A simple model of selection

Inspired by Dawkins’ METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL program (hereafter just weasel) described in his book “The Blind Watchmaker,” and wanting to practice my blossoming C++ skills, I decided to write my own version of weasel. It was successful enough, and I found the results interesting enough to warrant discussion. Download the program (Windows .exe file) so you can try it out for yourself (and you can also get the source code if you want). In this post I’ll discuss what the program does and why. In the next post I’ll talk a bit about the results of the program.


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Bioshock and F.E.A.R. 2 make me cry

Like a baby. And not just any baby. These games make me cry as if I am a baby whose teddy bear was taken out of one hand and shredded by an evil clown and whose candy was taken out of the other. And then the baby was punched in the face. After being flicked in the eyes.

I know that Bioshock is and old game at this point, which is why I bought it in the first place (on sale on Steam!), and I had often heard that it was quite creepy. But seriously. I crawl through the game, quicksaving every two or three minutes, afraid to go into any unexplored areas. The makers did an absolutely amazing job of making Bioshock as creepy as possible. I decided to quit playing last night after I was in a room that suddenly filled with steam, then heard running, and when the steam cleared I turned around to find a bloodied mutant surgeon with a weapon standing RIGHT BEHIND ME.

I had just finished downloading the F.E.A.R. 2 demo on Steam, so I thought I’d give it a shot to calm my nerves. The original FEAR was great and, though creepy at times (especially the last 10 minutes) was entirely bearable.

From the very beginning of the FEAR2 demo, it was clear that this was going to be a different game. The opening scene is creepier than any of the scenes in the older game, and that damn little ghost girl is back! The game starts with a massive explosion, and you find yourself waking up where everything is blood-red, you can hear your breathing and heart beating, and ghostly figures appear and disappear. After following the ghost girl into a fiery pit, your character wakes up for real next to a burned-out helicopter with its bent blades slowly spinning. There is, of course, blood everywhere.

Your character then makes his way into a school building (either high or middle), where you have to kill a few soldiers (who, like in FEAR1, are being controlled by the girl-ghost) and then suddenly ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Some teammate speaks over your radio saying, “I hear a woman crying, I’m going to go check it out,” which is obviously a horrible idea.

Now you are wandering through hallways with barricaded classroom doors and lockers lining both walls. You start to see ghostly figures flying in front of you from one classroom to another, leaving the doors swinging. As you walk toward a hallway intersection, a bunch of chairs and things sitting in the middle are suddenly pulled away (by nothing). The poltergeist shenanigans gets more and more pronouned as you proceed, with locker doors opening, lockrs falling over, doors falling to the ground etc. Finally, your vision starts strobing between somewhat blurry color and black and white, and the lockers at the far end of the hall starting opening themselves, faster and faster, until whatever is opening them blows by you. At this point, you start seeing ghosts flying toward you, and bleeding soldiers stuck to the ceiling and moaning.

I was taking this slow, but eventually I had to just run for it. Finally, I got to a door and, as it opened, a guy grabbed me and stared me in the eyes saying, “Stay away from her, SHE’S MINE!” Presumably he was talking about the girl-ghost. This was the guy who had radioed me earlier. Then, the whirlwind poltergeist action slams him against the wall, and me to the floor, my vision goes red, and when the guy falls to the ground HE GETS DISINTEGRATED!!!

Everything calmed down at this point, but I had to stop. If Bioshock is creepy, then FEAR2 is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. I was in a constant state of being adrenaline-pumped the entire time.

All in all, I only played both games for 20 minutes each before stopping, and then looked at cuteoverload.com for half an hour to calm down. There is nothing to stop an adrenaline leak like watching a sleepy kitten trying to stay awake!

Spore: please don’t buy it (yet)

I’ll write something longer about this later, but I just wanted to quickly add my expression of anger and frustration to the rest of the masses.

I had been looking forward to Spore’s release for years, quite literally. I pre-ordered it the first time it was supposed to come out and a major reason that I hooked myself up with a gaming desktop was so that I could play Spore for hours and hours before I took off on my traveling adventures.

Then I come to find out that, if I were to buy a copy of Spore, I wouldn’t actaully own it. I would only own three installations of the game. On top of that, it installs some kind of awful malware that EA uses to spy on you. And this is for paying customers. Meanwhile, the useless DRM was cracked several days before Spore was even release, and the pirates get to play the game without malware and without having to worry about losing their ability to play after a few installations. Maybe I should buy the game but then use the pirated version so that I don’t have to worry about breaking my computer…

In any event, I’m voting with my dollars along with a fairly substantial group of others. At $50, it makes no sense to pay for a game that breaks your computer and that you don’t even own. Vote with your dollars as well. Even just a thousand of us who want to buy it, but refuse to until the DRM is removed, will cost them $50,000.

Google chrome

Who would have thought that a browser would actually make the news? It’s been on NYT and CNN! I guess this is because Google has become a massive giant of a company, and this move is interesting for the competition between Microsoft and the Goog. This makes me excited for the day when Google is making operating systems for computers and phones, and has a web app for every imaginable need that I might have. I am a happy Google minion and, at least at the moment, feel safe in the knowledge that Google will eventually take over the world (and rename it Google Earth…)

Hahahahahahha.haha….. ha….


Anyway, I just wanted to throw my thoughts on this new shiny browser into the cloud with everyone else’s. Firstly, It is no Firefox. Chrome totally lacks any frills. Seriously, it has none. All it has is a smart search/address bar (which has been combined into one, unlike in most browsers). So you only have to go to the one bar (I believe they call it the “Omnibar”) to do all of your searching and direct moving needs.

My favorite thing about Chrome is how it rearranged everything. The app is tiny and fast, and the tabs have been moved into the Title bar! I have never seen any program do this, but I absolutely love that Google used up that normally-useless space so that more screen could be dedicated to actual internet pages. Brilliant. This is especially useful for those of us with tiny laptops (the Eee PC is not known for having a large monitor).

I have mixed feelings about the lack of frills, though since the browser is still in beta I have no idea what will be added in future editions. I like that it’s kept so simple, since it is basically designed to support web apps. But it has almost no customization ability. In both Firefox and IE, you can tell the browser to delete cookies after each session. You can’t in chrome. You can’t do anything in chrome.

Granted, most of these things are a bit unnecessary, I’d still like to be able to do them.

Either way, it’s impossible to screw up while using Chrome. All tabs operate independently, so that if one crashes all of your other tabs are fine. There are no options that you can fiddle with and end up breaking something, and in fact there are nearly no buttons to confuse you in the first place.

So I definitely recommend this browser. Though it doesn’t have the feeling of being your personal browser, like Firefox does, it does its job very well. Download it here. You will download a tiny installer (half a Mb) that will then install from the internet. As you install, it will do the usual asking if you want it to import settings and bookmarks from Firefox (or, Isis forbid, IE) and if you want to make it your default browser. You’ll probably want to start with “no” for that question, though if you don’t do anything fancy with your browser you should just go ahead and say “yes.”

Little Rocket Man

I got the gnome into the rocket! It ended up being fairly easy, with only a few difficult parts that made me want to punch something (like being chased by a helicopter in a vehicle that was not built to carry gnomes). I had mentioned this project in an earlier post, but I just decided to move it here with the remaining screen shots.

This is where I found him, underneath that shelf in the middle left of the picture.

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