A Goodbye to Gizmo, My Hacker Cat

On Friday, my family and I said goodbye to our cat Gizmo. She was about 21 years old, and she was in my life for 18 of them.


Her brother Diego died in 2018, and I thought she would follow close behind him. For years I have been preparing myself for this day, trying not to take her presence for granted.

It still hits hard.

Despite eventually learning that Diego was the greeter, I knew Gizmo was always the brave one. When I first met the cats, she was the one who came out of the carrier first. And each time I’ve moved, she was the first one out to explore the new home.

And I recall my first time meeting Gizmo. My friends let out their own cats to meet them, and Gizmo promptly lay down and, without directly looking at their big cat, growled an amazing growl.

She was the chillest, most calm cat. She never bit anyone, and yet when she did have a rare growl, it was a good growl.

Gizmo doing her "I'm Batman" impression

The only time she ever came close to biting was after I had been away for a long trip. Upon my return, she meowed and licked my fingers, periodically nibbling at them. I took it to mean that she missed me and was upset that I was gone for so long.

Gizmo seemed to enjoy car rides. She always liked to see what was going on outside the windows. On her first drive, I remember her sitting in the console, looking out the front window before eventually finding her way to the side windows, with her paws up while she watched the world go by.

She was mostly quiet and kept to herself, especially around strangers, but when she wanted to cuddle, it would not matter what you were doing. She would let you know, and she would get in your lap, or on your chest, or in your arms.

Or at least with me. My wife says that it took three years before Gizmo would sit on her lap.

And even then, if I showed up on the couch, often Gizmo would make her way to cuddle with me.

Often when I was at my desk, she would jump up and get into my lap, and sometimes she would sit facing the computer as if she was the one at the keyboard. So I called her my hacker cat.

Gizmo the hacker cat

Gizmo the hacker cat

Gizmo the hacker cat

Gizmo and Diego were adorable together, especially when they slept. And often they would sleep draped across me.

Gizmo & Diego

Gizmo & Diego

Gizmo & Diego

Gizmo & Diego

Right before her brother passed away, we learned Gizmo had high blood glucose levels, and after changing her diet, she bounced back.

And that was the theme for her health woes for the next handful of years: she would be relatively fine, then one day she would seem to get terribly sick or otherwise seem to be in a poor quality of life, then we’d think, “This must be the end,” and then she’d bounce back, albeit sometimes at a lower baseline than before.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I started working from home regularly for the day job, Gizmo became a minor celebrity on my team calls. People would sometimes greet her before they greeted me, in fact. B-)

Gizmo getting involved in my team meetings

Our routine was that I would get her breakfast, clean her litter boxes, then get to work in my office, and she would join me on the chair next to me, sleeping there or cuddling on my lap.

Gizmo my on-site remote coworker

If I took too long of a break, she would let me know to get back to the office.

But sometimes she would be an enabler and take breaks with me.

Gizmo taking a break with me

Over the last few years, I’ve seen her health decline very slowly. She had a lump on the back of her neck, and it grew to be pretty big, and it turned out it was a slow-growing cancer. The vet removed the lump but they said they couldn’t get everything, and so we had no idea how long we had with her.

Each time her behavior changed in a way that made me worried, I was at the vet with her. They always said she was incredibly healthy for her age.

But Gizmo started slowing down. I used to worry about her jumping up and eating my plant by the window, but eventually her attempts to jump up failed, and after awhile she stopped trying.

She used to jump up into my lap, or the chair next to me and the desk, but there were days when she wouldn’t make the jump successfully. For some time now, I would pick her up when she came into the office and looked up at me expectantly, and when I was on the couch, which was lower, the same story played out. One day, it just became too hard for her to jump up, so I would need to pick her up.

Our neighbors have little children, and when we would leave town, they would sometimes cat sit for us. Their children called our house “Gizmo’s House” and, despite her being such an old cat who mostly ate and slept, they loved her, and she was very tolerant of them showering her with attention.

Sometime back she became quite deaf, and while I could tell she could still sense the vibration of a loud noise, she wouldn’t necessarily be able to detect where it was coming from. Like with Diego, I used to whistle and she would sometimes come to me, but then came the day when I realized she was getting startled because she didn’t know I was right behind her.

Sometime in the last month or so, I think Gizmo lost some of her eye sight. She seemed to lose track of the laser pointer dot in a way that I didn’t expect, and I noticed that when she walked up stairs that she seemed to get startled with each step when her face would brush against it.

Her blood work recently showed issues with her kidneys, and she was already standing awkwardly. Her tail tucked to the side. We could tell she was in pain, probably due to the combination of her kidneys, the slow-growing cancer which has had years to grow, and general arthritis, and she had been for some time.

She was still eating and using the litterbox, and I was told by friends that I’d know if things were at the end if she had more bad days than good. We had seen her bounce back from what seemed like death’s door multiple times. She didn’t seem like she was so bad that euthanasia made sense yet, and I definitely didn’t want to end her life prematurely.

But one day last month she seemed weak and struggled to stand, and despite bouncing back for a few weeks after that, we knew her quality of life was getting bad and would only get worse. Last week she tripped getting out of her bed, and she didn’t land very well when she jumped out of my office chair. Both were things that were seeming to happen more often. Her quality of life was clearly deteriorating.

So we made the hard decision to say goodbye before she suffered for much longer, a decision I wish I had made with Diego at the end of his life.

I called the vet in the morning to make an appointment for that evening. It was a weird feeling to know with so much certainty that it was the last day I would spend with her. I took off the afternoon from the day job so I could spend as much of her remaining time with her.

Gizmo, I love you. I’ll miss the sound of your purrs when I held you close to me. I’ll miss singing Stray Cat Strut to you. I claim it was your favorite song, and while I don’t know if it actually was, it was my favorite one to sing to you. I’ll miss the way you would press your head into my hand when I was petting you. I’ll miss needing to worry about accidentally rolling over you in my office chair since you sometimes hung out behind it and waited for me to notice you on the floor next to me. I’ll miss how sometimes you didn’t wait for me to notice and would paw up at my chair to let me know you wanted me to pick you up. I’ll miss seeing you shortly after you finished eating with a little bit of food on your nose. I’ll miss the way you would lie across my chest or my arm when I was doing my morning exercises on the floor, and I miss sleeping next to you on the couch, or on the floor.

Me and Gizmo

I hope you felt loved right until the very end, and you didn’t feel pain anymore.

After 18 years of having a pet in my life, there is a hole in my daily routine, and in my home. I no longer have Gizmo to greet first thing in the morning. The place where her food and water used to be is now a blank space. Eventually her Boppy pillow that she used as a bed will also disappear, and so will her basket of toys.

My wife said that she thinks I might not realize it because I didn’t grow up with pets, but my relationship with my cats was special. She has never seen cats with such a devotion to their human, and she said it was this amazing co-dependent relationship “in a good way.” She said my cats were spoiled and had such a good life.

And I hope they did.

General Personal Development

Happy Indie Day to Me

May 21st is my own personal Independence Day. Even after running out of money and returning to corporate welfare, it’s a day that holds a lot of meaning for me.

10 years ago, I went to Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant to celebrate my last day working at a company that made slot machines.

Chief O’Neill’s is where we went to send people off whenever someone moved or changed jobs, and I remember realizing that no one was organizing an outing to do so for my last day.


I told everyone that I was going to Chief’s, and for the remainder of the afternoon, people from work came in and out, hung out with me, and wished me luck on my next endeavor. It was a pleasant time.

Two weeks before, I had given my notice that I was quitting to pursue full-time indie game development.

Rereading the comments from other indies and friends from my blog post about going full-time indie brings tears to my eyes every time. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive. And I love how since that time I’ve even met some of you in person!

When I reported how things were going 6 months into my indie journey, which was frankly embarrassingly not well due to a lack of focus and direction, I got even more advice and encouragement.

You know, I miss everyone being into blogging rather than toxic social media.

Anyway, within a couple of years, I ran out of money and ended up back in a job, as I said. I wrote a bit about it in I Have a Day Job Again, but it was hard to go back to a day job, partly because I felt like I had squandered an opportunity.

I remember the first day. The commute felt foreign. Sitting in a cube and seeing everyone else sitting in their cubes felt foreign and familiar at the same time. I remember it feeling wrong.

And then I remember the day when I noticed that the day job didn’t feel different anymore, when it felt normal and I hadn’t noticed, and it was another sad day for me.

When I went back to having a day job, I figured it would be for just a couple of years at most. I would do what I did before, working on my business on the side, saving up money, and building myself a runway.

I’ve been working a day job for about 8 years now.

Most of the following comes from a tweet thread I did late last year.

10 years ago, I took a leap, and I hovered for a bit, but then fell.

I’d like to say that I’ve been trying to get back up in the air ever since, but things are different for me now.

Actually, I’ve considered myself an indie game developer for about 20 years, most of it very, very part-time.

I struggle with whether I can still call myself an indie game developer due to my lack of significant output in all that time.

When I was five years into it, I once asked a question on IRC & the response I got was not terribly helpful. That’s fine. But it ended with “I wouldn’t worry about it at this stage.”

Me: This stage?

Them: As a beginner.

I felt quite insulted at the presumption, but then again, I hadn’t shipped anything in those five years.

I have both the identity of a veteran and a never-was. It’s a weird place to be to think that I don’t have a beginner’s mind about game dev when maybe I need it more than ever, but, like, no, kid, you don’t need to introduce the concept of a navmesh to me.

And since I’m older, married, and have kids, plus have some volunteer work, my indie game development time is a lot more constrained than it used to be.

I used to have this fear that time was running out, that I needed to work faster to get something out before it was too late.

And by too late, I mean I was worried that once kids entered the picture, if I hadn’t gotten my business off the runway, it wasn’t going to get off that runway.

I feel like, 20 years later, I have the skills, the knowledge, the business sense, and more, but I’m not practicing it regularly, so I’m atrophying and falling behind.

Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for stress and anguish, but it’s hard sometimes seeing others building upon past successes while I’m still trying to build upon past failures. They are inspiring, but they’re also a reminder that I’m not as far along as I thought I’d be by now.

My priorities aren’t the same. Some people take on mortgages and credit card debt to get their runway extended and give their all. I never went into debt, but I quit my job once and had no income for a year while I tried to make indie dev work.

I’m not in that position anymore.

I think if I had a 2nd chance to focus full-time on indie game dev, I would do a much, much better job of running my business as a business, unlike last time when I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels on unfocused game dev and almost nothing on customers or marketing.

But I’m no longer in that position.

I have a family to take care of.

So my current indie game development plan for the last few years has been to slowly build up something until it becomes my primary source of income.

I just worry that there is such as thing as “too slow” and that I’m fooling myself.

I always had it in my head that one day I would eventually be a full-time indie game developer again.

Today’s not that day.

But today I am a husband, a father (that one is still new), an advocate for transgender rights, a speaker, a writer (even though I don’t blog as regularly as I used to), and a very, very part-time indie game developer.

My life is very full, and I often stress myself out trying to fill it even more, especially when I don’t see what’s there for what it is.

Part of it is greed. I want to experience and learn EVERYTHING. I want to turn my backyard into a garden. I want to learn how to play guitar. I want to learn Italian and maybe another language. I want to learn how to cook. I want to play soccer regularly again.

And I am running into the limitations of doing all of that while I have a day job AND a part-time business AND volunteer work AND being with family.

I’ve always liked the idea of being a Renaissance man. Why pigeon-hole myself into a single job or identity?

But, hoo, I’ve discovered in the last year or two that there are limits, and sacrificing sleep is a loser’s game, it turns out.

I realized I needed to start saying no to things a long time ago, but I haven’t quite internalized how much I have to say no to.

I had a side contract that I finished recently, which freed up the limited time I currently dedicate to it, but what kind of effort can I dedicate to my business?

Again, I worry there is a minimum amount of time and effort that I’m not going to be able to give with my current plan of working on my business on the side.

It would be one thing if I was Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a mountain and having to do it again and again. It’s another if I am barely budging the boulder while it grows moss.

I don’t know if I am mourning a past life or just the illusion of it.

I still identify as an indie game developer. I still expect that I will make games in the future as an indie game developer.

But what if I’m wrong?

This isn’t Imposter Syndrome. I don’t worry that I’ll be found out that I’m a fraud.

It’s more like I’m concerned that I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’m an indie game developer when any independent observer would think, “Eh, but are you really?”

I moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 2010 thinking that I would be a major driver of the indie game development scene, and instead I’ve been MIA from local meetups for many months. I have only recently been getting back into it, and I don’t have the energy or time to be a real leader there. I’ve had to be fine with being a participant who just happens to have access to the admin discussions.

I haven’t participated in game jams in years, and that was at least an area I could point at and say “See what I did as a game developer?”

The only fully complete game I’ve made commercially is from 2016. The contract game is finished and out, so that’s something to feel good about, but other than a name in the credits, it’s not really my game.

But I think the priority I give my indie game development isn’t where I would like it to be. There are competing priorities, and that’s a big part of the struggle I have with my identity as an indie game developer. A giant chunk of my waking hours are taken up with Not Game Dev, and the things that are Not Game Dev? Well, I’m not willing to sacrifice them for a variety of reasons.

And since I’m getting older, I’m finding myself getting tired sooner. It could be the lack of exercise? But it’s a phenomenon that I’ve noticed. So I don’t find myself spending as much time pushing past sleep to try to get some productivity in because I just can’t do it like I used to.

Still, May 21st is my Indie Day.

And I can lament all that isn’t going well when it comes to being an indie game developer, but what blessings can I count?

  • My business has a purpose, vision, and mission. It didn’t 10 years ago. My definition of success is not merely the default “I’m making money making games” and instead is focused on encouraging curiosity and supporting creativity.
  • My contract game development for the last two years has allowed me to throw significant money into my business accounts. It’s not quit your job money, but it’s money that means my business has turned a real profit for the first time in many years.
  • It also means that I have some money to spend on making my games better than they could be if I didn’t have the resources.
  • My 2016 game, which hasn’t seen an update in a few years, is now available for iOS and has new updates coming.
  • My insistence on ignoring the current hotness, whether it was Flash or Unity or casual game portals, and focusing on just doing what I was doing means that after all of these years, what I’m doing is still relevant somehow. Continuing to use C++ and SDL2 and focusing on supporting multiple platforms means that my games aren’t lost to some 3rd party’s decision to obsolete their technology. It might mean I don’t get to take advantage of some neat developments in existing game engines, but it also means that when something goes wrong, I feel empowered to figure it out and fix it rather than frustrated that someone else is not doing so for me.
  • I’ve got years of experience and insight into what does and does not work for me, and I know what I’m willing and not willing to do.

So happy Indie Day to me. It’s been years since I was a full-time indie game developer, and it might be years before I can do it again, but I was independent once, and it will forever be a part of me.

General Personal Development

Dealing with No Longer Being Player 1 in My Own Home

My wife and I gave our son a Nintendo Switch for Christmas.

In the week leading up to the day, it dawned on me: this will be the first video game console in my home that wasn’t mine.

I mean, I think the Atari 2600 was the family’s console. But otherwise, my parents gave me an NES. I saved up and bought myself a Game Boy, opting to get the system without a game so I didn’t have to save so much allowance to get it. Santa got me an SNES. I bought myself an N64, then a Gamecube. A friend gave me a Famicom with a few games when he came back from Japan. A girlfriend gave me a Nintendo DS. I got a great deal on a used Wii as it came with a bunch of games, then my wife got me a Wii U. I believe I had a Tiger electronic handheld of Pitfighter of all games, as well.

In case you’re wondering, I never had a non-Nintendo console other than Sega Genesis someone gave me when they couldn’t get rid of it at a garage sale. I never played it. I used to be a partisan of the console wars, but I haven’t cared about it since high school. But I also didn’t care enough to get an Xbox or Playstation in the years since. I much prefer PC games these days anyway, and specifically look for games that run on my Linux-based system.

Anyway, the point is that every console in my life has been mine to play whenever I wanted to.

And now the Switch…isn’t? How does this new world order function?

When I was younger, no one in my family cared about video games. My mother would play Tetris on her Game Boy, sure, and I would play games with my sister, but I was always Player 1. She gets to claim credit for finishing Super C before I did, but I claim that I carried her to the end and she stole one of my lives and happened to land the finishing blow that I had worked hard to get to. Otherwise, if a game was being played in my home, odds were very good that it was me doing the playing.

The games were mine. I subscribed to magazines about games. I bought RPGs, platformers, strategy games, and more. I was given games as gifts for years of birthdays and holidays.

And I’m not sure how things have changed exactly, but I know it would be presumptuous of me to assume I could just use my son’s Switch without asking. I mean, we gave it to him, so I should not act like it belongs to me or the family.

The day after Christmas, he asked me to play Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle with him, a game I was delighted to discover was a Mario-themed turn-based tactics game. I said I would love to play a game with him.

And then he handed me the second controller. Huh.

When my friends and I would play games at each others’ houses, the unwritten rule was that Player 1 was the person who’s house you were at. A college friend said he had a different upbringing, that wrestling matches would start to fight for control of Player 1, but where I came from, it was peaceful and understood. Player 1 was the home team, and Player 2 was the visiting team.

Realizing that I am now Player 2 in my own home is weird.

But I think this weirdness is something I’m still getting used to as the father of adopted children. We went from 0 to 8yo and 10yo very quickly here over a year ago, and part of what I am getting used to is the idea that my children are going to be given a lot of my time, effort, attention, and resources, that my time isn’t just mine anymore, and that one of my goals is to help my children become more capable of reaching their goals.

In another example, my son came home from the library with a collection of Archie comics, so I pulled out a tote I’ve been carrying around with me since the 90s with all of the Archie digests and comics I used to get. I told him to be careful with it all, but frankly it is more about him learning to take care of his and other people’s things than it is about me caring about my old comics. I don’t care about the comics anymore. I haven’t read them in forever. They might as well be read by him, and to be a lesson in how to take care of things that can be ruined if you’re careless is a bonus.

I’m finding myself sharing stories about toys I played with when I was a child. I have given him some of my collectible cards I have held onto for decades. Some of my old books are now on his shelf in his bedroom. We’ve played games on older consoles before, often with me watching him play through a game I have fond memories of.

But these were always things that were mine to pass down to him, sometimes like relics of my past, and sometimes as junk I have no use for. I was in charge and making the decision to let him have access to things I thought were important to me, and so I hope he likewise finds value in them. I once let him play a Mega Man game to see how he would handle something that was Nintendo Hard(tm) and not as forgiving as Minecraft. I have also withheld things I didn’t think he was ready for, such as some movies I enjoyed as a child (it turns out that PG meant different things in the 80s than it does now) or anything I was worried he’d get jelly or something else on (kids are gross).

But the Switch was never mine. It was his first. It is at his discretion whether or not I play games on it.

He has become Player 1. And I realize now more than ever that, as a parent, I am a non-player character in someone else’s adventure.

Game Development Geek / Technical General Personal Development

Derek Yu’s Updated Pixel Art Tutorial

In ancient times, around 2005, Derek Yu of Spelunky fame created a 10-step pixel art tutorial. It took you through the process of creating a cartoonish lucha lawyer, including brief discussions on lines, shading, dithering, and more.

Derek Yu's pixel art luchador
As seen in’s history of Derek’s old site.
Also, Derek, please don’t sue me.

Yu recently tweeted that he’s rebooted the tutorial, which can now be found at and takes you through drawing an orc.

Derek Yu's orc from start to finish
Who would win, this orc or the law?

It’s a more detailed tutorial, and it shows what Yu has learned about teaching pixel art with almost 15 years more experience since the original was created.

There’s also a tutorial about common pixel art mistakes to go with it, so you can see what you’re doing wrong as you try to follow along.

Thanks for contributing to the world of game making, Derek Yu!

Games General

Come See Toytles: Leaf Raking and Continent Race at 60 FPS Fest

GBGames will have a table at 60 FPS, “a festival for videogames, boardgames, and illustration” taking place tonight from 5:00pm – 9:00pm at Mainframe Studios, located at 900 Keosauqua Way, Des Moines, IA.

There are three floors to explore with over 70 studios full of talented artists and arts non-profits, a nacho bar, a photo giveaway, arcade games, board games, virtual reality, and more.

I will be showing off two games.

Toytles: Leaf Raking

One is my own leaf-raking business simulation game Toytles: Leaf Raking, which puts you in the role of a budding entrepreneur looking to earn enough money to buy yourself the Ultimate Item(tm)! It’s a game designed to teach responsibility and strategic thinking, currently available for Android and soon for iPhones and iPads.

The other is a game I’ve been working on for two and a half years for Byron’s Games called Continent Race: World Puzzle. It’s a geography game in which you locate and place countries on a world map, earning stars along the way. It will be available for Android, iPhones, and iPads soon.

The story of Byron’s Games is incredible and inspirational, and I’m fortunate and honored to be part of their efforts to help other kids. An extended hospital stay and a passion for geography gave Byron the inspiration to help other kids learn and have fun — at the same time! Bryon’s Games also has a Continent Race board game which I’ll also have at the table. You can get the Continent Race board game and know that a portion of Byron’s Games profits benefit select children’s charities.

So if you’re in Des Moines, come see me at the Fest! I’d love to talk with you!


A Goodbye to Diego, My Favorite Pair Partner

At 2:44am, I watched my cat Diego take his final breath. He was about 15 years old, and I knew him for 12 of those years.


12 years ago, I was living in Chicago and visiting friends in Iowa, and I learned that their neighbor’s daughter was getting married to someone who was deathly allergic to her cats. She was looking for a new home for them, and since I happened to be interested in getting a couple of cats at the time, I took in Diego and his sister Gizmo when they were three years old.

I was told that he was named Diego because he looked like Diego from the movie Ice Age.

Gizmo and Diego

I quickly learned that Diego was a greeter. While his sister hid until she was sure the new people were safe, Diego was always interested in finding out who the new guests were right away.


I remember when I was working at a company that made slot machines, and I was in crunch. So, I would leave early, come back late, and I would feel dead inside. I would plop myself onto the couch or a chair, and soon the cats would drape themselves across me. Diego would especially love to curl up with me. Napping together was great.

Me and Diego
Diego and Me
Diego cuddle time
Diego and Me

Even when I was not involved in crunch, whenever I came home, Diego would get up from whatever he was doing, meow frantically, and come see me. I would often pick him up and carry him, and he sometimes put his front paws around me like he was a child being carried by a parent.

I would whistle a certain way, and he often meowed in response, and every so often he would come to me, which was a neat party trick, except he never seemed to want to do it at parties or when other people were present.

Diego is hamming it up

Diego and his sister have been with me through five moves, two states, multiple Ludum Dare competitions, three jobs, and a few relationships. He has been my constant companion for almost a third of my life.

I don’t remember exactly when I realized he was growing old, but it was within the last few years. I might have been tossing him one of his toys and noticing that he was less interested in chasing it. He moved a little slower. But he was still playful, and he was fairly healthy throughout his life. I had to take him to the vet once to get some of his teeth pulled because they were not healthy, but he was fine.

I felt, however, I was on notice, and I realized that one day he might not be around anymore.

In the past couple of months, Gizmo had high blood glucose levels, and so she was on insulin to see if it would help. I changed their diet from dry food to wet food, as I read it can help with reversing diabetes. Gizmo’s levels dropped to the point that she no longer needed insulin, and she eventually bounced back to her old self.

Unfortunately, since I was so focused on Gizmo’s health and her eating habits, I didn’t notice when Diego stopped eating and drinking. They both lost weight, but I chalked it up to a better diet (they were both a bit on the heavy side), but at one point I realized that Diego felt a lot bonier than I could remember. I started to find him hanging out in strange areas, such as the upstairs bathroom, which is never a good sign in cats.

Last week we took him to a vet, and we made an appointment for an ultrasound for this coming Monday, but Diego’s health rapidly declined. It was very quick how he went from seeming perfectly fine to being on his death bed. I checked up on him throughout the day yesterday, but he got so weak that he could barely hold himself up.

My wife and I took shifts to stay with him last night, and when it was my turn, I found he was breathing very shallow breaths. He yowled a bit, and I had no idea if he could see me. I sang to him, talked to him, and pet him. I noticed his paw twitching, and every so often he would take a very large breath, stop breathing for a moment, then pick back up with the shallow breaths. It was awful.

At one point, I saw him stretch his paw out in front of him, which was a lot more movement than I had seen in a long while. A few moments later, he reared his head back, let out a deep groan of a sigh, and he was gone.

I am devastated. I don’t know why his health suddenly got so bad, and I hate that I didn’t see it earlier. I wish he didn’t have to go through as much suffering in his final moments as he did.

Diego, I love you. I will miss the way you climbed onto me whenever I was sitting or lying down. I will miss scratching you under your chin and seeing you close your eyes in contentment. I will miss dancing with you. I will miss your hugs. I will miss how you and Gizmo would curl up to sleep together. I will miss how it feels to come home and have you be one of the first to greet me as I walk in the door. I will miss how you would reach up to my face and pull it towards yours, probably to smell my breath or lick my chin.

I miss you.

My Favorite Pair Partner

Games General

Merry Christmas!

When I was younger, I loved the challenge of sneaking around the house during the holidays to find my Christmas presents before Christmas Day.

I like I think I was pretty good about it, too. I would sometimes find the already-wrapped boxes above the china cabinet or in my parents’ dresser.

Once I located the packages, I would slowly peel back the tape, being careful not to rip the wrapping paper. Then I would peek at what was inside, and after seeing the picture on a box or a name in big, bold letters, my curiosity would be satisfied. I’d replace the tape, and no one would be the wiser. Or at least I thought so. Maybe I believed I was sneakier than I really was.

One year, however, I went a little far. Well, ok, a lot far.

At that time, what had just been released for the N64 was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

I didn’t preorder it, so I didn’t get the cool gold cartridge, but I knew my mother had gotten me the game for Christmas.

But who could wait that long?

So I found the box, peeled back the gift wrapping on one end, sliced through the shrink wrap, opened the box, took out the game, and replaced it with another to ensure that the weight of the gift felt the same. I believe I used Body Harvest since I wasn’t playing that much at the time.

I think I played the game for two weeks before Christmas, and as far as I know, no one noticed that I was playing a game that I wasn’t supposed to have yet. When I opened my gift on Christmas day, I showed a lot of gratitude, and when no one was looking, I put Body Harvest back in my collection of games and continued playing Ocarina of Time from my last save point.

At some point, my family started double-wrapping my presents, which meant that I could no longer carefully peel back the tape and wrapping to see what I was going to get. I would just see more wrapping paper, and I wasn’t going to risk ripping it and giving away the fact that I had found the presents.

Today, my own home is preparing for the holiday. As of this writing, the stockings are stuffed, including the ones for the cats.

Christmas 2016 - Stockings Stuffed

Christmas 2016 - Cat Stocking

Hopefully Diego and Gizmo don’t sneak a catnip toy before the morning.

May you enjoy sharing tales with loved ones of the glories of Christmases long, long ago. Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!


WordPress Removing End Tags? Here’s Why

So I was writing a very large post recently, and I found that when I checked the preview that there was a huge section of the post in a blockquote.

I checked, and I found a missing </blockquote>. I figured I missed it when I originally wrote the opening tag, and instead of quoting a few lines, I found the remainder of my post quoted, which is not what I wanted.

So I added it after double-checking the quote to see where it ends and where the rest of my post starts, saved, and refreshed the preview.

It still looked wrong.

And when I checked the editor window again, I found that the </blockquote> was missing again!

What’s weird is that I was using </blockquote> successfully in a number of other areas of my post, so what’s different?

It turned out that I had copied and pasted some output from my terminal earlier in the post:

[armeabi] Compile thumb : main < = SDL_android_main.c

See that less-than sign? Apparently it was being interpreted as an opening to a tag. Maybe. I’m still not sure.

But everything worked as expected once I replaced each instance of


with the HTML code


And now I can blockquote the appropriate text and not worry about having the end tag automatically removed without explanation.

And now so can you. You’re welcome.


Merry Christmas

It finally snowed here in Des Moines, so there is a lovely blanket of white on the grass, but not enough snow to cover the streets and driveways, which is courteous of the winter, when you think about it.

I’m looking forward to a day of games, classic movies, and food enjoyed with my wife and her family.

I hope you’re spending time with loved ones and getting a chance to reflect on the things you are grateful for.

Merry Christmas, readers!

Games Geek / Technical General Politics/Government

Why Does Your Game App Need My Browser History and Photos?

Years ago, I started paying attention to the usage of so-called digital rights management (DRM) in games and made my purchasing decisions accordingly. I might have missed out on some major cultural impacts, but I wasn’t going to passively accept what I thought was a draconian form of copy protection. A form of protection that, by the way, doesn’t even work most of the time, so only legitimate customers get punished.

In practice, it meant not buying many major games. Spore is one very famous example, and I wrote a bit about it in this post about it’s reception in the market. Reading it today, I can see I was a bit angry about the DRM:

Do I like the game? I haven’t played it. Apparently Spore has some crappy so-called DRM solution attached to it, and it’s definitely not available for Gnu/Linux, so my choice is to boot up Windows AND suffer this DRM crap, or play a different game on my preferred system. It’s too bad. If things were different, I’m sure I would have liked Spore, too, but I refuse to pay for a steak dinner delivered on a garbage can lid.

Ooh, burn!

It was my attitude, and it still is today, partly because DRM is fundamentally flawed and partly because it’s a system that makes it easier to be a criminal.

But this post isn’t really supposed to be about DRM. Today, I find myself concerned about downloading free-to-play games on my smartphone that require bizarre permissions.

Recently, I was looking for a good strategy or simulation game to play on my Android smartphone. I found some that seemed promising and popular, and I found myself stopped when I clicked the install button because the requested permissions were ridiculous.

Why does this game need access to my browser bookmarks and history? Or why does that game need access to my photos?

Actually, it seems that Google’s API just doesn’t allow very fine-grained control of what is and isn’t allowed to be accessed by an app. According to this What’s on Dave’s Droid? post, if an app needs access to the state of the phone to know when to minimize if a call is coming in, it has to get that information from the same permission that gives it access to the identity of who is calling.

And this isn’t a new story. I’ve just only become aware of the problem myself.

I get that the permissions section can’t be too complex for the user experience. People don’t read EULAs as it is, and I’m sure many apps are perfectly safe, but is it weird that we’re being so trusting of apps by hoping that they don’t cross a line we’ve given them permission to cross? Especially in a world where we know we’re being spied on?

For now, I feel that I need to treat some apps just as I treated games packaged with so-called DRM. I’ll ignore the ones that ask too much or that are made by someone I have no reason to trust. Maybe I miss out on a gem, but I’ve survived without Sony’s rootkits and the pain of not being able to install a game I’ve legally purchased in the past. I think I’ll survive not playing a game that may or may not be compiling a list of my contacts and recording my location.