VR reveals why nobody should handle a weapon until they have basic training

VR reveals why nobody should handle a weapon until they have basic training

VR has been fascinating for revealing human nature.
In the course of 75 seconds on this video, this guy makes more fatal or near fatal weapons handling mistakes than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. The one at 2:46 is particularly cringe-worthy.
A new sandbox game called ‘Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades’ allows anyone to fire all kinds of weapons. What makes this video very relevant is that the mistakes this guy makes are almost all the classic ones that someone with no training does in real life. More than a few people have been killed and maimed by the exact behaviors this guy demonstrates.

Some of the ones you’ll see here are:

  • Unsafe muzzle direction (lack of any muzzle awareness really – countless times. Roof, self, other lanes, etc)
  • Sweeping body/others if they were anywhere around him
  • Accidental discharge
  • Looking down the barrel
  • Finger on the trigger when not intending to fire (see 3rd one)
  • Not knowing how to make the weapon safe – both unloading or checking chambers
  • Not making the weapon safe before putting it down
  • Not knowing how to load the weapon or check if it’s loaded
  • Lack of respect for the weapon

Any one of these would get you kicked off of any weapons range or training course. That’s saying the people around you didn’t tackle you first due to the mortal danger in which you were putting yourself and everyone around you.

Tanya’s plan to avoid the fallacies of crunching and bad work habits

Tanya’s plan to avoid the fallacies of crunching and bad work habits

Tanya Short gave one of the best talks I’ve heard in a long time about the fallacies of crunching and bad work habits many people have. The video is now up for free at the GDCVault. Her talk starts at 6:00 :


When trying to hit deadlines, she starts out by observing that most of the time we think ‘getting X done’ is our highest priority. It’s not. It’s actually #3:

Your real priorities:

  1. Don’t burn out (i.e. don’t die)
  2. Always keep in mind you’re going to do another – and you should be excited to do the next one even better.
  3. Get it done

That sounds great, but it also sounds a bit idealistic. She says it is not easy, but lays out these points.

Step-by-step roadmap to not dying:

  1. Believe it is possible to hold those priorities in that order
    Many great studios work and ship games without crunch. It can be done, you just have to be disciplined.
  2. Stop working ‘all the time’. Set work hours.
    It is a fallacy to think working all the time is better. Especially in creative fields. Set work hours and stick to them.
  3. Prioritize your tasks and re-prioritize as often as needed.
    In order to hit your deadlines, you need to know what you’re working on RIGHT NOW is important, not just urgent. If you focus just on the ‘urgent’ emails/tasks/etc, then you’ll never get into the steady workflow that is what makes your work great.
  4. Estimate your tasks. Re-estimate when needed.
    When you finish your task, ask if it took the time you thought it would take. Get better at it.
  5. Cut the scope before you bleed out.
    If you’re 3 weeks out and realize you won’t make it, don’t immediately think about working more/harder/longer. 3 or more 60 hour weeks is scientifically less productive than 3 or more weeks of 40 hour weeks. You are doing worse work. Even if you think you are a special exception. Why can she say that? A study was done on 100 people that claimed they needed less than 7 hours of sleep. Only 5 out of the 100 could actually do it.
  6. Don’t give up – iterate steps 1-5 again and again
    These steps (production) is a skill. Skills can be developed. Skill development requires practice. So congratulate yourself when you do it pretty well, forgive and be kind to yourself when you don’t treat yourself as you deserve.
    We are primates. Primates need to be taken care of in a way computers and games don’t, so don’t act like that towards yourself. It’s not about how many hours you spend because everyone is different.

Other quotables:
A few long nights won’t kill you, but a few long months might. Especially if combined with other health and life factors.

Burnout is the feeling of being dulled as layer after layer of exhaustion accumulates. Burnout is the void left behind where your career could have been.

Then she has a real Benedictine moment: The moment right now will never come again. Every one of us will die. No matter what we create, all we have is right now. Don’t use up that joy, love, and creative energy you have by burning yourself out.

Keep death always before your eyes.
—St. Benedict: The Rules: Chapter 4.47

She doesn’t cite the studies, but I found some:


Free on your birthday

Free on your birthday

I’ve made other posts that have lists of cool free stuff you can get on your birthday, but this is a link to an updated one for 2017.


Make sure you sign up for this stuff BEFORE the month of your birthday. Many of them send out coupons good for the whole month, but if you aren’t signed up before midnight of the first day of the month, you’ll miss out.

Ryan Holiday “sex sells” is dead, long live “outrage sells”

Ryan Holiday “sex sells” is dead, long live “outrage sells”

How does that old adage go, “Sex sells”? I always wondered what would take its place. Now, I think we know. The new adage appears to be: “Outrage sells”.

In this excellent article, Ryan Holiday talks about how he created a marketing campaign in 2009 on a shoestring budget about a fictional internet blogger Tucker Max in order to promote an independent film. They then proceeded to troll the public and our institutions on their way to huge sales. They reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out college bus tours, and made millions in ticket, dvd, and book sales. Often using our public institutions and media against each other – all for publicity.

“But my favorite was the campaign in Chicago—the only major city where we could afford transit advertising. After placing a series of offensive ads on buses and the metro, from my office I alternated between calling in angry complaints to the Chicago CTA and sending angry emails to city officials with reporters cc’d, until ‘under pressure,’ they announced that they would be banning our advertisements and returning our money. Then we put out a press release denouncing this cowardly decision.

I’ve never seen so much publicity. It was madness.”

It all worked. Ryan Holiday published all the manipulation he did and how uncontrollably successful it was in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. He’s been approached by numerous people saying that this book is now ‘their bible’.

He describes his book thusly:

You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like me.

I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs-as much as any one person can. In today’s culture… Blogs like Gawker, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post drive the media agenda. Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see and watch-online and off. Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it.

He talks about how outrage can be leveraged with ruthless exactness:

Niche players and polarizing personalities are only ever going to be interesting to a small subgroup. While this might seem like a disadvantage, it’s actually a huge opportunity: Because it allows them to leverage the dismissals, anger, mockery, and contempt of the population at large as proof of their credibility. Someone like Milo or Mike Cernovich doesn’t care that you hate them—they like it. It’s proof to their followers that they are doing something subversive and meaningful. It gives their followers something to talk about. It imbues the whole movement with a sense of urgency and action—it creates purpose and meaning.

While many worried about “normalizing” their behavior, that’s the one thing they don’t want to happen. The key tactic of alternative or provocative figures is to leverage the size and platform of their “not-audience” (i.e. their haters in the mainstream) to attract attention and build an actual audience.

Let’s say 9 out of 10 people who hear something Milo says will find it repulsive and juvenile. But let’s say he can acquire massive amounts of negative publicity by pissing off people in the media? Well now all of a sudden someone is absorbing the cost of this inefficient form of marketing for him. If a CNN story reaches 100,000 people, that’s 90,000 people all patting themselves on the back for how smart and decent they are. They’re just missing the fact that the 10,000 new people that just heard about Milo for the first time. The same goes for when you angrily share on Facebook some godawful thing one of these people has said. The vast majority of your friends rush to agree, but your younger cousin has a dark switch in his brain go on for the first time.

His solution is an observation:

I realize there is legitimate fear of normalizing repulsive behavior. I’m not suggesting anyone give credence to real Nazi doctrine. However, historically, it’s usually true that banning and blocking usually has the opposite of its intended effect. Effective counterinsurgency usually involves bargaining, partnering and the reestablishment of norms—not hardlines.

In this, I think he’s hit the nail on the head. We must admit these things are out there. But instead of trying to silence them, ban them, shut them up, and break their windows – we must engage and defuse them. We may not like it, but other tactics only pour gas on the fire.

Personally, I think this is where a person could take a few notes on how God engaged with our broken humanity. I hear a fellow went out teaching this and they wrote a lot of that down in a book somewhere… 🙂

A few points to consider on that front:

  • The Christian always separates the infinite worth and beauty of the individual human person who is “created in the image of God” from their sin. This can be brutally hard at times – especially when that person wishes you real harm. This is how evil is disarmed. It is hard to hate others when someone sees the infinite beauty and possibility in you that they often do not see themselves. Hate is disarmed by love.
  • The cross is the center of the Christian life. It means dying to yourself to do what is best for others. As Louis CK said: The only time you should look at another’s bowl is to see if they have enough, not if you got your ‘fair’ share. It may require you to turn the other cheek. It might even cost your life as in the case of Christ.
  • A steadfast peace in your heart that comes from deep and daily relationship with God. With this relationship, cultivated in daily prayer and silence, you find something that can endure any trial and bring peace to any situation.
  • Trust in Christ that when you follow him in this wisdom, you will be taken care of. I have seen this many times in my own life and the life of my friends who have become priests. It may not be what you expect, but those that follow Christ are never abandoned.
  • Speaking only the truth. Without hyperbole, exaggeration, or outright lies. Let your ‘Yes’ mean yes, and your ‘No’ mean no. Anything else is from the evil one.
Set up VNC on Ubuntu 14.04

Set up VNC on Ubuntu 14.04

Setting up VNC on Ubuntu used to be pretty painless. But recent changes in Ubuntu and X have left it kind of a mess. It took me way longer to set up VNC than it should have, and finding the documentation wasn’t super-easy either. There were lots of broken guides. So, here’s what you need to do:

  • Follow these setup instructions first:
  • When completed, however, a known issue means the screen will come up blue-grey and have few desktop controls if you try to connect to it. This is because (near as I can tell) the X manager currently used for Ubuntu doesn’t work over VNC anymore. You need to set VNC up to use an older desktop manager that
  • To fix that problem, you need to fix things according to this guide:
  • On your client, start the vncserver and connect to it by matching the final digit of the port number to the :X number you used to create it.
    • Example:
      host: vncserver :4 –geometry 800×600 (to create the server)
      client should use the ip:
  • If you get an error starting the vncserver, increment the :2 to :3 or :4 and so forth until you find one not in use by some other user on the server.

OpenGL ES 2.0/3.0 Offscreen rendering with glRenderbuffer

OpenGL ES 2.0/3.0 Offscreen rendering with glRenderbuffer

Rendering to offscreen surfaces is a key component to any graphics pipeline. Post-processing effects, deferred rendering, and newer global illumination strategies all use it. Unfortunately, implementing offscreen rendering on OpenGL ES is not well documented. OpenGL ES is often used on embedded/mobile devices, and until recently, these devices haven’t typically had the graphics bandwidth to keep up with new rendering techniques. Compound this with the fact that many mobile games have simple gameplay/small screens that do not need such complex lighting models, many people now use off the shelf engines for their games, and that there is still a good amount of mobile hardware out there that doesn’t even support render to offscreen surfaces, and it is no surprise that few people use the technique and it’s not well discussed.

In implementing offscreen rendering for OpenGL ES, I turned to the very good OpenGL ES Programming book as it has a whole chapter on framebuffer objects. When I tried the samples in the book, however, I was having a lot of difficulty getting it working on my linux-based mobile device. A lot of the implementation examples use a technique of creating framebuffer objects using textures, but you can also use framebuffer objects via something called render buffers. One reason this is good to know is because many hardware vendors support very few render-to-texture formats. You can often find yourself struggling with your implementation not working because the output formats aren’t supported.

Thankfully, I found this article and thought I’d copy the information here since it’s the only place I’ve seen working code that demonstrated the technique. It also includes the very important step of reading the output format and uses glReadPixels() so you can validate that you were writing correctly to the offscreen renderbuffer surface.

In my case, on an Intel graphics part, I found that the format (which is also the most recommended one) that worked  was GL_RGB/GL_UNSIGNED_SHORT_5_6_5. Steps 1-8 is standard OpenGL ES setup code that is included so you can verify your setup. Step 9 is where the glFrameBuffer and glRenderBuffer objects are created.


    #define CONTEXT_ES20

    #ifdef CONTEXT_ES20
        EGLint ai32ContextAttribs[] = { EGL_CONTEXT_CLIENT_VERSION, 2, EGL_NONE };

    // Step 1 - Get the default display.
    EGLDisplay eglDisplay = eglGetDisplay((EGLNativeDisplayType)0);

    // Step 2 - Initialize EGL.
    eglInitialize(eglDisplay, 0, 0);

    #ifdef CONTEXT_ES20
    // Step 3 - Make OpenGL ES the current API.

    // Step 4 - Specify the required configuration attributes.
    EGLint pi32ConfigAttribs[5];
    pi32ConfigAttribs[0] = EGL_SURFACE_TYPE;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[1] = EGL_WINDOW_BIT;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[2] = EGL_RENDERABLE_TYPE;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[3] = EGL_OPENGL_ES2_BIT;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[4] = EGL_NONE;
    EGLint pi32ConfigAttribs[3];
    pi32ConfigAttribs[0] = EGL_SURFACE_TYPE;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[1] = EGL_WINDOW_BIT;
    pi32ConfigAttribs[2] = EGL_NONE;

    // Step 5 - Find a config that matches all requirements.
    int iConfigs;
    EGLConfig eglConfig;
    eglChooseConfig(eglDisplay, pi32ConfigAttribs, &eglConfig, 1,

    if (iConfigs != 1) {
        printf("Error: eglChooseConfig(): config not found.n");

    // Step 6 - Create a surface to draw to.
    EGLSurface eglSurface;
    eglSurface = eglCreateWindowSurface(eglDisplay, eglConfig,
                                  (EGLNativeWindowType)NULL, NULL);

    // Step 7 - Create a context.
    EGLContext eglContext;
    #ifdef CONTEXT_ES20
        eglContext = eglCreateContext(eglDisplay, eglConfig, NULL,
        eglContext = eglCreateContext(eglDisplay, eglConfig, NULL, NULL);

    // Step 8 - Bind the context to the current thread
    eglMakeCurrent(eglDisplay, eglSurface, eglSurface, eglContext);
    // end of standard gl context setup

    // Step 9 - create framebuffer object
    GLuint fboId = 0;
    GLuint renderBufferWidth = 1280;
    GLuint renderBufferHeight = 720;

    // create a framebuffer object
    glGenFramebuffers(1, &fboId);
    glBindFramebuffer(GL_FRAMEBUFFER, fboId);

    // create a texture object
    // note that this is commented out/not used in this case but is
    // included for completeness/as example
    /*  GLuint textureId;
     glGenTextures(1, &textureId);
     glBindTexture(GL_TEXTURE_2D, textureId);
     glTexParameterf(GL_TEXTURE_2D, GL_TEXTURE_MIN_FILTER, GL_LINEAR);                             
     glTexParameteri(GL_TEXTURE_2D, GL_GENERATE_MIPMAP_HINT, GL_TRUE); // automatic mipmap
     glTexImage2D(GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0, GL_RGB, renderBufferWidth, renderBufferHeight, 0,
                  GL_RGB, GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE, 0);
     glBindTexture(GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0);
     // attach the texture to FBO color attachment point
                         GL_TEXTURE_2D, textureId, 0);
     qDebug() << glGetError();
     GLuint renderBuffer;
     glGenRenderbuffers(1, &renderBuffer);
     glBindRenderbuffer(GL_RENDERBUFFER, renderBuffer);
     qDebug() << glGetError();
     qDebug() << glGetError();

      qDebug() << glGetError();
      GLuint depthRenderbuffer;
      glGenRenderbuffers(1, &depthRenderbuffer);
      glBindRenderbuffer(GL_RENDERBUFFER, depthRenderbuffer);
      glRenderbufferStorage(GL_RENDERBUFFER, GL_DEPTH_COMPONENT16,     renderBufferWidth, renderBufferHeight);
      glFramebufferRenderbuffer(GL_FRAMEBUFFER, GL_DEPTH_ATTACHMENT, GL_RENDERBUFFER, depthRenderbuffer);

      // check FBO status
      GLenum status = glCheckFramebufferStatus(GL_FRAMEBUFFER);
      if(status != GL_FRAMEBUFFER_COMPLETE) {
          printf("Problem with OpenGL framebuffer after specifying color render buffer: n%xn", status);
      } else {
          printf("FBO creation succeddedn");

  // check the output format
  // This is critical to knowing what surface format just got created
  // ES only supports 5-6-5 and other limited formats and the driver
  // might have picked another format
  GLint format = 0, type = 0;

  // clear the offscreen buffer

  // commit the clear to the offscreen surface
  eglSwapBuffers(eglDisplay, eglSurface);

  // You should put your own calculation code here based on format/type
  // you discovered above
  int size = 2 * renderBufferHeight * renderBufferWidth;
  unsigned char *data = new unsigned char[size];
  printf("size %d", size);

  // in my case, I got back a buffer that was RGB565
  glReadPixels(0,0,renderBufferWidth,renderBufferHeight,GL_RGB, GL_RGB565, data);

  // Check output buffer to make sure you cleared it properly.
  // In 5-6-5 format, clearing to clearcolor=(1, 0, 1, 1)
  // you get 1111100000011111b = 0xF81F in hex
  if( (data[0] != 0x1F) || (data[1] != 0xF8))
      printf("Error rendering to offscreen buffern");

  QImage image(data2, renderBufferWidth,  renderBufferHeight,renderBufferWidth*2, QImage::Format_RGB16);
A lost opportunity

A lost opportunity

I put this question to you when you are fearful of letting in the foreigner, immigrant, or refugee. Is it violence or the faith of one person or family you fear – or is it more that you are afraid your charity, compassion, or love are not up to the task of touching the heart of a stranger? Perhaps you lack faith that God is powerful enough to use your life and example to touch the hearts of even those that might wish you harm? Or perhaps you’re afraid of your own laziness or unwillingness to let Him use you at all – for fear of what it will cost you? Are you too prideful to turn the other cheek if you do find yourself struck for doing what is right for another?

These words accused me as I reflected on Pope Francis’ request every parish in Europe (but really is a call to all countries) to open their doors to shelter at least 1 refugee family. (http://wgntv.com/2015/09/06/pope-francis-encourages-catholics-to-shelter-refugees/) This call was picked up by some but was also ignored and even denounced by others.

I realize now how much of a lost opportunity this has been. Even if you are not of a faith background. Why? Several reasons.

In traveling the world,I have learned that our governments may be very opposed, but the daily people you meet rarely are. Even old enemies are best won over in 1 to 1 interactions. There are countless stories in which a simple act of kindness have created bonds of friendship during WW 2 that last to this day. I personally have made friends in countries that were once our enemies by simple, daily acts of respect and compassion. That has helped me realize the power each of us has in the smallest acts and that they are often more powerful than all the laws of governments.

Isolation affects the host countries too. Without contact to others of different backgrounds we become increasingly afraid of our ability to connect. Both sides become easy targets for those leaders that wish to scapegoat and blame others for problems.

The Pope’s call to host a family was also wise because it does not throw all these new arrivals into one large camp or neighborhood. On a practical level, even if those we bring over turn out to disagree with our culture, our 1 on 1 interactions can change hearts and minds.By having each member in a loving, supportive community – they can integrate faster and learn the truth of who we are. It also ‘breaks up’ groups that suffer from poverty, joblessness, and fear. Some of the Paris attackers appear to have been radicalized after they arrived as they were isolated in small districts without jobs, legal status, or much hope in a foreign land with strange customs. So instead of concentrating refugees into neighborhoods and camps that fester, in a holding pattern of government bureaucracy, they are introduced into a welcoming community that helps them do what we all want to do: be independent and feel proud of themselves and their work.

Instead, we have erected walls. Walls that separate these individual acts of kindness and relationship from reaching each other. Further, what is a person that is facing death every day to think of a people who live in extravagance and luxuriously – who do not lift a finger to help them? Perhaps they even claim to follow a loving God who helps the foreigner, the orphan, and widow? I do not think it would not make me think very highly of them. As a believer, it makes me a hypocrite.

Jim Rohn is famous for his quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”. Psychologists would clarify a bit and say our peer groups are some of the most powerful influences in our lives. If we surround those in these desperate straits, even those who feel on the verge of radicalizing,with love, compassion, and respect, we can change hearts and minds more than laws likely ever will.

So lets follow our call to action. Go and encounter the refugee and the foreigner. It is not enough to let them in and stuff them in a corner and ignore them under a burden of red tape that simply radicalize them. We must risk a relationship. We must trust that Christ is powerful enough to use us – and then through humility, struggles, and learning to adapt – we must be willing to let go and let Him guide us.


Portland woman gets snake stuck in her earlobe

Portland woman gets snake stuck in her earlobe

Yet another reason for your 17-year old goth kid to not to get gauge piercings and a ball python at the same time.

Bart was hanging out on her shoulders when Glawe thought he started attacking her head. “I like froze instantly,” she told CNN. The snake wasn’t attacking but “pythons just like hiding in holes.”
She tried to get him out by herself but couldn’t. So she said the fire department came. The fire department was unable to remove BART so instead, Glawe said she went to the emergency room, where doctors numbed her ear and lubed her and Bart up and were able to get the snake out of the hole.