Displaying 1 - 5 of 19 entries.


  • Posted on November 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

There was a time when I thought that depression and anxiety were the only self-sustaining emotional cycles the mind has. Happiness was something to strive for, a fleeting reward. It wasn’t until later that I found a similar positive feedback loop: appreciation or kindness. When you tell someone how much you appreciate them you will, inevitably, feel good about it. There’s some research to suggest that showing gratitude does have a positive effect on mood (and I can dig up some of those articles and cite them if anyone is interested). Where the feedback loop begins is that when you’re happy you’re more likely to show appreciation and kindness to others.

After realizing that I had been failing to express my appreciation for others I went on a long spree of doing so. I connected with friends, colleagues, instructors, and family members. With each person I was open and honest about why I appreciated them. I brought up past memories, good traits, and the feelings that came with them. It was one of the most natural and easy things I’ve have done which left me a tad puzzled as to why I hadn’t been doing it before. More than that, why weren’t more people doing it?

There are a lot of explanations for why we don’t. Most prominent among them is that, at least in the US, we tend to live in a rather cynical world. Expressing emotions is seen as dangerous and perhaps even maladaptive. Furthermore, happiness is not something that should be our natural state, or so society would have us believe. We need to buy it. We give our time, our possessions, and the very lifeblood in our veins. The problem with that is that the cost-to-benefit ratio is rather large which leaves us drained if we try to go about obtaining our happiness there.

So, thank you dear reader. I don’t know how many of you there are nor do I hear from you very often (at this point) but I sincerely appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read my blog. I may write the blog for myself and my own reasons but I still enjoy having it read. Once written that is the purpose of most any written work, after all.

I would also like to thank the wonderful folks over at the Free Software Foundation. The meetings I’ve had with them at LibrePlanet and beyond have been phenomenal and the work they support is important and helpful beyond measure.

I would also like to thank the following software projects who help me day-to-day with the software I use (check them out, they’re awesome!):


Rhythos RPG Builder – Continued

  • Posted on November 8, 2013 at 10:00 am

I posted earlier about Rhythos RPG Builder: a project by David Maletz of Fancy Fish Games. The Kickstarter did not meet its goal but it did get something just as valuable out of the whole experience: a community. As I will touch on in a later post building community is one of the top priorities for any free software project. It’s the community members who drive the development and improve how the software functions. With a strong community a project can thrive. Perhaps in the future, thanks to the hard work of this growing community, a future crowd-funding attempt will be successful and Rhythos can jump forward as a major player in indie RPG development.

I have interacted with the community a few times on their IRC channel and they have been very welcoming and openly supportive. I would definitely recommend trying Rhythos out as the platform for creating your next RPG. I had an idea bouncing around in my head for a game that I was originally learning Ren’Py to produce but rather than that I decided on using Rhythos. Once it finally gets to a demo-able point I’ll write something up about it and post  a detailed review of Rhythos and my experiences with it.

As Steam is preparing for a very strong GNU/Linux push with their Steam Machines and SteamOS announcements it will be good for projects like Rhythos. But, more importantly, Steam needs projects like Rhythos. Not in the traditional sense but rather in the context of software freedom. If projects like Rhythos thrive then it becomes easier to develop games that are also free software. While a platform like Steam is good for GNU/Linux overall (particularly in driver development and support) the main concern is that more proprietary software will find its way to the operating system. Most of the games on Steam are proprietary and the client itself is as well.

Rhythos may allow for the development of proprietary titles but that is akin to scientific research. As Richard Feynman mentioned: The ability to do something is worthwhile. Whether or not the tool is used to unlock the gates to heaven or hell is up to those who use it. In this regard Rhythos is in-line with the FSF’s explanation of when to use LGPL for your library. There exist many proprietary game-creation suites and Rhythos provides a free software alternative. This is in contrast to the project I am working on for my research which we were originally going to license under the LGPL but when I read the description I came to the conclusion that the GPL would be more fitting since we’re providing unique functionality (and, additionally, free software is very much in line with the spirit of academic collaboration).

NaNoWriMo 2013

  • Posted on November 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

This will be my fifth year participating in National Novel Writing Month. Hopefully it will be my fourth year of successfully completing a novel. So far I’m on track but that can change.

The premise of NaNoWriMo is rather interesting and because of this it helps me get over the biggest problem I have with most things: starting. That’s the main focus of NaNoWriMo. They, like many other writers, choose to focus on putting away the perfectionist in you and setting your inner editor aside. Much like the book I started reading recently on how to write a screenplay in 10 days or fewer they state what might seem counter-intuitive: write fast and write often, editing as you go is probably hurting you. This is very much a your mileage may vary type of situation but for me this is certainly the case. If I try to spend time agonizing over making each scene perfect and working out plots for everything I am doomed. My manuscript will never see the light of day.

That’s because, as I’ve mentioned, I have a problem with starting things. Once I get going and reach a critical mass of effort and work I find that continuing to work on whatever it is second nature and stopping is what requires energy.

NaNoWriMo does a number of things well to help be a good motivator to start working. First of all is that they have daily word count. The word count is a peculiar thing since in-and-of itself it’s not a terribly useful measure for charting the worth of a piece of writing. But, due to the atmosphere of NaNoWriMo, the worth of the piece is less important. What you’re producing is a first draft and first drafts don’t need to be polished in the least, they just need to be done. Thus the word count creates a nice objective, quantifiable measure that you can use to track your progress. The second thing it does well is providing accountability. So long as you update frequently your friends on the site can check your word count and offer words of encouragement.

I tried extending this to programming but the analogue to word count, lines of code, is even worse as a productivity measure. So, for this, I’ve developed a point system. I’m going to see how I can integrate that with the work flow of my current projects. In the same vein as NaNoWriMo I will have a daily goal, however, if you get behind you can “catch up” by doing more work on some days than others. This is helpful for me since I tend to need to “recharge” for a day or two after doing significant work. I’ll provide more updates on this once I fully implement it. I might come up with something to track these points within an existing project management software (like Redmine). If I do I will be sure to release it under a free license.

The Precipice

  • Posted on October 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Sometimes in life you come across moments that make you think:

About the self.

About others.

About the true meaning of happiness.

Standing at the precipice that is my life I ask: which is heavier?

The weight of choice or the burden of regret?

All I hear back are echoes of my voice and pebbles that collided with the rock wall.

But if this perilous stand is, itself, my life, then each little pebble is also a part of me. Those echoes are voices, calling out in the background; carried away on the wind.

“Change! Change! Change” the pebbles chant, all the time while they attempt to, themselves, stay the same by their very nature.Leaving pockmarks and small fissures along the cliff face as they descend. Not noticing that they, themselves, are also causing a change and maybe not the kind they were looking for.

Their discourse inside me is infinite. Even if the whole cliff face eroded it would, instead, become a desert, having been crushed under their ideals.

If you could pluck the scenery from any point in time the scene you would likely come up with would be idyllic. Rolling hills. Jutting mountains. Forests spreading farther than the eye can see.

That is the canvas with which I work. Each moment is its own sensible, beautiful, idyllic scene. The precipice inspiring awe on those who look upon it.

As you stack each wonderful scene on top of each other you begin to see the undulating mass and the turmoil it represents. Unspeakable. Reprehensible. Commonplace.

As it towers over you, this amalgamation of beauty constructed from the landscape that is you, your heart skips a beat. That thing is inside of me? No. More than that. It is you. In that instant the colors in each painting shift ever so slightly and begin to weep, flooding the room.

In a sea of brown so deep it could almost be black you drift aimlessly in a bubble, only picking up new volume as other bubbles collide with yours. Continuing the cycle. Participating, in a way.

Having resigned yourself to your fate you ceased your struggles and in that moment you could hear it.

Whales, perhaps?

Comfortable vibrations envelope your bubble sending pleasant ripples across its inner membrane.

A raucous pop could be heard as the bubble itself collapsed under the strain. Reflexively you claw and reach for something, anything, all the while feeling the pulse shake you down to your bones.

In a fit, you fight to keep the darkness from your lungs but to no avail. It embraces you swiftly and without question. You cease your struggles and fall limp. Unmoving. Uncaring. Perhaps, no longer living?

Then again, you hear it. The low hum.

Then in an instant you realize what it is saying. Your questions. The pebble’s chorus. The landslide. The tornado. Everything. It is saying everything.

The door’s handle is old, rusted, and difficult to find in the blackness but so familiar as you wrap your hands around it. With a twist of your hand everything comes pouring in from around you and out into the void.

Alone, floating in a vacuum, amongst a field of infinite color you still find yourself wondering about the weight of two sides of the same coin.

What does it mean? Everything. Nothing. I don’t know.

Self Publishing and Free Culture

  • Posted on October 25, 2013 at 11:18 am

Of the many labels I choose for myself author is among the most prominent. The joy of having something that I created read and enjoyed by others is one of life’s greatest pleasures for me. I’ve written several novels, still in draft form, that will eventually see the light of day. Like many authors I’ve sent query letters, researched the market, and got a fair number of rejection letters. But as my love of the free software and free culture movements grew my desire to submit my work to a traditional publisher waned.

In the traditional model you often hand over copyright to the publisher, especially as a new author, and are bound to release your work as All Rights Reserved. This runs counter to the ideals that I had grown to respect and enjoy which seems to leave me at a sort of crossroads. Down one road lies economic success and down the other road lies freedom. This does not necessarily have to be the case though and I am going to work towards the goal of having both.

I am polishing up one of my novels to be published within this academic year but rather than go the traditional route and give up my copyright I intend to release the book here on my website for free (gratis) under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. Additionally I will be self publishing e-books and print-on-demand hard copies for purchase (still under the CC-BY-SA license). In this way I can give my readers the freedoms they deserve while still making some money off of it.

I’m not sure how feasible this is as a long term plan but since I’m in graduate school right now and its not my primary way of making a living it can serve as a good experiment. I know I’m not the first author to offer their book for free nor am I the first to use a copyleft license. This isn’t even the first time that I’ve given away my works for free. You can find links to my works on the Internet Archive in my projects page.