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Showing posts from March, 2022

Memory Leaks: Gone Home

🏚️ Where the heart is... Gone Home  is a 2013 walking simulator from The Fullbright Company. You play as Katie, a college student returning from studying overseas to visit her parents and younger sister in Oregon in 1995. Since no one met you at the airport, you've had to take a cab, and when you arrive at your home, you find it empty and locked. Remembering a hidden key that will give you access to at least part  of the house, you set about trying to figure out what happened--be it sinister or supernatural--to your family. How I Remember It... There are games that you play over and over again and there are the games that you only need to play once. I played this when it was new-ish, loved it to pieces, and have never picked it up again. It took me about two hours to complete, and I spent the entire time on tenterhooks. After the first hour, I started to close it down so I could go to bed but realized that sleep would be futile, so I stayed up to finish it. Gone Home  is a master

That Time I Wrote a Calculation Engine That No One Knew How To Use

♾️ He talks in maths, he buzzes like a fridge... I work on software, and I've been doing so professionally for over a decade now. Shortly after starting at my current job, I was pulled into a brand new project working on quoting tool for one of our sales divisions. These quotes had a lot of complexity and cascading effects involving margins and markups, sometimes deriving final amounts from those, sometimes going the other way, and it all had to add up correctly. This is, just so we're clear, a lot more complex than it sounds. Computers are machines built to do math, but they are very opinionated about the math they do. You see, for humans a number is a number, but to a program running on the JVM, a number is a byte, a short, an int, a long, a float, or a double (and sometimes also a boolean) and these different types don't inherently play nicely together. If you take $1 and add $.75 to it, the computer may just tell you it can't do that unless you convert the 1 to a 1.

Memory Leaks: Mega Man X

👨 X Marks The Spot... Mega Man  was one of Capcom's biggest franchises in the 8-bit era and the titular hero is arguably their most recognizable character. The games were based around a central gimmick: you can play the levels in any order, and after you defeat the boss, you gain their power. This makes for a rock-paper-scissors puzzle where you have to figure out what weapons are useful against what enemies and, therefore, which order to confront them. This simple formula got re-hashed over and over, churning out title after title throughout (and, frankly, beyond) the lifecycle of the original Nintendo. A month after the release of Mega Man 6  in Japan came Mega Man X , which reinvented the franchise for the Super Nintendo, upgrading our upgradable with even more new abilities. How I Remember It... For the longest time we thought the name of this game was Mega Man 10 . It wasn't until Mega Man X 2  came out that we realized the X wasn't a roman numeral. So that's funn

Stray Thoughts: Solitary Man

🎥 I'll be what I am... Solitary Man  is a 2009 film starring Michael Douglas. I saw it shortly after it came out (because I was seeing everything  shortly after it came out those days) and even though I only watched it the once, I found myself thinking about it quite a lot. In the last year or so I rented it to see how it stacked up to my memory, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I still find it quite affecting. Spoilers ahead. Douglas plays Ben Kalmen, a successful car dealer who, in the opening scene, is talking with his doctor and receiving some "troubling news" about his heart. Fast forward six years, and we find Ben in the throes of a self-indulgent death spiral. Since getting his troubling news his personal and professional life have crumbled due to a series of affairs, bad business decisions, and even outright fraud. He's lost any clout he might have had in the community. He has no friends. The one thing he's got going for him is that he's a