Innocuous Pong

April 26th, 2020

Last year, I participated in a weekend game jam with some friends to make Pigsy Banksy, a simple little platformer where you play a flying piggy bank. This year, I decided to try the solo version and made a game on my own in 48 hours. Details are on the Ludum Dare page. You can download it for Windows or Mac and even play it on the web.

The theme was “Keep it Alive” and I was doodling some ideas around something like paddle ball. Dyson looked at it and said, “How about Pong?”. So I considered that for a bit and thought it might be kinda cool to make a simple one-player version of Pong that steadily got more and more complex.

It’s a very simple concept but I’m pretty happy with what I did for the ultimate level when the player gets a score of 15. The other thing I’m pretty happy about is that I managed to come up with all the sound in the last couple hours.

If you can, try out the game and see if you can get to a score of 15. Otherwise, feel free to check out the full game demo video below:

Two Weeks Later

April 12th, 2020

A couple weeks ago, I tried to make some predictions on how things might go depending on whether we continued isolating or not. How did it go? Well, for the most part, the U.S. has adhered to isolating and it really showed when looking at the graph of growth rate (the dots almost completely overlap the “No Action” prediction):

The two weeks went almost exactly how I imagined, which was:

Gn = (Gn-1 – 1)/(Gn-2 – 1) * (Gn-1 – 1) + 1

Or in other words, a function that geometrically decayed towards 1. That’s great news as it means that if we continue holding out, we’re over the inflection point. Similarly, the total number of cases was pretty close as well:

Unfortunately, my prediction for “lethality” didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped:

In hindsight, this makes sense. Even if we were perfectly isolated, it would have taken a few days for that to reflect in the numbers for people who already had it. We can see that better in the graph for total number of deaths:

The graph is starting to taper, but it took a few more days for it to taper than I had initially hoped. Still, it’s been getting better. So I think we’ve avoided the worst of it. The bigger question is how long can we hold out? What will the world look like when this is over?

COVID-19 Over the Next Two Weeks

March 27th, 2020

I am not an epidemiologist. That’s very important to keep in mind.

But I do have a little experience with data analysis and spreadsheets so I’ve been tracking the COVID-19 data from in this spreadsheet, trying to make sense of it. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out what might happen over the next couple of weeks, say, by Easter.

Bottom line: what we do next could be the difference between 10,000 and 100,000 deaths.

First, I started by modeling the “growth rate” of the total confirmed positive cases. This isn’t a great number because we know we’re not testing everyone, so the actual number is probably significantly higher. But looking at all the countries, there’s a noticeable pattern:

Every country went through a spike as it saw outbreaks and then a gradual tapering down as they started to take action. The U.S. started taking aggressive action a week or two ago (depending on the state) and so it’s possible that we’re starting to see a slowdown of the growth. The two dotted lines represent my guess over the next two weeks depending on whether we stop isolation or if we continue isolating. So from there, we can extrapolate numbers for the total confirmed cases:

Depending on what we do, this could be the difference between 750,000 and 3,000,000 total confirmed cases. From there, I tried to estimate the number of total deaths that would be by trying to guess what the “lethality” is (the number of deaths per confirmed case). Again, it’s not a great number because there are so many factors going on. But looking at the graphs for all the countries, there seems to be a reasonable pattern:

The countries that have taken aggressive action seem to level off at some ratio, which is probably proportional to how much testing they do. But some countries start seeing so many cases that their medical infrastructure starts to get overrun and then they start seeing more deaths per case. I took a guess at what that might look like in the U.S. From there, we can use that to extrapolate how many people might die in total:

And what you see there is the difference between 10,000 and 100,000 people dying from this. The scary thing about the “No Action” scenario is that it’s exponential growth, which means that it’d hit 1,000,000 deaths a week later. This is why we need to take this seriously. Yes, the cost is huge and not just economic. But if we do the right thing, we can get through this.

In related news, I’m glad to see that Japan postponed the Tokyo Olympics. I’ve never been so happy to have a video made obsolete.

Humor During a Pandemic

March 15th, 2020

It’s been a crazy week. The COVID-19 coronavirus has been in the news for months, but it wasn’t all encompassing. At work on Monday, we launched another release of our team’s product. On Tuesday, we were pretty busy discussing what we were doing next when we got an email saying that it was recommended that we all start working from home on Wednesday and … that was it. We spent rest of the day preparing to work from home and that was the last time I will see everyone for a month or so. By Friday, my kid’s school announced closures. Kinda surreal. It’s surprising to see how fast things can change.

It’s been interesting to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. Shopping has been intense. Fortunately, there hasn’t been much hoarding in my area, but the grocery store was the busiest I’d ever seen. The climbing gym that I usually go to was pretty quiet, but not extraordinarily so.

But one thing that surprisingly hasn’t changed (as of the time of this writing) is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in about five months. So, since I make videos about the Japanese language, I made a video about this as well. I’m hoping that I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like it’s prudent to continue with a large-scale event like that so close to a pandemic. Who knows? Maybe it’ll all be over in a few months.

On a related note, I actually made two versions of this video. The first one didn’t seem quite right so I redid the whole thing to what you see above. But if you’re curious, here’s the Pi Day version of the video and you can learn a bit more about “my process”.


March 10th, 2020

For Christmas, my wife got me a weekend workshop course of blacksmithing at the crucible! I was a great couple of days and by the end of it, I made a hook, a knife, a spoon, and a fork. I also had made a little snail on another day that I had access to a forge, which I heat treated with oil during the workshop.

It was a lot of fun, but whoa was it hard on the hands. By the end of it, I had a lot of blisters. See, the hammer isn’t super heavy but you hold it kinda loosely and let gravity do the work. But then the hammer grip rubs back and forth, which led the the aforementioned blisters. But it was all worth it because now I have my very own set of cutlery.

Inktober 2019

November 7th, 2019

I did Inktober again this year! It’s all on my Instagram account but I like keeping an archive here as well.

I used brush pens again and it’s been a struggle to get decent color. On a couple of them, I switched to watercolor and that seemed to work a little better. I think if I do it again, I might switch to a more traditional pen or a thinner brush as it’s been really hard for me to draw a decent thin line with what I’ve got.

Inktober is fun to do, but whooo, it sure does take a lot of time. I kinda stopped with most of my other projects while I was doing it. I’d like to spend more time drawing but I need to figure out how to incorporate it into the rest of my life.

New Vlogging Equipment

October 31st, 2019

You might have noticed that the production qualities on my videos are … not the greatest. I just use the webcam on my laptop, which is 7 years old. I figured at some point, I’d get a new laptop and better webcam. Well, it turns out that even the latest laptops have the same low webcam resolution (1280x720p) and smart phones have had better camera resolutions (1920x1080p) for years. My friend pointed this out to me the other day. (I believe her exact words were, “My god, Mach, your videos are terrible quality. You should use your phone.”)

So, I went to the store and found a handy kit that came with a tripod, smartphone adapter, and fancy ring light. And I made this silly video to test it out. I’m not entirely sure it’s better with the new setup because the softer resolution and darker lighting were a little more … forgiving. But we must move ever onward!

Anyways, I hope you’re happy, Maria.


September 28th, 2019

Hey, remember Vine? Back in 2013 or so, it was a site where you could upload 6-second clips of video. I made a few clips but the site shut down after a few years. I thought about them recently and I figured I should keep a copy here for reference in the future.

I did a cartwheel while holding my phone!


Perpetual motion kid! (It was meant to be played on loop.)


Dyson going down the covered slide at Live Oak Park.


Climbing fun at Dogpatch Boulders.


See how a BART ride to San Francisco turned into a trip all the way to Millbrae.


Tracy and Dyson coming back from a visit to the in-laws. 2013.03.31

Facebook Dating for Married People

September 26th, 2019

I heard about Facebook Dating a couple years ago at one of their keynotes. It seemed a little ominous because they just know so much about you. But they made a couple points that I thought were smart:

  • No dating within your circle of friends.
  • Only single people.

But then I started hearing reports that married people were getting notifications about Facebook Dating and sure enough, I got one. So, I had to make a video about it.

I have to say, I’m totally fascinated by dating because I have almost no experience with it. My wife and I met through writing letters (this was before email was a thing) and we pretty much started going out as soon as we met in person. And then we got married pretty soon after that.

So I thought this would be a great chance to try out the whole dating experience. My wife vetoed that idea pretty quickly. Ah well. On the plus side, this is a rare video where she makes an appearance! So there you go.

I’m teaching Japanese now?

September 20th, 2019

So, a while back, I went to Japan with some friends at work for a conference so I thought it’d be fun to make a video about useful phrases for tourists. Surprisingly, it became one of my more popular videos on YouTube.

And then I remembered this one time when someone asked me how parents tell their kids they love them in Japanese and I joked that I had no idea since my mom never told me that, so that led to a video about useful phrases for friends and family.

And then I had this idea about how there really isn’t swearing in Japanese, which led to a video about swearing in Japanese.

This latest video came about because I was thinking about my experiences working in Japan and then in Hawaii at a sorta Japanese company. I only spent a few summers and then one year working in Japan and it was a long time ago but hopefully, the information is still relevant.

I loved my time working in Japan and at the other company that was sorta Japanese. Those were crazy and fun times. But the work culture is pretty intense over there and I’m thankful that I work and live in America.