Review: Eloquent JavaScript

January 16, 2018 12:31 AM

by Andrew Zigler

I’m always looking to expand my knowledge of programming, especially JavaScript. In recent years, JavaScript has become my favorite and most productive language. I’ve pieced together my understanding of the language through tutorials, books, courses, and a few good mentors. Within the JS community, many people have been waxing poetic about Marijn Haverbeke‘s Eloquent JavaScript, so last year I started working through the book online. At the time, I had a strong foundation of JavaScript basics, but was looking for projects and exercises for practice.

Grow with Google: Service Workers

January 20, 2018 5:45 AM

by Andrew Zigler

Good news! I’ve recently been accepted to the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship for 2018!

Grow with Google: IndexedDB

January 27, 2018 9:47 PM

by Andrew Zigler

Picking up where I left off in Part 1, I’m continuing my journey in the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship for 2018. Last time I learned how to use a service worker to cache simple data in the example app, but this part of the lesson taught me how to properly cache and serve page resources like photos via IndexedDB.

Grow with Google: ES6

February 5, 2018 7:17 PM

by Andrew Zigler

Picking up where I left off in Part 2, I’m continuing my journey in the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship for 2018. Last time I learned all about IndexedDB, but this part of the course taught me ES6, the 6th edition of JavaScript, which is widely used today (sometimes with other names, like ES2015 and Harmony). These lessons gave me a whole new perspective on the language, and they’ve answered many long-time questions I’ve had about the “magic” of JavaScript.

TIC-80 in JavaScript

March 3, 2018 8:42 PM

by Andrew Zigler

I set out to participate in this quarter’s #FC_JAM a few weeks ago. I scoped out the various fantasy consoles available, trying to find something lightweight and fun to use. Most fantasy consoles are written in C and accept Lua scripts, but I found that TIC-80 released JavaScript support and that instantly convinced me. Since I’ve been studying so much JavaScript, getting to stick with that language was the appealing choice. The console itself is all-inclusive, with a terminal, sound, sprite, and map editors, and with artificial restrictions of 240x136 pixels display, 16 color palette, 256 8x8 color sprites, and 4 channel sound.

Sculpting Generative Text with Tracery

April 10, 2018 4:30 PM

by Andrew Zigler

As humans, we take our ownership of words very seriously. We see words as a way for a human to express their thoughts and feelings, and while all words have concrete meanings, there are connotations and sentiments associated with certain words and phrases that we think a machine could never truly master as an unemotional third party. Even if we sometimes perceive emotion in a machine’s words (thanks to the ELIZA effect), a computer will never learn language the same way a human does, so can they deliver narratives with the same authenticity, accuracy, and appeal as a person?

Grow with Google: Nanodegree Winner

April 21, 2018 5:26 PM

by Andrew Zigler

As described in Part 3, I was waiting to hear if I would be continuing my journey in the Grow with Google Challenge Scholarship for 2018. In the last few months, I’ve been diving into topics like service workers, IndexedDB, and ES6 and writing about them here on my blog.

Exciting promotion and Nanodegree progress

May 18, 2018 6:53 PM

by Andrew Zigler

Great news! I recently received a promotion at my job. I am now the Director of Business Development at a leading educational services company. We primarily help students study for the LSAT and law school, but we also provide instruction for several other standardized tests.

The case for MUDs in modern times

June 28, 2018 4:23 AM

by Andrew Zigler

In the age of smart devices and instant entertainment, can a medium as old as MUDs survive? Driven entirely by text, these Multi-User Dimensions ― or Dungeons, or Domains, or so many other options that they’re often called MU* ― are virtual worlds that consist entirely of text. Often outfitted as RPG-style games, these platforms are also home to niche internet communities on the fringes of the web. The servers are accessed via a telnet client, which is easy enough to launch in a command line. But there are a few popular applications that many longtime players opt to use. They’re rather reminiscent of the various chat programs built up around the IRC protocol, and provide simple functionality like logging, colors, aliases, triggers, timers, and even mapping.

I finished my Udacity Mobile Web Specialist Nanodegree

July 26, 2018 10:19 PM

by Andrew Zigler

I’ve just finished my Mobile Web Specialist course after completing my final project. I covered a lot of ground between the first project and the third one, including transforming a website into a performant offline-first web app. Each project stage was professionally evaluted and I received a line-by-line code review of my work, which wa really helpful for getting useful feedback. I managed to zip through the stages pretty quickly, because I had completed most of the lessons already through my scholarship program (all of the lessons in the Nanodegree are available for free). The course runs until the end of October but I’m now finished two months early.

Like minds that like MUDs

August 30, 2018 8:02 PM

by Andrew Zigler

In a recent post, I made the case for MUDs in modern times which explored the niche that MUDs occupy on the internet. As a longtime player of MUDs, I started learning to code in order to tinker with downloaded codebases, trying endlessly to run ancient makefiles and compile spaghetti code hobbled together by lots of strangers on SourceForge. It was fun, but hardly effective!

MUD Cookbook: design meets implementation

September 29, 2018 10:08 PM

by Andrew Zigler

Lately, I’ve had a laser focus that’s consumed me in my latest project, Pinwheel: a fork of Ranvier, a MUD engine in JavaScript. This fork started as a question: can I add a web server to a MUD engine? The answer—which I found out pretty quickly—is yes. With that done, I turned my attention to the rest of the code. I started to rip things out and move them around. Even after weeks of tinkering with it, I’m genuinely fascinated by how this stranger’s software works. Reorganizing the blocks bit by bit, rewriting some parts entirely… all of it is rewarding. The silent reflection of teaching yourself another person’s code is oddly zen-inducing.

What small towns and niche internet communities have in common

October 29, 2018 3:30 AM

by Andrew Zigler

In the last month, I’ve made continued progress on Pinwheel, my MUD game engine. In fact, there are only a few remaining elements of the core source code remaining before I feel ready to start building my developmental game world. In the course of refactoring and building this engine, I’ve cycled through many different themes for a game I could potentially build with it. I’ve tried not to let those themes steer my designs too heavily, with the goal of making a universal engine that can be molded easily to fit different themes. Some MUD engines come with stock content to showcase how the code could be adapted, but often times this content feels prescriptive and can get in the way of other ideas.

Carthaginian Empire in Spain: the Barcid Chessboard

November 26, 2018 5:13 AM

by Andrew Zigler

This article will analyze the tragic Barca family and the accomplishments, flaws, defeats, and aspirations of this powerful Carthaginian clan. After Carthage was defeated by the Romans in the First Punic War, Carthaginian noble Hamilcar Barca conquered the Numidians and moved north into Spain in 237 BCE. He hoped to conquer new lands, subjugate the Celtiberian natives, and excavate the rich mines of the mountainous peninsula. All of these efforts were fueled by the empire’s recent defeat, with the newly-empowered Phoenician city-state requiring new territories and income to offset the costs of war.

My 2018 in review: Udacity and beyond!

December 24, 2018 3:25 AM

by Andrew Zigler

We’re almost another revolution around the sun and a lot has changed for me this year. I won a Google scholarship, got a promotion, completed a Udacity Nanodegree, lost some weight, and worked on lots of cool side projects. Now as we slide through December, I’m looking back on this year and what it’s meant to me.