Matt Hackmann

One good turn

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In my previous post, I mentioned the little "micro list" thing my mom is currently doing on her blog. Among these was a favorites list. Noticing that she had added a row for video games, I snarkily suggested she should have "favorite TNG character". To her credit, she devoted the entire next post to the topic of Next Generation. It's moments like these when I consciously consider the fact that my mom has a bit of a nerdy streak which is pretty cool.

But, enough of that, given that she went through the trouble of constructing that list, I feel it's only right that I do the same. So, following her parameters, here is mine:

1. Favorite Character - Gonna have to go with Picard on this one. How can you not respect the guy who is essentially a role model for humanity? Following closely behind would be Q, Data, and Riker (in no particular order).

2. Favorite Episode - Much to my mom's chagrin, I can't not give this award to Cause and Effect. I believe it's been mentioned before, but I love time travel stories and time loops in particular are a guilty pleasure of mine. On a funny aside, the first Google result for "enterprise keeps exploding" is the Wiki entry for this episode.

3. Least Favorite Character - You thought I was going to say Pulaski, didn't you mother? Well, despite the fact that I cannot stand her elitist attitude and the way she treats data, she's only number two in that regard. No, this coveted award goes to Tasha Yar, the overly emotional, too bull-headed security officer that preceded Worf. Her death is one of the shining moments of the series.

4. Favorite Doctor - I don't have much to say about Lwaxana Troi (though, I do enjoy the episodes she's in), but I do have words for the various doctors in the series, my favorite being (drumroll) the Doctor! Sure, the actual TV series only had Pulaski and Crusher (of two, I prefer the latter), but the good ol' EMH makes a wonderful yet brief appearance in First Contact making him eligible for this list. You can't not love his dickish, self-serving attitude and, as a main character on Voyager, was given much more time to be fleshed out as a character.

5. On the topic of Q - Who doesn't love Q? He's such an asshole, but a highly entertaining one (see above about the Doctor). Q episodes always tend to bring out the more interesting topics, such as "how would you relive your life given the chance"? He also introduced the Borg, which is kind of a big deal.

Okay, I have geeked out about Trek for long enough. I should run to the store to pick up ingredients for turkey soup. Should be a hoppin' good time.


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So, I've fallen off the horse on that daily blogging shit. Whatevs. Not much has been happening that's worth talking about or that I can talk about (NDA and all). Until today, that is.

When I woke up terribly sick.

Normally, I know when I'm getting sick the night before, but not this time. I woke this morning and started thinking that something didn't feel right. Snooze the alarm, attempt to sleep for another nine minutes. But I don't as I'm assessing the situation. Then it hits me: I feel sick. Well, that's not right. I get sick the night before; I should have known this is coming. My body, however, apparently had other plans. Alarm goes off again and I'm lying there deciding if I should go to work where we're currently in crunch time or stay home. I decide the latter and text the boss my physical and work status. I throw my phone on the floor and attempt to get rest.

But the weight of deadlines prevents me from getting much actual rest. I have a weird fever dream where I'm on a date eating hotdog ice cream. Well, kind of. It's actually a hotdog in an ice cream cone with a cone of chocolate on top. My date throws her cone on the ground and then proceeds to steal food from a good truck. I'm flabbergasted and am about to tell her off when I realize... this can't be real. Sure enough, it's not.

So, I get up, drink some juice and pop out the work laptop. After about an hour-ish of work, my body feels like it's actually going to start falling apart at the seams. So, I abandon work and crash on the couch figuring now would be a perfect time to catch up on the animus that I've not been watching lately. One episode each of Girls' Monthly Nozaki-kun, Hanayamata, and Sword Art Online later, I decide I should try to get some more work done. But, the 12 foot journey from my couch to my computer makes me realize that my health has actually declined in the time since I'd last been over there. I IM the boss my status and that this is the end of me, grab abother Advil and OJ, then head back to the couch.

Where I proceed to watch ten more episodes of Sword Art.

The show isn't bad, certainly better than the second half of season 1. However, I can't help but notice that Kirito is coming to rescue yet another damsel in PTSD distress. Fuck having strong female protagonists in that show; I just don't think the author has it in him to keep his initially strong females that way. Also, there are so many ass and taint shots of the main female character. Which is okay, I guess...

But, this isn't about SAO, it's about me being sick. As I'm watching all these episodes, I'm toying with the idea of getting a pizza. And get a pizza I do. It arrives ~40 minutes later and I chow down as I finish watching SAO. The pizza makes me feel a bit better, having filled the void in my stomach. And then sleepy.

I crawl into my bed where I try to get cool enough to fall asleep. It must have been successful, because the next thing I know the sun has gone down and the clock reads five hours later. I finish up the orange juice (which I am now sadly missing) and lie down on the the couch where I've basically ever since, power watching Fairly Odd Parents and Hey, Arnold!. At some point during that mess, I remembered that I have a thermometer. Curious, I take my temperature.


Well, that seems a bit high. I've been taking my temp a few times since, coming up with everything from 100 to 102.2. If I wasn't sure before, there's solid numerical evidence that I am pretty goddamn sick.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Those Damn Backgrounds

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As I was talking about yesterday, today I gave the card pattern a shot with regards to the past bracket page. As for the cards themselves, I'm really pleased.

The CARDinal rule is...

However, the background leaves a lot to be desired. Putting it against a solid color loses the energy that I've got going to the landing page and, in the end, just looks empty. There's not enough content here to fill up all that empty space. So, I tried playing around with the layout some.



Not really satisfied with any of those. Perhaps I should take a photo that has less going on, something that could be centered more. Or perhaps I rework the cards themselves to fill more space on the page.

I dunno, back to pushing pixels.

Designing with Materials

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So, I found my bike pump. Turns out I stashed it in the back of my car at some point. Probably that time I drove down to San Mateo to bike into work (as I'll be doing very early tomorrow morning).

As I begin spinning up the ol' design gears readying myself for the inevitable yearly update to the bracket, I was scanning the docs for Google's Material specs. Interesting stuff, for sure, and an aesthetic I really like. That in mind, I attempted reworking the bracket selection page somewhat in this style. Failed miserably, but it was an interesting night of exploration.


The thought of a full screen selection page was kind of nice for about the first 30 minutes, but has since lost its appeal. Also, finding the right kind of imagery to pull that off would be difficult. On top of all that, not really pleased with the typography.

I think the better patter to use in this case would be a card. This will scale better with more brackets, will be easily transferrable to the other bracket site that's been spin from all of this, and also easily made for mobile devices. We'll see how that one goes.

And I would bike 500 miles

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But I wouldn't bike 500 more. At least, not within the span of a month.

This morning, as a friend and I were biking our disappointment of not biking away, he made a comment about attempting to hit 500 miles by the end of the month. Though I grunted an agreement, my thoughts were skeptical. However, as I was biking this evening, attempting to bring my total milage for the week above my goal of 50, I considered how I might go about this without killing myself.

Truth be told, it wouldn't be all bad.

Let's consider that today is the 7th and that I have 23 more days with which to achieve my goal. I've already biked 51.7 miles, so that leaves only 448.3 miles to go. Let's crack out some math:

448.3 / 23 = ~19.5 miles per day

Might seem high, but actually quite attainable. Let's break it down piece by piece.

Five days a week, I can bike to work from home. It's about 6.3 miles in each direction, so that'd be 12.6 miles. Lately, I've been enjoying doing an end-to-end-and-back-again ride on my street, which is just shy of ten miles even. So, on any given work day, I could bike 22.5 miles. With 17 work days left in the month, that would be:

22.5 * 17 = 382.5

Now to figure out the other 65.8 miles.

One way to do this would to simply continue my ten mile evening ride on the weekends. There are six weekend days left in the month, so that'd be 60 miles. Of course, there's no reason why I couldn't do something a little longer, such as a bike to San Jose and back. On average, these run about 20 miles, so trade out one ten mile ride for that and I'm already there.

But, let's assume I don't want to bike every day. Let's also assume that I'll be doing some riding from San Mateo (because I most certainly will).

The ride from San Mateo to Mountain View is on the order of 25.5 miles. Were I to do just one of those per week (let's assume Tuesdays), I could get four of those in. Here's the new workday break down:

13 * 12.6 + 4 * 25.5 + 4 * 6.3 + 17 * 10 = 461

So, that's 13 days of biking to and from home and work, four days of San Mateo -> work -> home, and then doing that short ten mile ride every evening. Suddenly, my weekends are free to collapse onto the couch and do nothing :D. Now, let's see how many calories this would burn (using some quickly head-calculated averages):

13 * 500 + 4 * 850 + 4 * 250 + 17 * 300 = 16,000 calories

So, basically 16 Taco Bell box meals if I don't drink soda. But, in actuality, I could eat more.

Because just living also burns calories...