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Entries from July 2019
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30 Weird Chess Algorithms: Elo World (31 Jul at 18:26)
OK! I did manage to finish the video I described in the last few posts. It's this:

30 Weird Chess Algorithms: Elo World
30 Weird Chess Algorithms: Elo World


I felt pretty down on this video as I was finishing it, I think mostly in the same way that one does about their dissertation, just because of the slog. I started it just thinking, I'll make a quick fun video about all those chess topics, but then once I had set out to fill in the entire tournament table, this sort of dictated the flow of the video even if I wanted to just get it over with. So it was way longer than I was planning, at 42 minutes, and my stress about this just led to more tedium as I would micro-optimize in editing to shorten it. RIP some mediocre jokes. But it turns out there are plenty of people on the internet who enjoy long-form nerdy content like this, and it was well-received, which is encouraging. (But now I am perplexed that it seems to be more popular than NaN Gates and Flip-FLOPS, which IMO is far more intetersting/original. I guess the real lesson is just make what you feel like making, and post it!) The 50+ hours programming, drawing, recording and editing did have the desired effect of getting chess out of my system for now, at least.

Since last post I played Gato Roboto which is a straightforward and easy but still very charming "Metroidvania." Now I'm working my way through Deux Ex: Mankind Divided, which (aside from the crashing) is a a very solid sequel to Human Revolution. Although none of these games is likely to capture the magic of the original (one of my all-time faves), they do definitely have the property that you can play them in ways that the developer didn't explicitly set out for you, and as you know I get a big kick out of that.

Aside from the video games, I've picked back up a 10 year-old project that I never finished because it was a little bit outside my skillset. But having gotten significantly better at electronics and CNC, it is seeming pretty doable now. Stay tuned!
Category:  hacks (3 comments — almost 2 weeks ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from June 2019
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I still always confuse June and July (30 Jun at 23:17)
Ugh, well, I still didn't finish the video I mentioned last post (it is just a video version of some of my chess papers from this last SIGBOVIK; don't get too excited), but I made a lot of progress on it this weekend. This one has a lot of custom software, some of which is hours of work for like 10 seconds on-screen. This approach is "fun" but not efficient. At least I have a good approach to the video so it's just a matter of turning the crank now.

I finished The Messenger. My verdict is that it is good. Some aspects of it are fantastic (8-bit graphics and writing) and most are very good, but the game was not very hard and the "metroidvania" aspects of it were mostly about retreading ground between distant teleports. I managed to get all the achievements, which I don't usually do, but there was just like one hard one left.

Speaking of hard ones, next up is/was Dead Cells, whose verdict is great. This is a grindy (lots of unlockables/upgrades) roguelike platformer with really excellent controls and "flow", almost feeling like a twitchy fighting game at times. It's no "Spelunky" or even "Crypt of the Necrodancer"; what set those apart for me is how the design of the random level generation really tended to create these interesting situations and puzzles. But this game has an impressive amount of content (the graphics and the sheer variety of weapons/powerups both stand out to me) and is just really fun to play, except when you die (which is always). Just now I finally beat the game on "Hard" (second boss cell) so it may be time to retire. I bought like 9 more games on the Steam summer sale, after all!
(6 comments — almost 3 weeks ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from May 2019
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Entries from May 2019 (31 May at 23:48)
Well, nothing major to report this month, except at least we have some content: The conference I first showed my Reverse Emulation project at in 2018 (Deconstruct) finally posted the video of my talk, which was called "Improper Hierarchy." The talk is of course similar to the living room CRT video I put on youtube, but it might be interesting even if you've already seen that (watching it a year later, there are at least some funny ad-libbed parts IMO!). The video production is very high quality (in general the conference was very well run and the speaker experience in particular I heartily endorse) but also quite serious-seeming, so I like how it comes across as some bizarro-world TED talk.

This month I've made some progress on another video, which maybe I can wrap up this weekend. Nothing too grandeur, though. Sometimes hard to keep that under control!

Also: I played through Minit, which was a really excellent and creative little game (can finish it in an evening) that I super recommend. I just started The Messenger which definitely has some charms and surprises; I need to finish it before I can decide between "good" and "great" but I think I can at least recommend it if you like exploration-style platformers.
(2 comments — almost 3 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from April 2019
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NaN Gates and Flip FLOPS (30 Apr at 23:41)
I was hoping to have a few things to write about in this month, but the only thing I finished was this video for SIGBOVIK, right at the beginning:

NaN Gates and Flip FLOPS
NaN Gates and Flip FLOPS


There is also the paper which has some merits but I submitted that before actually finishing the project, so I think the video is the definitive version. Either way this one is really aimed at trolling computer scientists, and so may be impenetrable if you don't have the background; sorry about that!

Allergies and various things have got me down recently but it's also getting nice out, which should provide a burst of energy!! This weekend is the Marathon in Pittsburgh, which I intend to run. No costume plans but sometimes I get last minute inspiration / compulsion. Feel free to taunt me with your ideas.
Categories:  hacks  video  sigbovik (4 comments — almost 3 months ago)   [ comment ]
Entries from March 2019
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CHESSBOVIK (31 Mar at 21:49)
Well, here we are on the eve of SIGBOVIK 2019. I'm in the midst of a long day of video-making for one of my projects, but I can get 2 for the price of 5 by posting now about four of my papers. This year I've been on a chess kick, which I think I've successfully gotten out of my system by writing all these (previous posts alluded to there being five, but one of them didn't really go anywhere and/or just became part of the other(s)). They are sort of intertwined:

Survival in chessland is about how to stay alive if you are being a chesspiece to the death

Color- and piece-blind chess is about, among other things, playing chess without being able to tell what the pieces are (only where they are)

Elo World, a framework for benchmarking weak chess engines is about exploring the full spectrum of computer chess play

CVE-2018-90017117 #KingMe is just a short joke, but based on a true story


My last paper is on a different (maybe even weirder?) topic, and I'm putting together a video for it now, so I should be uploading that tomorrow some time. It's been a bit rough going, though, since I replaced my computer a few months ago and forgot that I hadn't actually set stuff up for this kind of work; I'm experiencing small problems like custom key commands aren't set, and bigger problems like audio drivers acting crazy. Looks like I will be able to finish with some vacation time, at least.


Speaking of vacation, this month we also went to Belize, which was pretty cool. The highlight for me was swimming/scrambling 1km into a cave ("Actun Tunichil Muknal") to access an approximately 1000 year-old Mayan site where they performed human sacrifices; it's remarkable because almost all of the artifacts are still in situ, including a number of calcified human skeletons. Was pretty wild. I got some good running done, found some New Haven-style pizza (!?), and wrote papers about chess (?!).
Categories:  sigbovik  hacks (3 comments — almost 4 months ago)   [ comment ]
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