Category Archives: Game Development

Cooling Overheating PS3 Cabinet

The Playstation 3 is a very powerful machine. So powerful that it needs a lot of electricity to run, and that means it produces lots of heat. It has a very efficient built-in fan to keep it from melting down, but when it gets too hot, the fan starts to run very fast, making a noise something like a small jet taking off.

My PS3 is in a cabinet with a glass door, and I use mostly for watching DVDs. If the door is closed, then the PS3 will overheat in about 30 minutes which makes it hard to hear, but if I leave the door open, then all is cool, except you can now hear the normal fan noise from the PS3. I did not like this state of affairs – for one thing I would forget, and half-way through watching a DVD I would hear this horrible high-pitched roar coming from the cabinet, and I’d have to either ignore it and hope it did not explode, or open the door and listen to it at full volume until it cooled down.

I could move the PS3, but there is really nowhere for it to go in a way that my wife would find aesthetically pleasing, so it’s kind of stuck there. Adding an aftermarket PS3 fan such as the “intercooler” is pointless, since the problem is the air inside the cabinet getting too hot, and having nowhere to go. The PS3 is quite capable of cooling itself, so long as it is “well ventilated”. So I decided what I needed to do was mod the cabinet by adding a cooling fan that would blow in cold air.
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Running Progress

There’s two runs I do now, a run to Original Muscle Beach (OMB) and back, with a workout between the runs, and then a run that’s 3.2 miles, slightly over a 5K.

The OMB run is 1.1 miles, so I treat it as a mile run, and judge the run by my mile pace. I started doing this run back in October 2006, and the first time I recorded was 10:34. Actually the first time I tried the run I actually did not make the full mile, and had to stop half-way with legs hurting.

Now (May 2007), I’ve got my time down to 7:57, which is about a 7:13 mile pace. I just need to knock it down to 7:42 in order to have run a seven minute mile. I’m very confident I’ll be able to hit this target within a few weeks.

I’ve had on and off problem with my knee. The worst problem seem to come if I miss running for anything more than a few days. Like when we went to vacation to Japan, and Hawaii, both times I had horrible painful runs the first time I did it on returning. Yet now if I run every day, I don’t seem to have any problems. Running almost seems to act as a pain killer. My left arm was giving me problems from OMB workouts, but after todays run it seemed fine.

The 5K run has also improved a lot. I did my first 5K run in 32:59 – had to walk a little bit. The next time I ran the whole way in 32:12 (Nov 12th 2006). Then the very next day Holly challenged me to a race I I did it in 29:52. By February I was down to 27:29, and three days ago I got to 25:30, a pace of 7:56. My goal for the year was pretty much to do 5K at a 8:00 pace, and I’ve already done that. I’ll probably aim at getting my run under 25 minutes, then 24, 23, 22 …. Eventually I’d like to run 5K at 7 minute pace and do a single mile in 6:30. Maybe next year.

Taking off Shoes in Japan

We had heard that you have to take your shoes off a lot in Japan. I even got some slip-on shoes (Clarks Privo, very nice). But actually, excepting the Ryokan, there were not that many places on the stay where we did. Here’s the list:

1) A Japanese restaurant in Kyoto, on the street up to Kiyomizudera, we had to sit on cushions. Delicious food.
2) Nijo castle in Kyoto, where you get to walk on the “nightingale floor” in your socks.

That’s it! Or course in the Ryokan you have to change slippers ever five feet, but if you are not staying at a Ryokan (or someone’s house), then I’d really not worry too much about it. Brad advised us to favor comfort over ease of removing, and I totally agree. Luckily my shoes were both comfortable, and removable, just make sure you break them in. You walk a lot in Japan – even if you taxi everywhere, the temple-type sites are big, so good shoes are a must.

Lest I forget

I’m in the airport right now, with about three hours to go before the plane leaves. On the way here I was thinking of some of the odd things that I might simply forget if I left it a few days.

The Japanese seem very organized. At Starbucks in Shibuya there were people working the line, handing out menus in advance, the taking them off you, as they were also on the countertop, then when they took your order, another little line formed, and someone managed the whole line, looking at your reciept, and getting your drink when it was ready and shuffling you off.

Traffic organziation is highly manpower intensive. Every little building or site entrance has at least one person with a red illuminated baton who will stop pedestrians to let out cars or trucks. Sometimes there are several of these, and they rotate to form little corridors to alternately let pedestrains or cars through. Sometimes you see life sized screens with an animated figure of a flag waving man. On the way to the airport I saw an animated wooded figure that was waving a familar red baton back and forth.

ISO 9001 seems a source of pride. Companies hand banners outside their offices or factories, proclaiming “ISO 9001!”

As you depart on a bus, they bow to you.

I forget the rest.

Random Japan

I’m very tall in Japan. The only people taller than me are other gaijin. But nobody ever looks at me oddly. I feel like the tallest person in Tokyo, but I’m only 6’2″.

Taxis seem very expensive. It’s 660 Yen for the the first 2Km, but all our trips seemed around 2000 Yen. The drivers seemed fond of taking obscure back streets.

During the day it seemed hard to get a drink. I’d just want a beer. The best bets would be hotel bars.

Food is generally quite reasonably priced. You can get a very nice lunch for 1000 Yen.

It helps to think to 100 Yen = 1 dollar, even though it’s more like 115. It just makes it easier to visualize how much things cost.

The weather was very variable. It was hot and cold, sunny and rain, all within the last nine days. Today was really hot. Yesterday was freezing.

Cherry blossoms are cool. People take tarpaulins to the park and sit under them. The blossoms start falling almost as soon as they arrive, so you are in a little snowstorm of pink.

The Shinkansen was not very crowded. Nearly empty on the way to Kyoto, and less than half full on the way back.

We should have got a JR pass.

It would have been better if we stayed another two days in Kyoto, and used that as a base to visit other places.

Walking is a good way to get around, but really it’s a bit a waste of time and energy to walk anything over a half mile unless there is something on the way. Get a taxi. Your time is valuable here, and we got too tired too often.

The trip on the bus from Narita Airport to the Hotel is no fun. A taxi would be very expensive, but would at least leave immediately, and not have to go to other hotels first. The train might well be a lot quicker, but I’ve no idea how much fun it would be.

Museums were hot. Like very hot, like they had the heating turned up to 80. This is no fun when you come in from the nice cool outdoors wearing a coat.

The Shibuya area is a lot more fun than the palace/Ginza area. If you want a brief intense Tokyo experience, stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku.

Ginza is boring during the day, much more fun at night. The same can be said for many areas.

Take lots of photos! You will forget half of what happened if you don’t write it down or take photos. Take a photo of everything! We took 1,200 photos, about 1000 of which are not particularly good, but they still help document the day, so when you come to attempt to recall what you did, you have these useful points of reference.

Running a Mile

Holly started running long before I did, and she got very good at it. I’d tried to run with her before, but my knees flared up and so I stopped. I always had problems with my knees. If I walk down a mountain they turn into balls of fiery pain (no problem going up). So I’ve always assumed I had bum knees, and hence assumed I would never run more that a few yards

The thing that began to turn this belief around, rather oddly, was grippers. Yup, those hand exercise things that you squeeze to make your grip stronger. I got a set of them from Iron Mind, and they come in various strengths, 1,2,3 & 4, with 1 being the weakest. They also have an even weaker “T” (for “Trainer”) gripper. So I started on that. First attempt I could not even close that.

But closing grippers is a nice simple exercise, one you can do sitting at your desk, which is what I did. The goal with these grippers is to squeeze them closed. After a few weeks I could close the #1, but thought that the #2 was basically immovable. #3 and #4 were for the gods. But I kept squeezing away, and eventually I got the #2 closed.

I also noticed something odd. My hands hurt less than they used to.

I type a lot, and I move a mouse a lot. This used to cause me some occasional pain. But since I’d got much stronger hands, they really don’t hurt at all (except for when I over-train, but that’s another story).

So this got me a-thinking, what if my knees were not “bad”, they were simply weak. I just needed to ease into the running gradually, perhaps with some other low impact leg exercises to build up the strength in the surrounding muscles, and I could move my knees from weak to strong, and run again.

So I did. I started out doing a run to Old Muscle Beach, Santa Monica. A distance of 1.1 miles. I started doing this sometime last August (2006). My first attempt I only managed to run half way there before having to stop. I walked all the way back. But over time I improved, first being able to run all the way there. Then there and back. Then the time started dropping. I probably started around 13 minutes. By October I was doing it in 10:34, then just three weeks later I did 9:28, then the times continued to steadily drop.

There were setbacks. My knees (particularly my left knee), are not yet strong. If they get pushed too hard, they push back with pain. Sometimes I’ve had to stop because the knees hurt. Sometimes I’ve been almost unable to walk the day after because of the pain. But I just give them rest, (and, more recently, ice,) and they come back. My time has dropped and dropped, and I’ve now done it in 8:09. That’s 1.1 miles mind, so that’s actually one mile in 7:25, or if you believe the Garmin’s tracking, I’ve run a mile in 7:16. Not bad for a guy with bum knees.

The grippers taught me just how straightforward it is to build up strength in one part of your body, just with gradual exercise. It’s simple, and it’s obvious. The gripper training also comes in handy at the turning around point of my run, Old Muscle Beach, where I stop for thirty minutes and do various exercises on the bars and the traveling rings. I’m gradually strengthening up those other muscles that though they were in for an easy life.

Nihongo oh no!

Drat! The Japan trip is now a week away and I’m not really progressed a significant amount.

I have learned that the most important work is word 5, “Sumimasen”, which means the equivalent of “excuse me” and “I am sorry”, and can be used in the sense “Sumimasen, can you tell me where the train station is?”, or “Sumimasen, I’m so clumsy”.

I think I will probably learn far more on the plane, and during the trip, than I have done up to this point.

Watashi Ni

11. Watashi ni “to me” or “for me”.

Now this bugs me, “Watashi ni” is word 11, but the book really tells you very little about it, and I could not find a single example in the book that actually uses it. “Ni” is a particle meaning the preceding word is the indirect object of the sentence.

Some examples off the internet:
Watashi ni tasukero! – Help me!
Watashi ni doitsu-go ga hanasemasu. – German can be spoken with me.

12. Watashi no – my, mine
That’s more like it, now I can work towards a full translation of “My dog has no nose. How does he smell? Terrible!”. Dog, is “inu“, so would it start “watashi no inu wa (nose) arimasu ka” – probably not

Konnichi Wa! Words 1-10

We are going to Japan in six weeks, for my birthday. It’s the ideal opportunity to actually force myself to do something I’ve been wanting to do for decades – learn basic Japanese.

I’ve bought various course in Japanese over the years. I had one that I listened to in my car every day for several weeks. A few phrases stuck (“ginko wa doko desu ka?” – where is the bank?), but I never really practiced, and so thing did not really sink in.

But now I’m actually going to Nippon (Japan), I really have to learn some Nihongo (Japanese). To this end, Holly and I went to the bookstore and bought a few books on Japanese. The one this I like the best is a little blue book called “Instant Japanese”, the premise of which is that you need only learn 100 words, and with that learn 1000 things to say with those 100 words, and that will give you a solid basis for communication. This sounds like an excellent theory to me, and since I’ve got six weeks I have very high hopes of getting those 100 words down solid. I’m going to use my blog here to write about the words as I learn them, in hopes of making it stick.

The first ten words I was mostly familiar with already, here they are:

1. ohayo gozaimasu – good morning
2. konnichi wa – good day (your basic hello during the daylight hours)
3. konban wa – good evening
4. domo arigato – thank you very much
5. sumimasen – sorry/excuse me. Something I’m sure I’ll say a lot. You use it to stop people in the street when you want to ask for help in some way, and probably pretty much during every interaction.
6. dozo – please, as in “please do”, or “please, go ahead”, usually before the subject
7. kudasai – please, as in “some water please”, kudasi goes after the subject
8. mizu – water, important stuff, you need to know how to ask for water. mizu o kudasai = water please
9. watashi – I, the most common form of I
10. watakushi – I, a more formal version. Must be an important distinction to have the two version in the first ten words

There’s another word there: “o“, which is a particle used to indicate the preceding word is the object of the following action, so “mizu o kudasai” is kind of like “Water. (about which) Please.” I suppose you would summon a waiter with “sumimasen” then ask for water “mizu o kudasai“, and then thank them “domo arigato“.

domo” by itself literally means “very” or “many” or “very much”, and you can say “domo” as an abbreviated way of saying “domo arigato”. But “domo” alone is not really “thanks”, “arigato” is “thanks/thank you”

domo arigato gozaimasu = Thank you very much indeed! A more polite way of saying thank you. “Gozaimasu” seems to be just stuck on the end of things to make them more polite. Note back to word #1 “ohayo gozaimasu” (good morning). “Ohayo” is actually “good morning” and “gozaimasu“, is the polite word (meaning what?). Don’t say Ohayo to anyone you are not friends with. It’s kind of like the difference between “morning” and “good morning” used as greetings. Or perhaps “how are you?” and “wazzup?” :)

My History of Backups

Backing up one’s data is a perennial problem. I’ve been backing things up for a long time, here’s a little history.

My very first backups were actually wetware. I backed up my programs inside my brain. I was able to do this since my first “computer” was a calculator (a Casio FX180P), which only had 38 bytes of memory. So I could not help but memorize my library of software. Restoring the backups was simply a matter of tapping in the program again.

Next came the ZX81. This stored its programs on tape. Now initially I did not have a tape recorder, and the wetware solution proved inadequate, so I resorted to simply leaving the computer switched on. This meant I generally only ever used a program once, after I typed it in, and then it vanished forever a few days later. Not ideal.
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