Archive for May, 2004

Don’t you just love the classics?

May 29, 2004

They don’t make the games like the way they used to in the past… Remember all these awesome games from the way back? I was especially fond of the point & click adventure games. They don’t seem to make many of these lately, don’t they?

I mentioned this website before, but I really think the Scummvm project is worth mentioning. Scummvm team wrote an emulator engine which seeks to resurect old LucasArts classics such as Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Islad, Sam & Max and etc… And the best part is that scummvm engine allows you to play these old DOS/Windows classics under linux!

So far the software supports maybe 20 odd games which use the LucasArts SCUMM engine, as well as few other popular non LucasArts games like Simon the Sorcerer. The work is still in progress and new games are frequently added in. I must say this is one of the best emulators for old games I have seen in a while – it integrates with the games engine seemlesly and works like a dream. And it is also great in windows environment, allowing you to run the old dos based games on systems with winXP which do not have real DOS backbone.

Also, scummvm comes with two awesome games which were open sourced by their authors especially for this project: Beneth a Steal Sky and Flight of the Amazon Queen. Both are excelent adventure games, and alot of fun to play. They are avaliable from the scummvm website…

Of course sometimes you would also like to play other old games – for that there is another solution: DosBox. This is also a multi-platform solution that allows you to use old DOS based software in non DOS environment – be it XP or MDK 🙂 It’s not as smooth as scummvm and sometimes you need to tweek the CPU cycles and Frameskip rate to prevent the game from crawling at a less than satisfactory speed – but, most importantly it works 🙂

You might ask where to do I get these old games. Well, for me the best place is Underdogs website. Probably the biggest collection of abandonware and freeware games in existence. Happy hunting…

Btw – not all old games are abandonware. Simon, Samd & Max and Tentacle for example are still copyrighted and freely distributed version are considered WAREZ not Abandonware. underdogs dont have any warez, but other sites do so check before you download 🙂

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Back to blogging…

May 29, 2004

After a short break, I’m here to pick up blogging once again. Incoherent as always, but then again, would you expect anything else from me?

I made the switch and now I’m a fully fledged Linux user. This was a great learning experience so here are few pointers for people who are just preparing to undertake this journey:

For me the first hurdle was partitioning my hard drive. The recent versions of windows use NTFS which preaty much sucks. Why? Because it’s not an open standard, and Open Source Comminity and it is not supported by the standard partitioning tools shipped with most of the current stable Linux distributions. Mandrake 9.2 installer could not touch my NTFS partition even though it was compleately defragmented. The Knoppix tools also could not resize it – and I got the most recent version avaliable…

I was recomended to use Partition Magic made by Symantec – it seems to be hell of a tool actually. It however has one major drawback – it is freekishly expensive. The price ranges from more than $80 to little bellow $40, but it seems that all the low range prices were offered by some very shady internet dealers. I think buying a tool that I will not be using very often, for more than my operating system is absolutely ridiculus (MDK Discovery costs 50 bucks! And since I downloaded set of iso’s my OS costed me exactly $0)!

Fortunately there is a free alternative which works just as well as Partition Magic. I found out that the newest GNU Parted can actually work with NTFS quite well. Of course you have to get the release which is more recent than the one included in Knoppix. Ideally we would want it on some live distro, just like good old knopp – and such an ideal solution does exist. Recent release of SystemRescueCD includes an up to date version of QTParted which is a great GUI app based on Parted. It resized my NTFS partition without any problems whatsoever. I highly recomend getting SRCD even if you do not need to do the partitioning excercise like me, because of all the cool features it includes. I think Knopp and SRCD should be in every emergency cd case out there 🙂

Now, QTParted partition and format your free space into any linux file system – ext2, ext3, swap – etc… I didn’t do that though – I left the space free and allowed MDK installer to do the job and autoallocate the resources for me. I must say that this distribution fully lived up to it’s reputation as one having the most friendly installer software ever! I must say that most windows installs I did in my life haven’t gone half that smoothly! 90% of my hardware was autodetected and configured correctly. Only my scanner didn’t quite make it, but out of laziness I haven’t even attempted to correct that yet.

Now here is an important tip to anyone still using dialup like me – double check your modem! If you have an internal PCI modem then you are preaty much screwed just like me. These things are not really modems – they are simple phone interface cards. All the modem functions are implemented in software – and most of the software drivers are only avaliable for windows… There are drivers out there but they often need work to install and configure correctly. If you are lucky, you will just need to download a package and installit… If you are less lucky you will need to compile it from source… If you do not even know what luck is (like me) you might need to recompile your kernel… Check the linmodems site for details on how to go about getting a winmodem to work on linux…

Preparing for the switch…

May 13, 2004

I just need to do few more things and I will be able to do leave the d0ze world behind… Right now I’m still in the process of backing up all my data (in case instal craps out). Btw, I just noticed that winrar actually packages stuff in 700 MB rarfiles. I’m preaty sure I didnt set that up so it must be a built in feature. That will grately speed up my backup – I’ll just tell winrar to save everything from here, to there and go to sleep 🙂

Next step is to make sure I can recover fom a shitfall during the boot manager instalation… If we crap out at that stage I will be going nuts!

I think I might burn another copy of mandrake just in case mine got some crazy burn-time errors. I really want this to go smoothly, and knowing my luck bad shit allways happens to me in situations like that one.

Hmmm… I wonder if 9.2 comes with any kind of java support? Cause that is the first thing I need there. I’m writing this from Knoppix and it actually has gcj here…

And lets face it, I’m going to be on a dual boot. I still need XP for the newer games, for little .NET projects and to fidle around with AGS – unless I can find a replacement for this, or if I can run AGS from WINE…

Lunch Time Rant…

May 12, 2004
begin rant

Articles such as this one piss me off to no end. Classic piece of FUD produced by some undereducated marketing drones for a near do well company. Pathetic!

Anyone can easily spot that this was neither written by a developer, nor designed for one to read. As usual, FUD is targetted at the clueless management dopes who are ignorant enough to swallow it. Hence, the article makes use of some nice looking percentages, statistics, and picturesque rethoric. People without brain like preaty numbers – especially ones with the % char appended to them. Of course if you actually do have a working brain, you probably already know that any embeded statistical information is useless if taken out of context.

Andas usual, the author does not even bother to try see the case from a developers point of view. Having stuff in public domain is good! IP and patents just do not make any sense in the Software world. Its just grounds for frivolous lawsuits, corporate powerplay. If you are a developer, more often than not you want to share your ideas with others, exchange knowledge and etc…

Information should be free – we should sell products not ideas. This way more attention can be put into creating satisfying end-product rather than a crafty EULA and activation scheme.

Developers benefit from the free exchange of ideas, public benefits because of the avaliability of cheep alternative solutions. Companies benefit because they can cut down on stupid licensing costs and actually invest in producing something usefull…

The only person that does not benefit from free software is some sad prick who has a buggy, sucky, never-updated, overpriced product who claims to holds IP for the if statement or something even more ridiculus…

God, how could we be so blind. All this time we were thinking that IT industry has trouble lately because of the economy crisis, the aftermath of .com boom, and the resulting oversaturation of the IT job market. We were thinking this was just a bad knee-jerk reaction of corporate world to massive budget cuts caused by the recession.

Nope – apparently all of it can be traced to the academic community, and open source enthusiasts who like to share their ideas.

If we only had known earlier that all this trouble was actually caused by free software!

Nasty, stupid FUD! Give me a break…

end rant

Summer Plans

May 11, 2004

Now that my finals are over, and I’m about to graduate and get my BS (for those unfamiliar with academic degrees BS stands for Bull Shit which still wont get you a job in IT) I can have more time to waste. And unlike other wastful summers, this time I actually have a game plan:

First I need to install Linux – i think it’s about time to dual boot my main machine at home. Considering the unhealthy amounts of time I spend working on SPARC machines, and fidling with the live distros, I think I should just get it over with. Right now I’m leaning toward Mandrake 9.2 because that’s the only distro I have on CDs right now.

I’m considering Fedora as well… If it turns out that my CD is one of those that Mandrake tends to fry on spot then I’ll definitely go with Fedora. Both are based on redhat anyway, and both are supposed to have relatively painless, reliable installer…

First I have to do a major backup of all my data in case I get a crap out during partitioning or install. I’ll admit – this will be the first time I will be attempting to set up a dual boot linux system all on my own. So, better safe than sorry…

Other things to do this summer – I’m planning to actually make my eZ Dock project operational, and tweek FEMTO editor some more. I hope to actually turn it into a usable notepad replacement…

And now for something compleately different:

Woha! This thing can hold a pentabyte! Or is that penbibyte?

Personally I do not really like the new prefixes for binary multiples! I think mibibyte and gibibyte sounds really retarded when pronouced out loud. Sure, it’s kinda cool to type MiB or GiB but try to say it out loud without feeling at least a wee bit silly…

On the other hand though, I guess it is the right thing to do – because we geeks were single handedly breaking the SI system…

“No sir, Mega means 1024 not 1000…”

Since memory units are scaled in multiples of 2 (not 10 like everything else in SI) it is kindoff breaking the convention. So I guess new prefixes are a good idea… Still…

Mebibyte??? Come on – try saying it! Me-bi-byte! Sounds ridiculus!

Sigh… Still, that pentabyte machine is preaty awesome!

Apparently feds now track virtual vilans in addition to the real ones!

May 10, 2004

I’m not sure if this is from reliable source but it seems that the feds just went into red alert mode because of terrorist threats of Don Emillo Fulci – a video game character from Headhunter!

How are we supposed to feel safe if these idiots cannot distinguish between a fictional terrorist and a real one? This is just ridiculus…

Making assumptions is the best way to get yourself in trouble…

May 9, 2004

I found this the hard way. Did you know that the exec method from the Java runtime library forks the external app instead of waiting for its termination? Of course I assumed that it doesnt fork, and it took me ages to figure out that this was exactly the eason why my software was not working. Naturally the API is very clear about this – it actually spells it right out in plain english. I just didnt bother to read it, and assumed that sysadmin is an asshole and he put some kind of upper bound on number of ssh/scp connections…

There is actually no direct way to run a process in a subshel with Java – or at least I don’t think so. The best workaround I found is the waitFor() method from Process class. It will actually stop and wait for the termination of a given process. The same class also has exitValue() which I found extremely usefull way to check if the external app craps out or exits naturally.

Leson learned: do not make assumptions – double check everything, and read API carefully. I could have saved myself a major hedache and considerable amout of time if I havent had assumed that all will work just fine…

Software Patents need to go!

May 8, 2004

Patenting software is the most ridiculus concept in existence. I have yet to see ONE benefit of having them. So far they have been extensively used for frivolous, profit oriented lawsuits that never achieve anything…

Kodak is suing Sun over (out of all things) Object Oriented concepts which they patented in 91-93… These are as follows:

Integration of data between typed objects by mutual, direct invocation between object managers corresponding to object types

Multitasking computer system for integrating the operation of different application programs which manipulate data objects of different types


Integration of data between typed data structures by mutual direct invocation between data managers corresponding to data types

To me these sound extremely vague to the point of being incomprehensible. I guess one could apply these to any object oriented product.

We should really get rid of this type of patents. They are not doing anyone any good!

Editor Arguments Suck!

May 7, 2004

I’m reading the April 02 post on scummvm.org and I’m not sure if I should be laughing or weeping… I really don’t get why people get into this type of arguments in the first place. Who cares where the guy puts the curly braces? Personally I think curlies should be placed on a newline and aligned for easy editing, but if someone likes to append them to the end of the line – what’s the big deal?

And if you can’t deal with that, why not write a simple script that goes through the code and puts a newline and some tabs before each curly? Come on, if you are to 1337 to use anything but vi, you can hack a 5 liner that does that!

Of course every project must begin with a huge argument between vi and emacs people. If I use both does that make me a blasphemus, twofaced whore? God forbid I admit to using nano in public – that’s almost worse than being caught masturbating! I wonder what would happen if the guy said he likes notepad – would they spit on him or something?

I understand the geek factor, and the fact that there can be only one true editor but come on. Let’s lay of the kid stuff till the lunch break – if you let placement of curly braces, or editor arguments get in the way of real work, it means you are an idiot. Grow up, and get a clue!

No Grades?

May 6, 2004

I saw a poster at school today which claimed the grade system is unfair for both students and instructors. That we should have a pass/fail system instead. This got me thinking… What kind of retarded idiot came up with that idea? How demented does one really have to be to even make a poster like that?

Pass/Fail system is the last thing we need! I know way to many slackers who cost on D range levels and get a degree without learning anything in their major. Why should we provide an easy ride for these assholes, and take away the main incentive for the people who actually want to do the work? Especially since it is actually not all that hard to keep your GPA close to 4.0 at an average state university like mine. Hey, I did it without even trying all that hard – so it’s not impossible…

Can we please stop whining! There is nothing wrong with the grading system, and if you had actually been to half the lectures, and handed in half of the assignments you would know that!

People piss me off sometimes…