Saturday, April 28, 2012

My First Minecraft Mod: Endermen vs. Zombie Pigmen

endermen_vs_pigmen.zip Download this file

I wrote a tiny Minecraft mod for the 1.2.5 server.  It's not a bukkit plugin, just a regular mod to the official minecraft_server.jar.  So I doubt anyone will bother to try it.

My mod adds a new drop to Endermen.  If an Enderman is killed by a Zombie Pigman, the Enderman will drop Record 11.

You might wonder how this fight could ever happen in the first place.  Well, my mod also adds the ability for Zombie Pigmen to look at Endermen like players do.  And this angers Endermen, just like when players look at them, which causes the Enderman to attack the Pigman.

If the Pigman manages to kill the Enderman, then you get your record.

Normally, a Pigman will never spawn near an Enderman.  But it is possible.  Yes, you can spawn them together in Creative Mode.  But beyond that, you may be aware that it is possible for a Pigman to spawn if a regular pig is struck by lightning.

Also, Endermen are more powerful than Pigmen.  It takes about three Pigmen to kill one Enderman.

So if a Pigman ever spawns by lightning, it's a good idea to damage the Enderman before getting them together, since it's pretty much impossible to get enough Pigmen to do the job without help.  Or maybe you can buff the Pigman and poison the Enderman with potions before the fight.

Pro-tip: A Pigman is more likely to look at an Enderman if the Enderman is standing between a player and the Pigman.

So it's not an easy task, but I'm assuming it is possible, though I've only tested it with spawner eggs.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



On Monday evening after work, some dude swiped my iPhone 4 while I was standing at the bus stop.  He grabbed it right out of my hands, ran, and jumped over a fence.  Several people witnessed it, including the bus driver.

The first thing I wanted to do was locate and wipe my phone.  You might wonder why I would be so eager to wipe it.  #1, I have a recent backup, so my data is safe.  #2, I didn't want the data (like all of my passwords) in the hands of someone who might know how to get it (very very unlikely, but still).  #3, I wanted to deactivate my phone service ASAP.  #4, I knew once I deactivate my phone service, I would no longer be able to locate or wipe it.

So after my hour long bus ride home, I did indeed manage to locate and wipe.  Then I told AT&T that my phone was stolen and that I wanted it deactivated.  The AT&T rep wanted to be sure it was in fact stolen.  They frequently hear of situations where the phone was just misplaced.  I told him I was certain it was stolen.  I asked him how often he hears people report the phone taken right out of their hands.  He said he'd never heard of it.

Next, I called my local police.  Right after I started explaining that I wanted to file a report, it dawned on me that I couldn't go to my local police department.  Why?  Remember the word "jurisdiction."  Since the crime was committed in Los Angeles, I couldn't report it to Torrance PD.  So I called Los Angeles Airport Police.

I started over, but the male officer stopped me and asked if I was at the front door.  I told him I wasn't, so he transferred me to a female officer who was playing Angry Birds.  I started over.  I used the word "stolen" so she told me I need to get a copy of my contact and bring it over to the station.

So I was a little confused already.  Apparently I needed to prove it was mine to begin with.  But keep in mind, I used the word "stolen."  My mistake.  In legal terms, that means something specific.  I'll get back to that.

Not having realized my mistake, now my goal is to find the six-foot-long receipt I got when I purchased my iPhone from the Apple Store.  I don't know where it is, but I find the box.  And Apple prints the unique serial number for each phone on the box.  So at least I had that.  But the sales contract is nowhere to be found.

So I decided that the phone bill will have to work.  They didn't say they wanted the phone bill, but come on.

Then I remembered that I opted for the paperless billing option with AT&T.  No problem, I'll just log into my account with their web site and print the last bill.  Nope.  Remember how I deactivated my service?  Well, that deactivates everything, including the billing tools.

Call AT&T again and explain the situation, again.  Plus added the detail about needing the contract but just wanted to print the last bill instead.  The rep said they would send me a copy of my bill at no charge, but it'll take 7 to 10 business days.

Later, I realize, that I don't need to deal with this.  My iPhone wasn't stolen, I was robbed, I thought.  I don't need a contract to move forward.  I just need to file a report that I was robbed.  Remember the word "robbed."

So the next day, I go to the Los Angeles Airport Police Department.

Me: "I've been robbed."

Male officer: "Ok, did this just happen?"

Me: "No, it was yesterday evening."

Male officer: "Why didn't you come in then?"

Me: "I didn't have any evidence for the report."

Male officer: "What kind of evidence?"

Me: "I have the serial number, the last ping location an hour after I was robbed."

The female officer, still playing Angry Birds, offers her insight at random.

He startes filling out the report, and asks where this happened.  I told him it was in the Parking Lot C Bus Terminal.  He pauses, then looks up and says, "Do you want to do this legitimately?"

I've learned to stop talking when someone says something completely, utterly stupid.  I kept silent and vacantly stared at him.

He went on to explain that the location where this happened was under the jurisdiction of LASO.  What is LASO?  LASO is the cute term they use to mean LASO, you idiot.  Don't you know what the LASO is?

Los Angeles Sheriff's Office.  Only, they don't officially call themselves that.  It's actually called Los Angels County Sheriff's Department.

Ok, so I wasted my time.  Funny thing is, I knew I was wasting my time from the beginning.  I knew the only reason I was filing a report was because people were going to tell me to file a report.  If I had said, "No no, I'm not going to file a report.  That's a waste of time," people would have said I was being hyperbolic or obtuse or Typical Anthony™.

Now, I have to actually waste my time in order to prove it's a waste of time.

So I go home and call the number I got from the "helpful" officer at Los Angeles Airport Police Department who wasn't playing Angry Birds but may as well have been.  It's disconnected.

Head, meet desk.

Google LASO.  No relevant results.  That's when I find out the real name of the department.  LASO must have been something they called it before the Internet or something.  I am now trying to locate the correct department among three regions of unincorporated sheriff departments.  None of them seem to be right.  There doesn't seem to be a central way to report crime.

So I start completely over.

I call METRO.  I ask them who I would contact iffen I have been robbed.  They give me a number to the Sheriff.

I get through to a deputy who puts me on hold for a long time.  Apparently there was a train wreck or something.  Now, this guy is actually professional.  I'm not kidding.  I tell him I was robbed, he tells me he'll determine that.  Ok, good.  I tell him the facts, he tells me, no actually, since I wasn't physically on the bus when this happened, Los Angeles Airport Police Department is actually the correct jurisdiction and that the information I had been given earlier that day was in fact erroneous.

Like I said, he was actually professional.  He told me he was going to call the correct office while I was on the line and make sure I got to the correct department this time.

So these other departments managed to defeat this deputy's very professional strategy.  Here's how.  They wouldn't take the call.  I actually heard them hand this nice deputy off to different departments until he gave up and called some kind of central number.  The central number answered with a recording:

"You must tell the operator where you want officers and why you want officers."

"The following message is for the hearing impaired ... "


[Other languages]

They actually pump the TTY noise into the recording so you have to hold the phone away from your ear.

The deputy and I listened to this loop for about 15 minutes.  He finally gave up and asked if he could call me back.

He called back and said he got someone who will call me back.  I thanked him and told him he was very professional.

Now, apparently the correct department was calling me back, right?

Someone from Los Angeles Airport Police Department called back.  She wasn't playing Angry Birds and told me to call this other number.  It won't result in a police report.  She told me if I wanted to file an actual report, I should probably call my local jurisdiction to ask for a courtesy report.

So that's it.  I'm not filing a police report.  I'm done.  It's a waste of time.

There's always a chance that a larger crime will be committed with my iPhone somewhere in the vicinity.  In that off chance, it'll be confiscated during the course of such an investigation.  At that point, the serial number will be reported to Apple, and matched up with my name.  I might get it back then.  I'd have better odds winning the cost of the phone in the lottery.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Using The Higgs Boson To Prevent Terrorism

Imagine an elaborate system to prevent terrorism by using the theoretical quantum particle known as the Higgs boson.

To do this, one must build a rigid set of guidelines with a directed point of failure.  The point of failure will be used to decide if a Higgs boson particle should be created.

This boson doesn't "want" to be created.  The Higgs boson is a particle that should not exist in this spacetime frame.  It only exists in other frames of space-time.  If we cause this boson to appear in this frame of space-time, we will create a paradox.  But basic causality will prevent the Higgs boson from appearing in this frame.  It's just a fact of nature.  It's a scientific law.

In this way, it's similar to lightening.  Lightening travels through the path of least resistance.  In the case of a temporal paradox, causality will use the easiest effect to prevent a cause.  Cause and effect are reversed in the situation of a paradox framework.

When I say "easiest," I am not referring to Occam's Razor.  The actual effect that prevents the cause may appear to us as the least obvious effect.  So directing the effect is very difficult.

I think the best way would be to use encryption.  Each airplane that we would like to protect will carry several encryption keys all over the plane.  They will be made of very fragile material.  Under normal circumstances, if they plane remains intact, they keys will be retrievable.  If the keys are retrievable, they can be returned to the facility that will decide to then not attempt to produce the Higgs boson particle.

The keys are encrypted in order to prevent counterfeit keys from entering the equation.

That's the setup.  To summarize: Got all the keys?  Yes, we do?  Ok, then we will make no attempt to produce the particle today.  We'll try again tomorrow with new keys.

The tricky thing to remember is that the Higgs boson particle will only be produced if and only if a key is missing.  The idea is to build a system that will mean the easiest way to break down key retrieval is to destroy an airplane.  Since that is the easiest thing to do, causality will require terrorism to become harder.

Got all the keys?  No?  Uh oh, one or more is missing?  Ok, we shall now attempt to produce the particle that "doesn't want" to be produced (which then prevents the terrorist attack in the past).

It is important to ensure that the Higgs boson particle will be created in earnest if even one key is missing.  If the key is missing because a plane was destroyed, it is imperative that they attempt to proceed.  Doing so will then produce the effect to prevent the cause.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bob the Builder Lives in a Socialist Society

Can I over-analyze everything?  Yes I Can!  Just remember that when you read this article.
So Bob the Builder is a children's TV show, depicting Bob as a building "contractor."  I use scare quotes because he doesn't ever formally contract with anyone. The show is broadcast in many countries, but originates from the UK.

One of the things I noticed is completely omitted from the show is the concept of money and economics.  Now, you might say that's fine because it's a children's show, so why complicate it with such ideas?

And you would be correct, except that I'm not talking about the lack of focus on these concepts.  I'm talking about the active and conscious omission of these topics.  Money in specific and economics in general are purposefully removed from the show.

Sure, maybe I'm over-analyzing.  Maybe I see things in a distorted way because of my views.  Not only that, but how does one prove a negative like this?  You can't.  So with that in mind, bare with me.

In "Snowed Under: The Bobblesberg Winter Games," there is a perfect opportunity to depict money or even just a credit card.  Bob checks into a hotel; Spud orders room service and even gets a job.  Yet there's no mention of cost or pay.

In "New To The Crew," the town's folk build all kinds of things out of an old willow tree.  "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!"  There is no association made between how much time it takes to do all these things and what the town's people could have been doing instead.  In economics, this is known as the "marginal alternative use" of resources.
The labor from the rest of the town is being hindered by the disposal of the old willow tree.  That is the marginal alternative use of this labor. Therefore, it is of utmost importance in this sector to be acquainted with the relevant investors and to manage the transaction process ideally.  That process is completely missing.  But it's not just ignored, it's actively omitted.

There are times when lack of labor is depicted.  But usually it is a result of poor character on the part of Bob's workforce (the machines do not represent automation, they represent labor only).  They are usually messing around and have a lesson to learn in the end.  Labor being misallocated never results in a labor shortage.  If there's a chance of labor shortage, Bob just brings in more machines with no explanation as to how they are acquired.

Bob and his team always evaluate the ability to accomplish the task by Bob asking, "Can we fix it?"  His team always enthusiastically responds with "Yes we can!"  But they never ask "Should we fix it?"  A socialist society would never be able to answer a question "Should we fix it?"
Is it better to have a bonfire with the wood from an old tree or have the whole town build random stuff with it?  Is it time to tear down a stricture or repair it?  They don't ever know the answers for sure.  This is because a socialistic society is blind without prices.

You might say that depicting intricate economic concepts like this is beyond children.  Most children's shows skip money.  On the other hand, Bob talks about intricate environmental and ecological concerns all the time.  They depict civics and regulations.  They even depict endless paperwork.  Wait, what?  So why not at least touch on economic concerns then?  Why this and not that?

Instead, economic ideas are purposefully removed.  The desire to simplify can lead to economic illiteracy, which we have plenty of already.  Granted, the show is meant for a world-wide audience.  To depict prices means showing currency, which might tie the show to a specific geographical locale.  But that's a lousy reason to omit something.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Monday, May 2, 2011

That Bin Laden Killing

I have some vague sense that many people are opposed to capital punishment, and for good reason, and especially when there is no trial and conviction, and yet we are expected uncritically to celebrate the death of Bin Laden at the hands of the U.S. state. The government needs glory and we are supposed to provide it, regardless of the cost (which, as Anthony Gregory points out, has been American liberty itself, in addition to possibly millions of lives). Lew Rockwell points out that there is a reason for the timing of this announcement. Regardless, so intense is the pressure not to question any aspect of this that the Cato Institute took the trouble to issue a note of congratulations and inform us all of what a “huge debt” we all owe to the government for its magnificence. The killing also permits simple minded people to imagine that all U.S. foreign policy struggles with Islam are due to one bearded guy with a grudge and have nothing to do with, for example, the American penchant for invading other people’s countries and stationing troops in the lands that Islam considers holy.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Road Trip, 2011

I meant to post this sooner but the time would always get away from me.  In fact, I started this post on the trip, thinking I'd be able to finish it along the way.  Yeah right.  I also lost part of the article in an error, so I had to reconstruct that part of it (mostly just image placement).  Anyway, here we go.

Karen let me load a GPS Tracker application on her phone so we could get data points for the entire trip.  I really appreciate her letting me record the data this way.  It meant she had to leave her phone in the GPS Tracker application, due to how it's designed.  Thanks, Karen.

This is more of an analysis of the road trip and the places we visited along the way.

We started our trip at about 10:00 AM on March 26th.  By the time we reached Richfield, nine and a half hours later, we had traveled 528.7 miles.  Well, you can see these kinds of stats in the map data.  And as I mentioned to my mother, 93 MPH is likely due to the speed required to overtake, and the fact that the speed limit in Utah is 80 MPH.

I could have also blamed GPS jitter on the recorded max speed.  GPS is not a reliable method for detecting speed.  A variance of 15% can easily be introduced by GPS technology.  But the fact is, I did indeed see the speedometer reach about 90+ MPH.

Of course, the "average speed" is incorrect.  This average is robotically calculated using the "portal-to-portal" method, not taking into account any stops along the way.

This route took us right through Las Vegas.  Hannah was impressed with the buildings, especially the ones with the gold windows.  The land forms gradually got more and more interesting as we briefly drove through Arizona then into Utah.  It really did look painted.  And in Utah, the land was just as colorful, but with the added detail of snow to top it off.

By the time we reached Richfield, the kids really had enough.  It really was "drive until you puke."  And it was a good thing we stopped when we did because there were no services for a very long time after that.

We stayed at the Comfort Inn, Richfield, at which Hannah was very impressed with the luggage cart she got to ride in.  Hannah also discovered a few constants.  She finds constants comforting, as many children do.  She is a self-saving princess when it comes to these details.  I guess it's a coping skill.  One constant she noticed was that each hotel has individually wrapped plastic cups.  They also usually have a pad of paper and a pen stashed somewhere for her to write with.

Also, come to find out, the room had quite a view, which the kids didn't notice until the next morning.  On your left was the indoor pool, in basically a greenhouse thing.  And directly in front was a giant pile of dirt.  If you know our kids, this view was absolutely mind-blowing.  Both Hannah and Benjamin were frantically working out their spacial reasoning to find a path to these attractions.  Didn't work.

We had our complementary breakfast and we were off again like a herd of elephants.

The snow was still high above us in Utah.  Notice the purple line along the 50, above.  This is a gap in the cellular signal for data (voice apparently worked alright, if you like that feature).  That purple line is also about the distance we saw "no services" signs, if I recall correctly.  There is really not a lot going on along the 50 in Utah.

Again the average speed was extremely low, this time because we stopped for lunch just after reaching the Colorado border.  We reached our first planned stop of the trip: Uncle Roddy & Aunt Heather in Eagle.  Or, as Benjamin and TJ would recall, if you asked them: The Place With the Working DVD Player!



The next morning, it snowed.

So I posted a picture of the snow on Facebook.  Not long after I posted the picture, I got a reply:

    • Bruce Snow?! I'll bet he's excited to see it. We've got some here in Colorado this morning too, poor little wet flurries trying so hard. They don't stand a chance on the warm spring ground.
      March 28 at 11:07am 
    • Anthony Yeah, that's Colorado snow, actually. :)
      March 28 at 11:59am 
    • Bruce Anywhere near Lakewood? Coffee's on!
      March 28 at 12:25pm 
    • Anthony It appears we are two or three hours away, and we're going in that direction. We'll bring the PB&J!
      March 28 at 2:08pm 

The drive out of Eagle seemed rather daunting due to all this new snow.  But the plows had already done their first passes, so we had asphalt most of the way.  Only commercial vehicles were "advised" to use chains.  Even so, all vehicles were expected (under threat of violence) to have chains just in case things got worse.


When we came down 5,000 feet, we were past most of the snow, for the moment.  It was a lovely visit Stormy and Bruce in Lakewood (except for the part where Benjamin threw a huge rock down the stairs).  We watched a Barney video, had PB&J, and talked.

  • Enjoyed our visit with Anthony Martin and family. Quote of the day: Hannah, on our porch, looking at the trees and the mountains - "Wow! Wow, this is so NICE! Wow! And in heaven it'll be even NICER!"

We found another Comfort Inn in Burlington just before entering Kansas.  The luggage cart was totally beyond Hannah's expectations.  It was gold and had a gold ball on top.  She thought it was simply lovely.  And Benjamin spotted a Doritos truck in the inn's parking lot and yelled "CHIPS!!"

The next day, it snowed.  Again.  And it rained the whole time we were driving in Kansas.  In fact, this part of our journey has the best travel stats of all legs going in that direction ...

One state.  One day.  Did you know Kansas has about fifty Oz Museums?  We did stop for Burger King in Kansas City.  We stated at the Econo Lodge, Chillicothe, which is a type of Best Western (according to a traceroute I ran out of their WiFi).  It was probably the best of all on this trip, except that they had no luggage cart.  There was no need for one since we parked right in front of our room.

Missouri is the state I got pulled over for driving too fast on the wrong lane (that's only the passing lane, I guess).  After presenting our papers, the trooper let us go with a wink and sort-of a verbal warning.  I didn't have to try to convince him that states don't exist or anything like that.  Yay!

Eventually we made our way to the house of my friend Aaron and his family.  Now Aaron would have me believe the Jackson Family was just on their best behavior due to the presence of the Martin Family.  But I think they're a nice bunch and he doesn't give them enough credit.


We also stopped off for a while at a mall in Indianapolis before reaching Columbus Ohio.  We stayed at the Super 8 in Ohio.

There is a really neat Burger King in Fredrick, Maryland.  That's where we had dinner before reaching our destination in Middletown, Delaware.  Here's the Burger King:


So we stayed a week in Delaware, on a farm.  Karen's grandparents have such a nice home.  Take a look:


We also visited some family in Virgina.  We had a blast spending the day with them.  We met everyone at Red Robin then set the kids loose at a nearby park.


I mostly documented the trip home on Facebook, so take a look at my wall for details about that.  We went to Virginia to see some more of Karen's family, saw the sites there, drove down to North Carolina and stayed a couple days.  After that, it was the long drive home.  Apparently we just missed the biggest tornados anyone has seen in a long time.

Would we do it again?  I think most certainly.  The drive was long, but I think it was worth it.  If anything, the country is smaller now to us because of this trip.  Now I personally know what we can tackle in a day and what we can tackle in a week.

All GPS tracking information provided on behalf of InstaMapper.com

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Evening of Eschatology The Meaning of the Millennium

You’re listening to An Evening of Eschatology

The following is background by John Piper on this event and the issues being discussed. Listen to the audio or watch the video for the conversation itself.

On September 27, 2009, Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary hosted “An Evening on Eschatology” at the Downtown Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. It was attended by about 800 people who sat in the darkened sanctuary while six cameras were trained on the brightly lit roundtable where the four participants sat in a circle.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog