The Animal Farm

December 30th, 2007

Merry Christmas too

I am even later than Brian, so he doesn’t have to feel bad.

Don’t worry, Brian, the cats won’t learn English, and that is a good thing.

I’ve had a pretty good Christmas so far.  I started reading The Golden Compass as of yesterday on the plane ride over to DC from Pittsburgh.  I got an iPod Nano from  Morgan, as well as the Veronica Mars season 1 DVDs. She may love to make fun of my habits, but she certainly supports them.  Last year I got the WoW hoodie and this year I got V Mars season 1 as well as the Year of Gear calendar from her.  I also got the golden Triforce DS from Santa as well.

Besides the presents I had a wonderful Christmas.  It is nice to have Morgan keeping me on a pseudo-legitimate sleep and wake schedule.

It is very nice because when school  starts back up I really need to get a good amount of work-per-day for my Thesis work.

I am in DC with Morgan this week, so I probably won’t be posting again until I get back to WVU.

Enjoy yourselves, readers,
~Zach

December 29th, 2007

Merry Christmas

Five days late. Or four, depending on when WordPress decides to timestamp the post.

There’s not a great deal to say about Christmas. Or the break. I’ve essentially hidden myself from the world, being a complete recluse while I watch DVDs and read. My days and nights are swapped - completely and utterly - such that I haven’t seen daylight for four days. My primary companions are cats, catapulting me into the world of a spinster cat-woman. I’ve tried teaching them English, but given how much of a target I could be right now for ridicule, it’s probably best if they can’t talk back.

Yea, break’s been kind of wonderful.

December 23rd, 2007

Dear NBC

Buffering is the first freaking thing you implement in a media player. But any reasonable person wouldn’t even use their own media player, they’d use one of the three major ones already out there.

The online shows are sometimes unwatchable, and that’s a shame.

I should’ve had her back.

December 20th, 2007

Memories

I just read the first 4 months of my posts here on TheAnimalFarmCreations, all posts before the site migration, and I can see something. I am not nearly as funny as I was back then. Besides the summer posts where I was a shell of a man who did nothing but play games and sleep terrible hours, all of my posts had some bit of crazy humor to them. Whether it was me describing the dreams I used to have with vivid detail or just ranting about random things like the Mach 3 razor, my posts seemed to have a bit more life.

This sort of depresses me because I can read those posts and remember what I was doing at the time, as in the state of my life, and know that I love my life infinitely more now. I haven’t had the crazy dreams in a while. My guess for this would be my more stable life now. Living with both Brian and Ricky certainly leads to some wild antics, but I guess I feel I can’t articulate them well enough to post about them. That and I am pretty sure our sense of humor is not all that funny to the rest of the world. Honestly, is Nibble rocketing off into space and taking out the moon on her way funny at all to you?

It seems now that my posts, and maybe even Brian’s posts, have stagnated to the point of being, dare I say it? Normal. Brian used to post amazing little anecdotes about recent experiences in such as way that made me laugh out loud. Now I tend to see movie and video games reviews coupled with research and day-to-day life. This isn’t just Brian, I would say 90% of my recent posts have no substance, or soul for that matter, at all to them. I am not even that happy with the Luminous Arc post I just did.

I would definitely consider myself to be much happier now than I was back then. Having Morgan in my life is a blessing that I have trouble believing every day. So I am not saying I liked my life better then or that I was happier then. I don’t even know what I am saying. I am sure you can all agree that the site isn’t as zany as it once was. Maybe I am just growing up finally. Yeah, that is probably it.

I will try and get some zaniness back into my posts, but I really don’t think anyone would find the things the three of us find funny… funny.

Just a thought for the wee hours of the morning. Good night, readers.

~Zach

I’ve been picked to save the world.
Oh, we are here to buy her some shoes.

December 19th, 2007

Luminous Arc

A few months ago I purchased both Heroes of Mana and Luminous Arc on the same day.  I can proudly say I finally beat Luminous Arc.   I don’t really plan on beating Heroes of Mana, which is a shame because when the gameplay is working I really enjoy the game.  Anyway, I actually just started playing Luminous Arc about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  After 22 hours of gameplay, I beat it last night at 4am.

The story is actually pretty terrible.  The dialog isn’t all that great either.  One line from the game was, “You’ve got some balls kid, shame I am going to turn them to ashes soon.”  While that is pretty funny and clever considering the Witch of Immolation said it, the game has a generally serious tone, and these little funny quips tend to rip you out of that tone unexpectedly.  The gameplay, to me, was really fun though.  It is your standard class-based TBS, so all the normal rules apply.  I happen to love that gameplay style though, so it didn’t bother me much.  It was no FFT or FFT:A, but it was still pretty solid.  If you like TBSs, I recommend it.

If that pathfinding in Heroes of Mana were half-way decent, I would be posting on that too.

~Zach

“Not tonight.  Tonight, you’re Julia.”

December 19th, 2007

Current Goings-On

So here’s a brief description of our last week and a half before splitting for the holiday season.

After the Neural Net project, Zach and I had another final on Thursday. A Computer Security final, a class which I can only describe as a joke because it was ridiculously easy and not because there was anything funny or humorous about it. The test passed without incident (although I did make one very silly mistake), and we proceeded to the last meeting of Fixed Parameter Algorithms. I haven’t mentioned this class much because there’s not a lot to mention; it’s a halfway interesting topic, touching on cutting edge CS theory research, but it still never inspired me enough to write about it.

We were supposed to then watch Trigun on Friday and Sunday. Well, that didn’t pan out. The guys went drinking Friday, and I stayed behind. Saturday (I believe) we rented Mirrormask and Casino Royale, both of which I’ve talked about at some point. Sunday we did watch Trigun, working our way up to the Fifth Moon episode, but at some point priorities shifted and we ended up watching Nip/Tuck for the better portion of the next week.

Now, I haven’t talked about Nip/Tuck because it’s a horrible show. It has nothing but ridiculous line after ridiculous line, and even more ridiculous story arcs to support those lines. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend that anyone watch the show, but I admit that it is something I derive at least a moderate amount of entertainment from.

The rest of the week is mostly a blur. At some point I started working on a short story, which has an exciting half page finished. We also designed the mechanics for a card game, but when I slapped together a quick prototype in .NET, it seemed we designed something a little.. big. Also managed, against all odds, to finally schedule for next semester; everything should be in shape for me to finish my Master’s next semester.

I really wish that came with a new title. Like Master Sowers. I’m just going to have to hold out for the Ph.D. it seems.

That’s Doctor Sowers to you, Mr.

December 17th, 2007

The square rut and kinetic energy

Watch this. I really hope this is fake but the whole thing looks pretty real. This guy is supposed to be the expert witness who came up with some of the numbers in a traffic accident. Essentially he is the one who ultimately determines, using fisiks, who is at fault in an accident. I think the idea here is that they lawyer is trying to show the guy is a moron and that this is fraud. Anyway, just watch it.

The sad thing is he tries to show he is really smart when he says, “Can I derive them, no. I can’t bring them back to the square roots and kinetic energy,” when really all he has to do is scale 3 and 3/16 inches to feet using a 1:20 scale. Funny, but really annoying.

~Zach

“Not without my formula sheets.”

December 16th, 2007

Mirrormask

Another Neil Gaiman joint, but this time in movie form. I liked Stardust considerably, and someone in Chicago had recommended this one to me, so when Zach and I were in Blockbuster I thought I’d feed my current Gaiman frenzy and pick it up.

It was… interesting.

At first, the story seems relatively normal. Troubled girl working in the circus, her mother gets sick, she gets crazy worried. Then bam, the entire atmosphere changes; there’s no lead in, gradual buildup, slow progression. The girl walks outside in a relatively normal scene, and someone’s head gets taken off and the entire movie changes.

I say “changes,” but this is when the movie actually starts and we enter Gaiman’s surreal world. The first thing you notice is just how beautiful and artistic everything looks. The Henson company left their Muppets at home in favor of something dark and creative. This motif carries throughout and practically overwhelms the movie, creating such a spectacle that the story seems secondary.

Which is good, because the story isn’t anything to write home about. It’s not bad, it certainly has some charm and is at least marginally different from your “child gets lost in a dreamworld” story. It’s somewhat reminiscent of The Neverending Story, and like the Neverending Story, the overall story isn’t as important as the details and novel bits that make up the world the story is set in. To that end, there’s certainly enough here to create a rich, vibrant dreamscape.

My only problem (and I seem to have this problem a lot with movies and less so with books) is the characterization. The main character is just uninteresting; she’s good enough to drive the narrative forward, but I hardly cared about her. Her friend Valentine is a bit more interesting, but he’s not a movie-maker. I could’ve done with a few personalities to really wrap me into the world.

I can recommend this movie for its aesthetic; that alone is good enough to warrant at least a single viewing. The world is well-crafted and the story sufficient. I don’t know that I’d put it on the level of The Neverending Story, but then, that’s a hard movie to compete with.

I just threw that in so it wouldn’t be obvious.

December 15th, 2007

Forgive Me

The title of this post is dedicated toward Doss, who will undoubtedly shake his head in shame at my words. I’m not a physicist, I don’t get the complex maths or the more esoteric ideas, and my beliefs are as such poorly founded, but I just don’t buy into some portions of quantum physics.

The idea that things ‘choose’ a state upon observation is my biggest point of contention. It seems, well, strange to me. Almost creepy. Probabilistic models and non-determinism just don’t feel right. Too complex, too whacky. Not as out there as string theory, obviously, but hard for me to accept. Don’t even start with me on the Many World theory.

I lean more toward a deterministic view with hidden variables we just aren’t capable of observing right now. I’m sure any physicist with a solid year under his belt could ridicule me into submission, but I could always sucker punch him, and that makes me feel comfortable in my ignorance.

It’s just a dead cat in a box.

December 15th, 2007

Quantum Factor

First of all, StumbleUpon may be the only reason I need to have Firefox at all. For those who don’t know, StumbleUpon is a Firefox addon that adds a little bar on Firefox that lets you chose to stumble upon a website or a movie or other web-things. This isn’t entirely random, when you first get StumbleUpon you set up, via clicking on a series of check boxes, your preferences for what stuff you wanna see. After that you can just click a button and off you go. I’ve spent a good bit of my time that I would usually spend reading the WoW forums using StumbleUpon to watch videos.

I recently watched this video and I feel I should post a little about it. I kinda like the theoretical end of quantum mechanics. I am not one who fancies all the horrific equations and some of the half-baked theories, but I definitely like when I can hear some proof that matter at the quantum level exists as a wave of probabilities, or “all possible things it can be” until someone or something observes that matter, then it becomes one of those possible things. The video I linked above appears to be trying to explain this to children. But I thought it did a good job of showing an example of this “wave of probabilities” nonsense in action.

~Zach

“That was half me and half you, Mario.”