Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New carpet

We're finally getting our new carpet all over the house today.

I'm taking today off of work because the process may take all day. We had to move everything off the floors and out of the closets. Neither of us realized how much stuff we were storing (hoarding). This is giving us a great opportunity to collect items for a garage sale, as, literally, almost everything that used to be in carpeted rooms is now in our kitchen and garage.

Monday, August 27, 2007

So I like spicy stuff

Friday nights we have pizza night, and we also happen to have a large bottle of jalapenos. It just doesn't get any prettier than this.

I would call this a medium load. For some reason we have found that the sliced jalapenos labeled "Nacho slices" seem to be slightly hotter than the ones marked as sliced jalapenos.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Model Fight: Maison de Roulement 005

I finally got around to messing with the rolling house for a few minutes today, but most of the stuff was housekeeping and minor updates.

I've come to the conclusion that this project is over in its current incarnation. Why? Multiple reasons (for multiple stories (oh, delicious puns)):

1. Scale: I started out eyeballing the scale of all the objects and not using anywhere close to accurate measurements. If I ever try to do something with another prop or model I would be asking for some work getting everything scaled correctly. I'd like to start over using actual scale.

2. Organization: Currently my model is made up of groups of components of components of groups...you get the picture. This isn't exactly SketchUp's fault, as the grouping/componentization can be very useful, but as I started grouping halfway into the project, I didn't plan very well, and SketchUp isn't letting me back out of my decisions gracefully.

3. Rendering: I happen to like the SketchUp output, but there are times when I want more, or at least different, styles. What I have to do is export from SketchUp and import into some rendering package, assign/modify any textures I need and render. If I were working in another package, I could save a few steps. Granted, for my model at this stage, it isn't unbearable.

I'm planning on starting from scratch in either Modo or 3D Studio MAX, both of which we have at work. I'm torn about which package to use, so I might experiment with both and post the results.

Behold the mind...of a Mad Dog!

My buddy Mike has caught TEH BLOGGING FEVER - check him out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Katamari Damacy

Another game (for the PS2) that I love is Katamari Damacy. It's very simplistic, very stylized, and definitely not a typical American game. I'll just cut and paste from the wikipedia article to describe the story:

The game's plot concerns a tiny prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has playfully destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly larger objects, ranging from thumbtacks to schoolchildren to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to become a star. The game falls under both the puzzle and action game genres, since strategy as well as dexterity are needed to complete a mission.

You just use both the analog sticks to move the prince around collecting the objects. It's a great nonviolent game for kids, but it falls into the Japanese-absurdist-LSD-inspired categories, and some of the cutscenes and intros need some explaining.

I have not played any of the sequels, but hopefully they don't stray too far from what made the original so unique.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

200 Posts!

Wow - this is my 200th post! Here is my first post, for that trip down Memory Lane.

I started this blog because I was going to Singapore for business, and we finally decided that it would be too much trouble to bring my wife and kids with me. I wanted to document the trip for anyone that wanted to see.

Naturally, it's morphed into "my blog," where I document stuff that I think is interesting...for posterity? Kicks? Who knows, but I like it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hamilton Pool

We recently went to Hamilton Pool, which I expected to be more of a pool like Deep Eddy, but I was happily surprised.

It is actually Hamilton Pool Preserve, which is basically a collapsed grotto with a waterfall about an hour or so south of our house. Here you can read more facts, such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department noting it as Travis County's most significant natural area.

After a .25 mile (!) hike down some pretty rugged terrain you see a small beach and the pool stretches out from that. I'm not sure how deep it gets, but it is over my head at less than halfway across. Directly across from the beach is a waterfall that apparently never stops flowing, even in times of drought. What enchantment is this?

If you want to take a break from swimming, you can walk around the pool in the rock caverns, and there is a walkway that circles the pool. Pictures can't really do it justice - it's pretty amazing.

Be warned though - I wouldn't advise carrying a bunch of umbrellas, coolers or other stuff. It's quiet a hike down. A tired three-year-old was a pretty good workout!

Gaming table

A while ago I posted about getting some wargaming miniatures for a game my friends and I play. Well, to say that I "play" it is stretching the truth, as my miniatures are still languishing in an unpainted, unassembled state. But I have watched some games!

Anyway, these games are usually played on a 4'x4', 4'x6' or 4'x8' table with various pieces of terrain/scenery for strategery. I've started making such a table, as I'm more interested in the terrain aspect of the game than the actual playing.

My table is 4'x6' with a plywood top and 1"x4" bracing for stability.

One can stop at this point, drop a cloth over the board or paint it whatever color you want and badda-bing, you have a gaming table. You want a forest? Green felt or paint. Desert? Light brown.

I'd like to go a little farther than this, though. I want to play multiple games on multiple types of boards but limit my storage concerns. My plan is to leave the plywood as is except for some holes cut in it. Around the edge I will have some sort of molding (I already have .25"x2" strips) that will extend up from the plywood about .25" or so. This will form an outer shell.

Next, I will get 4'x6' sheets of that pegboard material (thin MDF or hardboard) but without the holes, and paint each side different colors, appropriate to the terrain on which I would like to game. That board goes into the shell and appropriately based terrain gets placed on that board. Alternatively, I could actually model terrain onto the board (hills, sand dunes, lava cracks, whatever) and the shell would hold that as well. The holes in the plywood will allow me to push up a corner of the MDF board to exchange it.

We'll see how far I get with this project, but it's faster than de-sprueing miniatures! I think my only concern at this point is weight - the plywood made it a little heavier than I expected - and possibly scratching the surface of wherever I rest the table. In a move sure to cause my gaming friends (with armies ready to go) to roll their eyes, I am thinking about getting felt and stapling it to the bottom of the 1"x4" boards so it won't damage our kitchen table.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Guitar Hero 2

I got Guitar Hero 2 for my birthday, and I love it.

We have Dance Dance Revolution, which we all think is great, and I still really like Parappa the Rapper. Guitar Hero's basis is still the tried and true rhythm game, but the controller sets it off. It is a lot of fun.

I was going back and forth on wireless versus wired controllers. There was a guitar controller that I liked, but it was wired. I eventually decided on the wireless guitar, and it was the right choice. With kids, cords are a no-no, and with the wireless you can move around more and even sit back on the couch and play.

We had some friends over and at the end of the night we fired up Guitar Hero, and it was even more fun. I borrowed another wireless guitar from work (for, uh, testing), and we had some guitar/bass faceoffs. What's funny is if the TV volume is down far enough, all you hear is the clicking and clacking of the keys and the picks.

I have the actual Red Octane Guitar Hero branded semi-Stratocaster-style guitar, but you can pick up a generic guitar (in semi-Explorer-style) for about half the price, and I'll be picking up a second guitar pretty quickly.

I've heard a lot of jibber-jabber of how playing Guitar Hero can help your ability playing real guitar. As someone that's taking lessons playing real guitar, I don't see it. The closest I think one could get to Guitar Hero/real guitar synergy is maybe practicing with a metronome. Or light pattern recognition, but translating buttons to notes and chords? I don't think so.