June 28, 2008

Guest Post #4 is Up

My fourth guest post for Game QA Blog is up.

June 22, 2008

Freshwater Defense

For those of you who have been following the pending dismissal of a teacher from the Mount Vernon School District in Ohio, the defense has been revealed...he was just "teaching the controversy."

Evidently, burning crosses into the arms of your students is one way of doing that.

This whole thing reminds me of a quote from Martin Luther:
Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.
Given that mindset, is it any wonder that science is under attack from religious zealots?


For those of you who want to do managed code games but do not want to use XNA for whatever reason, the 1.0 release of SlimDX has been released.

The feature list for this release is fairly impressive: DX9 and DX10, XAudio 2, and more.

Check out the documentation. It's not as strong as the Microsoft documentation is for some of their API's, but it is similar to the level of documentation that was available for Managed DirectX.

June 13, 2008

Why Care About Creationism?

Go watch this video. Go on. This post will still be here when you get back.

In the past, religion managed to convince people that the only truth was contained within its holy texts and anything outside of that text was heresy. As a result, science, technology and society went into a thousand-year tail spin.

We see the same threat today with the fundamentalist evangelicals and their push to supplant science with their religious tenets. Dangerous evangelicals like "Dr." Kent Hovind and Ken Ham push blatant falsehoods tinged with religious fairy dust to poison the minds of students so that they can reap the power that comes from being an "authority," while places like the Discovery Institute poison the minds of school boards and governments in an effort to reduce the effectiveness of our science teachers.

We should not allow the world to slip into a second Dark Ages. One only has to look at modern day Islamic culture to see what happens when religion stifles science.

June 11, 2008

Creationism in Europe

I wish I could say that the creationist uprising was a uniquely American situation, but I can't.

Look at this partial list of the shit happening in Europe.

Creationism in Louisiana

I have to give the creationists some credit. After their defeat in Dover, they have come up with a very interesting backdoor that even managed to get unanimous approval from the Louisiana State Senate.

They are no longer claiming that Intelligent Design is science. They're claiming that keeping their non-scientific viewpoint out of schools is "viewpoint discrimination."

Here's the catch, though...science, by default, discriminates against all viewpoints equally. Asserting a viewpoint without evidence and without experimentation automatically disqualifies your statements as not being science. Once you have some research to back up your viewpoint that can be torn apart by others via peer review, then you are getting somewhere, but the Intelligent Design crew don't even have that.

In the Dover trial, one of the Intelligent Design proponents said that they had an experiment that anyone could run that would lend credence to their hypothesis. (It is a hypothesis, not a theory.) They were asked if they had run their own experiment, and the answer was no. Meanwhile, we have laboratory proof for evidence popping up all over the place.

So what should we be teaching our children? If we're going to teach controversies, let's start with denying the Holocaust since four times as many historians deny that the Holocaust happened than biologists deny evolution, even though it was well documented by the perpetrators of it themselves. Then instead of geology, let's teach the Young Earth Theory, stating that the earth was created in approximately 4,000 BCE, even though we have historical evidence going back far beyond 10,000 BCE. Instead of chemistry and atomic theory, we can teach about the classical elements instead because they are believed by the Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans and others. Instead of psychology, we can teach Scientology instead.

It is sad to see evolution getting attacked because it is the science that ties almost all other modern scientific disciplines together. Because of evolutionary theory, advances in genetics can be applied to immunology, molecular biology, anatomy and more.

When advances in Intelligent Design/Creation Science/whatever name it will have next week apply to anything other than ignorance of the scientific method, let us know. In the meantime, if you are in Louisiana and want to help fight this bill in the 11th hour, here is all the information you need, including a wonderful analysis of the bill itself.

Code...Exciting and New

We're currently going through a RFP process for a replacement integrated system at work.

I've briefly spoken about our current system in the past. Our current integrated system isn't exactly the best piece of software on the face of the planet. I've spent most of the last year and a half cleaning the code up and trying to stabilize the base.

Our existing system does a lot of things like rely too much on session state, pass around ArrayLists of information instead of strongly-typed structures or objects, little to no code reuse, nineteen different ways of doing the same thing (often on the same page) and so forth. It's the code equivalent of Frankenstein's Monster.

I've managed to get the code to the point where it is manageable, but there are still times when I have to wade into sections of code that leave me feeling wounded afterwards. I may not care if code is beautiful, but when code is ugly, it hurts.

As we near our final choice for our new system, I find myself feeling a sense of relief and excitement. Relief in knowing that my days of wading through illegible code and being traumatized by side effects are relatively numbered, and excitement in knowing that we will be starting from essentially a blank slate. It will be a fun architectural challenge to build a properly extensible scaffold on top of the new system and integrate our business rules and user requirements into the new system.

Admittedly, we're looking at a 9-15 month implementation window, but the final destination is in sight: a codebase that won't leave me feeling unclean after working in it.

June 8, 2008

Anti-Game Talking Point

Watch out, fellow gamers...the next incident that will be spun with an anti-gamer spin has occurred in Tokyo.

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- A man ran over a group of people with his truck and then stabbed 17, killing at least 3, in a video game district of downtown Tokyo Sunday afternoon, according to a Tokyo fire official.

Rescue workers from the Tokyo Fire Department gather to help the injured in Tokyo's Akihabara district.

Three men -- ages 19, 47 and 74 -- were killed, according to a Tokyo metropolitan police officer.

Two others were critically wounded, police said.

Japanese media reported that the suspect told investigators he was 25 years old.

June 4, 2008

Guest Post #3 Is Up

Do you know any poison testers? If so, how should management deal with them?

I actually felt a bit weird writing this one because a big reason why I feel I failed at Ritual was because I didn't follow a couple of pieces of my own advice. Hindsight may be 20/20, but a pain in the ass is forever. ;)

June 2, 2008

Jindal for VP? I Hope Not

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate on the McCain ticket. I'm hoping that this isn't the case.

It isn't because I don't like his economic policies or the balance he would bring to the ticket. It's because his government in Louisiana has been violently anti-science after running on a highly religious platform. For example, the Louisiana Science Education Act essentially says that while the state has to teach the text they are provided, if a local neighborhood disagrees with the lessons, the State Board of Education has to help the local school board create a curriculum that tears apart the current theories.

It essentially equates free speech and scientific research, and the two are not equal. I can say that I believe that life was created when the Flying Spaghetti Monster touched the world with His noodly appendage or that I believe that a God of some sort created all of creation in a single workweek with only eight hours overtime or that the world was created by a giant sneeze from the Great Green Arkleseizure, but that isn't science. That's dogma. I'm all for teaching comparitive religion classes in schools because we do live in a world where some knowledge of world religion is not only valuable in order to understand literature and history, but also necessary because ignorance of religious practices in other countries can lead to you being viciously killed or thrown in jail for prolonged periods of time.

We've already had eight years of a president who has thumbed his nose at the scientific community and who has injected a religious viewpoint into policy. As a result, we have abstinence-only education which isn't properly serving the needs of children, a government that with one hand has doubled the budget of the National Institutes of Health and made a nominal increase for the budget for the National Science Foundation has at the same time distorted or suppressed scientific findings that don't support their policies, an administration that rejected calls by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to strengthen regulations related to lead poisoning and replaced scientific panelists with members with ties to the lead industry, and more.

I'm an economic conservative, but when it comes to social issues I find myself quite liberal, and if it looks like science is going to be given the shaft for another eight years and further erase America's edge in scientific progress, then I'll have no choice but to side with the Democratic party on this election.

June 1, 2008

A-Kon Day 2

I've uploaded all of the images as a 44MB ZIP file.

It includes some pictures of the Guinness World Record attempt.

In this linked shot over at Flickr, I'm in the middle left facing the camera and my wife is the one with the Sims jewel in the background. I went as "Pong" to do my part. My props are on the ground.

I wasn't planning on doing any sort of cosplay at the convention because it just isn't my thing, but the props were easy to make and it helped solidify the record attempt, so it was worth it.