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Month: November 2009

Birthday presents and whatever

We celebrated my birthday on Saturday, and I must say, it was a happp birthday!  I got some hand-made bunny pajamas from my great aunt.  (I didn’t get the BB gun I wanted, though, because apparently I’d shoot my eye out.)  I also got this blu-ray and these books.  So, ’twas good.  And the cake’s already gone.

I also finished playing the game Portal the other day.  It’s a short game; only takes about 6-8 hours (though I’m sure one could get good at getting through the thing in less than an hour with some practice).  It’s a puzzle/action game, and is very addicting.  You basically use a “portal gun” (or whatever it’s called) and create portals in the walls that then connect to each other.  For examples, you could create a portal right in front of you and one right behind you to create an infinite hallway.  Or create one right above you and right below you to create a bottomless pit.  To win the game, however, you must create portals to solve puzzles, getting yourself and boxes and weird energy balls from one place to another, over and around obstacles.  And, at the end, it plays this really catchy song.  I haven’t played the bonus levels yet.

I still haven’t done any more programming for my Android game, but I did compose another short 2-minute piece of music called “Clockwork.”  It’s not really as bombastic as my other pieces; it’s kind of light-hearted background music.

Happy birthday to me and such

On Wednesday, I turned 24, twice as old as I was when I was 12!  It’s like I’ve lived to be 12 years old twice.  So I now enter my 25th year of life, and this website enters it’s 7th year of existence, if I’m doing that math right.

During my 24th year of life, I completed 9 pieces of music, opuses 46 through 54.  That’s not too bad, is it?  Opus 53 and 54 I just wrote in the past week, and they are pretty short pieces.  One is called “Awaken” and is only 1’30”, the other is called “I Will Not Go Home Again” and is only 2’12”.  I’m not sure yet whether or not I’ll put them on the album.

And I’ve already finished opus 55 yesterday, on Thanksgiving.  It’s a 4 minute lullaby I call “The Secret Lullaby.”  Why I call it a “secret” lullaby is a secret, I’m afraid, because it is a secret, and thus, a “secret” lullaby.  It is a very big secret, though, and you can’t handle the truth!  I think I will definitely put it on the album.  I cannot stop listening to it; I have severe “pleased composer syndrome” with it.

We haven’t celebrated my birthday yet, so I can’t tell you what presents I got.  Is 24 too old to be getting presents?  Of course not, you should get presents forever!

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  We went out to eat, and I didn’t eat much, but I was stuffed.  My appetite is about a third of what it was during high school.  Of course, my backwards sleeping schedule could also be partly to blame; at the time of eating my body wanted to sleep, not digest.

Now it’s early Friday morning (about 2 AM).  I do hope to get some cheap blu-rays or something on sale today, but I’m not going anywhere early to stand in lines.  If they run out of the good stuff, so be it.

Money money money

Not much, but some.  Today I got my first ever payment for writing music, which I put up on TwitPic:

Money!  Woohoo!

Ain’t that loverly?  I wasn’t sure what to blur out, so I just blurred most of it out.

My sleeping schedule is currently completely backwards.  I want to stay up all night and sleep during the day.  It’s pretty annoying, since I have work in the mornings every now and then.

I guess that’s it for now.

My website is so popular

It was another long work day, so I didn’t really get anything productive done in my free time.  Although I did seem to be having problems with my site displaying on certain mobile browsers and Google Chrome, so I edited some PHP code and fooled around with some of my site’s security settings, so hopefully my site will now load on any browser.  And with the insane amounts of traffic my site gets, that should really be helpful.  In fact, let’s check Google Analytics now and see how many visits my site has had in the past month:

772 Visits

1,493 Pageviews

1.93 Pages/Visit

Huh, that’s actually more than I thought it would be.  Still, that’s quite low compared sites that get more traffic, wouldn’t you say?  And 772 isn’t quite the number of unique visitors; sometimes the same viewer may be recounted.  Don’t ask me to explain, it’s all very complicated rocket science.  And I believe I have Analytics also counting visitors to some of my other domains, like thecomposepile.com.

Anyway, maybe I’ll get a few more visitors now that all browsers should be able to reach my sites without problems… I think.

Oh, I recently started reading the fantasy / sci-fi book called Lamentation (The Psalms of Isaak) by Ken Scholes.  So far I’m really enjoying it.  Very good writing and very engaging story.  I really need to stop checking out library books and read some of the dozens of paperbacks I have on my bookshelf, but I can’t seem to help myself…

Game programming and so on and whatnot

GAME PROGRAMMING

It feels nice to be diving into game programming again.  I’d forgotten how engaging it can be.  Right now, however, I’m doing more graphics programming than game programming.  I’m experimenting with OpenGL on Google’s Android operating system, trying to get a feel for how it all works.  I hope to create a little adventure game with it.  Or an action game.  Or a mix.  I’m not really sure yet.  Recently, I’ve just finished programming a tile-based scrolling map, which was quite a challenge itself.

Anyway, there are not yet many resources out there for programming games for Android.  But there are a few.  I bought a book called Pro Android last week from Amazon and it just recently arrived and has already been of some help.  I’ve also been reading through Chris Pruett’s Replica Island game development blog, which not only has some info on programming for Android, but has some fantastic wisdom on game development in general.

THE ACCORD REVIEW

The Accord In other news, I finished reading the sci-fi book The Accord by Keith Brooke a few days ago.  (I just picked it randomly off the library shelf one day.)  It was a strange book, and overall pretty bad.  It’s filled with awful language, and it’s used so often that it loses all affect and becomes somewhat comic.  The tenses shift from scene to scene, and the POV shifts from first to second to plural first depending on the character or mix of characters in the scene.  The last third of the book is told over the span of thousands of years, so characters forget who they originally were and what they used to want, which makes it quite hard to keep relating to them.  And some characters mix with other characters to become new characters.  With such ideas, it had the potential to be a really awesome story, but unfortunately it was just a lame love-triangle tale, with this character bent on getting this character to love him, and this character bent on killing this guy, and this character forgetting who she is… it drags on too long.  And the ending… maybe I should have read the ending (or endings) more carefully, because I found it (or them) to be somewhat cryptic; I’m not quite sure what happened.  It certainly wasn’t climactic though.

That was the 9th book I’ve finished reading this year, and only the 2nd fiction book.  I seem to read an average of 10 books a year.  Which I suppose isn’t too bad, but also very bad, depending on who I am compared to.  Obviously I’ll never make it as a writer.  Although, that’s only counting books, not book fragments, short stories, articles, magazines, etc.  So I’m probably OK.  Although my want-to read-list is at around 50.

READING AUDIO BOOKS?

There seems to be some debate on these here interwebs as to whether or not one can validly say that they “read” audio books.  The answer is:

No, you do not “read” audio books.  Don’t flatter yourself.

The problem is that, when asked “How many books did you read?” or “Have you read such-and-such?” you can either answer “No, I listened to them” or simply “Yes.”  If you say yes, you are lying, but it’s an OK lie because nobody cares.  It does not make “reading” and “listening” equivalent.

DOLLHOUSE AND OTHER SUCH TV BLATHER

Dr. House doll! Fox cancelled Dollhouse last week, which is very sad.  It wasn’t as good as Firefly, and it’s not as good as House, but it was a very fun sci-fi show.  I am wondering if they will wrap up the storylines in the final episodes or if it’s too late and now and the storylines are doomed to never be resolved.  Earlier this year, there was another fun show called My Own Worst Enemy.  I thought that had a really fun premise, but that was cancelled and the storylines were left unresolved.  The problem with series in which each episode builds on the last is that when they are cancelled you’ve got these big over-arching stories that never complete, making the remaining of the series a bit sour.  It’s like making two movies in a trilogy.  Who would want to watch or buy them?  I don’t feel like watching any Dollhouse or buying the seasons on blu-ray if the storylines are just going to remain unresolved.  At least with Firefly they were able to make the film Serenity, which did provide at least a little closure, but it’s highly doubtful they’ll do that with Dollhouse.  Now when is some more Dr. Horrible stuff supposed to come out?

The other shows I’m watching (on Hulu, mostly) are Monk (3 more episodes of the series left, hopefully Monk will soon solve his wife’s murder), House (best show on right now, or at least tied with Monk), Lie to Me, and Fringe.  And sometimes a bit of The Simpsons and Family Guy.  Oh, and Shark Tank… awesome reality show.  I can’t wait for the next season.  I was enjoying How’d You Get So Rich, a show in which Joan Rivers went around touring rich people’s mansions and lavish lifestyles, but that show got cancelled, perhaps because Joan’s face fell off.  I also have the show Legend of the Seeker on my wish-list… it airs on some bizarre channel at a bizarre hour, and I couldn’t keep up with it on Hulu, so I’d like to buy it on blu-ray or DVD (I watched the first few episodes on Hulu to know I’d like to see the rest of the season, even though it’s a bit cheesy at times… but so was the book).  Oh, I’ve also been watching Flash Forward on Hulu.  That show started out slow, but it’s getting interesting (or at least they’re putting in some comic relief in now).  Also been watching V (The Visitors), which has still been a bit stale so far, but it’s one of the only shows that comes on when I’m not at work.  Hmmm… I guess I watch too much.

OK, I think that’s enough blather, eh?

The Motorola Droid is in my hands

I’m writing this quick blog post from my new Motorola Droid. I wanted to wake up early and get one from Wal-mart, but I slept in, and by the time I got there at 3 PM, it was too late, they were sold out. So I went to Best Buy instead; they still had some. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me get a data-only plan, since I don’t talk much, either because it’s not yet offered on the Droid, or because they are stupid. But if I’m ever able to switch to data-only, I surely will. Until then, I’m really enjoying the phone and will soon try some programming for it. I just have one little music project I need to finish up, a Christmas orchestration…

A Problem with Google Wave

Google Wave is still, of course, very much in its infancy, but I see one major problem with it.  Well, it’s not really a “problem” … it’s more of a structural property that I think is unhelpful.

With Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and forums, when I post something, I’m not posting to anybody.  I’m just posting something out there to whoever might be interested.  In Facebook I’m posting to friends, in Twitter I’m tweeting to followers, in blogs I’m posting to whoever visits or subscribes to my blog (that’s you!), and on forums I post to other members or visitors of the forum.

With e-mail, on the other hand, I’m conversing privately with one select person (or a select group).  Twitter has an equivalent: direct messages.  Forums also have an equivalent: private messages.  Facebook also private messaging, an equivalent, and a wall-posting, which is semi-equivalent.

Currently, Google Wave is somewhere between.  It can certainly replace email as it is (well, once attachments are allowed and more people start using it).  But to truly be revolutionary, it needs to provide a way for me to talk to nobody; it needs a way for me to post a wave and let anyone who wants to read it read it and reply to it, or let other wavers subscribe to my public waves.  I fear that if it does not do this, it may stay a very niche tool.

That said, I probably shouldn’t worry; there’s a lot of functionality yet to be implemented and a lot of plug-ins and exports and whatever yet to be written.

So while I’m glad I got a Wave invite and am allowed on, it’s still kind of useless to me at the moment.

THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS WE’RE LOOKING FOR

Droid In other not-very-interesting news, I’m continuing to look through Google’s Android SDK.  Even though I’ve been programming in Java for a while now (though I definitely consider myself far from expert), the structure of how Android applications work is still kind of cryptic to me.  And, unfortunately, the OS is still so new that there aren’t many learning resources for it, especially for game development and graphics, which are my areas of interest.  If you want to develop games, you’re pretty much on your own.  Google does provide some source code for some very small sample programs, but you kind of have to figure out how they work on your own.  For example, Google says:

Writing a summary of how to actually write 3D applications using OpenGL is beyond the scope of this text and is left as an exercise for the reader.

I’m sure Java / game / graphics programming experts would have an easier time understanding how it all works by just studying the sample source code, but it will take some extra work for me.

Anyway, I’ve been looking more and more at the new Droid phone coming out, and I’ve been thinking that I’ll be needing some sort of phone with Android on it to test any potential apps I might create, so I’m very tempted to get one.  Like, very very tempted.  Like, I probably will.  For, you know, game development research, of course.

By the way, I like what it says at the bottom of the Droid site:

DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies.  Used under license.

Where would the world be if Star Wars had been a flop?  We might not have this phone!

No NaNo and other stuff instead

I guess NaNoWriMo has officially started!  And … I don’t care.  I’ve once again changed my mind, and will probably not participate this year.  I have a bunch of other stuff I want to do, including finishing my album that I’ve been working on for over a year now.  I’m still about 10 minutes of music away from completing the thing.  I’m currently working on the last section of an unnamed orchestral piece.  I’m orchestrating / composing the climax and end, so it’s almost done.  Then I have four other pieces started that need finishing, though I don’t believe all of them will make it onto the album.  One will probably be called “The Journey Ahead” and I am fairly sure that it will indeed appear on the album as I think it really fits with the spirit of the other pieces.  And one will probably be called “Castle Sky” … that’s my long 15-minute orchestral piece (and still unfinished, but I don’t think it will be much longer).

Oh, I started a new project, one that I know I’ll finish eventually because it requires hardly any work at all from me.  I call it: The Mozart Listening Project.  The objective: to listen to the complete works of Mozart while following along with the scores.  As you can see on the side, I made a page about it.  Because it is just so important.  I just started working through his symphonies.  Got a long way to go.

Android Lastly, I was chatting on a music forum on Friday, and someone mentioned the new Verizon phone coming out called Droid, which will compete with the iPhone (though, of course, that’s some very tough competition).  Looking at the Droid rekindled my interest in creating an app.  It was something I looked into in college, when Google’s Android OS first came out, but somehow lost interest.  (And as far as I can tell, one must have a Mac to use the iPhone SDK, so I don’t think I’ll be trying to develop for the iPhone anytime soon … though, from a business perspective, that’s currently where most of the phone app market is, methinks.)

Anyway, I’m downloading the newest Android SDK and will perhaps try creating something with it.  Having long been interested in game development, two things excite me about the phone app market: 1) It’s rather new, and is still at a stage where a single developer can develop a sellable app by himself.  In most of the video game industry (except perhaps online Flash games), those days are long gone, never to return.  And perhaps one day the phone app industry will be like that too, but it isn’t now.  And 2) it can be very lucrative.  Actually, I’m not sure how lucrative it is.  I’ve heard that some iPhone apps are making millions.  But that’s only a very select few out of tens of thousands, so I suppose it’s like saying that the music industry can be very lucrative.  Well, yes, it can be, but only few a very select few.  Still, I’m guessing the phone app industry is more lucrative than the indie artist industry.  Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s even less lucrative for non-iPhone developers at this time, but who know?  With Google’s more open platform, Android or some similar OS might come to dominate the phone industry, just like Windows now dominate Macs, despite Apple’s oh-so-witty ads.  In fact, I predict that will happen in the next decade or so … Apple may still dominate the iTunes / iPod industry, but the iPhone might meet its demise with a collection of other phones that run the same OS and are thus compatible with the same programs…

And… I guess that’s all I have to say.