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ICFP Contest 2022, Great Race 2022, Birthday 2022 (30 Sep at 22:53)
As I mentioned in the post 1208 we did get the band partly back together for this year's ICFP Programming Contest. This is a freeform (any size team, "any computational resources at your disposal") 72-hour contest that I've participated in many times before (and led the design of the 2006 contest). This year's was a pretty good problem which was basically to try to draw pictures using a little instruction set with a strange cost function. The instructions are things like: split a rectangle into subrectangles, color a rectangle, swap rectangles of equal size, merge rectangles. We had a team of four working full time (I took a vacation day from my "programming" job to program this instead) with a some help from others in the chat room. As expected we all kinda gravitated towards our favorite part of the problem (often, not the most important thing), like I wrote some kind of mediocre heuristic solver and got distracted by some algorithmic subproblem and optimizing code; Jason made a UI; David wrote submission and solution management infrastructure and Adam dabbled in everything. We didn't do that great; at some points we were in the top 10, or even briefly at 1 because our automated solution and submission infrastructure allowed us to solve a new batch of puzzles before anyone else. But by the last day we were pretty behind. It's easy to imagine how we could have done much better at the contest—my solver was not that bad in principle but I had ignored part of the cost function (cut size) that I thought was a minor detail, but which turned out to maybe be the most impactful term, for example. But it's hard to imagine having more fun; we definitely achieved that late-night delirium of in-joke upon in-joke that was just like the grad school days. (I also take some pride in how many bugs we found and reported in the task and support code!)

Here's an example image our solution produced:
Problem 27, Robot
Problem 27, Robot
Somehow this one reminds me of artwork from "Sword and Sworcery."

I'm feeling somewhat better than I did last month, and had some tests that have at least cleared me for active duty, so that's good. I've been trying to get back in running shape, and for example ran Pittsburgh's Great Race this last weekend. I've run this one many times before, both in an attempt to get a good time and in ridiculous costumes and also several times just casually. This weekend was in the casual category, and I had an acceptable time of 44m03s. In a few weeks we're going to do the Detroit Marathon, which is exciting because the course goes under the Detroit river into Canada! But I'm not going to be in shape enough to set a personal record on this one (despite my declaration of intent in May) nor will I try any shenanigans.

Real quick in Video Games: I finished Sniper Elite 5 (it continued to be exactly what you expected) and started Stray (excellent animation and mood; not totally sold on "gameplay" but I'm enjoying it), and then binged Trombone Champ. This game has pretty much the same vibe as my favorite YouTube video, and though it's very silly, it's also a pretty solid rhythm/music game. Some of the original tracks get stuck in my head for sure. No way I am going to try to get the S-rank achievements but I did become a proper Champ.

But mostly I've been spending my free time trying to wrap up this most recent silly programming project, which I think is fundamentally a good joke and probably new, but there's always something to either get distracted or stymied by. I'm in the phase where new project ideas are beckoning me, which tends to be a pretty good motivator!

(Oh yeah, and then I turned 43 years old!)
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tubbdoose (206.87.127.117) – 10.01.22 02:08:42
Happy Birthday!!!
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Anonymous (37.201.226.46) – 10.01.22 09:02:43
Happy Birthday! Glad you feel fit enough to start running again.

Will this "silly programming project" become a new Youtube video?
I always enjoy them immensely :)
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Anonymous (64.130.117.113) – 10.21.22 20:58:59
you gotta check out the modded trombone champ scene, its great
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Tom 7 (185.156.46.35) – 10.31.22 21:45:44
Anonymous 1: Yes I believe so! I have quite a backlog of videos though!
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