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About this blog

I originally got into programming because of horse racing at the age 12. I fell desperately passionately in love with it and have been programming ever since. I recently quit my job as a Controls Engineer/Programmer  to pursue creating video games, apps, and websites full time.

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Why do people like horror video games?

Just to be completely honest I don’t remember ever playing a horror video game but somehow when coming up with ideas for video games the one that was the most doable was a horror game. I have played quite a few horror board games though and the board game shelves in my house have an absurd number of lovecraftian inspired games on them. I’ve tried to do a decent amount of research into horror as a genre because of my lack of hands on video game experience. So why do people enjoy horror? Well according to the University of Chicago Press Journals(1) “Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies. The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. But, a new study by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that neither of these theories is correct. “We believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for people’s willingness to consume “negative” experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order,” explain Andrade and Cohen in their study. They continue: “The assumption of people’s inability to experience positive and negative affect at the same time is incorrect.” In other words, the authors argue that horror movie viewers are happy to be unhappy. This novel approach to emotion reveals that people experience both negative and positive emotions simultaneously — people may actually enjoy being scared, not just relief when the threat is removed. As the authors put it, “the most pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful.” Andrade and Cohen developed and utilize a new methodology to track negative and positive feelings at the same time. Their method could apply to other experiences that seem to elicit terror, risk, or disgust, such as extreme sports. “When individuals who typically choose to avoid the stimuli were embedded in a protective frame of mind, such that there was sufficient psychological disengagement or detachment, they experienced positive feelings while still experiencing fearfulness,” the authors explain.” Dr. Griffiths complies a number of other reasons in his article Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?(2) “According to a 2004 paper in the Journal of Media Psychology by Dr. Glenn Walters, the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unrealism.” Unreal-ism seems like an odd factor to consider in the enjoyment of a video based medium. It plays into the idea though that movies and video games can be a vicarious way to experience emotions. You might be very scared but you know you are actually safe. This was a common theme in most of the articles I read on horror video games. Perhaps as video games mature as a genre of entertainment we will begin to see more horror games or maybe they will always be a sort of outlier when compared to fantasy RPGS and FPS games. (1) University of Chicago Press Journals. “Why Do People Love Horror Movies? They Enjoy Being Scared.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070725152040.htm>. (2) Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. “Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?” Psychology Today. Oct 29, 2015< https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201510/why-do-we-watching-scary-films > The post Why do people like horror video games? appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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How I got into Programming

It started with a racehorse breaking it’s leg. In 2006 the race horse Barbaro shattered his leg during the second race of the Triple Crown. I was watching the race with a group of my friends from Pony Club(Think like a way tougher and ballsier version of Scouts but totally focused on horses.) He ended up undergoing surgery, having tons of pins put into his leg, going lame, and then having to be put down because of it. I theorized that if he had instead had the leg amputated they might have been able to keep him alive because either way he was never going to race again. This inspired a science fair project about prosthetic legs for horses. I did a ton of research and made a very rough prototype of a more advanced prosthetic leg than what is available even today. That Science Fair project won me the Hubert Hoover Award and sparked a serious science fair addiction. Unfortunately there was little opportunity for prosthetic research for a Midwestern farm girl. At this point I didn’t just want to compete in science fairs I wanted to win and robotics was the closest thing I could get to prosthetic. The benefit with robotics is that I didn’t need special oversight or to use an actual lab. I lived on a farm and had easy access to a wide variety of tools and my dad set me up a little bench in the back of his shop. My Dad and my grandpa tought me how to use many of their tools and pretty much let me run around and play with power tools. My mom the biologist tought me the scientific method and helped find me mentors and books. It was a great time in my life and every year my projects placed higher. (Other than the one year I decided to build a hoover craft. It was a terrible idea and I didn’t win anything.) Somehow my family found out about the first robotics competition but it wasn’t something I could enter on my own. I needed a team. So I assembled a team from like five different counties of every kid in the right age range I could talk into joining which wasn’t very many. It was a farming community so what sort of robot did we build. Well we took inspiration from the things we knew, tractors! Great big sturdy pieces of equipment. We did not have the most technologically advanced robot but it was sturdy. A lot of teams were very kind and helped us entirely rewire it on the first day of competition due to none of the wiring being to spec. We had to cut chunks off to get it down to weight. I had to entirely reprogram it after all I was the only kid who had done any programming before. It was sturdy though so as the days went on it just kept going. We could play defense so hard because well it wasn’t going to break even if it got flipped over. We ended up wining and getting to go to the international competition. During the last 3 years of highschool I ended up going to 5 international competitions, 2 FIRST Robotics, 2 Science Fairs(I’m a two time ISEF Finalist.), and performing with a drill team at the World Equestrian Games. I got to see Princes, Princesses, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It was insane and wonderful. I ended up getting a scholarship to a great engineering college and because of all the robotics decided I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. Two years in and an internship and I realized Mechanical Engineer’s didn’t do what I thought they did. I realized that degree path wasn’t for me after all I wouldn’t get to play with controls till at least senior year and if I switched to CompSci well I could start doing similar stuff a lot sooner. It was the right choice. Immediately after switching majors I got offered a research position. I had a terrible boss for that position but it was paid and ended up helping me get my second one. The second one helped me get an internship at a Fortune 500 company which admittedly I was driving 1.5 hours one way for but it was great. It really solidified that I loved programming. Admittedly I had always loved programming I just hadn’t really realized it. I was still a little in love with controls though so when an opportunity to work full time while finishing school as a Controls Engineer/Programmer presented its self I took it. I ended up quitting it due to reasons I’ll probably end up explaining in another post but I was able to use the money from it to pay off my student debt. That’s how I ended up here deeply in love with programming with an almost completed CompSci degree that I have been working on for so many years its ridiculous. Its a pretty unique way to get into programming and I always get a lot of questions when I tell people that I got started because a race horse broke his leg. It really was what started it all for me though. The post How I got into Programming appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Guest Post: The PRISM Conspiracy

For today’s post I’ve asked a dear friend of mine to write a post about where she got the inspiration for a recent novel. I tend to get a lot of inspiration for my games from novels so I thought it would be interesting to ask an author where she got her inspiration from. Mary Mary Schlegel is a museum tour guide and science writer by day, and a writer of fiction by night, with a passionate love for reading, hiking, baking, and drinking inordinate amounts of tea. She and her author husband Aaron live in the heart of the Ozark Mountains with their many story characters, in an apartment stuffed to overflowing with books. “First of all a big “thank you!” to Ashley for the opportunity to be a guest on her blog…as ironic as that is. Why ironic? Well, because I am probably the least tech-savvy person I know, and yet here I am, a guest on a technology blog. Life is funny, isn’t it? But, while I may not be a tech-savvy person in my daily life, it just so happens that I’m an author (primarily of fantasy) who’s written a science fiction novel revolving around futuristic technology. (Or maybe not so futuristic!) The PRISM Conspiracy is about a gullible architectural artist named Abigail, who lands her dream job with one of the most prestigious architectural firms in the world. The company uses personality profiling technology to pair employees with work partners who balance out their strengths and weaknesses, to create a more efficient and productive team. Abigail scores exceptionally high on the scale of creativity and originality…so high, in fact, that the only employee with a logic and mathematics score high enough to balance her out is a machine—an experimental, completely human-looking android named Rory. Except…it doesn’t take long for Abigail to discover that Rory isn’t an android at all. He’s actually a human victim of a medical experiment’s unintended side effects—side effects that have made him forget that he’s even human. To start it all off, this whole concept actually came from a weird dream I had years ago, about a man who everyone thought was an android. (Perhaps influenced by my love for the character Data from Star Trek TNG? Who knows.) When I decided to turn the dream into a novel, the first thing I had to do was figure out how to facilitate that premise. How do you make everyone believe that a human is just a machine—including that human himself? I started doing research on the human sense of self awareness (since it seemed reasonable that Rory’s would have to be suppressed to believe himself a robot without being completely psychotic) and discovered that even with all of our modern technology and knowledge, scientists and doctors still have no idea where our consciousness and self-awareness come from within the brain. Perfect for my story! Obviously losing self awareness would take something major happening in a person’s brain, but it also needed to be something not completely understood by science yet, so that I still had room to work and speculate and ask “what if?” as a novelist. I decided to look into epilepsy as a candidate for my story needs, and as soon as I started researching it, I knew it was perfect. Not only because it fit the parameters I needed for my story, but because it’s so much more prevalent than I ever imagined! Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world, and yet it’s still very poorly understood compared to others. I realized that a lot more people than I thought are dealing with this condition, and yet I didn’t know of any novels featuring characters who have it, and I wanted to change that. The Epilepsy Foundation was an amazing source of information—most of what I now know about epilepsy I learned from their incredibly informative website, epilepsy.com. In the course of my research I learned that there are already some electronic options for seizure reduction, in the form of devices designed to react to unusual brain activity and use stimulation to try to divert the seizure. These devices have shown amazing success rates. That inspired me to wonder, “What if that technology had been taken in a different direction from the outset?” What if, instead of a device that tried to divert the seizure activity before it started, someone created a device that simply tried to contain the seizure—like putting a bomb-proof box around a grenade (That line actually made it into the story!)? What if they created something like a digital network of doors or gates, dividing the brain into sections that they could then isolate in the event of a seizure? This of course began bringing in the cyborg, science fiction elements that I wanted into the story—the concept of humans being augmented with computer technology. Then followed a chain of what-ifs: What if certain human brain signals had a previously undiscovered electrical signature that wouldn’t allow them to get through this digital network? What if those signals were different from person to person, making the side effects unpredictable? What if, in Rory’s case, some of the signals that couldn’t get through were the ones that made him self-aware? But what if, since the scientists and doctors working with him had no idea where self-awareness comes from in the first place, they couldn’t do anything to undo it? So what if, instead of trying to fix it, they simply added in computer programs and algorithms to artificially replace the language and interaction skills he had lost, making him seem very stiff and robotic in his behavior? And what if, since Rory was already a brilliant engineer and physicist before developing epilepsy, the programming had somehow “decluttered” his brain and allowed him to far exceed his previous abilities in those areas, essentially turning him into a super computer? And that was how I created a human robot (as well as the conflict of the story—because there are plenty of people out there eager to exploit Rory’s enhanced abilities). Of course, in order to make the concept of a totally human-looking android believable to the characters, I had to move the story forward into the future a bit, meaning I got to play around with ideas of what everyday technology might look like thirty years from now as well. Since medical devices were the only technology really crucial to the plot, I tried to keep everything else pretty simple so as not to be distracting, basically just advancements in currently existing technology. For instance, I decided to give in-vehicle GPS systems hologram projection abilities—because why not? I liked the idea of your GPS using a hologram projected onto your windshield to show you exactly where to turn, and it did come in handy when Abigail and Rory find themselves on the run in a less-than desirable part of town where streets aren’t clearly marked. There is a brief reference to eyeglasses being outdated and obsolete, widespread use of microchips as employee IDs, things like that. Even over the period of time I’ve spent working on this story (a little over two years at this point) I’ve already seen some of the technology that I laughingly included as science “fiction” become or come close to being science fact, so who knows? The PRISM Conspiracy may not be as futuristic as I imagined while I was writing it. Either way, I hope it remains a fun story with an important truth at its core: namely, that human life is still valuable, no matter where technology takes it in the future. So, that’s the story of how a fantasy writer made an excursion into the realm of science fiction, and a technological ignoramus took a brief foray into the world of futuristic technology. It’s been fun! (But now if you’ll excuse me, I have a castle to storm.)” Excerpt from The PRISM Conspiracy: “Rory…” Abigail stared at the paper towels she held against the back of his hand, watching them turn dark red as his blood soaked into them. His blood. “Rory,” she said again, “what’s going on?” He was still holding his hand out in front of him, but his eyes were darting everywhere, faster than Abigail had ever seen them move before. A furrow appeared and deepened on his forehead, and his breathing began to quicken. His injured hand was shaking—no, Abigail realized, his entire body was shaking. She sat back on her feet as her mind screamed alarms at her and her thoughts spun out of control like a crashing helicopter. Maybe this wasn’t blood. Maybe it was…hydraulic fluid. Or coolant. Or something. It had to be! Some of it had gotten on her fingertips, and she held it close to stare at it. It certainly looked like real blood. There was a way to know for sure, she realized. At first, the thought turned her stomach—but she had to be sure, and she had to be sure right now. Cringing, she stuck out her tongue and tentatively touched it with her finger. She tasted salt and iron. “Oh my gosh…” Gagging, retching, she ran to the sink, scrubbed her hands, and rinsed out her mouth. For a moment after she shut the water off she stood over the sink, panting, water dripping from her lips, as realizations and memories began clicking together like puzzle pieces. Rory’s breathing. His eating. His eyes adjusting to light and dark. He looked so real. He adapted to her emotions. “I am the biggest, most gullible idiot on the entire planet.” For more inspiration you can find Mary at: https://www.facebook.com/authormaryschlegel/

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Confession: I play more board games than Video

For as much as I enjoy the ins and outs of building video games I’m a pretty casual player however when it comes to board games I put a lot of hours in. I think the biggest reason is that I tend to play board games with my SO and video games I generally play by myself. There just aren’t that many good two player video games out there that are balanced. Starcraft has a great two player mode and a decent balancing system for their vs mode. See that is the other problem with video games my SO has been playing them pretty actively since childhood/teen years. I’ve played them very casually off and on. Growing up with incredibly slow dial up limited my game options pretty considerably. Once I got into college I didn’t have much time to play but had people to play with and decent internet. So I started getting into video games little by little. Maybe it’s because for the most part I’ve never had great swaths of time to play but a video game has to be truly spectacular to keep my interest. It has to have great graphics, great story arcs, and fantastic characters. In other words it is rare for a favorite video game to be anything other than a RPG. I just love them so much. I’ve tried FPS and I’m currently very slowly working my way through a Halo game(I don’t remember which one exactly.) but they tend to give me a little bit of vertigo. The one type of video game that I love more than RPG’s are VR games. They are just so cool. Unfortunately the good rigs are so expensive. My first real experience with VR was with google card board. I actually made a game with a few other people for a class project for it. Once I tried an Oculus rift though I was hooked and have wanted one ever since. I really started getting into board games because I kept buying them as presents for my SO. We would play them, enjoy them, and then next holiday I would get him another one. The first one I got him was Dead of Winter. A spectacular board game about fighting zombies and trying to survive in the winter. I’ve played so hours of it. So yeah I enjoy both video games and board games but play far more of the later. It is pretty ironic considering how much I enjoy how video games work and creating them. The post Confession: I play more board games than Video appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Programming for the Non-Programmer

So your child or friend or spouse has come out as a programmer. What do you do? Do you throw out all the electronics in the house? No by the time they’ve told you they’re probably already hooked for life. The good news though is that most programmers can lead normal semi-healthy lives and even have relationships. The first thing to do is to talk to your programmer. All joking aside you don’t need to have an intervention just a friendly chat about why they are interested in programming. If it’s just for Minecraft mods then there is a chance you just have a budding gaming nerd on your hands and not a full fledged programmer. I do know several people who got into programming through doing mods but I know more who made a mod or two and then went back to playing Minecraft. Anyone who programs for a living generally has a pretty deep seated passion for it. There is a pretty strong requirement to continually learn in the field. Anyone who doesn’t tends to fall behind or burn out. That is the other thing a decent percentage of programmers burn out and become managers, marketers, or just move in to completely different fields all together. If you don’t have that passion you tend to burn out faster. It’s not really a career you can just do for the money very easily or for very long. Don’t get me wrong the money is very good. It’s not going to make you a millionaire good but you’ll always be very comfortable. It is steady work and generally very easy to find in most parts of the world with some exceptions. If your programmer is enough of an entrepreneur or persuasive they may be able to finagle the sort of situation where they can literally work anywhere they have internet. Full-time from home is still pretty uncommon but a lot of companies allow several days a week. That is the other thing it is a very flexible sort of career offering many options for working from home part of the time, flexible hours, and a great many other benefits. If your programmer ends up working for a company that employees a large number of programmers generally the perks are quite nice and the company pampers their programmers quite a bit. See programmers now a days tend to move companies pretty often every 2-5 years is not uncommon. It is the easiest way to get promoted and get better benefits. So the more programmers a company needs generally influences them to have better perks in-order to retain and recruit programmers. So how do you help and encourage them to really give this new passion their all? Making sure they have a decent computer is a great start. They don’t need a tip top of the line gaming laptop necessarily but expect to pay $600+ for a decent laptop. Oh and it will probably need to be replaced every 5 years or so. If you can’t afford that just make sure they have access to a computer. After all it’s really hard to do programming without a computer as a beginner programmer. Then there are a wide variety of books you could purchase and leave laying around for them to find. There are enough variety in them that picking them out will probably be an entire post to its self in the future. Classes, this is the expensive one. It’s great because they can get a lot of experience and knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise and possibly a degree or certification as well. It has a few down sides though. They tend to be quite expensive as in the several thousand dollar range. Also they are only as good as whoever is teaching them. Sometimes is someone who just wants to share their passion for programming and sometimes it is someone who has burnt out of industry. Now you have a few tips for how to encourage your budding programmer as well as a short explanation of the benefits of a career in programming. These days being a geek or nerd can be quite profitable. Programming is an excellent career choice and one that I am so glad I got into. It has had so many benefits in my life. The post Programming for the Non-Programmer appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Implementing SEO in Video Games

So we all know Google and other search engines use a variety of optimization techniques. How does that apply to video games? Well the classic example is the shortest path problem. You want your AI whether it be enemies or NPC’s to take the shortest path to the player or some other goal. The way to accomplish that dynamically is to use a search algorithm. The first thing you need to know when implementing this sort of algorithm is how to set up the problem. There are essentially 3 variations you need to worry about single-source shortest path problem, single-destination shortest path problem, and all-pairs shortest path problem. The first one is essentially you have a starting location and you are trying to find a route to every other place on the map. The second is basically the opposite of the first. You are trying to find the shortest path from all possible starting locations to a single end point. The last one is both combined. You are trying to find the shortest rout between all possible starting and ending locations. Now you have a variety of options for algorithms Dijkstra’s, Bellman-Ford, A*, as well as a few others that I’m not going to get into. The first two are excellent algorithms but the benefit of using the A* Search Algorithm in video games is that it adjusts for a heuristic(basically a rule or sort of hunch of which direction to go). Now this is where you can really let your creativity shine when it comes to AI characters. You can make some of them move more optimally. You can make them become stunned or disoriented and move less optimally. You can even add in another goal or end condition. Now traditionally the heuristics are used to speed up the algorithm. You can use it for that perhaps routing over terrain that lets the AI move faster and is more likely to connect two points for example roads. The thing to remember though when you are implementing them is that it is up to you how you want use and/or modify the search algorithms. This can be a bit of a scary thing if it isn’t something you’ve done before. Personally it is something I love. I really enjoy writing custom algorithms for problems. I once got very frustrated at a hashing library in the middle of the night and wrote my own single direction hashing algorithm but that is a story for another time. Suppose you are wanting to use A* and you want to use the heuristic to actually optimize it. There are so many different heuristics you could use customized to your unique implementation. For example maybe because of the way your maps are designed there is a set max minimum distance between every two points say 9 squares, everything is normally within 9 squares of everything else. Well now you can use the heuristic to favor that search range. Maybe you know the direction the goal is in so you make your heuristic to favor paths that go in that direction. Now the problem with this is that if there is a problem with your heuristic it can throw off the entire algorithm. Heuristics are not the only way to optimize search algorithms. You can also use a technique called pruning. Which like pruning a plant or tree refers to cutting away branches or options that you already know won’t lead to your desired outcome. One example of it is Alpha-beta pruning which is an algorithm that seeks to limit the number of nodes searched by the Mini-Maxi algorithm. It is used for games against an opponent. Just because an algorithm was designed for a specific purpose doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to suit your specific needs. No one is judging you on how correct your implementation of a specific algorithm is. When considering how you can optimize your search algorithms you have a lot of options from setting up the problem in different formats, using different algorithms, heuristics, and pruning. Search Engines don’t release their algorithms but that doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the same techniques they do to improve your game. The post Implementing SEO in Video Games appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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5 Songs about Programming

Unlike doomed romance, bar fights, and cowboy boots programming doesn’t have a long history in the music industry. With that in mind here are 5 songs about programming. I would only give the following song 1 out of 5 stars because while it is about programming it is a very bad parody done by someone who doesn’t have a lot of musical skill. It is however pretty creative. The following song is great for when you’re feeling like some German rap about programming. It is in English but the singer has a very thick accent. It’s kinda catchy but could use slightly better production quality. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. This song I will admit is leaning towards engineering in general but it does mention quite a bit of stuff about programming. It’s smooth and catchy. The production quality is actually quite good. I give it 4 out of 5. If you are looking for some rap with a good production value about programming this guy has got it. 4 out of 5 only because I feel like it could use just a little more sparkle to it. Code Monkey is a classic. If you haven’t heard it before go listen to it because it is one of the greatest songs about being a programmer. 5 out of 5 That’s my list of five songs about programming. One last song that kinda fits but that I always associate with programming. I listened to this song so often in high school while building robots. If you’ve never heard it you should definitely check it out. It has an awesome punk vibe to it. The post 5 Songs about Programming appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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The Delicious Pseudocode of an English Muffin

//This pseudocode will teach you how to make an English muffin for breakfast as //a programmer. It will also show you how to explain programming to //non-programmers. check_ingredients( egg, English muffin, sausage, cheese, mayonnaise) { if !egg return error if !Englishmuffin or Englishmuffin==moldy return error if !Suasage or !cheese or !mayonnaise return error return true } cook(ingredient){ place in pan when done remove } assemble() { stack ingredients } eat(){enjoy} //in the main function if check_ingredients( egg, English muffin, sausage, cheese, mayonnaise){ cook(egg) cook(sausage) cook(English muffin) mayonnaise.spread() assemble() eat() } */As you can imagine I had an English muffin for breakfast. It got me thinking as I made it about the steps involved. The concept of pseudocode is a great starting point for explaining programming to non-programmers. As a teenager I competed quite aggressively in science fairs. I had to come up with a simple way to explain programming to judges. Often times they were experts in their own fields but had no background in programming. Pseudocode improvisation was my preferred method because even if you have never touched a computer before you can quite easily understand the concept of pseudocode. I would spontaneously come up with a short pseudocode related to their field to explain how programming works and how my projects worked. When making video games you can have a similar problem in explaining what you do to people who have no background in the programming side of building video games. These might be people on your team or investors or even relatives at annual family dinners. Start by following these simple steps (I’m assuming for the purposes of this explanation that you are a programmer.) Step 1. I do programming. Step 2. Counter their “What is programming?” with programming is like making an English muffin. First you check if you have all the supplies, then you cook the ingredients, then you assemble it, then you eat it. Programming is simply writing down the steps in such a way that a computer can do it. You can substitute almost anything for making an English Muffin. Step 3. Specific key words related to your specialty. This is so if someone asks them a question about what you actually do they can show off their knowledge. Keep it simple. For example “I use the programming language C# to build video games.” You can expand upon what type of video games you build if asked for more details. That’s it. Three simple steps that will leave your team mates, investors, and family members actually having an idea of what you do as a programmer. A last interesting fact the English muffin is not actually English. They were invented by a British ex-pat in America and in fact are sold overseas as American muffins. I found the fascinating story at https://www.thekitchn.com/the-english-muffin-is-not-english-at-all-234056 /* The post The Delicious Pseudocode of an English Muffin appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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SEO Results: Day 1

The results of my SEO experiment are starting to come in. A little background on the project yesterday I started an experiment of sorts. I went back and improved the SEO of all my previous blog posts as well as a variety of other things to try and improve my number of hits. You can read about my efforts here https://gildedoctopusstudios.com/seo/ . As you can see there was an extreme uptick in both unique sessions and page views. Sure my blog doesn’t have very many unique sessions and it currently does not make me any money but it’s just started. I figure give it time and see what happens. It’s part of my multi-pronged approach to reach my goal of making as much working from home as I can working a 9-5 programming job. It’s not something that I expect to happen over night but I figure if I persevere and try several different options to figure out what works best for me in time it will happen. The blog is one of the approaches that so far I am really enjoying. I love researching tech techniques and it gives me the chance to show off a little bit of what I’m currently working on. I’m really pleased with the SEO changes I’ve made. The SEO results are quite encouraging. It definitely is an immediate and effective way to improve the number of views on a blog. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results from it over a longer period of time than just one day. It wasn’t even a full day for that matter. My plan is to continue trying to improve my site’s SEO through some additional tips I found at https://backlinko.com/seo-techniques. Most of them are about improving the actual key words and key phrases that you use. So it should mesh nicely with what I’ve already done. I’ll post updates on the SEO techniques I’m using as I discover and implement new ones. The post SEO Results: Day 1 appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Today I’ve been diving into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because I realized that nobody is reading my blog posts-not the long ones and not the short ones. In fact nobody is finding my blog to begin with. I had some general background knowledge on SEO from my background in computer science but no practical knowledge. So I started where I always start my trusty friend google. I swear if you want to do anything related to tech becoming very close friends with google is the way to go. The top non ad result was https://www.mtu.edu/umc/services/digital/seo/ which had the following to say about the subject. “1. Publish Relevant Content Quality content is the number one driver of your search engine rankings and there is no substitute for great content. Quality content created specifically for your intended user increases site traffic, which improves your site’s authority and relevance. Fine-tune your web writing skills.” This is a valid tip but this site really didn’t give me the information I needed. That I found on https://neilpatel.com/blog/ which is written by Neil Patel a guy who specializes in improving SEO ratings for companies. It’s definitely geared towards developing business for him but it had some good tips. more importantly it had a handy SEO analysis tool https://neilpatel.com/seo-analyz . This gave me a great starting point for things I could immediately improve like the fact that my website did not have a sitemap.xml . I had never heard of this before. Neil Patel suggested on his site using a plug in called Screaming Frog. When I looked up SEO plugins for WordPress though Yoast SEO popped up which is what I ended up using. It worked a little better with WordPress. Plus it’s one of the top rated ones. I then started going through the options for Yoast SEO learning about stuff like Meta Descriptions which are those little snippets that pop up telling you about the page. I also learned about keyphrases which are apparently the new thing. No longer is SEO based off of key words now due to Google’s evolving intelligence key phrases are used because it is capable of picking out little bits of context related to how you use words. For example if I was looking up stuff about Avocado Puffer care I’m not going to get stuff about how to make avocado puffs. If you’re reading this my SEO improvements must have paid off. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results from today’s experiments. Also shout out to Neil Patel for having a self promotion blog that actually has useful tips without a lot of run around. The post Search Engine Optimization (SEO) appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Dragon Age Inquisition vs Origins

Dragon Age Inquisition vs Origins: I finally got round to getting my accounts set back up on my Xbox after it mysteriously reset to factory settings so I now can continue playing Dragon Age Inquisition. I like Inquisition but it honestly seems like a bit of a let down after Origins which is one of my all time favorite video games. The banter between characters is really lacking in Inquisition. The companions are kinda duds when it comes to witty comments. Speaking of witty remarks check out VideoGamerTV‘s review of Inquisition at https://youtu.be/ENi6XbJU4wA It’s a more comedic review. I miss laughing at cheesy pick up lines and weird little Easter eggs. The other thing that annoys me is how chaotic it feels in your ability to do things. The advisers are kind of a weird addition to the game and at least so far they don’t really add to the game. There is more variety of terrain in Inquisition but I don’t play Dragon Age for the terrain. If I want to do that I’ll go play Witcher 3 and ride Roach around at full gallop. That is a game that is worth playing just for the graphics. I really hope Cyberpunk 2077 turns out as pretty. The post Dragon Age Inquisition vs Origins appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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The Perils of Working from Home:part 4 (Caffeine)

Caffeine really is just a peril of programming in general. The late nights and cramming encourage a turn to the dark bitter goodness of coffee or the smooth yellowy goodness of Mountain Dew or even the instant spike of Monster. Caffeine is one of those things that can really be a demon in a cup. It’s so easy just to say one more. Working from home allows you to always have your favorite choice of caffeine right by your side. The post The Perils of Working from Home:part 4 (Caffeine) appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Cyberpunk 2077-release date

Wow Cyberpunk 2077 finally has a release date announced at E3 of course. This game and my longing for it has been a big part of my inspiration for GildedOctopusStudios. Its just so cool. Plus Keanu Reeves appearing in the new trailer, fantastic. My only complaint is that I have to wait almost a year for it since it doesn’t appear till April 2020. This is one game I might just pre-order. If you haven’t seen the trailer check it out at https://youtu.be/Z8_JEaoYcOs The post Cyberpunk 2077-release date appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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The Perils of Working From Home:Part 3(Seriously?)

“Oh so do you have any other stay at home mom friends?” I’ve been asked variations on this from a variety of friends and family members since quitting my full time job. True I’m still working on getting my work from home work to make money. My first couple of projects are still in the works. I don’t have anything against stay at home parents but it really isn’t my cup of tea. I’m a terrible home maker and an often times terrible cook. I love working from home though and have always wanted my own business. It’s hard to explain that to people. Sometimes it’s hard without the structure of a 9-5 to be taken seriously. Our culture has a very strict image of what a job looks like and particularly as a woman you end up expected to be either a corporate chick or stay at home mom with little ability for leeway. If you are making the switch be prepared for people not to take it seriously. It can be a tricky thing to deal with. I normally either ignore it or very gently explain that I’m actually in the process of starting my own business. Neither option seems to stick though and the next time I see people they are right back to asking me how life is as a stay at home mom. The post The Perils of Working From Home:Part 3(Seriously?) appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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The Perils of Working from Home: Part 2(Children)

Note this is not my child in the image but it serves to illustrate a valid peril of working from home. If you have children they are adorable and I’m sure wanting to spend more time with them is a big part of why you want to work from home however children can have terrible timing. They upchuck all over you when you’re trying to write blog posts or work on programs. They start yelling because they desperately need something while you are in the middle of something. You can’t even remember what you were in the middle of because they are so loud. They poop diapers and need feeding. Now to be entirely fair my child is still very young so there are a lot of things I haven’t figured out yet. While I was pregnant though and considering my options I read loads of articles on the subject of working from home with children and these are a few highlights I would like to share with you. From “17 Strategies to Survive Working From Home With Children” by Allison Martin ( https://www.thesimpledollar.com/17-strategies-to-survive-working-from-home-with-children/ ) “1. Be realistic If your children constantly demand attention during non-business hours, do you really expect them to sit in a corner with a pile of crayons, coloring books, or an iPad for hours at a time while you work? Even as an adult, I am sometimes easily sidetracked during work hours by phone calls, text messages, email alerts, social media (the ultimate time-suck), or a light bulb that suddenly goes off in my head — just to name a few distractions. And remember, you are the main attraction for your little ones.” She raises an excellent point that part of your success of working from home will depend on your children and how you’ve raised them. Happy self sufficient children who can play near you without constantly needing attention will make working from home considerably easier. I’ve found that when my little one is having a bad day I barely get anything done and he is one of the most cheerful easy going babies you’ve ever met. From ” Working from home with children: Tips to make it work” by Marie Elizabeth Oliver ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/working-from-home-with-children-tips-to-make-it-work/2018/08/30/026242b4-9462-11e8-810c-5fa705927d54_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ac12e167e1b6) “Basecamp chief technology officer David Heinemeier Hansson, who co-wrote the bestsellers “Rework” and “Remote: Office Not Required,” has run a remote team for the past 15 years. He enjoys a leisurely breakfast each morning with his children before working from his home office. He says the key to success while working remotely is to maximize focused productivity and prevent multitasking overload. “I have an iMac computer in my home office,” he explains. “Everywhere else, I carry my iPhone and tablet and try not to use it to answer work email. It’s a way of delineation, so you don’t sit on your laptop all day long.” Hansson says one of the biggest mistakes he sees people make when they start working remotely is working too much. “People are so eager to prove themselves that they are working all day and night,” he says. “We actually have to train them not to do this.” Not all personal interruptions are bad, he emphasizes. Spending spontaneous time with your family is one of the biggest perks of remote work. “You can take a 15-minute break to console your kid without it having an impact on your work,” says Hansson. “It leads to a happier environment and more harmonious work and home life.”” After all isn’t this one of the perks of working from home. You get to be there for your children a little more often. The post The Perils of Working from Home: Part 2(Children) appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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Yuki-Onna update

I’ve made some pretty decent progress on Yuki-Onna though it is still a long way from being play testable. Unity is interesting in the way it displays the UI elements while you’re working on scenes. They hoover there over your work like some sort of alien space ships. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to make it scarier and one thing I think I am going to include is that if you don’t keep moving you will freeze to death. To balance that and add some tension I’m considering adding several points where you have to hide and move very carefully in order to not get caught by the Yuki-Onna. The post Yuki-Onna update appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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The Perils of Working from Home:Part 1 (Cabin Fever)

I’m very introverted so it took me quite awhile to hit the cabin fever blues, 10-11 weeks roughly. If you’re extroverted working from home may not be for you. I have a friend who works in IT who is pretty extroverted. (Funny story he thought for a long time that he was an introvert but every time he goes to the store he makes new friends.) Whenever he works from home he doesn’t have anyone to talk to except his wife. She’s not very geeky and in her words whenever he works from home he gets way geekier because he has no one to talk to about cool new tech other than her. It slightly drives her nuts because she has a much smaller range of interests and isn’t very good about faking interest. My SO and I have had similar problems in the past. He’s pretty geeky and interested in new tech but while he has a pretty high knowledge of computers for your average engineer he just doesn’t get some of the programming stuff. Meanwhile I could talk about some of the advances in neural networks and how to implement them for hours. He would probably get bored about 15 mins in. Now he’s a real sweet heart so he would listen to me talk about programming stuff for quite a long time but he would be so bored. So what do you do to recover from/prevent cabin fever well according to WebMD’s article “How to Cope With Cabin Fever” (https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-to-cope-with-cabin-fever#1 ) there are a few things you can do. 1.Be careful how much news you watch (This can be a big one for many people. The world is so interconnected due to the internet that you can always find something to be sad about in the news. On the flip side there are always stories of hope too but they don’t tend to draw the viewers as much as horror and darkness.) 2. Relaxation Techniques (This is one I need to get better at. There are so many good relaxation techniques out there. It really is just finding the ones that work for you.) 3. Limit Alcohol (This is a pretty easy one for me. I don’t tend to drink much to begin with and after having a baby my alcohol tolerance is pretty much shot.) 4. talk to your friends (I struggle to do this one consistently. I’m so introverted that I tend to do bouts of very high contact with friends then get worn out from all the human contact and just not talk to people for awhile. I need to figure out how to be more consistent just for the fact that it will make it easier to have close friends.) 5. Exercise (Ohh this is a hard one. Where do gym bunnies find the motivation? I really struggle with exercising consistently. I really need to find a new work out hobby.) So to fix my cabin fever blues I got out of the house without the baby and went and played the new Magic the Gathering release with my SO. It wasn’t the best one I’ve gone to but it was a lot of fun. I’m sure cabin fever will be a recurring problem for me but I have a few ways to beat it once I realize that it’s a problem again. Today’s tip: Before you consider making the switch to working part or full time from home really consider how much human interaction you need every day and whether your spouse really wants to hear all your technical jargon. The post The Perils of Working from Home:Part 1 (Cabin Fever) appeared first on Gilded Octopus.
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