Violin progress

I started learning violin in May 2009 and took lessons from September 2009 through July 2015. My violin instructor had me work on the material in the Suzuki books (while not really using the full Suzuki method). In June 2012 I had my first recital. At this point I was in Suzuki book 7 and had practiced for 1900 hours. I made a blog post about the recital and my progress and you can watch a video:

After stopping lessons two years ago, I’ve been going back through the Suzuki books trying to play the pieces with more polish and at the correct speed. I’ve gotten back to the piece I played at my first recital. I’ve practiced violin for 4400 hours now and I’ve worked on this piece for three months and have not yet been able to play it at full speed. I’m planning to keep working on it and might update this post if I do get it up to full speed.

Here is a video of a practice run. This doesn’t have the piano accompaniment, is out of focus and has a few errors, but it shows the difference between now and five years ago.

It is a bit strange listening to the difference. From my perspective while playing, it doesn’t feel like I am playing any faster than I was five years ago. That sounds crazy, and of course there are some things that do feel very different, but the feeling of doing something just as fast as I can without losing control is the same now playing at 100 bpm as it was five years ago playing at 65 bpm.

For reference, here is a professional recording of the piece:

This is about 10% faster than I can play it, and I also need to clean up a few of the fast runs before I am satisfied.

Board game programming tutorial – Part 2

This is the second part in my tutorial for converting a board game for a touch table using unity.

The first part covered all our reuse code and conventions, setup the project and created a main menu.

This part will build the game and player UIs for a very simple game called “No Thanks!”.

Continue reading “Board game programming tutorial – Part 2”

Chicago

We went to Chicago for my Cousin’s wedding last weekend. We spent an extra day in town and went to the Field museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Baha’i house of worship.

Both museums were good. We particularly enjoyed the huge model train at the museum of science and the working labs at the field museum.

Photos are here.

Le Havre – Week 3

With a total of 120 hours of work, I am happy to say that Le Havre is playable. There is still a lot of testing, bug fixing, and polish to do; but I’ve played through a full game.

Main progress this week:

  • All the building actions for the normal and special buildings
  • End game

I am still expecting another 40 hours or so of work on this game. I’d like to have quite a few more sound effects and player prompts and some better animation for resources being paid/received. And once beta testing starts, I’ll have usability improvements to make too.

Continue reading “Le Havre – Week 3”

Le Havre – Week 1

I’ve spent about 40 hours working on Le Havre. About half of that time has been spent planning screen layouts and designing graphics for the buildings and ships. Bill came up with the idea to draw all the buildings (even the ones built by the players) in the center area. This keeps the player areas very small and leaves almost all of the screen space for the “town”.

Even with that idea, the space is still quite tight. I’ve had to create a different view of the buildings and ships for each “mode” that they are going to be displayed in to limit their size.

My main accomplishment this week has been coming up with a screen layout that will be able to display everything that the players need to see, and a design of the ships and buildings that will fit into that layout. I am now fairly confident that it will be possible to play this game on the touch table.

Here is the basic layout: Town Continue reading “Le Havre – Week 1”

Mechanical Keyboard

I received the mechanical keyboard from my wishlist for Christmas. It is the Rosewill RK-9000BRI. I hadn’t been able to play with the keyboard in person, so it was pretty exciting to open it up to try.

The first few keyboards that I used were all mechanical keyboards. The Apple II computers at school, and my first Tandy had mechanical keyboards. I remember the Apple II keyboard as having a particularly satisfying feel. My first modern computer was a 386 and it had a mechanical keyboard too. All of these machines were relatively expensive compared to a modern computer, and a nice keyboard was part of that cost.

My next couple of computers came from IBuyPower (a discount computer assembler) and then I started assembling my own. All my keyboards since the 386 have been membrane style. There is nothing really wrong with a membrane keyboard; they work pretty well and are very in-expensive. The main disadvantage of a membrane keyboard is that you have to fully depress (bottom out) each key press. This requires you to use extra force to type and increases strain.

Mechanical keyboards have seen a resurgence in popularity and there are quite a few options. The biggest decision to make is which type of switch to get (there is a switch under each key of a mechanical keyboard). The switch type determines how much force is required to activate the key, how much noise a key press makes and whether there is a tactile bump when the key is activated. There is a really good post summarizing the switch types at http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keyboard-guide

I picked the Cherry MX Brown switch. I wanted there to be a distinct tactile bump prior to activation, and I didn’t want an audible click to sound. That left the brown and the clear. The brown is easier to find and requires a little bit less force than the clear. The other big decisions to make are what layout you want and if you want any back-lighting.

I am really enjoying my keyboard (this blog post is really just an excuse to use it more). I am still getting used to the idea that I don’t have to fully depress the keys. I have used membrane keyboards so long that it is hard to adjust. I would say that I am already faster with the new keyboard, but I am still making a few more errors than I used to.