Archive for March, 2006

PyWeek fun

So, there’s PyWeek2, this Python game programming contest thing going on this week. I know almost nothing about Python or PyGame, but I entered.
In retrospect, it might have been better to wait until I at least had a little sprite to move around. Oh well. It’ll be interesting to see how things go.

I am currently attempting to master object oriented programming in order to display a little ship on the screen. The objects appear to be winning.

Rocket Boards Review

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'd like to say that I'll (probably) be offered a full copy of the game I'm reviewing by posting this. Sadly, I doubt I'll play it much.

The game in question, Rocket Boards, looked like it had a lot of promise. BinarySun games advertised it as "Inspired by Nintendo classics like Super Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing". The screen shots looked pretty cool. The demo download was small. In short, it looked too good to be true. It was.

I've found a few faults with the game, but theres only one really important one: It's boring.
After four laps or so, you begin to wonder if there's anything more interesting to do. The entire demo consists of powering forward, steering around obstacles and other board racers. That's it. No jumping, no power ups, no guns, nothing.
Something, anything to do besides surf would make all the difference. I almost wonder if it's aimed at little kids, but the controls seem much too touchy for that.
It almost plays like a complete tech demo without a real game wrapped around it.

In short, I don't recommend buying "Rocket Boards". Instead, go check out "Miko-san's Miracle Board". Fans of hoverboards will be much happier, I promise you.

Update 4-5-06: Home of the Underdogs is back, and the Miko-san game link now works. 

I like tiny websites

I am obsessed with tiny, self contained websites. I dunno why, but they fascinate me. Only problem is, I’m really bad at CSS and I always end up stealing code from other sites to get the look I want.
And I recently discovered my Yahoo IM account has like 15Mb web space associated with it. Hmmm.

To this end, I have created a small site to hone my web design skills and promote tasteful ripping and murdering of other peoples code. When I feel like I’m done with it, I’ll zip the whole thing up and distribute it. Till then, you can look at it @ http://geocities.com/jamesthegecko. Feel free to rip anything neat you come across.

The reasons that this at GeoCities instead of my normal f2o account are:

  • I’m too lazy to open my ftp client.
  • GeoCities pretty much FORCES you to think small. A bit *too* small, imho. With a 20Kb site, if you got digg’D, they’d only let in about 250 people an hour. But still. Its good practice.
  • Keeps me from cheating and throwing in server-side stuff. Though I probably DO need to hone my PHP some, too. Junk.

One nice thing about using all html/CSS/Javascript over a mini CMS like my f2o site is that I can hide all sorts of neat little easter eggs. I could make a sentence with a word misspelled or something, and that word could be an invisible link. Not to mention that it will all (eventually) validate. I’m gonna have fun with this.

I spoke and corporate America listened!

A year and a half ago, I wrote of my dream: A robotic lawn mower that would save the summers of teens all over the globe. It took me months and minutes of hard thinking, tears, and bloodshed. And now, some bright person at some company listened to me! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! (I chortled in my joy)

However, with their excitement in designing, manufacturing and marketing this thing, they made one slightly minor mistake: They forgot to ship me one. I clearly stated in my previous entry:

So, yeah.
Oh, and if any companies actually make this, I want one for free because I came up with it.

I think the burden of proof, innocence and justice now rests in their court.

I humbly request the minds behind the LawnBott to think this over slowly. Ship one to me, or I shall to follow my trail of justice. All vermin will be ignited!

Thank you.

Severe Math Weirdness

Want to see something strange? Look at this.

a – b = 2
( a – b )^2 = 2^2 = 4
a^2 – 2ab + b^2 = 4
a^2 + b^2 = 4 + 2ab

Look good so far? Lets try substituting some variables in for a and b. Say, 4 and 2.

(4)^2 + (2)^2 = 4 + 2(4)(2)
20 = 20

Seems to add up. Now lets try it with a larger number for a. I’ll use 1002. b remains set at 2.

(1002)^2 + (2)^2 = 4+2(1002)(2)
1004008 = 4012

Ack! Math is broken!

Seriously, it took me like half an hour to figure this one out today. And it’s a review question from like three years ago. I think I need more sleep. Or to pay more attention. One of the two.

All of the buffalo has been used

The Vex Challenge is over.
How did we do? Let me just say that out of about 22 teams, we came in 15th place. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did. It was just ridiculous at times. A transmitter randomly inverted the drive-train controls. We forgot to switch the jumper chip into OperatorControl mode for one match and the robot drove into a wall. Later, we fixed one half of the drive-train just in time for a match, only to have the other half break at a critical moment about 30 seconds later.
Almost everything that could go wrong, did. With the possible exception of pretty magic smoke from the motor modules.
Oh, well.

It wasn’t all bad, though. One of our final alliance partners, team 83, was pretty awexome. They came and met with the team before the alliance selection & team captain meeting was over. How cool is that? “Tools, parts, mentors, whatever you guys need.” they said.
I don’t care who they gave the gracious professionalism award to. #83: you guys deserved it.

We also met up with one of our alliance partners from last year, #35. Almost everyone had moved on to an FRC team, but we got on with the new guys pretty well. And of course, Jeremiah the social butterfly made friends with half the people in the building. Little did he know that there was an FRC meet downstairs.

Also, there was some guy from a team I really liked last year who randomly popped up and started hanging out with us. I don’t remember what his name was or what team he was from, but I found it highly enjoyable to talk to someone not on FVC 40 who knew what I was talking about as I coded.

Sadly, this is my last year in the Vex program. Aside from the fact that I’m ageing out, my university of choice is approximately six hundred miles away. Future coders will have to get my C expertise via email and aim.

But, anyway. We had a great team this year. FVC 40 will be a great team next year. Stampede on!

On the state of autnomous mode

The robot does not do anything in autonomous mode. With mere hours to go, I suppose this should worry me, but I’ve been desensitized to it by the fact it hasn’t done much of anything all week. Now, I can only watch in horror and eat taco chips as 7:30 AM, March 16th draws slowly closer.


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