Archive for September, 2009

The neocube – a magnet puzzle

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I have played with the neocube. This toy is a collection of spherical earth magnets. Magnets make it very entertaining to play with this toy. One can create many shapes as shown in the video below. After getting a taste of it, I am planning on purchasing it.

Defense grid

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Defense grid Following a good review of a tower defense game Defense Grid, I looked at the demo of the game. I liked it at the first glance, but eventually I was not impressed by the game balance. No need to use different kinds of towers to finish all four levels. In fact, basic towers were sufficient even to get the medals. The last level available in the demo allowed to use different strategies: use different towers (four types), use different upgrades (up to three on some towers). It turned out that it is easier to finish the level (with a medal) using only the basic tower even without upgrades. It seemed that attempting to use different towers created more risk than benefits. I hope the other levels in the game are more balanced. I did find that graphics, sounds, and narration were nicely done. The speed-up feature of the game is great. I really liked that each level could be completed in a short period of time, which makes the game attractive for casual games.

I wonder why such a task as balancing is not done automatically? If I work for a game development company I can see myself developing an automatic “game balancer”. Checking if a level is balanced is possible with a simulation, especially for such a deterministic games as tower defense games.


Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I have watched 9. I will give it 3/5. The movie had nice action sequences and the movie world had an interesting perspective, given the size of the characters. Alas, the movie did not answer too many questions to make complete sense, and no amount of interesting scenery or action sequences could hide it. Why did the machine stop working? Why did it need what it needed? Why there were 9 of them? Overall, I missed the message… was it there? The Nightmare Before Christmas had it all a message, cinematography, characters. I could see that this movie had this potential, but it was not fulfilled.

Alexander Shyrokov has reviewed

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Autoscale-80x80 Not highly realistic movie. I liked some intense action scenes. Dialogs oftentimes were very close to being cheesy. I would not recommend watching it in a theater, there are very few scenes with beautiful settings of snow and ice, the rest is inside or almost whiteout conditions.

Universe structure and thoughts

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I have accepted a long time ago that thoughts are energy patterns (meaning that thoughts can affect physical world), but just recently I started to understand implications of the logical chain that connects thoughts to physical world based on this assumption.

Everything in the universe is energy, matter is a specific form of energy. We also know the energy conservation law: energy can only be transformed. Now, if thoughts are energy, than they must have a manifestation in the universe. In simple terms they are part of the universe as we see it. Given that we have a choice of what we think and how we think, we automatically making choice about how the universe looks at any given point. In short, there is a part of universe that is always shaped by our thoughts, similar to a sand box where we play. How much influence our sand box has on the rest of the universe? I guess it depends.

This explains how it is possible to read thoughts, all we need to do is look at the part of universe that corresponds to someone else thoughts (into their sandbox). I am not sure if there are any privacy laws in the universe, hence I think that anyone can “look” at anything (whatever look means in this context), the only requirement is the skill of “looking”. This also explains how we get new thoughts. Wind blows over our sandbox and forms new patterns, which we interpret as our thoughts.

I bet others have come up with the same analogies, it would be interesting to read about them.

Online reading list

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I am looking for a place to keep the list of the books I’ve read or would like to read. I have looked at the following services:

  1. Amazon lists – too cluttered, could not locate import feature.
  2. Ravish – focused mostly on reviews
  3. LibraryThing – looks too simple, 200 books in free account, so it is not an option
  4. Shelfari – looks very nice, though import did not work out as well as I expect it to.
  5. Googl books – no import (without ISBN)
  6. Goodreads – the least problem with importing

I did like how Shelfari looks, but I will use Goodreads, because it allowed me to import most of my data.


Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

A friend of mine gave me his unicycle to play with (thanks Bruno). Learning how to ride a unicycle turned out to be a very interesting experience. I was told that it takes about 10 hours for a 10 year old to learn how to ride a unicycle. That prompted me to time myself. I have spent 7.5 hours on the unicycle, which allowed me to learn how to get on it and start moving.

I even created a short video that explains how to mount the unicycle. I share my opinion about how the mounting process goes and what mistakes I did while learning.

I highly recommend learning to ride a unicycle to everyone. It is a challenging, but fun activity.

Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Atlas shrugged CoverI have finished reading Atlas shrugged by Any Rand. The author talks about strong people, fighting and winning. The book is long and I had a feeling that the book consists of three more on less independent books. But towards the final pages I felt that I do not want the book to end.

I read “Atlas shrugged”, because I liked “The Fountainhead” by Rand (my wife suggested both books to me). “The Fountainhead” talks about struggle of individual men to remain true to their values. “Atlas shrugged” takes this struggle to a national level. Now the fight is between groups of people. One group is represented by men of mind aka industrialists, and the other group is men of no-mind aka politicians. The book outlines what methods are used by both groups and why they use them. The main point of the book is that a person must use mind to live and happiness is the ultimate goal. The author provides very logical explanation of why this statement must be true. Of course, the statement comes with a premise that one can not obtain happiness by the price of someone else happiness. I did not remember that it was explained why this premise is logical. In either way, my major concern with the book is that it creates a vision that people achieve by the means of logical reasoning alone. Rearden (one of the books main characters) spent 10 years in the lab to create his metal. The picture that books draw is that logic was the tool for discovering the metal. As a scientist myself, I know that it is very unlikely scenario. “Intuition” by Osho has a very good explanation of the sources for our achievements.

Overall, “Atlas shrugged” is a great book. It is very well written and the subject of the book is worthy of writing a book about.