Posted in busy, happyness, journal, life, updates

The Best Birthday Ever


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Two days ago, I turned eighteen. That’s probably hard to believe for at least some of my followers– those who started following me when I first began this blog, less than a month after my twelfth birthday. Not only that, it’s hard for _me_ to believe. Even still, call me a man all you want, I’m a child at heart.
That said, I had one of the best birthday weekends ever. It was full of surprises. I got to drive an ATV (believe it or not I was the one in control of the wheel), and eat a bunch of fried chicken and other extremely unhealthy but delicious foods. Most importantly, though, I was able to spend it with some pretty awesome people.
First, there was Danny. I believe you all know who that is. But for those who don’t, he is my best friend who I have been communicating and gaming with for the last four years. Only problem is, he lives over a thousand miles a way, so as one might imagine we never get to see each other in person. But because it was my eighteenth birthday, my family planned for Danny to come for a surprise visit. Some how, they managed to keep it a secret from me for at least a month; I never knew a thing about it until he strolled in to the kitchen while I was making breakfast and, well, introduced himself all over again, in a way. I am not sure what the word is to describe the feeling I got; a mixture of excitement, bewilderment, and disbelief. I have been wanting to meet Danny in person for probably two years now, so being surprised with it first thing in the morning of what was to be a relatively ordinary school day amplified it.
In addition, Libby came back from college. Even though she had been down for spring break just a week before, she made the trip so she could spend time with me for my birthday, because she’s an awesome sister like that. I knew it was going to be an awesome weekend.
Earlier I said it was a relatively ordinary Friday. That’s because instead of spending the whole day at school, I was going on a trip to the mall for my annual Orientation and Mobility field trip. Since Libby was home for the weekend, and Danny was visiting, they, as well as my mom, got to come on the field trip with me. We spent the morning mostly just walking around, and because Danny, Libby and I are blind, the two adults would tell us the names of stores and we would try to guess what they sold. We just had, to pass a coffee shop, so of course that is the one shop I bought anything from – out of all of the stores in that huge place. The only other store we stopped at was Microsoft. That was my first time visiting a Microsoft store. Although I personally was impressed with the goods on display, my wallet was simply intimidated. So instead of buying anything, I settled with writing on one of the demo laptops, something along the lines of this:

To the next person to come across this:

Have a nice day!
meow.

Sincerely,

Chester the cat.

After the mall trip, we all went out to eat. My dad and vision teacher also got to join us for that. Then for the rest of the day, I hung out with Danny, while the rest of my family went shopping for yet another “something” for my party.
Although my birthday wasn’t until Sunday, we held the party on Saturday, since Danny and Libby would be leaving. I am not a social person by nature, but even though there were tons of people that showed up, I was so glad to have them there. It was such a wonderful evening. First, there was the fried chicken. According to Libby, fried chicken is apparently an “original” idea for a birthday. See, I didn’t think of it that way, I just thought it was a genius plan, but that’s just my opinion. Then, there was the cake. It was designed like a torn open bag of m&ms, and whatever they put on the top of it to make the design tangible actually felt to me like a near perfect representation, and there were m&ms spilling out. And yes, it tasted just as good as it sounds. There were cupcakes as well, with a similar condensed version of the design on them, and these had some sort of cream filling in the middle.
Aside from the wonderful food, there was that surprise my family was shopping for the previous day. After everyone finished eating, I was led out the door, and to the driveway, where there sat an ATV. It’s sort of like a car the way it feels, and it can seat up to five people. That’s just how awesome my family is; they surprise their blind son by taking him out to see the brand new ATV.
For the rest of the evening, we all hung out, ate a lot, and took turns driving the ATV. I enjoyed it because it was my first experience driving something on land without anyone holding the wheel or guiding my hands.
Finally, even Sunday turned out to be a great day. As it turns out, since the party and field trips and planning were all over, me, my parents, Libby, and Danny decided to spend my birthday relaxing. We made arrangements so that neither one of them would go home that day, instead they would wait until Monday when I too had to go back to school.

In the end, it ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve had in a really long time. I have to say. For having planned this all in secret behind my back, my family and the others who helped or participated did a heck of a good job. And I recognize that this has been an extraordinarily long post, especially since I haven’t wrote a word in what, gosh, five months? However, there was certainly a hole lot to talk about.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

P.S. I have more catching up to do, but I think that if this gets any longer, it will turn into a novel. I’ll see you next time. Have a good one.

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Posted in average, busy, gaming and technology, happyness, journal, life, updates

A Busy Couple of Weeks


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Unfortunately, I did not complete my 1 week challenge to make a game, though I still believe it is within my abilities to do so. It was more so the timing I chose, which turned out to be pretty bad, something that the post title clearly suggests.
There is a lot that has happened in the last 2 weeks. I’ll go ahead and rewind back to week 1, which was the week following my last post, and when I was originally supposed to have completed the game creation challenge. I actually managed to squeeze in 3 or 4 days of work on the game that week, though I was majorly hindered by the need to purchase sound affects from a source I’d never used, and thus didn’t trust yet. Furthermore, this mistrust was enhanced when my friend spent $85 on their sound affects, and didn’t receive his sounds for several days. As a result, I didn’t get the necessary sounds until Thursday of that week, so I decided to give myself an extra few days to work on it, and thus decided to delay the blog post a few days as well.
Well guess what? After getting a few more consecutive days of work done on the game challenge, I found out I had a summer reading assignment to complete for school, and that my family vacation to Maine would indeed be happening, — on Friday! of that week. And while I only considered the former to be a bad thing, both meant that coding a game would be quite hard, if not impossible for a little bit.
That said, vacation was great. There’s not too much to say about it, except for that it was relaxing, I didn’t have to put up with 110 degree Texas heat, and I did not work on my summer reading assignment or coding games or anything that required the use of my intelligence. But even though I got home on Wednesday of last week, I had a camping trip with my church youth group in Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday, then spent all of Sunday at church.
Today has been a day of rest for me. I didn’t really do anything productive, as I’ve basically been non stop the past several days. But for those wondering about the status of the game challenge, I’ve decided not to finish it, because honestly my timing was bad, it was meant to be only a week thing, and once I get back to coding I really need to start porting my main projects over to Python. That will have to wait a bit though, so that I can get this school reading assignment done before it’s too late. And believe me, I want to code games this week, but I’ve already had 2 dreams that involved me walking in on the first day of school and realizing that I didn’t complete the summer reading assignment because it totally slipped my mind, and that I’d be starting off the school year by failing English. I’d much rather leave that in my dreams.

Still, in the free time I did have during that time, I managed to create a little recording, that I would like to share with followers of this blog. I hardly ever post audio on the blog itself, so you know this is going to be good.
I had one of the text-to-speech voices from my computer commentate a recording I made of myself playing Red Spot, an audio first person shooter. This voice is named Microsoft Sam, and has been used to create funny skits and recordings all over YouTube. Anyway, though I didn’t think it would, this recording received quite a bit of approval from those I showed it to. It’s about 10 minutes long, and is bound to make you chuckle at some point.

In case the comments seemed untimely or out of place at certain points, this was basically my process for creating this recording, literally:
1. I recorded a segment of myself playing and owning on Red Spot.
2. I played it back, paying attention to key events in the game.
3. Once I came upon a turning point, major event, or just felt like Sam should say something, I paused the playback, recorded a piece of Sam’s speech, and inserted it into the recording. This was kind of hard because I had to focus on timing.
4. I listened to it, made sure there were no errors, and saved it.
I should note that none of Sam’s speech was scripted. These were all responses I thought appropriate to the occasion.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.
P.S. that file received quite a bit of positive reaction, and I hope to create more. But like Sam’s speech in that recording, the decision will likely be made two seconds before its execution, so don’t count on counting on or not counting on it.

Posted in busy, gaming and technology, happyness, journal, life, programming, projects, updates

Hi, It’s me…


Hey guys,
Steve here.
So… where to start? I’ve been absent from blogging for over 2 months, and though it’s not the first time I went away for an extended period of time, it’s certainly the longest. But now that your genius friend who writes long technical posts that few people understand fully, while still managing to make most of you laugh at least once, is officially done learning a new programming language and going to camps that work him out all day every day, it’s safe to say that the blogging games can resume.
Because the last time I blogged was so long ago, I’m not even going to try to detail those last couple months. That’s alright in a way, since it was basically just school, with the only interesting and new experience being city travel. And though that was really fun, even to the point that I would gladly go back, it’s not much to go on a several paragraph rant about because it was mainly about learning how to use the public transportation system and going a few places I wanted to visit.
To those wondering why I went so-o-o-o long without so much as a post, I’m glad to say that it wasn’t just pure laziness and/or distractions keeping me away from the old Word Press this time. I spent the last month of school learning a programming language called Python. That doesn’t seem special at first, since I’d been learning languages all semester in my web class, however, this one was a bit different for me. For the past several months, Danny has been using Python to create his audio games, and occasionally telling me various advantages it had over Pure Basic. Plus, as long and hard as I tried to continue using Pure Basic for my projects, eventually I decided I had to move on not only due to performance errors in my programs, but because I gradually grew dissatisfied with both the syntax and code organization structure to the point that when I finally switched to Python, it produced the same affect as stepping out into fresh Autumn air after being trapped in a jam packed conference room with faulty air conditioning for about 4 hours.
Because Python’s way of doing things is quite different from Pure Basic, I didn’t get to game making level with it until the week after my first camp, thus haven’t done much as far as rewriting S Quad Racing. However, though I’ll refrain from going into too much detail about this as I have no intentions relating to completely frying the brains of people who probably just wanted to see what has been going on with me, I’ll admit that my first real practice with Python involved me taking full advantage of it’s Tangent, Cosine, Sine, and Arc Tangent functions so that I could write functions for 2 and 3d movement, turning, and audio positioning.
All that said, I’ll take a break from technology talk to finally, describe the camps I keep mentioning. After being off of school for just a week, one which I spent part of visiting my grandparents, I traveled to the Texas School for the Blind to finish off my high school PE credit. For those who have kept up with me for the last year, this was the same one I went to last summer. But for those who don’t know, it was a 3 week program where we got introduced to various sports, as well as their blind adaptations if they had any. In addition, there was a bit of exercising, as well as a couple of field trips.
After a week of relaxation following that camp, I had yet another one. Again, this was another fitness camp, though I’d say it was more intense than the PE class at TSB. Throughout the week, my main conflict was trying to decide if I was being tortured, or having fun. We were going all day, doing things like running, biking, goal ball, beep base ball which is a blind adaptation of base ball, swimming, fitness classes, and rock climbing. There wasn’t a day of camp that I didn’t wake up in the morning with at least a moderate level of soreness, though I’d still say that was quite literally the most enjoyable summer camp I’ve attended.
So, here we are now. I’m done with camps for the rest of the summer. I’m not quite sure what my plans are, though my family could possibly be going to Maine at the end of this month for vacation. In the mean time, this week I decided to do something just for fun, something that I’ve never done before. I gave myself a 1 week game challenge, where I would try to compose a game within just a week. The idea of the game is something I would enjoy playing, however it’s not too complex for me to create in a short amount of time. Plus, this should familiarize me with creating games in Python, so I can begin rewriting my main projects in it.
Well, that wraps up today’s post. On Saturday, I’ll be back, and hopefully by then I’ll be done with my 1 week game challenge, and will have some demo audio. Because it’s just a 1 week project, the sounds and music for it will not be of the highest quality. Provided I can get this done, I’ll also post the steps I took to make it, as well as maybe the game itself. Not sure about the latter though.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.
PS. I will, be back soon. The more I do this whole not blogging for 10s of days thing, I discover that it’s harder and harder to get back into it. Not necessarily because of lack of motivation, but because I have no idea where to start. I’ve been trying to formulate this blog post alone for 2 and a half weeks, so that alone should tell you something.

Posted in funny, happyness, life, school

Just In Case You Were Wondering… 70 Is the Age to Be


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Speech class has become a place where I take the prompts I’m given, and attempt to create entertaining pieces of work out of them. And while the answers to the question, “If you could be any age for the rest of your life, what would it be?” given to my class ranged from 3 to 35, I chose… 70.
When I brought this up, people told me they thought 65 was better. However, 67 is basically retirement age here in the United States. So by the time I turned 70, I’d have worked all the years I was expected to, and then, well, we’d get to the points I make in this speech. Anyways, have this rather twisted, overly optimistic outlook on old man life.

        As children, we wish to be adults, because we want to be able to do
all the things our parents can and don’t like being told what to do.
As young to mid age adults, people want to be children again because
they’ve quickly learned how stressful life can be. As older adults,
people want to be at retirement age, because who likes work? If I had
to choose, the age I would be for the rest of my life would be 70, —
because of the respect I’d get, the discounts, and not having to work!
        As a 70 year old, you get the senior discount at most places. Man,
wouldn’t it be nice to go out to eat, and get to pay the least amount
out of everyone because you’re more experienced at life? There’s no
reason for it besides how old you are. And because you’ve already
worked hard for years of your life, you don’t have to compensate it
further.
        Secondly, I wouldn’t have to work. Why, you ask? Well, because I
already did for 50 years. I spent 50 years saving up all this money so
I could blow it as an old guy. Man, that would be nice, you know, to
get to do what you want, when you want, and not stress about going,
to, work.
        And finally, respect. You see, unlike the 20 somethings fresh out of
highschool or college who don’t have a job, I wouldn’t be frowned upon
and told to get my lazy butt out the door; no, I’d still be respected
because I’m old. Man, I could sit there all day and eat nachos if I
wanted to, and still have all those youngsters trembling at the side
of my huge leather recliner with their “Yes sir” and “What can I do
for you, Mister?” Bro. I’m telling you, that’d be nice. I know, I’d
have to go through decades of constant work prior to it, — that’s how
the old folks earn their respect. But it would be worth it, if I
stayed that age forever, — never worrying about inferiors looking
down on me.
        So as you can clearly see, 70 is the age to be, at least for me. It
may not be all I crack it up to be, but hey. If things go south, I can
just yell at the youngsters to fix me a fresh plate of nachos. That’s
it for my speech today, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for listening.

Yeah. I’m sure life’s not like that when you’re 70, but who cares. I was bored and in the mood to joke.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

Posted in busy, happyness, journal, life, projects, school, updates

A Successful Tournament


Hey guys,
Steve here.

I went through with it this time. I told you guys I’d be back to this blogging thing and… here I am 5 days later. Five long days, might I add, which were filled with stressful travel, painful but fun Goal Ball, and now school, I guess.

My first ever out of state Goal Ball tournament was a thrilling experience to say the least. As you may recall, last week I was both excited and nervous about it; the excitement was justified, the nervousness not so much. Out of all four games my team and I played, we won four.

Of course, there were nerves involved, two of the games we won by only three points, and most nerve racking of them all, the last game in which we played for Gold, we won by only one point. The game that I neglected to mention, we won twelve to four.

Despite Goal Ball being a bit of a pain in the butt… and the chest and the arms and the legs and the stomach… you get the picture, I really enjoy playing it and hope to go to another one of those tournaments again soon. But please, for the sake of my sanity, can we just get there without the airports? I think those were more stressful than the tournament itself.

That aside, life has resumed as normal. We returned to Texas yesterday afternoon, welcomed by dreary skies and the pattering of a dismal rainfall, a perfect match for the feelings provoked by the prospect of another daunting set of consecutive school days. Lucky for me, my week will only last three days. On Thursday, I’m traveling to the Texas School for the Blind for a weekend long program that familiarizes the blind with city travel. That’s right, city travel, no airports this time. Anyways, I’ll be there from Thursday until Sunday. I’m pretty excited about this one, because with it being based on city travel, I’ll basically be exploring the city of Austin for a few days, and from what I can gather it’s quite large, and there are numerous things to do there.

In the mean time, while I’m living the good old normal life for a few short days, I’ll get some work done on my projects. Also, if Danny and I can get some technical issues sorted out, we might be able to record a podcast. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of those, but just as I have this blog I plan to go back to that at some point; if not this week, then perhaps when I’m not so busy.

That concludes tonight’s post. Depending on how much I get done code wise, I’ll give a progress update on my games when I blog next week. I probably won’t be posting until Sunday or Monday, because not much is likely to happen in the next three days.

Thanks for reading,
Type you later,
Steve.