February 28th 2019

Work In Progress, Part I

My parts so far.
Case: Fractal Design Meshify C White.
650W PSU from EVGA.
Hyper 212 EVO from Cooler Master. Going to overclock.
I also already have the CPU and RAM I plan on using. (i7 3770k, 32GB DDR3.)
Yes, my drill is pink. Whachugondoboutit?
Case. The mesh design sold me.
This isn’t computer related, but cats and Coke were part of the process regardless.
February 27th 2019

But, no

No. Why am I feeling discouragement?

Tonight, I am going to apply for Harvard and Stanford.

I hit a sudden realization point that I look down upon myself too much. I view myself as somebody who isn’t capable, or that I believe I’m not putting enough into what I want to accomplish. Why can’t I apply for these schools, get into them, and move onto getting my master’s and having a half-bright future? Why have I always settled for less?

I doubt I’ll get into either school. Yet with that mindset, I won’t. So I believe I am able to get into either school. And if it doesn’t work out, regardless, I believe my future will be bright. Mark my words.

February 26th 2019

The Antithesis of Game Development

My entire life, since I was aware video games were something that existed in the world, I’ve wanted to enter game development. Regardless of the level of where I enter, I’ve always wanted to make games. The first few games I had been exposed to as a child were Frogger and Spyro, both on the original PlayStation. As a kid I didn’t necessarily know I wanted to enter gamedev, but what I did know is that I wanted to be able to play levels outside the realm of what the game allowed me to do, and in turn create my own or have some sense of doing something the game wasn’t supposed to be doing. As I got older, I remember spending nights on my parents’ dial-up internet connection looking up cheat codes for my PS1 collection. I had discovered Gameshark, and I knew I wanted to be able to manipulate my game. So I nagged my parents to drag me to the local game shop, and I don’t remember much from that day besides the guy behind the counter telling me to avoid manipulating games that already exist, and rather, get into the world of creating my own. Albeit, I was probably nine years old at the time and I didn’t have many resources available to me to do so, but I went home and trudged through our dial-up internet connection and discovered Game Maker 6.0. A few days later, I urged my mom to buy the program for me, as the lite version lacked several features which I wanted access to.

Ever since then, Game Maker was the first program I learned, and the last language behind Java that I’ve mastered. I made a blog post about this a while ago, but I pushed Game Maker to its absolute limits whenever possible. It was only when I started writing actual “programs” in the software that I figured maybe it’s time I bite the bullet and learn a language that isn’t so restricted.

HellFire vs. the Officeman, 2013-2014

I’ve written a million things in Game Maker. I used Game Maker from 6.0 all the way until they released Studio 2, then I stopped paying for updates because I found it to be a waste. That being said, though, undoubtedly I’m the best at writing games using it. But there’s something that Game Maker taught me that I’ll never shake off now, and it’s something that really discourages me a lot: it gave me the illusion that programming is easy. Want to render something on the screen? Just create an object, place it in a room, it will automatically have X and Y coordinates, and you can adjust them by giving the object a script that says x=24 and y=62. Want it to move? Step event every frame, x++. Nothing more, just x++. It knows what x is, it doesn’t need to be defined prior, and it will act exactly like you’d think it will act. You don’t even need a semicolon on the end of the line.

Shenanigans, 2016

So me, being a freshie Java (and barely C) student, I’m faced with the concept of “Okay, so what if I want to make a game, but I don’t want to use Game Maker?” Then several options open up.

Sure, I can use Unity. But that’s lazy. The game engine is already made for me. Same with Unreal. Too fancy. I want to make basic 2D things like Game Maker let me do. But I don’t want to use Game Maker. So what next? Find some lackluster 2D graphics library some random dude made that will do nothing but hinder me more than Game Maker would? I want to create the engine myself. Surely rendering a few objects on a screen can’t be that difficult right? So I dive into checking out LWJGL, look into the different options it has available, and I’m told I’m gonna have a hard time if I don’t understand OpenGL calls prior. So what am I supposed to do – learn how OpenGL works? Why not just learn C++ and straight-up use OpenGL or even DirectX or Vulkan at that rate? Why limit myself to Java?

Then I remember that I’m almost out of community college, starting my last two years of my BS this fall and there is little to no room for me to take a course on C++ right now, and I’d teach myself if I weren’t trying to juggle five other classes. So then I become discouraged, and then I make no progress. So then my mind’s jumping to “if you want to make a side project, hobby game, just go back to Game Maker” and that absolutely kills me because that’s not the progressive mindset I’d like to be working with, it’s jumping back to my crutch, my easy way out of solving my problem by using something that’s no different from what I was doing at the age of nine.

Super Crunk Bros., a gag game – 2014-2015

So what’s a guy to do? The advice I’d give someone else in my scenario is just “go for it, try whatever and see how it turns out” but from my perspective, I’m having a difficult time even finding where I should begin. Is there shame in using a game engine like Unity? Why is it so frightening to write games in Java? Why do I have such a hard time comprehending the ideas of graphics and vectors and even at times, pointers? As a programmer, am I failing to do my job if I haven’t learned these things yet? When will I learn? Why am I so repulsed by the idea of learning? Why do I want to lift 300 pounds when I can’t even lift 30? What advice would you give me in this situation?

February 24th 2019

Fraud

Salut.

Let me start this post off by giving some back story for those who don’t know. I work retail; I work in the electronics department at a specific retail chain that I will go without mentioning for the sake of privacy. I’ve been here for about five months, and I’ve put in my two weeks as of yesterday. I frankly can’t tolerate my job. You’d think working in the electronics department would mean that you help sell electronics to customers who need them, but mostly, it means cleaning up and managing the Toys section, the Sporting Goods section, the Baby section, the Seasonal section, Movies, Books, and lastly on my priorities list, Electronics. In addition to cleaning these sections by the end of the night, I am also responsible for returning items to their original locations (“Go-backs”) from other parts of the store, answering customers’ questions about said sections, and lastly, doing everything phone related in electronics. This means I’m responsible for signing customers up with major phone carriers like Verizon and AT&T.

News flash: nobody comes to the store for cell phones. If they want a phone, they go to Verizon or AT&T. And the people that do, are either moms looking for the extra $100 store gift card that comes with activation, or are total frauds looking to cheat the system. Guess what composes almost 75% of the activations I come across.

Imagine the word “thugs.” Take whatever image you have in your head when you think of the word “thugs” and apply this to what I’m about to say. Tonight, around 8:30 PM I had a tall dude who obviously worked out with tattoos on his arms and one on his face, alongside a scrawny 40-or-so year old with a beard, come into the store and meet me over in electronics. They wanted two iPhone XS phones, both 256 GB in storage, in Gold. So I’m sitting here like “red flag, gonna be a fraud” right off the bat, considering this happens so often that I can pretty much immediately tell that expensive phone = fraud. I don’t remember the last time I sold a phone of such an expensive caliber to somebody who wasn’t a fraud. I’ll get into what “fraud” means later because this guy exemplified its definition perfectly.

So guy wants me to sign him (and his “son”) up with two of these phones under Verizon. So I ask them for ID, I ask for all their personal info, everything checked out as legit so I pushed through with the activation. Until the credit score check came into play, and immediately stopped my system from continuing. The reason for this is because even though his ID was legit, the SSN he gave me was most likely false or stolen. Red flag #2.

I told the man “hmm, doesn’t seem to have worked, sir.” with a prompt “no, it did work, I worked at a phone store, I know how this stuff works. It’s called a validation check, did nobody train you?” from him. So, to correspond with his persistence as I knew telling him no wouldn’t get him away, I called the number on screen. Additionally on screen was a six-digit PIN which I would give to the person over the phone system (this is important). Phone system asked me for his information, I gave it to him, and they ran a test on it. Not sure what they did, but test failed. Red flag #3.

They asked me to put them on the line. I did. They gave him a number and a second PIN to call. The guy tried to get me to do it on my in-store phone, but I refused and told him it was his job to call Verizon and get that sorted out and that there’s nothing I could do. Red flag #4.

He angrily stumbled to pull out his cracked Samsung Android phone and called the number provided. After several automated security questions, he started getting mad and calling this “bullshit, why are you putting me through this?” He failed the several various questions that the Verizon hotline had asked him (“What’s your primary bank?” “Where did you work in 2014?” so forth..) the second line denied him as well. Red flag #5.

So I told the phone system that he had failed this check, and they put me on hold while they “ran another check which might work.” Thankfully, one of my coworkers took note. He looked at me and mouthed the phrase “fraud?” and I subtly nodded my head. A few minutes later, while I was still on hold, my manager came over. She immediately came in and said to guy #1, the guy with the tattoos, “sorry sir, we can’t sell you this phone” which totally contradicted whatever it is I was doing to try and help this customer out. So he got mad and said “you’re not the sales associate, you don’t mean shit. That doesn’t mean shit. He’s been helping me all this time, you have no say in this.” Red flag #6.

They butted heads for a little while and then I finally came off hold. They asked to speak to the customer, when I handed the phone over to guy #2, the scrawny guy. I felt scared at this point, frankly, because guy #1 was pretty pissed off. Guy #2 talked to the line for a few minutes, my manager and guy #1 kept butting heads for a little while longer, and I believe at this point the line had straight up told guy #2 that the transaction wasn’t possible. So both of them got mad, complained that “we’re going to talk to whoever is above you and get you fired” and stormed off. My manager let the phone line (and me) know that these people were known criminals who had been visiting other stores in our chain, and she knew about them the entire time, which is why she stormed in and told them straight-up that it wasn’t possible to sell them a phone. I stopped counting the red flags.

About 30 minutes later, I receive some hearsay from a coworker that guy #1 supposedly did two things following our denial of his phone. First, he went up to a coworker (who isn’t even a manager nor do they work in electronics) and started harassing them, getting in their face and threatening to hurt them. Second, he called this store from the parking lot and started yelling and screaming at the person in customer service. In addition to this, I hear that this person began threatening not only the customer service representative, but also me and my manager, saying that they were going to, and this is paraphrased from hearsay, “beat our asses” and “you messed with the wrong guy” and “I’m outside right now, come fight me.” So my anxiety levels raised up. I wasn’t really sure what to think. These are empty threats, totally, but these guys looked pretty shady, and I think above all else, persistent. So, being nothing but an electronics guy, I had no idea what to think. Do these guys have any sort of weapon? Will they be outside my place of work when I’m leaving tonight? Unlikely, but do they have a gun? Will they shoot up the store? I had no idea where it would lead.

The cops were called by my store by around 9:30. They came in and interrogated me, my manager, and a few of my coworkers. Unfortunately, the cops said there was nothing but empty threats being thrown around here, and that there wasn’t much they could do by Massachusetts law that would help us. They said however that they would wait outside around closing time to ensure we all get to our cars safely. So damn, no justice for the criminals. But at least we knew we were, to some extent, safe.

We managed to pull the criminal’s name, address, and license information from Verizon because I had left the page up on my computer which told us to call the support line, earlier. We used that information to get his name. The cops had left the area by the time we had written it down, but surely it’s going to be reported at some point.

I got nothing done tonight. I was too afraid. It’s a good thing I’m leaving this store in two weeks, I’m really really tired of running into problems like this one because people think they can cheat my store to get a fraudulent phone illegally using someone else’s information. Thankfully, though, we got out of the store without any problems. There were two cops sitting outside the store watching us all get to our cars. There wasn’t anyone outside with a bat like my mind was thinking might happen. Frankly, I take all threats seriously. It’s hard to deny that your livelihood for any reason could be at stake, especially over something as stupid as an iPhone XS.

February 23rd 2019

Concerts

Lots of people playing around me this year. I want to see them all…

Fleetwood Mac – April 2, TD Garden, Boston
Of Montreal – April 13 Pearl St. Northampton
MGMT – May 22-24, Webster Hall, NYC
Tame Impala – May 25, Boston Calling
Guster – May 26, Boston Calling
Guided By Voices – May 17, Paradise Rock, Boston
Stereolab – September 29, Royale, Boston
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – August 27, New Haven, CT

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