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Journal Journal: My _geeky_ Christmas Wishes

Everyone has "I wish I had this" wishes for Christmas (well, even if you don't celebrate Christmas). Some are impossible to have ("peace on Earth"...), while others are too simple to have ("I want a new pair of <insert something cheap here>").

But some defy categorisation. Like my geeky Christmas wishes, about technologies 99.9% couldn't care less about, for well justified reasons.

So, here's my list:

  • A full-featured Jabber client for Mac OS X. Psi is pretty close, but it's now very well with Mac OS X (being a Qt program), and you still can't browse conference rooms in a server. I have my hopes on Nitro, but the project has just started. I might be able to help Dave Smith in a month or two.
  • The fight about Gnutella2 should stop. Really. Take an example on Jabber.
  • Finally, anything close to some ideas I had in ANet about having distributed, P2P browseable file listing uploaded à la NNTP each file being a key* in a Freenet. And not in Java. Is it really that difficult? It could almost be coded in Perl...
    * Well, each file could be broken up into 256KB blocks to avoid abuse of uploading montruously large files that would put the network in a crawl. So each file is a list of key indexes.

Well, that wasn't a big list...

OK, I'll add another item for next year's resolutions: "Make my Geeky Christmas Wish List bigger"...

- Benad

User Journal

Journal Journal: Again, but now with the commentary track

3.5 hours * 5 + 5 hours, that's 22.5 hours, the time it took me to go through all the contents of the LotR Extended Edition DVDs. I did it.

Let's just say I'm maybe too prepared for the Two Towers next week. Well, except reading the book.

I took the habit with DVDs to always look at its entire contents before watching any other DVD, which in that case almost drove me nuts. The reason is that the amount of movie "know-how" put in there for the public is rather fascinating.

Remember, I study in Software Engineering. While the amount of knowledge about algorithmics (is that word spelled correctly?) and theories about computation is now, after over 50 years, rather large, the actual "let's build some software" part is still... uh... ad-hoc. Well, at least 99% of the time.

That's why when Lucas Arts (the "Factor 5" development group, actually) added an audio commentary track to "Battle for Naboo" on N64 and "Rogue Squadron 2" on GameCube, plus a "behind the scenes" video in RS2, I was drooling. They even made the "postmortem report" public here!

To think about it, even with all the recent explosion in popularity in video games in the past 5 years, its techniques for developing games is to what was making movies in 1920. There's maybe 10 people in the world that are really good making games, and they do so by "gut feeling"...

Video games are now big, very complex pieces of software. Your "average" Unreal 2 has the complexity of what was a complete Operating System ten years ago. Your "average" MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) is a spectacularly complex distributed game engine.

And it's still either totally "ad-hoc", or the rare people that know anything about how to make games "properly" don't tell anyone.

So please do like Factor 5 and make public some of the "know-how" you used. Everyone wins when you do this, and at least you earn my respect. Or... simply re-release the game, a "special edition", packed with "extra" features for the fans! It worked with DVDs...

- Benad

Games

Journal Journal: Infinite Energy! 2

Now, this may not look like it, but this is a rant. The first (and maybe only) cheating device for GameCube (ActionReplay, usually more popular in Europe) should come out in January. Should. And it's one of those crappy "you can't make your own codes" kind of devices, but I'm stuck with that 'cause the GameShark for NGC project was canned. Joy.

Now, I know some people hate cheating devices since they can be used to cheat on online games. But then, blame the game developers to have a security model where you fully trust the console client. Duh.

While a cheating device basically only changes memory values, this alone makes it possible, to some level, to legally reverse-engineer a game. From a "want-to-be" video game conceptor and software engineer, this is a gold mine of "know-how" I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.

Some of you familiar with emulation engines and the excellent cheating system of MAME might expect something similar in console cheating devices. Well, except for the ones of the "GameShark" series, you're wrong. Dead wrong.

Go to codejunkies.com, the makers of the ActionReplay, and dare look at the codes. We're all expecting memory location - value pairs, but those numbers seem... random. Well, you guessed it, they're encoded. Some kind of crazy checksum is embedded to each code. It may not be as difficult as, let's say, trying to crack Animal Crossing codes, but even if you do crack the "code"... You still can't search the memory yourself!

Please, please let them have any competition that allow you to make your own codes... I'd really want to put some of those PPC assembly skills to practice!

- Benad

Games

Journal Journal: Square + Enix = ... (brain explodes)

Take $764M from Enix, buy Square with that, and what do you get? The biggest merger in video games' history (news report here). Forget the $250M+ when Microsoft bought Rare, that's nothing.

As usual, there's a lot of speculation here. But two things are for sure:

  1. Square and Enix development teams will continue working more or less the same way as before.
  2. The exclusivity contracts with Sony will have to be re-negotiated.

OK. Both these are true, and not any kind of "speculation" you will usually find on the Web. BUT, read between the lines...

Right now, there's only one market for console RPGs: the "casual" gamer, the core (20M+) of the PS2 market. You make a "good" game that market likes, you're rich. The same game, but they don't like it that much? It's a flop, you're losing tons of money. This is basically a "hit-or-miss" situation.

Read between the lines... They'll do anything to diversify their own market. Including that "Game Designer's Studio" scam: creating a subsidiary company, funded by Nintendo's "Fund Q", to be able to make Final Fantasy games on GameCube and to avoid exclusivity contracts with Sony. And the game "Kingdom Hearts" is another good example of how they want to "diversify" their products.

But then, that "other" market is there? Hmmm... XBox? No. That's the same market as Sony's, and we all know how much the Japanese market loves the XBox...

Hmmm... I wonder where the other, "old school", SNES-like market is...

Read between the lines...

- Benad

Games

Journal Journal: Capcom's going crazy!

Let me explain. Five "mature" games. For (and maybe exclusively) the GameCube. Not "revolutionary" games; only "moderate budget", good, original games. You know, in that big gap between those hundred of crappy games and those monstruously high-budget ones (Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid 2, Metroid Prime, Zelda GC) that half of the time simply suck gameplay-wise (guess which ones in my list).

I haven't seen that since the SNES. Cross that. Super Monkey Ball. Cross that. Mario Sunshine. Uhh...

...

Well, OK, I was just hyped up by the quality of the design. If they use that music for "Viewtiful Joe's" introduction, I'll consider it one of the best intros ever made, alongside Super Metroid and MegaMan 2. And if Killer 7 even remotely looks like that in the final game, I'll buy it just to thank the design team to have the guts to do something original like that.

I can barely concentrate now, and listening to that trance music doesn't help much. Time to go.

- Benad

Games

Journal Journal: "Viewtiful Joe"... Huh?

If you have some time, look at Capcom japanese web site for GameCube here (don't miss the video trailer downloads), and an interview with Shinji Mikami here.

Yes. 5 games, exclusively for GameCube, and they're not "kiddie" at all.

Since I basically spent my day on the 3rd LoTR DVD and looked at the new trailer, I'm pretty tired. So I'll get in more detail about the new Capcom games tommorow...

- Benad

Apple

Journal Journal: The "Mac Guy"

You guessed it, from my use of a "mac.com" email address, I'm a "Mac guy". But it can be explained.

First off, I find most Microsoft products to be simply terrible and not worth my money. That alone made me, and my whole family, not considering bying a "Wintel" machine. Simply put, I consider Apple products, both software and hardware, to be of higher quality than the competition's (Microsoft, Dell, Gateway...).

But that didn't stop me from discovering the "joys" of UNIX operating systems. So, obviously, I started discovering the "power of UNIX" with Linux. But, as so many of us "computer geeks" know, you don't let your whole family/girlfriend use Linux alone, much less install software on their own. As a result, I had 3 OS at the same time on our PowerMac G4: Mac OS 9, a "beta" version of Mac OS X and Linux.

Well, as soon as I "discovered" that Mac OS X is a UNIX OS and that most, err all the UNIX software that I use was ported on it, the move was obvious.

It may not be the most popular OS out there (ahem Windows), it may not have the whole GNU philosophy behind (though Apple's motto is quite impressive), but...

Mac OS X 10.2, that I'm using right now, from a pretty active experience in sofware and programming for the past 10 years, is easily, the most easy to use, powerfull (for both end users and programmers), stable and elegant operating system I ever used. Back at Mac OS 9, it was mostly a matter of "taste". Now, it's the matter of using something "way ahead" of the competition.

...

I could go on and on about this subject, but it boils down to one thing:
If Macs didn't exist, I wouldn't be using computers today, even less making software engineering my profession.

And to this day Apple is still convincing me.

- Benad

Slashdot.org

Journal Journal: Why Slashdot?

So... Why am I "wasting" so much time on slashdot in the first place?

Actually, excluding this journal, I spend an average of 20 minutes per day on this site, which is, for my standard, a lot.

I always view this as the utlimate web message board, even if it really isn't. While the topics are often too... geeky for me (as if I care about the release of a new Linux kernel version), what's "funny", and sometimes informative, here are the replies.

That's why I don't reply a lot (look at my posting history), since I basically spend my time ready other people's posts. Not that I don't have any opinion on things, on the contrary, but it's a bit like the "Jerry Springer Show": far more interesting to watch than to be in there. (Well, not that Slashdot is *that* bad; the Penny-Arcade is *really* bad, and was even worse in those "Pit of Hate" days...)

Also... the Apple section is starting to be good compared to Macslash... Maybe it's because CmdrTaco is starting to like Macs... Maybe...

Yes, I'm a "Mac guy". But that's the subject of Thursday/Friday's entry...

- Benad

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Journal's Genesis...

So... Here it goes.

Why am I wasting my time writing this? Is this some kind of twisted ego-trip? A waste of valuable disk space?

Well, this is for me a "reference document"; a single-link reply for all "here's my full opinion on this matter". And a place where the rare people that know me can glance at my current state of mind over time. (That was a twisted sentence...)

As you can see in yesterday's "messages to self", I'm still in the testing phases of this journal.pl "thingny".

By the way... Why am I using Slashdot's Journal system anyways, instead of some other Web Log (blog) system?
It's free, but others are. And I'm using this site so much in text-only browsers I'm going to pay for the ads I'm missing anyways, so it's not really free for me(more on this on another day). Simply, it's pretty stable (compared to some no-name blog site), so it's not going down / being hacked next week. And they wouldn't mind much if I post my stuff through some Perl/Emacs/curl combination, 'cause it's browser-friendly (I'm not forced to use IE with Java Script). And I can always post while I read Slashdot, i.e. almost every day.

So... , I still need to do some Perl script for this, and only then I'll have proper spell-checking. But at least it started.

The genesis has finished. Uh... The end of the beginning. Uh... The "t" of "start".

... You get the idea... (If you don't know, that's my catch phrase.)

- Benad

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: FIRST POST!!! YEAH!!! 5

Hehe... I had to do this...

Hey, if you're reading this, either:

  • You're lost;
  • You know me, and you're bored.

So, if you're still there... Hi! (long silence...)

(Note to self: stop using the word "either". It can piss off people that don't know what it means, or don't understand the concept of "exclusive or". And this the worst inside joke I can make anyways.)

- Benad

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