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Aaron Standridge

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Thoroughly fascinating. Brian Eno was the first person I ever heard describe the merits of bringing an inexperienced approach to a problem.
Really interesting article on how to be creative. Also note to self: drink more wine before writing haha.
How to Be Creative
How to Be Creative
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Oh look, Raph Koster wrote an article about me :p Well, okay, but it could have been.
Rigid programming philosophies are the devil.

Look, I am upfront about the fact that I am not an amazing programmer. I am not even a really competent one. I hack. I didn’t go through a CS degree, I don’t actually know a lot of the lingo, etc.

On the other hand, I have in fact been credited as a programmer on published games. I have programmed in quite a lot of languages, I prototype my own stuff regularly, and my name is on several technical patents. I seem to have a knack for seeing architectural solutions to problems, and for inventing technical solutions. (I generally prefer to partner with a genius coder for the actual implementation thereof — and have been lucky enough to work with many of them!).

So take everything I am about to say with the appropriate grain of salt.

I have seen too many projects get hosed by “the right way to do things”… like say planning your entire game in UML on three hallways worth of paper on the walls, only to find the resulting code too slow to actually use (this is a true story… and I apologize to the many friends and extremely smart folks who worked on the project I am talking about!). Or insisting on the absolute perfect approach to object-oriented or domain-driven design or whatever, when two lines would get you the same result with better performance, less obfuscation, and easier maintainability.

The right way to do things the first time is the way that gets it working the fastest so you can see if your solution even makes sense.

The right way to rewrite it once that works is to make it fault-tolerant and scalable.

The wrong thing to do is build a giant system first, and try to account for every possibility. Odds are very good that you need to write a screwdriver, not a power drill that can double as a belt sander. And really, in the long run, wouldn’t you rather have a tool chest with a solid screwdriver, a decent hammer, and a good pair of pliers — rather than a power drill/sander/screwdriver than can pound nails with its handle?

This doesn’t mean that you don’t plan ahead. Sure — your first pass should include as elegant a solution as you can think of for the actual problem at hand; it just shouldn’t include solutions for problems you invented for yourself. And it doesn’t mean that you might not end up with complex systems in the end. Sure — over time, you will encounter new problems, and it will turn out the hammer you already have can handle them with minor modifications — which can turn into cruft over time if you are not careful.

But why start further down that path than you need to? A is a cool idea and a useful pattern, not a solution to every problem.

FWIW, I feel the same way about religious adherence to project-management-philosophy-of-the-day stuff too. Basically, as soon as I hear “we’re doing this this way” followed by a few buzzwords, I can’t help but heave a giant mental sigh. So hmm, perhaps the right title for this post should have been “dogma is evil.” :)

Lastly, never trust a programmer who says that he only knows one language. The more in love with one language someone is, the more likely they seem to be to fall into the above trap… and if you are one of said programmers — try more languages. :) Each language I have learned has introduced me to a new programming concept that rewrote my mental model of programming in general. It’s OK to have favorites — I do! — but it’s always best to use the right tool for the job.

(FWIW, my favorite at any given moment is entirely based on “what lets me stage up a working prototype as fast as possible”).
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I've been doing some off-and-on research into kickstarters lately following a conversation with +Timothy Sellers of the delightful and intelligent indie band Artichoke, and though I wasn't specifically looking for game related projects like this one, I wondered more than once why I wasn't seeing more of them. Kickstarter seems almost perfect for indie devs for all the reasons TechCrunch mentions. It's difficult to see a project through to completion when your two primary resources, time and money, are typically a direct tradeoff.

Kickstarter's been around for a few years now, and is really starting to gain momentum to the point that I wonder how long it will take before it becomes very difficult to rise above the signal-to-noise ratio there. I already see a lot shared by some of the more celebrity-ish types I follow on Twitter, particularly Neil Gaiman. I haven't put one together myself yet, but I don't believe there is any sort of peer-or-official ratification process involved, as I've seen several joke kickstarters (one to pay off America's deficit, for example).

If that's the case, projects will inevitably be (or more likely, have already been) started by people simply looking to farm money. This makes me wonder a.) what sort of supporter recourse is available for projects which are funded and then fail to follow through, and b.) how Kickstarter will eventually deal with the need to recognize fake projects. Based on their FAQ, it's basically law of the jungle over there right now, wherein they advise potential supporters to use their "internet street smarts" when backing a project. I don't think that sort of nebulous semi-caution will ultimately suffice, as projects regularly enter the six-digit range.

Thoughts? Has anyone here actually started one to record an album, create a game, fund a book, brew some beer, or whatever? How did it go? Have you invested in any that are particularly fascinating?
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Live feed of the ongoing OccupyWallStreet march.
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It's been a pretty long time since I've read comics, and it's sort of sad that they still haven't gotten past this, especially considering how much higher the percentage of female and adult readers must be.
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Ways you can help with the fires across Texas. Please share this even if you don't live in Texas.
Updated 6:25pm CDT

First, if you're not a trained firefighter or capable of helping directly with the fires or evacuation, please stay out of the affected areas. Firefighters have had issues with onlookers and amateur journalists blocking roads and preventing them from doing their jobs. Stay out of the way and respect official evacuation notices - be ready to leave your house at a moment's notice.

Many major roads into Bastrop and Steiner Ranch are currently closed to all except law enforcement and firefighters. Road closings can be checked here:

Residents needing information can call hotlines at 512-332-8856 or 512-332-8856 for up-to-date information on the fires. These hotlines are overloaded, so be patient. You can also follow the #centraltxfires tag on Twitter (!/search/realtime/%23centraltxfires ), but be aware of misinformation.

City of Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management has updates about once per hour:

The American Red Cross of Central Texas is primarily taking cash donations at this time.

They are also looking for trained volunteers in some places. Follow them on Twitter (!/CenTexRedCross ) for updates of what's needed where.

More comprehensive lists of who is accepting what:

If you've lost your home or are unable to return to it at this time and need shelter, evacuees are being routed to the following locations

Steiner Ranch residents can take a photo ID to Vandergrift High School and get the status of their home.

If you've been evacuated, you should consider checking in at so family and friends can know you're okay. Similarly, if you're concerned about someone but unable to reach them, search there first.

Many animals and pets have been displaced or abandoned and subsequently rescued, but they need help on a temporary or permanent basis. Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society are working like crazy to find homes for everyone, but they will almost certainly need donations of food and supplies. They are also currently waiving or reducing their normal adoption fees.

Excellent page consolidating many resources for animal owners:


Lots of useful contacts and info here, but be aware that none of it is being officially vetted
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Fires Breakout Around Austin Texas
[This page:]

Follow live:

Twitter: #centraltxfires
Twitter: #txfire
Radio: KLBJ Radio, Click the "Listen Live" link:
Austin - Travis County Live Scanner Feed:
Bastrop County Live Scanner Feed:
Central Texas American Red Cross:


AFD has reached adequate number of reserve firefighters,
NO need to continue calling 978-1187 or 974-0400 at this time

Fire Maps:

Weather Underground:
Texas Forest Service Map of the Fires:


Latest update from Travis County:

Austin YNN:
KXAN News:
KVUE News:
My Fox Austin News:

Damage Rollup:

Travis County: Unknown Acres burning. 27 houses destroyed as of Sept 4, 2011.
Bastrop County: 14,000+ Acres burning. 300 houses destroyed as of Sept 4, 2011.

Consolidated Evacuation Lists and Effected Areas:

Summarized on /r/Austin As of September 4th-5th:
Texas Storm Chaser's Bastrop Evacuation list:


On September 1st I posted this Weather rollup on Central Texas describing the drought:

Austin/Travis County announced high wind watch and warnings. That together with the existing weather conditions fire danger was very high. Fires broke out in and around Austin and the greater Austin area.

Fire Weather Warning now in effect.


10 minutes from Krause Springs:

Bastrop, TX:

Fire in Steiner Ranch - View from Apache Shores

Donate to the Central Texas American Red Cross:
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