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How to Fix FY2011

May. 26th, 2010 | 04:11 am

So I guess I should give my solution. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and trying to come up with something more than, “build a fucking rocket!” but that sums up my position nicely.

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NASA's FY2011

May. 21st, 2010 | 02:07 am

Something has been bothering me for a couple weeks now. As everyone (should) know Obama has recently announced an end to NASA’s human space flight.  Read more...Collapse )

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The Art of Videogames

Apr. 21st, 2010 | 11:52 am

I haven’t posted anything in a long time, but the recent disagreement between Kellee Santiago and Roger Ebert on the topic of videogames as art has me thinking. And none of my normal chat partners are online.

Getting straight to the point, the problem seems to be that Ebert still thinks of games as an adversarial activity. When you play chess, you are playing against a person, same as pong. But very quickly videogames went somewhere completely different with the idea that you were playing against the game itself. Points and high score charts maintained the illusion of playing against other people for a while, but where are we now? When people talk about a game now, they don’t talk about beating it, or winning as Roger Ebert does in his article. They talk about play times, and story, and game mechanics. You don’t win a game, you finish it. If someone asked you what’s your high score on the latest Final Fantasy game or even the most bloodthirsty shooter, you’d think they were crazy.

The very lack of this ability to beat other people in games is what caused the development of achievements and gamer scores. The games weren’t enough of a game anymore. I don’t know if Ebert isn’t aware of these phenomena, or if he’s willfully ignoring it by taking the stance that games that have a strong story aren’t real games.

Now, I’d like to do something really strange and compare videogames to music. For most of history, music was something you had to do. You couldn’t just turn on a song and listen to it as the artist intended every time. People would buy sheet music and play it for themselves or with others. And it was art.

Music didn’t have to be performed for an audience, to be art. It was something people could have a personal experience with. Someone might enjoy just one section and play just that one part over and over, like playing one level of a game that you find more enjoyable. Someone might find it a challenge to play a particularly fast piece even faster. They might even challenge their friends, seeing who can play through it faster, I know Irish musicians do this with each other all the time, playing not just as quickly as possible, but quickly and well, just like an achievement system.

Writing a video game is like writing chamber music. You write it, get it published and printed, then other people get to have fun with it. It’s art to be performed by the consumer.

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Units of Distance

Jun. 17th, 2009 | 08:02 pm

I'm anouncing my creation of a new unit of length, the "k-klick".

As most of you know, a klick is a military term for kilometer. However, when talking about orbital distances, it can become a mouth full. For example, "forty two thousand klicks". and the "megameter" isn't much better.

Thus the k-klick. Named for being 1,000 kilometers, or 1 million meters, this is a convenient unit of distance to measure anything from here to the moon.

For distances beyond that, the Light-Second is useful not just as a unit of distance, but also to keep in mind how old the image you see really is.

Beyond that, I don't care. The AU seems useful, but I have no opinion yet. Besides, the distances are so large that they aren’t really meaningful anymore. (It would take 40 weeks to travel 1000AU boosting continuously at 1g. If your speed when you get there isn't an issue, you could get there in 40 days, but you'd be traveling 5.7% of the speed of light when you arrive) 

There is, however a gap that DOES need to be addressed. Light-years are too big.  At about 63,000 AU, it lacks any convenient unit 3 orders of magnitude smaller.  If anyone has ideas,  I’m open to suggestions.  

To review:
  1000 meters = 1 klick
  1000 klicks = 1 k-klick
  1000 k-klicks = 3 Light-Seconds
  1000 Light-Seconds = 2 AU
  1000 AU =....
  1000 ... = 1 light-year

So, now you all know.  I never want to see any number larger than 1000.  Giving distances with more than two or three significant figures just isn’t practical.  So lets jut cut it out.

Oh, and can we get rid of this unit "parsec"?  Ya, it sounds cool and science-fictiony, but it's just 3.26 light years.  4 light-years = 13 parsecs.  They aren’t even one order of magnitude different! Besides, a parsec is a unit of distance from the earth, it’s not used to describe distances between two other bodies. Just as a league isn’t a unit of depth and fathom isn’t a unit of distance, you have to use the right unit for the right distance.

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If I have to...

May. 14th, 2009 | 10:14 am

Ok ok, FINE! I’ll post something. I've got nothing to say, but I’ve been bugged into posting. I’ll give it to you.

A recent attempt to learn a song has reminded me of how I feel about music theory. If I can figure it out, I’ll post a little bit of what I’ve written to explain things to myself. Read more...Collapse )

I'd love to hear what other people think about how i think of music.

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