Chess variants are games that are related to, similar to, or inspired by Chess. There are many, many Chess-like games besides Chess itself, and I have the hobby of playing them. Chess variants interest me more than Chess, because I appreciate the variety, I'm not especially interested in competitive Chess, and I'm more interested in the intellectual challenge of playing such games than I am in the amount of memorization it takes to master Chess these days.
My interest in Chess variants began with John Gollon's book Chess Variations, but it remained a passing interest until about 1998. I had gotten my first Windows PC in 1997, and within a year I had come across computer programs for playing some Chess variants, particularly Xiang Qi and Shogi. Not long after, I began visiting The Chess Variant Pages and learned of a new program called Zillions-of-Games, which would let users program and play their own Chess variants against the computer. With this program, I began designing and programming my own Chess Variants. In 1999, I learned I lived in the same city as one of the people running The Chess Variant Pages. We became friends, and I became an editor for the site. Before moving away, I started working on PHP scripts for playing Chess variants by online correspondence. These became what I now call Game Courier, which now lets users program the rules of games using a language I wrote called GAME Code. In late 2015, I began to run the Chess Variant Pages myself.
I have been into computer programming since I discovered an Apple ][ in the Children's Room of the public library around 1980. I initially learned BASIC on the Apple ][, the TRS-80, the Commodore Vic 20, and the Commodore 128. Although I had initially intended to study programming in college, I naively thought I would become a writer and went into English. I then got interested in Philosophy and got my degree in that. When I switched from English to Philosophy, my logic courses no longer counted toward the formal systems of thought requirement, and I took a course on the Pascal programming language to fulfill it. This course was very important, because it introduced me to structured programming. After college, I programmed a real-time synthesizer for the 128 in both BASIC and machine language, but the platform went obsolete before I even had an opportunity to publish the code. I later got an Amiga and started using Unix machines in graduate school. During that time, I taught myself C, and I picked up Lisp while using Emacs. Using C, I wrote a spelling checker called AlphaSpell, and I wrote a personality indicator called the DDLI. After I was doing websites for a while, I started doing some web scripting in Perl and later in PHP. In 1998, a program called Zillions-of-Games came out, and this program would play strategy board games, including Chess variants, that were programmed in a scripting language similar to Lisp. I started programming Chess variants with it. Because it wasn't ideal for correspondence play, I later started coding what became Game Courier, a server for playing Chess variants by online correspondence. I wrote this in PHP, and I eventually designed a programming language for it, known as GAME Code. I could safely let visitors to the Chess Variant Pages program in GAME Code, because it lacked file I/O, which would be needed for spreading viruses or for hacking the site. Game Courier has since been my main programming project. I have also written lots of other code used on the Chess Variant Pages.
I am into a wide variety of music, including classical, jazz, new age, rock (particularly progressive rock), foreign language pop (particularly Korean and Russian), female singers, electronic music, crossover genres, and more.
I'll lump these together, because they are both forms of audio-visual storytelling, and some of the sites I use to track my viewing track both television and movies. I generally prefer television over movies, because it tends to tell longer, more fleshed-out stories in shorter segments. My favorite genres include fantasy, science fiction, horror, superhero, comedy, espionage, mystery, teen drama, historical fiction, and documentaries. I also watch Asian dramas and anime.
I have been around books my whole life, thanks largely to growing up in a bookstore run by my parents. Since I can't easily hold a book open with one hand, I took to reading comic books at a young age. I could more easily read a comic book when I ate, because I could lie it flat on the table without holding it open myself. I was mainly into DC and Marvel titles, though I sometimes read other publishers like Archie, Harvey, Dell, and Charlton. In the 80s, I got into some titles from First and Eclipse. But with the rising cost of comic books and the reluctance of comic book shops to run subscription services, I eventually quit buying them.
I started college as an English major and read lots of classic literature in my English courses. But I eventually went into Philosophy instead, which involved reading classic literature of its own. While I have read many books, I cut back on reading physical books once I got my first ereader. I found an ereader more convenient than physical books, and by propping it up on the treadmill and exercise bike, I could even use it to read books while exercising. My main ereader these days is a Kindle Touch, and I have also begun using the older Kindle DX Graphite for its larger screen. I have bought several Kindle books, and it is the main way I read books these days. I'll use an iPad for manga, but I generally don't like using tablets with LCD displays for reading books.
In non-fiction, I like to read books in science, history, philosophy, religion, psychology, and self-help. For fiction, I mainly read science fiction and fantasy.