Ben Ehrlich provides his terrible opinions about all things technical.

From the Bad Idea Department – The Quadrant System: Fixing the Budgeting Problem

It seems like every year in the United States there’s another crisis when polarized senators can’t agree on a budget. Everyone has their own priorities and causes they need to support to make good on the bribes campaign contributions they were given, and everyone needs to posture to make their constituents think they care about them.

The problem here is that sometimes this posturing results in real people being affected. The government shuts down, workers get furloughed, Santa has to stop making toys, and the works get generally mucked up. What if I told you I had a solution to the nation’s budget woes, and all it required was eliminating 99% of the federal government?
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From the Bad Idea Department – LANE ENDS: The Highway System

Everyone hates traffic. What if I told you we could end traffic altogether with a simple plan? Wouldn’t that be worth investing billions of dollars and a lot of fraudulent eminent domains claims to?

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Snippet of the Day: Pure CSS Animated Play, Pause, and Buffer Button

The title says it all: A pure CSS animated play, pause, and buffer button. The way I have it implemented, it uses JS to switch between play, pause, and buffer states, but it’s the CSS dataset/class selectors that actually control the appearance/animations. If you really wanted to do this in pure CSS, you could make the button a label for a checkbox and control the states that way. I’m not sure why you’d want to do it that way, but if you did, that’s a way you could do it. Anyway… Continue reading “Snippet of the Day: Pure CSS Animated Play, Pause, and Buffer Button”

“We’re Shutting Down Our 3G Network”


This is a tale of first world problems, culminating in me being pissed off about getting a free phone–so I’ll say up front: Yes, I know this is petty and silly, but also, I’m furious with how AT&T has handled their transition off 3G and I’m here to complain about it.

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Script Packaging Tool

This is a really short post to let my readers know about a thing I made to package scripts. I used this to combine all the files for my JS game engine, and figured I’d share it. I’m not a Python dev, so the code is a little stinky (hence why this is just a Gist and why this isn’t on my Software page), but it works really nicely.

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Pizza Recipe

This is a bit out of place, but it’s my blog, so here it is: Me and Isabel’s Pizza Recipe!

We’ve been making pizzas for about six months now, and are by no means experts, but have gotten to a pie that’s decidedly better than 90% of the pizza in Boston (which is admittedly not the highest bar in the world, but still). This recipe takes an hour from start to finish (that includes dough rising and yeast proofing), though, the longer you let the dough rise, the more yeasty and flavorful the dough will be. This recipe yields one very delicious, medium sized, thin crust, New York style pizza. It’s so good we never order pizza anymore.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

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The Good, the Bad, and the Licensed

The following is an essay I wrote for a university course in 2017. I just re-discovered it while going through some old files and thought I’d post it for kicks and giggles. I know the MLA format is weird in a blog post–I’ll probably reformat and properly edit it at some point.

Since video game systems became capable of crudely representing characters on screen, companies have been putting their products and characters into them. It seemed like a logical extension of product placement in television—a practice almost as old as the medium itself. Some games based on characters from movies have been wildly successful, and indeed, Goldeneye 64 proved that first person shooters could be seriously successful on home video game consoles. For every successful adaptation of a licensed property however, there are a multitude of failures. In general, the games are shoddy, rushed jobs, that virtually no care was put into.

In general, equally as little attention is put into their release as is put into development. These titles slip away into obscurity, but they are worth digging up (sometimes literally) because there are lessons to be learned from the idiotic mistakes of the past. A licensed property won’t necessarily be bad because it is licensed, but they are often characterized by low budgets and low effort, and there is a limit to how tolerant a customer will be, even if the property is well known and well loved. Which they aren’t even always.

Though many licensed games largely slip under the radar (see every Shrek game ever made), there a few that have reached the status of legend in the gaming community. Games like Superman 64, frequently called one of the worst titles for the Nintendo 64, and occasionally the worst of all time (Totilo). Superman 64 is so poor in quality and so hard to play that the Attract Screen features a demo video of someone—no doubt someone who worked on the creation of the game—trying and failing to complete the first level. This game has been talked about enough though. So too has E.T., a game for the Atari 2600 which Atari so regretted making that they dug a hole in a desert in New Mexico, and buried all remaining copies in existence (Schreier).

What will be discussed in this investigation are games which have fallen into obscurity, and a few which are well known, but have more history behind them than a glance would reveal.

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Some People Hate it Oldschool

If you follow me on twitter, you saw that I launched a telnet version of Underground Dungeon. UGD is written in JS, so a port to Node + telnet module was pretty simple. My expectations were, as they are for most of my games, that my mom would play it, and that would be about all the attention it would get. In this case I was incorrect, and a large amount of bots seemed to have joined my mother in my fan club. Continue reading “Some People Hate it Oldschool”