I’ve largely finished moving out of the house in Montpelier, with my belongings (and myself) moving down to my parents’ house for the time being. This really isn’t that bad, as I get along with my parents rather well, and we’re all aware that it will be temporary, which takes a lot of the stress off (though it still remains to be seen exactly how temporary). The one major flaw with living there is that they have no broadband, and even their dialup is noisy and slow. This is through no fault of their own: they’ve kept their hardware up to date and internal lines clear. It all comes down to the fact that the phone company isn’t willing to lay new cable, nor add a station to a pre-existing box to add DSL capability further out of town. Also, the cable company continues to give a song and dance about “maybe” running cable out there “soon” (which is what they’ve been saying for 20 years), so that’s out as an option. There is wireless broadband in the area, but there are a few hills in the way of the line-of-sight needed to get there. Cellular based broadband (EVDO and the like) MAY work, assuming that our somewhat sketchy reception at the house is enough and that the towers serving it are upgraded to handle it… awful big investment for something that may not work. Basically, the choices are either pay an exorbitant amount of me getting a T1 or partial T1 installed, move, or suck it up on the 56k dialup service that is consistently lucky to hit 28.8 (which is “high enough” according to the letter of the law that the phone company will do nothing about the line noise, since it’s not seriously affecting voice communication).

So, instead I’m sitting in my car, in Hanover, listening to my iPod on my car stereo, getting some writing done and downloading a few updates and apps I wanted/needed for some projects. Normally I would be sitting out in front of Collis, but it’s too cold and rainy. Otherwise, I’d be sitting inside the Hopkins Center and using the wireless there, but that’s closed up tight for Labor Day weekend (as is the interior of Collis). But hey, my car is pretty comfy, and it’s nice being able to listen to my own music.

Tomorrow, I pack up my bags and head south to Rhode Island, where Erica and her friends are gearing up for the new school year, and planning a big camping trip up in Maine, which I will be accompanying them on. (And yes, I do consider them my friends too, but I know them through Erica and they were her friends first, so…) It should be a good time rain or shine, and it will be nice to see them all again (many of whom I haven’t seen since the spring). One of my secret projects should be coming up tomorrow as well, so hopefully I’ll have time to post about that once it’s done.

Y’know, modular apps is kind of neat in that when you update an application, you just drop the new application into the directory and it replaces the old one. That said, I do kind of miss when an updater actually modified the pre-existing app. They were smaller. I’m most of the way through an 80mb download, and that is frankly a small package compared to some. it gets frustrating killing time waiting for things to download (hey, news to companies out there: not all of us have an OC3 pipe!). But then, when else would we write all our blog posts?

Update 7.20.2006b

I’m putting Critical Code on hiatus while I figure out the next few months. Realistically there’s no reason I had to formally state as much, but sometimes it’s better to actually say it — less guilt about not posting that way.

As I said in that post, my living situation is going to be changing very shortly, in several ways. My brother may or may not be moving out soon depending on what happens with a job offer (i’m crossing my fingers, as I think it’d be a good move for him). That would leave the rest of the house one, maybe two months of scrambling to fill the gap in rent before our lease is up and we move out as well (which is the plan to the best of my knowledge). The issue, however, is that no jobs have actually panned out, and I’ve been applying since April. I’ve had one nibble (which may still go somewhere, as I haven’t been told no yet), and one bite that got away (made it through the first part of the interview process, and then in the intervening weeks between the first and second interviews, they reprioritized to solely part-timers and removed me from the running… I don’t blame them, and wish them well). The rest have been thus far duds (VERY few bother with a GFY, so who knows how many I’m actually still in the running for and simply don’t know).

Looking at my previous post, I do not have the resources ready to actually start my own company. It’s still something I sincerely want to pursue, but for now it is returning to the backburner. The option I’m choosing to pursue (unless and until a job comes through) is writing. While I am not in as stellar a financial situation as I’d like for such an endeavor, things seem to be pointing more and more towards this, and as has been said before, hunger can be a powerful motivator.

As some of you are aware, there are a few properties that have been in the family for generations, which by and large don’t get used nearly as much as they could or arguably should be. So my current plan is to discuss with the family over the next few weeks the possibility of utilizing one of these properties for a few (3-6) weeks in September/October to get some writing done. In particular, I’m thinking the house in Peterborough would be an ideal location for this project. We’ll see what pans out with that (the family who may be reading this, please do comment either here or privately, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the idea).

As a somewhat tangential aside, I think it’s somewhat amusing that I seem to get absolutely no comments, yet when I check referrals/trackbacks/etc, it becomes clear that I have a small but consistent readership, plus some random blips that seem to actually get some use out of what I’ve written. Once I started realizing that, I stopped feeling like I needed comments and users to validate the blog’s existence, which I think is a foible of a LOT of bloggers, and a contributing factor to why so many bloggers stop after a short while. One of the big unsurprising personal revelations, there. When I got linked to in a rather large video game related podcast by I’m still not sure who, it really made me start to realize that while I do have a lot of these self-referential maundering posts that provide nothing useful to anyone who isn’t involved in my life in SOME fashion or another, I’ve also got a lot of content buried in here as well, and should stop acting like no one would possibly give a damn about what I have to say or offer. Even a personal blog is, at times, more than personal.

Okay, tangent over, back to the maundering post. (The delight and drawback to blog posts is that they tend to be a little spastic, which I suspect is an attribute of the medium that we’ve simply tried to fight for most of its brief history.) In other news, I’ve joined yet another social network site, which means I think I’m on all of the major ones at this point… MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, OkCupid, FaceBook, LinkedIn, some others I’m sure I’m forgetting. I don’t obfuscate my name or anything on them, so I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to find me on whichever they feel like checking. Please note, though, that I don’t actually do much of anything with any of them. The main reason I’m on them is because one friend or another is on one service or another, and that gives me a motivation to take the 5 minutes to create an account. The motivation for this is to make myself accessible in as many ways as I can: maybe it’s narcissistic of me, but I like knowing that in any of these places, if anyone from my past or present gets it in their heads to look for me, they’ll find me. I may be an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the idea of being remembered.

I’m going to wrap this up by saying up front that it’s HIGHLY unlikely that I’ll be posting again or even being on IM or responding to email for the next week. Instead, we’re going on something of a family vacation, spending a week at Squam starting this Saturday. To friends and family who might be reading this: you know how Squam works — if you’re interested for coming over for the afternoon or even a few days, give a call and chances are high that we’ll say “come on over.” And with that, see you all in a week!

Heat Vision

It’s unbelievably hot in my room right now, and there’s nothing to be done about it. All my computers are off except the laptop, the lights are out, the window is open and still the heat is akin to a sauna, only one you don’t have the option to walk away from. It makes me wonder how people further south deal with this, and apart from the snarky response “air conditioning”, I must simply assume we adapt to our environment well enough to not notice this after a while.

I’ve not adapted, however. It’s fucking hot.

This is not the reason I’m writing, however (it would, after all, make more sense to simply close the laptop and try and get some sleep). Frankly, I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing, other than that I feel a need to write some of the things in my head out and see how they sit. The frontmost thought has been revolving around figuring out my immediate and intermediate future. I need a place to live, and a place to work, and frankly if I get the latter, the former will come based on the job. I’ve sent out dozens of resumes to various places all over the world, ranging from design positions (what I really want), to retail computer sales, and everything in between that I could consider myself qualified for that is remotely close to my chosen field. I’ve been sending these resumes out for months at this point, and frankly I’m starting to get a little tired of getting jerked around by companies that won’t even acknowledge I exist, and makes me appreciate quite a lot more the places that even bother with a GFY (“Go Fuck Yourself”, the form letters that politely let you know that the position is no longer available or that you’re no longer considered). This frustration has led me to consider another option: start my own business.

The basic gist of the idea is this: take out a loan (SBA or otherwise) to start an independent software and game development studio. Especially at first, the focus would be on small, targeted, inexpensive apps likely for OS X, while expanding into games (shareware and mods and contract work, and maybe moving into commercial games in future). I’d also work to bring in revenue via web design work and any sort of consulting or contract work I can get, especially at first.

It’s where I want to be in 5 years, the question is whether I’m in a position to do it now. That’s debatable, but even taking my friend Chris’s maxim that the best way to learn is to base your ability to eat on it into consideration, the likelihood of pulling it off isn’t that stellar. (NOT impossible, not even slim! Just also not high.)

Which takes me to my next idea: hide out for a bit and devote the time to getting some REAL writing done. Articles, short stories, and in particular, comic book script and proposals. Once I have some ready, submit them appropriately and see if I can get either some freelance work or better, a full time writing position. I have some strong ideas for comics that I’d like to see done, so I don’t think this is an unreasonable path to take, assuming I can get out of this non-writing rut and back into the habit of writing daily.

The key part to both this idea and the previous one is that they both involve taking some creative/productive responsibility into my own hands. I think an anecdote related to Utah Philips by Fry Pan Jack is the best explanation as to why it’s so appealing:

I learned when I was young that the only true life I had was the life of my brain. But if it’s true the only real life I have is the life of my brain, what sense does it make to hand that brain to somebody for eight hours a day for their particular use on the presumption that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition?

I’ve found ways to minimize the hoop jumping by going to alternative schools, and it would seem a shame to take that experience and throw it away by diving headfirst into the hoop filled corporate culture — there must be another way that still keeps me fed, housed, and clothed, and by damn I mean to find it!

General Update 93.2.2b1

I’m down in Rhode Island again (this is a trend observant readers may have noticed). I’ve been spending time with Erica, and in general making rumblings about getting work done rather than actually doing it. I’m feeling alright about that, though, as it’s helping me collect my thoughts for my critique of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, viewing it as a social commentary.

Today has been a mixed bag. On the positive side, my laptop has shipped a week earlier than expected (it had been delayed due them upgrading all the systems from 1.83GHz dual core to 2.0GHz dual core), which makes me quite happy. I’ve also been upgrading various bits and bobs of software (including WordPress and Gallery), and in general doing little computery housekeeping that I’ve been slacking on.

On the negative side, I just received an email from the school’s dean, informing the student body that one of our professors just passed away from cancer. I worked with Charlotte for fully two semesters, and greatly appreciated both her humor and her insight. I strongly suspect I’ll be blowing off my other weekend plans and attending the service this Saturday; she really was a gem, and I feel like I should pay my respects.

On to other things. My friend Eli proposed to his girlfriend Pia last week, and she said yes, so congratulations to them. Also, I’m thinking of moving to Rhode Island for an interim period of about 2 years, while I get Critical Games rolling as a development company (yep, Uri and I have decided to bite the bullet and do it… I hope to speak with people at GDC both for seed funding and developers, but also for general insights into trying to put together a small, tight development team in this day and age). Why Rhode Island? It’s as good a spot as any for now, and it’s also where Erica is, so that way I’m at the very least not dividing my time quite so frenetically as I am now. It’s hardly set in stone, but basically I’m looking to buy a townhouse or condo in the area to live in until Erica finishes school, and then both of us want to go west.

Of course, time tables change, and so do locations, so it’s all still very tentative. I may end up back in the Upper Valley instead (which is at least closer to RI than Montpelier is, but that’s not saying much), or in southern New Hampshire feeding Boston. A lot will depend on what happens at GDC, in terms of accelerating or deccelerating our plans. I am fully aware that I may need to go take a job elsewhere for a while and leave this as a side project that I do in my spare time until we can afford to break free and do it full time. Again, depends on what happens at GDC.

On Everything

I actually wrote a post since the last, but it was unexpectedly lost in an absentminded reboot.

My friend Adam has his site back up. Much randomness, just as a heads up for those that used to read it. Also, the non-profit my friend Mike has been working on for the past few months now has a site up over at Another site worth noting is The Gizmo Project, which is another VoIP/SIP netphone system that’s pretty slick. Crossplatform and a halfway decent interface for once. I’m TheNadreck or 1-747-627-6040 on it.

School is going slowly but steadily. I pounded through Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun the other day, and really enjoyed it. I think he had some really interesting insights into the nature of game design; I also completely agree with him that the state of story writing within the games industry is by and large at the level of high school. There’s vast room to improve, but i’ll be writing more in depth about that in another post over at my other site real soon now. I’ve also been actively reading a pretty good array of design blogs, notably TerraNova, Video Game Media Watch, Greg Costikyan’s blog, and of course GamaSutra.

Something really interesting and worth reading that was recently posted over at GamaSutra was Eric Zimmerman’s A Game Developer’s Bill of Rights. Again, more insight on that soon over at Critical Games. One last school related tidbit before I move on: the author of one of the books on my bibliography dropped me a line on here a little while ago, which I think is awesome… just goes to show how interconnected the internet is, even if only through Google. Marcus, if you’re reading, I’ll definitely be talking to you later! Online social engineering and communication is a topic near and dear to my heart above and beyond this particular semester.

My relationship with Erica is going smashingly; she’s simply fabulous, and I hope things continue to grow for a long time to come. I’ve been spending most of my weekends down there with her, watching movies and just in general spending time with her. It was kind of weird not going down this past weekend, but it being Thanksgiving, she was in NY with her family anyway. One of these trips, I’ll need to actually get ahold of the family I have down in Rhode Island.

In Vermont, things are going well. We’re all pretty well settled into the house in Montpelier. Good music, good food, interesting conversations… and I heat my room entirely with my computers. Uri and I have been MUDding a fair bit on AvatarMUD, as he’s been making a push to finally Lord (8 years after he started… looks like it should be doable by before Christmas, as he’s finally big enough to really pound through the levels). It’s been interesting, because playing has gotten me back into the MUD in general, after a long hiatus as a staff member. I’ve been active and visible quite a bit, helping with basic sundry stuff (lost passwords, setting altofs, helping with corpse retrievals for linkdead characters, et cetera), and also finally finished one of the areas I started 3 years ago. I’ve also been playing some of the new classes that have gone in since I last really played, like Paladin, and Fusilier.

I still want to write my own MUD, though. That’s on the backburner until I get more programming under my belt, however, since I want to write from scratch (the point isn’t to make the same mud with different content, the point is to do something unique within the genre).

Things have started to settle into something resembling a routine at this point, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back into writing regularly again. I guess time will tell.

Up and Running

With four days to go until my school residency, we finally have an internet connection at the house in Montpelier (JUST finished getting it set up). A lot has happened since I gave a real update, so let me sum up: I’m living in Montpelier with Uri, Andy, and Kate, and will be starting my final semester this Friday. UberCon VI was a lot of fun, and I did indeed pick up a sword (it’s sweet), and ended up selling my graphics tablet (Wacom Intuos2 12×12) to Erica, who is an extremely talented artist and fantastic person in general.

In fact, she and I are now seeing each other. It was unexpected and entirely welcome. I went down to drop off her tablet, and we ended up spending the day together… While I’m aware that I’m getting into yet another long distance relationship, and with someone who is insanely busy, I really like her and we both want to see where things go. This is my first real relationship since Mickey, and I’m a little nervous that I’ll end up carrying too much baggage with me, but I’m going to do my best to simply be as open, honest, and caring as I can, and hope for the best.

Okay, if I keep talking about that, I’ll get mushy, so let’s move along. I’ve been hanging out with a lot of people lately that I haven’t seen in a while, in particular my friend Tiffany, who is a leet gamer that also writes reviews and is a contributing editor for Computer Games magazine. She’s getting me back into Final Fantasy XI (I know, I know… however, I am planning to critique the game for my study), which should be jolly good fun, in that “OMG, I’m hardlining MMOs again” sort of way. Just in general, though, I’ve shipped my game systems out from Seattle and picked up a Nintendo DS under the auspices of my study, and am aiming to try and get a press kit from Nintendo about the Revolution, so I can write about that in particular. (The DS and the Revolution are key points in how my study is formulating in my mind, more specifically how they view/affect the concepts of gameplay and interfacing with games.)

All in all, it’s starting to look like the shitty period is drawing to a close, and things are really starting to look on the up and up. I’ll try and be a bit more cogent/coherent later… still feeling a little scattered and worn out, so I’m going to go drink a couple gallons of water and go from there.

Seattle, Montpelier, and Me

I’m in Seattle again, this time having flown out to help Uri pack and to collect some things out of my storage unit. Every time I come out here I’m reminded why I moved out here in the first place, how appealing the feel of the place is to me. I still hate the traffic, though. Uri has shared a similar sentiment, yet he’s also moving out of Seattle… he and I are renting a house in Montpelier, Vermont, with our friends Andy and Kate. In fact, we officially moved in about a week ago.

This might seem rather abrupt to some of you… that’s because it IS abrupt. Uri has spent the past month living in Brooklyn with Andy, and while there, the idea of moving to Montpelier just sort of got tossed into the air. They looked into it briefly, and managed to find an awesome old house just off Vermont College campus, and so they decided to go for it. I found out about all this when they happened to swing through town on their way up to check it out, and ended up volunteering to go in on it, which made it financially more feasible for everyone (splitting the rent four ways is much better than splitting it in thirds). The whole thing just sort of happened all in the course of about a week and a half.

While naturally I’m a little nervous about it all, and was enjoying the free rent at my parents’ house, I think this will prove to be a beneficial move. I’ll be splitting my time (most of my time in Montpelier, a few days at my parents, playing with the dog and such — Freya is staying with them, more room to play, more stable routine), which I think will help me organize my time for my upcoming (final!) semester. Also, I’ll have broadband in Montpelier, and will be setting up my game systems, which should prove useful given the topic of my semester (game design).

I’m getting back from Seattle on Tuesday morning, and then will be heading down to UberCon VI the following weekend. I was really waffling about going or not, as I think it might be nice to catch up with some of the folks down there, and can just go to enjoy myself since I’m not attending as staff. Any help I end up offering will be entirely at my choosing (which, knowing me, will be quite a bit… that’s not the point, though), so I think it’ll be a lot more fun. The final deciding factor was that my friend Tiffany was interested in attending as well, so this gives me that last bit of an excuse. I’ve only told one or two people that I’m attending, and I don’t think any of the usual UCers read my blog with any regularity, so I’m hoping to surprise them.

I’m hoping to get back into the groove on blogging regularly, but I’m not going to hold my breath… if it happens, awesome. I think it would be good for me, though. Once I get the computers and broadband hooked up at the house, I think that process will be a bit easier. Time will tell.