Showing posts from 2013

And so this is christmas...

This last week was a fun one. We celebrated Christmas and spent a lot of time together. I got Wednesday off, and a half day off on Tuesday.

Christmas eve was beautiful weather so we decided to walk to the school playground and play a bit. Sara put on her new snow pants (which were technically an unopened Christmas gift, but she didn't seem to notice that when she opened them up the next day) which made the trip last all the longer, and made it more fun. Rea wants to go sledding some time. We need to get a sled first.

On Christmas day, after celebrating the birth of Christ in the morning, we got together as a family (with all of the Brown side) and spent time together. We shot guns (which was more fun than I expected), ate food, and played some games. We played 'Two Rooms and a Boom', 'Resistance', and 'Bang: Wild West Show'. They all were fun.

I have been working on my Dancing Robots AI recently, and it now beats me fairly often (it still isn't perfect,…


This past week mostly consisted of preparing for Christmas and working on my Dancing Robots game.

I have been fooling around with card art and working on the AI for the web version of the game at the same time. This ends up being more distracting than useful since I really like to just work on one thing at a time, so I always forget to actually work on both.

The image to the right is a mock up of what an actual card could look like. The art for the actual claw was provided by Dave. I just composed the piece, put in the backgrounds, and provided the relevant game texts.

The AI changes mostly consist of trying to keep the AI from dancing dances that could never actually work in practice (the AI has a really good ability to build a robot that could theoretically dance a set of moves, but in practice is unable to (such as dancing a set of moves that all require the same piece of equipment (which happens to be a one time use item.)))

On Saturday Andrea helped us to clean up the entire hous…

The week of Ill health

I have been meaning to write up a post for a while, but I have not been feeling too well. Fortunately Alison has been feeling a bit better, so we are making it through.

The girls are as cute as ever, and really feeling ready for Christmas.

I have also been writing up a neural network to help out my dancing robots AI.

I will post a larger, Christmas card type post next week - hopefully that will make up for this post :)

Yo ho, yo ho, the frisky goat

This past week we recovered from our vacation and got our goats back.
Alison read that being pregnant is likely to make goats quieter, but Lala is as noisy as ever (if not noisier). The chickens were all scared of the snow until the goats came back and started frisking about in it. They are now cautiously pecking around a bit.
They all seem to be doing well despite the cold weather.
I have been working on my Moar Moai game as well as Roguelike and Dancing Robots over the past week. For those of you who missed the switch over, I talk a lot more about them in my other blog (which you can follow in google+ or email just like you can follow this one).
Yesterday and Saturday we set up the Christmas tree. The girls were really happy to play with the ornaments. Rea found a candy cane and shared it with Sara. They were both such a mess. I have no idea why anyone invented candy canes. They both loved it. Sara called it a candy bar, and was asking for candy bars the entire day.
We also had a f…

Return from California

We got home from California at 3:00 am Sunday morning. We still made it to church, but we didn't make it before the opening prayer.

In California we had a fun relaxing time (though the girls were sick most of the time). Andrea was throwing up and Sara was congested). For those who don't already know: Alison is pregnant.

We went to Sea World a total of 3 times. It was very popular with Max and the girls. Sara's favorite thing was the penguins. She would sit and watch them swimming around and say to them "Hi Penguin!" I realize that I probably should have been taking pictures or things like that, but for some reason I didn't

Rea seemed to like the cetaceans the best, though the sea turtles were also pretty popular. The coolest part for me was the shark tunnel. They had a glass tunnel that ran through a shark tank, and it was cool to see the sharks swimming all around you. Alison liked the dolphin show the best (I have to admit, they did do some impressive trick…

Cannot open database

I was just working on a SQL rollback script verification tool when I got the following error:

System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException: Cannot open database <database> requested by the login. The login failed.Login failed for user <user>

the usual reason for this is a bad connection string, or a user that doesn't have permissions, but in my case it was that I was trying to create a new db file (to run the scripts against), and the directory did not exist in which I was trying to make my file.

Creating the directory was enough to get it to work.

Jungle Book: The Wrath of Shere Khan

This whole last week it feels like we have been preparing for our trip to California. I worked a bit on my games, and read a bit, but mostly we have been packing and cleaning and such.
On Wednesday Alison took the girls to the wilderness with Max. Max wanted to play Jungle Book: The Wrath of Shere Khan, and Rea wanted to play Jungle Book: Friendship is Magic. They decided instead to compromise and play Jungle Book: the Power of God. Max was Shere Khan and Rea was Baloo. When Max wanted to pretend to fight Rea said that because she was nice she was stronger than Shere Khan since she had the Power of God.
Saturday morning we begun to do a final cleaning of the house before we left. Andrea was offered money if she helped (a quarter a room.) She ended up earning over a dollar and very much enjoying herself.
Saturday evening we had our brown family dinner, which didn't involve any game playing, but was pretty fun anyway. The best part was not having a long drive to go home (which, wit…


Rea and Sara have been on a midnight joke telling rampage. They stay up super late talking and laughing. Eventually Rea complains that Sara is out of her bed, and we have to tell them that they have to be quiet and go to bed. Hopefully this passes.

Rea has also been drawing lots of pictures recently. She usually gets eyes, a head, and any important limbs (though her spiders have way too many legs). She loves drawing owls, bats, spiders, worms, snakes, trees, seeds and eggs.

Rea has also begun to enjoy playing bats. She names us, and then we eat food and hang upside down from the monkey bars. If we are fruit bats the names are things like fruity, eaty, and batty. If we are vampire bats the names tend to be bloody, drinky, and batty (batty being the default bat name).

Grandma Poulson took Rea away to do some shopping with her, and when Rea left Sara forced mommy to walk with her down the street to smell the roses. Sara is learning so many things, especially how to express herself.


I Complain of Tibbs!

This week I worked more on my MOAR MOAI game. I played a four player game at lunch yesterday and it was very good. I have to change the rules again.

I am also working on a single player/multi player cooperative game entitled 'Roguelike'. It is not really ready at all, but I am still working on it.

Aunt Katie is visiting us this week. Mostly that means that the girls' play room is also her bedroom. Apparently when you are training to be a teacher you have to teach students some time.

We have been recently reading Peter Pan (That is, Alison and I have been). It is very funny. Way better than the Disney version.

I also read 'The Cyborg and the Sorcerers' a few nights ago. It is a short book about a cat. Ha ha! it is really exactly what it says on the cover. It was fun because I like books where people have to figure out loopholes in rules systems. One such situation was when he was talking to a computer that believed him to be dead and he said "Is there anything …

Moar butter pleez

I just started working on a new game about Easter Island. As I was playing a solo game (testing it out) Andrea asked to join in. I explained to her the general concept (these are your guys, they can get food and cut down trees and dig up rocks. you can only get these fish because they are closer to the island, and these ones are in the deep water.) After my explanation she said:

"This guy will get fish and this guy will make bacon, and this guy will cut down a tree to make a canoe."

I hadn't told her that there were canoes in the game, but apparently that was the reason for cutting down trees in her book. She is very smart. She also knew that killing a pig got you bacon.

We also played a game of chess this weekend. As we were playing I told her that knights could defend 8 squares, and she started trying to set up chains of knights defending each other.

Later during the game I explained to her how pawns advance and promote, and she decided that her pawns were going to gro…

The 1AM post

It is eleven fifty eight pm and Sara just woke me up. She was laying in the floor of the sleep room crying. I put her back in bed and patted her back. She seemed to be thirsty so I got her some water. Hopefully that is all she will need tonight. (It wasn't... she woke up three more times so far)

We had the primary program today (which Alison was in charge of). It went well. Andrea really wanted to be up there with the big kids. We told her that she would be up there next year.

It is amazing how they grow. Sara has been following Andrea around and doing whatever Andrea does (including dancing during their favorite song during the program today).

This weekend we went to a Halloween party that a ward member put on, Rea wanted to read all of their books, so that is what we mostly did.

I ordered a copy of Puerto Rico, which arrived on Thursday. Alison and I played it that night. It was am interesting game, but if I make my Easter island game that I have been thinking of it will not be …

Mohawk Time

Early last week we got some more chickens from an add on KSL. They are mostly larger than our old chickens (except for the americana, who is about the same size.) We ended up with 9 chickens (which is over our legal maximum), so we had to send some to the chopping block.

Slaughtering chickens is not particularly terrible, but removing the guts was pretty gross. Additionally, when they say that you should let the meat age so that it is not tough and hard to eat they are not joking.

At least they were not as terrible as the chickens that we had to eat on my mission (for those who don't remember, my companion had a bright idea which ended with the health department forcing us to eat some chickens on the spot).

The new chickens are surprisingly different from our old ones. for one thing they like to roost. All of our old chickens didn't much care to roost, but the new ones love it. I found them all roosting on the wall to the compost heap the first night that we had them. This wee…

Shaggy Manes

I haven't worked much on dancing robots over the last few days. I am mostly waiting for artwork and working on a new Mandelbrot Set Viewer (I am planning on using functional programming techniques for it).

We celebrated Andrea's birthday last Tuesday. Her favorite gifts as far as I can tell are some art supplies that she got. She is painting everything. Fortunately we have wood floors, so the only real casualty has been a white towel.

Ever since she has turned three we have noticed that she has been acting the same as she was acting a week ago (I fooled you with that one, didn't I?) She is still a happy, energetic girl. We took her to the zoo on Saturday (which she always enjoys). The otter statue was the favorite this time.

They also enjoyed the elephants and the giraffes like they always do.

Grandpa Poulson rode with Andrea on the merry go round. Sara was jealous.

On Sunday Rea made up a song (during sacrament meeting)

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes everywhere:
tomatoes on…

The Rules of Sleep

Over the weekend Dave got me some artwork for Dancing Robots. It was way more polished than I was originally envisioning, but I am definitely happy with how it ended up. I spent a lot of time working on making a robot with stolen artwork dance around the screen. Andrea and Sara both enjoyed watching me work on that.
I actually have some balance changes to make, and some updating to do to the rules (though I haven't been working on them with all of the other stuff that I have been doing.)
We watched general conference over the weekend. It was very good. I look forward to listening to it repeatedly over the rest of the year. I was fairly surprised with Elder Perry's talk. I think of him as always talking about missionary work, but perhaps that was just me.
While at general conference we played The Resistance quite a few times. The spies never lost a game, but that was likely because we didn't have all the cards (just the base game). I am considering buying the game, but I h…

I like green jelly!

Sara was extremely fussy last night. She kept waking up and crying. Either she is getting new teeth (which she seems to get in droves (which would explain the amount that she seemed to have been affected by it)), or her mild appearing diaper rash (which doesn't seem that bad) is bothering her. This morning I picked her up and brought her into the bed. Alison talked to her.

"Is your bum hurting?"
"does your bum say 'ouch'"
Sara sat there a while thinking and then said "tombé" (which means 'fallen' in french (and which we use whenever she falls and gets hurt)) in an explanatory sort of voice.

She has been so talkative lately. Mostly it is babbling, but she also mimics a lot and says real words too.

Rea is also improving her ability to talk. Yesterday Alison was changing Sara's diaper and Rea said "Rea is doing something very kind.  Rea is aiding mommy in dealing with the poopy couche" (co…

Sometimes it's Easy

This week I have been working on making my dancing robots website easier for first time players. I had a lot of people try the game out, but very few gave me any feedback. I have tried to make the game easier for random people to play. If you have tried the game before, but were scared off by a bad interface, please try it again and tell me if it is any better.

The remainder of the blog post was written by Alison (because she was ending her nap and didn't want to get up so I asked her to write something for me.)

Sara has rediscovered our doll stroller and is pushing it everywhere.  Today she fell down while pushing it with a load of toothbrushes and started crying.  Mike went to her sympathetically, bent down to cuddle her, and gave her a big zerbert on the armpit.  She laughed and laughed, and when he asked, "Do you feel better?" she answered, "Better!"  So that seems to be the way to cheer her up.

Mike gets money from his work if he exercises every day, and w…

Oysters are creatures without any features

Today marks the fourth birthday of our family. We have celebrated as is fitting by making quesadillas and drinking carbonated apple juice. We also dropped the kids off at the Poulsons house for a romantic overnight getaway.

I have made posts about my Dancing robots game on both and bay12games, and have not really gotten a good response from either. I am apparently not a very good salesman. All I am asking is that some people play the game and tell me how it went. I suppose that it isn't very important in the long run, but it is a bit discouraging. I would honestly prefer people to play the game and tell me that it sucks to not even reading my post.
With all of the recent rain mushrooms have been cropping up all over the neighborhood. I found eight or so field mushrooms, multiple rings of scotch bonnets in various yards, dozens of mica caps (even a few in some rock gardens), some inedible shelf mushrooms (which I can't remember the name of, but were in my own b…

Windows Azure

Andrea believes Mickey Mouse to be a bear. We have not disabused her of this notion because it is not really important.

It has been raining on and off since last night. There is one tree stump on our road that is infested with some type of mushroom (my initial inspection would seem to indicate that they are the same deliquescent mushrooms that are growing in our front yard (you know, the ones that are impossible to pick at the right time because they become inedible hours after they have sprung up.)) We have been enjoying the rain. If it rained all of the time Utah would be much higher on my list of nicest places to live.

Rea has wanted to go to the elementary school playground a lot recently. She loves playing on the play equipment. Alison has decided that Rea needs to make goals for herself, so Rea has decided that she wants to learn how to run all the way to the school before the end of the month. So far she can run about half the way there. We told her that when she met her goal s…

Scary Pig and No Kisses for a Week

This week Alison took the girls to the zoo to visit with grandma Poulson. They stayed for five hours and Sara said a lot of animal names while they were there. Rea overcame some of her fear of talking to complete strangers and asked questions to the zoo attendants about various animals. The elephants were the most popular animal, but the giraffes were a close second.

I have recently been thinking about setting up my Dancing Robots website to run on a Windows Azure server. This might allow me to scale it up if the thing ever becomes popular, but I haven't decided for sure if I want to figure it all out.

I have been having a lot of people test out my site. I am really feeling like I am getting close to releasing it to the public. All I have to do is to kill down the bugs a bit and hold it stable for a week or so without finding any new bugs.

We played a 5 player game on Sunday (which is the max that is playable with a normal deck, but I decided to make the computer play with a doubl…

Jay Walking De Vil

The Dancing Robots website is still being improved pretty much every day. Here is a link to it for those who have not looked at it. I would be especially appreciative of any people who are willing to play it and tell me what they thought about the interface. If anyone is interested, tell me when you will be online and we can play a game. Alternatively you can play against a mediocre AI which I have programmed.

I am currently negotiating the commission of temporary artwork for my Dancing Robots cards. If the artwork turns out really good, I might try to use it for the final cards, but my current goal is to quiet the complaints of some of my more visually oriented playtesters/QA coworkers.

This Friday we went to 'Charlie's Aunt' at the Off Broadway Theatre. It was hilarious. If you are in the Salt Lake area and want to have a cheap, fun date I would highly recommend it. I especially liked the performance of the butler and Lord Fancourt Babberley (AKA Charlie's Aunt from …

Not a turtle

It was a pretty low key week this week.

I playtested with people from my work on Thursday. After the game was over I decided upon a few rules changes and gui changes to make to the game. Once they are done I will try another playtest and probably make more changes.

Earlier this week Rea told me "Daddy, there is more to life than cuddles". I suppose that all of us have been wrong at some time in our lives.

Alison and I caught up on Girl Genius again. (For the uninitiated it is a webcomic that is about "Adventure, Romance, and Mad Science!") It seems to be best to read it in spurts since the story doesn't seem to move along all that fast. It seems possible that Agatha's second love interest is actually dead (which is obviously not true since one of the key plot points is that she has to decide between her two suitors, and that is never going to change).

Perhaps soon we will catch up on Darths and Droids again.

On Saturday we installed ceiling fans in our kitc…

I don't want to be macaroni

I have been working on my dancing robots game more this week. I am about to start making some 'final' gui changes (final only inasmuch as no new people play the game and point out flaws in the presentation). If i finish the changes to the gui and fail to drum up more players I will probably start to modify the rules to make the game more difficult (not more complex, just more difficult (so that the ultimate dance is really hard to perform and that you don't accidentally set up robots that can dance 90% of the dances))
Sara is really starting to talk a lot. She is figuring out more words every day (She still doesn't say multiple word sentences, but that will come with time) She often will walk up to you and say 'hi!' with a happy intonation, and then say 'up', or 'cuddle', or 'milk' or whatever she wants.
We have finally replaced her raspberry sound which she used to make after drinking beverages with an 'ahh' sound (which is not…

The fake taste of good eating

A new version of dancing robots is online. I  have slightly improved the gui, and killed a lot of bugs. Anyone interested in playing is invited to. Also, log some bugs if you notice them.

I introduced my coworkers to Dominion Monday over lunch. We have been playing the game every lunch since then. I always did enjoy dominion, so it is a fun thing. I haven't been working on dancing robots over lunch, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Andrea has been really enjoying a book called 'The Char Siu Bao Boy' (which roughly translates to 'The Barbecue Pork Bun Boy') recently, so as a celebration of our Chinese heritage we made some bao for dinner Saturday night. (We called them Char Siu Bao, but they were really not stuffed with Char Siu (Barbecue Pork)). We looked online until we found a recipe for the same type of bao that 551 Horai makes (for those who don't remember, 551 Horai encourages their customers to 'Enjoy the real taste of good eating'.) We …

Goose biscuits

This week I worked a bit more on my Dancing Robots website. The multi-player is working fairly well, but the site still has some bugs, and the user interface could definitely use some work. I need an interaction designer to look at it and come up with something to do to fix it.

Now that I am able to play so many games of dancing robots, I am starting to think that the game is a bit too easy. I will have to make it harder by decreasing the amount of electricity provided, or perhaps increasing the size of the parts.

Both of the girls are learning things every day. Rea wrote both her name and the word cat this week. Sara is walking all over the place now that she is able to. She still loves taking things out of and putting things into various containers and considers that to be the best game to play.

As I type this post, Alison just asked her to put a wet diaper into the diaper pail and she picked it up and walked over, putting it into the pail.

At the di the other day I saw a rack mount…

On delequescence, the Big Cheese Scare, and drafting radiators

A few weeks ago I discovered the cheese fridge had been turned off. I feared the worst (remembering the great cheese dying of a few years back I assumed that all of the cheese had been destroyed.) I immediately moved the cheeses to the big fridge and began watching them for signs of spoilage. I finished watching them this week and decided that all of them survived the event admirably. We opened all of them and rewaxed them just to make sure. We even began eating a derby (which tasted fine (although it was more mesophilic than I like (swee is the one who likes mesophilic tasting cheeses))).

Sara is a year old now. Alison is trying to wean her, but Sara wants none of that (or all of that as it were). We are giving her goat milk (which she spills all over the place), and she is pretty fussy.

We discovered that she is dual teething right now (so now she has 4 teeth). If this keeps up she will have 8 teeth next week, and by the end of the year she will have over 33 million teeth (33,554,43…

8 Steps

I am told that Sara just took 8 steps today.

Prediction fulfilled.


The Poulson family curse

I have been working on my Dancing Robots website a lot this past week. It is now capable of playing a game against up to 5 computers, and it uses web sockets for a persistent connection to client. The game is set up in such a way that multi-player should not be too hard to implement. I can't make any promises, but perhaps by next week it will be possible (and if it becomes so, I will have to play against many people to test it out). Read the rules and give it a try. If you find any bugs, make a comment on the bug spreadsheet, and I will get working on it. I am also open to comments about the visual appearance of the site, so all you graphic designers/artists can chime in as well.

Friday we watched Max, and we made pizza. Alison made a very Buddhist request of me:

"Make me one with everything"

It didn't end up with everything, but it did have 4 cheeses, three meats, and two veggies.

On Saturday we made a Parmesan and a bunch of Ricotta. It all seemed to go well (I gue…

Play Dancing Robots Online

I have decided to host my Dancing Robots website at

If you visit it, you can test out how the game is coming along. It is still in a very early beta stage, and should not be considered to be production worthy in any way.

If you are interested in testing it out, feel free to. Additionally, contact me with any bugs that you find (If you look, I am sure that you will find bugs.)

Disclaimer:  The website is up for demonstration purposes only, and should not be considered to be a real website (for instance, if you make a user account, I tried to make sure that it is secure, but it would probably be best if you use a password that you do not use for other sites.))

The Biff Chronicles Part I: Nuclear Meltdown

This week I spent a lot of time working on my online Dancing Robots game. I am currently trying to get it online, but I have not yet been able to get a production worthy server for it (Serving it from a development environment is way easier than serving it from a production worthy server). I will keep you all up to date on it.
I had the Fourth of July off for Independence Day. In the morning we went down to Dimple Dell and hiked around looking for mushrooms. We got a bunch of mushrooms including four edible puffball mushrooms. We also found some golf balls (which were way more popular than the mushrooms with the girls).
In the evening we had a barbecue, which Sheila, Scott, and Max came over to. We had hamburgers and bratwurst. We made home made buns, and had freshly picked sauteed mushrooms over them. We also had watermelon. It was fun. In the evening we lit off some small fireworks.
Running perpendicular to the bench, and about a half a mile away from our house stands a hill of consi…

SQL script for setting up a MySql db in preparation for ASP.Net MVC 4 SimpleMembership authentication

Since this was a little annoying to figure out:

drop TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_UsersInRoles`;
drop TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_Roles`;
drop TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_OAuthMembership`;
drop TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_Membership`;
drop table `DancingRobots`.`UserProfile`;

CREATE TABLE `DancingRobots`.`UserProfile`(
`UserName` nvarchar(100) NULL,
PRIMARY KEY ( `UserId` ) );

CREATE TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_Membership`(
`UserId` int NOT NULL,
`CreateDate` datetime NULL,
`ConfirmationToken` nvarchar(128) NULL,
`IsConfirmed` bit NULL default 0,
`LastPasswordFailureDate` datetime NULL,
`PasswordFailuresSinceLastSuccess` int NOT NULL default 0,
`Password` nvarchar(128) NOT NULL,
`PasswordChangedDate` datetime NULL,
`PasswordSalt` nvarchar(128) NOT NULL,
`PasswordVerificationToken` nvarchar(128) NULL,
`PasswordVerificationTokenExpirationDate` datetime NULL,
PRIMARY KEY ( `UserId` ) );

CREATE TABLE `DancingRobots`.`webpages_OAuthMembership`(

In which I discuss mushrooms with Frisbee Hippies

This last week I worked on my Dancing Robots website a lot. It is still not ready for public consumption, but it is possible to play an entire game, and it is starting to look pretty good (inasmuch as anything that I make looks pretty good (which is not very much according to some people)). It has card symbols, hover text for all the cards, a log, and fairly intuitive controls. After I am done with the first run through I will test it out on my wife to see if that last statement is supported by evidence.
Alison had her book club last week (some girls from the ward get together and discuss various books - this time at our house). The book was Hattie Big Sky, but they always end up talking about homeschooling, and it seems more and more likely as time goes on that Alison will try out homeschooling.
On Friday I was ambushed by a 'team building activity' at work: Frisbee Golf. I got (on average) about three over par. We also ran into some angry frisbee hippies and were subjected …

You hear snoring snakes

Another eventful week.

To start off I found some (five or six) puffball mushrooms. If you don't remember, these were the mushrooms that the protagonist ate in my side of the mountain (a book which Alison loved (she loves all children survival books it seems) and I also enjoyed quite a bit) They were in a neighbors yard, so I am not eating them (since they might be poisoned with herbicides), but I did collect them and place them in a nice spot in my yard so that they can release their spores, and hopefully infect my dirt with a third edible variety of mushrooms for me to eat.

We went picking strawberries multiple times this week (as my parents were out of town and someone had to pick those straberries (the things that we do for our families))

They were excellent strawberries while they lasted. We made some goat strawberry apple pea ice cream (Andrea added a slice of apple and three peas to the already perfect ice cream, so we just had to leave them there.)

One of the days that we …