A month and a day
A month and a day ago our son Jilis was born. It's been an amazing and exhausting rollercoaster ride so far and I don't think they're going to let me get off any time soon.
I can't remember ever having flown in my dreams. Apparently only some people fly in their dreams, just like only some people actually dream in color. Last night though, I flew in my dream, I flew around Amsterdam with my arms outstretched, steering by moving my weight.
It was a good dream. I was not being chased and I wasn't fleeing from anyone or anything. I was just flying for the fun of it. It was exciting and a bit scary too, because I couldn't fly that well yet. Mostly I flew around at a height of around 3 meters, but sometimes, seemingly when I wasn't paying enough attention, I would suddenly soar up above the buildings. Vertigo would grip me and I'd quickly dive down to a more comfortable level.
In the second part of the dream (and even in my dream I knew it was the second part) I was flying around with Paula sitting on my back and we were very much enjoying the whole experience. Carrying Paula though, it was hard to gain height, because we were so much heavier together. I needed some gusts of head wind in narrow, windy street to gain height.
And when I was gaining height with Paula on my back, I suddenly started to understand the nature of flying in my dreams. Flying (role-players take note!) runs off of will power. Wanting to go higher hard enough did let me go higher, even while carrying the weight of another person. We got as high as the 4th story windows when I started to loose stability and we had to dive down again. Unfortunately, that was when my dream ended.
Slashdot reminds us that it's 10 years now since names like Yahoo, Apache, Ebay, Amazon, and Netscape appeared on the then young internet scene. Has it really been that long? I must be getting older quicker and quicker.
In (un?)related news: I haven't been very active here, but that's because I've been very busy redecorating and building a huge two person desk in our study, so we can convert my study to the baby room. I'll post some pretty pictures later, because the results of my hard work are quite satisfying.
Also, commenting has been disabled again because MT-Blacklist stopped working for some reason. Sorry. I'll try to find some time to fix things around here, but with the baby's ETA of 2 weeks, there are some more pressing things on my mind, as you understand :)
I can understand that some bloggers feel they need to implement a CAPTCHA to curb comment spam, but that doesn't excuse that a legitimate commenter loses his/her comment when s/he mistypes the captcha. If you use captcha's, you must redirect a commenter (whether bot or not) to a new page with with a new captcha and the commenter's comment still intact and ask them to try again. To just send them to a bare page with the message "invalid captcha" and no way to retrieve their comment is bad, very bad.
WordPress 1.5 released
Such a nice valentine's gift, WordPress 1.5 was released yesterday. There's work to do for me then.
Moronic Windows behavior
I just bumped into another display of moronic Windows behavior. I'm setting up my mom's new computer with Windows XP Home. I have installed the McAfee viruskiller, ZoneAlarm and set up Windows and McAfee to download and install updates automatically. I also created a password protected Administrator account and set up a User account for my mom to use.
However, it turns out that Windows Update and McAfee's automatic update will only run when you're logged in as Administrator! That's nuts.
I can't let my mom's computer go without automatic updates and it's way too much hassle to have her (remember to) log out as her User account, log in as the Admin to run the updates, log Admin back out again, log User back in again, every time Windows or McAfee says there's an update available. Well, looks like Windows can't offer my mom the added safety of running as User account, so I ended up setting her account to Administrator level. Sigh.
Why did my computer freeze up? Crap! And why is iTunes still playing?
Oh, ahem, it's just the batteries in the wireless mouse that are dead. Pfew!
Trackback and ping disabled
Well, someone hit my blog with a pingspam run. I don't display pings on my weblog, so that was a fairly useless action. Still, MovableType 2.6 doesn't have any reasonable way of getting at and removing scores of spammed trackbacks or pings, so I've disabled this feature completely.
Comments turned off
I have turned off comments on this site for the moment. Normal service will resume when I've finished the Wordpress theme I'm working on and can finally convert this whole site.
Update: I've installed the patch and reenabled comments for the moment. I haven't had much time to work on my WordPress theme, nor to look after the site.
Last post of the year
I haven't been posting much lately. Nevertheless, much has been going on. This blog has never been the baring all personal diary type and it's never going to be, but there are a couple of things that need mention. First, Paula and I got married on December 6, so after some 12 years we're no long living in sin ;-) Second, we're expecting a baby boy or girl sometime in March 2005, so we're going to be a family :-) Third, I've left academia and am between jobs as they say, so 2005 is going to hold the answer to what I can call myself (professionally) in the future :-\
Fourth, happy new year!
Inside the Halo AI
Very interesting interview with the lead AI developer for Halo and Halo 2:
The game industry is fast approaching this point where we are building characters who are really lifelike in their specific modes of operation, but when you take them out of those modes of operation, they really start to fall apart. The challenge with AI in games right now is, 'What are the boundaries of AI? How do we hide those boundaries from the player? And how do we go beyond them?' That is what artificial intelligence is all about. It's about tricking the player into believing that there is something intelligent there.
Every once in a while the discussion of games returns to the question whether games are or can be art. For example, the last issue of Edge (143) ran an editorial about this issue. I don't find the question itself very interesting, although it points to the much more interesting issue that games/gamers/gaming are still looking for a positive identity vis-a-vis themselves/itself, but also vis-a-vis society as a whole. An identity film, literature, painting, etc. already have and hence they function as reference material for the discussion of games.
In art in the 1960s there was a movement called "concept art". The idea for/behind a piece of art was considered more important than the actual work of art itself, which was only the embodiment, the manifestation of the idea. The extreme form of this was the artist forgoing making an actual piece of art and instead writing down his/her idea for a piece of art on a card and sticking it on a museum wall, leaving the actual, physical form and function of the artefact to the visitors' imagination.
Here's a concept art videogame that you can play before your mind's eye to your heart's content.
Imagine a lavishly produced game, providing many hours of running-around-and-shooting-stuff gameplay and an epic story. If you're thinking Halo or Half-Life, that's okay, but your own private game universe is fine too. The game has been in development for a couple of years, you've seen the screenshots, you've seen the trailer, you've read the games press's hype and you've started thinking that this game could be the best thing since sliced bread.
Now imagine that you can buy this game for the price of an average game, say 50 euros. You buy the game, you read the booklet on the way home, skipping the epileptic seizure warning and sucking up the dime-a-dozen background story. At home you pop the disc in the drive and you start playing. The game looks just lovely, control is a breeze. You get some target practice on unarmed critters trying to attack you and after seeing the first reassuring "Checkpoint" message, you move into a new area that looks a bit harder with more serious enemies moving about.
You move in, blow a couple of dumb critters away, but you overlook one enemy circling around and attacking you from behind. You get shot and die in a shower of videogame blood. The screen fades to black and says "game over". You press every imaginable button, but the screen stays black with the "game over" message on it. You remove the disc and pop it back in, the game loads, and displays a black screen with the "game over" message. You try many other things to get the game to restart until you realize that if the game's character gets shot, s/he dies, and it's game over for good. You won't be able to restart at the last checkpoint, you won't be able to restart the level, you won't even be able to restart the game. The game is simply over and can not be played again. You got the character killed for good.
It's only a concept and at the moment it's only a virtual card on the wall of the internet, but I would actually love to see someone make this game.
Halo 2 available early
Don't bother calling, I won't be picking up the phone. I just walked into the local electronics superstore and they had Halo 2 on sale. A bit early, since the official European release date is tomorrow, November 11, but you won't hear me complain. If you excuse me...
Closer to Cyberpunk 2020
The late 20th century futuristic Role Playing Game Cyberpunk 2020 plays out in a dystopic, highly technologized future. Characters can opt to "chip in" and have a wide variety of mechanical/electrical and biological enhancements installed in their bodies. In the 1990s the year 2020 was a long way off and the technology, while plausible, was mostly in the realm of the fantastic. Now 2020 is another 16 years away, but Boing Boing links to two articles describing scientific developments that put the technology described in Cyberpunk 2020 in the grasp of the realm of actual, everyday possibility.
Wired reports that researchers have created a silicon based chip that
mimics the hippocampus, an area of the brain known for creating memories. If successful, the artificial brain prosthesis could replace its biological counterpart, enabling people who suffer from memory disorders to regain the ability to store new memories.
Meanwhile, Wired also reports, other researchers have managed to grow 25.000 rat neurons in a petri dish, hook them up to electrodes, and provide them with a 'virtual body' in the form of a F-22 flight simulator. The 'brain' so far has learned to control its 'body's' pitch and roll and keep it level in varying 'weather' conditions.
Initially these developments will have mostly medical applications, but it makes you wonder when we'll see +3 Initiative roll Speedware neural implants. The next question is whether "cyberpsychosis" really only was a leveling play mechanic in the CP 2020 universe or whether cybering up really does affect one's "humanity." 2020 doesn't seem so far off anymore and you can't start asking questions too early.
This morning Willem passed on to the eternal hunting grounds. He remained his smart, alert, feisty self until the last minute. At ten years old he died too young and his spirit wasn't yet ready to go, but unfortunately his body could not carry him further. Dear Willem, you will be missed very much. Sleep tight and happy hunting.
Willem is not well. We took him to see the vet, our brother in law, today because he's very short of breath, his chest heaving and his breath ragged, and in general showing all the signs of not being well, although without any obvious symptoms. The examination left him drooling, gasping for breath, and totally exhausted. Most probably he's anemic and there might be something pretty badly wrong with his lymphatic system. In or around his kidney there appeared to be some tissue or growth that didn't appear entirely normal to the vet. Tomorrow I'm going to have to make an appointment for an ultrasound of his abdomen and chest and when we have that in, we'll know more.
Poor Willem. Those who've met him know he's one of a kind, incredibly smart, strongwilled and sporting a personality that's several sizes bigger than his physical self. But... no eulogies till we're at his grave, which I hope is still a long way off. Fingers crossed.
- Oct 17, 2004 :: MT Image upload borked, again
- Oct 12, 2004 :: Game ratings in everyday life
- Oct 10, 2004 :: Mozilla product naming
- Oct 06, 2004 :: Not sticking to the norm
- Oct 05, 2004 :: Tap tap tap
- Oct 04, 2004 :: Halo 2 'finished'
- Oct 01, 2004 :: Broken Xbox controller
- Sep 27, 2004 :: Okay, that's it...
- Sep 15, 2004 :: Cat picture
- Aug 31, 2004 :: New iMac