ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

December 2005

Musings29 Dec 2005

I actually like doing barn chores now and again. It’s a nice break from the other stuff I do. You get to be outdoors, and you don’t have to do a lot of thinking.

Today I when I cleaned the barn I brought my iPod along. It was quite pleasant. I’m sure I made quite a fetching image: standing there with a shovel full of manure in my hand, wearing my dirty old barn jacket, white iPod ear-buds poking up above my collar. Why, I could be the basis for the next iPod marketing campaign.

Thought I’d share that with you.

News17 Dec 2005

I’m home. I survived the bus trip with my laptop and guitar intact. I celebrated by watching Blackadder and Dr. Who on my parents’ big-screen TV.

Movies16 Dec 2005

If you wake up with a stiff neck, don’t go see King Kong. And if you do go, don’t sit in the second row. Got that?

The first thing to know about Kong is that it’s three hours long.

It’s not a three hours that you really feel, it moves along well enough for the most part (though the ending is fairly drawn out). It’s not a bad movie. I didn’t want my money back. The special effects are stupendous to the point of being over the top. There’s a period of extended action in the middle of the movie that only ends when they finally exhaust every conceivable type of scary monster. I can picture them sitting around Weta studios going “We’ve done dinosaurs and giant centipedes and freaky land-lobsters, what else can we throw at them?” Eventually they got stumped (Did I mention that the movie is three hours long?).

Some of the non-cgi characters (yeah, they still have those, apparently) were fairly good. I especially liked this guy as the heroic ship captain.

The tone of the movie was a bit problematic. It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a 1930′s-style adventure, or a cheese-fest, or, *gasp*, a serious movie. It kept switching back and forth. Some characters were one-dimensional archetypes, others were trying to be more nuanced. The end result is a big mess. Oh well, we only went to watch a giant ape climb the the Empire State Building, right?

Games and Links14 Dec 2005

A little marking (NP-hard graph algorithms), a little beer (guinness makes grading easier and sleep come more readily), a little reading about video game myths, and a little preparation for my exam in 13 hours, and you have my night. I’d mention “alliteration” too, but it doesn’t start with “g”.

Can’t wait to get out of here. The bus ride can’t come soon enough.

News08 Dec 2005

My sleep patterns are officially busted. I think my body is doing everything it can to help me not write my paper that I have due soon. I went to bed at 3 last night, didn’t sleep, went to bed again at 9, slept a bit, dreamed about roman soldiers. Specifically, I was the Master Chief of roman soldiers, the general’s favorite, and one of the only ones to survive the ambush by gallic cavalry. Eventually, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up as his trademark gun-slinging cyborg, and kidnapped my beloved General.

Now I am making Garden Vegetable and Whole Wheat Penne Pasta soup. I have no idea if this is breakfast, lunch, or supper (a case could be made for all three), but I have faith in soup. Soup is good. Soup makes me feel like a human being.

News06 Dec 2005

When, one day, as you are sitting comfortably at your university-issue desk working on one thing or another, and you overhear a couple of administrator-types walking by saying things like “yeah, we’re going tear out that wall and build 9 foot partitions over here”, and you say to yourself “They’ll probably send us an email or something warning us before they start ripping out walls”, know this: you could well be in error.

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A.I. and Games and Musings04 Dec 2005

I’ve been thinking about game AI lately. I suppose this is natural: I like games, and I like AI.

I recently played through Halo single player and was fairly impressed by the enemies. Enemies run for cover, try to flank you, dodge your grenades, retreat when wounded. Having written a little game code now and again, I can appreciate how hard it is to make AI characters move around the game world in an intelligent way, let alone do the things the Halo enemies do.

I found this neat talk given by some of the Halo AI programmers. One of the things that they stressed was that it is less important to make an unbeatable AI and more important to make an understandable AI: The player should be able to tell why the AI character did what it did.

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News02 Dec 2005

I’m 24 today. That sounds like a respectable age. When you’re 24, you shouldn’t be goofing around with kid’s stuff, you should be doing serious things.

I got my birthday present. It is also my Christmas present. And my Easter present (“We don’t give presents at Easter.” “We do this year, and it’s still the iPod”). I’m very pumped. Now I too can walk around town with pretentious white earbuds in my ears. Mmmmm. All my music, all the time. I may never talk to another human being again.

Also, we went for dinner at the Indian restaurant and saw Harry Potter. I’ll write about Harry Potter later. All I will say for now is I am very disappointed in the major deviation from the book in the final scenes. Having a troop of plucky Ewoks fight off a vastly superior for force and save the day was already implausible the last time it happened. What’s next, Jar Jar Binks teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts?