Eliza is here!
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:51 pm)

I just hung up Eliza—you can see a picture I took with my phone at my twitter page.

Rikki must have sent it out immediately to get here so fast!

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Vacuum Haircut
Posted in Advice
Afternoon watch, 6 bells (3:16 pm)

Just in case I'm in time to warn you: when you get married you will probably be required to remove disturbingly large amounts of hair from your vacuum cleaner. Nobody told me about this.

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Terrain Thoughts
Posted in MUD Development
Last dog watch, 8 bells (8:16 pm)

I've been thinking about terrain for a while now, and I think that there are some things that are immutable, and some that aren't. The fact that a point is designated as "hilly" or "mountainous" doesn't mean I can't also add an elevation data point. In fact, it makes more sense, because not all hills occur at the same elevation. So the trick is to determine what is immutable (the fact that there are mountains here won't change, but a forest is just ground with trees).

While reviewing Designing Virtual Worlds, by Dr. Richard Bartle, I ran across this sentence:

Thus you can have a hill, a forested hill, a snow-covered, forested hill, and so on.

/me thumps forehead with hand. Of course! Perhaps there are MUDs out there that do this, but I've never seen one. They always have some hard-coded description written for a room. If I define a basic terrain type, then add things like ground cover and vegetation, I can create a dynamic room description that could change with the weather. Snow could melt into water which could evaporate in higher temperatures automatically. It seems like with just a little work in the beginning, a large, complex terrain system could be created. CPU cycles are pretty cheap nowadays, so the overhead can't be that terrible. I think I found my direction!

One of my ideas, which is still hanging out in my backbrain, is to use multiple "overlay" maps, each one defining different parameters. A map engine would check each overlay at any specified x- or y-coordinate and return all the information stored for that point. One overlay could be weather, another might be mineral deposits. A third could be a daylight map (imagine a sine wave defining sunrise/sunset, being shifted every n minutes. You could have time zones! Always daylight or nighttime arctic and antarctic areas! A fourth may be weather, cloud cover, rain, hail, tornado, etc. Devoting more overlay maps to geology, ground cover, and vegetation could yield a very sophisticated "world terrain model" that wouldn't be very computationally intensive.

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I Can Hear You!
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:06 am)

Overheard by me in the CEO's office today:

Coworker 1: Aw, Jacob got here first. I think the both of us could take him
Coworker 2: Uh, I don't know about that…

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Terrain Dilemma
Posted in MUD Development
Last dog watch, 3 bells (7:31 pm)

I'm having trouble deciding how I want to handle terrain in my MUD. Traditionally, you have "rooms" that are grassland, mountains, swamp, ocean, etc. My biggest dilemma is the mountain and hills part—do I declare spots as "mountain" or "hill," or do I set an elevation at every point and interpolate hilly areas. The latter is how I believe most MMOs do it, because they have a graphical client, so they use a height-map and let the user see the hills or mountains.

If I use the height-map, then it's difficult to tell you're "on" a hill unless you scan the areas around you and look for regular changing elevations. If you use a simple "hill" designation (such as 'H' on my ASCII map), then how big is the hill?

I really need to think some more about this before going forward…

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New Art!
Last dog watch, 8 bells (8:18 pm)

I just bought an original painting from Rikki Simons (the voice of GIR from Invader Zim). Here it is.

Lorien let me get it as an early birthday present to myself.

That MUD Thing
Posted in MUD Development
First watch, 3 bells (9:49 pm)

Well it's been an awful long time since I did any work on my MUD. Tonight I thought I'd write some test code to process a world map. I created a text file with two types of terrain, water and land. The base world size is 180x90, and for simplicity is an ASCII text file.

So I put together a class, read the file in, and then use a function to extract a localized map based on an x- and y-coordinate and a radius.

The first image here is the localized map, the second is a snapshot of the same area from the worldmap text file, with x=125 and y=25 and a radius of 5. I added a highlight to show the part of the map the client is localizing.

localized map

world map extract

The next couple of things to do are:

I haven't worked on this project for quite a while now, but I've had other things going on. Some day I'll actually have this thing up and running.

PS: The class that does all this work, both .h and .cpp, are a combined length of 100 lines including comments and whitespace.

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Happy Birthday Jeff and Joar
Posted in Warm and Fuzzy
First dog watch, 4 bells (6:26 pm)

Today is my cow-orker Jeff's birthday. It is also Laura's son Joar's birthday, too. Happy birthday!

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The Garbage Hag
Forenoon watch, 7 bells (11:57 am)

I was behind an old lady this morning on my way to work. I watched her throw multiple items of garbage out of her window. I took a picture to post it on the Internet for all to see her car make/model and license plate.

You can see a napkin she haggily chucked out her window right next to her car.

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Some New Textures
Posted in Hobbies
Afternoon watch, 6 bells (3:09 pm)

I created some new textures and added them to my MaJiang program. I also added a few more tiles to the view.

Majiang tiles rendered in OpenGL

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Me, Boring-er
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:30 pm)

I (finally) got signed up for a Twitter account. I added a link on this page, but you have to look around. If you're interested in the even more boring bits of my life than make it to this blog, you can follow me here.

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Killer Bunnies
Posted in Hobbies
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:31 pm)

Today at lunch we played Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot. It took a little time to get started up, but once we did the game was quite fun. I hope to get a chance to play again real soon.

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Live Irish Music
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:53 pm)

I have a great friend that is an amazing musician. He plays so many instruments I can't list them all. I also get regular announcements from him when he is playing, so I thought I'd post his latest email.

Howdy Folks

Anyone complaining about the sunshine...? I doubt it!!! After a winter hiatus, Morgan Anderson, Greg and Caridwen Spatz, and yours truly will be playing irish music for your drinking and dining pleasure at O'Shays on Saturday Feb 21st and Feb 28th. Music starts around 7 pm. If you'd like to join us for some tunes, the jam opens at 9 pm. The only authentic irish pub in Cd'A, O'Shays offers a great menu as well as Harp and Guinness (on tap!), and a full bar. It is non-smoking so all ages are welcome. Kids 6 and under eat free if you tell them you came for the music. Hope to see you there...

O'Shay's is a great place to get a bite of dinner, and you can't beat the live music experience. The smoke-free environment is a huge plus. I hear their shepherd's pie is excellent, but haven't had the pleasure of tasting it yet.

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Hole In One!
Posted in Hobbies
First watch, 4 bells (10:27 pm)

Tonight I shot a hole in one in Wii Sports Golf. It was on the 8th hole. I also had the best game I've ever played, despite the fact that I missed two additional birdie putts. And here's the proof:
Hole in one Wii Sports Golf 8th hole

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Posted in Reviews
First watch, 2 bells (9:29 pm)

Tonight we saw Taken at the local cinema. It was intense, a great action movie. Liam Neeson is a strong actor, and played a great part. If you like action movies, this one will get your heart pumping. Drop what you're doing and make plans to go see it right now. I mean it. I'll wait.

Done? Good! Let me know what you think about it!

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