost as good as my best one was. I also did a little general cleaning around my desk. The rest of the night was spent drawing some Trivium comics.

    So the power went out Thursday night. Friday morning at something before 7am I get a call from my good friend xcXEON wondering how things were and if everything was ok. I told him we were out of power, but otherwise fine. I was out of touch. I don’t normally watch the news — I’d heard about the strong winds from my brother, and probably then only because I live in the same house as him. The scope of power outages and damage was much larger than I thought it was, which is why he’d thought it important enough to call me. I enjoyed talking to him, it had been a while, but then I had to get ready and go to school. I had a final project to turn in, and an animation to redo so I could try to up my grade in Animation 101. I had my friend check www.schoolreport.org to make sure DigiPen wasn’t closed, got up and headed out.

    Bad idea. The first road I tried was blocked by half a dozen downed trees. (Ok, only three were visible, but I bet there were more further down) After going through a dozen intersections with broken stoplights, I finally made it to DigiPen after only a little over an hour. Not like it meant much. The doors are electronically sealed, and there was no power. A random programmer and I took a walk around the block to gawk at all the pretty damage from downed trees. Later, the head of facilities showed up and told all the people milling around the sign that said “DigiPen’s closed” that the finals will be rescheduled, and the final project that’s due will be turned in at the start of next semester. I asked about www.schoolreports.org and he said they’d managed to leave a message for them around 8am. The cell phone lines were jammed, and there was probably a downed tower or two.

    I was not looking forward to driving home. Against my better judgement (I claim curiosity), I took the freeway home. I noticed a few cars by the side of the road as traffic crawled along and wondered why they were there.

    A few places started getting power restored during the day. The first ones were the stores and malls. Makes you wonder. A gas station or two got power, and then I noticed something a little scary. There were only one or two gas stations in the area that had power. The line of cars wrapped around the block.

    The night, my dad informed me he was out of gas. Completely empty, and maybe only enough to drive to the gas station. I told him since I was going to be up late working on drawing Triviums, I’d take his car out at around 11pm and gas it up.

    Another bad idea. There was one gas station with gas left (the others had their lights of with “no gas” signs in the driveways) and the line was still around the block. I managed to make it home, and left a note for my dad to take my car, since it still had half a tank.

    Saturday, my friends I’m working on Booster Logic with called me and said their power was back, and that I could stay with them until mine came back.

    I left out two events. One was a trip to a church Christmas dinner party where I brought my phone charger and charged it while I was eating, and the other was a trip to Bellevue Square Mall where I picked up the Playstation 2 game Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. I got lucky. The game’s rare, and the Gamestop at the mall just happened to have ae copy when I was there.

    So when I got the invite from my friends, I packed up my PS2, Disgaea, Shadow of the Colossus (another great game), a change of clothes, my clothes for church, and left. My dad wasn’t interested in taking a free shower for some reason, so he stayed behind in our dark, cold house that was starting to smell a lot like burnt candles.

    The next couple days were a blur. Disgaea is awesome. I felt no guilt, as the power was out at my house and all my plans revolved around the internet (which they didn’t have yet). Been a long time since I’ve played a game for more than an hour or two without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else more important.

    I called my mom about halfway through to see how they were fairing at home. Turns out my dad had tried to light a fire and hadn’t put it far enough back in the fireplace. Nothing burnt down, but the entire house was filled with smoke. It still smells, and probably will for weeks. They also got invited to stay at someone else’s house, but for some reason my dad had declined them again. I’ve been taught that doing good deeds is all well and good, but denying other people the good deeds they want to do isn’t actually very nice. I don’t think anyone ever taught him that. Or maybe he just really needed his special matress for his back, since it’s so bad. Who knows. (I’m rather certain he doesn’t read this, and my mom isn’t tactless enough to tattle-tale on me, so I should be safe in questioning his sanity here.)

    So the last thing of note that happened was this: I woke up this morning at around 10am to the sound of my phone ringing. My brother was calling to let me know that the power had come back on, and that he wanted to make the internet work, but the power buttons on the router wasn’t working. I let him know it wasn’t broken, and I’d just flipped the switch on back, but I’d prefer he wait for me to get home and get everything working.

    I started packing up and I noticed the end of the extension cord that I unplugged my phone from wasn’t glowing green. I checked, and the cable modem/router wasn’t lit up. Oh noes, I thought. What have I done! Then I noticed that the red light on my PS2 wasn’t lit up, and I realized the power was out.

    So I packed up, came home, turned on my computers with only minor issues, and here I am.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get those Triviums I drew inked, or this Christmas Special will never go live.


  • Happy Birthday!

    8:25AM  up 365 days, 10:47, 6 users,
    load averages: 0.07, 0.04, 0.01

    My webserver’s uptime is one year! Happy birthday, Goliath! Yay!


  • Skaarj Poster

    Some number of months ago (more than half a year, I think) I discovered a program called The Rasterbator. It takes an image and turns it into “dots” like newspaper pictures, but at a much larger size. This lets you grossly enlarge an image without the “jaggies” or “fuzzies” that happen when you make it too big.

    I used it, because it was neat and it’s fun to try out neat things. I finally settled on a Skaarj picture that looked rather cool. But there were two problems after I used it.

    1) I didn’t have a paper cutter to put all the pieces together.
    2) The printer ran out of black ink halfway through the printing.

    The second item went unnoticed until just recently when I was putting it together.

    In any case, the printout was 7×5 pages, and made for a very large poster. Here it is, with a reference shot of me (cut off about at the knees) in the lower right corner. The image has been edited to remove clutter and a doorframe.

    Rasterbated Skaarj Poster


  • Wheeeeeeeee!

    The Nintendo Revolution is now called the Nintendo Wii.

    If you ask me, that’s wii-tarded. Only someone as wii-tless as Nintendo could come up with that. Is their online service going to be called “wii streaming”?

    And the jokes just start getting more and more dirty from there. “Hey guys! Come down stairs and let’s play with my Wii!”

    Bad choice, Nintendo. Just… no.

    But se-wii-ously. I don’t care what they name their little white box. If it’s fun and has good games, I’ll buy it. From what they’ve announced so far it sounds like something I’d enjoy. I’ll just never call it by what it is and wii won’t have any problems with each other.


  • SanDisk CombatFlash Prices

    At work I stumbled across an old product listing that was pinned up on the wall. Someone had been tracking the price of SanDisk CompactFlash cards since April of 2001. The list is missing 2005 since the guy stopped working there a while ago and I didn’t start until recently, but here’s some interesting pricing.

    Memory Price
    4/5/2001 5/14/2002 3/17/2003 1/2/2004 4/3/2006
    8MB $34.99
    16MB $39.99 $24.99
    32MB $59.99 $29.99 $29.99
    48MB $89.99
    64MB $99.99 $41.99 $34.99 $27.99
    96MB $149.99
    128MB $199.99 $74.99 $54.99 $38.99 $19.99
    160MB $249.99
    192MB $299.99 $94.99 $74.99
    256MB $624.99 $139.99 $79.99 $48.99 $24.99
    300MB $734.99
    512MB $111.65 $49.99
    1GB $799.99 $299.99 $214.99 $69.99
    2GB $99.99
    4GB $199.99

    Original and final data taken from esend. I’m not sure about the rest of it.

    You feel that? That’s called nostalgia.


  • Typical Wakeup

    I woke up this “morning” at 2pm and stumbled out of my bedroom only to encounter my brother rushing downstairs.

    “My computer broke,” he says, so I stumble after him for more details. Typical things — bluescreen, won’t boot anymore, etc. Then as we get to his room he rushes out the door and says, “Gotta go help dad before he runs that car into a tree.”

    So I stumble into his room and boot. One of the HDs isn’t being auto-detected. I’m trying to pry the case open when he comes back in and says, “Nevermind. He was trying to run it into a tree.”

    I fiddled with the ribbon cable and his HD started working again, but this isn’t the first time it’s given problems and I already replaced the last ribbon cable with a factory sealed one, so his hard drive may be dying.

    And my dad successful ran the car into a tree. The end.

    PS: That’s how you put bumpers on some cars apparently.



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