B-Sides

After attending B-Sides Seattle, I’ve realized I miss working in the computer security field. I have no regrets about leaving my last security position for my current position, but I’m thinking that I should eventually move back into the security field. To keep myself sharp, I’m installing Kali Linux on a raspberry pi I have lying around. I’m also planning on banging on an install of Damn Vulnerable Linux, or a similar install.

Any suggestions on things to study/play with would be welcome!

Ironman 2016?

Amy is signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon in March with TnT. Want to help fight cancer? She’s taking donations at http://pages.teamintraining.org/wa/lavatri15/Amy15

So what am I doing this year? Well, I wasn’t planning on doing anything, since fund raising for both of us at the same time is difficult. I was thinking of trying to do the Victoria half ironman again next year, since it’ll be my turn :)

But then… I heard of an offer that if you do Victoria or Lavaman this year and increase your fund raising amount by $1000, then you can also train with the team for a full ironman! I’m really hoping they do it again next year, because I think that would not only give me enough time to get in shape enough to actually finish an Ironman, but I think I could handle the fund raising then too!

So… Ironman 2016? What do you think?

I also noticed a couple marathons this season, including one on June 13. The fund raising for it is minimal. I’m thinking of joing up for it. I’m not sure about the fund raising on top of what Amy needs to raise for her triathlon, but I’d have a little time to figure that out before I’m committed.

In the mean time, I’ve got several books to look over to think about 2016 :)

Joe Friel’s “The Triathlete’s Training Bible”
JoeFriel & Gordon Byrn’s “Going Long, Traing for Ironman-Distance Triathlons”
Gale Bernhardt’s “Training Plans for Multisport Athletes”

Important Items

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what is “important”. I’ve been thinking about work and the time I get to spend with my family. Part of this has involved reading a few interesting books, including Tim Ferris’ “The 4-Hour Work Week” and Chris Guillebeau’s “The $100 Startup”. Both are great books, Tim’s book offering more direct practical advise, such as specific questions for specific issues to help you run a business from anywhere in the world. Chris’s more generic advice for starting up a small lean company without going into debt. I’ve also been reading a lot of riskology.co, by Tyler Tervooren and listening to Tim Ferris’ Pod cast, “The Tim Ferris Show”.
I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts while at work, so I’m not always paying 100% attention, but today I was listening to the second part of an interview Tim Ferris did with Tony Robbins. During the interview, something they were discussing really caught my attention. They were talking about investments and how we are all investing. Even not making “investment” choices is choosing a type of investment. Most of us choose to invest our time for a return of money. The idea being to separate your money from your time so you can spend more of the time on things you want, since we all have a finite amount of time. Then, Tony mentioned a list of items that we SHOULD be spending our time on instead.
Body

Emotions
Relationships

Finances

Business/Career
Spiritual

How you use your time.

These really struck me as things I’ve been neglecting and should, instead, be focusing my time on. I really encourage people to listen to Tim’s interviews. The interview with Tony Robbins is about 2 hours long, but the discussions Tim has with his interviewees are always very insightful. I was going to put a list of some of the people Tim has interviewed, but… it just got too long. Check them out!
http://fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/
There are some fascinating people on there.
The best part of Tim’s podcast and these books are that they are thought provoking and really make me think. I think the next step will be to go over the list above and think about how they apply to me personally.
 
And with that, I’ll leave you with this little tune. I love the words. I think it’s a good theme song for me right now. I’m not sure about the video. It did make me laugh, though :)

It’s all in the focus of the story.

I’ve discovered something recently. While playing games on my PC, I’ve realized how dissatisfied I’ve been. I think back to all the times I’ve had wonderful fun playing games and it comes down to two things. Great story, or playing with other gamers.

Let’s focus on story. Some of my favorite games were old school, story driven games. Fallout 1 and 2. FF 2 (released in Japan as IV). Dragon Warrior I. Star Wars the Old Republic. Warhammer 40k: Spacemarine. Bastion. What do all these games have in common? A strong story! So, why do I not get any satisfaction playing games like ANY of the Elder Scrolls games? Or Fallout 3? The problem I’ve found with recent “sand box” games is… There’s too much. The story gets lost in the sand box. I jump in the game, and start playing, but get lost. There’s so many side quests and people to talk to, that the main story just gets lost. I quickly lose interest and move on. A few months later, I’ll read an article about how good the story is, or talk to a friend who played the game and give it another shot. And… right back where I was. Lost with no story. Fez has an awesome story, but once you actually start the game… It’s just a platformer. Lost interest about 15 minutes in.

It’s gotten to the point that I’ve almost given up on games. I hardly have time to play anymore with Rory around anyway, but it was making me a bit sad. But tonight, I pulled up a game called Alan Wake. Woah. Sucked me right in! A horror mystery. No side quests. Just a great story line. Can’t wait to continue this one!

So, how did I figure out it was the story that was driving my interest? I read books. A lot. Why? Because I love the stories! And the games I like basically let me live the story. I don’t need all the side quests to pull me off track. I don’t need to talk to every person in a large city just to make sure I get all the interesting quests while getting side tracked. I just hope once I finish Alan Wake that it won’t take me so long to find the next one!

4 mile run/walk after a nice 1/2 mile swim yesterday.

Yesterday I got out my wet suit again. I’ve only been in it one other time, about 3 weeks ago, when I jumped into Lake Washington. I managed to stay in there about 10 minutes before I got too cold and my head started hurting. Yesterday after visiting family, I jumped into Martha Lake. I swam the short distance across the lake and back, so about 1/2 a mile, in about 25 minutes. I wasn’t going for any kind of speed, just feeling out the suit and my technique. I was very happy with the time, though.

Today, I dropped A off with R at the Burke-Gilman Trail, then went down the road to Matthew’s Beach. Unfortunately, I left my garmin at home, so I don’t have any official distances. I think I jogged about a mile straight before a cramp started in my side. I ended up meeting A around 2 1/2 miles up the trail. I ran about 3/4 of the way to her, so I was very surprised. I guess that’s what happens when you lose 35+ lbs! We mostly walked with a little jogging back to Matthew’s Beach and headed home.

The Park to Park Swim is coming up fast, 1.4 miles. I figure if I can knock 5 minutes off of the 1/2 mile I did, 1.4 miles would take me around an hour. That feels like a good target to hit.

Beat the Blerch is coming up at the end of September. I’m okay with my jogging speed. Now I just need to do endurance. I think A and I will probably hit the track on Tuesday and each do a timed mile to see where we are at.

Also, I’m hoping to do a 56 mile bike ride sometime between Park to Park and Beat the Blerch. That way, I can get all the half ironman distances done within a month. Then, maybe I’ll do one or two actual half ironmans next year. Monday, we are meeting our PEPS group and I think I’m going to ride my bicycle there to get a little seat time in.

-beowuff

DigiPen Audio Symposium

May 31st, I got to go to the DigiPen Audio Symposium! I had a great time and learned a ton about using computers and other hardware to create Audio.

“: Live Orchestra Meets Highly Adaptive Score”
This presentation showed how the interactive audio for the game Peggle2 came about. It was a really interesting look about creating a demo of what Guy Whitmore wanted to do with the audio, selling it to the decision makers at PopCap, implementing the audio technically, and how all the sounds fit together musically. I really enjoyed this talk because it not only looked at implementing the audio, but it ran the gamut of how to add audio to the game.

“From Speaking Statues to Ventriloquists to Vocoders to Autotune: A Brief History of Technology and the Expressive Voice”
Perry Cook took us on a tour of music creation “hardware” starting, of course, with the voice and the creation of language through mimicking other animals. The history behind sound is amazing and as we approached modern time, it just got more fascinating. Perry gave a demonstration of a new electronic instrument he created called a “C.O.W.E.” (Controller, One With Everything) that he made of spare audio parts he had lying around. He blows into the top like a bagpipe changer and it has buttons on it where the chanter would have holes. But there, the similarity ends. The instrument also has motion sensors in it so he can manipulate the sound by moving the instrument around.

“The Art and Science of Aural Cinema”
With Richard Karpen, we listened to several different types of music. Everything from Beethoven to Stevie Ray Vaughn to modern computer generated compilations. It was a very interesting look at different kinds of music, what they have in common, and how they differ. One of the more fascinating instruments shown was a đàn bầu, a single string instrument from Vietnam. It’s amazing how much variety can come out of a single string instrument!

“Procedural and Interactive Sound Design and Music I and II”
ArenaNet sent out 3 people who work on different aspects of audio for GuildWars2.

The first person works as an audio programmer. He talked about the different aspects of adding audio to games and the challenges some game frameworks present. He is currently creating a new audio server for Unity because the Unity audio server was not flexible enough for him. I’ve just started playing around with Unity myself, but I’ll leave that for another post :)

The second person is a music composer, mixer, and editor. He showed several ways of capturing new sounds (like a bucket of plaster and a plunger, or driving down I-90 with the sun roof open and sticking things out the sun roof for different wind effects). Then, he showed how to process them into various effects.

The third person bridged the two previous speakers. He said his basic job is to get the two other people to work together to get good audio into the game. But he also talked about how all three of them sometimes wear the same hats, all of them programming sometimes, or creating effects other times.

“Choirs of the Future? A Brief History, State of the Art, and Projections About Singers and Technology”
Perry Cook came back a second time to talk about some of the directions audio is going into the future. He showed several recent concerts where each instrument was a computer hooked up to a speaker. Each person at a computer was composing in real-time and together they were generating a song. It was really fascinating. He is also working on a “song book” that he holds in his hands that contains a tablet, microphones, cameras, and several recorders. He then holds a concert where he is the only singer, but he uses the “song book” to record him self while he is singing and then plays it back during the concert. This has the effect of multiplying his voice so it sounds like a complete choir is singing.

Over all, it was a fascinating look at music and audio. I’m really glad I went and learned a ton. Now I have a new list of things to research. I’m also really looking forward to next years symposium.

- beowuff

Audio! Games! Programming!

I’ve always been interested in audio, but wasn’t sure what direction to take. I love music, but I don’t think I have the patience for creation. I’ll always enjoy playing around, but not sure I could make a career out of it. So, what do I enjoy? Well, I spend way too much time playing video games. I’ve always thought about getting involved with making games again (I was a software tester for a couple of games in a past life), and it seems like there’s a little bit of a shortness of programming audio engineers.

So, where to go from here?

I have a mentor at work who’s been helping me play around with audio files and get some experience in C. It’s amazing how much more I’ve learned about computers with only a couple of months of C experience.

I’ve also just downloaded Unity to play around with creating a game. It’s geared towards new users, so I’m thinking it’s a decent way to get some experience while I work on my programming. Eventually I’ll probably go with either the Unreal Engine or Cryengine. Both of these heavily use C++. Once I’m feeling more comfortable with C and get some object oriented experience with Ruby and Python, C++ shouldn’t be too hard to pick up.

Even if none of this works out, the C foundation is an excellent place to be for audio. All the low level calls for pretty much any program are written in C.

Languages:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_%28programming_language%29

http://www.cplusplus.com/

https://www.ruby-lang.org

https://www.python.org/

Engines:

http://unity3d.com/

https://www.unrealengine.com/

http://cryengine.com/