Because, apparently, I have to have a tagline on a Wordpress blog. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:01:26 +0000 en hourly 1 Fact Friday #14 – First Meal on the Moon Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:01:26 +0000 Screenhog Hello, and welcome to a special Good Friday edition of Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about the first meal eaten on the moon.

The first men to land on the moon were two astronauts from NASA’s Apollo 11 space program: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. In July of 1969, their lunar module landed on the surface of the moon, but how did they get their nutritious energy before taking that “giant leap for mankind”? One word: bacon. Well actually, it was more than that… the official first meal on the moon consisted of peaches, sugar cookies, pineapple-grapefruit drink, coffee, and bacon squares.

But was it the first food eaten on the moon? Actually, no. Only a few minutes after the Apollo 11 lunar module touched down on the moon, Buzz Aldrin pulled out plastic packages containing a small wafer and a vial of wine. Aldrin was about to perform the Christian ceremony of Communion, and before doing so, spoke this message to the millions of people watching the live broadcast of the Apollo landing:

“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

Four hours later, Aldrin and Armstrong stepped out on the surface of the moon and into the history books as representatives of one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Fact Friday #13 – Thirteen Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:10:55 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about the number thirteen.

The number thirteen is, of course, the number between twelve and fourteen, but for many people, it has a darker side. People around the world are scared of the number thirteen; so many people, in fact, that there’s a name for this fear: triskaidekaphobia. Why is it an unlucky number? No one knows for sure. However, there are plenty of things people have done to make sure you don’t see the number 13 very often. For instance:

  • Many planes don’t have a thirteenth row. They go from 12 to 14.
  • Many hotels don’t have a thirteenth floor. The elevators also go from 12 to 14. (Some of those hotels also don’t have a fourth floor, since 4 is an unlucky number in China.)

Now, there’s no real reason to be scared of this number. It’s a number, just like any other. However, if you have a major fear of the number 13, you might want not want to take a trip to Disneyland in your lifetime. Why? Well, it has to do with the letter M. You see, the letter M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, and Mickey Mouse, Disney’s mascot, has the initials “M.M.”. Because of this, Disneyland’s street address in Anaheim, California, is 1313 S. Harbor Boulevard.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Iron Man Sun, 06 Apr 2014 05:37:17 +0000 Screenhog

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Fact Friday #12 – Mahouts Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:09:55 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about mahouts (pronounced ma-HOOTS).

For all of recorded human history, man has been training animals to help out in jobs, whether it be donkeys carrying supplies for a journey, oxen helping to plow a field, or dogs helping to keep herds of sheep under control. But perhaps the most interesting relationship between a man and an animal is that of the Asian elephant keepers known as mahouts.

At a young age, a boy from India or southeast Asia would be paired with a young elephant. It then became that boy’s job to take care of the elephant – to feed it, to look after it, and to train it. As the boy grew, so did the elephant, both of them reaching adulthood at around the same time. At this point, the elephant became the young man’s partner in work, which usually involved cutting down trees and then carrying the logs to where they’d be used for construction. By this time, the elephant and the mahout had bonded to one another in friendship, and since elephants can live to be over 60 years old in the wild, that friendship could last a lifetime.

While mahouts have been around for thousands of years, the mahout traditions are starting to fade away. Most of the forests where elephants would work are not allowed to be logged any more, making it difficult to find work where elephants would be useful. So now, mahouts have turned to entertaining tourists by teaching their elephants to play music or paint pictures. And as far as we can tell, most of the elephants do seem to enjoy it. After all, it’s a lot easier to hold a paintbrush than a 400-pound log.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Hyper Hippo Games – I Eat Bananas, Prism Break, and Rain Drop Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:49:20 +0000 Screenhog Last week, I started talking about Hyper Hippo’s game projects. I started with Mech Mice, but lately, Hyper Hippo has been branching into smaller games too.

I Eat Bananas

In this game, you’re a monkey, climbing an endlessly tall vine and eating bananas. The only thing stopping you are falling objects; bathtubs, forks, garbage cans, blue whales… you know the usual stuff. As you climb, you go faster and faster. Can you handle it? Can you get into space… or beyond?

Tip: If you get hit with an object, you still have chances to save yourself. If you see a leaf, grab it, and you begin to climb again. Or, if you collect enough bananas while falling, you’ll have the strength to save yourself.

Prism Break

Before you lies a grid of marbles of all different colors. You can click any of them, but the only way to score big is to find large combos of colors. Can’t find a large color combo? No problem; change the colors on the marbles to make big combos! Red, yellow, and blue combos change the colors of surrounding marbles (for instance, clicking a red marble will change a neighbouring yellow marble into an orange one).

Tip: Big combos also fill the “prism break” meter. Fill it up, and a prism falls. Click it for a huge effect on the game and your score!

Rain Drop

Have you ever gone up to a rainy window pane and touched your finger to the drops, making a bigger drop that falls down the surface of the glass? This is a game about that. It’s a relaxing puzzle game, where you bring drops toward one another with the goal of getting all of the drops off the glass.

Tip: Try and arrange the drops in a line below the spot where you want the large drop to fall. Getting every single drop is a requirement for solving a puzzle with 3 stars.

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Fact Friday #11 – Tallest Mountain Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:08:50 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about the tallest mountain on Earth.

If the name that came to your head was “Mount Everest”, you’re right! But it’s not the only tallest mountain on earth. How is that possible? Well, it’s all in how you measure it.

The reason Mount Everest is called “the tallest mountain” is because it has the highest peak compared to sea level. However, if you measure it from the base of the mountain, the title of tallest mountain is no longer held by Everest. Instead, you’d have to go to Hawaii. The mountain of Mauna Kea is less than half the height of Everest when compared to sea level, but the base of the mountain extends 1 ½ kilometers into the sea. If you count that, Mauna Kea is over 1000 meters taller than Everest.

There is also a third way to measure the tallest mountain: the distance from the peak of the mountain to the center of the earth. Why does this make a difference? Because the earth is not a perfect sphere. It is not completely round. The distance from the North Pole to the South Pole is 42 kilometers less than the diameter of the Earth at the equator – in other words, it bulges out in the middle. So, what’s the tallest mountain close to the equator? Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador. Of course, it was once an active volcano, so if it ever blows its top, who knows how long it will keep that title of “Tallest Mountain”.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Hyper Hippo Games – Mech Mice Tue, 25 Mar 2014 16:47:33 +0000 Screenhog If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you may have noticed that I don’t talk about my job very often. It’s mostly because I want to keep my job and my personal work separate. However, I do get asked fairly often why I left Club Penguin in 2010, and what I’ve been doing since then. The answer is that I work for a company called Hyper Hippo Games, and I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be involved with many other great games. This blog post is about the two Mech Mice games, next week will be a post about some of the other Hyper Hippo game projects:

Our biggest project by far was the world of Mech Mice. Mech Mice takes place in a world where rodents are the smartest creatures on the planet due to the influence of mysterious crystals called “shards”. In this world, battles between the rodents take place, trying to control the future of the shards. This world has spawned two games.

Mech Mice Tactics

The first was Mech Mice Tactics. In this world, you command a squad of up to five mice in a turn-based game, defeating the evil Dark Union. You have the opportunity to use a variety of mice, each with their own special abilities. This project was personally quite rewarding for me, as it marks the first time that I’ve been able to create the full soundtrack for a large game.

Tip: Each mouse has up to two actions that it can take per turn. Pay attention to how many actions it has left, and your strategies for victory will become much better.

Mech Mice Academy

The Mech Mice world from a different point of view. In this game, you’re in the action, training against fellow mice in a first-person shooter. While the whole game is fun, my personal favorite mode is Capture the Flag, which allows you to cooperate as a team towards a single goal.

Tip: In a map, learn the locations of the healing flowers. They have a glowing green ring around them, and can either bring your health up a little bit or maximize it to full.

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Fact Friday #10 – Esperanto Fri, 21 Mar 2014 09:06:47 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about Esperanto.

In the late 1800’s there was a man named Ludwik Zamenhof, who was fascinated by the idea of a world without war, where everyone would understand each other and work out conflict peacefully. For that to happen, he reasoned, the people of the world would all need to speak one language, and so he created a new language: Esperanto.

Zamenhof hoped that the language would be so easy to learn that everyone would start using it. Has that happened? Well, no, although there are some great things that Esperanto has going for it. Unlike English, where one letter can have multiple pronunciations, every one of the 28 letters in Esperanto has only one way to say it. (No spelling bees in Esperanto; if you hear the word, and you know the alphabet, you already know how to spell it!) The language is similar to many of the languages in Europe, meaning that many of its words are already familiar to you: country is “lando”, fast is “rapida”, and big is “granda”.

Despite only have a few thousand native speakers around the world, it is the world’s most successful constructed language. Esperanto has even shown up in popular culture: the British TV show Red Dwarf mentioned it frequently, video game Final Fantasy XI had a theme song with Esperanto lyrics, and there were two feature films made with dialogue entirely in Esperanto. One of them even starred Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner… which is ironic, because having a language like Esperanto all over the galaxy might have made interplanetary relations on Star Trek a lot easier.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Fact Friday #9 – Eye Placement Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:01:51 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about eye placement.

I’m sure it comes as no shock to learn that your eyes are on the front of your head, but it may surprise you to learn that this actually puts you in the minority, because most creatures on earth – if they have eyes at all – do not have them on the front of their head.

Take birds, for instance. Most birds, with the exception of owls, have eyes on the sides of their head, giving them the advantage of being able to see almost everything around them. Some birds, like the woodcock, have their eyes placed so that they actually can see everything around them at the same time; they have complete 360 degree vision. Many reptiles, amphibians, and fish have them on the sides of their head too. Hammerhead sharks take it one step further; their head is shaped like the head of a mallet, with one eye sticking out each side.

It gets weirder than that, though. The Jackson’s Chameleon is a reptile that can move each eye independently, with both eyes looking at anything they want. Slugs and snails have their eyes on the ends of stalks that can retract. And then there’s the starfish. Starfish have simple eyes on the end of each arm. They can’t see much with them, but with enough eyes, they can at least know whether they’re close to home. And since some starfish have 50 arms… well, they have enough eyes to spare.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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Fact Friday #8 – Monotremes Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:00:08 +0000 Screenhog Hello! It’s time for Fact Friday with Screenhog. I am Screenhog, and today we’re talking about the world’s most famous monotreme. (What’s a monotreme? We’ll get to that in a second.)

In 1798, a shipment from Australia arrived at the British Museum. It contained a number of stuffed specimens of a strange looking creature that had the bill of a duck, the body of a large mole, the webbed feet of an otter, and the tail of a beaver. The British Museum brushed it off as a fake, and not without reason. They were getting tired of receiving evidence of fake “mermaids”, which were actually monkeys whose bodies were cleverly attached to fish tails by taxidermists. Then, a few years later, they received a much better preserved specimen, and soon after that, a live one. The British Museum was forced to admit that the duck-billed platypus really did exist.

As it turns out, the platypus was even stranger than they thought. The male platypus turned out to have poisonous spurs on the back of its hind feet that it used to defend itself, and the female platypus could do something unheard of at the time. Despite being a mammal, the platypus lays eggs. Egg-laying mammals are called monotremes, and there are only two types of monotremes known to be alive today. One is the platypus of course, and the other is called the echidna, who is most known for his spiky fur and his long-standing rivalry with Sonic the Hedgehog.

This has been Fact Friday. Screenhog out.

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