NoshBar's Dumping Ground

Over the past few years (for a million different self and non-self inflicted reasons) I have become insanely uptight, often getting upset about things I don’t actually care about.

Deep down, I’m incredibly relaxed and calm, and nothing bugs me, because it’s all just life, and we’re all going to die in the end anyway, so who cares.

However, I must have decided somewhere along the way that I didn’t deserve to be happy, or perhaps just layers of crap started to form on top of the don’t-care-core, smothering it. I didn’t deal with things right there and then, so more and more crud formed, in the end it left me as some sort of walking guilt-sponge that feared everything.

I felt fear when wanting to do anything at all. I’ve always been indecisive, but this was crippling.

However, the biggest problem for me (consciously observed) was that my coding -the only thing I was sure I still enjoyed- was suffering.

I would sit in front of my PC knowing what I wanted to do, but filled with fear that it would be the wrong way. I felt like I had to think things through a million times before I even started typing. Once I did start typing, I thought “if this ever gets code reviewed, this is wrong, I could do this better…”, it was torture.

I like to think that I care very little of what others think of me, but in this state, I had started to care, or at least, started to judge myself in a way I thought others would, worse than the real thing because I’m far more harsh on myself as I wouldn’t hold back.

To me, coding has always been a creative thing, a silly statement to make perhaps, but there are those who see it as logic that can be done in one correct way only.
And that’s the thing, I had become dulled, my creativity replaced by doubt.

Then I started working on Drumpster again, I sat down with the source, admiring how well I had thought things through. I had worked on it for quite a while, re-engineering it many times to be “better”, so much so that the functionality was almost non-existent.

Then came the day where I wanted to generate textures on start-up, needing to blur things, draw circles, basic primitive stuff. I had a buffer of bytes for the texture, needing to draw to them.

Something clicked.

All of a sudden my body was filled with a sensation of joy and freedom, my brain tsunami’ing full of memories from when I was younger, mode 13, 0xA0000000… I started typing like a maniac who types very well (considering he was never taught). It all just flowed through me, the joy of being creative, not giving a damn how gross the code ended up being (and man oh man, is it gross… awesome!).
It was like the good old days, when I knew what I wanted as an end goal, discovering how to program what I wanted along the way, with little thought towards architecture or style that had been dictated to me.

Since then, I have been trying to deal with things about/involving me that I know have been wrong for years, talking about them with the awesome people in my life, sitting in my head thinking a lot, crying in the shower like Ace Ventura, zoning out during meetings with the squirrels more than usual.

I also created a new program, my HelperMonkeyBot (coming to a download near you soon… if you dare!)… also of extremely dubious technical Kwality… but it works, was fun to write, and continues to be fun to hack in.

It gives me confidence and strength I need to talk about things, to see that they aren’t all my fault, and to realise that I don’t care, despite being conditioned to care and worry about every single thing.

So while I’m nowhere near the sugar-explosion-hyperactivity me of old, and I’m still wracked with fear, I’m working through this, coding with a smile on my face, finally able to start dealing with things, fortunate enough to have someone awesome who listens and talks sense to me.

And sure, work is still work, where I code professionally and do the right thing, but my personal life is just that, it’s mine, no one else’s, so screw you all.

Happy code is happy life.

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One of the most vile things someone could say.

“But I thought you said you didn’t get cold”
No, I said I like the cold. Implying that I realise it IS cold, implying I am able to get cold, and simply like that I may get warm in it, or cool down easily.

And therein lies the problem.

It never seems like a question, which it really should be. It should be someone clarifying what they REMEMBER you saying against what you really did. A friendly reminder to carry on discussion.
But it rarely is. It’s a statement, normally accusational, one that puts you on such a backfoot that you can’t even remember what you said originally.

Hell, even if I did say I “never got cold”, and even if you were NUH enough to accept such a ludicrous statement as pure fact… there are exceptions, right? Perhaps I am ill, perhaps it is colder than I have ever felt, perhaps my faith in human-kind has fallen to an all-time low and the hollowness inside is causing more energy-loss than usual.

It’s a statement to beat someone with.

Almost like you’ve been building up some sort of resentment towards someone for little things they do, but you’ve had nothing you could really latch your anger onto… and then this opportunity to call them out on something (“LIAR!”, “Misleader!”, “I AM RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG WHORE, HAHAH!”) comes up, and you pounce at it, “But I thought you said you didn’t kill hookers anymore?”… sheesh, we all have our off days.

We all say things about ourselves to the world as a hint of who we are, or at least who we like to think we are.
It isn’t all true, but it isn’t a lie. Perceptions and opinions are not fact, if anything, they should be exciting things we can discuss with glee and become closer because of it.

Here’s to being more observant of my tongue, hoping that phrase shall never leave my mouth again.

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So, games are evil, we all know that. I just thank God that someone is doing research to figure out just how evil.

The general point of the article I have linked to, is that gamers can’t tell the difference between the fantasy game world and the real world, and how that’s a bad thing.

They have a point. Sometimes I struggle to tell the difference too, and end up doing evil things in GTA4, such as driving an ambulance, being an honest cop, and obeying the rules of the road.
Sometimes, just sometimes, while playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn, I get the desire to grab some scissors and thread and violently fix the ventilation hole by the crotch of my trousers.
Don’t even get me started on Dance Central… the results should not be witnessed by the innocent and untainted (actually, that part is true).

That aside, one of my favourite quotes from the article is how a guy would love to be able to use a “search button” to find someone in a crowd. That kind of revolting evil makes my skin crawl, almost as much as the guy who wants to use a gravity gun to pick a sandwich up.

All this talk almost sounds like people trying to think of solutions… almost as if… they were inventing… with… with an imagination! Why, could you imagine how quickly the Hellmouth would open if someone were to invent some sort of electronic book that you could search through?

Sure, they mention the usual “I did play Grand Theft Auto and then wanted to drive through pedestrians on the pavement, like”… well, good! Let’s weed out the mentally unhinged… it’s far more difficult to get that kind of massacre right than it is to be a smart and silent serial killer, nigh on impossible to catch.

And hey, gamers finding a cure for HIV quicker than scientists is just going to lead to over-population and quicker depletion of natural resources… I think I’m going to be sick.

Books, movies, games, daydreaming… lobotomies for all, I say!

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There’s a board outside a church on the way to work that receives new (or recycled) inspirational message weekly.

Some are printed out neatly by a dot matrix that hasn’t been able to kill itself yet, others are seemingly written in the scabby leftovers of crayons that have had all their sharp bits shaved off.

The one that pisses me off the most is the following incredibly witty saying:
“Have you read my best seller? – God”

I have several unfair problems with this:

  • The book itself claims that God is omnipotent, so surely he’d know if I’ve read it? Or is he just being a chick and asking something he knows the answer to already, but just wants to beat me with my answer?
  • God claiming he wrote the book is like Katie Price claiming she wrote hers…
  • …then again, at least Katie Price goes to bookstores and makes an appearance to meet her followers (All hail The Jordan!).
  • Instead of asking me silly questions, why not hang out with me and tell me stuff? All my other imaginary friends do…

(I sit on the bus with my camera primed, eagerly awaiting the return of the one that says: “All welcum”)

Patenting the rectangle

Where I grew up, certain products were kept out of our country because we were racist bastards who treated people like slaves (when we weren’t too busy killing them).
Seemingly, now all it takes is for one product to look slightly like another one. Yay for progress!

I am so educated

Overheard guy1 telling guy2 that Hugo Weaving was in Glasgow filming Cloud Atlas… guy2 had no idea who that was.
“The actor from The Matrix, and from Captain America
I’m so manly, that the first thing I thought of was “He’s the guy from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.

I blame YOU lesbian ex-girlfriend and co.

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Good-bye Lhythm. Good-bye trying to be professional.

I wanted to see if I'd enjoy drumming, as before I had tried playing the piano and guitar to varying degrees of outstanding non-success.

Being paranoid when it comes to doing things that make a noise (especially as a foreigner living in a flat), a real drum kit was out of the question.
Electronic kits are awesome, but quite expensive for a test to see if I can indeed move my arms as if they're not joined at their sweet little siamese hips.

It all went down a little something like this:

  • Bought an el cheapo Wii USB Rock Band 1 drum kit off Amazon (12GBP) just over a year ago, to use with FoFiX.
  • FoFiX turned out to be great! I themed it to hell and back, got songs of bands I love... but I needed more.
  • Bought Rock Band 1 for the Wii, which scored me more harshly, but slowly I managed to get up to medium difficulty without the TV throwing up.
  • Sucked it up and bought a Roland HD-1 VDrum set, as I was now sure that I would enjoy this whole beating-things stuff.
    (the set remained untouched for a year though)
  • Bought the Roland HD-1 drum tutor thing. Burnt the CD with salt and holy water and went to my happy place. The interface just didn't work for me.
  • Then I thought "Hey! I want FoFiX on the TV!"... my first generation AppleTV (sitting in a puddle of its own tears) stuck its hand in the air screaming "OOH OOH! PICK ME!"
  • So I went through the absolute hell of trying to compile FoFiX, giving up, and eventually copying the OSX binaries over to the AppleTV, working through each one of the missing libraries it required one by one... eventually, it was _almost_ playable.
  • No matter what I did (loads of setting tweakery), I couldn't stop the frequent stuttering, which really affected the awesome scores I otherwise undoubtably would have received.
  • As is the natural next step for any coder, I thought "I'll make my own clone! It won't use any CPU power at all, and it will draw sprites using a thread in another dimension! And it'll be radder than anything else ever! Perhaps an MMORPG version..."
  • An hour an evening for a week was spent on creating the world's suckiest FoFiX clone, I posted a video of it, and I was proud that someone as stoopid as me could get it right.
  • Bought the Band Hero package for super cheap (thanks HotUKDeals) and danced with glee like a little schoolgirl to the sight of the extra cymbal.
  • Eventually-will-be-related: O2 had a sale on Jogglers, so I bought 2, in case one got dirty.

Then a year of hell passed in which not much except crying happened.

  • I bought Rock Band 3 and the MadCatz MIDI adapter and plugged my Roland HD-1 into it
  • I was temporarily happy
  • Needed more songs, so Lego Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band were bought for their content in Rock Band 3
  • But still... needed... more songs... and wanted to start learning how to use both feet at same time (hi-hat and bass)...
  • Thought, "My Joggler! I can stick it to my drumkit with pretty ribbons and use it as a teaching aid!", and it's a perfect low-powered PC target (being a crusty 1.3GHz netbook with a touchscreen)

So I finally went back to my FoFiX clone, spent an hour an evening for a week on it again, rewriting it mostly from scratch (seeing as the possessed side of me seemed to have written the first version), testing it on my Joggler, and that's where I am today.

Drumpster is an awefully poor choice of name for this project, as looking at the code reveals that I could easily cater for other instruments, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it (which, let's face it, will be approximately: never).

As it is right now, Drumpster is nothing but an unfinished MIDI to Rock Band display converter.

Things it does right now:

  • Accepts any "real" (GM notes) or FoFiX (different difficulties, 4 tracks only) MIDI file
  • Displays real drum notation as Rock Band 3 Pro style tracks
  • Caters for open and closed hi-hat (eat THAT Rock Band 3)
  • Has a small footprint (~90Kb on Windows and Linux) and runs smoothly on low powered devices

Things it doesn't do right now, but will "soon" (all present and working in the old code, needs to be ported/rewritten):

  • Let you pick songs (with this in place, I will release the first beta version)
  • Accept any input (native code and RtMidi)
  • Score
  • Have any sound output at all (PortAudio and Tremor for OGG)
  • Be pretty enough to be able to look at for longer than 10 seconds before weight loss initiates.
  • many other things I am keeping secretive about because they're so unique that no one else could ever think of them and would just steal them because I am a unique and beautiful snowflake

TL;DR: Basically I aim to have something that lets you play FoFiX or plain MIDI songs displayed as Rock Band 3 style tracks (but with open/closed hi-hat), optionally accepting input from computer keyboard, MIDI instrument or joystick (or all 3 at once) and scoring you on it.

To the CodeMobile [tm]!

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