shitty May Day
Wednesday, May 1 2013
For most of this morning, I continued work on the "game" I'd been working on last night. I'd have to drive down to Westchester today to "beta test" it and the three other games in a multi-computer setting. At a certain point I was satisfied with my work, so I went to check my email and I saw I had something from the seed library guys. I opened it and read it and was disappointed to find that my three designs for seed packet art had all been rejected. I don't often set myself up for failure, but here it was: I'd failed. This wasn't a good way to begin the day.
After taking a long shower in the upstairs bathroom, I walked back to the laboratory in my wet feet and slipped on one of the three steps leading down from the teevee room, falling backwards and banging my upper left arm violently in a manner that would end up producing a two inch by one inch bruise. I had never fallen on those steps before. Again, not an auspicious way to begin a day.
Following Google Maps' directions, I drove down to Westchester on the NY Thruway and then cut over eastward on I-287. The professor I was driving down there to meet had given me directions from the Taconic State Parkway, but since those directions were so different from the Google Maps ones, I was dependent on the GPS function of Gretchen's Droid cellphone. But the thing about smartphones is that they work in inverse proportion to how badly you need them to function. Knowing how quickly GPS saps its power, I'd plugged the phone into a cord coming from what I expected to be a plugged-in car adapter, but of course the other end of the cord hadn't been plugged in at all, so by the time I actually needed directions, the phone was dead. It was so dead, in fact, that all it could display was that its battery was at 0% and charging. (I hadn't been aware that Droids needed a charge in order to function if they were also plugged into an adapter.) So there I was, fumbling with the damn thing as I was driving, plugging it in and hoping to charge it up before I got to the part of the drive where directions would be necessary. The phone eventually started working again, although once I resumed navigation, this seemed to eat up power at a faster rate than the batteries could be recharged, so after about 15 minutes the phone powered down and I had to begin all over again. This was how I ended up getting lost somewhere in Westchester County. Eventually I managed to scratch together enough power to get to the part of the map from which the professor's directions could guide me, but it all ended up being backwards (rights were lefts and things encountered were in reverse order) so then I found myself lost in the creepily-named Pleasantville, having to wait while super-thin overly-botoxed middle-aged white women crossed the street in front of me. Or following languid SUVs down unnecessarily-curving streets while I sang a little ditty "Get outta my way/Get outta my way" to a mutated version of the melody from "That's the Way (I Like It)." But eventually I managed to figure out that I had somehow come into it from the wrong direction, and once there, I found my way to my destination, an office in one of the main buildings at Pace University.
In keeping with the general tenor of the day, the demonstration of my games went much worse than I could have possibly expected. These same games had seemed to work correctly when I'd tried them at home on my computer, but I'd mostly played them as an instructor in a mode that allows the instructor to manually enter decisions that would otherwise be made by students. It was amazing all the ways that this proved an insufficient test of the games when actually played as multiple students from multiple computers. Some games refused to compute statistics, others refused to permit students their full range of actions, and one game even confused what capabilities belonged to what teams. It would have been a disaster, but evidently this is how all beta tests of these games go, so the professor wasn't actually all that irritated. Still, it was of a piece with the other failures of the day, leaving me feeling just that much more incompetent on the long drive back north. Adding to the dispiriting nature of my presentation were the limitations of the computer lab where I was demoing these games. There was only one surplus electrical outlet in the whole room, requiring the stringing of a cord in a manner calculated to trip either me or the professor. And, though there was WiFi, I didn't have access priviledges and was forced to plug my laptop into an ethernet cable borrowed from one of the lab computers. This produced another tripping hazard and eliminated a computer from our "test farm." In my increasingly blood-sugar-deprived state, I had a nearly impossible time scrounging up the information I needed to FTP into the site we were testing so I could correct the things that were so broken that they were preventing games from working. And even then, Filezilla seemed to be have the same attitude as the Droid had had during the drive, letting me down at precisely the moment I needed it most. The most obvious way to use an FTP program is to drag and drop files to or from the windows it produces. But for some reason Filezilla needs special (and impossible to figure out in a timely manner) configuration to allow drag and drop from its windows, meaning I had to find some other way. There are few routine experiences as mentally painful as having to improvise as the bars of your neurological battery fall below two.
Despite the shortcomings of the presentation, it ended on a reasonably-cheerful note. I would finally be getting paid for half the work, with an additional check to come after I get all the games working acceptably. Since the Droid was still not working, I drove home via the Taconic up to I-84, west to the Thruway, and home. Despite the way my brain felt, I didn't stop for food or beverages anywhere along the route. Gretchen had prepared the makings for a meal of faux-pupusas and curtido. (Instead of corn-flour dough fried around a center of beans, we used two corn-and-wheat tortillas as the "bread" of a bean-puree & faux-cheese sandwich that we then lightly fried in a skillet.)
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