What I Am Up To 05/04/2011
I've been rather busy lately! I'm running a new site, trying my hand at some photography, and battling my way through some stressful exams. Hopefully I'll come out alive next Friday but in the meantime I'm going to take a breather from ym activities to write about... my activities.

First off, my new site is a craigslist competitor in the making called AucDog.com. I've been working on it for about two weeks now with a couple of friends, and it's coming along very nicely. We've worked out the basic layout and UI, and when exams are over I'm going to finish the Google login feature and we're going to launch in Palm Coast, Florida. It's been very fun and challenging so far, and I'm hoping that it turns into a long-term project so that I can have something to spend my spare time on over the summer.

Speaking of spare time, I took up photography yesterday. I bought a very cheap used DSLR, the EOS Canon Rebel for $150. I'm pretty sure I didn't get ripped off (I bought it from a friend), but either way it's much cheaper than buying a new (and quite sexy, if I do say so myself) T3i. The lens that came with it is passable, but I'm looking into a 50 mm F/1.8 lens so I can do some dramatic portraits/close shots and maybe a cheap zoom lens. I'm really excited about this new hobby, and I imagine I'm going to get Photoshop soon after the MacBook Pro arrives so I can start editing too. 

Here's the camera:
As far as exams go, I'm currently in the final phase of my time in the IB program, which consists of essentially nonstop testing. So far, I've taken only three tests, but the time spent testing is already about 7 hours. Thankfully, I only have one test left for this week, but next week is going to be hell: nine tests in five days. To say summer cannot come fast enough is an understatement.
Some readers may have heard of a popular game for iOS known as Game Dev Story. For those not familiar with the title, it is a simulation game in which the player is the head of a video game development studio as it progresses from a small independent to a massive corporation producing its own game console. I bought the game a few months ago after reading rave reviews, but the idea that it inspired in me only hit me recently. What I want to do is create a game based on the same fundamentals - managing specific figures to maintain good results -  but have the player be the head of something far larger: the United State economy. 

The premise of the game is that the player character is considered the greatest expert in the field of economics in all of human history. The year is 2009 in an alternate history of America, where Mitt Romney has ascended to the Presidency. The economy is in shambles, Congress is not sure what to do, and the Federal Reserve is unsure of its own effectiveness. So, through the new President's business connections, the player is brought in. As the economy hero, the player character (PC from now on) begins with absolute control of fiscal and monetary policy, thanks to a Democratic majority that wants to do what it can and a Republican minority that wants to make its President look good.

When I say absolute control of policy, I mean nearly all tools available to the government. For fiscal policy, spending and taxes are the tools available. For monetary policy, players will have access to manipulating interest rates through open market operations, and quantitative easing. 

To shake things up, the game will have random events and elections influenced by the player's actions. Monetary and fiscal policy will affect things like unemployment, inflation, the deficit, quality of life, and by extension the approval of Congress and the President. Elections will be held every two years in game time, and different political factions will rise and fall based on the player's actions. With this can come conflict: politicians will eventually stop following the player's every command and try to pass their pet projects. To deal with this, the player can try to eliminate these politicians through subterfuge, perhaps by using contractionary monetary policy to make them unpopular. 

After 100 years of game time, players will be graded on various aspects of their performance: price level changes, the size of the nation's debt, GDP per capita, and net exports. They will then receive an average of these grades, ranging from F at the worst to A as the best. They will then be able to share this grade with their friends on Facebook or Twitter.

I'm hoping to both start and complete this game over the coming summer months before heading over to Berkeley. At the very least I'd like for it to come out on the iPhone and iPod touch, but if I can raise funding I'd like for it to come out on the iPad and Android phones and tablets. If you have any ideas or responses to the idea, please leave me a comment below!

Xoom 04/10/2011
Hello ladies.

Look at your tablet...
now back to mine.

Now back at your tablet...
now back to mine.

Sadly, your tablet isn't mine.

But it could act like mine
if it used Honeycomb.

What's in your hand?! Back at me! I have it:
it's a tablet with two apps for that thing you like.

Look again! Those apps are now widgets.
Anything is possible when your man uses Android.

Btw, I'm on Verizon.
If you're one of the few people who came on this site when I first created it, you'll notice that there was a sudden stop in posting around the middle of February. Why did I appear to suddenly give up? Mainly because I did. The process of blogging is daunting - especially when you see that there are only 50 people looking at your site on a given day. The effort seems to be futile. What is comes down to, as Phillip Bowden points out, is fear:

"I love to write, and most days I just do it for myself, but there have been so many times recently where I wished I would’ve published something that I let linger in this sort of perfectionist purgatory that is my drafts folder.I get scared that it’s not good enough, that people will scoff at it, that no one will give a shit."

This is what I felt in February. I felt that what I was doing simply wasn't good enough. And that led to me quitting for a time. But I've decided that if I'm going to do something, I must commit. So I'm back. I hope that from now on, you'll be seeing more frequent posts from me on more interesting subjects. These are interesting times, and there are things happening that the media simply isn't covering as they should be - the absurd Paul Ryan budget plan, the fact that our government has settled on a consensus that we need to be cutting deficits right now, and the fact that there is a serious movement to make ban the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. If the real media won't tell it how it is, then I'm going to do the best I can to do so. So here's hoping someone will be around to read what I say. 

I think another quote from Phillip is a great way to end this post: 

"I love doing this, but I’m tired of being scared of putting it in front of people. I intend to fix that. To hell with being scared."