2001 Jun 3 (Sun), 13:39 Amazing Mace
Damn have I been busy these last couple of weeks. In addition to some rather awful personal things I'd rather not go into, I have been still busily looking for *real* (read, "paying") work. Things have gotten very tight lately, and I really have to find something soon. This lack of work actually has a lot to do with the awful personal things (the ones I'd rather not go into ;-).

My parents are visiting from Wyoming right now. They will be here for a week. My wife and I spent most of this last week cleaning for their arival (actually, we needed to do some serious spring cleaning anyway... my parents coming was just a good excuse to do it now ;-). It should be a nice visit.... certainly ought to give my wife and I a chance to relax.

Haven't had much time to devote to any of my open-source projects. Tux Typing had a few weeks of flurries where I was getting a lot of help with it... but now I've been so busy and soooo slow to respond that the activity has died down. As I recall (haven't worked on the project in a week now) we have solved all but one of our blocking issues for a 0.9 release. Unfortunately our last blocking issue is a little bit nasty, and has been a major bug since well before we actually started tracking bugs! This particular section of code was never coded very well... and it really shows in the stability. This code consisted of original work by myself and contributed code from at least two other people (that I remember). As I recall, the two submissions had slightly differing viewpoints on how to accomplish the tutorial... and I think I hurriedly spliced the two together with the assumption I'd fix it later. Well... I never did... and now it's been so long I barely remember where the splices between the two were made. Well... I honestly wont mind much if this section continues to be poorly coded.... just as long as it stops crashing!

For Noink2 I have begun working on a noNews article extension. I really do need to get a Noink2 site up, and place the code in the Noink page on SourceForge. Jake and I already have done a boffo job getting some Noink2 modules up and running, and I really would like to give them a home on the web. I just need to find (make?) time to do so.

Other than these, about two weeks ago I began coding a new educational game staring Tux (like Tux Typing). This one will teach math skills. I have been designing the core engine based on what I learned that I needed from Tux Typing... so hopefully making other educational games like these will be easier in the future. (This engine will not be a all-purpose gaming engine... It will just be a simple set of C++ objects which allow for easier creation of games such as Tux Typing).

Uhm.... let's see.... I also rented and played through Onimusha for the PS2 about a week ago. Can I just say this was an awesome game? It's my web-site... I think I can say that...

2001 Jun 11 (Mon), 10:16 Institutionally Refrained

This is a very small update to let everyone know I am still alive ;-) Thx for all those concerned friends who did contact me to verify I hadn't died this last week!

Actually, as can be seen from my last entry, my parents were visitting. They just left on Saturday... and I was so wiped out I actually took two more days off before getting back to work on my projects. So that's the story.

Tux Typing saw some good things happen during my absence. Jesse Andrews again showed his merits by aggressively attacking the last damned blocking issue for our next release. He has made a few observations about it, and they seem very sound. I am expecting a patch to solve (at least parts of) this problem within the week from him. In addition to this, calarndt (sorry, don't know his real name ;-) has managed to make us a RH7.1 binary RPM for Tux Typing 0.8..... props to him (or her... again, don't know this person's name or gender ;-). I have actually been debating skipping the 0.9 release and just going for the 1.0... as many of the blocking issues have been resolved, and we haven't had any new bug submissions in a while.

Noink2 will soon have it's site up along with noNews-lite. The Noink2 site is currently finished and residing on my laptop. I am just waiting to put it up until after I rearrange my Noink page on SourceForge. I really need to modify the CVS code repository structure... but I have been too lazy to do it so it's not done yet. ;-)

Other than that, I rented and played through the awesome PS2 game Red Faction. This game was excellent... very very very very nicely done. If you have a PS2, and like FPS.... then this game is a must have.

2001 Jun 13 (Wed), 14:44 Mutating Monkey Munks

Very small diary entry today.

Been in contact with Harry McGregor lately. He's a guy local to me in Tucson who is the CEO of the Open Source Education Foundation. They have been using Tux Typing in a local elementary school here in Tucson for almost a year now. He's offered to let me go in and take a little tour of their facilities (at Corbett) sometime... so I'm kind of stoked for that. Been feeling quite defeated lately with my continuing *real* employment search, and this little news has really perked me up. ;-)

Tux Typing is probably a week away from a 0.9 release. We've decided not to skip this release and jump to 1.x since there are some very neat little finishing touches we ought to do to it before we hit 1.x. But for the 0.9 release, our last issue is almost completely resolved. What's currently in CVS is very stable, and we seem to only encounter the bug during very special circumstances.

Nothing else for now.

2001 Jun 16 (Sat), 09:40 Wookie Pa Nub (in all the wrong places)

A lot to cover, so let's get started:

Tux Typing:
Since wed we have been busy! A dozen or so major patches, and some major build reworking. Thx to Jesse Andrews we now have the tutorial screen crash bug resolved! This bug actually was several other bugs all exhibiting similar behaviour at different times, and their fixes have varied. But this final fix from Jesse was very elegent. He noticed a couple of things about exitting early from the tutorial: 1) we were trying to erase blits that weren't there 2) we weren't resetting the global variable that deals with the dirty blit structure back to zero (meaning we'd have unallocated memory designated as in use). The fix? Two lines of code. Awesome ;-)

Olivier Dagenais gave us our first Win32 port. He submitted code and MSVC++ specific stuff to assist in the future. I really am shocked how excited I was for this port. I mean, I personally loath Windoze, don't use it at all myself... Elliminated it from my laptop as soon as VideoLAN got to a point of suitability to play my DVDs. But I am still very stoked to see Tux Typing compile and work under Win32. I think it's because 1) it means the code is actually platform independent (or, mostly) and 2) it means that some people who have wanted access to this game, but did not have it in the past, now can play it.

Calvin Arndt gave us a Red Hat 7.1 RPM. This is great because since 7.0, we haven't had RH compat. RPMs. As a matter of fact, I think I might leave the brunt of RPM creation to Calvin in the future (certainly would make the releases that much easier for me ;-)

I also went thru and made the KDevelop/SDL integration a bit better. KDevelop has this nasty thing where it doesn't let you use external shell scripts in your build process, and SDL needs to use 'sdl-config' to keep itself platform independent. But I finally figured out what to do to make the two live in harmony... so now Tux Typing should be much easier to port to other OSes. As a matter of fact, I have been tempted to write a mini-HOWTO for it, since KDevelop/SDL integration causes a lot of people problems.

I'm sure there have been other things I've left out, but all these things mean that we will be having our 0.9 release within a week. I'm aiming for next Wed., but will have to let the packagers get their wares to me before I actually do the release... so the date may be delayed.
Video Games
Rented some games recently... so here's some thoughts on them:
Dark Cloud (PS2): This was a pretty neat game. My wife loved it immensely, and has been suffering from withdrawl since we had to return it (I'll have to get it for her someday soon). Great graphics, and awesome gameplay (if a bit on the frugal side.... it takes forever to build up money in the game). At first the random mazes bugged me (did we learn nothing from Fatal Labyrinth for the Genesis?), but they actually are executed really well in Dark Cloud, so you can forgive them.

Warriors of Might and Magic (PS2): I had heard bad things about this game, but wanted to check it out for myself (afterall, I do like the franchise). Is "ick-o-potimus" a word? How about "stench-whore"? If not, after playing this game, they should be. Graphically it does have its moments... but mostly it looks very much like your average PS1 game. The controls are bad (we have analog controls! Use them! If I only press lightly on the stick, I don't expect to burst into a full-on-charge!). The character moves jumpily, and the some of the large rooms cause serious slowdown. The cinemas are horrid... looking very much like leftover ones from the era when 3DO was actually a console. At any rate... avoid this game. If you can get it for less than $10, and like the M&M world... then consider it as you may get a few laughs from it.

Street Fighter Ex 3 (PS2): I was really shocked how much I loved this game. I have enjoyed SF games before... but never this much. Ex3 does great things with the genre, IMHO. The multi-player modes are a blast (and there are so many of them) and the single player games really have a lot of features.

Sega Bass Fishing (DC): Rented this to play with my dad. I was surprised that I liked it. Granted, I felt they should have given the option to use the analog stick as a reel (then again, after the abuse my PS1 controller got from that same thing in another fishing game, perhaps that's not the best idea). Still.. it was a fun game. With this game being so old, and the DC on its slow way out, I'd gladly recommend getting this one, as it ought to be cheap.
Other than that.... I'll be heading to Corbett a little later today to tour their Linux labs (which use Tux Typing). Kind of stoked for that.

2001 Jun 20 (Wed), 22:11 Ack/Rec

This last monday morning at approx. 4am my wife and I were violently awoken by the sounds of gunshots just outside our bedroom window.

A drive-by gang related shooting occured. Our neighborhood was quiet, peacefull... full of retirees ("snow birds".. elderly people who come to tucson for our mild winters). The shooting took place 25 feet away from where my wife and I were sleeping. A man died.

Today the monsoons hit tucson in full force. These monsoons wiped out two of the big beautiful trees in our backyard. One tree wiped out our fence.

I am still unemployed... and things really suck. I know this is no real news... a lot of tech people like me are finding themselves strapped. But pretty much since the accident this last summer (my wife and I were pushed over a cliff by a semi-truck which was on a road with size restrictions) everything has been going really, really bad... Ten months! Ten months of this crap! Between the damned idiotic lawyers who have screwed up our case against the trucking company (how do you screw up a simple case where a truck driving on a road which had "No Semitrucks Allowed" signs posted everywhere pushes a couple OVER A 75 FOOT DROP INTO AN OPEN PIT MINE?!) and the countless recent potential employers who have found my experience "Too Industrial" or "Too Acedemic" (how the hell can you be both?)... and now a violent bloody damned DEATH in my quiet neighborhood, and a violent bloody damned storm that wipes out my favorite two trees and my fence to boot! I CAN'T TAKE IT!

How the hell am I going to pay to repair our fence? Let alone tow off the dead trees? We're flipping late on our damned mortage this month... now we have to deal with this?! How the hell can I protect my wife? Between flying trees and bullets from semi-automatic rifles, how do I do it? In the entire time we've lived here, he never had any troubles until recently...

Tux Typing will be having its 0.9 release this next monday... but at this momment I barely have the strength to type an angry, bitter, frickin' pissed off entry in my damn, son-of-a-bitch diary.

Not doing so good.... probably ought not to be announcing it to the stupid world.... but I can't take this any more. Something is going to give... either things pick up and stop being so shitty... or I dont know what....

2001 Jun 21 (Thu), 09:38 Stink on a Horse

Okay.... a little bit more cheery today. Honestly, all this crap has really taken its toll on me... I find I have a very hard time concentrating any more... But I digress. I think I should avoid making diary entries when I am so down in the future....

Tux Typing as I said will be having its 0.9 release this upcoming Monday. I am presently waiting for the packagers to submit to me their platform ports. I went ahead and added one last patch from Jesse which gives us keyboard and mouse support at the same time (very nice.) Plus, I had to go back and five some more Makefile troubles. But other than these, there really hasn't been much code added between this 0.9test release and the previous CVS snapshot.

Just read today that Gate's called the GPL Pac-Man-Like. Actually surprised about this, because I always though Gates was more eloquent than that (an ass, to be sure, but an eloquent one). Funny... when you consider what their company does to technologies, to have them call the GPL Pac-Man. Isn't that like the extremely large pot calling the extremely cool kettle black?

Anyway.... I'm gonna go get to work... and try to cheer myself up further after all the junk that's hit so hard this week....

2001 Jun 21 (Thu), 09:40 Addendum to Stink on a Horse

Oh, one thing I have failed to mention was how kewl the tour of Corbett was this last weekend. They have some awesome things going on there, and I was totally impressed!

2001 Jun 25 (Mon), 12:09 Snapped'n'Hung

Well.. just had our 0.9 release of Tux Typing! Very, very, very pleased. This cycle was not quite as bad as our last dev cycle (in spite of the fact I was worried it would be ;-). Actually, the dev cycle was very short. Thanks to some great efforts from my core dev team and some patches from others, we managed to solve all the issues we had for 0.9 release, and then some. I am certain we can churn out a 1.x release by August (when all the schools using the game need it to be ready, such as Corbett). Actually, later on today I need to sit down and write up another blocking issue list as well as roadmap as I feel these things really helped us stay focused during this last dev cycle.

Other than that... not a whole heck of a lot. Feeling much better after last week's nastiness (the depressed entry a few entries back). Tomorrow I will be testing for Loki, which will be nice. I'm looking forward to the test. I also would love to work with them (but with my previous experiences these last 6 months I know not to get my hopes up).

Been playing Summoner for the PS2 (too lazy to look up the URL now). The game is by Volition, who I have developed a lot of respect for lately. They made Decsent, and recently Red Faction for the PS2. Summoner was their first PS2 title, and we have had it for a while now. But my wife is yet to play it (it's her game), and I was antsy to try it out after my enjoyment of Red Faction. So I've been playing it for a few days now. Very fun game... too many subquests, tho.... ;-)

2001 Jun 26 (Tue), 09:13 Darn them varmitts!

Okay, yesterday sucked!

Because of a delightful little database problem on SourceForge my latest release of Tux Typing was screwed up. The files are actually there on the site, and I have them correctly linked on Tux Typing's download page.... but the release page on SourceForge still has them listed as "No Files". This wouldn't have been that much of a problem, except it made me miss prime-time on Freshmeat for my announcement.

Also, at some point yesterday I totally wrenched my back... have no idea when or how... all I know is now I hurt.

Anyway... stop bitching, Sam.....

Yesterday I discoverred the horror that is Fugly.com. Surprised they haven't found my infamous "The Picker" image (which I did on purpose... it's a joke). Actually, the image is not as good as the other animal cracker ones I have on my Mug Shots page....