Thursday, December 23, 2010

THought I previously posted this...

... but I can't find it here. So I'd like you all to go to this link and read a few of these.

Your day will go better, I promise. =)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


If you build it they will come.

Or something.

Check it out if you're into legos and building stuff.  It's pretty cool from a tech point as well.

Part 2 of the last post is coming, but probably after Christmas.

Which reminds me, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Game Design Part 1

Ever since I was little I've loved playing games. When I was small we used to play games like candyland, checkers, aggravation and (probably a little later) rack-o, war and other card games.

I was introduced to video games at age 5.  It was in the fall and we were in Sears.  My dad pulled me aside and showed me the atari 2600.  I was glued to it and we got one for Christmas that year.

Since mid-elementary school, I've been programming with the intent of making games.  I started with basic on the commodore 64.  We figured out that pressing ctrl and break at once would sometimes take you back to the basic interpreter where you could view the basic source code and make modifications to variables.  You could then continue the game with your (usually fatally flawed) modifications.  Later at the library, there were computer magazines you could check out for a week at a time.  I still remember trying to type in the game "canfield" in GW-Basic.  I never got it to completely work, but I did figure out some errors in the printed magazine and got it to kind of run.  I remember having no idea what the asterisk, slash or parenthesis did, though I eventually figured out it was math related.  I found the issue, this is apparently January 1988 that I was working out of.  I think the cover helped as well, I was also interested in astronomy at this time.

In this era I was also enamored of the Grail Quest series of books and began shamelessly plagarizing by using the contents of the first Grailquest book I owned and making it into a GW-Basic game.  I never got very far but I sure did have a good time with this series and learned a ton about programming. I did ghastly things like changing the screen background color randomly as well as randomly changing the text color.

In that era I played around some with my good friend's Apple IIgs and was introduced to all sorts of good games (and good times!), playing hardball 2 while waiting for the bus, zany golf, space quest, monte carlo and others.

Later on in high school I did some BBS programming which I briefly mentioned at one point.  Did I ever actually do a post about slycrel?  Maybe another day.  I enjoyed playing Doom and Doom 2 with the guys at school along with master of magic, civilization and others.

One of the guys I played with from school was the principle's son.  There was a policy of no gaming on the school networked computers, but my friends went so far as to create a key logger that got us admin access.  We played both sides of the fence, keeping other kids out (sanctioned) and playing games ourselves (unsanctioned).  I got a preliminary knowledge of novell netware 4 doing that, which was very interesting to me.  I've never used it since, but conceptually it was a big deal, my first real networked IT experience.

After high school I had just about given up on gaming when I found half-life.  Half-life gave me faith that the rest of the world wasn't stupid and that good games were still out there.  I decided to not give up on gaming at this point and still have some hope.  College was just around the corner, and who knows where I would end up.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Check this out

This story is kind of like a lottery winner story.  Makes you want to go out and buy a ticket.

I should really get back to my project.  Because I'm as much of a gambler as anyone out there.  =)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Family of bridge builders

Over this past summer we have done a number of projects at our new land, dubbed stonehaven by the missus.  After the Stonehaven dental radio commercials I expect that are on the radio all the time.  Or something.

There are plenty of stories here to be told about the land.  I should probably do so more often.  Today we'll do a pictoral walkthrough of our own little bridge to nowhere.

As mentioned previously, there is a trail that walks around the 3 acres or so of property.  It starts near the firepit, running north.  As it gets to the north edge of the property it doubles back and runs fairly close to the back of the shed/cabin.  This is so convenient to cut through, both kids and adults alike move

First, let's start with the river that needed the bridge.  You can see the trail just beyond it here, curving to the right.

The tree off to the left is my favorite baby pine tree.  Because it's my favorite, I expect it to get eaten by a deer this winter.

The stream is a bit hard to see, so let's look from another angle.

The rocks there in the middle are where the kids told me we would build the waterfall.

I should mention, that we inherited a busted metal gate and some scrap wood with the land.  It sits right behind our handy toolshed.  Pretty sure we're going to plant some trees in front of that, possibly as early as next year.  You know, to improve the image some.

Anyhow.  The plan was simple in my head.  It didn't quite work out the way I had planned, but I think in the end it looked better than I was expecting.  First we took a couple of pine logs from the woodpile for our foundation on one side.  This was to help hold it against the sloping sides of the stream bed.  The other side was a small length of 4x4 post that was the remains of a previous gate on the front of the property.  We then hacked a bunch of 2x4's to roughly the same length and nailed it all together.  We only had a few nails the first go around so we had to finish another day.  The results of the first trip:

You'll notice the board on the left is a bit apart from the rest.  This is attached to a separate log as apparently I am pathetic at measuring, even when all I have to do is get two pieces of wood the same length by laying them side by side.  My carpentry skills are not well known.  For good reason.

A more clear picture of the foundation:

Yes, that's a rock there on the left.  The middle 2x4 is a bit short.  The plan is to make the dirt leveled out to cover some of the flaws.  At this point we didn't want anyone stepping in the slight hole that the rock is filling.  At this point I'm thinking that it's not quite what I'd prefer, but I suppose it will do for the kids. I'm glad it's not front and center to show off how really pathetic mu woodworking skills are.  Thankfully the appearance improves.

At this point the kids insisted on the side project of making the waterfall.  We took a few minutes to make that happen here on the downhill side of the stream bed.  This was one of the important milestones for them.  Go figure.

On our next trip two weeks later, we collected more boards like the ones above the bridge in the last picture.  They look to be about a half inch thick and 4 inches wide.  The original plan was to have these boards run length-wise.  Primarily because it would be easier and I'm using a hand-saw to cut everything with.  However after this stage we wisely decided the bridge would be much less stable if we carried through with this plan, deciding to do more cutting but have a better overall bridge.  After having the kids haul in a few more from the woodpile, doing some cutting, removing a couple of splinters, we were good to go.  This time we brought screws instead of nails, with the hopes that they would hold things together longer.  Guess we'll see if that's true or not over time.

Here is our progress so far.

Apparently I didn't get a cross-section after this point.  You may also notice that I continued to eye-ball the lengths of most of the cuts on this wood.  Partly this is on purpose, because I didn't want it to look too "clean" cut.  I like the look of an obvious home-made bridge.  I think that comes from growing up.  There was a bridge over the 10 foot stream that exists in my grandfather's sheep pasture that I have fond memories of, made of telephone poles for the two main structures and leftover 2x6's for the planks, which are also varying lengths.  Anyway.  It's looking better, but nothing genius level at this point.

My wife, ever the artist, suggests we use the stain that we purchased at the beginning of summer to coat it with.  Previously we had to replace the broken window in the shed, this was one of the first projects we did.  Maybe later I'll post pictures of that.  The point here is that we had 3/4 of a gallon of stain left over from that project.  I was a bit nervous as kids with stain and paintbrushes is kind of a dangerous mix, but we ended up doing it anyway.  I have to say, the end result looks really good!

The lighter picture here shows the structure better, the darker is closer to the actual color.  It will never look this nice again, it already has a huge amount of dust on it from kids jumping up and down and such.  The thing is a beast and should hold up quite well to it's environment.  It's quite solid with all of those 2x4's under it.

All in all it was about a 4 hour project.  The kids had a good time helping, we all learned something and best of all we now don't have to worry about stumbling or jumping across this area to get to the trail.  Yay!

Until next time!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Too True

maybe this is why I can't get enough sleep.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I've not done much family posting lately.  One of the things we do traditionally is go to Bear Lake each summer.  Since I was a kid almost every year I've gone and have many good memories there.  One of them is miniature golfing at a course in the condos we stay at.

In that grand tradition I hope that these summers continue for a long time to come.

It's easy to get caught up in the details and miss the little things.  My kids sure do know how to put things in perspective for me.

I hope everyone had a great summer!  (And enjoys what they have left of it!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

do you really have any money?

Here is an interesting article about how our current money system is based in debt.  I think it's correct, if you look at things in the right way.  It doesn't get the full 3D picture, but it's pretty interesting nonetheless.  And it does argue about getting rid of the federal reserve, which I think would be a good thing.

So, the more money you put in the bank, the more is technically available to anyone out there.  Kind of scary.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Interesting spin on education

I'm not sure if I totally agree with this guy, but he does make some interesting points on education, the way that it is currently run, and

Especially interesting to me was the Kahn Academy, which teaches 100% free online courses on the internet.  (i.e. you can go from 1 + 1 = 2 all the way to calculus as an example, among many other topics)

I just might use the Kahn academy to brush up on some of the math I wish I knew better.

He talks a lot about the great expense paying for schooling can be and how it doesn't have to be that way anymore.

Check out the article, it's pretty interesting.

What do you think, are pricey schools going to go away largely or not and why?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

iPhone 4.


Yeah, I'm a glutton.  But, it's fun, keeps me educated in the underlying tech, and ultimately is a break-even hobby with my app making.  Which I am working on additional things right now.  A few are a ways out, but this should help keep my excitement level high.  If anyone wants a promo code or to be a beta tester for one of my apps let me know.  =)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Song of the day

The quiet things that no one ever knows
Deja Entendu

Good stuff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The joys of crashing.

This dude has almost too much fun filling out the info in crash logs for adobe products.

You should read some of it.  They're pretty good details on what's happening.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fun with cursors

Check out this guy's other interesting work here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Land Ho! (Kind of a long one)

So, I'm not sure that I mentioned this before, but last June we refinanced our house to take advantage of the low rates. At the time we had been wishing we had a cabin out in the mountains somewhere. We decided to pull out some money as we refinanced the house. Surely land isn't that expensive when it's not next to civilization, right? Without doing any real research, I chose a sum (which ended up being a little under 19k when all was said and done) and pulled it out along with the refinance.

Uh yeah.... I was so wrong.  If it's got a road to it, people want just about as much money for recreational land that they want for a regular building lot.  Usually you get more land, but the prices are about the same.  In this price range in my area you're looking at 0-2 acres for 25k.  You know, if you don't want to drive hours and hours to get to it.  You really can get dirt cheap property that has only sagebrush on it out here, but it has to be WAY out of the way -- like at least an hour from anything major.  Since I live in the city, that's generally 3-4 hours one way.  Anyhow.

Here we are a year later. Prices on recreational land are starting to fall (finally) here, after the recession has been around for some time. I've been trying to keep my eye on things and this picture caught my eye, along with this [slightly modified] blurb, since the price was within range.

I have 3 acres one hour south of [town] in [the area we're looking for land]. It has trees, a view of mt's, 04 12x12 tack style shed with heat and a rv pad & fire pad. It is 1/2 hour to [popular mountain destination] by four wheeler, fishing in [some] creek nearby. Great family camping,there are no liens on property, I'm not interested in financing it. Please call [someone] at [a local number].

Only a single picture.

Now, I've had a few of these "too good to be true" pieces within my price range.  Just about all of them were just that, too good to be true.  One that claimed to have a water hookup actually did not have a water hookup and was so steep as to not be usable.  One that claimed to be right next to a pond had about 100 feet next to a chain link fence (that was half torn down) to some neighborhood's water supply pond.  Oh, and the lot was also a 4 wheeler thoroughfare and had a cliff in the middle.  And so on.

So, not to let a good deal pass us by, my wife and I decided to have a look.  The owner scheduled a visit 5 days out and we got to wait.

Of course me being me, I had a good look at the picture and a general idea of the area.  So myself and a couple of coworkers took 15 minutes and more or less pinned down within a mile of where this property was.  And, me being me, decided to take the family and go have a look at the land.  I won't bore you with that unsuccessful story, I'll just relate that we found a very nice steel shipping container and a pile of gravel that was one lot over from the actual property.  Close, but not close enough.  Had to wait.

The day arrived.  The plan was to get a sitter and make the outing a date with my wife, but things fell through and we ended up taking the entire family.  Which ended up being a good thing.  The kids enjoyed the scenery and liked the property.  Though my 2 oldest have had the attitude for about 6 months of "What's the problem?  If you want land why don't you just pick some and buy it already?"  Heh.  Little do they know I had WANTED to do that, but I can't afford anything I get to pick like that.  Try explaining that to a 6 and 8 year old though.  Anyhow.

The property was very reasonable, and though not perfect, definitely great for us and our price range.  We committed to buy first thing in the morning the day after we looked at it.  Not 30 minutes after we did the guy who saw it previously called to make an offer.  Just in the nick of time.  All we're waiting on is the title company clearing the deed (which should be clear), and the ETA on that is tuesday by the latest.  Still, if all goes well then we will be purchasing this land.


Edit:  It is a done deal, papers are signed and I'm out a big chunk of money.

I better start posting some pictures, that's what this internet thing is all about right?  I took them with my iPhone, but I'm pretty impressed at the quality.  I don't usually use my phone for anything other than impromptu snapshots.  So, first thing's first, right out of the car we see the fire pit and the shed.

It's nice that the shed is back in the trees some and has been stained/painted relatively recently.  A little green poking up through the gravel, but since we're in a desert I'm not terribly worried about that.  So far so good.

Off to the right a bit is the "RV pad".  The guy explains that he pulled his RV up to it and pulled his awning over the pad.  The fence there is a wind block, he put his BBQer on the far side of it.  The RV pad also has two metal rings embedded that he used to keep his dogs tied up to.  The one near the fence will probably be the BBQ shackle if we end up putting one up there.  I wouldn't exactly call that an RV pad since I coudln't park one on it, but I   don't have an RV so I don't really care.  I'm not sure I'm in love with the rocks along the gravel either but it's tidy and looks pretty ok.  And very changeable if we'd like.

I do like the big trees even if Juniper isn't my first choice.  Mature trees are a plus.  He mentioned that he cut down 3 and a half trees to the west of the fire pit for the distant view.  (The half tree was so he could "sit next to the firepit and have a good view of Mt. Loafer")  I think he was up here a lot.

Moving on to the least happy view of the property, we have a retired outhouse.  The gate and wood pile behind it may come in useful, but it's a little distracting.  It's currently being used for a toolshed and getting shovels, rakes, a gas can and a wheelbarrow with the property are a plus here.  Oh and it doesn't actually stink.  I hope it's been back-filled, I'm guessing so, but unknown at this time.  On the other hand, it's the first thing you see as you pull up, which isn't ideal.  The door (behind it in the picture) has fallen off and is missing.  It currently has an old screen door with glass leaned up against it.  There are also at least 20 cinder blocks and other misc potentially useful supplies back there, though probably 75% garbage to be hauled away.  I guess we will see.  I'd prefer to tear this thing down and have a real toolshed, but that's probably a ways down the list on making things usable.  This arguably is where the most work will be done.  Oh yeah, thinking of hanging the gate, dunno how that will work yet.  Moving on...

Here is my own view of the fire pit, my apologies I didn't get a great picture.  One obvious thing is the cracks in the cement.  The guy's buddy who poured the cement didn't account for the metal ring expanding with the fire, so apparently it cracked the pad.  Not the end of the world and the cracks are minimal.  It's very usable and the view is quite good, even if we didn't have an ideal day to see it.  The half tree is not shown, but is off to the right a bit.  I didn't notice it until he pointed it out, but after that I kept noticing it, it looks like a juniper tree that should be as high as it's neighbors, but is only about 5 feet tall.  Kind of like a bottom only of a Christmas tree.  My OCD may get the best of me on that one, we'll see.  A nice view even if the actual fire ring is a little smaller than I first expected.

One cool thing he did was build a trail to walk back up through the property.  It's winding and goes through the trees pretty well without actually doubling back on itself too much.  The person previous to us looking at it apparently brought a motor bike and rode the trail, you can see the tracks in this picture if you look closely.  There are a few nice sized rocks with lichen on it and numerous other things to be seen on this trail.  Very nice, and will give the kids something to walk and stick to the property.

Finally we come to the "shed".  On this one I'm impressed, from the description I would have expected to see some half-caved in metal shed since there was no picture showing it off.  He unlocked it and we went inside for a moment, but I didn't get a great look.  The walls are bare beams and the outside wood which isn't really surprising.  The kids thought this was the best thing ever.  It's on a cement pad.  There's also gravel right up to it and all the way around it.  He had previously had a curtained off corner with a portable toilet inside.  There are two old short bristle carpets/rugs inside which is also a good thing.  And the heated part is a nice propane heater hooked up in the back.  The big square there on the front is a board covering a window that has blinds on the inside.  I'm unsure if we will leave that on there or do something else like shutters or something.  There is also a thermometer and a hook to hang a bird feeder or somesuch on the left side of the door here.  You can't see the hook very well, it's behind the branch.

On the right is a makeshift woodpile under the tree.  Probably smart to keep it away from the actual walls as that might attract pests to the shed.  I also really like the "porch" aspect, so if it rains we could put some chairs out there and enjoy things still.  Of course more gravel and such.

In the back we see a private property sign as well as the propane tank supplying the heater.  Apparently the propane tank will last a full season up there if not abused.  It's sitting more or less level on a brick and it looks like another has been occasionally used (or removed as it's not for sale maybe).  I also noticed the rain gutter for the first time back here, there is one on both the front and back which is nice.

Looking directly behind the shed is another view of the trail that winds through the property.  Again, it's nice to see this well thought out and functional.

Last view of the shed, you can see the small piece of fencing there in the background by the RV pad.

Coming back around I noticed that while the kids really like the idea of cactuses on the property, right next to the shed is probably not a great place for them.  These will likely be moved or outright go as one of the first things we do.

This is the road that leads into the drive.  To the right of us is the fire pit, shed and RV pad.  Behind us is the abandoned outhouse.  To the left is a short gravel drive, big enough to park a truck on.  This road makes a sharp left and goes a few hundred feet out to the main dirt road.  That road to the main road also has similar gravel on it put down by the (shortly previous) owner.  Apparently the road was reasonably muddy without it after it rains.

I better stop here as this has been a really long post.  I'm sure I'll give you a few updates as we go along, there's certainly more to say.

I'm a city boy, so any advice would be great as well.  I've been camping some, but this will be new and exciting territory for me.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Will it blend?

This one is for Nobody.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


If you haven't ever seen this TV series I would recommend it. it's a bit cheesy (it's a mid-budget tv series) but it explores some interesting concepts and is more or less well acted.

No idea what brought this one to mind Leiandra. Deal with it. =)

Thursday, February 11, 2010


...waiting for the bus in Jr. High and playing Zany Golf at a friend's house. Good times.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Despite the really bad name, Apple's iPad will be big. Real big.

You know how people always talk about computers for their mom and dad? For their grandma? This could fill that niche quite nicely. It's much more of an appliance than a traditional computer. And that's a good thing for most of us.

Personally I'm a bit disappointed that it's not a "real" tablet based computer. But I think apple will get there eventually, they just plan on financing it this way.

Here's one of the best articles I've read about the topic.

Also on that note, I'm madly dumping my free time into a game that will play something like this. Not exactly, but this is the general idea.

I'll hopefully post something more interesting later. =)