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Shiny

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About Shiny

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  1. Shiny

    Detailed explanation of GDNet's downtime

    What an excellent reconstruction of what clearly, must have occurred. I think you should upgrade from garden-variety monkies to chimps -- perhaps they'd be less easily fooled by banana 'chips'.
  2. Shiny

    Procrastination? Never!

    I'm actually in the last year of undergrad -- that said, I am probably doing masters next year, so your comment still stands :S Still, even if I procrastinate, the work gets done! Eventually...
  3. Shiny

    Procrastination? Never!

    So, finally caught up on all the work that I let slide during the trip to Nationals. At the same time, I've been played 'Prey' on PC and find it an interesting bit of gaming. Especially interesting are the use they've made of the environments -- e.g., if you walk through a portal spawned by a badguy, you end up in an entirely different area of the map -- shoot a button-thing on the wall and the orientation of the world is flipped and you might find yourself standing on the ceiling with the whole game world seemingly turned upside down. The shooting of beasties and puzzle solving gets a little tedious after a while -- and I will admit, I do wonder who started the implementations of portals where you can see the destination through the portal itself first -- Humanhead or Valve? Check out the video of Valve's upcoming title Portal that is going to ship with HL2 Episode 2 right here Either way, Prey is definitely worth a look, if only to see what 3D Realms puts all their money into :P On the university side of things, I've been attempting to simulate 3D using the ancient Apple Quickdraw library -- with varying degrees of success. Thankfully that stuff is out of the way, right now I'm -meant- to be working on some subdivision stuff -- namely octree implementation for OpenGL -- this I expect to be significantly more interesting than Quickdraw ! I've also drawn the short straw for my International Security class -- I have to write a ministerial submission regarding an issue of Australian National Security. The writing of which I anticipate won't take -too- long, but choosing a significant subject is proving to be difficult :/ Otherwise, I just noticed the C++ Workshop Project that Master Walsh has posted and I thought I might crank out of a bit of an implementation of the spec -- a console based game is still 100% more interesting than essay-writing and figuring out just exactly how CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) cellphones work (which is something I'm meant to be doing for Mobile and Ubiquitous computing) -- yay for rotating Walsh codes. Wow, somebody actually managed to read this far without falling asleep? Woohoo! More updates soon, I really need to manage my time better :) ~Shiny
  4. Shiny

    Winner! Well, nearly...

    Been a while since I put thought to datastream, so here we go. What's been going on? Well, just got back from the Australian National Titles of Laser tag. Yes -- sport of nerds! Was good fun, and our teams came 2nd and 5th in the country (Hobart teams this is...). In addition to that, two guys from here won the pairs competition so all in all -- Tasmania came out fairly well considering we're such a small contender (one laser tag site at all if you disregard the outdoor stuff...). As for the trip -- fun was had by all. Too much drinking, not enough sleep and my knees are still smarting from the pounding they took going up and down the ramps in the Campbelltown maze. That said, it was nice to go inter-state and get away from the usual study rigmarole -- though I must admit that I'm finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. Right now, I should really be writing a small Mac application using the Quickdraw library (very similar to GDI in windows...) demonstrating DDA and Bresenham slope approximation algorithms (say, drawing line segments pixel by pixel)...however, I'm not all that enthusiastic. I think I mentioned before that I was working on a terrain renderer -- well, the base code for that is all done -- I think it's solid enough, though I'm working on making it cross platform right now (so, OpenGL FTW). I read the Parallax Occlusion mapping article on the front page a while back (after having seen it in the Direct3D samples) and I'm thinking about making a sample implementation in GLSL. This should be interesting because I've never -used- GLSL before -- only HLSL, though I think it will be fun to play with (and get working on the Mac even...). Still, reference implementation should be forthcoming in a couple weeks (gotta catch up on the two weeks of classes I missed while I was away pwning n008s) and while I'm sure no one really reads this stuff, I'll keep the internet posted. ~Shiny, out.
  5. Shiny

    Winners! Well, nearly...

    Been a while since I put thought to datastream, so here we go. What's been going on? Well, just got back from the Australian National Titles of Laser tag. Yes -- sport of nerds! Was good fun, and our teams came 2nd and 5th in the country (Hobart teams this is...). In addition to that, two guys from here won the pairs competition so all in all -- Tasmania came out fairly well considering we're such a small contender (one laser tag site at all if you disregard the outdoor stuff...). As for the trip -- fun was had by all. Too much drinking, not enough sleep and my knees are still smarting from the pounding they took going up and down the ramps in the Campbelltown maze. That said, it was nice to go inter-state and get away from the usual study rigmarole -- though I must admit that I'm finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. Right now, I should really be writing a small Mac application using the Quickdraw library (very similar to GDI in windows...) demonstrating DDA and Bresenham slope approximation algorithms (say, drawing line segments pixel by pixel)...however, I'm not all that enthusiastic. I think I mentioned before that I was working on a terrain renderer -- well, the base code for that is all done -- I think it's solid enough, though I'm working on making it cross platform right now (so, OpenGL FTW). I read the Parallax Occlusion mapping article on the front page a while back (after having seen it in the Direct3D samples) and I'm thinking about making a sample implementation in GLSL. This should be interesting because I've never -used- GLSL before -- only HLSL, though I think it will be fun to play with (and get working on the Mac even...). Still, reference implementation should be forthcoming in a couple weeks (gotta catch up on the two weeks of classes I missed while I was away pwning n008s) and while I'm sure no one really reads this stuff, I'll keep the internet posted. ~Shiny, out.
  6. Shiny

    Fast internet & new Monitor.

    It's been a while since I posted my introductory post and I thought I should make a note of what I am up to presently and what's been going on (if only for prosperity, given that it is entirely plausible that no one will bother reading this entire post). So, what has been happening? Well, I signed up with a local ISP yesterday for one of their 24/1MBit plans which coincidentally happens to be the only available plan of that speed range in our locale. Closest speed is 1.5Mbit which given the comparison is undeniably slow (though not as slow as some connections...)! Of course, why do I need 24MBit? Well, I don't really - but having had nothing other than Dialup internet my entire life, I figured if I only have to pay an additional 20 bucks a month, why not? The provider implies that I'll be up and running within 5-10 business days, though there's always the chance it might take longer. I'm not worried though, if it takes 11, or even -12- days at least it will get done. Speaking of payments though, I did invest in a LCD monitor last week. This was pure indulgence, though I would argue that it was in my best interests given my terrible eyesight. The monitor in question is a Samsung SyncMaster 730BF - for anyone who cares, here are the specs on the Samsung website (Clicky). Since this is a journal and not, therefore, a column which requires strict objectivity when critiquing devices, I'm going to make a summary on what I discovered while in the market for an LCD. First of all. Size Just exactly how much desktop is too much for development? I've read a few posts lately concerning dual monitor setups etc, but if you're like me - your desk space is at a premium and so you have to make some choices about primary monitor size. I settled for a 17" display, for a couple of reasons. Maximum Resolution. - 1280 x 1024. Refresh rate. The other option (in my budget range anyway) was a 19 inch display - which, confusingly enough has the native resolution (in what seemed to be most cases) of 1280 x 1024. Now, in the olden days people would have said 'wow, that's great - go for it!'. But these are not the olden days. All but the poorest 17" screens appear to do 1280 x 1024 by default and in the case of the Samsung I purchased its emulation of lower resolutions is fairly acceptable. So, the question is - why are many of the larger displays hobbled to such a low resolution? Obviously, the answer is multi-faceted. Perhaps it is cheaper to manufacture them that way, maybe manufacturers expect people have horrible graphics adapters and hence their systems would be incapable of sustaining say: 1600 x 1200? Either way, what I saw didn't convince me that 19" was the way. The only substantial argument you could make would be that it is easier to read text on the larger size - or perhaps that watching movies is more pleasurable on a larger screen. The latter argument doesn't carry any weight with me - I have a DVD player and TV for movies - the only shows I ever watched on the monitor were ones where the regular DVD player for some reason hated a particular disc and hence the DVD-ROM drive was the only answer for playability. Cost Does anyone else feel that prices in Australia are artificially inflated when it comes to technology? Whenever you have to cart tech over an ocean, you're looking at an increased cost - but when the same monitor (as an example) costs significantly less in the States after conversion to Australian currency than it would if you bought it locally, you gotta ask the question 'to whom is the extra money going??'. Especially in the case when said monitor is manufactured in say, Taiwan - which as far as I know, is no farther from Australia than it is from the USA! Still, apart from that digression, I decided to settled for a sub-$400 monitor - a year ago, I'd end up with a horrible 15". Now, it's quite possible you can buy an 8ms 19" from BENQ, LG or Viewsonic for beneath that price. In each of those cases however, I discovered something that made me think twice: dot pitch (size of individual pixels). Something that CRTs have been great at for a long while seems to be varied depending on whose LCD you look at. Take the BENQ for example. The 19" has the same dot pitch as my 17" Samsung. Sharpness of picture it has, but it looks quite grainy still. Worse, the Viewsonic 19" has a much larger dot pitch - resulting in such a granularity that it is quite unpleasant to look at. So what to do? Find another variable to compare things by! Contrast ratio This one seemed the least important when I first set out to get a monitor...but after some research, it turned out to be a key issue. For anyone who doesn't know what this is (probably lots of folks), Contrast ratio is a property of a device that dictates a ratio of the luminosity of the brightest and darkest colours that a device can display respectively(Check out the wiki entry here). This means in laypeople's terms - how black is the black, how bright is the white...etc. In the case of LCD, higher is usually better (but note, not always as the rating manufacturers give is not always indicative of actual performance) - the Samsung I bought has a contrast ratio of 600:1, which while pretty good - isn't the best (I saw some monitors, usually for high price with ratings of 1000:1). That said, playing a game like Doom 3 - the black looks pretty damn black. Meaning that either my eye isn't capable of noticing the difference between this and my old 19" CRT, or that I just don't know how to test it correctly. Either way, testing a DVD on here (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring) worked like a charm - I didn't notice any tearing or ghosting - both undesirable effects that people associate with LCDs. For most 19" systems I looked at, they had either quite high contrast ratio - like the Viewsonic - 800:1. Or quite low...like the BENQ at 550:1. I found that the best way to decide on what works better is to actually try out the monitors in question - as no amount of reviews can tell you what it will look like when you plug it in...if you haven't seen it run ? Response time: The final of the things I paid a bit of attention to when looking up this stuff. Usually measured in milliseconds, response time is an indicator of how long it takes the crystals in the display to return to their natural state from being wound up into displaying something on the screen. This is important for some people because they might want to display fast moving stuff on the screen (like a game, or a movie). In my case, it was games - with a low response time, you get 'ghosting' where objects have noticeable 'ghosts' trailing after them as they move around the screen. Worse than ghosting in my opinion is tearing - where the screen can't keep up with the speed it is meant to be displaying...and the image appears to tear up where colour transitions were apparently intense - looks kinda like a DVD that has got scratches...nasty artifacts. For most 19" screens I saw locally - they were running 8MS response times. Which is (reputedly) very good. Or should I say - acceptable for gaming and movie watching. I decided to go a bit faster - the Samsung boasts a 4MS response time, and while it appears to be great at things like Battlefield 2 - or Doom3/Quake 4, on my favourite game (Natural Selection, free Half Life 1 Mod - check it out here -- requires steam) - which runs considerably faster than aforementioned titles - there is some ghosting. However! It is hardly noticeable, just something I put down to the game wanting to run at 200+ frames per second and the display having to downsample in order to keep up ? So, to conclude on the investigation - bigger is better, I suppose - but in my case, quality 17" beat out mid-range 19" monitors any day of the week. And for anyone considering buying an LCD...be sure you see the thing running before making a decision - salespeople have any easy time of talking up good specs...but it seems that specs are subjective in some circumstances, this being one of them.
  7. Shiny

    More sneak preview

    Quote:Original post by johnhattan ...this is clearly a post-op. breathe, must breathe...stop laughing...I don't know why, but I found that distinctly amusing :D ~Shiny.
  8. Figured I'd explain who I am, what I do and where I live. Firstly, who am I? Well, I'm a 23 year old undergrad student taking a joint Computer Science/International Relations degree. Why such an odd mixture? To be honest, I have trouble answering that question. It seemed like such an interesting melange at the time, but in retrospect I think I would have been more happy doing another science (math, physics maybe). That's not to say that IR is not a science: don't want to offend anyone ;) But there is always the fact that given an event E and say, three schools of thought X, Y, & Z - X, Y or Z can explain matters using their own paradigms and without referring to the other schools at all. I suppose this bothers me: if only because I like facts and factual knowledge - the idea that we should revel in our ignorance because it means we are on the path to (eventual) enlightenment just doesn't sit well. However, as to the other half of the degree, Computer Science - so, hence the Axiomatic reasoning and so forth. I love to program: let's get that on the page for the record. That said, I will admit that I have a bad habit of thinking of a great idea (obviously the greatness of the idea is subjective) -- figuring out how it would work and finally implementing it to the point that I am satisfied that my hypothesis was sound and then leaving it. Hence, unfinished projects :( Still, you could argue that this is because hobby projects don't -really- have any incentive behind them. It's much easier to get something completed when you know other people want to see it. Still, I'm in what may be the final year of undergrad for the joint degree, though I have been offered the opportunity to do honours work for another year. This is something I have a hard time deciding; while I don't really feel the press of age, I do notice the void in my pocketbook and after having lived for four years with 'just enough to get by', it becomes a little...draining, to use a local term. By now, some observant people have noticed that I tend to put 'u's in words where US citizens would tend not to - this is explained easily in my profile...yes, I am Australian - not a Brit. An obligatory G'day is probably warranted here, and yes - I do use that term day-to-day (though not intentionally :S). So, G'day to all the other aussies hanging around the site! So, where in Australia? Hobart, Tasmania to be precise - you can see more of our tiny state here if you like. It's the middle of winter here right now - and while I like the cold, it'd be nice to see the sun sometime soon. *looks out the window at a gloomy grey sky*. It is, however - not so bad as London. Having visited the 'Old Country' before (during winter), I can safely say that Tasmania (or Tassie, as locals call it) is nowhere near as cold and nasty ;) Other more (or less) interesting information about me: I work at a laser-tag spot called 'Zone3' - in relation to this, I play for the state laser-tag team and we are heading to Nationals in Campbelltown NSW (outside of Sydney) in late July. Before I get the usual, here's a FAQ: Yes, it is a sport, yes lots of nerds play it, but you'd be surprised how competitive it gets. Interestingly, there's also an international competition - though Australia doesn't compete in it, there's just something about lasertag that sponsors don't like :P Finally, to wrap up, I'll let you see something I worked on before - I apologise for the horrible website - it was a hack job created in photoshop (though not by me, CSS Zengarden all the way!) and may break if you use something other than IE or Firefox. Site in question: RBuilder For those who can't be bothered/don't have time to look, a summary: Distributed build system using C# (1.1, 2.0 was in beta during development) and C++. This was (meant) to be a final year project. Obviously, I wasn't in final year because I'm still stuck in undergrad (degree schedule and all), but effectively - the University asks the local IT businesses if they need something done...and my team (five people) ended up drawing the straw labeled 'Distributed C++ compilation system'. For the skeptics or people who think such a thing is not worthwhile, I refer you to previously successful projects on *nix systems such as distcc, or for Visual studio people: Incredibuild Difference between these things? Well, architecture, platform (Incredibuild allows remote build of Xbox 360 XDK stuff and full support for Visual Studio 2005). So, I'm guessing the question on everyone's lips is 'Why are you reinventing the wheel?'. Well, it's not quite so simple. The client wanted a distributed system for Borland CBuilder. Hence, existing tools were inadequate. We went off, did the work and now the client has an in-house tool that can approximate the performance of Incredibuild for Borland. The coolest thing about the system is that the back end is customizable - hence, any language that has an intermediate stage (i.e., like an OBJ file) can be compiled - using any compiler/linker combo. Hence, Rbuilder works with VC++ -- we just tailored it for Borland :) What did we get out of the job? Hm, personally I would say - experience, other than that, nothing ;P Couple of the team members are still working on the thing in house for the client but I've handed over maintenance to them. As may be obvious by now, the IP for the job doesn't belong to the dev team anymore, so no releasing this publically I guess. So, hopefully that gives people a bit of an insight into who I am and what I do. ~Akram Hameed, aka Shiny. NOTE: the RBuilder website implies that the Rbuilder system is not complete -- this isn't the case (lack of website update) -- we delivered the product (and IP) after (roughly) 4.5 months of hard work.
  9. Shiny

    Finals and Finalisers...

    Heh, I suppose I should give a more lengthy introduction. Feels odd to have a public journal -- but I guess if people want to spend their time reading it, I ought to put something worth reading! ~Shiny.
  10. Shiny

    Finals and Finalisers...

    Feeling somewhat elated of the moment, just got done with my last final before semester break. Feels good to be free for two weeks -- now maybe I can focus on some -interesting- work (terrain renderer)! For anyone curious, exam in question was one on Software systems -- two related subjects squished into one -- so, Axiomatic reasoning (which is moderately interesting while being wholly tedious) and Concurrency issues in Java. Related? Well, prove why your concurrent Java program will perform as expected and terminate mathematically -- Given precondition P and statements [S1 || ... ||Sn] write a proof to guarantee termination and post-condition Q. Not so exciting for non-programmers I'm guessing. Either way, wasn't as difficult as I was expecting, and now -- freedom!
  11. Shiny

    Testing journal

    Well thankee! On both counts ;) ~Shiny.
  12. Shiny

    Testing journal

    Every great journey commences with some kind of introduction: this one is to test the journal system. More coming soon.
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