Games Competition

Last week a graduate program at USC challenged the ETC to a games competition. When I saw the subject of the email, I thought it was a neat idea but I assumed it would be all video games that I don't play. When I actually read the email, I was pleased that they selected a variety of games to challenge different aspects of gaming. Other people in the ETC weren't as happy that USC had selected all the events or that they hadn't even heard of some of the games. While it is troublesome that they alone have probably selected their strengths, I'm sure we will be able to select the games for a later match. On the other hand, I am very familiar with the games that many people were not, so I am glad I will get this chance to represent the ETC. The five games were Halo 2, an FPS; Burnout 3, a driving game; Literati, a word game that is essentially scrabble; and two of my favorite games, Set and Carcassonne.

The most exciting part of all was that their rules dictated competing in Set via my website. I'm not sure if they realized what they had done, but if they had visited any other part of the website they could have easily seen that I'm a member of the ETC. On the other hand, it isn't really like they'd have a choice. I did a search and it seems that my website is the only place on the web to play Set. I've taken this opportunity to improve Set, even though I thought it was done. Things have been so busy that I've spent more than a week now on changes that I thought were only worth one evening.

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Keywords:ETC | Games | Website Projects
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Sensation Seeking

Today in my Entertainment Engineering class we discussed why people chose whatever types in entertainment they prefer. We took a little quiz to find out where we fell on the sensation seeking scale. My score was 19 out of 40. While that is in the middle numerically, I feel like it is still low as if the scale isn't normalized. We saw a bunch of slides about the results of the studies done on sensation seeking. Someone asked the question about the person who may classify as a low sensation seeker, who would never want to do something like ride a rollercoaster, but then when forced on it ends up loving it. The question in my mind about the whole thing was, "What can be said about someone who is a low sensation seeker but wishes he were high (and blames his parents for this)?" That is how I feel.

The statistics said that only or first-born children tend to be the most high sensation seeking. Although I am the oldest I'm also the most conservative. They attribute that statistic to parental attention which actually lends credibility to my belief that it is partially my parents' fault that I am the way I am. I feel that they have gotten more adventurous as time has gone on and by being the oldest I had more of their attention in my young, formitable years when we were less sensation seeking. My mom never used to like rollercoasters but for some reason now she does. She teases me about not wanting to go on them but she's the reason I don't like them. I never learned to like them when I was a kid.

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Keywords:Quirks | Classes
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"What?" seems to be more and more of my vocabulary lately. I've been having some problems with my hearing. Starting the day after labor day I woke up and I couldn't hear fully in my right ear. Health Services treated me for an ear infection they said I had, although that didn't solve the problem. When I returned they couldn't tell me what the problem still was. Last week I finally had a chance to see a real doctor about this problem. They performed a hearing test and discovered that my left ear is fine but my right is 20-30 dB worse. As you know, decibels are a log scale so that is huge. The good news is that it is not nerve damage. The doctor thought he saw some kind of skin buildup behind my eardrum. On Wednesday I'm going to get a CT scan to see what is back there. If it does end up being what the doctor thought it was then I will probably have to have surgery to remove it. It is a bit of a scary prospect but I am enthusiastic because I will get to hear again.

To get an idea of what my hearing is like right now, put on a pair of headphones connected to your computer. Go into the volume control. Take the balance control and move it all the way to the right and then back about 4 pixel. That is the level that sounds the same to me in both ears.

In addition to the actual hearing loss, I think I have another problem. I find that a lot of the time my problem isn't hearing people it is turning what I hear into words. I feel like I have a harder time that most people at parsing speech if there is any kind of background sound. It is a running joke in my house that my roommate's girlfriend has to translate for my roommate and me because we can't hear each other.
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West Coast

This past week I was with the ETC first year on the west coast. We visited LA and San Francisco to see some entertainment companies to learn a bit about what they do. The places I saw include Thinkwell Design, BRC, Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, IWerks, Rhythm and Hues, Pandemic Studios, Pixar, ILM, Electronic Arts, and Reactrix. A few places I didn't see include Rockstar Games, Naughty Dog, Disney VR Studio, and Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Seeing these companies was a lot of fun. Some of them were really cool and we saw some neat stuff, most of which I'm not allowed to talk about. Seeing how cool places like Rhythm and Hues, Pixar, and ILM are makes me questions if I wouldn't want to do movies after all, like I believe I did when I was younger. On the other hand I don't think I'm well trained enough. Computer graphics hasn't exactly been my focus. I don't know DirectX really, I haven't written my own renderer, or anything. I've not graduated from baby game engines like Alice or Panda. I took Graphics I but I don't even remember that much. I like to say that I know enough to know what kind of questions they'd ask me in the interview and I know that I don't know the answers. The more I think about it, if I try to answer what my specialty is, I don't think I have one. What have I been doing for the past 4-5 year? And how am I ever going to get a job with such a mediocre skill set? So although the trip was fun, it does leave me a bit diappointed about my chances of getting a job at any top tier place in any business.

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Keywords:ETC | Travel | Jobs
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Fashion Simulator

I've always been a jeans and t-shirt guy. That's how I know how to dress. For something fancy I've got a suit, but anywhere in the middle I'm very uncomfortable. More and more recently I've realized that I'd like to dress better, at least sometimes. At least I should have a decent wardrobe that I should never stress over an otherwise fun event because I'm not sure what I have to wear that would be appropriate.

It finally came to a head over Thanksgiving. I had to go to my high school reunion. It was at a club, not a place I'd normally go. I didn't know what to wear for clubbing but I desperately wanted to prove that I wasn't the same uncool geek I was in high school. My mom and I went out and got a few things that made me feel great that night. I know it might not be cool to go shopping with my mom, but I just can't do it myself. After that great start (particularly the shoes) I decide this was a good time to solve this problem once and for all.

Over winter break I was going to go shopping for more close but it didn't happen while I was home, which meant I had to go by myself back in Pittsburgh. I needed some nicer things for visiting companies in California on the ETC west coast field trip. Shopping for clothes by myself is hard. Even with trying on clothes I'm not sure whether it really looks good or not or whether I will wear it. Many previous trips clothes shopping have ended up in items that sit in my closet unworn because I changed my mind after I got them home. I think I did a little bit better this time, but then I had a new idea.

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Keywords:Website Projects | Worries
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Thought Repository » January 2005