Saturday, May 17, 2014

Game Developer Career Migrations

Every industry has an ecosystem with class designations, skill trees, and options to multi-class.

Your current position is a spaceship capable of shooting lasers at other spaceships. The quantum theory of superposition states that you are able to combine your current firepower with other lasers from alternate selves in separate timelines in order to achieve penetrating resonance with the shields of unexplored spaceships.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fatherhood and the Eulogy of Hyun Mo Shin

It took me a while to understand that I was not like most of the other kids in school, and it took even longer to understand why. My childhood had its tender moments, but was often marred by a constant sense of fear. The consequences for my mistakes as a child were brutal, severe, and worst of all... Emotional.

My father was the main villain in my life. He is the antagonist in my first vivid childhood memory at the age of One when I woke up to my mother's screams. Escape, independence, and prediction became a driving force in my development as emerging abilities began to manifest. I had to get out of there, and I had to go very far and beyond the reproach of anybody who can possibly wield any power over me. Eventually, I succeeded. As a young adult, I had the freedom to choose my own family, and my friends became more important to me than blood relatives with whom I shared no empathy.

Status: Estranged.

In 2005, I got a call from a person claiming to be my father's son. He told me that my father had been in and out of the hospital for the last 6 months, and these might be his final days.

Over the course of the following two weeks, I talked to many people with regards to my father's personal effects and legal affairs, and through these conversations as well as a few rare and precious lucid moments with him in the hospice, I began to see him not as a monster, but as a human being... one who was flawed and scared, but always tried to do the right thing with what he knew how to do... one whom I had greatly wronged.

As the only legal next of kin to my father in the United States, it fell to me to sign the DNR form (Do Not Resuscitate) that would allow him to finally rest instead of being revived after every heart attack. I got to know my father as a human being in the last two weeks of his life, and then I ended him.

This is the eulogy of Hyun Mo Shin that I composed and delivered at his funeral:
My father was born on July 10th, 1924 as the youngest of nine children within a family of rice farmers. He died peacefully in his sleep at 1pm on April 8th, 2005 at the age of 80 from a combination of prostate cancer and kidney failure. From what I know of him, he went to Gae-Oh University in Japan during the occupation of Korea where he learned to speak English. This allowed him to work with the United States CIA during the Korean War translating North Korean enemy transmissions to the American forces. During the Vietnam War, he ran a shop that supplied goods to American soldiers, and that is where he met my mother. When Vietnam fell in 1975, he arranged for her and their unborn child to travel by boat to Korea so that she and their son could live a better life away from oppression. From Korea, they moved to Australia for a short time but eventually settled in Iran where he ran a successful Chinese restaurant and lounge. When the Iranian Shaw was overthrown, he moved his family to Houston, Texas to start a new life over with a new Chinese restaurant. That business failed, and he was eventually forced to take a job as a maintenance man in an apartment complex. With the help of his soon to be lifelong friend, Bill Bokovoy, he moved up the ranks to eventually manage various apartments and convenience stores in the Houston area. He also managed a janitorial service. In 1996, he met Kim Soon and adopted her family as his own. Towards the end of his life, he worked as a tour guide for Japanese and Korean visitors to the United States. 
People describe him as a very intelligent, kind man with a noble soul and a gift for making others laugh. He was able to speak English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic languages, and of course, Korean. He was always teaching me the value of doing the right thing. He loved to travel and go fishing, and I remember him as a man who lived his life to the fullest… whether it be a trip to the Super Bowl in between dialysis treatments or an indulgent meal at his favorite Asian buffet. Some might have described him as an incorrigible but charming ladies’ man, but it wasn't just about the women for him. His love for life transferred to all aspects of his interaction with those around him. He dedicated his life to his family and his community in the name of love. He would welcome Korean immigrants to Houston and volunteer his time to do whatever he could to help them get settled into American society. His last wish to me and my newfound brother was to make sure that his family would be okay… to his dying day, he was thinking about the others in his life. 
When somebody we know passes away, we can't help but think about our own mortality. All of you are here because my father’s life has affected you in one form or another. As I found out more about him, I began to see the waves and ripples he has created in the lives around him as he continued to live his own life, and it made me realize that we all create waves and ripples in the lives around us whether we choose to or not. After we’re gone, all that’s left are the waves. The world we live in and who we believe ourselves to be is a reflection of signals from the people around us. I feel that my father has lived a good life, and I see the proof in the people that are here in this room. Thank you for listening.
The humanization of my father is my own origin story. It marked the beginning of a drive to understand more about the world than I was capable of comprehending at that time. The universe suddenly seemed very large, and my life suddenly seemed very small. I began to actively examine just how tenuous our belief systems, identities, and relationships truly are and how much control we have over the meaning we give ourselves within the course of an unpredictable lifetime that may or may not actually be meaningful to anyone else.

Today marks the ninth anniversary of my father's death. That story is still evolving.

My first child is due at the end of August.
He feels like a stranger at this moment.
I hope the story between us ends well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The "Warrior Gene"


Genetic Ramifications:
  • Rapid Processing of dynamic stimuli under stressful conditions
  • At the cost of Memory and Attention to details
  • Higher error rate
  • Ability enhancement triggered by Dopamine release
  • Higher resistance to pain
  • More easily Hypnotized
  • Less affected by Placebos
  • More likely to develop schizophrenia

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quantum Identification Theory

"If you want to understand the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration."

-Nikola Tesla
___

Our minds are wired to make sense of the world through discreet vocabulary. By placing a label on something, we make the identity of that something more tangible to our brains through a combination of adjectives, verbs, and nouns. To understand things, we need to know its identity so that we can figure out how we may interact with that entity in this reality that we believe in.

Who am I?
What am I?
What do I do with these abilities?

One can go about answering these questions in specifics, starting with factual nouns and adjectives, going from association to association in recursive fashion until we create a conglomerate definition that makes sense on the surface but falls short on depth as the composite definition is marked by restrictions and boundary limitations that never seem to be enough to describe an entire human being's state of being. We are always more than just a collection of nouns, verbs, and adjectives with the occasional adverb tacked on.

When the frequency changes, we change. Our discrete parts reconfigure themselves to match the resonance of the environment around us.

We are the collection of vocabulary words for that one relevant moment in time, but those words may become deprecated in the next timeslice. Definition of the self is not a series of discrete particles but a wave of potential definitions whose first derivative over time can be distilled into a function of discrete values within the coordinate space that our perceptions can observe.

Our minds are wired to see things as discrete atomic particles at any one moment in time. Fields of potential register with our subconscious. We perceive these fields by forcing an awareness of discrete definitions on a regular basis until a pattern becomes apparent. For some, the wave awareness comes from successive postings on social media and the like. For others, the wave awareness evolves from mandatory three pages of words written every morning.  These are all essentially snapshots of the wave at any one time. When awareness is repeated enough, we internalize the pattern on an instinctive level beyond words.

This method of cognizance leads to lucid actualization. By intentionally engaging in awareness of wave potentials, one begins to alter discrete particle definitions as they manifest. The self-fulfilling prophecy alters reality through repeated snapshots as anticipation of the next snapshot becomes a nontrivial factor of the recursive equation.

Anticipation eventually becomes prediction.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Ronin

I am trying to figure something out.

Over my last thirteen years as a game developer, I switched jobs an average of every two years - Not always by choice. At first, it was because the studio I worked for got shut down or layoffs/downsizing/reduction-in-force happened after shipping the game; it felt like losing a family every time. I tried my best to stop it from happening, but it seemed that no matter how many 12 to 16 hour days I put in or how much the people I worked with really liked working with me, the result was the same... powers beyond my control and beyond the control of anyone I work with would force me to find a new tribe in a new studio and start all over again.

Acceptance eventually set in: "bad weather", "the circle of life", "nature of the biz", "price you pay to do something you love"... These justifications started to wear thin after awhile. I was paying attention to my counterparts at other companies inside and outside the games industry, and that was when I started noticing the pattern. It manifested to a point where it eventually became possible to tell when bad things were going to happen again. Sometimes, the patterns were tied to specific people, but always, they were tied to specific behaviors.

In the more recent years of my career, I chose not to wait for the people who employ me to lay me off. I got good at laying myself off before my former employer could start their own (surprise) round of layoffs. I figured that I could preemptively reduce the headcount and extend the runway before other people got reduced who weren't as flexible as me.

At this point in my life, I now understand that when you work for a company, the decisions that control your fate will not be your decisions, and they may be made by people who do not understand what you do and don't have the time to find out.

I want to make products that I believe in with a tribe that I can get stronger with over multiple projects over multiple years, but none of that is going to happen if I start over every two years. The only way to make this happen is to work for a very stable company and trust that I can grow within the established ecosystem there with its installed residents.... or make that company, myself.
    Today is my first day as an independent game developer. This is an experiment to see if I can succeed by just working hard, being good at my job, and managing who I collaborate with... all while believing in something. At any one time, the things I do need to come from a personal place. The best communications I have ever had with people were the emotional ones. The best code I have ever written was an emotionally driven analogy for some concept in the real world. The best things I have ever done in life were done with the full intention of somehow fixing myself... or those like me. This is a truth that I am at peace with.

    In order to succeed, I need to make this personal and tap into that emotional reserve, but I also need a structure to give the company's output meaningful context in order to achieve cultural resonance. This internal compass has evolved into three sharply defined tenets that relate to the concept of Identity, Agency, and Communion. These three points of a triangle are... The Ring of Blades!


    The Ring of Blades is in service to player experiences that...
       Express Identity with Passion,
          Actualize Agency with Skill,
             and Establish Communion through Introspection

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Asymmetrical Empathy

    "I can do it, why can't you?", says the villain to the prey.

    ___

    Our brains require a definition to perceive the presence of something... or the absence of it.
    Without a definition, that “something” becomes irrelevant to the brain.

    An intrinsic value is one that can’t be judged by just looking at a person. It is the type of quality that a person applies internally as part of his or her self image through actions and results. The process of interpreting actions and results into an intrinsic value differs from person to person because they each carry a unique lens. People willfully choose the intrinsic qualities that build their sense of self as a normal function of ego.

    Our bag of definitions for the perception of an intrinsic value comes mainly from those chosen to define the self. We tend to use ourselves as a template when judging the presence or absence of a certain human quality in another. We judge potential friends, family members, and colleagues through this lens of symmetry. A dedicated athlete may judge a career-oriented person based on health-related habits. An English major may judge a CEO based on spelling and punctuation, and an engine programmer may judge a gameplay programmer based on their understanding of SPU assembly.

    We do this instinctively without effort because our minds are hard-wired to understand symmetry. It is much easier for us to judge whether something is present or absent in another by checking for a one-to-one match with things present in the self. Symmetrical evaluation results in the following trend:
    1. COMFORT: Worthy intrinsic value present in both
    2. JUDGEMENT: Worthy intrinsic value present in the self, but missing in the other
    3. NEUTRAL: Worthy intrinsic value missing in the self, but present in the other
    4. NEUTRAL: Worthy intrinsic value missing in both
    As far as this trend goes, #3 indicates potential wasted data. We typically require five positive interactions for every negative interaction. Neutral interactions are ambiguous. For most people, the evaluation of this 5-to-1 ratio operates with a blind spot that can result in up to 50% data loss.

    Symmetry is not enough. There are properties in others that are invisible to the self. Inversely, there are properties in the self that are invisible to others. Compassion for others who are not like the self requires...
    • SELF AWARENESS: Embracing the parts of you that can’t be compared to others
    • TRUST: Believing that intrinsic qualities you have not become aware of do exist, and that others might have this quality that you currently do not have the means to perceive
    • IMAGINATION: In order to defeat your villain, you must think like your villain. You must match your brainwave patterns to those of your villain's brain. Only then will you be able to find the bomb and save the city, but beware... you might fall in love with your villain or become a new villain in the process
    We define ourselves and others through silhouettes; the challenge is to build definitions without using the self as a boundary.

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Cognitive Dissonance

    The cold truth is that nothing has meaning. It all ends the same way, eventually. But people need to believe that there is meaning in something other than sheer survival. Meaning comes from what we're willing to believe. If the meaning is not found in sports, children, politics, television, music, religion, art, or the latest fashion trend, then the void gets filled with more eccentric endeavors such as drugs, hatred, Bollywood, or the local chapter of some society, somewhere.

    To have a policy about things, a philosophy on your actions, is to give meaning to yourself as if you really mattered in this world. By existing with a personal compass, we seek to change the world and make it smell like us in order to affirm our existence.

    We define ourselves through the suffering that we choose to own, whether it be our jobs, our sweat, smoking, the chase, the escape, or the fight... we all fight. It gives us meaning to fight. If we don't fight or choose not to fight, then we eventually end up fighting ourselves. We create a policy for the fight as a rationale to justify the things we do or don't do. In this way, reality evolves in our own image.

    And this is where I'm currently struggling. Reality is shifting faster than I can keep up with. I was once the boy in love with love who loved nothing more than the fight. I do not feel like that boy anymore. I no longer have that religion... that old testament flair. The fierce dogmas I had subscribed to have dissipated and the fight now feels... optional. There is a fear growing inside me that my prioritization of peace has put me in a mental space of accepting mediocrity. But average is safe. Normal is dependable. Not sticking out like a sore thumb means nobody is looking at me, anymore.

    My identity has not found a new silhouette since my recent bout with Cognitive Dissonance, but it is shifting into something I do not yet understand. I don't know who I am when I am not that guy trying to change the world through blades of agency. Hopefully, equilibrium will set in so that the shifting can stop and the discrete Heisenbergian packets of my persona might once again resonate into an identifiable frequency and wavelength.

    Friday, September 07, 2012

    Relationship Symmetry

    Relationship Symmetry:
    1. When you know each other's names
    2. When communications are equal in both directions.
    3. When messages are customized for the recipient's personality and situation
    There was a time when I was Mr. Social Networking. I can only imagine that my Klout score must have been... "winning". I even went so far as to write this in response to all of the entitled ineffectual complaints I would hear from people who had contempt for the Twitter and Facebook culture.

    My years of living on the social networks and maintaining virtual friendships have taken a toll on my ability to know the difference between a friend and a mutual rolodex entry. The result is the disturbing normalcy of asymmetrical interactions.

    I have only recently become disturbed by the normalcy of this asymmetry.

    One day, I woke up and realized that I am no longer "that guy who knows everybody".
    I am no longer associated with a company or organization that warrants networking, nor can I help anybody get a job or speaking opportunity or move an audience in their direction. After my voluntary exit from my last fairly high profile employer, I have nothing to offer those in my networks other than a simple friendship.

    Currently, I am at the bottom of my social networking value, and it is here that I am beginning to see the difference between being a connector node and being a person you are willing to carpool to the grocery store with.

    The Bystander Effect is my enemy.

    My new paradigm is a belief that...
    Zero Communication is better than Weak (Broadcasted) Communication.
    Focused (One-on-One) Communication is best of all.
    • No more talking or emailing people in "group mode" as opposed to "eye contact mode"
    • No more living my life as if the cameras are rolling on the social networks
    • Intentional focus on introspective verbs rather than outward-facing expressions of opinion and affiliation
    I have spent a lot of energy outsourcing my identity to others. What others thought of me started out as a comfort that eventually became a debilitating expectation to keep me going. It is time for me to re-calibrate who I think I am when nobody is watching. And from there, I can repair not just my own self-image, but also my ability to regenerate and maintain the friendships I have neglected due to "automated maintenance through a virtual facade".

    No more Bystander Effect.
    This is where the REAL begins.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    The Seven MindKillers

    From an early age, most of us are conditioned to take great pleasure in the fulfillment of Trust.
    Over time, that trust gets blocked by Fear.

    It is said that your mind has seven points (Chakras) that can be attacked by fear for maximum damage:
    1. The first point deals with Survival. When you no longer trust the security of your own survival, you will be consumed with Anxiety about the things that can go wrong. Trust in the things that you can change. Accept what you can't change. Know the difference between the two.
    2. Pleasure is blocked by Guilt. Distrust of pleasure comes from fear of judgement. Know the actual consequence of that judgement to disarm it and be at peace with the choices you make.
    3. Willpower is blocked by Shame. Shame is judgement on the self. Fear of failure looks like cynicism and self-deprecation from the outside. Shame results in mental paralysis. Accept your past failures; they've made you stronger. Know that each success must be preceeded by multiple failures as a normal part of the process.
    4. Love is blocked by Grief. The loss of love is inevitable. To allow this fear to consume you is to remain alone. The love that you feel in the present will always be worth more than the grief that you may feel in the future. You always have a choice to love at any one time. The present matters more than the past or future, for it is the only thing that you have direct control over right here and now.
    5. Expression is blocked by Lies. Your true self will not manifest as long as you fear your own identity. Accept that you are you, and do not be afraid to let others know you as you know yourself. The maintenance of Honesty consumes zero energy.
    6. Insight is blocked by Illusions. By giving fear a tangible form, we can disarm its power over our senses and see it for what it really is: A problem that is solveable.
    7. The final point deals with Expansion; it is blocked by Attachment. Suffering can be perceived as meaning, but you are not your suffering. Your identity is malleable as you see fit. For every new form you adopt, an old form must be discarded. Embrace your past, but do not cling to it. It has served its purpose. No regrets.
    Now... The badass version of your future self is calling you.
    TRUST that person.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Catharsis: Less is More

    Sometimes, when things are bad, I talk too much.
    Because I want people to know what I am thinking.
    Because they MUST know what I am thinking.
    Because I got hurt, or I'm afraid.
    And I need to blame, or share, or validate, or search for hope in some fashion.
    ... as if the gods were listening.

    "Where are your Gods, now?", said the Stranger to the Kid in the ruined Bastion.

    "They are busy... doing important things in other places. But they'll hear me eventually, and then things will get better."

    "The gods are listening.
    They have heard you, but they can't do anything, kid.
    ... because their "hands are tied", either by another god or a fear of conflict.
    ... or because they don't have the time to deal with it, even though you must deal with it
    ... or because they don't understand the words being used when wizards fight
    You can't do anything because authority is the key element, and you have none of that.
    And so the suffering will continue, the gods and you and me all agree that the situation is bad."

    The kid thought long and hard about the stranger's words.  He had been doing a lot of talking, lately.

    Words work when the gods have the attention, understanding, and empowerment to change things... but in godless country, words are just an indulgent reminder of how truly powerless we are over things that are unwilling or unable to change for the better.

    There comes a point where people just get tired of hearing about your open wound.

    And so, the talking ended.
    John Marston knew what he had to do.

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Love and Happiness Through The Looking Glass

    This journal entry is for anyone on the outside looking in.
    I have recently become on the inside looking out.

    The Choice
    Something I did not truly internalize until recently in life:
    Love and Happiness are CHOICES.
    They are internal choices and not external situations.

    The absolute definitions for Love and Happiness are defined by the self.
    Nobody but you can tell you that your definition is wrong.

    You can not control the weather, but you CAN control you.
    You CAN control what you DO and how you FEEL when it rains.
    And you can CHOOSE to be happy during the worst of thunderstorms.

    Like Happiness, Love is a choice.
    It is NOT a stroke of luck or a spell that is cast upon you by another.
    When you are in love with somebody, it is because YOU are CHOOSING to Love.

    That Love will serve you well as long as your accomplice is also a willing participant who CHOOSES to love you back. If there is such a thing as a soul-mate, then your true soul-mate will love you back.

    Equilibrium Between The External and Internal
    There are limits to how much our interactions can achieve and how much we can alter own way of thinking.

    We have standards for Love and Happiness.
    We can’t just love anything that comes our way or be happy about any situation that arises.
    But the fact is that Love and Happiness are powerful universal NEEDS,
    and life becomes easier when we prioritize those needs over our limitations.
    "The happiest people are either very lucky or very flexible in their criteria for happiness."
    -Matthew Y. Wong, Ph.D.
    So our challenge in life is to find that equilibrium between how much we can change the world around us and how much we can change ourselves.

    Unconditional Love and Happiness
    Marriage is a promise to love, unconditionally.

    The breakthrough that occurs in the transition from “Dating” to “Marriage” is the commitment to make the Relationship more important than the self as if it were... a third self.

    There might be such a thing as a promise to be happy, unconditionally.
    Perhaps this is the original promise that one can make to their first self.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Redefining "Religion"

    The Awareness Problem
    They say that in any organization/tribe/civilization, approximately 95% of the decision-making power is held by 5% of the people.  Empirical evidence suggests that relationships are a stronger factor in decision-making than actual correctness.

    This happens partially because we are genetically hard-wired to seek approval as a form of motivation.  That, combined with the fact that one person can not effectively process more than a person's worth of information causes our minds to think in terms of specialization.  We delegate the processing of "surplus" information to others in order to preserve precious attention bandwidth.

    Delegating Awareness
    This cycle of converting information into decisions is the dominant pattern of how humans deal with the unknown.  We leverage trust as the commodity that allows us to trade certainty for peace of mind.
    "I do not know the answer, but I know somebody that does..."
    We are genetically hard-wired to trust.  This is not going to change anytime, soon.  From the moment we are born, we want to trust and derive pleasure from being able to trust.


    Giving Form to the Unknown
    Religion is our personal relationship with the unknown.
    "I do not know the answer, but I know that there is an answer..."
    It may manifest as an anthropomorphized deity representing "the trusted one", or it may simply manifest as avid Atheism and dedication to science.  Whatever form it takes, religion is essentially our personal compass that gives us a working mental model that we trust for making optimal decisions with the subset of information available to us.

    Faith in Truth Outside the Self
    We can not fight the fact that relationships are a more sustainable mechanism for decision-making than correctness.  The human brain is optimized for operations within a social structure.  Being correct consumes more mental energy than maintaining relationships.  Relationships offer a promise of stability in a world where truths can either be unstable, lost in translation, or ineffectual; one's relationship to truth is more stable than actual truths due to the degree of control we are afforded over that relationship.  In other words, it is much easier for our human brains to manage a relationship with truth than it is for brains to manage the overwhelming volume of unprocessed raw facts.

    Religion is our relationship with everything outside of the self.
    We want to trust our mental model of how things work, and some of us may even go so far as to engage in "faith"... trading certainty for peace of mind so that every possible question that could ever exist has a sense of closure that is intrinsic to the mental model we choose.  Instead of truth, we appoint a method that represents that truth.


    The Code We Live By
    Religion is the algorithm by which we program our brains to deal with uncertainty.  When established recipes for verbs become insufficient, we synthesize new plans by running available data through established algorithms... written either by the self or by another.

    The personal Code we live by exists because we have an identity that requires an interface between the self and the non-self.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Triangular Theory of Friendship


    Inspired by the Triangular Theory of Love

    Friendships often begin as kinship. But then... marriages can happen, cities might change, babies might get born, and lives become different in ways that alter the common grounds that hold many friendships together.

    Availability may not come naturally when the commonality is lost. Sometimes, you choose to make the time for a friend that otherwise has no place in your life.

    Vulnerability can be the hardest thing to expose. The choice to be a friend and the choice to stay a friend begins and ends with this.

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Tungsten-Carbide Alloy

    By itself, single-element metals are highly malleable because the molecules of the metal are uniform in size, and this gives adjacent molecules room to move as each molecule acts like a ball joint to its neighbors.

    Alloys are created by infusing a large-molecule metal with another element that has a much smaller molecule. The smaller molecules fill in the empty spaces between the large molecules, thereby making the metal seem more solid as the large molecules are fastened into place by the tight packing of small molecules in between the large molecules. Within an alloy mix, the same amount of space can contain more matter because previously unused space is now efficiently filled by smaller molecules.

    Density increases.  The two elements will inevitably occupy a space that is less than the space occupied by each element separately.

    The heavy metal can be quite formidable by itself, but as an alloy, it can become more effective at achieving goals while maintaining a desired equilibrium.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Detecting and Moving Duplicate Files with Perl

    I had used iTunes the wrong way, and it auto-generated numerous duplicate copies of my music files within my music folders (song.m4a, song 1.m4a, song 2.m4a, etc...).  Manually deleting those files would have been extremely tedious as the duplicates were spread out across multiple nested folders within my Music directory.

    I decided to teach myself Perl this weekend.
    My goal was not really to master Perl as much as it was to solve this very specific problem I had created for myself.

    Perl is... interesting, to say the least.
    If coding wars happened ONLY on battlegrounds of string and file manipulations
    ... and success was measured ONLY by the number of verbs per keystroke
    ... then Perl would be far superior to C++.

    The program I wrote to move all duplicated files out into another folder for manual deletion lives here:
    http://ringofblades.org/Blades/Code/MoveDuplicates.txt

    I wrote a second program to move non-mp3 files (*.wma and *.m4a) if an mp3 with matching filename was found:
    http://ringofblades.org/Blades/Code/MoveNonMp3Copies.txt

    Today, I also learned that servers do not like it when you post files with a .pl extension.

    Special thanks goes out to the internet Perl community... Who taught me how to program in Perl without the need for any book purchases.

    I used Strawberry Perl... because strawberries are pretty.

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Reprogramming the Human Brain

    In mid-2009, I had to understand what was happening and why it kept happening to different people around me, and so I began reading about personality traits with regard to regions of the human brain.

    Much research has been compiled from studies done on victims of stroke, cranial injuries, and genetic conditions.  I scribbled down a synopsis of relevant findings on my whiteboard (which also included my TODO list at the time)...



    From these groupings, certain archetypical patterns became apparent.

    An overactive limbic system often leads to an inability to regulate emotions.  Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors are often prescribed to cap the intense peaks and valleys often experienced by those with bipolar disorders and similar emotional imbalances.

    Of notable interest is the potential association between anxiety and handwriting.

    The temporal lobes are particularly susceptible to outer head trauma.  Accident victims with head injuries may exhibit symptoms of damaged cells in the temporal lobe region.  This can often affect a person's sense of judgement, language, and morality.

    And the cingulate system... this is where your buttons live.  Game developers, marketing firms, and drug dealers alike would very much like to have direct access to this region of your brain in order to convert your compulsions into agents of their system.

    But they can't get in if you already have a religon.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Intentional Friendships

    I turned 35 exactly one month ago.  The theme over the past few months has been to streamline various aspects of my life to make sure that the energy I put into things results in a meaningful threshold of effect.

    One area that has reached outside my comfort zone is the way that I have been managing friendships.  There has been much sorting over the past few months... many casualties  The following guidelines for judging friendship were developed during this sorting process.
    • Shared verbs are mandatory if a genuine friendship is to be maintained... otherwise, they are a Facebook-only friend
    • Friendship can generate expectations, which can generate fears... common verbs justify repetitions of proximity.  Verbs are the medium through which friendship flows.
    • Common verbs do not always need to be a collaboration
    • An inner circle can hold about seven people; any more than that will result in leakage.
    • The choice is mine as much as theirs. I will be rejected. It won't be personal. No expectations... only trial and error.
    • Having a routine of verbs eventually leads to having well-defined openings to fill with friendship activites
    • I do not need to be everybody's friend. Neutral is acceptable and more common than emotional intimacy... after all, there are only approximately seven openings within the inner circle.
    • People change... It is normal for people to come in as buddies and leave as strangers within one's life... we share wonderful moments with good people all the time... this does not mean that we are entitled to continue sharing those moments if our taste in verbs is no longer a natural match.
    • Three Axes of Friendship: Identity Reinforcement, Reciprocal Trust, and Mutual Commitment
    The Plan
    Agency: Cultivate Intentional Friendships.
    Time as a Resource: Cull out friendships that feel obligatory.
    Directed Target: Imagine what an ideal friend does.  Do those things.  Be that person.
    Technique: To counteract the tendency towards blind loyalty, use the lens of amnesia to filter intrinsic friendship behavior from obligatory friendship behavior.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    The Book of Lenses

    Your answer is personal, but the right question can help get you there...
    • Lens of No History: Would you let this continue if you could only remember the last 8 minutes?
    • Lens of Infinite Time: How would being an immortal affect your choices?
    • Lens of the Future Badass: What would your future self do if your future self was a very wise badass.
    • Lens of Novelty: How much of this is truly sustainable?  Would you still keep going at this once the novelty wears off and daily life settles back in?
    • Lens of Limited Time: If you only had three months to live, would you be doing this, right now?
    • Lens of Utility: Does doing this yield benefits equal to or greater than the cost of not doing this?
    • Lens of Androgyny: Would the situation still be perceived the same way if the gender were different?  Why would gender be a factor, and is that a rational line of thought?
    • Lens of Opportunity: If it makes you feel bad, then what can you do instead that would be a better use of your time?
    • Lens of Verbs: Strip away every noun label and every adjective modifier... Look only at the verbs.  Do you still want this in your life?
    • Lens of Maslow: For the effort you are about to spend time on, which level of Maslow's Hierarchy are you addressing? Are lower levels of the pyramid sufficiently fulfilled for you to be prioritizing this level, right now?
    • Lens of Three: Pick the three most important things to you in life... health, money, love?  Will this serve or work against those three highest priorities?
    These are the questions that have worked for me so far.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Thresholds for Unsolicited Advice

    I was recently reminded of the concept of things having value if you suffer for it/earn it...

    It made me think of the concept of UNSOLICITED advice... where another person's "wisdom" is just handed over for free. It doesn't ever seem to absorb as well as the kind of advice that people figure out on their own.

    There must be a threshold somewhere.... a threshold in which the words you tell a person are not told, but shared. Shared in a way in which the person feels as if they are contributing to the dialog as they engage in a collaborative process towards a truth.

    Because truth is personal, and pushing your truth on someone is akin to forcefully rubbing your scent glands on that person in the hopes of making them smell like you.

    Anything more than sharing is telling, and people do telling naturally because humans seek validation for their identity.

    Anything less than sharing is work (as one may need to do with coworkers)... work in learning and work in accepting the intrusion of another into your personal process... because empathy requires work to manifest.

    Sometimes you have to listen, and that is work.
    Sometimes you are asked to tell, and that is a privilege.
    There is a time and a place for both... and for neither.

    New Thing: Try my very best to avoid giving UNSOLICITED advice. I would rather be compassionate than correct. Because that is the right thing to do. This is my advice to you that you should take. Don't be a hypocrite; drop whatever you believe in and take this valuable advice that I am handing over to you for free!

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    The Truth About Truth

    At this point in my life, I've come to the following counter-intuitive conclusions:
    • Speaking Truth can be a selfish act
    • Truth is not the ultimate answer to everything
    • Truth is a means to an end, and that end is validation of identity
    I am reminded that most of us are trained to become masters of data, knowledge, and correctness... into knowing things and being able to analyze things, but after all is said and done, we exist in fragile human frames that respond to emotions more so than any truth.

    It is this little quirk about us that allows us to smoke harmful cigarettes when we know that it may bring a horrible painful death upon us... because the truth of danger is drowned out by the emotion of want.

    And it is this quirk that can make us walk away from a relationship at the slightest sign of strife... because the truth of safety can be drowned out by the emotion of fear.

    Inversely, one might stay in a harmful relationship because the truth of harm is drowned out by an emotion that is considered to be "love" by the beholder.

    The compass always points to identity. Most people accept only the truths that support their self image... what they already know or wish to be true about who they are. The reality you choose to accept is based on who you think you are.

    Every word, every silence, every action and inaction serves an explicit EMOTION more so then truth. Every meaningful interaction has an emotional intent from the source, and an emotional effect on the receiver. Ideally, the emotion between source and receiver would coincide, but this is not always the case because truth is personal while emotions are universal.

    You always have a choice... to either be correct or compassionate.

    The human brain is infinitely capable of rationalizing any truth as being the absolute truth. This "absolute truth" is personal. Our brain can convince itself into believing or denying anything if it does not fit an existing model of what we already "know" about the world and ourselves. If somebody wants to believe that something is true, they will find a way to rationalize it.

    You always have a choice... to either challenge one's identity with unsolicited correctness or choose to coexist with different truths that lead to common emotions.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    On the subject of Twitter/Facebook disdain

    So here's the deal,

    You don't have to use Twitter, nor do you have to get on Facebook. You don't have to do anything in this world that you don't want to do. When you do transmit signals into the internet, you expect to get something out of it.... whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or this Journal... there is an intention behind everything. Some useful things that people get out of Facebook/Twitter include the following:
    • Entertainment
    • Information
    • Interaction opportunities that lead to changes in social configurations
    • Verb opportunities
    • Solicited advice
    • Opportunities for expression (yes, this is a valid human need)
    Most people suck, and you probably don't want to know them. It is perfectly okay to say that you are happy with your current circle of friends and see no need to expand and maintain links with a group of people who may be acquaintances at best.

    The purpose of Twitter and Facebook is to provide opportunities to participate in a network of other people who seek the same. It is a tool, not an obligation.

    So if the concept of Facebook and Twitter offend you for some reason, then ask yourself what it is, exactly, that makes you so angry at what other people are doing with their own time. Seriously... try to put this into a sentence made up of vocabulary words. After you've thought about it, consider saving yourself the trouble of dealing with any of it by deleting your account. That would be easy enough to do.

    People who actively participate on Facebook and Twitter must get something out of it, and that is why they continue to use it despite the hassles with interface and inundation of unsolicited reading material. It doesn't matter if you don't relate to the motivations of the typical active Facebook'er/Twitter'er... It is very likely that they have different needs for social engagement than you.

    In Maslow's hierarchy, social needs are a very real requirement for human beings, humans will degrade if their need for social involvement is not sufficiently met. We live in an age where members of society are generally impatient and will actively seek out the things they want instead of waiting for opportunities to randomly fall into their lap. Most friendships and romantic involvements do not happen the way they do in Hollywood movies, they happen because people put out request signals and somebody else answers them.

    So what is your intention for getting on a site like Facebook or Twitter? To know about things? To maximize opportunities? To broadcast information?
    • If you have no intention, then get off those sites! Other users will only take from you, and you will get nothing out of it.
    • If you have an intention, then embrace it. Don't be shy about it. The site exists to serve your intentions, and you have a pool of cohorts that have agreed to be in on this social exchange
    Whatever the case, participation has always been voluntary and optional. Getting mad at people who use Facebook or Twitter does not really accomplish anything unless it is your goal to revel in being mad about something. Getting mad at frivolous things that really don't affect you is one way of making yourself feel important... but that is a topic for another day.

    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    The Identity Compass

    For anything to be considered of worthy value, it must be attained through a sufficient ordeal. Suffering is the true currency through which we gain the attention of souls.

    Time is the only resource we truly own... we have only a finite amount to spend on ourself and others... and we will never have enough time to please everybody whose path we cross. Disappointment on both sides is inevitable.

    "What do I want?"

    Truth makes happen what needs to happen... and so when faced with a difficult choice, you can only refer to your personal compass to guide you towards the identity you are willing to bond with... for your truth is your identity, and there is no absolute truth as much as there is a truth that you choose to fall in love with for that time in your life.

    To believe in something... to have a policy on your actions is to protect yourself from future regrets by staying true to the identity you have chosen for yourself. When faced with a difficult choice, then the path that coincides with who you want to be is the right path because the difficult choice itself is marked by suffering and, therefore, is a decision of worthy value that can define you, or at the very least, reinforce who you are.

    Being who you are might mean hurting others, but it has to be that way because obligation at the sacrifice of identity is never a valid path to happiness.

    You always have a choice on who you want to be.
    You always have the option to just wake up one day and choose to be "that person".

    "What is my identity?"

    Sometimes, the situation is too chemically charged to see what you need to see. That is why we develop a relationship with "the other"... the friend, the confidant, the god, the goddess... "The other" is a sentient representation of the universe that we trust with our identity. The other can be a living human being, or it can be something more abstract. We keep a piece of our soul with the other so that if we ever lose ourself, we can simply refer to "the other" to be reminded of our own reflection.

    "What do I want to become?"

    Choices are an opportunity to expand the definition of who we are. Once defined in a new area, subsequent choices in the future can become more apparent.

    My "other" would tell me this:
    Let your intentions drive your reality instead of the other way around. Visualize the lego castle you wish to have... and one by one, those missing pieces will find their place because you will explore, and you will discover, build, and place them with your own hands. Define your target: Your self-intended identity, the reality you seek - That is your compass. Follow that, and all of your choices eventually become the choice you needed to make at the time to evolve the complex entity that is you.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Reality Bend Spell

    Anger or sadness is your brain's way of telling you that something is wrong. You have a choice to either change the world, change yourself, or accept reality as it is. Each choice requires a form of sacrifice.

    Hoping for others to change or letting the situation work itself out sacrifices your agency.

    Casting a spell sacrifices the comfort and inertia of the now for the potential upheaval of an uncertain future that you are responsible for. Whatever happens will be caused by you, and it will be different from the now.

    Be ready: Casting a spell must be done on purpose and with conviction.
    ___

    1. The first phase of the spell requires giving form to the anatomy of the problem...
    by assigning a shape and definition to that which seems formless, we provide an opportunity to affect that anatomy.

    Vocabulary is a weapon. By giving form to the formless, we make the monster vulnerable to our intentions.

    ___

    2. The second phase of the spell is definition of the desired form...
    This is your target reality. At the end of the spell, your declaration will become true. Defining a target allows you to decide whether to continue or stop this process.

    Setting a goal gives your will a tangible focus.
    ___

    3. The third phase of the spell is the transformation...
    It requires that you understand the movable parts of that tangible form to surgically alter its signature. No matter how difficult it may seem, You MUST MOVE parts of the monster's anatomy to see changes.

    Meaningful actions bend reality.
    ___

    4. The fourth and final phase is acknowledgment of the new reality...
    This is confirmation that your spell is finished. By declaring that the spell is done, you allow your sense of agency to rest. Failure to complete this step will result in perpetual restlessness as the spell slowly consumes you from the inside out: living in the past or future, but never the present.

    When the change becomes real, its effect becomes real. Acknowledge the outcome.

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Meta-Pattern

    They say that misery is like an old childhood friend that validates our suffering like a badge of achievement. To survive is to live, prevailing over the machinations of a world that refuses to cooperate. We seek out this misery as if it were a missing piece of our very definition, and if we can't find it within ourselves, we end up seeking it in others. And if we can't find it in others, we make up our own misery in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy... so that we may feel like a complete person content to embrace our woefully incomplete selves, misery and all.

    There are those in power who understand this concept masterfully. They understand that you need something to believe in. They will give you something to be miserable about, and from that, they will provide a source of hope to believe in. You will be broken down and reformed to a citizen of their own creation... ready to fight and die for the values that they believe you should be fighting for.

    We start out knowing nothing. Thrust into the fold whether we're ready or not, whether we choose to participate or not... we are in the game. We can refuse to believe in the game. We can choose not to participate, but then our world stagnates in a state of frustration as we become keenly aware of events taking place all around us but not with us. We can choose not to play, and we may find others who refuse to play as well... but it won't last... because patterns can't be avoided, and the game is a tapestry of patterns.

    You start out knowing nothing, but eventually, you see the pattern. And as soon as a pattern becomes defined, then a metagame on top of the game becomes apparent. This is the set of rules that build on top of the established patterns in a context of continued discovery and progression. It is at this point that everything becomes an inside joke, and the language moves away from the mundane and becomes more abstract to outsiders. Entire monologues could be conveyed with a simple look. Conflicts can occur before they even start. The threat of permanence leads to a projection of the present into the one remaining unknown that is guaranteed to remain unknown... Amplifying the future and dampening the present.

    The lesson I've learned from all this is that the direct path is never the successful path. When you yearn for something, it will elude you. When you embark on a seemingly random path, it will find you. It is the pattern that says that things must be attained through a sufficient ordeal in order to be considered a thing of value. The ordeal can be marked by either suffering or blind luck, but it must feel rare and special in order to be appreciated. Approach directly, and you will obviously be trying too hard. Approach from the side, and it will look like a chance occurrence. We give a piece of our lives to the things that we deem profound, and we demand a proportional ordeal in return for our precious mindshare. This is the nature of the metagame. Always bet on the lucky general.

    Monday, July 06, 2009

    Whatever It Takes

    We are looking for context. Meaning. We want to know that the things we did do matter, that we matter... and that our suffering and efforts meant something - nothing wasted. The narrative has a happy ending when the random set of generic events come together in a system that makes sense to us... with every observable action having meaningful context. The entropy of the world makes sense when everything has a context... As if the universe were a living sentient entity that one could have a real two-way relationship with.

    Every conversation we have, every movie we see, game we play, thing we read, in everything we do, we seek a context that promises the potential to affect our future thoughts in a never-ending drive to modify our own internal genetic algorithms. Anything without personal context ultimately renders the experience empty or irrelevant.

    We try so very hard to seek that relationship with our universe. It is the only way we know how to interact with our world: as a relationship with a sentient "other". full of context. empathy. with likes and dislikes. To have a relationship with an entity is to have control over how that entity affects us. This control manifests as an identity: the labels that we allow ourselves to wear and the verbs implied by those labels.

    We are not looking for truth. We never were. We never are. We are looking for what the truth would promise us: Meaning. Emotional Context. an Identity we can call our own. Understanding. Control. Peace with what we believe to be our own truths. Validation from an "other".

    We seek out this context in the various forms of media and interactions that reflect back at us like a Looking Glass... mixing ourselves with ingredients to experience the alchemy that makes us... Gravitating towards the edges of silhouettes that belong to forms worthy of our recognition.

    Our emotions, both good and bad, are driven by the context of our experiences.  Effort is the currency through which we acquire the validation of these experiences.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Channels of Reality

    The channels of reality seem to fall into three distinct categories:

    1. Input

    That which is given, including what we give ourselves: Starting identity and Channels of interaction.
    What Is.


    2. Agency

    Action.
    To SEPARATE from that which is given.
    To do.


    3. Communion

    Identity.
    To JOIN with that which exists.
    To become.


    RESTLESSNESS | EQUILIBRIUM
    We spin endlessly in this cycle in the hopes that movement will place us at a location that minimizes the need for maintenance. When we find that spot of equilibrium, the world makes sense and our relationship with the universe feels stable.

    ENTITLEMENT | ADAPTATION
    Sometimes, the world challenges the identity that we have established by violating the boundaries defined by the moral authority of our internal compass. When the code is broken, we have a choice to make: Either assert the correctness of our own code or accommodate the perceived usage pattern that has manifested from the input.

    THE TRAP | THE CHOICE
    We are trapped when there are no more choices to make.

    Beliefs are a choice. It is the first choice we make.
    • The Concepts we believe influence the Inputs we choose to perceive.
    • The Inputs we perceive direct the Actions we choose to take.
    • The Actions we take dictate the Person that we choose to become.
    • That Person we become is a testament to the Concepts we believe in.
    Identity is a choice. We will revise that choice often throughout our lifetime.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    The Designer's Intended Value

    Can a quality product be completed without a designer? Sure, if one of two things were true:
    1. Everybody on the production team was fully capable of cohesively visualizing the ramifications of their component before actually implementing it
    2. There was infinite time to iterate on the implementation of bad ideas until they become good ideas
    Time is rarely infinite and trusting everyone on the team to maintain a cohesive vision of the product can be a gamble. For that reason, most projects will involve people whose role it is to supplement the team's ability to visualize the details before time is spent on the implementation of those details.

    Depending on the industry, these people are called Producers, Directors, Project Managers, or Designers. The idea is that the cost of thinking is cheaper than the cost of doing production work before finding out that it was a bad idea, solution, or plan. The consequence of bad design is a bad product at best and an unfinished product at worst.

    So... what are the broad metrics of a designer?
    • Pre-Visualization: Using associative cognition to set a good target in conjunction with analysis of resources to ensure that the target is completed in a form that satisfies the original aesthetic/pragmatic intent. Resources include time, people, tools, and feedback. Iteration can't be avoided, but it does have a cost associated with it. Therefore, one who is really good at pre-visualizing will be of higher value than one who does not hone this ability at all.
    • Two-Way Communication/Relationships: Debates will happen. People will not blindly follow. Reading minds is not standard practice. The designer is not always correct and is unlikely to know everything. Unless the designer is going to implement everything her/himself, this person will need to deal with people factors.
    Nobody is perfect, and the same holds true for any Designer, Programmer, Artist, or whatever it is that describes any function for a human being.

    The designer is the person who can hold it all in the head and communicate it to a team of collaborators: Scheduling, Planning, Creative Direction... these are all skill sets that can be contained in one person but may need to be delegated to others for large projects. Knowing when to delegate is key along with other skills such as knowing when to take a gamble or cut losses.

    In Japan, this job function is not called "designer". Instead, they are called "planners". This seems to be a more accurate term as the emphasis of the function is not on creativity as much as it is on problem solving.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Going Meta

    1. If you live in a one dimensional world and go meta on that world, then you imagine what a second dimension must feel like by making conjectures about how occurrences in one dimension may have repercussions on that one dimension based on calculations that involve a hypothetical second dimension
    2. Similarly, if you live in a two dimensional world and go meta on that world, you imagine a third dimension where things are happening in the two dimensions based on effects/occurrences within the third dimension
    3. If we consider time to be the fourth dimension. Then going meta on the current state of our three dimensional world is merely taking time into account as we make our calculations of current state as a function of time.
    4. We could take time into account for our calculations of a one dimensional world or two dimensional world. It is possible to go meta on any non-apparent dimension for any existing model of current state because meta is merely taking a dimension into account that has always been there whether it is perceived or not
    5. Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Reality is what you choose to believe. We all live in our own delusions whether we believe that or not. The simulation model of current state is merely a delusion that we choose to believe based on stimulus and perceptual filters. We need a simulation model in order to predict states as a function of imperceptible dimensions
    6. We have the option to deal with the complexity of personal relationships by "going meta" on them. We can do this by believing in a personal model that is congruent with our current stimuli and perceptual filters:
      • We have, within each of us, the ability to broadcast signals that can be absorbed by others
      • We absorb signals generated by others
      • Signals we absorb will influence future generated signals from ourselves
      • All of us are universal broadcasters, capable of broadcasting signals that we have never absorbed, but major factors that determine the broadcast probability of a specific signal are...
        • Proximity of the receiver to the sender
        • Past absorption of that particular signal within the sender
        • Frequency of past instances of signal broadcasts from the sender
        • Sender's awareness of the signal potential
      • Every signal we are capable of broadcasting can be involuntarily broadcasted in a way that conflicts with our intentions. This occurs most often when the sender is not aware of the signal's existence or does not comprehend its potential repercussions
      • There are no absolute good signals or bad signals... those definitions come entirely from the receiver based on the receiver's personal reality which derives its criteria from past stimuli and perceptual filters.
      • Although the sender's criteria for positive and negative may conflict with the receiver's criteria, neither criteria can be said to be more valid than the other as they are both derived from personal delusions of potentially equal conviction.
      • Existing in a bubble without any outreach to society means that you will not affect society in any way, which means that you will not generate signals that enter the societal consciousness of signal flow, which means that the burden of acknowledging your existence falls solely on the self... if you were to exist within a self-contained bubble
      • Survival is not enough: The self is an insufficient validator of existence. Our species is hard wired to be externally motivated. Thousands of years of societal breeding have favored humans who are willing to do things for other humans. To give ourselves a reason to wake up in the morning, we are compelled to validate our own existence by generating signals within the range of valid receivers so that we can feel a sense of agency in the world that goes beyond just mere survival.