Tuesday, May 31, 2005
A couple times I've thought that my Windows-based Portable Media Center has crashed, but it turned out that the "lock" switch was just engaged, and that's why it wasn't responding. (Well, one time, it did crash, but it was a hardware failure.)
- I failed to use Hungarian notation in a few places. (Hungarian notation is things like szText for "null-termated string Text" and ppvFiles for "pointer to a pointer of a vector of Files," for those of you who have only been coding this century or never at all.)
- If statements and the "then" condition can never be on the same line. Never. You can't have "if (bExit) return;"—you have to waste two lines for this. Never mind that wasted vertical space makes you lose context and hurts the flow of the text.
- Spaces instead of tabs in one particular area of the product. This is because the command prompt tabstops are at 8 characters, not 4, and some people use things like vi to edit and view source files. It sounds like we're changing to all tabs everywhere soon, though... that's something, I guess.
- Lines wrapped to 80 characters. I think this one hurt the most, because some lines had to be wrapped absurdly. Word wrap has been invented. All of our screens are 1600x1200. There is no reason to break lines at an arbitrary limit. If you must break lines because every code editor's word wrap is stupid, do it at a good place, not just because you've already typed 75 characters and your next word is six characters. This is retarded. I will not back down on this. It will always be retarded.
- I put the asterisk after the type name, not the variable name. This one I wasn't made to change. But, dammit, it's a wide char pointer, not a wide character-and-oh-look-it-also-happens-to-be-a-pointer. (I like "wchar* szText"; he likes "wchar *szText". When surrounded in code, I find the first one infinitely easier to read at a glance.)
It was a long process. This review and the final round of pre-checkin testing has been going on for the whole last week, and by the end, we were both having to try very hard to remain civil and professional, because I still disagree with a lot of what he says. I'm sure he felt at some point like I'm an arrogant prick... like, "here's someone who hasn't even been on the team for a year, with lines in excess of 100 characters (!) that use up a full half of the width of the screen, and he's disagreeing with me on technical issues." But, oh well. It's over. Wounds will heal. No more 60+-hour weeks for a long time, I think. I got to watch a couple movies and play Warcraft on Saturday and Monday, only working partial days then. Out of my three-day weekend, I got a total of a day or maybe even a day and a half of relaxation.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005
It's no secret to most of my gamer friends that I've played almost all of the Might and Magic games. That includes:
Might and Magic III-IX
Heroes of Might and Magic I-IV and all expansions
Legends of Might and Magic
(Crusaders of Might and Magic and Warriors of Might and Magic don't count since they were just licensed titles, but I did suffer through the first part of Crusaders.)
That's a lot of games.
The games missing from that list are Might and Magic I: Secret of the Inner Sanctum, Might and Magic: Gates to Another World, and Might and Magic: Swords of XEEN (a bonus add-on to IV and V). While I'd love to be able to say that I've played all of the Might and Magic games, I don't think that it will ever happen. I tracked then down a few years ago—they were already almost impossible to find—so I could play them sometime if I wanted. But, the sad truth is that computer games have evolved a lot in the past twenty years. The original two Might and Magic games just aren't going to be that fun to me, now that I've come to expect certain things from my games. The crappy graphics and lack of real sound and music aside, gameplay has made significant strides as well. In the original Might and Magic, you couldn't even save unless you made your way back to an inn, there was no automap, and monsters didn't appear until you were standing on the same space as you (like all older RPGs it was based on a simple grid). I don't think that I could take that anymore, regardless of loyalty to the series. I'd be better off playing something a little more recent. Oh well.
In an ideal, unrealistic fantasy world, I'd like to see remakes of all of the Might and Magic games. I'm sure there are plenty of people who wish similar things with all of the great RPG series. The basic gameplay would remain, and the story and characters and places would remain constant, but the games would be updated to include all of the things that one might expect from an RPG today, like the ability to turn less than 90 degrees at a time. If I had the resources of Bill Gates I would do this. The nostalgia would be incredible. I could relive some of those hauntingly beautiful memories of my childhood playing Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra, stumbling across a field overrun with orcs, finding my first enchanted item, or being terrified when I began walking into that valley with the floating screaming heads.
First, Garden State. I already blogged about that.
Still not feeling well, I decided to watch Kids a bit later, which was the only other movie I had around that I haven't seen before. Wow, again, not a great choice. The movie's about a bunch of misbehaving teenage kids in a bleak urban environment; I won't go into the plot. The movie was okay, but again not at all what I really wanted to see right then.
Still feeling feverish, with another hour until my laundry finished, I decided to put in the next episode of Voyager (I'm finishing up season five out of seven; I never saw much of it when it was on TV since there was no UPN available in Lincoln). Star Trek's generally pretty positive. So, how unfortunate it was that the next episode in line was one in which the crew discovers that they aren't the actual Voyager crew at all; they're the duplicates that were created in an episode a while back, "Demon." As they became more and more like their source material, they forgot that they weren't actually the people they thought they were. Spoiler: they all die at the end. All of them.
Anyway, bad choices all around. I should have just put in a Simpsons DVD or something. No new episodes of anything tonight. Now that's depressing.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
The best moment in the movie happened early on when Natalie Portman's character uses "lipstick" to decribe... something. I don't want to ruin it for you. Hilarious, though.
The soundtrack was kind of entertaining. I already own a third of the tracks, even including the weirdest one, the Iron and Wine cover of The Postal Service's Such Great Heights.
Anyway, final verdict: don't think that you'll like it just because you're a Scrubs fan. Watch it when you need a chick flick for your significant other... it's not really a chick flick, but it could probably pass for one, and you could do much worse. At least it doesn't have Hugh Grant in it. Don't rent it to laugh or to watch by yourself.
[Somewhat rambling reminiscing]
Starcraft was released on March 31, 1998, so this must have been the summer of 1998, because I got it right when it came out, being from Blizzard and all. So, I was a few months past 16 then, which sounds right, because my parents left a car for me. It's funny that I played Starcraft so much, and made so many maps and campaigns for it, and then never played the expansion, Brood War, released just in time for my birthday that year. Brood War must have simply come out too late, and I was playing something else by then, and didn't feel like going back to Starcraft. (This was probably Half-Life... but it also could have been Dungeon Keeper or Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, going by the Moby Games 1998 list.) I even bought Brood War a few years ago with the intention of trying it out, but then something newer and more exciting was released, and once again it was pushed aside. Starcraft is one game that I actually own multiple licenses to, which is somewhat silly: this is the case with Might and Magic IV: Clouds of XEEN, Might and Magic V: Darkside of XEEN, and Starcraft, all excellent games. (The second copy of each of those came with a collection of some sort.)
I wonder... if they put it on DVD, how many people would buy it for no good reason?
Friday, May 27, 2005
Update: Someone forwarded to me a link to the Archos Gmini 400, which is almost what I want, but 20GB is still just way too small. 20GB isn't even enough for the selection of music I want to put on (I have to trim things down a lot for my current 20GB device), let alone for any photos I've taken. It doesn't take too long to take two gigs worth of photos when photos are 8MB each. It does have a CF slot, though, which is hot.
I'm going to try to take it a little easier this weekend than I have been for the last several days, but I still anticipate working through much of it. I picked up a couple movies; I haven't decided which I'm going to watch this weekend: Garden State, which I have wanted to see since I found out about its existence back before it came out, and Kids, which Amazon.com suggested for me, and, well, Amazon.com seems to know me pretty well. I don't really know what to expect from either.
I don't find goals all that motivating. Why would someone be motivated by a goal? If someone else set it, then it's usually meaningless. If you set it, why would you feel motivated to hit some arbitrary estimate of performance that you set a while back? I just find it kind of weird. What I find motivating is visible progress, even if it's artificially visible, like a checklist of things that are done. "Do X before Y?" No thanks. That's not motivation; it's stress.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Someone should start spamtemplates.com, your one-stop source for pre-made spam templates. The domain is still available. I mean, Office has the same thing for documents and PowerPoint templates already; it seems natural that someone might want a website where they can get free, professionally-designed spam templates. Maybe it would even improve the quality of the spam we receive.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Therefore, when Office is in crunch mode, I am less humorous. Hmmm. That at least checks out.
Amon Tobin - El Cargo
Amon Tobin - Ruthless (reprise)
Basement Jaxx - Good Luck
Gorillaz - Dirty Harry
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
The Postal Service - Clark Gable
The Postal Service - Nothing Better
The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
The Roots - The Seed 2.0
The Roots - Don't Say Nuthin'
Snow Patrol - How to Be Dead
Snow Patrol - Run
I'm sure that I've listened to each of those tracks for at least three hours straight. The track most likely to be added to this list next is The Chemical Brothers - Galvanize. It's as retardedly catchy as O-Zone - Dragostea Din Tei ("Numanuma"), but doesn't force me to deny that I was listening to it.
But, I'm glad that things seem to be getting less stupid. There's absolutely no way that I'm paying ten bucks to download a compressed version of an album when I could get the same album on a physical disc for two bucks more. I don't think I'd even pay ten bucks for a downloadable lossless version of the album. For individual tracks, the price is still too high, and the quality too low... I think it would have to get down to about six dollars for a lossless album for me to be interested. I think that I'm getting screwed by getting lumped in the same group of people who want to burn CDs; buying music online and then burning it back to a disc just seems kind of insane. Downloadable tracks are still priced as if everyone who gets them is going to burn them to a disc, it seems. If there were a service that just flat-out didn't allow you to burn tracks, I'm sure it would be less expensive, and much more likely to offer a lossless version.
Friday, May 20, 2005
- Am I wearing a tie? If so, utilize all buttons.
- Am I unnaturally attractive? If so, utilize all buttons except the top button; you may leave 0-2 buttons on the bottom unfastened at your discretion if you are also pretentious.
- Otherwise, utilize all buttons except the top button.
But, I guess that I can take consolation in the fact that after the next ten days or so, life should magically get a whole lot simpler. I'm going to take a couple sick days and rest, because I'm quite sleep-deprived right now, though obviously that's almost completely my fault.
Sometime in the next few months, I think I'm going to use some vacation time. I don't think I really want to go anywhere; I might go visit a few gardens and parks and take a ton of pictures, but I think that would be it. I'll spend the rest at home, catching up on games, exercise, and organize my ever-growing pile of account statements and receipts and stuff that I need to save in the file cabinet I bought many months ago and don't even have folders for.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Mother: What do you think my purpose is? Making sure that all of you girls are tucked in at night?
Friend: Of course not. You'd never have time to drive around to each and every fraternity every night.
Episode III was very good. Everyone should go see it. My Jedi mind tricks worked on the stormtrooper taking tickets; he didn't even notice that I gave him two tickets for different theatres.
The lightsaber battles were fun, and General Grievous was quite entertaining. Yoda, just like in the previous two movies, stole the show whenever he was on. A couple of the arenas where the lightsaber duels took place were pretty ridiculous and contrived, and the romance scenes are just as bad as you remember them from Episode II, but overall, it was very worthwhile... even though I was soaked through the entire movie from when it was pouring outside while we were waiting in line.
I have mixed feelings about the ending. I'm not going to talk about it because I don't want to spoil anything, but after you see it, think about Return of the King's ending. This is kind of like how I wished Return of the King would have ended... but yet, in this movie, it seemed... incorrect. Maybe because this movie is more like the Two Towers of the Star Wars series than the Return of the King.
My proudest moment of the night was when someone behind us commented during the opening ads that there was a dead pixel on the screen. Then, he and I (I don't even know who he was) whispered roughly in unison, "I see dead pixel."
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Monday, May 16, 2005
They: So, can you ride your Segway on the streets?
Me: In Washington you can, but it only goes—
They: Uh-huh, okay. How fast does it go?
Me: It only goes 12 miles an hour.
They: Uh-huh, okay.
Conversations with these people are so bewildering. At least they're always short.
changing the world,
one developer at a time.
(Developer Division is the division of Microsoft that makes Visual Studio.) However, when I saw this shirt, the fabric was folded in such a way that the "C" was missing from "changing," presenting a less-than-flattering view of the product. I wasn't sure if he would find that funny or if I should keep it to myself, but like I've always said, "live your life without egrets."
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
Thursday, May 12, 2005
All of those card games are excellent, and it's pretty rare that I'd turn down any of them. In fact, the only trick-taking game that I can think of that I really like is Dilbert: Corporate Shuffle / The Great Dalmuti / Asshole / Who's the Ass?, which are all mostly identical, a trick-taking game that doesn't have suits. Then, of course, there are lots of good card games that are really just board games with cards, like Magic, Netrunner, Dune, Razzia!, The Settlers of Catan Card Game, Illuminati, and I could go on forever.
In fact, I'm usually pretty good at trick-taking games that use a standard deck of playing cards, once I refamiliarize myself with the rules, even though I don't like them. Tonight's game, whatever it was called, was not one of those. We were playing to 100. After three rounds, someone's score was in the twenties. Mine was -100, and that was after taking first in the first round. So, at least someone got to a 100 when we quit.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Sure, I've had scheduled activities in the past. I did karate for six years, and soccer for a summer. Those things aren't fun. I had church on Sundays and Wednesdays for a very long time, and Sunday School was oft-entertaining. But, the primary purpose of each of those things is not to have fun. (Sure, soccer is fun to some people, but I absolutely hated it, and as you may have guessed, I was pretty bad at it. Soccer was for my parents, which seemed to be the case with a lot of people on my team.)
But now I have regularly scheduled fun, with a mostly static set of (for the most part) extremely pleasant people. It's new and exhilarating. It almost makes me sorry that I'm so damned antisocial. But not quite. One of the nice things is that it's always the same people, so I don't have to meet too many new people. Meeting new people would take the fun out of it.
- A desire to win, and becoming upset if you lose and it was because of a lack of effort or a preventable failure
- Becoming upset if you lose, even if it wasn't your fault, and you really did try
- The perception that people not on your team are enemies that you must defeat
I really only see myself as the first one. I don't really get upset if I lose, and I mean that in a more general sense that takes into account life in general, not just games. And, I don't see other people as enemies, even if they are my opponents. But, "competitive" as I see it really encompasses all three of the things I listed, at least to some degree. So, maybe I'm not competitive. Maybe what I am just needs a more specific word... say, "drive." I'm driven.
Normally I'd look these things up, but most of the definitions I could find online for "competitive" (and other forms of the word) were economic, which I think is strange.
I do like to win. I try to win. Games aren't fun if one side isn't trying to win, or doesn't have a chance to win. But, I don't care if I don't. That's probably good, since I rarely seem to win at anything. But losing doesn't upset me. Maybe I'm a good loser just because I have so much experience at it.
So, there, I guess I'm not competitive after all. I'm too laid back for that. Nobody wins at everything anyway; it almost seems unhealthy to expect to win or to get upset when you don't.
*Exceeds amount permitted in regular turkey bologna.
Now, a few things stand out about that. First, I rather enjoy "ingredients: turkey ingredients." Second, that's a lot of sodium things. But the best, though, is how it has more corn starch than permitted in "regular turkey bologna." What's regular turkey bologna? Why is this turkey bologna excused from the rules?
For those who have been paying attention, this is the same package of turkey bologna that I have already blogged about. Now that's something I thought I'd never say.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
On an unrelated note, in that class I always sat with Julie Dunbar, the daughter of one Dr. Steve Dunbar, which may prompt a couple of you to comment about how this is such a small world after all.
[Note: Originally, I had thought that his name was Mr. Bateman, but Andy corrected me in the comments.]
Monday, May 9, 2005
Saturday, May 7, 2005
So, on the way to Hitchhiker's Guide tonight, I was concocting a particularly improbable scenario with the help of a friend, in which there is a dildo store that also has cheap gum. It would be run by a weird elderly couple, and it would be right next to the 7-11. People who were disgusted by the prices of gum at the 7-11 could go next door and buy it from the dildo store where it was less expensive. If someone saw you there and looked at you funny, you could just flash a pack and say, "I just went in for gum." Middle school boys would lock themselves in the bathroom and chew gum.
Well, we didn't flesh out the story any more than that. I guess you have to fill in the details yourself. Right now I'm imagining something that looks like a locally-owned hardware store or bait shop, with the old woman in front yelling back to her husband in the stockroom, "honey, we got any more-a those ten-inchers back there?"
Thursday, May 5, 2005
- Spam with no message body
- Spam containing replaceable tokens, such as $TO or %%USER_EMAIL%%
- Spam with a subject of "subject" and a body of "body"
I'm not sure if all of the spam I get that doesn't advertise any sort of product or service or website, and it just a bunch of nonsense words or sentences, is trainee spam. I'd guess that it's more likely to just be probing to see if my address is real. But the examples I listed above must be spam sent by people who are just learning how.
Do athletic guys in middle school and high school still wear gym shorts between their boxers and their outer shorts or pants? What was the point of that, originally, before it just became cool? It seemed like everybody did that a decade ago. It doesn't make sense to me. I asked friends who did that why, and nobody had a reason; it was always something to the effect of "I don't know" or "I like it." But it isn't comfortable. Not at all.
Fashion, even middle-school fashion, is weird.
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
In 1996, when I was 14, I took a summer session of Computer Science 230, Computer Organization at UNL. Unless you count being bussed back and forth between my elementary school and Lincoln East High School to take a programming class from one Tim Janssen there, it was my first real computer science course. 230 is a sophomore-level course that serves as a computer science student's first real introduction to hardware, processors, memory, assembly language, and all of the other little nitty-gritty internals of the computer.
Each weekday, my mom drove me to campus, and then she would run off to do errands, come back a couple hours later, and sit outside of the classroom reading fiction until class was up. She looked young enough and I looked old enough that it didn't really look like she was my mom. The two sophomore guys I sat with in the back corner (I almost always sit in whichever back corner is closest to the door) didn't even realize that I was really young until they asked me about other summer classes I was taking and I told them that I hadn't even started high school. It's hard to describe my appearance, but I had long hair and big, thick glasses, so I probably just looked like your "typical" supernerdy freshman. Despite the five-year gap in our ages, we seemed to get along pretty well.
Anyway, the class kinda sucked. At that time, this class about processors and circuit design and assembly programming didn't involve computers in any way; it was pure lecture. Tests involved assembly programs that we would write and debug and correct on paper, with little outlines of boxes to represent registers. I liked the circuit design, having been introduced to logic diagrams and NAND gates when I was about seven or eight thanks to the game Robot Odyssey. I liked the assembly programming. I really hated a lot of the computer internals stuff, though. I also had my first real experience of just giving up on learning something that I didn't care about (virtual memory)... I guess college will do that to you. Later on, once I started my degree, 230 included a lab portion, so I had to take the lab by itself, and do the circuits and assembly stuff again, except this time on computers.
The professor just sucked. We couldn't understand him, and it was usually just an incompetent review of what was in the book. Those two guys and I would constantly ask each other what he was saying for the first week or two, until we gave up on listening to him and just copied down what he wrote in tiny letters on the chalkboard. I think they gave up entirely on taking notes after a couple more weeks. He was my first introduction to the "incomprehensible foreign computer science professor who never showers" stereotype. The fact that he wore the same white shirt and chalk-soaked black jeans each and every day was just icing on the cake.
In the end, I got a B+ in the class. I think that I was pretty upset when I found out that I didn't get an A, so my dad went in with me to the professor's office hours, where he showed me my final, and I saw that I totally failed about two out of the seven sections of the test, which were on... virtual memory.
So, that's what happened for half of that summer. It was the summer before high school, so I guess at that time I was hanging out with my friends Günter and Jim, who I very rarely ever saw again after starting high school, though my very anti-Christian friend Günter called me a few years later to tell me that he had become a Christian and was starting a band. He invited me to his first concert, which I absolutely couldn't go to for some reason I can't remember, and we never spoke again.
Windows 95 was pretty big back then. Our computer at home was a 486DX-50 at the time, and wasn't really good enough to run Windows 95, but I remember seeing screenshots of it in magazines and really wishing I had a taskbar in Windows 3.1, so I actually made my own using the Windows APIs, Start button and everything. Besides my Poor Man's Taskbar, one of the early programs I wrote under the name Green Eclipse (which I coined on May 10, 1994), I also must have been working on an iteration of my game Stocks & Shares and my Windows help file editor.
Several months later, I remember seeing an episode of the show Computer Chronicles in which someone from Blizzard was showing Diablo, a demo for which had recently been released. I remember that I insisted that my dad take me to his lab so that we could install it on the computers there. We started it downloading, and then I think we went to Dairy Queen while it finished. When we got back, I started playing, and he started taking care of his bugs. When he came over to see it, he was just blown away, and we installed it on the other computer in the lab, too. When I first heard "Mmmmm, fresh meat!" upon meeting the Butcher on level 2, I think I was about as scared as I had ever been while playing a game. We played it for several hours over the network, and my dad was so impressed that he decided to get a new computer so that he could play it at home, which was an even more insanely impulsive decision when you take into account the fact that my family was not well off at all, and we couldn't afford the thing. But, a few days later, we had brought home a new Pentium-120 with Windows 95 and a copy of Diablo. In the epilogue of this touching story, other people in my dad's office stumbled across the Diablo shortcut, and it spread like wildfire; a couple weekends later, I was playing a co-op game with my dad's boss and two of his coworkers over the campus network.
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
For those of you who didn't know, I do respond to nearly every comment that you post. So, if you ask a question as a comment, check back in the comments section 24 hours later. I don't IM people back or anything like that.
Some people like cold, terse, compact, mathematical code. These people should use C. Some people need high performance. These people should use C. Some people like object-oriented programming. These people should use C# or Java or VB.
After about a year of being around professional C++ developers, I still completely fail to understand what they like about the language. It doesn't let me easily do any of the things I want to do in programming. I want my code to look like thoughts, to look like some kind of shorthand for English sentences. I want my code to include things that explain what the program does, not how the computer stores the bits. Objects are the things that separate C++ from C, and yet they still seem like a hastily-designed (though admittedly technically sound) afterthought.
I saw *const*int (or something to that effect... a pointer to a const pointer or whatever) a few days ago. I think that's what pushed me over the edge; the point where I absolutely cannot grow to accept C++. (I don't know; maybe it's possible in C too.) The syntax is so bad that it doesn't even matter if it's a useful construct or not.
I'm still disappointed with the syntax of C# and VB and Java too. They're still full of baggage from years gone by. People seem content with letting the language stay the same, and only adding new nouns and verbs to it, but I don't see why. I want new syntactical constructs. It's not that there's nothing much left to add to languages... I invented three bits of syntax just this afternoon on my whiteboard. There are tons of weird, experimental languages, and I've never been really satisfied with any of them; while they often have some interesting ideas, they always seem to come at the expense of functionality. I want a language that is redesigned from the ground up to be readable and expressive and predictable and still performant, free of unnecessary legacy syntax, and yet still allow me to do all of the things I used to do.
I think that the .NET and Java environments are the perfect incubation chambers for an experimental language: so much of the things that you want a new language to do so it has all of the functionality of an old language are still there: memory management, program flow, and a massive class library to draw on. I've wanted to write my own language for five or ten years now, and my desire to do so has increased dramatically since starting to use C++ more often. It's just so broken and awful.
Monday, May 2, 2005
Sunday, May 1, 2005
Please please please please please don't suck.