I bought a Snapple lemonade and a slice of pizza from Chicago's for lunch a little bit ago. Now, let me tell you, that lemonade was everything that I had dreamed about, quite honestly.
I'm at some zoo with a bunch of people from my high school. Now, mind you, these are not my friends from high school or anything, just a bunch of the other people. So we do the whole zoo thing and on the way out I realize that I'm really thirsty so I make a bee line for the little refreshments stand at the entrance to the zoo. I notice a few people stopping at water fountains as I pass them. In my hurry I manage to make it to the entrance before everyone else. Noticing that they have a mini Dunkin' Donuts I order me a nice fruit flavored Coolata and wait while it's prepared. It turns out that the machine is broken and at this point the lead I got on everyone is lost and they're all back at the bus waiting for me. Aggravated as I am, I'm still thirsty so I order a large lemonade, which is $2.32. I pay for the lemonade with two ones, a quarter, a nickel and two pennies. Now the damned lady won't serve me my lemonade, she just makes me wait and wait and wait. Everyone is probably getting pissed because I'm making them wait and for the love of God, why won't she just serve me my lemonade. Then I woke up.
So I got up, took a shower and then realized that I really did want a fucking Coolata. The problem of course was that I didn't really want to bother walking to Dunkin' Donuts up in Central Square so I decided to just go to soda fridge and get me a Minute Maid Fruit Soda. Then, soda fridge was out of Fruit Sodas. At this point, I was more than just a little aggravated, I was really fucking pissed off. Finally, I went to munchies and bought some citrus flavored Sobe drink, which managed to serve as a mediocre alternative.
So that's my morning thus far, and quite frankly, I am really aggravated right now.
My dormitory, Random Hall, has this incredible knack for always being too hot. It doesn't matter what time of year, it doesn't matter what kind of weather, Random is just too hot. Now, with a track record like that in place, why am I wandering around inside, wearing a fleece and gloves, yet still being cold. What has happened here?
0°F with a wind chill of -17°F is just not something that I'm used to. Normally I'm a pretty cold tolerant person too, but for some reason I haven't been taking to it as kindly as usual. And why is there no snow. I want a blizzard; spend some more time vacationing in the B-Lizard Lounge, sipping on a tropical drink and doing some hot Latin dancing.
So, I was bored and looking for information on the new Xbox Ninja Gaiden game that's coming out next month and I decided to see what Gamespot's top games are so I pulled up their search thing and searched for all games with ratings between 10 and 10. And there, lo and behold, was Soul Calibur, one of only 4 games to ever get a rating of 10.0 on Gamespot. Yeah, I know that I'm a colossal dork, but in my defense, I really like Soul Calibur.
Muth and I are working on this 6.270 robot of ours and getting good results. Mind you we're not working on our competition robot yet, just one to complete the various assignments for the class before we can start working on our real robot. This being totally unimportant quality-wise, we've been shooting for just enough effort to get things checked off and move on. Assignment 3 was due yesterday and Assignment 4 today; these are the only assignments that involve our pre-competition robot.
Assignment 3 involved building a robot that can go forward, backward, turn counter-clockwise and respond to a bump sensor. Yesterday we spent 2 hours building a robot that satisfied the requirements for Assignment 3 and most of the time was spent debugging code only to find out that I had forgotten how to tell the difference between left and right. Having finished, we walked into lab and were checked off in about 10 minutes.
Assignment 4 is where the story gets fun. Assignment 4 was to make your robot chase after an IR Beacon. We start out today with some modifications to our robot from yesterday, namely mounting the IR Beacon and figuring out how to make it work (which is pretty hard because it's supposed to be connected to the expansion board, which we aren't using). So we ended up putting about 1.5 hours of work into the thing (of which a portion was taken up by my making and eating some macaroni and cheese). We didn't test the robot before going into lab and my expectation was that it would be sufficient, but barely so, to pass checkoff. So we go in to lab and I'm thinking that I should probably test the IR recognition capabilities of the robot before we ask to be checked off (don't want to waste TA time after all), but then I figure that I don't really care and it should work so I don't bother. We're standing there waiting to get our hands on another IR Beacon so that we can try our robot and in the meanwhile we watch a number of other teams make robots that sit there and twitch a bit, maybe twitching generally towards the IR Beacon and so on. We get tired of waiting so we ask if we can just get checked off then (without bothering to test) and our robot races after the Beacon so fast that the guy can't get away from it fast enough. The thing is flawless, and the TA made the remark that, "That's the way it's supposed to work." So basically, with a total of maybe 3.5 hours of work Muth and I have managed to make one of the best robots for Assignment 4.
Muth and I pwnz
So, I'm sitting here watching Mr. Tickles do his thing and it occurs to me that fish make for extremely good pets in college. The best thing about fish is the ease of taking care of them. I feed my fish two or three times a day and then every few weeks I have to change some of the water or change the filter. Compare what I have to do to what someone with a dog, cat or rodent has to do. A cat owner has to change the kitty litter frequently, feed the cat, train the cat to use the kitty litter and make sure that the cat never manages to get away. The owner of a dog has to house train it, take it for walks, pay attention to it and so on. Rodents are much closer to fish as far as attention needed to keep them alive, except that their cages need to be cleaned more thoroughly and more frequently.
There is, however, one slight problem with fish, notably, it's harder to get a fish that's interesting and has some personality than most other types of animal. The solution to this problem is found in one of two ways: selecting your fish very carefully or getting lucky; I managed to latter. So, as might have been inferred from the beginning of the previous paragraph, Mr. Tickles is my fish. Tickles (as I refer to him when I don't want to bother with many syllable) is a Tiger Oscar (Astronotus Ocellatus), of the family Cichlidae (the cichlids). The noteworthy thing about Oscars is that they're large aggressive fish. Right now, Tickles is about 6"-8" and will grow to about 10"-15" eventually. His personality would be hard to classify as he's got quite a bit of it for a fish (I got lucky), but suffice it to say that he's a rather fun character and I've really taken to him.
That Tickles is aggressive and big means some amusing things in the future. Supposedly, his breed of fish will not only eat most things (living or otherwise) but will also eat creatures up to slightly larger than himself. This of course will be great when I get off my lazy ass and hunt down some other fish for him to eat. I would have done so before, but difficulty arises in that many fish carry dangerous parasites and the feeder fish at the local PetCo™ carry fatal ones to oscars. He does eat sushi, leftover Chinese, hot dogs and all sorts of other such things.
All in all, I'm quite fond of Tickles and very glad that I got him.
Oh yeah, this one time he bit Kurt; that was funny.
So, there's this irritating little thing about my personal web page, namely, the internet (google and MIT's search service) see fit to index it as being at ozone-beast.mit.edu and not as the preferred gwax based domain. Needless to say, it irritates me to have a domain name and then have search service ignore it, so I've gone and used php to tack on a little note at the top if anyone tries to access it without using a gwax domain name. Try visiting it via ozone-beast if you want to see the note, or don't bother if you don't care.
While, I'm on the subject of ozone-beast, let me just say how much I love that machine. Mind you, ozone-beast isn't a very good computer, but it's massive and awesome. Ozone-beast is a dual Pentium something-or-other, with a few hundred megs of RAM and 16GB of RAID5. I've failed to put a number of different OSes on the beast including Windows 2k, Debian and some others, but have managed to get NT4 working fine. Ozone-beast runs all of my DNS and my personal web server.
Ozone-beast might sound like a funny name, but it's got perfectly reasonable roots. When I first got the thing it pumped out gobs of ozone and made a terrible amount of noise. It's a beast and it makes ozone, hence ozone-beast. Now it doesn't pump out nearly so much ozone (I suspect that the fans were the cause of that), but it certainly makes just as much noise. I usually have a love-hate relationship with most of my computers, but not ozone-beast, there's no hate there.
Ooh, I almost forgot, it's got wheels too.
Update for posterity: Ozone Beast was a Dell PowerEdge 4100.
So, I'm doing this here 6.270 - Autonomous Robot Design Competition as my thing this IAP. To sum it up in a brief little chunk, basically, a lot of people make some robots out of Lego and control them using these Handyboard things, which are just fancy little control boards that let you make simple robots. All of the robots (60 teams worth) will then be pitted against each other in a set of qualifying rounds and then a big double elimination competition.
Now, that the cursory explanation for those out of the loop is done, some other details. My team consists of myself and that Muth kid. Muth's a good kid; I like him and I think that we'll manage to do pretty damned well with this competition thing. We've already figured out our strategy for trying to win and it seems pretty solid and more importantly, simple. Since we've got a good hold on what we're going to be doing and how we're going to do it, we've taken up being a bit arrogant, but I think that it's not totally unfounded. Following are some of the amusing things that exemplify this arrogance:
- Planning to be done 1-2 weeks before the competition
- Planning to sit around while everyone is frantically trying to make theirs work when the deadline is upon them
- Fielding a placebo robot for qualifiers
- Naming our robot "# Awesome", where # is the number of points that we will be earning in every round.
- Not using the extra batteries
- Not using the expansion board
Anyway, the list continues, but the basic point is that we think that we've got this competition in the bag and we're going to be jackasses about it. It will be pretty damned fun to be better than the rest of MIT and lord it over them. Admittedly, if we fuck up, then we're just a pair of idiot jerks, but I don't think that's going to happen.
Last night a friend informed me of a revolutionary new computer role-playing game, Progress Quest. The really interesting bit is that it seems to be very rather unlike any other such game that I've ever seen. The primary difference is that it is, what's best referred to as, a fire-and-forget role-playing game. Besides the fire-and-forget bit, which I will get into in a momentarily, the game plays like other such games (Diablo, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, etc.), except in that it's a little lacking on the visuals. It even includes net-play for those that prefer to have companions.
The game runs under Windows and there don't seem to be any ports to other platforms. The system requirements are incredibly minimal, requiring about 6MB or RAM and using an average of 0%-1% of my CPU.
So, about the fire-and-forget bit; you start out the game, just the same as you would start any other computer (and many non-computer) role-playing games, by rolling up a character, selecting a race and selecting a class. The character creation system informs you of the fact that the games atmosphere is not a terribly serious one, but humor does not a bad game make. The interesting bit comes in after you have made your character and begin play. The controls and interface are fairly simple; the interface is a standard, fairly detailed character sheet and there are no controls. No controls, you might ask, well then how do I play and develop my character? The answer to that is simple; it's a fire-and-forget role-playing game, so your character will do all the work for you. Your character will run around adventuring, killing random monsters and making progress on his quests. This might strike you as a bit odd at first, but give it a little time and you'll find that it really grows on you (and not like a fungus or a tumor).
I strongly recommend that you take look at it; it's quite a lot of fun. And if you find yourself playing online, feel free to look me up, I go as "Contrad the 70th" and I play in the realm of Oobog. Contrad the 70th, named after a brand laboratory soap produced by Decon Labs, is of the Land Squid race and a member of the Bastard Lunatic class. As of this post, Contrad is level 13 and I hope to play enough to get him to a significantly higher level; after all, it is IAP and I will have plenty of time on my hands.
Well, I've finally gone and sold out (again). Here's my new blog. As of right now it's pretty much a work in progress, so we'll see where it gets to from here. Heck I might even abandon it if I'm not sufficiently amused. But all that is, as we say, in the future.