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So many times, it happens too fast...you trade your passion for glory. Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive.

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BYU

Somewhere in Nevada...

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BoMToons's News

Posted by BoMToons - August 8th, 2018


In order:

1. I sat down and plugged my body/head into a machine. I understood that it was performing an old computer cleanup trick called "defragmenting" - as the process was carried out, I felt incredibly good, whole, complete.

3. My wife and I sat down together and plugged into a machine. The machine's monitor screen showed a .wav form in green, then the machine began operating and a new row with a red .wav form was inserted above the green .wav form and below the .wav form. My impression was that the machine was implementing into our souls/lives/experience/nature lower lows and higher highs (the existence of one enabling the other - higher highs allowing lower lows and lower lows allowing higher highs).

4. I sat down at a table to finally ask all the questions I had pressing on my mind. I couldn't hear the specific answers, but I saw myself asking the questions and receiving the answers and saw myself being incredibly satisfied with the answers. I still wonder on some level, but the questions are not pressing on me and I feel ok living without them, as if a part of me understands and accepts the answers, whatever they are.

5. My 3 yo son was walking up the stairs in my new rental home. There was a rattlesnake on the step below him. I yelled for him to look out, but he wasn't fast enough so I moved to distract the snake by offering my arm. The snake went for me and my dream paused with the snake's mouth wide, fangs wet, about to bite my arm. I had the impression of taking on a challenge so my son could avoid it.

 


1

Posted by BoMToons - August 8th, 2018


A lot has changed in the last 4 months since I last posted... basically every aspect of my life has been touched.

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It's been, hands-down, the most distressing time in my life, I can't even really delve into the full extent of it all here. The take away, though, before I go on, is best-summarized by a book I've been reading called "Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder" - basically, my life has improved in many significant ways because of being pushed through some tough challenges. I'm amazed by the way things turned out and feel deeply grateful for the experiences. There are still quite a few challenges to overcome, but I'm in a good place mentally and spiritually - a place to rebuild on a more secure, self-aware, foundation.

To be honest, circumstances combined to push me out of my "comfort zone" (by a long shot) and that instability REQUIRED me to re-evaluate my life and goals and potential in major ways which, in the end, allowed me to reach a level in many areas that is much better than I was planning for myself. Many people (friends and family) had seen my potential and encouraged me to "go after it," make sacrifices, push myself, etc., but I was, honestly, playing it safe. With the safe option removed, my best came out. Frankly, that lesson, alone, is revolutionary to me. I have immense gratitude for what happened, even though it felt "forced" at first, I now see it as a huge blessing and am trying to embrace the opportunities provided by it. Despite the improvements not originating with my own agency, I am NOW using my agency to build off the foundation provided externally.

One of the big stressors was my newborn son being in the PICU for a week:

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I also got in a scary accident on the freeway and the insurance company ended up "totalling" my car... which seems pretty trivial looking back on things now.

The biggest change is in my career! I am now a software engineer at a company called TreeRing. It's a funny story because, when I was teaching, I was my school's yearbook editor. We used TreeRing to design, print, and ship our yearbooks. At the time, their product was all built in ADOBE FLASH, which I totally understood and chuckled at when I first saw it because of my background making Flash games. However, I was a bit surprised that they were using a "dead" technology.

Later I started getting emails about their upcoming new product version which would be completely based on modern web technologies like HTML5. Again, I could totally relate because I have been involved in a few companies that have had to swallow the tough pill of switching away from Flash. I ended up printing 2 yearbooks (over the course of 2 years) for my school with TreeRing and their customer service and final product was impressive to me. Plus I admired their business model and history with Flash.

So, I happened to get a notification on LinkedIn about TreeRing having an open Software Engineer position and I felt compelled to apply. Their specifications were obviously for someone who could jump into their new HTML5 product which, at the time, was not totally in my skillset. However, my brother-in-law recently went to a code bootcamp for all the necessary skills and had been working at a company for a couple years with a similar product... so I asked him to give me a crash course!

Over the next couple weeks, I worked around the clock on updating my web-dev skills. Javascript frameworks was my main focus, stuff like jQuery, Angular 2+, React, SASS css, GreenSock, etc. Check out my website bling updates:

http://www.pestoforce.com

I learned A TON [ good thing because I had included all of those skills on my resume... >< ]. Eventually, I got a call from the TreeRing CEO and did a phone interview. We commiserated about Flash and Steve Jobs' big mouth and he said I was the 1st engineering applicant that had also been a customer. He moved me on to a phone interview with the CTO (chief technical officer). I was really intimidated at not being able to answer technical questions in that interview, so I tripled my preparation studies.

That interview was not as "ecstatic" feeling as the one with the CEO and I was pretty convinced I wouldn't get a call back. However, a few days later they asked me to come in to San Mateo CA (6 hours from my house in NV) to meet their dev team and see if I was a good fit. I drove in and met with their team for... 4 hours!!! Longest job interview ever!

Personality-wise, I did pretty well, but their main code wrangler had some tough questions that I had to punt on. The funniest, and most unexpected part, was that when I met with the CTO in-person he asked me a question about how I would approach problems without a clear solution and that required dismissing past assumptions... basically, how would I overcome my in-built biases when approaching code problems... we ended up talking about The Black Swan, Antifragile [books I'd been reading], and a few podcasts I'd been listening to also. I would never have guessed that all my "for fun" reading and listening would help prepare me for job interviews!

Because of the "punted" questions, I was not very hopeful at getting another callback, but I didn't give up! Their main code wrangler had mentioned a product called Fabric.js so I decided to create a demo of their yearbook application using Fabric (after I learned it of course). I ended up sending this to their main code wrangler, the CEO, and the CTO:

http://pestoforce.com/fabric/

They offered me the job the next day :-)

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Pros: Literally more than 3x my teacher salary + benefits, California weather, job that I love in my wheelhouse

Cons: They wanted me to start ASAP

So, we did a mad dash to pack up our home, list it for sale, secure a rental in CA, and move [ amidst tons of other stressors - what seemed like layer upon layer of challenges ]. I struggled with feeling helpless/powerless/a "victim", but knew that would be a downward mental spiral and decided to roll with the punches and come out on top. I also eventually concluded that my troubles were, mostly, of my own making - facing that fact was the healthiest course to overcoming.

We ended up making the work start deadline! Though we had to choose a place about 1 hour outside the Bay Area because of the costs of homes in the area. That means what should be a 1 hour commute, but Bay Area traffic makes that potentially MUCH longer...

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Followup amazement: On my 2nd day at work, they took me out for Burmese food as part of their "New Kid Lunch" tradition. We talked about how I was adjusting, my commute, etc. When we got back to the office, the CEO called me in to a private room and gave me a SIGNIFICANT raise! He explained that he's afraid of me burning out with the commute and that hopefully this will help us move closer... which it will! Once our previous home sells, we'll be able to move right next to the Bay opposite San Mateo, making my commute ~30 mins in heavy traffic. (!) Still pinching myself about that one.

To end off I'll link you to another post about some significant dreams I've had over the last few months.

I love Newgrounds for a lot of reasons (and I still hope to get back to making games some day, but software dev is a close rival), but the reason I love NG today is because it's given me a place to blog over the last decade of my life and I'm really grateful to have everything recorded in a more intimate format than Facebook/Twitter. Optimistically proceeding.

Leave me a comment yo!

--Nick

 


8

Posted by BoMToons - April 6th, 2018


I've been super busy, so I apologize for a lack of posting here... lots to report on, but I'm gonna make you read the boring stuff before I get to the real reason you're here:

I'm still teaching Game Development, Graphic Design, and AP Art at a local high school full time (though I'm just finishing up Spring Break). Check out this game one of my students made, it's a pretty fresh take on the word search genre!

https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/703243

My Advanced Game Dev class has been working on MULTIPLAYER games! I had to teach them a bit of PHP and HTML/CSS (which was rough for them, but I think it's good to ask them to do "hard" things). I plan to take some videos of us playing their games during the upcoming week, I'll post that here!

To make the students' experience a LITTLE easier, I coded a PHP<--->Web Database<--->Flash multiplayer API called P.R.A.M.S. (Pasto's Radical Asynchronous Multiplayer System). To test it out I added multiplayer functionality to my old Jeopardy! game. To make a long story short, the previous J! game, when you got to Final J! required me to use a bunch of slips of paper and pencils to submit wagers and responses (because wagers and responses are private from the other players unlike the rest of the game). With the new system, the players can use their phones/tablets to log into my website (using an access code generated by the main Flash game) and then submit their wagers and responses. Additionally, I'm now keeping a record of all the games' data and using that to keep a running online high score board! Woo!

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Both of my house's toilets started leaking at the same time, so I ended up learning how to rebuild toilets via YouTube... it was frustrating, but ultimately rewarding!

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We celebrated Pi Day on March 14th (though that's not the REAL Pi Day) in my Game Dev classes while we studied Trigonometry for 2D games!

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Did I mention I have the Abobo Cabinet set up in my classroom? This is what my lunch time looks like:

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My students also found a thrift store painting and set up a SHRINE in my classroom:

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I got one of those SWEET Newgrounds Pins!

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I'm also the "PR Coordinator" for my school, and got this GIANT banner made to hang on the outside of the school... it's ridiculously LARGE:

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My AP Art students have been making some RAD stuff:

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I've also been making art with the Apple Pencil on my iPad Pro, trying to keep up with my students (this is how I unwind at night):

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I'm trying to improve my ability to draw/paint human faces, especially to capture "likenesses" which I feel I'm weak with... so I've been doing a series of portraits from Star Trek The Next Generation... :-P

These are posted in the order I painted them.

The Data one came out so bad, I had to re-do it to feel better about myself (first and second attempts shown).

Everyone says my Wesley Crusher turned out looking like that gun protest kid... David Hogg...

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Only Picard left to do! I feel like I'm getting settled into a good technique and process for these, overall it's been a frustrating and helpful exercise!


Here's the good stuff!

I teamed back up with @Luis to re-make Castle Crashing the Beard for its 10-year anniversary! 

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We missed the actual anniversary date deadline, but it's a "spare time" thing and we're making it in GameMaker so it's taking A LOT longer than an equivalent game made in Flash. We don't know what we'll do with it when it's done but, as with the original, it's a tribute to games and people we love, so hopefully we'll figure out how to publish it, at least, on the web for everyone to play.

Here are some animated GIFs to get you HYPED! (Everything is WIP and likely to change a lot):

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If you want to stay up to date on day-to-day progress, follow me on Twitter and Instagram (which I update pretty regularly):

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pestoforce

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pestoforce/

Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment!

 


1

Posted by BoMToons - January 23rd, 2018


I wanted to make a post on Pixel Day because I have some pixel-ish news! @Luis and I are working on a game again! Did you know it's been nearly 10 YEARS since one of our most popular games was released? 

I know, I feel old too...

We're updating stuff on that special game in a way we hope you'll enjoy!

In other news, Deterministic Dungeon Mobile is now out in the Google Play Store for Android devices!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.pestoforce.dd

If you need it on iOS, here's that link!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/deterministic-dungeon/id1244288167?mt=8&ign-itsct=1244288167-1244288167&ign-itscg=0177&ign-mpt=uo%3D4


1

Posted by BoMToons - December 13th, 2017


Hey err'body! You may remember this lil' web game, Deterministic Dungeon, I made a while ago:

https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/674476

It's one of my better ideas for a game, but I think it really fits best as a MOBILE game. So Antony and I (@the-exp) have been chipping away at it for about a year, and it's finally launched on iOS (Apple iTunes Store)!

Here's the short launch trailer:

You can grab the game FOR FREE for iOS devices here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/deterministic-dungeon/id1244288167?mt=8&ign-itsct=1244288167-1244288167&ign-itscg=0177&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Android and the Google Play Store are coming soon!

Let me know if this gets you excited! I know it does it for me!


Posted by BoMToons - November 28th, 2017


This is a quick update to let you know I'm still around and teaching Game Development to high schoolers!

One of my students submitted a couple of her games, check 'em out and leave a review, she's really appreciating all the detailed feedback she's been getting! (good job Newgrounds!)

https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/702632
https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/702633

Every day I think: "Man, I wish I had this class when I was in highschool!"

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The template:

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There's also some talk with @luis about reuniting to revisit an old project for its 10-year anniversary... but I'm keeping it hush hush for now...

Also, we got a new car!

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I did Inktober back in October, and it was a learning experience! Doing non-digital stuff was a nice change of pace. Here are some highlights!

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I should really upload these to the art portal I now realize...

What have you been up to for the last few months?

Hugs and kisses,

--Nick


Posted by BoMToons - June 9th, 2017


I can't believe it's been 3 months since my last post. Life has been a whirlwind!

I finished my 1st year of teaching. It was a total stress the first semester because I was "student teaching" and under constant observation, then I got my feet under me for the second semester.

I don't know if it's a 1st-year teacher thing, but I really grew to care for my students... I've been a bit melancholy the last week without seeing them.

I'm going to miss them over the summer and the seniors FOREVER! It's bittersweet to see them moving on to bigger and better things while leaving our school behind. Hopefully I made some small difference in their lives.

Here's a pic of my empty desk, it was NEVER this clean the whole year...

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Here's how we ran our "departmental meetings:"

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Here's a picture of me at the "teacher appreciation lunch" this last Wednesday at the El Dorado casino buffet:

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Too much happened during the year to really do it all justice here, but I re-did the school website (design and code - including an admin panel), graduated college with my teaching degree (I had to do my own homework while creating homework for my students), made a bunch of PR videos and managed the school's PR in-general, I made over 40 videos for my teaching YouTube channel, taught around 80 students every day (subjects: computer literacy, graphic design, digital game development, oh yeah... and AP ART!), organized a bunch of school events, organized field trips, and even designed a yearbook at the last minute (last 2 weeks of school...). All of that with lots of help from lots of people.

The stats don't really paint the picture though (see poem below), there were daily laughs, trials, sorrows, and joys along the way. Compared with my normal "work from home" gig, it was, honestly, emotionally draining. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything though.

Will I continue teaching next year? Tentative answer is "yes" but I've got some stuff simmering this summer with my own game development interests that may turn into something long-term.

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Tonight I hope the Golden State Warriors finish off the Cavs, but until then, here are a couple poems I wrote and a video of my classroom's unofficial mascot:

Stats:

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while true

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Chancho:

Spirits of

Departing students

Tap on glass

One more class?

They ask

Or spread these wings

& fly

To the next branch?

 There it is. How have your last 3 months been?

 


Posted by BoMToons - March 24th, 2017


I'm on Spring Break from school (last week and the coming week) and am helping my friend start a little side-business...

He did a Kickstarter (<-- don't click that link until you've answered the questions below) a while back to sell Aluminum Settlers of Catan pieces that were anodized to your choice of color. They turned out awesome!

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They are quite hefty and substantial in your hand and look great in-game.

Anyway, I need YOUR input:

How much would you pay for a base set of these (4 cities, 5 settlements, 15 roads, and a robber) made of aluminum and anodized?

How much would you pay for a "Seafarers" expansion set (4 cities, 5 settlements, 15 roads, a robber, 15 boats, and a pirate) also made of aluminum and anodized?

Just give me your honest opinion on price point!

1405066_149039447831_da8f1c553f3c75080aa847e2e6472678_original.jpg

 

If you're not sure what "anodizing" is, watch this sweet video:

 

 


Posted by BoMToons - March 15th, 2017


For Pi Day (March 14), I taught a bunch of high-school kids about using Trigonometry for video games! I think there were some lights going on! (We also ate Costco pies). Watch these videos to learn for yerself!

I'm still amazed at how these kids can crank out the answers to equations, but don't know anything about practical applications of Trig...

 

 

When did Trig "gel" in your brain?

 


Posted by BoMToons - February 25th, 2017


Not much new to report except that I'm still teaching - I got my official teaching license approved this week so I'm now LEGIT!

As part of my continuing efforts to record ALL THE KNOWLEDGE in my brain and share it with the world, I made a video about the totally unintuitive yet surprisingly genius Adobe Flash/Adobe Animate drawing tools and how I use them in my personal art approach:

 

I'd recommend watching it in DOUBLE SPEED!

 


 

In other news I was thinking about the personality test I took a while back and I remember a bunch of Newgrounds people taking the same test and posting their results (https://www.16personalities.com/) - so I went back through all my news posts looking for the conversation, but I couldn't find it :\

However, it was interesting to review my old posts and, as I've said before, I'm really grateful Newgrounds has its blog system to keep a record of my past thoughts and concerns pains and successes. Also, kudos to my "past self" for being so consistent in posting updates. Time really flies and sometimes it's easy to lose track of where we've been. Remembering the past in detail helps us take bearing on where we want to go next.

EDIT: I found the post! http://bomtoons.newgrounds.com/news/post/950980

The post is about starting my own game studio... I feel far from that now... but the end of the comments mentions my idea to start a school with GAMES as the curriculum for all the subjects... so I'm a little bit on that track now... maybe I AM working toward my long term goals and not just settling!