Richard Jones' Log

Fri, 30 Jan 2004
Abbey, smiling

Abbey's been smiling for a while now. Thought I'd share :)

category: News | permanent link
Wed, 21 Jan 2004
Usually it's easier than this ...

On the roundup-users mailing list we're been helping out a guy who'd had some troubles getting started. To be honest, things were a little weird. I'd even gotten to the point of asking whether basic things were working (the bundled demo, what browser was he using, that sort of thing). Then I get this update:

Now for how we fixed this. A short while ago my daughter jumped up from her computer, very excited, yelling that her monitor was on fire. I smelled smoke so hit the EPO (otherwise known as the button on the master power strip here). There was a liquid on the side of the monitor and a cat on the table. When I brought the systems back on-line I was able to create issues, and admin could look at user lists, etc. So it seems I owe the resolution of these problems to a cat ruining my monitor.

Ah, life!

Note that normally users don't have to sacrifice electrical equipment to get Roundup going.

category: News | permanent link
Mon, 19 Jan 2004
Hee hee... "Roundup Rocks!"

Another satisfied user :)

category: News | permanent link
Pyblagg updated (finally)

I've updated the python programmer weblogs aggregator config with new entries from the wiki page, and fixed some broken old ones. And disabled the RSS feeds that don't include dates and therefore don't play well with the aggregation ;) And despite the wiki asking people to append their entry to the bottom of the page, some people still decided to insert themselves (rather randomly, as far as I can gather) in the middle-ish. Ho hum.

Yet another entry off the longish personal to do list that's been piling up over the last couple of months :)

category: Python | permanent link
Weblog archive pages fixed

I've finally fixed the archive pages for this weblog. Nothing to see, move along :)

category: Noise | permanent link
Sat, 17 Jan 2004
Destruction Derby Arenas (PS2)

I've been a fan of the Destruction Derby franchise since the first effort on the PS1 (which I still own, and ... boy is it dated :)

The latest effort, Destruction Derby Arenas (DDA) is a bit of a mixed bag. DD2, the second PS1 outing, improved on the first game by introducing longer tracks for racing, jumps, more interesting arenas and new play modes. DDA introduces new races / arenas, much prettier graphics, car upgrades, and more ways to get points from tricks and crashes.

Points in DD games are everything, as the most points wins a round. In this new version, points are achieved through spinning opponents just like the old times. Now though, you also get points for style - controlled skids, driving on two wheels and spins, flips and barrel rolls in the air. Additionally, aggresive driving is recognised and rewarded, so forcing opponents into the barrier, or landing on them also nets points. Points are also awarded for destroying parts of the environment.

Some of the new race environments are interesting - mostly in their prettiness. The new arenas are very nice. Some have bits of floor that flip cars into the air (quite fun ;) and another has a drop-off edge around the arena that encroaches as the round progresses (also fun to push the other cars over the edge - lots of points awarded for that too ;)

The crashing is damn fun :) The damage system is improved, as bits of the cars fall off (or are forcibly rammed off) ... doors with busted latches swing out as you take corners, and so on. Nice little touches like that.

In all other respects though, DDA seems to be a step backwards from DD2 - the races are shorter and there's less play modes. Racing and arenas are the only modes if you're not online - I guess the uptake of the online service isn't going well. One of the more fun DD2 modes was a "survival" game in the arena where all the other cars aim at you and you see how long you last. It was a hoot, as generally it was over in a minute or two, and friends could pass the controller around to see who could last the longest. This mode is now online-only. A damn shame.

In terms of the racing, I admit I might be a little influenced here by the awesome length and breadth of the racing tracks in SSX3. The races in DDA just seem bland and a little boring. The tracks are short (often just a simple figure-8) and with the exception of one track, there's no shortcuts or alternative paths to take.

The car upgrades could've been left out - they're completely linear, with no choice by the player as to what to upgrade. Bleah.

Another potential peeve: I've played the game through three times as different "characters", and have yet to unlock one of the arenas and one of the race tracks. Doesn't look like these are available in single-player mode. I'm going to keep at it though - and see whether an FAQ appears with the answer to unlocking them...

The verdict? The crashing is damn fun :) If DDA was a snowboarding game, it'd get 3 uber tricks out of 5.

Wed, 07 Jan 2004
More US paranoia

On the back of the articles I linked to yesterday, it would seem that to travel to the US in the near future:

  1. I'll need a visa, where previously as a citizen of one of 27 "waiver" countries I didn't have to.
    Studies estimated that without the visa waiver system, the United States would lose at least $US10 billion to $US15 billion ($A13.05 billion to $A19.58 billion) in visitor revenue each year.
  2. I'll no longer be able to queue for the toilet on any flight into the US.
    The chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, Warren Bennett, said the decision bordered on American paranoia. He said it would place "enormous stress" on flight crew.

    "Passengers are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand they are advised to move around an aircraft during flights for health reasons but now they are being told not to congregate. It doesn't make sense," he said.

Land of the free, home of the brave.

category: News | permanent link
Freepers on Parade: the Best of 2003
category: News | permanent link
Tue, 06 Jan 2004
Bob Harris compares Sydney to America

Sydney: like a Prisoner episode, but better by Bob Harris:

It's an amazing thing to suddenly sit in open air, free of the assumption of guilt.
The next morning, the TV in my hotel showed Tom Ridge clenching his face into a smile and reassuring all of America that a) they were about to blow up, and b) they should go about their business.

Bob's travel journal is a fun read, if you have some spare moments.

Update: Later in the day I read another article comparing Australian and American lifestyles, more on the issue of terror. They are afraid, very afraid by Olga Lorenzo:

Children don't play outside after school as they once did; while we were there, the sounds on our block came from my Australian teenagers. "Why must they be outside?" my mother lamented. "Why not?" I asked. She admitted there was no real reason to keep them in.
Going by "terror alerts" emitted by the Government and seized by the media, it would seem that terrorists have succeeded in frightening a nation.

I'm so glad I don't live in America.

category: News | permanent link
Sat, 03 Jan 2004
What I've been up to

Happy New Year to all!

  • Life with Abbey continues to be fun, frustrating and tiring. She's recently learnt to get to sleep on her own though, which has reduced the stress levels around the house no end!
  • I've been amusing myself re-learning parts of pygame, tooling around with user interface for a game I've been hacking in spare time. I've recently realised though that I don't need a fully-featured, generic widget set just to get the game going, and that's been liberating. It's meant I've been able to get back into the more fun side (ie. the actual game interface itself) with the other boring user interface bits being handled by command-line controls :)
  • I upgraded my desktop to Mandrake 9.2. This fixed a lot of weird little glitches that I was running into due to my extensive hand-patching of the 9.1 installation. My KHTML views don't have the unnecessary horizontal scroll bars now! (KHTML is used in Konqueror, Kopete, ... and had a bug in its resizing algorithm) Unfortunately, the Mandrake people repackaged the KDE bits, so after the upgrade a bunch of KDE apps weren't installed because they had their own packages now (kmail, konsole, and a few others). An upside was that I had to re-install PyQt - and there's Mandrake-compatible RPMs now, no recompiling of Qt!
  • I've also found this urpmi config helper quite useful.
  • On the laptop front, KDE-on-OSX has come closer and has been all over the news. Buried in the noise though, was the cool info that the OSX theme for Qt has made significant progress.
  • I've been taking a lot of digital photos of the sky under various conditions (sunset, wispy cloud, puffy cloud...) and using the resulting large collection of images as desktop backgrounds. I generally don't see much desktop with my window usage, but it makes a pleasant change from the standard Mandrake/KDE theme. The digital camera was also put to good use in producing our beagle2mas gift for relatives. Taking this photo with the SLR would've been a nightmare, as the lighting was very difficult to get right.
  • Eyesore of the month, for something completely different :)

category: News | permanent link