Getting ready to head down to Austin for Wednesday's GDC road-trip. I've got a pal who's gonna be putting me up for the night, so it should be a pretty inexpensive affair. He's a fellow game developer who's trying to tackle it part-time. I don't envy him. I moonlighted my original game pack, and it wasn't easy to do. Anyway, you can check out his work here.
The Java project is almost complete. The server's basically done except for error-checking and recovery. The admin client is done, and the user clients will all be done by the end of the week. Hopefully I can hand 'em off and get back to games.
One thing I've noticed recently. While some tasks in programming have gotten more complicated, some have become much simpler. I'm reminded of a LAN administrator product I worked on around 1993. I remember that a couple of developers were thinking up a complex memory caching scheme because they were worried that an add-on they were writing would grind on the disk too much. They roped me in to do a sanity-check on the whole thing. After looking it over for a few minutes, I pointed out that if the user had SMARTDRV.EXE loaded, the benefit from the whole cache scheme would be almost nonexistent. Since Windows 3.1 was taking over, and it installed SMARTDRV.EXE automatically, we decided that the cache would be more trouble than it was worth.
I came to a similar situation a few days ago. My little Java server needed a good way to back up the occasional report that it generated, and there needed to be a way for the administrator to have an archive of the reports that he could easily access. After a bit of thinking, we came up with a brilliantly simple idea -- create a Hotmail account and have the server email the reports to the Hotmail address. That way, if the admin needed to pull up an old report, he could simply open up his Hotmail account and browse through the past reports. The server software could then be anywhere, and he wouldn't need direct access to the server machine to access the report archive.
If only all software problems could be solved so easily :)