Meme: ITG and comprehensive camera stats

It seems that 8 will be moving to the bay area at some point in the near future. This makes me sadder than it should. Meh.

As for meme topics, we have ITG. Which I’m actually not quite sure what to say about.

The first time I played DDR was in a Gameworks in Arizona Mills, probably in middle school or so. I didn’t know what I was doing and stepped on the arrows pretty much as they came on screen. Then I added another player after the first song (which that machine apparently let you do), wasting some money because player 2 only got two songs instead of three.

I think I started being interested in it in high school, when we went to a Fry’s Electronics and they had the PS version of DDR set up with pads. This was intriguing, and my parents bought me a PSOne, DDR, and two mats with the promise that I would play it for exercise fairly often. (Of course, this didn’t really happen. I was such a horrible kid. :P)

My first real experience with the arcade machine (and hard pads) then was in college when I came to CMU and discovered the DDR machine in Scotland Yard my freshman year. From photos, it seems the ITG machine appeared around December 2005. I remember the brief period of time when the machines existed side-by-side, and I remember being annoyed at the “elite” ITG players who wouldn’t alternate with DDR players (like myself) since you couldn’t play both machines at once (the music got mixed up and way too confusing and threw everyone off).

I think I really got into ITG the summer I had the PLSC internship in Pittsburgh (2006). I played with 8 at least once a week every week that summer, and managed to progress up to 10s. (I think the desire to avoid my room and my horrible roommate at the time had a lot to do with this.) I’ve pretty much been playing since then, although my general interest in it seems to have lowered somewhat.

At this point, I’ve stopped trying to improve on song difficulty, and have mostly resigned myself to playing casually in the 9-11 range. I also really, really like marathons and mods, so I’ll do that a lot. But the ITG machine at CMU has been having issues lately, and the stupid company in charge of it keeps screwing it up, so I don’t know if it’s really something I’ll continue doing regularly.

Also, wow… I’m making a lot of posts this month. This is weird.

I now have 296,595 tagged photos in Photoshop organizer. I think we’ll break 300k by the end of August. Or maybe not, because I’ve been taking fewer photos lately. We shall see.

I went through and tried to find the first and last photos taken by each camera. Photoshop organizer doesn’t let you sort by filename, and I have way too many files to do EXIF data searches, so some of this may be off by a few. (In particular, finding the “last” photo my Intel camera took is a pain because it still works, and I was using it for its portability even though high school even when I had gotten the Kodak camera. And it didn’t even record any EXIF data, and you can’t do a “negative” search in organizer. So blah.)

And it turns out the photos aren’t all that interesting anyway. So here’s just the dates of each camera’s first and last photo.

Intel Pocket PC camera October 6, 2000 September 18, 2003 1077 days; 2.95 years
Olympus C3000 Zoom September 28, 2001 December 5, 2003 798 days; 2.186 years
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 December 8, 2003 March 17, 2006 830 days; 2.274 years
Nikon D50 March 22, 2006 November 15, 2009 1334 days; 3.655 years
Samsung SL30 July 27, 2009 Current (last July 20, 2012) 1089 days; 2.98 years so far
Nikon D90 February 26, 2010 Current (last July 25, 2012) 880 days; 2.411 years so far

Getting numbers for how many photos each camera shot would also be interesting, but not easy to do.

Edit: Searching by filename and using the power of maths should give reasonable estimates of total photos. Therefore:

Intel Pocket PC camera 15,829 photos $200 14.7 photos per day 1.26¢ per photo
Olympus C3000 Zoom 10,647 photos $450 13.3 photos per day 4.23¢ per photo
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 49,413 photos $500 59.5 photos per day 1.01¢ per photo
Nikon D50 105,067 photos $570 (+$250 repair cost) 78.8 photos per day 0.54¢ per photo (0.78¢ per photo including repair cost)
Samsung SL30 18,571 photos $70 17 photos per day 0.38¢ per photo (so far)
Nikon D90 97,068 photos $780 110.3 photos per day 0.80¢ per photo (so far)

Cost estimates don’t include charges for accessories (extra batteries and lenses in the Nikon case), electricity, or memory cards.

Meme: Photography and Pokemon

Before I forget, I should wish Greg a very happy birthday. Yay birthday.

I’ll never forget my first trading card game and my first trade. Back in May 1999, I went with a friend (Jim) to a GameStop. He picked up some boosters and I bought a starter deck plus two booster packs of the Pokemon card game. Opening the packs yielded a holographic Raichu and a Clefairy Doll for the rares. (Of course, I had no idea about rarities at the time, since I had never touched or seen a trading card game before.) This was also at the same time as a Pokemon card game promotional thing or something, because I also had my picture taken with a giant Pikachu card (for me to take home on a floppy disc!).

Jim and I sat down at one of the provided tables to play a game, and I lamented about how I couldn’t play the Raichu because I didn’t have a Pikachu card to evolve it from. One of the younger kids playing nearby apparently overheard and offered to trade me one. He looked through my small stack of cards and asked for the Clefairy Doll. Upon Jim’s advice, I made the trade of my rare for a common. (“That thing only had 10 HP, and the Pikachu has 40 HP. You got a great deal.”)

Fortunately, several years later when we had both learned what rarities (and rarity symbols) were, he traded me a Clefairy Doll for a Pikachu, and all was well. Yay noobness.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about here. Continuing with meme topics from Jess (after quite a hiatus), we have photography.

Photography is one of those things I enjoy doing, and have periods off and on of wanting to do professionally (or, at least, with more dedication that I do now). My first digital camera was a Intel Pocket PC Camera (retailing for $199 at the time) when I was in middle school (late 2000).
My parents were redoing the front yard at the time (removing the palm trees and grass and replacing them with rocks and gravel), and promised me a digital camera if I helped. Of course, being the horrible child I was, I managed to get the camera first, and then proceeded to do nothing to help (except take photos of my parents working on the front yard, which are some of the first digital photos I ever took).

The camera took photos at an amazing 640×480 resolution, more than enough for anyone, and came with an option to switch to 320×240 resolution in case you needed to take more photos (since there weren’t memory card options).

This camera satisfied me only about a year. I got my next camera, a Olympus C3000, my first year of high school (2001). It took amazing (for the time) resolution photos, and had a flash, and was the best thing ever. I actually still have the camera, and it still works, even though the drivers no longer work in Windows XP (or 7) and there is no card reader that can read the SmartMedia cards it takes.

That camera lasted only a couple years (2003), when it started to have issues with exposure metering. (Photos were coming out completely black every so often.) It was quickly replaced with a Kodak Easyshare DX6490 with its amazing 10x optical zoom and even better resolution. Naive me referred to the three steps as a “casual” camera, a “semi-professional” camera, and a “professional” camera. Upon reflection now, it seems horribly stupid of me to think that a point-and-shoot that didn’t even have full manual control could be considered “professional” by any means.

In any case, the Kodak lasted until my Sophomore year of college (2006), when it proceeded to die in a series of unrecoverable errors (the last photos it took were at the fondue party at Wes’ house). It was replaced a week later with a Nikon D50 (with its kit 28-80mm lens) that I shot for the following 3 years (including a series of repairs by a horrible company that didn’t fix it right the first time).

The D50, in turn, was replaced by my current Nikon D90 (in February 2010) after it died in November 1999, which still seems to be in great condition. Overlapping the two is my Samsung SL30, which is a crappy $80 point-and-shoot I picked up just to have an “easy to carry” camera.

So I seem to be in the habit of going through cameras every 2-3 years. This, I suppose, is somewhat expected given how much I abuse and use them (my D50 had over 100,000 shutter releases when it died completely, via the mirror refusing to flip).
There’s a summary of my cameras, which is accurate minus the D90, here.

As for photography in general, I find it to be a good hobby, a good way to remember my life, and a good way to remove some level of awkwardness at large gatherings (using my camera as a shield, which I have previously written about). I don’t think I’m particularly good at it… I just take thousands of photos, which means I’m bound to get one or two good ones out. Most of my shooting is casual snapshots… I used to do more studio shooting when I had access, but in retrospect find the setting too boring and limiting.

I suppose the good thing about taking so many photos all the time is that I often manage to get candid shots of people that you wouldn’t otherwise get. People are so used to me having a camera all the time (and taking their picture all the time) that they’ve stopped noticing. As a photographer, that’s one of the best places to be.

Anyway, photo meme = moar photo. Here’s Chris with the awesome pillows I got from Thailand.

I don’t know what else to write about photography. If you have anything specific you’re curious about, feel free to ask.

Food, Kickstarter, cards, and thou (but not really)

Life goes. Yay life.

I’ve started cooking again, which I think is a sign that I am generally happier. This is a good thing. Here’s a couple of the things I’ve made in the past few days (when I, unfortunately, neglected to get pictures of any of it). I’m still using organic and local ingredients when possible, so I made it all with organic chicken, organic eggs, organic carrots, and locally-grown zucchini. I feel like I’m eating better that way. Yay.

Chicken “Parmesean”

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 egg
1c breadcrumbs
1/2 jar pasta sauce
1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti
4 slices of cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar)

Dip chicken breasts in egg, then liberally coat with breadcrumbs. Brown both sides in a skillet over medium heat. Move to a baking pan, top with a little sauce (not enough to even cover each piece) and place cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve over spaghetti with remaining sauce.

Chicken and rice and veggies

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 package frozen mixed vegetables
1c dry rice
1/2 zucchini, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
Spices to taste (I used an Indian Curry blend from Giant Eagle)

Cover chicken in spices and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Add frozen vegetables to rice with 2c water. (You can also add some herbs and it comes out very tasty.) Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for ~20 minutes until done.
Put carrots and zucchini in a bowl, add a little water, cover, and microwave for 4 minutes on high.
Serve chicken with rice and vegetables.

They’re both really low effort to make (throw stuff together and surf the web while it all cooks) and are much healthier than eating out due to lack of added oil, salt, and sugar.

In other, non-food news, I have been exploring the awesomeness that is Kickstarter recently. I’ve already pledged to three board games (all of which succeeded), and am contemplating pledging a fourth.

  • Ground Floor looks kind of like Puerto Rico, except it has elements of placement like Agricola, which are two of my favorite games. It also looks like it has a good theme.
  • My Happy Farm is a *lot* of fun, and I’m sad it didn’t get more support. I already received and played the print-and-play version, and it’s a very cute, very entertaining game that is a good time-filler while you’re waiting for people to show up or finish other games.
  • Pixel Lincoln looks like a very interesting deck-building game. I tend to like deck-building games (Dominion is good, Rune Age is better, and Ascension is… interesting), and this looks like a very interesting twist on one.
  • Currently looking at Flash Point, which Greg has apparently played at Yubin’s before, and which has excellent reviews online. Still I don’t particularly need to spend another $65. We will see. The only cooperative board game I’ve played previously is Pandemic, and I find that to be a little too fiddly.

Each game also comes with a lot of awesome extras (like Ground Floor coming with an entire extra game, or Pixel Lincoln coming with a bunch of extra cards), which makes supporting through Kickstarter more than worthwhile.

Also been starting up on People Wars again, after a hiatus following Carnival (and the last expansion). I always like working on my card games, and always find it interesting to look back at my card game history and seeing how they’ve evolved.
In particular, since People Wars represents the fifth iteration of the same basic game, it’s interesting to see how it’s been refined over the years (8 years now!), and to look at how certain things have worked (dual characters, storage cards, working on GPA/tasks) and other things haven’t (trigger text, group nodes, division of characters into primary affiliations).
I suppose it’s kind of sad, but I still consider the PPA TCG/Student Wars/People Wars game series to be one of my most fulfilling accomplishments. Sometimes I wish I had the skill (or luck?) to work on card games as a career, but I also enjoy my current job, and my current job probably pays the bills far better. (Likewise with photography, although I haven’t felt urges to do that professionally for a while.)

So yeah. This post has gotten far too long and contains far too many words. Have a picture of My Happy Farm

and a card from the upcoming People Wars expansion

Ohio walk failure

Mission “Walk to Ohio” was a failure. I skipped out at the 26 mile mark (just past Midway, which is a suitable name) and came home. I probably could have made it to dinner (another ~5 miles) and maybe West Virginia (another ~6 miles after that), but a car was being called for some other people anyway, and the decision at that point was either heading back or finishing the entire 45 miles, which I didn’t feel like I could do. (Route here.)

I think having done the West Virginia portion before made me less inclined to push myself, which in retrospect was the right decision. Final count is five blisters and one (still) red sore spot, which means continuing onward for another 11 miles would not have been smart.

For self reference, in the (likely) event that I attempt such a walk next year, shoes are hugely important. The pair I wore today I had only worn once before, and for less than three miles. I found that the tops pinch my foot too much, causing pain starting even before mile 10. Wearing my old pair of boots would have been a better idea, since they have more top padding. Also, I need to buy medical tape or similar to bind my toes before starting. My feet and toes are kind of weirdly bent, so the way I walk causes lots of rubbing of toes together and of toes and sock. Protecting them beforehand would have helped greatly.

Still, I think it was a good experience. Photos will be posted at some point.

Greg, Keith, and David are still going and hoping to hit Ohio around midnight. Best of luck to them.

Edit: Photos have been posted here.

Edit edit: Ohio group made it to Ohio and back safely. Huzzah!

Edit edit edit: Greg has a much more comprehensive writeup here. Yay for anti-aliasing weeds! :D