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   With the days short and the weather getting cooler it is time for role-playing.  I had lost my character sheet around a year ago which pretty much ended our game.  But I liked the character so much I decided to see if we couldn't regenerate her with new stats.  The GM was all ready to do this when, after close to a year of absence, my character sheet reappeared.
   Having just defeated a ship full of Aspis Consortium it was time to mop up and see what they knew.  Vishtorian's crew did such a good job there were no survivors, but we ended up with two ships.  Gix had started the sails on fire in an effort to distract the enemy so they wouldn't see our ship sailing up along side them.  There were likely no other ships in the area, but we didn't want to take chances.  After a sweep of the ships for survivors, Vishtorian had the crew pile all the plunder on the main deck.  Then she ordered the ships ready to sail by sunrise, and when the ships were ready to sail the plunder would be divided.  A highly motivated crew had things patched up and ready to go in no time.
   We returned to our island and began making full repairs to the ships.  Going through documents we saw the ships were searching a ship wreck.  Two ships had a battle in the sky and then came crashing down into the water and sank.  The Aspis Consortium was sent to collect what they could find, which is when we stumbled on them.  Investigation of the site my our aquatic crews members showed there was a wealth of booty on the sea floor, but we had nothing to bring it up.  So it was ordered that a gantry crane be made that could stretch between two ships.  A third ship would sail around our group as recovery took place.
   Returning to the ship wreak site the crew worked at pulled up a huge amount of treasure.  Cubic meters of ivory, tons of precious metals, a plethora of gems, and several magic items we recovered from the sea floor.  The crew was now ridiculously rich.  Vishtorian offered everyone some insight.  They could retire now and live comfortably for the rest of their lives, and no one would stop them.  But they now had an other option.  Continue to follow her and they could become kings of their own cities.  The rousing speech won over the crew of former slaves.
   It was time to sail to the city of Absalom and meet up with our contact. 

November 12, 2016

Release of AQ Squares

After a lot of delays (almost a year) I have released the C-version of the game Squares, itself a clone of the game Ataxx. I had written a Javascript version in 2006, but the AI was never all that good. In late 2015 I started a C rewrite of the AI. The rewrite stalled when my work project restarted and I lost my huge amounts of free time. Recently I started to drive back into the problem. I found the first issue I had with my rewrite was the way I dealt with the player field. The arrays I used were slow and made implementing the rules cumbersome. So I decided to use bit masks instead of arrays. The playing field easily fits into a 64-bit word. Although it started as an experiment I found that the bit operations needed to drive the game states were quite simple—just shift, AND, OR, and XOR operations. It was easier to understand the bit operations than it was the arrays. Then I tried to update the AI I had implemented. Unfortunately, what I had implemented was not a proper minimax algorithm. It was some kind of maximizing algorithm, and thus my attempts at alpha-beta pruning just made for weird results. I rewrote the guts of the AI loop from a psudo-code template and ended up with much better results.

I call my new version A.Q. Squares and have been cleaning up for several days. At work I have been learning about several new tools for code coverage and profiling, and I have built in what I learned to the makefile. It allows me to see how much of the source code is covered by unit tests, and what functions are taking the longest to execute. I haven’t used this information much yet, but I didn’t want to hold back having a place to release code. So version 1.0, stripped down to just being playable, has been released.

Only people who are experienced Linux users will be able to play right now. The distribution just comes with source code that can be built on a Linux machine. However, after I figure out what I want for a user interface I may release binary versions directly usable to anyone.

Exquisite Exhaustion

Exquisite Exhaustion

   I played with this picture over the course of several hours.  My subject, Maya, is quite tired after a full afternoon of running around and needs daddy to carry her to the car.  I got a brief glance from her as we were walking and captured a frame.  Form there I proceeded to desaturate, gamma correct, crop, and add selective color.  I lightened the image and then softened the gray scaled version.  For the eyes, I removed the soft gray scaled version to revel the natural color from the layer below.  The results captured what I want to convey.
   One thing about the time change is that in the morning I bike in as the sun rises, and in the evening I bike home as the sun sets.  In not too much longer I will bike in darkness both directions.  I have a pretty good light on my bike, but my battery isn't so great.  It is cheap junk I found on eBay and because they sent me something other than what I ordered I didn't actually pay anything for my battery.  It has six 18650 batteries (what I ordered was suppose to have 8), which should power the light for several hours.  They only last the one hour ride.  This isn't too much of a problem as at work I simply hook them to a lab power supply and recharge them.  And if I need more power I have a second battery—another eBay item I didn't pay for because they false advertised and I got my money back.  This one is even worse and last about 45 minutes.  It was suppose to be a much larger capacity, but pealing off the plastic wrap and reading the label underneath betrayed their false advertising.  One day I would like to get the battery I order, but for now what I have is functional. is switching Internet providers.  We are going from cable to fiber.  This has been a slow process.  The house has been running on the fiber for a week or two now, using an Odroid as the router.  We wanted to make sure the router was going to work like we wanted, and so far it has.  Now it's time to switch the web server over.  So the Blue Dragon will sit on the old cable network running the backup server, and the Sun Dragon move to the new network.  DNS should switch over in a day or two.
   Since the time change last weekend I have been again seeing sunrise on my ride into work.  This morning was chilly at 39 °F (4 °C).  I wore a sweatshirt and gloves.  One thing I found is that I have greatly overdressed in the past for riding, and that just made the ride comfortable.  Now I try and wear as little as I can getaway with and it seems to help a good deal.
   I arrived in Vilas Park just as the sun was coming up.  Patches of fog covered the water and with the morning color it was really quite lovely.
Maya and Noah

Maya and Noah

   A trip to the Children's Museum and the Zoo today with Maya, Mary, and Noah.  It's fun watching kids explore.  Kids love some of the simplest things.  A carousel ride and playground equipment with a slide bring some of the greatest enjoyment.  It's always great to be a part of that.
   Amazing weather for November and rather than skate tonight (which I had initially planned) I went on a 26 mile ride.  The temperature was 70 °F (21 °C) and curiously not much wind.  I biked out to Indian Lake County Park.  Most of the fall color was gone but it was a lovely ride nonetheless.  I found a couple of women using the weather to paint and asked if I could take this picture. 
   On today's trip I completed my 3,000th mile for the year.  This is double what I did last year, and I imagine I will have a few rides left.  Seems I ride about 16 days a month with a summer average of around 25-29 miles each riding day.  In October I again broke 400 miles, which means that except for August, when I was on vacation half the month, I biked 400+ miles 5 of the last 6 months.  I am by no means I hardcore biker—there are people who can bike over 1,000 miles in a month—but I'm pretty happy about these numbers.