Updates and random thoughts

Heh, had a plan for an update schedule for this site… guess plans and this site don’t go along together that well.

So what’s been up with me? At a recent department meeting I was acknowledged by the leads of my department for doing a good job. To which my general response has been “I saw something to do, did it, kept doing it, and no one told me to stop”. The recognition came with a nice dinner with the leads and the other guy that was recognized. Other than that work has been largely the same with new faces showing up (Sometimes for not very long unfortunately) and some older faces leaving. I am getting trained in the next part of the job: Packaging. And it is repetitive, with the exact same physical movements over and over again. But at least during packaging I can chat with people more, look for the pluses.

Where is my programming work at? Just finished some contracting work for which I was writing add-ins for PowerPoint. These Add-ins did several things such as, find and replace specified Tags, and fixed bugs with headers and footers between versions of powerpoint. And right now I am working on another project.

Hopefully I will make these posts more often from now on, but we all know how that promise went in the past. So see you when I see you.

People in the Service Industries

Can’t remember If I have stated it here but I got a job with Channel Fireball in order fulfilment. As a result I have gotten a slightly different view on the service industry. One of the common thoughts about the people in the service industry is that “anyone could do that job.” While this is true physically (In most cases, disabilities can make certain ones harder) it is not true mentally.

Let me explain. In my job I retrieve an order and then go around a warehouse room collecting the cards on the order. And while certain types of orders can be slightly more complex than that I did just sum up 75% of my current job. Sounds easy right? But could you do that for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? The job gets very repetitive. This is part of the reason my coworkers and I have conversations during the day or listen to music/podcasts, to break up the monotony. But some people just can’t seem to do this job. For some it is the monotony, for some they don’t mesh with the culture of the workplace, and for still others they lose interest in the job because they just don’t click with the job.

And all of this is without any direct customer interaction. Having to deal with sometimes unreasonable, stuck up, hostile, confused, or just delusional customers adds a whole nother dimension that I am  happy that I don’t (at least yet) have to deal with. I am sure some customers are a joy to interact with, but it does add another difficulty in the job.

So the next time you look at someone and think “Anyone could do that job.” imagine yourself doing that job. Imagine that doing that job would give you a living wage. If you would rather do a different job then you just disproved your assumption. Not everyone is mentally equipped to do these types of jobs.

Making Code Behave

What a lot of people who don’t code don’t realize is that only a small part of the code is actually doing the work, most of the code is checking to see that the code is working/the user didn’t mess things up, and the rest is comments to remind yourself and others how it works.

That being said it is also very nice to be in this situation: I have problem A and a related problem B. I know how to deal with problem A but need clarification on problem B. *Works on Problem A and finds solution* Oh so that is problem B…. the solution to problem A already fixes that.

An Explanation

How long has it been since I…. Oh…. Oh….. That long. “Daily posting” just won’t work.

The reason is that I have a bit of a “tripping down the stairs” problem with the “daily post” plan. For those that are not aware of that problem it goes something like this: I forget to write a post on day, or I have nothing to write about, or I plan on one and then get distracted and never get back to it. Then when I think to do another post and remember not making posts the previous days in my “daily posts” plan I don’t make a post that day out of embarrassment/guilt/panic, and so the problem is compounded.

So this time no strict schedule, a bit of behind the scene planning, and trying to be a bit looser about my topics, will hopefully allow me to do weekly posts. Maybe not on the same day each week (not at first at least) but weekly I hope.

Where Have I Been?

Been a while since I posted here. How long was it….. Ooookay that is too long.

So here’s a bit of an update on where I am. I got a job! Not a game design job but a job nonetheless. I am working at the Channel Fireball warehouse in the fulfilment department pulling card orders. For those of you that don’t know Channel Fireball sells Magic: the Gathering cards in both sealed product and single cards.

This is not to say I have stopped looking for a game design job, I am still applying everywhere and sharpening my skills. But I needed a job to get me off my but and motivate me, the paycheck is nice too.

Getting Back to Unity

Neo / Ipsum for Excel is almost ready for release, it should be ready latter tonight or early tomorrow morning along with a little surprise (I hope).

While I wait for final testing to get back to me with the ok I have gone back to working in Unity. Its been a while and most of the UI has changed. As part of getting back in to the swing of Unity development I decided run through some of the tutorials on the Unity website, and I am learning and re-learning a few things.

For most of the games I have made player movement was handled by waiting for WASD movement inputs and then applying the appropriate force or transform effect. In this first tutorial it used Input.GetAxis commands to determine what the input is for any given controller and use that to apply force. this has a few limitations but is much more flexible than the method I previously used most often.

Also I had decided I would make a quick rotation script to rotate the scene’s directional light, that should only take a minute right? 15 minutes, and three different methods latter I figure out that my script is working exactly the way it is supposed to but is rotating on the local axis. Because I wanted to rotate the Y axis and had already rotated the X axis this caused some silly effects. I solved this by making an empty game object, putting it in the same position as the light, setting it’s rotation to 0, 0, 0, and putting the script on that game object.

The rotation thing is something I have to relearn every time I try to do anything with rotation because of the way rotational math works (in short it seems to have an extra dimension and otherwise everything says “don’t touch unless you know what you are doing”).

Mass Update!

Whoops! Didn’t mean to go this long without an update. So what am I doing now? For the last month or so I have been working on the last part of Neo / Ipsum. Thats right Neo / Ipsum for Excel!

Neo-Banner-Excel

So what the hell does Neo / Ipsum for Excel do? Based on my last to versions you might expect it to just put random phrases in to a grid. But that wouldn’t be all that useful, and instead it makes a table of data with the Ipsums being one of the labels and the other label being a number (Integer, date, or time). The data is randomized with several options for the user to choose from for customization.

While making Neo / Ipsum I have, as my dad puts it, learned to swear like a programmer. But the frustrations I had with PowerPoint and Word don’t compare to the frustrations with Excel. At least with PowerPoint and Word all my problems were based on the coding and not the tools I use to code. Excel fought with me to even write code in it. And if I hadn’t done the programing in the other two first I would have been lost with some of the problems I faced with Excel.

In addition I have been working on an update for all of the Neo / Ipsums. The update will allow Neo / Ipsum to remember the last set of options you had selected for use. This way if you like to use a specific setting you won’t have to reselect it every time. This feature is working in the Excel version but still requires more testing before putting it in to the live versions of Neo / Ipsum.

Giant Update

It has been far too long since I updated this….. oops.

Well I started a new project to build on my Macro work: Neo Ipsum!

Neo Ipsum is an Add-in that checks a presentation for empty placeholders and adds Lorem Ipsum Text. It also has a few variants for the Lorem Ipsums.

So what is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is Latin text placed in a presentation to simulate a filled presentation without having actual data to fill it with. This allows for a presenter to show what the presentation will look like without the audience being distracted by what is written in the presentation.

 

So what’s new for the project? I HAVE BETA! The Beta version is up and has been sent to a select group of people for testing.

Assuming the testers don’t find anything that requires major work I should have the full version one in a few weeks.

PowerPoint Macro Development

One week in to learning to make PowerPoint Macros I feel I have learned a lot. First I decided to start development in PowerPoint itself as my development environment. I came to this decision after two fruitless days of trying to get Visual Studio to work. I have learned that PowerPoint itself is a fine development environment for Macros.

Most of what I have done so far is very basic stuff such as deleting all the empty text boxes in a presentation, adding slides with layouts and text, adding text-boxes with text, and adding text to existing text-boxes. Now I am working on a dialog window that will ask the user what slide they want a new Text box on and then place that text box.

Starting Power Point Add-ins: Development Space

The first step when figuring out a new programming language or method is usually to make a “hello world” type program and confirm it is working. Next you add in some more complex features until you are comfortable and can move on to real development.

I have often made the mistake of skipping this step. But this time I am not going to make that mistake… assuming I can get the development space to work. Specifically Visual Studio. I can’t seam to figure out how to get it to make a project for Microsoft Office applications. I have a few avenues of exploration to try and failing those I have an excellent mentor or two that can help me. I just was hoping I would need the help in the learning to run stage not the learning what my hands are stage.