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Entries from June 2024
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June 2024 (30 Jun at 21:56)
As predicted, I posted my new video called Badness 0. If you are waiting for me to post the video here, you are a poor detective! I think it's best without spoilers, which is why the title and thumbnail have very little useful information in them, although the thumbnail is intended to be an attractive nuisance for people with eyes/brains like mine:

Badness O
Badness O


Of course the whole system is set up to punish you if you don't have a clickbait title with a human face making an astonished look and an arrow at something in the video with some bold text that says "OVERSTATED PREMISE!" So if you did like it, please share the old fashioned way. Someone plausibly told me that they showed it to Knuth, which I choose to believe is true.

The video was not really that much more work than usual (although I am practicing new techniques and using new equipment) but since it came after several rounds of crunch on the same project (papers, SIGBOVIK talk, NYC talk) I did rather feel like a break. But a few bugs and unfinished things in BoVeX were haunting me, so I got sucked back into programming this month, although at a relaxed pace. I fixed the bug reported in previous comments where the files wouldn't render on some platforms, or would have really screwed up kerning. I added compression, so that you can't see my unoptimized PDF code if you open it in a text editor. I fixed the bugs with mutually recursive function bundles that capture polymorphic variables. I fixed the bug where the internal bytecode routine that creates nodes always flattens them into normal form, which fixes the weird spaces in some situations. I got it compiling in recent GCCs. I think I'm successfully done hacking on it for now, although I suspect I will use BoVeX for future papers, so I will be back!

Other things: I let myself play video games and promptly got addicted to Hades, which is excellent, as you probably know. I have "beaten" it but I'm not really finished; a more detailed review in a future post.

Right now we are working on the 2024 ICFP Programming Contest so I should probably get back to that. I am enjoying this one, not only because it continues the story of the 2006 contest that I led (it still works! and is also best without spoilers!). I'll write about this too, but there's still 10 hours left in the contest so fair play forbids me from showing any images until after. (Not that we are doing great or anything, but we're pretty close to solving every puzzle, at least!) So I should probably get back to that!
Category:  videos (2 comments — almost 3 weeks ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from May 2024
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Green scream (31 May at 22:58)
In a fashion that's thematically appropriate for the project, I'm "taking my time" with this video (e.g. I am still writing new code for it today??). It mostly means that I feel behind a lot. But I think I am truly close now to being done. I got all my new gear working together, 3D-printing rig pieces and so on. This has been generally fun. I'm also enjoying the occasion to experiment with new approaches and video editing techniques. I even cleaned out a significant section of my basement for a temporary studio:

Green scream
Green scream


I think I have about 120 seconds of finished video here, which is far worse than my usual bad pace of about an hour a minute. Fortunately the rest should be much more straightforward, and I hope to just record the audio and be done with it this weekend. Pro tip, though: Don't install the new version of Adobe Premiere Pro while you're knee-deep in a complicated edit. Why would you press that button?

My procrastination: I fully beat Teardown and all the stakes in Balatro (but I may try to finish the last few challenges). Both good games, recommended. For light procrastination I have been playing Grapple Dog which has cute graphics and writing and is getting better as the levels get more challenging, but I probably wouldn't fully recommend. It's a stage-by-stage linear platformer with three irritations: The controls are a little too "snap-to-nearest" (like you will often initiate an unwelcome wall jump just because you jump near a wall) for me, the music is annoying, and I really want to get all the purple gems, but I can never tell whether I'm going the "right" way or the "wrong" way, and so I will often miss them just because of that. But I do basically like the game. I also started, for procrastination purposes, Humanity, which was recommended to me a while ago. It is good. The Steam videos do not do justice to how slick the game's graphics are (especially the UI has all these fluid little touches and impressive continuity as you transition between levels); I think it needs to run on a big monitor with a high frame rate. At its core it's mostly a puzzle game, with many things you have seen before, but also some new clever stuff (and I am only on the 2nd world, so I presume they have more surprises in store for me).

I believe this is all.
(13 comments — a month ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from April 2024
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"April" 2024 (30 Apr at 23:59)
Oops! Usually when I fail to post on time and then illegally backdate the post, yielding a penalty of -1,000 points, it's shortly after midnight. Like, as I'm trying to fall asleep (which of course involves and involuntary inventory of everything I may have failed to do), I'm struck with a panic and then get back out of bed to write some dumb pro-forma apology post. This time I just went to bed and actually fell asleep and now here I am noticing that it is May 1. Still, the whole point of doing this every month is to make the grid of months line up nicely, so the post is backdated by 9 hours and nets -1,000 points.

Speaking of lining up nicely: I did get my SIGBOVIK papers in on time and gave a lightning talk at the conference. SIGBOVIK was very popular this year, with our longest-ever proceedings (see SIGBOVIK 2024 PDF or bound volume). This year my project is a paper about a new typesetting system that I wrote to produce the paper (and the talk's slides). That system is called BoVeX and the paper is called Badness 0, which you can read as Badness 0 (Knuth's version) and/or Badness 0 (Epsom's version). You can also maybe find a recorded livestream of the breakneck 5 min presentation, but I would wait for the proper video (in progress now!), which is the same content with much better pacing and details.

Speaking of details: I also presented at An Evening of Unnecessary Detail, which is one of Matt Parker ("Standup Maths")'s live shows. Other than the part where I tried to pack a dense months-long technical project about details into 12 minutes, this was a blast! Lots of cool, interesting people. This took place in a proper comedy club in Brooklyn, like with posters of people that I watch on TV (e.g. Taskmaster legend Fern Brady is performing there in a few weeks, so it seems I'm a mere 5 or 6 steps away from my dream of being a contestant on Taskmaster now), and was sold out (due exclusively to the eminence of others, since it was sold out before I even joined the bill). I finally hung out with Grant Sanderson ("3blue1brown") and told him about math. The audience was amazingly attentive and wholesome, and quite a few of them recognized me and wanted to talk after the show, which is fun. (I do not envy the queue that Matt and Grant endured, though!) Enjoy my technically deficient vacation photography:

I'm photobombing, but Matt is so used to this act that he is reflexively crouching down so as not to appear twice my height
I'm photobombing, but Matt is so used to this act that he is reflexively crouching down so as not to appear twice my height


Speaking of technically deficient photography: An additional reason why my video is not done yet (or indeed, why it currently has status Filming 0) is that I finally pulled the shutter release on a new video camera. After much deliberation (and visiting the B&H showroom while in NY, etc.), including on far more ridiculous options, I settled on the Canon R5C. After a complex week-long courtship ritual with the FedEx guy, that finally arrived last night, at which point I immediately realized that I need further accessories. But I'm excited to shoot on this thing and to make my computer suffer with 8k video. It seems to have gotten too complacent with "Full HD."

Finally, I think the main reason I failed to post on time last night was that I was up late playing Balatro. This game is all over the place so you probably don't need me to tell you about it, but it is indeed a good (and addictive) deck-building game that I am enjoying instead of sleep. I am not interested in 100%ing this one, but there are still lots of appealing challenges left for me to do. I'd recommend it if you have the self control to avoid firing it up "for a quick game" when you should be working on your projects or sleeping.
(19 comments — almost 2 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from March 2024
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THPS Rules! (30 Mar at 18:05)
Oof, so busy! I finished up my paper(s) for SIGBOVIK and submitted them. Phew. I'll post 'em here after the embargo ends. I think the papers may be the canonical form of this particular project, but I'm starting on a visual version, which will probably become a video some time this month. (First up: I need to prep a live version for Unnecessary Detail, as mentioned in the previous post.) But right now I'm also on the West coast (in a car traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego) for a short family trip which was cut even shorter by the Spirit of Bad Aircraft Management of Spirit Airlines. Immediately upon arriving at the hotel I looked out our window and saw a little park and thought, "it would be fun to skateboard in that park," (I am not a skateboarder) and then, "did I already skateboard in that park 20 years ago in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater?" and I looked it up and yes, the Los Angeles level in THPS3 is based on that very park.

I thought I wasn't going to be able to make the SIGBOVIK live event at all because of this trip, but it looks like I will be back and might try to make it, depending partly on whether I can get any material together for a talk in time.

I spent most of my free time in March on hacking and writing for this silly paper, but sometimes the brain needs a break, and I continued with Teardown. I think this game is great. It is impressive technically and graphically. The sandbox is fun; I had a great time painstakingly disassembling an enormous blast furnace until the framerate became intolerable. (The way the physics works, the entire blast furnace can be held up by the connection of a single voxel. This is obviously totally unrealistic but it is pretty fun to try to blowtorch around an entire building and then try to hunt down why it is still standing.) But I was also impressed with how they managed to make the missions compelling too. There are a couple of ergonomic annoyances (like: There are limitations on what keys can be rebound to what, so I had to play with a controller. And the quick-save is great, but given that you might spend an hour setting up a heist in a level, it would be nice if you could make an in-level save that was a little less quick, just in case you accidentally stayed up to 2am). Getting close to the end of that one. I also played through Gunlocked, which was a good small Roguelike shoot-em-up. The powerups were really well done; it just could've used a bit more variety in the bad guys.

OK, getting a bit carsick here so I'm going to put the laptop away. See you soon.
(10 comments — almost 3 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from February 2024
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Leap day! (29 Feb at 23:08)
So what? We went to Mexico for vacation, visiting the island of Cozumel and some nameless resort area between Cancún and Playa del Carmen. This was just a vacation, for relaxing, so I spent most of the time programming for fun or writing my SIGBOVIK paper, but with a nice view of the ocean and a little bit of sand in my keyboard, and a little bit of mediocre Mexican beer. Cozumel was a pretty neat place: We happened to be there for the 150th year of their Carnival, which was happening concurrently with the Super Bowl, so there was a wild collision of tourist "culture" and local culture one evening. I added a picture to the Wikipedia article. It's a sparsely populated island, small enough to bike pretty much the whole way around, although as the bike rental guy informed us, "most people leave in the morning." We did some caving and won some bingo games and did some moderate to severe food poisoning, and now I'm back!

So what else? I'm deep into my project now and the end is (sort of?) in sight, but time is running short and I keep adding unnecessary aspects to it. It's fine. Even though I feel some pressure to keep making these elaborate projects, for deadlines, the real point of my hobby is for me to enjoy the spirit of the hack, which sometimes just means reimplementing typed closure conversion for the nth time.

Oh! I will be presenting at An Evening of Unnecessary Detail in Brooklyn on April 14. I have a silly style of beard again so that you can tell me apart from Matt Parker (aside from his very different accent and he's much taller than me and says it as "maths" and actually doesn't even really look like me now that I'm looking at a picture again). I think this will be quite fun.

I've been playing trough Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, which like Katamari Damacy I had played some of ~20 years ago and had always wanted to finish. I do love struggling with a precision platformer, though as usual with 3D ones the analogueness and camera trouble can be a bit of a drag. It's a good game with a good flow, though, and I'm like 80% of the way through it at this point. And speaking of 3D precision platformers, Celeste 64 is a cute 3Dification of Celeste (which remains one of my all-time favorites in the precision platformer genre) that they released for free recently. Initially I found this game really frustrating; it doesn't have nearly the same attention to detail in the controls that the 2D game does. But by the time I finished it, the controls and camera no longer seemed disastrous to me, and I pretty much liked it. On the other end of the spectrum, I for some reason bought "Yeah! You Want "Those Games," Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let's See You Clear Them!" and then for some reason beat every level of it. This game is an in-depth implementation of some notorious "games" featured in Mobile Game Hell-type advertisements. (If you're not aware of this phenomenon, it's common for the advertisement to depict some kind of casual gameplay that looks kinda fun, but that if you download the app it's linked to, it's like some totally different game like Clash Of Clans or something like that. So there are all these fairly recognizable games that you can't actually play. Bizarre! I'm guessing that there's just a market for "just get us downloads of the app" where they literally don't even care what the content of the advertisement is.) Anyway, this long-titled game is an implementation of some of those, with like hundreds of levels. Honestly I can't tell how ironic it is, but I did appreciate it as artwork even though it was also basically torture. I recommend it if you are my enemy, or if you like is-it-art?-torture. Having finished that and immediately deleted it, I just started Teardown, which I like so far, but I haven't gotten into it enough to provide a full take.
(5 comments — almost 4 months ago)   [ comment ]
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