Archive Page 2

27
Oct
10

Vietnam Adventures: Backgrounder

This is the story of a story, the background to my current Vietnam trip (in both senses of the word) and how I came to be sitting on a bed in a Saigon hotel watching daytime soaps and blogging.

Enormous text wall coming. The short summary: I’m in Vietnam. But you knew that from the preceeding paragraph…

If you read my Facebook feed, you will probably have heard all this before, in pieces over the last six months. Consider it a refresher. It’s also a chance for me to test that my Facebook profile’s syndicating my blog correctly since I migrated to WordPress.com for blog hosting.

So, without further ado…

At the start of April 2010, one of my closest friends married a Vietnamese girl. (A specific one, not the first one he happened across) As is traditional in such cases, this happened in Vietnam. It also happened a month earlier in Melbourne, for paperwork reasons, but that’s not relevant to this story.

So I found myself with an invitation to a wedding I couldn’t miss, in a country I had only the vaugest impression of from Robin Williams and Martin Sheen. And where they not only don’t speak English, they don’t even colonially speak English. (The French are the European colonial power in question. Thankyou Martin Sheeen)

This was compounded upon by my almost complete inexperience with world travel. I had been to a conference in Los Angeles and a conference in New Zealand, and this prepares you for real international travel like watching daytime soaps teaches you Vietnamese. That’s not a lot, in case you’ve fallen into the immersion/osmosis fallacy of language learning.

As is typical, I left my planning to slightly past the last minute, I arrived in Vietnam underprepared, underimmunized and without even a phrasebook to my name.

The actual trip and wedding went really well, so I’ll gloss over it here, with only the notes that this was my first chance to try learning a language by read signs in shops (fun but not really efficient) and the important (pivotal!) point that I’d only organised to stay for the wedding itself, since I didn’t know any of the other guests well enough to organise anything with beforehand. This led to my makng the solemn promise to return again for a proper holiday.

And so the seed was sown.

The soil for that seed was already fertile. Back in the heady days of studying Computer Science and Japanese Linguistics, before I discovered the joys of tax debt, company finances, insolvency and full time employment, I had a plan. I was going to get my degree in Japanese (didn’t happen), move to Japan and work as a programmer (didn’t happen), learn Chinese (didn’t happen), move to China after five years, learn Korean… etc. The plan was to learn five or six languages and work my way down Asia.

Returning to the narrative, having recently turned 30, it seemed that my life had finally settled down into a happy, comfortable place. So it was time for a change. And being filled with confidence brought on by now being old enough to be considered an adult without having to prove myself (which is also how I got my pen license…) I decided to make it a big one.

So my sojourn plan was resurrected, with some minor modifications.

Firstly, I’ve been a video games programmer for over four years. That’s pretty long: it indicates you were either at one of those rare studios which was around for four years and were never laid off, or you were hired as a video games programmer on multiple occasions. The latter’s quite hard. It’s hard to get hired the first time, but the industry’s small enough that anywhere you apply, someone knows someone who knows someone who’s worked with you. A written reference from Kevin Bacon and Paul Erdős lets you bypass this stage of the interview…

Anyway, I’m an experienced and hirable video games programmer, an industry which seems to be quite strong and growing throughout SE and E Asia.

The other difference is that I am now friends with one seventy-millionth of Vietnam, and thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I’m doing a lot better at staying in contact than I did with my Japanese friends… (Sorry guys!)

So, germination! I returned home, impressed with the kindness, generosity, and general positive attitudes of the Vietnamese we met, as well as having enjoyed thoroughly the chance to apply my linguistics studies.

I was on a complete Vietnam trip. I bought a Teach Yourself Vietnamese book and CD, started buying my takeaway from the Vietnamese place next to my former haunt (Dickson Asian Noodle House) and even managed to enroll in a Vietnamese evening class at the ANU.

I was advised that Oct/Nov is a good time of year to visit Vietnam, which co-incided with the scheduled end of a project stage at work, and everything started to come together. I booked my trip, got my immunisations, and bought new luggage.

The actual trip plan: A few days in Melbourne with friends, fly to Saigon via Kuala Lumpur, a day and a half there before the tour starts, then ten days on the Intrepid Spirit of Vietnam Northbound tour and a weekend in Hanoi with a friend.

Anyway, that’s the background. I think I’ll go find some lunch, and then write up the first actual live-fire trip report.

06
Jan
10

Where we're going, we don't need pants

The below was originally posted in my OKCupid Journal, as part of moving my “profile completion” bar from 85% to 90%. It’s an insidious system that successfully lured me into using online dating. And now I can’t seem to extricate myself. ^_^


OK, that profile-completion bar is going to lose. I’ve gotten this far, so I really have to see what happens when I fill it. I’m hoping for free chocolate from the sky, but it seems unlikely.

So while I’m dumping text on the Internet, I might as well complain about online dating sites. _Other_ online dating sites, mind you. (OKCupid will get a serve too, but a minor one. Spoiler, it wins in the end.)

If you are in a hurry and just want to see the ending, scroll down to the bolded summary header. You’ll avoid a really bad pun, and some analogies between video games and online dating websites.

I’ve avoided online dating sites for years, because I like to think the Internet hasn’t completely taken over my life (I’m holding on to that belief, BTW) but a friend of mine dragged me into OKCupid to take some test about the furry apocalypse. That’s where this whole profile-completion bar thing started.

Along the way I’ve had one (brief, I’m sorry to say) relationship from OkCupid but was staying away from any other sites because they were either costly (RSVP, eHarmony), ugly as all hell and unusable (PlentyOfFish) or just didn’t show up anything withing a few hundred kilometres of me (every “geek” dating site Google could find.)

This stance changed for no good reason I am aware of on New Year’s Eve.

Plenty Of Fish remains an ugly, unusable nightmare of a web site. It’s the spiritual successor to that old Flash website where you had to click the pulsating squid to go to pictures page, or the upside-down light bulb to turn the music on and off. I don’t remember if it was a satire about how Flash was destroying the Web, or a serious attempt by an artist or designer to try and move the Web away from all the boring text and pictures laid out in a way that’s meaningful and interrelated. I really hope it was the former…

Back on topic, my biggest problem with Plenty of Fish would have to be that it’s matching system is bizarrely unuseful, and most of the people there provide one-line profiles, and maybe a pair of interest keywords. That and you can’t combine their searches.

I like the idea of searching by personality. Numbers are fun. I like the idea of limiting my search to women of an appropriate age and relationship interest. I like the idea of of searching for people who live within 100km of me. So far, so good. But PoF and I disagree about the idea of using all these criteria at once. Heck, if I could have the personality search show me more than just bizarrely distended head-shots, it’d be a step up.

That’s also bizarre, BTW. Is ASP.NET so very bad at image manipulation that they can’t implement a system that can maintain the aspect ratio of a head-shot?

And the final straw in PoF’s haystack of pain? When it’s showing you photos-only, the ones without photos usefully tell you their age and what they’re looking for. So you can see either if someone’s attractive (in a Dali-ish way) _or_ if they’re an appropriate age and are actually looking for the sort of relationship you’re looking for. (BTW, what is “Other relationship” supposed to be. Some people won’t take messages from it, looking like it’s an synonym for fuck-buddy, and some people seem to use it as “friends now which might turn into a relationship if you turn out to match some arbitrary criteria I haven’t decided yet”. Maybe it’s in the PoF help, but frankly, they need all the help they can get with the site already, I don’t want to consume any of it with my inane queries.)

Sometimes it feels like PoF is actively trying to work against you. There’s plenty of video game analogies available here, but I’m going to compare it to some early Wii titles. The ones where motion control was so shiny, developers figured that anything that worked by waggling the Wiimote would sell like hotcakes, and failed to notice that Nintendo were launching with a title or two that showed how to do motion controls _right_, making everyone else who got it wrong (Samurai Warriors Katana, I’m looking at you), look like they’d been caught asleep at the switch. Red Steel actually has this reputation, but I think unfairly. Go back and try it now that we’ve had Wiimotes for three years, and they’re not new and bizarre addons. In fact, I might see if I can find the work copy of Red Steel, and actually finish the damn game. And in all fairness, Red Steel was a launch title, so the developers probably hadn’t tried Wii Sports or Warioware: Smooth Moves to know how it was supposed to feel.

Next up in my outpouring of… I dunno what this is. If it was hate, I wouldn’t keep going back…. The more it hurts, the more it shows I care, as the philosophers say.

Right? Yeah… Next, is RSVP.com.au

It’s an interesting system. Free to browse but costs money to open a communication channel. You pay per person per month. Once you’ve bought credit, you can send pre-canned little messages for free, so once you’ve decided to pay at all, you don’t have to spend the credit unless the person’s at least returned your “time of day”. Not that RSVP cares at that point, they have your money.

It’s a bit like a token-based video arcade. You go in, you can look for free. Once you want to play something, you buy a pile of tokens. Now they have your cash, and you suddenly become extra choosy about what you play, because you’re working from a limited pile of tokens.

They make no effort (that I can perceive) to find the _right_ people for you, and in fact the option to only show people whose “ideal partner” profile you fit isn’t always there. (Again, I think it’s not available when you also try to search for people who fit your “ideal partner” profile).

But once again, the real disappointment is the people. Not that it’s a huge disappointment, mind you, but most of the Canberra women on RSVP seem to hold as their primary interests sports, sports, V8 car racing and other sports. And unlike OkCupid and PoF, not posting a photo publicly appears to be the norm.

The plus side to RSVP is it’s popular. So once I’ve waded through the 143 women within distance, with appropriate relationship interest and age group, there’s a reasonable chance there’ll be three or four whose profiles both interest me and indicate I might interest them.

By-the-by, tall women are hot, but only seem to like taller guys, from what they tell me and post in their profiles. I think this is terrifically unfair. Short women are hot too. So’re women my height. I’m not being picky about height, to be clear.

So yeah, RSVP makes up for poor selection by playing the percentages. That’s actually why I went there, after a friend was stunned I was on a smaller site like OkCupid but hadn’t been to RSVP.

And further, there’s eHarmony. I actually like it, bizarrely. They have a personality matching system, which I’m fond of (that’s why I joined OkCupid in the first place, just to see how it worked. And then didn’t come back for two years) and works reasonably well. I took advantage of their “free communication” weekend, where you can send messages (which normally requires you to subscribe) but cannot see photos (which requires you to subscribe) and frankly, it was oddly liberating. They don’t even post body-shape information, so you aren’t tempted to reject someone because you don’t like the look of them straight off. (This is not a “ugly people need love too” thing. I didn’t say it’s better this way, just different).

As mentioned, eHarmony has a subscription model. You can’t search or browse for people, you have to wait for eHarmony’s magic psychologist computer to send you people who might match. So far it’s had better percentages than RSVP as far as sending me sports-fanatics who think Reading is in Berkshire. It has sent me a couple of Melbourneites, who’re apparently in one of the very northern outer suburbs, about a 600km round trip if they want to go into town, but less than 50km from Canberra…

I guess for what it is, eHarmony’s not doing too bad a job. Sure, for a subscription site, trickling people to you makes sense, rather than letting you find everyone one the site whom you might match in the first week, and then cancelling your subscription before it renews.

It’s kinda like World of Warcraft in that respect. You can’t do it all in a month, and every month after the first makes you less likely to quit as you’re that much more invested. (Trust me, I do this sort of stuff for a living. WoW is like a finely-tuned poker machine, except poker machines are required by law to have a certain payout level. WoW only rewards you until you reach critical mass of social investment, and then feeds off you like some kind of video game leech. Which is completely different from Earthworm Jim…)

However, unlike WoW, I think it’s way too expensive for what you get. I’ve paid ’em once, unsure if I’ll pay ’em again. I have the rest of the month to decide…

Anyway, I guess OkCupid’d better have a turn. I like the site. The matching system is actually really good (by and large), it lets you define “near” and sticks to it, except when it emails me matches, who’re all universally a few hundred kilometres away, and frequently not looking for a relationship anyway. I suspect the email matching thing is ignore criteria in order to find three new people to email me.

Which actually leads in to the problem. My match list here is something like 13 people. I think I’ve messaged all the ones with whom I might have something in common, and a few with whom I have almost nothing in common. I’ve messaged a few people who haven’t been on the site in months. I keep coming back here partly because I’m actually in the middle of one conversation (interrupted by Christmas) and because I had one success here, and am hoping lightning will strike me twice. (Except without the zappy, painful static bit).

So OkCupid gets to be analogised to ArmA 2. It’s a great game, wonderful community which lets me choose to associate and search for the sort of people I want to associate with, and little-to-few of the sports-obsessed, team-killing, V8-racing-watching and crashing-the-only-damned-wreck-helicopter-into-the-sea douchebags that populate such popular dating sites as OkCounterstrike. The downside is that there’s a hundred billion CounterStrike players (all of whom have used the word “fag” as a pejorative in the last 20 minutes) and only a dozen of us playing ArmA 2, on a 30-player map. (And I must confess, I haven’t played ArmA 2 in months, Aion‘s release was too close on its heels and I don’t have the hard disk space for both. Curse you Steam and your over 100gB of steamapps!)

I am starting to see why if I turn off the “visited in the last month” filter on OkCupid, the list goes up to 60-ish. (RSVP went up to something like 500 for comparison. So same level of increase). I guess many of us do it. We come to the site, look around, message everyone who catches our eye, either succeed or fail, and go back to bar-hoping. (It’s a pun, not a typo.)

And I suspect if I lived in a bigger city, I’d be doing better. When I turn off the distance filter, my match list goes through the roof. I sometimes am tempted to message out-of-towners in places that’d be fun to live, but I’m also sometimes tempted to eat nothing but chocolate for a day (three 100g blocks of dark chocolate is below my daily energy intake goal, so this isn’t as crazy as it sounds) but I don’t do that either.

Summary

So, anyway, I wish all the people using online dating sites would use OkCupid instead. It’s attractive, useful, provides actual matches with a number that seems to work, doesn’t make you pay and therefore doesn’t produce arbitrary obstacles to ensure you pay more.

Alternatively, I wish I lived in a bigger city, where OkCupid had more people, maybe?

I’m actually really happy with this post. I might go attach it to my real blog, once the web server’s fixed.

23
May
09

Actively pwning my Wii, old-school

Dear EA Sports active Team,

I have recently purchased your fine product, but have a few concerns I wish to raise with you.

Firstly, despite your strong insistence, and in fact obstinate refusal to proceed without it, a nunchuck accessory is not required to navigate your user interface menu.

Secondly, given the nature of your target audience, shipping a thigh-wrapping strap with a device for making it shorter, and nothing to make it longer, seems a surprising oversight. In case it is not clear, your target audience for a video games console-based exercise assistance program is people who both need exercise assistance, own a video games console, and feel that there is a sufficient level of overlap between these two ideas to spend money on such a program. Many such people will have thighs which exceed your apparent circumference estimations, particularly the upper thigh where you suggest this device is best placed.

Thirdly, it is a breach of Section 53 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 to indicate that your product is “Fitness made Fun and Easy” or to use the phrase “fun, easy-to-learn exercises” when your product holds these two ideas as antonyms. I realise I have not yet fully explored your product, and in fact there may be exercises in your product that match both terms, but surely it would be appropriate to use “and/or” in place of “and”, or possibly ensure that the exercises that are both fun and easy-to-learn are in the first day’s routine.

Fourthly, for a product that purports to encourage good health, it is a concern that your female trainer appear to smile somewhat more frequently and widely than is healthy. Whether this effect is caused by botox, abuse of medicinal substances or simply because she is attempting to reinforce the “fun” aspect of the program by appearing to enjoy herself, it is rather offputting.

Speaking of offputting, my fifth point relates to the representation of myself during many of the gym-style (as opposed to track or game style) activities. The trainer in the Picture-in-Picture window is facing me, as is correct. However, the representation of myself is also facing me, and then undertakes actions with the incorrect arm. If I am told to lift my right arm, and the image of me lifts my left arm, that is confusing. If there were some indication of a mirror being involved, that would alleviate the confusion somewhat, although that indication would probably be hampered by the appearance of a large, lightly wooded grassland behind me, making the existence of a mirror somewhat jarring.

Ante-penultimately, the suggestion in the front of the manual that the player register this game online in order to access cheat codes seems rather out of place in an exercise game, where cheating should probably be discouraged more than it already should be. This issue is somewhat alleviated by the fact that the manual does not appear to contain the required registration code, so access to these cheat codes appears to be impossible.

Penultimately, and this should probably be passed on to any of your VO-script-writing colleagues who may be tempted to similar behaviour, it is inappropriate to describe the player as “owning” anything that is not either chattel or property, unless the target audience exclusively consists of 12-year old male citizens of the United States of America or her conquered territories.

Despite the above comments, I am quite pleased with your product over all, and after a period of time sufficient to ensure that this pleasure is not simply the result of exercise-induced lightheadedness, I will not hesitate to recommend it to my friends who fall within the target market. Although my list of friends is rather limited, the broad appeal of the Wii gaming platform and the broadness of many of my friends means that I feel this recommendation will be of some benefit.

Yours sincerely,
Paul “TBBle” Hampson, Exhausted.

PS. If you were intending to pronounce “pwned”, that leading descender attached to the initial o similarly attaches a bilabial stop to the front of the initial rounded lower middle vowel, unless you are intending to sound like a 12-year old male citizen of the United States of America or her conquered territories.

So, yeah. I bought EA Sports active for the Wii, and foolishly decided, despite my raging cold, to start with the “high intensity” workout. About 10 minutes in I thought my head was going to explode, but it appears to have not done so, and I was able to finish the workout. Mind you, that’s largely because they don’t actually tell you about the “skip current exercise” button during the workout, but rely on you to wander into the help menu on the front screen.

Despite my above comments, I think it’s actually a good thing, assuming I can keep it up. The resistance band however, I’m not hugely fond of. I’d rather have free weights, if they’d tell me the amount of weight I should be carrying for the relevant exercise.

Apart from that, I spent the day downloading Old Time Radio shows: Abbott and Costello [another set], Sherlock Holmes [another set, part 1] [another set, part 2] [another site], Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209, You Bet Your Life and Mindwebs. I’ve downloaded or queued all the above, so if you want to avoid a several-gigabyte download, feel free to poke me into putting them onto a USB stick for you if you’re ’round my place.

This should ensure I have sufficient mp3s to not get bored when I start taking long walks for exercise reasons. Of course, it’d prolly be healthier to walk with someone who can both ignore my whinging of physical discomfort in good humour and whom on with I can carry a conversation for a half hour to an hour, but I don’t have anyone who intersects those two groups, who I feel up to tapping for such a plan.

Oh, and my friends aren’t actually broad. Many of them are broads, but that’s a much harder pun to work into a sentence, without offending them. Not that many of the broads I know are easily offended. ^_^

20
Apr
09

TBBle Scarry’s Busy, Busy Weekend

Often my weekends start out with grandiose plans of what I might try and get done.

This weekend (and the preceding evenings I guess) saw me produce a Wine patch I was only playing with out of interest but which turns out to affect Warhammer Online, although I didn’t know it until after I implemented the patch, and a WIne patch I’ve been meaning to prototype for a while using XInput 2 to fix a long-standing Wine bug which also affects Warhammer Online.

I also got back to watching Life On Mars, although I’ve only managed one episode and a bit. It’s pretty damned good.

I also decided to make gyoza, as I have fond, alcohol-supported memories of the last time I made them.

I managed to lazy my cooking even more than usual. I’m using a recipe I picked up last time I made them off a site called The Food Palate by Deborah Rodrigo, whom Google has since informed me is from Sydney but both that site and her personal blog appear to have fallen off the Internet, sadly. However, I distilled (with the help of Kirky at work) the ingredients down to this:

Ginger, chives, chili flakes, coriander, garlic, sesame seed oil, soy sauce for dumplings, and gyoza skins

Ginger, chives, chili flakes, coriander, garlic, sesame seed oil, soy sauce for dumplings, and gyoza skins

Adding half a kilo of lean pork mince, and about a half-hour, you get:

30 gyoza, freezer-bound

So not as bad as the ugly cake I made recently, but still not spectacular. And unlike the cake, I don’t yet know if these turn out to be poison or not.

I expect that they’ll be delicious, and not even slightly poisonous. And unlike my cake, I’m not going to try to share them with anyone. ^_^

It could be worse, at least I seem to have not managed to poison my housemate’s lizards, Prime and Grimlock, whom I’ve been feeding while he’s away this weekend. I’m not sure how I could get “put grasshoppers into the box” wrong, but I don’t think I did. I think they’re pretty neat names for lizards, reflecting Mick’s inner geek, and his outer geek, although Prime seems to be larger than Grimlock which is to the best of my knowledge the wrong way ’round.

I was going to try and leverage in a rant about characters in children’s books with alliterative names at this point, and observe that one of my favorite authors as a young child, Richard Scarry happened to avoid that, but upon actually looking him up, I realise the characters whose names I’d forgotten quite often had alliterative names. The characters I remembered still had non-alliterative names, so it’s not as bad as some authors I can’t be bothered remembering, but I’ll chalk that one up as being disappointed by a childhood memory.

A less disappointing childhood memory turns out to be Piers Anthony‘s Incarnations of Immortality series. I read the series when I was quite young, and I’m only re-reading the first one at the moment, but it reminds me how good a writer he is, and why I loved his books so much as a child. Also because he’s alphabetically early on the shelves. I don’t know why I seem to do that. I think when I’m picking a new series, I start at the beginning and go until I’ve chosen one. So that favours the alphabetically early.

I’ve managed to get a whole bunch of reading done recently, which is good. Sadly, Borders now wants me to pay $7 on a $14 book to order it in from overseas, and it turns out most of the series I’m following keenly enough to actually order books are on that list, so I may end up having to do an Amazon order. Which is annoying, because I’m also looking for some DS games: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations appears to be discontinued in Australia and the US, and Impossible Mission never seems to have been released here at all. Along with wanting Race on DVD, I have a fair bit of overseas shopping to do, and the local financial climate is not exactly conducive to that. -_-

Anyway, the above is my documentation supporting why I should not be left alone for days at a time. ^_^

Edit: Fix images after changing hosting.

21
Mar
09

GLUTton for wxPynishment

A followup to last year’s foray into Python and OpenGL.

I noticed today that wxPython includes a GLCanvas class which uses PyOpenGL. However, as of 2.8.9.2, wxPython’s demo crashes due to wxWidgets bug 10203 which is fixed in 2.8 wxWidgets post 2.8.9, and in 2.10.

Until a wxPython release comes out based on either of those, there is a workaround. The script update_manifest.py, which wxPython includes to change the manifest in your python.exe and pythonw.exe to use the Windows XP comctl32.dll, also fixes this problem, so even though I’ve been aware of this bug for ages, I’ve only learned about this workaround tonight by reading the wxpython mailing list archive.

Now that I’ve got that patched, and PyOpenGL installed, the GLCanvas demo in wxPython runs, and the cube demo works. The cone demo however comes back with this:

OpenGL.error.NullFunctionError: Attempt to call an undefined function __glutInitWithExit, check for bool(__glutInitWithExit) before calling

This turns out to not be a surprise, as I don’t have GLUT (glut32.dll) installed. Sadly, the wxPython demo code doesn’t test the result of the OpenGL.GLUT.glutInit method in PyOpenGL, so this exception is simply output without causing the cone window to abort.

Since the draw code for the cone calls glPushMatrix before any of its glut calls, and the glut calls throw an exception so you never call glPopMatrix, you end up filling your matrix stack, and getting a lot of error spam in your output window, where the later errors can easily push the older errors out the top of your scrollback buffer.

I turned out to be too lazy to build my own glut (it’s anecdotaly possible) but a lucky hit with Google informed me that Nvidia’s Cg Toolkit includes both a win32 and x64 version of glut32.dll. You wouldn’t be able to distribute it as there’s no license indication for glut apart from the license for the whole Cg Toolkit. The glut.h file included however is the one from normal Glut (or so it appears) so I doubt it’s anything except the win32 version of upstream glut.

On this point, it’s not obvious to me if freeglut is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for glut32.dll, or a souped-up alternative. It doesn’t help that the freeglut configure file includes an option to switch that mode on or off (producing libglut.so or libfreeglut.so) while the .mak file (for NMake) only produces freeglut.dll not glut32.dll. So I guess it’s intended to be both. The next step would be to see if freeglut can build from configure using mingw64 and produce a drop-in glut32.dll.

However, I don’t care that much. I only wanted to see the wxPython GLCanvas demo run. I won’t be using GLUT (or event GLCanvas, to be honest) myself so this has had plenty of time devoted to it anway.

I guess I hope that the main benefit of this blog posting is to allow those very occasional forum posters who go looking for glut32.dll for Vista x64 or XP x64, or even Vista 32-bit, to find it in the NVidia Cg Toolkit. So far I’ve seen several such questions when searching Google for a copy myself, but no one ever finds one for 64-bit. (There’s a 32-bit one in the bullet physics SVN repository, if you don’t want NVidia’s one.)

And for those same forum posters, a quick note. The x64 build of glut32.dll goes in %WINDIR%\system32 on x64 machines. The win32 build of glut32.dll goes in %WINDIR%\SysWOW64. If you get this wrong, you’ll get the same error messages as not having the file present at all. It’s prolly both easier and a better idea to actually drop the glut32.dll next to the program you’re running, unless you have both 32-bit and x64 versions in the same directory for some reason…

08
Mar
09

Self-reflection by the light of my range hood

Spent too much time home alone this long weekend… So I made cake.

Ugly cake

Ugly cake

The bowl cleaning was delicious, so I’m sure it’ll taste good. Experience suggests no one else wants to eat my baking (on the grounds it’s usually ugly, and I probably don’t strike people as someone whose infrequent cooking is of a particularly edible standard) so I expect I’ll get it all to myself over the week.

I’d like to suggest this is an allegory for my love life, but I’m not sure that I’m using the word allegory correctly there.

I also stocked up on the ingredients for fudge (family recipie, bears little resemblance to actual fudge) which is much harder to produce ugly.

If anyone cares to leave a comment as to how big a “dessert spoon” is, that’d be most appreciated. I got 10g from the dessert spoons in my drawers, but I’m not totally sure it was enough, and I’d previously suspected (until I tried my new kitchen scales this evening) that it was 20g. Then again, I believe a tablespoon was 25g, and Calorie King informed me ealier today that it’s about 8g.

Oh yeah, I finally bought kitchen scales. And some more video games. Looking for “Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations” but I can only find the first two games and the fourth (of which I have the second and fourth already). Reportedly was released in Australia in 2007, but only hit Europe in 2008 due to a ratings blockage.

04
Oct
08

Grinding code in Warhammer Online

My original plan was to only use the Windows XP 64 installed on my laptop for video games (and then only when necessary due to a Wine disfeature) and Linux for everything else. My World Of Warcraft days actually worked quite well for this, as it played very nicely under Wine. However, as interesting things (ala my previous blog post) sometimes crop up while I’m in Windows, and also as I’m now playing games that aren’t so nice under Linux, I’ve ended up being in Windows more than Linux. And now I’ve found myself distracted from games playing by, of all things, MMO UI Addon programming, keeping me in Windows even more.

You’d think with my strong awareness of the commercial nature of grind, I’d prolly be trying to get all the playtime I can out of my monthly subscription to Warhammer Online. Instead, I seem to be burrowing my head down into some UI programming in Lua. Like WoW, WAR (or WHO as a friend of mine calls it) uses LUA to implement its user interface and provides a way of adding modules in to modify, adjust or just plain futz with the interface. The big site for WAR addons (like WoW addons, in fact) is Curse Gaming and they even provide a Sourceforge-like site for addon development called CurseForge.

Anyway, why am I doing this, given I managed to avoid WoW addon programming for my entire playing time? Apart from external reasons I’m not going to post here, WAR being brand new is missing a fair few addons. None I can’t live without, but one it does lack is DrDamage, which enhances your ability tooltips with the actual effective values of the ability once gear and stats are taken into account.

Part of the issue is that WAR’s combat calculations are not fully understood yet. An excellent primer is available at Disquette’s Weblog and Warhammer Alliance has a Mechanic Analysis forum as well. I’ve posted some comments at the former, but the latter requires you to be a “WAR Soldier” before you can post, and I seem to still be a “WAR Recruit”, which means I haven’t contributed enough to the Warhammer Alliance forums. Ah well.

So anyway, my addon. LibCombatCalcs is my first MMO addon, basically supposed to encapsulate the various combat number mechanics of WAR so that I or someone else can write tools like DrDamage (or RatingsBuster) which magically continue working when they change the mechanics, and which don’t need large hard-coded tables of information duplicated across each addon.

It also intends to tie together the seperate sources of combat information into a single coherent stream for other addons to listen to.

Anyway, we’re not there yet. What it does do right now is record hits against monsters, and give you a little window with /lcc mobinfo which shows the calculated toughness of the monster (from an unambigous non critical autoattack) and the calculated values for all the subsequent abilities you used, letting you see if my calculations (and therefore my transcriptions of the community’s understanding) are correct, and/or where things need tweaks. I’ll be using this (and I hope others do too, I don’t want to build a level 40 of each class to do this…) to identify the sources of DPS that contribute to each ability.

Anyway, there it is. I’d love to hear feedback about it, preferably at Curse/CurseForge but here is fine too if you hate those sort of sites. You can clone the git repo from CurseForge, and it currently autopackages every commit I push so you can also grab and install the zips.

By the by, this is my first time using mysgit although I did contribute some work to a different msys git effort, and it combined with Console and an updated Vim with some nice colour schemes (I’m using xterm16 at home and work now) makes me a much happier Windows programmer on my laptop.

On other fronts, I’ve recently been playing with Python-Ogre, hoping to knock out a 3D physics-based tech demo of some kind with it in the middle-term future. (May end up being a Christmas break project…). After my disappointments with 64-bit Python and Pyglet under Windows, I may end up doing it under Linux. Ideally it’s cross-platform of course. I’ve also done some more serious work on my book cataloging software using Elixir, SQLAlchemy and SQLite to turn my collection of text files into a real database. However, there’s not a particularly good way of dealing with schema changes that I can wrap my head around, so I’ve put that on hold while I think about how the data’s going to have to look in the long run. And then I got distracted, so it’s on the Christmas break pile too.