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Archive for June, 2004

Home page

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

www.excastle.com finally has a redesigned home page. Now you can actually tell where one section ends and the next starts. And there’s a link to this blog there now. The advantages of ill-advised-caffeine-induced insomnia.

Jennie’s blog

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

My wife Jennie has a blog now. She just posted about her new job as Imperial Stormtrooper of Dust.

Closing today Friday

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

After several phone calls asking where we were supposed to be for closing and what time we were supposed to be there and how much money we were supposed to bring with us (nobody knew), and several people having quit their jobs and having left paperwork in limbo (and nobody getting told about it), and several people not being told that other people were going to be heading out of town (how do you go out of town and not tell the people you work with?), and several people not being able to get hold of the people who were out of town so they could ask questions about what the heck this receipt was for (arrgh), and several obscure forms of paperwork having to be mail-ordered instead of being available online as PDFs like civilized paperwork (bureaucrats!), and several people not knowing about said waiting period on said obscure forms of paperwork (ack!), and several people swearing up and down that they would call us to let us know about said waiting periods and the consequences thereof (they didn’t)…

…it’s looking like we may close on the house on Friday.

<fingers state=”crossed” />

Installing DirectX

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

So I’m finally trying to install the DirectX Summer (2003) SDK update. The one that’s actually supposed to be usable for writing .NET-based DirectX games. (Oh, you could write ’em before, but you couldn’t legally redistribute the DLLs your customers needed to actually, oh, run the game. Not without significant pain for both the developer and the user. I’ll have to see if they fixed that.)

<grumble frustration=”75%”>

(A year after they originally released this update. You’d think they would have worked out the installer bugs by now, yeah?)

So if you want to install support for debugging DirectX, the installer will totally wipe any customizations you’ve made to the Visual Studio IDE. They do a good job of warning you about it, but I have to wonder who originally made that design decision. (“I know! Let’s piss off all our customers today!” “You mean even more than usual, Fred?”)

The readme warns you to uninstall previous versions of the DirectX SDK before installing the new one, because “Installing on top of a previous installation will cause you problems” (emphasis mine). Of course, they wait until you’re several pages into the readme before they bother mentioning this, which didn’t do good things to my (in retrospect, admittedly ill-advised) strategy of reading the readme while I waited for the installer to run. Guess whether the installer actually bothers to check for old versions of the SDK. Go on, take a guess.

And apparently this version of the DirectX SDK is a monumental regression from the previous DX9 SDK, because according to the readme, “On Windows 2000 or Windows XP, You must be logged on as an administrator before installing the DirectX 9.0 SDK, installing the runtime, using any of SDK tools, or running any of the SDK samples.” Yes. Apparently you can no longer even run the samples if you’re developing under a non-admin account (which I do). Does this mean that users have to run as administrator just to play DirectX games? Were the DirectX programmers all sick when MS was talking about their security push?

Growl. And all for what? The summer release apparently has the exact same version of Direct3D as before. Everything I would ever use is unchanged. (A high-level shading language doesn’t help much when you’re writing a tile-based RPG.)

And I’m not even a tenth of the way through the readme yet. What other exciting revelations lie in store?

Sigh.

</grumble>

Too late, Mr. Jenkins. You were an F7 back at question 2

Friday, June 25th, 2004

This story is worth a read. It’s by someone who used to work in a call center, screening job applicants. Some choice quotes:

My favorite exchange that I had was this:

“Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

“Uhmmm… I’m gonna need to switch phones.”


When I launched into the actual interview, it really pissed them off. They’d get furious that the freaking receptionist had the audacity to waste their time by … And then round about question 5 it would dawn on them that this was the interview.


By the time I got off the phone I wanted to douse myself with bleach and burn the headset. I went to the supervisor’s desk and explained that I’d just spent 20 minutes talking to a convicted child rapist. They said I could take a 15-minute break.

Thanks to Raymond Chen for posting the link.

Quote of the day

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

From Lizard’s blog: “I finally got around to removing the cat of denial from atop the luggage sitting in the hallway of my soul.

Signs of the times

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Inspired by Lizard.

Anonymous methods and collections in Whidbey

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Pretty sweet. Build a new list containing all the elements in another list that meet certain criteria… with a single method call and an anonymous delegate. Passing an anonymous delegate as a comparer to Sort. Building a list that contains some other list’s elements run through some conversion (like Perl’s map function). Nice stuff. Pity about the stylesheet, though…

Thanks to Eric Gunnerson for posting the link.

Being political again

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

The forces of truth, justice, decency, and general sanity are sadly outnumbered, mostly by Fundamentalists who haven’t figured out how to think for themselves.

In other news, there’s unrest in the Middle East, the government is in debt, and there are big orange road cones all over the city of Omaha. Yes, shocking tidings in the news today.

HRC just announced that the so-called “Federal Marriage Amendment” will come up for a vote in the Senate in early July. Per their suggestion, I made substantial tweaks to their template and fired off an e-mail to my senators (to add to the other e-mails, the laser-printed letters, and the six-page hand-written letter).

This is the only political issue I’ve ever gotten active over, which tells you something about how seriously I take it and how disgusted I am with those who want to redefine gays as non-people. I mean, come on. Nobody has ever once been able to explain why they think my marriage would be harmed if a couple I know from church got married… or why gays should be denied everything from tax breaks to child custody rights to health insurance and hospital visitation, or over 1,000 other rights (PDF) that married couples enjoy. There are several studies showing that children of gay couples are just as well-adjusted as children of straight couples. The Bible quotes commonly cited by anti-gay Fundamentalists don’t actually say what the Fundamentalists want you to think they do. Etc.

I’ll keep the rant short today (unless it’s already too late for that…), and not go into civil unions and all that brouhaha. I’ll just leave it as a plea for action. According to HRC, “Members of Congress tell us they’re hearing from the other side by a 10 to 1 margin right now. That’s why your action now is so important.” So if you don’t buy into the load of crap that Dubya and the Fundies are dishing out, go here to e-mail your Senators. HRC is trying to get 250,000 people to participate within the next three weeks. Let’s strike a victory for truth, justice, and the American way — and not let our Constitution be consumed in the fires of brimstone. (Hey, I like the sound of that.)

Hmm… “Dubya and the Fundies” would make a good name for a band…

AVI Editing Library

Monday, June 14th, 2004

Boy, what I wouldn’t have given to have found this AVI-editing library a couple of years ago. Build AVIs frame-by-frame, extract frames from an existing AVI, change compression, add sound, remove sound… wow. Comes with a sample app that lets you do all that from a GUI, or you can do it all from code.

The library is written in C#, but since Delphi is limited to AVIs for animation, the sample app would make a great utility for Delphi UI developers. (.NET programmers can just use animated GIFs…)


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