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Title: Chess analysis and proofreading
Posted: May 27, 2009 (11:46 AM)
I bought Fritz 8 for a bargain from Amazon about 9 months ago. About 2-3 months later I'd used it to annotate all of my games I'd played in high school and college in tournaments. At 400 games that was 4-5 a day. That included the easy ones, the tough ones, the long ones, and the ones where I'd written in moves badly. If it sounds like a lot, I think it helped for me to think "would I rather be doing this, or one of the time wasting things it's hard to admit aren't fun, because I've wasted so much time at them?"
I played a lot of chess in high school/college but increasingly looked for new ways to try and be creative while my chess got "solider" (read: mechanical and uninspired, and I realized I was hitting a ceiling.)
I enjoyed staying up late and even taking vacation time to sleuth through my bad handwriting and time-pressure-induced mis-writes, and I noticed certain patterns in my play, and moves I thought were the best out there but that were over-conservative. I learned about imbalances: of course, you're aware of them, but when you have a computer to spell things out, it's much more helpful than a person who understands them but can only think so fast about them, so he can't help you work through everything. There were even some games I'd analyzed and was pretty sure I'd done as well as I could, and Fritz found better moves which immediately made sense. A big jump up from the old days when you could give a computer bad pawns and grind through an endgame. I had to swallow my pride a lot to realize all the mistakes I made.
Despite having a computer at hand for the proofreading, it was undoubtedly hard work. I had to re-evaluate how I looked at things, what I hoped to accomplish, and indeed whether I still tried for too-low-risk stuff. I remember a lot of moves I made, I said, "I'd played X instead if I were the sort of person that had the guts." I'm not really interested in chess any more, but this is something I wanted to do, and I dispatched it fairly quickly.
In the same light, proofreading can be very tough for me, but once I get started, I can plow through. So while I see that I can apply the sort of drive I gave to my chess games to my other writings, I find it much harder to. Maybe it's easier to analyze a group of moves with clear calculable values, or maybe I have enough distance from it. But I know needing 10+ years for "distance" in some cases is not going to help me progress so quickly.
I feel like I'm close to doing something major, but I just need to be able to draw the parallel, or have a few more ways to realize my writing is even more important and enjoyable to me than chess was. And to remember that proofreading and reading others' writing is at least as important to writing as studying books and games was to my chess.
Posted: May 20, 2009 (12:29 PM)
Well, I got my gift certificate to Amazon for writing for some of the last few NES North American titles. I had hoped to make it $50 by playing Stunt Kids, but there are other games to write for at the moment.
I remember when I was a kid, I wondered if one day software pirates would be jailed en masse. Now these days I think of how I'm able to emulate and write a guide for a game and even get paid for it...
...at the same rate per hour that people get paid to make license plates in prison.
Title: nonsense leet limerick
Posted: May 05, 2009 (05:54 PM)
@ LOLZORZ 3xo+1c dance cottage
Roxored hard teh joo-better-nottage
Lyke "plz not to frottage
Teh über leet hottage
Or sai hi 2 Sir Pwnz a lottage."
Rats, couldn't fit "k" or the -ness suffix in there.
Title: My my how quickly they grow
Posted: May 04, 2009 (02:51 PM)
There are a lot of GameFAQs old guard who are just sort of, well, out there. Too nice to delete off AIM but I didn't know them well enough to talk to them. One of them was DJosef. On AIM he has his comment "last college radio show ever." And I remember posting in his LiveJournal about AP English exam stuff.
Makes me wonder what I've done in the last 4 years. I generally do my best work seeing that other people have made huge jumps in a short amount of time, and I've had some good jumps with learning PERL etc. And I think most of the stuff that ANYONE improves at best is stuff they've internalized and thus take for granted, so the "woe is me what have I done" approach doesn't work so well. One of the things I've done well in the past few months is find ways to write down notes and transcribe them to my sorted file. And while it has its flaws, I'm pleased with my flurry of fan fiction--don't think I'll have any coming up, but it was good to have out of the way.
I'm also fortunate enough that I can hit some financial goals even with the recession etc etc but at the same time I know I cap new stuff I can go out and try. The problem with that is that it's a bit linear(ie pay $500 more off my mortgage each month) and there is enough exponential stuff out there. Or stuff I could do if I put time aside, like learn Hiragana/Katakana, a goal for this year. Paradoxically, HGWars, which could be a dreadful time sink, has helped me compartmentalize this sort of thing, but that's another post.
It's too easy just to play a game or something...yet at the same time I think the way I look at and pull apart games helps me in other ways. But that'd be another post.
Title: More on rebounds
Posted: April 30, 2009 (07:09 PM)
I've watched this video on rebounding a few times. Kind of scary how much younger this guy is than me.
But the part where Dwight Howard talks about tapping the man boxing you out reminded me of some dumb game I always fell for back in junior high.
Some guy would tap you on one shoulder and he'd be on the other side and he'd say geez what a rube, and he'd keep playing the game, and I was pretty sure I'd guessed wrong more than half the time.
Then one day I got him with that trick and he said "Geez, that's so old."
Of course there are games within games here, but the main thing is--this happens in conversations a lot("Oh I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't true") and getting spun around by logic like that. And I'd really found no way around it for a while. This video brought that back, and it brings into question how you have to know stuff without knowing, be prepared for a sneak attack, and make sure you're not too easy to send 1 way or another. How do you deal with knowing you could be fooled, and not getting fooled 1/2 the time or more?
In this case you have Dwight Howard using his wingspan to see where the opponent is and acting accordingly--in the case of conversational games, I think you need enough facts to feel things out, or a way to push the opponent off to the side long enough to establish a regular pace (~wait for the rebound to come down and get what's rightfully yours) and not get mopped up in an argument when you don't deserve to.
Interesting too how he talks about learning from Dennis Rodman, whose psychological games are a whole other deal. In fact, interesting to see Rodman with normal hair.
Title: Offensive Rebounds and Geometric Means
Posted: April 27, 2009 (09:47 PM)
I try to do some amont of creative writin every day, whether or not I think I have time to. It has been going pretty well recently. For instance, today at work I had a sticky perl script problem. Basically, I had to generalize something I'd written before, which was well written enough to figure what I was doing, but it was a pain in the neck to pull stuff out. Basically I needed to use a form of #include to say "text file A contains text file B." It got done. Then I had 15 minutes to blitz through written notes.
And it occurs to me that I have both concrete and emotional motivators for this. The analogies are strained but they are helpful for me.
1) the emotional is imagining offensive rebounding in basketball. Which is very important, and it's about noticing a chink in the opponent's armor, just like sometimes I have to notice a chink in the work time I have. Or maybe it's just that you are close to the hoop and need to take a swat to have a chance at a tip-in. OR's are a stat that's only recently come into prominence in the box score, them being about twice as valuable as a defensive rebound. Go visit KenPom.com or Basketball Prospectus for more. Many coaches knew about this for a long time. Gene Keady at Purdue(yay!) had his players run sprints for every OR they gave up over 10. But it's been formalized into statistics--and it's still a punch in the gut, or a thrill, to see an offensive rebound.
2) on the other hand is the geometric mean concept. I heard of this one by way of advanced math contests. Basically, you have 6 problems worth 0-7 points and the answer is in essay form. You have several hours(!) because the problems are rather tough. A maximum score is highly unlikely. It turns out a good strategy is to try and make progress on each, hence the "geometric mean" of trying something for each problem. The critical assumption here is that they are all of relatively similar difficulty. I don't really think it applies to math class quizzes, because there, you may need to junk a problem to concentrate on the others, and the end ones may be very hard indeed while the beginning ones are easy.
The corollary here is that I have 7 days to do writing, and I want to establish a geometric mean. I judge my notes by writing KB and so the geometric mean is, just write 1K of notes, even if it is a string of silly ideas. The only rule is, avoid anything obvious I've written before, or anything that is clearly rambling.
These are some of the images/ideas I use, because I refuse to put up with some of the more idiotic overgeneralized motivational stuff. What do others do?
(PS in the dork-pun department, it's funny how overgeneralization did not help me generalize stuff)
Title: First things first, Mr. Schultz
Posted: April 26, 2009 (06:41 PM)
So I decided to finally go through with my Magic Candle III fan fiction. I sort of tied it in to Bloodstone, and the previous Magic Candles, but this one was tougher than a lot of others...I wound up with a lot of extra material I couldn't use and that just didn't seem funny or clever.
Still, I was happy with what I had. So I went to submit it.
And I realized I forgot to see if the game was up there before starting in the first place. Well, I think it can probably stand proofreading anyway.
Title: The things I do for $10
Posted: April 23, 2009 (12:37 PM)
So I noticed SBAllen had a few new bounties up including some NES ones at $10 a pop. Smirk if you want, but the total value of the bounties is above what is usually there. This is a neat gesture from him to say, let's clear out the NES games released in North America. And really, we're very close.
Now I'd heard Secret Scout sucked. Your attack range was horrendous, enemies ran at you, stupid random damages. With an emulator and knowledge of hex editing/modding I can see what they were about. They just went about it wrong.
Secret Scout itself requires you to jump over enemies running at you and kick them in the butt. Repeatedly. This works great until you fight more than one at once, and one enemy's missile leads you into another's and there's a chain reaction, draining your 20(essentially) hit points to 0. Then there are nearly useless items. Well, at least there are infinite continues. There's a weird strategy to that.
Nevertheless I worked through this mess--there was one good puzzle where you had to blow yourself up to advance--and just missed the deadline to get my FAQ posted today.
Maybe I can look at Seicross a bit later. Scott Clemmons, who wrote the half-finished FAQ, broke things down pretty well. He just didn't follow through. If I can get an angle on it, my $10 bounty may increase to $20. Who knows?
Title: On Schedule, I think
Posted: April 21, 2009 (07:23 PM)
I'm very happy my fiction's been approved so far--I'm noticing shortcomings, but then I am taking steps to assure it's minimally interesting and proofread.
I have disorganized notes for everything and have been able to rejig my NoteTab Standard file so the outline looks clear. Between that and good old fashioned GREP, I am able to organizae a lot, leaving me to concentrate on the important details I want to. I really recommend NTS for anyone who is juggling several projects at once. It breaks a WP document handily into sections and ctrl-alt-[up/down] works quite well to move between them.
* Ultima III, IV and VI
* Wasteland(organize notes, proofread)
* Bard's Tale II(organize notes, proofread)
* Deathlord(BIG organization, much bigger than I thought. I may enter this in the contest after all.)
* Magic Candle series(first choice for the contest--not a spoiler as I suspect nobody else knows about it)
* Dragon Wars(may be junked, could be rehash of the previous & not worth writing a new story about)
I really want to concentrate on it, so HGWars is best avoided for the moment. I think I got a lot out of it, and it has been a ton of fun. And will be if I re-enter. I managed to get a lot done in intervals between visits to Venteria, and it was useful to time myself and see what I got done. But there is a lot that is important to me that I need to do irrespective of that game. So I am in essence taking the training wheels off a bit.
Title: Minit Man
Posted: April 20, 2009 (10:34 AM)
Well, I finally took this old Penguin Software game out for a spin. I remember having inordinate frustrations with it. You're in this helicopter, and you need to build a bridge on the left screen. Monsters drop from the center screen, and there's a radar dish on the right that prevents you from picking up the bridge pieces. When you get the bridge built, a train comes through and locks a missile in place. You need to work through the building in the center screen to get to the console to launch the missile. Then you get to go out and do it again.
The game frustrated me nearly to tears when the monsters went and actively destroyed my bridge. But I did a lot better with emulation. Yay, me.
On a totally unrelated note, Chien-Ming Wang's ERA.
It's always fun at the start of baseball season to see someone with a staggering ERA like this. It's especially surprising an ERA would be this high this fare in. Of course it will go down. But meantime, it's as good an excuse as any to laugh at the Yankees.
Title: Advertisements for Myself
Posted: April 19, 2009 (11:15 AM)
So...the fiction thing is going well. I am not worried now about if I am mass-producing stuff, because it is better than mass-procrastinating.
Nevertheless I wanted to lay out my plans, because it is the best way to force myself to get things done.
First, I want to send in my Deathlord and Magic Candle FAQs, because I really enjoyed the walkthroughs I put in them, featuring a fellow named Ned. I'd be curious what other people think of the walkthroughs whether or not they've played the game.
For this week:
--fan fiction for Ultima III * done 10:30 PM
--fan fiction for Ultima IV
(these should be pretty easy--a simple concept, and I know the games well enough that execution should be painless)
--fan fiction for Bard's Tale II, stupid pastiche on the 2 Lagoth Zantas from the Apple and NES, but good for some yucks
--fan fiction for Wasteland, "Fat Freddy vs the Math Dorks"
--fan fiction for Deathlord(different from the walkthrough, I promise!)
--fan fiction for the Pretentious Bastards competition
I think I'm acutely aware of the limited range of fan fiction and as such am "just having fun" doing it.
Now back to HGWars and to poking the powers that be to add certain games to the database. I get HGPoints, they get more guides. Win-win.
Title: More frivolity
Posted: April 18, 2009 (12:27 PM)
Once upon a time, when I was a young ASchultz, I was apparently gifted. But I wasn't spoiled by that. For instance, I clearly wasn't mature enough to listen to Dr Demento. My sister, who was three years older, was. This situation did not change three years later, by which time I should probably have been playing classical music on my violin according to my parents. Somehow I still got pegged as someone who was dorky enough to listen to Dr Demento. I thought I got some of my own back when I bought a few huge compilation tapes in college.
But of course they did not cover everything. I remember snatches of songs and figuring they'd always be lost. Of course now there is YouTube for that sort of thing, but even then you can't see the lyrics quickly. Once you know the tune, a novelty song is pretty straightforward.
Enter these folks. I imagine they got some stick in high school, but I am glad they went over the top to preserve things, the sort of songs one person might really like or just want to hear again, that has to survive on its lyrics.
It's been there a while. You could argue I got there too late(3 years too late.) Maybe my sister doesn't care about Dr Demento any more, or she saw the website and got all she could out of it.
I have a lot of schlocky tunes to revisit. I often need constant distractions and high tech rarely does it for me--but something like random Dr Demento songs does. Some of them will contain ideas I thought of and never brought to the fore. Some of them may provoke new weird ideas. Some, I'll sleep on it and forget they did something for me.
This sort of thing had been around for a while, as I said, but I finally have the confidence to
1) believe something specialized like this IS there and should be, and
2) know it's worth my time even if only 1/10 of it is ultimately interesting, and
3) be very, very grateful the time wasters I've found recently are so much more fun than the old time wasters
Title: Limericks, why not
Posted: April 17, 2009 (05:59 PM)
I seem inanely attracted to the things. It's the one form of writing that's almost impossible to take seriously. You can rattle off something and you're relatively pleased with it. There's a formula, you recognize the output for what it is, and if you're lucky you get a weird rhyme or a short story. Then you hope you can be succinct in other things.
And for me limericks help sort out dead wood in writing--I have a lot to get in, and a few words, so I better make it count. I'm sure I've written a lot of bad ones but I'm glad I take the time to. You can say you wrote something satisfactory, yet at the same time you're left feeling you really can and should do better.
They've been an invaluable catalyst over my increased writing-note production the last few months, and apparently I'm not the only one that enjoys them. The guy at xkcd established LimerickDB which has some shining examples of the genre. If looking for prime examples, I might sort by approval score, though. Some people use meter more conducive to helping you feel less worried about your own poetry. If you know what I mean...and I think you do.
Anyway, here's one I wrote today. It's outdated and shallow even by limerick standards, but so what. I did a lot of real writing after.
A hopeful young sports fan named Chubbs
Stood by his choice. "I like the Cubs."
They're uniform's neat
Their park can't be beat
So what if their players are scrubs?
Title: Like, fiction and stuff.
Posted: April 16, 2009 (01:03 PM)
Well I finally did it! My first works of fiction got published here. They're very derivative and very obnoxious, but hey, I'd wanted to write them a while and then I finally went through with them. I mean, what was I waiting for, some celestial sign? (And I don't believe in astrology.)
The front page doesn't link to fiction, so I thought I'd pump it in my blog. My reviews have tended to be less than enthusiastic for a while, but I'd like to think I was saving the good stuff for what I really want to do--write fiction. And I hope it all shows a different side of me.
My first piece of fiction is about Wally Bear and the No Gang. I couldn't help but make Wally himself succumb to drugs in what is hopefully a heinous way. I may have been too harsh on him. It is not his fault he was stuck in a terminally lousy game. If you look on the internet, you can probably find reviews that demolish the game in different ways. Seanbaby is probably at his best taking this game down, and Something Awful does not disappoint either.
My second is about Solid Snake in Metal Gear, and it also contains drug humor, but a different sort. It stems from me being shocked about a certain inventory item when I was just an impressionable team.
I sometimes have these bursts of activity and hopefully this will continue. 10 days to write out my Pretentious Bastards story but I'm more confident I can get it done now. It's going to be more restrained, but I saw some pitfalls in these two stories that I want to avoid there.
Now to keep collecting and organizing notes.
Title: Pretentious Bastards Competition: Preemptive Trash Talk
Posted: April 15, 2009 (10:20 AM)
I have an idea. It is for an obscure game, oh yes. It is for what is most certainly a better obscure game than whatever you have. But it was popular once, so the series is sort of about a popular game too, so all you people writing for that, know I have you blanketed there, too.
It will release pent-up frustration, creativity(see: my reviews where I can't find much to say about garden variety old school games,) and outrage over how the game did not have enough sequels. It will roast modern games. It will roast the games in the series that didn't work. It will be about old games, what works, and what does not.
And it will leave other reviewers weeping that they cannot reach the soaring heights of allegory, satire, metaphysics, and good old fashioned humor therein. Some, it will motivate them to be half as good as. Others will be shattered, realizing the Sisyphean task it would be to create something vaguely comparable.
And oh yes, of course it will be about life in general. But it will contain such telling details that the competition judges will spontaneously stand and applaud from their seats, wishing misty-eyed that the HGWars rules be changed so I can thump them once more for old times' sake, because gosh darn it, they will know I have gained the right to that. And to referring increasingly to myself in the third person.
*and it's actually only 20% done now, which is behind schedule, but I needed to motivate myself. I'd feel embarrassed if I didn't back up my words.