Hello World 2.0

3 minute read

Yes, it has been some time since my last update. But don’t mistake my silence for idleness. My spare time has been filled with fun stuff…


I participated in a couple hackathons in San Francisco, themed with the lofty goal of getting the influence of money out of politics. It was an interesting couple of events. Larry Lessig interacted with us a little via Skype. I joined a team working on a mobile app called MyBallot, associated with a friend’s startup VoteMatrix. Voters are most likely to want to research candidates and issues on their ballot immediately prior to voting, so the app is intended to provide links to various sources of information specific to measures and candidates on a given ballot. I’m not sure at this point about its state of completion, but it appears to have some more features than we had originally planned.


I set aside my work on composer to play with my own startup idea involving creating a debate platform that would compete with the likes of Reddit, but structured in a way to facilitate analysis of trends in opinions. I think it had potential to be marketed as an alternative to traditional polls and surveys. However I discovered at the hackathons that my idea was not as original as I had thought (see whysaurus.) And it suffered the same flaw as just about every other failed startup idea; obtaining this thing called “critical mass.” Attracting users is not easy when it involves pulling them from their existing social network habits. So I kicked that one to the curb.

Video Games

Around the time of the hackathons, I got an itch to try my hand at game development. This is what that has led to as of a couple weeks ago…

The idea is to draw lines that act as mirrors and lenses to direct particles to a target portal while preventing them from hitting your own portal. It’s coming together nicely, although it was a rough start. The math to calculate path intersections with arcs is not terribly complex. But it was challenging finding information online discussed in a language (I’m looking at you, mathematicians) I could fully grasp. There are so many conventions out there for describing the same thing. Once I got past the technical things, it has consisted mostly of addressing many small fiddly issues. Game development, at least with libgdx/GL, seems to require a lot more low level stuff than desktop and web development. I uploaded the video to demonstrate for Dusty Brown the game concept, as it’s his music I want to use. And it worked; I got his permission. Yay! If you’ll look, certain elements of the game, such as the pulsing glow and patterns of particles, are synchronized to the music. All of the synchronization is scripted, and building those scripts is rather challenging and time consuming. I should probably ask Dusty if he has some of his music in MIDI format, as that would save me from running audio analysis software, trying to identify note onsets of specific instruments.

Tying Back to Composer

In reading about my various efforts, you might be thinking I have a short attention span. Well there may be some truth to that. But I’m determined to see Deflection through to completion. And I haven’t given up on composer. In fact my next game, already in planning stages, is going to be directly related to it. It’s going to be a logic puzzle game where the player must, given a set of inputs and/or variables, design a circuit that produces a required set of outputs and/or changes in variables. The first few levels can be just arbitrary things to familiarize the player with the concepts. But as levels progress and difficulty increases, it could have players designing useful circuits, such as the infamous parallel quick-sort. Turning one gamer at a time into a COSA developer without them even realizing it. Beautiful! Ah ha ha ha! Sorry, I had a Louis Savain moment.