The Animal Farm

August 30th, 2005

Promoted!

I just got a call today from my employer that I got promoted to Lab Leader. Essentially, it means I make more money and work more hours. Both of these are good as this job entails no real work and allows me to get all of my homework done. Since I have two semester projects to get done this semester, I think working the extra hours will really help me out in not procrastinating. Trust me, staring at the internet 5+ hours a day gets old the first day.

Brian started coding High Noon, a tactical war game that he came up with last year. I am gunna try to be helpful and create the game with him, but I have no real c++ game programming experience, and he is a veteran by my standards. So I think it is going to require a lot of work for me to be able to help him in the game. I want to though, so that is a good thing.

I also have been working on Zakarus’ Tale a good bit lately, I haven’t actually tested the classes I have written, though, so I am sure none of them work. Once I am done writing this post I am going to boot up the laptop and write a little test engine so I can make sure everything works, and then fix everything so it does work. Wish me luck!

~Zach

P.S. I will most likely update this site on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as I work those days. When my schedule changes to add the more hours, this will likely change as well.

“Delcheated!”

August 25th, 2005

Delish!

Okay, there are 3 tastes I’ve grown to love about WVU since about last fall at this time. One of them is Yama. I just can’t get enough of that place. I love going there and actually salivate thinking about the food I am about to partake in. Another food I have grown to love here is the Ham and Cheese Stromboli from Dairy Mart across the street from my dorm. They are simply the best quick meals I can think of and are especially great as a nighttime snack. The third food I love that I can get around here is the Iced Chai Latte. You all know about this thing, as I talk about it a lot on here. Well, once I get the first sip of that thing it is like all of my earthly worries don’t matter. They keep not mattering until the last drop of the stuff is gone. Ahh, I love the Morgantown delights.

I just started coding some of the classes I’ve built for QotDS-ZT last night and I think my system should work out fine. I came across one minor hitch but I managed to fix it quite easily with the system I have so far. I probably shouldn’t start coding yet because I have a lot more design overhaul to get through, but I really want to just get this stuff on the computer because I feel it needs to be there. I dunno, I prefer digital to physical organization, even though it is less stable.

~Zach

P.S. I still don’t have my internets back.

Shasta!

August 25th, 2005

My God, It Gets Worse

Yesterday I ranted about the treatment of Freshman at this university. This rate continues today.

I have a job TAing Engineering 102 students. I’ve seen the work ethic of these people. Some of them genuinely want to succeed - they will approach me and ask questions and seek out help, and even though many still struggle, I appreciate this. Some clearly don’t care, and they fail accordingly. Regardless of which category they fall into, they are all adults. So when I heard the teacher for the class making this next announcement, all my respect for the school was lost:

All the Engr 102 students are required to attend a Freshman Social (renamed the Freshman EngineerFEST or some such crap to make it sound more exciting). When they come, they receive a BINGO card. A BINGO card. The student must take this card to the presenting organizations at the ‘festival’ and get them to mark it. When they get a BINGO, they can leave.

Does this not infuriate anyone else? This isn’t even suitable for high-school students - anyone above the age of twelve should be disgusted and personally offended. BINGO? Really. First, this event shouldn’t even be mandatory. Second, if the school wanted to make it mandatory, a simple sign-in/sign-out sheet would be sufficient and not morally degrading. I don’t think I’m ever going to get over this.

BINGO, for God’s sake. B-I-N-G-O.

Kill that stupid dog.

August 23rd, 2005

College!

Well, today is the second day of classes and I must say, I like most of them. We’ll start out by talking about how my first class went.
Teacher enters room of 100+ kids, most freshman, 5 minutes late, hair disheveled, clothes wrinkly.
She asks us how we are doing and starts talking about the class
After some light conversation, she tells us that we will probably only have a final, and that really as long as you show up, you get an A. She tells us that we won’t really learn a lot in Sociology, especially compared to college algebra. I get excited.
I ask if we need the book, because I would like my $100 back. She says we probably won’t use it and to sell it back or keep it, it is up to me. I get really excited.
She tells us, after making a fool out of her self and sociology that she has to make a phone call and she will be right back. She begs us not to leave and then walks out of the room. She comes back about 10 minutes later with her hair fixed and a new outfit on. She tells us that was her “evil twin.” She then says that we will in fact have 5 tests, 4 + final, and that we will be needing the book for a lot of reading and that she teaches out of the book and the test material will come from her and the book. I am no longer excited.
I hate this woman.

I had my “Find a Job” engineering class after that one and it seemed like it was just going to be an easy A with some minimal writing and things like that.

Besides that my Japanese class is looking to be a lot of work, we have Kana and Kanji conversions, Kanji assignments, and probably regular grammar assignments each week as well. I love the class though, so I don’t see myself getting upset with it, besides the slow-paced drill sessions.

My Computer Graphics course is sounding pretty splendid. He basically said that it will be a “Let’s make a video game course.” This makes me really happy, the guy even said that he was getting Nintendogs later, so he can’t be bad.

Today I had one class, my Senior Design class. This is gunna be love or hate, depending on the project I get and the team I am with, I most likley won’t be with Sowas as he and I are both CS and we need a diverse group.

I have two classes I haven’t been to yet, Comm100 and Comm102. I expect them both to be pushovers.

Brian got Makai Kindom on Sunday and I must say, it is a damn fun game to watch. Nippon Ichi has done it again. The game is pretty and fun, from the looks of it.

Since about a week before I arrived back at WVU I’ve been trying to get this promotion from my Work Study job. It is essentially a dollar raise and more hours. I like both, but I really like the more hours. It seems like I have a good chance to get the job as 3 lab leaders have said good things about me and that I should be one, so let us hope I get it. I just sent my resume in a few hours ago.

The last topic I want to rant about is this: The school’s intertr0n. Last year around this time I got my internets shut off because I had this “Korgo Worm.” After turning it in 3 times and having my webz0rz shut off a lot, plus $45 dollars in charges and waiting about a week, I was fine again. Well, because of that I decided to reformat my machine before I jacked in this semester to make sure I didn’t have to go through that again. Well, I did have to go through it again, just not as bad( so far ). At about 10 O’ clock Sunday night I lost my ‘nets. So I ran some scans and saw I had that Korgo Worm. I killed it. I needed to get them to turn it back on( I figured 45 more dollars. ) I came in today and they ran some scans and gave me a bill for $20. Hopefully, my internet is back up and I won’t have to go through this again.

~Zach

“What is he good at? Wind Resistance.”

August 23rd, 2005

Impressions

After giving each class a brief look, I’ve determined that this is going to be a fulfilling but extremely busy semester. It started wtih Database Design on Monday. Databases are big right now, and this class should offer a large array of job options. The next class was Finding an Engineering job, which was too brief to make an opinion on. Then there was Japanese, which progressively goes downhill. It’s not that I don’t like the class - I love learning the language. It’s that the pace crawls, and I’m ready to push forward. Finishing up Friday was Introduction to Computer Graphics, which I have good feelings about. Not only is the teacher wicked, but the major project involves the development of a game. Tuesday started with Senior Design, which I didn’t think was going to be amazing until I realized that one of the available projects to work on over the course of the next year is a video game. I’m really hoping I have the opportunity to work on that project, which would effectively have me developing two games in the same semester. Tuesday wrapped up with Compiler Construction, which is mildly interesting, but not extremely good or bad.

These classes are the most interesting I’ve had. I’m pleased to finally be doing useful work, and I’m really hoping I can create impressive things by the end. The catch is that these are going to keep me incredibly busy - busier than I’ve ever been before - but I can handle it.

After class on Tuesday, I had a meeting for my tutoring job, which leads me into my next rant (which I think I actually brought up once before). At the end of the meeting, the director gave a 20+ minute lecture on how the students wouldn’t want to be there, wouldn’t be in a college mindset, and would need some coercion to force them into the mandatory tutoring sessions. I am opposed to this idea on levels unimaginable. We are dealing with 18 and 19 year-olds who are paying large amounts of money to learn a field. They are given every opportunity to succeed - not only are the classes here extremely flexible, but there are learning centers and available tutors and all sorts of help. If these students choose not to study and work, they deserve to fail. They deserve to fail, and they should leave. It’s timme this college stopped holding their hand and treating them like 3rd graders.

Now on to something more pleasing - Makai Kingdom by Nippon Ichi. It’s evident to anyone who has seem more than one of Nippon’s games that they iteratively improve each game, adding little features and tweaking the system slightly. The most marked alteration was between La Pucelle and Phantom Brave. Makai Kingdom leans more toward the Phantom Brave side, again making little improvements here and there. The battling is fun and - on ocassion - very challenging. The characters are all innovative and interesting, and the art and voices backing them up are superb. The music is one of the most grand aspects, really highlighting many scenes. The story so far has been lax, but otherwise I have no complaints.

Zach and I watched Kung-Fu Hustle dubbed. It sucked when compared to the subtitled version. Remember that.

And then we added a gravity gun.

August 20th, 2005

No Turning Back Now

It’s a poorly kept secret that I love food. Sandwiches, pizzas, meats, cheeses, bagels, dinner rolls. I stutter not when I proclaim that I become excited over every single meal, anticipating the rush of sensation that stems from the taste buds and explodes in my brain. When I entered the Dairy Mart - a haven of delicious splendor - I knew exactly what I wanted. I was half-tempted to say, “The Usual, my good man,” but the clerk was a wet-behind-the-ears rookie unprepared for my arrival. I made my order and took my goods to the room. I bit into a pizza stromboli for the first time in what must have been a small eternity, and I knw I was back.

I’m back in the WVU dorm room now. It’s my final year before receiving an undergraduate degree. Then I will probably pursue a Master’s, but that can be discussed at a later date.

I can’t wait until Zach returns.

Your digital medium can not contain my brilliance.

August 18th, 2005

Captain’s Log 2

Here is the continuation (and finale) of my summer adventure log:

1) Saw March of the Penguins with Whitney.
2) Modeled a decent low-poly human with Milkshape.
3) Picked up Kung-Fu Hustle and a fancy Trigun shirt.
4) Pondering if I should pick up the new Nippon Ichi games.
5) Helped Dee clean up her car.
6) Saw God of Cookery with Doss.
7) Thought of a new movie involving Ceiling Tennis with Doss.
8) Reuinted Doss and Dee.
9) Ate ice cream during each encounter with Dee. Ice cream = Good.
10) Got blowed up real good in Counter-Strike. A lot.
11) Researched Exception Handling in C++ a bit.
12) Hid from Dustin so he wouldn’t beat me for making so little progress.
13) Discovered The Base.

The Base, The Base, The Base.

August 15th, 2005

Florida Update

Well, I got back from Florida at about 5 this morning and I slept 6 hours to make it now. I decided I better update about Florida now while it is still fresh in my mind.

We left on Sunday at about 11am from the Pittsburgh Airport and landed in Orlando at about 1ish. It was my first time flying in about 10+ years and it was my first time in a jet. I wasn’t that nervous once we got in the air and I actually enjoyed the landing. Anyway, Sunday was your standard “first day of vacation” kind of day. We got settled at Sara’s( Morgan’s sister ) place and then sat around until it was time to eat. We ate at a sub place and I must say, I think I liked their meatball sub more than Subway’s. We went swimming that day, but only for a very short while because it started thunderstorming, a trend I would realize happens every day in Orlando.

Sara and her Boyfriend, Brody, worked the next day so Morgan and I were on our own to find something to do. On Monday she and I decided to go to a shopping plaza while they were at work. This never happened. We ended up eating ice cream and watching movies until Sara got home. It was still a lot of fun though, I quite enjoy just lounging around with Morgan, especially when noone else is home.

Tuesday we ended up going to that shopping plaza, it was nice but it was a lot more appealing from the outside, all we bought was an umbrella because it was raining while we were shopping.

Wednesday we went swimming for a good bit and then headed back to the house to get ready for the night. We ended up eating at Kobe that night. Kobe one of those Japanese restaurants that cook the food in front of you and do all the neat tricks. I got the chicken but I should have gotten the steak. I ate most of Morgan’s steak and it was delicious, let me tell you. Unfortunately, Morgan didn’t like it that much.

Thursday we went to this place called Leu Gardens. It is a huge botanical garden that you can walk through. I really enjoyed it because there are no plants in Florida that are also in PA. Even the grass is thicker and feels really different to walk on. I really liked seeing all of the different plants and things indigenous to that area. One thing about Florida I really liked was that all the annoying bugs we have here are replaced( mostly ) with little lizards scurrying about. I almost caught one in Leu Gardens, but he slipped away and I ended up ripping his tail off, poor guy.

Friday during the day we swam a good bit and then at night we drank it up. It was a lot of fun chilling with all of Sara and Brody’s friends and drinking/playing Mario Kart with them.

Saturday was a good “tourist” day because we went to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. I rode: The Hulk, Spiderman( favorite ), Back to the Future, Jimmy Neutron, a few water rides I can’t think of, The Mummy, Deuling Dragons and a few more I can’t think of. I really liked how the queues worked at those two places. Instead of just miles of boring rails each line had a nice theme to it that really helped to let you forget that you were waiting in line. The longest line there was about 45 minutes and the shortest wait we had was 0 minutes. I would say the Lost Continent had my favorite theme to it, nothing like “enchanted castles and stuff” to make me happy. I almost forgot, we went to a place called Downtown Disney I think on Tuesday or Thursday and they had a Lego store there. Not just any Lego store, THE Lego store, the one that actually sells individual pieces and stuff. I bought a teeshirt, and I was like a kid at Christmas in there. I swear I was the only one over 3 feet tall who wasn’t just in there with a kid.

Sunday was your typical day of being a little upset because you were leaving at the end of it. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8:45 with a connecting flight leaving Hotlanta, Georgia at 10:50. We ended up being delayed in Florida until 10:15ish and we told we would miss our connecting flight. We decided that we would get a hotel in Atlanta and catch the earliest flight out today. When we got to Atlanta, we learned that the connecting flight was also delayed about 3 hours and we were able to get on it. We didn’t really want to get home at 5am, but we did. It was great time though and I hope to do it again next year. Sara and Brody are cool cats and not much can compare to spending 7 days with someone like Morgan in Florida.

Forgive me for typos, but I don’t feel like proofreading this post right now, I have to be at work in 2 hours. Bleh.

~Zach

“I’m weird lookin’.”

August 11th, 2005

Captain’s Log

Here is a brief description of what I’ve done with my short vacation so far:

1) Went to see Fantastic Four. I’ve already talked about that.
2) Keri came over. I rocked her at Scrabble. We bought cloth.
3) Went to Dee’s for dinner. We constructed green screens. We bought ice cream.
4) Mom called me for lunch. Ate at a delicious Chinese buffet.
5) Whitney called me. Ate Chinese. Saw Meet the Fockers.
6) Half-Life 2. Lots and lots of Half-Life 2. The Combine is going down.
7) Thought of a method to cleanly handle network errors in the Crusade Blade code without adding a lot of ugly mess. I may end up loving Exception Handling.
8) Researching Milkshape 3D and 3D modeling in general.
9) Researching Half-Life 2 MODing.
10) Looking into Machinima and the possibility of making a Machinima film. It isn’t looking like it’s going to happen, however.

“To repeat what others have said requires education; to challenge it requires brains.”
–Mary Poole

August 7th, 2005

Reviews to Make you Feel Good

We’ll kick things off with Half-Life 2. My good lord. This game is everything you could ever want in an FPS or even a video game. Things kick off rather slowly, with you (Gordon Freeman) on a train to a city without any explanation as to what’s going on. Soon enough, you end up with a small resistance group trying to overthrow the local guard, for reasons still unexplained. You then try to teleport to a researcher, and things go awry. It’s at this point when you get your trusty crowbar, and life becomes a little more real.

The game is the best looking thing I’ve seen. The presentation is simply astounding. The gameplay is fluid and fast. I recall one scene where I was driving in a waterboat. The music kicked up, and a helicopter started dropping mines. As I was weaving back and forth, enemy forces roped down from overhead bridges and tried to shoot at me. Barnacles (aliens that hang from the ceiling trying to grab anything that moves) were trying to rope me. I jumped off a ramp and flew into a tunnel and was safe for a minute - but only a minute.

And then there’s the gravity gun, the most hyped feature of the game. When they introduce the gun, you end up playing catch with a giant robot. We were throwing barrels back and forth and having a jolly time until some enemies came in and crashed the party. It was around this point that I found saw blades lying on the ground, which I picked up and tossed at enemies, slicing them in half. I was grabbing barrels for cover and grabbing explosive barrels to take out groups of enemies. It was great fun.

So then I weaved my way a little further into the game, and I wanted to turn around. Enemies were walking along the walls, jumping at me from out of nowhere. There was one enemy that threw other enemies at me which sucked all the life from me. I had a buddy at this point - a shotgun toting psychopath. And then there was a graveyard. As if they hadn’t thrown enough at me, they toss in a bloody graveyard. I was so terse by the end of that chapter I nearly tore some hair out.

So, yea, the game is amazing. If you like FPS games, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing it. I downloaded the Source SDK - the kit that allows you to make modifications - and am going to play around with it soon.

Now we’ll move on to Fantastic 4. This movie was a lot better than I expected, but don’t mistake that for me calling it good. The movie was actually too short. It feels like the villain is just revealing himself when things wrap up and come to a conclusion. It could’ve used some drawing out. Otherwise, aside from a few incredibly campy scenes/lines, things were pretty solid. It had some mild humor and decent action and detailed character development. It’s worth a look if you like the comics.

I lied about my REU impressions coming soon. I don’t know how motivated I am to write a detailed account. I’ll consider it, but I make no promises. In the meantime, there are only two weeks before school starts again. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of things to say.

Frohamn!