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Friday, December 19th, 2008 - 3:50pm - [Direct Link]
I wish you a Merry Christmas now, because the future forecast sounds grim. A year ago we were without power for about a week and a half, and it may be as bad this year.
Hopefully nothing bad will happen, but if trees fall over and kill a host of power lines again, it may turn out to be a survivalists Christmas, so we're grabbing some supplies today while there's still time.
And for those that don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Ecksmas!
Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 - 5:05am - [Direct Link]
The first half of my junior year at DigiPen has ended. It was a really rough road, and I think reflecting back on it has helped me notice some interesting things about myself and about what I consider to be some "universal truths" I've heard. I'd like to outline what happened, wax poetic about it, and then explain some principles that may help others organize and maintain their own lives.
So the first mistake I did was a lesson I'd already learned, but didn't properly plan to avoid. I did plan to avoid it, it just wasn't properly planned to be avoided.
The lesson was that I can't handle outside projects and go to college at the same time. At least not DigiPen. So when I was planning the schedule for the dragons I made in Second Life, I planned to be able to finish during the summer, a month before school started.
Well, two months into the semester, I finished the project. It was actually only two months behind schedule, since I'd spend the first month of summer doing some work on Booster Logic. All in all, not very well executed on my part.
Before I talk about the aftereffects of splitting my time between school and a project, I'd like to mention three things. One, how I tend to handle projects before me. Two, the "worker's guilt" I grew up with. Three, the concept of three (or four) elements of the body and maintaining a balance between them, which you may consider a universal truth if you want to play with the idea and test it yourself.
So first, when I approach a project I approach it single-mindedly. Eating, sleeping, whatever else -- it gets in the way. Naturally this doesn't work very well on long-term projects. Fortunately, I can dial my obsession back a bit and make it a "normal job" thing and spend a few hours each day relaxing (read: gaming) and sleeping, so I can preform the job better from a rested state. That tends to work well.
Second, due to religion and other factors, I was taught to accept tasks, my own or otherwise, if I "could" do them. Working and staying busy is a good thing. However, when is the point where you can't do more? To find your limit, just do as much as you can, and see when you can't do more. Until now, I'd never found my limit. I was always capable of more.
Third, I've heard say that the body has four... let's call them reserves. Four reserves. They are: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. If you're not religious, just lump spiritual into emotional. It's important to maintain a balance between these. If we're making it a game with little health bars, let's say when the a reserve bottoms out, you can still preform activities that drain that reserve, but it drains all the other reserves twice as fast as it would the original.
So here's what happened. Those two months of doing this project and school drained my physically (no sleep), and mentally (full power to school and this project). My emotional and spiritual reserve then bottomed out, and I broke. For the first time in my life, I simply could not. I was bedridden for a week. The week after that I was useless.
When I made it back to school, I was limping in everything. I could hardly focus or motivate myself on school tasks, let alone anything else. I'd "crashed" before, but never this far, this hard. For the first time in my life, when faced with the option of more tasks, I simply could not. I was barely able to do what I was already obligated to do.
I've decided to take winter break off rather than try to do some kind of work. My reserves are totally shot, and hopefully I can bring them back up by having a real vacation.
The whole situation is actually really scary, and hopefully something I've pulled a lot of lessons away from so I don't make a mistake like that again.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 - 7:51am - [Direct Link]
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.
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 - 7:54pm - [Direct Link]
Way back in the day, Network Solutions was the only company that could sell domain names. The lack of options was nice, and no one realized that the price was really high. But this was considered a monopoly and has since been changed so that there are hundreds of sites that sell domain names.
This is great news! It's never been easier to register a domain name, with competitive features and pricing to give you all sorts of places to choose to spend your money at.
This is horrible news! It's never been easier to register a domain name. So people do so, quickly and often, and then sit on them expecting you to doll out tons of cash since they "got it first."
But domain swatters are just a pet peeve. I mention them because skaarjonastick.com is expiring. (And will thus be bought by some swatter hoping that I simply forgot to register it and want to pay them tons of cash to get it back. Ha.) I did a quick check of the logs, and about the only person that uses it anymore is the IP address 188.8.131.52. Why do I freely give out this IP address in an age where people are paranoid about personally identifiable information? Because it's a spammer. I've banned them from my miniforum already, but they continue to try to post three or four times a day.
So anyway, Network Solution is the registrar I purchased my original domain from: skaarjonastick.com. And it expires on October... something-or-other. I see three options before me.
1) Throw away US$35 to Network Solutions for their overpriced service. I had to click through four pages "buy this, too!" before getting to the re-registration information. I'm so glad it wasn't my dad, because he would have clicked all the boxes and select things in the drop downs and ended up paying hundreds of dollars instead of figuring out how things really work.
2) Pay GoDaddy US$10 to transfer the registration over to them (getting me another year of the domain usage). At least, I THINK that's the cost. Their site doesn't seem to be working right now.
3) Forget about it, since no one uses that domain name anymore, and stick with skaarj.com.
One of these things requires no effort. Can you guess which one I'm going to do?
So thus, I am making this post to say that as of October something-or-other skaaronastick.com will no longer work to access my website and you must use skaarj.com, which everyone already seems to be doing already. Great job, guy! Keep doing what you're doing!
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 - 2:02am - [Direct Link]
So I was talking with a friend a long while back, and we agreed on a very interesting twist on how people normally communicate. It comes down to my beloved principle of reevaluating situations based on goals, rather than common practices, which I need to explain some day because it's awesome and will change your life for the better.
Anyway, one of my goals in life is to become better. Doesn't matter with what, I wanna become better. A great way to do this is to be given knowledge by other people. And boy, do people love to tell you how to do things.
So when someone comes up to me and tells me how to do something, and I already know it, what do I say? Well, if you're like me and the rest of the world, you'll probably say, "I know." And maybe throw in a thanks in there.
Here's a trick. Drop the "I know." Just say thank you. Gratefully. And give 'em a smile. They were trying to help, after all, and the goal is to drain as much of their knowledge as possible, right?
If you go around telling people that you already know things, or you're ungrateful, they'll probably stop telling you things. Even an idiot can spout a gem now and then, or (also awesome) come up with an unconventional solution. It pays to be polite and grateful, and drop the "I know" part.
Another fun thing is in how you ask someone if they need help. If they're working on something you really want done, you can word the question "How can I help?" That way, you don't let them off with a yes or no. They have to actually think of what you can do before dismissing it. Of course, if you just want to get out of it, you can ask "Is there anything I can do to help?" Generally, if they're busy, it's easier to just say no and keep focusing. But if they really do need help, then they'll be able to quickly pick something out.
Of course, it's not foolproof if you're trying to get out of work. But my goal was to help, not to escape, when I came up with it.
Words can be really powerful if you use them in the right combinations.
Thursday, July 31st, 2008 - 10:16pm - [Direct Link]
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.
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 - 8:33pm - [Direct Link]
For those of you that don't know, I'm really big on webcomics. I have several that I read regularly, and odds are I've at least heard of it if it's worth mentioning.
A while back, I came across a webcomic called DreamKeepers. It was cute, funny, entertaining, well drawn, and all around neat.
One of the things I hate about webcomics is when they give you like five pages and then they're all "Oh, HA! You thought this was a free comic! No, we just put five pages of our published comic online. Now you should buy it."
Another solution, which I find much better, is the route that Digger took. You get two hundred and eighty five comics, and then you have to pay to see the rest. BUT, if you're good with schedules, you can see the current page every day. I would much prefer if there was some large gap in the middle that was moving, so you could keep reading you'd just be behind. But it's a lot less evil than just putting up a couple pages.
The least evil solution I've seen, which is why I purchased DreamKeepers when I've never purchased a dead-tree version of a webcomic before, was that not only did it offer a small sample of the book version (19 pages) but it has a pre-book webcomic that's updated weekly.
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to read the DreamKeeper's physical comic book. It arrived and my mom saw it. She said, "Hey, I wasn't allowed to have comic books when I was a kid," took it, and walked off, thumbing through it. Based on the webcomic, I have no doubts about its quality.
In other news, I still need to post my past grades. I don't even know when the last time I posted them was. And I don't know if I've posted my upcoming fall schedule, either.
I will make a post when my Seawolf project is finished for Second Life, though. If I haven't mentioned it, I make Boats with a friend. We're working on something else now, though, but have been careful not to make the information public and only gotten the opinion of close friends and professionals. It's really, really, really awesome though. Really.