So my desktop's busted. Random restarts, if I leave it powered down all day it'll run for a couple of minutes first, before it starts spam restarting.
Usually when something like this happens it's the power supply, I tend to run those into the ground pretty regularly. That did not seem to be the case this time, unfortunately. Didn't seem to be a cooling issue either. Next on the list is motherboard and cpu....
It turns out that while I wasn't looking a lot of things have changed in PC hardware. Intel has a terrible, confusing brand tangle* of processors to choose from. I bought a Core i7 920 processor and a motherboard that supports Core i7 chips. But the chip didn't fit. Core i7 is split into two socket types, LGA1156 and LGA1366. WHO KNEW. (I didn't. These concerns are completely absent from the "[how to select your awesome new intel processor]" marketing posters.) Anyway I went back and got the right motherboard.
Oh the motherboard doesn't fit into the case. I'm not sure if this is because my old Dell is just Dell, or if the case standard actually changed (AGP to ATX?) and frankly I don't really care. I bought a new case.
So I was finally all set to put it all together. Oh the ram doesn't fit either. DDR3 is not DDR2.
On we go. I mean it's not a disaster, the good thing about being an old man is that I have lots of money to throw at these things. Still, burnsauce.
I actually still kindof like working with PC hardware... the form factors, the interface design decisions, it all speaks to a very specific design aesthetic, a funny split between engineering and show business, between high-tech and consumer concerns.
I love that you can build a PC mostly by trying to plug things into eachother until everything is plugged in, and then turning it on. That's pretty much what I do. It's sortof similar to the old PC Adventure game ethos of "[pull every lever and pick up everything that isn't nailed down,]" and I find it amusing that those problem solving skills actually turn out to be useful in some situations. Which is to say, in environments where every possible/sensible physical interaction has been planned out ahead of time, and made to work or not work as appropriate. So that if you can plug it in, it probably works. There's a certain nostalgic beauty to the process.
So the overwhelming problem for an augmented reality game is content creation, amirite? I mean, the real world is big. Way, way bigger than any virtual world I'm aware of. To reach a national or international audience, an augmented reality game can't rely on traditional video-game content creation pipelines. You need to either crowdsource content creation, restrict yourself to a small locality, or auto-generate content somehow. Or some combination.
So here's how I think you solve it, I'll put it in the familiar frame of an MMO, because I don't have a strong theme idea yet...
Your baseline game takes some huge local dataset like Yelp or whatevs, crunches it, and turns each node into a spawn point for critters based on the node. So a Chinese restaurant creates Chinese Food creeps that wander around the vicinity. You may or may not want to make a sophisticated thematic mapping algorithm so that all your creeps aren't ethnic food? I guess it depends on the game...
So anyway one dataset/layer gives you mobs for any populated area. Make your second layer something more explicit like the geocaching dataset. May as well include all this free content in your game, right? Caches become boss monsters or quests.
Next, give your players input into the game. As they do stuff they go up levels. The average level of players in the vicinity affects the average difficulty of the area. So if a bunch of high level bozos live in a town, then the newbs need to be careful when visiting, for example. Which means that your dedicated players will create your high level content. And the developer's office naturally becomes the highest level content in the game.
From there you might as well keep layering in every dataset you can think of, crime statistics, UPA pickup games, movie times, house prices, really anything.
What's the central activity of this game? Killing creeps? Collecting shiny stuff? Damned if I know. What kinds of things do people even do outside? What kind of augmented reality game would you like to play?
Tacos Mexico, on Van Nuys south of Sherman Way. It's no Salsa and Beer, so I wouldn't really take anyone else there, but they have great truck-style tacos for 1.05 each. Three or four makes a meal.
Also I tried putting butterscotch in my coffee, but it didn't work out as well as the chocolate syrup did. Lesson learned I guess.
I caved in and bought The Beatles Rock Band on Saturday. We visited my parents and set it up and had a great time with all my siblings, singing and playing through the songs. There are 2 key features to the game. One is singing harmony, which was pretty fun. The other is that everyone already knows all the songs, which is fantastic.
Between that and the jam session with Mick at PAX, I've been really wanting to get back into making music. The problem is, somewhere along the way I seem to have convinced myself that I'm not dedicated enough to learn an instrument. So I'm not sure what to do about that. Maybe get myself hypnotized into thinking that I love to practice the guitar. I'm not sure if I'm susceptible to hypnosis or not. I've always suspected that I'm not, but that might just be hubris.
The solution that my imagination keeps drifting towards is for me to invent my own musical instrument/interface, that takes the drudgery and dexterity out of the equation. But that almost sounds harder (and definitely a lot more pompous) than just learning an existing instrument...
So in conclusion, any way I slice it, my big ego seems to be getting in the way of my making music. Probably time to knock it down a few pegs, I guess. Sometimes I wish I had a work ethic instead of a dream ethic. What can you do eh? :-)
So, I lost my Driver's License some time ago. I went to the DMV to get a replacement. They took my picture and all that. I waited 60 days, but it never came. I called, they said the picture didn't make it into the database. I went back to the DMV. They took my picture again. Now I'm on the waiting phase again. Hopefully it arrives soon, but in the meantime, I get to learn about Notaries Public.
There's a couple of documents we need to get notarized in order to buy this house. There's a disclosure for the Loan, and then, most crucially, there's the purchase contract itself. The thing is, a notary's main job is to confirm that you are who you say you are. I currently do not possess sufficient documentation to satisfy the requirements. We were able to get away with just Anne signing this loan disclosure, but for the purchase that's definitely not gonna fly.
So I looked up the California Notary Public guidelines, to see what my options are. On page 8 it talks about identification, and the long and short of it is that I need to have 2 credible witnesses present, with their identification, who will swear that I am really me.
We're gonna do it old-school.
I actually found it really interesting reading about notaries, because they are literally responsible for the fabric of trust that our common/civil law relies on... And it's all based on the idea that either the notary knows you personally, or can establish trust through other community members. Having ID cards is basically a shortcut for that mechanism, and frankly ID cards work way better in large cities where nobody knows eachother. But I do like that we have this old trust mechanism to fall back on.
So, let me tell you about this house. When we first saw it, it was listed at 550. We loved it-- it was two separate houses one a lot, with 2 garages. The lot is huge, 8,700 square feet, the second unit has 2 bedrooms, a great kitchen and its own yard. Both houses are in great shape. Great, this is exactly what we want, and it's out of our range.
We talked to the agent, the agent said, "she'll let it go for 460." We said, ok wow we can actually do that. We put in an offer at 460, our offer had an appraisal contingency, so that if the property appraises for less they have to drop the price to the appraisal.
Endless paperwork later, we're finally approved for the loan, and the appraisal comes back at 405. We're very excited, she has to drop the price, right? We offer 405. Well actually she has a backup offer at 435, so she counters at 435.
Now here's the thing, the bank is only going to lend us money against the appraised value of 405k, so if we want to buy the house for more than that we need to make up the difference up-front with cash. We were a bit lean in the down-payment department to begin with*, so this represents significant pain for us. We review our finances and counter 420, and it's as high as we're willing to go. We think we've lost the house to the other buyers at this point.
Radio silence for a few days, then we get a call saying she'll take it for 425, she just wants 5k more and we can seal the deal. Now, it's not the 5k in purchase price that's a problem, it's the fact that it's up-front that makes it a deal breaker. We can't give her more than 422 and feel like we're not being totally reckless. We already feel pretty reckless frankly.
More radio silence, then we get a call saying that our agent and the seller's agent have both agreed to take a 1.5k pay cut in order to make up the difference between us and the seller. The deal is on. So that's where we are right now. The seller has the football, we expect them to sign and pass it back to us any minute now.
I'm not totally sure how I feel about all this yet. I think it's gonna be good, but I don't want to hear your second-guessing until after we've finished the whole thing and moved in and made our first mortgage payment. Then we can talk about how irresponsible we are. ;-)
*For all you's out there wagging your finger right now, please remember that we will be renting out the front unit to cover more than half of our mortgage payment; some things are not as irresponsible as they look.
foodonshirt.com is back up, my shirts are on sale for 16$ a piece, 3$ flat shipping. I let this go for way, way too long.
Ultimately I decided it was not worth it to rescue the old ruby on rails site, and I decided to use an off-the-shelf store (Magento). There are pros and cons to it... inventory management is really smooth, and I had to do relatively little work to get it working, but it means tweaking everything, a lot, and I still don't get quite exactly what I want. My biggest gripe is with the checkout process; it has like 3 too many steps, and some bad defaults. I'd like to try to streamline it if I get the chance, but who am I kidding? The only way this store is ever gonna see more work is if I actually sell all the shirts I already have in stock and decide to do another run.
But anyway now you can vote for which food-on-shirt related flash game I should make! You''ll see the poll if you go to one of the shirt pages, e.g. here and scroll down and check out the sidebar.