11/2021

Monday, November 01, 2021

Vote BU 2021

Having trouble deciding on your elected officials tomorrow? Write me in! Here is my eminently actionable platform, which I'm sure we can all agree upon:

  1. Videos will not be allowed to leap free of a webpage and follow you down the margin.

  2. Every time VDOT construction lane markings cause an accident in the rain or darkness, all Virginia drivers get $25 added to their EZPass account.

  3. The teens will be renamed for consistency and ease of learning: ten, ten-one, ten-two, ten-three, ten-four, ten-five, ten-six, ten-seven, ten-eight, and ten-nine.

  4. Logging in using Single Sign On will no longer flash through every page on the Internet in an epilepsy-inducing journey before taking you to the website.

  5. Hidden fees must be prominently displayed in the listing on all Sandbridge rental houses.

  6. PC games must load directly from Steam or the desktop without the overhead of a company-specific game launcher app.

  7. Music Library software will no longer make a separate category for every song in an album when there is a different featured artist in each one.

  8. LinkedIn will be forced to suppress any content unrelated to work, as well as posts where someone feels "humbled" by an opportunity.

  9. There will be a 30 character cap on the title for Amazon search results so counterfeit companies can't stuff the title with every keyword known to man.

  10. When more than 5% of the berries in a box at the grocery store have gone bad, the whole box is free.

tagged as lists, politics | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Offspring Comparison Day

The one on the left could sit up easily at 27 weeks, while the one on the right is too unwieldy. However, the one on the right has better natural camouflage with our updated decor and can reach the decibels of a lawnmower.

tagged as offspring | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, November 05, 2021

Review Day: Walkabout Mini Golf (Quest 2)

Walkabout Mini Golf is a fun, relaxing VR game that really captures the spirit of going to the mini golf course on your beach trip.

At just $15, the game is packed with more content than some games from big deal companies. There are 8 unique 18-hole courses (each with a separate Hard mode) with new ones being added for free regularly. Early courses are very reminiscent of classic mini golf tropes, while the later ones are more imaginative (ever golfed in space?). When you're done actually playing golf, each course also has treasure hunts that unlock new cosmetic balls and putters to play with.

The mechanics of putting are great, and the fine differences between hard and soft swings feel pretty real -- definitely better than anything the Wii used to do. Trying trick shots is fun, and you never have to wade into the water to get a lost ball. The only downside to putting is that you spend a lot of time looking down and then to the side, which is a little tiring with a heavy headset like the Quest 2.

There are two options for movement: a click-to-move to avoid motion sickness, and free walking/flying. I adapted to the flying over time and experience no motion sickness at all when I'm soaring over a golf course at high speeds. There's also a wonderful "click to get back near the ball" option so you don't have to adjust yourself just right to putt. The graphics are cartoony and not super detailed but the style works well. The music that plays on each course is a perfect complement and makes each round a pretty chill experience.

Walkabout Mini Golf also has an Internet multiplayer option (headset sharing would take too long to swap) which works as both a fun game to play and a framework for just talking to your friends. I can set up a private room with Anna and Ben and we can play mini golf while shooting the breeze. You can see the floating head and putter of each player, which lets you do silly things like lie down next to a hole or wave your arms as a distraction, much as you would on a real course.

This is the game I've played second-most (behind Beat Saber), and it's definitely a must-buy.

Final Grade: A

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, November 08, 2021

Stuff Maia Says Day

Maia: "I want to go to the grocery store with you but I also want to see who wins the Technical Challenge!"

Maia: "What does a bunny like to eat for dinner?"
RU: "I don't know. What?"
Maia: "No, I want you to make the joke."

BU: "And that's what eating at a restaurant is like."
Maia: "We should do this ALL the time!"

BU: "Ian keeps dropping food under the table."
Maia: "You should clean that right now!"

Maia: "Daddy, don't clean this up yet." (minutes after building something with blocks)
BU: "Why would I do that?"
Maia: "You always clean things."

BU: "Why don't you ever play the Special Cup?"
Maia: "I don't like falling in the lava on Bowser's Castle."

BU: "Fuschia is a complicated color. It's got some purple, some pink, some red..."
Maia: "It's called fuschia because there's a few colors in it."

tagged as offspring | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Puzzle Day

My work team is still in the depths of Puzzle Boat 8, having finished 65 puzzles in the past 19 days. While impressive, we still have 86 puzzles to go! I'm constantly impressed by the intricacy of these puzzle challenges from P & A Magazine. Each puzzle is approachable yet devious, with multiple "aha!" moments. Some of the puzzles require creative leaps, but everything remains internally consistent and solvable in retrospect.

To give you an example of the kind of puzzle-solving a Puzzle Boat takes, here's a puzzle from a previous year and how we solved it.

Phase I: There are rarely any instructions in a Puzzle Boat puzzle. You get a title, a cryptic clue in italics, and some kind of game board or clue list. The clues are usually approachable enough that you can start solving them without knowing where it's all going to end up.

As you fill in clues, some patterns might start to emerge. Maybe every answer starts with the same prefix, or uses certain letters of the alphabet. Here, we noticed that there was an extra word in each clue that didn't fit. For example, "Dawson's Creek" is a long-running show but has nothing to do with boating.

Phase II: Eventually you reach the point where all the clues have been solved but a final answer is not apparent. This is when the next creative leap is required. Based on the italicized clue in this puzzle, we looked at the "Best in Show" winners in the Westminster Dog Show for the years listed at the bottom of the page.

We noticed that each dog's (crazy) name used 3 words from our clue answers and that the extra words made a brand new clue. For example, the 2018 dog's name used BELLE, CREEK, and LOVE, and the extra words were PUSSYCAT'S BOATING PARTNER. The answer to this, of course, is OWL.

We solved each new riddle and ended up with 15 new answers, matching the dated boxes on the bottom of the original puzzle page. At this point, something seemed wrong. Some of the answers we came up with weren't long enough to match the numbers in the boxes. For example, the 2017 box answer was "RUMP", so the "11" there couldn't be used as a length or an index (the 11th letter).

We sat here stumped for several days until someone had another inspiration, based on the italicized clue about hidden cats. (We had previously looked at cat shows to no avail).

Final Step: In the midst of puzzle delirium, a teammate realized that our 15 new answers were fragments from the names of cats from CATS:

These names were long enough that we could now use the boxed numbers as indexes and extract certain letters to make one final riddle: "BOREANAZ ON BONES". The final answer (which we type into the website to confirm) was the name of the character that David Boreanaz plays on that show. As one last bit of cleverness, the answer is always related somehow to the puzzle's title.

I spend equal amounts of time each year feeling brilliant about solving the puzzles and in awe of the puzzle-maker's skill at creating hundreds of these every year!

tagged as games, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, November 12, 2021

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

6:24 AM: Up for a Beat Saber workout.
7:14 AM: Showered and ready for work.
7:31 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
8:39 AM: Pre-pre-school colouring session.
9:25 AM: Still working.
10:35 AM: Not helping me with work.
11:14 AM: Clam chowder and Puzzle Boat for lunch. 82 puzzles solved.
2:12 PM: Currently using rolling as a form of transportation.
3:21 PM: Very excited to go to Grandma and Grandpa's for the weekend!
5:42 PM: Practicing his major scales.
6:00 PM: Panera for dinner.
7:07 PM: Waiting for bedtime.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, November 15, 2021

Easy Photos Day

Images from Maia's weekend at Grandma's

This 48 piece puzzle probably did not take nearly as long as the grandparents had hoped.

Riding an eagle while grandma tries to get out of the shot.

Always time for a good dig, even when it's 50 degrees outside.

Grandpa's new neighbours own two bunnies, Snowball and Waffle!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Maia's Art Day

I post these pictures, not because I think the world should be excessively excited about the art of small children, but because I'd like Maia to see them ten years in the future and don't want to keep a file cabinet full of scraps in perpetuity.

Bunnies remain her primary choice for drawing.

This diorama is "Everyone is lined up to go to bunny's yard sale. The line is long because Sloth can't decide what to buy."

Here's a rainbow and a sun. I don't know where she decided that suns should have spirals in the middle, but I like her style.

"You're a bird in this maze and you have to collect all the berries on the way to the exit for the winter."

"This is Bunny wearing a mask on July 6, getting 3 presents, turning 3, and 'quite good' sparkly pink." I don't know what the end of the sentence means, but she was adamant that I insert 'quite good' in there.

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, November 19, 2021

Review Day: New World (PC)

New World, the ambitious new MMO from Amazon Game Studios is a happy mess, getting just as much right as it gets wrong.

The Good

There are no classes or dead ends in character development. Every character can practice and improve every skill, and each build is designed around picking two types of weapon and swapping between them. You can only have two characters, which gives incentive to really grow attached to your character and explore lots of different builds and professions.

In contrast to World of Warcraft, which has become so simplified and streamlined that you can level up by turning on your computer, New World moves at a more stately pace. Servers are capped at 2000 players and with the decision to have no mounts, you spend a lot of time running around and actually seeing other people playing around you.

The cycle of running, gathering, fighting, and returning to town works very well. You can get into a Zen state of chopping down trees, finding beehives, or searching for chests without much effort -- perfect for winding down at the end of the day while getting distracted by something on your other monitor.

The graphics and sound quality are phenomenal. Everything about the graphical style is great to look at and the spatial audio sound of your pickaxe bouncing off an iron node in the woods compared to a canyon really sells the experience.

The Bad

Combat is clunky. Queuing up actions sometimes works and sometimes fails. It's impossible to fluidly change weapons especially when monsters are making your character stagger all over the place.

The story is nonexistent, which is fine. However, the questing is absolutely awful. Quests boil down to "loot X chests" or "kill Y monsters" -- it's like playing Skyrim or Fallout 4 but only doing the "Radiant" quests. You often get sent to do a quest far away only to get back to town and find that the follow-up quest takes you back to the same area. Sometimes you have have to open 5 chests and there are only 5 chests in the entire zone, so you waste your life fighting respawning monsters while searching for the 1 chest you missed (only to find it graphically glitched under a floor).

All of the major areas on the map are copy-pasted -- once you've seen one town, the next town will be the same but rotated 10 degrees. This makes questing even worse because you don't even get to see any new scenery.

Player vs. Player combat is gate-kept to level 50 and above, so there is no easy way to learn as you play, and no easy way to influence which towns your factions have control over. In my case, I was having a great time running around while my home town was controlled by my own faction. After a power shift, we lost two towns and all the related bonuses. Travel costs, market costs, and everything else skyrocketed and fun plummeted.

All in all, I got 57 hours of enjoyment out of this game which meets my needs (I only reached level 34). The game is $40 without a subscription fee and has a lot of potential. However, it was clearly released way too early and will likely struggle to correct all of its shortcomings before a critical mass of people have moved on to something else. I hope it does, though! I might revisit again in a year's time, but it's not worth my time to play in its current state.

Final Grade: C+

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, November 22, 2021

Data Day: Family Letters

Here are all of the letters you need to spell our family's names.

REBECCA prevents this from being a pleasing shape. Had I married a MOIRA, we could have made two perfect bunny ears!

tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

BD Cartoon Day, Part III

a selection of original cartoons from the business development Slack channel I maintain at work









Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Day

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Monday, November 29, 2021

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

  • Events
    • Braved the throng of CRTers to vote for governor on T 11/2.

    • Maia caught a cold and stayed home from preschool on F 11/5 - T 11/9.

    • Rebecca taught anatomy at an IPY Yoga Teacher Training session on S 11/7.

    • Maia went to my parents' for the weekend, F 11/12 - S 11/14.

    • We had a Friendsgiving with Tammy on S 11/13.

    • We had early Thanksgiving dinner with my parents on S 11/14.

    • Rebecca and Maia went to Taylorstown for the day while I stayed home working on puzzles on S 11/21.

    • Rebecca got her COVID booster shot on W 11/24.
    • Thanksgiving lunch with Char on H 11/25.

    • Thanksgiving take-out with Tom on S 11/27.

    • Attended Justin's virtual bar Mitzvah on S 11/28.

    • Got my COVID booster shot on M 11/29.

  • Projects
    • Engaged in an ongoing, unfulfilled battle to eliminate a mouse in the house.

    • Drilled through walls to move the router and printer out of Ian's room.

    • Put up our Christmas stuff starting the day after Thanksgiving.

    • Finished all 151 puzzles in Puzzle Boat 8 on T 11/30, just in time for Advent of Code.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching Arcane and listening to its soundtrack this month.

    • No new movies or games this month.

November's Final Grade: A-, Ian is getting easier and the holidays are fun!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

 

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