So apparently I lost a lot of my last-recent UT99/UT2004 work

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I got tired of the website looking so cruddy, when I went reminiscing through my old Unreal Tournament -related posts, so I fixed 'em all up with proper images and download links... where I could.  As it turns out, I guess I LOST the last, most-updated versions of my work!  The stuff that I didn't explicitly post on one of the longer-lasting mod sites (Mapraider... Moddb... etc), well, at least some of it is gone.  I had a plain DeathMatch version of GraveyardHills and OldManMountain that I know I can't find any more.  Most of my TO:Crossfire maps are questionably not the most-recent versions.  It seems I lost my OBJ-BrokenFaith remake entirely - I don't even have a working early version of it.  But thankfully there is a version of OBJ-Crackhouse that is still around, and looks pretty final!  Whew.  That's probably one of my most important treasures.

Anyway, the site now has links at the top-right here to ALL my files.  And as I sort through my mess of CD backups (no, I've already scoured them for these that I know are missing), I'll post my favorite stuff up there as well.

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Comparisons, or What's the best tool for the job?

>> Thursday, September 13, 2018

Digital tools are different than regular ones, especially in one aspect.  You don't necessarily even know what's OUT there, to consider as an option.  Searching only gets you so far. So, what tools are available for helping you find what tools are available?

First, let's jump back to that searching thing. You can enter whatever particular tool that you know of and append "vs" to it.  So, like you can just type in something ilke "Bizplan vs" and sift through the results to see what else is available. Ultimately, through using this technique, you'll probably come across sites that purport to do these kinds of comparison for you.  There are ton of such review sites, naturally, because not only can they place ads for revenue while you compare, but they might also have affiliate revenue gatherered from recommending one of these to you.  Don't worry too much about that - they are indeed providing a good service to you.  Well, worry a little.  Some of them go about it in the wrong way, like trying to capture your data for further sales.  You don't need more spam filling up your inbox.  Here are a few great comparison sites to remember:

GetApp.com - Based in Spain, this site has a clean, modern design and ultimately gets you to a point where you can see your comparisons of Saas offerings, listed side-by-side in a chart.  That's sweet.  No registration is required, but you can create an account and start adding your own reviews, bookmark apps that you like, or get recommendations based on the type of industry you are interested in.

Slant.co - Any product. Any category.  It's like a socially-driven mashup of a question site, and a product review site.  It's a bit like an "anything goes" review site for anything, but it works.  Registration is NOT required, but you can create an account to remember your favorites, add reviews, and so forth.  There's a karma system in place for building a reputation.

AlternativeTo.net - A very reliable source for finding popular OR little-heard-of options for software of varying type, either Saas, downloadable, mobile, plugin, or many other types of digital products.  No registration required, but it is available for organizing your activity on the site; lists, likes, comments, and so forth.

ConsumerReports.com - A well-known product review site, this one is basically a for-profit company that puts out reviews of anything and everything.  They started as a physical journal and migrated successfully to the web.  You can pay for a membership or use the site for one-off searches, for free.  Membership will allow you to keep ongoing searches with notifications for updates, that kind of thing.

Amazon reviews - Amazon sells anything, or allows people to sell anything and takes a cut.  Y'all know that.  And y'all know there are product reviews on there.  The problem with all this is that you can't explicitly TRUST these reviews.  There are so many ways to artificially inflate or deflate the value of an Amazon product review; some people are paid to go out and review stuff. Some companies send customers free merch for nicer reviews - and some do it legitimately, just sending stuff without asking/demanding a good review, but that kind of action usually DOES influence opinion.  So sure, glance at the product on Amazon but savor it with a grain of salt.

Appstore reviews - this is one trick that I don't always even think of... if a service or website has a mobile app, then DEFINITELY go check out the reviews posted about it.  These are, like the Amazon reviews, probably easily malleable, AND they can go out of date easily, if the developer updates but the user doesn't change their review. However I have found it's a good place to get a feel of how the user is treated by the company, which is an important sign.

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UT files moved for now to Box

>> Thursday, December 01, 2016

I never got around to recreating my website after GoDaddy took away the free account that came with my domain.  At some point I'll find a new host.  For now, I've dumped the Vehicle Index at: https://app.box.com/s/po0ncmqpdxkjxwnz4qo4y6dgn800b6yp

Ping me if there's any issues :)

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Blowback

>> Sunday, June 12, 2016

This is a poem intended to wake people up and help them realize that fighting begets fighting, and that war is unacceptable. The only solution is to stop fighting, first.

I don't know where the bombs come from.
Or I do, but I don't know why.
Someone, somewhere, decided
that it's okay for me to die.

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The Foos, by CodeSpark

>> Sunday, March 22, 2015

My kids are interested in learning to program. Maybe it's because their dad already does that, or maybe it's because they want to create a My Little Pony game, or a Skylanders game of their own.  Either way, there are a lot of resources available to children nowadays to learn this wonderful skill.

I took a look at The Foos, by CodeSpark.org, having read about their efforts some time ago.  I was pleased to realize that this first game of theirs is out already, so both I and my 7-year-old son took a look at it.

First off, it's fun and has a light-hearted personality, appealing to boys and girls alike. There are no detailed instructions, relying instead on as-you-go tutorial learning. That is, it tells you which piece to use and when, for the first time you need to use any particular piece. On each level you are to collect the star, and as many coins as you can, for a good score.  Occasionally there's a silly-looking miscreant type of character opposing your progress somehow, and sometimes your mission is to capture the little guy.

The game teaches logic, patterns, and situation assessment. There's almost never a need to hurry through any particular level, although on occasion there is merit to finish quickly. You play by choosing a series of actions available to your character, and then allowing him or her to play through those actions all at once. In this aspect, it reminds me a bit of a boardgame by Wizards of the Coast called RoboRally, or the more-recent clone of that one called Robot Turtles (which raised kazoodles of funding on Kickstarter).  Of the board games, I prefer RoboRally, but it IS more complex than the Turtles.  I digress.  The Foos is very lenient in how you're allowed to solve each level.  You can program and reprogram your character's actions as many times as you want, and it only affects the rating you receive for finishing.

On the downside, the Foos is remarkably short.  There's a sort-of subtitle associated with the game where they call it the "hour of code" and for kids that's probably about right.  For adults it would take a lot less time than that to finish - I did it in about 15 minutes, I think!  Once you're finished with the missions provided, there is a sandbox area that you can play in.  The sandbox was actually a little confusing; you could use the coins you collected to buy additional characters, but once you started playing around, there really wasn't much you could DO other than move.

Overall, it seems that The Foos is a nice, little distraction that introduces the younger set to the world of "if-then".  Considering that it's free and is available on every platform (it's built in Unity), it's definitely worth letting your little ones check it out.  Just keep in mind that it won't last long.


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Education is Everywhere

>> Friday, March 20, 2015

When I was growing up, there were a very few educational programs, and even then it was hard to justify the dollars spent. Of course, I wasn't the one spending money at that time, either, so what do I know?  Only that the educational apps I had access to were pretty much: Type Attack! annnd... well, I'm sure there must have been others.  I know there was Mavis Bacon Teaches Typing, but we never had that one.  I suppose the Oregon Trail counts as some kind of educational entry, but that's really pushing the limit.

Nowadays, kids are blessed with apps aplenty, and just as watching shows can be done anywhere, at any time, these are mobile and online, or social and offline, or any combination thereof. I'm glad my kids are growing up with such blessings.

I'll start posting new articles about various apps that I love - and that my kids love - for teaching them language, math, reading, and all sorts of skills.  My wife and I have children that cover a range of ages, so there's a lot to cover!

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Gleeo Time Tracker

>> Tuesday, March 05, 2013

This is an Android app that I use daily; Gleeo Time Tracker which fairly obviously is used for tracking time worked on jobs/projects/etc.  The interface is at first a little awkward, but is really great once you get used to it.  Other users of the app seem to feel the same, saying that it's nearly perfect but could use a few tweakings like the addition of pie charts or fewer taps to get to the reporting.  I'm fine with the current status of those particular features, but what I would like to see is buttons that are just slightly larger so that I don't accidentally tap on things I don't intend to.  I'm speaking about the buttons at the outer edges of the screens. It's not a big deal, though.

The features are discovered bit by bit as you use it more; quick categorization of the tasks on different projects is great.  Custom colors are very nice, although perhaps there could be greater contrast in them. I love the flexible exporting feature and use that a lot. Actually, you could easily create your own pie charts by doing that, come to think of it.

Does any one use other time reporting software that should be noted?  I'll take a look if so!

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