Oops, I accidentally played Zelda: Breath of the Wild until after midnight and missed my reserved time to post a September update. Part of the update is that I played this game a whole lot, and it's really great for someone of my sensibilities (like once you get past the first part of the game it tells you to go to some town, but you can just do anything you want, so I went in the other direction. The game is excellent at creating these little puzzles and stories from the way you choose to play it. I spent two hours trying to climb up the side of some cliff face, finding the little polygons where I could just glitch it enough to regain my stamina, and when I got to the top I froze to death right away. It was awesome). Coincidentally, the last PC game I played was "Just Cause 3", which is kind of the same idea except with God Mode enabled by default and guns. Anyway, sorry for another lamez post!
I've continued the running project that I remarked on in #1147, making something like 90 days of consecutive runs now; no exceptions. (I don't actually know when it started because I don't have records of days that I used the treadmill or elliptical, so I'm not sure if some of the old gaps were filled or not, I mean before I decided that I was doing this.) I've definitely gotten in better shape, although I think I'm feeling signs of plateauing at this point. Goal is at least to make it to the marathon that I'm running in Lausanne at the end of October. Similar to something that happens every September—but with a new, larger number—I turned 38 and ran the Great Race 10k. I'm definitely nowhere near as fast as I was nine years ago, but I had a basically reasonable finish of 47m07s, for an average pace of 7m35s/mile. I also even did some Pac Tom runs this month; you can see some updated maps on the Pac Tom ultimate website.
Since there are a few hills and laps that I run every day, but Garmin's site is kind of garbage for keeping track of my times, I've been developing some software for parsing the GPS trails and doing Tom 7-approved careful maths to calculate the times and various other statistics. Mostly it gives me something to think about when I'm running, but I should also be able to share some interesting graphs and conclusions (e.g. is it better to rest thoroughly before running up a big hill) as I accumulate more data.
I like the four-song format, since I tend to collect songs throughout the year and it's a pretty efficient way to discharge some #1 club hits while forcing myself to finish some stinkers to pad the discography. The songs:
1. ceors' - This is the only one I'm sure I like. I came home after having a discussion or argument with my friend William about jazz, feeling nonspecifically mad about his formalist approach, and hate-wrote this "jazz" song which is weird and which I quite like. for #1 club hit.
I did do a pretty slapdash job on the mastering (not to mention the cover art, though do you see my typographic joke? this album is twice foreshadowing an upcoming project, in fact), so I reserve the right to upload new versions of these if I listen to them tomorrow and can't stand some mistake. When I link them up from the t7es homepage or new bandcamp page, you'll know that they're certified fresh on the tom7atom7eter.
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!