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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Board

Welcome to a new week - have a Happy Halloween (or as they call it, Hoppy Halloween!)

Your frog turns into a Werefrog automatically this week if it isn't a spirit animal, by popular vote from the users. (Otherwise, it would be a Drac or a Skelefrog coming out of the coffin).

Two additional food items are only available this week, the Sticky Apple which slows down the curve a bit, and Combo Corn which increases those Combo bonuses by 15%. You wish you could stack this with Candy Lei, but no, it's also a food item. Unlike last week, there aren't any free samples, you'll have to buy them before you can try them out. (I suggest you don't.)

You can, however, pick up a game of Plants vs. Zombies for free this week using this link.

Other than that, whether you're trick or treating with a awesome costume or braving the hurricane on the East Coast... maybe without power... be careful out there.

Strategy: Gap / Double tap on the bottom right hand side of the board, or on the top of the curve goes far enough. Grabbing fruits is necessary for those high scores.

Recommended Powers: The typical x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, and your choice of either Gapple Sauce or Candy Lei.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sharing More Coins Per ZB Post

Note: Solved by daily gifts and message center, which give you 4k per gift received (once per friend, per day).

Previously, people had a much easier time grabbing mojo though conventional methods (mainly through fortune cookies, which through a trick allowed players to collect hundreds of thousands of mojo from a single person), allowing people with just a few friends to play quite a bit with that extra mojo. Now, coins gained are only based off of leveling up and feeds, and top players were mainly determined by those who could collect the most - which meant having to join groups and add tons of fellow players for both competition and coin sharing.

Unfortunately not everyone is comfortable adding tons of strangers in order get lots of coins. Even more are not comfortable about the near requirement of using third party programs to collect bonuses for them.

Solution? More coins shared in fewer posts - it won't have much effect for those with hundreds of Zuma friends, but for players who are only comfortable with a small amount Zuma players on their friend lists, this should even the odds a bit.

Effect: Greatly increases the amount of coins you can share to others per post. You get no additional coins from doing the below steps.

1. Fire up Fiddler, make sure you disable FB Secure Browsing

2. Enter the following, somewhere between the OnBeforeResponse Brackets...

        if(oSession.uriContains("/facebook/zumablitz/ajax.php")
            && oSession.GetRequestBodyAsString().Contains("getZumaSpinResults"))
        {
            oSession.utilSetResponseBody('{"response":{"payoutColumn":10,"consecutiveDays":1}}');
        }

This will make the game think you got 1 million coins per spin (and this is the only payout that allows you to share 4000 coins compared to 1000). However the server will know your true coin total, and will reset to that amount when you refresh.

3. (Optional) Enter somewhere between the OnBeforeRequest Brackets...

         if (oSession.uriContains("/dailyspin.xml")) {
            oSession.url = "bchantech.dreamcrafter.com/zumablitz/custom/dailyspin.xml";
        }

Not required, but prevents spamming others with feeds saying 'I just won ONE MILLION free coins', because you didn't. It connects to my server to get a replacement string file, so if you are unable to load the game, you can omit these lines.

4. Clear browser cache.

5. Start Zuma Blitz (from bookmarks, not via a collect feed). - and keep Fiddler open while the game is running to share extra coins for your spins.

Endless Zero Week


Yes, they are collectible. (Provided you're a friend, of course)

I'm starting to not like how Network Solutions are holding up these days... It has went from 99 percent reliability to almost zero. Can't access FTP at all (to upload leaderboard updates and whatnot), both Zuma Blitz and business material on that site (as well as almost all of the images on this blog) are offline. They haven't even reported on this issue either. Yep, screwed on that end.

I've decided to switch over to Dropbox for (makeshift) image hosting purposes. They're way more reliable than this - share public links, 10GB/day bandwidth to support those images... that's enough to support 10k pageviews a day, a limit I will reach in... what, maybe a month and a half?

Go get a Dropbox - 2GB of free storage (and probably much more than that), access anywhere you have an internet connection, syncs to computers, upload practically anything, with complete control over your files. One major step ahead if I forgot my flash drive for any reason or need to share something quick.

Onto the Zuma Blitz stuff. It's a new week and with that Halloween board and the Werefrog, we're supposed to be getting high scores right away. Not in the groups we aren't. We're busy sharing our coins using that new zero scoring technique.

Many people got bored and went for playing regular games after about 100 posts (100k coins shared total) - what's your highest? (I personally stopped at 40 and decided to go for sharing 4k daily spin coin posts instead.)

Zero Scoring Technique: (above) A coin sharing technique in which a player purposesly loses without scoring any points, done at the start of a week when the scores reset. Even though the score still reads 'No Score' it is still considered (at least by the game) to be a new high score and a 1000 coin post to be shared. If you've got the extra lives...

Update: Can no longer be done as of Nov 15, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Platter Board - Just Like Switchback Snap


Layout seem familiar?

Looks like we're into a whole new set of graphic designs for old boards. Now they've got shadows casting on the balls themselves.

The speed of the balls here aren't going to cut you any slack, making it a true 90 degree nightmare. Except for the newly introduced Blue Velvet Cake, which its extra fireball during Hot Frog can give you an edge. Pick up three of them with this link.

Strategy: Use the same two gap technique as on the Crab Board - align it bottom / left or top / right. Your choice. Or...

Recommended Powers: Either of the following strategies will work:

  • Gaps: x3, Time, Speed Ball, Spirit Beetle, Gapple Sauce. You could sub Speed Ball with Epic Fruit.
  • Fruit: x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, Gapple Sauce. A combination of gaps and fruit makes the best scoring option.
  • Third Option - All out. x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, Curly Fries. Your job: Try to clear as many curves as possible, and collect fruit as fast as possible too. Example video

Requesting Supplies: Using any of the above strategies could cost a considerable amount of coins for any casual player (65k a game average). If in the very unlikely event ZB gave you enough coins to play through a certain strategy mentioned above, which would you go for?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Popcornopolis


2-3 servings of it

First batch of Popcornpolis Popcorn bought from Costco. After trying it today and a year back, I've decided to buy some (at 4 bucks for a 4-11oz package).

Where to buy: There's not very many places around to buy them at, but Roseville Galleria might have some, as well as Costco, but only if they're doing a demonstration - when they're there, pick them up while you can, since they'll most likely disappear when they're gone.

At Costco, they typically offer these flavors: Zebra Chocolate, Caramel Corn, Kettle Corn, Cheddar Cheese, Pecan Caramel, and Cinnamon Bun.

Note: They're extremely good, and they're addicting to eat as well, but don't get too carried away with eating it. Its saturated fat is quite high in one serving (which is an ounce) at 25%, and there are 11 servings in a sizable container at Costco.

Update: You can still buy them at Costco as a small 12-pack and normal-size 4 pack (13.49 last I checked), you just lose the option to select your flavors (locked at Kettle Corn, Cheddar Cheese, Zebra, and Caramel Corn).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Creating separate Post Excerpts and Full Post Content

Sometimes there are occasions where you want the a blog excerpt to be different than just the beginning of a post when users browse through archives. This post explains how to do just that.

I discovered how to do this while trying to find ways to hide certain content on a blog post, and also because I didn't like the way some articles read 'post after the break' like you were reading it from a RSS reader and the same text showing up on the post itself. Having only excerpts prevents people casually scrolling through the blog and reading all the content in one go, and instead clicking 'read more' if interested - this allows me to see what types of posts people are reading, and what to post more of.

1. Insert the following code at the beginning of the post:

 <span id="customexcerpt">Enter Post Summary Here</span>

<!-- more -->

<style type="text/css">
#erhide {display:none;}
</style>

2. Change the 'Enter Post Summary Here' with what you want your excerpt to say.

3. Insert the rest of your post data after that.

You are set - the post summary will be different than the rest of your post.

Although this will make the data hidden from both the actual post and a RSS reader (if you set the RSS feed display to Full, at least on Blogger), if one were to copy the entire post it would also display the hidden excerpt data. Therefore it's recommended that it's used for images or for coherent posts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fry's Gangnam Style Ads

Found this in Roseville Fry's today - they've gotten more creative with their ads, combining it with Gangnam Style (complete with the music video playing on a laptop). Yes, this is for bundle sales.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

GSKA @ Montbleu

Video jobs take place far and wide - GSKA is one of them. Doing a filming job over at the Montbleu Casino, on the balcony (where all the spotlights and other equipment are at).

Quite the most unusual theater arrangement I've seen so far - instead of the usual seat arrangement, there's a bunch of tables for seating, as well as a bar on each side.

Also introduced to the Pro3 Soundboard as well.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Covered with Knowledge (and tags)

Sometimes knowledge is superior in most areas, and it's what everybody seeks. That's what Fall 2012 in Concepts is about. Not about these topics, though.

I found two additional people from UOP CKI that keeps my own spirit up, and I'm happy to welcome Darshini and Nhi Phan to this group. Both people approved of this image. This is also one of the few images which I am tagged in.

Tags: These days, I value each image tag someone posts of me greatly (that is not from a game friend), because they don't happen very often. Without the large number of image appearances (less than 250, which is the lowest of any photographer or other major CKI member/officer), anyone can either deny I wasn't at an event and/or be unable to remember who I am in the future, especially newer members - therefore I will look around in friend's (and non-friends) albums and tag myself in there (provided they have tagged at least one other person).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Things Change (CKI-Wise)


When the CKI Flyers layout looks like Pac-Man.

In my viewpoint, things change dramatically after the time when I would (normally) graduate. During my freshman year, The UC was completed, changing the dining option (previously a buffet style, it was now pay as you go). At the same time, the library back at my old college was being renovated as well.

Now, not only did they change UOP as well (by including a new staircase in McCaffery and an additional lounge area), but things also changed back at CKI:

  • My original graduating class is completely gone at UOP CKI (although I did managed to find some people from my grad class still around at UOP itself).
  • Some of the classic events like the Dixon Corn Maze Social doesn't occur this year. (It's been demoted to a club-only event, it is only mentioned on the Davis CKI Newsletter)
  • The Turkey Trot event (previously done last year) gets replaced by a DCM in Nevada. So... I have to make a tough decision of which 5K I should participate in.
    • Stockton is closer, but costs more and it's more for competition and measuring performance on the field (as it's on trails which I am used to)
    • Davis Turkey Trot is cheaper and allows for exploration, but removes most of my reason to go without CKI present at the event.

Sometimes tough choices have to be made, and there are times when you do something, not because you know friends who are going to be there, either holding the signs up or watching you from the stands... but as a personal interest, for self-satisfaction.

A final decision was made to head over to Davis for the run, however only close friends (and viewers of this blog) will only know about this - I want my appearance there to be a surprise (as in running, not volunteering), just in case Davis CKI happens to be present.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

San Francisco Fleet Week 2012

#193E: Get on a boat. (Goal completed - USS Makin Island - more like a ship though)

Fleet Week - A week of festivities and music, including Air Shows (featuring Blue Angels), and Ship Tours (for free). If you haven't gotten a chance to see any ships close up, be prepared to be amazed by them. I was impressed by the impressive size of this carrier and its aircraft (from what I've seen from pictures).


View from USS Makin Island, looking towards the SF Harbor

A few miles north is Pier 39 and (if you're up for it) Marina Park. Though you can technically see these air shows anywhere, they offer the best views (with the latter giving you a full 360 view without obstructions). If you can't make it to either, you should get as high as possible (like a parking structure or walkway).

Blue Angels performing stunts

Considerations when Attending: (next year)

  • See the ships first, then the air show - they're larger than you think. But be prepared to walk quite a bit (at least a few miles).
  • If you're not from SF, it's better off to use the BART system and walk over to the piers than driving there - it cheaper than finding a parking space and it gets rather crowded, and this year was no exception to this rule. Be prepared for delays either way.

    (It was 6pm that day after the main events in San Francisco when the main BART gates on the Embarcadero were temporarily closed due to overcrowding on the platform. When they opened, everyone rushed down in order to get aboard the trains. There was also at least one newscaster on the scene. I know - I was there.)


First time here, are BART stations normally this busy?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Expanding Your Horizons: The Volunteer Side


The EYH Earthquake Structure Test.

I've heard of the Expanding Your Horizons events from my science teacher back during my high school years, and they still have them today. No interest because they were for girls only. However, I had the chance to see what it was like being on the volunteer side.

Basically, girls from across schools in various regions (including Downey High) attend this conference to interact with things geared more towards mathematics and engineering, with professors doing most of the teaching.

Volunteer and CKI Tasks

We, however, were presented with this for the day:

  • Serve food
  • Move boxes and supplies to various locations
  • Take down signs and tables when event is over
  • Event Icebreaker - Bang (at a point where I had to react quickly several times in a row and eliminate various people, including Annie Yu (with the reason for her was "Nothing personal, just trust issues.")
  • Watch other experiments.
  • DCM - Victoria Silva failed a name check - apparently she still doesn't know me after being in various events together for the past year.
  • DCM Minigame - find your 'partner' via guessing your character from asking yes/no questions. Found my pair (which was Huijie) but she apparently did not know this.*

But as a side bonus, CKI events always has fellowship afterwards. Which of course happened to be Sushi Buffet and a sushi-eating contest (record at 16). Good stuff - haven't been here for at least two years.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Balls do not work that way!

These are quite a few anomalies on Kroakatoa in which balls observed on the new island seem to break the rules compared to the other island.

Example: You fire two shots in quick succession. In Classic Zuma Blitz, your second shot will (almost always) go cleanly go through the first (assuming you made a match) and if the second matches, you're guaranteed a double tap gap shot score. However on Kroakatoa they can do one of three actions:

  • Your first shot makes a match, and the second ball passes through creating a gap shot. Everyone's happy.
  • (lower left four panes) The first shot (yellow) lands, but the second ball (red) lands in place before the first ball goes in all the way to trigger a match. Balls not cleared and you don't get any points.
  • (entire right half) The first shot (purple) triggers a match, but the second ball (red) doesn't trigger a gap shot. Instead, it behaves as if the fired purple ball still existed, sticks to the nearby set of balls, and rolls them all back with a combo. That's quite a loss of points there.

Both instances elicits a wtf from the beetle in question (as well as lower scores). Keep these cases in mind and fire a bit slower.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Project: ZB Advanced Extended Stats

Previously there was a Top 200 leaderboard made because the person who made the leaderboards discontinued it, before another person picked it up. Now, we have another program designed to help the needs of the users simply because Zuma Blitz didn't provide it yet.

Enter a program called Advanced Extended Stats for Zuma Blitz: A project that was made because people didn't know how well they did or where their points came from.

Description: Allows you to see your performance history in Zuma Bltz. At the time of writing, the game only gave you your score at the end of the game (as well as your friend's scores and level only), this program will give you a lot more than this. Can also give you board records, average board scores, etc.

This program can also get high scores of other people, even though you aren't friends with them - but only if they are also using this program to record their scores.

Implementation: As of November 4, the program is now available for the general public for use. Access it using this link. FB logins are not present at this time, but it might be in the future to display personalized stats.

Purpose: Another attempt to bring back the Top 200 leaderboard. It's a bit more complicated to use though, but at least players are not pulled in automatically - they instead must choose to op-in into this one.