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Jay's Large Empty Brain
Bouncing around ideas since 1979!
Well, I've decided that I've just had enough of Livejournal. I've had an account for almost 8 years, posted almost 1200 times.

All the management changes just resulted in this quirky place being destroyed further by each new owner... so I'm not only not going to post here anymore after today, I'll be deleting the journal completely. (I've got backups.)

Those of you that still want to follow me can do so by hitting up my new Wordpress blog @ http://www.zerojay.com. Those of you that use RSS feeds can follow my blog through my RSS feed: http://www.zerojay.com/wp/feed/.

But this doesn't mean that I won't still be following all of you. I'll be switching over to using my OpenID: http://www.zerojay.com/jay/. I'll be readding those of you that still post on my OpenID account, so please accept me when I send out the "add me" request.

You can also follow me on Twitter, which also will alert you when I've posted something new.
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When I was a kid and through my early teenage years, videogames meant playing a lot of games and keeping up with the newest games and news from the industry through gaming magazines. My first real job, working for a game store, came about through hanging out at the place until the manager asked me to buy some game mags for him and handed me $20. He didn't know me at all, but trusted me anyways. I still remember that I picked up an EGM and Next Generation with the money.

As time went on, the internet, obviously, came to become the place of choice for updated news. Some of the store's regulars would print up tons of gaming news from the net, staple them together and drop them off at the store for us to check out all together. We started selling game magazines ourselves and almost instantly noticed the drop in sales after a few months as more and more people became "plugged in."

It's been maybe almost 5 years since I last bought a gaming mag... and the ones I did buy around that time were bought solely for the PS2 demo discs included within the packaging.

Even still, last night's news of Electronic Gaming Monthly shutting down saddened me in an unexpected way. We've always known that print media would be fading out as time went on. Maybe I felt that way because it's one of the few constants that linked current gaming to past gaming. Everything else about gaming has pretty much changed radically. No more cartridges, no more wired controllers... no more magazines.

And then we also have 1up being sold and gutted. Ugh.
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Much as I hate to keep reminding everyone of the fact that we're in a financial crisis that I don't even remotely understand, there's something I think all of you should know.

Valleywag is reporting that LiveJournal has lost a majority of its employees. 20 of 28 staffers at LJ were let go, with no severance, which consists of project managers and engineers. The only ones left are "finance and operations workers", they say.

LJ's dying after all this time. Looks like my instincts were correct. Glad I started my own blog.

Back up your stuff, guys and dolls. I've got over a thousand posts dating back to 2001. Damn it.
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There's always a feeling when you come to the end of your vacation time that you need to squeeze a few more things in before heading back to work. That feeling struck me last night in a big way.

I stayed up until 2:30am or so doing nothing more than updating software on my game consoles. The Xbox got the latest stable version of the Xbox Media Center (XBMC). The PS3 got a new install of MAME 0.129 which made a few more games playable at a decent speed on the PS3, such as Mortal Kombat and NBA JAM. Good stuff. I'll post a video of them sometime soon.

Got up at 6:30 to bring my kid to school, just like every other day. I was tired out, but I thought today would be a nice relaxing day at work.

No such luck.

It seemed like everything was down when I got there. Some sort of power loss happened corrupting a few databases. And then the problems kept coming and piling up. None of them were too difficult to fix, it's just that it was becoming a tidal wave. I was running around at a frantic pace, but finally, finally... everything's back to normal.

It wouldn't feel like a real vacation unless something was broken down when I got back.
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I've been a huge fan of classic videogames. Hell, I still play NES games all the time and even hacked up my installed version of Linux on my PS3 specifically to make playing those games easier. (More on that later.)

Emulation has been great for people like me. Not just for playing the old classics when the hardware's hard to find, but also for some of the neat stuff that emulation authors come up with. I've been emulating old games on PCs for over a decade and one of the fun things that I do with some friends is brainstorming on what might become THE NEXT BIG THING in emulation. What I mean by that is what really neat emulator feature is going to take people by storm?

Previous examples would be cheat engines (with support for those old GameGenie codes), playing multiplayer over a network or the internet and saving movies of a game in progress. How about the Xbox emulators using the cheat engines to allow people to add rumble support to old games? Awesome feature... but I want more.

I just came across something I would love to see become THE NEXT BIG THING: scriptable emulators.

Born from the minds of people obsessed with making tool-assisted videos trimming milliseconds off their best level times, scriptable emulators were more or less born from the idea of helping them make these videos easier to make by doing things such as overlaying visible hitboxes on-screen, but seeing some of the other scripts being written has made me somewhat excited for the possibilties, even for those of us that don't need to squeeze every last programming bug to get the best time ever on a game.

How about HP counters or lifebars over enemies heads in Zelda 2?

How about something that calculates the best result from every possible jump in Super Mario Bros?

Comparing multiple speedrun movies in real time in Super Metroid?

The scripting language is Lua and you can load up external Lua modules to allow you to do even more stuff. At this point, three emulators support Lua scripting:

  • A fork of an older version of SNES9x called SNES9x-lua (SNES emulator)

  • A newly revived version of FCEUltra (NES emulator)

  • A fork of Gens called gens-rerecording (Genesis emulator)

For those of you that might actually be interested in playing around with this, you might want to take a look at the SNES9x-lua API (which the other two are also based upon, as far as I can tell). Also, a specific list of features supported in each can be found here.

Now do some cool shit, people!

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On Christmas Eve, my mom made the bus trip from Montreal to Quebec City to spend some of the Christmas holidays with us. I left work on the 24th and ended up getting on the same bus that Morgan, Billy and my mom were already on for a strange but nice coincidence.

The visit was Morgan's idea. She's always felt that Christmas never felt right unless we were with family. I have to say that I agree and I'm also quite happy that we didn't have to take any 24 hour bus rides to be with family this time.

After my father passed away on the 12th, I fully expected my mom to be having a hard time... but instead she seemed alright. I'm quite concerned with the amount of alcohol she had while here. Normally, you could brush it off as an exception... "oh, it's the holidays" or "her ex just died". I don't really feel those are valid excuses anymore.

We didn't talk about Dad at all while she was here. On her last day, she left me a note explaining that she wanted to wake up later because she had some major trouble getting to sleep. She was having nightmares of fighting with Dad.

Not me.
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So I finally decided to start up my own personal site with a domain and everything. I know it’s a little odd for me to be doing it from out of nowhere, but several things pushed me into the decision:

* Livejournal being bought out by Russians and not feeling very good about it.
* A desire to play with Wordpress.
* Finding out Dreamhost had one hell of a deal ending on the Boxing Day, a year’s hosting for $10.
* Wanting to break out of LJ’s layout system and really do something unique and original.

Check the site out here: http://www.zerojay.com/wp/
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I opened the car door and carefully made my way across the iced over path towards the rest of the family, all gathered around the hearse. The snow from the cement path to my father's burial plot had been plowed. I held Billy's hand and waited for my mom to walk over to us. I wrapped an arm around her and followed behind the rest of the family over the frozen grass between the long rows of hundreds of small tombstones.

A Quebecois Catholic priest stood next to the casket, waiting for us all to gather close together in the bitter cold and wind. He spoke English with a deep Quebecois accent, adding "h" sounds to almost every word that starts with the letter a, which is quite common. I held my mom's hand as long as I could, but the cold was just too great after a few minutes.

Tears flowed openly as family members reached for the roses that covered the casket as they all said their final goodbyes. I took Billy and walked off to the right side of the casket to allow others to pay their respects, to this point remaining stoic. I watched quietly as my mom broke down in front of the coffin followed by my sister.

The coffin started to be lowered into the grave, but only dropped down maybe a foot from where it was originally. Billy was kicking at the snow below his feet, somewhat oblivious to what was going on. Watching my sister sobbing loudly started my own quiet tears as my mom came over to me.

I held her tight, rested my chin on top of her head and couldn't keep myself from crying. Eventually, people started to head back to their cars until it was just my sister and I in front of the coffin. We hugged and both of us just started crying so hard together. The strong sun reflecting off the ice combined with my tears just made the entire world around this moment become one big bright blur. We started to walk back to the cars and once I hit the path, I looked back at the coffin sitting there among the tombstones.

I kept thinking, "I can't just leave him out there alone."
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So... 40 of the 80 or so people I work with were told they were being let go next month. My job was safe.
We spent the rest of the day kind of just being in shock... I was in tears to see people from my extended family leaving... or being unsure of their futures.

I remember saying "it's like members of my family died." We were given the rest of the day off.

I got home and just a few hours ago got a call from my sister saying that my dad died.

Wow... what a day.

And I wasn't really joking when I said work's Christmas party being thrown tomorrow is gonna be like a funeral!
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Walking Billy to school this morning, we had this conversation:

Billy: "Before I was born, I was nothing. I was inside of you and then inside of Mommy and then I transformed-"

Me: "Into Bumblebee!"
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