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  1. Bracket

    Java Sec. Levels and Running my .Jar File

    I've run into similar situations before, mostly when writing a file upload tool for a client (it ran as an applet that collected vast quantities of images from photographers, did post-processing on them, and uploaded them to the customer's content manager). Any time I tried to use anything more than simple writing to the screen (such as accessing sockets for the upload), my applet was blocked. I found two solutions, both of which were needed for reliable functionality: Make sure that the browser's Java plugin is up-to-date. Digitally sign your applet. You can use a self-generated cert at no cost; users will see a "this application was signed by <your name>, trust it?" type prompt when it runs, but until you're ready for a public release that's fine. There's a decent tutorial on the signing process here:   I'd recommend putting the signing process into your build-chain. I use NetBeans (which in turn uses ant), so it was relatively painless to do so for me - and it's a lot easier to build and sign in one click!
  2. At home, I have Ubuntu - currently playing with KDE 4.1, so I guess it morphed into Kubuntu somewhere. At work, on the desktop I use openSUSE (with Windows available in Virtual Box seamless mode). On various servers, we have some Debian, some Red Hat Enterprise, and a whole lot of FreeBSD (not Linux, I know - but I love it!). For development, it depends upon what I'm trying to do. Lately, it's been Java projects - so I spend a lot of time in NetBeans. Otherwise, it's gvim + toolchain for whatever language I'm working with. In my virtual Windows, it's Visual Studio all the way. Ubuntu likes: the Debian package system without the Debian long delays between releases ("testing" works great, too), includes just about everything I've ever wanted in the repositories, does a good job of getting out of the way when I feel like customizing things. Ubuntu dislikes: Every release seems to break something (that's also a like, since I enjoy fixing stuff - but it's a big downside when I need to get something done). OpenSUSE likes: the installer is really nice, it's solid/stable & detects my work hardware out of the box. Upgrading to 11 didn't break anything! Close enough to SuSE that some of the wierd SuSE certified software I encounter will work on it. OpenSUSE dislikes: Novell (the company) suck, far fewer packages available, RPM in general, and it's HUGE.
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    Make a class

    Class: Unix-wizard Nationality: American Look: Large (all directions), enormous white beard, glasses - gandalf in a t-shirt Weapons: Shell scripts (streams of seemingly incomprehensible but really rather useful text that paralyze anyone who isn't a unix wizard) Secondary: Freedom! The Unix Wizard can, given enough time (delay during which he is vulnerable), copy the technical devices of other classes. Melee: Weak (hit over head with manual? Personal hygiene attack?) Health: High Speed: Very slow Think Richard Stallman, or Eric Raymond with less firepower. :-)
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    Finding the shortest path

    The closest reference I could find is this paper, unfortunately you need an ACM membership to read it (I don't have one, so I don't know what it says either!): Out of interest, why don't you want to make a graph? If you've got all the polygon locations, you practically have a graph anyway... you can effectively render it to a graph (rather than the screen) and you can use existing methods quite readily. Without a graph of some sort, your options are pretty limited if you want accurate, deterministic, shortest-path routing. For one thing, determining if its even possible to get to the end-point without some sort of map is pretty tricky! I tried to come up with some options, but they all boil down to creating some sort of map/graph. You could do the old Unreal engine bot trick of marking waypoints, and reducing the graph to just a list of "these waypoints link to these other waypoints" and trying to get to the waypoint closest to the actual destination. That doesn't get rid of the need for a graph, but it does reduce the scope of the graph considerably (although it needs some human intervention in map setup). Otherwise, you're going to be stuck with either collision avoidance while trying to go in the right direction (which doesn't guarantee that you'll ever get there; add in breadcrumbs and you CAN guarantee that you'll get there eventually - but like most maze solvers, your route won't be close to optimal), or in effect emulating the flood-fill routines of raster-days-of-yore.
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    For you who wants more time for your projects!

    Out of interest (academic, mostly - too many years of political science for me!), how do you propose solving the problems that have tended to lead to past attempts at collective lifestyles from collapsing? Specifically: The "more equal" problem. Everyone contributes to the group 'bank' to some degree (presumably each working according to their ability, and spending only according to their need - to misquote Marx), and this is designed to give funds to get everyone what they need. Is need purely equal (in which case, adding members without societal employment actually reduces everyone's share of the collective bank), or is it assessed somehow? Worse, since the bank requires contributions - don't you have an incentive to recruit rich people, or people who are already doing very well in the society you seek to replace? Do you have any particular power structure within the collective? If you were to attain your dream of a patch of land, and hard plastic shelters with oxygen tents, and a decent sized group of people living there... how do you handle the first time two people REALLY disagree (probably over sex or resources, those seem to be the primary motivators of conflict)? If someone were expelled from the collective, how much of the bank do they take with them? Last, because I'm curious; if you spurn society so much, why do you want to encourage the development of economic simulators?
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    Emails in C++

    When you need a free library, I recommend searching It's a huge repository of free/open source software. I normally write the types of application that need to send email in C# (it's easier, plus my day job uses it), but this looks promising: (I found it via SourceForge, but they have their own homepage). It's free, and open source - and comes with plenty of documentation and help forums. In answer to your other thread, SQL Server 2005 connectivity is a bit of a pain in C++ on Windows. I didn't see much open source software for talking to it; you probably either need to use Visual Studio's wizards, grit your teeth and learn OLEDB or ADO, hope that something like this helps - or do what I do: write your database handling code in a higher-level language such as C#, and connect it to your C++ application.
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    ISP for Web Hosting

    If you're really serious about hosting an MMO, then you should look into data-center colocation/server leasing (depending upon if you want to host your own box somewhere, or just rent a whole box). It gets expensive pretty fast, but these guys are the cheapest I've found. No idea if their service is any good. RackSpace are also well known in the field. If by 'host an MMO' you actually mean 'find an ISP that lets me have some users connect to a box on my home network' (which will seriously limit the Massive part of the equation, but is fine for learning), you should test various cable/DSL providers. Most around here block a few ports (port 25 inbound, mostly), but won't block high port numbers. Setup a dynamic DNS account (such as, setup your router/firewall appropriately to forward whatever ports you need, and you should be good to go for a small setup. You can expect pretty limited upstream (i.e. you sending data out) bandwidth this way: most residential ISPs seriously limit it. A middle-of-the-road approach would be to get a business account from almost any cable/dsl/fiber ISP. These generally have proper, static IP addresses, don't block ports (unless you sign up for a service to 'protect you'), etc. You can typically get better bandwidth that way, too - but it costs more. Sometimes a LOT more.
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    intellectual property?

    In the US, it varies a bit by state but the general rule of thumb is that it depends where the picture was taken. If it is a public place (such as a park owned by the city/state), then generally speaking it's alright to use. If the picture is in any way on private property, or includes items that violate an individual's perceived right to privacy (for example, shooting from public property through a window, inside a public building in an area marked 'private', or in a public office with a door!) then you need permission. Things are muddied further by the fact that we own our own likeness - so if you use photographs of people, you need a release waiver from the individuals... except for public places, generally outdoors. Oh, and make sure that anyone you photograph is clothed and isn't objecting to your photography - both of those can run afoul of local privacy regulations. You can take a relatively generic picture, and use elements of it to form something else. For example, take a picture of a pony and use it as reference material for skinning a virtual 3D pony. You *might* run afoul of 'derived work' rules, but it's very unlikely for something as generic as a farm animal. You *would* run into issues if you snapped a picture of (insert celebrity here) in the park and decided to use his/her likeness. Finally, for a pony in the park - if its a pretty normal pony (i.e. hard to tell whose pony it is), isn't marked in some way (I'm really not sure how you label ownership on a pony - on a dog, a collar might be a giveaway) and you crop out the background, it's very unlikely anybody would care. All in all, it's a legal mess. (I'm not a lawyer, but I do have a law degree. This isn't legal advice - attorneys can legally give that, I can't!) Edit: Just noticed that you are in Canada. I know Canadian copyright law is similar to the law here (as is UK law; my degree is from the UK), but it's probably not exactly the same. Sorry to add further confusion!
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    Visual Basic going away

    It depends what you call Visual Basic. The old COM-based VB has gone away (VB6 being the last incarnation). It still lingers in the form of Visual Basic for Applications (in MS Office), but I wouldn't count on that being around forever - sooner or later it will be ditched in favor of .NET. Visual Basic.NET is still around, and shows no signs of dying.
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    [web] best server-side approach?

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this... but it depends upon what you are trying to achieve! Holy wars advocating favorite environments/platforms are fun, but they miss the point a little. In the last year, I've shipped solutions in PHP, ASP.NET, Java (JSF) and a couple of Perl-based setups (the latter hurt my head). It really boils down to what you want to achieve. For what is basically a static site that only includes a few small scripted elements, PHP is fine - so long as you learn it properly and avoid the many, many gotchas (such as SQL injection!) it makes it easy for you to find the hard way. PHP also makes decent 'glue' to act as a wrapper around other components; the PHP5 SOAP library is strong enough that I've used it for quick-and-dirty interfaces to web services for example. ASP.NET and Java (if you use Java Server Faces) are pretty similar on the web scripting side. Basically you write HTML and can add in extra tags for .NET/JSF components - and these tags have code attached to them. Both are fast and relatively easy to program. Java wins if you need to interface to huge application servers, or make use of the enormous open source library available for it. I find ASP.NET a little easier for simple sites, or anything in which I'm ok with Microsoft's slightly odd view of how to implement MVC. Perl hurt my head, but that's because I'm really not a Perl developer - but for the specific task I needed, it was a really good fit (munging lots of text, basically).
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    Help me troubleshoot a laptop problem

    It sounds like the system could be overheating. I've had a few of my client's systems (more laptops than desktops; some laptops have pretty poor cooling) overheat with similar symptoms - they either shut off, freeze, or bluescreen. It could also be bad RAM; another client of mine added a second stick of RAM to his laptop with different timings (sadly, that's what you get for going to Best Buy!) and it would randomly freeze. Finally, it could be power management related - try changing the power management settings in the BIOS. For heat, you can probably find a tool that will monitor heat levels on your system; see if they are going up! RAM is harder. Memchk86 does a pretty good job of stressing RAM to find errors, but it isn't perfect. Also, try removing any external devices (USB devices, etc.). It's amazing how well USB works, but just occasionally I've seen systems lock up with some USB 2 devices and either a non-powered or an insufficiently powered hub (the hubs in the system may fall into the latter category).
  12. I'm not a lawyer, but I did ask one about something similar recently. The answer I received is that yes - provided you own ALL of the licensed material (either because you wrote it, or because you have written copyright assignments from every contributor), and so long as both licenses are compatible with all linked libraries in your program. License compatibility is a giant headache, but there are sites that list which licenses are compatible with other licenses. You should signpost your intention; people tend to get upset by license changes, even when you are switching to a less restrictive license.
  13. That was me in the post above. Got the password thing to work (greylisting on my mail server ate the first message).
  14. When working in a team on a large project, I tend to (and encourage my minions!) comment heavily - before I write any code at all. When mapping out an architecture, a series of comments in important methods map out at a very high level what that function will do when someone gets around to writing it. A stub then either returns a mock value (for use elsewhere during development), or throws a NotImplementedException. The great thing here is that when one of the team gets to actual implementation, the intent is obvious - and can be factored out into small methods easily. We often keep the original comments around, as well as using them as a skeleton for development. The downside of this is that sometimes a method will appear to have relatively redundant comments - beautifully written code that spells out in detail what the high-level description says. That's a bit of a waste of space, but it has turned out to have one really, really nice upside: when we are showing new programmers around the code-base, they can see how we progress from architecture, stubs and then specifics. (it's also nice to be able to open up the SVN history for a file, and see it progress from stub with comments to implementation - you can learn a lot from that!) Incidentally, I think I first came across this idea in Code Complete. Edited because I missed a sentence.
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    The Architecture of Virtual Cities

    This may be only semi-relevant, but this month's PC Gamer has an article about Lucas Arts' latest technical focus on simulating environments rather than building scripted facades. One of the things they demo/talk about is a physics system designed to handle proper collapse of buildings (they have gorgeous shots of a demo castle responding to rock impact, and some Indiana Jones examples). This could take the role of architecture to the next level, IMO: as well as an immersive facade, buildings have structural details that define how they respond to damage. There will still be a tendency to focus on dramatic effect (no real building would feature plenty of readily destroyable balconies, bridges and similar for safety reasons!), but if I'm reading the PC Gamer hype-machine properly then it will be necessary to worry about structural supports and similar. The first example I can think of this being tried was Red Faction, with its destructible everything system (that ended up toned down to uselessness due to the ease with which one could tunnel out of the level). If Lucas Arts are right, and games move towards more of a simulation, then it seems likely that game architects will study real-world architecture even more to provide buildings that behave as intended - even when hit by a rocket, and so on. Just my 0.02!
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