'I learned how to draw': Spokane native Jody Zellman's comic strip 'Earth to Planet' joins S-R lineup


Zellman competed with nine other artists during autumn to score a weekly gig as the new cartoonist in The Spokesman-Review. “Earth to Planet,” which turns 3 this the summer, won the reader’s choice competition and will run every Wednesday starting today.

I thought it was pretty cool that Jody Zellman's Earth to Planet had a chance back when I first heard about the contest last August. Happy to hear he got the gig.

Color Palette Math

I spent some time today fiddling around with simplifying a few popular 16 color palettes because of an Adventuron text color limitation. While there are no color palette limitations on any graphics files you import, Adventuron only supports 3 character hex codes when setting text colors. That translates to only 4096 possible colors which should be perfectly adequate for most uses, but makes matching an arbitrary limited color palette a little bit tricky. I was curious to see how close a given palette would look to the original if I simplified it down to three character hex codes by rounding to the closet value. So I did a little math, figured out that 3 color hex values translate to a 17 number gap in decimal and used that knowledge to start rounding up or down.

The first 16 color palette I tried this on was Dawnbringer 16. The upper half of each color is the adjusted value, while the bottom half is still the original shade for comparison.
I ended up tweaking the hex values on the fourth color from 545 to 444 because I felt the rounded result was a little too purple compared to the original, but otherwise I stuck with rounded values.

The second palette I tried was Pico-8 and I have to say it translated quite nicely. The visible differences are all still quite subtle and there weren't any I manually tweaked.

Overall I'd say they're definitely close enough to pass muster. I don't think I would bother to convert existing images to the aligned palettes, instead I would just use the values for the text that I wanted to match knowing that it should be close enough and not really discernible.

GSL Update

Tough end to a game that Ferris led 3+ quarters as Gonzaga Prep came back behind some clutch Liam Lloyd 3 pointers in the 4th quarter to win 53-45. The biggest win of the night went to University who defeated GSL leader Central Valley 74-64. That outcome wasn't surprising given how close they played the first go around and how well University has been playing of late (even though they've come away with losses). Rounding out the night LC defeated Mead 65-53 (for the second time this season) to further cement the weirdness of the league this year.

At this point it's still really hard to predict how the three and four 4A spots will shake out. I expect Central Valley to beat LC Friday and lock up the one seed, and Prep is assured of the two seed thanks to last night's win and Mead's loss. It's mathematical possible for Ferris, Mead, and University to end up in a 3 way tie at 7-7, but pretty unlikely. I'm not sure how they would sort that one out, although Mead would hold the head to head edge over the other two teams. I think Mead has the three seed pretty much locked up unless Ferris wins out (unlikely, given two tough opponents) and University must win to stay alive tomorrow. No question that the Ferris vs. University game will have a playoff atmosphere. Should be fun.

Adventuron Game Jam

I spent a little bit more time playing with Adventuron today and its built-in theming capabilities. Part of my motivation lay in potentially participating in the Treasure Hunt Jam on itch.io. The built-in theme used for Two is the starting point, but I was curious if I could tweak the layout to something other than a red titlebar and red horizontal rule divider. It turned out I very much could once I learned the basics of theme inheritance and that the separator line was even more customizable than I anticipated1.

Getting back to what making a game for the Treasure Hunt Jam is all about:

Treasure hunt is a sub-genre of text-adventure in which the player must collect some objects that are considered treasure objects, and place them in a room that is known to be the treasure room.

Some treasures may not require a puzzle to be solved, but most treasures usually require some kind of challenge or puzzle (or series of puzzles) to be solved in order to be able obtain them.

Though the text adventure form has evolved a long way from the treasure hunt today, it's exactly what classics Colossal Cave Adventure, Adventureland, and Zork I were when they came out. Adventuron's retro aesthetic2 makes it perfect fit for a throwback game jam like this. I have a few ideas for turning the premise on its head, we'll see if that's actually doable given the other constraints of this jam.

  1. Although I think it's more retro to keep it simple.

  2. Particularly with the Two style theme that takes it all the way back to a Scott Adams style text adventure.

Garage Door Opener Shopping

Our 20+ year-old garage door opener failed unexpectedly on Saturday. It's not the end of the world as only Mary is parking her car in the garage right now and even that was a recent change motivated by some problems with her door locks freezing in really cold temperatures. So it's not a big deal to have her park outside again temporarily while I figure out the next steps.

I've been doing some research on various brands and models on Amazon and Costco's respective websites, but haven't made a conclusive decision yet. I'm not sure of the horsepower of the current Wayne Dalton brand model that we have, but it's a relatively compact unit. I don't know how much our door weighs either which is probably the main factor in deciding on an opener. It has some heft and insulation compared to a basic metal door, but it doesn't feel that hard to open and close manually- the springs are definitely still doing their job. Interestingly most current models are built around quieter DC motors (and aren't really rated by horsepower like AC motors) and often use belt drives. I think a 1/2 Horsepower rated motor could work (especially as smoothly and slowly DC openers seem to open and close doors), but a 3/4 HP motor and up would provide more longevity over time. I'm also very interested in integration with our wireless network and phones. I like the idea of controlling things remotely if necessary and being able to check the state of the door to confirm it's closed. There are also times that I'm parking outside a lot and don't feel comfortable leaving a garage opener in my car (unfortunately our neighborhood occasionally has early morning prowlers), but I always have my iPhone with me.

One annoyance factor on these openers I've discovered is the built-in lighting constraints. Most of the Genie and Chamberlain models in the $250 or less price range I'm looking at have conventional sockets and require you to supply the bulbs. Unfortunately conventional LED and CFL bulbs also seem to interfere with the radio frequencies that the openers and their remotes use. Genie at least sells some custom designed LED bulbs that are specifically made to avoid the radio signal issues and handle a little more vibration, but they're an additional $20 for a pair. I really feel like built-in compatible LED lights should be standard for this price range in 2020. The Genie model that Costco sells has built-in LED lighting, a more powerful 1.25 HP (equivalent motor), battery backup, and smart phone integration at a $230 price point. At this point I think it's the clear front runner on price and features. Just need to run it by Mary and then we'll probably place the order tomorrow.

Crazy Finish

I caught the end of University's game at Gonzaga Prep today and it was crazy. I expected it could be close, but I didn't think it would necessarily be go to overtime close. I was wrong, it did go to overtime thanks to some clutch Conrad Bippes free throws to tie things up with 15 seconds to go.

In overtime University jumped out to a 6 point lead almost immediately and Lloyd looked as bad as I've ever seen him, missing a quick three and air balling another. Eventually when they made their run in the final two minutes it was Hodges Flemming who carried the weight and made a key three pointer. University got sloppy and just didn't handle Prep's desperation pressure traps at all.

University was up 1 with the ball and under 30 seconds. They didn't have to score, but they couldn't turn it over. So they turned it over with about 7 seconds to go. Lloyd raced up court and corralled the arching pass over the top as he raced to the basket. Somehow he managed to get it in control and lay it in with 3 seconds. University called a timeout, but didn't run a play that did much more than get it into Bippes who turned and awkwardly dribble up the court and hurled up a shot. It seemed like the kind of play where he should have received it and directed it to a wing racing up the sideline, but that wasn't how it went down.

At this point University has lost 8 games by 7 points or less. They're a very dangerous team and will probably give CV a stern test when they play next week. On a side note it's theoretically possible that Ferris, Mead, and Gonzaga Prep could end up with 9-5 records, but it's unclear how thay would break that tie. I kind of want that to happen because it means Ferris won out and Mead beat G-Prep twice back to back, but I think the odds of this playing out that way are approaching zero. I would expect Prep to lose at most once next week and to finish solidly in second behind Central Valley.


As a fan of retro games and text adventures, I find Adventuron pretty impressive. The blend of retro style pixel art and simple two word command adventures is pretty appealing and is especially well suited to introducing kids to the genre. I tried a fairly challenging treasure hunt game called Two yesterday and I appreciated how minimalist1 yet fun it was. It reminded me of the classic Scott Adams adventures with a few modern touches. I knew it had mobile support so I tried it again this morning on my phone and was even more impressed.

Excalibur: Sword of Kings is an authorized port of an old ZX Spectrum game that has been updated to include a built in tutorial. I think it would be a more appropriate introduction to this type of game than Two for most kids as it introduces all the text adventure command conventions in a helpful way. There are several other free games on adventuron.itch.io as well, although I haven't tried them yet.

Once you've got a feel for the system Adventuron Classroom is the extensive web-based game making tutorial aimed at kids 8-12, although anyone can use it. Documentation seems really thorough and I think it's something I'm going to show my older kids and play with a bit myself. The games seem to be fairly customizable based on the differences I've seen between Excalibur and Two although I haven't delved into how hard that is to do for an average user.

  1. Unlike a typical Adventuron game it has no graphics and the text and descriptions are mostly limited to two words to surprisingly compelling effect.

GSL Update

After tonight's win over University, Ferris has a half game lead in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot. University only has three games left and their next two are against Gonzaga Prep and Central Valley, a challenging road ahead, but two teams they actually played close in their first meetings. Ferris has four games left: Lewis & Clark tomorrow, Gonzaga Prep Tuesday, Lewis & Clark again Thursday and then finishing out the season with Mt. Spokane. At this point Ferris controls their own destiny, but only if they win out which will be difficult given that two of those games are against teams that are higher up the standings. If we end up tied with University my understanding is that there will be a playoff Monday, February 10 to determine who advances into the district playoffs.

I think Central Valley is virtually assured of a tie for first play because they play Lewis & Clark twice and I can't see them losing those games. Mead and G-Prep are separated by a game and finish off the season playing each other back to back because of the crazy weather cancellation makeup scenario. I could see Mead winning one, but I would lean towards Prep winning both. I think the odds are that Prep will end up winning both and I would be quite surprised if they lost more than one game in their last four. I think Mead is most likely to pick up the win against Lewis & Clark and then lose to CV and G-Prep twice, but they'll still be securely in third place unless Ferris wins out which is a tall order for my Saxons. Should be a competitive and entertaining finish to the regular season regardless of how it ultimately shakes out.

Domain Name Sale

Hover has a sale going on right now for the domain names that have a .club top level domain so I was inspired to start trying a variety of different ones. Shortness and humor were my guiding principles. The first one I thought of that was actually available right now for the relatively low, but not sale price of $21.99 is melee.club. I think there's a whole set based on plays on fight club even though there's no young character around to pick one up1.

One of the reasons I'm interested in picking up a cheap and simple domain name is for use with the SSB pub I'm thinking about setting up. I didn't have a lot of luck thinking of some chat related names, but I did find a couple available that were reasonably good right now: chiptunes.club (singular form was already used by a Japanese website) and 8bitfun.club. Pixelart.club is currently taken, but the search screen tried to convince me that pixel.art2 is available as well when it's actually already taken was kind of weird.

I discovered that hype.club is going for $1899.99 right now, but lowhype.club, maxhype.club, and hypermax.club are all still available at the $4.99 sale price. I feel like a weird semi random club domain would be better for my purposes than a specific topical one that is cool, but not really applicable like the 8bit and chiptunes ones. I like those domains, but they're probably not good fits for this project. Cosmic.club is close to that generic ideal I'm going for, but it's another $1899.99 for the first year. Luckily cosmichype.club, megahype.club, and ultrahype.club are all curently $5 sale options. I haven't picked one up yet, but I think I'm zeroing in on what I'm actually looking for.

  1. What does this last part even mean? I was tired as I was writing this last night, but I'm at a loss this morning. It's weirdly amusing though so I feel compelled to leave it

  2. There's just no way on that one for less than a big fee up front.

Thoughts on the end of Arrow

Arrow Season 8 wrapped up tonight and brought one of my favorite super hero television series to an end. The quality of the show certainly fluctuated over time, but Oliver Queen's journey of redemption and growth will always hold a special place for me. I'm really glad we had this last season to have an extended goodbye to the show and fully tie off all the loose ends in a pretty satisfying way.

I actually came late to the show, picking up midway through Season 3 and after The Flash spinoff launched1. I had been intrigued by some of the commercials that I saw, but being a Marvel guy historically, I never took the plunge and started watching until I realized several people I follow online were big fans of the show. Once I started, I quickly became hooked and managed to catch up on the first three seasons by the end of June that year. I've been tuning in on a weekly basis ever since even as my interest in The Flash waned over the last few seasons. Somewhere during that time I also latched onto the Speedy Arrowcast podcast hosted by three of my favorite Mac tech scene podcasters: Dan Moren, Guy English, and John Moltz and being able to tune into their weekly jokes, jabs, and outright criticism of a show we all love despite its many flaws made the experience that much greater during the run. I'm just glad they're carrying on with Biff! now and continuing to have fun talking about the shows that interest them in this age of super heroic television. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Spoilers filled thoughts about the finale:

  • It was good to see so many of my favorite supporting characters one last time including Quentin Lance, the al Ghul sisters, Thea, Roy, Rory, young William, and of course Felicity.

  • I'm excited about the possibility of Diggle becoming Green Lantern, but it sucks that that show is going to be on HBO Max. On the other hand if that means a bigger production budget for a show that's going to need more special effects to do really well I can live with it.

  • I'm a lot more enthused about Green Arrow & The Canaries than I was during the initial Star City 2040 run, but I'm kind of worried about what they're doing with William so far. I also want to see what they do with Sarah Diggle.

  • I'm glad that we got to end with the final reunion with Oliver and Felicity.

  • I'm curious to hear what the Biff! guys think about the episode and where we go from here.

  1. A show that I was initially more excited about, but ultimately finally bailed on last season.