9.30.2010

Life

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Hey! Um, yeah. Life's still going on and so. Got it, fail happens to everyone. So I started thinking in programmer terms again and already planned out how to bring my engine to work again. A lot of rewriting with the new toolkit, some new and primitive classes to keep code maintable and some more motivating architectures. I will again not mention anything about what is good and not, but only what's an obvious flaw and should be corrected or is just too useful/convenient to ignore. Seems that hacking through Java's relatively strong concepts brought gave me some more reasons to think about special and general purpose classes again. I still suffer from ego injury, but it is getting better. To loosen the critic I wrote before - the stuff in the exam wasn't impossible to solve with more preparations. Limit calculation, differentiation of all possible functions, convergence of series... It rather difficult stuff. Not so difficult to grasp (I did it anyway) but hard to master. And this is where his "fault" kicks in. Never in the whole semester I thought of how hard he would make the exam. It was possible to solve of course - but not with the impression he gave all the time. I wish I could've had more time before. You can't just really on what a lecturer does and that's what I learned today. In normal everyday school live you learn to cope with teachers wanting exactly this one way to solve a problem from you. But you face totally different problems, most related to the golden balance between invested time and difficulty. That's the problem with a bachelor degree in Germany - they have to put in all the stuff they once had in a much longer period with less stress and better learning curve.

Atleast I know more than before. I know the theory and how to apply it on standard formulas. Now it's time to master it - if I need it or not.

However, I started some kind of speedrun project for Metro 2033 with a guy on forum.speeddemosarchive.com. He already did his own run before which I wont be able to see unless there are enough verifyers, probably including me. It's quite a trial-and-error concept one need to save time in this game. Creativity in getting around the developer's very clean and well though-out level limitations. A huge amount of scripting, never seen intractable stuff like that in a game before. What's possible is to save time in the free-roaming areas and the not-so trigger-controlled levels where you just need to get to a specific gate on the map. And for certain levels is definitely good to play on hardcore, since this mode dramatically increases efficiency for all weapons.

9.28.2010

It's OVER

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Math is over. No more math exams from now, atleast for one semester... I can't believe that this dickface is actually trying to ruin a students life. Sometimes I wish witch burning back for certain persons. There's a 33% chance that I could get through - although I truly believe that it won't work. I'd be glad to not cross the path of limits and eigenwerten again. A true waste of time. Oh man, I would totally punch his face if I only could. I tend to be a peace-loving person, but some people just don't deserve... stuff. Like students learning for their life or lecturers shooting them with their anger.

God, what a dickheaded dickface.

9.26.2010

Workspace II

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It took me some time to realize how my brain works when beeing in a "user mode". Toying 'round with GNOME for so long, I didn't thought about even changing one tad of it's default panel and icon arrangement. And as I did with all other applications under Linux which's use I was aiming for, it was time to give it a try. My new desktop looks quite different from every other one I used so far. All iconified menus, applications launcher and shrinked status informations like current speed, CPU/net/harddrive performance, weather, systray, time etc are visible at the lower part. What I hate most when writing or editing stuff in a program is looking at a taskbar with only the name of the program I'm working with. I usually look at the lower parts of the screen when using a laptop. So having some friendly and colorful icons mixed with vital informations is a breeze to look at. I rarely switch windows cause most applications I use are multifunctional and tab based. If not, I usually just move and select windows by hand, not with a taskbar. But sometimes I want a clutterless taskbar for maximum navigation power, so I only need to look at  the top of my laptop and I only see the stuff that is useful for window management. I'f I get tired of it, I can still switch their position and have an almost normal GNOME desktop! It's essentially not a big deal, but functionally and psychologically, it is.

9.25.2010

Good feeling

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It's good to know that friends come back eventually. I can't express how good it feels to hear the old song again.

TIGSource

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I haven't visited TIGSource for a while since Big Jam, except recently for hiding Email and IM-Messenger IDs. Some minutes ago I thought why not to take a quick look without logging - maybe it changed a bit to be worth reading it again. But well, nothing changed. TIGS is still a place of boring pretentionados using all their ever-same way to stray informations flat in their networks. Honestly, and even more if I think about how ugly everything felt during both Big Jams, this place isn't anymore one I want return to. I can't stand looking at it, it's so far away from even beeing in the outer areas of my tolerance. That's a combination of several factors, one beeing the heavy use of so called "memes" and all the other stupid internet stuff broadcasted by exactly the one kind of human I utterly avoid everytime I see them in realworld encounters. And I don't really care about that worshipped "indie" element in their internet culture. It's the same as to pretend beeing so alternative cause one's listening to bands nobody except oneself knows. As useless as buying super-expensive branded clothes to impress or whatever shitty use it has to make yourself a fashion victim. A completely waste of time that can be spend otherwise. I see no worth in it, as I do in such hubs in general. Just another another reason to live on a lone mountain.

Quite like

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I quite like the new design - functional, compact and with a certain style.

Merge

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The third semester is coming closer, and with it also the circumstance of having to with my laptop a little bit more. And most of the time I'm working with my laptop is filled with speedruns and code editors. I must admit, I didn't really program anything lately since the Big Jam desaster. I only reworked what had to be reworked and everything else was left behind. And the more I think about it, it's time to "re-unite" all the small programs that were once a single project - my orthogonal ASCII raytracer. I only worked toward it and most stuff not connected to this big goal was more or less soon left behind or frozen. And as I now think about it, it became clear to me that it is a pain to organize so many small "projects". In fact, I build them with a clear vision of data management in mind, more like a set of ideologies and not like seperate projects. So in order to revive my still completely unmaintained renderer, I need to put everything together in one big structure. It's time to give it an objective and an identity. Forming new projects from old, well-thought but abandoned, sources does always give me new energy. After I passed the second turn of my previously flunked math exam, I will give a shape and name. No boring like insert-name-here library or fancy-abbreviation toolkit. No. It deservers a name as a system, as a standard to work with. It forms every code I design and write, it IS a de facto standard for me. Seeing it as a library come close to an insult for it. It's rathera law to me. Ok, that was enough motivational bring-brang-brung-put-together. Today is a day of practising the thruth behind maths: trial and error.

9.24.2010

New design/template

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Didn't notice how many new templates there were compared to the last time I visited my blog's design settings. So yeah, it's currently a bit small and minimal. But well, why don't just try out some new things before I'm not in the mood anymore..

Emotionally stuck

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Thinking about so many potentially functional designs if it weren't LEGO, I got some nice inspiration for my game. I guess every player will hate me for making reloading and magazine management so explicit.

Life signs

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It took me quite some time to actually write something in here. Once a semester I install Diablo II and play it just to have some kind of short-living "addiction", which works well as some kind of "buffer" when learning head-intensive stuff like math and so on (mostly cause D2 does require a very very very little amount of brain to play). So I was literally drown in Items and Runes to no end when I realized how annoyingly long it takes to get some cool gear with automic fire emitting, shock burst were go etc. So I'm effectively back from my addiction, having D2 uninstalled. And since I'm almost done with all math learning (rest is just practising and coping with mean tricks my lecturer may have implemented. So I'm free to do some other things now.

First of all, I decided to reveal the current look of the model I'm working on. I could've done this weeks before, but I always I could just make a hammer and a grip and everythings fine. That's not the case. And posting what you're working on, really frees the mind for some smaller "revolutions" in design and new solutions where previous approaches didn't work. As I'm talking about hammers all the time, I did just no realize that the problem of my hammer is not how is it locked and released (making a trigger in an effectively three-bricks-wide grip isn't as easy as in a five-bricks-wide one...) but rather if it's a hammer itself (rotating and then hammering on the needle) or stabbing (using a hammer-replacing "stabber" to thrust horizontally against the needle) or just a bolt-action typical built-in needle completely without hammer.

I liked the idea of an external hammer getting cocked by ejecting the cartridge, but I'm having serious problems to implement it. Mostly cause I can't imagine a way to get a stable rotating hammer in this tiny scale that's also able to thrust powerful (which means a lot of spring/rubber power) and works with a bolt moving above, behind and in front of it. Ridiculous! I just don't have enough room or tiny parts. Connectors are massive, other parts even more, and worst of all for such a construction is that I can only guerantee stability with enough horizontally and vertically inserted connectors. And then there's also the question to take a cross or a circle connector and so on... Just too much that doesn't work right with it.

Furthermore, every other concept I envisioned for this model today (most of them also with a magazine in mind) will fail due the cartridge's rectangular size. I realized that most modern firearms only work how they work because they make use of cartridges with tapered top and special areas with different angles in front/behind or in the chamber to guide carridges correctly so they definitely end up in the chamber with whatever angle they came out of the magazine. That's a huge advantage and simplifies a lot of magazine-based gun designs. I envy gun smiths for their possibility to form all shapes they want or need. Not so with LEGO... I hate it. You got a great idea and everything keeping you away from creating it is the material you're working with. I'm almost tempted to begin with real-world material cause I can use whatever shape I want. Or I could just use "trash" left over from other stuff and try to get it working. It wouldn't be LEGO anymore. That's sad. However, I'm frustrated how disappointing LEGO can be. I won't use normal LEGOs, cause they just don't deliver the features LEGO Technic offers me. AAAAAHHHHHHHHH.

Ok, I'm fine. Everything's ok. Don't waste your frustration this way! Well, I'll just continue with a modificated version of my current system. One shot, no magazine, no hammer but a very basic bolt-action firing system. If I think about, I just want to finish it. It took me so long to start work on it again and then my idea turned to some kind of vaporware. It's always like that. Experience is everything. And time, too.

Stuff is driving me depressive. Why do I all my LEGO projects turn out to be so limited due to LEGO itself...

9.21.2010

More Metro stuff

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So this game seems to be my current obsession as it seems. I liked the ideas and the general feeling, but I often felt like something was wrong - especially with the enemies ability to survive many, many shots instead of the usual few. It just felt wrong, everything was so well-thought out (except some weapon designs, hehe) but what I was doing all the time was either trying to find the most powerful weapon in the given situation and to save military-grade ammo to buy better weapons. This way, it only made fun for the first time.

And suddenly steam updated it and there were some new difficulty modes. I already played without crosshair from the beginning and so I didn't really see a difference in the newly added "Ranger Easy" mode - felt exactly like before. So I just tried out the next difficulty - "Ranger Hardcore". And mama-mia, suddenly there was the original Metro game I read a long while ago. As far as I can remember, they wanted to hide every kind of HUD element to have no guess how much ammo or many filters/medkits are left. So Ranger Hardcore is what's sticking all elements together. No HUD except when looking at your wrist watch and higher damage to all entities in the game makes it exactly what you've expected after reading some early reviews. It doesn't take a million shots to bring down enemies, first hit finally pays off and you learn how useful all these selfmade guns with low-capacity magazine are. It's the only game I played so far which does it right. Many concepts in my ASCII game design base on such elements - no HUD, manual bullet management and much more ideas. This game mode shows me again how cool it is to play such a game. Sometimes I think I'm just copying how you load and operate guns in reallife, but maybe it's just me forgetting how I like good survival-oriented games. They are very rare, but Metro 2033 does it right. Or atleast it's a beginning to make commercial games more interesting to people like who love more complex gunning action and all the non-shooting gun stuff, too.

Yeah, maybe I just develop some kind of video game fetishism for all possible gun-related objects, not just the shooting itself (which also deserves a general overhaul, usage-wise). I wish a game with gun-related elements that's not just a kill fest, but also uses guns to solve puzzles and other not fighting-related problems.

That'd be a better game I think. Come on devs, we're in the world of video games! Why don't we just show off how creative one can go by just changing the usual usage of objects? Can't be wrong to do something actually different with them.

9.20.2010

Metro 2033's Bastard gun

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I like the Metro 2033 game, especially cause it gives you some really interesting things to with, like selfmade guns and manual actions like putting on gas masks, pumping your flashlight charger etc. Two gun you'll see most of the time in the game is the so called "Bastard", a weird kind of gun that just seems to be the right kind of post-apocalyptic weirdo shooting device you could need down there. Well, at first I thought it's the perfect realization of a design I had in mind and already tested before - a gun with sideward magazine sliding completely through the loading slot/chamber til it's empty. But there are some things catapulting the bastard right back to where it came from - a game designer's concept book. The main point I have to beef about is that the gun can't practically work due it's bullet arrangement in the magazine. Think about it - there are two "rows" of bullets, which is typically seen in assault rifle magazines to save space. In reallife it works in a way that at first a bullet from one row gets chambered and after firing one from the other. This way you can pack some more cartridges into magazine with relatively shorter height but more width. The bastard gun - well - does it similar, but completely without a spring to force a cartridge either from one row or the other out of the cartridge end. Instead, it's just a case to place them in two rows. When loading the gun you just stick it through the loading slot and each shot fires a bullet and moves the magazine further through the slot and putting out the empty parts of the case more and more as you fire bullets from the cartridges. Empty bullets get ejected at the back of the gun. First thoughts made me think that this gun would be impossible due to the fire pin position. Well, you need a pin in fixed position with moving magazine (due to the two rows) or a moving pin depending on the current row, or multiple pins and multiple barrel - for each row one. The last one doesn't apply here - only one barrel. So, looking at how it operates, you can only see how the loading slot/chamber moves depending on which row it is. The whole loading slot moves up and down while shooting, so it's definitely a moving magazine. Such a construction needs a lot of fine tuning or special parts you won't get down in a post-apocalyptic russian metro system. I can understand how the designers tried to make a crude design made out of garbage, but this time I think they took away too crude. It would a very complicated model to manufacture with much more special parts than a conventional firearm. In the game they tell you that most weapons come from the "Armory", a place with firearm manufacturers who previously ran a factory on the surface before the bombs dropped. So what is easier - taking existing spare parts and building stuff like the iconic revolver shotgun and assault rifles or designing something completely new requiring even more parts to manufacture? Even if it'd be easier to produce it, I doubt there'd be an actually working mechanism to make the whole loading slot moving/rotating up and down without making the magazine instable. The idea is great as a video game gun (you can easily see how much ammo you've left) but I doubt there's a way to get it working as seen in the game. With some way to move the magazine from left to right, some grooves on the magazine case, it surely could work - but not how it currently looks. Maybe it uses the cartridges as some kind of rack? Probably not, that'd require a gear in special format and a more complex and fine work. That from a gun everybody has access to in a world of extremely limited ressources? Naaa, but still awesome as concept.

I'm tempted to try to build my own one using LEGO - with some design changes to fit the recoilless cartridge I use. Not sure about the automatic fire, but I already have a concept in mind with a bigger setup of springs and cylindric parts. Watching how the firing looks in the game itself, tey just magically move the magazine up and down with visible element component necessary to archieve such a move in position. Well, I already tested the concept of a sliding magazine, but it required lots of lots of parts and mechanics to keep it stable. And as long as I have other concepts to explore, I don't see a reason the make this crude concept real. Let's leave where it belongs to - concepts of game designers.

9.19.2010

Waffentechnisches Handbuch by Rheinmetall

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Howstuffworks inspired to find a book about guns and all kinds of shooting in weapons in general. And while browsing the webs for it, I found the "Waffentechnisches Handbuch" written by Rheinmetall, the most complete book about guns, their construction and the physics behind them in general. Seriously, this book is be a must-have for everyone interested in gun technology. Unfortunately, there only a very low number of books available, since the craft of gun making is rare in countries with strictly controlled weapon laws. I can only be found in older version from 1973 and with somewhat heavy prices from 85 to 165 Euros. There are also newer version, though I really don't how to get them. I found an ebay auction running right now, maybe I can persuade my sister to use their ebay account for me this time. It's current price is 1 Euro! I hope nobody is searching for it except me and I can get it... The alternative would be to try to get it via it's ISBN number. I'm 100% sure I won't get it anymore - 15 years old (1995) and plenty time to buy it without leaving any book left in 2010... Let's see if I can get one. I need this book!

How stuff works

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There's a cool site, made by Discovery that shows in detail "how stuff works", including many kinds of firearms. Take a look at it here. It's a good compendium of knowledge, taking advantage from web technology to show them in motion. What I didn't like on normal sites explaining firearms - though it's important whan actually using firearms - is that they talk so much about safety and all the boring stuff. Howstuffworks does really focus on how it works. That's a good thing if you just want to know how it works. Firearms are only a fraction of the knowledge covered there. It always useful to keep this site in mind or bookmarked - especially if you want to build something.
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I wonder why I do always fall in love and fascination with projects gone nirvana. Sonic Xtreme or the old Stalker game for example. There are some more, but I often forget them until I find some pictures of them in my screenshot folder or read about it. I think it's because they often deliver to much dreamwork in it and suffer from some significant problems. Problem of all kinds and not just technological or bug-related. It gives them a special aura of myth and dreaming - something that most actual productions can't deliver, except they are very, very well-developed in all aspects. The games I keep deep down in my heart, the ones that really gave me visions and inspiration: creativity, mania and love - these became what the failed projects could become. A true milestone. A source of energy, more than multivibrant compared to other beeings not even able to even reach the dimensions in where those virtually fleshed dreams climbed from their very beginning.

Ok, enough with this Zen shit and back to work, morons.

9.18.2010

Sonic Xtreme

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Somic Xtreme is a sad tail of many things going wrong and many people believing in different goals. There are so many different parts in the story, making a big drama. I feel sad for reading it, though it was obvious that the initial idea of two seperated game modes, combined to one game, was a wrong step in the beginning.

As sad as the whole tale is, it's even more sad that I've never a game using this kind of fish-eye lense. Personally, I'd love to play a game in this kind of perspective. It's completely refreshing and offers the possibilities to show and hide map contents immediately based on the level design. I'm amazed by this spherical mode. I can only guess how it works in detail by looking at leaked game or editor screenshots. Seems to be some kind of threedimensional grid converted to 3D using the fisheye calculation and then rendered normally. And looking at this video I watched several times, I'd say at position 2:15 you can get a good shot at how the camera renders the tiles. It's not a pretty shot, but shows off how effective it can handle even tiles with relatively big distances from the camera. I'd give my left arm for talking or with this developer. And this video makes me quite about the seperation between conventional, hardware-accelerated 3D and software-based fisheye coordinate transformation. You can pretty often see how the distance clipping is done on a per-tile distance level independent from the fish-eye effect. So he must have checked visibility only by looking at it's tiles. And in the first video (at 2:15 again) you can also see edges on the tiled walls, indicating that they are rendered as normal polygons, not completely round fisheye-translated objects. I haven't yet seen a full rotation of the sphere with repeating map data, so I'm 100% sure it worked this way. Even repeating maps are possible when including such stuff in the renderer. This'd be only a minor tweak in the system as far as I can guess.

Quite clever. You don't need to make any complicated 3D-space distance calculation, just basic onedimensional plus/minus formulas. And knowing how much the hardward can handle/how many tiles could be one the screen, this makes a formidable technical archievement.

And yes, of course could you say it must be a conversation to normal 3D. How else could a simple polygon-based graphics card handle all this stuff without more advanced models like shaders. A shame the two responsible developers could never make a real game out of it. You should totally read the Wikipedia article linked in the first sentence. It gives some very intense view into how bad development diversion can go.

Edit Nr. 1: There's a FAQ by one of the developers. It could give me some insight and what they all talk about the editor, but not the engine. Well, I'll take a look and make another post if there's something worthwhile I can get out of it.

Edit Nr.2: The FAQ doesn't tell me anything about the engine background but about the other, non-programming details. But it seems that the editor was kinda the complete game editor. Including sound effects, enemy movement, level data of course, and so on. So yeah, he did all the hard work. And again, it's a shame I can't learn more about it. I don't want any of the resulting works, just more information. The features mentioned are more than just feature. It's some kind of totally new game concept you can develop with it - no doubt that it would've taken a while or two more to produce something final with it.

Why do corporations and alike often bounce so awesome concepts? In this case, Sega had some serious business problems, of course. Excluding this fact rather leads to confusion and not even excuse. I'm kinda glad that Nintendo often tries to incorporate new ideas and concepts (though I strongly dislike some of them, but that doesn't count here). Another reason to support them and buy their video games, atleast from my point of view.

9.17.2010

Nice stuff

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Found some nice stuff in local media market! Three soundtracks at all (Blade Runner, Borderlands and Monster hunter 3) and finally a functioning MP3 player. It took me some longer time to buy a new one since my previous player starting doing weird boot up shit and had battery problems right after guarantee expiration... I'm not quite sure what the name of it is (kinda weird), but it works fabulously - which is kinda hard to find on a market filles with silly video/audio player mixes and just no real good and pure MP3 players. And if you find one, they mostly have no folder view, which is vital to a bigger MP3 collection without tags. I'm also quite satisfied with the soundtracks I bought. The Borderlands soundtrack is as good as in the game (interesting to see Stalker's composer, MoozE in the credit list - he did some drum programming) and Monster Hunter's music is just beautiful - especially the town tracks delivers so fine blends between percussy dingdang and cut blipbleeps, it's a breeze to listen to it. Very entertaining and well-made. Also cool to hear so many percussions in a soundtrack forming most parts of it. Only some real melodies, the rest is theme as a rather short and intermixed palette of short note sequences (yeah, there's a difference for me). Maybe some day I'll buy the game and try to cope with it. And weeee - I can't believe they added the "cooking musics" between tracks. Maybe they wanted to "spice it up" a bit...

9.15.2010

Mindstorms vs. do-it-yourself

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Well, always I'm telling my friends that I want to get a Mindstorms set for building LEGO robots/devices, I get responses like "do it yourself" and "just add controllers and some motors". Well, if it were that easy, I'd surely be in for having my own robotics set. Mindstorms isn't just a controller you can glue on your LEGO bricks. It's a system of sensors controlled and read by a single chip or multiple ones. You don't just try to fumble with some electronic parts and big plastic bricks. You don't need to build connector pieces, you need to create nicely integrating motors/sensors, it has all the ways to communicate with it's system parts built-in. It#s a complete interface built around LEGO parts and programmable with almost everything you can image. There are even Linux operating system for it, so you can -theoretically- port programs to it with enough adjustments. I can even take my code base and continue programming on it with no effort, just using another library for accessing connected sensors. So anybody telling me it's easy to build your own complete Mindstorms system with all these features should totally show it to me. And if so, it's sure nobody can archieve this without knowledge in electronics and such stuff. I pay for the comfort and they easyness, not only for the function. If I would create own kind of Mindstorms chip, it would take years for me to a) learn all the stuff and b) some more ages to actually build it with all these functions.

Mindstorms isn't just a simple set of electronics everybody without knowledge about it could create. Saying otherwise is like comparing a single CPU compared to a full computer setup with operating system.

9.14.2010

Weeeeeird

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Anjuta's build system is kinda weird. It's not Anjuta itself, but what was never told in the documentation was, that you always have to run an autogen script to generate your makefile so you can actually make an executable of it... That's rather unsual compared to what I'm used to. Basically, it's just like a more comfortable way to edit makfiles and autoconf stuff. Instead of automatic stuff everywhere, it rather feels like a GUIfied version of a command line compilation. I'm not sute if I exactly like this. I understand how cool autotools are and so on, but it'd be much cooler to have an "automatic" mode, like in CodeBlocks, where you just need to push a button and it starts execution after everything is done. It's quite convenient. And dead-simple. Maybe there IS actually a function like that in Anjuta and I didn't detect it. But at the moment I have perform around 5 pushes/actions to see my app execute. Annoying and not necessary. Editing is one thing, compiling another. I give it some days, if it starts annoying me too much I'll start switch to make + gedit again. Reading more about makefiles again, I think it's really better to write an own little program that enables project management via command line. Maybe even a gedit plugin later? Would be cool. From what I currently know, I don't need necessarily autoconf. I like how Anjuta enables me to use the underlying system common for everything, but having tested it more than just a day let me decide to leave it as and where it is to pick it up later when things go more complicated and big. I use many small projects and for testing and the bigger ones just take files from them. And since most of them are just templates and inlined classes/functions without so special relationships... I don't know. Also, gedit symbol browser plugin takes all opened tabs/files (if specified) and gives a global overview. That eliminates most problems I have with non-IDEs.

9.13.2010

Total fail

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Other M's developers are really lazy bums. They didn't just copied the concept of a lone space station with climate sectors from Metroid Fusion. They even copied Nigtmare. I didn't think they were that dull... The story is so stupid. Money-grabbing somewhats.

Other M

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Back from an japano-esque anime/mange fair (the "connichi" in Kassel) with friends, I'm quite glad I'm back home. There was, like usually on such fairs, also room for playing games together or alone, and there was also a Wii with cutscenes from Metroid: Other M. I'm not quite sure if it was actually playable, but well - I already decided to not play it and did again see why: Cutscenes! Story! It reminded me of how Final Fantasy somehow. They way they always focus on characters. I didn't like what I saw and how cruelly long the cutscenes were. But well, as I came back home and slept some hours, I decided to watch a walkthrough, since it seems to be out already! So I'm currently sitting infront of my laptop and watching it as some kind of movie. It's NOT like Metroid. It seems they tried to redesign and/or complete remove all essential parts of previous Metroid games. I don't know anything about the linearity, but it ahas an horribly inconsistent camera with millions of different views and doesn't seem to actually care about it. There are many really cool elements in it, but most Metroid aspects just completely disappeared, making it more like an interactive movie, a game inspired by the Metroid universe in general, but not what made a Metroid game. It's not a Metroid game, really not. I'm not quite sure, but the trend of cutscenes in modern Metroid games is frightning. Prime 2 instroduced and Prime 3 took it further. Other M makes a complete game out of it.

I understand that they want to experiment with new elements and ideas, but replacing a simple but good base gameplay with finishing moves, spontaneously flipping control dimensions, shaky hand cam, weird aiming and so many useless cutscenes in a game with really no story worth making movies out of it, is a total fail to me - as a Metroid game. Imagining it as a completely different game is quite entertaining. Problem is, it relies on so much stuff used in Metroid that it'd be just a "copy" of Metroid's universe plus some extra elements.

What I like about it so far is that there a 2D sequences. In 2D, the game looks quite nice. This combined with all these colorful textures they've choosen for almost every aspect of they game makes it look like Metroid Fusion. In fact, they even used different climate sectors like in Fusion. The levels are quite like Metroid and deliver a good "huge, empty and technically manifold" feeling. But it feels somehow wrong. Most be the music. Some tracks sound like from veeeery old science fictions games and they rest is rather cliche ambient, boring fighting music and background sound. Rather functional and "inspired" (yeah, the bad way of beeng "inspired"). I miss some puzzles. I don't like they HUD, looks so forced and too stilized. Forms follows function was definitely no part of their design document. One element improving the rather twodimensional beeing is that Samus is animated as fast as in older 2D Metroid games. Has a great mechanic feeling to it. I don't know. I think they tried hard to give players a completely new Metroid with different feeling but forgot that Metroid itself is defined by it's general feeling, which they destroyed by turning it into an interactive cutscene appender.

9.09.2010

Anjuta

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After testing Anjuta, reading about autoconf, automake, Libtool and everything else involved, I know much more and understand what's so cool about Anjuta. It doesn't use any project files except settings for which Anjuta plugins where used/are required for this project. Everything else, program-realted lies with GNU auto tools. This is a very solution, since it's the standard way to build software from source using Linux. All you need to do is to make a new project and add your desired files. It automagically create source folders, create the whole autoconf setup and everything runs well. It also has a great user interfaces, with lots of features, but packed into a simple, very flexible user interface. It's a breeze to work without. I always thought CodeBlocks was the maximum of development comfort to me, but Anjuta gives many more good ways to hide and show all kinds of informations. I especially like how it - like gedit - integrates only actually useful and basic features that are always useful and deliver flexibility without complex setups or long preparations. It's definitely a real piece of GNOME software. It deserves it's place on the GNOME website. So I never need to setup autoconf manually! Hooray. I mean I know it does something so standard that it's really not necessary to get my hands dirty everything I create a new project. And yes, I have DOZENS of projects, mostly own libraries madeup of reusable source files. And to test each functionality properly, I also create test projects with every kind of possible data going in and out. Well, there's is still one oddity with compilation, cause it autoconf and make and seperated build/compile/execute commands, but I can cope with that. There's a good tutorial that explain how Autotools and Anjuta work..

I only wonder about why they hide settings if the appropriate window isn't visible or opened. I guess it depends on their plugin system, beeing a system made of plugins and enabling them only if they are necessary. This way it's clear why there are settings for loaded plugins - Anjuta saves plugin settings in every project. I hope there aren't settings that essential, like editor settings and so, it saves only in the project but resets them every editor start. This didn't happen so far and it only saves essential project information this way.

And seeing such a plugin system in use... I should also think about making some kind of GUI plugin system, where every part of a program is a plugin and you can load plugins dynamically into a random plugin window. Plugins then could just work together as if they were programs which do only the things they are made for - kinda a GUI version of the Unix philosophy! This way you could have a unified drag-n-drop system for every plugin, create your own sets of plugins as applications and mix whatever you want to create your own IDE or so. I like the idea, but it unfornately also bears some more thinkage and even more motivated than I could ever reach with this idea. It would be some kind of specialized desktop environment without the usual focus on single applications but rather the possiblity for plugins to work together and send each other information about which plugin does what and which requires which information and triggers what kind of action of another plugin.

GNOMEdy

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I've setup a major plan how to restore my desktop after playing around too much with. I also found out the reason why my previous attempt of installing the new Nautilus failed: It is a part of the GNOME desktop package, and this it can't be uninstalled seperately. This is kinda sad, cause it's of one of these features I always used as long as I can remember. Seeing the GNOME desktop as one package is also the reason why I can't remove Evolution or Ekiga or even Rythmbox without removing GNOME itself. But hey, that's ok. I don't prefer or need them but they are also GNOMEy software with a consistent HIG. And if I ever need to use some programs different from my preferred ones, I can just use them.

I also caught myself by only trusting software that looks like it has a GNOME icon... Oh man, so long no consistent software turned my into a total fanboy. It's not that I always do this kind. I often see how the icons look in all kinds of operating systems/desktops and can thus see if it came from a consistent suite of tools or just from a single, unrelated developer. I kind of like the idea of whole software suites made to have a consistent desktop experience. That's also the reason why I want to ASCIIfy every program I'm writing for personal satisfaction. And so far, it often works for me to just choose the applications that work within one environment together without any interface breakdowns. And well, this brings to go through this list of selected GNOME projects. I know, I know - there are so many more. But I'm sure that programs in this list do have GNOME icons (Kill me if you want! This is my first criteria.) and integrate better. The reason is simple: If they even provide icons in the famous GNOME style, I'm sure they added more important features and integration before doing that. As a software developer, I usually start adding features, not design. So everything feature-rich and GNOME-looking seems to be something I may want to inspect further.

This approach also got me to read more about Anjuta. I wont type anything about here except that I hope it's a like a pimped gedit which no messed up build system, so I can switch to some IDE system again. Again, it's good to know your build-in standard tools, but I miss the feel of using a program made to do what I want to do. Guess that comes from beeing a fan of old Nintendo consoles with just the ability to play video games and nothing else. And an IDE eases the annoying work of always hacking in new things into makefiles.

though

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Well, as I said spatil browsing would a bad thing, I think if webpages would have more relevant information and more structured like an informative book or something like that and less like a chain of all-the-time-new-links-to-other-websites it could definitely work. Every website/domain could have it's own window, but this would fail by the fact that you sometimes just want to keep multiple pages of one site opened...

9.08.2010

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I also cleaned up unnecessary bits on my blog page in general. Nobody needs a blog archive, especially nobody's reading this blog.

bad idea

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It was a bad idea to install the new Nautilus from sid archives. Not because of Nautilus, but because of the fact that I totally fucked my desktop and couldn't install it again. What a pity. I reinstalled everything and it surpringly much less time than before. Hooray for quick internet connection. Fortunately, I didn't set up anything unrecoverable except the Epiphany bookmarks. I'll juszt stick with how it is atm and learn to cope with this kind of recovery-less trash. And after trying the spatial mode some more times, it's really nicer to work with because you get a better feeling/perception of how many and which you opened. And yeah, the "one object for one folder" does really work better for me, as I also see every window as an object on harddrive (part of a software). If it comes the internet browsing, I'm glad that most of them don't use a spatial mode, cause I mostly open so many webpages in one session that it would become hard to recover to navigated/visited sites in the right oder (the most important part in my browsing behaviour). Well, I'm glad that Debian's default installer doesn't install so much shit I don't need. Though I can't help why anyone would moron software like "Cheese". Well, I probably just don't have webcam. Or Xsane (well, I also don't have a scanner...). But hey, it's really a minimal setup and that's good. Only thing I need to gt rid of is Rythmbox. I strongly dislike is library system. And also don't like Totem. I prefer VLC - usually cause it's the only video player I ever liked, and I never really watch videos except DVDs, for VLC is totally ok for. So yeah, let's find a better music player after I beat this one quest in Fallout 3....

some things bugging me

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What's bugging me with Debian 5.0 is that it's Nautilus browser is version 2.20.0 and doesn't support reverting files back to where they are from trash. That is a big problem for me. For example, some apps allow you to delete files directly without you knowing from were they came. For example, I used accidently deleted around hundret files in Rythmbox and they all landed in the trash without having ANY option to recover them. That's fucking bad. So, fortunately, newer Nautilus releases support recovering files from trash. Unfortunately, it also means that I have to install many, many, many other files to upgrade to this version (let's say that it looks like a half GNOME desktop...). Well, nothing is perfect. I want this feature.

Also, Rythmbox is really nothing I want to cope with. the problem is, it works with tags and assumes that every file name is formated in a special name and is thus convertable to a tag-based database etc... That doesn't work. NEVER. Download songs from 5 different sites and the system fails. I need a better one. One that actually bases on folder or trees, but not on another database different from the files. And auto-tagging does also not work. They work by comparing files in folders to internet databases depending on whole combination of the track list, track lengths, etc... It's similarly hilarious to what Rythmbox tries to do. Where does it think do people get all their music from? Man, nobody listening to so many ripped video game soundtracks like does reformat each track one downloads... I don't sit all day long infront of my PC to rename Okami's millions of music files.

wine me some music

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Man, that's just great. Debian puts Wine in "System Tools" in the main menu, and not in an own Menu like Ubuntu. This is good. It doesn't put unnecessary clutter where it's not necessary to create an own menu with programs and icons and so on. Wine is just a helper who is meant to be as a tool to execute windows programs, not to extend your desktop with windows applications. Also, Debian doesn't a secondary menu editor, just the default GNOME editor. I always wondered why there are two menu editors editors in Ubuntu instead of just one. Even weirder, you could remove items from one editor and they still show up in the other. And re-adding it did make multiple copies of it in the other editor. It was weird, good thing there's only one editor now. I still don't know why there is also an invisible "Debian" menu I can't see in the main menu when clicking on it. I don't know. But hey, there's always documentation for big distributions. And since I use one of the oldest ones, there should be something to read about it and how it works.

So far I only had to install JDK (java), flashplugin-nonfree (Adobe's  flash plugin) and Wine. Sounds good. I'd like to appreciate Rythmbox, but there are some weird errors related to web radios. I'll just try to work with it, since it looks equally well-designed as every other GNOME software. Using a music player with libraries and a more sophisticated library/archive system also forces me to tag and sort my music... I have thousands of music files and renaming them would be a pain. If there's a way to synchronize them with an internet database, It'd be awesome to know one that integrates well into Rythmbox or the file names Rythmboxcan interpret.

Seriously, music player are all the same. And always selecting music from files if you already arranged them like a database  is just silly. "Open file" dialogs are so ineffective if it comes to music. And you always have to browse to where it is...

So this is gonna be cool

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Yeah, I like Epiphany so far as new browser. It has a better, tag-based bookmark system and a (as I personally find) more natural integration of the search function. What I like about Epphany (and GNOME in general) is that they try to apply their HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) everywhere they can, and this a good thing. It feels good to know that every program has only the settings accessible that really matter. Everything else can be done with extension. It's a good concept and reflects most aspects I value in software design. Good stuff, good stuff. But well, gedit is similar because it has only the options that matter to me. I can remember ranting about a single, special feature I couldn't find, but normally it's everything I need. And now, that it's faster than in CrunchBang, it is my favourite, again. Hm, maybe I should try CodeBlocks again? I think this couldn't hurt, especially cause I do now have a system that performs definitely better, hm... Originally, I started using an external editor + terminal cause I didn't knew how to compile from command line and found some CodeBlock bugs just as annoying as how I always had to setup EVERYTHING when reinstalling systems. And where am I now? I know how to use my favourite make/compile system, I know much more about terminals and the tool chain of a developer, I learned how to make the default GNOME editor a programmer's editor and more and more and more and more. I learned so much useful things by not using an IDE, I think it's better to stick with standard tools. Maybe, if want some more sophisticated project structures in my folders, I'll switch to makefile instead of cmake. Of course, cmake does all the header requirement magic for you, but it also a fucked up system for multiple projects in subfolders. Atleat I didn't quite get how to manage it at all. Using makefiles, I have to specify everything by hand, but it results in a more flexible system. I always thought of a system to manage projects using terminal commands. Where you would call a program that give you an interactive project shell, or atleast the possibility to just type "compile" and it auto-magically (I love this word) adds all source files in the given folders to it's projects if not present, check for for depencies on changed/new files and then create a makefile if something changed and call it everything worked well. I like the idea of it, having more freedom to specify what is when done, with which compiler and what kind of actions of changes. It should an universal compile systems that works for more than just C/C++. Everything it would know is how find out included files. This can be done with a program/script, can than get processed further, etc... A toolchain to get the comfort of modern ideas, where all you need to do, as user, is to add it to gedit as a shortcut and run it inside gedit's bottom panel/terminal. I like this idea. Plus, it teaches me some terminal tricks and more knowledge about how makefiles work.

So back to Epiphany and GNOME/Debian, it's also cool to have am "add/remove applications" button, again. It always felt so forced with package managers, ending up with too many removed packaged that were required for certain programs. On the good side, I know how to manage stuff with them. This "hardcore experience" with nothing but terminals was instructive and valuable. But for know I'm glad it's over! Sometimes I go over-the-top and want to be as nerdy as possible, but deep down inside my heart I'm a total GUI lover. I need to know how things work, if not, I usually fall back to arch-orthodox minimal ways to operate computers until I know what I want to know. It's rather a way of learning how to understand what makes what. Like people going out on a zen trip, I go back to very basic ways of working with computers. That's pretty special, I know. But atleast it works as usual, and is thus worthy enough to do it. So at the moment it's time to stop that weird, unintuitive way of computing.

As I can now see how useful GNOME's HIG guidelines are, it's good to learn more about them and maybe inplement them in my own, future programs. If there wouldn't be this maths stuff I had to do for Uni... But hey, I usually do maths only a few hours a day, so there's plenty of time to program. And as I'm in a programming mood, I can usually cope with such things better than otherwise. All in all, I noticed that my understanding of math works well, if I get the time to digest them enough. So yeah, let's get programmy and get the best out of GNOME for development and create a command line project manager!

9.07.2010

Now that's a surprise

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How awesome life can be! Debian's GNOME desktop starts up slow than OpenBox + several CrunchBangyties, but it has performance. Yes, Performance (TM). No slowdowns for editors, just generally slower rendering of everything. I don't why, but the stereotypically slow GNOME/GTK desktop performs much better than every Ubuntu version I tried so far. It is weird. Debian and Ubuntu use Gnome, but they have significant speed differences. Currently, I'm typing this is in Epiphany and I don't see a reason to install Firefox again. Epiphany starts much faster and doesn't have so heavy slowdown at first try. And as I assume that this won't change, I'll stick with it and have a generally faster desktop.

I'm really surprised by how different it performs at all (the GNOME desktop and it's collection in general). I take everything back about GTK beeing to slow and bloaty, this new desktop environment changed my mind. I'm sooo pleeased at the moment. Also, I can experience Nautilus with spacial mode! It doesn't look so... strained, and clutterless. I like how I can see which folders are opened just by looking and the icons other folder. It works simpler and more natural. I can see a folder as one object and don't have to worry about having too many unrelated folder structures in my head. I like so far. And you can still open a browser mode or a tree view just by clicking, using a shortcut or changing the settings. It's imho less clutter, cause I see every additional icon/action as clutter. Most toolbars are filled with navigation icons, which I really see as unnecessary clutter at all.

So here I come, world of normalized working environments! Finally some more comfort for computing. I'm glad that I still know which programs I need except the already preinstalled one. I like terminal applications, but not as much that I'd like to completely switch to non-graphical user interfaces. Ok, maybe I should just try to appreciate the comfort of modern GNOME software and step back from using so many niche solutions. Atleast I can get a perfect integration this way - more than before in all cases.

Woohoo!

Debian

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So let's try this Debian distribution. Debian comes with all most important desktop environments (I'll test them as far as I want) and doesn't seem so incompatible like Ubuntu to older hardware. I can't convince myself to use something different than apt, since it's sofar a trusted way to install new packages for me. I just want the whole system to get faster. I mean older Ubuntu versions also worked well, so why should a Debian, the base for Ubuntu, not work? Personally, it's better to check Debian before completely go away from this path. I can't do anything wrong with it, since I see no difference in Debian to what I need as a working system. Same package management, favorite apps can be installed later, several desktops/window managers to choose from. I see nothing bad about it. Only thing I'm afraid of is that everything will be slow again. That's the only major concern floating 'round in my head

9.06.2010

The limited number problem

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In computing, there's always a limit for data, especially numbers. When huge and detailed amounts of real numbers, most of the time the calculation will suffer from immense precision loss, often compensated by using strings to store numbers. This is, of course, even more bound to memory limitations as string representations of bignumbers take considerable more memory than, for example, their integer counterparts. Personally, I think a step towards precision-less calculations would be to work with formulas directly. Taking only a few set, fixed-precision numbers and a dozen of fomulas as input, I'm an alghorithm capable to simplify a huge formula to tiny bits is more detailed than loosing precision everywhere/making the result more than wrong. Well, using formulas as numbers and thus also in calculations is an interesting way to work maths in programs. Imagine that: most mathematical objects are sets for calculations, even the result. Every operator generates only other, probably smaller formulas except the one who put out Boolean results, True and False. I'm not good at math. But with increasing CPU power we will be able to actually make this true and solve most limited number problems.

I feel so boss by thinking about this beeing my idea. Me, the everhating math denunciator. If I ever meet someone who's awesome in math and a programmer, too, I'll try to convince him to make such an "engine". Or maybe I'll do such an engine. It should be too hard cause I can simplify every more complex operation by getting it's exact formula representation such as sinus beeing just an infinitely long trail of operations (if I remember correctly).

Eagle Mode zoomable user interface

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I'm totally stunned. I can't even move. Woa.

Get more infos here.

Nautilus' spatial file management

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There is a really good article about Nautilus' spatial file management, how and why most users don't like the new mode. I honestly want to test it, too, but installing Nautilus would already require me to install a lot of stuff that doesn't integrate so well with my current setup (ok, ok - I just don't want to put more slow gtk stuff to further immobilize my system). I'm currently seaching for file managers different from the typical browser-like ones with much more effort than usually. It's hard to find a descent one that isn't so orthodox in terms of the interface. I like how data is reprensented like a tree, but I hate to stare on a two-pane window with just some listed files but visible hirarchy. Maybe there's a tree-view-based file manager somewhere? I don't know, but I'll now continue my search for something different.

Window Managers for X

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Window Managers for X is a comprehensive list of all kinds of up-to-date and will-never-see-daylight-again window managers and desktop environments. Some stuff is very interesting, most not. I found some manager I was interested in, but most turned out to be to weird to compile or just to hard to use. I'm a former windows user, I don't care about elitists workspaces. I'm still testing them and maybe I'll find one or two better than my current setup. All in all I'd really like to use the Equinox Desktop Environment, a desktop-only environment that isn't blown as KDE or Gnome, but I just couldn't get it compile correctly. Manual compiling didn't work, netinstall neither - both due to actual problems with the source code, as it seems. And I'm really not someone who's running after apps that don't compile when properly following the installation instructions.

What I also noticed is that I definitely need a better file managers. PCmanfm just sucks. It has so many non-customizable interface faults, it's not nice to work it. There are some out and one awesome cool thing could be a different navigation concept. Something new especially appeals to me cause I consider writing my own one one day. There's a list of software I want to make one day and I'll probably begin with rather basic ideas like a ASCII-based GUI with HTML as interface description (Yeah, I think it's a good idea. I had my doubts, but I think most usefull stuff can be done this way, a plus is the inclusion of HTML5 elements and there's no need to implement web-related features like scripts or doctype elements.). After this, I'll have a simple range of possibilities without always tinkering with pixel-perfect coordinates and CPU-intensive rendering (long live the monospace empire). And for file managers, xdiskusage is a big inspiration for me. It's sad that I found no other file managers exploring this concept, but also good because I'll be the one pioneering more advanced concepts of it, hehehe....

Window managers, desktop environments etc

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Did you know how annoying it is to customize Openbox and GTK themes? Geez, I can't get why developers don't just use the minimal and extensible way. I know most ways to configure Linux software are old and thus rather non-so-far developed, but I can't overlook the fact that most config files are not so different and equally simple in concept. And simplicity isn't always usefulness. Well, maybe it's just me wanting a universal system for everything. I currently looking for alternatives to Openbox and whatnot is on my machine. I found a great website I'll share later some more links to window managers and desktop environments different from the typical standard every average Linux user knows or has on it's machine.

It could also be that other window manager may boost some of my really weird performance problems with font rendering. Maybe it's really Openbox. This would be great, because I could just switch to another manager without buying a new, unnecessary and expensive laptop.

out of Fallout

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I saw every single single quest in Fallout 3! It feels like I finally finished one of the PC games I bought some whiles ago without loosing interest in actually getting the last secrets. It feels like after a really delicious meal - so delicious that you regret eating it as a whole. I already played Fallout 3 before, of course. But there were certain quest I didn't even start just cause I found them rather boring. This time, I systematically raided this Fallout wiki with constant research attacks and squeezed every bit of notable quest out of this game. It's still fun, especially cause I'm a kinda vicious-hearted bottlecap mine lover in this game.

It just feels satisfying to place a mine and listen to victory-marking death sounds. Well, it's good that I'm playing the censored German version since mine explosions will probably lead to disgusting splatter effects (which need to be rather well-placed to be worthwhile to me). Call me softy, I don't think random splatter doesn't add anything to a game. Though I think it could make great artistic shapes when used in specially defined shapes in certain situations.

Well, loosing interest in playing such a game is always better for all useful things you could instead do. Like learning some more bits of math to be able to cope with rewriting the maths exams you didn't pass at first... However, I even start enjoying to read about how to calculate stuff which's existance I still don't quite grasp. Thanks to my excellent maths book for computer scientists (that sounds so... compeling, in English) I see it now. Good stuff

9.04.2010

Toy gun commercials and other interesting stuff

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Hey, I decided to do some toy gun researches and found some really interesting video on youtube. Most are from really awesome guns by Mattel back in the days of black/white TVs and one is a pretty silly TV news thingy about some really silly tries by the ATF (don't know what orginasation it is) to actually forbid imported toyguns cause they can be converted into "military-grade weapons". This is right-down hilarious. This is like making a water pump with just nothing but paper and Origami skills.

Tommy Burst - Tommy Gun + Revolver with some interesting burst sound effect generator.
Shootin' Shell 45 - Incredibly good work of a toy gun with shell, soft projectiles, cap for smoke/sound effect... just incredible.
Thunderburp Gun - Guess this is kinda the one with which they earned the most of their money.
Power Jet Gun - Frightening how the boy looks... however, weird to see a mix of caps and water.
Safe Shooting Rifle (starts at 00:32) - Looks similar to the Power Jet Gun, but shoots soft projectiles and has a tubular magazin instead of a, um, how is this called in water guns? Reservoir?

It's fascinating how much functionality they put into them - different firemodes, different way to make sound/shoot projectiles... I'm extremely fascinated by this. I'm not exactly sure why these went to nowhere, but probably due to safety. I'm sure there are a lot of ways to disturb the seemingly "safe" way to one of them. I need to find out how they get got the thunderburp gun sound effect module working.

Something rather different I found is the Wikipedia article about water guns. It's interesting how many systems were to designed to compete with otherson the market. Cool stuff, for sure!

All in all, it's creepy. I think that some of them, if it'd metal, could really work like real guns. Terrifying.

9.03.2010

Image-Line Yard Sale

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Image-Line is selling every of their Plugins (atleast the mail says it) for just $49. That's interesting cause they usually cust around $150 and more... I'll download all the demos I can find and test if there's something that is actually useful to me. I know that when it comes to synth plugins, I usually know if I want or need it after some experiments. Maybe there's actually a synth that does what I expect from what they show and tell. The problem in general I have with Image-Line plugins is, that are not so suitable for distortion and easy, modular editing. They're are just to clear and specific, I can't my musician with them. Let's see if there's actually something worthwhile.

Well, did I say they are not modular? Maybe I should rather look for a better DAW/sequencer than new plugins... Something that is indeed modular and functional, not just plinkyplinky-fix-it-fast-and-easy. I still learned synthesis using SynthEdit, so a rather technically-minded DAW would be better for me.

It's strange that never noticed that before. Oh my. So much money could be spend otherwise. Well, isn't it always like that? Gna!

Edit: Nevermind, they sound all the same. It's like they always use the same engine but just with other controllers! I don't quite get why anyone would would pay so much money for that. I'll stick with what I find for free on the web. And there are plenty of things to try. If everthing fails, I could still use a free and but modular DAW for everything I do.

9.01.2010

Linux

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Linux only works if you have the right hardware for it.