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Platform Tour v1.0.4 with WAVs (VB.NET 2003) 452 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Platform Tour v1.0.4 (VB.NET 2003) 6.61 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Power II: The Island Demo (VB.NET 2003) 3.41 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 40MB Project Page
Blocks: Extended Renderer Version (VB.NET 2003)137 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill v1.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.57 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 70MB Project Page
Quadrill v2.1.2 (VB.NET 2003) 1.42 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill v3.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 1.17 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 120MB Project Page
Quadrill v4.1.1 (VB.NET 2003) 2.88 MB Windows XP, Vista, 7 Uses DirectX 9 RAM usage: 180MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Full (VB6) 4.52 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Quadrill 4 Demo (VB6) 1.41 MB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 80MB Project Page
Jump-Cross (VB.NET 2003) 109 KB Windows XP, Vista, 7 No DirectX RAM usage: 20MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 full version (VB6) 530 KB Windows XP Uses DirectX 7 RAM usage: 50MB Project Page
Quadrill 3 map editor. (VB6), 200 KB
Syntax Highlighter (VB.NET 2003), 23 KB
Guide on How to Use the .NET programs on my website.

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Iceplug News

Aug 6 2017, 15:22
How Twitter and other Popularity-Centered Websites accidentally promote unfollowing Popular Figures

Get your attention with the title? Well, that's what we're gonna talk about today, but you should know right off the bat that this article has a lot of assumptions required to make the point, so, if you disagree with the assumptions, then all is right within your world. However, I, in my world, have a not-terribly-serious problem with overcompensation of popularity (despite my previous article also being about popularity).
Back in earlier times, Twitter would just give you a chronological list of tweets made by the people you follow. It was easier to keep track of who tweets a bunch and how long it was since the tweet.
Then, they added advertisements, which we sort of saw coming. If it happened to YouTube, it'll probably happen to Twitter. I'm anxiously waiting for a completely heavy-handed and non-negotiable copyright infringement detection system.
One of the recent additions, however, is the "In case you missed it", which seems to take random tweets from your last 24 hours and throws them at the front of your timeline. Seemingly random until you realize that these are tweets with reactions, which means that these are either really important tweets from someone on your timeline or just any random tweet from someone with a lot more followers than other people that you are following.
This means that if it's an "important tweet from someone on your timeline" but not a "really important tweet from someone on your timeline", you'll just miss it... and then there's no "In case you missed it" since you actually missed it. I mean, do you want to know more about Person A's plans for recovering from a disaster at the house or do you want to know more about Person B's mundane trip to the grocery store? Well, you don't have to, because Twitter will answer that question for you. In addition, "In case you missed it" takes up a substantial part of the news feed (several pages, in fact), so it's also likely that you miss a tweet just because it takes a few minutes just to get back to the normal part of the feed (not labeled either; the ICYMI section just unceremoniously ends with chronological tweets).
So, how do you avoid missing the important tweets? Well, you don't get news feed items from people that you don't follow, so how about giving them a good old unfollow? This will help you see more important tweets.
"But you would have missed them anyway if you were using the old Twitter". Sure, but I would have missed it just due to not checking Twitter incessantly. Now, I'm missing it because I don't check Twitter incessantly AND that Twitter has added a system which seems to make it more likely that I miss it in opposition to the intended purpose.
"Honestly, if you're gonna unfollow someone because of a Twitter feature, you're not a real follower in the first place". This is neither a discussion about why I stopped following people, nor is it a discussion about popular entities. All of the actions from these users are made on their own and are a reflection of their own thoughts. The problem is the website that tells me whose tweets matter and whose don't matter.
Also, have you ever encountered *those* fans who like to serve as the gateway to their community? The ones who essentially imply that you have to like the same things I do, otherwise I, the community gate hound, will chase you out? Aren't they annoying? Sorry, I drifted a bit off topic there, but I'm done.
The conclusion is that you can control the content that Twitter gives you by controlling the people that you follow, which means that I am a bit apprehensive about following someone on Twitter with a lot of followers because their tweets can easily dominate my news feed, pushing out other important tweets from less-influential people.
By the way, I said that I was going to make a lot of assumptions, which I did. I assumed that Twitter gives you information based off of reactions, which I assume as related to the number of clicks, likes, and retweets, and all are numbers that are higher for more popular people than they are for others. I also assumed that you would unfollow popular people if they produce content that preempts other content that you are more interested in. It's possible that you may simply be interested in content from popular figures or that you may unfollow people that are not as influential as you desire.

Jul 25 2017, 11:48
In the shadow of the popular
"Avoid comparing your successes to the successes of others. This almost certainly leads to you feeling worse."
This is a sentiment that I agree with. Oftentimes, I ask myself, "Why am I having so much difficulty getting recognition when this other person has no problem with it?" I then begin to doubt all of the things that I've learned and re-evaluate all of my personal weaknesses. Up until recently, the only time this happened personally was when I thought of more successful peers on the job and, to a lesser extent, catching up with old friends. Comparing myself to well-establish celebrities was essentially a non-issue, as they always felt as a fantasy, far removed from reality. Now, with social media, the veil of fantasy is removed. The popular people become more connected and accessible and it becomes easier to see yourself in their shoes, thus bringing up the problematic question, "How can I get this to happen to me?"
It doesn't help that sites, such as Twitter and Twitch further emphasize the importance of popular figures by giving you more and more of their content over that of other people. Twitter and Twitch are in it for the dollars, and risk-aversion by these companies naturally gives way to helping establish popular names. The issue is not the popular figure; the issue is the importance given to them by the site(s) that they use. The mystery surrounding popular figures is removed; they're normal people that just have more perceived importance on their statements and thoughts. Their ideals aren't more insightful or more inspired than everyone else's. Their thoughts are not more challenging and inspirational than other ones that already exist. What they are are personal reflections by a single person. We all make them from time to time and range from profoundly inspirational to questionably antagonistic. They're just normal people, like you and I.
So then, how did they get to where they are? The tried-and-true method to success is "when preparation meets opportunity". Preparation is largely deterministic and very easy to assess personally. Opportunity, on the other hand, is largely probabilistic. I feel that opportunity is largely ignored and overlooked, leading to people erroneously believing that success is only determined by preparation. Believing that success is only a result of preparation allows others to feel justified in asserting that popular figures are the most diligent figures and are now more worthy of the recognition. "They've put in a lot of hard work", which is certainly true, because they've met the *preparation* aspect of success, but doesn't explain their fortune and misidentifies the work of the less fortunate.
The overemphasis on the thoughts of popular figures often leads them to appear more informed than they actually are. One would naturally expect them to be more informed because there are more people for them to talk to, but this is not always the case. Just like any person in real life, they have to parse the thoughts of many people and determine what is true and what is not. How do they know what is truth? It's important for these popular figures to have a support base to keep them grounded in reality as well as to correct them when they are wrong. In a way, the value for a popular figure comes not only from the figure themselves, but also from their support; that is, the company that they keep. When this support base is inadequate, the popular figure often drifts away from the respectful ideals of the general public and, being unable to handle it gracefully, falls apart. For those of us who lie in the shadow of popular streamers, it's important for us to prevent our ideals from being left unchecked by the singular popular figures that have enormous sway over their respective communities. Be skeptical of normalizing statements that are contradictory to what you know and believe.

Jul 18 2017, 16:51
Difficulty and other Video Game Aspects
I could have sworn I wrote an article about this earlier. The only other article that I've written on video game difficulty was a list of most difficult games that I disagreed with.
Anyway, to properly introduce this idea, I want to bring up some common points seen in discussions about video games and their strengths/weakness.
The first one is difficulty. On the surface, it seems that difficulty is a fairly easy concept to measure. Did you die a lot in this game? It must be very difficult. Did you find any obstacle particularly challenging to overcome in this game? This must be a difficult section. However, the idea of difficulty can't possibly be this clear-cut if only for the idea that difficulty is relative. An obstacle that causes great difficulty for some can be comparatively easy for others to figure out. Player A is very good at mashing buttons on a controller and will find the shooting sections easier than that of Player B, who plays more calming games.
You would expect that the astute player will recognize when his/her strengths are being catered to as well as when the video game puts forth a challenge that falls into the player's weaknesses. I must reiterate that every player has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I won't make any assumptions about how game review organizations conduct their reviews. I would like to believe it's always a large set of results that are consolidated for accuracy and a greater representation of the general populace. I know of a few game magazines and publishing companies that follow this mandate.
However, I know some entities that do not do this. Some players realize that their individual skill set is valuable but fail to recognize it as unique. Their assessment of video games is based on how well the game played to their strengths and avoided their weaknesses. Their assessment tries to establish normality in their personal skill set, shunning creative or, otherwise, eccentric ideas that are difficult for them to understand. The player subconsciously decides that difficulty in "execution" is acceptable, but difficulty in "understanding" is a weakness of the game rather than a weakness of the player. The overly proud player, in addition to this, will actively avoid these unfavorable ideas and attempt to reform the game into a more acceptable alternative, becoming more agitated when their attempts to reform the game fail due to refusal to accept the game on its own terms.
This is then reflected in reviews of the game, with major discussion points being presented for "difficulty in understanding game concepts" as "an overly complicated system" or, more deceptively, a "non-intuitive system". The problem that I have with using "non-intuitive" as a basis for a negative reaction in a game is that it puts forth the precedent that all aspects of a video game must be intuitive; that is, it must take a minimal amount of time or effort in understanding. This concept serves to put implicit bounds on what ideas or challenges video games can present.
Following along the tutorial in Mega Maker (downloadable here) serves to reinforce these ideas. Don't put too many death traps in your game. This can frustrate the player. Don't just spam your level full of enemies. These are ideas that have good intentions, but come off as very restrictive. While it is true that putting too many death traps will frustrate a player, the idea of too many is, again, completely relative. There are large areas of the classic Mega Man series that are over a bottomless pit with small moving platforms over them. Is that too much? Indeed, old video game concepts from the NES era would have been insurmountable to a newer audience. The idea of enemy spam is another relative concept. Sure, simple-but-effective enemy placement was essentially required on old NES systems, but how many is too much? How would video games have fared today had NES programmers and level designers not have to face a heavy constraint on number of enemies? Would enemy spam be more normalized, or would the dual efforts of PC and console video games cause enemy spam to reach equilibrium to where we are today? Side note: I often see the adverse effects of enemy spam described as placing enemies without thinking. Then, who gets to decide who did the correct amount of thinking.
Yet, despite these "sanctions" on video games, they still manage to fall outside of the envelope. Do they fall outside of the envelope because of necessity or do they fall outside in defiance of the rules? I feel that, in order for video games to be art, the rules which define them should be bendable and sometimes breakable.
Taking a break from difficulty, the other topic that I wanted to talk about is the other non-interactive aspects of video games. In particular, I think that video game music is a topic that usually works out in favor of a video game. As time goes on, I find more great recommendations for video game soundtracks. Indeed, video game music is very special and can be easily used to trigger old memories of a video game. Perhaps, moreso than any other factor of a video game, the music is what players remember about old video games of yesteryear. So, it should not be a surprise that a lot of the ratings for video game music are fairly high or otherwise relatively constant. Modern video game music is either essentially on par with current music found on the radio or reminiscent of tunes from the days of your favorite old consoles. The question that I wonder: how critical is the person rating the music? What levels of detail does the person rate the music? Is the standard for acceptance just as low as saying, "The music wasn't annoying but it was unmemorable?" Perhaps the critical ear has no place in the justification of video game music.
Interestingly, players readily recognize that music tastes vary considerably from person to person. However, as curious as it may be, video game music also tends to experience this "enveloping effect" that I mentioned earlier. The types of music that I mentioned earlier comprise a majority of video game soundtracks. Most of the time, I hear only chiptunes, orchestral tunes, or rock tunes. If there's not a guitar riff or shred in the background, there's a chiptune. If there's not a chiptune, there's a string and brass section. There are so many other types of music performance out there; how did we come to have mostly these three? Admittedly, there are other types out there, but they usually fall in deference to one of the three aforementioned types -- piano solos and concertos appear in the sound track, but as a change of tone rather than a pivotal melody.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Am I out to lunch? Am I close to the mark? Is this just the ramblings of an old man? Let me know what you think on Twitur (you may also be mentioned in a future article). And yes, I spelled Twitur correctly.

Jun 29 2017, 17:50
I seem to be destroying all of my pants. Maybe it's just a sign that I need to start dieting. All of my pants are ripped around the thighs, so maybe I need to find a new workout to add to my regimen.
As a side note, I thought a little more about the point I made yesterday. It's a statement that's frequently made in politics to purport the idea that a person that supports one given aspect of a particular party must endorse every stance for a given party, as in, "The people who [are in support of Party Stance A] are the same people who [are in support of any stance of this party]." I am, of course, going to avoid discussing political affiliations here, but it is worrisome to see people try to force an entire party's beliefs into someone using this method.

Jun 28 2017, 19:45
Are These The Same People?
One of my favorite pastimes is the Big Brother season. The show itself is interesting, despite questionable decisions and differences in focus, but what I'm mostly interested in is the Big Brother fanbase. I watch Big Brother every summer (admittedly, not as much as I used to due to other obligations) and what I find myself spending so much of my attention on is the interpersonal communications that occur in the house and, to a lesser extent, the Big Brother Twitter handle (I know, highly refined literature). The Big Brother Twitter beast is quite the spectacle, with a large group of die-hard fans (including me) expressing their dismay with the newer Big Brother season mindset. Of course, you can't have large groups of people expressing their dismay without sparking a few wars of words.
One of the more curious statements I've seen in the Big Brother Twitter handle are quotes that I've seen earlier that leave me a bit puzzled: "The people who are arguing against [New Idea] are the same people who supported [Old Idea]." Surely, you've seen people say things like this. My problem here is that this reads as a desperate attempt to make the two groups identical, when it's almost impossible for the two groups to actually be identical.
Starting with a clarifying example: "People who drive all day are the same people who complain that there is too much traffic." If we took any given person and asked him/her if they have ever complained about there being too much traffic, then you would be able to say that this person has driven all day. Since the people are the same in both cases, then there should be no person that: meets the first criteria but fails the second, or fails the first but meets the second. This is to say that there should be no one who complains about traffic that doesn't drive. What you'll find in every case is that the two people can't actually be the same.
An example I found today: "People who get offended on the internet are the same people who take mini golf seriously." Of course, in practice, these examples are going to be covered in more abstract terms (for plausible deniability). For this example, are there truly no people who don't get offended on the internet but also take mini-golf seriously? Are there truly people who get offended on the internet, but don't participate in mini-golf? I'm sure there's at least one exception to this.
"The people who actively find faults in others are the same people who are completely blind to their own." Is there truly no person that is completely blind to their own faults that keeps their criticism to themselves? Is there truly no person that knows one of their own faults that also nitpicks others? I feel that I, as well as many other people, actually identify with the latter. Therefore, this quote can't possibly be true. So what's the point? Are you sensing the trend yet?
These examples are all used to disparage someone for doing by trying to insinuate (without any actual substance) that every single person also has a less agreeable stance. These sentences actively promote stereotyping behavior by implying that the two effects are together, even though it's highly improbable that it actually applies to everyone.
Oh, is someone actively trying to find a fault with you? Sure, go ahead and assume that they also have faults of their own that they are completely blind to! Go ahead and assume these things! It won't be an assumption because you know they're the same person.
Even if they are demonstrably not.

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The story of Iceplug:
Iceplug - sting ray (NOT A MANTA RAY!) that swims in cold waters, usually near the poles, though mostly in the south, near Antarctica. The average babies are born at about a foot long and wide (they look like squares) and are usually a light orange and translucent. After about 6 months, they become more opaque and start to take on a bluer color. Their tail can grow to almost 5 feet, and the adult Iceplug grows to about 25 feet. Not to be outdone, most adults create stashes of coral in their homes and forge them into tridents (which are actually quite effective weapons).

Feedback? E-mail me (Iceplug) at blackout119(at)yahoo(dot)com. Be sure to include a descriptive subject, and the first seven characters of the subject must read Website, otherwise I may move it into the Spam/Junk folder. I strive to reply to all e-mails at the end of the day, but I definitely respond to them at the end of the week.