Pepper Practice Painting

February 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm (Uncategorized)


I’ve started reading books on acrylic painting to build up my knowledge of the medium and some techniques. This is my rendition of one of the suggested practice pieces. It’s about 4 inches across.

Practice with layering

Practice with layering

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Improve Your Memory and Never Forget

September 28, 2015 at 2:27 pm (Rant, Thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )


Memory is key to living. How can you operate if you can’t remember who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re going? Consider this quotation from Hugh of St. Victor: “The whole usefulness of education consists only in the memory of it”. Essentially, you could pay thousands of dollars to go to school for years and obtain a doctorate, but how useful is it if you don’t remember anything of those years?

Often I hear people explain that their memory isn’t what it used to be, and they just can’t seem to retain anything. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure to help us instantly improve our memories and remember everything we’d like to. However, I’d like to introduce you to a technique I make use of: the memory palace. Honestly, you don’t have to be a genius or a brilliant detective to take advantage of this technique, but it will take some deliberate practice and effort to get used to it.

Brief Background on Memory Palaces

This technique is also known as the “Method of Loci”, the “Journey Method”, or the “Roman Room” method. All of these names essentially point to the idea of associating items or concepts with a physical location. You might not even realize this, but your brain is exceedingly good at remembering locations. You’re able to remember the rooms in your house, where your furniture is, and where the bathroom is at your place of employment. I bet you can probably remember the journey you took to get to work today as well.

The general idea of this technique is that you associate the things you want to memorize with areas of these locations using vivid images. When you imagine yourself walking through your location in your mind, you will “see” these images and they will remind you of the items you’re trying to remember.

See the Memory Palace in Action

As a trivial example to illustrate my point, if I wanted to remember a grocery list consisting of bread, milk, eggs, and butter, I could do something like the following:

I choose to use the journey from my apartment to the nearest bus stop; I live pretty close to it, but my list is very small. As I exit the lobby of my apartment, my spider-sense tingles to let me know I’m in danger! I quickly duck to avoid being hit by a French baker swinging a baguette at me. He shouts profanities at me as I run around the corner to avoid him. Whew! Bread is the first item on my list.

As the next part of my journey, I have to cross over the exit to the underground parking lot for my building. Unfortunately, just as I walk up to it, a stampede of cows rush out of the parking lot. Their cow bells are clanging as they run past me, and I notice that they definitely smell like cows. Milk is the second item on my list.

Once the stampede is over, I continue down the street to a stop sign so I can cross the road. I wait to ensure the cars are going to stop for me before I begin to cross. As I start to walk, I hear honking from the jeep that stopped for me – what is their problem? I look over and there are chickens driving that jeep! They look really angry with me that I had the nerve to cross the road and they start throwing eggs at me. I cover my head and run to get to the other side. Eggs are the third item.

It finally looks like I’ve made it; I can see the bus stop from here. As I fist-bump the air to celebrate, I realize I’ve made a grave mistake – I’m no longer watching the sidewalk. Somebody has smeared butter all over the sidewalk and I slip and fall! Now I’m covered in grease and everything will probably stick to me now. Butter is the last item on the list.

At this point, you need to practice walking through this journey in your mind. If you only need the list for a short period of time, you don’t need to practice that much. However, if you are storing information you’ll need for a long period of time, you’ll want to refresh the journey periodically to make sure it doesn’t degrade.

What Can You Store in a Memory Palace?

Honestly, I haven’t been able to find things that can’t be memorized using this technique. It has been used for hundreds of years by some very famous people (as a homework assignment, I encourage you to do a little research). Essentially anything can be stored, but it depends on the amount of effort and creativity you have. Here is a short list of different types of information you can store; everybody likes lists, right?

  • Sequential Lists of data such as processes, instructions, or ordered data
  • Sets of unrelated data such as concepts within a field or shopping lists
  • Speeches or stories. These have an ordered sequence of plot points

Ways to Improve the Quality of these Associations

On a final note, I should discuss some things to make the whole process easier. There are certain types of memories that your brain will have an easier time storing. If you think of images for your memory palace that involve these concepts, you’ll find that they will become more vivid and therefore more memorable. The following is a short (but not exclusive) list of these concepts:

Laughter. Create funny images that you can laugh at. Instead of some ultra-realistic image, throw in some comical things like chickens throwing their eggs at somebody.

Exaggeration. Make things larger than they have to be or more intense. An angry French baker dueling with bread is more memorable than a grocery store rack of bread loafs (to me anyway).

Your senses. Memories that include multiple senses have a lasting effect. What do things smell like? What do they sound like? Do they have tactile textures?

Positive Thinking. This is an underestimated factor of memory. You have to have a positive opinion of what you’re trying to remember. Your subconscious will always try to protect you by trimming out unhappy memories when it can. Keeping things positive will put you in a better state when you revisit your memory palace and will reduce stress (which creates chemicals that are not helpful for thinking).

I hope you’ll give this a shot; I’ve had some great success using this technique to remember some really tedious and detail-oriented concepts over the years. It’s great for never forgetting, and it’s also an excellent creativity exercise. Happy remembering.

Originally posted here: http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/improve-your-memory-never-forget-jake-seigel

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Synesthesia + PAO Memory Technique

June 10, 2015 at 9:12 am (Thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )


Some of the books I’ve been reading lately are about the use of advanced memory techniques such as the memory palace or the person-action-object method. It’s actually interesting that I’ve read so much on the subject that I keep reading references to the existing material; this means that I’ve found the “good” stuff.

I’ve been experimenting with the memory palace technique for a while, but I started trying out the PAO method. The interesting bit here is that I have synesthesia: a condition where my brain merges different things together essentially. In my case, when I look at or think about numbers or letters, I see colours as well. These colours are always associated with the same digits and it never changes. On an unusual side note, I also have the same effect with personalities (it’s hard to explain).

Anyway, I’m still in the preliminary stage, but I’m associating Marvel characters with numbers based on their costume colour palette. Essentially, each character has one or two colours that are fairly iconic for them. For example, Iron Man is red and yellow and Spiderman is blue and red. I’m hoping to use this as a starting point for using this system (definitely check out how it works on wikipedia).

For those interested, the colours I associate with numbers don’t change, but they’re kind of hard for me to describe or even pick out from a list. I’ve put together an image showing a loose approximation of the 0-9 numbers:

Synesthesia

Synesthesia

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Project: DarkWolf2D (2D Dungeon Crawler)

January 10, 2015 at 4:30 pm (Game Development, Games, Graphics, Java, Processing, Programming, Rant, Uncategorized, Video games) (, , , , , , , , )


Over the holidays, I had some time to upgrade the core code for my game engine. I’ve upgraded the version of Processing that I use as well, which means I can use shaders for rendering along with some of the nicer JSON loading features. While I have a “version 2” of my engine working though, I haven’t yet retro-fitted it into my Zombie Mansion yet. This is coming in the future, but for “proof” that my code works, I’ve been putting together a small game based on a design I had in a dream. It’s the “basic” version of the idea, which means no multiplayer and no nice graphics.

The idea is for a dungeon crawler action game that takes ideas from the MOBA genre. I know how it sounds, but it’s actually a very basic idea and it’s already half built. It’s a player-vs-environment game right now where the player begins at level 1 for each dungeon and has to level up as they progress to bosses. The theme for it is an alternate history WW2 where the characters are different classes such as “US Medic”, “Russian Sniper”, or “French Resistance Fighter”. Each class has a basic attack and a list of abilities they can level up and use. I’m keeping the XP system as simple as I can (although I’ve never built one before), and I’m not using any items for the game right now.

For rendering, it’s a 2D game with no character animations; just a static side-shot image. This should keep the dev cycle pretty low for now. I also have a feature backlog that I’m considering making public, but for now I’ll only do that if I have anyone comment that they actually care to look at it. It’s a list of all the features that I plan on implementing (some are basic things like “add audio to the game”, and it functions as my “todo” list. As I build in features, I mark them as “Complete” and they shuffle to the bottom of the list for storage.

Edit: Added a screenshot. It’s very basic and you can’t really see anything worthwhile. Just showing that I can at least render the player in a level. I’ll make a video later.

First screenshot of DarkWolf2D

First screenshot of DarkWolf2D

 

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[Video] Rainfall Special Effects

May 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm (Uncategorized)


I’ve uploaded a video showing off the new rain effect I’ve been trying to improve in my game.

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Possible Chronicles of Jestermax remake?

March 18, 2013 at 9:58 am (Uncategorized)


So I’ve been getting a little unmotivated while working on my Zombie Mansion idea. I’m at the point where I need to put together levels and add the zombies in. I’m bored of that though. Also, I have to do a bunch of zombie animations as well. There’s also some other details to implement like the title screen and the HUD, but I can never seen to find the energy to work on that stuff. I kind of need a manager for these project sometimes.
So I had the crazy idea that just remaking the Chronicles of Jestermax games would break this spree of unmotivation and let me get an actual demo/game released. The art of this idea is simple and I can just reuse levels and storyline from the other games. Is this a good or bad idea?

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Paper Donkey Engine: Camera animation (redo)

March 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm (Uncategorized)


Here’s a better version of the animated GIF showing off the camera spin. I’ve set the background to be black so that the colour quantization effect doesn’t make it look hideous.

Camera Rotation in Paper Donkey Engine

Camera Rotation in Paper Donkey Engine

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Game Engine Updates: Feb 13, 2013

February 13, 2013 at 11:45 pm (Uncategorized)


I’ll post screenshots in a few days probably, but for now I’ll just post the changes I’ve made. I’ve implemented the one-sided walls I’ve been after for a while now. You can see them when they’re facing towards the room and they’re hidden when they would obscure the room.
Also, I added in floor triggers. This allows scripted events to occur based on the player’s position in the level. I should note though that there is a recent bug in JBox2D that is crippling this feature (with a crash). I’m hoping it will be fixed soon.
The last big, exciting change is the addition of a scripting UI interface. GUI widgets can be created and rendered using the scripting engine. It’s a small trade-off in rendering power I’m sure, but it offers a lot of flexibility, especially during the development process.

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Paper Donkey Engine Improvements

February 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, )


So I spent a bit of time today working on my game engine that I haven’t touched in a while. I’m adding a scripting engine (the Rhino-based one included since Java 6) to it and improving the physics engine. Now you will be able to use javascript files to modify game objects and specify level start states in a MUCH better/easier way. Win!

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Why not Zoidberg?

October 4, 2012 at 9:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , )


A picture of a lobster man I saw in Peggy’s Cove this week.

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