Dec 052012

Yesterday, while talking about where I work with someone, I mentioned that I take the commuter rail into Boston—a 45ish minute commute. The other person’s response, “Oh, so you have that commute,” as though she sympathized with the pain of such a long commute.

That struck me, because while the commute I have now is about as long as the one I had commuting into Providence, I actually look forward to it. Where before I would have thanked her for her sympathy and acknowledged how unpleasant long commutes are1, I am actually quite glad to have the commute I do because it affords me the opportunity to write for an hour and a half every day with no distractions.

Worldbuilding for the next book involves Calculus and relativistic physics. The reader will never see any of this, but it has a direct impact on when the events of the story play out. I also have a very rough story outline, well ahead of my January 31 deadline and wrote a dialog skeleton for the last scene in the book while on the train this morning. Can’t wait to dive into this one!

Writers write, but writers must also read. I’ve been lax about this, much to my chagrin, but surging through Ashes, finishing it, and releasing it has stirred in me the desire to read more—a lot more. I’m angling to get a Kindle for Christmas to further facilitate this, at which point I will probably spend all the money on buying the various books on my Goodreads to-read list.

  1. Rest assured, I’m under no illusion that 45 minutes is even in the ballpark of “worst commute.” []
Aug 062009

Been a while since my last post.  Since then, a ton of stuff has happened.

  • We fully moved-in to our house (though we’re still only about 25% unpacked).
  • We set a date for the wedding (8/7) and have picked a location for the reception, which may double as the wedding site too.
  • We selected/customized Cody’s engagement ring and matching wedding band
  • My company laid off about 25% of its work force (a layoff I rather miraculously was not a part of).
  • The Vampire game has resumed.

I’m probably forgetting a few things, but those are the big highlights.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted often of late is that it seems a bit of a chore to go to the blog page, log in, write up a post, etc, etc. I’ve recently implemented an easier method of posting that I think should make posting a more frequent occurrence. I’ve also got to get over my internal reluctance to post a battery of short posts as I think of things to say. If Twitter has proven anything, it’s that people enjoy hearing about the exploits of others in short bites. I don’t think I’ll ever hop on the Twitter bandwagon, though (famous last words…).

I finally got LaTeX-style rendering working on my wikis. It’s not that this is particularly difficult to do, but rather I had never had a server setup that would allow me to make the necessary changes to support it before. The particular implementation I’m using right now is MimeTeX. I had to do some custom hackery to make it work (specifically, my server did not seem content to create image links with some of the formatting required by TeX, so I wrote a PHP “middleman” that stands between the MediaWiki math engine and the MimeTeX CGI to properly handle formatting), but it’s great fun.

The major motivating factor in getting the TeX support to work is that I wanted to explore the idea of “damage potential” in EVE Online. Because of the way damage works in EVE, specifically with turrets, a given ship using a given type of gun is going to do the most damage at close range, and then see that damage falloff gradually as the target gets farther and farther away. This isn’t accounting for aspects of the target, which also play a role. The formula for this falloff is known and can be calculated, but I wanted to see how different ships stacked up to one another when they were compared.

I decided that the best way to do this would be to integrate the falloff curve (i.e. find the area bound by the DPS graph for the ship). Of course, this led to about 15 hours of wrestling with a truly atrocious integral. After consulting with Wolfram’s online integrator, engineers at work, the think tank at SDN, my dad, Cody, and Dr. Math,it became clear that the only way to solve the integral was via approximation and a computer.  I wrote up a Python script to do the integral and started getting good results.  I’m not really sure how valid they are, though.  Mathematically, they’re sound, but I’m not sure about their practical application.

I think that’s about it for now.