Well, I really didn't do much this month—that last project was pretty hectic and ended with a bunch of travel, and then I also had some work travel, and so I've mostly just been recovering this month. Finished up some video games, started some new games, the usual.
The run-every-day quest is still active and coming up on the one-year mark, at which point I expect to declare victory and retire from that (hopefully keeping a healthier 5- or 6-day a week habit). But I'll save that retrospective for when it's actually done.
I did do a couple trips for my Pac Tom project, which I'm back in the mindset of actually trying to complete. During a absurdly torrential storm I finally finished off Perry North, one of the more difficult neighborhoods (it's distant, like 6 miles just to get there, hilly, and has lots of streets). A couple more North Side neighborhoods remain, and then I should be able to finish off the South Side remnants in a single trip or so, depending on how much I want to savor it.
Of course I can't run every street in the world, but one side quest is running across borders (state, country, or like the width of islands) and this last week I completed a new achievement here. While in Basel, Switzerland, I did a single run that crossed through Germany, France and Switzerland (and indeed all the pairwise borders). It's quite easy if you're in Basel, actually, but I was still excited about it. Since I've also done Switzerland and Italy this connects a rather large chunk of Europe. There aren't many places where you could do more than 3 countries, but possibly I could make Switzerland – Liechtenstein – Austria – Germany (about a marathon distance). There's also this spot but it seems to involve some swimming!
The first video is the project itself, a weird self-explanatory joke, and the second one is a longer explanation of some of the technical stuff and the process that I went through to create it. Of course, up to you, but I think both have something to offer for the audience that reads Tom 7 Radar. :)
I went to Seattle to present basically the first talk to two different audiences (first at Deconstruct and then at UW's PoCSci, which is like their version of SIGBOVIK.) I was delighted to have the privilege to do both of these without so much as telling anybody involved the title of my talk, let alone anything about its context or e.g. weird equipment, which allowed me to do a more sneak-attack "reveal." This was very fun. Here's me on the big stage. The screen is 40' diagonal, so these pixels are about 1.88 square inches each!
Tom 7 at Deconstruct
It was a fun project but pretty hectic. Now I am aggressively relaxing by cleaning my basement and playing some video games (Steamworld Dig 2; great so far!). I have some ideas for the next thing, but also a bunch of travel coming up, so I'm taking it easy.
Well, not a lot to report this month; I've been hard at work on this new project which I'll show off at the end of the month (Deconstruct and PoCSci, and probably a youtube video). It's turning out to be harder than I naively thought (isn't it always? and even taking that into account?) but at this point several things are working and I'm satisfied that it is at least possible, so I'm not giving up! Tonight I have to order some more printed circuit boards because the ones I got, although awesome, are very slightly wrong due to my own sloppy measurements. It's an amazing world we live in where you can get high quality custom PCBs from China in a week, but there are not many weeks left for me to wait for boards and realize I screwed up, so it's time to get this one right!
In post 1154 I mentioned that I had finished "most of the reasonable stuff" in Celeste, and now I've actually finished all of the reasonable stuff and some more possibly unreasonable stuff (all regular berries, b-sides, c-sides). That game continued to hold up for me through the c-sides, although it gets pretty grueling. I feel pretty good at it but then I watch the speedrunners and it's obvious I'm still in amateurville. But, I've had enough. Any new games to recommend?
Have kept up the running every day, now at like 8+ straight months. It's much easier now that the weather is getting nice and (especially) my neck is more or less okay. Not expecting to continue the every-day-no-excuses rule after the one year mark, though!
Thursday was SIGBOVIK 2018, held on April -2, the earliest it has ever occurred, due to various holidays and weekends. I don't have any grand project this time, but I did write one paper and coauthor another. The latter was with the SIGBOVIK elder Jim McCann (and was mostly his work); it's The fluint8 Software Integer Library for processors that only have floating point instructions. My other paper was a basically real (but not that rigorous) analysis of a huge database of academic papers to demonstrate that authors with alphabetically earlier names get more citations. That one's called Academic Advancement Advice: Author Articles as A. A.. It also contains some other related study, like the title words most and least likely to get you cited. I wish I had finished some more things for the conference, but on the other hand it is nice that it has so much independent momentum!
My neck has been getting better so I've been doing some running and physical-universe projects, which are not too interesting to describe here. But I have also some fun stuff underway, in particular for two speaking engagements in Seattle in May: PoCSci which is like UW's version of SIGBOVIK, and Deconstruct which is a more serious—if still tolerant/encouraging of weird stuff—event. The project is going well so far but it's a bit stressful, since you never really know if it will even be possible until you're knee deep in it, you know?
Old man complains about discomfort
(28 Feb at 23:37)
Here we are again!
My neck is still giving me and my arm nerves trouble, though it is not as dire as it was in January. I've tried running a few times when it wasn't hurting too bad, including a 5K (Race for the Cure) while on vacation in Florida. I did reasonably okay, finishing 7th overall (eponymous) and 1st in my age group (old mans) with a time of 21m08s. It's a good reminder that the daily elliptical machine or exercise bike does work OK for keeping me in shape, even if I feel pretty rotten. Hopefully next time I'll report that I got better on my own or have some plan to fix it, because this is NOT COOL!
Did I even do anything else this month? I finally built a table saw sled, which is useful for making e.g. other table saw sleds, and finished the basement shelves project I described in the last post. The Learnfun/Playfun work is coming along, though some stuff (from the 3Dification project) that I expected would be easy to apply turns out to be harder than I thought for my test game (Contra) due to the crazy way that game works. So I've done some generalization of that, which is at least a fun puzzle. Unfortunately it's unlikely that I'll have this ready for SIGBOVIK, so I gotta think of something else (presumably simpler!) for that deadline, which is in two weeks.
I can heartily recommend Celeste if you like a hard platformer game, as I do. It's familiar gameplay wise, but it does almost everything right, has charming art and story, and just loads of challenges and secrets. I've played it a lot this month and finished most of the reasonable stuff (almost all the berries, hearts, b-sides) in 25 hours and 6688 deaths so far, each delicious. 10/10 would buy again.