Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards


Posted in Articles by Ziggy Friday August 26, 2011 at 14:09

I was looking at games the other day. Figured I’d support the Indie scene and… what’s this? SpaceChem? Okay, that looks like something I’d enjoy. I picked it up along with a couple others.

Turns out I was disastrously right. Here’s why:

SpaceChem is a training tool for many of the skills I value.  Process optimization, design problems, spatial layout, programming, continuous flow problems. It fits snugly in my mind.

There is no “right” solution (just like in real life!), only better, worse, and wrong.

I find SpaceChem really difficult. There’s a constant struggle to create a linked sequence of elegant solutions to unique process challenges.

I think I’m good at it. Judging from the “others solutions” charts (which is a brilliant idea by the way) I’m coming in below average (which is good, since they are all minimize optimal) on all three metrics at once. Consistently. Often on the first try. Of course, this only drives me to attempt ever more elegant solutions, making the game harder.

The game concept is very nanotechnology relevant, which I love. These kind of design problems could end up being very applicable in the near future, so it feels even more real and useful.

So there you go. SpaceChem is just as fun as it looks. Also, super difficult. Okay. I’m done.

“The Adjustment Bureau”

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Monday August 22, 2011 at 16:38

Review Summary: Good craftsmanship. Bad message. Dumb characters.

Anna and I watched “The Adjustment Bureau” a few days ago. A number of friends had said it was “great” and “fun”, so expectations were high. By the end, we were both dissapointed, not only with the film, but with our friends. You know who you are! Feel ashamed of yourself.

Feel ashamed.

“Wait, what? That was a fun movie! It was great!” you may exclaim. Well, if you do, read below and I will explain how you too can destroy a “great fun” movie using your own latent mind powers. (Fun fact: The “thinking” trick works on books too. Try it at home kids!)


Starship Log: 020

Posted in Starship Log by Ziggy Wednesday August 17, 2011 at 17:23

Had a good day re-installing everything. There’s nothing like a clean system working smoothly. Of course, the heat dumps are still deactivated, pending diagnostics. Most tasks have acceptable time frames for completion, but diagnostics are renown for their unreliability. It may take days for the diagnostics to come out just right, if I play it correctly.

Data from the probes is coming back. Now that we have current high resolution images there is an “Explorers Privilege” naming contest. We’re all submitting names of the major weather systems. Of course, the A-Tors are going to make the final picks, but it’s a nice gesture. I’ve come up with a few good ones myself.

Not saying which though. Wouldn’t want to skew your vote Dirk.


Posted in Other by Ziggy Tuesday August 16, 2011 at 16:20

We have a laser at work for evaluation. The output is 8 Watts of 532 nm coherent collimated light (this is a lot of energy, it can easily vaporize metal). It’s only going to be here for the next couple of weeks, so I’m trying to think of awesome things to do with it after-hours. I’m planning on at least playing with water, food, and combustables. Perhaps I’ll make a laser pen.

Please submit your suggestions in the comments! I’ll try to make some videos, but no promises.

Vroom ma’h Motorcycle

Posted in Other by Ziggy Monday August 8, 2011 at 12:00

Closing at forty MPH, I have a choice to make. Driving a car, you just slow down when the guy in front of you does. I don’t like to slow down. I stomp on the gear shift instead of the break, and tuck my elbows in.

I’ve been driving a motorcycle to work for about eight months now. It’s a fifteen minute drive each way (twenty with traffic) over surface streets. No freeway, which is actually more dangerous than it sounds. When you’re on the freeway everyone is going the same direction. On the back roads you get pickup trucks popping in from the farms, tractors crawling along at jogging pace, and a sprinkling of insane bicyclists shaving the barely paved shoulder. Also, it seems like a third of the vehicles are those giant semi-trailer trucks that you can’t see around and accelerate like a bad head cold.

So now I’m even with the mud-flaps. He’s probably going thirty, and I’m maybe doubling that. I’m sure not watching my speedometer. Looking down while your passing on a two lane road with a big trucks going both ways is just bad form. Also, it’s broken, just reads zero most of the time. Speaking of time, I’m now approaching a terrifying closing speed in the opposing lane. (more…)

Starship Log: 01B

Posted in Starship Log by Ziggy Friday August 5, 2011 at 09:14

Worked late today finishing the particle scrubs. When I got back to quarters (just a little bit ago), there was a message waiting for me. Apparently three departments love the idea of cleaning all of the air-handling equipment before we make an insertion on Planet Four. I notified Dirk that we can’t possibly have all of that done, with our normal duties besides, before we reach planetary orbit in a couple of weeks. We’ll see what they decide.

With any luck I’ll be tagged for full time duct scrub duty. Fantastic.

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