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Spring

Monday, March 19th, 2012

This site has been getting a lot of traffic lately and I keep meaning to post but I’ve been so busy. We have been working on an updated version of our game (more on that later). I’ve been talking to clients about mobile apps, and I’m working on web pages for people. On top of that I’m constantly learning new skills, and trying to retain and improve the old ones. And there have been distractions, the weather here in the central U.S. has been simply amazing for this time of year. Also I’ve been worrying about this girl.

Kelly

We had some blood tests run last week and she has some liver problems. Her kidney levels are high too, but I expected that as she had been sick a while back and  lost a bunch of weight. We starting feeding her the food she wanted instead her kidney friendly diet and her weight came back. I’m giving her antibiotics hoping her liver problems are due to an infection and not cancer. Later today I’m off to the vet to pick up fluids we will have to give to her. I know we have done it before but I’m not looking forward to sticking a needle in her and keeping her from moving around while we wait for the solution to drip into her. The good part is she seems to be feeling OK. Earlier we took a walk in the yard and she stalked a rabbit that was about her size. I don’t think the bunny had much to worry about but it wasn’t bad for a cat who will be 21 years old if she makes it to June.

Some of the things I’ve been meaning to write about are the many tools we used to write our game. Sometimes you wonder why there are so many games out there when you have to  program, do 2d and 3d art, produce sound effects, music, animation and on and on. One of the things I have been determined to do lately is to really learn to use Photoshop. I don’t like Photoshop! I find it very frustrating and often just give up and use a paint program I wrote years ago because, I wrote it so I know how it works. However, I recently bought a graphics tablet and decided to just grit my teeth and just plow into it. I have learned a fair amount of it over the years but some of the new tools are pretty amazing. I’m not going to do a tutorial here as there are already a ton of them out there. I was just going to mention content aware fill because it’s really cool.

Original

Altered

This isn’t a particularly good picture. I took it because I wanted to use the content aware feature to remove the blue tarp and the telephone pole. I used the quick selection tool to select the tarp. Now, even if you know nothing about Photoshop I just want to make a point. I did not tell the program how to fill in the area where the tarp was. I just told it to figure it out, and in this case it did a pretty good job. In the case of the telephone pole, I simply used the healing brush with content aware selected and brushed over it.  I’ve used this tool enough to know sometimes it doesn’t work and gives you completely ridiculous results but more often than not, it works and saves you a bunch of time.

Bash The Bankers

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We have published a game on the App Store! It’s a physics/cannon shooter universal app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Check out the website and play the demo here bashthebankers.com

Better Batteries

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I haven’t been blogging much lately as I have really gotten caught up in writing this little game I’m working on. Since it’s based on a game I wrote many years ago and I’m learning Flash for the first time, it’s really striking how even though I’m learning something new how productive it seems since the machines and tools have improved so much.

This past week or so there has been some big news in batteries. First they found out how to make common lithium ion batteries charge and discharge rapidly.  Imagine charging your computer, cell phone, or camera in seconds. Secondly although technically not a battery, nanotechnology has lead to some amazing improvements in capacitors. Batteries store chemical energy and capacitors store electrical energy but the most surprising to me was the announcement of a system which could deliver electricity based on storing magnetic energy.

Speaking of energy, the newer designs of nuclear power plants are a lot safer than the old ones but the problems of how to manage the waste persists. The traveling wave reactor is a really clever design that deals with both the waste issue and the nuclear proliferation issue.

If you had a secret nuclear bunker, maybe you shouldn’t … oh, never mind!

If you have ever wondered how various engines work, here is a nice site with animations of different types.

I got a chuckle out of the other side of America.

That is one bug grub! Wonder what kind of fish would go for that.

Ever start to fall asleep and feel like you are falling and wake up? It’s called a Hypnic jerk. This used to happen more to me when I was younger but I suppose I was often sleep deprived.

This is a pretty cool optical illusion. You have to go to the last picture to see it.

Talk about amazing! In the following video they use sheep as display devices.

This young boy decided to do something similar but much less complex with his dog.

What the heck is a long eared jerboa?

Motion capture systems have really come a long way. Check out the videos from Mova.

This article on artificial muscles is really impressive but as I was reading it I couldn’t help but think  it reminded me of a late night info-mercial. But wait! It can also do this! Who would have guessed the amazing material of the future was going to be carbon.

When I was reading this article on the top 10 inventions of the Middle Ages, it occurred to me how big a role the church used to play in supporting science.

This is one very determined bear.

I’ve seen this guy’s work before. Willard Wigen makes microscopic sculptures.

Here is a nicely done cat close-up.

This is a rather bizarre story about a paralyzed man who was able to walk again after being bitten by a spider.

It’s nice spring is finally here but you know there are always some big storms ahead. Check out this tornado shot. Also this shot of what they can do.

Here is lightning of a different kind; from a volcano.

And finally, here is a nice collection of pictures of big cat families.

Competence

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Here is an amusing article. I suppose it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find out incompetent people are unaware they are incompetent. I guess I did find the part about joke telling abilities a little surprising because getting a good laugh verses polite chuckles should be semi-obvious. Then again, a lot of it has to do with the quality of the joke and just not messing it up.

From MSNBC here is a list of 10 odd creatures. Now, I was familiar with most of those but have you seen the fish with a transparent head? How about a pink dolphin? Look at the size of this stingray! Look at the size of this wasp!

Just plain weird but I suppose not surprising are Japanese bug fights.

I liked the surreal clouds in this storm photo.

I linked to one of these the other day but here are more street art paintings. I think the lava one is the most impressive one I have seen yet. I suspect the artist had a sponsor for this one.

My sister and her husband went on a vacation a while back and my parents stayed at their house. We went to visit and at one point attempted to turn on the TV. It occurred to me everyone has integrated their speaker systems in such a way they are all custom and the only way to figure them out would be to follow the wires. I suppose some day we will just tell our computers to configure the systems to do what we want. This solution wouldn’t even work here but it’s kind of amusing.

I was just outside and it’s cold out there. Lucky for us the forecast is for nice spring-like temperatures late in the week.  Here is a nice photo to remind you of spring.

I got a laugh out of this.

Check out this TriceraCopter!

If you watch the TV show Mythbusters you’ll laugh at this.

The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni in Southwestern Bolivia is like standing on a gigantic mirror.

Imagine standing in a tunnel made out of 40,000 LEDs.

This is a funny video about how to “hack your old VCR”.

That’s one happy looking elephant.

This is pretty funny video of a dog dreaming but you have to feel a little sorry for the dog at the end.

In this video a person asks someone for directions. In the middle of the discussion they move a large picture between the two people having the conversation and change the person asking for directions. It was one thing when people didn’t notice the change with similar looking people but they didn’t notice when they changed to a different race or sex! Amazing! I suppose with the map and all the pointing, there are a lot of distractions.

My friend Matt sent me this video about everything is amazing but nobody is happy. It reminded me how you used to have to waste a lot of time going inside the gas station and wait in line when you bought gas. I wonder if I have put that  extra time to good use?

Here is a collection of photos of birds stealing ice cream. I didn’t realize birds liked ice cream.

And finally check out this cute video of a cat who adopted a rabbit.

The Creative Commons

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I imagine most of you have heard of  Flickr a popular photo sharing site. I have been learning Flash lately and although I have a couple of games in mind which are essentially re-writes of some small games I’ve written in the past, I keep thinking about writing a graphical point and click adventure. I suppose I was somewhat inspired by some of the ones I’ve played lately. Last week I spent a fair amount of time exploring the Creative Commons area of Flickr. The Creative Commons license specifies you can use an image or a derivative work and you only have to give credit to the submitter. I was very impressed by what I found there.

Actually what got me thinking about it was this article on ways to advance your photography skills. I think the article was well written and presented some interesting ideas. However, the other thing that struck me was the awesome images accompanying the article. I mean it’s a lot easier to take a nice picture when you are standing outside the back of the Taj Mahal during a summer sunset or near an ancient Hindu temple at sunset in the jungles of Indonesia. My travel plans are somewhat limited in accordance with my budget. I suppose it’s a lame excuse but I used to live in a very scenic area and now not-so-much and though I often look at my limited view of a nice sunset off to the west there is really nothing but laziness that prevents me from getting in the car and driving somewhere I can get a clear shot.

Also if you follow the link in the article to the more interesting photos from the last seven days (again at Flickr) and keep hitting the reload button. You will see tons of interesting stuff, some of which you likely may have been able to shoot in your local environment.

Getting back to the idea of writing a game though, most of those impressive graphical adventures involve really nice art which either has to be rendered in a 3D graphics program, drawn, or photographed. It occurred to me if I wanted a shot of an animal from say Borneo and they didn’t have one at the local zoo, I could search the Creative Commons and get one at no expense other than crediting the photographer in the game. There are some terrific exotic settings available there as well.

I get a lot of hits on my blog from search engines on Megan Fox because I mentioned her originally in some post about robotics and Transformers. Just for kicks, I typed “Megan Fox” into the Creative  Commons search at Flickr. I got this poster from a sequel to the original Transformers movie. I also found this photo and this one where she is covered but it may be a little too sexy if you are at work. It all reminded me of an old, slightly naughty, joke. I wish I could remember the comedian but he was comparing National Geographic with Playboy magazine and said they both were full of picture of exotic places he’d never get to go.

Ahhh, this is comfortable.

I got a laugh out of this.

I also got a chuckle out of this anti-theft lunch bag.

Who wouldn’t want a water-powered jetpack? Ouch, look at the price!

Apparently aerogel a super insulator, works well to clean up oil spills. They didn’t point it out but the aerogel is that fuzzy thing below the brick in the picture.

Heavy science warning; string theory may be experimentally testable after all. Even if the subject is over your head there is a cute picture there.

If you read that last one, you will probably find Is Time an Illusion interesting.

This next one is sciency (a term a friend of mine once used to describe my blog) but not real complicated. I first heard of the Lagrangian points when I was writing a paper in college on space colonization. They are places in space where the gravitational tug of the bodies of the solar system cancel out. So if you wanted to build a really big space station they would be a good place to put it. I guess it never occurred to me; there may be a bunch of stuff there already.

When I saw this photo I wondered if someone really shot it or it’s like the one I made in my 2D gallery of the woman dancing on the seat of the motorcycle jumping a cliff.

An electric company in Florida made a mistake and appliances exploded and sparks shot out of the walls of people’s homes.

Now that is a big rat!

This is a pretty cool machine which makes 3D images out of levitated ball bearings. Unfortunately the video is poor quality, at first especially; it’s difficult to see what is going on.

Modern Cave Painting.

A cat / lizard meeting.

I saw this article about politicians should wear the logos of their sponsors like NASCAR drivers before I found this image of what they would look like.

Batteries wrapped in solar cells; as they point out, that was obvious.

First I had floppy disks all over the house. Then it was CDs and now it’s DVDs. If they build a quarter size device which can hold as much as 250 DVDs, I don’t think I would need many.

I wonder where this otter got a video camera.

This is just strange.

You think you are having a tough day at work?

Here is a video on the science of cute.

And finally, also on the subject of cute, there is this and this.

Flash Physics

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Over the weekend we played with this Flash physics game called Roly-Poly Cannon. One of the things about physics simulators is they can be so open ended. That is what makes them fun but since you can’t totally predict what a user will do. I imagine you have to be pretty careful about writing your code so unexpected bugs don’t come up. After charging though all the levels of Roly-Poly Cannon, I went searching for other physics games and found this one called Flash Physics. It’s a very simple game with very simple graphics but we played it for quite a while until it just got too hard. There is a strange bug in the third level where the chain ‘breaks’ occasionally.

This is an interesting application which uses a web-cam and turns any brightly colored object into a controller for gaming. It’s called CamSpace.

Here is a collection of pictures of creative bench advertising.

Speaking of creativity, someone was full of it when they created this.

Having trouble keeping your baby in its playpen? I wouldn’t recommend this.

Matt sent me this link. It’s a compilation video of some extremely close calls and lucky events. Some are simply amazing.

There are more silly cat pictures here and here.

What’s cuter than a bunch of baby pandas?

I liked this dramatic shot of a horse statue in Las Vegas.

This was interesting. Scientists stop the aging process in mice livers.

Entropyman talks about thermodynamics. When I’m cleaning, I often think somewhere the universe is getting more disorganized to compensate.

My, what big ears you have!

This is a video of a bird catching a fish but from the perspective of the fish.

If you have learned to cross view you can see this illustration in 3D.

Here is a nice collection of Macro photographs. I think the ones with the water drops are really impressive.

This is another example of painting with light during a long time exposure.

That is one big bug!

Look at the teeth on this fish!

This is what video games were like in 1936.

Here is a very large collection of computer repair tools. My older machine used to be so stable but now it reboots when I go to back it up.

Not that this Earth isn’t cool but if there are one hundred billion trillion other ones out there, it’s a shame we won’t get to visit them.

The TED conference recently ended and the talks are online. In this one Woody Norris does some pretty interesting things with sound.

They don’t quite have the hang of it, but I got a laugh out of this video of foxes jumping on a trampoline.

And finally here is a collection of baby animals from National Geographic and also this collection of mothers and babies made me think even baby hippos are cute.

Installation Issues

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I’d probably not purchased a new computer except my parents were having trouble with the one they had. Don’t get me wrong, my new one is going to be awesome but right now I don’t have many apps installed. Some time back my Dad mentioned their computer was emitting a strange smell. In retrospect I suppose that was the first indication their power supply was going. Last week I finally got around to setting up one of my systems for them. After resolving some strange disk issue I finally got their old system to boot but it wouldn’t stay on long enough to back it up. I wasn’t able to follow the recommended procedure on moving their old drive. I considered replacing the power supply but decided to just move their drive and do a repair install. That’s when things got tricky. You know you are in trouble when you google the problem you are having and other people have had that problem but no one seems to have solved it. After spending 3 days doing something that should have taken an afternoon, I gave them their new system last night. The system seemed to  be running OK but I suspect skipping over some of the installation files because Windows couldn’t read them is going to come back to haunt me.  I’m looking forward to working with computers this week as opposed to working on them.

This is one of those pictures where you wonder what happened right after it was taken.

I got a laugh out of this story of a cake gone wrong.

This story about places having names that well, you would be glad you are not from might offend some people. If you are in the mood for some juvenile snickering about naughty words click here.

Some of these entries in a Photoshop contest about you are what you eat are pretty good.

Speaking of image editing done well, I liked this one.

When our van was running we used to take it camping. We would set up a gazebo outside the side doors for extra living space. Since we used to backpack a lot it didn’t seem like we were roughing it much. When we would walk around campgrounds, I would look at those big trailers with the expanding rooms and think it would be cool to make something van sized that became really large once you got where you were going. Well this thing is truck sized but it expands into a two story structure.

I have seen pictures of these Margay Tiger Cats before. There is something so strange about the way they look.

Here is another silly cat picture, and more cute cat pictures are here.

Speaking of silly animal pictures, here is a collection of animals drinking. It kind of makes you think twice about using an outdoor water fountain.

It’s funny how sometimes animals really look like they are smiling.

I have been trying to learn Flash and rewrite a small game I created years ago. This is the home page of a design company who created the Samorost series. We played their Questionaut game the other day. It’s a cute little point and click game for kids where you have to answer questions to complete the game. In spite of my education I got a little careless and missed one or two.

It’s interesting how the interest in casual games has grown so much lately.

If you have never seen the TV series Dr. Who, there is no point in clicking here.

Here is another very cool lenticular cloud photo.

This photo of what I think are salt piles seems surreal.

Bad dog! Bad dog!

So you think you have a lot of snow?

When I took my first computer graphics course, the professor hung our assignments up outside the classroom. I had created a picture of a simple but  impossible (MC Escher style) crate.  It was fun to watch the expression on the faces of the people change when they ‘got it’. Some of these what would happen if everyday objects were designed by MC Escher pictures require a little study before you see it.

These are the most elaborate watermelon carvings I have ever seen.

This guy is planning to cross the Atlantic in a one-man pedal powered submarine.

And finally, if you enjoy cute animal pictures it doesn’t get much better than this.

The Lost Week

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

After putting together my computer this week I was left with the decision whether to update my old drive or do a clean install and set it up from scratch. I chose the latter and what a pain it has been. You just want to sit down with your shiny new hardware and do something but instead it’s an endless series of installs and reboots. On top of that, the connector on my old keyboard got loose I had to replace it. This is the first time I have tried to type very much on my new one and it’s going to take getting used to.

Last week someone left a comment asking if I had tried the Nick Bounty games at Pinhead Games. Saturday we spent a lot of time doing things like dealing with frozen water pipes. Luckily they weren’t damaged. So it was nice to kick back on Sunday and play some games. The Nick Bounty series are classic adventure games with full voice acting and the look, talk, get, etc. verb set. One thing I was reminded of when playing them was although choosing a verb as opposed to just clicking on an object is more work, in the old adventure games as well as these, adding the extra step provides a way to inject more (often silly) humor into them. The plot lines were pretty silly too but that is the point to playing them I suppose. I did laugh at some of the jokes and there is a pretty funny scene in the second game where everything is dark and the voice actor describes an outrageous scene to you.

I’ve been writing this blog long enough I have gotten to the point where it is hard to remember whether I have already mentioned something or not. I guess if it’s a good thing it’s worth mentioning again. That’s the way I felt about this video of people doing maintenance on high voltage cables. I suppose you probably get used to it but there’s no way I would get out there.

I know I’ve mentioned this alloy before, I’m pretty sure I linked to this video. It’s also known as muscle wire because it is not only a shape-memory alloy but it also shrinks when heated so you can make things move by running current through it.


More Science experiments at 5min.com

Check out these awesome ice storm photos.

Speaking of winter, that’s a lot of snow!

Last night we watched Resident Evil- Degeneration. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the other Resident Evil films but I wanted to see it because it is computer generated. It’s funny how not-quite-real computer generated people look creepy. This article at New Scientist talks about that and how machines are coming closer to people in other ways like talking and playing music.

According to this article the next group of people to be put out of jobs by technology will be call center workers.

I thought this was kind of interesting; this guy was an expert at putting things in bottles.

If you’re not a programmer you probably have never heard the phrase “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature“.

It’s kind of fuzzy but this is what meteors look like from space.

This is what a hermit crab in a glass shell looks like.

Here are some long time exposure photos. The one of the fireworks is particularly cool.

If you are prone to seizures you probably don’t want to follow this link. Here are more examples of what I call wiggle vision 3D photos. The author calls them lenticulations. It kind of makes my head hurt to look at them. I thought the one of the dog (14) was the best one.

I suppose you could call lenticular clouds lenticulations. This one looks a lot less like a UFO than others I’ve seen.

How would you like to live in a house made of paper that costs 5000 dollars? By the way, 36 square meters is 387.5 square feet.

Here are some large computer generated fantasy landscapes.

This is a pretty cool picture of a drop of seawater and what is inside.

I thought this was kind of funny. A bank made a mistake and deposited a bunch of money in a couple’s account. They claimed they didn’t notice. This actually happened to a friend of mine, but he was smart enough not to try to keep it.

This is just a nice sunset picture.

My fingers hurt from this new keyboard. Here is your funny animal picture of happy seals.

Dream Machine

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I read this article about scientists developing a machine that can produce images from your dreams with some skepticism. I guess it’s one of those things you would have to experience to believe. I had the thought if they could do that then why couldn’t they make a machine that allows you to render an image and all you have to do is imagine it.

The biggest full moon of the year occurs on Dec. 12th.

A Dyson sphere is where an advanced civilization has built a sphere completely encompassing a star to optimize solar energy collection. This article is about trying to detect them. If a civilization were advanced enough to actually build one of those things, they might also have the technology to keep even low level infrared energy from escaping.

I posted some wallpaper sources recently. Here is another one which is mostly holiday pet pictures. Then again I can’t read anything there so maybe that is just a section.

As if dressing up your poor animal isn’t bad enough, these people actually painted their cats. I wonder what type of paint you would use given the first thing they would do is try to clean themselves off.

I got a chuckle out of this story about a real life cat burglar who steals fuzzy toys from the neighbors. It reminded me of one a while back where a cat collected gloves and mittens.

This is another one of those collections of fantasy sci-fi like creations.

This is a pretty funny shot.

This one’s just pretty.

I’ve never actually seen lenticular clouds, just pictures. Then again I haven’t spent much time near any large mountains.

And finally, here is a collection of photos of cats sleeping in unusual places.

Wallpapers and Other Pictures

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Every year I design a new holiday card. Some of them are in my galleries. Usually I try to do something in 3D. Last year I didn’t and at least one person mentioned they were disappointed. Here it is getting well into the month and I’m struggling with coming up with a concept. So, I have been looking at a lot of images on the web.

This site has a lot of nice desktop wallpapers. A lot of the recent ones are holiday oriented.

Also, a friend of mine sent me this link to another site that has a lot of free wallpapers.

Here is a nice gallery of snowflake pictures. There is also a chart at the end explaining what type of flakes form under what conditions.

These are just nice creative photos.

Then there is the opposite. From images which are not photoshopped to some that are extremely photoshopped.

These are just being in the right spot at the right moment.

This one is just funny.

Check out this giant storm.

This is a cool shot of the space shuttle lifting off.

Here are some funny tee shirt illustrations.

And finally, yeah you guessed it, a bunch of cute animal pictures.