And so my photography hobby begins...

While in Jamaica, I noticed how much fun Mike and Jared were having with their DSLR cameras, and I wanted to get in on the action. I will be keeping a log here for just that purpose, and uploading the photos I take to Flickr and displaying them here with the details of the photo. I've been reading up on some things, but also bought a book to help me out. I got a Nikon D40 with the default load-out, an 8GB memory card, a bag for it, and the book which is on exposure. I'll probably read around the web as well and maybe try out some trial versions of professional photo software like Aperture from Apple or Lightroom from Adobe. Jared uses Lightroom, Mike uses iPhoto which is a basic photo application. Aperture is cheaper than Lightroom but only available on a Mac which is perfect since I use one :) But I'll try them out. It should be fun. I've been into photography for a while but never really fed my interests.

I did have a camera in 4th or 5th grade, though. A really old one. I went to Notre Dame and took a photo of the gold dome they have and it turned out really good, like a post card. They also had these giant sand dunes that I took a few pictures of. We had the big red van back then. That was fun.

So I'm giving it another whirl. We'll see how it turns out. Hopefully better than my drawing experiment a year or so ago :)

I have an affinity for science

This has been apparent since I started learning about science, besides biology. I'm up the latest I've been up for the past month or so. It's 2 AM. Bear with me.

I was always also pretty good at math. No genius, but kind of quick to catch on. This was displayed in first grade when I was moved from the B class to the A class in Math. I was 6. This also was evident when instead of learning long division the way the teachers would teach it, I taught myself a way to do it without writing even a quarter as much as the teacher's method. I taught this to a kid in the class who was having problem doing it, and he got in trouble because he didn't "do all the math". But it gave right answers. I never got in trouble.

Then after about 8 years of video games (Nintendo and Sega Genesis mainly), by the time I was 14, I knew that I wanted to make video games, but didn't know what to learn to be able to do that. In the meantime, I was still in first track math, getting 95s or so without trying much, acing Geometry and Trig, doing good in calculus. When I was a junior, I had to start thinking about college, and had no idea what I wanted to do besides make video games, which I hadn't researched at all.

So, instead, I was doing good in chemistry and generally enjoying it, so in my Junior year, I wanted to be a chemist. The next year, I learned physics, was really good at it, and highly enjoyed it. Although, I was only in 2nd track physics. So I wanted to be a physicist. Either of these two would have been a disaster, I think, compared to what I did end up taking.

In college, still looking to fill that gaping void, I took a few physics classes, including astronomy. Today, I still can't get enough physics. With the advent of the internet, and podcasts, I listen to all things physics and astronomy, including Astronomy Cast. But not only podcasts. Audiobooks are like 4 hours long. I have 18.7 hours worth, including three Stephen Hawking books, and one by the Dalai Lama, which is called "The Universe in a Single Atom", which is just a history of his studies and learnings from various minds in theoretical physics.

The only things is I'm not smart enough to come up with my own theories or even begin to understand some of the more complex theories out there. There's not math in those books, though, just theories or almost proven theories, but no math to back them up. Which is fine, I'd be completely lost since I haven't had a math course in years. The way they explain it is good. The current Astronomy Cast is "What shape is the Universe?" I just get so completely lost thinking about it. You might be able to come up with any shape as long as you can come up with a bit of evidence to prove it. I can say, "When you step away from the universe and look at it, it spells 'Jason'".

And talking about 11 parallel universes. A universe that is always expanding. And every object in space, every other galaxy we see is moving away from us, but we're not in the center. There is no center. And is it finite?

The big bang. How when the universe "started", it started as a point with a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion grams per square centimeter or whatever. My one theory is this... I imagine multiple big bangs in the past, but each time, the universe collapsed on itself. So there's no way to know just how old the universe is because each time it started over. Time started over. Einstein, move over :)

If you think about that, multiple big bangs, but this universe is always expanding now... it means that in the past big bangs there was more mass in the universe that gravity made it eventually come back together. After billions and billions of years. But what happened to that mass that now it's expanding with no collapse in sight? I don't know that there's no collapse in sight, though. If the acceleration of the expansion of the universe is slowing down, then it will collapse again. Of course I don't know that this isn't already a theory since I don't read or listen enough, and anything that Hawking doesn't discuss has since been ignored. But I'll take credit for it :)

Just wrapping my head around those ideas; the infiniteness of the universe, the shape, the center. How instead of Newton's theory of gravity where objects PULL other objects to them, instead there's wells created in space. How nothing in space travels in a straight line, not even light, since it gets warped by these divots in space created by mass. It might keep me up later thinking about it, but I wouldn't venture to call myself even an amateur theoretical physicist, maybe not even a hobbyist, I just want to understand. But Astronomy Cast says some of it is the most difficult ideas to understand. Well, I love a challenge.

Rocking It "Flat Style"

Means I went after work to the Flat Rock Saloon with my coworkers. I tried to sell the motto to the bouncer :D He liked it.

Development Underway on Ubuntu!

I've added a new feature this weekend. It would have only taken me about a half hour, but I encountered some major problems on the way. In my ORM system which I call "Dumb", table aliases were previously generated a stupid way. If a table referenced another table, and the two tables were possibly at the long end of a list of joins, it would generate table aliases something like this:


which would be joined from a table with an alias something like this:


This seemed to have worked well for a while amazingly. However, when I tried to build my latest addition, I ran into problems because my User table was being referenced towards the tail end of two different branches in the so-called "join hierarchy". Through much trials and tribulations, I eventually ended up creating a class called "JoinHierarchy" so I could get consistent and unique table aliases. I created a thing called "NewsPicture" which basically links a News item (what you're reading) to a Picture. There's also a "NewsDownload" so I can list downloads as well. Here's what NewsPicture and its join hierarchy looks like:

NewsPicture [PictureId, NewsId, Sequence (for ordering)]
PictureId -> Picture -> PictureAlbum -> User -> Bio
NewsId -> News -> User -> Bio

So as you can see, User and Bio were being joined twice but under the same alias, so MySQL has a problem with that, as well as any database management system out there. Now, each object that can potentially be saved to the database has its own join hierarchy that you can just call up whenever you need a table alias or to get all the joined fields or join statements (including left joins if something could potentially allow null). Take a look at the images and downloads below!! I'll just throw in some random ones this time.

Going strong after three days

It's actually five days with a slight lapse (one smoke) three days ago...

Part of the trick to quitting smoking is that you need to disassociate stuff that you used to smoke a lot while doing. For me it's most things besides going to church or sleeping. Disassociation takes a lot of doing everything that you smoked during, doing it more often and longer than you did when you smoked, and doing it without smoking. The first of the disassociation process for me was video games.

This weekend Beaner and I played the Wii pretty much all weekend. It was indeed another "Wiikend". Tanks on Wii Play is awesome. We pretty much played three games on Wii Play the whole time, which were Tanks, Shooting Gallery, and the one where you have to find Miis. I'm not sure what it's called. Bean made a Mii, too, which looks a lot like him.

Besides the Wii, I played a lot of STALKER, Rainbow Six Vegas, Company of Heroes, and Sid Meier's Railroads! The latter game was played the most because I bumped up the difficulty from where I'm used to playing, and I bumped up the graphics to 1280x1024 with anti-aliasing on. It looked f@%#@$ing beautiful. It's a slow paced game where smoking would be easiest. You're not always doing something with the keyboard and mouse. You'll set up a route and wait until you're able to make enough money off of it to set up more routes. It's a good financial strategy game. Lots of time to sit back and smoke, which is what made it all the more worthwhile to play it a lot.

Did I mention that my new computer is a goddamn beast?! I think it actually runs cooler than my liquid cooled PC. And I'm telling you, Company of Heroes never looked so good. I have it maxed, but the thing that makes the biggest difference is having the effects maxed. So when my rifle guys are shooting their Browning Automatic Rifles, they kick up dust next to the German soldiers they are shooting at. Or when I drop a howitzer artillery strike on an enemy base, the dirt, concrete, and dudes that it hits all go flying. And I'm so damn good. Zatko and I played a multiplayer game at about 12:30 am Sunday on Seine River Docks. It was him, me and a hard computer vs. an expert, a hard, and a normal computer. Zatko was backed into his corner sucking his thumb, while I was trying to make forward progress the whole time. :) It was a brutal match, but I finally broke through the computer's defenses across from me, and eventually made my way through to the other computers. All without smoking. The only bad thing about online multiplayer is that you can't tell which computer is which. Meaning, I would love to know if I had at least the hard computer across from me. Zatko and I were split with the hard computer between us, and the hard computer wasn't doing anything. So he had a good opponent across from him. I know the CPU player across from me was getting help from someone, so it's not like I couldn't take out a medium. The expert was definitely helping. Anyway, after an hour and twelve minutes, the match was over and we emerged victorious.

Rainbow Six Vegas is a fun game, and it also looks terrific. I had started it on the old computer, but decided that I wanted to go through it from the beginning when I got the new computer up. Well worth it. The combat in it is fun. First person, or even third person, shooters haven't really innovated in terms of combat. I can name a handful... FEAR, Max Payne (1 & 2), Brothers in Arms, and Rainbow Six Vegas.

In FEAR, it was just incredible. I have to install that again. Running up to a dude in slow motion and bashing him across the face with your gun could never be equaled in any game. Or throwing a proximity mine then switching to slo-mo and watching it jump up and explode at eye level with enemy. In Max Payne, again with slow motion, diving and watching all the bullets fly was great. Max Payne 2 introduced a more interactive environment with physics, which became apparent from the start when you shot a dude into a tray full of medical supplies in the hospital and watched it all fly all over the place in slow motion. Brothers in Arms had a less interactive environment than both of those games, and no slow motion, but still it was very innovative. You couldn't kill a guy unless you suppressed and flanked. You could sometimes score a lucky shot, but you had to use the situational awareness (pause and view from above the battlefield) to find the best place to suppress from and the quickest path to flank. Each map was like a puzzle. The third one in that series is sure to be a blast, with a more interactive environment (built on Unreal Engine 3, with destroyable buildings and the like).

I just noticed I'm missing some movies. Sometimes my movies will make their way downstairs. I like to watch them on my MacBook Pro, so the best ones are usually in my bedroom. But sometimes my brothers will take them downstairs where they'll pile up until I collect them. Tonight I collected about 30 of them and brought them back upstairs. That's like half of my collection. But I know that I'm missing some, like Minority Report. I should really keep a better catalog... but once I buy a house, it'll be easier to keep track, since I also have some movies in Jeff's room, like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'll collect them tomorrow. I'll probably end up buying Delicious Library... if there's a way to export it to some format that can be put onto a website easily. That would be a great use of a webservice... send an image with a barcode and get back the details of whatever it is you scanned. Or just a website with an exportable format where you upload images of the barcode (or ISBN for books) and it adds it to your library. The new applications will not be run on my computer, which is what Google has figured out. There's no need for anything but computational intensive applications, or just stuff that you can't do on the web, to be running on my computer. Figure it out, already, stupid internet. I'm out.

"Zune" comes out tomorrow

I think I'm going to buy a new iPod to celebrate.

I sent that to about 320 people, I was so proud.

I have some money now

Woohoo! Had to take care of some things right away, like last month's car payment, other bills, video games that came out or are coming out next week, etc, but I still got some left. So I'm having a contest! Just kidding. That would be fun.

Actually, I'm starting on a new web project!! This one will be t3h sweetz0r. I'm not telling anyone, either, so it'll get no visitors for like a year, until people start linking it showing the funny things that are on there. In order to do this, I must own or upgrade a few things. #1, a scanner. I have one in my basement but it's like 200 pounds and made of wood. #2, a sense of humor. I have one downstairs but it's old and weighs 200 pounds, and doesn't work all that well sometimes, and other times drastically misunderstood. #3, artistic ability, some paper and magic markers or art pencils, an outline pen (black ink used to make comics that you find in the paper or a comic book), because I have none of any of those. #4, inspiration, which I can get just by observing the goings-on around me. #5, a MacBook Pro! They're just beautiful. Bean got a MacBook, and he can go online using our neighbor's wireless and check fantasy football scores from in front of the TV. Errr.. Pat does that actually.

So, it's time to create and to entertain.

It's up!!

Thanks to my host working on Sundays (shout out Nexpoint), the game is up! Just visit Vacre Tei and sign up. Make sure to read the about and privacy policy things at the bottom first.


That rocks. Of course, as I'm uploading the site, I have new ideas for it. Damnit. Good ideas too. I'll get to them, no rush.

Game Named

I've decided to name my game "Vacre Tei Market". Weird huh? I was losing sleep, not eating, searching google intensively, trying to think of a name. Then it just came to me. If you've ever seen "Sneakers", then you know where I got that name from... "SETEC Astronomy" was a jumble, where words are formed from all the letters in the initial word. I forget if there's a scientific name for it. Anyway, you can tell, probably, that the original word was "Creative". This sounds pretty cool. Like German. It's pronounced "Vokker Tie", as if it were German. I haven't checked if it's an actual word or phrase that means something really bad or not. I don't think of those things until after I register the domain name "". Why would I? Anyway, when the domain moves over and I get back from Delaware, the game will go into beta. If you want in, just shoot me an email.

What about a music log?

Beaner came over yesterday to record some music on my Mac Mini. He had a microphone and a 300 W mixer, and his acoustic guitar. When he was done, he left everything on my bed. Instead of doing what I wanted to (or supposed to) do, I picked up the guitar and started recording stuff. It sounds pretty good, the mic picks it up decently. But during all this, I wondered "What about a music log?"

You hear of all new types of web logs ("blogs") coming out... Video logs, photo logs, podcasts, etc. What about writing a song each week?

I know a band called "They Might Be Giants", they're fairly famous. I can't find the article right now, but a record producer or a friend challenged them to record a song about every city they visited on tour. So it's possible.

I just think it would be fun, if I could sing, to record a song that's like a podcast. It would be challenging, which would make it more fun.

What would be cooler, though, is if my site had a "jingle".

Finally an IDEA!!!!

Man, this is going to stop me in everything else I'm doing for a little while. Although, this idea isn't hard to do, I just have to do it. I figure, I can start today and be done in 2 weeks. Anyway, I majored in Computer Science in school because I wanted to learn how to make video games. But I never really learned to like programming graphics. Everything else is fun, but graphics suck. They would be cool if they were easy, but they're far from it. However, I still want to make a game.

Ever since I moved over to web programming, I thought the opportunity to make a game was drifting away. However, I learned of a game that was completely web based, and after that I figured that I can make a game that's web based! Why the f%$#@$ not? But, I needed an idea. Today, it popped in there.

There's nothing like it out there that I've come across, there's not even real video games like it out there. It's not a huge time consumer but can consume a lot of time if you really want it to. I just hate the internet right now, and when I'm bored, I want to be able to go to a website, have fun for a few minutes, then go back to being bored. This site will be more fun as more people join, so it'll be a social game. But not really a game in the sense that you're probably thinking. It'll just be a fun way to waste a few minutes.

I sent myself an email today summarizing my ideas, and will get to work on them tonight. It's not really a lot of work, especially since I have my new software that I wrote, so it'll be fun to do as well. I'll let you know when it's up.

[Update] Today I made some progress. I've decided on a Codename for the project: Salzburg. If you know, or can find out, the historic significance of that name, then you know just a small piece of what the game will be about. There's a lot more to it, but that's what the content will be :)

Inspired by Previous Post

Man, that would be awesome to dress up as a website for Halloween. Or software in general. "What are you?!" "I'm Mac OS X" or "I'm, jeez, isn't it obvious?" I think that's where this whole internet thing is going. It was a pretty good idea, but in the future it will just inspire a clothing line from some unheard of clothing company, and they'll become bazillionaires and take the internet offline, so even more people will buy their clothes to remember what they used to waste so much time doing. "Hey, that perfume is great, what is it?" "!" or "They're a cool pair of jasontconnell.coms! I'll bet they're comfy on your feet!" "Yeah, and I can jump so much higher now!"

You get the idea. It's brilliant.

New Reality Show Idea

This is brilliant. It's called "Lies, Deceit, Cheats and Greed". Oh wait, that's every reality show out there where the ultimate goal is to be the last one standing (Survivor Style) and winning a huge sum of money. And Americans are enthralled. Since Survivor there's been a huge number of these. One of the most recent ones is Hell's Kitchen. The thing is, it reinforces a quote I heard.

"Behind every great fortune there is a crime." - Honore de Balzac

Meaning no one gets rich without doing something illegal or immoral. That's probably why I'll never be rich :) I'd rather watch something where everyone isn't fighting for a reward, like Surreal World, if I watch anything at all.

But anyway, that's enough posts about television to last me a few years.

Brilliant Idea for Computing

Here's a brilliant idea I recently had for computers. Now, I have 4 computers, so this problem is quadrupled for me, but I also have one monitor, so it's not 8x'ed. Computers and computer equipment use too many power outlets. I have 2 surge protectors with 8 plugs at full capacity, plus 2 more plugs on the wall.

Aside from everything using one plug, there are those monstrous AC adapters. These are hogs. On one surge protector, I have 6 plugs but only 3 things plugged in. I really hate those things.

Some things plugged in include : Router, Switch, 4 computers, monitor, speakers, cell phone, KVM switch (the first one I had didn't need to plug in), and amplifier. Granted, they are all not used for computing, but they are all there in the vacinity.

So where's the brilliant idea? Well, besides the obvious one of "wireless electricity" (it's already invented), this one's actually a kind of legit "brilliant idea", unlike my "one word per page" publishing brilliant idea. We need a better battery. Longer lasting. I'm talking years. Imagine how computing would be if you had wireless "Bluetooth" or another technology, and everything ran on batteries. That's my brilliant idea. I'm no electrical engineer or nuclear physicist, so I won't figure it out, I leave that as an assignment for the reader.

Brilliant Idea for Publishing

Don't you hate it when you are reading a book, and get distracted half way through a page. When you get back to reading, you don't know where you stopped reading and end up reading most of the page again? Well, here's an idea that is brilliant, I must say. Instead of this stereotype of a page fitting as much as it can on there to cause the reader much heartache and frustration, just have one word on each page. Sure, books would seem a lot thicker and could possibly take up many physical binds of pages, the reader will not get lost. Well, unless you have problems finishing reading a word. But let's face it, if you can't read a word by taking one glance at it, you have some problems. I stopped "sounding out" words long ago :) Unless it's a technical word in Biology or Medicine, of course.

I call on all publishers to implement these changes for the millions of frustrated readers out there, whether they read newspapers, books, magazines, or any number of print media out there. And take out pictures for Pete's sake. If they're worth a thousand words, just write the words. Pictures are for people without imagination, and are shortcuts for non-creative writers. Descriptive, poetic text is a dying art.

I will be implementing these changes on my website immediately.