Archive for October, 2008

The First Cut is the Hardest

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Growing up, I didn’t like getting my hair cut. When I did get it cut, I often fell victim to the dreaded bowl cut. It wasn’t a good look for Moe from the Three Stooges, it wasn’t a good look for me. So when I went off to college I decided, “Screw that, I’m going to cut my own hair.” And I’ve been cutting my own hair ever since. Sure, my haircuts may not look “professional” … or “symmetrical” … or “good”, but they are distinctive.

This year, one of my buddies wanted to do a Halloween skit involving dressing up like soldiers and having an invisible gun fight. So, time for another haircut. I often get asked how I do it. It’s really quite simple:

  1. look in the mirror
  2. cut some hair
  3. repeat steps 1 and 2 until you like what you see or you’re bald
  4. jump in the shower to get rid of all the hair trimmings

Umm, yeah, so … I’ve been bald a couple of times so that may not work so well for you. On a completely unrelated topic, I often wonder in a blog like this how much information is too much information. I guess we’ll never know unless we test the boundaries…

In the last photo, I’m totally naked.

Project #2

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Whenever you start a new project, there’s always some question as to whether or not it’s even feasible. For Mach Dice, the main question was whether or not I could come up with a decent enough physics engine given the constraints of the device. For my Mach Banner experiment, the question was whether or not I could update a display fast and accurately enough to create a coherent message. Sadly, the answer was “no”.

But fortunately, I found that out pretty quickly. In college, one of my professors taught us this mantra: “fail early, fail often”. It has a specific computer science meaning but it’s generalizable. If you’re trying to do something that requires a bunch of other things to work, start with the things that are most likely not going to work. That way, you’re more likely to find out early and you won’t have to waste time.

What does that have to do with Project #2? Well, one of the questions I had was whether or not I could do a certain kind of graphical effect and it looks like I can. So now I’m one step closer to proving to myself that this is feasible. Now, it’s mostly a matter of getting all the parts to work and putting all the pieces together. Unfortunately, work is starting to get really busy. (These movies don’t just make themselves, you know…) Fortunately, I still have my weekends left. For now…

Pumpkin Werx

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Every family has its holiday traditions. One of our was that my dad would carve pumpkins for Halloween. They were always different but you could tell which ones he made. They tended to feature geometric shapes, like spherical eyes or an elongated cube for a nose. And they always had a lot of character. He didn’t really talk much while carving them (actually, he didn’t talk a whole lot in general), but my brother and I learned from him. He didn’t just carve a face onto a pumpkin, he carved the pumpkin into a face. It’s a subtle distinction. His pumpkins were characters, not just a medium to carve an image onto.

Our dad passed away years ago but my brother and I continued the tradition of carving pumpkins. Paul’s pumpkins are much closer in style to our dad’s. I was trying to carve mine to look like a specific face. I’m not completely satisfied as it looks more like a carving on a pumpkin than a pumpkin with a face. But it’s a pretty decent resemblence. Recognize him? Here’s a hint.

MachWerx is currently eating a cheese sandwich

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Okay, I’ve decided to give this whole Twitter thing a try, at least for a week. If, for some unfathomable reason you’ve decided that you’re just not getting enough Mach in your life (hi, Mom!), then you can follow my totally exciting life.

Seriously, though, the most exciting thing that happened to me in the last couple days was that this site got hit with a couple hundred spams in a period of a several hours, so … don’t expect my twitter to be nearly as cool as that of Michael Bay, director of “Transformers”. But has he ever written an awesome virtual 3D dice rolling application for the iPhone?! Just sayin’…

Twitter

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

A friend of mine asked me if I ever used Twitter. No, because my life isn’t nearly that interesting. It’d be all:

  • I’m going to work
  • I’m trying to work
  • I’m avoiding work
  • I’m leaving work
  • sleeeep…

Tracy reminded me of the time we lived in Hawaii and we lived next to what we called “the party tree”. Every morning at 5am, this giant tree filled with birds thirteen floors below us would burst into a chorus of chirps. She asked, “What the heck are they chirping about?” And I replied, “They’re all like, ‘Hi! I’m a bird!’, ‘Hi! I’m a bird, too!’, ‘Check it out, I’m a bird!’” That’s what it seems like it be for me on Twitter.

Still, I’m curious. Are you on Twitter? If so, how do you use it?

MachDice Business Cards

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Earlier this weekend, one of my friends suggested that I make some business cards for MachDice and pass them out at game conventions and such. I thought, “Hey, good idea … too bad, I’m not planning on going to any conventions any time soon.”

But then — one of my other friends emailed me and said she and her husband were going to be at the game convention Spiel in Essen next week. She thought it’d be a great place to market MachDice and asked if I had any business cards or anything for it.

Well, that just seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. So I made up some business card size images. If you ever find yourself thinking, “Man, if only I had some MachDice business cards to pass out, my life would be complete,” then you have a very odd life, indeed. But you can just follow these simple steps:

  • click on the thumbnail to get the full image
  • print it out at 300 dpi
  • cut out the cards

Collaboration

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I occasionally get requests from people to develop applications for them based on their ideas. It’s very flattering because they start off saying things like, “Mach, you’re so awesome…” or “I admire your dice program so much…” or “I want to have your babies even though that’s physiologically impossible…”. (Well, okay, that last one’s more disconcerting than flattering.)

But I’ve got a lot of personal ideas that I’d rather work on so I decline the offers. However, it occurs to me that maybe there are other programmers out there that might be interested in collaborating on projects. So if you’re one of those people, please submit a comment for this post.

Caveats:

  • Setting up a bank account with iTunes is rather involved. If it’s a free app, no problem. But if there’s money involved, you’re going to have to work out some way to split the profits.
  • Obviously, this is a public site so keep in mind that anyone can post comments. Everyone that’s posted so far has been really cool. But who knows? Maybe the person posting is a complete dick an unscrupulous person out to steal your ideas.

Of course, you can always trust me. I would never steal your idea. (I mean, unless I could somehow make money off of it; in which case, yeah, I’d totally do that.)

Back to the Drawing Board

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

So … one of my co-workers had this neat clock in their office that displayed the time in the air. Basically, it’s a bunch of LEDs on a stick that moves back and forth. The LEDs blink on and off depending on the position and makes it look like words or numbers floating in the air. So then I thought, “I wonder if I could do something like that on the iPhone?” Well, the answer is, “No.”:

It’s a neat idea and it almost works, but nowhere near well enough to see a coherent message. Still, it was an interesting experiment and maybe someone else can do something cool with this idea.

Accelerometer

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Theoretically, if the accelerometer is perfectly accurate, you should be able to calculate exactly how far it moves as you move it. It just involves a little “x = x0 + v0*t + .5*t*t” action. (MMmmmm, high school physics … oh yeah.) In practice … it’s not that accurate.

I was hoping to write a little app that did something based on that, but it looks like the accelerometer isn’t quite accurate enough. So I might have to scrap my original idea. But over the weekend, I’m going to try some heuristics to compensate enough for the inaccuracies and give it one more go.

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Welcome, Touch Arcade readers! And for everyone who wrote a comment or sent me email, thanks for the great feedback! It makes the whole effort worthwhile. (Well, that and the bump in sales.) And a special thanks to those of you who donated a little something extra. You really didn’t have to, but it’s much appreciated. Nothing says, “Hey, I like what you did there!” in quite the same way as cold hard cash… =)