Name : Jon Simonsen
My website : http://jontrans.0catch.com/index.htm
Nowegian site : http://student.nlh.no/~jsimon
Other site : www.eurosport.com (Cycling is my favourite TV sport)
e-mail : email@example.com
General Computer Stuff
My name is Jon Simonsen, and I’m 21 years old. I was born in the northern parts of Norway, where I spent most of my young life hunting polar bears. OK, then. It was not THAT far north. I think I’ll spare you for ridiculous stories about my childhood and jump straight to the interesting part. My first computer, then. My dad bought an ATARI ST when I was about 6 years old. I wasn’t completely hooked from the start, so I could actually spare some time for school work, too. Some of the first games I played were the legendary “Mouse Trap”, “Zynaps” and “Buggy Boy”. OK, I’m not exactly surprised if you’ve never heard of them. You might be more familiar with the title “(Super) Break Out”. Super means that it’s about 200 whopping levels of it. Fortunately it had a save function. After we started to subscribe to “ST Format”, I got to play a lot of free demos and read interesting game reviews. Some of my favourite games that I (or more likely my dad) purchased were “Sensible Soccer 91/92”, “Magic Pockets”, “The Chaos Engine”, “Streetfighter 2” and “Lemmings 2”.
I used to play computer games with some of my cousins now and then. I especially remember one time I visited one of them. I think I was about 12 years old. He had just gotten himself a new PC, and he introduced me to “Warcraft 2”. After playing for a few minutes, I was hooked. The gameplay and atmosphere was more than I had expected from any computer game. Not much later I convinced my daddy to buy a PC. I guess one of the first games I tried was the superb game “Minesweeper”. I don’t think I was really ecstatic about it the first time around. As far as I remember, I was happy with completing all the three levels. I soon found myself playing other games like “Warcraft 2”, “Doom”, “Stunts” and “Total Annihilation”. It was still more than five years before I eventually started playing Minesweeper “seriously”.
If I should mention some other hobbies, it would have to be sports. As most people in my country, I was only a couple of years old the first time I went skiing. I think my parents deserve some credit for getting me outdoors. It would have been a little sad to just play games and watch TV all the time. I participated in some cross country races a period, but the competition was too hard. I came last in almost all the competitions, and eventually dropped my “professional” career.
I have played some soccer, too. I used to be the goalkeeper in the school breaks. One of my strengths was my fast reaction. I also didn’t waste the time when the ball went outside the goal. Impatient players “encouraged” me to run like hell to fetch the ball, so it certainly gave me some endurance. When I joined the local soccer team, I decided that it was about time to give up my keeper career. I let some lazy guy get that job, and was assigned to a more mobile position. In the end I ended up as a back. It was a little tedious, but I certainly had the opportunity to run around a little now and then. I was not good enough to play games regularly, and spent quite a lot of time on the bench.
My last year before turning senior, I decided that enough was enough. I had been injured a couple of days earlier, and chose to sort my school papers instead of going to the next match. While I was filing my precious papers, I suddenly heard the telephone. It was one of my team mates asking me what the heck I was doing. I said that I was sick. It was partly true, but not the reason why I hadn’t come. He said that they were short of men, and I had to help them out. That’s just so typical. I said that I would be there, but I silently vowed that I should demand to play keeper if they wanted me on the pitch. I could definitely do a better job than our current keeper (it could be worth a try, at least). My last own goal was nice, but a good keeper would certainly have taken it. After a cycle trip of about 15 k, I arrived at the stadium just in time for the delayed match. A pity that there was not another human being there, then. After the shock, I realized that they probably played at the other lousy stadium.
When I got there, the first half was well underway. Before I had time to say anything, the coach told me to start warming up. As usual, I obeyed him without a word (Yes, I’m a coward L). I heard that some of the beutiful cheerleaders (or perhaps female spectators is a more proper wording) had heard the rumour that I had called in sick, and now they started whispering about my unexpected arrival. After a while I was sent onto the pitch. My team was already two or three goals behind. I took my usual back position. After being on the pitch some minutes, I was surprised that I played better than usual. Maybe it was because my leg hurt so damn much that I couldn’t run as usual. It certainly prevented me from getting exhausted after a few minutes.
Sometime in the second half, I decided to try to get a little involved in the offensive play. I jogged up onto the opponent’s half while a team mate had the ball by their corner flag. He managed to curve the ball nicely towards the goalkeeper. He (the keeper) tried to reach the ball, but I got there first. I managed a header that went past the keeper and straight into the goal. I could not believe my own eyes. It was my first goal ever in an “official match” (except for a nice collection of own goals, of course). Suddenly the cheerleaders started cheering louder than ever before. We lost the match with 2-5, but I continued playing and my team recovered and got some wins in the end of the season. The next year, I turned senior. My new coach put me on the bench every game, and some of my “team mates” seemed to enjoy getting me injured. I decided that “professional” soccer was no fun anymore and quit.
My other favourite sports are cycling, running, table tennis and indoor bandy. I keep record of a lot of my sport results, as well as results from computer games. Sometimes I get a little to focused on breaking my records. I once went on a skiing trip in the hills near my home. I realized that I had the opportunity to get a decent time on the distance. I came to the last, steep downhill section before the finish. The snow was hard-packed and uneven, so I used the snow-plough technique. It was hard for my feet, so I decided to switch to downhill (hockey) technique the last few metres. Unfortunately, a layer of ice lay hidden underneath the snow this particular day. I had planned to follow the curve to the left, but with the loss of friction, I continued in a straight line at (almost) constant speed. It was even worse that I was sliding straight into a dense pack of trees. I didn’t feel very well after the inevitable collision. I managed to get home on my own. On closer examination, I had “only” gotten a fracture in a rib and some kind of damage on a kidney. I think I’ll be a little more careful next time.
I have never read especially many books. One of the reasons might be that I tend to read extremely slowly. This is especially the case with school books. The good thing is that I tend to understand and remember most things after only having read it once. The first non-educational book that caught my interest, was “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien. I got it in birthday present from the cousin I have told you about before. After reading the first few pages I found it boring, but my persistence paid off. By now, I have read it more times than I can remember. After that I have read “The Lord of The Rings”, “Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales”. I soon got fed up by reading the silly Norwegian translations, and decided to start reading the original versions of English/American books instead. For the time being, I’m in the middle of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series. I find it almost as exciting as Tolkien’s books, and the volume is certainly a lot bigger. I think I can busy myself with those books for years to come (at least if I don’t speed up my reading soon). I haven’t bothered reading Harry Potter yet. I would never read a book from someone with such a lousy expert score as J.K. Rowling. OK. That’s not the real reason. I just have the impression that Harry Potter will be somewhat childish. Perhaps I will see for myself one day. Other than books, I tend to read computer- and science magazines. I think I would have been a lot worse in English if I hadn’t read those computer mags and game manuals. Science magazines seem to contain much better language than ordinary newspapers. I used to think that all journalists needed good marks, but I guess I was wrong about that. OK. I might deserve to be labelled a grumbler.
The current situation
In 2001, I began studying surveying at the “Norwegian Agricultural College” (I had some experience with the art of surveying, especially from carrying prisms and that kind of stuff for my father. He’s the head of the “surveying department” in our “municipality”). The college is situated a short distance outside the capital, Oslo, in the relative peace of the countryside.The subjects are a little too teoretic for my taste and the maintenance of instruments and computers is minimal. I have many subjects that includes doing operations on a grid. In the subject that involves measuring in satellite pictures, we have learned something about “neighbouring pixels”, “pattern recognition” and such things. I didn’t find it all that interesting, because it didn’t seem to involve any techniques that I could transfer to Minesweeper.
When I started the studies in 2001, I “accidentally forgot” most of my computer games back home. Because I just love strategy games, I had brought Warcraft 2 and Total Annihilation with me. I’ve always had a fascination for strategy. I enjoy reading the game manuals, especially if they have cool storylines with wicked characters. I also appreciate books about the great battles in modern history. Warcraft 2 didn’t work on my new operating system, so I used the free internet access at school to play multiplayer TA instead. Most of the other players kicked my ass with annoyingly early tank rushes, before I could build up my defences.
After the christmas holidays I quit the multiplayer stuff and started playing around with the desktop games instead. In the middle of january, my Minesweeper scores were about 4-40-150. After achieving a sensational expert score of 131, I decided to look around the internet to confirm that this was actually the world record. IT WAS NOT!!! I think I came across the "Intermediate Hall of Fame" at first. My hope of being the best sweeper ever born was crushed. It was a shock that it was possible for human beings to play three times as fast as myself.
I eventually realized the truth, and downloaded "Camtasia Recorder" to make videos that I could analyze. I started recording on the beginner grid, just for testing purposes. On the second game after starting the recorder, the pop-up windows showed up after my first click. It took some time before I realized that I actually had a one-second beginner time on a one-click board. It was a big disappointment when I heard that the 9x9-grid was not accepted for beginner records (at least in the Active Ranking).
Because of that, I downloaded the NT-version of Minesweeper, and started playing a lot of beginner games. The 28th of february, I finally got myself a 1 second beginner game on the 8x8 grid. I also had improved my intermediate score from 39 to 21 and my expert score from 131 to 107 in less than six weeks. Because I wanted to get into the sub-20 club on intermediate, I started playing more on that level. I got a tip from Sorin about playing intermediate without flags. I played a lot of intermediate that summer, and my no-flagging technique improved very fast.
Sometime in july, I suddenly got the dream board that I had read so much about on Matt's site. I had read that the same boards tend to show up more often than one should think, so I had devised the best possible way of solving that board. I finished it in 12 seconds. I was reluctant to confess that I had actually studied that board very carefully in advance. When there finally came people that solved the dreamboard in less than 10 seconds with "pre-knowledge" of the board, it started a big and seemingly little constructive debate in Damien's guestbook. I decided that it was about time to write an article about my studies of board cycles, and to try to find some way of solving the problem. I knew that Eduardo Cros had suggested that the community could make their own minesweeper game, so I suggested that it could include some improved randomness in the creation of boards. My essay can be found at this adress: http://jontrans.0catch.com/Docs/sub-10.htm (if my memory is all right).
Today, we have a couple of new clones with improved randomness. I have only been using Rodrigo's clone lately. I appreciate the work he has done for us. There are also other people that deserve to be mentioned. There are many that have made programs and suggested ideas that have been incorporated in this clone, and someone are working on other clones too.
So far this year (If you have been isolated from the world outside too long to keep track of the time, I can inform you that it’s the year 2004), I have been playing more expert than I used to. I never really got into the business of playing effectively with flags, so I seldom mark mines at all. I achieved 55 seconds on expert this summer. I also managed to get my fifth 1 second beginner board on the 1st of april. It was a nice 4 3BV board, achieved on the clone. It was also my first 1-sec board where I actually had time to consider patterns before I finished it. I don't think I have any more goals for beginner now, so maybe I can play more expert instead. Now I have been writing for too long. I need to sweep some mines for dinner (or maybe before dinner?). Happy sweepin’, everyone.
BTW: If anyone is mad enough to know from where I have copied the phrases “my precious” and “I silently vowed...”, I think we have quite a few things in common.
- Jon Simonsen