Sunday, February 28, 2010


I just yawned my way through Gamer.
Based on the premise "Gee, what if the characters you played in a game were actual people", this film doesn't get any deeper than you think. A shallow, obvious, boring film. Lots of graphic bloody violence, and not enough sex. Hell, if you're going to make a film rated R for violence, you might as well throw in some sex as well, especially given the topic.
This film had barely enough content for a short story, let alone a feature film. I put this film in the same category as Death Race, which was suprisingly better than it sounds and had some tension and drama. Both these films use the concept of criminals giving themselves for entertainment fresh meat for their freedom, which is pretty silly stuff, and unless you build a decent story on top of that, you just end up watching it with one questioning eyebrow permanently raised.
The funniest part of Gamer is when one controller refers to the human body parts he's just splattered as giblets. If you never played Doom or Quake, you'd have missed it. You're right though, it's not that funny.
Don't Bother.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Objective C

I've been reading a document written to help C++ programmers learn Objective C. If you are in my situation where you know C++, but Objective C seems completely unreadable, then I suggest you read it too. It's very good and hits on all the main points you need to know.
Objective C isn't actually a very large language, being a strict superset of C, but has some very nice features. The main difference is that instead of calling methods on objects, you send messages to them instead. So in effect, if an object doesn't implement the method you want to call, then you get an exception, rather than a crash in C++ (after convincing the C++ compiler to let you do it...).
Classes are also treated as objects, so you can query classes for properties and so on. All in all, this makes for a more object oriented language, although presumably wouldn't have the efficiency of code written in C++ or C. The Objective C memory model seems pleasant to get along with, and then you could just rely on a garbage collector as well if you don't even want to think about it.
Now, to actually try some exanples using it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Story from Cian: The Boys

Once there was two boys, Cian and Owen. They had a big job list:
  • build a robot pig
  • go hunting
  • kill ants
  • watch youtube
They built a robot pig which was three feet tall and four feet wide.
Then they killed three ducks, one deer, and four chickens. After than, they got out the poison and sprayed like maniacs.
Finally, they watched youtube for an hour.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dragon Coast: Book VI

I'm still pushing through some details on the D&D adventure I'll soon run. It's been interesting using the new Pathfinder rules for generating NPCs. The new rulebook has a good section on this and the new skill rules make skills easy to assign. I'm trying to do as much pre-rendering of details and stats as I can to make the adventure run as smoothly as possible. It will already be hard to run as the characters are at levels 13-14, and you tend to get serious "level loading" delays as opponent NPCs put their own plans into action and react to events. Damn it's a lot of work though, not sure if I'll be bothered to go the full adventure creation route again.
Hopefully it will be fun. The game site is here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Google Buzz. No thanks.

I accepted all the Google Buzz process and gave it a whirl and posted something trivial. And when that post hit my email, I wasn't happy. I don't want crap on email, I use Facebook a lot and it doesn't send me any crap, because I can turn it all off. Also I realised I suddenly had a public searchable profile attached to my gmail account. I think I'd prefer to keep my email off web searches for now.
Plenty of backlash in the media too, and how to be free of it. I'e turned it off.
Also, I like Facebook. It's getting some maturity, Buzz just seems like a toy version of the real thing and the possible security and privacy leaks are a concern.
MySpace? What's that?

[Update 17th Feb] Told you so.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala

I just upgraded my home server from Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10, Karmic Koala.
No problems. Looks better. Windows 7 domain works fine. All good.

End of Dollhouse

I saw the last two episodes of Dollhouse last night. Awesome. I really enjoyed it, but it was pretty clear he could have used a whole other series to finish it up. The last episode is brilliant, with some more great acting from Victor/Tony.
If you haven't seen any Dollhouse, I recommend watching some of series 1, and most of series 2. Really, about 20-25 episiodes tops will do it for you and be well worth your effort.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

iPad. Past the hype and cynicism.

It's now a week since the iPad was announced and anyone interested is now aware of its shortcomings. Here's my take on the downsides.
  • Not 16:9: To get widescreen you have to make it wider or thinner. Thinner just seems silly because you are giving up screen space just to get an aspect ratio. Wider and it starts to get unweildy I would guess, and people are already complaining that it is too big. Pretend it is widescreen with some bonus screen top and bottom.
  • Video output not HD: Who is going to connect it to a video source as the monitor? That's crazy. It does 720p in local video so who cares?
  • No GPS: OK, this would be nice if I was going to use the 3G data on the move. I'm going to be using this mostly at my home on wifi, or friends' homes on wifi, so *shrug*.
  • No USB ports. USB would be useful for a bunch of stuff. Not a huge deal though.
  • No in-facing camera. This would be good for video VOIP. But I'm just not that into video VOIP, and it's available on my desktop.
  • Bezel too big: Don't know. Have to see how it feels using it. You need some bezel to hold it without affecting the input. I'm guessing it's probably ok.
  • No multitasking. This sucks. I'm hoping an OS upgrade will improve this in the future.
  • Touch keyboard sucks: Again, have to see how it feels. Doesn't look too bad. Can be improved later because it is software.
  • No HDMI out: For what? Plugging into a telly to watch video? That's what my media player is for. Duh.
  • The name iPad: Agreed. Prefer iSlate. I'll call it "my slate".
  • Closed App Ecosystem: Tradeoff between platform security and openess. I'm probably not as bothered as I should be. Apple not approving apps they just don't like, or competes with them really does suck.
  • No In-browser Flash: Big debate. Apple say it's because it's buggy and drains the power. There's a large element of truth to that. I don't want my iPad crashing because of some banner ad. But then, the kids won't be able to play those flash games without it. Oh, wait. That's also good. I don't visit sites that use Flash for navigation. They suck anyway. There is an app for YouTube, so video is no problem.
  • No iBooks in Australia: Sounds like this is "well on the way". It's just licencing.
Oooh! News on an iPad Nano. Heh.
Someone else thinks iPad will crush the expensive eReaders.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The new BSG spinoff series Caprica has started.
I just watched the pilot double episode and it's looking good. It's set on Caprica, about 60 years before the Cylons blew it all to hell.
If you liked BSG watch it, otherwise, probably don't bother.

New metal foam

Oooh! This metal foam has the strongest strength to density ratio yet, and "It can compress up to 80% of its original size under loading and still retain its original shape". Cool. Useful. Hmmm.

Moon Landing Cancelled.

Good. Personally I think we're better investing time and money into the ISS, encouraging commercial spaceflight, and other orbital capital like fuel depots. What about spun gravity in earth orbit? That's going to be way more comfortable than being on the moon in one sixth gravity. OK, you need a large diameter for the centrifuge, but the spokes don't have to be traversable to keep the cost down.