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Archive of February, 2007

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[Permalink 2007-02-26] Fun with Google Maps

February 26, 2007:

While I was metro-ing back to my car from Katsucon I got an idea. The maps that WMATA provide of the rail system show a schematic-type layout -- they simplify everything into straight lines and condense the longer runs to make the map a more reasonable size. What would it look like if it was to scale?

I sat down Sunday morning and spent a few hours tracking down the Metro stations' coordinates. Google Maps makes this easy; they put a nice Metro logo where they think the stops are. For above-ground stations I was able to tweak things a bit; for underground stations I usually put them under the nearest intersection. Then I put together some station icons showing which lines service each station and added lines to show the routes.

Here's version 0.1.
Here's version 0.2.

I need to do more tweaking; there's a map of downtown DC somewhere that shows the actual lines and stations on a street map. I also need to add some points to the lines so the tracks can follow their actual paths -- right now they go straight from point to point. That means that the above ground tracks diverge from my lines when they go around a bend (like the western end of the orange line that follows I-66). I also want to add entrance markers when you zoom in far enough since the place where you get on the train isn't the place you enter the station. I'll need new markers for that, and smaller lines.

I also added the silver line, which (allegedly) will begin construction this year. In theory, the four Tyson's Corner stops and the Weihle Avenue (eastern Reston) stop will open in 2012; the remainder of the line through Dulles Airport and out toward Leesburg are supposed to open in 2015. I'll believe it when I see it.

Edit, Sunday night: Since I had to set up the new mail server at work this evening I had time to start getting the above-ground lines taken care of. (Copying 3 GB of mail takes a while.) The western ends of the blue, orange and silver lines, and the southern end of the yellow line are fixed up now. And I can't get the eastern end of the blue line, because when the last aerial photography in the area was taken, Largo Town Center hadn't been built yet.

I think I'll also put in info ballons with stuff like location entrances and maybe thumbnails of the pictures on the WMATA site, then include a link to the full station info on WMATA. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Edit, Monday night: OK, for some reason this is more appealing to me right now that coding. I got the southern end of the green line done, and I jumped up to the north end.

Edit, Friday night: Got more above-ground lines this week. The Green is finished at both ends, I've made the western end of the Orange line more accurate, and I need to improve the Blue and probably the Yellow in southern Fairfax County as well. I also found out today that the Yellow crosses the Potomac via bridge instead of tunnel, so I'll have to fix that one up too. Then there's the western Orange out to New Carrolton; I've got it out to the Cheverly station. After that's all done I have the Red line. So, lots to do.

I've also discovered that this thing is starting to take up lots of RAM when I view the whole Metro system at once. Once I get all my points in I'm going to need to do some conditional logic so I don't follow the tracks quite as closely when I'm zoomed way out. But first things first, assuming my under-memoried computer can handle it.

I also saw the WMATA's Google map of the system. It does some of the things I want to do -- namely info balloons for the stations -- but they just did straight-line connectors, even above ground. Which means that when it's done, mine will be better :)

Edit, Saturday afternoon: Got the Blue's western end and the Yellow's southern ends patched up (this was where I started zooming in farther, so I think all that's left for the Yellow is picking up the bridge after the Pentagon. Still on the plate is the eastern end of Orange and both ends of Red. And I think the northwestern end of the Red is underground anyway.

Edit, Sunday March 4th: Had a little more fixing to do; I didn't move in to the closer zoom level until I started the Green Line. Got the Blue patched up to where it goes underground near Rosslyn, and the Yellow now correctly follows its bridge. Which means the western end of the system now matches my original vision for the project. ("Jason! Do your impersonation of George Lucas!")

Finished up the eastern Orange Line, and got some parts of the Blue between Stadium/Armory and Addison Rd. Knocked out the Red Line in the evening. That leaves me with:

With all the above-ground track in place I'm bumping the map to version 0.2. Next I start on optimizing it a little bit for different zoom levels. There's no escaping that there's a lot of information the way I'm doing this: The page has no text and is 32 kilobytes without counting the HTML frame. That's a lot of JavaScript. Optimized polylines will take me to 0.3, then I want to do info bubbles for 0.4 and entrances for 0.5. From there I'll add in any underground maps I can find, put them into the zoom optimizations, and call it version 1.0.

And nobody will ever see it but me. But hey, that's what hobbies are, right?

[Permalink 2007-02-22] More Katsucon

February 22, 2007:

Well, I was in a hurry Monday night because I was tired, and I missed a couple things. Here they are now, in all their glory.

One of the events at the con was an anime music video contest. The way it was explained to me, you take a song and play it over anime like a do-it-yourself music video. Because I have a head full of bad wiring to begin with I instantly came up with my own idea for a video: Take the Hiruhi dance, and sync it up with White and Nerdy. (Apologies on not being able to show the dumb-ass dance they do in the Hiruhi anime; Youtube seems to have pulled any clips that used to be there.)

I fully expect to share in the prizes (which probably amounts to a box of Pocky) with whoever has the editing skill and the time to assemble the monstrosity I've proposed.

Moving on to easy ways to spend my money, I've been reading the manga I bought, all the first volumes of series. So far I've read one I knew I'd like from seeing the anime (Rurouni Kenshin) one that's based on an anime that I liked (Cowboy Bebop) and one that I'd never heard of before (Samurai Champloo). All of them have been good so far, and at about 10 bucks a pop they're bound to be a minor drain on the wallet.

The two I haven't read yet are Excel Saga, which I've heard is good, and Chrono Crusade, which Dave copsplayed as one of the characters from. So I may be looking at sending about $50 a month over to Amazon for a while. I need to find cheaper hobbies...

And finally, some weirdness from Saturday afternoon. I was walking around taking pictures of the cosplayers. (Oddly enough, almost all of them were cute girls. Funny that.) I asked one if I could take her picture, and she said OK. Then she warned me that she wasn't actually in costume; she just wanted to wear something cosplayish to the con.

Fair enough, I decided, but it still looked good on her. So I took the picture and showed her the preview on my camera's LCD screen. My work done, I went back over and sat with Dave's wife while Dave stood in line to get a voice actor's autograph.*

A couple minutes later the same girl came up to me and gave me her e-mail address; she wanted to see how the picture turned out after I downloaded it from the camera. Now, I realize an e-mail address isn't a phone number, but it's still better than I usually do. And I hadn't even tried! I had no idea what I'd done, and quite frankly I was afraid to jinx it.

Monday night I pulled the pictures from the camera, spun them the right way around in Photoshop, and even tweaked the colors on her picture since it seemed a little washed out. Then I e-mailed both to the address she provided and asked if she was from around here.

She is local, she liked the picture (go, me!) and she was pretty friendly, so I took the next logical step and asked her about her plans for the weekend. Window-shopping was the big item on her list.

For a prom dress.

Now, in my defense, this girl is Asian and I am absolutely horrible at guessing Asian women's ages. In fact I pretty consistently guess them to be about five years younger than they really are, so a friend of mine that I thought was 22 when I met her was really 27 at the time (a year older than me) and I thought her younger sister, getting ready to start college a couple years ago, looked like she was 13. So I took the age I'd guessed for this girl (19) and added my standard error correction to it to get 24.

Works for me, until I find out that for once I basically guessed right the first time. This obviously changed the tone of the conversation for me -- I may talk the talk of the dirty old man but I'm not willing to walk the walk just yet.

But hey, a girl gave me her contact information, even if she did turn out to be 12 years younger than me. I'll take my confidence boosts anywhere I can get them.

* Yes, they bring in voice actors as guests, and they're pretty popular. I don't see why, but to each his own...

[Permalink 2007-02-20] Katsucon 13

February 20, 2007:

Went to Katsucon again over the weekend. Things seemed to run more smoothly this time around, but that probably has more to do with me having a better idea of how things go than anything they did -- if they didn't figure something out by the 12th one they probably wouldn't have gotten it right for the 13th.

There were fewer panels I was interested in, though there was a good one about giant fighting robots. Saw clips of Tranzor Z for the first time since I was a kid, and saw some of the original giant robot, Tetsujin 28 (a.k.a. Gigantor). I also went to a panel about designing a site for a webcomic, hoping to learn more about the design part than the webcomic part. In that sense it didn't help me much: Contrast is good, clear navigation is good, important stuff above the fold is good. The basics, pretty much.

Now, I wouldn't mind doing a webcomic. In fact, all I need is an idea and a writer. And an artist.

Of course, I got pictures of cosplayers, one of the easier-to-enjoy parts of the con: All you need to do is park yourself at the side of the lobby and people-watch. Just like last year, there was a lot of effort put into the costumes and it showed. There were non-manga/anime characters too, including video game characters like Yuna, Lulu and even Luigi, and characters from movies like Underworld.

Since Dave was there, I had someone available who was more than a passive fan, so I had a few characters pointed out to me and got some recommendations for manga. I currently have a small pile of them sitting on my coffee table awaiting perusal; if they're all good this could turn into an expensive hobby.

Not much else to say (at least not yet) but I'm still tired from being on my feet half the weekend and I have pictures to pull off the camera.

[Permalink 2007-02-06] From the Thirty-somethings

February 06, 2007:

Well, I'm barely writing these days, so I figure I'll put up this e-mail forward I got. Unlike most of the crapola I get, I thought this one was pretty good:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning... uphill BOTH ways... yadda, yadda, yadda.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!

There was no e-mail! We had to actually write somebody a letter -- with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were no MP3s or Napster! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "asteroids" and the graphics sucked ass! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in fro nt of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed!

Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called! a "TV Guide" to find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I'm saying?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove... imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled.

You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980!

Now all I need to do is get a place with a lawn, so I can yell at those damned kids to get off of it...

[Permalink 2007-02-05] Small Update

February 05, 2007:

The weight's down to 222 lbs now (just over 100 kg), which is about where I was when I moved down here two years ago. Once I cross 220 and get the metric weight into double digits, the next big milestone will be getting back under 200. I haven't been there since I tried the Atkins diet in early 2004.

Of course, I also went over to Greg's on Saturday for his birthday cookout, and kinda blew the diet for a day. One day shouldn't hurt anything though, so I'll keep at it.

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This page last updated Jul 19, 2019 4:07:42 PM.