Thu, 29 May 2003
Comic Book Dollhouse

You can only find this stuff by hitting random weblinks, really. The masters thesis of Chaim Gingold:

Comic Book Dollhouse (CBD) is an authoring tool and for making and playing simple interactive comics.

Scroll down for the Mac/PC downloads of the CBD software. Be sure to read the readme before plowing right in (the advice in there is short, but very useful).

Completely aside: I never seem to ever just randomly websurf to porn sites. With all the constant raving about protecting our kids from randomly finding sites that will harm their developing mind/soul, I've yet to have my random weblink following ever lead to such a site...

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Wed, 28 May 2003
OSX - both blessing and pain

I've come to loathe some of the aspects of OSX as I've used it for the last few months. Reliance on the mouse (oh to be able to alt-tab through windows) and the f*ked manner in which the standard Mail package identifies attachments (ie. everything is application/octet-stream!) are at the top of the list.

On the other hand, there are some really quite brilliant applications available for OSX. OmniGraffle is the best structured graph drawing package I've ever used (and I've tried many ;). I've also just discovered Hydra, a collaborative text editing program that effortlessly shares a text editing session amongst multiple users. Sadly, it's not likely to be much real use to us until they make it usable beyond a LAN.

I've also used OmniOutliner a bit, and have written an OPML → PythonPoint XML → PDF slide presentation script. Whee! :)

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Tue, 27 May 2003
A cat disguises itself as the sheep.

"Sheep transformation set". Or... "I am a frog." As they say on the site, "it is finished to the pop impression"...

No, I'm not sure either...

Thanks, anthony. Really.

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Mon, 26 May 2003
Æther, the final frontier...

This could be a lot of fun...

These are the voyages of Her Majesties Æther Ship Dauntless. Our mission, to explore romantic new worlds, seek out life, and expand civilization, to boldly go where no gentleman has gone before.

The universe of Steam Trek tries to create a vision of a fictional future using the palette of Victorian Steampunk applied to the canvas of the Star Trek universe.

I played a "Victorian Steampunk" single-session roleplaying scenario a number of years ago, and quite enjoyed it. Nice to see the concept is very much still alive :)

via Adam Vandenberg

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Freelancer, a brief review

A while ago, I gushed about a game that looked extraordinarily pretty - sadly most of the image links don't work any more. This one does :)

I've now played it for a couple of weeks (around 50 hours or so) and it's definitely very, very pretty. The gameplay is pretty well done too. It just doesn't quite work...

Did I mention that it's pretty? I have a brand-spanking 1.5GHz processor and GeForce4 video card, with oodles of memory, so it runs like a dream.

The control system is simple, and semi-realistic. You point the ship the direction you wish to go, and it goes there. You turn the engines off, and you coast. You just have to imagine there's a really complex system of thrusters and the controls make sense :)

It has some potential for modding by enthusiastic players. One mod fixes battleship weapons (ramping up their power, speed and range), adds battleships and cruisers to random encounters, adds missions to destroy them. Makes collisions really damaging (I believe smaller ships will be destroyed if you cruise into an asteroid). Weapons etc. are much more expensive.

I've found that the exploration is fun - there's quite a few nice things to discover in the very large universe of Freelancer. Quite often discovering some things (like derelicts) can be quite dangerous (they're derelicts for a reason ;)

The designers don't seem to have a good grasp on scale. Planets, space stations and to some degree battleships are too small. Planets are far too close together.

The trade lanes defy all laws of physics and are just plain annoying (more on this below).

Everything (fighter, freighter, battleship) travels at the same maximum speed (either "slow" or "cruise")! To emphasise the stupidity of this, there's a race in the single-player storyline, and the only way you win this is for the opponent to mysteriously stop dead near the end of the race!

The above two issues combine to make travelling around quite annoying. There's a lot of docking with trade lanes and jump holes that break up long distance travels and makes them quite tedious. One particularly good trade run has to travel through 7 systems. I don't mind the jump holes so much but to get between them there's a lot of travelling at the crawling "cruise" speed, but sometimes there's trade lanes to speed things up. Except you have to fly to them, dock, wait for the end, fly to the next lane, dock, wait, ... etc. About 10 times for one trip. It gets tedious.

So if you find the trading boring (understandably) there's not much interest down the other career path - the limited for-cash missions you fly outside the story. They all consist of flying to some grid point and destroying everything you find there. Oh, hold me back. Modders are working on this, but the really interesting story missions (eg. protecting a convoy) aren't available outside the story. This is a great shame.

I haven't played the multiplayer game yet. I can't see the point.

path: /games | permanent link |
Mon, 12 May 2003
Python Mini-conf at 2004

The nice people a Linux.Conf.Au are looking at having a Python mini conference. I'm in :)

path: /python | permanent link |
Fri, 09 May 2003
Finally, Roundup 0.6 has made it out the door...

It's taken a while longer that I'd hoped, mostly because I've changed jobs recently. It's out now though, bringing a host of new features (and bugfixes of course):

Big thanks to everyone who's helped with this release!

path: /python | permanent link |
Wed, 07 May 2003
RSS - the "define your own" specification ...

I've added more people to the list for the Python Programmer Weblogs aggregation page, but alas yet again most of their RSS feeds are disabled. Usually this is because their RSS items don't contain publication dates or the dates are in some format that pyblagg's simplistic parser can't cope with. The result is that their items float near the top of the page.

I'm looking into RDF and the like a little more seriously these days, since it's related to my work. I have to say that while RDF is well-defined, the actual information RDF can be used to describe is very much a moving target :) One of these days I'll read the actual RSS specs so I can make an informed statement in the pyblagg code as to what a date really should look like :)

I'll probably have to mandate that we use RSS 1.0 with the Dublin Core Module. That's probably being too restrictive though...

Anyway, it'll happen when I find some more spare time, possibly after I release a new version of Roundup, which has been pending for ... well, far too long. Sometime after I've grown tired of playing with my recent birthday present, Freelancer. Yes, it's every bit as pretty as I'd hoped. Unfortunately, the gameplay isn't as extensive as I (and a lot of other players) would have liked. Fingers crossed for an update release with more varied mission types...

path: /stuff | permanent link |
Fri, 02 May 2003
On downloading TV shows

The Guardian has an article talking about the downloading and sharing of television shows online.

First the music industry was hit by pirates. Now it's the turn of the TV giants, as fans swap whole series online.
Now, within 24 hours of a show being broadcast in the US, people on the other side of the world can see it, too. Dedicated fans of shows such as 24, Friends, Buffy, The Sopranos and many other hit series are using this software.

Rachel and I download Buffy and Angel as soon as someone in the US has made it available. Why? Because we're dedicated fans of two of the best-written television shows currently airing, and we're sick of having the show spoilt by various parties before we get a chance to see them here. US-based media, the local broadcaster (yes, in their "promo" shown just before the show airs, they'll tell us how the episode ends), random people in a cafe who've read the US-based media. They all seem to conspire to tell us that "major character X is going to die" months (or in the case of the local broadcaster, moments) before we get to experience the story unfold. It's like them announcing the conclusion to the latest thriller novel before bookstores here get a chance to stock them.

The quality is sometimes apalling, yes. That's why we buy the DVD (or bought the videos before they started putting out DVDs) when it's released too :) We'd certainly buy the DVDs for the entire current series of Angel and Buffy right now if offered the chance.

(via whedonesque)

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