Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Snow Day

I've been in Syracuse University for about two years now. One and half if you really want to do the counting.

It's come to my attention that in all those two years, I have never taken the time to stop and simply take in a snow-fallen landscape.
So tonight, just about two hours ago, I did.
I stopped in front of my dorm on the way back from dinner and instead of ambling inside, muttering a hello while flashing my card to the RSA, and tottering upstairs to this computer...I just stood outside, and didn't go in.

Anyone who knows me well enough know that I love big cities. Los Angeles, New York City, the bigger, the taller, the more sketchy, the better.
The Walnut Hall area, as far as I can acquaint it, is as close to the big city feel as you can get.
Sure, Marshall Street and downtown has bigger buildings.
But its like when you're watching Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and the animation is so superb, so fine tuned, so detailed, that you can't but help notice the minute differences between the animation and what's real, and in the end, it'll all be better if you just scaled it back.

That's what its like in Syracuse. Downtown, Marshall Street, you see the big buildings and you get the feeling that you're in a big city, until you start noticing the little things that tell you that....well...you're not in a big city. Its too quiet, for one. And too clean.

But right outside my dorm door...it may not seem like a big city at first glance, but stick around during the evening, and there are little things....small things that remind me of the city.
One of these things is a single, lone street lamp right across the small street in front of the door.
When its on at night it flickers, on and off, continually. And I like it.

I've always known it was there.
But until tonight, I hadn't really taken the time to take it in. To notice it. To ...appreciate it.
And everything was covered in white.
Every day up to today since the beginning of December I've known that the white stuff was coming down from the stratosphere to puff up the Earth in a blanket of pure cold.
Never really took the time to stop and look at it though.

Its funny how so many of the beautiful things around you spend ages ignoring while they're frolicking right in front of your eyes waiting for you to pay attention.
All you have to do is not want to go home.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A First Attempt At Some Real ActionScripting

There's snow by my window.

Absolutely exemplary the Syracuse weather spirits, the snow persists on even as we go into late February, the sky blessing and cursing us at the same time with light dustings of powdery stuff every so often to remind us that yes, we're in Syracuse, and yes, its fucking cold.

But in spite of a late winter that hadn't even kicked off by mid January, the snow is still retreating noticably fast, dashing aside any premonitions I had had about a late winter slodging on into May and perhaps even June.
We'll get flakes once every so often now, the pitiable little crystals plummeting from the sky in a valiant attempt to bring Syracuse back to its former hellishly wintry splendor, while the trees, the grass and the various foliage shed their skeletal winter coats and attempt to shine green again.

Its in the midst of all this, that I, like one single blade of grass trying to push through a foot of leftover snow, attempt my first mind-numbing foray into Flash Actionscripting.

Its in the midst of all this that I am reminded of why I dropped out of the Computer Science program senior year after having slogged through it my entire high school career.
Its not like its hard...no not at all. Its cake, compared to OpenGL or Java or any of those mass bigtime languages. Cake with icing and three cherries in fact.
Its just -picky-.

The interface for Flash, I found, is -extremely-, extremely click-sensitive. Not saying that it takes more or less pressure per click than any other program, but in saying that the interface is a lot less forgiving in terms of selecting objects and working with them and such.

First thing I did was give the pen tool another chance.
After trying half a dozen things that I could think of off the top of my head, consulting a few books, and trying some more things scraped up from the bottom of my braincase, I was still unable to move two control points across the screen.
I rewarded all of my hard work by deleting them.

Next I attempted to replicate one of the white line borders from the project below by drawing it manually...procedurally, as it were.
This process alone took me two hours. One single fucking white line took me two painstaking hours, most of which consisted of a random mixture of frustrated searchings, looking up tutorials, and occasional cries of "AGH WHAT THE FUCK" that ended up really confusing my roommate.

Finally, finally, I was able to create a single white line.
This white line was unable to move. And as hard as I willed it and wished it to move across the screen on its own, or maybe by the power of my mind, it remained resolutely in place.

So I deleted that too, and just used the line tool.

From there converting to a movie clip symbol was easily done enough. The coding was puttering on nicely until I tried to test the movie and it showed me the one line sitting on the left side of the screen.
It still wasn't moving.
Nevermind the fact that my code is supposedly telling it to run across the screen and do little flips and act like it was happy despite the fact that I could use up my hands and feeting counting and still have times left over where my roommate was confused with my shouting.
It still wasn't moving.

SO then, I took a breather, took a step, took a step -back-, and looked at the code and the timeline, and the symbols...everything.

Then I made two clicks and four keystrokes.
And suddenly it was working-


I had spent more than an hour and a half of frustrating shouting, typing, recoding, and saying inspiring words to my monitor trying to get this thing to work....and it was all done in two clicks and four keystrokes.

That's awesome.
And by awesome I mean its the most torturous thing I've been through in a while on the computer, and really brings to mind why I was never a -huge- fan of the compsci.

There's snow by my window.
Maybe I should go outside.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

And the whole city was burning.



More on this later.

Friday, February 04, 2005


Don't get me wrong.

Sciences of the mind, such as psychology, psychotherapy and neurology are, in my mind, some of the most mind-boggling sciences out there. It is within the realm of the mind-sciences that the mysterious Pandora's Box of the mind is thrown open to reveal what lies within, for better or for worse.
It is there that the human brain, to this day a mystery to man, is opened up like a mere pocketwatch so that we may see what it is that makes people tick.

Its a powerful tool, and a respectable field, and I'd call anyone who says otherwise a fool right into their face. Unless they were Mr. T. Cause nobody calls Mr. T a fool.

Anyways, its with this in mind that I say that I find my psychology course thus far to be utterly and completely useless.
Keep in mind, I've never studied psychology before. Maybe what I'm about to describe is the epitome of psychology...in which case I'm going to have seriously re-evaluate my views on psychology as a whole. I kind of don't want to.

I'd expect, in my psychology course, to be actually studying something useful. To be taking notes on how the mind works, the how and the why of what drives a human being to do what they do.

Instead, all I've been privy to is a handful of redfaced students giving garbled presentations at the front of the class of scientists that have contributed something to the field of psychology, and a few lectures that fulfill the endlessly helpful purpose of naming things that I already knew about. That most people with any sort of education or intelligence should know about, and ideally, have thought about.

At any rate, I need the extra credits this semester to make up for the credit fiasco that was second semester last year, so because I must fulfill my educational obligation to the University so that I can get myself a scrap of paper that declares that I know my shit, I will be staying on.

Here's to hoping it gets better.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I Said Gimme The Damned Vector!

Here's something I scanned in, a creation of my own.

Here's the original:

Her name is "Ghoul."

What exactly is Ghoul?
Experiment Code: 43a1BB

Day 1-
Specimen has been retrieved and satisfactorily subdued within Lab Cage 3.
Retrieval from "Earth" plane.
Species- Homo Sapiens
Gender- "Female"
Age in Earth years- 23
Name- Unknown, inconsequential
Notes- Young, lithe, notably attractive by human standards. Body surprisingly resilient to the subduction process, required between 20 ccs of drugs and 40 ccs of corrosives to sufficiently bring to a quieter state.
What a wonderfullllll catch.

Day 3-
Specimen awoke before the lab table could be sufficiently prepped and attempted to force open the cage door. Exhibited signs of sorrow. Liquid leaking from eyes, shrieking. The usual reaction to capture and subduction. I'm very pleased. The trauma should carry through well into the final stages. Took more corrosives and nerve-gas to ensure that the subject did not harm herself in the process of awakening. More sleeping solution had to be applied.
Very strong individual. Will be very difficult to break. Results should be SPECTacular.

Day 4-
Lab table prepped with necessary equipment. Specimen was still asleep when applied to the table. Actual experimentation begin tomorrow.

Preliminary schedule:
Pain resistance testing
Reflex testing
Nerve-to-brain reactionary
Limb-strength testing
Mental acuity and sampling, Neural health

Day 6- Specimen did not react well to pain resistance testing. Bleeds easily, though this is to be expected. Skin samples removed to be inspected for tensile strength. Bad day bad day.

Day 7- Skin cells analyzed, looks like the specimen lacked a constant intake of protein and fiber. That's fine. Nothing some corrosives and surface proteins won't fix.

A strong mixture of proteins, fats, and yeast should create a suitable replacement skin for the specimen.
Extra strong clamps were needed as well as the mist-spray apparatus. Applied corrosives to outer surface of specimen's epidermis in even layer to remove weak skin and applied surface proteins when epidermis was sufficiently worn away. Specimen's face area moved too much, and specimen refused to close eyes. I did not want to risk blinding the specimen, so I was forced to use 40 ccs of anaesthetics to bring the specimen under control. Protein and yeast mixture applied properly and set within an hour.
Process was completed, will move on to further experimentations tomorrow.

Day 8- Pain resistance testing and reflex testing successful. All nerves responded exceptionally well to extreme stimuli and skin was sufficiently resilient to applied conditions.
Specimen continues to exhibit signs of sorrow, fear, and desperation and screams continually. Tear ducts have recently gone dry. Minor setback. Not a big deal. At all.

Day 9- Moved on to Nerve-to-brain reactionary. In retrospect this was a -bad- move. Trauma after opening the cranium has resulted in complications. Specimen has stopped crying, is probably experiencing extreme migraines and sensations similar to a concussion, but does not react and simply stares fixedly at a spot on the ceiling. Unexpected...and interesting. Replaced removed bone with steel skullcap. Used rivets as the nerves reacted as expected and I don't think I will be opening up the skull again.

Day 10- I remembered before I began today that steel conducts electricity especially well. Was able to use this to my advantage and stimulate the specimen's brain back into a higher level of activity after yesterday's complications. Magnificent side effects, has begun to show signs of joy instead of sorrow.
Possible reversal in neural reaction due to the accident? The answer is inconsequential.

Day 12- Limb-strength-testing finally completed. Bone and muscle structure had to be completely redone, removed and replaced to match even the frailest of the Horde's soldiers. Was able to retain the original protein-yeast based skin, however.
Used lab materials:
-fifty pounds carbon-aluminum alloy
-five pounds "marrow"
-Forty-three gallons amino acid mixtures, mixtures 53D, 12A, 5A, 3A, 44B, and 66A.
Facial features kept intact. She has the cutest look on her face when she is feeling pain.

Day 13- Subject was beginning to show signs of enjoying being bound to the lab table. This was very much a problem.
Applied 30,000 volts to head to erase previous mental patterns, memories, experiences. Voltage was within the standard margin of error, and base memories (walking, talking, fucking) should not have been lost.
First application failed. Hair got in the way and prevented proper application of the device and much of the voltage was lost. Some skin was burned in the process.
Specimen experienced large amounts of pain during first application of electricity.
Second application worked like a charm. Remainders of hair were removed from the skin and this made the application of the electricity work perfectly. Specimen did not feel pain. The body reacted violently and nearly broke one of the ankle restraints, but this is to be expected.
Neural health was tested to be an acceptable level after application of electricity. Specimen did not react adversely to static and moving images presented, either, which is a good sign.
Skin has taken on a white pallor. Nice and aesthetic.
Specimen began drooling by end of day...a problem.

Applied a ball gag and steel muzzle to the mouth and extremely tight torso coverings. This kept the specimen from drooling and prevented the specimen from becoming lethargic after being released from the lab table.
Victim was unable to speak or breath, however. Tracheotomy was needed and performed with no problem.
Sufficient communication ability was provided through a speaker grill installed in the forehead. More bone removed, fortunately specimen did not react to the extensive trauma to the cranium caused by drilling into the forehead.
Specimen is now ready for field tests. Its beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Day 16- Day two of field testing. Specimen reacts beautifully and has superb threat detection. Loves to hide and use surprise. Specimen also takes pleasure in killing live field test subjects, and experiences signs of arousal during as well.
Thisssss issssss deliciousssss.

Day 19- Day five of field testing. Specimen has not failed a field test to this date. Has killed one of my laboratory assistants...a pleasant, pleasant display in cunning. Has begun showing signs of bouts of body-wide pain that detract from concentration, side effects of the skin and muscle replacements possibly. I will give her a few packs of painkiller syringes to keep it from becoming too bad. Much potential.

Give Me The Vector, Victor

Hhh'ok. So.

Macromedia Flash is one of those interesting programs in that it doesn't have one real specific purpose. Well, that's not true. You could say that its purpose is 'graphic design.' But that's kind of like saying a computer's purpose is 'computation,' or a knife's purpose is 'sharp, pointy object.' Its true, its that there's just so much more.

Most of the time, we see Flash used to make movies and games. AddictingGames.com, Newgrounds.com, these are all really good examples of these.

But I've recently discovered that Flash can be used to make some slick images:



^Anyone else reminded of "Waking Life"?

I present to you the glorious CHUCKIE ANVIL, a band formed by two friends of mine, Akio aka AK (the guy on the left) and Nick (the guy on the right). Photograph taken by Akio's ma, who's an awesome photo-er person.

The first thing I learned when I was making these images is that the pen tool in Flash is unbefuckinggodlievably unwieldly to use. It might be because I've been spoiled by using the pen tool in Photoshop so damned much, but hell, in comparison to Photoshop, the pen tool in Flash is just so...unintuitive. For example in Photoshop, Ctrl gets you the arrow outline which allows you to move the point around and adjust both bezier handles at the same time, Alt gets you the pointer which adjusts individual bezier handles, and right click gives you the option of tracing or filling the path, or deleting the point or the whole path.
No such luck in Flash. I'm sure its something I just have to learn, but for now, godSAKES its bothersome.

Other than that, it took me a short while but I managed to figure out a relatively fast way to work with the color pools that Flash uses. Thus far, I've only been working in one layer...the only thing that's not in the one layer that everything else is stuck in is the circular gleam coming off of AK's guitar.

But hey, I've got a lot to learn. I've only used Flash all of two times before this.

It's going to take me more than three uses to get a handle on a versatile little bastard like this.

Close to Home: Unproductivity Though Too-Many-Fucking-Projects

It's January.

Currently on my project to-do list, in no particular order:
-"Hellhounds On My Trail" hand drawn noir style comic
-"The Rusted Angels With Broken Wings"Trailer
-"Gheisterstadt" music video
-Photoshop portraits of Xforumites
-Continual short stories
-Expand my portfolio website

On the backburner:
-"Royal and Manchester" short animated film
-F-zero style racing animated short
-My webcomic "The Gravy Train"

It happens like this:
I do some work on some of the projects on the aforementioned list, occasionally pushing the projects past the 'preproduction' stage into the 'production' stage.
I take a break. Maybe its to sleep. Maybe its to grab a bite to eat. Maybe its to go to the Bookstore to get something.
During said break, a new idea comes up. Said idea begins to grow. Or fester, depending on how you look at it.
By the time I get back to my room, I'm all excited about this new idea, and put another project onto the list and start working on that one instead.


Godsakes someone help me, I'm never going to finish anything.