I make apps for other people

Posts from October, 2005

And that completes the Apple order

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 28th, 2005 at 08:23

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Posted in General, Tech

The Mac mini just arrived: BTO with 1 GB RAM, 80 GB 5400 RPM HDD. It probably really is a 1.42 GHz G4, but we’ll find out when I hook it up. Edit: It’s the upgrade 1.5 GHz with 64 MB of video RAM.

And here’s my wife to help me transfer data from the old to the new. Wish us luck!

Edit: Apparently, and despite the advertising to the contrary, the XML formats for user data changed between OS X 10.2.x and 10.3.x. I was on the phone with Apple for an hour to discover this, and had to transfer files over the network–but it worked well. Applications migrated seamlessly, as did the iTunes, iPhoto, Eudora, and Firefox data.

Can I recommend the Firewire user data migration tool that’s part of OS 10.4 setup utility? No, because I never got it to work (and apparently wasted $30 on a Firewire 400 cable).

Python dev environment is up

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 27th, 2005 at 14:53

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Posted in Python, Tech

I got my Python development environment working under OS X. I broke down and used the prepackaged binaries from Undefined.org and PythonMac–I wanted to use 2.4, and continue developing with PyGame.

Overall, not too bad, although I didn’t expect that I would need PyObjC, though I should have figured it out, since that’s needed for just about any link to native services (LibSDL calls included).

I haven’t played much with XCode even though it looks nice. My biggest hangup is the windows-on-the-desktop layout, instead of a single window MDI interface that I’ve grown used to with Eclipse. Eclipse 3.1.1 works well, even with PyDev and CDT, although most of my Win32 and Cygwin projects will need to be moved into new workspace projects (their build targets are locked into Win32 Cygwin).

Problems dragging windows in OS X Tiger 1.4.2 on my Powerbook G4 15″

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 26th, 2005 at 13:49

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Posted in Python, Tech

I haven’t been able to find a description of this problem on the web–but I can get screenshots of it! In sort, when dragging windows around the desktop, or scrolling through pages or lists, light blue pixels get left behind. Drag the window in a circular motion and you can get entire windows of blue pixels. The stray pixels disappear after the window is refreshed.

I assume this has to do with antialiasing, although I was unable to affect it by changing the antialiasing settings. Text, window decorators–basically anything black–will cause this. I can hope that it will be fixed in the upcoming 1.4.3 OS X release or with a display adapter driver update, but I’ll bring it into the local Apple Store just in case.

The PowerBook is the new 15″, ATI Radeon 9700 video card with 128 MB RAM, and 1 GB of system RAM. The rumor I’d read (at Macintouch?) that these are running a special pre-1.4.3 build of 1.4.2 to support the new hardware.

For the limited gaming I’ve had time to do with it, Warcraft III performs flawlessly. World of Warcraft requires the settings be turned down for a decent framerate, so it seems more like I’m playing World of Fogcraft.

Edit: The trip to the Apple Store was uneventful. The Genius Bar is best reserved in-person, unless you’re a ProCare subscriber. The website tells you when the next appointment is, and you don’t get to push it back to a reasonable time if you’re off-site. Of course, being on site with my Powerbook let me sit in the “theatre” (four big benches) and browse the web, check my mail, and compile Python 2.4.2. The tech said that my graphics problem was known, pretty common, and implied that it would be fixed in 1.4.3 (which, of course, doesn’t exist, and wasn’t loaded onto all the machines in the store that morning, unless you checked the machines and saw it was there, but they can’t say that). If I still have the problem after Software Update runs (on 27 October 2005?) then I may consider getting a motherboard replacement–but I should consider a local firm, computerDNA, rather than the Apple Store and its 15 day backlog.

Oh, and to make this gaming related, the tech plays WoW on the Archimonde server as an Alliance, so we had nothing in common. 😉 And his girlfriend was there, who he apologized to for the WoW talk, saying, “Well, that’s my job, you know.”

The Governor

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 26th, 2005 at 13:07

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Posted in Games

I know how I missed The Governor–I was so busy with work and the puppy that I didn’t check all my blog feeds. Bad! Bad!

If you’re looking for something to watch the Warden (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?), this might be the trick. I glanced through some of the code and didn’t see anything that looked terribly suspicious–aside from injecting hooks into running code. Coming from a UNIX-y development background, that bugs me just a bit, but then so does the Warden. Ethically, I can’t believe the ends always justify the means, but from a business perspective, what Blizzard is doing makes a whole lot of sense. So does simply banning anyone who causes you to spend time and money on customer service.

Caveat: When I write C or C++, I’m doing it on a UNIX/Linux box, Cygwin, OS X–generally, anything but Win32. And when I need to do it on Win32, I’m relying on crutches and it’s going to be very simple in scope and small in size, so don’t take my bland comment about nothing “terribly suspicious” as an outright endorsement of the code. Personally, I believe Mr. Hoglund to be a trustworthy developer and skilled enough that if he wanted to hide fun things in his code, I’d never notice them.

Running Python as a Windows service

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 26th, 2005 at 09:38

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Posted in Python, Tech

Reblog from Grig Gheorghiu’s Agile Testing blog.

I can see this being needed for running servers in Python in Win32. I may need to remember how to do this in the future.

If every time you go, you don’t like it, why do you keep going?

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 24th, 2005 at 08:44

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Posted in General

I had a typically miserable experience at MicroCenter (the regional Frys lite, hold the flavor and value) Saturday.

Last Wednesday, I ordered a PowerBook G4 for myself (to replace my Dell Inspirion 8100) and a Mac mini for my wife (hey, it’s what she wanted, and she needs to replace her iMac DV SE). Both computers are supposed to arrive this week and I figured I need to get around to the other necessary hardware purchases, plus the power had just flickered and my wife’s UPS had completely failed her.

MicroCenter is, arguably, the closest computer store to our house, maybe 10 minutes away if there’s heavy traffic. CompUSA may be closer in mileage, but it feels longer because of construction, railroad tracks, and heavier traffic. I grew up going to MicroCenter, and it was a fun place for me to visit–my father still loves to go because they have a reasonably large digital photography section. However, my last few visits have left me feeling anything but warm toward the store.

Only a year behind

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 24th, 2005 at 08:08

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Posted in Games

I ordered the Warcraft 3 Battle Chest a couple weeks ago and it arrived last Monday–unopened until Friday, when I finally convinced my wife to install and try it. She doesn’t care for RTS games anyway, and while this had a gentle introduction, she doesn’t like missions where you have to defend your base and attack other groups. She’s much more content to pause in playing Guild Wars for a few minutes to watch the cut scenes on my machine.

Saturday I installed it, and started playing Sunday (hey, I had a puppy to watch!). It’s a well done RTS, with a strong storyline, the primary reason I’m even playing it. I especially like the “I failed this mission, so make it easier next time!” button.

I figure the original WC3:ROC will last another 12-16 hours of play, depending on how long missions are in the future. I tend to stretch missions out, building up as many forces as I can, when I can, to zerg the enemies; it worked in C&C and it works in most missions in WC3:ROC.

Included in the battle chest is WC3:TFT, instruction manuals, and two compressed cheat guides. I’ll admit cracking open the cheat guides to figure out what is going on in a couple of the missions–again, I blame the puppy! I’m not sure how much content is in WC3:TFT, but it might stretch my total first time through playtime to 40+ hours.

How grindy is it?

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 21st, 2005 at 15:05

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Posted in Games

Quote from my wife last night:

“Helping you with Warcraft tonight made me realize just how grindy the game is, compared to Guild Wars.”

I don’t think we can ever go back to EQ.

It’s probably what you wanted

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 18th, 2005 at 12:55

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Posted in Design Journal

This idea is still coalescing…

From Joel on Software:

A very senior Microsoft developer who moved to Google told me that Google works and thinks at a higher level of abstraction than Microsoft. “Google uses Bayesian filtering the way Microsoft uses the if statement,” he said. That’s true. Google also uses full-text-search-of-the-entire-Internet the way Microsoft uses little tables that list what error IDs correspond to which help text. Look at how Google does spell checking: it’s not based on dictionaries; it’s based on word usage statistics of the entire Internet, which is why Google knows how to correct my name, misspelled, and Microsoft Word doesn’t.

From TerraNova:

The comparison of the game engine to an ‘operating system’ is interesting because of its possible long-term implications. It suggests a process and a path based on *letting go.* It is saying that there are some parts of the game presentation (where we’re at now) and the game world (where it may end-up) that I cannot directly control (except under great pain and a chance of dire mishap). Just as you now care very little how or where your documents on your computer are actually physically stored, so too might game developers come to care less about the actual motion, pathing, and ultimately perhaps behavioral detail about their characters. It would be as if to create one virtual world that you as a consumer play in the developers will negotiate with another virtual world inside… Pull apart a Matryoshka doll and find another.


Blizzard’s security email a noble effort, but receives a failing grade

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 18th, 2005 at 08:33

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Posted in Games, Java

Another email I received today, from Blizzard, is probably in response to the Allakhazam ad server keylogger attack. (Note: I use Allakhazam with Firefox, and have been an Alla subscriber for three years because I find the service useful.)

Blizzard’s support teams have seen a recent surge in account theft and password recovery incidents, and we have decided it will be useful to get some more detailed information out to our customer base about account theft and account security. That is the purpose of this email.

The vast majority of account compromises originate from one of three sources:
1. “Spoof” websites and emails
2. Downloading hacks, cheats, or other executable content
3. Sharing account information and/or using power-leveling services

This email contains more information on these and other increasingly common scams, as well as some useful links (near the bottom) for recovering your account and keeping yourself safe. We strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with this information and keep it on file.