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The Pac Tom documentary! (28 Dec 2022 at 11:01)
It is done! I finished the Pac Tom project to run the length of every street in Pittsburgh in October, and (yes it took months) also this video documenting the project and finale:

How I ran the length of every street in Pittsburgh: PAC TOM
How I ran the length of every street in Pittsburgh: PAC TOM


The Pac Tom site now has the final data, but the video is the definitive way to see it!

I added the downloadable Soundtrack for completionists. I was horrified to find, when watching this video with some friends after I uploaded, that I had accidentally muted one of the audio tracks for the "final" version. You can rectify this by playing "Street (Trap Remix)" at exactly 11:58.
Categories:  videos  momentous  pac tom (6 comments — a week ago)   [ comment ]
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SIGBOVIK 2022: Harder Drive (30 Apr 2022 at 21:35)
This month was SIGBOVIK 2022, and I did a project called Harder Drive. There is a paper but as usual the premium experience can be had in the video version:

Harder Drive video thumbnail

Also as usual with these ambitious ones I was quite sick of the project at the end. Video editing is just such a grind. So I was relieved that many people liked the video. The algorithm seemed pleased too, and I got well past the 100,000 subscriber mark. This qualifies me for a free commemorative plaque. It is not guaranteed to grow in value, or even retain its value.

I added a few items after the initial post. There's now a torrent file with all my ping data and a viewer program for windows, which I'll keep up for a bit longer (it's just too big to host permanently; somehow disk space is always so limited on these cloud linux servers??). I also put up MP3s of the title card themes ("ringtones") over on the Tom 7 Entertainment System land of Musical P3s. Completionists may also be able to see a hurried live-recorded version of the talk on the SIGBOVIK Twitch account, which reportedly has a hilariously malfunctioning auto-camera (perhaps due to my face-detection-thwarting over-the-top tyvek body suit and mask). Although I can't seem to find the full video now so maybe it expired; I dunno, I don't understand how Twitch works. Anyway, you're not missing that much; the official video is much better. There were only two live talks this year (from two old guys, one being me) but there was an astonishing amount of content. The proceedings are 350 pages (I'm pretty sure this is the longest ever) apparently without even any funny business like dozens of pages of portmantout, and there were are a lot of well-done videos from around the world. I haven't dug into the papers much yet (I am still waiting for the printed version) but it was heartening to see so much participation. In Feburary it sorta looked like it wasn't even going to happen!

Speaking of CDC, I'm going to bed right now (okay, maybe a touch of Elden Ring first) to wake up early tomorrow for the Pittsburgh Marathon, which is back! I don't have a costume; I'm just going to try to run it like a regular 42-year-old. I have been running basically every day, but it's pretty unpredictable recently whether I'll feel great or medium or bad when I go out to run (probably a combination of overtraining and allergies or allergy medication). So I'm not sure if it's going to be good conditions to try to run it hard. But I haven't run a real race in a few years, so I'm looking forward to this as an opportunity.
Categories:  videos  sigbovik (3 comments — almost 5 months ago)   [ comment ]
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SIGBOVIK 2021 and other things of April (30 Apr 2021 at 18:25)
Yeah! Several newsy things from April. First up is my SIGBOVIK project, published on the first of the month (that's right, at Tom 7 Radar you can find out about the newest Tom 7 Projects a mere 29 days after they are announced in other venues!). This year's conference was virtual again, although they mercifully allowed for both audio and video in the submissions. From me the main artifacts are the 24 minute video Uppestcase and Lowestcase Letters and the 18-page paper of the same name. The project site also has some additional downloads. I'll let them speak for themselves! For SIGBOVIK, the presentations were limited to 5 minutes, so there's a highly truncated/ruined version of the video (not recommended unless for some weird reason you gotta catch 'em all) and a "double-blind" Q&A afterwards in the SIGBOVIK 2021 recording. There are some other good parts in there from friends and strangers; I especially liked Jim's "Dada" presentation (29m05s mark).

As usual I was feeling fairly sick of the project as I completed it, so it's nice encouragement that upon completion, it seems that others were not yet sick of the project and were willing to spend 24 minutes on it. It's not like the video is a viral hit at 73k views, but it was nice that it found an enthusiastic audience, and I definitely feel like it was successful. I've come to realize that I get a much bigger kick out of a viewership who is smart and "gets" the technical stuff and strange form of humor more than I do from simply making the numbers go up. Hopefully I can keep up the mood/momentum and finish a few more nearly-complete projects soon.

Speaking of momentum, I got my second vaccine shot, again driving to a Rite-Aid in a tiny town in Ohio for it. Possibly inspired by these two driving day trips but probably more a directly a consequence of cabin fever from staying at home for a year, I ended up buying a car! I've owned a car before (for example Van 7 and Van 7 2) but always a crappy car that was nearly dead, like for example before I donated Van 7 2 to NPR it could only be entered or exited through the back sliding door, and when the car was on it would always and forever play the one CD that was stuck in the CD player at slightly-too-loud volume because the CD player's faceplate was malfunctioning, which at least would cover up (for the unwise passengers and driver) the various scraping, shimmying, and structural unsoundness sounds that the van would make whenever it moved. Among other things. This time I got something that I thought would be fun to drive (we will pretty much only use this thing irregularly for trips or for picking up things at the hardware store that are a bit too large to carry home running, but nonetheless not too big to fit in the actually quite tiny back seat/trunk) and got a Mini Cooper convertible that looks like this:

Vanity license plate idea: POOPERS
Vanity license plate idea: POOPERS


Actually that lens angle makes it look bigger than it is. It is a tiny, silly car. And it is more fun to drive than the minivan indeed. We'll see whether it ultimately ends up being a foolish idea, but it should at least let us see family and do some safe outdoor activities as we try to mentally survive through the extended coda of the pandemic.

You know what else was annoying? A few weekends ago I tried rebooting the server that hosts various of my websites including this very blog, and it just failed to come back (dashboard just says like "ERROR" with no diagnostics) and none of the standard things gave me any information about what was wrong. Emergency console gives some internal error. Backup images wouldn't load either. I spent an hour+ on the phone with Rackspace support, who finally concluded the server was "just too old" to turn on. I had been upgrading the OS in place for many years, so this was a pretty annoying outcome (like they could have warned me at some point that the container image or whatever was going to fail to come back?). I never particularly liked Rackspace anyway (they bought the hosting company that I had started with), so I used the "opportunity" to switch to DigitalOcean, which is probably faster and a better deal and their website is certainly way better. So, it was a weekend down the drain, but spacebar.org has a new exoskeleton now. I think that I've gotten everything restored, but partly because some people have nicely sent me bug reports (e.g. muddle was behaving as though no boards had any words, because it couldn't find the dictionary file). So if you see anything amiss, please do lemme know.

I also took the "opportunity" of struggling to get my decades of legacy software running on a new system again to rewrite some of the guts of Escape to separate the UI from the server components a bit more. Now there is a subset of the game that can easily be compiled as standalone standard C++ (e.g. for the server-side components) without needing SDL, which is nice. The main thing I need to do with that before doing another release is to make it compile again for Mac OS and for the new ARM chips, which is somewhat daunting, but I left it in a reasonable state for the next time I have such energy, at least.

Current programming project is something between a game and an overly-complicated technology demo; we'll see how it goes!
Categories:  videos  sigbovik (7 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
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30 Weird Chess Algorithms: Elo World (31 Jul 2019 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!
Categories:  hacks  videos  sigbovik (13 comments — 6 days ago)   [ comment ]
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