I have a newfound respect for people who create product demonstrations. Just that dippy, unpolished video was a total PITA to create… so many things can–and do–go wrong.

The fruits of my labor

I haven’t mentioned it here, but I spent the better part of the last two months on furlough. While I understood, conceptually, that it was a temporary thing and no fault of my own, I took it kinda hard initially–there’s an implicit message of uselessness there that’s hard to get around.

Once I got over that (i.e. after the first month), I finally sat down and tried to create my first Rails app. My sister really loves books, and wanted some sort of way to track them: the ones she owned, the ones she wanted, the ones that were eligible for Amazon’s four-for-three promotion, that sort of thing. It was a nice fit for trying to learn Rails–not too large a scope, but you’d definitely need to fiddle with things a bit.

I dubbed my program Bookoff, after a Japanese used bookstore chain. I’m really proud of how it turned out. So proud, in fact, that I bothered to record a little video and upload it here (click through; it’s a big screen, so I’m not going to bother trying to embed it):

Bookoff video demo

Not bad for a first outing with Rails, eh? (Psst: don’t bother trying to read too much into the books listed; I was just grabbing random titles off the top of my head and from the front pages of Amazon.)

The time I spent pulling up the “Comic” graphic novels was trying to show that the program uses natural sorting (one of a few bajillion things I butted my head against): by default, databases sorting by name would have sorted those volumes as

  • Comic 1
  • Comic 10
  • Comic 2
  • Comic 21

which is pretty silly.

Job opportunity: if you’re a male, with a lion suit, in need of $15 and booze (SFW, amazingly).

New Romance: a comedy-horror music video send-up of Saved By the Bell?

Retro Gaming Expo AAR

I visited the Portland Retro Gaming Expo this weekend with Andy, Brian, Nate, Kevin, and Andy’s friend Eric. The event was a sea of ancient hardware (up to and including the PS2 and original Xbox… though they were certainly more fringe than commonplace), gaming tchotchkes, and an unexpectedly large (at least to me) mass of people united by their love of old games.

Also a giant plastic Pikachu with an Optimus Prime mask hanging off one ear.

I walked away with used copies of Golden Sun and Secret of Evermore, the latter correcting one of the more egregious decisions of my childhood. (I got a GBA later in its life, long after Golden Sun was out of print… whereas I actively chose not to buy Evermore.) I regret that I must report that someone else stole the DS witch-touching game out from under me. (I do not regret reporting that I’m totally kidding about my intent to purchase that game.)

In addition to wandering around the sea of vendors, there was also a freeplay area where people could test their mettle against old arcade games. I wound up not playing much, partly because I never really played games at arcades and so have no fond memories of them, and partly because I am now absolute shit at Nintendo Hard games. I couldn’t even frickin’ play Pong. That was pretty humbling.

I did see a Vectrex for the first time in my life (Andy played a game of Asteroids on one), and enjoyed discovering video game soap… though I question my need to have a replica NES cartridge in my shower. I also joined Brian in completely mis-reading 8bitcraft‘s logo for the entirety of the show. (The “8” looks like an overly-fancy “S”, and “b” and “h” look kinda similar. Word shapes, people!)

On the way out of the show (which also doubled as a sauna), I ran into dance-friend Ashley. (!) Apparently Bridgetown Swing–the premiere West Coast Swing convention of the Pacific Northwest that I’ve blown off for the last ten years running–was happening literally across the street from where we had been geeking out. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to attending.

Looking through the photos on the site just now, I see a bunch of familiar faces. Someday I might be a decent-enough dancer to actually justify attending… maybe.

There are about ten large birds circling the sky around my house at the moment. Current mood: ill at ease.

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