Doom 3 and modern gaming

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Was over Max’s house, and while he played online poker, I played Doom 3 on his brother’s insanely overpowered Alienware desktop machine. The game is extremely well-done, from graphics to gameplay, but I really have no patience for First Person Shooter games anymore… they get boring so unbelievably quickly, and I just don’t have the time anymore.

The only FPS that might, MIGHT draw some time out of me is Max Payne 2, which I’ve had sitting at home, unopened (except when I tested Cedega by installing it under Linux–it worked), for quite awhile.

Look at me, the old fart at 20, yearning for the days of good adventure games like Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, King’s Quest and Curse of Monkey Island… *sigh*

New Years Resolution

Friday, December 31st, 2004

To upgrade this website to Movable Type, among other things.

Last-minute hacking with my version of Metacity, and I finally got what I wanted. Basically, I was using xfwm4 for window management, and since it is NETWM compliant, I was supposed to notice no difference at all in GNOME. Except that’s not true, since xfwm4 doesn’t know about gnome-panel, and since a lot of useful hotkeys I want to use in gnome-panel are generally bound in metacity. Plus, the gnome theme manager doesn’t work without metacity. So, shame on GNOME developers, basically. You claim you are compliant, but you aren’t.

But then I did some reading and figured out metacity is actually a bit better than xfwm4 anyway, just that some of its features are hidden in gconf and other places. Also, someone has coded a neat app called devil’s pie which lets you manager your windows at a very fine-grained level, which I like… though it is a bit buggy right now, it shows promise.

So, the main thing I was annoyed by is vertical/horizontal maximize. xfwm4 has this working fine, and I’m quite used to it. Metacity doesn’t treat it as a “toggle,” so if you hit maximize vertical button twice, you just sit there with a maximized window… it doesn’t switch back and forth. I find this annoying since when I have vim windows open, sometimes to see more I just quickly maximize vertical rather than scrolling down, and then toggle it back afterwards.

Someone coded a patch to this. You can find it on bugzilla here at Bug #113601. Unfortunately, no one has written a “proper patch” that also works with session management and such, but I don’t really care, I wanted this patch to get back to work. So, in order to jive with my Ubuntu system, I created some debs with the patched version of metacity.

Finals: Phase I over

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

Only two more to go.

In other news, my Averatec laptop almost broke again today when I had it on my lap and it almost fell off. I caught it last-second, but this damn laptop is so small that sometimes I don’t even realize how close it is to being off the edge of my lap!

The thing has been working better and better. I got a program called fvcool which can send the Averatec into “low-power mode”, which means that the CPU gets sent HLT instructions and “powersave signals” on idle. The result is that it runs a lot cooler and saves more battery power, but at the expense of “real-time” apps like movie playing and even some MP3 playing, so you can’t have it on all the time.

The only bad thing about this laptop is sadly a trivial thing: the paint job. We all know laptops (except the TiBook/AlBook) are made of plastic under the shiny silver finish, but we wish that that silver finish would never come off. However, Averatec apparently used cheap paint, and so there are “palm prints” under where my palms have rested near the keyboard, as well as already a couple of spots (on the corners of my laptop) where the paint has rubbed off just from getting in contact with things. Kinda sad, because high-quality paint isn’t exactly expensive. Regardless, I’ll just have to paint it myself (or have M help me)… it might be a bit of an ordeal, but I think it’s possible to do. I’d just have to figure out a smart way to cover the LCD, keyboard and touch pad… maybe I can get M’s help when I come to that juncture.

Maybe I’ll switch this laptop’s color to something a little less “blah” than silver–a really shiny black would be awesome, I think.
In addition, I fixed some of my nasty X issues, so now my machine doesn’t hard lock ever. So that’s good too.

Now I gotta get studying for Basic Algorithms… fun fun.

Library, woe is me; at least vim has lots of plugins

Monday, December 6th, 2004

At the library for yet another full day, reading operating systems papers. This time, however, I kept getting really bored (can you blame me?), and I kept thinking about so many other things. They take so long to read, so much attention… I have so little to give. I don’t even have my laptop here, and I only spent the last 30 minutes on a computer.

This is my “break,” searching for vim plugins:

ZoomWin for maximizing a buffer temporarily, MiniBufferExplorer for switching buffers (Matt would probably like that one), Project Explorer for “favorite files”, ShowMarks for finding marks you set in a file, SearchComplete’s tab completion for searching (s/bla/bla2/g), cppcomplete for code completion (Matt says it rocks, like intellisense for C/C++/Java)…

I think I’ll actually install most of those (provided they work as advertised).

I think for C# programming all one needs to do is modify JavaBrowser and cppcomplete the recognize all of C#’s syntax, and we’d be all set C#-wise. Hell, maybe I’ll even do it next month.

Laptop returns, cpufreq actually works

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

My Dad’s really awesome sometimes. In a previous post, I talked about how my laptop’s screen cracked due to a friend’s drunken behavior. Well, my Dad did me a favor and swapped the old HD out of my broken laptop and put it into the new one I got. So now I’m running Linux as if nothing broke.

Here’s another crazy thing… I thought my laptop didn’t have cpu frequency scaling support, but I was actually wrong. It’s just that I didn’t have all the kernel modules I needed loaded. It turns out I can scale the CPU on this laptop from 400mhz up to its max of 1.7Ghz! This is awesome because power consumption goes way down, laptop stays cooler, etc.

Plus, someone wrote an excellent piece of software to do this scaling automatically depending on load and remaining battery power. Temperature readings still come in as 0 degrees celsius, but I decided temp readouts are unnecessary anyway. The BIOS does a good job managing the fan. Yay new laptop! Back to work on my paper.

On stupidity and drunken behavior

Friday, October 29th, 2004

So, night before last I came home and hung out with some friends. We were a bit drunk, my roommate and Sak were fooling around and Sak slipped and fell on my bed. Problem was, my laptop was right underneath him, and so the LCD screen cracked. Bad, bad situation. Turns out repairing it would be more $$$ than the amount I paid for it in the first place, so I’m not really sure what to do on that front.

It’s a shame… I really was getting used to that laptop. I mean, I’ll probably just re-purchase the same one, but I dunno what’s gonna happen exactly.

In other news, I was playing with Glade 3 earlier today and decided that it really needs some work done on it. I would love to hack that project a bit if I had time. I mean, if someone can produce something like Gambas for Linux, then some sort of RAD tool for GTK is possible. I know the two aren’t really comparable (Glade uses libglade to dynamically load the GUI from XML files, Gambas is a “better VB”, i.e. a full environment), and that a lot of developers scoff at RAD tools for GTK, but I don’t think properly designed RAD tools are about “dumbing down UI design.” I think they are really about making UIs easier to design quickly, so that you can spend more time on the code that does stuff.

Also, I was checking out Mainsoft, with their product MainWin for J2EE. Interesting approach. They take Microsoft IL code and compile it to Java Bytecode. This means that for now, while Microsoft doesn’t support platforms other than Windows for .NET, you can actually convert take a .NET project and make it run in the JVM. I wonder if it works…

The “Tyranny of Time”

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

I’ve been meaning to update that last post with more analysis of Bush’s speech, but the tyranny of time crept up upon me. So much work, so quickly!

In more fun news, two days ago I spent two hours in Union Square listening to various [somewhat deranged] speakers talk about “the police state” and how “communism is the solution.” It got me angry how little these speakers focused on (what I think are) the most important issues surrounding not just this election, but this country’s future: the continual rise in power of corporations.

Anyway, I eventually was given the megaphone (“Andrew, what has come over you?”) and gave my best impromptu speech on why corporate power is ruling this country, and more broadly, the world, and how distorted neoliberal (or libertarian) economic policy is, in terms of the current brand of pro-corporate globalization being a true “race to the bottom.”

Got quite a few cheers out of the crowd, which felt good. Not really good in the egocentric “I can rile up a crowd” sense. Good in the sense that some people actually care that corporations are, in many senses, running their lives.

Then I watched some Lou Dobbs last night that confirmed a lot of what I spoke about, at least confirmed it in my and Lou Dobbs’ world. But that’s good enough for me.

Good chair for bad back

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

I want it!

Check out this neat demonstration.

UPDATE: I received it, and it’s pretty sweet.

On keeping things

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2004

You know, my philosophy about buying things used to be, never buy high-end because you’ll always have to replace it/upgrade it within a few months. But now I’m starting to reject that whole idea entirely.

I mean, I’ve already posted on other sites about how new PDAs don’t impress me because I still use a Palm Vx and it does everything I need in a PDA, and then some. Everything I need. No, it doesn’t play seven or eight MP3s in its Flash memory. No, it doesn’t play video clips I record with the tiny video camera embedded in the back. No, it doesn’t connect to wireless internet access if hotspots are available.

Nope, all it does is keep track of my todo lists, download articles from AvantGo and download maps, directions and listings from Vindigo. I can also set reminders, create shopping lists, and play DopeWars. All in 8MB of RAM. Plus, it’s thin, it’s beautiful, and it’s made in the USA.

Now that computers keep getting faster and faster and most software is not proportionally taking advantage of it, I find it easier to say, “Okay, I’ll have this computer for a few years.” That’s a good thing. In retrospect, these last five years have moved so quickly that it really made us geeks spend a ton of cash. I mean, I’m on a 2.6Ghz machine with a gig of RAM. I never use more than 300MB of RAM unless I’m running VMWare (which I’ll admit, is often nowadays). My CPU never gets cranked unless I’m doing video processing. I mean, things aren’t as speedy as perhaps they should be (I/O being the bottleneck), but I haven’t felt my computer “lagging” in years.

As a side note to that, software needs to get smarter. At 2.6Ghz of raw power, my computer should be doing more for me automatically 🙂

Busy days

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Been working like crazy the last couple of days. Spending most of my time on the UAC project–coding all the great Java classes that will make the website run smoothly. Learning a lot more about MySQL (and Connector/J) in the meanwhile. In fact, yesterday in order to get up to speed I spent about two hours reading some relational database theory (stuff I had stupidly forgotten to review when I jumped into MySQL earlier this year, in a very practical way).

Yesterday, after finishing my Java work, I had the pleasure of setting up a Bugzilla for my brother’s web developers. I say pleasure because the Debian bugzilla package rocks and literally makes it an apt-get install bugzilla bugzilla-doc affair. From there I was able to customize it up the wazoo by editing /etc/bugzilla/localconfig and rerunning dpkg-reconfigure bugzilla. Ah, Debian. Makes things so easy.

Bugzilla is really nice when you play with it. I’ve been entering bug reports for my brother on and off as I browse his websites. 10 minutes ago I got bored so I added a bunch of Stephen Wright jokes to Bugzilla’s “quips” feature (displays a random quip on every bugzilla query). Hopefully that’ll keep my brother’s devs entertained as they try to face the growing steep of UI bugs and such.

Anyway, back to work. Just felt I was leaving this web page without love. More to come later, when I’m less under pressure.