This month I tried a thing, which was to run every single day, no exceptions. Running of course isn't that new for me, but I haven't done it this way before, where I was keeping up a lengthy streak rather than working on a number of miles a week or something like that. And it's probably not actually good for my bones and leg-strings to do it every day, but the idea of keeping up the streak has been motivating, sort of like posting a blog post every month, but without the forgetting. I usually run a 3 mile route or a 7.5 mile route. I got a new watch with a wrist-side heart rate sensor that actually works, and also discovered that Garmin has a Strava-like "segments" feature that you don't need to pay for and that isn't as competitive because cheapskates like me use it, which is good because it means I have some chance to win the segments. Segments is like some stretch of road or trail that has been designated by the community, and then you can see who's run it the fastest. I was fastest for a few days on Negley, a stupidly steep hill in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh, for example. The segment stuff and the heart rate monitor have both reminded me of the importance and pain of running fast, too; over the last decade I've really gotten in the habit of going for fairly leisurely runs without really noticing! So now pretty much every time I go out there's a part where I run as fast as I can, and almost puke my guts, and I think this has been helping significantly with fitness. We're going to try a half marathon in September, and although I don't think I'll be able to beat my twenty-something record, I think I'm on track to put in a good showing for my age group (i.e., OLD).
I know running training is boring, but another side-effect of this project is that although I feel generally good and sleep better, after I run I feel basically drained of creative energy and don't get "anything" done. I'm sitting on an almost-complete project that I just need to turn into a video from last month's post, and just haven't gotten the activation energy for it. I made (but didn't complete) some electron songs, and played through some hard video games, but the brain sugars to get through some of the slog and finish open-ended projects are a precious resource, and yet are consumed so readily by my day job and exercise. A better routine is probably to reserve the weekend mornings, at least, for a long stretch of uninterrupted project time.
I did one project, which was to build way of mounting my TV to this wooden pole in my living room without damaging it or other downsides, a project that had been simmering so long that it spanned a TV replacement and then the subsequent deprecation of the mounting bracket for that new TV, which meant that to even begin this absurdly involved project I had to drop unreasonable coin on hard-to-find new-old-stock non-VESA metal mounting thing on eBay, at which point I could start drafting in CAD:
Then you just build it:
Real reality is of course harder because you have to deal with tolerances and bolts don't come in that length and Not Actually Flat and That Operation Seems Dangerous on the table saw, but this one came out rather close to the specifications. I used the approach of printing out 1:1 plans and pasting them to the boards (solid oak boards for extreme! unnecessary! strength!), which I then could use as templates for shaping on the table saw, mostly by eyeballing the lines.
The only major downside of this is that it was hard to get the templates off the nice wood faces at the end—harder than it looks when the YouTube geniuses do it. Would try this again, though.
Well, I didn't finish anything yet, but I'll share three mesh-related mysterious screenshots of work in progress (hopefully I finish one of these over the long weekend):
I'll at least say what this one is: I've been experimenting with photogrammetry, which is remarkable technology that reconstructs a scene from photographs. In this case, I took about 750 photos of my basement, and just from those photos (and several hours of CPU/GPU time), software is able to reconstruct where the camera was located for each photo, then use the alignment of those cameras to infer the geometry of the scene as well as textures. It's pretty amazing to me that this works (I mean, obviously our brains can do this, so it's clearly possible, it's just impressive) and it's actually pretty practical for capturing a scene. In this case you're seeing a corner that I didn't photograph much, and haven't done much cleanup on. I've been working on my blender skills in an attempt to make a decently complete and clean model that can be experienced in VR, for those times that I want to go down to my basement but don't want to actually descend any stairs.
Ha! This month I remembered to post on time. Nothing that interesting to share yet, but I continue to make progress on my game project (getting over some of the annoying and frustrating hurdles like making the somewhat unique physics work well), and had a couple new weird applications of computers ideas that I played around with and that might become something but who knows. I'm also the kind of person now who spends a long weekend organizing his basement. For example, there was this gross old rusty metal cabinet down there,
The cabinet was fixed by closing it
just covered in this disease-like rust, and I spent rather a long time sanding it down and repainting it in a tastefully selected tri-tone and then painting it again when the rust disease just poked grossly through the paint right away, like four times. And then I realized that the shelves are not actually good for storing the kind of hoard of miscellaneous electronics bits and other weird parts that I might use for something someday, so I started making some unreasonably nice wood boxes to put in the shelves, and that's what I was up to yesterday evening. And this is in like a spider-webby moist corner of my basement. Meanwhile I have like a pile of clothes in a bag on the floor of my bedroom that I still haven't put away since moving in. Difficult-to-justify prioritization, evidence of eccentricity, and such.
I played a couple of video games recently, and one that I really liked was called Environmental Station Alpha. It is mostly a straightforward Metroid-style game (with even some blatant inspiration/homages), but for me it had a nice difficulty curve and just the right balance of abusable bugs, as well as some great music and weird secrets. (The depth of different endings and things you can do if you really get into the game is quite impressive.) That was one of my favorites in recent memory, and if anybody has recommendations in that vein I'd be delighted to hear 'em. I didn't write a review of this one yet, but I do write a fair number of reviews on Steam (here's my reviews page).
Tonight I am going to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals! :) Let's go Pittsburgh!
Again I have failed at posting on time. This one was backdated from May 1 with no excuse! At least it's not so common that I've written a way to do this without manually editing timestamps in the database...
I took a short break after last month's too-much-work SIGBOVIK project, and then eventually decided to get back into working on a game project that I started a few years ago but abandoned for no good reason. I'm definitely deep back into it, though I struggled all weekend writing and re-writing some of the core physics stuff, and it's been frustratingly slow. The whole point of doing a game project is to do something where I know how to do it and can spend most of the effort making content instead of beating my head against the wall! But I guess pretty much all programming projects that interest me these days have some head-beating. Hopefully I will figure that part out before I lose momentum, and will have something to share soon. :)
Hello my bloggies! I back-dated this post because even though I was all set up to post about my SIGBOVIK accomplishments, which this time conveniently occurred in the month of March, I then celebrated SIGBOVIK so thoroughly as to go to bed without actually posting here.
This year's invention is a strange artifact; if you want to experience it with fewest spoilers and have some time, then check out the paper version. I also put together a youtube video, since I like doing that:
Despite the possibly misleading thumbnail, the video is mostly live-action, as I it after a popular YouTube series called Numberphile. The project doesn't lend itself too well to video, so my feelings won't be hurt if you don't sit through this one. :) I did my best to make the ideas and puzzles fun for people that don't have deep knowledge of this stuff but are interested.
Also, I must say: The conference this year was excellent, perhaps the best ever. The conference hall was packed; the overall quality of work was very high; the proceedings is thick with really interesting stuff (interspersed with the requisite juvenilia), and the talks were well-prepared and didn't drag on, thanks partly to the new timer system. It's pretty crazy how this conference has a life of its own now; almost nobody from the original group is organizing or even writing papers for it. We may even be getting to the point where we have to be selective about what we print..???