Probably because of the chaotic nature of my speech, I tend to not only shift accents from time to time, but also shift expressions in my speech as well. These can vary from time to time, from the way I present information in discussions, to regional or cultural expressions in my sentences, to even the way I order sentence fragments in a sentence. And these change constantly, with a new one appearing suddenly, and being used frequently.
The latest one I noticed, I started using this evening in fact, then proceeded to use it on several locations on the internet, with the phrase "the other half of this is" to join together multiple points of a discussion. I'm not sure where I might have picked it up, but it started spontaneously, I used it multiple times in succession, and I only noticed it as I was closing the multiple tabs I had open and saw them all in sequence.Mon, 28 Sep 2009 17:00:00 -0500
For a good amount of time now, Net Neutrality has been on the topic of the US Government. While most popularized be the gibberish speech by Ted Stevens, the problem has been a very serious matter. As a brief recap, the issue at hand is ISP's slowing down or blocking entirely certain content that they don't want or may be competing against them, while giving preference to other content that they want. Something very much against the grain of the function and foundation of the internet, which has always provided all information to anyone who has wanted to look for it.
Finally, the issue is coming to a close, on the side of Net Neutrality, at least as far as the US is concerned. With an announcement today by the Federal Communications Commission, they are adopting new rules for dealings with the internet. These two particular additions, on top of a set of four already in place, are explained as follows: "The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination -- stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications" and "The sixth principle is a transparency principle -- stating that providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices."
The reason we have needed these in place as actual rules have been because of 21st century companies attempting to shape the internet otherwise. Comcast, for one example that was being directly addressed by the FCC, was secretly using packet filtering and slowing techniques to disfavor BitTorrent traffic on their network. Setting piracy aside, BitTorrent is one of the primary distribution methods today for Linux, and is used in numerous other applications by various other companies, including Amazon in their S3 service, and Activision Blizzard for the content delivery for the mega-popular World of Warcraft.
That's just the most plain example. It's also a tactic known to be used by cellular telecom companies, with AT&T filtering and slowing certain traffic for the iPhone, and other cell companies using it for various other phones. At the end of the day, what matters most is these were just the things being tried now, if these rules had not been set, they would only be pushed further and further by internet service providers, to become who knows what in the future.
So I say this, to Chairman Genachowski and the FCC. From the internet, from a user, and from a developer, I thank you. Thank you for allowing a path for us to continue to enjoy and grow the internet in the future, the way we want to see it.Mon, 21 Sep 2009 17:00:00 -0500
Just a short note here. My cousin's currently replacing the transmission in my car, so I'll have my car working again soon.Mon, 21 Sep 2009 06:00:00 -0500
So I guess I've mentioned once before, I own a Zune instead of an iPod. Never wanted an iPod, never liked Apple products in general after having tons of problems with old Power Macs and G4s throughout the years. But I have this nice little Zune 30, which is getting to be some three years old now. Battery life is wearing down, but it still functions fine. I usually keep it connected to my 360 so I have my music library on there. I like the device quite a bit.
As such, I've been following Zune developments for a while. I had wanted to get a Zune 80, but never got the chance to. I also have been keeping an eye on software development for it, since at least the older Zune's support XNA, although there hasn't been any distribution platform for it yet. For the new Zune HD, it is going to have a games platform, however the details on it haven't yet been finalized.
Now that it's finally released, we should start to see more coming for it. For now, they've released an incremental update for the older firmware as well, which won't have all the features of the HD because of hardware changes, of course, but as long as it adds Unicode support in the device then I'll be happy. My library is re-syncing right now after formatting the device, so we'll see what it has when it finishes.Tue, 15 Sep 2009 09:00:00 -0500
One of the more interesting topics I've found is the subject of steganography. Digital steganography, more particular, is done usually with images. One particular online comic I read recently had its creator using steganography for hiding spoilers to the upcoming storyline. However the methods are so varied that, without knowing any particular technique, it's just as well impossible to know how a message is hidden in a digitally steganographed image. There's apparently 725 different variations according to the Wikipedia article on it; the programs I found when originally learning about it is JPHIDE/JPSEEK. However, for simple things, I accidentally stumbled upon a different way of doing it entirely that I hadn't thought of before.
Years ago, I found a program that was designed for aiding the blind with using computers, by using a method to convert the screen into sweeping sound data to piece it together. It would require some training, of course, but it was a rather interesting software. I unfortunately lost it and the name of it, though, so I don't know whatever happened to it. I decided, though, to look for something similar, more for the goal of looking for audio clues for composing music. I came upon a program called AudioPaint, which for most stuff I tried came up with just noise, simply for the way the algorithm works. I however, plugged in a PNG I have of the actual look of Spiral Island (not the in-game map), and it created a nice, clear tone.
I sat and played with the options for a bit and got a few different results, and as I was combining things in GoldWave to come up with a sound effect, I noticed that the spectrogram had an odd look to it. So I used another program I found mentioned along with AudioPaint, Sonic Visualizer, to open it up one of the saved files and look at it the complete spectrogram. The results were rather impressive:
I found that pretty cool, myself. It is the exact image I used, as an audio file. Obviously not terribly encrypted, but still steganographic. That file itself sounds like a kind of warping sound effect, so unless you looked at it with a spectrogram you wouldn't suspect it was an image there.Fri, 11 Sep 2009 16:00:00 -0500
Act II: The Father of Death.
That is all.Mon, 07 Sep 2009 20:00:00 -0500
One of the things that's concerned me for a while is how much information to present in Spiral Island. There's a lot of backstory, but most of it isn't relevant to the actual game itself, and presenting too much at once would likely make things too boring. However, without explaining at least some of the past, what all is going on may end up being too confusing. So trying to find the proper balance between the two has been really difficult.
The game will have an unlockable profile system from the main menu, with information on the characters and other things, and while actually coding together my editor for that (oh dear, I'm using XML again) I finally found my balance, figured out what information would be useful to know in Spiral Island, and what information to save to present later when touching more on what happened at that time. Right now I'm at a total of 39 entries, the bulk of those the major character profiles, I may add maybe at most 10 more on top of that, plus a few variants of entries presenting more information as you unlock it through gameplay. Not too much information, but enough to understand everything going on.Sun, 06 Sep 2009 10:00:00 -0500
As it turns out, the Black Death was in fact Bubonic Plague, and not Smallpox. I don't know what I was thinking when I thought otherwise.
More on that later.Wed, 02 Sep 2009 08:00:00 -0500