Categories
My Games My Projects

Paddlist

A Pong clone with a twist, made with MonoGame.

Platforms

This project is only designed for Windows.

Installation

From Source

  1. Clone the repository at https://github.com/mattwrench/paddlist.git
  2. Run the provided solution in Visual Studio.

From Binaries

  1. Download the ZIP archive here
  2. Extract all files
  3. Run Paddlist.exe

Controls

  • Move Up: Up arrow/W
  • Move Down: Down arrow/S
  • Pause: Space
  • Restart: Escape

License

This software is released under the MIT License.

Categories
Stray Thoughts

After College

When you are a kid, school feels endless. Through most of elementary school, I had no idea how many years school lasted. I figured one day I would reach the 37th grade and then maybe I would move on to the real world. Kids are stupid, and I was no exception.

12th grade and high school graduation did eventually come around though. Like most students, the next step was college. Unlike everybody else though, I took twelve years to get my degree. Even Van Wilder did not spend that much time in college.

So now as I near age 30, I have to contend with the question most of my peers already handled years ago: What comes next? Counting pre-school, I spent over two and a half decades pursuing my education. That chase is all I have ever known. And now it is gone.

Categories
IT

How I Got My First IT Job

Like many IT professionals, I am not a people person. Working with computers usually hides this flaw. Unfortunately, my previous required extensive people skills; I supervised over 100 cashiers and baggers as a front end manager for a grocery store. I was not good at my job.

After I dropped out of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. With no clear options before me, I went to work at the same grocery store I bagged at in high school. Eventually, I decided to make a career out of it and became an assistant manager then a full manager. Dealing with customers and employees taught me a lot about how to deal with difficult interpersonal interactions. But even though I liked working with my team and admired many of my mentors, I realized the job was not for me and decided to pursue a path in IT.

After a few months, I got an interview for an entry level IT technician position with the company I was already working for. Before the interview, I spent tens of hours studying general IT subjects, but there is so much to learn about technology that I knew my preparation would only be a drop in the bucket. When the day of the interview arrived, I was nervous my complete lack of experience would be exposed in a humiliating fashion. I was expecting to face esoteric questions about Linux administration and Cisco networking.

Categories
Programming

One Game a Month

There is this great album from Rifti Beats called DRAGON BALL LOFI. Unsurprisingly, it combines two of my favorite interests: lofi hip hop and Dragon Ball Z. Bruce Faulconer’s score for the series was already legendary with so many great pieces, but this album modernizes many tracks to make them easy lofi hip hop beats to study/relax to.

The track I have been listening to the most is “Piccolo Trains Gohan”. The best part is when lines from the English dub are woven in and Piccolo says, “You’ll laugh at your fears when you find out who you really are.” That song is extremely motivational. In fact, DBZ’s greatest appeal to me when I was a kid was that same motivation. The show’s core idea was that its characters grow stronger through training and emotional development. Watching Dragon Ball Z made you believe that anything was possible through hard work.

As a kid, I must have practiced the Kamehameha a thousand times but was never able to shoot an energy beam out of my palms. However, the shows lesson that hard work can make you stronger is something I have always carried with me.

Categories
Stray Thoughts

You Can (Not) Start Over

Super Mario 64 ruined my life. My seventh birthday was unforgettable. I had bugged my parents for months to get me a Nintendo 64. On the morning I turned 7, I ran downstairs, saw a massive gift, tore into the paper, and unwrapped my first video game console. With it, my parents also bought me the definitive N64 game and the greatest launch title ever produced: Super Mario 64

My dad set the console up in our living room as I eagerly watched. My hands trembled with excitement as I picked up the controller. I flipped the power switch, and my life was forever changed. I was now a gamer. The rest of the morning was spent defeating King Bob-omb and Koopa the Quick. Eventually, my mom made me put down the controller. We went to eat pizza, play mini golf, and race go-karts. That afternoon was one of the most memorable times of my childhood, but I was still excited to go home and play more Super Mario 64.

When we arrived back at our house, my skin was still toasty from spending hours in the Texas sun. The only light I planned on bathing in for the rest of the day was going to come out of the TV set. I turned the console back on. I was ready to move Mario on from Bob-omb Battlefield to Whomp’s Fortress. But instead I had another idea: Why not just start over from the beginning?

Categories
Programming

How to Get a Computer Science Degree in Less Than a Year

My diploma arrived in the mail this week. I tore open the thick cardboard envelope, pulled out the piece of paper inside, and looked at my accomplishment. I was now a college graduate. CoVID-19 made the event rather anticlimactic, but I was still excited since I was able to finish my degree in less than a year.

Last year, I decided to enroll at Western Governors University. WGU is a non-profit online-only school with many bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. I chose computer science. One of the best features of WGU is that students are not beholden to a traditional pace. You sign up for a standard semester’s worth of classes, and once you finish those, you can move on to the next class. Pass that one and you can add another. Repeat until you have finished your degree. Best of all, students pay a flat fee per semester regardless of whether you take four classes or fourteen.

I transferred into WGU with 30 credit hours, so I still had to take 90 credit hours which I finished in less than 9 months. At that pace, finishing a full 120 credit hour program would have been doable in less than a year. Several students have finished their degrees in a single six-month term. My path to success was simple: