Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category

Strangest Farming Game yet

August 11, 2012 Leave a comment

I like playing The Farming Game. I own it, but I have yet to win it. Normally what happens is that my wife pulls together enough resources to buy some fruit orchards, gets lucky (or at least doesn’t get unlucky) that it starts to pay off, rockets ahead of everyone else, and wins the game. I played last night with my brother, his wife, and my wife, and the game we played did not follow our typical experience.

The game got to an interesting point where my wife had money and few assets; my sister-in-law had an array of assets but a load of debt; and my brother and myself had some fruit, some other assets, and a little bit of debt. The only thing that was holding my wife back was that she wasn’t landing on spaces which were letting her draw Option To Buy cards, so she had lots of money, but nothing to buy. This was very odd, and statistically quite improbable. I have to wonder if one of the reasons why she was able to get out of debt was that she was landing on spaces which were giving her little sums of cash, but not landing on spaces which were giving her options to buy.

My sister-in-law sold some options-to-buy to my wife and then the game really got moving. Both my brother and I were in positions to really sling shot ahead and win, but somehow that wasn’t happening. We weren’t landing on the right spots, and then when we were we weren’t getting good harvests, it was aggravating. Then something strange happened, my sister-in-law started to come from behind really quickly with all of her assets and it looked like she was going to pay off her debt and win in nearly one swift stroke.

My wife ended up winning, but not without some confusion first. She called the end of the game, but counted her assets and came up short. We counted my assets and I met the exact minimum requirement of assets to win. So we thought I won. Bothered that she mis-calculated my wife had me recount some of her assets and it turns out she had more than I had, and won. Oh, I was so close to my first victory. Would have happened to, if my sister-in-law hadn’t sold my wife those Option to Buy cards. Ah well, there’s always next time.

Categories: Hobbies

How long to Sleep vs. Hibernate a computer

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

In Windows 7 there are two general ways to send a computer to a low power state when it is not in use: Sleep and Hibernate. For more details on both see Sleep and hibernation. I’ve always favored hibernation, but lately have felt that if I’m planning on using the computer again in less than eight hours to sleep it instead of hibernating. Eight hours was just pulled out of the air, no real science behind it. The other day I was talking with a friend and he felt that eight hours wasn’t long enough. He asked if I knew how much power the computer was using when sleeping, and I said I did not. So to find out for sure I purchased a Kill-A-Watt and have ran some tests. I wanted to know how much power sleeping my desktop took.

  • Computer on, low CPU:113 Watt
  • Sleeping: 15.5 Watt
  • Time to resume from sleep: 6 sec
  • Time to Hibernate: 33 sec
  • While hibernating: 13.4 Watt
  • Resume from Hibernate: 38 sec

Hibernation isn’t supposed to take any power, and it doesn’t. The power usage for when the computer is hibernating is the same as when the computer is off. But when I ran these tests I left the speakers on and in between everything else plugged into the power strip, that’s what the power consumption is. I figured this configuration would result in the most worthwhile numbers.

During both going to sleep and hibernating, as well as resuming from both, the Watt usage is higher than when the CPU is idling. It generally fluctuates between 130 and 150 Watts. I don’t have the resources to calculate exactly how much power was being used at any given point, so I’m going to have to assume that power consumption for resuming from both are the equivalent.

So with my rough calculations I get that the extra overhead of sleep is 6 sec * 130 Watt = 780 Watt seconds. Cycling through a Hibernation is (33 sec + 38 sec) * 130 Watt = 9230 Watt seconds. The difference between the two is 8450 Watt seconds. 8450 Watt seconds / 2.1 Watt = 4023.8 sec = 67 min.

Looks like my eight hour gut feeling was pretty far off. The point where hibernation begins to consume less power than sleeping is a little over one hour. Of course there are other things to consider like:

  • the Watt usage during any given second of resuming from hibernation is probably higher than resuming from sleep
  • The cost of my time to wait for resuming
  • Resuming from hibernation is “harder” on the system than resuming from sleep

So I don’t think I’m going to change my eight hour guideline. Now at least I have an educated guess as to when hibernation makes more sense than sleeping does.

Age of Empires Online is fun

June 30, 2011 1 comment

Today is the last day of the Age of Empires Online Beta. My review for Age of Empires Online is that it is fun. That said, I don’t know how I’m going to feel about the free vs. premium accounts once Age of Empires Online ships in August.

What’s different with AoEO compared to earlier AoE is that you go on quests. You start with a capitol city which is a unique and new concept. You don’t use the capital city like a normal AoE town center. What happens is in your city you can build up resources to by advancements. There are quest givers in your city who give you quests. At first, most of the quests are little things to do which help you learn how to play AoEO. Most of the quests are like traditional AoE games, but most of the time they don’t take as a long. What happens is the advancements you built up in your capitol city are then applied to the quests.

Having only previously played the first Age of Empires I don’t know what the multiplayer experience was like. In Age of Empires Online you can create parties with people through XBox Live (I don’t own an XBox, but now I’m part of XBox Live). Amanda was in the Beta as well, so we’d make a party and then either help each other out with quests, or face off against each other in player vs. player quests. We always had a lot of fun doing both.

Given that there will be a free version of AoEO I think that it will be worth everyone’s time to download it and play it. It will be fun.

Did I miss out on good games as a kid?

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I went through every Wii Virtual Console title. Something which stuck out to me is how many games I didn’t recognize. I presume that the titles that are made into virtual console titles are ones which were the most popular. I recognized the Mario and Zelda titles, but that was about it. I never had a Sega or Nintendo growing up, so all of my video game exposure came through friends. My friends must have only rarely gotten the games which became the most popular. Because the games I remember playing are generally not on the Virtual Console service. The one exception, which brought a smile was Double Dragon. I did remember that.

Categories: Hobbies

Shigeru Miyamoto should give Peach and Zelda love interests

April 13, 2011 1 comment

In a bunch of fan films (or other fan art) I see online based on either Super Mario Bros. or the Legend of Zelda there’s always a built in assumption that Mario and Princess Peach are a romantic item and Link and Princess Zelda are a romantic item. The source of this assumption is pretty obvious, our hero’s have rescued their respective princesses multiple times. How could girls not help but to fall in love? The ironic thing is, is that never in any of the games have our hero’s shown romantic interest in the damsels they’re saving from distress.

Going strictly by the video games (and ignoring the Legend of Zelda cartoon series) Mario likes Pauline and Link likes either from Saria Ocarina of Time or Ilia from Twilight Princess (but only as an adolescent; Link hasn’t shown any interest in anyone as an adult). So given that our hero’s have romantic interests beyond the princesses it would help if the games creator – Shigeru Miyamoto – would give Peach and Zelda romantic interests. I think it would really make things interesting if Link and Mario had to rescue the princesses and their boyfriends. Or really distress the damsels by having the villains kill off their boyfriends.

So why do Link and Mario rescue the princesses if they don’t have a romantic interest? One reason is that they’re hero’s and that’s what they do. The other reason is that the kidnapped princesses are generally kidnapped because the villains (Bowser and Gannon) are up to something evil and the princesses are a catalyst for some sort of spell or are a political bargaining chip. Our hero’s don’t want to see their home lands destroyed by evilness, so they’re stopping the villains and that just happens to involve rescuing the princesses.

It would rock the video game world if Zelda and Peach had love interests separate from their hero’s, and I really think that the games creators should do it.

Categories: Entertainment, Hobbies

Bryant and I must have had Ocarina of Time down

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I was going over one of the announcements about the release titles for the Nintendo 3DS and it mentioned Ocarina of Time (which originally was released for the N64) and it mentioned how the Water Temple was made easier due to customer feedback. Since then I’ve noticed it mentioned in other places how people found the Water Temple to be very difficult. From some of the comments on the internet it seriously sounds like many people have been emotionally damaged by that stage. I find this surprising because I don’t remember it at all.

I remember a lot of Ocarina of Time; Bryant and I played it together when it came out. I remember a bunch of the stages, but I don’t remember getting stuck in the Water Temple. If before reading the announcement and you asked me what I remembered about Ocarina of Time I wouldn’t have mentioned the Water Temple. We didn’t look up cheats and hints online (didn’t have an internet connection at the house that time anyway), we didn’t get a players guide or anything. We just sat down and played the game together, watching what the other did on their file and coming up with ideas together. I remember really enjoying that game.

I know this makes me sound like I’m bragging about being an awesome gamer, but I’m not. I’m not an awesome gamer. I have a feeling that if I were a hardcore gamer, and even if I didn’t have exceptional trouble in the Water Temple, I would have at least heard about it before now. I still haven’t been able to defeat Super Mario Bros. 3, and believe me, I’ve tried. But this little piece of news does make me feel like that in-between Bryant and I, one of us must have some skills.

Categories: Entertainment, Hobbies

Where Magic messed up with black

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I like playing Magic: The Gathering. It’s fun. For those who don’t know the “magic” in Magic is divided up into five colors: white, blue, black, red and greeen. I generally avoid playing with black. The primary reason is that games which use black cards aren’t as fun. With the way a lot of the black card special abilities work it’s feasible to have two players with black decks facing off against each other, or two players with non black decks facing off against each other. But if one player has black and the other player has non black, the black deck tends to dominate so much that the game isn’t really that fun. True, some cards of other colors have anti black capbilities (especially white), but I don’t think that it cuts it.

One is reason is the Life Link ability. It favors black way too much, due to the fact that Vampires are a natural fit for that ability. They should get rid of that ability on permanants.

The next big reason is because a bunch of the black creatures have the ability to only be blocked by black creatures. I hypothies that the idea being conveyed is that the creature is so scary that all creatures of any other color would be too scared to block this big, evil, black creature. This is where I think Magic got it backwards. In reading any book where your in a dark and scary place, everyone is afraid of everyone else. There’s cutthroats and back stabbers everywhere. The only ones who stand up to this (generally the hero’s) are law enforcement or good-doer types. So instead of having black creatures which can only be blocked by black creatures, it should be that the big, bad black creature can’t be blocked by another black creature.

I think these two corrections would go a long way to making games with black cards more enjoyable.

Categories: Hobbies

MSDN Contributions as of March 2011

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Having worked all day on flushing out the tests for my Unique Collections project I uploaded it to the MSDN Code Samples Gallery and it can be found at Most of the collections started out as a need I had in writing my FreeCell solver application. I needed a thread safe collection which was a cross between a HashSet and a ConcurrentDictionary. Now I have it in my UniversalStore.

My other contribution is an extension for Visual Studio 2010. It’s a simple plugin which help when refactoring code.

FreeCell Solver insight

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been tinkering with writing a FreeCell solver. On my phone I have a FreeCell clone and there was a game from it that I just could not solve. So I wrote a solver which relies mostly on random moves and the solver is able to solve that game pretty quickly. After having put it through some rounds I’ve noticed something: FreeCell games which I find very difficult, the solver solves in a few seconds, but if it’s average or easy game, the solver can take hours to solve the game.

I think the reason for this is that in hard games, there might not be too many options. Solving the game requires making the right move at the right time, resulting in a small number of possible moves. The solver can throw away dead-end options quickly. The opposite being that an easy game might have multiple ways to solve it. This causes the solver to waste a lot of time in trying all of the possible moves at the same time. Since one possible solution doesn’t appear quickly, it keeps working and working on possible solutions.

The one optimization I gave the solver is that it works on moves which send cards to their final piles before trying permutations of states which didn’t increase the number of “finaled” cards. Of course having someway of deciding that a certain move (or even better a set of moves) is more optimal than a random decision would be ideal, but I can’t think of a good way to do that.

After a little more refinement I think I’ll try having my solver take a stab at game 11982.

Categories: Hobbies

I hate Mario’s Momentum

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. and being very frustrated when Mario would fall off of edge. I would be upset because I didn’t press right on the D-Pad for Mario to move, and yet he would and he’d fall. I never remember having this problem with any other Nintendo game, just Super Mario. Now that I’ve played a lot of Super Mario Bros. 3 recently I noticed having the same problem. It’s so annoying. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad with Super Mario 64, and I never noticed it in either of the Super Mario Galaxy’s, so the problem is being address. However, the little bit of Super Mario Bros Wii (which is a 2-D side scroller) that I’ve played I’ve noticed the issue.

Either way, I just want everyone to know that for my whole live I’ve hated Mario’s momentum.

Categories: Hobbies