Dead iMac

We got an iMac in January 2009 to compile Hackers of 2073 for iOS. After finishing the game, we used the Boot Camp feature to set up the machine as a Windows box and set it up in the kitchen for recipes and web browsing. The machine worked well for this use and we really liked that it was nearly silent.

A month or so ago, the hard drive died. Unfortunately it is not included in the list of defective iMac’s which were sold after October 2009, so I wanted to replace the bad drive. This is something that I have done many times on my PCs. I knew that it would be harder on the iMac since it is an all-in-one machine. I imagined that it would be like fixing a laptop. Continue reading “Dead iMac”

Geocaching in City Park

We went Geocaching with Lucas, Jessie and their kids on Saturday. We did an elaborate multipart geo cache in City Park in downtown Denver. The geocache had a fantasy, chose your own adventure story behind it. We printed out the story and spellbook and set out on our adventure. You can see all the pictures here.

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Trip to Belgium and The Netherlands

We took a two week trip to Belgium and The Netherlands with my brother, his wife and my parents.

Since returning from the trip, I have spent a bunch of time going through pictures. I took  ~2200 pictures and trimmed it down to ~1750. I caption, geo-tag, people-tag and do some basic tuning for each picture. The pictures are finally available on this website here.

We stayed in four cities: Amsterdam, Delft, Bruges and Brussels. From there we did day trips to see: Hoge Veluwe, Haarlem, Enkhuizen, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Antwerp.

We primarily spent our time touring: going to museums, cathedrals, seeing the sites, etc.

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Violin Recital

Last night I had my first violin recital. I started taking lessons in September of 2009 and have been playing for a bit more than three years. I have kept track of my practice time and have now played for 1940 hours.

The recital was pretty informal. Half of the students were beginners and four of the six were adults. We started by playing music from Suzuki book 1 as a group. Then each student played one piece. Most of the students acted like they played worse than they expected, or at least worse than they do normally. I felt the same way; I was nervous and made more mistakes than usual. I had a particularly hard time with the timing. It could have gone much worse though. The accompanist was extremely good and I never had to stop and re-start.

Overall it was a positive experience. It forced me to put a lot of time into a single piece. I wasn’t patient enough to do that without the pressure of a performance. And it was fun to meet the other students.

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Rooting my Android phone

This morning I rooted my android G2x. The main motivation was curiosity, but there were a few things that I wanted to improve about my phone. T-Mobile didn’t pre-load too much junk onto the phone, but there was the T-Mobile app-pack and Mall, Nova and Tegra game stores, and the lite version of TeleNav. Also, to get a good ad-blocker you need to have root access.

So I took the plunge and rooted the phone. There was a point when I thought the phone was bricked, but it all worked out in the end.

Even without the mistakes that I made, I would say that the benefits do not justify the effort (at least for my phone). I am glad that I did it, but more for the experience than the end result.

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Southern Trip

We took a road trip through the south to visit friends. You can see all the pictures here. We had a good time and really enjoyed meeting N.R. and his family and visiting with Ian and Ingrid and meeting their daughters.

We traveled 4500 miles and tried to stop for a lot of roadside attractions. I wish that we could have spent more time with N.R. and Ingrid, but two weeks was already a long time to be on the road.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Game day and Action game prototype

We hosted a game day this Saturday and got to show the multi-touch table to our gaming friends. There were about 15 of us and the table was a big hit. We didn’t have Hansa Teutonica complete, but we did have Wits and Wagers, Gem Hoarder, Yahtzee, Texas Holdem, Concentration Sweep, Solitaire Dice, and two action game prototypes. People seemed to enjoy the speed that games of Wits and Wagers and Gem Hoarder could be played compared to the physical versions. And we were surprised by how addictive the action game prototypes were. Even though they lacked a lot of polish and features, they got a lot of play.

We took some video of the action and will get that edited and posted on youtube soon. We wanted to have a video to show off when we pitch game designers on the idea of converting and selling their games. I am planning to contact the designers of “Hansa Teutonica”, “Brass”,  “7 Wonders”, and “The Resistance” this week to see if we can get permission to make their games for the touch table.

On Thursday and Friday of last week I started working on a simple action game to test the responsiveness of the table in a fast paced game. I created a simple game where players use virtual arrow keys to steer a spaceship around a board and fire at the other ships. My first discovery was that it was too hard to release a virtual arrow key. On a physical keyboard it is obvious when you have released a key, but on the virtual keyboard, it seems like the key should be released as soon as your finger comes up off the screen. But with the IR detector above the TV, you have to raise your finger about 1/4″ before the touch is lost. So it would feel like you had stopped pressing a direction, but the game was still registering the touch.

So I replaced the virtual arrow keys with a virtual control wheel where you touch and leave your finger down to steer. The ship turns in the direction that your finger is placed and it’s speed is based on how far your finger is toward the edge. It works significantly better than the keys did, but is still not perfect.

By Saturday, I had two types of weapons, one for taking out shields and the other for damaging hull. When destroyed, the ships would quickly re-spawn.

When we tested the game with the full eight players, we saw some problems with the center player’s touches not being detected. The touch sensor requires visibility to three sides to register, so if there are already touches on both sides, a new touch will not register. To solve this, I will probably need to put the control areas of the center player at a slightly different position than the areas of the left and right players.

Since the game was popular, I will probably add a few more features and polish the graphics. I’ll probably add some obstacles, different ship types/attributes, ship collisions, power-ups and the ability for players to drop out and join the in middle.

Assistant to the Lounge-About

On the advice of a friend, I am starting a blog. I am well aware of how late I am joining the blogging scene. And I have very low expectations of the level of interest that the rest of the world will have in most of the things that I am doing.

However, the multi-touch table we just got is still a fairly new technology, and there may be some interest in our experiences with the hardware itself and our attempt to convert board games to play on it.

I have started this blog by creating a bunch of back-dated entries. These entries come from things that I have written on my web site, Facebook, and Google+. There are also some new entries that I created just for this blog.

I expect most of the entries to be about my programming projects and the multitouch table. But I will also create entries for trips that we take and other things that interest me.

The title of this blog comes from the business cards that William and I created when we left Solidyn. Lacking a “title” to fill in, William became the Lounge-About and taking a cue from “The Office,” I chose Assistant to the Lounge-About.