Post 14- Quickie

•August 7, 2008 • 2 Comments

While I tend to enjoy bikes that are borne out of little or nothing, or creations that utilize creativity and community over loads of money, I can also enjoy beautiful engineering at any price.

I’m also sure I could never own a bike I would enjoy looking at so much to the extent riding it would become a burden, turning it into a ‘trophy’ bike.


Post 13 – Morning Rides and Eating Well

•July 28, 2008 • 8 Comments

Tofu Lettcue Wraps with red pepper hummus:

Followed up by some scrumptious PB Chocolate Oat Cookies:

Which were great fuel for a weekend of bike rides:

The bike rides, although lasting about 1/4 the time I’m used to due to hills that eat me alive, are incredible. The roadside scenery in Florida doesn’t hold a candle to this; even the Longboat Key ride is so cluttered with development and ritzy places that you only get sparse sections of coast to enjoy. Maybe next time I’ll bring my Nikon, but for now my phone camera is impressing me. Enjoy the pictures.

Post 12 – Planescape: Torment

•July 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I have finished Torment.

I *know* the game.

*Know* that it is a game worthwhile.

I enjoyed this game immensely. It’s typical RPG “fetch X and I’ll give you Y” gameplay did not overshadow an intriguing storyline that immersed me even more than Baldur’s Gate did. I’m hoping I can find a current game with witty and thoughtful storylines on par with this game, once I am able to play them. Or maybe I’ll just spoil myself with an eye candy dungeon crawl that better be released soon (wishful thinking I know – we can all appreciate xmas 2010).

Ultimately I’m just going to become a fanboy on September 7th.

I played Ben Yahtzee’s Chzo Mythos series (well, the 3 main games and notes) and walked away entertained and happy to see a great indie game on a widely used engine. Fast forward a few weeks and I watch the Escapist on X-Play, want more, and boom. The same guy.

That’s all from video game land.

Post 11 – Done

•July 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Buddy got into town the other day, and brought my Park toolset, with which we finished the Schwinn. Or at lease, we have it as a single speed using the original cassette until we get to Boston later today and buy a cog and some jb weld to fix it. I’m pleased with the result:

I have a front break on it, and we’ll also be getting some bar tape. With this bike and the Raleigh I found on the road, we rode down to the scenery posted above. It was wonderful.

Also finished is the simple program I was working on. I ended up using Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm which is essentially the same as A* except the heuristic is always set to 0. I did not, however, use boost’s c++ library as I wanted to implement the algorithm myself before I used an already made tool to do it. My program is a little slow, as it takes roughly 2 seconds to find a path from a random node at the top and a random node at the bottom of a 70 x 70 map. I was using STL’s containers to hold pointers which turned out to be a little to problematic so instead I had the container hold copies of nodes (when I say node I mean the object that holds all the information). I had to have a multiset hold the nodes because a set would only add one node object (it thought they were all the same for reasons I’m still not sure of, as I included overloaded == and < operators). Now I want to use boost’s property maps to associate these objects with a graph, because boost conveniently includes a wonderful standard graph library.
My updated challenges will be:

  • Use the boost graph library to optimize my code and bring down the search time
  • practice several different algorithms to search, including Ant Colony Optimization for searching for food where the ‘ants’ don’t know the location beforehand (as opposed to A* and Dijkstra which the goal is known) and place them into my procedurally generated map.
  • develop more objects and use an interaction system between ‘creature’ objects

This is all heading towards a stronger understanding of AI and being able to efficiently program it. Unfortunately I have to wait until spring semester or even next year until I take any classes that delve into these topics. I’ll post some code you can make fun of soon.

Post 10 – From the shed

•July 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

I love how easy this is. I also love this shed.

I needed only a few common tools (namely a screwdriver and a large wrench) to take this bike apart due to the one piece crank, some sandpaper to sand it down, the ever handy mineral spirits to clean up the parts, a touch of spraypaint, and voilà:

Don’t make fun of the kickstand; I didn’t have the tools to remove it.

I wish I would have had this bike as my first fix up. It was simple, didn’t require much, and I would have still learned the fundamentals of a build. The only tasks left to do are: obtain some grease and apply it to the newly cleaned bearings (headset and bottom bracket), buy some handlebar tape and inner tubes, and finally fix the rear wheel. I’ll finally have an excuse to ride down to Boston’s Bike Not Bombs again for the latter task.

Believe it or not I’ve also been tinkering with c++. My project:

I will be using boost‘s c++ library to create a map that is procedurally generated (Conway’s GOL which I’ve mentioned before) to create wall and floor object. Floor objects will hold several randomly place ant objects that will use the A* pathfinding algorithms to search for clumps of food object, and carry them to a designated storage area and then stop. This will help me develop a stronger understanding of the c++ object syntax, using templates, pathfinding and graph algorithms, and I’m also attempting to create this in a nice organized manner filewise. So far I’ve:

  • Created a template class of ‘entity’s that will be used for floor, wall, ant, and food objects. Floors and ants can hold objects.
  • Created a map of floors and walls.

I’m still working on combining the objects with the procedural generation.

At any rate, by next update I should be finished with the Schwinn, beginning on the sobering up Raleigh, and almost finished with ants.exe.

As for your bike post, I was taken by Brett Ohland’s Sekine, although I don’t agree with the bar tape choice.

Post 9 – When I’m not Fucking Things Up

•June 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I ended up settling for a Schwinn Varsity I found on craigslist for 40$. Maybe not worth it, but everything else fitting the qualifications resided in Boston and cost $100+.

Sheldon Brown (rest his soul) hosts quite an article about these Schwinn’s along with his own article about Chicago Schwinns. It’s long and technical, but basically:

  • They’re heavy. Really heavy. And bomb resistant.
  • Millions were produced.
  • One-piece cranks

So far I’ve stripped it down (save for the chain due the fact I wasn’t able to bring my tools with me). I was able to remove the one-piece crank because all you need is a large adjustable wrench and a reverse threaded mindset. So I have it stripped, and I have access to an electric sander. What took me about 30 minutes to sand down using the sander I spent about 2 and a half days by hand on the last Schwinn I (almost) fixed up:

So I get finished a good bit of sanding, pack up and leave. We are driving not 50 yds when I see this sitting on the side of the road:

An old Raleigh Grand Prix. I walk up to the house, make sure it’s free, and get ready to walk it back since we can’t put it in the car. My uncle happens to have a car powered bike pump (which I had never seen before), so I pumped up the tires in about 10 seconds, and I rode it back to the house we’re fixing up. Aside from some gear shifting issues, it was wonderful considering I had hitherto not ridden for roughly a month. Anything to keep my mind occupied.

Post 8 – Mass Post

•June 24, 2008 • 7 Comments

So I’ve been working in a cubicle a little more than 40 hours of week. Not ideal, but I’ve been learning quite a bit and enjoy the work I do despite the workplace environment and politics. If anyone is interested, I’m officially a Java Developer intern, but in actuality I write many reports using SQL and Visual Report Designer, a shitload of development standard documentation, dabble in SAP development, minor script writing for server cleanup and what not, and in house SOX testing – aka intern work. I’ve successfully neglected the two responsibilities I committed to during my time in Massachusetts: create a website for UCF’s SDS and UCF’s new bike coop. It’s not that I’m working all the time (which I am), it’s that whenever I’m not working, I’m putting together my uncle’s new house (which I’m indebted to for free rent and him putting up with me not having a car).

Either way, I should be getting to those shortly.

I’ve only visited Bikes not Bombs once, briefly, with LeAnn. We only got to the shop, but I was very impressed. Hopefully I’ll get to visit the actual coop and learn a thing or two and bring something of use back to ‘The Hub’ (the suggested name of the center of Spokes Council).

Other than that I program and play video games during the precious few hours of free time I get every week. I’ve been playing Torment and dabbled in an older (not that Torment isn’t old) RPG’s named Albion. Torment is an isometric RPG using the D&D Planescape campaign. It’s a wonderfully engaging and in depth game, and has great focus on character development through dialogue (just under a million words of dialogue and story in the game). I am more and more interested in game development now that I am officially changing my major to Computer Science.

If you are a math nerd and want to spend some time playing with cellular automaton using Conway’s Game of Life (Java applet to play here). One guy designed a Turing Machine… I went from there implementing some variations (and a few helpful articles) in the wonderful method of procedural generation to create those roguelike dungeons. Speaking of procedural generation, I’m very excited about Spore. Open ended gameplay seems like such a great idea that’s only begun to be tapped. You have your Sim game franchises and GTA (both of which were wildly successful), but with 7th gen consoles and PC technology continuing to advance to the point of cheap TB hard drives, desktop quad core processors, and movie size game production open ended gameplay has amazing potential (although with procedural generation, you really won’t need a new TB hard drive).

When I first heard of Spore last year the spark of game development was reignited in me and has been simmering until now. I find myself reading Tigsource and Gamasutra regularly and playing older games that I’ve missed out on.

I began J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians per Phil’s suggestion. I’m only about a quarter into it, but so for it’s very good.

The two dogs that inhabit the house we are fixing up are very tiny. One is small and brown. The other is Gandalf:

This post’s bike picks:

Dave’s Schwinn from FGG
Tim’s 1984 Suteki Track 10 from Old Ten Speed Gallery

I’m off to look at an old Schwinn Varsity to fix up. I think I want a simple, maybe goofy, old style fixed gear using this as a template.

On a final note, please suggest some music. Too much Little Wings and Deer Tick lately. Maybe.