I'm new to the MMO scene. I've beta tested Guild Wars and The Matrix Online.

I like the dancing (it's my feminine side emerging!). Actually, I like it because it's something I can't do in real life! It's simple: just hit /dance .

Here are some great dance videos:

WoW Orc Dance ala MC Hammer
Guild Wars Dancing

Supposedly The Matrix Online provides for interlocked dancing where two people can dance together in a syncronized way. But I haven't found a video of that yet.


Color A Dinosaur

www.tallarico.com - Color A Dinosaur

Tommy should know I have two 'l's in my last name. :)

Also, I didn't actually write the Cakewalk->Ascii converter - the fine people at Cakewalk (then Twelve Tone Systems) wrote it. I just had the foresight to order it and figure out how we could use it in games. (It didn't ship with standard Cakewalk.)

And I bet I gave him more than a day to work on it. But probably not a lot more.

Just to put the whole thing in context, the Color a Dinosaur game was made for $50,000.00. That was everything! Heh. I remember we made an exclusive deal with Wal-mart. I think we sold them about 25,000 copies and that was it. It wasn't long before they were about $4.99. (Mario Paint for the SNES was also out at the same time!)

Still, for what it was, it was amazing. Jay Obernolte did in fact code the whole thing while he was going to Cal-Tech. (Jay had also designed hardware for light guns.) It used the bare-minimum chip that Nintendo made.

Ah yes, those were the good old days ...


3D Me

I was lucky enough to get a 3D scan of my face.

Here it is small:

CyberScan of Stephen's Face

Click on it to see a bigger (1.2 megabyte) version.

It's fun to have data of your own face. There is more about it here.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Big Difference

I wrote earlier about the question "When does a difference in degree become a difference in kind?"

I think this question applies to Sleep Apnea.

There is something called the AHI or "Apena/Hypopnea Index". It is simply the average number of apnea events per hour added to the average number of hypopnea events per hour.

(Apena events - you stop breathing; Hypopnea events - you breath very shallowly.)

Everyone stops breathing at night (amazingly) and an AHI under five is considered "sub-clinical" or "not interesting."

Some doctors think an AHI over twenty is "very serious" and some think an AHI over thirty is "very serious." My AHI when sleeping on my back without a CPAP machine was over NINETY.

There are stories about people who stop breathing for a minute or two or three at night. In extreme cases these people turn blue from lack of oygen! It puts tremendous stress on the heart and lungs and brain and pretty much the entire system.

But think about it ... if you stop breathing for a minute or two at a time, then the highest your AHI index can be is 60 (you stop breathing for a minute every minute) or 30 (you stop breathing for 120 seconds every two minutes). And that's not really possible because you have to take some time to breath and catch up.

I suspect that if someone stops breathing for two minutes at a time then their AHI index is thirty or lower. The biggest problem for people with a lower AHI is that they suffocate for a couple of minutes repeatedly during the night.

Well, at an AHI of 90, assuming you take time to breathe, you are having an apena event every 40 seconds. Since they last at least 10 seconds you are alternating between breathing and not breathing at a rapid rate, probably every 20 seconds.

Since the way your brain wakes you up is a little shot of adrenaline, that means you have a little shot of adrenaline every 40 seconds all night long.

In fact, my body won't let me fall asleep on my back - I can't go to sleep - I stay awake because my body starts with the adrenline right away! This is true even with the CPAP machine on. Later, after I've been asleep a few hours I can turn onto my back. But not at the start!

On my side the AHI index is 65 and on my tummy the number is unknown. After more research I doubt it is zero. It could be or it could easily be 40. That's still a lot of adrenaline and very little time suffocating.

Which is the long way around of saying that an AHI over 50 or 60 is pretty much a different disease than one where the index is 20-40.

I haven't found any research on this on the Internet. I'm meeting my sleep doctor on Tuesday and I plan to drill him about this. My opinion now is that 'regular' sleep apnea - cases where the AHI is below 30 or maybe 40 - should have one name and cases where the AHI is above 40 should have another name, like Sleep Apnea/Adrenaline Syndrome.

[Note 4/12/2006: my new sleep doctor says that regardless of AHI some portion (20% I think he said) of people with Sleep Apnea simply do not have any symptoms other than snoring and 'snarking' as people call it when you wake up slightly and go back to sleep. He's a good guy - he admits they don't know everything about it.]

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Google Blogger Fired

It's not such a big deal that one guy was fired because he said too much about internal company stuff on his blog ... but it is a big deal that companies don't generally have blogging standards.


An expansive communications policy is pretty important. Game companies, in particular, frequently encourage self-expression by allowing people to decorate their cubes in all kinds of crazy ways. It's easy for an employee to get the idea that such freedom extends in a bi-directional way to the outside world. In some companies that would be fine and in others it would not be fine.

It's all well and good to try to avoid bureacracy by having a minimal set of policies but the fact is people need and want direction and good management supplies it.

Nobody likes to be surprised.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.



Here is a PowerPoint Slide Set about 802.11n. I have no idea if it makes any sense separate from the talk, so I will summarize for you.

802.11n is the next big version of Wi-Fi. The main versions so far are

  • 'a', which is the 5 Megahertz version, and runs (realistically) at 25 megabits/second;
  • 'b', which is the 2.4 Megahertz version deployed in most homes and access points (airports, etc.), and realistically runs 5 megabits/second; and
  • 'g', which is the enhanced version of 'b', and runs (realistically) also at 25 megabits / second.

Well, 'n', is a big step forward, and is meant to address all the complaints about the current standards.

The 'n' standard, interestingly, while backward compatible, is tending to support the 'a' frequency range, rather than the much more popular 'b/g' frequency range. Regardless, commercial products will likely be compatible with everything that has gone before.

But enough of that. 'n' has the following amazing features:

  • 100 megabits/second transfer rate, reliably, at distances encountered in homes owned by Microsoft millionaires (e.g., 4000 sq ft +);
  • capabile of supporting, reliably, 3 simultaneous Hi-Def video streams in a home;
  • will be tested in real home and business settings (I suggested they add "kitchens" to the list)
  • will support reliable Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) in a home while streaming all that cool Hi-Def video; and
  • by the time it comes out in late 2006, will cost about what Wi-Fi costs now, which means chips that "cost the same as a latte."

Sounds pretty cool!

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved

Much more about SpongeBob's gayness.

Much more about SpongeBob's gayness.

I've only watched one episode of SpongeBob and it was the one where they go up on land and the characters are played by silly puppets. It's 'live' action, not animated, and it is hilarious. I think the episode is called "Pressure."

I guess I feel some small connection to SpongeBob because the guy who does his voice did some voice acting on the Samurai Jack video game I worked on. His name is Tom Kenny and in person he is a very funny guy.



Capital Vol. I Chapter Eleven:

"Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his Logic), that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes."

When I was in college I was working on an Ada interpreter. Ada was the new DoD 'official' language for embedded systems. Ada was a compiled language so an interpreter was an interesting idea.

When it was time to work on my dissertation, one of my faculty advisors, John King, told me to think about "when a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind." He didn't tell me this was a modification of a quote from Marx, who had modified something Hegel wrote.

His example was that a jet isn't just a fast airplane - to make a jet requires different control surfaces, different engines, different shape, different materials - just about everything needs to be re-engineered.

This insight has been hugely beneficial during my career. In the case of the Ada interpreter, it wasn't just a big interpreter for a normally compiled langauge - it evolved into something rather different, because to support Ada as an interpreted language without destroying its usefulness as a compiled language was a rather complex problem.

Later, when I worked on the B-2 Stealth "Spirit" Bomber, I realized that a stealth airplane wasn't just an invisible airplane - everything had to be reworked - materials, control surfaces, shape, engines - even the mission was different from a regular bomber. (My focus when working at the Northrop Research and Technology Center was computer graphics to support the 'new mission' of the B-2.)

When working on video and computer games, which are based on fast-moving computer technology, I have run up against this all the time. Each generation of gaming platform brings with it a whole new set of concerns. The old tools won't cut it - you generally need significantly enhanced or improved tools just to make the game.

Now I am working on an on-line music downloading service, and I can tell you that it's not just a music store without walls.

It's a completely different beast that has required re-engineering the entire model from the ground up.

Cool beans!


So I'm at the "durable homecare equipment" (DRE) provider converting my CPAP rental into an auto-adjusting CPAP sale. And I'm talking to the very nice CPAP specialist person there and I'm telling her that I think that if I sleep a certain way than my sleep apnea is vastly reduced even without the machine. And she says, ...

"Oh yeah, belly sleepers don't register sleep apnea. In sleep studies they make you sleep on your back or on your side otherwise they don't get a reading."

"But ...," I say, "Shouldn't they measure a person in their normal sleeping mode?"

"Yes, but then they don't get numbers - people don't have sleep apnea sleeping on their tummies."

"But ...," I say, "Why don't they tell you that, so that people will sleep on their stomachs and avoid a potentially life-threatening disease?"

"I don't know. They should."

I remember when I was first diagnosed and I was waiting for my machine. I called the nurse that works with my doctor and I asked (via her answering machine), "Is there any sleep position I can sleep in while I'm waiting for my machine that is better for me?" (I had read on the web that sleeping on your side is better but I wanted to check it out with the nurse.) I never heard back.

I knew I had sleep apnea - my wife heard it at night. But I also knew that I “managed” the severity of it because of the way I slept. My weight is too high which is a symptom. But my blood pressure is very good, and my cholesterol is border-line, which is not bad, and my daytime sleepiness was not that bad (it would come and go). So I knew I was doing something that improved my situation.

When the CPAP specialist confirmed that it was possible to “manage” your sleep apnea simply by sleeping in a different position I felt pretty ripped-off. Not by her but by the entire sleep diagnosis system.

Now, months later, my machine is working well enough that if I have caffeine I start to get jittery right away. It's been a nightmare of self-diagnosis and making myself into a guinea pig to get the CPAP treatment to work. It is better to use the machine once you have adapted which can be very hard. But especially for people like me where the apnea is quite severe - 90+ events per hour when I'm on my back - it would be really good to know that if I'm traveling or I just fall asleep somewhere that I can sleep on my tummy and get a decent sleep.

In my case, the whole adrenaline withdrawal thing (which I suspect is a pattern with people with really severe sleep apnea, and the main reason they don't adapt to CPAP) was a whole 'nother nightmare. I took Doxepin to knock back the itchiness that was masked by my elevated adrenaline levels, and the final bit of adaptation was that I just put the machine on at night, and then the first time I woke up, I took it off, and got my normal crappy sleep, which included a certain amount of adrenaline boosting through the night. First I lasted two hours, then three, then four, then five, then six, then seven, then eight, then nine. I still need more than eight hours sleep but I don’t think that will be true for long.

In this way, I was slowly able to wean myself off the adrenaline. Adrenaline withdrawal is WAY more difficult to deal with than caffeine withdrawal.

I tried to call the nurse practitioner at the sleep center to ask for more information on adrenaline withdrawal yesterday because he is the only person who ever mentioned that to me. I can't find anything about it on the web. Maybe it's not even a real thing although it explains my situation rather well. But he's not working at the sleep center anymore.


I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor in a few weeks - it takes 4-6 weeks to get in to see him. Hopefully he'll know something about this adrenaline withdrawal thing.

But I guess it doesn't matter. I've pretty well licked it.

But the whole sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment process has been a cluster-fuck and if I hadn't put a lot of energy into this I would have been really screwed up.

You can see why some people don't like doctors and turn to any alternative they can find that sounds like it might be more pleasent than going to the doctor.

*Double Sigh*.

In the meantime – if you or your wife thinks you have sleep apnea and you can’t talk yourself into going into the sleep center (especially after reading this!) – sleep on your tummy.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


"Email Address Space"

It occured to me, while I was working on the registration component of the downloadable music service I am working on, that so much of the web is based around your email address.

And it occured to me that web services like Hotmail and Yahoo can never retire your email address.

Sure, they say, they will discontinue your email service if you don't login for a long time. Maybe they do. But I doubt they delete your email address from their database and make it available to anyone else.

Businesses can and do recycle email addresses. Bob works for the company when it is small, leaves, his email is deleted, and then another Bob joins. Odds are, the new Bob will get the old Bob's email address.

Who knows what the old Bob might have signed up for? Who knows what might show up in the new Bob's email box?

Maybe businesses shouldn't recycle email addresses. Maybe, like famous jersey numbers, email addresses should always be issued one time to one person.

A person can always give his email address away to someone else. But I suspect Yahoo or Hotmail knows that nothing good can result from recycling email addresses and so they don't.

I recently signed up for X-Drive. X-Drive is an online disk service that you can use for backups for sharing. I had originally signed up for X-Drive many moons ago during the Internet Bubble.

X-Drive still remembered me, based on my email address, even though it had totally transformed over the years into a pay service. Imagine if some random person's email address was recycled by Hotmail or Yahoo and given to me. I go to X-Drive, naively believing it has never heard of me, and I can't register because "that name is taken" - the previous owner of the email address is still registered at X-Drive. So I ask X-Drive to send me the password. Now I have access to the previous person's account.

That doesn't seem so good.

So, I suspect that if it was possible somehow to plot the density of "Email Address Space" it would never contract and would always expand, because smart email hosting companies would never recycle an old email address. If the original owner stopped using it, then that would be the end of the line for that email address, never to see the light of electronic bits flying through Cyberspace again.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Johnny Carson / Steve Whitehill

Johnny Carson passed away recently, as you know. His passing reminded me of the time I went to see The Tonight Show taping at NBC in Burbank. I went with my friend Steve Whitehill who, sadly, also passed away recently. Even though I hadn't seen Steve Whitehill for at least 10 years I was greatly saddened at his passing.

I wrote the following note which Eric Olsen read at Steve's memorial:

Hello everyone. Thank you, Eric, for reading this for me.

My name is Steve Willson and I was good friends with Steve Whitehill while we both went to graduate school. We probably spent 8 or 10 hours a day together, five or six days a week, for years, working on the computer systems at UCI.

I learned a lot about programming from Steve. I remember that we would get stuck on a problem and Steve would get out his notepad, draw a few boxes and arrows, and make everything clear. We did a lot of what is known today as “pair programming,” where one person would look on while the other “drove” the computer terminal – and then we would switch roles every few hours.

In all those hours together I learned to laugh a lot. We would both sign up for concerts, hoping to get a date, and rarely get one, so we wound up going together. I remember we went to see Rodney Dangerfield at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Steve was always doing Rodney Dangerfield impersonations.

We would stay up late at the ICS lab at UCI. There was a really old black and white TV there that barely got any reception. We strung a big wire around the room so we could watch and listen to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson while we programmed late at night. Eric was there a lot too, working on his compiler class.

Steve enriched my experience at UCI so much. I spent so many hours at UCI while working on various degrees that I think I would have gone insane without Steve’s friendship and great sense of humor.

Toward the end of graduate school, we both met the women who would be our future wives, and we drifted apart. But Steve’s spirit and good humor stays with me to this day, 25+ years later, and will for the rest of my life.

God Bless Steve Whitehill and let me express my warmest condolences to his family.

Thank you.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.