posts filed under: general

Break Time

Break Time
Hey anyone still reading this,

Unfortunately I wont be able to keep up with the pace with my blog posts anymore due to various circumstances in my life right now. I'm still doing stuff behind the scenes, but right now there are a lot of other things I need to focus on and my blog sadly has to take a back seat.

I had a really good streak of posts going, but really I didn't imagine that I could keep it up forever.

I'll be back at some point! Thanks for tuning in.

Kyle vs Keto Part I

Kyle vs Keto Part I
A very very long time ago I tried out the "paleo diet." It ended up having a huge positive effect for a number of reasons that you can find out more about here if you so choose. It's been a long time since then, and over time my diet sort of drifted back into what it was before paleo.

About a year and a half ago I moved to Denver, and ended up in a spot that is pretty much in the heart of the city. It was definitely a culture shock to me as now I'm living in a place where I can walk everywhere, there's always stuff going on, I hardly ever drive my car, and there are amazing places to get food on every corner. This is great! But also dangerous in terms of dieting.

A few years back I had learned about this "keto" diet that people were doing to destroy all of the excess fat on their bodies. I decided to get into paleo since that's what everyone around me was doing, but still I had always been curious about keto since I knew a few people that used it to lose a lot of weight. Right before I moved to Denver I was curious, but with the move, and ending up in an area with amazing places to eat everywhere, my experiment got severely delayed. On top of all that it seems like I am constantly traveling for games or family related stuff, and everyone knows that dieting while traveling is absolute nightmare difficulty.

So after all of that I finally had a huge stretch of time without major travel events, and this was a huge opportunity to finally give it a go. I eased myself into the diet over a few weeks, and I'm now in the middle of a strict keto streak of 3 weeks with plans to continue it indefinitely (until my next trip essentially.)

(Note: I actually wrote this initially about a month ago but forgot to post it. I'll be writing up an update on my current progress as Part II soon.)

Web Work Flow

Web Work Flow
My web work flow is constantly changing as the crazy world of web design is always on the move. Everything changes every day and what a website needs to do and look like is always moving with the technology that lets people view websites.

Coding



For writing actual web code stuff (javascript, html, css, php, etc) I've switched to Atom Editor. I have a bunch of packages that help smooth things out:

Atom Beautify
File Icons
Minimap
Project Manager

I was on a big Sublime Text kick but for some reason Atom Editor just works a little bit better for me. I was able to figure out project views in Atom Editor, and the Project List plugin lets me easily save projects and go back to them later. Atom Editor seems to have slightly worse performance than Sublime though, but that probably has a lot to do with installing way too many plugins.

Server



By far the easiest way to get something up and running quickly is running a local web server. I develop on Windows so I find a lot of success with Wamp. Wamp runs an apache web server locally so everything like php and mysql is running right from the start. I can screw around as much as I want locally before worrying about uploading it to any web server.

One thing to keep in mind though is that often my remote server is going to differ from my local server. My username and passwords might be different on my remote server than on my local server where I usually just use root for everything. To get around this easily I do a quick check of the server's IP address when running certain chunks of php code. Basically if my php method that checks the server IP address comes back with "127.0.0.1" which is localhost then I can run some things a little differently. Change usernames and passwords, and other stuff like change error reporting levels and whatever else is useful. This is a handy thing to know if you're developing locally and then moving to remote!

Php & mySql



I still stick with the tried and true combo of php and mysql. Some things have changed over the years with updated versions of php. Some of the mysql syntax has changed into this "mysqli" business that is supposed to be more secure, but basically I am still running on the same blog platform I wrote about 7 years ago now. It is a totally custom made set up that isn't too complicated, but making it completely custom and closed source means I'm not subject to mass vulnerabilities from stuff like WordPress.

Smarty



Using Smarty for my template system has paid off in a huge way with this redesign. A long, long time ago I used to just mash all of my html and php together into a horrible Frankenstein's monster mess of a website, but I was turned onto Smarty a while back and I've never looked back since.

If you're using php using a template system like Smarty is an absolute must in my opinion. Basically you can tuck all of your php away into some core php files, and then have your website use smarty template files that can easily insert data from your php sources. Basically the php's job at that point is to create Smarty template objects and then feed those objects the data they need. Smarty is not really mean to be a logic or programming type solution, but it does have some basic things that are more than enough to get by.

Essentially this made it so for this redesign I didn't have to touch any of my php. I did have to adjust a few lines in my php code because of how the layout changed. For example in my php core codebase I get all of the data from my Twitter feed. Originally my twitter feed was in my header template that appeared on all of my pages, but now it only appears on the sidebar of my blog. All this meant was that I had to feed the twitter data to my blog template instead of the header template. Beyond that all the changes were just done on my Smarty template.

Smarty creates a safe layer that I can screw around on knowing that I'm not going to destroy anything on the php side accidentally. When I finished the mock up of this redesign all I had to do was reference my old design to see what smarty tags I had to include for things like the sidebar entries, blog posts, and the data for the stuff on the games, draws, webs, and miscs pages. So with the same underbelly I have a completely new looking website. Neat!

Other Cool Stuff



For the front end side I made use of a lot of handy things from the web. jQuery for some fancy animation and ajax stuff. Lity for light boxing images. Google Fonts for the handwritten looking fonts, and animate.css for reference on creating the animations for hovering over certain things.

One of the things I love about web development is how open the entire world of it is. There are so many solutions for common problems that thousands or maybe millions of developers have hit, so it never feels like I'm working alone. The game dev scene has been approaching that steadily, but there is a level of openness and togetherness that the web community has right now that seems totally unmatched.

Web dev is also a good break for my brain which can be utterly destroyed by the near infinite complexity of video game programming.

June Status Update

June Status Update
I swear I have the worst habits with updating my blog. It's tougher to update these days when I'm working on stuff I can't share! This month is just flying by too.

Something I've decided to start digging into this month is more writing. I ended up stumbling across a really cool guy on YouTube when searching for more resources about dungeon or game mastering. Long story short I am still very, very obsessed with tabletop RPGs and at some point I'm going to be taking over the game master role for my core group, so I'm trying to download as much info into my brain as possible.

What's really interesting to me is that a lot of techniques of building out skills as a game master also seems to translate directly into constructing good stories. A lot of the resources I started digging through inspired me to acutally sit down and try to write some stuff!

I uhh am totally not sharing any of it soon though. So all the characters I draw (like the ones at the bottom of my site right now at the time of writing this post) are part of some sort of story in my mind that has been changing every year since I was 11 or 12 years old. I've tried writing it down a few times, but not for a while now. With all of this new information dumping into my brain about creating stories and leading tabletop players on adventures I feel like I'm hopefully able to make a big breakthrough or something like that.

Some cool people have been trying to encourage me to maybe do a web comic at some point, but I think in order for me to feel comfortable doing that I'd have to iron out a lot of the details about these characters before I start drawing anything.

So a lot of nights this month I've been trying to write for an hour or so. Mostly just general thoughts on potential character motivations, backstories, and the overall rules of the universe everything takes place in. It's been a lot of fun!

Okay whoops this is already way longer than I thought it would be. Other than that I'm trying to keep up with my art skills mostly. I have another backlog of doodles to post as I need to hit my quota of 12 posts for the month, whoops.

I finished listening to Creativity Inc., which is a pretty dang good book. It goes through the founding of Pixar and the techniques they employ to help foster a creative environment. I feel like I learned a lot just listening to it, and it also makes me feel a little bit less anxious knowing that even the best of the best go through the same problems that I do when faced with the daily task of just making things. I'm not sure how it is to read, and I do a lot of work that lets me listen to audio in the background, so my experience going through it may be way different than reading it.

I also feel like I may have gotten a few fresh ideas to finally finish off Sky Sisters. I'm excited to jump back into it but right now my time is a little thin and I'm totally brain stale on the codebase. It will take me a little while to get used to it again.

Speaking of that I don't know if I'm going to ever get back to dev streaming this year since a lot of my work is just not streamable. I was thinking about maybe still streaming games, or doodling maybe would be fun. We'll see.

Also I've been trying a new diet these past few months and I need to post about that at some point!

Hopefully some more concentrated posts about some of the stuff mentioned here coming soon.

May Status Report

May Status Report
May was a pretty good month! I managed to complete my new website layout (almost.) I'm still missing some art work that I want to do for the empty right side, but overall I'm happy have a new design rolling that replaces the one I made in 2011. It doesn't really feel like it was that long ago, but I guess time flies when you get older. Whoops.

I'm still spending a fair chunk of my time working on a project with a few really cool people. Hopefully very soon I'll be able to share what it is and maybe even talk about it a little bit on my blog or in other places.

That being said I haven't really had a lot of time for personal projects. I'm still trying to spend as much time as I can drawing, and some of the free moments I have I spend working on my Pathfinder Character Sheet manager. I just recently added the ability to translate it to any language, and someone has already translated it to German. More on that later!

Sorry that it has been eerily quiet around here. Working on a secret thing is kind of new to me and I'm totally not used to not being able to openly share what I'm working on. I haven't streamed in over 6 months because I'm just not sure what I would stream. I am starting to feel a little bit of that itch though to get back to coding something games related. Maybe Otter FNA can be revived soon... but I got stuck in a lot of different problems trying to put it together. Starting to realize that I'm probably not smart enough to be making my own engine/api and I should probably start putting time into learning something else. But I love C# way too much, and there are no other solutions out there for 2d games and C#. Technically yes Unity does 2d and uses C# but Unity just feels like over kill and is painfully slow for me to develop in. Augh!

Anyway that's all I'll say for now. I feel like I could expand on a couple of these thoughts later as full posts, but some of these things I've already talked about at length many, many times.

Oh I'm still pretty anxious and stuff but at least I'm having fun on this small team project which I can't wait to show off at some point. Yeah!

Border Image Magic

Border Image Magic
Here's another hot web tip! Did you know about border-image?! It's what I've been searching for in my web design projects since I was 14 years old.

So lets talk about the world of designing image intense websites before I discovered the magic of border-image. In order to have a div element have some sort of image border I had to take an image and slice it up a bunch of different ways depending on how dynamic the div was going to be. If it was a div that would only ever stretch vertically then I could get away with 3 images: one for the top, another for the bottom, and the last for the repeating vertical portion. If the div was going to be stretched both vertically and horizontally then the number of images increases to a whopping 9! Each corner, each side, and the center. Sometimes this is known as a nine slice in certain user interface contexts.

Image


Way back in the day when it was only possible to have one background element inside of a div I had to do things like have multiple layers of divs in order to display each background image. Three slices of an image meant three divs to display it properly. Nine slices meant nine divs! As you can imagine this makes the html look bloated and messy.