in orbit

I mostly talk about video games and the world wide web

Feb82012

The Superest of Bowls

Following up on my last football update (that's American football for you non-American readers), my favorite football team, the New York Football Giants (which is, by the way, the team's legal corporate name) won the Super Bowl, besting the Patriots of New England and are thusly World Football Champions of American Football. Football. The photo below is the final play of the game: with the Patriots down by four points (thus needing a touchdown, which are worth six) their quarterback threw a last ditch pass attempt that was knocked down by the Giants defense, though narrowly missed. Close, exciting and really great game all around.

They're my favorite team in any sport (of which I follow two, the other being hockey and the New York Hockey Rangers), and it's pretty nice to see them succeed twice in such a short time span. I could go into it more but I can't really say anything that George R.R. Martin (himself a big Giants fan) hasn't already said, so I'll just leave you with that.

Feb62012

Rest Assured, CSS Is Awesome!

Things that highly amuse me include: making the (famous?) CSS Is Awesome mug design in actual CSS:

css is awesome
Jan192012

I Was On CNN The Other Day

After you sit through what I assume will be a ~30 second unskippable ad you can jump forward to 1:50 or so to see me doing computer stuff (or you can watch the entire report if you want). I was actually working on a thing that randomly censored the search results on our site for the day (because SOPA/PIPA are the worst, but you already knew that). Also I didn't know the camera guy was recording me. It's pretty amusing to be the 'guy who is working in the background' on CNN though. I always knew I'd make it!

Pretty exciting, I guess! Also: happy 2012!

Jun212011

Computer

Computer

This is how you hack, right guys? Right? Yeah? Computer? Mirror, you have made my day.
May142011

I Made A Meat Boy Thing

Super Meat Boy is a game that appealed to me on a pretty fundamental level. It's a platformer focused on speed and crazy, well-timed jumps and has relatively little penalty for mistakes (you restart what is generally a pretty short level). It's basically the platform game I've always wanted. I was almost compelled to play it, even though at times it evoked high levels of frustration. The main thing about that, however, was even though I would mash my fleshy body into a saw blade (the same saw blade) dozens upon dozens of times I always knew why I had screwed up and I never blamed the game for being unfair. Not even once.

So with the release of the level editor I decided to see what I could come up with and I put together a five-level chapter called "Brownie Goes To Hell" which I'm fairly pleased with. It's not perfect but if you have the PC version of Super Meat Boy you should load up Super Meat World (which requires twenty bandages to unlock) and search for it in the chapters section, if you're so inclined. I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Apr42011

Spam Central. Population: Me

For a while the cursory spam checking I wrote for this blog back in 2005 (or so) worked, mostly due to the unbridled predictability of comment spammers and at least partially due to the complete obscurity of both this specific blog and the CMS it runs on. In particular I think the way it handled comments before I redesigned it was totally insane and no half-assed spambot parser could figure out what was going on.

But then I redid a bunch of front-end stuff, which included making comments easier to make (though the underlying system remained the same) and apparently that opened the floodgates. Also oddly enough I made an error in the javascript that made it impossible for real people to comment and any spambot that didn't first parse the javascript would have no issues posting. I'm not proud, though in my defense nobody told me and I never comment on my own blog unless it's a reply to someone.

Regardless, the ways of the old have been thrown away and I finally implemented akismet filtering (I had written a simple class for another project so I was mostly able to drop it in). So hopefully that is that. Oh and I also fixed that javascript error so if you want to leave a comment you totally can. I swear.
Feb122011

Gawking, Part II

As a brief follow-up to my critique of Gawker network's design I feel that I also ought to critique the thing I am perhaps more qualified to; namely the tech behind it all.

Along with Twitter (specifically 'new Twitter') and I'm told Facebook (I don't use it enough to really comment) Gawker has adopted the hash-bang syntax (see the #! in their URL? hash-bang) which basically lets Javascript manage the entire site. Any web developer worth his salt can obviously attest to how much of a good idea this notion is. Personally I consider myself to be a front-end developer (with a great degree of back-end experience) and even as a big fan of Javascript and all it's capabilities I would never entrust it to such a task. That would be like entrusting HTML to be consistent between Safari and IE6.

Others have covered the issue in greater detail than I, but suffice to say the type of framework that depends entirely on Javascript is not one I would prefer to depend on myself. The hash-bang syntax is a hack at best, and a potential disaster worst. When your single point of failure is Javascript of all things you may be in for a world of pain. Go ahead, disable JS and take a look at Gawker.com or new Twitter and compare it to any other site. Even JS-heavy sites like Google News work with it disabled. I can access an HTML-only version of GMail, a web app that doesn't even need to follow web conventions. It's something to think about.

Hopefully hash-bang does not become some kind of new standard, but you never can tell with these things. In the end leaving display of your site's content up to the client is a poor decision, at best. We'll see how things pan out in that regard. I won't actually get upset until the New York Times web site starts to use it.

Feb82011

Gawking

While the Gawker Media collection of sites have never really been my cup of tea for any number of reasons (which I won't get into) you really can't deny the popularity of their network in their respective industries. If you want some video game news out there you need to get it up on Kotaku. If you want the world to know about your new unreleased iPhone, leave it in a bar so Gizmodo can buy it off some guy. If you're a celebrity and want your inner-most secrets leaked to the public then a good bet is to contact someone at Gawker. I'm starting to get catty so I'll just move on, but you get the idea.

For once the news of the day for was not the content of one of these sites but rather how it is presented. Let me get this out of the way first: the new design, aesthetically, is a huge improvement over the old design. The old design was fairly hideous and wasted a lot of space. About the only things it did well were present a ton of the site's most recent content and keep some big-ticket articles of note up at the top. But now, out with the old, in with the new. The new Gawker sites look like a professionally designed iPad app. In fact that's the thing that most people seem to think of first when they see it, which was obviously the intended reaction.

That itself isn't bad, but sadly the site not only looks like an iPad app but seems to function as if it was intended to be one. This fact is made highly unfortunate due to the site being broken in mobile Safari. I don't have an iPad to test it in myself but it's more or less unusable on my iPhone, and I haven't heard much better from iPad owners.

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