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Maddox's Best Friend

Motivation

Posted by , 07 April 2006 - - - - - - · 180 views

It's been a long time...

I've got my Linux properly working this time, so I'm going to try and write something worth talking about. I'm going to get a fully working SDL Pong clone up and running if it kills me, working AI and everything.

I've been a little bogged down with Uni life, but my coding's something for the summer evenings (I'm getting a job, so very likely no holiday for me this year [sad]). I might be buying a second hand iMac 2 off our CompSci department - it's supposedly about 4 years old, and it's got Tiger. Each year, a CS lab here gets upgraded, and it's rumoured the Second Year Mac lab is the next one to get gutted.

On a side note, I hate Java. We've been learning it intensely at University, but I can't stand it. You can't get away with any sort of hackery, all your old C++ tricks to dodge round certain problems just cause the Java compiler to die a horrible painful death. And the Sun JavaDoc system is an absolute nightmare - you can't find useful information on anything, and spend long periods of time failing miserably. Thirdly, we're forced to use Eclipse: absolutely horrible. It's hellishly slow to respond to anything whatsoever (why didn't they write the IDE in C++?), clumsy, overcomplicated, and cluttered. I'd like to start coding within half a minute of clicking the Eclipse icon, not half a century. I followed my tutor's advice, and I'm turning into a fan of firing up a UNIX shell and running javac.

But anyhoo, C++ is far nicer to look at also. Java just tries to dress everything up for you, but it just feels horrible. I don't like the idea of it forcing you into a rigid OO paradigm, I like the freedom to do things as I choose.

Right, time to properly design my reusable SDL framework (drag-and-drop into every SDL project, it'll save time in future).

Bye for now.


Konquer your CSS bugs!1

Posted by , 02 March 2006 - - - - - - · 190 views

OK, so I've been experimenting with CSS and PHP, and so far so good.

I just managed to get my custom font class to work with IE7.

Basically, I had a set of custom tags before:



mytext.standard { //blah blah; }

mytext.standout { //blah blah; }




Except IE didn't like that. At all. My white text, with IP number highlighted in bold, using Tahoma, came out all in black Times New. Apparently it doesn't like custom CSS tags without some bizarre hacking and weird namespace definitions, which will probably break Firefox support as well (by Sod's Law/my luck, at least).

So, I came up with a brainwave. Why not use the standard HTML <font> tag, but make a class out of it? Yay! So now it works in IE7, haven't tried 6 yet.

However, the same problem observed in IE is still observed in Konqueror. Bollocks to Konqueror. I'm hacking no further, I'll just write a PHP script telling Konqueror users to get a decent browser. Of course, if they use that crappy identity changer function and make my server think it's something else other than the K, then it's their problem if half my content won't display properly.

The reason I dislike Konqueror is two-fold: firstly, because of its blatant, almost arrogant ignorance of the standards. Secondly, it's horribly inflexible (who needs a spell checker and identity spoofer if it can't even handle online multimedia properly?), and is both clumsy and slow to use. It tries to be IE, but fails miserably - although I'm a KDE user, I surf the net using ye goode olde Firefox for Linux. I might even install GNOME so I don't have to use Konqueror at all, including file browsing.

I think Konqueror is shite, basically. I'm thinking about grabbing Opera, seeing what it's like.

Comments welcome [smile].


"Linux for Human Beings" - whatever

Posted by , 09 February 2006 - - - - - - · 336 views

OK, so I've been experimenting with Ubuntu "Breezy Badger" Linux. It was pretty good, for about the 4 hours it worked out of the 4 days I've had it installed. I'm writing this from Windows.

If Ubuntu is so magi-tastic, why have I had to reinstall it 3 times in 48 hours, only for it to corrupt again overnight without any settings being changed?

The first two times, I saw the logo, and "Loading modules" and all that, except it got to "Mounting root filesystem" and told me the drive Linux was installed on didn't exist. My my, that's interesting.

I reinstalled, it happened again after booting and working beautifully for a few hours. And again.

After my latest reinstall (about 9 hours ago) - it boots, but neither KDE or GNOME work for more than 10 seconds before I'm thrown back to the login screen. X is running, I know that for a fact because all the fancy graphics appear. This time, on boot, I got a textual bootup and not the graphical one with the logo.

Oh, and in the brief period it worked and booted properly every time, I had weird issues such as applications loading forever, and eventually not starting at all.

These random corruptions are exactly that - random, I have done nothing that I know of which would cause it. And also, the sound wouldn't work at all - even following several massive tutorials on the subject, nothing bloody worked.

I've had enough. I'm going back to the Evil Redmond Empire for now (because it actually works reliably and everytime, been using it since 3.11 without any problems), I'm not touching Ubuntu again, the only reason I'm using at all is because I can't be bothered burning 5+ CDs of rubbish I'm never going to use. Seriously, the Ubuntu forums are buzzing with threads reporting similar problems, but nobody seems to care, and important questions go unanswered - all too often I've seen burning important user issue questions with 100+ views and no replies.

I'm appalled that something so blatantly poor made it through testing and got so much hype. What a bloody joke. Linux is seen to be better than Windows (especially Ubuntu, apparently), but if you can't rely on it to boot everytime you power on your system, what's the point?

Yep, "Linux for Human Beings" - "Human Beings" who enjoy having to reformat every 2 days just to make their system bootable. Be warned kiddies.

If anybody can think of a different distro which would suit my needs (relatively noobish, not too bloated, and free), then please let me know. I'm willing to give it another chance, just not Ubuntu. I'm waiting on Fedora 5 final release as well.


So...

Posted by , 01 January 2006 - - - - - - · 322 views

... here be 2006. Went to the Edinburgh Street Party last night, and then out drinking with old friends, had a great time.

But I've got other things to say.

Firstly, I managed to finally perservere and finish HL2, but as I've already said in my previous entry, I hated it. To recap, here's a list of why I think that game was totally overrated. See December 4th's entry for anything I've forgotten.

-> It was genuinely boring and repetitive to play. How many times must I use the gravity gun to drag objects around to cross a swamp? Also, how many times must I meet the same enemies over and over again, and how many times must I kill everything in sight, and spend the next 10 minutes running backwards and forwards trying to find, in vain, what I'm supposed to do next?
I didn't feel involved or enthralled, it just felt so dull and predictable, and the story was never explained.

-> I kept on getting stuck on the scenery. And I couldn't go prone to hide from gunfire, why not? Also, you find yourself having to run along ledges barely wide enough to fit one foot on. You fall off and die. Repeatedly.

-> The AI stinks. The spider things you get to control keep on blocking you in. Your human controlled squadmates also block you in, follow you so closely that you can't get through doors, and just end up dancing round in circles going "Hey it's Freeman!" and "Sorry, Freeman! [notably without getting out of your way]". Also, they stand there shouting, rattling off an endless number of machine gun rounds, and kill absolutely nothing. What's the point of them "helping" you if you have to do everything yourself? Also, I walked in front of a combine, late in the game, and he didn't start shooting me at all.

-> The same old monsters kept on appearing again and again and again. I'm sick of headcrabs and those stupid toxic things that leave you with 1 health point.

-> You seemed to lose vast amounts of health doing absolutely anything, and spend your entire time looking for the next health pack.

-> The same goes for ammo. You'd think 20 accurately placed machine gun rounds through the head would kill, right? No, it would appear not. You find yourself without enough ammo for any gun.

-> The Windows key - why wasn't it trapped so it didn't respond when you hit it? I've got a top of the range machine, but it's a laptop. So naturally the Windows key is next to the control key for crouch. If you hit the Windows key by accident, you end up back on the desktop. By the time you've got the game back up again, you're dead. Even some of the amateur stuff in the Showcase here traps that and prevents it from happening, so why not Valve?

-> In short, I feel like I've just played through a bland, overhyped tech demo. Valve made a very wise choice releasing CS:Source separately, boxed and everything. Means you don't have to buy this tripe just to get access to a mod. Which really goes to show, a community mod is better and more fun than the actual game.

Most of my complaints aren't unique - I found many of the same issues reported on Amazon.co.uk reviews, and other user reviews of the game dotted around on the net. Even many Half Life fanboys, it would seem, haven't been taken in at all.

[Awaits the flames to rise]



Now I've got that out of my system, onto something else somewhat more important.

I've been mucking about with PHP, Java, and both Linux and Windows 2000 based Web services. Yep, sounds a great deal easier and more appealing than normal apps development, so I honestly feel like I'm going to pursue that route and see where it takes me.

OK, that's all, all the best for 2006 [smile]

ukdeveloper.


Back...

Posted by , 03 December 2005 - - - - - - · 349 views

Hello again, I've not been updating my Journal for a while now, simply because there wasn't anything interesting to put here.

But now there is, because I've been seriously playing Half Life 2.

I don't really like it.

IMHO it's just a dull, repetitive tech demo. I'm sick of the following:

-> Getting stuck on the scenery (partly fixed by the Gravity Gun, but it's still irritating)

-> Poor level design - ledges that are too narrow to walk on without being 100% accurate, and jumps that you can miss (thus killing oneself) by simply being as little as 1mm further back than the game wants you to be.

-> The clumsy controls.

-> The "LOADING" moving from one room to another - never seen that in anything over than the HL series.

-> The endless tide of near invincible monsters, causing your whole ammo to deplete just by trying to kill them. Headshots aren't always terribly effective.

-> Highway 17 (the driving mission) - don't get me started.

-> The general hellish boredom and chore of going through the game.

I got the original Half Life off Steam, and didn't like it either, but at least it was so bad it was good, and also had some comedy value - HL2 lacks anything. It's one outlandish advert for a graphics engine, as far as I can see. I'm glad to see that, in the UK at least (not sure about everywhere else), Valve have taken the sensible step of selling CS Source separate from HL2. Very wise move, I'd say.

At this point, I tend to think that the single player FPS campaigns aren't for me, unless they're mindless fragfests like the older Quake games and UT. I didn't like Quake IV much, either - I liked Quake because it was different to Doom, but that's no longer the case.

Bah. I really don't think single player FPS is for me - it's online play for me, balanced out with a healthy dose of RTS.

Another random thought which crossed my mind - the medium on which games are distributed. I remember a discussion a while ago on a different forum, where Americans were complaining about the number of discs their games were coming on. I believe UT2K4 had 6 discs, BF2 had 3, HL2 had quite a few...

I wondered, why do they do it? In the UK, basically all new AAA releases are on DVD these days, I've never seen a game with multiple CD-ROMs in the last 3-4 years at least, yet it seems elsewhere that it's a common occurence.

Anyway, not much else to report, except that I've not posted any noob programming questions lately.

Oh, and I found this quite amusing. Wonder if that'll satisfy any conspiracists?


Mathematics... rant

Posted by , 30 October 2005 - - - - - - · 231 views

Well I'm angry. I'm angry at myself for my own stupidity.

Mathematics - I was a retard in school, so I need to do one module of University level maths to continue to second year CS. But the same thoughts still hit me - what is the point in Mathematics? Is it any use?

Well, I'm tempted to say both yes and no. Applied Mathematics may be useful in solving real-world problems, but just about everything else isn't. Maths doesn't exist as such - it's just a set of rules made up by people over the past few thousand years, and exists only in time and space. If it doesn't exist in the real world, I can't grasp it. So I just don't see the point - Maths seems to be a means of getting to the next level rather than something which is genuinely useful, interesting, or based in material fact.

I'd say about 75% of everything you would learn is both useless and overcomplicated. The ONLY time you'll see 100% usefulness is if you're a professional mathematician, working in a University (School teachers never teach anything as advanced as that). I mean, who really needs to be able to solve a trigonometric equation? Real-world application? Nobody and nothing are the two answers you're looking for. Trig graphs? Bollocks. Inequalities? Say what? Fourier series? Now you're pushing it.

I can handle computer science fine, there really is very little Maths involved, but having to jump through such pointless hoops to get there REALLY ticks me off. Especially when you spend hours and hours of struggle and it's always wrong. Struggle continually, hit the exam, fail, and the merry-go-round completes another revolution.

God, I pity Maths students, wasting 3-4, sometimes 5 years proving things which don't exist and that they will never use ever again after graduation. Chances are they'll be sucked into the arms of a financial juggernaut (like most of us) and spend the rest of their lives using the bare minimum in terms of what they have learnt. Pointless.

Gah. Better stop ranting, and try and get something done. And yes, the cracks are beginning to show, my state of mind has gone splat.

</rant>




Boo :(

Posted by , 29 October 2005 - - - - - - · 201 views

Ramsay didn't win. Despite my vote, he came in a not-so-close second.

The new Rector at the University of St Andrews is therefore Simon Pepper, OBE. Never heard of him? Neither have I. It seems he used to be the head of the Scottish WWF (not wrestling, wildlife [grin]).

I haven't been up to the Union today yet (so I don't have the exact vote count), but here's the BBC story.


Ramble

Posted by , 26 October 2005 - - - - - - · 214 views

Can't remember when I last wrote something here, and I can't be bothered looking it up.

So, I'm still up here in St Andrews studying CS. So far, it's pretty straightforward - take a few concepts from C++ that I already knew damn well, and apply them to Java.

I might even take one of my practical assignments, put bells on it, and upload it to the showcase just as a point of interest. It involved moving a turtle around the screen to form letters, so if I put a front-end on it to allow the user to specify where they wanted the turtle to go, it could prove to be amusing for little under 5 minutes. The turtle drew coloured lines, it was imported from the Galapagos library which I think comes with a book I've got (it was stored on a file server in the CS department when we did the practical - we just had to point Eclipse at it, and copy a couple of files). It was hard-coded for the assignment, but I can just grab my old code, hack it around to allow user input, and away you go. In go the co-ordinates, away goes the turtle. Dull, but still a program.

I was going to put a screenie here, but I still need to fiddle about with getting the library set up on my laptop. Screenie cometh soon!

Also, iTunes is a wonderful thing - being able to stream music off other people on the fly, it's genious. Pity about the 5 users a day limit though, or should that be 5 users during that instance of iTunes? That's right folks, close iTunes and it gets reset. Restart iTunes even a couple of seconds later, and others can connect normally once more. Hardly a day's worth of users, is it?

In other news, Gordon Ramsay is running for Rector here. The elections are on Friday, I'll probably vote for him because I haven't actually heard of any of the other candidates.

I get a week off next Friday, so I'm off back to Edinburgh for a bit. I'll probably spend it doing some work, but I think I need to rest up a bit.

I do wish I had something to write about here, but I don't. But I want my money's worth anyway.

See you round,

ukdeveloper.








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