Wayne Roth

September 16th is my paternal grandfather’s birthday and now it will be my
maternal grandfather’s deathday. As there are no speakers
near I will fulfill the role.

Wayne Lehman Roth, who lived for 89 years from February 14, 1925 to
September 16, 2014, was a quiet man. His actions and words were chosen
carefully. He was precise. His life running his small print shop taught him
this. Long hours and hard work is wasted because of typos and small mistakes. A
love of letters and words was not just his job, but his character. Not long do
I remember him being separated from either a pun on his lips or a crossword on
his lap. That was his style. He wore suspenders long since out of fashion.
Correspondences were conducted on a typewriter. Smoking was done with a pipe.
He learned how to do something once and that was good enough. He tinkered with
model trains in that small row house of his. A house with no AC for those muggy
Bryn Mawr PA summers. He built Impressive vistas and intricate rail systems
which fought for room amongst the tools and paints of the basement. A busy life
to be sure yet time enough was found to be married for 60+ years. Time enough
for two children and their grandchildren and even a great grandchild. I never
saw him separated from my grandmother for long. Marriage to them was less a
contract and more a bonding of two people. His wife was an extension of his own
body and he cared for that just as much as his own.

To put it simply, he was a builder. Ink at work, tracks in the basement,
flowers in his garden, family any other time.

Perhaps he was not always this way, but I can only speak of the man I knew
for my whole life, which was only a fourth of his. I will never see my
grandfather again. No one will remember his name once I and am my kin are gone.
That is ok though. I will remember him and that will be enough. He never cared
for flashy things.

Grandparents Told you they were inseparable.


Convention Musings

Thoughts on BFIG

Boston Festival of Indie Games was last
weekend. This was my third time going to the festival which has been operating
for the same period of time.

There is a very curious dynamic at play at this festival. Generally I am a
very reserved individual. If you were in a charitable mood you could use the
word taciturn. The point is I rarely talk to people at these things. I am more
inclined to see and listen and take in what I can. Except at this convention. I
talked to way more people than usual, far in excess of what is normal for me to
do. I talked to just about every indie developer there. This is no joke, I went
to every table and saw every game in the digital section. I even played most of
them. Best of all I got to play this cooperative survival board game (After the

with this nice fellow:

the game creator. Go check out his site and buy the game when it
is available it is awesome. I also played an in development real time
restaurant management game. Each player played a role (I was busboy aka plate
and glass washer) and helped work customers through an assembly like system.
There were many sand timers and much yelling. I can see it being a great party
game as it is real quick to learn, but pretty stressful to actually play well.
Those two board games stood out the most. In regards to the digital section
there were a lot of familiar games, either from past festivals or ones new to
the festival that I had heard about prior. Some ones that stood out:

  • Anchorage Adrift:
    a cooperative space ship game, similar to Artemis, players are tasked with running a
    particular role on a space ship. A little rough technically and usability wise,
    but showed great promise.
  • Soda Drinker Pro and Vivian Clark:
    the first game is a first person soda drinking game which is hilarious. The
    second game is hidden within Soda Drinker and is weird and strange and has to
    be played. It is akin to dreaming or hallucinating. You play a rain drop that
    changes to whatever it touches. Also the developer is a
    real funny upbeat guy
    so that is cool too.

  • Adrift
    : a real polished looking arcade space shooter and tower defense
    hybrid. It is slick, fun, and a good coop experience. Why it still is not
    greenlight yet is curious.
  • Talon: a fast quake style
    spaceship multiplayer shooter. It reminded me of playing Unreal Tournament or
    other arena shooters.

Best part of all though was I got to throw my business card in one of those
raffle bowls. The phone number is wrong on it though so hopefully they just
send an email.

Philosophy Words

Stop Confusing Intelligence and Experience

Has someone ever called you smart? I will brag a bit and say I have been
called that a few times. The thing is, its just not true. It is not true
because people are confusing intelligence with experience. Intelligence, as was
once described to me, is the ability for a person to turn the abstract into the
concrete. The more intelligent your are, the less information you need to solve
a problem. An intelligent person can look at an issue and, with no prior
experience in that domain, solve it. The smarter you are the less information
you need and the quicker you are in solving an issue. To give a concrete
example a smart person might not be able to start their car one day. Not
knowing anything about cars, they start to investigate, beginning with the
ignition all the way through until they find a problem. A experienced person
recognizes a problem and solves it based on past experience. To use the same
example their car will not start, but they recognize the symptoms. In the past
they had a car that had a similar, but not exactly the same problem. They can
rely on that past information and associate it with the problem at hand. In
other words they know x, how does x relate to y?

In both cases the solution is the same which may lead some to think that
these attributes (intelligence and experience) are interchangeable, but that is
not the case. Intelligent people solve problems by there ability to quickly
understand how systems works. Experienced people solve problems by using their
past knowledge and experimenting off of what they know.

It is a nice compliment for sure, and it does wonders for my ego, but it
will not be true for some time. It takes a while for me to study systems and
understand how they work. My skill comes from my ability to remember how I
solved past problems and relate them to the problem at hand. I have worked with
truly frighteningly intelligent individuals. It is a disservice to their skill
to place me amongst them. Many more years of service are required before I
reach their level.

Engineering Philosophy

Impatience is the Mind Killer

I am not a patient man. It is one of the main reasons I went into software
engineering. It is very quick to think of an idea and convert it to machine
language. This desire to do things as quickly as possible has served me well in
that past, but lately it has caused great harm. An example and then an
explanation. I have been working on some systems at work that require a lot of
tinkering with some of the special database sauce we use. An unfortunate side
effect of this development is the need to constantly replace rpms (a kind of
specialized automated zip file). I was having great difficulty getting the
system updated with my changes so in my haste I just uninstalled all the rpms
of a particular package so I could reinstall all my newly built ones. Of course
what I should have noticed was I was uninstalling rpms that I had not built new
versions of. There is a sudden clarity when your console stops accepting
commands. In that brief window before you get told for certain that you lost
your connection you curse the gods, which for me happen to be the trinity of
Richard Stallman, Dennis Ritchie, and Ken Thompson. As you can surmise the
system died a quick death. And since the issue I was working on was hardware
dependent I had to develop on an actual blade instead of a virtual machine so I
had no snapshots or backups to revert to. Thus the afternoon was lost to
resuscitating the system via the HP ILO system and
its fantastically poor console. It was a huge pain, a waste of time, and
ultimately did no good to helping debug the problem. The solution it turns out
was far more targeted, I just needed to update a few system files instead of
blowing out all these rpms. So what is to be learned from this? Be patient and
be sure of what you are doing before acting.

The thing is, I used to get by wielding a giant hammer but I need to be more
comfortable with the scalpel. If I had just taken the time, talked to people
who knew the issue, and acted with a bit more foresight I could have saved
myself much gnashing of teeth. I chose an engineering example as I tend to like
thinking with that discrete mindset, but the lesson should be applied
elsewhere. The problem with impatience is its side effect, anxiety. I have been
kind of obsessed with grand schemes that can be rapidly achieved. Then,
inevitably, when things begin to drag I grow agitated that my plans are not
proceeding with the rapidity I prefer. Take my house hunt for example. Many
dreams, little progress in resolving them. I could buy a house tomorrow, but,
given the options available now, it would be a poor call. Rationality in
conflict with impatience creating anxiety.

Not sure how to resolve the quandary. Engineering-wise the solution is
simple: be more deliberate in action. I should work harder to understand the
systems I work with and only make the smallest possible changes at a time.
Personally though it gets harder to fix. If I do all I can to achieve something
and yet it remains unachieved the only result can be frustration. The beauty of
software is understandable systems where input produces expected output. When I
expect the same from the world disappointment will abound. Impatience is just a
byproduct of this unfortunate truth. It is as if I am desynced from reality,
like we are running on separate clock cycles. I expect one
speed of progress and get another. In time I hope to sync up, but until then I
remain impatient.

Aside: I goggled this title before using it and seems I was not as clever
as I thought
. A regrettably common occurrence. I still like it though so I
am going with it.