Tuesday 24 December 2013

So this is Christmas

Right, another Christmas.

So we boiled the Swedish style Christmas ham, made our own chicken liver paté, kalvsylta with proper big chunks (jellied veal according to the almighty Wikipedia, sounds horrible) today, and we have a few other things in store (sill, our own spiced up snaps and so on). Oh the feast that shall commence tomorrow will be a vivacious sight to behold, ho-ho! And in a few days we will have lutfisk, om-nom-nom (what's the hate all about, it's lovely).

And I couldn't hold it any longer (I haven't even started a game since mid-August or so!): Saturday evening I installed Anachronox and had a go. My goodnees do I love good single-player adventure games sooo much or what. The times when game developers took risks and thought "let's make a fun game!" instead of what they seem to do now which is "let's make a fun game that everybody will want to play!". Any type of media aimed at a broad audience is going to be bland. Maybe people are happy with that. Bland and mediocre. Bill Hicks, please come back :p

So Anachronox, what can I say about it? It's silly, it's funny, it seems to be pretty large, lots of characters, a plot and story that is still lingering and teasing in the shadows, pretty good production overall. Bad things include RPG-style fighting which I'm not a fan of, and the occasional slowdown in certain areas. Deus Ex 1 is a slightly better game, but Anachronox is better than anything that comes out these days anyway, so there.

I'm moving to Germany on the 6th. I wonder if I'll ever find a home. Oh well, a new adventure awaits!

Went to Gothenburg on the Friday the 13th (st Lucia day in Sweden!) to see Francois Englert speak about his work for which he received this year's Nobel prize in physics. Nice man, good talk, I felt like I almost understood what he did.

I wanted to learn some Christmas songs on my guitar, and figured that the tabs online are all rubbish, so I made my own version of Deck the Halls. Pretty nice, I have been thinking about recording it, but I haven't found the peace to do that quite yet. And now it's a bit late, eh?

Aerial perspective on the terrain, yay! Cool, now I have to fix all the graphical bugs.

I received my Ph.D. certificate today, finally. Refrigerated beans, I'll have it copied to be safe. And I've been seriously contemplating a small change of career, I'll work on that when I've moved to Germany.

Woah, this became a jumbled mess. And now it's past midnight, it's the ghost hour, and I'm actually now on Christmas Eve, so here comes the warmest chant of the year:

To everybody, not a single individual excluded:
Happy Christmas! Go' Jul! Frohe Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Meri Kurisumasu! (I haven't installed katakana input on my Lenovo yet, sorry.)

Sunday 24 November 2013

The Scouser experience

I went to Liverpool for work, to listen to what the R3B collaboration have been, is, and will be up to. There will be a whole lot to do once I get there for sure. It will start as a post-doc position, but we'll see how that turns out (how living all alone yet again in a foreign will be like).

And Liverpool is of course Scouser-land. Ah luv di ak-chent dey go'h'ere, with that wonderful melody they have. I understood what most people said downtown, but proper hardcore super-Scouse, like what the guys in the University canteen spoke, is not English. At all. Honestly. I need to practice Scouse every now and then ;) Oh right, there were two ladies in the city who asked me questions for some petitions or whatever, and they only figured I'm not English once I told them after half a minute or so. So my British English isn't too bad, hooray.

The graphics project I'm currently working on requires better lighting, so I revisited my atmospheric scattering simulator. I managed to solve a few things and the new code is a little nicer, but getting everything including multi-order scattering to work is not exactly trivial. The new sky looks much smoother and prettier this time, I cannot wait until it's all in-engine and all objects are lit with the scattering LUT.

Playing the guitar on and off, trying to learn new things these days rather than self-satisfying myself with brain-implanted patterns. I need to change strings, I use the same rusty old wires that I used in my Ph.D. defense party, and they were old already back then...

Weather's nice, programming is progressing, the guitar is getting proper attention... If only I didn't have heart-ache (I'm not ill or anything, I just has a sad inside).

Thursday 24 October 2013

Testing yet again!

I grew tired of the polluted profiling output and performance degradation of my invariant-testing, and started looking into unit testing yet again. And I found Catch, which is pretty nice, just a bit too "much" for me. So I took my old testing framework, hotted it up with some ideas from Catch (only the expression extraction bit really) and I'm now using that with a smile on my face. Turned out the source code got even smaller, exactly 400 SLOC of C++. I already found some bugs and inconsistencies, my run-time profiling output is a lot cleaner, and the performance is where where it should be. Plus the source code is a lot nicer without all the invariant-test objects in every method.

Turns out std::thread::join() deadlocks after WinMain on Windows. Just make sure you destroy every std::thread before getting out of main (exceptions alert!).

HWM still not finished, I decided to move from Xlib to XCB and that was quite a big boring job.

Life's pretty boring overall right now. And I'm thinking too much again... It's a good thing I have friends to pull me out into real life now and then.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Eye of the storm!

Went to Leuven and Brussels to visit a fellow Ph.D. end of September, looks to be a good place to stay. Life's pretty tough as a post-doc at Leuven though... And that new buddy icon comes from Brussels, in front of the Atomium, for the curious minds out there.

During the actual trips (airport, plane, train), I got bored enough that I ordered a netbook in the middle of Leuven, during the last days of my student discounts. For browsing and reading books you inquire? Hah, I scoff at the idea; for hacking! Got myself a little 11.6" Lenovo E130 because I'm too cheap and too much of a tinkerer to be happy with a Macbook Air. I've been working away on it to reduce power-usage and optimize the boot-time, not quite happy with the 5+ s that I have right now, I can do better. And supend and hibernation works for once. That's what you get when you buy proper stuff. And right now I'm writing HWM from scratch so that I can fix a few bugs that I've been living with since 2008/2009 or whenever I started running the DWM-fork version fo HWM.

Been hotting up my bike recently, only thing left is to bleed the hydraulic brakes. And then to see how far I can go in Alandsryd.

And kind of looking for a job. And here ends the post. *organ music*

Sunday 1 September 2013

New skill: Ph.D.

So, somehow I became a Ph.D. in physics, which I had not planned at all when I goofed my way through Engineering Physics at Chalmers. Oh well, here I am with the world in an oyster shell waiting to be devoured, or however that proverb goes.

Wonderful party too. And now I shall rest for a bit.

Tuesday 20 August 2013


Just ten days left to my defense. Ugh.

As an occasional escape from that serious part of my life, I've been playing around with netcode. More specifically, prediction and lag compensation. The principle is relatively simple: networks induce latency and the server and clients need to keep record of recent history to figure out what either did during the latency time frame, while always knowing that the server is the boss. Simple enough, but actually implementing that is a head wringer. But, I finally managed, after inspecting pages and pages of history buffers (i.e. comparing heaps of numbers and how they change on the two hosts taking the latency into account), simulating lag on the lo device. Next I'll simulate packet loss and send truncated user actions histories. Game states are already broadcast over and over and need no history so that was easy enough. I'll leave the compression to my fellow partner, since it's a very different problem.

Before getting started on netcoding, I read about the netcode in various games and gamers' perspective on them. It's amazing how little people understand and expect things to "just work" for them. It's a common assumption, even by many relatively clever people I know, that the simple logical rules in programming and technology makes solving problems a simple exercise in logic. "I have this problem, I solve it like this, but it doesn't work! I've done it right, it has to work!" There's a huge difference between "understanding" a problem and being able to define it. You cannot solve it by logic if you haven't defined it. And then you don't really understand it. Sometimes, it scares me that so many people don't know this and their work consists of finishing off their tasks by producing results that they need/expect and then go and goof off. All they did was bring bread to the table to related people. Pragmatic fools. I wish I could be stupid and happy and not have to think about how to upgrade everybody from bread to warm meals in everything I do :p Uhm, what I wanted to say is, there are two very simple reasons for why you die after having taken shelter around a corner: network latency, and that you suck in the game. Eat it.

Watched Attack on Titan after a friend of mine suggested it. I really asked for a horror movie, but this was a good alternative. I figured a few things, checked them against the manga and behold, I was right, it goes completely overboard. Still more fun than the regular TV series.

Also watched Hobo with a Shotgun. Definitely not for everybody, but I'm glad we get options to the usual mind-numbing feel-good movies.

Been thinking about Doom 4 lately, I honestly have very little hope for it. The music has to be in the style of Bleed or I Am Colossus (about 2.00 in with the spider) by Meshuggah with matching visuals, speed and hoards of monsters for slaughter if I'm to be really impressed. Start, preload, you're in the game, just like Carmack wanted it back in the day. One can always dream...

Wednesday 24 July 2013

State of games

I'll break my rule regarding keeping this strictly as a diary with this post, but it's a large part of my thinking whenever I think about games these days, so here goes. Plus it's another blog post.

When I think of games, I think of interactive virtual worlds that make me forget the real world I move around in and feel the battery of emotions that I cannot get any other way. E.g., I would never play a game to replace a book (induced visual and psychological imagination), a movie (dynamic input in a short-burst), a TV series (long-time visual development) and going out with trees whispering around me ("meditation"?). These media do what they do exceptionally well, and games must do their thing exceptionally well. And that is to provide a world, possibly inhabited by characters, with which you can interact over and over (action, response, iterate), not to provide a movie with action sequences.

Two of the most generally well-received games in recent history (or even ever?) are Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us. Imho, they're rubbish.

TLOU: It's a movie with a game tucked underneath. Emotional intro sequence, a mission, lots of killing and an emotional ending that ties to the intro with a cute face fading to black. Games like this will forever be comical, in how cut-scenes that can make grown men cry (yt comment...), swiftly move over to hundred-fold cranial crack-o-mania with steel pipes and so on, we all know how it works. A set of directed sequences with serious things in them, intertwined with you shagging and hammering every corner, crevice and random small object in the game. IT DOES NOT WORK, oil + water. And it amazes me that nobody sees it. No matter how serious the story is, the whole package is laughable. Which is why NOLF works, because it's about laughing from the get-go.

BI: An idyllic doll-like environment explodes by a deviating ball and suddenly you crack necks and crack skulls (this thing with head trauma...) with a spinning metal wheel left-and-right, you see magic and then everything goes mental and your daughter kills you and you live again and infinity and all... And people are trying to put meaning into this, they analyze it with popular science and are trying to pull parallels to the real world out of their reference section. *sigh* This time the story-telling is part of the game, which is better. But now it's a story suffocating a game. I'm thinking, Columbia is a terrible place, why do I have to kill everybody, can't I go find a parachute and jump off? It's a city in the clouds, there should be parachutes everywhere. "But books, movies and TV series are even more linear!" I hear you cry. Yes, they are fixed linear accounts of some stories, that's their deal, it is what they are. The deal with games is to add interaction. Forcing a linear account into a game is like holding down a horse by its reins, with the human participants analyzing the emotional behaviour of trapping of a beautiful animal (personally I find them too nervous and detached to feel much for them, but whatever) and trying to see the similarities with the trapped group in The Walking Dead that we all root for. (OT: The Walking Dead is the epitome of Zombies gone bad, I'm not so sure I'll watch the next season.) So what would letting the horse loose mean for BI? Trying to escape Columbia, while collecting notes and listening to NPCs and learning that a fellow companion has done certain things and you can choose either to stick with, leave, kill or whatever that companion, and it would not end with an infinite number of light-houses that similar to Olber's paradox would make no sense.

I never played either of the games, thanks to youtube. I watched the "oh so amazing twist at the end" and I wonder how something so weak gets so much attention. Then I looked at playthroughs and, as always, it's all the good old action adventure from the infancy of games. I stopped playing games, mainly because they try to compete with media that did it better. But why did movies come about in the first place, why not just keep the books? Fact is, a lot of movies are shite and are easily surpassed by books. The two things books can't give you is a time-lapse out of your control and visual input to take your mind further. TV series? They have the long running time for more development. Games? They have the interaction and choice. Media that slide back to a prior type of media is shit.

But we all read books and watch TV for different reasons, right? It's just sad it's mostly for the wrong reasons.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Yet another birthday

I don't think much about my birthday these days, the administrator at work reminded me yesterday. So I took off a little earlier than usual to make sure I could cram in a shopping and baking session in the evening. Petit choux filled to the brim with wonderful créme de la mousseline, and a few more with the same filling but mixed with dark rum (cheap Negrita rum, I'm not really a rum connoiseur). I asploded one of the choux with the runnier rum créme and the only food disposer in this apt is my mouth, plus I wasn't exactly graceful with the pastry bag when done... Under the influence even before I go to work, excellent. And yet again the cashier in Systemet asked for my ID, 7 years in and still going strong :D Found some expensive Montrachet, maybe another time.

A better-than-expected photo on my balcony for the fellow surfer:

Saturday 15 June 2013

Random post

I don't seem to follow any regular patterns for dates any longer. Always was a rebel...

Finally got my Curtis Novak lipstick pickups and are they lovely. Crisp, glassy and direct, I finally have the thonk/twang sound on the wound strings that I always wanted. Plus they look ballin'. Activating my pedals and "cranking" the amp can give off some pretty crazy rock'n'roll still. There seem to be some shorting problems with them however, shaking the guitar a bit helps sometimes, I'll probably open up and inspect/fix all of them (fixed one, boy is that hard with no proper tools...). I've also ordered a new pickguard, a proper strap and a wah-pedal, so I probably won't touch the pickups until they have arrived. And after that, maybe I'll post some photos (and a video? who knows?!).

On the home stretch for my thesis, and working on a take-home exam. And I started to seriously look for jobs. I'd like to go to one particular place so much, but I need to muster up and start taking some chances for that to happen. I want to go there sooo bad...

I miss mountain-biking in the Juras :(

EDIT(2013-06-15 12:22): I still have to show ID when buying alcohol here in Sweden :D Funny how I never had to in France...

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Ice hockey anyone?


Sorry for the ugly 90s HTML, don't wanna waste time gimping something up. I don't watch sports a whole lot, but when Sweden's in the world cup final in ice-hockey... I suppose age is providing passion and understanding for the hard work that the sportsmen put into their work. Anyway, the first period was fun, the second pretty boring, and the third sealed the deal. The players were properly rough, so it was an engaging match. Now I just have to endure another season of silly football :p

Completely forgot to mention that I bought a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2+ pedal PSU and a Boss NS-2 noise suppressor pedal from my brother and my setup is now almost completely noise free. The evening I plugged it all in was one of the best in a long time, sweat and blood were pouring and shrapnel from exploded guitar picks were embedded in my walls. And then when my parents came around and were curious about my playing, all I could play was really tame and sloppy little tunes.

The weather was phenomenal around Gothenburg during the last weekend, my parents and I went north of the city to Marstrand. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, with quaint little white wooden houses from the early 20th century, the fort in the background, the fresh air from the sea, the rocky archipelago, the green Swedish nature all around... Wouldn't mind ending up here eventually, if I ever get (make) enough money.

I've been indulging in a hobby recently by buying a bunch of books. A hobby that I may not have talked about at all around here, not sure. Apparently, and understandably, one should not advertise the biggest dreams in life, because talking about personal things works as an outlet not only for issues but also ideas and thoughts. Keep them to yourself, realize your own dreams because you're the only one who really gives a toss. I've told a few people, but I'll try to keep it in for now and let it simmer until I have the resources to start and finish it. Or "them", if I'm inspired enough. My dream is kinda insane, big and costly, but when I'm done, I'll have something I've wanted since I was in lower-middle elementary school! Maybe in a few years you'll see... It'll be noisy.

Should head home, it's getting late and dark rain clouds are rolling in.

EDIT(just a few minutes later): Upgraded to thunderclouds!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Fuzz Guitar Show 2013

I'm throwing away money left and right these days, today I went to the Fuzz Guitar Show in Eriksberg/Göteborg. Fun stuff and they had a student discount on the entrance fee, which is why I went ;)

There was a discount on Gotoh vibratos (or tremolos if you like being wrong), but I couldn't find the one type I want for my guitar. Fortunately actually, I don't strictly need one, yet. Bought two packs of EB 11 sets, but I found no Tortex yellow packs, bah. Pedals were not very interesting, Rockboxes look nice, cost too much and imho sound pretty boring and "perfect". Lundgren pickups had a booth, but I've already ordered me a set of Curtis Novak lipsticks, gonna have a lot of fun trying to figure out how to shred with those.

Best part was looking at old 2nd hand guitars and price tags on strats from the 50-60s. I need to get a car first and learn to play properly though. Worst part was thinking about the rich douche bags who'll buy them and defile them with their rubbish playing or just put them on a wall, like putting a tiger in a 5x5x3 m3 glass box :p

Tomorrow I'll watch an acquaintance from the Chalmers Aerospace Club from back in the days parachute his way down to Earth. I'm not gonna, I'll just watch and point.

Monday 22 April 2013

Paul Gilbert!

Paul Gilbert played for his Vibrato tour yesterday evening in Gothenburg and I was there :D

Best parts: Thomas Lang's drum solo, Emi's crazy keyboard solos and their cover of Man on the Silver Mountain (not counting Paul just being there, of course)!

My guitar saw quite some action too after that show...

Update(2013-04-24): Just wanted to add: WHOOOO, I saw Paul Gilbert live! \m/ >_< \m/

Monday 15 April 2013

Easter and pedal mania

So Easter passed by and gave me the flu for the first time in 14 years. It's been a long time since my mom forced me to stay in bed...

I bought a Yamaha THR10 recently and that thing has had me playing a lot more than before. Really nice solid state amp for clean-ish sounds, but it's a bit bright and the gain channels are too harsh. Still, better than the 5W tube amp + Zoom g2.1u combo I used before.

I was thinking a lot about the SG clone, but my brother convinced me to buy proper pedals instead. Some of the best advice I have ever been given. I got myself a Strymon El Capistan tape delay simulator, Greenhouse Stonefish chrorus and Hartman Germanium Fuzz. Bit expensive boutique pedals for being my first pedals ever, but they sound amazing. A bit of delay and soft chorus and I can paint soft dreamy landscapes and space scenes like never before, and the Fuzz when I need it to go dirty and grimy. Check youtube for reviews and examples, all I can say is I couldn't be happier. I'm currently looking at the Maxon 9-series for an overdrive pedal and the Barber Tone Press for compression and I hope that should be it for some time, after all I plug it all into a THR :p

I'm doing ok these days, seems like my heart has stopped leaking blood and feelings and I can concentrate on programming and playing the guitar with full passion again. I'm attributing my increased will to be happy to my guitar pedals, they did wonders. So I should get the other two really soon :D

Went to a concert yesterday, my friend's wife played the harmonium in a church, and there were some other musicians playing the church organ, singing and whatnot. I've been to a few of her "shows", but I'm still a bit mesmerized seeing a world so different from my own.

Helped a friend from France with the horror build-story that is Geant4... Going home from work at 20.40, like a Ph.D. student in physics should :p

Update(2013-04-21): Got a Maxon OD9 and Barber Tone Press in the end, good stuff. Maxon sure has a bunch of od/ds-pedals, but the dark OD9 seemed like a good fit to the bright THR10, and the 808 was a tad too tame. The Tone Press seems like a really lovely compressor, I really don't know much about them, but the output is really soft and not as "plonky" as some cheaper compressors are. Those two pedals together made for some fun shredding. My setup is very noisy atm, I need to sort that out before I record anything (I know, I'm a perfectionist, but it _is_ gonna happen).

Oh right, gonna watch Paul Gilbert live at Sticky Fingers tonight! :D Camera ready...

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Gotta post every month

Writing the thesis and finishing off the astrophysics course.

Programming every now and then, terrain texturing now based on Wang-like corner tiles, currently updating the FRM code for models.

Got interested in Gibson SG:s again, pretty little things. Too bad they're so inexpensive, I may waste money on one really soon.

And Fender now has American Standard Strats with lipsticks. *sigh*

Yamaha THR amps look like fun.

Trying to improvise the "solo bits" on "Mary had a little lamb" by SRV, great fun.

Still doing some Japanese, not trivial all on my own, but I'm progressing, slowly.

Not far from mastering Mill's mess with three balls.

I love the IT crowd. Moss would be an amazing friend, Sheldon's an ass.

Been looking at porting the iwlwifi 2230 driver to FreeBSD, wanna use that so bad (so I can wear the BSD horns, lookup at the FreeBSD mall. Btw that is a joke.).

Razer Abyssus is brilliant, light-weight and simple, especially on the Artisan Shiden mid. I thought the edges would hurt, but they hardly do. Lack of side-buttons is not a problem, people who give negative reviews for that on this mouse are idiots (like giving the best orange jam in the world a bad review because it's a bit sweet for potatoes). Tried a bit of CS 1.6 to try it out for real, first time for ages, popped a bunch more headshots than I did back in the day. So a good review from me on that pointer setup.

I feel like I'm flat-lining. It's the only way to keep myself in working condition I guess, 'cause I've figured my issues came to stay, forever.

In any case, I made an entry for March \../ >_< \../

Sunday 3 February 2013

Gearing up for the showdown

Writing, doing coursework and not much else, must mean I'm close to having my fifth academic degree. In Sweden we have Bachelor, Master, Civilingenjör, Licentiat and Doctor. Working slowly on upgrading the light organ artwork in the Chalmers physics building, need to look up some atmospheric muon shower simulations before I go much further with that. Started with a course in interstellar matter, I had forgotten how amazing space is. Too big for me though, I prefer to dream about it. And the Beta-NMR has been moved out of the way for the HIE-ISOLDE upgrade.

I finally bought protection and a new (expensive!) saddle for my bike, ready to trek the Swedish freeride routes. Can't wait to take it out for a new spin. Should've bought a new saddle for the Juras.

Tuned down my acoustic for some Busted Bicycle and playing around with Foggy Mountain Breakdown on the NCST.

Other than that I have surprisingly little to say. Well, I'm learning a little Japanese almost every day.

Let's hope February will be a tad bit more spectacular, eh?