Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Geek Guitar Hero

So I'm playing Guitar Hero III last night on the Wii, and my wife (who tried once and gave up on it) asks how I can manage to follow all those circles coming down the screen so fast.

"Well, I don't," I say, not really taking my eyes off the screen.  "It's like typing.  When I know the next five words or so that I want to type, I don't really sit and think about every letter of every word, I just sort of batch up those groups of letters and then send them off to my fingers, which do the typing subconsciously."

I turn my head and realize she's giving me a look like I'm an alien.

"Doesn't everybody type like that?" I ask.

Apparently not.


I have been thinking, ever since I got this game, how it is really about pattern matching.  It's not like, particularly in the tricky bits, you're sitting there saying to yourself "Green green red, red red yellow, yellow yellow blue, Green green red, red red yellow, yellow yellow blue..."  You spot the pattern immediately -  Ax2 B, Bx2 C, Cx2 D, repeat.  And then once you've got that locked into your fingers, all your eyes are really doing is looking for the break in the pattern.

I'm no expert on the thing by a long shot - I've beaten it on medium, that's about it.  But I think that at some point it switches over to being more about the dexterity of moving your hand around, than anything else.  I like medium level because your fingers each get assigned a color and you never move them.  On the songs I practice I tend to run up streaks over 400 notes and get like 99% accuracy, usually failing either right at the beginning before I've picked up the pattern, or in the middle of a long repetitive pattern because I got lazy with the timing.  And I've only really clocked maybe 10 hours with the thing.

But then you switch to hard mode, where there's more buttons than fingers and you do have to keep taking your fingers off their assigned buttons, I suck.  Really bad.  Like, I can't get past the first level without getting booed off the stage.  I think it's neat that the difference is so drastic. It's because it didn't just get incrementally harder, it became about an entirely different skill set. You can ease from easy (3 buttons) into medium (4 buttons) because the general "my finger is assigned to this button" rule still applies.  But going from medium to hard (5 buttons) completely messes that up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quote Of The Day

Via AIM:

(11:07:04 AM) e: My entire team is WFH today
(11:07:06 AM) e: so I dont feel toooo bad.
(11:07:46 AM) d: funny, my entire team is WTF today



(* WFH is Working From Home, just in case that's not obvious.  If I have to explain WTF it's not funny anymore.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

An Interrogative Statement, times 4

So I'm building a URL and the base comes from a config file where I don't know whether it's coming in with parameters.  I want to add some parameters, so I need to know if my separator should be ? or &.  I'm not doing anything fancy, just a quick string concat.  Here's how the statement came out, I thought it was funny:


separator = base.include?("?") ? "&" : "?"


Thursday, February 07, 2008


Want to have some fun?  It's pretty much offseason for sports now, unless you're a basketball fan, but baseball's not too far away.

Here's what you do.  When there's some live sports on tv, invite friends over who do not have Tivo or some other DVR service.  Then, in the middle of the game? Pause it.

Listen for the screams.

Without fail I've found that sports fans who are not also Tivo fans hate it when you mess with the broadcast.  We geeks who live by our Tivo can't imagine watching tv any other way.  Missed a play? Want your own replay in super slowmo? You've got it.  No worries.  And you can skip timeouts and commercials.

But man, there's nothing quite like the helpless begging of a sports fan during a big game who says every thirty seconds "Are we live yet?  So, we don't know what the real score is?  Can we fast forward?"  I don't quite know what it is.  They should be able to take a deep breath and realize that not only are they not missing anything, but if I fast forward like they ask, they WILL.  So what's their problem?  I can't quite figure it out.  It's not like in the 15 minute window between my Tivo'd copy and the live stream, somebody is going to call us on the phone and say "DID YOU SEE THAT PASS?  HE CAUGHT IT AGAINST HIS HELMET!"

Actually I take that back, that has happened, so the rule in my house is not to answer the phone while watching a buffered game :).