Thursday, 4 May 2017

Playing dress up with dream costumes

This image is hosted here just so I can post it on LD4all. I used Azalea's Game of Thrones scene creator to illustrate two costumes from my dream last night. These character creators can be a nice and quick way to make dream illustrations without spending too much time and effort on it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

When the mind wanders, it sees faces...

A few days ago, I had the unfortunate experience of being stuck for a while in a room that was in need of renovation. There was nothing to read, nothing to do, and I couldn't move. My eyes had nothing else to look at than the stains and holes in the floor. Before long, the shapes started to take on meaning. There was a baboon, there was Mickey Mouse, and right before me was a fire-breathing dragon!
This stain looks like Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse

It is interesting how we all see patterns in random things like clouds and stains. Who has never looked at clouds drifting across the sky, and seen people and animals? I often see maps of familiar countries and fictional worlds in the clouds. Trees and mountains can have faces and bodies, so clear that I can clearly understand where the myths of Trolls come from. 

This is called pareidolia. It is what happens when the brain interprets a random image as a familiar pattern. The single most common pattern generated in this way is a human face. Pareidolia is the phenomenon behind the "face of the moon", the inkblot test, and some say it is the reason why we can see a smiley icon as a smiling face. 

This stain looks like a naked woman performing hammer throw
Naked woman throwing a hammer
There are many communities and blogs out there dedicated to pareidolia. All of them, at least the ones I have found, are filled with images of things that look like faces. All it can take is a pair of dots, and the human brain will interpret it as "looking at you". Even the word "look" contains a pair of eyes when we look closely at it! 

When I was a child, my bedroom had curtains with large brown flowers on it. That pattern gave me nightmares, because my young eyes saw a witch in the flowers. She was wearing cat eye glasses and a scarf. I couldn't understand why my parents' couldn't see the witch, when she was clearly staring at me from every flower on those curtains. In fact, I couldn't even see the flowers back then. I could only see the witch and some random swirls. 

This stain looks like a fire breathing dragon
Dragon breathing fire on the ground
A couple of years ago, my parents were cleaning in their basement and found those old curtains from the 70s. They took them up and draped them over a chair in the living room, because they thought I might be interested in taking them with me. There was the witch, staring at me! 

I don't have a picture of the curtains; they are in my parents' house. I do have pictures of the stained floor and its strange inhabitants. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Tetris Effect stole my sleep

The bedroom is quiet and cool, the bed is soft, the sheets are smooth. I lie down and relax, so sleepy that not even a daydream will stay in my head. I drift off...only to see the game I played before bed vividly in front of my eyes. It repeats over and over and over again forming the same patterns.

Screenshot of Ingress hack that rewarded a JARVIS Virus
I have been playing a clicker RPG on my phone for the last few days. It is a game where your damage is determined by how fast you can tap the screen, and you have a team of followers who deal constant DPS. The numbers rise exponentially with each new follower. Last night, I entered an in-game tournament. This made me spend more than an hour on it directly before going to sleep.

It looks like that the pattern of taps and numbers has gotten stuck in my brain. All night, in the non REM sleep stage, where I should have been comfortably unconscious and resting, has this game been playing in my mind. Where I should have seen random scenes and lines of sleep, I have seen coins explode out of beaten enemies. Even in my dreams, things kept increasing exponentially; tens, then hundreds, then thousands, then millions...

Yesterday's game isn't the first game to cause this for me. The most annoying side effect was from Diablo 1. I was constantly going down to lower levels for several nights. Ingress has also had a strong effect. I was making lines and triangles not only in my half sleep hallucinations, but in my nightly dreams.

This is called the Tetris Effect. It isn't limited to computer games. My mother has told me about how she has spent entire nights with visions of knitting after learning new patterns. Psychologists think this has something to do with learning and subconsciously forming memories. I think it means that I played that game too much yesterday.

Friday, 20 January 2017

That isn't yellow! That's blue-orange!

LED lighting has become hugely popular. I can understand why. They consume little power, and come in all kinds of sizes and colours. LED bulbs can even replace "old fashioned" bulbs in any kind of lamp. After my country banned the sale of incandescent bulbs, LED replacements are sold everywhere.
Yellow LED Christmas tree lights

Most of them come in the colour "warm white". It is warm, that can't be denied, but it isn't white.  It is a combination of blue and yellow. The LED itself produces blue light. It is covered in a yellow fluorescent material, and the mix between the yellow and the blue wavelength is ideally seen as white by the human eye.

Humans, on the other hand, come with different colour vision. Some are colour blind. Others, like me, have a more sensitive colour vision. I'm especially sensitive when it comes to tones of yellow. Very few sources of artificial light can produce a true yellow colour, and that is especially true for LEDs. The yellow component of cheap warm white LED light lies on the orange side of yellow, so the mixed colour comes out as "orange-blue". I can see both the orange and the blue in it. "Yellow" decorative LEDs are even worse. To my eyes, they are orange-blue, similar to a street lamp. It is an interesting colour, but it is far from yellow!

I have great difficulties explaining this to my SO. To his eyes, white LEDs are white and yellow LEDs are yellow. There is no such thing as yellow-blue or orange-blue to him. I call street lights purplish orange. To his eyes, they are orangeish yellow. This comes from a passionate hobby photographer, who is far from colour blind!

The NPS building in Bodø in yellow orange street lightTo make matters worse, my phone camera can't capture yellow-blue, orange-purple or any of those mixed colours. On the picture of Christmas tree lights above, the light to the left is a blue-orange LED and the one to the right is a beautiful yellow incandescent bulb. My phone camera captures both of the colours as "yellow".

The photo of the building was taken in bright purple-orange light. It shows up as yellow in the photo. The phone's "eye" has a colour vision more similar to my SO's eyes than to mine. This could be part of the reason why he is a so much better photographer. (No, just joking, it has something to do with talent too)

The painting below gives a better idea of what street lights look to me. It shows both the purple and the orange, although in real life the purple also shines through the bright orange light from the bulbs. It is impossible to mix this colour in a digital painting, because the screen can onyl produce red, green, and blue wavelengths. It can't do purple-orange.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Playing with the AP score in Ingress

I enjoy playing Ingress. The game has both a global score based on how large an area each faction controls and how populated those areas are, and a personal score called Activity Points (AP). This works just like experience points in any RPG. You need them in order to level up.

Everything you do in Ingress awards AP. Recharging a portal gives a tiny amount, building a field gives a large amount. Taking down a portal with multiple fields attached to it gives the most AP of any single action in the game.

I sometimes play with the AP score, aiming for funny numbers. The key to this is watching the last digit of the score. When I wanted to aim for exactly 28 million AP, like in the screenshot, I first did the actions that gave large chunks of AP until I was getting close. A few thousands away from the goal is usually enough to fine tune the last digit.

The action that gives the least predictable amount is glyph hacking. The score is based on how fast the glyph hack is done. When I was getting close to the goal, I glyph hacked until the last digit of my AP score was 0. Then the rest was easy. Placing a mod gave 150 AP. Placing two mods on two portals gave 300. With only a few hundreds left, I recharged a remote portal until the score was right.

Actions that will leave the last digit intact:

Quick hacking an enemy portal (100 AP)
Glyph hacking and not getting all the glyphs right (50-200 AP)

Actions that will increase the last digit with 5:

Placing a resonator (125 AP)
Upgrading somebody else's resonator (65 AP)
Destroying a resonator (75 AP)
Placing a mod (125 AP)

Actions that increase the last digit with 3:

Making a link (313 AP)
Making a field (1563 AP)

Destroying links and field also gives a variable amount of AP based on how many you destroy at the same time. I usually don't include destruction in the last part of aiming for a certain score, because it is so unpredictable.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The tea that tastes like WoW

WoW screenshot of a shadow priestI recently wrote about how smells can instantly trigger memories, and wondered if the same was also true for tastes. The two senses are after all closely related, large parts of what we perceive as taste comes from the nose.

I enjoy playing games, and while games like Ingress and Pokemon Go makes me go outside every day, it is more comfortable to sit inside and play World of Warcraft on a freezing October day like today. (Don't worry, i DID hack a portal today.) I have played WoW on/off since the beginning of the game, and often keep a cup of hot tea next to the computer while I play. Especially in the Burning Crusade area, I consumed large amounts of Chinese smoked tea.

Until this day, the taste of this tea makes me instantly think of WoW, especially a zone in Outland. The connection is so strong that when Warlords of Draenor came out, playing in the remade zone made me crave the same tea again.

When I sat down to play the game today, my SO made a cup of smoked tea for me and placed it next to my computer. It made the experience perfect. I believe that the familiar tea made me immerse myself even stronger in the game.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Chaotic randomness

I have been going through my image files lately, making backups and gathering files together on my computer. Among all the photos of flowers and the sky, I found some half forgotten "art". I call it "art" and not art, because these are randomly generated fractal images. I must admit that I know very little about fractals, but they are still fun to play with, The program I used to use is called Chaotica. It is free. In fact, a lot of the "artwork" on this site is made in Chaotica.

The way I use it, the first step is always a random flame. The program presents you with nine different random outputs, and you choose one. I usually choose the one that looks the most calm and ordered. From there, I tweak individual settings until it looks like I want it to.

This is the Blue Planet Eater. It is inspired by a terrifying dream about exactly that: a planet eater. It looked vaguely snail-like and was the size of a planet.

This is called "Fire Dragons", because after I adjusted the palette, the dragons stood out to me.

I couldn't call this anything else than the Rainbow Nebula.

This one doesn't have a title yet. This one has less randomness and more manual tweaking than most of my images so far.

All of these were made a couple of years ago. I have recently rediscovered and reinstalled Chaotica, because of the backup work. The resolution and size is limited in the free version, but it works well enough for me.