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December and betas

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Zow, December 1998. Only one month left before I start partying like it's 1999!

Still doing the publisher shuffle here. I've got a couple of CD's waiting in padded envelopes in my outbox, ready to be shipped to two more prospective publishers. Both publishers seem to be genuinely interesting. We'll see what they think of the product.

I'm now up to Beta 5 of the games. The latest addition is an autostart menu for the CD. It works a bit like this. . .

1. Bring up a menu with 3 options, "install to hard disk", "run games from the CD", and "Quit".

2. If the user chooses "install to hard disk", it simply runs setup.

3. If the user chooses "run games from the CD", run the menu from the CD.

The neat thing is, if the user chooses "run games from the CD", it writes out a tag to the Registry. If the autostart menu ever sees the tag again, it automatically runs the games menu without asking to install again. One thing that always bugs me about most games is that the CD bugs you every time you put it in the drive. This way, the game only asks you to install once. After that, you can just pop in the CD and play the games.

Next-ly, to echo Mr. Howland's sentiments of a couple of days ago, there are certainly days when I can't write a line of code to save my life. It took a long time for me to come to grips with the fact that taking breaks are all a part of any job that has an intellectual component. If I feel the need to take an extended break, I try to make it productive in ways not involving writing code. Sometimes that means firing up Paint Shop Pro to tweak the graphics. Sometimes that means surfing the web for new-n-interesting utilities. Sometimes that means grabbing some paper and a pencil, going to an interesting spot, and writing down ideas. There's a big advantage to not having someone peering over your shoulder to check your LOC count for the day, and that's that you have time for a productive break.

Also, I don't wanna start sounding like Jerry Pournelle at the late lamented Chaos Manor, but I bought an new-n-interesting piece of Hardware for one of the machines. It's the new Creative Labs video card based on the RIVA TNT chip, and it's a top-notch piece of hardware. It's fast as all get-out with games, and the Direct3D and OpenGL support is perfect. The i740 card in my other machine is cool, but the OpenGL support wasn't that good. Needless to say, GLQuake (higher resolution and much better frame-rate) creeps my wife out more than the original :)

Finally, if you're needing an MS Office Pro-compatible application suite, and you have zero dollars to spend, check out StarOffice from StarDivision. They've just released the latest version, and they're offering free downloads for personal use. I've been playing with it, and so far it's every bit as good as Office 97. The only problem is downloading. They use a lot of grayed-out controls on their forms, and Internet Explorer doesn't post form data from disabled controls. Since you need to get a registration number from the forms, properly submitting the forms is a must. I got around the problem by saving the forms as HTML on my machine, editing them with a text-editor to remove DISABLED from the text, and re-loading them. It's a pain, but you've only gotta do it once.

Or you can just wait a few days in the hope that StarDivision will figure out the problem.
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