Today I Learned: How to get your motorcycle license (endorsement)

A long winded guide to getting your motorcycle license in NJ from the Lodi DMV.  I particularly wanted to write about this topic because I found the process a little confusing and I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to find any detailed instructions.

Here’s an overview of the path I took (I realize there are other paths available).

Sign up for and take the Basic Rider Course
I took it at the Riding Academy of NJ.  The course set me back 300$ and a weekend from morning to afternoon. I just needed a driver’s license and the ability to ride a bicycle to be eligible.  The instructors I had were great- patient and funny.  When you complete the course, you will receive a waiver for the motorcycle exam.

Go to DMV, get a motorcycle permit
This is the part I was a little lost on.  You still need to get a motorcycle permit, the thing you get to start practicing without a full license (which, along with the examination, you skip using the waver).  Take your 6 points of identification, take your waiver just in case (I don’t think it’s necessary but it’s a sheet of paper, it won’t kill you to have it), and head to the DMV.  There’s 2 or 3 lines out front of Lodi DMV, you want the license line.  People will come out handing forms early in the morning.  The permit looks like a sheet of paper, I think you’re meant to fold it in half.  There’s a small section that looks like a card.  Just to clarify, you don’t get any card-like objects at this point.

Eye exam + get your permit stamped / stickered
I was REALLY confused at this part.  You take your blank permit, and you have to have it stamped and have a holographic sticker put on it.  I… don’t know what’s the real term for it.  Certified?  Approved?  In the Lodi DMV, there’s an entrance in the back, opposite the main entrance where everyone is lining up for license renewals and what not.  There’ll be signs that say something about ‘Testing.’  That’s where you need to go, there’ll be a shorter line there.  Take your permit to the desk, and show your waiver and identification.  There’ll be a small eye-test machine on the desk, she’ll ask you to read the first line.  They stamp your permit, put on a sticker, and send you on your way.

Get your motorcycle endorsement
You’re finally there!  Take your stamped/stickered permit, and go back to licensing in the main entrance.  The lady that gave me the permit told me I could skip the line, which felt incredibly awkward to do, but it was nice.  I’m pretty sure that’ll not always be the case.  You will need another form, your 6 points of identification, the permit, and 25$.  (It costs slightly less than that).  They’ll ask if you want your picture done again, do whatever you want.  They hand you back your stuff, and you go home.

My morning
I just came back from the DMV, with the long process of getting my motorcycle license finally complete.  I suppose in a strict sense it really only takes 2 days to go from nothing to motorcycle license in NJ, but for me, it took a few days shy of half a year.  I was incredibly close to just saying “Forget it, I don’t want to do this anymore” this morning.  I meant to wake up at 6AM, but slept in until 7AM.  The DMV opens at 8AM.  I made my final resolution to go in and forfeiting the next 3 hours to the licensing process, and made my way to Lodi DMV.  Now I’m free! 😀

Pretty sure I’m not going to actually get a motorcycle in the next 2 years.  I’ve been just hemorrhaging money lately, and while I COULD afford it, I’d rather save money for now.  It’s the insurance payments that are warding me away.  It’s winter, anyhow.

When I do muster up the courage to do it though, I’d probably get a Honda CBR250R, because I’m a pussy, I guess.

even I feel a little dry


Today I learned: Fishing Bags are Nice

20161105_145007

yu shang fishing?

Alright, strictly speaking, the bag came in Friday so I didn’t really learn this TODAY.

As it turns out, fishing bags work pretty well for my purposes.  Since first getting into the very ‘murrican past time of firearms, I’ve been looking for different ways to bring them from the front door to the trunk of my car without startling neighbors, all of which seem to be families having children from 3 to 14 years old.  It doesn’t help that this state isn’t pro gun.

At the very beginning I went with Pelican hard cases, but I thought those were a little too on-the-nose in terms of appearance.  I quickly decided I wanted to stay away from big, black, serious-looking cases.

oh gee I wonder what this is supposed to hold

Same issue with anything shaped like typical soft gun cases, or anything with MOLLE straps.  I also decided I’d want something I could sling over my shoulder so I could bring them without giving up one hand.  Lastly, any non-gun branding on it I thought to be a plus.  No Ruger logos and what not.

definitely not a gun right?

I came upon a couple solutions.  For rifles, I came across ski bags and sword bags.  The ski bags I found were a little long, but sword bags were sometimes too narrow.  But it might work depending on the dimensions of the firearm.  There’s also yoga mat bags, which work for things up to around 30 inches.  The one I have was a little flimsy, but I thought that was as good as it was going to get for long guns that break apart.  When I got a Beretta over/under, though, I wanted to do one better.

This is where my search took me.

20161105_145123

cz75 just happened to be around

The long pockets’ interior measures 35 inches long, which will fit any (I think?) shotgun barrel.  It has 3 of these long pockets, and each pocket has 2 zippers, which is great because you can stick a padlock on the loops where the zipper handle meets the zipper head.  I used towels for padding, and you use 2 pockets for 2 shotguns, 1 pocket for plenty of shells.  I was able to fit 8x 25-shell boxes in there, but I’m sure you could fit more if you found a box that utilized the unused height in this picture.  The picture looks like seven, but there’s an eight not pictured on the far right, behind the zipper.  What I had in mind was that I could bring myself and 1 other person trap shooting, with all the gear in one bag.  2 guns, 100 shells each.

20161105_145134

revealing i’m the guy that shoots clays with buck JK JK

I’m too lazy to bring the bag out again, but on the other side there’s 2 more side pockets you can put hearing protection and cleaning supplies in.

I’ve only had the bag for a day but it feels sturdy enough.  I’m pretty pleased with construction and the size/number of compartments, but beyond that is the appearance.  Outdoors-y green, blaze orange, yellow.  The Chinese lettering on the front adds to it (Subliminal message: China doesn’t typically allow people to own guns, why would this bag have a gun in it?).   Moreover, it says fishing on it.  Given those two factors I feel like this is a pretty solid way to walk across the lawn to your car, or have it lying on your bed without making anyone panic.

Well, save for when someone decides to ask why your fishing equipment is covered in locks.  (It’s uhhh… really expensive?)


Today I Learned: Rings Cause Hunger

I’ve been playing Nethack since grade school on various platforms, but I just found out today that equipping rings that aren’t +0 chargeable causes nutrition to degrade faster. I generally start as wizard because of the ability to cast utility spells easily, the chance of useful magical items and spells, the chance of being granted a Magicbane for Elbereth spam, and that nice magic resist cloak.

rings

The first thing I generally did was check the rings and equip them if they weren’t dangerous (conflict), but… wow.  Apparently I’ve been playing incorrectly this entire time.  No wonder not starving always seemed so hard.

I’ll probably post about tonight’s release too, later today.


Today I Learned: Bad Deals

That bad deals are very easily to get.

That really shouldn’t have been a lesson I learned so late, but I was reminded of it today.  On a whim, I logged in to my AT&T account.  Well, not entirely on a whim.  I’ve been long considering switching cell phone service provider because I’ve been paying what I’ve felt to be far too much for what I’m asking.  For the past 3 years, I’ve paid 2$ shy of 100$ a month for 450 minutes, 120? texts, and 3GB of data.  For the longest time I’ve thought… surely I’m doing something wrong.  It turns out that yes, I have been doing something wrong.

The site suggested I switched from my plan to another plan that has unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data, for 60$ monthly.  I didn’t see any drawbacks, so I just went with it this morning.  When I first signed up I kind of glossed over the options and selected the lowest I could manage with, not really assessing what I was reading (as I’m wont to do).  I suppose I, again, have not given a proper appraisal on the new plan I’ve just now gotten myself into, but what I do know is it helps my bottom line, and for the time being that’s good enough.

My reasoning is, or rather, WAS, that plenty of other people go through this process, and if a plan that makes no fiscal sense were available it would be promptly removed after some complaints.  What I want to think is that the free market will cull suboptimal purchasing options from a seller’s inventory, freeing me from the burden of doing any pre-consumption research.  I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to see that isn’t really true, and I don’t blame anyone but myself.

So in summary, don’t pay 100$ for a 3GB cell phone plan, it’s dumb?


Scarlet Vigil

Approaching release of the next and hopefully last scrolling shooter.  It’s long stopped being fun doing these, and I feel like the reason I made this one was, by and large, because I tried to step outside my comfort zone trying to make a larger not-shooter game, and quickly gave up, electing to stick with what I’m familiar with.

My goal is to release by the end of September, regardless of how much left I want to do.  That might not be a good way to go about things, but my passion’s run pretty dry on this.  I haven’t reviewed past entries, but isn’t that how I always feel when it comes to release?  I feel like I’ve written that before.  In fact, looking back, I’ve written something like this every time I get close to finishing something.

Tasks remaining:
Fix large bullets (Recently changed from SpriteRenderers back to meshes)
Enlist someone to do portrait art
Finish dialog text
Test and refine scoring code
Test and refine bullet pattern code (Don’t want to change much at this point)
Fix Laser cleanup (Laser models persist after parent bullet destruction)
SFX (Minimal, probably just death and timestop)
Clip and compress BGM
Complete Google Play entry

Something really odd I noticed last night, the SpriteRenderers I’ve been using on this project have somehow been causing a sizable reduction in performance compared to just using alpha plane models.  I replaced the SpriteRenderer code not 12 hours ago, and it’s gone from 40fps back to 56-60fps on my Samsung S6.  I don’t know what’s going on in SpriteRenderer, but I don’t care anymore.  Maybe something to do with transparency and ordering of the sprites?  Or maybe because in lieu of a provided 3D model, Unity is generating one for it?  Don’t care.

I feel like I should be able to accomplish more given the time it takes to finish these (roughly 5-7 months of lazy on-off work, on average).  I’m thinking of trying Unreal 4, and I’d like to set a Steam release as my next goal.

I very much want to try to make just the basics of a Dark Souls- like game; the character controls, and the boss, being the central components I’d want to implement, in a blank, empty room.  The prompt failures of the attempts I’ve made so far though, make me wary of how much learning I need to tackle before I get anywhere.

Among many other things:

Hitboxes
Should I add them to the model, hide them in game, and test against those?  Seems like the simplest solution to me.  They could be animated within the 3D editor to change size or move around, along with the character/boss model itself’s animations.

Blending Animation
Ideally this could be kept to a minimum.  Beginning an attack would stop all animations and start a new animation.  As would walking, running.  The only blending would be during the transitions between animations.  No attacking while walking/running would keep animations simple.

Equipment
I think each character animation should have an ‘anchor’ bone to where weapons would be attached.  Naturally the weapon itself shouldn’t have animation.. I think?

Strafing
Ugh.  Should there be 8 walking animations (One for each direction) blended between?  I think this sort of thing should have some availability in terms of pre-made assets.  In the end though, I’ll have to do some hand-editing because the attack animations are something I’d probably have no choice but to do myself.

Animation driven movement
I still don’t know how to properly tie movement and animation in a way that isn’t a mess.  I really wish I could attach the movement to the 3D animation itself, but from what I’ve read so far that sounds like a bad idea.  So, what I currently have in mind is, make the animation, then run it in game, fine tuning movement by hand as it plays, until it looks just right?  That doesn’t sound right…

Well, before I do much more thinking I think it’d be best just to focus on the tasks at hand.  Release, then Unreal tutorials.  I’ve also been considering a Masters, but… I don’t know if I want to commit the time when it’s not something I’m crazy about getting.  The only reason I’d get it would be to jot it down on my resume and feel very, very slightly more smug (haha.)

I may run into some trouble, though, with the oncoming release of Persona 5… I don’t know when my copy will arrive, nor whether it’ll actually be usable yet.  I really should be studying for the JLPT 3 too, lofty (sarcasm) of a goal as it is.

Sorry, this post is more whining than I intended originally.  I realize its of no value to anyone but myself, but really… is any of this of any value?  Doubtful.  It’s worrying.  I feel like I’m doing things/signing up for things just for the sake of making ‘progress’, whatever that means, but I don’t feel like I’m actually enjoying much of it.  Maybe this is adulthood?


Particle-Transparent(Additive) Grayscale Shader

Use bwBlend to change saturation
Use alpha to fade object in and out

Shader “Custom/BulletDesat” {
Properties {
_MainTex (“Base (RGB)”, 2D) = “white” {}
_bwBlend (“Black & White blend”, Range (0, 1)) = 0
_alpha (“Alpha”, Range(0, 1)) = 0
}
SubShader {
Tags { “Queue”=”Transparent” “IgnoreProjector”=”True” “RenderType”=”Transparent” }
Blend SrcAlpha One
Cull Off Lighting Off ZWrite Off Fog { Color (0,0,0,0) }
Pass {
CGPROGRAM
#pragma vertex vert_img
#pragma fragment frag

#include “UnityCG.cginc”

uniform sampler2D _MainTex;
uniform float _bwBlend;
uniform float _alpha;

float4 frag(v2f_img i) : COLOR {
float4 c = tex2D(_MainTex, i.uv);

float lum = c.r*.3 + c.g*.59 + c.b*.11;
float3 bw = float3( lum, lum, lum );
float4 trans = float4(0,0,0,0);

float4 result = c;
result.rgb = lerp(c.rgb, bw, _bwBlend);
result.rgba = lerp(result.rgba, trans, 1-_alpha);
return result;
}
ENDCG
}
}
}


Sensitive Topics

Odd that I should start using this again on a topic like this.  It’s been on my mind all morning though, and I feel an urge to dispense an uneducated opinion.  Time to talk out of my ass-

How would events like Orlando be prevented?
Looking at the most immediate facts, I was surprised that someone who’s been involved in the giving-end of domestic violence was the culprit.  Isn’t that a key point that disqualifies one for gun ownership?  Someone who’s been involved in that, and investigated for ties with terrorists, being able to pass background checks.  I know people should have the right to due process, and the investigation failed to yield any proper evidence, but it still feels wrong reading it.

Tighter Ownership Restrictions

Perhaps he should have been barred from owning firearms as well as holding a job requiring him to be armed on the grounds of prior domestic abuse.  Perhaps people who have any record of violence should be summarily disarmed.  That may fly in the face of ‘shall not be infringed,’ but I think limits should be placed just like any of our other rights.

Strict Process

I’m solidly of the opinion that we need more gun control.  Maybe my views are tainted by living in NJ, but I’d get behind the idea that every gun purchase require a background check, private sale or otherwise, and that everyone have a license, long arms and hand guns alike.  With something so potentially dangerous I think those are fair requests as a minimum.

When applying for my own license, it struck me as odd that I wasn’t required to interact with an officer for any sort of interview.  I’m fairly doubtful my references were contacted at all.  I’m not going to bother reading up again on past cases because all I’m writing is tripe, but I think more thorough interviews by officers may help matters.  4-6 character references and perhaps family interviews should be made available.

The process in NJ is involved in comparison to the rest of the US, but it should be even more involved everywhere than it is here.  Thorough interviews may help, because as it is, the license process felt like more of a formality.

Categorical Bans

While I do believe in gun control, I believe the current state of assault weapon bans are a bit ridiculous.  The term ‘assault weapon’ and ‘assault rifle’ are ineffective when it comes to placing restrictions on weapons capable of mass murder.  The strictest definition in my mind is- a rifle that allows automatic fire (or one patterned in an identical fashion apart from automatic capability) that fires an intermediate rifle cartridge, eg. 7.62x39mm, 223 Rem.  Intermediate cartridges allow for a balance of power, recoil, and ammunition carrying capacity.  Today’s laws include a wide assortment of ‘evil features’ that mark weapons as ‘assault weapons,’ such as collapsible stocks, barrel shrouds, pistol grips, flash hiders, muzzle brakes, etc., and they really miss the point.

These bans are ostensibly to restrict murder-capable weaponry while attempting to leave guns used for sporting purposes alone, but I don’t see the point.  A semiautomatic 308 or  30-06 hunting rifle with none of those features will do nearly as well as the AR-15s that seem common with these events.  There are some legally available semiautomatic shotguns that I feel would be terrifying to face, but are fine to own.  These terrorists chose AR-15s, but they could have just as easily picked up any another semi 223 rifle with less ‘military style’ looks and do just as much damage.  Bans restricted to ‘assault’ weapons seems daft to me.

It’s time to really talk shit now.  If you want to ban guns that you think are mass murder weapons, make a complete ban on all semiautomatic weapons, handguns, rifles, and shotguns alike.  I see no NEED for them, but is the possession of semiautomatic weapons secured as a RIGHT?  I don’t believe in the interpretation of the 2nd amendment as a guarantee for any sort of weapons without limit.  I think we need to limit our interpretation that much further.  5 cartridge limits on all magazines, even, leaving revolvers at 6.

The unconditional right to arms isn’t a terribly easy right for me to defend, it seems.  A lot of factors play into the events that occurred, mental instability being a big one.  I believe gun control is by far the easiest factor to control, though.  You can’t ensure someone’s not off their rocker, and taking away guns is a snore in comparison.

‘And on that bombshell’


Setting Planning

Maybe this should all take place in a manor?  There should be some kind of continuity between all these environments I think.  Ok, let’s give this another round-

Lust: Extreme winds, Pass through a massive wall of flame LUXURIA
Gluttony: Dining room, filled with food
Greed: Parlor?
Sloth: Snakes, Constant preoccupation ACEDIA
Wrath: Hunting room
Envy: Drowned in ice cold water, clad grey and eyes sewn shut INVIDIA
Pride: Room of armor


Settings

Uhh.. need to decide what kind of… environments I’d have.

Highlight safe areas by having them lit.

Lust, a church.  The nuns move in a patrol fashion around a maze, and you need to stay near their light; if you leave the light for 2s, you die.
Sloth, a very dense crowd of people.  They constantly create a moving bubble gap, but if you touch any of the people you die.  Light comes from street lamps.  Getting caught, you get a crazed face that’s shaking constantly, kind of like that lady in PT.
You need to get to a gate, but in order to do it, you need to collect gas, a key, and climb into a tractor and bulldoze through all the people
Wrath, your house, filled with people in straight jackets
A cemetary
A torture chamber, pride
A mausoleum
Envy, a school.  Eyes shut teacher, move around him and you die
… Gee, that was over quickly.  What do I fill the other 4 with?
Envy, a fo


Today I Learned

There’s an autocomplete in the Windows command prompt.  Start cmd with the /f option and use CTRL + F and boom there it is.

Yeah whatever