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Archive for March, 2012

Crowd Sourcing Science

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I mentioned kickstarter in my last post. Until recently I would look at it and people would have projects there for games they wanted to write but often they were trying to raise ridiculously small amounts of money compared to what it takes to actually produce a game. The past month that seems to have changed with a few projects raising millions of dollars. Of course, these are well known people. I’ve had a game in mind for ten years or so I’ve wanted to write, but it’s hard to imagine doing it without large resources.

I ran across the site petridish the other day. They are attempting to crowd source science in the same way kickstarter does. I remember reading about DRACO, a project to create a broad spectrum anti-viral at MIT. It holds the promise to do to viruses the same thing that antibiotics did to bacterial infections. Those people should definitely get their project on petridish.

We occasionally have wasps building nests in our grill. At least they aren’t two and a half inches long!

This place is a good example of somewhere I would go a lot more often if I owned a self driving car. It’s about eight hours away and spectacular. You could just settle in for the night and wake up there. I had not thought about the point he makes in that link where people would probably own a lot less cars because most families could get by with one car. I disagree with his point in the last paragraph though. I think once most people have them, the insurance costs for driving your own car will become so high most people will not be able to afford it.

This is not a caterpillar.

Apparently there are glowing jellyfish in Japan.

And finally, something to make you say awww

Smart Machines

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I was watching this TED talk today on machine intelligence.

It always strikes me how people say the singularity or omega as he calls it, is twenty or thirty years out.  I guess I should point out, that is when machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence (in case you didn’t watch the video). As he mentions, no politician is talking about it.  However, I think the impact will come much sooner. It got me thinking about the Jeopardy where the computer ‘Watson’ competed.

When I was looking for that video, I ran across this explanation of the really big mistake Watson made. Yesterday we were sitting outside after going to the vet to get more fluids for our cat, (giving them has gone very smoothly so far in case you were wondering). I said to my wife “Did we remember to get the needles?” She said “Noodles?” It was totally out of context, of course, as we weren’t talking about the vet or the cat. Anyway, humans do this too and machine intelligence has already progressed to the point where most of us could be replaced it’s just a matter of it being more cost effective.

Writing a game for Androids and iPhones really makes me think how odd it is that suddenly everyone is walking around with a supercomputer in their pocket. BashTheBankers wasn’t really the game I wanted to write. It was a game I felt I could write given the resources at my disposal. I think it’s a fun game but I haven’t yet published a free (advertising supported) version and there is so much free stuff out there. It’s hard to get noticed no matter what you do. If you have never seen kickstarter it is a site where people crowd source their projects. I suppose in hindsight I realized if you can’t get a large number of people excited and funding your project there, you might as well come up with another idea because people are not going to see your game unless there is some internet buzz about it.

Speaking of kickstarter I thought this was funny. [Edit] Oh well, it appears that link no longer works. It was a kickstarter project to buy kickstarter; maybe they didn’t think it was funny.

And, finally something to make you say awww…

 

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.