Moving, a Different Kind of Moving, and a New Project


Okay, I’ve been out of the loop for a little while – moved across town (and thankfully into a rather pleasant house, instead of an apartment), and even though we were completely moved and had the important stuff unpacked and setup (read: computer, tv, blu-ray player, and coffee pot), we didn’t get the cable and internet installed until this past weekend.

I’ve also been trying to figure out where I want to move this blog.  WordPress.com is great unless you want to do anything other than just post stuff; then you gotta part ways with your cash.  Blogger.com – Google’s blogging platform – is pretty good, but just not quite right.  I also looked into Tumblr and Posterous, but I just can’t make sense of how to use them.  I’ve been using WordPress in some fashion or other for pretty much all of my online life, so that’s what I’m used to and everything else mostly gets a blank stare.

But, I’ve found a good (and free) host that I’m gonna try and move to over the next week, so we’ll see how that goes.  I won’t be limited to just having WordPress either – it’s an actual web host with PHP and database support, so I can play with some project ideas I’ve had in mind for a while too.

Speaking of projects, I’ve started doinking around with HTML5 for a little video game, just to get a feel for what you can do with the new toys it brings to the table.  So far it isn’t anything worth showing off, but it’s a “Flood It” style game, where you’re presented with a board of randomly colored squares and you change the colors of a group of squares each turn until the board is a single color.  If you’ve got an Android phone, you can get an example here, and I’m sure there’s plenty of others for iOS or Windows Mobile, to say nothing of online versions.  (It’s an excellent time waster – trust me.)

Like I said, it’s giving me a chance to play with HTML5′s features.  Right now I’ve got it set to draw the board and change colors, all using the new canvas element and JavaScript.  I’m looking at adding some other stuff that’ll make use of local storage – tracking how well you did in a given board, for example – and maybe other features as I think of it.  I haven’t played with any of the new CSS3 stuff yet, but that’s mainly because I’m just trying to get it running – all in due time :)

I’ve also taken this opportunity to explore other JavaScript libraries, and I’m using MooTools for this project.  I really wanted to use Prototype, but it hasn’t been touched in quite some time (at least by web development standards), so that was a bit of a turn off.  Dojo is an awesome library, but it’s overkill for this – I’ll probably use it for other projects I have in mind, just not this one.  And to be perfectly honest, I can’t stand jQuery – I like some of the concepts it encourages (plugins and method chaining) but the lack of built-in class declaration features and its focus on DOM manipulation just kill it for me.  (I’m definitely an OOP kinda guy, and more programmer than web designer.)

MooTools looks good so far though.  It’s got OOP features and a custom eventing mechanism (which I’m sure the other libraries provide as well), and those are worth playing with.  And it’s something new to me – I’ve used all three of those other ones in projects before.

It time to earn food for my daughter, so this little babble fest must end.  Stay tuned though – I’ll definitely put up the game when it’s ready, and when I get the blog moved over I’m gonna probably be more active (which means flooding the internet with shameless pleas for you to buy my book).

Catch you on the flip side.

–Matt

Oldies but Goodies


One thing I’m definitely thankful for about Denver is that they have a good oldies station.  Most of the time I listen to ESPN radio, with hard rock my usual backup.  Some times I’ll get tired of both of them though, and see what else I have for my pre-sets.  One of those is an oldies station.

El Paso didn’t have one – at least, not that I ever found (maybe AM, but who the hell listens to music on AM if you’re not on a roadtrip?).  And that’s a damned shame – even if you just play the big names, like the Beatles or the Beach Boys, there’s some really good music that’s getting forgotten about.  And that’s to say nothing of all the one-hit wonders or smaller time groups.

So this morning I got to rock out to “Hang On Sloopy”, and it really took me back.  Growing up, I listened to very little other than oldies whenever I was staying with my mom.  Sure, as I got older and got a CD player of my own (remember the Sony Discman?  And how if you looked at it wrong it would either skip or open?  Good times…), I started listening to my own choices – classical music, alternative rock, “regular” rock, a little of the mainstream punk in there for good measure (i.e. Blink182′s Dude Ranch and Greenday’s Dookie).  But whenever we would drive somewhere, it was almost invariably some good old surfer music, or doo wop, or motown playing on the car’s radio.

And of course we’d always sing along when we knew the words.  Neither of us could sing to save our lives – I believe my mom was the first person I heard say “I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket” – but that wasn’t the point.  We weren’t auditioning for American Idol.  We weren’t trying to impress each other – we had no reason to – or practice for an upcoming concert.  It was just the two of us, sailing on the Sloop John B with Brian Wilson or Leaving on a Jet Plane with Peter, Paul, and Mary.  She’d “sing” in her gravelly voice, and I’d voice the melody as best as I could, skipping the words because I hadn’t really learned them most of the time (that’s a skill that served me quite well in high school choir, by the way).

So, for the moment at least, the greatest thing about living in Denver isn’t the job, or the scenery, or the people.  It’s once again turinging on the radio and hearing Three Dog Night sing about throwing away the cars, the bars, and the wars.  What else could you ask for from your radio anyways?

Your American Bus Drivers League MVP Is…


I listen to ESPN radio most of the time I’m driving.  Often I’m not really in the mood for music, news depresses me, and I can’t stand politics.  So sports works out pretty good – makes me feel slightly more like the stereotypical guy.

One thing it almost always makes me imagine is what it would be like if “regular” jobs were handled similarly to a sporting league.  That’d be interesting, wouldn’t it?  Can you imagine being drafted as a first-round payroll clerk?  Or getting traded to another company?

“Hey man, did you hear about Jack?”
“No, what happened?”
“They traded him to Initech for a first-round pick, two Java developers, and a support tech.”
“Damn, that’s gonna hurt.  He had an awesome LOC* rating for a junior coder.”
“Yeah, but with the extra first round pick we might be able to get another designer and maybe a tester.”
“Right – there’s that one junior from MIT who’s supposed to be top in his conference in JUnit tests, both with and without mock classes.  If he declares early…”

(*LOC means Lines Of Code)

You’d have an all-star “game” where the best employees would compete against each other.  Then you’d have playoffs between the top companies, culminating in a championship.

“Tom Pritchard, you and your employees just won the 2013 Accountants Bowl.  What are you doing next?”
“I’m going to STAPLES!!!  Wooohooo!”

Okay.  Maybe I need to get out more.

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Obligatory Introduction Post


I’ve had so many blogs over the years that I think I’ve written more intro posts than regular posts.  Because of that, you’d think it’d be easy by now.

It’s not.

Not that I mind talking about myself – it’s one of my favorite subjects – but because I don’t really know what to talk about in particular.  If I put something in the wrong “order”, then it seems either more or less important than it really is.  If I forget something completely, then later on I’ll feel like I need to backtrack if I’m talking about something related to it.  And if I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about something relatively trivial, like perhaps that I ride the train to work, and gloss over something important, like my wife and daughter, well, I’ll just curl up in a corner and rock myself patiently for a week.

So, bearing that in mind, here it goes…

I’m currently a software/web developer for the Colorado State Judicial Deparment in Denver.  I’ve lived a few places – El Paso, TX; Western Washington state; and southern California when I was a kid.  I’m married to a beautiful woman, and we recently had our first child, a beautiful girl who’s already got me wrapped tighter around her tiny little fingers than I ever thought possible.

Most of my adult life I’ve been focused on programming – both as a career and a hobby.  But I’ve also spent time playing piano, writing music, and, well, “regular” writing.  I’ve got one book under my belt, a quasi-romance/family drama book called Like Glass.  It’s published in the UK right now; you can order it from Amazon’s UK site or from the Book Depository – forgive the lack of links; I’m writing this on my phone and it’s a pain in the ass to switch back and forth.  Trust me – I’ll provide links soon.  If you’re not in the UK, I’d recommend the Book Depository.  They offer free shipping to most places (maybe worldwide?), and I already have had a couple of US readers order it from there.

Right now I’m playing around with photography as a hobby.  I’ve always wanted to do some of the more visual arts, but never had the patience to teach my hands to make what I see.  Photography is a good compromise there – I don’t necessarily have complete control over the subject, but I can tweak the hell out of the colors.  From what little I’ve read on a couple of photography sites (just got into it this past weekend – haven’t spent much time researching), there’s a lot of sentiment against heavy post processing; personally, I love it.

One thing that’s probably worth getting out from the beginning is that I have been diagnosed with depression.  A lot of people talk about “suffering” from depression; I don’t like to think that way.  It’s part of who I am.  That’d be like saying I suffer from being left-handed.  I’m on meds that work, I see a therapist sometimes, I get moody sometimes.  That’s just life.

Well, I think that covers the basics pretty well, or at least most of the stuff I’ll probably talk about in this thing.  I’m sure there’s a lot that I missed, or put in the wrong order, or any of the other neurotic concerns I listed above, but my thumbs are getting tired so anything else will have to wait for later.

Catch you on the flip side.

–Matt

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