Spelling Bee 2010

It’s Scripps Spelling Bee time!  It’s like the Super Bowl of spelling bees, but with more crushing emotional injuries!  As I understand it, the spellers who misspell a word will stay on stage, but will not sit with family.  In terms of humiliation, that seems like kind of a lateral move: on one hand, you have other, more successful spellers sitting next to you; on the other you have the disappointment of your parents to deal with.  I’m kind of torn.  The time has come to once again handicap some of the more notable semifinalists (please note that I am almost universally proven wrong on these predictions and all odds are against).

Rory O’Donoghue: From his bio, “he has won numerous awards for art and dog mushing,” which is cool.  Also from his bio, “[He] especially likes books by Dan Brown; his favorite is Angels and Demons,” which is decidedly not cool.  His words through round three haven’t been overly challenging, so I’m taking a wait and see approach until he gets to the crucible of the semifinals. Odds: 7:1  Special Awards: 2010 Wendy Guey Memorial Cutiemuffin Award Update: Went out in the first round of the semis (Round 4) as I was writing this post.

Esther Park: AKA, “Baby Leslie Knope.”  She did pretty well last year, so my estimation on her is up a little bit. Odds: 5:3

David Phan: Posture, kid.  Look into it.  I’m not a phan. Odds: 10:1 Update:Out in round 4 on “bilophodont”

Grace Remner: Bit of a wild-card, this one.  She’s got the home-school thing going on.  She likes better books than Rory Calhoun up there, and she’s had some difficult words coming into the semifinals.  But she’s still an unknown quantity. Odds: 3:2

Neetu Chandak: She’s the Kurt Warner of this year’s bee.  A fourth-time speller, she’s got to be out to prove something, but can she actually pull it off this year? Odds: 3:2

Tom Winter: The kid’s from New Zealand, he looks like a twinkly vampire, has the name from a script written by somebody who just read Syd Field, and bio is 90% about his guinea pigs.  Goodbye twinkly vampire, and may a flight of angels sing thee to thy rest. Odds: 20:1 Update: Out in one.

Connor Aberlé: There are going to be so many pictures of this kid with a hitler moustache on the internet. Odds: 7:3 Update: Auf Wiedersehen

Aditya Chemudupaty: More Dan Brown love going around. And his favorite athlete is Tony “Choke in the Playoffs” Romo.  So, there’s that. Odds: AS MANY AS POSSIBLE:1

Tim Ruiter vs. Andrew Grose: The two kids pictured spelling on their arm and placard, respectively. Odds: THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE UPDATE:Ruiter is out in round 4.

Shotput, pt. 2: Angle controls

So we have a way to control the power of our shotput shot.  Another integral component is being able to control the angle.

Controls: Hold space to increase angle, release to fire.

[WP_UnityObject src=”http://www.francisfernandez.com/unity/shotput_0_3.unity3d”/]

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;

public class TrackAndFieldAngle : MonoBehaviour {
    public delegate void FireControl (float angle);

    public bool canControl = true;

    public FireControl fireControl;
    private float _angle = 0.0f;
    public float maxAngle = 90.0f;
    public float angleStep = 0.01f;

    // Update is called once per frame
    void Update () {
        if (canControl && Input.GetButtonDown ("Angle")) {
            StartCoroutine (raiseAngle ());

    private IEnumerator raiseAngle () {
        while (canControl && Input.GetButton ("Angle")) {
            _angle = Mathf.Clamp (_angle + angleStep, 0, maxAngle);
            yield return null;
        canControl = false;
        // I use a delegate here to notify interested parties when space has been released and is ready to fire.
        this.fireControl (_angle);

    // angle is read-only
    public float angle {
        get {
            return this._angle;

I may go back and rework it so the script is not reliant on Update to operate.  Some items of note, though:

the coroutine returns null rather than 0, per this blog post by AngryAnt,

and C# delegates are a really nice way to do notifications.

At last, cats on the internet!

I just got a macro lens for my new DSLR, and it takes really nice pictures for such an inexpensive lens:



1″  f 1.8 iso 100

What’s really great about this picture is that he’s not giving me the evil eye he usually gives me for moving in!

Power Control script

Following is the code for the power control script.  I’ve annotated it more with an eye towards beginning/intermediate Unity users than anything else. At the least, bits of it won’t make sense without some grasp of C#/.NET conventions.

Read more

Shotput 0.1

I always enjoyed the old Konami Track & Field games, so I thought I’d try to work out the controls and do a shotput game in a similar vein with physics.  This demo just has the “Power” part of the controls (the part controlled by jamming two buttons alternately) and the scene set up (with primitives).  The demo is done in the free version of Unity and requires the Unity plugin.


Power: A/S (alternating)

[WP_UnityObject src=”http://www.francisfernandez.com/unity/shotput_0_1.unity3d”/]

I’m going to keep all the controls separate (power, angle, fire) and have a manager for all the different events to tie various controls together. That way I could use the power controls again for, say, the 100m dash. The next step will be to add the controls to direct the angle of the shot.


This is the obligatory test post.