Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maps, Maps, and more Maps

The joys of mapping. Most of my time lately has been devoted to working with ESRI's new ArcGIS Server API for Silverlight.

This has provided a few interesting areas, because so far, I like both Silverlight and maps. The challenging part has been determining both how to give the user flexible access to that kind of aggregate data (it almost begs for a cube) and how to be able to visualize that data over the map. Especially in a way that allows a user to compare multiple sets of data at the same time.

Again, challenging but interesting.

Can't publish anything too cool, but here are some relevant links.

ESRI's live sample page for the Silverlight/WPF API

The Silverlight Toolkit live sample page

Also, I'll be at the ESRI User's Conference in San Diego next month. If you're there, make sure to stop by the Manatron booth to say hi and take a look at what I've been working on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More movie goodness

Okay, another one of my favorite movies from young childhood on is Clue. I appreciate that movie so much more now than I did back then, but it really is just an amazingly well written and performed movie. And it always makes me laugh.

Makes most modern comedies just seem pathetic.

And really it's one of those movies you've just got to watch all the way through to appreciate.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great music for a great movie

I tend to gripe and bitch a lot about movies. Especially so far this movie season where I've seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Terminator Salvation. After one of my rants on all the problems I had with Wolverine, someone basically just responded, "Yeah, but I like to enjoy to movies." I thought this was pretty unfair given that I also like to enjoy movies. It's just hard when so many of them are just derivative and overly formulaic. With plenty of film school artistic shots 101 for dummies thrown in to make the movie feel more significant and powerful than it actually was.

So anyways, it got me thinking about the movies I love. That I know I'll always be able to watch over and over again. They're not all actually good movies, some are so bad they're good, but a few happen to be artistic masterpieces. One on the forefront of my mind is
風の谷のナウシカ (romanized: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä translated: Nausicaä of the Wind Valley or Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind).

Okay, so this one's an easy pick. It's widely considered the first great masterpiece of the man normally dubbed the best filmmaker in Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki. Many go further than that to crown him the best animated filmmaker of all time and certainly one of the top film makers overall. Nausicaä was released in Japan in 1984 and ever since has had critical acclaim reaped upon it. Miyazaki himself later panned several aspects of the film, namely its deus ex machina twist in the ending. When one goes back and reads the manga that Nausicaä was based on (written and drawn by Miyazaki himself) it's easy to see why. The manga presents a world so much more complex and has the time to go so much further in depth to the story. However, despite it's shortcomings, the film version of Nausicaä is still an amazing triumph in cinema. It's certainly a film I hope everyone gets a chance to see. There are actually very few pieces of it that feel dated, and the biggest problem a modern viewer may face is to feel like certain story aspects are unoriginal or cliche, where in proper context, Nausicaä was the original that so many movies have ripped off since.

Anyways, I was thinking about it and found some YouTube links to go with this post. Namely, a wonderful orchestrated version of the main theme, and a short clip of one of the haunting melodies that's always stuck in my head after watching the movie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's weekend time

Which means time for more of the same, given that I tend to like working on my weekend. But I should get some Rock Band time in and hanging out with some friends.

The great thing about this weekend though, is that I'm now signed up for a summer ice hockey league at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. That feels good knowing I'm finally back in the system for regular hockey play.

I can't help shake a funny feeling though that something I did this week is going to leave me feeling bummed for a very very long time to come.

Guess I'll have to try to drown that out with Melissa, my friends, and if worst-comes-to-worst, my Silverlight code.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rock Band 2

On the whole, I love the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series of games... but there is something that's driving me nuts. Now that I'm actively trying to get better at playing drums in Rock Band, I absolutely hate the freestyle drum fills that show up once you have enough energy to activate overdrive.

The worst part is, I don't think there's any way to turn them off, other than playing in practice mode where you don't accumulate energy, or deliberately missing notes in the sections where you gain energy.

What I would've hoped for would've been one of the game modifiers to disable freestyle fills. What would've been great too would be for that game modifier to not disable saving progress as well. This way, you could play the drums in quickplay or tour mode and not have to deal with those stupid freestyle fills.

They're particularly annoying to me, because I'm getting into the song, playing along, and all of a sudden, it wants me to play something altogether different. Even if I want to keep playing the song, it changes the sounds of the heads, so all of a sudden, my high-hat becomes a snare or a tom. It's just stupid and annoying. On the whole, I prefer Rock Band to Guitar Hero World Tour, but Neversoft definitely beat out Harmonix on this feature.