The Animal Farm

March 28th, 2007

Sweet

Just wanted to say congrats on your second interview.  What does this third interview entail?  Is it gunna be the true techie one, or is it going to be more of a “when can you start? here are your job details” kinda thing?

~Zach

March 27th, 2007

Two out of Three

It’s Spring Break. I’ve managed to squander most of mine sleeping and watching bad things on TV, which is just the way I wanted. Nikki’s been over practically every day, and we’ve done miscellaneous stuff - took a walk in the park, tried to teach her chess, watched Science of Sleep. She came up to the apartment last week, too, where we did similar things. Watched a few interesting movies. We’ve come ot the conclusion that our taste in movies is wildly opposite, but that’s OK. On the last day, I dragged her to an ACM meeting, which I know she absolutely loved.

Had my second phone interview with EA. Was a lot gentler than I expected - it leaned more toward general interview and less toward technical interview. The technical interview bits weren’t so bad. I think I managed to provide reasonable answers for most everything he asked, except for one or two questions on VTables where I just wasn’t sure. The interviewer seemed like a very nice/cool guy. He said I should hear back within a week, so let’s just cross our fingers for a third interview.

I have a fair bit of work to do this week. Have to work on an NLP project and prepare a presentation for Menzies and do some research. Nothing too heavy, but it’s going to make for a few busy days.

Meanwhile, Nintendo should get its act together. It shouldn’t be this hard to get a system this far after the release. People lash out at Microsoft when two XBoxes are defective, but nobody says anything when you can’t even find a Wii.

It’s not cute anymore.

March 27th, 2007

Operation Wii

Well, today is my first morning back at school during my Spring Break. I have decided that this would be the week I really give Wii hunting a really serious go. Just about everytime I enter a store that would sell Wiis if they weren’t simply myth, I ask the electronics guy if they have any in stock. Typically I get a mild “no” out of them. Sometimes, however, I get a response that is no followed by some hints as to when they last got them, and how long they had them.

Well, this week I decided I will go to all the stores around 11:30ish, thinking that would be the time they get their shipments in. I was right on the shipments in at 11:30 thing, all 4 stores I went to were currently stocking up CDs or video games as I asked them about the Wii situation. I managed to get a bit of intel as well.

Wal*Mart
Response: “No”
Intel: none
Target
Response: “No”
Intel: “We haven’t had any in in about 3 weeks now. If we are getting them, they are in the ad for the next week and are usually sold out Sunday.”
Gamestop
Response: “No”
Intel: “We have had 3 in the last 7 weeks. Nintendo said we would be getting more at the end of March, but that actually means beginning of April.”
Best Buy
Response “No”
Intel: “We haven’t gotten any in about 2 or 3 weeks, and even then it was only 8. I’ve heard that we will be getting more Mid-April, so check back then.”

    So it seems it would be pointless for me to actually go back to all of these stores tomorrow or even Thursday, considering Nintendo is playing house with all of the Wiis. I am going to try again on Friday since it is closer to the “end of march” than Thursday. I must also see if Target has its add online, so I can search that every week to see.

    This is getting rediculous. Over 4 months and the Wii is still a hot commodity. For the record, every one of those stores either mentioned they had a ton fof PS3s, I’ve seen as many as 7 at Target, or at least had several on the shelf. You can’t give those $600 muthas away.

    ~Zach

    “Now we remain in this labyrinth of pain. So we ride into the ni-i-ight!”

    March 22nd, 2007

    One out of Three

    Today started out with a frighteningly simple Pattern Recognition test. The first and last problem were borderline trivial, with the only decent challenge being the second problem. Even that was pretty simple once I got my head wrapped around it. There were so many challenging questions he could’ve asked, but he picked some of the easiest. Bit of a relief, even though I have a pretty solid understanding of all the topics.

    Then my phone interview! Went pretty well, I thought. The lady said I’d definitely be getting a second interview, and someone called to schedule that not five minutes after she hung up. Technical interview, which is a little intimidating. They could literally ask me anything, and I have no idea the kind of background they expect of me. I meant to ask that of the lady scheduling the interview, but when she asked me if I had any questions, I acted like a dope and said, “No, I don’t think I have any right now.” Bad move on my part. Wish me luck.

    Didn’t go to my Open Source Software class on account of me being dead tired. It decided to rain, which prevented me from going home immediately. Instead I went to the coffee shop and studied over my lecture material for tomorrow. Not feeling terribly comfortable with the material, but I’ve scheduled in enough time tomorrow to make sure I can get up to speed. Came back when the rain subsided and slept. Very deep. I was dead to the world for at least two hours, and Nibble kept e company.
    Woke up, and Zach came over for a bit. I got angry at the new Dragonball Z game and stormed out. Really, though, I had to get working on a paper. A fifteen page paper due tomorrow at midnight. I worked on it for a few hours tonight, and in one brave motion my office computer decided to close all the research papers I was using to write this. Frenzied and irritated (I didn’t want to re-find the 20+ papers I was working with), I started searching through Firefox settings trying to get to my file cache. It turns out nothing was saved there, and the typical “history” window wasn’t giving me much information.

    I found information about a “history.dat” file that Firefox keeps, and here’s where I have to give props to Linux. First, grep is a life-saver. I was able to yank out all the .pdf links in the .dat file (a nasty little file that makes absolutely no sense when visually inspecting it). Second, in the Linux terminal, you can click on any links and they’ll open up in Firefox. So I was able to grep out all the .pdf links and then open them up quickly. Whole thing took about two minutes. Which is a lot less than repeating my Google searches to refind the files would’ve taken.

    So it’s 2:30 AM, and I have to go to bed soon so I can get all my stuff done tomorrow. There’s more information I have to report on, but I really better go crash.

    This is not a retelling of the same old story.

    March 19th, 2007

    True. True.

    Let’s see. I essentially stopped playing WoW. I haven’t logged on in over two weeks, and have no desire to do so lately. It is not the first time I’ve lost the urge to play, and it certainly won’t be the last. I guess I just get bored with the current rate of progression I am doing and can’t find a way out of that slump. Unlike the other times I’ve quit, however, this time I have actual friends that I play with that I only know through the game. I really need to log on again just to say, “bbl, nubz.”

    Morgan got me into doing a little bit of exercise at the Rec center lately. At first I was a little bit turned off by the whole idea of spending over an hour doing something that wasn’t… well being lazy, but I am really liking it now. I find I actually sleep better, have a bit more energy and I even get hungry, which is something that really didn’t happen. I just ate because I knew I had to. I typically go to the Rec for a good hour and then have to shower, so it really cuts into my other hobbies time. That is the only thing I don’t like about it, I have less time to do other things because of it. It is essentially worked into my schedule now though, so that is good.

    I officially have a job this summer working as a research assistant for Dr. Menzies( my data mining and open source professor ). That is a good thing because I really didn’t want to have to work at Subway again. I like the feeling I get of independance that living here at dub vee gives me. The research material is pretty neat stuff, I just need to find more time to get into it. Luckily, he doesn’t start paying me until after school is over this semester, so I can spend time on it during this semester only as I find the time. That is good because I am typically pretty busy grading papers, making assignments, doing assignments and studying. There is also some game-age with Ricky and Brian( soon to be roomates, WOO WOO ).

    Speaking of game-age.. did anyone see the Wii still being impossible to get mid March? I certainly did not. I’ve had the money set aside for one since Chirstmas.. and it is still sitting. I’ve been told Toys R Us and Sam’s Club are the places to go, so I am gunna do some hunting this weekend back home to see if I can get one. Currently, the guys at the GameStop near me know me and essentially apologize as soon as I walk into the store. I am sure the people at BestBuy, Target, WalMart and various other stores are getting to know me as well. This is getting rediculous.

    Next week is Spring Break, and although Brian is being a nub and going home, Ricky and I shall rock out.

    ~Zach

    “Parents, have you ever thought about turning off the TV, sitting down with your kids, and hitting them?”

    March 13th, 2007

    Things I Want to Do

    Just to keep myself in check:

    (1)Play around more with Half-Life 2 modding. Ideally, I’d like to make one or two cool levels and perhaps some moderate changes to the code-base, which will all serve as a start to an extensive mod. The running idea is to make my Morgantown Zombie Shooter.

    (2)Think of a cool game idea - one more substantial than the ones I’ve been working on lately - and work on it to the point where it’s fully polished and presentable. Current ideas are Guardian Sagas Episode 1, a western tactical strategy game, or a complete rewrite of Funny Faces. I’d prefer something that requires less art, but that may not be avoidable. I may just have to code it up and find an artist later.

    (3)Make significantly more progress with my research. I’ve been reading a lot for it, but I haven’t been getting in enough actual development. This needs to change, since I won’t be satisfied with a sub-par thesis.

    (4)Research shader technology and physics engines again. I let myself slip on both of these, even though I find both topics to be extremely cool. I can research specific physics engines online (I think I’ve got three different ones installed in my system), and there are also a lot of really good articles about writing your own. I’d like to get some good books on the shader stuff (The ShaderX and GPUGems series are both good).

    (5)Write something networked. I’ve done this before - a few times, actually. But I’ve never been 100% satisfied with the robustness of my implementations. Depending on the game idea I choose for #2, I may end up writing this for my polished game.

    (6)Work on my writing a little more. I’ve got a few script ideas floating through my head, and I’ve got at least two unfinished short stories on my computer. I should spend more time with these.

    (7)Watch more movies. I used to watch a whole lot of movies - at least one a day - but have since slowed down significantly. I’m sad about this.
    That’s it. Just organizing my thoughts.

    I’m sad that you didn’t get my joke.

    March 8th, 2007

    Hammer!

    Periodically I’ll muck around with the Source (Half-Life 2) engine and the related tools. A few nights ago I thought I’d take a crack at seeing how hard it would be to make my Morgantown Zombie Shooter, and since the bulk of that work would be modeling choice locations in Morgantown, I took a look at the Hammer editor.

    There’s a bit of an initial learning curve there - more than I had expected. “Intuitive” doesn’t really describe the interface, but it’s not counter-intuitive either - about as simple as any other 3d modeling package. The short video tutorial I watched definitely helped me get over some of my initial problems to the point where I’m now functional. I’m having trouble trying to figure out how to load in my own 3d models (Szarko has made a few Morgantown building models, and I wanted to try to toss them in). I can’t find anything that compiles MDL files, which seem to be the only things Hammer will let me import. But I’m probably wrong there. I’m still very much a novice with this.

    Conveniently, HL2 comes with zombie enemies for use in my game. They aren’t traditional zombies, and thus I don’t want to stick with them, but they still provide something for me to use while I develop (until I can switch over to something else).

    At any rate, I’m still very much in the initial stages of learning. This should be fun to play around with.

    Crowbars are all you need to save the world.

    March 2nd, 2007

    Progress Report. Sort of. Kind of.

    There are things which have happened recently which I haven’t updated on. I’m going to rectify that right now.

    First, I saw the Reno 911 movie two nights ago. It basically amounts to three episodes of the show rolled into one, which if you like the show should be very satisfying. I do like the show, hence I liked the movie.

    Second, I’m adding “Wild Mountain Honey” to my list of favorite books of all time. Not because it’s in any way good - quite the opposite. It’s a horrible, horrible smut book that’s so bad it’s comical. I haven’t read the whole thing, and I don’t recommend you read any of it unless you want to lose any respect for me you ever had.

    Third, I just wrapped up watching Season 2 of The Office. It’s earned its place among my favorite comedies alongside Arrested Development.

    Fourth, thank you Lori and Christina. They congratulated me on my first spammer, and I thought that was very sweet.

    Fifth, Zach’s living with me and Ricky next year. Woo woo!

    Sixth (and the longest one), Nikki came down for the weekend last weekend. Just to hang out. Get out of her house. And we had a lot of fun. I showed her around town, largely fabricating most of Morgantown’s history to make it more interesting. Introduced her to the Crew. She drew a picture of me which makes me look quite literally dashing. I discovered that the futon is the most unforgivably uncomfortable piece of furniture to sleep on, and I humbly apologize to the people I have put through that. Learned three new card games - Egyptian War, Golf, and Spit. Also learned Phase 10 Dice. Played pool and Chinese Checkers for the first time in ages. Watched some Heroes and some Veronica Mars and some Arrested Development, all three of which she disliked unfortunately. Acquired a new love for D.P. Dough and a new loathing for the people employed at Subway. Participated in random chicanery, and had a lot of fun. Those who read this site will notice that I haven’t seriously talked about Nikki in nearly 2 years because of a lull in the friendship; I’m glad that lull has passed and we can start hanging out again.

    Sometimes I ask a girl out and I’m surprised when she says yes.
    And then we go out and I understand.
    ’cause she’s crazy. 

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