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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in John Evans' LiveJournal:

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Sunday, July 4th, 2010
3:31 am
Away for a week
So, midomi and I are going down to Oklahoma to visit her family. We'll be coming back late Thursday/early Friday. This should probably be fun. Well, we'll see. ;) Take care, all!

Current Mood: rushed
Friday, April 30th, 2010
9:28 pm
Saturday, April 24th, 2010
3:06 am
If your feelings get hurt, it doesn't mean you're weak
So there was this Japanese guy...I must admit I don't really know who he is, but someone retweeted something he said on Twitter, and it all got me thinking.  Here's what he said:

Remember that no one can hurt your feelings without your cooperation and willingness.

Of course, this is completely false.

The truth is that humans are social animals.  A significant portion of the human brain is dedicated to decoding and reacting to social signals.  If someone deliberately tries to hurt your feelings, you can't help but react to it.  It's how you're designed.

"Tetsuya K" seems to be advocating an "independent superman" state.  A person in this state would disregard all aspersions cast upon them.  It's a seductive idea, because we know that any time we espouse a view or take a stand on something, there are always people willing to argue with us and denigrate us.  We all would like the ability to ignore insults.  But this goes against our basic nature.  Some people might even take Tetsuya's view farther and say that people who allow their feelings to hurt are weak.  This is just not true.

Now, I'm not saying we should allow anyone and everyone to influence our actions.  I'm saying we should accept hurt feelings as a part of our human existence.  We're all created as social beings, and it's pointless to deny that.  By accepting that we can feel hurt feelings, that will let us work through them.  Having hurt feelings doesn't mean you're weak.  Once you accept that, then you can work on moving past those feelings and making sure they don't prevent you from doing what you really need.

Of course, there are people who are able to withstand any sort of guilt or hurt feelings; the common term for such a state is psychopathy.

Current Mood: frustrated
Monday, March 29th, 2010
11:45 pm
A year
Yesterday marked one year of midomi living with me. We've gone through good times and bad times, and we haven't driven each other crazy yet! Seems like we may be together for a while.

I love you, Mids. <3

Current Mood: loved
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
2:16 pm
Right-wing conspiracies—Or not
Anti-Gay Lawmaker At Gay Club Before DUI Arrest

One might look at the parade of conservatives involved in sex scandals and see a pattern. One might speculate that homosexual activists have been infiltrating conservative politics and then getting caught in the most hypocritical of situations, in order to discredit the oppression of gays. It would be a subtle erosion of the public trust in conservative politicians.

However, there's an adage often known as Hanlon's razor, which reads "Never attribute to malice that which may be adequately explained by stupidity". In other words, mistakes are more common than conspiracies.

The most rational conclusion is that there's no connection between, say, Ed Schrock and Roy Ashburn. Or perhaps the only connection is that of similar circumstances; Perhaps it's all a question of trying to suppress guilt about sexual desires. So no connection, no a priori plan...but very similar outcomes.

At some point, however, credulity starts to stretch. Do these people not learn from each other's mistakes? Did they really think they could all get away with it?

Are they all that stupid?

Current Mood: confused
Sunday, January 31st, 2010
3:19 pm
Fragment of a horrible dream
Recently I've been playing Echo Bazaar. It's a neat web-based game with a very evocative setting; in summary, Victorian London is dragged to Hell. (It also uses Twitter OAuth authentication, so you need a Twitter account to play...I think.)

Anyway, last night I had a dream where I was reading this text (as well as exploring the area mentioned). It was surprising how complete the text was in my dream (not FULLY complete, but the important parts were there). I feel like I was reading this from some alternate version of Echo Bazaar...some version featuring, not London, but a certain city with an island nearby.


One might wonder how several thousand people on an island with so few routes on or off. Food is provided by Hunger's blessing, in a swarm of black bees that bring forth an endless supply of honey. Chefs of the island, such as they are, most famously use black pepper to break up the monotony. There are rumors that the honey has subtle side effects on the mind and soul; the terms "sweet tooth" and "heavy eater" have a particular meaning on the Island.

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, January 9th, 2010
2:22 pm
Life Updates
So, my girlfriend midomi had her gallbladder removed recently. For the past week or so I've been hanging out at the hospital with her. But Thursday she came back home to recover! Everything's going exactly how the doctors expected, so that's good. Also, we suspect that the pains she was having every now and then before were due to her gallbladder, so she probably won't be having any of those again!

I've been too freaked out to work on any projects or anything, but I should probably get myself to start up with those again...

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, December 31st, 2009
6:27 pm
Happy New Year!
Like many people, I've recently been reflecting on the end of the year. So, what did 2009 mean to me?

Most importantly, my girlfriend Mids (midomi) moved in with me, back in March. It turns out we get along quite well...I'm more happy than I believed I could be. I love you, Mids. <3

But there were some other things that I did in 2009, some more significant than others...

Twitter and Facebook.

Learning to program Facebook games.

Starting a business.

Designing online game experiences.

Playing Dwarf Fortress.

Some of these things worked out better than others. And some still have possibilities...Well, we'll see what 2010 holds!

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, December 18th, 2009
5:29 pm
I'm a published game writer!...sort of
So, there's this game called Legends of Zork. Produced by Jolt Online, it's a web-based game situated in the Zork world, with locations and artwork that evoke the Zork universe.

Recently Jolt had something called The Best Quest Contest. In summary, they solicited "quest" writeups from the playerbase and judged to see which were worthy of inclusion in the game. (In LoZ, a "quest" is a series of text scenes which include a few little puzzles.)

Long story short, I won! That is, my quest, "The DEAD Walk!" tied for second place. Today it was implemented in the game, so you can go forth and solve it! (If you're at least level 25, of course...)

So, now my writing is part of an officially published game! Not only that, it's part of the grand Zork legacy. :D

Current Mood: accomplished
5:03 pm
Secrets of the Dieting Sages
Well, earlier this week I think I ate something bad.

I don't want to get too gross, here, but...Collapse )

Current Mood: cynical
Friday, November 27th, 2009
8:16 pm
The Problem With Pipes
I've been playing around with Yahoo Pipes recently. This has mostly been in the realm of seeing what it can do; I haven't found a really good use for it yet—at least not something that I am impressed by. But then, I don't work with feeds very often, so maybe I'm not the "intended audience". There's nothing wrong with that.

There is one interesting thing I've noticed, however. Pipes has a few obvious deficiencies in its language. The most obvious one is that it's impossible (or at least very awkward, more on that later) to extract text from items. "text" and "items" are two of the Pipes data types, representing a text string and a group of feed entries, respectively.

Here's an example to show what I mean. Let's say you have a feed with a certain number of items, and you want to choose one specific item from it. This is not too difficult; I've already written a pipe to choose one item from a feed. This pipe takes two inputs: a URL and a number. It uses Fetch Site Feed to get the feed from the URL, and it uses some math and filters to get only the specified item. Simple!

The Example That Doesn't Work

But let's think of a slightly different example. Let's say that you want to choose a specific item from a feed, but which item is given by a different webpage. Like you have a webpage that displays nothing but the number "3", and that means you want the third item from the feed. But you don't know the number until run-time; it could be 3, or 4, or 1600, or anything. You want the pipe to query the webpage to find out which entry to get from the feed. This turns out to be difficult.

The problem is that while you can get the webpage data with Fetch Page—or Fetch Data, or even Fetch CSV if you want—those modules don't return "number", they return "items". The math and filter modules need a "number" parameter to do their thing. "items" is a collection of data entries; it can't be used as a string, even if there's only one.

How to Solve the Problem

First, I should note that one part of this problem is not actually a problem. Pipes will convert strings into numbers. You can create a String Input containing "3", and can be hooked into a "number" input that will then be set to 3. So, the problem isn't converting the text; the problem is getting it out of the "items" type.

I propose a new module, perhaps called String Extractor. In its simplest form, it would take in "items" and return "text" representing the default content of the first entry in the feed. If we wanted to get more fancy, we could add a "number" parameter to denote which entry to extract, and also perhaps a field to choose which element of the entry gets extracted (like Rename or Regex lets you choose).

I believe this module would be simple to implement, and while I don't know much about the implementation, I have a good reason to believe this wouldn't be too hard.

The Workaround

The truth is, it's already possible to create a pipe that performs this function, using a "trick" that some Pipes developers have come up with. It actually involves creating two pipes.

1. First create a pipe that chooses a specific item from a feed. That was my first example, above.

2. Make a second pipe that fetches a number from a page. Process it until you have a feed with one item, containing the number.

3. Bring in a Loop module and place the first pipe inside it as a sub-pipe. Hook the number-feed up to the Loop module's input. Set the sub-pipe's number input to be "item.content".

The way this works is that "for every item in the input feed", the sub-pipe will be run on it and the content field will be used as the sub-pipe's parameter. Of course, there's only one item in the input feed, and it contains the specified number, so the loop is run once to choose the item from the feed.

Why a New Module?

Some might ask why we should be able to do this with Pipes at all. The new module would allow all sorts of facilities for interesting data filtering; much more like programming than simply mashing feeds together. I think this would be well worth it. And it's obvious that the Pipes developers want this functionality, because a lot of them talk about it and know about this "trick" on the Pipes discussion forums.

So, some might also ask why a new module is needed if we can already perform this function. The answer is that the current way is completely awkward; that makes it hard for new Pipes developers to figure out. Maybe some of them have already been discouraged. Also, because this method requires a sub-pipe, it inflates the number of pipes.

And because the functionality of the module I'm proposing is already part of theLoop module, it's certain to be easy to implement.

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, November 20th, 2009
11:20 pm
I'm rereading my copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Master DM's Book (the 1985 edition). It has a list of "artifacts" the players may come across, and near the end is a list of ideas from legendry that might be developed into other artifacts. There's a whole list of swords: Balmung, Durandan, Excalibur, Flamberge, Gram, Joyeuse...


Wait a minute. Something about this list seems familiar...

Current Mood: contemplative
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
10:13 pm
Telemarketing Fail
So I got two voicemail messages. The first says something about giving me a loan, "Don't be alarmed, these are not new charges and you do not have to pay anything", and it tries to entice me into calling their number. Fine, whatever, I don't care.

The second one, however, has a woman who says "Looking over your paperwork, I think we can lower your interest rate and get you out of debt a lot sooner".

The first amazing thing here is that I'm not in debt. They just call random numbers to see if they can get people in debt. Damn, it's like telemarketer wardialing! There's also an element of social engineering: "We have your paperwork. We know you're in debt." Of course, since I'm not, the whole thing is exposed as a lie.

The second amazing thing is that these are voicemails, and the first few seconds are cut off. This makes it obvious that these are recordings. Someone dials a number and—no, scratch that, a machine dials a number and plays a message to it. The sheer audacity of this is mind-boggling.


Current Mood: annoyed
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
1:44 pm
WHAT THE HELL? I made this huge post and it VANISHED. I submitted the form and the text was just NOT THERE.

Note to self: Never, EVER write ANYTHING of substance in a web form. ALWAYS write it offline.
1:15 pm
Musical Tastes

Current Mood: contemplative
Monday, September 28th, 2009
8:53 pm
Games and politics
It turns out that one of the main guys behind Stardock watches and supports Fox Newsis supporting "fair and balanced" reporting. Well...crap. Now I'll never be able to play those games again without being reminded of "fair and balanced" reporting. And I was looking forward to a new fantasy strategy game...

Well, there's always Dwarf Fortress.
Saturday, September 12th, 2009
2:14 pm
News & and a quiz
So, I haven't posted here much, but that's all right. I have a few other places around the web where I post updates.

John Evans' Facebook Page
John Evans' Twitter
Chaoseed Software
Chaos Garden - Game Design Blog

In terms of actual news: Things are going quite well. Sometime in the next month or so I'll have some news...Maybe good news, maybe disappointing, but we'll see. Until then I won't have much to say.

Beyond that, a friend of mine had one of those 'quiz' things she wanted me to do (well, I did volunteer). So, I'll write about that...but, be warned, you may be learning more about me than you wanted to know! ;)

Reply to this post by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.

Words thingCollapse )

Current Mood: busy
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
9:10 am
Scams and Plans
I keep getting voicemail about "an important business matter". I delete them. Note to scammers businesses: If you don't identify yourself, I assume you have no legitimate reason to contact me.

In completely unrelated (?) news, I remixed an old Charles Atlas advertisement. See if you can spot the difference!

full imageCollapse )

Current Mood: grumpy
Saturday, July 25th, 2009
7:57 pm
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
2:19 pm
Long Island Driving Tips
(or, How to Drive Like a Long Island Driver)

1. If you leave any space between your car and the car in front of you, this is considered an invitation for other cars to pull into your lane in front of you. If you don't wish to offer this option, follow as closely as you can to the car in front of you.

2. "No Turn On Red" signs were ruled unconstitutional and may be safely ignored.

3. Certain intersections are designed to provide obvious and careful ways to turn left across traffic, including clearly marked turn lanes, specific traffic light signals and signs saying "Left Turn Signal".

...but you don't have to use those lanes.

4. Red lights are only guidelines; if you really need to go through the intersection, you can. Even if the cars pointed at you have started to move.

5. If nobody crashed, who cares?

(this is a joke)

Current Mood: aggravated
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